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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tom Swifties

Forgive me, I thought of one tonight.  "context"

"I'll go stop the prisoners from sending short emails said Tom, contextually".  LOL!

I kill myself sometimes...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Living With Dad

This is going to be an adventure I am barely prepared to take.

The Background:

Mom died in 2010 from old age and Parkinson's at 84.  Her body failed while her mind was still capable.  She hated that, and I understand.  I miss her.  Dad is the reverse.  He's old physically, but shuffles around just fine.  He does just fine with physical activities like setting the table for meals, personal things, dressing, etc.  It's his mind that is going.

He is lucid for periods; remembering investments, family, and events.  Then, suddenly cannot recall where he is, who I am, or where any of his investments are.  At those times, anything I tell him is forgotten immediately and asked again in a few minutes.


I and my siblings live in MD.  Dad lived in FL.  My brother Matt and I flew down May 18, packed all the documents, personal affects, and clothes into Dad's car.  Matt drove Dad's packed car to my house.  Dad transferred his car title to Matt and Matt drove home in the car.  Dad (briefly?) understood that he could drive a car safely any more.

So Dad is here now with all the stuff we could fit into the car.  And into a standard bedroom.  It can't hold all his stuff.  I have some ideas about helping with that (shallow bookcase so he can stack his folded clothes where he can see them - seemingly important to him), a shallow secretary desk with a drawer for his checkbooks and will (important to him), and a tall narrow dresser (space is limited).

My immediate concerns are to get his clothes sorted into 3 piles.  Summer wear, Winter wear, and Never wear. He has enough clothes for 5 people!  Most, he would never have any occasion to wear.  He DOESN'T need 10 pairs of golf pants, for example.

But also, because he feels cold all the time here, he sure doesn't need the 10 pairs of shorts or the short sleeve shirts.  Those have to go to Goodwill.  The hardest part is getting him to wear long sleeve pants and shirts.  He puts on 3 short sleeve shirts and complains his arms are cold!

I told him that he can put on warmer clothes, but I can't wear much less clothes than I do.  He doesn't quite grasp that concept.  Basically, he wants the thermostat at 85 (in shorts) and I want it at 70.  In between is no good because I melt into a pool of sweat at 72.  I want to buy him long sleeved knit shirts tomorrow.

The good news is that he loves my cooking.  I'm always been a "fresh-food", pork or chicken/veggie stir fry type, with baked chicken thighs, and the occasional steak type.  With salads and lots of veggies.  He seems to like that too.

Sadly, he LOVES bread.  I think he was making whole meals of bread before I got him up here.  On the good side, I make great bread and he likes it.  And he is enjoying having salad and meat with his bread.  I'm taking the meals one day at a time while I figure out what he likes that is healthier.  I did get him to agree to start taking my own regular "Men+50 multivitamin today (doctors orders).

My own diet is basically some meat, lots of veggies, a tossed salad, 2 glasses of red wine, and mixed fresh fruit for "dessert".  I haven't introduced the fresh fruit yet, but we are going grocery shopping together tomorrow and I'll see what interests him there.  Irrelevant in a way, since I will be buying a variety for myself anyway.  But I need to find what HE likes.

The cats will be a problem.  He hates cat fur around his bedroom.  I mean, he likes cats "OK" but hates fur.  So far, we are keeping his bedroom door shut all day, but that won't last.  Dad forgets about the door.  They had a cat until about 2000, but dad doesn't remember.  MY view is that cat fur isn't fatal, but it seems to bother his (oddly variable) sense of cleanliness.

We'll work that out...

There are still 5 bags of Dad's clothes down in the basement.  He thinks he has sorted through ALL his clothes.  Tomorrow will be another surprise for him.  Sorting confuses him.  So I think I will do it directly from the bags in the basement.  My idea is to present him with types of clothes (long pants, short pants, long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts, etc.  Then ask to him to choose the best 7 of each that fits.  He understands that some of his clothes should go to charity.  90%, actually, but I won't tell him THAT (because it would seem giving "away" too much".  I will have him fill a box of clothes that don't fit (most of them) and remove them each day.  He will forget about those each time, I think  And when I present him with a bunch of donation tax reductions, he will think that grand.

Other than that, he is doing well.  More next time...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Post Mother's Day

I couldn't say it on the day.  Missing Mom for the 2nd Mother's Day now...  I guess it won't get any worse, but it won't get any better either..

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Planning For Dad

I have a new bed bought and the new guest room all cleaned out for it.  I have the travel plans all set.  I have the never-ending kibble feeder cleaned and ready.  There are normally 4 litterboxes and I have 4 more cleaned and ready for fresh litter.  There are water bowls and a big bubbler water bowl ready to be set on the floor

The cats will only be left for 2.5 days.  Sometime this month (I do not know when - depends on Dad's rehab report at the hospital), I will be gone for 2.5 days.

Dad will be here for "X" years until he needs better help than I can give.  But the exact day is not yet known.  It won't be THIS night, or tomorrow, so I will waste off tonight with playing Risk and Scrabble online.  Because I think it will be a weird week getting Dad up here with me, and I deserve a blow-off night.

I expect to get up about 2 PM tomorrow.  LOL!

I go to pick up Dad's new bed ("firm" as he likes it) on Tuesday.   It only took an hour at a local bed store to get the best combination of bedframe, foundation and mattress that matched what he is used to (and I don't want to change what he is used to).  And it wasn't terribly expensive ($700 all told) and its hard to get a decent one less than that. He will be a bit annoyed that the headboard and footboard seem "fancy and expensive", but it was the simplest one I could find in "twin" size, so he should like that.  He's miserly, and hates any spending.  But it was the simplest one I thought he would be comfortable in. 

So I am set for him at least 2 weeks ahead of arrival.

Watching the cats adjust to Dad will be interesting.  Fortunately, he only shuffles his feet, so he won't be stepping on him.  And quite frankly, if they can't stay out of his way when he shuffles his feet along, it THEIR problem.  Seriously, if they can get stepped on by Dad shuffling his feet slowly, they deserve it.

The whole group of us 3 children are participating in getting Dad from FL to MD, each doing some part with their own abilities.  That's the good thing.

Brother Matt doesn't mind driving, Sister Susan is good at emptying old houses for sale, and I am good at planning trips, arranging to shut off services, etc.  And I'll be having Dad here which will be a lot of daily personal effort.

This will be the biggest change in my life in 30 years...

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Slightly Good News

The rehab hospital has been approved by Medicare to keep Dad in physical therapy for another week, so there is time to plan things better.  Yay!  I got the old guest room (recently storage room) cleaned out today.  Major work.  And I had the entire guest room closet filled with "stuff".  I got that all moved to otgher rooms and the attic.  Lots of old junk to the landfill (but a lot to the recycling center too).  I could have done that years ago, but I'm a man~ana type. when it comes to household stuff.

I figured out the logistics of the move last night as I was trying to fall  asleep.  And, nicely, it still all made sense in the morning.  So its a plan.

It's "one day at a time" now...  I don't know how things will work out with Dad living here with me.  I'll do the best I can.  We might just get along fine, we might not.  Only time will tell.

But I want to give him the best last days that I can.  That means a lot of adjustments; I'll make those adjustments.  Until I can't help him enough anymore.  Then it will have to be an "assisted living facility".  And eventually a hospice center nearby where we kids can visit him often.  We are all going there someday.  But I will do what I can in the meantime.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Elder Care For Dad

Well, Dad turned 90  in April, and he's not doing too well.  Basically healthy, for sure, but old age is getting a grip.  He has to shuffle his feet to walk, can't make turns well, and falls sometimes.

He fell and hurt his head in two places last week.  He drove himself to a hospital, which was apparently a harrowing trip.  It is very fortunate he did not injure himself or others on that trip.  He has been treated and is currently undergoing rehab treatment for balance exercises.  But he must not drive again, and he really can't take care of himself anymore.  He seems willing to stay in the rehab hospital until I can bring him here.

I will be bringing him here to live with me in the next month or so.  So I will be gone for a week at some point, though I won't specify exactly when.  I'll leave a few scheduled posts in the meantime, and let you know when I am back. 

The neighbors will all know when I am away and will be watching the house closely.  They will be advised that there are NO plans for ANYONE to visit and to call the police IMMEDIATELY if anyone shows up attempting to enter the house!

I will hate this trip.  I hate travelling.  I haven't travelled by plane since before 9-11 and worry about the restrictions.  But it has to be done.

The difficult part is that he does not want to move.  He's fighting it, but weakening as he discovers how having others provide better meals and help him get around IS rather nice.  He HAS to have someone like me to watch over him and feed him well.  Wish me the best of luck.  It is possible that I will fly back home alone, but I will drag him out of his house short of legal kidnapping.

I'm working out a step-by-step list for all the things that need to be done to get Dad here...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doing Useful Stuff, 5

The trees drop branches, I cut down weedy saplings, I trim desirable trees, some shrubs need severe pruning each year.  It adds up to a large brushpile.  

So I finally piled all the debris into the hauling trailer and brought it to the County landfill.  It was 8 feet high in the trailer.  After tying it down tight with ropes, I crushed it down to 6' high.  And delivered it.  Not as trash, but as compostable material.  You see, the County here has a huge composting area.  They pile all the organic debris into rows 20 feet high and a football field long.

In return, County residents can obtain "mulch" (more like halfway between shredded bark and compost) for free).  They will even use a bucketloader to fill trailers or pickup trucks for residents for free on Saturdays.  Its not quite either, but it IS free. 

I usually shovel it out of the trailer into a pile, use a mulch-fork to take out the large parts to use as real mulch, then let the smaller stuff compost (covered by a tarp) to become soil amendment.  Between moisture, time, ants, worms, heat, and microbes, it is really good stuff after a full year.

So it is really a "give raw material this year" and "get back a useful product the next".  And free, did I mention that?  LOL!  Free is good...