On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for February, 2019

It’s a Small World | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 26, 2019:

Six degrees of separationBack in the early 90s, the idea of “six degrees of separation” was popular. The theory was that any two people are only six or less social connections away from each other. In other words, if you began a “friend of a friend” chain, any two people can find a connection within six steps. This concept was developed in 1929, but it didn’t grab the attention of the public until a play by that name opened in 1990 followed by a movie in 1993.

“The Kevin Bacon Effect” was a spin-off of the six degrees phenomenon, and it led to a book in 1996 and a trivia game sometime later. I believe the idea was that everyone in Hollywood had either worked with Kevin Bacon or knew someone who had, thus proving that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe. All of this is a long-winded way of saying “it’s a small world,” and if you will bear with me, I will attempt to tell you my recent small-world tale in as few words as possible. (more…)

What was Alzheimer’s to our family? | by Linda Brendle

new-book-coming-soonI announced a couple of weeks ago that Anaiah Press will release Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort, my second memoir, on March 12. Here’s a little bit more about the book:

Alzheimer’s was the evil plaque in Dad’s brain that changed him from a hard-working, easy-going man into a cranky, ill-tempered couch potato.

Alzheimer’s was a thief. It stole Mom away a piece at a time and left me to grieve a loss that went on for years.

Alzheimer’s was a twisted comedian that made me laugh at the ridiculous things Mom did while I cried inside because of the reason behind her antics.

Alzheimer’s was the demon in my head that made me impatient with situations that were no one’s fault and angry at an opponent I couldn’t defeat.

Alzheimer’s was the monster in the closet or under the bed that changed our lives forever once the doctor spoke its name.

But Alzheimer’s was also the loser.

In spite of his difficult final years, Dad left a legacy of peace and love that lives on in the family he left behind.

While Mom’s past disappeared along with her memories, she also forgot the social anxieties and fears that had plagued her all her life and became a real party girl.

The wardrobe mishaps and other silly incidents often led to shared laughter and hugs that made life feel almost normal if only for a moment.

As the good days became fewer, I learned to cherish them when they came.

When Mom’s vocabulary was down to only a few words, one of those words was Jesus; and even to the end, she always responded to music.

Both Mom and Dad passed from this life without a struggle and with peaceful smiles on their faces as they looked into the face of the One who cares for the least of these.

I have found solace in knowing that my task of caregiving was completed not perfectly but well, and I have found comfort in sharing our story with others who are going through the same thing.

A beautiful cover is in the works. I will let you see it as soon as the final version is ready.

Blessings,

Linda

I Have News! | by Linda Brendle

Anaiah Press will release Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort, my second memoir, on March 12. Here’s a little bit about the book:

Mom’s good-bye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.

My first memoir, A Long and Winding Road, told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Good-Bye is the rest of the story.

Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final good-bye.

This book is for the millions who have experienced the heartache of witnessing the physical and mental deterioration of a loved family member or a dear friend. Mom’s Long Good-Bye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. By sharing her own struggles, the author assures other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.

The cover will be revealed soon. Watch for it!

Blessings,

Linda

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Beginnings and Endings by Linda Brendle

Check out my Valentine post on Anaiah Press’s blog. It features excerpts from my two memoirs, the one that was released in 2014 and the new one that will be released soon. The post is about the beginning and ending of Mom and Dad’s romance that lasted over seven decades.

Anaiah Press

Mom and Dad had been married for seventy years when he passed away on May 13, 2011. In honor of this season of love, I’d like to share excerpts from my two memoirs. The first selection is about the beginning of their love affair. It is from A Long and Winding Road: A Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos which was first published by Anaiah Press in 2014. The second excerpt is about their last days together and is from Mom’s Long Good-Bye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort which will be released by Anaiah shortly.

A Long and Winding Road by Linda Brendle
A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos

Mom and Dad met when they were 17 years old. They lived on adjoining farms in West Texas, went to the same church, went to the same school, and travelled in the same social circles. I love the story…

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Kitty’s Back | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 12, 2019:

Cats acting strangeKitty has been in a strange mood for the last several weeks. I know you’re thinking How could you tell? – and that’s a valid question. Let’s just say her behavior has been a different kind of strange.

I’m not sure what put her into her latest tail spin, but I have a couple of ideas. A week or so ago, we were getting ready for bed, and I heard an unfamiliar noise coming from the kitchen.

“That sounded like Kitty jumping on top of the cabinets,” I said to David. He agreed, so I went to the kitchen to investigate. Sure enough, there she was, staring down at me from the cabinet above the refrigerator. I retrieved the squirt bottle and proceeded to try and convince her of the error of her ways. By the time she made it back to the floor, she was pretty wet, and I didn’t see much of her for the next few days. (more…)

Keith Wills – Treasure Hunter | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 5, 2019

Keith WillsLast week I mentioned David’s rekindled interest in treasure hunting and our encounter with treasure hunter Keith Wills in Gilmer. I contacted Keith, and he was excited about my sharing some of his stories – and he has lots of stories to share.

Keith has been a treasure hunter for over fifty years. His interest in the hobby that has become a way of life for him began when he was a Boy Scout of thirteen. He was interested in earning an extra merit badge, and he had always wanted a coin collection. When he found a badge that required three collections of some sort, he saw a way to kill two birds with one stone. He already had a collection of business cards and another of matchbooks, but when he approached his parents about buying a coin collection for him, they had other ideas. As parents often do, they thought he would appreciate the collection more if he earned the money to buy it.

For the next three weeks, Keith mowed lawns for the neighbors, and when he had earned what he thought would be enough, he went to the coin shop. He soon realized that $25 wouldn’t buy much of a collection, and he went home discouraged. His dad was apparently a man who thought outside the box though. One day on the way home from work he stopped at a garage sale and used Keith’s earnings to buy an old metal detector. Keith was less than enthusiastic when his dad handed him what looked like part of an old vacuum cleaner. But when he was told he could use it to find coins, he got busy. He soon learned how the detector worked, collected coins and that merit badge, and set a course that would carry him through the rest of his life.

During the next fifty-plus years Keith has searched for treasure not only in the United States but also in Canada and Mexico. He has hunted in historical sites for relics and on the beach for lost jewelry, for gold and silver in the mountains, and for treasures on shipwrecks off the Florida coast. In 1982, treasure hunting became a vocation as well as an avocation, and Keith opened East Texas Metal Detectors and Repair in Gilmer, Texas.

When asked about the most interesting treasure he has found, he tells about the nine-pound meteorite he found outside Azle when he was eighteen. He sent it to various institutions for analysis, but when he sent it to the Smithsonian, he had to fight to get it back. He found out that it contains two as yet unclassified elements, and it is considered to be one of the twenty rarest privately owned meteorites ever found.

He has found many class rings and has returned around forty of them. He has three favorite ring stories that he has named The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. They are very entertaining, but I won’t try to relate them, because I couldn’t tell them nearly as well as he does.

 

An article in the Jacksonville Progress published on October 5, 2006 quoted Keith as saying he has “done just what I started out to do as a young Scout, I now have a very large collection, but not just of coins, also lost jewelry, relics, gold nuggets and more.” When David and I walked into East Texas Metal Detectors, we saw an amazing array of a very small percentage of his collection – countless rings and other jewelry, coins, nuggets of various ores, tools, and two bugles to name a few. We thoroughly enjoyed looking through the displays and also getting to know the man who was recognized by Life Magazine as one of the nation’s top treasure hunters in March, 2006.

In addition to Keith’s discoveries, East Texas Metal Detectors offers a small selection of metal detectors and accessories as well as equipment for gold panning and other types of treasure hunting. The shop is located in a small building behind the Wills’ home at 1495 FM 49 in Gilmer. The phone number is 903-734-7773.

To see even more treasures and meet the hunters who found them, visit The Texas Treasure Show (sponsored by the Texas Association of Metal Detecting Clubs) in Carthage, Texas on April 26-28. It will be at the Carthage Civic Center at 1702 S. Abrams Street and is open to the public.

Blessings,

Linda

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