Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I realize my dad did not die in service to our country. But he did serve, and he was forever a patriot. So on Memorial Day (did you know it was originally Decoration Day?), Meg, Nate, Ev, and I visited Dad's place and left him some red, white, and blue.

We miss you, Pops.

Life is a Highway

And I think my brother must average about 100 mph as he drives along it. Mom called early this afternoon from South Dakota. South Dakota. She sounded giddy. I wonder if that was before or after Loren snapped this picture at the Corn Palace.

Mom said they had a lovely visit with my brother Bill and his family. She said I would be jealous of my sister-in-law's garden. No doubt! I assured Mom we were watering her yard and Perry was working, and that was all she needed to hear. It was nice of her to call. She even said it was nice to hear my voice. How about that?

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Fine Art of Passive-Aggression

If denial is our family language, passive-aggression is our art form. In case you're not familiar (lucky you), the dictionary states: a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

I've worked hard not to pass this on to the next generation, and I think for the most part my children say what they think. I like the fact that they push back when they think they are right, instead of bowing under and stewing. Some of the PA skills must have seeped through though (how many generations are the sins of the fathers visited on?), and Karis put them to good use Sunday.

No matter how much Karis objected (and she can be quite persuasive!), Uncle Loren would not agree to wake her up when he and Grandma left in the morning. Karis wanted to say goodbye and see them off; Loren and Grandma refused. Karis pointed out that she would need to get up to move the Crown Vic; Loren said he would do it.

So, in fine ancestral form, Karis took the Crown Vic keys with her when she went to bed Saturday night. And locked her bedroom door.
Forcing her Uncle Loren to call her cell phone, wake her up, ask for the keys, and ultimately give Karis what she wanted...
to say goodbye to her beloved Grandma.

On the Road Again

Loren and Mom had a good day yesterday. They stopped at David's Catfish in Idabel, Oklahoma for lunch. They saw the Heavener runestone.

Doesn't Mom look happy?

And they arrived in Fayetteville, AR around 5:00. After a nice visit with my sister Ruth and family, Loren and Mom decided to head out for Kansas City this morning. It looks like Mom might just get her world tour of children after all.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Big Adventure

Today Bill and Ted leave on their really big adventure. Karis sat on the bed last night while Grandma packed. She called me at one point to tell me she was fixing baggies of honey nut cheerios and goldfish for her Uncle Loren and Grandma for travel snacks. So, Butch and the Sundance Kid are taking the long way (that Dad would never take even though Mom always wanted to) to Arkansas to visit Ruth and see Elizabeth graduate Tuesday night. Then Wednesday morning, Thelma and Louise will hit the road for Idaho in order to catch Zane's graduation Saturday.

After that, the plans are a little murky. Mom wants to stay in Idaho for a week, then fly back home. Loren wants to keep her, well, forever I think. At least as long as she will stay.

Hospice called Friday to set up a meeting for Tuesday to talk about Mom's travel. I laughed and told the nice hospice worker that Mom would be long gone on Tuesday. She called Mom for the travel itinerary, hoping to find sister hospices along the way.

So, bon voyage, Bonnie and Clyde! May all your travel dreams come true. Vaya con dios.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grad Party

Tonight we had a graduation party for Karis. She graduated last Saturday, but wanted her party on a separate day. She limited her guest list to close friends/old friends/family, and invited entire families. We had dinner and set up bocce ball and croquet in the yard. It was a nice mix of people and a lot of fun.

I wasn't sure if Mom would come. She had already told Karis two reasons why she wouldn't. But Loren drove her out and she seemed to have a great time! We had set up a table downstairs so Mom wouldn't have to hike up, but hike up she did. She enjoyed a plate of appetizers, then filled her dinner plate. And then she said to Loren, "I'm ready for some more!" and filled her plate again. They arrived late and left early, but I'm so glad they came.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

He Said Yes

The hospice doctor reportedly told Mom she could take the road trip.

Lord help us all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Test Drive

Today, Loren took Mom out for a test drive. His plan is to take her on a few daytrips in order to see how she does and what the travel does to her. For today's selection, Loren and Mom drove to a college town about 30 miles north. There is a museum for a famous Texan and various other places of interest, but Loren was looking for the barbecue of his youth. Sadly, the barbecue of his youth burned down in his extended absence and was never rebuilt. So they came back to town and ate at Karis' place of employment. Not the nostalgia, but excellent barbecue all the same.

While they were gone, I called Nurse Christy and tattled. I told of the travel plans/dreams and asked her opinion. She didn't think it was a good idea and will ask the doctor tomorrow. She did not anticipate the doctor liking the idea either. In the meantime, she took down the names of the stopover destinations to research sister hospice organizations along the route. She hopes Mom will be tired from the daytrips and decide on her own not to go. Christy thinks maybe Mom doesn't realize that she is losing energy and stamina. She also thinks that Mom's change to no diarrhea could be indicative of a blockage forming. It just doesn't sound good.

Loren said the trip was nice, but he didn't comment on Mom's stamina. Maybe see how she is tonight and tomorrow. Nurse Christy should be by later today for her weekly check-up with Mom. She will keep me posted.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Time Flies

Whether you are having fun or not, time flies. In the last week or so:

Nate got sick.
Dave went to the doctor again.
Nate got better.
Dave got better (thank God for antibiotics...two concurrent antibiotics to be exact)
Perry finished the dining room.
Ev finished sixth grade.
Karis graduated from high school.
Meg started driving in light traffic.
Loren arrived to visit Mom.
Dave completed the first third of his doctoral work for this session and fedexed it.
And my head did not explode. Not even a little.

Wednesday morning, Meg and I stopped by to visit Mom. We found her out on the back porch, eating oatmeal straight out of the pot. We sat and visited for a while. Mom brushed her pal Mittens. Mom told me I must go see Perry's work in the dining room. I went in to see (and it is beautiful) and then I couldn't find Mom. Meg and I were looking for her to say goodbye. We found her out in the front yard, spreading cottonseed meal to feed her grass. I love how she spends every minute she can doing what she wants to do. Sure she will be tired by lunchtime, but she is enjoying her days. Go Mom go!

Mom and Karis are still doing well together. Between work and graduation and social events, Karis is not hanging around too much for Mom. They have had lunch together on Sundays and all their interaction has been good. I think they are both pleased with the arrangement. And Mom is so delighted to have Loren for a visit. The boy loves his mama and Mama loves her boy.

The latest talk is of Mom hopping in the car with Loren and taking a Grand Tour. A cross country journey of epic proportion. Part of me says, "Go for it!", and part of me says, "That's crazy talk." I have questions like, "What if Mom gets really sick along the way? In another state?" And, "What do you do if your mother dies with you in a car out of state?" On the bright side, Mom's diarrhea is gone. On the other hand, does that mean the blockage is beginning? Again, I don't want to be the one raining on Mom's parade. We'll see what Nurse Christy has to say.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Storage Solution?

We made a quick trip to Mom's house Saturday. She was eager to have Nate mow and I was hoping to move things back into closets for Mom. I ended up just moving in a few things Mom uses regularly. Everything was so mildewy, I hated to put that back into a freshly painted closet. I will go back this next week and wipe things down. Side note: It was weird to go to visit Mom, and vist Karis at the same time.

Mom is still determined to jettison her possessions. She was disappointed that Ruth and Rich would not take more furniture when they were here, and she is angling to get Bill to take two dressers when he and Cathy come next week. Gayle crammed an antique vanity into her little Prius when she was here! No one wants to do any big hauling right now though, and Mom keeps suggesting moving things out to the garage. Her garage is even more mildewy than the house on account of the occasional creek flood passing through, so garage storage is not a good option for anything but outdoor equipment.

I think we will offer to store things at our house in order to appease Mom and keep her heirlooms in good shape. Dave and I talked about it last night, and short of renting a climate controlled storage unit, that seems the best option. I'm not thrilled about hauling stuff to my house and then hauling it back later, but it seems necessary to Mom's well-being. I suppose we could just put unclaimed stuff in Mom's garage and leave it at the mercy of heat, humidity, and mold spores, but that wouldn't be nice. And you know we southern girls are all about nice.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sean's On

I was going to spend some time at Mom's today, helping her move back into closets and clear out the guest room a bit. She is making noises about moving things to the garage and I really, really want to avoid that unless said things are destined for the garbage. Storage in this part of the country just has to be climate controlled.

I say was, because I came home after work instead. Dave is sick, sick with fever, aches, and other unmentionables. He had planned to use this week to complete projects for his doctorate, but I guess God had other plans for his time. He is so miserable that I felt like I needed to be here, plus I didn't want to take any chances of sharing this little virus with Mom.

So I don't have anything new to report. I'll have to leave you with this picture that Karis sent me with the caption, "Sean's on."

I asked if she was watching Hannity along with Grandma. Karis said she was reading. I love picturing the two of them relaxing in the living room together at the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Karis is moved in with my mom! We took two loads of things over yesterday and did an HEB trip for toiletries and food. Karis said Grandma seemed very excited to have her. (Saturday, when the decision was made and we left Mom's house, Mom immediately called Karis' phone and left this message: "Karis...You moving in with me sounds wonderful! Bye.") Mom brought Karis nightlights last night and seemed delighted to see her this morning before she left for school. I slept in my own bed at home, but woke in the night several times. I prayed for Karis and Mom. My hope is for this to be a special time for the two of them. In many ways, they are two peas in a pod. And it is good to have a man on the inside now.

Yesterday, as we were moving in the first load, the hospice Nurse Christy came by. Karis and her friend went on, but I stayed and sat in on the weekly check-up. It's a great way to learn things you wouldn't otherwise know. Mom's weight is about the same. Her blood pressure is low-ish okay, now that they've cut her high blood pressure meds in half. Mom is having some intermittent "discomfort" around her liver area and in her lower back, especially at night.

While Christy was there, she asked Mom about travel plans for Idaho. Christy wanted to make sure they could get Mom signed up with a sister hospice organization. After we explained what small towns were nearby and how Mom would have to make at least one connecting flight, land in Spokane, and then drive over two hours, Mom verbalized that she didn't think she could really make the trip. I've been praying Mom would realize she cannot make these trips anymore; I didn't want to be the one to say no. But it made me so sad to hear her say it. Definitely the loss of a dream for Mom and a huge admission of failing health. I am so sorry. I'm just so sorry.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

She Said No

For Mother's Day, my children and husband are taking me to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the visiting Impressionist exhibit. I'm so excited! I will get to see van Gogh's self-portrait up close and personal, as well as a host of other well-known impressionist paintings by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, and the like. I'm looking forward to a day of beauty.

We invited Mom to come with us. She said she would like to, but felt it would not work. No surprise there. Gayle and I went together to get her a lovely hanging basket of petunias and verbena. She loved it and will enjoy the happy pink blooms on her back patio, her favorite place to hang out. Maybe, if I'm feeling peevish, I will remind her of these declined invitations, and her excuses, the next time she mentions flying across the country. Hmmm.

Ah well, Happy Mother's Day.

She Said Yes!

Dave and I invited ourselves in to Mom's house today. She seemed very reluctant to have us, saying things like "I guess I could invite you in," and "I guess I could offer you some cheesecake," but not really doing either. Her whole demeanor changed though when Dave presented the idea of Karis moving in. She loved it! She accepted with no hesitation. She even confessed that the doctor had told her it was time to have someone with her. Mom asked if Karis could move in tonight! (She can't; she was at a pool party this afternoon and works tonight til 10.)

We discussed some details, like where Karis will sleep (master bedroom?) and what she will eat (stock fridge with own food plus eat with Gma some). We also assured Mom that Karis will be in and out with work, friends, etc., and will not need to be entertained. Mom asked if she would have parties. (No.) And Mom said I must tell her if she is doing something with Karis that I do not allow. She explained that she was remembering once when Karis spent time with her after a sibling was born. When I came to pick her up, Karis excitedly proclaimed, "Mommy, Grandma lets me do everything you don't!" Too funny. We assured her that Karis makes a lot of her own decisions now that she is 18, but still graciously checks with us about plans.

I really think it will be a great fit and fun for both.

Remains of the Week

The remainder of this week has been uneventful. I shopped for Mom as requested and she is pleased with her two new outfits. While she was not ready for another grocery trip, she did have me pick up some rib-eyes that were on special. (After Dad got dentures, he could not chew steak. Mom is really enjoying eating what she wants to eat.) I moved some money around so Mom could have easy access. She thanked me for taking care of business. Mom also asked me to pick up some supplies for her at Walmart and was very grateful. She said something to the effect that she doesn't miss driving to Walmart.

I've struggled with my feelings toward Mom this week. I need to find the balance between trying to have the relationship that never was and never will be, and live and let die. "Why don't you want to spend time with us?" vs. "Fine, go ahead and die alone." There has to be a middle ground.

Today, probably around noon, Dave and I are going over to talk with Mom about Karis moving in with her. Karis, Dave and I think this is the most palatable way to get someone in with Mom. We will try to sell it as a way for Karis to save money on gas, plus have a little independence now that she is graduating from high school. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

Mom read a positive review of One Thousand Gifts in World magazine, her favorite print source of news. Before she gave up her wheels, Mom purchased the book at our local Hastings. She loved it. And ordered two more copies to give away. And insisted I take her copy to read. Mom said the author reminded her "of Dave. And Martin Luther." Good company.

Now, it is true confession time for me. I am one of those perverse personalities. If you tell me I simply must do something, it makes me really, really not want to do it. If you tell me I simply must read something, it makes me really, really not want to read it. I'm not a joiner. I'm not a pleaser. I'm a little contrary. And everyone says this book is a life-changing must-read. Ruh roh.

Add into the mix here that instead of communicating with me verbally, all my life my mom has recommended books. If there was an issue, she had a book. Sex? Susie's Babies. Teen? Preparing for Adolescence. Getting married? Hidden Art. You get the picture. Goodness knows I love a good book, but substituting someone else's written words when your own spoken words are needed got so old that I even now hesitate to recommend books.

So you see, poor Ann Voskamp and her One Thousand Gifts came to me with two strikes against. I suppose I am defending her because, well, I just don't like her book. I tried. I started reading last night. And I liked it so little that I went to Amazon to see if I was nuts! Maybe so. The book has received 278 five star reviews. It's a big hit. 33 daring souls have written less-than five star reviews, and the few that I read had the same trouble as I. I am finding OTG really hard to read. Laborious, even. Maybe in small doses it will be more palatable, but even just going one chapter was too...too. Too verbose. Trying too hard to wax poetic. Too something.

I was somewhat relieved then today, when Mom told me she shouldn't have given me the book, and she wants me to pass it to my sister-in-law. Poor Katie. She won't know what hit her.

In all fairness, I should say that maybe in five years or so, maybe when all the hullabaloo surrounding this book dies down, maybe then I will like it. Sometimes I do that.

ETA: I know what it is. Too contrived. Mom has instructed me to go ahead and read the book myself, so my sister in law is spared for now.

As We Always Were

"Denial is when we think we can set aside old issues and build a new relationship with our parents. We tell ourselves that things will be different this time, that our parents have changed. What we're denying is our own feelings, perhaps anger or abandonment or betrayal. We're also denying the very real possibility that nothing has changed, that our parents will be just as they always were." Eleanor Cade

These words live in my sidebar.
I know they are true.
I know they are true.
I know they are true, but I still walk right into the ever-hopeful trap.

Monday afternoon, I called Mom to invite her to Meg's birthday dinner. I know she doesn't go for family gatherings, but I wanted to include her, the other grandparents were invited, it was Meg's 16th, blah blah blah. Her reply came immediately, "OH NO!" I felt it best to not prolong the conversation and got off the phone as quickly as I could.

Mom called later and left a long, pause-filled message. I listened to it over and over and took some notes, trying to understand. Here's the gist:

[in her frail phone voice]Hey, Gwen. Did I tell you [Nurse] Christy was here when you called? She was; she was in the neighborhood. So that frees us up tomorrow [to get papers signed]. And, and I'm... Gwen, please forgive me for being so ungracious about your invitation but you know, uh, I'm just, uh, I guess I'm slowing down. And you'll forgive me for not responding to Meg's dinner invitation, hon.

Hey, Gwen! [perks up] I do have a request. I'd like for you, when you're out shopping, when you have time, to pick out two tops and slacks for me. I'd look forward to a change in wardrobe. Oh dear, I seem to be hanging on. [Laughs] I'm apologizing for my good health.

[slows down again] But I'm still aged and limited. I think I'm going to use my age as an excuse to nege out [renege?] on Meg's invitation. I love her and you and..but you'll forgive. Thank you.

Gah. I think the thing that really twists the knife for me is that it is a choice. Mom goes to BSF and church and Friday night Fellowship Dinner. She is able to go. She chooses to do those things. She just did not want to be with me and my family. Here I was trying to figure out why Mom is being evasive, when maybe the simple fact is she just does not want to spend so much time with me and mine. Duh.

I know this is how it is. I need to stop expecting things to be different. I'm praying for grace and mercy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Evasive Maneuvers

I haven't been over to Mom's house since Thursday. Friday, some friends picked her up to go to Fellowship Dinner at church. Saturday, Karis and Meg stopped by in the evening.

Sunday, I saw Mom at church. I saw her in the hall after Sunday School, but she was focused on a bathroom stop and in no mood to talk. I tried to catch her after the service, but she was hotfooting it for the door. None of my kids were able to visit with her either.

This morning, when Mom called to check in, she asked when I was coming by again. I asked her when she would like for me to come and take her to the bank to sign some papers. I wanted to make sure we didn't go on the day her hospice nurse comes and I couldn't remember if that was Monday or Tuesday. The Nurse Christy comes on Tuesday, but Mom didn't want to go today. She said, "It's too hard to get up and going on Monday." She said she would call after Christy comes tomorrow so we could do our errand.

I asked Mom if she wanted me to come by today. She said in horror, "No!" I assured her I was only asking because she had asked when I was coming next. She replied, "I just want a little warning." Hmmm. She knew I was coming Thursday, so it's not like I've been sneaking up on her all the time.

All this evasive behavior makes me think Mom is hiding something. Gayle wonders if something has happened and Mom doesn't want us to know that she needs help. I dunno. My friend Perry is working at Mom's today and will keep an eye on her. I will see Mom tomorrow, as will Nurse Christy. Wednesday will bring a fresh perspective. More about that later.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dad and Mom, Then and Now

Ways Mom Reminds Me of Dad (in no certain order):

*Blood pressure up and down (was high and medicated, now medication greatly reduced and still sometimes scary low, other times normal).

*Still enjoying food, but eating. so. slowly.

*Tired, mostly from the activities of daily living.

*Using cane in house sometimes.


*Sleeping in big chair.

*Not sleeping well.

*Not wanting to be a burden; desperately does not want the help that is needed.


*Anxious about money.

*Puts forth the facade of Everything's Fine, and does a pretty good job with it.

I'm sure I'll add to the list, but that is what is rattling around in my head currently.