Sunday, October 25, 2009

the "dogio"

I was down at Mom and Dad's today and so as not to let any minute waste, I constructed a "dogio" for Addie. Never was a dog so undeserving as she. A "dogio," if you wonder, is simply a patio made like a mini-deck for in front of the dog house. The purpose, of course, is so that Addie doesn't end up with a mud puddle in front of her house through which to track mud every time she comes in the door. Mom sat in a chair in front of me and watched with great interest, handing me nails throughout. She also chuckled to herself every time I bent one over and continued to laugh as I grunted, spit, and growled, trying to get it out. Considering I was putting nails into the hardest oak scrap-wood, she was amused for quite some time, sad to say.

Mom was always been the Handyman. She actually belonged to a wood-working group once---I believe the only woman there. She was never afraid to give any tool a try and developed skills in building that would put most men to shame. I am amazed at all that she has constructed in her lifetime and sorry that now that she is retired, and has money and time to do things, she is not able. Sometimes I sigh and am frustrated about this. Her mom is 97 years old and is doing great. Her grandpa lived until he was 92, I believe, and his mind was sharp 'til the end. So naturally, I assumed she would also be blessed with a very long life with all her faculties in working order. For this reason it is sometimes easy to feel "short-changed." I have to remind myself that no one is promised a long life, and it was my own presumption that causes my disappointment. And besides that, nobody said life was fair. I think to myself, "If I had had any clue that you were going away, Mom, I would have told you goodbye----but I didn't know.....and then it was too late." I get whiney sometimes, especially when the day is quiet and I have time to think about the whole situation without distraction. When I start thinking like this I tell myself, "You need to go spend a few weeks in Haiti and get your head screwed on right, you spoiled brat." Then afterwards I am more able think about how nice it is to have Mom here handing me nails and laughing at me. And it's not so bad, really, all things considered.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

70th birthday

Mom's 70th birthday was on October 11th. I was down that Saturday before to bring a present and wish her well and I also took Mom to a benefit for a student she had taught, (also my classmate.) She smiled a lot and saw a few people she recognized. When we returned home Mariko, who she went to Japan with years ago, had come bearing gifts and well wishes. Before I left, Carla and her family came with an apple pie that I deem "restaurant quality" to be sure, so I was happy for Mom to receive all the attention.

On Sunday Allen was down and my kids with two boyfriends in tow spent the day making cake and blowing up balloons. Mom enjoyed tossing her balloons back and forth with the kids. I don't think her reflexes are quick enough to play catch with a ball, but balloons she is quite good with and appears to enjoy them.

The next time I went down there it wasn't too long before Mom came out of the bedroom with one of her left-over birthday balloons to play catch. Ah, the simple pleasures!! Balloons have to be one of the best inventions of all times. Dad was not happy, though. He said, "All those birthday cards she got, she just ripped them to shreds!" I could tell he was irritated. I said, "Dad, people sent her cards so she would enjoy them. She enjoyed ripping them apart, so that's exactly what she should have done. Nobody cares 'how' she enjoyed them, they just wanted them to make her happy---and that they did. They accomplished their purpose." He smirked, rather unconvinced, but let it go at that. Poor Daddy. Mom is making him crazy....he's so cranky these days.

Hopefully, Allen will get a photo to me of Mom tossing balloons. Then I'll put it on the blog so you all can see.

Devri's first college concert

Christine drove Mom and Dad up for Devri's college debut this Thursday. I was amazed to hear the difference in sound between her high school choirs and college---it was beautiful! Mom was attentive during the entire performance, clapping appropriately, and pointed to Devri's name in the program.

When Eric came up to say hello, however, her mind was occupied with what people were doing in front of her and she did not see him. He said, "Hi, Grandma....Grandma....Grandma, over here....." then looked at me baffled as to what to do. He was standing only a step ahead of her, just off one shoulder, but still she did not turn. He waved in front of her face even, and received no response. I said, "Stand right in front of her." So he took one step left and repeated, "Hi, Grandma." She focused on him in surprise as if saying, "Eric! Where did you come from?!" She gave a hug and was happy to see him, but it was rather odd that she did not appear to see or hear him until he stood right in front of her eyes.

It was a beautiful concert as I said and I'm sure she enjoyed it. Each time I take her somewhere I think, "Wow. Mom is absolutely, undeniably qualified to be in a nursing center, but instead, I get to take her with me wherever I want. That is just so great!" We are incredibly fortunate!

Taking Aim

Build-A-Bear is putting toys in Happy Meals these days---a little stuffed animal with a shirt that comes on and off. When I go to my night class on Mondays, I pick one up for Mom and she appears to enjoy her little collection, sitting them all up straight in a chair facing her. She takes their shirts on and off again and again. It takes quite a bit of fine motor skill to do this and it takes her a very long time to do, but she doesn't appear frustrated, just keeps working and working on it to get the shirt over the head and the arms in the sleeves. It makes me crazy to watch her because I get frustrated---so tempted just to take it from her and do it myself, but I know that getting bears dressed and undressed is really not the's the practice using her hands and fingers whose use appears to be deteriorating more each time I see her.

Anyway, I was sitting at the table watching the football game and she was sitting with her little animals, situating them just so on a chair, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a pink monkey in a T-shirt sailing straight toward my head. I turned to see her smiling at me, waiting for a reaction. I said, "I guess I'm not paying enough attention to you, is that it?" She laughed. I shook my head and gave her a smirk, tossed the monkey back, and turned back to my game. A minute or two passed and again, (this time a polka-dotted cat) came flying at me. I turned to see her same hesitation, waiting for my response. I said, "Mom, you are such a you know that?" She laughed some more and I pelted her with the cat in return. So, you must know that although her communication skills are limited, her aim is quite good. The lesson learned is that even though Mom isn't talking, she still wants to receive her fair share of attention. I'm thinking I'd better watch my back for the day she decides to pick up a brick and send it sailing!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

three visitors from California

(Mom and Darin with Dad in the back---Grandma Lottie's house.)
My cousin, Darin, came to visit en route to his brother's wedding in St. Louis. Mom's sister and Darin's mother, Janice, made a great meal at Grandma Lottie's house. Mom hugged Darin more in that one visit than she probably had in his whole life! She evidently recognized him and appeared very happy to see him. Lottie (Mom's mother) was doing very well too, particulaly since she's 97! Today, however, she's been admitted to the hospital, so I'm on my way to see how that's going.

Also visiting from California last Wednesday were the Ramey's who are relatives on Dad's side of the family. They have been coming out once/year and Mom and Dad always look foward to it. They brought dinner, too, which was a definite plus. I had planned to go down and visit, too, but after a day of school, "the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak." In other words, I was lazy and didn't go and now I wish I had.

Mom is doing fine. Her fingers are pretty curled up now and she uses her thumb an forefinger much like pinchers when she eats. She has a lot of trouble with buttons, too. Dad says she's being "beligerant" about swallowing her pills, namely calcium and thyroid stuff. I guess she gave him the old "switch-er-oo" by putting the calcium tablet in her mouth and later he found half of it somewhere and another half somewhere else. Kind of reminds me about Mom saying I used to take food I didn't want to eat and hide it in the potted plants. So---now we know where I got that! I told Dad to ask the pharmacist to put her pills in liquid form, which he didn't know was possible. He said he tried hiding them in applesauce, but she got wise to that real quick and it was "game over." She's definitely ornery and she knows it, and laughs. And of course we just laugh, too. It's such a bizarre trip, this Alzheimer's stuff....wish Mom were "here" to enjoy the craziness with us. She'd probably laugh at herself! (Darin, Eric, Dad, Devri, Patrick, me,Mom, and Grandma Lottie at dinner.)