Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas to everyone... hope you enjoyed as much as the kids did.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Roller skating

I took the kids to a local roller skating rink to have them learn how to skate. They went to a friend's birthday party a little over a month ago at the rink and they loved it - even though they fell more than they skated...

It looks like the one lesson they had worked well for Kenzie - she was "skating" around the rink and not falling (much). She can't quite pick the feet up yet, but she does the in-and-out movement with her feet and she moves forward the whole time. She had a smile on her face the whole time she was there.

Richelle on the other hand, was more interested in the games and vending machines. Can we say, distracted by shiny objects?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Someone wants to be like me

She's my mini-me, only a whole lot better looking.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Catching up

I haven't blogged in awhile... I've been busy with preparations for the court date for my having filed for guardianship of mom.

The court date was December 1, and we were not expecting any problems at that time. But when we got there, my brother Bill (the youngest in the family) was there with his wife. Bill was dressed like a pimp... Grey patent leather shoes, pin-striped suit, and the pimp fedora. OHhhhhh, Yeahhhh!

The judge happened to be one that had had dealings with Bill previously (I believe he was the judge in the foreclosure proceedings against Bill - he'd lost his house back in 2007). Bill told the court that he'd just gotten hold of his lawyer that morning, and said his lawyer told Bill to ask for a continuance. The judge asked who his lawyer was and then tried to get hold of the lawyer to check on Bill's story, and only got an answering machine. (Sounds like a one man show to me.)

The judge asked if there was any reason to stop the proceedings at that point, but my lawyer asked that the witnesses be allowed to testify at that time. We started with our witnesses, and the minute one of them stated something Bill didn't like, he made an audible gasp as though he had just caught her in a lie (Oh, the drama of it all!) and the judge came down on him and told him that this was not an informal setting, and that he was to purport himself in a manner appropriate to the court proceedings.

This isn't one of the TV versions of small claims court. This was a genuine court proceeding and loud noises are out of order.

Each witness testified that I had been the one who was caring for mother all those years that she needed help. Bill questioned one witness about whether she remembered how Bill used to go to her house and mow her lawn and help her around the house. She said yes. I whispered to my lawyer that she should ask how much he charged to mow her lawn. She did, and the witness stated that mom had told her Bill was charging her $50 each time he did it. Yeah, he such a great son. Bill never did anything for mom without having a dollar sign attached to it.

Then I got up on the stand. I was asked several questions by my attorney... and then Bill asked some questions. He brought up the time when I filed for a protective order. Neither my lawyer nor the judge stopped the questioning, so I answered that yes, I had filed for a protective order against Richard. I explained why as well.... Richard's apparent instability, prior history, and that I had a child to protect against any possibility that he might try to harm me, and in doing so, would possibly harm my daughter.

I also told Bill that the date for either him or Richard to have said anything about either me or mom lying about what Richard had said, which lead up to my filing for the order of protection, was the court date back in 2006. They could have come then and plead their side of the case at that time. I hate to tell them, but the "Liar Liar Pants on Fire" charges at this time are not appropriate for these proceedings and have nothing to do with guardianship for mother.

Bill was given a chance to voice anything he wanted to after that. He yammered on for a while. The judge asked him if he had any objection to my being mom's guardian... to which he stuttered and talked incoherently, and then said, "I don't care. Make her guardian." I'm sure Richard would have had a hissy fit if he could have heard Bill say that.

Then he began to yammer on some more, rambling on about things that I was not given a chance to answer (and there was a logical explanation for everything he brought up) but I really didn't want to get into the He said/She said scenario - it would just show a lack of maturity. If my attorney or the judge want to ask about anything, I'll answer it. Otherwise, I'm staying out of the pettiness.

I will say I know in my gut it was Richard who told Bill to show up and contest it. I'm looking forward to the next court date. In the meantime, the judge granted me temporary guardianship. I'm busy preparing a six month listing of her income and expenses, so the judge can see I am capable of doing what it takes for the court's requirements. I'd also like to have an inventory of her property and its value ready for the judge by the next court date. Might as well get as much of that done as soon as possible.

Wish me luck. I honestly think I should be writing a book and trying to sell rights to the story for a TV movie. But usually, someone has to be killed or injured horribly in order to qualify for that... and I'm not wishing that on anyone. Especially not my daughters.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thank you, God, for all that you have blessed me with.

I have been a royal shit for most of my life (ok, ok - I'm still a royal shit...) so I know that all You have given me is out of Your love and forgiveness of my errors, mistakes and waywardness.

You blessed me with a husband that has loved me and forgiven me all my shenanigans - and they have been many. He has stood by me throughout the years, and is my steadfast partner and love.

Most of all, You blessed us both with two children who have made our lives complete, giving us a purpose and filling us with love... the joy You have given us is immeasurable.


We brought my mother home to have Thanksgiving with us. I am grateful we have had another year with mom. Having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I wonder how fast it will progress, so any time we have with her that she knows what is going on or doesn't have any confusion, that's precious to me and the kids. They were so excited to have their Memaw at our home, they nearly drove her nuts showing her stuff and talking to her...

Thanks be to God for our being able to have her with us.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raking leaves

The kids got a big kick out of raking leaves with their daddy. Kenzie always takes this so seriously, and to be honest, she does a great job!!!! She raked up two huge piles of leaves that we put on a blanket and took to the front of the yard so the city can pick them up.

As you can see, she is my serious one. She worked real hard

Now, what is it about the following pics that have me thinking Richelle would be really good at martial arts? Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Kenzie

Today is my sweet and happy little girl's 7th birthday. We'd had a birthday party for her last weekend, and she had a lot of friends show up. She was thrilled to see all of the kids who came. I don't know if it made her feel special because she had a lot of friends there, or because she got a lot of gifts.

It's hard to imagine that she's 7. Time has definitely moved quickly - and today has been a reminder to me to cherish each and every moment. I was watching her as she brushed her hair... and I imagined I could see in her the woman she will one day become. It makes my heart ache that I'm not younger and won't be able to see more of her life as she grows. A bittersweet thing - to be the mother to our beautiful girl, to raise her in my "old age". When most people are getting visits from their grandchildren, I'm just trying to get them to brush their teeth and eat their veggies - I don't get the pleasure of spoiling them.

I just keep counting the blessings I have... and my children are my greatest blessings.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Year Ago...

On November 10, 2008, it was a chilly but very sunny day when we went to the Civil Affairs Bureau to meet our second daughter for the first time. We didn't know what to expect - the pictures we had been sent showed a child not smiling, with a firm mouth and chubby cheeks, looking rather chunky in her sweats. She looked as though she was defiant and stubborn... but looks can be deceiving.

We got to the CAB early, and was talking with the CAB director, Ms. Meng, going over some paperwork, when we heard some noise coming from downstairs. We were told by our guide, Lynn, "They are here with your child."

Nerves... what were we going to encounter? One always imagines the worst - a child that will fight or refuse to go or scream her head off... and we were truly glad we had brought Kenzie. Being a Chinese child herself and our daughter, we felt she would be a calming effect on our little Jia-Jia.

In walked the director, the main caregiver, and our daughter.
She took our breath away - she was really a beautiful and healthy looking little girl, with her hair done up so her face was shining. I was first struck by her large eyes and her full, pouty mouth. She looked around in confusion, holding on to the doll we had given her, not quite understanding what was going on. They introduced her to her Baba first, getting her to hug him, then to Mama (I gave her a little kiss), and then to her jie-jie. Her caregiver and the director of the CAB were encouraging her to interact with us and praising us as good people and how lucky she was. There was such a flurry of activity, and then I was told she asked to go pee pee (niao-niao). I went with her and Lynn and the director of the CAB to one of the squat potties, while the director of her orphanage and her caregiver tried to sneak away. But too late, because they were just walking down the hall as Jia-Jia got back to the room, and she saw them leaving her.

We got our coats on and picked up all the stuff, walked downstairs and outside to the waiting van. Once in the van (Jia-Jia got in first, Kenzie sat by her, and then I sat by Kenzie, with Lynn and Roy behind us) we began to drive away. I watched her as she began to cry, choking back huge sobs and wiping her eyes. I know she was confused and scared... who wouldn't have been? I had a feeling she really didn't understand what having a family - a mom, a dad, and a sister - would mean to her. I handed her a tissue for her, and Lynn asked if she was hungry (it was close to lunchtime). She said yes, so Lynn asked if she wanted noodles or dumplings. True to her nature, she chose jiao zi (dumplings). Glad she did!

We went to a restaurant, and once sitting down and realizing she was going to be eating, her whole demeanor changed... she was happy. However, she took the eating utensils and began banging on all the plates and glassware... Lynn found out she'd never been in a restaurant before, and said she was behaving really well. I suppose there are some children who won't sit in the chairs, or yell, scream or throw fits. Jia-Jia sat there, smiling, while making lots of noise with the plates and bowls... looking happier with every loud clank.

We got back to the hotel room and she began "exploring". She first discovered we had two rooms that were adjoining. Our good friend (and lifesaver) Deb had opened her door to our room, and Jia-Jia had great fun running back and forth between the rooms. Then she discovered the lights... there was a panel of switches over the two full size beds that had been pushed together, which controlled most of the lights in the rooms. Next it was the TV, and the remote control. She began pushing every button she could to figure out how to work it. Next, she began to look through her suitcase we had for her, and through her back pack full of stuff just for her.

Roy and I looked at each other and, wide-eyed, gave each other the knowing look of "what did we get ourselves into?" We were used to Kenzie, who was calm and easygoing. This child was shot out of a cannon and it was as if she had not been allowed to ever discover what her world was all about. And now that she had a little freedom, she was exercising her curiosity to the fullest extent possible. We could see she was very bright - she didn't just turn lights off and on for the heck of it, she was actually figuring out which switch was turning which light on. She was figuring out which button would get her to the stations she wanted to watch. Still, it was confusing for us to know when and where we should begin setting limits without squelching her inquisitive nature or making her fear us.

When Roy had to leave the room, she got very upset. I blew up a couple of balloons, and we went out into the hallway to play with them, which kept her entertained. Here was a child who loved to play and discover... two traits that would serve her well as she began to learn what her new life was to be about.

She quickly learned that first day some English. The first was "NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!" which she would repeat after doing something naughty and then laugh at us. And the others were Bye-bye and Thank you. We thought she was learning to say pee-pee, but figured out that she was saying pi-pi as in pigu (meaning butt - which made her smile and laugh all the more when I'd say it.)

We went to supper that evening, and she learned yet another phrase: "C'mon." Of course, she began her banging routine, which I began to tell her "Give to Mama" and to take it from her. She began giving me her plates and bowls, which I held on to until she needed them.

That first night, she got into her new pajamas, got into bed, and with telling her "Shui Jiao" she went to sleep without much trouble.

The next morning, we went up to the dining area where breakfast was served, and did our best to get her foods she would eat. She was a very picky eater, but loved the yogurt - we let her get her fill of that.

Then it was off to the CAB one last time. November 11, 2008 - Adoption Day.

I think anyone who adopts probably at some point asks themselves, "Is this the right thing to do? Are we making a mistake? Are we the best parents for this child? Are we biting off more than we can chew? Is everything going to work out?" There is always the second guessing with me. But, in looking at Jia-Jia and her enthusiasm for life, I knew that if we didn't adopt her, we would find something missing in our lives - and we would for the rest of our lives regret not having her to love. We had to believe that we would be able to handle whatever came our way - and that God wanted us to be with this child.

The adoption process was all handled in one room, with the director of the CAB taking care of most of the process, having us sign documents and putting our thumbprints on the paperwork. Even Jia-Jia got to put her hand on the red ink and put her hand print on the paperwork as well. However, I noticed that she was very subdued around the caregiver. She spoke only when spoken to. We had so little time to actually get to know the caregiver or the director of the orphanage, but we were told by the CAB director that when we return to China, we will be given permission to go to Jia-Jia's orphanage and visit. I have to say that Ms. Meng was a very nice and caring woman - who seemed to really care about the fate of the children who were being adopted.

Once it was all done, she was ours. Ours. This bundle of energy, this spitfire, this little rocket full of explosive curiosity and a mind that was ready to drink in all the world around her.

I look back today and remember that crazy first few days, and the following months of her adjustment, and even our adjustment to her... it was a two way street that had some near head-ons, but somehow, we navigated through it and she grew calmer. Although I will still say she has some habits that are lingering (such as touching everything in sight or talking incessantly without a breath in between sentences) but I wouldn't trade our precious little girl for anything.

Older child adoption has many surprises in store for parents. Some surprises are delightful, others makes you cry for the lost years you never got to spend with him/her, wishing you could have been the one to make the difference between behaviors learned due to neglect or as a survival skill and behaviors that would better suit them to their new environment and life. At other times, you cheer him/her on as the daughter or son you have accepted as your very own meets milestones you knew they were capable of achieving. And although you may miss much of the developmental years, you will also gain much more in the love you will receive in just being there and loving them for who they are.

God has blessed us twice. And we do know how lucky we are to be in this position of parenthood. Both daughters are doing well, and thriving - and our lives have a purpose. Roy and I were talking the other night, and he asked, "Could you ever imagine not having our daughters, going back to just us?"

And I told him, "No, it would break my heart. I would die of the loneliness - and the void would be unbearable to me."

If you're looking for the meaning of life - just look in your child's eyes. You will find it there.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bill's "visit" to mom

Nothing like filing for guardianship of your mother to bring the family "together". Evidently, my youngest brother, Bill, came to see mom last week.

The staff didn't know who he was until he came in and saw mom sitting with the group up front. He went to her and sat down and started talking to her - during the time that the group was having a discussion. I had gotten a call from the nurse and she told me he was there.... and I asked that they just not let him go back to her room or to let him take her out of the building.

Evidently, the manager of mom's facility stood near mom, rubbing her back for support, because mom appeared to be a little confused and upset. Bill was telling mom that he had been looking for her everywhere. Mom asked him how he found her, and Bill said that Richard told him.

Interesting, because the prior week, the lawyers told me that Bill had been the one to sign the return receipt for the court papers, but Richard had not. Maybe Richard finally signed - but the court papers say where mom is living, so Bill would have had the information all along.

He kept talking to mom while the group was having a discussion, telling her that he had changed his ways, that he had quit drinking and was going to church, expounding on his change to a better person. he was saying all this while the group was trying to have a talk. The events director asked that he move the conversation to the dining room so he wouldn't interrupt the group. Bill told mom she should show him her room. That's when the manager stepped in and said that he would not be going to her room, that he could keep the conversation and visit up front where she could observe.

They sat in the dining room and Bill began telling mom that I had filed for guardianship (which I had already told her earlier - not that she would remember) and that he wanted her to go to court with him. Bill doesn't understand that the lawyer I hired is actually representing mom. But Bill wanted her to go with him to fight the guardianship.

Mom began to get upset and said, "I'm so torn, I don't know what to do." Mom is incapable of handling any confrontation or situation anymore. She can't make decisions or handle much adversity in her life... and to treat her like this shows that Bill still doesn't understand what is happening with mom. The manager at this point took Bill aside and told him he shouldn't be talking about that to mom, that he was upsetting her and it had no place there. She told him that he can enjoy his visit with her, but he wasn't to talk about going to court and he wasn't to upset her.

Bill asked who was in charge, and the manager told him she was. He then asked her to help him get mom into court! He has a lot of chutzpah asking her to do that! Thank God the manager is a strong woman. She told him that she wasn't going to help him do anything, that she had no intentions of helping him get mom into court and that she was there to protect mom. He could keep the visits light and friendly or he would be escorted out, and if he refused to go, she would get backup. We all know what "backup" means... and I hope Bill understands it as well.

I had talked with the manager about the visit (and the above was related to me by her). She said he had on olive green pants and a tan shirt, and she said it looked like he had bought it and put it on right out of the package. At least he made an attempt to look nice when he went to see mom. She said he was large in the middle, looking sort of like an overweight Bruce Willis.

I find it amazing that after over 2.5 years of no contact with mom, he now has found religion and cleaned up his life. Tell me Bill, did you find religion before or after you called mom collect on August 28 from a local phone number that wouldn't have been long distance if you had just dialed from the person's residence, and mom basically told you if you were in trouble or in jail you could just bail yourself out because she wasn't giving you any more money? Or was it before or after you got notice I was filing for guardianship?

It all sounds so fishy to me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween is the kids' favorite holiday

Last Wednesday, the kids got to carve pumpkins at our friends' Deb & Pet's house. That was a new experience for Richelle, too. At first, she was quite surprised at the feel of the gooey, slimey insides... but she acclimated quickly - to her, it was just another fun thing to do. They created their own designs, and they came out real cute.

Kenzie's Richelle's

Needless to say, Richelle got a taste of an American cultural holiday that is right up her alley - especially because she gets to dress up and then be given candy in return for going door to door. Last night, the kids went at it hot and heavy for quite some time... and the cutest thing is, although Kenzie would say thank you when given candy, Richelle threw in an extra Happy Halloween with her thank you's! It was too cute.

The night before, we got the kids dressed up for Roy's workplace Halloween party for the kids and their parents... it is for the staff and students. It was so crowded, we had a hard time doing anything easily. And the kids wanted to go through the haunted house portion - around the first corner, a guy jumped out and said boo - and Kenzie was a puddle of tears. Richelle jumped, but laughed it off. Talk about two different personalities. But Richelle did hold a little tighter to my hand...

After the haunted house, Kenzie was having trouble enjoying herself... and it shows in most of her photos... until the end of the night. She just wasn't her bubbly self. Nothing stopped Richelle from enjoying the night.

By the way - I did the makeup job. Creepy for Kenzie (she was supposed to be a vampire) and cutsie for Richelle (the cheerleader).

Whaddya think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mom got the news and....

... it didn't seem to even register with her.

Yesterday, we went to the doctor's office and the doc told mom the news... the MRI shows moderate atrophying of her brain, and that she had alzheimer's. It didn't show any problems with the ventricles and there didn't appear to be any indication that she'd had any fluid on the brain at any time.

Mom replied, "So physically I'm okay?"

Doctor: "Yes, physically you seem to be in great shape. But as we age, our blood vessels in our bodies break down and become weak like the rest of the body, which can increase the possibility of stroke, so it's important that you be careful to keep your blood pressure low and to watch your diabetes. "

Mom: "So physically, I'm in great shape!"

It was clear it really wasn't sinking in at that moment.

On the other hand, we met with Richelle's teacher last night for a parent/teacher conference. When we walked in, Roy (with a big smirk on his face) said to her, "If at the end of this year you decide to retire, we'll understand." Mrs. G. laughed at this. I'm sure she's had tougher kids to work with than Richelle, but as we have learned, Richelle, at times, has her own idea of what she wants. Sometimes, she'll be given a task and she'll go off and do whatever she wants to do. She has trouble with talking too much and too loud... no surprise there. But for only being in the U.S. for a year and having learned what she has learned, Mrs. G. thought she was doing incredibly well. Richelle will have to learn how to adapt so she can get along in first grade. At least she's motivated to learn. She tells us she has to catch up to Kenzie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The joke will be on me

The joke about mom's condition will be on me...

Both her sisters have Alzheimer's. My great uncle and my great grandmother on my father's side had Alzheimer's.

I joke that I'm next. But it may not be such a joke. I'd like to think that I've inherited more of my father's DNA than my mother's.

OK, enough of the morbid. Back to the here and now.

Mom's diagnosis is official

I had gone back to the doctor to find out what the neurologist's report was on mom's MRI. Sadly, she has alzheimer's.

I found a website, Alzheimer's Association, and was able to read about how an MRI can determine if a patient has the disease. It showed how the brain atrophies and shrinks, and why it is believed to happen.

Early Alzheimer's can begin 20 years or more before diagnosis. Mild to moderate Alzheimer's lasts from approximately 2-10 years. Severe Alzheimer's might last from 1-5 years.

I will be going to the doctor with mom to have the doc break the news to mom and to find out if they can determine if mom's is early or mild to moderate.

Meanwhile, at the household, Kenzie has been sick. She's had a nasty fever, cough, and runny nose. The fever is down right now, and the school and I have the same philosophy - keep the kid out until she's been fever free for 24 hours. So, she's feeling much better today, but I need to make sure there's no spiking of her temperature. It has been going up and down as she fights off the bug.

Funny, when she was sick, she was fairly quiet and basically laid in bed watching tv. I can always tell when Kenzie is feeling better. She begins to whine.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Precious thoughts

Last night, as I was laying down in bed with Kenzie, she kept saying "I can't go to sleep, mommy."

I finally asked her why. She said, "I don't want you to die."

I laughed soflty and said, "Well, I'm not dying right now and I'm very much alive. I won't die for quite a long time... so let's get some shut-eye and go to sleep."

She grabbed my arms and put her hand in mine, snuggling close and I kissed her head. She then asked, "Why do parents die before their children?"

I told her that usually, that is how things happen. We grow older, and our bodies get weaker and wear out. If we take good care of ourselves, we will live a long time, unless there is an accident. But parents need to live long enough for their kids to be independent and able to take care of themselves. That she was not to worry... by the time she was grown up and I was old, she would be asking herself "Hasn't she kicked off yet?"

Kenzie didn't find that funny. I guess I like the morbid humor, but Kenzie is really feeling a little insecure about death. I did, too, as a child. But I have had to work through that fear of being without my parents. As a kid, and even as a young adult, I felt that my life would not be worth anything if I didn't have my mom and dad.

And to be honest, it took me a long time to reconcile their dying with the natural order of things. By the time my father had his stroke, and then after 2 years dealing with that, he began to suffer mini-strokes and his body began to just shut down on him, I felt that death would be a blessing for him. He was in pain, confused, and had no life other than experiencing the process of dying. I always believed when he died, I'd break down and be an emotional wreck. But when the time came, I felt he was finally at peace. It was my mom who was the emotional wreck. I 'm sure she thought that there would be some kind of miracle and dad would pull through. So, I ended up being strong for her.

I hope I can help Kenzie understand and deal with death in a constructive and positive way. I don't expect her to shut down her emotions, but I want her to not fear our deaths so that it disrupts her life.

Then last night, in the middle of the night, I heard Richelle call, "Mommy..."

I woke up and asked "Huh?"

"I want to give you a hug."

Can't tell you how long it's been since I've been waiting for something like that. I reached over and held her, kissing her head a couple of times. And then she said, "I just wanted to give you a hug." (As if the kissing thing was just a little overboard.)

LOL! That's my girl.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Transient Ischemic Attacks?

Last Thursday morning, when I took mom her meds, I noticed a huge difference in her. She wasn't as aware, and had trouble eating. More to the point, she had trouble seeing what she was trying to eat. She'd dropped some scrambled eggs into her cereal bowl, and when trying to get it out of the bowl with her fork, she was banging the outside of the bowl with the fork. She couldn't figure out where the inside of the bowl was. She gave up on that, and tried to grab the egg with her fingers, but instead grabbed a pinch of cereal.

Then, as I walked her back to her room, she was having trouble walking, and even had to stop to catch her breath, even though she was walking very slowly.

I took her to the emergency room, and they ran a battery of tests on her (blood cultures, CAT scan, EKG) and it came back that she had a urinary tract infection. I also found out why she was on warfarin. She has an atrial fibrillation in her heartbeat, so they prescribe the blood thinner to keep her from having a heart attack due to that. (Funny no one ever told me before - not even her heart doctor.)

The emergency room doctor (can you believe his last name is Slaughter? - oh, yeah!) said that they also thought she'd had a Transient Ischemic Attack, which is a fancy way of saying that she probably suffered a loss of oxygen to the brain for a short period of time, what many of us call mini-strokes.

The staff gave me the name of a neurologist to follow up with - and would you believe that the first appointment for that doctor was 3 weeks from today? HUH? I told them to schedule me with whomever had the earliest appointment. I have no idea who that is, but I desperately need to get her checked out. It still only gets her into the neurologist for an MRI in two weeks. Hopefully, she can hold on till then and nothing more serious happens. She has been complaining that she is seeing double. She also can't even tell where the lock is on her door to her apartment, so she is having trouble locking it before she leaves.

I'm so scared of what is going on. My worry is that something is causing pressure on her brain in the area where sight is processed. We'll see....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learning how to deal with mom...

Mom is declining in her mental capabilities... that has been talked about in previous posts... but I had no idea some of the things that she had been doing until I talked with some of the neighbors.

She had stood out at the end of her driveway waving some papers around asking people "Can you tell me what this is? I don't know what this is."

Our neighbor, who lives right across the street and has been our neighbor for around 45+ years, walked over to look at what was in her hand. It was dollar bills - 50's, 20's, etc... a wad of them. Mom couldn't tell that this was money or even how much each bill was worth. I've had something similar happen to me while with mom when we went out to eat prior to when she fractured her pelvis back in April. She pulled out a $50 bill and asked what it was. She was holding it upside down and looking at the back of it. I told her if she'd turn it right side up and turn it around so she was looking at the front of the bill, she could probably tell. Instead, she turned it around but kept it upside down and she still couldn't tell. So, I turned it right side up for her to see, but she still couldn't tell. She asked if it was a $5 bill. EEEEEEEKS! I could see someone not so very honest taking advantage of her. Perhaps this might explain why she would have thousands of dollars in her home and then not be able to find it... she could have had it in her purse and not know what she was looking at, thinking a $100 bill was a $1 bill.... and someone saw an opportunity. Who knows...

There was another time when a neighbor and her husband who lived down the street from mom (we've known them ever since we had lived on the street in our old neighborhood) took her to the store. Later that evening, mom called her next door neighbor Jeannette and told her that Dale (the husband) had kept her purse, because she couldn't find her purse. Jeannette called Melissa's house at 10 pm and told her what mom was saying - and Melissa told Jeannette that mom had her purse with her because she had to have it to get her keys out to get into the house. Jeannette went over to look for her purse, and found it on a kitchen chair where mom had left it.

I also have seen where mom will look for her purse, and it is sitting on top of the cabinets where she left it, but she will walk by it several times, not even seeing it. It's like it just doesn't register in her brain as to what she is looking at.

I'm sure there are more horror stories - and I'm not sure whether I want to hear them all or not... but maybe I should be recording them for a future time when I may need to have that documentation.

Mom also suffers from "Sundowner's" - which is what they call it when sometime late in the day,the elderly begin to become difficult, unreasonable, aggresive, and sometimes uncontrollable. With mom, she hates everyone and everything by that point in the day (it begins at 2-3 pm and builds over the day until by the evening, she's spoiling for a fight with someone). Nothing is good, everyone is out to do her in, no one is nice, and everyone is a bitch or a bastard and she's the victim of some evil plot. She wants to go home because she hates it at the assisted living place. However, mom's forgotten how she had told her friends and neighbors, crying, that she hated living in her house and she'd rather just die. I'm sure feelings about living alone in her house was revealed to her friends in the late afternoon or evening.

Mom never made any effort to get out and be with other people, other than her friend Phyllis or her friend and neighbor Jeannette. She has no hobbies (try to get her to do something and she'll find a million reasons why she can't or won't - she doesn't even give anything a try). She can't read anything any more - and she wasn't an avid reader to begin with, so it's not hard to make the leap from not reading much to not reading at all. I think part of this is that the words she reads on the page don't translate to her brain. She has no idea what the words are, she can't make sense of words... even though with her glasses on, she can tell you the letters she's seeing either close up or far away.

I talked with her doctor the other day (she is now seeing my doctor - who restored my faith in the medical profession due to her caring and intelligent way she handles my medical problems - she actually listens to what the patient is saying and doesn't pre-judge what is going on, and she pays attention to my many drug allergies). She prescribed something to help mom with her sundowner's - and hopefully this will help both the staff (who are great and very caring people) and me (when I have to come in the evening to make sure she's taking her medication at the proper time).

In the mornings, she's doing great - and can understand the reasoning behind why I have placed her where she is. She realizes that if she were to fall at home, or outside the house, or have an accident of some kind where she wasn't able to get to a phone or call out for help, she could lay there for days and no one would know. At least here, someone is going to see her and/or will come looking for her if she doesn't show up at certain times of the day.

I'm learning not to take the tirades in the evening seriously... to smile and say ok. To let her rant and put up a fuss, because tomorrow morning, she'll feel so grateful that I'm back and tell me her fears that she thought after what she did I'd never come again. It's like a little child. I have to tell her (just like I tell my girls) that no matter what, I love her and I will never just leave her or abandon her. She's my mom, and even though she is a little cranky at night (an understatement for her sake) I still love her and I know she still loves me. We're mother and daughter and we fuss with each other from time to time... but we do love each other.

I'll be glad to see her new tv get delivered on Saturday. That will help her a tremendous amount with the boredom in the evenings.

She has a heart that is healthy and strong again, due to her bypass surgery. Her blood pressure is amazing, and there doesn't seem to be any problems with her cholesterol or other body functions. So physically, if she doesn't have a major accident, she could live another 10-20 years. But her mind is going into a twilight that she may never recover from. I so dread that - mostly because her granddaughters don't get to have the Memaw they deserve to have.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Finally got mom into the assisted living place. I feel a little relief that I don't have to worry how she is doing... now she's 5 minutes away and with people who should be able to help her immediately if she needs it.

So, now I can revel in the pictures I took over Labor Day weekend... we saw the kinfolk and had a great visit with Grandma Geri - although I ended up with bronchitis from the hotel's air conditioning by the end of the trip. Had to go to the emergency room by the time we got back home.

Oh, yeah! I recognize that face... we see that one a lot.

Wow - look at those eyes - they are piercing and intense. And she's only 5.

They look like they could have their own band.

Believe it or not, she's only singing the ABC song.

The kids spent more time trying to tie on their aprons than actually building anything.

Waiting for the train at a station in Des Plaines.

The Field Museum