Oh Lorde!

10 05 2015

Maybe by the end of today there won’t be any more TV ads for charm bracelets, twinkling diamonds, perfumes with weird story lines in the sixty second mini-movies or yet ANOTHER “One Day!” sale at Macy’s. You’d have to be living under a rock to miss Mother’s Day. None of those things will be part of Ggma’s day. Not happening.

lordeThe highlight of her week was the much anticipated birth of HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Thanks to the CNN loop, she was surprised time and time and time again with the long awaited news. At one point I had to explain that the Royals weren’t here in the States but that those cameras were taking pictures of them in England.

Her day usually winds down about the time that the network evening news is finishing up. On occasion she’ll push the envelope and still be watching when the programming switches to entertainment gossip.

Criminently!” was her assessment of Jay Z and Queen B’s arrival at the Met Gala. Ggma only likes certain Royals.

Before dawn on Friday I had two important things to grab at the grocery store before she was out of bed: milk and magazines. I figured one of the dozen or so at the check out aisle would have that new little princess’s sweet face on it. I scored TWO! I didn’t expect her to do more than hone in on those particular pages but she pretty much had her nose buried in those pages all day long. I had to pry them from her grip to set her night time pills, ham sandwich and a few chips in front of her at the end of the day on Saturday.

Ggma: “Is there any way you could possibly find another copy of this magazine?”

me: “Why?”

Ggma: “Well, I’d love to have one of my own to keep.”

me: “I bought those for you.”

Ggma: “Oh,really?”

me: “Happy Mother’s Day a day early!”

Ggma: “OH THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY.”

She went on to tell me that she’d add them to the articles from the newspaper that Billy was keeping. (Whoa – where did THAT come from??) Translated: I bought her a couple of commemorative magazines when Prince George was born two years ago that have become a precious commodity not to be misplaced or thrown away. Billy’s newspaper collection days quit seven years ago in August.

Earlier in the week, I asked her if she remembered celebrating Mother’s Day with her dear Georgia. She supposed that she had made some things at school like Donny Diva did for Shop Girl this week. Those memories are so vague save for the summer of her 14th year when her mother died so suddenly and unexpectedly. rac Without warning the only daughter became a very young “mother” to her dad and three brothers and demented paternal grandmother. So, like others doing their own grief work on this day – mothers buried too soon, others wrestling with the sad reality that they long to have children wondering if that will ever come true, or who’s moms have been emotionally or physically absent or abusive – there is yet another sense of loss. The one I live with and watch fade away right before my eyes. Who’s to say how many more Mother’s Days we will celebrate together – I sure don’t know. As far as Ggma is concerned, this year I gave her an exceptional gift. Each and every one of these long strange days together now will be a gift to me in the future. I’ll treat her like Queen G today.

“And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.”





Mama said there’d be days like this…

20 04 2015

There are times that I really think that I’m getting agoraphobic…or truth be told I’m just a lazy caregiver.  I’m now living the reality that was my standard advice for new moms,     “If your teeth get brushed before noon – it’s a good day.”  Or I am suffering from Stockholm Syndrome – Ggma doesn’t complain any more if she’s in her pjs all day – why should I be any different?

A friend’s darling daughter included my name on the list of well-wishers for a surprise 60th birthday party for her mom.  We were high school friends that had reconnected after decades of radio silence. Panic set in immediately. I rarely go public.  At least, this kind of public.  My kind of public is my ghetto grocery store where they only know me with my unruly witch worthy mane yanked up on the top of my head.  I pulled off a miraculous appointment at a “shi shi la la” (Best Boy vocabulary) salon where I’m sure they thought I was a homeless woman who’d found a gracious patron to invest in a make-over.  The salon girls kept looking for the hidden cameras to pop out for the before/after money shots for a human interest story to be aired on local news at noon. Sorry girls. No cameras.  It was just me trying to get my act together in one small way. That at least made me feel like I’d be somewhat presentable for this crowd of sophisticated strangers.

My real insecurities go back to high school with this group.  In 7th grade, we’d moved from a very URBAN Gary IN to a very SUBURBAN Valparaiso.  Billy was blue collar – I mean really blue collar since his work shirt was blue.  Their dads were suits: school administrators and factory, restaurant and radio station owners.  Ggma worked for ten years as an administrative assistant to a foreman in one of those factories.  Another friend’s dad gave me my first of many restaurant kitchen jobs.

The appointed time to head out to the party had come and Ggma was all set up for me to be gone two hours.  She had my phone number plopped on her lap, though not actually sure she would have known the difference between the TV remote or the phone but she had the number and was very glad that I had friends who wanted to see me.

I entered the packed house, ducked my head and headed to the back of the room to await the moment of the surprise and find the one or two other familiar faces I knew would be there.  Someone yelled my name and I was embraced by birthday girl’s older sister who I’d not laid eyes on since 1971 or so. There were a few more of those reunions before the bday girl arrived. Surprising connections, things in common I never would have imagined, and memories long forgotten – were the things tucked in my pocket when it was time to head back to Ggma.

That sneak away refreshed me in whole bunches of ways.  It forced a much needed hair cut for one. Now two days later I’m at the end of what has been just another challenging Ggma day.

“Does she have a Mom?”  I had just disconnected from a FaceTime chat with Shop Girl, Donny Diva and Littles that Ggma had enjoyed.  “What?  Who?  Shop Girl?  Yes – ME!”  That pesky family tree thing again.  “I guess I never knew that, ” her voice trailed off in confusion.

IMG_4042Again, I’m in a room and wondering

if anyone will remember who

I am…

 





Ggma’s version of Hide & Seek

30 01 2015

You’d think with all of my years of experience this would be no big deal.  Things go missing almost daily so I stop and prepare myself for getting into the “hunt mode”.  Those TV commercials about finding the wife’s keys in the fridge are such old news at this point.  At this stage we are talking about Hide & Seek v4.0.  I take my time and try not get rattled and remember it is just stuff (most of which can be easily replaced).

My chronically messed up sinuses look forward to a good bath each morning from a squeeze bottle netipot.ggmhs2 I used it yesterday – took it apart, washed it properly and left it in the sink to dry.  Or so I thought.  So this morning I microwaved the distilled water, added the saline mix and went to screw on the top…and…suddenly the top was MIA.  I had seen it during the day yesterday hadn’t I?  I looked in all the places I thought it could have gotten on its own – then I switched gears.  Freezer?  All kitchen drawers?  Bathroom?  Floor?  Garbage?  Under the microwave?  It was about an hour’s worth of hide and seek before I decided to just consider it another one of those mysterious vanishing things that will some day all be revealed.

My last resort is always to ask. Ggma gave me that blank stare like I was talkin’ gibberish…”What?  The black tip to a squeeze bottle with a straw kind of thing attached to it?  What?”  #($*0)@#%#&2 is what she heard.

Then I noticed the two week old wilting arrangement of birthday flowers.  Daily she will pull out whatever looks past gone, add more water and enjoy it for yet another day.  She’d moved it off the kitchen table yesterday when I was out picking up her prescriptions and put it on another surface.  I stepped closer.  Tucked into the lovely last days of the arrangement was exactly what I expected to find…ggmhs1





twinklin’

10 06 2010

Last Saturday, I took Donny Diva and Shop Girl down to surprise the Mrs.  I learned a long time ago that it is best not to talk about plans ahead of time so as not to disappoint if things don’t work out.  Besides, if she would have known they were in the car with me she would have gone to Ace Hardware and bought all the baby-proofing gadgets she could find.

While I did my usual duties around the house and running out to get groceries, etc., they just visited.  I don’t know who was more entertained by the whole thing – the Mrs. or Donny Diva.  The giggles and laughs were about equal when it was all said and done.  It reminded me of some of the similarities that Billy and Tractor Baby shared two years ago (you can read about that here).  Before we wrapped up our visit, Shop Girl sat down at the piano with Donny Diva on her lap.  It took him just a minute or two to get the hang of the physics lesson of action-reaction.  Suddenly he was “twinklin’ ” on the piano – that’s what Billy used to call it when Shop Girl would play.

So I guess that alot of what happens in life is that we end up where we started from.  Sometimes our hands don’t work like we want them to.  We need more naps.  Our view of the world as a whole can be limited to what is happening in our house and our most immediate surroundings.  And more often than not, social gatherings can be intimidating.  When we went to a graduation open house the other day, the best Donny Diva could do was to bury his head in a cousin’s shoulder to help him cope with all the people that wanted to kiss on his face.  Eventually he warmed up and all was fine.  It just took a few minutes.

The Mrs. feels like that too – but there was no shoulder to share.   She was at an open house on the same day and told me later that it all made her feel very lonely.  She was very aware of feeling like the “odd man out” as she puts it.  Surrounded by couples, all old friends, feeling like she didn’t belong.  She missed Billy something fierce.

Hearing about how she felt made me defensive.  It gets my ire up when we routinely plow over the elderly but would never treat a toddler that way.  We are impatient with their inability to move like they used to, their lack of desire to do what they used to or just their general state of “winding down”.  A conversation with her can jump from the 1920’s to 2010 mid-sentence and takes all kinds of special abilities to maintain sanity.  I’ll be the first to admit that  I don’t have the stamina it takes to be Donny Diva’s full time caregiver and I get equally tired when I have to deal with the Mrs. for days on end.  But none of that is like  a friend of mine who is being taxed on a moment by moment basis as she is an only child dealing with her mom’s Alzheimer’s.

So all I ask is that when you are out and about running around in your world with all your fingers working just like they are supposed to and mentally juggling a million things at once – if you find yourself in line behind someone with more gray hair than is on your head – be kind.  Be patient.  Be personal.  You may be the only person that speaks to them all day and you’ll turn around twice in life and you will be that old person.  There is no escaping that reality.  There is a new generation stepping on your heels ready to sit down to take their turn twinklin’ on the piano.





no more HGTV for you

19 10 2009

chipsWhat was I thinking?  During these months of hauling out junk from Billy’s basement, my guilty little pleasure has been wrestling the remote from the Mrs.’ hand and moving as far away from the Weather Channel and Fox News as I could.  Naturally, I’d land on HGTV.  She can watch all the Dr. Phil she wants when she is alone.  Truthfully, I have no idea what she spends her time watching when I’m not there.  She waited a long time to control her own remote and she can do as she pleases.

We would chat about the shows but I never really entertained the thought that she was taking in much information for her own personal use.  Last week, I walked into her house to find that she had decided that the mug rack on the kitchen wall was terribly outdated and no longer useful.  It was all taken down and she had rearranged some decorative plates to take over that space.  Nicely done, I might add.

On a rare trip to Kmart together a few months back, the Mrs. and I wandered through the bedding department and picked out a new bedspread.  With her full sized bed and bedroom furniture (given to her by her dad when she was still in high school) all back in her bedroom, it was time for a little pick-me-up.  I need to take down some balloon curtains she has had up since forever and replace them with something different.  She’s dreaming of a “soft dovey gray with blue undertones” for that room.  Maybe an early spring project for me will be getting some new paint up on those walls.

The long and short of this…I was delusional to think that the only thing I was doing there was cleaning out the basement.  I remember Billy being frustrated and vocal toward the end about her never ending project list.  It really isn’t much different than my list for our 100 plus year old Money Pit.  Truth be told, she couldn’t lift a finger around there in the last couple of years without him putting up a huge fuss about it so she stuffed it all down and waited.

I have opened Pandora’s Box.

On my current list of things to get accomplished in her space is spraying the basement walls with a bleach solution once a week for the next couple of weeks to try to put an end to the years of mold and mildew.  I realize though that I am like the Hoover Dam trying to hold back her rushing creative waters.  She wonders out loud what the re-cooped space would look like with a bright coat of paint on the walls.  Then we’ll get new shelving units for the walls…then…

I manage to control my voice to avert the guttural scream I feel building and tell her that first we’ll have to paint the new stair treads that Charlie & Co. replaced last Thursday.  Even before those three got damaged in the fun of the last months, she’d told me that she wanted to “spiff up” the stairs with new paint.  I have begged and begged her to not touch brushes till I am there for a few days.  Once I unleash that monster – there is no telling where we’ll end up.

Last week I took my shop vac along to start the process of cleaning the basement floor in a way that didn’t just re-locate all the cement dust left behind from all the jack hammering that went on.  I happened to look up at the ceiling of the basement only to see years and years of accumulated cobwebs and spider eggs that needed to find a new home.  She wanted to watch.  I was annoyed…until I remembered that young kids like watching adults do things that they can’t yet do.  I just needed to reverse the process in my mind and realize that she was watching NOT to be critical but with longing.  She wished I’d let her do the job but I didn’t want her craning her stenosis narrowed neck with arms over her head for about an hour.  It was a year ago this next week that she landed in the hospital for three days after a seemingly harmless trip to the dentist. Just having her head tilted back so the Dr. could see what he was doing, put her system in a nasty downward spiral for weeks and weeks.

But yesterday’s phone call just floored me.  “I was down in the basement and I know where the shower will go!” she excitedly exclaimed.  “EXCUSE ME?“, exploded the voice in my head just short of a rant of Tourettte’s.  Rationally and calmly, I agreed with her that it was an excellent idea and a good use of space but we might want to think about updating the bathroom on the first floor before we go there.  Built in 1958, there has been very little updating of the original bathroom with its gray plastic tiles and a nasty, carpeted floor which was THE update when I was in high school.  I’ve been secretly thinking about that space and even had a discussion with Charlie & Co. about a great Kohler tub and surround that he loves to install.

I felt Billy lose his cool.  The earth shook ever so slightly as he turned over in his grave.  Maybe there was a method to his madness keeping the basement wet all those years so he’d never have to tackle the next thing on the list.

As frustrated as I might get with all this,  she’s still on her own and I am supremely grateful.  We are lucky.  She is still mobile, thinking and dreaming.  She still gets more cleaning done on a weekly basis than I do in months.  It exhibits pride which signals a great sense self-awareness.  Any therapist would tell you that is a sure fire signal that some things are still working.  When she stops getting dressed in the morning because there is nothing to get dressed for – we’ll have a whole ‘nother set of issues to deal with.

So with punch list in hand…we face the winter months with projects to keep us busy.   She saw a new mail box she loved that was on sale so I picked that up along with the huge 4×4 post all waiting in the garage for when I can bamboozle some kind soul from her church to do an act of kindness for one of their widows.

And in my parallel universe, I need to clean out my basement so that I can have glass brick windows installed before the dead of winter.  When the estimator told me that they work from inside and outside, my heart sank.  I now HAVE to face my own demons to clear the way.  My goal this week is 10 bags of junk for the Salvation Army pick-up next Saturday.

Next, I’ll probably be hiring a painter to do my living room, entry, stairwell, upstairs hallway, kitchen, bathroom, etc. while I’m down at the Mrs.’ place painting the stairs, basement and bedroom for starters.  I have gone so far as to purchase my own Benjamin Moore color chip fans so that I don’t have to stand in the hardware store guessing at what I’m looking for.  This is serious business.

“Hello.  My name is Monkee and I’m a project-a-holic.”  Some addictions are hereditary.





cross bearing

10 09 2009

katcrossIt is barely 9 a.m.   My Dunkin’ Donuts extra-large cream and sugar (treats I give myself for the pain I’m enduring) isn’t half sipped yet.  We have a doctor’s appointment in less than an hour for the Mrs.’ flu shot.  During the early evening hours she’ll gather with some “gals” from church for a Bible Study that meets once a month.  Now that summer is on the wane, things are getting rolling again.

There were some moments of panic last week as we tried to find the assigned book.  I don’t know what I’d do without the interwebs at my finger tips when I’m there and she is here.  I called up her local bookstores and no copies were to be found.  They’d be in next week.  She had chapters to read and had to get at that NOW.  Amazon came to the rescue and little does Best Boy know that he bought her the book.  While gathering the parts and pieces of the former life fun-box (xBox) that was recently sold to a cousin at a greatly reduced price…I found an Amazon gift card tucked in the black hole of the coffee table drawer.  Surely it was an abandoned gift left behind on his quick escape to new vistas and a new LA life.

Screaming, “FINDERS KEEPERS” I got on line and ordered the book – even paid for 2 day shipping so that she’d have plenty of time to ponder. But we were somewhat screwed by the Labor Day holiday that left us without mail delivery.  It wasn’t in Tuesday’s mail either.  But later in the day, via Fed-Ex or UPS (she never told me which) she called me to excitedly announce that she’d be able to get her homework done.

All she does is read.  She reads like a fiend.  In another stroke of luck, her brand new blended lenses came in from the eye exam she had two weeks ago.  She’d had an exam a year ago and spent the majority of the following 12 months closing one eye to read because something was wrong with one of the lenses.  She was just pulling in the driveway coming from the eye doctor’s office when I arrived yesterday.  My brain being double dumbed down from life…it never occurred to me to call the doctor and complain six months ago.  What kind of a caregiver am I??

Anyway, sitting beside me in her blue recliner I notice that she is stifling some sobs.  Something in that 10 page chapter on Joseph has her thinking about Billy I’m sure.  She wants to make sure she has time to absorb it and she’s read the same chapter three times in a day and a half.  Even though she’s done so well this year, I feel that her loneliness is heavy right now.  She keeps finding Billy scribbles – little notes that don’t mean anything but they are daily proofs that he existed and still walks beside her in some strange fashion.

I’m in a hurry to get home.  I did some basement duty yesterday and I want to get back to my own world of messes.  But today I give pause.  Before my own world spins into new galaxies in a month or so with the arrival of the Awaited, I try to be unselfish and sit here quietly talking about her behind her back.  Just me sitting in the chair keeps her quiet, reading with reddened, watery eyes.  She needs that but maybe doesn’t know it.  And I need to be quiet, beside her and maybe I don’t know that either.





gettin’ our ghoul on

24 09 2008

I had to go and mention it…thinking that since it was an 85º day, we might as well get her favorite Fall/Halloween decorations out and up.  We started at 5:30 p.m. and after two trips to the hardware store, one blown fuse, one sconce socket sparking, 200 mosquito bites later – we are half way done.  The rest will happen tomorrow.  Maybe – unless I call in sick!