Dancing in Heaven by Christine Grote: Inspiration Touches Home

I wanted to share this with you because I feel very validated that Terry Petersen not only really got the message I was hoping to convey in Dancing in Heaven, she was able to express it.

terrypetersen

Be who you are. / Give what you have.  (Rose Ausländer )

 I watch my precious six-year-old Ella in Occupational therapy as she threads the letters to her name through a fluorescent green pipe cleaner. She recognizes the letters—she has been reading for more than a year. But she struggles through fine motor skills exercises because of her small hands and shortened fingers. typical for persons with Down syndrome.

At times she breaks away and puts on a show, her head between her knees, a look-at-me-I’m-cute expression on her face. I remain calm without reacting, showing no censure. Only what I hope is a you-can-do-it look. The OT is in charge. And she encourages Ella. With both experience and love.

And I realize how much I treasure my granddaughter because another image of someone with handicaps far more severe, appears in my mind. Her name is Diane…

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Arthur almost gets a squirrel

Arthur just might be able to catch a squirrel, if it is a baby squirrel.

I found that out this morning.

Mark and I were sitting at our kitchen table after breakfast where we have a view of our driveway and the garden and woods beside our house. Mark was reading the news on his iPad and I was playing Lumosity, trying to keep my wits sharp, and not doing a very good job at it.

“Arthur doesn’t even see that squirrel,” Mark said. Arthur, who was in the near vicinity of a squirrel on the driveway. He never allows a squirrel to be in the yard without a chase. If he’s inside looking out at the squirrels, who scavenge bird-feeder droppings on our front porch, he starts barking. “Do you want to get the squirrel?” I’ll say. And Arthur races for the front door, taking the turns around the staircase on three legs. He’s never going to catch a squirrel, but he doesn’t know that.

This morning, I couldn’t see Arthur on the driveway from where I sat, but I could hear him barking. I stood up, went to the door, and saw this baby squirrel on our wind wall post.

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“Oh no. Arthur’s got the squirrel trapped,”I said. I thought it was cute because I never believed for a minute this would end with a satisfying result for Arthur, but he was revved up by the chase.

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I did what I always do, reached for my camera, stepped outside, and started shooting.

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This clearly wasn’t good enough for Arthur. He was going in.

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So close. Just not….quite….close….enough.

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Meanwhile, the assumed parent squirrel could only wait and hope as he or she watched from a nearby tree.

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Arthur darted in and around the post trying to find a way to access the squirrel. Clearly this baby was terrified.

That’s enough, I thought. I’ve got to get Arthur away.

Easier said than done. There was no way this undisciplined little canine was going to come when I called. I was afraid to approach the squirrel for fear it would panic and get itself into a more vulnerable position. That was exactly what happened.

It jumped to the bushes, fell to the ground, back to the bushes, back on the post, then repeated with Arthur inches behind it. Finally the squirrel gave up on the post and tried to make a run for it. Arthur chased it behind the bushes beside the house. The squirrel passed by a tree that could have saved it, and continued on to the porch with Arthur and me, my camera dangling from the strap around my neck, in hot pursuit.

Arthur had the little guy cornered against the wall of the porch. And I could see all the games we played with his toy squirrel had trained him well for the darting, pawing, and biting he was attempting.

I didn’t think, but merely reacted when it looked like Arthur had his prey. I lunged for Arthur and landed full force on my bad knee on the cold hard concrete, banging the lens of my camera against the concrete in the process. But I bought the squirrel enough time to make it to the boxwood bushes where the chase continued. I watched helplessly, sitting on the cold concrete, yelling for Mark.

Mark came and had no better luck than I at grabbing Arthur, but much better luck at not injuring himself during the chase. Finally, the little squirrel jumped to the tulip tree at the corner of the house and achieved relative safety. Mark helped me up and eventually managed to lure Arthur away from the hunt with pieces of cooked chicken.

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I didn’t know if Arthur had injured the baby squirrel until I saw it a few minutes later with the parent.

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Baby looked fine as far as I could see. Arthur was never thanked by the squirrels for his role in the valuable lesson in vigilance, awareness, and evasion. And I will be icing my knee today.

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Two excerpts from Where Memories Meet

Christine M. Grote

Today marks three years since my father’s last birthday, his 80th.

Where Memories Meet is two stories in one book. It is my memoir of losing my father to Alzheimer’s, and Dad’s account of the defining moments of his life. My story begins at the end of Dad’s life and proceeds backwards in time. Dad’s narration begins with his birth and moves forward in time. Eventually the timelines, or the memories meet. 

These two excerpts concern Dad’s birthday. The first is his account in Part 1: “The End (2013) & The Beginning (1933).” The second is from Part 2: “The Last Year (January 2013 to January 2012) & The Early Years (1933 to 1950)”

Jerry with his parents 1933JERRY
January 18, 1933

I came in on the 18th day of January 1933, at 715 Manier Avenue, Piqua, Ohio. My Aunt Agnes said that my dad’s mother, my Grandmother Smith, insisted on naming…

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The Face of Alzheimer’s

I thought you might be interested.

Christine M. Grote

“What made you decide to share your stories as memoirs?”

“What helped you, hindered you in telling your story based upon your truth?”

“What is your main “takeaway” for your readers?”

These are just a few of the questions I answer in Kathleen Pooler’s interview. Kathy is the author of Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse (that I reviewed here). She posted another insightful interview on her blog at Memoir Writer’s Journey. Kathy’s doing good work over there. Of course, the interview was with me, so I might be a bit partial. Or not. You decide. Read it here.

And when you’re finished over there, I hope you’ll visit Cynthia Robertson’s blog where she reviews and is running a GIVEAWAY of a print copy of Where Memories Meet. Enter by leaving a comment here.

“Grote has a talent for spot-lighting the sort of…

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Fort Jackson and Columbia, S.C. in 1953

Christine M. Grote

As my father tells in his narrative in Where Memories Meet — Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s, he was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when he was first drafted into the army. While he was away from home serving in the US Military, he sent photographs back to my mother.

Leather photo albumShe inserted them into a leather photo album that Dad had hand-tooled and sent to her.

Working on leather purseI’m not sure exactly when this photo was taken, or where, but it shows my father working on a leather purse to send home to my mother.

Here are some photographs from Dad’s time in Columbia, South Carolina: at Fort Jackson, in town, and on a trip to Myrtle Beach. Mouse over a photo to see the caption. Click on a photo to see a larger version, and a manual slideshow.

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Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary

You may already be acquainted with Sue Dreamwalker’s blog. Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary. Her byline is “A Sanctuary for Enlightenment and Peace through Poetry and Inspirational Thoughts as we go through Life.” I often leave her posts feeling uplifted in some way.

I wanted to share her blog today because she recently posted about a topic near and dear to my heart: spiders. You may have read my Facing my Fears – Starting Small. A couple of days ago, Sue’s blog post, All Things Connect, features of all things – spiders and their webs. She has some terrific photos of stunning spider webs that she saw in her garden plot. So  I think reading and sharing this post is a step in the right direction for me as I try to face my fear of spiders.

But mostly, I also think that an appreciation of how all things connect is a pathway to a better life, world, and maybe universe.

Sue is also an incredible artist and a visit to her blog is a feast for your eyes. Enjoy.

Where Memories Meet is now available

Christine M. Grote

I am pleased to announce that Where Memories Meet—Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s is now available as a print book and Kindle at Amazon, and in other formats at Smashwords.

Thirty-three years ago today, my parents drove from Dayton to the Christ Hospital here in Cincinnati to meet our first child, and their first grandson. I dedicated Where Memories Meet to my children and their children. Although I never planned it so, I think it is fitting, and somewhat serendipitous, that I managed to launch this book on this particular day.

If you are kind enough to purchase and then read Where Memories Meet, I hope you will “Like” the book and leave a short review at Amazon. A sentence or two will do. It is a big help to me.

If you have comments or questions you’d like me to answer, please do so here.

Where Memories Meet Cover

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