Sunday, May 7, 2017

My Mother's Purse

Yesterday was a sad day in the journey of taking care of my mother.   I cleaned out some clothes from her closet and found her purse in a drawer.  I asked the beloved care provider at the home about the purse and she confirmed that mom does not use it or look for it any longer.

A little over a year ago, my Dad left this planet and with him, the best medicine my mom ever had for her dementia.  They were a brain trust!  He talked to her and oriented her to the day's events and she fixed him food and cared for him like no other.

My parents were together for 50+ years. They blended two broken families crippled by the loss of a parent,  into one family and raised 10 kids. They worked together selling medical books, a job my mom took over when my dad "retired" stopped officially working. She was 16 years younger than my dad and the love of his life.  She was smart, capable, organized and had a successful professional career as a book salesman and  regional manager, that started when I (her baby) was in high school.

Twenty two years ago when we invited my parents to move out to some land and live next to us, we promised to take care of them as they aged.  I had no idea what we were promising.  My help which started out with taking care of their bills and travel arrangements, grew to running a staff of five and being "on call" at all hours to assist my parents with whatever they needed.

One of my favorite examples of this is the time they called me to tell me the phone wasn't working. I questioned this, as I pointed out we were talking on the phone  at this very moment.  They insisted it was a miracle we were talking and most of the phones in the house were "going down".  I raced home to help rescue the sinking ship of phones.

Once Dad was gone, we moved Mom to a board and care facility with memory assistance. I visited often and took her out on the town for mexican food, church, manicures and hamburgers.  In the home she was always asking and looking for my dad, her purse and me.  A little over a year  has passed and my mom is slipping away without my dad's diligent reminders and frequent nagging.  She is more settled in the home, but she is too weak to take out on outings and no longer is looking for her purse.

It took me aback when I stumbled onto it in her drawer. I am thankful she is more settled at her facility, but sad she is not missing her purse in a strange way. Another piece of my mom slipping away.

I brought the purse home and it sat on my desk for a while. Then I forced myself to go through  it. It doesn't feel right to go through someone's purse before their body has left this planet. It dawned on me, I never pictured doing this unless I had said my goodbyes and attended her funeral. But this is not the case with dementia.  The standard rules do not apply.  I placed her wallet in the financial box I keep my parent's paperwork in, next to my dad's wallet. Again the strange feelings washed over me, for my Dad was physically gone, but my mom is still here.  I had an urge to put her wallet back together and place it in her purse and rush it back to her.  I pushed those urges away as I wiped away a tear.

My mom is leaving this planet slowly, painfully and ever so slightly every day.  Her grey curly hair and blue eyes are still with us, but her grasp on who she was is vanishing.  I am thankful she still recognizes me and can laugh at my silly antics, but the body that I visit holds just a whisper of my mother.

Her purse now sits by my door and I am thinking of taking it to the goodwill or other charity organization where I have deposited far too many of my parent's belongings.  The purse may have to wait and go back in my closet until my mother's body and mind are together once again some day in heaven.  Perhaps, Then and only then will I truly believe she doesn't need it anymore.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I am back.

I am back!  I have returned to my Blog after a long break.

I didn't intend to take such a break, it just seemed like Facebook stole my blog.  Then as human nature would have it, once some considerable time passed, I lost my account info.

A lot has changed in the seven years since my last post.  

My Artist is in college working on his multi-media production degree.

My Bookworm is finishing up her senior year in high school and will be leaving the nest this fall to study chemical engineering.

My father passed away last year a few months after celebrating his 100th birthday.

My love and I keep carrying on, working in the vineyard and working at our jobs.

I will once again try to capture the moments of our lives and work on the craft of writing.

Bookworm and Artist

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Harvest 2009

A feeling of familiarity washed over me this year at harvest time. Now in our fifth harvest, everyone knows the rhythm and routine of the activities. The guys are in the vineyard first as I rise early to brew coffee and wake the kids. We all head out through a layer of early morning fog to greet the tractor and bins just starting to be filled with fruit. The kids join in with the picking crew and I start my routine of dumping bins. I check on all the workers, find the fullest picking bin, and exchange it for an empty so the crew can keep picking without interruption. This also provides my love with an even flow of fruit to sort and check. Moving through the vineyard, carefully gathering and switching full bins for empties, one by one I lift and dump the fruit.

This year my son’s friend and my niece joined in the fun. My niece tried out all the various jobs, but settled on working the large bins with my love for quality control. My daughter, son and his friend stayed on picking duty, and I continued my workout of dumping the little harvesting bins into the big ones. Our good friend and vineyard photographer captured our harvest through photos which is always appreciated and The local press came to film. My parents joined in as the harvest was finishing up.

I am thankful for another harvest and for the people who make it happen. Our harvest team encompasses an age range of 10 to 94. Being goal oriented, I love when all the fruit is delivered and there is a sense of completion to the growing season, but of course the work is never really done. Next week we will remove the netting and start to put the vineyard to bed for the winter.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wedding Bells

Last July I traveled to Texas to attend a niece's wedding. This niece was the flower girl in my own ceremony in 1991. I traveled by air with my daughter and parents in tow. Many from my big family made the trip. I have two siblings who live in Texas so we stayed with my sister. My brother, the father of the bride, had his hands full getting ready for the wedding.

We had 16 people staying in a five bedroom house and we used every inch of the floor plan! My daughter and I camped in the front living room with more female kins folk. It was wonderful to be with both of my sisters and all our girls (the sistercousins).

We were having fun shopping, doing nails and generally staying up way to late. We had several fashion shows trying to determine what to wear and what not to wear to the wedding.

The low point = 16 sleep deprived people in one house with a 4 cup coffee pot!

The high point = Watching my 94 year old father dance with my 10 year old daughter, (these two danced the most of any one that night.. the oldest and the youngest.)
Reflecting back on my own wedding 18 years ago. Witnessing my flower girl now a bride, make one of the biggest commitments in life.
My hope for her... that she will enjoy the journey of building a life together with her love as I have with mine.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Check Out Those Turtles!

On a trip south to meet some friends at the beach, we took a break at a favorite park in Santa Barbara. We were surprised to find so many turtles ...

My children who love to count things, counted 80 on one bank alone. I think there were hundreds in the whole pond. It reminded us of the turtle we found in our own pond.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Don't forget the plastic bags!"

Being a California girl, I love the beach. When we decided to move to the country and plant a vineyard, I was more than pleased to find a vineyard location not too far from the coast. I faithfully take my kids to the beach every summer. Unlike Southern California where I was raised, the summers on the central coast provide very cold water temps. The importance of wet suits for my kids was a reality I learned early on. The problem is getting wet suits on and off caused an enormous scene on the beach. I would struggle every summer getting my kids into the wetsuits. We provided endless entertainment for onlookers as I would pull, prod, peel and push trying to get my kids in their suits.

Finally frustrated with this this routine, I googled solutions for the problem. We stumbled onto the plastic bag solution. You place a standard plastic grocery bag on the child's foot and put their foot into the wetsuit, once the foot is in you slide the plastic bag out and off. Repeat this step for each foot and hand. Miraculously with the child's foot in the bag it glides easily through the wet suit.
Let a plastic bag give you a helping hand!

Now as we head out for the beach my children are usually yelling, "do you have the plastic bags?", "Mom get the plastic bags!".

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Frying Pan

A story from last summer's heat wave...
Each night for the past week I kept looking for my medium size frying pan.

I have been looking every where.
I checked with my mother, I scoured the cupboards, I started to believe I was loosing my mind. Where could it be?

Several nights I would end up cooking one item in the large frying pan then transferring the food, followed by washing the pan and cooking the next item in the same pan.

Fast forward to Friday night, I finally get around to asking my two guys about it. They quickly respond " oh yeah .. it's outside by the truck on the lid of the trashcan." My son continues "I was doing an experiment to see if I could cook an egg in the pan on the hood of the truck in the high heat and it cooked most of the way!"

Mystery solved and I am relieved I am not loosing my mind, at least not this week. Why both family members of the male persuasion thought it was perfectly acceptable to leave the pan outside by the garbage is beyond me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Artist Artist, how does your garden grow?

My son the artist made the decision in April to grow a garden. I take on a lot of activities on the property, but gardening is not one of them. I don't do much outside unless it is in the vineyard. He took the initiative, worked the dirt, found the pots, and planted the seeds. He even decorated with some extra stone and mulch scavenged from dad's piles.

The garden is doing very well and he faithfully waters it every day!