Monthly Archives: December 2012

Caregiving is an inadequate term. Maybe it should be changed to Lovegiving?


In my opinion, caregiving is a most inadequate term which is used loosely. I think that it should really be called love-giving, because that’s what it was. In order to live with a husband suffering from any kind of Dementia, Alzheimer’s in our case, I was willing to give unconditional love to my husband and I think it worked for us. I didn’t stop loving him simply because he could not always remember things the way he used to do. I did not spend less time with him after he became ill. On the contrary, I tried to go out with him more in order for him to have more memories to draw from in the future. We could not be described as an elderly couple, which goes to show that this illness can start at any age although it occurs more often in older people. My husband passed away when he was 76.

One psychiatric hospital in particular …

imagesCAEXCDV0This particular  hospital remains in my memory because of its garden. It was well kept and must have been planned by somebody who not only loved nature, but understood the need for the peace and tranquility that patients haunted by voices and other terrors need. Creepers covered fences and walls, and flowers bloomed in profusion amongst bushes and rocks.

I remember how touched I’d been when my son plucked a deep, pink rose from a bush in the garden and handed it to me. That simple gesture is a memory that I wished I could bottle for future use.

I remember one tree in particular. A part of its trunk had a hollowed out portion that was being used as a trash can for papers and candy wrappers but one had to peer inside to see this so it did  not disturb anyone. We never sat in the garden for long as David felt the need to walk and walk and walk. He missed his dog, a Belgian Shepherd who was his constant and faithful walking companion at home.

Why do some people look about furtively before slipping into a psychiatrist’s office ?

imagesCAC2S7PKRandom thoughts about visiting psychiatrists

Why do many people look around furtively before slipping unobtrusively into a psychiatrist’s clinic, reminding me of a burglar, but, when they visit any other specialist I doubt whether they do that? No, they walk in openly instead of checking whether there is anyone around who might notice what kind of doctor they are visiting. By doing this, they are simply adding to the stigma associated with mental illness.

I have to admit that at first I was guilty of doing the same thing. WHY? Because I wasn’t able to cope with the fact that I was the mother of a son who was behaving strangely, who was having unusual thoughts and who was telling us that people were after him. And yes, it took me a long time before I realized that if I told people about David, came straight out with the problem, they would no longer talk behind our backs and might even be more understanding and empathetic.

Happy birthday to a faithful, 42-year-old Austin Mini Minor … let’s stop judging outer appearances

1966_Austin_Mini_Cooper_S_Rally_Car_For_Sale_resizeSERENADE 2 SENIORS

My children feel that I should change my car because it is five-years-old but when I told them the following story, they let up for a while.

I grew up in Bloemfontein, South Africa and I remember when my mother purchased her Austin Mini-Minor. It was on December 28, 1970. She drove it for 13 years and on October 18 1983, she sold it to my cousin who lived in Johannesburg. When she handed him the car keys, she put a sheaf of papers in his hand which contained the original receipt of purchase, together with all the paperwork she had accumulated pertaining to the car.

My cousin called me from Johannesburg the other day to tell me that today, ‘ the mini’ as we referred to it, was celebrating her 42nd birthday. Isn’t that amazing? Let’s raise our glasses and toast this incredible car.
I wish my mother were here to share this toast with us.

A lack of understanding surrounding a suicide.

There is a great deal of stigma and a lack of understanding surrounding mental illness and suicide. Someone was actually heard to say the following while visiting a family whose child had taken his own life.

“If he wanted to die, why are you so upset?” The family also heard; “Time will heal,” and “You have other children so ..

Another person mentioned that committing suicide was an act of cowardice.  How could anyone even think something like that? I don’t agree that it is an act of cowardice. I think that it takes a great deal of courage. I imagine my son standing somewhere up high, making that terribly difficult, heartbreaking, yet brave decision to end his suffering. Maybe he also felt that he was relieving us of an emotional burden; maybe he could not longer tolerate the voices in his head.

I was quite sure that no fear, pain nor sorrow could touch me after that most traumatic and painful experience, but that was simply not true. Life is made up of all kinds of tragedies. What I do know is that we will remember and love our son David forever.

A grandfather drinking and driving?


Most people have been lucky to have avoided brushes with the law on their way home from social functions over the years.  Several nights ago, my friend, a grandfather of 82, went out for a few drinks with friends and although he’d had a few too many beers, he proceeded to order and then drank a margarita which was not a good idea. Aware that he was probably over the legal limit for alcohol consumption, he took a taxi home.

Sure enough, he encountered a police roadblock but because he was in a taxi, they waved him through. He arrived home safely without incident, much to his surprise. The next day he told me that he’d never driven a taxi before and was not even sure where he’d got it.

Texting codes for seniors. Children have them, so why not for us?


When a grandchild used the code LOL at the end of a message to me, I thought it meant Lots of Love, but I was told that the meaning is Laugh out Loud.

Here are some for seniors to use, IF they text at all, that is.

  • ATD       at the doctors.
  • BFF       best friend’s funeral.
  • BTW      bring the wheelchair.
  • BYOT    bring your teeth.
  • CBM      covered by Medicare.
  • GGPBL  gotta go. Pacemaker battery low.
  • IMHO     is my hearing aid on?

Because I am a senior, I feel free to poke fun at seniors in general. Have a good day.

The end of 2012.

no grandma, click on the ...SERENADE 2 SENIORS:

Phones, laptops and printers are wireless

And stoves are fireless

Cars are keyless

Food is fatless.

Tires are tubeless

Clothes are sleeveless.

People are jobless

Some leaders shameless.

Relationships meaningless

Attitudes careless

Babies fatherless

Feelings heartless

Education, valueless.

Everything is becoming less but our hopes are endless.

In fact, I am speechless.


Alter your dreams

A parent with a child suffering from a mental illness feels shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion, ambivalence,  helplessness, hopelessness, despair and sometimes guilt. Most of my problems in coping with my feelings came from the fact that I was doing all this without the added comfort of extended family and close friends. How could they possibly grasp the enormity of our problem? It had taken us so long to understand it. Some never didl

At the support group I asked repeatedly; “How can I avoid regretting my hopes and dreams for my son that have become so unrealistic?”

Reply: “Don’t wait for your child to fulfil his former expectations. Alter them. Learn to forge new dreams. Take one day at a time.” Of all the advice I ever received,  take one day at a time proved to be the most helpful.

Did our family cope with mental illness?

Did my family cope? Did we nearly cope? In actual fact, we were drowning. Not one of us had come in contact with a person suffering from a mental illness, so we did not know what had hit us. We were simply not prepared. We all wanted to help David as much as we could but did  not have the tools.

Once, when visiting my son in a psychiatric hospital, he introduced me to a woman who was wearing a babushka on her head. Her worn, grief-stricken face was etched with deep lines. She pushed the tiny garment she was knitting into my hands. “It’s for my grandson but they won’t bring him here to visit me,” she said, swiping at her eyes with a grubby handkerchief. Then my son turned ot me; “Mom, maybe you’ll land up here one day too.” “You’re certainly working hard at it,” I told him and he smiled. Finally I’d managed to elicit a smile from David. My husband always used humor which worked well in these circumstances … all a proven part of the coping process. But the rest of the family had trouble with it.

Our daughters kept themselves busy and spent less and less time at home. There were times when i felt like running away too, but instead, I took up writing, which proved to be a very good coping tool. Tapping on the keyboard, helped me fill my mind with fantasy rather than psychiatric hospitals and other tragedies. While writing, I felt as if I were slipping into an ocean, a peaceful place where I was weightless and invisible. Watching the computer screen with its blinking cursor, helped me  escape to places of my dreams.

mental health awarenessBecause mental illness is too tough a road to walk alone, on noticing the first signs of a problem, I can only suggest that parents consult a medical professional. The sooner it is treated, the more likelihood there is of any kind of success.