Sunday, April 30, 2006

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true, or beautiful, or good, makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness." Reinhold Niebuhr

I heard this quote on a Speaking of Faith program this morning quoted by Martin Marty. I went back to the 12/09/2004 program about fundamentalism and listened again to it. Since the distinction was drawn in the program I listened to yesterday on Pentecostalism, I thought maybe I should refresh my memory on exactly what it is that separates the two. The Niebuhr quote was one of those that resonates with my heart and will go into my journal of wise sayings.

I took downtime in my pajamas this morning rather than go to church. Caring for Mother is not very demanding physically, but I feel exhausted whenever I leave her. It's emotionally demanding, caring for someone who didn't care much for me. She's one of the least nurturing people I've ever known. Daddy's last request was that we "take care of your mother." Bless his heart, he cared so much more for her than she did for him. And because he cared, I care. If I didn't feel some resentment for her neglect, I probably would not be so tired when I leave her.

What is it about the "only child" that makes them so hard to love? In Mike's and Mother's cases, they could have greatly benefitted from the civilizing effect of siblings. It's not their fault they didn't get that, and that they never outgrew being the center of their significant others' attention. Neither seems to understand the principles of sharing or reciprocating. To consider another's wants and needs seems totally foreign to them. It makes caring for them when they're incapcitated doubly hard. Betsy goes through a lot of that with Richard, too.

Betsy helped Mother with lunch again today and I'm going in later. She had visitors yesterday, a middle-aged couple. No note was left or anything, so I put out a sheet for people to sign, so we could acknowledge their concern. I hate not knowing who's been there. She slept most of the time we were there, but did wake up long enough to eat about half her supper. When she refused a bite of lemon meringue pie, I knew she was done.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Spiritual Tidal Wave - The Origins and Impact of Pentecostalism," this week's Speaking of Faith program, is playing while I try to write this. Here's the link:

Since this is something I've been concerned about for a while, I want to hear it. It has a vast emotional appeal to so many people I know, and I've tried to understand why they like that better than the dignified, solemn, formal service I've come to prefer. I love having a script to follow, the prescribed scripture readings, the liturgical prayers and seasons, it's all so well thought out and has been developed over the centuries.

Having been in churches where I never knew what to expect from the minister or the members, I came to distrust them. So much of the spontaneous, extemporaneous, impulsive expression of personal opinion and bias seemed totally out of place in God's house. Their version of the truth did not correspond to the truth I knew. That distrust interfered with my ability to worship. I found security in the traditions of the Episcopal church, especially in having the bishop's oversight of the local pastor.

Our services may not be nearly as stimulating and exciting as those with the rock bands, the dancing, the hand waving, the speaking in tongues, the huge tv screens and sound systems, but most of the people in these churches seem to want entertainment more than communion with our Lord. I'm sure they're blessed with truth in spite of the noise, but I'd rather have the small, still voice. I'd rather have the Eucharist than the charismatic personalities who draw attention to themselves. I just hate to see people misled into thinking theirs in the ONLY way.

Mother was resting comfortably when I left around 7:30 last night. She ate a good lunch and supper. It takes her almost an hour to eat all she wants, and unless one of us is there, she won't eat more than her dessert. Yes, the nurses are being paid to care for her, but they aren't going to sit with her and feed her like I do. In the last couple of days, I've seen her eat broccoli and turnip greens, two of the vegetables she's never liked. Mike says she realizes she has a serious condition and thinks she can reverse it if she eats her vegetables like she's always been told she should. Maybe so.

Betsy is going to help her with lunch today. I'll go at suppertime. The oncologist who came by last night recommended that we consider a mastectomy, since her tumors have surfaced and are going to get much nastier. I'm not sure she could survive surgery, but that would be a blessing, too. Tara said breast cancer is not something we should be too concerned about, since Mother was in her 80's before she got it. If she'd been in her 40's, we'd have something to be worried about, she said. Still, a mammagram will be done when I go for my next check-up. Dr. Krooss will make the final recommendation when the results of the biopsy come back, and all the other doctors have expressed their opinions.

The Speaking of Faith program was enlightening, but I'll have to hear it again to fully appreciate it. I cannot listen to one thing and write something totally different.

2 hours later. OK, now I understand what turns me off and what I can appreciate about the Pentecostals. They are not rigidly structured by a literal interpretation of the Bible, believing that God continues to reveal more and more of his truth as time goes on. They rely on not just the Bible for direction, but the Holy Spirit; they, therefore, have no problem with ordaining women and have been more involved in ecuminism than their fundamentalist brothers and sisters. Most helpful was the extra 20 minutes by Robert Franklin, a professor at Emory University. I really have more in common with them than I realized. It's just a personal preference in worship styles that led me to the Episcopal church.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I'm planning to go to the hospital after finishing several chores around here that are past due. Mike's going with me, but will go to the gym and work out while he's there.

I actually enjoyed the time I spent with Mother yesterday. The halydol put her in a better place than she's normally in. She has no idea where she is, or that she is seriously ill. The nursing home has lost her bottom dentures and she doesn't want the top ones in, so I asked that she be changed to a soft diet. With no teeth, she had trouble with the regular food.

Betsy and Richard came to visit last night. So did Deanne and her boyfriend Chris. Paul was there yesterday afternoon, but I missed him. The oncologist never did show up, but I probably misunderstood what Dr. Carrol told me. They will have to get the results of the biopsy back before the oncologist can make recommendations. Whether they plan to keep her in the hospital all week-end or not, I haven't heard. I want to schedule the consultation with the oncologist, if possible, so Paul and Betsy can be there if they want to be. I'm not making this decision by myself.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Jack has breast cancer. It has spread to her lymph nodes and spinal cord. Some sort of treatment will be necessary, else she could be paralyzed and have open, oozing, foul smelling sores. Surgery is impractical, but the surgeon thinks the oncologist may want to try chemo. We have not met with the oncologist yet. It takes a couple of days to get the results back from the biopsy they did today.

I helped Mother with her breakfast and lunch, and her appetite was fairly good. They gave her halydol to relax her and make her less contrary. It's working really well.

I have talked to several cancer patients since admitting Mother yesterday, and they've all told me that chemotherapy and radiation are not nearly as bad as they used to be. Some patients suffer no side effects at all. Since she has been approved for medicaid, all her expenses are paid. The skeptic in me is trying to make sure they don't do a lot of unnecessary procedures to run up a big bill, when there is little chance for recovery. So far, I have detected no hint that her situation may be exploited.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tough love isn't easy. I don't remember when I first learned the concept. I know it was when Benji was a teenager. Holding irresponsible people accountable, not enabling their disability, refusing to do for them what they could/should do for themselves is not easy for a fixer like me. I'm trying my best to practice tough love with Mike. He would be further along in his recovery if I could do it consistently. Most of the time, I give in and do whatever needs to be done for him. Watching a stroke victim struggle to do with one hand what is so easy for me to do with two is painful. But I've got to do it.

Today I was strong and stood my ground through one of his tantrums. He was getting undressed for a bath and forgot to take off his left shoe and brace while he still had his right shoe on to assist. He insisted I come take off his left shoe. I refused. You can do this, I insisted. He cursed, he threw towels in the floor, he beat the wall and the door with his fist, he threatened to tear up everything in the bathroom if I didn't do it for him. I let him go as far as his anger would take him. When he finally quietened down I told him there was more than one way to do everything. "Take hold of the top of your sock with your right hand and pull your foot out of your shoe," I said. He did and his foot slipped out instantly with no trouble. I smiled and walked away.

When he finished his shower, he asked for help again. I asked if his conscience had kicked in yet. He apologized for losing control. Then I told him how hard it is for me to stand by and watch him struggle, but between now and the time I leave for Ireland, we will have more occasions when I refuse to do things for him. "Just get ready," I said, "because you are going to be doing more for yourself than you're used to. Your initial reaction will be anger, but that interferes with your ability to think things through, so the sooner you learn to control that, the sooner you can solve whatever problem you're facing."

Very meekly he thanked me for helping him like I do.

The nursing home just called to say they're taking Mother to St. Dominic's Hospital. Dr. Kroos will be the admitting physician. They weren't sure what time I should meet them there, the ambulance had still not been called, so she's calling me back when they know. Guess I better get dressed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Dr. Kroos called me early this morning to tell me Mother has two lumps in her right breast. He recommended a surgeon examine it further. I took Mike to the gym, then went to the nursing home. She was still in the bed, in good spirits, but denied right off there was anything wrong with her. I saw and felt of the lumps, and they are each pretty hard, about as big around as a quarter, but solid and deep. Her aide came in while I was there, and said her appetite has not been good lately. She seems to be in a decline. I hate to subject her to all the probing and prodding they will do to her breasts, but we can’t deny medical care when she needs it. I definitely don’t want her undergoing surgery or chemotherapy if it turns out to be cancerous. At 87, she deserves to be made comfortable until the end. It’s what I would want for myself, and given her aversion for doctors and hospitals, I know that’s what she would say if able to make rational decisions for herself.

She’s begged me for years to “take her home.” Usually when I question her, she wants to go to Walnut Grove where her mother, daddy, and Silas are waiting for her. I’ve heard a lot of euphemisms for heaven, but Walnut Grove is unique to her. The life she has now has very little dignity and to prolong that life unnecessarily seems immoral to me.

Breast cancer in the elderly is more common than I realized. For some reason, I always thought it affected women during childbearing years almost exclusively. It doesn’t spread as quickly in the elderly, the doctor told me, because they don’t have estrogen.

From the wee bit of research I’ve already done on the internet, I’ve learned a couple of things. I found this on

Older women tend to have less aggressive breast cancers than younger women. And women with lymph-node negative breast cancer who are older than 70 survive as long as their contemporaries without breast cancer, according to a new study.

And from I learned this:

Breast lumps can be caused by infections, injuries, non-cancerous growths, and cancer.

The only way to know for sure is to do a biopsy. For the sake of her daughters and granddaughters, we do need to find out for sure. Cancer was not very high on my list of health concerns, and I don’t want to move it up unless I have to. Aunt Margaret had cervical cancer, but I’ve had a hysterectomy. Her mother had colon cancer, but that’s not worried me much either. We really should not take our health for granted, no matter how long Mother lived by doing that very thing.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Once again my 2 hour effort in putting together today's blog "failed to publish," and I had not saved it in the word proc. If it had been particularly noteworthy, I'd have been upset, but it wasn't, so I'm not. There should be someway to recover these things, though, this is awfully annoying.

OK, looks like the disappearing blog has magically reappeared.
"Come Monday, it'll be all right...", or so says Jimmy Buffett. Our weekend was a pleasant one. We went shopping Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Mike doesn't seem to mind it as much as he used to, even though I still can't do the kind of shopping I enjoy while he's along. We bought new knit pants and shirts for him, his others were getting a little threadbare. I got new sandals and a purse.

The 2nd Sunday of Easter is usually a letdown after the 1st, lower attendance, less challenging music, and yesterday was no exception. There is such warm camaraderie among the choir members, though, I always get a lift in my spirits. Molly's sermon on peace was good, too, the part I heard.

In visiting with Nancy and David before rehearsal, I learned the difference in Disciples of Christ and Church of Christ. The first is the more liberal wing, they use musical instruments, the second is more conservative with all the singing done a cappella, and the one Nancy grew up in. When I mentioned that I'd read an article about Bishop Gene Robinson having a Disciples of Christ background, there was a long moment of awkward silence, no response from David, whose face actually paled, nor Nancy. A stink bomb could not have been more unwelcomed than that subject. They did launch into a laundry list of gay choirmasters, joking and laughing, which tells me that homosexuality, and the trouble it's causing in church politics, discussed in serious tones is not nearly as easy to do as joking and gossiping about those who are, and are or are not out of the closet. I was wrong to broach the subject so suddenly, maybe, but then I've never had the knack for small talk. It's no wonder I feel like a social outcast sometimes.

I've had a running dialogue with Hearts of Space people because their program is supposed to automatically scan each computer that logs in for the correct broadcasting bandwidth. Since mine is dial-up, I should be getting it at 32kbps, instead it's coming in at 64. Refreshing, logging out and in again, nothing seems to help. They've promised me some free time for the hassle, and have been super nice about the whole thing. There is obviously a bug in the software they need to fix. Most of their subscribers probably need the 64 speed. They could do like and let each user click on the correct speed, rather than depending on it to be done automatically.

It cost me almost $40 to fill up my gas tank Saturday, and it wasn't even down in the "2 gal. left" zone. George Bush may not have raised taxes, but he might as well have. And because he's so beholden to the oil companies, he can't do anything about their greed.

Mike wants to look into the possibility of getting a tri-bike. We see them out here quite often, and it's something he could do, he says. They look expensive, but maybe not.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mike finally conceded that letting Mick out occasionally keeps the litter box from becoming too full too quick, something he will have to contend with while I'm gone. And since he doesn't want to ask Jon to do it, and he can't do it, maybe he should not worry so much about that darn cat when he's outside. He lifted his left hand to his left ear to scratch an itch this morning, first time he's been able to do that since the stroke. I manipulated and massaged his hand and arm a good bit last night after he went to sleep. Maybe it helped.

We got a good amount of rain yesterday. Everything looks freshly washed this morning. The grass and leaves were sparkling at sunrise when I let the dogs out, the whole landscape looked surreal and magical. I sat on the porch with a cup of coffee just breathing in the beauty.

I'm going shopping before the Saturday rush hits the stores.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I came downstairs this morning to an overturned, torn up floor lamp, compliments of Mick, I'm sure. I didn't realize lamp shades could be so easily pulled apart like this one was. And why he would attack the lamp is another mystery. A cat is gonna do what a cat is gonna do, no apologies, no regrets. He may spend most of his time on the back porch today.

My poet son has shared the first draft of his masterpiece thesis with me. Seems his inspiration for this freak show fetish came from family and friends. I agree with his friend Jane Wilson: "for every strange photo, for every outlandish freaky oddity, there's likely just a normal person, trying like the rest of us to get through life unscathed, thinking ourselves uniquely weird, however hidden our record-breaking qualities...." I'm glad he used that, it softens the starkness of the pictures he paints. Benji is so good at what he does - expressing himself dramatically. Where did he get all that talent? And here I am, doing what he so obviously deplores, gawking. Maybe he's right, there's a fascination for the twisted and kinky in all of us.

Betsy, Mike, and I attended James Martin's recital last night at St. Philips. He should have been singing to a standing-room-only crowd, but there were maybe 50 people in the audience. I understand he pulls better numbers in New York. What a voice and stage presence! David accompanied him on the piano and worked himself into a sweat-soaked shirt. They held hands taking bows, and it looked so natural; they obviously love each other a lot. My favorite selection was "Come Sunday," the Duke Ellington tune made popular by Mahalia Jackson. WOW!

I intended this to be a pajama day, but Mike left the house without the grocery list, and doesn't want to go back out. There's nothing on it that can't wait. We've got a 90% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. We definitely need the rain after three weeks of nary a drop. Then the temps are supposed to go back down to nearly normal for April. We've had a preview of summer this week, made me wish for April showers. Mike brought a movie home that he wants me to watch with him, An Unfinished Life. Might as well.

2 hours later. I liked this movie. I've never seen Robert Redford so disheveled and scruffy, and Morgan Freeman looked like he had been mauled by a bear. Angelina Jolie played her part well, but the girl who played 11 yr old Griff, Becca Gardner, was the best. And that guy playing the sheriff, Josh Lucas, reminded me of Matthew McConaughey. Funny that Redford was playing Jolie's father-in-law, since she's now with Brad Pitt, who, I always thought, looked like a young Robert Redford, more in his early days than he does now. Camryn Manheim is always good.

We had about 5 minutes of rain, hopefully we'll get some more before it blows out of here.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Understanding the current controversy in the Episcopal church became easier after I read this article. It was long, and difficult until I got rid of most of my distractions. My earlier simplistic analysis was correct, it boils down to the differences within the church regarding scriptural authority. Entitled "A Church Asunder" by Peter Boyer, it can be found at this (in the April 10 edition) website:

When you add to that the dispute over property that occurs whenever a parish withdraws from its diocese, then, it seems, some sort of split is inevitable.

I like what Bishop Griswold said, “I’m struck by the fact that in the Gospel, in John, Jesus says, ‘I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when the Spirit of truth comes, the Spirit will draw from what is mine, and reveal it to you.’ Now, when we look at how we have come to understand the cosmos over the centuries, how we’ve come to understand the complexities of our physicality, and have seen advances in surgery and medicine and all the rest of it, we can say to ourselves, ‘Why didn’t God simply plant the fullness of this knowledge in us at the beginning? Why has it taken us centuries to be able to cure fatal diseases that existed in the Middle Ages? How unkind and thoughtless of God not to give us all the information at the outset.’ And yet, we’ve been structured in a universe in such a way that truth is progressive.”

A progressive theology is required to receive the truth that has been revealed progressively. To assume all truth for all time has been encapsulated in The Holy Bible, as we know it, goes against everything a Spirit-filled Christian should advocate, or so it seems to me.

Mike wants me to read the article to him. If he lasts through the whole reading, I'll be very surprised.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The mundane thoughts that bubble up all the way to expression in this journal are the froth of the other 1500 thoughts that come during the day. That number is an average for the average person, I read somewhere yesterday. How they arrived at that number was not quite clear, I mean, how could that possibly be measured? They had people walking around all day with electronic gear hooked up to the brain? I wonder how that compares with dementia and Alzheimer patients.

I've been searching for a column that Ann Landers wrote about dogs. I had copied it a couple of years ago (but have since lost) from her archived columns, but they are no longer available. Seems Creators Syndicate has published books from them and to get it, I'll have to buy a book. I've browsed several dog lovers' sites thinking one of them would have posted it, but didn't find it. I've read some sweet tributes, but not the one I'm looking for. This is not it, but it's close:

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from my Dog

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and
the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Take naps and stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day,
be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on affection and let people touch you -
enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck.
When you leave your yard, make it an adventure.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing
and pout - run right back and make friends.
Bond with your pack.
On cold nights, curl up in front of a crackling fire.
When you're excited, speak up.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

This is Georgia's 60th birthday. Freddy turned 60 in Jan., Carole will in July, then mine in Nov, and Jean's the next day Dec.1. The 5 of us who were in school together for 12 years should get together again. The last time was at a party at Philip Williams' house in Pville in 1996. I was the only Baptist in the bunch growing up, but I went to the Methodist Camp Lake Stephens with them every summer, a marked contrast from the Baptist all girls Camp Garaway, which I attended in pre-adolescent years.

Georgia takes B12 shots, she told me when she was here. I didn't ask her why, they're usually for mental alertness and energy. Maybe I should consider some B12 for myself. I wonder if it makes a significant difference. I may call her. I talked to her brother Jerry at church Sat. night, he was serving as one of the LEM's when Bishop Gray was there. He's got the Partlow genealogy I had asked her for. I need to call him back about that, too. Their dad is in a nursing home in Oxford with Alzheimer's. Georgia is probably worried, as I am, that she will suffer the same fate as her mentally incapacitated parent. As sharp as she was/is, it probably worries her more than it worries me. I've never known a time when I was not considered a scatterbrain. It’s a much shorter distance between where I am to there than she would have to go.

Angela Sweeney finally sent the details I needed to set up Mother’s income trust checking account. I’m hoping someone at the bank can make more sense of it than I did.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The house for sale on Parkway is clearly out of my price range. It's got the kind of space that would be perfect for two couples - two downstairs master suites, 2 offices, 3 bedrooms upstairs. It's 20 years old and from the photos looks like it could use some updating. Even though it's higher than I can afford, it's lower than most houses that size, which makes me wonder if it has foundation problems. That's so prevalent in our area with Yazoo clay. If we sold our rental properties, we might could swing it, but the whole process is more hassle than I can undertake right now. If the Madison house were suddenly rezoned to commercial, I wouldn't hesitate, even if I had to take amphetimines for the necessary energy. It's not as close to the water as we are now, but still within walking distance. If Ricky and Mary Ann would move back up here, we could live very comfortably there, but that's impossible wishful thinking, for sure.

Mike needs my help again, he's got an appointment this afternoon with clients and wants me to go with him. Today I don't mind. The dogs went with us yesterday and that always makes safe driving a challenge, but they seemed so insecure after I'd left them for 5 days in a row, I couldn't bear to do it again. Today they're staying here, I don't care how sad they look. I love coming home and being greeted by them. (God, help me be as good a person as my dogs think I am.) It reminds me of the way Ricky and Benji would run to me squealing, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" and hug me and cover me with kisses when I picked them up at Joyland. It's one of my favorite memories.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Since my roses were not exposed to freezing temps this winter, they have put on an effusive display of color for the last couple of weeks. My Joseph's Coat rose is covered with delicate yellow, bright gold, apricot, peach, and red. The Don Juan would be climbing to the balcony if it were on a trellis, instead it has spread a profusion of deep red fragrant roses over the top surface of my neighbor's hedge. The geraniums and the petunias survived, too, and are sprouting new blossoms everyday, the petunias more tenatively than the geraniums. I gave them all a dose of fertilizer this morning to encourage them. Spending $200 at the nursery will not be necessary this year. We've also got honeysuckle and privy hedge perfuming the air. Ah! the sweet smells of spring. High temp today is supposed to be 90*.

Jay-Jay's asthma has been giving him breathing problems for the last couple of days. I think he may suffer from spring allergens like the rest of us. Just when I think I'm going to have to rush him to the vet, he quits wheezing and acts ok. Holding him tummy side up like a baby in my arms seems to help restore normal breathing. His appetite is good, so that usually means there's nothing seriously wrong. Was it Truman who said, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." I say, "If you want a baby who doesn't grow up, get a dog."

I'm taking Mike back to the shoe shop this afternoon. Somehow he has managed to tear most of the stitching loose on one of his velcro buckles. I was really hoping this would be a pajama day, but no such luck. Tax returns have to be mailed, too.

I did not get to the nursing home yesterday. My nap lasted longer than I thought it would, almost 3 hours. I must have been more tired than I realized. I may go by there today while I'm out. Multi-purpose trips have become the norm for us, given the price of gas. No more do we crank the car just for one errand. $3/gal is predicted by summer. Thanks, Dubya!

Last night's Hearts of Space program was really special - Quiet Prayers, they called it, a sacred choral collection for Easter. This week's program can be listened to for free, but archives are available only with a subscription. I don't recall a Hearts of Space program I didn't like, so I would definitely enjoy access to all their programs.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What a week! Jesus is risen, and the choir can finally rest for a couple of days. Hallelujah! One of our tenors described our singing this morning as phlegmatic, but his standards are much higher than mine. I thought it was heavenly. And the string quartet was like the cherry on top of a supreme sundae. It just doesn't get any better down here!

I think I'm about over my concussion. I've felt better today than I've felt all week. Jan Evers said I should have had my head x-rayed to see if I cracked my skull. So many of the symptoms of concussion sound normal for me, it's kinda hard to know, but they were worse this week. If my brain looks anything like the bruise on my butt, it's no wonder it ached.

I talked to Mary Ann for a few minutes this afternoon, they were making Easter pictures, and I was walking into the restaurant. She said she would have the boys call me later this afternoon.

Mike left for Ron's after we had lunch. I'm planning to take a nap, then go visit Mother. Betsy and I want to go look at a house that's for sale on Parkway. The price is way out of my range, but if the four of us made mortgage payments, we could probably swing it. Depending on Betsy and Richard to contribute may not be wise, but she has been very regular with her rent for 3 years. She and I have discussed the 4 of us living together in our golden years, and it makes more sense than some other options.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

After reading about concussions, I concluded that's what I had and may still have. With headaches every day, feeling sad, emotional, vision still blurry with reading glasses, concentration and memory problems, that's probably what was wrong. I feel a little better today, but a headache continues to nag at me and when I went to the grocery store this morning, I felt a little shaky and disoriented, not dizzy, but weak. Treating the headache and resting is all a doctor can tell you to do - basically, just sweat it out. I found this paragraph from of particular interest:

After a concussion, the arteries in the brain constrict. This reduces blood flow to the brain and lowers the rate at which oxygen is delivered to the brain. At the same time the demand rises for the sugar glucose which provides energy to the brain for healing. But the need for more glucose cannot be met by the narrowed arteries and this discrepancy ("mismatch") creates a metabolic crisis. Eventually the damaged brain cells (that survive) do slowly repair themselves, the demand for glucose eases, the arteries to the brain open wider, and blood flow to the brain returns to normal. However, the brain stays in a lowered metabolic state, a quiescent condition, for a considerable length of time before it can return to normal.

This may explain the craving for carbs I've had this week. I do snack too much in the p.m., but this week has been worse than normal.

Betsy told me yesterday that Laura & family are staying at The Simmons House, a recently renovated B&B in town. She also told me she's been going to Fannin Methodist Church lately. Keith Tonkel preached a revival there this week. She really likes the small country church atmosphere, she said. Still haven't heard if Paul is a grandpa, yet. Vance and Bethany were expecting a baby girl this month, not sure of the due date.

I feel the need for a nap, something else I've been doing a lot lately.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

When Mike retires at 6pm everynight, I momentarily feel abandoned. It's been his habit ever since his stroke. The dogs enjoy the routine, they're ready to get their 12 hours of sleep. Sometimes I lie down with them until they're both asleep. We usually watch Law and Order from 6-7, then I get up for another 4 or 5 hours of various other things, mostly playing Scrabble, reading, watching HGTV, doing laundry, washing dishes, then I get out the snacks and the wine and overindulge. It's become a bad habit, unhealthy to mind and body. It does seem to alleviate the loneliness I feel, however.

In one of the 12-step recovery books I've got around here, I read that excess weight is a symptom of unmet emotional needs. If that's true, we must have an epidemic of unmet emotional needs, especially in Mississippi. I pooh-poohed the idea, at first, then began to notice that the fat people around me were very "needy" people, or like my mother, in total denial of any needs. At the time, I was not fat, and I judged fat people harshly, but that has changed. Now I weigh 50 pounds more than I should.

And I am depressed. Which came first, overeating or depression? Am I depressed because I overeat and can't control it, or do I overeat because I'm depressed? Taking Zoloft 100 mg/day has helped me to muddle through the day in a mostly normal manner. The sadness and disappointments don't overwhelm me like they did before. My willpower seems to be paralyzed, at times. I see what needs to be done, I know I should make better choices, but I don't care.

Maybe if I were journaling in the p.m. instead of the a.m., it would help me stay out of the fridge. Then my mornings could be used more productively. I haven't felt good this week, at all. I've had headaches and backaches, maybe from the fall, probably should have gone to the doctor.

My pets have been a big help to me, nobody loves me so unconditionally. One of the things I do after Mike and the dogs go to bed is play with Mick. He's such a mischievous little kitten, and loves to be petted. I hate having to shut him out of the room when I go to bed, he wants so badly to follow me in and would sleep in the bed beside me if it weren't for the dogs. But he doesn't sleep all night like they do, cats prefer to sleep in the daytime and play at night, so that wouldn't work.

I called Betsy's to see if Laura and Sara are coming. Richard said they are flying in tomorrow night. When I asked where they're staying, he said in a motel somewhere, so readying the guest beds for company will not be necessary. I'm somewhat relieved they're not planning to stay here. I'm not in the mood for company. With Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter morning services at the church, I'll be doing good to just show up.

I've got to do something about this headache.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I had to rescue Gus from the yardman's weed whacker. When I walked out to call him in, he was about to get it from one of our "no hable Ingles" immigrants we've heard so much about in the news lately.

I haven't decided how I feel about that issue. I hate that we make it illegal for anyone to come here who wants to. America, as we know it, would never have come about if we had been required to go through "legal channels." But do we put out the welcome mat for anyone and everyone? What choice do we have? Our borders are much too long to create any kind of meaningful restriction, yet there are those who envision and promote a sort of "great wall of China" structure. What happened to the philosoply behind "The New Colossus" (by Emma Lazarus).

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land:
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost, to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Seems like we had to memorize that in 8th grade, but all I remembered were the last 5 lines. I've never forgotten the idea behind it, however. We descend from this "wretched refuse." We used to be known as the land of opportunity, and I guess we still are by those who have so much less. But we cannot continue to support social services for the masses while Dubya continues to cut taxes for his wealthy buddies. He seems to think the churches will pick up the slack, and they usually do, but more of our taxes should be going for these services, and less for that stupid war of his. AAAAAaaaagh!

Speaking of taxes, we got good news on ours. We owe less than $200. That's a first for us. If I could find all the documents, we'd probably be getting a refund. And I was going to be so organized this year.

We talked to the Senior Partners about hiring help for Mike while I'm gone. They charge $10.25/hr and have a 4 hr daily minimum. That made Mike start thinking seriously about what he can do for himself, and he actually agreed that if he took his bath at night before retiring, he wouldn't need any help except with the shoes and socks the next morning. And if he weren't so anal, he could manage the pets without help, but he still deludes himself by thinking they should be controlled. We haven't asked Art, yet, if he would mind helping. I may send him an email, so he can take his time and think about it before responding.

My right hand is swollen and blue-green-purple from the fall on Monday, and I've got the ugliest bruise on my backside I've ever had. I had a bit of a headache yesterday, but today it seems ok. My back is stiffer than usual, too. Gray, my neighbor in 25, said he heard a commotion, but didn't hear a call for help, so he didn't come to check on me. I told him not to wait for an invitation if it happens again. I could be knocked out cold. If I'd been 69 instead of 59, I'd probably be in the hospital with a broken hip.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Cambridge Singers are on my web radio doing Byrd's Plorans Plorabit. Next up is Chanticleer singing O Lord, Rebuke Me Not by Purcell. Who would not feel peaceful and transcendent listening to this music? It always lifts me above worldly cares.

Then I get Benji's email and I'm transported back 30 years to answer the complaints of one brother against the other. I'm afraid I got a little preachy with him, but it's been a while since he had one of his mother's sermons. As long as they don't become bitter toward one another like their father and his brother, maybe I should be satisfied. I just have to believe my sons are more magnanimous and charitable than Marguerite's are. To think all my effort to raise them differently was for naught grieves me deeply.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

I've got laundry to do and a garage to clean. I just wish this music was piped all over my house. I hate to leave it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I just came in from a trek around the house with Gus, Jay-Jay, Patches, and Mick. Whistling "Oh my darling Clementine" I managed to keep them all going in the same direction. The dogs are becoming more tolerant of Mick, who can be a buzzsaw if provoked. Gus is not nearly as likely to get in his face as he was at first. He had to learn the hard way. Jay-Jay has kept a safe distance from Day 1, and his incessant barking seems to be lessening. Patches has lost some weight, which she needed to do, since Mick will not let her hog the food bowl anymore. She prefers the serene outdoors to the aggravation of the playful kitty inside; after all, an old lady deserves her rest. Mick is sleeping on top of the modem now, and the dogs are asleep on the daybed by the window. Morning nap time has

I've been reading Real Live Preacher, one of my favorite blogs. His description of living in El Paso gives me a much more favorable impression of my birthplace than I ever got from my parents. Mother couldn't leave the desert quick enough when Daddy was discharged two months after I was born. According to her, I was the only white baby in the nursery. The nurses slicked down my black hair with baby oil, she said, and I looked so much like the others she refused to take me the first time they brought me to her room. "That's not my baby!" she exclaimed, "that's one of those little Mexicans." Daddy enjoyed telling that, and how he was the first to hold me. He was always more maternal than she was.

Mike's at the gym, and is planning to go to Ron's later. The codependent in me worries that he's drinking too much beer when he's with Ron, but I can't police him. That friendship is too important for me to interfere. He asked me to call around and get some idea of what a home health nurse will cost while I'm gone to Ireland. I really meant for him to do that himself. He's asked both Ron and Jon if they will help him that week. Both said they would, but neither will commit to the whole week. He now says he'd rather pay somebody and not impose on his friends. That's probably better. Neither Jon nor Ron like to wake up early like he does, and that's when he needs the most help.

I've found a new internet radio service
I listened to old-timey gospel music yesterday, and right now I'm listening to the Cambridge Singers do John Rutter's Turn our Captivity. Betsy and I both had wished to find a site that offers classical sacred music, so I sent her the link. There is another station that offers nothing but pipe organ. As much as I love it, I can't listen more than an hour, two at the most. It all begins to sound alike. I really need to take a music appreciation course. There's probably one offered online.

2:00 pm. I just took a painful fall. Cleaning the deck and garage seemed a good idea when I started it, but when I climbed on the step stool to repair a fallen clothesline, it collapsed and I fell hard on my butt, then my head hit with a thud. I've got a bad bruise and bump on my left upper thigh, my right hand was twisted, but I don't think it's sprained, and I've got a knot on the back side of my head and a headache. I didn't notice the hole in the plank next to where one of the stool legs went. When I shifted my weight, it slipped into the hole. That would definitely cause it to fall down. I don't think I want to clean anymore right now. I do need to get the dogs back in the house, tho. If I had knocked myself out, not a soul would have known. My neighbor in 25 was in his garage, but if he heard anything, he didn't act like it. And Mike's gone to Ron's.

3:45 pm. I got about a fourth of the work done that needs doing. After I rested and made sure nothing was broken, I went back to work. Tomorrow I'll borrow Art's leaf blower, get rid of the leaves and other debris that has collected for several months, then wash everything down with the water hose. The hot tub is still nasty. Maybe I can get Daniel and his friend to clean it again like they did last summer. All it cost me was a couple of Sonic cheeseburgers and large cokes.

I took a quiz that tells what my college major should be/have been. It was a 4-way tie between Journalism, Math, Art, and Psychology. I guess that's why I got so bored with Marketing. But Math? Two years of college algebra was as far as I went with that. The very thought of calculus and trigonometry gave me the willies.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I've been listening to old-timey Christian music on a new web station I found. A lot of it was recorded before pc's were even conceived. I got nostalgic for familiar hymns after a Sunday service of mostly unfamiliar hymns. Or was it when I listened to Sandy Patty all the way to church? Anyway, I was ready for some Old Rugged Cross and Victory in Jesus. As much as I like the challenge of new (to me) music, I do miss the songs associated with the church of my childhood sometimes. I listened to a piano/organ duet that brought me to tears - Andante Mozart.

Mike went to Borders to meet Bonnie for an hour or so. He took her birthday gift and Christmas gifts. She was a little chagrined that he got her a cell phone for Christmas and she didn't even care enough to come visit long enough to pick it up, something she wanted badly, but didn't dare ask for. She's enjoying her new job, he said, and is working about 20 hrs/wk. Jennifer from the Y came in while they were there, and she came over and hugged Mike and told him how much she'd been missing him. I am so glad that happened while he was with Bonnie. I hope it made her a little jealous.

Betsy told me this morning that Laura may be coming for another visit this week, bringing Sarah and Nathaniel with her. I told her they were welcome to stay here if they want. She also reminded me that Vance and Bethany's baby girl is due this month. I do hope somebody in my brother's family lets me know when the blessed event occurs.

Most of my day has been spent playing Scrabble. I'm trying to get my average back up to where it was. After a series of bad games, it went down lower than it's been in a long time. I've upped it by 3 points today, 8 more to go.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Holy Week is upon us. The choir is so busy between Palm Sunday and Easter it reminds me of Spring Revival in the Baptist Church. And Bonnie's 19th birthday is Monday the 10th.

Benji said Pip took his first steps yesterday from his mom to him with the promise of a chocolate reward. And he's learned he can climb just about anything. I can't wait to see him.

The storm missed us last night. We got a shower, that was about it. But Tennessee got hit again with tornados, 2nd time in a week, killing 12 people. Yesterday they were closer to Nashville. The Tupelo area had some trees down and hail damage. Weather here for the coming week is predicted to be as close to perfect as it gets in Mississippi - mostly sunny, mild days, cool nights.

My "to do list" is getting longer instead of shorter. Better get off my duff.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I've been considering a different title for this blog, but I'm stumped. Ms. Sippi came from hearing Chris Matthews show off his new understanding of how we Southerners pronounce Mississippi, after having attended a meeting of Sou. Republ. Leaders in Memphis. I think it was Trent Lott that set him straight on using only 3 syllables instead of 4.

As it relates to me, I am a Mississippian who sips, one who drinks slowly in small amounts from the punch bowl, the river of life, whatever. Scott Peck had this to say in A World Waiting to be Born:

Contemplative prayer may be looked at as a life-style. If so, it is a life-style dedicated to maximum awareness. Those who adopt it - contemplatives - desire to become as conscious as they can possibly be. To this end, they set aside vast amounts of time for quiet and solitude. After a while this requires little discipline; they need and yearn for such time.

They do not see this as time-wasting. To the contrary, they feel it is the most efficient and cost-effective way to live. For them, as Plato put it in the Dialogues, "the unexamined life is not worth living." What we contemplatives do during our precious quiet times is to examine our lives. We enjoy experience but only in relatively small doses. What we do is take a little bit of experience and, by contemplating it, milk it for all it's worth. We believe that in this way we can ultimately learn more - become more conscious - than those who lead more frenetic lives crammed with far greater amounts of unreflective experience.

One of the things I am continually doing during my prayer time is checking out my life with my Ideal Observer. "Tell me, God," I am asking, "What I just did or what I am thinking of doing - how does it look through your eyes? Does it look civil?"

So I guess Ms. Sippi is a good pseudonym for me.

I've collected snippets like this for the past 15 years in a journal that is almost full. Everything in it resonated at the deepest level with me at the time I copied it. I wish I had recorded the date with each of them, then I could look back and remember more about what was happening when it spoke to me. Most of them still affect me deeply, and I use this journal to ground myself when I'm at loose ends. It's my own personal prayer book, one of the things I would have to grab if the house were on fire.

I thought about opening another blog and putting just these words of wisdom in it. But typed out, they don't have the same affect on me as the handwritten pages. They do say a great deal about who I am, so after I'm gone, maybe one of my children or grandchildren will treasure it. I would love to have had something like that from a parent or grandparent. And maybe if I typed it all out and posted it, someone else could draw strength from them.

But what would its title be? Something about Pondering - She kept these sayings and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19) Would I be presumptuous to use The Pondering Heart? I really don't think Eudora Welty would be offended.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

When I went with Mike to the Quest meeting on Monday night, there was a young man there who had lost his short term memory function. Since Jan05, he's seen several specialists, been diagnosed with more than one brain malfunction, and has struggled to adapt to his job as a computer engineer without the benefit of full mental capacity. His attitude was positive and optimistic, and I instantly admired his tenacious courage. It was then I determined to quit worrying about dementia.

In watching my mother's mind deteriorate over the last 15 or 20 years, I've had this great fear that the same thing would happen to me. I learned from listening to this man that there are therapies and coping strategies available to help. If my mother had acknowledged her problem and been willing to work on it, she might not be where she is. The root of her problem, I believe, was hyperthyroid causing depression and cognitive slowing, that coupled with her lifelong habit of denial that anything is wrong. By the time she started taking medication for the depression, she was too entrenched in her downward pattern to stop or slow the decline.

She hung on to her music and her word puzzles until she was 84, then she lost interest in doing those, or maybe she was not able. She still responds to music, humming the tune to whatever I play on her small electronic keyboard, frowning when I hit a wrong note. Sometimes when I visit, I give her "spelling tests," she never misses one word and that always makes her smile, but she can no longer play her organ, or hold a pencil to write.

She still remembers to watch the clock for mealtime, and wheels herself to the downstairs dining room to eat. When the nursing home staff realized how it helped her to use this small amount of initiative, they started allowing other patients who were able to do this. No longer are they required to stay in their 2nd floor unit and eat with the other Alzheimer and dementia patients. She was eating her lunch the last time I was there, and I don't think she was ever aware of a daughter's presence. I did remove the glasses she was wearing, they were somebody else's trifocals. She has reading glasses, but they're forever getting lost. When I asked her why she was wearing glasses that didn't belong to her, she said, "Shhh, don't tell anybody." I left them on the table when I rolled her back upstairs.

Weekly visits have turned into monthly visits. She barely recognizes me and makes no effort to interact. Unless I take her back to her room for a private visit, she's too distracted by the people around her to have a conversation. And the last couple of times I took her back to her room, she protested. I'm at a loss to know what to do when there's nothing I can do.

Paying her bills and taking care of Medicaid requirements are the primary ways I assist her now. And that ain't easy! I've got to go to the bank today and open her income trust account. Her caseworker has still not told me how much has to be deposited, but I hope it leaves enough to pay property taxes and insurance.

Mick stayed outside last night, something else I haven't told Mike. He escaped when I let the dogs out and never came back. I took the flashlight and walked all around the house several times looking for him, but to no avail. He was at the back door wanting in when I got up. And he hasn't been real interested in going back outside this morning. Maybe he's decided he'd rather be an inside cat. He's on top of my computer now. It's become one of his favorite resting spots. And it makes the dogs so mad when they see him up there.

Get off your butt, Cathy, and get dressed. You can't spend the day in the house, too much to do. For some reason my delete button is not working today.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

From The Forbes Billionaires list comes this gem regarding their signs:

The least common sign among billionaires? Sagittarius, which represents just 6 percent of the world’s wealthiest. Folks born under this sign are sometimes described as unorganized or even sloppy, and more focused on the big picture than on little details. “Counting on their luck and the grace of God, adventurous Sagittarians can act like tourists in the marketplace," explains astrologer David R. Railey. But what they may lack in business acumen, they make up for in creativity. Thus it's no surprise that Sagittarian billionaires include Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and producer Arnon Milchan.

I never aspired to wealth, now I learn that most Sagittarians don't. Unorganized, sloppy, more focused on the big picture than the details, this does sound very much like yours truly. Today's horoscope leaves me cold, however:

Conditions still favor buying mechanical devices for home and family. Sound and entertainment systems fall into this category.

Would that include a digital camera? That's the only mechanical device on my wish list.

Tony just called to tell me the Jag repair will cost $800, sounded like the body shop added some unnecessary stuff, but it is a Jag. There was no dent, just a paint scratch, several people and I examined it closely. My premiums are going up because this is the second claim in less than a year. (Maybe this is the mechanical device I'm supposed to buy.) If I can put 3 years between this accident and the next one, I can go back to the lower rate, but right now I'm in a higher risk category. Good thing I pay all the bills now.

Or maybe it's a new HVAC for the Harbor View condo. We're adding freon to the old one for the 3rd year in a row, and replacing a fan motor. The original unit is 22 yrs old, and will need to be replaced soon. I just didn't want to have to do it this year.

I wish we could capture the weather we're having now and have it all year long. Today's high should be 74, low 58. I don't think it got above 72 yesterday. If not for the very high pollen count, it would be perfect. Spring is bustin' out all over...

In the news yesterday was the latest discovery of the benefits of sun exposure. Rather than avoiding the sun altogether, like we've been advised over the years, now we're being advised to get at least 10 minutes of peak brightness for Vitamin D. I'd read recently that an hour's worth of winter sunshine a day relieves some symptoms of seasonal depression by lowering the melatonin produced by the brain. Those of us who have allergies usually suffer from depression, too. Might as well get the Flonase out. The sunshine is calling me.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

O God:
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.
In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.
And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. AMEN

These are the prayers we use every morning with our Bible readings. The first is For Today and the second is A Morning Resolve. They are in our devotional book, Forward Day by Day. It gives me something to work toward and points out my shortcomings in no uncertain terms.

I'm taking Mike to the gym this morning. He's lost his glasses, so we've got to backtrack his Monday route and try to find them. He can't drive without them.

6:24pm. We were out all day. I took the dogs to get baths, took Mike to the gym, we ate lunch at No. 1 China Buffet, picked up the 1099 from Coldwell Banker, then went to the mall and got new glasses for Mike at Eyemasters. With the rental income info, we finished the tax return. As soon as Mike sat down at his desk and picked up the tax work sheets, he found his glasses. So now he has a spare pair. I can't believe I didn't double check his desk when he told me, "No, I never wear them upstairs. If they are in the house, they are downstairs." Oh well, maybe I needed a reminder why I was so relieved to give up the chauffer job last summer.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I’ve been feeling very self-conscious since sending Ben the link to my blog. I could barely face him yesterday, I was so uncomfortable and embarrassed. I sent him a request this morning for a rate quote on changing our reservation from Shannon to Dublin, plus an apology for imposing my thoughts on him uninvited. So much of what I write is like dumping garbage. It clears my mind to be able to function in as nearly normal a manner as I can muster. To know and be known is a basic human need, but knowing who to share with and who not to share with has always been a problem for me. The weak boundaries of a co-dependant, Melody Beattie would call it. Maybe it's just poor impulse control due to ADD, or could it have been one glass of wine too many?

Being the kind-hearted person he is, Ben just wrote me back and consoled me. He says we have a lot in common. He reminds me a lot of David Frederick, whom I’ve missed very much since his father and I divorced. It’s hard to believe he will be 43 next month. Randy turns 40 this week. Wonder how he and Bridgett are getting along. They have 4 boys, last I heard, and were living close to Memphis, somewhere like Southhaven, or Olive Branch, maybe. I guess David is still in Huntsville, that’s where the last Christmas card came from in ‘04. When I didn’t get one in ‘05, I wondered if he’d moved, but Carla didn’t mention it in hers.

I just stuck a roofing nail in my foot and it hurts like hell. Wonder how long it’s been since I had a tetanus shot.

Ben also told me it would cost $250 to change our flight plans. I’d rather just take the bus, and spend that money on something else. I really wish Benji and I had worked all this out on the front end, but it will work ok like this and I refuse to worry about it. Pat had probably rather ride the bus, too. She seems a sensible, practical sort of person.

Mike is at the gym. He refuses to discuss the trip week, what he will do, how he will cope. The co-dependant meditation was about acceptance this morning, and rather than read it like he normally does, after I finish the Bible readings, he read a couple of paragraphs and shut the book. It was hitting too close to home, I believe. I offered to attend his meeting tonight with Dr. Irby to discuss his feelings and his options. They may know of resources that we haven’t considered. I think he could do it all himself if he would just make up his mind to do it. It wasn’t easy to get him to undress himself and do the shower by himself. He fussed and cussed and belly-ached for days when I refused to do it for him. Now it’s pretty much routine. But he still expects me to help with the drying and the dressing when he’s through.

He thinks I’m being unreasonable to think that one accomplishment should lead to another. I told him that the next time he gets in the shower, I’m taking the dogs for a long walk, and he can sit there and have one of his fits if he wants to, but nobody but the cat will hear him. He turned pale with panic. “I’m enabling you to be disabled,” I told him, “and I have to stop.” “But I can’t dry myself, and you know it,” he shouted. “Well, if you sit there long enough, the water will evaporate,” I replied. I knew this would not be easy.

I also talked to Terri about the accident with the Jag and told her to keep it between us. What Mike doesn’t know about this will not hurt him. She’s also going to correct the error on the last payment. Rather than renewing both policies for 3 months, they renewed the policy on my Buick for 6 months and sent me a refund of $19.62. Mike’s policy has expired. She says they’re changing the system to put both cars on one policy, so this should be the last time for this mistake. I just hope my premiums don’t go up.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Whew! I finally let Mike in on my plans, and I feel so much better. We were eating lunch at McAlister's after church, so he stayed calm. He did say once that he would not allow me to go, then realized he couldn't stop me, and began to ask about what would happen to him while I'm gone. He also told me I would have to make arrangements for his help. I told him he was going to do that, and he has 6 weeks to do it.

When we got home, I refused to help him undress and dress. He was able to do it all except the left shoe, and with daily practice, he can do that, I have no doubt. He cursed, then I told him that he would thank me one day for having more confidence in him than he had in himself, and he started laughing. I think the idea of having to depend on Ron for a week to help with bathing and dressing will be a strong motivator in his working toward more independence. I told him to think of it as a modified version of tying his right hand behind his back to make his left hand move, which is a therapeutic method used with some stroke patients. "Just consider me as your right hand, and I'm tied up," I told him. "That forces your working hand to do more than it's used to." The key will be thinking things through, taking his time, and not getting in a hurry.

To help with the pets, I'm considering installing a pet door, so they can come and go as they please. If I put it in the window by the back door, that will help contain them. I think he will be happier with all the pets here, rather than boarded. It will give him something to do and some company, and save money, too.

When he asked me how I planned to pay for this trip, I told him I could take it out of my IRA. I'll be 59 & 1/2 by the end of May, so I can finally make withdrawals without paying a penalty.

O God, I hope this works. That case of cold feet I got yesterday was no fun. The thin ice I skate on with Mike's health began to thaw and all I could see was a calamity.

The other secret that I may not tell him about ever is that I bumped the back-end of a Jag at church Weds. night. It belonged to one of the Beth Israel ladies working at their bazaar. It didn't dent her bumper, but it did scratch the paint. I left my name and number for her to call, and she did. When I called her back her husband answered the phone in the rudest manner imaginable, thinking I was a bill collector for the hospital. When I told him I had insurance information for his wife's car, but I would hang up if he insisted, he started apologizing and it turned out to be a hilarious conversation. Now, if I can just get Tony to keep his mouth shut. I'm becoming more like my mother everyday.

The time change last night left me feeling sleep-deprived. Believe I'll take a nap.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I managed a morning of housecleaning without breaking anything, turned over my Dr. Pepper, only accident I had. I do love a clean house, I'd just rather pay someone else to do it. The only luxury I ever really wanted was maid service, no big house or fancy car, keep the diamonds, the cruises, the country club, just let me have someone else clean my house. And if I have to do it myself, I'd rather have a small house that is low maintenance. Daddy said I was lazy, maybe so, but I hate housework, always have, always will. So did my mother. I don't want to let my house go to the extent she did, hers didn't get cleaned again after the cleaning I gave it when Daddy died, and she lived there another two and a half years. No wonder she stayed away from it as much as she did. My house is comfortable for the six who live here. When I get the deck and garage clean, I'll say spring cleaning is done.

I have a list of handyman repairs that need to be made. Mike's friend Ron says he will come over and help me one day soon. He seems such a restless soul, drinking too much, gambling too much, always on the lookout for something better than what he's got, never satisfied. He envies Mike, he says, who has satisfaction. Ron inherited a lot of money when his father died, over a million, Mike said, but you'd never know it to look at him. He looks like a bum and complains about the price of everything except beer and cigarettes. They went out earlier this morning for a ride around the lake before he takes his RV back to Terry. Then they were going to Logan's for lunch.

Benji has sent elaborate plans for my vacation, much more running than I imagined we'd be doing. I may have made a mistake in planning this trip. I still feel very guilty about abandoning Mike, who simply cannot fend for himself and who knows nothing yet of my plans, and I feel guilty for spending money we can't afford. For the price of the plane tickets alone, I could rent that house in Asheville for a week and have everybody together like we did in '04. What was I thinking? And now Pat has made plans to go with me.

I've painted myself into a corner. I can't go with a clear conscience, and I can't stay here without disappointing several people. What to do, what to do? No matter which choice I make, somebody is going to be very angry with me. I can't go over there and be a wet blanket, a party-pooper, a cheapskate. I can't stay here and not regret it. Until I feel more peaceful about this, I'll be torn.

The very idea of defying Mike has made me feel more tender toward him. We have had an unusually pleasant week together, no tantrums since he found out the commission check was his to keep. I had to remind him a couple of times to use a civil tone when talking to me, but other than that he's been considerate and calm.

Emotionally, he is still fragile, mostly because of Bonnie, which truly is a sad situation. When I see how vulnerable he is where she is concerned, I can't help but think that he is not strong enough to withstand another wounding. I'm not convinced he is strong enough to deal with my being away for 8 days. Unless he tells me he can make it without me and gives his blessing to these plans, I cannot justify the pain I will cause him. Maybe I should go with him to see Dr. Irby on Monday, have a joint session, talk through all the details with an objective 3rd party.

Pat just emailed wanting to know what I want to do. I wish I knew!