Puzzle-Time Challenges

IMG_2271

When making a puzzle, one doesn’t usually think about how many challenges will have to be overcome. Well, we had our challenges with this one. This beautiful “Bull Moose” artwork by Robert Bateman had been chopped into 500 little puzzle pieces. I had been keeping it safe in my closet for a number of years, waiting for the right moment to put it all together.

My son Lorenzo pulled it out of the closet and said he’d like to complete the puzzle with us (my husband Cupp and I). The guys said, “We can finish this in a couple of hours, no problem!” I had my doubts. I hadn’t done a big puzzle like this for years. I remember them taking hours or days to complete. Puzzle-making is fun and relaxing. We would work as a team!

I cleared off the kitchen table. We got at it and found the light that was shining down over the kitchen table was too bright, so we had to find something to filter the glare bouncing off the pieces. I tried a pink sunbrella, but the pink tinge over the puzzle made it to hard to see. I tried another one,  but it was orange –– same problem. We thought something white would be best, so I found a white sheet. That worked fine, but the sheet wrapped around the light looked quite strange!

We ate a couple of snacks, and I had a big glass of water. Finding pieces that fit together was a bit of a challenge. We started with the border. We looked for the pieces with the flat sides. Sometimes it seemed like forever before we found pieces that fit together. One time when I found a good fit, I declared, “Win!” That became our signal when something fit.

Unfortunately, I knocked my glass of water over onto the puzzle! Now we had water all over the pieces. We had to quickly sop up the mess. Then we noticed as the water penetrated into some of the pieces they started to come apart. Oh no! Now we needed to glue some of them back together. This wasn’t going very well.

The puzzle-making adventure seemed to be going slower than we had anticipated. I was getting a bit tired of it all and went to sit down on the couch. I noticed our pup Berkeley chewing on something. I got closer to her, and realized it was a piece of the puzzle! Oh no! Now we have some pieces that need to be glued together AND a piece that is chewed. This is getting a bit ridiculous!

A half-hour later, Cupp told me “We are getting close to the end, you may want to come and help us finish it up!” I went over to see how far they had gotten, and I noticed there was a piece missing from the moose’s nose. I scanned the table looking for it. I couldn’t see it anywhere. I told them “We won’t be able to finish this puzzle if we don’t find this missing piece.” We figured it may have fallen onto the floor. I got down on my hands and knees, using the light from my cell phone, and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I started to worry that perhaps Berkeley ate it. I started looking in places she may have brought it, like her bed or her favourite carpeted area, and nope. Not there. I said, “Maybe it’s still in the bag.” So, I dug into the garbage and checked the bag. Nope, not there. Now I am convinced that Berkeley ate it. Oh no! Now we have an incomplete puzzle with pieces that need to be glued together and a piece that is chewed!

I eventually went to bed and woke up in the morning to find the puzzle done, with the glued pieces, the chewed piece, and the missing piece. It was a puzzle-making activity that didn’t quite go the way we had planned. It was fun, nonetheless!

Angela G. Gentile

 

 

Advertisements

The Mighty Ant: An Anthology of Short Stories for Seniors

41KbQpD0l5L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

I am a contributor to a collection of short stories, called The Mighty Ant, edited by Jessica Bryan. This collection will delight anyone who enjoys reading or being read to.

My two stories include “You are Never Too Old” and “For the Love of Flowers.” These are my first attempts at short-story writing.

Here’s me reading my short story called “For the Love of Flowers.”

The book is in large print and is a fundraiser for the North Carolina Chatham County Council on Aging.

Get your own copy and enjoy reading and sharing with others! The stories are also great conversation starters!

Happy reading!

Angela G. Gentile

 

purple-swirl-separator-hi

_DSC6188 4 x 6

 

Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

“The Memory Keeper” Will Touch Your Heart and Tickle Your Funny Bone – Book Review

692172687

Five Stars *****

JESSICA BRYAN’S SWEET AND HUMOROUS ACCOUNTS of life with her 99-year-old mother who has Alzheimer’s disease will touch your heart and tickle your funny bone. Jessica states there is never a dull moment in the Bryan household, and you will be entertained as she writes about her experiences in an easy-to-read, conversational tone. Jessica believes “When things get too heavy, you just have to lighten the mood.”

Although it is heart-wrenching when she writes about her mother “disappearing moment by moment, memory by memory,” her stories will encourage you—knowing that caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s has its rewards and there is humour to be found in any situation. The photos sprinkled throughout add a beautiful, personal touch. Anyone who values the importance of love and caring for one another in difficult times (especially caregivers and family members) will enjoy reading “The Memory Keeper” (2018).

Available in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

Angela G. Gentile

purple-swirl-separator-hi

Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide,” “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival,” “How to Edit an Anthology: Write or Compile a Collection that Sells,” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

How a Dog or Puppy Can Bring Joy and Companionship into Your Life

Dog-Quotes-2

When I was going through my cancer ordeal, my dog, Rocky (a senior), was my constant companion. He lay beside me on my bed, he followed me downstairs when I went to get something to eat, and on the days I was bedbound, he seemed to be aware of my plight. When my family went out to work or school, or attended family functions that I wasn’t well enough to go to, Rocky was there with me. He seemed to get me more than anyone else. We bonded in a special way. I was never alone.

After my treatments were completed (which were absolutely torturous!), my daughter Simone started talking about wanting a new puppy. She was saying how she was missing having a little girl-dog around, so I encouraged her to get one for herself. I told her we would help her look after it. It didn’t take her long to decide and she went for it!

Well, what a joy this little one has brought to our lives. The fun and excitement started when my daughter called us to say one of the breeders she called said she had puppies that were just a few days old, and she could come and take a look! Soon after, Simone and I made plans to go out to the country to see the puppies. They were purebred Havanese (like a small poodle).

Simone picked out a blond female and named her Berkeley. We visited her every week as she grew old enough to be weaned from her mother. I (we) had something fun, sweet and exciting to look forward to. This helped get my mind off my cancer ordeal. Rocky was still my trusty companion, and this little addition was going to bring a new dynamic to our household. The anticipation of the day we could bring her home was killing us! We were in love.

Dog-Quotes-1

When we went to get Berkeley to bring her back to her forever home, it was as if we had brought home a new baby! We had visitors, puppy gifts, even a “Puppy Shower” my daughter planned. Simone wanted to bond with the puppy so she made sure she looked after all the pup’s needs – such as comfort, food, water and a warm comfy place to sleep. She had to get up in the night to let her out to do her business. The household and family dynamics were changed. Even Rocky had to adapt to having a little one around. Heck, I am even called Gramma now!

I was house-bound for many months during my healing and recovery, so I was the main one helping with the house-training. Often I played with Berkeley as she had lots of energy and a playful spirit (when she was awake). When she started teething, we had to make sure she had lots of appropriate chew toys and made sure the house was “puppy-proofed.”

Berkeley has added so much joy to our lives. I can’t imagine what my recovery journey would have been like without Rocky and our new little one. Raising a puppy is hard work, but the rewards are tremendous.

Please share your dog (or pet) story.

Angela G. Gentile

purple-swirl-separator-hi

Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

A Blessed Mother’s Day

IMG_2979 (1)

The Gentile Family

Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer in May 2017, I quickly learned what was important to me. I immediately feared the future loss of the joy of watching my children live their lives and have children of their own. I felt the future enjoyment of motherhood and grandparenthood was potentially and imminently being snatched away from me. This Mother’s Day is very special to me.

On Mother’s Day, the tradition is to express your appreciation for your mother or any mothers in your life. I was thinking about this and thought about how I came about to be a mother. I’d like to take a few moments to reflect on the people I want to thank for helping me to become the mother I am today.

I’d like to thank my mother for showing me how to be kind, loving, supportive, and how to offer unconditional love at all times (even when one of her children has passed from this world).

I’d like to thank my grandmothers (rest their souls) for being there for me and my mother. Their wisdom and mentor-ship helped tremendously on this journey of motherhood.

I’d like to thank my mother-in-law (may she rest in peace) for showing me unconditional love towards all others. I hear a lot of people complain about the “out-laws,” especially mothers-in-law, but I have nothing but respect for this kind-hearted, God-loving soul.

There are many to thank on this Mother’s Day.

My friends, who are mothers, supported me, advised me and encouraged me. They also act as role models as I walk down this journey of motherhood. Even as I move from mothering children to mothering adults, there is so much to learn.

I’d like to thank my husband Agapito for taking this parenting journey with me and allowing me to be a mother – without him, I wouldn’t have the two wonderful children I have now. We blended out parenting styles and did what we thought was right for our family (sometimes it came with a bit of a fight, LOL).

I’d like to thank my children, Lorenzo and Simone, for allowing me to learn how to be a mother; to make mistakes; to be happy with my style of parenting; and for making me a proud mother. (Five years ago I wrote an article called The Five Keys to Raising Great Kids. Check it out if you are in the early stages of parenting, however, it’s never too late!)

I am thankful to the teachers, professors, guides and others who helped me along this path. The post-secondary education I obtained in social work (including psychology and family studies) also helped mould me into the mother I am today. I learned about healthy and functional parenting styles, and what dysfunctional families looked like (aren’t we all dysfunctional in some way? LOL) I learned how culture influences parenting styles and how generations of parenting rule-books change based on science, media and other outside influences.

Most of all I’d like to thank God for the wonderful blessing of being able to have children of my own. The caring and protective mothering instincts I was gifted with also helped me to get to where I am today. Thanks be to God.

I feel very blessed on this day. Happy Mother’s Day.

Angela G. Gentile

purple-swirl-separator-hi

Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Family Estrangement – When a Parent’s Heart Aches to Reunite With a Child

id-10067121

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have assessed hundreds (perhaps thousands) of older adults over the past 16 years. Sometimes it was for Home Care eligibility, and other times it was for a mental health assessment. On occasion, I will interview someone who talks about an adult child who he or she hasn’t talked to or heard from for years. It is often an emotional topic. The term we use for this is estrangement. Family estrangement is when there is a physical or emotional distancing between at least two family members when one of the parties is not happy with the arrangement.

When older people talk about the estrangement, it is often very painful for them. I often wonder why and when the separation occurred. I wonder who was at fault? Was anyone at fault? Or is this something that just happens naturally between two people? Sort of like what happens to friends or acquaintances sometimes. Is the adult child unhappy with the arrangement? Or is it just the parent?

There was one man in particular I remember who’s heart was obviously broken. He was about 85 years old. He lived in a nursing home. One of the things that was causing him such grief and sorrow was the fact that he had not heard from his son for years. He told me he wanted to contact him so he could feel at peace. I was not able to facilitate this for him. I wish I could have.

What causes estrangements between a parent and child? Perhaps the parent mistreated the child when they were younger, and now the adult child would rather not be subject to any more mistreatment. Perhaps the adult child cannot cope with the changes that aging brings to their older parent. Maybe mental health problems influence the child into not wanting to talk to his/her parent. Perhaps an abusive and controlling mate keeps the person away from their family. Then I wonder, what if the child is feeling the same way and is waiting for the call from his or her parent? (A waiting game called: “Who will call who first?”)

Whatever the reason for estrangement, I have seen a few cases now that cause a parent to be heartbroken in later life. These situations cause feelings of loss, confusion, worry and guilt. I know that as we grow older, many of us want to make peace and right some of our wrongs. Perhaps we want to die without regrets. I am a parent myself, and I can only imagine how difficult it would be to lose a child in that way.

I wonder if there is any hope, ever, to reunite an older adult with their estranged child. If so, how does one go about doing that?

Angela G. Gentile

purple-swirl-separator-hi

Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW. is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two adult children. She is passionate about all things related to Aging Well. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com