Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Twilight of an Incredible Life

Sweet Pea's Graduation
My intent was to make a large part of this blog a diary of my parents' older years with dementia.  But I've felt awkward talking about the heartbreak, and the stress, and the twisted humor during this time.  I really want to share this, but I'm afraid of offending. I'm still trying to make up my mind on what to do, but the last 2 weeks have been overwhelming, so I feel compelled to write about it.

This week marks a milestone in this process with my parents.  Because, after a year of living in an independent retirement community, mom started middle-of-the-night-wandering to the point of actually MAKING IT OUTSIDE the facility, and my dad can't remember to set the door alarm, so it is obviously time to move mom into the Alzheimer unit, called The Courtyard.

After 61 years of being together, you can imagine the intense grief my dad feels.  Although she is out-of-touch, he is lost without her.  He is lonely.  And despondent.  (In my darkest moments, I pray the baldman will feel this way about me one day.)

Best Friends

To him, it is a love affair, a partnership, and now a marriage altered.  And this was a partnership he counted on, even when it was flawed.  What does he do without her?

I am filled with sorrow as I watch his heart breaking.

I am the 'bad cop,' the person who tells him to 'buck up, it's going to be okay, this is just the way it is.' But I feel like an imposter.  Because nothing I can say can make up for the broken dream of a twilight time enjoying their memories together.

On a positive note, she is in a much better place now.  Instead of her sleeping all day and being depressed, she is involved in activities.  I love seeing her (and her adorable page-boy haircut) happily involved in singing "If You're Happy and You Know It," making a craft project, or eating with her catatonic 'friend.'  (Yesterday she gave the baldman the peace sign as he walked by.)

I've come to terms that my beloved mother is now in a child state.  But so often I remember our closeness as she raised me, and the fact that I could share anything with her.  She was an incredible mother--she could empathize with me and still provide constructive criticism. I still remember her mantra:  "make decisions with your mind, not your emotions."  She was witty and hard-working and understanding.  She told great stories and created incredible scavenger hunts with silver dollars as the prize.  She was a nurturer and a good woman.

Mom with little Sweet Pea

Mom had a genius-level IQ, and made historical strides in the field of nursing. She was understanding and kind, but yet a fearsome feminist--who did her very best in launching the first Church of Christ university Nursing Program at Harding University--in the midst of the still-very-chauvinistic-and-discriminative-South.  She loved Harding and gave her all to create a nursing program at the very excellent best of the field; so that her graduates would be at the top of their profession.  And she achieved this goal.  Her efforts launched one of the best nursing schools in the country--which continues today.

With Dr. Carr at Harding

With all of this noted, I watch her. . . clutching a blanket and looking hopefully confused. . . and I cry hopeless tears.

Why?  What caused this?  Why can't we fix it?  I miss her!!  I miss my mom.

Lord, please help me.  And please, please comfort my father.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine's Gifts for Her

I was born on Valentine's Day 46 years ago (IT'S NOT 47 YEARS UNTIL NEXT WEEK, ANNIE!!), therefore I firmly believe that, by birth I am expert in all things Valentine.

This is a very difficult holiday for men. They have no idea what to give us to make us happy.  They have no idea what is "romantic."  And every woman's idea of the perfect Valentine is different. The poor things cannot win for losing. When I think about them with this issue I truly feel sorry for them.

But on the other hand, it is important that they squirm a little in their crusade to express their love.  When else do they really have to try?  Not very often.  Maybe our birthday and anniversary.  A little.  But at those times they either have a huge clue or we're getting a joint gift (that usually leans their way).  Valentines Day is a day for chivalry, romanticism, going-the-extra-mile, TRYING for goodness' sake.

We would love for them to dig deep inside themselves, think HARD about who we are, and produce a shining token of their love.  Isn't our dream that they overcome their Neanderthal nature and become a Renaissance man for just a moment?  Yes.  Oh yes it is our dream.

But our poor Neanderthals either can't summon up that level of thinking/emotion, or . . . . they just don't.  And so they often rely on retailers.  Hence the reputation that Valentines Day is a crass, retail-driven opportunity.  Which is a cop-out by men nationwide.  And any self-respecting feminist is only acting the fool when she buys into this argument.  Men should be obligated to show chivalry at least once a year.

But, since so many men are relying on advertising to lead their way rather than digging deep, we will be sorely disappointed.

So to the point of this post . . . lady-friends-of-mine, have you ever noticed that every advertisement about the perfect Valentines gifts are nothing you would ever want?  For example:

A very high end department store (not Neiman's, thank goodness) suggested that I would love a leopard print bangle bracelet.

A radio host said that chocolate-dipped strawberries and a teddy bear would be right up my alley.

I don't want pajamas.  I have plenty.

I don't want cheap chocolates that I have to bite to see if I even want to eat them.

A crazily-designed heart shaped necklace made out of who-knows-what only means that I can wear it with who-knows-what

So sorry, but I don't want a pink robe or lingerie that I don't know how to put on.

I want you.  I want your heart.  I want your love. . . the expression of your love.  It's hard, very hard.  I know that, but that is exactly what makes it so important.

A two-line poem, like:

I hitched up my undershorts, and
thought, wow I love Mary.

This, handwritten and tucked inside a Valentines card would blow my mind!!

A verbal statement with naked longing and you- looking into my eyes, like:

I am going to sit here next to you on the couch
for 30 minutes, because I just want to be close to you.

Would kill me.

A very-easy-personal-gift, like a photo from your phone
that you decided to print out at the last minute, would rock my world:

Men (all 2 of you who read this) -- it really, really doesn't take much to make us swoon. Because we're sympathetic women, most of us understand how hard it is on Valentines Day.  If you can do it, just pull up your innermost feelings and tell us how you FEEL, even for a moment.  This is the best gift ever. 

Thank you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh - And My Alltime Favorite. . .

. . . Get out of my way, moron! Who says you can't drive 70 on ice?!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice Storm

Love the winter emergencies of the South:
  • Days under 50 degrees are COLD.
  • Winter begins in November, even though you still sweat outside at 4:00 in the morning.
  • Don't you dare criticize me if I'm wearing coat, gloves, hat, scarf. . . even if you're wearing shorts and a tube top.
  • Christmas typically means air conditioning.
  • Overcast skies in December are ominous -- even if it's 70 outside.
  • Driving is hazardous if it's under 60 and raining. There's no way I can make it to work today.
  • Of course you can see Christmas lights through leaves!
  • Black ice?  What ice?
  • Who needs a sled -- use a trash can lid.
  • Oh my gosh something's wrong with me!!  I'm breathing smoke!
  • I love that brown snowman.
  • It's still a school snow day, even if it's 80 by noon. We are totally incapacitated.
Ice Storm -- February 1, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bald Men and Afros

Both hold such utter fascination for me.  I think bald men are some of the most gorgeous men on the planet.  When a bald man walks into a room, my eyes are immediately drawn to him, kind of like any man who sees a woman with boobs larger than a C-cup.

I love a shiny, nicely-rounded head with a big nose.  Life doesn't get any better!  My friends have hypothesized that I "have a 'thing' for baldies."  But I disagree.  To me, a bald man with a big nose signifies great intelligence. . . sensitivity. . . . cleverness. . . . .and LOVE.  Oh my.

Let me share with you some choice selections:

As a bald man lover, need I say more? Most (??) baldies exude an intelligent sexuality. . .and you can appreciate their incredible face, without being distracted by that crazy hair that may be full of dandruff.

But I must admit, to me the most incredibly attractive bald men are also Jewish.  To me, the bald head, big nose, and jewishness signifies the peak of male attractiveness.  I LOVE them!!  And of course I love most men in New York City and Chicago -- heaven help me!!

Yet I've noticed a certain distraction on my part. .. . . .I have no reasoning for it, other than sheer attraction.  It may go back to my 70s high school days, when a senior had an awesome hairdo.  I can't explain it, but I LOVE


I know some of you can't deny it -- the afro is sexy!  Look at these men!  They are total love-muffins!!  And when you watch one of these awesome men running, with the air flowing through their afro -- there is nothing sexier!  You can disagree with me on the basic look of the afro, but every woman will fall to the afro-blowing-through-the-wind!!

In conclusion.  Please help me.  I desperately love the bald, big-nosed men. . . . .but adore a huge afro, blowing through the wind, -- attached to either a pro athlete, or a poor dweeb who doesn't kn ow any better.

Goodness.  I love them all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Does My Iced Tea Smell Like Bad Feet? . . .and more

It is incredibly difficult living in a family where you are the only one who can smell properly.  I did not know this about Joel, or I may have considered a unique legal requirement before our wedding.  This is a huge responsibility.

Think about it -- I am the only one who can smell dog pee or dog poo (remember, we have 4 dogs); I am the only one who can smell something burning; I am uniquely responsible for knowing if we are about to perish in a natural gas bomb; and I have the stress of smelling my ultimate worst odor . . . mildew.

Eeeuw.  I hate it.  And Joel loves his slowly-rotting bath towels and running shorts.  He loves to take his work clothes out of the dryer too early and leave the dishtowels in the kitchen soaking wet.  He loves it when the rain pours on the patio furniture cushions.  Do you know why??!  BECAUSE THEY ALL MILDEW!!

My life is full of running around determining pet smells, and gas smells, and re-washing mildewed clothes.  I am constantly lighting candles and vacuuming.

Oh Lord, why, why, why am I left to be the only one fighting the battle of stench?

Heaven will be a place full of the smell of fresh laundry, newly-cut grass, limes, and bleach.  :)

How on earth did I end up in an 80-year-old house, a stink-prone-husband, 4 dogs, and mildew??

Mildewing laundry

Washing machine where mildewing laundry is (hopefully) de-stinked