"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Helen Left the Building!

I Think we all feel guilty when our parents pass away; for what we did; or did not do.

When the Doctor recommended Helen to be put into hospice I decided to get permission to leave my missionary area to make a visit. I could leave our assignment for an emergency but wondered if it was really necessary to travel to California. I had been there the previous month and Helen was eating well and was her usual complaining self. I hesitated to ask for the leave. as I  remember my friend Dee's mom was put on Hospice and she survived for three years. Tim my brother said, "Help mother manage her money. She's not going anywhere until she's 105.

I began to wonder if this was going to mark the end, or would my mom cling to all that she knew and reach my brother's prophecy. Mother was stubborn and a tough woman in many ways. I did not really believe this would be the end. I  thought that she would hang-on for a long time. But I drove to California anyway.

This time my visits with her were good. Not like some of the contentious ones previously where she was angry because she didn't bring her sewing-machine. This time, over a period of three days, I had 7 or 8 excellent short visits. I learned to be brief. I knew that for the first ten minutes she would make sense. Then she would get angry and start yelling, or talk about crazy things, or be paranoid or drift off asleep in the middle of a word. It was also best to keep the visits short so I could go to the hotel and gird my loins for the next salvo of conversation bombs.

In between talking to my mother I spent time reading and signing all the papers to set her up in hospice. I was hoping this would help pay for some of her medications...even diapers, so that her little pot of gold would last till she was the designated 105 yrs.

I understood her paranoia to some extent. Things had disappeared! Her flip phone was gone within a week. AND she wore it in a case around her neck.  This loss made me particularly sad because I knew she felt isolated. But on the other hand she had led an isolated life...maybe it was more sad for me because I couldn't call and find out how she was doing. I had to wait for one of her caregivers to be kind enough to call me on their phone. 

The few pieces of jewelry I didn't sell I left with her at the care facility. I wanted her to enjoy her things but on several visits she told me to take rings and watches home. "I know they must come in when I'm sleeping and take my few nice things." I left some pieces of costume jewelry and these disappeared. She wore a silver charm necklace that Timothy bought for her on one of their cruises. She never took it off and clung to it desperately. On this last visit she was not wearing the necklace. I didn't ask her where it was but looked through all her boxes and night table. I couldn't find it. 

When I left on the last day, I kissed  her and reminded her that this was her early birthday visit. "Mom, I'll come back in late October." We hugged. She felt so thin. While driving away, my thoughts said, "This is the last time you will see your mom." I pushed the thought down and away. "No, she will live to 105, like my brother said."

The Hospice nurse called me every week, sometimes twice a week to tell me all they were doing for my mom. The thing they stressed was that they were managing her pain. This made me so happy. Since I can remember my mom, Helen, has complained of pain. She was allergic to aspirin and many other pain medications. As she grew older her childhood Scoliosis and Osteoporosis and Kyphosis (dowagers' hump) ruled her life. The last 6 or 7 years she sat sideways. Timothy would say, "Mom, sit up straight."

Patrick, Rebecca, Megan, Mike, Grandma Helen Pat the Mom, Pat the Dad...colleen is missing...

I think the last time we all had a get-together was in 2014. She was a good sport and we loved teasing her.

Two weeks after I met with the hospice nurse and had all the paperwork in place I got a call around 4 in the afternoon. The nurse who did the initial evaluation said "Your Mom is failing, you may want to come see her. "Should I leave right away, I'm in Tucson?" I asked. "No, don't drive all night, you'll be fine. Start out in the morning" he suggested."  "Okay, I'll be there by noon." 

Another call came at 6:00 am. I was already three hours from Santa Clarita as I had left the house at 2:30 am. "Are you on the road?" Doty the nurse asked. "Yes, I'm more than half way there." "Good," he said, I think this may be Miss Helen's time." "I'll be there soon,"

 At 7:00 am, my daughter Colleen called. "Mom she's gone."  "Are you there with her? I asked. "I didn't know you were in California."  "I'm here visiting my boyfriend and had the funny feeling I needed to visit grandma.  When I came in the room I said "Hi Grandma." The nurse at the bedside said after she heard my voice she took her last breath.

In two hours I was at the bedside. I saw my mom looking thin and pasty, and obviously dead. I kissed her on the cheek. They had called the mortician at Glen Haven Cemetery. They came with a green gurney, picked her up and whisked her down the hall. "Bye Mom. Say Hi to Dad." 

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 Helen in Hospice:  Ruth, Helen, and cousins
  • It has now been almost a year that my mom, Helen, has lived at Pacifica assisted living. I selected this place to be near my brother as he has been her care trustee since I moved to Gilbert Arizona. The weird thing is that even though in the past he had made mother breakfast and visited her every day, when I moved her to Pacifica, he never saw her once. By that time, I think he was consumed with pain and despair and the realization that his life was coming to an end. On one of my last visits to see Tim he had his best friend, who was a lawyer, come over to help transfer Helen’s executor responsibilities from him to me because he knew the end was near. After putting up a valiant fight with cancer, the outlook was grim.

  • Before that day the hopes were high that after his Whipple Procedure he would fully recover. I remember taking him out to lunch and telling him, “You know we have planned on serving a mission for the church and I want to know if you will be okay to still care for mother. I will pay for her meals on wheels if you can take care of Maria’s charges. (Maria came in the afternoon and stayed for dinner and put Helen into bed.) Although Helen said “I like Todd to put Me to bed because he gives me a big hug.” But sometimes she did not remember who Todd was (her grandson) and said “There are Two Todds, one nice, one not so nice! “Tim and I talked about a lot of things, but not dying or death. He avoided the topic, the same as my dad the last time I saw him when he was at Motion Picture hospital. At the end of our talk on that day, Tim said “Don’t worry, I got this.” I had a friend who recovered from pancreatic cancer and prayed that Tim’s optimism would help his wishes come true. Not so. and after a short time he didn’t have much energy left. No patience for mom’s complaints, or demands or orders to do something or other when he was trying to cope and hurting.

  • So there we were signing papers turning Mother’s finances over to me. Patrick and I had already made the commitment to serve as the missionaries to the construction of the Tucson Temple and felt a bit overwhelmed at my dual responsibilities. So I was trying to do the duty of caring for my mother like I hope my children will care for me. Mother has been cared for all her life, often by me, so why not now too…

  • I called a good friend in Santa Clarita and asked advice about Helen’s finances. I was somewhat reluctant to discuss this matter with her and was happy to take his advice. “Do nothing, but get her account down to under $150 thousand.” And I plan to do this ASAP. I did not want to talk to her about having the money transferred to me as a trustee due to the fact that often she became paranoid, blaming everyone for taking her things and her money. 

  • Sometimes her conversation was a bit bizarre. After Tim passed away late December with the funeral in January she got even more confused. All her friends have died and all relatives, including her son, are also gone. I am the only exception. So she calls me Ruth, her sister, who passed two years ago, and even Lou-la her friend who is also gone. And she refers to my husband Patrick as Dad (Herm her husband,) and also Tim.   Patrick Hiking...

  • Sometimes she even gets me messed up with her crazy reality. “I’m in Palm Springs and the pool is a mess. The boys are not taking care of this house.” Rather than argue I said, “I’ll call Todd and make sure he can get out there and clean the pool. Don’t worry.” I decided to go along with her confusion to see if that was a better choice…rather than be yelled at! But the outcome the same. Manipulation, whining, demands and guilt, the gift that keeps on giving. And how can I blame her for now her world is down to a room with her few remaining things. (At least the few things she has left that the staff have not stolen.)          

  • But I am pretty sure she is better off than my brother-in-law Don who is in a convalescent home in Kanab Utah. Last time my daughter visited he told her not only is a good pal of John Wayne, but he is also a Doctor. He told her he was a gynecologist and does "Lady exams." Then he explained..."call before you come here next time and make an appointment as I am very busy." She called us and said "He is completely off his rocker!" 
  • Back to mother...she is losing weight even though she eats everything they put in front of her. She can no longer stand or bear her own weight. She must be lifted out of bed by two care givers. The doctor is putting her on hospice which is end of life care. She already has a plot next to Herman her love of over 50 years who died 20 years ago. 

  • I have decided that when we get bad…Patrick and I. We will fly a plane upside through a barn so we can leave this world together and blazing on to heaven! Of course first, we’ll have to buy a plane and a barn. But heck I refuse to spend my last 20 years alone. Maybe that’s why Helen is so nasty…naw she’s been unpleasant for 99 years. I tell my husband that’s why I’m such a sweetie so he has a lot to thank Helen for, and maybe just maybe so do I.

Red Tape and Dumb Rules, Helen update!

     Now that we are in Tucson...
with amazing cactus everywhere. It is also the land of flat roofs squatting behind weeds and cactus. Where are the houses I wondered..."There and over there." a native Tucson-ion will say. "I can't see anything," I respond. "That's the point." But "why," I ask. "Is everyone on a witness protection program? Or an escaped felon," I query. Silence follows...Hmm, and no night lighting either. Now as a person who lived in California, San Fernando to be exact; to have no lighting is disconcerting to say the least! I want to be able to see the attacker or pick-pocket coming. I don't like the stealth attitude around Tucson where every Tom, Dick and Harry has a gun on their hip...Product Details
But don't tell anyone I feel uncomfortable especially the cactus hugging rock people of Tucson. The the thought passes through my head, "Why the heck did Edison labor, low those many years ago, to invent lighting?...
Answer: So you could SEE Stuff silly.

We have also found this to be an area where u-turns are rampant. In most places you are discouraged from doing u-turns to avoid a collision with right turning people. However, In Tucson...the "no left turn signals" are rampant...so you are encouraged to advance to a special u turn place. Image result for panhandlers
And guess what you get to ride by the pan-handlers twice every time you need to turn. The bum patrol are in every median and on every corner... unavoidable... but to make you pass by twice and experience raging guilt unless you open the window and give the unclean vagrant money to go buy drugs is not fair. I calculated the number of corner beggars and figured out I would soon be standing there with them if I responded to their watery eyes and sad faces. A few have dogs and cats.  HEY "I can't afford a pet right now so how can they?" Answer, They Can't. 

Image result for u turn signBut for a few bucks you can buy pet food with your hard earned social security!
Back to U-turns made by the mush & prune crowd. HA! Give one of those 90 year olds the u turn command and they make that turn slowly while yanking on the wheel with non-muscular arms... then barely one other person can make the turn during the green arrow cycle ...resulting in the second car making the turn on the red light and taking their life in their hands!!! You are also a sitting duck for a right turn accident as most "oldie" u-turn folks swing wide...and end up in the far lane where a right turn person should be. Having studied the rules I know any turn...right or left or u-turn; You are to end up into the closest lane...but often the "swing wide" crowd ends up in the opposite farthest lane possible...ready for the accident, insurance, and ambulance chassers to fly in like vultures to "take care of everything" including your wallet. 
Helen called me yesterday, "Come get me." "Where are you," I asked. I'm sitting right here in front of the cemetery." 

I Said "Mom, look around and tell me what you see." Silence, long pause, "I'm at the gas station across the street from the cemetery where Tim is." 
"Mom, who called me then gave you their phone? Are you sitting on your flowered couch or in your bed? I hear your television going." "I'm at the cemetery." "Mom did you have a dream and wake up and think it was real?" Give the phone to the lady who is in your room so I can talk to her." "Well, you are no help whatsoever."
She hands the phone to the caregiver who says, "Your mom is fine, I think she had a dream." "So do I," I said thanks for letting her call." I decided not to ask her to show mother how to work her phone. I'll send a message to Todd tomorrow and ask him to visit. 
I was upset after the call and was reassured by Patrick that there was nothing I could do to make it better and to be glad she wasn't meeting John Wayne for lunch at the Grand Canyon like his brother told him he did last week! But, that sounded like a lot more fun than sitting in front of a cemetery. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Are there Miracles?

How do you Measure a Miracle?

My new book about my son's head injury is now available on Amazon and Create Space for only $7.75, and you can download on Kindle for $4.

But my sense of fairness kicked in and when they asked what price to ask for the download if a customer bought the book, I said, "If they bought the hard copy, then the download should be free." What a bargain!

I hope many of you enjoy my journey to discover the truth about miracles...