Friday, December 11, 2009

My Daddy

In 1997 when my husband and I seperated my boys and I moved in with my parents.  At this time my dad had been living with Parkinsons for about 10 years.   My dad was almost completely blind, as he lost circulation in blood vessels behind his eyes.  My dad was still very active and the Dementia had not yet set in.  During the first year of living with my parents, I worked full time, and everything was good.  I’ll never forget how strange it was when my dad start asking about his mother, wondering where she was, asking me to call relatives to meet us for breakfast that we hadn’t seen in years because of a family fued.  That always happened first thing in the morning, seemed like that’s when he was most confused.  As the day progressed he got better.  Well, that didn’t last.  In no time the Sundowners came about.  That was crazy.  Mornings were basically okay, my dad would be a little bit confused, when the sun start going down, in the early evenings, all hell broke loose.  My dad would go outside and somedays it was impossible to get him in the house.  He would have the waterhose in the front yard, stretching it as far as it would go, and he watered everyone’s yard he could.  He would put the sprinkler in the middle of the street.  I would try to get him in the house and he would curse me, telling me to go in.  And things didn’t get better.  I can’t believe how fast the Parkinsons and Dementia worked against him.  It was awful watching him go through it.  Soon I wasn’t able to work, I had to stay home because he would become agressive with my mom, and he would want to go visiting.  We went through this for 4 years.  Finally it got so bad that he had to go to a convalescent home.  It was terrible, watching my dad go from this strong healthy, mechanic, fixer of everything, jack of all trades, to this suffering, sad, depressed little old man.  My dad went in a convalescent home 7 months before his death.  I was there with him everyday for a couple of hours a day.  He didn’t know people who would come and visit him but he always called me by my name, he always responded to me.  I’ll never forget when he was dying, my siblings came in like vultures, they sat by his bedside for three days.  I went in the room and my brother was sitting there with my dad.  My brother said, he won’t talk to me, I can’t get him to respond to anything.  I went and sat by my dads side, I took his little shriveled hand in mine, peeked through the bed rail and said “Hi Daddy”.  He opened his eyes, looked toward me and gave me the biggest smile ever.  I will never forget that smile as long as I live.  My brother won’t either.  He stood up and walked out of the room.  That was my goodbye to my dad.  When I left that day I kissed him, told him I loved him and said goodbye.  My siblings went back for another day to sit and wait for my dad to die.  I miss my daddy so much, its been 6 and a half years since he’s been gone.  But I know that he loved me and I know that he is proud of me for taking care of my mom.  And this means the world to me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary!!

This is Steve and I with our sons and grandsons :)

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the Day I was married to Steven D. Hobson.  We had been together almost 7 years when we were married and already had two children together.  On the day of our marriage our household consisted of 2 adults and 5 children, he had 3 children from a previous marriage.  It was not your typical wedding day, by all means.  The house was filled with anger that day, it was an awful day.  There was screaming and yelling and lots of tears.  In fact, my youngest stepdaughter, who was 13, chose not to go to our wedding, so she stayed home alone.  I, in no way wanted to be married that day, it was the last day our marriage license was valid.  Steve and I thought we were doing the right thing by marrying.  We had two children together and were raising the three he had already.  There is no need to go into all the bad that happened prior to this day, so I will tell you the wonderful things that did happen.  When Steve and I first started dating I was a drug addicted, and without him and his kids, I don’t know what would of happened to me.  We also had two beautiful boys together and have raised together.  I have 3 wonderful grandsons, 2 from one of my stepdaughters and 1 from the other.  More than anything, I am so blessed now because my husband and I are great friends.  I can’t imagine ever living with him again but I certainly can’t imagine living without him.  We have set our differences aside, which was not easy, and we have raised our boys together.  We support each other and confide in each other.  I am so blessed by his presence in my life.  My husband Steve is now a Christian man, he is a wonderful father, and a very dear friend.  When my stepdaughter Annie passed away in 2008, it brought us even closer together.  I am so glad we were friends at that time, I can’t imagine how either of us would have made it had we not been.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I love Steve.  I am not in love with him, but I love him with all my heart.  Happy Anniversary Steve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Almost 51 years ago, I celebrated my first Christmas.  I am sure that day was a happy occasion filled with lots of food and drink, lots of family and lots of gift giving.  This picture I have posted is of my siblings, myself and my cousin John, who is one month older than me.  I am sitting on the lap of my oldest sister Judy and to our left is my sister Nila, who was 2 at the time and my brother David, age 6.
Our Christmas celebration lasted probably 3 or 4 days, maybe a week sometimes, and now that I look back on it, I don’t remember the true meaning of Christmas ever being shared during that time.  I wonder at what age I finally knew that this day was celebrated because of the birth of Jesus Christ.  I was raised in the Catholic Religion so I know that when I was old enough to understand what was happening at Church I knew what Christmas was about, but before then puzzles me.
In raising my step children and my own children, it was always about the birth of Jesus.  We, as a family, went to church, my children were involved in Christmas programs at church and we prayed together as a family, celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.
Sure there were presents and food and family but the meaning was there, the Celebration of the Birth of Christ was and is the reason for the holiday.
This Christmas will be different in the sense that it will probably just be my boys, their dad, my mom and I.  There will be food, there will be family, there may be a few gifts but the reason for the season, JESUS, will be in our hearts and in our home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tamales Tamales Tamales

When I was growing up, one of my favorite family Holiday traditions was making Tamales.  My dad would usually have vacation during the time us kids were out of school.  He and my mom would make probably 100 dozen tamales. My job in the process was to clean the corn husks.  This job went on for days. If you have never cleaned corn husks, the ones you buy in a bag at the store, you need to try it.  They are dry, and they have all this fine hair and dirt in them.  You can’t get them too wet because they can’t be soggy when you spread masa on them.
My dad was a perfectionist.  He knew the exact moment to take the corn husks out of the water and star unrolling them to take the strings and dirt out of them.  I would stand at the sink for hours doing this, always under the watchful eye of my dad.  There was no way I could do anything wrong, he was always watching me, I don’t understand how he got so much else done!!!  But he did.
He and my mom were amazing.  They would have all the burners on the stove going, pork roasts would be cooking, you could smell the garlic and bay leaves they were simmering with.  Once the meat was cooked, it would go on huge cutting board on the table and my dad would cut the meat up while my mom was making the Mole, that’s the red gravy they smother your food with when you go out for Mexican food.  Once the Mole was made, my mom would combine the meat with it while my dad was preparing the already prepared Masa, that’s the dough that’s around the meat in the tamale.  He bought the Masa prepared, so he didn’t have to do anything to it, but he would knead and season and taste that raw dough until it was perfect.  Once it was perfect, that’s when the fun began.
We, as a family, sat around the kitchen table, under the watchful eye of my dad, spreading masa on corn husks.  We used plastic spatulas for this process, and my daddy knew the EXACT amount of masa we needed for each corn husk.  As I mentioned earlier, this Happy Event usually took place during our Christmas Vacation, you know the time when all the kids are going to parties and such, well, we didn’t have to make tamales but if we didn’t, we couldn’t go out with our friends, talk on the phone, watch t.v. or anything else for that matter.  So, it really was a Family tradition.
Once the masa was spread on the corn husks, my mom would take the corn husk fill it with meat and mole, fold the husk and stand the tamale up in this HUGE pressure cooker we had.  The pressure cooker was the first one that Montgomery Wards ever made, my Granny used to use it to can meat, before there were Freezers!!!  It was made in the early 1900s.  I’m going to try to get a picture of it, so I can show you, sometime what I am talking about.
Anyway, this pressure cooker would hold about 10 dozen tamales.  Once the tamales were all in the pressure cooker and the mess was cleaned up, we were free for awhile and by that time it was already bed time so we would sleep, knowing that in the morning we were having yummy tamales for breakfast.  Lunch and dinner during the tamale making process usually consisted of bologna sandwiches, Laura Scudder’s barbeque potato chips and pepsi.
In the morning, my mom and dad would carefully wrap a dozen tamales in aluminum foil, then in a plastic bag.  A piece of paper was placed inside the bag, with the date the tamales were made.  These then went in the deep freezer, with a couple of dozen kept out for family and friends. This process went on for days and like I said we made 100 dozen tamales, if not more, each year.  My mom and dad had the reputation of making the best tamales ever.
It was a great feeling to be able to take a dozen tamales to my friends and know what a wonderful gift I was giving.  Our family, mostly on my dad’s side, the Gringos, would come for the holidays and they would brag and boast about the tamales for hours.  What a great feeling to know I was part of that.  It was not always a fun thing to do but the reaping the rewards was something I couldn’t explain.  Making Tamales is probably my most favorite holiday tradition because it included just my immediate family.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy 83rd Birthday Mom!!

This picture was taken in December of 1966, in Big Trees National Park, CA.  I was 8 years old, my brother was 14 and my sister 10.  The pretty lady holding the leash to our dog Red is my beautiful Mother Virginia.  In this picture my mom was 40 years old, younger than I am now.

Today my mom celebrated her 83rd birthday.  My mom has suffered several strokes so she is partially paralyzed on her right side, but she is still able to do most things for herself.  My mom is beautiful, smart and funny.  My mom loves to read and she loves to watch old movies, cooking shows and game shows on television.

Prior to my dad's death in July of 2003, my mom was very ill, most of that attributed to my dad's ill health, he had Parkinson's disease and drug induced dementia/sundowners.  My dad kept us busy taking care of him, his ill health, mostly the dementia caused a lot of stress on my mom, since he depended on her for so much, and in reality, she was not able to care for him.  After my dad's death my mom's health improved and for thelast 6 years she has been basically healthy.  She doesn't care to get out of the house, and mostly just goes out for dr. appts and occasionally to go take flowers to the cemetary to my dad and my grandmothers.

My mom was always a homemaker, when we got home from school she was here waiting for us, she cared for 4 children and my paternal grandmother, not to mention my dad.  She was a wonderful mother, very loving, very attentive to her children.  She raised all her children the same, treated us as fairly as life permitted, showed us all the same amount of love.  My mom played baseball in the street with us when we were short one person, she rollerskated with us, rode bikes, hula hooped, she loved spending time with her kids.

All this brings me to today.  Today was my mother's 83rd birthday.  Her birthday, like everyone else's, is on the same day every year.. it always has been.  Today, like last year and probably the year before, neither my brother nor my sister showed up to wish my mom a Happy Birthday.  My sister called earlier today, for some reason other than it being my mom's birthday, she never told me to tell mom Happy Birthday, she never asked how mom was today.  Yesterday my sister was here for less than 5 minutes, she never told my mom Happy Birthday then.  I have the hardest time with this.  My brother is the same way.  I can't remember the last time he actually showed up on a holiday to see my mom.  Birthdays and Holidays are for family.  My mom is the MOTHER, the QUEEN of this family.  I feel they are being disrespectful and I hate it.  I think it bothers me more than it bothers my mom.

We had a good day for mom's birthday.  Mom, my boys and I were just home together, I fixed a nice dinner for us, we had a few presents for mom, her favorite candy bars and a can of cashews.  We gave her a little pointsettia plant and some leg warmers for the cold.. My mom couldn't of been more happy.  She is so easy to please, such a warm loving person and my brother and sister are sure missing out.

Just venting!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I celebrated Thanksgiving with my little family on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve, because my son had to work on Thanksgiving Day. It was my mom, my sons David and Dale, and Danielle, who is David’s girlfriend. I fixed an 8lb turkey breast, STOVE TOP stuffing, cranberries, green bean casserole, mashed garlic potatoes, yams, ambrosia, dinner rolls, a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. Danielle came over early in the day and helped Dale and I prepare food. We had a good day, visiting and listening to music in the kitchen. Dale and I had a chance to get to know Danielle better. Mom was here, watching game shows and reading, as usual. When David came home from work, all the food was ready and we ate together, except for mom, she ate later, as she usually does. The boys dad, Steve, had to go to work late that night so he came over and had dinner on his way to work.
After we ate we started watching a movie and guess what? We all fell asleep!! Haha!! It was really a great day.
Thanksgiving morning I received a phone call, bright and early, from my grandsons who wanted to come and spend the day with me because Auntie Shelly had to work all day. I went and picked them up and brought them over, they chose to have McDonald’s for lunch, so that’s what we had. Andrew and Julian helped Uncle Dale hang Christmas lights on the house, then Uncle Dale made the boys a tire swing from the big Oak in our back yard. My 15 year old is pretty handy to have around, he enjoys keeping the little ones entertained. Andrew and I played a few games of cards, I taught him how to play rummy and we played that, speed and war. Andrew is 10. Today is Friday, it’s just after noon and the boys are still here, we have had a quiet morning. Just wanted to share the great part of my Thanksgiving with you all.
The sucky part of Thanksgiving was that neither my brother or sister showed up to see my mom. They chose not to call either. It just really pisses me off. I’m anxious to see what happens on Sunday, that will be my mom’s 83rd birthday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Caregiver forever?

This picture of my Granny, Laura Ann Fuller, was taken when she was 103 years young, in 1988.
 Rest In Peace Granny.  I love you and miss you. 

I believe that my caregiving role began at birth.  When I was born in 1958, my paternal grandmother lived with my parents.  I had three siblings, a half sister 12 years older than me, a brother 6 years older than me and a sister only 2 years older than me.  My dad worked in a local paper factory and my mom was a homemaker/caregiver.  In that year my granny, as we called her,  was 73 years old.  My granny had been in a car accident years prior and because of her injuries had really bad arthiritis in her legs.  I can vividly remember Christmas, when I was 4 years old, my Granny got a shiny aluminum walker from Santa Claus.  That was the greatest present ever that year, we could turn flips on it and everything. Granny loved to sew, she made clothes for my sisters and I, she made pillows, quilts, potholders and just about everything else you could imagine.  Her favorite place to sit was in her bedroom window, watching the world outside.  As the years progressed and as Granny got older, we did more and more for her.  By the time I was probably 14 I was helping Granny to bathe, fixing her food and staying home with her when my parents had to do something.  About that time, my Granny could no longer use the walker, with arthiritis in her fingers and legs, she just wasn't strong enough to stand and hold herself up.  She crawled all over the place, she wouldn't let us help her.  She was one tough cookie. Every summer my dad planned a family camping trip, we would have a caravan of cars going, sometimes there were 25 of us, and my Granny was always included.  My dad and my uncles would take turns carrying her on our hikes, they would take her and sit her on the river banks so she could fish and she slept outside like all the rest of us. At home, she still did the dishes daily, and got herself dressed.  This went on for a couple of years.  By this time, all my siblings had moved out and I was the only one home.  My responsibilities grew and I began spending lots more time with my Granny because my mom was going and helping to take care of her mom who lived only a couple of miles from us.  My job had went from helping her bathe, to bathing her, getting her dressed, changing her bed, cooking her food and helping her eat.  It was part of life.  In January of 1985 we celebrated my Granny's 100th birthday party with a big family celebration.  We rented a hall, had live music, food and a whole lot of fun.  My Granny's sister, Lillie, was 10years younger than her, their birthdays were only a couple of days apart and we celebrated both at that party.  I continued helping to care for my granny at home for two more years.  When she was 102 she got the flu really bad, had to be hospitalized and at that point had to go to a convalescent home.  Her mind was strong but her body was weak.  I was working full time and my mom couldn't care for her alone.  At that time our life changed just a little.  My dad was retired, he and my mom would go out to breakfast in the morning then to the convalescent home to feed Granny lunch.  When I got out of work, I would go and feed her dinner.  She was still in her "right" mind, and she so looked forward to seeing us. Granny used to wheel herself to the front door of the home and wait because she knew we would be there.  In the two years she lived there I was there everyday, sometimes twice a day.  I would not trade those days for anything.  I became friends with a few of the elderly ladies, one who I got very attached to.  She had a spine injury and her body was badly deformed but she had the brightest smile and a heart of gold.  I would feed her on one side of me and my Granny on the other.  I would push both ladies out on the patio and we would sit outside and look at the pretty flowers, listen to the birds chirp and just enjoy each others company.  Somedays, when it was nice out, I would push my granny for a walk, one day we walked a good 4 miles.  It makes me sad to think about it now.  It's been 20 years that she has been gone and I can feel her with me now.  My Granny lived to be 104 years YOUNG.  She was the backbone of our family.  She is the reason I am who I am today.  My granny taught me to be kind, to be patient, to love the elderly, just by being her.  This was only the beginning of my caregiving journey.  The story continues.  Please come back. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sheldon, Andrew and Julian

I have three wonderful grandsons.  Sheldon is 11 and belongs to my oldest stepdaughter Shelly who is an R.N. at the County Hospital Emergency Room.  Andrew is 10, he is the oldest son of my stepdaughter Annie, who passed away in May of 2008.  Julian is 6, he is Annie's youngest son.  Andrew and Julian are being raised by Shelly since Annie's death. 

Recently, like in the last 6 months, the boys have been "requesting" to come to my house A LOT.  They like the attention they get here, they love being with their uncles, David and Dale and I think they really just love the stability and sense of peace here at my house. When the boys first started coming over, it made me nervous because they are "wild" and I have my mom to watch out for.  I was really surprised and am blessed that they respect her "territory", they watch out for her and have become accustomed to her schedule. 

Thursday night I took them to see Dale's last football game.  When I dropped them off they asked if they could come over and spend the night on Friday, which they did also last weekend.  I picked them up from school on Friday and brought them over.  One night turned into the whole weekend.  We had so much fun, it was so great having them together, and playing with their uncles, climbing trees, throwing the football around, riding bicycles, playing legos.  They sure didn't watch too much television, they were very busy.  They even helped me out in the yard, raking and picking up leaves.  They mostly fend for themselves when they are home so I enjoy doing for them, cooking for them, loving on em, and just enjoying every minute I can with my wonderful grandsons. 

Raising my stepchildren was far from easy, probably the second hardest thing I have ever done.  Our household was the picture of dysfunctional.  It was horrible for everyone, there was lots of abuse, of all kinds.

It is such a blessing to me to be able to be past all of that.  To live in the now and appreciate what God has given me. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I love THE DESIDERATA, have carried a copy of it with me for many years, since I was a young adult.

The Desiderata
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Madness

Seems like eveyone is blogging these days.  It's taken me forever to get this done.  Whenever I start a blog, it's like, "I don't know what to say", "what should I write about?"!!  So I finally decided to do it, to see what I would write about and who would come and read it.  I am basically an open book, I don't have any trouble talking to people, I'm honest about my life, where I have been and what I have done.  I have definately been around the block a few times so I'm sure I will find something to write about, something that will maybe interest, maybe educate a few people.  Please, if you are reading this, don't judge me too harshly, for I have only come to share and vent.