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Posts Tagged ‘dad’

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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I come from a line of worriers.  Dad would faithfully watch the news each day and that would give him a whole new set of problems to worry about.  A car drove through a house somewhere in the country and now we must be on alert for rampaging cars.  A girl was attacked.  Then, we were going to be attacked.  He was sure of it as sure as he was that everyone was out to get him.

I’m sure he would have had a field day in this post 9/11 world.  He already avoided large cities because people were mugged in large cities, there was traffic in large cities and everything cost more in large cities.

My mother, having lived with my dad for well over fifty years, has absorbed some of his worrying.

The other day, I received a call from her. The doctor recently asked Hospice to begin attending to mother.  She lives alone, in an apartment and has not been eating well.  She has four very bad leaky heart valves and by the time she has buttered her bread, to make a sandwich, she is so tired that she has to go and sit down and rest.  It can often take her an hour to make a sandwich and by then, she’s just too tired to eat it.

The latest thing is that they are bringing her out a hospital bed.  She has trouble getting into her craftmatic, twin bed.  It is high and she has to sit on the edge and roll and grab the opposing side of the mattress to pull herself the rest of the way up.  This is fraught with the possibilty of her falling out, so a hospital bed can be lowered to a more amenable height for her.

She called me today with a question she has already inquired about two other times.

What happens, with Hospice, if I don’t die in six months?

My first response really wanted to be something like, “Just what are you going to do about this?”

But, mom doesn’t get my sense of humor and I really did not feel like her dying was a good thing to joke about.  So, I again explained that should she not die in six months, they will reevaluate her health status and then resign her up as needing care.  This is presuming that her heart has not miraculously healed itself in six months time.  Should that happen, we will bring back her craftmatic bed for her to use, as “yes, at that time, they would take her hospital bed away.”

There is no date stamped on her.  She may live six years.  We have explained that the doc is not saying, “You have six months to live.”  He’s just saying, “you need help to live a rich, full, safe, life.”  Just enjoy it, Mom.  After 89 years, you have the right to have someone come and help you make a sandwich and dust.

Surely, there are more important things to worry about than where her craftmatic bed is.

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Mom used to sit in the window, even if I was outside all day, and watch me. I knew I was under her watchful eye and I was used to it.  But, I was also sure, that she was convinced that someone was going to kidnap me.  Hence, she was on alert. There had been Romany’s camped at the edge of their property occasionally, when she was a girl.  They came to her mother and purchased chickens and even paid mom’s little sisters to sing and dance for them. 

 

Now, from what I have read, in the fifties, when I was little, most people felt safe and secure, except from nuclear fall-out.  They still seemed to have some faith in their fellow Americans, but not my family.  Dad’s credo was, “If it happened once to someone, somewhere in the world, it will happen to us.”  This led to a lot of fear of—well, of everything.

 

For this reason, it became a joke between my brother and I that we had actually been stolen from a Romany camp.  The reason mom watched out the window was her fear that they would come and take us back one day.  After all, we did seem to have different politics from our parents, and neither of us seemed to have much of the Obsessive Compulsive gene.  But, we certainly inherited their “not so good” health genes.

 

I am sure mom agreed that I did not belong to her when I went through my “late hippy” period. 

 

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I did forget a story mom told Master’s daughter and myself, before she fell asleep in the motel. 

 

She and dad were visiting a relative many, many years ago and dad was very upset because their shaggy dog was drinking from the toilet

 

Picturing the state of the toilet, I could see this might seem gross to him. Our dog’s dish was washed regularly.  And, dogs like to lick their owners. So, I can see where that might gross out my obsessive parents.

 

But, mom said that was not it.  The truth, she told us, was:

 

“He was afraid to get dog hair on his butt.”

 

 

I shall leave you there with all sorts of visions in your head, as Master’s daughter and I dissolved into laughter at the possibilities.

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I came from a television family, my dad had the first television on our rural block and then studied, evenings, to become the local repairman. TV has been the background of my life.

 

Mom has a debilitating heart condition now and spends a ton of her day in front of the television. She cannot walk very far on her own and that has, needless to say, slowed her down considerably.  She has an electric buggy but does not use it much unless I am around, because mom never learned to drive. GASP!

 

Yes, children, there are people in the world who have never learned to drive.

 

When she was sixteen, her brother took her out in the farm yard to teach her. He later declared she had sideswiped a cow and was hopeless and never took her out again.

 

My dad acted like he was teaching her to drive, but only actually offered to teach her when she 1. Had a cake in the oven and couldn’t leave or 2. It was Christmas Eve and snowing; thus making sure she never learned. 

 

NO ONE drove my dad’s car (my brother and I were both taught to drive by our mates) and he was not going to make an exception for her. Beside, dad was rather of the belief that women are to be taken care of and not allowed to learn to think for their selves. Yes, a chauvinist extreme.

 

What does all this have to do with TV, you ask? Well, if mom was comfortable driving, she would be tooling all over Martinsville, Indiana in her scooter. She wouldn’t be afraid to enter the elevator with it. Getting in and out of the elevator is kind of scary yet and we work on that every time I am over. It is a tight turn.

 

But, for now, she sits and watches tv. She likes to watch “Little People, Big World” and “Some obnoxious woman and her beaten husband and their twin daughters, one of whom is an obnoxious child and the other who is ignored, and their sextuplets, many of which are brats.”  And, apparently, the whole family likes to hit each other on the head. I do not watch it, so I’m not as up on it as she is.

 

Secretly, I think mom likes it because the children are so out of control, and maybe the families are dysfunctional. The husband on “Little People…” overextends and leaves projects unfinished; thus reminding mom of my father, who measured shelves every year for twenty years and never did get the shelves put in until they were ready to sell the house.

 

I’m not sure why she enjoys bratty children? I plead the fifth.

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It really is incredible the things you find, or find out, when cleaning.

One of my favorite books is a mystery; Tell Me Lies, a novel by Jennifer Crusie. Any book that starts with “One hot August Thursday afternoon, Maddie Faraday reached under the front seat of her husband’s Cadillac and pulled out a pair of black lace bikini underpants. They weren’t hers.” Is gonna be good. And, I read it when it was labeled a mystery (which my copy is), not a romance. Of course my copy doesn’t have candy hearts on the cover. At least I don’t think it does, since it is one of the things I keep cleaning in the hopes of finding.

The scene I love in this book, and I am very much digressing because it has nothing to do with cleaning, is Maddie Faraday, going in and finding the only comfort food that is available to her is a centuries old brownie in her freezer.  I have gotten desperate enough to toast a marshmallow, with a steak knife, over the stove top but who thought of toasting a frozen brownie?  Brilliant!

Get on topic again, Sheryl.   —  Okay, I helped my parents clean out my aunt’s apartment, when she had to move into a nursing home. We found baggies and twist ties in every drawer. What we did not find was one single thing she had put in her will to leave to other people. I am hoping she had already passed on some of these items, to their new owners, long before.

When I was cleaning out some of my father’s things, after his death, I found a little tag on a string, like those you put on an item to price it. This tag, with my dad’s tiny scribble on it, lay at the bottom of a small box of assorted items, with bullets (yes, gun bullets) rattling around in the bottom. The tag read:

“Do not even think of looking for the gun.
I took it with.”

I am wondering how long that tag was in the box and why my paranoid father, even in his wildest dreams, ever thought a burglar would listen to this warning on a mini tag. Actually, why would he even take the time to read it?

Or–did my dad somehow find a way to actually take the gun with him, on his final journey? If so, I assure you, I would have taken a frozen brownie before I ever took a gun.

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It is June, so you ask, why is she writing about Christmas stuff?  Because she is memory deficient and she a/k/a me, would have to write this now anyway and then save it in her Blog and then probably forget to publish it in December.  Besides, Christmas in June is nothing new.

I have made several errors in my life. (Quit laughing, Master’s Daughter) Okay, more than a few. One was having the lack of judgment to be married, for a short time, to a man my daughter’s fondly refer to as Hitler. My mother says he is the only person, on this earth, that she hates and she has to ask forgiveness for that when she gets to the Pearly gates.  I say, Hate him, Mom. He deserves it. 

Hitler had many horrible traits, which explains why we called him Hitler. Those traits are best left forgotten. He did have a few redeeming traits and one was a love of all things Christmas, including the Christmas tree, which he did not want taken down until the fire department showed up in June and said, “You have to take this fire hazard down.” It was a real tree and you can only water them for so long before they become tinder.

The perfect Christmas dinner, for Hitler, meant that the adults drover around town most of the day on Christmas Eve and picked up everyone’s favorite food from restaurants. With gas prices now, it would be a very expensive dinner. Since, his kids had a “traditional” dinner with his ex, and mine had one the next day at Grandma’s house, it was really a fun thing to do. The kids all loved it and it was their tradition. Which goes to prove that anything can be a tradition. It just needs to suit your lifestyle and family for it to last and be fun.

Christmas holidays have always been a big thing in my life.  Mom  decorated the perfect tree, I’m really thinking she was the original Martha Stewart, the cards always hung straight and filled the walls (remember when you were a kid and your self-worth was based on how many cards you got? “I got twenty valentines. How many did you get?”) Mom and Dad would work to make the house, inside and out, perfection. There were yard decorations to be hung and lighted, window decorations, indoor decorations and the tree.

One of my fondest memories of my brother was the year he taught me how to wrap a present. David may have had a touch of the Compulsive gene, because you never saw such a job of wrapping in your life. Corners were pressed and creased. I’m sure you could have bounced a quarter off that box. But, he was also artistic and they were beautiful when he was done. He loved Christmas too.

Dad, my brother and I would hunt for the perfect living tree. It seems like there was a lot more snow then, so it was snowing when we went and you could see your breath as you spoke. It went on top of our station wagon and, when we got home, if it wasn’t perfect, dad would work to make it so. Branches were actually added to our tree, if I remember right. I know it had to have the “bad” side to the corner and then dad and David put the lights on, while the mom directed them.

What was I doing while this went on? I was in the kitchen eating a whole box of chocolate covered sugar wafers. At eight, this is not a good thing to do on Christmas eve. You miss decorating the tree because you are heaving into the toilet. You would think this incident might have led to anorexia. Trust me, it didn’t.

Mom may have been the first person in the modern world to use actual toys on the tree. She had all the traditional glass baubles and lights, but she would also hang trinkets. These included fancy dangly earrings, or strings of beads she had made, as well as little stuffed animals and dolls. People would come to our house and marvel at her tree.

While recovering from surgery,  in 2007, I relinquished a lot of the traditions that, I am now learning, really robbed the fun of Christmas. I relinquished that little compulsive side of me who had to do the tree just right. I sat on the couch and watched the men decorate the tree. I laughed with them and Christmas was all the more special for the love that went on that tree, that year. It wasn’t nearly done, but the memories are even more rich, and that’s what Christmas is about.

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