Thursday, January 31, 2013

Easing My Way Into Yet, Another Routine

          When Jenna was in the first grade, I would drop her off before school started.  Often I would park and walk around the adjoining neighborhoods.  Sometimes I would go to the temple and sometimes I would remain at the school and offer my assistance.  I made copies for Jenna’s teacher once a week.

Before school let out I would return for her – though she and her friend Isaac were always the last two across the field.  It didn’t bother me if she dawdled.  I would just assume NOT deal with school traffic.  When she was attending first grade I was usually the only car left by the time she arrived to the parking lot.
          I had a similar routine for the first six weeks of second grade.  And then she gave her name and number to a classmate who happens to live in our same zip code.  His mother and father both work a graveyard shift and don’t return to their house until after school has started.  So his grandma would take Don to school – if she was up.  Apparently grandma was not reliable.

          So when Don’s mom read our address, she called me to see if we could car pool.  If it was okay, I would drop them off and she would pick them up.  That would be great!  I was not an avid clock watcher and had actually missed a few days with picking Jenna up on time. 

Don’s mom was grateful to count on more reliable transportation for Don – and I was equally excited about not having to watch the clock.  And as we live further north of the school, I have always believed that I am getting the better end of the bargain.

          In October of 2011, we got our dog, Highness.  Two or three times a week I would allow Highness to ride in the car with us and after I dropped off the kids, Highness and I would take a walk. I would still go to the temple, put in volunteer work, help out at the school and visit my mom in addition to my household duties and spending time at the computer. 

          Even at the beginning of 2012 I remember walking the dog, attending the temple – though it wasn’t as often.  Nor were my services to the school.  I started spending more time with mom.  I stopped taking Highness with me when I dropped the kids off at school.  My routine was slowly changing.  When Corey went out of town, I was forced to put myself on a schedule. 

          My niece and her husband had moved into mom’s basement.  She teaches and he goes to school.  He created a site for each of us to know who would be with mom during what hours so that she would never be alone. Unfortuneatly there were a few gaps when she was by herself.

          So by the time third grade started, I was dropping off the kids and driving to moms – sometimes to the cannery.  I don’t think I had gone to the temple since one time in summer.  My routine had come to rallying around mom.  I had even stopped going to the cannery after a while.  On those days that I wasn’t with mom, I was looking into many different communities that offered assisted living.  And we needed one with memory care.

          Now we don’t have to be on a specific schedule about seeing mom – though it is nice that we still communicate and keep in touch about making plans.  For instance, Sunny had decided it would be good to take mom on an outing – away from her new home.  She contacted each of us to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with our own plans.

          I attempted to start another routine.  Last Tuesday I went to the temple for the first time in probably five months.  I hadn’t been to the Jordan River Temple since it had been remodeled. There somehow seemed to be more space and an ornate elegance that invited all that is sacred and holy. I felt like a stranger – almost as though I didn’t belong. 

          That was my only attempt – to start a routine.  Haven’t built myself a routine either last week or this week.  I haven’t even been out to see mom as regularly as I had planned. Mother Nature has interfered. But perhaps it’s best for her.  Perhaps she can make a better adjustment with being where she is.  I don’t know.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

That’s a Lot of Costume Jewelry!

          I don’t remember being in the ward when the name of Roland and his sons were read over the podium for new membership records. They must have been read the week that mom and I went out of town.

          It was September of 2000.  We had gone to San Francisco to clean out my grandma’s apartment.  A place that housed her possessions but she had not actually lived there for over a year – and yet the rent was still being paid.  How wasteful.

          Mom and I lined the halls with donations.  We had called Salvation Army, DVA, any thrift store or charity that would come.  Nobody would take it all, but every organization took a lot.  Hard to believe that apartment actually held all that much.  I never knew what a very Large apartment my grandmother lived in.

          We designated each room for different things.  We had a garbage room, a record room, a knickknack room, a poison room.  Mom hadn’t lived in San Francisco for years.  It’s not as though either one of us knew our way around – or even had the transportation to do so.  We didn’t know the proper method for disposing all of the pills we found, or the dozen or so ketchup bottles that had been on the shelf for the last 25 years and would have asphyxiated us if they had broken.

We could have probably made a few bucks had we had the means to transport the many items to pawn shops or antique stores.  But alas, we were there for only six days.  And six days was not enough to even to clean even just one room – though we did manage to find the closet with the hideaway bed. 

My grandma went through various stages of being extremely heavy and actually having lost the weight.  Complete wardrobes in various sizes – why would she hang on to all those clothes?  How in the world did she ever find anything?  Maybe she couldn’t – and that is why she continued to purchase.

We discovered actual rooms that had been used as closets.  Tons and tons of clothes.  Enough to clothe all the homeless people of San Francisco.

We would venture out only once a day.  Grab something to eat and dispose of items that the charities and another organizations wouldn’t take.  Or else we would go to the bank and make deposits.  We actually found the nation’s penny shortage in my grandma’s apartment.  Last day.  No time for the bank.

Mom put the many rolls of pennies into a backpack  to carry on the plane.  I laughed when the alarm went off.  After checking her bag, they let her through.  I’m thinking that she wouldn’t have been able to board the plane with all the securities that were added to (and continue to add) just one year later.

Grandma was a hoarder.  As soon as mom and I returned home, we were able to tackle our own basement.  We threw things away.  Many things.  For mom’s house was so much bigger than Grandma’s apartment, and what a nightmare that would be many years down the road when someone else (most likely her children) would have to come clean.  Neither of us believed it would be so soon.  Neither one of us ever imagined that we would have to put mom in a home.  Not my mom.  Not her mom. 

While growing up, I remember mom wearing a variety of jewelry.  I’m not certain when it stopped.  But there came a time she really didn’t wear jewelry all that much.  And yet she seemed to inherit a large portion of costume jewelry from each of my grandmas after they had passed.  She still has them.  I don’t know why.  I don’t recall ever having seen her wear any of it.

My mom has not passed, but we have gone through her possessions as though maybe she has.  Making use of what we can or selling whatever can be sold.  Kayla and Corey are both having a hard time with it as they are still her possessions and she is still alive.  But she’s got dementia.  And she doesn’t remember as much as she did just a few years ago.  And she doesn’t even remember her house anymore – let alone her possessions.

Just a few months ago, I can remember asking her about items that I knew were hers.  She didn’t claim them however.  In her mind, almost everything in the house belonged to Nate – my niece’s husband. They lived in mom’s basement – still do. But they do not own everything.  But mom’s reality is so much different from our own.

Jenna had a grand time sorting through all of the jewelry that mom had accumulated.  None of us wear jewelry.  Sunny does once in a while.  Ellen and I think they’re quite bothersome.  Jenna would take it all if she could.  But she doesn’t need it.  And yet she appreciates it more than each of us do.  It’s beautiful.  It’s feminine.  It has a different value to eight year old eyes than those of us who are over twenty.

Sunny would like the beads – not to wear but to tear apart and use for bracelets that will be created by her preschoolers.  Go for it, Sunny.  How exciting it will be for my grandmothers to see their jewels shared joyfully among so many – even if they are just three and four.  For theirs is a pure joy.  You don’t see that much excitement among as many adults.

Mom had closets full of clothes as well.  Mostly in three sizes.  A lot of clothes – but not enough to clothe all the homeless.  Not enough to fill as many bags as her mom had.  Not enough to line the stairs from her apartment on the third floor to the downstairs lobby.  Still more than one person needs.  But not nearly outrageous as her mom.

Actually there are not as many beads in the collection as there were tons of clothes in grandma’s apartment.  It actually makes it easier for me to toss things so my kids won’t have to.  I don’t wish to be a hoarder.  I may be hoarding memories.  I’ve saved a lot for Jenna.  We are 42 years apart.  I figure she will need something.  But I want her to want it.  I don’t want her to be the one cleaning up after me saying, “What the heck was mom thinking?  Nine staplers.  Who needs nine staplers?” 

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  Before inheriting my mom’s desk supplies, I only had two staplers.  I think I now have seven . . . I had expressed interest in using her unused notebooks and other desk supplies.  Ellen took it to mean that I wanted everything that had ever been in the desk. I think I got it all.

For the most part, most everything I took was practical and in no way had any sentimental value.  I asked for lidded containers and space makers and forks and plates.  They didn’t even have to be good ones. 

I had had my eye on mom’s knives ever since she bought them.  Ellen had wanted them too.  So I let her have them.  I know she will take better care of them than my household will. 

We’re getting things from Carrie’s grandmother as well.  It’s been five years since anyone has lived in the trailer that she and Randy will be moving to.  It’s actually not bad.  It’s a lot roomier than our current house.

Roland.  He’s a hoarder.  And so is our brother-in-law, Bill.  Kayla and I have both gotten rid of a lot.  And our husbands have managed to replace it within days.  So for those of you who read my blog, please pass this message onto my children: Mommy hoarded memories, but it was daddy who filled the space by hoarding more unnecessary stuff.. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Elephants CAN Jump

          I don’t know how often Roland has asked the following question to various people: “What is the only mammal that cannot jump?” 

          The answer is, “an elephant.”

          Whether it is accurate or not isn’t relevant – not to this post anyway.  Corey liked the title “Elephants Can’t Jump” and thought he would use it for a future post – although he didn’t know what.  I imagined some profound analogy that had nothing to do with elephant at all, but would leave his readers thinking, “What a great post.” as his posts are usually quite thought provoking.

          This is neither great nor profound.  Needed fun to lighten up the mood from many of my most recent posts.

I had memorized Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards.  It’s a fun little nonsense poem.

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even
now I've got it right.)
Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

I don’t know why I always pick the elephant when playing guessing games. But somehow I find myself using the elephant as part of my outrageous answer, and yet I always do.

Jenna:          “Guess what we did at school today?”

Me:              “I don’t know, what?”

Jenna:          “Guess.”

Me:              “you all rode elephants around the classroom and now the school has a large hole in it where the classroom used to be because the elephants did so much damage"

Jenna will laugh and tell me what really happened.

It wasn’t too long ago when she wrote the following story:

Pg1:   My name is [Jenna].  I never seen an elephant draw.   
         But I’ve read that they write.
Pg2:   Did you know that elephants could write? It’s true.   
         They can write.

Pg 3: Have you ever seen one?  I’m sure you haven’t.  
         They’re really hard to find.
Pg4:   I really want to see one but I’ll never get to see one!
Pg5:   I think Kangaroo’s swim.

(I had added the pictures once I deciphered her first grade handwriting)

And today she asked, “What should I draw?”  

I used to suggest simple things, but today’s suggestion was:  “Why don’t you draw an elephant trying to climb into a keyhole.”

The result:

How great it is to encourage and enjoy imagination.  Because it is through imagination that elephants can jump and fly, read and write, dance and swim.  And that’s such an awesome thing!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blame It on the Ghost

Cute Ghosts Halloween Design

          Almost every household in America has at least one ghost living with them.  Since being married to Roland, I have encountered three.  Their names are “It Wasn’t Me”, “I Don’t Know” and “I Didn’t Do It”.  The ghost who gets blamed the most in this house is “It Wasn’t Me”.  “I Don’t Know” received most of the blame in our last house – though “It Wasn’t Me” seemed to share a lot of blame as well.
          I find it interesting that about 20 minutes before Jenna returned home from school yesterday, I retrieved a hand mirror from the coffee table and put it in the bathroom.  She couldn’t have been home more than five minutes before I found the mirror on the coffee table again – in almost the exact same position it has been only 25 minutes earlier.

          “Why is that mirror on the coffee table?” I asked.

          She didn’t even hesitate.  She immediately pinned the blame on “It Wasn’t Me” – a ghost that she and Tony seem all too familiar with.  Tony was also a big fan of “I Didn’t Do It” while Randy and Biff seemed more inclined to blame “I Don’t Know” 

          Once in a while Jenna and Biff try to blame one another – which usually doesn’t go over really big as they rarely ever spend time in the house during the same hours.  Of course she is asleep for the most part while he is at work.  And he tries to sleep during the time that she is gone to school. 

          I wouldn’t be surprised if “I Don’t Know” has moved in with Randy and Carrie. Though it’s just the two of them, I think he still tries to pin the blame on “I Don’t Know”  Fortunately Carrie is onto him.

          “I Didn’t Do It” shows up once in a while.  Perhaps that ghost is just a friend to “It Wasn’t Me” who has not actually shown any kind of responsibility.  No one does.  Responsibility?  What’s that?