Thursday, October 11, 2007

Catching Snowflakes

As I leaned back my head and stuck out my tongue my youngest sister who was five at the time watched me.

“Mommy, why is Tammie trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue in church?”

I collapsed in a faint right in the middle of a weekday church service. It must have been winter break since we were all there in the middle of the day. I had just become overheated and passed out. No harm done, Mom took me outside for some fresh air and our day went on as normal.

A couple of Sundays ago I came home from church. My sister had been there while I was gone; she had made lunch for Mom and Dad and then cleaned up the kitchen. Wondering why she would clean up and not put the empty Cheerios box out for recycle I began to break it down when Dad asked me if I had looked at the back. Turning it over I saw this image:

Teri has never let me forget that day in church. This is not the first time an image of someone catching snow has made its way to me. I laugh every time it happens :-) Ya gotta love your siblings!

Actually, as I have grown up, I found that’s not exactly true. I have heard many stories about sibling relationships. Some would be fodder for a great horror story. Not everyone loves their brothers and sisters. I, on the other hand, do.

Growing up we moved a lot and so that meant we had to learn to rely on each other. We had our share of squabbles. “Mom, she’s looking at me!” “Daddy, tell him to stop!” “Get out of my room!” As adults we don’t experience the typical squabbles that you find in many families. Our times together are filled with laughing about things that have happened and sharing what is happening in our lives now.

Recent events brought us four together again. It was an unfortunate reason to get together, but thankfully the outcome was good. I found it very cool to watch the three of them as adults and remember them as children.

They all have married and are in the process of raising families. They are all three amazing in their own ways.

Tom is a rock. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get down to business. He keeps us laughing with his crazy jokes and stories. His two kids are grown and are now stretching their wings. So now, Tom and his wife are beginning to stretch their wings also.

Tina is the quiet, gentle one. She and her husband have two boys. Always the girly girl she has jumped in and participated in the camping and fishing, baseball and soccer. She’s not afraid to do the things her boys love to do.

Teri is our firecracker. Strong willed and independent she takes the world by the horns. Her and her husband’s two kids are like night and day, yet she is totally involved in both their activities.

My siblings mean the world to me. For all the times I said as a child “I wish I was an only child,” I have been blessed with amazing memories, childhood and adult, of these three who have been a part of my life for so long. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

So, if you happen to see me catching snow on my tongue, I may just be immersed in a happy childhood thought!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Writing About Lewy Body Dementia

As a young girl I wrote stories, poems, and even a screenplay that my sisters and a friend put on one summer in our back yard. Middi Money Goes to Hollywood was a smashing success with the audience of birds, squirrels, and bugs. Stories just seem to be a big part of my life.

I see stories in the people, places and activities that populate my daily life. I love to take something that happened and make a great story out of it. Thankfully, I seem to have a plethora of instances that make amusing stories. Sometimes, okay, most of the time, I embellish and expound to really give the story punch. The basic story is true; it just has been given a touch of my own brand of spice. It has always been a given in my mind that someday I would take a story and write a fiction book. Hopefully, a best seller.

As I write this blog entry I am contemplating how to move forward on the book proposal I am working on. The story that is the basis of this book is a true story; it is not fiction, I cannot add spice to it and I truly wish I were not in a position to write it. It is a horrendous story of how a disease has stolen my mother from me, while she continues to live.

Mom has Lewy Body Dementia (LBD.) In the last year it has become part of my purpose to expose more people to this disease. In that vein, I have added a page to my website about it and I write my book. Please visit the Lewy Body Dementia page to learn more about the disease.

When the diagnosis first came I and my family began to look for information and resources. There were few. Many have never heard of LBD; I have worked in the medical field for 20 years and had never heard of it. In my search for information I did find the Lewy Body Dementia Association web site.

Every week I speak with people all over the country as a volunteer with the Lewy Body Dementia Association. This is emotionally hard, but I do it because I am in their shoes. I know the feeling of us being all alone in our journey through this time.

A few weeks ago I had calls that represented the full spectrum of LBD. I talked to one lady whose husband had just been diagnosed the previous week. The neurologist had very little practical information to pass along. The caller's husband is in his early 60s, still young and yet facing an uncertain future. The only certain thing about LBD is that it is currently incurable and it will get much worse before death.

I then fielded a call from a sweet lady in her 80s. Her husband had been living with LBD for a decade and he was "on death's door." She was making arrangements and wanted to find out how to donate to the association and to find out about donating his brain for LBD research.

I offered what I could to these people. Often, just talking with someone who understands is comfort enough.

I know that my writing about this situation isn't easy for my family members. I don't do this to cause discomfort. I do this because I believe strongly in doing what I can to make a difference in the battle against this enemy. The weapon I have been given is the ability to write. And so I write in hopes that someday we will experience victory. In hopes that in the future we will know enough about this disease to offer more than just compassion.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bouquet of Freshly Sharpened Pencils

I bought my new 2008 calendar a few weeks ago and I have a confession to make. I love office supplies! I know it sounds crazy, but I can wander in an Office Depot or Staples for hours. I don't understand the fascination, I just go with it.

In the Tom Hanks (that's a subject for a blog entry in itself) movie You've Got Mail Meg Ryan's character writes to Tom's character that if they weren't just email friends she would give him a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils. Her coworker thinks she has just sprouted a second head when she sniffs the boxes of scotch tape. Oh but how I relate to her in that aspect!

In my office at home I have a drawer in my lateral file cabinet that is full of office supplies. Most of these supplies were given to me by my previous employer when they closed an office and had too much stuff on hand. It was an office supply fanatics dream come true. Like a treasure chest the drawer contains writing tablets, sticky notes in all shapes and colors, pens, pencils, markers, and other gems I have acquired.

Each new year brings the dilemma of which calendar to choose. Several years ago I joined the techno geeks and bought a Palm Pilot. It was great and I was so very impressive when I whipped out my Palm to schedule an appointment or make a note. However, I missed the feel of physically writing in my calendar. Since the Palm has developed a weird need to reset itself frequently I have gone back to a good old paper calendar.

On a shelf beside my desk I have journals of all shapes and sizes. Many of these were given to me as gifts by friends who know I love a good journal. I have a gratitude journal that was given to me for my birthday one year. The book journal was given to me for Christmas by a fellow book club member. One of my favorites is a Japanese silk journal in bright red that I use as a prayer journal. The red spiral bound journal I currently use for my To Do List and other important reminders was given to me by a good friend, as was the inspiration for using a journal to contain my To Do List.

Crazy, but true, I love office supplies. So, if you ever bump into me in an office supply store and I seem to be somewhere else, just know I am off in a fantasy land of my own making :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Good Life

Tall grass surrounds him as he watches his prey. Slowing his breath to a steady, even rhythm he waits. The art of the capture is in waiting for the right moment. Carefully on silent feet he moves forward toward his goal. This time he is going to make the capture and come home triumphant!
Close enough now to smell them he decides it is time. Leaping up and pouncing, the jangling of his collar sends the birds and squirrels flurrying away before he is close enough to catch one. Dang this bling on his collar; gets in the way every time. How's a dog supposed to catch a meal with all these noisemakers attached to him!?!

Wandering inside he finds his breakfast hot dog and his dry dog food refilled. Oh, look, there's his four peanuts and dog biscuits. Ah, this is the life, even if he doesn't get to do true doggie things like catch his own dinner.

My sister often says that if reincarnation does happen she wants to come back as a dog in our parent's house. Scamp came to live with them late in 2001. He is their retirement child and he reigns supreme in their house.

This dog has his own doggie bed which rests atop his very own double bed in the room that is now called Scamp's Room. I think he has more toys than my two year old nephew. He gets a hot dog for breakfast, turkey bologna for lunch and table scraps and canned dog food for dinner. He sleeps most of the day and plays the rest of the day away. He has the run of the yard and tries to convince the squirrels and birds that he's the boss. Until he can catch one, though, they aren't buying it. Whoever said, "It's a dog's life hit the mark in this house."

Addendum: Shortly after I wrote this entry Scamp brought me a love offering...he showed up at the back door with a dead bird in his mouth! He looked so proud of himself :-)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Strong Foundations

"Do you know what today is?" Dad asked Mom this morning at breakfast.

"No," Mom replied.

Curious, because I didn't know either, I listened from the kitchen.

"It's the anniversary of our first date."

Forty-nine years ago they were both at a church picnic. Dad's sister, a friend of Mom's, wanted to go to the movies with Mom's cousin. Dad asked Mom to join them. Two years later they became husband and wife.

For almost half a century these two have stood beside each other. In this age of quickie marriages and even quicker divorces, theirs is truly an amazing story.

It hasn't always been an easy story. The years brought many moves, childhood illness, military separations and other struggles. Still they stood strong in their commitment to each other.

Recent events have shaken our family; those events can't break our family. When the storms blow, we batten down and ride it out. We have a strong foundation Mom and Dad have been building over forty-nine years. This is the legacy of love we have been given.