My new normal

My mother moved into a room in my house last Saturday.  She is 87, and is legally blind, has trouble with her knee, and requires a bit of supervision which she was paying for in the place she was living. It is not cheap.

Her room is a large bedroom with a handicap access bathroom. Lots of hand holds next to the toilet and in the tub. A shower chair is installed, and there is room for her to move about with her walker. It is coming together for her, and the days are slowly falling into a routine, for both of us. She has a very advanced case of macular degeneration so she does require help figuring out the remote for the television, connecting her phone to the charger, finding items in her room, and other things that are part of daily living.

I am with her 24/7, and I will admit after three days I needed some away time. Tuesday morning I took off and went to the store. All by myself. I grabbed a mocha frap with an extra espresso shot, bought six bottles of wine, and spent an hour wandering the store. It was very relaxing and once I was home my attitude was chipper!

Today I took another time to myself. A trip to Gadabout for waxing and stuff, another relaxing alone time.

This is how I will keep my sanity-having alone time. I have been known to retreat, hide out, and be in my own head to repair my psyche. I am fine on my own, alone, and exploring.

My mother is a person who requires the presence of others for conversation and not being alone. She has always been thus. She spends lots of time on the phone chatting up everyone she has a number for, and we have to make sure the filter is on – the “just because you are in the house doesn’t mean everyone needs to know our business” filter. Another thing we are working with her on is that her bedroom is a private space and we have no need or desire to know and hear what she is watching on TV, that she is in the bathroom, or changing clothes. The door must be closed!!!

This is my new normal. Fortunately my hubby is a kind and patient man.

Cheers!

-N

 

An adorable distraction

So many distractions. Not bad ones, but enough to make a new normal for a short time. My daughter and my grandson have been with us for a few days. Charlie is two and a half and very good at it. Someone was always on Charlie alert! “Tag you’re on Charlie alert!” We would laugh and get busy. My house is generally prepared for him, but there are still a few things he has to be watched over while he is near them.

Curiosity, energy, and fearlessness.

I was drinking from my water bottle and Charlie, who was eating graham crackers, came over and wanted a drink. Okay, no thinking about it I let him drink from it. Can you say backwash? Well that became his bottle and Nannie got a new one.

Poppa always has cool stuff to interest the little human. Feeding the dogs or building a porch, he had his own little shadow. Chuck is a good grandfather, and he connects to Charlie man to man.

Charlie has been to our place enough that he has started to remember things like the rack that holds the pots and pans, which bedroom is mine, which door goes to the dogs yard; all things imprinting on his memory. He also knows that if he runs up to me with his arms wide and calls “Nannie” I am a total sap. He pulls this pretty effectively with “Poppa” also.

We have had a very active monsoon in southern Arizona so far, nearly 4 inches of rain in the last couple of weeks, so my grass is lush and soft. Just perfect for a barefoot boy. He also discovered the joys of playing in a big puddle. Big rocks make big splashes and makes Momma and Nannie jump – much to his glee. I think in a few years we will have a tree climber on our hands. He really wanted to get up in the branches.

Last Saturday we went to a birthday party in Phoenix. My niece’s little boy turned one. The coolest part was that I brought my mother along and she sat with her littlest great grandchildren for a priceless picture. They call her GG and we realized that the two older ones are the only ones who will probably remember GG.  I am so joyful when I hear Charlie say GG.

The progress of our family relationship with him keeps my mind excited, and my heart fully engaged with love.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Remembrance

A couple of weeks ago the oldest daughter of long time friends passed away from an aggressive form of adrenal cancer. The speed this disease took her down stunned all of us who knew her. From the day she told us of this diagnosis to the day she passed was months. This sweet woman is gone from here. Her two daughters will never know her touch except in memories and dreams. Her partner will face days of loss and pain as she goes day by day in the normal living of everyday life without the love of her life. How do we remember Shelley?

My young friend touched the lives of many people who needed housing they could afford. Shelley was the person who made the magic happen for these humans in San Antonio. Her fruitful and memorable life was honored by a video of memories from all the lives she touched, and was shown at a celebration of her life. Her loved ones shared photos and videos, stories were shared along with tears, laughter, and love.

I can only hope others will have memory treasures of me to comfort them.

This Saturday my little great nephew will be celebrating one full year of life. This is a big deal for every human. I’m sure all of us have been to those “birthday” parties for a one year old. They are usually parties for the adults since a one year old has no clue what is up. The birthday kid gets a ton of gifts they can’t even open, and have no idea who they are from. The pictures will tell the story to this kid when they are in high school and the parents want to embarrass them. Is this the best way to honor this milestone in age?

Rather than the typical adult get together disguised as a birthday party, there will be a chance for all of the family and friends to bring letters and other things to put in a time capsule, to be given to him on his 18th birthday. An ideal way to celebrate his first year of life by looking forward.

It’s been a thoughtful time for me as I composed my letter for Bodie. Hubby and I decided to write our own letters to him. Writing a letter to an eighteen year old in the future is an interesting project. What do we want him to know? What advice do we give? Who will he be at that age? My letter was two full pages, and Chuck’s was half a page. Both letters were written from the heart and in our own voices. I am curious what he will think when he reads them. Will we be around?

Remembering is hard when it is because of the loss of a loved one. It is hard when it is from a place of pain in the past. Remembering a future that hasn’t happened yet is one of hope and curiosity.

Memories are the video of the mind.

Cheers!

-N

 

Being on track

There are so many things requiring my focus this summer, and I have to prioritize now more than ever. At the end of this month my mother will be moving into our house and a whole new set of issues will come with that. We have some changes to the house in order to accommodate her walker. She can’t do stairs without assistance so a ramp is required for access. Also an exterior door for her is being installed. Chuck is taking care of these changes, and he is doing a good job.

I have two stories in the works, and researching developing an author web site. My daughter and grandson will be here in a few weeks, there is a big birthday party in Phoenix for my great nephew at the same time, providing a chance to visit with family.

Monsoon storms are about ready to bust out which will be great for the fires in the mountains. We can smell the smoke in the air. The wildfire crews have been staging their helicopter water drops from Catalina, so we have been watchng them flying in and out.

I have a quilt to start and shirt to finish, some mending to do, and five bags of clothing donations to catalogue.

I hope to start going back to the gym in the fall, maybe make one more trip to California before school starts, and try to be as productive as possible in my writing.

I’ll be good as long as the wine holds out!

Cheers!

-N

So freaking hot!

I’m sitting here inside my air conditioned home, drinking an iced coffee with Bailey’s thinking of why did anyone in their right mind stop and settle in Tucson or Phoenix? Okay, so Tucson does have beautiful mountains that get snow every winter and offers a cool respite from the damnable heat. A hundred years ago there were rivers that ran year round. But Phoenix?? The Salt River ran, but the hills are black volcanic rock.

Had to have been in winter.

June is hell in Southern Arizona. No rain, hardly a cloud, humans and animals hide inside, underground, in shade, wherever it is cooler. Folks who live where it gets very cold do the same thing during the winter – find warmth and shelter and hunker down.

There is a point in the day where nothing can cool me but to get wet. If I had a pool it would be ideal, but I don’t – so – I turn on the cold water in the shower and get drenched. It works, and I can make it through the day. In one of my books* I described the way evaporative cooling was done in this part of the state.  Fabric was soaked in water and draped over windows, the breeze would be cool as the fabric dried. June is perfect evaporative cooler month. They work great unless the temperature is too hot and the humidity is too low. In that case you will spend the day hosing off the cooler pads.

Years ago my son and I house-sat in Phoenix for my sister during the summer. It was my first experience at how ineffective a “swamp” cooler could be in the hot and dry Phoenix summer. My brother-in-law showed Aaron how to climb up the ladder holding the hose and wash down the cooler pads. Wet the pads worked great. Fortunately they had a pool so we spent hours in the water. It’s 120 degrees of dry heat!! That’s bull shite.

I hope one day to live in a home either at the ocean or on a lake, in a place that gets four seasons.

It is my dream, it is my fantasy.

Cheers!

-N

*https://www.amazon.com/Blame-Whiskey-Tombstone-Nancy-Vaughn-ebook/dp/B01CQ4S8R4

Mom’s Super Bowl experience

My mother has been a football fan for as long as I can remember, and she has been a Dallas Cowboys fan from the beginning of the franchise.  Because she was employed by the University of Arizona in the athletics department, she was given the opportunity to work a Super Bowl being held in Phoenix. I found this narrative she wrote of her experience and wanted to share it with you fine followers. I’ve left it just as she wrote it.

My Super Bowl Experience

By Norma Turner

January 26, 1998 Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ

Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers

 

At 6am we lined up to get our jackets. By 8:30 am we were at the NFL Experience and given our assignments. I was at the flag football field where the former NFL stars played a flag football game. Since it wasn’t being used after that I was soon moved and told to relieve different workers. I did that until 3:30pm. During that time I saw Peter Maxx and helped with security in his gallery. I was given a Peter Maxx Super Bowl pin. While performing the relief duty I observed Robert Shapiro and his family in attendance.

 

The Experience closed at 4pm and after clearing the perimeter of people we went to the Sony tent. They had set up a large wall size television where the game was broadcast. Just as the second quarter started we went across the street to the stadium to help with the half time. My team erected barricades to keep half time participants from intruding into the area where the Dallas Cowboys were to exit the field for their locker room. The entire team exited through our area and were within 1 to 1 ½ feet of us. Deion Sanders was the first Cowboy to exit. The team was very intense. The look from their eyes was like a woman in the last stage of delivery-ferocious. The exception was Emmett Smith who was very loose and excited. When my co-worker and I saw Barry Switzer we said “hi coach” and he smiled and nodded. When the team was secure we opened the area for the halftime participants to enter.

 

Diana Ross was the half time performer.

 

The reverse was done two minutes before the half time was over. After we let the entertainers and firetrucks out after the halftime activities the special teams coach was the first out and led the team who were just as intense as before. Spoke to Jay Novacek, Bill Bates, and Emmitt Smith. Barry Switzer acknowledged us again. I was very impressed with the condition of the jerseys of the linemen. Torn, greasy, grass stained, bloody, and obviously resewn before they returned to the field. While we were doing this we observed Joe Montana and Ahmad Rashad at the NBC trailer. They were friendly and spoke to some of our people. We went into the media tent to watch the game until just before the 4th quarter. At that time we went through the entrance tunnel where a crew put up barricades around a platform on which the trophy presentation was to occur. I was put on a crew to close and secure the end zone to only players. We were on the 15 yard line.

 

Dallas won 27-17.

 

After the trophy was awarded to Jerry Jones and Barry Switzer the team came through our lines on either side of me. A TV interviewer asked Bill Bates for an interview. He stood between me and the woman to my left and we watched his interview up close. Bill Bates was a real gentleman.

 

We went to the media tent again where players from both teams were being interviewed, and were assigned to stand beside them to make sure they weren’t bothered. I drew Cowboys Nate Newton, Scott Case, and Steeler Darren Perry.

 

When I left Scott Case I went to watch Cowboys Troy Aikman, Charles Haley, and Steelers Coach Cowhers be interviewed. Nice men all. The Cowboys players were praising Coach Switzer’s courage and patience. I left the tent to find my co-workers. It was at this time I saw Emmitt Smith, Mark Tunei, Larry Brown, and Leon Lett again. We also saw Jerry Jones and family ride off in a van escorted by four motorcycle police. After the Jones entourage left we went back on the busses for the CSC tent and our vehicles at 10:30pm.

 

During the day I wondered where my son-in-law, Chuck Vaughn, was because I never saw him all day. I thought he might have been stuck at the NFL Experience while we were in the stadium. Was I wrong! Early in the day he was taken to a party of big wigs. He was assigned to security for Cool and the Gang. Then he was assigned to the loge area with Dan Marino, Warren Moon, and James Belushi and families. He watched the game from the boxes there!

 

 

Cheers!

-N

A new cast member

I am so proud to announce that I am officially a grandmother! My daughter has been in the foster to adopt process for this last year, and last week the process was finalized and Melissa became the legal mother to my adorable grandson Charlie Vaughn.

The experience was amazing, I shed a few tears. Judge Soto was wonderful and shared the joy of the occasion with us. He has stuffed animals in his court room to give to the children. Once everything was completed he welcomed us up to take photos. Charlie did very well through out the whole thing.

In fact, when the judge asked Melissa to raise her right hand to swear in Charlie was on board with that as you can see in the pic below.

It was so wonderful because several people who are part of the village that participate in his life in California were there to support my daughter. This made me so proud of her, that she is the kind of person who elicits this response of loyalty in her friends.

Living in a different state I am glad to know she has a network of good humans nearby. As a teacher, she also works with a good group of people who understand when she has to be gone to do the “mom” thing with a sick child.

Here’s another cute pic showing the love between them.

From the first she felt an attachment to Charlie as newborn foster child. Her landlord fosters infants so Melissa was used to babies being around. But this little man was different and her heart got involved.

I met him when he was two months old and fell in love. God meant him for us.

Our joy is shared by our extended family as well. They were all so excited for Melissa and Charlie, ready to graft him permanently into the family tree. My son Aaron and daughter-in-law Chelsea are ready to spoil their new nephew. Of course no spoiling from me, haha!

I am Nannie and Chuck is Poppa.

We are family!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

Books, life, and high school

I’m sitting here with three chapters written, ten chapters plotted, and at least half of the story laid out on paper. This feels good.

Also on my plate, is the design and construction of a cosplay costume for my daughter-in-law. So the creative muse is very busy.

My own personal deadlines for each project are good for me. I need these and work well in this situation. I always have. I am good at spreading a project out, making timelines, seeing what needs to happen next, and looking forward to the thrill of completion.

Time works when I have plenty to do. That saying “if you want something done, give it to a busy person,” well that is me. When I am busy, I am very productive.

Recently I have connected with some people from my high school years. I went to two different high schools, changing between sophomore and junior years. Sunnyside was a big school where I, as a new kid, could fade into the background and find my niche. The second school, Flowing Wells, was a smaller school where it seemed everyone had grown up together and had long histories, and the new kid was on probation. These classmates from Flowing Wells are the ones I am meeting. I express it this way because I never knew these folks when I was in school. I really didn’t know many of the students at all.  Getting to know them and hearing their stories has helped with some bitterness I had about the school. They are very nice people and I hope to have more chances to get together.

At both schools I was involved in drama and music. I was fortunate enough to have some wonderful instructors and my enthusiasm for these subjects helped ease me through the troublesome high school times. I’ve used my high school experiences as fodder for my writing. In fact my short story “The Green Bag” has a few scenes colored from personal experiences at Flowing Wells, and drawn into the fiction of the story.

I think this is why I love to tell stories. My grandmother, my beautiful Nannie, was a story teller. In a scene from The Walton’s the grandmother tells John Boy that her people would gather in the evenings and tell all kinds of stories and she intended to pass these stories on to him. Nannie did this with her children and grandchildren, with the result that we all have our “Nannie” stories.

My cousin Niki and I have written down one of our most favorite about a family of bears, and I hope one day that it will be published. It would be a wonderful tribute to Nannie, and a wonderful opportunity for other children to hear the story that captivated us.

Books. I have over a thousand in my personal library. It is something I hope to hand over to my children as a heritage. Writing, story telling, books-they are part of me. But the best part is sharing them with an eager reader. Don’t you agree?

Cheers!

-N

I’m back!!

Greetings all!

I am back from ten days spent caring for my grandson, and back to good internet service. He and I had a good time, lots of chasing a little human, flying body hugs, cleaning up messes, laundry, and all the assorted things that go with caring for a toddler.

It kind of kept me on my toes. Yet I had an advantage by his attendance at daycare. It is already paid for since he is still in the foster to adopt system, at least for a few more months, so I was able to get a lot of things done for my daughter while she was off chaperoning 15 eighth graders to Washington DC and NYC. Some grocery shopping, cleaned a lot, and got all her laundry done. Ran some errands for her, as well as having fun with the little man when he was with me.

Charlie is fearless. He would run to the little kid slides and climbing things, but once he was into it all he wanted to do was get on the big kid stuff. I was blown away by his balance and strength. He wasn’t fazed by the height, (not like me) and he liked the fast slides. But…he also really like covering himself in the sand. All I could think as I watched him roll around in it was ring worm, and kitty litter! Little humans get really dirty when they play.

I did discover the internet at her place was not a good as mine. It seemed to run intermittently, sometimes being very strong, then a moment later it was off. I mean as in my laptop saying no internet service. Very frustrating when trying to blog, email, and do research online.

Thus, I never got to do a blog post.

Well I am back, and after a couple of days of being sick once I got home, I am online, cleaning up after hubby being home by himself for ten days, and getting lots of love from Millie and Jake.

Cheers!

-N

Lessons in graceful aging

My mother has always been outgoing, fun loving, and outspoken. She is a deep down Texas girl , and an over the top Arizona Wildcats fan. In fact this woman is a true sports fan. Depending on the season her TV will be showing football, basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, volleyball; she knows and loves most sports.

She raised three daughters, while married to a career military man, moving from state to state, per the orders of the US Air Force. She adapted, was fearless, instilled love and family values, and made sure dad was able to do the things he needed to in his job.

She spent months on her own caring for myself and my sister Lisa while my dad was stationed in Germany. She had been very sick during her pregnancy, and after delivery had gall bladder surgery (a big deal in 1956) so they felt she should stay behind (she hated that she missed it.)

She managed, sometimes barely, during his constant TDY to Phan Rhang, Vietnam while being stationed in the Philippines at Clark Air Base. Looking back I’m not sure I would have done as well living in a foreign country alone while my husband was gone for two or three months at a time to a war zone.

Once we girls were older she always had a part time job. Whether it was working in the pro-shop at the base golf course in Misawa, Japan or as a teacher’s aide at Homer Davis School in Tucson, Arizona. She worked in the athletic department of the University of Arizona for decades, meeting countless people who would remember her whenever they saw her. There were times she was distracted with responsibilities outside of the home, and I was amazed at her energy and will to get things done.

She spent years keeping things stable for us girls while dad worked shift work at ASARCO mines. When dad was seriously injured on the job and was disabled from the injury she diligently cared for his wounds, kept up the house, babysat her grandchildren, and continued to take part time employment. I could write a book, hmm.

Now she is a sprightly 86, and her age is becoming a factor in her lifestyle.

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After my dad passed away she lived with Chuck and I, and it worked well as long as she could drive. But age related macular degeneration left her vision impaired enough she couldn’t pass a vision test so no more driving. I’ll admit we were all thankful to the DMV for that one. With my husband and I both working full time she spent many days sitting in front of the TV, talking on the phone and waiting for one of us to come home. She was getting bored and felt very lonely. Local family members would come and take her out when they could, but their situation was the same -working full time. At one point my sister and I noticed symptoms of depression, and worried her health would start failing. After a heart to heart with her about it she consented to a search for a fun place to live.

She moved into a retirement community, not assisted living which she is quick to clarify, and has done very well for several years. She was busy with the activities they offered, she made lots of friends, she could share interests with other residents, and she seemed to blossom with youth. However, in the last year we have all noticed a slowing, frequent illness, less participation, and her own acknowledgement that she is weaker. She has started using a walker giving her a bit of independence, but she is having a painful problem with one of her knees, and a related problem with her hip.

It gives me pause.

I just talked to her about the Arizona Wildcats basketball team being the Sweet Sixteen, and she is so excited about it. She recalled her years working at the local games, and wants to talk to anyone about the game. She can hold her own with the best of them. She even worked a Super Bowl in Phoenix and was interviewed on local television about her participation. The Dallas Cowboys were playing in the game, and she was and is a Dallas fan.

So…we keep watching with envy, this woman who is pushing through life with pride, determination, and joy. Go mom!

Cheers!

-N