Since January, 2003
 Sliding from Before to After

When I put out word of my "semi-retirement" since last August, I listed a lot of reasons for my wanting/needing to pull back from the blogging grind, but I only cryptically referred to what was the biggest driver of my decision: my mother's illness.
In early 2012, after a few months of noticing her having problems remembering words, she was diagnosed with a form of dementia (FTD) that has left her memory intact but very quickly stole her speech completely and caused other cognitive issues. This was devastating enough, but within a few months we also found her to be suffering from a form of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) that targeted her throat and mouth muscles, swiftly affecting her ability to chew and swallow food.
This has been such a body blow, not only to see this woman so full of life and energy be stolen away from us week by week, but to have known from the moment of diagnosis that there was absolutely not a thing we could do about it. It's like the entire family has been riding in a car with no hands on the steering wheel.
Because it's a rare combination, and because every patient with these diseases progresses differently, we've been very much on our own in terms of trying to care for her, with my father bearing the brunt of the exhausting day-to-day work while I turned my laser-like research abilities away from hyperlocal real estate and toward trying to come up with the best strategies for keeping Mom comfortable. All while nursing a desperately broken heart, alongside the shock that everyone who knows her has felt--this was not the anticipated ending of the story of this cowgirl from Wyoming who came to the big city at age 19 in 1959. (She was supposed to drop dead on a golf course at age 95, probably after a hole-in-one. And she was certainly supposed to outlive her cranky and lazy daughter.)
We are now seeing a crossroads ahead of us, as they say. So it's time for me to make sure that my focus is where it needs to be, and that I give myself permission to stop trying to keep up with other parts of my life that I just don't have the strength or interest to deal with right now. There's too much going on in the neighborhood now for me to just keep going with a hit-or-miss approach that only serves to make me feel like I'm doing less than my best.
I'll still be around on Twitter at my @jacdupree account, because I will always need an outlet for generalized snark and carping. But I really am ending the Near Southeast news service until the storm clouds clear, whenever that may be.
I'm not 100 percent sure that I'll come back to the same approach of JDLand's past 10 years, but I'll always have my camera in hand.
Thanks to all for your patience over the past few months, and for your readership for all these years. See you around....!
Comments (30)
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MJM says: (6/13/13 12:55 PM)
Thanks JD, you'll be missed and best of luck with your mom

strambley says: (6/13/13 12:58 PM)
Thank you for all that you have done over the years. You have created a wonderful online history of our neighborhood for an upstart community. I wish you all the best and hope you can focus on the truly important things in life. Good luck and I hope one day we will see you out there taking pictures again.

jwg says: (6/13/13 12:58 PM)
Oh wow. I am so sorry to hear that you and your family are having to go through this. Sending you light, strength, and peace as you cope with such a terrible storm. Dementia and ALS are both so cruel; I'm glad that you and your family are able to lean on each other and you'll be able to focus on helping each other get through. Also glad that your mom has you to lean on. Kudos for giving yourself the space to focus on what's important. Will be continuing to send you all good thoughts for your mom and for you and the rest of your family.

jwg says: (6/13/13 1:07 PM)
Also - duh! Of course want to also chime in and add my thanks as well for all you've done for the neighborhood over the years. You'll be missed. All the best. Hope we get to welcome you back one day.

Bruce says: (6/13/13 1:11 PM)
I am sorry about mom. My thoughts are with the family during such a difficult time..
Thank you for all that you have done.
Who knew just how great the area would turn out.

Packinblackandred says: (6/13/13 2:05 PM)
I'm so sorry, JD. Best of luck to you and your family. You can do it.

G Street says: (6/13/13 4:02 PM)
Thoughts and prayers...

JD says: (6/13/13 11:20 PM)
Amazingly, NBC Nightly News ran a piece on FTD tonight:


(We have been very lucky that my mom has the even rarer form of this dementia that primarily struck her language abilities rather than her behavior. Families who have a loved one with the behavioral variant of FTD suffer so much, and it can last so much longer than what we've gone through with Mom.)

TheOnyxGuy says: (6/14/13 7:06 AM)
JD, with tears in my eyes as I type, I know first hand what you and your family are going through. Your story is almost identical to my family's.

You all will come out stronger than when you started with more focus. And my only advice is to laugh. Laugh with your mom just like you used to. - Carl

JD says: (6/14/13 7:40 AM)
I'm so sorry that you're been through this, Carl. It's not something any family should have to go through, ever. The impact on my father, who is almost 80, has been so hard to watch.

We are very very lucky that, as Mom's speech disappeared, her communication devolved into laughter, with different laughs signaling different responses. And she is so happy and child-like that it is easy to make her laugh even more. And all she really wants is for people to be with her, so she can hug them and hold their hand and laugh. It makes it easier to be with her, but also harder.

sharon says: (6/14/13 9:29 AM)
JD, I am so sorry for you and your Mom, and your whole family. My prayers are with you all. Many thanks for your "laser" skills at keeping us all up to date on things here in river city.

SWag says: (6/14/13 9:57 AM)
JD Sorry to hear about your mommy! Thanks for all that you do (from your friend in SW) :)

kidbookratings says: (6/14/13 2:10 PM)

I was on Curbed and saw the link to your story. So sorry to hear about this -- as a fairly frequent visitor to your blog, I wanted to register and offer my condolences. As a fellow blogger, I hope you will come back soon.

ECSLtd says: (6/14/13 2:21 PM)
Sending positive thoughts your way!
JD Land has been an invaluable resource for me and many others for the past several years!
Wishing you and your family all the best.
Tara (ECS)

SBS says: (6/14/13 5:06 PM)
Thoughts and prayers with you and your family. Thanks for all you've done. You'll be missed.

BillP says: (6/14/13 7:19 PM)
JD, so sorry to hear about your mother. Jen and I wish you the best of luck and I might have to break my self-imposed, life-long twitter moratorium just to get my fix of your local snark! If there's anything we can do to help, please do let us know.

darin says: (6/15/13 9:34 AM)
I am sorry to hear of your family's ongoing crisis. You have my sympathies. Your presence will be missed. I was an avid reader of your blog for a couple of years before moving to DC, and it played a key role in my decision to move to the Navy Yard neighborhood. I wish that there was something similar for Anacostia where I will be moving at the end of the year. God Bless you and your family.

Ed says: (6/15/13 11:20 AM)
Sorry to hera about your family medical challenges. Best of luck to you and the family

Westnorth says: (6/15/13 12:56 PM)
Best wishes, and thank you for sharing so much with us and with your family.

F says: (6/15/13 8:33 PM)
My heartfelt sympathies for you and your family. You given so much to the neighborhood - now its time to take some time for yourself.

@JayRickey says: (6/16/13 2:35 PM)
You've been a great read for years. I wish you much luck with your family.

Jaybird says: (6/17/13 9:23 AM)
I remember when you introduced me to your Mom JD, I think it was at Five Guys.

My Mom had Alzheimers, so I know about the struggles families face.

We're all pulling for you and her and your family.

You take good care, and know that we care about you.

58Model says: (6/17/13 2:51 PM)
Praying for God to give His strength to you and your family as you endeavor to do right by your mom.

OverbeckProject says: (6/18/13 7:49 PM)
My condolences. This is very sad. Your priorities are the right ones.

WIll the existing material from your blog stay online? I ask because I've always intended to contact you regarding adding links on the website of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project,, to the three postings you made about your father's memories of the 1960s on Capitol Hill. These would fit in perfectly with what we do: record memories from those who've lived in this neighborhood.

Bernadette McMahon
Overbeck Project Manager

JD says: (6/18/13 9:16 PM)
Again, thanks to everyone for the good thoughts.

I certainly won't be taking the web site down--I'd like to believe I am on a temporary hiatus, but I have learned in life to never say never, so I don't want to 100% commit to a return (or to a return to the same sort of operation it's been up to now). I've had one or two requests to just turn my ten years of work over to "the community" for continuation--and the answer on that is, um, no, it's mine. :-)

I know my dad would love for there to be links from the Overbeck Project, and by all means, please do so. But if you ever wanted to interview him separately, I know he would love that, too, and it especially might be a good exercise for him in a few months, when he will probably be trying to find his way.

Blue says: (6/19/13 10:42 AM)
Truly sorry to hear about your mom. I served on the board of trustees for the ALS Association of Georgia. They had a very strong local support system, outdone only by the National Capital Region chapter. The support offered for caregivers is extraordinary. They have a major fundraising walkathon, which many of the patients find extremely motivating and something positive to focus on. It gets a little competitive too! If you get involved, I hope you will solicit team members on this forum. You've built up quite a fan base of people who care about you and your family.

JNB says: (6/20/13 3:21 PM)

Thank you for what you have done with the site. I have been on it since he beginning. Amazing content has been created. It is truly a living resource. You will be missed.

btz says: (6/24/13 1:10 AM)
I like to think that it's similar to rearing a child. You have different (and the right) priorities in mind. You've done so much to set this kid (neighborhood) off on the right path. He/She will make it now because of your work. I know you're happy about your role and you more deserve anything that comes your way. Your Mother raised an awesome kid.

Brian says: (6/30/13 12:23 AM)
JD, this blog was the primary factor that gave me the faith to move to CHT in 2007; and even though life has taken me elsewhere in the past few years, JDLand remains in my bookmarks toolbar. I have loved being able to check in on my old "new" hood since I left.

Thank you for all that you have done for the community; your work has touched many lives. I know we all hope for your eventual return; but more importantly we send positive thoughts to you and your family.

All the best.

NatsHood says: (7/2/13 10:39 AM)
JD, I just want to say thank you for all your hard work over the years. I would have never purchased in CHT in early 2007 if it wasn't for your site. At that time, CHT was the only residential building in the "hood" and the area was deserted. Empty lots, torn down buildings and school buses :) surrounded the area.

Your blog was instrumental in educating people about this neighborhood, which in turn gave them the confidence to move into a neighborhood that most people would never step foot in. And, I remember back then when I went to your blog, I was taken to a page that had wonderful pictures of you and your family. You have redesigned the site since then but that was a nice treat back in the day.

I know this is a hard time for you and your family. I just want you to know that the people in the "Near Southeast" neighborhood are pulling for you and your family. You have certainly touched many lives here and as 'btz' said above, "Your Mother raised an awesome kid".

And for the record, I think "JDland" would be the most appropriate name for the neighborhood, because w/o you, the neighborhood would not be what it is today.

Take care JD and I wish all the best for you and your family.

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