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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Today would have been my mom and dad’s 66th wedding anniversary. Two years ago, when I mentioned the date, Mom was surprised when I said they would have been married 64 years. Last year and this year the date went by without me mentioning it, and without her realizing it. Dates and phone numbers seem to stick in my head. We always celebrated their anniversary at Thanksgiving every year. There won’t be any celebration this year, but I can at least remember for her.



This picture is a wood burning of my mom and dad’s wedding picture. When my daughter, Stacey, was in the Army stationed in Korea, she had it made for Mom and sent it to her for Christmas. Ever since, it's hung over the mantle of the fireplace my dad built in Mom's living room.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Since Thanksgiving I’m finding myself reminiscing more than I’d like to. I treasured the holidays when family used to gather together and I miss those times terribly. It seems since Dad died this family fell apart. Without Dad around, this family hasn’t been any fun and since Mom has had Alzheimer’s there’s no ‘family’ at all. Not in the real sense of the word anyway.

Family used to talk to each other and invite each other to their homes. That hasn’t happened, at least for me, since my dad died. I guess when Dad died, in the eyes of my brothers and nieces and nephew, I died too. No one had to bother with me, unless my mom pitched a fit because I was left out. It got to the point that I told her not to bother because I felt if they 'had to be told' to invite me, they didn't want me around. They made that perfectly clear over the years. The only person who seemed to care what was going on in my life was my mother (other than my daughters, Angel and Stacey, and my Uncle Joe). That used to bother me, a lot. But things have changed. Now...I couldn't care less.

Two years ago, I tried to plan a special Christmas for Mom. I invited both my brothers and told them to pass the invitation to all their family members to come home for Christmas. No one came except my daughters, their families, and Two Feather. Not even a call to say they weren't coming. All I got from the rest of the ‘so-called family’ was excuses, a hard time, and ridicule. For all intents and purposes, that is the last Christmas Mom remembers. That is, if you want to call a lot of prodding and picture showing to bring that memory back, remembering.

Normally, I put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. It’s still neatly tucked away in the box in which it was packed in 2005 and is sitting in my mom’s basement. I’ll probably have Two Feather take my tree back to my house in the next week or so and have him toss it in the basement to be stored with all the other decorations I doubt I’ll bother with this year. I still haven’t pulled out Mom’s little tree that we used last year. Why bother. I used to love this time of year; now it’s just another day that will go by without Mom ‘really’ knowing what day it is.

Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. It is taking Mom piece by piece and it is ripping me apart.

As much as I said I had so much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, I’d just as soon pass on holidays from now on. I hate Alzheimer’s! I hate what it’s doing to my mom. And I hate what it’s doing to me.

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10 Comments:

Blogger Jo said...

What a poignant, touching post my friend! The wood burned portrait is truly beautiful and I'm sure your parents were exceptional people. Keep on writing!
Cheers!
- Jo
http://followtheroadlesstraveled.blogspot.com

11/27/2007 8:03 PM  
Blogger cornbread hell said...

please don't let those mother %#&&@*'$ suck the life out of you, joanne.

with love, rick

11/27/2007 8:19 PM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

I second Rick's sentiments.

Family is a funny thing, Joanne. My family has changed drastically over the last few years - to the point I had a hard time knowing how many potatoes to cook on Thanksgiving.

I don't put a lot of stock in "family" in the traditional sense. Instead, my family are foreign exchange students I have hosted throughout the years, a young lady whose father chose money over her, a bunch of lonely Marines floating in the Persian Gulf this year, and my fellow AD caregivers - 'specially the bloggers.

Family, to me, are those who support and love each other. Blood? Not important...at least to me.

Drag that tree out, Joanne. You never know when this will be someone's last Christmas. I'm glad I forced myself to decorate last year. My mom always loved Christmas.

(((hugs)))

11/28/2007 12:19 AM  
Blogger ~Betsy said...

Of course my husband and kids are included in the family definition, but I think you understand what I'm trying to say. :)

11/28/2007 12:22 AM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

I love the wood burned picture. What a great idea. I understand how you feel about decorating. I won't be doing it this year and didn't do it last year either. I am fortunate to have 3 wonderful nieces but frankly my brother and sister can go jump in a lake. you all are my family now.

11/28/2007 3:30 AM  
Blogger nancy said...

i have so many conflicting memories about the decorating of christmas this year. some days i want to get it all out but most days i don't. i will probably do some to most of it for my boys and because it was my mom's favorite holiday.

the picture is so beautiful.

thanks for sharing.

11/28/2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger flintysooner said...

I have noticed how common it is that the family matriarch or patriarch dies and how the family changes. Perhaps it is inevitable. Surely it is one of the things we grieve.

I was always conflicted about family coming when I was caregiving. I so wanted them to come and I so much enjoyed them being there. But then they left and the feelings of sadness and isolation and confinement and loss were nearly overwhelming to me.

I know some of the ones who came told me they felt much the same emotions but in different ways.

Things changed a bit for me when Judy came along. She bought me a little ceramic Christmas tree and we put that up at dad's house. We have it up here now.

This year though Christmas celebrating is just too much for me to do. But I think next year I will be more Christmasy.

11/28/2007 5:16 PM  
Blogger steph7 said...

Thank you for sharing your tender heart. This will be my first Christmas without my mom. With mom having this dreadful disease, I have not had a joyous Christmas in a long time. My mom did not understand Christmas anymore, but for her sake I would find enough strength to decorate a tree. We would sit in the dark and just watch the twinkling lights. She loved all the colors. Even though your mom does not know what day it is, you know what day it is. It is a day that you & mom have Christmas together. Your mom may enjoy the colors too. I wish you strength and peace.

Stephanie

11/28/2007 9:12 PM  
Blogger Cinnamin said...

Joanne, I hear you loud and clear and completely sympathize with you! I hate this disease too! If we all hate it hard enough, do you think we can make it go away??

Can I third Rick's suggestion?!?

11/29/2007 12:53 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Welcome, Jo. I'm glad you enjoyed my post. Happy writing to you as well.

Rick, they've already sucked out what their going to get. As sad as it sounds, there's nothing left of me for them.

Betsy, I understand perfectly. Family to me is also those who support and love each other. Our blogging family is becoming bigger by the day.

Lori, you're very fortunate to have 3 wonderful nieces. And I know they're fortunate to have you.

Nancy, I totally understand decorating for the sake of others. I've done that and probably will do it again this year for the sake of my mom, daughters and grandchildren.

Terry, sounds like the ceramic tree is all you need this year. We have one of those too. Haven't decided what tree I'll use this year.

Steph7, Welcome and glad you enjoyed the post. Mom does enjoy the lights and colors. That's what fascinated her so much in 2005 when I set up my tree at her house. She constantly said how beautiful it was.

Cinn, I wish hating the disease would make it go away. Unfortunately, if that were all it took, there would be no such thing as Alzheimer's. I'm sure those before us hated it just as much as we do.

11/30/2007 8:33 AM