Are You My Mother…?

November 21, 2017 at 1:30 am | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | 3 Comments
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Yesterday I was told that she was so glad I was her Mom.

She told me how proud she was of me and my Father.

It wasn’t one of my Daughters who spoke those words, it was my Mom.

Any time lately when I call her, our conversations are nearly identical.  We’re caught in a hellish infinite time loop.

“Hello..?”, my Mom always answers the phone the same way, with trepidation and nervousness.

“Hi Mom, how are you?” My opening is always the same.

“Who is this?” She now sounds concerned.

“It’s me Mom, Kelly…”

“From where..?”

“Mom, I’m your Daughter…” I sigh, holding back tears because I don’t want her to hear me crying.

Sometimes hearing me say that phrase turns a switch on and she realizes who’s speaking.  Sometimes not.  It depends on the day, it depends on the last time I talked to her.

It’s so hard watching my Mom slip away from us, further each day.  My Mom’s Dementia is much worse than it was and she has been on a steady decline since the Summer, only a couple of months ago.

It seems lately that I’ve been getting a weekly phone call about her from the Nurses at her Long Term Care Facility.  Last week they found her sitting on the floor of her room, trying to rearrange the cables which lead to her bed.  She was confused and they weren’t sure if she fell, or just sat down. She’s been wheelchair-bound for the past two years since she fractured her Pelvis when a Resident pushed her while trying to gain access to my Mother’s room.

Two weeks ago, they called me to tell me they found her on the floor in her bathroom.  That time it was obvious that she fell and they were monitoring her for head injuries.

She thinks my Brother is my Husband, but she knows who my Husband is by sight – in person.  She doesn’t recognize people in photographs.  She doesn’t recognize herself when we show her a picture that we just took of all of us together.  “Who’s that?” she’ll point to herself, confused.

Sometimes she’s there.  I know she’s still in there somewhere, but the distance we have to travel to reach her gets farther every day.  She speaks to us in a combination of German and English, even though she hasn’t spoken more than a few words of German in thirty years.  That part of her Brain still functions sometimes. She doesn’t talk about Dad anymore.  He’s gone from her memory for the most part. I guess it’s a good thing that she doesn’t remember how much he suffered, the months before he passed.

We always fought from the time I was a teenager craving independence.  We were too much alike and butted heads often.  As the years went by and I had two wonderful girls, our weekly phone calls often ended up in yelling matches.  I would remind her of something coming up and she’d tell me that I never told her when I knew I did.  She would get insistent and stubborn and dig in her heels because I was wrong, I never mentioned that we were having Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or a Birthday, or my Sister invited them over when I had already asked them weeks before that.  It was frustrating.

When we would go visit, she would call afterwards and tell me that the girls must have broken the TV because she couldn’t get the clicker to work (she was pressing the wrong button).  “No one broke your TV…”, “Yes, they did…”, and so on.  When she moved into the Retirement home, the first few months we would have arguments about people coming into her room and moving things around when she wasn’t there, or taking her things.

She used to hoard items like there was a famine coming.  We cleaned out so many stale-dated products from her cupboards when they moved to an apartment, bagsful of flour and sugar.  She had a chest-freezer full of meat that had been there far too long.  Toilet paper and Paper Towels were another thing she stocked up on.  And still we’d fight.  It would infuriate me that I couldn’t get through to her about whatever it was that we were currently fighting about.

I had no idea at the time that it was a symptom of her disease.  Gradually I learned to have more patience with her.  Now she kicks her feet back and forth like a little kid when she’s happy.  She’s cute and silly and everything that you would expect from a three year old, except that she’s 92.

She hardly has any short term memory to speak of, that is if she can speak at all.  She babbles.  Sentences not quite forming from her lips, yet she knows what she wants to say – it’s just stuck in her head.  But she’s so happy to see us when we go to visit.  Lexy usually insists on going with us because she’s always been close to her Nanny.  Caity gets bored on the car and usually stays home.  Mom can’t remember their names, but refers to them as the Big One and the Little One.

It feels like I’m looking at my future and that is completely scary.  It’s depressing.  It’s maddening and there’s no hope for her except to keep visiting and calling and letting her know she’s not alone and she is loved.

I can’t sleep.  I toss and turn most nights that I’m not sedated.  Sometimes that doesn’t even help.  I no longer look forward to large gatherings full of food and family or parties or even getting dressed.  I know, it’s not about me, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  Some times you just need to wallow.

 

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Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic. Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

A Very, Merry, Un-Birthday to Me…

September 8, 2016 at 12:02 am | Posted in Birthdays, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap | Leave a comment
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Judging by the number of candles, this was my 5th Birthday cake – my Mom always added 1 extra for ‘good luck’

I miss my Dad.

I lost him a year ago, on my last Birthday.  That’s why I’ve decided not to ‘celebrate’ my Birthday this year – it’s too painful.  Not that I’ve ever really celebrated my Birthday in my Adult life.  I’ve never liked it, but was never sure why.  I think now that it may have been foreshadowing.

I had so many things I wanted to write about him.  I can’t see the point right now.  He’s gone and it still hurts, nothing will change that.  I’ve felt so lost this past year, not really knowing what I was doing – everything was just automatic.  It’s been very difficult getting over the grief.

My Dad and my Brother on his 2nd Birthday

My Dad and my Brother on his 2nd Birthday

I have so many good memories of him. From the many camping trips we took when I was a kid – my brother and I lying down in the back of our Zephyr Stationwagon – seatbelts were not mandatory in those days.  We drove through Hurricanes to reach the East Coast, only making it as far as Prince Edward Island.

My Dad's homework when he was first learning English

My Dad’s homework when he was first learning English – my favourite line “dont say ‘vicious’ when you mean ‘wishes’…”

Back in the early 1990s, my Dad took my Mom and I home to his native Denmark to reunite with family that he hadn’t seen since he moved to Canada in the 1950s.  I have such fond memories of that trip – Denmark is a beautiful country.  It was fascinating seeing the Viking Longships, meeting relatives made infamous in my Dad’s many stories and just taking in the breathtaking countryside.  I learned a lot about my Viking heritage during that trip and my Dad was so proud to show me his country.  He was a lousy translator though.  Apart from the fact that the Danish language had evolved in the 40 years since he had left, and he didn’t know a lot of the new words – his siblings found his old fashioned way of speaking charming – and amusing.  Dad would get so excited to tell me something one of my Uncles had said – they being of a generation that didn’t learn English in school (if they made it through school in the first place). He would repeat what they said in Danish back to me.  “Engelsk Dad, Engelsk” (English Dad, English) I would have to remind him.  Even funnier was when he would repeat what I said to my relatives in English instead of Danish – the looks they gave him because they didn’t understand what he said was priceless.

My command of the Danish language was less impressive than his.  I remember asking one of my Uncles if he wanted, what I thought was another beer – I held up a beer bottle and said to my Uncle “mere Ost?” (more cheese?) – No wonder he was confused.

In the Stocks again, Me at some place in Denmark that's hundreds of years old

In the Stocks again, Me at some place in Denmark that’s hundreds of years old

So tonight I think I will raise a glass of Tuborg in his honour and drink a toast to his memory.  Skål Dad, I miss you.

You Know You’ve Lost a Pet When …

March 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Posted in CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Food, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap | Leave a comment
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Damn this is hitting me hard … 😦

Before and After 5

See my post about Charlie’s quirks – https://doodlesmom.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/cats/

 

Another Goodbye…

February 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Posted in CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap | 1 Comment
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The house is so empty now.

I notice it especially after the girls have gone to bed.  There’s no one pestering me for a cuddle-on-demand, or hoping to benefit from my nightly Cheesies snack.

For those of you who are not cat, or pet-person, stop reading now.

IMG-20141115-00850We had to put our Male cat, Maverick (Mavvy) down on Saturday. He was battling end-stage Kidney Failure.  Our Vet told me, during one of our many talks about his declining health, that if he were Human, he would have been on Dialysis.  We are very familiar with Kidney Disease in our family, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  In December or January, the Vet told me that any measures we took at that point would only to be to prolong his life, not ‘fix’ it.  He was trying to be kind, knowing what Mavvy meant to me, to us – yet he had to drive home the message:  enjoy the time you have left with him.

We had 15 good years with our Cats. Mavvy was pre-deceased by his Sister Charlie in November.  Charlie had Cancer.  She had a large tumour in her abdomen, the size of a man’s fist.

We didn’t know, until it was too late.

With Charlie, it was obvious that it was her time to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

My Bobcat

My Bobcat

She loved us unconditionally.

Well, as much as a female cat can love anyone. She was unique. She was beautiful.  She was snarky.  She was my Bobcat.  If you entered the same room as her, she would let you know you were on her property.  She would make a sound, a trill, her version of ‘hey I’m here’.  She wanted affection on her own terms, she’d walk over for a pat on the head and scratch under the chin and after a few minutes, would go back to one of her favourite spots.

Alex would say, typical female – she would leave after she got what she wanted.

There was no question that it was Charlie’s time. She lost so much weight, didn’t want to eat and could hardly walk.  The option of Euthanasia wasn’t up for debate.  She was running out of time and we wanted to spare her a painful death.  She deserved that.

Mavvy though, was my boy through and through. I fell in love with him the minute I saw him.  He was all ears and paws and had the most mischievous look about him – I knew he was going to be trouble. We were only looking to get one cat, a female, but then they showed me her Brother and that was it for me.

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(L-R) Mavvy and Charlie about 8 weeks old

The two kittens spent the first few weeks sleeping on my neck or chest. Charlie gave this up after a while, I guess when she got too big or Mavvy claimed me all for himself.  The two of them were inseparable.  They would sleep together, play and groom each other.  They were crazy cats.

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught...

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught…

The first Christmas we had them, they were about 3 months old.  They thought the Christmas Tree made a great jungle gym.  They nearly knocked the tree down one day in their excited obsession playing with the ornaments.  It was years before I could place ornaments lower than three feet off the ground – first because of the cats, second because of my young girls.

The first time we had my Father-in-Law over for dinner, I remember being in the kitchen, fixing whatever it was we were having for dinner.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my FIL’s hand reach out and grab Charlie by the scruff of the neck.  She jumped up on the table and helped herself to the butter.

They were little stinkers.

Every night for 15 years, up until last Friday, Mavvy would try to lie on my chest. Most times he succeeded and I’d have to put the iPad aside because he wanted my attention.  Now.  He would rub his head against the side of my face in greeting as if to say “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii” – even if he just saw me a few minutes ago.  He would ‘bark’ to let us know he was absolutely starving and we had to feed him.  Both of those things he also liked to do at 4:30 in the morning.  He was such a pest.  His affection knew no bounds.  His soft purrs were always so comforting.

After we lost Charlie, we were afraid he would go into mourning for her. He seemed for the most part, to be fine.  We could tell he would call for her sometimes.  When he was in the basement he would make a cry that sounded like he was saying ‘Hel-lo’.  I think at first, he was calling her.  We noticed his coat was looking scruffy.  I thought it was because he wasn’t grooming himself – Charlie used to make sure he had a daily bath, and she was no longer there.

Just before Christmas, Mavvy got very sick – he couldn’t hold his head up on his own and other things. We thought that would be it for him, but we changed his diet and gave him vitamin supplements and he seemed to perk up and be his old self again.  His coat was soft and silky again, like it used to be.  It was encouraging.  We (I) thought his problems were in the past and he could have a few more years with us.

Shortly after that it seemed that he was becoming Diabetic again because he was suddenly ravenous, all the time. Even after we fed him, he wanted more food.  He was also drinking and peeing a lot.

Last week he started lying on the kitchen floor a lot. The floor is cool and both he and Charlie did this near the end.

Thursday night he refused his vitamins and didn’t want his canned food. He ate a bit of Kibble only.  He also spent a lot of time in the basement, sitting in the chair next to Alex’s computer that he and Charlie used to share at night.  He wouldn’t come when he was called.  He stopped pestering me for food.  He would lie in front of his water dish, even if he wasn’t drinking.  He just lay there. I was actually worried he would drown if he fell asleep.

Friday night when the girls and I came home, he wasn’t there to greet us. Normally he would be on the steps, waiting for us to get home.  Lexy found him in the chair in the basement.  The hiding instinct had begun.  His breathing was rapid.  He couldn’t get comfortable.  I didn’t know it at the time, but we had our last evening cuddle.

The next morning Lexy and I went to see my Mom. She surprisingly remembered Mavvy and asked how he was doing.  When we got home, his breathing was worse – fast but shallow and laboured.  He looked worn out.

We took Mavvy to the Vet (our regular Vet was closed so we had to go to the emergency Vet). She told us it was suspected he had fluid around his lungs which was causing him to have great difficulty breathing. The only way to know for sure was to have x-rays taken and tests run.  She said he may not survive the x-ray.  We made the decision to let him be with his Sister.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I feel guilty.  I hope it was the right decision.  I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

2015, My Annus Horribilis…

December 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 is not a year on which I shall look back fondly. In other words, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’, a horrible year.  I am very much looking forward to its conclusion.

There is an old superstition that you must take down your Christmas Tree before the last bell tolls on New Year’s Eve. Otherwise you will be dragging all your baggage and bad luck from this year into the new year.  I’m not taking any chances, my tree and all the trimmings are already down.

This has been the worst year of my life.  I’m not exaggerating.  It really sucked and seemed to be never-ending.  If it wasn’t for the love and support of my family, I’m not sure what I would do, I probably would have lost my mind by now.

In January, I lost a very dear friend of mine to Cancer.  Randy was also a work colleague and his presence in the office is sorrily missed.

Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

Randy Moreau – Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

It took longer than I expected to get over Randy’s passing, especially when there were so many reminders everywhere.  There were mementos on my desk and on my wall; passing his many offices within our work walls; having to look up something in old files that we worked on years ago – all brought back strong memories of him.  French Macaroons and expensive Italian Cologne still make me smile.

On the heels of Randy’s passing, I had to deal with my Parents’ transition from their last home to an Old Age Home.  My Father was very sick with Cancer and my Sister kept the details from my Brother and I, and it seemed that he had more time than he did.  The last few months of his life, he had no discernible quality of life.  He was unable to self-ambulate, he couldn’t get out of bed without assistance and was getting to the point where feeding himself was difficult.  His pain increased nearly daily and we watched as the cancer raced through him, eating him from the inside out.  He was so skinny at the end, mostly blind and mostly deaf.  When he was in Palliative care, unable to eat or drink, he still knew when we were there – I’d call his name and he’d reach out his hand to hold mine, and try to talk.  I know he had things to tell me.  I knew he was dying.  I told him several times not to worry, we would look after Mom.  That was our job now.  He could rest in peace.  He passed away in early September, on an incredibly warm day – and on my Birthday.

I have not been able to get over his passing, as much as I try.  He was too important to me.  He was my everything, he was my Daddy.  I miss him, terribly.   I had an emotional breakdown during our family Christmas Dinner and couldn’t stop crying and had to leave.  I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s good time – I felt like a fool.  The emotions were still so raw. My Mother-in-Law told me something that a friend sent her after her Mother passed. She said: your Mother teaches you everything, except how to live without her.  Truer words were never spoken.

Dad 1923-2015

Dad 1923-2015

My Mom has Dementia which is continuously worsening.  We can no longer have a conversation with her other than a few sentences which are repeated over and over again.  She’s alone in her Old Age Home and it’s far from where we live.  It’s like I’ve lost her too…

The next wave came in November, my female cat, Charlie was looking very skinny.  She was still eating and drinking, but it was harder for her to jump up on the furniture and she wasn’t as social.  She would still bark at us any time we would pass by close to her, and loved to be petted.  She had the loudest purr I’d ever heard.  She started walking less and taking more frequent breaks.  She would let me cuddle her for quite a while (she was not a cuddler, but she was too weak to jump down).  I made an appointment at the vet, fearing the worst.  That day when I came home, she was lying down by her water dish, unable to get up any longer.  It was her time.  I miss my little girl, my Bobcat with the tufts on her ears.

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie’s brother, Maverick didn’t mourn her loss as we expected.  He searched for her for quite a while and on occasion we could hear him calling her, probably wondering why she wasn’t answering.  He had become more cuddly with the rest of us – he was always my cat – he sleeps with me every night and more often than not, requires play time or food around 2 a.m.  He hasn’t learned that I’m not supposed to be awake then.

Last weekend Mavvy started acting funny.  His head was down and he couldn’t hold it up on his own.  His pupils were wide and he and trouble walking.  His head even tilted on a 90º angle for a bit.  When he’d walk, it was like he was on crutches, his front legs stiff and straight out, his head tucked into his chest.  He couldn’t go up or down stairs, he’d bump into walls.

We took him to the vet, who suspected a Stroke.  He’s currently on a decreasing course of low-dose steroids and he’s almost back to his old self.  He’s not ready to go yet.  I’m not ready for him to leave.

So after all that, to say that I’m more than ready to see the tail end of 2015 tonight and ring in 2016 is an understatement.  I’ve always believed, silly or not that bad luck happens in odd years and good in even.  I’m so ready for my luck to change … Happy New Year everyone, may it be a good one…

Untitled…

November 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap | 2 Comments
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I’ve seen my potential future and it scares the hell out of me.

Scenario A: Catching a horrific disease and dying a slow, painful death while your mind is intact enough to know what’s going on around you and you’re helpless to change the outcome.

Scenario B: Suffering from one of the bazillion forms of Dementia, where your body is intact but your brain becomes Swiss Cheese and you can’t remember friends or family that you’ve known your entire life.

Either of these two scenarios is frightening.

My Dad was Scenario A.

My Mom is Scenario B.

If I talk to my Mom one day about coming for a visit and talk to her again the next day, she’s forgotten all about our conversation, yet is very excited at the ‘new’ news. That’s not a big deal. It happens with aging – just like it’s easy to misplace an article of clothing or call one child by your other child’s name.

Dementia is a funny thing. The easiest way I can think of to describe it is by comparing the disease to a computer disk that has bad sectors. Every day, all day, data is written on the disk as it constantly spins round and round. When the disk is in good condition, i.e., when you’re younger, everything works as it’s supposed to. Dementia however, is like having bad sectors on the disk. When information is stored in the bad sectors it can’t be recalled or gets misinterpreted. The older one gets and the worse the Dementia becomes, the more bad sectors appear on the disk. Suddenly, everyday tasks become difficult – like making yourself a meal. You’ve forgotten how. It’s more than just forgetting a recipe or an ingredient; I mean you don’t have a clue how to work the stove any longer. It’s frustrating. You stare at the knobs on the stove to no avail. You’re pretty sure you were able to do it yesterday.

sectorsYou begin to repeat yourself. You begin to repeat yourself. Within the same conversation the same sentence can be said five or more times. That is, when you can get the words to tumble out of your mouth in an order that someone can understand. Sometimes you just utter gibberish. And you get frustrated. You think you’re stupid.

You’ll fixate on something – like a picture on the wall that is crooked. You’ll mention it to your kids when they call. Ten times. In ten minutes. Each time seeming to you like the first time because you don’t remember telling anyone about it before. You will deny that you’ve mentioned the source of your fixation before. Your life will become “Groundhog Day”, repeating the same things over and over again, except unlike the Bill Murray movie – you won’t get a chance to make it right.

Paranoia creeps in like a shadow. You know for certain that someone has been in your room and used your phone or watched your television when you were out. It’s not right you’ll say. You’ll look around the room and ‘see’ things that someone has moved. It will be difficult to understand that no one did. You’ll argue that you’re right, because you know you are.

You can’t sleep at night. Everything seems to wake you up and you’re exhausted the next day which depletes your reserves and makes your condition worse. No one understands you or what you’re facing but you relish the sympathy.

That’s a brief snapshot of what my Mom’s going through. I talk to her several times a week and visit nearly every weekend. It’s so exhausting and depressing. I can’t have a normal conversation with her. I try not to be frustrated or short with her, but it can be difficult sometimes. I know it’s not her fault. Some days are better than others, but they’re all more or less the same and it will never get better. I want my Mom back.

Stupid genetics.

I have read a bit about Dementia and the disease itself is worrisome (a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing). Bit by bit it seems to take away pieces of who you used to be. Dementia can lead to depression (both for the patient and those who support them), confusion, frustration, anxiety, and disorientation. The symptoms are heightened during times of stress (when my Father passed, my Mom was a mess – however that’s not a good example).

So we wait for the inevitable, hoping in the meantime she’ll get better, knowing she never will. We’ll have to live day by day because that’s all my Mom can do – she doesn’t remember yesterday.

The Sandwich Generation – Hold the Mayo

June 27, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Posted in Depression, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Somehow the years slipped by when I wasn’t looking and here I am nearly 50 with two beautiful, growing Daughters of my own. Not quite the future I imagined. I used to be this Gen-X party girl, a part of the MTV-Generation who loved 80s music, going to concerts, had big hair, and loved parties. Now I’m one of the many in the so-called “Sandwich Generation”. I have my own family to take care of, and I am helping look after my aging parents.

I don’t mind. They looked after me for the nearly 20 years I lived with them. They continued to look after me when I moved out because I was never good with money and always ran short.

When I was a little kid, I remember running across fields, holding my Dad’s hand and it always felt like we were flying. He would have been in his early 50s then and he was invincible – to me anyway. My parents had me later in life. Whenever someone asks how old my other siblings are, I tell them that I have a sister who is 21 years older than me, and a brother who is five years older than me.

Then the stare starts…

Then you see the wheels inside their heads spinning as they try to figure this out…

I let them off the hook. “I was an ‘oops’…” I’d tell them.

“Ohhhhh….” They’d always answer.

To further confuse things, I’d often mention that my Mom and my Sister were pregnant at the same time and I have a niece who is eight days older than me. Back in the 60s that must have been embarrassing. That’s how I always felt any time I was in my Sister’s presence. I shouldn’t have been born. What was Mom thinking?? How could she do that, she was supposed to be a Grandmother, not a Mother again

My parents were in the height of their ‘careers’ when I was little. My Parents were blue collar workers all their lives.  We didn’t really have much growing up, but it never seemed like we did without. My Mom worked as a sales clerk at K-Mart for too many years. She worked hard to make a living and bring home money so that we (my brother and I) could have what we needed. My Sister was long out of the house with her own family at this point.

My Mom used to take in sewing on the side to help make ends meet. I remember she worked as a dressmaker for some time and she would have clients come round to our old house in Riverdale for fittings. I remember she would have them stand in front of a floor length mirror that my Dad made for her. I would watch from the doorway because I wasn’t allowed to come in while she was working.

My eldest Daughter now has that mirror. I can picture Lexy in my mind, older, getting ready for a date and admiring herself in my Mom’s mirror.

After I moved out in my late teens, my Mom sent home countless meals she lovingly prepared, so that my apartment fridge would be well stocked. My Mom was the best home cook I ever knew. She taught me so many of her wonderful recipes and instilled a love of food and cooking in me from an early age.

Now My Mom has dementia and can’t remember how to use a stove. She has Diabetic Nerve Damage and can’t open a jar or a tin. Some days she doesn’t know who my daughter is. Once she forgot who I am… there is a disconnect that is hard to deal with sometimes – yet other days, she’s so lucid and can remember most things that I’ve long forgotten. It amazes me how the brain works.

My Dad was a Carpenter for most of his life. He started out in Grenå, Denmark as a Rope Maker by trade. There wasn’t that much call for that profession during ‘The Great Depression’, so he pretty much did whatever odd job he could do to survive. My Dad was one of 15 kids – Winters in Denmark were pretty cold back at the turn of the last Century. He had two sets of twin brothers, three of the four dying before they were a year old. His Mother was his Father’s second wife and when my Grandfather died (of a back ‘ailment’) in the 1930s, he left my Grandmother to raise nearly a dozen children on her own. A poor, fisherman’s daughter. There were no TLC shows to help out back then.

My Dad is now the last one of his siblings left.

When Dad moved to Canada in the 1950s he switched to Carpentry. He found that trade much easier to find odd jobs then it was to work with Hemp. He was quite skilled. I have several pieces he made with his hands that I will always cherish. He could take apart anything made from wood and refinish it so that its natural beauty shone through. He could name any tree by looking at the bark, or the leaves. He knew the type of tree by the wooden planks in the store – he’d tell me, “Look, this one’s Oak” or he’d say “that’s Mahogany, it’s a beautiful piece”, while running his hand deftly over the lumber. He’d often tell me what his plans were for the next project when he needed to make something for the house during one of our many trips to the lumber yard.  When we cleared out the house they lived in since the late-80s, we came across the odds and ends of amazingly beautiful pieces of wood that were still sitting there … waiting for the next project.

In 1985 when my Great-Nephew was born, my Dad built a cradle for him out of old skids that he would bring home from work. He dressed the boards and uncovered beautiful pine planks. He used a couple of pieces of solid Oak for the runners. There was not a single nail in it – dowels and glue and dove-tail joints. He crafted it after an 18th Century French Canadian design. My Mother bought a beautiful layette for it. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.  My Dad was so proud of the piece.

My Niece wanted to use it as a planter.

My Mom was always the tough one in our family. I think her Mother raised her that way.  She had it hard as a child, growing up in East Prussia, having to escape to Germany during the Second World War.  My Grandmother would sternly tell her, “Don’t cry”. “Stand straight”. “Eat your dinner”. “Keep neat”. “Don’t make a mess”.

My Dad was always the soft one, with me anyway. He’s the one I would snuggle up to when I was sick with a fever and just needed some comfort. He’s the one who would fix my toys when I was too careless with them and broke them (usually by throwing them at my Brother). He was the one who started up his table saw at 8:00 on a Saturday morning and to this day, the smell of sawdust makes me smile, and a little sad. He helped me with my homework – my favourite memories of when he tried to help me do my English homework, listening to him pronounce the words with his Danish accent. He was my Superman.

Now he needs help getting out of bed and he can hardly talk.

When he speaks, he does so with great difficulty, as though he is drunk. His legs no longer work the way they should. He needs a walker to get around but he is still very unstable. When he tries to hold a fork or a cup of coffee, his arm wavers greatly from side to side – spilling everything, he’s unable to control his fine motor skills.

It’s as though his warranty has expired.

Even as late as last year they were saying that the only way they would leave their beautiful house in the country was in a pine box. Now we are looking at long-term care facilities to become their new homes.

My Sister was looking after them for the past year and a bit, because my parents moved to be closer to her. She was their primary caregiver – she would drive them to doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, bring them meals – anything they needed. About a month ago, my Sister had a Stroke. They said it was a mild one but we don’t think she will ever be like she was. She is doing better now, but she has a long, long road ahead.

So it’s up to my Brother and I to step up. It’s not like we haven’t helped out before, it’s just the amount of care needed by us has greatly increased. My Brother used to go up on weekends and a week during the Summer to take care of their property for years when they were still in their house. Now he and I go up every weekend to take my Mom grocery shopping and bring her homemade meals that my Brother or I have made for them to replenish their stock.

They have home care people who come to the house on a daily basis to make sure their day-to-day needs are looked after. It’s not enough. They are on a waiting list to get my Dad into a long-term facility, we’re hoping Mom with go with him. They’ve been married for nearly 56 years; it would be detrimental to their health to be separated now.

We are hoping that their new facility will be closer to where we live so we don’t need to spend nearly three hours each time travelling back and forth. It made sense when my Sister was well to have them live near her, but that situation has changed.  My Sister is 69, she’s allowed to slow down.

I hope we’ll find something soon. My Dad needs daily care and my Mom needs company of other people her own age. My Brother and I need to be able to not worry about them – at least not in the same way. We need to be comfortable that we all made the right decision and they are well looked after. We will still see them weekly as much as we are able. If they are closer it will make it that much better.

Mom, Dad and my Girls

Mom, Dad and my Girls

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ativan…

April 24, 2014 at 1:25 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Daddy-O, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | 1 Comment
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untitledThis post has been kicking around in my head for a while now. It may come out as a jumbled mess, or it may come out as a coherent thought, regardless, please bear with me.

I had another argument with my eldest daughter tonight, of course just as she was supposed to go to bed.  She’s entering that ‘Tween’ stage and feels that her parents are against her and obviously don’t understand (or listen to) her.  I know this, because she keeps telling me.

I have a great relationship with both of my girls.  When Lexy was born, nearly 11 years ago, I didn’t think it was possible to love someone so much that my very heart hurt just looking at her.  Four years later I had the absolutely exquisite pleasure of having her sister and again, I didn’t think it was possible to love yet another person as much as I loved Lexy.  I learned something that day that I often told my two girls – your heart and capacity to love doesn’t divide among the children you have, it multiplies by the number of children you have.  My children are my world and I would step in front of a car for them.  It’s really a no brainer.

Lexy started keeping lists of the number of times we, her parents, have disappointed her.  Mind you, we’re not talking about huge disappointments, but little things – like saying we’ll go out for ice cream on the weekend and then something comes up and we can’t.  The last argument we had, I asked her to stop making that list because it hurt me very much.  Do we not take care of you? I asked her that night.  She wasn’t doing it to be mean, it was her way of dealing with the disappointment.  We take care of our children.  They are always fed, always have clean clothes.  Their vaccinations are up to date and they get a flu shot every year.  We don’t go out for a fun day as much as they would like, but those are material things that they need to learn come second – one’s basic human needs come first.

I like to think that I have instilled in my daughters some good, basic human decency.  They know it’s wrong to tease, or make fun of another person.  They know words hurt.  They know we expect them to be kind and helpful and polite young ladies.  They know we expect them to do their homework when they come home and not wait for Sunday night.  They know it’s wrong to lie and to steal.  The few times I’ve caught my youngest in a lie (her latest was when she said she was good at school when she was actually in trouble with the teacher), I’ve told her that it makes Mummy very sad when she lies to me.  That makes her sad too, because the last thing she would ever want to do is hurt my feelings.  I know I’m her whole world.

I feel lately like I’m being pulled in several directions at once and I’m certain that if someone lets go, I’ll go flying.  As expected, my children are making demands of me (as they should).  My husband makes demands of me (as he should).  My job makes demands of me (sometimes to the detriment of my family). My parents need to make more demands of me.  I just can’t always deal with everything at once.

My parents are elderly.  My darling Dad turned 90 last November and he’s sick.  I’m not entirely certain with what though, it’s very confusing talking to my Sister who seems to be the only one who knows what’s going on.  About a month ago, she told me that my Dad had Cancer and they thought it had spread to his bones.  He had been having trouble using his legs and last year he had quite a lot of Prostate trouble, but that biopsy came out clear.  My Dad falls down a lot and his legs lock up so much that he can’t get himself off of the floor.  My Mom, who is 88, cannot lift him, nor help him up when he falls down.  They have to call my Sister when something happens as she is the closest in distance to them.  The last time my Dad fell, my Sister had to carry him to the car.

My Dad has always been my Superman.  Cliché as it is, that’s always the way I’ve felt about him.  Now it seems as though Superman has traded his cape for a walker.

Last weekend was Easter and my family and Brother went to my parents’ house and I cooked dinner for everyone.  It was delicious and my parents were so proud.  When we were leaving, I went to say goodbye to my Dad and he was lying on the couch – but not the way he normally lays.  His head was at the opposite end of the couch, he didn’t have a pillow – he was lying with his face directly on the couch.  I could tell that he was in a lot of pain, you could see it on his face.  He seemed … so… frail. I kissed his cheek and told him I loved him.  He’s so skinny now, he’s even lost his little pot belly that he had for years.

My Sister also told me that my Mom has Alzheimer’s.  I think she was speaking broadly because as far as I know, my mom hasn’t had any formal testing for this, but there is definitely something wrong.  She forgets words.  She knows what something is (i.e., a cup), but can’t get the words out, then she gets frustrated and calls herself stupid. She definitely is showing signs of Dementia.  She’s forgotten how to use her stove.  She used to bake a cake weekly so that my Dad would always have something to go with his afternoon coffee yet I had to show her three times how to turn on the oven when we were there.  As I was leaving, she told me she forgot again and wasn’t that stupid? She kept telling me over and over how delicious the ham was and she’s never had anything so wonderful.  I told her that I’ve made that for her several times.  She argued that she’d never had it before…

Thankfully they are moving from the large house and property they’ve lived in since 1989 and will be living in a much smaller apartment, closer to my Sister, where they can be cared for.

It’s been rough lately.  I’ve been going to work just to escape it all.  At least when I’m concentrating on putting a proposal together, I’m not thinking about everything else that requires my attention.

Hopefully now that this post is out of my head, I will be able to sleep.  The Thyroid medicine I’ve been taking has been driving me crazy with the Insomnia.  I’m dead tired at night, but do you think I can sleep?  I hope so tonight.

I need a beach.

Thank you for listening … 😦

Where’s the Off-Switch?

May 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Posted in Caityisms, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, My Kid is a Donut | Leave a comment
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Putting Caity to bed tonight was taxing on a whole new level. How on Earth does a five year old manage to zap every ounce of strength out of a person? She screamed and wailed and carried on like she had the two most horrendous Parents on the Planet. I’m sure she’s not far wrong, at least on my end. Her Dad is good, not sure how the poor thing got stuck with me….

She was wailing, all the way up to her room “it’s just not fair!”. I know she’s tired and she’s probably still not feeling well, but come on…

She wants desperately to be a big girl like her Sister and if Lexy gets one teeny tiny thing that she doesn’t, well get some ear plugs because life’s not fair.

Let me tell you something, my little donut … It doesn’t get any easier when you’re older… In fact there are many days you hope not to wake up so you don’t have to face it anymore…

———

Why do I have to have inconsiderate neighbours who insist on smoking that fucking shit every night? It’s bad enough in the Winter when they’re outside smoking pot, but that shit blows directly onto my property. Now that the nice weather has come back, they smoke several joints every fucking night and I can’t keep my doors open or my house will stink of Pot. I’m seriously thinking of calling the cops because this is getting ridiculous. It does wonders for Cait’s Asthma too. Thanks assholes. Why can’t they smoke that shit in their basement or garage like every one else does

Anyone have any ideas on how to get some peace?

———-

To the makers of the Roomba vacuum cleaner….

I

Will

NEVER

Buy

Your

Product

Because

Your

Ads

Are

So

ANNOYING!!

Seriously, who does ‘the Robot’ anymore??

——-

Going to try opening the doors again, maybe I can keep them open longer than five minutes this time….

Grrr.rr.rrr.

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