Wednesday, December 31, 2008

spilled milk

Oh, yeah....Mom was walking around the house in a dazed sort of way saying nothing, until I fumbled a full jug of milk up to the counter and spilled some of it--very nearly a catastrophic accident. Then she looked at me and laughed. Thanks, Mom!


Yes, Mom has spoken a few sentences! I had my doubts when I heard she had asked her brother Fred if he wanted to stay the night when he visited this week, but it was confirmed by both Fred and Grandpa, so I guess it's so! I was amazed. Since Chad and his family are out of town, my kids and I spent last night with Mom and Dad and I left this afternoon. It was cold, but not too windy, and the sun was shining with no clouds to block it, so I went with Mom on her walk to the corner and back. We had their two dogs and my two dogs I had brought for the overnight stay. Out of the blue Mom said, "I haven't taken these dogs on a walk before." I was stunned. At the first sound I started reading her lips, willing for the sentence to go on and on. Every sentence is a surprise gift to be enjoyed. You can't coax her to say more, or to speak at all, but sometimes she just does. So we enjoy the moment and go on. When we go to the corner I said, "Do you want to walk up the road or back up through the pasture?" not expecting an answer, but she said, "Go up the road." Twice she got onto the dog with a "Get back here, Addy." I willed the dog to roam more just to hear her speak. And halfway up the dirt road she said, "Carl picks me up here sometimes." It was such a surprise after so many days of "nothing." And what she said was accurate and made sense. Great day!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


The day was nice and warm, a good day to be out and about. Mom, Dad, Chad's parents, and all of our children made a total of 13 for Christmas dinner at my house. Allen wasn't able to make it, but we still had a full house and that was nice. My folks were here for about 2 hours and Mom only went out a couple of times, which was quite unusual. At my house, she only goes in the yard, thankfully, and there were plenty of kids to keep tabs on her whereabouts. For the second year in a row we did not exchange gifts, which made the holidays much less stressful for Dad (and everybody), and no less enjoyable. Dad enjoyed visiting with Chad's dad---they are two of a kind. Mom's appetite remains good. I cut her turkey up pretty small and she had no problems eating, helping herself to a second serving of chocolate pie afterwards. (Mom and Dad eating dessert--the table really was full before this was taken!)

At Mom and Dad's house, Christine ignored Dad's request that they ignore the holidays all-together, and she, Devri, and Eric went to a tree farm and drug home a tree for them. They put it up in the dining room and spent the day at their house decorating, stringing popcorn, drinking hot tea, and merry-making.

So, Christmas came and went without event, which a blessing--one more Christmas with my parents 'round the table! We are indeed thankful.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

He delivers!

Nice day today---warm and good for getting out in the fresh air. Dad decided to cut a little wood and Mom went with him. She was walking around in the field, as usual....nothing really to hurt her, if you keep in mind the vicinity she is in. When she was done walking aroung, she headed back to the house via the dirt road. Well, it just so happened that the mail was coming through about that time, so the carrier picked up Grandma and brought her and some Christmas cards to the front door. Not finding Dad at home, he drove up in the field to find him and say that she had been delivered. I'm telling you---we get full service from our postman!

One of Mom's very favorite tales was when one day she was standing up at the mailbox with a chicken she was getting ready to butcher....(I have no idea why she was doing this), but along came Rick the mail carrier and said, "Let me show you how to do it." He stepped out of the car and wrung that poor chicken's neck in a split second. She was so impressed. She said, "I've never seen anything like it, just 'boop' and it was done!" She told me a million times, "Yeah, one time I was standing up at the mailbox with this chicken, and Rick came by with the mail......" We-uns are easily impressed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

even in the dark

The neighbor, Bobby Morris, came to visit Dad the other day after dark and Dad said to himself, "She won't go out because it's dark outside" and left the door unlocked. Needless to say, in 15 minutes he ended up driving search and rescue where he found her already heading back from her walk to Magnus's. She had her gloves and jacket, but was not a good thing. I didn't jump Dad's case too much, though, because if I did he'd never tell me anything. Plus, he felt bad about it. I am having a very hard time getting Dad to believe that Mom is beyond reason now and just because she hasn't done something before doesn't mean she won't do it today. Dad gained some insight, though. He now knows to lock the door whether night or day and even if he plans to go back out in five minutes.

Poor Dad. He really wants to believe she knows a little bit about what she's doing, but it just isn't so. He makes his errors, but really he's being quite a trouper. Allen and I always figured Dad should die first because if Mom would die first, he'd be completely incapacitated. But he's fooled us, doing things I've never seen him do before---such as driving to Joplin. He used to say he wouldn't drive to Joplin to see Jesus Christ, himself. Now he hops up here whenever he pleases, completely stress free. There was also a time when Dad hadn't been to Wal-Mart in five he's a super shopper. And have I mentioned he uses the ATM machine?! WOW.

Magnus inquiry

A dedicated reader has inquired as to "Where is the Magnus Corner?" as I had mentioned that's where Mom walks. The Magnus Corner is named for a man, Magnus Barnett, who owned the property when Mom and Dad bought it. (I was a little girl at this time.) We would see Magnus at his house sometimes and I only recall him being a wizened old man who looked to be about 110 and he lived in a very tiny, dark house that had a funky smell to it. I think it's called "old people" smell. Dad says Magnus was so stingy he could squeeze a buffalo nickel until it...well....pottied. [paraphrased] I don't know about that.

Anyway, this property goes from Highway HH south to my parent's house and is 80 acres, I think. It consists of gently rolling giant hills and a bit of woods, both being quite beautiful. In years past, a house made of one of the old barracks from Camp Crowder sat on the corner where Quetzel (the dirt road) and Highway HH intersect. This was "The Magnus House," which we converted to a barn for many years before we had to tear it down for safety reasons. Since it is no longer standing, I refer to this location as the "Magnus Corner," being on the corner of the "Magnus Place"--the acreage. Chad, my husband, thinks it is about a quarter mile to the corner. Mom walks through the fields to this corner where there is a gate she exits through (often leaving open), then loops back towards the house via Quetzel Road. If allowed, she will do this several times/day. In good weather I enjoy walking with her, but right now--not so much. The big fear is that she will cross the highway when she reaches the corner rather than looping back towards the house.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"master of his domain"

I had the first argument I've ever had with my dad this week and it was a doozy. When I was a kid, he told me that if he ever got old and senile that I should tell him to take a hike (paraphrased). I told him this week, "You're there, Dad." It began with the fact that Mom snuck out of his sight while he was washing dishes this week and was up by the highway when it was 15 degrees outside. Also, she walked across the highway at another time. And that's just two of the times he told me about. No doubt there are others. I said, "The locks are going on the doors, right now." I've been hinting heavily for some time that the doors should have locks, but he was adamantly opposed saying, "I'll do better, it's too much trouble, I'll lock myself out, it's dangerous, it costs too much, I have too many keys already, we need to talk about this later, etc. etc." I said, "No, Dad, we're not waiting and we're not discussing. My handyman-guy is coming down ASAP." He was mad. I was mad, too. So, today the guy came down and put on the locks. They are like deadbolts, but they lock from the inside or outside with a key. One key works on both doors. We also got him big, bright keys---one has Sponge-Bob Squarepants on it, which he thought was funny. I even wrote arrows on the doors pointing the way to turn the key for "lock" and "unlock." I made him practice, practice, practice until he was comfortable. When he saw that he could do it and he wasn't going to lock himself out, he lit up like a Christmas tree and said, "I am master of my domain!" So, we waited to see what Mom would do. She tried the door, but when it wouldn't budge, she just walked away with a "whatever" look on her face. She did not stress, or act in any way frustrated. About every four minutes she'd try the door again and as before, gave it a 'whatever' look and moved on.

The rest of the night was completely at peace. Dad was relaxed and acting cussing in frustration and pulling Mom away from the door. The house stayed warm, too. He quickly called his neighbor to tell what wonderful locks he has on his doors!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

scroll down for new photo added

Also, when Ellie does something stupid, (like losing her balance and falling over), Mom laughs. Thankfully, Ellie does a lot of stupid things and Mom enjoys each one. Of course, hearing Mom laugh makes me laugh. It's great!


Dad and I were trying to get Mom to write something yesterday. I said, "Write what you are thinking." And she did:
what you are thinking
what you are thinking
what you are thinking
and she handed the paper back to me.

So Dad gave it a try and told her to write something about me. She wrote three words again and again. It said, "I'm (a three syllable unintelligible word), butt"
We tried to decifer the middle word with no luck. It was spelled differently each time, but always had three syllables. She had "greet" in there and "fur" and "gat" and I couldn't make heads or tails of it. So I said, "Ok, let me watch you it slowly." So she wrote carefully and slowly while I read aloud.

"I'm gettfull, ....t ....butt."

I turned ashen and said, "She's writing,'I'm forgetful, but." She nodded yes. I just smiled at her and said, "Yes, you're forgetful, but that's ok." and Dad said, "It sure is." The blood drained from my face and Dad was stunned. It would be better if we thought she had no clue what was going on, but now I think she does at least a very little bit and it makes me sad for her. But I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Mom's blood pressure, pulse, and all that stuff are great. She lost 1.5 pounds since last visit, but she could probably drink that much weight in water.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


That's the name for Dad's new bundle of joy. Eric and I took her to Dad on Saturday in a pink bandana and matching collar and lead. He loves her. Christine said he was down on his knees in the living room playing with her today and said, "Everybody should have a puppy." When Mom saw Ellie she chuckled to herself. She's a nice quiet puppy--enjoys rolling around in the floor and taking long naps. She's soft and likes to snuggle and play. Dad likes to walk around behind when she goes through the house just to see what she will do next. Pictures will be forthcoming. My camera bit the dust, so I have to rely on Chris to take the photos and e-mail them to me when she has time. Since it's finals week, it's not really a priority.

Christine brought Mom up tonight to listen to Devri sing in a Christmas concert for the vocal studio. Dad stayed home. He needed a break and this was a good time for it. Again, Mom clapped appropriately and smiled a lot. She nodded that she enjoyed it and was very attentive. Christine had her all decked out with earrings, make-up, and the whole deal. She looked very pretty. She says Mom's losing a lot of hair lately. I don't know what that's about. Christine also reports that she has to all but get in the shower with Mom to get her to wash her hair. She doesn't like water on her ears, so Christine has to go after her with the hand-held. When Christine told me this, Mom chuckled.

Christine has finals tomorrow and then will be off for the holidays, basically. She looks forward to not having to drive to school every day and says she will enjoy her time at home. She enjoys the farm and likes to read in the stove room where it is always nice and toasty. Her presence will give Dad extra support, which is great. She has been a godsend for Allen and I to take on this responsibility---and she really wants to do it. I get off work on the 19th and will be able to stay with them after that, so Christine can have a break, too.

Oh, Eric turned 14 this week. Christine provided a cake for Grandma and Grandpa's house so we sang and ate cake there on Saturday. Mom was doing fine....nothing unusual....appears content and comfortable.

Monday, December 1, 2008


(Mom making a fruit salad.) For the last few years my Mom and Dad have had Thanksgiving together with Chad's parents. This year, Chad's dad (Wayne) and wife (Mary) were hosting the dinner, but I gave Dad my blessing to bow out. It stresses him so much to get Mom ready to go somewhere, that it's not worth it sometimes. After dinner, Mary and I packed up plates of food and cobbler and I took them down for Mom and Dad to eat. Then Sunday evening, Chad and my kids and I made dinner for Mom and Dad at their house. There were a couple of things Mom was not able to do when I asked her to. First, she could not "bring me seven plates." She brought five. And she could not, "Put a knife, fork, and spoon by each plate." Some plates had all spoons and some two forks and a knife, but she did have three utensils by each plate, so that's something. No big deal. We all just sat down and traded back and forth until we got what we needed:) I must say she did make a mean fruit salad. She followed the two step direction of "open the can and drain the juice" followed by "pour it in the bowl." She also "put 1/2 of the whipped topping in the bowl." I thought that was pretty good, really. I wondered if she'd catch the "1/2" part and she did. She also had to take all the stems off the marachino cherries, because I wasn't paying attention when I bought them and got the cherries with stems, rather than without. Everybody is alive and physically healthy, and able to get together for Thanksgiving for hugs, kisses, and two kinds of pie. That is something I really thank God for!! (Eric, Christine, Devri, and Mom enjoying dinner.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

status on the dog

We have found a border collie for Dad, a six-week-old female from a Mennonite family east of Carthage. The Mennonites are known for being hard workers, as Allen said, so hopefully this character trait will have passed down to the dog! She comes from working parents--the father is a short-haired version and the mother a long-haired one. I didn't know they came in the short-haired variety, but I hope that this pup will have that trait! Cuckle burs and stick-tights are a real problem for Sadie. So far, this pup is just a bundle of fuzz, so who knows. We'll pick her up in two weeks and then Dad will have company in the truck when he goes to check the cows, and probably she will find a warm, snuggley place in his coveralls when the weather gets colder. Hopefully in the spring she will be old enough for Sadie to show her the ropes. Dad is looking forward to the new addition and I hope it will be a diversion of some sort for him. As he says, he's knitting booties.

the Nutcracker

Tis the season for "The Nutcracker." Devri played a parent at the party, a devious mouse, a lovely dancing snowflake, and was also a very pouffy pink carnation or something like it in "Dance of the Flowers." Mom and Dad came up for her performance in Pittsburg and again, Mom did ok. She was attentive during the entire performance, clapped appropriately, and leaned over to ask, "Is that Devri?" and "Is that Patrick?" (Anytime she speaks, it's a golden day.) Afterwards, however, when it was time to meet and greet, I had a dickens of a time keeping her under my wing. In times past she would stand where you asked her to and stay there---not anymore. She doesn't come to you when told always, either. She took off multiple times when I would let loose of her arm for a second to take a photo. Then I'd have to say, "Hold that pose" and run and get her by the arm and bring her back. Chad took her on out to the car, so I could keep taking photos, and said she had a bit of trouble on the many steps down from the auditorium. He said she almost fell once, which made him very nervous, but he kept a good hold and got her out to the car in fine shape. The main point was that she attentively watched the performance, looked and found Devri, and followed her around the stage with her eyes. That was good. Devri really wanted Mom and Dad both there, so it meant a lot to her to see them. Photos also forthcoming for this entry.

lunch at the museum

Last week Christine had her end of semester show at the museum where she had a display of an 1890's dress she had restored and set up in a scene. Mom and Dad came up for the event, and I took an extra long lunch period to zip over to Joplin, too. Mom walked around and checked out the various displays and appeared interested. I asked if she liked Christine's and she nodded firmly and said, "Yeah." Then we sat down to the tables where the sandwiches etc were already set. Well, of course if you sit Mom down in front of a plate, she figures it's time to eat. There was a speaker who wanted to say a few words first, so she nibbled a couple chips, not very quietly, and we held hands for a bit. Thankfully, his words were few so she could get back to the task at hand! She needed a bit of help cutting up a rather large sandwich, and she has become unsure of which utensil to eat with lately. She started in with a knife for her cheesecake and Chad on one side and Chris on the other whispered, "Get her her fork" simultaneously as I reached for it. So, obviously, everybody is on red alert when we're out and about, but Mom did ok. Dad's stress ifsmounting however. Taking her out really puts him into a spin. He tries to avoid it as much as possible. Pictures of this event will be forthcoming.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bob Villa would be proud

I was working hard to scrub down a pan in the sink last weekend. Dad said, "Don't work too hard on that, I've got a sanding bit that fits on my drill." I turned to see him holding up a bright and shiny cookie sheet saying, "See what a job it did on this one?" So, you see, Dad's doing just fine.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

concern about the cold

Well, it's cold out there which concerns me. Keeping Mom in the house is absolutely impossible, although Dad tries. He went so far as to physically take her arm and pull her away from the door, shutting the door in her face and saying, "@#@!%$, you're not going out that !#!%$% door again!" (It's really something, seeing him be so assertive for the first time in his life---frustration makes you that way, evidently.) Yeah, well....two minutes later she had looped 'round the house, circumventing his grasp and escaped through another route. I'm thinking it's best just to keep her bundled up, which she does herself because she dresses in multiple layers. Of course, I'm concerned about her safety and comfort with the colder weather setting in and the possibility of ice on the sidewalk. Although I am certainly glad she's physically healthy, it does create a little bit of a challenge. Dad's been going nuts, particularly at nighttime when her urge to wander greatly increases. We were watching her last week and she went in and out the door 7 times in 15 minutes. Of course, that lets a blast of cold air in the house, which is Dad's concern. It really wasn't cold in the house, because they had electric heaters installed in the walls of the outer rooms a couple years ago, but Dad, always the penny-pincher, sees money going out the door every time she opens it. It makes him crazy.

I was down there today as usual, and Mom was pretty out of it. She didn't speak at all and had very little response to anything. At supper time I gave her a knife and she knew what to do with it and cut up her roast beef with no problem. She ate well and didn't have any trouble swallowing. Problem was that after she was finished cutting, she forgot which utensil she had in her hand and started feeding herself with the knife (which had recently been sharpened) rather than the fork. I said, "Whoa, there...let's find that fork." We don't let her eat by herself, especially meat or things we think might be difficult to chew. And we are also careful to blow on her food that is too hot. So far, so good.

I did get one response from her today---a laugh. I noticed her cell phone was missing from its designated area. I said, "Mom, do you have the cell phone?" She started to laugh and her eyes twinkled. I said, "You do have it, now hand it over." Nothing doing. Her eyes continued to twinkle in a "make me" kind of way. I had to give her a pat down to find it in her sweatshirt. When I pulled it out of her pocket with a victorious, "A-ha!" she laughed again. That was SO nice to hear!

On a little bit happier topic, Dad would like to have a border collie puppy. You know he doesn't ever ask for things, but several times lately he has said he would like to have a new border collie to replace Sadie as the work dog. Sadie is getting too old to run cattle. She's gotten to when Dad tells her to round them up, she gives him the "Do I really have to?" look. Dad is getting too old to walk around herding, himself. So, I'm asking anybody out there to please check their local papers and let me know if you find some border collies for sale. When a man gets Dad's age and says he wants a puppy, by dang I think he should have it!

Thanks for reading. It's not always very happy posting, but your reading means you love and are concerned for Mom too, so we appreciate that. Every family has their ups and downs and we're doing ok. She's safe, and comfortable, and well-supervised and we're so glad she's still with us! She still gives warm, snuggly hugs and kisses. And sometimes she has a million dollar smile!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

waving at Loretta

I took Mom to my house again for the afternoon, thinking I'd get something done and hoping I could convince her to take a nap on my shift. She laid down with me and watched some t.v. in my bed for about four minutes and she was up and out the door. So, I tried to get some sanding done on my kitchen cabinets, (the 1.5 year renovation continues.) I gave her a piece of steel wool to sand some drawer fronts after their first coat of stain. This kept her busy 5 minutes, then out she was again. In short I accomplished very little, except what I was supposed to accomplish and that was to give Dad a break. I guess it was a successful day in that regard.

I called Dad on the way home and asked if he needed anything from Wal-Mart before I went home. Nope. A couple minutes later Mom said, "milk." So, I called again and asked him to check out the milk situation---yes, she was right, they were low on milk. It's easier to go to Braum's than Wal-Mart for milk. So, a jug of milk, two gallons of ice cream, and three hamburgers later, and we were on our way. While we were at Braum's Mom began to wave to someone as hard and fast as she could. I turned to see an old friend, Loretta Taylor, smiling and waving as hard and fast as she could, as well. We've known the Taylors forever and if Mom still had her ability to make conversation, no doubt she and Loretta would have been in Braum's talking for the next hour and a half. Word has no doubt traveled through the grapevine that talking isn't something Mom does anymore, so Loretta left it at a smile and wave and went on. There was a lot of fun-loving communication in that waving, though. Loretta looks exactly as she did 30 years ago...she still sports her "Baptist Bouffont" hair---still brown, (but probably with help), the reddest lipstick money can buy, and the brightest smile and energetic personality to go with it. Her face and eyes shot Mom a beam of fun and friendship that could have killed any man who happened to step between them. I thought about her on the way home and was a little teary thinking of all the long and heartfilled friendships Mom and Dad have throughout the Stella area. They have been very blessed to meet so many truly good and generous people, and I am thankful. It makes me think the world isn't all bad. If I'm ever in Mom's condition, I hopeI will have a friend to shoot a million dollar smile and big wave across the room to me!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

the ruby ring

When Illiene VanSlyke was an old lady, (which was always, as far as I remember), she told Mom that when she died, she wanted her to have her ruby ring. So when she passed away, before the family arrived or anything, Mom went to Illiene's house and got the ring and has worn it ever since. Naturally, with me being the only daughter it has always been known, but perhaps not said that when Mom passed away, I would be the ring's new recipient. A few weeks ago, Mom looked at me, pointed to Illiene's ring on her finger and said, "Do you want my ring?" I blinked a couple times and said, "Yes, Mom, I want your ring...but not right now." She seemed satisfied with that, answer and nodded, and I could see that her mind had shifted to some other thought. Still, I thought it was an odd question out of the blue and wondered if Mom was thinking about her own mortality.
In late July/August after we returned from London I was talking with Mom and telling her that it was ok that she couldn't remember things. I said, "I'm sure you must feel frustrated." She nodded and said, "Yes, frustrated." I asked if she remembered that the doctor had told her she had Alzheimer's. She said "yes" and nodded. I said, "How do you feel about that?" She said, "I feel depressed." I asked, "Do you feel depressed because you can't remember or because of the Alzheimers?" She said, "I....Alzheimers." I told her, "It's ok. I know it's hard for you to remember, but Daddy and Allen and I are going to remember things for you. Then if you can't remember something you can just ask us and we'll tell you, okay? You remember how we took care of each other when Lloyd died? (she nodded) Now you're sick and we're going to take good care of you. You don't need to worry. We'll take care of you." She said "yes" and nodded and her face and body completely relaxed at that moment. She seemed satisfied with our discussion. Now, whenever I see her I tell her, "I love you. It's ok. We're taking good care of you." She nods "yes" and relaxes and kisses me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

the "Pumpkin Pile" -p.s. scroll down for newly added pics

Strange thing happened this fall---somehow, some pumpkin vines began growing in the middle of a pile of brush south of Mom and Dad's house. Eric had to climb up the brush pile to pick pumpkins from the top. Dad had at least 15 good-sized pumpkins---couldn't have grown any better if he'd planned it!

A few weeks ago I was having many of the one-sided conversations I have with my mom. You know...."yada, yada, yada, you know what I mean?" And Mom said, "jellybean." It made me laugh. I gave her a kiss and said, "Well, you ARE listening a little bit, aren't you? I thought I was being ignored." She smiled.

Last weekend I put her to bed and laid down beside her for a while. She smiled at me. Her eyes were crystal clear. I felt like, "You're in there and you know what's going on, don't you?" Maybe it was wishful thinking, but sometimes she looks completely spaced out and other times, her eyes are perfect. Anyway, I choose to believe we had a moment.

Some things Mom likes best are sweaters or jackets---must be a security thing. She wears one no matter how hot it is. She also enjoys little packages of food or drinks like little juice bottles, applesauce cups, little cups of vegetables---things she can just open and eat all by herself. She wants to put things in her mouth constantly, and as long as it's not constant Twinkies I don't mind. She likes little bags of Cheerios and I bet she would like some of those itty-bitty cereal boxes she could just open and eat dry. She can't have hard things like nuts because she may choke, but if you're coming down and thinking, "What could I bring that she would like?" any of this sort of thing is a good bet. She enjoyed the books that she has received from folks, too. Dad thinks she likes the pajamas I bought her for her birthday. They are soft capri pants and a t-shirt thing and very cozy. She did turn around so we could all admire. It may be that HE likes them, mostly. They're lavender. If Daddy could clothe the women of the world, we'd all be in purple--with Jackie Onassis-style hats. He said about Mom, "She looks good in purple, but she looks like Helen Brown." hardy-har

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Afternoon at my house

(Dad said, "Take a little off the top." Chris is learning new skills.)

I picked up Mom this afternoon and took her along with me so I could get a few things checked off my own "to-do" list. First was a quick trip to pick up a couple things at the mall. Mom was good to stay with me as I told her to, and I only had to go after her once. I took her into the dressing room with me, of course. She gave me two sighs, loud and long, so I see her opinion of shopping at the mall is the same as it always has been ---she hates it! We were in and out in 30 minutes, though, and rewarded ourselves with Frostys from Wendy's afterwards. Next we went to my house and took the dogs for a long walk. Mom walks Shasta who is very good to stay exactly two feet to the left of her walker's left side. She never pulls or steps in front of your feet or anything, so it was a good walk for Mom. There are no rocks to trip on or holes to step into, and the road has no traffic because I live on a dead end loop. The weather was perfect, so we enjoyed our walk, looking at the neighbors' displays of straw, mums, pumpkins, and scarecrows. Afterwards I threw some clothes in the washer, pulled a few weeds, and gathered stuff for dinner before we went home. Dad said Mom looked like "The last rose of summer" when we returned because she had missed her afternoon nap and was tired. Dad had gone to his friend Jay's house while we were gone. Jay's wife passed away a couple years ago after a long while with Alzheimers, so I imagine it was therapeutic for Dad. I noticed that instead of Dad being frustrated with Mom, he sat and laughed while she and I cooked dinner. He was laughing because it is so difficult to cook with her helping. I turned around just in time to watch her nearly crack an egg in the chili, then the next thing I knew she was putting whole bologna slices on top of the browning hamburger. She's pretty helpful. Dad said it was nice to watch her give somebody else trouble, instead of himself, and he continued to laugh, so I'm thinking he was feeling a whole lot better after a day of separation. We put her to bed soon after supper and I'm sure she'll sleep very well tonight. I am hoping that she will soon feel comfortable enough to take her nap at my house in the afternoons, so I can get some work done but still keep an eye on her. We'll work on it.

She didn't say much today, except she said, "Janice" on the way to Neosho. Janice is her sister. On the way home, she said "Humphrey Pennyworth" three times. I went home and asked Dad who in the world Humphrey Pennyworth was. He said he was a cartoon character in the 1940's. I don't know if she saw something that brought him to mind, but that was her word for the day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All kinds of company

We had a lot of visitors this weekend, which is always great! Mom's sister, Lois, and her husband, Dick, were here from Ft. Worth towards the end of the week. We also visited with another of Mom's sisters, Jody, from Columbia, in at Grandma Lottie's on Saturday. Saturday night Allen, Kausick, Liesel, and Drew drove down from Lincoln and Kansas City.
Watching Mom isn't easy as she needs constant supervision, so I decided we'd take a girl's night out and told Dad to take the evening off. After visiting at Lottie's Mom and I met Christine at MSSU for Devri's District Honor Choir performance. I think Dad enjoyed some time to rest, but he was standing at the gate when we got home that evening, ready for Mom to be back. We returned about 7:00 p.m., dinner was on the table thanks to the Lincoln/KC crew, and Mom turned herself in at about 9:00. She probably was pretty tired after spending the entire evening away.
I didn't get hardly any words from her this weekend until Jody gave her a book. I asked if she could read it aloud and she did! She read about two sentences, which was 10 times the words I had heard from her all day. It was nice to hear her voice. Thanks, everybody, for coming to visit! (Mom, Patrick, Devri, & me at MSSU choir concert.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A couple photos from earlier in the year

Here are a couple photos from ealier this year when Devri was doing "My Strongest Suit." I think she's giving Grandpa an "Oklahoma Hello!" Mom enjoys every performance whether Devri is being a pre-princess Cinderella all dressed in rags she's being here.

The status of the phone

Perhaps you heard that Dad put their phone through the washer? I ordered Mom and Dad a new phone, another Jitterbug, but it had some fault and I had to return it. The company is sending me a new one. I hope to have Mom and Dad re-connected within a week. Dad doesn't like to use the land line---too expensive. And Mom enjoys using the phone. She particularly likes to play "walkie-talkie" with me when I visit. She calls me across the dining room table incessantly repeating my "How are you?" etc. And she laughs. Another joke, I guess. Their number will remain the same, by the way.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Mom and Dad came up to Devri's recital tonight. Mom smiled a lot and clapped after each performer. After Devri sang her number, another girl took the stage and began to sing. Mom leaned over to me and said, "Devri could sing that." Ok, so she's a little biased---she's the grandma! Her statement was so matter of fact and normal that I actually forgot for a moment that she doesn't usually speak sentences. It was great! (and it was funny.) I was glad she remembered to keep her voice down when she said it! I live for all these little high points!!

funeral visitation/mom's birthday

Allen thought maybe a blog would be good for people who wonder how Mom is doing more on a daily basis. So, I'll try to post regularly the good, the bad and the odd. We're doing ok, I think. It is nice to have Mom still here to hug and kiss and just be with. One time I was getting ready to leave and she picked a flower for me from the bouquet on the kitchen table and gave it to me. That was nice.

I have started going to Mom and Dad's every Saturday. I try to be there in the morning when I can and I stay until evening. This gives Christine time to go work for Janice and gives opportunity for Dad to do a few things that are difficult when he has to watch Mom at the same time. I keep Mom busy doing laundry and cooking with me, and vacuuming. Her favorite games is "unplug the vacuum cleaner." I begin to vacuum and she unplugs me, gives me an ornery look, and laughs. I shake my finger at her, plug myself in again, and in just a few seconds she does it again with the same response. It's our little joke.

I saw Mom and Dad last night, actually, at a funeral visitation for a neighbor. Mom smiled and appeared happy to be in a social setting. She looked very nice in black slacks and matching blouse, (10 points for Dad.) I asked her if she knew who I was standing with and she smiled and said, "Lynnette...Stokes" which was pretty impressive to remember my best friend's married name. I asked if she saw anyone else she knew and she said, "No." But she was all smiles and looked very pretty. She did sign her name in the book very clearly as "Cookie Major," for some reason. Dad said it was because she majors in cookies. It didn't really matter. The visitation was for a man who also had Alzheimer's and the family could no doubt relate. Dad marked that out, though, and signed her real name.

Tonight we will all go to see Devri perform in her vocal recital in Joplin. Mom always enjoys that, of course. She heard Devri perform a couple weeks ago when Devri won the "Pittsburg Idol" competition. As soon as Devri got off the stage from picking up her award, Mom grabbed her by the hand and headed towards the car. She was ready to go home and she was taking Devri with her!

Last week, on Mom's birthday, we made a cake and sang and blew out candles. I bought her some new jeans and tops and pajamas. She looked quite nice even without make-up, and seemed pleased with her new jeans. We were trying to get the camera ready and told her to "hang on" before she opened presents. She completely ignored us. She knew the presents were hers and she was going to open them immediately! When I asked her how old she was on her birthday she correctly said "69." I noticed she had received some birthday cards. I held one up and said, "Who sent you this birthday card?" She answered correctly, "Mama." I put her cards in the bay window so she could see them every day.