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Love Letters to My Friends

Saying thank you to those that have made a difference during a time of need

By Rick Henry ChristopherPublished about a year ago Updated 12 months ago 13 min read
Top Row: Matt P, Gwen F, Laura J / Middle Row: Irene E, Brian S, T-shirt from Roxana Roxana

Also check out "Dementia and My Mom"

Love Letters To My Friends

I am the 24/7 caregiver for my 85 year old mom. She is completely blind and has advanced stage dementia. She is incontinent and seems to always be constipated and seems to always have a urinary tract infection.

I gave up my full-time job and have not had a steady paycheck since January 2021. I am at home caring for my mom 100% of my time. I do not have a social life. I can't just get in my car and leave whenever I want. My sleep pattern is interrupted and I am tired all the time. The stress of dealing with a person this sick and the emotion of seeing my precious mom deteriorate in front of my eyes has affected my blood pressure - I have consulted with my doctor on this one and we have it under control..

I am doing things I never dreamed I'd be doing nor do I enjoy doing such as changing my mom's underpants, digital disimpaction, spoon feeding my mom, cleaning the snots out of her nose, poking her finger to test her blood for glucose levels, and a number of other things I'd rather not be doing.

During all this my brother passed away in January 2021. He was my partner in caring for our mom. When he died that left me alone to care for her. My whole world was turned upside down and to this day I feel a sadness and emptiness within me that just won't go away - I miss my brother - he was only 58.

But here's the deal, she is my mom and I love her. I believe that one shall honor their parents. This is how I am honoring my mom; by giving everything up for a few years to ensure that I am there to comfort her and give her love during her time of extreme need, sickness, confusion, and sadness. I can handle this.

My mom is so deserving of this. She has been a good and nurturing parent my entire life. She has always been a giver of the utmost degree. She would give food to the homeless regularly. She did volunteer work at food banks and other organizations. She had a special place in her heart for the homeless and the very poor. My mom was born into a dirt poor family. She was the only one of five sisters to work her way out of poverty. My mom never forgot where she came from.

Now, see I have taken on a huge responsibility. Though, with any huge responsibility this is not being accomplished alone. I have built a village of nurses, doctors, social services advocates, caregivers, and most important friends.

I want to take this time to thank a handful of friends that have been here from me not just once but continually. Each of these friends have helped me in various ways and I will put an emphasis on the one thing that stands out with me most about each friend.

I am using first names and last initials only - if you are on this list - you know who you are. Alphabetically by first name. The date after the name is the year I met each friend.


Audrey C (1993)

I am so honored to have the opportunity of being friends with Audrey. Currently (Feb. 2022) she is 89 years wise. She is one of my closest friends and has been one of my best sources of support and information. Back in the day Audrey was a nurse. She has been my go to person when I want a second view on what my mom's nurses are telling me. Many times she affirms what the nurses say and sometimes she adds an extra layer or dimension to the information given to me from the team of nurses caring for my mom. Audrey's friendship has been invaluable to me. Mostly, Audrey has been a supportive friend. She listens to me when i'm confused, angry, sad, and the ocassional happy. Audrey understands my situation firsthand as her very own sister is dealing with advanced stage dementia. Her sister is also blind. We both are dealing with nurses, hospice, caregivers, county, state, and federal assistance programs. She and I can relate on so many situations with a deeper understanding of each others concerns. Audrey is also an extension of our good friend Papa Jimi and we often speak his name - that somehow comforts me to talk about all the fun we (Jimi, Audrey, Lisa R, and I) had.

Brian S (2007):

Brian has helped in many different ways, doing dishes, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, dropping off mail, etc. So, what is Brian's legacy? This is it, the thing that really made a difference were the time he brought over a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza (from Pizza Shack - seriously these people have the best pizza in town). He and I sat in the hallway outside of my mom's bedroom (so, I could be close and keep an eye on her) and ate this fantastic pizza and drank some red wine. That was a ton of fun - good food, good laughs, and one time even my mom got in on a slice of pizza and she loved it. Love to you my friend... you are the best.

Chuck S (2008):

Chuck provides escape for me. He and I usually text each other a few times a week. usually links to obscure music from the 1970s and 80s. We usually get on the phone once a week and talk about, you guessed it, music... and Chuck's various adventures in Santa Barbara including restaurants he frequents, people he sees on his daily walks and so forth. Thank you Chuck for the escape. Love to you my friend.

Gwen F (1985):

Wow, where do I start? Gwen has helped so much that I must mention two things in her legacy. Gwen was the first friend to jump onboard after my beloved brother passed away. She started coming by every Thursday to pick up my grocery list and would do our grocery shopping, she did this for about three months - that's some real deducation. She also did dishes, cleaned my mom's bathroom, delivered our mail and best of all spent time talking. The next part of Gwen's legacy was my birthday. I had a small birthday party for my 62nd birthday on December 29, 2021. This is something I did for myself. I needed a little something for me. I invited 10 friends. Seven of my friends ended up cancelling and did not make it to the party. Gwen was one of the cancellations. But the great thing is... a few days later Gwen came by the house with all my favorites - an enchilada casserole, potatato salad, Spanish rice, and a beautiful birthday cake. We had a fun two person birthday party with "Happy Birthday" crowns and all. Did I mention how delicious the cake was. That second birthday celebration with Gwen made my day and my year. Thank you Gwen... you are like familia to me. I love you always and forever!!!

Irene E (2009)

Irene has been there for me through the thick and thin. When my mom first went to the hospital back in November 2020 and Covid restriction were heavily enforced and I wasn't able to get into the hospital to see my mom. If she weren't blind it would not have been as big of a deal. I felt so alone for her. I did call everyday and she sounded so confused and so scared but when she heard my voice on the phone that gave her a few moments of comfort. Irene took the time to get on the phone and call the hospital and others to find out if there was a way around the covid restrictions so I could get into the hospital to see my mom. She really gave it a try but there was no way around restrictions. In all the ways that Irene has been supportive the most important has been monetarily. Week after week Irene has contributed to assist me financially. Whenever I publish one of these Vocal Media stories Irene always leaves me a generous tip. Irene's generosity does not stop there. Through a very generous bequeathing Irene set my mom and I up financially for an entire year. This act was completely above and beyond anything I ever expected from any of my friends. Irene's gifts of monetary generosity have been much needed and have been put to good use. Thank you Irene for you immense kindness. Much love to you always from both myself and my mom.

Jose D (1984)

During this time Jose has been very considerate regarding my situation and that goes a long way. But the one thing Jose has done is he sends me links to rare Pink Floyd videos and other curios. Jose knows how much I love Pink Floyd and those links he's sent me have provided moments and hours of relief and escape. Thank you Jose for providing these ever important moments of escape. I love you!

Joyce P (1981)

I have always felt this very special bond for Joyce - one that defies reason or maybe even logic. But somehow interactions with Joyce mostly since 2012 have verified this bond. Joyce had been a constant rate n my life from 1981 until about 1990. She and I lost contact for about 22 years. Then in 2012 we reconnected via her sister on facebook. On January 31, 2021 three things happened within seconds of each other. First, just before noon, my brother Chris passed away at the young age of 58. Seconds after my brother takes his last breath my Mom calls for me,"Rick, where are you?" I run upstairs quickly to find her sitting on the edge of her bed and her entire body is shaking. I'd never seen her shaking like that before. I quickly got her onto her wheel chair and wheeled her out the room to take her to the hospital. Just as we got to the stairs my phone rings and it's Joyce. This was odd of Joyce to call on a Sunday as she usually would call during the week making her commute from one job location to another. She said to me that she didn't know why but she felt compelled to call me. I told her Chris has passed away just this moment and my mom is having an extreme panic attack and i'm taking her to the hospital. Joyce broke into tears. She knew my brother pretty well. After that Joyce became a constant in my life again. We began speaking on phone once or twice a week every week and are still communicating as such. Joyce has been a great source of information, suggestions, and ideas that helped me to care for my mom and get by financially. Along with the resources Joyce has led me to our conversations have been a source of escape for me as we also spoke about politics, music, old friends, and shared a few laughs here and there. Thank you Joyce for what you do for me. I am grateful and I love you dearly!

Laura J (1984)

Has been a dedicated friend. She has stood by my side during this entire journey. She has driven 60 miles to be here and help out with my mom and she is really great with my mom all the way around. But the thing Laura did that impacted me the most was when my mom was in the hospital with Covid, urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and bladder infection. My mom was very sick and I wasn't sure she would make it. This was in January 2022. She was in the hospital for eight days. Because of Covid I was not allowed to visit my mom. I was not in a good way. Laura called me every day. Once in the afternoon and once in the evening. a few of those evening phone calls lasted from 4 to 5 hours. I needed those phone calls, they kept my mind from going to a dark place that could have been potentially harmful to my psyche. Thank you Laura for those phone calls. You really made a difference in my life at that time. I love you!

Matt P (1978)

Oh boy, Matt is another heavy hitter in this journey. For about 9 months now Matt has been coming by the house every Monday (there was a short break in December and January). But every single Monday and he shows no sign of saying, "That's it Rick, i can't do this anymore." He never cancels - my mom and I can always rely on Matt. When he is here he helps with all sorts of chores: he collects our trash, does the dishes, waters our lawn, lovingly holds my mom's hands. Matt also spends time with me. We often talk about our good old Licorice Pizza days, we'll talk about music, all the things I go through caring for my mom, things in the news, and so forth. Matt has been a true hero in my life. Thank you Matt. I love you my friend and my boss!!!

Roxana R (2015)

Roxana is my friend from Home Depot. She's a fantastic kitchen designer. Roxana and I became friends immediately. From day one she was keyed into my sensitive side. She soon came to know just how important my mom is to me. Roxana has been a major source of support for me. The times that my mom has been in the hospital, over this past year, Roxana would be there for me by sending texts of encouragement every single day. It was such a relief for me to read the quotes and look at the photos she'd send. Throughout all this Roxana has sent me many thoughtful gifts. The one I love the most is a black t-shirt with a colorful design and lettering that says: "YOU CAN'T SCARE ME, I AM A CAREGIVER, I'VE SEEN IT, SMELLED IT, TOUCHED IT, HEARD IT, STEPPED IN IT." That t-shirt is my pride and joy. Thank you Roxana for being such a thoughtful friend. I love you my friend.

Troy W (2007)

Troy is our roommate. He has been so helpful in many ways. He does our grocery shopping and helps our mom. But the thing that makes the biggest difference is he collects the trash bags from my mom's bedroom, her bathroom, and the kitchen everyday. It's amazing just how much that helps by simply disposing our trash. Thank you Troy. Love to you my friend.

We all go through a journey in life that will forever change us. I am experiencing that journey right now.

I am sharing this song by Donna Summer called "Love is the Healer" because I truly feel that with love the impossible can be accomplished. Love can move mountains. Love can heal. I'm on a mission of love and I will move those mountains - even if it is just for a short time.

I dedicate this next song to the eleven friends I toasted in this Love Letter and to all my friends including a few not in the main article: Russ I, Dionne L, Anna D, Sherry R, Cindy M, Larry and Carolyn H, Suzi R, Rodger P, Johnny B, Rhonda S, Paul B, Josephine C, Todd F, Stanton W, Corey M-M, and many others I just cannot name them all... But this song goes out to all my friends...

Thank you for taking this time to read this tribute to my cherished friends!!!


About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

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