Great Words from a Favorite Author on Reading Aloud

Reading is perhaps my greatest joy. It has been my delight since I managed to to crack the rosetta stone of the alphabet.

But long before there was reading, there was being read to. Our parents read aloud to us, often the group of us for years. We gallumphed through Winnie the Pooh and wept through “The Yearling” and “Ol Yeller.”

And they schooled us in reading aloud as well. And we all read. And we all read.

Barbara Kingsolver is a favorite. An old beau and I once read “High Tide in Tucson to one another. Steve and I read to one another (and push poetry at each other). It’s a wonderfully intimate and comforting thing. In fact. Steve and I like it so much we’re working on reading children’s story with voice and drum.

My parents aged and stopped being able to read. Dad couldn’t see it. So i started reading. I chucked the mysteries for other things. We spent many months slowly working our way through “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” The day he died we were giggling about reading “Jesus for the Non-Religious” in a very religious setting.

Mom doesn’t necessarily comprehend it. But Winne the Pooh is an old friend with whom we visit from time to time.

Tip: So go read Verlyn Klingenborg’s essay in the NYTimes. and then turn off the tv, find a favorite book and read it to some friends.

Mom: Doing what we love to do together

My Mom, Betty Evans, was a painter before macular degeneration and alzheimers’ robbed her of her sight and her ability to translate her visions onto canvas. I miss her painting. Sometimes I find her moving her hand purposefully through the air, imaginary paintbrush in her hand. What, I wonder, is she painting? It would be amazing to know.

Most days what we do is eat together. Today, we’ll do that too. This will be a big day over at the home. It’s one of two or three days a year when everyone floods in to see their moms. Allergans run high as everyone totes in flowers.

My family never did a lot about holidays. Most went by fairly unremarked. There were presents at Christmas, but a fairly modest amount. Cards for birthdays, and that pretty much took care of it. And so today, I’ll be known as the daughter who doesn’t show up with flowers.

But I’ll show up. Twice. Once to feed her lunch and once to feed her dinner. Or is it dinner and supper? I still can’t remember. And she and I will smile and giggle. I’m incredibly lucky. Over at my house, every day is mother’s day. And I’d better take advantage. Because pretty soon in the not-to-distant future, no day will be.

So do something today with your mom(s). Lots of women have mothered you through the years. Remember them and do something fun with them. And don’t rule out doing something fun with them at some other point. That’s all they want. Flowers are nice. Time? It’s priceless and limited.

Living at Peace with Alzheimer’s at home vigil

You need

  1. Some quiet time, maybe some quiet music, maybe just quiet.
  2. A Candle

Consider

  • There are over 5,000,000 Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death.
  • Every 71 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • 3 in 10 Baby Boomers will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

When you are ready. Read this poem aloud, say the name of your beloved, or simply say, “People affected by Alzheimer’s and their caretakers.” Then light the candle and sit in reflection. Thank you for joining us.

Alzheimer’s Memories
By Ann Keeler Evans©2009

Where do they go, those memories?
As they slowly slip away.
Do they flee to some alien parallel universe
Along with those socks we lose in the wash?

Who knew that memories
Such tiny, elusive things
Could leave such huge and painful gashes
In the minds and psyches of those that lose them.
And are they ever really gone —
Or do they simply play their own nasty version of hide and seek
With the brains of those who cherished each particular past,
Robbing people of the certainty of their competence
Flirting cruelly with the here and the now.

How long does it take for those who love the memory losers
To notice?
How long before “what’s the matter with you?”
Turns to suspicion, then disbelief
Then to dazed horror.
Who accepts first?
Where do you turn for help?
Who has help to offer
When your brain is slowly being ravaged
By an element
We have been told is crucial to our well-being?

How do we cope?
Every instinct is to cover up, deny, repudiate.
But this is a relentless disease with no mercy.
Sooner or later we must all make our peace.
How else will we find those moments of unquenchable joy?
Those simple pleasures,
Those treasured smiles filled with tenderness and love?

For so many of us, our trust and respite is in the kindness
Of the mostly women and few men who carefully tend our loved ones.
The sweet dailiness of so many lives rests in your hands.
You deliver their meds and their daily quotient of hugs and kisses.
You catch their smiles, wipe their tears,
And then your own, as the lives of these gallant, funny, fascinating patients
Wind down, wink out, disappear.
You keep your hands and hearts open
So that the old ones can depart
And the new ones can make their homes in your embraces
And your daily routines.

For as long as I can, my dearest one,
I will remember with you and for you
And I will hope, and pray, that someone will be there
To remember for me.
Let us remember together.

As you light your candle, please name your loved one.

Living in Peace With Alzheimer’s

Living in Peace with Alzheimer’s
A quiet candlelight vigil
For Caretakers and People affected by Alzheimer’s
Monday, March 23, 2009  –  7:30 – 8:30 pm
King Street Park
Northumberland, PA 17857

This event is being held the same day as a massive candlelight vigil for the eradication of Alzheimer’s on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Here at home we will gather in the darkness, lighting candles as beacons of hope and flames of commemoration.

•    To witness to the many people affected by Alzheimer’s.
•    To mourn the many changes affecting our loved ones and ourselves as the disease progresses.
•    To understand that we are not alone in our struggle, though it may be solitary and isolating.
•    In tribute to the courage of people living with Alzheimer’s and the shining moments of joy we share with them.
•    To remember the loved ones who have died.
•    To pray that the disease will someday be eradicated.
•    To gather our strength for the journey ahead.
•    To provide a peaceful moment to stand with others who understand.

Please join us. Candles will be provided. Please bring a chair if you would prefer to sit.

Presented by: Peaceful Measures & Rosancrans Consulting
Ann Keeler Evans, M.Div.
Victoria J. Rosancrans, LPN, CDP
Steve Mitchell, Master Drummer