Sunday, December 27, 2020

Dealing With Mama

Mama loved playing cards. It was a good distraction and a familiar routine for her. We always played her version of gin rummy. It became our ritual and we could tell if it was a good night or not depending on how long she wanted to play. It was our comfort zone.  No more questions, no more complaining... we were all in the moment. It took our minds off of what was going on and it was fun. It made her think and made us laugh.

On a typical night she'd complain about dealing the cards because her hands hurt so much. I didn’t let her get away with it, Douglass on the other hand was more forgiving. We both knew it was a good exercise for her arthritic hands and could help with her concentration, so I insisted she'd deal. Sometimes Mama added up the scores quicker than Douglass or I could... on a good night!

Playing cards was also a part of her past. She always loved playing cards with my father, her friends or the family. It wasn't only the weekly card games they had but also after every family gathering. She was the "hostess with the mostest" constantly bringing out snacks and would curse when she was losing! My father would just shake his head and laugh. 

We'd play cards with Mama until she got tired or couldn't concentrate any longer. We dealt with the role as caregivers every day but during our nightly card games we were just playing cards dealing with Mama! 

*   *   * 

Read more about our journey with Mama in our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" on Amazon Books

You Can Also Follow Us On

Saturday, November 28, 2020

"The Change"

Even before Mama was diagnosed with Dementia, a parent/child role reversal was often there. I remember when I was ten years old and Mama came home late from a doctor's appointment. Of course I was worried... 

Vin: You're late! How was the doctor's appointment? What did he say?
Mama: He said I'm too nervous and I need to relax.
Vin: That's what he always says. But are you okay, Mama?
Mama: Yeah, I'm fine but I'm going through "the change".
Vin: What change?
Mama: "The change".
Vin: What's the change?
Mama: Ask your father about that. Do you want some ice cream?


Years later in the nursing home, Mama's doctor visits were becoming more frequent. I began to worry even more...

Vin: How was your doctor's visit today? What did he say?
Mama: Oh, I'm just sick and tired.
Vin: He said you're sick and tired?
Mama: No, he said I'm fine.
Vin: You're fine?
Mama: Yes he said I'll be fine when my son gets me the hell out of this place.
Vin: I'll ask the doctor about that. Do you want some ice cream?

Some things change... and some things don't. And so it goes.

*   *   * 

Read more about our journey with Mama in our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" on Amazon Books

You Can Also Follow Us On

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Money? I Have Some Money

I never questioned it growing up, but we didn't really have money. We didn't do without, but we were never extravagant. We lived in a small apartment with two bedrooms, two closets and one bathroom. It was usually four people because my elderly aunt lived with us most of the time. Money didn't seem like a problem, but I didn't realize it at the time...


An excerpt from our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" now on Amazon Books


During a visit with Mama one night we were cleaning out her purse. We did this often because she liked to wrap and save the food she didn't finish at mealtime to keep for “later.” Her purse was always full of stuff, we even found her tv remote in there sometimes. She tried to help and pulled out her leopard coin purse. She took out a dollar bill, looked at it, then put it back in her coin purse. She did this a few times while we cleaned out her purse, so we started to talk about money...



Vin:
Why haven’t you ever saved any money?

Mama: Vin your father was a gambler, that son of a bitch, may he rest in peace. He ran the numbers, he was a bookie. You even took the numbers on Saturday mornings because he slept late after playing cards all night. We never saved a damn dime! 


Vin: Well, why didn't you try to save some money on your own?


Mama: Money? I have some money.


Vin: You do? 


Mama: Sure, I have a couple of hundred in my bank account. When I drop dead, you'll have a couple of hundred.


Douglass and I starting laughing which made Mama start laughing. We knew she didn’t have a bank account for many years. I gave her two more dollars for her coin purse. 


Mama: What’s this for?


Vin: That’s for making us laugh.


Mama:(She looked at us and gave a big smile) I should make you laugh more often.


It was a good night, and worth the two bucks! 


You Can Also Follow Us On

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Magic of Music

If all we really have are our memories, what happens when you no longer have any memories? Do you have nothing? No recollection or sense of yourself as a person? If music can spark a memory and make you have a sense of life and who you are, then isn’t music one of the most essential elements in the memory making process? Music is memories. Music makes you feel, it creates an energy, it sparks life and rhythm. I know this, I lived this.


I’ve seen, heard and felt the magic of music and what it did for Mama. She’d start singing a song if she didn’t want to answer a question or just to change the subject. She became alive with music and magically her essence was revitalized. She remembered words to songs that I couldn't remember if I tried. We always sang even at the oddest times... during blood transfusions, in the ambulance and during her first (and only) plane ride.



When Mama left this world Douglass and I had her favorite music playing, it was Judy Garland. I sang along as I held her hand. Music was her comfort zone and when she sang everyone around her felt good or  smiled. We made sure Mama was in her comfort zone when she left us and of course it was on a high note from Judy. 


Our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" is now on Amazon Books.


You Can Also Follow Us On
TWITTER: DementiaMama

Saturday, August 15, 2020

In The Beginning

Mama was able to fool all of us. We all thought she was fine, but the doctors and specialists knew better. They told me that my mother had dementia, she may appear to be alright, but had definite cognitive impairments. 


I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t want to believe it. She knew who I was, she knew how to play cards, how to count and was able to carry on most conversations. Her sense of humor was still intact and joked about her aches and pains. She knew the words to almost every song she sang and if not, was always able to make the lyrics rhyme. So how could she have dementia? 



I tried not to believe the doctors, but deep down I knew something wasn’t right. I knew that after being discharged from her short term rehab, she wasn’t going to be able to go back home and live on her own ever again. I was scared, the reality was overwhelming and I had to make a lot of big decisions. I had to find a place for her to live and it had to be near me, after all I would be checking up on her and the staff everyday.



I made the best of a bad situation, but it wasn't always easy. I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of life as a caregiver.


Our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" is now on Amazon Books.


You Can Also Follow Us On
Twitter: DementiaMama

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Day Care Dilemma

        What you may think is a good idea, doesn't always turn out that way. Sometimes caregiving is all about trial and error. I thought it would've been a good idea for Mama to get out of the nursing home a few times a week. But boy, was I wrong...


        An excerpt from our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" now on Amazon Books.


        I finally knew what it must have felt like for Mama to let go of her fat little crying boy and send him off to kindergarten. I had the same anxious feeling when I sent Mama to senior day care.



  I thought it would have been a good change for Mama to get out of the nursing home a few times a week. She'd have a scenic ride in a van, be in a different environment, make new friends and engage in activities. These were things that she missed and complained about not having at the nursing home. I thought the perfect solution would be senior day care! Of course she took center stage and sang a song on her first day, just like I did on my first day of kindergaraten singing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” But that didn't last long, she gradually turned into the child I was in kindergarten. She would often get combative, refusing to go back to "school". The nursing home called me often to coax her into going since the van was waiting for her. This “perfect solution” was not working out so well and it was expensive. 

I tried reasoning with her repeatedly, but as time went by I realized that the bottom line was Mama needed her routine. She didn't like change, even though the nursing home was less than perfect. She complained that “there’s no life here and there’s nothing to do in this damn joint". It was easier for her to be there and complain, it was her comfort zone. 

After a few months, I gave in to Mama just like she always gave into me as a child. I told her that she didn't have to go to day care again if she didn’t want to go back. When I said that, she seemed just as happy as I did when she told me I could miss a day from school. We spoiled each other. We were two of a kind and it came around full circle. 



You Can Also Follow Us On
Twitter: DementiaMama
Instagram: Dementia-Mama-Drama

Friday, June 12, 2020

So Happy Together

Here's an excerpt from our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" now available on Amazon Books.



Mama's Nursing Home was quarantined for nine days due to a flu virus outbreak. It was nine loooong daze! The few activities that had been  scheduled stopped altogether. It left Mama with even MORE time on her hands and even LESS time being around others. This did not stop Douglass and me from visiting, even though visitors were "strongly discouraged.” We wore masks, just like the staff and residents. It looked and felt odd and Mama hated every minute of wearing a mask. 


Mama: I had a crazy dream last night.
Douglass: What did you dream about?

Mama: I dreamt you got married.

Vin: Really? How was the wedding?

Mama: I said to you in my dream, what the hell are you getting married for? The three of us 
are already so happy together.

Under my breath I said to Douglass “we told her we’re married, she must’ve forgot.”

Vin: Oh so now you're saying you're HAPPY? You
never say you’re happy, that's a first.

Mama: Yeah I'll be HAPPY when I can go home! 

Mama always talked about going home. Like many with Alzheimer's, she’d repeatedly say “I wanna go home, I wanna go home.” I'd tell her she sounded like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz,” she'd laugh and change the subject. I was never sure what she meant by home. Was it where she was born, her last apartment or New York? I always got a different answer, so I never knew.

Douglass: So you’re not happy?

Mama: Well I’ll be happy when I can at least take this damn mask off and hear everything that you're saying. Everything is muffled and I can’t breathe. Everybody is wearing masks in this place, it’s crazy. I can’t take this anymore. Do me a favor, take this damn mask off me already and hand me my lipstick.

Ahhh yes, "sooo happy together"...


You Can Also Follow Us On
Twitter: DementiaMama
Instagram: Dementia-Mama-Drama

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mama, You're Such an Actress!

I didn't realize it growing up but Mama always needed an audience. It became more obvious once she was in a nursing home. She would sing a song or tell a joke at the drop of a hat as long as someone was listening, and she made sure someone always was...


Here's an excerpt from our book "Dementia-Mama-Drama" now on Amazon Books.


Ever since I can remember Mama was an actress. Well let's put it this way - she always gave me drama. From early on in life, her dream was to be an actress and a singer. The ironic thing is that
Mama was always an actress... she 
just didn't know it. And as far as singing, you couldn't shut her up once she started.

Her audience changed over the years. First it was just family and friends, but as time went on anyone that met her became her audience. In her later years her fans were the nursing home staff, the residents and of course the readers of our blog.

When people ask me if Mama was an actress, I gotta say yes. She was the one who taught me "never share a spotlight or a microphone". My mother the actress who was always ready for her close up and her audience.

One night as Douglass and I arrived at the nursing home we heard someone ranting rather loudly from down the hall, it was Mama! She was as I liked to call it “Anna-mated". Sometimes we knew what to expect when visiting and decided to play along joining the “Anna with a Z" show, after all she was the star.

Vin: What are you doing? Are you an actress?

Mama: Of course, I'm a CAREER actress!

Vin: You're a career actress? Since when?

Mama: Since I’ve been in this damn place. Ya gotta be an actress in here.

Vin: What do you mean by that?

Mama: Ya gotta be an actress here to get what you want, if you wanna get ANYTHING.

Vin: Why do you say that?

Mama: They'd ignore you otherwise, so I scream and carry on. I’m a diva, damn it, I give drama! They should give me an award for the best actress.

I couldn't have said it better myself. "And the Oscar goes to ..."



You Can Also Follow Us On
Facebook: Dementia-Mama-Drama 
Twitter: DementiaMama
Instagram: Dementia-Mama-Drama


Monday, April 20, 2020

Grief Groups And Moving On

I never thought I'd be one of those people who went to a grief group. I'm all for therapy, but didn't really get the need to be in a group to discuss a loss. Perhaps I didn't know enough about them, but I felt it was just another way of holding on and not moving on.

I know I needed a form of grief therapy after Mama passed and went to a one on one with open arms and bleeding heart. The next step was group therapy, but I was still hesitant about it... nevertheless a new experience. I needed closure and knew that I wasn't alone. I was totally cynical about "group" therapy.  I pushed to join the first available group meeting because I wanted to feel better and move on! There was a wait list for the group... are you kidding me? That made me even more determined to get into the next group. Being relentless, I got into the group.

During the first meeting I was overly emotional almost from the start which surprised Mr Cynical. The weekly group meetings became a ritual and not alienating (as I had thought) but bringing a group of unlikely people together. Some were unprepared for their loved ones deaths, I was lucky that I knew it was coming. My yoga roots and experience were revisited in a different way by helping bring the group together through meditation and centering. I was surprised how I was able to return to Yoga after being away from it for a while, but then again I was moving on. After all Yoga is mind, body and spirit but I never thought I'd be using it as a tool while grieving.

Well like Mama would say "live and learn". I was an important part of a grief group and my preconceived ideas of  it all had all changed. I'm lucky that I've maintained a few close relationships from the group over the years. It was an important experience I didn't think I needed but I'd recommend it to anyone who has gone through a loss. Keep an open mind and "try it you may like it", it's all part of moving on.

Thanks for your continued support... Follow us on
Facebook: Dementia-Mama-Drama 
Twitter: DementiaMama
Instagram: Dementia-Mama-Drama

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Moments of Pride

June is a very special month for me for two reasons. It's Alzheimer's Awareness month and it's Gay Pride. Mama and I have always supported each other... we were proud of each other and were blessed!



She always accepted me for being myself... and she loved the New York Gay Pride Parade. She would sit outside the nursing home and engage with "her audience". She loved the attention (no surprise) and they enjoyed her bawdy sense of humor!

As Alzheimer's caregivers we were there with Mama for many years and made her smile and sing. Did I say sing? Yes, she sang for anyone and everyone. It was great therapy for all of us... it got us through a lot of rough times (and there were plenty).

It's June again and during this month when it's Gay Pride's 50th Anniversary I know that many other Gay caregivers are with their loved one and who knows... they might just be singing "Over the Rainbow".

Thanks for your continued support... Follow us on


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sometimes Ya Need A Break

Being caregivers for Mama for so many years has taken a toll, so we needed a little break. A time to pause, reevaluate and gather our thoughts so that we could help other caregivers and continue her story.

Caregiving 101 was like second nature to me. I knew myself and Mama too well, we were both drama queens - highly emotional without any filters. If I wasn't feeling 100 percent, I knew I couldn't give 100 percent. I knew we had to distract Mama to make everyone happy... or at least get through it.


When we were caregivers there weren't many resources available to us. We were pioneers on a new territory, so we went with our feelings and what worked best for us. Men weren't the typical caregivers, let alone a Gay couple. Many times we did what was not suggested by the professionals, but back then we knew what worked for Mama... and us.

We used music, humor, pampering and pet therapy before it became "a thing". We took videos and photos before most did this (she wasn't happy unless the camera was on her). It became a therapy that worked for all of us. Mama always wanted her story told.  She didn't really care which story it was - she had many (remember I did say she was a drama queen). Lo and behold, "Some Of These Daze" was born. It's a play we worked on with Mama and will continue to develop until her story has been told.

Thanks for supporting and please spread the word. Follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Humor and Music Got Us Thru

I was asked by Precious Limson to be part of an article she was writing for My Angel's Homecare along with a few other caregivers. My story was featured in the article "The Truth About Alzheimer's Disease Through the Eyes of a Home Caregiver". Reading about the differences in our stories showed that there are many ways of dealing with Alzheimer's. 


This disease affects everyone - the patient, the family and society. It's not a cookie cutter disease and there are hundreds of unique stories out there... we all deal with it in our own way. Although we did not just "live and laugh because we knew it would all be fine", we did use humor and music to help us "deal with our daily dose of dementia". 

Here's the link to the article: http://myangelshomecare.com/the-truth-about-alzheimers/.

Thanks for supporting and please spread the word. Follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mothers Day Back Home

Mother's Day is here and my mind is flooded with memories of Mama. I've finally moved back home to NYC and oddly enough it's in the neighborhood where mama was born.

As I walk around and visit old familiar places, I continue to unpack things that remind me of mama, my family and my roots. The last few months I've been consumed with the process of readjusting back to my life in NYC. So writing about mama and sharing our experiences was just too emotional for me. I needed to let go for awhile until I was ready.

Since it's Mother's Day, I need to embrace it. I'm grateful to Mama and all the other "mothers" in my life that helped mold me and get me to where I am today. I love and miss them all.

If I could offer any advice or suggestions to those dealing with Alzheimers, it would be to call your mother. Or better yet visit your mother, give her a hug and say I love you. No matter what she will "get it" on some level and hopefully you'll get a smile from her as I did. And that's what Mothers Day is all about... being grateful and showing love. I wish everyone a very Happy Mothers Day.


Thanks for supporting and please spread the word. Follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Caregiving 101 - Say "I Love You"

Every night no matter what happened in our day, when I would leave Mama after visiting, I'd say good night (a few times), give her a big hug and a kiss. She would always smile at me with that big glowing smile and it would make all the drama worthwhile. Even on those few nights when I wasn't able to visit, when we spoke on the phone we'd always end our conversation with "I love you."   


I think of those times even though she is no longer here with me. And at night when I meditate and say my prayers, I still say good night Mama, I love you. I know that she is smiling. Caregiving 101, say I love you... you won't regret it and you'll never forget it.

Thanks for stopping by! Please spread the word and follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Here's a Mint" - Memories of Mama

During Mama's last year she often complained about her stomach. If she wasn't starving, she had heartburn or a tummy ache or a funny taste in her mouth. But the one thing Mama never lost was her sense of humor and salty tongue. This was a typical night with Mama, I still remember it like it was yesterday... 

Mama: My stomach is upset.
Vin: Here's a mint, it'll make you feel better. Let it melt in your mouth.
Mama: Well where do think it's gonna melt... in my ass?
Vin: Only if you put it there, Mama. Only if you put it there!
Mama: Oh, you're very funny. You're a regular comedian.
Vin: I learned it from you.
Mama: Yes you did, my son.


Thanks for stopping by! Please spread the word and follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mama's Recipe - Memories of Mama

Meatball Mama
Mama always loved food, the recipe to keep Mama happy was FOOD! It was something we'd always talk about... even up until her last few days. When all else failed, I knew the topic of food would never fail. We'd talk about what she ate, what she was going to eat or what she really wanted to eat. As her memory decreased I'd ask her about what she ate to see if she remembered on that particular day. I always knew what she had because I'd check the weekly menu on her bulletin board. If she didn't remember she'd make something up that was safe... usually spaghetti and meatballs (her favorite) or meat and potatoes (always a good answer).


When Mama was having a bad day I'd ask her about some of her favorite recipes. It became a running joke because every dish she ever made always had the same ingredients. She'd say "a little salt, a little pepper, olive oil and a lot of Italian cheese". It didn't matter what the dish, this was the stock answer. Looking back, it did hold true to most of her recipes. At the time it was funny and I'd egg her on to see how far I could take her and what other ingredients should would add. Most of the time she caught on and would laugh and tell me to "shut the hell up and enough with the damn recipes".

Mangia Mama!
And that's when she'd break into song and I knew all was good for the night. Thank God for music and of course "a little salt, a little pepper, olive oil and a lot of Italian cheese".

Thanks for stopping by! Please spread the word and follow us on...

Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Roller Coaster Ride - Memories of Mama

As a child I was always terrified of rollercoaster rides. I didn't like them... I even got nose bleeds the few times I tried to buck up and enjoy them. But I didn't like them and I'm certain part of my neurosis was instilled in me from Mama. All I heard from her was "be careful", "watch out", "you're gonna get hurt", "it's dangerous"... the list goes on. She was extremely over protective and neurotic of many things, but then again "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." 


Many years later when I became a caregiver for Mama and rode the "roller coaster ride of Alzheimers" with her, this redundant term brought a new meaning to me. I realized that eventually we all have to face our fears and ride the roller coaster.


Thanks for stopping by! Please spread the word and follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama
Instagram: Some Of These Daze

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Role Reversal... Memories of Mama

Even before Mama was diagnosed with Dementia, the parent/child role reversal was there between us. When I was ten years old Mama came home late from a doctor's appointment and I was worried... 

Vin: How was the doctor's appointment? You're late, what did he say?
Mama: He said I'm too nervous and I need to relax.
Vin: That's what he always says. But are you okay, Mama?
Mama: Yes, I'm fine but I'm going through "the change".
Vin: What change?
Mama: "The change".
Vin: What's the change?
Mama: Ask your father. Do you want some ice cream?


A few years ago in the nursing home, Mama's visits from the doctor were becoming more frequent. I began to worry even more. I asked her what the doctor said... 

Vin: How was your doctor's visit today? What did he say?
Mama: Oh, I'm sick and tired.
Vin: He said you're sick and tired?
Mama: No, he said I'm fine.
Vin: You're fine?
Mama: Yes he said I'll be fine when my son gets me the hell out of this place.
Vin: I'll ask the doctor about that one. Do you want some ice cream?

And so it goes... some things never change. My memories of Mama.


Thanks for stopping by! Please spread the word and follow us on...
Twitter: @DementiaMama

Having Your Daily Dose of MAMA DRAMA?
Caregiver or Advocate?
Show you care and spread the word with 
Dementia-Mama-Drama products

Visit Our Shop. Click on Link Below: