Posts Tagged ‘Family’

I Am Still Here – Somewhere

January 11, 2015

I just realized it has been more than 3 weeks since my last post – I’ve been around but not necessarily with it.  After 3 months, I decided it was time to stop pushing aside grieving for my Mom and Dad, too many oddball things were showing up and I need to deal with it.  I was upset when I decided to end my radio show for a while – going on hiatus while I do major self-care – and will be back doing it again in the future.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my days somewhere in neutral and drag my butt tired.

Eddie and I went to Toronto for a few days for Christmas with our niece and her family – no ice storm this year.  It was 40’s and 50’s with some rain, just like Seattle.  However, I am glad we aren’t there at the moment, they have cold, ice and snow right now.  I have some photos from my sister Ellen  at the Jersey shore showing snow.

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 This one came this morning

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 This was earlier in the week – so amazing!

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Ellen really knows how to compose a great picture.

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This one must have been uncomfortable because the snow was blowing all over.

We had a wonderful time in Toronto – I found myself noticing after a day or so that I had not thought about here or what was happening, I was completely there.  It’s not that we did much, at least I didn’t.  It was a delight to just enjoy their company and relax.

 I have to admit to feeling a bit left out because I only understand about half of what was said, so I asked for a major attitude overhaul.  What a change in my way of looking at the situation.  NEWS FLASH!  It’s not about me.  It is a time for Eddie to speak Arabic with people he cares about and who know exactly what he is talking about – most it is about the past, people they know in common and situations.  They also imitate the way some they knew spoke Arabic – only they understand the joke and why it is funny.

Christmas Eve we watched the service from the church in Bethlehem, then went out for a wonderful dinner.  Christmas afternoon we went to Raouf’s uncle’s house – and 30 of his close relatives.  There are probably another 30 we didn’t meet that night, there is always next year.  I spent a lot of time talking to his Uncle John.  He’s a very interesting guy and so easy to talk with – I found out more of his history on the drive home.

We left on Boxing Day in the evening – Eddie isn’t quite sure why he arranged only 3 days.  We had a wonderful time, though it was so good to be back home and in our own bed.

After we came home, I called Hospice of Seattle to find out about their grief support group.  It is a 6 week course, then often the group decides to continue meeting after the end of the  6 weeks.  It starts this Tuesday and will be for the next 6 Tuesdays.  I don’t know what it will be, I am open to what ever works for me.

I found the book “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” in the library – I had heard it was a really good book for grieving.  Unfortunately I didn’t find it helpful – I don’t need to find a reason Mom is gone – it was time and it was her wish as well as relief.  It is more explaining about the whys – I don’t need that.  I am glad I checked it out, now I know what is about.

I have some other things to check out – some of this by guess and by gosh, some are suggestions from other people – I am open and receptive to anything.  I am open and willing to explore things and ideas to see how they resonate.  This is so individual that it is more challenging than if there is a set formula.  Maybe I will start to look at it as adventure rather than as something to be overcome.  I am working to put it into words for myself – there really aren’t any pictures in my mind yet.

I bought an iPhone last Saturday – my Christmas and birthday present.  It is cool and I went Tuesday to learn how to use it.  I have another appointment this Tuesday to learn more.  They were able to download my list from my old phone and I finally got my pictures downloaded as well – not quite as easily.  However, the number is the same and I don’t have to go through that balderdash again.

I downloaded the new system Yosemite at home in November or December and my computer has been a bit wonky in some places.  I took it in on Saturday afternoon – what a zoo not only at the Apple store, but all over the mall as well.  Anyway, I told them about it and Nicole thought the best thing to do was reinstall Yosemite there and it would install over the one I did.  It was going to take an hour, so I went for coffee and by 5 I was ready to go.

Meanwhile Eddie was home doing the laundry and cooking dinner – what a delightful husband!  He had done all the shopping in the morning by himself because I had woken up in the middle of the night feeling as if at least a Hummer or something bigger had driven over me from feet to head and up my back.  I am not sure what happened, I was doing well the day before and the one before that – no clue why.  By late morning I was doing a lot better – thanks to Advil at night and in the morning.

Life is definitely an adventure.  I found this picture the other day and in some ways it’s how I feel – I don’t know how I got here and I have no idea where it leads, but at the moment, I am here and safe.

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45 Years And Counting

May 10, 2014

Today we are celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary.  When I think about that day, I remember standing looking out the front window at Sydney and thinking “This isn’t quite how I pictured my wedding day”.  I never dreamed I would be in Sydney, Australia, waiting to marry a man I had only seen for 3 or 4 different periods.  I always thought I would meet someone here in Seattle, get married, have children and live very much like my parents.  I was 22 going on 16 – naive, inexperienced and in many ways clueless.  I have certainly grown up and matured since that day – imagine if I had been the woman I am now when I was married – an interesting “what if”.  I could apply that to any point in my life, then I know I would not be who I am now unless I had experienced the last 45 years exactly the way they unfolded.  To read the posts I did about going to Australia, check out https://giftofra.com/2010/03/04/a-little-history-part/ and https://giftofra.com/2010/03/04/a-little-history-part-2/ .

I remember it was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon – May 10th – a gorgeous Fall day.  Some of the family had gone down to the flower market early that morning and the ladies of the Presbyterian church decorated the sanctuary for us.  They also enjoyed the benefit of the flowers for the next day, which was Mother’s day.  I notice this year both days fall  at the same time this year as they did in 1969.  I just realized I was born and married in the last century!

I had arrived in Sydney the Sunday before and then suddenly, Eddie was gone the next morning.  He went back to the small town to give finals and everyone went to work or school – just Angel and I were left.  Everything was so different and unusual.  The people,  the place, different customs, the languages, food, experiences – I often think it really didn’t sink in because Eddie was gone again.  He was due back later in the week, so I spent those days missing him again.  No one had phones in the small towns, so I couldn’t talk to him until he came back.

I was surprised and pleased to find that Angel and I were able to communicate – she had very little English, I had no Armenian or Arabic.  The family was all around and they welcomed me and made me  feel welcome.  I sometimes wondered if I seemed like a being from another planet; they were so different from me and my experiences.  It turned out they were fascinating and fun, I learned so much in a short time  and it has been a learning experience ever since.  Eddie came back Thursday night and the preparations for the wedding got underway.  Saturday morning they hustled Eddie out of the house before I got up – he spent the time with John and Sofie until the wedding.

It was a little different than I thought – we were going to have a very small reception at the house, so I was helping with the food that morning – I don’t remember what we were planning or what happened most of the day.  I pretty much dressed by myself and was ready before the others.  George was giving me away, Shake’ and Sonia were my bridesmaids in yellow – the dresses had been worn at Shake’s wedding.  When we went down to get in the car, John and decorated the car with tissue flowers, etc.  So as we drove to the church, people turned and waved.

The church was done in yellow and white flowers, it was so lovely.  I had given Eddie the wedding ring back when I arrived in Sydney –  he had sent then in December with the engagement ring.  I told him that the next time he gave it to me, he was never getting it back.  I know that John and Vic were taking pictures for us, I don’t remember a whole lot of  the wedding itself, but it did the job and suddenly we were married.  John drove us back to house in the car and more waving to us.

At the house John decided he was going get us drunk – I don’t know that he did because I had no idea how being drunk felt.   We had a hotel room for the night, so John and Sofie drove us over there.  I think Sofie was a bit embarrassed after a bit – John kept showing us all the parts of the room, etc. and she was trying to get him out of there.  Finally she succeeded and we were alone.

The next day Eddie decided to rent a car – neither of us had driven on the left side of the road.  The rental car fellow brought the car over to the hotel and explained how all it worked and then left – but with the key.  So he had to come back or there was no point to having a car.  One thing we found out, doing the opposite of what we were used to doing here doesn’t necessarily work there.  Good thing it was Sunday morning and not much traffic.  We had a lot of horns honk at us during that drive, it was quite an experience, a bit hair-raising at times.  After a bit we decided to go back to George’s house and see the family, we had had enough experience for the day.   (Several months later we found out the first rule of the road is give way to the right – those on your left have to look out for you).

We spent the rest of the day with the family and one of the guys took Eddie over to return the car.  Then it was time to board the train to Griffith where we were going to live.  Eddie had rented a small flat not too long after living in boarding house for a bit – not quite his taste and it was a relief for him.  Griffith was 450 miles west of Sydney and it was going to take a while on train that didn’t move very fast.  That was some train trip!

Dang!  I haven’t found the book downstairs with the wedding pictures.  I look some more for a future post.

The Only Snow I’ve Seen This Year

December 15, 2013

Most of the country has been dealing with a lot of  snow lately.  We had (to us) really cold weather but nothing on the ground except some frost.  If it is snowy or icy here, we have so many hills to navigate – if I can’t get up and down the hospital hill, I won’t be going anywhere.  True, I don’t have all wheel drive as Eddie does in his Volvo, so I stay put until the roads out of here are passable for me.  Does put a crimp in things for me, but I would rather be inside and warm rather than trying to explain to Eddie why I am in a ditch somewhere and the has had its carriage work rearranged.

Call me chicken if you want, twice I have been stuck on a hill in the snow and had to be recued.  The first time I remember was on the hill of Myers Way – stuck in the middle and going sideways.  I was really scared, the cars were coming down the hill and I was across both lanes.  A guy in a Jeep came by and he and his friend pushed the car to the side and took me home.  Later, Dad drove me over to pick up the when the road was clear.

The second time I managed to get up the hospital hill from Ambaum but couldn’t get across the top.  Dad came out and rescued me.    Another time I had rented a car to visit here and couldn’t get up the hospital hill, so I parked in the parking lot on Ambaum and Bob Allen came down to get me.  Ever since then, I don’t drive in snow unless I get caught when I am out somewhere.

So thanks to my sister Ellen, I have some pictures of snow.  They from the first snowfall in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

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I think these are houses near the shore.

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This is on the new boardwalk, the pavillion

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This always amazes me, snow on the sand by the water.

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Ellen isn’t the only one out very early in the morning.

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The sun is beginning to come up and the sky is beautiful

I am quite happy to see snow this way, no desire to be in it.  One thing about working from home, I can still do things as long as the electricity stays on.  Once that’s gone, no computer, radio or anything – especially no lights.  We can at least light a fire in the fireplace and huddle in front of it.  I can also write with pen and paper and read, so I am not completely at a loss for something to do.  Of course, it is lovely to watch the snow fall and later the sparkly fresh snow crèches and is beautiful.  It is always interesting to see what tracks have been made – humans and creatures.

We are going to Toronto for christmas and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have snow.  it will probably be cold, so I am thinking wooleys, gloves and things to keep me warm.  Maybe we will not have to deal with it at all.  We had a several hour layover on our way to Jerusalem the last time – lovely sunny day, absolutely perfect.  Now we’ll see the opposite.  Our niece and her family are there and we are really looking forward to seeing them again after almost 14 years.

Eddie called his sister in Jerusalem yesterday morning, they were hit by the snow storm that covered a lot of the Middle East.  How her son made it up the hill to open the shop, I have no idea.  They don’t have central heating, usually kerosene heaters.  Since their apartment block is made of concrete, it can get cold and damp in the winter, so it isn’t easy for them to keep warm at the moment.

Snow is on the way for Ellen again, it will be interesting to see the photos from that.

Thank You Ellen for your lovely photos, I enjoy each one you send me.

Indecision Is The Pits!

November 17, 2013

Last month was a year since Mom moved to the adult family home.  I certainly have noticed a big change in her, her ice very good appetite now comes and goes, she thought I was my sister Candy when I saw her Friday and the time before she looked as if she didn’t know who I was.  It doesn’t upset me the way it did in the beginning, I am getting much better at not taking it personally because it is part of the dementia.

I have been going back and forth for that year trying to decide about selling my parents furniture and putting our furniture from downstairs up here.  The rooms all need painting, but not having furniture or very much will make it easier to paint.  I’ve been trying to understand what has kept me from doing it.

My older sister Ellen is very supportive of the idea:

 I surely understand why you would want to sell the furniture; you want your own house, as you wanted your own kitchen. I think it’s fine to sell it; Mom isn’t really “here” in the sense that she’ll ever go back to her furniture, any more than she will want her stove. Will it in any way benefit her for you to keep it when you need to get out from under? I don’t see that it will. I have no objection to letting it all go to new homes, where it will be useful and appreciated. Live your life now.

I talked to my sister Candy about it too.:

There are quite a few things she wants and has been making a list.  she also understands our need to have our home again after 11 years camping out – the last year has been limbo for us.

My longtime friend Charlotte gave me things to think about – some echoing what I have been thinking:

I can tell you why: your mom is still alive, and even though you Know she won’t ever be able to come home again, somewhere deep inside you keep thinking maybe there’s the tiniest chance, and if she did come home and see her stuff gone, she’d be So Mad!!!    That’s what kept dad and me from getting rid of mom’s clothes after she went into the care home, and was just wearing those snap-back dresses or, later, hospital gowns.  Dad said to me one time, we really should do something with mom’s clothes, and I said, yes, but I keep thinking, if she should snap out of this and come home, think how mad she’d be to find all her stuff missing!!  We chuckled about it, and just left it there.  After he died and we were getting rid of things, of course, we did get rid of mom’s clothes.  But I think it’s quite normal to feel some hesitation about getting rid of her furniture and things.  Maybe you could start with just some small pieces, or even put them out of sight somewhere, so you get used to them not being in the usual spots.

A good friend Rhonda gave me some interesting advice – she is a declutterer and organizing expert:  This is part of what I wrote her and her answer:

I don’t know what is holding me back from calling Brigh and tell him I’m ready for him to take the pieces for his shop.  I don’t know what it takes for me to give myself permission to do it.  I think part may be being afraid of “getting it wrong”; of selling something and later wishing I hadn’t.

The main thing to know right now is that you need to HONOR some of your mom’s things, HONOR some of what your younger sis wants, but also to remember that you are NOT the next storage unit!  You and hubby need to be thinking of a deadline for her to come up with the money to have things shipped to her, come get them or help you and hubby bring them to her.  Those are the options, clear and simple.  You two have already gone WAY overboard in taking care of your mum all these years and it’s high time you started taking care of yourselves – and allow yourself the permission to do so, darlin’!

We talked on the phone later and it really helped to understand what was going on – she had just gone through it with her mother-in-law.  She and her husband had to clear everything out in a weekend and her husband felt her would just put the furniture on the lawn for anyone to take.

Some of it for me is wanting to be sure I don’t “get it wrong” or 5 years later wish I hadn’t sold something.  I almost felt as if I was pushing Mom out and doing things behind her back – yet, she really isn’t in this world and I don’t want to upset her.  Now I realize she doesn’t remember as much as she did, she don’t always know what day it is or where she is.

I realize that Candy and I have more emotion attached to the things than Ellen – she is much more objective and that helps me so much.  I heard something on the radio this week that helped as well – keeping everything you have over your lifetime keeps you in who you were.  I see now also that being with all the furniture from my childhood keeps me in who I was and having our furniture is who I am .  Though in some ways, that furniture is also who I was.  It will be interesting to see how it feels after 11 years.

I was frustrated by a woman who was to come and photograph things so she could help me value things for sale.  It took forever for her to come and then didn’t hear from her.  So I found someone else and sold some things but it was not encouraging.  I feel in my naiveté I may have been taken a little.   I realized when Jo came back and we worked tougher photographing things in the hall closet, I felt comfortable and at ease with her.

She sells on-line and while she was here, called someone she knows about the things we did and the woman was ready to come over and shop.  Jo said she will have the values by next week – we’ll see how this works.  It turns out she was very upset to find her camera card didn’t have any pictures on it and she was really upset – must be why I never heard from her.

I said all she had to do was call me, I wouldn’t have been angry – it is not known=ing that irritated me.  I told her the story of my Dad who worked with a Wilmington, CA,  boat builder in the 30’s – the guy used to be a rum runner.  It was on the water and one day Dad dropped a tool in the water – he didn’t want to tell Dick but knew he had to tell him.  So he went to Dick and told him how sorry he was that he had dropped a tool in the water.  Dick told he” Thanks so much for telling, the guys usually don’t tell me!”.   It was definitely not the answer he was expecting from Dick.

As Jo and I were working, I realized I was not comfortable with Brigh – probably the reason I was reluctant to call him and have him take the things on consignment to his shop.

I also had talked about it at the Caregivers Support Group – they were so helpful and reassuring as my sisters and friends.  I’ll see what happens next.

I am beginning to think I have begun to give myself persuasion to do this.

 

 

About Mom

November 10, 2013

I haven’t written much about my Mom since September when she turned 95.  It is getting harder to visit her because she is slowly going downhill and at time she doesn’t look my Mom.  A couple of weeks ago I had a call from the nurse at Elderplace.  She was concerned because Judy sent a note in that she had noticed a sore on Mom’s left thigh.  They checked but it was close to time for Mom to leave; they decided to have her come back the next day for a more thorough exam.

They think it is because she sleeps on her left side all night and also realized there was no cushion on her wheelchair.  So Friday the physical therapist was going to make sure there was a cushion and also they ordered a hospital bed to help with keeping her feet up as well as helping diminish the sore before it got any worse.   The nurse really appreciated that Judy let them know so soon so it could be treated.

When I went the following Tuesday, I asked if Mom had gone on Friday – she had.  What amazed Judy was how fast the bed arrived – on Friday.  Now it is easier to pull the bed out and help Mom turn over to the right side often enough to relieve the pressure on her left side so the sore is resolving itself.  The hospital bed is much easier for her to pull out and put back than the other bed.

Mom is usually sitting on a dining room chair or the wheelchair because it is hard for her to walk.  Judy does her best to have Mom use the walker to go around house so she will not lose her ability to walk for as long as possible.  She is usually quiet and cooperative until it is time to get up, change her clothes, have a shower and wash her hair.  That is when she gets very feisty and resists Judy.

Mom sleeps a lot more now and even when I come to visit in the morning, she is likely to close her eyes.  I started reading a Miss Read book to her, I am not sure if she is taking very much in as I read.  I ask her if she would like to hear more and she will say yes.  In some ways I feel I am copping out a bit but it is hard to have a conversation with her because she mumbles and repeats words so I don’t know what she is saying.  I think she knows what I am asking, it’s just not going through the shorted circuits to what she wants to say.

Some days I don’t want to go, but I don’t want her to think I have abandoned her.Judy tells me she knows the days of the week I come.  She tells me Mom is aware of things even though she can’t express them in words.  I will admit, this Friday I don’t think she quite knew who I was, that I was her middle daughter.  I call her Mom and I suspect it is inside somewhere deep that she knows who I am – or at least a familiar presence.

My older sister Ellen wrote in an email – “It’s hard, but important, for me to see her as a person and not just my Mom”.  I am realizing that is also important for me as well.  she and Dad have been big authority figures for me and I’ve seen them as Mom and Dad.   But I have not really seen her as Ruth, a person with a history and experiences that don’t necessarily involve me, the child.  I know the little she would talk about, but she as always been very quiet about that part of herself.

Sometimes she has told us things but I could always tell when she didn’t want to talk about it – I would ask a question and her answer would be “I don’t know, I don’t remember”.  I have met member sod her family and know things from them,; I have met people on Dad’s side who knew him and his parents.  It was interesting to hear what they had to say, some I heard from Mom but there were new things as well.

She did talk about her family some and I loved hearing about the great aunts – I call them the Awesome Seven.  Two of them were quite interesting and I also heard a lot from Mom’s younger brother when we would visit them in Waterford.  They had a summer house there, around the corner from the nuclear plant.  Don embroidered a lot of the stories about the family, so it was quite entertaining  Whatever he talked about, he made it so funny and I loved hearing his stories.   His wife Betty had heard them all before, so when Eddie I went down to visit, he would talk with Betty while Don told me stories.

I also realize I have only looked at the things that have bugged and frustrated me about Mom, time to see the more positive loving side.  I know she loved all three of us and wanted to protect us – it was some of the ways she went about it that put my teeth on edge.  I think I wrote a post about all the wonderful things I remember about Mom; this morning I thought of another one, she taught us to make a bed with hospital corners so everything stayed put.

Mom is a loving a giving woman, I think sometimes how she was brought up made it difficult to say it in words.  As I think about it, I think it was easier to express love for us by doing rather than saying.  I realize now that Mom and Dad always made me feel loved and wanted, that Mom was home when I came home from school – so many kids didn’t have that.   In many, many ways, I was blessed with the parents I had – it has taken experience and getting older to really appreciate what I had.  My sisters may have had a different view – this comes from the middle child.

They’re Back!!!!!!!

September 15, 2013

It seems our little furry friends have returned.  Remember this face – one only a mother could love?

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Back last February Delores next door was battling moles in our lawn very diligently.  She and Bob went on their annual trip to Hawaii in March and no moles showed up to drive her crazy when she came home.  So things have been quiet – until 2 weeks ago.  Eddie found mole piles in the bed by the garage and now the flowerbed by the back porch.  We also have weeds coming up no matter what we do.

I thought the moles were gone, but they only were off somewhere on their summer holidays.  Now it is back to work, no more frolicking in other places.  Too bad they didn’t decide to move there, there are several who would have happily wished them Bon Voyage with hoopla, knowing they would not return.  They and Mother Nature had other plans.

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This is by the back porch – my toe is in the picture.  They seem to like the new mulch better than the grass.

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They have been quite busy lately, not satisfied with one mound, they do several at a time.  Who knows, maybe it is triplets just learning the trade under Mom and Pop’s training.

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I wonder if this one was made by Pop, the head of the clan.  He must be a big bugger.

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The one on the left was the first one, and I think Eddie took the shovel and hit it, or maybe just stomped it so it was level again.  The one beside it is a little newer.

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Looks like Pop has been at it again – no flowerbed left behind.  This is along the garage and the cement path – I had to take pictures before Eddie took care of them.

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This is what happened when the latest incarnation of Mr. Dinh did when he mowed the dandelions and edged the walk.

Hmmmm, maybe I should  take a few pictures of “after” since I already have “before”.  No story is complete without a beginning and ending.

They have predicted thunder storms today – so far just thunder and lightning but I am not going out to take pictures and get wet.  That is for another day.  Instead, I found this one on Tracey Warren’s Facebook page and loved it – I was chuckling over it for quite a while.  I think it’s the best way to end this blog.

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Where Do I Start?

July 28, 2013

One good place to start is with a couple of adorable pictures from my sister Candy while cat sitting.

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      Kittyboy Litterfoot (Petey)      The Zen Purr Master (Emma)

I have been neglecting this blog for a while because of the kitchen remodel – haven’t been able to let those who like my post how much I appreciate it.  I am even more amazed and delighted to find I have almost 60 followers – that means quite a lot to me.

No doubt (or maybe not) you are wondering what I have been doing for the last few weeks.  There is my Mom and where she is at this point.  I have begun to visit her in the morning, not always easy, because after lunch she is ready for a lie down or a nap.  She is a bit more with it in the morning, we have a visit.  She is having trouble saying what she wants, she tends to mumble more and more that I don’t really understand  it.  There are times when she is with it a bit more and I tell her what I have been doing.  I haven’t told her about the kitchen remodel, I am not sure what she understands and I wonder if it would agitate her.  I tend to go with “If you aren’t sure, don’t”.  Maybe I am just chicken.

She is having trouble with arthritis in her knees, one especially.  She doesn’t like to walk or move because she knows it will hurt, though some days she is doing well and uses the walker.  If it is a bad day, they will have in a wheelchair.  They don’t want to make the wheelchair a habit or she will not walk again.  Last Wednesday was her evaluation with DSHS – I learned things I didn’t really know – or didn’t want to know.  Essentially she needs help with everything,  she can wash her face if they give her soap and washcloth ready to go and she can eat by herself but someone needs to be there to keep her on track.  Otherwise, she needs help or have it done for her in everything else.

I knew she had to have help with a lot, but I didn’t realize the extent – threw me for a loop.   I am still digesting it, I am not sure how I feel about it – I am not sure I feel anything at the moment.  I knew it would come to this and she would only go downhill, I am not sure I am ready for it.  Looks as if I will have to be ready for it.  One thing I have learned recently is to do something after I see Mom, even if it is just to go to Lowes for something for the house.  Or wander around somewhere just looking and seeing what’s there.  I am working on doing an errand after I see her, though I sometimes forget.  Then I go earthing on the Allen’s grass because it is softer and nicer than ours.

She can be very feisty sometimes, not wanting to shower, wash her hair or change her clothes.  However, Judy told me when she is having a good day, she is a darling.  I know it is the dementia that is causing a lot of this,  still hard to see it happen to Mom.  My sisters call her, but now it is hard for them and for Mom.    I had an email this morning from Candy, she had called Mom the other week and this was how she described it.

” I can tell that Mom is “disappearing” by our phone calls. She managed an “I love you, too” at the last phone call, but mostly it is a couple of minutes of me talking, and any answer she gives is so garbled it makes no sense. I tell her we are all fine. I tell her she’s been a wonderful mother and is free to leave, that we will be all right. I tell her I love her. I’m not sure she really knows who she’s talking to, though it is made clear at the beginning of the conversation that it’s her daughter from Nashville.”

A lot of other things have been going on as well, plenty of things for several posts.  I always hesitate to  publish things about my Mom, she is a very private person and she might be upset for the whole world to know.  Yet I also hope that writing about what is happening for our family can be of help and benefit to others dealing with a similar situation.  More early childhood training.

Good Days, Not So Good Days

April 13, 2013

I haven’t been writing lately, seems as if things have gotten in my way – or let them get in the way.  I just put up a new post that I have been working on since the last one I wrote about it.  Could be a matter of Life happening while I am planning.

I have noticed in the last 2 or 3 weeks that Mom has been having more not so good days – or is that simply my connotation of it.  Last week I went to see her and brought two long sleeve tees for her and another pair of slippers.  When I had seen her the Friday before, she had lost one of the ties and was having trouble keeping that slipper on.  So I was going to bring the reds – both pair my sister Ellen had given her for different Christmas presents.  When I arrived, she was asleep, so I checked with Judy to see what was happening.  She said Mom hadn’t been sleeping very well at night – still haven’t quite figured out what is going on or what to do – so Mom sleeps during the day a lot.  I didn’t want to disturb her rest so I didn’t go in.  Judy told me Mom had taken the slipper without the tie and torn it so it couldn’t be worn again, then put it in her pillow case.

So I left the things and said I would be back Friday.  When I came back, Mom wasn’t there – she was at the Center for a UT test that Didi had ordered.  I decided to call on Saturday before I came – good things because Mom was resting.  I called on Sunday morning because Eddie had gone to the Museum Flight to do his docent stint and it turned out to be a good time for Mom.  So I went and had a lovely time with her;  we laughed,  remembered things and it was really good.  She seemed in good spirits and I was glad.  We talked about her walker, that she hated it.  When I asked her why, she said it was ugly.  So I suggested I would get some red ribbon and see if I could make it less ugly.  I told her I had to learn to use one in rehab and I didn’t like it, but I knew I had to so I could get better.  not sure what registered with her.

Tuesday I called before I left o see how she was doing; she had slept late and was eating breakfast.  Delores next door wanted visit so I took her over to see Mom.  She was sitting in the dining room and didn’t say a whole lot.  She had that old woman look – I am going to have to come to terms with that – and a somewhat defeated look.  Delores and I did a lot of the talking, Mom didn’t seem interested in saying much except a few responses to things.  She was cold so we got her the pink shawl and that helped a lot.  But she seemed to tire quickly, so we thought we should leave.

I asked the caregiver if she would help Mom get up and use the walker so she could rest a bit.  The older lady came and Mom took one look at her and told her she didn’t want her near her, to go away, the woman had hurt her and scratched her.  I am not sure how much is true, but I asked the younger woman to watch to see what happens.  I said I thought possibly someone who had helped her up and been too firm on Mom’s hands and had inadvertently caused the bruises.

I am going this afternoon and bringing the sugar-free cookies that I forgot to take on Tuesday.  Friday Jan gave me money to buy them since there are three who are diabetic and sugar isn’t good for the other three.  I was so embarrassed I had forgotten to take them Tuesday – I am upset when I don’t do what I promised – and they were disappointed.  So I have two sets – oatmeal and chocolate chip – and I will give Jan her money back because it was my bad.  I will update this post when I come home this afternoon.

Later that night:

Actually the visit went well, one of the good days.  I suspect the cookies helped as well.  They were all happy with cookies as well.  I tried to give Jan her money back but she wouldn’t take it – I told her it was my bad for not keeping my promise so the cookies are on me.  I found Mom in her room sitting on her bed hugging two of her bears.  The big one now named Marigold after her dad’s middle name.  Now she has another smaller bear, so I asked if it was a girl so we could think of a girl’s name.  I happen to look up at the butterfly hooked rug and suggested calling her Butterfly, but that didn’t go over at all. So I suggest a flower name, by then I wasn’t sure she was interested.

I talked to Didi and found out Mom has been very contrary for a while, not wanting anyone to help her bathe, put on clean clothes, etc.  Apparently she also will pull her hands away in mid lift, so far she has been close to something to sit back on.  Even at the Center she won’t let them near her to check to make she everything is all right.  I asked Didi if it would help if I was at the Center when they want to check her to see if she would be more willing.  We’ll see what happens.  Didi said that farther on she will be at peace with the situation but right now she fights them at every turn.  I have no idea what goes on in her head, I can’t imagine how confusing and scary it is for her.

I wrote this after I came home from seeing Mom, I wanted sleep on it before I published it.

The Middle Child

March 5, 2013

I was having a shower this morning and for some reason I started thinking about my birth order – I am the middle of three girls.  My Dad used to call us #1, #2 and #3 – suddenly ego was there telling me “You are second best” very calmly.  I told ego “Thanks for sharing, I choose something else”.  I usually go on about my business but this morning I found myself almost yelling “I am NOT 2nd best!”   “I am NOT 2nd best!”   “I am NOT 2nd best!”.

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It hit me that may that’s how I have been seeing myself all my life.  Scary!  I remember Debye telling me if something feels heavy, it isn’t true.  When it feels light, it is true.  I have also been reading Martha Beck – she is such a cool lady! – she calls it “shackles on” ” shackles off”.    This feels heavy “shackles on”.  Since then I have been thinking – not always a smart idea – and wonder if that is true.  Unfortunately those were the days of always comparing myself and finding myself coming up short.  This time I felt grateful to ego and told her “Thank you for sharing”.  This will not be a field day for my inner critic or for me to beat myself up; rather a time to see objectively how much truth there really is in it.

Not too long ago I was listening to Alternative Talk radio and one of the guests posed a question: What do you believe about yourself?  That was a head scratcher because I am not always sure what I believe about myself.  I know beliefs are chapped by parents, siblings, friends, peers, etc.; I look back and wonder if I believed the feedback from those who called me names because I was a chubby, somewhat plain child with glasses since the 3rd grade, was true.  I know it hurt and I didn’t like it, but I didn’t think of any way to fight back.

I went to school a year earlier than I was supposed to – Mom and Dad say I made such a fuss when Ellen got on the bus because I want to see where she went.  There was in Southern California a rule you had to be 5 by the first of March, so I qualified.  My grades were not great, mostly C’s, a few B’s and  an A in art one year.  My sister Ellen was just the right age and she did really well in school; as a result of me and my early start, they kept my sister Candy from going to school until she was almost 6.  She had really good grades.  Both sisters seemed adventurous to me, I was always scared to step out and do things.

I really noticed a difference in my relationship with Ellen.  When lived in California we used to play a lot together, the 4 year difference didn’t seem to be a problem.  When I was 7, we moved to Seattle and lived in a rented house for a year and a half.  It was as if Ellen and I were strangers, she was on her way to junior high and my sister Candy was only 18 months.  When we moved to the present house, I was starting 4th grade and Ellen was in junior high.  What a gap there seemed to be – 4 years was a lot more than it used to be.  There was a 3 year gap in school, so as she left junior high, I started it.  When she graduated from high school, I began.  Unfortunately some of the teachers remembered her – did they have expectations I would do as well?

Ellen is a wonderful artist, plus she plays most of the stringed instruments.  My sister Candy is a musician and song writer as well as writing books.  Where was my talent, my gifts?  I didn’t really know.  I have said I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.  There wasn’t a whole lot that really inspired me or captured my interest, I seem to have drifted along all my life.  I had no idea I would meet an Armenian and go to Australia to marry him, then come back to the States 18 months later.  I had always wanted to travel, so I was able to do that because of his jobs; I lived in parts of the U.S. I have always been curious about and certainly his travel has made me more independent.

Now that I have gotten this far in the post, it suddenly hits me that being diagnosed with RA has contributed to my possible feeling I am not as able or capable as most people.  Oh dear, there is that comparing stuff again.  Well, this one will have to sit on the back burner for a bit to see what else comes.  RA is a subject all in itself.

The Guilt Trip Bus Is Pulling Out of The Station

November 18, 2012

It has been an enlightening week, especially with the help of friends who know and understand what it is like to have family going through dementia.  (I don’t capitalize it because I don’t want to give it importance – well, it makes sense to me!)  I have been to see Mom three times this week – she must have been very surprised when both Eddie and I showed up yesterday bearing chocolates.  Mom is talking a lot about how much she would like to come and live with us – I have told her “This is where you need to be, this is where you wait for the train”.  She has said it several times in a visit and that she wants to get out of there.  But she wasn’t really happy here either – strangely enough, one friend asked if she is just doing what she has always done all my life?  It didn’t take being a rocket scientist (and I happen to know one) to think about that.

I’m sure a lot of  Mom’s depression is that she misses my Dad – he has been gone for 12 years and she is lonely.  She has always looked at the negative of everything for as long as I can remember.  I don’t know where it comes from, is it childhood, one or more experiences that really left and impact on her?  I haven’t clue.  Since we came to live with Mom, I began to say something positive when something negative comes from her.  We were going down the steep hill in front of the house and she talked about how easily we could over the side and crash.  I just said we could go down with no problem and make it to where we plan to go with no problems.  I realized that all my life I have bought into her negativity and gone along with it, even accepted it.  But that day I couldn’t deal with it any more and decided to turn things around for a change.

As for wanting to leave, I have talked to several people who have dealt with parents and dementia and they tell very similar if not the same story.  My friend Charlotte, whom I have known since 9th grade, went through it with her mother for many years.  She wrote me the other day and what she said really helped:

The reason your mom gripes to you about things is that You were her primary caregiver for quite a while, and she feels “safe” spouting off to you, I think.  You are right to change the subject or just ignore it.  If she presses the issue, you can always say, “thank you for telling me that” or “I’m sorry you feel that way”, and then move on.  Eventually I think it will pass, particularly as the disease progresses.  You are so fortunate she can still talk, even if she doesn’t always say what you want to hear, or even make sense sometimes.  That was the thing we missed most about mom’s dementia–she lost her speech completely, at the end, and for several years had an extremely limited vocabulary, so communication of any kind was difficult at best.  (And last night I had a little meltdown when I suddenly couldn’t think what her voice sounded like; that really bothered me.)

I think the things you are doing for/with the group home are very good, and makes a nice break for everyone.  It’s really very thoughtful of you.  I never thought to do anything like that for my mom when she was in the group home.  And, yes, I’m sure some of the others do have visitors, too, but you might ask and if there’s someone who is really alone, maybe pay a little extra attention to that one, or bring a special treat once in a great while just for that person. 

What she is referring to was my Friday visit,  I took two rolls of refrigerated cookie dough – chocolate ship and sugar cookie – and baked them there at the house.  It ended up that Judy the caregiver did a lot of it because I am not familiar with how their oven works.  We had a good time and the smell of baking cookies filled the house, part of the plan.  We did a cookie of each for every one, so there is still a half roll of each for another time.  It felt very good when they said I had made their afternoon.  It was surprising when Eddie suggested that he would come and we would all do it again, making sure that the owner Didi is there as well.

I have met all the other residents, including Ginger Boy who is John’s cat, except for Wendell.  He is usually in his room because he needs a wheelchair.  I asked Judy if I could meet him and bring some cookies, so we did.  His room is next to Mom’s and he is  very friendly,  he really enjoyed the cookies, especially the chocolate chip one.  Yesterday I went in to say Hello to him – now that I have met him, I want to be sure to visit him whenever I come to see Mom.

So I didn’t board the guilt trip bus this week, I am more comfortable with Mom when she talks about wanting to leave – it is not unusual.  Nor do I have to fix it and make everything better. I only have control over my own thoughts, not anyone else (as I keep saying to myself over and over). As a friend told me, she has chosen to have this experience for her own reasons, just as I have probably chosen to go through it with her as well.


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