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Archive for the ‘My Weird Family’ Category

We found our house on the internet.  I fell in love with the picture of this  bungalo on a large pond, with woods all around.  What we found was that bugs come in the house, from those woods, when it starts getting cold. The second storey was built over the walk-out basement without removing the existing roof.  Hence, our floor creeks like it has ghosts and has a ridge in the kitchen floor.

I really like this house from the outside, and we still love our 3.7 acres, but inside is a different matter and being on a fixed income it is inevitable that everything is breaking down over time.  The latest is the circuit to the air-conditioner, but before that, it was the washer and dryer.

Since my mother lived with us for several years before moving to her own apartment, we have found ourselves with duplicate appliances. It is nice to have a spare occasionally, but mom’s washer/dryer were a stacking set and these things are notorious for problems. It was worked on numerous times the first year or two of its life then it settled into random problems. First, anything but a full load of water would overflow.  So, if you had a half load to wash, you had to set it on full and waste that water. Then, the dryer started squeaking and you could not dry clothes after anyone went to bed because it would wake them up with it’s Chinese water torture squeak.

It was no surprise when the dryer went completely.  My dryer was brought in from my studio and set beside the stacking set. So, now you wash in the stacking set and dry in the single dryer. That is, unless you are half asleep.

Gaffer got home late one night from work, and being a fry cook, had really greasy white shirts to wash, put them in the dryer and pushed the on button, walked away without realizing the dryer was not running.

Next morning, he stumbles into the laundry room and realizes his shirts were not dry.

I think he needs to get more sleep.

“Darn” (sure, that’s what he said.)  Blinking dryer. I’m going to have to wear a wet shirt. I have one clean shirt and it’s heavyweight and it’s over 100 here in Indiana. “Darn, Darn,Darn.”

He put on the last shirt, started the dryer again and left for work.

He did not check the dryer when he worked a long shift and came home late. Morning came and the dryer still did not dry his shirts.

It was with good humor, that he told me that evening, that he realized, for two days he had been trying to dry his shirts in the stacking unit, which was broken.

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Mom behind the counter at the Indiana Barbeque

This is a photo of a restaurant called the Indiana Barbeque. Mom, Phyllis Adair DeWitt-VanVleck, was a waitress at this restaurant.

Originally, she worked at the restaurant across the street, but tired of the way they cut meat off of meals that were half eaten and served it to another diner, and just unsanitary practices like that. The owner of Indiana Barbeque had offered her a job several times and she finally took him up on his offer.

One night, this gentleman came into the Indiana Barbeque on a search for mashed potatoes.

Harold G. VanVleck

Harold G. VanVleck was not in the military yet, but he fell in love with that waitress. Not just the mashed potatoes that they happened to have that night because the owner wanted some for his dinner. The owner shared them with Harold and Harold lined up all the pennies in his pocket and when Phyllis picked up that plate, she found her tip in pennies, in a ring.

Now, that may not sound like much of a tip, but this was somewhere around 1939.  Pennies were worth a whole lot more.

Phyllis is 90 now and lives alone, for the first time in her life. Harold passed away in 1998, at the age of 79.

And, they fell in love over a circle of pennies.

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I really enjoy reading http://my91yearoldmom.wordpress.com/.  If you would like to read a sensitive, loving, humorous story of an aging mother, check out “My 91 year old mom.”

Helping to care for my 90 year old mother, I relate to his stories of Tom caring for his mom.  I was going to link to the story of his sister haunting the house, but I could not find it.  It is somewhere in his blog and worthy of your read.  The story of his mother and Mr. Booger head is hysterical.  I particularly relate to the story of his sister’s ghost, for I have had some experience with my own ghost.

David, Evelyn Sheryl

My brother was six years older than I am.  I understand mom would have to tell him to stop giving in to me, when I was little, because I would get spoiled.  But, what I remember is playing by the door when it was time for David to come home from school.  Through the years, David would give me advice on boys and chase away the ones who liked me but I did not return their feelings.  He was my protector and friend.  He made eclairs for us to share and he taught me how to wrap Christmas presents, play backgammon, chess and cribbage, and, when he went into the Air Force, he read my teen angst written letters.  He died in 1990 of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  My brother, David, and I.

My dad became ill around 1998, although I’m sure Hemochromatosis was destroying his body for some time before we found out what was wrong.  This disease is a build-up of iron in the body.  Normally your body excreets it.  Dad’s did not.  It destroys your organs and causes a build up of ammonia in your brain.  Dad was getting to the point where he was difficult to deal with.   Husband and I went to visit them, in Arkansas, to discuss having them move to Wyoming.  Dad was opposed to the move but husband had the idea of giving them the upstairs and we would move into the finished walk-out basement.

David and Dad in 1948

As we sat around their dining room table discussing the move I looked out the patio door.  It was dark outside and our figures reflected in the glass.  I was startled at the resemblance of my dad to my brother.  I had never noticed it before, but there he was, my brother, looking back at me in the glass.  I slowly turned to look at dad, and to verify that there was a resemblance. There was not.  In his 70s, he did not look a thing like his son had.  I swung back to the glass, and the reflection had gone.  I could barely even see the reflection of my father.

I have always thought that my brother was letting me know that he was waiting for dad to join him. My dad died three months after he moved in with us in Wyoming.

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It is 2am and I am going to post this without corrections.  YES, I DO go back through and make corrections, believe it or not.  Which, even I have trouble believing sometimes when I re-read what I have written.

We’ve been at the hospital since Monday, or Tuesday, or last November (it seems) and, when I got home tonight I crashed; slept more soundly than I have in days and now I am up, but the brain may not be up to correcting things much.

The brain is such a marvelous, misunderstood, know-nothing-about organ. My neurologist says they know the least about the brain out of the whole body.  I have had diagnoseees/diagnosis/plural/whatever that have said, that I have either left-temporal lobe epilepsy, or familial hemiplegic migraines (which mysteriously, I do not have a single symptom of, or just those curvy brainwaves.

It has often been said, about my mother and by my mother, that no one will ever know if she gets dementia because it is her normal state.  They were wrong.  BIG TIME!

Mom is 90, so a few months ago, when she started getting  significantly more spacy than normal, it was no surprise.  Last week, she descended quickly. We thought she was having mini strokes. She has been diagnosed with partial seizures. She stares into space, mouth open and then comes back to us, she also mentions she has a headache, starts talking gibberish and then says, “I can’t even understand myself.”

Unfortunately, she also has Alzheimer’s. I imagine that she would also like me to mention that it is highly unfair to expect her to remember what year it is as she has always been bad with numbers.  That’s what she told us when she failed her fourth Alzheimer’s quiz.   Oh, and there are also only two numbers in the year because the first two numbers don’t count, so saying the year is 27, is correct, even though there is no 7 involved in saying 2012.

Poor gal, also has to have surgery, but that’s in a couple of weeks.

Tomorrow, the doctor and husband and I take mom across the ER parking lot to the rehab/nursing center. She wants to go home and keeps forgetting she is going there, even though she said it is fine to go there. She wants her computer, even though she cannot remember how to turn it on and her crocheting even though she has not crocheted in years. And, I will bring her travel Scrabble, and we will play it together.

I might actually have a chance to win now.

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We do not get one single trick or treater. I guess no one wants to risk our 400 foot long driveway, when the trees even hide the fact that the house is lit up or not. I really miss Halloween decorating though.

And, I would so do this, if anyone could actually see my house.

Is this the spookiest fun house or what?

Photo courtesy of Sean Fallon, I think.  I actually made a copy because I want to do it some day in the future.

After the boys moved in, I always wanted to have a Halloween party for them and their friends.  They are now 19 and 22, and almost 25.  The 22 year old was just home from Afghanistan and sat in a chair, fully costumed, in a dark room, for a half hour as he waited for his two brothers to get home.

I’m a nut for halloween, and never had a bad experience trick or treating, like http://toddpack.com/2011/10/27/the-worst-halloween-ever-or-the-night-a-girl-and-her-mom-stole-my-candy/#comment-6810.

When I was growing up, we lived in a rural area.  We always had pumpkins on our porch and trick or treaters.  Those kids had some walking to do, I’ll tell you.  Mom and Dad were square dancers and dressed up in awesome costumes every year, but not for the trick or treaters.  When I was young, dad drove me into the nearest town.  I loved it.

I was watched, like a hawk anytime I was outside and it was such a neat feeling to be out after dark and around tons of kids and running and laughing with some new friend.  I even remember the year I fell in love with Zorrow, or was that Zorro?  I don’t know how to spell it and I don’t know who he was but his ?ten/twelve year old self was just as appealing to me as Antonio Banderas is now.

Who knows, maybe it was Antonio????

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When I was growing up, there were no malls on every corner, or any corner.  Mom did not have a driver’s license and never did get one and shopping consisted of a payday (every other Friday) foray into the nearest little town, Griffith, Indiana.  Where I would return my arm-load of books to the library and pick out the next two weeks reading, while mom and dad started their grocery shopping.

Occasionally we would pick something up in the Ben Franklin dime store.  Prices were higher for clothing there, but you could get a tube of lipstick or a hanky to give a relative for Christmas.  Our main shopping was from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog.

1958 Sears Catalog

photo via http://www.wishbookweb.com/1958_SearsChristmasBook/index.htm

This was the Christmas catalog of 1958, and I remember that santa ornament hanging on our tree.  We poured over those Christmas catalogs for hours.  When the Sears driver delivered our order, my brother and I would have to leave the room while she opened those pages and checked the goods.  I don’t think they could do that now, in this day of GPS tracking and speedy delivery, but back in the 50s, service ruled.

I belive there was a fall catalog also that signalled the arrival of the school year.  Mom would haul out the catalog and mark the pages I could use to chose my school clothes.  There was a price point obviously.  Mom always ordered two pair of shoes for me, in different sizes, just to make sure.

The Sears truck driver was almost a friend to invite to dinner.  He came in with the order and waited while things were tried on.  So, when it was time to order school clothing,  I looked for my favorite pair of shoes.  Sears carried them for years.  They were flats with elastic cords that went from the front to the back and I thought they made my feet look awesomely small.  Mom would order two pair, in different sizes, and the Sears truck driver would wait, while I tried on my shoes, so he could take back the pair that did not fit.

Now, I drive fifty miles, to Shoe Circus in Indy/Greenwood, to get shoes that feel half way comfortable and pay a $100 for the privilege.  Do high heels make your feet look amazing?  Yes!  Do they feel like the inquisition has arrived?  Yes!

I HATE SHOES!

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My name is Sheryl and I am an addict.  I am so addicted to http://thebloggess.com/.

 

The Bloggess blog

If you haven't read it, you must!

I check about six times a day for a new post from her.  Should she go three days without posting, I am ready to write and see if she is okay or not?  I am stalking addicted.

I have even developed a ritual for her posts.  I savor read it to myself first, then I read it outloud to husband, while trying not to laugh so hard I fall off my chair, then I post it to facebook.  Then, I get to read all the neat comments I get from my daughter and others who also find her hysterical.

Now if my mind just worked that way, maybe I would post more regularly.

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Every time my mother has felt ill, she has reminded me that she has written her obituary and it is in the computer.

The woman has had two strokes, two TIA’s,  breast cancer, and a total of 24 surgeries or procedures in her 89 1/2 years of life.  She has about everything wrong with her heart that can be and the 24th procedure was this month.  So, you can well imagine that I have kept that thought in my mind:  “My obituary is in the computer.”

We thought she was having a third heart attack for the month and took her into the emergency room in intense pain.  Luckily, and I say this with all my heart, she got a good physician (this time) in the ER.  Last time she was in (this month) she was in for six hours and had a second chest x-ray after three hours because they just realized it was blurry.   This doc knew right away that he was not dealing with a heart attack and ordered an MRI on her abdomen.

They found a larger gall stone had fallen into a duct and was blocking the area between her liver and intestines.  Her liver was enlarged.  She was in immense pain and in an ambulance some 50 miles to Indiana University Medical Center.

We have spent most of our time since at Indiana Medical Center and found it to be the best, ABSOLUTE BEST, bunch of nurses, student nurses, doctors, interns, cleaning staff, people on earth.  The one ‘poor quality’ nurse really stood out after seeing so many who rushed in to help her to the bathroom just because they heard her tell us she was going to need to go soon.  She rarely had to push a button.

We were told that she had two options and neither was good.  If they did not do surgery she would die and if they did surgery, there was a 70% chance she would die.  That night, when I went back to her apartment to pick up some things for her, I turned on the computer and looked for her obituary.  I had already grabbed the name of the mortuary.

There was NO OBITUARY.  What there was, was a read-only file called obituary.  I did not tell mom that this document, that I presumed she had worked on so hard, was blank.

Ten days, a PIC line (which is a line they put in after no one can bear to stick her again since her blood clots in the needles anymore), and a procedure later, she was recovering and I got up the nerve to tell her about the missing file.  Her response:

“Oh, I know that.  I haven’t written it yet.”

WTF, is she just playing with my head?

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Conversation with mother (age 89) yesterday, after she had a heart attack in the morning and fell in the evening and was doped up on painkillers.

Setting: Her apartment.  I’m trying to get her tucked into bed.

MOM: You need to move that fan.

ME:  You want it closer?

MOM:  and close that window.

ME: You love the evening breeze on you.  It’s not going to rain so why not just enjoy the open window?

MOM: Because you are going to yell at me about the stuff.

ME:  “What stuff?”

MOM:  You know, the wet stuff.

ME: (pause)  Not really sure I know what wet stuff you are talking about; let alone when have I yelled at you.

MOM:  It gets damp and you yell at me because I’m not turning on the air-conditioner.

ME:  OHHHH!  When it is 98 degrees out, at 2pm, and really humid and you are sitting in your apartment panting, and having trouble breathing, because of your COPD, yes, I want you to close the window and turn on the air-conditioning.  But, it’s night out now and dry and there’s this nice cool breeze.  So, why not enjoy it?  You love sleeping with the windows open.

MOM:  Okay!

By this time, she is almost in bed.

Two seconds later, as she has all of her medicines and her cold water to drink.

MOM:   You need to move that fan.

ME: (foolishly thinking this issue was settled)   Why do you want the fan moved.

MOM: Because you are going to yell at me about the water.

ME:  If you are talking about the humidity, I only worry about it when you are having trouble breathing during the day.  But, it’s a nice cool night and you like the window open.

Mom is now tucked in and as I am turning out the lights, I hear,

MOM:  You need to move that fan.

ME:  Good night, mom.  Sweet dreams.

About about fans and windows, I’m sure.

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Husband has a faulty electrical energy field.  Watches break within minutes of him wearing  them, answering machines stop working, clocks run backward.  There is no end to the mayhem that is my husband.

Once, he went to pick up a brand new refrigerator and by the time he got it home, the only side that was not scratched, dented   or banged was the BACK!  THE BACK!  For crying out loud, couldn’t he have let me have one side???

So, when he was finally given a cell phone (he was the last  to receive one in the family and we were all in trepidation over the gravity of giving him a cell phone), we all held our breath to see what would happen.

It didn’t take long for the phone to fight back.  It repeatedly talks to him when he pulls it out of his pocket to see what time it is.   (Since he cannot wear a watch.)

PHONE:   “Do a command.”

Husband fumbles with buttons.

PHONE:  “DO A COMMAND!”

Husband opens and closes lid.

PHONE:  “LIKE, Call home!”

Okay, his phone is obviously “like, a valley girl.”

Husband begins pushing buttons.

PHONE:  “Calling Home.”

Me:  “Hi.  Whatcha’ want?”

Husband:  “I wanted to know what time it was.”

Me: Pause.  “Ah, if you open the lid of your phone you will see what time it is.”

Husband:  “That’s what you think!”

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