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Posts Tagged ‘mother and daughter’

As mentioned in my previous blog, my elderly (sorry mom) mother fell and broke her hip three weeks ago. Since then life has been pretty much devoted to getting her back on her feet, both literally and figuratively, and figuring out a plan of action on where to go from here once that has been accomplished.

This will mark my second round of care giving responsibilities. When Rick, my significant other passed away last year, I was warned to pace myself as the mortality rates for caregivers are alarming. Thirty percent of caregivers will die before the loved ones they are caring for do. I have heard higher numbers but 30% is sufficiently worrisome, thank you very much. Emotional and physical exhaustion can lead to a compromised auto immune system as well as a myriad of other health problems. I am so thankful when I was coming down the assembly line I was right behind the Energizer Bunny thus blessed with the same full tank of boundless energy and a high octane metabolism. However, the bunny was constructed of cotton and fiberfill, where I am flesh and bone so I am mindful of how thin I stretch myself.

Three nights a week and a good portion of the days I am at the skilled nursing facility where my mom is housed. When I walk in the building I hear the staff saying “Susie’s here”, which gives you a good idea the amount of time I am around. Last night I settled down in the bed next to my mother. I thought the chairs they provide for the visitors were quite possibly the most uncomfortable furniture ever constructed, but I have to admit they went the extra mile when putting the beds together. I hold to the notion they tied a stack of sheet lumber together, wrapped a layer of bunting around it and called it good when making the mattress. When you turn on your side you literally rebound off the top like a rubber ball hitting a cement driveway. The pillows are constructed of a plastic like material which glues to your hair like rubber cement and the linen smells vaguely like a mix of urine and bleach. For me I brought my own throw and pillows and would have brought in an egg crate cover for the mattress if I didn’t think that was a bit over the top, no pun intended.

Last night I was back to sleep for the second time after the staff came in to check vitals and make a toilet run for my mother. Slipping back into a deep sleep something must have triggered my eyelids to open revealing a well wrinkled face peering into mine. The woman looked to be well into her nineties. Seated in a wheelchair she was resplendent in bright pink flannel pj’s with penguins marching across them accessorized by a lime green travel pillow curled around her neck. “You are sleeping in my bed”, she announced loudly. Coming up from dreamland I felt for all he world like Goldilocks. For a minute I wasn’t sure if I was actually awake or simply dreaming I was awake. Groping around for the damnable call button the penguin lady zoomed off knocking my glass of water to the floor prompting my mother to sit up. Mother and I watched in fascination as the lady did 360’s in her chair in the middle of the room and then zoomed into the bathroom closing the door behind her. Finally a nurse came in to retrieve the poor lady apologizing for the disturbance. I could still hear the woman screaming going down the hall “she’s in my room, she’s in my room”. I’m beginning to think my mother is right when she says “it doesn’t pay to get old”. Life in the bin I guess.

Another thing to consider is that any hospital or nursing home is a witch’s cauldron of germs brewing and stewing on every surface you come in contact with. I have washed my hands so many times now I had to buy the industrial sized moisturizing cream to combat the skin simply cracking and falling off on the floor. Rick contracted C-diff while in such an institution. As you can imagine germs travel quickly with staff moving in and out of rooms and people in the halls and communal areas spreading the wealth. Bleach is used for washing clothes, linens, floors, and every surface in an effort to keep this under control. C-diff by definition is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Oh, yea.

When you get this bacteria you are sequestered. Visitors are suited up from head to toe in protective clothing each time you enter or leave the room where the infected person is housed. With Rick, I spent many days seated across from him looking like an extra from Outbreak. Poor guy. He said he felt like a leper. Even the cleaning staff gave his door a wide berth. I had to bleach my clothes when I got home and be careful again to wash my hands often and well. Growing up in a doctor’s household, (my grandfather was a urologist, my grandmother an RN) this was not unfamiliar training for me.

My kids come in and spend some grandma and me time on the weekend giving me a little time to myself. Today I intend to remove the dust from my own life and see if there’s still something left underneath it. The yard, the cat, the house, are all ready to go on strike if I don’t give them some attention. Boo, the Queen of Cats, stands guard on the floor by my feet when I’m home shooting me a glaring look with one eye from time to time should I make a move towards the front door.

I shall always consider myself blessed to have had my mother all these years. Like most mothers and daughters we’ve shared moments not suitable for a Hallmark greeting, but we always mended and came together again. You are given one mother in this life and that is the allotment. Some of us fare better than others under this system, and I feel I’m one of the lucky ones. All of us who are parents probably can be seen as needing improvement by our offspring but she always let me know I was well loved, and you can’t do better than that. Hug your mom today. Today is what we have, fill it with the important things.

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Hot, hot, hot, hot! That’s what I’m about today. For the next 10 days we living here in sunny California are being treated to 100 degree temps or upward. Palm Springs, so the weather gurus tell us, is in the 122 range. Are you kidding me! If someone gave me a palatial mansion in that area you would never find me living in it during the summer months. Phoenix is another area I couldn’t make home. The news showed a video of a man cooking a pizza on his dashboard in that area. Not for this Canadian I guarantee. Over the past eight years or so I have come to find I could eliminate summer entirely. Every time it shows up with it’s tirelessly smiling face it brings with it relentless fires and glorious sun I’m told I can’t sit in unless I wear body armor. Winter could take a vacation as well, after Christmas, naturally. Instead I would settle for balmy spring and glorious fall as my seasons of choice.

We had our A/C unit checked under our home warranty. Good news. For being twenty-three years old it’s in good shape. Kind of like me, if you add a number of years to the equation. Of course if everyone is pumping out air, whether the unit is functional or not matters little once the electric company’s grid shuts down. At that point, we will either go downstairs where you could hang meat on most days or check into a hotel that takes cats. Right now blessedly the overhead fans are churning out a nice steady breeze, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, is lying in cool comfort across from me, and cold sandwiches and a crunchy veggie salad have been put on my menu by the cook (that would be moi).

The last few weeks have been a solid blur of activity. This is the first chance I have had to sit down and even think about gathering my thoughts. For several months I’ve been helping a dear friend organize a fundraiser for her daughter who is ill. A project of love, but a project. The fundraiser itself was the weekend before last and a great success. As much as I enjoy putting together gift baskets and doing artsy activities, it is nice to have reclaimed my guest rooms which my mother and her roommate occupied for a week immediately after the baskets went to the event. Whew.

I planned the week with my mum so that we would be busy. I love our house but whoever built it originally did not intend on having company. Thankfully a dining room was added on by the second owner allowing for more space for entertaining. Having owned a restaurant I’m fairly good at using the available space so with a card table here and there plus the deck area we made do as company rolled in and out. I spent most of my time with my hands in something, either chopping or tossing or cooking. All in all it was really fun and a great memory to press into my scrapbook of my mother and I.

In the middle of the week I booked us four tickets on the Hornblower to take an hour cruise on the Sacramento River. According to the weather report the day before it was going to be overcast and possibly rain. In June? Great. I want to be a weather caster. They’re rarely on the money and they get paid well to be wrong on a regular basis. I would excel under such a job description. As it turned out we woke up to a day that was gorgeously warm, but not hot, with high puffy clouds floating by in a brilliantly 2blue sky. Yea for our team. We boarded the two-tiered ferry at a dock adjacent to Old Town Sacramento. For an hour we cruised lazily up and back along the river watching people floating by on inner tubes and boats moving in and out of the marinas. Glorious. Back on solid ground we tied on some plastic bibs and dug into a delicious meal at Joe’s Crab Shack under an umbrella on the deck. It was a helluva day at sea sir.

As per the usual in my life the week was not without mishap. Having trouble finding a place to blow my hair dry in the morning with both guest rooms occupied and Rick snoring within earshot of the upstairs bathroom, I finally found an available plug in the bathroom my mother was using. First I blew my hair dry and then planned to use the curling iron as usual. To say my mother travels with enough facial products to open her own store would be an understatement. Nearly the entire surface area around the sink was occupied with one jar or another. I left the iron to heat up and returned shortly to add a few curls. Not looking before I rolled the front of my hair around the rod I detected a burning plastic smell. Looking in the mirror I could see melted black goo on the iron now stuck in my hair. Fortunately, I worked the iron out before I was missing an entire row. Is there a black cloud that circles me every day, or is it just the universe getting a huge kick out of toying with me? Unplugging the iron, I pried the stuck hair apart and slowly worked the black stuff off the ends. Probably I left a quarter of the hair in front in the sink. I wonder if they sell just bangs for women? After the iron cooled off I got whatever was stuck on the metal off with an SOS but for two days black specks of plastic kept dropping out of my hair like parachutists on D-Day. A day in the life of Susie I would suppose.

Monday was their last day here. Nice to get to know my mother’s new roommate a little better and know she is in good hands at home. I will miss them but I must admit it is delightful to put my feet up and retire my apron for a day or two.

On that note, I will end for now and share this delicious take on summer squash. A friend gave it to me. To air her dirty little secret, she is a closet recipe tearer. You know the person who keeps clearing their throat in the doctor’s office or while under the dryer at the beauty salon all the while slowly tearing recipes out of magazines. I’m glad she copped this one. It is a whole new idea for summer squash and quite refreshing. Yum and yum.

Lemony Creamed Summer Squash

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow summer squash, shredded
2 large zucchini, shredded
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. dried dill
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
Salt and black pepper
Hungarian paprika

Melt butter over med.-high heat. Add onion and cook 2-3 mins. until tender. Add garlic cook for 1 min. Add squash and cook for 8-10 mins. or until all the excess water is released. Stir in flour and cook for additional minute. Remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream, dill, lemon juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with paprika.

Serves 4

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