Thursday, September 10, 2015

Great minds do not think alike

Yesterday Harold Charles Donofrio, Jr. was admitted to Arden Courts Towson. He was a little restless during the evening hours but woke up ready to sing and dance and enjoy his day. I'm sure he's had some ice cream by now.

Nothing can be said that hasn't been said.

My friend called me this evening and read Chuck's first blog post from 2009 where he spoke so eloquently about it all.  I had forgot that first one.

Here, below, is the repost.  I, certainly, could not have said it better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Embrace three feet of snow. Follow with brilliant, clear skies. Notice that it is not that cold. See charming gigantic icicles, dripping. Watch little stream begin to freshen. See clear stream begin to muddy. Find cistern overflowing. Hear a dull "white noise" sort of sound coming from the now numerous rivulets of water. Recognize that puddles are turning to miniature lakes. Realize that there may be flooding in the rivers. Run to get day pack, scrap all plans, other than surveying the now once in 15 year water levels. Jump in car to see largest waterfalls in Baltimore and Harford County. Drive to every decent bridge, as the roaring of waters fuels the pulse. Start to encounter other maddened flood chasers, words tumbling out of their mouths, sputtering epithets and crude uses of the language now not only acceptable, but imperative, descriptions only misappropriated by the urgency of the need to capture, to fix in the mind what can't really be fixed, all is feeling and adrenaline, in the roar of waters and the knowledge that all too soon this too shall pass, like a life cut short, a knife dulled, the frayed edge of the Alz-affected, trying to fix what cannot be solidified, yearning for a way to make it stay, grasping for meaning, yearning for a way to make it part of my soul, to put another totem on the pole, interpreting the life that cannot be lived, the memory that cannot be retained, to find a reliable fixed point knowing all too well there is no fixity, there is no capturing the smoke of desire or the fecundity of water-soaked earth.

We love you honey. xoxo

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A little help from our friends

I have begun a new appreciation of drugs. I formally thought them suspect. Bad juju. Now I know what it's like to give a little pill to a man who is freaked out, chewing his nails and saying he is scared. Being scared is not okay. So I get the pill and wait and I am not disappointed. He is calmer, happier, more satisfied with the present moment.

I have calmed my man down and I am thankful. At night he once again is agitated and confused.
 I, once again, go for the pills. They work, he sleeps, I sleep.  Wow.

How long will this help? It doesn't really matter. It helps now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bliss in the Gulf

Monday, April 21. 2015,

A year ago today a little blue cottage on a beautiful island known as Sanibel became mine.

We had visited Sanibel dating, married with a child,  two, three. Every year we'd jump in the car and drive to Sanibel for two weeks. I know this island well. I like this island very much. We have met so many wonderful people here. Relationships born of sea shells and gulf waters, sunsets and pizza. And, of course, The Ding.

Fast forward:
Chuck retires. Ad company closes. Chuck can no longer spend winters up North. I start shopping for a house on Sanibel. Yes, bugs, yes, alligators, yes, hot. Yes, wonderful!! A technicolor paradise.
A natural high. Did I mention we have a private beach?

A new finding regarding connecting with your bliss
while having severe dementia has had me marveling at life.
 I mention this because it was always the music that we turned
to when Chuck needed a lift or we needed to connect. It was perfect as he still
walked and walked and walked, getting regular exercise.

Now, however, with the last stage breathing down our necks, we have found the gulf. This
is where Chuck is able to connect.
It is where he raised his arms to the sky and speaks to those who are listening. He is at home floating and swimming in the gulf, pointing at the birds and, always, showing the reverence and respect he has for this natural word.

Away from the beach his eyes are downward cast, his walk sometimes now shuffled.  Unsure, hesitant, he looks for a clue. Then we walk out onto our beautiful beach and he is reborn. His hat and shirt are removed and he again becomes one with his own amazing experience of life.

We are here for now, floating in the gulf, laughing.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I never thought I'd write on Chuck's blog. He's too good a writer to have a mediocre follow-up by his lovely wife. But I have to. I need to. I even want to.

You see, whenever I read about an amazing person, living or deceased, who has done so much for so many people in a real and caring way, I always think about Chuck. It's not that he ever tried to save the world in one way or another. It's that everyone who knows him likes him because he is truly a lovely person, an authentic man.

These days, watching his mind waste away, I am reminded more and more of his awesomeness. His love of all of nature from the night sky to the june bug. His ability to make friends with children. His enjoyment of having young people around. At night when he sleeps I hear him laugh. I hope that he is having a beautiful dream.

He is so darn smart that he still amazes me with his insights. He knows he is losing his mind. He tells me he can't take it anymore. I know exactly how he feels except for one difference. He forgets that he can't take it. I don't.

The little boy who just moved in next store comes to the door and calls "Mr. Chuck, you ready to take a walk?".  Chuck gets up and says "Let's go!"

I miss him. He looks at me with empty eyes. I help him shower and dress. He still shaves himself. I make him breakfast and give him his pills. I feel less than myself these days. I am starting to think that I really don't know who I am anymore.  Then I realize that he still is showing me who I am.

I have pulled out pictures of him to remind me who he was. I reread a love letter or two from the many I have saved. I sometimes even pretend that we really did get to take that trip to Greece together.

I am committing myself to this blog to help me start the healing process. I am alone and I am lonely yet I have an active life. I have lots of students and friends and family. People who love me and care for me.

I know there are so many out there in the sam situation. One woman told me she's feels so guilty because she feels like a prisoner. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Hint: The gate is not locked."

My hope is that I keep remembering that and opening the gate and stepping into my life fully and authentically, knowing that if Chuck could, he would accompany me on this journey. And, if he could, he would help me with my writing.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Free at last

As my spiritual guide, the Dr. Martin Luther King, has so profoundly said: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty, I'm free at last. Burst from the chains that have bound me, I look around at this marvel of creation and my heart swells with awe. Put another way, Spring is sprung, and the peepers are peeping, returning song birds are singing, the dogwood blossoms are open and ready for love. Today, the first Hummingbird arrived, just as the feeders went up, and the nectar is now officially flowing. The dogs of winter have been washed in the new water of mud and exuberance. The red buds have done it again, and the floods have been quelled for now. The wood-peckers are pounding away on the soft wood of rotten cavities, making way for eggs and the season of avian romance is coming close. Can the warblers be far behind?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Art of Being Cared For...

I never really thought about it...until I realized that it was ME...I think it is an extremely difficult role for most anyone to adopt...the care receiver can be very gracious, to the point of being cloying...or even self effacing...,or worse...there is always the potential for the "let me do that for you" response...which is really just one more slightly manipulative position on the continuum of positions one can take...and inevitably, friction will arise, because there is no way to maintain equanimity over the long haul. My first AA sponsor was firm on this point, and the only way to achieve authenticity is to be as brutally transparent as possible. Define, correct, define, correct, define, correct...there is no definitive position, but trying for "infinitely close" is not a bad way to go...for now, I will try for accuracy, and settle for (hopefully), doing no harm.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ten Ways to Kick-Start Enthusiasm in a Downturn

1.Be the solution.
2.You have already within you and your network of colleagues and friends, a vast resource.
3.Be an "idea bouncer."
4. Listen to children carefully.
5.Write and draw for no reason.
6. Display your work and believe that it is beautiful.
7.Be the first one to taste a snowflake.
8.Be faithful to your ideas, while all the while gathering more ideas for more grist
9. You can always wait to edit, but beware of the trap of thinking that you will always be able to pick up the thread easily. Even people without memory issues lose good content in the blink of an eye
1o. Snow melts fast. Be here now. Frustration and anger will inevitably dog your heels, so it behoves us to make friends with the enemy. Look for opportunities to embrace "AFGO's. (Another fcking growth opportunity)and enjoy the process of conversion from "Grinch" to "Mensch.