Food, Glorious Food

J:  Food is a huge part of life.  Social occasions usually revolve around food.  And shopping, preparing and talking about food takes up a lot of our lives.  Growing up, our parents had so much to say about food.  Usually it was about the cost of food. Ridiculous! Exorbitant!  Don't waste a morsel!  This grocery run needs to last a week!   These were commonly heard exclamations and proclamations.  

And then the comments about those who ate too much.  "She's casting a big shadow". "People probably hide behind him for shade".  They had no sympathy for the overweight; even when they were their own children  They redefined the word "abstemious"  They ate healthy foods in modest amounts.  They read "Eat To Live", "The Wheat Belly Diet" and countless other self help/diet books, always striving to improve their health and their longevity.

Fast forward to today.  GRB eats like it's his job.  And poor Sweet T can't eat anything without help.  So he's getting bigger by the day, and she has achieved the lean look she coveted all of her life.  The old GRB would be appalled to see himself today while the old Sweet T would be thrilled with her self control.  There is something to be said for having to be fed every bite.

So what's the lesson to be learned?  Life is short, eat dessert first?   Everything in moderation? Diets be damned?  Bon Appetit? 


Happy Father's Day

J:  On the Eve of Father's Day, I'm happy to report that all is well on the Parkway.  GRB's new GPS watch has proven to be rather effective at tracking him and that, plus a little luck, has kept him safe for the past couple of weeks. Sweet T has rallied and is back to her pleasant self.  We are looking forward to celebrating the day tomorrow with most of the boys in attendance.

I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to the special book that we put together for E's husband.  In my book he is truly the unsung hero of the Parkway Project.  He jumped in with both feet a few years ago when they decided to buy the house and add the room for my parents.  He soldiered on when they moved in almost two years ago and he continues to persevere despite the constant barrage of crazy that hits him everyday. I'm sure he's questioned whether he signed up for this when he married E more than 20 years ago.  I'm sure he'd love to come home once- just once- to an empty house.  I'm sure he's bitten his tongue more than once to avoid screaming in frustration at the chaos that is his life.  But honestly you would never know it.  He presents a calm, cool demeanor to everyone who visits and he always seems to be ready to handle whatever comes next.  Need a ramp?  A wheelchair?  A potty chair? A beer run?  B is the man for the job. 

Most of the beautiful letters I received from the Daisies' friends and relatives mentioned that B is living the Ignatian motto of being a Man for Others.  I couldn't agree more.  I'm sure somewhere in heaven St. Ignatius of Loyola is smiling at this faithful disciple.

I hope he knows how much we appreciate what he is doing.  The Daisies won't be with them forever but the memory of his selflessness will never fade.  Thanks B!!

GRB Goes Rogue

J:  The unthinkable has happened:  GRB has turned to a life of crime.  Friday began as any other Friday, unremarkable and rather slow.  The Daisies enjoyed the last Senior Lunch of the season at St. Chris then returned home to rest.  Upon awakening, GRB headed out for his daily sojourn around the 'hood.  The caregiver waited for his return and began to grow alarmed when he was not back in the 7-9 minutes it usually takes him to cruise the street.  She went on the hunt.  

As luck would have it, it was a beautiful day and my husband was in our driveway contemplating the mound of mulch that had just been delivered.  The caregiver consulted with him, inquiring if he had seen which way GRB had gone.  He was not able to provide any guidance, so the caregiver decided to jump in her car to find him.  Just as she was crossing the street, who emerged from the neighbor's house, but GRB himself.  At the same time, a loud alarm began sounding.  The caregiver quickly realized that GRB had set the neighbor's alarm off.  GRB seemed nonplussed by all of the activity and tried to escape the scene of the crime post haste.  Rocky River's finest would have none of that.  They were on the scene in a New York minute and began demanding information about the intruder.  GRB, pleading the Fifth,  would provide none.  

The homeowner, summoned by the police, arrived in short order and assured the police that he did not wish to press charges.  He and GRB shook hands and the caregiver escorted the felon back to his house.

So we are left to wonder: what drove him to the B&E?  Was he hungry and looking for a snack, thirsty and hankering for a Dort? Or perhaps he was looking to drop some St Ignatius gear into the house of an avid St. Ed's fan?  The world may never know . . .

Things That Go Bump in the Night

J:  It's been a rough week for GRB.   A week ago he took a spill while working out with his trainer and needed some stitches to close the wound.  He was a pretty good sport about all of it, and luckily the ER was slow that day so we were in and out rather quickly.  

Then Tuesday night somehow he got out of the house after dark (with or without the caregiver at his side- the details here are a little murky) and managed to fall on his face.  Now he has a HUGE raspberry on his forehead and cheek.  

Then yesterday E determined that last week's wound was infected and we needed to take him back to the ER for additional antibiotics.  Apparently everyone who lives in Westlake needed to go the ER yesterday, so the antibiotic run took six hours!  UGH.  Again, GRB was pretty calm about the delay.  We brought him a burger from a local joint and he was happy to nosh on that while waiting, though he did ask every passing nurse for a beer.  

Two rounds of IV antibiotics and he was ushered (carefully) out the door.  

Another crisis managed.  As I looked at him in the hospital bed, though, with his banged up face, his red, swollen leg and his confused countenance, I couldn't help but wish (for the millionth time) that I could just get a little peak at God's play book so I could understand why this poor guy has to endure so much.

Final Farewell

E- We said goodbye to another wonderful friend of G's this week. He was an Iggy grad,  groomsman in our parent's wedding, and a faithful friend to both of our parents over the years. I informed our Dad of Dick's passing and I was shocked at his response. He was visibly and verbally upset. We set up wedding pictures and more recent pictures which included Dick. G was so sad while digesting the news and pointing out Dick in the pictures. 

This not only brought tears to my eyes but some anxiety regarding T and G's race to the finish. In the past I did not really feel that G would notice if Sweet T disappeared, but now I have a new opinion and an addendum to my daily prayer for my parents. 

Dick joined several other Iggy grads from the class of '57 so we know there is a party going on up there in Heaven! The many tales told following the funeral by so many friends (many high school antics included G) makes me think Dick may petition to invite G up next. As a successful defense attorney and a man of so so many words, Dick may have the ability to sway Him to bump up G on 'the list'. 

Until then...we will press on with our Parkway Project!


He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

J:  . . . and his whole wardrobe on his back.  

There's a lot of crazy that's been sprinkled around the Parkway these days.  It started with Sweet T and her refusal to walk over the weekend.  She just simply couldn't move her legs.  E speculated that it could be advancing arthritis in her hips that is making it painful to move, so she was choosing not to.  A dose or two of Motrin seemed to help, but what really got her moving again was singing.  And the song of choice?  "He's Got the Whole World in HIs Hands".  And since the song can be sung over and over, adding a different name each time it's sung, we have been singing it a lot.  It sort of gets stuck in your head.  And she's back on the road.

On to GRB's crazy.  E wandered in to their room last night, hours after he went to bed, only to find him in his closet donning as much clothing as he could.  When she arrived he was wearing, from the bottom up, his shoes, his underwear, his shirt, Sweet T's shirt, Sweet T's raincoat and his winter coat.  No explanation was offered for the wardrobe choices, and E patiently helped him disrobe and get back to bed.

On a sad note, one of GRB's best friends passed away over the weekend.  Smoke, as my dad referred to him, was a faithful friend who often stopped to visit or took GRB out to coffee.  Smoke was a good man and lived the Gospel.  We are grateful for his help and his friendship.  Safe home, Smoke.

Alphabet Soup

J: GRB has been a frequent visitor to my house lately now that the weather is nicer and he is roaming the 'hood on a regular basis.  He always knocks before he walks in and offers a hearty "Hullo" as he opens the door.  From there, though, things go quickly down hill.  

He addresses me with his hands spread wide and his head cocked to the side, a wry expression on his face.  It sure looks like he has quite a story to tell.  But as soon as he starts to tell his tale, the words get stuck.  He might get the first few words out before the consonants start to roll together and odd sounding syllables get strung together in a pressured fashion.  The result can only be likened to the Campbell's Soup commercial for alphabet soup - the part before the letters in the soup spell a word.  I think he realizes that he isn't communicating effectively, because the syllables start to come more slowly and he eventually drops his hands on the island in defeat.  It's so hard to watch.  Luckily he's pretty easily pacified with an encouraging word about his tale and the offer of a beer.

I'm lucky that he's still mobile enough to make his daily visits.  But as for this disease, I'll take a line from the Oscar Mayer commercial: It's B-O-L-O-G-N-A

Oh When the Saints Go Marching In

J:  I'm a novice piano player and I was playing today and stumbled across this song.  As I played it and thought of the words I couldn't help but think about the caregivers that faithfully take care of Sweet T and GRB everyday.  E and I joke that we will never see them in heaven, as they will be up in the stratosphere, miles above where we'll be (assuming we make it).  But honestly, I am constantly amazed by the wonderful women who show up day after day with such positive attitudes and so much compassion.  They truly are living saints.  

Taking care of dementia patients is thankless.  The caregivers give and give and give and never receive any recompense from their charges.  I could not do what they do.  I am so very grateful to know all of these ladies.

You are all earning your spots in heaven.  If you stop by someday, I'll play you the song . . .

Good Bones

J:  I sell real estate.  When a house is really ugly cosmetically but is well built, we often say the house has "good bones".  That means that it is fundamentally sound and a little elbow grease is all that's needed to bring it back to its former glory; it has staying power.  I always look for houses with good bones for my clients.

Sweet T and GRB have good bones.  Their "good bones" are built from a solid faith in God, an unwavering work ethic and the ability to persevere when the going got tough.  GRB built a business from the ground up, and Sweet T was beside him all the way.  They started out with next to nothing.  They were frugal and happy to do without.  They saved their money.  They led by example; always showing us and not telling us the best way to live.  They had some rough years.  Some of their kids (author excluded) gave them a run for their money.  They buried parents and siblings and friends.  But they pressed on.

My siblings and I learned from them. We are all hard workers.  We all persevere.  We have strong marriages that we have made work through hard work, a strong faith in God and ability to laugh at ourselves.  We have picked spouses with good bones.  

My hope for my boys is that they find girls with good bones.  Life is not always easy.  There are lots of dark days.  Fortitude is not an attribute you will find people advertising or searching for on dating sites, but it is truly one of the most important qualities a potential spouse can have.  

Century homes get special plaques when they hit that milestone, essentially cementing their "good bones" for all eternity.  Sweet T and GRB deserve a plaque too.  Thanks, mom and dad, for passing along your good bones.  And ladies with good bones - I have some boys I'd like you to meet!

Tripped up but in good hands

E- Our Dad intermittently becomes fixated on the second floor of our house. This is usually after opening and closing the front door 36 times then he will notice or hear something upstairs. He will begin with a chorus of "hullo"..."hullo"... and if he does not hear a reply he will start up the stairs. His heavy feet and slow gait allow someone the opportunity to turn things around for him and/or with him arm in arm if necessary. Steps are not part of his daily routine so we usually assist a bit especially on the way down a flight of steps. 

Yesterday he was solo in the foyer while the caregiver was managing the mulch delivery in driveway. G climbed half of the flight of stairs then stumbled and fell back down. My son (R)/nursing student heard the commotion and ran to the steps to find G still standing but holding the back of his head. My eager nursing student quickly evaluated the scene and called me with a calm, detailed report. It appeared that G hit his head against the front doors which prevented him from landing on the floor. I reviewed his meds with R and asked what was pertinent to consider with aspirin use and head injuries and he answered correctly.  Aspirin is a blood thinner and when a head injury occurs while taking any blood thinner (Coumadin, lovenox etc) it can cause a brain bleed. We then reviewed neurologic changes to observe for and any complaints of headache or increased sleepiness. 

I updated J too and she checked him out and replied to me that all was well....Dad was drinking Dort and watching golf. We dodged another bullet so it seems...Cheers!!


Beer Crawl

E- That's right...not a bear crawl but a beer crawl. G has taken to the streets with open bevies with the warm temps. Sometimes he is still dressed in his warmest winter coat while strolling with a cold one. His winter gloves have finally been hidden away to avoid the gloved hand beer drinking which was commonly seen earlier this year. And a 'crawl' is about the exact pace he's moving with new aches and pains daily! His back and knee are 'giving him hell'....but he continues with his trainer 2 days per week along with Sweet T. 

Lunch dates on the Pkwy are a perfect way to visit. Our patio is set up for summer time dining and we have plenty of lunch fixings and beer! So stop by and check out the new landscaping and T&G!! This Fri 4/28 is the St Chris Social Club luncheon. We will meet at 11:30ish in Mary's Room for lunch and laughs. All are welcome! 

City Surveyor

E- Our Dad is on the loose. Not only am I tossing up a flare to alert our friends and neighbors of his nonstop wandering, but also to let you all know he's frequenting back yards and side yards too. Yes, the GPS is working well so we are able to complete the rescue now that Sweet T has the wheelchair to allow all to give chase. Once discovered between two houses attempting entry through a garage service door, he is immediately taken with the fact that T is in a wheelchair. He quickly darts toward her to ask what has happened to cause her to be ..."like this",  which is about the amount he can verbalize with the shortness of breath caused by miles of off roading through yards. Each caregiver is quick to take advantage of the distraction and suggest a short walk back home to get a beer, regardless of the hour. Periodically G's congestive heart failure trips up this process and he is so winded and confused that we need to call in back up. A quick call to my boys and a car arrives in minutes to pick him up and return him safely to the Parkway Manor. 

Happy Spring! And watch for G in your garage!

Easter Joy

J:  It was a sun-soaked Easter on the Parkway yesterday.  The cast of characters was wide and deep.  We had a new born baby, a delightful 83 year old client turned friend, an assortment of mildly hungover young men, a smattering of lovely young ladies, a darling six year old girl and of course the Daisies .  We kicked off the day with a rousing egg hunt complete with two $50 eggs.  There were some elbows thrown and some accusations of cheating all around as everyone vied for the money eggs.  At the end of the hunt everyone was happily counting their money, scratching their lottery tickets and waiting to eat.  And eat we did.  All sorts of wonderful food prepared by many and enjoyed by all.  After dinner the newborn was laid on the table like the best possible dessert and we all enjoyed watching him sleep.  

The boys took turns racing Sweet T's wheel chair around the yard, testing out its aerodynamic features. GRB tore through the Easter baskets looking for the gooiest eggs.  Nashville Bill played and sang for us, preparing for his first open mic night this week.  People came and went, the sun continued to shine, everyone got hungry and ate again.  The Indians lost. It didn't matter.  It was a gloriously messy fun day.  Hallelujah!

Maintain your role to keep the show rolling

E- My high school friend is in town for her Mom's funeral this wkend. She's taken time off from her FT job and has traveled many hours by car with her husband and three young kids to bury her 72 year old Mother. My girlfriend is the youngest of 3 kids and shoulders the majority of the responsibility for the family when it comes to ....everything. She has a huge role from afar and now it's all right in front of her and she has limited support besides her husband. Unfortunately her Dad is also in the hospital and will not be able to attend the funeral. This stress is also weighing on her and her sisters.

I've been keeping in touch with her daily to offer assistance wherever she needs it and if nothing else to be available to listen.  This morning she was working to meet deadlines for her job along with planning and completing funeral arrangements and contacting Dr's regarding her Dad's failing condition in the hospital.

Soon she will pack up the car and drive away again to return to her regularly scheduled life up north. I am not sure how she will do it, but she will because that's what we all do. We get up each day, assess the situation and press on until the end of the day. Evening reflection generally allows us to pat ourselves on the back and take a deep breath knowing that we completed another day as the Captain of the family.

This wkend will be a family filled time for our gang and I hope it brings lots of laughs and great memories. I truly treasure these times and I hope T and G remain stable for one more holiday! Let's Roll!!

Sweet T's Curtain Call

J: We thought we lost her on Sunday night.  We were all having dinner at my house - E, her boys, my husband, my son along with Sweet T and GRB.  We were eating at the island, watching TV to see if Sergio could hang on and win the Masters.  I was helping Sweet T eat her dinner, but I was focused on the golf.  All of the sudden E shrieked- "J- mom's having a seizure"  I turned to see her arched back in her chair, her hands limp and her eyes empty.  E quickly established that there was no pulse.  One of the boys dialed 911 as I rubbed her legs and encouraged her to come back to us.  Her eyes were half open but they were seeing nothing.  I've never seen someone die, but I thought I was seeing it then.  It seemed like she was gone for a long time, but it was probably only a minute or so.  By the time the EMS arrived she was alert and breathing again.  

E thought she had a stroke; her extremely low blood pressure seemed to confirm that, yet there were no other signs of a stroke.  Maybe a seizure, EMS thought, or perhaps she was dehydrated. Because she is a comfort care/DNR we did not choose to transport her to the hospital.  Instead we took her home, cleaned her up and put her to bed.  It was a nice night, and the windows were open a bit.  As I kissed her good night I told her that the windows were open to allow the Holy Spirit in, and if the Holy Spirit appeared it was ok for her to travel to the Lord with him (or her). I told her I loved her and, with tears in my eyes, I said good bye.  I really didn't think I'd see her alive again.

But yesterday morning she awoke with a smile on her dear, sweet face.  Of course she had no recollection of the previous night's events.  Her blood pressure was still low, but she didn't seem any worse for the wear.  We all spent a little extra time loving and hugging on Sweet T yesterday. Not everyone gets a curtain call.  

And as an aside, and equally troubling, GRB did not bat an eye over all of the Sunday night commotion. Though he was seated right next to her, he was completely unaware of  and unconcerned about all that was going on with his bride of 55 years.  

Expose the Toes

E- My recent head to toe assessment of Sweet T revealed some crazy long toenails! Not only were they overgrown but also growing in a strange direction, leaning toward the great toe (big toe). It didn't;t register at first that the cause was the shuffling gait pushing her toes into the top of her shoes. It took a 1.5 hour long painful pedicure for me to realize what had occurred!! Sweet T's toenails were all making constant contact with her shoes, thus reforming the growth of the nail. Moreover (and gross to discuss) was the horrible ingrown toenail!! Ingrown toenails (if overlooked) will become a surgical repair and are REALLY painful!

Sweet T has lost most pain receptors....until the pedicure. It was awful...I just kept apologizing and promising I would not let the toenail situation occur again. (BTW she had just been there 6 weeks earlier, so remain mindful of overall foot health) ... Monitor for new/unusual areas of redness or purple areas on the foot. Check for any open skin, especially if your loved one has diabetes. Sores on the foot can lead to infection and possible amputation if not properly managed. Individuals with diabetes should absolutely see a podiatrist regularly (every 6 weeks) for management. These visits are covered by Medicare with a diagnosis of diabetes. 

Take care of you loved one's tootsies...they are not able to so we must do it for them! Add it to the list!

Sweet T's Law of Motion

J:  Newton's Law of Motion states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest while objects in motion tend to stay in motion.  Sweet T's law tweaks this just a bit: things at rest want to stay at rest and get EXTREMELY aggravated if put in motion.  She just doesn't want to move anymore.  We have tried all sots of tactics to encourage her to move, but so far nothing seems to be working.  When we announce that it's time to go somewhere she shakes her head just a bit, and, with that cute little smile on her face, politely declines to go.  

So then we start the process of heaving her out of the chair.  She immediately begins to claim that she is "being ripped" (from limb to limb, one has to assume based on her level of complaining).  It doesn't get any better once she's out of the chair.  She attempts to arrest forward motion by pulling back as hard as she can.  At this point she looks like a water skier: arms locked, knees bent, all of her weight in her butt.  The Geauga Lake Ski Team could have used her talents.  Even when we try to turn the walk into a dance by humming her favorite tunes, she doesn't comply. Her movement is glacially slow.  And when we finally reach the destination and she is again firmly ensconced in her seat, she gives it a loud "Phew!" as if she's just broken the record in the mile run.  

The upside of all of this immobility is that she really has perfected that Mannequin Challenge that E wrote about the other day . . .

Shoe Showdown

E- Our Dad only wears one pair of shoes. A less than attractive brown shade Keen slip on with the elastic pull laces to tighten and release. Each day begins with many adjustments to get that perfect tension for his busy day of Amber Alerts and chaperoned walks in the hood. The shoes are a focus...all day. Well I am about to use the shoes for security this week. The new GPS is going to adhere (in a creative fashion) to his shoe because they are the only wardrobe items that do not see the wash. So somehow I will velcro, pin or tape this gadget 'step counter' as we will call it, to his shoe. 

Most nights the shoes remain the center of controversy because he puts them on each time he wakes up during the night. So I will need an extremely secure application to maintain the GPS on the shoe (I am sure that will be tonight's 3 am plotting while I am awake) . So after he completes  his multiple trips to the 1/2 bath near the kitchen (bypassing the beautiful full bath in his bedroom) the arguing begins regarding removing the shoes before climbing back into bed. Last night I began with the 'American ' theme we previously used for our anti recliner sleeping campaign which seemed to fall on deaf/drugged ears. I also tried yanking the shoes off myself with my own frustrated strength but he was using his too and I gave in.

So, once that tracking device is in place we can watch his every footsie move with Sweet T while they're in bed together. Not even sure of the rating on this post....I better end it...

Stay tuned for the arrival of the shoe tracker!!

Mannequin Challenge

E- The parkway has a new record to break when it comes to staying still. We've mentioned in previous posts that time seems to stand still around here, but now Sweet T does too! Lately wherever you leave her (standing. sitting, laying down) you can put money on the fact that you will find her in that same pose upon your return. She just gets stuck!! She doesn't seem to mind (per her usual happy disposition) that she's gone nowhere for up to 30 minutes! Once it's brought to her attention she may chuckle or if she's feeling spunky she'll reply "so what!" 

Recently we've had a newborn baby boy visit our home. Both of our parents were so cute interacting with him. Our Dad sang to him and commented on every tiny muscle group in his little body. He announced what a strong young man he was and he will probably play football. Our Mom was in FULL motion. She jumped up (on her own) each time he cried and she too held him like such a natural Grandma. J and I were far more nervous than the relaxed Mom regarding any slip ups with our parent's huge responsibility in their arms.

They did a great job and the day (for once) seemed to fly by! Sweet T still tunes into the business of caring for a newborn and hung up her mannequin challenge talents for the day. And oddly enough they recall the visits with the baby! Needless to say we are all looking forward to seeing TJ again on Sunday! 


Puttin' on the Ritz

J:  E and I managed to escape the cold of Cleveland for a few days along with some girl friends.  We headed down to Naples and enjoyed the good life, hanging at the Ritz and seeing how the other half lives.   Girls' trips are always fun, and this one did not disappoint.  And they are almost always a herculean effort to pull off, which this one was too.  In total, we left 18 children behind. And of course we left Sweet T and GRB.  One of our girl friends buried her mother in law just three days before we left.   Another friend was lucky enough to have her parents visit us in Florida- a true miracle as less than a year ago she thought her mother was on her way to meet her maker.  And the final gal on this trip left her dad in the care of her siblings while she traveled.  So all of that, on top of the 18 kids - how did we do it?

We did it because it keeps us sane.  Our friendships have endured over the years because they are our bedrock.  Through good times and bad, we can call each other and with just a few words we can convey exactly what is going on.  Girls get it - we know what it is like to balance kids, and parents, and work, and husbands.  It's a true art.  We aren't looking for sympathy or solutions - just someone to listen to us, (and maybe have a glass of wine with us!)  

We met a lovely lady while floating in the pool.  She was 20 years our senior and she, too, had taken care of her mother who had AD for over 10 years.  Her advice to us was "don't lose yourselves through the process."  She impressed on us the need to keep our friends, our hobbies our outside interests, as much as possible.  Because someday our caretaking will end. Someday we won't worry about Sweet T and GRB anymore.  Someday we won't worry if the kids survived another night of partying.  I'm sure we will find new things to worry about, but if we work to keep our friends, we will still have them to call to share our worries (and that glass of wine).

So thanks, ladies for making the time for our wonderful trip.  Life at the Ritz is rough, but someone's got to do it.  Until next year . . .