Friday, February 20, 2015

"Like You Used To"

Just over 1 year later and the posts about Carol Burnett on this blog are still being discovered - to the tune of about 150 people per week.

To date, more than 220,000 people have read the posts (including Ms. Burnett, herself!).  It went viral on Facebook.  Rosie O'Donnell tweeted the story out to her almost 800,000 @Rosie followers, calling me a "beautiful person" in the process.  Over 100 people have left comments on the blog postings.  And I've lost track of the number of emails I still receive from people all over the world, thanking me for sharing this story and talking about how Alzheimer's affects their lives and the lives of the ones they love.  In many instances, I find myself acting as a counselor and cheerleader to people who feel - quite simply - helpless.

This is both the farthest and furthest reaching achievement of my life.  Nothing else I've ever done has touched as many people as sharing this story.  I gave up on this blog a few years ago after a very successful run, then resurrected it during my time in Miami, just so I would have a creative outlet.  Surprisingly, the top 10 stories read on my blog all date back no further than August 2013; NOT surprising, the two posts about Ms. Burnett rank as #1 and #2.  I guess there is a message in here somewhere about success and second chances and all that.

My dad is doing well and seems to be living a comfortable life.  He doesn't walk anymore, pretty much confined to a wheelchair.  He has good days and great days and bad days.  And so does Mom.  Although for her, Dad's good days can sometimes translate into her bad days.  For on the days when he's doing well and is communicating openly, Mom feels guilt that he now lives in a nursing home, second-guessing if he should be back home instead.  And then on days when Dad is not doing well, I'm sure Mom feels some relief that he is where he needs to be, of course juxtaposing those emotions with concern for his well-being.  Perhaps Dad's good days are best for everyone.  Good is good enough.

I haven't been home since Christmas, but am eager to visit in two weeks.  I obviously see changes in him with each visit.  At the end of our Christmas trip, Kevin and I stopped by the nursing home to say good-bye to Dad.  When I told Dad we were leaving and I would see him soon, he just looked at me and looked away.  But when Kevin followed with a "see you later, John", Dad looked up at him and tears welled in his eyes.  Of course I joked with a "oh sure, YOU get tears!", but we can't help but wonder what it all means to him. And the ugly fact is that we will never know.

I've been asked to share something that inspires me at work's staff meeting next month.  I'll be sharing the story about Dad and Ms. Burnett because it's truly inspirational.  There is always hope.  And you never know from where inspiration will come.  And that a seemingly small act from one person can ripple around the world, touching thousands.

And all because my Dad, a man who seems to have completely lost all his memories, said 4 little words to me that might have been lost on anyone else:  "like you used to".


  1. This is a wonderful blog.Thank you for creating awareness and hope. I wish you and your family the best holidays this winter season. I am an avid Carol Burnett fan as well.

  2. Howdy Dop, my name is Audrey. My mother and I used to watch the show together and now that it's on Hulu I've introduced it to my daughter. Needless to say she enamoured. We live in San Antonio and pass her old house on our way to school each day. My daughter and I want to write her a letter expressing the joy we get from watching her perform. I have looked EVERYWHERE to find her address but your blog is the closest I can find. Would you mind terribly sending me her mailing address? You can email me at if you like. Thank you so much and have a blessed day 😊

  3. I hope you're still blogging. I don't have a Facebook page, they annoy me, I'm getting to old for it, I love looking at families pictures but that's about it. My mother passed from Alzheimer's, it was an awful way to go but I have to say, I loved your message and call to and from Carol Burnett, she is amazing and I'm so glad the repeats are back on. One of my granddaughters lives with me and she can't figure out which of Carol's character's she likes best. It's odd, send her a card and ask for a photo back for each of us. I should have done it years ago but my granddaughter promoted it. After knowing you got to speak to her I wish I'd have sent my phone number ☹️, if she does get my card, I'll be happy enough...who knows, she may look up my land line, I love that woman and wish so much that she would have a special on. I know that she and Vickie Lawrence are the only two originals left and the others would be deeply missed but she alone would keep us in stitches! I wonderIwonder if she can still do the Tarzan yell, lol. I sent her card and letter to the right address it's at a Beverly Hills PO box. It's very important to my granddaughter and I to let her know how much she and her comedy is appreciated. Thank you... Jeanette

  4. Hello, I'm Jeanette and I hope all is well, things are better. I feel your pain about Alzheimer's, my mother passed from complications of it. I just wrote you a long email but it seems to have disappeared! I loved your story about Carol Burnett. Gosh I love that woman, she needs to do a special, I know all except her and Vickie Lawrence have passed but I have not doubt she can keep us in stitches. There's so much more I have to say but considering it's after 1AM it's time for me to go. If you still talk to Me Burnett please pass on that she's missed so much and the kids of today love her as much as their grandparents and grandparents. Also, please pass on that she has a beautiful card at the address on Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. Thank you for your time and blog.

  5. I am not surprised at Carol's response. She is an awesome person. I would love to contact be her because I have some information about her mother before Carol was born that I believe she would like to hear. This happened in the Roswell and Carlsbad, NM area in the early 1930's. I can be contacted privately at Thank you Carol if you see this.