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Catch Your Breath

Now Available from Balboa Press

42: A taping session (An excerpt from Catch Your Breath)

“Speech is the voice of the heart.”
Anna Quindlen

Toward the end of mother’s stay at my house, I had an idea. I wanted mother to make an audio tape for each of my children. My motivation was selfish. My Dad died much too early when he was only 72, and I can hardly remember the sound of his voice. I yearn to hear it one more time. I wanted to preserve mother’s voice for my children so they would never forget it.

I worked with mother for days writing down memories of times together with my kids…births, holidays, summer vacations, trips together, even times when they were little snits! We worked on this for days because she would get tired; and we’d lay it aside and start again on another day.

I typed it all out for her and had her practice without me in the room as she just talked through each episode. Her voice was shaky and weak, but she finally got excited about doing this as long as we took our time.

Then the big day came where we tried the first recording on a small tape recorder that she had actually given me. Technology has really changed! We used those tiny little cassette tapes in a recorder that was probably 3×4; it was easy for her to hold. I reassured her that there was no reason to stress as we could erase and re-record as many times as needed until it was exactly how she wanted it.

This became a loving project and gave her something to look forward to for about three weeks. I’m so glad we did it. I gave both my son and my daughter their personalized version set to the tone of their lives. I hope they still have the tapes and listen to them occasionally. I’m afraid to ask them.

This might be a great project for you depending on the strength and attitude of your loved one.
And by the way, make a copy for yourself. I didn’t think to do that and I’m so sorry now!



“Catch Your Breath…Tender Meditations for Caregivers” is due out in early 2015 from Balboa Press.

Table of Contents


The early days

1: A dose of overconfidence
2: Rearranging space and finding some for you
3: A bumpy mattress and street noise
4: An army and dirty carpets
5: The crystal bell
6: A cup of hot chocolate
7: It’s all about the bathroom
8: Gray days
9: Resentment and feeling trapped
10: Next comes the guilt

In the throes of day-to-day

11: The gift
12: Dance lessons
13: Sitter stress
14: Strangers in the night
15: A neighbor and a rose
16: Sibling confusion
17: Detours
18: Wheelchairs and walkers
19: Oh, my aching back
20: Keeping up with medicine
21: Becoming the parent
22: Praying
23: Listening
24: Writing your way through it
25: Stay near the sun
26: A word about Hospice
27: A Dove’s nest
28: You are stronger than you think
29: Filling up your gas tank
30: Waiting for the prognosis
31: Second guessing yourself
32: The smells
33: Bringing church to you
34: Keeping the spiritual connection
35: The legal particulars of dying
36: The care-givers in your family
37: A visit from the hairdresser
38: Spills, stains and overflowing showers
39: Unwanted company from the black sheep of the family
40: 9-11
41: Adult children
42: A taping session
43: Sharing memories

Embracing change

44: Giving up and moving to assisted living
45: Smaller spaces
46: Learning to trust all over again
47: The importance of a vacuum cleaner
48: The fall
49: Sunday afternoons
50: Continue with celebrations

The end and the beginning

51: The dreaded call
52: A wish come true
53: Her glasses
54: The funeral
55: Relief
56: Getting through it but never getting over it
57: Recycling the leftovers
58 Flying Solo
59: How to be when it’s over
60: Getting used to the aftershocks
61: The Inheritance

Final Word: Tie a knot and hang on