Saturday, January 31, 2009


Our goal is to keep Dad alive so he can get to Brother's wedding, which is 3 weeks from today. His niece called him today, and that really lifted his spirits. She's coming for the wedding, and he's really excited about seeing her.
Far Away Sister is going to talk about how much her kids have changed, and how anxious they are to see him. We hope we can give him some things to live for, that will keep him fighting and alive until the wedding.
Sister took Mom over to see him today. Mom was excited, and Dad was emotional about seeing her. We're working to get back into the routine here. I'm hoping we can stay until we have to leave for the wedding, but depending on how things go with Dad.
I'm feeling very distracted, and finding it hard to focus on anything. Hopefully that will improve.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Home and Rehab

Dad was transferred to rehab yesterday, not because he was better, but because he was "stable." He still has about 50 pounds of fluid. He was just discharged from rehab on December 23, and he was delighted when they told him they'd give him the same room. I don't think he's going to get much better. I think his life is rapidly winding down.

I told the Unauthorized Borrower (UB) that we were aware of what had happened, and were angry and hurt, but also concerned about the situation that had led to this. As I suspected, UB was in deep financial trouble. UB had already decided to see financial and personal counseling. I told UB that the power of attorney was being changed, and that UB needed to talk to the rest of the family and make amends.

Dad's will is in the process of being changed. UB will not get an initial bequest that will go to others in about the amount of the loans. The rest of Dad's estate will be put in a trust to provide for Mom's care. The trust should provide for her care for the rest of her life, and have some left for additional bequests upon her death, which will be equal. Dad was delighted to know that Mom would be provided for and things would be put right. I think we were able to make some good come of a very positive situation, as the initial bequest will be very helpful to others who struggle financially.

Here is the official bit of dementia humor for today's post: We went over to say goodbye to Mom before we headed home yesterday. When we arrived, she was standing in the dining room observing things. Many of the residents hang out in the dining room through the day-- their private rooms are around a core that has the dining room and two lounge areas. Mom was wearing a long sleeved pull over, and had her arms in another one. She was pleased to see us. I gave her a hug (very one-sided, since her arms were trapped in the pullover) and asked her if she was putting it on or off. Of course she didn't answer, but I didn't expect her to. I tried to help her put the pull over all the way on, and she objected. So we talked to her, gave her hugs, and said good-bye with her arms in this pull-over. I told her she could give us hugs back if she didn't have her arms stuck in a pull-over, but it didn't seem to phase her. I told her Dad was moving to rehab and that someone would take her to see him today. I'm not sure how much she understood. But she seemed content.

My goal was to get home before dark last night, as I knew that some schools had been closed yesterday due to bad roads. We got home at dusk, so I was pleased. The state routes were fine, but the back roads had icy spots. Unfortunately we had to take some back roads to pick up the cats. It was good to sleep in my bed last night (at Dad's I get the recliner). I even got to sleep in until Sister called at 8:00. Dad has his cell phone with him at rehab, but he isn't answering our calls. Sister is going to go check things out. We think the ringer may have been changed again or something.

Today I have to get ready for worship, and we're going to have to get to the grocery store. We're out of milk and cat food. Both are essential. It's good to be home. In just over two weeks we head back up to Dad's for Brother's wedding. Cousins will be there from out of state, and it will be good to see them. We're hoping that Dad will make it to the wedding. Any time we have with him beyond the wedding will be a bonus.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Broken Trust

This week I discovered that a family member Dad had trusted to take care of his finances has borrowed massive amounts of money from Dad, and at least one of those loans wasn't authorized. When I made the discovery, I felt sick. Dad has been so concerned about his finances with the problems in the stock market. He was heavily invested in automotive stocks and has lost a great deal of money. He has been afraid he won't have enough to take care of his and Mom's needs.
Far Away Sister and I have been working hard to make sure Dad is protected. We told Dad today. He took it hard. He has gained 4 more lbs of fluid since he's been in the hospital. He thinks he's going to rehab tomorrow. We hope they get more fluid off of him before they ship him to rehab. At this point, we don't know if they'll be able to get the fluid off of him. We don't see him lasting much longer. We fear the betrayal may be the final straw, which makes it all the more important that we do everything we can to assure that he and Mom are protected. I'm supposed to be gathering documents tonight.
It's such a betrayal, and so painful. I know that this family member must be in a desperate situation to have done this, and I also worry about that situation. It's just been a very painful few days, to say the least.
I did have one wonderful belly laugh today, so I will share it. Now understand that sometimes I laugh to keep from crying, and I have found that sometimes the best way to deal with Mom's dementia is to laugh. Today I went over to get her to take her to the hospital to see Dad. She was very excited to see me, and jumped up and down with joy. I hugged her, and she burst into tears. She still knows how to lay the guilt trips on us. I took her into her room to get her ready to go, and she showed me a black sock she had on her bed. I took it from her, and realized there was something in it. I emptied it (which did not please her) and found two bracelets. I put the bracelets on her wrists and she was happy. Then I got her boots out of the closet and sat her down to put them on her. I could not get the first boot on. I kept pushing and pulling. I thought maybe her feet were so swollen it wouldn't fit anymore. I took a break to go to the bathroom. When I came out, she had the boot off and was holding a doorstop in her hand. I burst out laughing. Once the doorstop was out of the boot, it went on with no problem. She was pleased to see Dad, and Dad was pleased to see her.
Now I need to go back to sorting through documents and getting lists of assets and insurance policies. I did find Dad's will, so that was good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Day at the Hospital

Daughter and I trudged through the snow to the hospital this morning. There were multiple calls with Sisters today about various issues. Dad's kidneys are improving. They've restarted the blood thinner and a diuretic at a lower dose. He still has about 45 lbs of excess fluid he's carrying around. The kidney doctor assured me he would be able to get back on the diuretic and get rid of the fluid.
All of his heart valves are leaking some, but we need to wait for the cardiologist to tell us if it worse than it was in August when he had his last echo. Two are causing the most concern. I can't imagine them trying to repair multiple valves on him in his current condition.
The primary doctor was talking about sending him home. I told her absolutely not, he was too weak to live on his own and needed rehab. I think she was surprised, but set the wheels in motion. She's thinking maybe he can be transferred tomorrow. We'd prefer they get some of the fluid off first, but then, what do we know.
Far Away Sister is working on getting power of attorney and dealing with financial issues. Sister and I explored the possibility of moving Dad into the dementia unit with Mom. They probably won't accept him, as it's just assisted living and he is an insulin dependent diabetic. We're now exploring the option of getting home health care aides in for a couple of hours a day and getting someone to take him over to see Mom daily. That would enable him to stay in his apartment, and it would probably be cheaper. He's excited about that possibility.
In the midst of all of this, Daughter had one of her days of low blood sugars. I was getting ready to take her out to lunch when her blood sugar dropped into the 50's. She treated it, and it dropped down to 38. I went to the desk and they found me some orange juice to give her. I decided we'd eat in the cafeteria, as I didn't want to take her out in the snow with unstable blood sugars. Right before we left the hospital she dropped again. We treated again. After I finished meeting with the administrator about options for Dad, Daughter was back in the 50's again. While I'm pleased with what we accomplished today, I am also exhausted.
Tomorrow will be another long day. Hopefully I'll remember to take the power cord for my computer with me to the church tomorrow. It was a long day without it today.


Daughter will be pleased to hear that the workshop is closed today due to heavy snow. In fact, just about everything at home is closed today because of the snow. There is less snow here, but Sister says the roads aren't very good. It's still snowing.
Dad wanted us at the hospital bright and early this morning, but I was up too late and it's going to be a long day. We have much cleaning to do here in the apartment. We're headed back to Sister's this evening. I'm not sure when we'll get the cleaning done.
It is always exhausting to sit in the hospital all day. Unfortunately, Dad doesn't always hear and interpret things the way we do. He told me he'd had a leaky heart valve for years and that wasn't the problem. He didn't believe the doctor who said the leaking was getting worse. Yesterday he asked me if he couldn't have the surgery done in the hospital he's in currently. He thought a valve repair/replacement was minor.
We like for one of us to be there when the doctors come through, so we can hear the information for ourselves rather than relying on Dad's interpretation. He likes having us there. He was getting a roommate when I left last night, and that always makes it more interesting. There is one chair for visitors in the room he's in. Daughter will probably hang out in the family waiting room. She brought things to keep her busy, but it is still a hard day all around.
Now I'm going to have to insist she get up and get moving. We really need to get to the hospital. Dad wants me to bring him a large cup of good coffee. He'll be waiting for that coffee.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Hospital

I'm sitting in Dad's hospital room waiting for the cardiologist and nephrologist to come see him. Sister was here most of the day, but she just took Daughter and left. I'll go pick up Daughter and have supper with Sister and her family in an hour or so.
Apparently Dad has a leaky heart valve, and that and his bad kidneys are the reason he keeps going into Congestive Heart Failure. One doctor mentioned the possibility of repairing the valve, but I'm not sure he could handle the surgery at this point.
My plan is to head home on Friday. I kind of force the issue by only bringing enough medication to last until Friday. If we have to come back, we can, but I don't want to stay here indefinitely. Brother will be back from his business trip Thursday or Friday, so I should at least be able to get back home for a few days.
Dad's aide was telling us we needed to watch "The Notebook." Apparently it's about a man and his wife with Alzheimer's and his visits with her. I told her we were living it, we didn't need to see the movie.
The hospital has blocked many popular sites-- like MSNBC on their network. I may go through withdrawal these next few days.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Germinating Seeds

Last Fall I read a little piece in a journal that suggested that broken pots were an appropriate symbol for Lent (the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter). The idea intrigued me. I'm always looking for something new and different to do in worship during Lent. We have distributed nails, crosses, eraser coins, "Follow me" bracelets. Last year I did a series of conversations with Biblical characters who met Jesus along the way.

We have a woman who works in a greenhouse/nursery, and I asked her to begin collecting pieces of broken pots for me. I decided I would hand them out during Lent, but again, wasn't sure of much beyond that. I knew that if I gave this seed of an idea time to germinate, the Holy Spirit would work with me and I would come up with a meaningful Lenten series.

Today I spent some time talking to a colleague on the phone about Lent in preparation for a worship committee meeting tonight. I will distribute the pieces of broken pottery on the first Sunday in Lent (haven't yet determined how, but the worship committee will help me figure it out.) Sunday worship will focus on things like God as the potter and us as the clay, our brokenness, etc. On the Sunday before Easter, when we celebrate Palm Sunday and the Passion, I am going to have a large cross in the front of the church. I will also have extra pieces of broken pottery. I will invite everyone to come forward and glue their piece of pottery to the cross as we reflect on how it was our brokenness and sinfulness that created the need for Christ's sacrifice. I'll get one of our artists to perfect the mosaic during the week, and on Easter Sunday morning we will have a beautiful cross with the mosaic of our broken pieces of pottery. I'm excited, and looking forward to having the worship committee work with me this evening to perfect it.

Tomorrow morning I will head up to be with my Dad. According to the cardiologist, he has a leaky heart valve. That and his bad kidneys are the reason why he keeps filling up with fluid. They are going to check his pacemaker to see that it's working properly, and are considering turning up the speed on it to see if that helps. He is not a candidate for surgery.

That will be tomorrow's project. For today, I'm going to celebrate the way God is helping the seed of an idea germinate and grow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Always a Joy

I got to spend 3 hours with our youth tonight. They gobbled down sloppy joes and potato soup. We watched a movie together. We talked about prayer. We talked about wrestling. We made plans for the future. We laughed and we argued. I went over exhausted, and came home a little less exhausted. Those kids are such a joy, and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be with them. Sister was sending me text messages to keep me updated throughout the evening, and she called as the movie was winding down. I left the room to talk to her, and as I came back in one of the kids said, "Great discussion." I told them it was a nice try, and proceeded to lead a discussion that I thought was very good.
Dad is still in the ER waiting for a room. Sister said the ER was packed and short-staffed, and everything was taking longer than normal. Niece was very good, and took an extended nap. She did a running commentary while the EMT cleaned up and dressed Dad's knees, so he brought her in a Popsicle. She was quite delighted. Sister finally had to leave to get Niece home and in bed. Brother was supposed to be going up to the hospital, but hasn't arrived yet. Sister has begun the conversation with Dad about giving up the apartment and moving into assisted living. He's very concerned about money. As Sister and I agreed, he probably won't need care for very long.
It was nice to have the joy of youth group to balance out the stress of Dad's situation.

What Next?

I was making potato soup for youth group tonight and composing a post in my head about how exhausted the last few days have let me when my phone rang. Sister was calling from the parking lot of the restaurant where she had taken Dad for lunch. She wanted me to know he was on the way to the hospital via squad. His legs had given out on him coming out of the restaurant, and he had been too weak to even move his feet to help when the paramedics arrived. Sister thinks he looks jaundiced, too.

We had known since Monday that he was back in congestive heart failure. Brother had insisted that they weigh him at the doctor's office, and he had gained 40 lbs. They put him back on the high power diuretic and told him to come back in three weeks. He didn't know where Brother had put it when he brought him home, so he didn't start it until Wednesday afternoon. It hasn't worked. He still hasn't lost any weight. Brother was with him Thursday or Friday and said he was getting weaker. Sister was planning to take him to the doctor this coming Tuesday.

Brother leaves for a trade show early tomorrow morning. Sister is a teacher and has a 4 year old daughter. Sister wanted me to come right now, but I told her I couldn't. In the first place, I am too exhausted to safely make the drive. I need to go to youth group tonight, and I have several things on the calendar for tomorrow that I don't want to cancel. (Yes, I have two work events scheduled on my day off-- that's how crazy life has been.) At this point, my plan is to head up there Tuesday morning. Of course, my plans could change depending what they find when they get him to the hospital.

I have mixed feelings right now. Part of me is screaming, "See, this is why I can't move farther away." The rest is saying, "Well, if he dies now, that will be one less thing holding me to this area." He finished his last round of rehab December 23. He was back in his apartment for just over a month this time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Life Celebrated

Today we celebrated the life of Old Man. It was a wonderful celebration with a packed church, good music, laughter, tears, and comforting words. We probably had 150 stay for the meal following. We buried his ashes with military honors in a very cold cemetery. Old Man was a WWII vet, and had served in the navy.
Daughter helped the women with the meal and helped babysit. She wasn't too happy when I made her stay over at the church for the clean up. But she did, and I'm sure did well. I am exhausted. I really procrastinated on putting together my meditation. Once I sat down to do it, it fell into place quickly, but I didn't want to face the reality of his death. Some of the hardest funerals are the easiest. They're easy because I knew the person well and know exactly what Scripture to use and words to speak to celebrate life and bring comfort to the family. They're hard, because I am mourning, too. I will miss the individual. Old Man's death feels like another piece of closure on my ministry here in Tiny Village.
It will be interesting to see what God has in store for me next.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening

In 1 Samuel 3:9, Eli instructs young Samuel to say "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," the next time he hears the voice that has been calling his name. Those are the words I am saying today.

I didn't hear a voice in the night, but I have certainly been getting the message. Consider what has happened in the past week: There was the voice of the board last Sunday. There was the elder who has been ignoring and dismissing our computer problems, and then he went to talk to a consultant and came back to tell me all the things he had learned-- the things I've been telling him for a year and he's been dismissing. There are many in this congregation who no longer hear me. There were Daughter's issues at the workshop. Here in Tiny Village, there aren't any other options for her. Then there was the voice of Far Away Sister. Yesterday she again expressed her opinion that I should go nationwide with my church. She pointed out that I am seeking to move back to one of the most depressed areas in the country. There will be no guarantee that a church that calls me will be able to support me, and as the economy worsens the services that Daughter needs will probably be cut. She then offered to do the initial screening of potential churches for me. I accepted her offer.

The idea of expanding my search is a little scary, but I am beginning to believe that that is what God is calling me to do. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I have been focusing on smaller churches, the first church Far Away Sister suggested is larger, and I was ready to reject it right away. After I looked more closely at it, I decided maybe I have been limiting myself too much. I'm going to revise my dossier and begin to send it out to some of these places. We'll see what God has in store for me. It's exciting and scary.

Daughter and I met with the appropriate case managers and supervisors at the workshop this morning. The rule at the workshop is no touching. Handshakes and high fives are allowed, but nothing else. They were going to talk to J, and they were going to bring Daughter in so he could apologize. They were (again) going to remind the staff that Daughter needs access to her case manager at all times. I was a little frustrated because they were defending J some. They said he probably that Daughter liked it, because she giggled. I suspect it was the same hysterical giggling I saw when Birth Father ran his fingers along her body one day outside the court room when she was 3. I kept telling them that this was a big time trigger, and when it happened, she was 2 years old again, so she couldn't easily speak up.

She says she told him to stop a number of times and moved away from him to a different table, but he followed her and sat down next to her again, and he never listened when she told him to stop. I'm proud of how she handled herself. She had a narrative that she typed up and printed out with copies for everyone involved. She clearly laid out what had happened and asked them to keep her safe. She hasn't called today, so they must have resolved it to her satisfaction after I left.

Now I'm waiting for a phone call telling me they're ready for the committal service. I still have to finalize tomorrow's funeral and Sunday's worship.

The picture above is Cat and Kitten. I have no idea where Kitten's head is in that ball of fur. That is one of their favorite spots-- I have a cat window seat right behind my desk chair.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Warning: Angry Mama Bear

Daughter called me as I was finishing a hospital visit today. "Mom, I really need to talk to you as soon as I get home."

"Okay. I'm leaving the hospital right now, so I'll see you when you get home."

She walked in the door and came straight to my study, where she sat down and told me somethings that explained her emotional challenges since early December. It seems that one of the men at the workshop has been touching her and blowing in her ear and generally giving her lots of unwanted attention with strong sexual overtones. She has told him repeatedly to stop, but he hasn't. A supervisor saw it once, and told him to stop, but she moved on to something else and he started right back up. This is the same man whose parents once accused Daughter of phone harassment and threatened to press charges against her.

I immediately called and left a voice mail for her case manager, but as Daughter sobbed in my arms, I decided that isn't enough. She wants to go in and clean out her locker, because she doesn't feel safe at the workshop any more. I will be taking her to the workshop tomorrow, and we will be addressing it with the appropriate staff.

From the sound of things, the touching J was doing was very similar to the touching Daughter experienced in her birth home. In other words, her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is being triggered on an almost daily basis. It's no wonder we've been struggling so to find the right balance of medication.

The most frustrating thing is that I have explained numerous times to the workshop Daughter's history and her need to feel safe. I have told them about the things that trigger her PTSD. I have explained that when it is triggered, she is again 2 years old and unable to keep herself safe. I have told her that her mental health issues are a bigger issue than her cognitive issues. With the exception of her case manager, they still don't get it.

I really don't have time for this right now, as the ministry demands this week are exceedingly high. But as I repeatedly tell Daughter, her safety is my number one priority. So tomorrow my day will start at the workshop. They may end up wishing that I had decided I didn't have time to deal with it this week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Power of Faith

I received a phone call at 5:22 this morning. I knew what it was about before I picked up the phone. Whenever the phone rings in the middle of the night, I know it is a death, and I've run through the sick list before I even pick up the phone. It was Old Man's Daughter. She wanted me to know that her Dad had gone home. She asked me to call his sister, but to wait until after 7:00. So I just called OMS. She was on top of the world. "I'm rejoicing!" She had been up pacing at 5:30, and already knew. She asked me if she was crazy. I assured her she wasn't, and told her to hang on to that rejoicing as long as she could, because the grief would come. Her grief won't be for her brother, but for herself, because she will miss him. OMS was very close to her brother. She also has a very strong faith, so she will be fine.

I now have Old Man's funeral and a committal service for a woman who lived several hours from here this weekend. Her family would like me to arrange for music at the cemetery. That will be a challenge, given that the temperature is still in the teens. I'm going to have to reschedule an appointment I had about a wedding, and be very productive for the rest of the week. I was up at 4:00 with some intestinal misery, so instead of going to the hospital while one of the saints has surgery today I'm going to call her. If whatever I have is contagious, I don't want risk exposing her to it right before she gets a new knee.

Hopefully I won't spend too much time in the bathroom today and will be able to get a great deal done. For now, I'm going to join OMS in rejoicing that Old Man has gone home, and I'll be able to celebrate his life. He has worried for years that I wouldn't be here to do his funeral. I've always assured him that everything would work out. I was right.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Last night Daughter came to me sobbing, wanting to talk. She had just gotten off the phone with Boyfriend. It seems that he is not supposed to be in living where he is currently living, with his brother. I went on line and looked him up, and the address listed on the sex offender register is indeed different. He thought that the police were out looking for him, and Daughter said he was in hiding. She was very angry and disappointed.
She said he can't go to the workshop because he is a sex offender. I'm not sure that's true, as the case manager I talked to the other day hadn't indicated that would be a problem. I suggested she talk to a case manager about it today and give her his phone number. She said she couldn't, as she'd deleted his phone number from her phone.
I guess this romance is over. So much for the wedding plans. It was over within 2 days of their first date.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Earning Trust

Today Daughter wanted to show me that she was trustworthy, so she asked to stay home alone while I went to take communion to Old Man. Her plan was to watch Another Cinderella Story, which I had recorded for her last night. Since Old Man's home is small and crowded, and it's too cold for her to wait in the car, I agreed to her plan. I drove to Town to pick up Old Man's Sister (OMS) (she's recovering from a hip replacement and has no business driving or walking unaccompanied in this weather) and we headed over to see Old Man. We got there a little after 1:00, and Old Man's Brother (OMB) was supposed to be there by 2:00, so I decided to wait for brother to arrive before doing communion.

OMS is a retired nurse, and she was very concerned that OM get proper care. Her back is bothering her a lot right now, but she helped the aide from visiting nurses give him a bath while I hung out in the back room. When she finished that, she was exhausted. I told her to sit down, and she almost fell. I told her I was going to sit next to her and see that she remained seated. She wanted to go clean OM's nails, and went digging through her purse to find a file. I told her to give the file to OM's Grandson, as she didn't need to be leaning over his bed and further aggravating her back.

Unfortunately, OMB and his daughter, who was acting as his chauffeur, got lost in Big City, and so it was almost 3:00 before they arrived. About this time Daughter called, and I told her I'd call her back. So I celebrated the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and prayed with the family, and then headed home. OMB offered to take OMS home, so I didn't have to. Daughter was bored and frustrated that I'd been gone so long. I suggested she get her chores done. While it had taken much longer than I had anticipated, I knew she'd had the movie to keep her busy for most of that time.

When I got home she was in an ugly mood. I wasn't sure what the problem was until she came and asked me if she could go watch Another Cinderella Story. It turns out she came home and got on the computer, and hadn't watched the movie like she told me she was going to do. I pointed out that wasn't a good way to earn my trust, which of course turned her mood uglier.

She has now concluded that I'm never to leave her home alone again. She's 21 years old. She should be able to stay alone for short periods of time. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to trust her. Yesterday she was telling me again how she wants to be a foster parent. I pointed out that she needed to be able to stay home alone for a couple of hours if she wanted to be a foster parent. She no longer wants to be a foster parent-- until the next time she comes begging me to help her fill out an application now.

I keep hoping that some day things will click for Daughter, but with each passing year it's harder to maintain that hope.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Frustrating Meeting

Today I had the first board meeting of the new year. It was frustrating, to say the least. They set a goal of attracting new members and getting our young adults more active, and then they tell me that I shouldn't use any hymns other than the ones in our hymnal. The hymnal we use is very traditional, and doesn't have any new music in it. They tell me they want to sing different hymns, but refuse to give me a list of the hymns they want to sing. They tell me that they don 't see why the hymns should go with the theme of the worship service.
We also had a long discussion about when and how we should cancel worship. I told them that any decision had to be made before the organist left from the other side of the county to come to worship. I'm going to write an article in the newsletter encouraging people to use common sense and stay home when the roads are bad.

Then there is the whole discussion about how the cost of everything is going up and churches all around us are closing and maybe we should go to a part time pastor now before it's too late. They say this even as they acknowledge that the church is healthy and doing well. I don't know how they expect the church to continue to be healthy if they cut back on their ministry.

Okay. Enough complaining. I called Old Man's sister this evening to see if she would like to go with me to take communion to Old Man tomorrow. She said that he is now unresponsive. I'm glad I went yesterday when I was able to have a wonderful conversation with him. I'm going to talk to her tomorrow morning, and I'll make a decision then about whether I'm going to take communion or just go visit. If he is still unresponsive, I will go talk to him and read Scripture and pray with him. People can often hear even when they aren't responsive, and Scripture and prayer have often drawn responses from people who the family thought was unresponsive. His family will need me, too. I'm going to miss Old Man, and I'm grateful for the 12 years I've known him and for the faith he has shown as he approaches his home going.

I'm not going to worry about the board, I'm going to carry on with the ministry I love. My focus will be on God, who always has the final word, which is a word of victory.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Date and Old Man

Daughter had a date today. I drove her to Town, and she met her sex offender boy friend at the movie theater to see Mall Cop. She called Sister to tell her about her date. Sister wasn't sure I should let her see this guy. I pointed out that not much could happen in a crowded movie theater, and assured Sister that Daughter would not be hanging out alone at his house, and I wouldn't let him pick her up and take her anyplace. Daughter was afraid he had changed since she last saw him 2 1/2 years ago. I asked if she thought he'd grown a second head or something. That made her laugh, and she assured me he isn't an alien. I don't anticipate this romance lasting very long, and told Daughter that. I told her my hope was that they'd have some fun before it ended. Amazingly, she didn't argue and tell me they were destined to be married.
Today was the first time I'd been out since Tuesday. The roads weren't very good-- lots of drifting snow. I got behind a plow that was working on the shoulder of the road. What he was doing was stirring up the snow so the wind could blow it back across the road. He was making things much worse. If I had known how bad the roads were, Daughter wouldn't have gone to the movie.
While she was at the movie I went to visit Old Man. They were rearranging the furniture to bring in a hospital bed when I got there. It's a challenge, since they live in a trailer-- and it's a single wide. He will be in the living room. Both his daughters and one of his sisters were there today. His liver is failing, so he has become quite yellow. He asked me how long before he dies. I told him I keep being reminded that I can't predict life and death, but told him I didn't think it would be long. He seemed satisfied with that. We picked out Scriptures for his funeral-- his kids have been getting all the plans made. They have special music lined up already. I am glad that I will be here to do his funeral. I want to celebrate his life. We talked again about his salvation, and he told me who he was most looking forward to seeing. He is a man of deep faith.
I always consider it a great honor to accompany people as they move toward death. It is a very sacred time, and the conversations I have are wonderful. I remember one man who the family thought was very confused. One day I was visiting and he said, "Let's get going." I asked him where he was going. He sounded surprised that I didn't know when he responded, "Why to heaven!" Those words were a source of great comfort to his family.

Is It Serious?

Yesterday morning Daughter told me she had a headache. This sometimes goes with low blood sugars, so I had her check her blood sugar. It was fine. I decided it wasn't anything to worry about. Daughter is something of a hypochondriac. She also has a tendency to create physical symptoms to reflect emotional pain. I knew that the weather closings this past week had been very hard on her.
She got busy with other things and I didn't hear anything more about the headache. She even did an exercise video. Then, late in the afternoon, she came into my office, sobbing. "Mom, my head really hurts, I need help." She went on to describe other symptoms: numbness in her legs, blurred vision, and a painful stomach. Again her blood sugar was fine. I suggested she take some ibuprofen, and then I began the mental struggle. How bad was her headache? Was this something serious? How long should I wait before taking her to the urgent care? I go through this struggle several times a year. Other times I can tell it's nothing serious, but there are times when it seems the pain is very real. Could she have a migraine?
I finally decided to try a diversion. I had recorded A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum this week, so I took our homemade pizza up to the TV room and started the movie. At first, she was subdued, but as the movie went on, she began to laugh. By the end of the movie, the headache was forgotten, and I was relieved. I'm off the hook, at least until the next time she tries to convince me she is desperately ill.

Friday, January 16, 2009


We're in the deep freeze here. The temperature has dropped a degree since I woke up, it's now 15 below zero. I don't want to know what it is with the wind chill. Everything is closed again today. The trustees put a space heater in the back porch bathroom and aimed a fan at the crawl space under the back porch to prevent the pipes from freezing. The water I had running in the sink protected it from freezing, but the water line to the toilet is frozen solid. I haven't checked to see if I have water to the washing machine yet. I really should do some laundry, so I hope so.
Last night Daughter was complaining that her bedroom was very cold. It was 58 in my bedroom, even with the thermostat turned up to 64 downstairs. I'm sure her bedroom was colder, as it has a west exposure. I told her to make sure she wore a hat and socks to bed. She came in a few minutes later to say good night. I took one look at her and began to laugh. She was wearing two sets of pajamas, two pairs of socks, a knitted hat, and a hooded sweatshirt. She slept well last night.
With the workshop closing yesterday and the holiday Monday, this makes for a 5 day weekend for her. Fortunately, Monday's adjustment in her meds seems to be working, and she's doing a better job of handling the disruption of her routine.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The area schools and the sheltered workshop were closed today because of the snow, so that meant Secretary and I got to drag our kids to the office. She currently has 2 boys in therapeutic foster care with her. Days in the office with the kids are always interesting.
We sent them out to shovel snow this morning. It was very cold, so we told them they didn't have to finish it all at once, and when they got cold they should come in and warm up. I still can't believe it, but they were out there for well over an hour shoveling snow. They were cold, but proud of what they had accomplished. Daughter's blood sugar even cooperated! This is the second day in a row she has gone out and shoveled snow and stuck with the task until it was done. This is the first year she has been able to do that. She is going out with a respite provider on Sunday, and I will pay her generously for her work this week. She's also done a good job with her household chores.
Once they came in, J was put to work folding bulletins, O was folding inserts and placing them in the bulletins, and Daughter was putting together program books. J and Daughter are unbelievably slow about their work, and O is fast and careless. He put about half of the inserts in the bulletin backwards. All in all, it was a good day. Daughter was kept busy, and that is what is best for her. Secretary told her she wanted her to do the program books because she knew that she would be careful and do it right. Daughter ate up the praise, of course.
There are already delays posted for tomorrow morning. I will be very surprised if Daughter actually gets to go to the workshop tomorrow. Monday is a holiday, and Secretary and I decided today that we're going to work Monday and get the newsletter done so that we can take Tuesday off and watch the inauguration. We'll put the kids to work stapling and labeling newsletters. If we're lucky, there will be more snow to keep them occupied for part of the day, as well.

Is That Too Much to Ask?

An ongoing frustration for Daughter is her limitations. She has so many things she wants to do, and at this point in her life many of them are unrealistic. She wants to become a nurse, but doesn't have the mental capacity to do the classwork. She wants to adopt, but at this point isn't even capable of living independently. We have conversations about this regularly, and I always point out the things she needs to do now if she wants to achieve those goals at some point. We start with little things: keep your room clean, be responsible about your diabetes, learn to stay home alone for short periods of time, be responsible with money.
Last night I found her working at the computer on a letter. She was writing a letter seeking to become a foster parent, so she could go on to adopt. "You know, like you were my foster mother before you adopted me."
I told her that at this point, she couldn't be a foster parent, because I was the one who would have to be licensed and I didn't want to be a foster parent at this point in my life. She was frustrated, and I heard her yelling at God about how unfair it is that she can't do the things she wants to do. My heart breaks for her. She knows she's different, she knows she has limitations, and she longs for the life she can't have right now.
Shortly before Christmas I heard her say, "All I want for Christmas is to be normal. Is that too much to ask?" Fortunately, she didn't expect an answer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It Figures

After all of these dire forecasts for lots of snow that have turned out to be be false alarms, today we were only supposed to get a little bit. Except we're getting a lot, and they are now closing all schools at 1:00 this afternoon. They have a policy of not closing schools early, because it creates problems when parents aren't home from work yet.

I guess that determines my plans for this afternoon: worship planning here at home, no hospital visits today. If it was an emergency, I'd go, but this man is apparently in rehab, and I only found out when he wasn't at the nursing home yesterday when I stopped by to see him. I figure if it's not important enough to tell me about the hospitalization, it's not important enough to make the drive on bad roads.


It seems like the beginning of January we've been under a continuous weather alert. We've been cautioned to stay home because there are going to be blizzard conditions. We've been warned of ice storms that would result in major power outages. We've been cautioned that schools might be closed because of the bad weather. I've dutifully made sure that I stop at the appropriate stores whenever I'm in town so that we don't run out of life's necessities. Yesterday I made sure I had all the prescriptions we'd need for the foreseeable future.

Currently we have a wind chill warning and a winter weather advisory for 2-5" of snow in effect. Yesterday they were telling us we were going to have a blizzard. Now about a month ago we did have an ice storm , but other than that it's been a rather mild winter, despite all the warnings, alerts, watches, and advisories. We have received maybe 3" total of snow. I'm grateful that we have had a mild winter, and I'm tired of all the dire warnings that have turned out to be false. I understand the feeling of the villagers in the story of the boy who cried wolf.
The uncertainty of whether or not the workshop will be open is hard on Daughter. Each night she goes to bed expecting a delay or cancellation. The first thing she asks each morning is if the bus is on a delay. Today they were running on time, except they were 25 minutes late getting here. Daughter finally came and stood in the vestibule as she waited, which is smart given that the temperature is in the single digits.
As I write this, it's snowing. I had intended to go to City this afternoon for a hospital call. Depending on how much snow we actually get, that may not be wise. I'm ready for spring.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

More White Pills

Yesterday I took Daughter to Big City to see Psychiatrist. I knew there would be a medication change, as Daughter has been complaining about voices again. She's also had zero frustration tolerance and insomnia. She is now back on trazadone to help her sleep. When she started on the depakote, she wasn't supposed to need the trazadone anymore, and for a while, she didn't. Psychiatrist's first priority is always correcting her sleep problems before she considers any other changes. We go back in a month.

I started her on a low dose of the trazadone last night. Psychiatrist said she would only need a low dose at first, because she is so sleep deprived it wouldn't take much to get her to sleep. Eventually we may have to increase it to the level she was at before. Last night Daughter slept. She didn't wake me up at 5:30 this morning to tell me she'd made me breakfast. Hopefully this will work for a while, at least. The good news is that Daughter told me about the voices early on this time, so she didn't need to be hospitalized. Of course, she's back on another white pill. I asked, though, and Psychiatrist changed the way she prescribed her abilify, which eliminated one white pill.

I never thought Daughter would be on this much medication. Yet even with all the heavy duty mediation she's on, she's chipper and alert. I look at them all and wonder what we could eliminate. I've yet to figure anything out. I'm grateful that there are medications that can keep the voices away and slow her mind down enough that she can sleep at night. I'm grateful that there are things that can give her some control over her temper, so that the slightest frustration doesn't trigger an eruption. I'm grateful that Daughter is standing out on the front porch waiting for her bus singing and dancing. I'm also very grateful for my insurance and her medicaid, which make it possible for me to provide her with the medications that enable her to function.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Mystery

When I came back from town today, someone had shoveled a path from the back porch to the garage. Daughter had taken care of the front steps and walk, which are more treacherous and get more use, but the back steps hadn't been touched. There wasn't that much snow, so I hadn't been too concerned about it. I thought it was nice, though, that the steps had been shoveled. When I unlocked the back door, I discovered that the deadbolt had been locked. So whoever had shoveled the steps had also been in the house for something. It's fairly common knowledge that there is a key to the back door in the unlocked garage.

I don't know why someone went into the house. The church owns the house, and the trustees met last night. I had told them that the back porch toilet froze during the last real cold snap with strong winds. Maybe they came over to see if I really did have the baseboard heaters turned up all the way like I told them I did. It's supposed to get very cold again this week, so maybe they decided they needed to check out the situation and come up with a solution before the deep freeze returns.

At least the back porch and kitchen weren't too messy this time. There are times when I don't want anyone to see that part of the house. One of the good things about living in a house owned by the church is that when something goes wrong, I can just call the trustees to come fix it. One of the frustrating parts about it is that people invade my home without my knowledge or consent.

When I came home, I noticed I had a message on my answering machine. I thought maybe someone was calling to tell me why they needed access to the house. Nope. It was a woman wanting to set up an appointment for a wedding.

It's possible that someone will tell me why they were in the house, like happened last summer. I may find out when some solution appears to the frozen back porch. Or, I may never know. You'd think, though, that the unexpected invasions would be enough to make me a better housekeeper....

I Don't Want Breakfast at 5:30

My alarm goes off at 6:00 and 6:15. I'm normally up by 6:30. On Mondays (my day off) I generally get up a bit later, though usually by 7:30. So this morning I'm in bed, snuggled up with 2 cats warming my feet and sound asleep, when I hear a voice.

"Mom, I made you breakfast."

"What time is it?"


"I don't want breakfast at 5:30."

"Well I made it and you have to eat it."

So it's 6:00 and I'm up. I've eaten some delicious scrambled eggs (with ham, cheese, and Italian seasnoning) and some mixed fruit. It was good. There were only 2 eggs left, so Daughter decided I should have the eggs and she'd have her regular breakfast. I told her she could substitute the mixed fruit for her oatmeal. I should have told her she could have half the eggs. But I'm not coherent at 5:30 in the morning. That's why I don't get up at 5:30 in the morning.

I'm up now. Daughter is in a chipper mood, which is a nice change. The workshop is on an hour delay because of the weather. I wonder if I can sneak back to bed now....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Preaching to Myself

As often happens, the sermon that I finally preached this morning spoke powerfully to my own struggles with Daughter right now. So, I sat her down this afternoon and we came up with a plan. One of the things we talk about quite a bit is working as a team. She doesn't have to deal with diabetes alone, we're a team. It took a while for her to find her cooperative attitude so we could have our conversation, but she found it and we did.
All the temptations have disappeared, so she's not going to be able to go in and sneak sweets. We agreed that I will download her meter daily so she can't lie to me, and each evening we'll sit down and look at blood sugars and see what worked and what didn't.
We also came up with a menu and chore schedule for the week. It will be posted on the refrigerator. Daughter feels more secure when she can go look at the schedule and see what's going to be happening. She needs that structure, and lately I haven't been doing as good a job of providing it. She picked out all the meals for the week. I wrote a list of possibilities, and then she chose what she wanted to have and the days she wanted to have it.
She's now upstairs cleaning her bedroom and singing, so I think that she's feeling a little less stressed. We see Psychiatrist tomorrow afternoon. She asked me when she'd see her again. She says the voices are back. I'll let Psychiatrist sort it all out tomorrow. That's why she earns the big bucks.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Daughter is a liar. There, I said it (or wrote it, as the case may be). It's one of the few symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder that still linger. We work on this constantly. It drives me crazy. There are times when it's crazy lying: I look at the dirty floor and she insists she mopped it, even as I point out the muddy footprint on it. That kind of lying is frustrating. There are other times, though, when it is dangerous.

Yesterday, during her appointment with Therapist, she finally acknowledged what I'd known: she's been sneaking extra food since we got back from Christmas. This lying is scary, because I was ready to increase her insulin, because she was consistently running high. She kept insisting she hadn't been into anything. She was lying. She begs me to trust her. She tells me she wants to earn my trust. She says all the right words. I want to believe her. I want to trust her.

Yesterday at supper, she told me something even more frightening: she's been lying to me about her blood sugar readings. The numbers she's been telling me aren't the real numbers. I watch her check her blood sugar. Then, instead of telling me the number that's on her meter, she makes something up.

She keeps reminding me that she's 21 years old, and that I need to back off and let her make her own decisions. She tells me she needs more independence. Yet she can't handle the responsibility that she does have. She can't give me accurate information so I can help keep her alive. We talked about why she lies to me. She says she's afraid to tell me the truth. We talk about what happens when she tells me the truth: nothing. I don't yell. There aren't consequences for getting into extra food. There aren't consequences for the lies, rather, I thank her when she finally tells me the truth.

We've done this battle for years. How do you tell professionals working with your child that she's a liar? Yet they need to be warned. I've always explained that she's not reliable, and they should check out her stories with me, and I will check out her stories with them. I'm tired of her being unreliable. It's very difficult to give her the kind of supervision that is necessary to catch her in the lies. There have been times when I've required her to stay in my line of sight at all times. I put the responsibility on her, but I still end up exhausted. I need space. Overall, though, I've discovered that for the most part all my efforts have done is helped her learn how to be sneakier. That definitely is not the lesson I had in mind....

Friday, January 9, 2009


On my calendar, Daughter had an appointment at 8:00 this morning with Therapist. I overslept this morning, and Daughter awoke me so I just had time to dress and briefly check the weather report-- we're under a winter storm warning with around 10 inches of snow expected. When we got to the office, Therapist was with someone else, according to her calendar, the appointment was for next Friday morning. After a brief consultation, we decided I'd bring Daughter back at 11:00.
So, Daughter and I headed to Walmart, where I bought milk and bread so we'd have what we needed and I wouldn't have to go back out in the snow. I then dropped Daughter off at the workshop and went to McDonald's, where I worked on my sermon and drank diet coke while I watched the snow begin to fall. When I picked up Daughter, she slipped and fell in the parking lot. I considered the irony as I looked at her sobbing face down in the snow. I got her into the car, and she complained loudly about her knee. She wanted to see Therapist, but thought maybe she needed to go straight to the hospital. We finally decided to try seeing Therapist, and they helpfully provided ice for her knee. I'm glad we did, as she finally confessed to the extra food she's been eating, and Therapist again helped her come up with better coping mechanisms. We also were able to ease her fears about a conversation she'd overheard between Sister and me.
She began to calm down about her knee. When I saw she wasn't limping, I decided she didn't need an x-ray, quite to her dismay. She has broken her ankle twice, and I reminded her that both times I knew it was broken right away and got her to the hospital. We are now safely home, the groceries are put away, and Daughter has calmed down. The snow has slowed down (at least temporarily), but we're ready to handle whatever comes our way. The roads between Tiny Village and Town drift quickly, so it's best to stay home when we get the kind of snow they're predicting. Even with drifting, I prefer snow to ice.
Now I need to go work some more on the sermon ideas that I developed at McDonald's. There's something to be said for working on my sermon in a place like that, surrounded by people. It keeps me grounded, as I consider what the passage means for their lives. How is it Good News for them? What could have been a very frustrating day, turned out to be a worthwhile one.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Even Cat

The other day I realized that even Cat hates change and needs his routine. I had come home and set up my laptop on the kitchen table so I could monitor food while working on the computer. The next morning. I sat down again at the kitchen table to work on the computer.

Cat was not happy. Cat is not allowed on the kitchen table. He began nudging my arm. He jumped up on the chair next to me and pushed at me some more. Finally, I said, "Okay, you win," and picked up my computer. Satisfied, he led me into the study. I put the computer back on my desk, and sat down in my chair. He jumped up on the desk, and nestled in next to the computer. He was satisfied.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Potato Supper

Tonight the youth group sponsored their annual potato supper and led a prayer service. The proceeds from the potato supper will go to the Souper Bowl of Caring. The weather today wasn't cooperating, so I really didn't expect many people to show up. We have a strong wind and it's icy out. I was amazed. We ended up with almost 50 people coming out to support the kids.

The kids all came through with the items they were supposed to bring, with one exception. They also did a good job with their parts for the prayer service. There was only one minor glitch-- we had a new oven installed in the kitchen yesterday, and the potatoes I put in that oven weren't cooking. I finally turned it up to 450 and moved some of the potatoes to the old oven to finish up. The women spent well over $1,000 on that new oven, so they are not happy this evening. I'm just glad I noticed the problem in time to make the adjustments necessary to get the potatoes done.

I brought home 17 left over potatoes, which I will cut up and put in the freezer. They will go in the potato soup I'm making for our youth group meeting at the end of the month. We're going to eat sloppy joes and potato soup and watch and discuss the movie Flywheel

Tonight was fun. I enjoy our youth, and I enjoy the opportunity to sit around and visit with people over a meal. We have a really good group of youth right now. Tonight is one of those nights when I celebrate God's call to me to ministry.

The Book

For a number of years I've used a wonderful resource called Prepare to help with worship planning. It has all the lectionary Scriptures in it for each Sunday of the church year, hymn suggestions, and space for notes. Several times a year a colleague and I take time to make worship plans together. We read through the Scriptures, share ideas, challenge theology, underline key verses, make notes, and choose the Scriptures we'll focus on each Sunday and come up with a sermon title. If we find helpful resources, we make notes of them, referring to a page number in a book, or stapling an article to the appropriate week. Each week I open up The Book and find a starting point for my worship planning for that week.

Yesterday, I went over to the office empty handed. I could not find The Book. Daughter had looked (she is well-trained on the importance of The Book), I had looked, and we hadn't been able to locate it. I was lost. Secretary needed worship information. I knew the title and Scriptures because I'd put them in the newsletter, but I had nothing else, and wasn't sure how to proceed without my book. I finally called my colleague, and she helpfully read me the notes she had written down for this Sunday. I finished the bulletin.

Secretary asked me if I had a worship schedule put together yet for February, as she was beginning work on the February newsletter. I had another moment of panic. How could I make plans without The Book? I came home and looked a few more places for it. I returned to the office empty handed, and shifted my focus to other things, so I wouldn't have to deal with the horrible sinking feeling I felt every time I considered the possibility that it was permanently lost.

The truly frustrating part was that I've been more organized lately, so I couldn't figure out where it could have gone. There were times when I've had piles of papers and books spread all over the house, so there were plenty of hiding places for The Book. That is no longer the case. I tried not to think about life without The Book.

This morning I decided to check my brief case one more time. I thought I'd left the book here when we'd gone to visit family, but there, in a pocket that I never use, was The Book, filled with notes and fat with the resources I've stapled to various pages. Now I have a better appreciation for the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin. Rejoice and be glad with me, for The Book was lost, but now it is found, and I no longer have that sinking period in my gut.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Rage

Daughter raged last night. She even came up with a new accusation: I'm stealing her SSI money, which is rightfully hers. I was foolish enough to point out that her SSI money didn't cover all her expenses, so when I went to bed last night I found the new dress and shoes I bought her for an upcoming wedding on my bed.
The trigger for the rage? She got caught. Over the years we have had numerous conversations regarding the care and storage of CD's. I've explained why they need to be kept protected in their cases. I've told her she isn't allowed to take mine without permission. I've told her that when she listens to one of mine, it needs to be returned to its case immediately. I've pointed out that skips on CD's are caused by her abuse of them.
Last night I saw that she is currently storing a stack of CD's loose in a plastic box. I asked her about them, and why they weren't in their cases. She said it was a new way she was storing CD's. I told her there better not be any of mine in there, getting damaged. She assured me they were all hers. I looked through them, and pulled out 8-10 that were mine. I told her they needed to go in their cases immediately. I never raised my voice; I didn't give consequences. She knew, though that she had messed up one more time, and she raged. In addition to stealing her SSI I'm destroying her life and forgetting that she is 21 years old and able to make her own decisions. I can't control her. She called her case manager's voice mail and left a message, and informed me she would be moving out today, because I couldn't treat her this way.
This morning she apologized. Maybe tonight she'll put my CD's away where they belong. Maybe I'll even be brave and talk to her again about respecting my property and caring for her own properly. I wish it would make a difference. Her rage came out of her guilt, and as guilty as she felt, within the next few weeks she will once again be abusing my CD's. When I discover it, and point it out, she will once again rage. Round and round we go, where we stop....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Planning Ahead

Daughter has a history of quick romances. She starts "going" with a guy, they discuss marriage, and within a week or two, they've broken up. Part of it is maturity. Emotionally, Daughter is much younger than her physical age. Part of it is her history. She has a very difficult time trusting anyone, especially anyone of the male persuasion. There are still times she has difficulty trusting me, and she's been with me for over 18 years now. A couple of years ago I sat her down and told her that she needed to be dating a man for a year before she began talking about marriage. I told her that I recommended this for all the couples I work with in premarital counseling. She decided this was a good rule, especially after she watched friends jump into marriage very quickly.

Before Christmas, Daughter reconnected with her prom date via the internet. They went to a couple of proms together, but never had any other dates. They were both in the special ed program at the regional career center, but a significant distance separated them, and neither drove or had much interest in more than going to the prom. She said she was through with him after his prom their senior year, when he spent all night playing poker with his buddies and ignored her. They graduated in 2006, and haven't seen each other since.

C had aged out of the foster care system, having spent some period of time in a treatment center near here. I heard, through another foster mother, that he had a fast food job and an apartment, and it wasn't going well. I won't go into my rant about how wrong it is for the system to decide that because he had graduated a developmentally handicapped man with issues that had kept him out of a family was suddenly capable of living on his own without supervision.

Over a year ago I saw in the paper that C had been charged with having sex with minors. He was sentenced to prison and labeled a sex offender. I showed the article to Daughter, and she carried it around for a while. I was kind of surprised when she reconnected with him, as she had been very disgusted with him when all of that happened.

They have had several phone conversations. He didn't know the girls were underage, and regrets what happened. Given his limitations, this is a possibility. He asked Daughter to go with him. She agreed. I pointed out to her her that he was used to having sex, so he would likely pressure her, so she needed to be prepared. They have yet to see each other, though they talk about getting together occasionally.

Today she came home and announced it was January, and a new year. I had been aware of this. Then she explained to me the import of this reality: that means that in December of this year it will have been a year, and she and C can start planning their wedding. I tried to explain how far off December is, and that they've yet to see one another, but quickly stopped. Between now and December she may have several other boy friends. For today, I'll let her hold on to a dream. In November, if they're still together, I'll worry.

In the mean time, is it evil to admit I took a perverse joy out of answering family members' questions about Daughter's current boy friend by announcing he was a registered sex offender?

Sleep, Interrupted

I was exhausted by yesterday evening. Daughter goes to bed before I do, so she should have been sound asleep by the time I went to bed last night. I got my gear in place-- my cpap mask (for sleep apnea) and my herb filled black bag I put over my eyes to block out the light, and quickly fell asleep.

"Mom, my stomach really hurts bad."

"Take the bucket in and put it by your bed."

"Mom, my legs are hurting."

"I'm sorry."

"Mom, my whole body hurts and I think I'm going to be sick."

"Come sleep in my recliner."

Lots of rattling and noise.

"Uh, oh."


"I can't find the bucket. Oh, here it is."

I have no idea what time all of this was going on, because I never moved enough to look at the clock. Somehow, I managed to drift back to sleep between each interruption. I just know that by the time she was silent I had resigned myself to the idea that she was coming down with the flu and my hopes of a peaceful day today were gone. So, when the alarm went off at 6:00 this morning, I turned it off and went back to sleep.

"What time is it?"


"I've got to get moving! I feel much better today, Mom. Sorry I woke you up so many times last night."

Daughter is now out waiting for the bus. She was disgustingly chipper this morning. As soon as the bus comes, I'm going back to bed. It is my day off, after all. I have to get to the drugstore today, but other than that I intend to relax. Maybe with some extra sleep I will feel ready to tackle the world when my work week begins tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jumping Back In

No more time to be sick! I jumped back into things this morning with worship and Sunday School. It was good to see everybody and get back into the routine. I'm still a little weak, and sat through some of the hymns, but I made it through. We had some visitors this morning, which was nice, and they plan on becoming regulars, which is even nicer.

Tonight I have youth group, so I intend to take it easy this afternoon. Daughter is off to bowling with a respite worker. They're also going to stop and get milk and pick up prescriptions so I don't have to make a trip to town today or tomorrow. I intend to take a nap this afternoon.

I also need to figure out the prayer service for Wednesday so I can assign parts tonight, and I promised them some weird games at tonight's meeting, so I need to come up with some of those, as well. There are a couple of websites I can check out, or I may pull something out we've done before.

I'm looking forward to catching up with all the kids tonight. Like Daughter, I like getting back into the routine. I'm already compiling lists in my mind of things I need to get done this week. I probably should get them recorded someplace before I forget. I've already scheduled two appointments for the week. It's the beginning of the year, so we need to get all the annual reports written and ready for the congregational meeting. It will be a busy week, and I'll love every minute of it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I don't know if it's food poisoning or the stomach flu, but yesterday afternoon I got sick. I made 5 or 6 really gross trips to the bathroom, sleeping between trips, trying to force myself to drink something, and reassuring a totally freaked out Daughter. She kept asking if she should call for help. What can anyone do? I kept assuring her I would be okay. She kept me supplied with diet sprite and water, and cleaned out my bucket for me.
By 3:00 this morning my back was killing me. I'd spent too much time lying down, and had not taken my ibuprofen (or any other meds last night). She got me the heating pad and I moved to the recliner. Around 9:00 this morning I asked her to make me some toast and tea. I had decided it was time to try to eat something. She brought me up cold bread with butter smeared thickly on it. She claimed she'd toasted it. She made the tea in the microwave in a stainless steel commuter mug. I'm amazed there wasn't a fire. But the water certainly wasn't hot. She went back down and returned with burned toast and hot tea.
Her patience has run out. She wants to go to town. I don't think I can make it down the stairs, let alone to town. A little while ago I decided I needed to take my ibuprofen to see if that would ease my back pain. Not wanting to take it on an empty stomach, I asked her to make me a bowl of instant oatmeal. She heated up the water for 23 seconds and dumped the oatmeal it. It was lukewarm, and definitely not cooked. I sent her back to redo it.
I'm trying to be patient, but I still feel like crap, and her passive aggressive stuff is getting to me big time. There are times when being the single parent of a special needs kid is no fun at all. This is one of those times.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


We arrived home at about 8:00 this evening. The first project turned out to be the only project. I can't believe the number of hours I spent on it. He had lots of medications on that table, and dealing with them led to dealing with all the medications he had hidden in a cabinet. I think I ended up throwing out a garbage bag full of medications. The oldest ones had expired in 2004. I never could get him to work with me on it. He just couldn't face it. It's probably a good thing, as he would never have allowed me to throw away as much as I threw away.
I discovered that somehow during his last hospitalization two of his heart medications were discontinued. I left them on top of the homecare notebook with a note asking the nurse to follow up to see if he should start them back up. Daughter found his missing insulin pen in the refrigerator. I gave it a new home and threw away all the insulin vials that had been open for an undetermined amount of time. I gave him a lecture on only using one vial at a time and the importance of throwing vials away after one month of use.
I completed 5 loads of laundry for him today. I gave Brother and Sister assignments of things that still need attention. I took him over to visit Mom, who was struggling to change her clothes after wetting herself. She was out of Depends, so I went out and bought her more. Mom was covered with chocolate-- she has been pigging out on all the chocolate we gave her for Christmas. Dad took his cell phone over, so we called her brother who lives a very long ways away. She hasn't seen him in 3 1/2 years. He talked to her, and she responded appropriately. It was emotional for both of them.
This whole trip was emotional for me. Mom and Dad are both failing, and both are needing more care. It's getting harder to interact with Mom. Dad is weak, and I worry about how long he'll be safe in the apartment. Hearing my uncle thank me for allowing him to talk to his sister, telling me in a voice filled with emotion that it had made his year, brought all my feelings to the surface.
Daughter did fairly well. The whole trip was very hard on her. This morning she was being a bit difficult. I informed her that I was as anxious to get home as she was, and if she worked with me, we'd be able to leave sooner. Eventually she apologized and got to work. Her blood sugars have been all over the place the last couple of days, and I know that didn't help matters.
Now we're home. Tomorrow morning we will go get Cat and Kitten from the kennel. I have a great deal to accomplish before Sunday, so once we get back I'll have to buckle down and get busy. I'm looking forward to getting back into the routine. The next few days will be especially difficult for Daughter. She starts back at the workshop on Monday, and the wait for Monday will seem very long for her. Once she settles back into her routine, I suspect her blood sugars will become more stable. We're both ready to return to that comfortable routine.

Happy New Year!

Daughter spent Tuesday night at Brother's, and I ended up leaving her there all day yesterday. She was anxious and missing me, but she managed very well, especially when I consider that she had several of her stubborn low blood sugars. Cell phones are a wonderful invention!

Yesterday evening I joined her over at Brother's. Dad wasn't feeling good, and we decided it would be too much for Mom. Brother made the traditional beef stroganoff from the Christmas leftovers. After supper, we continued a family tradition of almost 40 years, celebrating a neighbor's birthday. K is a widow with no children, so the tradition began shortly after her husband died. Brother may not have even been born the first time we did it.

For a number of years Mom decorated a snow man cake for K's birthday. It was a stand up snowman, and the decorations were always intricate and time consuming. Brother took it over a number of years ago. When I was arriving, he was hard at work decorating it while Daughter slept and Girlfriend watched the two young daughters of some of their friends. Shortly after I arrived, the cake collapsed. He said he wasn't surprised-- one of the two cakes that are secured together with straws and toothpicks had still been warm when he started decorating, and it had been sagging. The picture above is the cake that was presented to K. We had a wonderful laugh over it. Oh, and the candles were wrong, she's only 92, not 93. She still lives in her own home and drives.

K and I partnered up for bid euchre, and after suffering from bad cards Monday night, were able to avenge ourselves nicely last night. It was a fun evening. Daughter watched movies and fell asleep on the couch.

Daughter and I are finishing up things around Dad's apartment and packing to head home today. Reflections on last year and hopes for the new year will come later.