Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Friday, August 30, 2013

Through My Caregiver Eyes - Memories

This is the latest entry in a continuing series called 
Through My Caregiver Eyes.  
The full story can be found under the label "Through My Caregiver Eyes."
 (Label Section to the right of my blog posts.)  

My mom is 87 years old and is in Assisted Living. 
The rocky path from independence to living with me and finally to Assisted Living
 is documented in this series.  
While our journey together is peppered with joy-filled moments,
 it is mostly losses for her and sadness for me. 
For those of you who are caregivers of elderly loved ones, 
you may see yourself in my story.

Memories are intangible things that can make life worth living, and at other times, sad to recall. Memories can fade and be lost, and in the elderly, sometimes the loss is permanent.  I believe it is the loss of memories that is the cruelest loss of all in aging.

I got the idea to recover some of mom's happy memories by bringing one of her travel albums with me on a recent visit.  The album I selected was from May 1990 when she traveled in Europe.  It was filled her typed and handwritten notes of scenes and the people pictured.  I thought she had done an excellent job of documenting the trip and it might be fun for her to see it again.

She was initially happy to see the book - recognized the cover right away.  She seemed surprised to see her own handwriting - recognized it as hers - she said it looked like my handwriting.  I guess it does.

It made me happy to watch her page slowly through the book.  She was quiet, however, and did not make many comments.  I asked if she recognized any of the places and people.  She said, "some" ... and that was all.  It was the first sign that maybe some memories of this happy time were lost.  I felt a little saddness at that thought.

At times a small smile graced her lips - I assumed she recognized a scene or a person - maybe one of the pictures prompted another memory.  She did mention the name of the man who led the tours - so she did seem to connect with the images.

Then she suddenly turned to me and said, "This is your book, right?  There are some nice pictures of you in here."  No ... no pictures of me. The book was entirely of her travels.  Later it occurred to me that she was seeing pictures of a much younger self.  We are always told how much we look alike.  I guess she got confused. Another little red flag on memory lane.

She reached the end and closed the book, leaning back in her chair and closing her eyes.  After a bit she mentioned that she did travel a lot at one time. But 1990 was a very long time ago. The comment seemed like simple confirmation of what the book represented.  She sat quitely some time.

It was hard to tell how these pictures impacted her.  Did they make her sad at the passage of so much time?   Did it confirm that some of her memories were lost because she couldn't recognize some of the images from her book?  Was she just reflective?  I will never know because mom finds it hard to put her thoughts and feelings into words at this point.

I hoped she would keep the book with her for a few days to enjoy and remember.  But she clearly wanted me to take the book back home that day.  She said she was glad that I brought it, but she would not keep it with her.

My heart hoped she had a few moments of happiness paging through the photo album.  But the small voice of my mind wonders if these pictures had another unpredictable outcome.

Memories are fragile things.

Handle with care.

Retired Knitter
Daughter and Caregiver

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


We are owned by 2 cats.  Our two boys are "cat-cats," not "dog-cats".  Over 40+ years we have had cats that acted more like dogs. We assumed that all cats were dog-like.

How can two reasonably intelligent and educated people be so wrong!

We spare no expense for our four legged family.
  Soap box comments aside,
 I strongly believe that if you can't be a responsible, caring, loving pet mom or dad,
 you shouldn't have the privilege of being owned by pets. 
(please don't comment if you feel other wise)
AND if you mistreat them,
 you should have the word "Scum" tattooed to your forehead
 so that we can easily identify you!
  Slipped briefly onto my soap box.
  Stepping down now.

Today was V-Day ... Vet Day!  We kept it a secret as long as possible from the participants.  But at some point the jig is up - and V-Day becomes common knowledge.
Our story starts with the two very fancy travel cases on wheels that we have for these yearly trips to the vet.  They were pricey, BUT they are worth every single penny.  The cats seem calmer while traveling and it is easier on our aging backs.

It also allows us to make a snooty entrance into the vet's waiting room - making a positive impression by looking spiffy, calm, cool, collected and blood free.  We always get comments on the cases.

Money well spent, I tell you!

But loading our boys into the cases at home can be tricky!  We haven't totally mastered that yet.

The first cat is usually easy.  This time the first cat was Wally.  We pick him up, he is happy, purring ensues, and then ... plop ... we drop him into the case and zip him in.  Easy, peasy.  We are feeling masterful and in charge at that point.  Then Wally yowls a long loud cry, raising the alarm for his brother, Max, who gets the message with lightening speed and dives under the bed. (And it makes no difference who is picked up first.  They are brothers.  They work as a team in crisis situations.)


Now our focus is Max under the bed. We begin with softly worded cajoling (which never works, by the way), and then we move on to the "cookie technique" - cookies placed artfully in a line leading out from under the bed (which worked exactly one time 6 years ago and never since), and then the "catnip offering" which he dearly loves (making him totally manic if he imbibes, but on V-Day - he doesn't.)  We are finally reduced to the "broom technique" - sweeping it against his body to push him out where we can grab him (picture two 66-67 year old codgers laying on the floor beside the bed - one codger has markedly reduced vision - an elephant could pass by and he might miss it - the other is swearing mightily - totally annoyed at how dirty it is under our bed.)

Really, it is not one of our finer moments!

At some point, however, we succeed - but not without many swear words and sweat!

The trip by car it uneventful ... if you agree that pitiful cries from the back seat and cat drool (due to motion sickness) are "uneventful."

The vet's exam is also fairly quiet.  The cats are docile making us look totally ridiculous as we stand there looking damp, layered with cat hair and carpet fuzz.  I guess the vet has seen worse.

It is only once the vet take the cats to the back lab for blood work, urine samples, shots and nail trimming that the true state of affairs become evident.

I mean, after all, imagine just how much fun it must be to take urine from a cat.  For example this time we had this scenario:  the technician returned with Max after the visit to the lab using one hand to wipe the side of her face.  I was immediately worried.  There didn't appear to be any scratches or blood.  She said things got kind of exciting in the lab.  While preparing to retrieve some urine (don't ask how they do that),  Max started to pee all over the place.  I had visions of a vet tech holding sample cup here and there - moving left and right - trying to catch the urine stream before it hit the ground.  What she was wiping off her face was cat urine.

Some people are just not paid enough for what they do!!

The return trip is always quiet.  The cats are exhausted and we much poorer!

And every year on the return trip home I have the same nagging thoughts ... will they remember us when we come next year?   ... do we need to change our names?   ... is there any chance that there will be new staff who don't know us?  After all, those fancy travel cases can carry you only so far in the "positive impression" department.

We know things could be worse.  Been there - done that!  Many years ago we had a cat named Alex whose chart was covered in very big red ink letters with stars and arrows - inside and out - pointing to one over-riding message.

Release cat to owners
totally recovered from anesthesia.

Yes, Alex had issues!

The vet frequently asked how we were able to manage a difficult cat like this at home.  He cautioned us that often cats with this kind of extreme behavior are euthanized.  I sincerely doubt he believed us when we told him that the cat was a cream puff at home. Oh well.  I prefer to think that Alex was just misunderstood.

Rest in peace dear Alex.  We miss you.

August 2013 is now under our belts.  No worries until August 2014.

And between now and next V-Day I reaaallly need to clean under our bed!!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pithy and Inspiring!

I was visiting at a blog called Great Balls of Wool (shocking I know - visiting a web site that features wool - nuts - I wish I had thought of that title myself), and I made a REAL shocking discovery.

While perusing her blog list of blogs she follows, I saw my blog listed!  Not listed near the top of the list that was updated 2 hours ago.  Not near the middle of the list that was updated 2 weeks ago.  I was infamously located in the 4 week-ago section.

Balderdash!  Stupid BlogSpot is counting wrong. Then I visited Spinning First.  Her blog said the same thing?


Is that possible?
  I said nothing for four whole weeks?
  Did I black out?
  Did I have a four week out-of-body experience - and that person didn't blog?
Did I time travel?  

I quickly visited my own blog in total disbelief.   Cripes!  July 28th housed my last sterling words of wisdom - and what were those words??  "Old School Blogging" where I participated in a blog prompt event at Paula's Place - about blogging.  It was a fun event, but realllllly!  Should those be the last words on my blog?

Most definitely not!

If I were going to end it all ... it would look very different.

I would take a bow, have a big splashy ending, make a long speech (like I am doing now), thank all the "little people" (and since this is an independent effort - I guess the little people would be my imaginary friends - there, I said it!),  and wish everyone well!  Maybe blow a kiss or something!

So I am not doing any of that ... but I am blathering on about not blogging ... again!


So here are some true statements:

  • During my black out, other life, time travel (I like that possibility best), I was visiting the blogs of others.  You guys rock!
  • I will not be giving up blogging (even if you begged.)
  • I will not be blogging every day (or every week apparently.)
  • I will be happy with my episodic writing ventures - and not obsessed with blogging just for blogging sake (like I am doing now!)
  • I have pictures of stuff that was planned for the blog - so what else will I do with those images if I don't blog?  (Sorry, that was a question - not a statement.  But I digress.)

I will be back in the next day or so with something pithy and inspiring.

 (Ok, maybe just pithy, as I cannot be inspiring on command.)
(Maybe just wordy as I am not sure what pithy means.)

I will be back in the next day or so with something wordy!
There ... that sounds right!

Wordy Blogger's Note:  Be sure to visit the blogs I have linked.  Paula is on blog-break and will be back.  But her story of caring for her dying husband is at times intense, touching, gritty and real.  Check out her posting history.

Wordy Blogger's Second Note:  Now I am at the top of everyone's blog list!  Ha!

Wordy Blogger's Third Note:  Well, maybe not "everyone's" list! I am pretty sure I am not on President Obama's list ... well, mostly sure!!