February 1, 2006

Poor Florida. It has been and is being attacked. Killer bees are now here with us...I'm told here to stay and to watch out for them.

Hurricanes are in a cycle and we should be seeing many more of them for years to come, along with lots of storms and some floods. The question I have is this from merely a weather cycle or is it from a messed up environment that we have caused?

Mosquitoes, spiders and biting fire ants along with poisonous snakes are something to be careful about.

Allergies are common, and long lasting. I am living proof to the fact.

Jeb Bush is still in control of Florida and has a made a mess of the state.

Inspite of all of the above, I love it here. Am I a glutton for punishment or is something else causing that love?

First, Sharon is here along with my two beautiful daughters and seven wonderful grandkids.

We are surrounded with beauty, nature galore and sunshine usually. The ocean is close to us and I love the ocean. We live in a great part of Florida, close to lots of exciting events, and yet enough into the country that it tends to remind me a bit of the rural land of Ohio, where I was born and raised.

I guess what I am trying to say is that here in Florida, the good far outweighs the bad and I'm staying.

February 2, 2006

Well, Groundhog Day has come and gone. The Groundhog saw his shadow and that means six more weeks of winter.

Already, mother earth seems to recognize that spring is coming. Plants are beginning to come out. Bushes are starting to bloom, The birds are chirping more. The squirrels seem more frisky.

Spring is around the corner and I am ready for it. I enjoy Spring, at least the first part of it, before the heat and humidity sets in. It's a beautiful time of the year. A time of new beginnings.

I was in a hardware store and noticed a rack of flower and vegetable seeds already. It took me back to days of old. As a youngster, my classes at school would sell seeds to raise funds. I have some fond memories from those days.

This time of year also reminds me of the yearly gardens that my Dad and I would put out. The smell of the fresh air and dirt that was being plowed up to plant a garden that would serve our family as well as many others.

Mom would be out side more often, working with her green thumb in her flower bed. Planting new flowers and bushes, some of which still live today. Mom always seemed to need my help with planting, bringing bulbs stored in the basement from the following year and bringing in rich dark soil from the near by woods to enrich her beds.

Oh, what memories I have of those great times. At the time, it was hard work and I wasn't enjoying it as much as I do today, in thinking back how it was. Time seems to add to the toils and trials of yesteryear.

Memories are so special for me. I still have many. At times they just seem to pop up into my head and heart. I enjoy them and wish I could keep them, but they are fading...fading into the sunset of my life. I do my best to catch onto them, keeping them close to me but dementia is pulling, pulling them from me, one by one.

I'm hopeful that when I can no longer remember the wonderful past, that others will remind me of my rich history and how I loved life. The many experiences I had and shared with others. I have trusted many of my memories into my journals and into the hands of family and friends. I am confident that they will remind me of what made me ... me and who I am.

Balance....in all of my life, is what I work on.

February 3, 2006

I just read a title in the newspaper that caught my eye. Part of it was "too many focus on past, not present." It got me a thinking.

Do I do that? I enjoy memories of the past, but am I stuck there? Those good old days? Well, our memory has a way of playing tricks on us and some times, the good old days were not all that good. There was much good from the past, but history records that there was much that was not so good. In our personal lives I tend to think more about the good than the bad and really, there was both good and bad. Perhaps more good than bad for me personally but not for everyone. For me it's easier to remember the good than the bad, but it wasn't always that way. It took work and a choice on my part.

As a youngster and then teen, I thought I knew more than my parents. I allowed the bad to outweigh the good, dwelling on it, bringing myself much grief later in life. There was more good than bad but I chose to dwell on the bad. It took some aging and maturity to be able to weigh the good and the bad, to forgive and not dwell on the past. To see that I didn't always make the right decisions and give the benefit of the doubt. Too many times it was more me than others. I was stuck in me for a time.

As I grew up into adulthood, I begin to see things differently. I began to see how I related to life and understand that life is not perfect or one hundred percent correct in all of it's ways.

I began to make a life for myself and soon discovered that I too had many imperfections and make many mistakes for which I was sorry. I began to dream and think about the future, not focusing so much on the past. I attempted to learn lessons from the past...my past, so that it would not be repeated. If we learn from our mistakes and go on, focusing not on the past but on the future, progress can be made. I made some progress. Back and fourth I went at times, a step forward and two backward, but progress was made and is still being made in my life. I also learned lessons from other's mistakes.

Normally we can't go back into the past and change things, but we can do things differently in our lives and determine not to repeat the past.

Focusing on the present is so important for me with my dementia. I can chose to live in the past, what I remember of it, but I live moment by moment, day by day. What day it is? The month and year and time is pretty meaningless to me. I check out where I am in the month, but it is quickly forgotten. I live in the moment and do my best to focus on that moment. That's all I have. I accept that fact and make the most of it. I enjoy the moment, try to use the moment, making it count for me and hopefully for others. I'm not locked into me and hope I will never be. Others are important to me.

Focusing on the present rather than the past. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy recalling memories, because I do, but the present is where I'm at. It's a gift given to me to use wisely.

February 4, 2006

I was just thinking about being politically correct. I was thinking of subjects off limit for us to talk about. In the past I heard that there are two things you don't talk about. Politics and religion. I've lived long enough to know from experience and that of others that both are divisive topics and can easily bring out the worst in others. I have to be very careful myself even though both have a lot of meaning for me personally.

Today, there are topics and words that are politically incorrect. I don't know who makes up the list, but we all are too know which ones are in place at the moment. I understand about being caring, loving, tolerant and non offensive with others. But I also dare to think about and talk about some of these areas with others of like mind and those that are open to honest and open debate. It's a risk I take.

I know what I've been taught, I know what I've learned and I know what I think and how I feel. At least at moments I do. Lots of laughs. I also know that some of these things change from time to time based upon truth that I've discovered.

As an individual I am ever thirsting for knowledge and more and more interested in ethics, right and wrong and the large gray area that lies in between. I am more and more interested in peace, justice, mercy, being open to others thoughts and beliefs, honesty, caring, understanding, acting upon my beliefs without being offensive and belligerent, without being divisive when possible. I realize that I don't have all the answers and that I don't know it all. That there are mysteries in life that I will never understand, but it doesn't keep me from trying to. At the same time I understand that some of the mysteries will never have an answer and I must accept that fact.

I have come to believe that I don't have to be politically correct or theologically correct. There have been and always will be different opinions and thoughts.

I have mine...you have yours. There are those in my life that I feel safe and open enough to share my belief system and thoughts with. My dreams and goals. There are others that I can't share with. To know the difference is very important as well as to time and place of sharing.

Being open and honest is important to me. My desire to share my thoughts and who Chip Gerber really is. What makes me tick. What I think and feel and that's what my journaling is about. It's not all about me. Not at all. But at the same time it is about me, my life, my world, my goals and dreams and thoughts, beliefs, but without those around me...without bringing memories, good times and bad, including all many others that I love and have learned from and make my life what it is, I cannot be true to myself.This is who I am and who I am becoming. I share from my mind and from my heart.

Although I have a few areas that are not for me to share, I want to be a book, open and honest with those that are part of my journey.

February 5, 2006

Maybe I've been reading too much about American's being spied upon by our government. Some say it's only those who have contacts internationally and others seem to feel that is not completely accurate.

I'm a great detective and mystery buff. I don't like the one's with all the blood and gore, but a good story full of adventure, I enjoy. I like to figure it out or try before the ending. I use to be better at following plot of the story than I am now. The story must be simple and not very complex for me to understand and enjoy it.

In some of the stories I have watched, spy equipment has been used. This gave the story some added interest. Now, I'm reading about it in my daily news. I listen to the commentators at night discuss it on my TV set. I'm seeing our countries leaders taking sides on this issue. I have observed that down through our history, our nation has had a colored past with spying and that perhaps, it has always gone on, but is there a new dimension of spying in our country on our own citizens taking place?

To make me even more aware of spying, recently on my own personal computer, I noticed that spy equipment was being used. The computer told me so. I was in disbelief. Why in the world would someone being spying on little OLE me? As I've studied the subject I understand that somewhere in our nation is a book on each of us. Much of this information is used for statistics and even sold to companies that are interested in contacting us for their own interests. Makes for interesting discussion and study and perhaps action on our part, as concerned citizens.

I have nothing on my computer to be ashamed of. I break no known laws although I do go to sites that may have opposing views of the present administration in our country. To form my views intelligently, I must know all sides of issues and find it interesting.

I have written letter to editors, government leaders and parties, etc., making my views known. Does this put me in harms way? Should I be afraid of my country? Of computer companies? Of someone that checks my commuter memory out? Someone has said, and said it well that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. I have tried to make that a part of my life and do not fear man, the present or the future.

Still....I do have fears of what's happening in America, land that I love. I have concerns that history might be repeating itself, as usually happens, and that maybe we should open up our eyes to what's taking place, hearing both sides, and consider voicing and acting on our concerns or approval.

February 6, 2006

Pads of paper are very important to me. With fleeting, momentary thoughts, I either must speak them or write them down. Now, I try to keep a pad and pencil near me at all times, but for some reason, they keep disappearing. I;m sure I had nothing to do with it. Other's must surely have moved it or not put it back where it belonged. It's so easy to blame others....when in reality, it was me. I didn't put it back. I walked away with it and just put it somewhere. At times I find it...at times I don't. Following my own path at times brings back the lost. Then there are times that the good Lord only knows where I put it.

I find that by writing a passing thought down I can later think about. I can talk about it or journal about. At times I can do something about it or change something. I can note things I want to do or failed to do. Things of importance ... and at times, of not too much importance. At times my quick notes or words make sense and at times not. But it's worth the try.

Without attempting to make things happen, nothing will happen. I have two choices. I can go into the long good-bye, which I'm already ready into, acting, doing, trying, kicking and screaming when necessary, or I can just give up and do nothing, allowing the fog and distress of my disease to take over. As my friend, Buddy Broadwater's Grandson says," I can't make myself do that." That's not who I am.

I do my best and God does the rest. An old saying I've heard, and I believe it. Nothing is impossible, but if we don't make an attempt, it's just not gonna happen. As we act first, then things will begin happening for and to us. It works for me. I'm sure it will work for you.

February 7, 2006

Something awful has happened in America. Congress has passed a budget for the United States that is shameful. It will slow the growth of benefit programs like Medicaid and student lone subsidies requested by President Bush. As usual it was passed largely along party lines with included powerful influence from Washington lobbyists. Medicare will also be affected. Republicans said this is only the first step in reigning in spending in these programs. Bush was eager to sign the bill.
This is $39 million in cuts that concentrates spending on the least of these, those without any power or say in America, nothing or little to pay to our bought American government. Of course some in the ruling party say that many of the programs are "Outdated, inefficient and excessively costly." These cuts will effect the federal child support enforcement program and allow states to reduce the already low Medicaid coverage and charge increased fees for the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled. Programs to assist with pregnancy, before school meals for kids and after school latch key programs and day care centers for working mom's.

Those of us who speak up or labeled un-American, unpatriotic, unChristian, traitors, enemies, liberals and on the list goes. The old thought of 'love it or leave it" seems to be still alive and well here in good OLE USA.

I refuse to accept these labels. There is an old saying. "
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" but in reality, these words do hurt. They deeply hurt. But not enough to keep me from speaking out for the way the children, teens, young adults, elderly, handicapped, ill and diseased, abused, those with additions and imprisoned, addicted, the hungry, those needing medical care and medication, housing, employment and education are being and have been affected by a government gone astray

When are we going to take on the responsibility of caring for our own? The government is to be for the people, of the people and by the people. That's history, folks. The government of today is by a few wealthy politically connected, corrupt individuals that rule America with an iron fist. They rape and take from the poor and give to the rich. More millionaires than ever. The middle class is almost gone and the poor, well, it is barely getting by for them, if that.

Susan Brownell Anthony said that "cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputations...can never effect a reform." I want reform, no I demand reform. Who am I. I am America. I am a concerned citizen, I am a Christian, but most important, I am human. How can I hold my tongue? How can I not speak out?

Do I not speak out because I might be misunderstood? Should I fear retaliation or being labeled? Do I hide under a rock or bury my head in the sand so I don't see what's going on in my world that surrounds me? Never! With the help of the good Lord, I will speak out and make my voice heard where ever there is danger. I will shout it from the mountain top if needed. If I have to be imprisoned to be stilled, I'll be in the company of many great individuals that I highly admire. I will be a prisoner of conscious. There are many, I am told. and those in different countries. At least here in America civil non violent dissent is usually still permitted. How long will this right last? Our rights are disappearing one after the other and only a very few seem to notice or care.

There are times that I feel so helpless. I read the newspaper, listen to the news, making sure I hear both sides in Washington and understand. No matter if were Republican, Democrat or Independent. Perhaps we've never registered to vote but were living in America, one has to care what happens round about them, don't they? Christians, non Christians, Atheists have to care, don't they? Black and white, red and yellow, they must certainly care.

I care and I know that many of my friends care. If your reading this I know that you care about our future. Risk...dare to speak out loudly about our plight...speaking in love and non violence. America and the world is worth saving. We have nothing to fear but fear itself ... and our apathy. Even with dementia, there is much I can do. I choose to be active. Do you?

Martin Niemoller, Pastor, German Confessing Church wrote some words that I would like to share with you. Listen carefully as he speaks through time.

"First they came for the Jews.
I was silent. I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the socialists.
I was silent. I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists.
I was silent. I was not a trade unionist.
then they came for me.
There was no one left to speak for me"

February 8, 2006

I've read about the Holocaust. I've heard some speak who were there. I heard about those who did not survive. It's a part of history. The Jewish people want it to be remembered, so that it never happens again and rightfully so.

A few years ago, I was a presenter in Washington D. C for the Alzheimer's Association. While in Washington, Sharon and visited the Holocaust Museum there. It was an experience I will never forget. The few hours we had to spend there were not adequate to give this special place the time it deserved and needed to see all that there was to see. It was not adequate to take the story of lives touched by the Holocaust. It was like taking a step back into history and I began to get a glimpse of what the Jewish race and others suffered under the rule of Nazi Germany. It made history come alive for me. Something very special happened to me while there that has changed me. I will never be quite the same, having seen in the past this part of history as only that very terrible part of history. History now had become more real, I saw the faces of masses of individuals that I will never forget. I saw there people, real people, pictures of real human beings and was reminded of the great suffering and persecution they went through. Such that it was difficult to even begin to imagine.

Some years ago, I worked with a Jewish elderly couple as their social worker. I was drawn to the situation. Both had been imprisoned in Germany during the time of the great suffering. The husband was not able to communicate his history to me but the wife...she had a number on her that was visible to the naked eye. I ask her about it and was told that she was taken by the guards and made their lady. I later found out what that meant. To have her life spared, this beautiful, warm and wonderful female was forced to be all and do all for the soldiers and those that controlled her fate. She survived, but never forgot. Her life was deeply affected forever.

I remember she and her husband enjoyed dancing when they were younger. As sunset came upon them, they continued to dance, as she led the dance steps with one who no longer was able to do so. It was a beautiful dance of life.

February 9, 2006

I was just thinking why I love America. It didn't take me long to come up with reasons, many reasons.

I think back as a kid about my understanding of America. I was a country boy. A boy that had not explored much of America yet. The country that I lived in was beautiful as well as the small towns near by. It was good and I felt great to be alive. As I got older we would venture into Amish country which was near by. This was the largest Amish community in the world covering almost two counties if I remember correctly. Ah, what beauty, what life I saw and what an impression it made upon me.
On one occasion Dad took us to Cleveland and the great Lake Erie. My eyes were beginning to open to the great land beyond my home town and near by areas.

In front up our old church, the American flag still waved. Right across from the Christian.

At school we learned at a very young age the pledge of allegiance and would say it in school as well as at many community functions. We would also sing many patriotic songs that I still love.

On Memorial Day my family would go to the cemetery to honor those that we had lost to death. Mom would always take a generous amount of fresh cut flowers from her garden to leave at each grave. Many of the graves had flags on them. There were many in my family that had served America as soldiers.

On the Fourth of July, as I got older, we would go to fireworks usually at the small city park. Fireworks made a big impression on me. The sky would light up with beauty in honor of our country...America. We celebrated. I still enjoy going to see fireworks to celebrate America, it's founding and it's freedom.

I'm told that on Veterans Day, I had several aunts that would march in a parade in honor of their father and my great grand father, Haman Rohn who was a soldier. These parades are still held but few seem to attend including myself.

I didn't appreciate history as a youngster as so many children, but as I grew older, I began taking a look at America in history, enjoying reading about it's greatness and those who made our country what it is.

I began to travel the country. My sister Anna and her husband would take me camping throughout many states and I began to see America in it's beauty. As I got older my wife and I would travel to many other states across the nation.

I was able to see the Statue of Liberty, climbing up into the very top, the flame. I was able to visit Washington D. C and later Boston, seeing the beauty and history of our country.

I would watch the Olympics which I still do to this day. I would be so proud, so very proud of America and those representing my land.

I am the offspring of immigrants that came to the shores of America many years ago, looking for freedom and a better life for themselves and their families. Our families became large in number and we have spread through out our nation.

All of these things and more make me love my country and I am proud to call it home.

I came to love my country and wave that flag that represents my land. I see the goodness in the land I love but I also see the bad. I look at history and see how the Native Americans were treated, slavery, the time it took to give voting rights to many, how women were treated, and the many wars that have taken place and I remember....for in remembering there is hope for America. When we forget or live in denial, there is danger for my country. Our good outweighs the bad, but we must continue to be on guard, humble, thankful and ever changing to make us a better people. We are America.

I see the goodness of my country as well as it's beauty. I see how God has blessed America. I am thankful for the Constitution and Bill of Rights and the father's of our land. I am thankful for our liberties and rights as well as our freedom. I am thankful for those who have protected our rights.

I love America and pledge myself to be a part of the solution and not the problem. I will work to keep America a place I can be proud to call my home. I will be a part of what is good and right.

February 10, 2006

One of my favorite patriotic songs that I enjoy, I thought I'd share with you. It is This Land Is Your Land by Woody Guthrie:

This land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California
To the New York island,
From the Redwood Forest,
To the Gulf steam waters,
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking,
That ribbon of highway,
I saw above me
That endless skyway,
I saw below me
That golden valley.
This land was made for you and me

I've roamed and rambled
And I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sand of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

When the sun comes shining
As I was strolling
The wheat fields waving
And the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking
I saw a sign there
And the sign said "No Trespassing"
But on the other side
It didn't say nothing!
Now that side was made for you and me

In the squares of the city
In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office
I seen my people
And some are grumblin'-----
A version renewed by Ludlow Music puts it this way.."As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?"

And some are wonderin'
If this land' s still made for you and me

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking
That freedom highway
Nobody living came make me turn
This land was made for you and me

Taken from Woody Guthrie Lyrics on computer

February 11, 2006

I am the official clipper in my house. Now, I'm not talking about finger nail or toe nail clipping, although I can still do that on my own.. both of them. I'm talking about newspaper and magazine clipping.

I clip out articles of interest. I've found that it's better to do this exactly when I see them than to go back and try to find them later. It takes me longer when I wait and many times I can no longer find the article I wanted if I even remember the article.This also delays the discarding of newspapers that I just know I had a few articles of interest that I needed to clip. I am also responsible for saving articles of interest for Sharon, my two daughter, grandchildren , friends and the church buletin board. Then I also remove the TV section and store adds for Sharon.One might think that all this clipping and saving keeps me busy and out of trouble but ...naught. I still have time. Lots of laughs.

Now after all the above mentioned chores, I have the organizing and properly storing of the clippings for easy access. Now, this is where I have more of a problem than clipping and sorting through for the interesting stuff. I'm not too organized and my storing material and items leave a lot to be desired, if you know what I mean? Sharon reminds me ofen of my ....weakness. It doesn't seem to help me in these areas much.

I guess maybe.....these areas have never been my strengths and as some one once said, and said it well, perhaps....just perhaps "it's too late too teach an old dog new tricks." Woof woof!

February 12, 2006

Have you ever noticed how things keep moving? I have. The pens and pads keep moving. The scissors keep moving, important papers do the same thing. Then there's rugs, floor mats and I'm sure if I sat here and thought a little longer, I could come up with a list of other things that just keep moving.

Now, I know for sure that I don't move the mats or small rugs. The only time I touch them is to clean them or to straighten them. I just don't understand how they move on their own.

Now, things like pens, pencils, pads, scissors etc., I can sort of imagine why they keep moving. It was Sharon! It just had to be. Lots of laughs. Maybe some times it was Sharon but more than not....it was me. I hate to admit it but I'm almost sure it was. I just sort of forgot to put things back in their proper place.Most things don't just up and move on their own.

Everything has it's place. Something I was told in childhood. I can almost see an adult standing there telling me that. Now that I'm the adult, the old problems I had as a youngster still seem to linger on. I think I put things back...but in fact, many times I guess I don't.

Maybe this is an area I need to work on more....maybe.....

February 13, 2006

Sharon and I went to a Valentine's Dinner last night. We had a great time. After dinner the main event of the evening was singing some old songs. Some I knew...some I didn't know. These songs were written way before my time but they are still heard, especially in senior groups today and enjoyed.

Sharon was sitting next to me, which was nice. We sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" as I looked smiling into her beautiful eyes. The song went like this:

Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you.
Let me hear you whisper that you love me too.
Keep the love light glowing in your eyes so true.
Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you.

I glanced around the room at some of the other couples present. I could see love. I guess I'm a romantic at heart. I love her...that's Sharon of course, She knows it. I'm not like the one who said that I told her once I loved her and if it changes I'll let her know. Sharon seems to bring out expressions of love from deep within me. Now, this is a male talking. Some males fear any outward expressions of emotions or feelings. Some are afraid to speak of such things. They're almost afraid of their shadow. I was a year off from being a baby boomer. I learned to express and feel ... feelings and emotions and not fear sharing them verbally. I learned that touch was OK too. I'm sort of prould of my generation, breaking from the old tradition of hiding your true self and feelings. I could never figure out who we were hiding from. Ourselves perhaps?

Other songs were:
By The Light Of The Silvery Moon
Cuddly Up A Little Closer, Lovey Mine
Daisy Bell ( Bicycle Built For two)
Down By The Old Mill Stream
I Love You Truly
I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl
Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
Moonlight Bay
Oh! You Beautiful Doll
Put Your Arms Around Me, Honey
Shine On Harvest Moon
and ....
Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie

We didn't get to all of the songs. I guess I'll have to sing them to Sharon here at home.

February 14, 2006

Anne Frank made this statement. "When I write, I can shake off my cares." I like that thought. Not everyone is a writer. Not everyone likes to write but I personally find it to be helpful, insightful, thought provoking, memory provoking, allowing me to voice feelings, thoughts, complaints, remember things that are important to me, and discuss thoughts that I want to share with my world. I call it journaling. Some do it in books. I haven't gotten there yet.

Dementia took some of my ability to think but when I sit down at the computer, thoughts just seem to tumble out. Oh, I have times of gridlock and writer's block. I look at my journals later and say to myself, "Wow, did I say that?" Usually I can't remember what I just wrote but I can read what I just wrote because it's on My Journey and I keep a copy of it. It's like a diary but it's far more than a diary. It's me...plain and simple. No pretense, no large words, no trying to make myself what I'm not. It's my heart, my mind...my soul. It's memories and goals. It's laughter and tears, It may even be fears. It's thoughts that leap into my head for a moment in time. Some return to me...many don't.

It's a gift to me, my wife and family, my friends and to you, that person who I may not know yet. I hope my journals touch you, move you, make you think, comfort you, help you along the way, encourage and perhaps even give you a picture of what one person with dementia is like, what I feel, how I think or don't think. What makes me who I am. What is important to me. Ideas on how I am growing and changing. At times I even get into faith and politics. Don't let me scare you off. When I touch on these areas, you can be assured that I am working on them myself, pushing myself, growing personally and getting to know myself better. I think I know myself, but as I look into the real me, I see where I need to change, act, grow, share, do better, back off etc.

February 15, 2006

I was just thinking about how different each seat belt and shoulder strap is. I ride in different cars and occasionally a truck and each is different. I have to dig around, when I remember at all, for the seat belt. Many times I am forced to ask for help to connect these necessities properly. Then once I get them fastened, I have to get them unfastened. It takes me more time getting in and out of cars so that I am within the law and so that I get these darn things fastened so that they will stay fastened. Want to be safe, you know?

Then there's the car's that have an automatic belt or harness that out of no where, suddenly comes down over your shoulders and grabs you. What a thrill that is.

Our car is a small Chevy and to get in and out of it is a joy. By the time I figure out where the door handle is, we could be to town and back. I may be exaggerating slightly on that one but it does take some time.

Putting myself in a car and getting out of a car takes time and energy. I can't be rushed. Many times in order to get in, I must pull my right leg in beside me. I don't know what's wrong with it. It feels like dead weight at times. If I'm not tired when I start out the door of our home, I'm next to exhausted by the time I get to my destination and back.

These are things that one would not think of, that is unless you are riding with me. Then it becomes very apparent that this guy has a problem. Lots of laughs. Fortunately most take their time with me, giving the time I require that may differ from time to time. I find that most individuals are very caring when they come to understand my plight.

Now locking the door is another problem. Where is the lock? What knob is it? Well, I'll save that one for another journal.

I hope that as you travel this long good bye with me, that we can both be inspired and benefit.

February 16, 2006

It was the time of the month to help out at our local soup kitchen. My good friend and helper, Tommy called saying that his wife Trudy was ill....very ill, and that he would be taking her for medical care instead of being able to assist as he normally did. Fortunately Sharon was able to go with me and help out.

Now, Johnnie is the main cook and operates the soup kitchen. I know her quite well, having worked with her on numerous occasions. Usually I have no problem calling her by name but that day, every time I addressed her, I called her Trudy. After a time, Sharon mentioned it to me quietly and I tried to be more careful, but it didn't work. I continued to call Johnnie, Trudy. Catching myself right before leaving for the day, I apologized to Johnnie for this misstep. She took it in good natured stride and didn't seem to mind at all. I was the one that was embarrassed.

Thinking back on it. Hind sight being what it is. I think I was so concerned about Trudy that she was on my mind constantly and her name just kept coming out of my mouth. I know I had breathed a prayer earlier in the morning for Trudy and her welfare but if I really focus on something or someone, at times it is difficult for me to change focus. It takes deliberate action on my part, not once, but continual action.

I work on focusing but many times it's a lost cause for me. It just ain't going to happen. My focus is scattered. One thing after another. One thought after another many times. I can be distracted very easily and then any concentration of focus I had is usually broken.

Perhaps this is why dementia individuals can be redirected easily, when not overly irritated. It's something a caring caregiver can use to save the day and one's sanity. Try refocusing us on something else. More than not, there's a good chance that it will work.

February 17, 2006

I was thinking about denial and acceptance. I accepted my dementia but many never seem to. Some refuse to deal with it and others...they deny that there is any problem. Ask the caregiver or other's and a different picture will be given many times

I have come to think that acceptance and denial are two different things that we have to continue to work on. For a time, I was in denial about my diagnoses, but it was short lived. Now, I have sympathy for those who refuse to accept or choose to live in denial. For me education is an important factor in acceptance.

I feel that for me personally, acceptance is a constant thing. I have to constantly live in acceptance. Other wise, denial can sneak in and that is unhealthy. Health can't come with denial. Change can't come with denial. Keeping us at optimal level for a time...hopefully. I know we change constantly, back and fourth and that the stages continue to come, but even with this, acceptance, I feel, can continue our optimal level for a time. It sure has helped me and continues to help me as my journey progresses.

Denial can also be found in caregivers. There must be continual acceptance of where were each at ... at that moment, being flexible to change. No symptoms list or chart will work for all of us. "When you've seen on dementia person, you've seen on dementia person," it's been said. Looking at myself and having met many other's with dementia I know this to be true. Keep those expectations open and we may both be surprised in a positive manner, I hope.

Acceptance or denial? If one tries to live in both worlds, it can be cause for a counselor.

February 18, 2006

I was thinking more about what love is and is not. On January 26 I wrote a few thoughts on what love does, after talking to my Grand daughter Ashley about some love issues. I wanted to add something that I found in this week's church newsletter on love.

It says:

Love keeps on loving when other's don't love back.

Love doesn't get jealous when the nest door neighbor can afford a BMW.

Love isn't rude to the persistent salesperson.

Love is gracious when the line you have been standing in for an hour closes just as your reach the counter.

Love is not happy when your "lazy" partner at work finally gets laid off.

Love keeps on loving, even when embarrassed by your teenager's hair, music or friends.

Love isn't thwarted by ten hours of screaming kids, soiled diapers, dirty dishes and a perpetual mess in the living room.

Love is so many things and usually involves action, attitudes, forgiveness, and a willingness to change and be flexabile.Love is so much more than enduring to the end while gritting our teeth.

Love is something for those us of that are affected and our caregivers to think about. What is love to us and how is it applied to our daily lives? I'm thinking about it and in my limited ways, attempting to take action.

February 19, 2006

I get distracted so easily, and easily lose my train of thought or should I say my pieces of thought? My thoughts come in small bits and fragmented pieces It's difficult to explain and once I'm distracted, it's not so easy to get back where I was.

I started to think about this journal entry and the upcoming President's Day jumped into my mind. I thought of presidents that I especially like and those that I am not so fond of. I thought of those who ideals are close to mine and those who seem to have had or have no ideals. Then my mind began jumping, so off to the search engine I went looking up more on presidents, their responsibilities to the people of America and then finally what I intended to look up, a little additional information on Presidents' Day.

After that I began writing a journal entry on Presidents' Day and after beginning, I changed subjects midway and began to journal about the game Family Feud which was to be my next journal. I had to begin again, leaving out Family Feud for another journal entry. Patience...Chip, patience
I found that President's Day is the original version of a holiday in honor of George Washington's birth day. That it is the third week in February every year and it is intended to honor George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and all past presidents.

Some of my favorite American Presidents are listed below:

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln
Franklin Roosevelt
John Kennedy
James Carter
Bill Clinton

I might drawl some criticism for my choices but they are my choices. I have my reasons. I enjoy reading about the presidents both old and new. There's so much too learn about each of them and by reading about their lives from writers of all persuasions, you can really get a look into who they really were and what made them great or not so great.

I played a computer game on our TV along with Sharon and grandchildren recently and found that President's Day is the least liked holiday in the United States. It's just another day off to most, its seems. Little thought is given to who it honors or abort presidents in general. Although presidents are the most important individuals in the world and in America, it seems they are not very high on the list of many American's of today. I question why this is? Our very existence as a nation...our survival is in their hands and yet they are not honored.

They have a list out that I've seen of the most disliked and mistrusted professions. Sad to say, but I think the United States President comes some where on that list with most individuals. At least, that's what it appears to me. Why is this? I have my own ideas. How sad for America. Something to think about.

February 20, 2006

I was just thinking how scents trigger our emotions and thoughts. Be it perfume, air freshner,scented oil or candles. I'm so glad I can smell. What a gift. There are times when smelling affects us reversely, like when a skunk is in the area, for example. However....most times I feel that being able to smell is a very special gift to us.

The smell of Vanilla can send me right into my mom's kitchen. She would bake three to four pies weekly for the family. They were delicious and smelled oh so good. The smell of vanilla would fill the air and as a child...I was right there. Many times Mom would take a piece of left over ...what ever the pie shell is made out of, and put sugar on it and give to me. Nice treat, and then I got to clean the baking bowel out. Another treat.

I recently purchased a car freshener that is called cotton line. I can't wait to open it. The picture on the container had a clothes line with clothes hanging on it. I can just imagine that this scent will take me into the yard where our old clothes line was. Mom washed clothes on a certain day each week and would hand them out to dry on the clothes line for the fresh air to dry. I imagine that the scent from the car freshener will bring me zooming back to those days of old.

I have many good memories from my childhood and I enjoy revisiting them if only for a time. If it takes aromatic scents to do it, let it begin.

I've discovered that Yankee is a great brand to use if you are interested. This is an unpaid for advertisement. Lots of laughs.

February 21, 2006

I was just thinking about my taste buds. Another gift to us. I've heard individuals say that they could no longer taste. That their taste buds were not working. How sad. I would sure miss mine. I love to taste. To savor the food. Oh my...Some foods and dishes prepared just taste sooo good. There are very few foods that I don't like. Usually simple old recipes. Growing up I was accustomed to simple German Swiss cooking with few spices. I enjoy tasting new recipes and foods, but I also like returning to what I grew up with. My wife, Sharon is a great cook and enjoys cooking. Just like her Mom before her. My Mom was also a great cook.

There are those that seem to just have a way of making food taste good. They can take a plain ordinary vegetable or fruit and make it into something delicious. The aroma or scent of the food begins and my taste buds finish it for me.

I have my favorite foods, dishes and casseroles and Sharon knows them well. I look forward to meal time and occasionally going out to a near by favorite resturant.It's a special time to enjoy. Of course the company makes it even more enjoyable.

Who was it that said the way to a man's heart was through his stomach?

February 22, 2006

I was just thinking about the recent death of one of my hero's, Coretta Scott King, wife of the famous great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She joined her husband in that special place called Heaven. Coretta carried on the legacy of her husband's voice who was tragically silenced, making a lasting contribution to freedom and equality that has made America a better and more compassionate nation. They together awakened the conscience of America that began the journey toward equality, knocking down the walls of discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity, although we have a long way to go. The battle is not over. Coretta was the first lady of the civil rights movement and will be sadly missed by many of us.

I can do little, but the little I can do, I gladly do to help carry on the work that was begun by the King's.

February 23, 2006

My Grandson Darren, left me a recipe book he enjoys for me to look at. He seems to like reading me some of the recipes in it on occasion. The book is called "Gross Grub" by Cheryl Porter. "Wretched Recipes That Look Yucky but Taste Yummy." Looking at the contents, I see unappetizers,septic salads and scummy soups, main curses, filthy fluids and squeamish sweets.

I'll include one of the better recipes called dead sea soup. It says it's "straight from the unclean oceans of the world, this soup adds new meaning to he word seasick."

In case your interested, here's the recipe copied from the recipe book:

1 celery heart and surrounding whitish leafy stalks
1 small jar artichoke hearts
1 (10 and a half ounce) can chicken and rice soup
Blue and green food coloring
1 cup fish-shaped crackers

Tools needs are:
Cutting board
Large saucepan
Soup ladle
4 soup bowls

For more hands on suggestions you must purchase the book. Lots of laughs

Now that I've shared with you a recipe book that seems to delight little Darren, I think I'll give it back to him. I just lost my appetite. Hope I didn't spoil yours.

February 24, 2006

I was sitting in my easy boy chair sipping on my morning coffee as I looked out our front window. This is the usual way I begin my morning. I was watching the birds on the birdfeeder outside our screened in front porch. I can observe them well from where I sit without scaring them away. There were many birds, both big and small sitting on the birdfeeder, but it appeared that the bird feed was almost gone. I decided to put on my shoes, go outside and fill the bird feeder. I knew this would frighten the birds away so I whistled as I did my job. Now, I don't know if I sound like a bird, but I try to, and to my joy, I found that not long after I returned inside and sat back in my chair, that the birds returned and continued to enjoy their morning feast.

I enjoy my fine feathered friends. In the evening they return for another feast and I get to watch them again. I had to chase a frisky squirrel away from close to the birdfeeder as I often do. I like my squirrels but they can be such pests and they also clean out the bird feeder rather quickly

Between the birds and the squirrels, I have plenty of entertainment right outside of my window. I enjoy simple pleasures like this more than complicated and expensive pleasures.

February 25, 2006

Don Knotts, "TV's lovable nerd," died at age 81 recently. He kept me laughing as the bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" that I watched and enjoyed for many years. The show ran from 1960-1968. It was very popular.

Don or should I say Barney, carried with him a bullet in his shirt pocket that he was allowed after shooting himself in the foot. His constant fumbling was typical of his self deprecating humor that made me like him so much.

America doesn't seem to laugh much anymore. I think we've forgotten the value of laughter as we speed down the fast road to no where.

I still watch reruns when I get the opportunity and they still make me laugh and give me a good feeling.

I like the fact that humor is a part of me. I enjoy laughing and making other's laugh. Laughter is good for us, bringing relief from the cares of the day and relieving some of life's pain, if for only a few moments.

Sharon and I had the opportunity to stop at Mount Airy, North Carolina which is dubbed Mayberry. Mayberry, We spent some time there walking down the main street of where the Andy Griffith Show was tapped. I looked in the old barber shop, the dinner and other places that were featured frequently on the show. I ended up purchasing a cook book of favorite recipes from Mayberry. A good memory of the past.

I will miss Don Knotts, alias Deputy Barney Fife.

February 26, 2006

I saw the old saying recently,"ignorance is bliss." I began to think about what it means for me today. From college days on, I've been on a search for truth. I was taught in college not to just take something at it's word, but to look beneath and beyond it for meaning. Why do I think the way I think? Why do I feel and believe what I believe? Our beliefs and knowledge make us who we are. "This is what I was taught to believe" is not good enough for me. It's not what Mom believed or the Reverend believes or my political party believes. What do I believe and why? Our beliefs are formed by knowledge, hopefully. Knowledge is based on not feelings but on education. In my belief and knowledge system is plenty of room for faith. My faith is based upon belief in knowledge I've obtained from something written or heard. What has been written or heard must be based on knowledge, wisdom, study and at times plain faith.

In this day and age, with knowledge at an all time high, there is no excuse for me to be ignorant. There are books, computers, around the clock news on TV and radio. Magazines and newspapers. I also use God's word, the Bible in many different versions. My favorite, being The Message by Eugene Peterson by Nav Press. I skim two newspapers, a local, Palatka Daily News and The Florida Times Union out of Jacksonville. I watch CNN daily along with other TV stations for additional news.I visit Barnes and Nobles Book Store often to catch up on some of the latest offerings in books, magazines and newspapers. The local library is also a source of education. I also like to read for the pure enjoyment of reading. I love it and can't seem to get enough of it. I'm sure the time will come when this is not possible for me and although I am slipping, I still have that strong desire within.

If I can do this as one affected with dementia, how much more should other's be able to seek education, information and the facts. I don't believe that ignorance has to be bliss. I find education and truth to be bliss.

I think basically people believe what they want to believe. They see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. Perhaps many feel that too much truth can be a killjoy. Who cares if what we believe is not true? Just bury one's head in the sand or in a pillow. If it makes me feel good, then that's a good enough reason to go with it. There are those that seem to yearn for illusion, the counterfeit, the false or make believe. What's good enough for Pa is good enough for me mentality. Pa may have been correct but then again, I need to explore what Pa believed.

I see this in the world of dementia many times. Only a small percentage of those affected by this disease seek help. Many never attend support meetings or read about their disease. Some refuse to educate themselves or put into practice what they are taught by educated leaders.

I see this in the world of religion. False religions are many and new religions are gaining followers. The conservative Christian church is almost entirely behind the President of the United States, no matter how much he deceives us and lies to us. Polls show that the church which I am a part of is still supporting unchristian actions and lack of action in Washington, DC The blind continue to lead the blind and America and the world suffer for it.

Even with my dementia I continue to seek truth and knowledge. I continue to choose to make myself aware of my world and it's surroundings. I choose to look at all sides of the issue, not just my side. Do I remember all that I read, study or hear? Of course not. But I still push on, watching the news, reading, surfing the net, discussing what I've discovered and asking for different views too consider. There are things I do not understand, there are things I need to read over and over, questions need to be ask, but I keep searching for truth, attempting to apply it to my ever changing life and using it to hopefully make the world a better place for all of us.

February 27, 2006

I was just sitting there thinking about the other morning. I woke up in a fog. I think it may have been a little more heavy than it usually is. I made my way to our one cup coffee maker and prepared my coffee, or at least that's what I thought I did. It wasn't long before the bell went off on the coffee maker letting me know that the coffee was done. Off I went to get my morning refreshment. To my astonishment, I had a cup of hot water waiting for me with no coffee in sight. Where was my coffee?

Well, I guess I had forgot to put the ingredients in the water, so I put put the coffee and water back into the coffee maker. After a little time, I noticed I didn't hear the usual gurgles the machine makes. I think it may need cleaned. I went to check on my coffee. This time I had forgotten to turn the coffee maker on.

I finally sat down in my rocking chair recliner by the window, eager to sip my morning brew and watch the birds and squirrels who feed close to my front window. I began drinking my coffee when I noticed it was a bit sweet. Really more than a bit.I later discovered that I had put two packets of Splenda into the coffee maker. No wonder it was sweet. I usually only use one packet per cup.

What a morning. I know we all have these fun times but I just thought I'd share this one with you.

February 28, 2006

Being sure of things is no longer right for me. Just perhaps it never was.No one can be right all of the time. This is what happened. I put it there. I'm sure I told you that. This is what you said. I'm just sure...Am I really sure?

My reality is different from others and I have poor judgment. I make mistakes. I see and hear things that really didn't happen. I miss things. At times I don't see and hear things.I'm not always wrong but there are times...

I can become belligerent about all this and say without a doubt, this is what happened but am I really sure? Am I certain one hundred percent? Well, no, I'm not. Perhaps...just perhaps I should be thinking more about saying that I think this is what happened. I'm pretty sure I said that. I can no longer be so sure in what I think or say. This reality is difficult for me to accept. I don't like it and there's little I can do to change it.It goes against my pride. My ego become involved at times. I work on changing it, but I realize deep down that my efforts alone will not totally change what's happened to me. A thief called dementia has stolen some of my abilities and the abilities I still have keep changing on me.

When I'm so certain of things, it can cause problems and more difficulty for those who love us and work with us. When I am more open to suggestions, I can keep my dignity and still be open to the possibility that I might have made a mistake. An error in judgement. It may have been me that misplaced that item. I may have been responsible for what ever happened.There are times I am right...and then there are times when I am wrong. Sorry is a word we perhaps could use more often.

I feel that a good caregiver will not constantly point out our weakness. They will not nit pick. Loving us is working with us, not offending us unnecessarily. Making a point that one is always right is not becoming.

As we work together, as a team, life can be so much easier on both of us.

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