Thursday, March 26, 2015

Old Photographs for Mommy, too.

So, since I've made Mom's room be less visually overwhelming, that is, I de-cluttered the room, including walls, as my mother-in-law suggested, I've noticed that Mom is much calmer.  This was a good suggestion.  My Mom-in-law was right.

But, there was a problem.  That is all the wonderful pictures of family and friends that I used to have hanging everywhere, including some pictures of family that Marjie had framed for Mom years ago that I'd been planning to hang up . . . eventually . . . like lots of things on my to-do list, it was on the list and didn't get done until the time was passed for doing it.  If I hung them up now I think that it might give her a little bit of sensory overload.

This morning, Stephan took some of the pictures out of the frames for me, and he noticed that they were printed on really, nice, heavy card stock, so he put them in an envelope, and I gave them to Mom to look at.  She LOVES them.  I think that she likes them even better than traditional photographs, probably because they are easier to handle.  So, thanks to Marjie (who printed them all), me (who procrastinated), and Stephan (who got them out of the frames), Mommy has been enjoying these photographs today.

I had to take the pictures away to change out the bed, but I'll give them back as soon as she finishes her Boost.  (But I just HAD TO add this pic of her smiling.  She's so pretty!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Morning applesauce.  She's tired this morning.

Mommy and I are waiting around here.  We're waiting for lots of things, but I think that we're mostly waiting for spring.

You can see how tired she is from her picture (above).  She slept in this morning.  I finally woke her up to eat her Tylenol and vitamin mashed in a few spoons of the applesauce. (I'm giving her Tylenol again as I think I was wrong about it not helping.)

We're still waiting for the birds to find the bird feeder.  Although, yesterday a couple birds did land on the porch rail and eat some of the seeds I scattered there, under the bird feeder.

One of the nicest things we're waiting for is a visit from Pete.  He'll be arriving in Pittsburgh late Friday night, and it will be so wonderful to get to see him.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Feeding the birds!

Yesterday, Stephan hung up a bird feeder for Mommy.
He made sure to hang it where she could see it 
from her bed, from her recliner,
and from her chair.

If the birds will ever find it, she can watch them eat. 

Now, we're waiting by the window, but no birds yet.

Where are those stupid birds?
They are late for breakfast.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mommy and me

Marilyn and Laurie 1968

I night have already posted this, but I love it, and even posted twice, it's worth the second look.

I just love my mommy :)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring's springing!

Mommy and I are growing grass.  On Easter morning, we'll put our colored eggs in the grass, and it will be as pretty as a Martha Stewart morning.

We're also growing apple trees!

Every time I peel apples and make Mommy her applesauce, I save the seeds wrapped in paper towels in a ziplock in the refrigerator, and then the ones that sprout, I plant.

These are just a sample of the dozens of baby apple trees we've got growing.  I know that they are not going to grow into "officially" good apple trees, and that they'll be mutt apple trees.  But, they'll be our own apples, the only ones of their kind, and even if they are crab apples, crab apples deserve a place to grow just as much as a grafted Granny Smith, don't they?  At least, at Mittelwood, where there are lots of places to grow, we can make room for the mutts as well as the high born.

It's like life is living all around us, and God is blessing us with fertility this spring.  And, who knows, maybe some of these trees will actually live to be planted at Mittelwood, and they will grow up to produce the apples I peel for mom every day for her applesauce.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Out of Apples! And, a little grumpy (me, that is, not Mom)

Oh No!  I've been so good about making Mommy applesauce every, single day, and today we're out of apples.  Unbelievable.  And, there is no one to blame but me as before Amanda and David went to the store last night, they asked me if I needed anything . . .

That's the first bad news.  The second bad news is that the State still hasn't approved the budget for them to give me the Jochebed wages for caring for Mom.  Every week that passes hundreds of dollars go from the "might happen" to the "didn't happen" pile in my soul.  I feel a little like "psyche" . . .  you know . . .  imagine that you're a little thirsty and someone offers you a drink, and then suddenly you realize that you're really thirsty, and right at that moment, they pull the drink away and say: "Psyche! You thought I was going to give that to you, didn't you?  Ha ha ha.  Psyche."   Then, in this instance, in the case of these wages, my frustration that I'm not going to actually get paid melts down into guilt that I'm frustrated about it at all, because I shouldn't (AND I'M NOT) do this for any money anyway.  I am caring for Mommy because I love her, first off, and secondly because we, her children, have a responsibility to care for her, and it's my turn.

Yesterday I gave her Tylenol once again.  She'd been so achy the day before that I gave her Tylenol in the morning (with homemade applesauce), and she was way better (less achy seeming and happier) during the day.  I'm not sure if the achy she was the day after the doctor was because of the B12 shot, or the trip, or because I'd stopped giving her those two Tylenol with her vitamins every morning, or something else altogether.  Everything is so interconnected and overlapping and confusing.  I never can be sure what is cause/effect or just correlation and happening anyway.  So, today, she'll get a couple Tylenol in her mashed banana as I try and figure it all out.

So we're out of apples and the State of Pennsylvania is being sluggish about approving hiring me.  And, where are my eyes fixed?  On the bad stuff, as usual.  If you've got a moment to spare today, pray for me that I look on the bright side and "don't sweat the small stuff" and pull myself out of this slump.

[EDIT: Went straight from posting this to my daily Lenten video that talks today all about the fruits of the Holy Spirit  . . . and how to know if we are allowing the Spirit to work in our lives . . . the post above is a very "non-fruit-of-the-Holy-Spirit" rant.  :-(   . . .  . . .  . . .  I guess the plea for prayer at the end was really the best direction I could try to turn . . .]

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Making a garden

I remember walking down the rows in the garden Mommy and Daddy made before Mommy had to get a job at the dress factory.  This was back when she was a housewife and had the energy to have a huge garden.  I remember that the pole beans were so tall.  They were on poles that were taller than Mommy and Daddy, and there was netting strung between the poles, and the plants were full of beans.  I remember Mommy getting bowls of those beans and then snapping them into sections (or snapping them somehow . . . I can't remember exactly.)  I remember fried green tomatoes, fried zucchini, and fried summer squash from those gardens.  I remember spaghetti squash.  I remember helping to weed.  I remember eating carrots with Daddy - straight out of the ground, not even washed, just wiping the dirt off with our hands.

I think these big gardens were while Pepper (the pony) was still at our house because Mommy and I were in the garden when I found out that Brownie had died.  Daddy had found her body up behind Pepper's pen.  I remember how much Mommy loved to make gardens.

She didn't have the energy anymore after she started working at the dress factory.  She used to just sit on the couch and fall asleep when she got home from work.  She was so tired all the time.  She was too tired to make big gardens, but she still had her little flower gardens. Some of them she surrounded with rocks.  Didn't she make at least one in a big tractor tire, too?

Now, Mommy still can enjoy a little bit of the feel of dirt and stone.  She arranged all the stones in the pot in the above picture (after I repotted it for her).  It's not a big garden or a lot of stones and dirt, but I think the love of gardens and patting dirt and arranging rocks is still there.  I think she really loved getting her hands dirty and caring for her plant.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Skin question

Such an AMAZING complexion!

Her skin was so perfect pre-doctor's visit yesterday, and today her skin is dry and peeling!  It's not just where she was out in wind, either.  Her arms and her legs are peeling a little too, but her face is bad especially.  I'm worried that it might have been the stress of getting out in the car and so on (and, we've got to go and get the ultrasound - so she'll be out and about again).


I'll put cream on, of course.  Do you think she might be low on some vitamin or something?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Doctor visit today

We're all ready to get in the car and head to the doctor's office.

Today, Mommy had a doctor's visit.

We've got a script for an ultrasound to see if the blood clot in her leg is resolved.  If it is, we'll be able to stop the Xarelto (at least for a while).  The doctor said that with the amount of mobility that Mommy has now, she will be very susceptible to blood clots, and that even if this particular clot is cleared up, the chances are good she'll eventually be on Xarelto for the rest of her life.

The doctor agreed with Jeanie that since we don't really see any benefit from the Tylenol for the arthritis, we might as well stop giving it to her altogether.  She explained why the aspirin is such a better pain reliever for arthritis.  She said that if we can stop the Xarelto, we can start the aspirin again, of course.

The doctor wanted me to give Mom a pneumonia shot, and I was really uncertain about what to do.  So, I prayed about it, and then I said we could go ahead and give it to Mom.  (I don't want her to die of pneumonia and it to be my fault because I didn't give her the protection of a shot . . . )  Anyway, then they were out of the vaccine so God saved me from the trouble of making the decision about it.  (Since Marjie and Jeanie both think it would be better to not get it, and I was the only one who was thinking we should,  I'm very relieved that the decision was taken out of my hands.)  It's so hard  to know what to do.  The doctor said that pneumonia (or heart trouble) are the reasons that she loses people who are Mom's age.  The doctor is very caring, and I could see her concern for Mommy was real and that she really believed that the shot would be a benefit.

[edit for clarity:  I typed so quickly yesterday, and I was in such a hurry that I was even less clear than I usually am about what is going on, and especially about the pneumonia shot.  Before the doctor's visit, I was planning to get it.  Then, during the doctor's visit, I had second thoughts.  Then, I decided to get it again while I was talking to the doctor, and then they were out of the vaccine.  I'm relieved because I don't like making decisions at all, and I really don't like making them in a hurry.  Since they were out, I've got until her next visit in September to pray, research. ponder, and talk to everyone as they pray, research, and ponder, I will be able to go into the doctor's office informed and firm in convictions.  I'm still leaning toward getting the vaccine.  I'm just relieved that I didn't have to make the decision without thought.  Also, I am so glad that we are all supporting each other and working together to make Mom's life as good as it can be.  There is no way even just two humans will ever agree on every little detail of anything.  ----  In fact, in my case one human often disagrees with herself.  lol.  I feel blessed by God that we are such a supportive, understanding, and kind family.  God is good to us.  (end of edit)]

When we got home, we planted peas in rain gutters (the British pea-planting style).  We'll ease them out of the gutters and into the ground in a few weeks.  Since planting peas on Saint Patrick's Day is a tradition of the day, and I remember Mommy saying something about Grandpa O'Connor planting peas on St. Patrick's Day, I was really excited to actually make the St. Patrick's Day tradition happen for our garden this year.  (Grandpa wasn't so keen on planting by the phases of the moon, though.  I think it was Uncle Howard who told me that he said something like, "Why would you plant by the moon.  Is your farm on the moon?"  (Something like that - but the phrase was snappier than I am remembering it . . . )

While I was planting the seeds, Mom patted the dirt, and she also arranged the stones in the re-potted plant she brought from Jeanie's house.  (It's roots were growing out the bottom, so we put it into a bigger pot today while we had the dirt out . . . )

Here's one last pic of mom pre-doctor visit.  She is telling me that she doesn't know how to give me a big smile.  I think she does, though, doesn't she?  Lol :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is Daddy's birthday, and I have this crazy craving for Strawberry Shortcake.  I miss you, Daddy.  I love you.  You were the best father a girl could ever hope to have had.  Thank you for being my Daddy.  (I've allowed father/daughter to overide mother/daughter for this day of blogging :-)  I'm sure none of you will mind.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The love remains

Anna Laura O'Connor

I set up a slideshow of old pictures on my computer and had them playing at the kitchen table while Mommy was sitting there yesterday.  She could look at them if she wanted to or she could look at her magazines and papers if she wanted to.

She spent time looking at both and after a while she said, "Wait.  What was that one?"

So, I came over and scrolled back through the images to find this for her.  I paused the slideshow at this picture and just let her soak up Grandma.

Mommy's eyes were soft, and she was tearing up.

I know better, at this point, than to say things like, "Do you know who that is?" or "That's Grandma O'Connor,"  or even, "Your mother."  Because, sometimes, the name and the face are in separate parts of Mom's mind, and it seems to startle her to put them together.

Instead, I said, "Isn't she beautiful?"

And, Mommy said, "Yes."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Light and Shadow

Marilyn O'Connor, Cold Creek Cabin

I always loved this picture of mom, but it wasn't her favorite.  However, I think it fits with the video I took yesterday of the sun streaming into our shadowy kitchen.

The sun is shining on her here, more than sixty years ago, and it still shines on her today.

To see the video of mom enjoying the almost-spring sunshine in the kitchen yesterday, click here.

(Note:  Her hair looks a little funny in the video.  I'm giving her a dry scalp treatment.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

More Mommy Pictures

Yesterday, Mommy had to sign her name FOUR times, and the man who was here for her to fill out the paperwork was so kind and so relaxed that Mommy actually didn't stress over it very much at all.

It helped too, I'm sure, that she was in surroundings that have become a comfort-zone to her.  The last time I tried to have her sign her name was at a doctor's office where I was stressed out, and I know she picks up on that.  (Of course, she was still troubled that she couldn't write "very well" . . . and she kept saying things like, "I don't know when I got so bad," or "I'm not doing this very well.")

However, she wrote "Marilyn" with beautiful penmanship twice.  Then, the third time she said, "Should I write the other one too?" and the man said, "If you want to you can, but you don't have to."  So, the third signature Mommy wrote: "Marilyn O'Connor."  She wrote it beautifully.  At that moment, her mind was back somewhere before the above photo.  She was a little girl writing out her name with a perfect, well-formed, although just a bit shaky, hand.

Something must have started troubling her though, because for her fourth signature she only got a few letters of her first name.  Probably, somewhere in the back of her mind some connection was tickling her conscience, letting her know that something was a little off.  Or maybe it was just my reaction?  I was behind her.  She couldn't see me at all, but she picks up on vibes.  She is so intuitive.  It seems to me that intuition and reading emotions aren't put at much of a disadvantage by the theft of her memory.  In fact, I almost think that she's even more in tune with what others are feeling than she was before, and she was always empathetic and intuitive.

Since she wrote it, I've tried to process and kind of analyze how I felt about her being "Marilyn O'Connor" in her mind.  That was, after all, pre-me, and I've decided that I don't need her to remember me or who I am to know she loves me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beautiful Mommy

Today I am celebrating how beautiful Mommy is.  Isn't she stunning?

A little later today, at 3:00, I'll be having my first in-my-own-home job interview to see if the company who is being contracted to care for Mommy will hire me for some of the work.

I've got to say that I didn't realize how emotional this would be.  Somehow the idea of getting paid to take care of mommy is an emotional hurdle.  (Of course, I understand that I have to be home pretty much all day every day, and I realize that I can't get another job, and I need to earn money, so there is no guilt.  There is only this odd feeling of oddness that I can't put an English word to, but I can feel it in my soul.)

I wonder if Jochebed felt something similar to this when Pharaoh's daughter paid her to care for Moses?

And, also, how should a person dress for a job interview at home?  I've got curlers in my hair, and I'm planning to put on clean blue-jeans . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Growing into Grandma

Kenneth O'Connor, Grandma Parsons, and Mommy

I was looking at this picture and I thought how we grow into our ancestors.  I wish I had a clearer image of this one so I could see how much of the resemblance is only passing or how much Mommy really did grow to almost become her Grandma Parsons.  (Well, maybe it's better with an unclear picture because she's really only a little Grandma Parson-ish . . . even in this picture.)  But, there is certainly a resemblance, and I think that growing into her grandmother a really beautiful thought.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Keeping Mommy warm . . .

Our furnace has never seemed to keep up this whole winter.  Plus, I've been noticing that it takes forever to boil water on the stove and things are taking longer than I expect to cook in the oven too.  Now, I've got a clue as to why.  There is a leak in our gas line somewhere between the sidewalk and the basement.  That leak made it so the gas could never keep any real pressure.  (At least the leak was before the meter!)  The gas-guy's pressure gauge read 3 in the house just before the furnace, and he said it was supposed to read between 7 and 10.

Now, the gas is turned off, and so, of course, is the furnace, but frankly the house doesn't seem that much colder than it has this whole winter.  Since Mommy has been living with us, we've been supplementing with space heaters.  Last night, I bought one more space heater and we plugged that in.  But, other than that, we're about the same as we were before.

Over the last couple of months, I had started to think that the blow-in insulation that we added to the house must have settled from twenty feet high to about five inches high.  I didn't realize that if the gas pressure was low the furnace would just kick down a few notches, but would still run.  Same thing is true for the kitchen stove.

No wonder we were so crazy-cold all these last few months (and pretty chilly last year too).  The year before last, the furnace had no trouble heating the house.  I'm hopeful that after they replace the line, we'll be in that warm spot again.

If you look at the above picture, the gas line is down near the big SUV that is parked in the lower road.  The gas guys have to dig from there to the house.  One of the guys told me yesterday to pray from them because this is a nightmare job.  So, you all pray too, and hopefully the nightmare won't be so bad for them.  It's awful cold. Pray they can keep warm or, at least, warmish.

(Edit to include a picture that is labeled - so you understand what the poor guys are dealing with . . .  Also, should add that the gas apparatus to turn the gas on and off at the curb was so deep down that the tools the guy had wouldn't reach it.  He said either the valves down there had sunk or the road had been built up since the lines were installed.  He thinks the lines are original to the house.  That would make them over a hundred years old.)

(Additional edit:  I was talking to Jeanie about how old gas lines were made of wood, and I was trying to find the article where I read it (couldn't find).  I found this, and it's pretty scary.  I guess being cold for a little while is really not that bad, especially compared to the possibility of an explosion!

Old Photograph Magic

Anna Laura O'Connor and Paul

While I was looking back through ancient (more than one year old) Facebook statuses to try find the name of the guy who came out and looked at our furnace the last time it was looked at . . , I found this beautiful photograph.  Hannah has retouched it because the original was creased in several places (Thank you, Hannah :-)  )

It is one of the only pictures I know of that shows Grandma O'Connor when she was a young mother.  I thought you all would love to see a picture of Mom's mom as a young woman.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Been busy

I've been having a lot of guilt because I've been neglecting updates, but so much is going on, and I get overwhelmed easily.

Here, above, though, I've finally got Stephan's ancestral quilt hung up.  It was sewn by a sister of his great-grandmother, and it has made the room seem so much calmer,

 Mom is about half-way out of bed in the picture.  She likes to take breaks when she's getting up, and I've just been letting her set the pace.  :-)

(edit) Oh! And, I want to add that the beautiful, Southern garden scenes that Jeanie had hanging on Mom's wall, and I hung again up here are down now, and Mom POURS over them.  She just loves them.  She has them stacked up and she looks at them for hours.  When I made the room less sensory overwhelming, I was so sad to take those down, since I liked to look up at them myself.  But, now, I'm glad I did as Mom is enjoying them so much!