Posts Tagged ‘Dignity in Caregiving’

It was a privilege to give the keynote address on Dignity in Caregiving at the Hawaii AARP conference yesterday. The poetry writing workshop I conducted after giving the address led to very deep probing by caregivers. Those who have attended my sessions in the past are familiar with my one blade of grass  to get ink on paper. One caregiver discovered as she wrote, that her mother was the blade of grass.

Following is an email from Linda Nagata, a former caregiver- member of my poetry writing support group in Honolulu.

Aloha FOF (Friends of Frances),


It was my honor to attend the above conference yesterday and hear our favorite keynote speaker. Frances, in her boa, once again had the crowd spellbound.  You could have heard a pin drop in the conference room.  She read her poems and talked about caring for her mother -and even things I had never heard her talk about before.  It is always emotional to hear her, and as usual there were tears in my eyes.  Frances truly does a great service for other caregivers by letting them know what they are thinking, feeling and doing all have value. 


Frances inspired me to come home and read more of our poems from Breaking the Silence.  I still laugh over Elaine’s “More Glimpses of a Daughter and Mother”,and Jason’s always are so deeply felt and thought out.  It has now been 21 years since my mother departed.  Last night was the first time I was able to read my own poems and not cry.  Imagine – 21 years it has taken me to get to this point! At least I have reached it, and I consider that an accomplishment. 

Thanks Frances for all the encouragement along this bumpy road.


Care giving, as Linda points out, does not end when our loved ones are gone. Linda explains this in her poem written after attending our poetry support group.


Sensei (Teacher)

She came notebook and pen in hand

To lead me out of my morose state,

Encouraging, cajoling, insisting

Write, write, write.

Others spoke of current dilemmas, emotions.

I was stuck in the past —a dozen years gone by.

“Why am I so emotionally delayed?” my mind asked.

Then the wiser voice said, learn and move on.

Sensei says write, write, write,

Write about one small thing

I try to focus on one small thing

Dredging up the aged memories

Like buried garbage they are not pleasant,

Helplessness, anger, resentment.

Write, write, write

A miracle happens

The bitter emotions, softened, turn

Into acceptance and peace.

Write, write, write.

        By Linda Nagata: from Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice

Linda, after exploring her grief through poetry, left the group saying she was now ready to move on. It looks like she finally did.

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From : Watermark Publishing/Willow Valley Press

The following seminars and events with Frances Kakugawa are opened to the public:

Those with loved ones suffering from long-term illness and dementia don’t often speak of the toll caregiving takes on their lives. Many find it difficult to express their complicated feelings. “Alzheimer’s caregivers must cope with incredible pressure, constant anxiety, and difficult decisions,” says author Frances H. Kakugawa.

Her new book, Breaking the Silence: A Caregiver’s Voice, is a thoughtful and honest look into what caregivers face each day, her third title advocating the power of creative writing as a therapeutic tool for those with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other long-term illnesses. During her years as a caregiver for her Alzheimer’s afflicted mother, Kakugawa found that poetry and journaling helped bring dignity to the caregiving experience.

Frances will offer the following readings and workshops in May & June:

1. Breaking the Silence
Friday, May 20; 11:00am
Reading and book signing
Book Gallery
259 Keawe St., Hilo

2. Thursday, May 26; 2:00pm – 3:30pm
“Dignity in Aging” presentation
Aging & Disability Resource Center
1055 Kinoole St., Hilo
Call (808) 935-1144 to register

3. Saturday, June 4; 1pm – 2pm
Reading and book signing
Barnes & Noble, Ala Moana Center

4. Tuesday, June 7; 4:00pm – 5:30pm
“Dignity in Caregiving” presentation
Alzheimer’s Association Honolulu Office, Ward Warehouse, 2nd floor
Call (808) 591-2771 for more information

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