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Archive for the ‘television’ Category

You’re stuck at home caregiving. You can’t come and go as you please. Your loved one could fall, can’t go to the bathroom without you, is afraid when you’re gone. You find yourself envying neighbors walking out their front door and getting into their cars–such a simple and easy thing for most people to do. Not you. The days feel long and exhausting.

I know, I ‘ve been there. When I first moved my mother in with my family and me, I could get out–some. She didn’t like when I left her at home, but at least I could go to the grocery store and take an extra 15 minutes to stop by the library. I could also take my mom out–but that took more than an hour to get her ready, another 15 minutes to get her in the car, and that doesn’t count the time needed to get her out of the car, into a store, out of the store.

Oh shoot, forget it, was what I wound up saying a lot of the time.

I tried to take her out, stimulate her interests (and mine), meet new people and do what we women love to do–shop. It was just so exhausting.

It’s hard to wake up and face a new day–some days–as a caregiver. My mother had Parkinson’s  and Alzheimer’s. Meds needed to be started early if we had any hopes of having a “good day.” She was hungry early, too. I tried my best to have coffee and bit of “me” time (journaling, stretching) before she heard me. I even bought a small coffee pot for my bedroom. Once my mother saw I was up, it was all over. I think she laid in bed and planned out how to order me around all day. That woman had a to-do list a mile long. “Nip it in the bud,” was her motto.

The thought of every day all day at home felt like a prison sentence. No ankle monitor could have kept me more chained. But I learned how to make it work in my favor. I learned in caregiving you have to turn things around and find the good.

When you think about it, most people would LOVE to be at home (or so they think). One day, I decided to stop dreading it.

How to Find Adventure in Your Own Home:

  • Get cable, or the Dish. Television is a link to the outside world. Don’t watch the news (too depressing). Watch the Food Channel, HGTV, or Discovery Channel. Use it to educate yourself. Use it to entertain yourself. Pay a bit more for more channels. They’ve got yoga, old movies, religious channels, sports–whatever floats your boat. You can preach all you want about mindless television, but if you use it right, you can keep yourself company and even learn a thing or two.
  • I took a daily yoga “class” on tv, learned to cook Southwest foods, became a Paula Deen aficionado, and found some great old movies my mother really liked.
  • Got books? I bet you do. You probably have books you haven’t read or barely skimmed. Pull one off the shelf. One a week, in fact. Educate yourself by catching up on what you already have.
  • Got unfinished projects? I sure do. It may take you ten times longer (being interrupted all the time), but why not spread out an art project on the diningroom table and work on it 15 minutes a day.
  • Sign up for an online class. Yes, you’re under house arrest (so to speak), but that doesn’t mean you don’t have access to the world. They don’t call it the World Wide Web for nothing! There’s a class for everything–university level to hobby enthusiast level.
  • Go to a caregiver’s group with an agenda–to make friends. Start a caregiving co-op. Find someone nearby and agree to “mom sit.” Even once a month gives you a day out you don’t have now–and with a fellow caregiver who knows the ropes. Also, trade phone numbers and start calling each other. Remember when you were a new mom and needed a friend? Same thing, make a call and start up a conversation with someone you already have something in common with.
  • Buy magazines. I kept myself inundated with new material. Learning is something you can easily do right at home. Step outside your comfort zone and get a magazine you’ve never bought before–Kayakers, Digital Photography, Psychology, Dog Fancy, you name it and there’s a magazine out there. So it adds ten dollars to your grocery bill. Better ten dollars in beautiful visuals, interesting articles and a chance to daydream is a far better use of your money than Paxil and Zoloft (which ten dollars won’t’ get you much…and if you need them, they’re a godsend).

These are just a few suggestions to help you focus on something other than caregiving. You’ll actually be a better caregiver by cultivating and maintaining your own interests. Resentment, guilt and frustration build when you give yourself no outlets.

Yes, it all takes energy–something you don’t have much of, you argue. You have more than you think. Your exhaustion has more to do with being apathetic (depressed, angry, frustrated–pick your adjective). It’s not all physical. The body (and mind) is resilient–and when you give it a purpose it can endure, persevere, and find untapped sources of joy and enthusiasm you didn’t even know you had.

These were some of my solutions. I hope you find your own. Find your path through caregiving and share your secrets with others. Don’t stop being you. In fact, this caregiving “cocooning” time is quite valuable to you. Yes, you may be pretty much “stuck at home,” but it’s not all bad. Change your perspective and begin to see all the opportunities and adventures you can have in your own four walls (and your own backyard).

What if…you could come out of caregiving renewed and reinvented…What if, caregiving worked in your favor? 

~Carol O’Dell

Need a good read? Check out my book, Mothering Mother

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You can’t watch someone you love struggle with a disease and not be affected.

But what can you do?

As a caregiver, family member or friend, you can’t make it go away.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are two debilitating diseases that are slow and grueling and take a toll on people’s spirits, and affects everyone around them. For some, they turn into fighters, but even fighters get tired. 

You can’t offer your bone marrow or donate a kidney–you feel helpless to help.

And yet, there’s a group of family and friends who are doing something phenomenal to raise funds and awareness to fight these two monster diseases.

It’s called:

“10 Mountains – 10 Years” – A Quest for the Cure.

 

 

One decade long, 44 ½ vertical miles high, 7 countries, 6 continents and 2 diseases.

The Regulars” an international team of climbers has begun to mount what may very well become the grandest, most physically demanding, and exciting campaign to raise awareness and funds needed to help find cures for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

“This years team has the most dynamic line up to date”, said team captain Vincent Roland Simone. “The team will range from inexperienced to experienced, and from 11 years old to 50 years old. In the end I honestly believe regular people will play a big part in conquering these diseases”.

In 2006 “the Regulars” began their epic on Mont Blanc (France) the highest peak in continental Europe. Collectively their route around the globe from Mont Blanc to Everest 2015 will be named a “A Trail called Hope”. Each year the expeditions will be attempted in honor of the collective 30 million family’s world wide who have been directly impacted by these diseases, the care givers who ease the struggle of those affected, and the scientists who diligently battle to find a cure. A victory in reaching these summits is symbolic of overcoming the many challenging milestones in medical research and funding needed to find the cause and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease & Parkinson’s disease.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “an estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.” Unless a cure is found, “by 2050 the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s could range from 11.3 million to 16 million.”

None of these figures account for people affected in other countries. There is no cure.

Today more than six million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, and 40% of those people are under the age of sixty. Currently one of the youngest people diagnosed was 8 years old at the time of diagnosis. Over the course of this year 60,000 new cases will be diagnosed. There is also no cure for Parkinson’s.

The “10 Mountains – 10 Years” (a quest for the cure) project is unique in a number of other ways:

• Supporting two major high profile organizations: the

 

 

 

Alzheimer’s Association & the Michael J. Fox Foundation

• The first climbing / awareness / fund raising event to span a decade, climb more than 44-1/2 miles into the sky, endeavor to reach 10 mountain summits in 7 countries, on 6 continents, in an effort to help conquer 2 diseases.

• A yearly opportunity for people, media, corporations, scientists, and governments to revisit the topic of each disease. The 10/10 project is a look back into the past year to assess the strides made by all of the above, it is also a look ahead to goals being set in research for the coming year.

• Ultimately, it is a story of how a small group of

 

 

regular people can decide that they can make a difference – great or small – then follow through with their personal promise to make it happen.

 

This year on Independence Day

 

 

 (July 4, 2008) four of “the Regulars” returning team mates will join Eileen Colon /Bencivengo on

“A Trail Called Hope – III – Mount Hood”

Collectively she will join additional team mates from Texas, Colorado, New York, California and England on the mountain in hopes of reaching the summit and helping to raise awareness for the cures. One team mate (a retired fire fighter turned photographer) residing in Colorado suffers from Young Onset Parkinson’s and will join the Regulars on the Mount Hood summit climb in hopes of inspiring others with Parkinson’s and or Alzheimer’s to never give up on themselves.

The team for “A Trail Called Hope III – Mount Hood”, which is third in a set of ten mountain climbing expedition will be the following:

 

 

 

Team Captain:

 

 

 

Vincent Roland Simone (41) – New York.

Team:

Eileen Colon / Bencivengo (50) – New Jersey

Eric Buzzetto (27) – New York

Daniel Simone (40) – New York

Tyler Simone (11) – New York

Brett Curtis (32) – United Kingdom

Jennifer Yee (24) – California

Matthew Jimenez (21) – Texas

Troy Parker (46) – Colorado

Cy Maramangalam (28) – New Jersey

In 2007 Jennifer Yee an independent film producer and owner of Back Light Productions joined “the Regulars” team. Backlight Productions began to film a multi part film documentary in September 2007. The documentary will not only follow the efforts of “the Regulars” over the course of their decade-long mountain adventures in raising awareness and funds, but also document the progress and setbacks made in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s during the coming decade. The first release will focus on the events surrounding the Mount Hood Climb.

***

I recently talked with Eileen Colon, one of the newest members who’s putting on a fundraiser this Saturday, May 17th to raise funds for their upcoming climb. I wanted to know what (or who) inspired her, and why, at 50 years old is she climbing her first (of many) mountains?

Here’s our discussion:

What was your first encounter with Parkinson’s?

My first encounter with Parkinson’s Disease came when my sister-in-laws father was diagnosed with it late in his life and passed from it.
There are two wonderful friends of mine that I met through Myspace that have Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.
I have formed a team “Jim’s Gems” for two years now and have taken them to NY for the Unity Walk. I did this in honor of my good friend Jim who has the disease. My other good friend, Ken Glowienke, from Focus on A Cure for Parkinson’s, also has YOPD. I met him for the first time last year at the Unity Walk. He flew in from Chicago to be part of my team. Our friendship is one I cherish with all of my heart. He has the most beautiful and loving wife and I share a special friendship with her also. Jim and I train in the martial arts under the same association so we are always thrown together at tournaments and special events. I cherish my friendship with him also. He was my inspiration in becoming involved in the Parkinson’s community on Myspace and for bringing Enzo to me from the Regulars.
Who all has been affected by Parkinson’s in your life and how has their struggle made you look at your own life?  My mother had Parkinson’s for close to 15 years, and so I’m quite familiar with the issues that arise. My mother always had a tenacious spirit, but I found that Parkinson’s made her even more determined to be independent for as long as possible. Is this true among those you know who struggle with PD?
I look at life very differently now. I make myself walk in there shoes. I fight for every one I know with this disease plus the ones I don’t know. I take my role as an advocate very seriously. I want to ensure my own children will not be faced with this. I posted a blog about the heart of an advocate on my Myspace page. It says it all for me.
I walk and now climb, fundraise and draw awareness for those that can’t. As long as God gives me the strength to do this, I will. And when the strength to physically do this runs out I will still advocate in other ways. I look at life as a gift. Each day that I wake up I thank God for giving me this day to continue being a good mother to my children and for still being able to advocate.
The two men I speak of have the most tenacious spirit and determination to beat this disease that I have ever seen. There are so many others that I don’t know quite as personal who also fight this fight with there heads held high. As we hope for a cure, and it seems so close, there fight becomes stronger and stronger. They are true inspirations in my life. They push me to help get them closer to a cure. They are my heroes.
Tell me about your fundraise on May 17th and what are your goals?
My fundraiser this Saturday is part of my efforts to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in conjunction with my team The Regulars. It’s hard to say how much I will raise. It is an Open House for my karate studio also and it will be advertised in the paper. So it depends on how many people show up over the course of the day. I have been in karate all week selling Raffle Tickets for a Chinese Auction I have going on.
How did the “Ten Mountains in Ten Years Project” get started?
Enzo Simone from Amawalk, NY divised the 10 mountains 10years project. His mother has Alzheimer’s and his father-in-law has Parkinson’s. I had the pleasure of meeting them both at the Unity Walk in April as Enzo came in to join me with my team.
The mountains:
Mount Blanc – France
Cotopaxi/Chimborazo – Ecuador
Mount Hood/Mount Shasta – USA
Aconcagua – Argentina
Kilimanjaro – Tanzania, Africa
Mount McKinley – Alaska
Mount Elbrus – Russia
Cho Oyo – Khumbu Himalaya Nepal/Tibet
Vinson Massif – Antartica
Mount Everest – Himalaya, Nepal/Tibet
How’s your training going?

My training is going well. I threw on my backpack for the first time on Mother’s Day and went for a hike. It was a challenge but I eventually got a feel for it. I train almost every day. Six days a week but now I am training everyday.
Can anyone join in at any time?
Anyone can jump on board at any time to be part of the Regulars Street Team. However, the climbs are planned and you either receive an invitation from Enzo or you send him a message saying you would like to join one of his climbs.
I received “The Call” on Myspace because we were friends and he was impressed by my advocacy work on my other causes. I accepted and my journey began.
How has this changed your life already?
I challenge my body on a daily basis. I was an athlete from the time I was in third grade. When I married at 22 and had my first son, my atheticism slowed down. Occassionally exercising. Life dictated other things and I had three more children and never had time. When myone son joined karate it sparked my interest. I eventually signed on and have been training in the martial arts for over eight years. I am a second degree black belt. Testing is grueling so a lot of preparation goes into getting to that point. I have walked 60 miles in three days for Breast Cancer, two years in a row. When Enzo asked to join his team I doubted myself for a second or two and then went in head first to get ready.
It is very challenging to train everyday and still be mom and run a household. I feel my boys are inspired by me. They see there mom going out there and proving at my age, 50, anything is possible. And it is. So I look at my boys and I step up to the plate and do this for them.
***
I have to say, I am impressed and humbled by this small band of “regular people” and their devotion to those they love and their fight against the diseases that have so deeply effected their lives and the lives of those they love. This is love in action.
Anyone out there who feels stuck in their own life, who is also affected by this disease–either as a caregiver, friend, or person struggling with this disease, I hope you’ll consider contributing to this cause–and cure.
We all long to be a part of something that makes a difference, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s take so much control from our lives and our bodies. By finding a way to give–or help spread this message (please feel free to cut and paste and send this blog to anyone and everyone), you’ll get a little bit of control back. You’ll feel that you contributed your grain of sand–and each grain helps tip that scale.
As a small added incentive, if you do happen to purchase my book, Mothering Mother: either on Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, Target.com, or order it from your local bookstores, between now and July 4th, email me at writecarol@comcast.net to say you’ve done so, and I’ll donate two dollars per book to this cause.
Mothering Mother was written in “real time” during the last three years of my mother’s life. It tells the truth about caregiving and family life. It doesn’t just focus on the bleakness of the situation, but also incorprates the hilarious moments, the mother-daughter fights, the contempletive thoughts of life, and the nitty-gritty details that often get glossed over. I wrote it because I felt so alone and isolated. I needed something for my soul, my intellect, my creativity–something that incorporated what Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s does to relationships and how you see yourself. I hope it touches it lives of many who find themselves on a similar journey.
My mother suffered with Parkinson’s for 15 years–and I became her companion, I stood in the doorway as she trembled, as she tried so very hard to will her body to move.
During the last three years of her life, she moved in with my family and me, and then she developed Alzheimer’s (I suspect it was there before and I was too much in denial and exhaustion to recognize it). I know too well what these disease does to your life, your head, your heart, your faith, and your spirit.
None of us could make it without our support.
I hope you’ll find a way to spread the word, give, and cheer on this courageous team.
available on Amazon or request it at your favorite bookstore
Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated Blog at www.OpentoHope.com

 

For further information please visit the Regulars website:

 

 

or http://www.myspace.com/10mountains10years or

http://10mountains10years.blogspot.com/

For the Michael J. Fox Foundations for Parkinson’s Research.

P.O. Box 4777 New York, NY 10163

(212) 509-0995 ext. 204

 

http://www.michaeljfox.org

 

 

and for Team Fox visit www.TeamFox.org

Donations to the Alzheimer’s Association & the Michael J. Fox Foundation in honor of the

Regulars “10 Mountains – 10 Years (A Quest for the Cure)” project:

http://www.theRegulars.org

Once on the Regulars Website please click the page entitled “Donate Toward Research”

# # #
 

 

 

 

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I had this huge personal revelation that was a part of a deep belief system–and I realized that I did this very “thing” during caregiving–and if I did this, other caregivers might be doing it too.

This is the “thing” I’m talking about.

Paying for what you’ve done.

Example: You know how when you’re a kid and you’re supposed to get to go do something fun–like say, to go a birthday party–your parents tell you that to be able to go you have to clean your room, cut the grass, and when you get back you also have to do all your homework for the week?

In other words, you have to pay for having the good time.

And of course, you really had to PAY if you were ever bad–came home late, got in trouble (they called it punishment)

Well, I realized that I was (and am) still doing this to myself.

If I went out of town or went out to dinner with girlfriends, I’ve always made sure the house was clean, there was extra dogfood–and if I was gone a few days, I’d make sure there was a roast in the crock pot, a lasagna in the freezer…in other words, PAYMENT.

I couldn’t ever just believe I deserved something good.

Not just a gift–a gift is given sometimes to the UNdeserving.

I mean, believing deep down that I deserved something good–with no need to pay for it in any way.

Remember the old Puritan Ethic?

Work hard and God will reward you.

 I twisted it even further…Work hard or God won’t reward you.

Even after you’ve been rewarded, STILL work hard because you probably haven’t worked hard enough! In other words…work, work, work!

Did I hardly ever give myself a break (in part) as a caregiver? Not too much because I believed I had to PAY for past transgressions. I told myself I couldn’t find good help (in part, true), or that mother wouldn’t adjust (also true) or…the list went on. I know now that I thought I had to pay for my own good health, or pay if I were to even think about having a good time. 

Sick, I know. 

I’m hoping someone out there will step up and tell me

I’m not the only one who does this.

Recently, as most of you know, I published a book, Mothering Mother.I’ve spent months and months at caregiving talks, book signings, TV and radio spots. I’ve gotten lots of attention–something adults don’t like to talk about. I’ve received “fan” mail from wonderful caregivers and readers, I’ve received roses at special events…been on CNN, and it’s been hard, hard work, but it’s also been a whole lotta fun!

I’m suited for this. I love the juxtaposition of thought and quiet and contemplation and creating something on the page–and then I LOVE dressing up, “performing” mom and me in my little one act plays where I do both of us–I love making people laugh and cry. I love signing books! I could do it all day! I love knowing that I’ve touched someone’s lives. I even love the drives, the bookstores, the blogs.

Yikes. Does part of me believe that because I love it so, so much that I should have to “pay” for all this fun?

Now, a little bit of the hullabaloo has worn off and I realize that I’ve lapsed into this “I need to pay my family back for all that.” I’ve taken time away, stayed overnight, spent copious hours online and in bookstores. They’ve been patient and proud, but I’m sure it gets old.

It’s not that they asked or demanded anything.

But I see that I’ve been in drudgery mode lately–working hard with no joy. Taking jobs that are clearly not me. I thought I had to. I had so much to pay back.

I once had this great therapist who said the magic words that

changed my life…

“It’s a new day!”

So, I ask you–is there some part of you that took on the role of primary caregiver, or hardly ever lets yourself take a break because you believe you have to pay something back? Am I attracting this because I believe I need to pay? Do I feel guilty that my loved one is sick/dying?

Do I need to pay?

For being that black sheep?

For that adventure in college?

For screwing up my finances?

For taking off and letting my siblings deal with mom and dad for a while?

Because I enjoy good health and financial security?

Let it go. (I says to me-self)

Look at the sky and say, “Thanks!” That’s it. 

A heart of gratitude is all that’s asked. That’s The Secret.

Make a list of what you deserve:

I deserve to have daily joy.

I deserve to view myself with tenderness and compassion.

I deserve to be appreciated.

I deserve regular breaks.

I deserve help on a consistent basis.

I deserve a real vacation every year.

I deserve to caregive out choice and heart of love.

I deserve for my siblings/family to contribute.

I deserve for my thoughts and opinons to be respected.

As for caregiving, yeah, you may still want to and need to give care–but this could be the revelation that changes everything–and open up new opportunities.

It’s a new day.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

Kunati Publishing

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Thursday, October 11th, I had the honor to be on CNN.com–which is a video interview that’s played on their website and broadcast all over the world.

CNN.com LINK http://www.cnn.com/video//video/showbiz/2007/10/11/odell.interview.cnn

Yikes. I thought I’d be scared and jittery, but honestly, I wasn’t. That’s where all the local and regional interviews I’ve done in cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and others have helped.

I’ve learned that you sell one book at a time, and when you’re on TV or radio–you talk to the one person who’s interviewing you–that’s it.

The scariest part of my day was driving through downtown Atlanta and hoping I could find the place without any problems and without being snagged in one of Atlanta’s infamous and all-too-frequent traffic jams. All went well, and I parked and took a picture of the giant red (my favorite color, by the way) CNN sign on top of their building. The security guard had my name and printed me out a badge, and the producer came down and escorted me upstairs through the newsrooms, through headline news set and into the make-up room.

Now, I’ve had make-up before, but usually, they just touch you up a bit–put on a darker foundation applied with a big fluffy brush that takes all of 30 seconds.

Not at CNN, I had FULL make-up done, and it was so fascinating to be sitting next to anchors who talk on CNN and stare into their reflections in the mirrors–me–on CNN–how cool is that? Being a hick that I am, I got my picture taken with my make-up and hair artist. I couldn’t help myself.

Life is about celebrating, and this day was too monumental not to document, not to celebrate.

Honestly, I’ve never felt more together in my life. I had achieved my CNN diet (earlier blog) and they did such a good job with my hair and make-up that I was flabberghasted at how good I looked:) Even my daughters and friends called me later–in shock almost at how good I looked (which makes me wonder what I look like walking around every day).

The producer escorted me back upstairs, through all the newsrooms and the busy people rushing here and there, coffee cups in hand. I thought about all the news and events coming into this place from around the world. We went through one darkened room that had well over 100 TV screens/monitors on the walls–live feed from around the world.

I took my seat and soon, Melissa, my interviewer came over. Sharp, beautiful young woman. She didn’t “mess around” as us old geezers used to (and still do) say. She shook my hand, said we were “just going to have a conversation,” which made me feel like I was on NYPD and thought of asking if I needed a lawyer. Two seconds later, the cameras were rolling.

We did, we had the conversation. No prep, I just spoke from my heart. She had picked some great passages from my book, and in the end, I felt I did caregivers proud. I felt that my message that family and hope trumps despair, and I did it staying true to my story to the caregiving experience. No sugar coating, but poignant all the same.

A few minutes later, the producer walked me back downstairs and I felt as if I had just left an afternoon wedding–all dressed up and needing something else to do. I bought a latte in the atrium, watched all the tourists get in line for the CNN tour, took a few more pictures of the flag, the world that hangs high above, and I wrote in my journal.

I sat in the atrium of CNN and wrote because writers write. That’s how we live, remember, emote and process.

It was an amazing day–

~Carol D. O’Dell

author of MOTHERING MOTHER

Kunati Publishing

Available on Amazon and in most bookstores

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I’m backing out of my driveway the other day with my cell phone cocked on my shoulder as I set a date with Studio 10 TV in Tampa Florida. I’m not sure even a year ago I could imagine myself doing that–preparing for a television program about caregiving, elder-care, Alzheimer’s, family and mothers. As I hung up the phone and marked the date in my calendar, I remembered a small vignette I wrote in MOTHERING MOTHER–how my mother and I were “Quite a Pair.” We were ironically suited for one another.

If anyone had dared to say this to me even five years ago, they would have encountered an icy stare. The caregiving years were not the time to remind me of our likenesses. That was not how I wanted to see myself, and although my mother was  bossy, opinionated and volitile. She was also dynamic, funny, and quite the professional.

My mother held her ministerial papers for over 52 years. She preached and taught, sang and played many instruments and was on TV and radio. She “carried herself well” as the southern saying goes. She was still my mother through and through, and even though I came to her late in life (she adopted me when she was 54, Daddy, 58), she still had a few good years left.

I witnessed how she’d get ready to preach–saw her closet full of suits, her handbags and matching shoes. The housework quieted as she prepared for her sermon or Sunday school lesson. She studied, prepared, practiced, and then she was up there–in front of everybody–waltzing across the stage like she was on Broadway. She was as comfortable speaking before hundreds or thousands as she was in the living room with her feet up. I hope some of that rubs off on me, and of course, she had me singing and testifying at the age of four in front of the whole congregation. No wonder it feels familiar.

Daddy and I sat on the front row, proud. I despised her at times–she was a walking juxtaposition of good and evil (it seemed to me, anyway), but up there…even I had to admit she was pretty amazing. 

Even after writing MOTHERING MOTHER and the prequel, SAID CHILD, after many revisions and edits, I still find that I’m learning something about her–and me.

And here I am, talking to TV producers and thanking my mother for her example.  

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I wanted this to be funny–that someone  in China is selling her mother on the internet. Sounds funny–in that sick, dark humor style I wrote many of the vignettes in my book, MOTHERING MOTHER.  Your mom gets on your nerves and you threaten her with eBay…. tell her the minutes are counting down, there’s a bidding war, mom–pack your bags.

But the truth is that this Chinese woman’s family is attempting to sell dear old mom to help pay her medical expenses. She has cancer. China has poor health care system that can’t take care of everybody (sounds familiar?) and her kids had already spent all they had on dad–who also had cancer. It stopped being funny. They hope to bring attention to the dilemma their country faces. Health care concerns apparently span the globe, and my heart aches for all those who find themseles in a desparate situation.  http://chinaview.wordpress.com/2007/05/24/mother-for-sale-on-chinas-internet/

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Yes, I’m a Grey’s Anatomy fan. I know it has very little to do with real medicine, but any McDreamy fan will tell you, it’s not about the science. It’s the human drama, the relationships and the observations that connect us and make their story so universal. 

On the Feb. 1, 2007 airing of Grey’s AnatomyMeredith’s mother, Alice, who suffers from Alzheimer’s became lucid, and for an hour of television time, wreaked havoc on her daughter’s life.

This, I understand.

Everyone told Meredith what a gift it was, that she should be there by her mother’s side. But Meredith found her mother’s lucidity almost as painful as her “amnesia.” (I do realize I’m talking about a television show, but a good story is a good story, no matter the medium).

Like an alcoholic who becomes sober and and everyone around them realizes they still possess (if not more so)  a toxic personality, and that their disease, whether Alzheimer’s or alcohol had almost made them more bearable. The disese allowed them to blame something–to isolate themselves from facing the myriad of unfixable problems in their lives and relationships.

This is what I address in Mothering Mother–the unbelievable complex mother-daughter relationship complicated by a cruel, take-no-prisoner’s disease. As I “shopped” Mothering Mother, some publishers eluded that Alzheimer’s and caregiving had been done. I disagreed then, and even more, now. While the how-to books (get help, find services) have been done, what Alzheimer’s and other unrelenting diseases do to our lives and our relationships has barely been explored at all. Kunati understands this. Kunati believed in Mothering Mother--the honesty, the grittiness, and the humor so needed to survive.

Apparently, Hollywood believes in it too. They are willing to explore the mother-daughter relationship, pull apart and examine the angst, regret, denial, and the rage that accompanies life, death–and illness.

Meredith’s big lament was that her life had taken some hard hits, some ups and downs–in large part due to her mother’s illness. Loving, caring, worrying, and grappling over her mother’s situation and Alzheimer’s care had indeed take a toll on her own life, her career, and her relationships. It changed her. In many ways, for the better, but in other ways, it had scarred her landscape and forever altered her hope that life was in any way fair.

This, I understand all too well.

Thank you, Grey’s Anatomy for bringing to light an issue of such importance and prevalence in the lives of millions.

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