Back In The Habit

Update on Noni

To those of you who regularly read my blog I must apologize. I took a very long hiatus without saying anything. It’s been months since I wrote with regularity and I wish that I could say that it was because I was busy doing something important.

There is no reason. I keep telling myself I don’t have time to write, but I often find myself wasting my time away doing things that aren’t as gratifying as my writing. I had build up some great momentum posting and had I continued it I might have been scores further than I am now.

Life gets the best of us all at times though, doesn’t it?

I have had a million ideas and simply not sat down to write about them. I think I’m getting to the point where I need a functioning tablet or laptop so that I could easily start writing wherever I am.

Just like Whoopie Goldberg in the second Sister Act movie, I’m getting back in the habit!

Well enough wasting time discussing what I haven’t done. Let’s discuss what I have done.


I recently went home for the holidays. Those who’ve been reading for a while know that to me Boston will forever be home. I go every year for the Christmas week, and this time I got to spend a whole 10 days in town. I spent lot’s of time making memories and taking photos. Seeing the family. I’m sure I will revisit my trip more than once.

I have to take a moment to say that I’m incredibly blessed that my Grandmother is making slight improvements. This is not common in most people with Dementia/Alzheimers. She has started feeding herself again which that alone was surprising to me. Once people lose that ability they don’t ever get it back. Not only is she feeding herself but she is eating slightly more solid food again. She’s chewing and able to eat little pastas and soft foods again. So she’s put on a little more weight and looks much healthier than the last time I’ve seen her.

I went for lunch with a friend of mine (a conversation I will revisit deeper in another post.) One thing we discussed is that most people never have a grandparent in their life at all. In fact, after further research, I found out that only 1 in 5 people ever get to spend time with a grandparent. I only ever really knew my Maternal Grandmother but I spend most of my life with her. She is my best friend and to this day I am closer to her than any of my siblings.

When I was in town my Grandmother remembered me. She had a hard time recognizing my face but when I said my name she immediately called me by the nickname she always called me by. Gino. “Gino!” she said louder the second time with a big smile on her face. She grabbed my hand and held it to her cheek and smiled. She doesn’t speak english but I will translate for you.

“[You know you’re like a son to me right?]” I nodded. She doesn’t realize I’ve moved to another state. It’s one of the blessings of her Dementia is she doesn’t get upset I’m gone. When I’m not around she simply thinks I’m at work. Whenever I fly back to Missouri I just tell her, “I’ve got to go to work today but I’ll see you soon.”

I am so blessed to have her still. Working in a nursing home I’ve seen countless people that get this ravaging disease and within a year, sometimes far less than that, they go downhill so much that they pass. My grandmother has been fighting her Dementia for almost 20 years now. Physically she is in fairly good health. So she may have years more to go.

It is often asked of me “How does she look?” because I’m not around every single day so the changes are more noticable to me. For the first time since moving I was able to say “She looks better!”

Her face has rounded out and her eyes don’t look so sunken. She smiled a lot more and even ate snacks. She loves her Hershey Kisses now and every meal is followed by three Hershey Kisses.

My grandmothers favorite treat.

I made the mistake of only giving her one and she made a disgusted face. “It’s chocolate, don’t you want it?” I asked. She made another disgusted face and shook her head NO “[No…that’s…it’s only one.]” and she made the disgusted face again. I unwrapped two more and she smiled and nodded and plopped one into her mouth savoring it. Then she turned to me and winked.

Christmas Eve in an italian house it is customary to eat at least 7 fishes. It’s primarily a night of nothing but fish and seafood and we certainly do go above and beyond. There’s 10 of us but we make enough food for about 40 people. My grandmother asked what would be for dinner that night and I told her fish. “[hmmm…Fish on Christmas eve? Who does that? That can’t be right.]…” She said as she continued on mumbling to herself.

At my house we did Fried Smelts, shrimp 2 ways, stuffed lobster, stuffed clams, mussels, baked baccala, baccala salad, octopus salad, crab cakes, fish cakes, fried scallops, and probably a few more I’m forgetting.

We thought about making her something else for her to eat since she sounded like fish was completely out of the question when suddenly she chimed in again “[Wait! Fried fish and baccala*! Yes! That does sound right! Ignore me I’m going crazy. Yes, let’s do fish tonight!]” Suddenly she was right back on board. It appears that she’s coming and going but shes speaking so much more than the last time I was here. I count it as a blessing

When we gathered around to open gifts on Christmas morning she seemed confused. She was given the first gift and after opening a new robe, she furrowed her brow and said “[No…I don’t want this.]” so we laughed it off and put the gift aside. Sometimes the only thing you can do when caring for someone with this disease is laugh. We continued around opening gifts and suddenly she turned to my mother and said “[Wait! I understand what’s going on now! We are giving gifts to each other! I remember this! Ok, yes give me another one!]” and just like that she was back in the habit.

I couldn’t have asked for a better gift. I pray she will live a lot longer especially when she’s doing this well. I have to finish getting ready for work so I’ll end this post here, but know I’ll be back to write again soon.

*Baccala is a type of salted Cod. In my house we use the word baccala for both the salted type and for fresh cod.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s