Sunday, April 14, 2013

Did you hear the one about. . .

Your elderly mother is visiting from out of town and tells you at least three times this weekend that when she gets home she's going to the hospital to have a cyst removed. You mutter under your breath "Be sure to have the doctor check your brain, too." Instead, you should hold her hand and lovingly say, "It must be weighing on your mind. You're thinking about this procedure a lot, aren't you?" A little patience will go a long, long way. Still you wonder, is Momma suffering from Alzheimer's?

Why do we just assume the elderly are suffering from dementia? It's a fact that teens and young adults as well as the little ones need to be gently reminded of things. How many times does that seventeen-year-old boy run into the house, set his keys down and run to the TV, then when it's time to drive his kid brother to practice he forgot where he put those keys? Then the eight-year-old forgets to put her bike away. The college student who lives in your basement forgets to take her assignment to class, thinking it's in her backpack. Your thirty-nine year old husband puts the wrench down to get a glass of ice water and can't find it in the tool box when he returns to work. (He left it on the porch.) Then you're talking to your forty-eight year old neighbor about the new family that moved in down the street. She simply cannot remember the last name of the family and she just met them earlier that morning. That's just our minds filled with so many daily tasks that need to get done, plans that we're making and lists of things to do. We excuse ourselves.

However, the minute Grammy forgets you told her last week that you don't like sweet potatoes, the stuff hits the fan and "She must be losing her mind!" Well, the more memories you stuff into that mind, the more that brain has to remember. It's not crazy to want to share wisdom with the younger generation and after twenty-five grandchildren and several great-grand babies, you forget who you told the tales to. That's not Alzheimer’s.

You'll know grandfather is "losing it" when he picks up a spoon and tries to cut his meat with it, and he normally has the table manners of royalty. When Uncle Bob who has led scouts on campouts for decades suddenly forgets how to light a match, then you can be sure, something is seriously wrong.

Either way, simple forgetfulness or serious mental handicap, love that person with endless patience. Set an example of how you'd like to be treated when you're that old. Aging happens to all of us. The other choice leaves us six feet under.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Today I thought about my first home, in the Delray part of Detroit. I remembered something awful that I couldn't possibly recollect, but it was talked about enough that I recalled the story. In fact, it's included in my second book, "A Sideshow Journey". I was either an infant when it happened, or not born yet.

Anyway, it was the early 1960s. There were some really rough kids from the neighborhood around Dill Street. They were brothers. They got ahold of my sister's kittens, poured gasoline on the little calicos and set them on fire. The youths thought it was pretty funny. My dad had to finish the kittens off as they were beyond saving.

My sister was inconsolable. My dad called the police, and a vet had to examine the little things, as part of the investigation. The police talked to the kids' parents who "reasoned" with the cops. The police then said, "Well it was just cats. What are ya' gonna do. Boys will be boys." Those boys were thugs and later ended up in prison for assault and worse.

I can't help but think, what if there had been intervention sooner and the parents hadn't stopped the authorities from doing their job? Those kids might have done better with their lives and the victims might not have suffered.

Today while I was walking through a park in a really nice town, I saw a kid beating on a wall with a broomstick or pole, doing damage. I told him to stop. He wouldn't. I had a talk with the middle-school aged kid and told him to do good, build something rather than tearing it down. Instead he followed me for about a mile harassing me. Finally I went to a house and the elderly couple that lived there saw what was going on and called the police.

I wonder what will happen. Will his parents say "It's just a wall he was beating and no harm was done to the "little lady"?

A Sideshow Journey by Liesa Swejkoski

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