• Lauren Burke


Today I bought my first pumpkins of the season. Usually I have at least a few pumpkins by my birthday in the beginning of October, but my budget this year had a different idea... So today, Oct 29th, I bought three pumpkins.

I don't think I would have gotten any this year, but as a part of my pain management program, we painted pumpkins at "crafternoon." So my new favorite ladies encouraged me to participate, and I'm so glad I did.

I went to "crafternoon," painted my pumpkin, came home, and encouraged my grandpa to help me carve our first jack-o-lantern. Last year I tried to get him to help, but he wanted nothing to do with pumpkins or Halloween. This year, his caregiver Christine has been trying to encourage him, and it's worked! He was talking about handing out candy, and actually helped choose a face for our pumpkin.

Pop said our pumpkin should be smiling, so he drew a very creepy sketch on a piece of paper, taking up less than a square inch. It had two round eyes, two round nostrils, and a smile.  We encouraged him to draw another, and then I "interpreted" it in Sharpie on our actual pumpkin. I took a more traditional jack-o-lantern approach, but thankfully Pop loved it.

I didn't realize I had my family's carving kits in the Halloween decorations at first, so I took an old steak knife to open up the top. Being Pop, he had a lot of opinions on how it should be done... Being me, I just nodded my head and said "yeah, uh-huh," and kept doing what I was doing. I was using a nail and a mallet to try and tap out our outline, but thankfully realized I might have that carving kit. That made it so much easier!

I got the whole outline done, and started carving. Pop looked on in wonder, commenting on how strong I must be to make carving a pumpkin look so easy. I wanted to tell him children did this every year, but I laughed and told him thank you, and posed my best strong pose. He kept telling Christine what a great photo it would make of me carving the pumpkin, and she kept trying to hand him her phone to take pictures. But no, no, that wouldn't do! It had to be like this, and like this, and she had to do it! Once an artist, always an artist! He directed our art, her with the pictures and me with the pumpkin.

He was so pleased with our pumpkin, and let Christine and I take some pictures of him with it. Of course, he was still telling us how to do that! First he added two little pumpkins below the jack-o-lantern. Then he rotated it this way and that. Then I tried to get Ricki to pose with the pumpkin, but no, no, that wasn't right! So he actually tried to move my dog. He tried to push my 60 lbs labrador closer to the pumpkin!! This man is 5'11" and weighs about 150 lbs... and he tried to move my dog. She was displeased, but we captured the moment of him trying, haha! Good thing Ricki is so patient. I think she mostly just wants to eat the pumpkin... That's what happens when her Kong is usually filled with pumpkin and apple!

I'm struggling a lot with depression right now, and going to events like crafternoon always help. Having my grandfather be so lucid while we played with pumpkins helped too.

It didn't last though, as he got back to his paranoia as soon as I'd left to begin washing the tools. Maybe he has another infection, maybe he just hasn't slept well, or maybe his Alzheimer's has progressed. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I need to buy some candy, and try to not eat it all before Wednesday rolls around!

Happy Halloweek, everyone!

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