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Posts Tagged ‘mother’

I grew up in semi-rural, northern Indiana.  There was a cornfield behind our house.  This was the bane of my mother’s existence every time they plowed and sent dust into her house.  There was an empty field on one side, where my brother was allowed to play with his friends but I was not.  Mother was always convinced I was going to be kidnapped.  In later years, I decided that it wasn’t so much that she thought I would be kidnapped as that she had kidnapped me herself and did not want them to come and get me back.  This was in response to the fact that my mother is OCD and I have IWRPPTCH  (I would rather paint pictures than clean house).

My lackadaisical attitude toward housecleaning has been the bane of my mother’s existence forever. It was not an era of concentrating on the positive, with a child. It was the era when you wrote my mom a poem and she corrected the spelling and handed it back. When young, my paintings looked a bit abstract and that was considered “messy” too. The truth is, I am messy.

I have had three houses that I kept clean: 1. was a new house with plenty of storage and room, 2. was a house in Wyoming that only had husband and myself in for one year and was big, nice and I kept it clean.  Then, my daughter needed a place and everything from the basement came up and five people moved into the finished basement, but I still kept it fairly clean.  A year later, daughter’s family moved out, mom and dad moved in and we moved down into the finished basement.  We now live in a small house with two to three growing boys.  It reaches status as a feature on Hoarders periodically, and I just don’t care anymore. Upstairs we have 1 closet and no food pantry, or coat closet or any type of storage. I just cannot keep it clean.

Recently, a dear friend commented that she had so much fun when mom and I visited.  I stated it was too bad I didn’t have room for them to stay here when they were traveling through.  My mother almost had a heart attack.

I’ve always felt inferior. It took me till I hit 60 to realize that it was not a matter of me not being good enough.  i was even winning awards in painting yet never thought I had talent.  But, one day, as mom was on her constant search for the perfect “whatever” I woke up and said, “It’s not me.  Nothing is ever good enough for mom.”

http://my91yearoldmom.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/kin-to-a-ghost/#comment-134

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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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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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After my father died, my mother was lost. As much as she loved her freedom, she was lonely without someone there to talk to. She had always wanted a Chihuahua and so another relative gave her half the money to purchase a Chihuahua puppy.

The puppy was adorable, and quiet. Very quiet. She did not bark for months until it got to the point that my mother encouraged her to bark. I do not know what the problem was that mom worried the dog could not bark. Granted, barking is the only way she is going to scare anything away (although I did read about three Chihuahua puppies cornering a coyote in a garage once), this dog is not going to do it alone. She has yet to catch a bird or a rabbit, both of which she used to chase. Never brought a deer home either, but mostly they turn and walk away from her.

Skeeter attacking her favorite toy; a Taco Belle Dog.

Mother is in a senior’s apartment building now and, while she could have the dog with her, the dog has learned to bark. All company must sit before the dog will stop barking. (I guess a bid to bring them more to her eye level, although they would have to lay on the floor, on their stomach for that.) Mom let her dog stay with us, so she did not have complaints about the barking. Now, it is also because mom can no longer move quick enough to let the dog out (out the door, down the hall, down the elevator, through the lobby, and then out.)

Chihuahua puppy is now thirteen years old. She has always had a collapsing larynx, which requires her to stretch out and cough to open it; two slipped discs in her back; and an enlarged heart. It is the enlarged heart that is doing her in.  Some nights she has me awake for a half hour as she coughs and coughs in an effort to get that larynx fully open.  She is not gasping for air though.

When I took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago, he looked very grave and shook his head and told the nurse to put away the rabies shot. He gave her a steroid shot and new heart medicine and said her heart was failing. She threw up for two days and every day, I debated if today was the day to take her back in. I finally quit giving her the new heart medication and went back to the old (which he told me to do if she didn’t tolerate it.) and she was back to herself.

Some days she doesn’t eat, she laps up more water than she ever has, the stairs are tough on her old bones, some days she loves her chicken plate, some days it sits and drys up. Like most of us, who are getting up there, she has her good days and bad days. And, every day, we wonder if today is that day.

Then, she will ask to go out and she will sit in the sun and survey her domain and I’m thinking that as long as she can get joy in the world, and is not in pain, today is NOT the day.  Let her enjoy another day in the sun.

Yesterday, I was petting her and noticed a lump. I’m not sure but her kidneys may be shutting down and one is enlarged.  She is not in pain though, but I know that the day is closer, but not today.

Chihuahua Skeeter

7.2 lbs of Earthquake warning

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I believe I have mentioned my mother’s eternal quest for things. I have seen her search for months for leather jackets, the right Foreman grill, a purse, “unmentionables,” anything and everything. And, I have also returned any number of those because she cannot seem to tell, in the store, that they have a fault she cannot live with.

In the three years she has lived in her apartment, she has maybe had three overnight guests. She had one of the blow up beds but gave it to us (which is what she does with things that she does not return). I think she just did not feel she had room for it. She has one guest who has come twice and rents a motel room and seems quite happy with that arrangement. But, mom does not feel like the proper hostess if she does not have a bed for a guest and a five course breakfast.

Considering she has a galley kitchen, and is exceedingly tired and in pain from her back, I do think they could skip the breakfast and go out to eat, but that’s not a good hostess.

So, first mother decided she needed a new couch. She purchased a recliner and a rocking love seat for two when she moved in. Everyone exclaims about the love seat and how comfortable it is, when they sit on it. I have slept on it a couple of times when I needed to be there at night. It is doable. But, she doesn’t like the furniture now because:
1. The cushions do not come off either piece of furniture so you cannot clean under them. It would seem to me that if the cushions do not come off then it would not be very dirty under them but I really do not know.
2. The love seat does not make into a bed
3. Something is wrong with her recliner and it will not recline all the way

When she said that to me, I had just brought over a lift seat for her that was to help her get out of the chair. She was sitting on it at the time she said it and I asked what she meant and she threw the handle back and mysteriously she was laying flat out, feet up, reclining.

The smart aleck I am said, “Oh, you mean like that? It won’t do that?”

What we discovered is she is so short that she cannot make the recliner go back unless she is setting on top of something to give her height leverage, so I will give her that one, she needs a recliner she can work, as she is..

The reason she could not use the chair lift for that purpose is because it was not electric, and would just gently raise her up as she stood. She repeatedly tended to lean over to pick something off the floor as she stood and ended up face down on the floor. That was not acceptable and, I’m sure, not what the manufacturer intended.

So, first we were on a quest for —– drum roll here —– for a red leather couch that makes into a bed and a red leather chair that a five foot tall person can recline in. Yes, you read that right, red leather. Personally, the thought of living with a red leather chair would really mess up my “Feng Shui.” (sp?)

Life keeps moving and several weeks have passed and we had not gone out on our first search for red leather furniture, when mom announced she no longer wanted a couch. Now, we will be on a quest for three chairs. I am not sure what color, but she has reasoned out that they are doable for guests to recline and sleep in AND, they can be pulled around if someone wants to watch television with her.

This from the woman who will not allow the walmart lady to bag more than three cans in a bag because it will be too heavy.

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Sorry for the long absence. It snowed. The car has been stuck in the drive for six days. I threw up for ten hours one night and have been nauseous since. My mother had four nurses coming to her home.

Wait, you say. What was that last one? “my mother had four nurses coming to her home this week.” What does that have to do with not blogging, you ask.

Apparently, my life’s fun radar, goes totally off when my mother has to have nurses coming to her apartment. It has something to do with the first phone call, when she said: “I just had the absolute worse day of my whole life.”

A child of an elderly parent automatically assumes: she broke her hip, her best friend died, a man broke in and stole her valuable jewelry (which includes $5.00 rings you get when you order from the back flap of an envelope), she was evicted from her apartment, I don’t know but all kinds of things flashed through my brain and none of those things included, “A nurse came to my apartment and checked my pills.”

Apparently, THAT is what gives my mother the worse day of her life. Never mind the depression era she lived through, breast cancer she survived, the car accident that put her in back pain for the rest of her life, the tremor that does not allow her to handwrite legibly, a nurse came and checked her pills! The nerve!

The doctor thought it was a good idea, after mom got out of the hospital and the rehab/nursing center to have nurses visit her. I concurred. She would have a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a nurse to oversee her new medications and take her protime level, at home, without her going out in the snow. My mother, after doing physical rehab in the facility, walked down the hallway of her apartment, without stopping to rest or panting. She also got into my car without help. She was stronger and more stable than she had been in three years.

But, do you know, that this week four nurses came out and each on separate days. It’s insulting, I tell you, and she will have none of it. Now, I wish some physical therapist would come out to my house to oversee my exercises. My left shoulder just does not feel like it is aligned right when I do my weights. I could use someone who knows what they are doing to watch me and correct me.

YEAHHH! See how I threw that in, just nonchalant like. I am doing my weights again. Mind you, I am at two pounds on some, but that will build up. Week one down!

Anyway, to sum up, anyone who wishes to report us, the doctor and me, for senior abuse, should call and do so as the torture of having nurses and therapists out to her apartment will last for two more weeks.

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mom-glasses

Do NOT, tell my mother I put this picture up on the Internet.  She would not be pleased.  This is her squinting to see through the “special affect” glasses that Master’s Daughter passed out this year.  There were two kinds.  One put snowmen around the Christmas tree lights and the other, as you will see below, put santas around them.  Ironically, mom was the only person who could not see the special affect.santa-glassesThese are not actualy Santa lights, but something wierd the glasses did.  Now, aren’t you glad I told you that?As I was growing up, my mother would sit in the window and watch me play outside.  To pass the time more productively, mom would bring a mirror and tweezers and use the time to pluck her chin.  Chin hair is equal to having snot hanging from your nose, in my mother’s world.  So, we were not surprised to see mom pull her chair over to the bearded lizard’s cage, which has a bright light, and get our her mirror and tweezers.  Mom has the smoothest chin on the face of the earth.

Master’s Daughter told me that I was not allowed to ask her what my “blog” notes mean, this year.  This is because I write cryptic words and then forget what they mean.  So, I sit here this morning trying to decipher what I thought was clear at the time.  The note for the above paragraph read, “Plucking hairs by Komodo Bearded Dragon light grew up with hair plucking in window.”  I did much better this year, than my usual two word notes.

Possibly not with all of them, however.  “Does Kronk trump Spock  -LaSalle-Dice.”  Okay, I think this has something with a dice game they were playing.  This year, with Gaffer there, the only breaks in  game playing for days was to open presents and occasionally to sleep.  I think Spok is Spock from Star Trek, and Kronk.  Could that be Christmas at the Kronks?  I vaguely remember hearing the comment and a lot of laughing, but that’s all I got on those notes,  folks.

game-lineup-small

Here is the gaming line.  My three are closest: EMT, JRock, Gaffer and then two grandsons, Electrician and Army guy.  The gaming line was usually at the table with anyone they could corral and playing Risk or Monopoly (with two boards connected, at one point), cards or dice.  Anything they could think of.  They are a noisy group and Master’s Daughter is considering a temporary sound barrier wall for Christmas celebrations.

Okay, the last Holiday blog note, I promise (or not), is the good one.  Ready?  “Grandma had a winky in her face.”  Okay, this did not happen at Master’s Daughters house, but it was a story mom was telling us about a life-drawing class. 

It was her first experience at life-drawing and she was not real comfortable, but doing her best, when the teacher came over and pointed to her sketch pad and said, “I don’t think you want that area, that big.”  Needless to say, the class broke up in laughter.  Later, as the model took a break and mom was adding touches to her sketch, he came over to see the “that big” area and mom looked up to find he had NOT put on a robe and “IT” was right in her face. 

Okay, maybe you had to be there.

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Long, long ago, when Master’s daughter was a young, married, stay-at-home, mother of just one (this was before she became a Master’s teacher of children, mother of one bear like husband, one military son, two electrician sons), she had time.  She had time to decorate cakes, houses, make gravy starter (funny Thanksgiving story) and to sew.  She sewed Halloween costumes and, given the week is Halloween week  (Notice how it is no longer a one day holiday? ), I thought you might to see some of her handiwork.

 

 

 

To explain this picture:  There is a pumpkin to collect candy, a child barely bigger than the pumpkin who is dressed in a bear costume and the light brown/tan furry thing is actually a dog. 

 

 

This was my dog, then my mom’s dog (we do not actually mean to trade dogs in this family, but it does happen as you move and cannot take the dog with.)  This one was a little thing and really ornary with buggy eyes.  She was also, agreed upon by most of the family, to be a rather ugly dog.  My mom adored her 

 

 

Here, child sitting on the porch, has gotten bored by the whole costume, pose, dog thing and fallen asleep.  Whereas dog is thinking, “Why the heck is that kid sleeping on MY porch in a fur suit?  Don’t they know that is my job?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child grows, as children do.  I have one more, a fantastic dragon costume, but I have to scan it in yet.  Perhaps I should have titled this blog: Thoughts of a Proud Grandma.

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So much to say today.  When we took the boys, we were told never to come back to our see our other grandchildren who we had babysat and spent time with continually for years. We were like second parents.  Had I known how bad the abuse of the boys was—I mean, we knew some and that is why we took them, but I had no idea it involved a month locked in the closet, three days without food—had I known this type of thing, I would have called DFS out immediately.  Instead, the step-father got what he wanted. He wanted the three boys who were not his blood out of his family and he wanted us out of his life.  He was smiling when we left.

 

I woke up with a dream of my granddaughters.  I often dream of the oldest girl.  She and I had a special bond. While granddaughter’s number two and three, favored Grandpa and granddaughter number four was Gaffer’s baby. Oh, how she loved her big brother.  Granddaughter number one was my girl.

 

She seemed to favor Granddad to begin with but I had gone away for a month and when I returned, the babe in arms she was then looked at me with such admiration and love and that was it. She was my girl, from then on.  When we would arrive and be descended upon by the other children (this is a family of eleven children), granddaughter number one would hold back. I would look around for her and she would be at the edge of the room, near a corner, watching with her slight, shy grin to me.  When the other children then focused on their granddad for tickles and play time, she would come and sit on my lap and almost melt into my body and we would talk.  I miss her so much.  I miss all of them so much.

 

So, in my dream, I was at my mother’s apartment, outside and instead of the city houses, there was a large park and there, playing in the park was a passel of children. With the modern children playing were my two oldest granddaughters, in pale and shapeless, worn prairie dresses. And, they ran to me and I picked them up, and held them tight to me and was so happy. 

 

I tried not to wake up, but I did.  It has been three years now since I have seen them. How much they must have grown.  I am told they will find me.  But, knowing the damage that my grandson’s (who live with me now) suffer from, I fear for what shape they will be in. 

 

On other fronts:

 

I am watching the storm coming into New Orleans as I finish my morning rituals. It brings back a feeling that I have been through and, I’m sure, a lot of New Orleans families are going through now.  Your life becomes focused on one thing. All other concerns and fears and worries are pushed to the back and there is one focus of your life. Will you have a home, when you get back?

 

I went through fire evacuations several times during my years in Wyoming.  The worse was when we were told, as we sat in a Red Cross shelter, that the fire had reached our rural street of four houses and surrounded a house.  It had but the firemen saved all our street’s homes. 

 

Then, we were in Northern Indiana, for Electrician grandson’s graduation, and one of the boys came out and told me that I might want to get online and check our area because it was said to be under water.  So, for that night and the next day, we did not know what we would go home to.  Many people did lose their home and I still remember watching the damage from the tornado a week before, as we drove home. We had only slight water damage.  We were lucky.

 

But, I know the fear that is in New Orleans and area heart’s and my heart is with you today.  If you don’t mind me reserving a little bit of it for granddaughters.

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My daughter has always told my mother that we will never know if mom gets Alzheimer’s because, well, she’s a bit spacy. Today we went shopping.

We are standing in front of the Campbell Soup display. Marsh’s has a display of JUST Campbell’s soup. We were standing, looking at it.

Mom: “I can’t find it.”
Me: “What kind do you want.”

Mom: “Soup.”

Me: Pause to ponder and then I say, “Okay, I figured that, but what kind do you want?”

Mom: “Campbell’s”

Me: Longer pause to ponder, then I say, “I kind of figured that. They are all Campbell’s, but what kind do you want, like tomato or mushroom or?????”

She doesn’t giggle. She doesn’t laugh. At that point she says, “Cream of Mushroom” like nothing just happened.

MOVE TO THE canned vegetable aisle.

She is staring at the cans with the tomato on them. They are all canned tomatoes. All kinds of tomatoes. They all have a red tomato on the label. A bright red tomato on the can.

Mom is staring at the bright red tomatoes on the can and she says, “Why don’t they have the sliced potatoes? All they have are the whole ones.”

Honest, we will never know if she gets Alzheimers.

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