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by Judy
August 18, 2014

In the late afternoon when the light is softening and the sun is saying its final goodbyes, I am lying on the big bed next to my mom while she sleeps, dreams or quietly thinks. And as I work on my I pad lazily going in all directions of interest, I notice how very peaceful it is. This is actually my experience almost every afternoon. What is going on? It’s like when a lot of the activity of the day is over - activity of eating, washing, doing chores – all that is finished - and now Mom and I can just be together…hang out. Mom knows I am here if...

by Judy
August 4, 2014

We are so effected by each other; how and who we are is passed on from generation to generation; from families, friends and strangers; from all the actions inherited from the past and all that is expressed through the written word, and through the other mediums of expression. We often don’t realize how influenced we are. How could we? I am thinking particularly of that which is good; which inspires, which uplifts, which sets new narratives for what is possible. Some influences are obvious but others are quieter, more subtle and even hidden.

...

by Judy
July 21, 2014

Over the past five years in helping to care for my 98 year old mom, I’ve noticed that dramatic change often comes unexpectedly. No doubt there are signs that “foretell” at times this change, but they are not always visible. For example, when my mom had a stroke, there didn’t seem to be any indications beforehand, but of course she did have mini-strokes about three years before this happened and she was 96 years old with aging arteries. From one moment to another, her life radically changed. She went from walking with some aid, still going out to...

by Judy
July 7, 2014

Recently I read a beautiful essay by Rachel Macy Stafford, a mother of a six year old, who was constantly telling her child to “hurry up.” She describes her daughter as “a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child” and herself as a type A woman who was constantly on the go. At some point she realized what a detriment it was not to honor her child’s world and vowed never to use the phrase, “hurry up” again and to consciously slow down and let her daughter metaphorically “smell the roses.”

In reading this essay...

whenthetableturns: care for elderly moms

by Judy
June 23, 2014

Recently I started an essay for my next blog post and even had a title for it, “Night and Day.” In it I spoke about how my mom is like two different people. Like the difference between night and day, I wrote, she has these two different faces, voices, mentalities that are particularly pronounced when she is out of the comfort of her bed and when she is in bed. We all have different temperaments, moods, faces depending on internal and external circumstances, but it is very extreme with my mom. I gave the example of going to the...

by Judy
June 9, 2014

“Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter -- to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way, as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and contemplating hills and woods and clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.” – Albert Schweitzer

I’ve been thinking about music lately and what a profound and Universal effect it has worldwide. Music goes deep into our being - evokes many feelings; memories, nostalgia... uplifts us to heavenly...

when the table turns: getting down to basics

by Judy 
May 26, 2014

My mom had her 98th birthday a few weeks ago. We had a very simple celebration at home. Her dear niece Barbara flew in from California and Pat, her trusted caregiver, and Pat’s daughter and grandchildren came. Mom stayed in bed most of the day and in the afternoon went into the dining room for the birthday cake with lit candles. Nothing too elaborate. That is what she wanted. Barbara had brought a beautiful shawl that had been hand knitted by a good friend of hers who feels a close connection to my mom.

The next day I put a photo...

by Judy
May 12, 2014

Lately I started thinking about emotional resiliency as a few weeks ago it had been quite intense - a combination of my mom being more unhappy and uncomfortable than usual - so sensitive that even kidding around was often too much for her and having computer difficulties that created ongoing problems. I felt like I had to expand myself to allow for this increased intensity - let it land on a wider, deeper field within.

I have never been particularly patient when having to deal with difficulties. I remember when I was a kid and my...

by Judy
April 28, 2014

When I was a kid, I remember first hearing the French singer Edit Piaf, a small woman nicknamed the little sparrow, who had a huge voice that pierced right through your heart and soul. She transmitted through the words she sang and the power of her voice the full weight of her life which was definitely not always easy. One of her famous songs was, “Non, Je ne regrette rien” (No, I don’t regret anything). I mention this as I’ve been reflecting upon regret. I’ve been thinking how it is almost impossible not to have any regrets in one’s life –...

when the table turns: sink or swim...

by Judy
April 14, 2014

After reading my last essay, “Too Sweet…Too Salty,” my cousin Matty wrote to me, “I am speechless…where do you get your strength and positive outlook from?” Her question stimulated my inquiry.

Where does this positivity come from in relationship to caregiving and watching my mom fade away and not always happily fade away? I remember my mom used to say, “Either we are going to sink or swim” in this life and she chose to swim... and she swam with vigor. Well, I want to go even beyond swimming…perhaps even...

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