grace eyes

mollys eyegannon eyes

Dear Mom,

When you bought the full set of the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA, you taught me to be curious about details…all kinds of details about all kinds of things.  I’m pretty sure I was the only third grader who knew January is named after the god Janus. And according to mythology, Janus (Latin word for door) has two faces so he can look backward at the old year and forward into the new year.

I now use another technique for finding and learning information, Mom—the internet!  Oh, if it weren’t for the confusion of your dementia, what fun you could have! For instance, here are more details: January is National Braille Literacy Month, and maybe as a companion concern, it is also Eye Care Month.  January is National Blood Donor Month, and then maybe to give you strength to donate blood, it is also Hot Tea Month and National Oatmeal Month!

And this is your great-grandchildren’s favorite detail: January 23 is Measure Your Feet Day. They loved learning that  since their big toes are the same length or longer than the next toe, they supposedly have a natural advantage in skiing, sprinting, jogging, and other sports!

But this fact I learned from neither the encyclopedia nor the internet, but from you: January is National Thank You Month. When I was growing up, I knew that January was when I wrote notes to grandparents and other relatives and friends, thanking them for Christmas gifts.  I used fancy note paper and colored pens, and each note was more than just a quick Thank You. You had taught me about “writing conversations on paper” and expressing genuine appreciation.

That’s what this blog is, Mom, a  series of 85 posts (so far), Thank You notes I hope are like conversations written on paper. Your life has made such a difference in my life and so many other lives. I’m thankful for you every day of every month, and not just January!

feet frogkids feet

P.S.  Last week’s responses with favorite quotes were amazing—a warm Thank You to everyone who shared. I’m always grateful for the generous responses of blogging friends.

This week I also add a HUGE Thank You to Tom Stronach(@tomstronach), our wonderful UK friend who sent a link for the UK anti-Alzheimer’s/dementia brain drink. For more information:

The site also has great videos on signs of dementia and caring for those with memory loss.  Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing this.  As William Shakespeare said, “I can no other answer make, but thanks, and thanks.”



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for, writing


  1. Molly


    Whoever’s eye that is with the lovely eyebrow piercing is absolutely gorgeous! (hahahaha) As for the foot with the frog on it, well I see a second toe that IS longer or at least as long as the BIG toe….I suppose that person has an impressive advantage in sports or BLOG WRITING.

    The tribute that you give to Grandma every week is wonderful I just hope that everyone remembers what a wonderful woman she was when she isn’t here anymore. But, for now, I am glad that we can share her stories with her, and try to help her remeber what an impressive woman she is.

    I love reading your stories and memories of Grandma. Thank you!


  2. juliabarrett

    Is that a real frog? Sorry, but I must know. Love the photos. My mother is a stickler for hand-written thank you notes. Tom is the best, isn’t he.

  3. The frog was picked out by my grandson (the little guy in glasses)–in the toy aisle of Walgreen’s–he thought it was kind of blah, but I loved it so it became mine. I leave it strange places, on the front porch or peeking out from behind the back of the toilet, but nobody in the family notices.
    Tom really is a jewel. I think that way back when I started this blog, you were the one who told him about it, so thank you BOTH very much.

  4. poppytump

    … another lovely warming read Marylin with your family joining in aswell 🙂
    I’m celebrating Hot Tea Month with gusto …but then again it’s HTM all the time in my house !
    I looked at the link … interesting info on that site .
    Have a good week and keep hiding Le Frog I say .

  5. Beautiful! And, we are thankful for you and your mama too!
    Love the footsies! May the new year be filled with wonderful steps into awesome, excellent, and unknown places!

  6. Interesting. I wonder what it means if your second toe is longer than your big toe. Now you’ve gone and got me all curious. Whatever the case, I’ll use it as my excuse for not winning running races 🙂

  7. Marylin, oh yes, they have been many thank you notes. I truly love them and the way you present the stories is just awesome. It is like having a conversation with you tete a tete

  8. My mother, too, was a stickler for thank you notes. I hated it!! Had to write thank you notes for any gift I received from relatives. I think it’s probably why I don’t like receiving gifts from people now. It must be subconscious.

    • You might be right. I hate to think of all the subconscious reasons from my childhood for things I do and don’t do now. Handwriting Thank You notes wasn’t bad for me, except when I got really awful gifts that were so wrong that now we’d wonder if they were “regifted.” I still remember struggling to write a Thank You note for a child’s size rain coat with boys’ boots. We gave them to a children’s shelter, but I couldn’t say that in the note.

  9. National Measure Your Feet Day– really? Hmm, wonder if there’s a Hallmark card for that… 😉

    • Think of the fun we could have creating that card: 1) unfold card, 2) place your foot on the page with your heel on the green line, 3) if your big toe reaches the yellow line but your second toe reaches the orange line, then…
      Carrie, I’m always stunned at the “——- Day” designations for the days of each month, but I’m serious when I say I found the source that said January 23 was “Measure Your Feet Day.” Actually, though, to be correct I think it should be called “Measure Your Toes Day.”

  10. Enjoyed the post. Interesting /thoughts about the toes.

  11. How many people (hands up) took off their shoes and checked their toes after reading this post? OK I did. Another wonderfully thoughtful post. Consider this a hand-written thank you. Off to check out the link.

  12. I love your blog Marylin. Your heartfelt words and wonderful tribute to your mother are so touching. I’m sure you have an amazing mother and the daughter writing the words is very special as well. Have a beautiful week.

  13. Marylin, such another lovely tribute to your mom.
    And I learned all about toes and skiing. Interesting! 🙂

    • I wonder how many longer big toes or longer second toes athletes and non-athletes they tested to come to this conclusion. We know a hiker who had two of his toes surgically shortened on each foot to enhance his hiking ability. (You do NOT want to know how a surgeon shortens toes, believe me.)

  14. Cool frog! It’s Hot Tea Month for me every month and you’re reminding me I should eat more oatmeal. And if it’s Eye Care Month, it’s ironic I broke my new glasses yesterday. Fortunately I got them fixed today. I could have blamed my poor eyesight for managing to hit my face when I opened my car door, but obviously, I was wearing my glasses…

    • You’ve been busy…if you measure your toes and give blood this month, too, and then write a Thank You note to the lab technician, you’ll have it covered. Do you think they give Gold stars if you do all the designated “To Dos” in a month?

  15. Marilyn,
    It is so moving that you write to your mom here. What a way to get to the heart of meaning and put your story into other people’s hearts. Thank you, Renee

    • You’re very welcome, Renee.
      When it’s all said and done, my hope is that my grandchildren–my mother’s great-grandchildren–will read these posts and comments and feel like they really know their great-grandmother in spite of the dementia and confusion. Sometimes all we can do in these circumstances is remember and record those memories for the next generation.

  16. Letter writing and thank you notes. Your Mom taught you well. I learned that lesson from my Mom, too. A lost tradition it seems. Sad.

  17. petit4chocolatier

    Loving the post and the frog.., too cute. I always send hand written thank you notes except if it is work related. Then it is mostly email. I tried to instill the handwritten thank you notes on my children when they were really young. Now they are in their 20’s and I hope they still do it.

    • And as nice as a verbal thank you might be, and an email thank you, too,
      isn’t it “extra special” nice to get a handwritten note of thanks? I have to admit that I really do feel “thanked” when I receive a note.

  18. wow! I didn’t even know January was the month for so many things! Cute!! haha.. I guess you can really find out a lot from the internet! Don’t know how we could live without it now!

  19. As usual Marylin wise words and so much information but it also seems in some circles, even the art of ‘saying thank you’ is going the same way as a written note, sad …

    And you and Missy Barrett stop it… It is entirely to my Edification that I am enlightened every time I visit either of your sites xxxxx

    • NaNaNa, Tom, you can’t stop us from telling everyone what a fine guy you are! I would hand write a thank you note, but honestly, the postage between here and there would be horrendous…but still, the praise is genuine.

  20. Oh, and did I mention that I have a pinky and a ring finger that are almost the same length!!!!!! Not the same as toes I grant you but never the less

    • WOW! You never cease to amaze, Tom. I’m not sure what it means–maybe you’re an exceptionally fast keyboard typist or carver or craftsman–surely it means something special! (Even if you shot off the tip of your ring finger, or sliced it off or whatever, even THAT would mean something, right?)

  21. Oh, and I am still an exceptionally fat keyboard typist

    • I knew there was a story about the finger, Tom. This is the stuff of heroes, husbands, fathers and grandfathers…and much respected friends. You are my breath of fresh UK air, and your perspective is valuable and appreciated. Thanks for being a part of my blog.

  22. “Writing conversations on paper “… Never heard it put that way before. I love that.

    • I loved it, too, Darla.
      But I remember asking how it could be a conversation if I was the only one doing the “talking,” and can you guess what the answer was?
      If you write conversationally, with feelings and details, you can almost picture their response as they read it.
      Don’t you love that image? Filling in the blanks, picturing how they responded…I think that’s how I started writing fiction.

  23. Dear Darla,
    Congratulations on your well-deserved writing honor for “Darla Writes”!
    To all bloggers, writers and readers: Darla McDavid has been included in Nick Thacker’s “Power 100: The 100 Best Blogs for the Modern Writer.” and click on Latest Posts.
    If you’re not reading Darla’s wonderful writing blog, you’re missing out!

  24. Titbit: on the way in this morning listening to the ‘Today’ programme on BBC Radio 4 an editor of the Telegraph is writing a book on Music. He tries to practice on the piano for at least 20 minutes per day as his ambition is to take on (and I can’t remember the classical composer) one of the most difficult piece’s ever composed for the piano.

    But the bit that caught my attention was that he wants to look, in the book, at the relation between music and Dementia. He wants to try and understand why it is his beloved mother in law who is in a home,can’;t remember who any of her family is but can easily remember the words to her favourite songs and hymns……

    • Thanks, Tom. There are been two studies here that I’ve read about, but they contradict each other. One found that music–and especially playing the piano–can keep parts of the brain connected in ways nothing else can, and the other says there’s little correlation in preventing or treating Alzheimer’s or dementia unless is was an active part of the person’s life before onset, which is kind of confusing. My mother played the piano and the organ beautifully throughout her life, and I do know that even now she responds to music, especially piano music. I buy CDs to be played while she’s resting or agitated, but it’s not always helpful.

  25. My mother also has Altzheimer’s. It robs us of precious time and memories. Love your blog.

    • Thanks, Barbara. You know first hand how difficult it can be. My mom has dementia, but my dad died of Alzheimer’s four years ago, and both diseases certainly do rob us of precious time and memories, but all we can do is the best we can, while we can.

  26. But don’t drink hot tea while measuring your child’s feet. This is a fun post, Marilyn, and your blog is a lovely way to honor your mother. By the way–the thank you note seems to be a dying art. Glad you’re promoting it!

  27. Great blog, Marylin. Thanks for liking mine. I’m sure I’ll be back here!

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