Tuesday, February 26, 2013

But, Wait! There's More. A Cave Update

I recently reported about my son's adventure in a cave in Austin, Texas.  His adventure has gleaned more comments on my Facebook page than any of my status updates ever.

I spent some time with Bryce and Reed in Waco this weekend.  When I told Bryce about the infamy of the cave opening, he told me a few more disturbing details of the trip.

The steel "trap door" of the cave is kept locked at all times.  Nearby the cave entry there is a coded lock box in which the key is kept.  Once the trap door has been unlocked, the key is deposited back in the lock box.  Down in the cave there is another key.  Upon entering the cave, the spelunker is supposed to lock the door from the INSIDE so that no curious or mischievous passersby can slip down into the oblivion of subterranean darkness.

When I heard about the locking of the cave door from the inside, my heart began to race even though my still-living child stood safely before me.  

Me:  "What if someone lost the key down in the cave?!"  [My heart is palpitating now as I share this disturbing information with you.]  

Child:  "There's this thing that you hang it on, so that wouldn't happen."  

Me:  "But, it COULD HAPPEN!  What if someone absentmindedly slipped it into a pocket and it fell through a hole in the pocket somewhere deep in the cave where only Gollum can find it?!"  

Child:  "I guess you'd never get out of the cave."

I may need to pop some baby aspirin and Pepto Bismol tablets in my mouth before continuing.

Most of the time Bryce was on his hands and knees in the cave except for a few places that he wriggled through like a snake on his belly.  Once such wriggle was through a sort of tube-like tunnel that had to be entered hands-above-head-sans-backpack-and-helmet (ie, no headlamp.  ie, total and complete darkness).  This little tube was called the Birth Canal.  Bryce's professor pulled him out when he was close enough to reach her hands that were awaiting his "birth."  

The group gathered in a cave "room" that "you could almost stand up in" for lunch.  "What did you pack for lunch, Bryce?"  "Some Poptarts and water."  Again, my heart pounded with thoughts of my child starving to death in a cave while a certain misplaced key was being searched for in blinding darkness.  "You didn't take emergency food and water?!"  Wasn't that on the spelunking pretest?!  

        3.  What does a spelunker take down into a cave to assure survival?
             A.  10 military MREs and 10 gallons of water
             B.  a change of clothing
             C.  some Poptarts and water

Apparently, my child missed #3 on the pretest.  Hopefully, he received a bit of extra credit for not perishing in the cave.

At the end of the trek, the professor paired the students up and sent them in timed intervals to find their way back to the opening of the cave.  [Oh, LORD!  I think that this is the BIG ONE!  You're a-comin' to take me home right now!]  

"It was kinda funny because me and my partner (again with the grammar) wandered into this room where several other people ended up.  The professor had to actually go find a couple of people."

I must end here.  My blood pressure is so high I can hear my heart beating in my temples. Alas, the child is alive.  Like I said in the "Don't Ask.  Don't Tell." post, sometimes it's best not to know things until they have already been survived.

If you are into vicarious-fear-of-being-trapped-in-the-bowels-of-the-earth, read these descriptions of caves in the Austin area.  Bryce's Whirlpool Cave experience is rated "Beginner."  I have now added "depths" to my list of phobias alongside "heights."

Bryce sent me this picture after his mountain biking class last week:

Thanks for sharing, Bryce.  I just hope that you survive your classes this semester so that you can graduate in May.

Monday, February 25, 2013


I feel that I should clarify that my mom doesn't have Alzheimer's.  She is just getting more and more forgetful and repetitive.  Sometimes words slip from her vocabulary when she tries to tell a story.  "Oh...you know!  That place where they have all the stores?!"  "Mom, do you mean 'mall'?"  She is still able to get around pretty well and dresses appropriately not counting December when she wore her Santa hat that plays "Feliz Navidad" at the push of a button every night to dinner at Raider Ranch.  "Everyone LOVES my Feliz Navitot hat!!!"  She still LOVES attention.

She had a checkup last week.  Twice during the 20 minutes or so that she spent with the doctor she told him the story of a checkup she had at Scott and White in Temple years ago.  "I was really cold in my little hospital gown, so my doctor draped my coat over my shoulders.  When he got up to leave the room, I followed him.  He turned around and said, 'Don't forget to put your clothes on!!'  Ha-ha-ha-ha!"  Dr. Robertson was kind enough to react appropriately to both "tellings."

In the car going back to the Raider Ranch (her independent living facility) from the doctor's office, she asked me at least 4 times why I was taking her home instead of the Raider Ranch transportation lady.  "Mom, remember we're going to run by the bank so you can get some cash?!"  "Oh, yeah."  A few minutes later.  Same question.  Then, she asked, "Are we going to be going by the bank?"

The good news is that she is very diligent about taking all of 3 of her meds.  Yep.  She's 87 years old and only takes 3 prescribed medicines.  And, she takes really good care of herself.  She eats well, watches Dr. Oz, and takes fish oil, et al to stay in top notch condition.  Need I say more?!  She has called me daily since her checkup to remind me that she needs her premed for her upcoming dentist appointment.  These are both good signs - knowing she's about to have her teeth cleaned and that she needs a premed.

If I had to call it something, I would say that she has the beginnings of dementia.  Like my grandmother and my mother, I am sure to have it in my later years...or maybe beginning next week.  You never know.  You just never know.

My only hope is that when I begin toddling down the Road of Forgetful Repetition my sense of humor is as keen as the Meems.  The ability to laugh at oneself is truly a gift from On High.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Beautiful Poem about Alzheimer's

The poem below was written by a friend's daughter as an assignment for her high school English class.    According to her mother, Melanie sat down and quickly produced this poem about her grandmother who is living with Alzheimer's at the very last minute.  If this is what Melanie produces in a quick minute, she has a lifetime of powerful writing ahead of her!

The Journey of a Life Lived With Alzheimer’s

Highest of highs, lowest of lows
How it began nobody knows
The valleys are deep, and the chasms are wide
But your loved one is merely along for the ride

Disheartening it is as you step back and see
What she once held so close is but a faint memory
Her words are repeated again, and again
As she longs once more for the company of friends

She begins to cry
Though she knows not why
She cannot recall
The reason, at all

Though words become slow, and thoughts become twisted
“Just stay for a while,” is all she insisted
The presence of those whose faces she knows
Is all that it takes to make her day great

Be patient with her, as her mind draws a blank
Simply offer a smile, there’s no need to be frank

As she struggles, and struggles with all of her might
The enemy is becoming more and more real
She’s not losing this battle, but winning the fight
Pill after pill, night after night

Though her memory fades, her heart stays the same
Warm as a fire, full of desire
The sheer size of her heart puts even the brightest stars to shame

Daily, more like her I strive to be
Humble and sweet, selfless and free

Over this grave disease she reigns victorious
Her legacy forever lives on in all of us

-Melanie Bradley

Thursday, February 14, 2013

i {heart} valentine's day

I love Valentine's Day!  From Valentine's breakfast to Valentine's dinner, I'm like a little girl anxiously waiting to open her homemade Valentine's box to see all of her "mail."

Alan and I usually exchange 2 cards:  a funny one and a lovey-dovey one.  I have kept every Valentine he has given me since we began dating in 1977.  Over the years, his "funny" cards have become more and more...uh...you know...suggestive.   I've sent most of them through the shredder out of respect for our sons who will someday have to sort through our "estate."   Alan thinks that if the boys found some of the "funny" cards years from now, they would be happy knowing that their parents truly, deeply, madly loved (or "loved on" as the case may be) each other.  You can go ahead and thank me now, boys.  I have purposely saved you from years of therapy. [Bryce, let's just go with the "turtle mating" theory.]

I've been collecting Valentine's candy boxes for several years.  Alan loves to order chocolates from hoity-toity stores.  The chocolates are exquisite, and the boxes are suh-weet!  The 3 red boxes in the back are all made from homemade paper or papier machet.

This was a rather unremarkable box that I turned into a keepsake.  The quote is from one of our favorite poems "I Meant to do My Work Today" by Richard LeGallienne.  I placed pearl pins over some of the places we've traveled.

These are some of my most treasured Valentines.  They are simple hearts cut from posterboard and then decorated with yarn.  They were made in Meem's art classes about 25 years ago.  I love, love, love children's art!

Oh, Friend of Mine!  You are adored!  You are worthy of unfailing, perfect love.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I love you!

Psalm 36:5
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It Begins

It begins.  To be truthful, it began beginning a few years ago.  Repeated stories.  Stolen Chico's traveler's pants.  Broken clocks.

The Meems is becoming more and more absent from the here and now.  

Ring Ring.

Me:  Hello!

Meems:  Someone stole my Chico's traveler's pants.  They're not where I always put them.  I always put them in the same place.

Me:  Could they have slipped down to the floor of your closet?  They're pretty slippery, you know.

Meems:  No.  I always put them in the same place.  I think that someone took them.

Me:  Hmm.  Well, before you dial 911, let me take a look the next time I'm at your place.

Meems:  OooooKAaaay.  (The OK of disbelief.)

The stolen pants were on the floor of her closet kicked underneath the bottom row of hanging clothes.


A few weeks ago, Reed (youngest grandson) kindly went over to Meems' apartment to sweep her porch.  A haboob had rushed through town leaving a thick brown coating of sand across Lubbock.

From Wikipedia: haboob (Arabicهَبوب‎ "blasting/drafting") is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the world.

Reed knocked on Meems back door to let her know that he was there to perform a random act of grandson-kindness only to be met by her eyes peaking through the wooden blinds.  She feebly acknowledged him with a wave before the blinds snapped back into place.

Move furniture.  Move potted plants.  Sweep, sweep, sweep.  Replace furniture.  Replace potted plants.  One more sweep for good measure.

Reed again knocked on the door to let Meems know that her porch was looking pretty immaculate.  She flipped all the locks on the door and stepped out on the patio.

Meems:  It looks good.  You did a good job.

Reed (giving her a big hug and bright smile):  I accept tips, you know!

Meems:  Oh, we aren't allowed to tip!

Reed:  Oh!  Ha!  Ha!

Meems:  Ha!  Ha!

A few days later, Meems was over at my house when I asked her if Reed did a good job sweeping her porch.  Looking surprised she exclaimed, "That was REED?!  I thought that it was the maintenance man!"  A very demonstrative maintenance man at that.


We were recently having dinner when something came up about birth dates.  "I was born in 1960!" Meems confidently exclaimed.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I remembered the questions the ER doctor recited just before he figured out that she had some bleeding on her brain.  "Who's the president?"  "What day of the week is it?"  "What is the year?"  "What is your name?"  When I questioned her, she knew Obama, Sunday, 2013, and Helen.  But, for how long?


Those of you who traveled this path before me can totally share my angst.  I don't want to become the mother.  Mom sometimes tells people that I'm the Boss of Her.  I miss my outgoing, meticulously dressed, detail-oriented little mother.  Perhaps this is why I've found that I'm "becoming my mother."  Somebody has to do it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From "Ta Da" to Today

Over the past week or so, I've had positive feedback from random people regarding my blog.  Positive feedback is always yearned for...validating...appreciated...  When asked, I couldn't remember how long I've been blogging, so I looked up my first blog post.  It is titled "Ta Da."  So that you don't actually have to click on the "Ta Da" link, I'll cut and paste the whole thing right here:

It took me so long to set up this blog that I now have nothing to say.  I can't figure out how to change my font colors on the titles, etc.  I clicked on "Help."  It links me to answers out there on the web.  I can't even understand most of them.  This is really fun.  07-24-2010

That's it and that's all.  I come from very humble beginnings.  Since then my fingers have flown across my keyboard spitting out letters onto blog after blog.  Sometimes I blog quite often.  Other times I have absolute-a-men-tay nothing to say.  Which is sad.  Because I love to write.

I guess I need to go hang out with Meems for about 30 minutes.  She will surely do something that will merit a good, humorous blog.

Thanks so much for your support!  I hit 50,000 pageviews about a week ago.  I'm sure that 49,000 of those pageviews can be credited to the spammers who troll cyberspace.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Don't Ask. Don't Tell.

The entrance.
This morning my phone dinged with a text message bright and early - before my eyelids had even begun to flutter open.  Grabbing my glasses, I clumsily snatched up my phone and tried to focus on the screen.  The moment I saw the picture, I knew.  Bryce, my middle son, was caving. 
He has been anticipating this field trip with his Outdoor Adventure class all semester.  Me, not so much.  
"Mom!  The only way into the cave is down a ladder!"

"My professor said that some of the kids in my class may not even fit through some of the tunnels we're gonna crawl through!"

"We're gonna have to rent knee pads, elbow pads and headlamps from Baylor cuz we're gonna be crawling on our hands and knees in the dark!"

One perk of having sons studying at a university that is 6 hours from home is the fact that I don't usually know about risky behaviors until after the fact - if at all.

"Me and Reed (yes.  he's about to graduate.) drove to Austin to a concert last night.  We didn't get back to our apartment until about 2:00!" works better for me than "Me and Reed are thinkin' about drivin' to the Bowl Game in San Diego.  We're gonna take turns drivin' so that we won't have to pay for a hotel."  Hmm.  Drive from Lubbock, Texas to San Diego, California without stopping.  That would definitely fall into the "Don't Tell" column.  (In case I caused your motherheart to twist and turn within your chest, take a deep breath.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  It never happened.  They went with all of the Baylor kids in the caravan of Greyhound buses.)

Then there was this...
"I had to take Reed to the ER last night 'cause he couldn't quit throwin' up.  He's OK now."  Thank goodness that episode of Baylor Brothers ended well.  I would have made myself a nervous wreck googling "college age male can't quit throwin' up."  Also, if I had been with Reed, I would have been throwing up, too.  I have a very weak stomach that is susceptible to stomach viruses - real or imagined.

Yep.  Alan and I agree that during this season of our sons' lives, ignorance is truly bliss.  I'm thinking that grad school in Albania sounds good.  That's in a whole different time zone.

I leave you with some of the comments made on my Facebook page in response to the above picture with this post - "Just got a txt from Bryce. He's exploring Whirlpool Cave today with his outdoor adventure class at Baylor. This is the entrance to the cave. Flunk. Me. Now.."
  • "Does not look fun at all to me"
  • "Never in a million years!!!! Well, maybe if I was hiding from a mass murderer but that's about it!!!!"
  • "My heart is racing just looking at that picture!!  No way could I do that!!"
  • "No way!  I'm with you!
  • "Oh my."
  • We can take Art Appreciation together in the spring.
  • Fail me too.
  • I don't even think I could fit through the opening!
See, Bryce?  It's not just me.

This just in from the spelunker! 

"Fun time!  Pretty intense!"


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...