No Typos

“No Typos”

We inherited this 1917 Corona typewriter when we moved my MIL into memory care. The typewriter sat on a dusty shelf in my MIL’s garage. For years, my in-laws refurbished antiques, but with my FIL’s unexpected death four years ago and my MIL’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the antiques gathered dust, not new owners.

As I inspected the old-school typewriter, I noticed its manufacturer, Corona Typewriter Co. It’s 2020 and ironic that this year “corona” has a whole new meaning. Corona means virus. I also noted the typewriter’s age, made in 1917 – the year before that “other virus,” the Spanish flu threatened our world’s health.

In my MIL’s garage, while inspecting the typewriter’s condition, visions of WPM challenges and white-out autocorrection triggered memories of late-night research papers and of keeping up with my boss’ dictation; jogging memories of typists’ rules – to double space after punctuation and to include five spaces when beginning a new paragraph –

Many typewriter rules have vanished as have the chorus of the dinging typewriters’ returning carriages, but the memories are vivid and remain.

Deciding if I should take the typewriter, I thought,

My typewriter memories are clear. I remember. I remember fondly and positively my history.

Alzheimer’s robs memories.

Thankfully, right now, it hasn’t stolen mine.

Being able to think, to create, to type, and to remember are gifts.

I boxed up the Corona, put it into the Uhaul trailer, and drove it, along with my MIL’s personal belongings, 750 miles – from CO to PHX. We unloaded the Uhaul but left the boxes for three weeks while we settled my MIL into her new home. Because of coronavirus, my MIL’s memory care center is in lockdown and closed to visitors. I decided to open the boxes, finding the Corona.

I brainstormed how to display the typewriter and its symbolism in our home, Esperanza.

I found the Corona 3 font online, typed and printed my favorite quote,

“that possibility absolutely exists,”

and fed the printed paper with its specialty font into the typewriter’s carriage.

The Corona typewriter and its typed message belong here.

To our world, Corona still means a virus, but to me, it now also means esperanza, hope.

The possibility of us, too, developing Alzheimer’s someday absolutely exists, but right here, right now, we are filling Esperanza with esperanza.

No typos, you read that right,

what’s meaningful to us

is

we can remember.

Off with the Mask

Wigs have really improved – goodbye, fake-looking center parts and overly shiny, thick monotone hair – hello, a substitution for hair which would take a big, powerful wind to blow it off before knowing it isn’t real.

I went with my friend to get a wig. She wanted my approval.  The chemo drug she’s taking has caused quite a bit of hair loss, and the hair remaining is coarse – 1″ in the front, 6″ in the back – she’s at the point where she feels better covering it up, yet isn’t ready to cut it off.  Choosing a wig didn’t take much time – she already had an idea of what she wanted.  She’d been researching and readying for a wig.  I was there to give a thumbs-up and to hug her after her purchase.

She placed the order for her new hair, and we left.  I assured her as we walked to her parked car that the wig looked natural and real.  Once again, her strength and perseverance are inspiring – she’s whacked another mole; only this time, the mole isn’t blood clots, a brain tumor, or pneumonia, it’s her physical appearance. She’s a woman who’s defied age for the 25 years I’ve known her.  She’s looks 20 years younger than her actual age, and people constantly tell her she’s gorgeous. She’s not ready to say goodbye to her hair. It’s key to her appearance.  It’s important to her. I understand.

She had driven us to the wig shop, so on the way back to my house, I asked for her to stop by the polling center, so I could turn in my early voting ballot. She agreed to help me out – she never wigs out when I ask to do annoying things, she’s real with me and I love that – and on the way, with the extra travel time, we started to talk about her mother.

“Mother was bipolar – when we were living at home, we’d bring friends to the house, and Mother would light up, offering them drinks, telling stories and engaging with them, but when it was just us, her family, she’d never sit and talk with us. She’d go in her office and work.”

Recently, her mother died – leaving behind some money for her siblings and her, “this was Daddy’s money – Mother gave all hers to the Internet scammers – including the equity in our house.”

The obsession with get-rich-quick scams was a first sign of her mother’s dementia.  Responding to the emails of Canadian scammers, who promised huge cash paydays, her mother mailed and wired the family’s savings to unknown P.O. boxes and obscure bank accounts in Canada. As their mother’s focus became more and more centered on being at home “to receive the big check” from the scammers, the children’s worst fears were realized. Their mother was obsessed with fake promises of getting rich. Money was her focus. When their mother’s money ran out, their mother’s addiction couldn’t be fed, and then she lost everything, including her mind.

She spent the next 10 years in an assisted living facility, lit up, smiling at visitors who entered her single room, and that’s another sad part of this life story – the visitors were all strangers, including her children. She, a prisoner in her own body, recognized no one and couldn’t care for herself. She spent ten years, caught inside her lost memory, doing not much more than eating and sleeping, except for one weekly highlight –

getting her hair done.

Ironically, the hair appointments were paid for by the protected money that had been set aside by her children from her deceased husband’s savings. Daddy’s private savings was used for Mother’s personal care.

Her hair was important to her. She’d handed that importance onto her children…and now, one of her children has to say goodbye to her real hair.

Why did Mother avoid interacting with her children when they were young and in need of her intimacy and affection? She possibly struggled with reality, dreaming of a perfect life, but never learning that if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Would today’s wig purchasing have looked differently if her Mother had sat on the couch with her children after school, being real? I can’t help but think today would’ve been less about hair and more about missing her Mother’s presence at this real moment in my friend’s life. How would things have looked if someone would have wrapped their arms around Mother, led her from her office, hugged her without letting go and whispered to her, “it’s ok to be imperfect, perfection doesn’t exist.”

Unfading Beauty

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (NLT) ( 1 Peter 3:4)

We spend a lot of time focusing on our outward appearance such as perfecting our hairstyle, improving our physique, selecting the right clothes. In all, a lot of thought goes into creating just the right look. Do we spend the same amount of time cultivating our inner beauty? We know what inner beauty looks like…patience, generosity, peace-loving, fearless, and filled with a silent strength. Are we spending more time worrying about the color of our teeth instead of the kind of words that come out of our mouth? Ultimately our words [and focus] are a reflection of our heart. – Devotion Application, iOs, 3.23.2016

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“Off with the Mask”