Exercise (or lack of) & Dementia


No matter what malady I’ve had over the years, (and I’ve had plenty), every doctor always mentions four words: “You need to exercise.”   I’ve come to believe that the most muscle-toned model of personal fitness could walk into any doctor’s office and hear those exact words; “You need more exercise.”  Even when my exercising contributed to the malady in question, I was told, “You need more exercise-but don’t overdo it!”

Now, I do like to exercise, don’t get me wrong.  I use to run, but my knees protest too much when I do.  I’ve turned to taking long walks each day and lifting some weights.  I am in a long and costly battle to maintain my waistline and the causalities have been many.  My doctors keep after me to exercise, but they’re all younger than me.  They haven’t learned yet what gravity can do to a person!

Lately I’ve been thinking about the coming of summer.  During the fall, and into the winter, I’ve been walking during the afternoon hours.  But it won’t be long and we’ll be into the heat of the summer, here in Texas.  There’s no way I’ll be able to walk in that heat.  They’d find me on the sidewalk, a withered and desiccated old man.  Or perhaps the blessed sand of the Permian Basin would just cover me over!

The problem is that I like to move slowly when I get up in the morning.  I have my routine; coffee, TV news, Cookie, dogs, meds, breakfast, and all of a sudden it’s noon or later!  Walking in the morning before it gets hot will put a sizable crimp in my schedule. Of course there are a couple of other options.  I could just give up the exercise, but my Doctor would catch on pretty fast.  After all, when I arrive at the office, the first thing they do is weigh me!  And speaking of that, why does their scale always make me heavier than the one I use at home?  What’s up with that?

I could also join a health club, and walk in the air conditioned comfort such places provide.  But then I have to pay for my exercise.  Somehow that seems incredibly wrong.  Call me cheap, but I’m not paying for exercise, nor am I paying for pain.  That’s something I can do to myself.


What a conundrum.  It appears the best option is get up before dawn and to hope for the best.  Or, I suppose I could become a professional mall-walker, but that would aggravate my aversion to shopping.  How in the world did my life get so complicated?  I haven’t made a decision yet, and I’m already worn out.  What would Jesus do?  I suppose he’d probably call on his disciple, the physician Luke.  I doubt Luke ever weighed the Son of God, but he did join him on his walks.  Hmmmm.

Traveling & Dementia


Sometimes you feel like a nut…sometimes you don’t

This past Tuesday I put on my clerical garb for the first time since I retired from St. Nicholas Episcopal Church back in July of 2017.  It’s hard to believe the time has passed so quickly.  In doing so, I discovered that my pants were a lot tighter on me than they were when I’d retired.  I had to kind of scrunch myself into them, by taking a deep breath or two; It was at that moment that the diet light started flashing on and off in my brain.

In my last blog I mentioned that Cookie and I were traveling to Abilene to attend my friend and former student Karen’s ordination as a Deacon.  As I thought about what to take with me, I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to wear, robe-wise, to the event.  This was rather disconcerting, as I had been to a number of ordinations in the past.  Rather than leave things to chance, I texted my friend Father Jim up in Lubbock, and he graciously provided me with the list of appropriate attire.

It was a beautiful service, and I am so glad we were able to attend.  Cookie was the designated driver, considering the distance we had to travel.  It wasn’t really a long way in Texas miles, but it was long enough for me to need a chauffeur.  My world is starting to shrink a bit, as a result of the dementia.  No matter, we had a lovely time, and got to catch up with lots of folks.  I was one of the presenters, which was a great honor.  There is nothing like an Episcopal ordination!

We stayed overnight at one of the local Marriott’s in Abilene, a very nice place.  We were in the car getting ready to head out on Wednesday, when I realized I had left my Kindle Reader in the hotel room.  I headed back to the front desk with a sigh, and was graciously given a new room key; I then successfully retrieved said Kindle.  Never a dull moment with dementia, everyday’s an adventure.

The increase in the frequency of these “senior moments” prompted my doc to up my daily dose of Memantine, adding a “patch” to go with the pills I take each day.  Hopefully, this will slow down the recent increase in the senior moments I’ve been experiencing.  It’s hard to believe, but there was a time in my life when I didn’t take medication.  Ah, for those good old days!

In the Biblical book of Sirach (Apocrypha), these words are written; “Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; and those who fear the Lord will find them.”  I am so grateful to all of you who are traveling with me on this journey.


Fr Dave



Senior Moments & Dementia

pexels-photo-172738 (1)Cookie and I have been pretty much home bound the last couple weeks, as luck would have it.  We’ve been waiting for said Cookie to recover from a sinus infection and all the joys that go with it.  Cookie’s pattern when getting a bug is to pretty much ignore it for a week to ten days.  By then she’s sick as a dog, and has to pretty much crawl to our Physician Assistant, Maurice, and get an antibiotic.  The antibiotic eventually kills the bug, but the nasty cough takes its time leaving her system.  I have learned over many married years, that resistance to her behavior is futile.

Since I rarely drive anymore, Cookie being sick means no traveling until the bug runs its course.  Thankfully, she’s finally healed up so we’re driving to Abilene tomorrow for my former student and friend Karen’s ordination as a Deacon!

I’ve been biding my time the last couple weeks by working on our 2017 tax return.  Having worked for a number of years for H & R Block, back in the day, I kind of look forward each year to doing my own.  There’s a few complications this year, retiring and selling a house and a lot of medical expenses, but nothing to write home about.  A routine return back in the day, with one major difference; I’m having plenty of senior moments.

Now most people I know have occasional senior moments.  You know how they go:  You’re looking at something and can’t remember it’s name; or even more embarrassing, you run into someone you know pretty well and can’t remember his or her name.  We all have senior moments as we age; the problem with Alzheimer’s and Dementia is the frequency of how often we have them.

For example, I can be talking with a family member on the phone and can’t remember their name.  I can see them clearly in my mind’s eye, but I can’t remember their name.  Its the weirdest thing, like having something on the tip of my tongue, but not being able to retrieve it.  When it happens at home, its not such a big deal, since there’s time to get a handle on it.  Unfortunately, I’ve had it happen in visits to the Dr. and over the phone, and the details get all mushed together.


I’ve been training myself to always stay in the moment.  Distractions seem to cause more distractions, and more senior moments.  I have found my prayer time to be more relaxing, as I’ve gotten accustomed to this particular technique.

Still life is a challenge.  I spent some time on the phone with a nice man from the Marriott, trying to update my member card.  In the midst of updating my email address from a former e-mail address (from the stone age), it took me five times to correctly communicate my current email address.  Five times!  I’m sure the guy was doing his very best to control his laughter, or perhaps rolling his eyes as he waited so patiently!


Fr Dave


Dementia & Romanticism

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads for the fold-out greeting cards on Facebook, or on some other venue.  The ad I saw from “LovePoP” featured a “3-D” card with a tree, that when fully expanded, featured many cut-paper green leaves.  The tree got my attention, as my wife Cookie loves pictures of trees.  The card also featured a pop up bridge with a couple holding hands.  I thought it was kind of romantic, in a guy sort of way, so I ordered one on-line and waited for the card to arrive. 20180115_163726

A few days ago I was working at my desk, when Cookie walked in all smiles.  She was holding the said card, and said, “I was looking at a picture of these cards and I was trying to figure out where to order one.  I think they might have sent me one as a trial offer.”  I responded with just a few words; was your name on the envelope?  She then went and checked the torn envelope and said, “It’s addressed to you.”  I replied, “Yep, it was supposed to be a surprise!”  And then I said my usual reply when such things happen:  “Cooookieeee!”

All was well though.  She loved the card, as I knew she would, even without my name.  And, if it had come to me, I would have written something on it, most likely in a sloppy way.  That has been one of my surprises with dementia, that it interferes with my handwriting; somehow the communication between my brain and my hand has been disrupted by the disease.  The number of checks I’ve had to void the past few months is pretty amazing.

But, I’ve still got the romantic touch.  I think the tree card was the present she enjoyed the most this Christmas.  Not a mention from her of the card coming late, and not being under our Christmas tree.  I think I’m golden for the time being, and guys, I can live with that.


Father Dave







Christmas & Dementia



Joseph, the guy we sold our house in Midland to, stopped by earlier today.  He came bearing a gift of a large pile of mail, which had gone to our former address.  In the stack was a number of Christmas cards, a bill from an ambulance service in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and several items of junk mail.  I’d wondered why our normal pile of Christmas cards was so much smaller this year; I realized I had neglected to send out change of address cards in the fall when we moved to our new place in Odessa.

This was the second time that Joseph had delivered mail to us, driving all the way over from Midland.  We couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to purchase our house.  The dogs gave him a big welcome, as they tried to run out the front door.  They were unsuccessful, as Cookie was playing her usual position of goalie.

This was my first Christmas season with Dementia, and it was different.  Our three foot indoor Christmas tree is still lit up inside, and our outdoor lights continue to shine.  Our friend Joseph’s kind delivery of the mail served to extend our Christmas season, which liturgically ended yesterday on the Day of The Epiphany.

In our rather frantic society, it seems fewer people understand the Season of Christmas doesn’t end immediately after the celebration of Christmas.  But I shouldn’t be surprised; the stores are already changing over to Valentines Day and the Season of Easter.  They forget, or more likely have never been taught, that Mary and Joseph didn’t rush home with their baby.  They were still in the manger, several days later, when the Three Wise Men arrived with their gifts.

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I forget things fairly often due to my Dementia.  My “senior moments” occur fairly often.  That being said, I have not forgotten the story of God sending his Son into the world.  I can still, as the old hymn goes, “tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.”  In this new year we have entered, I pray that you will, in your own unique way, learn to tell it too.


Fr Dave



Christmas & Dementia

20171220_185349-1.jpgPeople occasionally ask me how I’m doing with my dementia.  Or, more specifically, they ask me what Dementia is like.  My responses have evolved over the last few months, but here’s the gist of it:  Dementia is like having an annoying roommate move in with you.  A roommate who never leaves the house and who’s extremely hard to get along with.  The kind of roommate who can never be evicted, even though he pays no bills, and always leaves a mess.  The kind of roommate that thrives on creating both problems and  confusion.  And when you leave the house, the roommate always travels with you.

Once moved in, Dementia never leaves.  Some days are better than others, but in the end, Dementia never leaves.  Medication helps a bit, but Dementia eventually defeats them all, as ones’ memories slowly fade away.  The shock of the “official” diagnosis begins to fade, and one must come to terms with their Dementia, in order to get things done.

Our Christmas project this year was to put Christmas lights up outside.  It had been a number of years since we’d done so, since we were always busy with our church.  We made our pilgrimage to Home Depot for several strings of lights.  But the really different thing we did this year, is that we put all the lights up on our backyard fence.

That was a first for us.  Our Christmas lights had always adorned our front roof, front door and windows.  But this year, we  moved into a duplex with a large common grassy area behind us.  A fair number of our neighbors are older and we got a lot of compliments.  And even better, our dogs haven’t chewed the cords and turned into glowing reindeer.  It’s a Christmas miracle, despite the darned Dementia.

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Even better, the folks that reside in the nursing home and Alzheimer Unit across the way can see them out their windows and enjoy them just as much.  Perhaps they relive their Christmas memories, while gazing at the lights.  Sometime down the road, I’ll very likely be where they’re at; the lights are nothing fancy, just a reminder that the light of Christ shines always in the darkness.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!






Remembering and Dementia

Awesome pic, pre-Goetz House

Our house now has a brand new roof, and there’s a blissful quiet.  The roofers are still working in our hood, but they’ve moved on to other streets.  Thankfully, the dogs are back into their normal routines of opportunistic barking.  We made it through our roofing day by giving the dogs some mellow meds, and the medicine did the trick.  Our sanity was preserved through the miracle of chemistry!

As I’ve watched the roofers working  during the past several weeks, I was remembering a conversation with my mother.  I was home from college for the summer, and she was driving me to work.  It was one of those hot and humid summer days, in the City of Detroit.  I was complaining about having to go to work in a stifling, un-airconditioned factory.  My mother listened to me whine, and then quietly responded, saying “There is honor in all work.”

I’ve never forgotten what my mother said on that very warm summer morning.  I’ve had many different jobs since those days; some that I’ve liked, and some that I haven’t.  But I’ve not forgotten what they each have had in common.  Each job, big or small, was always filled with honor.

It’s been really hard for me to experience not working.  I’ve always had some kind of job, and often I’ve had two.  Some paid well, and some not so much, but my working became a habit.  It’s been hard for me to accept that those days have been ended by my Dementia.

But there is honor to be found in other places, and in other folks.  And our country needs that honor now, more than ever.  Honor is not something that can be attained by one’s political persuasion.  Nor can one buy honor, though many have tried to do so.  Honor does not come from being in a political position; honor comes from humility, and how one serves in that position.

I have been privileged to know many folks of honor.  They have taught me many things, and have made me so much a better person.  But the words that my mother taught me on the way to work never go out of style.  Whatever job you find to do, do it so you may know that in humility there is great honor.