As I have aged I have discovered how important it is to walk my talk. My words mean nothing if I don’t live them. My life has been driven by my words, converted from my thoughts that, admittedly, have changed throughout these years.
And so on this Valentine’s Day, the one following nine long years of caregiving where I have truly learned the meaning of ‘love,’ I consciously, on purpose, walked my talk, and followed the motto that is on every page in this site, that is the theme of my life.
Do something each day to make others smile and your heart sing!
In keeping with the story I wrote yesterday, Little Love Letters, today I created little heart messages, printed them and cut them out. I took thirty with me to the grocery and pharmacy on our bi-weekly outing we have been limited to during the COVID pandemic.
I put some on shelves, others on top of canned goods, and cookie packages. I placed the four inch paper heart into grocery carts where no one was around at the moment. I gave them to the pharmacist team, to the cashier and assistant who bagged my few things. In the parking lot I slipped one into the pocket of the boy pushing the carts back into the store. I put one in the hand of the young man monitoring how many customers had gone in and out of the store, another practice resulting from distancing requirements during the coronavirus period.
It was interesting to observe those who did see me. Suspicion was evident on their faces. After all, I was wearing the protocol-required COVID mask, plus a winter coat with a scarf wrapped up around my neck. I did not know most of the recipients and they certainly did not know me. One pushed my hand away, another looked at the paper first and began not to take it, although she did in the end. One saw the heart on their egg carton and looked around to see where it came from. One thanked me. Two women put them in their pocket ‘to take home’ to their family.
I, on the other hand, felt rather giddy. I felt what my sister called ‘tee-hee happiness’ doing something so much fun. “A flashmob of one” she called me. I did not sign the hearts. I just cautiously watched others turn a glum face into a smile. THAT felt really good! It made my Valentine’s Day much more special than any I could remember. I will probably do something similar another day…another holiday, another excuse to make people smile.
It was fun. I encourage you to find a way to do something that gives you “tee-hee” happiness.
Each day, do something that makes others smile and your heart sing!
Shared love can be with anyone, not just between caregivers and loved ones! I ‘received’ lots of love this week and it felt good! Let’s all spread some love!!
While cleaning out my desk used for over thirty-five years, I uncovered an old leathery piece of history. I knew by the zipper around the edges of this once loved, soft, brown find, with the colorfully embossed school images, that I was holding my one and only autograph book.
Immediately, my thoughts shifted to friends from elementary school who wrote on those pages sixty-eight years ago. It was a different time and place I have seldom returned to since. I even had a flashback of a high school friend signing her name. Here was a real treasure.
Surprised to see it, I stopped cleaning and started remembering. I sat on the side of the bed and carefully unzipped the book. There in pencil, on faded and brown smudged pages, beside a small sticker of a camp I had attended two summers, I had written my name in cursive. I had noted it had been a present for my eleventh birthday from a new friend, one I remember being in my life until our family moved to another place.
A small gold and purple card fell to the ground, a reminder of a high school moment in October 1959 when I was chosen Panther of the Week my senior high school year, a warm memory. I put it between the back pages and read on.
It was fun to bring up memories of the sweet young friends who had signed their names, who had inscribed little sayings they had learned, or even had written personal notes, or their personalized poems.
“Roses are red, violets are blue….” …Sugar is sweet, and you are too. Or …Sugar is sweet, and I love you. 💖 Or …You love Jim, and I do, too. Or …I like pecans, and nuts to you.”
And then, “Down in the valley carved on a tree, are two little words, “Remember me!””
And, “I’ll be yours ‘til Russia fries Turkey in Greece and serves it on China to the US.” These were not likely political thoughts then, but just fun words.
Most entries were signed with full names, in various degrees of their cursive evolution. Some added a ‘closing’ remark, like: “Your good pal,” or “Your best girl friend” or “Love ya,” or “The one behind you who pulls your hair,” or “The boy who draws maps.”
I found one entry from a friend who is still my friend, after sixty-six years!
There is one page with large swirling letters that reads: “Gene Autry,” a singing cowboy star of the day. I had asked him to sign after seeing him in a show back in those young years. I truly don’t recall the show!
I even found incomplete entries by my own two children when each had just learned to print. Like many kiddos, they probably had been ‘looking around’ and had found the book and wanted to sign it, too. I am glad their attempted ‘love letters’ were added twenty years later!
My book is signed by teachers, principals, school friends, church friends, camp counselors, camper friends, and even my six year old brother, ten year old sister, plus an aunt and uncle. It covers eight of my younger years. My life is reflected in those pages by people who have impacted my life, important enough for me to want them to sign my autograph book.
Of course, the universe ‘helped me find’ this prized possession just as Valentine’s 💘 Day appeared on the calendar, just in time for me to begin thinking of the importance of ‘little love letters’ that I could write when “time permits.”
What a collection to find! How fitting their words are, how they coincide with the memories that I recall about each person. The funny ones, the studious ones, the sweet ones, the jokers, the athletes, those I did not know well and those I had known since fourth grade … I can put a young face to most, but not all. It feels rather good, after these years, to know I did have those friends.
And more, it generates a sense of loving that part of my life, knowing that through the years I had so many ‘friends’ who even signed my book. That made me feel really good now, years later. Not one mentioned my myasthenia gravis issues. Not one made fun of my height that seemed to showup before others in my class. No one told me I wore clunky shoes. Oh, some said funny things, most had a touch of kindness, and some just signed their name. But what a wonderful, happy, loving, memory upon which I can reflect in these elder years. Those autographs from years ago became notes of love that still make me laugh or feel warm fuzzies today. Even cry.
As I was reflecting on how reading these pages made me feel so happy, I recalled a program online where we focus on gratitude, on appreciation and caring for others and how those others have impacted our lives. We think about, appreciate, and write out our thoughts. Sometimes we go further and encourage others or thank them and acknowledge the wisdom they have shared.
In the end, we reassure ourselves of the love we have to give to others – not just to caregivers and loved ones.
Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friends.
In the spirit of Love inspired by Valentine’s 💘 Day, I want to ‘encourage encouragement’ by spreading love through writing little love letters. I suggest topics below that might nudge you forward to spread some love, to let even just one someone know how much they mean to you…child, parent, friend, relative, co-worker, someone you know, someone you have never met. There is no boundary surrounding the potential of our love.
When the spirit moves, you can write to someone to leave a mark on their heart and in their memory, a warm fuzzy for them to open and re-read at some point, realizing the difference your words might make in their life, now or later, just as these autographs have done for me.
Ideas that come to mind now:
a short note in a lovely greeting card
a brief message texted,
a handwritten letter with specifics
a labour of love with photos and drawings illuminating your words.
an easy peasy ‘tee-hee hapiness’ is putting hearts on paper with a quote and dropping them like confetti on the shelves of a store, grocery, pharmacy, bookstore, or anywhere that is open. Put them in mail boxes along your street. No signautre, just message of love. See Tee-Hee Happiness page here.
These ‘encouragers,’ in the spirit of Valentine’s 💘 Day, help us think of fitting little love letters for those who hold a meaningful place in our life. In the same way you as readers continue to inspire me to encourage you, I, too, hope to be inspired to reassure, comfort and lift others up throughout the year!
💝 Have a loving day.
Each day, do something that makes others smile and your heart sing!
Little Love Letters (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone
💝 Remember, caregivers need love, too! 💝
Ice cream 🍦 and cookies 🍪 seem to be an appropriate sweet treat on Valentine’s Day!
Books available to order locally or online from your favourite book site, or from AMAZON, anywhere… or visit Caregiver-books.com Check-out page.
Since October 1 is National Poetry Day, observed primarily in the UK and Ireland, I would like to join them to celebrate (from Canada) with this Caregiver Poem from the US that honours all caregivers and reveals the compassion and grace that trickle into the DNA of many caregivers over time.
Written by Ryann Huff, herself a caregiver for “more than two decades,” her words of love and appreciation, which are reflected in this poem, honor “the beautiful soul,” “an angel,” who cared for her grandfather in the period “when Alzheimer’s became too overwhelming.”
As we share this poem, we continue to create a stronger chain of care, linking all those who are giving care around the world, who have lived through uniquely demanding times, and have felt the heart and soul of caregiving that Ryann expresses.
God, bless those who are giving care, every one! 💕 ~Judith Allen Shone
Please feel free to pass the link to this inspiring poem to others. Printed here with kind permission from Ryann Huff.
by Ryann Huff
The heart of a caregiver is a rare element on earth They define the true meaning and value of God’s worth
The soul of a caregiver is precious and pure Their spirits are heavenly, of that I am sure
The selfless compassion and love that they share Provides relief, joy, and comfort just knowing they’re there
Their efforts often unnoticed, full of strength and emotion Bring peace to the heavens with angelic devotion
Many nights they are restless, their minds filled with unease Because they devote their lives to tend to others’ needs
There is none more deserving than one with the caregiver ability They show peace, love, and mercy and give our loved ones dignity
Caregiver, a special place in heaven is waiting for you There is a special place inside my heart that is reserved for you, too
Thank you for everything, all of it, and more I pray someone so kind is there for you when you knock on God’s door
You are loved and respected and cherished And I wouldn’t have known what to do without you
In memory of Earl T. Huff, Sr. & Dedicated to: The Isadora, Spring Hill, FL, USA.
Caregiver Poem (c) By Ryann Huff Caregiver Poem Page (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone
🎵 🎶 💜 “Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing.”
I have mentioned these words, or printed this phrase, in various places over the years, but most prominently the image sits on my bathroom mirror so I see if often.
I want to make this part of my daily intention, which, when I see it, helps me recall and remind myself who I want to be.
If you wish to, you are welcome to copy it and print it so you, too, can remember that making others smile and your heart sing will make your day complete. 🎵💕
I hope you enjoy it.
“Each day” (c) 2020 Judith Allen Shone
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing
BE PREPARED for the role of caregiver…my stories from my life as a spouse-caregiver are written in real time just like the stories I tell here. Read the stories I share to become prepared for life in the world of Alzheimer’s!