Wednesday, January 17, 2018

LAST RIGHTS


Seismic shift
As we age it's inevitable that our
priorities shift from raising kids,
to caring for our parents. There's
little in life odder than shifting
from being a subservient child to
masterful care provider. Suddenly
the one who once ruled the roost
becomes feeble, confused, and
vulnerable. Thus post a lifetime
of submission we're in control.
Meaning we're in the drivers seat
holding all of the cash, insurance
cards, keys, and responsibility.

Home alone
My parents lived life as always
well into their eighties. Even as
my father advanced in his battle
against Alzheimer's, Mother was
resolved to act as if nothing was
happening. Together they hit the
road (Ethel refused to fly) to visit
their familiar haunts and friends.
All as Mother painted, puttered,
and pushed everyone around. Yet
their world slowly contracted as
Howard's disease eradicated all
traces of the man he once was.
Speed dial
Then suddenly, the phone rang and
I was in charge. It was that abrupt,
final, and complete. The fragility of
old age means the elderly live on the
brink of seismic change while lulled
into a false sense of security. Then
illness, money, or a fall changes all.
After that call it was clear that my
parents could no longer live solo
nor make decisions about "next".
Family plan
Over the following years I moved
my parents into several facilities.
Curating the remnants of their life
into a pseudo simulation of home.
First assisted living. Then we had
to place Dad in the memory ward.
Mother slowly faded into a shadow
of her former self. It's sad that our
best solution is consigning old folks
to a geriatric dormitory. Thus after
a lifetime of independence, they've
no choice but to live in what is at
best an antiseptic commune.
Waiting room
In the end Ethel had one thing that
kept her going, caring for Howard.
Rather than sit in her posh Assisted
Living apartment, she sat with Dad
all day long. Rather than dine on a
white tablecloth, she spoon fed him
hospital food in the Alzheimer's
wing. Rather than allow Dad to be
forgotten, Mother valiantly (and
vociferously) fought to get him the
best care possible. After all, he had
pampered and cared for her most of
her adulthood. Now it was his turn.
Phantom pain
As quickly as my life changed with
that one call, the mania suddenly
just ended. Howard finally left us
after an eighteen year battle with
Alzheimer's. Ten months later, so
did Ethel. With her beloved gone,
she had no reason to live. In the
end I was left behind with a void
I had no idea would be so huge.
One assumes parents will always
be with us. And yet even after
they're gone, their memory is still
with us... like an amputated limb.
The final plan
I worry about what could happen to
two elderly gay gents way out in rural
Montana. Our home is set up to host
the accouterments of advanced age.
We even have a basement apartment
that can host any caregivers. The last
thing we want is to be a burden to
others.And so we're doing whatever
possible to grow old gracefully. NOT
in a home, but rather AT HOME.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT



Forget about it
They call it the long goodbye. After
eighteen years following a diagnosis
of Alzheimers my Father faded away.
Given I'm adopted we share no DNA
thus the odds are in my favor that I'll
never "lose it." Yet as we all become
forgetful with age most worry that it
could happen to us. Scientists have
been working on treatments to help
us avoid losing our minds. Recently
Rush University Medical Center in
Chicago announced a diet proven
to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.
Food for thought
Like most healthy regimens - the MIND
diet is mostly about common sense. Oh,
and yes... avoiding all things white. The
idea of eliminating everything I prefer
from my daily intake makes this bon
vivant more than uncomfortable. Yet the
fact is that living within the new MIND
dietary guidelines shouldn't be that hard
for most of us. As I went down the list
I said - "I can do this". Given it's proven
to lower one's chance of "going nuts"
by at least thirty five percent - lets take
a deeper dive into the MIND DIET.
A case of the blues
Apparently berries - more specifically
blueberries are extremely beneficial
in battling the onset of forgetfulness.
In my opinion that's a gift from God
given those cerulean orbs are one of
the few fruits I actually enjoy eating
fresh. Especially when drowned in
heavy cream with a dusting of sugar.
Otherwise I prefer my fruit in a pie,
tart, or Jolly Rancher. I'm planning
to stock the fridge with plenty of
blueberries. Hmmm... do you think
a bowl of Booberries cereal counts?
Leaf it to me
Those who consume two servings
daily of green, leafy vegetables
experience a dramatic decrease in
their cognitive decline rate. While
my father's favorite veggie was kale
we rarely dined on anything leafy.
Anything started green somehow
ended up enshrouded in a cream
sauce after being cooked for hours.
Fortunately Frank and can't keep
our hands off the green stuff. The
bitterer the better! Sticking to this
diet might be easier that I thought!
If you peas...
I'm willing to do whatever it takes
avoid becoming a vegetable. The
MIND diet suggests devouring
mucho veggies daily. Happily
Frank and I are just like a pair of
rabid rabbits. We can't get enough
of the garden varieties! Nightly
after a massive salad - two thirds
of our plates are filled the fruit of
the earth. But I have one quandry,
are potatoes mashed with liberal
doses of butter and heavy cream
still considered "vegetables"?!
Total nut job
Most gay men can't get enough nuts.
Shelled and roasted varieties that is.
As a boy some of my favorite things
was to go to the local drugstore and
purchase a bag of warm cashews.
While in reality they were heated by
a standard lightbulb, somehow they
seemed decadent. Most of the time
we prefer to mix it up and hence a
bowl of mixed nuts sits proudly on
our coffee table. Hopefully peanut
butter counts especially when it's
topped with blueberry preserves!
Bean there, done that
Ethel rarely served legumes. So it's
no wonder that Howard lost it. You
see, the MIND diet found that beans
are a key to battling Alzheimers. If
she ever did, they were of the baked
Boston variety. Somehow I find it
doubtful that anything doused with
brown sugar and molasses will clear
one's mind but I'm going with this!
At our house we dine on beans be
it in chili, stewed with a ham bone,
or pureed into hummus. Contrary
to rumor, the air is still clear here.
Taking a bite out of life
Sadly it seems that in order to save
my memory I must forget all about
white bread. Per the MIND diet, if
it's whole grain it's good for your
brain. While we both love our share
of the rough stuff, I've been known
to stuff my mouth full of something
sweet. Hence my challenge will be
finding a whole grain substitute for
buttery pound cake. Why must one
give up all the joy just to maintain
one's sanity? I'm starting to think
that this MIND diet really sucks...
Over a barrel
The final key component in the MIND
diet is downing a glass of red wine on
a daily basis. While the experts at Rush
Medical Center won't get any argument
from me on this point - I do have one
question. In theory - the more you eat
of the good stuff on the MIND dietary
guidelines, the higher your chance of
avoiding Alzheimers. Hence can I also
assume that my current daily minimum
dosage of a bottle of Cote de Rhone
also dramatically ups my chances?
Now... what were we talking about?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Parting is such sweet sorrow...


I hate goodbyes
Which is why I prefer hellos. There
is little more fun than discovering a
new friend. EXCEPT reconnecting
with an old one after eons apart. The
energy one gets from  a reunion is
much more positive than the regret
one feels as they part ways. Hence
today we stealthily exit Manhattan
rather than say goodbye. Running
away is best for all of us. However
if history repeats itself, we could be
back before  you know it! Trust me,
stranger things have happened!!

Miss Otis regrets
Leaving town is no indication that
I'm ready nor able to part with the
ones who we cherish most. Nor
willing to assume you still won't
be part of my life go-forward. We
may not dine as frequently but we
can chat 24/7/365 via text or even
e-mail. We just couldn't bear the
idea of spending our last days on
the isle of Manhattan at our wake.
Therefore instead we packed up
our things and simply went home.
Which is exactly where we belong!

Sorry wrong number 
Anybody who knows me is fully
aware that the telephone is not
my preferred communication
mode. So let's make this clear.
You know I love to chat. It's even
been confirmed that occasionally
I might communicate too much.
That said my preferred chat room
is face-to-face not via some wire.
Several of you have suggested I
consider Skype or FaceTime. But
why risk over exposure meeting
in one's pajamas sans makeup?!
Write or wrong
Given I've no issue with blabbing
endlessly as I blog, my preference
is the written word. So please feel
free to drop me a line via snail mail,
e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, or text.
That's the only way I can guarantee
a speedy response. Or leave a voice
mail and I'll call you back next year!
I love to staccato repartee of virtual
chat. Somehow I seem funnier and
wiser via typed versus uttered quips.
So please keep all of those cards and
letters coming! WE'LL MISS YOU!
Pit stop
Obviously I can't invite all to stay
at our Montana home. And given
E. Braun is no longer nearby, just
replacing worn linens will be quite
the challenge. Thus our guest rooms
must be reserved for our nearest or
dearest. However if you're in the
neighborhood, stop by for a drink.
Then we'll take you to dinner. We
adore all of you. Therefore even in
Lewistown Montana - nothing gives
us more pleasure than saying hello!
God be with you till we meet again!




Sunday, January 14, 2018

7th Day Surprise: See N' Ski


Totally cool...

Spurts of global warming side, winter is upon us.
Hence like it or not we all must battle the elements.
Rather than hide inside,
why not have fun in the winter sun?

Whether a winter stroll,
skate across the pond,
sleigh ride,
or skiing the slopes -
CHILL OUT!