Friday, February 27, 2009

"I Have To Clean My Sock Drawer"

I received this as an email from one of my long-time friends, and it reaffirmed my mantra of "Life is too short, so enjoy it while you can!". It does make you stop and think about all the ridiculous reasons we "put life off".


Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in a half hour?" She would gas up and stammer, "I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain." And my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

"We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained." "We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet". "We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college"...

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on," and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."

When anyone calls my "seize the moment" friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Roller blades, or jump on the next plane to a new adventure.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. So, the other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker cone. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to......not something on your SHOULD DO list.. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will understand why I sent this to you.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butter fly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask "How are you?" do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, "We'll do it tomorrow" and in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just called to say "Hi"?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift ....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over. Show your friends how much you care.

To those I have sent this to.... I cherish our friendship and appreciate all you do.

"Life may not be the party we hoped for... but while we are here we might as well dance."

Have a great weekend - and get out there and enjoy life!


Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Hard To Believe...

It was one year ago today that my family moved my Mom into the Assisted Living Facility (ALF)...I can't believe it's been a whole year. Here is my recollection of that day:

It was a nasty rainy Wednesday, the day before Valentine's Day. It was going to be my job to get my Mom out of the house so that the rest of the family could move her personal belongings out of the house and over to the ALF. I dropped Pal off at school and then headed down to their house. I was early so I stopped at my sister's house, where the others were meeting to wait for me to leave with Mom. Our nerves were shot and all of us were anxious to get the whole thing overwith. If you've never dealt with someone who has Alzheimer's, count yourself lucky. On any given day she could be totally oblivious to what was going on, or she could be really alert and very, very suspicious. I was scared it was going to be the latter.

I left my sister's and went over to Mom & Dad's house. Dad was also very keyed up and nervous, and was talking too much. I asked Mom if she wanted to go to the Mall (her usual favorite place) and her first answer was, "No, not today." I waited a heartbeat and said "Hey, let's go to the Mall!" She looked at my Dad and said "Got any money?" We laughed, and Dad went to get her some money. For some reason, while he was upstairs he decided to look in her room and there was money on her bureau so he took it...when he came down he gave her $60.00, and then she decided to go back upstairs to look for HER money! When she couldn't find it she got very frustrated! I just told her to look for it later, and off we went.

I had about 4 hours I needed to kill, some of which we would spend at lunch, so I drove very slowly to the Mall. We took our time browsing around the stores, but because of her memory impairment, she has really lost the ability to "shop" - something she had gotten very good at in her later years. I did my best to keep her interested in the merchandise, but she just followed me around like she was waiting for ME to find something to buy! I am SO not a shopper, but I had to pretend that day. The best place I found to take her was the "Build-A-Bear Workshop"! This entertained her for a very long time - she loved watching the little kids picking out their animals and she was fascinated by the stuffing machine! Who woulda thunk it?!?! I bought something small in every store we went in, just to kill time. It felt like an eternity.

Finally it was time to leave the Mall and meet my brother for lunch. I called him when we were leaving the Mall and he said that everything was moved and that the girls (my sisters and nieces) were just setting up the apartment. He met us at the restaurant which was only a few blocks down from the ALF. This was a nice change, because it gets very tiring trying to keep up the conversation when the person you are talking to can't remember anything! The funny thing that happened as soon as we sat down, was the waiter coming over to ask us if we would like something to drink. My Mom, who is an alcoholic, ordered wine. Since it was only 12:00 we suggested that she not have a drink (plus the ALF told us NOT to let her have anything to drink before she came there). She got really mad at both of us and insisted on getting the wine. The poor waiter - he was frozen in place with his eyes darting back and forth between her and us! We gave him the O.K. and he walked away. Not even 10 seconds went by and my brother excused himself to go to the "bathroom"...he went to find the waiter to tell him NOT to bring her wine, and when he couldn't find him immediately ~ he!!! I would have loved to see that waiters face when my brother came up to him in the kitchen!! He explained that she was not to consume alcohol, and asked him to give her cranberry juice with a splash of Sprite in it. When the waiter brought the drinks, she never missed a beat and sipped her "wine" happily.

We made lunch last as long as humanly possible (the waiter had caught on by now...!) and even ordered dessert. When we were ready to leave the restaurant, my brother went out and called my sisters to let them know we were on our way and that they should clear out. Like I said, the restaurant was only a few blocks away on the same street. As we were pulling up to the curb, my heart was beating so fast I thought everyone could hear it. I thought for sure that she would see the outdoor signs that say "Assisted Living - with a special neighborhood for the memory impaired" and she would get suspicious. We had already avoided a few suspicious moments during lunch when she noticed us exchanging glances or checking our watches. But, God was smart that day because He sent us the BEST weather possible - torrential rain! My brother popped open a nice big golf umbrella and we ducked for cover - cleverly shielding her face from the big wooden signs!

Once inside, she asked us "What are we doing here?" Our first lie - well thought out and planned - was to tell her we were at a hotel because "Dad called and said there is no heat at their house, and it's too cold to stay there". We had previously hinted around to this "lie" - when she asked why my brother was around to meet us for lunch, I told her that it was because he had been at their house trying to help my Dad with a heating problem. She didn't remember any of this when we were telling her about being at the "hotel". But she wasn't suspicious, which was a huge relief to both of us.

We got off the elevator and turned immediately toward her room. When we walked in, she looked at her bed and said, "Oh, I have that same bedspread at home!" The staff was actually really good, they didn't all come in at once. First the floor coordinator came in and introduced herself and told my Mom that if there was anything she wanted or needed, to let any member of the staff know. Then the woman who we had dealt with from the beginning came in to take Mom's picture (for her medicine lock-box) and Mom posed nicely for her! She said "Wow, they treat you like royalty around here!" The next uncomfortable moment came when Mom noticed some of HER stuff in the apartment - like her jewelry armoire. She got mad, saying "What right did you have to take that out of my house?" Our only answer was "Well, we thought you'd like to have some of your own things here while you stay here." She just "humphed" and forgot all about it a minute later. The floor coordinator came back in with some coffee for my Mom, so my brother and I told my Mom that it was time for us to get going, that we both had to go pick up our kids from school. Mom seemed totally fine with this and we left her there with the floor coordinator.

Could it really have gone that smoothly?

We were in shock. We both hugged and cried once we were back outside. It was scary as hell, but it was the right thing to do. She would be safe there, and well cared for (or so we thought at that time, but that's a different story altogether!).

We went back to my sister's house where everyone was waiting for us to tell them how it went. We just sat around in amazement that it went so easily. We were so thankful but emotionally spent. We decided to go back to my Mom & Dad's house to clean up Mom's room a little (they had left in a hurry to get her things to the ALF so there was stuff everywhere). After a couple of hours of going through her belongings, it was very evident that the day had taken quite a toll on my Dad. He was tired and wanted us to leave so he could go to bed. My brother's wife had very thoughtfully made dinner for all of us and so we headed up to their house, except Dad who stayed home to go to bed. We spent the rest of that evening looking through old pictures that we found in my Mom's room.

At the end of the night as we were all leaving my brother's, we all hugged in one big circle and thanked God that we had each other to get through all of this. It was a beautiful moment.

So, after one year and many emotions later, my Mom is happily situated in a nursing home...she is much better off there than where we started off at the ALF, but I wouldn't trade that experience on that day one year ago, because it was the right thing for her, and us, at the time.

She is still safe and well cared for. And that is why we can all sleep at night.

Have a great weekend -


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

25 Things You Didn't Know About Me

In light of the recent Facebook craze, I decided to post my "25 Random Things You Didn't Know About Me" here too. Of course, if you are reading this, then #6 is something you DID already know!

And in my opinion, if you are not on Facebook, then you should be. You are missing out on a great way to keep in touch with people. I have found old friends as well as current friends, family members I didn't even know existed, and I've realized that I could probably like my high school classmates NOW more than THEN!

So, here is my list of 25 Things. Enjoy!

1. I snore.
2. I can play the piano by ear (Not WITH my ear. You get the drift.)
3. I can write poetry, a gift I inherited from my Mom and her Dad.
4. I have ADD (self diagnosed). What were we just talking about??? LOL
5. I am (or was) terrified of the Dentist, and used to pass out in the chair.
6. I have a blog.
7. I hate to disappoint ANYBODY.
8. I went to my first wake/funeral when I was 14 - my friend's Dad died, and I very possibly was the last person to see or talk to him alive.
9. I am slightly OCD - I hate to leave the house if my bed isn't made, there are dishes in the sink or the pillows on the couch aren't properly arranged....
10. I am the youngest of 5 children - my sisters are 13, 12 & 11 years older, and my brother is 4.5 years older...something I like to remind them of frequently.
11. I am the youngest of 18 cousins on my Mom's side, and second-to-youngest of 14 on my Dad's.
12. I am comfortable in my own skin. (I just want there to be LESS of it!!!) LOL
13. One goal is to travel to all 50 U.S. states before I die. I've already been to at least 13.
14. I have road rage, and think nobody else knows how to drive.
15. My favorite thing to drink is iced tea or iced coffee.
16. The last time I was drunk was March 10, 1995. I fell in Fanueil Hall and broke my ankle, but went home to bed without even knowing (or feeling) it. I sure felt it the next morning....along with a nasty hangover.
17. I skeeve mold. Is skeeve a word?
18. I love to read, mostly fiction. LOVED Harry Potter!
19. I was a Youth Minister for almost 10 years. I still miss my "kids".
20. I think my husband is one of the funniest people I know.
21. My husband and I have known each other since we were 12. I have a picture to prove it.
22. My favorite smell in the whole world is my son after a shower.
23. I love reality TV.
24. I can't go to the movies without dozing off at least once.
25. My all-time favorite show was Beverly Hills, 90210.

Now make your own list and send it to me, or post it on comments! It's fun.

Have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy 10th Birthday, "A"

You'll have to forgive all these birthday posts - my family is busy at this time of year!

So, today is my niece A's 10th Birthday. She is my Godchild and the second born of my brother and his wife. Everyone tells me how much she looks like I did at her age. It's kind of cool for me, because it's like being able to look into your past. Just this past Sunday my brother said that he thinks A's personality might be bigger than mine was (and that is a serious undertaking!!!). A is not afraid to get up in front of everyone and sing, dance or talk. Last Summer she attended a drama camp and was given the longest speaking part - and she nailed it! She definitely likes to be in control and when she was really little (probably about 3) she spent half of her dance recital telling the other kids where they were supposed to be on the stage!!! It's good to know that she will probably never take crap from anyone - you go girl!

My son was born 7 months after A, and sometimes I feel that I didn't get to spend as much one-on-one time with A as I did with the other kids. It's good that her and Pal get along, and because they are similar ages they are always together at family parties. She likes to come to our camper for a weekend in the Summer and I'm glad to have that time to spend with her. That means a lot to me.

One of the funniest and cutest memory of A is from the day we brought Pal home from the hospital. She was sitting on my mother's lap and my niece, K2 (you haven't met her yet because her birthday isn't until May!!!) was sitting on the floor in front of my mother. K2 leaned up to A for a "kiss" and A grabbed K2's head with both hands and laid a wet one on her cheek!! It didn't stop there - K2 kept leaning in for more and A was more than happy to oblige! It was so cute, and we have it on video.

My hope for A is that she will blow this world away with her multiple talents and follow those dreams as far as they will take her. But my biggest hope is that we will always be close.

Happy 10th Birthday, A. I love you. You big ham.