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Little Bo Peep

…has lost her sheep and doesn’t know where to find them
Leave them alone and they’ll come home
Wagging their tails behind them.

I still have that book of nursery rhymes my mother read to me as a child. One night she told me to tell her the stories. From then on bedtime stories turned into me seeing how many nursery rhymes I could recite on my own. Lying on my little twin bed under the eaves of the old farmhouse roof, I recited stories about Peter the Pumpkin Eater, Mary and her garden of silver bells, and Little Miss Muffet sitting on her tuffet. Before long, I’d fall asleep in the middle of a verse and mom would tuck me in.

Eventually, we grew out of that routine.  Little girls grow up and leave the ‘tucking-in’ behind them.  But those nursery rhymes buried themselves in my memory bank, laying dormant, waiting for an opportunity to be called up.

Fast forward about some thirty-odd years to a log-cabin.

I sit under the sloped eaves of a mountain log cabin, on the floor, next to my son’s little bed.  He’s fighting a nap – so afraid to close his eyes for fear of missing out on something. And out they come – those characters and rhymes from my childhood. Once again the clock strikes one and down the mouse runs. Jack and Jill are running up the hill and the kittens have lost their mittens.

I am transported to a time when I was connected to my mother through stories, rhymes, and bedtime.  I stroke my son’s forehead and the connection extends across the next generation.

Now, if he’d just go to sleep!

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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

He is Safe

Move in day to the Veterans Home was hard. The staff made it better and bearable. He seemed to adjust overnight to the fact that this was his new home. I still fight the guilt that creeps up the inside of my throat like bad chili.

I remind myself in those moments that he’s safe. That he is now being taken care of better than he can take care of himself and better than I can take care of him. When he’s doing very well, it’s easy to question if I’ve done the right thing. But as quickly as the question arises, my dad makes a statement that is so out of left field and wrong that I know he’s in the right place.

Doing the right thing for a parent who is physically and cognitively challenged, even if that’s the thing they don’t want, is hard. Letting go of all the inappropriate and mean comments, letting go of all the times he was not there for me when I needed him, letting go of the anger of how he has lived his life, it’s like taking 100 pound stone off my back.

Now I can walk lightly next to him and love. 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Rock Hard Lonely

Watching his dementia take over is hard
Watching his alcoholism destroy his best is lonely
And I am the rock.

Seeing his financial statement all in red is hard
Seeing him stand next to the bathroom and ask me where is the bathroom is lonely
And I am the rock

Wishing for none of this to be happening is hard
Wishing for him to be ok is lonely
But I am the rock

I am his rock.
Standing hard
Facing the lonely

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

When Did It Start?

I keep raking through my memories to try and pinpoint when dad started his downhill mental slide. I guess the first big clue was when he tried to sell one of his two homes to someone whose name he couldn’t remember and for an amount he couldn’t remember. I drove home to Iowa, two-and-a-half-year-old son strapped in the backseat, to fix that one.  Disaster.

Angry with me before I even got there, he wouldn’t even talk to me about any issues that were popping up: his memory problems reported by everyone around him, his poor health, his filthy home, his unpaid stack of bills.  Looking back, those were the big-fat-as-hell red-flipping signs that SOMETHING was very off.  I figured he was being his worse-than-usual-alcoholic self.  I was partly right.

Then last year I got the call he’d pooped himself. That he wasn’t showering. That he wasn’t changing clothes.  Lucky him (and me, since I live in Montana and he’s in Iowa) the small town community rallied around and helped him. Friends cleaned his house, took him to the doctor, stocked his fridge and got him on an airplane to come see me. It probably should have been a one-way ticket last year. Maybe then he wouldn’t have half-froze to death in his house during a snowstorm for not having paid his propane bill.

And now he’s here. And I am working on his finances. He can’t believe he owes the propane man almost $1000. He can’t believe he hasn’t paid property taxes in almost two years and that he’s possibly going to lose his home to a tax sale. I can’t believe any of it either. But here we are. Both of us losing something.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Dementia

“You have dementia,” said the doctor, to my father. He took the news as if he was just told, “You have a hangnail.” We drove past the sparkling lake on the way to the grocery store and I told him how it must suck to have heard that diagnosis.  He sat silently staring out the window at the boats on the sunbathed water.

My suspicions finally confirmed, my mind spun in all directions like wind-whipped dandelion seeds. Need to get him into the Veteran’s Home. Need to get him to want to go to the Veteran’s Home.  Need to do something with his property -four states away.  Need to get to the grocery store, pick up the boy from his Nonna’s and go home to make dinner.

Dementia. Explains Groundhog Day. Still feels shitty.  The anger I’d felt toward my dad for his mean words over the years, for his perpetual adolescence,  for his mistreatment of all the women in his life, for his shadowy presence in my life started to seep into the background of my heart and mind. (Thank you, meditation.)

Expectations for things ever being different dissipated like midnight campfire smoke drifting up to meet the stars.  And all the anxiety I’d held onto over him coming to be here with me, my husband and my son relaxed into a gentle, solid compassion…and a grief that hit me up-side the head like the proverbial two-by-four.

So I cry.  A lot. Sometimes just a little.  And the tears help wash the dust away so I can see slightly clearer for the next task…

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

The Worst Is Yet To Come

I checked in with my voice of inner wisdom a few weeks ago. Tara Mohr, in Playing Big, introduced me to that voice, my inner mentor. When I get overwhelmed with questions that seem to have no answers or I feel like I am failing, I find my way back to that voice.  My inner mentor, is connected to the Divine and has that peace and confidence that I lose when I get wrapped up in the anxiety that comes from perfection-seeking.

That’s what she told me a few weeks ago when I asked about my dad. “How am I doing?” The answer came back, “You are doing great with your dad…. but things will get worse.
And you will still be ok.”

I am stepping into the parenting-my-parent role. Perhaps with his diagnosis of Mild Dementia this week, I have jumped, not just stepped, into it.  I am in the movie, “Groundhog Day.” Dad and I have the same conversation about the same aspects of his life every week. “What do you mean I ……?!” he asks with genuine surprise.  And I tell him, again, the status of his health or his finances.

And I will still be ok….

 
 

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Father’s Day 2016

Dear Son,

Your Daddy loves you more
than mountains love spring rain.
You pull his world around
like the moon pulls the tide.
And when your tears flow
he feels your anger and your pain.
When you ask to get on his shoulders
he never refuses giving the ride.

Daddy will be your rock when life
throws you this way and that.
He’ll teach you what’s what:
like how to build, how to fix,
how to fish and how to hunt.
He’ll show by example how to be a man.
And you can be sure, if you’ve earned it,
you’ll also get your licks.

Your Daddy loves you the whole world
and then some.

Love,
Mom

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Letters To My Son, Poetry, Uncategorized

 

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