Thursday, March 30, 2017

Civic Duty

Meems was mostly alert on this particular day.  I asked her questions I knew that she could answer.  

"How are you feeling today?"  

"Good.  I always feel good."  

"Did you have a fun activity this afternoon?"  

"We played Bingo"  

"Did you go to Fun and Fitness this morning?"  

"Yes.  I always go to Fun and Fitness."

Usually, during these days of awareness, she will begin her litany of stories.  The list is growing ever shorter.

"Did I tell you about the time I fell asleep and spilled coffee in my lap?"

"Yes, Mom!  Oh my goodness!  Falling asleep at the breakfast table is hazardous!"

She chuckles and smiles.  On good days, she chuckles and smiles.  On hazy days she simply murmurs "yes."

On this particular day, she asked me whether or not she voted in the election.  First, I needed clarification.  When it comes to 90-year-olds with dementia, clarification is recommended.  Remember back to when your child asked, "Where do babies come from?"  He or she may not be looking for the answer you were dreading giving.  Why put it all out there when a simple "a mommy's belly" will suffice?  Same difference.  So, clarify I did.

"Which election?"

"The one where we pick the president."

I hemmed and hawed around.  Last fall, I tried to keep quiet about the upcoming election.  I wasn't sure that she had the mental competence to make an informed decision.  Also, if I had arranged for her to be transported in the wheelchair accessible van to a polling place, it might have ended up being a day that she couldn't wake up.  On those days, she struggles to lift her heavy eyelids to acknowledge your presence before her.  Answering simple questions is difficult when your eyes keep rolling up under your eyelids in search of the delicious dream that was interrupted.

"Well, Mom, I wasn't sure that you would know exactly who you should vote for..."

Think about it.  Does hauling a 91-year-old with dementia to the grocery store and parking her in front of a voter booth constitute voter fraud?  I suppose that one of the volunteers would have read the ballot to her and operated the machine for her.  When asked who she supported for president, she would most likely ask, "What are my choices?" or randomly say "I fell asleep and spilled coffee in my lap" or, gesturing to me reply, "Ask her.  She's my daughter.  She takes care of me now."

Continuing..."Do you remember who was running for president?"

"No.  I don't remember.  But, I do remember that I always vote Republican."

Boom.  Touche.  

"Well, Mom, we'll be voting for president four years from now when you're 95.  I'll make sure that you get to go vote Republican if that's what you want to do."

"Good.  I've never missed a presidential election until this year."

Boom.  Daughter Guilt.

She can't remember what she had for lunch and sometimes, she thinks that her granddaughter, Kelly, is her niece.  But, she will never forget her civic duty.  Twenty-Twenty, Meems is ready for you!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Conquering Carolyn: Self Assessment

I don't make New Year's Resolutions because once I utter the words, "I resolve,"  I immediately begin the walk of shame down the long road marked "Disappointment and Inadequate."  

I don't give up anything for Lent.  I just don't.  God and I have a deal.  I won't make a promise so that he doesn't have to watch me break it.  And, Jesus well knows that I love Him like no other.

I turned 60 years old on March 3rd.  SIXTY.  Upon completing a detailed self-assessment, the results were as follows:  I am a pudgy, lazy, ever tired underachiever.  No, seriously.  The perfect day for me is a day when Turner Classic Movies presents my all time favorite movies one after the other, a large portion of leftover lasagne sits in the fridge awaiting my hankering, pajamas...that's all...just pajamas, and I can curl up in my unmade bed and play Spider Solitaire on my iPad while watching Jimmy Stewart, Natalie Wood, and Joan Crawford (bless her heart) do what they did best.  See?  Even that sentence was pudgy, lazy and underachieving, grammatically speaking. 

On March 13th at 8:15 AM, I sat in the waiting room of my doctor's office.  On the seat beside me sat my book tote.  Inside the tote was a gallon baggie.  Inside the baggie?  All of my prescription bottles.  There were too many to discreetly conceal the bulging gallon baggie in my purse.   Overthinking the situation, I opted to put the baggie in the tote to make it look like I was a voracious reader instead of a well-medicated senior citizen.  Inside the tote nestled next to my baggie was my calendar in which I had tucked a rather surprisingly long list entitled "Things That Hurt."  The list included my left knee, my right elbow, and my left thumb.

When the nurse called my name, I carefully gathered up my purse and my "book" tote, then proceeded to walk in an intentionally smooth manner as if I was trying balance to a large candelabra with candles ablaze on my head.  My normal bouncy-quick walk might have made my tote sound like it contained several rather large maracas.  Shoulders down, chin up, glide first one foot...then, the other.  The only thing that could have made me feel more ancient would have been if one of my adult children had accompanied me so that they could help me remember what all the doctor said.  "Momma!  She's calling your name!  Do you have your gallon size baggie of pills with you?!  What about your list of stuff that hurts?!"  What goes around.  Comes around.

First came the scales.  I don't even bother taking off my shoes anymore.  Their combined weight doesn't make that much difference in the big scheme of things anymore.  It's not like I'm oh-so-close to reaching my goal weight or anything.  Nope.  I'm at the a-couple-of-pounds-more-or-less-don't-make-a-hill-o'-beans-difference weight.  Only 2-digit numbers matter now.  I shrugged, grimaced, stepped up, and didn't ask questions.

The long and short of it.  My ailments were all related to the "maturing process."  All of a sudden, I need some sort of "My Body and Me" book because I am so far from puberty that the changes in my body relate more to the END of my portion of the circle of life.  Phrases like "that might be the start of arthritis," "sometimes stuff just hurts as you age" "whut thuh," and "you've got to be kidding me" were bandied about.

When I was back in the comfort of my car, I said to myself, "Grrrrrrrl, you dun did it now.  You dun let your body down.  You gave up on yourself.  It ain't over yet.  You are stronger than this.  You are your worst enemy.  Enemies are meant to be conquered.

Conquered?  That word struck a cord with me.  Conquered.  It's not related to a goal that can be measured by subtraction or diminishing pant size.  It's not about that.  It's about something that I heard a speaker say weeks ago.  Three words.


At first, those 3 words convicted me as a person so scattered in my thinking that it feels like I accomplish nothing day in and day out.  Then, I realized that the concept was far bigger in the scheme of me.  I made it my cause to learn how to live fully alive.  In doing so, I realized that I had to CONQUER CAROLYN.  And, my friend, she is a worthy opponent with habits that are deeply rooted in her heart.  Those roots wrap around her heart and then, wander down to her stomach in search of solace.  

On Monday, April 20th, Spring officially began as did my quest to conquer myself.  I signed up for Weight Watchers Online for the umpteenth time.  I have either walked or done "yoga for seniors" (wait 'til I tell you about that!) for the past 8 days.  It is usually between the 10th and 14th days that I "fall off of the wagon" into a big bowl of Bluebell Dutch-not-Milk Chocolate ice cream.  You have remained totally unaware of my ditched efforts because I tend to not make public proclamations of my "new me" failures.

Today, I'm proclaiming.  It's not about weight.  It's really not even primarily about health.  It's about living fully alive.  I want to feel good in my skin.  And, to do so, I must conquer myself.

Don't worry.  I'll get back whicha.  I've got lots to talk about, for instance, "Yoga for Seniors" in the privacy of my closet.  No, you cannot buy a ticket and come watch.

Even when I was thin, I thought I was fat.  Pity.


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...