changes

My Mother

My mother has always been my very bestest friend. I was the first child, but not the first pregnancy. So when I was born, I was joyfully and wonderfully welcomed. I was followed a short eleven months later by my sister. So the woman who wanted children intensely and fervently, suddenly had two small children within a year’s time.

Growing up, she was the best mother. She was generous, loving, protective, and sometimes pushy. She wanted the best for my sister and me. She wanted us to have the things that she did not have growing up.

My mother was the fourth child in a brood of thirteen. She was the eldest daughter. As the eldest daughter a lot of her mother’s burden fell on her shoulders too. She took her role seriously and devoutly. Thinking back to when I was a child, one of the biggest disputes that would arise between my parents was her sense of duty to her mother, father, and siblings.

She has always been there for not only my sister and me, but also for her siblings. When she retired, she served not only her family, but her friends at church. When someone was ill, she was there. When it was serious enough for the hospital she was there. When someone needed an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, she was there. She shared in their sorrows and rejoiced with them in their triumphs. If someone needed a loan, she disregard her own needs and freely give what she sometimes didn’t have to give.

My mother has always been a giver. In the last few years my mother has become the receiver. My sister, my nieces, my nephews, and even my great nephew and I have become the givers. It continues to be an educational and rewarding experience.

But it’s an every changing experience. My mother has dementia. She is happy to be with us. She enjoys our company. She loves being with her grandchildren, She adores her great grandson, Henry. But her connection with us has changed. She is no longer the dominant force in our life. She is not the one we go to for advice and comfort.

My sister is her main caregiver. She works a full time job. So far she has been able to coordinate between her and her children to make sure that our mother is not left alone. My sister and I have tried to divide up the responsibility between us. My sister and I have become our mother to each other. Now my sister seeks me out for advice and comfort and I seek her out for the same.

Our hope is that our mother travels this path with grace and dignity and without fear. But what my sister and I have become is my mother’s protector and advocate. Where my mother use to be the mother bear ready to spring and protect her cubs, now my sister and I have taken on that role for her.

Occasionally drama and bickering find their way into my mother’s presence. Fortunately, this doesn’t come from her immediate family. The ones who have been there for her the last few years. What we’ve decided as a family is that we will no longer allow that to happen. She is our number one priority and that includes her happiness, safety, and peace of mind. My mother no longer does well on the phone. She does great face to face. But I think on the phone she loses track of who she is talking to.

Mom has always been busy. So we try to keep her busy. She likes to go. Whether it’s shopping, eating out, or checking out the thrift stores. She still likes being out in the world.

She would love to hear from you. While a phone call may no longer be the best way to connect with her, she loves to visit. So call my sister or me and set up a time. I know she would love to open her door and see your face. Send her cards and pictures of your family and yourself.

Have my sister and I made mistakes? Certainly. But the one thing that we do acknowledge is that dementia doesn’t get better. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We only know that when Mom wakes up with a smile on her face, everything is going to be okay for today.

What we have found in navigating this life changing illness is that people suddenly disappeared from her life. At first this made me angry. Just knowing how she has always been there for others. But fortunately her world revolves around whoever she is spending time with that day. So she is happy. And that’s what matters most.

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Dream Chasing

Courage-to-chase-dreams

I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. Growing up, I was never much of a people person. I was very shy. Painfully shy. Even after divorcing my first husband at the tender age of 25, I was still very shy. I moved into a gated apartment complex and I really hated leaving with someone in their car. Why? Because it would require me to stop at the entrance and tell the guard who I was.

This was just with strangers. You can ask anyone who really knew me back then and they will tell you that I was talkative, engaging, and fun. But with people I didn’t know I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact, and would probably faint dead away if spoken too.

Something happened along the way. I’m not sure where. But somewhere in the last 25 years, I began to lift my head and see what was going on around me. I looked people, strangers, straight in the eye and smiled. They smiled back, most of the time. I asked questions. I found my voice.

Now I find that I will insert myself into other people’s conversations. Complete strangers. Recently I was having breakfast with my mom at Cracker Barrel and I overheard a couple talking about their plans for the day. They were visiting Fort Worth and trying to decide what they should do next. They asked the waiter. He seemed to be caught off guard and didn’t offer any real suggestions. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then got up and walked over to their table. I said “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but hear you asking about what there is to do in Fort Worth.” Then we proceeded to have a very nice conversation about the Stockyards. You can’t come to Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards. There is major road construction going on I-35. They weren’t too hip on traversing that route again. So I told them how to get there the back way from where we were.

Now see, 30 years ago I would have loved to offer my advice. But I wouldn’t have. I would have convinced myself that they didn’t need to hear from me. That they didn’t want to hear from me.

I hear conversations going on around me all the time. I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, even at work, I keep my door shut. This is to not only cut out the outer room noise so that I can focus on what I’m doing, but it is also to keep me out of things going on.

When I stop and think about it, who I am now amazes me. What I’ve realized is, I’m a problem solver. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. But I think that’s my gift, problem solver.

I think I have great ideas. The problem is, people rarely listen to me when they should. Ha! Ha! You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

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Example #1 – I had a friend who lived in a small town. She wanted to open up a catering business and maybe a bakery. She’s a great cook! But, in my opinion, she was thinking too big. She talked about renting a building, buying equipment, etc. My suggestion was to start small. Start from her kitchen. Each day come up with a menu of a couple of sandwiches or box lunches. Call local business and find out if they would like to have the menu faxed or emailed to them each day. She could send it either the day before or early the morning of. If people were interested, they would fax their order to her. Since it was a small town, she could offer free delivery. This would enable her to build a clientele before actually making a big up front investment. She didn’t see what I saw.

Example #2 – I had a friend who loved to bake cookies and cup cakes. She was really good at it too. She used only the best ingredients. The first mistake she made was calling the city to find out what she needed to do to open a bakery. Of course they gave her a long list of permits and requirements. She was crushed. We had a long conversation, in which I basically presented the same ideas as Example #1. But she didn’t see what I saw.

Example #3 – I have a young friend who has tried unsuccessfully to launch a homemade soap business. She has made soaps for me and they were lovely. She was a single mom and I knew that there were durable supplies that she needed in order to make and promote her soaps on a larger scale. She seemed to want to go from hobby soap maker to side income soap maker. We talked about farmers markets and different craft fairs. But in order to do those things, you have to have product. So I invested in her dream. I gave her some money hoping that she would buy the molds and things that she needed.  She continued to make small batches of custom soaps. So, she didn’t see what I saw.

But those were their dreams. So they didn’t need to see what I saw. They only needed to see what they see. They shared their dreams with me and I had a visualization of their dream. But apparently what I visualized was not what they visualized. And that’s ok. Sometimes, people just like to talk out loud and that’s fine too. I’m happy that they were comfortable enough to share their dreams with me.

Now, I am chasing my own dream. Four months ago I didn’t even know it was my dream. I’ll share my dream with you tomorrow.

Heart, Mind, and Soul

We had a weekend visitor a few weeks ago. My mother. I’m grateful to still have my mother, but I really miss my Mom. My mother seemed happy the weekend she was here. She was chatty and engaging. She was comfortable doing with us whatever we did. She sat on the front porch in the morning and chatted with Doug. We visited her sister. We looked at old pictures as I scanned them into the computer. She didn’t recognize me or my sister in a picture taken when we were about 14 or 15 in the mid 70’s with my cousin, Jamie.

“Who is this?” She asked, her eyebrows bunched together as she looked at it. “They look familiar.” Finally I said, “That’s me, Trisha, and Jamie.” She looked at it again and said “Oh yes.” But I could tell by the look in her eye, that it was just a picture of three teenage girls to her. That makes me sad.

The visitor a few weeks ago, seemed like a distant relative. It’s a weird, disjointed, feeling. Like having someone you don’t really know, spending time with you. She’s still mother, but my Mom is gone.

My Mom was always a take charge type of person. If someone was sick, she was there. It didn’t matter if it was her own child or someone elses, her brother, her sister, her mother, her father, a friend, or an in-law, She was there to do whatever needed to be done. A cool cloth on your forehead, a moist swab for your mouth, brushing your hair, tidying you up, making you feel human even as some prepared to meet death.

If I needed Mom or if anyone else needed Mom, she dropped what she was doing and she came. She was truly there for you. Heart, Mind, and Soul.

I miss my friend, my Mom. She was my very first friend. She was my truest friend and champion. When I made a meringue pie and the meringue fell, I threw up my hands and screamed “I GIVE UP!” She walked to the refrigerator and handed me the eggs and said “Start over! No daughter of mine gives up so easily.” When I was wallowing in self pity one Sunday afternoon over a break up, she laughed at me. She was tired of it and felt it had gone on long enough. She finally said, “I can’t believe you’re going to let that little toad of a man upset you.”

It sneaks up on you and catches you unaware. When Mom became forgetful, I told myself that it was just a part of getting older. But then you wake up and realize that it’s something more. It’s this epidemic, called Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a thief. It’s taken my Mom a little at a time until she has become just a shadow of the person that she was.

She’s a tiny little woman who is happy just being wherever she is. As long as she’s is content and happy, I can’t really ask for anything else. But I cry. I sob. I wallow in my sadness for a bit. Then I pick myself up, wipe away my tears, and put one foot in front of another. My circle of friends and family are filled with people doing the same. I am not alone, but I am.

Denise Waves Goodbye

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Continued from Denise Looks Around

Once Denise returned to her job that Friday, she had a hard time keeping her mind on what she was doing.  Her prospective employer had indicated that he needed to get someone into that position as soon as possible.  He had asked her twice when she would be available.  Denise told him she felt like she would need to give a two week notice to her current employer.  Before she left the interview to return to work, he asked her again, just to verify, “So you’ll be able to start March 10th?”

The owner of the recruiting firm had asked her to call him when the interview was done.  Denise told him that everything went well and she like the job and thought that the employer liked her as well.  When Denise returned to work, she checked her email and had the official offer of employment, pending the background check.  She received another email later in the day and was told that her references were outstanding.  She was instructed not to give notice until the initial background check was finished.

Around 4:30 PM, she received an email welcoming her to her new place of employment.  Denise simply printed the resignation letter she had written at the start of her employment search.  She practically skipped up to the front of the Watchamadoodle to give her boss her letter.  She felt as if she had written a very professional resignation.  There was no need for nastiness.  In her letter she simply wrote:

Please accept this as my formal letter of resignation.  Although my time with Watchamadoodle has been, on the whole, satisfying and productive, for quite a while now I have become less and less satisfied with my work environment.  Therefore, it is with some regret that I ask you to accept this as my resignation from Watchamadoodle.  This letter serves as my two week formal notice.  According to the guidelines laid out in the employee handbook, I will be entitled to the two week vacation I have accumulated.  My last day will be March 7, 2014. I will do all that I can in the next two weeks to leave some sort of written guideline for the individual that replaces me.

Denise’s boss read this letter.  He made no comments.  He did not make eye contact.  He simply repeated over and over, “ok, ok, ok, ok.” and then with a final “ok” he walked away.  That weekend she received a letter from her boss, filled with a bunch of hooey.

Denise spent most of the last two weeks writing a manual for her desk.  She knew that there was no way that she would be able to include everything.  So she decided to just cover the basics and what she felt was the most important day to day instructions.  Denise felt like anyone with a bookkeeping background should have no problems stepping into her shoes.

On Denise’s next to last day, her boss found a replacement through a temp service.  He hopes to eventually make this person a part of his team.  Denise began to aggressively train the new hire.  But there was only a couple of days left.

While in the midst of training the new hire, another mistake is found in the paperwork.  Denise isn’t going to say anything, but the new hire sees the error and asks about it. So Denise tells her that normally she should bring this to her boss’s attention and find out what happened.  BUT she doesn’t want to bring it to her boss’s attention because Denise will feel like her boss thinks she is just trying to start trouble with the new girl.  So the two of them “fix” the mistake, with Denise stressing to the new hire that in the future she should take it up with the Watchamadoodle captain.

Now Denise is the type of person that can not keep her mouth shut.  So the next morning, Denise’s final day, she goes to the captain and let’s him know about the error.  She tells him that the reason she didn’t bring it to his attention the day before is because of the reactions she has received in the past.  She knows that she will be made out to be the bad guy.

A short time later the captain comes into the bookkeeping office.  Denise has her back to the door, so she can not see his face.  But she can see the new hire’s face.  Her eyes are wide and she is making a conscience effort to look at the captain and not at Denise.  The captain informs the new hire that he is aware of the mistake that they did not bring to his attention.  That she should have brought it to his attention.  That he is not the type of person that tries to hide anything from the government.  That he is not a cheat. Blah, Blah, Blah……

When the captain leaves, the new girl looks at Denise and says “What was that?” Denise tell her that she brought the mistake to his attention that morning.  Denise also tells her, “That was the real captain. The captain that has been joking around with you the last couple of days is a fake.  But that’s just my opinion.”

Denise finished her day with very little interaction with the rest of her long time coworkers.  She was visited by a very good friend who had retired several years before.  This made Denise laugh to herself, because she could just imagine the look on the captain’s face when this person showed up to wish Denise well.

The captain’s little speech that morning was just the final proof that Denise had done the appropriate thing by leaving the Watchamadoodle company.  The captain proved himself time and time again to be an immature, childish, and unprofessional.  He has no grasp on how to handle employee morale and problems.

When Denise returns from lunch, she leaves her purse in the car.  She puts her car keys in her pocket.  She has already cleared it with the captain in regards to the time she will be leaving.  So when the time came, Denise simply walked out the back door and drove off into the sunset.woman_driving_2

Denise Looks Around

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Some of you may remember my little story about poor Denise.  If you missed it, here it is:  Pardon My Rage.  She felt trapped in a job that no longer suited her.  After her blow up with the big boss several weeks ago, things did not get better.

So Denise decided to just take a look around and see what else was out there.  She was no Spring chicken, so she was concerned about her age. She had received a raise several months ago, but it had been over two years or more since she had received a raise.  So Denise decided to take the bull by the horns and see what was out there.

The last time Denise looked for a job, she used the local paper.  She looked in the classified.  But times have changed.  In these current times, everything is done online.  Over the years she had, from time to time, browsed through some job boards. There were tons of them.

Denise knew that if she was going to find a new job, she needed to update her resume.  Being the thrifty girl that she is, she found a Groupon for a professional resume service.  They provided her with a resume and a cover letter in a format that she could edit if necessary.  This important piece of the puzzle was all that she was waiting on.

Denise set up accounts with Monster, Career Builder, and Glass Door.  She even took her LinkedIn page more seriously.  She posted her resume on these sites.  But Denise didn’t just sit back and wait.  Daily, she vigorously pursued any and all positions that she felt she was qualified for.  She was kind of picky about the area of town, but other than that she was open to anything.

Within the first week of posting her resume, she received a phone call from a recruiter.  Denise was leery at first.  But after doing a little research on the company, she met with him at their office.  There was a little mix up at their office and she sat down with another recruiter.  About half way through the interview, the recruiter that she had talked to on the phone appeared and he was not happy.  Apparently these recruiters earn their money from the companies where they place people like Denise.  It seems they found Denise’s resume impressive and there was a very short and a very polite battle to represent Denise.

The new job that Denise ended up with did not come from this recruiting firm.  But they did give her the confidence that she would find a job that paid as well or better than the job that she had.

Eventually Denise ended up with an interview for a company through another recruiting firm.  It seem at first that it might be just a little too far for her.  But she thought to herself “What the heck.” and went on the interview.  The drive was actually about 10-12 miles more, but it seemed to be an easier drive.  The job was located in a peaceful, beautiful setting.  Denise was happy with what she saw.

Denise’s interview with the controller of the company lasted for 90 minutes.  He grilled her verbally on her knowledge of journal entries and all things bookkeeper.  He seemed satisfied.  Denise returned to her current place of employment and held her breath.

The recruiting company contacted her and let Denise know that the employer was very happy with her resume and her interview.  They would need to check her references and do a background check.  They wanted her to know that the job was hers, unless something turned up on the background check or her references.

nervous-woman-cartoonDenise had butterflies in her stomach.  She wanted to jump up and down.  But she sat quietly at her desk, did what was expected of her and wondered how long a background check took.

Happiness is where you are.

Before we moved out here to the great big middle of nowhere, we lived on 3 acres off of FM 1886 or Confederate Park Rd. It was an older 2 story frame house. We learned some things there. Some things about gardening, water well repairs, old Farmall tractors, crazy neighbors, and right of ways across our property.

Doug loves being outside and being busy. So eventually we found 25 acres in SE Jack county. We bought it and moved a travel trailer out there to stay in on the weekends. Eventually we bought the 25 acres adjoining it. I think when Doug cut the fence to put in the gate between the two properties was one of the happiest days of his life.

In 2001 we decided that we should just sell our house on Confederate Park and move to Jack County. We were spending all of our spare time out there anyways. So we sold our house and moved to the country. We had talked previously about building a house, but decided that the quickest way to get out there and settled was a manufactured home. We are still planning on building a house, but now our problem is we don’t know if we wan’t to stay here when we retire. So we’ll just wait and see. That’s less then 10 years away.

I was a city girl. I was raised there. I was use to jumping in my car and running to the mall whenever the mood struck me. If I needed something from the store, I simply ran out and got it. But living out here an hour from any mall, 30 minutes from a large store like Walmart, 20 minutes from the dinky grocery store in Jacksboro, if you don’t have it on hand you learn to do without it.

But that really isn’t a sacrifice for me. I’ve gained so much more. We enjoy sitting outside and seeing the deer and wild turkey crossing the pastures. I like watching the birds on the feeder. We have a red headed woodpecker that comes every year. There is a red tailed hawk that lives near the front of the property. I can walk quietly across the pastures and through the woods and stop and listen to the sounds around me. At certain times of the year we can step outside at sunset and listen to the coyotes.

I know how to mix the feed for the cows. I have helped nurse a sick calf and give it penicillan injections. I can lift a bag of feed out of the truck and move it into the barn. I can drive and operate the tractor. I have driven down the icy gravel road in the tractor to help pull Doug out of a ditch. We have learned to stay put when the weather is bad.  We have seen the sky red from fire from a wild fire sweeping across the hillside.  We’ve smelled smoke in the air and looked for it wondering where it was and which way the wind was blowing.

I don’t miss shopping. Most of the time anyway.  I’ve learned to stock up the pantry and freezer with things I think I’ll need. I enjoy the little things. I think the city girl is gone.

Where are the #@*%$ pickles!!!

Well we all woke up this morning to a new and improved Facebook feed. I have to say after looking at the feed for awhile this morning that I think my generation is slowly stepping into the gripey old people age. I say this all in good fun, because I didn’t care for the change that was thrust upon us either.

But come on people!!!! Its a free service, so far Facebook hasn’t cost me a dime. Yet I’m able to connect with old friends, family members, and make brand new friends. I can get on Facebook at any time of the day or night and find out the mundane going ons in everyone’s life. I can ask a question and get an answer pretty quick from one of my friends. If I want to chat, why look, there’s a whole list of people ready to chat with me.

Yet still some of us are pissed. But it really does make me Laugh Out Loud! Facebook seems to tweak itself all the time. We get use to the new look and we all stop our fussing. Then another change comes along and we get riled up all over again. “I’m leaving!!” “I’m going back to Myspace!!” “Google Plus is where its at!!”

When was the last time anybody even checked their Myspace page? I probably couldn’t even get into mine if I wanted to. If I did get in, who would I find there? Sure there are other social media sites. Google Plus is new. But its NEW!!! All my friends are on Facebook. I’m staying.

It may take me a few minutes to figure out where things are or how to adjust something to the way I like it. But let’s admit it, Facebook is the big boy on the block right now. We can bitch, we can send emails filled with complaints, but Facebook is going to do what Facebook wants. They aren’t going to listen to us. They might listen to the advertisers, because that’s where the dinero comes from.

But the feed today is giving me some chuckles. It reminds me of once when an established grocery store rearranged their layout to match their newer stores. It was a pain in the behind, but the loudest were the elderly. You know the elderly are set in their ways and don’t adjust well to changes. Especially changes to things they use frequently. So come on people, let’s suck it up, and roll with the flow. We ain’t that advanced in age, yet are we!?!?