Holidays, Mom and Thoughts on “As a Man Thinketh”

Eleanor-Xmas   Lillian-Bruno-Sarter

Photos: (1) Xmas day & dinner at my Grandparent’s house. Mom, her Father (also with dementia) and Lynn…a lot of clashing fabrics going on there, (2) My Grandparents, Mom’s Parents on Christmas day modeling a few gifts! I’m sure my grandmother was mortified. Below: As a Man Thinketh

During these “Holi-days”, I’ve been thinking of my Mom, Eleanor Sarter, Brophy, Van Meter, whose physical presence is missing, but her huge footprint has been left behind for me to observe, feel and ponder. She loved poetry of all kinds and had many books that she used to look at over and over throughout the years, while marking the pages of some of her favorites. There was a book called “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen, that she particularly loved. Years ago, before computers, she had typed up this one passage from the book that she obviously found great comfort in. She made hundreds of copies and shared them with everyone. I have many of them in my papers throughout the years and I had found numerous copies tucked away in her papers as well, after she passed away. It reads as follows:


As you think, you travel; as you love, you attract. You are today where your thoughts have brought you, and you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. You cannot escape the result of your thoughts, but you can endure and learn, accept and be glad. You will realize the visions (not the idle wish) of your heart, be it base or beautiful, or a mixture of both, for you will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love. Into your hands will be placed the exact result of your thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less. Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, your ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.

James Allen

as a man thinkth

I’ve looked at it over the years and even put a copy up on my refrigerator…but I wonder if I ever really, truly read it as thoroughly as I have since her death. Of course I read it, but did I understand it from a deeper level? I’m not so sure. She was a very deep and pensive person in her day and loved to get involved in passages like this one by James Allen. When I read it now, I realize that I must take responsibility for where I am in life today, because it’s true that our thoughts lead us to where we are today. Our thoughts can be our greatest success or our worst failures in life. We often go through life not realizing that our thoughts can mold us into who we are or intend to be and lead us to the right way or the wrong way….so then who do we have to blame for a bad circumstance in life…yep, ourselves. Maybe if we picked our thoughts more carefully and intentionally, we could all be in a circumstance that could be embraced.

James Allen says that we will always gravitate towards the things that we most love which many of us never really pay attention to. We pick our college courses, career paths and jobs and then find ourselves in situations that are absolute drudgery, just to put a roof over our heads. We resent our alarm clocks that wake us up in the morning on Mondays, only to pray for Friday to come quickly. That’s a terrible way to go through life. We are wishing our lives away. Then, when we are on our personal time, we do what we love to do…or we get stuck doing what we must do in order to be ready to go back to work on Monday…therefore, the phrase Rat Race. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could all go through our lives consciously, wide awake, choosing how we spend our time, whether it be making a living or personal time or hobby. Using our thoughts to mold our lives into that wonderful place where we could both enjoy and support ourselves at the same time. As the saying goes…do what you love to do and the money will follow… but as we all know, it doesn’t always go that way. Some people have had it figured out from an early age…and some of us are slow…like myself!

Mom obviously saw herself somewhere in this passage and I try to think of exactly what she was thinking, with regards to herself. She had a very hard life with her OCD disorder from the age of 15, so it is my guess that she dreamed on how she could create a better life, or circumstance for herself with her thoughts. She was a good person with very good and pure thoughts, never being mean to anyone in her life…so why was her circumstances so difficult? Obvioulsy, in her late years, her thoughts were disintegrating rapidly from dementia, and she was quite aware of it, making her very sad. But, I wonder, was she able to use this passage to her advantage before her dementia took hold? I’d like to think that it gave her peace to think it was possible.

Thinking of you Mom, on this first Christmas day without you here. Merry Christmas wherever you are!

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Isn’t Having Dementia Enough?

shad_mom    shad_lynn

The above pictures are (1) of my son Shad with Mom back in the 80’s. (2) Shad and myself, also in the 80’s.

It’s been an eventful few weeks at my house. My son, Shad visited for the first time in a very long time. He hasn’t seen my Mom, literally in years with her living in CA and he in NC. I also have not seen him for a long time, so it was a very welcomed visit. Life responsibilities just seem to take over our daily routines and before you know it, years have gone by. Not sure why that happens more these days than in years past, but my guess is that today’s world is more complex and complicated. There’s just more to do in our daily routines which leaves little time for what is really important.

With the anticipation and preparation leading up to his visit this past weekend, I had also received a call from Mom’s primary doctor about  recent blood work performed. Apparently, her blood counts were very low and she is drastically anemic. Her red blood cells are “big”. I replied, you mean they are high, but he said no, they are big. He informed me that he would do a folate test which could be the problem, but he doubted that it was the problem. As predicted, the folate test came back normal and he informed me that Mom would need to see a hematologist. He gave me a name of one in our group and I made the appointment.

After seeing him, I was given the same information as her primary doctor gave me, but now he is advising a bone marrow test. I wasn’t at all sure that was a good idea, given her age and mental state but he said that if I didn’t follow through, that I had better get her “do not rescesitate” docs in order. With that, of course, I made the appointment. My son was in for this appointment but she was unable to tolerate taking the test and the doctor decided not to force her, again with her age and mental capacity. We were told that another extensive blood test would be performed to see if a marker could be seen so that he could identify and treat her….otherwise, she will probably need blood transfusions. The bad part of transfusions is that, they will only do them in a hospital and with her weak immune system, it’s almost sure she will get some bacteria while admitted…so it is a lose-lose situation. What to do?

He told me that we are probably looking at Supportive Care, meaning hospice. I can’t help but think that we’ve come all this way, and to lose her to some sort of Leukemia is just wrong. Her sister Lillian succumbed to Leukemia almost 40 years ago but I don’t think it was the same type. Her father was a bleeder, which also leads me to believe that there is some genetic blood disorder prevalent to the Sarter bloodline which can appear at any age. Of course, I am not sure, but it is what I am feeling from what I am seeing at this point in time.

Makes me wonder what kind of a cruel joke is being played on her. Isn’t having dementia enough for her to handle, isn’t having OCD her whole life a heavy enough cross to bare? Will she have to wait until her next time around to have a good life? I wonder. 

Just can’t see the silk lining in this situation. I can’t help but thinking..isn’t having dementia enough in a person’s golden years?


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Can Music Therapy Help Soothe Dementia Patients…it did for my Mom.


Mom at a very young age sitting on the
stoop at the family house.


We work all week long, getting up on Monday wishing our lives away for it to be Friday, only to have a hard weekend dealing with dementia attacks from Mom over the weekend. This weekend however, has been quiet and normal thanks to music therapy. She had a wonderful Saturday listening to Pavarotti cds all afternoon, which I can honestly say is her favorite thing to listen to. I actually feel it makes her normal, calm and puts her into a completely different head set making her thoughts clear. She can sit and listen to him all day and never tire of it, just sitting there as if in a trans, swaying back and forth to the music. She came to live with me with a love for Pavarotti’s music and in her mental void, that has held true.

Today, she is passing the time going through all of her papers, which of course, she loves to do. I know it makes her feel like she is in the office, which is her second love to Pavarotti. I enjoy seeing her involved in the things that she loves and although it’s not what we would choose to do for ourselves necessarily, it works for her life. Helping to make a dementia patient engaged and involved is helpful in that, they are not stressed, leading them away from dementia attacks. That helps both the patient and the caretaker to have a better day. Keeping a person with dementia engaged is key to helping to slow down the progression of the disease.

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Photos Above: (1) Mom as a little girl sitting on her front steps, (2) Mom out in California sitting at her home typerwritter.

She also has a lot of games and puzzles, but she much prefers the paperwork and music therapy. I have recently been given some brochures and information about people coming in to the house to give her music therapy during the work week when Cardine, her home aide is here. I think that would be a wonderful idea and would help to keep her mind moving during the day, while also give her something to look forward to. With spring coming on, it would be a good idea to start new things which will engage and stimulate her in different ways. There are probably organizations that would come in for arts and crafts as well. I think that Cardine would love that tool….she loves to color!

So, it’s a sunny and tranquil Sunday, and I find myself appreciating the day knowing that Mom is having a good day. Bring on Spring!

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I’m how old? …Mom’s 86th Birthday

Birthday 86

Mom’s 86th Birthday!

Here we are, January 22nd. It’s Mom’s 86th birthday, an absolute milestone for her bloodline. She’s already out lived both of her parents. Her Mom died at 78 years old and her Dad at 82 years old. By today’s standards, it doesn’t seem very long, but I guess in her family line, those ages are pretty old.

We went to bed last night to a fairly powerful snowstorm and woke up to a blanket of white outside. As she woke up this morning, I wished her a happy birthday. Of course, she didn’t know how old she is and she didn’t seem particularly interested in that little detail either. For the most part, to her it was just another day and another year older. Sad to think that you get to the point in life where your birthday, your special day, doesn’t mean much to you. Maybe it’s the dementia that makes her feel that her birthday is a non-event? Even though my birthday isn’t largely celebrated, I still feel some sort of excitement with that particular day. It’s probably human nature, at least that’s what I believe it to be. Everybody on the planet has their special day! One day that is more special than any other day of the year, the one day where “they” are brought to the top of things, feeling that this is the day I came into the world. A day to look back and reflect on the years and experiences of the past.

Because of the snow and the long ride home last night in the storm, I was unable to stop for flowers, so I told her to expect some pretty flowers tomorrow. She liked that idea and then proceeded to head out to the kitchen for her daily raid of the cookie jar. That makes it a good day to her…swiping a few cookies. Happy birthday Mom!

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