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Taking Care of Mom

22 Nov

Slowly my mother has slipped into a type of dementia that is not named, but seems to be a sort of twilight of her former self. A lot of the behaviors are there, she even sounds like herself, yet much of the time the reasoning, the immediate recognition, awareness, and the short term memory is not there. She remembers the past, in fits and starts, yet often can not verbalize what she is thinking. It really doesn’t frustrate her or make her angry any more, however the anxiety she battled all her life is still present. (Warning, one ought to deal with ones ‘demons’, or they may just be what rules one in one’s old age.) When this started happening, we have no idea. Why it happened? We don’t know. It could be the chemotherapy she went through in her mid – sixties, it could be the result of diet and nutrient loss (B12 and V D are big players here), it could be the result of Anxiety Disorder, it could be the mini – strokes we suspect she may have had/ could still be having… That all can add up to an altered state. She hides things well and always has, she never liked feeling loss of control, and did not want to deal with the painful past. I can not blame her yet I feel she could have been different now had some things been different. I don’t know, and can’t know either. At this stage, I just have to take the lessons and apply them to my own life, and then, accept. Accept who she is now, and take it from there….

And so one Tuesday night she and I spent time together while my father was at a meeting. We took a walk and admired the fall flora and fauna (pictures on my Instagram account). We made and ate dinner ( I had to cajole her to eat her brussels sprouts, a true roll reversal if there ever was one.). Then we had a killer game of Connect Four, with rules revised on the spot by me. It took an hour, and lots of reminders, but it kept her busy and out of mischief, and was a fantastic idea I’m still not convinced was my own (it came to me while driving on an errand). Then to wrap it all up I offered her the choice of television or music – I had brought my violin. She chose the violin, so I played her a selection of fiddle tunes ~old time, bluegrass, Irish… and she applauded. Mistakes and tuning up were seen as lovely, so it freed me to just play without concern or worry, a small gift of an appreciative non – judgmental audience.

This has been a mighty adjustment on my part, and it still requires a lot of time spent in prayerful musings, letting go and analysis of the past. Many realizations have come to light due to my work to help them clear some of the many, many things my parents, especially my mother, collected, held on to, saved, as well as encountering some less known items. Nothing dire, yet still surprising, and it all changes the knowledge one holds, which in turn means one has to think things though, readjust the so called ‘truths’ one has held regarding one’s parents.

It’s difficult for me to sometimes go to my parents house, and being asked to stay when my father leaves town is doubly difficult. In part, it is because of who he is and how he delivers that desire (or need), but it is also the awareness that this is a fading, an ending. Really we have no control over the ending any more than we’ve ever had control, such an illusion in life that we have any semblance of control! This is how it ought to be. I’m the caretaker now, filling in where a parent might. That is the unsettling part, the bit that makes me drag my feet thought I know I must put much aside to do that, because even though my mother isn’t who she was, she is who she is, she is my mother.


About that Green Thing…

7 May

Being green is what a frog does, or a lawn, or a shamrock, or even beer on St. Patrick’s Day, but alas, it has also become the code word for “into saving the planet by reducing use of resources in daily choices”. My first thoughts were, Please give me a break, I grew up doing all of this, it was (and is) just common sense! Then I thought it was funny, and now I am just really tired of it all since most “Green” people seem to be a really pale shade of green, say, by buying green cleaning products, shleping them home in a green sack and then using paper towels to clean up spills. (personally, I have used and reused cloth for years on just about anything and I am here to testify that yes, we have stayed healthy!)

You see, I grew up in a one wage earner family where mom made clothing, used a clothes line, and vacations often meant visiting people. Simple stuff. We ate whole foods too, as in, roast chicken. Then you take the left overs and make sandwiches or soup or… My mom was (is) big into lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and so on. Her ingenious way of using up left-overs was to make what she called goulash. It involved some leftover meat(s), noodles, sour cream (or not), tomatoes (or not) and so on. It actually tasted pretty good too. So when it comes to using a laundry line, I am following the examples set before me!

When my dry broke the other day it got me thinking about all the things my mom, my aunts and Grandma Vodvick taught me about living frugally, er excuse me, Green. Laundry was one of them…the sun is a great dryer and whitener. It can take stains out with a little help from a lemon (and now oxyclean), and it helps create fresh smelling clothing with the help of the air around us. It is also green aka free and easy to use (well, unless its winter, and then I have (really) strung lines in the garage and house.). Believe me, with a family of five, 3 of them male, we really used that 5 line pull out a lot! So when I see articles on how to save money in these tough economic times, or how to be more Green, I roll my eyes and shrug. What is old is new again, I guess. It is good that a whole new group of folks are being introduced to an old way of taking care of things in a low impact way on both our enviroment and ourselves. I just wish they would not feel the need to make it so pc, so code worded, so silly.

God gave us much on this earth to use wisely for our lives, for others, for ourselves. To be a good steward is to try to do that when we can, but to also realize He gave someone the idea for a dryer so that is a great thing too! When buying one we can look for the best use of materials and the least use of energy. Perhaps buying a clothes line at the same time for those times the wonderful invention fails isn’t a bad idea either, actually, a really frugal idea! Just keep it away from the creative ones in the family! I should know….

Belated Merry Christmas and A very Happy New Year!

17 Jan

Hello all, so sorry to be so late with the good wishes…typical for me I guess. Today I sent out all of our thank yous for this year, and last year, and prior years. You see, it was good for my dk to write the thank yous mom requested, who of course then set them aside to send out some time…when the moon was in the perfect quarter and Martha S. came over to help do envelopes in Spencerian Script. Haha. (and don’t get your knickers knotted. I like MS too…it was just fun to say that! )

So, the TY’s are gone! And now I need to really get the rest of the Christmas cards out before Candlemas…February 2nd I believe…(I feel bad though, the tree is usually down by the 6th, Epiphany, but It Is Still UP. geesh. Even my dd has her tree down…never mind that she locked herself out in the process… but she even has it together!)

However here is my contribution to your seasons greetings-Wishing you blessings in the new year, may 2008 be good to you and yours and the grace and peace of Christmas be with you all.

~Helen and Family.

In November we experienced…

18 Jan

the death of my husband’s father, Joseph Russo. It was so unexpected because he was in good health, however he was old and has been moved many times, from care home to convalescent hospital…not good for someone who is older and very routine oriented. I won’t go into the long story here, suffice to say he is missed, and I certainly will try to avoid the same thing for both my parents and someday myself (or my husband!).

At any rate, we had an influx of family as my husbands brothers and nephew came down right away, (and we were happy to be able to house them) and they were followed by the rest of the
CREW (as in sisters-in-law, cousins, grand cousins….or great nieces to Angelo and I-they’re just the cutest :). I think I counted sixteen at one point! Even though the days were melancholy, it was still good to connect and talk…I enjoyed the early morning coffee and conversation with my b-i-ls, and it is too bad that Angelo had to work. We all gathered for big family style dinners in the evening, with a spaghettie feed on the night of the funeral-which was in a way a toast to “Papa Joe” or “Dad”.

The day of the funeral was strange, somewhat surreal, and that feeling lasted until we all decided to grab lunch and head for Carmel-by-the-Sea (40 min. away, the town I grew up in.).

The weather that week had been awesome, warm and balmy for November. Friday was a gift, perhaps from Joe. The beach was beautiful, and surprise, we saw four dolphins trolling along the waves, just behind the breakers! What a gift. As was the time spent with family including my daughter and sons, and my lovely nieces and their daughters! All the boy cousins seemed to enjoy the time, even though one briefly suffered a cold!

I have included some photos of the day-I have no idea who the girl in the waves is, but the nieces are “K’ and “V” however nicknames abound!

My very first post, has to be a quick one…

27 Nov

because I had better jump through the shower and get to work! ACK. This is great fun, but a huge time eater. Oh, well. I have a photo of my fridge front to show what I mean by Montage…My life is layers of different things and my days are pretty much like that as well! I wish I had more time to devote to art and calligraphy, to baking and sewing. However the boys need schooling and I need to work to pay the bills. You have no idea how much teenagers can eat!
The boys, Michael and Patrick, went to Portland, Oregon (on the train!) to see their cousins and aunts and uncles and the fridge stayed static. It was very quiet here as well. I think the cat was bored with no one to chase her or harass her! We were even on time for church, not having to round up sleepy heads. (Christina and Zach were very timely, having to leave early to find gas, and the boys went with Greg and Lois to the service at their Greek Orthodox church, a very peaceful place).
Christina went to Portland too, on a plane, and had a blast staying with Cousin Katy and family. They drank pots of coffee, went shopping, played with Vassie (my darling Grand-niece :), made pie, and celebrated Thanksgiving at Lois and Greg’s. We need to go next year-I kind of felt, well, left out. I am so glad they all had a great time though. (The boys watched football, played football, ate, went to the Army Surplus store, played Settler and several other intense games (as did Christina), ate, went to the service, slept…I think they had a fine ol’ time!) Then Christina and her boyfriend, Zach (short for Zachariah) came down and we had a late T-giving dinner at my parents. My mom, Angelo (my DH), Christina and Zach played an intense game of Canasta while my Dad and I cleaned up the scrumptious dinner.
So Sunday evening was quiet and I tried to work through my papers, bills, mess, photos, etc. The table is covered! Sigh. And it all has to get cleaned up before dinner! I am taking the afternoon off, I think and cleaning that mess up. I have a list of errands too…
Well, there it is -my first post. What do you think?
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