Friday, September 30, 2005
Then I see the occupants of the apartment complex on the northeast side of Houston who returned to their homes only to find they had been robbed. To add insult to injury, the thieves cooked themselves a meal before cleaning out the pantry. These folks used any extra money trying to evacuate from a cat 5 storm - or so we kept being told. They don't have extra money to replace all these things.
In the editorials (which I don't normally read), there was criticism of those who did not live in evacuation areas trying to get away from the hurricane. Well duh! If our FEMA guy here is getting his family out by the Wednesday morning before the expected land fall, and the county judge gets his family to Austin, the rest of us should stay to "hide from the wind." That became the motto by our great leaders when it was obvious that an area of roughly 5 million folks couldn't all fit onto 4 main highways. Our homes are not built to withstand winds like that. I'm not sure had Rita come this way all of us would have been able to "hide from the wind" in cat 5 force winds. I believe our homes would have become our tombs. I fully understand getting away from the storm surge areas, but come on, I personally don't like the prospect of my roof coming down on my head.
All this makes me think about the possibility of a terrorist attack. We do have a few refineries here. We do have a major port in the ship channel. We are a pretty ripe target. Now Ellington Field will be shut down so there will be no flights over the gulf and areas as before. The future is rather scary. I sincerely hope the local and state (and national for that matter) officials really begin to look at how we are going to escape from our cities. All of the large cities are in great peril, and I believe this could have a domino effect on smaller cities. Austin, San Antonio, Bryan-College Station all have been impacted by Rita. It all may happen again, and there has to be some sort of plan in place. We are not safe. That's not comforting.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Of course, they could end up back in Home Town. The irony there just slaps me in the face. S's family lives there. So what's the problem then? Well as a family they are a train wreck. They are so disfunctional that it is ridiculous. I should not judge them harshly, but they are just flat out trashy people. They want a free ride. I hate the thought they would have a great influence on my grandchildren. S is the only one of the 4 that has turned out to be a good, hardworking, devoted father.
This got me to think about their wedding day. K wanted to be married in our church, by the only pastor she remembers. S's parents wanted to have the wedding in Home Town with the reception being a "bar-b-que in the backyard." Of course, I'm sure we would be expected to provide the food. After all, they had no money. They had and still have the impression we are wealthy. Come on, I'm a retired Texas teacher. After my deductions (the largest being health care) I probably make less than they do on their welfare.
The day of the rehearsal only baby brother was here. He and S got into a huge argument. Baby Brother called his dad. He called S telling him that he was not part of the family any more. Nice touch. We worked hard to get S's daughter to become best friends with my niece and Maid of Honor, E. Otherwise she would have not cooperated as flower girl. She was a terribly spoiled 4 year old - thanks to S's parents. The day of the wedding, we were not sure the other parents would even show up. They arrived about 30 minutes before the ceremony.
At the reception, things got worse. They kept trying to get M to them. They said they would take her to McDonalds. Can you imagine? She was too close to E by that time, so Pops (yep that's what the kids call him) decided that he would fake a possible heart attack so they could leave - in the limelight.
I don't think K has really thought out everything involved with moving away from here. All I can do is sit on the sidelines and hope.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
When K was growing up, I practiced the "I'm not your friend - I am your mother" style of parenting. I tried my best to have a good relationship with my children, but there was always "the line." My mother was a very mercurial person. I never knew which way the wind was going to blow. I was also an only child. That gave her too much time to notice me. She would say hurtful things; she would unfavorably compare me to others. She is probably the reason I am the way I am as I illustrated in the last post.
K is a grown woman now, and we are friends. We are close friends. In addition, we are business partners. We so many things together. Weekends we are with her family. I can be with my grandchildren. Our relationship is very close. If she leaves, there will be a huge gap in my life.
I was not able to count on family for back up when my kids were little. They were (at the time of lower speed limits) four hours away. If one of the kids were sick, one of us would have to stay home. If there was a scheduling problem that was just too bad. There was no one else to pick them up. These are things I have been able to do for her, and I have been thrilled to do them.
The old adage is so true.
A daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life.
A son is a son until he takes a wife
My son still comes by some. Well, for now that is not an option. He has his cats here. But since he married, his relationship with us is very different. We just don't see them very often. Even when they have children, my relationship will probably be different. His wife, C, is just different. Our relationship is different. I was in the delivery room with K. While I don't certainly expect this, I'm not sure C even wants us in the hospital.
I guess this is the time to simply enjoy the time we have. I shouldn't be "borrowing trouble." I just don't want to think about the possible outcome.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I mention this because I suppose that is the reason I have not posted much about me. My profile is basically nill. I have not said where I live or anything more personal about me than the posts I have done. It's just that I don't know you. I guess when some others get "hate mail" and the like I think that if you don't know much about me that will protect me.
Well, that is going to begin to change, especially after this Rita thing. I live outside of Houston, Texas. You know, that small town near the gulf coast. I'm sure you've heard of us somewhere. This Rita thing has really gotten me thinking. I would like to share some thoughts.
We always said that if we were threatened by a category 4 storm or above, we would evacuate. That was our stand. When it seemed that was the fact, we couldn't. There was no way to get out of our place. We live along the Highway 290. Since my husband and kids had at one time been members of the local volunteer fire department, we still have a scanner we bought when they were in service, I listened to the calls for help from the local EMS. I listened to all the ambulances being called for. People were having heat emergencies. One elderly woman died. There was absolute gridlock on the highway. We were stuck right here. Even if we wanted to leave, it was not practical.
My daughter and I made the decision that we shouldn't add to the congestion. There were people trying to get away from the storm surge. We would have wind and rain. Perhaps I would be flooded in because the bayou backs up all around us, and we get cut off. We were not ever faced with a 20 foot surge of water. Plus, we didn't want a 4 year old and a 14 month old to face the hours on the road. I cannot tell you how my heart broke for all those people who were stranded on the roadways. They ran out of water; ice was not available for the food they brought, and gasoline had been depleted a day and a half before.
The media sources made this situation sound like it was just a minor inconvenience, and that it really just turned into an unplanned picnic. It was not like that at all. There were fights. There were assaults. There was probably much shoplifting from the stores that stayed open, and if they had not stayed open there would have been attempted looting. The police were there. All this still happened. This situation didn't make for a people who were kind and gentle to one another. Around one convenience store, the smell of urine and feces was overpowering. The litter was mnd boggling. It looked like a garbage truck exploded. And many lost their cars. They simply broke down from overheating.
And it will happen again. There will be more storms. There could be terrorist attacks. The gridlock will happen again. The results will be the same. We were so extremely lucky this time. Now we are poised for 2.5 million to return. Does the state really believe these people will follow the plan to come back? Obviously the evacuation plan - what ever that was - didn't work. Can we expect these people to remain in hotels for two more days? They probably can't afford that. They are going to be flocking back - today.
So I have shared a little more with you about me. It's still more about what's going on around me, but I think we still may become friends, and you will know much more about me. We will have a good time.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
On the other hand, there are a lot of older folks that are quite simple put foolish. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we would be guaranteed to become wise sages as the years pile up. Wouldn't it be wonderful to actually learn from our mistakes instead of being so bull headed that we continue to repeat the same stupid stuff? Wouldn't it be really wonderful!
Friday, September 16, 2005
Sebastian is a beautiful black long hair. He is so terribly shy that when anyone comes into the house, he disappears. He really must know you to stay around. It is sad that when B comes to take care of them (that was the deal; - we just house them) Sebastian doesn't know him and hides. He is a sweet cat who causes no problems, unless you consider he "fights the outside cats" through the windows. That is hard on the blinds!
Sasha on the other hand is a difficult cat. She is small and agile. She is over 5, but thinks she is still a kitten. She even looks like a teenaged cat. The biggest problem with her is that she loves to help items, especially glass, commit suicide. She will tease and tease the item until it falls off of the bar, table, mantle, whatever.
She almost has me trained. I try to be very careful what I leave around. This morning when I walked from the den to the breakfast room, barefooted, I stepped on glass. I couldn't remember what I had left out. As I investigated further, I found that she had really worked hard to knock a baby food jar with a little diluted glue that I was using to line a cigar box purse onto the floor. All in all, there really was no damage, but she can be so infuriating.
The answer? Well, I guess I could force B to remove her. But that would probably mean she would have to go to a shelter for adoption. That is really not an option. It's not her fault she is here. It's not really B's fault that he cannot have her right now. Things in his life have changed since he rescued her from his apartment's parking lot. I guess the only answer is to do what you so with an infant - just cat proof! So that's what I'll try to remember, and we will live somewhat harmoniously.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
She came to live with K and S June 2004, and this year she made the decision to remain here. She doesn't want to go back to her mother at all. I'll be the first to admit her like there was not good, but I wonder exactly how much she brought on herself.
When she got here, she was very rude and mean to Lady Bug. Sibling rivalry at its worst. That has gotten a little better, though not much in reality. I don't understand it because she has four siblings at her mother's house. That, in itself, makes her very needy, but she can't get over the desire to be the center of everything.
I guess her neediness is why she is constantly testing limits. Children do like and need limits, and they will test them. It gives them a sense of security. They know they are loved. Back in the late seventies, I had tried my luck at real estate. WRONG timing. I ended up being the "educational therapist" at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. I saw those kids needing structure. They had none in their homes. Most of the homes were non-nuclear. Because of this, most of the kids were in charge, and they felt like there was no one there for them. They acted out, and behavior management allowed for no variation. Break the rule - suffer the consequence.
My step granddaughter, M, tests the SAME rules over and over. The outcome is the same, but she goes back and repeats the same behavior. If she is expecting different results, this is the "definition" of crazy. There are rules about makeup, clothes, grades, computer, and phone. She tests them at every turn. She gets grounded, she gets corrected, but turns around and does the same thing.
She has been in therapy, and will continue. It really doesn't seem to do much good though. I hope something works soon. She needs it to happen. I worry about her future. I also worry about the other two children.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Having cousins close in age is not new for this family. My sister-in-law had my niece in September and my daughter was born in December. Our sons were due about the same day, but my son, B, was impatient, couldn't wait. He was a week early. Hers, being her usual luck, was late. So we are familiar with close in age cousins, but we live in different cities.
One of these pregnancies was successful, but the other ended very early. Even at that early gestational age I mourned for the little one we would never know all the while rejoicing for the one would be coming. It was a very hard time. I think my daughter-in-law, C, suffered more than we knew. Outwardly, she seemed to go on and accept it. Deep down I think she resented K's successful pregnancy. I can't blame her. It had to be very painful.
When I was alone with B, I told him his cousin had the same thing happen to her. K was about to deliver Lady Bug when we were at her house for the family Christmas. K was as big as a house, and E seemed to be cheerful about everything. I later learned she had just miscarried. I would only imagine how devastating that Christmas was for her. I believe B related this to C, and I think it helped.
All this happened a couple of years ago. B and C are going to try again. I pray they will be successful. All the women in her family has fertility problems. Only time will tell.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Seeing my father is the worse part of the experience because he is no longer the man I remember as my father. This horrible disease has turned him into a person who is incontinent and drools constantly. He cannot form phrases because the words escape him. He will parrot, but that's about it. It helps to have someone with me because then he can sit and listen.
The other part of the trip that is so terrible is watching the others. We have been there so long. I have watched them deteriorate, die or simply disappear. There are still two who have been there longer than my dad. They are both women. One was becoming violent, but you can tell she has been medicated.
Looking around the unit, it would seem that many of these souls could continue much longer, but they do. They languish daily. Some are in wheel chairs; some just slump in chairs. There are the few that just wander, and then there are those who "talk" to you making no sense at all.
R is one of those people. She was there when my dad and step mother got there. Her husband was in the assisted living section and R was in the Memory Support Unit (locked unit). I didn't know that at the beginning. When I would arrive, R and her husband would be in the rocking chairs out on the front porch or just in the lounge area. They were such a smart looking couple. They were meticulously groomed.
Suddenly, I noted that R was in MSU and her husband was no where around. I met her son in a family support group where he explained that his father had a stroke before coming to the center. He was left without the ability to speak. Since she had dementia, they had to be moved. He died sometime after V. I haven't seen her son in quite sometime.
R would slouch in chairs, moaning and crying. She was no longer groomed. At one point I really believed she would die soon. She had a wound on her leg that would not heal, and she developed a serious edema in that leg. That wound healed, but R continued to mentally deteriorate. Once she did come out of her dementia when she focused on my grandson.
Funny how little children bring the patients about sometime. If it can bring them back to the "surface" of their memories, they want to talk to the children. They seem to return to the better times, even if it's only for a few minutes. Then they slip back into the void.
The real point of this post is that someone in the unit died. The staff is pretty closed mouth about it. I don't know if it was R or J. I haven't seen either of them for two weeks. I'll have to walk close to the rooms to check names. Death in that place is really not sad. These folks have already "died;" their bodies just don't know it yet.
Friday, September 09, 2005
So the next morning I was off to work where I bemoaned this fact to my best friend and colleague. Well, being my best friend she reacted in character and there after only addressed me as "Granny." I was mortified. I was crushed. I was OLD!
Now this friend, D, as I have lived strangely parallel lives even though we didn't know each other until about ten years ago. She was born, and has lived in the Megapolis area all her life, and I was born in Hometown, and she is (ugh) three years younger than I. We still have traveled many similar paths. We married about the same time, chose the same rather obscure china pattern, and our oldest children are the same age - and were best friends in high school.
Well, it was just a few months later that D told me her son and his wife were pregnant also. We were BOTH going to be grandmothers. That made things much better. We immediately began fantasizing about pushing strollers around Little Suburb on our arthritic knees. Ah, our lives run parallel yet again. I began to reassess the situation. This could be fun.
Later my daughter shared with me that when she made that initial call, she felt like the young, unmarried teenager telling her mother she was pregnant. I thought I had handled the call well, only falling apart AFTER I hung up, but she knows me all too well. We are very much alike.
As the months went on, I was really getting excited. I told her I had the feeling that the baby was a girl. When she went for the first ultrasound, it was too early to tell, but the technician thought it was a boy. Well, that would be OK, but I wanted a granddaughter! Of course this was the same technician who also had the "feeling" she was carrying twins. Turns out she was wrong on both counts.
Now I had a profile ultrasound image of my granddaughter after the second ultrasound. She looked like her mother, me and my mother. I don't remember my grandmother that well, but we have STRONG genes! Once I found a picture of a girl who was about ten. I told my mother I didn't;t remember posing for that picture. She said she was them girl in the picture! I found pictures of me at one year. My granddaughter, Lady Bug, looks like those pictures.
My daughter paid me the highest compliment in the world when she said that she wanted her parents in the delivery room with her. She was living in Hometown now. Being afraid we wouldn't get there in time, my husband and I, along with our three dogs went to our weekend house close by. Lady Bug was born January 16. It was cold. We spent January 1 to her birth date in a poorly insulated house. It was worth it!
I was able to keep her for almost two years because her mom and dad found work here. I only had to give her up who V got really sick. She is still so precious to me. I love being a grandmother, and now she has a brother. How great.
As for D, she had a grandson following our Siamese twin life style. In April, her youngest got married. Lady Bug was the flower girl and her grandson was ring bearer, and there will never be two grandmothers who were more proud. How things can change!
Thursday, September 08, 2005
The first night he was with us was fine until it was bed time. I woke to find him in our bedroom quite confused. We had lived in this house for 28 years at the time. They visited frequently, so the house SHOULD not have been unknown to him. Later that night, he went outside.
The second night, I slept on the floor of our den so that he could not get by me without me knowing. We have an alarm, but I didn't to turn it on out of respect for our neighbors. The floor is hard!
He would become stir crazy in the house. He would want to go outside. OK, that's fine, but his walks would go beyond our block and I couldn't see him. If the hose was strange, what about the neighborhood. He could get lost in the area and I wouldn't be able to get to him. I would have to put the baby (18 months old) in the car seat to get him as quickly as possible.
He was here for a week because the Assisted Living Center was not ready. Fortunately I had visited with the a couple of weeks before. I had wanted Dad and V to come down to see if they could live there. As usual, V drug her feet. This is the same way she had done when I found how Hometown could help them. I found adult day cares, transportation (yes, friends he was still driving them around even though we all begged her to stop him), and help to come in. She dropped the ball. Nothing was done. Then in one quick afternoon, things changed. I had to step in. I made the decision for them.
When she got out of the nursing home where she was to rehab, they were to be in the assisted living portion of the center. When the room was ready for occupancy, I moved the furniture, and got him ready for the move. They were going to watch him that night to be sure he wouldn't leave. As it turned out, even though it was just a trip to the rest room, he "got away" from them. So he ended up in the locked unit. He is still there.
V was in a terrible nursing home. We, for all intents and purposes, took her out AMA. We brought her here. She was in the original room; he in the locked unit. They would spend most days together. When she got really sick, she spent about two weeks as a inpatient at M D Anderson. She returned to Assisted Living on Christmas Eve. We tried to have Christmas in her room, and then she died the next day. When we brought him over for Christmas, he seemed to know her, but the next day, he didn't know her.
After having him for the week, I did realize I could not keep him. He would lock door knob locks that could lock us out of the house, he wandered. V's niece and V's sister kept their Alzheimer's patient at home, and I felt I was a failure. But with the two of them, I believe I made the best decision. I didn't consult her son, I just acted. V's family, who were scattered all over the US constantly called me, assuring me that I did so the right thing and they were so happy that I did. Come to find out, her son was not as dedicated to her as I once thought. They all saw him as being very selfish, and they felt I acted more like a child to her than he ever did.
It is still not an easy thing. But I have to accept, and do the best I can.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
At 3:30 my phone rang. V, with a shaky voice, said she guessed she would have to go to the hospital. What an opening - no details - just she thought she would have to go to the hospital. After what seemed like a million questions, she gave me the details.
Dad had gone for a walk, and it seemed he was gone too long. V decided she would get into the car to look for him. She hadn't driven in many years so her skills were limited. She located Dad and brought him home. Their garage was a small single car one attached to the house. It was tight. She got the car too close to the work bench for the drivers door to open. Apparently Dad took over. He used a piece of 4x4 lumber about a foot long as a stopping block. In his confusion, he put the car into drive instead of reverse. In the mean time V was at the front of the garage. He accelerated so fast that the car jumped over the block. V was in the path. She suffered a huge bruise (as it turned out later) on her thigh.
The thoughts racing through my mind was that there was no way I could get there before 8 pm. Here in Megapolis's suburb, the "rush hour" had already begun and wouldn't stop until 6. I was completely beside myself. She did tell me that she had called 911, but no one else but me.
Fortunately when we were there the week before, we met their neighbor. She noted that Dad was getting so much worse, and she was very concerned. Her mother in law had just recently passed away from dementia, and we compared notes. She gave me her telephone number. I used it that July afternoon. This angel went over and stayed with Dad until V got into a room. Dad stayed in the room with V that night. He couldn't be trusted to go home. He would have gotten in the car to go back to the hospital and would have at the very least gotten lost.
She went back the next day to check on them. Then we knew we had to go get my dad. It was so sad. I sat in the back seat with my dad in the passenger seat. We watched him looking out the window knowing he would never see hometrown again.
Tomorrow I'll tell you about that first week.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
He was not happy when we placed him there. He escaped at least three times, although I believe there were more times. The first time a wonderful good Samaritan found him near a busy street about 9 pm. She picked him up in her car and brought him back. The second time he got about a mile and a half away. This time he was at a very busy intersection. He had fallen into a bar ditch. By the time the administrator for the center got there, the EMS and police were there. Fortunately he was just wet and muddy with nothing (i.e. a hip!) was broken.
For 6 months his wife was "with him." I put this in quotations because she was in assisted living and he was in the locked unit. They would bring him over to her, but then all they would do is sleep. Sleep seems to be one of the things that dementia patients do the most.
Of course V, his wife, was terminal with bladder cancer. She didn't know this, but I did. I wanted to tell her, but her son who was working in another state, said he wanted the doctor to tell her. She never got to see that doctor again, but that's the story for tomorrow. When we brought her here, her son, R, wanted to get her the best of care. He wanted her in M D Anderson Cancer Center. I moved heaven and earth to get her there. My blessed husband would take her the 25 miles there. R did NOTHING. He never even took time off to come see her. He didn't come until Christmas Day when she was in a final coma before death. She died on the 26th.
My father has been there for three years, two months and 10 days. He goes further down every day, but it is a slow decline. He is in a wheel chair most of the time. I don't know if it's die to his terrible arthritis in both knees, or if it is the progression of the disease. He walks very slowly and falls often. He just turned 93. He seams to still recognize us, but has lost the ability to formulate his thoughts. He parrots what is said to him. If asked if he remembers someone when they are referred to he says yes. This is all part of the coping mechanism he used for so many years. Sunday I asked if he remembered his mother's name and he responded no.
I don't know exactly what his real functioning is, but it is so terrible to see the once active, vibrant, intelligent man the way he is now. It takes everything I have to go to visit.
Come back tomorrow to see how I finally got them out of their home (in hometown) that is three plus hours away.
Monday, September 05, 2005
It's the time to tell you a bit about myself. I am a wife, mother of two married children, and grandmother to two grandchildren. I am a retired public school teacher. At this time I have no pets of my own, but we are fostering my son's two cats because he can't have them with him at this time.
My "attic" is my crazy brain. So I invite you to stop by and come on up into the attic. There are cobwebs and dust up there, but don't let that scare you away! I really can have some decent thoughts from time to time, and i can be lot of fun sometimes.