Day 365


What a bittersweetness I am feeling. In fact, writing my very last blog has overshadowed and superseded the reality of turning 61. I truly nearly forgot.

When I am close to finishing a book that I have really enjoyed, I experience a homesick-thirsty feeling. If I have about 10 pages left, I dole them out carefully. I save those last few pages to read until I can sit quietly, not feel rushed, and not be interrupted. I want to cherish and be entrenched in the ending. Occasionally when I finish a book, I actually miss the characters for a period of time.

My heart is heavy as I write this blog. It feels similar to finishing a great book. 

A few of you have been with me from the beginning. You have been incredibly faithful. My gratitude is fathomless. I am deeply humbled by your kindness. 

I will miss speaking to you every day.

Though I am ready for a bit of a respite, this is not the end. My plan is to begin the tedious task of going back and reading through the nearly 138,000 words I have written and begin an editing process. A thought from the beginning was to compile this into a book. I will begin that journey. 

My website will remain the same and I will give periodic updates, so stay tuned. I have had many thoughts about if and how to continue. I may write a “Weekly Wednesday” blog to keep my connection.

To stay tethered to your hearts. 

What day is it?” asked Pooh.

It’s today,” squealed Piglet.

My favorite day,” said Pooh.

A Silver Lining

I am writing from a place of frustration at the moment. By this evening when I have gone through my day and found joy and hit the reset button, I will possibly regret writing from this mindset. But I stated from the beginning that I want to be transparent in this endeavor. If we cannot write from a place of authenticity, what is the point?

I am 60 years old, five days away from being 61. I seemingly cannot consistently carve out one hour a week to go a local yoga class. It is offered twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but geez…let’s not get too crazy. I wouldn’t want to ask for the moon.

This morning I awakened early at Mama’s house. I browned a nice beef roast in olive oil and salt and pepper. I peeled potatoes then cut them into hearty little chunks and placed them in the bottom of a crock pot. I then put the nicely seared roast over the potatoes and sprinkled onion soup mix over the top. I set it to low so that it could cook for a solid eight to nine hours and be ready for Mama’s dinner. I told her she could smell it all day long and give her something to look forward to. She didn’t quite understand.

After that, I attempted to help Mama comprehend what the day would be like; the comings and goings. She shook her head (negatively) and asked why we were doing this to her. 

We found agreeable clothes to put on and headed to the kitchen for coffee. She sipped her morning brew, sweetened with French vanilla creamer and stared at me. “Were you here with me last night?” She asked. “Yes”, I said. “We made a good dinner and talked and even laughed a bit. Later we ate ice-cream on your balcony then came back inside to sing songs from the church hymnal until our voices gave out. Do you remember?” Her reply “Not really.” Sigh. 

Sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference if we sat and did nothing all evening. All efforts to fill her time and bring her joy seem to evaporate by morning. Although in my serene mindset I know that it is indeed worth it, if not for her, then for me.

Knowing I would need to leave her by 9:10 to make it to yoga, I quickly got myself dressed in yoga-appropriate clothing, side-braided my hair and packed up my overnight bag. 

As life goes, things happen. A bit of extended time comforting Mama. A washing of the searing skillet and cleanup. A conversation that was needed. And I’m not out the door till 9:20. I thought I could still make it, while maintaining road safety. About two miles from my destination was a lane closure with lined up traffic while two large cement trucks took their sweet time backing into a new housing development. That pushed the possibilities over the edge. 

I circled back around and headed for home, defeated. I walked into the house, finding Noah working on his school schedule and lamented to him about my morning. He understood, as much as he was able.

There are those pouting, toned-down temper tantrums we occasionally throw in an adult form. I tossed one right then and there. 

As the old adage goes when a young couple has a fight about who should take out the trash, it’s not really about the trash. And this morning, it wasn’t totally about yoga. It was more about being in a place where ‘things’ prevented a small staking of a claim for oneself. 

As stated in my first paragraph, by evening I will be fine. I will be smiling and grateful. 

I will realize that this extra hour in my morning allowed me to spend time at my desk, which perhaps was even more therapeutic.

National Root Beer Float Day

I had “a day”. Had a morning of meetings then scrambled home to do a couple quick chores; wash and dry a load of towels, pay a few bills, then back out to be with Mama.

I had asked my dear cousin, JK, to meet me at an exit off of the highway on her way home and bring Mama to me. The screen on Mama’s cell phone (old fashioned flip phone) had become completely blank.  She was able to receive calls, though it was impossible to identify the caller, and it was very difficult for her to make a call. We needed a visit to the phone store. 

On the way to meet them, I (wrongly) assumed I could quickly swing by the bank drive-thru and make a deposit. I waited at the drive-thru for 11 minutes. I considered backing out and pulling back around the front to just run inside. As Murphy’s law normally flows, I felt sure that the moment I backed out, the car ahead of me would have completed her transaction. Nevertheless, I did it.

I went inside only to discover three people in line ahead of me. There was one, ONE man serving the drive-thru window, the inside counter and a telephone that would not stop ringing. Through a glass pane I could see a woman sitting at her desk poking around on her computer. Another man was tapping his fingers on his desk as if he were bored. I waited and waited and debated. My neck was beginning to feel hot. I calmly but firmly said out loud “Is there anyone else who can help here?”  Finally, the tapping man came out and said “Oh, Jerry (chicken-with-head-cut-off man) will be with you soon. I was losing my cool. I knew that dear JK and Mama were waiting for me.

When you are 60 years old and in these situations, you begin to question yourself. Am I just crabby today or is something seriously wrong here? Do I say something and look like a cranky “older” woman or do I continue to sweat into the collar of my Gap pink gingham shirt? Am I simply saying what everyone else is thinking? I’m sure I got a few eye-rolls after I finally got my deposit made and quietly announced that this was the most inefficient bank visit I have ever had. When do you speak truth and when do you just roll with it and accept the injustice?

Well, since it is National Root Beer Float Day, Mama and I had to indulge. My hot neck and sassy mouth most definitely needed a cool down and the deliciously decadent root beer float did the trick.




About a year ago I began a process of helping Mama with her hundreds of photos. We created a system of using photo boxes and with a Sharpie, writing on the box the name of each one of the children; my three siblings and myself. When we saw a photo that was strictly that person’s family, it went into their box. For random photos or Christmas photos and group photos, we put them into chronological order by year. There were also several generations of black and white photos; my grandparents era and then my parents dating/wedding/young family era. What a job! We worked on them for weeks but then life happened. I got busier with my job and family and we put the photo sorting on hold.

Today I was back in the basement at the ping-pong table, where the photos job began. What an emotional roller coaster it was. I smiled at fun pictures and had tears with sweet/sad ones. I saw photos of my two brothers, who died far too young. It is crushing to look at their grade school pictures and realize the outcome of those tender years. 

I ran across the above photo in a box that contained similarly staged photos of my siblings from their school picture day. It was sixth grade. 

I am on the front row, second from the left. I remember the outfit well; a cherry-red jumper with a starched white blouse, and knee socks. I also remember being a bit jealous of the two girls on either side of me with their white “leotards”. Always on the fashion awareness edge. 

Except for seven or eight, I was able to recall the name of every kid in that photo. Amazing. This is, of course, the way our minds work, which reveals itself continually in people with dementia. Those memories that are so pressed down and layered into our brains, are retained, whereas the newer memories have not quite taken root.

I do wonder what all of these classmates of mine are up to these days. It would be fun to have a crystal ball and be able to peer into their lives. There is one thing I know for sure, which is that they are all my age.

Being an August birthday, many or most are probably already 61 years old. When I was young, it was always a point of contention to be the youngest in the class–everyone else getting to 12 years old before me, then 16, then 18. I was always lagging behind in the age race. 

But now, well, I don’t mind one bit dragging up the rear in catching up with my classmates. For 19 more days, I can state that I am only 60. So there, Vickie and Becky, sitting on either side of me with your fancy white pantyhose. 


In 20 days I will be 61 years old. My daily blog will come to an end on August 21. I am feeling a bitter-sweetness about the arrival of this anniversary date. It has been an amazing journey. As in all journeys, it has been fraught with a collision of emotions, as well as losses and gains. I will be writing about those things in the next couple of weeks. But for now, let’s stay on the path together and remain steady and strong.

This evening as I sit at my desk, I hear the jigsaw sound of cicadas which always signifies a hot summer night. The buzzing becomes louder and high-pitched, then retreats, only to cycle again. It is constant. On the low end of the buzzing cycle, I hear cricket calls, so desperate for love. They go till dawn. 

Summer. Yet, tonight these sounds have a finality to them. It is as if the insects are scrambling for a humongous block party. They sent out the message and all are responding. One last hurrah! 

Perhaps it is simply the butterfly effect. The Butterfly Effect is a term coined by Edward Lorenz and is a concept that states “small causes can have larger effects”.  It is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado being influenced by minor stresses or disturbances such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Fascinating. 

Minor stresses and disturbances most certainly influence bigger things. One year and 20 days ago I began the tiny flapping of butterfly wings. The oscillation has continued and grown. I have picked up momentum. 

It is an inevitable life truth. All movement leads somewhere. I may not be sure where I am going, but I’m in motion. 

Summer Fizzle

I made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning for a few necessities. When I turned to head down the “summer” aisle, this is what I saw. All summer stuff was clearance at 70% off. The ominous blue sign was hanging from the ceiling and the obligatory boxes on the floor held pencils and folders and glue and scissors and loose leaf paper and dread, for kids, anyway.

Wait…summer is over? It is only July 14. I haven’t even had on a swimsuit (not that I want to.) I haven’t yet been to a body of water (except the one in my clogged bathtub.) I haven’t had grilled chicken or made s’mores or been fishing or gone camping or received a sunburn. 

Later in the day I stopped by another store to pick up some candles and they had fall foliage and all things autumn on the shelves. I wanted to protest but when you are 60 years old and protest about something, you just look old and cranky. So I let out a big sigh and found my candles.

Tonight I heard the quintessential loud summer melody of crickets mixed with the low hum of cicadas. It is that sound that often accompanies humidity, mosquitoes and lightening bugs. But tonight it had a sad note, like an end of summer reprise, like a swan song.

Summer is actually not my favorite season. I do not love the heat, I do not love the constant yard work and weeding and flower watering. I do not love the schedule of long days and irregularity and people out of town. I enjoy the consistency of fall and winter. 

But I also do not love the idea of rushing a season. It is not time for school. It is not time for wool sweaters. It is not time for gold mums and orange pumpkins. I will love those things when it is their time. But it is not yet their time and I do not want to be told otherwise. 

There ya go. 

Christmas in July

Being with Mama is a bit like living out A Christmas Carol. She wants to understand and have explained the ghosts of her past, her present, and her future.

From my “Good morning” greeting to her until I give her one last drink of water at bedtime, I feel like Jacob Marley, showing her all events of her life before this moment, in this moment and in the moments yet to come.

Mama has an enormous capability to recall the past, which is, for some, a very typical characteristic of dementia. So we talk about the past. We walk through darkened halls of sorrow and then back into the light of sweet memories. 

The ghost of the present is a real challenge. For Mama, the present truly is the moment at hand. The present as recent as last night’s phone call from my sister, or breakfast this morning, or even watering flowers an hour ago is gone. 

The biggest challenge is the ghost of the future. These questions can only be answered loosely, as all future plans must be held. 

Ghosts of the past, present, and future haunt all of us to some degree; what we did or didn’t do, what we should or shouldn’t do, what we hope or fear for the days/years to come. 

The past is unalterable. The future is uncertain. And the present can feel elusive. These realizations are driven home each time I am with Mama. As if that needs to be any huger, combine that with being 60 and well…the royal blues can set in. 

God bless us, every one. 

Healthy Thursday

In January, I wrote a blog called Reality Yoga, lamenting that the pleasant, but factual, 35ish year old instructor, kindly pointed out (aloud but with yoga voice) that I should take it at my own pace. “Yoga is not about winning. We do not want injury to show that you are able to do exactly the same moves as everyone else in the room.” 

I wanted to yell out: “I am not new to this world. I worked as a certified personal trainer. I know how this works. I used to say the same things to my ‘older’ clients.”

But that would have only made me look (and sound) my age. One of many life lessons that 60 year-olds learn.

So I smiled and nodded and pushed myself harder than she recommended. 

And I kept going, week after week. 

One would think that at age 60, it would not be a monumental task to get to an hour long yoga class once a week. The class is offered twice a week but let’s not get crazy.

I am still working part-time as a writer for a magazine. I help care for my dear mama. Married to a busy physician, I am in charge of the care and feeding of our home, literally and figuratively. I also have one son living at home, finishing up college, and another one, who has been back home for about a month as he transitions to another job in possibly another city. It’s all good, but busy. 

This morning when I walked into the yoga room there was a sign on the door stating “Yoga is pool-side this morning.”

I grabbed a rolled-up mat from the large cubby and headed out, hoping very much that we were not in the sun since I had failed to apply sunscreen. At last minute, though, I did grab my summer-white, large framed sunglasses.

As I walked toward the pool, I was glad to see a striped canvas-covering where women were gathering. My instructor said: “Oh, it’s you, Rebecca. When I saw you walking over here, I thought there was a celebrity taking my class this morning.” Ding-ding-ding!!! Yes.

I am feeling so much better about yoga. I am learning the names and the movements and am now often able to anticipate the next step. 

And a small victory, in class today, my instructor (aloud but with yoga voice) said to one of the ‘newbies’, “See what Rebecca is doing, that is the correct form”. Again, yes!

I’m certainly not able to perform the full-thrust of what some of the thirty-somethings are able to do. I cannot ‘flip my dog’ and may never get there, which is so very okay.

As are most new paths that we choose, yoga has been a lesson in persistence and discipline. And as Nicole (yoginī girl) said back in January, the first time I attended, “Go at your own pace. This is about your own journey.” 

As the hour closes in, following shavasana, I am not bothered by the statement that ends every class as we put our thumb knuckles to our ‘third eye’ and together say ‘Namaste’, simply meaning ‘I bow to you’. This insinuates that learning and wisdom are exchanged among everyone in the room. It is a reverential and honoring salutation.

Namaste indeed. 

Putting your money where your mouth Is

Last year Walmart became the first company in U.S. history to generate $500 billion in annual sales, Fortune reported on May 21 in the business magazine’s ranking for 2017. FIVE HUNDED BILLION. That is a lot of Cheetos. 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant is the biggest winner in Fortune magazine’s annual Fortune 500 ranking of the nation’s largest corporations, grabbing the top spot for the 14th time and sixth year in a row. 

Other winners on the annual list included Exxon Mobil, which returned to the No. 2 spot and shopping/delivery powerhouse Amazon, which moved into the top 10 for the first time and ranks eighth. 

Apple fell one spot to the ranking’s fourth position despite a 6% gain in annual sales. Still, this tech Godzilla grabbed the title of Fortune 500’s most valuable company. Apple reported $48 billion in profits, leading all companies in that category for the fourth consecutive year. 

Other corporations in the top 10 included billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, UnitedHealth Group, health care company McKesson, CVS Pharmacy, AT&T and General Motors. 

Seventeen companies debuted on the Fortune 500 list for 2017. Two of those first-time winners were fragrance and beauty product company Coty and beauty store chain Ulta Beauty. Interesting.

Some of us are on consistent scavenger hunts for a delicious-smelling fragrance or the latest lip plumper that rivals Angelina Jolie’s pout, or 18 year-old eyebrows, or a blushy bronzer that gives us Chrissy Teigen cheeks.

I am guessing that if a study were conducted, many of those women pushing Coty and Ulta up the Fortune 500 list, would be 60 years olds willing to lay money on the counter to purchase a bit of lost youth. 

As I said, I’m just guessing

Not so Healthy Thursday

What is it about traveling that makes us think calories don’t count? We are en route to New Haven, Connecticut for our oldest son’s graduation from Yale. We are quite proud indeed.

When I am on a road trip, I find myself eating things that I would never (or rarely) eat at home. 

Our first stop was when we were still in our city. On the way to the highway, we went to Panera for lunch. I got a healthy big salad, with apple, not baguette. Good choice.

Once I leave my own town, game’s on. I sense a food freedom. 

By Wheeling, West Virginia, I was eating chicken nuggets doused in sweet and sour sauce and drinking oh so sugary raspberry lemonade.

In New Bedford, Pennsylvania, we stopped at one of those center island one-stop-shopping places on the Pennsylvania turnpike. It was a beautiful building; large gray stone with white trim and white railings. We filled the car with gas and purchased a large cup of deep fried dough balls, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. 

We have now checked into a nice hotel outside Harrisburg. It is late but I made a cup of hot green tea in the hotel lobby and we shared a cinnamon roll that we warmed in the small microwave in our room. 

The framed pictures on the wall in our room are advertising everything Hershey, PA, which makes me crave chocolate. Sigh. 

Tomorrow I will do better. Boiled eggs for breakfast, sans bacon and biscuits. Grab a few pieces of fruit from the hotel breakfast bar and I’ll be good to go. 

If I can avoid the always tempting packages of caramel cremes and bags of salty Funyuns, I will make it to New Haven in time for something really healthy, like a large New York style pizza with everything. 

Eating on the road is certainly not a calorie-free zone. And once in a while that is okay. We are on a celebration trip. When I get home, I will get back onto the healthy eating train.

When you are 60 years old, that train takes a little longer to board but the trip is always worth it.