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My friend, Michele, is Just the Best!

After 67 years, my parents had been split up, not by divorce, but by different aging conditions. 

While there was no question about the strength of our friendship, it was confirmed many times by Michele’s willingness to accompany me on my visits. 

There are two kinds of humans in this world: those who can deal with the elderly and those who cannot. Now a successful banker, Michele had CNA experience a couple of decades before this. 

CNAs must deal with the messiest of patients and there was nothing that could violate Michele! 

At this time of the year, I’ll never forget when my ninety year old mom was in the hospital one winter, three times in six weeks, for recurring pneumonia. Her diagnosis was, “pneumonia and failure to thrive.” Her prognosis read, “Poor”. She wouldn’t eat or drink and it felt like the beginning of the end. 

One Sunday morning, Michele offered to go with me to the hospital. Very few people assume the invitation is always open. I would never ask anyone if they wanted to go, except a family member. 

Mom had just had a bath and was ready for a breakfast that she wouldn’t eat. Her hair, thin from aging and wet from her bath, was plastered against her small head. It was unsettling. 

There were two basic things to do: get food and liquid in her and set that hair! Michele coaxed her kindly and fed her easily from the front, while I put her hair up in Velcro curlers, from the back. It was a two-pronged approach and quite a vision, I’m sure. 

Perhaps it was because of Michele’s kind, gentle easy nature with Mom, orr maybe it was the ever-present sparkle in her eyes, but it was the loveliest gesture a friend could offer Mom and me.

We see this aging parent scenario unfold hundreds and thousands of times. Let this be a positive lesson to us all that we, too, can dish up kindness and assistance with a spoon or a fork. And a little Dippity-Do! 

Thanks, Michele. LYLAS!

 

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STRESS NO EVIL- 2018 experiment

Bobbe White-4/26/18/

fourth monkey

RECAP: the three wise monkeys. Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil and See No Evil. Yes, I know you read about this months ago, but stress is one of those concepts everyone understands differently. We know stress is the devil incarnate to our bodies, our relationships, our work and our brains. So why can’t we get a grip on it? Great question. We all need applicable tools.

What I know is this:

Stress feels different to each of us. If you hadn’t read this previously, I arrived at a cockamamie (I’ve never used that word, but I kind of like it.) acronym, to pull together about ten (okay, twelve) ideas that I have employed this year. To give you a visual, there is now the fourth monkey. “Stress No Evil” is the name. Busting stress is the game. Imagine the three monkeys, doing what they do and then Stress No evil is doing yoga. Make sense?

 

Here’s a rundown, if you’re still battling stress now and then.

 

S ilence. Yesterday I drove to work, lunch errands and home in quiet. Nice.

T oxic people. Surrounding myself with others who bring me up.

R est. Stayed up late last weekend. Next day was awful. Can’t do it anymore.

E xercise. Do what I can. It could always be more. It’s good for what ails me.

S ocial. Hung at a bar with Friday AND Saturday. (I know!) Great friends/music.

S olo. I’ve attended 3 Broadway shows this year. Alone. I’m over feeling weird.

N o. This week I had an opportunity to lie, but I went with honest and said, “No.”

O utdoors. How is it out there? BIG! And springy. And calming. Get some sky!

 

E xplore. Okay, I took this one to the limit, read below*.

V ulnerable. Toughest one: put yourself out there and being open to wounds**.

I nhale. As in, b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Meditate-ommmmmm-whatever, just stand still.

L evity. Well, you know how I feel about fun and funny…

 

**Being vulnerable can be physical or emotional wounding. Physically, it can be an attack. This read leans more to the emotional, (i.e. Being open to criticism and hurt feelings.) Even bad-ass personas have vulnerability. Example: I used to think Jeff didn’t have feelings, so when I’d get frustrated with him, (which was more than once!) I’d spout things that wouldn’t phase him. I found out 41 YEARS later, my words hurt. Even him. Everyone’s vulnerable. Don’t think otherwise. Bad on me. And I’m sorry, kind of late.

 

EXPLORE:

On a brighter note, here’s my 2018 exploration experiment:

 

January: sensory session. Gong, drums and scents, oh my!

 

February: drum circle at a nursing home. Where everyone felt like Ringo!

 

 

March: Chicago cooking class with Jeff. Call me the “Crepe Queen”. Oh yeah.

 

April: Soul drawing session: five hours of meditation and paint. What appeared abstract was amazingly, correctly interpreted about my picture, by ten others. Incredible.

 

May: TBD!

 

Shout out if you’ve tried any of the above tools lately!

Happy weekending! Bw.

 

Dad’s Lesson or Dad’s Gift?

Wtad.com/whitepages/102017

 Bobbe White

 Dad/Irvie turned 93 Sunday. It was a simple occasion. His food is pureed now, which sort of blows the whole cake ‘n candle thing out of the water. Alzheimer’s. Grrrr. Cake, candles, gifts and photos are just window dressing we can do without anyway. His needs are small. Our quest for dignity is large. We get that in huge doses, at the Illinois Veterans’ Home. They love Dad/Irvie, awake or asleep. And that is enough for me. 

“Hi Dad!” is how it began. “Hi Babe!” he replied. “YES… this is good!” I thought. “He knows me today.” Rationally, and my sister, Cathy, reminded me, “He calls everybody Babe!” I know. He always has. He would walk in the bank and address his favorite employees, “Babe” or “Doll”. It wasn’t creepy, nor was it a slur. It was a term of endearment at many levels. The nurses say that when they get a “Babe or a Doll” from Dad in the morning, they know it’s going to be a good day. It’s more commonly called, his, “Once a week awake day.” Hence, he’s become known as “Once-a-Week-Irv.” It fits his former sense of wry humor very well.

I told him it was his birthday. He looked puzzled at the mention of 93. But the fact that he was awake to hear it at all was something. He sleeps a lot now, but he didn’t sleep through his birthday breakfast. And that was enough for me.

 Cathy visited later. He was awake for then too. We considered this a good day. We tacked a couple of birthday cards on his wall. I’m not sure why, but in lieu of all the other birthday bells and whistles, it seemed like a festive thing to do, even though he can’t see that far, nor read anymore. Okay, it made little sense, but it’s hard not to mark the day with a little fanfare.  

Cathy and I shared our visit experience and the agony of the Alzheimer’s process, not to mention the longevity. It’s not that I want him to go, but what is the purpose of his existence in this state? It’s confusing, heart wrenching and overwhelming. Then I pulled out of my you-know-what, this idea. I texted her. “I think that Dad’s final gift (or lesson?) to me to have patience with his situation. Everything runs its course for a reason, even if it’s not what we like or understand. Maybe his gift to you is to be stronger.”

 She texted back, “Good thought…I’ll hold on to that.” So, look who’s giving the gifts on his birthday. And that’s enough for me.