Dear Frances – RX for Caregivers “Laugh Hard and Laugh Often!”

Dear Frances – RX for Caregivers “Laugh Hard and Laugh Often!”

Photo of Frances Kakugawa

Frances H. Kakugawa
Hawai‘i Herald Columnist

Omoiyari . . . Think of others first and good karma will return to you. — Frances H. Kakugawa

Dear Readers,

I am in Hawai‘i as you read this, so I will respond to your questions when I return to Sacramento. In the meantime, enjoy these poems that I selected for their humor.

I hear a lot of laughter when I give keynote addresses at conferences, so I want to share some of the sources of that laughter with you.

This poem often results in women — and men — buying red feather boas to remind them that glamour and elegance can still be a part of caregiving.

Photo of Frances Kakugawa reading “A Feather Boa and a Toothbrush.”

Frances Kakugawa reading “A Feather Boa and a Toothbrush.”


It is 3 a.m.

I am on my hands and knees

With toothbrush in one hand,

A glass of hot tap water in my other,

Scrubbing BM off my mother’s

Bathroom floor.

Before a flicker of self pity can set in,

A vivid image enters my mind.

An image of a scarlet feather boa

Impulsively bought from Neiman Marcus,

Delicately wrapped in white tissue

Awaiting in my cedar chest

For some enchanted evening.

The contrast between my illusional lifestyle

Of feather boas, Opium perfume and black

And my own reality of toothbrushes,

Bathroom tiles and BM at 3 a.m.

Overwhelms me with silent laughter.

— Frances H. Kakugawa

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Frances Kakugawa was her mother’s primary caregiver during her five-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Kapoho on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, she now lives in Sacramento, Calif. Frances has melded her professional training as a writer and teacher and her personal experiences as her mother’s caregiver to write several books on caring for people with memory-related illnesses, including one for children. Frances is a highly sought-after speaker, both in Hawai‘i and on the Mainland, sharing strategies for caregiving, as well as coping with caregiving.


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