Thursday, August 9, 2012
And so it begins...
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Sometimes I miss you so much I hurt inside. Today is one of those days. Seeing you once a month is not nearly enough; and when you go back to Indonesia, maybe we'll see you once (if we're lucky) there or maybe not at all before you come back here again. Life is slipping away so quickly, and there's no place to grab hold of to slow it down.
I love you so very, very much,
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
I think your view of life changes as you grow older. It seems that almost every day something that used to be important drops out of my “Gee, everyone should do/think/say/feel this way” basket.
Take adverbs for example. Now, I’ve always been a stickler when it comes to adverbs. They’re one of the bedrocks of English grammar, and when one uses them, one sounds somewhat intelligent, which makes whatever one is saying much more likely to be noticed and heeded. Or at the very least, people will think you know what you’re talking about (which quite often is definitely NOT the case).
Just look at these two sentences, and tell me which sentence you would think an intelligent, articulate adult would use:
1. When Alex and Asher go ride their bikes, I watch them close so they don’t go into the street.
2. When Alex and Asher go ride their bikes, I watch them closely so they don’t go into the street.
Or these two:
1. Interesting enough, the fragrance emanating from his clothing originated from a brisk lumbering skunk that frequents this particular path in the park.
2. Interestingly enough, the fragrance emanating from his clothing originated from a briskly lumbering skunk that frequents this particular path in the park.
(Okay class, which sentences have the adverbs? Which ones sound as though you paid attention in school for a few years? Which ones contain the ‘ly’ words? If you chose sentence number 2 for both, you are a super star! Actually, I don’t really think an intelligent, articulate adult would say anything remotely resembling the sentences in the second group. First of all, how many people do you know who have met a skunk on a path in the park? Not many, that’s for sure. I can’t think of anyone who’s had that experience. Although, I must say that one time when Cousin Susie and I were at Diamond Lake, we came across a skunk while we were hiking around the lake…no, wait a minute, ignore that last remark. It was actually a porcupine we came across, and he didn’t have an odor, and he looked nothing like a skunk…so I stick with my original premise that almost no one has come across a skunk on a path in the park.)
Actually, I have a great website for adverbs that has multiple other websites for students to learn about adverbs and to demystify them:
Here’s a little tip: If you come across an ‘ly’ word, it’s probably an adverb. (Ex: happily, strangely, frantically, hilariously – yes, they’re all adverbs – they modify verbs (and a lot of other things too). For example: happily singing, strangely creaking, frantically screaming, hilariously laughing, etc.)
Whoa! How did we get here? I actually began by talking about how my view of life changed as I aged.
So, what I was trying to say before we got into this morass of grammar was that as I age, many things that seemed so important when I was younger, don’t really seem important now. When I was younger, I had so many rules, black and white beliefs, and requirements for so many things. Since I’ve gotten older, many of the things that were topics of discussion and interest like which clothes to wear (wearing anything other than comfortable clothes and shoes seems complete insanity at my age), what brand of make-up looks best, holding in my stomach and “I gained 2 lbs, do you think it shows?”, not asking advice because I was afraid I’d look stupid, worrying what people thought of me (although I must say, I’ve never really cared much what other people think of me, but now I care even less – the only people I care about thinking well of me are those people I love – the others can go fly a kite), having the greatest car, and yes, even using adverbs, just don’t really matter anymore.
I’ve discovered that I DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE RIGHT; and once I discovered that, my defensiveness level dropped significantly. What a relief!
So, here’s a story: When I was 19, I was staying with Auntie Lou and Crazy Uncle Karl. One day Crazy Uncle Karl and I were talking about Long Beach State, and I, for some inane reason, insisted it was really called the University of California, Long Beach. He disagreed, and I set out to prove him wrong. I said I had a brochure from the school in my drawer, and I’d get it and prove to him that I was right. Well, I found the brochure, and guess what? It said “Long Beach State. Gulp. So, instead of going back with the brochure to tell him he was right, I instead told him I couldn’t find it, but I KNEW I was right. What an idiot! It just goes to show you how insecure and defensive I was at that age. [By the way, Crazy Uncle Karl was right about almost everything. He was maddeningly right, but right nonetheless.]
As an older, wrinkled person, I think I’m much more willing to forgive faults in others (and in myself) and adopt more of a “live and let live” attitude rather than “my way or the highway” attitude. I think with each passing year, I realize more and more how very little I know, and I’m willing to make allowances for different opinions and lifestyles. I’ve realized that everyone isn’t (and shouldn’t be) a “me” clone; that people can actually have completely different opinions and beliefs about life and still be my friend, and I can still love them (sometimes I don’t, of course, but that’s okay too – I’m a work in progress). God must like variety, because there are so many of us here, and all of us are different. I’m also much more aware of how much I need other people and how important they are. I realize that the people I love aren’t always going to be here, and I need to enjoy them and love them while they ARE here because the next moment I turn around, they may NOT be here. (I love you, Auntie Grace and Mam and Uncle Red Red and Auntie Lou!)
And I guess most of all, the older I get, the more I TRY to be a better person. I really WANT to be a person I can be pleased with and that God can be pleased with too, and know in my heart that I’m doing the best I can at the moment. Kindness has become so much more important than almost any other characteristic, and when I fail to reach that mark, I disappoint myself and try that much harder the next time. I think I’m learning from my failures, and they don’t just fly over my head like they did when I was younger. The criticism I receive now is something to be taken to heart and examined; and then I decide whether I believe it’s valid or not. And valid criticism is something that will change my behavior and something I try to be aware of so that I don’t continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over…I try to make new mistakes – oh, hey! Wait a minute! I don’t actually TRY to make mistakes, what I do is TRY not to make the same mistakes over and TRY not to make new mistakes either. Oh, how hard that is! Because many times, I don’t realize I’ve made a mistake because to me, it wasn’t a mistake until someone pointed it out. I say “I’m sorry” often, and really mean it – and “I’m sorry” means I try not to do whatever it was again.
One of the most important things I’m doing with my life right now is to care for mom and dad. It’s so important to me that I make their lives as happy and comfortable as possible right to the end. And one of the greatest gifts God has given me in my life is a husband who is so loving and supportive that he wants to care for and love mom and dad as much as I do. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without his help and support. Never has he made a disparaging remark or hinted in any way that he’d rather do something else rather than care for mom and dad, when I know there are many times when doing something else would be more fun or more relaxing or more interesting. There has never been the slightest look or harrumph noise or suggestion that we find someplace else for mom and dad to live or that they should find someone else to take them to their doctor’s appointments or to visit when one of them is in the hospital or nursing home. He just keeps on volunteering and supporting and offering and loving. Family is the most important thing to both of us, and caring for our family ranks the highest of all.
There should be a Medal of Honor for a husband who, from the very start of our marriage, has lived with his in-laws and loved them. We’ve weathered the bumpy parts (and there have been bumpy parts and still are sometimes – but love won out – and it’s important enough to care for them when they can’t care for themselves, that we don’t give up), and we’ve come to a point where mom and dad have become our children and need us to help them through this last part of their lives. Again I say, what an honor to be given this opportunity; but within the core of this opportunity is a man whose sense of honor and enormous heart have encompassed all of us and made everything possible. His life isn’t “It’s all about me!” His life is “It’s all about love and caring and giving back some of the gifts that have been given to us.”
I believe that a big part of love is sacrifice, and Papa (My Sweetheart) is a perfect example every single day of love and sacrifice in action. It’s so easy to TALK about love, to TALK about being kind, to TALK about caring, to TALK about the things we should do, to TALK about being a better person, to TALK, TALK, TALK … BUT to actually live a life that shows acts of love in almost everything we do ... we don’t see that very often.
I’m different in that respect, because I see love in action every day of my life in the way my husband cares for my parents. What a most amazing gift! God knew that I would need a husband who would do this, and He gave me that husband. How completely cool and awesome is that?!? If anyone ever thinks God isn’t active in our lives, this is a perfect example of Him actively caring and helping us right now on an ongoing basis, every single day. God is AMAZING!! And so is my husband with a heart so big, he can encompass our entire life together, including my parents, our children, and our amazing grandchildren. Even when I go wait in the car (a euphemism for “I’m going to go away now until my Sweetheart isn’t grumpy anymore), I’m so grateful and so blessed to have the husband I have. And best of all, he puts up with me so well. And lots of times, that ain’t easy! Because as much as I really, really want to be that wonderful person I’m writing about, many times I can’t do it, many times I don’t try hard enough, many times I’m just too tired, many times I just plain fail – and then here comes ME again! The ‘me’ that gets in the way of being that wonderful, kind, loving, all-forgiving perfect person; but you know what? He still loves me, and that’s another thing that’s just so darned great, I can’t even begin to tell you how great it is! And so I just keep trying.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A – is for awesome, as we all know he is,
L – is for lovable, he’s in the hugging biz,
E – is for enthusiastic, about that, there’s no doubt!
X – is for eXtraordinary, hear us all shout:
A-L-E-X spells Alex! Alex! Alex! Hooray!!!
To be a friend with Alex really makes our day!!
A – is for adventuresome, all engines ahead full,
S – is for spontaneous, his face all aglow,
H – is for hearty, a tough outer shell,
E – is for energetic, high spirited as well,
R – is for rosy cheeks, a grin from ear to ear,
Put them all together, they spell ASHER far and near!
I – is for iridescent, sparkling in pink,
S – is for shining, she makes our eyes blink,
A – is for artistic, with clothes she knows her style,
B – is for beautiful, with an award-winning smile,
E – is for enchanting, a princess through and through,
L – is for lovely, dancing angel on review,
L – L is for literate, her vocabulary knows no bounds,
E – E is for exceptional, her intellect astounds.
This is our Isabelle, the princess of our hearts,
Daily she astounds us, with her 30-year-old smarts!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I felt like Popeye when someone took his spinach away. Remember how he sags and the big muscles on his arms suddenly fall so they’re drooping down instead of shooting up? I couldn’t stop laughing – and I don’t think Alex laughed. I don’t think he thought it was funny. He was just asking a serious question while Mama was almost rolling on the floor in hilarity.
“Mama, show me your hand. Mama, you have a grandma hand,” Belle stated thoughtfully. I said that of course I do, because I’m a grandma. She nodded and very seriously said, “Yes, you are.”
And Asher just pats my tummy and grins. He knows a fellow eater when he sees one.
Getting older is a learning experience every day. It’s harder to walk, harder to get up, harder to sit down, harder to bend over – physically, everything is just harder to do. And I guess from here on out, it’ll just keep getting harder. Everything hurts. It’s just a matter of degree. Does my body hurt more today than yesterday? Am I able to walk without limping too much today, since yesterday I could barely make it across the room without staggering? Or is today a good day, and I can walk almost normally and I almost forget the pain of taking a step, legs almost giving out, pain shooting down both legs from my hip. Physically, life doesn’t look so good for the foreseeable future.
But the very best thing about getting older is that we have grandchildren! And having grandchildren means I don’t notice the pain as much as the miracle of these three little babies who constantly surprise us and keep us filled with awe and wonder. I’m actually able to get on the floor with them and play superheroes or cars, and my joints are so happy to be with the kids, that while we’re playing, my joints are quiet and stop hurting (until I get up, that is-ha!).
Children keep you young. It’s true! You laugh more, you move more, you think more, you enjoy everything with more intensity, and through all of this, you continue to be so filled with wonder at the beauty and intelligence and the love that flow out of these three little grandchildren. It’s just overwhelming.
I have also become an expert Wii player and expert X-Box player.
Well, now, that’s actually not true.
I’m really a terrible Wii player and an even worse X-Box player, but in the eyes of Grandsons, Mama rules! Or at least she gives it a good try. Asher says, “That’s good, Mama! That’s good!” and “That’s okay, Mama. Don’t feel bad.” And while he’s saying this, I don’t even know what I did or didn’t do or whether I did something great or something bad. Most of the time, I don’t even know which character I am on the screen. I just keep pushing buttons. But Grandsons think I’m doing great (or not so great).
While Asher and I were playing X-Box over the weekend, I kept losing. And Alex kept saying, “Asher, don’t be mean to Mama!! Stop being mean to Mama!!” He thought Asher should let me win sometimes. So Asher would jump off the roof and die so that I could win once in a while. I told Alex that it’s okay if Asher tries to win because that way I’d learn how to play, but Alex thought that was completely unfair, and kept telling Asher not to be mean to Mama. Alex has a heightened sense of fairness and unfairness. He wants everything to be fair – and he didn’t like it that Asher was winning all the rounds and I was losing all the rounds. He thought we should take turns winning. He was so sweet.
And now we’re just counting the days until we can be together again. Asher wanted to come home with us. We should have taken him. No home is complete without a child in it.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The only real indication that he’s 98 is his gait instability. His balance is very poor, and he can’t walk around very well without his walker or at least without having a wall or furniture to hang onto. And of course, he doesn’t like change of any kind.
He enjoys having the great-grandchildren around, and he especially likes it when they go to visit him in his sitting room or at the computer. He thinks that’s just the greatest – and so does mom. Although she can’t hear them or see them very well, she really enjoys having them sit by her or show her their toys.
Dad’s birthday party went well, and he really enjoyed it. The next day, he said, “That was a nice party last night.” So I know he had a good time, even if he didn’t say too much while everyone was there. He watched and listened and liked having everyone there. He never gives compliments or says something nice unless he really means it. So that means that it’s rare that he says, “Good dinner, Carol.” But when he does say it, I know he means it. He almost always eats whatever I give him, but I rarely know if he likes it.
I so much want to go stay with the kids on the weekend of the 27th of August, but so far, we haven’t been able to find anyone to stay with mom and dad. Robbyn is sick, Missy is working, and there’s really no one else. Uncle Bill can come, but he can’t help mom with her bathroom, diaper, and bedtime things. I think dad will let us get someone to put mom to bed in the evenings, but there’s still the daytime when the caregivers aren’t here. I just don’t see how we’ll be able to get away. I’m praying for a miracle.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Yesterday as we were coming from the dining room table and going to get Grandma’s jammies on, she stopped, looked out the front windows and said, “When are the kids coming home? It’ll be so nice when they get here. It makes the house so alive.”
Now, that was a moment of lucidity and clarity that we don’t see very often. So many times she just doesn’t connect with what’s happening in our world, only in hers. I think we’re all on the edge of our seats, so happy and excited, waiting for the kids to come home.
Grandpa talks about the kids almost every day and laughs over something Belle did or remarks on some of their toys that are in the living room. He’s waiting for their arrival too.
Yesterday Papa and I stopped on the way home to pick up four half-gallons of milk to get ready for those little sweethearts. We can’t wait to see their sippy cups being used again and find them (both sippy cups and kids) all over the house. It makes life worth living! :O}
Around 5:00 yesterday afternoon, I went to see if Grandma was ready to get up from the potty, and she said, “Are there people waiting to come in?” I said that there had been a long line waiting, but they were gone now and that I thought they had used the potty by the laundry room. For some reason, she keeps thinking there’s a line outside the potty door every time she uses it. It’s easier to agree with her than it is to try to reason with her. It just frustrates everyone, so I agree with just about everything.
I also asked Grandma about Uncle Axel, and she said he was her dad’s brother, not Mam’s brother, so I had it wrong earlier. She said her dad was teaching Uncle Axel how to use the edger (it’s a woodworking machine in the lumber mill), and Uncle Axel’s sleeve got caught in the machine, pulled his arm in, and cut off his arm about in the middle of his forearm. That’s how he lost his hand and part of his arm. I asked her if he ever married, and she said he told her that no one wanted to marry a one-armed man, so he never asked anyone to marry him. It’s so sad because he was such a sweet, gentle person. And Grandma said he was soooooo handsome. I remember him as being nice looking too, but mostly I remember him as being gentle and shy and sweet.
Grandma has days when she’s stronger than other days. I came home last week and found her by the front door with her walker. She had gotten herself up from the couch and wandered around the first floor for a while and was standing by the front door, not sure where to go next. Grandpa was sleeping, so he didn’t know she was wandering.
The one thing we’ve been so grateful for since Grandma’s mind has been going away is that she’s been too weak to wander around on her own. She usually needs help getting up and never walks anywhere without someone’s hand on her back because she tends to fall over backwards or go sideways. But this was something new and scary, since she could fall down the stairs or possibly open a door and fall outside, or worse yet, heaven help us, she could turn on the stove and start a fire.
I asked her where she was going, and she started to walk toward the wall saying, “I don’t know. I was just going around and around.” I stopped her before she ran into the wall, took her to the potty, and got her back to the couch without grandpa waking up. I told Papa about it, and he was able to find the baby gate in the basement; so we put it up in front of the basement stairs. At least she won’t fall down the stairs even though she may fall someplace else in the house. She just can’t be trusted alone . . . ever.
Kaiser has let us know that Medicare won’t cover home care after December 31, 2010. That means the people who come to bathe and dress mom and clean the house won’t be covered by Medicare, and Grandpa will have to cover the entire bill instead of 25% of the bill – that’s around $1850/month if he has to pay it all. We can’t afford that much money, so we’ll have to see what’s going to happen. I haven’t told Grandpa yet because there’s nothing we can do about it, and he would only continue to worry. Papa and I think it’s better that he only start to worry toward the end of December, so we’ll tell him then. Who knows what could happen between now and then, and there’s no reason for him to worry while Papa and I are doing such a good job worrying about it on our own. Especially with Papa’s job loss, the worry about how to pay for Grandma’s care will fit in nicely with the worry about a new job for Papa. (Huh?)
Now we're just waiting for the kids to arrive today. We have errands to run just after work, then home to sit in front of the window to wait for the kids . . . and all will again be right with the world.