Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Saying Goodbye to Mom


My family has never taken the words “I love you” lightly; nor have we ever taken them for granted.

As my mother declined with her Alzheimer’s, as her caregiver and son I never thought of it like I would be losing her. That’s because once she was gone I knew she would remain beneath my breast bone and her light would continue to shine in the smiles of our family.
Over the past several days Mom was awake for short intervals as family showed up to see her and be together. Though she couldn’t clearly articulate any words as we’d lean down and get close to her she’d pucker up for a kiss and flash an occasional smile.
Earlier in the week, the Pastor from our long time family church came for a visit. We talked and his words were of great comfort. He visited with mom and we closed the conversation with the Lord’s Prayer. About two sentences in, without skipping a beat Mom woke up and joined us. That was the last coherent thing said in full voice.
I loved my mother and losing her last night is best described as a sad relief. She left this world knowing how much she was loved and her last words to me were “I love you too.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Memory in the making

It’s been a bitter sweet time for the dogs and I lately. We’ve been on our “goodbye tour” of the neighborhood the last two weeks as we prepare to move and take care of Mom full time.

We walk at least two miles every day with a morning route and afternoon route. Often there is an evening route. Many people along these routes have become very attached to them and vice versa. When I told the I was moving, everyone was shocked. There were a lot of tears, long hugs and quiet goodbyes from them.

I am sure Jack and Needa will made new friends in our new neighborhood. They’ve had to do it before, but this time, considering their age, it feels different.

It is difficult to remove them from the home they have loved so well. I feel like a parent telling their kid they will be spending their senior year at another school.

Needa Lou and Jack knew something has been going on these last few weeks as I packed boxes. Mom has been over a lot too. At least two or three times during each visit she asks about the boxes and I explain that I am packing because I’m moving and will be living with her to take care of her. She always seems pleased and surprised and says it sounds nice.

This is the last shot of Needa and Jack in my yard. Our new house has a yard twice the size and is surrounded by large trees but not the same amazing neighbors we’ve come to know.

A new chapter begins now. It has no outline and we have no idea how long it will last. You never know when you are doing something for the last time until you are able to look back on it and classify it as a memory.

Tomorrow, this will likely be a memory.

A really, great, bittersweet memory.

Friday, May 8, 2020

A bleak outlook

May 8, 2020. 

As the picture suggests, welcome to the bleak zone.

Right now we live in a world where the circumstances we face are providing more questions than answers. Problems outnumber solutions 100-1 and many people are running out of patience and common sense. The political divide isn’t shrinking; it’s growing. We are behaving just like our enemies hope we will and I don’t see any fix or solution in sight.

But still.

This pandemic is causing unprecedented hardships for many of us.  To me it truly represents something as significant and as game changing as the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001.  But there is a big difference. In our post 9-11 world, Americans came together, while today we are torn farther apart by the minute.

We may not get through this pandemic; that is to say, this new strain of virus will likely be a part of our lives in America forever. And much like life post 9-11, we will have to accept that it is going to change the way we do a lot of things.

Imagine not shaking someone’s hand when you meet, hugging a friend, watching a baseball game, on-line dating, and a rendezvous with your married lover, going to a concert or even enjoying a meal at your favorite restaurant.  I am confident that dining out will come back, but it will never be what it was. If restaurants are now required to operate at half capacity, they won’t survive because the profit margin is too slim. Say goodbye to salad bars and buffets.

So is the new business model for the once United States is that we annihilate our economy so nobody dies? Many people think that is the way. I don’t and it doesn’t seem very smart to me.

Those who have patience and money can afford it. But most people do not have both of those things. Folks are getting used to home delivery--- where we never have to leave our house to get the things we need. But these “things” are items like food, clothing and sundry items that make our life a little more comfortable. The things that matter, like friendships and a sense of community---the things that normally came with a hearty handshake, might not be regained so easily, or ever.

We have people doing completely things like spitting on produce, wiping their noses on store worker’s shirts or worse yet, killing someone because they were told they needed to wear a mask while shopping. Chances are these people already had some underlying psychosis prior to their act of cowardice and stupidity, but maybe it took Covid 19 to bring it out of them.

The security guard who was killed in Flint supposedly “disrespected” a woman while doing his job and telling her she needed a mask to shop in the store. She didn’t like the rule, so she summoned her husband and son to kill the guy all because they felt “disrespected.” It’s pure “Thug Life” and those vermin need to be taken off the street. Truth be told, someone who behaves that way will never get my respect and you or I might be the next victim of violence for no good reason. Yet those are also the same people being let out of prison for fear of Covid 19 spreading.

Empathy has been replaced by hypocrisy and nobody’s hands are clean in all this. So many friendships have been fractured and broken because we’re too stubborn to realize other opinions exist and sometimes there is no right or wrong answer; only more questions and while pursuing them, the answers and opportunities of compromise are only pushed further out of reach.

NEWSFLASH:  It IS POSSIBLE to scroll past a post on Facebook that you disagree with and not pile on with cheap shots and hatred.

And so the world goes, into a downward spiral of ignorance, hypocrisy and hate, taking much of the good with it as collateral damage.

When push comes to shove, we’re all falling short of God’s love.

The national media’s job is to work us up into a hateful frenzy and sadly, they are succeeding and the reason they are succeeding is because we make it easy for them. They make us believe their “selective outrage” and if it doesn’t stick, they drench it with racism because it is so popular and convenient these days.

Racism has always existed but the difference is today it can be instantly manufactured and is in abundant supply. As I write, it is being used somewhere as a tool when a particular topic worthy of debate becomes an argument that is too weak to stand on its own.

And politics?  The truth is that if everything the President says or does is an outrage, then nothing is an outrage.

In fact, democrat or Republican, people fail to realize that very little in their day-to-day lives changes significantly enough to affect our way of life. (Exception being the state of Michigan)  Face it; most of us are hypocrites. The more we have the more we complain.

I’m burned out on Covid 19 stories. The “experts” and the media have been quite wrong in projecting the scientific impact of this and disseminating the information to us and they won’t admit they’re wrong. It’s hard to chalk that up into the “Life is not fair” category, but maybe it’s time that we start trying because as long as people hoard toilet paper and hide behind their computers pumping hate into a Facebook forum, this way of life will not only exist, but it will continue to grow and morph into something much worse.

But there is some good news. This pandemic has shown that
 we CAN live in a world without professional sports. We CAN live in a world without Hollywood movies and that we CAN adapt to long lines, food shortages and other inconveniences when we need to.

I feel sorry for the people who work in these industries but not for the athletes and owners whose pay scale is so out of whack with the American people that somehow they forget (or ignore) this and remain beholden to the big money machine. Maybe this will change, but don’t bet your stimulus check on it.

I was talking to my brother yesterday. He has been in the grocery industry for over 30 years and is stunned at how much it has changed the business model they’ve followed. The fact is it has changed the world, primarily the United States.

When I hung up the phone and thought about it, today feels like I’m in a Twilight Zone episode where there is some huge computer with a booming voice laughing behind a huge one-way mirror as it manipulates a huge city into insanity as it the words “New World Order” flash on a screen. Surreal? Yes. But considering you can go on Facebook now and have people argue with you over what day it is, speaks volumes to the absurdity of it all.

We have many heroes but just as many zeros out there. But maybe if everyone stepped up and did something to help this collectively rotten situation we find ourselves in, things might change in our microcosm of the world. There is an ancient proverb that states something to the effect that “unless you change the direction you are heading, you will probably end up there.” 

It is a bleak outlook.

I used to say we ALL need to check our compasses, readjust our sights and tweak our pathway so the scales of humanity have a chance to right themselves again before it’s too late.

But it is too late.
So what do we do now?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Your mother should know

My mother’s declining condition with her Alzheimer’s disease helped us reassess what was best for her and we moved her into a memory care facility about a month ago.

Her first week there was terrible. The second week, not much better. The third and fourth weeks showed some improvement, though after every visit, or day trip with us, all she talked about was wanting to go home . . . and it continues.

Every week on our way to church we listen to “Breakfast with the Beatles,” on AM 580, CKWW out of Windsor. Today the first song we heard was “Your Mother should know.”

It was Liverpool Synchronicity.

Mom loves being in her church. She always knows where she is and is greeted warmly by her friends. Despite her condition, she can fake things very well. She still creates a welcoming environment as she greets strangers who quickly become her friend.

After church we take a drive through Royal Oak and she marvels at all the changes. Next up is a leisurely lunch at the Red Olive in Clawson, where we’ve never had a bad meal.

We lose more of her each week. When mom doesn’t remember something about her parent’s or my Dad’s passing, I explain to her that it is OK to forget.

And then I give her the best reassurance I can to remind her we are here to help remember everyone and everything for her.

After that, she wraps her arms around me and says: "Oh, thank you. I love you."

You're welcome Mom. Everybody loves you too.