On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for May, 2021

Connections | by Linda Brendle

Connections | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 25, 2021:

Writing is all about communication – about sharing thoughts and ideas through the written word – and about the connections that are made through that sharing. A writer often doesn’t know when those connections happen, but one of my favorite parts of writing is when a reader reaches out through a review, a comment on a blog or Facebook post, or an email to let me know about a connection.

An early connection happened when I was just beginning to be active on social media. Facebook groups had not yet popped up, at least not in the numbers that exist now, so I contributed occasional articles to several independent websites. One article was about my anger as a caregiver. I admitted lashing out in frustration and anger at my Mom when I first began caring for her only to realize later that my anger, and the underlying fear, were really about the Alzheimer’s that was taking her away from me in a way I could neither understand nor control.

Shortly after the article went live, I received a comment from a young woman whose mother had suffered a fatal heart attack many years before when she was a teenager. The older daughter had driven them all to the hospital, and the teen was confused by her sister’s apparent anger at her mother. After the mother’s death, the sisters were not completely estranged, but they never talked about the situation, and their relationship had not been the same. After reading my article, the younger woman approached her sister, and they talked. After exploring their feelings and reactions on that night that had changed their lives so many years before, healing began and their relationship was restored. Although we exchanged a few more comments, we didn’t strike up a friendship. Still, those written words established a point of connection based our similar experiences.

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Rescue is a noisy business | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 18, 2021:

From a different event, but the one from the Expo had my thumb in it!

East Tawakoni held their first Arts & Crafts Expo on Saturday, and I was one of about fifteen vendors. Since there were no assigned spaces, I planned to get there well before the 9:00 am opening to get a prime spot. Apparently, I didn’t plan well enough, because I was almost the last one to arrive.

I parked and scouted the area before unloading. There were two rows of spaces facing each other, and when I saw an open one between two vendors, I asked if the spot was available. I was told no, that I needed to go to the end of the row. I sighed and trudged back to my car, not looking forward to the long walk carrying my table. It’s not heavy, but it’s awkward. It folds in the middle and has a carry handle, but when you’re height challenged you have to hold your arm in an uncomfortable position to keep from dragging the ground.

Then I noticed that other vendors had parked behind their booths. Even if I had to move my car after set-up, the ease of unloading would be worth it. The table went up easily, and while I was putting the finishing touches on my display, I looked around to see who my neighbors were. To my right was Sadie’s Place Animal Rescue with two beautiful, well-behaved rescue dogs, and directly across from me was My Favorite Day Dog Rescue with several cages of small dogs and a pen full of raucous black puppies. To top it off, a Kona Ice truck pulled in and parked to my left across the walkway so it could be seen from the front. I knew then that I had landed a prime spot after all. Everyone in attendance would be coming in our direction to ooh and aah over the puppies or to get a cool treat – or both.

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Baby or mass of cells | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 11, 2021:

Mother’s Day weekend was extra special to me this year. Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the day I first felt my baby move. I was four months pregnant and had been waiting for that faint butterfly feeling I had heard other expectant mothers describe. But my son has always been different, even in utero. The first movement I felt was a definite rhythmic tapping, and that tapping continued off and on throughout the next five months. My doctor smiled when I described the feeling and said, “It’s probably hiccups.” He was right – Christian continued to have hiccups regularly for his first several months.

At that time, ultrasounds were not performed unless there was a problem, so I didn’t “see” my son until he made his public appearance, but I saw his shape many times. I had always enjoyed a warm, relaxing soak in the tub, and as the pregnancy progressed, the bath became an important source of relief for my aching back. He seemed to enjoy it, too, because as I lay back in the water, he would stretch like a cat getting up from a nap. During delivery I learned that he was “sunny side up,” or facing front instead of back, so as he stretched I often saw the shape of a little foot or fist move across the surface of my swollen belly.

Christian’s birth was difficult and required a last-minute C-section, so I didn’t see him until the nurse brought him to my room a few hours later. She held up that little bundle that had startling blue eyes and blond hair that stuck up as if he’d stuck his finger in an electric outlet, and I said, “Well, hello there.” When I spoke, his eyes lit up with recognition. For the next several weeks, before he learned to differentiate faces, his unfocused eyes would search for me if I wasn’t holding him, following the sound of the voice he had listened to for nine months.

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Mother’s Day – It’s Complicated | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 4, 2021:

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, and as I thought about what to write, I wanted to write a tribute to my mother. I’ve already written a lot about her – she’s the main topic of both my Alzheimer’s caregiving memoirs. But as I looked through years of blog posts and articles, I couldn’t find a tribute paying homage specifically to her as the woman who gave me life and played a huge part in molding me into who I am today. I found one I wrote about Daddy and several I’ve written about friends, but no single tribute article for her.

With that in mind, I gave a lot of thought about how to begin her article, but I ran into one mental or emotional road block after another. Maybe I’ve said everything I have to say about her, or maybe the things that haven’t been said are too personal to share – or maybe it’s just complicated. Whatever the reason, I finally gave up the idea and decided to share a chapter from my second memoir. The chapter is titled Southridge Village’s Tribute to Mom.

After Mom died, we received a lot of sweet, heartfelt expressions of sympathy. There were emails, notes on Facebook, cards, phone calls, and personal words of support. All of them meant so much and helped us deal with the grief, but none of them meant any more to me than the one we received from Southridge Village.

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