Friday, August 28, 2009


The sister who lives closest to Mom's new abode has been stopping by daily after work this first week, to see how she is adjusting. The report from Monday evening was "pitiful, but resigned." I told the sibs that was a step in the right direction, since at least she hadn't burst into tears the minute Carolyn opened the door, as she had done for me that morning.

On Tuesday evening she seemed fairly upbeat. The hospice nurse had stopped by, and just raved about how bee-yoo-tee-ful the apartment was - the surest way to Mom's heart! Also, her "companion" Tere (I know, that sounds so Victorian, but what else do you call someone whom you pay to keep her company and drive her around?) was there all day, and Mom couldn't wait to show Carolyn all that they had accomplished. Apparently Tere is looking for another part time job to help supplement, since we aren't giving her as many hours now, but she told my mother she would never quit this one, because she loves her. I know, we're all shocked! Turns out they are a perfect match for one another, since Tere was raised in a country where they treat their aging matriarchs like queens, and would never think of arguing with one, or rolling their eyes at them, the way we do upon occasion (but only when pushed beyond our limits, I swear!).

Wednesday was a mixed bag. My sister arrived that evening to find Mom crying in the dining room, with the sweet little lady next to her patting her arm to console her. Mom told Carolyn that they forgot to come get her for dinner, and she had to come all that way on her walker, so now she was in too much pain to even eat. As it turns out, they didn't really forget her. The aide just hadn't made it to her room yet, but Mom wanted to be there when the doors open at 4:30, and was too impatient to wait her turn.

Now, on the surface, that seems like a bad situation, but I see several positives hidden in there: the fact that a fellow resident was trying to comfort her implies possible friendships forming; her having the gumption to try and do it on her own is something we haven't seen in a very long time; and most of all, the fact that she even knew it was dinner time, and they were late picking her up is quite remarkable. Last time I was there visiting, she couldn't tell you if it was night or day, much less what time it was, or what meal she should be eating! So, I'd call this progress, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Here are just a few of the things I remember most, about being at my maternal grandparents' house as a child:

  • being allowed to play with Mimi's wondrous button jar
  • making doll furniture out of cigar boxes and old fashioned wooden clothespins - the springless kind
  • getting tiny glass bottles of Coca-cola out of the "ice-box" in her pink kitchen, which she kept set so low, the sodas were always a bit slushy
  • their metallic silver Christmas tree, and the revolving light that made it change colors
  • the boxful of doll clothes she sewed, for my very first Barbie, on her ancient Singer sewing machine
  • her amazing button jar
  • watching Lawrence Welk, and pretending I was the youngest Lennon sister
  • what family get-togethers were like, when there were 14 grandkids, all right around the same age, and all living within an hour or two of each other
  • playing Mimi's saloon-style upright piano, with the stool that you could spin around on
  • that fabulous button jar
  • swinging on the front porch swing, with a half dozen or so of the aforementioned cousins
  • the giant fig tree in their back yard
  • the oddity of them living in a tiny, 2-bedroom, 1 bath bungalow, and it having "servant's quarters" attached to the garage
  • her stupendous button jar
Can you tell which thing left the biggest impression? I always swore that someday, I too would have a button jar for my kids or grandkids to play with. Only problem was, once I quit sewing much, the only buttons I ever came across were the boring little packets that come attached to a new blouse now and then. This past weekend, however, I hit the jackpot. When we were packing up my mom for her move, I came across a big tin box full of buttons, and she let me have my pick of the lot. Ta-Daaa! Now I have a button jar. It's not full, but it's a pretty good start, don't you think?


I read a blog called NieNie Dialogues, and you should too. NieNie is short for Stephanie Nielson, and no matter what woes you think you have in your life at any given time, it takes but a few moments spent in her presence, for everything to be slapped back into perspective.

Exactly one year ago, Stephanie was a young, beautiful, happy Mormon housewife, living with her husband Christian and their four young children (all under six) in Arizona. One afternoon she and her husband went for a little plane ride with his flight instructor, but the plane fell out of the sky. Thus begins this saga.

Think you had a bad day? Imagine finally coming home after months in a coma on the hospital burn unit, only to find that your youngest child now thinks of your sister as "Mama", and runs away crying whenever you approach him. All you want in the world is to be able to pick your kids up and hug them to you, but that is impossible because your arms have no strength and your fingers won't bend. To top it all off, you feel like a ghost in someone else's body, unable to recognize the face in the mirror. Now, that is a truly sucky day!

Despite all of her travails, this in not a blog about misery. It's about courage, faith, family, true beauty, and unconditional love. Why don't you stop by for a visit? You'll come away feeling uplifted, I gare-rone-tee!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Lord-a-mercy, it's good to be home! I'm both amazed and horrified at how much I missed my own bed, my kitchen, my views, my friends, and all my little routines and rituals. Why horrified? Because I'm so afraid of turning into my parents!

They were only 59 when my first child was born, yet they were already getting so set in their ways that it was like pulling teeth to get them to come visit us. I can't imagine anything keeping me away from my grandbabies, if and when I have them. Of course, I can't imagine my mom hiking up and down this crazy driveway of mine in her mid-fifties, or even her forties. Nor can I picture her tubing in the river, swimming in The Blue Hole, or ever setting foot in a kayak. Most of all, I can't imagine her making a five hour car trip alone - at any age - as I seem to be doing almost every time I turn around. So maybe I'm not headed for the easy chair just yet. At least, I hope not!

Monday, August 24, 2009


I knew it was too good to be true. We girls agreed not to meet back up at Mom's until 10:00 Sunday morning. We needed to see what would happen if we weren't there to intervene. Sure enough, they came to wake her up at 7:30 to go to breakfast, and she flat out refused. Well, what did you expect? The woman's had breakfast brought to her in bed for as long as I can remember! Unfortunately, she can't have her insulin without eating something, so this is going to be a problem.

No one believed we could do it, and it almost killed us, but not only did we manage to fit all her furniture in, and get it all arranged, we also got every last box unpacked that day, and found spots for almost all of her clothes, shoes, purses and gee gaws. Hundreds and hundreds of gee gaws. Best of all, she loves the way it looks!

What she doesn't love is going down to the dining room for meals. She wanted us to take her out for both lunch and dinner, but we refused. We knew that if we couldn't get her used to the dining room, while we were there to keep her company and show her the ropes, there wasn't a chance in hell that she would ever go on her own during the week. Boy was she pissed! And all those brownie points we got for transforming her apartment? Right down the drain!

Needless to say, I was more than a little apprehensive when I arrived on Monday morning, to check on her one last time before heading back to Wimberley. She wasn't crying when she opened the door, but as soon as she saw it was me, she burst into tears and began ranting and raving about the horrible, mean nurse who said absolutely terrible things to her that morning, when Mom told her that she was just too ill to get dressed or go to breakfast. In fact, the wretched woman oughtta be shot for the vicious things she said! What was this terrible thing? Brace yourself! She actually had the gall to tell my mother, "Why, I bet you could do anything you really wanted to do." Horrors of War! Where's the firing squad?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Moving Day for Mom started out pretty much as we expected - with her taking to her bed. Dealing with seeing her stuff dismantled and loaded onto the U-Haul was just more than she could take. Luckily, she came to in the nick of time, before we had to carry the bed out to the truck, with her on it. We left her there at my sister's house, in the tender hands of her sweet caretaker Tere, and headed over to unload enough crap to fill an entire house, at her tiny new assisted living apartment.

One thing I do have to give Mom credit for, is having bought good furniture that has stood the test of time. It just about killed my poor brother and brother-in-law trying to get it all in and arranged (we're all so far past the DIY moving age) but when they did, it started to come together. Once the big pieces were more or less in place, and the bed made up with her new sheets and comforter, we went to fetch her and see what she thought.

Knowing the old gal as well as we do, we knew exactly which buttons to push in order to get the most positive reaction. Quite a few residents had been hanging out in the lobby as we trailed past with load after load of her belongings, and several times they had commented over different pieces of furniture. When we told Mom how "everyone just loved her beautiful furniture" she positively glowed. We also mentioned that apparently she has the most coveted spot in the whole building, being on the ground floor, and closest to the lobby and mailboxes. It seems that many of the current residents had tried to nab it when it came available, but management wouldn't give it to them, since that would mean the expense of having two apartments cleaned and painted, so Mom hit the jackpot as far as location goes. We also met a fellow, much younger than most of the residents, but who is vision impaired and in a wheelchair. He was a trumpet player in a previous life. So we mentioned to Mom that a "famous musician" lived there, and had left one of his CD's just for her! The stage was set.

She walked in, sat down on the sofa... and smiled! She went out to dinner with us at one of her favorite restaurants, which is just down the street...and laughed! She came back to her place, listened as we explained that we would be back the next day after breakfast to finish unpacking boxes and hang her pictures, etc., and that one of the aides would be in the next morning to show her to the dining room for breakfast. She said "You girls need to get on home. You've had a long day. Just make sure I have a nice housecoat laid out for in the morning. Bye!" And that was that. Not one tear, nor even a single phone call during the night.

It's a miracle!