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Singing Walls and Dementia

Joy and Matt in 2020.

When I started this blog, I wanted to fill it full of stories of people who overcame chump heartbreak and went on to gain better lives. So, I asked the mightiest person I knew —  my Aunt Joy —  to share her story. She gave us The Walls In Your House Will Sing, her inspiring tale of divorce, reinvention, and remarriage.

Over the years it’s thrilled me to see “my walls sing!” reports from CN. (My Aunt Joy is the original badass. When I went through my D-days, she drove down from upstate New York to pack my cheater’s shit in boxes and hauled them to the garage. God bless her.)

If you ever read her story, you’ll know that nearly 40 years ago, she found love and married her high school sweetheart, Matt, who was a fellow chump. (His ex-wife ran away with their priest. My grandmother suggested that perhaps my aunt could offer some words of support. The rest is history, as they say.)

My uncle Matt was a wonderful man. A loving father and husband, a spoiler of dogs, a model railroad enthusiast, a generous host, a quick and wry wit. I’m using the past tense so you might guess where I’m going with this — he has dementia. The Matt we all knew, but still love, has been fading away for about nine years. For seven of those years, and throughout a pandemic, my aunt was his sole caregiver.

Over a year ago, as she approached 80, she had to make the hard decision to put him in a care home. I cannot imagine the burdens of caregiving someone with dementia. It’s like a slow-rolling death. The man she’s loved is gone. A few years ago she told me what she missed the most was conversations. There was no one to share life’s little intimacies with. It got to a point where Matt couldn’t follow what you said. And then it got to a point where he couldn’t talk at all. Or recognize anyone.

I’ve been thinking about my aunt and Matt this week, for a couple reasons. First, Matt has taken a turn for the worse. Let’s just put it this way — the bodily functions are failing. And he’s agitated and lashing out and there’s a long wait for skilled nursing care. All my aunt can do is cry and continue to show up. And do hard thing after hard thing after hard thing. After a long road of doing hard things.

Which brings me to my second point — she shows up.

Her devotion is unquestioned. I’m sure over the years she’s faulted herself and not felt adequate to the task. But there is no part of her that would not do this. It’s how she is wired. She loves with her whole goddamn heart.

So fuck Dan Savage and “transactional” love. For many years, my aunt had reciprocal, devoted love from Matt. And then there came a day when the calculus changed. Where she was not going to get a return on her investment. She would have to give without getting, because the person she loved was vulnerable and failing.

She hasn’t run off with a priest. She hasn’t run off, period. She shows up and does the hard things. Because that’s who she is. Just like you folks in Chump Nation. Sane parenting alone. Showing up for disabled kids and aging parents. Supporting the newly chumped. Being solid friends. Loving with your whole goddamn hearts.

So your Friday Challenge is to send my Aunt Joy some words of support. And let her know how your walls sing. She could use some cheering up about now, and I know just the right people for the job.





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  • Blessings upon Joy and Blessings upon Matt. And to everyone who Matt and Joy love. And to everyone who loves Joy and Matt.

    • I have cared for and nursed both my parents through cancer, strokes, paralysis and death. But taking care of and losing a beloved spouse with dementia is devastating. I pray for Joy to receive and strength and stamina. And comfort and consolation.

  • Dearest Aunt Joy, may peace and love be with you always and especially in this current time of need. All of CN supports you and sends positive energy to you and Matt (and CL) as you face the hardest of times. ((((HUGS))))

  • Your Aunt is an angel, anyone who is a caregiver is showing unconditional love. I just watched it happen with my own father, as he was sent home on hospice and my brother and mother took care of him 24/7. He died within 24 hours after I arrived to help, but I was in it for the long run too. He wasn’t a nice man, sometimes abusive, but he was our dad, and we didn’t abandon him when he needed us. It’s what families do. Your Aunt won’t regret taking care of her husband, she will be rewarded.

  • Having done the end of life care for 3 beloved elders, including 15 years with one with dementia, I say “Bravo” to your Aunt Joy! It’s a tough road, but now, 10 years later, I am still proud, and grateful that I chose to do this. Not everyone can! Do take care of yourself. I found the book “ the 36 hour day” was a blessing and read it many times. I also gave many copies of it away. I know your Aunt Joy is a strong person with much love to give and receive. I send my love to her!

  • Aunt Joys story continues to be an inspiration. She is amazing. She is the woman more precious than jewels. I’m praying for her comfort and solace.

  • Love to Aunt Joy who it seems was aptly names. My walls sing when my teens feel safe to bring friends to our apt. My walls sing at the peace I created for myself after having narcissist parents and a long term relationship to a narc I am finally enough and I am safe in my home with my kids… and I have a million candles because my ex hated them!

  • Aunt Joy to continue to love and support with no feedback or response must be devastating and hard. You are my hero.

    My story of my singing walls in a nutshell…

    10 years ago I kicked my cheater ex to the curb. I lost a lot of weight as I couldn’t eat. I didn’t need to lose it. I found life super hard. I wondered if I’d ever stop loving him. He was my first kiss. We’d been together 15.5 years. We had a one year old and a three year old. I was broke.

    Today I have a beautiful thoughtful caring husband who isn’t transactional. When I raise an issue, he listens without turning it back on me. He loves me and treasures me. We’ve been married for two years together four and together we are raising our five kids. His three and my two. Our kids get on great.

    My career took off. We have a beautiful home. We laugh and share conversation. I may have more grey in my hair, and wear bigger clothes but my husband still calls me beautiful.

    Life gets better.

    I look back and realise the whole damned relationship was toxic but I never saw it because I focused on the positives. I was a master spackler.

    My days of grieving were made sooo much better by this website. I read every damned article. These days I read because I co parent with a narcissist. And it provides insight into his personality.

    Thank you for all the resources and articles here. I’d have been lost without them in the dark days.

    Tuesday came many years ago now and I’d like to think I’ve paid forward all the support I received through friends and the information available here.

    Thanks again

  • May God show up in amazing ways to see you through each day. Love and hugs Aunt Joy, your name says it all! ❤️☺️🤗

  • Joy, you are a gift and an inspiration.

    As Paddington Bear said to another great lady recently: Thank you, ma’am, for everything.

  • Rare is the person who truly knows the value of family, friendship, commitment and the act of just showing up.Your name is the embodiment of all who are lucky enough to be connected to you through family friendship or even as far away as chump nation.I hope your burdens are made a bit easier in knowing you are cherished.

  • Aunt Joy, it seems you already have many of the answers, and you certainly have the support of Chump Nation. When it comes to thinking about how you relate to a man who is losing those precious memories of your life together, I suggest your read some of the “Best Friends” approach to dementia care by David Troxell and Virginia Bell. People with dementia often don’t recognize partners, relatives and others because they remember their appearance from years and decades earlier, not how they look now. It can be easier to interact (for both parties) if you approach them as a close or best friend, rather than pressuring them to remember. For more than 20 years, they’ve been sharing this approach with professional, health care facilities, and families, and it’s very effective.
    I hope you also turn to support groups for yourself, not just to hold up others. I hope you will find solace and comfort.

  • I love this, you’re a blessing to your family, Aunt Joy. At the same time, I wish I could hear more positive stories about men showing up & taking care of their spouses. The rate that men abandon their spouses during illnesses is appalling. My ex begrudgingly & minimally helped me through an illness -while barely suppress his scorn & resentment – and I have to say, that has deeply scarred me.

    • Actuarially speaking, women outlive men, so they’re more likely to be caregivers. But I agree with you that people who abandon sick spouses are appalling. All the reason more not to reconcile with a person of terrible character. There are men who are caregivers — my grandfather took care of my grandmother for the last 10 years of their lives (they lived into their 90s). But I’m not denying either that there’s a gender element to abandonment. Your spousal appliance services are no longer needed. Or more to the point, the appliance is malfunctioning. Get a new one.

      • I didn’t mean to steer the conversation away from giving your aunt the well-deserved boost & cheer that she deserves, CL. She deserves them all, as does anyone that takes care of ill family members.

      • The weird thing about my relationship is I had to care for her and my boys when they were ill, but was alone when I was sick. It just goes to show you cheaters only care about themselves.

        • it’s like CL says, Josh, it can just be about terrible character (and that’s an equal opportunity thing for all genders). Women are 6x more likely to end up divorced if they get sick than men…so we can’t ignore that gender makes a difference when it comes to who will be there for their spouse. That’s awesome that you have been a caregiver for your ex-wife & children. How do we clone you? 😂

      • Chumplady….I was at the doctor’s office yesterday and read an article in a woman focused magazine (although it could be said for men as well) about spousal caregivers taking time to get their needs met. Sadly it proposed without qualification, having a lover to get physical release. The article gave third person accounts of caregivers meeting at support groups and beginning side relationships to fill their desires. One such story told of a wife needing relief from taking care of her disabled husband and the end solution for her was to move in a man she was intimate with and he was to help take care of her husband. I’m not on board. This particular story reminds me of a 90s movie about the same scenario, it starred Judith Light…I’m fuzzy on the name. Very disturbing

        • NYN–

          That’s completely psychotic. I wish you had the name of the publication and author to add to the “ick” list. When I worked for a health watchdog group, I began hearing how “euthanasia” advocates were starting to cluster around US and UK “right to die” movements to insert their abominable views. No big surprise that several prominent euthanasia advocates turned out to have financial ties to lobbies pushing to privatize hospice and make death (how’s this for a lousy idea?) “for-profit.” As a dyed in the wool liberal, it irked me that these shills were all over the pseudo-progressive media trying to peddle these curiously fascist concepts (“Mercy killing” by any other name?) as somehow “groovy.” They would point to the beacon of the Swiss model without mentioning Switzerland’s strict legal limits on profits in private healthcare.

          Anyway, the sentiments you read don’t seem so far from that sick perspective. If you think about it, normalizing rank betrayal of the ill and dying is a step closer to “Sure, let’s withdraw my spouse’s food and water, pull the plug, pour on the morphine and hasten death” (ka-ching). I’d love to have a look into that publication’s board, parent company and sponsors. Something smells terrible. I don’t think an argument like that would have made it into print twenty years ago.

      • I read that the divorce or separation rate among cancer patients is similar to the general population, about 11.6%, but found the rate jumped to 20.8 percent when the woman was sick versus 2.9 percent when the man was ill.

        I think about those numbers a lot.

  • I know how you’re feeling. I take inspiration from my mom, she stayed with my dad until the end, he was sick with cancer for 20 years until he passed. She was in a sexless, caregiver role, young kids, a job, and a sick husband and she loved him deeply until the end. She took her vows and love seriously.

    • Wondering if your ex-FW gave an Oscar winning performance pretending to be someone like your mother before eventually being revealed as the opposite. You’ve got to hand it to abusive personalities that many have wizard level skills in gauging and mirroring their targets’ views, tastes, expectations, etc. Narcissism expert Dr. Ramala said something in a podcast about when two narcissists get together and mirror each other’s mirroring. It struck me as a bit funny, like vampires trying to feed on vampires or an old Xerox machine copying copies of copies of copies until all that’s left on the page are ghostly smudges. They require live bodies to replicate in order to pass for human, though the effect never lasts.

      • This makes me think of my FW XW and her partner (her former older, rich and married boss). If ever there were two narcissists that I know of in a relationship (they “married” a year and a half ago, roughly). She immediately started to mirror for him, and to a certain extent, him to her, I think. At least from what my son would tell me (unasked for, of course). I think he’s her daddy-figure, so I think he has more pull in the relationship. But who knows? She did finally wear him down to get him to accept them getting a dog. It just makes me laugh, thinking of them trying to feed off each other.

        As for Aunt Joy, what a wonderful person, partner, and woman she is. CL, please tell her how awesome she is, again (I know you already have).

        Her story reminds me of how our family came together to take care of my dad after he was re-diagnosed w/two new cancers, after he had survived the Whipple procedure following a pancreatic cancer diagnosis roughly three years before.

        My mom is a narcissist, but has a strong streak of uber-Catholicism (and the narcissism doesn’t completely define her, thank God), and we all pulled together under her to care for him as he died (me and my three siblings). It remains one of the proudest moments in my life, and I believe for our family. We made sure my dad was taken care of and died w/dignity and love.

        That’s what a good partner and person deserves, at the very least. That’s what your uncle is getting thanks to Aunt Joy. Such a tough thing to do, but so beautiful that she’s doing it. Please give her our love and admiration. I wish her (and him) strength and eventually, peace.

  • Hugs and much love to Joy!!!!! I am a caregiver, working in a nursing home for 30 years. i know her struggle. I commend her for showing up every day and night. It’s definitely not easy, it’s downright HARD!! This my fellow chumps is what love is all about. Unfortunately our FW’s don’t comprehend that.

  • You know, this story is mighty because of faithfulness. My cousins wife had dementia and my cousin delt with her at home and then put her in a facility. BUT HE WAS HAVING RELATIONSHIPS with all her nurses and care givers. Having sex with them and excusing it because he had >LOST HIS WIFE already and he had needs. I heard those same words out of my own STBXH after his multiple affairs as he expected forgiveness and said “HE HAD NEEDS and could not wait for me to heal…..he gave me six months. I stayed with him two more weeks before I filed. I KNEW my STBXH would do the same and not even wait until I didn’t recognize him to start making excuses to do someone else. Actually, he was having affairs when I was healthy and loving him. What would he do if I needed him and was sick? I knew what he would do….
    . Thank you for this love story, I am sure there are many, but we just don’t hear of them as often as cheaters. God bless you as you are saying a long good bye to someone you loved. It is such a heartbreak but THAT IS WHAT LOVE IS ALL ABOUT

    • ” Grief is the price we pay for love”, as my late Queen said.

      This story is so heartbreaking, and yet so uplifting too.

      Aunt Joy, you are a wonderful, wonderful person, and I just can’t express enough how much I admire you, how much empathy I have for you and your situation. You have character, integrity, and an unwavering moral compass. I salute you.💫💝💫

      • Ditto on that Chumpnomore6. I want to add how much that story of “my walls will sing” has stayed in my mind over the years. I’ve used the phrase with a friend – it says so much. Joy’s reach of love has been spread all over CN

  • God bless you aunt’s tenacity , unconquerable spirit, and unconditional love for not only her beloved Matt but so obviously her whole family. During my time of horror I had my uncle Nick and Eddie a local restaurateur that consistently had my back. The walls sing with music and ideals that lift the spirit. If I may, there was a song from when I was in junior high the early 70s that always lifted me. It was aptly named “Joy” ( short for Beethoven’s ” Ode to Joy”) I offer this to your wonderful aunt….

  • Aunt Joy, your re-post could not have come at a better time for me. Thank you. Sending you love and strength as you have sent to us.

  • I hope Joy has been able to engage hospice care for her husband. My mother (who died in September last year at 96), like Matt, declined for years, physically and cognitively, so I have recently walked that path with my mother. Hospice helped so much this last year as my mother exhibited the signs that CL describes as happening to Matt.

    The process of dying is like birth: it’s elemental, physical, out of our conscious control. Birth and death are the essential, enduring mysteries. As difficult as it was to be with my mother in her final months, and in the weeks of her actively dying, I don’t regret it for a moment. In fact, in her last few days, I did not want to leave her side. I wanted to be with her. There was a holiness to keeping vigil, and of being present at the time of her death. There is grief, but there is also fulfillment and release. And the full measure of love.

    • “There was a holiness to keeping vigil, and of being present at the time of her death. There is grief, but there is also fulfillment and release. And the full measure of love.”
      THIS!!!! Wow, what a perfect description of that experience! Thank you for being able to describe that, Adelante, for years I’ve been searching for how to express it.
      My mom died when I was 42 of breast cancer after 4 years of a horrific ordeal. The last months on hospice at home and the last week, when we knew the time was nearing and we still didn’t want her to go, my 5 siblings, her loving attentive husband of almost 50 years and all the grandchildren gathered in the home. The walls of that home( the one I also grew up in) just sang of love, life, sorrow, loss, death.
      Sure, there was grieving and pain, we all hurt for one another’s impending loss, as well as our own, and hard to know the bigger pain. But it felt truly spiritual to me. Like I expected to observe a glowing light of peace covering everything enclosed within the walls.
      The culmination of a life well lived, surrounded by ppl my mom dearly loved and who loved her as much back. Honestly, beautiful and excruciating is how I would say it.
      Lives lived well are worth living. Cheaters will never understand these kind of emotions. They don’t experience live to its fullest measure, they are too busy chasing the next best thing.
      This post today is so inspiring! It makes me cry. I need to gather my thoughts more to address Aunt Joy, but I’ll get to that too.

  • I owned a facility for dementia care, for those not wanting to use convalescent homes. Some families dump their relative, never visited or inquired about them. Others felt extreme guilt for placing them in my care. I always let them know I had staff 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. Who were exhausted at the end of a shift. There are many, many types of dementia. But it involves wandering, hitting, arguing, inappropriate sexual behavior, toilet issue, eating issues etc.. The only constant was every one of them were happier after a visit. Most did not recognize family, but their souls seemed to know, remember. I am happier to die alone, then have expectations of care, from someone who would dump me at my lowest. Strangers are often kinder then family

  • Reading this is truly saddening yet truly inspiring. Aunt Joy was there and present for Chumplady in her time of need. I sense most here on this site desire reciprocal unconditional love.

    Aunt Joy… are an inspiration. I have been honored to know a few wonderful humans like you in my lifetime who have the same wonderful qualities. My grandmother comes to mind…..selfless and unconditionally loving in all of her 93 years on Earth. She lost her husband at age 50. I never knew my grandfather. She didn’t have much financially but never complained and always was there for her family. That is what matters.

    The world is a much better place with people like you to shine your light.

    I wish you peace, strength, comfort and support in your time of need. Thank you for being there for your husband. Thank you for being there for Tracy. In a way, you were there for all of us on this site.

    I hope the kind words from this site provide you some comfort.

    God Bless!

  • My husband left me less than a year after my breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. I always felt deep down that he would be unlikely to stay if I was ever diagnosed with a life threatening condition, or if I ever needed extended care. Turns out I was right. That’s why I so admire people like you, Aunt Joy. You embody the true meaning of love, devotion and commitment.

    God bless you, dear Aunt Joy. I can only imagine how hard, tiring and heartbreaking it must be. I will pray for you and your dear husband. Much love to you both.

    • Nemesis, before D-day I read a book by a family court judge in my country, where she tells the best and the worst stories of cases she has ruled on. One of them was of a guy divorcing his wife when she was dying of breast cancer to leave her for a schmoopie. Back then I thought “Oh, poor woman, how lucky I am”. Well, I will never forget how sparkledick dragged his feet to take me to the ER for an anaphylactic reaction. It was the weirdest feeling, here I was struggling for breath and worried that my then-husband wanted me to die. D-day came soon after.

  • Joy, you demonstrate unconditional love, devotion, and loyalty. You are amazing.

    I hope you will get some respite when family and friends offer you a break. You can’t run on an empty tank, take care of you as well.

  • Aunt Joy, read this in full before you dismiss. Go buy Matt some Organic Delta 9 edibles or oil. It is 100% legal. It will calm him down and produce feelings of euphoria. I like Exhale Wellness brand.

    You can ask his physicians, but they are all behind the curve on this. It will not interfere with any of his meds, except to make him hungry. Start with a very small nibble, wait 2 hours and then give him more if he is not more serene.

    When he is inconsolable, these will help. My uncle had end stage multiple myeloma (bone cancer). Toward the end, he was so irritated and despondent that he was almost uncontrollable. He would swing his arms like a windmill at the nurses. These gummies changed the entire vibe in his room. He smiled and ate banana pudding and listened to Chesterton Radio on YouTube.

    From screaming and tears to smiles and sleeping. The earth gave us these substances for a reason. Take a leap of faith and try it for Matt. 💕💕💕

    Note: If I had knowledge and access to these edibles when I was going through D Day, my life would be different. If you are heartbroken, try them today. Life changing.

    • My friend is a psychiatrist (not in the USA) and she has been prescribing cannabidiol for agitation in dementia with excellent results

      • Yup. My mom is on a cocktail of CBDs and THCs and although she has been medically resistant to everything pharmacological, the MaryJane has been the only thing that has consistently, if not fully, at least had some impact on her dementia agitation.

  • Your Aunt is an inspiration of the type of person many of us LBS’s strive to be. The type that truly understands the meaning of commitment and ‘for better or worse’. I wish her peace as her beloved comes to the end of his time and hope that she takes some comfort in their shared memories and the knowledge that she was with him till the very end.

  • Aunt Joy, you are a dear and kind soul. Your heart is breaking but full of love.

    I cared for my widowed aunt off-and-on for nine months as she descended into dementia, and it was one of the most tender and challenging periods of my life. We could not get consistent home care for her and finally got her into a care home. Those of us involved in the decision wept for weeks.

    Hang in there!

  • Thank you for helping to save me Aunt Joy. I am grateful and am now sending my thoughts and support now in return. ❤️

    I read your story about creating “walls that sing” very early on during some of my darkest days. Your story was a goal that I leaned on when I had very little to lean on. Something about that phrase sounded doable and worth chasing.

    I’ve moved several times since reading the post about you and each time I look around before taking a place and wonder if this is a space where I can make my walls sing? I haven’t moved unless I felt that was achievable.

    How I hang my photos and art, how I place my furniture, how I move in my space – it’s all guided by the goal of making my walls sing.

    I never found my equivalent of your wonderful spouse and our lives don’t look the same but you unknowingly gave me a path to happier days. It took a very, very, very long time but I made it with you as my spiritual guide.

    Those of us that have been end of life caregivers know the rough seas you are navigating. Please know you have the support of so many here. Complete strangers but still fellow travelers. I hope you can feel our prayers for you and your family.

  • Thank you, Joy and Matt, for putting good into this world and demonstrating that love truly is a verb.

    Joy’s story reminds me of Fred P., who visited his spouse (who also had dementia) in the nursing home daily where my mother worked and where I volunteered. His wife was no longer aware of her surrounding or even who Fred was, but he was devoted to her and decades later, recalling him makes me appreciate the good people in this world ever more. It’s the bond and the joy that transactional folks don’t understand, don’t value and ultimately miss out on.

  • I hope your Aunt Joy is able to let her spirit heal and will find a way to let her walls sing again.

    I was abandoned by my family at age 18, married to and divorced from cheating men, raised two sons, mostly by myself, worked and went to school, and worked until I retired. All of this was my life, and I accepted it and adapted and survived. But the hardest thing I ever did, no doubt, was try to be a 24/7 caregiver for my 90-year-old mother. She has dementia. I ended up putting her into assisted living, where a whole village of folks see that she is cared for, fed, and mentally stimulated. The stress of caring for her was beginning to affect my health. The mother I knew is virtually gone, I see glimmers of her every now and then when I visit. Her body is inhabited by a confused woman who cannot remember what she had for dinner. She participates in activities and gets along with others in her facility. but she cannot remember anyone’s name, or what they do for her. She absolutely lives in the moment, for a moment. So far, she still recognizes me, but I know that will change. She has no sense of time.

    Old age presents many awful changes and challenges. I am grateful that my mother does not seem to have any pain or debilitating illness. Her doctors tell me to concentrate of the quality of her life, and not the quantity of her life. I can read between the lines and understand what that means. I know we all will die someday. We just don’t know what day.

    I concentrate on all the great things my mother was able to accomplish in her life. She was raised in a repressive FOO environment where women were considered to be men’s chatel. They were there to cook and clean and provide sex and children. My mother was lucky enough to escape this environment, but she never quite overcame the brainwashing. She did go to school, she worked, she married a difficult, immature, selfish, controlling man, had 5 children. She did the best she could to raise us and see that we were educated and able to be independent. She did not know what to do when my father cut off my support after my first term of college. I made straight A’s and was doing well, but back in that day I needed parental permission to leave campus and date. He refused to sign. I told him I was doing it anyway. He cut my funding, thinking I would come groveling back begging him to support me. I did not. I was able to find a way to borrow money to help pay for tuition and books. I was already working. I worked more.

    At any rate I persevered, and my mother found a way to reconnect with me. I knew what her life was like, and what my siblings endured. I could not understand why she stayed married, but she did for forty years. She found ways to escape from my father and depended on the kindness of family and friends. She finally was able to divorce my dad after her dad died. Her dad left her his home. She continued to help support her children in the ways she had available. She was present. She successfully raised all 5 children, all of us went to college, and all of us were able to work and live independent lives. All of us found a way to survive, but 4 of the 5 of us were not able to develop long term relationships with a spouse. The one who did found a strong relationship with her partner’s family.

    I know my mother and all her children had residual mental problems resulting from the stultifying culture of our FOO. My mother knew women were actually people. We all have certain inalienable rights. She could not articulate that, but her life was certainly lived that way. She was strong and determined. I think she did a spectacular job of living under the conditions she lived through. I remember all that when I visit her. Sometimes I cry when I leave, but I smile while I am with her. Because I know she feels loved when I smile, and hug her, and tell her I love her. She may be a stranger to me now, but I love the woman she was, and respect her accomplishments and grit. She deserves that respect and love.

    I respect your Aunt Joy, and all folks who are present in the lives of those they love. It is not an easy task, but it is not a fool’s errand either. The power of love and commitment is worthy of respect. FW’s just don’t get it because they never really care for anyone other than themselves. Even if they know they are loathsome, their feelings are the only ones that matter to them. FW’s are truly alone in this world, by choice. People like your Aunt Joy represent all the good things we are capable of, all the things that truly matter. Bravo!

  • Aunt Joy, we all wish you solace and moments of rest and joy during this difficult time. You’re a good person.

    As for my walls singing moment, I’m finally living by myself. I never have before. The walls are all primed and ready for these paint colors: coconut cream, hibiscus pink, key lime, and Meyer lemon. I’m going to be living in a sherbet bucket and I can’t wait!

  • Aunt Joy, thank you for the example you have been in Tracy’s life. You gave that blessing to her and she has shared your strength and hope literally around the world. I know that you will make it through this journey with Matt with the same strength you’ve always had.

    I helped my mom walk a similar path with my dad as he struggled through end-stage Parkinson’s Disease. We lost him last year. It was hard and horrible, but we did all that we were able to do to ease his suffering. Please do NOT feel any guilt for making the choice to seek more help with his care. You are doing all that you are able to do. Statistics show that caregivers regularly die before the one they care for. You MUST take care of yourself to be able to care for him. I know you will keep showing up for Matt. May God bless you and keep you through this hard time.

  • I read Chump Lady every day, but have not commented for years. Like Aunt Joy, my 80+ year old father cared for my mother day in and day out for four years before she passed in August 2020, even while he suffered from his own health issues and the onset of dementia. He put his life on hold to be available to her 24/7. His dementia and health issues are now more than me and my siblings are qualified to handle and we will be moving him to assisted care living next week. This decision has gutted all of us, but we know it is best for him. My parents were married for 61 years and my mom was the only woman my dad ever loved romantically. Due to his increasing dementia, he has very little short-term memory and asks about my mom almost every day. When he is reminded that she passed, he breaks down, wracked with grief, as if hearing the news for the first time. My parents had been through many challenges and hard times in their life together, but they believed in commitment, loyalty, and marriage for life. I felt I failed them when I had to tell them about my adultering ex husband, but they loved me and supported me through the pain. My parents taught me that family comes first, and I will always love them for that. Aunt Joy and Uncle Matt will always be remembered for this as well.

    • My aunt lost her husband over a year ago, and we went through a similar journey. Her husband had the worst time taking care of her through the pandemic but only told two close friends and insisted he was doing OK. I had my suspicions, but he insisted nothing was wrong. Then he literally dropped dead because he had been neglecting a worsening health problem. We cobbled together care. I was out there for weeks at a time, but working remotely from her house wasn’t working well for me. She became harder and harder to handle despite medication, and then one day all the caregivers quit.

      So we did a two-week trial in a small dementia care home, and she’s still there. I truly believe that she’s far happier there than she was at home. She believes that she’s on a retreat. It’s a lovely place with lots of activities and good food. They know exactly how to look out for her. She’s pretty much forgotten all of her friends and family other than her husband, and she insists that he will pick her up “tomorrow.” They just go with that, and so do we.

  • Hey, I just wanted you all to know my aunt is reading your comments and deeply appreciates them. She said she’ll try and reply and post later. She reported that she’s going to some choral concerts soon and a Frieda Kahlo exhibit — art is a balm. Aunt Joy sings in a choir — so her walls sing and she does too. To anyone worried that she’s not taking care of herself, she does. Another way in which she’s admirable.

    • Your aunt is a living example that art is a balm. It’s all our privileges to reach out to someone whose poetically simple words about walls singing touched lives around the planet.

  • I hope for a quick and painless relief for Your uncle. Also, if there’s a go fund me for aunt Joy for a really nice trip or a cruise somewhere after all of this is over, I would throw money into that hat. (I took care of a mother with dementia for four years and it was brutal. I can’t imagine going for nine.) hugs to you and your family.

  • When my father’s Alzheimer’s disease had progressed to where I could no longer care for him at home and he needed to live in a care facility, the wife of the man in the next bed gave me the gift of sharing her story with me which helped to alleviate the guilt I was feeling. She told me that when her husband was at home, she was responsible for taking care of all his physical needs which had left her emotionally drained. After he entered the care facility where the wonderful staff took care of his physical needs, she was able to enjoy simply being with her husband. She visited with him for 3 hours every afternoon, looking at photograph albums, walking in the garden, listening to music, holding hands, and loving him. Like Joy, she showed up and that’s what truly mattered.

  • Hello from France,
    I would like to say that all the good memories that your aunt Joy and her husband shared all these years long are still here, even for him, deep inside. All the care she showed him was felt by him and still is, he knows how exceptional a woman she is. That’s humanity and may all the Dan savages and alikes go to hell (I do not care anymore for people who are complacent towards infidelity) because love and care are not transactional.
    I send her all my love from my little corner of France.

  • God has blessed you Aunt Joy with a big heart and great love. I am sorry you and Matt are going through a difficult end of life stage. My prayer for you is that from this sadness comes peace with the knowledge that you cared for your husband to the end with integrity. I am 71 and have a few friends going through the same thing. Only two of the 6 women (the men were the affected person) showed up as you are doing. It takes integrity and grit. Hugs to you! Take care of yourself during this time. Lean on your friends for solace and support. It is exhausting and you must recharge your batteries too so you don’t become ill. 😘

  • Big virtual hugs from Texas, Aunt Joy. You’re a wonderful example to me, and I appreciate you! You and Matt are in my prayers.

  • I remember reading about aunt Joy and feeling so much better. It’s a great reprieve when you’re feeling so isolated to hear about bad ass people who survive hard things. It’s courageous to look after a sick loved one. Love is a behaviour, as my therapist says, and what better way to show love than to care for someone who’s gravely ill. You got this aunt Joy ❤️

  • Aunt Joy,
    I am struck by the example you have set for us. I am struck by your mightiness in overcoming chumpdom, living a robust new life after heartache, and caring for your beloved Matt with steadfast dedication. I am struck by how you took action back in the day for chump lady – I sit in awe that one hand offered to family at the right time had this massive ripple effect and drew thousands of people out of deep, dark toxic lives full of misery. You helped start a movement, in my opinion. You, honored lady, have left a wonderful legacy.
    Best to you and yours in this difficult time,

  • Dear Aunt Joy
    Your beautiful phrase of making my walls sing has resonated loudly in my new happy curated life. My walls sing as loudly as a Hallelujah choir! True Love is about walking each other home, thank you for showing up and honouring your love for Matt. May you know we collectively have you in our hearts. Five years of reading CN daily and it supports my healing. I am deeply grateful for your shining example and for CL. Bless you both!

  • Thank you so much for inspiring Chumplady, this website has cleared my head so much, and I am so glad there are people like you.

  • Ms. Joy – I am so sorry that Matt is fading but I know that your marriage is filled with love. He doesn’t remember who you are now, but I do hope that your touch and smell is familiar, comforting and even a little soothing. I am so sorry you are going through this heartbreak. Please take care of yourself too, so you can receive kindness and love now and in the future.

  • Joy, your story was one of the first I read when I came across Chump Lady and Chump Nation in 2017 (or was it the end of 2016? Everything was so confusing for me back then because I was being badly gaslighted). I was 64 then, so quite a way over the hill. Your story gave me so much comfort and courage!

    Not that I ever expect a Matt in the new life I definitely have gained thanks to Tracey’s wisdom, but seeing that HOPE is something worthwhile while we keep up is an end itself, not a means.

    I am so sad you are going through this, but it is, I think, a good, serene kind of grief, one that I would give anything to have in my life.

  • Joy, your story inspired and gave me the strength to keep going many years ago. Back then my walls literally sang with my granddaughters lovely voice.

    She graduated from high school and now completing her bachelors and applying to graduate school. She chose to go into the same profession I chose.

    I know this is a difficult time for you as my mother had Alzheimer’s for 14 years. Sending love, hugs and prayers.

  • Fuckwit was a finish carpenter. For 35 years, my home had no interior trim (baseboards, door trim, window trim). Future faking, big talker about how it had to be done just so and how much work it would require of him, how only someone with his expertise and skill could do it, etc. and of course, it would have made me happy so he held it like a bit of bait just out of reach over my head. For decades!

    Last month, I began working with a young talented trim carpenter who is staining and finishing all the wood and has recently began installing it. Turns out it’s a pretty standard job. Ha!

    I love to just look at it in the sunlight and shadows. I love my pretty little house. He tried to rip it out from under me and nearly succeeded. But, I fought back and stayed focused (unless I was in temporary fetal position screaming). Now, the little edges of my home will finally be beautiful too. Sing!

    Thank you for helping chumplady find her way through the pit of darkness because she has passed the light forward to so many. I likely would not have survived if I hadn’t come across her story when I did. And I mean that very, very seriously.

    • What a liar he is, tallgrass. Trim carpentry is actually not that difficult. I’ve done it myself in the house I bought after dumping the cheater, and it looks good. I stained it, finished it, and installed it. All you need is a mitre saw and a finish nailer.
      FWs do seem to love using unfinished home improvements as one of the tools in their abuse arsenal.

  • Dear Aunt Joy,
    Thank you for your leadership through example. Your story on this blog has been so important to me, even long before I divorced, when I was just wondering if it was “bad enough” to leave (it WAS bad enough… it turned out, and got worse!) and realizing that my walls didn’t sing anymore was instrumental in me beginning to get out of a terrible relationship. I’m over one year officially divorced and literally hanging art on my new walls! That makes me sing and my walls sing. It takes getting used to, this new identity as a single person–I was together with my now-ex for over 22 years, 19 of them married. I married for life, but he didn’t. Or rather, he did, as long as I tolerated the intolerable. Worked around his untreated substance abuse disorder, his theft of marital funds, his moods, disruption, and meanness, his untreated, “don’t want to talk about it” sexual dysfunction, his purposeful job losses, and yes, his girlfriend. Just a regular cheater around here!
    I cannot really know exactly what you are going through, but I am sending you so much strength and gratitude and kindness and courage for the transitions ahead. THANK YOU.

  • You are a true inspiration. I am no where near Tues. Yet. One day at a time. Having worked in the long term care facilities , I have seen how hard it is on families. “Sorrow shared is halved. Joy shared is doubled”. Spider Robinson.

  • Hugs and love to Joy and Matt. This is beautiful. This is what respectful people do. People that respect the people they committed their love to. That’s it, right there. Aunt Joy, you are demonstrating pure love. Dan Savage promotes eventual abandonment for the sake of immediate genital gratification. People like that don’t deserve the beauty of Joy and Matt’s example of pure love. I’m so glad people like you exist.

  • I watched how the XAss’s father treat his father and mother when their health started to fail. I watched how XAss treated his own father. No compassion. It was all obligation, and grudgingly given too. I’d rather be in the hands of kind strangers than have XAss in control of my end-of-life options and comfort.

  • Hi aunt Joy. My walls don’t sing yet, but I felt compelled to reach out and tell you that your beautiful story, and the strength of this amazing community of fellow chumps has convinced me that beyond a doubt, one day they will sing again. Thank you for being badass enough to pick yourself back up after the chumping, for gaining a life, and for sharing the story with us. You’re an inspiration.

    Wishing you and Matt peace and strength for whatever this next leg of the journey brings. I’ll have you in my thoughts. <3

  • Dear Joy,

    I am so, so sorry about Matt. Dementia is THE WORST. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

    I have to tell you that “The Walls in Your House Will Sing” was one of the first posts I ever read on this site.

    I’d just escaped a cult and was as broken and depressed as you can imagine. I got a job waiting tables because that’s all I could manage and slowly set about rebuilding my life from a hole in the ground. Your story gave me hope that there’d be better days, as long as I kept trudging ahead.

    It’s been a decade now. I’ve got a good corporate career, a net worth, and a lot of people in my life who love me the way I deserve. The walls in my house do indeed sing again these days. Thank you for your inspiring words when I needed them most.


  • Joy, I was a care provider for both my parents within the last eight years, until the end came. Please don’t feel guilty because you had no choice but to put him in a care home. My dad was in a care home for four years. I went there every day to feed him and make sure he was getting the right care. When the staff see you are there often enough to check up on the care he is getting, they are more inclined to do their jobs properly. The unfortunate truth is that without an advocate, a care home can be hell for the patient. But Matt has you, and whether he remembers you or not, you are providing greater quality of life.

    I was cheated on while my dad was sick and dying, which may explain why I didn’t realize what was going on. I just knew my husband had become mean. He even cheated the day my dad died rather than come home to comfort me. He cheated while his own dad lay dying, too. He never did much for his dad during his time in care. If I hadn’t been so worn out by caregiving (including for my physically disabled daughter as well) that would have been a red flag to me. By the time my mom got sick four years after dad died, the cheater and I were through. I was in full PTSD and extremely frail both physically and emotionally , but I showed up for her. That’s just what you do if you care. I slogged on through all that and now I’m enjoying the peace of an agent of chaos like the cheater not being around. I know I did all I could, both for my parents and in my marriage.

    This is by way of telling you that I know that what you’re going through is one of the hardest things in the world. But ultimately you will know that you did everything in your power, and it will help comfort you to know that his final years were made more bearable because of you. This is not just some cliché. It really does help, in my experience. I also know that while grief never really ends, it eases, little by little, and eventually you can begin to see the world in color again.
    Bless you Joy, for your dedication and your unending love for Matt. ❤

  • I don’t know if this counts but my father once told me that he never wanted kids. BUT…..he was happy to have us once we were here and he and I were thick as thieves right up until he passed. He told me the happiest times of his life were the times he hung out with me while I was growing up.

    He also told me that he was so miserable with my mom when we were little that he contemplated just taking off but thought about his own father who had done just that and decided it was unfair to his kids.

    When he had lung cancer he told me that he didn’t know how anyone dealt with it alone/without family. I told him this was one of his rewards for not taking off…..he had family around. I picked up the phone when he’d call all hours of the night (I lived on the opposite coast) to talk to him whenever he wanted. I helped him handle finances and was with him when he passed… fact I’m the one who gave him permission to go. It was time and only suffering was left.

    That was what he got for not being a piece of shit and raising his kids. He and my mom did divorce and I completely understood why he was miserable…my mom had a lot of issues, but he raised his kids.

    On a side note he hated my cheater ex from the beginning….thought he was a phony piece of shit. I should have listened to him.

  • dear aunt joy,

    you have loved, and continue to love, your husband, and now he is safe. you can rest easy and still love him from a physical distance, right? and when you visit, he KNOWS that you love him. now is the time for you to rest your self, you’ve been through a lot. i have nothing but respect for the love and attention that you’ve showed your husband, and continue to show him now, as he lives safe in a care home.


  • Joy, your story was so inspiring, and memorable from the first time I read it. I’m sending prayers and strength to you in my thoughts & I have to trust that you will be uplifted by knowing that your life (the parts we have been privileged to know), your bad ass help when CL needed it, all your work over the years for your daughters and husband, and the continued strength you show in face of difficulties, have meant a lot to us.

    We all know what it means to say “your walls sing!” Thank you!

    My walks sing most of the time. I was able to move out & away from my husband after 35 years of marriage & the divorce was finalized 1 year later, which was only 1 year ago. I am 62 and I live with my 28 year old son who has high functioning autism and other neurological issues that prevent him from being totally independent. He can do a lot day to day but he never will be able to manage his medical care or his finances. I’m navigating the system in my state to plan for care when I no longer can do that… hopefully more than 10 years away yet. Some days I worry if I can do it alone and other days are wonderful. I sometimes come home from work to find him singing and cooking dinner. I never heard him sing before when we lived with XH!

  • Joy, your story was so inspiring, and memorable from the first time I read it. I’m sending prayers and strength to you in my thoughts & trust that you will be uplifted by knowing that your life (the parts we have been privileged to know), your bad ass help when CL needed it, , all your work over the years for your daughters and husband, and the continued strength you show in face of difficulties, have meant a lot to us.
    We all know what it means to say “your walls sing!” Thank you!
    My walks sing most of the time. I was able to move out & away from my husband after 35 years of marriage & the divorce was finalized 1 year later, which was only 1 year ago. I am 62 and I live with my 28 year old son who has high functioning autism and other neurological issues that prevent him from being totally independent. He can do a lot day to day but he never will be able to manage his medical care or his finances. I’m navigating the system in my state to plan for care when I no longer can do that… hopefully more than 10 years away yet. Some days I worry if I can do it alone and other days are wonderful. I sometimes come home from work to find him singing and cooking dinner. I never heard him sing before when we lived with XH!

  • Aunt Joy, sending you peace and love. How wonderful that you and Matt have each other. I am so sorry for what you are facing but I am rejoicing at the love you shared all these years.

  • My heart breaks for your Aunt Joy. Reading her whole story of her does inspire me, and she should know that we need more Aunt Joys and Uncle Matts in our lives, people who are honest, caring, and committed to each other, through good times and bad. I’m sending healing thoughts and best wishes for her continued strength through these hard times.

  • Aunt Joy, God must have slipped a tiny “ name this baby Joy” scroll into your mother’s hand as she was trying to decide what to name you!
    I’m very glad your post was reposted today, as I somehow missed it the first time round.
    Your “ singing walls” are joyous music to us soul crushed chumps out here!!
    You slayed off dragons and demons to get to your happy place with Matt, as did he.
    It feels mighty unjust to get robbed of your sharing years left together to dementia. I’m sorry that happened to you both.
    ‘Life is unfair’ is synonymous with ‘life will end.’ Both are equally true.
    What a legacy you both have created as a team! Your kids now get to pass it on to theirs, that a solid loving family can exist.
    That is the happy ending to your love story.
    We can’t control the illnesses, hardships or fools that come uninvited into our lives, but we do get to decide how to show up for one another.
    And you and Matt showed up!!! That will always hold value to those who know what to value.
    I will keep you in my prayers for the strength you need to get through your current challenge. I hope you are getting some breaks now and again to fill your tank. I know it’s a hard hard road you are walking.
    Your beautiful love story, thriving after abuse is such a bright beacon of light in the darkest of days to chumps out here searching for any glimmer of light whatsoever we can point to.
    You and Tracy are def cut from the same cloth, givers extraordinaire!
    You are helping so many people heal and know they can get through this.
    Thanks for sharing your story with us.
    God bless and peace to you.

  • Aunt Joy — you epitomize unconditional, selfless love ….. try to be good to yourself in any way you can….you deserve it….. and much more

  • Dearest Aunt Joy,

    Thank you for teaching Tracy and through her, all the rest of us, to make the walls sing. Your love story will live forever in the annals of chump history.

    My beloved Dad died of complications of early onset dementia almost 14 years ago. I watched my Mom go through the nightmarish hell of losing her love piece by piece until there was nothing left of the man he was with and for her, just like you are experiencing now. It’s hard. The hardest thing. And yet, I know with complete certainty, that Matt’s love for you and yours for him will survive this torment. Someday, somewhere, on some plane of existence, your walls will sing again.

    I wish both of you peace.


  • Aunt Joy is so aptly named. I hope that when her walls continue to sing, she can still hear her husband Matt’s voice as he had always been in health.

    Because the concept of life everlasting isn’t usually framed scientifically, the following will be long, winding explanation of why I’ve started to feel like the people I love who have passed are never really gone. I promise that there’s a point in there somewhere. Because I can’t swear that my view of things solves any mysteries of life, I can’t insist but only hope that it brings comfort to anyone facing loss of a loved one.

    I once read a supposed quote from Einstein about how physicists never grieve the passing of their colleagues because, according to the spacetime continuum, they live forever in parallel universes. Then back in the early aughts I was listening to NPR and heard a discussion of a theory from Nobel winning physicist Roger Penrose and his theory partner Stuart Hameroff about the “quantum brain” and prescience. The concept relates to Einstein’s multiverse again and describes how microtubules in the brain may have quantum functions, in a sense acting as wormholes through which the past and future may “leak” from parallel dimensions and give rise to feelings like deja vu or glimpses of the future.

    Someone must have advised Penrose and Hameroff to shut up about their crazy soothsayer theory because it’s hard to dig up any information on it but they may just have gone underground. A few years ago both came out with evidence that microtubules in the human brain demonstrate “quantum vibrations” that may partly explain consciousness. I suspect that, out of sight of rigid so-called rationalists, they’re both winking at how this lends to concepts of quantum intuition, prescience and deja vu. Though I never heard any discussion of so-called “telepathic” communication related to Penrose’s and Hameroff’s “molecular foam” concept, it’s not a much of a leap to see how that folds in. If the one exists, the other might too.

    I remember how delighted my late mother was when I told her about the theory. She mentioned the Australian Aboriginal concept of time– that the past, present and future are all happening simultaneously– and mused about whether Aboriginal water divining could be fully explained by pet dingos and detecting patterns of birds and if being closer to nature is better for keeping “quantum intuition” intact.

    “If” being the operative word. Whatever the case, I think the quantum brain concept has sunk in over the years because my feelings towards death have shifted in ways I never thought possible. Despite being terrified of death for most of my life and anticipating that losing my mother would tear the ground out from under me, that’s not what happened. When she died, I realized I had an indefinable sense that death isn’t final. The thing that reassured me of this are personal experiences with… let’s call it “quantum communication” with my mother.

    When my mother had one last stroke before she died several years ago, I was lying half asleep five thousand miles away and shot bolt upright when I heard my mother’s voice sighing as if she was five feet away. I thought it might be a scrap of a dream but heard her voice again as clearly as if she was in the room with me. I knew I had to drop everything and get a flight to see my mother. At the time it was difficult because I was traveling to get specialized medical care for my middle child but I managed to arrange it. It was the most beautiful meeting. My mother died a short time later.

    I don’t believe the armchair theories that say that “sundowning” irritability and anger in dementia necessarily reflect the way someone lived their life. I think my mother’s dementia wasn’t the torturous type so she remained her glowing Glenda-the-Goodwitch self to the end. When she passed away, I was shocked at how calm I was because I’d been overwrought a decade earlier in anticipation of my father’s death after his long illness. But then I realized that my terror had to do with the fact that my father had suffered for a long time. My mother hadn’t. Eventually, I felt the same calm towards my father’s passing too. Like his close college friend put it in a sympathy letter, “He lives!” But I think that, when it comes to my mother, the depth of our connection in life especially affected how I reacted to her death. It was like she hadn’t gone anywhere.

    “Quantum communication” with my mother had always gone both ways. Some scientists have thrown out the idea that the fact that bits of fetal DNA lodge in mothers’ brains forever could explain the maternal-child bond. Maybe that plays a part in a private quantum “phone line.” Over the years, there had been times my mother had phoned me out of the blue and somewhat breathless (unusual because she was rarely alarmist) in moments when I was experiencing genuine crisis. Even when she began developing vascular dementia I got one of those breathless phone messages on the very day FW started an affair. She said she just had a feeling something was up. It would be more than a year before I figured out what that something was.

    I wasn’t raised religious or even spiritual and I’ve never had a mental breakdown where I saw and heard things that weren’t there. I’m one of those people who’s impossible to hypnotize, I’ve never “lost time,” I don’t sleepwalk. Neither my mother nor I were prone to believe in crystal healing or psychic networks. I know this about myself but even people who believe in angels and higher powers have looked at me cross-eyed when I’ve tried to explain certain experiences, like I’m nuts or making things up to sound “special.” But if the goal was to sound special, why wouldn’t I find another, more recognizable expression of this– like tarot cards or crystal balls– that would be more likely to provide kibbles and fan support?

    My experience is what it is and, even if no one can confirm what it is, I’m past being convinced that it isn’t. Penrose and Hameroff weren’t theorizing about a special faculty available only to the few but something everyone has whether they access or heed it or not. I think the concept could even be stretched to explain gaslighting. If you think about it, gaslighting– whether political or interpersonal– may fundamentally be about diverting and distracting “quantum intuition.” Ask a gaslighter why and how they do it and they probably couldn’t explain because it could partly be a kind of unconscious quantum warfare– sending out bullshit-static to block other people’s spacetime signals. Oil, mining and chemical companies that cross-invest with media giants which blare bullshit-static from every screen 24/7 certainly don’t want regular Joes “Green Mile-ing” the consciousness of, say, indigenous land activists and finding themselves inexplicably signing eco petitions and wandering into protests against BP or Rio Tinto. Political crooks don’t want people sniffing out their intangible corruption. Domestic abusers don’t want victims divining abusers’ secret antics and getting prescient forecasts of how things really turn out. Maybe recovering survivors of every stripe– including chumps– who, in trying to overcome traumatic events, learn to listen past the noise and static in general. As survivors deconstruct and gain immunity against gaslighting, they may also find themselves re-accessing “quantum intuition” in the process.

    If anything is “special’ about the ability to access this theoretical intuition, it might be facilitated by the capacity for love if only because those who love are less likely to gaslight themselves or others and drown out those signals with static. And it could explain why accessing intuition like this seems mostly calming even if it’s also sometimes attuned to suffering. People who err on the side of love may be naturally more likely to focus on reassuring signals that make the unsettling ones more bearable. And maybe that sense of communal consciousness and connection with the world– even in spite of the suffering that it attunes us to– is so reassuring that life has actual meaning that the light overcomes the dark. In any event, whatever parallel universes my mother may still occupy, I think in some of them she’s still her Aboriginal self and the “quantum cord” between us has never been cut. I can still sense her and it brings me peace.

    • Something I forgot to point out is that just because I wasn’t raised with religion doesn’t mean that faith– like art– isn’t a route to tap into the same intuitive parts of our minds which I frankly think are often more brilliant than our rational conscious brains. If anything, Penrose’s theory gives me new respect for the faculty of faith even if I have doubts about institutional or cultish belief systems (even organized “rationalism” which tends to shun the concept of intuition). After all, string theory came from a dream and the theory of relativity came during a dozing vision. By the same token, profound truths could be revealed during prayer or meditation.

  • Dear Joy,

    Thinking about you and sending you so much love and support as you as facing these new challenges. Your story inspired me when Tracy first wrote about your walls singing a number of years ago. I held in and kept moving forward in the hopes that one day, I too, would experience happier times.

    I think I can speak on behalf of the Great Chump Nation to say thank you for leading the way for us. We are with you now in your time of need.

  • Loads of love and strength to Joy and Matt, and the people surrounding them. ❤️

    And as for singing walls – since 8 years I’m married to a fellow chump, he’s truly my person and has been there for me through thick and thin. And one of the things that makes me love him even more is how he shows up for his 87-year old mother who has Alzheimer and his 86-year old father, who is bravely settling in for a new life without his wife of over 60 years, since she moved to a care facility last year. Husband asked me if we could stay with his dad for a couple of weeks so he could cook for him, take walks and talk with him, simply be there through the first rough days so he wouldn’t be alone. I of course said yes, and I put up new wallpaper into his mom’s room at the care facility before she moved in, one that resembles the wallpaper in her and her husband’s bedroom, to maybe help her feel at home. Those were tough days, but still days full of love. And I know for a fact that the horrid life I led with the FW is completely gone. I have a man by my side with a big, caring heart and my walls sing now.

  • Thank you Joy for being you, back in the day for Tracy and over the years for Matt. I applaud you, I know it’s difficult. Please be good to yourself too.

  • If I were unable to have sex and were able to consent… I think I would consent to my partner having sex with others if they so wished. I think. Consent… maybe. Comment isn’t really relevant to anything, just this got me thinking. Because I would otherwise say “no way not for me you wanna get divorced” — I know I couldn’t abide the idea of open relationships (not against them in theory at all). But maybe in that case, maybe I would be open to it. I’m just thinking randomly out loud. It isn’t really relevant here except that it made me think of something I hadn’t considered before.

    Especially because once dementia takes hold… I think it would be a consent issue to have sex with your partner. Someone with dementia may not be able to consent (perhaps could some times and not others). Then it would be too late to get consent to that extramarital relationship, or to intramarital. Very sticky spot.

    • LD, perhaps you’re young, but sex isn’t the huge lifelong thing it might appear to be from ones earlier years. You might like to listen to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Crazy to love you’. ‘I’m tired of choosing desire; I’ve been saved by a blessed fatigue; the gates of commitment unwired, and nobody trying to leave…’

  • ChumpLady, thank you for bringing attention to the devastating disease that is dementia. It’s affecting my old family, and I wish I could punch and kick the s*** out of it as it takes away pieces of loved ones.

    Aunt Joy,
    You are an amazing person, and a true asset to humanity. My therapist tells me that even when our loved ones’ memories are taken away from them, the impact of those memories is still within them, and still influences who they are now. Your husband knows you’re there and you love him- he had decades and decades of these facts soak into his body and his habits and his muscles and his soul and surely feels it still, even if the details are fuzzy or gone. Thank you, from all of us who face this or may face this- from either side, for being there at the end of this part of his path, when it was the end you never imagined or wanted or deserved. You are not alone and I hope this gives you a bit of support when life beats you down. Goddess bless

  • I’m sorry I’m late!
    Aunt Joy, – we are all thinking of you, you are the true epitome of Love. I wish CL would post a picture of your wedding day.
    I would love to see you, and your handsome beau, and you kept your vows to each other.
    Just beautiful.
    My walls sing, every other day, but I’m getting there. Love to you. TMT

  • I have a serious case of Wonderful Relative envy. Aunt Joy, Matt, and Tracy, all in THE SAME FAMILY?

    I am feeling totally ripped off and deprived.

    Inspiring stories like yours, Aunt Joy, broadcast by Tracy via the lifesaving Chump Lady blog, are helping my daughter and I, refugee apples from our family tree, run away in hopes of establishing new family tree with traditions of integrity, loyalty, trust, safety, and honor.

    People need support when they are changing or recovering from traumatic experiences, and I literally have never had any family or relatives to help me in my times of need. I am deeply grateful to hear about people whose experience, strength and hope can fill in the holes where the love and care of family would ideally be.

    I hope you find the encouragement here that your story has given so many of us as you and Matt navigate this challenging chapter of your life together.


    • VH… I think I live just up the road from you.
      Not metaphorically, but literally.
      Based on your posts, I think I’m about 25 minutes North.
      If you would like a “branch of the family tree,”. meaning the Chump Nation branch, please PM me and we can certainly commiserate, relate, contemplate, rejuvenate, etc…
      Because we really all are a family here. Let me know.
      TMT ♥️

  • As a Chump, we know what it’s like to give and not get. But the value of giving remains. You love deeply and you give deeply and you have your whole life. That’s inspiring.

  • I’m caring for my mom who has Alzheimer’s…and a bunch of other dementias. Having her in a home has been really, really difficult, for reasons I never anticipated, and it adds to the complexity of all the emotions the come with a Long Goodbye. I cannot imagine, then, how much more difficult it is when one is losing a life partner. If there’s anything in my own experience that then allows me to imagine what Aunt Joy may be feeling, she has to be bearing a heavy burden, indeed. Sending love through the interwebs, Aunt Joy. May you find what you need IRL to be buoyed through this journey.

  • I have an adult daughter with memory issues and during the pandemic it took a turn for the worse. With anger increasing as she couldn’t remember from day to day that there was a pandemic. Her paranoia increased. She kicked my glass sliding door and shattered it during the lockdown. We had always fought institutionalization but the sad facts were it was now unsafe — not only for her, but for me. She is now in Assisted Living. Yes … I can’t really think about it without a lot of sadness.

  • Joy thank you for being there for Tracy years ago. Your kind gestures of support for her started her down a path that has helped thousands of chumps and touched so many lives. Know that CN is sending you love and healing energy.

  • Aunt Joy,
    I prayed for you and Uncle Matt in church today. I prayed for peace and acceptance. I also thanked God for you and people like you. I see you as the catalyst that that put Chumplady blog and CN into existence. Your actions have been payed forward to help so many of us.
    The homily was to be given today by Deacon John. Deacon John, God love him, never has much to offer in terms of a sermon. They tend to have as much spiritual nutrition as a rice cake. I read “The Walls In your house will sing” instead. It is a beautiful story and made me weep.
    After mass a man I peripherally knew, came up to me and told me he needed to talk. I figured it was a medical issue. Unfortunately it was not. His wife is having an affair. I will be meeting him later, but in the meantime, I forwarded him your story to help ease some of his pain. Perhaps this is divine intervention.
    Sending peace and love and prayers to you and Uncle Matt

  • Oh man, we lost my dad from
    Alzheimer’s. I described it as “losing him by degrees.” Way to go Aunt Joy for showing up! There is no greater love!

  • Late to the game, but I just wanted to pass on my well wishes and admiration for Joy. May we all be able to access the courage, strength, stamina and integrity that she demonstrates daily in the face of life’s greatest challenges.

    My walls sing when I am with my 1-year-old niece and 4-year old nephew. Last weekend, my niece took her first step — to me! — and my nephew left the sweetest note (dictated to his mom, my sister) on my pillow: “I LOVE YOU you little carrot. I’m so excited that you’re here for a sleepover.” I am deeply grateful to be part of their lives and would do anything for these little peanuts. In their presences, I feel joy, connection, contentment and love — all of which have otherwise remained elusive in these past few years of the pandemic and GAL, even when I’m in the places/with the people/doing the things that used to make me happiest.

  • Dear Aunt Joy, Both the hardest thing I’ve every done and the most transformative was to care for my very difficult, angry and abusive mother when she went into decline and was later diagnosed with dementia. Early in that process, I used to drive 75 miles to take her to lunch on Fridays. We’d have fish and mac&cheese at the local restaurant, where we’d listen to Patsy Cline and she would talk about people I didn’t know. Then I’d drive her to the store to get most of what she needed for a week. I cherish those Fridays so much. It was very hard to be the “bad guy” who insisted she go to a memory care facility and hard to listen to her talk about her “mean daughter” who she no longer recognized. As hard as that was, it must be so much more difficult to deal with a beloved husband in that state of decline.

    Thanks for teaching us all that we have the power to “make our walls sing.” You can do that again, because you are a mighty woman who knows how to live and love.

  • Dear Auntie Joy,
    Your story gave me hope at a time when I had none. I love to sing and also dance; could do neither for a couple of years when the shit hit the fan & he walked out. It’s been over 5 yrs since FW left. We are divorced, too, which I never believed would happen. I had no hope…no love… no purpose… no future. Yet my walls sing again!!! And so do I & the 5 women whose photos are in my kitchen wall. And Tracy, I dance again, too!!…. In the kitchen w/ a man who loves me as we trade off choosing songs on YouTube on my phone.
    But mostly, Auntie Joy, please remember that the greatest honor your can give a person is to love & care for them. In caring for Uncle Matt, you must care for yourself, first, which may initially seem quite selfish. It is not selfish. You are in this for the long haul and must keep your strength & wits about you. I, too, had to put a loved one in a care home. The guilt was crushing at times. When my own mama no longer recognized me, I thought the tears would never stop. But I kept going back, insisting that her meds were ordered timely & given timely, making sure she was wearing matching outfits, singing with her, making sure her nails were trimmed & polished and her hair cut, washed, and set. I brought her clothes home every week to wash; bought her first black bra for her while in AL (you never know, right? — she was widowed). We went out as much as we could….to MD visits, lunch with aprons to catch the falling food, wheelchair jog through the mail, stopping at the make-up counter for a quick dusting by the make-up artists, and fresh flowers every time I visited. When I couldn’t transfer her myself, the care home guy would lift her into the car & we’d drive to Sonic for a chocolate malt…. A chocolate coffee shake we made at home was her last meal. To be sure, there were times mama was angry & wouldn’t budge, but those memories are far out-numbered by what we COULD do for as long as we did …..pretty much right up to the end. And to be sure, there were those little glimmers of recognition & cognition here and there, which kept me going ….a bit like being a Chump, but in a totally different way. This is where your chump training will actually help you ….live for those rare moments, Joy. And yes, as I write this, I know that your walls will sing again, and the melodies will be so much more beautiful because you will know you did your very best in some of the worst of times for somebody who truly loved and cherished you.
    Sending love —

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