Friday, December 24, 2010

Angels and Demons

Have you ever thought you met an angel on earth?  Here's what I know (which is not much) but that I learned from the bible about angels. The word angel comes from the greek word "aggelos" which means messenger. Angels are not glorified human beings. They were created all together at the same time so there are no baby angels. You don't really ever become an angel when you die. Angels often take on the form of humans. How else could you "entertain angels unaware" Hebrews 13. Sometimes they appear "white and blazing". I think I have a guardian angel by the way. He's more the "white and blazing" type and has come to give me a message several times in my life.

All angels are not good, some are bad and called fallen angels or demons. They worship the devil or they are like devils themselves. Then there were those confusing angels in Genesis 6 that had sex with the daughters of men and God didn't like that one bit so he destroyed everyone but Noah and his family with a flood. People often think these were not angels and that they were aliens. No one really knows.

What do angels do? They praise God, give messages, protect, strengthen and encourage. I've been blessed to meet some angelic like people lately in Mom's little world and some demons too. 

 Mom started getting these cards from a lady that neither of us knew. They weren't just any cards!  They were the most beautiful cards we had ever seen. She makes them herself and they have all these lovely charming and delighful little details that she lovingly creates. Not only were we perplexed by the cards but by the letters that came with them. The short little letters were written as if she were an old friend who knew Mom very well. She writes of her husband, children and grandchildren as if Mom was aquainted with them all. These cards arrived regularly and Mom really started looking forward to getting another card from her curious interesting talented new friend, Rachel.  Rachel wrote of going to the mall, taking a trip, eating in a deli, all kinds of nice things.

As annoying as this is to me, my dear mother doesn't like anything to be added to her space or moved about. Everyday, I go through the same old  monotonous tasks of straitening pictures that have been moved slightly by the cleaning people, putting the socks on the right side of the drawer and the gowns on the left, folding the throw on top of Mom's bed down to the exact size so that it only covers her feet and many other tedious wierisome tasks that Mom finds absolutely necessary in order to be satisfied for me to leave so she can watch Wheel of Fortune.  So...back to Rachel's cards.

Mom has a rule that all cards be thrown away after 1 day. She keeps them for 1 day in her drawer in a certain designated space. This is the rule for all cards and letters except Rachel's cards. Neither of us could throw them away.
Last week I walked in to the dining room to see Mom and she exclaimed "Guess who come to see me today while I was getting my hair done?" "Who did?" I said. "It was Rachel!" Mom was just beaming! Rachel had come to visit and Mom was so thrilled to actually meet her wonderfully creative friend.  Rachel also brought cookies in a beautifully crafted box that Mom can't throw away either.

Rachel is an angel who uses her talents in the sweetest caring giving way to encourage and strengthen the elderly. An exceptional Christian woman.

There's another lady that is not only angelic but a perfect example of a real true friend. When I first noticed her, I assumed she was the sister of the lady she frequently visits. She visits her most every day. As we were talking one day, I learned that she isn't family at all, she's a life long friend. In fact, the precious elderly lady she visits is not easy to visit because she isn't doing well. She shakes terribly and is becoming unaware of who she is, where she is and so on.  This lovely caring loyal and true friend cares for this ailing woman so kindly. She makes sure she has everything she needs and brings her daughter to visit too. This angelic lady is often annoyed because her ailing friend doesn't get many visits from her real family. Only God can judge but...well.. you probably know what I think of them.

Speaking of those people that God will judge, there's those who seldom visit but then throw a fit when they do. They come once or twice a year, act appalled at the care of their elderly family member, scream and complain at everyone and then they are on their way.  They remind me of "seagull"managers at work. They swoop down, poop on everything, squak squak and fly away.  Only God can judge these family visitors as well but you can tell what everyone else thinks of them.

God blesses us with wonderful angelic like people who encourage us as we grow old and are an example of selflessness to all around. The demons are necessary too I guess in some ways to remind us to be more tolerant.  Or maybe so we can appreciate the fact that there really are wonderful people around who do wonderful caring loving gestures everyday without any desire to be noticed at all. This Christmas I thank God for all the unknown unannouced people who give their presents of love and care to those who are sick and old. God bless you!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

When I was young, my family would take a long 24 hour car trip to Louisiana on Christmas to visit my Papaw and Mamaw. We would arrive very late in the evening. My grandparents lived in the country. 

It was somewhat intimidating for a little girl from the Ohio suburbs. It was black as night can ever be. No city street lights lit up the Louisiana bayou country roads. The tired little city girl that I was, inquisitively peaking out the car window to find that there were curious creepy eyes from a numerous variety of critters all peaking just as curiously back at me. Just when it was starting to feel more like Halloween, I would see in the distance, the bright, shining, warm ,tiny home of my Mamaw and Papaw. No matter how late we got there, everyone was still up waiting for us. We'd drive up and pile out of our car, my bare feet stepping right out into chicken poop but who cares! We were home for Christmas!
The Wright's, my father's family would all come running out of the house, laughing, loving, hugging and expressing their joy in just how much I had grown. My Mamaw with her cup in her hand would always proclaim with a long slow Louisiana drawl the initials to my father's name, "Jaaaay- Dubb-Aah- Ya" and with tears in her eyes declare, "I cried a cup full a tears worrying and waiting for you to get here."

The little Louisiana shack would be decorated with lights from top to bottom and every area of the kitchen lined with Christmas candy, cakes, pies and yummy sweet southern hospitality. We could feel it, we knew that everyone had been waiting and preparing for weeks for us to come.

My mother also prepared for Christmas in a similar manner and later on as an adult, I would always gain at least 10 pounds in each visit. She made a gooey delicious fruit cake of real cherries and nuts. She labored for weeks in advance over a variety of homemade fudge, rum balls, candy, pies and cakes as well as the most mouth watering turkey and dressing anyone could ever bake. She prepared in anticipation for me and my family to drive down the lane and the same welcome of  warm hugs and love would ring out.

Unfortunately, at the moment Mom doesn't really look forward to Christmas or any other holiday for that matter. All the activity and changes in routine are more upsetting than they are enjoyable. Her stroke causes her to have trouble swallowing the Christmas goodies and knowing my mom as I do, it takes all the fun out of it when she can't give of herself or do any of the cooking. Frankly, she's been going through one of those "no" phases lately when you just can't really ever make her smile. It's been one of those weeks where I wander cheerless from her room, down the hall to the nurses station and state my all too familiar frustrations. "Please have the doctor call me on Monday, her meds need tweaked again. Nothing makes her happy and she's driving me crazy!"

The road is dark for her, there are scary creatures along the way but we know that a wonderful place is being prepared for her. Someday, somewhere else, she will be happy again and filled with joy. Her family and loved ones will all run out to meet her. Yes, there's comfort in that thought.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3

Happy Holidays! Enjoy them while you have them, young and old!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some things change and other's don't.

I can't help but laugh out loud! My husband Dan went out of town for a few days and when I told Mom, she said " Oh my! Is Eric or Zach going to come and stay with you? What are you going to do? You will be all alone!!"  Mom often makes comments like this and she is completely serious. The thought of me calling my adult sons and telling them they need to come home and stay with me because my man is out of town makes me laugh out loud. I can't help it!

How things have changed! In just one generation, things have changed a lot! 

 She says things that are completely sensible to her and completely absurd to me. 
" It's getting late! What have you planned for dinner? Dan will be getting home soon. What will he eat?"

" Don't you need to do the ironing? What will Dan wear to work?"

Here's one she mentioned lately that totally blew me away!

"Perhaps your friends husband left her for another woman because she was not a good sex partner and was refusing him. Men have urges." 

That one didn't make me laugh, it irritated me. "Mom??Men don't necessarily go out on their wives because they are not good sex partners and not giving them any, in fact most the time it's the same reason as when women have affairs. Women have urges too!" In response to that, I get a confused blank look.

Is this worth discussing? No it's not. My mom grew up in a different time and was a wonderful home maker and loving wife and mother. I really appreciate that and I am certainly lucky to have such a wonderful mom. I have worked full time outside the home for 35 years and I don't think I have been a neglectful wife or mother, only a different kind of wife and mother. Some things change.

This all makes me wonder?  When I am 87 years old, what will I say to make some nice younger woman laugh out loud ? What will I say that will make them irritated? I guess when that happens, I'm going to give them that confused blank look.  It works well and it's really not worth discussing.

 Some things change and other's  don't.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sorry Mom. I fell down a slippery slope and took you with me.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go.
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Mom and I love the above poem.  I'm feeling like that poem today, non-conforming.

Being a  preacher's kid,  I used to rebel against the term "slippery slope". Why? For those of you who did not have to go to EVERY bible class and got to stay home and watch cartoons instead, there are some important things that you can learn there. One is that you are not supposed to add or take away from the Bible. Don't think I don't know where that Bible verse is! It's Revelations 22:19 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Church members often quote this verse and then quickly add the slippery slope argument. There you go again, doing things that are questionable, adding things that are dangerously close to the edge and doing this or that should be avoided at all costs because before you know it, you are sitting smack dab in the middle of  Sodom and Gomorrah.

I still hate the slippery slope argument sometimes. I still ask "why not?" a lot. I still argue that although there is a chance that one thing may lead to another, there's another chance that nothing will happen at all. Once a PK, always a PK.
OK so I have to admit it. There is such a thing as a slippery slope in elderly care. I believe in it and avoid it at all costs. Watching the elderly get just one small thing, a cold, a urinary tract infection, a broken bone and then they fall down a slippery slope, one thing leading to another and in just a few days, they are dead. It happens more time than not. Something like this happened to mom recently. She didn't die but we both slipped down a slippery slope.

There was this nurse aid that Mom was complaining to me about. This person did small things that just annoyed her. These things were little complaints like not caring about what mom preferred to wear, telling mom she needed to wait until a certain time to go to the bathroom, taking things of Mom's and using them on other patients. I remember when I was young, I had a mean teacher, she did small uncaring things like this to me. My dad went up to the school and told her, "my daughter is learning from you, but the problem is she doesn't feel loved ." My mom had a similar complaint. She didn't feel loved. I decided that since none of these things were serious or urgent, I would wait until the scheduled care meeting to complain.  I guess the reason I decided to wait is because I forgot that everyone doesn't have to like me. I didn't want to be that person that complains about something every day. Also, I told myself that if I complain too much, my important complaints wouldn't be taken as seriously.  Thinking like this was a big mistake.

This nurse aid injured my Mom's knee because she was in a hurry and didn't use the proper method of transferring her. I don't think she hated my mom. She just didn't love her.  She didn't care enough about the small things. The injuring of Mom's knee caused her to have to use the mechanical lift again. Mom hates the mechanical lift. Mom was put on pain killers. Pain pills make Mom anxious and irritable. This made everything in Mom's life change. Elderly people do not react to change every well. Mom had to change her schedule, the way she goes to the bathroom, and just couldn't go at all  for three days. She had to take a shower laying down and her hair got all wet right after it was fixed at the beauty parlor. She became depressed and told me she wanted to leave this world. Her depression meds had to be changed.

This was a mistake that I will never make again.  I turned into a big you know what and everyone in the entire nursing home now knows that I could care less whether they like me or not. This happened several weeks ago and I was so angry I had to wait this long to even write about it. This particular nurse aid will never come near my mother again. Never ever let anyone take care of your loved one that has an uncaring attitude. Never worry about complaining about it. Don't try to comfort me about it and say "well you didn't know that would happen, it's not your fault." It is my fault! It's the nurse aid's fault and it's my fault too. It's certainly not Mom's fault.  I am very sorry.

That's my hard learned lesson and my advice for anyone caring for an elderly person.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The story of Nancy Wright's birth

Mom's birthday is August 1st. She will be 87 years old. This is the story of her birth. It is a true story. It is not like a blog posting but since it is her birthday, I thought it would be appropriate. This may be the first 2 chapters of a book someday, you never know.

find the story of Nancy Wright's birth below:

The flood was coming! The entire drainage area between Hutchinson and Arkansas City received excessive rains. Major flooding occurred all along the Arkansas River carrying away most of the bridges. In Huntsville Arkansas, little Ada Whitten sat on the porch of her meager home with her legs crossed Indian style. She watched the high waters coming closer and closer to her scanty little dwelling with fear in her heart. Ada was with child. She had gone out to see the water rising the day before and within it, she saw several little black snakes. Startled, she ran inside. At church that evening, she told several of her friends “I saw black snakes in the water and I’m afraid of snakes, more than the flood!” Fearfully, suspiciously, they whispered to Ada, “Do not look at those snakes, don’t speak of them or even think of them for you will mark your unborn child!” Ada reached down and felt her swelled pregnant belly, the baby moved and kicked at her as if it were warning her too. Ada sat on the church pew that night and listened intently to her beloved husband David preaching the gospel of Christ and chased away the thoughts of the black snakes by praising the Lord. She sang the hymns passionately and faith took the place of her fear.

Ada didn’t like Arkansas. Ada was proudly from Texas. She followed her husband, a preacher with immovable conviction to spread the truth and help the church grow there. She came to this foreign state and foreign people against her will but she never mentioned how miserable she was to David. Ada believed that her husband David knew what was best for her and her family and she had promised to obey him. She honored him and sat at his knee happily every evening as he prayed.

Many of the folks in these parts disagreed with David Whitten’s “Campbellite” Church of Christ gospel. They were downright hostile about it and it frightened her. David had been beaten up and run out of towns in the past after winning his Bible debates. She worried those who disagreed in this place were so backward, they would kill him! “Those ladies at Church have got me spooked over nothing!” she thought. Unfortunately, ideas of the baby being marked by the snakes kept cropping back up in her mind. Ada knowing her Bible by memory came up with Genesis 1:24-25 for c omfort. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.” Ada said proudly out loud to herself, “God made snakes! Snakes are good! This baby will not be marked with evil but with good and God’s love!” There she stood proudly outside the small and meager little shack she unwillingly called home. There she stood with her hands in the air praising her almighty God, her tiny pregnant body, about to pop! It started to rain and she noticed the waters were still rising. It’s perfectly dry in Texas she thought. “You can always tell a Texan, but not much,” she giggled.

Ada started feeling the pains of labor coming on the next morning while fixing breakfast for her family. She and David had been blessed by four female children and they both secretly hoped this one was a boy. Doris, the oldest of the girls noticed her mother squirming around oddly and took over her duties. “You go and lay down; I’ll take care of it.” Doris was able to sense that the birth may be coming because she had watched while the other three were born. Ada whispered to David, “It’s coming, get the Dr.!” David then reluctantly revealed the dreadful news he already knew but was keeping to himself and hoping he didn’t have to bare. “The doctor can’t get here because of the flood. He will come as soon as he can but he can’t come now.” David looked at his small but sturdy little wife with love and as much certainty and optimism as he could muster, “We will do this without the Dr., the Lord will be with us and you and the baby will be fine!” he said.

On August 1st, 1923 in Huntsville Arkansas, the Lord blessed David and Ada Whitten with yet another little girl. She was carefully delivered by her father. She came fairly quickly with no complications. They affectionately named her Nancy Lou and oddly she was born with two little front teeth and a squiggly looking birthmark on her forehead. It looked kind of like a little black snake.

The Dr. traveling in his black buggy finally arrived a few days later at the home of David and Ada Whitten. After examining Nancy and her mother, he found them to be healthy. Ada asked about the two little teeth. “Have you ever heard of a baby born with teeth?” The Dr. reassured her, “it’s rare but it does happen and they may fall out in a few days and they might just stay right there.” He added with a smile, “Nursing could be a little painful though.” Ada was a little embarrassed by that remark and didn’t respond. “And the mark on her head?” she continued curiously. The Dr. responded kindly, “it’s a birthmark and as she grows it will move right up to the top of her head under her hair.” “Don’t worry about it, your little Nancy is just fine!” he said confidently.

The Whitten family had become so pitiable by the time Nancy was born that the little newborn girl was diapered with old second-hand cut off shirts, provided by the other church members. The newly founded Arkansas church tried their best to help but they didn’t have any money either. David was dedicated to preaching the truth and spreading the word. He had expressed to Ada many times that this task took some sacrifice.

Ada just wanted to go back home! She remembered such better days, riding to their Texas church in their covered wagon with a plate of fried chicken to eat! She recalled the little girls all dressed up nicely and enjoying their chicken without spilling one little bite of it on their Church clothes. She thought of this and what happy times they had back then. She looked sadly at Nancy’s diapers. She felt embarrassed and ashamed for little Nancy. “My child deserves better!” she cried. At that very moment, Ada did something completely out of character, something she never would have thought that she would do, something she would never before have had the nerve to do! She marched right up to her devout willful husband like a mother hen! Standing there, the persevering young woman put her hands on her tiny hips obstinately, looked her husband right in the eye and declared her wishes. “Nancy Lou needs real diapers and we are going home!”

The poor little Whitten family moved back to Texas shortly after that exceptionally rare motherly declaration. David, the spiritual leader and father that he was, knew what was best for his family. They couldn’t live on faith alone. Not this time, not now! They needed to move home where Ada’s parents could help them. David knew he would find somewhere to preach the gospel there and farm for money like he did before. From then on, Nancy Lou giggled and cooed in her new bright white cotton diapers.

It was David’s decision to move back. Ada’s maternal instinct helped to inspire it. The new little mother was happy when Nancy’s two rare teeth fell out. It made nursing easier. New baby teeth came in and her strange little squiggly birthmark disappeared under her blonde braided hair just as the Dr. said it would. Nancy Lou was a good baby with a gentle temperament, just like her dear mother. Ada affectionately patted her lovely child on the head from time to time saying, “Nancy Lou, you were marked with God’s love and he has so many good plans for you!” God did have plans for Nancy Lou! Wonderful plans! Her parents with God’s help would make certain of that!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's to argue about? Not much.

"Thus says the Lord, who created you, do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you:and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you: when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. you are precious in my sight, and honored , and I love you." Isaiah 43:1-2,4.

This blog is about elderly people who for some reason have ended up needing 24 hour nursing care. None of us really want to end up there but we may find ourselves there someday or at least visiting someone we love.. By visiting my mom every day, I  learn and observe similarities that I feel the need to express. For example: What's to argue about?

I'm certain you can think of a time in your life when something happened, something tragic, something life changing and it made you stop. You stopped arguing with your family, battling with your ex, bumping heads with your boss or facing off with your coworker. For a brief moment in time, all the bickering ceased!  In my case, it was when my teenage son was hit by a car. Before that,  my ex and I had been constantly arguing and in complete disagreement about everything!  It had come to the point to where I didn't even have an emergency phone number because he didn't want me to have it. I had to have the operator call his blocked number and leave this message: "Luke's been hit by a car, he's going into surgery, what ever we were angry about, it doesn't matter now. Just hurry to the hospital, our son's been hurt!"

Don't you wish that moment in time just remained constant?  There wouldn't be any wars, any neighbor's fuming, any inflamed emails about politics, no church disputes, no divorce, no family grudges, no resentful co workers and no indignant bosses. Instead just peace!

  Elderly people seldom argue about politics, religion, family, exes or anything else. They watch the news, they know who the president is, they still believe in their religion but they just don't argue about it anymore. They talk about the important things in life, like love and family, how good God is. What's important? Waking up, eating, singing, praying, playing, working, exercising, living and breathing. It's simple to be happy!  Have they come to the realization that they can't change other people's minds? Is that it?  One of my Mom's elderly  friends , a veteran and a gentleman described it perfectly while shaking his cowboy hatted head sadly and discribing his son's total disdain for the politics of the day, " Yelling at the TV? What good does that do!"

That's what I love about this stage of life! It's a "respect your differences" argue free zone. It's calm, collected, neutral and friendly. Please God, let it rub off on me!  Will I care about this when I'm old? If the answer is no, then I'm going to stop being so angry about it. Dear God,  "Grant me to accept the things I cannot change. Change the things I can. And the ability to know the difference." Elderly people seem to know the difference and they are preparing  to go somewhere else! Somewhere better, somewhere God lives.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What has no end?

What has no end? Well not this life…anyway.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 22:13

What has no end? God and God’s love is eternal. The other answer is “a doughnut.”

There’s a nice tall older gentleman in my water aerobics class. He’s in great shape for his age and never misses a class. As we were bobbing up and down in the water doing our required amount of leg kicks, he said to me, “Life expectancy in the USA is 70 years old. If you get there, be happy! That means you did good! It’s all downhill after that.”

People who are older and I mean obviously nearing the “end” insist that their day have a set beginning, a set middle and a set end. My mom likes to stick to an established routine. She does not desire any spontaneity in her life. Variety is a bad word ! She wants it all to be the same way, the same time every day. She even dislikes it if I’m pushing her in her wheelchair back to her room and I decide to take a different route. The minute I start to turn, her feet plant themselves down on the floor to stop the movement of the wheelchair and as I’m about to topple over her because of this abrupt move, she says “whoa, why are we going this way? No!!! I don’t want to go this way!”

There’s a nice old lady at Mom’s dining room table that must have chocolate ice cream for dessert every meal. About halfway through the meal, she starts wondering where her chocolate ice cream is. This lady never says anything else throughout the meal but half way through, she takes the big effort of holding her bony little hand up in the air and waving, she insists, “Where’s my chocolate ice cream? Where’s my chocolate ice cream? Chocolate ice cream? ” She says this over and over until someone notices and gives her some cold creamy chocolate ice cream! The same thing happens every day, “chocolate ice cream” like clockwork.

Another petite elderly lady with tiny little glasses and a big happy personality can suddenly turn into a big grumpy if her bath’s not on time. As I walk toward her she sighs “Oh, oh, oh, no”. Of course you and I both know that this means I should come over and touch her shoulder and ask her why. She can’t hear so I lean over and speak loudly into her ear, “What’s wrong?” She then scrunches up her wrinkly little lips, looks at me with sorrowful teary eyes and squeals “Oh they didn’t come and give me a bath today until three o’clock!” "it just ruined my day!" Her bath is supposed to be at two o clock. Old ladies always watch the clock! If you are late, they hate it!

OK, so here’s the truth!

All this makes you want to roll your eyes and say, “Big deal, your bath’s late, Don’t worry about it! You are an old lady anyway and your bath time is not the most important thing in the world! “Or “Shut up! You’ll get your ice cream, there’s plenty of it, this is the United States of America and there is no shortage of chocolate Ice cream! “Or “Get over it! We are taking a different route to your room? I looked it up on map quest and turning here will get you there just as fast!”

I admit it! Sometimes I DO say that! When I do, I get different reactions, Sometimes the reaction is a look of surprise and then a smile. Sometimes it's not.

Most the time,  I say what I know that I should say, which is “Bless your heart, pick your feet up and we will go the way you want to, the same way as we go every day, Your so right Darlin, it’s just terrible that your bath was an hour late, those bath people should be ashamed of themselves for making you wait and All right sweety, let’s get you some chocolate ice cream, you deserve your chocolate ice cream right now!”

Old people do have an end and it’s soon, there’s no reason to argue with them, if possible, it’s best to just go with the flow.

“Whatever you want mom, whatever it is, lets’ do it. I love you so much”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How do you do that sitting flat down in a chair?

At my age there's 2 things I have learned.
1. never pass a restroom AND
2..never trust a fart!"

My brother Johnny told my Mom that joke and she just cackled and giggled at it.
 I'm just going to say it strait out honest! Old  age is about BM. I know it's not what people like to think about, talk about or usually post in a blog but it's a problem that can't be politely ignored.  If you did, you would not be honest. We all know BM is not so bad for babies. We buy little diapers, wipe them down and powder off their little sweet bottoms. Then as we get older, it's something we just deal with but still humans figured out a long time ago, first with outhouses then toilets. We just flush it away and that's that. Then the day comes for lots of old folks when it becomes less private again.  This less private thing happened to Mom recently and it's a dreaded reality to elderly people. It's called losing your bathroom privileges . Yes using the bathroom is a privileges. Taking that away makes an old person feel defenseless, and without dignity.

This week the staff decided they couldn't help mom to the bathroom anymore. She's getting weaker,( dead weight ) and too heavy to transport from the wheel chair to the toilet. They now have to transport her from the chair to her bed with a large mechanical lift that picks her up in a sling. This lift does not work with a toilet in the bathroom. Mom found out she was put on the mechanical lift which she hates anyway and then realized it meant losing her bathroom privileges. Mom cried . I cried  with her.  We complained, cried, reevaluated, moved her to a new room, cried, had meetings about it, more meetings were held without us because we were crying, we saw the Dr., talked to physical therapy and just about anything else we could think to do. Solutions and compromises were made but not without lots of change. She had to move to a new room. She isn't thrilled with the new room either. She has to get used to new roomates and misses her old one. Her old roomate saw me and she cried too!,  She waved her little boney gloved hands around in the air and belted out, "I hate to get a new roomate. You always have to break them in again." Change is never considered a good thing to old people.

 Finally as a part of the compromises that needed to be made, the powers that be decided Mom could be transported into a larger bathroom down the hall once a day. She now has bathroom privileges back! We were much happier with this, even if it's only once a day. Thank goodness Mom is on a regular schedule regarding the you know what and usually goes you know where around the same time. Let's face it, old age really is all about BM!  Life for mom can be made miserable because of it, the more of it, the less of it, where to go, what to put it in. It's gross. When it comes to the concept of just doing it in your pants? Mom would not, could not do it!  The reality of it was stated firmly by my dear mother to me  "How do you do that sitting flat down in a chair?" Good question? The logistics of that would disturb most anyone.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to love a grumpy old man!

Sing and you'll be happy today. Press along to the goal. Trust in him who leadeth the way, he is keepin your soul. Let the world know where you belong, Look to Jesus and pray. live by faith and sing it my friend, sing and be happy today.

That’s an old song my Dad and I used to sing. He never was a Grumpy Old Man. Even towards the end when most people would have been, my dad always had a positive attitude and a big “hi-dy” and a hug. I’m not saying that grumpy old men aren’t lovable. I think they are!

Mom loves that movie “Grumpy Old Men”. They recently moved two of our favorite grumpy old men to another wing of the Wesleyan. We miss them and their grumpy antics. They were often so entertaining. Why they don’t make a movie called “Grumpy Old Women”. Women are grumpy for some excuse or other for their whole life. We have PMS when we are young , we get post partum depression after we have a baby and later in life, we get menopause. There IS actually a medical term for “Grumpy Old Men” it’s called “ SLOH, a testosterone decline that has been clinically documented and significantly affects quality of life. In less medical terms, being an old man takes away your macho!

My little long haired dachshund Oscar loves old folks. Most the residents where Mom lives love me to bring Oscar. They oooohh and aaahhh and want to hold him the same as if you just brought them their first grandchild! It’s funny because they even compete for his attention and beaming they will let him lick them all over their smiley old wrinkly faces. One day, I brought Oscar down the hall and this grumpy old man got very angry! “Get that blankety blankety blank dog outa here!” I replied nicely, “He’s allowed to be here in the hall, just not in the dining area.” He spitted back, “I don’t give a damn! Get that blankey blankey blank dog out of here! ” I got angry then and picked up my little Oscar affectionately, gripping him under my arm, I leaned down to answer him right in the eye, saying calmly and firmly “well I don’t give a damn either! Now listen to me you old  grump! I don’t work here and I don’t have to put up with you!” Then I saw it! That little mischievous look hiding there somewhere underneath in his cloudy grumpy eyes and his old pouting  mouth curled up a little to one side! He was enjoying this!
Laughing at how he got a rise out of me later, I realized that I love that old grumpy man! I really do, he cracks me up! All I needed to do was see the real man, the funny interesting one underneath! We have gotten along great ever since! Mom and I miss him too. Mom says “I really hate it when he takes the Lords name in vain but I still miss that old guy!”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

She's just so "high maintenance" you know.

As the life of a flower,
As a breath or a sigh,
So the years that we live
As a dream hasten by.
True, today we are here,
But tomorrow must leave--
Just a grave in the vale
And a memory of me.

Chorus: As the life of a flower,
As a breath or a sigh,
So the years glide away
And, alas, we must die.

The above song is an old hymn that was one of my Grandpa Wright's favorites. You never hear it anymore because it's one of those early 1900 american hymns that contained lyrics and ideas of a different generation. In other words, people our age stopped singing hymns about dying. Mom sang this song to me this week. Why? Because her roses had started to wilt.

For mother's day, we gave Mom a bouquet of beautiful red roses. Mom deserves a bouquet of flowers on most special days so I add those to my grocery list. In Texas, if you go to the grocery store on any average friday afternoon, you will see several men dressed in their wrangler jeans, big belt buckles and cowboy hats buying a bouquet of roses for their sweetheart. I doubt if they are buying them for any special occasion at all. It's just the weekend and they want to let her know that she is special. I expect to be given flowers for this reason too. I also believe that I deserve manicures, pedicures and massages. I expect to be taken out to eat whenever I want. Women of Mom's generation didn't expect things like this. On valentines day, Mom was given one simple rose with baby's breathe. She didn't expect to get it and it didn't happen every year. Some years, she didn't get anything! She didn't throw a fit and think she wasn't loved. They just said "Happy Valentines day" to each other and that was that. Let's face it ladies, our generation expects flowers, jewelry, chocolate and a date all at once! When I mention to Mom that I'm going out to dinner, or to a spa, my Mom just sighs and shakes her head, stating sadly to her elderly friends "she's just so high maintenance you know". They all shake their heads sadly in agreement. Where did they learn that modern term? I guess from watching TV like everyone else.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Quarantine is voluntary or compulsory isolation, typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous. A few weeks ago I started noticing that every day there seemed to be less and less residents in the main dining room of Mom's nursing facility. At first, I assumed they went on an outing but when the dining area became obviously sparce, I asked someone,"where is everyone?" "They are quarantined in wing C" they said. The big door for wing C was closed for days and days. An upper respiratory virus had spread to several and upper respiratory often turns into pneumonia and we all know what often could happen after that. Thank Goodness Mom lives in wing A and didn't catch it....yet. It was a 12 day quarantine and yes they lost quite a few beloved mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends to the virus. In the mean time, we had a few die on Mom's side of a variety of other ailments. It's interesting to notice the calm way that residents in nursing homes take the death of their counter parts. Most the time, its just a shake of their head and a sigh. Me? I get more upset! I feel so sad for the daughters, sons, grandkids and all who love them. A wonderful lady across the hall that was over 100 passed away of congestive heart failure this week. You could tell she was a great person because she was so loved by her family and friends. I feel so sad when I look into her daughter's eyes and see the sadness and dread. That same face I've seen on several loving daughters in the past year, the expression that's there when you know it's only a matter of time and you wont be able to visit your mom anymore. She's going somewhere else where she can't be hugged or kissed or helped anymore. She's going somewhere where she can't be visited and told about a problem or a stressful day and count on being comforted. When I see those daughter's faces, I want to stay with Mom all day! I cry not for them but for me because I know that time will come and I won't have my mama to learn from, lean on, help or listen anymore. Recently I was having lots of trouble at work and I hugged Mom and told her, "Well at least I know you love me!" She smiled and looked me in the eye and said, "why yes I do and God loves you too! That's the most important thing that God loves you!" Thank you God for giving me some more time with her. Please make it as long as possible and help me to appreciate this time and how truly precious it is. Psalm 9:9
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Brown, Green & White

Matthew 5:13-16
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

I don't know about you, but to me delicious food is one of the greatest blessings in life. Diet experts often try to talk people into looking at it as just nutrition. "There's more to life than food" they say "change the way you think about food and only eat when you are hungry". I wonder what would happen if we all simply gave elderly people a choice.?
What if we all just said "choose between this healthy unseasoned low fat menu and you will live longer and feel better or you can just eat all your favorites just like you like them and be happy and enjoy your food now." If you were 80-100 years old and in a nursing facility, what would you choose?
One of Mom's table mates acts as if she is at a restaurant for every meal. She's a tough old bird, lived in Pittsburg, worked in a factory for years. Every time food is served to her, she immediately shakes her head no and groans a loud groan of discontent. Then she picks up her fork and pokes at her food as if it is a live frog ready for dissecting. "What the hell is this?" she questions. "Is that what they call chicken? There's hardly any meat on it. It's been cooked too long. It's all hard, I can't even stick my fork in it!" She moves on to her salad which always has healthy dark Romain lettuce mixed in, picking up the dark purple crinkled leaf and scrunching her nose at it, she adds" Who eats black lettuce? I've never seen such a thing. Lettuce is supposed to be green!" She then declares, "This isn't what I paid for!"
My mother has trouble swallowing as a result of her stroke. There have been times when she has had her menu changed to the dreaded pureed food. Most people who live or work in nursing homes know that they never want to have to eat the pureed menu. It's basically just a little glob of pureed meat, next to a glob of pureed green vegetable and third glob of pureed potatoes. Mom calls it "Brown green and white."
Lucky for her, she is now eating the "mechanical" diet, meaning ground up meats with gravy on them. As far as the brown, green and white goes, Mom shakes her head and moans,"No one could ever get any enjoyment out of that!"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mom's on a NO streak.

"My neck hurts, my shoulder hurts" she says. "Would you like me to rub it?" I ask?
"NO, massage doesn't work with a stroke"she answers. "I have that neck thing that I can put in the microwave and we can put it on there to give you some relief, would you like that?"I ask. "NO, it's too hot and it's too much trouble." I say "Did they give you any medication for the pain?" She says "They gave me tylenol every 4 hours but it doesn't work" "Do you want me to get the nurse to give you the prescription pain killer?" "NO, it makes me feel bad and sad and anxious." She says,"I'm not sitting right in my chair, I'm not back enough and I feel like I'm going to fall out." I ask "Do you want me to get the nurse aids to come and situate you better in your chair?" She answers "NO, they can't do that right now, they are feeding the other people, I will just wait." I say, "Well mom you feel so uncomfortable and in pain, I guess I will talk to the Dr. about it tomorrow." "NO, she can't help me, she doesn't know what to do." I continue asking, "Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?" "NO, but that picture over there is out of place, it's supposed to be in the middle and it's too far to the side. Can you put it in the middle?" "Yes, I will do that for you. Now , tonight you will get a good night's sleep and tomorrow you will feel all better, that's what I think!"I say. "NO, this morning I woke up and I thought I had that fibor mialgia, that's what I woke up thinking!" "OK mom , here's the next question I have for you. Will I ever stop trying to make you feel better?" "NO" she answers.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rise up & start over! It's a new day!

The Apostle Paul declared triumphantly in 1 Cor. 15: "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep"

Most people think that Easter is a biblical holiday but it's not. The only time the word "Easter" is used in the Bible is in the King James Version and it was mistranslated. In all the other versions the word and celebration is called "passover". Easter is actually a Pagan holiday about fertility which is the reason for the Easter bunny and the eggs.

Oh yeah, this blog is about "caring for Mom". Well, it is Easter so I just added that little tidbit of info and yes this posting is related to rising up and starting over.

How many times do people have to rise up and start over in their life? How many times have you started over? A new school, a divorce, a new job, financial problems, the death of a spouse are just a few of the times we may have to rise up and start again. How many times has someone who is 100 years old had to start again? I suggest you ask them. Ask lots of them. You can learn all kinds of valuable knowledge about starting over after hard times from an elderly person. It's easy to think that people in nursing home are just "waiting to die". You ask yourself "what is the purpose of their life?" I know that when my mom wakes up everyday, she wonder this too. Then a nurse aid walks in and mom notices she's been crying. The next thing you know, that nurse aid is in Mom's arms telling her how much she appreciates her love and wisdom. As for me, I am an overwhelmed, anxious worry wort! My mom knows that and as soon as she notices this anxiety is getting to extreme levels in my life, she says "Now honey, listen to me, you can't do anything about that so quit worrying about it. Worry is like a rocking chair—it gives you something to do but it doesn't get you anywhere."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pain & Suffering

Romans 8:20-22 (King James Version)

20For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

I've had something called Occipital Neuralgia for the last few weeks. If you have read other posts in this blog you know that I should never EVER enter the medical field. I don't like pee, pooh, blood, throw up or even slobber. Here's something I can't deal with even more: pain and suffering. I hate it and have no patience for it.

The symptom of my condition is chronic headache. The pain is commonly localized in the back of head and around or over the top of the head. When I first started feeling it, I went to my chiropractor. Then I went to my regular physician. Then I went to the emergency room and got an MRI. Then I went to a spine specialist and got xrays. I went all of these places in a few weeks just trying to get rid of this pain and suffering. The spine specialist finally diagnosed it. He said to me " I know it's been three weeks and that seems like a really long time when you can't get rid of it but looking at the big picture, the honest truth is that this pain will most likely go away soon!" I said " I guess I just don't have much patience with burning stabbing constant pain in the back of my head." He said "I wish I could just clap my hands and you would instantly feel better." I laughed and answered "well that's what I expect, doc!"

If you really want to know about pain and suffering and how much people deal with, go anywhere around older people. It makes me feel so spoiled that my pain makes me so impatient when I think of my mom. She had a stroke three years ago and there's so much pain and suffering involved in that and nobody claps their hands to make it go away. Like lots of other people with pain and suffering,it's not going to go away until they die. It makes it impossible for them to do anything on their own. They have suffering that makes them so depressed they want to die. My mom just keeps on keepin on! She just enjoys the few things she can enjoy. She just continues to smile and care about others. Every night she prays for others and there's a really long list! It must take her at least an hour! Mom says " I pray for them every night!" I say "there sure are lots of people on that prayer list!" She prays for people in our family who are suffering, she prays for her friends who are ill or grieving, she prays for my marriage, my children, my job and of course she prayed that I would get rid of occipital neuralgia. There she lays with her one hand curled up and useless from her stroke. There she lays in her bed where she can't even turn over by herself. There she lays in pain every night, praying for everyone else. Lots of people suffer with pain. Jesus suffered a lot. He suffered emotionally and physically. I could use some improvement on dealing with it. Nobody gets through life on earth without it. How we react to it, defines our character.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Little old ladies aren't all sweet.

People don't change that much just because they are old. They still have their faults. They still have their weaknesses. There's this one old lady Mom and I know that just isn't sweet. She has been married a number of times in her life. I don't know why it bothers us that she acts like she does. You know that girl in high school that goes around breaking boy's hearts just for the fun of it or at least it seems that way. She's that girl you knew who could charm the male teachers and all the other boys too but all the girls hated her. Why? I guess because we could see right through her! Or maybe we were just jealous of her and didn't want to admit it.
It's interesting to me that this particular girl is 80 years old and still going around breaking men's hearts, playing with people's emotions and annoying other women. She's 80 years old and she's still a man eater. This girl is still playing the same old high school games and it's still just as entertaining as it used to be. She's got men, pining all over the nursing home, she flirts, she conquers, she moves on to another sucker and there's one born everyday. Thank goodness she's got one of those motor scooter wheelchairs! She just leaves a trail of suiters where ever she goes. There are little old ladies who lie, cheat, steal, hate and hurt people just like young ladies do. It's not acceptable in our society to admit this because frankly we like to think all little old ladies are sweet. I'm not giving them a break. Little old ladies arn't all sweet.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What goes around!!!

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
My mother has never been prejudice of anyone of a different race. In my family, we think being prejudice is not only ignorant but it's a sin. Of course, there are lots of folks who have held hatred for people of other races all of their life. Isn't it interesting that the very same people that they have been complaining about, calling names and putting down all their life are always the exact same people that they have to depend to care for them when they are old? They are the same red necks, wet backs, niggers,spics,yankees,slant eyed,gooks, jewish, coon asses, polacks, catholics, protestants and so on! When you are old and can't do anything for yourself, these people have to wipe your butt and feel compassionate toward you and treat you indiscriminatly. No one knows if these older residents feel sorry about their prior attitudes. So there is one thing to think about before you act intolerant, impatient or hateful toward someone. Someday when you are old, you may be dependent on their kindness.
"What goes around, comes around!"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I've got a Mansion just over the Hillside.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. Mom says "You know why they call this a rest home?" she continuous "That's all people do here is rest!' Don't think that the Wesleyan doesn't have a full time activities staff, a full time physical therapy staff, a full time speech therapy staff and lots of volunteers that push, pull, coach, tempt, tug and literally beg the residents to do something else. Like most the residents, mom just likes to sit in her recliner and watch TV. Mom uses hand gestures when talking about PT, she holds up her hands and rolls little circles. "I saw you today!" Mom tells her friends, rolling the little cirles to indicate they were in the PT room together. Her friends reply by imitating riding a little tricycle with their feet. I try to remind them "Now come on, it's not so bad, if you don't use it, you lose it." This common declaration just gets the rolling of the eyes response. Why don't they like it? It could be that they never liked exercise, it could be that they tried it for awhile but didn't get any results quick enough. The reasons are as numerous as why younger folks do not work out. I've noticed Mom doesn't like games that children normally play. Mom refuses to get involved in anything like batting big rubber balls, painting by number or balloons. She liked Bingo when they gave away quarters. She had nothing to spend the quarters on but she liked to keep her winnings in her little black purse. "I don't want to play Bingo anymore because now they give away those stupid little stuffed animals." She tells her friend Lola, "and where am I going to put them anyway?" Everyone is not like Mom, many other residents like the games and many others like their stuffed animal winnings. They cuddle them and hang them on their wheel chairs as if they are trophies. "To each his own!" mom says, shaking her head "no" in stubborn protest as if to protect what dignity she has left as a sane adult. Some of the residents carry around life like looking dolls, treating them like real babies. People say that as you grow older, you become just like a child again. People have to change your diaper, bathe you, temper tantrums occur as well as crying and throwing up. It's cute when babies do it but not so pleasant for old people. The problem is they obviously don't feel like children. You can't run, jump and play with all that energy and curiosity. There is that mansion to think about,the one that everyone sings about. " It's just over the hillside, in that bright land where we'll never grow old." I often envision my mother and father smiling, singing, skipping and running up a hill covered in blue bonnets with a pail of cool clean water that they just collected from a beautiful rolling brook, just like Jack and Jill. Dad leans over and kisses her softly and says "I knew you would get here sooner or later!"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm afraid I may be next

Nursing home's rooms are sorta like college dorm rooms. The space for each of them is enough to fit a twin size hospital type bed and a small dresser. They seperate the areas with a rolling privacy curtain and that's it. There's a bathroom in each room. Mom is lucky to have a good room mate. She is a tiny lady with a sweet, happy spirit named Connie. They would be great friends if they could have conversations. Having a room mate you can talk to sounds like a great thing but in reality, it's not. Connie has lost her hearing, she is one of those people that has lost so much of her hearing that hearing aids do not work. She reads and watches her TV on mute. Mom had a nice room mate that could hear before named Ruth and they did have conversations but in such a small room, their TV volume started to compete with each other. Mom would turn hers up, she would turn hers up, one of them would complain and feelings got hurt. The social worker tried to work things out. She called me and Ruth's son in and we discussed a "perfect" solution to the problem. We would each get our Mom a pair of battery head sets, then everything would be fine. I went out immediately and bought the wireless headset with big easy volume buttons on the side. "Problem solved!" I told Mom. Ruth's son and I tirelessly showed our mom's how to operate the headsets. "There's only one dial for up and down, adjust it and then put it on your head." My mom has had a stroke so she had to do this with her one good side hand. Trying putting on a head set with one good side hand and adjusting dials on the side was a clumsy activity for her. One side of the earphone, slipping down over her eyes, her arthritic bony fingers trying to find the volume knobs. "You can do it Mom, you will get used to it!" We kept trying though for a couple of weeks. "So have you gotten used to the headsets yet Mom?" she would look at me in dismay, "No, not yet." Like lots of other things involving caring for Mom, it seems like a great idea but it's not. Ruth never figured it out either. The real solution was to move Mom and Ruth to other rooms, which they did and there will be another posting about that crazy stressful move later. At present, Mom's "hard of hearing" room mate Connie is a lot like Mom and other elderly ladies with her strict routine. Everyday at the same time, she does the same things. For instance, she goes to dinner at 5, wheels to the nurses station to be given her medicine, wheels herself into the room, opening up her little drawers with her little gloved hands, she picks out her gown for the evening and her clothes for tomorrow. Sitting them out folded in a specific order in the same chair. Yes, she wears little gloves all the time. They look little cloth garden gloves and she has them in a variety of colors to match her clothes. Why? I don't know why? She seems perfectly sane. There's another lady we call "Hollywood" Everyone calls her that because she wears a scarf tied under her chin and a big pair of sunglasses. She looks like a 50's movie star going out for a drive in her convertable but she is inside. She sports the scarf and sunglasses everyday even though she never goes outside. Why? I don't know why? She seems perfectly sane otherwise.
Yesterday, I was walking down the hall and Connie motioned me over for our everyday one way conversation in which she talks and I smile and nod my head. "Everyone's going crazy around here! Just all of a sudden, they start wandering the halls, not knowing where there rooms are and not knowing who they are! It makes me afraid I may be next!" Smiling, I looked right into her tiny frightened eyes and firmly said "No you wont be next, that's not going to happen to you!"Acts 20:33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have served for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in everything, by laboring like this, that we [5] need to support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. "
Sometimes the only support you can offer an elderly person is to reassure them that everything's going to be all right!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some people have it, others don't.

James 1:27 "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. " What about the "widowers"?

It's interesting to me how men react to getting older and being dependent on other people. They react quite differently than women. My beloved father passed away about a year and a half ago. We were relieved for him. He wasn't good at being dependant. I have learned from visiting nursing homes that most men just don't last long in a dependent situation. I'm sure there are many facts that would prove that but all you have to do is visit one to know that the men in nursing care are outnumbered. Women can stay alive and deal with the emotional feelings that come with elderly nursing care. At the Wesleyan Nursing home, the health care is excellent but the men don't last long. At first, they just seem frustrated. They will put up with it, all of them thinking that they will be home in a few weeks. If they don't go home in a few weeks and reality sets in that this is the place where they will live until they die, they give up. Men react to being dependent by either becoming passive and losing interest in living or they become defiant and rebel against their caretakers. Mom has developed a friendly relationship with a former dentist and male resident at the Wesleyan. She likes him because he has a beautiful set of teeth and smiles when he sees her. He was admitted a few months ago and we have seen him going from frustrated but hopeful to hopeless and defiant. "I am married and my wife says I can flirt but only with women your age" he teases. At first, he was going to his physical therapy, joking and teasing all the ladies but things have changed. He developed a hopeless attitude and stopped eating. It was very upsetting to mom when she saw him become mean one day and bite a nurse aid. He was shaking all over and wouldn't let them put the oxygen tubes in his nose. "Ouch that hurts!" the nurse aid screamed loud. Mom got teary and said, "He’s just not acting like himself today." He hasn't been acting like himself a lot lately. It has nothing to do with the health care, they have excellent care. It has to do with "attitude." When my Grandpa got put in a nursing home he would close his eyes, try not to breath and act dead for hours at a time. He hoped that he could just "will "himself dead that way. Lots of men just "will" themselves dead and it works. We finally put my father in a nursing home right next to mom. On the first day, a nurse came in and bossed him around. He said calmly to the nurse, "are you trying to boss me?" When she left, he looked over at my mom, his loving wife and best friend for 65 years and said "this situation is not going to work for me." It didn't, he lasted one day and a half and died.
Another interesting reaction I've noticed about older men is that they become romantic and more sensitive toward the end. One night, mom was awakened by an old man standing over her who had wandered into her room. He was just gazing at her quietly. "It's been so long. I have missed you so much. I love you. You are so beautiful!" he said passionately. Mom told me about it the next day, "at first I was a little startled but he looked so sincere and he was saying such nice things." She seemed disappointed that a nurse aid found him and redirected him to his room. "I just smiled and let him talk. I know he thought I was his wife." she said. What girl can resist good sweet talk! Mom didn't get a lot of sweet talk from my dad. He was a great husband and no one ever doubted that he loved her dearly but he wasn't romantic. A few months before my dad died, he went to visit mom in the nursing home and he told her that he wanted to take her to a motel and just hold her in bed. "I can't do that now." she said. It was too late for romance as far as she was concerned. I can see why she would feel that way, sitting there in her wheel chair halfway paralysed with a diaper on. If you need to tell your wife how beautiful she is, how much you love her and hold her tight. Just do it now! Don't wait until it's too late!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I don't do pooh

I have to start someplace so "I don't do pooh" seems a place to start. This blog is supposed to be about caring for my mom but really it's about what I've learned in the last few years about elderly people and the way things are toward the end of their life, for them and for those who love and care for them. " I don't do pooh!" I yelled these words while standing there holding my dad's coveralls out as far away from me as possible in the middle of his yard with a water hose, hosing them down after a "pooh" incident. My dad died last year of Luekemia. He was a wonderful father and a minister. The best father any girl could ever be blessed with. He was almost to the end of his life at the time of the pooh incident, ravaged by the cancer treatments at his age, standing there nude and as skinny as a man can get. It surprised me that he could even stand being so exposed because he had always been so very modest in his healthier days. He was not the kind of guy that walked around at home in undies or without a shirt on. I like to run around my house nude now days because while growing up, he was always telling me to "go and put some clothes on." As most preacher's daughter's, I dismiss all personality disorders or rebellous behavior on the fact that I was raised in a fish bowl. At the time of the pooh incident, I didn't live near my parents. I was just visiting and taking care of Dad for a few days We decided to go see my mother. She had been in a nursing home in the small town of Rayville Louisiana for 2 years. She suffered a stroke and needed 24 hour nursing care. Dad couldn't care for her in his condition but went to see her everyday. This particular day, dad wanted to stop and eat chicken at Popeyes on the way.This is the last time Dad ever took me out to eat. He took me out to eat every year on a date for my birthday until I got married. This was not my birthday but I knew what he was thinking. Let's face it, we both knew there just were not going to be any more birthday dates. I wish I could say this ended better but as it happened, he didn't quite make it to the bathroom in time. So that's the story, my father skinny as a rail being undressed by his squeemish daughter "Dad if you are going to be doing this, you are going to have to wear a diaper! I don't do pooh!"