I used to be Missy’s Mom. Yes, I did use the word in past tense. For many years, I referred to myself as “Mom” to my pet Papillon, 12-1/2 years in fact. I did not think it strange to see it that way, as my children are all grown; and when we think of it – our pets are like our children in many ways.
From the time that we brought her home at 9 weeks (and she could fit into the palm of our hand), she was our “little girl”. She quickly grabbed hold of our hearts, and took over the household! As many pet “parents” will agree – our pets live for us; and that described Missy to a “t”. She knew when it was a work day, and when we had the day off (I’m not quite sure how she could tell). She comforted us when we were not feeling well, and when we argued she would bark – most likely to tell us to quit arguing!
Missy had a bossiness that was endearing to us, and most likely irritating to others. She loved to beg for freshly cooked popcorn, but only wanted the buttered pieces. She begged for food at dinner by putting her little snout up in the air to bark/howl. Needless to say, when we had company over, she had to be secured in her crate or our dinner party guests would get perturbed.
Missy was a totally spoiled dog! Her collection of gadgets ranged from a car seat fitted just for her, a life jacket for riding on the jet ski (and later the boat), a basket to ride on the front of my bicycle – and later a specially ordered trailer for longer bicycle rides. Fancy harnesses, color-coordinated leashes, holiday costumes, winter coats, and daytime dresses completed her wardrobe.
Her favorite daytime perch was to command a living room chair and watch out the window until we came home. As she grew older, her eyesight dimming with cataracts, she preferred her corner dog bed or the cushy couch. She would never bark when guests arrived, but she barked when they left – we always thought she didn’t want them to go.
In experiencing her passing, I have to say that her death affected me in a very profound way. During the year after she left us, every morning I would feel the loss of her because I no longer had to visit the backyard, rain or shine while she went out to potty. In the afternoons, I would experience the loss of her because her smiling face wasn't there to greet me when I returned home from work. Every evening I experienced the loss of her because no longer had a small ball of fur curled at my feet on our bed.
We lived our lives with the knowledge that one day she would leave us, but we had no knowledge that April 26, 2014 would be the last day she would spend with us. If I had known, I would have held her longer, that day and every day up until then. I originally wrote this post during my tenure of writing a monthly column for The Spectrum/Writer's Group in St. George, Utah. As I share it with you today, 6 years after her passing, thinking of Missy and her sweet ways still brings a tear to my eye. I do believe that we will eventually bring another furry child into our family; but there will never be another Missy - she was a one-of-a-kind friend that left her paw-print on my heart. In the scope of my years on earth, her 12-1/2 years were just a small part of my life. But her 12-1/2 years with me were the whole part of her life to her. I hope that we will always remember that when we love our furry family - they may be just a part of our world, but to them - we are their whole world.
As I sat in the waiting room of the cardiac unit at the hospital, I looked at the others waiting with us in the lobby and wondered what brought them there. Were they the patient or were they accompanying the patient? I was there that day to be with my mother as she had her pacemaker battery replaced; with us waiting were my father, and some family friends.
My observation and interest on this day was heightened because I’ve been gradually changing the way my family eats over to a Whole Food Plant Based diet based upon such books as Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease; The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, MD as well as Forks Over Knives; The Plant-Based Way to Health edited by Gene Stone. After having read these books and learned so much about how to not only prevent heart disease but to reverse it – I was excited to spend a day in this ward of the hospital and see first-hand what I’d been reading about.
I ran across a quote last year that has stuck with me, and that was this: Dr. Caldwell B. Esselsytn, the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease; The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure has said “If the truth be known, coronary artery disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never, ever exist and if it does exist it need never, ever progress.”
In 1978, my beloved Grandma Miller (my mother’s mother) died of a heart attack at age 78. My mother had her first pacemaker put in 1997 at age 73. She had the first battery changed in 2007 when she was 83, and this second battery change came at age 90. It was evident to me that if I didn't do something to revolutionize my eating habits and way of life, I could be facing these same problems.
After my mother returned from her procedure, lightly sedated, the physician came out to share with us her progress. He was very positive that she would have a good recovery with little discomfort. I decided that this would be a good time to let him know we had been encouraging a Whole Food Plant Based diet. I expected for him to be excited about our revelation, but sadly, he just smiled and continued on with what he needed to share with us. I wasn't sure if he understood the magnitude of what this way of eating can do for heart patients.
What I did learn that day is that while I can’t change the world, I can change my personal future, and affect those around me as well. I will do my best to spread the message, one person at a time; the message that you CAN change your health - not by a pill, but by what you eat.
Who are You – Really? Many people struggle with the concept of personal identity. When we were children, most of us grew up confident in who we were – until we reached our teen years. At that point in life, we are bombarded with big issues of identity – body image; perfect hair, skin, and teeth; as well as the bigger picture things – career, further education, relationships, marriage, etc.
As we move through our life, many things continue to shape our identity. For me, when I was young, I was a very self-confident child; outgoing, outspoken, friendly to a fault. When I entered my teens, I experienced a brief but profound time of anorexia that has continued to shape my personal viewpoint of my body image ever since. In my teens, I was challenged to choose college or marriage – I chose to marry. In my twenties, I gave birth to my son, enjoyed numerous volunteer leadership positions and experienced the pain of my marriage ending. In my thirties, I attended college, worked at a number of jobs, and married again – to a wonderful man that I still enjoy sharing my life with today. In my forties, I worked solely in the financial industry, and held several community leadership positions. As I begin my 5th decade, I found myself once again struggling with my personal identity – in similar but different ways that I did as a teen.
For one thing, I found that I couldn't base my personal identity on my “work personality”. The “me” that managed banks and created client opportunities was a very time-crunched person, with little time for family, friends, or volunteering. As I visited with many wonderful people, they echoed the same thing – the “person” that they were in their former career bears little resemblance to the “person” they are here and now.
Secondly, I have found that I couldn't base my personal identity on my “family”. Families are fluid – meaning they flow and change. The “me” that devoted hours to raising my family is different than the “me” that enjoys the empty-nest with my husband; and is different than the “me” that cared for my elderly parents in our home. The only constant “family” identity word that I can use to describe myself is patient. I was patient raising my children, I have been patient living as an empty-nester, I was patient as a in-home caregiver to both of my elderly parents and I am patient with my father who now lives in an assisted living home.
Thirdly, I couldn't base my personal identity on my location. The “me” that lives in north Idaho is a different “me” that lived in St. George. I enjoy different pursuits, hobbies, restaurant choices, shopping habits – you name it – it’s different. While there are some similarities - I still love going to coffee shops, fro-yo stores, and out to dinner on Friday nights with a walk around town afterward - the "me" who lives in north Idaho now is a version of the "me" who lived in St. George, but just a slightly different package.
The conclusion that I have come to is that in order to know who I really am – I need to understand why I’m here, what I was created for, and my purpose in life. The answer to that – I have found – is through God’s word. “For in Him we live, move and have our being…” Acts 17:28.
Have you had a chance to take part in America's Hottest Sport - Pickleball? According to The Iowa Source their article published on April 6, 2018 entitled "Pickleball: America's Hottest New Sport", author Warren Goldie noted that while Pickleball has been around for 50 years, it is picking up traction as a "Boomer Obsession" but is indeed played by all ages.
Locally, I am a part of an informal group which is organized by a wonderful woman who keeps us "in the know" about where all the action is on a regular basis.
You might wonder - what does Pickleball and Alzheimer's have to do with each other? I can assure you, playing regular Pickleball does not bring on Alzheimer's. But I have observed a strange phenomenon that I just had to comment on - and that is the "memory loss" that players have when it comes to scoring.
Scoring in Pickleball is similar to other racquet or paddle sports, but just enough different to cause a newbie some discomfort in learning. Since my group plays doubles, I will refer to the scoring of a doubles game in this story. Play starts as a "volley" serve, so the server will call out 0-0-2 which means that both teams have a score of 0, and the server is the 2nd to serve (when in fact they really are the first to serve to start off the game). Serve is over the net to the cross court. Only the serving team can score a point. If the serving team failed to score a point on this first "volley", then the serve goes to the opposite team, who will now call out 0-0-1 which means each side has a score of 0 and the server is the 1st of their 2-person team to serve. When that server loses the serve, then the serve goes to their teammate, who will call out 0-0-2 (unless they scored a point, which would cause the 1st number of the sequence to change to reflect that new score.
You are probably still wondering what does Pickleball and Alzheimer's have to do with each other - and I'm getting to that point! As the game progresses, and the serve is exchanged back and forth between the teams, I have found it very common and often laughable that even though the serving team has called out the score upon service, when the receiving team now becomes the serving team, they can't recall the score. An animated discussion ensues, usually involving a quick recollection of the past volley of the pairs. The issue is usually resolved quickly, and without causing hard feelings - but it is a common dilemma that I have observed many times.
I have found that "forgetting the score" is common no matter the age of the player, nor the gender. At times it get's to be very comical because the score will be given by the other team as a reminder, and when the serving team serves, it still can get mixed up.
I can't say that there is any remedy for this - try as I might to concentrate and make sure that I'm calling out the score that I heard the other team call out - it does get mixed up - and then the humor comes in (or we hope that it does!)
So - to offer encouragement to new Pickleball players - don't be discouraged when you get the score mixed up as you serve! It happens to the best of us, and is no reflection upon how you play the game. What matters is that you play! So get your paddles and find a game near you!
I help Baby Boomers by sharing my personal stories of encouragement, sharing important information relating to health, increasing financial stability, and living a full and vibrant life while weaving Biblical Principles through these stories.