THE WRITE PLACE…

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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

Holding You Up A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii PHALL PHOTO 2012

Holding You Up
A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii
PHALL PHOTO 2012

by Patti Hall

They Say That Practice Makes Perfect

Technically, I wasn’t looking for practice or perfection when I answered my sister’s phone call from Alaska a few days ago. Just last week I was deep into my grieving cave-woman mode. Tuesday, I traveled about 350 miles (round trip) to a convalescent facility in Oregon. I met with the care team of my sister’s mother-in-law, Mrs. M.  Yesterday I started cleaning, packing and planning for an extended stay at the home of Mrs. M. in Portland, as her caregiver.

Caregiver: Is This A Calling And/Or A Bridge?

My caregiver internship began within the parameters of my first parenting role when I was 28 years old. That’s what parents do, they give care. Care-giving starts when you wake up in the morning, extends throughout the day, and continues into the night. It is wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, feeding, clothing and loving those in your care. Care-giving is sleepily welcoming a tearful dreamer under your covers, and into your arms, in the middle of the night.

To further my caregiver qualifications, I answered the phone and agreed to join a caregiver group in California. A troupe of his sisters and nieces, gathered at the home of my maternal uncle, when he was in the last stages of his battle against cancer. We came from 3 states; sometimes one at a time, sometimes overlapping, but one of us was always at his side. Despite my uncle’s sad prognosis, he basked in the songs of this Florence Nightingale choir. The songs were expressed in our laughter and love. We nurtured, laughed, cried, reminisced and took care of his physical needs. It was the first time that I truly considered how fragile life is.

A few years later, an interim caregiver position came available via an out-of-state call from my children’s father, aka my former husband. His mother was in her 80’s, living alone and had recently been widowed. She was not doing well emotionally, although, she was physically fine. I packed my bag, drove 100 miles north and left my own family to fend for themselves (again). K and I had known each other for many years and we had remained friends.

K was in deep grief and needed help with the mounds of paperwork and legal procedures that come after a death. While her son handled his job and household transfers from Utah to Washington, I helped K negotiate the details at hand. The signs of dementia came on fast and I consulted her son over the phone. I took K to her doctor and explained our concerns. She was poked and prodded and tested.

I received a promotion. Along with K’s paperwork, legal matters and emotional distress (grief), I had to keep her physically safe. From herself. Household hazards suddenly loomed everywhere. She was a fragile child one moment and an angry woman in the next moment. By the time her son came, K and I were exhausted and traumatized by trying to navigate the chaos brought on by the changes taking place within her brain. I returned home and wished that I could have done more.

Stay tuned, Part 2 will be posted soon…more caregiver experiences and I ponder whether this role is a calling or bridge to the next step in my life.

Have you answered the call? We’d love to hear your story in the comment section.

Helpful Links:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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I Won Mary Oliver’s New Book, Dogs Songs!

 Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, so this is very cool to have won this advanced copy. Oops, almost forgot, this is from Goodreads site.

Book Giveaway For Dog Songs

  • Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
    Dog Songs
    by Mary Oliver

    Release date: Oct 08, 2013
    Enter to win an advance copy of the latest collection of poems from Mary Oliver, DOG SONGS!–Threaded throughout Mary Oliver’s many collections, there…more

    Congrats! You’re a winner!

    Books usually arrive within 4-6 weeks.

    Giveaway dates: Aug 26 – Sep 13, 2013
    10 copies available, 676 people requesting
    Countries available: US


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Writing Journal; Does Gardening Count?

179

Sunset fire with pelicans heading home on Half-Moon Bay, Westport, WA

PHALL PHOTO 2013

Secret garden

We have water! The little waterfall is flowing and Greg (neighbor friend) also put in a head that sprays a bell-shape of water in the pond. He has been placing beautiful chunks of petrified wood to camouflage the edge of the pond. I hope to do the plantings tomorrow. The sound of flowing water is so wonderful! Greg will work on lighting soon, although I have some pretty little metal tea light holders that I’m going to add tomorrow. We have a long way to go, but getting the water flowing was a great motivator :>)

Writing…or not

I’ve done some book reviews on Goodreads here and Amazon here. I posted a lengthy response on Georgia’s blog about JK Rowling using a male name for her latest book here. I’ve also been active on Facebook here. I did a word cloud challenge from Zoe’s site  here.  The result, below, was written with ONLY the words from a specific “cloud” of words:

Stolen Breath

I swear, at present, I know fifteen ladies,
been living on the run, on the road, for years.
Not trying for truth or gods,
but breath.

Maybe you believe there was a stolen car,
a robbed bank,
but you would be at fault; wrong!

Truth is, maybe fifteen ladies
had a chap that robbed that breath…

Patti

What haven’t I done? You would ask! I haven’t worked on the memoir, or the postcards book. I haven’t posted my new features for writers and caregivers. I’ve written the first couple of them and they sit and wait for me in the drafts folder. I just seem a little emotionally hungover from August and, well, stalled.

So there you have it. Hope you stop in and say hi, maybe tell me what you’ve been up to. Tamed any lions lately?

Patti


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Flying Readers Found In A Tree and On A Bed

Nephew Graeson reading in a tree house he helped his dad build. GHALL PHOTO 2013

Nephew Graeson reading in a tree house he helped his dad build last year.
GHALL PHOTO 2013

From down on a bed, to up in a tree, every reader has a favorite place to read.  My mother and my nephew are just two of the avid readers in our family.  My favorite place is a rocking chair; my aunt sits up in a hard-back chair at the kitchen table. Mom likes to read in bed before she goes to sleep.

Mom reading, Hawaii Island cottage. 2012

Mom reading in Hawaii Island cottage. 2012

My daughter reads a snippet at a time (between mothering duties) on the front porch. When she was younger, she read in a big field next to our house. My nephew reads in a tree or on the couch.  I almost always have a book in my truck, to read whenever I have to wait for something or someone.

Mom, my oldest sis and I read on vacation, but I’m not sure about the others. My youngest sis has a bulging bookshelf waiting for the day she is done with college and work. The house I raised my children in had no walls in the large main room; I divided areas with book shelves filled to capacity. I have since weeded them down to about 12 small boxes. They patiently wait for a space in my daughter’s home (in between the children).  My oldest sis saves up her favorite author’s newest books for her and Captain Honey’s long vacation in Costa Rica every year. That takes some serious will power.

There are not many male readers in the family, but a few. All of my best girlfriends are readers; none of my boyfriends or husbands were. Sometimes I think about all the people who don’t have the means, ability or opportunity to read. Then I wonder how those who do have the means, ability and opportunity to read, can choose not to.  It would be like having wings to fly, but choosing to walk everywhere. If I were Queen, everyone would read and everyone would keep a journal. The world would be a better place, I’m sure of it.

What about your family? How do books and reading fit into your lives? Share your family’s book and reading stories and photos in an email to me and I will post them next Monday. 1writeplace dot wordpress at gmail dot com   If not, feel free to leave a comment instead.

Meanwhile, check out Marilyn Armstrong’s blog post on the subject here, which inspired me to write this post.

Thank you,

Patti


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Writer’s Journal; Thanks, Writer’s Group, Gutsy, Memoir

Kite Festival on a marine layer morn. Grayland Beach, WA Phall Photo 2013

Kite Festival on a marine layer morn. Grayland Beach, WA
Phall Photo 2013

Photo has nothing whatsoever to do with this post :>) I just wanted some color.

Things are moving along so quickly. You know the sayings, “feast or famine,” and “when it rains, it pours”? That’s the situation I am in right now—a soaking wet feast of activity. There are umbrellas in that antique coat rack by the door; better grab one :<) Sure it’s raining in here, but coffee, tea, cookies and fruit are on the buffet by the window, help yourself.

Kudos to You!

You, my old and new friends, are the best and have been incredibly responsive in this little community at The Write Place. So many connections are being made, and friendships being forged here. You are not just supporting me, but you are spreading that support to each other, all over the web. Thank you.

South Beach Writer’s Group (WA not CA, silly)

I just got back from the monthly writer’s meeting at the local library. Our group is called South Beach Writer’s Group and I’m going to do my part by building a website for us. Yes, I know, I’m new at this. I do have the time though (sort of), and that’s a prized commodity in any group. Okay, so you think they’re just desperate? No, no, no, no, I volunteered to do it in order to build our group. Win/win (they hope).

Today I presented my poster-board mind map. I’m using it to stay focused on what goes where as I put together my memoir. Then I passed around my original mind map from my writer’s journal. Gwen would have been proud; see my previous mind map post here. I was amazed that only one of them had heard of mind maps, but that made for a lot of questions and a productive conversation.

I also talked about our community here at The Write Place, and building a writer’s platform. The rest of the meeting was spent listening to each other’s latest work, critiquing and commenting. We have folks from all different age groups (from seniors in high school to seniors in life). We are writing across many genres, with a variety of writing goals. It was a well-spent two hours. Here is a link to one site that helps you find or form local groups of all kinds. These are in-person groups and the topics include any reason under the sun that people want to meet in a group.

Finally, the Exciting News

My “Gutsy Story” about running away to the beach is being posted on a very popular and busy site Monday!

Every Monday, Sonia Marsh chooses and posts one story on her site Gutsy Living. At the end of each month people come to the site and vote for the best of the four stories. Sonia has some great writing- related sponsors who award a prize to the winner. She also spreads the news of each author, resulting in more visitors to the author’s web site and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

She has compiled a wonderful anthology of “gutsy” stories that I have been reading to write a review on. She also wrote a book about her incredible family’s “gutsy” story.  My hope is that you will go to the site here on Monday, read my story and vote at the end of the month. (For me, please)

Odds and Ends

I am doing more book reviews and WIP (work-in-progress) readings for writers I have met through The Write Place. One of them just finished a critique for one of my children’s story. As soon as I finish them, I will add the reviews to the review page here.

New serial posts from part of my memoir draft starting Monday morning.  I will post short pieces, in order, until the whole section is complete.

Again, thank you, peeps,

Patti


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Writer’s Journal with Updates on Memoir Page and Pic

Souvenirs from My Heart temp pic for cover

Souvenirs from My Heart temp pic for cover

I collected some of my hearts and souvenirs to make a display to photograph. I’m using it for a temp cover of the memoir series on a book site that I am building. I know, it is a little busy, but it is just temporary and, hopefully, gets the point across. What do you think, does this pic say, “Souvenirs from My Heart” ?  Just don’t ask me to take off the blue bracelet (my late sister’s) or the…well, you get the idea that this was a very tearful task. And I do have a larger corner shelf I’m going to move the things onto.

Thanks to a comment from malikoma, I’ve mastered one of the many skills on my to-do list. If you would like to see all the memoir info in one place, go to this page (linking to other posts is my new skill) and it is all there.

I am working on a page for the children’s books, but until then, you can look that up in search or topics on my main page.

Up to 16,080 words at Camp N. Have made a template of book, from copyright page to contact end page, and plugging pieces in as I complete them. Not complete, like finish, but complete like ready for 1st edit. By the end of the month I hope to have it all together and ready for 1st edit. Just so you know, that will be a (put in your own expletive) miracle, but goals are good, right?

Here’s where I grovel for comments and ask everyone to click the “LIKE” button at the bottom of this post. I’m trying to get “them” to make a “LOVE” button and a “Nothing to Write Home About” button.

Take care, peeps,

Patti