Lately I have been contemplating the word “dignity”, it may be because I have also been thinking about my mom. In thinking about her I feel a bit lonely, I miss her unconditional love. By “unconditional love” I don’t mean to misrepresent that she approved of all of my behavior or actions, but I knew that no matter what she loved me. That’s just the way a mother is.I love words and so did mom. We both felt/feel that words had meaning. She was good at games and playing with funny ways to say words. “Pig Latin” was her all-time favorite and she did it better than anyone I knew. “Pig Latin”, for those who don’t know, is when you take the first letter of a word and put it at the end. Mom could rattle off full sentences and oh how she laughed at herself.
As I think about the word dignity I have reflected at how important it was for us to uphold mom’s dignity as her Alzheimer’s took her mind. The word is often associated with death and dying, and rightfully so, but it is an immense word with tremendous meaning.
What does it mean to show or give dignity and what does it mean to have dignity?
Dignity:decorum, decency, respectability, self-respect, poise, honor, character, worthiness, virtue and grace. Dignity meaning: bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.
My mother had dignity and she gave it to others. Perhaps one must have it in order to give it…
The Bible doesn’t have many references to the word dignity but it most certainly infers it over and over again. In the 10 commandments we see that dignity is directly associated with honor. In the first 4 commandments God shows us how to honor and love Him but in the 5th commandment we are told to; “honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” The rest of the commandments show us how to love and honor others. There is an infinite amount of reverence in the commandments.
We give dignity to others when we show them respect. We give dignity to others when we show them honor. We give dignity when we are self- controlled in our behavior and words. We give dignity to others when we poise ourselves in proper decorum, conduct and grace. We give dignity when we pour ourselves out in sacrificial love.
Jesus had dignity. He was and is worthy of all honor, praise and glory. Yet when Jesus was on this earth He had no appearance of dignity, in fact while there are beautiful descriptions of God in majesty in the Bible none of them are attributed to Jesus as He walked on earth. (Many have conjured up false images of Jesus with no Biblical truth.) Jesus the Redeemer that was seen and known while he was here is best described by the prophet Isaiah:
“Just as there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” Isaiah 52:14
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Isaiah 53:2b-3
Dignity is not what we look like it is our character, our essence. I’d go so far as to say it is in part our joyful eternity in Christ. The Lord Jesus revealed the way to dignity also in Isaiah when He declares:
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me I will not be disgraced. Therefore I set my face like a flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near.” Isaiah 50:7-8b
The Holy One had confidence in the Father, his words reflected his everlasting trust and shield. Jesus knew who He was; He knew what was being asked of Him by the Father. We would be wise to know ourselves who we are in Christ, what is being asked of us and to stand in truth and dignity no matter what.
Nine days before I lost my mother I wrote this…
“Sometime love is marred beyond recognition…It is here where we come to understand that true love has no boundaries.”
Though I no longer really recognized Mom in terms of her personality (Alzheimer's), I still knew her to be my mom. I knew what and who she lived her life for. Mom taught me so much, she stood strong in spite of her environment, the world’s evolving immorality, the disappearance of family values and others dismissal of her Christianity. She was a woman of great dignity.
Since her death I have sorted out many things in my own life. There was a time when dignity was not an aspiration. There was a time when I had no need to self-reflect on what personal character was. There was a time when walking with God was but a causal thought, not an embraced effort. There was a time when if I was hurt by others treatment of me I’d lash out, become a victim. There was a time when I cried for hours because my own perspective was blurred and my conduct was unbecoming. Dignity had no meaning; truth, a plural word not an adherence to conviction and believe.
There were times when prior to her Alzheimer’s mom occasionally slipped into loneliness and depression. I understand it better today. The world is a lonely place, people do not extend honor and grace naturally. Dignity is a forgotten noun. Pride is on the rise…
On December 31, 2001, NYC opened a boardwalk to the public so people could pay their respect at the location of the World Trade Center attacks. My family, along with thousands of other people stood in line for hours in order to witness this hallowed ground.
My husband and I have returned every year since.
Excerpt from the book "When It's All Said and Done"
"For those of us who were changed as a result of September 11th 2001, it is a time to count our blessings. I will never forget that day or the memories that followed.
Our son was 9 years old and playing in a youth football league with Dave as his coach. On their first practice after this terrible event, the boys all “took a knee” and prayed.They were young, and likely didn’t understand the full impact of what had happened. No, these boys of fall only really knew that, for the first time in their lives, the adults in their community walked around in an open state of mourning. I’ll not forget the first Saturday that followed. How a small neighborhood of families came together on a school field to watch these young ones play some football! I watched as parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers and friends walked into the sunlight morning to come together in solidarity; steeled game faces with tear stained determination.
My parents came that day too. The visibility of their pain pierced my soul. I knew the older people were in shock to have witnessed, in their lifetime, this heinous crime against their country. I believe that every able man on that gridiron that particular September day would have gladly taken up arms to defend their homes and country. The bombing of the World Trade Center was personal and the wound was deep. For weeks, even months, people treated one another with decency, graciousness and sympathy. "
Part 2 My summer, photography and wildlife…GoneFishin
As I took my coffee this morning to our back porch I sat to the faint sound of a crow. The sun was warm and the air crisp, as fall begins to move in.
I knew that when I left several days ago to travel to my brother’s wedding that on that day my last batch of baby sparrows was ready to fly. I knew that when I returned my yard would be quiet from all of the summer’s busy activity and that the sweet sound of chirping and the entertaining fluttering of wings would not greet me on my return. Yet, this morning I keep turning my head, looking, waiting and anticipating the pleasurable union of morning coffee and birds. It seems far too hushed. It is not that I am not ready for the fall, I love it. It is just that this has been my first summer as a “birder” and I have been amply filled with a different kind of joy than I have ever experienced. Hardly a day has gone by when I have not “gone fishin”...a phrase I have named my latest passion for bird photography.
Several weeks ago a friend, whom I have written about before, showed me her split avocado seed. She said to me “Look at this. How can anyone not marvel at Gods creation?” Her seed was perfectly split in half with the male part on one side and the female part on the other side. She found it fascinating how intricate and organized God’s work can be.
In many ways it is like my bird summer. The wonder of it all… God’s creation.
I will never forget the day that it all began. My husband mentioned that a red cardinal had just crossed our yard. As I looked I grabbed my camera and snuck around the house. The cardinal was nowhere to be seen. I stood waiting when I noticed motion in front of our porch in the bushes. Just then the cardinal flew out. I looked and saw nothing but I was curious as to why he had been in them. I then entered our porch and as I looked through the window, there it was just 2 feet away… a nest with 4 fledgling cardinals. I was smitten immediately! The next 48 hours changed my entire summer.
I know more about birds today than I ever have. I have watched observed and gotten lost in them. In some ways I feel it has been a gift. With the world on fire and so much to be genuinely concerned about this dear hobby of bird watching has brought me solitude. It has given me an opportunity to practice and learn more on my camera, to visit and talk to people along the way and to have a sense of peace in spite of all the tribulation.
One day as I thought about how I was feeling, I thought this must be how a fisherman feels, lost in the water, the quiet, the reflections and the distant sound of wildlife. I thought about how I had never just done something because I enjoyed it. I thought how I hadn’t really taken the time to observe God’s creation, to ponder how nature works, lives and responds to His environment. I always sort of shrugged my shoulders at “those” nature people. Many who I have visited with were not Christians, but as a Christian I should more fully embrace what He has given us...that which He created in the world. My bird watching has caused me to consider the sun, sky, ocean, rivers, thunder, lightning and the seasons. I have reflected on the book of Genesis and how marvelous Eden must have been and how again in the future heaven will knock our socks off…Are there socks in heaven?
Did you know that some male birds make several nests and then take the female around to pick the one that suits her fancy? Or that many birds return year after year to the same familiar place? A person can actually plan and prepare for their arrival by adding to the garden and yard things that bring them pleasure. Did you know that yard birds are territorial and oust other birds from a birdhouse or nesting place? They defend their nest and fledglings from predators.
In our yard I observed that when birds are born many others gather around, chirp and get excited. They do the same thing when babies are ready to leave the nest. All at once there is a gathered flock, making all kinds of noise and letting everyone know…"Look out they’re ready to fly!"
It’s as though the local bird kingdom is proud and showing off…it is simple charming!
Part 1 My summer, photography and wildlife…GoneFishin
There is much to be said about being a photographer or a hobbyist of camera clicking. When taken seriously, both of these pursuits evoke emotion and passion. I have watched others who love the craft... and yes it is a craft. Like any art it involves time, energy, detail, understanding, and devotion. It is one thing to take a picture, it is quite another when your camera becomes a part of you. “To see” in everything a story, a color, a movement or a reflection is somewhat obsessive and often times disappointing. It is very hard to capture in a picture what the eye witnesses. It is intrinsically connected to the old adage, “stop and smell the roses” over and over again.
Doing photography is a commitment and a challenge. It is more than getting a picture. Discerning what your camera can do and how to use it is not an easy learning curve. For a person like myself, who is a bit slow on recall, I find I must return regularly to the guide and to question and ponder all the perplexing combinations of possibilities. It took me months to mentally coordinate what an f-stop, shutter speed, iso and exposure were. Coordinating and utilizing them when the time comes is quite another thing.
I look at the work of others and find myself comparing. At times I scream at over edits and PhotoShop fakery. I do feel there is a certain medium both professionally and personally for over edits, but really? As a lover of reality I would like to see pure work in the realm of genuine mediums.(minimum edites) I’d like to see work that shouts “Hoorah I did it!”
What do I mean by that? I like to see a work in which I know as a photographer what it took… When I look at your work I would like to take myself to what was going through your mind as you sat for hours, walked or hiked , having lugged your camera and equipment, while purposefully settling into an environment, if only in your yard. It can be a painstaking process resulting in the “joy” of the beholder. I like to consider how chaotic, brazen or beautiful the day or nighttime was as you pointed your lens and adjusted your settings. I like to contemplate what you must have felt when you uploaded your photos to your computer, only to be disappointed or thrilled with the end results. I don’t want to waste my time wondering how you edited them, I want to be taken back to the purpose of all of it...
I have 2 stories which I’d like to relate to you. The first was on July 4rth this year. I was taking pictures of the fireworks and stood near some ladies when a conversation was struck up. The ladies were mother and daughter; they had known my mom who passed away the year before. I was intentionally set up at the school she had taught at and right beside the window to her old classroom. (I hold my memories of mom close to my heart when I am taking pictures.) One lady talked to me about her young son who had been one of mom’s students. She enthusiastically told me all about her son and his photography and videos. She told me how he had used Twitter and hash tagged his work to National Geographic. Apparently his work was so good that they want him to come and see them once he is older. He is now 17. I was excited for her and for her son, what great work he must be doing! Then she started to tell me how she has been with him in the wilderness as he “stages” his work!
Say it isn’t so!
Right then and there I had a flashback to when I first discovered that Saturday night wresting tv matches were fake…Devastated! "Oh," I thought, "please, please, please when I look at National Geo let me not see staging!" I’m not saying they do, as I really feel they are true to their philosophical boundaries. But still she put a bug in my ear that left my mouth wide open. As I tried not to show my feelings... it was hard to maintain my appreciation for her sons work. Staging wildlife? Who does that? What about all the books that talk about the rule of thirds, composition and lighting?
The second story happened just this week. I had been in the marsh in very wet and buggy conditions. I watched for hours hoping that the shy white egret youngsters would come near me so that I might capture a picture. Never having shot in these conditions with strong lighting, green as green can be, wetland grass and white birds I was nervous. Plus I had forgotten a filter sunglass lens. (I got eaten alive since I also forgot bug juice.) After I loaded up my pictures and landed on a few that I thought were ok, I took them to the neighborhood printers. This printer happens to have top notch equipment,(Forest Ave CyberCopy.) I asked them to enlarge my photos on 11’17’ 80 pound glossy poster paper. I loved the results. The paper and image of my pictures looked more like paintings and the ink and color were superb. Later that day, having lost my battery charger, I went to the Photography Shop where I buy my lens and supplies. I brought in my pictures to show them, there were around eight of them. After a bit, I noticed that there wasn't an overabundance of impression on the sales clerks' behalf. Two gathered round, one questioned my edit job (they are big on PhotoShop and classes). He didn’t like the paper it was printed on (they use real photography paper) and have I considered printing my own? They were having a great sale on a printer.
No “atta boy” at this stop. All I could think was, "… come on ...how about a little encouragement...something? I’ve spent a small fortune here."
This is is why I am not a joiner of groups or communities, I'm always suspicious. I like the freedom to do my own thing, but occasionally I’d like some input. Though I am not even close to being a feminist I’m thinking maybe real girls (I am all of 4’11’ and 110 pounds) don’t crawl through the swap to take pictures and commune with wildlife?
The story behind one of my favorite heroes of the faith, John Hus, is a great example of what our founding fathers had in mind when they penned The First Amendment to the Constitution.
John Hus, a Bohemian, became acquainted with the Bible translation of John Wycliffe in the latter Middle Ages. John Wycliffe, the English zealot who studied at the University of Oxford, felt rightly that the Bible, not the Church of Rome, should be the only rule of faith. He took it upon himself to work diligently at translating this masterpiece into English so that “the people” would be able to read it. At that time the Bible was written in Latin and the general population, notwithstanding the clergy, wasn’t able to freely read, discern or participate in “the written word.” The people were at the mercy of the Church, The Pontiff and clergy in matters of the faith. If the ruling class within the church deemed it so, then so be it.
Bear in mind that at that time, the church was the government. To speak out against either was punishable, often by a cruel death. We would be wise to recall the Middle Ages, The Inquisitions and the murders which proceeded our founding fathers’ arrival to America.
John Hus enthusiastically embraced the English Bible and the concepts put forth by John Wycliffe. Hus was a bold reformer and preached tirelessly. He predates Martin Luther and John Calvin as a brave Christian soul who stood face to face against the powers of the government, emperor and papacy.For his boldness he was rendered heretical and was burned at the stake.
“Renounce your error,” shouted the Duke of Bavaria.
“I have taught no error. The truth I will seal with my blood, ”replied John Hus.
It is in remembrance of the martyrs who stood up to the marriage and unrestrained control of church and state throughout Europe that our founding fathers rightly drafted our US constitution to include the fundamental predated Gettysburg concept, “by the people for the people.”
The birth of our US constitution included the birth of a democracy; a government in which the people take part in the decision making process to avoid an overreach of governing authority. The First Amendment of The United States Constitution was solely to protect us from federal government control.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In stating that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” the Constitution upholds that the Federal government has no right to imposea national religion on its citizens, nor involve itself in states or individual religious freedom (including freedom of worship). That said, the US Supreme Court has, at times, ruled against “practices” deemed extreme, protecting the belief while condemning a practice. Some examples of this would be monogamy, deviant sexual behavior or satanic rituals. Yet, on a federal level the foundational right is to not “prohibit the free exercise of religion, speech or peaceable assembly thereof.”
I have pondered if those who decry an extreme view of “separation of church and state” are aware of the fact that these words are not found in the Federal Constitution but have their beginnings elsewhere. Thomas Jefferson originally referred to “the walls of separation of church and state” when addressing the Danbury Baptist in Connecticut, who were a bit bothered by their Congregationalist brethrens. The Congregationalists were the established church at the time, and while the Baptist understood autonomy in states’ rights, they were seeking a sympathetic ear in Jefferson. As they expressed to Jefferson, “national government cannot destroy the laws of each state; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved president…will shine and prevail through all the states and all the world, till hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth.”
Jefferson replied acknowledging that a wall of separation between church and state existed at the federal level, assuring the Baptist the federal government would not interfere with matters of the church. He was in hopes that this would be philosophically adopted at the state level too. Jefferson had helped Virginia by drafting their Religious Freedom Act in 1786 after the US Constitution of 1776. Virginia declared that people would have a right to worship as they pleased, including the freedom to not worship. The authority over religious matters rested with the states as to limit the power of the federal government.
His sentiments were not to abolish religion or to hide it in the public square, but to uphold denominational religious freedom from federal and state interference. In his writing of the Virginia Religious Freedom Act, Jefferson’s first words were “Almighty God hath created the mind free.” It was unfathomable to think different church denominations couldn’t worship in federal executive office buildings at that time.
Additionally, on or about 1947 the Supreme Court began to apply the Federal First Amendment or “establishment clause” … “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” in the context of “separation of church and state.”
They overrode states’ rights and interjected language not fixed within the US Federal Constitution. The Supreme Court has interjected their interpretation out of context to its original historical intent. Their rulings are “religious freedom gone amuck.” It is the Supreme Court’s rulings which have destabilized the balance of thoughtful and rational people to include removal of the Ten Commandments or religious symbols’ from public areas and courts, not allowing prayer at graduations, or a moment of silence within a school classroom.
Like the Darwinian Theory that is treated as fact, The Doctrine of Separation of Church and State is wrongly treated as law.
It is not law. It is merely a doctrine up for debate. How easily an ignorant person is fooled…Theory and doctrine are not facts and laws.
The wall of separation of church and state is not a double edged sword with equal leanings, it is a sword which behooves the government to obey so that the people are entitled to freedom of liberty, religion and worship. The strong-arm of the United States government isn’t to eliminate or control freedom it doesn’t like in the name of political expediency. It is similar to the “right to bear arms.” The intent of the constitution was not for the government, but for the people against tyranny.
Just as Hus and Wycliffe and the many reformers of Europe wanted religious freedom, so did many of those who had now had established their lives here in the New World. Freedom of religion or speech in the United States also means freedom from persecution. It is an inalienable God given right. It makes us who we are as a nation.
Barbie DelCamp writes a poignant, honest and touching memoir about her mother’s Alzheimer’s and what not.
Author, Barbie DelCamp, a mother and wife living in Portland Maine, shares her and her father’s experiences in the tragedy and loss of her mother through Alzheimer’s. This first publication is entitled, When It’s All Said and Done.
Georgie Ann Walizer Forney, the author’s mother, died at 73 years old from Alzheimer’s and related complications. When It’s All Said and Done is an autobiographical account, written in a time frame beginning in 2000, until the death of Georgie Ann. It is written from a Christian believer’s point of view.
In When It’s All Said and Done, Barbie DelCamp successfully addresses many of the commonalities in ALL terminal illnesses, as she takes the reader on a sojourn through love, denial, sadness, laughter, despair, loss, grief and finally…hope. This first book is unapologetically forthright, honest and deeply personal.
Alzheimer’s, along with its effects on family caregivers and survivors, continues to be one of the fastest growing illnesses among baby-boomers. Contrary to commonly held beliefs, Alzheimer’s disease is not a “normal” part of getting older.
SweetGeorgieAnnsBooksandWhatNot is also in the process of publishing children’s books. Georgie Ann was not only a kindergarten teacher, but a “book aficionado” who adored children’s literature almost as much as she loved her Bible.
This same friend is honest to a fault, which I happen to love. For instance, my husband once shared his homemade pasta sauce with her and then requested her opinion. Both have deep roots in their Italian heritage. Her evaluation was important to him. What he got was straight up criticism. He loved it, and he took it to heart, analyzing his concoction, and making adjustments. This was personal to him, and he wanted to improve on his recipe.
I think the highest form of criticism today, while not in the dictionary findings, is silence. In today’s social media "techie" world, ignoring a person or finding what they have to say irrelevant and unimportant is silent criticism.
I might also add that because of the way we communicate today via social networking, there is a sad thread of narcissism and personal need for ongoing public attention and ‘likes.’ Don’t get me wrong. I love technology and the medium of modern day communication available at our finger tips. I really enjoy it…but it can be hazardous to our mental wellbeing if we don’t take the time to be introspective and wise.
Old fashioned criticism is something that happens when we fellowship in person with others. It should happen naturally, and without much thought. But the world has become so politically charged that most often one cannot have honest critical dialog without someone’s feelings being trampled on. Been there... been hurt, too. What are we to do? Talk about the dogs, cats and weather, ad nauseam?
Opinions are personal, and people have a right to them. Remember free speech? What I find difficult is when someone opines about something in which they know little to nothing about, yet they think they do. Therefore I am often critical in my heart and, yes, in my words…in my analysis and evaluation with that type of conversation.
But I’ve also been silent.
In the social networking arena I am also silent toward those who have thrown things out into the world in which I may disagree with. So it is with those who disagree with me. We become irrelevant and unimportant except in the minds of those who idolize us and/or agree with us. I have a few dear friends on FB with whom we each agree to disagree with on many things. Yet, together we rejoice in accomplishments or show compassion during difficult times, I really appreciate their integrity.
There are also people whom I’ve known, for what seems a lifetime, who are silent with me but not with others. When I began to take social networking personally, this started to tug at my conscience.
I am active on three different social media sites. Facebook originally got my attention because I had been in youth ministry and I wanted to stay in contact with the teens. Over time that changed and I began to accept other '#socalledfriends.’ I additionally began using Twitter several months ago because I was politically frustrated and wanted to catch up on how others might be feeling. I wanted what I have received from Twitter; a world of communication and shared news. I really enjoy Twitter and the people I follow. I am also a member of a Christian social network site which is very satisfying in terms of Christian friendships and discernment. It is a sight where people are not silent, since we all share the same concerns about the state of the Christian world, and the open decline of Biblical truths, particularly within so-called traditionally Bible believing denominations. We don’t ignore one another, yet there is open criticism and confrontation.
So back to the question “How do you (me) handle criticism?” I am accustomed to it. I am also accustomed to being critical. I have a debrief partner, he is my husband. I have a Bible and I am dependent on God. I seek Him in others criticism and I seek Him when I have been critical towards others. I am not a communitarian, seeking the greater good or common ground. I am a Christian seeking His approval above all else. Like my mother, I fear the Lord in a Godly way, understanding that one day I will stand before Him. He will have the final word, good or bad. I can only do what I believe to be right and God honoring.
I am not emotionally immune to criticism, but I have grown wiser at separating my personal feelings and fixing my eyes on my priority. One cannot be all things to all people. Being true to my convictions and beliefs has to be more important than the unfavorable judgment of others.
When I originally moved to Portland, Maine in the late 70’s I fell in love with the place. I had grown up in Caribou, Maine…far from the ocean, and although I still have good childhood memories of Caribou, moving to Portland was quite a thrill. I remember driving all around with new found friends along roads that, at every corner, exposed views that would take my breath away. I quickly grew accustomed to the docks, fisherman and local haunts. While I loved (and still do), driving the spectacular roads with views and breaking waves off the rocky ocean landscape, I enjoy being on foot the most.
I love to walk ocean city streets. I love the smell, the colors, the tattered look of lobster cages, ropesdangling from boats, and the determined, hardworking demeanor of those who make a living on the waterfront. I have a fondness for the worn down buildings and restaurants. I love the hustle of the islanders coming off the ferries on the “mainland” and heading to their offices and up town to put in their various days of work.
I like the brick and mortal of the once infested unpopular waterfront districts, now lined with rustic shops and pricey tourist memorabilia. I love the smell of competing fancy coffee, doughnut, and cookie stores along with the near hits that gawking tourists almost always seem to experience at the hands of Commercial Street traffic or over- zealous skateboarders. I love street vendors, the thin alleyways, the décor and hippy dippy clothing and consignment retail purchases. I adore the antique and brass signs, misplaced and crooked on the window arches.
I cannot imagine ever living away from the ocean. To me, every single waterfront is a gateway to the world, whether you ever go anywhere. The waterfront is the place stories and poems are written about. It is a place of enchantment, wonder, and lingering mystery.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered in one place, and let the dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called ‘seas.” And God saw that it was good.
As one of Moms caretakers I have found that my mind often wanders off, reflecting on the years before we lost her. I find myself thinking about all the signs along the way. Much of Moms stuff, packed by her, in boxes labeled, “good junk” has landed at our house. Yes, Mom marked things “good junk.” Whenever she had something that she wasn’t sure of keeping or discarding got set aside in boxes called “good junk” on the assumption that one day she would need it again. Much of that junk appears to be things she thought might be useful for a future gift for someone else.
Like my daughter, Tracy, along with myself, Mom was always on the lookout for “stuff” that she could set aside to give away at some future time. Mom was a treasure hunter. One of her plastic storage boxes contained Christmas gifts, while another had children’s gifts. A third box held childhood memories and many letters, cards and notes. Mom loved boxes. She introduced me to banana boxes, the kind you go to the grocery store to get. She liked anything that you could use to fill up, put on top of one another or use for storage. As a kindergarten teacher she collected boxes to organize with.
In looking back, I can see Mom playing with her boxes. She would go through them and reorganize. Mom spent hours in her boxes. She would line them up in her bedroom, move them around and pile them up one top of another. She’d move them into straight, orderly lines and methodically rearrange the content within them. Once done, she would begin again, stretching her mind to accomplish yet a better system. She might remove a few items and transfer them into Ziploc baggies or put a rubber band around a handful of rulers, pens and small pieces of paper, only to return them to a box yet more organized.
Imagine an early childhood kindergarten teacher with Alzheimer’s. Compulsive, repetitive, childlike…
Alzheimer’s is visual to those who are watching. The signs along the way can leave us with smiles or sadness. They each bear witness to a mind in isolated wonder.
If asked, Mom would smile and explain what she was doing. Her tasks were a total joy to her, 3 to 4 years before we lost her. Mom’s explanations were not easily understood, since she was obviously losing her language skills, but if you were lucky enough to witness her “fun," then you would just hug her as though you understood.
It wasn’t until the fall of 2011, about 18 to 17 months before we lost her that I noticed her anxiety level raise when attending to her boxes. That fall, Mom seemed to be going through all she owned in her boxes and play things, like she knew this was her last hurrah. I would watch her and attempt to help. When I’d suggest a way to do something she often rejected it. If she was overwhelmed, I would offer to take care of a box. Sometimes she would allow me to bring one home. She would silently think it out and then say that it was a good idea. Mom had boxes full of old pictures and photo albums. I think she knew they needed safe keeping. In one box I came across a beautiful picture of Mom when she was younger, but it had a tear in it. I asked Mom if I could gently tape the back so it wouldn’t get worse. Mom told me, "no." She was nervous I’d make it worse. Later, she told me to go ahead and attend to the picture with tape. It took her time to comprehend that I wanted to preserve, not harm her picture.
Mom did all this box work that fall in her front porch, right beside the living room. She had an idea about making this area “hers.”
One day, out of nowhere, Mom abruptly stopped all of her organizing. Many with Alzheimer’s suddenly just stop what they are doing. They never return to it again. It’s like watching a connection end, or a light go out…and not turn back on. Once Mom was done, she only looked back from her sitting position on the couch in the living room. She would look into the porch as though seeing something undone, which it was. Dad and I didn’t touch anything of hers that she left unfinished. We left it alone, since it was all her special belongings and it was her room. Mom could look and see herself as in a mirror as it were...she could see her boxes, her books, her knickknacks, paper pieces and notes tapped to the wall or bookshelves. Occasionally she would walk in and touch something or move it. Only simple things, not the heavy mental organizing she had loved for years…I can still see her eyes lovingly staring into her past, pulling it close to her heart.
I knew Mom would hold off until God’s perfect calendar, where the Old and New Testament met. Not on Easter, the following Sunday, but today when the blood of the Old Covenant met with the Lamb of God, the real Passover. This was her “white as snow” day, I just knew it.
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him-his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness---so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Recently someone said to me they have two gears; stop and go. She is the kind of person who goes all day long. She is organized, (that’s a quality I’d pay money for,) and she is accomplished in most of what she endeavors to do. People like her just ‘do it.'
I wrote a book. I wanted to write a book, and I did. Good, bad, indifferent, received, enjoyed or rejected, I just did it. In doing so, I came face to face with doubt, and yes, occasionally grandiosity. Mostly, I came face to face with fear.
I remember when Mom was finishing her Masters’ Degree and had to submit a paper. She called me frequently, consumed with fear. There were times she felt she just couldn’t do it. There were times when she felt that what she was writing about wasn’t good. There were times she worried about what her superiors would think concerning her finished work. Isn’t that just like us to set ourselves up in the end by allowing fear to get in our way? Mom did finish her paper, and Mom did receive her Master’s Degree.
Push on… just ‘do it.’
In writing a book, I did not know anything about how it’s done traditionally. I had no starting point in writers’ conferences, literary agents or editors. I wasn't even aware of such things or groups until I was close to finishing my book.
To this day, I have no idea how to promote or sell my book as this is an ongoing learning experience. Quite frankly a google search on the ‘how to’ of self-publishing is exhausting. I have typed self-publishing in the search engine many times, the result is 150,000,000 hits in 0.21 seconds on my computer. I find myself unable to keep up with all the directions and suggestions, who would?
I wrote a book, opened a self-publishing company and faced my fear by pushing on. I said I wanted to, therefore I prayerfully just did it.
The fear that mostly got in my way, besides not really knowing what I was doing, was the fear of rejection and the fearful need to answer my own question throughout, "why am I doing this again?" Ultimately, the fear of rejection is a matter of faith. I am already secure in Christ. Any good that comes from that is in accordance to His will , therefore rejection quickly took a back seat. I was left with, "why, again, am I doing this?" I did it because quite simply, I wanted to. For some reason, I found it important to process and tell our story. Not only the story about Alzheimer’s but my intertwined story about ‘stuff.’ I wanted to tell Mom’s story, Dad's story, and to add another voice in the moving dialogue of what people and families go through.
“In my professional opinion it will be within the next 12 hours."The words were as direct, as she was kind; as honest as she was compassionate. When Brittany, the visiting hospice nurse, spoke them, it was as if there wasn’t anything to doubt or question. After all, observing people during their last moments in this life was part of her job and if there was anyone more qualified to make the call… we couldn’t think of one.
That was on March 25th,2013, at approximately 11am. Mom’s time of death was marked at 12:01 am March 26th 2013.
People diagnosed with Alzheimer's are more than three times as likely to die as those without it. (link quote)
Alzheimer’s is often overlooked by many individuals who aren’t dealing with it on the front line. Even those who witness this illness firsthand are often not confronted by Alzheimer’s stark reality. Many who have Alzheimer’s are in homes, hospitals and are cared for by medical personal. Alzheimer’s heartbreaking portrait can only be understood when we understand that, though it is a neurological illness, its effects are seen in the physical realm. Think about it... “the mind is a wonderful organ,” is it not? The mind tells your feet to move, it tells her stomach “I am hungry,” it recognizes beauty... The mind tells our arms to hug, and reminds our nerves that heat is present on the stove top. The mind sees and hears words, and translates them to something meaningful.
The mind. What a beautiful thing.
When a person loses their mind they lose everything. I’m not talking about a mental illness, I’m talking about nothingness.
I saw my mother look into a mirror several times and say, in all seriousness, “Who are you?” Mom didn’t see herself, she saw a stranger in the room. At first, when I saw Mom do this I wanted to laugh and make light of it, as Mom was often a jokester, but it was actually not a laughing matter. Mom saw another person in the room whom she did not know and it frightened her. Sometimes Mom looked at Dad and said “When are you leaving?” Mom and Dad were married almost 55 years yet she forgot who he was on many days. Mom kept waiting for this man , her husband, to leave.
We use the word 'paranoia' when describing some symptoms of Alzheimer’s but a better way to describe it would be mindlessness. Mom was not paranoid, she was losing her mind and it displayed itself as paranoia. Mom never changed. She was always lovely and pretty even in the end, but she could not recognize herself.
Alzheimer’s is more than just forgetfulness. It eventually spreads within the brain, effecting the section which controls the physical functions. A person with Alzheimer’s may eventually forget how to breathe or swallow. According to the Center for Disease and Prevention approximately 5 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s.
Still, many do not know that it is a fatal disease. There is no cure.
This figure is likely higher, since many with Alzheimer’s die from related complications.
Not since listening to Kim Komando’s explanation of the future of technology, as understood in ICloud,has my brain had such a meltdown. I say that with genuine appreciation to Kim’s keen intelligence on all matters “techie.” I joined Twitter in May of 2011 to follow breaking news and things of interest, i.e. The Drudge Report, CNSNews, Debkafile News and Arutz Sheva Briefs. Several weeks ago I decided to “join” and get involved in this social network. Mostly, I was frustrated with the current affairs of our country, along with the world in general. I thought perhaps I may find others of “like mind” who felt like me.
Wow...did I ever!
After a few days, and some lovely follow backs (#Thank you) I began to ponder just how your network actually works in terms of responding to my new found “community.” Twitter has so many subcultures, therefore I had to determine which ones I wanted to define as my "prefer to follow” tags. I am following Christians, Conservatives and military men and women, both active and retired, along with their supporters.
After a few paltry attempts at “tweeting,” I proceeded to the local book store to purchase Twitter for Dummies, thinking this would be helpful to my delayed learning curve. Wrong.
The very first line in the books forward says “Let’s be honest. You’re not a dummy.” No I’m not, but I’m not as smart as the dummies book. Honestly, try as I may, I am not able to get past RT, favorite and reply. Every day I am a newbie and it’s starting to bother me. I feel foolish sending a full newbie disclosure to followers.
I get so excited when my phone dings me with a new tweet, or as we use to say, “you’ve got mail.” I run to see your shared message or my inclusion in a message sent out as a group. I love to see I’ve been followed. At least I have caught on in the silently assumed behavior of sending a 'thank you' and to re-follow those of interest. In reading “for dummies,” I get the "not to exceed 140 characters," but not how to send a group shout out. When I am included in a group message with only a bunch of @names and nothing else, I’ve yet to figure out the etiquette of responding. All the while, I am thrilled to be a “part of” your community. I also understand from “for dummies,” that I should be sensitive to the tw or twi prefix ie tweet, tweeple, and tweetup, and assess whether I will be using it as my language or not. I won’t be using it except as the word tweet applies.
For those who have never read this book and are advanced in their techie mental finger speed, kudos to you. I really admire you and I am jealous.
Page 108 says the name of the game is engagement. Ok but I’m on page 108 and the best I’ve got is “don’t use any more than 140 characters.” I’m really not a dummy, so why do I feel like one? On page 145, I am introduced to #hashtags. That one I learned 3 weeks before I bought the book, therefore I can move on, but not until I make a mental note-to-self to not over use hashtags. Before I am able to apprehend the whole idea of Twitter conversation, code of behavior and those favorite group includes, “for dummies” suggests yet another impossibility called branching out with #thirdparty applications. Just when I thought I was getting somewhere I am being lead to other software downloads with names like Seemic Desktop, TweetDeck, Digsby, Friedcell, Blip and Twitterific. Seriously, I just want to visit properly!
Mind you, I kept looking at your retweets and scratching my head while pondering the 140 character and your links to web sites. What’s bit.ly? Uhh... a quick google search away and easy directions, PASTE and COPY, it doesn’t get much easier for those of us "not dummy" types.
I must confess that 6 months before I turned 50 I spent a tremendous amount of time at #BestBuy. I went in repeatedly to talk to a lovely clerk who was #IPHONE smart. She taught me most of what I would need to know. I have now been using an IPHONE for over 5 years. As a newbie to IPHONE it wasn’t this painful. Yep, my whole world seemed to fit into my phone.
At this writing I only have 36 twitter followers.The highest compliment I had yesterday was to be added to a list called “friendly to Israel." This truly tugged at my heart strings.
Essentially, what I mean to say is that I am enjoying your tweets tremendously. I am not sure I will be catching up very quickly, but I so appreciate hanging out in this age of social networking and finding others who are #StandUpPatriots, #DefendersOfFreedom, #BibleBelievingChristians, #SupportersOfFamily, #OutspokenVoices, #Hoorah, #NeverForget and #GodBless people... no matter who or where you are. ( I know that’s more than 2 hashtags)
Excerpt from chapter 2 'When It's All said and Done' "Mom introduced me to the computer when she was attending Antioch, to receive her Master’s Degree in teaching. We lived in Castine, and I was completely against this technological craziness. She and Dad gave us our first computer so she could show me how to use it and instant message me. She was quite proud of her ability to understand this “new age”. She loved MAC’s and was always showing me the one at Stevens Brook Elementary School, and all that it could do for her kindergarten class. "
Yesterday my husband and I drove to Penmor Lithographs with our book 'When It's All Said and Done'...Penmor is going to print the book. What an impressive facility! Dave and I got the tour. We saw cool machines and met some of the folks who work there. I said to Dave on the way home, they are all "rock stars" at what they do. I cannot thank them enough for treating us to an impressive afternoon. Here's a big shout out to Wayne, Walter, Brian, Steve, Terry and the rest of the staff. You made us feel very welcomed and we are thrilled to leave out project in your capable hands.
Dotting the i's and crossing the t's... with my husband Dave and our two dogs, Stella Rae and Minnie Mae. Barbie
Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States overall and the 5th leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older. It is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent it, cure it or even slow its progression.
“So you think you can write?” or, “So you think you can take “good” pictures?” Don’t we all? It was not until I jumped in wholeheartedly, out of a genuine love and passion, that I realized the extent of popularity in the self-publishing or photography arena. I was, and am, on such a learning curve…I had no idea of the language, seriousness, commitment and time it would consume. I only knew that I l enjoy both mediums. I find myself unable to walk away. I am obsessed. I don’t know what makes a person a “photographer,” any more than what makes someone a writer. My husband says that we become one, (either of the aforementioned), the moment we begin to write or take a picture. But I am talking about a real photographer or a real writer, according to the lay-person’s standards.
I suppose it’s when you become good at your “craft.” But “good” is in the eye of the beholder. I read incessantly about photography, yet, I cannot retain the information when it comes time to click my camera.
I look at other people’s photos and appreciate the vision that is seen and captured.
I do not edit in Photo Shop, as that is a learning curve too complex for me.
I was watching the Westminster Dog Show and, while I enjoyed seeing the beautiful dogs, I couldn’t help but find myself drawn to the photographers in the background. I said to myself, “I need to practice taking pictures in low light without using a flash” and, “I wonder what kind of a lens they are using.”I kept getting distracted from the dogs as I attentively looked for “real photographers.” After all, they were in the front row at the Westminster Dog Show… they must be “real” photographers.
Once, I was at an event (with my camera, of course, which hardly ever leaves my side), and a gentleman began to “compare” with me. Apparently, he was a photographer. He held in his hands, like myself, his pride and joy…a digital camera. You know the posture we take? Cute… He sort of snubbed me as I only have a Nikon 3100. Only! This baby cost me $500 dollars along with the throw-in package 200 zoom lens. I had in my “bag” another lens which cost me an additional $500. That’s a lot of money for this gal. Although, I guess that if you’re a serious photographer it’s a nothing camera, but this camera has become a part of me. It fits in my hands like a perfect set of gloves.
My goal, at this event, was to take photos and create a memorable music DVD. I do it free, as well as print pictures, to personally hand to people. What fun!
This gentleman asked me “Do you shoot in the R-A-W?”, “Yep” I said, having no idea what he even meant! “Take that,” I thought, “see, I’m a photographer.” (For those who do not know, RAW is a developed photo or actually undeveloped photo. RAW is like the old way: it sits sort of like a negative in storage until you’re ready to process it.It is different than JPEG, which is what most people use.Not understanding the difference makes them…NOT a photographer, I suppose).
The best advice I was ever given concerning shooting pictures in this digital era was to take as many …and even more than you can think of. Never forget, it’s free to delete them and have a blast!
Excerpt from Chapter 6 'When It's All Said and Done'
" That September, I started taking more pictures than ever. I would drive to Bridgton past a farm that gave me comfort. I watched the season’s sunlight transition and waved at the tractor drivers plowing the fields. I looked forward to seeing the cows and sheep, stopping regularly to photograph them. I began to use my photos to make short DVD music videos about 2-5 minutes long. I would sit for hours at night, editing, improving and telling our story through this medium. Eventually I splurged from a small Sony “point and shot” camera to a Nikon 3100. It became my distraction. I have returned to those DVD’s and they truly reveal memories of my sorrow."
We finished editing our book. We are now finishing on the design and format and getting everything completed so that we can print our book! I am saying 'we' because without my husbands devotion and tireless time to this first heartfelt project, I don't know where I'd be. Thank you Dave for your support and wise oversight...
I first met Georgie 17 years ago. She would soon be my mother in law, as her daughter and I married and made our home in Portland, Maine. It was the second marriage for Barbie and me, so I was well familiar with all of the family dynamics which contributed to a marriage. Family gatherings including holidays, birthdays, graduations and barbeques were always attended by Bob and Georgie.
There was never a time where both of my “parents in law” weren’t a joy to be around. I’ve even remarked to Barbie on several occasions that I considered myself lucky and blessed to have such exceptional in-laws.
You’ve no doubt heard, upon occasion, comedic one liners…you know the ones…”mother in law” jokes, which have always been good for a laugh. That’s because we can all relate to the sentiment behind these jokes.
Now, whenever I hear this kind of humor, I just smile to myself…but for different reasons.
You see, none of these dynamics ever existed between me and Georgie. She was a loving, decent, kind, and respectful, woman who exuded all of the qualities you’d hope to see in someone who called themselves a Christian.
Ownership of copyright-The copyright in this website and the material on this website (including without limitation the text, computer code, artwork, photographs, images, material, on this website) is owned by Sweet Georgie Ann's Books and What Not and its licensors, (unless otherwise stated or revealed ie connecting links, credited quotes).