Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

                      Lily choking Dan for all his sarcastic remarks!

Lily and her great grandchildren
Caleb and Hannah

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dressing Up and Nowhere to Go

A few evenings ago Mom decided to go upstairs to her room to watch TV and spend some time with her cat Callie.  I warned her not to go to bed yet as it was too early.  A short time later I thought I better go check on her and there she was with the lights out already in bed.

"Mom you can't go to bed yet it is not even 8:30.  If you go to bed this early you will be up at the crack of dawn,  plus you still need to take out your teeth."

"Oh yeah I forgot about that."

After she got out of bed I noticed she had put several necklaces around her neck and earrings on her ears.  Emily and Ryan were nearby and we were all telling her how nice she looked all dressed up in her pajamas.  So I helped her with her teeth and then decided this moment was too good to pass up and off I went to get a camera.
As I was taking her picture, she said,

"I feel like I'm drunk or something." 

and then she laughed at her own silliness.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living with Lily

My seventeen year old son had to write an essay for his college applications about a person in his life who has influenced him and this is what he wrote: 

Living With Lily
            As my grandma has gotten older she has become more willing to try new things.  Recently I asked her if she would want to go on a tandem bike ride with me, which would be quite the task for a 77 year old lady.  She just looked at me and said “with you?  Sure,” and off we went.  We only rode down the street but throughout the ride if I said anything to her she would reply, “Shut up, don’t talk,  just pay attention.” 
            My grandma is in stage six of Alzheimer’s disease and lives with my family year round.  At times it can be very grueling on my parents and test all our patience;  However having her around can also be very rewarding.  Although she has lost her memory she has retained her great sense of humor.  She is always quick with a smart remark and will catch most people off guard by her witty ways. During the time she has lived with us which is now going on three years I have gotten very close to her.  When my parents go out of town the responsibility of watching Lily falls on me and my sister.  I have had to help her with her medication, dressing, hygiene, make up, hair, and constantly supervise her.
Last summer I went with a friend to Norris Lake in Tennessee and my mom told me that Lily asked where I was every single day.  Then on the day I was coming home the first thing she said to my mom when she came downstairs in the morning was “Today is the day Ryan is coming home, right?”   Hearing this meant so much to me because at times she has trouble remembering her own children.  Without a doubt we both have made an impact on each other. 
            Living with Lily has made me a different, better, and more well rounded person.  Not every kid my age is exposed to dealing with someone who is in her condition.  I never look at her as a burden to have around because she always brightens the mood of the room with a quick joke or a laugh.  If she did not have Alzheimer’s disease I would never have gotten the opportunity to know her as I do now.  I am grateful for everyday I have with Lily because no one knows how many remain.  She has taught me to be caring, patient, and selfless.  I plan on taking these virtues with me wherever I go.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Speaker Phone

As I walked in this morning from exercise class mom was sitting at my desk with the phone held to her ear talking. 

"Mom I'm home."

Then I heard my brother say, "Is that Kerry Beth?" 

I'm thinking what the heck?   I had to chuckle to myself realizing mom somehow had pressed the speaker phone button but was still holding the phone to her ear even though no sound was coming from the receiver.  My brother said he kept telling her that he could barely hear her so I am sure she just kept trying to talk louder into the receiver that was off.

Just another day in the Runyeon household!.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I was working on my blog and Lily came up behind me and said,  "Lilybird, who is that?"

I said, "That is you, " and showed her some other pictures of her in my blog.

"It is?"

I said, "Who did you think it was?"

"You know that is her who goes back and forth, back and forth,  you know down there, in Carolina."

Funny how the Alzheimer brain works.  At this moment Mom sees and recognizes the picture but does not associate the image with herself.  Tomorrow might be a different story which is what makes Alzheimer's disease so unpredictable.

Monday, October 26, 2009


As we were driving home from Athens Ohio where Ryan and his friend Tyler took a campus tour at Ohio University,  we passed a cemetery. 

Lily randomly said, "Well look at that,  Rise if possible."

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I was going through some old pictures and came across this picture of flowers mom received on her birthday.  She loved them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Colbert Report

Ryan has been DVR'ing
The Colbert Report
                                 to watch with Lily each evening

Ryan and Lily laughing together on the couch
and Lily critiquing every couple of minutes...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back to Bed

It is 11:35pm and I just put on my jammies ready for bed.  Thinking I would check on Emily prior to turning in I headed down the stairs and noticed the hall bathroom light on.  Reaching in to turn the light off I saw Lily standing there just emptying her denture cup which Ryan had helped her fill only 2 hours ago.  Her teeth were in and she was fully dressed in the clothes I had placed in her room an hour before. 

Immediately I knew what happened.

"Mom it is 11:30 at night.  You need to put your pajamas back on and get back to bed."

"What?  I thought it was morning and I was rushing around getting ready because I thought everyone was gone."

"Nope everyone is asleep."

I helped her back to her room and got her pajamas out of the drawer for her to put back on.

"Well that is never happened to me before."

I thought oh yes it has many times but all I said was,  "Goodnight Mom,  See you in the morning."


"Mom, time to take your dentures out."

"Why do you want me to take those out every night?  I don't think I will bite my own teeth!"

Monday, October 19, 2009


 (The below post I actually wrote yesterday and did not publish.  I have been debating with myself whether to post it or not for a number of reasons........  I do try to focus on the positive, I hate to sound like poor me, and today is a new day.   However  I have decided to go ahead and post this because this reflected my mind frame at the time and I am sure others in similar positions have similar feelings.)

Today I had a meltdown.  I snapped at mom.  I snapped at Emily.  I snapped at Dan.  Feeling guilty I attempted to examine myself and ask why today?   Why today did I snap?   Maybe because I have had a difficult weekend with a teenager.  Maybe because my cat who has been sick for months puking daily sometimes several times a day has a new symptom.  Maybe I am just tired of taking care of so many people and animals---  a son, a daughter, a husband, 3 cats, 2 dogs, and Lily not to mention an autistic brother.

I think to myself perhaps I should call this person or that person.  With so many wonderful friends I am so lucky and would always have someone who would listen to me.  I know that.

Then I think of the blog I read a couple of nights ago written by a lady whose husband has early onset Alzheimer's and was diagnosed at 36 years old.  Their kids were elementary school age at the time.  He is now 44 and in the end stages.  She has cared for him at home this entire time putting him first knowing the strain this has put on her family.  She struggles with the same feelings as I .... guilt, sadness, despair and yet she continues and so will I.  We must also share qualities.....   loyalty, compassion, hope.   I tell myself my life is easy compared to hers and so many other families out there struggling with circumstances way worst than mine.

I force myself to continue on my schedule and attend church hoping I will receive strength and peace.  Listening to the music and message my tears flowed freely.  My sweet son held my hand and rubbed my back after noticing my pain.  The message was wonderful and ended with these words..........


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Joking Around

We had just finished our Indian cuisine and were on the way to see the movie UP with Lily, Emily, Dan and myself in the car and I said,  "Oh honey aren't you excited for when Emily starts blogging about you and me?"

He replied, "Not really."

"Well Mom I am glad you are prepared to be made fun of,"  said my lovely daughter.

Turning to mom I said, "You don't mind being made fun of, do you mom?"

"No, goes in one ear and out the other," said Lily.

Dan quickly retorted, "That's because there is not much in between to slow it down!"

We all laughed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Living in the Moment

This morning as I was walking Lily into the DayAway program at St. Leonards which she attends on Fridays we passed a sign which said St. Elizabeth's Garden.  I thought that was very appropriate and perhaps a positive sign as Lily's legal name is Elizabeth Patricia Gehrke (O'Callaghan).

Walking through the entrance I noticed a wall painting which I had not noticed before that I liked very much.

After getting Mom settled in I started chatting with Lisa the DayAway director and asked her how Lily was doing in the program.  She replied that she was doing very well.  When doing activities she participated freely and some of the other patients who at times could be annoying did not seem to bother her.  I said well if they did she would forget within a few minutes.  She laughed, nodded, and said, "Yes, living in the moment."
Excitedly I said,  "That is the name of my blog!"  She then asked me for my link.

We continued chatting and she remarked that she and some of her staff have often said they need to write a book about some of the humorous events that happen with the residents there and that humor is such a great coping mechanism for dealing with this disease.  I said, "You are going to like my blog then as that is what I try to focus my writings on."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nana as Cupid

Emily's cupid (Nana Lily) asked about boys in her life and told her she needed to get on it. HA

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Details from a Stranger

While working at the recent Miles that Matter rummage sale a heavy set older woman with short unkempt hair and probing eyes came up to me and asked me to come with her as she needed some help.  I followed her over to a table where she proceeded to show me all the cross stitch materials laying there.  She said she just got out of a nursing home and wanted to take up a craft and wanted to know what she needed to start.  "The good thing is they told me I no longer have dementia, but I am bi-polar.  I also found out I have two people inside me and only one of them I know."  I have to say my eyes probably got a little wider as I listened to this stranger tell me these details.  I helped her the best I could with her cross stitch questions and went back to my station.

The next morning I was telling my running buddy Paula the story and she quipped, "Lily is looking pretty good, isnt she?"

Paula in San Antonio prior to her first marathon


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rutledge Place

Prior to moving in with us  Mom lived in Columbia SC for 10 years.  My sister and her husband moved there several years before Mom and encouraged her to move down there near them.  Tired of the cold winters Mom made the move.  She lived in a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath townhouse condo in Carriage Trace fixing up her new home with the help of my sister and her husband.  Mom's love however was for her "garden" outside her front door.  She would spend all day outside when the weather was good digging, planting, and tending to her garden.
 For two years Mom talked about going home everyday back to SC and still continues to bring it up although not as regularly.  This past summer we stopped in SC to work on her condo on the way back from Florida.  With trepidation I decided to take a chance and bring mom back to her condo for a visit.  Everything from the condo had been removed either by me or my sister so I was concerned what her reaction might be.

We arrived and she stepped out of the car looking at her home which she had not seen in 2 1/2 years and said," I use to live her about 20 years ago.  It sure hasn't changed much."  We went inside and she looked around.  I could tell she enjoyed seeing her old place but never once asked me where any of her things were.
I asked her if she would like to live here again and she said,  "No why would I want to be here when all my things are back home."   Even though I knew she was speaking through confusion  I have to say I was so relieved hearing her say that because I have always felt guilty taking her away from her home on the sly so to speak.

Alzheimer Reading Room Post

Yesterday I shared with you how excited and honored I was to be mentioned by Bob Demarco on his blog the Alzheimer's Reading Room which is the number one website on the Internet for news, advice, and insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob has written more than 800 articles with more than 18,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL and is the primary caregiver for his mother.  Bob started his blog after he realized the tremendous need for information to help caregivers in the care of their loved ones.  

The Alzheimer's Reading Room is an extremely informative site which I personally read daily and highly recommend.

Below is a copy of his post.

Posted: 10 Oct 2009 05:22 PM PDT

I get asked this question all the time--Which blogs do you read?

To be honest, I have so much information coming in from so many sources that I rarely read blogs these days. There are only so many hours in a day, and its not unusual for me spend five hours a day right here.

However, Living in the moment with Lilybird is so unique, I do go over there when I can to catch up.

Kerry Runyeon's mother, Lily, suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Kerry has a wonderful attitude, and a one of kind attitude toward Alzheimer's.

You might want to take a peak at these offerings by Kerry:

Sunday, October 11, 2009


There is no place like home.  There is no place like home.  There is no place like home.

We just arrived home from the Dayton airport about 30 minutes ago.  While on the plane I was SO excited and honored to see my blog featured by Bob DeMarco at the Alzheimer's Reading Room website.  I will write about that tomorrow but seeing that really made my day.

The plane was full of happy Bengal fans coming home from the Baltimore game that the Bengals WON!  Who Dey!!!

My sick kitty Wilson feels like he has actually put on some weight while I was gone.

Lily is not up but I know she will be so happy and relieved I am home as she becomes anxious when I am not here. 

My children are near although Emily is not feeling well but another reason I am glad to be home.

Molly and Rudi (the pugs) jumped all over me with tails wagging licking me.

The house is CLEAN.  Yeah Kids!!!

Can you tell I am happy to be home?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Got Alzheimer's? Uncle Sammy says -- Tough Luck

Got Alzheimer's? Uncle Sammy says -- Tough Luck

Martha's Vineyard

Vineyard Haven harbor

Dan & Kerry
(he aged a little on this trip)

Oak Bluffs

Methodist Campground in Oak Bluffs

gingerbread style house


Friday, October 9, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Acadia National Park

Bar Harbor Maine

Cadillac Mountain
Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond
Acadia National Park

Miles That Matter
Jordan Pond

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Been There, Done That

Spoke to Ryan from Maine today and he said Nana said something funny after he picked her up from St. Leonards and asked her how her day went.

"Oh it was nice, but I've been there, done that, and don't think I want to go back there again."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Maine Marathon


Kerry & Leigh Ann in our lobster hats close to finish.


 Dan & Marty trying to keep up with the girls!

Spectating is hard work!


                                                          Celebrating the finish!

In honor of my family and friends back home helping with caring for Lily and allowing me this opportunity.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

You are OK

Mom and I were walking the dogs last week and I was lost in thought thinking about my upcoming trip to Maine.  I caught myself talking to myself and said to mom,  "I'm just talking to myself."

She responded, "Well as long as you don't answer yourself you are ok."

I chuckled to myself and thought with all her deficits she continues to surprise me with her quick wit.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Locked in!

While sitting in the Dayton airport on the way to Maine I called my daughter-in-law Jenny who picked up Nana Lily at St. Leonards.  As were talking we realized Lily's coat was left.  So I called my son Ryan and asked him to drive over to St. Leonards to retrieve it.
About 20 minutes later we were on the runway ready for takeoff and the flight attendant announced it was time to turn off all cell phones.  I decided to keep mine on because I had not heard from Ryan and the plane was not moving yet.  Suddenly the phone rang and I heard my son frantically say,  "Mom nobody is here. What is the code to unlock the door?"

 In the DayAway area at St. Leonards you must press a button on the outside to get in and you need a code to punch to get out as the door automatically locks to prevent the Alzheimer patients from leaving.  When Ryan realized everyone had gone home for the weekend he turned to leave and could not get out!  

 Fortunately I had the code memorized and relayed it to him.  I heard the relief in his voice as he opened the door.  That might have been a long weekend for him locked inside!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Denture Party

Prior to our trip to Maine I had to instruct Emily on how to help Nana Lily with her dentures each night.  As we head up the stairs Emily says,  "Yes!  A denture party."  Lily laughed and replied, "Yes, that's good a denture party.  I like that."