Dear Parents who sent their youngest (or only) child off to college!

September 19th, 2016

Although it’s commonplace for millions of parents to send their kids off to college each fall, the departure is anything but typical. In fact, sending one’s child away to school is, on so many levels, profound, especially when it’s the youngest child to leave the nest.

In my case, since I went through this process last year with my older son, it would appear I’d be better prepared than most moms. In some ways I was, mainly in knowing what items he’d need for the transition and having a semblance of understanding that this goodbye would be hard. Still, as each child is unique, so is their college journey and a mom’s response to it. 

As with any event– from my older son’s birth and beyond–I planned ahead, especially with mourning his college departure. Weeks before, after everyone went to bed, I strolled down memory lane. I cried mountains of tears so that when I finally hugged him goodbye, I was so emotionally exhausted, only a few lingering drops fell. I admit to some waterworks relapses on the drive home and days, then months, after. 

I was consoled having my younger son in high school, still at home. I felt the same comfort after my older son started kindergarten while my younger son remained at home. Then, once both transitioned into kindergarten– and then middle and high school–I felt the impact. I was more emotional and reflective of the sonic pace of time and how quickly my boys were becoming men.

As the finality of summer came, instead of draining myself emotionally in contemplation of what was to come, as I had with my older son, I redirected my thoughts  to something or someone else each time my son’s departure came into mind. Once we were packed and on the road, I reached my arm out to him from the passenger side of the car. He grabbed my hand and I shared some of my feelings of the love and joy I’ve experienced as his mom and my confidence he was going to do amazing at school and change the world for the better! Of course, a few wayward tears streamed down my face, tears I quickly brushed away. 

Although I tried to keep busy, my thoughts wandered. My home became eerily QUIET with noise of yesteryears. In order to focus, I decided to put my “to do list” together for work and home. Since my boys are voracious eaters, I often go food shopping several times a week, after my work appointments–at whichever supermarket is nearby.

This time, I stood frozen in the Stop & Shop entryway, mentally reviewing some shopping adjustments I had to make. “Remember,” I reminded myself, “No more family size packages of meat, no jumbo bags of snacks, no gallons of milk and no need to buy anything in bulk.”

As I continued into the next isle, I keeled over when I saw the familiar, flaming red box of “Cheez-It Hot & Spicy, crackers” one of my son’s favorite snacks. I wasn’t expecting to stand there crushed like the empty “Cheez-It” boxes my son tried to hide beside his bed, as he often didn’t follow the house rule of “no eating in your bedroom.” 

Sobbing, I leaned into the row of boxes shielding my face from onlookers passing by, often moms with kids in their carts.

“Mommy, MOMMY, can I have a treat…..PLEASE…” I heard one little boy plead. 

I thought, “Wasn’t it just yesterday that my boys were that little in MY shopping cart, asking for all different snacks as I rushed to redirect them down the aisle? 

I took a few deep breathes and gathered my composure before grabbing my keepsake box of “Cheez-Its” and redirecting myself towards the check-out. Once I got into my car, I had a good cry. I realized I have to face many changes now in the way I experience the world since my youngest child finished high school. 

There is a changing of the guards, so to speak, and  the beginning of a new era with guidelines I’ll have to become accustomed to including:

  1. A different way of food shopping and cooking, especially controlling my portion size. 
  1. Accepting the fact that the school bus will never be dropping anyone off at my home again.
  1. Helping our dog accept this each time she hears the bus doors open two blocks away, sits and waits–before dragging me down the street when it arrives on our block. I will continue to comfort her as she forlornly looks up at me– as if I ate her bone–when my boys are nowhere in sight when we race home.
  1. Accepting I no longer will be attending local events for MY kids including: Back to School Night, sporting events, band performances, and award dinners.
  1. Experiencing an overwhelming amount of emotion passing by or frequenting places my children used to go or accompany us to on a regular basis. It will feel strange, for example, going out to our favorite restaurants where the hostess asks, “How many will it be?” and I automatically say, “Four, no three, NO TWO.” In the same fashion, setting places for a table commonly seating your entire family, now will have empty spaces.
  1. Acknowledging we can no longer blame our kids for messes and lost items. This is especially true of my husband who thinks my kids are often the culprits. A few days ago, while my husband was engrossed in his work, I asked my husband if he saw one of my notebooks. With his eyes glued to his computer screen, he perfunctorily answered, “Maybe Natalia took it.” “Our dog!,” I retorted at the ridiculousness of such a statement. My husband gazed at me, recognized the absurdity of such a response and joined in the laughter.
  1. Accepting it’s hard to “let go.” The child, who just last year, had to raise his hand to use the men’s room or ask to leave the high school building, now must navigate life, manage his schedule, do laundry…advocate on his own behalf at the doctors and anywhere else where privacy laws dictate he now is an adult. Regardless, I still encourage both my boys to touch base with me anytime if they need advice or help in any way because I have their back more than anyone else in the world.
  1. Realizing it’s going to take time to get used to the QUIET NOISE of home. Even though my kids were sometimes hanging in their rooms, on their phones avoiding us, the moments of interaction will be missed.
  1. Helping our dog understand the boys aren’t home anymore as she walks into their rooms looking for them and barks when she thinks they are at the front door.
  1. Recognizing there will be more special moments and amazing times together, especially when they come home for breaks and holidays! It’s a transition that will be followed by yet another one once our boys move out, once they get married, once they have kids…..!

My older son asked, “What on earth are you and dad going to do now that both of us are in college.” My automatic response was, “We’re going to go to Disney.” 

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The older our kids get, the more childlike we tend to feel in reflecting upon the parenting journey! 

It’s important to remind ourselves, as our children grow and evolve at college, so should their moms! I’m going to soar with Buzz Lightyear, to ” infinity and beyond” into the next galaxy of life!

Of course, like birds, our kids will always come back to the nest we built called home!


MommyBEST Returns to WordPress. Please check out my 2nd blog where I’ve been posting

September 16th, 2016

Since we had so much spam, we had to rework the blog, including deleting many of the posts from last 5 years.

So we’ll try again here! As I said, I post the same material at my 2nd blog, so follow both:




La Famiglia: 100.7 WHUD THE KASEY Radio Show

August 26th, 2011

  Hope you all enjoy…there’s some famous people on here too!


Motherhood Later than Sooner– Interview

July 19th, 2011 

Here’s a sample question from our wonderful conversation:

Q: You chart an interesting course from professional woman to CEO of your house. Can you describe this change?
A: Moving up the homemaker ladder of success takes time as it took time to climb the corporate ladder. In exchange for a business plan, you’ll be following a different set of guidelines orchestrating your Life plan—preparing for your greatest investment ever: your child. During the first few months of staying at home with my son, I was in overdrive. I set tangible goals including reading several books daily to him, in order to feel as if I was accomplishing some measurable level of success, as I had at my job. Although others were urging me to rest when my baby slept, I continued to run on autopilot. I was programmed to perform on an efficiency schedule at work, so I transferred that mindset to my motherhood role, even trying to bake homemade cookies for my guests who visited. In contrast to my job, I felt completely scattered in my homemaker role at first. There was no job description, paycheck or accolades from my boss/coworkers; no power lunches or even coffee breaks. In fact, I didn’t even know when to eat lunch and had very little social interaction. It took me a long time to learn how to simply enjoy the time with my son and celebrate the many intangible moments of play and wonder.


Youtube: a book, a dog and a pillow.

July 5th, 2011


Journal News Interview at Link Below

June 23rd, 2011


Check out link below on a REAL NY HOUSEWIFE!

May 25th, 2011

Channel 12 News Interview for MommyBest–Please check out what I had to share about some of the 13 lessons I learned as a Mom…so far.


Happy Mother’s Day–See if your journey into motherhood was like mine, different or still yet to come!

May 6th, 2011

The Birth of a Mother: Each Woman’s Journey into Motherhood is Unique! Dedicated to all the moms around the world!!I’m sharing this first memoir from my book: MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons Derek & Dylan’s Mom (and maybe yours) Never Learned in School. Check it out @ B&N or Amazon

   Ever since I was a little girl, I had big dreams. I would spend hours each day listening to my radio imagining how all my dreams would come true.  As the music played, my heart raced as I saw myself traveling to faraway places, becoming famous and rich, and most importantly—emerging as an independent woman. 

      Sometimes, before bedtime, I would share my dreams with my mother who always listened with eager and excited ears.  All my dreams were a stark contrast to my Mom’s childhood dream of getting married and raising children.  I couldn’t understand, given all the opportunities I had, how my mother could derive such pleasure and fulfillment from motherhood. And, since I knew all about life, so I thought, I often advised my Mom to do “more” with hers,’ besides “just being a mother.”

     As I grew and went to school, I often watched my mother throughout the day.  With her eyes half-opened and what we would describe today as a really “bad hair day,” she would scurry in the morning to prepare breakfast for her five children, pack our lunches, find lost items we were distraught about and mediate our arguments, not to mention the house cleaning and chauffeuring she constantly did.  Mom repeated her mother’s dance of caring for everyone else’s needs throughout the day—two steps here, two steps there.  I was determined not to follow her lead, especially after she had to be hospitalized several times due to a medical condition, related to exhaustion. As a youngster, unable to fully understand my mom’s bouts of exhaustion, I struggled blaming myself and even her for the times she was absent when I needed her.

     So, each evening while I listened to my music, I orchestrated the course of my life—and becoming a Mom was not part of my score. Instead, I imagined traveling to faraway places while becoming a famous movie star or a powerful businesswoman.   

      I studied and practiced my entrepreneurial skills early on by charging my siblings a few cents for cooking such delicious breakfast meals as Mayonnaise sandwiches.  I often babysat for the younger children in the neighborhood who I loved to boss around.  Sometimes, I’d even help my brother deliver newspapers, especially on Sundays when I could browse through all the fashion magazines before shopping.  Often, the persuasive headlines lured me into reading many of the amazing stories.  The words, like music, stirred my emotions long after they were read and lingered like flavors savored after a delicious meal. I was compelled to add becoming a famous writer to my collection of dreams, a collection I examined, revised, admired and cherished in my mind each time I listened to the lyrics and rhythm of my favorite melodies.

     My entrepreneurial skills strengthened as I finished high school and went on to college, continuing to work after school and waitress some nights and weekends.  During my junior year, it was difficult to select a Major; I vacillated as to which career to pursue, and with so many choices, like items on a menu, I wanted to try them all. 
     Then, during my junior year, I saw an ad in the campus newspaper seeking Staff Reporters.  With nervous excitement, I applied and was given the opportunity to cover the events affecting campus life. Each story that I covered, like parts of my life, had different pieces to fit together.  I agonized for hours piecing my words together like a quilt. The first time I saw my name flashing above my words, I felt dizzy with a sense of accomplishment.  So when I listened to my music, I felt as if shots of adrenalin were traveling throughout my veins at the thought of becoming a Writer. 
     As time went on, a few professors persuaded me, given my enthusiasm to become “independent,” to seek a more financially rewarding career. I followed their advice and decided to pursue a career in Advertising.
     Still, I loved the attention my stories received from other students and faculty alike.  I also felt important interviewing and reporting on the school’s major social events, and especially enjoyed receiving recognition from my boyfriend of three years and his teammates at their soccer games.  Unfortunately, by my senior year, I knew that my boyfriend wanted a “traditional” wife instead of someone who wanted to explore her options, as I did.
       So, as many of my friends graduated college and moved out on their own pursuing their careers and/or marriage, I returned to my parent’s home—unable to find my coveted advertising job and not really sure which direction to turn. All my other siblings moved out of “the nest” and my Dad was still working full time plus extra hours.
      I began to spend time with my Mom, the one person I had really drifted apart from during my rebellious teenage years. At first, it was awkward connecting with her. We talked many nights about how I felt when, during my growing years, she had been sick several times and away from the family. It was painfully obvious that she was devastated recalling the times when she was recovering in the hospital. Now mature, I was finally able to better understand how exhausted my Mom was having five children—one right after the other, including twins. She did the best she could under some very stressful conditions. From our discussion and some tears, we were able to move to a deeper relationship. We started having late night talks again as we had when I was younger; but now it felt as if we were girlfriends sharing our secrets.  She became my cheerleader, always excited about what was going on in my life.
     After countless interviews and several “in-between” jobs, a lucrative advertising company hired me as a Sales Representative; Ecstatic about my opportunity, Mom shopped for days with me for a new wardrobe.   As she scavenged through all the racks of clothes, I reminisced about all our shopping trips we went on while I was growing up.  Each year before school started, Mom would take my sisters and I to the department stores to buy five new outfits, one for each day of the school week.  And she would buy us “only the best of shoes” because she didn’t want us to become “flat-footed.” 
     Yet, Mom rarely bought any clothes for herself or for my father, a New York City Firefighter who often worked 24-hour shifts, always graciously handing most of his earnings to Mom each week. As I watched him place money into her hand, I made a conscious decision to strive to become fiscally self-reliant. 
     Although my parents financially struggled, neither of them ever complained about their lack of material things, or for the amount of money they spent on us.  Sometimes, during the holiday season, my mother’s favorite time of the year, my parents would secure a bank loan so we could have a lot of the things that “they never had as kids.” Even though we were far from rich, friends who saw our clothes and bicycles, for example, thought we were.
     Once I started my new job, I began to feel like a kid again.  Mom would have dinner and her listening ears waiting when I got home.  She wanted to know all about my day: the people I met; the sales I made; and the places I visited.  I knew Mom was vicariously living some of my experiences; I enjoyed all the attention. When I had enough money to buy a place of my own, it was difficult to leave. 
     So, in preparation of my independence– and for a much needed break from working days and evenings, making sales quotas and meeting deadlines- I planned the European trip I dreamt of as a little girl watching movies of women traveling abroad, often discovering themselves and romance.
     Even though my Mom, like me, is petrified to fly, she offered to accompany me on my journey. I knew I had to go alone. I booked the trip as part of a tour group so I would have some direction and companionship. Days before my scheduled departure, I listened for hours to my favorite Italian songs, including “Three Coins in a Fountain” and “Volare.” Although I was advised to travel “light,’ I spent days before my trip shopping with my Mom.
     When the departure time came, I was petrified.  There was a lot of turbulence during the beginning of the flight, but the ride became calmer, as did I.
     It wasn’t long before I was standing in Saint Mark’s Square in Venice with pigeons adorning my head and shoulders.  When I sat down for a cup of cappuccino, I was part of a magnificent audience serenaded by string instruments.  As I listened to the music, my own heartstrings were strummed.  I remembered how I longed for this moment since I was a little girl listening to music and dreaming of traveling to faraway places – except now those places were near.
     As my soul soared, a waiter graciously placed a complimentary cup of cappuccino in front of me.  An admirer sitting nearby had ordered it.  I raised my head and looked for the wealthy European I dreamt of meeting.  A young man stood before me.  He was an American tourist who, ironically, thought I was European.  There were no romantic sparks, but I had met a friend. We shared some highlights from our trip with each other before I returned to my hotel to prepare for the scheduled gondolier ride with my tour group.
     Under the glow of the moon, the other tourists and I boarded the gondolier.  We were all relaxed sitting beside the glistening waters as we were serenaded. I felt vitalized and tranquil at the same time.  I also had the feeling someone was staring at me; it was the same feeling I had for much of the tour, but I was too busy to acknowledge it.  But this night, the watchful gaze—against the starlight and music—was recognized.  The azure eyes did belong to a European this time. Still, he wasn’t the rich man I dreamt about either.  The admirer was our tour bus driver. Even though he spoke only a few words of English, we spent the remainder of my stay together.  As the bus driver resided in Rome, he gave me a personal tour of all the sights, ending with the Trevi Fountain, which, ironically, was under construction, as I felt I had been. 
     I threw in many coins in and made many wishes—as well as expressions of gratitude for the experiences I shared with some wonderful people, especially the bus driver from Rome! Needless to say, weeks passed as if they were only days and my departure came. It was difficult boarding the plane, saying goodbye to my European adventure and my personal tour guide.
     Like a kid looking in a candy store window, Mom was waiting at the airport for me. Her eyes scoped the crowd at the arrival gate.  “Donna, Donna,” she screamed! “You’re glowing.”  I was aglow!  Weeks after my trip, coworkers continued to tell me that I looked different, and I felt different.
      Without realizing it, I was ready to journey within and see my life anew. Once I listened to my inner voice, the one that’s connected to my heart and guides me to joyful places, my life, like dominoes, began to fall into place. 
     Soon, I moved out of my childhood home and purchased a two-bedroom condominium.  My Mom and I were very emotional on moving day, but we both understood the closeness we established would always be near, even when we are apart.
     Filled with so much vitality and excitement, I pursued my career, working well into the evenings.  One night while working late, a new sales representative called the office for his messages.  I answered and we talked for over two hours. He asked if he could see the photos I had taken in Europe. I obliged.
     For our date, he arrived with a single white rose.  We went to a restaurant similar to the ones I had visited in Europe—filled with the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. The cozy, round tables were covered with paper clothes; each table had a container filled with crayons.  After several hours of conversation, accompanied by scrumptious food, we sipped our cappuccinos while viewing the photos.  My date asked me to use one of the crayons to make a list of the important qualities I want in a husband and he would do the same for a wife.  Amazingly, when we compared our lists, they were almost identical.
     With paper in hand, we went for a drive to a nearby park for a brisk walk.  I was given a piggyback ride through a beautifully wooded forest where a white-tailed deer leaped out in front of us just as my date kissed me.  Without speaking, we looked at each other knowing this deer was somehow symbolic, even magical.
     That evening when I listened to my music, I thought about the romance I sought on my European vacation, around the world.  Then, practically in my own backyard, I met the man of “my dreams.”  In contrast with my lavish trip, my date and I were in a park filled with greenery and the beauty of nature and its amazing creatures.  The clusters of trees, all leading to different paths seemed to hold many surprises and many hopes.
     One surprise was finding myself back at school pursuing a Masters Degree in Education.  Teaching, a profession women stereotypically work at, was not the occupation I dreamt about as a young businesswoman.  Yet, it was a profession that I now felt would allow me to contribute more to the world on behalf of children.  I soon learned my students often taught me lessons about life.  I was amazed by how intelligent and genuine they are.  They became my family with whom I shared much of my life with.
     When I accepted a marriage proposal from the man who kissed me in the park, my students were so happy, as was my mother.  My Mom understood I wasn’t like several of my friends who began planning for their weddings when they were teenagers. I never dreamt of getting married. And the men who I had thought I might possible wed one day, soon wanted me to change myself, in some way—whether it was to sacrifice my career aspirations or distance myself from my girlfriends. Now I met someone who loved me exactly as I am and supported my goals—whatever they were. Some call it kismet, others destiny?
     I soon learned why some women start early in life planning their weddings.  I discovered it was exciting yet exhausting planning for “the Big Day.” The entire event was surreal until I found myself walking down the aisle. As I moved forward I walked along a path, viewing as I would a movie, many of the important people in my life, including some of my students, to the altar where my husband-to-be waited for us to embark on our journey. 
     The following year, we decided to start a family and instantly everything just “fell into place:” My husband and I were having a baby! Unlike many of my previous business decisions I often contemplated, analyzing lots of information, I simply followed my instincts; it felt “right “.  The news prompted my students to plan a surprise shower for me.  I couldn’t believe (nor could my mother) I was going to be a Mom.  Since I was absolutely positive I would be having a girl, it was the biggest surprise of my life when I gave birth to a son.
     The instant I held him, I felt a bond like no other—a bond that reached into the depths of my soul, beyond expression, beyond comprehension.  I realized along with a baby, a mother had been born– a parent was in the making.
     As I looked into my son’s innocent eyes, I knew I had always been destined to become a mother, even though I hadn’t been ready to acknowledge this while I was achieving all the goals I was determined to accomplish.  I was too scared of losing my own identity and too busy proving I was someone “more” and something “else.”
      Although I had taken a different road than the one my mother followed toward motherhood, I realized we both arrived at our destinations on time– the time that was right for each of us.  We are two women, similar in some ways and different in others, somewhat products of the eras that we grew-up in, somewhat products of our unique personas. 
     Now, as I listen to my music, my heart soars as I dream dreams for my son:
 Who will he become?  What will he enjoy doing?  Which paths will he follow? How shall I guide him?  How will he guide me?
     As his mother, I am embarking upon an amazing journey-like no other journey I’ve been on– one toward true self-discovery!  I begin this journey with a deep love, gratitude and respect for one who has traveled through the precarious terrain and rough waters of motherhood before me, my own mother.  I understand her sacrifice and love –and now perceive her as a woman of greatness for all she has given to her children.
     I also recognize I am becoming more of an independent person by pursuing my dreams-as my son has helped me to find a new voice in my writing. I must bring to him the best person I can be first, and then I’ll be the best “Mommy” to him– when my choices reflect who I am at any given moment in my life.  No matter which direction my path turns, I am a mother.  I am Derek’s Mom—now and forever!

Moms and those who care about them: Bring this list for your annual physical. It helped me discover a health concern

April 16th, 2011

Sorry, on this post, WordPress decided to add its own additional s p a c e s….
     We all hear so much about the importance of women, moms in particular, putting their own health on the infamous “to do” list. The phrase, “you have to take care of yourself first,” has almost become cliché for us ladies who constantly hear this advice from doctors. But the simple truth is we often don’t; moms frequently ignore symptoms of ill-health, usually addressing them only when they impact their ability to care for others.
     Several years ago, I experienced constant and severe stomach bloating and pain–which occasionally still persists. To recount my experience with the many doctors and myriad of tests, along with conflicting diagnosis would not only bore you, but put me in a depressed state, which is not what this blog post it all about. It’s about empowering you and those you love to take charge, at least to some degree, of your own health.
     Still, I have to briefly share a little of my history in order to explain my current perspective of trusting your Mother’s Instinct in researching your own health–and understanding sometimes we have to wait for answers: When, after two years of  repeat endoscopies, ultra sounds and scans of all sorts, the doctors disagreed on whether the cause of my pain was a hiatel hernia they discovered, gastric polyps, Celiac disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (a common diagnosis when doctors don’t know what’s causing stomach upset), I became immobilized about how to get help for my pain. Nothing was working so I stopped seeing doctors for many months. I often couldn’t sleep because my stomach was in so much pain, not to mention my mind-wandering thoughts, wondering if I had an undetected fatal disease that would one day rear its ugly cells.
     In an effort to take charge of my health, I started seeing an acupuncturist. I felt more relaxed afterwards for sure, but I struggled with the placement of some of the needles as they were so uncomfortable. I went for eleven visits while also taking several herbal concoctions they created for me. Unfortunately, many of the herbs made my stomach even more upset. Although I do believe in the philosophy and merits of acupuncture, I stopped my treatments because they weren’t helping my stomach pain–and they were very expensive, not covered by my insurance.
     So began a lifestyle of trial and error in my avoidance of different foods, along with eating smaller meals. I started taking a probiotic, and after many more months, had more blood work taken which revealed I had untreated Lyme’s disease. Whether or not this caused my stomach upset is still undetermined. But, along with the dietary changes I’ve made, and the antibiotics to treat the Lyme, I have more relief. My doctor doesn’t believe in prolonged treatment with antibiotics, so I’m finished for now. Still, to say there are many theories and “specialists” who charge thousands of dollars for treating Lyme’s Disease in an understatement.
     I also read several health books, including those written by Dr. Amen (seen on public television). I copied a list of blood work he recommended for female patients. I brought this list to my general physician and he ordered all but the food allergy tests.
     Interestingly I, for the first time, had a Vitamin D deficiency (maybe from all the cloudy days here in the Northeast?) So, now I’m taking a supplement to balance my “sunshine” level. I have come to the conclusion that managing my health is a constantly-changing, ever-evolving state of being as is our existence. I will have to modify my regimen by paying close attention to my own needs. I also pray for good doctors–and dentists to come into my life when I, or anyone in my family, needs them.
     Since I have met so many moms who are having health issues, I’m listing the blood work I had done as a reference point (you too can check Dr. Amen’s books for this) for my readers here. Of course, verify with your doctors and get their professional advice. I simply want to help other women get as much empowering information as possible to SPRING into health this season:
**Lab Work to test for:
~Complete blood count
~Fasting Chemistry–metabolic panel
~25-Hydroxy Vitamin D
~C-Reactive Protein
~Lipid Panel
~Fasting Insulin
~Hemoglobin AIC
~Thyroid Panel–TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Thyroid Antibodies gland, Thyroid antibodies hormone
~Food allergy
~Fatty acid profile to check omega 3 fatty acids
~Free and total serum testosterone
~Estradiol and Progesterone levels* Women 45 and over for this test.

**This list is copied and not intended as “expert” medical advice, so everyone check with your doctors.


Saying Goodbye to Papa “J”

March 30th, 2011

   When my sister-in-law called to share Papa “J” wanted us to visit him, we knew it was time. It was time for my husband and I to take our kids to spend some precious moments with him, moments he may never recall. You see, Papa “J” is in the grips of a mentally, emotionally and physically debilitating disease that overcomes even the fiercest men and women, notably including one of our nation’s former Presidents, Ronald Reagan. Alzheimer’s disease is heartbreaking for it’s victims and the families they often don’t even recognize as time goes by. 
     We knew for a while that Papa “J” was becoming more and more forgetful and seemingly lost. His wife, my childrens’ grandma who past away over a year ago, helped by often reminding him of his fleeting thoughts. While his long term memory remains in tact, his short-term memory fails him. Before our visit, we hadn’t experienced first-hand the impact this has on his daily routine and in the scheme of his entire livelihood.
      We were ill-prepared and unsure what to expect upon arrival. Great start when we were greeted by Papa “J” waiting for us outside his home. There he was sitting with his cane in hand–he wears braces on both legs as a result of having a dual operation for prostate cancer and several herniated discs. He became immobilized and lost feeling in parts of both legs so the braces were added for stabilization.
     “HEY, you guys are finally here; Let’s go to the local seafood restaurant for dinner,” chanted Papa “J.”  He was the picture of health–for an 81 year old that is. And our dog, who we brought on her first long distance trip, fell instantly in love with this man with the cane. He reciprocated barking back and teasing her with his “walking stick.”
     Once we got settled in, we happily drove to the restaurant, and I recall thinking, “maybe some of our fears resulting from incidents involving Papa “J”s  memory loss could be allayed for awhile given his seemingly confident, cogent and relaxed demeanor.” He didn’t seem like the man who paid disreputable landscape contractors thousands of dollars for work they never did because they lied to him-knowing he is easy prey for a good con. Nor did he seem like the man who, a few months earlier, drove to Georgia to visit my sister-in-law, arrived at her home, then immediately left and drove the entire way back home because he forgot why, what, and where he was supposed to be? These incidents had prompted us to contact the police and served as a wake-up call to how lost Papa “J” often is.
      Now, he didn’t seem lost at all. I listened as he explained to my husband where the restaurant was and about all the different activities in the area. He shared lots about his past with my kids and was able to recall so much of his history.
     Once inside the restaurant, the situation changed. Papa “J” asked us several times where we were. At first, my children giggled because they thought he was kidding. Once we told him where we were, he responded the same way he would the next week we spent with him–each time he didn’t know what was going on, “Oh, yeah, that’s what I thought.”
     And so began the realization and understanding that although it appears that Papa “Js” long-term memory is in tact, his short-term memory is not, and at times is worse than others. Worst of all, I can see his fear and sadness, and occasionally, the anger, each time he’s unable to recollect who, what or where we are.
     Each day he’d awake spirited like a little kid, asking what we were going to do, followed by what we wanted to eat for dinner. These same questions were repeatedly asked throughout the day–as were many other inquiries he continued to echo. At times, he even forgot my children’s names.
     We had to throw out much of the expired food in the refrigerator and buy many daily items he didn’t have, including laundry detergent. Surprisingly, his extra refrigerator in the garage housed about 200 frozen prepared meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which he eats on a daily basis–when he remembers to eat.   
     Yet, this once World War II Vet, fondly remembers times with his wife–and even guided us to her gravesite to visit, two hours away. We spent several joyous moments laughing at silly things in life including mimicking our dog. We shopped and went out to dinner often and watched a few movies with him. Although he shared he loves to go on walks, when we went with him, he could only walk down one block before having to sit down. I could see how disappointed he was–this former long-distance track star! As always, I joked with him about eating more fiber to get his legs moving next time, and we giggled : )
     When it was time to leave, it was difficult. He asked if we could stay, maybe come back in a week or so. We all knew that our next visit would be to move him out of this home he loves to an assisited living facility, closer to family. Watching our parents, grow old, is so very “hard to do.”