Baker’s Yeast…er…Cyst

My foot was elevated on a stool, cushioned by a pillow.  The entire leg was swollen with the knee looking suspiciously like a substitute for a basketball.  The ice pack was enclosed in a small towel resting on the knee.  The pain was, well I have given birth so I will not say it is the worst I have experienced but it comes a close second.

Everyone says exercise is so very good for you.  In my case exercise is hazardous to my health. My used to be dear friend chortled and proclaimed: “You are the only person I know who could bust up a knee slipping from a stationary exercise bike.”  That is true.  I did not fall off.  One well shod, sneakered foot slipped out of the stirrup and all my voluptuous avoirdupois went onto one leg and landed me in painsville.

I iced the entire leg and took myself to the doctor. I was sent for X-ray and a number of ultrasound tests including DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).  That one gave me pause as you are talking probable serious repercussions if there is a clot.    My doctor called as soon as she had some results to say: “I am happy to tell you that there is no clot, however you have a Baker’s  …ist (mumble) behind the knee.”

“Baker’s yeast?”  I asked incredulously.

“No, no, it is called Baker’s CYST”.

I had never heard of this.  She told me she would be referring me to an Orthopaedic surgeon and in the meantime I was to follow the RICE formula.

I was surprised how many people knew about Baker’s Cysts, how many had had it or knew people who had.  I had read up on it and was praying that it would heal itself as can and does happen.  One acquaintance gleefully informed me that she had had the needle aspiration and showed me the length of the needle that in my apprehensive state seemed to be at least a foot.  Yikes!

As is always the case, my Lifers were among my best support.  Outpourings of love and practical offerings and advice came from each one.  I emailed my thanks, explaining that I was being good and that RICE was helping. Jay wrote to ask what RICE was. I explained it was an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, the method used in First aid to relieve pain and swelling and to promote healing and flexibility. Here are excerpts of messages which followed:

Jay: “I thought you were eating the rice…I don’t think my neighbours, knew that either …  her doctor put her on a rice diet and she asked me if I had any rice, actually she was on rice and bananas and I wonder if her rice was the same as your rice  haha. I gave her some rice and never gave it a second thought, but now I wonder 

Me: “Now, that’s is hilarious!  Given my experience with aches and pains – rolled ankle, banged up elbow, I am quite familiar with RICE.  By the way I also like rice.  Did your neighbour have any swelling, inflammation, or sore joints? If yes, then it is not the diet but the acronym.  If no, then perhaps her doctor did mean her to eat rice.  Will you ever know for sure?  HaHaHa.” 

Jay: “Might even be funnier than that …  she had diarrhea in a bad way for nearly 6 weeks!  Bananas and rice was  prescribed.” 

Me: “I am almost falling off the chair….definitely the diet​…bananas and rice for diarrhea!” 

Out of curiosity, I look up R.I.C. E. on the internet. I finished falling off my chair as in the middle of explaining the first aid procedure the next heading in the stream was varieties of rice;  It informed me that in the US long grain rice is used for boiling, quick cook products and soup; short grain for cereals, baby food, beer and liquors.

This was followed immediately by ‘do not put ice directly on the skin’  then without skipping a beat or establishing a discernible logical connection the next heading was Inflammation fighting foods  which did NOT include rice but had broccoli and wild caught salmon in the mix. I thought, here is a complete dinner and was feeling quite full and drunk too from the long grain liquor when I was suddenly brought back on topic by the next heading: what is rice used for in first aid and was back to athletic injuries and the formula. 

You just cannot make up stuff like this.

The Meander:  Our intrepid Jim has suggested Jay and I do a skit or work on a routine for You Tube. Jay is wondering if my rice formula is holistic. I want to know if the bananas and rice is served as a smoothie.  We are all having fun with this….that’s GOOD!

 

Laughing with Love

A Dutch music video is playing and Bert is watching and singing along. It is set in a typical Dutch cafe and the music is upbeat and joyful.  He tells me that all the people are Dutch from Brabant.  He says people from Brabant are happy and full of fun.  Maybe that is true.  He is from Brabant. He is full of fun.  He is happy.

The phone rings. I recognize the number.  It is Jim. I am immediately apprehensive as Carol, his wife, has not been doing well lately.

“Hello”.

“Hi Paula, it’s Jim. I have something for your blog.”   No, I do not need to be worried as I can hear a smile in his voice.

“Oh, what have you got?”

He begins to laugh as he explains; “Well, it is about Carol’s mechanical cat.”

I start to smile as our group has been having some laughs about this cat since Carol got it.  I should explain that this is a ‘comfort pet’.  Comfort Pets are specifically manufactured to help people with various ailments deal with their illnesses.  They have been a staple at children’s hospitals, cancer facilities, hospices for years but now they are also being made and used for helping persons with dementia. There is the talking parrot, the dog and the cat.  They are both substitute companions and respite for caregivers.  Being electronic they interact in a number of ways and exhibit behaviours congruent to their species.  The parrot talks, the dog barks, the cat meows, purrs, cuddles and so on.  They are huggable, amazingly lifelike and easy care as there is no litter, walking, feeding or any of the care and demands required by a real pet.

“Carol goes to bed early, and the cat goes to bed with her” Jim continues.   “When I turn in later, I first take the cat away, turn it off and put it away for the night. If I do not turn it off it will meow at intervals and disturb our sleep. I was fast asleep when I felt a scratching, a kind of stroking and tickling at my neck.  Groggily, I tried to brush it away. The scratching came back and I felt Carol’s hand at my neck. She was doing the scratching, and she seemed to be getting frustrated and digging harder into my neck.  Then the penny dropped.  Carol was stroking the cat and was puzzled that the cat was not responding.  Now I had to think quickly: ‘Do I purr, meow, stretch out lazily or what?’  I could not remember what the cat did when that particular sensor was stroked.  I purred!”

Of course, by now we are both laughing so hard.

“Oh, well, at least you are a well loved comfort toy.”

“Yes.  That I am.”

“Thanks, Jim. I am sure I will have a post from this.”

Laughter helps.  On a not so good day a laugh will make it a little better.  Just a few days earlier, Jackie was having a bad day.  Jim called to tell her about returning home and noticing a large wet spot on the bed.  On investigation, Carol admitted to ‘giving the cat a bath’.  That made Jackie’s day.  It did not solve her particular problem but it made it look less hopeless as she laughed.  Jim thinks Carol has finally got it that the cat’s food is a battery. She had wanted to feed it. Next lesson is one or maybe twenty on you do not bathe a cat.

When the time comes I think I will get Bert a dog.  I will have to weigh the pros and cons carefully. After all you do bathe dogs but as for food, thanks to Jim, I will start the training early about the battery as the only food required.

The Meander:  My Lifeline group – Lifers- share our stories, our risible moments willingly.  We are incredible support for each other and even more important, we are friends.  We laugh a lot but never, ever at our loved ones.  When we laugh we thumb our noses at this terrible and terrifying disease.  It is our defiance and defense.  Otherwise, we would cry.

 

 

Something Worse 05/22/2017

The T.V. is on

An intrusive susurration

Barely audible

I hear, I do not listen

My thoughts are inward, personal,

Dark

Created from fear

Not knowing what lies ahead

Afraid to speculate

So tired, breathing is onerous

Brain at rest is wishful thinking

Sleep deprived too often a descriptive companion

Sleep is a roiling, swirling maelstrom,

Too vigilant to be peaceful

Thinking, doing, planning remembering for two

Forgetting self

Learning new unwanted skills

A logistical nightmare

Endless.

Tears make tracks down my face.

This disease that robs our humanity, our dignity is the worst.

“…Breaking news…22 persons, including children were killed by a suicide bomber at Arianna Grande concert in Manchester City, England… Hundreds are injured…”

Breath caught…Breathe, just breathe.

No, dementia is not the worst.

This is.

 

The Meander: May 22, 2017 was one day that the burden of being a caregiver was heavy.  The senseless bombing and loss of innocent lives at what should have been a happy occasion gave me a new, if somber, perspective.  I had to record it somehow.

 

 

Therapeutic Lying

I Lie!

“Gerard is coming tomorrow and we are going fishing. You have to come with us.”

“Oh.  When did he arrange that?” I ask.   My Bert hesitates and then: “Yesterday.”

Gerard, Bert’s brother, died last December.  But I say: “OK.  I will go with you but I am going to take a book.”  My Bert laughs.  “You can’t fish with a book.  I will get worms.”  Ah! Here is a nugget of reality for me to hold onto. He knows you do not fish with a book but need worms.

It is evening and Bert is looking sad.  Something is bothering him.  I can tell.  He is picking at his fingernails.  He does that when he is worried, anxious, confused.  I ask him what the matter is.  I hold his hands; put my forehead on his, which calms him; he looks up at me and I see fear and puzzlement in his eyes.

“Moeder has not come to see me for a long time.  She does not call me.  It is more than a month that I have not heard from her.” Bert’s mother died, if I remember correctly, in 1982.

“Oh, you do not have to worry.  She is so very busy. You know Moeder is always busy.  She will call you soon.  Do you want a cup of tea?” “Yes, and a cookie too?” he says with a smile.  His hands are still. I answer:  “You and your sweet tooth!  One cup of tea and maybe two cookies coming up.” The sadness is gone, the moment has passed.

That is therapeutic lying.

The first time I heard the phrase my immediate thought was: “Now that is one heck of an oxymoron if ever there was one.”  Little did I know this act would become a staple in my collection of strategies to deal with my Bert and Alzheimer’s disease.

We are taught not to tell lies.  However, we do know about those little white lies, the big whoppers and in Jamaica there is one called a ‘bare faced lie’ which is a lie told to you by someone who looks you in the eye and utters the most egregious lie without the slightest qualm. None of these are therapeutic lying.

Therapeutic lying is a very effective tool every caregiver learns to use.  Like most learned behaviours  you get better at it as time goes by. The more you do it, the better you are at it.  You do it not just for your loved one but also for yourself.  Of course we are going on a fishing trip; Bert’s mother will get in touch ‘soon’. Bert is reassured; I do not have to begin a long explanation of their deaths. No when, where, how nor why he did not know about them.  I do not have to say why we will not be going on a fishing trip with Gerard. I deflect with the offer of tea which my Bert could drink all day, and yes, he does like his cookies and cakes and ice cream or anything sweet.

My Bert attends an Adult Day Programme two days a week.  I would not tell him he is in adult day care which in essence that’s what it is.  No.  He goes to his club. A little therapeutic lying maintains his dignity.

So now I lie. I lie more than I would like but without any regret.  When I lie therapeutically I am showing my love for my Bert. This kind of lying maintains dignity, relieves stress, calms anxiety, provides solace, is a mood enhancer, a bonding technique and saves time which is precious to every caregiver.

Therapeutic lying is good for communication too. It can be the trigger to finding topics of conversation appropriate to my Bert’s interests.  I do fish with a book.  The baited line in one hand and the book in the other, so the next day or two weeks later I talk with my Bert about fishing and how I caught fish while reading a book.  We laugh. Photographs of his mother can bring a multitude of stories.  My Lifers have heard some of them.

The Meander:   Within the maelstrom that is Bert’s brain, time, people, places and events are all muddled. ‘Soon’, ‘yesterday’, ‘tomorrow’ are meaningless.  Yet at times those single words are the sum total of a therapeutic lie.  They are simple and yet so effective.  Some thoughts though lie too deep for tears or lies, any lies.

 

 

 

Me and My Shadow

 

I have a human shadow and he is my Bert, my husband.  I am not unique as any caregiver of a person with dementia will tell you. There is this phenomenon called Shadowing with which we are intimately familiar.

As the name suggests Shadowing is when persons with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia follow their caregivers around 24/7.  They become agitated even suffer anxiety attacks when the caregiver is not in sight. I do mean ‘when not in sight’ every minute, every hour of every day.

Caregivers are literally the life preservers, security blankets, the one safe, known aspect to a brain gone berserk.  This brings certain challenges and yes, some hilarity to a caregiver’s existence. Shadowing is the epitome of claustrophobia. The caregiver feels confined. You are never allowed to be alone. I knew I was in trouble when at a formal luncheon I went to the washroom and left the stall door open in case Bert missed me and came looking for me!

Ask any caregiver and you will find out we subscribe to a very special ‘open door policy’.  Having a shower or bath is challenging as you know you will be interrupted.  So why not lock the door?  Because you do not want to put your loved through the anxiety, the agitation, the panic that comes if he or she cannot see you.

My computer desk is perhaps 12 steps from Bert’s chair but in the middle of doing emails, or writing I will feel his presence and hear: “I miss you.”  My Lifeline Group and I have much to discuss once we begin to talk about Shadowing.

At times it can result in mishaps. To be close to you your loved one may ask repeatedly to ‘help’ you, and there are tasks they can do. However, you have to tell them in detail, one step at a time when any new task is attempted. So this day Jackie is making a pot roast. It simmering nicely and now she is making a salad when Bob keeps pestering asking to ‘help’.  Ah, he can wash the greens.  Both are happy. Jackie looks away for a minute, turns around and the greens are in the pot with the roast, simmering away!

When Jackie told me this a day later she was still seething, but the universe having blessed me with a weird sense of humour and a wild imagination, I started to laugh.

“So, did you make green roast and gravy?”

Soon, Jackie joined in and we roared. I kept seeing spring greens simmering away with a pot roast.

“Oh Paula, thanks.  I needed to laugh.  The worst thing was that I was livid and he was quite unconcerned about the whole thing.  He was just happy he was with me in the kitchen helping me, while I just saw the mess I had to clean up and wondering how to salvage the roast!”

Caregivers are tired and Shadowing contributes to that.  In my instance just as I am in a deep sleep Bert will get up, see an arm or a leg exposed, so he has to cover it.  At other times he does need the reassurance that I am there so he wakes me to tell me he loves me, or strokes my arm, or calls my name.  So now I am awake, he is happy that I am there and soon is snoring away.  I rarely get back to sleep. Yet as morning approaches you are on call doing everything for two.

Shadowing results from an illness.  Caregivers adapt. It is what causes Shadowing that is the greater stress.  When claustrophobia sets in we are not and cannot be angry with our loved ones, we must always remember ‘it is the disease’.  I hate Alzheimer’s disease.

As my Bert loses the present, I remember the past, the times ‘when’.  Then interruptions, loving gestures and expressions happened for a reason and were logical, not the cloying manifestations of a dread disease.  Now even those memories of times past, though good, are tinged with regret as now  I must remember for two.

The Meander: The conundrum of Shadowing is also the Alzheimer’s conundrum: There is sadness in the happiness and happiness in the sadness and the glue between the two is the absolute faith and trust of our loved ones in us, the caregivers.  Awesome!

I Live With A Toddler

I live with a toddler!

Oh joy, oh bliss.

He can be the sweetest or most obstreperous kid alive

Exasperating and at the same time totally lovable.

Contrary, cantankerous and stubborn then meek, sweetly obedient, loving and caring.

Most used words: “No”,” Why”, “I don’t want to”

Most used phrases; “I love you”; I miss you”; “Where were you?”

Most frequent activity: Sitting in ‘his’ chair, eating, sleeping,  going out for a drive, hugging me, always teasing.

His blue eyes fade when angry, anxious, fearful, hurting or lonely.

When all is well they become deep twin bluebirds of happiness

They shine that perfect Dutch Delft blue.

He chortles with glee at the simplest of pleasures,

He twinkles when he wins the battle,

He beams with love.

 

He cries in sadness and in happiness.  He is happy when I am happy and sad when I am sad.

 

But best of all he makes me laugh.

My toddler is uniquely mine

My toddler is 85 going on 5

My toddler is my husband

His eyes glisten when he speaks of love…our love!

The Meander: ‘Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.’ – Stephen Hawking.

 

It’s Lewy Body

Even a fly on the wall would be completely nonplussed if it could listen in on some of the conversations of my Lifeline Group.  When we are in Alzheimer’s world we speak a different language.  Statements and opinions voiced in the most casual manner  would be nonsensical and also incomprehensible to others.

This morning we are having a caregivers only session.  Jim comes in with a sigh and says:

“Ladies, I think I have crossed over into the Lewy-Body camp.”

I was puzzled but, before I go any further a note of explanation is needed.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia.  Another is Lewy Body.  There are many types of dementia.  Each one exhibits a particular set of symptoms that help clinicians to identify the type of dementia the patient has.  Each type has some dominant traits and a different enough pathology that help to identify the particular disease. Diagnosis is not easy.

Lewy Body is absolutely fascinating to me and one that is most often misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease another type of dementia.  Sometimes it is diagnosed as Dementia with Lewy Bodies since the name refers to particular proteins that form inside nerve cells in the brain and play havoc with them.  I used to interpret the phrase as  Alzheimer’s Disease with Lewy Bodies as I, in the beginning,  equated Alzheimer’s Disease with dementia. That is not the case. Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Body are two different diseases that cause dementia.

The dominant symptom of someone with Lewy Body is that they have hallucinations.  This  now becomes a little more complicated because hallucinations can  and do occur with other dementia.  Since the caregiver is the one to observe and see the  manifestation of this particular behaviour he or she must be careful to identify it as hallucinations and not  delusions.  Delusions are a different kettle of fish.  Simply put a delusion is where the patient complains that someone has stolen money from them while an hallucination would be to see money which does not exist. This is course 201 at Alzheimer’s university so we caregivers know the difference. Clear as mud, right?

My fascination comes from the fact that if you are a patient with Lewy Body dementia your hallucinations are unique to you.   It took me a while to wrap my head around it as the person with Lewy Body sees, hears, tastes, and interacts with people and things that are just not there.  It is not an imaginary world.  It is absolutely real. It is their world and to them it is perfectly logical. But let’s go back to Jim.

“What do you mean you have crossed over?” I asked.

“Well yesterday we were going to the day programme. I helped Carol into the van and then went around to the driver’s side, got in and then sat.  I did not move and when Carol did not say anything I asked if I could drive off.  She said ‘yes’. I turned to her and asked what about the other Jims.”

“Oh, it’s OK. You can go.  The other Jims are not coming today, only you.”

Jim turned to me and in all seriousness said: “You see, I was so used to having to wait for all the Jims to get in the car before I could drive anywhere that I was waiting for them to get in.”

I cracked up.  Jim joined in and soon we were reaching for tissues, so hard we were laughing.  I apologized and he said “Why?  It is funny!” And off we went again into the wonderful healing land of laughter.

I told him he did not have to worry about crossing over until he started to see clones of himself getting into the van. More laughter.

Jim has a marvellous sense of humour. Over the years he has regaled us with the special challenges of living with a person with Lewy Body dementia.  He has had to eat dinner with five other Jims and been asked if he did not like his dinner as he was the only one to leave anything on his plate. He has been told to go find the glasses or the keys at the other house.  At one time there were three homes and five Jims.  The three homes are not talked about much now but various deceased family members have been added to the mix.   The multiple Jims are alive and well and live with Carol. To Carol they are all very real.  No wonder he is discombobulated.

Carol is sweet, gentle and kind but you can see she has quite a bit of steel in her backbone.  We all wished we had known her ‘when’.  I always have a little bonus hug for her. She has a wry sense of humour and a lovely smile.

My Bert really likes Jim.  He calls him the ‘big guy’ since he does not remember names and Jim is a big guy.  Jim has a lovely way with Bert.  They love to tease each other. We ‘ladies’ as Jim calls us hold him in high regard.  We all have our challenges. Jim’s is the same yet different.  We are coping.

The Meander:  My Lifeline Group should be called the laughing group.  We have the gift of laughter and are able to see both the sublime and the ridiculous in the challenging journey we travel with our loved ones.

Now we are nine

It is a universal truth that we will die, but as a caregiver that reality takes on an immediacy that is incomprehensible to those who do not travel this journey.  Yet it is still shrouded in mystery.   It is a wallpaper always in the background of every new observance of slow deterioration. Yes, we will die and yes, we are caring for someone who is slowly dying.  There is a reason that Alzheimer’s disease is referred to as a ‘Slow death’.  Yet, like all of us we do not know when or how or even where.

Current statistics state that 80 percent of caregiver’s will suffer from depression. Not documented is the percentage of caregivers who die before the one with dementia.  That happens and I would hazard a guess it occurs more frequently than reported.  My Lifeline Group often voice the sentiment that they do not want to die before their spouses.  We all want to care for our loved ones until the end.  Yet we know we have no control over that.  This fear is just one of the rungs on the ladder of depression.

The fact is that Alzheimer’s disease leads to death.  We acknowledge that but when it happens it is no less traumatic than any other passing of a loved one. So we experienced a deep sadness when our Lifeline Group of five couples was reduced to nine. One in the family had died.  We mourned together.  We could not help but wonder who would be next.

When I got the news a year ago today, it hurt.  I had to mark the moment somehow so I sat and wrote:

Now we are 9                                                                                

We met by chance but perhaps not

We ten self-selected from a disparate group

United by the ever mutating forgetfulness

Of partners here but not here; changed yet unchanging

Living in two worlds; alternate realities.

We ten bonded deciding to share, to care, to laugh, to love, to live.

There is just one escape, we know it

It is the same for all – the ultimate equalizer.

We refused to speculate or predict

How could we?

Each day, learning, all effort focussed on doing, doing, doing.

Each day new, unexpected, mysterious, unknown, surprising,

Each day its own journey within the journey

Now the news – one is gone.

We contemplate the expected unexpected and wonder

We are sad for the death and sadder for the living.

We mourn the loss

We – the Ten that are now

The 9.

The Meander: It is good we do not know the future and it does no good to speculate.  One day at a time is the way we must live as each one is new, different and unique to each of us.  We carry on, we share and we continue to care for each other.  Today my heart sighs for the two who is now the one.

Alzheimer’s University

 

Alzheimer’s University

My Lifeline Group is very well educated.  We are all geniuses.  It is a requirement if we are to be successful at Alzheimer’s University. The tagline for my blog is Standing Still is not an Option.  At Alzheimer’s University failure is not an option.

Truth be told I think we are still at the first year level, so arduous and complex is this University.  At this university first year may span one year or four years or more.  An Alzheimer’s degree is a multi-disciplinary degree with many courses.  No specialization offered as we have to do every course no matter how arcane it seems or whether we have an interest in the subject or not.  We must slog through the many topics. So with tongue firmly in cheek, here are a few of the courses:

Mastering questions – the same ones at least five times in thirty minutes in year one.  By year three it may be ten in ten minutes.

Seeking Logic in the illogical -Advanced Seminar that may have you being five persons, literally.

Confronting stigma – this is a much needed course to face the world and explain: “It’s a disease”.

Comedy unCentral – seeing the ridiculous in clearly highly emotional and terrifying moments.

Continuous patience module – you are required to show more and more patience in increasingly  stultifying and incrementally frustrating moments and which will include seeking divine intervention!

Living in two worlds – a core subject in which you learn to identify the real and Alzheimer’s world and find the ability to move between the two seamlessly.

Therapeutic lying, master’s level– a practicum

Creative thinking and solutions to banal issues like hiding the tooth cup or spraying the alligator away.

Accepting the abnormal as normal as in looking for the bread basket in the laundry room, in the washer.

Putting yourself first – a required course for caregivers. Success in this gives you a Ph.D degree.  This one is taught every semester for as long as the journey lasts and is almost unattainable. As I write this I can imagine fellow caregivers proclaiming sarcastically: “As if’!

Eliminating Tiredness – a professor is still being sought to teach this course. Qualified applicants may apply here!

The Meander: As the journey unfolds each of these ‘subjects’ will have a post or two.  Each day brings new insights.  I will share them willingly in the hope it brings a smile or some new understanding of this special path we caregivers travel together. (Illustration courtesy of Pixaby)

 

Gratitude art

Gratitude Art.

I cannot draw to save my life.  Even my stick figures look rather strange.   It is so bad that in high school when it was discovered that Latin was a particular challenge I was encouraged to take art as an alternative.  I was happy.  How difficult could that be? Also I liked art from a spectator’s point of view.  Three weeks into the artistic experiment I was back to Latin with a note which indicated that I cannot be as bad at Latin as I am at art.

I am glad I conquered Latin.  However, I still loved art enough to do some art appreciation courses later on.  Also, I know without a doubt that I am vital to art and artists.  My reasoning is as follows:  If everyone was an artist who would appreciate the art?  I am definitely in the art appreciation camp. I revere those who can and am first in line to show appreciation.

Fast forward many years and as a result of Alzheimer’s my art has been hung in an art gallery. I can claim to be a curated and hung artist. Will wonders never cease?

I do know my limitations but when it comes to my Bert there are no limits so off I went gallantly with him to art therapy.  It was interesting to attend as it was held in a historical home and museum.  After the usual tour and tea the project was to create a work that illustrated gratitude, or something for which we were  grateful. I decided I would help Bert with his idea and interpretation rather than show my ineptitude.  That was not to be.  I was told everyone had to produce something.

Bert did not need my help.  In no time he had drawn something that looked like a house with a figure in it.  He told our wonderful art therapist that it was me at home. He told her that meeting me was the best thing that ever happened to him.  Awhh.  That’s my Bert.

However, remember I cannot draw period, so I could not return the compliment. I went the modernist route to create a ‘thought’.  Yes!

We had paints, canvas, dowels, string, shiny buttons, sequins.  My creation was a wall hanging using mixed media.  I used a pretty crystal studded button and if you look carefully the squiggly thingie in the middle is embellished with sequins.  Yes, even I have trouble with an adequate description of this masterpiece.

So here it is followed by the ‘artist’s note’.

My Gratitude Hanger.

This represents a positive attitude and sunny disposition.  The colours are bright, happy, and sunny with sparkly embellishments to represent certain intense moments of happiness.

Friends and family have spoken of my happy outlook.  Many have told me that when they are feeling down they call me and know that they will have a brighter outlook afterwards.

Look and you will and see the tears, but they are dominated even overwhelmed by HAPPY and reach upwards to become the streamer of a kite? A bird? Wings?

It was in middle age that I finally realized that this quality so obvious to the people I meet was a wonderful gift.  Now I recognize that as a fact and I am immensely GRATEFUL!

Come on stop laughing!  It’s not that awful.  Maybe it is. When I proudly presented it together with the catalogue, which also featured my work and photographs of the exhibit to our son, he looked at it made a noise that sounded like “Huh!” and said: “Mom, you are a better writer than artist”.

OK, I’ll take that! “Huh!” Everybody is a critic. “Huh!”

The Meander: Look at my big grin and the proud stance of my Bert. Priceless!