Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Fall, a work in progress

There are certain indignities that accompany getting older. Things that turn the whole damned process into an odd array of misery. You've been doing just fine, maybe a little drifty, or odd on occasion. But, you're entitled, you're an old lady! Extended naps come at the oddest times of day. Dreams kinda mingle with the good book you've been rereading for the umpteenth time.

Glad you've annotated them all. Volumes worth over the years! Kinda adds to the entertainment. Although, you've got to admit, you keep surprizing yourself. You no longer necessarily agree with some of your oldest views. Feels like they've changed over night. Wish now you'd been more objective. Who knows which kid will inherit this partiular tryst.
It's January in southern San Jaquin Califonia. Every year when the desert winds blow, it gets cold in this quaint 1930's bungalow. Particularly this winter. Just stays kind of chilly. You want to keep the heat turned down to an affordable level plus they say it might help to reduce green house emmisions. You haven't given up caring about everything. Maybe the new gas wall furnace isn't so great. It was the cheaper installation. But it's only had one, mild winter on it, in Kern county!
Oh, Hells Bells! You grew up in U.P. Michigan in the 20's and 30's for crying out loud! Pull on an extra layer! Including the red polar fleece hat you splurged on from Eddie Bauer last year. Hey, Whoopie wore one to bed. Besides, you never planned on a Carribean cruise. This is a tired woman's retirement. Pamper yourself and stay tucked in.

Mornings still start pretty early. Reveille sounds around 5:30 or 6:00. Of course, when it's time to move the bones these days, the motivational force is usually the damned bedding requirements. Either you can avoid having to change it all, so you get up quick, take care of business, and feel like you've been given the day off. Or, things are wet, so you strip it all, dump it into the rollator, roll it out to nuke a cup of Joe, read the morning paper and start the laundry.
Your little blue caddilac with the basket, hand brakes, and seat (for when you gotta sit), is most often your choice. You still use the pretty cane as well. The one your New York son in law got the last trip back to see the eastern portion of your tribe. Mic, Mark, Melody, Pete and their kids. When was that? Two, three years ago?

Oh. Mustn't forget to plug in the cell phone. Even just looking at the time throughout the night seems to wear down the batteries. Let's see. Where's the plug. Ok. What?! How'd it get to be 4:30 already? AM or PM ? This time of year it's rather hard to tell. PM. Handy little device. Not so many teeny, weenie buttons. And it plays a forty's bit when you turn it on to check the time. I've got good kids. It's still brand new. Not entirely sure how to scroll for the numbers that Matthew programmed in. Better read the manual again. A gift from Mickey. May be a replacement for the alarm system that I neglect to carry the device for. You'd think I'd know better. If I wear the button for that one around my neck though, it swings back and forth in front of me while I'm using the walker. It makes it terribly hard to focus. I still pay for the system monthly and it's been serviced recently. I've needed to use it only once, a few years ago, when I fell and couldn't get back up. At least I know it works! One just learns to go very, very carefully.

This evening I don't think I need the rollator. I feel pretty good; grab the cane. If I get moving there's still enough outside light to get a Healthy Choice into the microwave with out toddling about to turn on a bunch of lights. Phone's plugged in right?. Ok. Here we go.

Thank God for Healthy Choice. They're a well balanced meal, tasty, and just the right portion. And you don't have to cook! Or wash dishes! Standing at the counter, trying to cook is not only for the birds but hard to do. This way I can slide the finished meal right out of the microwave along the counter to my roost near the "Oh My God" stack: a few carefully selected, annual donation requests from various shameless beggars (tee hee, I'm bad!); lot's of New Yorkers; equally large stack of National Geo's; Time, and mail order catalogs (I've been known to indulge; Harry and David's is great for Christmas time, although I'm afraid people might have been offended; expecting more. This is the first year I didn't send Christmas cards. Feel bad about that. And I got so many nice ones).

Today, I got The Chilkat Valley News, my favorite, next to the New Yorker. Reminds me of the little newspaper we owned in Sandy, Oregon back in the fifties. Not bad writing; fairly innocuous reporting, which you have to have in a town of 1800 or so people. Covers every thing in town from the the police report and Duly Noted, to borough government and all of the community events especially the schools and library events. I get to read good things about my grandkids from Alaska. Not quite as much any more now that they're out of school. But it's still entertaining. Adrian says I know more about the people in her community than she does.

So what day is it? Sylvia from A Caring Touch comes on Thursdays for the grocery order. Is that tommorrow? Well, even if it isn't I'd better take inventory when I pull out tonight's menu selection. Try to stay a week ahead. That is a lot of Country Herb Chicken. Lean Cusine's Salmon w/ Basil is not too bad either. Nor the Turkey Tettrazini, though that's really more lunch sized. They're kinda spendy but this is what your savings are for. What the hell! You're done traveling to all parts of the continent to see the kids and grandkids who aren't here in Bakersfield. Got the house in pretty good repair. Gave up driving a couple of years ago; global warming and the damned SUV's.

Not a bad retirement from the Kern County Welfare Dept. Good health insurance that you haven't had to use much yet. It'll be there if you do. An adequate monthly income plus social security and you've nickled away enough that if you outlive your plan, god forbid, an assisted living facility won't strap the kids.
Twenty one years as a social worker. Thank God you loved people! It got rough towards the end with Ronnie Baby in the White House, the so and so. As governor he made our jobs nearly impossible. I get mad all over again just thinking about it. But hey, it allowed me to raise the five remaining kids and pay for this house, on my own. Their father said this would be an exercise in futility. Wrong thing to say!
We sure as hell weren't rich by any means. I remember the look on Adrian's face when I told her we'd probably be better off financially if I stayed home and collected welfare. I was angry. Quite frankly, I would have gone crazy! I had a college education and I loved my job and the people I was helping. Poor mothers with out educations or handicapped in other ways; unable to get their lives in order. I passed up supervisior positions several times so I could stay out in the field.
Later, it was helping to open the new Jamison Center for the kids who needed protective services. Of course my own children were latch key kids, risky business. But we were resourceful. We survived.

Ooh! It's kinda dark. I'll switch on the lamp when I get over there to zap dinner. You should of brought the rollator from the bedroom. The left leg just doesn't respond the way it used too after that TIA a couple of years ago. I was demonstrating at the Kern County museum how the Yokats wove their baskets when it happened. There were about eighty, fourth and fifth graders and I know I scarred them for life by becoming a puddle on the floor in front of them. Scared every body. Damnedest thing. I couldn't get up! By the afternoon it had worn off but that was kinda it for the top volunteer of the previous six years. Not only frightening but embarrassing! Oh Well.

Talk about scarry. Let's see now. If I hold on to the counter with one hand... and reach way up to the freezer... and tug really hard. Dammit! Ok. Pull Thursa! Humpff. Well... Ok then. Ooo... two hands, reach. Now: this- damn- - thing-- will-- not--- bu...


  1. Her youngest son shoulda... then things woulda.... and we coulda.... Second guessing is precipitous.

    Was it a disaster in the making? Or a blessing in disguise?

    I feel bad because I hesitated before busting in. I still don't know why. Maybe because I was scared at what I would find? Or maybe because I was scared of the way things would turn out? Maybe because I felt I hadn't been the best care giver.

    Aw crap! Maybe I was drawn into the same trap as her?

  2. Oh, so touching Ade!! Wow....beautiful and clear perspective. Ah, always do the right thing and I am so grateful you are there.
    ~Lil' sis


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