As I write this on a Sunday morning from Lancaster, PA at one of my favorite campgrounds, I am very aware that I’ve not written a post in quite a while. There were many days that I felt I need to write, but didn’t or couldn’t because there simply wasn’t time before the next major event.
My three-week whirlwind officially started on Sunday October 21st as I worked one of my Verger assignments at church. Usually after church I grab and bite and head home. But that day, I took a drive to the picturesque city of Hershey, PA and spent the afternoon with 28 caregivers from a company called Specialty Home Care. That event came about after several of their caregivers attended another event I did in Hershey earlier this year. Specialty Home Care management wanted all of their caregivers to be Uplifted so after sharing “Lifting of the Spirit of the Caregiver” with half the staff, I returned after work on October 25th and gave an evening presentation to the remaining 26 caregivers. Both sessions were powerful and there were tears and laughter and plenty of love too. The owners of Specialty Home Care were so moved by my presentations that they purchased 70 copies of Refreshments for the Caregiver’s Spirit as gifts for all of their caregivers. Watching them receiving personalized copies of my book with a hug from the owner was amazing!!
On October 22nd I took Mom to an appointment with a new neurologist who specializes in patients with dementia. He was a fairly young doctor but we connected immediately. I was primarily there to ask about getting a drug for Mom to help her sleep as her wandering through the night at Lifesprings Eldercare was keeping other residents awake and the staff very busy. Though I’m very opposed to drugs that in my mind knock dementia patients out, Dr Starr made me feel very comfortable about the very small dose of a drug that would help Mom sleep through the night without making her zombie-like. He restored my faith that there are doctors who actually care about their patients and have great bedside manners too!
On October 24th, the new term began at Webster University where I’ve taught for 20 years now. This semester I was not only teaching the security management class I helped to develop many years at the Joint Base Andrews campus, I was also teaching it online with a total of 18 students. Though I was very worried I had bitten off too much, both classes are a Joy, with students very interested and engaged!
Next up was the Halloween Dance at church on October 26th where I went as Prince’s Purple Rain complete with purple hair, hat and rain boots, all of which I already owned due to the fact that purple is the color for Alzheimer’s awareness. While I had a good time for the most part at the dance, I actually danced very little… aware that I am a single person and VERY aware that night of all of the happy couples in attendance. I was tired after my busy week so I left the dance fairly early, but I admit I was as sad as I was tired.
I was uplifted on October 28th when Lifesprings Eldercare hosted their 2nd annual tea party for residents and family members with beautiful hats and all. To say that Mom and I enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement! When she saw herself in the mirror in her hat and suit, she immediately smiled a smile I hadn’t seen in years and said “I look pretty”, which she definitely did!! I was proud to be her guest that day as she sipped her tea and ate the sandwiches and desserts! I also realized that it was the first “official” tea Mom and I had been to together, which is odd because Mom has loved tea for her entire life.
We went back to my favorite internist Dr. Idoko, for Mom’s follow-up visit on October 30th primarily so we could order pullups for Mom instead of adult diapers because Mom loves to tear them off by pulling off the tape. With the pullups she won’t be able to do that. It’s a good thing we had an appointment that day, because the group home had notified me that while rummaging through her closet the night before Mom must have hit her head and a huge knot appeared there the next day. But Dr. Idoko assured us that all was well and the bruise and knot would go away in a couple of weeks.
On Friday November 2nd, Mom moved to another group home within the Lifesprings Eldercare system of three homes. The owner, Fay Hutchinson, was gracious enough to take Mom on July 1st even though she didn’t have a “waiver bed” (a subsidy program) available at that time. She let me know that Mom would have to move to a double room when one became available. The new home is even more beautiful than the first one, and I didn’t have to lift one finger to assist with the move because the caregivers did it all, including transporting Mom to the new place. I went over to the new place immediately after work and Mom seemed to be having the time of her life! She barely said hello as she was engaging with the other residents. I was so relieved that all was well and laughed all the way home after leaving her.
The next day on November 3rd, I gave a presentation for the Alzheimer’s Association at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD. To say that it went well wouldn’t quite do it justice. There was so much energy and excitement from the moment the conference began and the energy continued to build as I began my keynote presentation! The crowd just roared their approval, jumping from their seats before the last word was even out of my mouth. They showed their appreciation even further by purchasing every book I had with me, and I took orders for others and mailed them the next Monday. It was the largest one day of sales I’ve had since my books were published! It was an event I won’t forget for a long time.
I gave another presentation on the evening of November 8th at The Jefferson, A Sunrise Community in Arlington, VA to an intimate audience of family members and staff. There were great refreshments and great questions which led to folks hanging around to chat at the end of the event. I also had the pleasure of taking one of my young co-workers with me that night, who wanted to “see me in action”. She was thrilled and said I did a great job!
I managed to spend family time too during this three-week whirlwind, first with my daughter Kim on November 4th as we took a step towards forgiveness after an estrangement this past summer, and then with my cousin JoAnne on November 5th to celebrate her birthday. I was also with my bestie Kris on November 6th as her Dad passed away at Calvert Hospital. I had the honor of saying a prayer and grieving with my family before heading home again.
Some may ask why my schedule is always so packed, and how I manage to keep it all going. The easy answer is that I always have a goal, a reward for myself, that ends the long hours and running here and there with a chance to recharge. That time is now, at this campground, with a group of women, RVing Women to be exact, that I’ve come to love. Spending this Pre-Thanksgiving Rally Celebration with them was what I had been building up to… a time I knew that for four days in a row I could rest, relax, laugh, cry, walk, and reflect. Being with these women always reminds me that I can do anything. That I can drive my JOY here alone, and can now complete small repairs JOY may need, and that JOY and the woods around us this weekend give me the peace and solitude I need. JOY has become my refuge.
In spite of the fact that this is the last camping event of the season, I have HUGE plans for 2019. My calendar in 2019 will be filled with less events and more “me time”. When I give my last presentation of the year on November 16th in Chicago, I’ll spend the rest of this year planning more fun for 2019! There will be more Miles for me to cover and Many More Lessons for me to learn and I can’t wait!! I hope you have great plans too!!