Tuesday, January 31, 2006

54: old pictures

My cousin has officially purchased and is about to move into his grandma's house. In the attic they found a bunch of old photo albums. I was not allowed to keep any of the photos, but I'm scanning quite a few in. Seeing all those old pictures makes me sad. There's a note in my aunt's handwriting after some pictures of a woman with that woman's name and the notation "She has since passed on. I miss her letters." I just find that heartbreaking. Who did she leave that note for?
I brought the borrowed albums to my parents' house for my dad to go through. Most of the pictures, the really old black and white ones, weren't labeled, and my dad couldn't remember who they were of. He says, "this damn thing in my head, I can't remember." He talks about his Alzheimer's like it's a tumor. I guess in a way it is, huh?
So as I scan in and restore these old pictures, I'm going to post some of them. The one I really wanted, of my great-grandfather (Aunt Bert's father) with a giant rattler he killed "up at the farm" (now a town park), wasn't in any of these albums. I remember seeing it as a child and my mom remembers it too. I thought it would be fun to send a copy to the historical society. Oh well.
My dad then pulled out a photo album I never knew existed, with pictures of him as a baby with his mom--the grandma I never met. Supposedly I look just like her. She was pretty so I guess it's a compliment. Aunt Bert always said I was the spitting image of Ruth (that was her name).
Funny that in my dad's album there wasn't one single picture of his dad. Not one. I'm not even sure I know his name. Maybe Sal? Weird.

Monday, January 23, 2006

53 "happy with you"

On Saturday, my mom came over to help me clean my house, which she does once in a while. Usually (lately) my dad comes with her. He watches TV or talks to the birds or the cats. I even had something for him to do--I had a bunch of scrap paper I needed cut into quarters.
But he didn't come over; he went to his friend's store instead. No big deal.
My mom was done with the cleaning part she came to do in less than an hour, and she left. I retreated here to my computer to place a Body Shop order from a party the night before. I had the TV on one of those digital music stations, and I did think it odd that a song played in "soundscapes" (new age music) would have a guy saying "hello? hello?" over and over so I got up from my chair and there was my dad in my living room.
Remember, he's got no truck now, and even when he had the truck, he wasn't driving anymore. So my first question was, "How did you get here?"
To which he replied, "I walked." It's only a couple of miles, but still, I wasn't happy about him wandering around town on foot. He had to cross the train tracks, for one thing.
He was looking for my mom, and was sad that she had already left. He said, "I wanted to come here and be happy with you." Then he apologized several times for bothering me and said he'd go walk back to the store.
That morning I had already been out once, to go to the bank, and my first thought upon leaving my back door was "wow my yard smells bad" --not like something died bad, just gross awful bad. No wonder I woke up with a headache. I realized that it wasn't my yard, it was coming from either Cy-Tec or the trash plant (both of which are less than a mile from my house--Cytec is a plastics factory which used to be called Cyanamid and it's always stunk). I've lived in this town my whole life and I only smell the factory if it's really odorious. I don't believe in the 12+ years I've lived in this house I've ever smelled it before from my yard (only when driving by the factory itself). I stopped at the end of the street to get gas and I could smell it there too, and the gas station is further away from the factory and the trash plant (they are next to each other) than my house. So it was pretty bad.
I realized that my dad had been walking around in that stench, breathing it in for who knows how long, so I told him I'd give him a ride home. First I tried to call my mom to tell her I had Dad, but she didn't answer. I gave my dad my empty soda bottles (I hate the bother of returning them--I believe I already did a rant on the $3.57 they are always worth no matter how many I bring) and put him in my car to take him home. Except that he didn't want to go home, he wanted to go back to the store.
As we were driving, he said, "It's different when you're walking. I went way down there and I had to come all the way back." So obviously he took a wrong turn somewhere, but at least he found my house, and didn't just keep walking and end up in Cheshire or something. My mom told me later on that he turned on Hall Avenue instead of Quinnipiac St.
I dropped him off at the store and there was his old truck, shiny and sparkly, parked in the lot. (The guy who owns it now is the son of the guy who owns the store.) I said twice, "isn't that your old truck?" but my father didn't answer. He just told me to tell my mother that he'd come to my house looking for her.
I took the bag of bottles up to their house but my mom still wasn't home so I left her a note.
When he got home she asked him why he didn't just come with her in the first place and he said, "I don't know."
At least it was a funny adventure that turned out okay.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

52 bye bye truck

Well, the truck's gone. Sold it for the KBB value. My parents got into a fight over the money. What else is new? My dad wants to horde it in his personal checking account. My mom wanted to put it in savings to live off of. Mom won, of course, she does have power of attorney and all that. So they're down to one car. My mom was hoping to save on car insurance, but because my dad still has a driver's license, she has to keep paying for him to be insured, and because she got a 40% discount for having 2 vehicles insured, she really didn't save much.
It's obvious that my dad is never going to drive again. Why does he have to have a driver's license? There must be some other kind of state ID he can get. Then again, once you have a license, you've got one forever. Pretty stupid if you ask me. My husband's gramma Ag was completely crippled, couldn't walk a step, gnarled from a hideous case of rheumatoid arthritis, and every year the state of Florida renewed her driver's license by mail. And you'd think with their incredible population of elderly that they'd have a better system.
The people at the Alzhiemer's study got my mom to start coming to support meetings. They are only once a month, on Thursdays at 2 p.m. somewhere in New Haven. She wants me to come but I can't take off work for that. I'm glad she's found something. I've been trying and trying to get her to go; there's meetings right here in Wallingford for cripes' sake. Maybe now that she's gone to a couple of these New Haven ones she'll be more willing to go to the Wlfd ones. There's a lady there who my mom said has the exact same issues with her husband as my mom has with my dad so it's kind of a bonding thing for her. I'm glad.
I had lunch with them on Monday at Wendy's. My dad likes to get a chicken sandwich with bacon on it. Who knows why? But they are willing to put bacon on anything for $.50. But he's got to take the reciept and look at it and freak out over the cost of everything, saying it's too much. But if I don't get the bacon for him, he freaks out that there's no bacon.
Last Friday we went to Applebee's for lunch. I got there early and ordered mozzarella sticks, and the drinks for my parents and me. The sticks came just after my parents sat down, and my father got totally irate. Said something like "oh, that's it for me." and how he always gets screwed. Because he thought we were at 99 Restaurant and getting a free bowl of popcorn. He doesn't like cheesesticks but my mom and I do. He says "You can have them" and pushes them away, even though we no longer offer them to him. (he used to eat them and like them). Then he got even more angry that he didn't order clam chowder (didn't even occur to me) so I tried to get it added on, but the food was already ready so it was too late. It took forever for us to convince him that he'd eaten the chicken and broccoli pasta before (every time we come there, actually). He kept saying no. Then he had to "de-fat" the chicken, which consists of cutting off all the char marks. He must have thrown away 3/4 of the chicken. Then he cut and cut and cut the pasta until it was basically a mush, not even something you can eat with a fork.
My husband doesn't understand my father's obsession with de-fatting his food and cutting it into miniscule pieces. Especially since my father will cut and cut his meat, de-fatting it until there's nothing left, and then smother it in GRAVY. When he eats salad, he DRINKS the dressing left over. What's in gravy? Drippings. What are drippings? Melted fat. What's dressing? Oil. What's oil? Liquid fat. I guess only fat in solid form bothers him. He eats butter, he loves the popcorn I make which is made with butter-flavored oil and real butter. It's got a lot more fat in it than the char-marks on broiled chicken.
But it's like my grandma who thinks Frosted Flakes have no sugar in them unless added from the sugar bowl. How do you convince these people otherwise? Old and crazy and set in their ways.
My grandma's going to the doctor this week about her blood pressure medicine she claims is making her so sick. I can't spell it, and therefore can't look it up. Atteninol? My mom tends to pronounce unfamilar words very strangely so that might not be it. Supposedly it's been the news for causing strokes. Maybe I can find it that way. Here it is, from WebMD: Tenormin (atenolol) . But there's so many sites with conflicting information so who knows?
My dad said on Sunday when we saw him, "no more truck. My truck's gone." like someone took it. He didn't seem as sad as I thought he would be, just resigned. I talked to my mom today and she said he got his plates back ("ZZ") so he's happy about that. The strangest things make him happy. And I know those plates made people think he was a zz top fan, instead of being part of his last name. Whatever. It's a moot point now, right?
And no more pick-up truck in the family. Oh well.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

51 selling the truck

I talked to my mom last night and she said my dad decided, on his own, to sell his truck.
He stopped driving on his own over the summer and my mom's been trying to keep both cars going, having to switch driving them, and do all the service and everything on both. Plus my grandma's hardly driving anymore, so my mom's been dealing with her car too. It's a lot of work. Too much work. The son of the guy who my dad "works" for is going to buy it. I did the Kelly Blue Book value on it for private sale, and I guess that's what he's buying it for.
It makes me sad, to think of my dad with no vehicle, my dad who sold cars for most of my life and always had a new "demo" to bring home and show us. (Car salesmen don't get demos anymore. What a perk that was, a free car.)
My grandma was quiet and sick on New Year's Day. I've learned not to ask how she is, not to say anything. I was trying to help my mom set the table and Gramma was hovering between the kitchen and dining room, basically just in the way (horrible to say) . I asked her to just move for a minute so I could get by and get into my chair and instead she sat down and totally blocked me so I had to go through the living room and in the other door and have my husband move so I could get to my seat in the corner. She ate about 2 bites. (Not that I ate much more; I had a bout of food poisoning over the weekend which I wasn't recovered from yet.) And kept sighing loudly. She didn't talk, just sat there with her mouth all turned down--what is known as "the puss on" in our family, as in "she's sitting there with a puss on" (what a stupid saying). We were about to have dessert and she wanted to be taken home. My mom was trying to deal with the dishes and clearing the main course and setting out the coffee and she asked my husband to take her home, and Gramma refused, saying it had to be my mother. She wouldn't walk down the stairs in front of the house (not that I blame her, I hate those stairs too) so Will had to get up anyway to move our car so she could go out the side door.
My dad didn't talk much during the meal, not even about the birds outside or the raspberry bushes, which are his usual holiday topics.
After the dessert we all sat down to do a puzzle, which is what we do now instead of cards. It was my parents, my mom's best friend, and me and my husband. The puzzle was of castle in Scotland--Stirling. My father did his usual method of puzzle solving, which is picking up 2 random pieces and trying to stick them together, and then saying "do these fit" and passing them around. Meanwhile I was going to town on the border and my husband had pulled out all the building pieces and was putting that together. Of course my father got frustrated and kept leaving the table. Or sitting there farting.
He's also been so damn flatulent lately. It's really gross. My mom says he has no idea he's farting. He'll stand right behind someone and let a huge ripping one loose. How could someone NOT KNOW? Argh. Some of them are room-clearers. If you say something to him, he says "What?" like he honestly has no idea.
So my grandma has to go back to the doctor for new medicine. She says this medicine makes her dizzy. And she's not taking the full dosage of her depression medicine either. I think by next Christmas she'll be living at my mom's house. She's stopped doing her sewing and stuff because it's "too much" because she "doesn't feel good" and her "mornings are bad" and all sorts of other reasons. Which means my mom will sell her car too. What my grandma will do if she can't go to church EVERY DAY and grocery shopping EVERY DAY and to the senior center (where she lives now) EVERY DAY I don't know. My mom seems to think it will be easier to have my grandma there under her thumb but I think it will turn my mom into a glorified chauffer. (I can't spell that damn word.) I am working every day, not full time, but enough that I can't help her much. I wish I made more money, for myself as well as my parents.
I just started selling The Body Shop at Home--I go around and do parties. Please help me and buy something from my special web site.