Unclaimed Baggage is our personal story about Martha, our mother, and her journey through life and ultimately through Alzheimer’s disease. Our account is told in snippets of anecdotes from our mother’s perspective as well as other family members’ perspectives.
As we begin our narrative, we are driving our mother to the Assisted Living Facility that we collectively agreed was where she needed to be. Continue reading →
Last night I lit a Yahrzeit candle for my father, who’s been gone for two years. And I decided, at the last second, that rather than sing a traditional prayer, I’d just sing a few lines from one of his favorite Broadway tunes. It made me smile in a moment that was otherwise sad.
Like many, my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s was a long and gradual one, but that did not make it easier for him, and it didn’t make it easier for all of the people who loved him. We had to say goodbye over and over as parts of who he had been vanished like color from a beloved garment, never to be restored. Continue reading →
Love in the senior years: A true inspiration to me. My parents are married over sixty years as of this writing. Sixty years of ups and downs, good health and bad, happiness and sadness. But one thing remains: a steadfast love. It is this love that inspired me to write; theirs, and another couple: my husband’s elderly aunt and uncle. Continue reading →
My mother, Vera, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in October of 2006. That was the day my world changed – forever. I will never forget (or is that statement actually true?) the day I received the phone call. “Mrs. Howell, I am calling to tell you your mother has dementia.” The doctor lacked bedside manner, and he assured me he could call in medications that would make Momma better. Continue reading →
My parents raised four children in a small community located near Charlotte, NC where they were active in social and church affairs. Jim coached Little League and Rusty directed the polling place in our precinct. My siblings and I grew up, went to school, and made life-long friends there. But then, gradually, negotiating the complexities of social interactions became more difficult for Mom and Dad and they withdrew from the activities they once enjoyed. Continue reading →
I grew up in in the mountains of New Mexico in a roadside attraction built by my father.
With the exception of, “I love you,” I have probably spoken this one sentence more than any other. I defined myself as the daughter of Ross Ward, the man who created Tinkertown Museum.
I did not mean to write a book. After my father died from complications of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, I sat down with my journals to try to understand what had happened to me and to my family in a five-year period that began just before I turned thirty. Continue reading →
It can get lonely carrying on with this job that most people think I must be a “little strange” to be doing. “You’re a hospice chaplain? Isn’t that morbid to be doing that?” Someone felt my going so far as to write a book about it was downright peculiar and distasteful. But with my front-row seat at Act Three Scene Three of people’s lives, I keep getting intimate glimpses of what hospice patients are pondering, remembering, laughing Continue reading →
In the late 1990s, I joined a writers’ group. The rules were simple: “Bring three pages, double-spaced, to read. Ask for the critique you want.” I wanted to write, not just think about writing.
I wrote and shared a story about a trip my sister and I made to visit our mother in Southern California. It had been an odd time and we were still trying to make sense of it. Writing helped. I kept writing, especially about funny conversations I had with Mom. Continue reading →
I was twenty-four years old when I became a caregiver for my grandpa. I left my old life and moved in with my grandparents to care for my Grandpa in his journey through Alzheimer’s. There at the very start of my journey, fresh in that new place of life, I sat down and began with the following email to my family: Continue reading →
In June, Geri Taylor spoke in front of participants of my first-ever Move for Minds Alzheimer’s fundraising and fitness event. Move for Minds took place at Equinox Sports Clubs in six different cities across the United States, and Geri Taylor spoke to the group in New York about living with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Taylor was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012. Upon learning about her diagnosis, Taylor sought support from her therapist about her diagnosis however, she was not expecting to hear what the therapist would tell her. Taylor said that the therapist “tried to convince me that the diagnosis was incorrect.” When the therapist did finally give Taylor some advice, it was to “Tell No One!” Saying if she shared the news, people would back away from her life. Continue reading →