Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No North Carolina pictures you say?

Well, the fact of the matter is that the pic to the left is the ONLY picture we have of our trip to NC. Someone (who shall remain nameless - oh, ok, it was ME...) left the camera battery for the Nikon D5000 at home. I was really hoping to get some beautiful beach scenes but, alas, the scenes are only in our memories.

We had a wonderful time! Mostly out of touch with all except brief calls to check on Mom. Lazy days at Carolina Beach were the best. Funky little town - if you go there, you have to stop in at the Fat Pelican - a bar unlike any other. You select your beer from a walk in cooler where 400 different brews await your arrival. "Eclectic" is the only word that comes to mind for the place and is a much nicer way to say "junky." There's an old whirlpool bathtub gurgling away with green water in the corner, plastic tables and chairs, graffiti ridden swings, barber chairs or any other type of sitting implement the owner picked up. Interesting characters abound including the obligatory bar dog, the largest lab I've ever set eyes on. "Attaboy" (great name) stands about 4 feet tall at the head and is every bit of 115 lbs with no fat on him. His head is about as wide as the beach! Beautiful creature and the gentlest soul in NC. We had a great time there.

Bobbi is in NC right now in a rental house with her dogs. Am missing her as I generally tag along on these trips but couldn't go this time and leave Mom so here I sit, on the back deck totally enjoying a delightful warm breeze. Ah, not too bad at all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vacation in NC!

Sharyn graciously came up to relieve me for a few days with Gert. John and I took the opportunity to flit south to Sharyn's house in Wilmington, NC. 6 hours later (95 was backed up), here we are! Sadly, John is starting vacation in a bad way - he has a horrible cold. We're on the third day at this point and the guy is trying to be quite the trooper but all he wanted was Rock and Rye and tea when we got here. I called a few places and doesn't look like the state carries Rock and Rye so gave him meds and sent him off to bed. Hope he's better tomorrow. Regardless, he's going to have his cold baked out of him as we're hitting the beach for the day...I hope!

I'm like a nervous mother, leaving Sharyn and Carina in charge of Mom, 6 dogs and a cat. I trust them both fully but, still, wish I was there to tuck Mom in at night. I'll miss hearing her 'Good night, sweetheart' as I tuck her in and kiss her.

Came into Sharyn's house and went to put the luggage in her bedroom. Was so touched to see pictures of my Mom and Dad stuck in her bedroom mirror. Now, maybe she put them there because I was coming down to her house or maybe she put them there as she just plain old love my folks - doesn't matter which reason. Actions speak louder than words. And, looks to me like they've been there for quite a while. Really touched me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some decent resources about the elderly

I found an online writer, Margo, who must be my twin sister from different mothers. She writes a beautiful blog geared toward children caring for their elderly parents. It's almost unreal how similar to me she is. She cared for her father until his death, and faced the exact same issues I face on a daily basis. Things like trying to make sure that Mom gets in enough water (lack of water not only causes dehydration in the elderly but confusion also). Since I've been pushing water, her confusion has lessened to a degree. And, every single degree is important! Margo documents things like the first time she cut her Dad's meat because he couldn't; I remember this moment very well. I had to leave the kitchen for a moment to compose myself but not Mom. She just said "Thank you, darling," picked up her fork and had at it.

Click Changing the Guard to go to Margo's excellent blog. I highly recommend it. Her blog contains the best information and the most engaging writing I've ever seen while documenting my exact path. She is much more eloquent than I.

And, here's another online writer friend, Snowfence, who has written some really good articles about the elderly.

The top five problems to expect from an aging parent
The top five questions your elderly parent will ask you about growing older
The top five reasons the elderly are so important in our lives

Mom was up at 2, 4, 6, and 7am last night/this morning. She didn't keep her oxygen in so was very foggy. I was a bit short with her as I kept getting up to put her back to bed so she's eating fresh biscuits with butter and jelly right now (my apology in food). But, it just figures that she had a bad night, especially since I'll be making the determination tomorrow about whether or not I can go away next week on a small vacation.

If all is ok with Mom, John and I are hoping to get away to North Carolina while Sharyn comes here to take care of Mom. Sharyn is the only one I'd actually leave with Mom these days as she innately knows what to do. More than I do sometimes as Sharyn had a child and raising a 94 year old is not dissimilar to dealing with a young child. So, we're hoping to leave Monday and stay until Friday but that may be too long for Mom. She does ok without me for a few days, but then seems to go downhill fairly rapidly so, NC was a good choice as it's only 6 hours away. John and I can come back at any moment. We'll see how the plan progresses, but a few days of fun, sun and the beach sure would be helpful right about now.

In anticipation, I just took a tray of mondel bread out of the oven. I'm hoping there's some left as Gert is on piece #3 along with another glass of milk. Her appetite certainly is not suffering!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh what a night...

The littlest branch on my 157 year old oak
...And not in a good way! First off, all is fine....

Now for the tale...

Around 9:00pm, I was getting ready to take Mom up to bed when BOOM, BANG, the sky positively lit up like I've never seen! At first, I thought it was lightning but then a second round came and it was louder than the first; I was wondering if a house had blown up - the noise was that dramatic. Wasn't sure what the hell was happening but Armageddon came to mind....Anyway, the electricity going out was enough of a clue for me. The house lost ALL power - everything was beeping. We have a lot of items on battery these days such as battery backups for computers, Mom's "I've fallen and I can't get up" phone line, Mom's oxygen, the chair chargers, etc.

I grabbed a flashlight and went outside cautiously. We've had a similar occurrence before, and there were live wires in the front yard jumping around resulting in a lot of fried worms the next day. Since I didn't want my hair permed, I shone the light off of the porch but couldn't see anything wrong. A cautious peer out the kitchen window saw the massive cherry tree still standing so I knew we weren't hit on that side. That happened just a month ago when the other 'was massive' cherry tree came down and struck the house (note to self: have to call re: the hole in the house....). On the other side of the house the magnificent oaks were still magnificent so that was good. But, hell, SOMETHING went on!

Since I had no internet and Bobbi was the only one who answered the phone, I had her call the power company and report it for me. So, this was 9:05pm. The power company finally appeared around 2:00 am after three pleading calls from me. Power was restored at 2:30 which was not a minute too early.

Since the oxygen tanks are electric, I had to use the portable gas unit and fill it every hour to hour and a half, wake Mom up and plug her back in. What a hassle! Mom, thankfully, stayed asleep most of the night except when I woke her. I put a flashlight in her room to act as a nightlight.

So, as I was lying in the dark, ruminating on the fact that I was not in the least prepared for this power outage for a night, I thought of a few disaster preparations to make:

1. Have more than two flashlights on hand! And, know where the damned batteries are!

2. Come up with a routine whereby all items are switched off. The TV came back on at 2:30 am and was BLARING. Scared me almost as much as the original blasts!

3. It wasn't necessary to throw out every single candle. Between Mom being a bit unsteady on her feet, a cat who likes flames and 6 dogs running around, I purged the house of wax candles. I'll get a few and keep them in the living room so I can find them quickly in the case of emergency.

4. Buy a battery nightlight to have on hand for Mom's room.

5. Don't store vodka so far back in the cabinet.

Anyway, today was fine and Gert is good. As almost always, she took the turmoil in stride. Another lesson learned. When times get tough, go to bed!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A spring day fit for a senior citizen!

Yesterday was beautiful in Maryland! My car's thermometer registered 82 degrees so it was definitely time to blast Mom out of her chair. Here she is dressed and ready to go. Definitely not bad for a 94 (and 1/2 - it counts...) year old.

On this outing, I learned a few things:

1. Having company when taking a senior citizen out in a wheelchair makes the trip MUCH easier. Carina came along and served as our package toter. The three of us stopped in Olney for lunch, after riding the new Intercounty highway so that Mom could see the new road. This super highway cut our time to Olney easily in half as we arrived in about 15 minutes from the house!

Went over to Ritucci's and had some good lunch while sitting outside under an umbrella. Then headed over to the Home Place for a bit of shopping.

2. Soup is a very messy lunch to eat out for a senior citizen. Mom had a delicious potato and spring onion soup which she dearly loved but I think I'll just make a pot myownself the next time. Many napkins were used during this dining experience.

3. As we age, we tire much more easily. Of course, I'd already figured this one out but didn't really realize that it was exhausting for Mom just getting in and out of the car. So, we cut short our shopping spree after the Home Place and headed back to The Mansion where a very happy Gertie proceeded to nap for a few hours.

Our whole goal of this outing was to get more plants so that I could landscape the deck for viewing from Mom's chair. She loves watching the birds and flowers grow. I'm looking for a large potted palm tree for the corner, new pots of impatients and other flowering plants and possibly another bird feeder as she loves watching the birds. But, since Mom tired after the second stop, we headed back to the house and will save plant shopping for another day.

Here's a Squidoo article I wrote about setting a scene for a senior citizen (from their armchair).
Caring for the elderly: Birdwatching from a lazy boy recliner

4. Mom tans VERY easily! I was amazed to get her home and see that she has raccoon eyes already. I'll have to remember to find some good sunscreen for her for the future as I hope to get her out more with the nice weather.

5. Mom's mental faculties are much more 'on' when she's out. I think some of this is that she's bored just watching tv all day. Of course, we try to keep her engaged but it's almost impossible when the weather is cold and dreary.

It's rainy again today so no outing but Mom doesn't seem to mind - and neither does Matee as they've got a lap back for the day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In memory of darling Joe

It's been 4 years today that Dad left us. As with any death, in some ways, it feels like just yesterday and, in others, it seems like an eternity. Mom came to live with me the day after he died so life has moved on for me with barely a pause. Mom and I have had quite the journey - mostly a learning experience for both of us.

In the past 4 years though, my Mom has taught me about how to age with humor and grace (mostly!). Through our trials and tribulations, I've become quite the little (?) caregiver and she's become quite the little patient. We speak of Dad very frequently and, in some ways, it's like he's right there with us. We remember his humor, his warmth and his love. We remember how he delighted in my dog Killian; how he would sneak food to all of the dogs and then lie and say that he didn't do it - but his body language would always give him away as his shoulders started to shake when he tried to hold in his laughter.

I've been very blessed with the best parents of anyone I know. They raised their children the right way - we all made mistakes along the way and my folks were always there to lend their support. I think that one of their best parenting skills though was preparing us for life in general. They did this through example - they handled adversity with a grace rarely seen today. They also taught us that life is full of great joys and deep sorrows. They taught us that the key was to enjoy the joys, respect the sorrows, and keep moving along whichever path we chose.

So, in memory of my Dad, here's the eulogy that I wrote and delivered at his funeral. Actually, it's what I wrote on the plane heading out to Arizona the day he died. I spoke more from the heart than from the paper that day:

Thank you all for joining us today to celebrate the life of Joe Burdoo. I say celebrate as we spoke many times about the ultimate end of life. Dad didn’t want a pity party, he just wanted a party. Period! And, that’s what we’re going to try to do. 

This is singularly the hardest/easiest speech I’ve ever given – it’s hardest as the circumstances are obviously difficult. It’s easiest as I get to teach you about a passion of mine, my parents. This is not so much a eulogy as a celebration of love.

While Ronnie and I were flying to Arizona to meet up with Mom and Mike the day Dad died, I started jotting down memories we both had of Dad. We filled 17 pages before I stopped writing. How many people in your life can fill 17 pages without a conscious thought? And, I found that it was difficult to separate the ‘Joe’ from the ‘Gertie.’ You’ll hear me speak of both of them a lot during this eulogy and in life in general – that’s what Dad’s life was, A Joe and Gertie Story.

I call them my Twins. One tottled one way, the other tottled right after. One ate lunch, the other ate lunch. I’d ask Dad if he was ready to eat, he’s say ‘Yes,’ but Mom wouldn’t be ready so he would wait. He wouldn’t eat without her. They would share a can of coke – one can. He’d eat ½ a sandwich and pass the other half to her. They’d share one beer (Dad wasn’t allowed to have a whole can – he could drink vodka but wasn’t allowed beer!)

I’ll give you just a brief history of my Dad:

Dad was born in Kansas City, MO in 1917. He was the youngest son born to a family with 2 girls. Aunt Gertie was 9 years older, Aunt Molly 7. Dad told stories of Aunt Mollie pinching him awake as a baby as he had taken over her baby spot and was pretty good at it at that. She didn’t much care for the switch in positions. Aunt Gertie was a second mother to Dad and their bond was evident throughout her life. We lost her in 1976. She was an amazing woman who still holds a powerful influence in my life. Dad’s other sister, Aunt Mollie, died in 1990.

Dad met my Mom’s brother, Al, first. Al invited Dad on a hayride to be a date for his sister ‘with the good personality’ (that would be my dear Twin B). Mom and Dad hit it off although she reports that he didn’t kiss her for ages (he was shy). They dated for 5 years at which time Mom gave him the ultimatum and damned if he didn’t marry her!

Dad worked as a shoe salesman, in Kansas, to make ends meet. He started off at something like $12 a week. The company promoted him to manager but he was shipped off to fight in WW2 so had to decline the position.

WW2 found him starting off as a cook which has always interested me as he was no cook. He found himself then driving a tank (that one I got as that man could DRIVE!). He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped in freeing the Jews in a concentration camp in Germany. He wouldn’t talk of the war except to share one story about having to pee on his gun to keep it from freezing. We asked but he couldn’t talk about it.

After the war, he returned to Mom and baby Mike who wondered who that man was who was hugging his Mommy. Aunt Gertie and her husband had settled in DC so off he and family went. He and Mom ended up owning a grocery store in SE. Ron and my dear sister, Stephanie, were born during these years. Stephanie died suddenly in 1989 and Dad started to show us the wisdom of his years. He and Mom faced that trying time with grace, humor and a fierce need to stay connected to family and friends. He shared that passion thoughout his life. Dad was the original family man.

He owned a bunch of businesses: there was the Springhill Lake Hotel, Redskin Lounge with shady characters, Birdland, and finally, Town Hall which he bought in 1959.

He was very proud of Town Hall. He and Mom surrounded themselves with some colorful locals who repaid him by ‘having his back’ when needed. The locals loved him and my Mom. They still ask about my folks frequently. Town Hall has closed 4 times, willingly, since Dad’s owned it. It closed when his mother died, it closed when Aunt Gertie died and it closed when my sister died. It’s closed again today in respect for its founder.

Dad became quite a success and always shared his wealth with family, friends, and charities. He bought Mom a Desoto convertible for her birthday one year but she didn’t know how to drive so he gave her driving lessons to go along with it. He bought us a beach house on Kent Island where we stayed during the summers. He’d commute to Town Hall during the week and come down for the weekend. He bought into a condo in Florida with Aunt Gertie as she wanted a place there so we had a condo on the beach there. He and Mom drove down in our huge yellow Continental one time and came back in a yellow, convertible Triumph. He’d pretend like he was a mechanic and fix something on the engine only to find that he had a part left over. He’d look to see if anyone was watching and then throw it in the trunk with a grin…

When Aunt Gertie was ill in Florida one time, Dad and I decided to drive down as we’d get there quicker than the earliest flight the next day. Dad was driving through Georgia cresting a hill at 100 mph. I had just begged him to slow down but he was going to get to his sister if it killed us. Well, sure enough, he gets pulled over by a cop (who I secretly prayed for). The cop comes up to the car, takes Dad’s license and goes back to his car to run the check. Walks back over, and says to Dad ‘Are you the Joe Burdoo from Town Hall? I went to U of Md. I remember you.’ Dad got off with a warning. I was bummed.

Dad had triple bypass in 1981 when it was really a state of the art surgery. They told us that he’d have about 10 years left – he was only 64. He lived another 26 years. And, he LIVED those years.

My parents became free spirits after his heart surgery. They came out to Arizona to visit 4 of Mom’s siblings who had settled there after retirement. My brother Ron says that those Jews had finally found their desert. They came back to the house in Rockville to tell me that they bought a house in Sun City. I said ‘GREAT, when are we moving?’ They said ‘WE’ weren’t moving, they were. I consider that the first known case of the parent birds leaving the baby bird in the nest.

They started to travel. They took world tours with Aunt Gertie to visit relatives in Israel, went to Egypt, Russia with Mom’s brother Al. They were movers and shakers. They took the whole family and an extended group of friends on cruises to celebrate their 50th, 55th and 60th. Last year, we didn’t do an organized 65th cruise but Ron, Linda, Dan and I went on a cruise out of Baltimore with the folks and people still recognized him! We ended up sitting at a dinner table with one of his old bartenders. He was loved by many.

Dad always took care of those he loved. He cherished my sister and always made sure that she and her family had everything they needed. He doted on me. I had to be careful about saying that I liked something as I’d generally find it parked in my driveway shortly thereafter. I’m the grateful recipient of the pimpmobile – his old Lincoln which I love. He loved Mike and Ronnie and never stopped talking about his grandchildren.

Dan and I have had the extreme honor of hosting my folks during the summer when they come to live with us. I’ve had the unusual pleasure of being able to relate to my parents as adults – to have them teach me about growing old with grace and humor, to love and be loved, to surround oneself with happiness.
Dad really loved our cabin in West Virginia. He would eagerly get in the car and just enjoy the ride. That was pretty much his motto – enjoy the ride. Even when he was coated in dog hair, grungy from picking tomatoes in the garden, he enjoyed the ride. We’d stop and get an apple pie for the road – he loved his apple pies. We’d stop and get lunch on the way and eat in the car (generally with Barley drooling all over him – he’d just wipe it off and grin), just watching the sleepy town go by. Eventually, we’d wind our way to the cabin and he’d generally be found on the deck – under his hat, fast asleep. Cocktail hour was always fun up there. We’d have drinks and just sit around the table and talk. Night time would find us gazing up at the bats eating the moths. We’d watch that activity for hours as the sun set over the mountain.

Dad’s eyes last time I saw him, last month, were still young. Still vibrant blue, still interested in the cards he was dealt – literally, as we were in Laughlin just last month. The dealers loved him there. One of my favorite memories was just from that trip. I was at the craps table as is my wont and I heard Mom’s giggle across the casino. My first though was ‘uh oh, what are they into…’ I went over to the blackjack table where they were seated to find them laughing and whooping it up with 2 gentlemen from New Jersey. These gentlemen had just fallen in love with my parents. I mean, they were in LOVE! Mom and Dad embraced them right back – regaling them with tales of life in general. We played cards with those guys for 4 hours or so. They told me repeatedly how precious my folks were, how lucky I was to have them, how vibrant they were. Dad would gamble $100 a card on blackjack but grumbled about $2/lb tomatoes.

Dad’s trickled his gambling fever into every day life. Summers would frequently find Dan, me, Mom and Dad sitting on the balcony of our house gambling about what the next car to come down the street would be. Blue, red, driver’s window open, elbow out (that was a 20-1 shot) and damned if I didn’t constantly lose. We’d have frequent poker games in the dining room, sometimes just the 4 of us, sometimes other suckers would wander by. The end of the summer would usually find all of us light in cash except for Dad who almost always won.

Dad got a kick out of the constant flow of dogs through our house. We not only did rescue, but we served as an informal dog park to our friends and their canine buddies too. Dad was always worried that one or two would stay. We have 3 dogs – all of whom drool when they see the folks. Killian, our aussie, was the most attached as Dad would sneak him food. I’d tell Dad not to do that, he’s promise me he wouldn’t, and, the very meal, there was Killian, gazing adoringly at Joe again, eating something my Twin A had sneaked to him. Dad’s whole body would rock with laughter when I’d catch him doing it again, and again, and again.

I put my Twins on a plane last December to come back to Arizona for the winter and knew I should have ridden along. But, it was a non-stop, I felt the risks were small and Mike would be collecting them on the other end. Well, Mom called me from Chicago (CHICAGO !) to tell me that they had to have an emergency landing as a gentleman got sick on board. When the plane landed, the pilot’s seat broke so they were stranded in Chicago for about 8 hours. Of course, I was in a total panic as my twins were on their own – but not for long. The stewardess who had been serving them called me to tell me how delightful they were – how she was going to get them lunch and drinks and would check on them every 30 minutes. She arranged for my cousin and her husband to get through security to sit with them. She called me once to tell me that she wished the younger passengers would take a cue from my folks as they were just taking the journey in stride. That’s my parent’s secret – it’s the journey, not the destination that matters. Life is all about the journey.

I called the hospital last week and was lucky enough to talk to the nurse taking care of Dad. He told me that Dad was the nicest, easiest patient he’d ever cared for in his 17 years experience. I heard these types of comments all the time – how wonderful my parents are. Luckily, I don’t believe we’ve ever taken the folks for granted. Just looking around, we can see how lucky we all are. We’ve always told them we loved them – they were not in doubt of our adoration.

I remember one time, I was in Arizona lying in the back bedroom about to go to bed. Dad was watching the news on the big tv in the living room, Mom went into their bedroom to watch another channel. I heard them arguing briefly and thought ‘wow, a heated argument! Better listen in!’ I hardly ever heard them bicker. This ‘argument’ though was amazing to hear. Dad had turned off the tv in the living room and gone into the bedroom where Mom switched channels to what he had been watching. He was arguing with her about her turning the channel to what he wanted to see! He said that she should watch what she wanted, she said she didn’t care, they’d watch what he wanted. They were arguing about who was the less selfish. That was the story of their life – he thought about her first and foremost, and, in turn, she thought about him first. That was one secret to their 65 1/2 year happy marriage.

The fact that we were lucky to have Dad and Mom has never been lost on me, or Ron, or Mike, or the married-ins. We’ve had an incredible streak of luck, we’ve had parents who love and totally cherish us, we’ve had parents who allowed us to make our own decisions and sometimes fail, parents who supported us through heartbreak, parents who loved us unconditionally. We’ve had the parents that others dream of and, in fact, most of my friends have asked to be adopted – some of them pretty much have been. Dad has shared his wisdom with many of my friends and they mostly have listened.

Dad came home to Maryland only once alone – he never did it again – to visit his parent’s graves, my sister’s grave, and his sister’s grave before the Jewish holidays. He left his bride back in Arizona so she didn’t have to make the hard trip. Although he was coming home to a home he shared with Dan and me and Mom, he was lost without her – it was obvious in his twice daily phone calls back to Arizona to tell her he loved her. I drove him around to the graves and, when taking him to the airport the next day, he asked me to stop so he could get some flowers to take home to Mom. He’d been gone 2 days but wanted to bring her flowers. He couldn’t wait to see her.

Dad kissed his bride every morning and every evening he was able for 65 ½ years – their signature line with the kiss was ‘good morning, sweetheart’ or ‘good night, sweetheart.’ I witnessed him getting out of his bed one night because he had forgotten to kiss her and wanted that last kiss for the night.  It was a thing of joy to see him excited to see her, every single morning.

I walked in on them one time when they were sitting on his bed, holding hands with their backs to the door. I was interested to find out what they were doing. Dad said, just talking. I said, about WHAT? He said, just talking about our day. That’s what they were doing. Just talking. Even though they had spent every single minute of the day together – they were just talking.

I walked in another time when they were sitting on the bed with their hands in fists and grins on their faces – they’d been caught doing something but I didn’t know what my Twins had been into. I told them that they were caught so they might as well fess up. They opened their hands to show me treasure troves of jelly beans in each fist. They’d bought 4 lbs. of jelly beans at Costco, hid them in their bedroom and had been feasting on them nightly before bed. Those are my Twins.

We’ve had the best and we know it. We still have the best. We still have a very strong mother, we still have a very strong father who, although not with us in body any longer, is still a guiding force. A father who taught us how to live, and how to die, with dignity all the way.

Sadly, Dad didn’t get to see his newest grandchildren, Nora Grace or Lane, but I see him every time I look at them. Dear Nora Grace has his crystal blue eyes and his nose. She’ll be surrounded with stories and will grow up knowing her Zaide even though he’s physically not with us any longer. With any luck, she’ll have his grace and love of life also, and, with some guidance, she’ll also learn the secret of a long, happy life. That’s my wish for all of us. Take a lesson from my dear Mom and Dad. Live and love the journey. Die happy and you’ve won. Dad has had his final big win.

My father lived 89 ½ glorious years. He got sick, went to the hospital and died. I consider that a success. That was a success.

Thank you all for coming to celebrate the life of our delightful father, the love of my mother’s life, and our very dear friend. We’ll miss him terribly but we’ll carry on his passion for life. We’ll give it our best shot.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A successful outing!

Finally! A break in the weather meant an 80 degree day and a chance to blast Gert out of her chair so that's exactly what I did. Under protest anyway, Mom finally gave into a pedicure (what girl wouldn't?) so off we tottled to Damascus to Serenity Day Spa where Lily gives great mani and pedi. Gizmo came along for the ride - she's such a great dog. Just content to sit in Mom's lap.

Lily, the manicurist extraordinaire loves Mom and me and couldn't be more accommodating in helping me get her into the chair, etc. She's really a great woman. If you're in the area and need your nails serviced, that's the place to go. It's right on the main drag and in the same little shopping center as Tom and Ray's Diner.

Here's a few articles I've written about manicures, etc:
Top 5 reasons to get a CND Shellac Hybrid Nail Polish Manicure
Inventive ways to fix a broken nail without a file
Top 5 things to look for in a good nail technician

And, for those dog lovers out there, the Top 5 dog nail grooming tips.

Ok, enough self-promotions, for the moment at least.

After nails, I talked Gert into a trip to the Home Place up in Mt. Airy but, not before a quick stop at Jimmy Cone for a cup of vanilla ice cream that she shared with Gizmo (to be honest, Gizzy only got to lick the bowl - Gert took care of the rest). Jimmy Cone is definitely the best ice cream to be had in the continental US. Luckily, they had just opened for the season so Gert got her first fix.

The Home Place netted us a bunch of stuff we weren't looking for. I started off looking for king size sheets for my new temperpedic bed but ended up with a bird house, a grill brush, jordan almonds for mom, a jar of seasoning, peach apricot jelly for Mom, and a dog collar for Rita. See how this goes? So, I'm still looking for a few very nice sets of sheets. My bed is being delivered the beginning of May and I can't wait. No one should sleep in a queen when a king is available!

Dropped Mom back off at the house where Kelly took over and then John and I headed over to La Mex to soak up a few rays of sunshine on the patio. Good friend Jeff dropped in for a quick beer and to sit a spell. John got himself a new toy - the latest iPhone so, of course, we had to play with the double cameras. The shots following were all taken with his phone. He's such a Mac boy! I, on the other hand, did not pay for the new iPhone - instead, John's giving me his iPad touch which is basically the iPhone without the phone (I refuse to give up my blackberry).

All in all, a great day was had.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What's that you say - TV EARS?????

Wowee! Anyone who is caring for a senior citizen - listen up!

Ron and Linda walked in the other night with these things call TV Ears and, OMG, I'm in love. Mom, on the other hand, was less than amused and downright surly about them. But, WTH, sometimes, it has to be about ME.

So, these things go in your ears and the TV is amplified through the earpieces. This means (get this!), I have the TV on mute (right now!) and Mom can hear it loud and clear. No more bone jarring newscasts that I can hear from the front yard. Now, easier said than done though as Mom is not sold yet. We're weaning her into them.

I've discovered long ago that Mom will do anything in the world for me - as long as it's for ME. So, I'm using that to my full advantage (I'm sure God will forgive me one day).

How this works is that I told her that my doctor said my hearing was suffering because the TV was so loud. She needed to wear the TV Ears so I could mute the TV and it would be quiet for just 30 minutes. Worked like a charm. The house hasn't been this quiet since April 6, 2004 - the day before Dad died and Mom came to live with me full time. Gosh, it's almost been 4 years. In some ways it's hard to imagine it's been that long and in some ways, it seems like she's always been here.

Below pic is a happy Gertie eating oatmeal with maple syrup, brown sugar and butter. Toast and apple butter. She always manages to keep a piece of something that can be divided 6 ways for the dogs. Actually, today, we have 7 dogs running around here as Barley is back and Kelly's chihuahua Marley is here too. John and I are taking off!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wow!THIS was My Bad....

Yes, that clock says 3:45 and that would be AM!

Couldn't understand for the life of me why mom has been up and down all night. Lately, since I told her that my doctor said she had to keep her oxygen in all night so I could sleep, she's been better about staying in bed. But, not this morning....

I've heard my personal 'rolling thunder' starting up just after 1 am. So, up I go to explain to her that it's 1 am and this is just not an acceptable time for coffee. She's confused so I just gently put her back to bed.

At 1:45 am, I hear my personal 'rolling thunder' starting up. So, up I go to explain to her that's it's exactly 45 minutes after the last time she was up and it's STILL not an acceptable time for coffee. She's confused so I lead her back to bed.

At 2:15 am, I hear my personal 'rolling thunder' starting up. So, I run into her bedroom and exclaim 'WHAT are you doing? It's 2:15 am and it's STILL not an acceptable time for coffee. She's confused so I tell her to go back to bed.

At 3:45am, I hear my personal 'rolling thunder' AGAN! - WTF??? I go flying in her room, she's got her robe on with her right arm where the left arm should be. She's got her socks on, and she's ready to roll. So, this time, I'm not quite as gentle before and am almost pulling my hair out when I happen to look at her bedside stand - there's her sleeping pill and tylenol that I forgot to give her before putting her to bed.

This caregiver needs some care....