Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Procrastination is quite catching

Nana is the best procrastinator I know, which is not a good thing.  In one post, I mentioned how it took her three days before she went to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy.  My latest quandary is her bills.  It's not really the latest; this has been an issue for a while, but since her procrastination has become worse, the bill paying issue has festered.  They pile up and pile up.  She's old fashioned and likes to pay her bills in person, so some of the local bills (cable, insurance, water, etc), she wants to wait and go to the building and pay them.  This would be fine -- if it got done; if she didn't get "sidetracked" in doing so; if she didn't put it off for the next day or until she gets dressed for the day and then doesn't.

I suppose I could look at my "control freak" nature as something of a blessing in this situation, though I struggle with going too far (or maybe not far enough).  I don't want to rip Nana's independence from her, but when things like paying bills aren't getting done...where is the line?  I have no problem taking control of areas that need it, like her medication for instance, even though it can hamper my own independence at times.  (That's the real rub of wanting control, the paradox; being "Miss Independent" in my own life, often hampers my own independence.)  I don't mind writing the checks for her, which, lately is what has happened.  But it all is a struggle.  

As for Nana's procrastination, I wonder at its roots.  I wonder whether it is the dementia causing her to put things off and then she forgets or if maybe it is depression.  I'm inclined to link it to the dementia since the procrastination has become worse as her mind has become more diminished.  There are other "chores" that she puts off as well; I've heard stories of other people with dementia where things didn't get done, washing dishes for example.  Just another step on the road.

And darn it if it isn't catching!  Normally I pay a bill as soon as I receive it in the mail, but lately, they sit there for a few days...so bad.  Of course, Nana's primary care doctor (the one with whom I'm not very impressed) would probably call this normal -- according to his logic, we'll all have Alzheimer's by the time we're 80.

P.S.  I want to say that I don't write these posts regarding life currently for sympathy or to get encouragement from others, even though encouragement at any point in life is welcome.  I don't need sympathy or a shoulder to cry on; God is more than enough for that. Rather I write them 1) to get it out of my system, to get out of my own head and 2) in the hopes that someone else will read them and know that they're not alone and themselves gain some encouragement.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Revisiting My Childhood -- The Witches

     I'm watching again a few movies from my childhood (a surprisingly short list).  Grasping at straws, I suppose, trying to keep the fade from moving too fast.  Silly, I know.
     I watched The Witches tonight.  That movie scared the pants off me when I was a kid, and I hadn't watched it since.  There were three things from this movie that I've always remembered quite clearly:  the look of the Grand High Witch (in all her nasty, gory, glory), the boy's first encounter with a witch and the little girl in the painting.
     The Grand High Witch is still horrifying -- absolutely terrifying -- as is the little boy's first encounter with a witch.  Yeah, and the little girl who is stolen and placed in a painting to live out her days before fading away...(yup, I went there).  
     I guess the movie itself is no longer pee my pants scary since I'm no longer a child in danger of having my existence stamped out  by a witch.  Now that I'm older, there are a few fun things I observed:  the Grand High Witch meets a ghastly end by Rowan Atkinson (familiar to most as Mr. Bean); Downton Abbey's Mr. Carson plays the head chef; a little romantic tryst between the hotel manager (Atkinson) and a member of housekeeping -- not something I would have picked up on as a kid; the number of men who played witches (all witches in this story are female) -- that observation was especially fun.  Also, ironically, I believe this was my first exposure to Angelica Huston (she played that fearsome Grand High Witch) who, I think, is fabulous.
     There are two things I am taking from this viewing of The Witches: 1) I am no longer scared to watch this movie (seriously, I was very nervous, it really was horrifying to me as a kid) and 2) be wary of any large gatherings of women by the English seaside.
      Next on the roster: Troop Beverly Hills

A Toast to Self-Restraint

I've decided I need to keep some semblance of a written record of my life at present -- being a writer and all that, it might help.  Everything has been O.K., not so bad, but lately I'm starting to feel like Atlas with the world on my shoulders.

I'm a fan of the Property Brothers shows on HGTV (or Harlequin Hottie Heroes, as I like to call them).  It's often noted on the show how the little things "add up."  That's how I feel: the little things are starting to add up.  Under normal circumstances, it's not so bad, but when big things are in the stress cup, all the little things build and build.

Right now in my life I'm something of a caretaker.  That is not a little thing.  However, this thing takes up a lot of my stress cup.  I live with my grandmother who has dementia.  When I first moved here three years ago, she just had a bad memory, was a little absent-minded as she's always been.  Ever so gradually the bad memory became worse -- gradually as in I could see some change, some decline over a couple months.  Then that time span shortened; there were what I called "good days" and there were "bad days."  The good days she could make it through her day normally while the bad days she'd get confused and wouldn't be able to remember how things like the tea maker functioned.

Last November Nana went into the hospital with a blood clot, and the battle really began.  That was my "It all starts here" moment.

While Nana was in the hospital, it became clear she couldn't be in charge of her daily medicines.  For a while we kept the big bottles (this is how I will refer to her prescription bottles) in the kitchen as well as her pill case (daily doses).  Because of her growing confusion, this strategy didn't last long.  I had to hide the big bottles and case in my room.  I pop out her daily pills each day and set it out on the counter for her next to a daily chart to cross off each time she's taken her pills.

Her doctor's visits are handled by my uncle (her son).  If he can't go with her, I try to make sure her friend -- her one friend -- can.  Any more, Nana hardly remembers if she's even been to the doctor's on any given day.

So what was a gradual memory loss and lack of coherent thought noticeable from month to month has grown to a noticeable change from week to week, occasionally day to day.

My self-restraint is often tested.

When I was on vacation in July, Nana wanted to be left in charge of her medicines, which, of course, I wouldn't allow.  She was very put-out by this (a whole story in and of itself).  The trial of this week -- I needed more of the 1mg blood thinner.  So her primary doctor (of whom I do not have a very high opinion) wrote a prescription which my uncle picked up -- he picked up the RX orders I mean -- on Monday.  Tuesday I left a note with the RX order for Nana to pick up the RX from the pharmacy.  Both the note and the order were still sitting on the counter when I returned home Tuesday evening.  Nana was still in her nightdress playing on the computer.  "I was going to pick it up when I got dressed, and then never got dressed," she said.  It's "incidents" like these that are hard to forget, to let go of, to not throw back in her face -- "You want to be in charge of your medicines, but you don't show you can handle that."  Self-restraint to keep from saying these awful things is sometimes a daily practice.

These things I keep myself from saying, they're not bad in and of themselves.  The things I try hard not to say, which are often true -- really it is what the words would do to her that is awful.

So, everyone, lift your drink and say a toast: To Self-Restraint!

Slow Fade

It seems strange how slowly childhood dies.  Slowly it fades away.  Deaths and changes all around.  It all fades away like the color of a rug bleached in the sun over a long period of time.

Nana is no longer "Nana."  She's still a person, a human being that matters, important, but my Nana too has faded away.  And I'm not quite sure when it happened, when the last little bit left.  I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon.  Her memory is dying (deteriorating if you'd prefer a word less morbid), yes, but she still remembers who people are, still remembers where she lives and how to get home.  But she -- who she was -- is gone from me.

And all I want to do is curl up in Abba's lap and have a good cry about it.  I want to go to Nana and Grandpa's old house in Roanoke and sit in a chair, but the house isn't the same anymore.  Or go to Sue's house and curl up in a bed and have a good long nap, but it isn't "mine" anymore.

Gone.  All gone.  Lost.  

I cling desperately to every last memory and sensation, but it is gone.  And can be no more.

I've thought often lately of Neil Diamond's song "I Am I Said."  One line goes: "L.A.'s fine but it ain't home/ New York's home, but it ain't mine no more."  Making that line my own, I could say, San Diego's fine, but it ain't home; Virginia's home, but it ain't mine no more.

Like the Duplicitous Forest, my childhood screams but is not heard -- waiting for the Messengers to come and tell the story true, I suppose.  

I really must finish that story (cr "Heads or Tails" posts).

"Heads or Tails": Chapter One, Part One [Edited]

[Author's note:  This opening has changed rather a bit.  I decided that the opening I had originally written gave the wrong focus, the wrong impression.  The first major re-write of the opening had lost all the charm of the first draft; I've been able to write a little of that back, but not to the full measure.  I don't know that I'll post any more of the story unless requested, maybe a piece here or there, so enjoy.  P.S.  For those who've been reading these posts in order, Matt wanted to stay a Matt; Richard is gone -- for the most part.]
  "Heads we get married, tails we break up."  The goofy grin slid back on his face, and he raised his eyebrows.
   "What?" said Annabelle.
   "That's the opening."
   "How do you figure?" Annabelle Smith finally managed to stuff her arms into the cream-colored pea coat.  She grabbed the strap of her purse and stomped past Matt Jones, her friend and colleague of two years.  He'd been the one to get her this job – this fabulous job – her dream job of writing for the show.
Well, he didn't get her the job.  The Heads (as Matt and Annabelle called the producers) wouldn't have even considered her had she not some small ounce of talent or gumption; Matt simply brought their attention to her work via her blog.  The situation was most anomalous.  Annabelle, an American, often mused, Who knew that that one small (embarrassing) piece of fan fiction would land me here?  But here she was writing for one of her favourite British television shows alongside Matt Jones.
   And she would not allow him to keep her from her soft couch that resided in her cozy sitting room tonight.  It's been a long day already; Matt's borage of questions, his pulling the best of her out of her head to go on the page had left her exhausted.
   "You're just teasing me again, aren't you?" he said with his Northampton accent.
   "Matt, when have I ever teased you about this before?  Do you really think Vivianne and Richard would last as a married couple?  It would be like people insisting we be a couple."
   "Annie-bellie-wellie, I love it when you call us a 'couple.'"  Matt threw his arm around her shoulder and squeezed Annabelle to his side.
   "First, you goof, we are a writing pair, not a couple."
   "Ah, but we are a pair, my Annie-bellie-wellie."
   "A pair of cuckoo birds.  Don't interrupt.  Second, for the love of cheesecake, don't say my name like that."
   "Like what?  Oh.  Would you rather me sing it?  My dear Annie-bellie-wellie!" Matt warbled.
   Annabelle punched him in the arm laughing.  "Shut up."
   Matt's own laughter died down.  He clasped his hands behind his back as the writing pair walked down the corridor to Car Park A.  Annabelle knew her friend was muddling over an idea because his eyebrows gathered together.  However, she looked straight ahead and forced herself to charge forward.  "Seriously though – Annabelle – something needs to happen to really shake things up for our Richard, and maybe the act of marrying this Vivianne – remind me again, why Vivianne instead of Lucy or Amy or something?"
   "Because names are important, and this girl is meant to show Richard new life in some way; Vivianne means 'lively;' it fits.  You can't just go throwing names around, you know.  They're too sacred. 
In many ways, Vivianne is the hero Richard doesn't even know he needs."
   Annabelle knew she was probably being silly about the name thing, but it was an idea from which she could not shake herself free.
   "So Vivianne is the adventure Richard needs?"  He grinned the Matt Jones grin.  "Just like you for me, my Annie-bellie, my call to adventure."
   In spite of herself, Annabelle giggled.  "You are a marvelous man, Matt Jones, but I'm afraid it just wouldn't work between us.  I could never bring myself to worship cheesecake as you do."
   "Ah, I do love cheesecake."
   "You are what you eat."
   "Easy, Smith," Matt said as he held open the door to the parking garage.
   Annabelle stepped over the threshold and stopped.  She vaguely heard the heavy door shut behind her.
   "What is it?' Matt said.  She then felt him pause beside her.  "Ummm."
   "This isn't the parking garage," said Annabelle
   "A very astute observation.  No it is not."
   "Where are we?"  Annabelle turned.  The door they had come through was still there.
   "Suppose we've somehow managed to find ourselves on the set of a new show?"
   "Right.  So, they've moved Car Park A and built a set here?" 
   "Precisely."  Matt turned and yanked on the door while Annabelle threw her hand into her bag searching for her phone.  "Okay.  Don't panic.  The door is stuck.  And by stuck I mean disappearing before our eyes!"  Annabelle looked up.  The door literally was vanishing into thin air before the writers' eyes.  "Um, Annabelle?"
   "Yes, Matt?"
   He took her hand as she looked in astonishment at the space where the door to Car Park A once was.  "I think we're in trouble."
   "Oh cheesecake."
   "Don't take the name of cheesecake in vain."
   "Sorry," she choked.  Annabelle turned the other way to face what was supposed to be Car Park A but was now a forest of evergreens.  "I can't find my cell.  I must have left it on my desk again.  Do you have yours?"
   Matt patted the pockets of his pants and searched those of his corduroy jacket.  He looked at Annabelle regretfully and shook his head.  She sighed and looked back at the landscape before them.  They appeared to be in a forest of dense evergreens and some scattered oaks.  The trees hovered so closely little light filtered in.   The skirts of the evergreens were high enough to allow a grown person to walk, but the trunks littered the forest floor.  The limbs and roots of the scattered oaks were slung like ropes blocking entrance here and there.  Needles and leaves on the forest floor were scarce so that the dark dirt and oak roots could be seen.
   "So.  Shall we carry on?" said Annabelle. 
   "What?  You mean go through the forest of possible no return?"  Annabelle nodded.  Matt put on his too big smile – the one that meant, We're going to fail miserably, but at least we'll have fun doing it.  "I think that's a brilliant plan.  Let's do it."  He offered Annabelle his arm, and together they crept forward.