Blue Gate

This morning, the last day of November, on my walk I saw a red tile roof that sheltered a white stucco house and its arched doorways. But for the rain and wet leaves underfoot, I could have been in Andalusia. My friend Sonny’s glazed green tile roof shimmered in the damp. One-hundred years ago had the builder known the roofs of Beijing’s old quarters? Up a hill, another tile roof, its rust color muted by the rain. It sloped down to a wall of patterned brick, alternate red and cream-colored bands, as if to create a miniature Tuscan villa, a Renaissance echo in the heart of America.

At the corner on my way home, an azure blue, wrought-iron gate to nowhere hung from two free-standing posts. The gate swung gently back to forth, forth to back, open to infinite possibility.



I’m celebrating publication of “MARS,” my new creative essay, in The Lindenwood Review (Issue 4). It’s all about a journey to a faraway place that one of my grown-up kids led me on. And how I survived.


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.




Paul, my elderly father-in-law, telephoned: “Silvia has lost her lights.” Silvia was his wife. She had lost what?


Paul began to speak in riddles. Circumlocutions around a word. Then we had to guess. Paul was losing language.


And it took us months to grasp that this wasn’t ordinary aging, but for Paul a sign of oncoming Alzheimer’s.

“God and Alzheimer’s” article featured in Religion section of Huffington Post

My article “God and Alzheimer’s” was featured in the Friday edition of the Huffington Post in their religion section. I’m so pleased to get this kind of national exposure for a subject that is near and dear to my heart.


A yellow school bus stops kitty-corner from my house. A mom and dad walk their boy with loaded backpack to Flynn Park School. Friends arrive from Connecticut to deliver their son to his freshman year at Washington University. I picture new faces on opening day of my French teaching years. I hear again the first hello-bonjour of the fall semester.


In “The Sense of an Ending” ( New Yorker, 5/20/13), Rebecca Mead shows how the Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix offers dementia care with a focus on flexibility and calm. Hershey kisses, “pleasurable moments,” and acceptance of patients’ decline anchor the program. Worth a read as is my Alzheimer’s caregiving memoir SWIMMING SOLO.

Stone Phillips’ terrific documentary debuted on May 7 on St. Louis’s PBS channel. It’s a warm story of adult children making a tough decision about moving their aging parents. Caregivers will identify with the adult children, the untenable situation, and the endearing elderly couple. It’s great to see the visuals, hear the vintage music. In my memoir, SWIMMING SOLO, I tackle the same dilemmas as my husband and I look after our 4 aging parents with Alzheimer’s. Read the first chapter at www.susanrava.com.


Carol Mithers captures the “singularity” of the old and the love and grief of caregiving in “Suddenly, They’re All Gone” (NYT 3/22/13). She talks about “drowning. . . as endless crises unspooled.” That same feeling of going-under inspired the title of my Alzheimer’s caregiving story, SWIMMING SOLO. http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/suddenly-theyre-all-gone/


March in Missouri: daffodils barely peek up, a touch of bright green. Wind whips snow flurries around. Great indoor weather for spring cleaning, reading, writing, and planning the garden. Pat Summitt’s new book on her own early-onset Alzheimer’s disease beckons. And with Collin Tong of Seattle, I continue editing a collection of Alzheimer’s caregiver stories which we’re tentatively calling PORTRAITS IN CAREGIVING.