Thursday, April 19, 2012

“Stop to Smell the Roses”

Koi has the right idea!

         I took for granted the little pleasures of life. Don’t we all? Before my mother’s disease invaded our daily routine, I spent hours out in the back yard watering the flowers. I’d sit with journal and pen or the latest best seller and piddle endlessly on my tree swing. I’d chat with my neighbors for half an hour or more by the mailbox or over the fence. I could jump into the car whenever I wanted, run to the store or a mall, or grab a bite to eat. In the evenings, I’d watch television, listen to music, or talk on the phone with friends without a single interruption. If a friend called and invited me out, I didn’t think twice about heading out the door. If someone dropped in unexpectedly, I knew I could have a block of time to visit without stopping to see to someone else’s needs.
         Huntington’s Disease robs the entire family of so many little pleasures. We are now my mother’s legs and often her hands. She’s still able to feed herself, but pulling the covers up when she’s chilled at night or fixing her pillow “just right” challenges her now. Taking a walk around the block requires a major pep rally to innervate Mom into the desire to leave the house. Her weekly trips to favorite restaurants have diminished to a once-a-month outing. If she doesn’t feel up to strain of a car trip, she may forego the excursion and opt for us to bring take-out to her. Recently, we’ve seen more personality changes in Mom. When her insomnia hits, she angers easily. During these endless nights, if one of us doesn’t use a cheerful tone of voice with a smile on our face, she’ll go into a tirade about us “neglecting” her even though we’ve stayed up with her hour after hour. Her brain, desperate for rest, misfires into obsessive compulsive actions, paranoia, and pure meanness. I refuse to feel guilty because I’ve lost my temper at two in the morning and yelled at my mother to go to sleep.       
         During the last three years I taught, I often went into tirades at misbehaving students. Sometimes, I may have “acted” with more anger than I really felt, but I’ll admit that my temper flared frequently. Since I’ve left that horrible teaching situation, I’ve regained my sense of balance. I rarely lose my temper. On days where Mom’s needs seem endless, I mutter “patience, patience, patience” and I remind myself that it’s easier to be selfless for someone you love.
I find myself resenting the loss of my time—and my freedom to do what I want, when I want. I do not resent my mother, but I hate the disease that takes, and takes, and takes. So some days I try to venture out into my gardens, and I take a moment to appreciate the beauty and little pleasures so HD doesn't win.

One rose out back

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Righteous Anger”

because you yell the loudest   
divide and pontificate with provocation  
you lay claim to justification    
you demean those who disagree    
through a false sense of superiority    
you lash out with vindictiveness    
choosing to injure and belittle    
you suck others into your fallacies    
with endless word manipulations    
you deride and insult    
to defend your flawed and mistaken reasoning    
you rationalize your anger and hatred    
by looking at everyone    
but yourself    
you are mean    
you are cruel    
you love no one    
this is your failure    
your loss    
your inability that wounds    
your harshness that kills    
your unhappiness that warps and destroys    
so scream out your      
righteous anger    
louder, louder, louder    
until you become hoarse    
until fatigue forces you to pause    
until you must be silent    
then listen to the echoes of your loneliness    

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Will He Love You When"

Will he love you when your youthful days flow into twilight years?    
Will he love you when your sense of humor sharpens into jeers?    
Will he love you when your butt’s too big for your favorite chair?    
Will he love you when your vision’s gone and you don’t see him there?    
Will he love you when your hair turns white and wrinkles line your face?    
Will he love you when your waist grows thick and your teeth fall out of place?    
Will he love you when your perky breasts droop down below your knees?   
Will he love you when your sexy voice becomes a husky wheeze?   
Will he love you when you clasp his hand and give him your whole heart?    
And will you love him when he ages into a bald ol’ fart?   

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, April 16, 2012


Patience boldly strides into my home each day   
            her bright and eager smile lights her face   
                     her positive energy enervates me with determination   

Patience counsels me as I move through the house   
            she whispers encouraging words   
                        she guides me with her optimistic perseverance   

Patience models tolerance to me   
            her composure fortifies my flagging spirit   
                     her humility reminds me of the gifts of love and care   

Patience walks back and forth endlessly   
            she matches my steps when I long to stop   
                        she inspires me to stay calm and nurturing   

Patience loses energy by midnight   
            her serenity slips and falters with fatigue   
                        her gentle smile becomes feigned   

Patience slips out of the house before daybreak   
            she trudges, head hung in shame, out the door   
                     she mumbles a promise to return recharged     

I eagerly await her next arrival . . .   

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Sunday, April 15, 2012


         Brain shattering headaches forced me into bed this week. Usually, I don’t suffer from allergies, and I rarely succumb to sinus infections. In the past, if I felt sick everything went to my throat. I don’t know if the fluctuation in pressure or a nasty virus caused my head pain, but by Friday morning I could barely crawl out of bed. I cried crocodile tears when I begged David to take the day off. I felt too ill to care for Mom.
         As soon as David put in for the day off, I downed Tylenol and Benadryl. This combination, without fail, will knock me out for at least four hours. My Friday consisted of waking up long enough to drink hot tea, down toast or PB & J, swallow more Tylenol and Benadryl, and then retreat back to bed. I surfaced briefly around four o’clock while David ran some errands, but otherwise spent the day asleep.
          Yesterday, my supply of medications dribbled down to only a few pills left. I suggested to David that he pull out the first aid kit from the bathroom cabinet to see if it contained any ibuprofen. He carried the entire case to the bed, and my eyes focused on the little packet labeled “Aspirin.”
         “You know,” I mused, “I haven’t taken aspirin in years. Maybe I should try a couple of tablets.”
         Within thirty minutes, my headache vanished!
         I followed the dose with a couple more pills every four hours, and this morning I woke up feeling almost normal. I definitely don’t have the hung over sluggishness that Benadryl leaves in my system.
         In recent months, I’ve found myself returning again and again to the old “tried but true” remedies of my childhood. I sent David out to Walgreens for a bottle of Bayer to replace the depleted Tylenol. When I placed the aspirin in the medicine cabinet, I realized my cabinet now contains only Vaseline, hydrogen peroxide, Tom’s toothpaste and Tums. I’ve recently tossed out expired OTC medications and chosen to replace them with fewer items as I move more towards a simplified life.

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman