Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We Might as Well Just Write a Book!

          I went to several assisted living facilities by myself during November and December.  Many facilities would say they had no room but that we could get on a waiting list.  That seemed okay as my brothers weren’t looking to move her until maybe June or July.

At each location I was asked, “Does your mom need assistance with the shower?”

          “She can shower by herself.”  She could.  Two months ago.  Even just two weeks ago.  And then she’d forget to use soap.  And then she would just forget.

          Last Tuesday I created this post.  It was a good day for her.  It turned out to be the last good day at home.  Her home.  The one she has lived in for the last 50 plus years but has forgotten.  We’re moving her into assisted living.  I don’t know when.  It should have been a lot sooner in my opinion.

          Last week she was smiling.  Giggling.  That’s right – giggling.  And she called me crazy.  We had fun.  And then her friend called.  And she was alert enough to know who she was talking to.  I don’t know how soon after I left that she became withdrawn.  Disconnected.

          On Thursday she was almost in a stupor – though not quite.  She would answer my questions.  “No, I don’t want to do it”  “Not right now”  “I don’t know why I’m so tired . . .”

          I had suggested (several times) for her to lie down.  I did give her drinks from the fridge. Perhaps not enough.  The next two days were nightmarish for Nate and Ellen as mom would pass out which in turn would freak Ellen. 

          Newlyweds shouldn’t be in that position to take care of a grandma that rapidly declines.  Sunday morning was really bad for Ellen especially, who had found grandma in soiled sheets and apparently her room reeked.

          Patrick and Sunny took her to the hospital that morning.  It sounds like they all missed Church as Nate and Ellen had gone with them.  Apparently they were in the emergency room for what felt like forever – other cases were given a higher priority.

          When they did finally call mom back, only two people were allowed to go with her.  That ended up being Patrick – the only one of the four who has power of attorney, and Nate, who has been acting as mom’s care giver in Corey’s place.  Sunny and Ellen returned home and Sunny started in with phone calls to the rest of mom’s children.

          I had just barely started my lesson when the first phone call came.  A frantic caller as the person on the other end called three times.  When the lesson was over, I returned the call to my sister who related the events.

          I went to Kayla’s ward right after attending the meetings at ours.  Kayla had told me she was speaking.  I was sooooo glad that I went as she did an awesome job. 
While the sacrament was being passed, my phone went off again.  Fortunately it had been on vibrate all day and no one aside from Jenna and I seemed to notice.

          Sunny finally got a hold of Bill (Kayla’s husband) who has been through hospital administration many times with his first wife.  He’s got a deeper insight and understanding than the rest of us would like to experience.  But here we are.  Mom is in the hospital.  Quite confused.  Disoriented.  But happy.  Positive.
Or so I heard. 
          I was told to talk to a social worker about getting mom moved over to one of these facilities (there’s one we like that actually has an opening right now)  I was there for five hours yesterday before the social worker arrived. 

          At first glance he didn’t seem legitimate.  For me personally, he seemed to come across as a patient from the psychiatric ward – a happy go lucky fellow with mussed up hair.

          I was told that she’d probably be released today.  Really? But we need another day at least.

          Sunny picked up a packet from the assisted living.  A large packet.  She said there were over 35 pages to be filled out and that there was no way she and Patrick would be able to get it done just by themselves in the allotted time frame.
          So Roland and I went out to mom’s house to assist with the paperwork.  We Skyped Corey and fired questions at him.  We could see him, but evidently he could not see us. 

          For the most part we were laughing.  Corey came across like one of those old Japanese movies in which the lips are not in sync with what’s being said.  And when it came to personal questions – do we say how it really was or provide today’s reality which is only about 40% truth.

          Mom really has been to Europe and Greece, Alaska and Hawaii.  But in her mind she’s also been to Egypt, South Africa, Russia and China (to name a few)  Provide the name of any state and she claims she’s been there – usually just for the day.  And usually she drove.  She’s been to a quarter of the states at best.  She’s never been to Asia or many other places she’s claimed.  She was not driving when she was fourteen.

          It’s funny.  Mom has no clue why she was at the hospital – even after we told her.  She doesn’t retain information.  Corey had asked why she was in the hospital.  Her answer amused both me and Corey.

          She said (over the phone), “I’m not sick or anything – I had to come to take a shower.  And it’s here so I have to be here”

          Yet when “Everybody Loves Raymond” showed on TV, she was able to relate the events that were about to happen.  How is that even possible?  I mean, I know she’s seen it again and again.  It just floored me that she seemed to have it memorized.

          She’s worried about her purse.  She often will look for it while she’s home.  Once she finds it, she can relax – until she’s forgotten and has to search for it again.  It has become a part of her the way the cell phone has become a surgically implanted part of many people or a security blanket a child may drag around and refuse to part with.

          I don’t know where she’ll wake up tomorrow.  They say it takes a couple of days to process the paperwork.  We’re really not ready for her to be leaving the hospital today.  The transition will be so much easier if we didn’t have to take her back to her house. 

          Don’t guess I will know for a while yet.  Perhaps I’ll have be able to post more tomorrow.  Hopefully I will be too busy with transition to make the post.  We’ll see.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

There’s a Dead Animal on My Head

          In 1995 Paramont brought back the Brady Bunch.  A movie spoofing the TV series that has never been nominated for any kind of award, but has been in sindication for the last forty years.  The Brady Bunch Movie: a guilty pleasure for those who had watched every episode time and time again.

          If one had not seen any episodes of the TV series, it was perhaps the lamest show ever.  But for those who grew up watching the Brady Bunch and practically had every scene memorized, it was a dang funny movie.

          I remember going over to the mall with mom.  We had purchased our tickets and were standing in line – the ONLY line – the line for the Brady Bunch movie.  I don’t recall a neon sign above our heads informing any passer-by what movie we were in line to see.  But I did notice several individuals in line looking around with that look of prayer on their faces, “Please Lord, don’t let anybody that I know see me in line”

          My mother and I sat together.  I think we were the only ones in the theatre not sitting by ourselves.  When the house lights went down, you could feel the relaxation and sighs of relief that each had made it into the movie without being discovered.

          As the movie started, you could hear laughter – some deep from inside the belly.  That was almost more amusing than the movie itself.  My favorite line from the movie (well, perhaps not my favorite, but the one I can remember the most) is when Jan is walking down the streets in this outrageous wig and a prostitute passing her asks, “Did an animal die on your head?”

          I don’t have a wig that could easily be removed.  All the hair that I have is attached to the scalp – well, most of it.  I should have it cut and thinned out more often – but we don’t always have the money – not that my hair dresser charges that much.  She’s actually pretty reasonable.  Located within walking distance from my mom’s house.  But I don’t always have money for gas expenses to get out there – and we’re at a point now where I can’t just leave my mom.  She needs to be watched 24/7.

          So my head now feels like a dead animal that grows larger with each passing day.  It’s wicked.  It’s unbearable.  It needs to go.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Producing Salty Water (and a LOT of it)

          This post reflects stirred emotions that between October and mid December 20120
          Poor mom.  For the most part we don’t know where she’s at.  The reality of her world is so far different from our own.

          In her mind, she believes that while State Street was under construction, she and all the other residences in her neighborhood were evacuated.  The construction crew had asked them to move somewhere else.  Mom doesn’t remember where it is that she moved – but she is back – along with many of her neighbors.  For a while she wanted to make certain that everybody knows she’s back.  Now she wants to go back to wherever she thinks she lived before.  She doesn’t know the address though – but she says it’s a house.

          She called Bill.  She always calls Bill’s cell phone when she’s trying to get a hold of Kayla.  She left a message to make Kayla aware that she was back in her old house.  Kayla called me to inform me of the events that had taken place.  I told her that Nate had posted his comment on file that all of mom’s children (and some spouses) all have access to.

I don’t know if she called Corey, or if Corey called her.  Same story.  Corey asked for her address.  Mom didn’t know.  She had to ask Sunny (who happened to be watching her) She returned to the phone and gave Corey the name of the city which she has lived for the last fifty years.

          Corey said that is the same address that all of us have and she didn’t need to call anyone else.  Mom was highly confused as to how everyone was aware of where she was but herself.  Sunny was super freaked out and had stayed longer than she usually does.

          Roland and I were on our way to pick up mom and take her to a dinner at the Church she attends.  I called to say we were on our way.  I guess I should have talked to Sunny instead of mom.  There was an accident on the Freeway.  It took us 20 minutes longer than normal.

          Sunny was wide eyed and felt a sense of relief when I walked through the door.  Mom was all ready to go.  I told her to head out to the car and I would be there momentarily.  Sunny expressed her concerns.  And I said I was a little hurt that mom hadn’t called me to tell me she was back.  That made Sunny laugh.  I’m glad I could give her that.

          Mom was fine at the party.  She wasn’t restless as she had been less than a month ago when it was just the family and she was overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of people.  I was overwhelmed by the huge turnout.  Between 240 -260 people.  We stayed for the whole event.  I hadn’t expected that.
          Patrick spent the night with mom as Nate and Ellen had gone out of town.  Not too long ago mom was independent and didn’t want to be babied.  She is, after all, a big girl and she can do things by herself.  Now she dreads the idea of being alone.  She often seems surprised by letters or people who show up at her door.  They think we all know where she used to live.  But it’s all in her mind.  She’s been in the same house for over 50 years.

          I met my husband 12 years ago.  Corey graduated from high school almost 20.  But for some reason she has the two crossing paths before Corey graduated.  For the most part I’ve been a pal that was raised in San Francisco alongside her – but there was one occasion that she did introduce me as her daughter – it was to a friend that was well aware of who I am – possibly better than mom does.

          Each time we mention the name of a state or country – she claims that she has been there.  It was always “just for a day” though.

          I didn’t want this to become a “dementia blog” any more than Corey wanted his to focus on dementia.  Actually dementia isn’t the biggest focus thus far as there are less than ten posts.  I can’t say I hope to have more – but as it will be on my mind I’m sure there will be more that mention the wretched thief.  There have been days when the dementia is really bad - moreso for me than my mom.  Sometimes I can take it with a grain of salt – and even laugh.  But often I am an emotional wreck.

          The neighbor across the street has a gathering of sisters once a week.  She suggested I bring mom but just drop her off and not stay myself.  But I wanted to visit.  I miss the socialization of those that I used to associate with.  Mom, who claimed she was bored, was not interested in going.  And if I persisted, she would become mean.

          So I cried.  I cried because I wasn’t invited.  I cried because mom was acting like a childish brat.  I cried because I was crying over something I couldn’t control.  I was pretty good about holding it in until we started playing games.  I took off the minute Nate returned home from school.

          That all took place in November and December.  Since Christmas, mom seems almost comatose at times.  Just as disheartening as trying to coax the child inside.  She lost her driver’s license over a year ago and became mean – well with me anyway.  I’m the one who had taken her to the Driver’s License renewal.
          There had been a few days when she had become her mother and greeted folks in a friendly way, without a care in the world.  And she was always pleasant when she went out with Sunny – at least in the beginning.  But Sunny has seen the mean side of my mom since. 

          Next week we have another family meeting.  Kayla and I are ready to take action.  Corey and Patrick both seemed to express a denial. But we may all be on the same page now.  Mom needs a community.  She needs a routine.  And the rest of us need to return to our roles of children and not the caregivers that we’ve become.

          I was so diligent about going through Jenna’s folder once she returned home from school – but have been quite slack for an entire year now.  I need my focus to be where it was.  I need to keep my mind clear of heavy tears.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bah, Humbug, Mother Nature

          The air has been of poor quality – particularly for those who have to live with asthma and other breathing challenges so I suppose the snow is a blessing – in more ways than one I suppose.  But three months worth of snow at once? 
          It started snowing just before 3:00 p.m. yesterday.  It paused perhaps at 9:00 or 10:00.  In some parts it never stopped snowing.  I can’t even imagine how deep the snow is in some parts right now – or how much damage it is causing so many right now. 
          The libraries closed at three and all workers were sent home.  Roland didn’t get home until almost 6:00.  He gets off at 4:00.  In decent weather his work is less than 20 minutes away.  Usually he is critical about Utah drivers and the snow.  All he said was, “It’s really bad out there.”

          In a way, I was hoping that school would be cancelled this morning – which I’m certain that it was in some parts.  Not our district.  It was said (for those driving) to take our time that they’d accept tardies and absences.  I wonder if that applies to teachers as well.

          Jenna’s first kindergarten teacher has to drive over three hours in this kind of weather – provided she’s able to get out of her snowed in community.  I admire her for being so diligent as she lives so far away.  I bet she drives through at least three other districts before getting to the one I’m in – though the school where she teaches is also twenty minutes from where I live.

          I’m happy with Jenna’s current school.  I normally drop off behind the school – but I knew the lot would be slick – there were still icy patches from the last snow.  I’m sure this morning had to have been worse.

          I didn’t go through the neighborhood to get to the back lot however.  Jenna announced that they could be dropped off in front.  At least it was clear.  And so was the road I had driven on.  But I knew I couldn’t go back that way.  A bus had been hit at the corner. 

I’m thinking maybe the police car had been hit also.  Hard to tell – but there was a car behind the police car – and one plowed into the bus.  Traffic was being derailed through a neighborhood street.  I’d think it very odd if I was to look out my window and see a public bus driving up my street . . . 
It took me longer to return home than it took going to the school.  Traffic for the most part was 10 mph or less – which is fine.  I’d rather have a bunch of overly cautious drivers on the road than just one speeder who ruins the commute with hurriedness.

Jenna, for one, is very excited about the snow.  In her mind, “It’s about time!” for she has missed it terribly. 
She loves to make snow angels and snowballs and build snowman and forts.  She likes to slip and slide and catch snowflakes on her tongue. I’m glad she has that attitude.  I’m glad she likes the snow.

I liked snow when I was much younger.  I still like it on trees, in the mountains, even in the yard.  Just not on my road or sidewalks.  No slush, no ice.  I want perfect driving conditions.  Actually, I wouldn’t mind giving up driving totally.  But I have to commute some way.  Public transportation is not always reliable.  Nor does it always take me exactly where I want to go.

Jenna will be having a hot chocolate party later on today – or perhaps she is having it now.  It’s snowing now and perhaps she got some snow-playing in before the party started (or will start) and for her, that will be a great kick off for a glorious hot cocoa celebration!

I included some photos of my boys in the snow in this post.  Now let me share some of Jenna growing up in the snow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lucy and Ethel and Dementia

          Mom and I used to refer to ourselves as Ethel and Lucy, which I have mentioned here 
           Yesterday we were laughing together.  It felt almost like it had a very long time ago.

          Of course I don’t remember all of the conversation – just pieces.  But it went something like this

          During the Password game show:

          Mom:  “Humphrey.  What kind of name is Humphrey?  Who would name their kid Humphrey?”

          I laugh.

          “Humphrey.  That sounds like a hump.”

          “I never liked the name Dylan.  Whenever I hear that name, I think of dill pickles”

          Later we were working on a crossword puzzle.  Let’s get real.  Sometimes the puzzle creators reach for definitions. Or else it’s taken for granted that the puzzle solver just automatically knows the name of every geographical location (including fictional ones) and the histories behind them.  Give me a break.

          So we’re laughing at some of our rationalization and realizing just because the word fits doesn’t mean it goes.

          “Viola relative.  Do they mean a flower?  Or are we supposed to know the actual person?”

          “Or it could mean an instrument.”

          As it turned out, mom was spot on.  The answer was cello. 

          We had asked all of the “across” questions, but not all the downs.  She decided it was taking us too long and looked the answers up in the back – writing down some and still asking, “What the heck is that?”  or “Oh, yea. Right.” Followed by the rolling of eyes.
          And then the phone rang.  It was her friend, Erin.  For mom, the phone call came totally out of the blue.  I wasn’t as surprised as I had just mailed a card to her daughter’s address (which you can read about here

          Mom related what we were doing and Erin asked to speak to me.  Mom handed me the phone saying, “It’s my friend, Erin.  She wants to talk to you.”

          Of course Erin and I couldn’t have the conversation that’s been missing all of these years.  She thanked me for finding her. She said she had no idea.  Well, of course she had no idea.  That’s understandable.  We only learned about it less than a year ago.  And mom’s mind seems to have gone downhill rapidly since she was first diagnosed with dementia.

          Erin gave me two phone numbers, her mailing address and email address to pass on to Fran (which I did once I got home) and I sent Erin a more detailed message than the one I had sent her at Christmas time. 

          I visit mom again today.  I hope it’s as pleasant as yesterday’s visit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When Silent Night Becomes Annoying

          Biff must have received one of those microchip cards or something.  Jenna thinks it is from one of Roland’s ties.  Either way, we can’t find the source.  It is stuck in our car somewhere.  The opening and closing of the back doors trigger it somehow.  And it’s that synthesized music that doesn’t do justice to the reverent tune to begin with.  But to have it play over and over agin – and for some reason it has gotten louder.

          I hadn’t heard it the first couple of times.  But Jenna’s radar ears picked it up rather quickly, “What’s that noise?”

          I heard a faint sound.  But it’s not “faint” anymore.  You would think the chip would have worn out by now.  It does wear out, doesn’t it? I guess it’s possible that the chip could outlive the car.  We’ll be sending our car into it’s final resting place and there will be the lull of music amongst the hammered car graveyard. 

         I took it to the dealer recently.  I hadn't heard the tune all day after picking the car up.  I was about to send a very heartfelt thank you to "Oil Stop" but the noise came back.  They hadn't gotten rid of that annoying sound.

          “Silent Night, This isn’t right – we are dead in a junkyard bed.  Someone took money to take us away – we didn’t die here, but here we will stay – no more driving for us – no more driving for us”

          I really would like the car to outlive the chip – even if it means we have to listen to the synthesized Silent Night in the heat of the summer.  At least we’ll have transportation – right?

Monday, January 7, 2013

We Don’t Pray for Material Things

          Laurie was giving the lesson in Sunday school.  She had passed out paper and pens and asked us each to write five things that we wish we had.  I don’t remember them all – but the top of my list was I wish that I could be a better mother to Jenna.  The forth thing on my list was transportation.  It was the only material thing that was listed.

          Laurie then asked the class if there were any willing to share maybe just a few items on our list.  Wade rattled off his five good non-materialistic things.  I read only the top one on my list.  Laurie looked a little embarrassed as she confessed that the first things that came to her mind were all material.

          She then went on with the lesson and how each of us need to strive to make accomplishments, and when we turn to the Lord we need to have a plan in place about how to achieve our goals, or dreams, or wishes . . .  She pointed out how wrong it is to pray with, “I want a car.” “Please bless me with a new computer” or what have you.

          When the time came to share ideas  about what we learned, I couldn’t help feeling how blessed I’ve been about wish number four.  That sounds odd, I know.  But it was the one thing on my list that I had prayed about more than anything else on the list – oh, not for a new car – although that would be awesome.  My pleas were more like, “Please allow me to take Jenna to school without breaking down.” “Please allow me to make it to mom’s without any harm or accident” “Please let me get to a gas station before I run out completely”

          Last year when we got the car inspected, I figured it would be our last.  But December rolled around again and the car is still with us.  But it is so flawed.  Falling apart both inside and out.  By the time we’re through with it, I doubt we’d be able to sell it just for parts.  But I won’t drive the truck.  Probably I shouldn’t be driving at all.  So it’s not just the care of vehicle I pray about, but also the driver – who’s a neurotic mess without the transportation issue.

          Before Jenna’s second grade school year had ended, we were down to only one vehicle.  We’d have to wake Jenna up and get in the car.  Roland would drive to work.  I would return home.  Jenna would get dressed.  I would pick up her friend and drive the two of them to school.

          After school let out, we would drive to Roland’s work.  Jenna would do her homework (if we were lucky) and Roland would drive us home.  That lasted two and a half months.
          In the summer I would just have Roland take the car for the most part. Utah was under construction (still is in some places) and it was so outrageously hot outside, I didn’t really want to drive anyway.

          On Wednesdays Jenna and I would take the bus to the high school where she was taking a class in theatre. Occasionally I would take the car.  But then we would have to pick up Roland and the construction made for a much longer drive – so my borrowing the car during the summer was less than once a week. (Jenna and I also took the train to my mom’s house and walked or caught a ride with Kayla)

          So I feel blessed that we have transportation (other than our feet) and that we have gotten away with driving what seems like a relic (it’s actually not that old – it just looks and feels that way) and I continue to pray that “we won’t get pulled over on expired plates” or “please let us arrive safely and return without any harm or accident”

          It feels good, too, to have Jenna suggest saying prayers and watch her grow in faith and build her own prayerful memories.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An Act of Service for both parents and children

         Children call her the animal balloon lady as she has brought her pump and balloons to various activities providing the children with a sweet gift to take home (provided it doesn’t pop first)

Noel announced a service that she would be providing for parents to drop off their children for four hours and she would provide snacks for them and a play a holiday movie and provide other activities.  Sounded like a great bargain to me.

          I signed up for Jenna’s sake more than my own.  I figured she’d enjoy the activities and association with whatever fellow classmates might have showed up.
          Noel offered two shifts: 8-12 and 1-5.  I chose the earlier of the two – figuring there would be less children and it wouldn’t be so overwhelming for Noel to have a huge amount of children in her apartment. 

          As it turned out, it was Jenna by herself – which actually worked out to her own benefit as she really does enjoy the one on one.  And when Noel was preoccupied with putting cookies in the oven or cleaning or what have you, Jenna would play with the dogs.  She loves that.  Our own high-maintenance dog doesn’t interact the way some neighboring dogs do.

           How awesome it is to have people like Noel who are willing to provide a service for both the children and the parents who are involved.  Thank you, Noel.  And thank you also to your roommates who allow the children to come into their home also.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Is There Justification in Lying?

          When your child hollers: “Mom! So-n-so is on the phone!” 
And you respond with, “Tell them I’m not home.”  What are you teaching your child?

          Several children will go in for shots and will ask, “Will this hurt?” of course they don’t always get the truth.  But hey, it’s easier to lie than to wrestle them to the ground and make it hurt even more.

Is it okay to lie?  Is it acceptable to have your child tell a stranger that you are not home?  When a child is home alone, he’s been taught to say that “my mom is sleeping”  “dad’s out in the shed.  I’ll go get him” and runs and hides or calls an adult with a plea in his voice, “What do I do?”

          I’m not big on deceit – though I have told Jenna there’s a Santa Clause and have been sneaky about surprises.  Is that the same?

          When my grandmother went back to work to support herself and her three children she lied about her age as she feared age discrimination.

          When my brother-in-law’s first wife was diagnosed with cancer, Bill had just lost his job.  Annaleigh decided not to seek treatment – knowing full well that there was no insurance and that they wouldn’t have the finances to meet her medical expenses.  So Bill lied to her.  He said they were covered, even though they weren’t.

          We’re taught to always tell the truth, because then we don’t have to remember whatever falsehood we may have said.  In my mom’s case, she doesn’t always remember from one minute to the other.  We can have the same conversation seven times in less than thirty minutes.

          My mom believes all sorts of crazy things.  She gets angry if we would attempt to correct her – so for the most part we don’t.  It’s not as though she’s going to remember in two minutes from now anyway.  When we’d express concern over her medication or finances (as there are so many scams out there) she behaved quite childish and all but throws a tantrum.

          Corey has called around to have mom’s name removed from several caller lists but has been told that the request has to be made from HER phone.  So now someone else will need to call these organizations (whether real or bogus) from her phone – probably a female – so that we can have her name removed and if they should ask, “Am I speaking with person in charge” we can lie and say “Yes” because really, how does one prove him or herself over the phone with a solicitor?
          Sometimes we have to take mom places that she just doesn’t want to go.  So we’re not always truthful about it.  Or sometimes we are and she forgets and accuses us of wrong doing.  It’s been frustrating, really.  Or at least that’s how it was in March.  It’s not even been an entire year later and her memory is going rapidly. 

          For two years the main road off hers was under construction. She believes during that time the entire neighborhood had been evacuated to elsewhere.  She is always surprised by certain items of mail she receives or when her children are able to find the house she’s lived in for the last 52 years as she believes that she has lived elsewhere.  Except for the other day.  I think it’s the first time in a month that she hasn’t mentioned the move.

          The other day I had a caregiver and nurse drop by to give mom an evaluation as Patrick and Sunny had scheduled an appointment with a facility today and I thought it better to find the right fit (as there are three locations).  Mom answered their questions – offended at how personal it was getting.  I figured she’d forget about it the minute they left.  But she asked, “Just who were those girls?”

          “Those weren’t your visiting teachers?” I knew that they weren’t.  But she might not know. 
          “I’ve never seen them before.”
          “Really?” I know for a fact that she doesn’t know even half the people in her ward (church boundaries) although she has known many of its members 20-40 years or more.  But she’s forgotten most of them.  I was surprised to see her smiling at the ward Christmas dinner and staying for the entire program.

          “Oh, I’m sorry mom.  Maybe I shouldn’t have let them in.  They seemed nice”
          She forgot about them.  I told her that I had to leave in about thirty minutes to pick up Jenna and would she like to come with me.  I was surprised when she said “yes” but of course she changed her mind when it came time – which was okay.  I needed to get home to start dinner for Roland.

          As I was getting ready to leave, she kissed me and thanked me for coming.  She doesn’t remember her conversation with “the girls” at all.  Even if I had told her the truth about who they were and why they were there, she wouldn’t have remembered.  So why have her be upset for two or three minutes with the truth?  I hate having to lie – but I hate having her upset with me even more.
          Funny.  Whenever we tried to cover up a wrong-doing with a lie, we got into more trouble with the lie than we did for the “crime” itself. I remember one time when we didn’t get punished at all because even though our actions were less than desirable (I had let Patrick drive the car a year before he was eligible to get his driver’s license) we had been truthful about it.
          Mom doesn’t remember that.  I don’t know if she remembers how against deceit she was at one time.  I think she’s oblivious for the most part.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcoming the New Year

A year ago today, mom lost her driver’s license.  It’s hard to believe how much of her memory has been wiped out in such a short time.  Yesterday she seemed almost comatose to me.  Her birthday is not until June.  Jenna asked if we could go to her house to celebrate.  There were tears in my eye because I honestly don’t know where she’ll be six months from now.

On the Saturday before the New Year, we took my mom to the movies with us. We were late getting to the movie and so had to sit in front.  “Life of Pi” is NOT a comedy – unless maybe one is watching it with another who has dementia.

          I sat between my mom and Jenna.  Jenna rattled on about the movie and animals and explained things in detail (as though I wasn’t sitting there watching it myself) and my mom would make these off-the-wall comments that made me laugh.

          Mom’s memory right now doesn’t allow her to retain what she has watched from scene to scene. I don’t know if she remembered why the pair was in the water.  But she did ask,   “Why doesn’t he just throw the tiger out of the boat?”

          “The tiger is too big.  He can’t just throw it out.”

          “Well, if it was me, I would just shoot him with a gun.”

          I start to laugh.  How does one obtain a gun if marooned in the ocean?  He hadn’t chosen to be stranded out there. And then the very idea of my mom with a gun is laughable.  We had found one in her mother’s apartment several years ago (before I had met Roland) and treated it as though it was a dead mouse.

          I took Jenna to the library on Monday afternoon.  The auditorium had been set up with plastic water bottles, streamers, paper plates, beads, and icicles.  Children were encouraged to make noise maker (shakers) and party hats to welcome in the “new year” – which wouldn’t officially start until twelve hours after the celebration. 

They played a few games – including “hot potato” and “Simon says” before the “New Year’s” countdown. It was cute watching the children countdown to noon with all the enthusiasm of it being midnight.

Jenna enjoyed herself.  What she seemed to enjoy the most was being in the company of a friend from Church.  His mom invited Jenna to do a family home evening with them later on.  And so Jenna went over to her friend’s house for pizza and a lesson on setting goals.  I think there was another celebration to welcome in the New Year.  She was home before 9:00.

Roland and I started in on the pizza while she was gone.  No new year’s snacks this year.  But it was typical of my new year’s holiday – boring. 

Bill had talked to Roland about meeting at my mom’s house.  He called when Jenna was gone.  But Roland wanted just a quiet evening at home. Unlike last year, Jenna made it until after midnight.  She could have probably kept on going if I hadn’t wanted to go to bed myself.  I was tired.

So on New Year’s Day itself we met Kayla and Bill at my mom’s house.  We played a few games.  Not much.  The kids were getting restless.  We all left to return to our homes about the same time.

Corey called shortly thereafter.  First he talked to mom and asked what she’d been doing.  She remembered that all of us were there, but she also informed Corey that we had gone for a hike.  Really?

Corey then called me to get the truth of the story.  It’s been less than 40 degrees outside.  Like I’d really take my mom and the babies out in 40 degree weather.  Like Roland and I are even in shape to go hiking. 

It’s been a tiring year.  I hope our families may be less stressed in 2013.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Collector Items or Drinking Glasses?

          I know there are people who collect – perhaps I don’t know avid collectors, but I do know some people who collect certain things.

          Take Corey, for instance.  My brother has always been a BIG Star Wars fan.  He started his collection perhaps before he even saw the movie.  He had action figures, and the Mellenium Falcon, perhaps the Terrain Armored Transport Vehicle and that ugly animal thing – but I don’t know.  I must admit that I am NOT a Star Wars geek – nor do I actually know the Star Wars terminology as I actually had to Google the names of the transportation products as I really wasn’t sure (Corey would be appauled)

          Roland’s passion is Superman comic books – something he had collected and the boys’ mother threw out.  She didn’t know.

          I must admit I’ve had several collections myself.  DID HAVE.  When times got tough I had forced myself to spend my coins at face value.  Just because I collect them doesn’t mean my children will want to continue and then whatever I saved may not be worth anything later on down the road – which was my initial intent.  To have a material possession worth financial value.

          Corey’s collection has nothing to do with financial gain.  He truly loves Star Wars – and avid Star War fans LOVE to look at his collection – though much remains in the original packaging.  He’s never played any games or has viewed his calendar.  Actually, it’s kind of hurtful that he doesn’t spend time really enjoying some of the things he has – well, at least at the time they were given.

          I have no problem with seeing the Pez Dispensers left in the box.  If it weren’t for the cool dispensers I often wonder if Pez would even be able to sell their candy as I don’t find the candy itself to be that great.  Tolerable at best.  But does anybody in this world actually have a craving for pez candy?  I mean, really.  They’re not that great.

          On Christmas day Roland opened a set of collector glasses featuring four characters from Star Trek – which he decided to use as drinking glasses and if they broke – oh, well – at least they were enjoyed.  I’m afraid Captain Kirk did not make it to the New Year as he crashed to the floor and Scottie (or any of us) was able to beam him back to restoration. 

          Over the years I’ve learned that I would rather enjoy a gift than leave it sitting in a box.  It’s not like I’m going to be around to “collect” and with today’s economy . . . I can’t see my children hanging onto it. 

          I think Roland had the right idea – even though we had to say good-bye to Captain Kirk.  When I told Roland, he misunderstood and thought the real William Shatner had actually passed away.  Funny.