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Archive for the ‘Dignity in Aging’ Category

Morning Shock Waves

 

Who is this woman

In my morning mirror?

Who let this old

Japanese woman in?

 

I have fallen in aftershocks

From devastating earthquakes –

Aftershocked from broken romances –

Rear-ended crashes .

Avalanched by human cruelty –

But never, never, such

Aftershocks of this mirrored truth.

Get her out of here!!!

 

Frances Kakugawa 9-17-19

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Suddenly Alzheimer’s Disease is given prominent space on television and in our news media because a famous person’s mother has Alzheimers’. There are thousands of us who have and are living this life without fame, without the finances, without the help that is given to caregivers.  We live without recognition but  live with compassion, dignity and love, caring for our loved ones. They deserve more recognition than those in the public eye. They deserve all the assistance needed in caring for someone every hour of the day. There are families who depend on Meals on Wheels, need scholarship programs to participate in adult care, have no health insurance, can’t afford professional caregivers, but their humanity of knowing what it means to care for someone with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia and illness is constant behind the scenes, behind cameras.  We are insulting the caregivers who are not Dr Oz or any of the public figures. I have worked with caregivers for over 20 years since my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and I hope we do not forget families who live outside the public eye. Why aren’t they the breaking news of the day? I sympathize with Dr. Oz’s mother but I applaud those who are the true heroes of our Alzheimer’s world.

Dr Oz, you are invited to join us at our monthly poetry writing support group for Caregivers at the Alzheimer’s Office in Sacramento.

Frances Kakugawa

Frances conducts workshops and lectures on helping caregivers give care with compassion, dignity and love. Her books on caregiving are:

Mosaic Moon: Caregiving Through Poetry

I Am Somebody: Bringing Dignity and Compassion to Alzheimer’s Caregiving

Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice

Wordsworth Dances the Waltz: an illustrated book for children on memory loss

Her Dear Frances advice column for caregivers appears monthly in the Hawaii Herald

 

 

 

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I met Margie in Denver a few years ago when I was invited to her book club meeting to discuss my book, Kapoho: Memoir of a Modern Pompeii. At that meeting, I signed my book Dangerous Woman: Poetry for the Ageless,  to Margie: a fearless and dangerous woman, I inscribed. Like many books I’ve signed, that autograph often  becomes the only connection of that moment and thereafter.

Today, I received a call from Jill, who had hosted that Denver meeting. Margie is dying and on Sunday, she will take her final cocktail with her family nearby. Last week Margie hosted a Celebration of her Life party for friends and family.  Jill made her final visit today and Margie told her how she wished she could speak to me once more; that she had always loved being called fearless and dangerous. She, I was told, lived without any organized religion.

I called her, not knowing what to say but leave it to humor, it saw us through.I told her I had called to help celebrate the life of a fearless and dangerous woman and she laughed in her very strong voice.  I asked her a favor, that wherever she is going, will she save a place for me, not any old place, but a place with a recliner with a mink stole. She laughed and said this she can do. We ended our call with our love and she said, “I’ll see you later.” I ended our call with “I’ll see you later.”

I hope I can do it with humor when it’s my time.

Afterthought: Now why didn’t I read her a poem?

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At the post office, an elderly man with a cane and I approached the door at the same time and I opened the door for him. He thanked me, put his back against the door and let me in first. I thanked him. Yes, ladies first.

Leaving the post office, a young man tried to enter as I was leaving. He  opened the door and entered, closing the door into my face.

Walking into the Alzheimer’s Office, I saw a caregiver and an elderly man with a cane coming out of the office. I opened the door and the caregiver walked out. The elderly man exchanged looks with me and I got his message. He held the door open for me, a bit unsteady on his feet,  and I walked in, thanking him. Yes, ladies first. I saw his caregiver waiting by her car.

After a business lunch in Hawaii, my host walked me to the car and opened the door for me. I told him,  “I can’t remember the last time someone opened a car door for me.”  When I was in high school, I asked one of the boys to open the door and he said, “What? You cripple?” But we forgive boys in high schools, don’t we?

We speak in fear of what the electronic world is doing to humanity and how invisible we are becoming.  Are these men I mention the last disappearing act?

 

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(My  advice column for caregivers called Dear Frances that appears monthly in the Hawaii Herald was written by Wordsworth, my little mouse poet this month.)

 

June 2019 Dear Frances,

Dear Readers,

Frances is away from her desk, giving lectures and book talks in Hawaii so I volunteered to do the column. I’m Wordsworth the mouse poet from four of her children’s books. At  first she was skeptical until I reminded her that  in all of my  books, I resolve human problems through poetry just like her. So please stay and read my column.

I’m still dancing the waltz after Patrick Toal, Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in Hawaii made me a mascot. My job is to visit schools and libraries to teach our younger generation about memory loss and how to live with our elders with compassion, dignity and respect.

We already visited libraries in Kohala and Hilo and will be flying to Maui and Molokai soon. If you want us to visit you, please call your Alzheimer’s Office or get in touch with Frances.  I would like to visit schools.

Frances and I did some work with students from Kindergarten to Middle School in Honolulu and will share some of their poems.

But first, let me brag a bit. I was in the Merrie Monarch parade in Hilo. I think I saw some of you waving to me. At first I felt a bit insulted when children began to shout Chucky Cheese at me. Luckily, Patrick Toal,  showed them my name and for the rest of the parade, I heard “Wordsworth! Wordsworth!”  What a relief.  Have you had someone call you by the wrong name?  Not good.  Hey Frances, have you ever been in a parade?

Here, I’m dancing with waltz as I did with Grandma in my book.

 

WW dancing 2

 

The children we visited are wonderful. They draw pictures, write poems,  play games and talk story about their grand or great – grand parents. They are preserving so many good memories. Some of the children are confused about the changes that happen after their grand or great-grandparents get dementia. That’s where I come in and show them what is really happening. Once they understand what dementia does to our brains, they are less confused and fearful. But you know all about this and why it’s important that we don’t isolate children from our loved  ones no matter what stages of dementia are at hand.  If they are given  truthful information, they are able to handle ailments and changes.  And you’ll be surprised how aware they are of our elders.

I like the story of a young mother who said her two pre-school children are like me and are teaching her how to be a better caregiver. After they heard my Wordsworth Dances the Waltz, they told their mother, “Why do you talk so mean to grandma?” Wow. Their mother said she respected her children and they have become her teachers. She told them, “You are like Wordsworth, keep reminding me when I talk mean.”

Another mother shared how her two young grandsons taught her how to hang loose and laugh instead of getting so stressed out. When their grandpa wore his pants inside out, their grandma began to get stressed and upset because it meant more work for her. Before she could change her husband’s pants, she heard her grandsons and husband laughing. Her grandsons had told Grandpa, “Hey Grandpa, you made new fashion.” And they all laughed and let Grandpa wear his new inside out pants.

Sometimes, our young children know exactly what to say and do so we need to leave them alone and let them become our teachers.

Here are some poems written by  6th  and 3rd graders when Frances was their teacher. I left their names out to protect their privacy. Please note how aging, dying and death claim their thoughts a lot and how poetry helps to express them. Too often we try to be silent in these areas, thinking we need to protect our children but listen to them here. Except for the last poem, they were written by sixth graders.

Grandma

 

Grandma is a beautiful name.

I know she didn’t go to hell.

I know she went to heaven.

My grandma, a humming bird on a branch.

 

***

 

My Grandfather

 

I don’t know why God wants to take him someday.

He’s not old, he’s not young.

But he’s been good to me.

Please God, don’t let him die.

 

I don’t know why

We are born

If  we are going to die.

 

 

***

 

Aging

 

An old woman sits by the fire.

Quietly she drapes her old tattered shawl

Across her shoulders.

A drop of rain lands on her cheek,

Like a tear.

 

An old tired work horse

Limps to the barn.

Then a young excited horse

Trots to the plow.

Soon he, too, will limp.

***

 

My Grandmother

 

While I think of my grandmother

Lying dead in a coffin

Under the ground,

I feel a tear drop on my arm.

Why did she have to die?

I love her.

I didn’t even get to say

Good-bye.

 

 

***

 

My Grandmother

 

My grandmother is like

A stale piece of bread,

I feel sorry for her

Now that she’s almost dead.

 

As she limps down the dark road,

She looks wrinkled and so old.

I wish my grandma was young again,

Like a freshly baked loaf of bread.

 

 

***

( When Geof wrote this, he shocked himself and put his head down on his desk and kept saying, “Miss Kakugawa, Miss Kakugawa, this is so bad. Oh, this is so bad. I said my grandma’s like a loaf of stale bread. I can’t believe I said this.” After Frances  read the poem, and  told him, “This is beautiful. This is what poets do, using metaphors as you did  with the loaf of bread,.” he was pleased to know he had written a good poem and allowed it to be published.)
****

Photographs

 

bring back memories

more and more each time.

if they are of grandpa

I look at them and cry.

I see his light blue coffin

going

down

into

the

ground.

 

 

***

 

Old Bird

 

The old bird sits there

Ready and willing to die,

Weeping with its last song.

 

***

This last poem was written by a third grader:

Memory

 

Oh, sadness comes to me.

I feel like a puzzle being apart

Into a hundred pieces.

Sadness of a memory

That I don’t have.

I don’t have the memory

Of my grandfather.

He was gone

Before my mother was born.

I wonder…

 

If he were here,

Would he take me out

To From the Heart

And buy me erasers?

Would we talk together

And have a good time?

I wonder what name

I would call him.

 

 

3rd grade

 

***

 

This was enjoyable, doing the column for Frances.  You can send me comments and questions through Frances or directly to me.

 

I have my own email address: wordsworth@bookshawaii.net

You can also check me out at my own FaceBook. https://www.facebook.com/WordsworthThePoet/

Maybe if you fill my mailbox with letters and questions, this column will be called Dear Wordsworth. Oh, oh, hope Frances doesn’t read this.

By the way, do you know how she sent me from Sacramento to Hawaii? In a Fed EX box!  My head was all squished. I hope after all this work I’m doing for her, my trips to Maui and Molokai will be on first class. Maybe you can suggest this to her?

Aloha, readers.

Wordsworth the Poet

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I'm honored, Scott@Graying With Grace for the following honor.
I can't figure out why the print is appearing so tiny.


Just wanted to give you a heads up that  https://franceskakugawa.wordpress.com 
has been featured in my Top Caregiving Blogs Awards post.

Here's the URL: https://www.grayingwithgrace.com/caregiving-blogs/

Congrats and keep up the awesome work you do for the caregivers of 
seniors, the elderly, and disabled!

Have a good one!

Scott @ Graying With Grace

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Registration is requested. We cancelled the last session due to lack of interest and later discovered, many didn’t register. Numbers are needed for room set up and hand-outs.Sac flyer 2019

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