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I Know I Said The End….

19 Sep

But there really isn’t an end. Even though I can’t go home again, there is still Grandma.

She is fine and well in her new home, but we have run into several roadblocks in her new situation. She broke her other hip July 4th and had surgery for it, but for some reason has managed to dislocate it four times since having it replaced.

I have been awakened at 3am, 4am, 5am, and 9pm with the news from the nursing home. I have met her at the hospital each time and it is driving me insane. I know it is much worse for her than it is for me, having her hip repeatedly relocated, but it’s been no fun-fest on the receiving end of the emergency calls.

Grandma is 90 years old. The surgeon wants to do another surgery on her to re-seat the ball socket in her hip. I fear that she won’t survive surgery and there is a part of me that just wants it to end for her.

These are very difficult words to write, but you must understand, I never meant for her to suffer. I never meant for her to be cared for by strangers. I never meant to make the wrong decisions. I wanted her to be with me for all of the rest of her days. I wanted to make her damned breakfast, dole out her damned pills, do her damn hair and be able to bitch about it light-heartedly. I wanted her to have her dog, spoil my vacations, talk incessantly about birds and whether or not her Topsy Turvy tomatoes were growing…I wanted her. Here.

And now she’s not.

No one can care for her like I can, or rather, like Jamie and I could. She is bed-ridden, suffering with pressure ulcers and awaiting yet another hip surgery. The people who care for her care for her in the very best way that they can, but they are not us, her Grand-children, and I cannot reconcile this.

I feel unbearable guilt and incredible remorse. What if I had stayed home that 4th of July? Instead of selfishly going to a pool party for a few hours? Would she still be here with me? Was this avoidable? Did I forsake her for an afternoon of hot dogs and a swim?

Of course not. But it’s natural to ask. It’s normal to wonder.

She will have surgery again on Friday. We have no choice. To deny her surgery is to sign her death sentence. To sign the release for the surgery may be the same. I love her and want the best for her. I am lost in a sea of regret and remorse. I wanted her to have her last days here. Surrounded by us and everything familiar. I had dreams of holding her hand and comforting her and wishing her well as she passed. I was ready to do all of those things.

I am ready for none of these.

Things have gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Please pray for us and her and wish her well. She truly is and was, the best Grandma ever.

Christ, I Lost Mom Again.

11 Jun

Or reasons why I should not be your Power of Attorney.

In my family, I have always been the Chief Justice on our Supreme Court of Death decisions. Every family pet that didn’t have the good sense to die in a timely fashion has met my particular death panel of one. It isn’t easy being the Grim Reaper of the family, and apparently, like the Court, it’s a life appointment. Take today for instance.

My sister has had Mom’s cat since Mom died a dozen years ago. Sassy has, over the past 18 months, lost a considerable chunk of her sass, ass, vim and vigor. She is not a well cat. She is 15, glucose, fructose, lactose, gluten and possibly air intolerant. Jamie has done everything possible to save her, from daily insulin injections, special diet, frequent trips to the vet, to healing crystals and a pet psychic. No wait, that’s for the epileptic, bionic-legged dog. Have no doubt, every attempt at cat health has been made. Cat, much beloved. Still, not healthy.

I hate to start spouting my Quality of Life bullshit at times like these, but I tend to view every creature as if were me. Like, would I be happy to live like that? Probably the reason why I got the position in the first place. My niece, it seems, has inherited the POA/Grim Reaper authority for the next generation and I am happy to pass the torch. Boo, btw, as long as Aunt Tay Tay can remember the words to Bad Romance, please do not pull the plug. Also drink and smoke, but the presence of any one of those three things should be considered reason for life sustaining and prolonging treatment. Thanks.

Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, the cat. The court has ruled. It’s a very end (where end = sad, yet expected and natural) thing. It’s extremely easy to be swayed by emotions and attach more to the situation than what’s actually called for, which is where I, and my particular brand of death panelishness actually come in handy. One could argue that this is extremely traumatic and is like saying good-bye to Mom all over again, and that ‘one’ would be my sister. And then there’s me. To illustrate, our pending cat death conversation snippet below:

Me: Dude, if Boo is the new Grim Reaper, so do not make her POA!

Sister: Oh Hell no, man. I’m not leaving it to Bun, he’ll try and save me forever and then forget I’m still plugged in. Oh Hell to the no.

Me: Well, you know, the body is just a vessel. I wouldn’t have asked for Mom’s ashes if I had it to do over. I don’t even know where she is now. Somewhere in here lost, collecting dust. I mean, if I spilled her tomorrow I’d just vacuum her up.

Sister: You would? That’s harsh. But if you do spill Mom can I have the urn? I always thought they’d make super nice bookends…

Me: Sure. That’ll be a fun conversation when and if we meet again…”Hey Mom! I made you bookends! No really….”

Sister: You’re a sick fuck.

PSA

27 May

Things best not attempted when you have the shakes:

Threading a needle.

Calligraphy.

Catching a fish for a water change.

sorry about that, Jaws

The Silverware Paradox

25 May

This morning I asked Grandma to unload the silverware from the dishwasher. I have several small chores that are delegated to her to raise her sense of self-worth and contribution to the household, to stimulate her mentally, give her something to do besides and annoy me with questions about the news, and in general, they are things I don’t want to fuck with. It’s a win-win. The silverware in the dishwasher is at the top of that list.

This morning, as with all silverware sorting mornings, I set before her the silverware holder from the drawer and the silverware basket from the dishwasher. Each was half full. I went about my business, putting away the rest of the dishes. When I returned to the table to take the drawer, it was completely empty. Grandma had sorted all of the silverware back into the dishwasher basket. All of it, all 12 place settings were now neatly arranged, just in the wrong place. Or were they? There are times that I have asked her, before a dinner on the patio, to take them from the drawer container and put them upright in a carrying basket. The dishwasher basket is very similar.

As I opened my mouth to make light of the situation, I suddenly stopped. When she looked up to me, I saw pride register across her face. She felt she had accomplished the task perfectly. And she had. I had a sudden memory of what it once felt like to be in that place. To be perfectly sure and proud of what I had done, only to be told after that it was wrong. But it really wasn’t wrong, it was simply different.

I thanked her and moved the rack to the counter. I made a mental note to communicate better, and I stared in amazement at the perfectly arranged rows of matching silverware within the basket. I wondered, am I teaching, or am I learning?

Duh.

21 May

Me: “Hey Grandma, did you know Pac-Man is 30 today?”

Grandma: “Did you get me a card for him?”

Me: “No, he really doesn’t like for anyone to make a big fuss.”

The End.

Grandma, Ornithologist

19 May

Grandma:

I see you have two different kinds of birds here. (Where Here=NC, not Home IL)

Me:

Which two kinds?

Grandma:

The kind that build nests, and the kind that don’t.

*Please make a note of that.

Jesus This Smells Bad

18 May

Choucroute Greensborianne

Anything that smells like this has got to taste better, doesn’t it? Let’s hope so. As you can see, we are not afraid of cabbage in this house. The eastern European heritage of the homeowner combined with the German influence of the other two occupants makes for one foul smelling kitchen. The things I will do to cabbage are endless, like today’s recipe, in which I basically empty it in its rotten, fermented form, along with all the other usable contents in my fridge to create this masterpiece:

France meets Germany meets Greensboro, or what I like to refer to as Choucroute Greensborianne. Provided you’ve got the trash on hand to throw it together, it’s a 5 minute (prep) recipe for happiness on a wet, dark day.

What you’ll need:

First, you have got to like sauerkraut, if not, this is never going to work for you no matter how much you drink while preparing it. But go ahead and start drinking anyway; it’s only getting later in the day.

3 cans of vile, fermented cabbage

2 cans of potatoes, the baby kind. Do not peel potatoes for this recipe, it’ll just slow you down and make your house stink longer.

Almost anything in your fridge you want to get rid of. Those last three slices of bacon, toss them in. That wilted celery heart? In it goes. The last quarter bag of baby carrots the kids didn’t eat? Them too.

One onion. Can’t skimp on this. Quarter it and throw it in.

Cover the top in celery seeds.

This dish does need a meat base. Luckily it can be anything from a left over pork chop to an actual sausage, or fuck it, even a pack of hot dogs will work. French people like to put in duck, to which I say, whatever French people. I tend to not have duck just floating around in my fridge.

The key to this choucroute is the layering. Meat goes in first, then it is covered in the sauerkraut. All other ingredients are tossed at the pan from a distance as to avoid smelling the horrid mess. The celery seed goes on last as a control measure. Drink the entire time you’re preparing this as a precaution. DO NOT STIR OR OTHERWISE DISTURB THE STINKY POT. COVER IT AND GO TO ANOTHER ROOM.

It should be simmering on a very low heat. As the steam rises and builds up, the celery seed should slide down into the pot and no longer be visible on the top. I hope for your sake that you have a glass lid through which to check the progress.

OH MY GOD. You are going to have to go back and open the pot. Damn it, I forgot to tell you to add a bottle of beer. DOWN THE SIDE! Not on top of the celery seed. I am sorry about that. But since you have beer, you may as well drink one. If you’re more French than German, use white wine, but now you have a bottle to finish.

How to know when this is done:

1) You can no longer stand the smell.

2) The celery seeds have disappeared into the sauce.

3) The quartered onion is cooked through.

4) You are now drunk and hungry enough to eat it.

To serve: With a spatula or really large spoon, scoop out a layer and plate it. Fish out a few of those potatoes and smash them with a fork. Drizzle sauce over them. Make sure you got some of the meat. Serve with a dollop of French mustard, Amora, preferably and use the remainder of the beers to wash it all down. When finished, toss the plate in the vicinity of the sink. Take a nap.