Midnight Caller

My mother wants a phone. “If I only had a communication device,” she laments. It’s become her daily mantra.

She misses grasping the receiver, hearing a familiar voice on the other end. For years, the landline was her lifeline. It kept her company when she stopped driving. It reassured her I was alive. She rehearsed conversations, cleverly scripted to prove she was normal while Alzheimer’s stripped away her identity.

She struggles to come up with the word, but she remembers the comfort a phone represents. Besides church, it’s the only thing I wish she’d forget.

I hate phones. Robocalls aside, I prefer my conversations face-to-face. Even though I visit her every day, she forgets. My efforts to refocus have failed; I finally caved.

And so, the dementia-friendly phone patiently waits, ready to unleash fear-laden midnight calls upon a sleeping daughter.

That Which Doth Not Kill Me . . .

It’s inevitable, living in the Valley of the Sun and working out. Even with pre-dawn runs, shorter morning swims, 50SPF and twice annual skin checks, it happens.

It’s easier when it’s an injury. As a marathoner, I’m used to them. Injuries force you to rest, reminders that you literally cannot take a pain-free step.

My recent surgery—removal of a squamous cell on my shin—is different. I’m not allowed to exercise. Even when nothing hurts. “Nothing to elevate your heart rate,” my dermatologist cautions. “The stitches must heal.”

Now the enemy is not just the sun, but exercise.

Two weeks of no workouts feels like forever. I’m restless as a caged animal. Exercise reenergizes me, inspires creativity. Self-pity tunnels me deeper into my head. So I’m forcing rest and gratitude. Things could be worse. And two weeks isn’t forever.


“She’s my very best friend,” my mother said. “Friends are important.”

Other than Edie, her closest friend in grade school, I’ve never known my mother to have a girlfriend, let alone a “very best” friend. She’s never been chummy with other women, a self-professed seeker of solitude. But finding a best friend in the very place I worried she would never adapt to?

Almost as startling as her disrobing in the care home parking lot after our walk down the greenbelt yesterday.

Mom’s acceptance of this new world continues to shatter my expectations. I worried she’d never join in. Last week, she led a gardening activity, helping other residents plant marigolds and marjoram. I worried she’d want to go back to Maine. Now, when I take her out to lunch, she can’t wait to return to her “house.” And her bestie.

Did you know:  Loneliness could be as dangerous to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?