Fading away, but starting fresh

My house is slowly losing the strongly imprinted energy of a human who resided there for years.

My mother.

She and dad moved in with hubby and I in 2000 after dad had a really bad stroke. He passed in 2002, and mom stayed for several years after he died. During part of that time she spent five years in a retirement community before coming back to us – she had physical needs costing a chunk of change each month. She moved back into the room she lived in with dad, and refreshed her energy in that space.

Now she has moved on, her physical body is resting with dad in a shared spot. They are, in our minds, together again. So the energy is fading ever so gradually.

The room, their room, is changing into a guest room with a University of Arizona theme. The walls are being painted cardinal red and navy blue. The furnishings will be different. The bedding and wall hangings conforming to the theme.

Yet…she and my father will still reside in this room that was originally built for them. Dad and mom’s UA sports memorabilia will fill the walls, joining the items we have and the things our daughter, a UA alum, is loaning us. Although the room will look strikingly different from the cozy room she passed away in, she and dad will be back.

Their human energy will fade, but memories will be nurtured for future generations to remember two cool people.

Cheers! and Bear Down,

-N

 

 

 

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My sage advice is this…listen to your instincts!

I learned a lesson, the hard way.

My daughter and grandson had just moved to Phoenix from LA last Saturday with the help of her dad. I had hoped to meet them Saturday to help unload, kiss my little fella and welcome my daughter back to her home state after twenty years in California. They got a late start and didn’t get into town until the evening. So a trip up wasn’t going to happen. We had made previous plans to meet up with our Phoenix family on Wednesday to kick back, watch fireworks and be together, but I wanted to see them, so…against my instincts to wait until July 4th, I decided instead drive up yesterday, drop off my mom at my sister’s house and go to my daughter’s new place to help her get things put together. I figured I could help her best by keeping Bubba busy while she got some stuff knocked out and settled in.

Wrong!!

Mom and I left after church, stopped for a burger and drink, and headed out on the two hour drive to my sister’s place. She lives in Glendale which is northwest Phoenix. Things were going okay until after I turned off Hwy 79 onto Hwy 60. Now remember this is mid day, summer, central Arizona. I was about two miles down the road after my turn when I heard a loud knock on the bottom of my car, drove a bit more and there was another one, then a couple more. I was getting concerned since I hadn’t noticed stuff in the road. This red car came up beside me and the woman was vigorously pointing at my front tire. Damn!

I pulled over, got out and saw I had a flat tire that was shedding chucks of tread. The couple in the red car pulled off in front and she hurried over asking if I needed anything and if they could help with changing the tire. She was dressed beautifully so I reassured her I had AAA and I didn’t want them out there on the hot asphalt changing a tire. After a few moments of convincing her I was okay they left. Called AAA, and they responded quickly and efficiently telling me I was a priority since I was on the side of the road, and informed me a truck was on its way ETA 2:41pm.

My radio clock said 1:56pm! Nearly an hour at 102° outside.

So with about fifty minutes to wait, I put up the sun screen in the wind shield, rolled down the windows, turned off the a/c and the car, and proceeded to wait. I had a bottle of water that I wet napkins for mom and I to keep cool. There was a breeze so we had good old fashioned evaporative cooling. It wasn’t cool but was survivable. We also had ice cold drinks. My mother is 88, and not in the best of health.

I was stressed.

I spent the time, letting family know the situation, where we were, and the status while I watched the progress of the Phoenix Metro Towing truck heading my way on the app provided by AAA. Just want to say, they were great and kept calling to check on  us. Anyway about 2:20pm I looked in my rear view mirror to see an Arizona State Trooper pull up behind me. Suffice to say I was relieved and knew no matter what it would be okay. He got out and came over to mom’s side and asked how we were. I said the tow truck was coming in about twenty minutes. He looked at mom and asked me if I had plenty of gas and a good a/c. I replied I did and he said to start the car, pull farther off the road, set the brake, and turn on the a/c for mom and let’s start to change the tire. I was so on this and that’s just what I did. Mom was doing okay and I was being proactive.

I discovered I had no jack!

The only thing I had was the tool to lower the spare and pump the jack. “Shit!” yep yelled that out loud to all the desert creatures and the trooper. He went around and got his jack, but it was too big to fit under the low front of the PT Cruiser with a flat. Please God!?!? But then who should drive up, Mike with Phoenix Metro Towing. The trooper told him the deal with the jack, he went and got one that worked like a charm. Mike was my new best friend! He got the flat off, and pointed out I was missing a lug nut and the lug looked like it was broken. Okay, but can the tire stay on? Yep.

Right on!

Since it was a Sunday Discount Tire and Big O Tire are closed. The closest place I could go to get two new tires was the Walmart on Apache Trail in Apache Junction. This put me about 50 miles from my sister in Glendale. Amazing Mike, after giving me directions, followed me to said Walmart and then departed for parts unknown. I pulled in and as luck would have it no waiting! But…when the attendant was checking me in and saw the lug nut/lug situation he said Walmart can’t touch it. What?!?!? Nope, the liability, but he filled the donut spare with the proper air pressure and wished me luck.

In the meantime, unknown to me, hubby had called sister to ask her to find a place that was open that could get tires. I got back on Hwy 60, headed west. I had gone about three miles when I saw a highway patrol car behind me with flashing lights pulling ME over. What now?!?! The lovely woman officer came smiling up to my car to inform me when she first ran the plates it came back as a different vehicle, but a second time it came back as my car and I was free to go. I mentioned the flat/spare situation and she said that she thought the Discount Tire on Power Road was open on Sunday so I thanked her, and once again headed out. Turned off on to Power Rd, and found the tire store right away. Nope – closed. My sister called at that point to say her hubby had found a Pep Boys on Peoria and 67th that would do the work, was waiting for me and they closed a 6pm. It was 3:25 and 107°. I asked her to ask him if he thought I was good on the spare for the forty miles and I heard him say “Yes!” so back on the 60 we go.

I know there were plenty of drivers yesterday who were cussing the lady driving the purple PT Cruiser down the highway at 60mph but screw ’em, I had no options if that donut failed!

Twenty minutes later I pulled into the Pep Boys parking lot. I went inside and told the guy at the counter I was the lady with the Cruiser. He looked at me like I was speaking Klingon. He told me  that when the guy called he told them he couldn’t do it. This isn’t happening. I had to have something work out. My brother-in-law showed up and when he talked to the guy he realized it was the Pep Boys on Peoria and 75th, so off we went. We walked inside, and up to the service counter.  Manuel at the counter turned to another guy and asked if he talked to a man about tires for a PT Cruiser. He said, “Not me, that was Devin. Hey Devin, the guy with the cruiser is here.” I let out a huge breath, handed over the keys, got in my brother-in-law’s car and mom and I went to my sisters house.

My brain in a fog, my head aching and my mom very quiet, I ate, played with my grandson and hugged my daughter who were waiting there for us.

An hour later I had the car back, with two new front tires – mom and I would make it home. The Cruiser has an appointment this Friday to get the lug fixed, two new back tires and an oil change.

If I had followed my initial instinct to wait until Wednesday, my husband would have been with us, there is a good chance the tire would have been flat and replaced before we left, and I would have had a fun time with my family celebrating our great nation’s birthday.

Wednesday is off the schedule now since the Cruiser is going to the car doctor. The family had planned a get together here in Catalina on the 14th so I will still have family time.

Listen to your instincts.

Cheers!

-N

I’m still here

Hello all,

The past two weeks have been busy. Almost too busy, but I’m still here.

Busy, and unfortunately no writing. I’ve been squeezing in a bit of research reading and writing a few notes but not actual creative stretches of time. It’s distressing and disturbing to the writer in me. Instead I’ve been in the middle of cleaning, cooking, going to hospital and appointments with doctors for mom who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Adjustments are being made to the lifestyle of hubby and I since she lives with us.

However, welcoming my daughter and grandson for a visit this weekend has been a joy. He is a three year old who can keep all of the adults on their toes. But he is so fun.

So tonight I plan to sit down alone in my room, after I am “off duty” taking care of mom, and will try to plot the last several chapters of my current book. No stopping until I make some progress. I expect more doctor/hospital visits this coming week.

So that’s it for now.

Cheers!

-N

June-here, hot and busy

After a call this morning from my niece about her visit this month, I looked at my calendar for June and found several things going on. I better take my vitamins.

First, the 100’s will hit Catalina AZ tomorrow! Damn, I’m not ready but at least they held off until now, so I only have to make it through one month and then monsoon season will show up to help my water bill. I can do that, yep I can. The spa is not heated so I can dunk myself, fully clothed, a couple of times a day to stay cool.

Second, my 88 year old mother will have a diagnostic procedure and followup appointments this month. It is part of a recent discovery made about her medical condition that will need monitoring. Yeah, that’s about all I can say on that one.

Third, my daughter and my grandson will make two trips out to Arizona from California this month. The first time will be mid month to do some logistics setting up the second visit. That one is her permanent move to Arizona for a new job in Phoenix!! Okay color this human ecstatically happy! Charlie will only be two hours from me-his Nannie. Melissa is having some strong emotions about this move since she has been in LA since 1997. She will leave lots of very close friends that make up the village who have been there for her while she fostered and adopted Charlie. They are family. But hopefully not too far away for visits.

Fourth, my great niece Kali will be coming down from Phoenix to stay with us for several days, and we will begin her Tucson indoctrination – haha. Phoenix and Tucson are so very different. Phoenix is the big metropolis with freeways, concrete and asphalt, tall glass towers, and very oppressive heat. As is typical of a city like Phoenix there is a lot of things to do. Tucson is also a big city, but because of a our surrounding mountains ranges our weather is not quite as hot. Don’t get me wrong it is hot here but rarely will Tucson have temps over 115. Phoenix does.

Anyone who visits needs to drive up to Mount Lemmon, and we plan to bring Kali up there for yummy cookies, homemade fudge, and a visit to the Living Rainbow gift shop. Also a ride on the ski lift to the top of the mountain (over 9000′) and a trip to Sabino Canyon to play in the creek and have a picnic. Tucson has avoided expanses of freeways; some of us regret that, others are glad for it. Our mountains may not be Colorado mountains but they get enough snow for skiing in the winter and a right out my front door.

So we plan to introduce Tucson to Kali in all of its laid back coolness.

So this month will be hot and busy. But that is life.

Cheers!

-N

Mom brain

I use Marco Polo to video chat with my kids and hubby. It is an easy app that works like a video walkie-talkie. It’s great to see their faces while chatting, and I have the app on my tablet and phone.

I had a chat with my son last night that was a bit unnerving. We were talking about them preparing for Hurricane Irma who is now a category 5 and is likely to hit Florida. My kids live in Orlando. The governor of Florida has declared the entire state in emergency status.

Our family are still dealing with damage and clean up of my aunt and her children who live in the Houston area. Waiting for updates was stressful. Watching Harvey hover over Seabrook was scary. Even a hurricane prone region with time tested preparation can only handle so much water and wind.

My son and daughter-in-law are living in our 5th wheel in an RV park. It is water tight so rain isn’t an issue, but the wind is the nemesis of a trailer. He was talking about locating the nearest shelters, storing important documents and possessions, asking us to check on our insurance coverage: it gave me pause. My first thought was a mom thought “I have to go to him!” but then the reality of the situation expanded in my mind and that’s the last thing he needs.

He is a smart man, with common sense. If he needs to he will talk to his dad about the details, and take care of his wife and himself. I know this rationally, but my mother brain wants to protect him. He’s my baby. It would be no different with my daughter. I’ve told hubby if a big earthquake happened in LA I would go. But…she is strong and smart, and unless she calls I would be in the way.

Yet, it is hard to stay here. I will pray and wait.

Cheers!

-N

I’m blocked!

I’m blocked! The muse has fled and left me in a puddle of no inspiration. I’ve searched through notes, tried to play with plotting, looked for images, talked it out with a few people, pretty much everything that should get the creative brain plugging on.

I’m confused about why this is dragging on.

Some of this is because of stress I’m sure. There are several things stressing out this woman. My mother living here and being responsible for her everyday care has messed with my writing schedule and space. She needs help with everything from getting her meals to showering. It’s almost as if the everyday grind of reality has squashed the fantasy world this writer lives in when the words flow.

All of my focus is her and what she needs. It’s true when they say we change places with the parent at a certain point in aging. It seems I am on-call so to speak.

Maybe I need an escape, but I’m bound here right now. Perhaps the inspiration is just on vacation.

What do you do when the cursed writers block strikes?

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