Monday, December 23, 2013

Unanswered questions

How in the world do you reply to the question:
Do you think I will die from prostate cancer or 'the' disease?

At night after Wheelie takes his sleeping meds, he will start to talk.
Until he peters out and falls asleep.

All day long he doesn't say a word, answers my questions with "yup" and "nope"

At night he wants/tries to tell me all about the movie he just watched.
His speech is becoming so difficult I can't understand 70% of it. As long as I catch a few words I usually can figure out what he's talking about. Most of the time however, I just nod and say uhhmmm...hoping I am reacting the correct way.

Sometimes he remembers and tells about things from his childhood. These are the precious moments to me.

We have been here for 20 days now. We are settling in fine. Everything has been put away, the house looks cozy.

I feel good here.

I have NO clue how Wheelie feels here. He doesn't care. It's almost like he's afraid to complain. Afraid I'll become angry and put him in a nursing home.

Not gonna happen.

He certainly isn't the man I married. but then I am not the woman he married either.
I am sure he misses the young thin cute Dutch girl.
I know he loves me dearly, and I love him too, despite the long years of ups and downs, disappointments, happiness

At this point though, I miss the togetherness, the interaction, the doing stuff together.

He wishes to be left alone. Just let me be, he says, I am just fine!

But I am not fine sometimes, I want an arm around me, a kiss in my neck, a few endearments whispered in my ear. A compliment, A wish to go and DO something he would like to do.
No, everything is up to me, whatever it is, it's OK with him.

Well, at least we never fight. We just bite our tongues.

We laugh sometimes.

We're safe, warm, and I realize we're so much better off than a lot of folks.

Still...I wish it would be different.

Is that OK to ask?


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Memories of Christmas long long ago

Mom and I used to go to midnight mass on Christmas eve.

That meant, going to bed at seven. Getting up again at eleven. It always felt like such an honor to be the first of us kids to see the decorations my parents put up that evening. The pine branches behind every picture on the wall, the tree all set up, the nativity all set up except for the baby Jesus. My father would design this grotto thing made out of stiff dark gray paper, and had little lights in it as well. I wish I had pictures of that.

There were red and white paper bells hanging on the lamp over the table. It smelled so green and delicious.

Shivering from lack of sleep and cold, Mom and I dressed quickly. Went on our way. Walking to church in the dark.
I clearly remember that long long mass. I believe there were three in a row we had to attend. One "High" mass and two "silent" masses
The church would be warm and light and full of people who had the true spirit of Christmas.
I would sit quietly listening in awe to the Men's chorus, loved all the candles that were lit. The life size Nativity in the back.

But the best of the best were those times when we came out of church and it would be snowing!

In those days there was no TV, at least not in our house, no meteorologists and radars to warn us about snow. Us kids didn't pay attention to the weather forecasts.
It always struck me as magical that right on Christmas eve the snow would start falling.

The streets at two or three in the early morning would be quiet. There were not many cars back then, and everyone except us catholics were asleep!

By the time we got home our Dad would be getting the boys ready to go to the 4 o'clock mass.
They got to listen to the Boy's choir, and only had to attend ONE Mass.

By the time they got back home Mom and I had the breakfast table ready. The good table cloth, the good china. Very festive with red ribbons and candles, much to the delight of my pyromaniac brothers.

There would be special Christmas bread, stollen, broodjes, extra fancy ham and cheese,

We took turn putting Baby Jesus in his little bed. Then we couldn't wait till daylight came, so we could go outside and play in the snow.

How things have changed.

And not really for the best in my opinion.

But those memories will never fade, thank God.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


Today is the second anniversary of my mother's death. As fast as the time seems to go sometimes, this day seems for some reason so long long ago.

Perhaps it's the fact that so much happened in two years. Perhaps it's the fact that I really left my mother 45 years ago when I decided to leave home and move to America. It gave us distance from each other. We drove each other nuts sometimes.
Friesland, April, 2011

Of course I miss her. She was a unique person. Crazy sense of humor. She was a terrific mom. She loved us kids, and took excellent care of us.
As the oldest she expected so much (too much) from me. I fought her tooth and nail. I wanted to be independent. I wanted to work, not go to school. She wanted me to finish high school. She wanted me to become a housewife like her. She taught me how to iron, how to peel potatoes,  how to dust, vacuum, polish the wooden furniture, polish those damn copper miniature doo-dats, the silver tea set. Argh.

Of course when I became a mother myself, I saw the reasons why she was that way. She wanted the best for me. Too bad we didn't agree on what was best for me.

I treated her ugly when I was in my teens. To the point where she was about to have a serious nervous breakdown, and my father begged me to be kind to her.

The distance apart was good for both of us. We wrote each other often. She wasn't aware of most of the bad times I had over the years. Oh she knew about the big boo-boos, but a lot of stuff she didn't have to endure.

It wasn't until the much later years that we were able to talk like grown ups with each other. She had become much more liberal in her thinking, more laid back. I became more sensible, saw her for the woman she was. A hard working wife and mom. Nothing was ever too much for her. She made our clothes, and we always looked great, modern and clean.

 I spent some quality time with her the week after papa died. I really didn't want to, but my sister insisted I stay at mom's apartment, instead of hers. So I slept on a cot behind the couch in the small living room for the whole week. We spent some quality time together talking about papa, about our upbringing, our lives. 
She became the crying child who needed comfort. I became the mother who would try and make her feel all better.

And so it happened that we both had closure.

I went back home one more time, to celebrate her 88th birthday. My sister and I took her to Friesland for a couple of days. I sensed that it was the last time we were going to physically spend together.
And  8 months later she died. On December 19.
I got the call while parking the car at Wal Mart. I sat in the car for a long time, just being still. I had talked with her the night before. We talked every day on the phone while she was sick, in and out of hospital, and finally those last couple of days
My son had the chance to talk to his Oma via Skype the day before she died. It was a miracle for her to see his face and hear his voice once more. I think she also gave him hell for treating me the way he had been the past couple of years.
She was that way. Didn't want any fighting, ugliness, problems among the family members, the brothers, sisters.

Today I smiled when I thought of her. I hear her voice in my head all the time. So we're good.

To think I was going to tell you about our day...ha!

After we finally managed to hook up the DVD player to the TV, and actually made it WORK, we decided to get our driver's license renewed. Wheelie needed to renew his ID card.
These days they are pretty anal about how it's done. You need two forms of ID, a valid passport, or a birth certificate. Your social security card. Two pieces of proof of residence.
I had it all. I am anal about keeping our records in one place, you see.:>)
So we got there, no line, just a couple dozen people sitting on chairs waiting their turn.
How long could this take?
After an hour I started to worry. But Wheelie was cool. He already pooped for the day (I take him nowhere unless he pooped) and he was feeling ok.
After asking him if he was ok a million times he told me to relax. So I did. Two hours later we were finally called. We had to go to two separate windows.
The folks at the DMV were kind and patient, so it went pretty well considering.

Until the guy who was helping Wheelie came over to my window and asked if I wanted the 5 year renewal for $20, or the 15 year renewal for $35.Little did he realize what he was asking.
It was an odd moment for me, knowing damn well he won't last another 5, let alone 15.
Sometimes I get these little realizations about the fact that we ARE in the end-of-life process, and once in a while it feels too real, and too scary.

We found out that the library was right next door to the DMV, but we were both hungry and we both needed to pee, so we went home.

It was a productive day.

Good for us!

Wheelie had leftover mac and cheese, and I had a small pizza!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Some Big Names have died

Peter O'Toole
Joan Fontaine
Ray Price

All great artists.

What can I say. These days I check the obits. These days I seem to buy more Sympathy Cards than Birthday Cards.

Today I took Wheelie for a drive. I wanted to pick up the mail at the 'old' place.

We drove by the 'old' place. No notices on the door, no lock boxes either. Guess the bank is taking it's time foreclosing on it.

The morning started with a frantic call from Bugs.  She was at work, all upset, because she was on the schedule to 'open and close' tomorrow, even though her boss knows she can't possibly work a shift like that. She is also without a car still. Has no babysitter for Bugs etc etc.

I have to back track for you how we got to this point.

Bankruptcy and all that.

For the past 6 years we have been Bugs' safety net. We bailed her out many many times. We paid for her car (the totalled one) we paid the late bills for utilities. And heavens knows we paid our share of baby food, diapers, toys. She always worked, but she received no child support, or any support from the other grandparents.

We were already pretty close to wrecking our credit because we were at all our credit card's limits.
We sold off most of our valuables over the last years. Our LP and CD collection, many other items. Just to keep ourselves afloat.
Now mind you, we never minded helping her out.
Until the shit hit the fan.

Earlier this year she was involved in a car accident. Some dude in a truck drove through a red light, turned right in front of her on a busy highway. She T boned him. Both cars totalled.
Skyla was upset because her happy meal went all over the place, but she was unharmed. At first we though Bugs was unharmed as well.

Until she finally got home. Home being a  new rental house she and a few friends just moved into.
Her hands were burned from the airbag explosion.
A friend took her to the ER. She had 3rd and 2nd degree burns on the top op her hands and wrists.
She needed skin grafts, pain med. Many burn doctor visits.

So no car, not being able to work, no money for rent.

We invited the girls to come and stay with us until things got better.
Well, that lasted a few months, until I got good and tired of it. Just too much stress. Boo in a new school here, Bugs dragging her butt getting things done. Their room looking like a tornado hit it.
And it started to cost us money. We were very frugal with what we ate. But with these two extra mouths to fill, PLUS the two kitties, who needed to be neutered and spayed, our reserves started to seriously dwindle.
We sold our last few Apple stock.

Then Bugs hooked up with a guy and they moved into their own apartment. Big mistake. The guy turned out to be a moron. So Bugs moved to a smaller apartment.
We bought her a bed, a washer an dryer. She was supposed to pay us back when she got her settlement.
In the meantime I played taxi cab, or shared the car when she needed it.

Come to find out the settlement seems to be in the wind. She has a lawyer, but evidently the insurance companies take their sweet time to pay out.
Bugs still dragging her butt going after it, and going after some kind of relief from the government, like food stamps.

One day I was about to pay my bills and I realized (I know,   stupid,  I was in denial )that there was no money left after I paid all the bills.

So I decided to look into what it would take to get out of this mess.
When I explained to the credit people (who were going to set up a pay system) that my husband was on Hospice and that when after he dies I won't be getting our pension anymore, she advised me strongly to contact an attorney.

Which I did.

The actual bankruptcy process was tedious but not too bad, as long as we did everything correctly and slowly.
Finding a new place to live was not bad either. We almost moved to Canton last year, when we tried to put our house on the market, and when Wheelie got pneumonia/bronchitis, and we decided to stay.

So here we are. Not having anymore debts, we are able to afford to live here for now. It's not cheap, but it covers an awful lot, plus a huge peace of mind.

As Wheelie just sits and lets everything roll over him, I took the brunt of all the physical and mental stress.

My salvation was a letter I received from my son. An amends letter. We hadn't spoken in years.  I never  gave up on him, but I cried for him every night.
And there he was, apologized, telling me he was sorry, that he wanted contact again, that he loved me. The phone calls followed. Hearing his voice again just lifted me. My little boy, a grown man now.

I don't think without that I could have made it through this year.

That and Prozac. Seriously!

And here we are, I feel better with the physical distance between Bugs and us. It easier to tell her to take care of her own problems, that I can't do stuff for her anymore. That I want to spend the time Wheelie and I have left just trying to resurrect our relationship. Provide a modicum of quality of life for him, and for myself as well.
We both deserve this respite. We worked hard all of our lives.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rain, Pain, Go Away!!!

A few months ago I was officially diagnosed with arthritis.
All over.
My hands, my back, both hips.
So after all the packing and moving and unpacking and running around I expected a few days of stiffness and soreness.
Well, let me tell ya. I have to constantly take Advil. My hands are on fire, my back and hips are killing me, even my ankles and feet hurt when I concentrate on them.
I try to ignore it all, I have too much to do. I can't afford to be disabled.

But...I have to make an appointment with the doctor, I know!
And I will.
Just have to find me one here in town. I am not going back to the fellow In C'ville. I got the feeling he could care less. I had to practically beg him to take X rays of my sore hips the last time I saw him. To receive a call from his nurse announcing I had bilateral arthritis in my hips. No suggestions, no follow up, nothing.

As Wheelie is becoming more dependent on my help, it is becoming clear that the help is going to be MINE.
For how the Hospice is sending us a CNA 3 times a week.
I'm going to need more, much more.

It's a bit frightening to think ahead. What if? What will happen if I can't do anything for him anymore? Will I be able to get enough and sufficient help?

And I guess that's where the sayings from Al-Anon comes in:

One Day At A Time!!!


Let It Go, Let God....

In the meantime we're loving this little home. It feels like we're on vacation.
Everything so convenient, so compact, so like "home"
And I mean, "home" as in Holland "home"

We are now becoming our parents. Living in a senior environment. The walker generation. The bingo groups.

99% of the people I meet are friendly and welcoming. The 1% I encountered must have some mental issues. Always a frown on her old face, bitching, mumbling to herself.

So far so good.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Out of the Old, into the New, and Santa Too

 Out of the old
 Into the new
 And Santa too

And here we are, twelve days later.
All the boxes have been unpacked. Most of the pictures have been hung. Most 'stuff' has found a place. The rest we stowed in closets and under beds.
Finally I feel I can relax. I feel happy and relieved to be here.
The neighbors are neighborly, they are friendly and say hello. They don't knock on your door out of curiosity.
The staff has been phenomenal. The two maintenance guys, John and Fred, will appear out of the blue at any and every request.
The apartment is small. too small for all out furniture. My red chair wouldn't even fit in the door after the mover guys delivered all the boxes. So I told them to take it and donate it.
The new coffee table is going to Bugs, as there is no room for that either.
I love the smallness, the low ceilings, the Dutch-like feeling I get here. Everything within reach in the kitchen.
Two plenty large bathrooms, one for me, one for Wheelie.
Nice new appliances, washer, dryer, stove, fridge, dishwasher.
New wall to wall carpet, tiles in the kitchen and the bathrooms.
Super strong showers.
We haven't had the heater on since we've been here, it's nice and warm inside,  even though it hovers around freezing outside.
The first nine days we had nothing but dreary rain. But low and behold, the day before yesterday the sun greeted us in the morning. All our windows are large and facing the street, AND the sun all day.
On Sunday the Lodge was having an Open House. A day full of events. We had Boo here and she loved watching the tap dancers, and loved being able to visit Santa.

The new Hospice gals are all black. They are competent and friendly and smart. We're still juggling their schedules a bit, but we're happy we're being taken care of.

We do miss our gals in Cartersville though. Amanda came to visit us and Jennifer called us today, promised to come and see us very soon.

I went back to the 'old' house one more time day before yesterday. I still had the vacuum cleaner there and I forgot to take the cereal. The only cabinet I didn't check.
Went and said goodbye to my dear neighbor friend. At 90-some she is still so chipper and interested and promised to keep in touch via email. I'll miss her middle of the night piano concerts, when she couldn't sleep and played little ditties on her baby grand. She didn't realize we could hear her, but I always treasured those little concerts.

Looking back I am amazed I did all this. First the bankruptcy, the dealing with all of that. Then the looking for a new place, then the organizing, the packing, the trips back and forth. The unpacking once we were here.

The girls came to set up the Christmas tree on Sunday. We were so happy it fit so nicely.

So here we are.

Ready for some true retiring.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Massage Therapist and I Are Going to be Best Friends!

Our new home
It's the 1st of December. The last Sunday here in Cartersville.
To say we are in a complete state of chaos is an understatement.
I keep plowing down my lists, and it's working. It's just SO MUCH DAMN WORK!!!

Today Boo and I took another load to the new apartment.
Just some stuff I can't pack for the movers, cleaning stuff and laundry detergent stuff...
She was happy to "help", push the buttons in the elevator, skip through the LONG hallways, insisting on seeing ALL the Christmas trees in the place. (Oma, only OLD people live here?)

She is getting so tall. 50". I measured her today for the last time on the wall in her old room. She is learning so much at school. She reads, she does math, and she is picking up some darn smart ass expressions.

On the way back I wanted to show her the Veterans Cemetery. It's a beautiful area, in the hills. So very quiet. (Wheelie: well, yeah, they're all dead!)
It's a very peaceful place, and I like to just stop there and reflect.
She liked it too, reading off the names on the gravestones, rearranging some of the flowers. (Why are these flower not real?)

Then quickly home again, in time to fix Wheelie his lunch and take care of his floating teeth :>)

The house looks empty. Most of the furniture gone. Bugs took the dining room table and chairs. One of my nurses is taking (buying) the fridge and my washer and dryer. Another nurse bought my queen size bed with all the trimmings. Another nurse bought one of my book cases.

The couch and the coffee table were gone a few weeks ago. The guy at Goodwill is starting to know me well.

We don't need a lot of things, the new home is small. We do have two bedrooms and two bathrooms however, with large closets. But not nearly the space we have here, no attic, no garage.

Not to worry, we've been through this before and we really don't mind saying goodbye to stuff.
That's all it is, after all, STUFF.

So we surround ourselves with the things we love and don't want to lose.
Ordered a smaller dining room set, a new TV stand, a twin bed for me (So we can still be together in one room)

Little by little this move is becoming a reality.

I figure, if I can empty a flooded sailboat with a dish towel, I can move a household by my lil ole self.

Tomorrow I will pack the last stuff, drop off the last batch of DVDs and books at the library here.
Say goodbye to our neighbors.

Can't believe we have been here almost 9 years!

Time flies,
People get old
We try and make the best of life


Friday, November 29, 2013

New Beginnings

Oh my, this blog thing has changed!
It has been a while since I have written.
So much has happened.
I will go into the stuff about the past year another time. This time I just wanted to share a dream I had last night.

I have been having some amazing dreams every night for the past year or so.  I blame my dreaming on the fact that I usually don't get to the deep sleep stage, as I have to get up a few times during the night to turn Wheelie over on this side or that side, or to untangle his legs, or cover him up. So I sleep lightly in the sleep that produces most vivid dreams.Most of the time I can't remember them after I wake up but I always know that they were very weird/interesting...

Last night I was late picking up Boo from school. I had completely forgotten about it. It was snowing. I had no clue where school was. As a matter of fact, as usual, I found myself in a completely strange town.
No one wanted to help me. I kept driving my car until I found a street with a few stores.
One store had a window that slid open like the drive through at McDonalds. A young lady asked me if she could help. I told her I was looking for this school. She tried helping me, but couldn't. Her computer was down. So I kept on driving around in circles.
Until I came around a corner and ran into my Mom. And right next to her was my Dad. He didn't say anything, but he was bigger than life, and he just stood there and smiled at me. My Mom had a big bag with sandwiches, and a package of rookvlees. I was so relieved. Even though not a word was spoken, I felt safe and I felt as if my Dad was letting me know that things would be okay.
He was so familiar, with his old gray pants and his beige zippered cotton jacket.
I woke up making sure to remember all this by not opening my eyes, but trying to recall the dream.
 As I sat on the stool putting on Wheelie's socks and shoes, I was telling him about my dream, and I just burst out in tears. I clearly realized that my vision of my parents, especially my Dad, was a message from them.

They know I have been overwhelmed trying to get through the past year. Especially having to manage the bankruptcy all by myself, the move, the organizing of everything.

But even though my back went out last Sunday, and having to take it easy for a few days, I am still pretty much on track with the packing and all the crap that involves moving.

They are still around, and I feel pretty darn thankful for that.