Friday, September 21, 2012

So, I get home from work last night and decide to leave my car in the drive because I decided that I was going to surprise Ron with a trip out to run some errands and get dinner. It’s been a while since I’ve taken him anywhere and he likes to go grocery shopping with me. I don’t like to take him because I’m an “in and out” kind of shopper and he s.h.o.p.s. – sllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyy. I’d rather take a list of what he’d like to have and then decide which items on the list I’m going to let him have. That sounds terribly mean but I like to keep his snacks as healthy as possible during the week. I get protein bars, yogurt, granola, fruit, animal crackers, cheese sticks, and sometimes – very rarely – some kind of chip or cracker for him to eat. He also likes peanut butter on crackers, so I try to keep some on hand for him.

I had tried to call him earlier in the day to get his wants and desires but he didn’t answer his phone. It’s having problems so I wasn’t too surprised. Since I was already going to have to go home to make the list, I decided that I’d just surprise him and take him with me. Since I didn’t park in the garage, I didn’t open the door to the utility room/kitchen but went in through the front door (if I had gone through the garage, I would have seen the mess right away). Immediately, I spot an Oxy Clean stain stick on the table by Ron’s chair. That cannot be good news because that means he spilled something somewhere and was trying to erase the evidence, I mean clean up after himself.

Ron: You’re home too early.
Me: Why do you say that?
Him: Well, I had a little accident.
Me: I see that. What did you do?
Him: I dropped the peanut butter. (Note: This was “natural” peanut butter in a glass jar from the health food store, so it was really oily in one layer and then the “peanut” portion was another layer.)
Me: What were you doing? (By now, I’m a little bit irritated – really quite a bit irritated – because we’ve had multiple discussions about him eating snacks in his chair in the living room. He has access to more than one area to eat but he can’t see the television from those spots. Ugh!)
Him: I was bringing the peanut butter and crackers in here for a snack and I dropped it. (The crackers are in a plastic tub with a lid, so in one hand, he was trying to carry a tub of crackers, a knife, and a jar of peanut butter. In the other hand, he had his cane. Of course, he has to wear his prosthetic leg when he’s walking but lately he’s not been wearing his left shoe/brace insert and has been going barefoot. We just spent $70 on a new pair of lightweight shoes so it would be easier and more comfortable for him to walk around the house. He’s lost his balance before when barefoot and has fallen more than once. The most recent was about three weeks ago when he fell and cracked a couple of ribs and broke the legs off of a Lazy Boy recliner from landing on it so hard.)

During this conversation, I’ve been setting my stuff down and looking at the floor by his chair and noticed blood. Lots of blood. (I’d just cleaned the carpet Sunday after I came home from Kansas City because he’d bled a big spot from not knowing that he’d scratched his foot. Amy and Rex had been there and as I came in she said she was just cleaning up for me. I had to borrow their small carpet cleaner to actually get it all up.) This blood was in almost the same exact spot as it had been Sunday. He said it was from his arm, which he’d cut from the peanut butter jar but I thought it was his foot. I looked where the bandage was on his foot and it wasn’t bleeding so I decided it must have been his arm.

I head to the kitchen to get something to clean up the carpet with and notice blood all over the kitchen floor. It seriously looks like someone has been murdered in there. Blood everywhere, along with broken glass and oil from the peanut butter jar. I went around the corner to the laundry area/utility room and found more blood. He had dripped and tracked blood all over the kitchen floor. So, I headed to the bathroom to get the mop and discovered even more blood. By now, I’m figuring I need to shampoo most of the carpet and that’s not happening right now.

I cleaned up the blood in the bathroom first and headed back to the kitchen where I proceeded to sweep the floor, vacuum the floor, then mop the floor. In the midst of all of this, I slipped on either oil from the peanut butter jar or because of the mopping, or a combination of both. I went down hard on my right knee, with my leg bent out away from my body, almost like I was doing the “splits.” My left knee didn’t hit the floor, which was good because it would have landed in a pile of glass, but it was stretched out the other direction enough to feel that pull, too. My left arm – which is already a mess because of the cartilage tear in my shoulder – got the brunt of keeping me from totally landing my whole body on the floor. I could barely get up and as I’m yelling a couple of lovely words, Ron is in the other room asking what’s wrong. When you hurt yourself like that, the last thing you want to do is EXPLAIN what happened. I had to catch my breath.

We had quite the lively discussion about his continued stunts. He does not even begin to think about something before he does it. Trying to walk barefoot (a big no-no), carrying a tub of crackers, a knife, and a glass jar while he’s walking is just one of the many things he’s done recently. Besides breaking the chair (which my landlord graciously fixed for us), he’s broken the glass front to the antique china hutch (that could have been so dangerous if he had fallen into it instead of grazing it as he fell past it), he’s dropped a dish onto an antique dish (which broke), he’s fallen out of bed (last Monday, I found him on the floor by the bed; he’d been there about an hour – slid out trying to get his leg on), he’s spilled cups of liquid on the floor (he thought they were empty) because he’s not careful of where he sets them or how close they are to the edge of the table, and he’s bled on the floor more times than I can count. It’s not like I resent cleaning up any of these things but he doesn’t learn from what he’s previously done to keep from doing it again.

I just looked at him last night and said I can’t continue to do this and that he had to quit acting like he was invincible.  Then, I decided I was going out but I didn’t take him. I knew that I just had to get away for a while. I went down the road to play “Alice in Wonderland” and it was a nice reprieve. But, when I got home we had to continue our little discussion.

There was more blood on the floor in the bathroom (and on the wall) and in the kitchen. He insisted that his ankle was not bleeding but I made him let me see his foot anyway. Not only did he sustain a substantial cut to the bottom of his foot, about where his big toe would be if he had one, he also has 10 puncture wounds. So when he thought he was “fine” he was actually cutting his foot up by traipsing through broken glass. I felt bad that I hadn’t noticed it before but I was concentrating on where he knew he’d been bleeding from. I got those all cleaned up and bandaged and asked him when was he going to learn; did he want to lose his other leg, too? He still thinks he could walk just fine on two prosthetics. Seriously? He can barely get around on one prosthetic with a cane. I told him he’d find himself in assisted living if he wasn’t careful because I was not capable of providing the care that he was going to need if he didn’t start taking better care of himself – and that includes wearing his shoe. I don’t expect very much of him – actually, nothing. He will sometimes wash up a few dishes but that’s really all that he can do and I usually end up re-doing them because he doesn’t see if he’s not gotten something clean (I never tell him though – I just put it in the dishwasher or something).

He’ll promise me that he’ll do things differently and then he forgets all about it. He’s supposed to wash the socket sleeve every day with mild soap and hang it over a form to dry. He has two of these. They cost $1200 each and our portion is several hundred dollars. He said he’d be responsible for washing them and taking care of them. He doesn’t remember and by the time I realize that he’s not washed one for several days, they both need to be washed. He’s only had these for six or eight months and already one needs to be replaced (skin oils cause the material to break down – that’s why he’s supposed to wash them after every wearing).

Too bad it was too late to go back out. I think Alice was calling my name. J

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On previous anniversaries of September 11, I have written a reflective post on where I was, how things were going, what I thought, etc. This year, I couldn’t reflect on that date when the days surrounding this September 11 have been in such turmoil. The Oak Ridge Boys concert was last night and we did attend. I tossed around the decision to attend or not and decided that my attendance (or not) wouldn’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

This may seem like an odd way to begin a post, and I’ve written (but not posted) a message on mortality but now it is so much more poignant and appropriate. You see, my mom had a massive stroke this past Sunday, changing everything and bringing the thought of mortality to the forefront of my mind. My attendance – or not - at the concert last night wouldn’t change the fact that she is lying in a hospital bed in another state. We did enjoy ourselves and probably needed that time to get away from the stress of the unknown. I’m not in a giveaway frame of mind right now so I’ll have to postpone that until a later time. I have two people who posted about their “star” dreams and since they are both so good, I’m sending each of you a prize. I promise. Just not right now.

What I wrote on mortality on September 4 but never got around to posting (additions in red are my thoughts today on what I wrote then):

I never really considered my own mortality before but the older I get – and the older my children get – makes ignoring it more difficult to do. People are born, and die, every day. My time will come when God decides that it is here. My father passed away in 2005 but he had really been “given” 18 extra years in his life following a near-fatal heart attack in 1987. Luckily, he’d had a quadruple by-pass in June and then suffered the heart attack in July. His doctor said if he’d had the heart attack first, there would not have been a by-pass surgery. He was only 56 when he had the heart attack – the same age I am now. He was 74 when he died and I did not connect his death to my own mortality. (Back then, my mom would always say that Dad didn’t feel well and this made him grumpy. I told her to make him go to the doctor and she said that he wouldn’t go. I told her to make him an appointment and when he got home from work, to tell him to get into the car. She took my advice and on a Friday in June took him to the doctor. The doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital that day but my dad refused. He made Dad promise to not lift anything heavier than a coffee cup all weekend and scheduled him for by-pass surgery for the following Monday. The accurate diagnosis by the doctor saved his life.)

My mom turned 82 last week and I turned 56 two days later. I saw my mom the weekend before her birthday and although she didn’t look as bad as she has in the past, she feels worse than she has in a while. She goes to kidney dialysis three times a week and that is really sapping her strength and energy. It’s impossible to look a loved one in the eyes and not wonder about his/her – and your own – mortality. I worry about the length of time we have left with her. I worry about the quality of that time. I’d like to turn back time and do or say all the things that should have been said or done – and take away the things that should not have been said or done. If I could turn back time, I’d have gone to visit more, said I love you more, and asked if there were more things I could have done for her. If I could turn back time, I’m not sure exactly what I would do but I hope that I would do things differently. I’d apologize for things said (or left unsaid), things done (or not done) in the heat of the moment, and for where I had failed to live up to the hopes and dreams that she had for us. If I could turn back time, I’d sit down and have her tell me stories of her life – and put them on paper for my children to read. I bought her a book one time that was a sort of “fill in the blank” and she didn’t want to fill it in; she said none of us would really be interested in the minutia of her life. She was very wrong. If I could turn back time, I’d cherish listening to those details and ask for more.

I know my mom is proud of all of her children (there were seven of us) but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) one for flowery speeches or gushy shows of affection. It took me a lot of years to understand that her lack of “show” did not equate to a lack of feeling. As an adult myself, I’ve learned more about feelings – hiding and showing – than I ever thought I’d learn. I may not say much (when I could) but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel deeply. I’m sure this probably explains my mom pretty accurately. We were each raised in households where feelings weren’t discussed or shown. It was expected – and understood – that we would love each other and get along, not only with each other but also with others outside of the family unit. I posted an analogy of a tree today on my Facebook page. I won’t bore you with all of the details (the original message came from Tyler Perry so you could search for him on FB and read what he wrote) but give you a shortened version of it. People are like trees. You have some leaves, weaker, blown around by the wind, and when the winds change, they’re usually gone and out of your life without really being the type of supportive person you need. Then you have your limbs, which are stronger than the leaves but like them, if you pile on too much weight they break easily and are also gone from your life. These two groups of people have purpose in your life but they’re not the ones you go to if you need support and help. The final group of people is the roots – in the background, often unseen and without drawing attention to themselves, providing us with the support, encouragement, and nourishment in every way they can. My mom is the strongest “root” I know and the knowledge that her earthly presence and wisdom may soon be gone from us is a chilling fact and is causing this “tree” to lean.

There were definite times when this did not happen. It is sad to realize that as we all get older, we may not be there for each other in the way that we could – and maybe should. There are friends that have come and gone; relationships that have ended just because people have drifted apart and other relationships that were damaged due to the actions of one or more people. Some relationships were never meant to be and should be ended. Others should be mended; forgiveness should be extended. Forgiveness is as much, or more, for the person offering forgiveness as it is for the one being forgiven. I have a lot of actions that I need to be forgiven for and I hope that I’ve asked for it from all I needed. Instead of wondering (in some cases) where/what/how I went wrong, I just have to accept that some relationships may never be mended. We may need to re-cultivate our root system to include others, but not diminishing the role of the ones who were there before. Broken trees can re-build and just as a damaged tree bends and changes with time, I know that I will also change and grow as time passes. I may not always have my mother to lean on but I can always lean on her strength, her love, and the wisdom that she has passed down to us.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It’s Giveaway Time!

I promised a giveaway to celebrate our upcoming trip to see The Oak Ridge Boys on September 11. To be eligible to win, answer this question:
Did you have “star fantasies” when you were a kid (or even now as an adult)?  If so, tell me all about it – but keep it clean. I’m not talking about anything kinky, weird, or inappropriate for everyone to read. I mean – a crush on a “heartthrob” or music idol (such as Elvis), or dream of running into a movie star somewhere, or a date.
I know when I was a teenager I loved Davy Jones of The Monkees. Sadly, Davy Jones passed away this year but I always thought he was soooo cute! I also had a big crush on David Cassidy from The Partridge Family. (I actually met Susan Dey one time – she is TINY!) I never dreamt of having a date with anyone famous, but I always thought I could be a good friend to female stars. Of course, that was very naive of me, but I still would dream about meeting famous people and being “friends” with several people.
I love the Oak Ridge Boys (and the Statler Brothers) and we have gone to as many concerts as we possibly could. One time at a Wichita concert, we were coming around the building to the entrance as they exited a side door. They were so nice and chatted with us for several minutes. I think I was too stunned to get any pictures so hopefully the next time we see them, I’ll be able to get some pics. We not only have tickets for the Kansas State Fair, but we also have tickets for a December 11 concert at the Golden Nugget hotel in Vegas. My big fantasy right now would be to get a knock on our hotel door and have the Boys on the other side of the door.  That would be cool all by itself but the BIG part would be that they invited us on their cruise (takes place the end of February 2013) – all expenses paid, of course. LOL – now that’s truly a big, BIG fantasy (I had a dream one night after I read about their cruise that we got to go; not a possibility but it was a really good dream!).
So… those are my old, new, naive, and silly fantasies. What about you? The contest will run until September 12 (the day after the Kansas concert). To enter, leave a comment about your “star fantasy” and I’ll pick the winner from the entrants. The winner will get an Oak Ridge Boys package – contents to be detailed later when the winner is announced. I’m shooting for a CD and a signed book – either one from Joe Bonsall or the new one from Richard Sterban. Not sure – just what I can put together.  Unfortunately, this contest is only open to residents of the US but I will be having another book giveaway that will be a download.