Sunday, March 13, 2016


One of my Brussels inspired pieces 2002

As an Artist I know that inspiration comes from many directions and sometimes when you least expect it. 

Years ago, a good friend and I took a train from London to Brussels for a quick weekend excursion.  Up until then, all I really knew about Belgium was that it was smack-dab in the middle of Europe and was famous for beer, waffles and some of the finest chocolate you could buy.  But what I found, and should have known, was that Brussels has a strong cultural heartbeat with unforgettable art and architecture.

We checked in to a hotel near the Grand Place, the most memorable landmark in Brussels.  While I waited for my friend to come down from her room I strolled through the hotel’s lobby, and that’s when it happened.  I turned a corner to find myself in front of a long (and I mean long) black granite wall.  (It must have been 10 feet high and 30 feet long, all granite.)  In the center of the wall was a sculpture; a monumental assemblage of wood pieces, objects that individually might be recognized for their simple utility, but collaged together became a fabulous, spellbinding piece of art.

I’m not sure how long I stood speechless in front of the sculpture, but it was long enough that people began to notice.  Someone from the hotel staff asked if I was alright.  Of course, I wasn’t.  I had just been entranced, hypnotized by this piece of art. 

When my friend arrived I babbled and stared at the wall, trying to explain how it affected me.  My friend managed to pull me back and we sat down while I tried to compose myself.  I didn’t want to leave, I wanted to remember everything about the piece, which of course was impossible.  I couldn’t wait to get back to my little studio and experiment with this style of sculpture.

That year I created several like sculptures, one so large it required reinforcement of the wall prior to its mounting.

Thinking back to the days I spent gathering objects, hammering, sawing, painting and arranging them into art (which I enjoyed far more than anyone else seemed to appreciate the final results), it got me thinking about how similar that process was to what it takes to create an exacting care environment for someone with Alzheimer’s.

I’ve said before that being a good Alzheimer’s caregiver isn’t just a job, it’s an art.   It requires much of the same dedication, resourcefulness, execution, and persistence that it takes to create art.  By that I mean just like the collage of the sculptor, there are little bits of this and pieces of that, trial and error in finding things that fit, and skill in applying them and knowing when you’ve gotten it right.    You can’t overthink it, or spend too much time worrying about what you should have done.   Because the next day when you start again, things will look and feel different and you’ll pick up the process at whatever point feels right.

I’m grateful that I have a mind that allows me to create.  I’m proud that I can feel empathy and have compassion.  And I’m happy to say that I continue to find inspiration to help us along our Alzheimer’s journey.

This week inspiration came in two forms.

The first was in the form of a national loss.  Nancy Reagan passed at the age of 94.  For ten long years, she provided unwavering love and devoted care for her dear “Ronnie” through what she called, “the long goodbye”.  She was a powerful advocate for Alzheimer’s research and remained, inspiringly, “First Lady of the Fight” to the end.

Bon voyage, Nancy.

The second inspiration was from a book titled, Somebody Stole My Iron, by Vicki Tapia. Written from the perspective of the caregiver, it is an account of the author’s personal journey caring for her mother and father as they descend into the sometimes bizarre world of dementia.  Poignant and tearfully humorous, Tapia captures their story with hope and courage while offering well experienced words of advice.  A good read.

So, I’m fueled up for the next several weeks which should get us through Spring Training and tax season.  It may not however, be enough of a stimulus to get me ready for swim suit season.  Maybe there shouldn’t be a swim suit season when you ‘re 67.

Oh, well.
Joe and I Spring Training