Tag Archives: Circle Center

You Get the Picture

Who needs a thousand words when it comes to mom?

There is no denying mom’s talking less and less, but when she says something, you listen and long for every word.

I had just dropped her off at Circle Center Adult Day Care. She was in her wheelchair, eyes closed, when I kissed her cheek and whispered, “Bye, mom, I love you … I’ll see you later, OK?”

Surprisingly she answered, “You’re not going to leave me here are you?”

“No mam. I will never, ever leave you. I have to go to work, but I’ll be back later to get you, OK?”


I gave her one last hug, and as I headed for the door, I heard her say loud and clear, “Good luck to you and your lover. (PAUSE) Ain’t that nice?!”

I looked back and her eyes were still closed, her head was slowly nodding up and down, and I swear she was smiling.

It looked to me like she was totally pleased with herself for, well, being so nice.

I don’t know where it came from, but I still can’t get this picture out of my mind, and I don’t even know what it looks like.



Mom’s Report Card Rocks!

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Every quarter Circle Center’s all-star caregiver team compiles a report card for each of their participants.

Mom has always gotten great reviews, but this one took my breath away!

If my report cards had looked like this, I would have brought them home more often.

Therapeutic Activities: Helen participates in the daily A.M. Exercise Group, the Sing-Along, and other Music Programs. Helen is sleeping now during the Chair Dance Group’s sensory stimulation activity.

Memory and Emotional Support: Helen continues to be quite content in her own realm at the Center, drawing upon an inner reserve of happiness and joy.

Relationships: Helen will joyfully interact with just about anyone who passes or takes a moment to engage with her, often speaking or singing in a joyful response.

Snoezelen: This controlled multi-sensory environment (MSE) is a therapy for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, dementia or brain injury. Helen participates in the program 4-5 days a week. She responds well to light touch, is observed smiling and rocking to the music.

Summation: Helen is, as always, an engaging, happy, joyful soul who rocks!

Last night, I helped tuck mom in and then I told her about her report card. I told her how proud I was of her and how much I loved her.

Her eyes were closed now. She asked me who I was.

I whispered, “Tom, mom … it’s Tom.”

She responded, “Tom Laughon! I know Tom … I love Tom.”

After a long pause she added, “I am Helen Martin (her maiden name). She is a pretty, beautiful girl.”

“Yes she is, and yes you are. I am so proud of you. And, you know what else?”


“I love you, pretty, beautiful girl … I sure do love you.”

I pulled the cover up under her chin, bent over and kissed her brow while I gently rubbed her cheek. I stayed in that position for the longest time, synchronizing our breaths until we were breathing as one.

Mom, Old Man Winter & Me

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Mom, Old Man Winter & Me

As you can see from this picture taken a couple of days ago, after another Arctic blast dropped temps to the mid-teens, my mom is a champ!

Even with all the ice, sleet, hail, wind and cold Old Man Winter has thrown our way, mom has never missed a day at Circle Center Adult Day Services (except the days they’ve had to wave the white flag)!

And, like she taught my sister and me, she has never complained … not one little bit.

In full disclosure, I have missed a few snow days this season myself. It’s been pretty brutal.

Since I don’t believe Old Man Winter knows who he’s up against, I am sharing my open letter to him as a bit of a Winter Warning.

Old Man Winter,

Counting this one, my mom has faced off with you for 95 seasons that have shared your signature.

As you can see by her smile, you haven’t frozen her out of competing head to head with you yet … and you never will.

In fact, both of us laugh in your face!

You hear what I say, Old Man?

We laugh in your face!

Between Spring, mom and me, we will kick your ice!

Enough is enough,

Tom & Mom

The Day Hell Froze Over

Cold as Hell!

When a preacher’s wife, who has been on this planet in all kinds of weather for 94 years says, “It’s cold as hell,” it must be as cold as hell.

All of the weather forecasters in Richmond were unanimously proclaiming we had a record low wind chill of minus 10. Not only that, but they were teaching us a new buzz phrase for the day … the polar vortex (play scary music behind this phrase and you get the drift).

Getting past all the highfalutin weather speak and scary background music, I figured out it meant weather of biblical proportions was blowing frigid air from either the North or South Poles or both our way and it was going to freeze the holy crap out of all of us.

I even heard the forecasters throw in the word cyclone for good measure. Does Apocalypse Now come to mind? I don’t know … my mind was too frozen to think.

All I could see while on the verge of hypothermia was a sign from God and it didn’t look promising.

Hell Frozen Over

What kept me going was the fact that I had to go to work and that I had to take mom to Circle Center Adult Daycare Heaven. When I told mom we had to go, she acted like a champ.

She asked if the car was warm and I said, check.

She asked me not to take too long to walk her to the car because she didn’t want to turn into a Popsicle. I thought that was more than reasonable, so I said, check.

Then mom asked me if we could get a Slurp (mom’s word for Slurpee) on the way to Circle Center. That was the last straw. I said, no way … not while hell is freezing over, mom … not on the day hell is freezing over!

With that, we marched double time, arm in arm, to the car … thankful we weren’t turning into ice on a stick.

Note: Arrest Me!

I just noticed the picture I took of mom and I forgot to put her gloves on. Whoops! Now NSA surveillance has me on their radar.

I am doomed.

Smile Angel

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I have a deep belief in us, the staff, and what we can do collectively. We can and do make a huge difference in the lives of families who want to honor their commitment of love and keeping their loved ones close. It is a promise they will always remember, with stories about Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, to share with each other into the future.

I also have a deep and abiding belief in Circle Center Adult Day Services’ mission. What we are doing really matters. We can impact the way each participant lives out the latter parts of their lives. We offer relationship, acceptance and affection. – Ann Spinks

Circle Center Adult Day Services‘ (I call it Heaven on Earth) band of Earth Angels is a collection of some best caregivers on this planet (or for all I know, in this universe). Armed with invisible (to mere mortals) Hot Wings, they are everywhere they need to be, doing whatever needs to be done to make sure our loved ones are indeed loved and cared for. And … they take care of family caregivers as well.

My mom and I love these ever vigilant Earth Angels. And, they love us.

Here’s the latest news from Heaven on Earth: Ann Spinks, Circle Center’s one of a kind Smile Angel, is turning in her Hot Wings to follow her dreams, untethered, with no road map in mind.

This news is slowly sinking in and I am already having withdrawal symptoms for someone I am addicted to, someone I respect, someone I love.

Ann has been with Circle Center doing her “angel smile thing”, caring for her charges, her fellow angels, and as if that’s not enough, caring for caregivers like me since 1984.

The one thing I will always remember about Ann is her patented smile. It is outrageous. It is contagious. And, it has sure been there for me each and every time I have needed it.

If you don’t believe me, just focus on Ann’s image above for 30 seconds and you will feel the warmth of her spirit and her smile. I guarantee she will turn any frown upside down.

Warning: Don’t get too close to Ann’s image without smearing on a proper amount of sunscreen. She not only radiates warmth, but without proper protection, you could get what can only be described as sunburned. Amazing, but true!

So, here’s the song that I believe was written for and about Ann … When You’re Smiling.

When you’re smilin’ keep on smilin’
The whole world smiles with you
And when you’re laughin’ oh when youre laughin’
The sun comes shinin’ through

So, spread your wings, Smile Angel! It’s time for you to show the whole world just how incredible your smile can be!

Annie, you and your smile are a sure fire winning combination and will get you anywhere in this world you want to go.

The great big world will smile with …
The whole wide world will smile with you

God speed, Smile Angel. God speed.

A Wiggle in Her Walk

What has gray hair, six legs, and is a music machine?

My mom hopping and bopping down the hall at Circle Center Adult Day Services, also known as Heaven on Earth!

This is what raring to get to where you love to go is all about.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I say one that wiggles while cranking out original tunes is worth a million or more.

The Earth Angels who work at Circle Center care for my mom (and me) like nobody’s business and we love them, one and all.

And the beat goes on!

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