Showing posts from January, 2021

January is Alzheimer's Awareness Month

This January has been a full year in and of itself. And it remains Alzheimer's Awareness month.  I posted this photo and caption on Instagram on Monday. (You could follow me there, if you're so inclined. I'm @marionagnew.)  How do you handle fear? Denial was my go-to. I ignored my mother’s confusion and anxiety, her memory lapses. Then I tried to pretend it wasn’t serious—surely not Alzheimer’s. She was still okay. My parents were still parents, still “the grownups.” It wasn’t true, of course. My mother was sick—afraid, disoriented. My father was just keeping up. And it wasn’t fair to them to pretend nothing was wrong. I had to face my fears around disease and loss to forge new relationships with them both. Some people handle fear by cracking jokes—“I forget what I came in here for, it’s probably that Old-Timers.” “I tell you what, if I ever lose it, just take me out back and shoot me.” Some in their audience laugh along. Haha. Ha. Many “haha” through tight smiles, because

Indefinite Hyperbolic Numerals

How many is 400,000? How many is 20,000?     In days, 400,000 would be more than a thousand years; 20,000 would be almost fifty-five years.   400,000 pieces of ice? Maybe 20,000? But these numbers represent human beings. Currently, more than 400,000 people in the US have died of COVID-19. The total in Canada has not yet reached 20,000—it’s between 18,000 and 19,000 today.   It feels so impossible to understand 400,000 people. Even 20,000. How do you convey that number? How do you transform numbers—embody them, literally give them skin, bones, breath? Show the people they were?   We’re writers. We should be able to do this. But 400,000 and 20,000 are big numbers. We might as well be using indefinite hyperbolic numerals—words that sound like really big numbers: eleventy-million, a jillion.   Does it help to focus on the little things? Do you talk about the birthday candles each person blew out, their favourite donut, the songs they sang along to and knew all the words?

No, no, nope, no

Sometimes the only words I have are that I have no words.  Just kidding. I have these: "Remember: 'no' can be the most loving thing to say and do.'" Related: Enough. Consequences.  Here is a birch tree. Stay home, stay safe, wear a mask, and hold elected officials accountable. 

Mending, Tending, Extending

Hello, 2021. Yes, 2020 was the year like no other. The pandemic. The election.   But other things—I’ll resist calling them smaller—happened, too. 2020 was also the year in which I learned about mending, tending, and extending.   * I broke my wrists, both of them, and learned a new acronym: FOOSH, for fall onto outstretched hands. Related: I also became more aware of my intake of calcium and vitamin D, and the value of weight-bearing exercise. Also (again) that impatience doesn’t hurry healing. My first broken bones. (March)   * I drastically cut my to-do lists. It was hard to focus, early in the pandemic, so (beyond the basics—eating, showering) I did one small but important task on a project. And then the next task. Sometimes I could do two in a day, but I only had to do one. And projects got finished. “One thing a day” really helped me stay afloat through all the feelings everywhere. (April)   * I drew Hunter Biden’s face for 31 straight days. It had nothing to do wi