Joy in the Midst of It All (TM)

Signs and Wonders (or Wanderings)

April 14, 2022 Aminah Amarachi Season 1 Episode 12
Signs and Wonders (or Wanderings)
Joy in the Midst of It All (TM)
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Joy in the Midst of It All (TM)
Signs and Wonders (or Wanderings)
Apr 14, 2022 Season 1 Episode 12
Aminah Amarachi

In this episode we learn the value in validation, and embracing both the signs of wonder and the signs of wanderings, along the journey. Injoy the show.


Be blessed.  Not stressed.  Why?

Because yours and their lives depend on it.

Aminah  Amarachi- Your host

Buy Me a Cup of Coffee (Tea) for a J.O.E. (Jolt of Encouragement and Support)

2021-2022 © JITMOIA Podcast  by All Paths Lead Home, LLC/SLE (TM)  – All Rights Reserved

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode we learn the value in validation, and embracing both the signs of wonder and the signs of wanderings, along the journey. Injoy the show.


Be blessed.  Not stressed.  Why?

Because yours and their lives depend on it.

Aminah  Amarachi- Your host

Buy Me a Cup of Coffee (Tea) for a J.O.E. (Jolt of Encouragement and Support)

2021-2022 © JITMOIA Podcast  by All Paths Lead Home, LLC/SLE (TM)  – All Rights Reserved

Support the Show.

Season: 1 Episode: 12 - "Signs and Wonders (of Wanderings)"

Intro Music: Royalty Free

Promo: BuzzSprout Services 

Grand risings and runnings, framily, and welcome back to our Joy in the Midst of It All podcast show. I am your host - Aminah Amarachi.

Well, family, since you last tuned in, our family has been blessed with the arrival of a new family member - my second nephew.  It was a blessing to be present for his arrival.  He and his brother look like twins, at birth, yet they are years apart in age.  All are well. Praise God. Congrats to our sister, brother-in-love and both families.

Now, let’s continue our journey…

The journey of caregiving is one full of twists, turns, surprises, and awe inspiring moments - i.e. moments that take your breath away, bless you with a good out loud belly laugh (Like, I’m gonna have to call you back hog maws kind of laughter), and leave you basking in the experiences I like to call Signs and Wonders – w.o.n.d.e.r.s. OR in the case of caring for a loved one journeying through Alzheimer’s Signs of Wanderings – w.a.n.d.e.r.i.n.g.s.

Today’s Episode:  "Signs and Wonders (Wanderings)"

The year: 2010

The date: I believe the month was May. And, I think it was on the last day of the first maternal family reunion that I attended since returning home to care for our Dede.

The scene:

Sunday afternoon.  After taking some final family photos with our 105 year old cousin, Cousin Barbara Smith-Waters.  I was blessed to have been by her side, just four years later, in July 2014, down at the home place, when she reached down and picked up a pebble from the ground.  I instinctively knew that she knew it would be her last time attending a family reunion at her grandparents' home-place.  That was truly a sign in deed.  She joined our other ancestors the following May of 2015.  Cousin Barbara was another WONDERFILLED RENAISSANCE WOMAN that I have been blessed to be in communion with. Cousin Barbara, now you and Cousin Willa Mae can keep on cutting up…Rest in Power-filled Peace, Cuz.

The Story:

While caregiving for an elder who was journeying through Alzheimer’s, many possible scenarios ran through my head - will he experience sundowning (i.e. think that it’s day time, when it’s actually night time, become agitated due to exhaustion because of his daily activities or the mental churning, confusion, and disorientation building up in his mind, would he start pacing late at night, or want to leave the house thinking it’s time for him to go to work, even though he’d been retired for years.

Each of these were a way of making some sense of his constantly pivoting mental and physical abilities and world. I wondered how would I know when he’s sundowning after a full and tiring day of my own. How would I best navigate his care while maintaining his dignity and many other considerations. 

Additionally, I wondered whether we would still be able to enjoy family outings and activities that we enjoyed with our parents growing up - putt putt, skeeball, air hockey, singing, dancing, and bowling, to name a few.

Luckily for us, our Dede didn’t experience any major sundowning, and we were able to enjoy many of our favorite pastimes, up until his walking gait shifted, and his mentally and physically coordination began to wane.  Up until that juncture in his journey, our Dede enjoyed a good ole “Electric Slide ©” line dance, peddling on a stationary bike, walking the indoor community center track, chatting it up with his friends at Aijalon, and singing to our favorite gospel jams (Thanks Marvin Sapp, Regina Belle, and so many others). 

On a Side Note:  There are between five to seven identified stages along the Alzheimer’s journey. And, you will witness many signs that lead you to wonder whether your loved one has transitioned, i.e. wandered into the next stage of their Alzheimer's journey….

Yet, stay tune for a story that was filled with signs and wonder (AKA AWE) that we were blessed to be able to experience, first hand, with our Dede later that Sunday afternoon. Can someone say, “ROADTRIP!!!” LOL…Another one of our family’s favorite pastimes.

Now, for our first spotlight moment...

Spotlight Moment #1:

Today’s FIRST spotlight moment sings the praises of Ms. Naomi Feil (F.E.I.L.). Ms. Feil blessed caregivers with the Validation Method ©. Her method was birthed out of her own personal life experience and practice as a young child spending a great deal of her childhood growing up with elders as friends and neighbors, in a nursing home.  Her gift of connection, empathy, and insight into the world of elders on the journey, has blessed the world with a way in which we, too, can better connect, empathize, and enjoy a blessed relationship with those in our care.  If you would like to see a video and learn more about Ms. Feil and the Validation Method © check out the show notes for all related links.  All rights are reserved by Ms. Naomi Feil and The Validation Institute.  Please share it with your loved ones who are caring for elders on the journey. Better yet, register for one of their training courses, and then implement the technique with the one you are caring for. Thanks for being a blessing Ms. Feil. 

Now, back to our show…

Welcome Back Family

Now, as a caregiver for an elder journeying through Alzheimer’s, I had the privilege to listen to many of our Dede's “back down memory lane” stories sometimes once, twice, three times or more in any given few moments.  Now, I know that oftentimes a tired, stressed out, and head barely above water caregiver, might feel some kind of annoyed way after hearing the same story over and over and over again.

Well, on this beautiful afternoon we all took a road trip down to our Dede’s former college.  I started to say his alma mater, yet since he was drafted going into his senior year, I chose to say his former college.

The reason for our road trip was that Our Dede repeatedly spoke of his time working for Mr. B. J. James.  B. J. James owned a store right outside the campus of our Dede’s college.  While attending college, Dede worked for Mr. James. Yet, has often wondered over the years what became of him, and the store. So, we decided to go find out for ourselves, for our Dede.

Upon arriving on the college campus, we witnessed our Dede light up with an excitement that was reminiscent of a child opening a gift to find their favorite wished for toy.   Now, for an elder, on a cane, with a gait, and on the journey, all of that went right out the window for our Dede. We had barely stopped the car, when upon seeing the college marque he jumped out of the car, left his cane behind, and shuffled up a hill to stand near the school marque. 

Now, in his excitement, let’s just say, a wardrobe change would be needed afterwards, yet he Dede didn't care.  He was back on a campus that held bittersweet memories for him. He had not been able to complete his studies due to being drafted and life happening, so with the exception of taking us to visit it as kids, he hadn't been there since he was 21 years young. He was now 73 years seasoned.

After taking his photo standing by the sign…we gave ourselves a tour of the campus. He was in awe. We could see the wonder in his eyes, and sense the joy, calm, and peace rising up in his heart, as we went from building to building...exploring the campus. And, not once did he tire out.

Afterwards, and before night fell, he asked about B. J. James, again. So, we drove around town, and came upon an elder, who was near Dad's age, that worked down at the harbor, who happened to know what happened to B. J. James and his store.

We watched as our Dede soak in every detail that his peer shared with him - about how Mr. and Mrs. James' store was not sustained and eventually closed, and that they both had passed on.  What happened next was the icing on a road-trip cake.  This gentleman informed us that when the college decided to extend its campus boundaries, which bled over into the area where the store had been, they chose to honor Mr. B. J. James’ by naming that street after him.

So, back to the campus we went. Dusk was upon us, with a four hour return road trip awaiting us, after a very long, yet exciting day.  We found the street, with the B. J. James' street sign.  We asked Dede to pose under the sign. We took his photo. Then we got back into our car, and headed home.

Now, I will let you in on a secret, a revelation, a sign of wonder, that happened, for me, on our family road trip. A sign that pivoted how our Dede spoke of that particular memory thereafter. 

Once our Dede received an ending to his story, he NEVER again brought up the initial repetitive questioning story ever again.  Upon returning home, he excitedly told folks the ending of the story for Mr. B. J. James, Yes...our Dede, who was journeying through Alzheimer’s remembered what his peer had shared with him and then shared it with others. 

Interestingly enough, Dede only shared it once at any given time, and after a month or so, he didn’t even share the ending to the story any more. You're wonder why? Because he’d received closure. His spirit, heart, and mind were resolved and at peace.  Now, how’s that for signs and wonders? 

My Reflections:

Signs along the journey serve many purposes.  They can alert you to a shift occurring with the one you are caring for, as well as yourself.  Signs can signal unexpected new moments of laughter filled, tear releasing, and healing joy.  Signs can alert you to challenges that a loved one or yourself may be experiencing that require additional outside support. Be willing to seek support, ASAP. Signs can also trigger an impromptu family road trip that not only make new lasting members, yet also, brings closure for your loved one.

My Insight:

Instead of seeing a loved ones repetition of a memory as a nuisance, consider it as an unhealed experience (if it was traumatic) or a incomplete story (which was our Dede’s case) that needs closure, in order to calm to your loved ones spirit, heart, and mind; and thus, makes smoother both theirs and your journey, going forward.  The repetitive story, whether from a child, or an elder, or anyone, in between, that you are caring for, is just one other way they are trusting you enough to ask for your help with trying to make sense of the inner workings, and glitches occurring in their own mind, and their own world, especially because whether they can adequately put their finger on the words to express how they are feeling, intuitively that sense that parts of them are slipping away from them.

Now, it’s time for our next Spotlight moment…

Spotlight Moment #2:

Our second spotlight moment is for Rev. Milton L. Mays. Our Dede’s pastor while he was on his Alzheimer’s journey.  Pastor Mays brought comfort, familiarity, and joy to our Dede just by visiting with him, when Dede was a resident at a health rehabilitation center.  Talk about signs and wonders.  Rev. Mays sat down with Dede as if they were at the home church, and sang old hymns. 

We are blessed to have a video of Rev. Mays and our Dede, who used to lead the devotional, at church, just like his Dede, Uncles, and Cousins had for most of his adult life, before starting his Alzheimer's journey, enjoying a hymn and devotion service together.  Bless your heart and rest in peace filled power, Pastor Milton L. Mays.  Your visit done his spirit good in ways you never knew.

Now, back to our show…

Here are my take-away, tip, tool, and toss.


Take a moment, when your are well rested and refreshed to listen to the stories of your loved ones - children, elders, and everyone else in between - with a spirit, heart, and ear for a) why might they be trusting you enough to share it with me, b) what resolution are they seeking by repeating the story, and c) how might you be able to support them in realizing resolution.


Embrace both the wonders and the wanderings of your loved one. Both have gifts of awe, inspiration, and information to bring to the journey.


A video recorder - handheld (for us ole schoolers) or a smartphone (with enough memory for y'all new schoolers).  Record your loved one sharing their story.  Then review the video. Pay attention to their demeanor for clues, AKA signs, as wonders or of wanderings (confusion, agitation, searching, disorientation, questioning, etc.)  Then use that information to inform yourself of your next most appropriate and supportive step in helping them bring closure, if at all possible.


Take a road-trip to a place that is of importance to them, if they are still able, whether local or long distance. If they are unable to travel, put on a play for them that mimics a road-trip. Be creative.

As for loved ones on the Alzheimer’s journey, they lose their short term memory long before they lose their long term memory. So, take a notebook, pen, tape recorder, battery, cassette tapes…or…a smartphone…and document what you are blessed to learn about them, that you might never have had the privilege to be privy to, before they began their journey.  This information may be beneficial for your loved ones closure, family history research and your own personal sanity as a caregiver.


In closing, I’d like to take this time to thank you all, both my seasoned and new followers, for spending your time with me on today’s Joy in the Midst of It All journey. Now, take a moment to tap the button on your favorite podcast streaming platform to tune in, follow, subscribe and rate the show. You may have to log into the platform, depending on the service you use in order to rate the show.

You will also receive updates when a new episode is released.  We release an episode every second and fourth Thursday of the month. OK. So, go ahead and tag a family caregiver, or a few, if you know them, and tell them one thing you have learned today, or from any previous episode, that will support you, and maybe them, in moving through the caregiving journey with more ease, no matter who or how God has chosen for you to offer your gift of caregiving to. 

Then, blaze a trail on over to my podcast website, for the show notes, transcript, and any links, and if your heart so leads you tip me what I like to call a “Cup of J.O.E. (A jolt of encouragement and support),” over at my Buy Me a Cup of Coffee website link. Understand, though, I do prefer tea. You will see the link in the show notes.

I am your host Aminah, and I want you to be blessed and less stressed...Why?, because yours and their lives depend on it. Have a great day.

Outro Music: Royalty Free

Buy Me a Cup of Coffee (Tea) for a J.O.E. (Jolt of Encouragement and Support)

2021-2022 © JITMOIA Podcast  by All Paths Lead Home, LLC/SLE (TM)  – All Rights Reserved