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.

only 525,600?

23 10 2008

Exactly one year ago yesterday, I took this photo.  Just a year – just a series of seconds that became minutes, minutes that ticked away into hours, hours into days and here we are today. So many things have changed and so many just the same as they were twelve months ago. 

I can waste so many minutes in a day or I can take a few and do something that is really important and meaningful. That is the really tricky part of managing my life. I’d like to be more careful in the next 525,600 minutes to do the right things.  A balance of minutes that nourish me and minutes that care for those around me in a million little ways to let them know they are loved and esteemed. 

Because we all know that our lives can change in a second…

you can’t get there from here

23 08 2008

 I remember being quite young and feeling like a trip was taking too long or that the roads didn’t look familiar and I’d start to whine thinking we were lost…and he’d play along knowing full well where we were and how to get to where he was headed.  He could not be accused any form of road rage either – but he was probably the cause of some rage behind many a shaken fist.   He meandered…poked…Sunday driver on steroids…speed limit or under – you get the picture.  But he was an excellent driver and because he logged hundreds of hours a month in his NIPSCO vehicle – only his left arm at just above the elbow at the T-shirt sleeve line was perpetually tan.

 He knew nothing of the internet or relying on some androgynous voice telling him to “turn left in 500 feet…”  I never remember seeing him take out a map – he just knew.  I learned I could always trust my dad’s internal compass even in a raging blizzard.  But there would be those occasions when someone would ask him for directions and his first answer was always, “You can’t get there from here…”  And he was usually right…it is one thing to get somewhere as the crow flies and then there was Billy’s way.

 I learned that there are many ways to get to the same destination.  Some might be fans of going miles out of their way to get to the limited access highways when Billy knew full well that there were perfectly driveable two lane highways that  would eventually get him to where he was going.  “What’s the big hurry…”

After he was hospitalized last spring with a serious illness, the committee was in residence to help with rehabilitative care and we’d been toying with the decision.  Someone grabbed his keys to use his car and was met by a horrible surprise.  A special kind of treasure hunt revealed that he had taken one of those urinal cleaner cakes – deodorant things – and put it under the driver’s seat as a “freshener”.  Wow…that pushed the NO vote forward…

And in all of the adventures of the last couple of years I would have to say that taking his keys away was hands down the hardest, lowest, most rotten thing we could have done.  His voice would crack with emotion anytime he told people that we wouldn’t let him drive any more. And it’s not like he’d forgotten what we were doing to him as  the most recent time he mentioned that we wouldn’t let him drive anymore was just within the last month and a half.  To this day I’m not sure how I feel about that particular decision.  But after losing his keys while in a store we felt like we needed to take definitive action.  Yeah, we felt “safer” but he felt miserable, bored, useless and punished.  

He loved his car – it meant independence and freedom.  He’d go to garage sales or resale shops, the dollar store or grocery store, church or post office and a million places in between.  Always comin’ and goin’ – my mom would never know half the time where he was or when he was coming home.  Often he’d drop a few dimes in a pay phone from the grocery store before heading home to ask if there was anything she needed from the store. 

So what goes ’round comes ’round…we cannot understand how he is still hanging around.  His body cannot take much more – it just can’t.  We feel that we’ve been in this space for much longer than a ten days…this feeling of imminence.  But he’s back in the driver’s seat calling the shots.  He is behind the wheel and he’s gonna backroad it the whole way home takin’ his sweet time.  Just putzing…

bubbe-sitting 101

28 07 2008



some of you have already received the syllabus for this course and i thought that it would be good to get an early start on your vocabulary building before we continue.  from time to time we will be looking at special adaptive tools, how to manage parentals without them knowing it, and the proper use of humor in the work place – all within an ethnographic research setting.  i’d like you all to use the following new vocabulary word in a sentence…and be aware that we will be having pop quizzes throughout the semester.  This week’s word:

klep·to·ge·nar·i·an  ( klep-tu-juhnair-ee-uhn)

someone between 80 and 90 years old with an irrational urge

to steal in the absence of an economic motive