Swimming Solo


“God & Alzheimer’s,” my story from the Huffington Post (10/3/13), appears in INTO THE STORM: Journeys with Alzheimer’s (ed. Collin Tong). Twenty-two other writers, journalists, social workers and more share their Alzheimer’s caregiving stories. A rich volume that will be a support and a solace for many.  A must-read for caregivers.


A tart green orchid, fuchsia at the center, blooms in my sun room.

Fragrant with cumin, lentil soup bubbles.

Grainy snow covers ice outside our door.

A fat Sunday paper waits for me there.

Against a steel gray sky sparrows peck at seed scattered from the feeder.

Snow menaces, so does melancholy.

My ever joy-filled college roommate died in January.

John and I map out grandchildren visits.

In the big Webster’s dictionary, we look up “out of the box.”

Hellebores hide in my garden, late this year.

My boots sit ready to carry me through six more weeks of winter.




Oh, the stories I hear. I’ve had lots of SWIMMING SOLO gigs this month where I’m the listener. Often I’m just 5-10 minutes into my reading and talk when someone wiggles in the chair, shoots up a hand to speak:
-A nurse tells about driving Alzheimer’s patients around to quiet them.
-A wife explains that her dog barked to alert her at the moment of her husband’s death.
-A young OR nurse adds hospice care for the elderly as a specialty.
-A grocery checker sends a check to the Alzheimer’s Association when she finishes SWIMMING SOLO.

I feel as if I have enough moving stories for another book. . . .

This Morning

This morning I didn’t expect butterflies in my stomach as I drew a family tree on the chalk board at the School of Social Work at our local university. Next I printed my name and SWIMMING SOLO on the board. The autumn sun warmed the room. I took off my jacket, tucked my bangs back, opened my folder with my lesson plan. I was excited and nervous even though I’ve been in front of many classes teaching French.

When I saw the first student—in a bright red sweater—, I relaxed.

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