Monthly Archives: April 2014

Have We Met?

This weekend was pretty crazy. Not anything bad, but just stuff happening constantly. I was away from the house almost all the time, except when I was sleeping. I hardly ate any meals at home. In a twist that surprises no one, this means I didn’t make the best possible choices about food. Delicious choices, yes. But a little too rich for my body to be happy with me. By Sunday evening, I needed to let things settle down.

So when I was offered some meat at the dinner table, I asked for a very small piece. The woman sitting next to me smiled and asked, “Not much of a meat eater?”

Which is an unremarkable snippet of small talk, if you’re sitting to someone you’ve just met. I was sitting next to my mother.

A lot of things about dementia are really upsetting. Sometimes devastating. That wasn’t the case here; I didn’t feel hurt or sad. It was just a little surreal to be making polite stranger chit-chat with my mother over mashed potatoes.

Hello, I’m your daughter. Have we met?

Rose-Colored Glasses

Or fire-engine red. We’re not picky.

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He’s been waaaaaaaaiting for these.
He got to pick the color all by himself. I am frequently not a very fun mom. But I do allow red glasses. At least it’s something.

The Happiest Place on Earth

No, silly. Not THAT one. I’m talking about Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

Grandma needs a little help right now getting Grandpa into bed. Tonight Paul went over to help and took his two intrepid assistants with him. When they got home, I got a rundown of the evening.

First, when they got there, Grandma had a bowl of blueberries out on the table waiting for them.

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(Sorry, not the best picture in the world. It’s a screen capture from a video Paul sent me.)

Then they each had a big bowl of applesauce. Then they had popsicles. Then they asked for pretzels. The clip on the pretzel bag makes a sound like a cow when you open it, so they did that a few (hundred) times. Then they had Ritz crackers.

Paul’s dad asked if we feed them. Seriously, they went over there immediately after supper, during which they each ate man-sized portions of a beef potato hash. Paul also said his dad laughed so hard at the boys’ antics that he was actually crying at one point.

Then they put Grandpa to bed. Levi ran the remote for the lifter thingamabob, and no one was injured, which is good. Then they prayed for Grandpa (which apparently made Grandma tear up a little).

Then they asked if they could have ice cream sandwiches. Paul, reporting, said, “I couldn’t believe it, but she said yes.” I can’t believe he couldn’t believe it. It’s Grandma’s house.

Despite duplicate reports of tears, everybody had so much fun that Paul said just watching them was the most fun he’s had in a long time. I’m telling you, Disney has nothing on grandparents.

Because I Don’t Want To

The girl who cuts my hair really wants me to color it. She’s brought it up several times, and every time I’ve pleasantly changed the subject. I suppose there’s a cynical argument to be made that she wants to make more money per appointment, and maybe that’s it. But I don’t really think so. I’m afraid she thinks I don’t know any better, and she’s trying to help. (Truly. I don’t think she’s ever seen me wear makeup, which to someone in the beauty industry must seem strange. She probably feels a little sorry for me.) I suppose I should just tell her next time why I’m not scheduling color, or doing it myself at home.

Because I don’t want to.

This seems to be, in the mildest possible way, counter-cultural. Most of the women I know either dye their gray hairs or pull them out. And let me say right now that if you do, you go girl. I think you should do exactly what you want to do with your hair. I think I should, too. What I want to do with my hair is to let it be.

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That is not the most flattering picture I’ve ever taken of myself, but you do not even know how many shots I had to take to get an angle on that without getting either my pajama pants or a toilet in the frame. Or catching an absurd expression. Anyway, I’ve got a kind of a sideways skunk stripe going on. Also a nice sprinkling of salt throughout the pepper, but that’s harder to see here.

I have dyed my hair in the past. I had some highlights done at a salon once or twice, but honestly I didn’t really like it. It didn’t look like me. I did some boxed stuff at home, and got away without any tragedies, but … eh. That didn’t really look like me, either. So I let it grow out, and here I am.

This is at least a little because I don’t want to pay the salon prices for color and doing the stuff at home just seems like too much work. The minute the roots appear, it’s another thing to add to my list of things that I will procrastinate to the last inch to-do list. But I do manage to get my hair cut, even though finding an appointment time that works is annoying and sometimes guilt-inducing, and I cringe a little every time I see the total on the debit card slip. So it isn’t just that.

It’s mostly because I am, finally, okay with me. As is.

I do not mean that I don’t think I need to change anything. I have lots of work to do. If anyone knows of a twelve-step program for chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, that would probably be a good place to start. What I mean is that for the first time since I was in elementary school, I don’t look in the mirror and reflexively despise myself.

That sounds kind of harsh. But it’s true. (There are probably a lot of contributing factors that we won’t get into because you did not come here to be my therapist.) And I am getting off the self-hatred hamster wheel if it kills me.

There is a five-inch scar across my throat, and I am (oddly?) kind of proud of it. It’s part of my story. My crow’s feet get pretty deep when I smile now, and I like them. I plan to make them worse by smiling as often as possible. I am getting a lot of gray hairs, and I’m keeping them. I earned them.

It is entirely possible that at some point in the future (when the salt is gaining ground on the pepper), I will look at myself in the mirror and decide that I am totally okay with me, as is, but that I would also like to be a brunette again, just for kicks. But not right now.

If my hairdresser doesn’t like it, she can kiss my sweet skunk stripe.

Happy Easter!

From the crazy pants brigade.

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Elias-to-English Dictionary

It’s possible that you may run into an Elias in the wild, as you’re going about your normal business. It can be difficult to determine what the Elias is trying to communicate. Many words in the Elias lexicon sound exactly the same as English words, but have different – and perhaps even oppositional – meanings.

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To help, we’ve assembled this small Elias-to-English dictionary explaining a few key phrases. If you study it carefully and practice responses, you may be able to retain the food on your own plate and finish a thought of more than 10 seconds, even in the face of a full-on Elias offensive.

May the farce be with you.

**********

  • This is going to make me puke.
    I don’t know what made you think I would eat this. Oh, the fact that it’s my favorite food? And I ate four man-size helpings of it last time? Amateur.
  • Beanie hitted me and made me bleed!
    • Levi hit me and my nose is bleeding.
    • I ran into the door all by myself, but I want my brother to get into a lot of trouble.
    • (rare) My nose is bleeding. It was a genuine accident.
  • It’s SO HOT! Ohhhhhh, my mouth is burning!!!!!
    My food is one degree Fahrenheit above room temperature.
  • LET ME IN!!!!
    No, you may NOT go to the bathroom by yourself.
  • I’m freezing, I’m freezing, I’m freeeeeeeeeezing!
    • I’m very cold.
    • A mild breeze has touched the bare skin of my leg.
  • *sob* Why did you leave me?
    You are not in exactly the same place I last saw you. This is very upsetting. Even if you have only moved to the next room.
  • What does S-T-O-P spell?
    I feel that you are not paying any attention to me, and I know this is a question you will answer, because it’s educational. (Any simple word or acronym may be substituted to similar effect.)
  • I love you.
    • Please don’t go into the bedroom. Seriously, just don’t.
    • You have scary eyes right now. Remember how cute I am?
    • I really want to interrupt you, and this is the only thing I can think of that won’t get me in trouble.
    • (less rare than you might think) I love you.

i thank you god for most this amazing

I’ve been in kind of a dark place this past week. I don’t know if I can say exactly why. All of the things that are wrong have been wrong for a long time, with the exception of the dead washing machine and some extra-stressful stuff at work. And they will continue to be wrong (though I hope I can figure out how to get the washing machine issue resolved; I am grateful to be able to use my mom’s but I really miss mine, like way more even than I thought I would). And I’m mostly slogging along, not always joyfully, but capably. This week, though, just pulled me under. Thursday night, a friend very kindly asked me how I was doing, and I sort of … melted. Which, as his wife said, is really an answer, even if I didn’t get any words out. By noon on Friday, I texted a different friend that I felt like I might need bail money by evening. (I didn’t. Just for the record.)

I was really not sure when I was going to surface.

This morning, I slept until 8:15 (Paul pulled off this minor miracle by actually removing the children from the house), and I woke up feeling almost normal, instead of already defeated. I had scheduled a kettlebell class (total honesty – if it hadn’t already been paid for, I probably wouldn’t have dragged myself out) and I worked myself nearly to exhaustion. Which felt great. (I still don’t get how that works, but I don’t have to understand it to enjoy it, I guess.) It was so warm and sunny on the way home that I rolled both windows down and played the music alarmingly loud and felt almost like a teenager again, without the angst of wondering if he likes me likes me. (Spoiler alert: He does.) All of the wrong things are still wrong, and I’m still way behind on way too many of the other things, but I feel like I might make in fact make it.

I don’t really believe that we’re given hard things specifically to shape us. To me, it seems to take the prosperity gospel’s sky fairy and turn him into a sky bully who likes to pile it on just to see how much we can stand. What I do believe is that we get to decide what to do with hard things when they come. We can get angry, we can get bitter, we can survive it, we can learn something, we can choose hope. Maybe all of those things at different times.

What I hope I am learning right now – what I am trying to learn – is that even a landscape that looks bleak isn’t completely barren. Hard weeks (and months and years) have good days in them. Murderously hard days have bright shining moments buried in the middle sometimes.

My mother doesn’t know what a Sharpie is anymore, but she still knows that the mangled knock-knock jokes of a five-year old boy are hilarious on more than one level. The four of us laughing in the car as we drove home from lunch on Thursday was the best moment of that day.

I think this slow, painful loss of the mother-child relationship on one side of my life is making me that much more careful of the mother-child relationship I still have. There is little that makes me happier than one of the boys’ arms around my neck, and I’m learning to hang on to those moments as long as I can.

It has been a long winter, but the trees are beginning to show buds. I’ve been thinking all week of one of my favorite poems. I tried to pick a line or two, but I couldn’t decide. It’s been giving me little moments all week. Hope you can get one from it, too.

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i thank you god for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of eyes are opened)

~ e.e. cummings