New Year’s Eve finds me sitting alone in an old house dress with rolled up socks and the dog curled at my left hip.  As I reflect on the ‘old’ year passing in my final blog for 2011, firecrackers pop in the distance.  My teenagers are off with friends and my husband is long in bed.  So, before 2012 dawns, a few “Thank You’s” for these last 365 days:

 First, to my husband of 31 years who appreciates the ‘little’ things I do, like filling the espresso machine with fresh coffee every morning and holding up my half of the heart whenever we say, “Good-Bye.”  Every now and then I let him edit these—but not tonight.

 To my oldest daughter who begged and begged for that puppy that I never wanted last Christmas.  Your little Skylar, who has now become my sole responsibility since you left for college, has brought me unimaginable joy, laughter & companionship.  A year ago I would not have believed it possible.

 To my youngest daughter who reminds me often that I am old, thank you for sharing what young is really like in all its’ ups and downs.  You make me glad that I am exactly the age that I am.  Thank you also for showing me a harder way to do my piano scales.  It should keep my fingers nimble for at least a few more years.

 To Lorenzo, our church janitor, who brought me flowers on Mother’s Day but was never able to give them to me because I was a ‘no show.’  My Sundays are never quite complete without his, big hug.

 To all of the strangers who motioned me across sidewalks, let me merge in front of you in difficult traffic, or waved and smiled at me from a distance; the ones I chatted with in lines from Starbucks to airline counters or dressing rooms in clothing stores:  Thank You for those brief, joyful seconds.  Without the warmth and camaraderie from strangers, my days would be as empty as a soundstage from an old movie set.  No lights.  No camera.  No action.

 Finally, to the 2,000 new readers of my blog from America & Canada to Australia & Brazil:  Thank You for taking a few minutes in your day to share a part of mine.  May EVERY day of your 2012 be a photograph you want to take and keep close to your heart.

Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a non-fiction memoir of her grandmother’s descent into Alzheimer’s.






I love the company of men.  Just came off the tennis court with three of them after winning the tiebreaker.  The two who lost weren’t thrilled but they were gracious losers and even complimented me on being, “one helluva retriever.”  Men play at sports and life, with an enthusiastic, ‘come what may’ attitude that I am still trying to master.  They don’t get wound up in the pettiness of everyday nothings, which drives us women nuts when we want to TALK about them!

For example, if I walk into the sauna and it’s filled with guys I am greeted by hearty “Hello’s,” football stories and political debates.  If there are only women. . .silence abounds.  Today, for example there were 6 guys and 3 women sitting elbow to elbow.  Since it was too crowded to move, I suggested that, “we all do toe exercises!”  The guys thought it was a fun idea and immediately began taking off their sandals.  The women left.

Now don’t get me wrong, men still drive me crazy.  I have been married to one for 30 years who STILL cannot find the ketchup in the refrigerator!!  Even my teenage daughters are non-plussed by his scarce recognition of how things work in his own home.  (He once called me in front of them to ask, ‘Honey?  Which one is the washer?’)  Oh, yes he did.

This Valentine’s Day, I gave the girls stuffed ladybugs with chocolates inside.  My husband gave us miniature, mechanical robots and took great delight watching them run across the floor and crash into things.  He’s the fun one.  Not me.  I just replace the batteries.

Growing up, I always longed to be a boy.  They just seemed to have more fun.  But my grandmother always said, “You’ll change your mind someday, Dear.  Men and women are different for a REASON.”  She was right.  I have finally figured out that reason.  We are here to show them where the ketchup is.  They are here to finish it up and turn it into a sprayer for the dog.

Oh, something else happened this Valentine’s Day:   Someone sent me a dozen roses!  It was NOT my husband.  We are both mystified as to the sender because there was no card.  But my guess?  It was a guy!!!  (Helen Hudson is the author of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” a memoir of her grandmother’s years with Alzheimer’s.



     Spoke last week at the American Counseling Association’s national convention in Pittsburgh.  My topic was, “There’s No Place Like Home:  Caring for the Alzheimer’s Patient At Home.”  Having cared for my grandmother for 13 years in our home, this is an issue both personal and philosophical. 

     In 20 years, the US is predicted to have 11 million people diagnosed w/ the disease.  Add that number to the families & caretakers that will be involved & you have some idea what lies ahead of us.  If we don’t figure out how to care for our elders in their final years with both dignity & compassion, as other cultures have done for centuries, America will be sadder for it.  So will we.  We are all going to die.  If we are fortunate, we will all live to old age. 

     Our LAST chapter should be just as important as our FIRST one.  Indeed, by then one hopes we will have added something real and of value to the world at large.  Our babies, while precious and sacrosanct, have yet to offer us anything.  That will come with time.  Our elders have given us EVERYTHING and yet we abandon them in their last chapter.  It is their loss.  If they have Alzheimer’s, they will likely not even know it.  But we know it and ultimately it is OUR loss.  (http://  Read the first chapter of, “Kissing Tomatoes,” my memoir of those 13 years with Granny).