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Monthly Archives: January 2008

As most of my readers know, I am caring for my elderly, widowed mom. My dad died in May, 2005, and though my mom still lives independently, in their house, she probably shouldn’t. That is her wish, and I want her to have every opportunity to stay there as long as she can. She no longer drives, and I take her to all her appointments and errands.

Before my dad died, he had retired to take care of her. About the only time he left her alone was when he went golfing, grocery shopping, or to a home (hardware) store. He had even taken over a good bit of the household chores. She had nearly died 2 times, when he was still alive, and none of us ever dreamed that she would outlive him, simply because of her medical problems. She is an insulin-dependent diabetic, has rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, fibromyalgia, failing eyesight, and lots of other ailments. But the thing that is probably the greatest threat to her right now (other than the diabetes) is that she is very off balance when she walks. She refuses to use her walker, except occasionally to go to the mailbox. When I am with her-I am the walker. She holds my hand everywhere we go, and even then she is on the brink of disaster. The other day we went to McDonalds, and I let go of her hand to open the door, and she spun around and almost fell off the curb. I say almost, because I was anticipating that might happen, and I grabbed her quickly. The only time I feel at ease is when she is pushing a shopping cart. (It makes a great walker!)

Monday, I took her for a liver scan, as her liver enzymes have been elevated for over a year. Thursday, I take her for a brain MRI.

The last visit we had with her doctor, he skimmed over the fact that she had been complaining about confusion, and said something like, “So you’re not really confused, right?” She hesitated, and he looked at me and said, “Do you think she is confused?” (What a horrible situation to put me in, to ask in front of her, but there really is no other chance to discuss it.) I told him that I thought she was (about some things.) He then proceeded to run one of his mini-mental status tests. (He had given her one before, and so had her diabetes specialist.) At any rate, he drew the face of a clock, handed her the paper, and then said, “I want you to make this clock say the time I tell you, so that anyone in the waiting room would look, and know what time it is.” (Part of me was praying that he wouldn’t say 10 till 2.) That is what she missed when he tested her last time. (And part of me wanted him to say it, because then he would realize how confused she was at times.) As I held my breath he said, “Okay let’s have you make it…um…10 till 2. Bingo-the challenge was on.

There is no way that I can explain to you the sadness of watching your mom try to draw the right time on a clock. As I said before, she is a very smart lady, and has worked for high ranking officers at the military base in our town. Everywhere she worked as a secretary, she was admired and complimented greatly. But now she cannot draw a clock face. Watching her struggle was heartbreaking. She just couldn’t do it.

My parents had the same doctor for years, but right when my dad was dying in the hospital, he retired. (Bad timing.) At any rate, we had to get another doctor for my mom, and we had heard that this doctor was wonderful. Wonderful and brilliant he may be, but his bedside manner is lacking. At any rate, I felt myself smirk a little inside, when he was forced to say, “Okay–so you are having a little bit of a problem.”

Then it was on to the examining table. He had her hold out her hands, and he flipped his hands from one side to the other, and then asked her to do the same. She made it look more like a game of patty cake, and ended up clapping her hands on one part of it. Then she laughed so cutely-(but I know it was from embarrassment.) She would certainly worry about this later, I knew. A few more tests of coordination,(touch her nose, and then touch his finger) went pretty well. She was on Aricept for a short while, but it caused horrible side effects, and now she is on another drug. She is slowly building up the dosage, watching for more side effects. He said that there was another drug generally used with the new one. It was a patch to be worn daily. (More meds…) He gave her a sample box.

He ordered a liver scan, and a MRI brain scan. We went to the X-ray department to fill out the forms. (Another big challenge for both of us, because I have to get some of the information from her.) She was to bring a list of her medications, and one of all her surgeries on the day of the MRI. I’m not kidding you, when I say that we need a secretary. So much paperwork constantly.

What I am noticing at home is that she doesn’t feel like cleaning the house properly. (She used to have everything smelling sweet and clean.) I have asked her repeatedly to let us get some help for her in that department, but she refuses. I have tried to do a lot myself, but I cannot do all that I need to do with her, and my own house and family, and do all her daily housework also. (She doesn’t want me to, though I try to do as much as I can.) She does get her laundry done. She has always taken pride in the way she does her laundry, and the way she folds it. Eventually she gets her dishes done. She is very good about keeping herself bathed and presentable, so that’s the most important.

I say all these things to let you know, that there are issues that come up continuously when you are a caregiver, with an aging parent. You are hesitant to address some of them, for fear of hurting the person’s feelings, and yet you are worried about the situations.

One night she actually went to the door at 9 p.m. and a young man she had known when he was little, (but isn’t anymore) was there asking for money. She told him to stay there, and she would be back. He had walked a little ways down her hall when she came back. She gave him $10.00. She told me she was scared. She said she wasn’t telling me to worry me, but that she wanted me to know. I calmly tried to tell her to not ever open the door, unless she knew that a certain person was coming, and had told her so in advance. Then I said, we (family) will always call, or call out to you. Anyone else can go away and call, if they really need to reach you. She agreed about the nighttime visitors, but still insists on going to the door in the daytime. (We all know that no one is safe just because it is daytime anymore, but once again, she is stubborn, and insists on answering the door when it’s daylight.) I told her that when my daughter was little, I taught her to be very quiet when the doorbell rang, so that no one would know we were home. I never answered the door unless I knew a certain person was coming. It’s not safe to just open the door anymore. (Recently, there was a home invasion in our neighborhood. People answered the door at about 3:00 a.m., and the intruders pushed right in, and tied up a lady and her grown son, and robbed them. But there have been robberies in our town in the middle of the day as well.

Okay, so I know you’re tired of reading this. I use my blog as therapy sometimes. It’s a way to write out all my frustrations.

I love my mom so very much, but I hope that when I am older, I will not be so stubborn. She fights against so many things, and it leaves me feeling totally helpless. I am worried about the future, and how much longer she can live alone, and I am worried about whether I can care for her properly at my house, as time goes on. I guess it depends on how feeble she gets, and how her mind is. She definitely has a mind of her own about so many things.

I guess that I am sad that she has to get old and frail. I worry so much that I make myself sick. I stay up at night, trying to get my mind off of the way things are going, and all my concerns about her. I am so bonded with her now, because I have cared for her for the past 2 years, and we have been a team. I expect a lot of myself-too much really. The stress of her physical, and now declining mental state, has left me horrified. I think of all the people who deal with this daily, and I think of children dealing with parents with Alzheimer’s, and I wonder how they do it. I have watched several documentaries about it, and there is very little that is sadder.

There are many types of dementia, other than Alzheimer’s, and none of them are pretty. I find myself trying to minimize to my mom what I am seeing, because I know that she knows a lot of it, and is very worried about where it might lead.

I try to give all this to God, but sometimes I get mad. I get mad because my dad died, and he was supposed to be here to help her through old age. I get mad because my nervous system is whacked, and I can never relax. I get mad because life is so difficult right now, and I feel on the verge of collapse. (But I never get mad at her-not where she would know.) God has given me incredible gentleness and compassion for her, and a great love as well. We have not always been this close, but this was something good that came out of my father’s death, and that was that we became closer, and many things have mended between us, just because of our closeness now.

I know that I cannot give her immortality. (I learned this in counseling.) I also know that I cannot make her happy. (Another great jewel from counseling.) I know it in my head, but it just hasn’t reached my heart yet. I want to cry a lot of times, but lately I rarely do. I guess it takes too much energy that I don’t have.

I do have a brother. He has lunch with my mom every day that he works, and he does the grocery shopping, because I had a torn rotator cuff that has left my arm very weakened. But she and I do a fair amount of grocery shopping ourselves. There is always butter, milk, eggs, bread, etc., that is needed. So we supplement his larger trips. Other than the groceries, and a few handyman jobs, I do feel the greatest burden of her care is definitely on me. I don’t mind that, (I love her greatly) but I am just beginning to feel the extreme pressure of it all, and more than that, am worried about where it goes from here.

My greatest self discipline will be to take it one day at a time. I cannot solve next week’s problems, or next year’s. So I must live in the present, and deal with today’s problems, trusting that God will give me the grace I need to face the rest. Whenever I am down, He will always raise me up…

Isn’t it funny that even though people can drive us crazy, we all need someone-anyone to listen and understand. We live in a world where most everyone is so into themselves, that few ever take time to care about someone else. Probably many affairs could have been prevented, if husbands and wives would just listen to, and support each other. So many friendships are one-sided-(one person wants to lean exclusively on the other, without giving back anything in return.) Parents don’t listen to children, and children surely don’t listen to parents. And so we find ourselves writing a check to have someone listen to us. (And sometimes it’s worth every penny.) LOL!  I have found counseling to be quite a bit like writing a blog. Somedays there’s no big revelation-you’re just talking. But there are those days-that make all the rest worthwhile. It may be one small jewel-a thought that awakens your understanding, or a complexity made simple, that sets you free. And you know that something significant occurred, and you learned more about yourself, and answered some of the “whys”. And maybe even learned how to cope with life a little better. You have to go through a lot of “so-so” sessions sometimes, to get to the breakthroughs. God bless good counselors, who aren’t just in it for the money.
But often I think, if we just had the support of our friends, our church, our spouses, our families, we wouldn’t have to feel so desperate. Yes, I know counselors have training that our friends and family don’t have, but many times all we really need is someone to listen, and tell us that everything will be okay. Right? (And give us a hug.) 🙂
Do you ever wonder what the future holds? I bet if we could know, we wouldn’t want to. How scary would it be to actually know what was going to happen? When you were going to die? Or when someone close to you would? No, it’s better not to know what lies ahead. (Though we do all know the ultimate end-just not the circumstances, place or time.) Life is terminal, and we shouldn’t forget that. No one gets out alive, as they say, and the Bible says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” It takes wisdom to understand the brevity of life, the preciousness of life, the potential of life, and the gift of life. Knowing these things causes us not to take life, or people for granted. 
As to our futures playing out, I think the answer is to just remain open. I have found that life brings you its treasures, most often, when you’re not even looking for them. Suddenly a dream is realized, or a desire fulfilled. You’re right in the middle of it at times, before you even know…

Today I want to direct you to an article I wrote about incandescent light bulbs being phased out. (Don’t panic yet; it will be awhile.) I can’t believe it, though. I’m all for energy conservation, but I HATE the way fluorescent bulbs look. Can you imagine them everywhere you have a lamp now? Or in a chandelier? There has to be a better way! How can the government just take away our light bulbs? What next? I’m going to give you the URL to the article, and I’d like to hear your comments. I know some of you might not care, but I have always liked to have little decorative lamps around the house, and I cannot imagine what all the lights will look like when I can’t use incandescent bulbs anymore. They say that the fluorescent lights make terrible reading lamps also! Pray that the scientists come up with something that at least resembles the old light bulb glow, or it’s going to be a very cold looking world! Here’s the URL:

I say, “Let there be light!” (Incandescent light, please!) At least we’ll still have candles…

It was an unusual day. It was my husband’s birthday, and we were celebrating by going to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. A very strange name, but a very nice place to eat. The kind with white tablecloths, candles, and waiters in black and white outfits. We live in one city, and were driving just over the bridge, to the next city. My car had been in the shop for some body work prior to Christmas. A tire had come apart (with me driving it), and the core of the tire hit the body of the car each time it went around, and left a bit of damage. So it was being fixed, and I borrowed my mom’s car. It was my dad’s car, but he died. (Try to follow this, now-it may get a little complicated. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) While it is my mom’s car, she can’t drive it. She has too many medical things going on, and she is on some heavy meds for rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia, etc.  She is also an insulin dependent diabetic, who sometimes gets low blood sugar without warning. She goes completely crazy (out of it) at these times.

She has threatened from time to time to try and drive the car, and I am scared to think she would, in her present medical condition. But so far, she hasn’t attempted it, even though I know that not being able to drive, has been a terrible loss to her.

Anyway, when I got my car out of the shop, I was still driving hers for awhile. You know how it goes. You move into the car you’re driving, and all your things are in there, and you just get settled, and it’s hard to make the switch. My car is much nicer than hers, but I was so busy during Christmas, that I really didn’t make the switch back to my car. A couple of weeks (or less) ago, I finally did. I took hers back and parked it in her driveway.

As soon as I started driving my car again, the AC went out. I know it’s January, and it’s going to be about 20-something degrees here tonight. But we live in NW Florida, and in a day or so, it could be 70 degrees. So we took it to the mechanic. He couldn’t find a leak, so he put dye in the AC, so that if it leaked, he could look and tell where the leak was. So I drove it about a week.

Last night I was taking some vegetable soup and cornbread over to my mom’s house. I had a casserole dish in my hands, with some bowls of soup in it, and a pan with the cornbread. I opened the driver’s door to get in, and as I climbed in, (with the intention of putting the dishes in the passenger seat), the door started to swing closed. It hit the casserole just right (in the window) and actually cracked my window!!!! Can you believe it? GRRRRRR… As I was driving over there, I looked down at the gauges, and it said “Check Coolant Level”. Last time it said that, and “Check Refrigerant” or something like that. At any rate, I called my husband on my way home, to break the news to him about the window. He didn’t answer (thankfully), and so I left a message. What else could I do? (Grin.)

He returned my call, and said it was okay. He said it’s all just “things” and they’ll all pass away. Boy, do I like his attitude!!! At any rate, I said all that to give you the background for tonight’s adventure, and yes, it was pretty much all necessary. You’ll see…

So we are back to Saturday night, and Rob and I are headed to the restaurant, when he notices that the heat gauge is going up slowly. (I had already told him about the coolant warning.) We watched in horror as it inched past the halfway mark, and on up, up, up…There was no filling station on the highway, so we hurried to the next little town. Just as we saw a filling station, smoke started coming out from under the hood. We pulled in the parking lot. My husband is an attorney (brilliant, but not terribly mechanical.) My dad was one of those guys that could fix the world if it broke. (The adjustment has been difficult for me. LOL!) My husband could not get the cap off the place where the coolant goes, and by now you could hear it bubbling. I stuck my head out, and reminded him to be careful, because I had heard of a guy taking the cap off when his car overheated, and getting scalding water in his face. (He needed plastic surgery.) About this time, I noticed a guy right next to us, vacuuming out his van, and I’m wondering–what kind of person decides to vacuum his car out in this freezing weather? I looked at the roof of the van, and noticed it was a taxi! My husband had already asked the man for help getting the cap off, but the man reiterated what I said, about the engine being too hot to take the cap off, and that the car would need to cool down. I asked Rob if we could take a taxi to the restaurant. Then I asked the taxi driver if he was still working. He told us that he just got off a 12 hour shift, and was ready to call it a day, but that he would take us to the restaurant. (Okay, I’m sorry that took so long, because that part doesn’t have a lot to do with my story, but what can I say? LOL!)

So we got to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, a little flustered, and just a little late. We were dressed up, and the girl up front complimented me on the Sorrelli necklace I was wearing. (Another rabbit trail is necessary here. Hey, you trust me, don’t you?)

Sorrelli makes beautiful necklaces with crystals and precious stones. My daughter first told me about them, and at the time, I told her that they cost too much for a teenager. She said that I simply had to see them, and that they were heirloom pieces that you could pass on. I have never been an expensive jewelry person, and these were a little over a hundred dollars each. I thought it was just another of her materialistic whims. But then I actually saw one. I was in the hairdresser’s, and this lady had the most beautiful necklace on that I had ever seen. I told her it was lovely, and she said, “Do you know about these necklaces?” I answered, “No.”  She replied, “It’s a Sorrelli.” I told her that my daughter had mentioned them, but that I thought they were too expensive, however, I had to admit it was absolutely gorgeous.

Soon after that, my daughter’s boyfriend (at the time) gave her the White Bridal Sorrelli necklace. (Yes, the different colors acutally have names.) She hinted around that it was her heart’s desire, and she got it from him for her birthday. It was breathtaking. She kept trying to talk her dad into getting me one, and I kept trying to talk him out of it.

At any rate, he got me two for Christmas.  (I had a very difficult year.) They were both called “Happy Birthday.” Very pretty. Well, as time went on, I began to check them out on Ebay, and I set a price range that I would spend. Believe it or not, I could usually get the bracelets that matched the necklaces for about $45.00 plus shipping. The necklaces were often over $200.00 as listed, but I wouldn’t pay much over $100.00 plus tax. So I got a couple eventually. Captain and Teal, and another one-the most beautiful one I have ever seen! Truly-it was called “Looking Glass.”

Rob gave me a Sorrelli necklace here and there for gifts-Birthday, Christmas, Anniversary, etc. I guess the next prettiest one I have is “Spring Rain.” (Now I guess you know more than you ever wanted to know about Sorrelli jewelry.) But hang on, cause now it gets good! 🙂

Remember, back at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, the girl in the front complimented me on my necklace. Then, as the hostess (another lady), took us to our table, she said, “What a beautiful Sorrelli necklace.”

I was really surprised by all this attention. I was wearing a velvet-look mock turtleneck, and a knit jacket and skirt, so I guess the crystals were really sparkling. She mentioned that she had always wanted one, but wasn’t sure which one to get. I told her that this was my favorite, Looking Glass, and that Spring Rain was also beautiful. We talked about the shop in a little town nearby, that has good prices on them, and then she went her way.

I went to wash my hands, and the other girl, up front, again started talking about Sorrelli jewelry. (This is so funny because I have never been remotely interested in any kind of jewelry before now.) Everything I own is costume jewelry, and until recently, I only wore a few pretty pins on my jackets now and then, and some earrings. The hostess (the lady we had talked with at the table, was older than the younger girls who usually have that job.) She came up in time to hear me say that my husband and I had figured out, that the ones that were the most beautiful were the necklaces with mostly crystals, and just a few small stones, like the one I was wearing.  The crystals gave it the sparkle, but most of the Sorrelli necklaces have an even mixture of crystals and stones.

So then we had a lovely dinner. After the dessert, my husband, (referring to the hostess lady), said, “Didn’t she say she would really love to have a Sorrelli necklace?” I answered, “Yes, and it makes you wish you could just buy her one, doesn’t it?” And he said, without even thinking, “Or give her the one you’re wearing.”

(My eyes probably betrayed me, as I thought about how this was the only one I really, really adored.) Whenever we went out somewhere nice, it was the one I always chose. Sorrelli has many different designs in each type (color) of necklace, and I had never seen another one like this one. It was in rainbow colors, with a round clear crystal, and then a rainbow colored flower-shaped crystal and so on…

(I guess another word of explanation is needed here, and if  you have possibly made it this far, then I guess you’ll understand.) We are Christians, and we try to stay sensitive to what God might be telling us to do. My husband has several times given money to strangers because he felt the Lord wanted him to, and sometimes I have given things away that I felt God told me to. It doesn’t happen all that often-just occasionally. I have taught in past years at ladies’ conferences and Bible studies, and one of the things I sometimes stress is that we should be ready, at any time, to part with something if the Lord asks us to. (It’s all His anyway.) I have always maintained that it’s okay to have things, as long as they don’t have you.

At this moment I looked at my husband and said, “Do you think it’s God for me to give this to her, because if you do, I will.” He said he wasn’t sure, and he knew how much it meant to me. I shared with him that it would be really nice for the lady to get it, and that might be what God was doing. Or he might be dealing with me-testing my heart, to see if I really mean the things that I teach. My husband seemed to feel bad that he had suggested it, and somewhat tried to talk me out of it, but the longer I sat there, the more I knew that I would never enjoy wearing that necklace again, if I was supposed to give it to the lady. So I went up front and said, “I don’t know if you’re a Christian or not, but I am, and I feel like God told me to give you this necklace.” I placed it in her hands, and she wouldn’t take it. She said, “No, no, no”…But I insisted, and gave her hug. As I was leaving later, she came and hugged me again, and said I was very generous. I told her, “Now all the girls here will be gathering around you, to look at that pretty necklace.” And we left.

As we were driving home, after we added water to the car, my husband said that he felt like God would give me another one. But honestly, while there are plenty of Sorrelli Looking Glass necklaces, I’ve never seen one in that pattern or one that sparkled so much. So we’ll see…

At any rate, lest you think I’m bragging or a saint, I just wanted to share with you, that I did not find that easy to do. Oh yes, in the moment it was fun, but I knew later that I would miss that necklace. I told my husband that if I really struggled to let go of something, then I knew that it had me, instead of me having it. And I really struggled with that one. The worst part was when my husband had gone on to bed, and I looked on Ebay and several other sites, and saw that there were no necklaces like mine. (I actually started to grieve for that necklace.) And I realised that the lady was just a small part of what God had asked me to do. It was about her just a little, but it was about me a lot more!

So today, I feel peace about it. Not to say that I won’t miss it again some time. And probably when it’s not important to me at all, God will give me another one, or something even prettier. (He’s like that.) But this was about me, and what I was willing to give up, and maybe just to show me, that I am attached to things, more than I thought I was. (So I hope I passed the test.) I’m sure there will be more tests like that. God only gives us what He can trust us with, and I believe He blesses us, so that we, in turn, can bless others. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. And even if we were wrong, and God wasn’t saying to give her my necklace, I’d rather be wrong, and give up the necklace, than not to obey. These are heart issues that we all struggle with, but they are also windows into our soul, our character, and our priorities in life. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also…”

Okay, so I have this problem. I have always been a night owl-stayed up late-(midnight to 2.a.m.) But since my step-dad (since I was 7) died, and I became the primary caregiver for my mom, I now have a sleep disorder. I stay up late-often all night-until I literally can’t stay awake anymore. Right now I am a freelance writer, so I write a lot at night when the house is quiet. That part is nice-but not going to bed has become pathological. I have to change this around. I have to get more discipline in my life, so that I can feel better, and be healthy, not just physically, but emotionally. Sleep really affects your emotions, or should I say “lack of sleep.”

I try to figure out WHY I stay up, and I think it is an escape. An escape from stress, and all the problems of life. Loneliness, depression, anxiety, and fear sometime overtake me. Then again, I want to get away from everyone, and everything at times. I feel too much responsibility for my mom. I feel I have to keep her happy and alive. (I don’t have that power, do I? Only God does.) But sometimes I forget.

I have had many years of stress from my daughter, who is now 19. So much drama and chaos. That went on for 15 years. She has now moved out, but the drama continues. My nervous system may never be the same.

When I don’t keep regular sleep hours, everything suffers. I don’t get my housework done, I can’t get out that much, I run behind on meal times, and I don’t take care of myself properly. Things like getting medications on time, fall by the wayside. It is a horrible cycle of never being able to catch up. So tonight, it is almost 1:30 a.m., and I am going to bed. (Early for me.) I hope that tomorrow I will feel better and brighter because of it. Sweet dreams everyone!

Don’t have much to share right now. Just that I experienced a disappointment today. And it got me thinking about how that can affect a person emotionally. It seems like things can be going along just fine, and then (wham) everything changes, and you feel like the rug was pulled out from under you. Why does life have to be like that? Why is there so much greed in the world, and so many self-serving people? Why does living have to be such a roller coaster all the time? Couldn’t it just be a smooth road for more than a few days? (I guess not.) Life seems to be full of change. It’s like someone enjoys stirring things up-just to watch the tornado it creates.

I wonder if there really is any such thing as a peaceful life? They say if you are a Christian (I am), no matter what happens, you can have peace. But I don’t. (Just can’t seem to find that bubble to live in.)

Sometimes when I’m disappointed, it is just like someone took a knife to my heart. I physically ache with pain, and feel sick to my stomach. Lately, I seem to feel a great deal of frustration about so many things. (It leaves you feeling hopeless, when you think you have no power to change things. And when you’re hopeless, you’ve lost your spark.)

It’s obvious to me that there is evil in this world. And it seems to always be battling the good. Evil hates good, and will try to annihilate it. It’s almost like we’re not allowed to be happy for very long, without some kind of dark attack that tries to steal our joy. (Or our hope.)

I guess there are days when we let the thief win, and I’m sure that evil smiles a toothy satanic grin. But there will always be tomorrow. And after  some sleep, and time away from the problem, things will look different. And that remarkable resilience that each of us has, will find its way back to the surface, and we will regain the strength to continue, and even to fight back. And the way we overcome evil is with good…

I love to read, and even though we have couches and such, we don’t have a chair that’s really right for reading. So usually I have to sit up in bed and read that way. That’s okay sometimes, but I have always wanted a chair that I could get snuggly in. I didn’t really have room for a recliner, so I kind of just gave up. Until…I was in T.J. Max the other night, and I saw this chair. It was sort of a light chocolate color and it had a matching hassock. I had enough money from the writing I’ve done lately, to buy both the chair and the hassock. My husband was with me that night, and we have a van, and we were able to get the chair in the back. (I think he sincerely doubted that I would be able to get the chair in the bedroom.) We have a king sized bed in there, a love-seat, and a small standing fireplace-not to mention two bedside tables, a dresser, and a large screen TV. (Okay, I get his point; it did look doubtful, but you know what they say. Where’s there’s a will…there’s a way.) I had an idea in the back of my mind, and I wasn’t sure it would work either, but I didn’t tell him that.

So together we huffed and puffed up the steps. (Yes, the bedroom where the chair was going was on the second floor.) He’s tall, and I’m short, and I have had a torn rotator cuff recently, so I have to be careful lifting things, but I was really motivated.

Well, we got it through the first door very well, sort of. Then he began to say that he didn’t think it would go through the bedroom door. Now why do they make things that won’t go through doors? Then he had an idea. Let’s take the legs off! Before you scream, these were twist type oval shaped legs that just screwed right off. (Good thing too!) Because, it was not our finest moment as we struggled and squeezed through that door, grimacing at each other, but…we made it!

Then I asked to be left alone. (Grin.) I didn’t want him to see my embarrassment if my plan didn’t work, and it didn’t fit. So off he went to take his shower. I proceeded to tear the room apart. (No, not really.) I had an oval table with a Victorian tablecloth and a shawl over it, and on either side was an ice cream parlor type chair made of white wrought iron. I shifted the table to a little nook by my dresser. I took the bench that was there already and moved it out to… (well, I’m not really sure yet where that’s going.) I put the ice cream chairs on either side of the fireplace, and I drug the chair and the hassock into that area, and kind of angled it towards the TV. I had a floor lamp near the love-seat, and I moved it behind the chair. (I had seen this arrangement at a motel I stayed at recently, and much to my amazement, (actually I had faith all the time…it fit!!!!) I ran to the living room, and got a fabulous throw with crystal beads hanging from it, and a matching pillow off my couch, and put them strategically across the chair, and it was perfect! Okay, not exactly perfect. If I want to get into the doors of my bedside table, I will have to shift the chair, and if I want to get into the bed, I will have to shift the hassock, but it’s close enough to perfect for me. I have a chair to read in-to write in-and to watch TV in. It’s going to be all mine. (My husband said so.) And I love it!!! For 2 nights, I’ve enjoyed watching TV in it, but I haven’t had a chance to read yet. I know it will be splendid though! Can’t you just see me with the little fireplace blazing on the other side of the room, a cup of hot chocolate, or warm tea, a velvet throw over my legs, and a really great book? I can’t wait! Now that’s the life, or as my daughter used to say when she was little, “Ahh…This is a day in the life!”…

My husband told me tonight that there had been a home invasion in our small neighborhood yesterday, just a few blocks away from us. Generally our neighborhood is very safe, but we had another robbery, not so long ago, on our own street, in the middle of the day, while the neighbors on either side were home.

The one yesterday started with a knock on the door at 2:30 a.m., and apparently the people opened the door, and the invaders pushed their way in with weapons.  (Never open the door to strangers, or anyone, if you aren’t expecting them these days.) They duct-taped a woman and her adult (I think) son, while they proceeded to rob them of their valuables. Amazingly, the two were not harmed, but they were very shaken, even the next day. (Can you blame them?) They have not yet caught the guys (a white guy and two black men.) Chances are they probably won’t either.

Once our home (the same one we live in now) was burglarized. It was quite a few years ago, and apparently they got in through an open window, in what’s considered my husband’s back room. I had come home around 5:00 p.m. (still daylight), and noticed a music stand turned over in our family room. I calmly picked it back up. It didn’t really set off any warnings at the time. I then called my husband, and arranged to meet him somewhere for dinner, and left the house. When we came home that night, I went upstairs and walked into the bedroom. It took a moment for me to comprehend what I was actually seeing. All the dresser drawers were pulled open, and the cabinet doors to the bedside tables were standing open also. I ran from the room screaming to my husband, “We’ve been robbed.” We called the police, and they seemed to think it was teenagers, because of the things they took. They walked right past more expensive things like VCR recorders and cameras, etc., and instead went to my jewelry box, and our boom boxes. (I think they may have been disappointed greatly. Almost all of it was costume jewelry, and I found one true gold chain thrown down, and left behind. Go figure.) Anyway, I didn’t relish losing all my earrings, necklaces, and our boom boxes, etc., but that wasn’t really the worst part about it. It wasn’t so much the things we lost, as it was the feeling of being violated. Someone was in our home. Someone had gone through our things, and someone knew where we lived, and how to get in.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the police said that they thought the robbers might have been hiding in the house, when I came home. Did you get that? They were probably in the house. We found a Swavorski paperweight thrown on the floor by a bed, in the room next to the family room, where I had made the phone call, and picked up the music stand. It looked as if someone had intended to take it, but then was startled and threw it to the ground, and perhaps hid. Anyway, to think they may have been there when I walked in is scary.

Someday I will tell you something that affected me much more in the way of fear, but that’s for another day.

At any rate, I am usually sleeping when my husband goes to work, and we are going to make sure that the burglar alarm is on when he leaves, and also at night. I guess a lot of people get somewhat complacent with that. It makes me mad that people have to terrorize others, and break into their homes, which should be a sanctuary from the world. We are living in horrendous times. People will kill their mothers for a dollar to get drugs. So many treat life as less than nothing. They think  absolutely nothing of killing someone, and they don’t seem to exhibit any remorse.

As women, it seems that we can’t even live a normal life now. We can’t even walk to our car in a mall parking lot without being on edge, we can’t go walking or jogging alone anymore, and it seems we aren’t even safe in our own homes. So many of our freedoms are being taken from us. We should be free to enjoy life, without always looking over our shoulder, worrying that somebody is going to harm us. But sadly, that’s the kind of world we live in now…

Lonnette Harrell

Tonight I was doing some research on my article, that I plan to write for Associated Content about the elderly living and dying alone. What I read was so sad, that it had me in tears. Caring for my mom has made me more aware of the plight of the elderly, and how important it is to have an advocate.

Many elderly people in cities, live alone, with their windows sealed or nailed shut because they are so afraid of crime-afraid that someone will break in, and they will be defenseless. So many are poor and sick, hardly able to care for themselves, with no family or friends, and often dealing with some level of confusion or dementia. When the elderly die, they usually die alone, just as they have lived in their later years. Sometimes they die at home alone, and sometimes they die in hospitals, or nursing homes. It is such a tragic end for a person who has given so much of their lifetime to others, and yet, when it is their time to depart, there is no one to be there for them. Many times their bodies are not discovered for a long time, because no one cares, or notices that they are missing.

They are sometimes referred to as “elder orphans.” It is estimated, by Kenneth W. Wachter, Ph. D., Chair of the Department of Demography, at the University of California at Berkeley, that “the number of Americans between the ages of 70 and 85, without a living spouse, without any biological or stepchildren, and without living siblings or half-siblings, will total more than 2 million people by the year 2030.” It is an increasing problem as the Baby Boomers age, due to their low birth rate, and their longer lifespan. After age 80, Alzheimer’s  disease increases to between 22% and 40%. This cognitive impairment, leads to the elderly without family, being unable to care for themselves properly.

There is so much isolation in today’s society. In a 2004 issue of Geriatric Times, Bruce G. Rosenthal, of the American Homes and Services for the Aging, commented, “As many as 60% of nursing home residents have no regular visitors.” In times past, the elderly were part of an extended family, with children or grandchildren nearby, who would assist them in their later years. But with families living all over the globe, there is often not a relative close by, or more often, one who is willing to take on the burden of an aging parent. Many older people express a desire to remain independent for as long as possible, so that they can continue with their daily living patterns, and retain their privacy and dignity. But the ravages of aging often prevent them from being well enough to live alone.

The death of a spouse can bring on a feeling of helplessness and overwhelming loneliness. Some elderly widow or widowers depended on their loved one to be their caregiver, and to do many of the daily tasks of living. They are left, not knowing how to manage on their own, due to sickness and frailty.

Many older people have experienced multiple bereavements as well. Those with dementia or cognitive impairment can’t manage the grief process as a healthy person would. They may even forget their loved ones are gone, and wake up each day searching for them. Even for the elderly with good mental function, often clinical depression sets in, and there is insomnia, weight loss, poor nutrition, and withdrawal. They don’t usually ask for help, or reach out to others.

It makes me angry that older people are in such horrible situations. All my life, I have loved the elderly. Perhaps it is because I was raised by by grandparents (alongside my mom) until I was 7. But now that I am caring for my mom, who is widowed, aging, and very ill, I can’t imagine her having to face her situation alone. And I wonder how many people there are like her, or even worse off , who are lonely and have no one…

Tonight I soaked in a warm bath, by candlelight, with a cup of tea, and enjoyed a simple pleasure. In this busy world, we don’t even take time for baths anymore. We just jump in the shower at the speed of lightning, and jump out. The crazy pace of this world has kept us from enjoying the small things in life, that can make it so enjoyable.

Sometimes on Friday evenings, my husband and I will go out to eat at Olive Garden, and then go to the bookstore. They have four big comfy chairs, and if we are fortunate enough to grab 2 of them, we get nice and cozy, and read for awhile. Sometimes we’ll get a cold drink, or some coffee and a dessert. It is so much fun! It’s relaxing, and doesn’t require a lot of effort for a Friday night at the end of the week, when we are both exhausted.

I wonder how many of life’s pleasures we all miss out on, and instead just beat ourselves to death with the necessary work of living.

In the spring and summer, I like to go on picnics.  Not long ago, I took my mom to a lakeside park, that had easy access from the parking lot. I chose a pretty tablecloth, and had a beautiful hand painted white picnic basket, and a cooler. We were able to enjoy our meal, and watch the ducks go swimming by, and the squirrels playing in the grass. Our lives are so busy with errands and doctor’s appointments and such. How nice it was to take time for enjoyment. It doesn’t have to be expensive. So much can be done without great expense. 

I have even ordered some of the older wooden bed trays off of Ebay, so that I can eat a meal in bed if I choose, or tilt the top for reading. Such a fun indulgence. Most of the older trays have an adjustable top that can be placed at different angles.

Often I will light scented candles. It’s difficult to beat Yankee candles for fragrance, but I have found some others that smell good also. Buy your favorite scent-peppermint cocoa, sugar cookie, chocolate chip, lemon, cherry or strawberry. It makes the house smell so nice.

I like to buy myself a grocery store bouquet once in awhile. As women, we tend to think a man has to give us flowers. But with most every grocery store carrying them these days, buy yourself some as a treat. They aren’t so expensive like the florists. Sometimes I will buy one or two bouquets, and divide them up, and place the flowers in different places throughout the house, like the foyer, kitchen counter, bedroom, etc. It’s another simple way to enjoy beauty.

Light a fire, or use the fire logs you can buy at most discount stores these days. They are easier than stoking a fire, and they last for a couple of hours. A fire is so cozy on a cold night. When my husband and I go to the North Carolina mountains, we love to sit by the fire and read. (And sometimes kiss.) Grin…

Eat on your good china once in awhile. What are you saving it for anyway? No one is more deserving of pretty dishes than you and your family. It suddenly hit me one day, that I am 55 years old, and my daughter will probably want her own pattern of china. I have Old Country Roses, and didn’t start collecting it until several years ago. Why not enjoy it? I decorate with it also-not just in the china cabinet, but on the mantel and tables. Another thing I have always loved to do is to buy 2 matching china dishes in a thrift store. It’s like having lots of different dishes, and the variety is really nice. In second hand stores, you usually don’t find a whole set of most dishes, so this is a way to have lots of different looks for dinner settings, when it’s just you and your husband, or you and a friend.

Another fun thing is to use small round tables (or a card table) and a beautiful tablecloth, and make a dinner area in a different place in the house. You could make a romantic table for two in the bedroom, or family room. Sometimes I use an area of my living room away from my main dining table, which is too large for just two. Use a pretty tablecloth and candles, and it’s better than the fanciest restaurant. And don’t forget to eat outside when the weather is nice. Any porch or deck will do. You can also set up a fan nearby that will keep most of the bugs away.

Sometimes when you are cleaning or relaxing, put on some soothing piano music or a guitar instrumental. Or you might want to play one of those with the sound effects in the background-with rain falling, or a creek or the ocean. I really enjoy this. Sometimes it is good to just turn off the TV for awhile. You will be amazed at how peaceful the right instrumental music can be. (Stay away from classical orchestra music that is too busy, and instead choose something melodic and beautiful.)

Put your feet up for a little while, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with real whipped cream or marshmallows. This can be so comforting.

Here’s the link to an article I wrote with the same general idea. It’s called “Reducing Stress by Living Simply.” The link is:

Well, these are just a few ideas that may bring some simple pleasures into your life. Please comment if you have some additional suggestions. Life is too short for it to be all drudgery. We really need to slow down, and enjoy the simple things…