Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nineteen kids is a bit Overwhelming

I usually have Jenna’s birthday party on her actual birthday.  This year it falls on a Wednesday in the middle of Spring break. I had a commitment of 4 children.  So I changed it to Saturday – still not believing that we would received the great amount of people that we did.  It was so great having Roland there to assist – well according to him . . . he actually did most of the work.  Well, him and Jenna.

 I think the best part about having Jenna's party on a Saturday is that Roland is at home to assist.  He is so organized at certain things and comes up with solutions that I’m not creative enough to think about.  He really amazes me at times. I think it is only the second party that he’s been to for Jenna.  And he actually couldn’t stay for the whole thing the year that she turned three.

I thought we might end up with more adults than children – but as it turned out there were 19 children total.  3 were cousins or brother who did not participate.  5 were sibs and a cousin who had come with the invited guest.  So 11 invited guests and I thought I had taken into account for sibs (hadn’t counted on cousins) but not everybody had RSVP’d – and I had taken that into account as well.  But still my numbers were pretty off.

It’s the most children that Jenna has ever had at a birthday party.  And I suppose it was a success.  I’m just always overwhelmed with such a large amount.

We played the Butter Battle game by hitting a balloon back and forth with fly swatters.  They seemed to enjoy that a lot.  And then we played “Seussical Chairs”.  Randy assisted with that one.  I was quite grateful at how he enthusiastically took charge.

And just as we finished up with presenting the winner with a prize, Rocko the clown showed up like on cue.  And that was exciting. 

Jenna’s books didn’t get read, but Rocko did read this poem before Jenna opened her presents.  He also made her a really fun balloon hat.

So overall the party was a huge success.  My poor birthday girl did get sick last night and so is now moaning in bed.  But she did rather well at the party. 

Funny how we have had a clown at her party every three years of her life.  We didn’t plan it that way – I actually hadn’t thought that until I was chatting with one of her friends earlier this week.  I wonder if she’ll want a clown when she’s twelve or fifteen (LOL)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Not Even a Haircut or a Cheesecake

Today was the PTO prize drawing - right after the talent show.  I don't think the PTO raised the money that they had hoped - though each day seemed to get a little more money than the first.  I'm thinking this morning was our busiest morning.  Maybe not.  I just felt like it was.

Jenna did not beat the odds this time.  She did not win the scooter or the summer pack.  9 consolation prizes were picked from all of the tickets entered in each drawing.  Three kites, two water bottles, four cheesecakes and two haircuts. I bet they could have done key chains and t-shirts as well - perhaps it was discussed at a former meeting.  I don't know.  I wasn't there.

The child who had turned in the most money received a $50. gift card to Wal-Mart.  It had come from a kindergartner who had two other prizes.  The money she had received earned her over 60 tickets - most which went towards the baby doll - which she won.  

I think our competitor - who checked the status every morning - should have gotten a  consolation as well. It was only $5.00 difference.  But I didn't think about it until after I returned home - not that I actually had a say in it.  It wasn't my project or my idea.  I was just trying to put in some missed volunteer hours.

I had really jumped the gun by titling this post.  Sick most all of February.  And I'm still not quite there. And since spring break will be starting tomorrow, I can't see that my routine will be that until after Jenna returns to school on the 8th.  She will be nine when she returns.  Right now she is eight. 

We'll have another PTO meeting right after spring break.  Perhaps I can find a routine then.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

volunteers needed and fundraisers

I’ve done volunteer work for the PTO and the PTA. I have never served on the board or chaired a committee. I’ve been approached three different times to volunteer/head the fundraiser.  Oh, no.  I hate fundraisers.  How could I possibly be in charge of something I loathe so much?

The first school that my daughter attended seemed to get a lot of support for the PTA involvement.  The PTA president had asked me if I would volunteer one or two days a week to make copies for various teachers.  As I was already coming in once a week to assist with the preschool and kindergarten teachers – one or two extra hours in the copy room didn’t seem like a big deal.

In that first school all of the paper was kept in the room behind the office along with the copy machines.  We were asked to record how much paper was being used and for what teachers. 

I never made copies at Jenna’s second school.  I volunteered to help out her teacher once a week - but I have no idea how the copy system worked there or where the copier(s) was/were located.  Had only gone to one PTA meeting in which I was asked if I would like to be the PTA teacher for the following year.  Were they serious? It was my first meeting at that particular school.  The only reason that anything was said in English is because I was present and so somebody translated for me.  I think a bilingual PTA president would have been more practical.  But PTA support in that school was less than pathetic.

Making copies in this current school is different from the first – each teacher is responsible for his or her own paper.  In first grade I would forget and get to the copier and realize I would have to go back to the classroom for paper.  The PTO seemed to have a lot more support in the first two years (in which Jenna attended) than it does now.  I still make copies for teachers but have actually not been involved a whole lot with the PTO until recently.

I haven’t participated actively for almost an entire year because of other pressing matters (namely mom’s dementia) and so just came back to the PTO meeting and I have gotten involved. Ironically my participation at present has to do with the fundraiser.

Jenna likes the idea of  “selling” and is quite competitive when it comes to prizes – or at least she was.  We don’t live in the greatest financially conditioned neighborhood.  Everybody’s struggling just to make ends meet and as the children in the neighborhood attend a tremendous amount of schools, it is not possible to support every single school – and who needs all those “worthless” trinkets anyway?  Or wrapping paper three times the price that one would pay in the store?  Or one dollar chocolate bites? Or expensive cookie dough that actually doesn’t taste all that superior?

Jenna had sold two tubs of cookie dough and two cookie scoopers our first year here.  Of course she was the only one in kindergarten that sold which earned her a price – and they had cool prizes here – way more cool than her first school.  But Roland would have to sell them all in order to get the prize that he truly wanted.  Jenna was happy with the soundmaker keychain. 

Last year there was the option: If you don’t want to buy, you can still donate, and your child would still get his ducks and a ticket for the drawing.  Jenna never did receive her ducks.  And she only got one ticket.  She did beat the odds however.  Her one ticket is the one that was drawn and she received the I-pod Shuffler that had motivated many of the children to go out and sell.  Funny thing, I think she would have rather had the plastic ducks on key chains.

I really like the fundraiser this year and did contribute money wise – but not for the prizes to be won.  This time instead of selling worthless and expensive crap (in which the PTO/PTA receives only a small percentage) why not just skip to the incentive?

This year prizes were donated: scooters, a bike, a summer fun set (includes hula hoop, ball, paddles, bubbles, a kite, etc.) a night at the Hampton (not that the kids care, but the donors might) an I-Pod, an I-Home, gift cards to Lowes or Costco, a Furby, a baby doll (that appeals to our first grade and kindergartners) amoung others.  Five dollars will get you one ticket to enter the drawing of your choice – each additional five dollars will get you two more additional tickets.

I thought Jenna would really want a scooter, but she’d rather have the ball.  So we have tickets in both the scooter drawing and the summer fun set.  And there will still be prizes left that aren’t in the drawing (such as cheesecake and extra kites)

Unfortunately it hasn’t been well advertised or the parents just aren’t getting it, or something.  We haven’t been as busy as we’d like or had the support we would hope to see.  But there haven’t been a lot in the way of volunteers either.  I don’t know why.  Nor do I understand why there isn’t a bigger priority on education or extra curricular learning that the funds aren’t automatically made available. 

I am so grateful for those who take the time to educate our children and for those volunteers who support growth.  I’m grateful to those who are creative enough to come up with great ideas like this one.  I hope it fans out for everybody involved. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

7 reasons why I like Winco

1.  you don't need a membership card to get in

2. nobody asks for your receipt so that they can check it against the items in your cart on the way out

3. the carts are normal size and you don't have to push the cart clear around the parking lot just to
    get it to your car

4. the prices

5. selection

6. I can still purchase things in bulk if I wish

7. It's clean

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Complete Turn-Around

Over two weeks ago I created this post about my continuing struggle with mom and her childish behavior – which is still there – but now in a more positive light.

It was just four days ago when I posted about taking mom to the eye doctors.  It was the day that I left a sign in her room which she now reads on a daily basis and applies it to her life.  I am so completely happy with the results – as we all are – or at least all who have visited during the four days.

Mom is more than just content.  She is happy.  Her conversations with each of us have included involvement and the pluses for living at Alpine Ridge and how going “home” would not be a wise thing – after the entire house would be empty – if it still exists.

It is easier for Corey to hide his smile behind the phone than it is for me to prevent the silent giggle in person.  She told Corey that she gets three meals a day and “they’re all free.  They don’t charge us a thing.”


I remember having “free” things when I was a kid and quite surprised about the billing system and credit cards that took that “free” magic away.  Of course mom will never see the bills or would remember that they do indeed exist.  I suppose she actually could make resident of the month now.  What a complete turn around.  What an incredible change in her behavior.  Gosh – wish we would have all thought to try this sooner.  Wish we would have hung the sign up along with the pictures the day she moved in.

She reads the sign to everybody.  She didn’t make it.  She doesn’t know who did.  But there it is and now it’s a part of her.  She is safe and she is at home.  And she seems to have lost any desire she had to even want to escape.

She told me that she doesn’t even go outside anymore.  But she does.  There are scenic tours scheduled to take place at least twice a week.  At least once a month there is a special outing.  This month they went to the planetarium.

“See, there you are by the moon.” I pointed to a picture.

“Oh, yes.  And I pushed that man in his wheel chair.”

Mom always has assignment for pushing somebody.  Mom is fine physically.  She can walk on her own, shower on her own (though she needs a reminder that she needs to take a shower) and can still answer questions on subjects that were learned before high school.  Sometimes she forgets names but sometimes she remembers. 

I am so grateful to see my mom participate and be happy and can finally allow me leave the facility with an understanding that I’ll be back.  And it’s okay.  She’s where she belongs, and she’s accepted that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

This Blog Could Really Use Some Humor

I really enjoyed reading Katy Pluim’s blog Living Life “Single-Handedly” . She said she was working on creating a new blog – whether she did or not , I don’t know.  The only blog I have is this one which has not been updated since September of last year (over six months ago)  and I have missed her posts and the sweet comments made by her Aunt Pam.

One of the things that Katy created for her posts was “Funny Friday” which featured humorous stories of anyone willing to share.  She used a few that I had sent over – but not these four – which are actually a lot funnier when listening to Corey tell them.  The written words just don’t translate as the verbal expression.

I’m thinking my blog could used something light and funny.  I did get Corey’s permission to share these with Katy.  I also got him permission to post them myself.  May you (the readers) enjoy them as much as I have:

 1.    The Bank Robber                                        

Corey was working with a company called The Costume Closet. During the month of Halloween the employees were asked to dress up.

One day, when he was dressed like a Medieval Crusader, he went to the bank to deposit his paycheck.  The location was was caddy cornered across the street from the Costume Closet –    As long as he was there he had decided to re-order his personal checks as well.

The treatment that he received was very less than professional.  The teller was very cold toward him.  After he finished up with her at the window, he said that he’d like to order checks.

“Well, you’ll have to do it over there,” she said quite curtly as she pointed to the desked area.

Confused by her behavior, Corey politely thanked her and went over to the desk.  Same thing. 

He gave his personal information and said he would like a specific logo or icon to be included on the check.  The bank worker quickly flipped through her book and said that she didn’t have it.

Corey asked if he could look.  He found it and showed it to her, but he still thought her somewhat rude and had showed very unprofessional behavior.  

With his deposit and his ordering accomplished, Corey headed back towards the store.  He noticed a police car following him back to the store and thought “what the heck is going on?”

As he approached the store, the policeman rolled down his window and asked why he was in costume.  Corey informed him that he worked at the costume shop and showed them his name tag, which had both his name and "The Costume Closet" engraved on it.  The police said they had been notified that a costumed individual had been at the bank.  The tellers had been skittish because they had recently been robbed at least twice by people in costumes and masks. 

My brother thought, "Didn't they see my name tag or the company name on my paycheck?"  It was Halloween season, after all. Even so, why would he have then provided his personal information while ordering checks?  Duh.

          2.    Terrorist Attack

It was shortly after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.  Planes had been grounded for nearly a week.  And even after they started running again, not all flights were full because of the after effect that was felt by many individuals.

Corey had taken a flight to Pennsylvania for a friend's wedding and was heading back to Salt Lake City from a long layover in Detroit.  It was the 17th, I believe.  He sat in his assigned seat until the doors closed.  Not even thinking about the events that had recently occurred, Corey moved to an unoccupied seat for convenience, as he had been accustomed to doing prior to 9-11.

Noticing that he was not in his assigned seat, a flight attendant asked him for his boarding pass.  Corey had left it in the baggage compartment above his original seat across the aisle.  The fight attendant told Corey to come with her.  The doors were opened and the two of them exited the plane.  Corey was than interrogated by the entire crew, with the captain taking lead.  They asked his name, proof of his identity, why he'd been flying, how he'd booked his ticket, his career (an actor - that went over well) and so forth.  The flight was held up for at least twenty minutes.

Corey, who is actually quite fair skinned and wearing an American flag pin, was being treated like a potential terrorist. When the issue at hand was finally resolved, Corey was allowed back on the plane.  He sat in his assigned seat and remained there with his eyes on the floor.

After the flight started, the flight attendant said he could move if he would like.  Corey opted to stay in his own seat and kept his eyes down the entire time.

(for a more accurate account and then some, see this post)

                3.      Audition for a Brother

Corey had the opportunity to audition for Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream coat.  While the production itself was to be held at Kingsbury Hall (in Salt Lake) the auditions were being held at a local High School because the musical director was that high school's choir teacher.

So Corey went to the high school.  He got there early because he is always early.  He was asked if he was there for auditions.  He said he was and he was told to fill out an application.

He thought the application was weird – unlike anything he had ever filled out before.  It was asking for things like his GPA.  He filled out the application and went to the theatre to audition.

After his name was called, he presented his music to the piano player and was asked which part he was auditioning for. He answered that he was there to try out for one of the brothers and proceeded with his audition.

After belting out the song he had chosen, the choreographer (or was it the conductor?) said, “You’re not auditioning for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, are you?”

Corey said that he was there to try out for Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream coat.  But since he had been early and had quite a youthful appearance at the time (he was in his early 20’s I believe) it was assumed that he was there to audition for the high school musical try outs that took place before the “Joseph” auditions started.

                         4.        Page’s Lane

Corey had gone up to Centerville to audition for Pages Lane – which he says was the most unprofessional, irreverent environment he has ever gone to for auditioning for anything. 

The play was “The Secret Garden” and he was absolutely certain that every child in Centerville and the surrounding areas had come to audition.  He said the environment was noisy.  No courtesy was shown to those performing (auditioning) and so many were unprepared.

He said one kid auditioned with “Happy Birthday” and several kids after him decided they would like to audition with that also.  One kid sang a cappella and changed keys several times in a song that didn't normally have key changes.  Corey, who’s been acting since he was six, was appalled.  (It is a thousand times funnier to hear Corey tell it)

When Corey got up to audition and sang this beautiful, confident, well-rehearsed song, the room fell silent.  As he shared his frustrating experience with me and my mom (and we were laughing hysterically which was probably not helping) he said he almost wished he would not get a call back because he didn’t think he wanted to work there.  At the same time he would feel offended if he hadn’t been picked because he was obviously prepared.  He did get an offer to be in the choir (he can truly make or break a choir with or without his voice), but turned it down. 

Corey says he should get a job assisting children on the proper way to audition.

Stage Five and Positive Reinforcement

I went out to take mom to the eye doctor.  She was a lot more pleasant than she had been when I took her to the doctor last week.  Instead of sulking and being angry about the circumstance, she was quite overjoyed and quite surprised that I had come – for in her mind West Valley might as well be on the end of the universe.  She thinks I am quite far away from all civilization.  She thinks I must spend all day driving as I am so far away .

Not once did she ask me to take her home but did ask “Where are we going?” and we proceeded to have the same conversation at least ten times before we arrived.

I asked her if she remembered me taking her to the doctor last week.  Of course she didn’t.  I told her that she had been quite mean to me and the doctor.  She apologized and felt just as bad about hurting me as she felt excitement in seeing me this morning.

She was overwhelmed by all the equipment.  She told the doctor (as she had several times during our drives) that her eyes were fine and that she did not need new glasses. 

I covered the smile that formed on my both when she informed the doctor that she reads A LOT – she used to read all the time.  Sometimes she’d have up to three books going at the same time.  Not now.  She will barely read at all. 

And she DOES need glasses.  Her eyes seem to work okay together, but not separately – especially on her right eye.  Her prescription had changed, but I wasn’t going to argue with her about not needing glasses.  We had already been at the doctor’s office too long.  She was anxious to leave.

Could I possibly use the same trick on her that I had used last week when I brought her back to Alpine Ridge?  She actually asked me if that is where I lived.  “No.”

We went inside.  She was greeted by those behind the front desk.  “How was your doctor’s appointment?”

Who were these people and how did they know she had just been to the doctor?

“Do I live here?”  She asked.



“Because  you need consistency.  You need to be safe.  And you have friends here.”

I had hung up a sign for her that let her know that very same thing and that she is home.  Five sentences all written in first person.

She wanted me to sit down and have lunch with her, but I needed to go.  I really wanted to finish hanging pictures in her room.  But I only got four up.  I had a broccoli salad and then I left.  And she was sulking.  But nothing like last week when I had arrived.

Corey and I talked over the phone several times throughout the day.  Corey was talking about the seven stages that one with dementia will go through.  At present she seems to be in the hoarding stage and resorting to a child like mind.  That is stage five.  Probably the funnest stage for the family to go through.

Our final conversation was his report about his latest conversation with mom.  She said that she thought she should stay.  She had lived in the facility before and was back.  She thinks about three years. (It’s been three months – total)

I was so happy to hear that.  We both hope so much that she will go with these feelings and continue to believe she would like to stay and not focus so much on trying to escape.  We will have to more stages to get through.  May God be with us all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Joy of Learning

          I attended a PTO meeting yesterday.  When it was over, the only father who was present was commenting on his son’s vocabulary.  The son had asked him to answer the question about the velocity of something.

          “He actually used the word ‘velocity’ and he’s only in first grade.  What first grader goes around using the word ‘velocity’?”

          I laughed.  My Jenna’s always had quite the large vocabulary.  Even at three there didn’t seem to be any word too sophisticated for her vocabulary.  She thrived on learning not just words and meanings but usually welcomed whatever else came her way.

          Not only did she know how to pronounce the words, but took on meanings as well.  I am reminded of a particular time when she told me that she was going to demonstrate (that’s right – demonstrate) how the armadillo protects himself.

          She puts a silver ball on the floor and says, “Now pretend this is an armadillo” and then backs up a bit and raises her arms in the air and makes an angry face. 
“Now pretend that I am a predator,” she says with her still angry face and creeps toward the ball getting ready to make her pounce.

“Now when the armadillo sees his predator, he will turn himself into a ball,” she then kicks the ball, “and it rolls away.  That is how an armadillo protects itself.” She says matter-of-factly.

          “Oh,” I say with admiration not only of her knowledge, but her ability to turn herself into what I thought looked like a dinosaur.

          Jenna is a sponge.  She soaks up information and enthusiastically shares her knowledge – though I didn’t have to pump her so much for information just a few years back.  She doesn’t go into detail like she did just a few years back.

          Even before she talked, she processed information.  We could never read a book from cover to cover without her stopping every few pages to match the animal in the picture with one of her own stuffed animals, or demonstrate her counting skills, or point to other objects of the same shape and/or color.  She really is a fascinating piece of work.

          Corey was that way, too.  Still is.  Absorbing and processing information and keeping it on file to pull out of his head – usually on demand. He’s always had a rather large vocabulary, too.  Great knowledge and understanding.  And he can speak to almost anybody on his or her own level and use the vocabulary that will most be understood. He could help our baby sister Kayla with any of her school work – except for penmanship.  Mom had specifically requested that Corey not teach Kayla how to write.

          I love the enthusiasm.  I am grateful for those who are excited to learn and to share and assist those of us who aren’t quite as knowledgeable and have smaller vocabularies.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Full Circle

          Moms have many roles – at least mine did.  Teacher, Nurse, Maid, Chauffer, Seamstress, Nurturer . . .

          My mom was raised in San Francisco.  She didn’t learn gardening, but I imagined she learned to cook and launder and “mother” at quite an early age.

          She has two brothers that are younger than she.  When her mom and dad divorced and her mom was forced to return to work, mom and her brother became latch key kids.

          I know my mom assisted her mom in looking after her brothers.  I believe she fixed meals.  I’m sure that she did some light housework.  And she used to iron for other people.  She found it to be fun and enjoyed the small amount of income.

          I don’t know for certain which skills she learned from her mom or if she had picked any of those up at the Sunrise ward she attended in San Francisco.  I know moving from San Francisco to the “outskirts” of Salt Lake City (her words, not mine) was a definite culture shock.

          She had worked for the FBI in San Francisco as a file clerk – and would make it her personal goal to have her desk cleared by the end of the day – knowing it would not last – for the crime rate was high and there was always cases to be pulled and filed away.

          Mom worked for the FBI in Salt Lake City.  So different from San Francisco.  She enjoyed being able to do several jobs and learn more tasks and utilize herself on more than just filing.

          She learned many domestic skills through the Relief Society  -  many of which were probably brand new to her.  She learned to knit, crochet, can and sew among others.  And she took these tasks to heart and really tried to perfect those things which she had learned.

          Mom gave birth to four of us.  She would teach us to learn and help us by introducing us to educational toys and assisting with helping our desires for wanting to learn.

          It seems that we were in the car often as she drove us to swim lessons, my dance and piano lessons, the dentist and the doctor.  It seems she was always driving someone to the doctor.  If it wasn’t one of her children, it was my paternal grandmother. 

          Often we’d rebel if we didn’t feel sick, we didn’t feel the need.  I took her on a follow-up visit with the doctor last week.  She sulked like a child. She didn’t quite throw a tantrum – though the feistiness was there.  She said she wasn’t sick and didn’t see the need.

          Mom had taken several of us to the hospital for one reason or another.  Patrick had a very high fever when he was four.  My dad had had a series of strokes.  She took Ellen to the hospital to see her baby sister born.  And mom drove me to the hospital when I had Jenna.  She also picked me up as I waited on the curb in a wheelchair – nearly nine years before I drove up to the curb to meet her in the wheelchair as mentioned here. 

          Corey made a comment on this post how my mom had cleaned up some of Ellen’s vomit.  Several years later full circle came into effect when Ellen and her husband found mom passed out in her own vomit – and Ellen’s husband cleaned it up.

          She’d driven daddy to the nursing home (found here) because we needed assistance and that is what the insurance would cover.  And Kayla drove her to an assisted living facility which is really a lot brighter and way more cheerful than where dad had to live – though he was not for long. 

         My dad hated where he was at. We did too.  We didn’t like the place at all.  Mom really had a hard time with it; it wasn’t something she wished to do. But it was necessary.   None of us wished to put mom in assisted living – to put her in a place where the doors would remain locked and she will never know the code – but it is necessary.

Some days mom is happy.  Sometimes she wanders around in hopes of escaping.  She clutches her purse full of “treasures” that will make some family members laugh.  And she remembers the laughter.  At least she did yesterday morning.  I would like to see her happy all the time.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Scrapbook Art: HECTOR THE COLLECTOR by Shel Silverstein

Hector the Collector
Collected bits of string,
Collected dolls with broken heads
And rusty bells that would not ring.
Pieces out of picture puzzles,
Bent-up nails and ice-cream sticks,
Twists of wires, worn-out tires,
Paper bags and broken bricks.
Old chipped vases, half shoelaces,
Gatlin’ guns that wouldn’t shoot,
Leaky boats that wouldn’t float
And stopped-up horns that wouldn’t toot.
Butter knives that had no handles,
Copper keys that fit no locks,
Rings that were too small for fingers,
Dried-up leaves and patched-up socks.
Worn-out belts that had no buckles,
‘Lectric trains that had no tracks,
Airplane models, broken bottles,
Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.
Hector the Collector
Loved these things with all his soul‹
Loved them more than shining diamonds,
Loved them more than glistenin’ gold.
Hector called to all the people,
“Come and share my treasure trunk!”
And all the silly sightless people
Came and looked…and called it junk.

                                                                                                  Shel Silverstein
I used to collect all of these things for my scrapbook.
Used to collect.  Thought it was necessary.
How happy I am to say I really don't need it -
not that I ever did

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Don’t Foresee Mom as Resident of the Month

          Alice Walker is a sweet lady who likes to sort things.  She sorts buttons and shamrocks and hats and hearts and whatever other craft is offered.  She’ll talk to anyone who will ask her questions.  I don’t know how long she’s been in the assisted living program – or if she was once as resistant as my own mother.  But she seems like a very go-with-the flow person right now.  She was spotlighted last month at the assisted living center where my mom has lived for almost two months. 

          Mom’s personality is very different from Alice’s.  At least right now it is.  Mom seems very anti-social – though I know she’s made friends there – or at least one friend.  Someone she says is her friend. 

          On Wednesday she introduced me to her friend Marilyn – although when I referred to her as Marilyn today, mom said that didn’t sound right.  I don’t know.  

           In her mind mom has two LaTieshas – or at least she did today.  The other one lives quite near to the facility and she could walk to LaTiesha’s house and hopefully LaTiesha will allow her to stay.  She’s not quite certain that she would want to live with me because I live so far away – I might as well live in another state.

          I went out today with the intention of unpacking her belongings (she has filled her laundry basket and at least two tote bags full of clothes and pictures that she would like to take with her) while she was out with the group on their scenic tour and was waiting in the parking lot until the bus pulled out – only the van wasn’t there.  When I saw the activities director, I asked her about it. I was told that the bus driver’s mother recently passed away and I understood that the funeral would be today.

          So I went inside to visit.  I noticed mom walking passed the glass doors – trying to escape, no doubt.  Only she didn’t have her coat on.  She didn’t have any of her bags, just her purse. She didn’t ask me if I had come for her.  She just told me her plans.  Told me that she was going to walk to LaTiesha’s.

          “I am LaTiesha,” I said.
          “No, my other LaTiesha.”

          Oh, two identical houses.  Two identical daughters. Or perhaps we’re not identical at all.  Apparently the other one is a lot nicer.  Apparently the other one isn’t a bully who doesn’t care that mom isn’t happy.  Apparently the other LaTiesha is the only one of mom’s children who isn’t against her.

          We talked about Shirley Temple – just so I could get her in a more pleasant mood.  I think she said they were friends - or had been at one time. The activities director knocked on the door and asked us to join them.  I tried three times to get mom to leave and go out to socialize.  I finally excused myself to say I would go participate.  And then I had a coughing spell.  I ended up leaving.  I hadn’t even said good-bye.  The other LaTiesha wouldn’t have said good-bye either.  She would have extended her hand toward mom and said, “Let’s walk to my house now.”

          I miss my mom.  I hope the person that she’s become will find comfort where she’s at and will be happy and sociable again.  I hope she can find a “happy-go-lucky” kind of a personality like Alice has.  I hope she won’t be as upset with the other LaTiesha as she has been with me.  Though I don’t guess it would really matter as the other LaTiesha exists only in her mind.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oh, My! What a Day!

After a month of being cooped up due to illness, I finally went out to see my mom.  I still have a cough and probably should not be around the elderly.  This morning she had a doctor’s appointment.

Kayla was supposed to take mom to the doctor's - and had actually been planning on it for two months now.  I said I would go out to Kearns to be with her two kids while she took mom. But because of unwelcome circumstances on Kayla's end (her car and the plumbing), I ended up taking mom. 

When I arrived at the facility, I found her in a rather foul mood.  She was waiting for someone to take her home.  Had her bags packed and ready to go.  I said that we wouldn’t be leaving for another 45 minutes at least.  She asked why we couldn’t just go NOW.

I told her that we would have to spend even longer waiting in the doctor’s office.  That did not go over very well.  She was expecting to go home.  She assured me that she did not need to go to the doctor and that we should just leave and I should take her home.

I told her that I was not in a great mood myself and that we should say a prayer before we left. I told her that we would have to come back for her stuff as I'd just be taking her to the doctor's and didn't have room in my car for all of her things.  Of course I did, but by the time we got all the way from the building to the one row of cars parking lot, she forgot to take notice or at least mention it.

Of course the entire trip was a repeated conversation about "Where are we going?"  "Why can't you just take me home?"  "I feel fine.  I don't NEED to go to the doctors” Of course once we arrived, we had to wait – which made her all the antsier.  She was irate with me and I just wasn’t in the mood for her childish behavior though I did try to stay calm and remind her that she had taken us to the doctor many times when “we weren’t sick” – actually she had taken my Grandma Helen now that I think about it.  If I was to remind her, I wonder if she would even remember.  Probably not.

Mom was actually very pleasant with the staff and willingly obeyed what they asked of her: remove her coat, step on the scale, lift her arm up, etc.

I had called Corey - not to ask him to hold her hand - but to get some information about seeing the eye doctor and other treatments.  Mom was holding a clip board and trying to process the information.  I said I could help her if she'd like.  She yanked the clip board away from me and told me she could do it.  

When she was talking to Corey (she had decided that maybe she did need my assistance with the form after all and so I had traded the cell phone for the clip board) her coat had dropped to the floor.  She told him that I had thrown it there.

While Corey kept her occupied, I wrote a note to the doctor saying that even if she was experiencing physical problems it wasn't greatly known as her dementia seems to take all of that away. It doesn’t seem she can remember things for more than two seconds anymore.

The doctor asked her the questions and kept his eyes on her, the patient – and then mom would look at me to answer for her and then get upset when I continued.  And she was actually just as irate with the doctor who was being just as intrusive as we (her children) were.  But especially me.  Mom’s has had it in for me for over a year now.

We went to the lab so the doctor could check her blood and urine.  We finished up before lunch and so I took her back to the community and she asked where we were going.

"To get you something to eat” I kept on saying.

When I turned into the Alpine Ridge parking lot she read the sign.  "Alpine Ridge.  Assisted Living.  What are we doing here?"

"This is where you're going to eat."  I said - waiting for her to get upset with me.

"Oh.  It just doesn't look like a restaurant."

She made a comment about the flowers and the wind and how the flowers looked like they would blow away.

I opened the front door of the building.  She still didn't say anything.  She stopped at the second door and happily read a sign about an upcoming Easter egg hunt.  Oh, yes.  Kayla had told me about that.  It was an RSVP and I hadn’t RSVP’d. 

I opened the second door.  Some of the residents had been seated already but they hadn't started eating.

"Oh, look.  That's Marilyn," she said as she went toward one of the residence.  "Can we sit next to Marilyn?  She's my friend."  

I was so happy to hear mom say that – although Marilyn looked oblivious to our existence or the surroundings.  I didn't think that was mom’s assigned table, but I allowed her to sit in the empty seat next to Marilyn. Mom patted the chair next to her and asked me to sit.  

"I have to go back to the front desk."  I actually wouldn't mind eating with her, but the dining area doesn't seem too roomy when all the residence are sitting down to eat.

I really did need to go to the front desk to put in my RSVP. Then I slipped out - grateful that the return was not at all painful and that she was actually happy and forgot about being at the doctor or trying to escape.

It's too bad I didn't think about returning to her room before I made my escape.  I could have returned everything to the closet or to the walls.  Perhaps next time I can just sneak in during lunch – I’ll have to wear a disguise or something – or bring someone with me who can keep her occupied while I hang up her clothes and return pictures to the wall.  Or maybe I could entertain while Sunny or Kayla “unpack” – and then when we take her back to her room she won’t figure it out right away.  When the packed items are left by her bed, it’s only a reminder for her that she would like out.

Life makes a full circle.