Showing posts with label Harold. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harold. Show all posts

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saying Good-Bye to Mom's Angel

I wondered which one of us (me or my brother Corey) would post about Harold first.  I came up with most of these thoughts and typed them in by 1:00 am this morning - but only drafted it as I had no title.

Last year we (my sibs and I) put mom into an assisted living program as she was in need of 24/7 care.  This time last year she was trying to escape.  She wore her coat and carried her purse and would walk around the doors and windows of the facility – looking for a way out.  She wasn’t happy there – not all the time anyway.

By mid April, mom had accepted her new home and was reading everything she could get her hands on.  She didn’t retain anything.  But she did read.

I don’t think it was until May when she developed an attraction to Harold and soon the two became inseparable.  I find it interesting that Corey created this post on June 3.  Mom has a boyfriend.  And just one month later I created this post indicating that he was not.  Depending on her mood.

Actually, I don’t ever recall mom referring to Harold as her boyfriend.  That was more from our point of view.  It really depended on mom’s mood and the turn of events that took place each day.

Harold had known that mom was diabetic and was not supposed to have sugar.  And some days he’d scold her or strongly advice against satisfying her “sugar eating desire” Those were the days when she would not even acknowledge Harold as a friend.  He became “that guy” – an intrusive resident. 

Other days (I’m finding in most cases) mom was infatuated so much that she would rather remain in the company of Harold than to have to leave him in order to visit with one of us.  Corey lovingly wrote this post about feeling like “second fiddle” – but not really.  It did seem somewhat comical at times.

In the beginning, Harold was just “an old man – old enough to be mom’s father” or so she’d say.  I figured there were probably a good number of years between them – nothing that drastic however.  I had asked Harold his age and learned it was a twelve-year difference.  The same as with my sister and her husband.

By August mom was beaming while telling people about her friend, Harold.  In her mind they were only five years apart.  I find it interesting that her mind had gone from one extreme to another in only two months.  For each month she lived there, she fully believed it had been another year.

Harold was quite bent over.  For the most part when I saw him, he was wearing blue scrubs.  He was very positive and always wore a smile on his face.  He and my mom were so very happy to have one another.  Funny how they never sat together for meals.  Except for mealtime, rarely was one ever seen without the other.

On September first, after mom was found upon the floor and rushed to the hospital, the staff told Harold to get rid of all of his candy.  Harold blamed himself for mom’s condition.  But it wasn’t his fault.  A few fun-sized candy bars would not have made her blood count go that high.  Two truckloads of candy would probably not have made her blood sugar go that high.

We thought she would die in the hospital.  Harold had made arrangements for one of his sons to bring him to the hospital to see her.  He was all decked out in suit and tie.  He came in to visit with mom and held her hand and talked to her with his loving voice. 

Mom didn’t wish to die in the hospital.  She wanted to return to the assisted living.  She lay in her room in a hospital bed and Harold would come to visit – knowing she would pass.  He was ever so gentle with her.  He loved her. And she him.

When he wasn’t in her room, he would visit with Joh and tell him things about his relationship with my mom.  Joh said it was my mom’s desire for she and Harold to wed and maybe have a child together.  Harold had reminded her that they both had spouses already.

At the funeral he rushed to the casket for one last good-bye.  I had never seen Harold move so quickly.  It was also the straightest I had ever seen his posture.

After she died, Harold tried to return to living without her.  He wanted to smile and help with the residents the way he had before.  And he did . . . for a while.  But in time the smile faded.  He missed mom!  There was no doubt about it.

Corey would call him.  Kayla and I would visit on occasion.  Jenna and I would take the bus.  We may have stopped when we no longer had bus passes.  But I would write to him and call him and let him know we would come see him when the weather cleared.

I thought we could go during Jenna’s Valentine/Presidents Day holiday – unfortunately she got sick.  And I am currently with my annual February sinus infection.  I planned to call him when my head cleared.  I guess there’s no sense in calling.  His daughter-in-law called me and told me that Harold is now on hospice.  That is a good thing really. 

The last two times that Jenna and I did visit was heart breaking.  Harold seemed so bent to the floor that it appeared his head was nearly in alignment with his feet.  He was banged up in different places each time we would visit.  He had taken I don’t know how many spills.  He would walk us to the door but he had slowed down.  But he’s going to be whole again pretty soon.  And he will finally be able to meet dad.  He and mom can have a reunion and the two couples can have a party.  It will be great!

I’m sorry that Harold declined so much after my mom passed.  I am sorry he became so sad.  He really didn’t enjoy living there.  And now he won’t have to anymore.  Thank you, Harold, for befriending mom and for allowing her to experience the joy.  May you share some great moments in the afterlife as well.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

East and West and Harold

Ever since I have given up driving, I haven’t made the time to go out and see Harold – mom’s boyfriend of five months or so – though I have written to him.  I sent the last letter on the first.  He just got it yesterday.

Jenna happened to be off on Friday, and I found a way on public transportation that would get us close to Alta Ridge.  But our pass expired on the 31st and I wouldn’t be able to get a new one until Roland got paid.  Jenna suggested that we go visit him after I picked her up from school on Thursday – but I knew that unless Roland was willing to pick us up from Alta Ridge that we would never make it home before him.  He told us to wait on our visiting Harold.

It was really too bad as the weather was so awesome on the 31st.  It was snowing when we left the house yesterday.  Jenna and I both wore our snow boots, It turns out we really didn’t need them.

By the time I left Jenna at her school it had stopped snowing and the sun was showing its brightness.  I put my sunglasses on and headed towards the bus stop where I got off.  But I continued in the same direction.

I took the bus to the train station and got off at another to board a bus that would take me to the east side.  I grew up on the east side and so recognized all of the locations we passed.  I really do miss that area and the familiarities that I had become accustomed to over the years.

The distance from the bus stop to Alta Ridge is not a bad walk in awesome weather – I bet it’s a bear in foul weather though.  Desa – the assisted living activities director- takes the bus to work on a daily basis.  She knows what routes will get her where and shared information on two different methods.

I was talking to Harold when his mail was delivered.  That’s how I know he received it yesterday.  I think he is going bonkers living there as he is easily annoyed by the elderly–childish behavior and having to repeat things as only a few of them can retain information for more than a minute. Mom would tend to repeat herself, but she took him on journeys through her descriptions – I guess.  He said that she had taken him to the house where she used to live.  I knew that wasn’t right and couldn’t believe he was telling me that.
He said that she had been excited to show him her bedroom as she was really proud of it.  He said he wasn’t impressed and that somebody had really let the place go – especially the yard.  I told him that it was not the same house where I had taken her to for the last time in January – the house I grew up in.  For my niece and her husband had been living there and had actually taken better care of it than she had. 

I told him that I didn’t know what he was talking about.  Maybe he had a dream and hasn’t been able to differentiate between having dreamed it and having it taken place for real.  I know for a fact that it wasn’t real.  Mom had a lousy sense of direction – even before the dementia.  And really, how would they have gotten out anyway?  Or gotten to where the house supposedly was? He didn’t have an explanation for that part.

After my visit, I thought I would give Desa’s alternative route a try, but then realized that I was hungry.  And I had to cross the street by Arby’s if I went back the way I came. And it just so happened to be Roland’s lunch time and he is not that far from Alta Ridge.  So I called him.

He was excited and really wanted to be with me – said he’d come pick me up, but he was on the phone with a student FOREVER.  Seriously. Three buses had come and gone.  I should have just crossed the street after purchasing my sandwich instead of returning for another sandwich and two drinks – one of which I ended up throwing away.  Not to mention that I had waited for over an hour. I really should have known better. I definitely will next time.

So by the time I was almost home, Roland was STILL on the phone (same student) and I was just shaking my head.  By the time I returned home I had less than an hour before I had to leave to get Jenna – but my socks kept on sliding off my feet and into my boots (My feet are between sock sizes – Jenna’s fit, but they’re tight.  The heels of “ladies” socks are usually always longer than my own.  They never fit right – and so I often have all this extra fabric in my shoes) and so I did want to change into sneakers before I continued on my journey. 

The bus comes every half hour and so I can arrive at Jenna’s school a half hour early or ten minutes late.  Last month I went for the half hour early.  That actually annoyed Jenna who has always preferred dawdling and specifically asked me yesterday morning: “Can you please take the bus that gets you there ten minutes late?”  
Okay then.  No more waiting for her for 30 – 40 minutes in the cold.  I can deal with it.  But Roland actually beat us home today.  Don’t know how well that’s going to work out.  I think I’m just going to have to crock pot dinner each day.

It feels like I’d spent most of the day on the bus or the train or waiting.  It didn’t seem like it had been that long.  Though it might have felt longer had I not been reading.  I may not have been the wisest with my time but overall I thought it was a really nice day.  And though I felt like I had wasted both time and money waiting for Roland and that Roland too, was disappointed about not having made the opportunity to see me, Harold and Desa had both expressed gratitude.  I guess it’s all just what I wish to focus on.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Angels Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Many of the staff members referred to him as “the Lady Killer” which I thought was a euphemism for womanizer.  Until he started telling me of his other “love interests” who had each passed away (and now mom) I didn’t realize that “Lady Killer” was really a metaphor for “the Angel of Death” I asked him if he was.  He just laughed.

He said there was one he developed an interest in before mom – but she wasn’t ready to die and chose not to go with him.  But when he found my mom he found her true beauty.  They were inseparable – until the fall . . .

He knew she was dying.  And Madge knew.  The only two residents that are fully aware and haven’t seemed to slip into any kind of dementia stage.  Apparently they had both been in other facilities but felt overwhelmed and asked the family to put them somewhere smaller.

Madge’s family had put her there due to her constant falling.  She knows the code.  She says all one has to do is stand and watch and they can figure it out.  They can if their minds work like hers does.  But even Harold’s is slipping.  He’s still sharp.  And he cares deeply for my mom.  He’s also been aware that it was time to let go.

He is an angel – he made mom so happy.  He was a godsend - watching not over mom – but several of the residence.  Pulling the cord for them to call for assistance when needed.  Watching out for others.  Helping others feel better about themselves.

Like Yoda, he needs an assistance to help him walk. He uses a walker with built in seat.  Beneath his seat he stores things such as pictures and dog treats.  He used to store candy but was told to get rid of it after the fall.  When mom was found on the floor with a blood count of 399.  It wasn’t Harold’s fault. But it wasn’t known at the time.

I don’t know what his true height is.  I suspect that even if he was straightened out, he’d still be shorter than mom.  Corey made the comment that he just didn’t think Harold was someone that mom would choose to hang with pre dementia.

The family would like to thank you, Harold.  You made my mom happy.  She really did like living there. You truly are an angel.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Harold’s Bucket List

The other day I went to see my mom.  There were several senior citizens gathered around the TV ready to watch Harold’s recorded plane ride.  He had ridden on a bi-plane just a couple of years ago.  His ride was filmed from the ground.  The camera man had lost the plane for just a few minutes.  Sometimes the CD itself would freeze.  Harold told us that when the plane was out of view that is when it would be doing its loop-to-loops.  I don’t think so.

He also would like to ride a glider and jump out of an airplane.  The jumping will not take place.  His doctor says he’s in good enough health – but Harold is hunched over and if he lands the wrong way it could paralyze him.  So realistically he has decided not to attempt that one.  He would still like to ride on a glider though.

I learned that his last name is Mull as Desa (the activities coordinator) kept on calling him Mr. Mull – which I thought was odd as I have always heard her address every other resident by his or her first name.

I went over to sit with my mom.  I sat in a hard chair and mom sat in the couch next to me.  And then someone moved Harold to my other side.  I offered to trade mom places, but she said that was okay. 

Harold took my hand and then laughed about it as he looked over at mom and realized that she was not attached to the hand he had grabbed.  Mom introduced me to him for the umpteenth time and said she had decided to trade places after all.  The couch was comfortable to sleep in, but not to sit up and watch a movie.  It didn’t seem conducive for senior citizens – perhaps they’d been brought in for the visitors?

Harold took out a piece of candy to give to Jenna.  Mom ate it.  I don’t think Harold noticed.  He usually expresses concern as my mom is diabetic.  He lovingly scolds her and she gets upset and that is the point in which Harold becomes “That Guy” but when he’s affectionate without sounding preachy, he becomes Harold again.  Thus I can always tell whether she is on the outs with him or not.

When the DVD’s and slide show had ended, we all went back to mom’s room – Harold included.  We visited for a bit – though Harold seemed to be doing the majority of talking. Desa says that someone picks Harold up every Thursday to take him to his guitar lessons.  How I admire that.  I hope that when I get to be his age I am still actively involved.

Jenna and I were just getting ready to leave when Desa announced that they were playing Bingo and Jenna wanted to stay for that. Harold doesn’t like to play Bingo but sometimes mom will play and so he will play because mom is.  Neither one of them wanted to play Bingo while we were there.  But Jenna did.  So Jenna and I used the cards that were assigned to mom and Harold. 

Nellie wandered in and Desa invited her to sit down, but Nellie is NOT happy to be there.  She sat only because her back’s been bothering her.  Gradually Jenna became bored and we left. I could sense Nellie getting ready to jump up to follow us out.  Her physical condition slowed her down and Jenna and I were able to get away.

Poor Nellie.  Her situation is so much like my own mom when she first arrived.  Except for Nellie is further gone.  But she wants to escape like my mom once did. She’s not packed however.  Or has her purse in hand.  I wonder if the day will come when Mom and Alice realize that they don’t need their purses anymore.

Mom’s purse is heavy.  It always has been.  Once it was keys that made it heavy.  I have no clue what’s in there right now.  And except for a couple of items, mom has no clue what’s in there either.  But as long as she has it, I know she’s still in stage five.  When I see mom without her purse, I’ll know that stage seven will soon be on its way.  NOT looking forward to that at all.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Look at Change

            Mom embellished on her “sky-diving” story – a bit with the realization that jumping out of an airplane is something she would never do.  In this version it was from a commercial airline with mechanical problems.  Mom said she didn’t want to, but it was the crew that had forced all of the passengers to jump.

          Harold told his story about going up in a stunt plane that did loop-to-loops.  They had fastened video cameras to each wing and had one in the cockpit.  This filmed every move that was made and then the three films were spliced together.  Harold said he had it on video tape.  But that it does tend to make most people sick when they watch it because it’s like being there.

            Corey had explained to the family that there are seven stages of dementia and that mom is in stage five.  I’m guessing Madge must only be in one or two.  Maybe it was her idea to check herself in so that she would get used to the place – so her children wouldn’t have to go through what we have gone through – to the same degree.  I don’t know.  I’d still like to have a visit with Madge and ask her questions that are actually none of my business.

            Nellie is a brand new residence.  I’m thinking she is in stage 6 as she seems further gone than mom but not as far gone as Lydia or Georgette.  Harold may just be in stage 4 and maybe starting stage 5 but I don’t know.  I’m really not as familiar with dementia as perhaps I should be.

            Corey has always been a walking encyclopedia.  I don’t know that he has an actual photographic memory, but I think it’s close.  He’s really well read.  He constantly researches matters at hand.  I think his brain holds more information than the average human being.

            The other day I joined my mom and my brother, Patrick, his wife, Sunny and their son-in-law, Nate for a pioneer barbeque.  We crowded around an outside table with mom and Harold.  I ended up giving him my plate and went back for another one as I thought it would be easier.

            Food was good.  Company was good.  The plate I had made for myself was really too large for Harold. It’s a wonder he ate as much as he did.

            After lunch had ended, we said our good-byes to Nate, Patrick and Sunny.  I told mom I would go back to her room to visit with her some more, but first I had to run out to the car for something.

           Upon my return, Nellie clung onto me.  “Are you almost ready to go?” she asked.  She was asking as though she was expecting to go with me.

           “Well, I came here to see my mom.”  I told her, wondering where her family might be and if I actually resembled someone she knows. 

          I made my way back to the court yard with Nellie only inches behind me. 

           “How are you doing Nellie” I heard someone say. 

           I hadn’t actually known what her name was until then.  I introduced her to mom and Harold and asked if they were all acquainted.  None were and Harold and mom didn’t seem interested in the least.  Actually, neither did Nellie.  She was anxious to be leaving – I don’t think she even cared who with. But then she would also stop at each chair and sit down as her back was hurting her.

Her personality screamed volumes that she was a resident there.  I hadn’t remembered seeing her before I didn’t think.  I hadn’t.  As it turned out she had just moved in the day before. My mom all over again.  Confused at being there and trying to escape.

I think Nellie is in worse shape than my mom.  But Harold seems a little more with it in the mind. Maybe not.  I think mom and Harold’s stories were both a little out there when I was visiting the time before.

It’s interesting to look at Madge and think, “My mom was there at one time.” And then to look disheartened upon Lydia and Georgette and think, “and that is where she will be someday”

Her rapid movement from stage to stage doesn’t seem as rapid since she’s been at an assisted living program and is monitored from day to day and has a better schedule there than the four of us were trying to provide for her at home.

Dementia stages are a chiasmus to our birth to death.  We start out totally dependent.  Someone else has to feed us and change our clothes and bathe us and clean up after us. 

We learn to walk and talk and learn and collect things.  We make discoveries.  But still we need guidance to keep us safe – someone to make certain that eat, reminding us to put on our coats and shoes, and stop us from climbing or wandering near something that could be potentially dangerous to our health.

Eventually we grow into teenagers who think they know it all and don’t wish to be told what to do.  We would like our independence and treat guidance like interference.  We still need someone to teach us how to drive, save money, make wise choices, etc.

The older we grow, the wiser our parents become – until we are the caregivers due to dementia.  Their wise words are only memories and may somehow be twisted in their heads.  Eventually they go through stages.  They rebel.  They hoard.  Sometimes they wander into danger.

Eventually they forget how to walk and talk.  They forget.  They become like newborns and are dependent on someone else to feed them, clothe them, bathe them and make sure they are kept safe.

Full Circle

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Apparently He's NOT her Boyfriend

Today I read a conversation that took place between Corey and my mom.  She's upset that the workers at the facility seem to be sticking their noses into her affairs.  She wants her privacy and doesn't want the world watching her through open windows or open doors.  Therefore she keeps the blinds closed and leaves the door to her bedroom closed because she doesn't want anybody watching her.  Those who do are perverts.  And she swears when she returns to her room to find her blinds have been open.  Evidently she used the word "damn" in almost every sentence she said to Corey this afternoon.

Evidently Harold is NOT her boyfriend.  He is an old man.  Mom doesn't even call him Harold anymore.  He is that guy.  He is old enough to be her father - so she says.  I learned that he is twelve years older. 

Mom is on the younger end of those who reside at assisted living.  Harold's physical health seems to be far worse than mom's - but mentally he may be there - I don't mean totally.  Not like Madge.  But I think he retains things better than mom.  He understands when the staff knocks at the door and says that she has a phone call that she will be talking to Corey.  He understands that Corey is her son.  He remembered her birthday and somehow made arrangements for getting her this:


Sunny and Corey have been worried about mom being alone with Harold and have asked the staff to keep on eye on them.  But mom doesn't like it.  According to her it's not as if they would be doing anything such as making out.  She hasn't kissed him any differently than she might kiss her own father.  She hates the idea of someone treating her like a child.

She doesn't know that Corey made this request.  She doesn't know that Corey sent a letter to the driver's license division over a year and a half ago so that they could be the bad guys and he wouldn't jeapordize his relationship with her so that she would be/is angry with him.  (Correction made in comments)

I know that there have been a few instances when even his name was on her black list.  It has always been temporary however.  I doubt that his "golden child" image will ever be tarnished permanently.  At least I hope not.  We need strong ties somewhere.

Lately I feel like my name has been removed from the black list as well - but that's only when I'm visiting.  I don't know if she tells people I haven't been around much.  I do, after all, live in another city.  But not in those far away mountains like Kayla does.  Or so she believes.  Except for Corey, we all live approximately the same distance from mom - though we're all spread out in different directions. 

Mom just turned 74.  Anna's birthday is coming up soon.  She will be 3.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two More Poems

Whenever the Wind Blows

When I fall asleep
I sleep quite hard
Whenever the wind blows

Slumber invites me
Into worlds beyond this one
When I fall asleep

My eyelids become heavy
My thoughts are put on hold
Whenever the wind blows

My husband can’t believe
How quickly I drift off
When I fall asleep

How the trees dance
And leaves often fall
Whenever the wind blows

There’s a calm cool breeze
That surrounds me but I miss it
When I fall asleep
Whenever the wind blows
Assisted Living

Bent over

Bent over


Monday, May 27, 2013

A Little Romance . . .

I went to Alpine Ridge where mom is staying.  I was surprised to see Harold sitting on her bed and visiting with her.  He was saying that he has six boys – while mom has only four children – two girls and two boys.  But she claims to have a lot more pictures than Harold.

I told her I had come to take her to a family dinner – but we had time to visit before we left.  Jenna’s eyes lit up when Harold mentioned Peanut Brittle.  He said he had been in a place before this one and they let him make peanut brittle in the microwave.  But one day the microwave started smoking and they never let him in the kitchen again.  And then he had to move.

Jenna absorbed it all – hanging on to his every word.  I decided that his mind works the same as mom’s and his time frame is different as well as some of his facts.  He said he wanted to take mom flying – not that he’s a pilot.  He wouldn’t be driving the plane, but would like to take mom up just the same.  He doesn’t know when, but it will be in Heber.  He asked me if that would be okay.  I said Sure.

Roland was coming straight from work, and I had asked him to meet us at Alpine Ridge so we could just take one car and return for the other when we brought mom back. He called from the parking lot when we arrived and asked us to come out.

So mom said her good-byes to me and Jenna. 
“But you’re going with us,” I said.
“But I have company.”

Fortunately Harold excused himself and said it was okay if she needed to go.  I reminded mom that her living brother would had come for a visit and would be joining us as well as Corey and Joh.  She was willing to leave Harold for Corey - afterall he is her favorite.

So Harold adjusted himself bent over his walker, and mom stood up and they kissed.  It was cute.  Reminded me of Jenna’s first day of Pre-school when she and Paul were holding hands.

I don’t think they’re more than just friends, but it was interesting to watch.