Slice of the Family Reunion

I promised you more. You can have it in slices.

For the past few years my mother and father have been gradually going deaf. My husband lost a good part of his hearing many years ago after spending four years cuddled up to the boiler of a ship in the Navy. My father doesn't think he has a hearing problem, but misses things and my mother has gotten to the point she finally got hearing aids a few months ago. Hubs has been checked and the kind of deafness he has can't be fixed with hearing aids. So, all in all I've learned to deal with the people in my life who are losing their hearing.

My husband is funny with his. He will gradually turn up the television as it gets more exciting or as the movie changes from a loud scene to a soft conversation. I have been known to have to repeat those conversations in a movie theater to him (yes, we're one of those people)… but we rarely go to movies anymore and instead I just listen to him gradually dialing up the volume. One night when he was in the livingroom and I was in the bedroom trying to watch something different, the volume got to be so loud that I turned my TV up as loud as it would go and waited to see how long it would take him to realize it. The dogs were barking and going nuts and finally he came in laughing and admitted it must have been a little loud.  He also is notorious for 'faking' it. I'll say something to him and he's been known to reply, "I love you too". That's all well and nice, honey, but that wasn't what I said.

In living with these people I've learned to project my voice. Not shout, just enunciate and put a little extra push in there to get my words across.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. Remember the family reunion? Yeah. 700 miles round-trip. About half-way down there (Missouri, if anyone cares) my mother announces she hasn't put in her hearing aids yet, but she had better before we get there. Mm'kay. Why didn't she put them in at home? I'm so not understanding this.

Then, as we were leaving to come home I told her to call Dad to let him know we were on our way. She popped out one hearing aid saying she can't talk on the phone with them. She made her call, I kept driving. About 50 miles down the road she suddenly realized she hadn't put it back into her ear and now can't find it. She's checking around her body, her seat, the 300-count box of kleenex she brought with, the floor. No luck. Finally I pulled over into a driveway and had her carefully get out of the car while I proceeded to search the whole car, seat, kleenex, etc., again. In one last move, I put the seat all the way forward so I could get a good look underneath. There it was, caught in the seat track. Undamaged – how, I'll never know.

I came home not only exhausted from the trip, but the never-ending words coming out of my mother and the "projected voice" replies I had to make. I don't understand why some people must fill every bit of silence. I am perfectly comfortable traveling for long distances without having to fill the silence with … filler. Stories I've heard before (repeated at least twice during the trip). More stories about people I don't even know. Discussion about my Dad until the topic had been beat to a pulp and run under the bus.

What probably flabbergasted me the most was last week when I went to see my parents and in talking to Dad about the family reunion how much of it my mother missed. I wasn't sure if she just didn't hear or just didn't understand. I'm guess she didn't hear it. She faked her way through it pretty good, though. 

Remind me of this the next time I volunteer for this duty, okay? 

Monday Musings

  • George Carlin died. I'll always remember the skit he used to do about the four letter words. He was a genius. He'll be missed.
  • Hubs told me last night about the horrific death of Scott Coletta. He was a professional drag racer that had a terrible accident over the weekend. I won't link the video, but it can be found on You Tube, if you want to see it. I watched it and can't imagine how it felt for the people who were there watching. Hubs had a friend who was on the Coletta crew for many years and had heard lots of stories of their generosity. I'm sure this has stunned the world of professional drag racing.
  • It hasn't rained now for a week. We had a few sprinkles on Saturday night, but it has basically been dry. I noticed yesterday that maybe I should be giving my gardens some water. That seems weird with as much rain as we've gotten. I sincerely hope the big-shot climatologist at Iowa State is wrong. He claims we're in for a drought now. Hubs seems happier now that he's been able to get back and do some field work. Let's just hope the corn that's left in the fields does well, 'kay?
  • Thank you all for your comments. I've been bad lately about responding to them in any way, shape or form. I am reading them and am touched by many of your words of wisdom and kindess.

Mentally Exhausted

My brain hurts.

Yesterday I addressed two things that had been on my mind head-on. The first, a visit to a friend that I haven't seen since October. Being the anti-social creature that I am that would not be too big of a surprise… except for the fact she only lives about 3 miles away and really is a close friend. There for a time it would be nothing to be emailing each other at least three times a day, but lately it's been closer to once every three or four weeks and then just hitting the "high" points. I did tell her, and meant it, that she is one of those friends that even when you haven't talked for ages or seen each other, when you do get together it feels like you just saw each other. Not that things haven't happened to us both (my gosh! she painted her house and got a new car!)… but that we're just comfortable with each other. She's one of those people who tell you how it is straight up and doesn't mince words. I appreciate that.

Unfortunately, after catching up on all the things going on in my life she shared with me some terrible things going on in hers and although I can do nothing but sit on the sidelines and offer support, I still felt awful for not being there for her. I can't tell it here, as it isn't mine to tell… but suffice it to say it is not life-threatening, just life-altering.

Then I left her house and drove to see my parents. Specifically, I went to confront my father. (Slight re-cap: my parents lived in the neighboring town my whole adult life until they retired and moved to the "sticks" in Arkansas. Three years ago last winter they had a devastating house fire that destroyed everything they had and after some thought they moved back up to Iowa to the neighboring town.He had hip surgery a few months before the fire, and his other hip done immediately before the fire – and has never really gotten his full range of motion back after the second surgery.) After talking to him a few months ago and getting him to admit he was depressed, then getting him on some medication for it, he appeared to be doing better. He was starting to move around more, get more exercise, and most importantly – he'd quit snapping and growling at my mother. However, since November, he's been falling more frequently. The first couple could be chalked up to alcohol intake. But the falls he's had in the past couple of months can't be. My parents quit drinking. (Probably too little, too late… but I'm glad they have.) He falls and he won't let anyone help him get up, so he may lay there for 15-20 min until he can get himself up. He's 6'5" and it is a long ways down and a long ways back up again. I've been concerned and didn't know if he was getting dizzy or light-headed, or if it was just a matter of his balance – since his posture is now so bad from the surgery and his lack of movement. He's very stooped over. My mom has tried to get him to use a walker or cane (they have both from when he had surgery) but he is too proud and won't do it. So she says he does nothing. He sits in a chair all day, or sleeps… and doesn't do anything but watch TV. He will ride along with her to the store (sometimes) but he won't go in. He refuses to go to their good friends' house or go out to eat with them, although they beg and plead and have even gone to the house and scolded my dad and mom for not getting out of the house and doing things. My mom will go with them occasionally, but he will not. I knew it was bad when he wouldn't come for my son's wedding. He loves my kids and used to love a good party… to not even come for the ceremony was a red flag.

The kicker came when we went on the trip Saturday. Mom told me then that dad had some blood work done a couple of months ago and his PSA test was high. The doctor immediately set up an appointment for him with a specialist. Mom told me he cancelled the appointment.

So I went to my parents' house yesterday. I told my dad that there were many ways to commit suicide and I felt he was doing just that… passively. I talked to him about using the walker or cane around the house and moving move, getting stronger, then he wouldn't have to use it outside and he would be more confident and feel like doing more. I suggested he start physical therapy. I insisted that my mother re-schedule the specialist appointment – and told him if he didn't let her take him, that I would be taking him. I got firm. I became The Mom.

I came home exhausted.

To be honest? I'm really glad my daughter is doing so much better. I'm glad my other kids are all doing well right now. I'm grateful the rain has stopped and Hubs has been able to get back into the fields. I'm blessed with feeling pretty good myself. I can only take so much at one time… and I feel my plate is full again. Bear with me. This is a major reason I've not been over to read your blogs and haven't been posting much. I'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other and when the day is done I just zone out in front of WoW or TV or spend time with my Hubs and critters. The words just aren't coming like I'd like… and that's okay. I really didn't want this blog to just be all about me whining… but it appears to be turning out that way.

More another day.

Fam-Damily

I have the coolest kids.

Yesterday morning I get a text from youngest daughter: "What are you having for dinner"

I replied: "I have a couple of steaks out to cook"

She says: "Expect company"

Me: "Let me know how many so I can get them out of the freezer"

I thought a minute and sent another text: "You know, your older sis has to go pick up her son at his other grandma's, your older bro has a cold, and your younger bro isn't a big steak eater, will probably want a burger"

A minute later the reply: "Lol. You're behind. They're all coming, even the grandson….and little bro will eat steak."

So about five o'clock youngest daughter showed up with groceries and started hustling in the kitchen and about an hour later the rest of the troups tromped in for supper. It was terrific. Thanks Em for all your hard work… and thanks to all you other kids for making your dad have a great Father's Day. He was thrilled. You like him! You really like him!

In other news: We're going on our third dry day. (Crossing fingers and knocking on wood.) There is a slight chance of rain on Thursday, otherwise it is looking like a dry week. The farmers are all getting ancy to get going… including Hubs. Here's hoping they get all the work done and the crops pull out of this flooding with some semblence of a good yield come fall!

Eldest daughter is improving every day. Yesterday at dinner she was back in fine form. She made a comment (that I can't repeat) and the whole family burst out laughing… Hubs just looked at her and said, "She's baaack!"  It feels that way more each day. What a blessing. Thank you every one who kept us in your prayers.

The family reunion? 700 miles of driving. My mother never stopped talking once. More on that later.

Happy Monday!

Why Can’t We Have a Happy Medium?

wc_flood

Tuesday. It was supposed to rain. Guess what? It rained. Wednesday. Dry. Amazing. Today. Rain this morning. Mid-day break, then heavy rain tonight with severe storm threat again. This is a picture of the race track my son usually races at on Saturday nights. They are usually parked behind those signs on the right-hand side. You know, where the big pool of water is? Yeah… I'd say they may not be racing Saturday night.

I noticed Iowa made the national news this morning because of the flooding. They keep comparing it to the floods of 1993. Now they are the floods of 2008. Supposedly things are better now. They made the water treatment plant in Des Moines more secure so they would have water. (In 1993 they had to go 12 days without.) The water treatment plant where our water comes from has been sandbagged. So far, (knock on wood) our basement is dry and the creek hasn't gone out of the banks again. It keeps filling up, then draining down…

I don't even want to think about the crops anymore. I've heard it is too late for replanting, or will be by the time it dries out – if it dried out today. I keep hearing mumbling about crop insurance. It is just too depressing to think about it for very long. I don't know how Hubs is doing it. Lots of commiserating with his farmer friends. They're all in the same situation.

In other news. I'm going to a family reunion in Missouri on Saturday. I'm taking my mother. Just my mother. It is my fathers' family. Go figure. He's not up to it. I guess one of his sisters even called him and tried to get him to go and as I warned her, she was wasting her breath. Stubborn is one of my fathers' middle names. I have a feeling he's going to be a major topic of conversation. I'm not really looking forward to this. Ah, the joys of being an only child…

Dry?

Today  may actually be a dry day. Not that there is anything dry about any place in this state… only that we may not get rain today. Oh, but there is a 20% chance, so that's why I've left it a question. (Actually is a chance every day this week. Again.) Seems you only have to look at the sky these days for moisture to fall out of it. I just looked and the official total just since the first of the month is 3.66". That doesn't count the 4-5" we had at the end of last month. What corn is appearing around the edges of the ponds in the fields is extremely small compared to what it should be. Poor stuff needs some dry "feet", sunshine and warmth.

Wouldn't you know it? One of the big mucky-muck meteorologists in the state keeps saying that once summer officially gets here (June 21) the rain will stop… for good. Then we're looking at a drought.

C'mon. A happy medium? Please?

Words

I have things I need to say to people. Things I want to write to them. My cousin, regarding my Aunt. A very kind man who just retired that changed our lives. A son who moved me to tears with some beautiful words in his Mother's Day card. I have words rattling around in my brain for each of these people but I just can't seem to get them out.

Does this ever happen to you? The words get stuck? They are there, but much as peanut butter can cling to the roof of your mouth, these words seem to cling to the linings of my brain and I can't get them to flow out onto the page as I would wish.

Maybe I just need more sleep.

I Think I Still Have All My Fingers

Sunday evening was the first monthly family game night. Picture me, my 10-yr-old grandson, and five 20-to-30-something people (one DIL couldn't make it) around the table playing "spoons". If you have never played this fast-paced card game, whatever you do I don't advise doing it with MY family! I could've lost a limb! Who knew all these people would be so competitive?!?! Trust me, there was no giving the 10-yr-old a break of any kind, either… he had to scrap it out with the rest of us.

Hubs is not a game person. He had a race to watch and even after we chased him from the livingroom downstairs to the family room, he still said we were terribly loud. *shrug* Oh, well…  That's why I like living in the country. No neighbors upstairs, downstairs, or next door to offend with the loudness. If for some reason the neighbor who shoots all the time could hear us, then sobeit.

I now know what to watch out for come next month! Yikes!

When Your Time is Up…

It really is up. I believe that. Sometimes things happen that are so bizarre, so freaky in nature, that it is the only explanation that makes any sense. The only one we can use to wrap our brain around what has happened. In case you are lost right now, I'll enlighten you.

Friday night my son raced. It was like any other night. My Hubs and my MIL, as well as my son's wife, her parents,  and some of my sons' friends were in the pits watching the race. Like any other night they race. Sometimes they sit in the stands, but usually they're in the pits. Now the pits are possibly hazardous places to be. There are cars racing around inside as they come off the track, and things are going on all the time that you need to be aware of. This is why you are required to sign a waiver of liability before you ever get to go into the pits. Just a precaution.

Friday night. Like any other night. Until a stock car was racing around the track and something happened that would forever change someone's life. A wheel came off the car and went flying into the pits. Missing trailers, cars, all kinds of things in its' path, until it smacked directly into a man working on one of the cars and killed him dead. A middle-aged man, minding his own business, not paying attention to the race… a man who, I have to believe, had completed his time on earth. The tire had to be going about 80 mph Hubs said… and missed our group by about five feet. Only five feet. My mind has to wrap around that one, too.

My heart goes out to this mans' family. I don't know if he was married, had children, or what his circumstances were. All I know is he went to the race Friday night and was either there to race himself or to help someone else… and freakishly, unexpectedly, was killed. I can't imagine how the driver of the car that lost the wheel must feel, too, to realize your car was involved.

Again, selfishly, I am so grateful it wasn't my husband, son, or anyone I knew. I know that sounds harsh, but I was so shocked when my husband called home to give me the regular update on how sons' race went, only to hear this news and realize I could have been getting a very different phone call…  Give your loved ones a hug today. Tell them you love them. You just never know how long you have together.

I'm still shocked. Totally shocked.