Archive for November, 2006


I met my new grandson today. He was born on Monday of this week, and one of the many, many things I’m thankful for is that he didn’t choose the middle of Thanksgiving dinner to make his entrance. I’m told, by his father, that my daughter went into labor at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, and gave birth in the back of an ambulance at 2:00 a.m, right outside Westbrook High School, on the way to the hospital in Portland (ME). “So what goes on his birth certificate?” I asked. “Westbrook, or ‘the back of Fire and Rescue Ambulance #1’?” (Portland — the hospital of record.)

He is a pretty placid kid, in that at four days old, he does nothing but sleep and eat. The only time he makes his discomfort known is when they are changing him — apparently, he hates to be cold, and face it, a wet diaper is pretty cold, till you get a nice dry one on (especially in Maine in November). However, when he is awake, he seems to do a lot of frowning and making little squeaks and grunts that indicate he’s trying to decide whether to make a Statement about current conditions.

My daughter blogs about both writing (her profession) and family life. Her oldest son has been dubbed “Hamlet,” for reasons of privacy, and also, as she said, because “his tantrums are positively Shakespearean.” We’ve recently been trying to decide on names for Son #2. Banquo? MacDuff? Jaques, from “As You Like It”? Today, the baby’s father grinned and said, “I think we should just call him Grumpy.” I have a horrible feeling that it will stick.

Welcome to your weird family, Grumpy! 😉

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One. Word.

Cribbed from Philippa:

One word, and only one word, so here goes!

Yourself: musical
Your partner: loyal
Your hair: red(dish)
Your Mother: Catholic
Your Father: dead
Your Favorite Item: wool
Your dream last night: none
Your Favorite Drink: cawfy! (That’s “coffee” in Brooklynese)
Your Dream Car: Mini
Your Dream Home: cottage
The Room You Are In: office
Your Ex: none
Your fear: heights
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? here
Who you hung out with last night: family 😀
What You’re Not: organized
Muffins: corn
One of Your Wish List Items: floorstand
Time: whazzat?
The Last Thing You Did: shopped
What You Are Wearing: conservative
Your favorite weather: rain
Your Favorite Book: Horologion
Last thing you ate: muffin
Your Life: full
Your mood: peaceful
Your Best Friends: phenomenal!
What are you thinking about right now: husband
Your car: blue
What are you doing at the moment: blogging
Your summer: yecch!
Relationship status: married
What is on your tv: music
What is the weather like: cold
When is the last time you laughed: yesterday

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That’s what dear old’s condition is called.

I went to the rehab center to see him, and on my way to his room stopped at the nurses’ station to talk to someone. Yesterday when I was there, one of the nurses had asked me if he had ever seemed “confused” to us while he lived with us, and I said, “Not that I can recall.” Today, of course, I said, “We had evidence of that last night.” She nodded and said, “Good, I’m glad it wasn’t just me,” and went on to explain that dear old has had Jekyll-and-Hyde episodes: “One minute he’s a very sweet old man, the next he’s confused, and a little while later he’s downright nasty.” Yep!

“Ask him,” she said, “if he remembers calling you last night. I bet he doesn’t.” And sure enough, he didn’t! Apparently very old people get this thing called “sundowning,” where they get phenomenally confused about everything in life once the sun goes down; and while the sun is up, they are their normal, rational selves. I’d heard of this, but hadn’t realized it was kicking in with dear old.

Now I’m glad I kept my patience, and kept my visit with him friendly. Glory to God for granting me that patience, and the visit with the nurse beforehand; but these doctors, who keep insisting that living into your nineties is a good thing….!!!!!

When I got home, I called dh at work and told him the nurse said not to bother visiting his father, because dear old won’t remember it. Dh was shocked, to say the least, but yeah, that’s consistent with sundowning, too. Oh, and it’s exacerbated by alcohol — the smile on her face when I told her about the phone call, and his “tippling” habits (I wish it were only tippling!) was priceless. I feel bad for dh, but at least we know dear old really isn’t playing with a full deck.

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Brought Up on Charges

At least, that’s what Dear Old Dad is threatening to do to dh and me. Why? Because his son didn’t visit him last night.

The day after my last post, we went to church. Now, dear old, being 94, doesn’t see the need to go to church anymore, since he went for the first 90 years of his life (doesn’t seem to have done much good), so he was planning to stay home. Well, since he can’t stay home by himself, we got someone in from a local organization to stay with him. He was NOT happy. Didn’t see why he couldn’t stay by himself. (Possibly because on Saturday evening, he got panicky when dh was working in the cellar and I was working in the office, and he thought we had left him alone???)

So the next day, after we get back from church, dear old decides to take himself for a walk. The conversation went like this: “I WANNA GO FOR A WALK!” “OK, let me get the cars washed and I’ll take you.” “I WANNA GO BY MYSELF!” “OK, but just stay in the driveway.” So dh helps dear old down the steps — he can’t get down steps by himself — comes back into the house to get a pail of water to wash the cars, and by the time he’s back outside, dear old is halfway down the block.

Well, you know the rest. He turned to come back, and on his way back, fell. It was plain he couldn’t move his left leg, so we called the EMTs, and they came and assessed him. He about had them convinced it was just sciatica when they asked him if he could stand on the leg, and he said No; so they took him to the emergency room, where, you guessed it, an x-ray showed he had broken a hip.

He spent all last week in the hospital, and dh worked from home half days so he could concentrate on getting dear old’s finances in order, in case we needed to pay for any of his care (also so that we could afford assisted living for him!). The last couple of days, dear old was getting quite cantankerous about being there; he’d had enough, and wanted to come home. Instead, he went to a rehab facility on Sunday.

We visited him there both Sunday and Monday, but yesterday dh went back to work in Boston, and I went to the rehab facility by myself to see the social worker in charge of dear old’s case — there were a couple of things I thought she should know about his condition, among them the fact that we were considering assisted living once he’s out of rehab. When she heard what dh’s ghastly hours were, she said he shouldn’t bother coming to visit his father on the days when he works in Boston, since dear old has plenty of company and is quite wiped out by his physical therapy. (We could see that!)

So last night, at 9:00 p.m., we’re getting ready for bed and the phone rings. It’s dear old, threatening to swear out an arrest warrant on us for “abandonment.” Let’s see, dh gets home at 7:00 p.m., still has to have his dinner and wind down from the day, but is that a good enough reason to just stay home and RELAX?!?!?! Evidently not! I plan to take myself off to the rehab center today, tell one of the nurses, or maybe the social worker, about this latest development, and see if they will support my telling off dear old, in no uncertain terms.

It feels lousy to do such a thing. He’s old. He’s alone. We’re his only family, besides his grandkids. (“And whose fault’s that?” whispers my baser self.) But I’m sorry — when you live with other people, consideration all around is pretty basic, even at 94.

(An amusing aside: At one point, a Catholic priest came to visit dear old in the hospital. He supported dear old’s decision not to attend Mass anymore. This past Sunday, meanwhile, my Orthodox priest gave a sermon: “Whether you’re 16 or 86 — or 96 — you still have to struggle. The spiritual struggle is part of our salvation.” Right now, I’m struggling not to wring dear old’s neck!)

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When I’m 94

The Beatles had a great tune called, “When I’m 64,” to which I can’t remember all the lyrics, mostly because the year it came out, I was occupied with wedding preparations, and 64 seemed like the back side of the moon. Now that it’s imminent, well….

Dear old Dad has been with us for two weeks now, and this morning was about typical: DH is making coffee and we’re chatting quietly when suddenly we hear a roar: “I NEED A SHOWER!” This is supposed to be the signal for DH to drop everything and going rushing in to help his father, not the easiest thing in the world when you are making brewed coffee and in the middle of counting out the appropriate number of scoops. “JUST A MINUTE,” yells back DH. (We have to yell because dear old is deaf, and won’t wear a hearing aid.) “HELP ME WITH THE SHOWER!” “IN A MINUTE!” Coffee counted out, DH runs to the bathroom to help dear old into the shower, explain to him — yet again — how to turn on the hot and cold water, and where the grab bar is.

Then breakfast. He shuffles out, clean and spruce, sits down, and starts worrying about mail that came for him yesterday. Now, at the same time, he also wants his juice, his oatmeal, his bread and peanut butter, and his coffee, in that order — but he wants us to see to his bills, too. Right now. The Boss (me) steps in: “JIM IS MAKING BREAKFAST. WE WILL WORRY ABOUT BILLS AFTER BREAKFAST.” “OK,” he mutters, and subsides.

We are hoping to take him with us later today while we shop for a new sofa. My brother has offered to take our old sofa for his son, newly graduated from college and in need of “real” furniture, and we had decided, while I was convalescing, to get a new sofa; dear old’s arrival put a crimp in those plans, but since my brother is coming to collect our sofa on Thursday or Friday, we kind of need something to put in its place. So shopping with dear old in tow is something of a necessity, since we both need to be comfortable with this thing.

We are also hoping to hold off putting dear old into assisted living till sometime after Christmas. It doesn’t seem fair to move him up here and toss him into a home just before the holidays. But if we ever doubted it before, today’s episode has made it crystal clear that he really needs assisted living; I don’t have the physical strength to deal with his frailties, and DH can’t be home all the time.

And meanwhile, we are hoping that we can survive dear old’s arrival into our household. He really is as demanding as a three-year-old, and as needy as a three-year-old, but without the resources to entertain himself for any length of time. Yesterday he was complaining to DH that he needs to get out more often. (He was upset that I wouldn’t take him grocery shopping with me.) But when they went for a walk, 2/10 of a mile down to the post office, DH found that he had to hold the old man up on the way back. I can picture me struggling with groceries, a cart, and holding up at 94-year-old grown man who’s taller than me.

Anyway, assuming we survive this Presence in our household — not all caregivers do — we have also begun to take steps towards getting long-term care insurance. I hope never to need it; but if I do, I don’t want to do this to my children. Neither, bless him, does DH.

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…are in bold face type. Swiped this from Philippa. I hate swiping stuff, but when it’s this good, how can I resist?

What have you done? Or not, as the case may be?
01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain (if you count the gondola car to the top of the Zugspitze….)
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula.
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you’ and meant it!
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s nappy
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Drunk champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse.
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Scored a winning goal
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Visited all 5 continents
40. Taken care of someone who was drunk
41. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
42. Watched wild whales
43. Stolen a sign
44. Backpacked 4
5. Taken a road-trip
46. Gone rock climbing
48. Midnight walk on the beach
49. Gone sky diving
50. Taken a train through Europe
51. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
52. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them
53. Milked a cow
54. Alphabetized your CDs
55. Sung karaoke
56. Lounged around in bed all day
57. Gone scuba diving
58. Kissed in the rain
59. Gone to a drive-in theatre
60. Started a business
61. Taken a martial arts class
62. Been in a movie (not to my knowledge, but having worked in NYC, it’s possible I was in one a hundred years ago without knowing it….)
63. Crashed a party
64. Gone without food for 5 days
65. Gotten a tattoo
66. Got flowers for no reason
67. Performed on stage
68. Been to Las Vegas
69. Recorded music
70. Eaten shark
71. Buried one/both of your parents.
72. Been on a cruise ship
73. Spoken more than one language fluently
74. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
75. Walked a famous bridge
76. Had plastic surgery
77. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
78. Wrote articles for a large publication.
77. Tried to lose weight seriously
79. Piloted an airplane
80. Petted a stingray.
81. Broken someone’s heart
82. Broken a bone
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Parasailed
86. Skipped all your school reunions (not, I hasten to add, by choice — they all took place around family events)
87. Shaved your head
88. Caused a car accident
89. Pretended to be “sick” (who’s pretending? I call it “sick and tired leave”)
90. Swam in the Pacific Ocean
91. Saved someone’s life.
92. Fainted
93. Been in the room while someone is giving birth
94. Hitchhiked
95. Adopted a child
96. Been caught daydreaming
97. Been to the Painted Desert
98. Called off a wedding engagement
99. Donated your blood
100. Become a follower of Jesus Christ

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