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.