Tag Archives: LGBT Caregivers

Bedtime dreams on a Thesis


We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future. George Bernard Shaw

The road to Spokane has gotten a little bumpy (no I did not get a virtual ticket) the last couple of nights, but thankfully, I was able to submit chapter 3 this weekend, albeit a few days late; I hope Dr. Hazel does not mind! (I already am sensing a short rewrite)  Now we are in the process of gathering data from our working family caregivers survey and next week, we will start gathering data from employers through a second survey.   If you have not taken the working family caregiving survey, there is still plenty of time to do so.  Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/workcare2016

Approaching two years since Richard’s passing and six months since my book “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?” was published, this past week has been an emotional roller coaster.  In an earlier post, I wrote about getting beyond compassion fatigue, and I have also written about the different levels of grief that I have experience since Richard made his life transition. However, what I did not anticipate while working on the survey and thesis project is the diverse reflections and intense emotions about Richard and our Caregiving experience .

Since Richard made his life transition, I have have had very few dreams about him.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Symbolism In Communication  where I wrote about receiving a text message from Richard’s old telephone which has been turned off for almost two years.  Now, this week, while working on this thesis project, I have had two very vivid dreams, back to back, about Richard.  In the first dream, we were at the hospice unit, the second dream is difficult to describe, but intense.  I woke up with a massive headache the morning after the second dream.

wp-1455801922917.jpgWhile I do not attempt to psychoanalyze these dreams, it has made me stop and think about my role as a family caregiver and my life after caregiving has ended.  I know in my heart and my mind that I did all I could for Richard and no matter what I think I could have done differently, nothing was going to change Richard’s destiny as the cancer had spread throughout his body.   However, the knowledge of knowing and accepting that I did all I could for him, does not change the fact of how much I miss him.

I continue to believe that it is important for family caregivers to share their story as they feel comfortable.  Every family caregiver learns something when another caregiver’s story is told.  Yet when is it time to move on?  I guess I am asking myself that question now.   Caregiving is an intense experience, life after caregiving can be just as intense, but different.   

During the intensity of the daily grind of being a family caregiver, there are times when we think we are weak when in essence, we are quite strong.  The dreams of the past week reminds me that it’s okay to be vulnerable as it will only make me stronger as I get continue to adjust to life, now that caregiving has ended.

The Road To Spokane is my virtual story on the way to graduation from Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington

Chris MacLellan is the host of Healing Ties Radio show and the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?”

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A Book Cover Preview: On National Bow Tie Day


As you might have noticed, I have not spent much time blogging on The Purple Jacket over the past six weeks or so.  However, that does not  mean that I have stopped writing.   As The Bow Tie Guy,  it seems fitting on National Bow Tie Day I share with you with a preview of the cover of my  first book, ‘What’s The Deal With Caregiving’ published Jack Tatar at People Tested Media.

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Photo Credit: Photo Journalist Carline Jean with permission from the Sun-Sentinel

Now in our final edits, my goal in writing  “What’s The Deal With Caregiving” is to bring readers a comfort zone to reflect, re-energize, and find reassurance, knowing there are other Caregivers out there, just like you, who understands your journey, who cares for you, and simply loves you because you care.  As a Caregiver, I’ve been there and because of my personal experience, I want to guide and assist your journey

I will be sure to keep you informed as we get closer to publishing this fall.   Here is just one of the many testimonials that have been sent in to me.

“I really love the approach you took with this – it’s different and of great interest to me as someone who was caregiving a loved one. It’s different because you are approaching it from angles that I don’t remember reading about before. You highlight important issues that sat at periphery of my awareness. I wish I had read this the year Kris started to wind down. Unfortunately I can’t go backwards, but for those now embarking on the caregiving journey it will be of immeasurable value.” Ira Woods, President and CEO of One World Memorials.  Author’s Note: Please visit Ira Woods’ blog, Conscious Departures.com for his well-written and compelling story in regards to when Caregiving ends.

A special thanks to my family, Richard’s family and my  friends in both South Florida and St. Louis for their continued support as I finish this first project.

Writing this book has been cathartic!

We are already working on book number 2 ‘Healing Ties: A Story about Love, Care, Cancer and Commitment’ which will delve deeper into our Caregiving  story with personal accounts of the five pillars:  our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial health. I will write openly about our joys, laughter and struggles, because in the end, our story is about the meaning of love. Look for book 2 to be published early 2016.

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We Might Have (had) Cancer, but Cancer Never Had Us!

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A New Bloom


Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson

Plant 12

Plants on the patio

I have never considered myself to have a green thumb and until recently, quite frankly, always found gardening a little boring.  (Well, not as boring as fishing, but that is for another conversation!)  However, over the past year, I have acquired a few plants and have become fascinated by their growth, their response to water and their placement to the  sun.  It has been interesting to move the plants from one area to another, watching them respond with spurts of growth.  Heck, I’ve even gotten my hands dirty and re-potted a couple of plants.  Talk about going out on a limb! (No pun intended!)

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Lovely yellow and green leaf plant

I wouldn’t say that I know all the names of the different plants, but I do know from studying Latin that green plants are called Viridiplantae.  Some of the plants sit outside on the patio and some sit inside around the house.  Just in the last few weeks, I moved a beautiful yellow and green leaf pant  from the shady side of the porch to the sunning side and immediately, the plant grew about 5 inches.    I have found this process amazing to watch and glad that I have found a new Saturday routine to follow.

I water the plants every Saturday morning and look forward in anticipation to my time with the plants.  Back and forth from the faucet, adding a little plant food to the water, ensuring that the water is not too hot for the plants.   Funny how caring for the plants sounds a little like Caregiving to me!

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Our favorite breakfast stomping ground in Lighthouse Point, FL.

What is interesting about the Saturday routine with watering the plants is that Richard and I had a routine every Saturday were we would go to breakfast and spend the morning together.  On Friday night we would talk about where we wanted to go for breakfast the next morning; we would plan elaborate trips to Miami or to Palm Beach, but more times that not, we always went to our old favorite restaurant in the neighborhood for our bagel and nova sandwich.   My good friend Denise Brown from Caregiving.com pointed out to me the other day about the symbolism of exchanging one routine for another.   I had to chuckle at myself and whole-heartily agreed with Denise.  The exchange of one routine for another, while innocuous at first, has true meaning  and is symbolic of the love, care and commitment that Richard and I shared for each other.

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April 2014

Sure, I check in on the plants during the week to make sure that they are all in good health and prospering.  Yet I was taken back by one special plant today which started my foray into horticulture.  At Richard’s celebration of life last April, my sibling sent me a plant in his memory.  Over the past year, the plant has lost its beautiful blooms. Until this morning when I noticed two new bloom!  I was overcome with joy!

There were times during the past year that I thought the plant was not going to make it.  Yet somehow it bloomed again.  Come to think about it, there have been times over the past year when I did not think I was going to make it.  While the sleepless nights have dissipated, the crying spells have subsided,  the missing of him sitting next to me has never gone away.

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April 2015

 Over the past year, I have read quite a bit about the different theories on the grief process. One theory said 30 seconds of grief is all you need; of course, there is the traditional 3, 6, 12 month theory for grief. From my experience, I really don’t think one particular theory on grief works.   Grief is so personal and so real, and so different for each one of us. Yet there is one theory that I do think applies to each one of us. Like plants that need to be watered in order to regain its bloom, we too, in our grief process, need to be watered so that we can bloom again.  There is no time-table for a new bloom, but without the proper nurturing and care, our soil does become dry and whither away.

 The symbolism of this new bloom comes exactly one year to the day when our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was published in the Sun-Sentinel. I beamed a big smile of joy for the new bloom today because I was reminded how important it is stay the course and…to be watered.   And I shed a tear of joy knowing that this new bloom is Richard’s way of telling me that he is at peace and right beside me.

I think I will keep this plant for quite a long time, because I just don’t water the plant, the plant waters me, too!

Chris MacLellan is the Host of Healing Ties Radio which can be heard on

Health Cafe Live, iHeart Radio and UK Health Radio.

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LGBT Caregiving on Healing Ties Radio


Join us on Wednesday, April 1st at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com as we visit with Ernest    Olivas from Emerald Elite Senior Home Care in Wilton Manors, FL.  Serving the senior LGBT        community in the greater Fort Lauderdale area, Ernest and the staff at Emerald Elite Senior Home Care understand the concerns LGBT
Seniors have when accessing care.  We will talk about the      issues facing LGBT seniors and accessing care and how the staff at Emerald Elite match all their      clients with the right professional Caregiver.    Tune in and hear our ’Healing Ties’ Juke Box song       selected by our guest and  learn how Ernest and Emerald Elite Senior Home Health Care is creating Healing Ties all around us!  Cannot listen live?  NO WORRIES!  Healing Ties is available on demand on our Healing Ties iHeart Channel

To listen to the show live…Simply click here! 

To listen on demand at iHeart Radio, Simply click here! 

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Pulitzer Prize Nomination: A Posthumous Birthday Gift


Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Oscar Wilde

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Photo Credit: Carline Jean Photographer for the Sun-Sentinel

Today, January 24, would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday. Last year we celebrated with a small group of friends at one of our favorite stopping grounds, D’Angelo’s, in Fort Lauderdale; it was a fun-filled evening that everyone will always remember.  One of my favorite photos from our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey was snapped at D’Angelo’s last year.  Anticipating those delicious Petit Fours, you see us both peering into the box, as if we are playing a game of peek-a-boo.  While I forget how many Petit Fours were in the box, I do remember that by the next morning, the box was empty!

This week comes the word that our story, ‘In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey’ has been nominated by the Sun-Sentinel for Pulitzer Prize consideration.  I think it is fitting that I share this information with you today on what would have been Richard’s eighty-fourth birthday.  Both modest, yet very accomplished, Sun-Sentinel journalist Diane Lade and photojournalist Carline Jean told our story in a very loving way that has touched over 400,000 people worldwide.  I am thankful because the story has provided me with a very special memory that will last a lifetime.

Those who knew Richard knew him to be a private person.  For him to agree to do the story was his gift of love, care, and commitment to me.  I return it two-fold.  I am reminded of some sage advice that I have received along the way since Richard’s life transition: ‘The feeling of missing him will get softer, but the love you shared will always be strong.’  I think of these words of wisdom quite often, especially today on his birthday with this special news, reminds me how strong love can be in one’s life.

My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is forever pain-free; my heart tells me that he is right next to me.

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Superstars: Diane Lade and Carline Jean

I thank Diane Lade and Carline Jean for telling our story through the lens of love, care and commitment as that was the true story of our life together.  In my book, they have already won; they also won Richard’s heart along the way, too.  For without their demonstration of professionalism, along with the love, care, and commitment they showed to us on this journey, Richard never would have felt comfortable, especially over the last few months,  to continue with the story as the cancer took over his body.

Richard said to me just a few weeks before he made his life transition, “Diane and Carline are going to have quite an end to their story.”  That Sunday afternoon on March 9, 2014 when Richard made his life transition, he waited for Diane and Carline to arrive in order to say his goodbye to two people who he allowed into his heart.  Richard let very few people into his life, and in his way, by this very deserving nomination, Richard’s love, care, and commitment, continues to give back to the people he loved, cared and trusted the most.

Congratulations to Diane, Carline and the entire Sun-Sentinel Staff who worked on this project.

Diane Lade and Carline Jean will always have a special place in my heart.

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52 Years And Still Going Strong!


Join us on Wednesday January 14th  at 7 pm EST on HealthCafeLive.com for an enlightening  conversation with Bob Collier and Chuck Hunziker.  What is so special about Bob and Chuck…EVERYTHING!  Bob and Chuck are both veterans, pillars in their community and they just happen to be a couple celebrating 52 years together!  Both in their 80’s, Bob and Chuck, never meant to be activists or plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law, they just   happen to be two people who want the world to be a better place for all of us to live. This is a couple who is creating ‘Healing Ties’ all around us!

Can’t listen live on Wednesday?  NO Worries!  Healing Ties radio is available on demand on iHeartRadio/HealingTies by clicking here!

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It Would Have Been Awesome: But It Was!


“It Would Be Awesome To Get Married, Even If For One Day, Because It Would Solidify What We Already Know ” ~ Chris MacLellan November 2013

weddingringsWhen the clock struck 12:00 am on Tuesday, January 6th in the State of Florida, same-sex marriage became the law of this fine state: Hooray I said! Of course there will be people appalled by this decision to grant equal rights under the protection of marriage; bully to them! I wonder about those who ‘worry’ about granting equal rights to same-sex couples through marriage?  Do they need a ‘piece of paper’ to signify their love? We’ve heard the religious arguments, the family values arguments, heck, even heard that world might end if same-sex marriage became law. Last time I looked outside, the ground was still standing firm in this fine state of Florida.

Same sex couples have known for a zillion years that we do not need a ‘piece of paper’ to solidify our love; however that ‘piece of paper’ does solidify our equal rights.   Bigotry and hatred, unfortunately, will always be  around us, yet that ‘piece of paper’ provides clear protection  to all couples who have been together, one day, or 50+ years.  When you look closely into the laws, both federal and state, and see how laws are granted to those who are married, this ‘argument’  of  marriage equality comes into perspective.   As Americans, we do not often like to talk about death and dying, but all the rights granted by marriage are intertwined at the time of death.   Did you know that in every state of the nation that the next of kin for an adult is a spouse! Until you’ve been denied the right to be with the one that you love at the time of death, or asked, ‘Who Are You’ by medical staff, or have been told, ‘your not next of kin’ after your partner hasThe Bow Tie Guys passed away, you never fully grasp the inequality.

Yes, this day is bitter-sweet for me: I’m sure I am not alone.  Richard and I talked about getting married, and it would have been an awesome thing to do!   I can’t imagine us getting married would have deepened our love, it just would have solidified what was already known! Yet I do hope our Caregiving story, In Sickness and In Health: A Couple’s Final Journey and what happened to us along the way as an unmarried couple,  helped pave the way for this historic day in Florida.   In some small way, I am sure that it did! 

Yes, it would have been awesome to get married, but our life was awesome together, without that ‘piece of paper! It would have been awesome to gather our  family and friends together for a ceremony, but heck, they all knew that we loved each other, that we were committed to each other, without that ‘piece of paper.’  As one of my sisters said to me today, “Heck, you two were everything to each hands touchginother, but married.” She was so right, because, in the end, the only thing that matters is that love, care and commitment is the same for any two people who are committed to each other as one.  Our ‘piece of paper’ was imprinted in our hearts.

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That Ride Down Memory Lane


Love has no age, no limit; and no death ~ John Galsworthy

 I started the journey down memory lane on Christmas eve just before 7:00 pm.  First stop was the beach front in Palm Beach, Fl., just across the street from

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Beach Front: Palm Beach, FL.

where TLO and I had dinner last year.  No sure how I was going to react once I arrived at the scene to start of my journey, I took my tablet along and sat out on the beach as I knew my friend, Denise Brown was hosting a 36 hour chat on her wonderful website,  Caregiving.com for Caregivers who might need an extra support over the holidays.   While it took me a few minutes to log-on from my tablet, I was happy to find R.M. as the guest host.  Like me, R.M. has experienced  the loss of her husband; we had a great conversation which lasted close to 45 minutes:  R.M.’s conversation and comfort was just what I needed to meander down the road!  (By the way, if you have not visited Caregiving.com or Aftergiving.com, you’ll find a great supportive community there, I suggest you visit both website by clicking the hyperlink above!)

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Christmas Lights on Ocean Dr

With Christmas Carol’s playing on the satellite radio, I headed south on Ocean Drive  as so many wonderful, and happy memories filled my time on the road.  Of course I missed his physical presence in the car, that gentle caress of his hand on mine.  Heck, I even missed his opinion, or two!  Seeing those beautiful lights on Ocean Drive reminded me how memories of love last a lifetime. Then it hit me…Death does not change love!  Sure, I may not remember something as mundane as how the Christmas lights were displayed in front of these homes in previous years, but I do remember how special our drives up and down Ocean Drive were to us was because our drives were apart of the love we shared together.

Just the other day I was at a party and was asked, “How long should someone grieve.”  Puzzled, I replied, “do you want the standard therapeutic  answer or one from the heart. Oh, I know the standard therapeutic answer, but I want to know your answer, since you’ve allowed so many people into your story.” My reply was simply this: “Just as love is unique between two people, so will be how one will deal with their own healing and grieving.  There is no time-table, there is no recipe for grief other than just to own it, embrace it and at least forwpid-wp-1419525578309.jpeg me, talk about it, because in time, it will get better.”
After talking to R.M. in the Caregiving.com chat room, I thought about this conversation last night  as I motored down the road on Ocean Drive. I think it was kind-of-like one of those  ‘AH-HA’ moment that we experience from time to time that lit a light bulb in my head, turned up my spirits, and reminded me to be thankful for what I had, rather than sad for what I think that I have lost: Death does not change love.
Yes, I have lost his physical presence in my life, but that doesn’t mean that I have lost his love in my life.  That was the big distinction

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Hugs and Love last forever

that I learned on my on Christmas Eve. When in the midst of healing and grieving, sometimes we need a trip down memory lane to help create our Healing Ties.

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Going For A Ride on Christmas Eve


 Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.

 Holiday HugsOne of the many things that I have missed this holiday season is the rides TLO and  I took to see the beautiful Christmas lights up and down Ocean Drive in Palm Beach and Broward County, Florida.  Usually our drives were filled with lots of chatter, or gossip, depending  on your point of view.  Yet one thing that we did during these rides that I miss the most is simply holding hands.  There is so many ways to express love, yet there is nothing more basic, more real, than to hold hands.  That gentle touch which bringshands comfort in so many ways, is missing this holiday season.
Christmas eve was always our special night.  Whether our pocket books were flush or not, we always made that evening, our evening.  We would sit down and plan for weeks about what posh restaurant where we would make our reservation.  Yet no matter20111225-083458.jpg where we decided to have dinner on Christmas eve, we always made plans to end the evening with a drive down Ocean Drive to see the Christmas lights.  Of course a nice ice cream cone was in order too!
I have not taken a drive down Ocean Drive this holiday season.  Yet I think I am going to take that ride on Christmas eve as a way to remember…as a way to celebrate our life together, as a way to create my own Healing Ties, but most of all, I am going to take that ride just to be thankful  for having the experience of love and being loved.  Caregiving is over for us; but love endures forever and love does make the ride worthwhile.
To all who are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace, comfort and lots of Holiday Hugs!

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Re-Branding The Purple Jacket?


  The starting point of all achievement is desire.  Napoleon Hill

I often get asked; ‘Why did you name your blog, ‘The Purple Jacket?’  The short answer is the symbolism of ‘The Purple Jacket’ is about life changing events and how life changing events can affect our life.  My life changing events happened around weight loss, weight gain and then around Caregiving. Yes, I actually do

The Purple Jacket

Yes, there is a Purple Jacket; circa 2006

own a Purple Jacket, and for quite some time now, the purple jacket has been about the only thing in my life which as stayed in the closet!

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Yep, that’s me in 2002

When I purchased The Purple Jacket in 2005, I had just lost 85 lbs over a two-year period.  Purchasing that jacket was out of character for me, not only was  it an expensive, spur of the moment purchase, there was nothing in my wardrobe which even  came close to looking like this jacket.  Wearing that jacket as a life changing experience: I just loved wearing that purple jacket on special occasions!

Before Richard made his life transition in March, he made me promise him that I would take better care of myself.  I am really 10401392_10152689856867819_6644878810826409650_ntrying to take better care of myself,  however some days are better than others.  Like many of us do, I deal with stress by eating.  Sure, I’ve tried a diet here a diet there.  I’ve been on the bike and on the walking path, each time I tried, that little voice in the back of my head seem to take control.

As I create a new path in life,  I wonder if it is not time to re-brand the blog? Re-branding the blog does not mean that I will give up on wearing the Purple Jacket, but in order to wear that jacket again, I wonder if it is not time to create some ‘Healing Ties’ in order to do so?

So as my faithful readers to the Purple Jacket,and listeners to my new radio show, ‘Healing Ties’ if you could answer some quick questions in our poll about re-branding ‘The Purple Jacket’ to ‘Healing Ties’ I would be most appreciative.

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