Heartbroken and Confused


I’d really planned to have a tribute to mothers everywhere today, in honor of Mother’s Day, but when I got to my grandparents’ house after church, my heart broke and it’ll take years to put the pieces back together. My mom, dad and sisters came out to get me, and they told me that my grandfather had passed away. I’ve been numb and in a daze all day, and want this damn nightmare to end and my grandfather to call me and tell me he loves me.

Of course, I know he’s in a better place and isn’t suffering from Alzheimer’s disease anymore. But that can never take the pain away. I’ll be away from the blog for a few days, I need to take care of family first… But I wanted to re-post something I wrote a couple years ago. It sums up everything I’m feeling and so much more. I can just see my grandfather now, on his green John Deere tractor, plowing God’s back forty.

I love you grandpa and miss you so much. Have a bowl of peach ice cream for me in Heaven with Andy and Barney, would you?

The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”

Advertisements

Christmas Cakes and Alzheimer’s Disease


Christmas. Who doesn’t look back on it with great memories? I have many.

I have memories of going to Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve and then waking up to the most amazing Santa presents ever. I got an E.T. cuddly toy one year. He still lives, though these days with my niece and nephew.

Then of course there’s the Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings! My mom would start making them for weeks before Christmas. She was kind of famous for them and made them for several aunts and uncles. It became their Christmas present from my mom.

I remember when I lived in England and came home one year for Christmas with my English boyfriend. We got up early Christmas Day. I made him breakfast and coffee, then my mom went over to him with a bottle of Baileys and a bottle of Jameson, and asked him which one he wanted a shot of in his coffee. For breakfast! He thought I had the best mom ever…

Nowadays, Christmas is a little different because my mom has Alzheimer’s Disease. This is the third Christmas we are heading into in the world of Alzheimer’s, although we started to notice the differences in her a few years before. My mom cooked dinner every Christmas, and our house was a busy place because we had a steady flow of visitors. Now that I think about it, my mom was a pretty popular person.

One year, mom wasn’t much interested in cooking the dinner. I was still living at home at the time, so I stepped up to the plate and cooked. Mom helped some with the meat and the trimmings. I had no concept of servings, though, and when my sister and her family arrived, they were like, “How many people are you cooking for?”

A year later, dinner got moved to my sister’s house, and as is now the Christmas tradition in our family, I drive to my parents’ on Christmas morning and get them to go to my sister’s to spend the day. My sister, brother-in-law and I will decide who’ll be the designated driver, and that person will take my parents home that evening.

Since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, we take it one year at a time. The first year, not a lot changed (we received the diagnosis in November). This year, it’s very different. I need to be up early (well, even earlier if I want to get a Christmas morning run in. I’m running the Boston Marathon in April for Alzheimer’s). I have to get over to my parents to help my mom get dressed.

My dad, who takes care of my mom full-time, does it on a daily basis, but we bought mom a nice new outfit for Christmas Day, so I need to get over and make sure Pops knows where it all is. 

Mom comes from a big family, and they all still buy each other Christmas presents. So I also need to be there, to open all the presents with my mom, so we know exactly what she got and from whom.

Mom gets a lot of Christmas cards, too. I stayed over one night, and the first one arrived the next morning. It was from one of my cousins in Australia, who sends my mom a card every year. But on this morning, my mom got confused and upset because she didn’t know who these people were and why they were sending her a card. I tried to explain that it was her sister Maura’s son, and she seemed to udnerstand, but then she said, “Well, why are they sending me a card NOW? Do they think I’m going to die?” It was a tough day. I needed to make sure my mom was okay, but I also had to get to work. All a part of life’s juggles.

We’ll go to my sister’s for dinner and then between us, we’ll do our best to give my mom a good day. My niece and nephew are brilliant with my mom, so like last year, they’ll take turns to show her what they got from Santa Claus. We’ve learned to try and keep it simple and not bombard my mom with too much.

Mom will be a little bit out of her comfort zone, since she’s not in her own house, but she visits my sister once a week, so she kind of knows it.

I can’t predict how the day will go. No one can, when dealing with Alzheimer’s. We always plan the day beforehand, but we’ll have to see how the day pans out…

We heard about my mom’s diagnosis on a Wednesday, and initially my world fell apart. I was working late when I got the call. I work in a male-dominated industry and went to the ladies’ room and sobbed for about half an hour. I got in the car and sobbed the whole way home. When I got home, I opened a bottle of wine (I’m pretty big into my training and nutrition, so I don’t drink during the week). I called my sister to talk through it; she’d opened a bottle of wine, too. Then I called my mom and dad. Mom had opened a bottle of wine, too. Hey, we’re Irish.

The next few days, I looked like a nut as I cried my way through my runs. Through my running, I processed.

Since I only take care of my mom part-time, I visit my parents every Sunday and every Tuesday. I stay over on Tuesday nights. We are in our routine now, but I had some challenges when we were first starting. Saturday night was a big night on my social calendar. I really don’t like drinking and driving, and don’t even like driving with a hangover. Before my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, if I wasn’t too hungover, I visited my parents most weekends, but if I was too hungover, I’d call and say I wasn’t coming. After my mom was diagnosed, I learned the importance of maintaining a routine for an Alzheimer’s patient, so as time progressed, my Saturday nights out changed.

On Tuesdays the biggest challenge for me was ensuring I got out of work early. I have a flexible job and can mostly come and go as I please, but sometimes something can come up and I can get delayed. I was a very private person and shared very little. I had to go to my manager and say, “Look, no matter what, I have to be gone by 4 p.m. on a Tuesday.”

Now on Sundays, I head over, spend a few hours with my parents, and take my mom out for a walk to give my dad some space. On Tuesdays I go straight from work and cook dinner for my parents. On Tuesday evening, my dad can do whatever he pleases because I’m there to give him a break. During the spring and summer, mom and I go for a walk, come home, watch some TV and maybe have a glass of wine.  During the winter, we don’t go for a walk, but instead try baking at home.

The rest of my mom’s week includes spending Thursday with my sister and Saturday with my brother. After mom was diagnosed, we got together and agreed that, if we worked together, it was manageable.

Honestly, I would say my mom’s diagnosis has made me a better person. In the last few months, I’ve grown into the role of Alzheimer’s advocate. I am playing my part in trying to raise awareness and educate others on this disease. I’ll also be raising funds in the New Year, running the Boston Marathon.

I know it will be too late to save my mother, but if I in any way can help ease the burden for others on their Alzheimer’s journey, then my mother’s battle will not have been in vain.

I recently tweeted “Sometimes we don’t choose our path in life, sometimes it chooses us!”  That’s how I feel about this Alzheimer’s journey. I wanted to give my life some real meaning, aside from the usual bullsh*t, and through this I feel maybe I can.

I’ve found amazing support among the Twitter Alzheimer’s community. I feel like I’ve found a new family because we help and support each more. More importantly we share the same goal of raising awareness and hopefully finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.

I’ve recently started blogging – Purple Nellie – combining my training for the Boston Marathon with my new role of Alzheimer’s advocate. It’s been an interesting journey for me because I was a very closed, guarded, private person.

I initially started sharing a little through Twitter, and the incredible, positive feedback I received helped me find a way to open up more. I felt maybe my sharing can help others on this journey.

I’ve always been a fitness fanatic and exercised in some shape or form over the years: gym and team sports (basketball, soccer and rugby). In latter years I began to try running and cycling. I have developed a very special relationship with running. It’s hard to describe, but for me, running now helps me keep my sanity. If I can run, I can get through anything!

Aew months ago, I decided it’d be cool if I could put my love for running to good use, and so began the birth of #RunningforAlzheimers, where I have challenged myself to not stop running until there is an end to Alzheimer’s or I die, whichever happens first. Check out my first blog entry.

I’m just on the start of this journey, but so far I’ve mentioned to a few people I’ll be looking for sponsorships in 2012. More importantly, though, I’m pretty much telling everyone I meet “Hey, I’m running the Boston Marathon, and I’m doing it for Alzheimer’s,” then giving them a few facts about the disease. It’s still early days, but once the New Year gets here, I’ll step it up. I’m working on getting some running gear designed, too.

After Boston, the New York Marathon is also on my agenda, then I’ll drop back to my preferred distance of half marathon.

I don’t think of it as such a big deal – I love running anyway so if I can put that to good use all the better. I’m not typically a marathon runner but then Alzheimer’s is no easy battle either, so it was important I set a challenge for myself that people might take notice of.

No walkers are allowed in the Boston marathon. I tell people it’s a true runners marathon!

If you’re on Twitter and want some information on Alzheimer’s, search for “AlzFacts,” and you’ll get a few results. The first Friday of each month on Twitter, we’re swapping #FollowFriday for #AlzFacts. Also if you can, tune into #AlzChat on Mondays at 3 p.m. ET.

A lot of us on this journey are not experts, we’re just sharing our own experiences and how we got to where we are today. Sometimes our own experience can offer insights to others.

About Samantha Howe

I’m the youngest of four children. I am a software engineer by profession, and a sports fanatic and fitness junkie in my spare time. A few years back, I made plans to take a break from corporate life and travel Latin America, once I had completed my Masters degree studies. Before completing those studies, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, mixed with Vascular Dementia. My travel plans were shelved.

Today, I am part-time carer for my mom, supporting my father in the full-time role of carer.

About Samantha’s mom

My mom was a nurse, until I came along! She and my father have been married for 47 years. She raised her own four children, along with pretty much three other kids for a family friend. She also helped look after my sister’s two kids for a few years, while my sister and her husband worked. She opened her door to a visiting family from abroad.

She is a woman with a big heart and a lot of love. No matter what, that’s how I’ll always choose to remember her.

Jason’s Twelve Days of Christmas


On the first day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me a big book full of His promises.

On the second day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me two loving parents and a big book full of his promises.

On the third day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me eight hours of peaceful sleep, seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me nine faces of Spurrier, eight hours of peaceful sleep, seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me ten straight Bulldog wins, nine faces of Spurrier, eight hours of peaceful sleep, seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me 11 years under Coach Richt, ten straight Bulldog wins, nine faces of Spurrier, eight hours of peaceful sleep, seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Jesus gave to me 12 great Munson calls, 11 years under Coach Richt, ten straight Bulldog wins, eight hours of peaceful sleep, seven reasons to despise Tennessee, six years of knowledge, FIVE minutes of prayer, four years at a wonderful job, three amazing families, two loving parents and a big book full of His promises.

As we come to the close of yet another year, I can’t help but look back on my life and praise GOD for everything He has given me: a loving family; two amazing parents who have been there for me through a lot of bad times and a lot of great times; two beautiful sisters who (although we’ve had our fights) have always been there for me when things got tough; the BEST job in the world with the city of Marietta, with co-workers who’ve become my second family; a social life the past four years I never, EVER expected, especially my roles as Venue Coordinator and “resident photographer,” and being named one of the co-organizers of Cobb Social Media along with Kristina McInerny and Su Berland; and the confidence and self-esteem to come out of my shell and talk to members of the community about my job and my disability.

You see, I used to be very shy, probably because I created an imaginary bubble, or rather my parents kept me in one, when I was younger because I’m disabled and they wanted to protect me and make sure I was safe. Sure I had friends at school, but home and school were the only “worlds” I knew for about 13 years. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I realized there was a whole new world outside the “friendly confines” of a brick school building or a two-story house.

Now, whenever I go out in public, it seems like at least two people come up to me every day and say hello, if I’m in a restaurant eating or in the community taking pictures for my job, and what starts as a simple hello turns into a 10- or 15-minute conversation and before I realize it, it’s time to get back to work. My supervisor keeps telling me that the experience I receive with the city doesn’t compare with the experience I’d get sitting behind a desk at a newspaper, just covering a certain beat, and looking back I can now say he was exactly 100 percent right!! Thanks MD 🙂 I can never, ever repay you and the city for taking a chance on me and giving me this wonderful opportunity to display my talents and abilities.

But what I am most thankful for this year, if you’ve read my blog the past month, is that Jesus Christ has given me the chance to spend time with my grandfather who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease a few years ago, and the peace of mind that when my grandfather does pass away that he will live forever in Paradise with our Heavenly Father, will no longer be in any pain, and will always remember who he is, who his family is and the impact he had on many, MANY lives. I’ve learned so much from my grandfather and I will never, ever forget the great times we had together. I have to admit I have been so scared and heartbroken knowing my grandfather is dying, but it does feel amazing, resting on the promise that he is going to live in eternity with Christ, Who will always wrap my grandfather in His amazing grace, love and peace and make sure nothing ever happens to him. Thank You Lord for giving me the peace of mind to leave my grandfather in Your hands, knowing that everything is going to be okay.

As a final thought, let me leave you with my two favorite Bible verses, ones that I refer back on every time I find myself doubting my abilities, am having a bad day or am struggling with my grandfather’s condition…

Philippians 4:13: “I can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.”

Merry Christmas!!!

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver: Tips for the Holidays


The holidays are a difficult time for Alzheimer’s caregivers. At this time of year more than any other, we long to connect with our loved ones as they once were.

One of the best ways to connect with someone you love who has Alzheimer’s disease is through reminiscence — telling old stories, reading familiar texts, singing favorite songs and looking at familiar objects.

And there is no better time to do this than the holidays.

If you have old ornaments, an old menorah, a wedding dress, a piece of family jewelry or any other significant object the person may remember from the distant past, bring those out and talk about them. Family photos can be a wonderful springboard for memory. One woman of our acquaintance cannot remember what she had for breakfast, but can tell every story connected with the photos taken while she and her husband were dating over 50 years ago.

Read familiar scripture or stories in the version the person would have heard as a child or young adult. Ask the person when he first heard or read this. Ask him about holidays past — the food that was served, who did the cooking, the presents that were received, or if the family made an annual trek to the woods to get a tree. Anything that might help him retrieve his memories.

One word of caution: You should ask only one question at a time and patiently wait for the answer. Multiple rapid fire questions will only confuse a person with Alzheimer’s.

Music is an amazing tool in connecting. Because music uses more parts of the brain than any other activity, the chances of connecting with the person increase greatly. Sing songs from her childhood. If she is religious, or was in childhood, sing the religious songs she would have sung early in her life.

Less than 24 hours before he died, Daniel’s father had not spoken in six months, but could sing the hymns of his childhood. Daniel’s grandmother was born in 1898 and was a church organist for many years. Even debilitated by dementia, she could play her favorite hymns. Interestingly enough, the hymns would always transform themselves into the “St. Louis Blues,” a song from her Ragtime teens and twenties. Precious memories of a church organist who still had spunk into her 90s.

If there are children in the family, involve them in this reminiscence process. We both had grandparents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and our daughters lost a grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease. The moments of connection help children to know and remember their grandparent, and can help preserve for future generations the family stories that are being lost to the disease process.

We would be remiss if we did not talk about the additional confusion often experienced by people with Alzheimer’s around the holidays. The person’s routine is disturbed. Your home may be crowded with guests, or you may visit the homes of family and friends. Crowds and unfamiliar environments confuse people with Alzheimer’s disease.

As the caregiver, you are torn between wanting to see family and friends, and wanting to keep your loved one in a stable, calm environment. While you probably cannot eliminate the confusion completely, you can enlist family members and friends to help you keep it to a minimum.

Communicate in advance with the people you’ll spend the holidays with. Explain that your loved one is confused by crowds, loud noises, unfamiliar people and places, etc. Share with them the techniques above and ask for their help. If they see the person with Alzheimer’s disease leaving the house, accompany him. Wandering is a very real danger! If they see him growing agitated, take him to a quieter room or for a walk. If they see him eating to the point it may make him sick, redirect him away from the food.

If everyone helps, the holidays can be a joyous time for the caregiver, the person with Alzheimer’s disease, and other family and friends.
 
About Ellen Woodward Potts

Ellen Woodward Potts, MBA has more than 20 years experience in healthcare management and teaches “Leadership Development Through Service,” a survey course of non-profit organizations, at the University of Alabama. She currently serves as Managing Partner for Dementia Dynamics, LLC, and as Board President for Caring Congregations, an inter-faith organization that operates three dementia daycare centers, a GPS locator program, and other dementia support services. Through “A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver,” she strives to honor the care her family members gave her maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, both of whom had Alzheimer’s disease.

About Daniel C. Potts

Daniel C. Potts, M.D., is a noted neurologist, author, educator, and champion of those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. He was chosen by the American Academy of Neurology as the 2008 Donald M. Palatucci Advocate of the Year, serves as an AAN national media spokesperson for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and is a faculty member at both medical schools in his home state of Alabama. Inspired by his father’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease and his mother’s dedication to caregiving, Dr. Potts seeks to provide hope and support to those in like circumstances.

Related articles

The Lord is MY Shepherd


The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”

That’s What Christmas (and Thanksgiving) Is All About, Charlie Brown


If you ask anybody what their two favorite holidays are, chances are that either Thanksgiving or Christmas will be the first words out of their mouths. I have to admit that Thanksgiving and Christmas are my absolute favorite holidays, followed closely by the college football season… Hey, I know the season is four and a half months long, but ask any red-blooded SEC football fan, and they’ll tell you the same thing, after they pick your butt off the floor for asking such a STUPID question.

Some of my fondest, most cherished memories growing up were spent at home or at mom or dad’s parents (my grandparents) houses, on the floor around the Christmas tree, wrapping paper flying across the room smacking my uncles or dad in the head, the sound of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters and parents laughing at all the hysteria that comes with Christmas morning. I still remember sitting around that HUGE white Christmas tree at my dad’s parents’ house in Marietta all those years, with about 25 people crammed in the living room, or at my mom’s parents’ house playing a game where everybody has to either roll a “1” or a “6” to get a gift, then opens it, and somebody else who rolls a “1” or “6” can either choose another gift or “steal” the gift somebody already opened…Or those Thanksgiving days at our house or my dad’s parents’, watching an entire day of football, screaming at the television set if Georgia and Georgia Tech are playing… Wait, we still do that, nevermind… some traditions NEVER die!!! 🙂

I’ll never, ever forget those memories, and they will last a lifetime, but as I have gotten older and understand what Thanksgiving and Christmas should really be about, it breaks my heart to see and hear everybody standing in line at the mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving waiting to get that perfect gift for their kids or that perfect $500 watch or necklace for their spouse. Hell, just the other night after my mom got home, I was standing there and while mom and dad were talking, the subject of money came up. Mom said something like “Well, we don’t even have the money for Christmas presents.” Let me tell you right now, you may not agree with it, but I am so damn SICK and TIRED of hearing my parents arguing about money it makes me want to PUKE!!! Damn, can’t everybody just be thankful you have a roof over your head, food to put on the table, a warm bed to sleep in and a family to come home to every night?

See, that’s what’s wrong with this society. Everybody’s so caught up in the almighty DOLLAR, that we’ve forgotten what’s important in life. Sometimes I wish we didn’t even have news channels because everywhere you look, some big millionnaire is flaunting his or her money or somebody’s bitching because they went bankrupt and lost everything. Sometimes I wish we could travel back in time to the Andy Griffith Show or Little House on the Prairie, when folks got by with very little and were happy with just a tin cup, a copper penny or the ability to go outside and shoot marbles in the driveway or take a walk to the fishing hole with your dad…

Some of you who are new to the blog may not know this, but my dad’s mom passed away from leukemia in 2005, although it had gone into remission. She and my aunt went shopping one day and after they got back home, my grandmother went back in her bedroom to take a nap and woke up because she was having trouble breathing. The ambulance came and rushed her to the emergency room, but doctors think she passed away on the way to the hospital. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my grandmother and pray that she was still with us to this day, celebrating all the wonderful things that have happened to our family, like the birth of my cousins, birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings and me getting a job with the city of Marietta. Damn, she would have been so proud of everything her family has done. I can just see her face now. I miss you so much grandma and love you more with each passing day. God bless you!!!

On a couple of occasions I’ve talked about my grandpa and his valiant, courageous fight with Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed abour three or four years ago and is getting worse every day. I remember when we went to eat with him and my granny (mom’s mom) about a month ago, we were getting ready to leave, and he asked whose car we were getting into… He didn’t even remember we drove up in mom’s suburban about an hour earlier. On a couple of occasions he hasn’t even remembered my name or my sisters’ names, and seeing him suffering just tears me apart inside. I feel like a part of me is dying with him. I want to remember him the way he was, when we went on a picnic at the lake for my eighth birthday, on the porch shelling peas or shucking corn with him and my granny, or eating watermelon on a hot summer day. I want to remember him putting a blade of grass between his fingers and “whistling” or making the sound of a train whistle, blowing in his fists.

THESE memories to me are what Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about. You may think I am the biggest, most selfish idiot on the planet, but the greatest gift I could receive this Thanksgiving and Christmas is to be able to just go to see my grandpa, give him and my granny a big hug and just fall to my knees and thank my GOD that He has given my grandpa one more day to spend with his family… or to visit my dad’s family and see my cousins, aunts and uncles, grandfather and grammi and catch up on what everyone has been doing since the last time we saw each other. I just want to be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with the people who mean the most to me, praising and worshipping my Heavenly Father for all the blessings and grace He has shown to me the past year. I want everyone to remember the TRUE REASON FOR THE SEASON: Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!!!

Luke 2

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Guest Blog and Touch More Lives Than You Can Imagine


As I’ve said on a few occasions, I had plans to blog at least once a day, sometimes more if the passion hit me at the right time. But as time has passed, work has taken up a HUGE amount of my time, not to mention the fact that my disability and sitting in my wheelchair for 15-18 hours a day makes me really tired and drained, plysically, emotionally and, yes, even spiritually.

That’s why I am offering you, my loyal readers and fans, the opportunity to jump aboard my spina bifida journey, wherever you can find an empty spot on the magic carpet… or wait is it a fishing boat?

Do you have an inspiring, encouraging story to share? Are you a cancer survivor? Do you or someone you know have a disability? Were you in a near-death accident, a tornado or hurricane? Did you survive physical abuse when you were younger? Are you just looking for someone to talk to and share what’s bugging you? If you want to share your touching stories of survival and hope, here is your chance to become a guest blogger and share your story with a bigger audience.

If you’re interested shoot me an email and tell me about your story. For starters, answer this short questionnaire and we’ll get started.

1. What’s your name?

2. Tell me a little bit about your story. Which one of the above situations describes your story best?

3. If you are disabled or know someone who is, what’s a typical week like for you/them?

4. How do you think your situation made you a better person? Has it made you look at life any differently? In what ways?

5. If there’s anything you could say to someone who has been through your situation, or may face that situation in the future, what would it be and why?

6. Do you have a short bio and a few pictures to accompany your guest blog?

If you’re REALLY, REALLY interested after reading, let me know and we can work on your guest post together!!

I look forward to hearing from everyone. Oh yeah, invite your friends and family too. There’s room at this party for everybody!!! 😉