"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

Friday, September 18, 2015

James Dean and Left Hand Turns!

I am beginning to feel somewhat like an Arizona-ite. I've lived here for 18 months and have suffered through two summers of 116+ temperatures, Aha-boo dust storms, Monsoons, Micro-bursts of wind that knock down full grown trees. But cannot get used to all the accidents at major intersections.
I hate to refer to my past state of residence, however, I have never seen so many fender benders and considering we lived for many years in the land of fruit and Nuts where everyone drives fast. James Dean was a speedster who drove down one of the Canyons near our old house and crashed. He died from driving too fast ...not from a left hand turn.

Living in Calif. was not all that wonderful in the auto department. I was rear-ended twice while sitting at a red light. I also was subjected to kids in parking lots opening doors so wide they dented the sides of my beloved Infinity 35. (those dents have never been fixed...why bother, it will happen again) 

My mom's friend, Dolores, who used to drive her to the mall would make 4 right turns rather hand one left...she knew her limitations and took precautions. At least until she drove through the front of her Dr.s office. and had her license taken away.

I saw weirdos daily. A woman driving with a purse covering her entire head. A man in rainbow dreadlocks bouncing out the moon roof of his car while grooving to music. Another with a cracked and duct taped windshield was driving with his head out the window and the best was when I saw a guy kissing an iguana while behind the wheel, stopped at a red light. But amazingly, no accidents occurred from that kind of creative behavior.
I do like the freedoms of Arizona. You can drive listening music with two ear-buds in place. One time I got a ticket soon after I passed the border into California for having two ear-buds in place..."In Cali, young lady, you can only have one "bud" in one ear," I was told by the cop who wrote me a $150 ticket. 

So what's the deal here in the state where you can wear a gun into Walmart? Has the incredible heat fried car driver's brains? Is that why so many people have problems with left turns. I know getting into a car that has been sitting and baking in the valley of the sun is a challenge. You can easily get 3rd degree burns from the steering wheel or by sitting on the plastic seat. But I don't think it is the heat...
The real problem is all the snowbirds who are pushing 100 yrs old and are still clinging to their driver's licence...with their eye sight and reflexes shot...No wonder I am overly cautious going through intersections... (even with the green arrow flashing to make a left turn)...who knows what some crazed heat stroke senior citizen of Arizona will do? And most have guns under the front seat of their vehicle. OH MY!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Things don't change!

One day while teaching at College of the Canyons, I told my nursing students that at various times I took care of family members who were unable to care for themselves. I explained that they were unable to speak. They had to be fed and most had no teeth. They could not walk and had to be carried or pushed around. And all were totally incontinent of bladder and bowel. I told them somberly that I loved each one of them.

I added bits of sad detail and before long most of the 30 students had wet eyes and were blowing their noses. Halfway through the class I confessed to them that those incontinent people were my five children when they were babies! Oh! Were they mad at me for manipulating their emotions when I told them the "rest of the story"...I continued on and said.

"As we go into this long term care facility and you care for your patients many will be like those infants I lovingly took care of. They will have difficulty communicating, maybe have no teeth, be unable to feed themselves, some will not be able to walk, and most will be incontinent. Care for them tenderly as if they are your parents, or your babies..."

It seems a little joke of our heavenly father that we leave this earth as we arrived; unable to care for ourselves. And I have also wondered why are babies so loved and cherished. Yet the elderly, who may be in the same condition as infants, are not so fun to care for, or to be around.

Maybe this is because some people, will get unreasonable, selfish and nastier as time goes on. Yet, others have told me their parents, who were difficult when they were growing up,...seemed to soften and mellow as the years passed, I guess you can never know!
But no matter what, we all go through this life knowing that one day it will end. Some of us will choose to be the grumpy old aunt, uncle, or parent. The ones no one wants to care for....like the baby with colic that no matter what you do, they fuss, they cry and complain.

We can also learn a lot from those who pass this earthly life with acceptance, grace, kindness, and an understanding that their loved ones are doing their very best to make their last days the best that they can be.   

Patrick and I were given a call not long ago from two dear friends from our past.
Don playing twister...Don and Patrick holding Brad and Little Pat
When we were in our 20's Don was Patrick's catcher for the ball team he pitched for. We had such fun travelling with the team. Ann and I were pregnant with our first babies at the same time. We shared the joy of the births of our boys and talked and laughed about the future. Soon after that the Barnes moved away to pursue Doctorate degrees in education. (We bought their house.) 
Fast Pitch Softball for North Hollywood Third Ward...
We kept in touch through the years but soon contact became only Christmas letters. Both families shared news and weddings each year. At one point when the Barnes were teaching at the University of Southern Utah, our youngest daughter lived with them for a semester. Don and Ann were always upbeat and fun to be around. Even through the difficulty of learning about a debilitating diagnosis of their first born, Brad. They worked hard to make sure he could be independent even though he had a rare disease called Tuberous Sclerosis. (Brad has worked as a janitor at an elementary school for over 20 years. It is said by many teachers that he IS the school.) After they knew Brad was safe and happy they traveled the world while teaching. 

Their phone call began, "You guys are on our bucket list." Wow, what an honor when you think about it. A few weeks later they had business in our area and came by for a brief visit. We planned  to take a cruise together, because, Ann has pancreatic cancer and has gone through very painful treatments and surgeries so she can have one day, one week or one year, or one moment more with her family. She is enjoying each second of her life. They had been on several cruises during Ann's recovery, and they wanted to share the fun they were having with us. How could we say,"No."
Pat and Ann at Green Gables 
We had so much fun playing remember when? Talking and sharing the last 30 years of our lives. I soon realized Ann is amazing in her attitude. She smiles and laughs through the good and the bad. She is ready for any adventure. Don does everything he can to make sure her life is meaningful and full of fun. I love and admire them both. 
Patrick, Patricia Ann & Don Barnes
Knowing them had made me realize how important it is to find joy in each day, to look for the good not the bad. As we reach our expiration dates, (kinda like what you see on the salad you buy in a bag, or on a milk carton) I want to make sure I can suck up bad moments and not let poor health or a difficult situation sour my attitude. I want to make sure that everyone knows of my appreciation for kindness and love freely given. I want to keep my sensibility and my mind so I can cling to my Cherub like demeanor to my last breath.               I hope, I hope, I,,,


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Oh Helen... How Sad!

Patrick and I arrive in Santa Clarita after a 7 hour drive from Arizona to see how the estate sale is going. We
want to finish clearing out Helen's condo so it will sell. It is still packed with treasures.

After that we go to Helen's Assisted living apartment. The moment we walk in she is already complaining. 
"You have a house, Tim has a house, Todd has a house...I have nothing," she is crying.
"But mom, remember we need to sell your things so you have money to live. Remember I told you we are helping you gather a pot of gold."
"How much did you get for the Estate Sale?'
"Not sure, but we hope it is enough to pay for the painters to fix up the living room with those high ceilings...and the loft too. We also want to have the carpet cleaned. Then next week we can put it up for sale. We talked to the realtor and he said to get a quick sale we needed to clean it up. Patrick and I are washing the other walls and cleaning out everything. Boxing up the leftovers to donate."
" So you made nothing...NOTHING!"
" Mom it is really too bad that it rained buckets for the two days of the sale...I think that didn't encourage folks to come by and have a look...and I guess you didn't understand me last week when I tried to explain...half the money will go to the people who set up the sale. That is for all their work: two days pricing everything and advertising, then two days at the condo dickering with customers for the best price. There were 4 people working. They had it looking like a fancy boutique."
"But you have nothing for all my beautiful things. OR my sewing machine"
"Mom you have not touched that sewing machine for years."
"I need to fix Tim's lace tablecloth."
"That has been sitting in the living room to be fixed for over four years."
"I can't get up the stairs."
"I know...so...We sold the machine to someone who was so happy to have it."
Helen glares and gives a very dirty look...
"Mom...please listen! The money will pay for the repairs to the condo...Patrick and I have been cleaning so it can sell."
"My house was not dirty. I cleaned it all the time."
"No mom! it was dirty...You couldn't get out of your wheelchair to clean for 2 years...the cleaning ladies only did the top stuff, not the walls or doors, or corners...look at my hands...all chipped and worn from cleaning."
"Not dirty."
NEXT DAY telephone conversation
"So! do you have something to say."
"About What?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You came into my room while I was downstairs for dinner...and took my phone charger!"
"Mother! Why would I do that...we have been boxing up your stuff that did not sell to donate to the Hope Rescue Mission. We have been in your condo all day long . I did not take anything, you must have lost it."
"Did not!"
"I'll see you tomorrow."
"Hi mom." As I walk into the room.
Silence from Helen...looking at her hands and picking at a bag around her neck...
"How are you?" I say.
Silence, Helen looks up with nasty mean eyes...but says nothing.
"Mom, please stop! Everyone here and your family want to help you! I am sorry you can't be in the condo, but you cannot walk up the stairs. I promised to find you a nice place...look around, many of your things are here, your couch, TV, bookcases, tables and chairs; even your dishes; All so you can feel like this is home. Look! Patrick is putting up your pictures."
"I want to be in my house."

"Mom, I know you do; but we talked about this. We found you this nice place to live with people to help you day and night. We need to sell the condo to pay for this. You are lucky you can sell it and have your pot of gold."
"You spent my pot."
"I spent it on you so you can be in a nice place. and please don't forget to be nice to the people who are helping you...nice to family and staff so you will get good care and you can be happy."
"Where is my charger?"
I pick up her handbag on the floor, find her phone charger and give it to her.
She begins to wind the cord and won't look at me.
"Well mom, see you tomorrow."
"Hi mom."
"How are you doing."
"Are you done ranting at me."
"Mom, I'm not ranting, I'm trying to explain things to you."
"Todd came by and explained everything and now I understand. Why couldn't you explain like him."
"I'm glad he explained it so you understand...
We are going home to Arizona tomorrow, but will be back next week for the carpet cleaning."
"How is Tim, why won't he call me?"
"Maybe because it tires him out...he is very sick."
"I know he's sick but he could call and make sure I'm okay."
I'm not surprised that it is all about Helen, but that is how it has always been.
"Here are the tums you wanted mom. I brought enough diapers for a few months because after next week we won't be back for a while."
"I'm getting up." uh uh uh Uh Uh UH UH! Don't help me.
"Mom, you can't do that...you'll fall...push the button and call for the nurse...(I give her a kiss and she turns her head.)
We have to go...see you next week."

I left feeling like every time I talk to my mother I'm down the rabbit hole in Wonderland. Everything is twisted around and topsy turvy! so "Where is the white rabbit?"

New Development
The phone rang and Patrick's older brother has been diagnosed with dementia and is wandering around the streets. Guess we may move him to a lock up facility in Tucson when we move there...His wife said "He went outside in nothing but his diaper." His wife can't manage him anymore! What makes her think we can manage him? Am I losing my mind or am I simply the bologna in the sandwich, with pressure on all sides...covered with mayonnaise and green relish!

Has anyone else been in this kind of a situation...please let me know...and let me know how you managed to get through it with your sanity! Anyone! Anyone? Anyone?

UP-date! We came home for four days, did a bit of laundry and drove back to Calif. We arrived just as the carpet cleaners pulled up. The homeless mission will pick up the last of Helen's belongings. Then we painted and cleaned and packed and by Monday the condo will be on the market.
We visited Helen before we left. We were both dirty, covered with paint and obviously exhausted. She wanted me to put up more of her pictures and put away dishes and move things around...finally Patrick said, I'm tired and starving, we didn't have lunch so we need to go. As I went over to give her a hug she demanded, "When will you be back." I told her we would be back for her Birthday Sept 16 when she will be 98. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Revised Chapter Three "The Chiasmus Cipher"

Chapter Three
07:50 PM, June 10,
300 N. 42 E. Young’s Farm
Alton, Utah


    Tory drove down the main street and out of town to the first farm house. It was painted yellow with a wraparound porch and a red front door. She pulled passed the house to a converted garage which was so small you could hardly call it an apartment. Tory had planned to review her data when she got home but had left her pack at the office. Regret was forgotten when she got to the front steps. “Right now, all I want is a long hot shower.” 
     She opened the door, and reached over to the light. Switch. Tory looked around at the once neat room. Her books were pulled off the shelves, and papers had exploded across the room. The file cabinet in the corner holding her research and other documents was gaping open.
     Camping equipment was dumped out of the duffel bag into a jumbled heap in the middle of the room. Someone had gone through her stuff and left a huge mess. 
     With shock and growing anger she thought, “What’s going on; am I the joke of a day. This really stinks.” She got scared, “Oh no, what if the robber is still here?” 
    Grabbing her keys, she ran back to her truck to get her pistol and flashlight, but instead grabbed the old softball bat in the bed of her truck. She came cautiously back into the confusion of the room holding the bat above her shoulder, ready to swing away. The only place anyone could hide was behind the counter, or in the bathroom. She moved forward slowly, listening carefully for any indication someone was hiding. Seeing no one in the kitchen area, she silently went across to the bathroom. Throwing the door open she shined the beam into all the corners and found nothing except some towels on the floor that needed to see some detergent soon.
     “I’m beginning to feel stupid.”  
     Tory went to the phone and stood there wondering who to call. She had only moved in a week ago and didn’t want to call the sheriff and be the new comer who complained. It was hard enough to fit in as an out-of-towner. Usually, unless you were born into a small town, you were looked at with suspicion.
     She thought, “Maybe it’s the same guy from the mountain snooping around to check out the latest move-in. Geese, this is a pile to clean up. I don’t have time for this.” 
     After the extraordinary departure the shooter he certainly could have beaten her back to town and still have time to ransack her room. She needed somehow to find out if any locals were into base-jumping.
     “So, What should I do?” she thought grimly.
     Quickly looking through her scattered papers she concluded her research was accounted for.
     “Maybe it was a prank, an initiation test, or something dumb like that.” She began to think of all the stupid stuff she had done as a kid. “But after what happened up on the mountain, there must be something else behind it.” Continuing to look through the jumble, she thought of the only person she knew of who lived nearby and resolutely picked up the phone.
     Bobby Hawk was a friend from the track team and after graduation he came to Southern Utah to work at a community clinic while waiting for his medical school entrance results to come back. She wondered if his cell number would still work, and decided to give it a try. As the phone rang, she looked at her watch and realized it was getting late. 
     Bobby answered on the first ring with his usual, “Yup,” and brightened with recognition when he heard her voice, “Is that you Tory?"
     After a few greetings, Tory got to the point.
     “Is that clinic you work at anywhere near Alton? She asked.
     She gave him the condensed version of her day and then asked, “What would you do?  I’m not scared or anything. Should I call the Sheriff over a prank and stir things up?”
     “The town where you’re renting is only a few miles down the road from where I am in Glendale. Give me the directions. I can be there in ten minutes to check things out.”
     “You don’t have to do that. I only wanted to get some advice.”
     Bobby interrupted, “Well, guess what. I’m already in the car and heading your way, so give me the street and how to get there.”
     “Okay, thanks, um, the house is on the main road, Highway 87. The house is yellow with a barn and pasture full of cows.  It says 300 on the mailbox where you turn in. The garage is behind the house. You’ll see my truck parked by a door on the side.”
     “Ah, your old Junker, I won’t miss that. See you in a few.”
     The duffel bag was almost re-packed with her camping gear by the time Bobby got to the door. He gave a few staccato knocks and then walked right in. 
     With one step Bobby was across the room, pulled Tory up off the floor and encircled her with his powerfully built arms. He looked around over the top of her head, and then ran a hand through his thick black hair to get the wavy mop from his eyes. He and gave a low whistle then   stepped back and looked into her questioning eyes.
     “Sorry, kiddo, you got a mess here, but better you than me. I’m so tied up these days; this mess would pretty much stay where sits until I moved out.” 
     Bobby’s 6’5” lean muscular body and broad shoulders filled the small living space and made Tory realize how tiny the room was, but heck she thought.
     “What do you want for $250 a month, plus utilities?” 
     At least she didn’t have to share the bathroom with three other girls like at school.
     She watched the easy way he moved about the cramped space and remembered the first time they met when they were both freshmen.
     During the orientation meeting for summer track she held back and watched to see how everyone interacted. The only person she knew was the field coach who came to the state championship when she was in shot-put finals and talked to her about a scholarship for ASU. There was a cold reception from the veteran team members so the new additions stuck together. She and Bobby grew to be friends, and ended up lab partners in chemistry. The last few semesters they even lived in the same apartment complex.
     She started to pick up the papers trying to get them into piles and watched him go around the room carefully looking over everything. He studied the window latch.
     “Whoever or whatever it was got in through the window. You must have left it open. Tory, you should be more careful.” 
     “Yeah, I know…so, what do you think, call the cops or let it go?”
     “Well, is anything missing, or vandalized?” 
     “From what I’ve been able to tell—no, nothing, only my stuff messed up.”
     “If it was me, I’d let it go, and figure if it happened again I‘d try to set a trap. Ya know, city girl, with that window open it could’ve been a raccoon. Did you leave any food out?
     Tory tried to remember, “I don’t think so.”
     “I‘ve had those cute looking raccoons be really bold, climb right up my leg to take food out of my hand. This is the kind of mess they leave. But then again with what you told me happened up on the mountain—I don’t know.”
     “I suppose it could have been a raccoon. I left before sunup, when those things prowl. I feel so dumb. But it doesn’t seem so cut and dry. I sure wish you were two doors down from me like you used to be.”
     “For one thing, I’m not leaving you alone tonight. If someone comes back at least they’ll know you’re not the lone woman who doesn’t know anyone in town."
     “Yeah perfect, around here, they’ll simply think I’m a wild woman with a guy in my room. But thanks. I don’t want to be alone tonight.”
     Bobby went back to his car, got his worn sleeping bag and a thirty-aught-six rifle from the back seat under the floor mat. Before he came in, he walked beyond the garage and parking area to look into the pasture. He saw a good sized barn and a chicken coop at the far end of the property. As he approached the cedar fence, a scruffy black and white spotted cow came up and put her head down for him to scratch.
     “Somebody’s pet,” he thought and reached out to scratch the soft fluff between the animal’s horns. She leaned into the fence to get closer. He tracked back and forth across the pasture with his wary deep green eyes penetrating the darkness and saw nothing unusual under the star lit night.
     He decided not to tell Tory he was worried and that he thought the events of the day were a bit bizarre. He didn’t want to keep her from getting her job completed. He knew how much it meant to her because he was there when she got her acceptance letter. She’d been dancing around and high-jumped over the couch into his arms—war whooping like a crazy girl.
     All of his buddies had been jealous of their relationship. Most of the guys he hung out with were rough country boys who drooled over her type; a city girl with curves and brains. She was an untouchable to him.
     Somehow, she reminded him of his sisters back on the reservation—fun loving and athletic. Because of that he treated her with the easy familiarity of a brother. She was in lots of his classes and his statistics study group. He never asked her out, not that the thought hadn’t occurred to him. He always got tongue tied around her and made the excuse that he didn’t want to wreck a good thing. Inside there was a much darker reason for not getting close to her. But his friends at school didn’t know about his background so they thought he was nuts not to ask her on a date. They all knew he had a crush on her.
     He turned and went back to the small garage looking around once again before he went inside and locked the door behind him.
     “Got any ice-cream?”
     Tory began to laugh, remembering the late night study group sessions and Bobby’s addiction.
     “I think so Kemo Sabe,” using her playful nick-name for him.
     She went over to the fridge clunking away in the corner and located some ice cream toward the back of the freezer. She found two bowls, located clean spoons and put some chocolate syrup on the mounds of vanilla. “Sorry no Strawberry, I know it’s your favorite.”
     Bobby was sitting on the lumpy gold couch, thumbing through the papers on the floor and without looking, reached up a waiting hand for the bowl.
     “Bobby, is this your dinner?  You always had a way with junk food that made me forget a proper diet.” She savored a small bit of ice cream from her bowl and mumbled, “Well, so much about me and my problems.”
     She pulled off her hiking boots and curled up in the tattered recliner chair.
     “Tell me about your job.”
     He looked up as he responded,“It’s okay. I’m working with kids at the clinic, but I can’t wait to get my test results back and see if I have a shot at med. school."
     “Do you know where you want to send your applications yet?”
     “I have some ideas, but the scores will let me know if I should waste my time and money sending the results off to a high power school. I’ve been thinking about UCLA because the doctor I’m working with says the curriculum is awesome. And I’d like to stay in the west where I can keep up with my running without the cold or snow. But I don’t have to make any decisions until I’m closer to graduation.”
     “You shouldn’t have any problems wherever you apply. You are at the top of our class and” she hesitated, “you have the native thing going for you.”
     “You know I’ve never wanted to take advantage of my heritage.”
     “Yeah, I know. I remember you wouldn’t admit that you were a Native American for the first year at school. You tried to convince everyone you were a tall Hispanic with your marine haircut, kaki pants and loafers. But no one was fooled for long...”
     He nodded, “I wanted to leave the reservation at home.”
    Tory mused, “Later I wondered why you joined the track team instead of the rodeo competitions like most of your native friends.”
     “To be honest I was tired the lazy native stereotype and breaking my butt at rodeos. I wanted to get something useful out of my education. Didn’t want to knock my brains out, or have an injury that would stop me from getting decent grades. I’ve already broken my arm twice working cattle on the reservation. I figured my head would be next.
     Anyway, little lady, my head is intact and I’m here for the night. Plus I think we should hike to the spot where you think you were ambushed and check it out. I haven’t had anything to do on the weekends except go on a run, or watch TV with the Doc. And give me a call if anything else weird happens. But I bet this is the end of your adventure,” he said yawning.
     “You don’t know how much better I feel having you here.”
     “It’s Bobby to the rescue!”
     “And that hike up the mountain would be great. Come back here Saturday around six and we’ll go up to the cliffs. I’ll even pack a lunch.”
     “I’ll take you up on that lunch offer and make you a trade?  I’ve been wondering who I could ask for help? I need a brainer; someone good at riddles.” He gave her a sly look.
     “Brainer, huh, thanks, I think?” She popped out the foot of the recliner took her pillow and a quilt from the floor along and leaned back. “If you’re going to be my body guard you take the couch. At least I fit in this lounge chair.” She tipped back even further.
     “Um, guess I did hog the couch, sorry.” He stretched out and reached down for his sleeping bag. “But you did have the reputation of being the puzzle brainer in our statistics group. And I have a mystery to unravel, something important to my Pop. So if I come and help you out on the mountain, will you help me with this puzzle I’m supposed to solve?”
     “Yeah, sure, I’ll help if I can.”
     He yawned again, dangled his long legs over the couch arm and put his head back. His head hit the softball bat lying under the pillow and he sat back up.
     “You’ve gotta be kidding me!  Is this your weapon of choice?”
     “I’m pretty good with that thing, believe it or not. You’re not the only one with hidden skills. I was a pretty good hitter on my high school softball team. Set the record stealing bases, but changed to the track team when some friends asked me to help out on the relay team.”
     Bobby put the bat on the floor and leaned back once again, putting his hands behind his head. “Softball’s loss is track team’s gain. I’ll remember to stay out of the way when you’re holding that thing.” His eyes closed. “I better get a few hours rest. Its baby exam day tomorrow and we have a full schedule so ̶ ̶ your ̶ body ̶ ̶ guard ̶ ̶ um- ̶ will ̶ ̶.”  His voice trailed off.
     Looking over at his sleeping body Tory wanted to laugh at the way her protector hung off both ends of the couch. She wrapped the quilt over her shoulders and gave into the fatigue she’d been fighting off. It was barely seconds before she joined him in sleep. When Tory awoke early the next day Bobby was gone.

coming soon chapter 4


Tuesday, July 14, 2015



It's difficult to move when you retire. Don't get me wrong...we love our new home in Arizona and the people are wonderful and welcoming.

NO! that's not it...It's hard to move because there are too many numbers to remember. Just try it!

First a new address
Then a new phone number
Remember your new zip code
a new bank account number
Then don't forget which phone number and or zip code you used for:
Best Buy
Office Max
Rite aid
Shell gas
American Express
and other various and sundry kinds of cards

Usually as I approach the cash register I am fishing around my purse trying to find the card that matches the establishment where I wish to make a purchase. And I have stood at the check out counter like a dunce trying to decide which numbers to spit out to be able to use the card..

(HMM, did I change the code to the new address, because if not it could be our old phone number or cell phone, or my husband's cell phone if he took out the account!) 

All I want is to get the deal as advertised but without the special card and corresponding numbers the clerk says "Sorry lady." as they ask you to chortle  out a password plus; your favorite childhood  friend, a movie you laughed at, your first teacher, or first pet or your Mother's Brothers Wife's sisters maiden name...

Yes, Each card wants something different! They may say...Use all capitols, no special keys, no numbers, or you must use a number...so no matter how hard you try to give the same user name and code...you are foiled. and with a small variation you become doomed to... "If you enter the wrong code again, you will be locked up and we will throw away the key!"

At the gas station when I entered the wrong zip code I was sent Inside to talk to the cashier as if I has stolen the card from another old babe who looks kinda like me.

At least the Arizona License looks like me with almost shoulder length hair...I am a little worried about when we go on our cruise with our friends the Barnes and use my passport. It is a few years old and will expire next year. I am hoping  they will let me back into the USA.  At the time I got the passport I had very short hair, a-la Peter Pan. Now my cheeks are much rounder and quite rosy. Hmmm I make a good Mrs. Clause.

But I digress...FOLKS I truly recommend moving to a more economical place when you retire...smart move...but don't wait too long or the smart will be gone. Your memory shot and you will struggle to identify who you really are as if you were someone like the guy in the Jason Borne movies.

My brother bought a small device where all his codes and passwords are entered. As he endeavored to show us his nifty new toy...he could not give us a demonstration...why? don't ask...you already know the answer...HE COULDN'T REMEMBER THE PASSWORD! and he hasn't moved in 30 years....oh the humanity!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Poor Helen

 My brother's voice was distressed on the other end of the line. He said, "I really need you; kinda like when you helped me get the spiders out of the tub because I was too scared and didn't want to do it...It's like that! I just can't do this with Mom anymore." I left the next day for California. 

He was in bed when I got there. I made me sad that my brother was too weak from chemotherapy to make it down the stairs so I went up and sat on a rickety chair next to his bed. Tim wanted to turn over power of attorney for our mother to me. He told me that mother had been calling him 10-14 times a day. "I'm too sick to deal with her and this cancer too." He wanted me to manage mother's finances and living details.

The next day I went to visit my mother. On my way to her room I was stopped by a former nursing student and he assured me, "I'll look in on your mom and make sure she is well cared for." It felt good to know that some of my hard work teaching would bear some fruit just for me. 
Mother had been moved out of the acute hospital to this convalescent facility a few days after she fell. I think it was the tenth time this year she had pushed the magic "I've fallen and I can't get up" button. 

She was confused and wanted to go home. I had to tell her that she was not going home. She couldn't get up the stairs and she needed help around the clock.

"Maria and Lisa can do it and Tim and that other boy can help. (She was talking about Todd her grandson.) You can help me too. I want to go home."

I had to explain, "Mom, I don't live here anymore and Tim is weak from his cancer treatments. He can't get you up the stairs anymore. You don't have enough money for someone to be with you day and night. I'm looking for an assisted living place. One where the food is good and the helpers are nice and kind."

"Is Tim getting better?"

"No, I don't think so...Mom we can sell your house like your friend did and get you plenty of money for your care."

"Okay, but don't sell everything."

The case worker said we had a month to find a place for her to live. I began to search for a home for her to live while I cleared out Helen's home. I cleared out her life too.

First I worked on the refrigerator which didn't work very well. It was packed full of expired things and frozen bits of food. It took me a full day to lug everything down to the dumper. After that day I asked Tim's two boys to take turns helping me carry bags of trash down the stairs. Each day they arrived and took the trash to the bin.

Then I discovered my mom was a pack-rat and lived in a clown house. Like the tiny car where the clowns keep coming out..in her house, as soon as you discarded one thing; something else popped up, like one of the clowns coming out of the trick car.

I needed to look through boxes of cancelled checks and old bills (back to 1980). I discovered she cut out adds and recipes constantly, and saved them all. Many of the yellowed scraps of paper dated back to 1950's. She had paperback books in boxes under every piece of furniture, if it didn't have some newfangled cooking item hidden there. I threw away most of the scraps of paper and discarded at least 12 large garbage bags each day for ten days before my husband arrived to rescue me.

She had a loft with a sewing machine and lots of sewing items and fabric. It was piled so high you couldn't walk through to where the closet was full of old photos and about 15 suit cases. On each stair to the loft was a new cooking item in a box which had never been opened. A Cuisinart, a toaster, a blooming onion maker, a foot bath and many more. I saved most for a garage sale, but kept the Cuisinart for myself. (I had always wanted one.)

I got the call the day after I arrived that she was being released on Thursday, or Friday if necessary. "What," I thought, "This is weeks before they told me I needed to find another place for her to live." I got a list of care homes and discovered the cost was much more than her social security would cover. We would need to quickly sell her home and have an estate sale of her possessions to get the money she needed. In the bank she had only enough money to pay the fees and charges at assisted living for two months. I needed to hurry up.

I was lucky to find a place not far from where Tim lived and I continued sorting and cleaning in earnest. I discovered she had clothes in every room so I did my best to organize them. I gathered together 82 pairs of pants in one closet. She had 10 pairs of white ones. There were over 100 tops and blouses in another closet. There must have been 60 purses and just as many pairs of shoes. She had 5 pairs of the same brand new tennis shoes; none of which had been worn.

After her friend drove through the front of the doctor's office mom did not have a ride to the mall anymore so she switched her shopping to the internet. I think she forgot what things she had in her closet and double and triple ordered many of the items she wanted. About ten months ago when she could not get to her little computer...the binge shopping stopped.

She had food piled up in one of the tubs along with stacks of toilet paper and paper towels. There were canned goods and instant dinners behind each door, (most expired.) And I know Ketchup should not be black!

And so it went for 12 days with a surprise every day as I sifted through her most precious treasures. Sometimes I felt like I was eavesdropping, or spying as I sorted pictures, and bits of paper. I discovered she was a decent writer as I read a few of her recollections. I wish she had done more of that instead of making lists of everything she bought with the dates and prices recorded. 

There were very few pictures of me or my family. Boxes and boxes were filled with trips she had gone on with my Brother and his boys. It hurt as I organized the memories, but I did not expect anything different, as that is how it had always been; as if I was an afterthought, and my family also. But I sorted and gathered together all that looked important into several boxes and gave them to Tim. The memories of me fit into an envelope.

That Friday we moved Helen to her new home. We took familiar furniture, and I packed as if I was sending a daughter to college. I am the mom and she is the child. 

Strangers now take care of her. She calls me when confused or afraid. I try to reassure her. Tim does not call. He does not want to talk to her of dying. Dying for either of them. And next week I go back to California to sell her things, her home and her memories.