Laughing For Cupcake At The Animal House - Byrdcalls (cheep) Blog at - 172672

Byrdcalls (cheep)

Laughing for Cupcake at the Animal House 
Apr. 30, 2010 7:35 pm 
Updated: Feb. 27, 2015 4:35 am
WARNING: NO FOOD HERE. This isn't about food and it's long. I'll try to give a warning when it IS about food and when it's short. This is about work again and me, me, me.
I should have posted in installments, but I really can't look at it anymore and I probably would have chickened out after the first one anyway. 
Most of the names are not real; the events are (except for the delusions and I can't help that).
Laughing for Cupcake at the Animal House
She’s really awful. She’s a lemon. She complains, accuses, begrudges and holds grudges. She’s my least favorite type of person, and she’s my favorite resident. I’m calling her Cupcake for this story to be more food-related (ha!), and because it tickles me.
[I wrote this story in my head first – like I always do - so I started calling her Cupcake to her face before I started the actual writing and it tickles her, too – not that she would ever admit it in a thousand stingy years. She’s Cupcake now, forever. I can thank the foodies for that.]
Anyway, she’s horrid. Remember this lady? Then you’re getting closer.
She’s always been horrible, but now she has dementia so it’s even more … interesting, and now that she has dementia, she’s all mine. I’ve had her for two years.
Her family is estranged. My own mother and I are like chalk and cheese. Though she lives in an apartment in my house, we mix badly and rarely so I’m the last to cast stones on estrangement. Sometimes you have to save yourself. I don’t judge them, I don’t blame them, and I’ve heard they’re just as awful as she is, so who I’d really like to meet is the original breeder of this nurtured mess but I never will because the mess is huge, and generations old. No one knows who made it.
I met the granddaughter. She’s trying to break the cycle and came for closure on the mean old woman who tormented her childhood. I hope she got it. The daughter is just waiting for the money that everyone knows is there but isn’t discussing.  I hope she gets it.
She has no friends. There are a couple of women from her old church that visit rarely, and always together. No one dares to come alone. One of them was kind enough to become Cupcake’s POA when the husband died before she came here, but then quickly turned management over to a guardianship company when she realized the trouble she was in. The POA lady said the husband couldn’t wait to be rid of her. That’s so sad. That’s how awful she is.
She’s very religious, but it brings her no peace. Like so many others, she wears her religion like self-righteous armor – locked up in doctrine, keeping the real faith out. The tidings of comfort and joy got lost in the din of the wailing and gnashing. She misses the heart of everything, focused on the hackles and underbelly.
I love her.
Of course, I’m paid to. I'm no martyr. I couldn’t be bothered with her in my outside life. I couldn’t afford to. I have some family members that are negative people and I just don’t deal with them unless I have to. I don’t make friends with negative people, though they are often drawn to me. I’m not talking about people that have negative days, or negative situations, or negative opinions – we all have those. I mean the ones that have negative lives, the ones that wallow and revel and roll in it. I know myself and I know I can’t afford their misery.
I ignore them if they cross my path, or shoot a little jolly acid in their faces and run. Oh, I’ve been known to give them a scold or two, but that’s only when I’m feeling weak and threatened – or feel that someone weak is being threatened. It’s best to keep walking on your path and not stop for them.  They’ll suck your happy soul right out of you if you give them the chance. It’s not really their fault; it’s just what they do, what they know. Some of them can change, but there’s no point in investing yourself in that. They need to have their epiphany on their own and catch up with you later. Count them as lemons and check out. There are plenty of peaches here, and life is hard enough.
When I’m working, I’m different. I love the lemons the best.
The people I take care of are helpless; sometimes negativity is the only power they have, but they have no power over me, no soul-sucking abilities - so that’s definitely part of the reason I can love them. I can afford them. I can keep my painful buttons hidden where they can’t reach – you can’t do that on the outside. And too, caregiving is very base. All of us really need and want the same 2 basic things. We want to be safe and we want to be loved and I believe we all deserve it. When I’m working, I can give both of those things – to anyone, no matter how awful they are. The more awful they are, the more they yearn for those things and the harder it is for them to feel them, so I’m drawing deep from my well and working at the very top of my game. I’m giving love and safety like there’s no tomorrow. They challenge me to give them more, to be the most purely human I can be. So it’s also about loving myself, the harder I work to love the mean ones.
Do you see? They force my best self out, and I like her.
It’s all about me.
What I've got's full stock of thoughts and dreams that scatter
But you pull them all together / And how, I can't explain
You make my dreams come true
The last reason I love the lemons is because they are funny as hell, especially when they’re crazy. They’re like cartoon characters. You can’t hate a cartoon character because they aren’t real. You can only laugh at how evil they are and root for them a little in their terrible schemes. They’re always getting stymied anyway, so there’s no real danger. I can feel sorry Cupcake all day - and I do - but pity isn’t very useful in my work and it’s never really wanted. Humor is crucial, and mine is large and screwy. Cupcake cracks me up, and I love her for it.
She’s the first thing I do every morning because she’s always the last to get going. She takes forever to wake up and has to coil up and hiss for a while before she can strike, so I go to her room first thing and start making  little warning noises before I get on with making breakfast for the others. I crack the blinds – she has a sweeping view of water and mountains – and turn on her lamp. I sing a soft,
Good morning, Cupcake!
I rattle her medicine boxes and clatter her pills around for good measure and go up to the kitchen.
(My lady is calling for her mama from downstairs. It has gotten a little better, but it stills goes on and on. Just because I’m thinking about somebody else doesn’t mean she isn’t running her tape. Just so you know and don’t feel cheated. I’m working the stairs too, cranking out the tunes.)
When Cupcake finally does wake up, she will come up slowly, grunting and wheezing, coughing and gagging. She’s precious. She sits swaying on the edge of the bed, a fractious little hunchbacked imp with stupid hair and no teeth, snarling and spitting, grunting one-word orders at me with her eyes screwed shut, her face all bunched-up and sheet-creased. I have to bite my cheek to keep from laughing at her. Every morning.
I find her purse and hand it to her. She hides her purse in her bed at night. It’s filled with useless junk that she is always accusing us of stealing: 5 cheap combs, a multitude of hairbands and clips and bobby pins, a package of 1.5 volt batteries, a wallet with no cash and long-expired credit and business cards, ancient candy, broken nail clippers, and a thousand tissues. She wraps her things in napkins and tissues to disguise them and hides them in her purse and around her room. She needs help to hide them but can never remember which one of us helped her or where we hid them and when she’s feeling paranoid she trusts no one, so she’s sure her things have been stolen. This happens every day. The most common stolen items are her grey slacks – she never had them here, her good glasses – she has only one pair that she insists are not the ones she’s talking about, birdseed (wtf?), and hairbands – any one or type, including imaginary. We buy her hairbands when we are out in the world because we are idiots trying to please her; one more for her to worry about; one more for us to steal. She’ll accuse the one that bought it of stealing it tomorrow. I swear we’re gluttons for punishment, and I’m the guiltiest. Ha.
She means she wants a new one – it will be squirreled into the purse with the others as soon as I turn my back. Not because I would keep it from her. She just doesn't want me to see where she hides it.
I sit down next to her and hold the drink so she can suck on the straw. I put my other arm around her hips to hold her up a little. She’s wearing the black and hot pink Victoria’s Secret jammies I gave her. She loves them, and she looks cute and ridiculous. Grumpy little goofus.
Rub my back.
I rub her back. Here’s where I will start to babble to her, when her sentences get longer and less urgent. She lets me talk about nothing because she thinks she’s stalling the end of the back rub or stalling getting out of bed, but I know she’s not going anywhere for a while – no matter what I do – so I just rub her back and talk softly to her about nothing, to keep myself entertained while I wait. See how patient I am? I hate waiting for anything, so I feel like a saint and it makes me all the more charitable. I could sit here all day being lovely. Ha. I’m dying to roll, chop-chop, but she’ll never know it because I’m so good at playing her game. I want her to win. We can play all day with her winning, which means I’m beating the pants off of her. We both rule triumphant, and eventually she’ll have to go to the bathroom. Then we win again. It’s crazy how often we both win at this game. She has no idea we're on the same team.
Next she will start her litany with her eyes still closed.
I’m glad you’re here. Is the other one gone?
Jen? Yeah, she left at 7 when I got here.
Good. She gives me the creeps.
Jen does? I thought you loved her.
Huh! Not anymore. She had little kids in and out of my room all night, pulling me out
of bed by my ankles. Gave me the willies and I didn’t sleep a wink.
Oh, I’m sorry. How weird! That’s not like her.
I’ve been laying here awake for hours waiting for you to get here.
Really? I've been here since 7. I peeked in a few times and I thought you were fast asleep.
Who could sleep? I’ve been awake all night waiting.
Oh I hate that, waiting for morning. You’ll have to take it easy today.
Well, I guess she hates me now. Didn’t even to say goodbye. Didn’t say a word to me.
Jen’s crazy about you. She probably thought you were asleep like I did and didn’t want to bother you.
Pfft! I was wide awake all night!
Well, you had me completely fooled.
That’s not hard. Fooling you.
Nope. I’m dumb as they come.
You said it, not me.
Ha. You got me.
She opens one eye and sneers. She’s a mean one, alright. Crazy to boot. My fave.
I sing Bad, Bad Leroy Brown in my head while I talk.
He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun / He got a razor in his shoe
And I chuckle. She’s awful.
I sputter with laughter. As horrible as she is, Cupcake has never really lost patience with another resident before. She’ll be borderline rude to them, maybe roll her eyes behind their backs, but this is the first time I’ve heard her lose it.
Well, I’m sorry, but I told her the other day. I said, “Now, you are just going to have to stop this business. This is enough now. I’ve had enough of this mama business.”
This kills me and I’m rolling. We’ve all had enough of this mama business. If my best self can barely stand it, it has to be pure torture on a sickly mean-hearted wretch like Cupcake. I imagine how she had to hold back, how long she must have waited before giving that little speech. Firm, but not too mean. As hard as I’m laughing, it also makes me proud to know she’s been giving the best of her game, too.
Oh my God. What did she say?
Well, you know she couldn’t care less. She never listens to anyone. Oh, she’ll stop for a minute and start right back up again, you just wait. She’s stubborn, is what she is. You can’t help noticing.
I laugh until I’m weak.
Cupcake pulls a face. See? She has to grin a little, seeing me helpless.
She doesn’t know how to laugh. She scoffs, snorts and jeers, but there is no real laughter, nothing spontaneous. She has a sharp and wicked sense of humor, but it doesn’t really please her. Or it does, but she doesn’t laugh. I can’t imagine living. I laugh all day long. Even on my lowest days, I don’t think I’ve had a day when I didn’t laugh at least once. I come unhinged with laughter. That deep and uncontrollable better-than-sex laugh that bubbles up, splashes out, hurts a little and leaves me dizzy with the glow of it. In fact, I have to practice not laughing because it can tend to come out at the wrong times.
Wedding ceremonies, for instance – I’m awful for them, laughed half to death during my own. I’m in a wedding in a couple of weeks and I keep getting the giggles just thinking about trying not to laugh during the ceremony.  Anyway, Cupcake and I make quite a pair. We’re on the same team. She loves to make me laugh, and she’s in luck because I’m really good at it. I make a monkey out of myself trying to get her to laugh, and she just can’t – and that makes me laugh at myself for being such an imbecile, which pleases her because we both love to make fun of me. 
She does treat me like a fool, but I don’t think she believes I’m stupid. I think she would eat me alive if she really thought so. Once I sat next to her on the couch in the front room, straightening her tube and making sure her alarm was clipped to her. She put her hand on my leg and said,
They can never call us fools, you and I.
I leaned my head on her shoulder and said,
Nope, Cupcake. They can call us just about everything else, but never fools.
We both sat there a minute, smiling at the thought of being so wise and despised. On the same team. I wanted her to gather me in her arms and sing to me, but she pinched my thigh really hard instead. HA! Ow.
This is how she loves me. Her nails are sharp and it hurts, but there is love there too. She likes to hold my hand, driving a thumbnail into my knuckles. She likes to see how much I can take.  Her love is pointy, a hard and nasty little ball of spikes. I laugh at it and toss back to her. 
Mine is soft and I throw like a girl, but my aim is pretty true.
Once I was trying to get her to finish her juice and she said,
What do you care? You wish I was dead anyway.
It floored me and I snapped at her:
You listen to me, Cupcake! You are my reason for getting up in the morning, the first thing I think about. When you are well I’m afraid you’re going to get sick and when you are sick I’m afraid you’re going to die. You’ll likely die before me, but it’s going to be hard for me to let you go,  so as long as you keep waking up in the morning I’m going to keep trying to get you through the day. I’ll be good to you. I’m going to miss you like hell when you’re gone and that’s the truth, so you need to watch what you say to me because it’s mean and I don’t deserve it!
That was my only real scold at her. Almost verbatim. I was feeling weak and threatened, and she got me good. She found a button. Angry and teary, I wanted to paste her to the wall and tell her all about herself, but my best self wouldn’t let me do it. My best self keeps her safe and loved.
She just grunted and shrugged. Oooh, she’s horrid. You have to admire it.
I guess I’ll just sit here and wait until you decide if you’re going to bring me any tea then.
But I could see her underneath where she’s alone, and I know she wanted to believe me. I hope I gave her a reasonable doubt. We should all leave this place knowing we will be missed by someone; that someone sees us going. She only has us. Every word I said was true.
I love you, Cupcake. You’re a tough nut to crack.
It takes one to know one.
Then I wouldn’t know. I’m totally cracked.
You said it, not me.
I said it and I'll get your tea too, Scrooge McDuck.
It's about time.
That was a couple of months ago. She was healthier then, more full of it. She’s dying now and it’s taken the some of the wind out of her sails. Literally. I was told this morning that this time is it. She can’t come back from this one. It could be 2 days or 7 days, but she won’t last into the following week. Oh.  
Somehow it’s harder to let the mean ones go. The others had real lives, people that loved them, people they loved. They know how to laugh. They had joy. They’ve had the 4 food groups of life. The thrill is gone and they’re ready to roll. It’s easier to want that for them because they’re done here. It’s hard to feel like the mean ones are done. I want them to hurry up and get it before they go.  / Here, I’ll show you! It’s right here! / Somehow I think they’re going to stick around until they get it, then they don’t.
A lifelong asthmatic, her poor lungs have had it. Severe scoliosis and osteoporosis are squeezing her spine over and her ribs in, crushing out what little air capacity she has left. There will be no more hospitals; she doesn’t want to go and there’s nothing to be done that we can’t do here. She’s been on oxygen since the last time she was hospitalized, and the amount she needed kept increasing until she reached the max. She’s staying above 90 percent saturation, but she doesn’t feel like she has any. Her lungs spasm and grab for more as they fail. This is an awful way to go. No one deserves it, not even the most awful of us. But remember: it’s not about what you deserve as much as it is about what you get.
We have to work with what we’ve got, so we give her morphine and Ativan to calm the panic, to help her feel the air she’s getting. We give her Albuterol treatments to try to keep here airways clear. If nothing else, it helps her think it is helping. She mostly sleeps now because the drugs knock her out. She’ll wake up gasping and need more. We try to give it often enough to prevent the panic from coming, but she’s progressing quickly and we also have to be careful not to overdose her, so sometimes we’re too late and she panics anyway. She’s lucky that the drugs work for her, and they work fast. Not everyone is so lucky.
Sometimes when she panics, my own throat closes with pity and my own lungs squeeze shut. I have to turn away from her terror, her pleading eyes - to shake myself and blink fat tears. There is no room for pity here. She needs strength, and I have it. My best self. The drugs under her tongue, a hand on her head, and the voice softly talking about nothing, singing and soothing her down, until the drugs kill the panic and she can sleep again.
Heal my heart and make it clean / Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me
I’m no great singer, but I know lots of songs. I can yank lyrics right out of the stairs and keep them coming. I’ll find the song she needs, or one that works, to get her where she’s going. I will. Today, if I have to.
But right now, it’s time to get C up and I need the relief of doing it. Here’s a fun and easy trap I fall into. Anyone who has spent any time with a non-verbal person may know what I’m talking about. Sometimes I just feel like I have to fill the silence. So I babble. I tell him outside stuff. My outside life is pretty simple, so he doesn’t get a lot of dirt on me, but he gets a lot of stuff, if you can imagine. I also bust out songs on him as we work.  I know I drive C crazy sometimes, so I’m careful to ask him if he wants me to shut up and leave him alone – and he’ll say yes if he means it. I’ve had other caregivers ask if he likes me and he answers yes. He wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable saying no, but he wouldn’t have a problem saying nothing and closing his eyes, which would mean no. When they ask him if I drive him crazy, he just laughs. That means yes, but that he’s okay with it. So I sally forth. One of my favorite getting-C-ready raps is the one I do today:
Yo, C! Hit it!
I wanna rock right now
I'm SB and I came to get down
I'm not internationally known
But I'm known to rock the microphone
Because I get stupid, I mean outrageous
Stay away from me if you're contagious
Cuz I'm a winner, no, not a loser
To be an MC is what I choose-a
Ladies love me, girls adore me
I mean even the ones who never saw me like
 The way that I rhyme at a show
The reason why, man, I don't know
So let's go cuz
C rolls his eyes, laughs, and groans at me. I bet he wishes he could rap with me – he has to know this one by heart now, we’ve been working to it for 2 years. His brain damage totally screwed his body over, his social boundaries are wiped out, and his sense of time is gone, but he knows music and people. He knows what movies he’s seen and whether he wants to see them again. He still knows the capitols of the states, and probably everything else he ever learned in school – and he has a doctorate, so it’s far more than I know. I bet he wouldn’t miss a word of our rap if he could just say it.
We flow through our routine, and I get him in lift, and then lower him into his chair. He’s got a busy afternoon coming and I don’t want to wear him out too early, but I want him to throw up his hands a little. It keeps us in shape and makes us laugh.
So throw up your hands
Go for what you know
Bro, I got an ego
Yo, talkin' to me? No?
We’re just finishing up when there is a loud and awful groan from the other side of the house, a grating, whining, retching sound I have never heard. Rasping and heaving. Again and again.
I look at C. His eyes widen and he shrugs.
 Oh my God.
(Go, Go. GO!)
I run down the hall toward Cupcake’s room.
(Oh God, I can’t do this, I can’t do this alone, this is too horrible, why am I here for this, don’t make me do this, oh that’s awful make it stop, I can’t do this, please, I can’t do this)
I can do this, but it’s not even her. She’s sleeping peacefully, doped to the nines. Her breathing is shallow and wheezy, but quiet. What is that horrible deathsound?
I realize it’s coming from outside, and I step out onto the deck just off Cupcake’s room. At the house just below ours to the south, 3 little girls are playing on a swing set. It’s May in Seattle, the weather is finally nice enough for swinging, and the chains of the swing grate and grind on the metal as they try to get over the rain and do their springtime job. The little girls pump their legs and chatter happily. A woman sits on the steps of their deck holding a mug and smiling while she watches them. I’m above them, a birds-eye view of their little scene. As I stand there watching, the sound of the swings loosens and lessens with use. The sound of death snarling up my back was really just life playing in the back yard.
The sun is out and the day is clear and clean. There are boats on the water and blossoms on the cherry and crabapple trees. I can see our peonies bounding up in the yard below, fat buds on the stems. The pink blossoms will be humongous when they finally bloom, bowing their heads to the ground and pulling their own stems over. Kind of a bad design by the heavens, but heavenly gorgeous just the same. I’ll show you when they bloom.
Happy little girls are so happy, aren’t they?
I’m still recovering from the sheer horror that Cupcake is going to die terribly in my face right this minute, so my thoughts are with her – but now they are also tangled up with these girls and their mom. Was Cupcake ever a laughing little girl? Who stole her joy? Almost all of us are born capable of it. She must have had it at some point. Where did it go? Did she wrap it in a napkin and hide it? Why? Does she have to die before she finds it? Yes, I suppose she’s  - - 
Blah! I yelp, jump out of my skin and turn around. The old guy next door is out on his deck hollering at me.
I laugh, make a face and do a little dance ala oh-you-scared-me-I’m-such-a-boob and head back inside. I’d rather have him think I’m a friendly goofball than a broody deep-thinker. I’m both, but don’t tell anyone. I’ve got a rep to uphold on this little stretch of road. People start expecting you to think deeply all the time and it gets really old and maudlin.
We have a petting zoo coming today at two. It’s a party for C, whose birthday was Wednesday. Truth be told, a stripper would be more appropriate; the dude’s got a libido the likes of which I have never encountered (Yes. I mean never. You’ll have to give this one to C, fat lot of good it does him). Anyway, a petting zoo it is. C also really loves animals, so it’s not like this is totally off the map. It’s just that a stripper would be so much more … whatever. I lobbied for a stripper and they all laughed at me. Even C. Sometimes I feel like no one knows how smart I am.
Cupcake is starting to come out of her stupor, and starting to cough. Coughing starts the panic, so it’s time for another breathing treatment and more drugs. I go to the fridge in the storage room pull a morphine dose out of the lockbox. I’m going to try to hold off on the Ativan for a bit. I’d like her to be pleasantly stoned for the petting zoo, but awake if I can swing it.
Ted has come to help set up tables out on the parking strip. The little zoo will be set up in the double driveway. Ted is a friend of my boss who comes over to help with parties. He’s an extremely handsome man of about 40, gay as can be, and Cupcake has the hots for him. He’s a really good guy, and nice enough to humor her crush. She says she’s known him for years, and that he used to come to her house and give her and her husband pedicures. HA! That slays me. He told me very quietly and seriously that it wasn’t true, which just about did me in.
He sits in her room with her for a bit while I get the other residents up from their naps and start getting them ready to go outside. Cupcake loves men. She gets all sweet and kittenish around them, the little ratfink. She even rallies a little when Ted comes into her room today, while she’s dying. Ted’s stoked about the petting zoo:
Are you excited about the animals, Cupcake?
I’ve already got one in my room, haven’t I?
She arches an eyebrow and puts her fist to her chin. Hussy!  Thank God we put her teeth in earlier or she’d kill me dead. I go and gather the things we’ll need with us outside. We’ve got a lot of equipment.
I need stop back by to check on her before I start taking the others out, so I step on the Sarita lift and skate it down the hall clumsily.
Look, Cupcake! I’m a Macy’s float! Princess wave!
She looks at Ted and rolls her eyes. Ted says,
She really likes you. She just told me.
I like Jen better.
HA! She can’t even let me have the compliment she just paid me. Not to my face. And here I am breaking my neck to be a float for her!
I thought Jen gave you the willies.
No, that was the other kid. Thor.
Thor? (Who is Thor? Isn’t that a superhero?)
Yeah. Thor. I worked with her for years. She can’t say 3 words straight. Plus, she stole my grey slacks. Jen is my favorite.
You’re her second favorite then.  (Ted tries to save it)
That’s cool. If I have to be second to someone, I’m glad it’s Jen and not Thor.
This is true.  The residents have excellent taste. Their favorites are always my favorites and their least favorites weed themselves out quickly because they suck as caregivers. Besides, Cupcake calls me Jen half the time so there’s always a chance I’m her real favorite after all. Gotcha, squinchface!
Jen? I can’t stand that kid. She gives me the creeps.
HA! You’re killing me, Cupcake.
And your name is?
I’m Sunny, hot stuff. Your favorite. Don't forget and be sure to tell the others.
You said it, not me.
Ted and I are laughing. Cupcake flashes me a pirate smile and a wink to let me know she got me again. She’s high as a kite and enjoying herself. I’ll take it.
Who would be the fool to take you / Be more than just kind
Step into a life of maybe / Love is hard to find
In the church of the poison mind
The animals are here and the party is in full swing. The whole front of the house is full of people. My boss is one of those flighty unorganized women with a heart of pure shining gold. She’s accidentally bought and hung a ‘Happy Retirement’ sign across the garage. She doesn’t even notice it until I ask her who’s retiring – halfway through the party.
(Well, I didn’t know! She’s just the type that would have jammed someone else’s party in with this one!  I have no idea who half these people even are!)
She howls with laughter and makes me take a picture of her in front of the sign. It’s a great picture. The irony of the ‘retirement’ mistake is not lost on us; C was recently put on hospice, which means his life expectancy is less than 6 months. In the meantime, he’s stuck with a lunatic nurse and a dingbat caregiver at a retirement party in a petting zoo. We laugh until we cry – and don’t mention it to anyone. They won’t notice the big purple banner at centerstage, right?  
(Later tonight, as I’m falling asleep, I start giggling about this again. I try to be quiet, but it bubbles over. The excellent Mr. Byrd groans, Oh God. He really gets tired of me sometimes. HA!)
J is leading the pony around and around, saying over and over,
I look like a farmer.
And he does; a deranged and wizard-y farmer with a very fat pony. The pictures I take of him today will keep me laughing for years.
J is about as weird as they come. We had to ask him specially to trim his mustache for the party. He has a thing about getting rid of his dead cells, so it always looks like he’s going for a world record. His caseworker is taking him to get his fingernails cut later, and not a moment too soon. They’re long like talons (he would love to know I said ‘talons’). He wears a dumb little fishing hat, and a plaid button-down shirt – tucked into sweats.
If you saw him, if you knew all of his weird compulsions and rituals, you might tell me to run for the hills - but he’s the gentlest person I know. We like to talk about language and religion, and more specifically about people, on the days he’s home for lunch. All three subjects fascinate us; we could go on for hours if I had the time. If he murders me while I load the dishwasher one day, you can say I-told-you-so. That’s fine by me because I’m willing to bet my life it will never happen. I’ve lived and worked beside people with mental illness long enough for it to rub off, and I can tell you that these people that make you uncomfortable are rarely dangerous. They’re almost always underestimated, but almost never in the ways you might think.
My Lady doesn’t give a rip about the animals, being a farm girl from way back -
Do you like the animals, my lady?
Yes, I will eat them.
Ha! You’re savage!
She is enchanted with all of the kids. She humors us by holding a puppy for a while, but when I ask her if she wants to hold a bunny, she says,
No. I want that boy. 
And I don’t blame her. The boy she has zeroed in on is primo, a beauty of 6 or 7 who struts around in little jeans and an orange t-shirt, looking right into the eyes of each animal one by one.  Not picking them up or petting them, just checking out their souls. I get a great shot of him and the pony gazing at one another.
S isn’t very interested in the animals, but this is the most action he’s seen in months so he’s feeling pretty slick. Plus, his granddaughter is here – a bright and devoted young lady of 19 (she’s already starting to get interested in boys! he told me) – and he’s just beaming as he watches her fall in love with a baby goat. He is one of the most unfortunate dementia patients, torn between reality and delusion. He often tries to fake it because he knows the things he’s thinking and seeing just aren’t right and he questions his own sanity, but doesn’t want anyone else to. I have to wonder if he thinks he’s hallucinating this shindig, but I’m not so sure that I’m not, so eff it. Let’s party.
Cupcake is holding a mini Chihuahua puppy, a little black and white guy about the size of a Coke. He’s licking her face like mad. If she wasn’t dying I might be worried about germs, but she’s loving it and germs can’t hurt her now. Her eyes are glazed with morphine. She has tenderness with animals that she isn’t able to summon with people. I take about 10 pictures of her loving the puppy so softly. What would her life have been like if she could give that to someone?
J’s case manager is here with her 3-month-old baby boy. We haven’t seen her since she went on maternity leave. J’s a little nervous of the baby, but I’m a total sucker so I take him out of her arms and scoot away with him. He’s a dinky little guy, smaller than mine were I think. I gather him up to my neck and he grooves right in and relaxes. Babies dig me because I keep moving and don’t bother them too much as long as they let me hold them. I take him around to show the residents. They all love babies (except Cupcake; babies get too much attention for her taste – they get spoiled, you know, and then there’s nothing you can do about it) and we don’t see nearly enough of them around these parts. I lean down to show him off to C and mutter a little bonus rap at him while I move the baby to the beat:
I'm pumpin' em, I'm pumpin' em,
I'm pump-pump-pump-pump-pumpin' em
From Pakistan to Poland / Straight into your town
Scoopin' up kiddies like a circus clown
The baby and I keep cruising before C can roll his eyes at me.  I crack myself up!
S surprises me with how delighted he is, though. I wouldn’t have pegged him for such a sucker, but he’s gone plain moony over this baby. I hold the baby down low to his wheelchair and let him stroke his head and cheeks, marvel over his tiny pajamas until the baby gets mad and I have to get him moving again. As we walk, I croon in his ear,
We want the funk / Give up the funk (ow) / We need the funk
Gotta have that funk
I had a feeling that was his favorite song and I was right.
With the Funkmaster tucked under one arm and my camera in the other hand, I step over the oxygen tube, climb over the animal fences, sidestep wheelchairs, and stand on the curb to get an epic shot of the patients, their caregivers, their caseworkers, their families, their neighbors and their animals in front of the ‘Happy Retirement’ banner.
This is a serious freakshow, and I’ve almost got the poster for the movie when up the street walk two little boys, both dressed as Batman, with their dog and their parents following behind. Their costumes are identical, complete with ‘muscles.’ Being superheroes, they quickly assess the situation and leap into the pen with the goats, lambs and bunnies, while the dog goes nuts, circling the pens and sniffing madly at the baby pig and Chihuahuas (Careful, dude! That pig bites!)
All I was missing was 2 Batmen and a frenzied dog. I can see that now.
I have the shot and I take it.
I think to myself,
What the deuce? This is my job?! This is too awesome!
We get a new lady tomorrow. I hope she’s a corker.
I’ve got the giggles again and look across the chaos for Cupcake.
She looks up and sees me, sees me laughing. She smirks, and slowly raises one hand.
I get my last picture. It will probably make me cry. Later.
I never made promises lightly / And there have been some that I’ve broken
But I swear in the days still left / We’ll walk in fields of gold
The Playlist
You Make My Dreams by Hall & Oates
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce
Hosanna by Hillsong United (sung by SunnyB)
It Takes Two by Rob Base (SunnyB on the mic)
The Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club
Push by Prince (SunnyB on the mic)
We Want the Funk by George Clinton (sung by SunnyB)
Fields of Gold by Sting
Apr. 30, 2010 8:33 pm
Sunnybyrd you have a real talent for writing and I enjoy reading your blogs about your job...even if they aren't about food...LOL!!!! God bless and keep writing!!!
Apr. 30, 2010 8:37 pm
Thanks, TAMIE! This is even longer than I realized when I posted it, so bless you for hanging in there. I was afraid I would get 1 comment that said, "I'll read your blog when it's shorter, Loser." So you saved the day! THANKS!
Apr. 30, 2010 9:16 pm
Thank you for sharing; beautifully written. All about you? You think? Cupcake's no fool; she knows better, too.
Apr. 30, 2010 9:43 pm
Yay! Thank God there's a couple of hardcore readers on this site. I knew you were one of the hardcore, Hezzy. I was counting on you. I should be a gambler AND a rapper! Thank you. ♥
Apr. 30, 2010 10:19 pm
Awesome SunnyB. Thank you! You should seriously consider a side job. Compile all this and send it off to a publisher. You are gifted, and I mean more than your writing skills which are PONDEROUS! Thank you for what you do and for being your best Sunny self, on top of your game! Bravo, my love ♥
Apr. 30, 2010 11:08 pm
Thanks, Lady Sparkle! Wouldn't it be cool if I keep checking my blog and respond to people as they comment? I bet I don't, darnit. By "ponderous," I hope you mean "massive," because the meanings I'm most familiar with make me think you are trying to get back at me for laughing at your cake. LOL! Thanks so much for being hardcore (I was counting on you, too). ♥
Apr. 30, 2010 11:35 pm
Not trying to get back at you, LMAO!! (Trust me, I laughed at my cake tooo!!!) MASSIVE, GIGANTIC, HUGE, PRODIGEOUS (how's that?) *smiling semi-smuggly* Youse most awesome :)
Apr. 30, 2010 11:40 pm
. . . now if I could only get my i's and e's straight . . . prodigious. . . I'm of German heritage. . . that's my excuse and I'm stickin to it.
May 1, 2010 4:29 am
Awesome as always! Makes me not want to grow old, but I guess nobody gets a choice in that :(
May 1, 2010 5:00 am
I am so impressed! You are very gifted in so many ways. Your patients are lucky to have you in their lives. My grandmother's final days were much like Cupcake's (COPD) and Hospice was incredible. It takes a very special breed to do what you do. God Bless!!!!
May 1, 2010 5:24 am
Sunny, Please let Cupcake someone in NJ loves her. You are truly a great person and I hope I have someone like you around when the time comes, because my kids already told me they are sending me to the Home. (I realy don't think so.) Mag
May 1, 2010 5:45 am
I am glad I hung in there til the end (in more ways than one). Great read, SunnyB!! You Rock!!
May 1, 2010 6:16 am
Outstanding, Sunny. You make my heart feel just a little more full with your words and stories. Thanks for reminding all of us to give someone, if not everyone, our Best Self. Much love ♥
May 1, 2010 6:23 am
Wonderful read! A book of short stories about your job would be a great idea!
May 1, 2010 8:30 am
I think cupcake is my Nana?!?! Let me know when you start writing books! Such a good story:)
May 1, 2010 8:59 am
Well you made me cry again, just a day early. This is only Saturday right? lol. I just love your blogs and this one is a doozy. I can only pray that I will have someone like you to watch over me when the time comes. Cupcake is a very lucky lady, as are all of us that know you. Thanks again SunnyB for the smiles and the tears.
May 1, 2010 1:01 pm
LadySparkle - I like PRODIGIOUS! Thank you! :D
May 1, 2010 1:03 pm
SD - The alternative is the pits. Don't worry, we're going to be corkers! ♥
May 1, 2010 1:09 pm
BRENDA - Thanks so much! I'm sorry your grandma's last days were like this, but I'm glad hospice helped pull her through them. It's a great program - I hope we never lose it. (When the government gets something right they often feel like they have to do backsies - ha.) Thank you for reading! :)
May 1, 2010 1:14 pm
Yo Mags! Hey, lets go to the same one! Have your kids call my kids! I don't want mine taking care of me anyway - they're weird. Thank you. ♥
May 1, 2010 1:37 pm
1gdcowgirl - Are you one GD cowgirl or are you one good cowgirl? I'm pretty sure it's both. I'm glad you were able to hang in there til the end, too. Not everybody can, and who could blame them? It's a long hard road. You rock for making it! :)
May 1, 2010 2:01 pm
Thank you, Bug! It would do me in to give *everyone* my best self, but she's pretty tricky. I caught her coming home with me a couple of times. Who knows? If we take it on in increments... Your everyday cr@ppy self is pretty awesome, though. Your best could do some damage. ♥
May 1, 2010 2:04 pm
imateacher - Thank you! Looks like I may end up with one if I keep doing the longest blogs in the universe. You can say you knew me when. :D
May 1, 2010 2:19 pm
Juliann - Yikes, I hope not. Test her by calling her Scrooge McDuck. She should get real kick out of that one. Might even growl for you - but watch the nails! As for the book, keep an eye on the exchange. Someone there will know before I do. They're all sharp, but I'd put money on VirginiaMom. She just knows stuff like that - and I never do. Ha! I'm full of it! Thank you!! :D
May 1, 2010 2:23 pm
Again, Sunny, you remind us of what it is to be human. You remind me of a poem I found while cleaning out my grandfather's den after he passed away. I don't know where or who it came from, or who wrote it, but I feel you should have it. "Caregiver, what an inadequate word to describe what it is that you do. Lifesaver is more fitting a word for what comes so freely from you. I don't have to ask for what I need it appears quietly at my side. You never complain, you never begrudge you let me keep my pride. It's hard for those of us who are no longer who we were before. It doesn't make you love us less If anything, you love us more. It truly is a gift from God the way you care for me. If I did not have you in my life, I cannot think of where I would be. You don't get the praise that you deserve for standing solid and true. It's not enough to say "thanks" it's enormous this thing that you do. You truly are a wonder a treasure beyond price. You stuck by me through the raging storm not ever thinking twice. A weaker soul would run away from sickness and the pain. But not you, not ever you're always here, again and again. So to you, dear 'caregiver' my heart lies at your feet. You are the reason it functions still. You are every strong, solid beat." Thank you, Sunny.
May 1, 2010 2:34 pm
pelicangal - Well I tried to make it Sunday / but I got so damm depressed ---> Sister Golden Hair by America - HA! You can come back and read it again tomorrow. Just imagine how long it could have been if I didn't stop when I did! It's a "doozy" alright. I knew you'd cry. Glad you smiled. I want you to laugh. ♥
May 1, 2010 2:53 pm
mothermayI? - Thank you for reading it! :)
May 1, 2010 2:59 pm
Thanks for sharing your quirky (and wonderful!) view of your daily work life. My mother can continue to live in an assisted living facility because of wonderful caregivers like yourself. She too, can really push buttons with family members (and some caregivers). But because of people like you, she is able to stay in her apartment and not be transferred to a nursing home. You really should write a book. You have a great talent! Thank you.
May 1, 2010 3:14 pm
HugBug - Thanks for bringing the poem with you! Made me a little teary, but I've been living on the edge all week, so I guess that's to be expected. Makes you wonder who wrote it, huh? I'm just forever wondering about things. All these mysteries! Jeez. Thank YOU. ♥
May 1, 2010 3:29 pm
You're welcome. I've been over the edge this week. My sister had her first baby (Alexis, 5.15lbs, 19in.), my grandmother was released from the hospital with about 1-2 months to live, and I buried my cat last Friday. We both just have to hang in there and let Mother Nature do her thing. Lots of love and hugs!
May 1, 2010 4:04 pm
VBLISS - I'm so glad your mom is getting good care. She sounds like an excellent button pusher! Some folks just have a knack for it - I think MY mom must be holding training seminars somewhere. HA! Best of luck with her - and watch for any caregivers walking around with all their buttons hanging out; they don't have the chops for this work. Thank you for hanging in with me! :)
May 1, 2010 4:10 pm
HugBug - Ouch. No kidding. Hang in on the hard stuff and congratulations on your tiny new niece! ♥
May 1, 2010 5:46 pm
Hi Miss Sunny :) You are an amazing writer, you really should write a book. Thanks for sharing this with us all. It is a great reminder to give more of ourselves.
May 1, 2010 8:34 pm
Sunny I really think the blogs you have written about your vocation (because it is clearly more than a job)should be required reading for every caregiver in America. Your warmth and humor have surely enriched the existence of these poor souls. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us.
May 1, 2010 9:13 pm
rae - Thank you for getting through it! Sometimes I can write and sometimes I can't. A book might fall out of it some day. Sometimes I just get distracted by you knowing about honey, but not golden syrup - and me knowing golden syrup, but not sure about honey. I stop for too many laugh breaks. Thank you - it's good to see you here! :D
May 1, 2010 10:03 pm
BigShotsMom - The classes don't come close to preparing you for the work, but we also see far too many caregivers that are looking for a job. They still think poop is the hardest part. I'm not sure we can teach them passion. Maybe. What would be really cool is if people with passion could read it and decide to go into the work! LOL. Thanks so much for sharing it with me. :)
May 2, 2010 8:23 am
Thank-you, Sunny, for such a heart-felt blog. I will be wrapping my thoughts around your insight all day.
May 2, 2010 10:39 am
Getting through this? Are you kidding? I was wanting to read MORE! You really do have a way....I don't know you but I know you....get it, lol. Your people come to life in my head, which is exactly what a great writer can do. You are truly a special person and I just pray that if I ever require this type of care, that there is someone there like you to give it to me. Thanks for the great read, Sunny. I look forward to the next one.
May 2, 2010 6:06 pm
Isn't it enough to be an Angel? you have to be a born writer, too? I don't know how I came upon this, but I was mesmerized all the way though. If it were a whole book I would still be reading. Find a publisher and Keep Lovin'.
May 2, 2010 6:08 pm
Karisma - So will I - it can get tiring. Ha. Thanks for reading me! :)
May 2, 2010 6:20 pm
Janmarie - You must be one of the hardcore, but you gotta admit it you were here longer than you expected to be! I hope you get a good one, too. I hope we all do. I can't promise when the next one will come, but I'm glad you want to read it when it does. I may try another way to deliver it if it ends up being this long. I would post access to it on my blog here. I don't feel comfortable with my non-food blogs ending up on the 'popular blogs' list and squeezing one that should be there. Thank you for for reading - and for the lovely comment. :)
May 2, 2010 6:22 pm
PHEATHERQYLL - I'm also a rapper, dontcha know. Thanks so much! I'm glad you were mesmerized. I love that word. You keep lovin' too! :)
May 2, 2010 8:22 pm
Great blog Sunny, I couldn't stop until I got to the end. You're one talented lady in so many, many ways!
May 2, 2010 8:52 pm
Sunny, you are one amazing woman!! I love you and love your blog. You have such a loving heart and are perfect for the job you do. These people are so lucky to have you as their caregiver. My daughter does the same type of work and it does take a very special person to do this. She too, loves her people and is loved by them in return. Keep on doing what you do best which is loving the Cupcakes of this world and writing!! I will definately keep reading!! Love ya.....Ginny
May 3, 2010 12:17 am
Hi, Sunny - I read your blog down to the bittersweet end and said to myself, "I'll have what she's having, please..." Really, what/who/where replenishes you? Do you drive home and wonder how you got there? That's a lot of profound caring with death and disaster lurking very nearby. I hope for you some peaceful time, some sweet harmony of music or people you love. I just worry that you're dancing as fast as you can with no stop/rest in sight. Tell me you have a refill (or many) for all that mind/body energy being used. And, quite selfishly, I love your blogs.
May 3, 2010 6:07 am
LOL! Sunny! It's one good cowgrl most of the time...depends on who you ask. :D
May 3, 2010 11:16 am
Aww, Sunny...I was looking for a blog to give me ideas on meal planning, and I found yours. Wow, woman, you are profound! Bless you for working in an environment that would scare most people. I hope when I get old that I have someone like you, with your ability to giggle and play, to take care of me! Hugs from Texas; you are indeed a gifted writer, and I ditto others' comments about keeping these blogs somewhere for future publishing; your insights will be able to help many newbies in the field. In fact, I'm sending a link to your blog to one of my hubby's cousins, who works at a state hospital. Take care and keep on writing!
May 3, 2010 11:39 am
You are really gifted - thank you so much for sharing your stories and for caring for others so compassionately.
May 3, 2010 12:38 pm
SunnyB - when are you going to write a book??? I swear, I'll be the first in line to buy it! Your writing makes me feel like I'm there living it with you. I'm fighting back tears as I type because of the thought of Cupcake passing...and I've only just "met" her. Thank you for sharing your stories. You and your colleagues are amazing people!
May 3, 2010 3:00 pm
What a great day in the life of SunnyB. I felt like I was right there with you. I hope C enjoyed the party and give Cupcake some extra lovin from me. I hope she finds some peace. I know deep down you are her favorite. Thanks for the stories. I feel I see things the same way as you. Boy are we messed up!! As Cupcake would say...Takes one to know one!
May 3, 2010 4:45 pm
Holy Blog spot Batman that was a 2 cup of coffee read;) I can't complain-you did warn me, the readers digest version would have left me with questions. Now I feel like I was at the retirement party-thanks for the read:)
May 3, 2010 7:10 pm
Worth every moment of my time! What would t be like if everyone loved their job as much as you seem to? Thanks again for coming back! And thanks for giving so much love to people who need it!
May 3, 2010 9:17 pm
freezermama - Thanks for making it! :)
May 3, 2010 9:19 pm
1gdcowgirl - Hm. Just as I suspected! Maybe one GD good cowgirl would be the best way to go. Just to clear up any confusion. :D
May 3, 2010 9:22 pm
Oops! I went out of order - sorry! grannygigi - Thank you! I'm so glad your daughter loves it. The fact that her people love her means she's doing it right! Thanks for reading - I'll try to keep writing. ♥
May 3, 2010 9:32 pm
pip-emma - Funnily enough, I'm working on some writing in my head called, "Oops! My Cup Runneth Over!" that addresses some of the things you're talking about. Hopefully I'll get it out of my head soon - I've got a few floating around in there. The main thing is that I keep my life very simple. I put down the duckie when I want to play the saxaphone. I haven't always been great at this - and of course I haven't perfected it - but the last few years have given me a very clear picture of how it has to go and I'm closer every day. Loving my work is invigorating. Writing about it is therapeutic. Putting down the duckie is vital - unless you want to wear it on your head for a fun while you play. We'll see if Oops! makes it out. I think you'll be surprised at how much I don't do. Ha! Thank you! :)
May 3, 2010 9:51 pm
Johanna - Thank you! Giggling and playing is for me as much as it is for the residents. We need the break, man - this life can be hard. Through other jobs, I've put some time in at state hospitals - mostly in an advocacy capacity. I'd be interested to know what the cousin thinks and whether he/she can relate to it in the work. Actually, I think the spirit of this blog can relate to any work - but that's another story called "Pluck It Or You Suck," which is still stuck in my head. Ha! Thanks for reading! ?
May 3, 2010 9:52 pm
DarkAngel - Thank you for taking the time to read it - and then taking the time to comment. Means a lot (of time, ha)! :)
May 3, 2010 9:56 pm
Keri - Thanks so much! I will certainly let you know if that ever happens. I've been writing in my head for years, but it's just now falling off my fingers. One thing I'm not is consistent. I could take up needlepoint any minute (not). Thanks for rooting for Cupcake. She has to go very soon now, but it's nice to know that she's leaving a few more fans than she had last week. ♥
May 3, 2010 10:00 pm
MImom - What? Messed up? Jeezily, just when I thought I was going all genius! I have to believe there is peace for people the lemons. Haven't they been missing it long enough? Thanks for reading along with me! PS. You said it, not me. :D
May 3, 2010 10:05 pm
redneck gramma - Glad you could make it to retirement party. Wasn't it a hoot? You can't make that poo up, speaking of Batman. Thanks for refilling your cup! :D
May 3, 2010 10:11 pm
suzanne - I KNOW! I think, as much as it is about caregiving, my last 2 stories are about passion for 'the work' - whatever that work might be. It's a pretty cool trick I can do: The more I love the work, the better I am at it, and the better I get, the more I love the work, etc. Try it! You'll have fun and be in high demand, haha! :)
May 3, 2010 10:32 pm
Sunny, I love your blogs- I can totally relate. When I worked as a dietary aide, there was a cranky, craaaaanky woman named "Thelma". 100 years old, former teacher and she'd be the first to tell you that she was still pure as the driven snow. If one of the CNA's got pregnant, even if they were married, Thelma would tell them exactly what she thought of their morals. Oh, man, I loved her. I'd visit her on my days off. She'd tell me, and everyone else, that we were, "ROTTEN ROTTEN ROTTEN! Rotten to the core!" I can't tell you how many times I heard that. But she'd let me sit down in her room and talk with her, and she didn't do that for many people. Your blogs bring back such wonderful memories for me and you were born to write! Thanks for sharing this- your job rocks so much.
May 4, 2010 7:38 am hat's off to you! I couldn't ever do that job and have the utmost respect for anyone who can...great blog!
May 4, 2010 10:24 am
sunny you are an angel! such a kind and loving soul you possess. keep a journal. offer insights from your interactions to your resident's families, if, appropiate, i think they would appreciate it. i wish the world was filled with more sunny byrds! thank you for a great story!
May 4, 2010 2:42 pm
LOVE IT! Wish you could add some of the pictures you snapped. But then again, I have perfectly vivid pictures in my head of Cupcake and the other residents, as well as the entire setting, including the wonderous "retirement" party! Thanks for sharing!
May 4, 2010 2:59 pm
Wow, you leave me speechless! In a time and format where little holds my attention for long, I was never tempted to leave your story before it finished. It IS a wonderful story, but your telling is what really grabbed and held me. It's poetry.
May 4, 2010 3:29 pm
That was just incredible. Really incredible. You can really, really WRITE!! Holy. Unbelievably vivid and just amazing.
May 4, 2010 7:16 pm
I could read your stories for hours! Thank you.
May 4, 2010 7:18 pm
Wow This is REALLY long, your a really good writer
May 4, 2010 9:14 pm
Citrus Punch - Welcome back! I'm so glad you have good memories of your time with Thelma. Cranky crabasses are a kick in the pants! Thanks for reading with me! ♥
May 4, 2010 9:31 pm
witchywoman - Thank you! You know, I could never go around the world in an RV or many of the other things you do. It's cool that different people do different things and report on them, so we call ALL experience them vicariously. Thank you - rock on. ♥
May 4, 2010 9:35 pm
gderr - Thanks for coming by! I do report to the families of the residents that have them. It's a relief to them that someone enjoys the kinds of behaviors that drive them crazy. One of the fears people have is that no one will be able to take the nonsense/irritation/violence of the person they love, so they are always so happy to know we can take it - and we cherish it. Thanks, my friend! (one more Sunny would be a little too many, ha!) ♥
May 4, 2010 9:38 pm
Mi Being Mi - I wish I could have included the pictures, too! I can't, for obvious reasons, but I can tell you they are AWESOME. I hope you got a fairly good view of us anyway. Thanks for reading! :)
May 4, 2010 9:40 pm
Ruby 2 - Wow, thank you. What a great compliment on the writing. You describe what I hope to achieve when I'm working on it, so I'm glad that came through for you. Thanks! :D
May 4, 2010 10:13 pm
SHELLBELL - Yes, it is really LONG. Thanks for reading it anyway. :)
May 4, 2010 10:41 pm
Jess - THANK YOU. I'm thrilled to know you think so!!
May 4, 2010 10:43 pm
I'm having trouble with my comments disappearing - sorry! AMBI - I think you just did, haha! Thanks for hanging in there, sweetums! ♥
May 5, 2010 12:51 am
What a great story! Both content and style...what a great person you are!!!
May 5, 2010 5:19 am
Well, what can I say that hasn't been said? You give such a true picture of what it's like to be in the middle of the hoopla. I appreciate your kindness and your grasp of the humor. Before my mom got so "far away" there were many small funny moments that I keep remembering and they make me smile yet. ( I know you can relate) Like the time she had the nurses aflutter because she insisted the hearing aid batteries she swallowed were her birth control pills! My mom was from the generation BEFORE birth control-she was never on them. Or the time I found her standing in the hall caressing the railing. I asked her what was goin' on and she turned to me and said,"This is all that's left of my poor car!" Mom never drove in her life. You just have to roll with it or it's all too sad.I love your writing, Sunny. Please keep on.
May 5, 2010 6:53 am
Sunny you are so awesome! i swear your blogs get me through the day. you crack me up. and that lady that you were comparing cupcake to used to scare the bejeezus outta me as a kid i.e. the goonies. dont apologize for your blogs being too long, im always sad when theyre over!
May 5, 2010 1:31 pm
Oh wow, I would have a tough time choosing a favorite Byrdcalls blog, but this was amazing! You are very gifted, Sunny! The people you care for are blessed to have someone like you - you not only take care, you care!
May 5, 2010 3:45 pm
drgaddy - Thanks so much for the compliments - and for reading me! :)
May 5, 2010 3:52 pm
My comments keep disappearing. Will try again later. Thanks!
May 5, 2010 5:28 pm
Sunny, you definitely make this world a brighter place. You and my daughter are so much alike. She works with emotionly disturbed children and is always upbeat. She also laughed through her own wedding; and when I read that, it really made me chuckle. Keep the writings coming. They are super!
May 5, 2010 5:51 pm
I'm really glad that I took the time to read your blog. You touch my heart with these blogs. I'm glad that there are people like you to do these jobs, it is not something that I could handle.
May 5, 2010 6:48 pm
I have to admit, I had to read this in two parts (finding that much time is hard around here, lol). But the time was so worth it. You are a gifted writer, and a wonderful caregiver. It's such a shame that so many elderly do not have such wonderful care. I feel like I know these people - I have a wonderful mental "picture" of them anyway. And the "retirement" party sounds wonderful. I'm sure Cupcake enjoyed it, in spite of herself! Thanks for sharing!
May 5, 2010 8:23 pm
The only word I can think of to descripe this is BRILLIANT! Was I started reading, I could not stop. Wonderfully written, and the characters are so great. I have worked in nursing homes, and have come to know alot of characters in my time. It always amazes me to sit and listen to them talk about there life growing up. My favorite resident was This Lady from Germany. She was jewish and came over after the war. Lost her whole family. I got so attached to her, every night she would come and help me do laundry cause it was hard for her to sleep. When she passed away it broke my heart. She was always so amazed at my love for her, cause she had rarely know stranges to love so quickly. Your story remind me of her. Thanks.
May 5, 2010 9:11 pm
Linnie - I'm so glad you got to enjoy the funny things; God knows there are enough sad ones. Your stories reminded me of the time Cupcake was in a snit because she was 'on her period' and had cramps. She's almost 90!!! I gave her a Tylenol and a hot water bottle and laughed all the way home. Thanks so much for reading! :)
May 5, 2010 9:13 pm
starryeyed - Thanks! Cupcake would scare the bejeezus out of me NOW if I didn't know she was a big phony. Thanks for hanging in there with me! :D
May 5, 2010 9:14 pm
Christine-Punkin - Thank you for reading and all of your sweet words. I love that you keep coming back. ♥
May 5, 2010 9:17 pm
SHORECOOK - Hey! Maybe you had twins that were seperated at birth but nobody told you because there was a high demand for babies with sunshine heads, so they sold me off to lunatics and here I sit. Wouldn't that be awesome?! YOU are super, madame. Thank you. ♥
May 5, 2010 9:20 pm
Tasha - Thank you. I truly believe we each have our own talents and are all meant to do things others aren't able to handle. That's how we keep this joint running. Thanks for doing YOUR thing. :)
May 5, 2010 9:22 pm
Sunny thank you for a wonderful, insightful, and inspiring blog! Reading your words, I think I'd love Cupcake too. As someone that has had loved ones in need of care, thank you for all you do for your folks. ♥
May 5, 2010 9:24 pm
Pam-3boys - Thanks for coming back for the second half, haha! Ideally, some day, there would be a requirment that you have to love your job to keep it. Wouldn't that be far out? Benefits for everyone! Thanks for the kudos! ♥
May 5, 2010 9:27 pm
mdanwtrader - Aren't people fascinating? I've never met a single person that didn't have interesting stories to tell (although sometimes you have to dig through some boring stuff to find them). The old ones are the best! They've got all this STUFF to share. Glad my story brought back some good memories for you. Thanks for reading me! :)
May 5, 2010 9:29 pm
mimosa - You sneaked in while I was here! Knowing what I know of you, I'm SURE you would love Cupcake. She's salty as hell. Thanks for coming in to read and leaving your mark for me. ♥
May 5, 2010 10:05 pm
Wow what memories! I was a nurse who retired early due to health reasons. I only thought I was done being a nurse. My Mom and Daddy neither one lived to be even close to 70. I cared for my Daddy the few days before his death bringing him home to pass at home (he died three days after being diagnosed with cancer). My mom was diagnosed last Sept., had surgery in Sept., acquired a hospital acquired infection and when we knew there was nothing else to be done, I brought her home to care for her and let her pass at home. That was Dec. 4th, she passed two days before Christmas. It was the hardest, most EXHAUSTING, most rewarding thing I have ever done - it was the last thing I could do for them. I made it a point that no matter how bad she felt or how grumpy and sarcastic she was, I would make her smile a REAL smile each day, very hard to do, but I found it was possible and is the only thing that gets me through the days now. I don't know why I am rambling, I guess the first Mother's Day without her is coming up and I am realizing I am not the Super Woman I thought I was... Anyway, God bless you Sunny, you are an angel.
May 5, 2010 10:25 pm
Amy - "It was the hardest, most EXHAUSTING, most rewarding thing I have ever done - it was the last thing I could do for them." ~~ It sounds like you did it beautifully. Mother's Day is SUPPOSED to pull at your heartstrings, especially if you don't have your mother. Even Superwoman would agree. I hope you spend the day remembering your mom's real smiles - the ones you gave her. Thanks for sharing your story with me. ♥
Pat in Texas 
May 6, 2010 7:15 am
SunnyByrd, I am in awe of your patience and compassion as a caregiver. Have you considered writing a book someday? I am in a similar situation with my husband, who is 18 years older than me. He doesn't have much memory loss, but he does have moderate dementia and is becoming very childish and self-oriented. Among other things, he overuses pain meds, tells outlandish stories and has a lot of misdirected anger. He does have some good days still, and he can pull himself together for company, doctor visits, etc. It is tough knowing things will never be any better, and I am having to reach deep down for strength to get through this. Reading your blogs had definitely helped me. Thanks!
May 6, 2010 7:51 am
This is the first time I've read your blog and I truly love your writing. You are a superb writer and I truly can't wait to read another. You make your job and the people in it vibrant enough, that I feel as if I've met them. Thank you!!!!
May 6, 2010 8:51 am
Hi Sunny, See I had to come back and read some more and find that I am laughing and crying at the comments that were made AFTER the story. You are truly gifted and I will be back in a couple of days for some more giggles. Thanks. Here is a big (((hug))) for Cupcake.
May 6, 2010 9:07 am
Pat in Texas - Get help. You are going to have to reach deep enough to deal with the love, sadness, anger, grief, and unfairness of what is happening to both of you. A caregiver only has to reach for the skills to help you through it. You are a stronger and better person for using those skills rather than trying to muster yet more of your own. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Get help for him and for yourself - I couldn't be more serious. Dementia is one mean mofo. Take care. ♥
May 6, 2010 9:09 am
Janesa - Thanks for reading - I'm glad you found us! My job and people ARE vibrant as hell, so I'm glad that came through for you! Thanks so much! :)
May 6, 2010 9:12 am
pelicangal - YAY! I love it when you come back and I'm glad you're laughing! That's what we're here for, silly. I'll pass your hug on to Cupcake. She's going down fast now, but was pleased to know she is something of a celebrity. Thanks! ♥
May 6, 2010 10:49 am
What a great blog, Sb You must have the patience of a Saint. We really do need more people like you in this world. Me I would run a mile from that situation money or no money. I also think cupcake is a wonderful name, brings a little joy to the day...
May 6, 2010 10:49 am
A cupcake a day, keeps the Doctor away!
May 6, 2010 11:37 am
Sunny you inspire me! How wonderful of you to give us all a glimpse into your world. Cupcake sounds absolutely amazing. Hopefully her last days are peaceful. Your residents sure are an eclectic bunch, what an awesome job you have!
May 6, 2010 12:18 pm
Sunny, thank you for such a wonderful read! It took me 2 days to read, only because I read it on my lunch hour at work, and I've thought of nothing else since. I, too, have negative family members that I have removed myself from, and it's sad to say but I think I'm better off. Your writing is enthralling, and I was literally spellbound by your story. Keep up the good work; writing as well as your "day job".
May 6, 2010 12:20 pm
apple.strudel - Thank you! I'm really not patient, as a rule. I somehow manage to channel extreme patience when I'm working. Like I've said before, I think certain people are meant to do certain things - this is mine. A Cupcake a day definitely lets you know who you don't want to be when you're old. A little joy to the day is all I ever ask for. Thanks for stopping by! :)
May 6, 2010 12:22 pm
jennkl - Thanks for reading it! Yes, she IS amazing, they ARE ecclectic, and it IS totally effing awesome! Even on the worst days, I am in awe of the importance of it. Thanks so much! ♥
May 6, 2010 12:26 pm
HiRollerette! Thanks for sticking with it! It CAN be sad to cut yourself off from negative family members. We are conditioned to think we should put up with their nonsense. No more for me. I refuse to let it rub off. I have a primo opportunity to be the happiest effer in town and they would be the first to want to take that from me. It's mine, dammit! And yours, too! Keep it. Thanks for the compliments - I'll keep trying! :D
May 6, 2010 3:45 pm
Hiya Sunny -- Is it wrong to ask that you update us on Cupcake?? I would like to say an extra prayer for her when..... So I had one of those work days when I just couldnt pull it together & get real work I was on allrecipes. I went back and read all of your blogs (I am one of your four fans) -I love your writing. My FAV is MADE WITH LOVE (2nd fav - A love affair (with food)...made me teary at my desk!! I called and read it to my husband (we had a good healthy argument last night ...and we went to bed angry) It is so simple and true! Keep Bloging! I follow and always look every time I get onto this site to see if you wrote something new!!! (P.S. - Might be time for a Haiku!!! Mine is for Cupcake - your/her story moved me so... Cupcake is a lemon/with her we all learn a lesson/life's just dance Thank you cupcake - your story made me look inside!!!
May 6, 2010 3:57 pm
Wow - absolutely a great read. Please keep 'em coming, Sunny. You are inspiring everyone and we certainly appreciate it. Thank you so much! Maggi
May 6, 2010 4:46 pm
SunnyByrd: Fabulous, as always. I made the mistake of trying to read this during work. It's a good thing I work 12-hour shifts, because, with all the interruptions, it took about 11 hours. Ha! In the paragraph where you debate about whether C's party should have a petting zoo or a stripper, you said no one knows how smart you are. Well, I disagree. All your friends at AR already know how smart you are. I am anxiously awaiting the next exciting chapter.
May 6, 2010 5:42 pm
Very cool. I want to work with you!!! I spent several years being a Hospice nurse, and laughter truly is the best medicine! I, like you, also love the old-crochety (sp?) ones. I'm always challenged by them, and love to make them smile, if only for a millisecond! You sound like an awesome caregiver, there needs to be more of you in the world!
May 6, 2010 6:44 pm
Heather - Hi! Of course it isn't wrong to ask for an update on Cupcake - it's only fair that I give you the end of her story when it comes. Keri asked me about her on the exchange yesterday and I'll give you the news I gave her, which is the most recent news I have. ---> "Thanks for asking! She's still hanging on - several days past prediction (which is just like her). It can't be long now. Her saturation has dropped to the low 80's. Today is my Friday and, as I was leaving she got teary and asked, "What if I have to go home before you get back?" I told her they would call me so I could come in and help her pack. This is true. I'm on call for vigil, so I'll be going in for her last hours. Thanks so much for thinking about her. We're keeping her comfortable - morphine is a godsend for her and she's been able to really enjoy these last days (as much as she enjoys anything). I told her I wrote a story about her and that she's got fans from all over the world. Thanks for that, too. :)" <--- As far as the writing/blogs go, I am working on another one. I have essays in my head that have a hard time coming out sometimes, so I'm working on the flow from brain to hand, but I will definitely post it when it comes together. Sounds like you need one for romance and I'm afraid this one isn't (necessarily) it, but I hope you'll like it anyway. Thanks for being one of the Fab Four. I need you guys. &hearts;
May 6, 2010 6:49 pm
bikerfamily - Thank you! What a trooper you are to put in the 11-hour read! Ha! I hope to post a short tribute blog for Cupcake when the time comes if I am able to do it (sometimes things are too hard to write down - even the good things). Thanks also for knowing how smart I am - not everyone does, you know. I love knowing I'll eventually see you on my blog. Thanks for keeping on coming. &hearts;
May 6, 2010 6:52 pm
Marcil - Thanks for reading! That's why the lemons are the best. If you can make them smile for a millisecond, you are KING OF THE WORLD - and we all want to be King for a millisecond, don't we? I do love my job. It's amazing. Thanks for sharing it with me. :)
May 6, 2010 10:57 pm
MAGGI! - I can't believe I missed you. Thank you for always coming back and being inspired (even if I am a lameassed responder). I'll try to keep them coming if you try to keep on coming. Thanks! &hearts;
May 7, 2010 10:26 am
Wow! I wish I'd read your blog first before responding to you on mine. If ever the phase, "It's because I can" fits anyone it's you!! I've read some of your other blogs too. I just don't always comment, had to this time. I know I couldn't do your job, it was hard enough for my sister & I to care for Mom right up to her last breath. What you said about the religious armour got me. I never thought of it that way but that's what the greedy half of my family wears. If ever there was anyone to understand why I was in that garden just in time to hear Mom's last "WDYWTDTF?" I believe it's you. Lovely writing! Cat
May 7, 2010 10:29 am
Oh Sunny...You are right, it was long...but I was glued to EVERY word! You have an amazing gift for telling stories. I love them. This part of your life that you are letting us take a peek into, shows you in the most glorifying light. I have seen too many people who do your job, do it with complete disregard for their patients. You are truly a shining spirit. It blows me away. I have to thank you FOR the people you take care of. Even if some of them are rotten and only realize how great you are half the time. You are incredible. I am not a crier, but this one had me choking up and laughing out loud just the same. Good for you Sunny. You are a blessing! Keep em coming lady! :-)
May 7, 2010 11:25 am
Sunny, what can I say, simply awesome writing. You really should put this in a book of some sort. But thank you for sharing it with us. Your description is so wonderful, I feel like I am right there with you, through it all. Again thank you for sharing this part of your life with us and for all the wonderful ways you touch the lives of those you care for. I am anxiously awaiting your next installment. God Bless You!
May 7, 2010 12:33 pm
Cat Hill - Hi! You know, we all do what we "can," and I know I can't take care of my mom when her time comes. You and your sister were blessed to be able to do that, and I'm blessed that I have the connections to get my mom the best caregiver on earth when she's ready for it. I'm blessed that I can take care of other people's mothers when they need it. We're all doing our parts here, and one part is greater than another - when we're doing what we can. Thanks so much for reading my blog and sharing yours with me. &hearts;
May 7, 2010 12:44 pm
Meagan - Thank you! I don't want to shine too "glorifying" of a light on myself. What I hope to glorify is this life and a reverence for the work. The people who can "disregard" are the truly unfortunate ones. You and I are lucky mofos, because we can see the gift we are being offered here. A chance to meet our best selves? What doofus would turn that down? Thanks for being so awesome. &hearts;
May 7, 2010 12:51 pm
Sunny, that was the hardest thing I ever had to do and that you care for others every day who are dying makes me respect you so much. So Much!!! Have a Happy Mother's day yourself, you deserve it!!!!!!!!!
May 7, 2010 1:23 pm
Noemi - Thank you for reading me again! Your comments are always great - and make me want to keep writing. I hope I can. Thanks for coming back to see. :)
May 7, 2010 1:26 pm
Cat Hill - I meant to say "*no* one part is greater than another" - so much for proofreading, sorry. I'm sure it WAS the hardest thing you ever had to do. The respect goes both ways. Happy Mother's Day to you, too. We ALL deserve it! Thanks. :)
May 7, 2010 2:21 pm
Sunny - I always look forward to your posts! Thanks so much for sharing with us, you have such a huge heart! Your patients are so blessed to have you in their lives!
May 7, 2010 3:43 pm
Thank you, Sunny, for sharing again! I just love those stories because it reminds me (repeating myself here) of my mother's final years in a nursing home. It's amazing how one watching these people can find the humor while others are totally horror-stricken. Thank heavens for people like you!
May 7, 2010 5:55 pm
No worries on the proof reading. I think we are on the same page :) Betcha can't guess where I'm spending my day off LOL already told the my guys don't ask "what's for dinner". I have some weeding to do. Especially in the roses and other plants I managed to liberate from the armour plated relatives who got the house. Again Happy Mother's day!!!
May 7, 2010 9:57 pm
Sunny-You truly are an angel & a great writer to boot.I took care of my Mom for the last few years of her life (she had dementia) & the last one I had to quit my job & be home all the time. It was hard, but also so very rewarding. The cancer I got from my Dad's side of the family will hopefully be taken care of w/the surgery I'm having next week,but that dementia is a scary thing & since I didn't have kids-I guess I'll be at the mercy of the state if I get it, not that I think kids should always be responsible for their parents, but it's nice to know someone might care. You do great things every day!
May 7, 2010 10:50 pm
LissaMe - Thanks for coming in and muscling through! I'm blessed to have my residents. I hope that comes through. And I hope I see you again - next time I get wordy (tho hopefully not SO wordy). Thank you! :)
May 7, 2010 10:57 pm
Marianne - I'm so glad you read this. Sometimes I AM horror-stricken - this disease is so ... *unjust*. Mostly though, I'm in awe of the opportunity I've been given AND my ability to laugh. I love laughing; it's funny, after all! Thanks for being here again. &hearts;
May 7, 2010 11:01 pm
Cat Hill - Enjoy your roses and forgive the armored relatives; "they know not what they do". &hearts;
May 7, 2010 11:06 pm
goodeats - Best of luck with your surgery. As for dementia, it IS scary. I hope my stories let you know that there's an excellent chance someone will care. Besides, with a little more luck you'll be a corker - the happiest crazy lady in the house. Corkers know how to party! Start practicing now. Ha! &hearts;
May 10, 2010 9:51 am
SunnyByrd...If you write...I will read!! I promise, I look so forward to your adventures. ;)
May 13, 2010 8:09 am
Sunny, I loved this! I could visualize and hear everything you were describing! You should really submit this essay for publication in a magazine. You have such a gift for writing. I was a nursing home social worker for years, and then a hospital sw for more years. I have lots of memories that make me laugh (or sometimes cry.) Like you, I loved the Cupcakes! Your patients are lucky to have you! Barb in Michigan
May 27, 2010 11:07 am
Sunny...just catchin up on your blog, what a great story. Your a great person and so many are lucky to have you in their lives. Your an inspiration to me!!
Jun. 22, 2010 11:51 am
What a gifted writer you are Sunny! I laughed, I cried, then tried out my own rap just to see if I could. What an inspiration you are. Those people are blessed to have you as their care giver and I strongly believe Cupcake feels the same way. Can't wait to read your next blog. :)
Jun. 29, 2010 11:17 am
Wow. I am so bummed that I missed this back in May - but glad I found you again! Now I know why I must keep in touch with AR... Since you haven't updated on Cupcake - I'm hoping she decided to hang on longer, taking the chance to 'get it' before it's too late! If she's able, You are able to make her get it! How wonderful that you give her your best self. I think we all have an easier time giving that in our jobs (when we love our jobs). I know I do. I wouldn't trade mine for anything, and I try to give it my best as well. Oh, to find the day when I am able to give all that I do my best self! I will think of you every time I am trying. Thank you for making me laugh, and cry. You are an inspriation, you smart lady you! Will be remembering your sweet friends in prayer, please give each of them a warm hug from me. SunnyGirl, we simply must get together one of these days, even if not for coffee!! Will we have to rapp and haiku?? I'm not as good at it as you. e-mail me! &hearts;
Jul. 11, 2010 6:06 pm
"OMG"...There will be a movie soooooon! I had a good laugh! Looking forward to more! Deb in Vancouver, BC, Canada
Jul. 13, 2010 5:54 pm
Missing you....AGAIN
Jul. 14, 2010 12:42 am
Came to the retirement party with my dancing shoes on. Thank you so much for inviting me! Loved it and Sunny you crack me up to.....and sometimes make me cry but it's all good :D
Sep. 10, 2010 1:13 pm
Hi Sunny- I just happened to stumble upon your blog yesterday, while doing my daily recipe browse. The word "cupcake" lured me in and then your vivid, quirky description of cupcake hooked me. I read the entire thing (and it was long - wow) and relished every word. You are so very talented. I have now found my new guilty pleasure at work and have already been back to start reading the rest of your blogs. I am truly inspired. Your positive attitude, quick wit, and strange sense of humore (I mean that in a good way) are really good for my soul. Keep writing and sharing it with us on All Recipes. What a blessing it was for me to find your rays of sunshine....was totally not expecting it. Please keep them coming. :)
Sep. 11, 2010 3:37 am
Miss you, too! Hope you are good!
Sep. 11, 2010 8:30 pm
Sunny, I'm just gonna say what everyone else is saying- PLEASE get your stories published! I'm just being selfish because i'm not very comfortable at my computer desk while I read your blogs. Please keep em comin!
Sep. 27, 2010 7:47 am
I just started working in a group home for mentally people as a caregiver. It takes a certain kind of person to do this job, I know, I got the right stuff too : ). Thanks for the story and the "training". I truly appreciate it.
Sep. 27, 2010 7:49 am
Mentally people, I meant to say.
Sep. 27, 2010 7:49 am
I guess you can't use that word. Oh well. lol.
Sep. 27, 2010 4:33 pm
Hope to hear from you! Miss you! :)
Sep. 28, 2010 8:28 pm
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone... :( We miss you!! Hope you're doing well!
Oct. 22, 2010 7:42 pm
Sunny- you haven't been around for ages! I have been looking at Easy Share cameras. I wish I knew which one you use. Hope you are ok. Loved the blog- you are amazing!
Nov. 4, 2010 11:04 pm
Loved reading your blog Sunny!.. I know you make a huge difference every day and those in your care are so lucky to have you! I also know first hand how hard it can be to be kind to the un-kind... Taking care of the mentally ill is not for wussies! I wish I had your humor and spunk but I don't so I usually go visit Dad and Step-Mom at the nursing home with Frosties (ice cream) and it puts them in good moods! ;)
Dec. 28, 2010 2:07 pm
Sunny, this is the first time in months I could sit, surf, and check out my favorite bloggers. Was so surprised to see how long it had been since your last... Surprised, yes. Touched unbelievably, angered at my own less, waaay less, than my very best self. Determined to look for that, I promise. Not only read the entire blog, nonstop, every comment too... If you ever check for updates, I hope you see what an unbelievable talent and inspiration you are to so many. I figure Cupcakes has gone home by now, still offered a prayer for her, My Lady, Mr C and others I've come to know through your amazing story telling abilities and your unadulterated love for life, people, and everything in between. If you ever see this and could write another my email is my screen name @yahoo. I wouldn't want to wait another seven mos. to get a dose of your wisdom and wit. Love and much respect.
Jan. 21, 2011 12:12 pm
Thank you for sharing SunnyB! Both my grandparents had dementia, it runs in our family. The light, love and laughter you brought to the table with your blog was wonderful, and for you to share with others... even more wonderful! I have always wanted to be a caregiver. I guess I am as I'm a mom of 3 little girls. I am going to mark you as one of my favorites...this will be a first. I will be back for more delicious recipes and laughter... the greatest of these is laughter. The people you care for are very lucky. Thanks for sharing!! Love & Blessings! Emily
Mar. 14, 2011 3:38 pm
Dear SunnyByrd, Why don't you write anymore? I hope you are going to tell me that you are too busy because you are in the process of writing a book!!! I love your writing and will be one of the first to buy one if you ever do decide to write a book.... I have worked in several nursing homes and you have described my work experiences in such a beautiful way! Please write for us again! I even printed out your stories to share with others because I knew that they would relate to your honest, raw view of what this kind of work is like.... thank you! ;)
Mar. 17, 2011 7:23 am
Sunnybyrd, this was absolutely riveting. Phenomenal. I would assume that by now Cupcake is gone, which has left you disconsolate. Perhaps this accounts for the lengthy hiatus during which all your blog fans have no doubt been literally panting for your next life installment. We read your stuff and pine for more. You keep us running on the proverbial hamster wheel of blogs. These snippets are crystal clear windows through which we view pieces of your soul. Yours is the only blog I read with any semblance of regularity. I hope that you've been well, and your infectious enthusiasm for life continues, unabated. Hoping to see another installment soon, sending you much love and praying for you. --Cat
Mar. 19, 2011 5:39 pm
Hey Sunny! Sure miss you on the Buzz. Hope you are doing great!
Mar. 29, 2011 10:38 am
Amen, Baricat. We miss you, Sunny!
Apr. 1, 2011 8:11 am
Your written words are all so true! I can totally relate to your life as I am a Visiting Nurse and have been where you are now. Will you take care of mee when I need it? I love your touch! Keep the love flowing! Thankyou for the story.
Apr. 26, 2011 4:07 am
I was having one of those days- one of those weeks- where I keep saying "I am thankful" but I just couldn't feel it. Life is hard right now for some reason beyond me. I was lying in bed and thought of your blog- even though I haven't been on here in goodness knows how long. And thank goodness for that I think it saved my day. You are a wonder woman with a heart of gold and funny to boot. And today you made me smile and made me FEEL thankful too. Thanks.
May 23, 2011 9:44 am
we need more sunnybyrd..
Jan. 15, 2012 6:03 pm
This is the first time I've read your blog. Long was good. Thank you.
Jan. 15, 2012 6:12 pm
This is the first time I've read your blog. Long was good. Thank you.
Jan. 22, 2012 12:15 pm
Wow - I've been following your recipes a long time but this is amazing, Sunnybyrd...your writing skills are phenomenal ....there were many characteristics of Cupcakes that reminded me of my grandmother, God rest her one in the family or neighborhood was safe from being accused of stealing her things...& funny thing-she'd steal anything from silverware on an airline to strawberries rolled up in her shirt from a field in FL where we were picking...oh Lord, you've got quite a job, don't you? Well, really enjoyed your story - thanks for taking the time to entertain me on this winter day! :)
Feb. 11, 2012 11:36 am
wow. just... wow. you have no idea how much i needed to hear that. i am a social worker working with the mentally ill (and often chemically dependent too) in a supported housing setting. My office is in their apartment building. my peeps are not elderly (well, most of them aren't) nor are they at end-of-life, but everything else is VERY familiar. this work is truly a calling, and i feel, much as you do, that this is what i was meant to do. that doesn't always make it easy though; in fact, sometimes it makes it harder (you seem to be better at hiding your buttons than i am :-) ). my clients annoy, anger, entertain, delight and frustrate me, but always they teach me (if i'm willing to learn). your writing is excellent; heartfelt, evocative, irreverent, insightful and inspiring. your post has given me a second wind after a few weeks of struggling. we need to stand together and support one another in this work, and remind each other and ourselves not to forget good self-care. keep writing; be good to yourself and i will try to do the same.
Mar. 7, 2012 6:13 am
I just read this. I love you Sunnybyrd! I know this sounds silly but that is my parrots name..haha. Your writings are excellent..please write a book! You're amazing :)
Oct. 19, 2014 10:10 pm
Sunny, I came across your recipe on & noticed that your last name is Byrd & that you used peaches in your recipe. Are you of the Byrd family in Blackshear, GA or thereabouts.? My paternal Grandmother was Ida Byrd who married my paternal Grandfather, James E. Dukes. The Joe Byrd Cemetary in Blackshear, GA on Honeysuckle Lane is where both of my Grandparents are buried. I enjoyed your long blog entry. Thank you, Jim J. Dukes, San Antonio, TX
Oct. 19, 2014 11:00 pm
Sunny, as an addendum to my note above, my email address is & I am also on FB. As a caretaker for the mentally ill, you sound wonderful. You made me want to interact with Cupcake. Thank you, Jim J. Dukes
Oct. 20, 2014 6:22 am
What is Byrdhouse? I'm not familiar with it's origin but I have seen it in multiple places lately -- thank you!
Dec. 4, 2014 5:49 pm
I enjoyed reading your post about people you take care of! I have always wanted to write a book of memoirs of the ones I have given care to. You have a real talent for it! Write a book!
Feb. 27, 2015 4:35 am
Why would you be happy a fish died? Mean or not? You could have brought it to a pet store that sold fish. Never be happy a creature dies!
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Living In
Seattle, Washington, USA

Member Since
Jan. 2008

Cooking Level
Not Rated

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Nouvelle, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Vegetarian, Dessert, Kids, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

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About Me
I have an excellent husband, two mad-hot genius boys (16 & 21!), and 4 weird fish (the mean one died). I'm happy.
My favorite things to cook
Soup is probably my favorite, and baking my least favorite, but I'm not picky. What do you want?
My favorite family cooking traditions
New ones!
My cooking triumphs
My cooking tragedies
I torture myself making things I hate to make, but want to have, a lot. My tragedies usually turn into comedies, so they are worth having, too. Read Sunny, Celeste, and the Chocolate Stars on my blog if you want a little peek at an example.
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