A Good Move

I see that it’s been a few days since any posting–my how time flies–so let me update the scene at Bickford. I mentioned a few posts ago that we’d agreed to move Mom to the room closer to the dining room and living room since her walking has deteriorated so much. Saturday I, my husband, my sister and her husband marched on Bickford with dolly and straps in hand. My husband immediately began dismantling the bed, while we others worked on smaller items that fit well on the dolly. The furniture was all moved before 2:00. How well I know that the furniture, though heavy, is the easy part. It’s all that little stuff to be cleaned out of closet and cupboards that takes time. One of the changes we faced in the new room is that, though the room is bigger, the closet is significantly smaller. Why? Nevertheless, we were faced with more down-sizing because of that, and also removed items my mother no longer can use. Out went the typewriter, the few golf clubs at the back of the closet, and the smaller size pants that just don’t fit anymore (don’t tell Mom! She still worries about the size of her stomach). We debated the boom box, but left it since she enjoys the music if someone turns it on for her. But there is no where for the bird seed or the vacuum cleaner, and the space to hang clothing is laughable. I’d like to remove some of the shelving from the closet, but I don’t know if that’s OK. We haven’t tackled that issue yet. And then there’s the other thing: what to do with the stuff we brought out. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Continue reading

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Guest post–Kathy’s sister

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end,
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again.
James Taylor, 1970

Mom not able to walk to the dining room? Ha. She would walk the dogs over the dunes, golf 18 holes with friends, come home and direct lunch, afternoon activies, another walk on the dunes, dinner, then to walk the the golf course at Crystal Downs while teaching capricious grandchildren how to golf. Then cards and popcorn while the kids played video games. And now she can’t walk safely without a walker. Can’t make it from her room down two halls to the living room without pain and shortness of breath. Can’t manage a trip to the bathroom alone. Doesn’t know what day it is. Doesn’t even know how to call for help. Continue reading

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Never too old to learn new tricks

The last post I wrote was rather a downer, though writing it was helpful to me to see (once again!) that my power to make my parents’ lives painless is impossible. Accepting that has taken, and will continue to take, a long time. So thank you for reading about some of my lowest moments. It was only as I wrote the words that Guilt was whispering in my ear that I found my response–that Mom suffers no matter what I or my sister do. And in fact, she is probably doing better than I think she is. The staff at Bickford are so loving; the part-time cook bought, with her own money, a waffle-maker so she can treat my parents to one of their favorite foods. They REALLY enjoyed the waffles; I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate this wonderful, caring woman. Continue reading

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Discouraging words heard

I went to Bickford today for the first time since Sunday; it’s been a week since my laryngitis symptoms first showed up. I called the nurse this morning and asked her if she thought it was OK to come. Wash your hands, she said, which I did with vigor, and added some anti-bac gel. Do viruses also die upon gel application? Or only bacteria? I found Dad in front of the fireplace, napping, but he woke readily, and he could hear me, which was a relief. We visited about the snow, the pleasure of the fireplace, and when he said, “I’m often in the fireplace,” he corrected himself with a laugh, and we joked about his hidden talent of walking on hot coals. Dad checked his watch, since he didn’t want to get caught up in the weekly hymn sing! but there was still about 40 minutes until it started. Continue reading

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Talk talk

It’s Monday morning. Since I last posted, I have developed laryngitis, somewhat to my relief, because then I could stop being responsible for awhile. Apparently this wish to get just a LITTLE sick is common amongst overburdened people. In my growing-up family, there was no excuse for sitting around unless you were sick. Really sick, by the way, not malingering. If we didn’t have a fever, we kids went to school, no matter how sick we felt. And if we did stay home, we had to stay in our beds, because if we felt like being up with the family, that meant we weren’t sick and back to the salt mines with you! So I welcome laryngitis since I don’t feel too bad, but can take as an excuse to stay home. No malingering here, honest! Continue reading

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Moving and changing

Yesterday’s visit did little to relieve my feelings of depression and hopelessness. Now, wait a minute, Kathy. Hopelessness? Well, yes, kind of. I walked in to find Mom in the bathroom, struggling with painful constipation, and being assisted by a dear, kind, wonderful aide who was “massaging the area.” [the people who do the grunt [ha ha!] work are NOT paid enough. I’m getting her a treat.] And only a little blood with the bowel movement? Swell. I spoke to the nurse, and we concluded that Mom needs fluids pushed to make the Miralax work, which means her bladder will fill more often, which means she’ll be incontinent more, which means the room will smell…. Yeah. A bit of hopelessness. No matter what we do, Mom suffers, or loses her dignity. Continue reading

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Crystal ball gazing

Yesterday I slept late; I had watched the Oscars Sunday night, and I don’t handle staying up late too well. I was emerging from slumber, vaguely aware I was awakening, when I heard footsteps coming down the hall. “Mom!” I cried out, with some sense that it was Mom, and that it was urgent I get her attention, that I catch her before she was gone. My voice wakened me the rest of the way, and there was my husband, getting ready to go to the dentist on an ordinary day. What led to my calling out? I don’t know, but I was surprised to hear myself, and that I had such a desire to talk to her. I think I miss my mom. Continue reading

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I’m Mom–a reminiscence

As I get older (I’m now in my sixth decade, children), I see Mom coming out in me more and more, in ways that I mocked at one time. The issue of used paper napkins, for one thing. It’s important for you to first know that my mother never bought paper towels. That’s right. For much of her adult life NO PAPER TOWEL ever purchased. Instead, she saved used paper napkins in a tan plastic bucket under the sink, and used those instead of paper towel for the quick mop-up of a small spill. I didn’t give this much thought when young because it was just what went on at our house, but as an adult I sneered at my mother’s penny-pinching ways. In her case, the napkin reuse was 1) because the napkins were still perfectly good for a second use, and also 2) saved money. Not that we needed to save money, since my father was quite successful professionally and financially, and my mother could have bought paper towel by the carload. Mom’s philosophy came from the Great Depression–You Never Know When It Might Strike Again–and Dad’s was from the Great Depression–Hurray! We’re OK! Buy Paper Towels! Oddly, Mom was the one with a stable family income as a child, and Dad was poor in Brooklyn. Explain, in 300 words or less. Continue reading

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Yup, Florida was good

We returned from Florida at 12:54 a.m. Sunday. My husband and I seem to have a genius for getting home around 1:00 a.m., and I need to wind down for at least an hour; I never fall asleep until 2:00 or 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning found me exhausted, and though my husband was up in time for church, I was too tired to go. At about 9:25, my husband called and said, “You’re down for the children’s story!” which I had forgotten; it was not on my calendar. If my computer is not readily at hand to add an event to my calendar, the chances of me remembering when away from home are slim-to-none. Argh! “I can’t get there in time. Could you do it?” My dear husband, who has done lots of public speaking and by the way is a retired pastor, agreed to do it. I felt bad about this Dereliction of Duty, and braced myself for my husband to be angry with me when he got home. But…in a Grace-Full way, he was not upset. I did apologize again, and thanked him for his graciousness. What a sweetheart. Continue reading

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Oh Happy Day!–guest post, Kathy’s sister

You never know what you are going to get when you walk into Bickford. It always has the potential to surprise. Often the surprises are not good ones. It can be Dad hollering, “OH, NO!” as you walk in the door because you are not the one who will give him his bath. It could be Mom in need of personal care or room freshening (again). It could any number of usual things such as Mom having no clean pants in her closet, or Dad is out of Pepprigde Farm Jewish Seeded Rye Bread, or Mom’s almost out of Kellog’s Raisin Bran Crunch, or Coco is out of Science Diet or the bird feeders are empty or I just missed Mom because she’s out with Fonda for her biweekly coffee run (Kristi, it’s EVERY Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am) or Dad has to get to chair exercise RIGHT NOW or…well, you get the idea. Continue reading

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