Life, Love, and Paradise

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Dear Reader,

Imagine for a moment being invited to a family picnic where everyone, quite magically, gets along. Imagine witnessing people offering easy hugs and gentle back-pats and listening to each other’s life updates, both good and bad. Imagine being greeted by friendly faces and feeling welcomed immediately. This only partly describes the wonderful community of writers I spent an hour with each week at Hope Lutheran Church. I can’t help but think it was their strong bonds that fostered a setting for magnificent writing and poetry-making to occur. Below you will discover just what a recipe of innate talent and close friendships can create—pure, sumptuous delight.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



There was an old man
from Nantucket
who kept his money
in a bucket.

His daughter, Nan,
ran away with a man,
and as for the bucket…

Elizabeth F.



Who needs to wait until something occurs to make you feel that “it’s good to be alive?”

According to recent research, 100% of research groups studied agreed unanimously that being alive beats the heck out of being dead! Every day is a new day, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to live it however I want. Keeping your expectations low is critical to happiness.  I just say, “Hey, at least I’m alive. It’s better than being dead.” I have never heard a dead person say, “Man, I’m glad I’m finally dead.” Life is good, and death, well, who knows? I’ll stick with what I know: Life!

Rick Guilbeau



– This poem is not endorsed by the Republican Party.

Do I or
do I not
in this debate?
Should I?
Or should I not?
I’m smart enough, but
not that much.

Hate to be a stupid chump.
Why in the
heck did I vote for
Donald Trump?

Rick Guilbeau


World’s Longest Fishing Pier: Port Lavaca,
A Refuge For Young Lovers

Always windy
Dead Bait / Live Bait
Dead Fish / Live Fish
Both adding a rugged scent
To salt air
Dark unlit places at night
Sparkling stars above
Also a sparkling reflection
Waving reflections—the salt—the air—
We are along 1 1/2 miles out on the bay
We hold
It’s getting
Even in
The wet
And wind
Kiss and
Hope it

Rick Guilbeau



Our grandchildren live on an island off the coast of Washington State. When we visit them, we also go to the beach! Their beach is unusually windy and cold, but the last time, in August, it was mild enough to explore the tide pools—small pools of water and tiny creatures and plants that are left behind when the tides go out. The experience was delicious for me—there were tiny creatures that I cannot name, even now, and never knew existed. I felt like I was in a magical world with some of my favorite people. In other words, Heaven.

Rebecca Lowe



Writing on snowy paper,
inspired by others’ words,
is easy
and intimidating
and solid.

Rebecca Lowe


Old Cabin

Prickly cedar among white powdery rocks
bordering winding trails.
Reptiles are seen sometimes, both friendly and not.
An old cabin is sinking into the tall grasses
bordered by a thinly running creek.
Wood stoves and cold winters,
wildflowers in spring, summers of heat.
Old graves of beloved dogs,
friendly faces, good hearts.
Doors open, still.

Rebecca Lowe



Everyday life seems to be accelerating
with time as we age.
We seem to notice details of life with
much more appreciation now than in earlier
periods of our lives.
We see children as much more
involved, advanced, active in everyday life
than when we were growing up. Science and
technology were not as advanced as they are today.
There seems to be recognition of the
acceleration that is occurring in science and
technology and how much more needs to be
learned, practiced, and controlled.

Manny Chavez


Appreciation of Life

It seems to me that life is just the way it has been described before, as being “miraculous.” I have much more appreciation for life now (at age seventy-three) than I did before. Just being “alive” is miraculous. To think that I am now in a much later stage in my life is scary and daunting, yet is is also very rewarding and appreciated. I feel very blessed to have had a good family, a good education, a good career, and good health. As I face an older age and have indication of neuro-degenerative impacts, I am still not scared of getting older. I still feel very honored to have been born and to live in the U.S.A. Recent occurrences have been good for all of us. New challenges are good for the U.S.A.

Manny Chavez



Why am I here?
What do I want to do
with my life?
Who am I—who is this
woman Pat?
Will Pat ever do any more
art? Will she be strong
enough to work alone? And make art?
Would taking a pill make it more
easy and likely to work/make art?

Pat Keen



This morning, I walked my dog Mo around 7 am and the sun was not yet up, but it was sending up orange and blue lights across the sky… and then in another viewing direction, the sky was a very deep yellow mixed with that same intense blue.

How wonderful that I remember it, and I can see it in my brain! Because I have some form of Alzheimer’s, so sometimes my brain is not available.

Pat Keen



The peace and tranquility that
comes with friendship,
sharing moments precious
to each other

Enjoying the unity
and bonding in
feeling refreshed
by each other’s
views and ideas
and loving,
having friends
to share
your journey!

Audrey Krier


What Makes Life Worthwhile

Being married, having kids,
seeing them go through school, and friends
and adventures, successes, and feeling
you did something worthwhile in your
life. Seeing grandchildren grow and
being proud of their successes
and getting to know their talents
and what they give to the world.
It gives one something that makes
life worthwhile and fulfills one’s
dreams. Now, hopefully, this
world will benefit from
their successes. That’s
a legacy worth
passing on!

Audrey Krier


Bridge City, Texas on the Louisiana and Texas State Line

in the marshes with the snakes, crabs, alligators,
mosquitoes, and crawfish that live here.
Jet boats riding on top of marshes to see alligators
in dark, salty water.
And hot boudin cold couscous. Come on, push-push-push,
and eating rainbow crawfish.

Bobby Pruitt



With my family and grandchildren,
lots of laughter
in the outdoors,
in the mountains,
in the fresh air
that our God gave to us to enjoy.
My God is an awesome
God who reigns above.

Bobby Pruitt



Many years ago, I was put in charge of training a new salesman for Singer Sewing Machine Co. I let him drive the company van, and on the way back from the sale he was driving so fast that I thought, “I’m never driving with this guy again.”

We were headed down the freeway and about to turn onto the off-ramp when another truck happened to turn in our direction in front of us. He slammed on the brakes, and we rolled three or four times. There were no seat belts at the time, so our heads bumped the ceiling and we bumped into each other as we rolled in the air.

When we landed, the van was on its side and all the windows were smashed. He said, “You Okay?”

I said yes. I asked him if he was okay, and he said yes. We climbed out of the broken window and dusted ourselves off, both surprised to be alive, not a scratch on either one of us.

Lee Roy S.


On living in Casablanca, Morocco

The life I had was rich and happy,
good family and good friends,
the life that I’d love to
give to my children and to
have again. Living was rich.

Sarita Mais


Reading My Book

I am reading my book.
He is clearing the table and sweeping the
I am reading my book.
He is cutting the grass and sweeping the
I am reading my book.
He is running the vacuum and dusting.
I am reading my book.
He fixes a quick dinner and brings
me my portion in the living room.
I am reading my book.
He looks at me and slowly heads up the
I wait a moment or two, put my book down
& head up the stairs behind him.
Ain’t love great!

Jeanne Roden



When my son was four or five years old, we were living in Arizona on the Navajo reservation off and on, and the school would hold outdoor activities for us. I always attended them with my son Jon. At one event, there was a swimming race for all the kids ages ten and under. They had to enter the adult pool and swim its length. Jon took off and was flashing down the lane. Soon, he was out front! I was cheering for him and leaning against the guy next to me. He kept murmuring, “He’ll never make it. He’ll never make it…” But Jon persevered and came in first—far ahead of the others. I was so proud, I actually squealed!

Jeanne Roden

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