Saturday, December 25, 2004

31 Thanksgiving, wiper blades, xmas eve, mudras

12-25-2004 Mayatime 11 Ik 5 Kankin

It’s been a long time since I wrote, I know. I’ve been busy working on my novels and trying to get my non-fiction book published.

It’s been six months since the aliens stole my father’s brain and probably a month since I wrote about him. I’ve seen him during that time, of course, but just never had the time to write about him.

At Thanksgiving he was quiet. None of his usual blathering about raspberries or any of his other favorite topics. My mom’s observed that he doesn’t talk and eat, he just eats. And wow, does he eat. He eats very slowly, and cuts up his food ridiculously small (dissects it really) and just doesn’t stop until he’s done–which is when he eats his salad and then drinks the salad dressing (ugh. Salad dressing is SO GROSS)–why he doesn’t eat the salad FIRST I don’t know. Then he has his dessert, which everyone else is finished with. He cuts his food so much that he can’t eat off a paper or Styrofoam plate anymore. My grandmother has to give him a "real" plate because he was scratching the table and food juice/sauce would go everywhere.

After the turkey-day meal, he went downstairs to do something and everyone left. We were outside talking; my sister-in-law was giving me a gift to give to my best friend for her baby and my father comes running out, all upset that everyone was leaving without saying goodbye. But we didn’t know where he was!

About a month ago, I had to go to a party at Mountainside for work. That was the first real snow we had, and the place is aptly named-you have to go up (up-up-up the stairs and then...the tunnel...)(sorry, couldn’t resist) a hill and then drive along a narrow residential road with a steep drop on one side, all in ice and snow, sliding even in 4-wheel drive. (It’s really a summer resort, but I’ve only been there in the winter, and it’s always a lousy night.) My whole car was covered with ice. I had to crawl in through the passenger door (in a dress!), and I had no ice scraper, so I sat in the car with all the defrosters on full blast waiting for it to melt enough that I could use wiper fluid. I destroyed my wiper blades, which weren’t in good condition anyway. It took me 45 minutes to creep home on these snowy icy roads. (Mountainside is near where I used to work, about 10 minutes away on good roads.) I stopped at an auto-parts store and bought a set of winter wiper blades. I asked my husband to put them on for me. He never did.

I drove around with these blades in my car for THREE weeks, and meanwhile whenever I used my wipers pieces of rubber were curling off. So I thought, maybe my dad, who sold cars for over 30 years, knows how to put on wiper blades. I stopped at the store where he "works" and he came out and looked at the blades and couldn’t figure them out. I looked at the directions which called for a screwdriver so I borrowed one, but it was a bolt-type screw and no way to hold the other end so the whole thing turned. Pretty useless. The guy my dad "works" for suggested I take the blades to the Texaco station. I know Mr Porto, he pumps my gas, and he might put the blades on, but it was bitter cold out and I didn’t even buy the blades from him. I decided to go back to where I bought them. I brought the blades in and said "I want to return these." If they had asked, I would have explained that my husband is too busy playing World of Warcraft and my father’s brain has been stolen by aliens and I have no one to put them on for me. They didn’t ask, just gave me my money back. So I still have no wiper blades.

When I got home, my dad called me ("Hi, it’s Bob") and wanted to know if Porto’s put the blades on. I explained that I returned them. He got all bent out of shape, yelling that he was going to walk over there (it’s only a few doors away) and kill Mr Porto, who is about 75 years old and has arthritis. I told him Mr Porto had nothing to do with it. "Why wouldn’t he put them on for you if he sold them to you?" "He didn’t sell them to me. He pumps my gas, that’s all." "Well I’m going to go over there and say something to him." "Why? He has nothing to do with this. I bought the blades from the auto parts store" (Which is in between where he "works" and the Texaco station Mr Porto owns.) "Why wouldn’t they put them on?" "Because they don’t do that, they’re a retail store." "So Meriden Hyundai wouldn’t put them on either?" Number 1: I did not purchase my Pathfinder from Meriden Hyundai, where Dad used to work. Number 2: I did not purchase the wiper blades from Meriden Hyundai. Number 3: Why would a Hyundai dealer stock wiper blades for a Nissan anyway? Try to explain all this to a guy who has Alzheimer’s. "No, dad, I didn’t even go there." "Why not?" I explained points 1-3, to no avail. "Just go up there and they’ll put them on for you." "I don’t have them anymore, Dad, I returned them and got my money back. Don’t worry about it." And so on. Finally, still grumbling about Mr Porto, he hung up. I called my mom to apologize. As soon as I hung up the phone rang again. He didn’t say hi or identify himself, in fact I think he was already talking. More of the same. Funny, really, if it hadn’t been so sad.

My mom told me about a going-out-to-eat incident where she nearly strangled him. He was driving, and they went to Applebee’s, which was crowded. Instead of finding out how long the wait was, he refused to stop the car and drove away. He decided to go to Wendy’s instead (how one goes from Applebee’s food to Wendy’s is incredible. I’d go to Chili’s, which is across the street from Applebee’s.) There was no one in the Wendy’s parking lot so he decided it was closed and drove away. My mom convinced him to stop at the new place across from McDonald’s. They went inside and the menu was too much for him, too much variety, he couldn’t decide, so they ended up going home.

Yesterday for Xmas Eve the 4 of us (me, Will, mom, dad) went to 99 Restaurant (which we always called "99 House" for some reason–was it ever called that?). It was the usual. "What do I like? Have I tried this?" and he wanted cocktail shrimp, which the 99 doesn’t sell, they have coconut shrimp. He thought they could make some for him without the coconut and was very upset that my mom wouldn’t even let him ask.

I recently joined a new Yahoo group: and the man who runs it, DK, is from India. He has uploaded all sorts of articles and mudras and wanted to know what people were interested in. I told him about my dad and he was excited (which isn’t the usual reaction)–he has been looking for an Alzheimer’s person with a Reiki connection. He has given me 2 mudras for my dad (both VERY EASY) and a list of things to do to help my dad.

Yesterday over lunch I taught him the first mudra, and we all did it–it’s for memory. Today I am going to teach him the 2nd one and also put up some signs around the house.

Merry Christmas-Yule-Kwanza-Chanukah-whatever everyone! And happy new year in case I don’t write this week.

Monday, November 15, 2004

30 NaNoWriMo, vet, phone orders, is there a good way to die?

11-15-04 Mayatime: 10 Ik 5 Cen
I hit 50K on NaNo Friday afternoon. So technically, I'm done, I could stop writing (and I did, all weekend).
But I won't, I'll be back to it today, on this lovely 10 Ik day, so good for lots of communication.
Just a few dad-related things.
2 weeks ago I had to bring my birds to the vet. I have six. I had already brought four of them, but the two that were left are the worse. Lance hates the car, he has epilepsy and has terrible convulsions, he screams bloody murder while he's being worked's very stressful (both of his kids have epilepsy also, but someone they don't freak me out as much as he does).
So I figured I'd ask my dad to help. And he was supposed to mow the lawn first. He mowed part of the lawn only (I wanted to get ALL the leaves chewed up. Oh well).
He had a great time coming with me. I put the birds in a plastic aquarium (vented top) and he held them on his lap and talked to them all the way there (it's a 20 minute ride or so). Gwennie really liked him. She was bouncing and dancing and whistling to him. She likes men; she was raised by a man and speaks in a man's deep gravelly voice. She does this funny thing when she's in the clear box, she puts her foot up and tries to climb onto the hand that's holding the box. (But when she's not in the box, she won't get on your hand. Go figure.)
My dad thought she was Lance, and he kept saying "He remembers me!" so I stopped explaining that it was actually Gwennie who was playing with him, and Gwennie never lived at Dad's house. (In case you didn't get it, their names are Lancelot and Gwenivere). In the vet's office, Gwennie kept running to my father and trying to climb him. At one point she was on his Red Sox hat, hooting and thinking she was safe. He must remind her of the guy who raised her.
That Sunday, he said he had some kind of problem with an order he'd placed over the phone. (Just the thought of my dad placing a phone order is scary.) He said they didn't send him something he ordered, and took the extra money and put it toward a subscription to something he didn't want instead. So that Monday I went over at 3 p.m. to look at the order and call.
Sure enough, he said he ordered 2 of everything, and one thing he only got one of. And he did get a brochure with it, but I didn't think he got charged $6 for it, it was the kind of ad you stick in with an order. The line on the invoice that was freaking him out was the name of a magazine and "shipping."
I deduced that the vendor probably charges different rates for each magazine's ad OR that shipping charge code is how he tracks which magazine the customer saw the ad in. But I called anyway, about the missing item.
The guy says my father never ordered it. My father, of course, is showing me his paper where he wrote down "2". Doesn't prove anything. He's yelling at me while I'm on the phone with the guy, trying to find out what's going on. The guy agreed to send out the missing item but wouldn't eat the freight. I explained that my dad has Alzheimer's and that some vendors take advantage of his illness. He got very upset and said that his grandfather had Alzheimer's and, "I wouldn't hurt your father for the world." It really sounded like he was crying. "And if other people do that, that's just..." he couldn't think of a word. "Wrong," he said finally. (Wow, I'm really in fiction mode, aren't I?) I actually had to call the guy twice, and my dad kept yelling at ME and my mom, like we could really do anything, saying he got charged $6 for this brochure instead of for the item he'd ordered. We could not make him understand it was a simple shipping charge for the order. Sometimes it's easier to give up and hope he forgets. Isn't that awful?
I was at a meeting this week where a lady had just lost her mother to cancer and she was complaining how horrible it is to watch someone die like that. Not that I don't agree, but I gently pointed out to her that if her mother had been hit by a car, or killed instantly by a stroke or heart attack, she would complain that she hadn't had a chance to say goodbye. Is there a good way to die? Probably. Is there a good way for those around you for you to die? Probably not. I personally think Alzheimer's is a lot worse than cancer. People with cancer retain their personalities and memories. My father knows this disease will kill him but he has no idea how much of his essential self has already been taken away.
There was a third thing, but now I can't remember.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

29 Red Sox, blood eye, NaNoWriMo

10-31-04 Mayatime: 8 Manik 10 Zac

I really, really wanted the Red Sox to win the World Series this year. If I liked baseball, I'd be a Red Sox fan, just because my dad is. (I really detest sports.) This year, Stephen King was going to write a history of the BoSox, win or lose. I said, when I heard, "wouldn't it be cool if they win the World Series this year?" Ha ha ha.

So unless you've been in a cave for the last two weeks, you know the Bosox came from behind in a 0-3 pennant run against the evil Yankees to go onto the world series and kick butt 3-0 against some unknown team. (really, no one ever heard of them.) In fact, Osama Bin Laden even came OUT of his cave and made an announcement. I'm not sure if he mentioned the Red Sox or not, but he probably was stunned and forced out of his cave with the knowledge that they won.

My cousin's girlfriend is a major Yankees fan and she said my cousin was making the BoSox win. I told him to tell her I wanted Boston to win for my dad, but she wasn't convinced that was a good enough reason.

Well, the gods heard my prayers on behalf of Stephen King and my dad, and they won.

My mom said my father was hardly even aware of it. He said "yay" and that was about all. He's lost his enjoyment of the game. I could be grateful and say that thank god I won't have to hear the game in the background at every meal during the season, but given the choice, I'd have a fully functioning dad and and deal with the sports.

There's all sorts of superstitions about the Red Sox game on Stephen King's web site. For instance, in the last few Dark Tower books, link he mentions "19" a lot. The date they won: 10-27 10+2+7=19 and it was a full moon AND an eclipse (so the moon was blood red, the Crimson King). The last time they won was 1918 which adds up to 19 (1+9+1+8). It was 86 years since they last won, and they were last in the series in 1986. I doubt any of that will make that into Faithful, his book on this season but it's fun anyway.

Friday night, I was practicing with my wireless keyboard/pseudo- laptop to make sure I could upload to my computer. The infrared port died, so I had to plug it directly in. I had to get up to reach the back of the CPU and not once but twice I hit my head on the new wooden shelf Will built me. I didn't think anything of it until I woke up Saturday (yesterday) morning and went to put in my contacts and my left eye was half blood. I kind of freaked out a little (the whole blood thing, and eye thing) but I figured it was nothing bad. My aunt Bert had her whole eye go red and it was no big deal. (I am grossing myself out here ewww.)

Two hours later Will comes home from work and I show him my eye and he tells me I have to go to the doctor. I call my eye doctor and managed to get someone although it was 12:04. She said go to an ophthalmologist OR the emergency room. I was afraid to drive (who know what they'd do to my eye and if I could see). I grabbed my contact case and my glasses and my mom took me to the old hospital in Meriden (where I was born). They said, as I had thought, that it was no big deal. So I have a bright red blood eye. Perfect for Halloween.

It's 8:16 and NaNoWriMo starts in less than four hours. I am going to try to keep this up as well as crank out 1667 words (not quite 7 pages) a day for 30 days.

YAY for spring ahead-fall back. I get to sleep later. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

28 NaNoWriMo, Red Sox, poem,

10-23-04 (Saturday) Mayatime 13 Cauac 2 Zac (Portal)
As NaNoWriMo ( grows closer, I will post less & less. Don't expect much in November, at least not until I've got my 50,000 words written. Since I'm working this year, it's doubtful that I'll finish my 50K by 11/11 as I did last year. I'm franticly plotting away, gearing up for that Novemeber 1st start date.
I'm very happy that the Red Sox won the pennant. (Is that what it's called? I am such a sports ignoramus, and proud of it.) My dad is a major huge Red Sox fan. I am hoping they'll win the World Series (what's it been? 89 years? Is there anyone even alive who REMEMBERS that game?) and make him really happy. I haven't seen him since that record-breaking game 7 (which I did watch some of, amazingly enough). But Mom says he's "in his glory." (Does anyone else use that phrase? What the hell does it even mean? Sounds Biblical, doesn't it?)
I really don't have anything new to post on the dad situation. A new lady started working with me, and her dad has it too. She told me she was staying at his house while her mom was in the hospital, and at 2 a.m. he was about to drive away in his pajamas. He said he was going to the bank. She convinced him that the bank was closed and to go back to bed. In the morning, he realized what he had done and explained it away by saying he was actually going to the dump. Funny but sad.
My friend Agrimeer gave me permission to quote his poem "Split" (mentioned in entry 26, above):
The thought of you
ruled my thumb
14 times last night.
Hitching, I found the jungle,
then ditched the road.
When dew thins I glimpse an ocelot.
From where I squat he
walks on water, takes interest
in the cricket bending a reed,
but then he notices me,
springs to the bank,
forgets all movements
outside himself.
The thought of you
ruled my eyes
15 times today.
I could still see the path
where grass is bent.
(c) by Agrimeer 2004 quoted by permission
Also, I wanted to note that the woman who followed me home from Stop & Shop did not come to the circle of light meeting, nor did the girl from the car repair place. Frustrating, yes, but what can I do? I can't force people to come if they aren't ready.

argh why can't I change the font on this anymore? where's the font button gone to?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

27 anniversary, bad banks, NaNoWri, Red Lobster, re-testing,

10-09-04 Mayatime: 12 Chicchan 8 Yax

Yesterday was my 11th wedding anniversary. Kind of scary to think it’s been this long. I could list all the things I meant to do during these first ten years, but it would be too depressing.

Usually we go away for our anniversary. At first it was to Cape Cod, but now we’ve discovered the Carribean. I have such a longing for Grand Cayman but it’s obviously not meant to be this year. The hurricane (no, I don’t remember which one. The 3d one?) really hurt my beloved island. When I was figuring out the cost to go to Runic Con, I decided to do a compare-and-contrast to a 4 day trip to Grand Cayman and no matter what dates I chose, came up with “nothing’s available” so it still must be bad down there. :(

Yesterday my car still wasn’t ready. Luckily my mom had the day off so she nicely took me to work and picked me up afterward. We had to do bank stuff (there should be a book “guide to banking for Alzheimer’s patients’ families”). First mom took me & Will to Wendy’s for lunch. We spent (no lie or exaggeration) TWO HOURS at the bank. The printer wouldn’t work so they couldn’t print any of the account change forms. The guy who helped us, Duke, was left-handed and he wrote backward–right to left, not left to right. Very strange to watch. He was also wearing the UGLIEST shirt I’ve ever seen. It looked okay on him and it actually went nice with his jacket. He was a black guy-they can wear strange color combinations that us white people never could.

I had meant to go home and work on the plot for my NaNoWriMo novel, which is actually just part two/book two of Ridden (takes place in a different time and place than part one so I’m counting it as a new book). But we didn’t get out of the bank until almost 3:30 and we were going to dinner at 4:00. So I just picked up my car and went to her house. I might have made a new friend at the car repair shop, a pagan who’s looking for pagan friends. We’ll see. Don’t remember if I mentioned the woman who followed me home from Stop & Shop on 9/17–she didn’t show up to the Web of Love event on 9/18 so we’ll see if she comes to the Circle of Light meeting on 10/13. Same with this new girl–will she show, will she call, will she take classes?

Since it was our anniversary, my parents took us out. Willy had originally said he wanted to go to Sushi House, but I hate the stink in there & my father said absolutely not. So we compromised and went to Red Lobster. I had to beg my dad not to get the clams and linguini. He got that when we went to RL on my birthday and it stunk so bad I couldn’t eat my own food. Nice, huh? The Red Sox game was on so he kept asking Will for the score and/or going to the bar to watch the game. (I believe they won–I despise sports and try not to follow that nonsense.) He had to listen to the game all the way home, all that high-pitched AM radio static that just cuts right through my head and into my bones. Ouch. Then Dad wanted to wash my car windows, so I let him. He was upset that I didn’t put the game on. I tried to explain that I have ONE speaker which works, and it’s in the back, and I can’t turn it up very loud.

Good news, of a sort. My parents went back to the doctor and had my father re-tested after 3 months of being on Acricept and he did a little BETTER in the math. He had some trouble with the word “watch” but my mom said he knew to point to his wrist. So that’s pretty damn good, I think. To hold your own with Alzheimer’s is like improvement.

But honestly, what do those tests measure? I think he’s gone downhill in other aspects. He still drives, but he’s ultra-cautious in a way he never was. When he was following me, I made sure every time I pulled out into traffic there was enough space for two cars to pull out, but he would wait and I’d have to pull over so he could find me again. When I told him I worked near Lido’s, an Italian restaurant he likes, he had no idea what Lido’s was or how to get there. Once we drove past it, he knew exactly where he was and even said he knew we were near the spring water place. It’s like he can’t visualize things anymore. He has to SEE them. He’s very concrete.

For instance, at RL, Will was trying to find something for my dad to order which wouldn’t stink and ruin my meal. He showed Dad a picture of a piece of salmon (another stink food) with some shrimp pasta and suggested he get the shrimp pasta by itself. My father agreed, but when the plate came he asked where the salmon was. We tried to explain that he hadn’t ORDERED salmon, but he said “the picture showed salmon.” Then he said, about his shrimp cocktail, “When we go to the other place they give me seven, there’s only six here.” Where the other place is, who knows (maybe the Rustic Oak–I think he’s gotten shrimp cocktail there). When we got back into the car to go home, to the lovely screeching accompaniment of AM radio, he thanked us for the meal my mom had just paid for. Sigh.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

26 Sad, new baby, bad papers

<>10-07-04 Mayatime: 10 Akbal 6 Yax

I’m so sad.

It’s selfish to be so sad. But I am sad nonetheless.

The Native American guy who worked on me a few weeks ago said all my problems stem from my sadness. He said I need to own my sadness, and feel entitled to it. He said I need to cry more.

Beth had her baby Monday. She’s a happy mommy. No, I don’t think she’ll consciously dump me and tell me to fuck off because she has a kid. But babies take over your life. All my other friends just drifted away; their only topic of conversation being babies, their only interests were baby-related, their lives revolved around The Baby. Yes, in caps. “Don’t call me, The Baby is sleeping and she’ll wake up.” “I can’t e-mail you because the computer is in The Baby’s room.” “I can’t go out because I have no one to watch The Baby.” How can anyone who’s intelligent and active allow her world to shrink to the size of a ten pound ham? I am trying to stay in contact with her. I don’t want to be frantic or grabby or needy about it. But I hate feeling this way. I guess I have to own this fear too.

Last night my car started peeing green antifreeze everywhere. By this morning it had bled out. My father agreed to drive me to work. I dropped the car off at a service station and he brought me to the office. On the way there, he was ranting about his “papers” that my mother took. He says he got a letter saying “they” were taking away his Social Security. He was yelling, almost crying, “I’m sick, I’m going to die, and they’re taking away my money!” I KNEW that wasn’t true. He said he was going to “go down there” (wherever there is!) and swear at them. I told him NOT to do that. They (whoever they are) would definitely call the cops. My dad’s pretty incoherent when he’s NOT upset. When he gets upset, forget it.

When I was getting out of the car, I forgot my bottle of water in his car. No big deal, right?

I called my mom as soon as I got in and established that they are actually giving him MORE money, not less. And yes, she took the papers to stop him from going somewhere and making a fool out of himself.

So I’m working on my database of advertisers and in comes my dad, with my water. I said, “how did you find me?” He went to EVERY business in the building until he found me, to give me my bottle of water. It didn’t occur to him to call and see if I really wanted it, or to call and ask where I was in the building. That’s why I’m so sad. My dad is such a nice guy. It’s not fair.

While he was there, I tried to talk to him about his Social Security. He insists the “papers” say that they are taking away his money. I lied (if I was a Christian, certainly I would go to hell for lying to my Alzheimer’s father) and said, “Mommy read them to me,” but he didn’t care, because he KNOWS they said “they” are taking away his money.

Then after he left, the car place called: $724.64 to fix my water pump, and while they’re in there, my timing belt (since to replace the belt requires taking out the water pump and the belt’s kind of old). So definitely we are not going to Ohio to Runic-Con. I didn’t want to spend $700 to go there, and now I’m spending that to fix my car. Is there some kind of message there?

I just want to curl up and cry and cry. I wrote a terrible scene in my novel Ridden where Tse-Nen-Ray, the main character, gets raped and beaten and she thinks, “Goddess, why do you hate me?” Tse, honey, I know just how you feel.

My friend Agrimeer the poet, who reads this when he can (hi!), wrote me a poem about an ocelot a few days ago. If he gives permission, I’ll put it here. He said in another e-mail that I should not even consider chemical mood enhancers (anti-depressants) since my sadness is absolutely understandable. He said that “any human” in my situation would be sad. That’s encouraging, I guess, to think that I’m not a just a big fat whiney cry-baby.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

25 baby, senior review, calculator, grandma,

10-05-04 mayatime: 8 Imix 4 Yax 2999 days until 12-21-2012

My best friend had her baby yesterday. I wanted to go see her as soon as I got out of work at 12:00 but her husband didn’t call me until 2:00 and I had a distant attunement at 4:00. He went on and on about how many people were coming after 4 and then said “But I don’t want to discourage you from coming”–thanks, you just did.I actually have father-related things to report as well.

Last Thursday, I went to this Senior Review (yes, it was misspelled that way, instead of “revue”–sigh) with my parents & grandma. My mom said that I simply had to see these old men dancing in tutus. I thought it would be a quick 45 minute or 1 hour thing at the senior center. Ha. It was at the high school, it cost money to get in, and it lasted for hours. I kept thinking, “I’m missing the presidential debates for THIS?” I mean, some of it was okay, but I’m not into Broadway show tunes so those parts were boring. The excruciatingly long skit about Snow White, done entirely by children (hello?! I thought this was about the SENIOR CITIZENS) was painfully awful. I left to go stretch my leg in the lobby. While I was out there, a lady comes up to where I was (silently) watching the show from the lobby with a gentleman who had been in the show, and says “I have my orders” and closes the doors literally in our faces. I tried to get back in–and the doors were locked. I was locked out for about ten minutes, until someone else came out and held the door. Isn’t there fire hazards involved in something like that? If the lobby had caught fire, I would not have been able to get inside to warn anyone or save my family. Luckily grandma got bored and wanted to leave early.

When I got to my parents’ house, my father had the calculator and my mom’s paycheck. She had gotten some extra pay for unused sick time and he was trying to figure out how much it was after the taxes. (If I had to do it, I’d just look at what her check usually is and subtract. I guess that’s too easy.) I was watching my dad use the calculator like it was an adding machine, constantly hitting the plus sign. He couldn’t understand why it wouldn’t come out right. I tried to tell him what he was doing but he was already mad and in shouting mode. Then my mom starts yelling at him. I tried to get her to stop. Yelling at him solves nothing; it just makes it worse. Finally we left and went to the “review.”

When we exited the review I saw that my grandmother was very shaky. She had her cane but I thought she was going to fall. She says she gets “lightheaded” from her ears but it seemed like it was her legs not holding her up. I got the car keys from my mom and ran ahead to get the car and come back for my grandmother. My dad came with me. He was amazed that I was able to trigger his Hyundai with my keys. I tried to explain that I had Mommy’s keys, but he didn’t get it. Grandma, of course, didn’t wait, so I was only able to save her from about 6 feet of walking.I told my dad right out that he was not to yell at me or correct my driving, even if I was going to hit a moose. All the way there, he fiddled with the windshield wipers and the lights and corrected my mom’s driving. She started yelling at him, he yelled back. This is old news, of course, they’ve been doing that for years. Except that until this year my dad drove EVERYWHERE, my mom NEVER drove my dad anywhere.

My dad didn’t enjoy the show much. He kept saying he couldn’t hear. My grandmother, who is getting deaf as a post but won’t admit it, said she could hear fine. I explained some of the jokes to him but it’s hard to tell if he gets them or laughs because I tell him it’s funny. I was amazed at the number of dirty old folks jokes the announcers had.

Here’s a sample: Two old ladies are at a bus stop smoking cigarettes. It starts raining. One old lady pulls a condom out of her bag, cuts off the tip, and puts it over her cigarette. The other old lady says, “Wow, what’s that?” “It’s a condom. You get them in drug stores.” So the second old lady goes to the drugstore the next day and asks for some condoms. The pharmacist is puzzled why such an old lady needs condoms but he humors her by asking “What size” to which she replies: “To fit a Camel.” That one was pretty funny.

Two old men walk by a naked old woman sitting on a bench. One man says “nice outfit” the other one says “she should iron it.” Not so funny.

A pair of statues, of a naked man and a naked woman, stand facing each other in a park for many years. A fairy godmother lands between them and says “since you have been such good statues, I am going to turn you into flesh for 30 minutes. You can do whatever you want.” The two statues run into the woods. The fairy hears them laughing and the bushes are shaking. After 15 minutes, they come back out looking very pleased. The fairy godmother says, “You have fifteen minutes still.” The female statue looks at the male and says “you want to do it again?” and he says “Yes, this time I’ll hold down the pigeon and you poop on it.”

I tried really hard to explain that to my dad, but he didn’t get it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

24 Sick, sad anniversary, new computer, Applebees, HSH bomb, bronchitis

09-29-04 Mayatime 2 Men 18 Chen

I’ve been very sick, therefore I haven’t been doing much of anything. I just realized today is the 10th anniversary of my red lory Scarlett’s death. :( She was only six years old. She died of a septic blood infection. I did not even know she was ill, or I would have brought her to the vet.

Anyway, not much to report about my dad. I see him at least once a week, sometimes more. It seems like he’s in his own little world. He just stares off into space. If I call his name, after two or three repetitions, he’ll blink and look at me and say “Hi, Berta” and then I can (attempt to) carry on a conversation with him. If more than one person is talking, he usually drifts away again rather than try to follow what’s being said.

My mom’s computer died (turns out it was exactly 5 years old, almost to the day). Will and I were going to build her a new one, but it’s cheaper to buy a brand-name one. She likes Dell, so I got her a Dell for only $559. Her last Dell was over $1500 and of course, this one is way better. How funny is that. It would have been more but she didn’t need speakers or a monitor. I would have deducted the keyboard & mouse too, but they don’t let you. I was going over there on Monday to download Netscape 7.1 (if you haven’t gotten it yet, do it! Pop-up blocker, tabs so you can have lots of web pages open in one browser window, it remembers passwords, it’s great!) and do some other stuff. My dad’s truck was in the driveway. I parked behind it and just then he came out. Here is the conversation: “Dad, are you leaving?” “Are you coming back?” “Do I need to move my car? Are you going somewhere right now?” “Yeah, when are you coming back?” “I’m not leaving, I’m moving my car. When are you coming back?” “I’ll come back later. I’ll see you later. Bye, Berta, it was nice to see you.” During this I made the mistake of asking if he’d taken his Alzheimer’s pill yet (he’s supposed to take it at 3 p.m. , and it was about five after) and that really confused him even more).

On Saturday Will & I went over there to do the initial set-up of the computer. In return, Mom took us to dinner—Applebee’s. The usual with my father “do I like this?” but he picked something different this time, instead of chicken and broccoli he got chicken parmesan. He ate it all but later on said he wouldn’t get it again. I got ice cream and chocolate cake for dessert and gave my dad the ice cream (he loves ice cream. He used to like black raspberry, now he likes plain vanilla).

There was a car show in the Walmart parking lot so we walked around. Some people had a cute little dog with them, and we talked to them and played with the dog (Bichon Frise). My dad was telling this incomprehensible story about that fatherbiter cat on his leash. I felt bad for the people trying to be nice and listen to him.

Funny that while I was over my parents on Saturday night, I was talking about my godmother (who is my mom’s cousin) and my mother said that no one had heard from her or her sister (godmother’s sister, not mom’s sister—mom hasn’t got a sister, or a brother for that matter). The next day, Sunday, Will and I called to say we’d be late because we went to see Shaun of the Dead in Southington and when we got to Grandma’s, guess who was there? My godmother & her sister.

My dad didn’t talk much. The more people who are around, the less he says.

So if you’ve been reading this AND looking at my busy teaching schedule, no doubt you are thinking, “hmm, wasn’t she supposed to be in Attleboro teaching Holographic Sound Healing this weekend?” Why yes I was, thank you for remembering! I spent all last week preparing like mad for the class. Turns out that the CDs don’t contain meditations from the book so I transcribed them all. I re-read the book. I copied all my notes from both times I took it and put them in my teacher’s manual. I exhausted myself, in other words. (This is on top of a similar week the week before, preparing for the 2-day Mayanism workshop). On Friday morning I got stuck behind some school buses and other assorted traffic so I was a little late getting to Mass. I’m at exit 8 in RI getting gas when my cell rings. It’s my student, calling SIX minutes before the class is scheduled to begin. . .to cancel.

I’m not even going to go into how pissed off I was (am).

I spent the day with my friend Sarah (it was her store where I was teaching). We went bead shopping, had pizza, and made jewelry. I got home at 10 p.m. Friday night. So that part was good, hanging out with Sarah. I gave her a Holographic Sound treatment and she set up some distance Reiki to dump on me every night at 1 a.m.

The reason she did that is because of my bronchitis. I started coughing at the end of August. It got worse and worse. Finally I went to my doctor and he said I have bronchitis (which I’ve never had before, although I have had horrible chronic coughs), which explains why my right lung was gurgling audibly when I breathed. He gave me a five-day antibiotic. Nothing. (This might be a repeat of information, if so, forgive me, I’m trying to get the story all in one place). In fact, I got worse. I started coughing so hard I was vomiting (sometimes just wads of mucus, sometimes the food I’d recently eaten). When I cough that hard, I literally and absolutely cannot breathe for a few seconds. Then I start sucking in air, wheezing horribly, spots before my eyes, ready to collapse. (You should see me when I’m driving and a coughing spell hits. Real scary.) A few minutes later I start to belch because I swallowed so much air trying to breathe. Yeah, I can tell how JEALOUS you are that you aren’t sick too. So the doctor gave me a prescription for cough medicine with codeine and a different, 7-day antibiotic. The cough medicine sucks, I get better results with generic Nyquil-type stuff. And the antibiotic did NOTHING. So I have either antibiotic-resistant bronchitis or viral bronchitis (or viral pneumonia).

So that’s why I haven’t been updating this for a while, if you were wondering. Not much going on with Dad to report, and too sick to document any other aspects of my life. (1167)

Monday, September 13, 2004

23 bronchitis, fenway park/Red Sox, grandma, OCD, healing, LOTR exhibit,

09-13-04 Mayatime: 12 Cauac 2 Chen (next to last day of Tzolkin!)

My bronchitis continues to kick my butt. Yesterday I coughed until I threw up—big gobs of clear mucous, obviously stuff from my lungs. Yuck. I’m done with the medicine, so now what?
When I saw my doctor, who is also my father’s doctor, he asked about my dad. I told him that honestly I didn’t think he was doing well. My mother thinks he’s fine, but she sees him everyday. I don’t. And I think she knows he’s not fine, because her actions betray her. She wasn’t able to go to grandma’s last night, which she told me on Wednesday. She wanted me to take my dad, because she didn’t think he’d go otherwise. But she said she wasn’t going to tell him until Sunday because he would forget.

So we went over at 4:30 to pick him up. My mom was going to a concert or something, I forgot what. Some country music guy. She came outside to give me the coupon flyers for my grandmother & some other stuff, including the Sunday comics so we could read Opus. My father tried to shut and lock the front door behind her. She had to tell him repeatedly to leave the door open. Then while she was talking to me, he stood there at the bottom of the steps and kept looking at the door. It was obvious that he wanted to shut it.

We told him about how we’d eaten supper on Saturday night across the street from Fenway Park. He is a major Red Sox fan so we thought it would interest him. (More about the trip to Boston in a moment.) We asked if there was a game at 7:00 since when we left at 5:00 there was a huge line of traffic coming down toward the park. It took a lot of effort for him to tell us the Red Sox are on the West Coast. He could not remember the names of any of the teams they’d played, but was sure they had won. (Is that true? I don’t know.) He thought they were in California but then he said Seattle (which was right, there was a Red Sox-Seattle Mariners game on last night). I am making this seem like a regular conversation, but it wasn’t. It’s punctuated with long silences, lots of “um” and “you know” and “I don’t know” “damn it.” I think Will and I might make it worse, because we keep asking questions, trying to keep the conversation going, and Dad just gets confused.

Since he was watching the game while we ate (which I hate, it makes the whole dinner conversation revolve around baseball, surely one of the slowest and most boring sports besides golf), he did speak, but only about the game. Such gems as “that’s that guy.” And of course his patented napkin balling & throwing when the Red Sox lose a run or something. Why do people invest so much of themselves into sports? It’s not like my father bets on the game, but he gets himself all agitated and always has. I can’t see Stephen King, who is also a major Red Sox fan, balling up a paper napkin and flinging it when Seattle makes a home run.

My grandmother’s always fun. Her last big thing was eating lots of garlic for her eyes. That gave her hives. So she stopped taking her eye medicine. (don’t ask) Now she’s on this “no sugar no flour” diet. And she is a riot. She only eats sugar and flour on Sunday. Except during the week, when she has ½ a sandwich (with bun) for lunch most days. She says the sugar in store-bought sauce “doesn’t count” as refined sugar, and neither does the sugar which is the first ingredient in her daily bowl of frosted flakes. (What are they flakes of? Wheat, I bet.) Supposedly she has lost 2 lbs.

On the way home, my dad sat in the back seat (I had sat there on the way, watching the pizzas). Of course he gets all agitated because he can’t put on the seatbelt because the latch is down under the seat. (It has to be manually moved every time the seats are put down and frankly it’s not that important to us, since we rarely have passengers and of them only my father freaks out about the seat belt). It’s one of his obsessive-compulsive things, having to have that back seat belt on.

My mom said he came home from somewhere a back way and took a wrong turn and got lost, but found his way home. Does that make me uneasy? You bet. But am I supposed to say he can’t drive anymore? Then he’ll just sit home all day and vegetate and get worse. Is it the lesser of two evils? I don’t know.

I saw, on Friday, a Native American healer. He said I should not eat dairy and should eat lots of brown rice. He also said I don’t cry enough, and being fat is only a symptom. And as a healer myself, I know that treating the symptom is useless. He said I have “entitlement” issues and that I should get a punching bag. It was a very interesting session.

Saturday we went to Boston—we being my friend Joyce, Will & I. We went to the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Museum of Science. My friend from Boston and a bunch of her kids (she’s got 8) met us there. The exhibit was awesome. The amount of details put into the props was amazing. Some of them, up close, were a little cheesey—Will said some of the forged weapons had air bubbles in them, for instance. The most amazing thing was probably the display of the full size Samwise pack next to the hobbit-sized one. They even wove the cloth at a different scale! Just amazing.

Speaking of Samwise, there was no section for him (other than his pack). The other hobbits, Merry & Pippin, were mentioned in the Treebeard section, but not otherwise. But they had huge displays on Arwen and Elrond, who are more minor characters. Galadriel had a section and so did her husband, who I believe says ONE line. Each member of the fellowship should have had a section.

The “One Ring” room was totally lame. It was a round room with doors on 2 sides. All around the wall was pictures of lava with flickering lights behind it. In the middle was a clear tube of water with a ring suspended in it. Two spotlights threw the Elvish script around, and it was engraved on the base of the tube. That’s it. Total waste of space. I’d rather have seen more original drawings. They had all sorts of framed pencil drawings & oil paintings from the three different artists, and also some original digital artwork which was pretty cool to see up close—looking at it on the DVDs just doesn’t do it justice.

If you’re into the Lord of the Rings movies, and you live anywhere near Boston, it’s worth the trip. It’s only $19 to get in, and that includes admission to the museum, which is a cool museum. All hands-on stuff to play with. (1235)

Sunday, September 05, 2004

22 BIAW, bronchitis, applebees,

09-05-04 Mayatime: 4 Chuen 14 Mol

No, I haven’t written for a while. My p/t job went from 6 to 18 hours last week, plus last week was the “official” Book in a Week of my BIAW yahoo group (I managed 52 pages in six days, my goal was 50). And I’m sick. Will thinks I have bronchitis or walking pneumonia. I have a terrible hacking wet cough and periodically my lungs try to escape from my body via this cough. I have a sore throat and no voice from coughing so violently. Because tomorrow is Labor Day I can’t even call the doctor until Tuesday. The coughing is so exhausting I can’t do anything else. I can take cough medicine, which merely dials the coughing down a notch, or Nyquil which knocks me out (but as soon as I wake up, the cough is back). It’s the totally annoying kind of gasping, retching cough that makes other people wince; the kind that when you hear it you wish the person had stayed home. Yup, that’s me for the last week or so.

Not much to report with my dad anyway. The last two Sundays at my grandmother’s he was rather quiet. He doesn’t seem to pay much attention to what’s going on; it’s like he’s fading away. If I want to talk to him, I have to say “Dad!” several times and immediately he’ll pay attention and be all eager to speak with me. But he doesn’t initiate conversation much. And when he does say something, chances are it relates to what we were all talking about a few minutes ago. But he remembers certain things that he wants to remember; for instance every week he gives me the Sunday funnies because Bloom County is back and I like Opus. And he’s only been giving me those funnies for a month or so.

My mom said he gets really frustrated and angry when he can’t make her understand what he wants/means. So far I haven’t had this problem with him, but I spend way less time with him than she does. He’s trying to be his usual nice self when I see him, thanking everyone for everything.

My parents' 37th wedding anniversary was just over a week ago. Two years ago I got them the fatherbiter cat. I called to see what they were doing & they were going to Applebee's and so we said we'd take them. It was the same thing as for his birthday, except we sat in a different table. "What do I like? I want this shrimp, do I like that?" "No, you don't. Get the chicken and broccoli." And he gets the chicken and broccoli and spends half an hour cutting off the "fat"--the places where the grill seared the meat. I did not say anything this time. He eats very slowly, even slower than he used to. His eating is really a kind of obsessive-compulsive thing. He has to cut everything up really small, cut it and cut it and cut it into tiny pieces, and keep dissecting it looking for invisible fat. I feel bad that we have to order for him, but he asks so many weird questions and then doesn't understand the answers, it's easier for my mom to just do it. For instance he only likes Classic Coke, not diet Coke, not Pepsi. So when he orders his drink, he'll say "I want classic coke" and they'll say "Is Pepsi okay?" and he'll repeat that he wants classic coke. Sometimes the place will also have orange soda or ginger ale, which he likes, and he'll get that instead. But if he gets the cola, when it comes he says "this isn't diet, it is?" And we explain that the diets have lemon slices in them. His has no lemon. But he'll drink it and not like it cuz it's Pepsi (which I vastly prefer) and not Classic Coke.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

21 aunt's funeral, new mouse, "family only", rocks

08-24-04 mayatime: 5 Cauac 2 Mol (portal)

I want a t-shirt that says “I survived my aunt’s funeral.” Actually it wasn’t even a funeral. It was a wake and a service.

Before we went to the wake, Will wanted to get me a new sound card & I also need a new mousie because my ancient and much-loved Logitech Mouseman Plus was cracked and the scroll wheel was refusing to scroll. I did my homework and decided on a Logitech Mx500 which is the same size and shape as my old mousie, but it’s black and optical. We also picked up a little tiny scrolling mousie (also a logitech) for the laptop for only $8. Plus the sound card (some no-name weirdo brand). I love computer shows.

We went home and my husband wanted to sleep for a little while before we went to the wake (he works 50+ hours a week on his feet). I was next to him reading and we had a pile of cats (well, two, but they FEEL like a pile sometimes) with us. The sky got darker and darker and if I hadn’t known it was only 1:30 I would have said it was around 7 or 8 at night! Then the rain started, and the thunder, and the lightning. The cats didn’t know if they wanted to press into the window and watch or run away (they took turns doing both). It was an absolutely torrential downpour, so bad that when Will got up to change into his nice clothes, he actually dug out an umbrella. (I hate them and I didn’t even know we owned one.)

I wore my all-purpose long black dress and debated over wearing my sandals. I decided that sandals probably weren’t appropriate and went with flats instead. Will wore nice pants, a collared shirt, a tie and a suit jacket. Why we bothered to look nice, I don’t know, because other people were wearing shorts and t-shirts (one person had on a red t-shirt and red shorts with sandals) and all kinds of casual clothing. My cousin’s sister (henceforth known as W) had on FLIP FLOPS. At her grandmother’s wake.

My aunt actually looked better in her casket than she did the last time I saw her. Her body seemed awfully thin, but they had plumped up her face and it looked like her. (I hate it when the dead person doesn’t look like herself.)

The saddest thing about her wake: no one cried.

Not her daughter, who was supposedly grief-stricken at hearing that her mother had died while she was on vacation. Not her supposedly loving granddaughter. No one. (I had done my crying already, but was fully prepared to engage in sympathetic/empathetic tears if necessary.)

Some nice things: They had a collage of photos of Aunt Bert outside the room and a few more inside. They had brought some of her elephant and cardinal figurines and placed them on a table with her photos. The pictures were nice, but not one of my dad or me with her. After all the years that they all came to my parent’s house for Christmas dinner and not one photo. Yes, that hurt.

Then I had to listen to W going on and on about her job in California at a big name network doing production on some reality TV show. And how sad she is for her mother because now her mother “has no family” (my father, her mother’s first cousin who grew up in the same house as her, was sitting about three feet away when she was moaning this to one of her myriad of ex-boyfriends who evidently came to the wake to flirt with her). I really, really wanted to smash her face in. She’s so condescending, so fake.

Then I learned some more facts. That Aunt Bert was indeed diagnosed with Alzheimer’s earlier this year (why bother to tell my father & I? Why would we care?) And that for the last few weeks of her life she was so bad she needed round the clock care. And yet, knowing these facts, her daughter chose to go on vacation incommunicado.

I bought a newspaper the night before her wake so I could read her obituary. I was surprised to see my dad mentioned (especially when I heard W saying her mother had no family the next day). They also mentioned Aunt Bert’s best friend, which was very nice. The funeral was listed as “private.” My cousin had already hedged on when it would be (and he’s not a very good liar) and yeah, I’m hurt that “family only” once again excludes me and my father.

(When my cousin graduated from HS his parents & Aunt Bert had a party for him. So I attended, naturally, since he’s my favorite second-cousin-once-removed [or whatever we are]. I parked just in the back driveway, before the fence. My cousin’s parents hurried right over and told me I couldn’t park there, that that area was for “family only” so I simply went home. If I was no longer family, there was no reason for me to be at the party. Then, when I was on crutches a few years ago I went to visit Aunt Bert and parked right next to her house, so I wouldn’t have to hobble slowly down her very long driveway, and since the house where her daughter lives has it own driveway, which they chose not to use. Aunt Bert’s daughter came home, saw my car in the driveway and laid on the horn until I hobbled out and then I had to back up with her HIGH BEAMS in my face, up a long narrow driveway, because she was too lazy to drive around the corner and use her own driveway. Another time that I simply went home rather than dealing with the rudeness.)

The friend of Aunt Bert’s mentioned in the obituary was not able to come. I am sure she was very upset by that–she was in the hospital herself. Her other friend did come, and her next-door-neighbor who is my mother-in-law’s good friend (it’s a small world, which is why I’m not using too many names). Mostly it was Aunt Bert’s daughter’s friends, all of whom are deaf and make some interesting noises when they sign, and W’s ex-boyfriends. My cousin’s girlfriend sat with Will and I, and later my parents and his mom also sat with us. We were going to go out to eat with my parents but my cousin mentioned there was something be catered at a restaurant which he thought we had been invited to (again, nice of them to tell us).

My butt kept going to sleep so I went outside to walk around. The priest was sitting in the corner in the lobby looking crabby. I tried smiling at him but he just glared at me (I wasn’t even wearing a pentacle or anything, there’s NO WAY he could have known I was pagan, he was just a curmudgeon). Evidently they had hired a sign-language interpreter for the service, but that person never showed up (traffic jam due to the ongoing storm) so the mass started about half an hour late. It was a terrible mass. The priest didn’t know Aunt Bert at all. He gave no eulogy. I would have thought W would have jumped all over that and written some sappy overly-sentimental thing but she did not. He read the modern version of the “valley of death” psalm (the only one I like and the only part of the Bible I would allow to be read at my own funeral) and it didn’t even say “valley of the shadow of death” it said “death’s valley” or something that just didn’t convey the sense properly, so even that part which I could have enjoyed, I did not.

It just didn’t seem like anyone was there because they cared about Aunt Bert. It was more like a social hour. Of course, I had already done my disconnection from her (see Entry 12) but I doubt anyone else there had. I’d guess most of them didn’t even know her. It was all too sad.

My grandmother refused to go, saying she wanted to keep her good memories of Aunt Bert unsullied.

We ended up going to the restaurant with the “family” (how that kills me). I would not have been surprised if we had been asked to leave, but it was okay. It was an Italian restaurant and the food was pretty good: garlic rolls, ziti, meatballs and chicken Parmesan. But it wasn’t about Aunt Bert. Usually you go back to the house and talk about the person and have catered food. This was just an excuse to eat. I’m not sure anyone mentioned Aunt Bert at all. My mother liked the idea a lot and she said when Grandma dies (something I don’t want to think about) she is going to do the same thing. It IS a lot less work than having something at the house. Her saying that made me think about who would come to Grandma’s funeral. I rarely think of all my cousins on that side, who I never see (except at funerals)–they are all second cousins once removed like Aunt Bert’s grandchildren. (That comes from being the only child of two only children-I have no first cousins.) My mother’s cousins would all come (one of them is my godmother–she got me Nutter, my white cat), of course, but probably not their children (who are my second cousins once removed). And my mom has a lot of cousins, her mother had three brothers and her father had...hell, I don’t even know. Aunt Elsie, Aunt Lena, Aunt Franny, Uncle Joe–I guess he had four siblings but they are all dead now (except maybe Aunt Lena? I don’t even know, isn’t that terrible?), and I never really knew any of those cousins. I don’t know why, I think they’re all older than me, and their kids much younger. And Aunt Franny had no kids, just lots and lots of cats (the first cat I ever had, Nippy, who was a year older than me, came from Aunt Franny).

My mom told me after the wake that my father laid out his suit as soon as I called on Tuesday to tell him his aunt had died. I wonder if he didn’t want to forget or what was in his mind. My parents also dressed up and were appalled at the outfits some people came in.

This morning I had to bring the Fatherbiter to the vet to get his teeth cleaned. My father doesn’t like to put the cat in his carrier (more likely that he doesn’t like to see the cat sad) and my mother would have to have left work to get the cat there between 7:30 and 9:00 a.m. So I left home around 8:00, after ringing once to let my dad know I was coming. And wasn’t the Fatherbiter in his carrier when I got there? So there’s no reason my father couldn’t have taken the cat himself. But I’m not complaining. Then the vet’s office made me fill out all these forms which I don’t remember having to do when my cats had their teeth done last year. I authorized the blood screen because otherwise they aren’t responsible if the cat dies while he’s under. I don’t like the cat much but my father adores him. They wanted me to sign another thing for the cat’s teeth to get waxed so he won’t get tartar build-up. It would require that my parents re-wax the cat’s teeth every week or so. It sounded like a money-making scam to me and I said no. I called my mom to be sure and she agreed. I told her that I was going to stop by the cemetery and look to see if Aunt Bert had been buried yet. My mom said as of yesterday she had not, but there was “digging” near her husband’s grave.

Well, I failed to find her husband’s grave, although I found two other ones with that last name on it. Maybe I was looking in the wrong section, who knows. I tried to find Neena’s grave (Will’s grandmother) but I realized I don’t even know her real name and I doubt her grave says “Neena.” I thought it was in the same section as Uncle Dick’s but I didn’t see any familiar names. Reynolds, that’s it. Grandpa Joe (Neena’s husband) had the last name of Reynolds. But I still don’t remember Neena’s first name. (Added later: Mary Davis was her name, but Will doesn’t remember which name she was buried under.)

I could hear digging so I decided to hike up the hill and ask the grave-diggers and while I was there look for Will’s father’s grave and see if the headstone needed digging out (it’s one of those annoying flat ones). I was, once again, looking in the wrong section for him too.

The grave diggers were very nice (in fact I think one of them was my friend’s brother-in-law) but did not remember Aunt Bert’s name as a recent or future dig. They told me to call the church to find her husband’s plot or the funeral home to find out if she had been cremated. I made up some dumb lie about how I couldn’t reach my cousins because I didn’t want to admit they hadn’t told us.

I saw the area where the flat stones are and headed over there to find Will’s dad. On the way I saw a last name that was familiar, that of a boy in my HS graduating class who killed himself. I took a detour and yup, it was him. I believe he was the first one to die from our class–we had no deaths before graduation, and he died a year or so later. It was kind of freaky to look at the grave of someone I know, who was born the same year as me, who died fifteen years ago.

I’m not sure I ever really spoke to him. I’ve been trying to remember if he was in my home room or the one next door (where some of my friend were, so I was often in there too) as his last name was one letter away in the alphabet from mine. He was not in the honors classes I took. He was very quiet. Stolid is a good word to describe him. I can remember him smiling so he must have once in a while. I can even remember his voice, but nothing he said. Funny what lingers, huh?

So, behind his quiet facade and slow smile, something unspeakable must have been building for a long time. Because one day, he went downstairs to his basement and drew some diagrams in chalk, trying to figure something out. When he had it to his satisfaction, he did it. He put his head in the vise and somehow managed to cut it off with a chainsaw.

Every one in a while, for some odd reason, he pops into my head, this boy I probably never talked to, and I wonder why he did it. I can understand why someone would commit suicide, that’s not it. It’s the WAY he did it. I paused for a moment by his grave and told him that I think of him. I did manage to locate Will’s father (I have the location memorized now–it’s lined up with the donation box and the row of two headstones) and I sat with (on) him for a few minutes and just thought about nothing.

Last year I met a woman in a workshop who said I had lots of entities around me, ghosts basically. She said they possess me all the time. (I believe there’s entities, but not the possession part. She was a little too wacky for me.) She was able to talk to one of them and it was Will’s father. Why his father would have attached himself to ME, I can’t explain. She said it was because he knew that my interests would eventually lead me to someone who could tell me he was there. That to me makes no sense, since his daughter is also into new age stuff and is just as likely to find a random medium as I am. And Susie has said she’s felt him around her and even thought she saw him once in the rearview mirror, sitting in the backseat (he never knew her, or about her–Will’s mom didn’t find out she was pregnant until after his funeral). I never really felt his presence, but just in case he’s still here, I thought I’d pay his body a visit.

To return to the subject of MY father (who this blog is supposed to be about, but I’m fond of digressions), he came over on Sunday to help clean out the greenery along the side of the house. Turns out there’s probably a hundred iris (irises?) growing in there along with a bunch of weeds and vines from hell. My mother wanted to transplant them for me. My grandmother originally planted them when I first moved in, and I never did anything to them. They just spread.

I had some jade plants which I was going to pot. My friend from Florida brought them up a few weeks ago. I found some cactus potting soil so I decided to re-pot all my cactuses (cacti). I did this while my mother cleared a new bed for the iris and my dad pulled them up. Will came out and dug up the ground near the garage for a little patio. I made a cactus garden with my sacred cactus, two clippings from it, one of Beth’s cacti, and a jade plant from Therese, all in a big white pot. I potted another jade plant for my mom (she forgot it, it’s still on the table outside). My dad insisted on pulling up every loose bulb (my mom threw them away when he wasn’t looking) on top of all the plants themselves. Then he’d take the plants and lay them in the middle of the cleared space, or on my nice edge rocks, and I’d move them to the sidewalk so we could tell what was what. Mom said that he hadn’t planned on coming over at all, but once he got there he didn’t want to leave–he kept pulling up plants which we had no where to re-plant. We filled the area I always called “my garden” (where the wild violets were), expanded that area, and planted more in the front yard. Grandma is going to take some also. We will eventually woodchip that area also.

It was a pretty good day for Dad. He seemed fairly with it. But then my mother said that he claims people look at him funny because of his Alzheimer’s bracelet. Well, if he doesn’t show it to them, they have no idea what it is or what it means, so I think it’s his imagination. That ol’ Alzheimer’s paranoia, you know?

I am hoping that I can get some of Aunt Bert’s rocks, maybe even some that I was with her when she picked them up in Old Saybrook. I’ll put them in my garden. I know she’ll like that. (3244)

Saturday, August 21, 2004

catch up (post 20a)

This has been an ongoing blog on my website,

Please read the first TWENTY posts there--enter the portal of the butterfly and then click on any "had a dad" link.I will cross-post to both places in the future.

Someday I may try to catch up and post the first 20 here.

If you wish to contact me privately, please use any email link from my web site.

en lak'ech
Gevera Bert Piedmont

Friday, August 20, 2004

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

20 aunt's death,

08-17-04 Mayatime: 11 Eb 15 Yaxkin

This is a fair-well to Aunt Bert (on the left, with me and my mom) (and yes, I spelled farewell wrong on purpose) who died today at age 86. If you have not been keeping up with this blog, I dedicated most of entry 12 to her. I guess I knew it was coming.

I was leaving work today (telemarketing) at 4:30 when Will called me (with our newly manifested FREE cell phones) and he really had to talk to me. So I cut the work-related conversation with my boss short and left to talk to him.

Seems Aunt Bert had pneumonia on Saturday night and was brought to the hospital. She’s also got congestive heart failure from a few years ago, and of course whatever form of dementia she possessed. (I guess it will never be diagnosed now; doubtful they’ll do an autopsy.) Her daughter and son-in-law are in California visiting their daughter W (the one I don’t call cousin), leaving my cousin alone to deal with his regularly scheduled life and this very sick old woman (who lived in the house next door, alone). He did not call me on Saturday because he said the doctors said it was no big deal and she’d come home on Monday or Tuesday (today).I guess she apparently died a few times (heart failure) and they resuscitated her, because Aunt Bert's daughter isn’t around to give the DNR order and he didn’t want to screw up. That was upsetting to me because I don’t think a person that old and sick should be forced to live. My cousin agrees, but knows if he gave a DNR order and she died, his mother would be pissed at him.

Meanwhile his parents were off to the Grand Canyon and neither my cousin nor his sister could reach them (no cell phone; they’re deaf) so they had no idea Aunt Bert was even in the hospital.He got a call shortly after 4 p.m. today from the hospital. He expected it to be the doctor saying she was okay and to come get her. Instead they said she had never woken up all day, and they couldn’t wake her. That was when he told my husband, who called me.Since I had to go pick up my husband at work anyway, I got to talk to my cousin for a while and got the details. I gave him my cell number because I figured she would probably die in the next few days.

Will and I picked up my no-longer-ill Pathfinder (for a quite reasonable fee, the A/C, dashboard light and several strange noises were all fixed, plus an oil change) and then went to dinner and to see Alien Vs Predator. Because I am a kind & thoughtful moviegoer (not like the idiots who had to be taken out by the cops), I put my phone onto silent, and missed all of my cousin’s calls. We got home just now at 9:30 (it’s 10:15 as I write) & saw all the missed calls and the hang-ups on the answering machine and I knew. She was dead.

Will called work; my cousin had left; we reached him at home and confirmed what I already knew in my heart. And in the meantime his sister had reached his parents and they were trying to get an emergency bereavement flight home–a tough enough thing, but worse for people who are deaf and have problems communicating. I had to call my parents, and of course my dad answered the phone. Aunt Bert raised him, she’s like a mom to him. I had called at 5:00 to tell them she was in the hospital so they weren’t surprised. But I know he’s sad and I hate it that he has to be sad when he himself has so little time left to know what’s going on (relatively speaking; I know he has years, but not what he SHOULD have at his age).She died peacefully in her sleep, never waking up today at all. She’s with the angels now. She knows what’s on the other side of the veil. Welcome home, Aunt Bert. (692)

Monday, August 16, 2004

19 Circle Sand,

<>08-16-04 (again) 10 Chuen 14 Yaxkin

Normally I wouldn’t do two entries in one day but what an adventure we just had! I had to get sand for the Circle. I calculated I would need about five yards of sand at $30/yard.

Here are MY calculations: if it’s 15 feet across, the math is: 15'x15'=225 sf x 3" deep (or .25 foot)=56.25 cubic feet/9 (9 feet/cubic yard)=6.25 cubic yards

If it’s 13 feet across, it’s 13'x13'=169 sf x 3" (.25 foot) =42.25 cubic feet/9 (9 cubic feet/yard)=4.7 cubic yards

(I know I’m using the area of a square and not a circle, but it’s not really either shape and it’s uneven ground.)

So last night I asked Dad if he could bring over some buckets in his pickup and we’d go fill the buckets with sand and bring them home. (The sand place is only a couple of miles away, if that.) I called him at 9:30 and he said he’d come over when he finished his cereal. I went outside and finished stapling the plastic weed barrier and found some more buckets and bungee cords and moved my Pathfinder to the street. It was NOT RAINING.

Dad came over a little past ten, it was just starting to rain. We drove the short distance to the quarry, and it’s really raining. We grabbed shovels and started filling our 13 buckets. By now it’s full-fledged POURING (thanks Charlie), we’re in mud up to our ankles, soaked to the skin. It seemed like an awful lot of sand so I went inside to ask the lady how much of a yard was in each bucket. She said a yard would FILL the back of the pickup. So I would need to fill the pickup bed FIVE times. She tried to convince me to just have them deliver it (the logical solution, of course, if I had money) rather than fill 135 buckets. (Or ten trips like we were making.) I asked them to figure it out and they said I only need TWO yards of sand, not five. And guess how much our 13 buckets of sand ended up costing? (I had the full $125 with me for five yards).


Now of course Dad was worried that the buckets will shift and break the tailgate. (That’s why I brought bungies). So in the pouring rain I was bungeeing (is that a word?) all these buckets into the bed of the pickup. We had to go up and down a small hill and my father was freaking out that the buckets would shift, break the tailgate, spill sand everywhere and we’d get arrested. (You wondered where my fertile imagination and talent for drama came from? Now you know.) Of course this did not happen.

We unloaded the buckets into the driveway. My original plan had been to spread the sand immediately and see how much more I’d need. Nope, not in this rain. The buckets are just sitting there absorbing water and getting heavier. I tried to offer my dad lunch but he said no as it was almost 11:30 and we’d have to change clothes and shower and it would be too late.

When I got inside, I was soaked to the skin. It was like being in Herkimer NY digging for quartz, except it was sand today and muddy red clay in New York.

I feel really, really bad about making my dad help me in the pouring rain. He's not the type to ever complain or say "I don't want to do this, let's do it another day" (which any intelligent person, like my husband, would have said). I just wanted to get the sand and get it over with so I can go onto the next phase of the Circle-building: making more poetry stones.

I wanted to go see about a job later on today but I’m filthy and wet and not sure I’m in the mood. But I guess I should; I need work, and it’s an “apply in person” position. (614)

18 new monitor, new age fair, b-day, bad bank, lost dad, rank smell, gem show, lost keys,

08-16-04 Mayatime: 10 Chuen 14 Yaxkin

I finally got a new monitor. My old monitor was getting darker and darker. My wallpaper is a picture of Stonehenge and I’d thought for a long time it was a picture taken at dusk–the stones in shadow, the grass a dark puddle under a indigo sky, all very romantic. Nope. It’s full daylight, light blue sky, clouds, green grass. I just checked all the pictures I’ve posted lately and sure enough, they are all too light. Photoshop isn’t working at the moment so I can’t fix them just yet, but I will as soon as I diagnose the problem–it starts up, then during the splash screen it just goes away. Don’t know why. Anyway, this “new” monitor is used and has a huge scrape right across the front so I can’t look in the middle of the screen, I have to look around the edges. Kind of annoying but I guess it was only $20 (for a 17").

I had a good day yesterday at the ASC New Age Fair. I made some money, did eleven reflexology sessions and two Mayan Oracle readings. That, combined with the left-over money from going to the gem show on Friday and Saturday gives me enough money to buy the sand for my Circle and have some left over in the bank for my business.

My father’s birthday was Tuesday. Sixty-four years old. People aren’t surprised when I say my dad has Alzheimer’s but they are when I say how old he is. Funny that yesterday several people found their way into my reflexology chair who had parents with Alzheimer’s. Or not, the universe has a way of sending people what they need. Sigh. I have to work more on the art of graceful acceptance–I told enough people about it yesterday, now I need to practice what I preach.

So we all went out to eat: me, hubby, dad, mom. We went to Applebee’s (which apparently they DO go to, so I was wrong when I said they didn’t). My father looked at the menu and asked what he likes there. My mother told him, but he wanted to order something else (some shrimp dish) which she said he’s ordered and not liked. He could not believe that he would dislike shrimp but he finally chose the other thing (some kind of pasta with broiled chicken). I got my extra-yummy fajita roll-up with chips and salsa. (why would anyone serve a fajita with french fries? I always substitute.) My father, who has always eaten kind of slow, spent a lot of time cutting “fat” off his chicken–it was broiled strips of breast with absolutely no fat on it. His meat should be served with a scalpel, that’s how much he dissects it (and you all wondered where I got my picky eating from). He was cutting off the char marks and saying they were fat, for instance. The waiters sang to him and gave him a free dessert--apple pie with ice cream and caramel and a candle in it.

When we got back to my house, the package with his gift was on the front porch so we just opened the box and gave it to him. He wasn’t as excited as I had hoped. I know once I give a gift I have no control or attachment to it, if the person chooses to throw it out or misuse it, that’s that person’s issue not mine. But it makes me sad to see it sitting still in the plastic wrapper when it was so expensive and I thought it would bring him joy.

My mom’s having some problems with the bank. I guess when our old bank, Dime Savings, got bought out, they screwed up the transfer of money from one bank to another and only left my dad’s name on all the money, not both. Lawyers from her current bank are looking into proving her name used to be on the money so she can access it. The bank doesn’t want to let my father touch it (he probably told them he has Alzheimer’s, he’s very open about it) and my mom’s name isn’t on it. So that’s a royal fuckup, and nothing I can do about it. I thought she had gotten power of attorney but maybe that’s not how it works? I’m a law-ignoramus.

Thursday night the four of us went shopping at BJ’s. Usually it’s just me and my mom, but my dad wanted to come and Will wasn’t working at night, since he doesn’t have to go to college for a couple of weeks. We lost my father only once, and Will fetched him back. My mother drove and my father dictated and yelled instructions “watch out! You’re too close! Watch for that white car!” Then when my mother got frustrated at some guy who wouldn’t allow enough room for her to get out of the parking space (the guy wanted to pull in) my father told HER to calm down. Very funny, actually.

The worse thing about it was having to be in my parents’ car.My mother and I use these canvas bags for groceries which my grandmother made. They have handles and are very sturdy. A few weeks ago, my mom somehow left a bag in the car which had meat in it. For SIX DAYS. In the summer. In the heat. She said the car was filled with flies. (Ugh.) She finally figured it out, and had to throw the meat away (imagine that). Lest you think my mom is ditzy, she isn’t, not at all. But she is distracted by this whole thing with my dad, obviously. So the car and the bags were reeking of that horrible rotten death-stench. My mom used a lot of that Febreeze stuff and gave me all the bags and a blanket to wash in the Febreeze laundry additive (which is awesome, but I hate the spray stuff, which stinks worse than the smells you might try to cover up). The bags smelled better, but I could still smell it in the car. That’ll kill your appetite.

This weekend was the big gem show at the Big E that we all wait for all year. It’s three days in the Better Living Building, and I have a tax ID for my business so I can get into the wholesale room and buy things at half-price for resale. This year everything I bought was for resale except a sarong to use as a table drape at New Age Fairs (so that counts as a business expense, at least). I went up on Friday and Saturday. I had $194 to spend (the fee from a Shamballa-Reiki class minus Paypal’s greedy fingers) and I ended up with $55 left over after buying 25 crystal merkabas and the drape. Then I made over $200 at the New Age Fair so my business bank balance is going to be back over $100 after I buy sand today. Isn’t that sad? The bank must laugh at me.

So Friday I got home a little after 2 p.m. My leg was really bothering me and I wanted to lounge on the couch with my foot up to ease the swelling. But it wasn’t meant to be. I found a frantic message from Dad on the machine: “I’m in big trouble. You have to help me. I can’t find my keys.” It was from 9:30 in the morning.I called him to see if he’d found the keys yet. He hadn’t. I asked him some questions about the keys, you know, questions you’d ask anyone who lost something: where did you see them last? What keys are on the ring? Where have you been with them? “I don’t know.” Very frustrating. So I get back in the car and drive over there to help find the keys. My mom was just getting home from work and she had to take the fatherbiter cat to the vet. We looked for a while but with no real idea where they could be. My mom said he left them in the door and she’d put them on the counter on Wednesday. He didn’t drive on Thursday night and didn’t know if he’d taken them with him. He claimed the paperboy stole them out of the door. I gave up looking and went home when my mom left with Jasper the fatherbiter to go to the vet. But before I left I gave my father my cell phone number, and Will’s, and my mom’s (all of which he should have already had).Saturday morning I’ve just arrived at the gem show and my cell phone rings. Caller ID says it’s my parents house. It’s Dad. He found his keys.In his bathrobe pocket.

My friends and I had a good laugh over it (not in a mean way). I know it’s only going to get worse.On Saturday the Safe Return bracelet came. It’s nice enough, I guess. It makes me sad. My father was wearing it last night at Grandma’s. He thanked me so earnestly for buying it for him, I think even more than he thanked me for his birthday gift. I wish I hadn’t had to buy it for him, that there was no possibility that in the future he will get lost and need to use it.Today Dad and I are going to go get the sand to finish the Circle. Pictures will be posted as soon as I get Photoshop working again. (1602)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

(picture) Mom & Dad

Mom & Dad 2004 --on my birthday, no less, taken at the Mystic Aquarium.

Those with Alzheimer's are still people, with thoughts, feelings and families. They are not monsters that should be locked away from society. Posted by Hello

Monday, August 09, 2004

17 sadness, Circle, Home Depot, plant stand, books, words, Open Water

08-09-04 Mayatime: 3 Kan 7 Yaxkin

I’m living in such a state of sadness these days. It’s like a veneer over my life. Not that I never laugh or have a good time. It’s just that everything weighs me down. It’s like when I play my singing bowls, as long as I don’t touch them the sound goes on and on. But if I touch them even with the gentlest fingertip, the sound stops. That is my joy--stopped by the fingertip of sadness.

That sound so self-indulgent doesn’t it? Poor me. Poor fat me with no job and a crazy father. Just another way for the world to see me as selfish.

My dad is a ghost of himself. He’s there, but silent, and when you talk to him, he doesn’t seem to hear. Or maybe it’s like he’s behind glass.

Therese’s visit (friend from Florida) inspired me to improve my healing circle, to change the energy and see if I can bring people in who can learn from me and also teach me. I spent a while on Thursday morning pulling weeds and raking to clear the area down to the ground & putting down weed barrier. On Friday I called Dad to see if he wanted to go to Home Depot, since he had a good time with me last time, but I couldn’t find him. I called several times. Of course he doesn’t know how to listen to messages, and once I leave a message the phone only rings once the next time I call (it’s that "toll saver" feature for those who call in for their messages–lots of rings means no messages & to hang up to save a connection fee). And if he’s outside he doesn’t hear the phone either.

I went to lunch with my husband and then checked a few places where Dad has been known to hang out. One of them, an antiques place which used to be his store, had a cool plant stand out front. I made a note of that and then went to check the house, where I found Dad just pulling out of the street. We talked through the car windows and he agreed to go to HD with me.
I got another roll of weed barrier, five bags of chips, and more stakes. Dad was helpful by pushing the carriage and loading the bags into the car. We stopped at the antique place to ask about the plant stand (I had asked him to ask for me, but a few minutes later he had already forgotten). The multi-arm plant stand was a white cast iron piece, filthy and rusted. I figured $20-30. And there was a nice silver bracelet made of interlocking dolphins, and I was hoping for about $10. (This antique place isn’t about valuables, it’s about OLD and old does not and should not always mean expensive). Well, the plant stand was $135 (he dropped it to $100 for me, hahaha) and the bracelet was $35. So no plant stand OR silver dolphin bracelet for me, thank you very much.

Dad complained to me that while he was pulling weeds in my front yard by the road, he got some "black stuff" on his leg. This black stuff came off his skin easily, but somehow he got some onto his end table ("the thing next to the couch where I sit") and he couldn’t get it off. I felt bad, imagining some kind of goopy tar ruining the nice wood. I asked him to tell my mother that my husband wouldn’t be at Grandma’s on Sunday (he forgot). He asked if it had to do with his "August tenth thing" (meaning his birthday) and I said no. I then asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, and he said he wanted to go to Applebee’s. So on Tuesday (tomorrow) for his birthday we’re taking him to Applebee’s for supper. I dropped him off at home to go back and hang out at the antique store and went back to my own home to play with wood chips.

Will decided that the chips should only be around the edge and sand in the middle. Five bags of chips barely did the edge. And I still have to find five cubic yards of beach sand for the center. I made another pilgrimage to Home Depot (I want a frequent shopper card or something) for three MORE bags of chips and MORE stakes (since the plastic weed barrier was flapping around). I went by myself, because I knew my parents were at Grandma’s. While I was in line, I saw a small bottle of goop remover (the yellow stuff--Goo Gone or something like that) for $1.49 and I decided to buy it for my dad so he could clean the "black stuff" off the end table, the black stuff which somehow came from my yard. (Being an ex-Catholic, it’s easy to make me feel guilty.)

My father wasn’t home, although my mother was, and I looked at this "black stuff" on his end table. It was pen ink–you know, when a pen leaks and makes a puddle? The stuff I bought worked fine to clean it off and I left the bottle with my mom. How he equated a spill of pen ink with black goop (still unidentified) from the yard is beyond me.

I was talking to my mom about the plants Therese bought me from her garden in Florida when I saw my father walk by the front door. I said, "Dad’s home" and we kept talking about the plants. My mother wanted me to pot one for her and gave me an empty pot. Meanwhile my father didn’t come in. Finally he did–he was outside talking to the cat. (The father-biting cat, as I now call him. My father’s hand is healed on the surface but he says it still hurts inside sometimes.) I was telling my mother about the funny thing President Bush (he’s such an idiot) said: "this administration will never stop thinking of ways to harm the American people" and my dad did not respond or laugh. So I looked at him and repeated it. It didn’t seem like he got it.I gathered the pot and some books and went to leave. My mother said, "Berta’s leaving, say goodbye" and he said something wrong. I forget what, something like "say Berta" instead of "Bye, Berta." I did not correct him, but it made me sad.

Yesterday at grandma’s he hardly spoke. I asked my mother if she took him for a hearing test yet and she and my grandmother insisted he hears just fine, he doesn’t listen. I was looking at the paper and I said "Dad are you listening to me?" and he didn’t answer. My mother said "Berta’s talking to you," and he turned and said "were you talking to me? I heard you but I didn’t think you were talking to me." I noticed that unless he’s looking at you, he doesn’t respond. And even then, it’s iffy.

I ordered his Safe Return bracelet from the Alzheimer’s foundation ( and sent a nice photo I took of him a few weeks ago at Grandma’s. (They keep the photo on file, if he is lost they fax to the police.) I put in his description that he doesn’t listen and is losing his ability to articulate. I also spent way too much money on his birthday gift: the $100 Far Side complete 2 volume set. I only hope he can still appreciate it. In fact, as I was writing a few minutes ago, UPS came, so it’s here.

I finally got the 36-Hour Day from the library. It’s extremely depressing. I am interspersing reading that with FrontPage 2000 for Dummies (I think I know it pretty well, but I’d like to improve this site further) and whatever novels Mom throws my way.

I know the phrase "fate worse than death" used to mean when a girl got raped. But to me, what’s happening to my dad is worse than dying. It’s a gradual sucking away, a pointless relentless progression I am helpless to stop. I read all these books, the 36 Hour Day, the New Hope Guide, Preventing Alzheimer’s, Tangled Minds, and all I want to do is cry. I can’t save my father. And it’s not fair. He’s not a bad person. He never beat me or abused me, even though he had a bad childhood and easily could have grown up to be a perpetrator. He was never a high-pressure car salesman, he was also nice and gentle. Yeah, he wore some loud checkered car salesman suits, but are they any worse than what golfers wear? Alzheimer’s is certainly no punishment for bad fashion sense.

I am grateful to have so many spiritual friends who are supportive of me while my life seems so dark and bleak, even if I have the same conversation with all of them (eventually I guess I’ll really LISTEN to what they are saying and take it inside me and allow myself to heal). They say, over and over, that this is not my fault. This is not about me. Even Steve Rother said that right off the bat last time I talked to him–it’s not about me and my only role is to hold the light for my father.

But how can something so close to me not be about me? How can this not be a learning experience for me, a chance for mastery? If it is true that we pick our parents before we come over, then I had to know what contracts my parents had in place. Why did I choose to come here and subject myself to this?

I think a lot about light and dichotomies of light. Light and dark. Light and heavy. I am like a black hole, so dense that all the light stays close to me. If I was lighter, I’d have more light. I am heavy and dark. I don’t know what to do.

I see my father losing his words, and I know from the reading that someday he will lose them all and sit mutely, unable to communicate at all, and meanwhile his comprehension of words will go away, and no messages will get in or out. Does a person with no language think anymore? Do they know what they’ve lost? Do they revert to that before-language place where babies dwell, where images and colors and sounds and smells are all they know? (They say once you have language you can no longer retrieve those pre-language baby memories, because you don’t see the world the same when objects and colors and sounds have names.)

I love words. I read, I write, I talk, I sing silly songs to my cats. I cannot imagine losing words. Sometimes I can’t think of a word, or the right word, when I’m writing (sometimes it’s the tip of the tongue thing, sometimes I just can’t think of a good word) and I get frustrated. How frustrating must it be not to know what an end table is called, or tomato sauce. Or how to say goodbye to your daughter.

Because always in the back of my mind is this knowledge– this disease might be coming for me. One book said that you start developing the tangles and plaques in your brain as early as 30. I might have it, right now as I write these words. I am doing some of the prevention/slow down stuff--drinking alcohol once a week, taking baby aspirin and vitamins every day.And I guess I’m angry. I’m angry at what my mom is going through. She worked hard her whole life, she still works 40 hours a week, and what does she have to look forward to when she retires? Not vacations and maybe a new dog, but heartbreaking care-taking work and eventually having to put her husband into a nursing home and having no money to enjoy anything. To a mother who’s going blind and will need to be driven around. What about karma? What about balance? How is this fair and balanced? It’s not.

I am very, very glad I don’t have any children. I don’t want to pass on my crappy genetics, and besides that, I will need to focus more of my time and attention on my father as time goes on. I keep my pets in pairs so they don’t get lonely, but you can’t do that with kids.

I am helpless, impotent (meaning unable to act, not meaning I need to take a blue pill) in the face of this horrible disease. And maybe that’s my lesson. I can’t control this. There is really nothing I can do. If it’s coming for me, I can slow it down. I can be there for my parents. But I can’t control it.

I want to go see Open Water. Will does not. He wants to learn to scuba dive, and he says if he goes to see it, he won’t want to anymore. I read in an online article that you have a better chance of getting killed in a car accident driving to the theater to see Open Water than you do of being eaten by a shark (or being left behind by a careless dive master). The two Americans left behind in Australia both died (the "true story" the movie’s based on) so the movie is entirely made up. No one knows what happened to them; some of their gear was found washed up on a shore and it’s presumed sharks got them. I don’t want to dive in deep water. I want to do relatively shallow reef dives. And there are sharks everywhere. There are sharks right here in Connecticut. People have seen them in Rhode Island. I don’t have to go to Australia or the Caribbean to be eaten by a shark. And you know what? Given the choice between Alzheimer’s in my own brain and a shark, guess who I’d pick? "Come and get it, boys! Looks like meat’s back on the menu!" (LOTR: The Two Towers).

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

16 recyling, the Circle, safe return, rat, grand Cayman

08-04-04 Mayatime: 11 Cauac 2 Yaxkin

It’s so hard to talk to my dad. He called before, when I was out, and talked to Will. He identifies himself, even to us, as his full name: “Hi, I’m Bob Rizza,” like I don’t know my dad’s voice/name after all these years. He’s done that for quite a while. My dad has always liked his name. He’s always had a good signature too, very spiky and dashing. I haven’t seen it lately so I don’t know if it’s still good.

Anyway, he called because he likes to take bottles to recycling. I know, it’s the most BORING thing in the world. I hate it. I wait until I have so many bags of bottles that they barely fit in my Pathfinder and then I spend an hour getting all sticky feeding machines just to get about $4.35, which I promptly spend on hand wipes. But Dad likes to do it, so I let him. I’ve learned not to expect the $4.35 back. The first time he did it for me, he says “I’m going to the recycling place, want me to bring your bottles back for you?” I said fine, and then he kept the money and never said anything about how much it was. But you know what? It’s such a pain in my ass to do it, he’s welcome to the $4.35. My mother and husband think it’s funny because he hornswaggles me out of the money, but I LET him.

I have a few dozen bottles (possibly not even WORTH $4.35) and I figured he would just come and get them, but he did not, so I called him back. He had already gone to the recycling place, and reminding him of it got him angry, because he wasn’t able to cash in his ticket for $8 (probably $8.70, which is twice $4.35, you know) because the counter guy ran out of money. He gets angry more easily now, especially when he thinks he “forgot” something. He still has the ticket, though, so I convinced him it’s okay if he goes tomorrow and gets the money.

We had a long conversation about him mowing my lawn. He asked about the rocks (see, some things DO stick in his head). When my friend from Florida was here on Friday, we moved the rocks (made the circle about 1/2 again as big as it was) and put up a fence. I am going to finish pulling up all the grass from inside and put down weed barrier and wood chips to further divide the circle from the yard. So he should not have to worry about rocks anymore. (I believe I told the story of Dad and the rocks earlier.) And again, it is not mean for me to ask my old Dad to mow or take back my bottles. He likes to feel useful, and he won’t let me borrow the mower to use myself, so this is the best solution.

Last night, I entered a writing contest for made-up words (remember Sniglets on HBO a long time ago? That sort of thing) and I entered a few that my dad made up when I was a child: sniggle, schoochaba, congradulations, as well as many I made up myself and use in conversation all the time, as if they were real words. (Well, to me, they are. And I consider “sniggle” and “schoochaba” to be real too, I’ve always used them.) So if any of my dad’s words get online, I can tell him about it. Not that it’s a real dictionary, but it counts in my heart, right?

I have signed my father up for the Alzheimer’s Organization’s Safe Return program. Dad gets a bracelet with a code number and phone number, and when the day comes that he gets lost, they have lots of phone numbers to call for one of us to come get him. I have to send a picture too, so I found a nice one I took a few weeks ago and printed out a big copy. That’s in case we know he’s lost, but no one’s found him yet, they will fax his picture to the police station. I know that day will be far off.

Friday morning we had some excitement at our house; the cats killed a large rat that had somehow gotten into the house. I am still negotiating with Orkin, who I had already paid $371 less than a month earlier to keep my house pest-free. Instead, I got a rat. The very day my friend was coming up from Florida. Thanks a lot. Never in my life did I have a rat in my house. I am freaking out every time the cat walks by my feet under the desk and his fur touches me– I think he’s a rat. The rat was much much bigger than my parrots and I worry that a rat could get into their cages and hurt them. (Big fat rat is only as big as his little head.)

I also sold two small articles on writing to the T-Zero magazine which is part of Writer’s Village.

I am very sad that I did not get either job which I interviewed for last month. I was absolutely positive I had one, and pretty sure about the other. So I’m back to square one, with no prospects, there hasn’t even been anything in the paper. And of course they won’t say WHY they didn’t hire me. My husband says it’s discrimination because I am overweight. But we can’t prove it, can we?

My dad’s birthday is next week. I spent too much money that I did not have on the ultimate giant $100+ Far Side collection. He loves the Far Side. He has a bag (well, I have it, I meant to organize it but it was too much) of every cartoon for years. Just cartoons, loose in a bag. I don’t think it will get here by his actual birthday, but I want him to have it while he can still enjoy it. And when he can’t, I’ll take it and enjoy it myself! So it’s not wasted money.

I really, really, really am longing for Grand Cayman. I want to swim with stingrays. I want to sleep on Seven Mile Beach. I want to drive on the wrong side of the road and listen to reggae and see feral chickens at the airport. I want to learn to scuba dive.

I was looking for some geographical information on GC & Cozumel, since the island in my novel is loosely based on them, and just looking at a map of GC made me want to cry. I want to be there. I need to swim in that water. I need to be away from here, all the BS & sadness that surrounds me. Universe, do you hear me? (1154)