2018: a year of transition

Whether your end-of-year celebrations have centred around the Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other theme, I hope your heart has been filled with love and a generosity of spirit, as I believe our greatest happiness can be best achieved through the sharing of our time, feelings, and resources with others.

You would almost never know these two photos were of the same man. The upper photo shows Reg in his element–laughing and enjoying time with other people. The lower photo was Christmas 2017, just a few months before he moved to the personal care home when brightness of spirit was already being replaced with disillusionment.

Having said that, I will not be sad to see 2018 come to an end. It has been a terrible year for worldwide natural disasters and political unrest. And on the personal front, I would say it has been the most difficult year of my life as my husband’s vascular dementia continues to progress, aging him at cyclonic speed and overtaking him with fits of aggression (symptomatic to his condition) that necessitated his move to a personal care home. The person I married in 1995 is alive. But the man with whom I shared so much joy is gone. So for us, 2018 has truly been a most challenging year of transition.

Feliciano Pop is the farm manager for Peini Cacao Plantation Limited in Belize who taught me much about how the world of Belizean chocolate and cacao is changing and how 2018 has been a year of transition for him and his community.

On the professional front, I have enjoyed several great research trips for Chocolatour to Arizona, California, Cuba, and Belize, with quicker trips to Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, and Ottawa. Travel is what fuels my soul and spirit. Travel inspires me and helps me grow. It gives me greater understanding of humanity and of myself. It makes me more compassionate and increases my desire to understand and help others.


My trip to Eastern Cuba was for the purpose of meeting local cocoa farmers and understanding their challenges. Zoila lives a difficult life by North American standards. But she finds happiness in the simple things–like her beautiful garden.

What most inspires you? How has 2018 treated you? What I love most about this blog is the community we have created. The people who read my posts every week and take the time to share their thoughts. The people who give me inspiration to continue my work as a chocolate adventurist, as an avid volunteer, and as a caring spouse who hopes for peace and happiness in the world at large, and in the more limited world we call home.  

I wish you the very best for 2019, and thank you for caring. 

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

51 Responses

  1. Hi Dooren,

    Sure, a difficult year for you. My father is going through the same thing.

    Hope things are picking up in 2019.

    Cuba, wow. That is somewhere I would love to visit.

    I felt you should know that your CommentLuv system appears not to be working correctly, and have listed the error(s) below:

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    Cheers Sharon…

    • Hello Sharon and thanks for your comment and good wishes.

      Re CommentLuv, the family of the creator of the plug-in have updated and released a new version of the free plugin. They are currently rewriting the pro version (which is what I had been running.) It’s taking them longer than expected, so my webmaster will revert us back to the free version for now, which should solve the error problem you mentioned.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…soaring Las Vegas pricesMy Profile

  2. 2018 has been a difficult year and I can feel your sadness. But yes it is best to move on as this is how life is. We too had a hectic year travelling but the year was tinged with sadness as one of our dear ones left us.

  3. Jacqueline Schnider says:

    Doreen- thank you so much for sharing. Your words encouraged me as I deal with my Mom’s dementia to remember that this is a journey that many of us are on.

    • You are so welcome, Jacqueline, and welcome to Chocolatour! Having been the caregiver for my father (who had Alzheimer’s) and my aunt (who had dementia) really helped prepare me in caring for my husband with vascular dementia. But regardless of whatever prior experiences we’ve had, it never equates to the gamut of emotions we feel when the loved one we’re caring for is our spouse. All the best to you in caring for your mother.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…best Manitoba winter festivalsMy Profile

  4. Welcome and Thanks for your sharing journey with us I hope 2019 will be good for you.I will be keep in touch with you.

  5. Amrita says:

    Happy New Year Doreen. The previous year had been tough for you, but I hope and pray that 2019 treats you better. I also pray that your husband gets better. I so love to read about your chocolate tours. Keep up the wonderful work and hope for the best. Much love.

    • Hi Amrita and thank you for your heartfelt comment. Unfortunately, my husband will not get better as his dementia can only progress. But I am extremely grateful that the aggression and angry that previously took over his days is subsiding and he is now more accepting of his condition. All the best to you and yours for 2019.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…sweet memories of OttawaMy Profile

  6. Happy New Year Doreen! I am just catching up on blog reading and wanted to tell you what a warm, wonderful post this is. I am so sorry that your soulmate is disappearing as result of his condition. I have a few IRL friends who are dealing with similar situations and it is heart-breaking for them as well as those of us who are watching them go through the process. A big hug to you from across the miles. Keep on traveling, eating chocolate and tempting us all with your finds in 2019. Best of luck to you and know that you have a world of friends out here sending good wishes!!

  7. Jenn Miller says:

    Hi Doreen,
    2018 has been a year of beautiful transition for our sweet little family. Much like yourself, we did find a love for traveling as a family. Our trips were much more local but all the same, they were magical. We journied to Disneyland and the West Coast. Both trips left us feeling more alive and so blessed. We also purchased our first home together and took a huge leap of faith to start making our dreams come true. For us, 2019 will be a year to settle in and enjoy the hard work that brought us to where we are now. We want to enjoy the girls youth and just live life as it comes.

    I hope youโ€™re 2019 is not as rough on your soul as 2018. I see daily how hard dementia is on the one who is suffering and on the spouse who has lost the one they love somewhere inside the depths of dementia. Reg is lucky to have you and we all know how much you love him! Cheers to a brighter 2019!
    Iโ€™m so happy we were able to reconnect in 2018 and share some delicious chocolate! We rang in the New Year with your gift of hot chocolate from Cuba. Yum

  8. Doreen, I hope 2019 has fewer challenges and more good things on the horizon for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Ceci says:

    2018 was, as you said, a difficult year around the globe. I am so sorry to hear that Reg’s decline is accelerating. I hope that 2019 will be a much better year for everyone!

  10. Thank you for sharing your challenges with us. It has been a difficult journey for you – hoping that 2019 looks a little brighter…

  11. Hi Doreen,
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re having to deal with the decline of your husband. I witnessed similar with my parents-in-law when my mother-in-law slowly disappeared through Alzheimer’s. It’s a process of grieving that begins when the person is alive, and that’s just heartbreaking. My father-in-law didn’t put her in a home for far too long and it ended up damaging his own health. For that reason I’m glad you continued to travel and just generally allowed yourself some self-care. If your husband is/was the good person I assume he is/was, he wants you to take care of yourself! I wish you strength and success–personal and professional–in 2019.

    • Thanks so much for this very kind comment, Rachel. My father had Alzheimer’s and my godmother had dementia so I’ve had quite a bit of experience caregiving. But nothing is like doing it for your spouse and witnessing their daily decline. I am SO grateful for the excellent public healthcare system that we have access to here in Canada. All the best to you in 2019.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…2018: a year of transitionMy Profile

  12. Thanks for sharing your personal story. I had hints of problems but never knew the extent as I followed your blog. I was reading more of the professional front. You are such a strong woman.

  13. Ah, yes to the challenges of 2018–it’s been keeping in line with many other years in some ways and easier in others. But I think that maybe my attitude keeps getting more relaxed about the things out of my control. Pray and move forward, right? Here’s to a 2019 full of blessings for you and Reg.

    • Indeed, RoseMary. there’s so send fretting about the things we cannot change. We learn from them, but it is pointless to let them make us sad. Wishing you and Alex all the best for 2019.

  14. I follow your chocolate travel adventures but was unaware of your personal challenges. Sorry to hear about that. Hope 2019 is better on all fronts.

  15. Bruce Bishop says:

    Hi Doreen – I didn’t know your husband was having healthcare issues that have necessitated his move to a home. I know all too well (with my late Father) how difficult it can be taking care of someone who has been afflicted with dementia. I hope 2019 brings peace for you both, and that your professional writing career continues to thrive.

  16. Doreen, This has truly been a year of change. From the way youโ€™ve been coping I am reminded of the saying
    โ€œWhat doesnโ€™t kill us, makes us stronger.โ€
    You are a woman of strength, courage and ability and are handling your situation very well. Reg would be proud.
    Wishing you both all the best in 2019.

  17. Dear Doreen,
    We were fortunate this year to get to know you personally, enjoying your lovely company as you stayed with us here in Baracoa. We are thankful to life that you came to our region โ€“ and that you wrote about its wonderful cacao and people. We’re sending you and Reg lots of love from the easternmost tip of Cuba. With you, we hope (and we’ll do our part) for a better 2019 for the world!
    Manuel, Gladys & Roberto

  18. Doreen, I didn’t know about your personal challenges regarding your husband’s health. It must be very difficult. I’m glad that you have the love of travel to feed your spirit in difficult times. Wishing you all the best in 2019.

  19. Susan says:

    Wishing you all the best for the coming year.See you in the Spring!

  20. Linda Strange says:

    “for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others…” Your dedication to these promises has been and is, admirable.
    The brief reprieves and joy of your travel experiences, of your writing, and of your attentive friends are richly deserved; and I wish you another year of patience, health and good will. Big hugs to you.

  21. Linda Paul says:

    Oh dear, Doreen, I knew your husband had health issues, but for some reason, I was completely unaware of what those issues were and how they have taken hold of his life…and virtually yours, as well. There are few illnesses that are more debilitating shapeshifters than dementia. I’m glad you can find relief through travel. Perhaps, your travel will be better and more frequent now, knowing that Reg is in good hands while you are away. Best to you in 2019.

    • Thx so much, Linda. Yes, the trips I have been fortunate to take via sponsorships have been integral to my mental and physical health and I am truly grateful for them. For the winter, though, I do intend to lock myself and get volume II of Chocolatour done–unless some magnificent offer manifests itself and I am whisked off to an unexpected reprise. All the best for 2019, and thanks for being one of my steadfast cheerleaders. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…2018: a year of transitionMy Profile

  22. Sheryl says:

    While often challenging to us emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually or any combination of these, I agree transitions do provide opportunities to grow. It helps those of us going through transitions when we share our stories. Sharing our journeys through challenging times are also opportunities to let others know they arenโ€™t alone, to inspire hope and sometimes, to teach. Your personal and professional journeys and the subsequent stories do both. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Doreen,

    We have watched, from afar, as your year has unfolded. We grieved with you the illness that has be-struck your soulmate. We relished in your adventures to parts of the globe that we have never seen in person. We are praying that 2019 is a good year for you. Thanks for sharing your life journey.

  24. Beverly says:

    I wish you lots of love and peace throughout 2019 and always. I am always very impressed with your devotion to Reg.

  25. Doreen — I know this has been a very difficult year for you and I wish you peace, much happiness and success in 2019. I look forward to your posts in the New Year.

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