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.