My mom was always a very musically inclined person–not only she was a gifted musician who played several instruments (the guitar, the French horn, and the flute, to name a few), but she also just loved listening to a variety of different bands and musicians across genres. My mom passed on her love for Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel, Queen, and “oldies” to me. So many of my memories of her and my childhood are infused with the sounds of her and my dad’s music blaring the speakers in the living room or the old Pontiac Bonneville.
And music continues to be one of the strongest threads that connect us to who my mother was before the illness started to take over. The minute you turn on the Solid Gold Oldies station, she is singing, clapping, snapping, and stomping. And her clarity seems to improve almost instantly. She is more engaged, more happy, more alive than she was just minutes prior.
This morning I spent a few hours with her before my grandmom came to pick her up. We listened to oldies and I sang along (loudly and badly) while she whistled and snapped along (in proper rhythm, I might add). The highlight was when “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” started playing. Not only was she really into it, but she was also making it very obvious that she found my falsetto questionable (a fair observation).
It was nice to share a laugh with her and realize that you can still find happiness and normalcy in situations that, on the surface, seem like they leave no room for such luxuries.
A few nights ago, my brother, his wife, me, and D all sat around their kitchen table, eating dinner together and shooting the shit. It was my brother’s 42nd birthday, and so we were spending the day together, relaxing and hanging out. It also happened to be the day of my cousin’s funeral. Continue reading →
I like to think I’ve been getting better about writing more regularly, but I just realized I haven’t been posting as consistently as I thought. I blame this in part to the fact that we are somehow barreling through March at a breakneck pace (seriously, I’m pretty sure it took twice as long for us to get through February and it’s 3 days shorter!), but it could also have something to do with the fact I’ve been busy. I am taking comfort in the fact that this is partially due to the fact I’ve been writing other things for other sites. That counts for something, right? Continue reading →
Well, I can’t post much right now because I need to start my work day soon, but I wanted to share some exciting news for those of you who might not already know: xojane.com published one of my articles yesterday!! I am so beyond excited and thrilled for the opportunity and am completely blown away by the response I’ve received so far, both from people close to me and from people I’ve never met. It’s been so awesome to read all the responses and get so much feedback, although admittedly it’s a bit bittersweet (it sucks to know so many other people understand the pains of Alzheimer’s firsthand…).
But the experience has definitely reenergized me and I’m even more focused than before to get my writing out there and to keep finding avenues where I can promote my work. And I really hope I get the opportunity to work with xoJane.com again–what an awesome publication to write for! (The same day my article premiered, they posted a piece by one of my favorite comediennes, Lisa Lampanelli!!)
So… I’m stoked, and humbled, and grateful, and overwhelmed, and excited. 2013 is my year, damnit, and this is just the beginning.
Today the Holiday Music Bracket officially started at my work. My friend Dave and I put it together, using suggestions from our co-workers. For the first round, we had a little fun with the match-ups, pitting songs against each other that created some kind of theme. We had one battle royale of “A Very Motown Christmas,” which had Otis Redding vs The Drifter’s version of “White Christmas.”
When I was in second grade, I was enrolled in CCD at our church. The point was to instill me with a more fundamental knowledge of our faith — to help me realize more fully what it meant to believe in God, and what it meant to be Catholic. There was a textbook, with pastel paintings of Jesus and his disciples, helping the sick and feeding the poor. There were tests — memorizing the Commandments and reciting the Our Father. I needed to learn these things to make my first Holy Communion, to advance in my faith. The weight of the spiritual world was essentially resting on my shoulders, being this was the first rite of Christian passage that I actively was participating in.
But none of that mattered. The fear and anxiety of the tests and the practicing and the ultimatums (“If you don’t learn this, you won’t be able to get Communion,” which loosely translated into “You won’t be able to wear a pretty white dress and have your own special party”) completely paled in comparison to my true source of anxiety every Sunday: the open staircase that led to our classroom. Continue reading →
In my profession, I have worked directly/indirectly with pharmaceutical companies for about 4 years. This has been a bit of a moral struggle for me, between the animal testing and my feelings about profiting off other people’s pain. I try to remain positive about it–to think that there is a “greater good” to this industry–that these corporations are trying to legitimately help people and aren’t just a larger network of charlatans, peddling snake oil and potions to will cure everything and nothing.
But last night I inexplicably became awash with rage as I watched my mother diligently take her handful of pills one by one as we sat at the kitchen table. This has become as routine as eating or sleeping, going to the bathroom, or putting on her shoes. In fact, the other night when I was helping her get ready for bed, she instinctively held out her hand after we finished brushing her teeth, anticipating that I would hand her meds and glass of water. I think about long she’s been taking these medications and how much her condition has worsened in the past year, and beyond that, the past 5 years since her official diagnosis, and I wonder how much good any of it’s actually doing her.
I know there is no cure–I know all the treatments are essentially a crap shoot, and frankly the only thing we can do at this point is cling to the hope these pills bring–not hope for a cure, at least not for my mother, but a hope that it will keep what we have left of her with us a little longer. Beyond that, I have to let go of my cynicism and conspiracies enough to believe that the companies making/manufacturing/selling these drugs have my mother’s–and their other patients’–best intentions in mind.