Saturday, April 13, 2013
Go to Amazon.com, Kindle, Kindle Store, Search We 3.
Or use the link below:
And, thank you.
Go to Amazon.com, Kindle, Kindle Store, Search We 3.
Or use the link below:
And, thank you.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
It has been almost exactly three years since I wrote the last article for the Gresham Outlook, which you just read on my previous post.
Mother had her ups and downs during those three years. We had days when we celebrated with tea parties and days when she just didn’t even want to get out of her chair.
Her short term memory grew worse and worse, which was good in a way. She would announce in the morning that she was not having a good day, but by afternoon she would say she felt the best she had in ages. She would have forgotten her proclamation from the morning.
Six months ago she started to obsess about whether dad and I were home and if not, where we were. It became increasingly difficult to get out of her sight. I couldn’t leave her presence without her calling out or asking dad repeatedly where I was. When we sat with her, she repeated herself so often that it was near to impossible to carry on a conversation with her. She had difficulty following a conversation from beginning to end. So, my writing fell by the wayside as my mother’s needs increased.
She repeatedly stated on her ‘bad’ days that she was tired and wished she would just go to sleep and not wake up. She didn’t want to be a burden to us. I had been told you needed to give the elder person assurances that they could go and you would be alright. I told her she was not a burden and she should not think of leaving us because of that, but if she wanted to go that I would take care of dad for her and it would be okay.
We had established an extended family with Terry, mom’s day care giver, and all the lovely folks from Hospice Care of the NW.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 mother would have been on hospice for three years. We were going to have a party. The hospice folks were going to give her a trophy for being with them the longest of any patient.
She became ill the Sunday prior to that date and passed on April 2, 2011. She left as she had wanted, in her sleep with all her loved ones at her side.
I hope you will join Dad and me as I continue to relate the challenges of living on without mom in “Between 2.” The site can be found on my main site, TheresaSnyder.Blogspot.com, under “My non-fiction site.”
The following is the article I wrote for the Gresham Outlook announcing her death, published April 5, 2011.
Carl Jung wrote: “There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it was not balanced by sadness.”
Mother passed away this past weekend.
Mother was born in Dallas Texas on May 17, 1922, but was raised in Lawton Oklahoma, except for a short time during the depression when her family moved to Arkansas to live off the land. She was born of good Irish/Native American stock – her grandmother was an Irish “Sooner” into the Oklahoma Territory, who married a half-breed Cherokee Indian. Of the five Whiting children, Mother was the oldest, and the last to pass. Her family was so well known in Lawton that I remember people hanging out windows of cars to call to her in the late 50’s. The whole town called her “Sister.”
When she was young she had aspirations of becoming an opera singer. I don’t think she ever really got over the fact that she gave up the pursuit of that dream to marry and move away from Oklahoma.
She moved to California when she was twenty years old and supported herself by being one of the first “Rosie the Riveters.” She helped build P38s during WWII. California is where she met my Father. They moved over thirty times in their 64 years of married life, but they always returned to California until this last 15 years with me in Portland.
If mother had one fault, it was her lack of self-esteem. She really should have held herself in higher regard. She was an intelligent, gentle, loving person, who reached out and changed so many lives for the good. She did so many things she should have been proud of in her lifetime. Everything she did, she did well.
She helped Dad start a garage of their own on Van Nuys Boulevard and was one of the first women that we know of to pump gasoline. She ran parts deliveries for him. That’s where she drove her first turbo charged engine. Later she would drive a stockcar in the “powder puff” derby even though she needed a stool to get in the car’s window.
Mother created a library for the small private grade school my younger brother and I went to. She helped many a child become interested in books and the places they could take you. She worked for a time as a pastry cook at the high school where my Father taught, and then took on organization of the school bookstore.
I suppose the thing she did best though was help people. She once thought about going back to school in her forties to become a psychologist. She would have made a great one. She could read people like her beloved books.
She and Dad raised twenty-three additional children, beyond their original three. She did this with a great deal of love and with predictable discipline. Mother cooked more cookies then the Kebbler Elves. Over those cookies, with a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of tea or coffee, problems could be handled – if not totally solved - with her wise input.
She invented the Easy-Skillet-Meal long before it was marketed in those convenient boxes. She knew how to make a meal stretch from five to ten people in a few minutes. She filled teenager’s stomachs, and their mind with ambition and dreams to strive for, as easily as other people fill their gas tanks.
She passes on leaving Dad, we three natural children – Wade, Jeff and me -, two daughter-in-laws, 23 borrowed-foster-adopted children, 35 grandchildren – both natural and from the borrowed kids - and numerous family units and friends behind.
The world will be emptier without her smiles and laughter. But, heaven will have a good second-in-command once God realizes she has moved in.
Frederick Buecliner wrote: “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and then in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.”
Mother’s touch was felt, and will ripple out for generations to come.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
I hate to brag, but I think I am verging on being a genius – or at least a clever inventor.
First I invented the “doorbell call system.” Remember when I purchase the doorbell and put a ringer by the toilet and one by the bed? Then recently I designed the “tablecloth - lift belt.” Now I have gone a step further and expanded my newest invention, the lift belt now has a duel purpose. The other day, on that first sunny day after the days and days of rain, I took mom for a push in her wheelchair around the neighborhood. She gets ‘cabin fever’ so bad. I would normally take her for a ride, but I am reluctant to try and maneuver her into the car for fear of dropping her on the driveway. If I drop her inside, it will be a controlled fall and onto carpet. Not so outside.
So we took off for a walk for me and a push for her in the sunshine. We tooled around Walt Morey Middle School and then headed down along the side of Home Depot toward Stark. There is a nice walk through there with lovely trees and shade. I was feeling happy for the break from the sun, but mom got chilly. That’s when it happened. I pulled out the tablecloth - lift belt, folded it in half lengthwise and draped it around her shoulders. Voila, instant shawl. Gosh, I’m clever. (I’d put a ‘smiley face’ here, but I don’t think they would set it in type for the article.)
When we got to Stark, I tried to get mom to wave to the passing cars. You know, the Princess wave. She was embarrassed. I told her we could get a reputation as those crazy ladies on Stark that wave at everyone. When I was a kid there was an old guy down at the beach that did it. He made us all smile and wave back.
We have established a routine at home. I now can get mom from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to couch, couch to wheelchair, wheelchair to bathroom, wheelchair to bed without too much difficulty now.
Suzanne, the CNA for mom, came Thursday to give her a shower and told us she wasn’t going to be able to make it on Saturday. I told her maybe I could do it. I wanted to see how she transferred mom into the slick shower and out. Well folks, she basically lifts her. Puts her arms to the elbows under mom’s armpits and moves her.
I took one look at that and said, “There is no way I could do that. Suzanne, if you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”
“Thirty-one,” she answers with a smile.
“Whew,” I said, “I thought I was a weakling, but I’m just twenty-five years older than you.” (Good excuse, I thought.)
“Would you like me to come on Sunday?” she asks with a grin. “Please,” I reply. “Or mother will remain stinky until you do.”
Mom still has a good appetite. We had a tea this week when Jane, mom’s hospice nurse came to visit. We all enjoyed the sit-down with all the lovely butterfly dishes. Jane said if she ate lunch like that every day she would be as big as a house.
I took a quick trip to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory down at the outlet stores for everyone a treat. I found out Suzanne likes chocolate with almonds and caramel. So she got a treat when she came the next time.
I fixed tea and a plate of sweets when Anne, the hospice pastor, came to visit on Thursday. She usually fixes tea for mom, dad and her. So I treated and fixed it instead. Mom and Anne looked at a picture book from 1997 of our house and family. Mom loves photos. I showed Anne where they were so if they run out of stuff to talk about they can pull out a photo album for a little food-for-thought.
I wanted to treat everyone from hospice that came this week. They have all been so kind and helpful. Everyone pays attention not only to mom, but to dad and his aches, pains and concerns. And, they are always so prompt to answer my calls, and listen when I need someone to talk to.
At this writing I have three more days of vacation. The sun is out. The garden is calling. I think I will listen to it, get mom in her wheelchair and take us all out to enjoy ‘Our Quiet Corner.” We will take the convertible ‘tablecloth - lift belt/shawl’ in case mom gets chilled.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
You can’t keep a good woman down, no matter how old she gets, or how out of touch you think she might be. Mom was on OPB this past Tuesday.
Oregon Public Broadcasting has a program on the radio called “Think Out Loud.” They wanted to do a story on hospice care and the challenges it is facing with the coming Medicare cuts. OPB contacted Mother’s hospice group to get permission to interview a nurse and accompany her on a call to one of her patients. Hospice chose Jane, mom’s nurse. Jane chose mom.
When Jane called to see if mom would be interested in being on OPB we all assumed it was television. Jane said she probably needed to think about getting her hair cut. That night mother wanted me to pick out something nice for her to wear. I hung her outfit on the bathroom door ready for Monday. It was only Friday night. With mom’s short term memory loss she didn’t forget she was going to be interviewed, she just kept forgetting when. Each day through the weekend she confirmed what day she was going to be on OPB.
She had a hard time forgetting about her date with fame because I spent the whole weekend picking up. The house was not dirty, just messy. Everything has been jumbled up over the last few months. Mom and dad’s king size bed is in the study – making it wall-to-wall bed. All the photo albums, masses of mother’s paper collection and general storage that had been under the bed were stacked in every available corner. The bed frame was too large to get through the hallway on my side and had to go out to the carport/shop. The living room area rug, which made it difficult to push mom around in her wheelchair was rolled but still in the room. The throw pillows that were on the couch, where Terry (mom’s noon to four o’clock caregiver) now sits, were on the floor of the living room. Numerous books had accumulated on the floor and were sideways on the book shelves. In short it was a ghastly mess.
Monday I got up, dressed, did my make-up and hair in preparation of my appearance as mom’s caregiver. They had asked dad and me to be present for the interview.
Suzanne, mom’s CNA called at noon to ask if I had a curling iron for mom’s hair. Emily Harris the host of the program was coming at one o’clock.
When I arrived home at a quarter ‘til, mom was all dressed up, had make-up on and her hair was freshly curled. It was at this point that dad told me Jane had called to say she and Emily were on their way, and it was a radio show. Oh well, we got a straight house out of it.
Emily asked questions, listened intently to all our answers and recorded everything. She looked at the collage dad and I made for mom of all her caregivers so she can remember their names and what makes them memorable to her such as Anne being her “Tea Partner’, Suzanne as her “Manicurist” and Jane her “Nurse.” Emily listened to mom talk about not being able to get out of her chair and joking about the good looking firemen that pick her up when she does try to get around on her own and falls. Mom told her about how she looks forward to Jane coming to check on her – if she has a complaint she knows it will be taken care of, if she is fine then she just relaxes and enjoys the visit. She told Emily about the fear of not being able to breathe.
Dad expressed how nice it was to have a bit of free time now that hospice and Terry were here on a regular basis. He was always afraid to leave mom alone for fear of her falling.
Emily asked me if I would be willing to join her and her other two hospice guests on the show - live – the next morning. Of course I was shy and demure. Yeah, right! I said I’d consider it a treat. Show time…Emily played a composite clip of mom, dad and me from her interview and then we talked about the value of hospice and the right of an elder to choose to stay home rather than go to the hospital or an adult care facility. Emily was fair, but asked tough questions of some of the guests. Hospice is not a service we should be without. It is our ultimate right to choose. To listen to the podcast log onto opb.org\thinkoutloud.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
It has been several weeks since my last article, economics and lack of news space aside, I have been very busy. In the last three months we have come a long way from that quiet lodge in Stevenson I wrote about.
I haven’t been away from the house for more than two hours in that time other than to go to work. Even when I am at work, I am on-call for whenever mother needs to get from one place to another. Finding a daytime caregiver was a long and arduous journey. In order to have Medicare pay for the caregiver, they had to be from the Oregon Home Care Worker’s Association. That was the start of the limitations.
From there it was the time period – noon to four. I thought it would be good for someone who had children and wanted a bit of extra cash, but it seems that caregivers are usually someone my age that have already been through the elder journey with someone close to them. They want a full-time job or a morning/evening shift.
To add to the restrictions of the position, I wanted someone who would stick with me, mom and dad for the duration. Hospice is great, but they are not set up to do around –the-clock care. I needed to know mom and dad would have assistance while I was a work.
And to complicate the situation even further, mother is my little ladybug. She is round, without any handles and not the easiest person to help move. She has osteoporosis and cannot be manhandled or you will break something. We all liked one caregiver that interviewed, but I was afraid she was too small in stature to handle mom. She agreed after she had thought about it overnight.
Caregivers were busy if they returned my calls. Several of them didn’t even bother. Eventually we were put in contact with someone by mother’s state caseworker. She will start on the 4th. I will be so happy to be able to stay at work once I get there. I actually am looking forward to eating my lunch in the break room and reading a book. It has been three months since I read or wrote anything.
I promised you I would be honest with you about this caregiving baby-boomer job – and a job it is. Sometimes I feel like I don’t stop moving from the time I get up until the time I get into bed at night. It must be much like being a single mom. I have really felt the pressure this past three months. About the time that mom lost the use of her legs, dad’s back went out. He has been down this whole time to a greater or lesser degree.
I have had one meltdown. Mom and dad’s bathroom has a very tight space around the toilet. After I squeeze me and mom in there, there is no room for anything else, which includes dad’s jeans hanging on the bathroom door. I had asked him to put them somewhere else. He didn’t. They got knocked off the door, keys, change, pocket knife went flying. Nowhere to step. It had been a rough day. I’m afraid I went a bit ballistic. There were tears on my part and apologies to dad for jumping on him, tears on his part cause he didn’t remember to move his jeans, tears on mother’s part cause she felt she was at fault for all the commotion. I guess it was inevitable that I would have a meltdown. I am just so tired.
The latest thing we have to deal with is mom forgets she cannot walk and tries to get up. This usually lands her on the floor. I can keep her up, but I can’t get her up if she falls. We have had three visits from the Troutdale firemen. I can’t say enough about them. They are such nice young men and so kind to mother. The last time they came out, I took them a couple of pies afterward. They suggested a different chair - not slick, over stuffed leather - would be better for mom. I told them I couldn’t afford it. They called Adult and Family Services. I had one in two days. Thanks guys!
I am running out of space, but I do want to say thank you to everyone who has been helping me, my understanding friends – who find ways to make my life easier, hospice – for stepping up to the plate while I looked for the part-time caregiver, and my boss and the school – for being understanding about my need to be elsewhere on short notice.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The last article you read was written a month ago and delayed in publication. The reason I am telling you this is because a lot has happened since that oh-too brief respite in Stevenson.
Three weeks ago, mother’s legs ceased to work. They either are Jell-O under her, or they jump erratically in place as though they have a mind of their own. We moved to using the wheelchair. I struggled with the fact that she weighs as much as I do and dad could not assist me since his sciatic nerve was giving him pain.
This past Thursday, dad called me at work to ask me to come home. Mother had fallen while dad was trying to assist her from the bed to her wheelchair. Luckily it was a controlled fall. No broken bones, but plenty of bruises.
It wasn’t long after I arrived home that I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get her up either. Without her legs to help push, I just couldn’t make it. We called the Gresham Fire Department and asked for help. Three strapping young men showed up and got mom up easy as you please. They had a Lift-belt. (I ordered one the next day.) It is a belt that slips behind the person you want to lift and has handles on each end to pull. They had one fireman lifting with the belt, the other put his size ten foot at the bottom of her feet and instructed her to push with her legs. Up she came.
When you use the belt to assist a person from bed to chair or chair to toilet, you place it behind their back; put your knee against their knee to keep it from buckling, take a wide stance, and pull. Since I saw this used, I could tell it was so much better than what I was doing – lifting her by putting my arms under her arms and lifting. Until the belt shows up, I am using a long, strong tablecloth the same way as the belt. It works great.
Jane, the hospice nurse, ordered a hospital bed for mom. Mother wanted to stay in her own bedroom and dad wanted to continue to sleep beside her. So Jane and I moved the king size bed and frame out of their bedroom and moved the trundle bed from the guest room to their room for dad to sleep in. They put the hospital bed beside it. Their bed had storage below it in plastic boxes. Those plastic boxes are now stacked in every free corner of the guest room and their room.
Thanks heaven for Jane and her assistance in getting the house ready for the bed. I really couldn’t have done it without her. We decided if our day jobs didn’t work out, we could hire on as movers.
On this same day, Dona, one of the girls that hung around the house and married one of my foster brothers arrived from Texas for a short visit. She had no idea what she was getting into. Thankfully, she was fine with just sitting and talking, and reading and napping. I tried to feed her well and she helped by bringing dad some salve for his back. It has really helped his pain.
I was having a heck of a time getting mom into bed at night until I finally figured out a routine on Saturday night. You remember that mom is very short and lovingly round. There isn’t much to grab hold of. Her inseam is only 24 inches. The hospital bed was too high even at its lowest. I could just barely get her butt on the edge of it.
Well, we live and learn. After I invented the “tablecloth lift device”, I figured out the “tuck ‘n roll” maneuver. I took the thick foam pad off the bed, thereby making it about two inches shorter. The mattress is covered with a plastic sheet – I eased her into bed, flipped her legs around, got dad to hold onto one end of the tablecloth – me on the other and we slid her up into place. Now here is where I learned the tuck ‘n roll. I rolled her over, tucked the foam pad under her, rolled her back the other way and pulled it out. Tah-Dah! Mother in bed.
We’re pretty tired from working out all these shortcuts. So tired that when my brother Jeff called to talk and we were in the middle of dinner, I had dad tell him we would call him back. When dad went to call him, he had dialed three numbers before he realized he had the remote control for the TV in his hand rather than the phone. Maybe tired is an understatement.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
We have had company every weekend for the past five weeks. Some of that company has been from a Thursday to the following Monday of a weekend. It is not that we don’t love company, but I’m tired, and mom and dad are exhausted. After the last group left recently mom slept off and on for two days. She didn’t ask to go out at all, and you know how she loves to go. Dad wasn’t far behind her, falling asleep almost every time he sat down.
I told all our extended family that mom had hospice care now and that she was really enjoying the visiting nurse, social worker, CNA, and pastor. I guess the kids all thought they had better come see mom soon. So they all started to call and make appointments. I tried to schedule them a week apart, but their schedules were limited and mom really wanted to see them. When her nurse came this past Friday he asked her how she was feeling and she said “just tired.” Jason, he is standing in for Jane who is getting some advanced schooling, told her she wasn’t 35 anymore and maybe she should to tell her company when she was tired and needed a nap. Then he turned to me and said, “and, if she doesn’t, it is the part of the caregiver to step in.”
So now it is our first break. We have more company coming for mom’s 86th birthday on the 17th. For now, we are resting. I loaded mom and dad up with easy to fix meals, loaded up the crock pot, filled the house with flowers for mom, got dad some videos, and left them in hospice care.
I have retreated to my home away from home, The Columbia Gorge Riverside Lodge in Stevenson, Washington. Angus, the owner is a kind, smiling man who is visible all around the place. It makes a lone woman feel safe.
I am currently sitting in front of a gas fireplace, with a cup of tea, overlooking the Columbia River. Every window I look through I can see the beauty of the gorge and its wildlife. This morning I was awakened by a robin battling his reflection in my east window.
The path that leads to my door is sprinkled with columbines, ferns, mosses, sweet woodruff, and red lace leaf maples. While I was unloading my luggage, I met a friendly border collie, lab mix. I didn’t catch the owner’s name, but the dog’s name was Lex. He was romping around, just enjoying being alive. We should all be dogs or cats. They know how to live – for the moment.
Yesterday when I arrived, it was warm and sunny with a refreshing breeze. I opened the windows of my little hideaway and laid down for a nap in the middle of the day. The train went by several times, but I was born to live by a train. They speak to me with their horns. They tell me of places they’ve been and things I want to see. They speak of adventures that haven’t been discovered yet.
After the nap, I sat down with a box of handpicked chocolates and a sloppy girl movie about all the different loves in a lifetime. I cried and laughed and relaxed.
Dinner was at the Big River Grill. The owner, Joe, introduced himself. He is a pleasant man with a friendly smile. He has somehow captured the best chef this side of a four-star restaurant. I had pasta with garlic shrimp last time I visited. This time I went for the New York strip steak one night and the grilled chicken the next. Yummy!
Everyone I meet in this little hamlet is delightful. Last time I was here, I met the elderly couple who own the gift shop next to the Big River Grill. I bought a ring from them. It is a gardener’s ring - solid and sturdy, sterling silver band with an enlarged solid sterling heart on the top. I told him I wanted to shake the hand of the man who made it. He was a little embarrassed, but pleased. When I came back from Stevenson last time, I told mom and dad I had found “heart and enlightenment” on my trip. I bought the ring and Kim bought me a token with the Buddhist symbol for enlightenment. I carry it in my coin purse.
It’s raining today. But, next time I come, I am looking forward to it being warm enough to pull the rocking chair out on the deck and write on my book out there, overlooking the river, with the sound of the wind in the trees and the train in the distance.