Rewind: Swimming Faces

Another post in my “Rewind” series. This post originally appeared on October 23, 2016 as a Facebook note in my pre-blogging days. As I journeyed alongside mom with her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, I learned through her experience many things about the affect this disease had on her world. As my mother’s caregiver, I have leaned heavily on the experiences of those who have traveled this road ahead of me. In sharing my experience, it is my hope and prayer that someone else will be helped and encouraged.

Even though Momma lives in a little one-bedroom apartment, many days she has a hard time remembering where her bedroom is located. A few minutes ago, I overheard her talking to herself saying, “Now, where is my bed?” Groaning with each step taken toward bed, I could hear my sweet mother then exclaim as she entered her room, “Oh, there you are! I can never remember where you are.”

I’ve been staying overnight at Mom’s house since September 11th. That was the night when mom had a severe separation from reality, scary hallucinations, and I had the realization that it was no longer safe or wise to leave her in her apartment alone. Sadly, she was so afraid to stay in her room. Every time I would get comfy and start drifting off to sleep on her couch, she’d come in the living room, flip on the light, then stand in front of the couch asking me if I was awake. I would get up, gently guide her back to the bedroom, do the room search (looking for the intruders she was so sure were there) and I would try to reassure her that everything was okay.

I noticed that even during naps taken during daylight, mom wouldn’t sleep under her quilt. I would often find it pushed to the corner of the bed or on the floor. On the third night of no sleep, Mom told me that there were “faces swimming” on her bedspread. She was clearly disturbed by its presence. So, I replaced the bedspread with an extra blanket and mom finally settled down enough to sleep for a few hours.

The next day, a very kind friend from church came to sit with mom so I could take my brother to a medical appointment. When I returned later that day, I related the story about the bedspread to her. She took one look at it and said, “Of course there are faces! Look here! See the eyes?” In all the years that the paisley bedspread had been covering my parents’ bed, I had never noticed that.

As I thought about my sweet friend’s observation, I recalled reading in several articles related to caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s that busy fabrics give some patients great anxiety and that it is helpful to use solid colors in clothing and decor choices. Even busy wallpaper patterns can take on frightening proportions that terrify the confused mind. With that information in mind, that very day, I stopped at my local Target and purchased a plain, simple white bedspread for her.

No more swimming faces – and every so often, I catch a heartwarming glimpse of mom gently fingering her new bedspread, running her hands across the soft fabric as she drifts off to a much more peaceful sleep.

First posted as a Facebook “Note” on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2016

The Lie and the Gift

As I have shared in the past, my husband and I met through the mail. We found writing letters to be of great value in getting to know one another before we actually met in person. I must confess, however, sometimes one says things in letters they might not say in person. In our case, when I re-read those letters (and I did save every one of them), I am able to pick out areas where we both – perhaps to impress the other – exaggerated the truth a bit.

Wayne shared a rather impressive list of hobbies and interests in one of his first letters to me. Now that we are very well acquainted (married for 44 years), other than marble collecting, fishing, playing guitar, and keeping aquariums, I haven’t seen him pursue most of those things on his lengthy list with any degree of relish. Likewise, in trying to create an equally impressive list, I may have exaggerated a thing or two (or five) in my response with my own hobby and interest list.

I think I said I really liked playing volleyball and may have made myself out to be a more impressive player than I actually am. I recall seeing “fishing” on Wayne’s written list, and trying to find SOMETHING in common, I told him I loved to go fishing. Well, the truth is, I could count the number of times I had been fishing on one hand and have a finger or two left. I had indeed gone fishing with my dad a few times, and I did love that. Truth be told, I probably loved the time with my dad (and the snacks he brought) more than the sitting in the boat and fishing part. That exaggeration was probably quite evident when, on one of our first dates, Wayne took me fishing and I couldn’t bait my own hook. I am happy to say that I did catch the biggest fish and that I would still go fishing with him today if he wanted to take me along.

1973 – Cindie’s Big Fish

On my not-so-long-as-his list of hobbies, I also said I loved to sew. In this statement, I greatly exaggerated the truth. I was a high school sophomore, and the truth was, I had only sewn in two of my classes: ‘Home Economics’ in middle school (a poncho with big sunflowers on it) and ‘Textile Arts’ in high school (a bathrobe with a hidden zipper). I did enjoy sewing and earned good grades on my projects, but sewing had not actually risen to the level of a hobby yet.

Fast forward to our dating days.

One day, Wayne complimented me on a pretty floral blouse I was wearing. I loved the blouse, but didn’t care for the buttons, so told him I had replaced the buttons with ones that looked like little flowers. Wayne thought I made the blouse myself. I didn’t say I had sewn it, but I also avoided saying that I didn’t. Before I knew it, Wayne told his mom that I made the blouse myself and, much to my shame, I didn’t stop him. My blushing silence on the matter wasn’t even an exaggeration of the truth – it was an outright lie.

I’m ashamed to say that I never came clean on that misunderstanding. It would have been easy to do if I had corrected him right off the bat, but got harder to do as time wore on. So, I stopped wearing the favorite blouse so the lie would just go away.

Fast forward a few more years.

It was September 18th on the occasion of my 19th birthday. Having just been married in July, it was my first birthday celebrated as Mrs. Winquist. My husband’s birthday surprise for me was my very own sewing machine. I could tell by the joy in his eyes that he knew he had purchased the perfect gift for his seamstress of a wife.

A seamstress I wasn’t…but he didn’t know that. I loved the gift, so happily went shopping for a pattern and some pretty material. In retrospect, I should have also picked up a seam ripper, because I would be doing plenty of that in the days ahead. Not knowing much about sewing, I unwittingly chose the hardest pattern I could possibly find. It was a Marlo Thomas dress pattern with a hidden side zipper, a 6-gored skirt, and lots of darts. I wish I had a photo of the pink dress with little flowers – it actually didn’t turn out too bad. I do have a little bit of the fabric left in my sewing stash just waiting for the perfect project.

I can now honestly say, I did indeed learn to sew. Many garments, curtains, costumes, baby quilts and Christmas stockings later, I still have that same Sears Kenmore sewing machine and have been happily sewing ever since. During this time of COVID-19 “stay at home” orders, I have been challenging myself to learn how to insert zippers, so decided to get some practice by choosing Pinterest-inspired projects that would help me with that skill. My little machine has been humming away as I create book/music bags for my grandchildren.

My vintage Kenmore and a book bag in progress for granddaughter #3

My next COVID-19 sewing challenge will be to try my hand at a quilting technique called “string quilting.”

Stay tuned…

Rewind: Ice Cream & Car Keys

Another look back at defining moments in my Alzheimer’s journey with Momma. This is a subject that comes up often in caregiver circles: I know my loved one needs to stop driving, but how do I take the car away? This is how our story of that defining moment unfolded . . .

Facebook Journal Entry – September 15, 2015

Momma loves ice-cream. She often tells me she has not met a flavor she does not like. But, it is quite obvious she absolutely loves butter pecan.

My mom oftentimes reminisces about a favorite childhood memory while enjoying her favorite treat.  In this memory, her family would take her grandmother grocery shopping every Thursday evening in Clarksburg, West Virginia. On the way home, the Peet children just knew their daddy (equally passionate about the creamy confection) would stop and treat them all to ice-cream.

Momma’s paternal grandparents, Wilbur and Bessie Peet

This story is deeply etched into mom’s memory – a lovely memory that rises to the surface whenever she scoops her favorite treat. I love to hear my sweet momma share the stories from her youth, from her days in nursing school, from my childhood, and from her many years dedicated to her profession of nursing.

The memories that are stored in this special place deep within her mind come easily. Sadly, not all things in life are so easily remembered for mom these days. We all sometimes forget where we put our phone or our car keys, or struggle to remember a name. This is different. Mom’s memory loss is no longer confined to temporary lapses like occasionally forgetting the name of a friend at church, or where she put her purse, or what she ate at her last meal. The disease that is robbing her of memory has now captured her short-term knowledge of whether she has eaten at all. She will sometimes serve herself bowl after bowl of butter pecan ice-cream, single-handedly polishing off an entire carton in a few hours, then ask if we can go shopping because she hasn’t had ice-cream in ages.

Many other changes are evident to her family and friends, and it is very concerning.

Today is the day we have to tell Momma that she can’t drive anymore. Our family has discussed this and we all believe it is time. My heart has ached all day in anticipation of our talk with Mom. How grateful we are for our friends and family who are praying for us as we have this hard discussion with Mom.

We enjoyed dinner together while listening to Momma tell her stories and ask the same questions over and over again. Wayne and I give one another knowing glances, acknowledging that the time is now. After clearing the table, we sit with mom in the living room. I fidget quite a bit then begin by saying, “Momma, you know that Wayne and I love you very much, don’t you?” Oh, yes, she acknowledges. She knows that full well.

“Momma, you know we would never do anything to hurt you, don’t you? You know that all we’re doing for you is with your best interest in mind, don’t you?” Well, yes, she knows that too. Then Momma starts to fidget and get a little worried look in her eyes.

We share with her that we have decided that it is time for her to stop driving. As we gently shared with her the reasons why, I could see the tears brimming in her eyes, ready to spill at any moment. I think Wayne’s eyes were tear-filled too, but I couldn’t rightly tell, for my own eyes were stinging as I fought back the urge to cry.

The discussion was at times difficult, then sweet, then funny, but always with a heart-rending undercurrent that life was taking a turn that none of us wanted to take. In the end, Momma agreed, suggesting that we take the car with us so we could come and visit and help her more often.

Tomorrow Momma will wake up to a new day and she may not remember this conversation. She will probably call me in a panic when she gets up in the morning and discovers that her car keys are missing and that her car is not occupying its usual spot in the garage.

But, right now, in this moment, we will enjoy butter pecan ice-cream together.

Rewind: The First Date

Here’s a Facebook rewind where I reminisce about my first date with my (now) hubby, Wayne. We now have a granddaughter who is almost the age I was when Wayne and I met. And she reads my blog! Yikes!


Early in their writing relationship, Wayne shared his list of hobbies. It makes Cindie laugh today because she’s never in 34 years of marriage seen him even attempt to body surf or snorkel, but there they were on his lengthy list. Try as she may, she couldn’t find much in common. Why she tried so hard, knowing full well he was “too old” and she was “too young” is hard to explain. I think it is best summed up that high school girls like to dream – and dream she did.

They planned to do three things together during his 30-day leave of absence from the Navy: ride together on the church bus to Camp Fairwood; a dinner at a restaurant (Wayne’s way of saying “thanks” to Cindie for writing); and a fishing trip (because, as you may recall, in trying to find something in common on the aforementioned “hobby list,” she had stretched the truth a tad to say she “loves fishing.”) Other than these three things, absolutely no plans to “date” were on the horizon.

But God is always full of surprises.

First surprise: on the very Sunday that Wayne and Cindie met in the hallway at church, God planted a Marine named Danny (cousin to her best friend, Cindy).

Danny and Cindy came to church together that Sunday evening. Cindy introduced Danny to Wayne and Cindie. Danny was on leave too, and, small world that it is, was stationed on the very same Hawaiian island as Wayne. Danny, outgoing and gregarious as they come, assuming Wayne and Cindie were a couple (not knowing they had really just ‘met’ one another) said, “Hey, why don’t we go out for a bite to eat together after the service?” Cindie had to ask her mom, of course. It seemed innocent enough, so mom said yes, and off her daughter went on her first unplanned un-date with Wayne.


The second surprise was an “un-date” that happened the very next day when Wayne accompanied Cindie and her dad on the trip up to their church camp, Camp Fairwood. It was Monday, August 6, 1973, and Cindie’s dad was driving a bus loaded with 30 or so junior-aged boys headed for a week of camp and he had invited Wayne along [in retrospect, Cindie wonders if this was her dad’s way of checking out this young man who was paying attention to his young daughter]. The stated intent was for Wayne (who drove fuel trucks in the Navy) to give Cindie’s dad (and his bad back) a break in driving on the trip home with the empty bus. Wayne and Cindie talked all the way up to Camp, with junior boys teasing them all the way . . . and Cindie’s dad keeping tabs via the bus’s extra-large rear-view mirror.


Then, as God would have it, surprise number three. A Pastor from another church asked if he could hitch a ride on Garfield’s bus – this would get him closer to home where his wife could pick him up. God’s surprise? Pastor Luke offered to drive, allowing Wayne and Cindie to chat non-stop for another 120 miles (although neither apparently wanted their photo taken, here is photographic evidence).

Cindie attended prayer meeting on Wednesday night – and so did Wayne.  Cindie’s friend Cindy (I know, it’s confusing) was there with her cousin Danny too. They decided once again to “grab a bite to eat” after the service together.

During their table talk at Jolly Roger’s, Danny suggested they all go to the Wisconsin State Fair together on Friday night. Cindie swallowed hard knowing she’d have to ask her parents about that one too. She knew this one was going to sound more like a REAL date. Surprise number 4: since it was a double-date, her parents said ‘yes’…with reservations and restrictions, of course.

The fair was wonderful. The foursome enjoyed all the usual fair fun and food, then decided to take in a concert by Sha Na Na. Arriving late for the concert, they took a place seated on the ground near the stage. A song or two later, Danny decided for reasons unknown to lay his head in Cindie’s lap. She didn’t know quite what to think, or what to do. But Wayne did. He stood up and said to Danny and Cindy (mostly to Danny), “We are going to go take a look around at some of exhibits, we’ll catch up with you two later.”

 Before the evening was through, in the midst of a crowded state fair exhibition hall, Wayne and Cindie were separated. Wayne once again knew just what to do. He reached through the crowd, took her hand in his, and didn’t let go until the evening ended with a gentle goodnight kiss at her front door.

He let go of her hand that night, but never her heart.

Rewind: “He Meets She”

Seventeen letters from her and eighteen letters from him later, and it was time for “he” and “she” to finally meet one another in person. The letters between them had been filled with bits and pieces of thoughts shared and information that helped them “get to know” one another. Each letter revealed just a little bit more about the person holding the pen.

About a month before he came home on leave, he sat down to write. The mood struck him to write another poem. The poem took her by surprise – for it was on the theme of love. To this point, none of their letters had even hinted that they might at some point date, let alone fall in love. Yet, she read with interest what he had to write and wondered if it was a measure of what was in his heart:

“Love” – what is it?
A word that’s used so frequently,
By many quite confused
They think they use it properly,
And yet “love” is oft abused.

How can I spell the meaning that,
In just a couple words,
Relates exactly what love means,
And not destroy the word?


It seems the dictionary lacks,
Enough vocabulary,
To even start this giant task
Or end it properly.

Is friendship love or vice versa?
A miracle in thought?
Or is it even greater still
To think of things Christ taught?

On earth we’ll never really know,
The sparkling magnitude,
Or what it really means or does.
It seems I’m more confused.

Where does “love” come from, or “love” go?
From heart to heart perhaps?
Does anyone pretend to know?
There are no “Atlas” maps.

I think love is being loved
A little brings a lot.
And God planned and started it,
Or else we’d be without.

Was he falling in love with someone he hadn’t yet met? Was he thinking about the possibilities? Was he already thinking about taking their relationship to the next level? Was she?

Sunday, August 5, 1973 finally dawned. Today was the day… and I don’t think she heard a single word of what was being taught in Sunday School that morning. Nervously fidgeting in class, she kept thinking about what would happen next.  In less than one hour she would meet in person the guy she had been writing for the past 7 months. There would now be a face and a voice to the name scrawled at the end of the letters she had read in earnest. She was excited, nervous, eager, scared and a jumble of other feelings all at once.

To help him pick her out in the crowd, she told him she would be wearing a pink dress. It was her favorite dress, the one she had worn to the church “senior banquet.”

In their last letters to one another before he came home on leave, they made plans to meet at church between Sunday School and the morning worship service. Now, with her best friend next to her for moral support, she timidly walked down that long second floor hallway scanning the crowd looking for him. Her heart skipped a beat as her shy eyes caught a glimpse of him standing there at the far end of the hall – tall, handsomely tanned, and dressed in his Navy whites.  He was looking for her too!

Intense nervousness set in. Even though she had agreed to meet him in that hallway just outside the church library, she still felt apprehensive and awkward. What should she say? Should she shake his hand, or give him a hug? Should she say, “Hi, I’m Cindie, and you must be Wayne” or just simply say “Hi Wayne”?

Nonchalant! That’s what she decided she would be. She would just turn her head and engage herself in deep conversation with her friend (nervous, nonsensical babble, actually) and just walk slowly past him and wait for him to make the first move.

It worked.

He thought she was a bit of a scatter-brain walking past him like that, but he stopped her and soon the introduction was history.  Little did they know, as God would have it, this was the introduction to their future.

Coming soon: “The First Date”

Rewind: “God’s Providence and the Envelope”

I promised I would tell how “she” started writing him in the first place. 

You’ll remember that her church made it their mission to ensure that every serviceman and woman who went out to serve their country from this church would receive at least one piece of mail each month from someone in their church family. Several pre-addressed, stamped envelopes were distributed to the teachers in the various adult Sunday School classes. The high school class also participated in this letter-writing endeavor. 

Garfield Baptist Church in Wauwatosa, WI (now Spring Creek Church in Pewaukee)

Each month her Sunday School Superintendent (Mrs. Grace Barron, her youth pastor’s wife) would hold up two of these pre-addressed envelopes seeking volunteers to write a letter. “She” was accustomed to volunteering to write a random recipient each month, but, as was mentioned in an earlier account, had selfishly decided that she was no longer going to volunteer. 

Pastor Bob & Grace Barron

Her reason? Simple. Because they didn’t write back! 

Pretty selfish, wasn’t it? If she wasn’t selfish, at least she was a bit naive. It never dawned on her that it sometimes takes months for mail to reach someone serving in the armed forces. It also never dawned on her that some of the recipients might be in a foxhole dodging the enemies attack somewhere in Viet Nam. 

On this day in early January, while sitting in class waiting for the Sunday School pre-session to begin, she saw the familiar air-mail envelopes sticking out of Mrs. Barron’s Bible. To further strengthen her resolve, she whispered to her best friend Cindy that she was not planning to volunteer this month. 

Mrs. Barron held up the two envelopes and, with her characteristic deeply dimpled smile, asked who would like to write one of our servicemen this month. The reluctant writer avoided looking at Mrs. Barron, but could somehow still feel the teacher’s eyes imploring her to write. But, no one would volunteer. 

“She” felt bad, but still stubbornly refused to volunteer, sitting on her fingertips, so as to remind herself not to volunteer. Mrs. Barron sounded disappointed and made her request one more time, this time looking straight at her usual volunteer. The reluctant writer didn’t budge in her resolve – though something inside of her really wanted to. 

So, without a single volunteer, Mrs. Barron opened the class in prayer. The now guilt-ridden reluctant volunteer bowed her head in prayer too, a little bit ashamed of herself. 

Then a really unbelievable thing happened. As Mrs. Barron raised her voice in prayer invoking God’s blessing on the students and their class time in God’s Word, the reluctant volunteer felt the Bible that was sitting in her lap move. She looked down and underneath her hand, the cover of her Bible was being raised and one of those envelopes was being slipped into the flyleaf of her Bible. Mrs. Barron never paused or missed a beat in her prayer as she cunningly executed the drop. The disinclined letter writer looked up at the praying pastor’s wife and made eye-contact. Mrs. Barron’s eyes were saying, “Please?” The hesitant writer nodded in reluctant affirmation…she would do it. Still praying, Mrs. Barron’s eyes smiled a “thank you.”

After the “Amen,” the involuntary volunteer looked at the name written on the envelope. She had no clue who this Wayne L. Winquist was…but Cindie Boyles would soon find out.

Next up: “He Meets She”

Rewind: “Her Crazy Little Letters”

He looked forward to receiving her weekly letters so much and one day sat down to put his thoughts about their letter-writing friendship to pen and paper.

Your first note came five months ago
And although it was quite brief
It had a lot of meaning
Like the Spring’s first light green leaf.
It wasn’t very polished
And you seemed a trifle shy
But I must say that didn’t matter
You were a new friend saying “hi.”

After one year on this island
(A paradise to some)
I had lost a lot of interest
And my world was too hum-drum
Still your “crazy” little letter
Though I cannot explain
Gave me words I never had before
And made my days less tame.

Your cheerful, lovely person
Has traveled all these miles
In little paper envelopes
And brought me many smiles.
Your thoughtfulness and kindness
And spiritual uplift
Removed a lot of darkness
And slowed an aimless drift.

Each letter that I open
Contains some new surprise
– when the paper changes color
– when your thoughts across them fly
Though my poem to you is heartfelt
It never can proclaim
The friendship I extend to you
Even though it should be plain…

She loved the poem and read it over and over again. The last line in the poem puzzled her though. It seemed an awkward way to end. What did he really mean? Was there more to their friendship than she knew? Was this the beginning of something more?

He was right – as awkward as the last line felt, the relationship that was just beginning would turn out to be anything but plain.