Wednesday, June 27, 2012


There are questions for which I need answers.  Tough questions concerning this election year.  Questions about how the candidates view our growing elderly population.  Questions about point of view.  Questions that I believe touch all of us - the elderly, their families and the nation as a whole.   

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not belong to a political party because it's the person's record that gets my attention.  Celebrity endorsements, massive campaign contributions and all the media advertising doesn't sway me one bit.  Interviews from panel discussions to news conferences are usually very well rehearsed to avoid turning off voters and staying "on message", so they are not worthy of my attention.  I've worked in the media long enough to know how it all works with campaigns.  (And, I have to say I've always regarded these folks from campaigns as "cam-pains" with the incesant polling telephone calls.) Call it New England pessimism, but it takes a lot to impress me. 

According the Administration on Aging's "Projections for Future Growth" data, there are approximately 57 million folks who turned 60 years old in 2010. The numbers are staggering when one considers the total population of this country stands at 308,745,538.   More recently, the Huffington Post presented this article on caregiving and the numbers are even more telling. Additionally there are approximately 40 million unpaid caregivers in the United States. Why aren't these candidates paying attention to this issue when so many people are affected? 

In the past, politicians have often used the line "for our children's future" to fight terrorism, engage in budget battles, and as an argument for or against health care reform.  Yet, I haven't seen or heard any candidate applying that rhetoric to our elderly population and their caregivers?  Why?  This is an issue that directly impacts our childrens' future.  I know that the election boards in every state visit nursing homes and assisted living centers to aid the elderly in casting their votes, but otherwise the silence leading up to that critical time is deafening.  Our children may or not become caregivers.  Trust me it effects their future.

There's an old saying about "a fence is a strong as its weakest link."  In this case that link in our society must be considered the care of our elders.  Those who came before to craft a nation and honored as the "The Greatest Generation."  If 40 million unpaid caregivers walked away from their loved ones, the economic strain would be huge.  Same has to be true for the unemployment figures because those 40 million caregivers go unreported.  Those 40 million aren't eligible for anything.  Those 40 million caregivers may not be able to leave their homes to vote because they can't leave their loved ones.   Those 40 million are love in action. 

Candidates go on and on about National security, border security, and the threat of terrorism all the while ignoring that which they are going to face somewhere down the road.  If we are to maintain our strength, we must shore up our weakest links.  To be there for our fellow citizens in their last days. Why is the discussion about this issue so weak and elusive?

Is this country only for the young?  For the most productive demographics?  Are we dismissive of the older demographic?  Recently news accounts have announced that the elderly are living too long.  A line to which my mother responded, "Sorry to disappoint you."  What?  Shouldn't that longivity serve as a symbol of our greatness?  Are we turning into a country who believes that folks in their 70s,  80s, and 90's are a detriment?  Someone, please answer the question.  It's disturbing to me that these accounts appear to assign blame for our economic woes on a demographic that may be too fragile to defend themselves.  What does it take for our candidates to acknowledge this important stage of life?

I believe if we are to continue being the great nation that we are, then we have to include care of our elders as a matter of social and economic security.  Proper healthcare programs, support systems for caregivers, and respect for those who came before us have to be of utmost priority.  Politicians may blabber about the need to reduce "entitlement" programs.  Those are the folks who get a checkmark in my "Clueless" column.  To me such statements demonstrate an ignorance that no statesperson should possess. 

If anyone has answers to these questions, perhaps you can share them here.  Until then, I'll just keep asking.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Contest Winner Announcement!

Congrats to Debbie!  She has won the $25.00 Barnes & Noble Gift Card!!!!   Woohoo! 

Stay tuned for July's contest and thank you  for visiting "The Daughter."

And, Happy 63rd Anniversary to my Mother and Father.  In a time when some marriages last 65 minutes, I'm proud of them for sticking together.  In honor of this wonderful occasion, Mother Nature pummeled us with a 100 degrees of hazy, hot, & humid. 

More adventures in caregiving to come...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who Wrote the Book on Caregiving?

The 36 -Hour Day by Nancy L. Mace, M.A and Peter Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.

Late last August when I finally decided to take my folks home from the rehabilitation center, an overall sense of helplessness surrounded me.  Questions circled my head, uncertainty swelled in my stomach.  Where did the answers live?  Who or what resources existed to help me if I need it?

The 36-Hour Day came to me as gift in the form of a recommendation from a friend, so I immediately ordered it and felt like I'd won the lottery when it arrived.  Although no where does this book deal with caregiving a deux, it provides an overall landscape to deal with a such an abrupt turn in the lives of our loved ones and ourselves.

I have to say, this is one of the few books regarding caregiving that attempts to hold up the family and the caregiver.  The authors understand just how deep and real the dynamics are and, in turn, offer suggestions on making life a little better for everyone involved.

So, if you are a caregiver, if you are contemplating caregiving, or are just curious concerning what might be down the road, gift yourself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

Busy bumble bees!
Anise hyssop in bloom!  Yes!
Lemon thyme through new lavender haze
Nice to know she's doing her job.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Have You Seen My Angel?

Last Sunday as I readied Dad for bed, he asked me, "Have you seen my angel?"  The question caught be off guard.  I asked him if he HAD seen his angel.  He said, "No, but they tell me my angel is coming."  I told him that if I saw the angel I would tell him? her? you were waiting.

Now I, for one, believe in those messengers between heaven and earth.  I love looking at magnificent pictures of angels with gossamer wings, protecting us from evil or urging us on to do the right thing.  As a little girl I prayed every night to my guardian angel to keep me safe from monsters that roamed the night or to give me the wisdom to get through a difficult exam.

Dad's question left me wondering about who 'they' were.  Does heaven or the afterlife operate much like the secret service sending an advance team?  Are there celestial beings who prepare the dying to meet their angel?  Really?  A Celestial Advance Team (CAT)?

So, how does one become a CAT member?  Perhaps the difference they made on earth earned them their calling in the great beyond.  I really don't know the answer, but there's a saying, "Treat everyone with love and care, for they might be an angel in disguise."  Or in Dad's case a member of CAT.

Take care.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Contest: Stories That Stirred Your Soul

For me, reading brings enormous pleasure.  Walking into a bookstore can be overwhelming.  First, I search for my favorite authors wondering if I've missed the fruits of their labors.  Next, off to what's new on the bookshelf.  I'm a kid in a candy store and I don't want to leave.  After scouring the shelves, I sit in the cafe and savor what's to come.  What's the story?  What does it promise?  Is there a tug from deep down inside telling me this is THE one.  I keep one eye peeled on the time honoring my curfew, but hope time stretches.

My e-reader sits in my handbag.  It saves me time and money; however, as old-fashioned as it may sound, sometimes my hands yearn to hold a book.  Perhaps turning the pages heightens the anticipation of what comes next.  Please don't get me wrong, my e-reader works like crazy.  It's my right arm.  For me, the digital or the printed book are merely containers.  Ones that house the precious gift of story.  I'm flexible to a certain extent.  Lately, my reading time has been few and far between, but I manage a little in the evening or the wee morning hours.

So, I'm hosting a contest to answer a simple question:  What's stories have you read recently that stirred your soul, gave you a different life perspective and opened your heart?  The story that awakened your soul, pulled at your heartstrings, hurt to stop reading, and left you wanting more after the final page.  Yeah, THAT book. 

What do I need to do? Simple.  Leave a comment including the title, author, and what the story means to you.

What do I win?:  A $25.00 gift card to Barnes & Noble.  (BTW, I saving the gift card  that I received from a friend for Jon Katz' newest release this August.)

What if I don't have a B & N in my area:  I believe you can use the card to order online.

When does the contest begin?:  Now

When does the contest end?:  Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at Midnight

How will the winner be selected:  The winner will be selected at random using a randomizer. 

When will you announce the winner?:  I'll announce the winner on Thursday, June 21, 2012 (my parents' 64th Wedding Anniversary.)

How do I know if I won?:  I'll contact the winner via email & on this blog.  You  must send me your address at that time in order to send the card to you via USPS.  Winner has 7 days to claim their prize; if he/she doesn't respond, another winner will be chosen.

I'm looking forward to learning about some inspired reading.  At the end of the day, we'll have developed a pretty great summer reading list!

More to come...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dear Dad

Happy Father's Day!  That's right, the day we celebrate our paternal line or those who were paternal toward us approaches soon.

I didn't get you a new grill or some snappy new power tool.  Didn't get you a DVD or aftershave.  I think we've past that point. 

I have so, so much to thank you for today, namely:
  • for surviving the Great Depression.
  • for falling in love with my mother.  (Good one, Dad.)
  • for putting me on a racehorse at three-years old and igniting my passion for horses.  (As you might remember, Mom didn't take that too well.)
  • for the Friday fish and chip lunch dates on your days off from work.
  • for driving down to Ft. Jackson, SC from Rhode Island in a Volkswagen Beetle when you found out I'd injured my knee in the Army.  (That had to hurt your six-foot frame.)
  • for giving me a love of nature.
  • for challenging me every blessed day.  (OK, I fought you tooth and nail on THAT one.)
  • for showing me your quiet determination.  
  • for instilling in me the true beauty of living an authentic life, not a flimsy one built from pretension.
  • for teaching me to seek and celebrate peace.
There have been some bad times as well.  Times I never understood, but my baby pictures showed the love you had for me in your eyes.  For a long time I didn't know that man.  I do now.  All the while, I never knew how desperately you tried to shield me from all you endured, but I searched anyway. 

I found breadcrumbs from the past; clues left by our dearly departed.  Poverty, loss, and systems too blind to see the real story.  Yet, you worked so hard to keep your family fed.  The chicken story still makes me laugh, but it also teaches me the stark reality of hunger.  You did good, Dad.  You gave it your all.

In these recent months I've seen you through a different lens. Early on, images rose of a young strapping soldier full of bravado, ready for a fight. Next, as a baby who quietly drifts back to sleep after eating. Words can't describe how those images have touched my heart.

When you asked me if I meant it when I said I'd care for you and Mom at home, I have to admit a heaping measure of apprehension.  But now I can honestly say to do so has been heaven sent.   Had I not accepted the challenge, I would have missed out on your stories.  They would have been lost on strangers who didn't understand their meaning.  So, while I gifted you by caring for you, I received a far richer gift in return.

We don't know how much time we have left together as a family.  I pray each day for a little longer.  I pray that you be pain-free, and, most of all, I pray you finally get the peace you fought for and so rightfully deserve.  These prayers conflict with each other.  Selfishly, it hurts so much to know we'll have to say goodbye.  That's something I'm just not ready to do.  Not yet.

I'm sitting next to you in your hospital bed in our living room as I write this entry. You might ask, "Why would a daughter write an open letter to her father on the Internet?" My reply, "I want the world to know what a gift you are to me and my mother. Not gifts that wear out in two or three years, but an eternal gift living our hearts."

I love you, Dad.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Mother's Hands

Each night my mother sits on her bed and files her nails.  She uses her hands to express her feelings or to tell a story.  She uses them to direct me when she needs something because her words continue to fail her.  She applies her hands to her hips when she's angry or holds one finger up to emphasize a point or gently waves them through the air as she speaks.

Every day Dad's aide comes into her room to speak with her.  Mom noticed the aide's manicure and complimented her nail color - blue.  She asked her where she purchased the polish.  She had to have THAT color.  The aide asked if she really wanted blue nail polish.  Not too many people my mother's age opt for blue nails.  Mom insisted, "It's pretty.  I want my nails to look like yours."

The following day our kind aide got to work and applied the polish, along with a topcoat of sparkles to liven things up a bit.  She's shown her manicure to anyone who looks her way - the gardener, the neighbors, our cat - anyone.  Dad's nurse came in to speak with her about Dad and up flew the hands, "See my nails.  They were just done.  I love my nails!"

But this photo isn't simply about a manicure.  You are viewing a lifetime of stories.  These are the hands that cared for her mother and father.  The ones that worked on a comptometer and later a calculator to support herself and her family.  Fingers that made beautiful music as she played her violin.  Hands that held me as a baby and consoled me when my husband passed.  Her hands are a gift.

The rings she wears tell stories as well.  Her school ring reminds her of her life on the debate team, of times with her best friend, and of a nun who acted as a second mother to her.  Cherished memories that she's taken with her all of her life.  Not merely a piece of jewelry, but contained within this little ring are memories that shaped her.

She wears her wedding ring on her right hand.  Her left hand so tiny that it slips off.  A few weeks ago she panicked when she realized the ring slipped off overnight.  Mom looked up at me and said, "Does this mean he's going to die today?"  A gentle search of bedclothes uncovered the ring.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Today her tiny fingers reach over to caress Dad's cheek as she sits next to his hospital bed.  She knows what's happening.  I leave the room so she has her time with the man she loves.   These are sacred moments never to be recaptured.  Every moment matters as she conveys the love lying deep within her heart. 

I love my mother's hands.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Reflections from the Garden

Working the bugs out..
Five years ago if I wanted flowers, I'd call a florist.  Never cared where my fruits and vegetables originated.  It didn't enter my mind at all.  If the FDA and the local health department gave their seal of approval, it had to be good.  I've learned alot since then.

The small gardens surrounding this house not only produce, they produce with purpose - flowers to attract the bees, herbs for teas, fruits and vegetables just outside my window, and, someday, chickens to provide necessary protein (but there's a red tailed hawk nesting in the back yard which means waiting for him to move to another neighborhood.)

So, I thought I'd fire up the old Coolpix Nikon to share my serenity spaces.  Those little patches of earth that soothe and heal my soul.  Being with such beauty quiets the mind.  This little universe keeps itself quite busy and worthy of further exploration if one looks hard enough. 

Smiling Pansy
I love pansies because they are easy to grow and come in so many expressions.  This one reminds me of a bandit.  All it needs is a sombrero.

Blurry Blueberries
Pancakes await my little beauties.  Hope it happens as so often the ripe ones are consumed before they hit the batter.  Ooops.
An Ocean of Irises
Bumble bees wind their way from flower to flower collecting pollen.  It's the interconnectiveness of nature.  One small flight for bee, one giant bloom for mankind.

Vitamin K(ale) - sauteed or baked crisp in the over with a roast chicken. 
Jenna Woginrich of Cold Antler Farm wrote about the goodness of the mighty Kale.  I often thought it a bitter lot of leaves, but that all changed when I tried it with roast chicken.  Unbelievably delicious!

I've learned so much from these and other plants.  It's the dawn of my urban farm.  Every year I add a little more and every year the garden responds in kind.