Monday, October 10, 2022


This is Snoop, my brother's new(ish) dog. Snoop is about eight months old and is a very energetic puppy. He can't stand it when we're all sitting together and not paying attention to him. He'll come up to my chair with one of his toys in his mouth and beg for a game of tug-of-war, which he plays with wild abandon, growling loudly the whole time.

He's not even at an age where he can be petted very easily because he just doesn't want to sit still. He'd much rather be gnawing on my hand. (And I'm under strict instructions not to allow that. You may remember my brother's previous dog, Queens, did the same thing and my brother still accuses me of ruining the dog by tolerating it. At least Snoop hasn't broken my skin, whereas Queens used to leave me with scratches from her sharp puppy teeth.)

Queens had a good life but unfortunately she developed lymphoma and only lived about three years. It was a freak thing -- very unexpected and very sad.

Here's Snoop on our walk yesterday. He's actually more proportional than this photo suggests -- I think it's just the angle of the shot that makes his head look so big and his body so skinny. My brother is saying that he wants to fatten him up a bit, but Snoop is in the gangly pre-adolescent stage.

We visited my mom yesterday morning. She's now living in a nursing unit, following a springtime bout with flu that left her with diminished mobility. She was sitting in a wheelchair but she seemed happy, laughing and smiling. One of the other women on her floor said that Mom, who is 85, is always so friendly and has a contagious laugh, so that's good to know. She has no idea what day or time it is, or even where she is, and she can't really talk except to say "No!" now and then, to be honest I'm not entirely sure she knows who I am -- but she just rolls along with all of it. Some dementia patients get angry and some get frustrated but Mom has always just been giggly.

I suppose that's a blessing in a bizarre way. As I've told my brother, she's like a TV set to a non-broadcast channel. Her screen is on but there's only snow. Of course I miss being able to talk and communicate with her but overall, at the risk of sounding cruel, I feel pretty matter-of-fact about it. It is what it is. It's hard to imagine that just five years ago we were having conversations and going out to eat and even going to Savannah.

I also ran some errands with my brother and spent time with my nieces. My younger niece, Kate, is in fourth grade and obsessed with Warrior Cats, a popular book series about clans of feral house cats. There's a web page with some art tools, and together we designed our own Warrior Cat:

I know, it looks a little like Carmen Miranda. Carmen Meow-randa, maybe.

It was also my sister-in-law's birthday and we had some vague plans to go downtown and have a drink somewhere before JM (my brother) made steaks for dinner, but in the end the drink never happened. Well, not downtown, anyway.

We watched the early '90's movie "Point Break," with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, which I'd never seen and don't even really remember being released. It was OK.

And at night we watched "The Breakfast Club," which of course I love, being precisely that generation. I think I saw it about ten times in the theater when it came out during my freshman year in college.

I had such a crush on Emilio Estevez.

Oh, and of course we went to Publix, because I'm in Florida and that's what we do when we need groceries.

This was for sale at the checkout. Sometimes the world really confuses me.


gz said...

Good to do family stuff.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Is Publix to Floridians what Buddhist temples are to the Bhutanese? Perhaps George Washington Jenkins Junior is your earthly god. How strange to find your mother in a giggly nether world - almost like a stranger.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I have tried to leave other comments but have been thwarted so I am now giving up on the task.

Jennifer said...

Snoop is a cutie! Too bad he can't meet up with Poppy. They could run off some of that crazy puppy energy together!

It's good that your mom is happy and cheerful despite the dementia. That wasn't always the case with my mother-in-law, and things are so much worse when the patient is angry, frustrated, and anxious. It sounds like she's being well cared for, which is the most important thing.

Boud said...

It sounds as if your mom's as well as can be in the circumstances, not anxious. And you really plunged into family things. Such a flying visit.

Colette said...

I'm glad you are having a good time with your family. You are a good son, by the way!

Bob said...

I'd have a hard time telling Snoop not to gnaw. i mean, that's what puppies do.

Ms. Moon said...

Is Snoop's last name Dogg?
He's a cutie.
I know it's strange to see your mother as she is now. I'm glad you can be accepting and the fact that she appears to be happy helps, I am sure.
I sort of love the farting animals coloring book. I mean- it's ridiculous, of course, but everyone farts. Even tortoises, I suppose.
I hope that you're enjoying as much of this trip as you can. At least it's not burning up hot.

Ed said...

I can't believe you have not seen Point Break until now. It already has been remade, seven years ago, but the remake wasn't very good. I guess I enjoyed the original one although it wouldn't make my list of favorite movies. I always like the ending where he makes the decision to let Body go surf the impossible wave.

Ellen D. said...

My daughter's puppy is 5 months old and does that nipping at the hands thing. We hope she grows out of it when her baby teeth fall out.
I am glad your Mom is happy and well-cared for. I'm sure you must appreciate your brother for taking charge of your Mom and the care she needs. It is not easy to see but like you said, it is what it is. My Dad had Alzheimer's and we were lucky that he was calm and quiet.

Vicki-Texas said...

So I’ve been reading your blog for some time. I enjoy your walks with Olga. I’ve used you as a travel agent in Michigan. My husband,golden doodle and I have taking the carriage tour on Mackinaw Island, watched a freighter go through the Soo Locks at Saul Ste Marie, and dining today at the Backwoods Bistro in Lincoln. I’m not sure we’ll have ice cream in Au Gres because temperature is 35 degrees.

The Bug said...

That second photo of Snoop reminds me of The Mask (the Jim Carrey movie). Ha!

I'm glad your mom seems content. You're right about other people with dementia seeming angry and acting out. I wonder if it's the type that she has that makes a difference?

ellen abbott said...

Cute puppy. I'm glad your mom seems content. Makes the decline easier to watch I guess. And no, I don't think your pragmatic attitude about it all make you sound cruel. Decline and death is what awaits us all.

NewRobin13 said...

I'm glad you got to spend some time with your mom.
Snoop is such a cute puppy. Makes me want to get a puppy!
I LOVE that coloring book. We're going to order one today for one of the grandkids who will appreciate this so much.

Sharon said...

Okay, that book made me laugh out loud. I would find that confusing too.
I'm glad you got to see your mother and I'm happy to hear that she appears cheerful and content.
Snoop is adorable. What fun to play with a puppy.

e said...

I'm glad you are spending time with family.

Kelly said...

Snoop is really cute and I can totally relate to the gnawing and exuberance. We took in two more strays recently (Fred and Grady) and they behave in the same way.

It's good to know things seem well with your mother.

Pixie said...

Snoop dog, too funny. I'm glad you got to visit your mom and that she's giggly, much better than angry and combative. Sigh. It's awful watching those you love decline.

As for that fart book, that's my kind of book:)

Wilma said...

Warrior Cats sound like fun. I will check on that link. Seems like a good visit.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I’ve experienced the often angry people with dementia. What a blessing that your mother is not. Snoop is adorable. I agree with your brother about not encouraging the gnawing on your hand. So sad about Queens. I loved Breakfast Club, although never had a crush on any of them... except Molly Ringwald. But that wasn’t really a crush. Never have seen Point Break. I guess I won’t bother.

Mary said...

I believe that coloring book was simply political advertising of Florida Republican candidates. A gaseous and noxious crowd. :)

Margaret said...

Farting animals, wow! That is an interesting coloring book. :)

John Going Gently said...

Snoop is all head

jenny_o said...

Giggly is much better than the alternatives and it's not wrong or cruel to be accepting of what lies ahead for your mother. Dementia takes away the person as we knew them and death can be a release for patient and family. I like your analogy.

Snoop is a cute little guy; looks like he might grow up to be a big guy. And I bet your nieces consider you the fun uncle :)

Breakfast Club was a movie I didn't see until I was older as I was raising little kids in that decade, but once I saw it I loved it. I still feel like a teenager inside and it's very appealing to that part of me.

Debby said...

There are things which simply can't be changed. Alzheimer's is one of them. It is a slow and steady path to a foregone conclusion. The best that you can do is to accept with grace whatever blessings are to be had. Snoop is cute, although that picture startled me. Enjoy the rest of your visit.

Janie Junebug said...

Farting animals at the checkout in Publix? I'm surprised parents haven't noticed it and made a fuss. I'm glad your mom is giggly. That makes the job of a caregiver much easier.


Red said...

And then there's
Walter the Farting Dog, a story for kids.

Elizabeth said...

I missed that you've come to the States for a family visit. Welcome back! I think your approach to your mother's dementia is sensible and entirely understandable. I know from good friends' experience that being in the present with your mother, fully accepting where she is and going with it is the easiest road. I imagine your Buddhist training helps you a lot, and you must be a calming presence for all your family.

River said...

Snoop will fatten up on his own once he gets past the playing puppy stage. I hope I don't get dementia, but if I do I hope to be giggly/happy. My parents didn't get it, but they died early, in their 70s, from cancers.

Steve Reed said...

GZ: Yes indeed

YP: Thwarted by what? I'm not causing it, I promise!

Jennifer: Yes, we are very lucky that she's expressing herself through laughter rather than rage. I wish I knew what was going on in her head and how much she understands.

Boud: Yes, it was primarily to see my mom, so this is all very family-focused!

Colette: Well thank you. I feel bad for living so far away but it is what it is.

Bob: It's more a matter of channeling the gnawing, so he focuses on toys and not on my hand!

Ms Moon: Apparently the name came from the shelter, and believe it or not I didn't even get the Snoop Dogg connection until now!

Ed: Yeah, I don't know how I missed that movie, to be honest. It's not like I wasn't seeing movies at that time in my life.

Ellen D: I certainly do appreciate all the work my brother does to manage Mom's affairs. From Medicare to insurance to taxes, it's all very complicated.

Vicki: Wow! I'm honored you're following in my footsteps through Michigan! I hope the Backwoods Bistro (which is managed by my partner Dave's sister, Dawn) was good!

Bug: It's a really weird picture but I think it's just the angle. The dog doesn't really look that strange. Ha!

Ellen: It does indeed. It's the way of the world.

Robin: He's cute but he IS a pain in the neck. I hope the kids like the coloring book!

Sharon: Don't tell Olga I'm cheating on her!

E: It's good to see everyone! Too bad I can't get down to Tampa but I'll be there at Christmas.

Kelly: At least Fred and Grady must be able to keep each other busy! Snoop would benefit from another puppy to romp with.

Pixie: I can't believe I didn't connect the Snoop Dogg reference until now.

Wilma: Warrior Cats are such a thing for kids nowadays. It's a huge series of books written by Erin Hunter, who as I understand it is really multiple people (kind of like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series we grew up with).

Mitchell: Well, yeah, I wanted to BE Molly Ringwald, which is something different. :)

Mary: Ha! Good one! Maybe the next coloring book should be called "Farting Politicians."

Margaret: Where do people come up with these things? But here we are, all talking about it, so I guess it's effective marketing.

John: It looks like it in that photo, but he's really not. He's just lanky.

Jenny-O: I do feel like Mom is basically gone. This person we have now is her shell, but it's not really her.

Debby: It's true that amid the misery of dementia there are little joys and unexpected moments, always a welcome surprise.

Janie: I know! Seems like some people would object. I wonder if the checkout clerk thought I was going to post it to Facebook and raise a ruckus.

Red: Not to mention "Everyone Poops!"

Elizabeth: It's interesting that you connect it to the Buddhism. In a way I think my mom is in a very Buddhist place. She's not mindful, but she IS living in the moment. I think time must come and go for her with very little retention or worry.

River: Absolutely. If I have to have dementia (and please God no) it would be better to laugh and giggle than to rage.

Jeanie said...

Now that's definitely an odd coloring book. I'm so glad you are getting time with your mom -- that's so precious and so important. And that she loves to laugh.