Through the Windowpane

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part;
but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

Clearing the Fog in Nursing Homes? Things Grow Curiouser and Curiouser.

After almost two years of caring for my 90-year-old father with Parkinson’s, I’m starting to wonder what drug he was given that caused him to totally zone out and land him in the hospital, dehydrated and so drugged up that the hospital doctor thought he wouldn’t come out of it for ten days.  It didn’t really dawn on me until lately that he was totally abused or is this a common practice in nursing homes?

It was this incident that has changed my family’s life forever. We’re blessed to be taking care of Grandpa at home, but it has come with a great price. I want to know what drug he was given and WHY? That one act has altered my life and the lives of six other people, especially Grandpa’s. Things grow curiouser and curiouser.

Grandpa during his nursing home days.












Grandpa at home after being taken off of Benzatropine which gave him dementia.


Staring into the Fog

I am supposed to be working today, but I can’t. My mind is in a “PCF” better known as a “Parkinson’s Caregiver’s Fog.” The last 24-hours have been a roller coaster of emotion as I try to wade through the quagmire (difficult situation: an awkward, complicated, or dangerous situation from which it is difficult to escape) of trying to figure out how to come up with an additional $600.00 a month for Grandpa’s medicine.

I talked with a very kind young man at the VA who told me all the forms I need to fill out to qualify Grandpa for aid and assistance. I wonder how long it will take (I’ve heard up to six months) and if he will even qualify or is he is over qualified? That is the question. There are a lots of papers to fill out and I have other pressing responsibilities.

Wading through the quagmire – ugh! Glad God wears heavy-duty waterproof boots!


Personal Training with The Muffin Man

The human spirit coupled with The Holy Spirit – the will to face your limitations courageously and find creative solutions – that’s   what I’ve seen in Grandpa. It’s taken a lot of courage and creativity for him to do as much as he can by himself, and humbly rely on family to do the rest. Still, with the many debilitating limitations Parkinson’s brings, Grandpa manages to find joy.

The need to take responsibility for his own health comes from a strong drive within, and I constantly find myself astounded by his positive attitude which transforms his limitations into possibilities. For anyone who faces physical limitations (or limitations of any kind), Grandpa is truly an inspiration.

There are only a few exercises Grandpa can do by himself, but for him they are essential. If you have always been healthy and not suffered any personal handicaps, you would fail to see their significance. Yet, these “small” routine efforts mean everything to Grandpa – and to us his care givers, because they give him a sense of independence and fill his day with purpose.

For instance, after taking his “power nap” after breakfast, Grandpa is helped out of bed and up onto his walker. From there he shuffles (some days fast, some days slow) off to the bathroom to do his “muffins”- a 500 step-in-place “mini-exercise” at the bathroom handicap bar. One day, he just added this newly invented exercise to his routine, which he nick-named after the kneading action cats make with their paws.

Muffins are one of the few exercises Grandpa can do on his own. He works out daily on an all-in-one home gym, which he has to be helped on and off of, but “muffins” are his own invention. And since necessity is indeed the mother of invention, Grandpa’s need to “do” for himself led to the idea of pulling himself up and out of his wheel chair onto the handicap bar, step in place at in‌intervals of 50, and sit  back down again when he needs to rest. Muffins usually take him about a half hour, and I know the whole family is glad that he can do them by himself.

After he is done “making muffins,” Grandpa wheels himself backwards to the sink and gives himself what he calls “a cold water facial.” A cold water facial consists of patting his face and neck with cold water, wetting his hair down, and brushing it back into a “Will Geer-Grandpa Walton” hairdo.

“Where does he come up with these names?” Claire asks.

“I don’t know,” I reply, except we both agree, Grandpa is from another era – the golden age of Hollywood and all it’s glamor. The older he gets, the more sentimental he becomes, so the term “cold water facial” probably came from one of those classic Claudette Colbert/Clark Gable movies or an Ivory Soap commercial from “way back when.” Whatever the case, Grandpa’s senior jargon is charming.

Another exercise Grandpa does on a daily basis are vocal exercises, but you won’t hear arpeggios or scales emanating from his bedroom. No, instead you’ll hear a 90-year-old’s quiet but gusty version of “On an Old Rugged Cross” or “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Whenever Grandpa’s vocal cords start to lapse into a Parkinson’s whisper, he stretches them out by singing the great hymns of the ages – vocal exercises for body and spirit.

Faced with limitations? Think of them as springboards for witnessing God’s creativity. Pray and ask Him to show you a solution you haven’t  thought of before. You just might find a new way to exercise your faith in a God who is limitless with inspiration and solutions – some of them seemingly small, but life-changing. You’ll never know until you pull yourself up to the bar and start doin’ “muffins.”

Hidden Treasure

The first flower to emerge out of last year’s curled and decayed leaves was a snowdrop. A single bud blossomed on the first day of spring and lingered for a couple of weeks like a miniature ambassador heralding the long-awaited season of rebirth and growth.

As winter storms subsided and the sun began to warm the earth, we searched and waited. Would we be fortunate enough to see the delicate paper-thin petals, or be disappointed – as in years past, when we had missed the unpretentious pageantry altogether?

Then Elizabeth spied the green leaves sprouting among the silvery weather-beaten remnants of last fall’s foliage.  She ran into the house and announced that a snowdrop had finally arrived. “Is there more than one?” I asked, knowing how few there have been in the past. “No, there’s only one,” she said. One, I thought. Well, thank you, Lord, for that one!

The little girls waited patiently over the long winter months for the warm days to return. And with every bud, flower, or bug they discover, they hurry to tell me about their new-found treasures, as if seeing them for the first time. The caress of the warm breeze on their cheeks, the soft grass underfoot, and the promise of green growing things makes spring their favorite season. Once again they are free to run and enjoy the simple pleasures of God’s creation, unencumbered by bulky coats and mittens. They can breathe, and feel, and be a part of the world of nature around them as it is born anew.

I am reminded by the girls’ sheer delight in a humble snowdrop that, I, too, can rejoice over the gifts that God gives daily─gifts that remain hidden from view if I let the child-like wonder for life stay buried underneath the remnants of old thought patterns and decayed thinking. Sometimes we adults have to force ourselves to push upward and out of the dirty soil of everyday routines to receive the gifts that our heavenly Father wants to bestow upon us─hidden treasure He lavishes upon those who have eyes to behold the “One and only God” and whose delight is in Him.

For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
And discover the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 2:3-5



copyright 2008-2011 by Jill Novak
All rights reserved.


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