Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sicky Saturday

So I woke up today looking forward to a much-much needed Saturday in.
Icky weather, 38 degrees and sleet-rain-mix falling makes for a cozy, cookie-makin', doggie-napping-by-the-fire day.

And then.

Liv woke up with a 102-degree fever. Poor baby; she's spent most of the day in bed, watching movies and reading in between downing Tylenol and apple juice. Nate and I soldiered on with the cookie decorating but I promised to save Liv some dough so she can cut and make her own when she's feeling better.

Right now she's fast asleep and the boys are out getting haircuts. The weather improved after lunch and the youngest Pellin was getting a little stir-crazy.

Here's hoping for a healthier holiday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Random Updates and Stuff I Miss

Thanksgiving 2010: Gorgeous, delicious turkey roasted to perfection by my awesome Bro In Law, Dan. As usual he and Beth were the perfect hosts and we brought along some sides. The highlight this year for my contribution was the cauliflower gratin but I'm sure the kids would say the Chex mix. Pam and Ro were also here and made it that much more special and fun. Poor Ro had emergency oral surgery the day before the biggest eating holiday of the year, but soldiered through and was as sweet as ever.

Blacktop Friday: This is what I call the Friday after Thanksgiving when you hit the road to visit family instead of hitting the stores. We travelled to Beaufort County and saw nearly all my extended fam and it was great. That, combined with an indoor pool at the hotel, well, for the kids it was some kind of nervana. We got to see their newest three-month-old cousin Josiah, at his smiley, bouncy best.

Monday after Thanksgiving: (I haven't thought of a catchy name for that one yet) We sort of came crashing down to reality. Everyone was kind of keyed up and couldn't get to sleep that night, especially Nate. He kept getting up and informing us of every bathroom trip, and every random little noise and finally he burst into sobs saying that he missed Grandpa, Uncle Dewey and Granny. He might've been just overtired but Good Lord my heart broke into a million pieces. Mark held him for a little while and told him we all missed them, and it was fine to cry about it sometimes. I rubbed his back and told him I knew how hard it was, but I promised things would look better in the morning. And, mercifully, they did.

What I miss: My dad carrying raw pecans this time of year in his pocket. I never really liked the taste of them raw myself, but I would still pick out a few when he cracked them for me. That was the most fascinating part, really. He would take two or three and crack them against eachother in his fist. I would try and try to crack them like that, but even into adulthood, I failed miserably. So, I would just hand them back to him and he would gladly oblige me.

Today I saw a fellow church member who lost her dad in early fall. I gave her a hug, and we commiserated on how kid-like, unprepared and orphaned losing a parent can make you feel, no matter how old you are. She was telling me about her little, unexpected "waves" of grief, how they always come without warning, just when things are going OK. She told me, "Yesterday I was out for a run in our neighborhood and passed some pecan trees--my dad used to carry pecans in his pocket. . ."
See, she's from the New Bern area so maybe it's a Down East Dad thing.

Those pecan-crackin' daddies were the best.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ms. Tracy's Wild Ride

My friend Dawn recently told me that for her 50th birthday her husband took her for a helicopter ride. Apparently in an effort to trump her gift I managed to get myself a ride in the ambulance in the wee hours of Thursday morning. I think she wins.

Around 4:30 or 5 Thursday morning I woke up with a stabbing pain in my lower abdomen. I hopped up out of bed to check things out in the bathroom because I guess that's where one checks such things and the room started to go black. I remember calling out for Mark. The next thing I knew I was flat on my back and Mark was kneeling over me telling me the paramedics were on their way.


I'd have given anything not to have the ambulance come to our house and haul me out in front of the kids, but given the pain and the sudden loss of consciousness, well, it was the right thing to do. I'm so glad he was there. I remember thinking how comfy I was on my pillow and thinking, "Wow, how did Mark get me back on the bed? He's so strong," and then I got a look at the blue plaid fabric and realized I was on Wally the Wonderdog's bed. At least I picked a soft place to land, huh?

Mark told the kids what was happening and assured them that I was awake and OK and I yelled out something to them so they knew it. The medics arrived and whisked me off to the ER as my blood pressure was pretty low and continued to drop a few points on the way. After all that drama and a lot of tests and an ultrasound, it turned out to be a ruptured ovarian cyst---nothing serious.

My mother-in-law had come to the house and treated the kids to breakfast before school. Mark called the school as soon as I was released to let the kids know I was on my way home and that I was fine. When they got home they threw down their bookbags, piled on the sofa next to me and told me how much they loved me for the next hour. It was weird, and wonderful. Then Anna Marie came by to play and they immediately forgot I existed and ran outside. Ah, back to normal.

So now we're back to discussing the important things in life: Halloween costumes and who has the best candy on our street. As for me, I'm done with the scary stuff for awhile!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Last weekend recap

Friday marked Olivia's first venture into wearing "real" earrings. She opted for these cool, colorful danglies.

A very poor photo of two very excited campers. This was the morning of drop-off at Chameleon's Journey, an overnight adventure camp sponsored by Hospice for kids who've suffered a loss.

Olivia hula-hooping at the drop-off/meet & greet. Homegirl can keep this up for about seven minutes straight. Amazing.

The view about 10 steps from the boys' cabin.

Olivia caught writing in her journal.

Nate chatting with a BFF he met within five minutes of arriving.

Thank you, Hospice. For everything.

Speaking of thanks. . .

We had to drop off the kids at an ungodly hour that morning, but I got up before anyone else and this lovely stuff was my breakfast, spread on top of an English muffin. It's my Aunt Sybil's pear preserves, and I was lucky enough to score a jar on my birthday the last time I visited. My Aunt Sybil is about 50 times more awesome than most people. She and my Uncle Bobby welcomed countless visitors into their home when my dad passed away back in August. She fed them, listened to their stories, entertained my children and smiled, all while quietly mourning her big brother.
Sometimes thank-you just isn't enough. But I plan to keep saying it, all the time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This week. . .

1. The kids go to Chameleon's Journey camp, sponsored by Hospice. It's a one-night camp and we drop them off on Saturday. They're just a tad excited and have already packed everything on the packing list. It is now Wednesday.

2. Olivia gets to change earrings. She got her ears pierced on Labor Day and Friday marks the last day she has to wear her starter studs. Pics will follow.

3. Someone swiped my pudding cup out of the work fridge. Today, actually. I'm still a little bummed about it. I can't believe I supposedly work with grown-ups and yet someone around here couldn't see fit to buy their own dadgum pudding cup. Sheesh. I'm telling myself that someone else brought one today and must've got it confused with their own. Which means perhaps someone stole THEIR pudding cup. Oh, my. Should I call 9-1-1?

4. Our first parent-teacher conference with Nate's teacher is Thursday. He has been scribbling stories like a little fiend in order to improve his creative writing, so we'll see how this goes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Scenes From a Sunday

Olivia sitting at my old childhood desk, which was fixed up by my Uncle Larry last Christmas. It's one of her favorite places to hang out.

Olivia's friend Mattie stayed over Saturday. They've been friends since Pre-K.

Nate tried to give the Panthers some extra mojo by wearing his Dad's old South Mecklenburg Sabers football helmet.

Reading my tea leaves at Zada Jane's. I see blueberry granola pancakes in my future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Snapping Out of It, Slowly

I dug out my camera and after silently scolding myself for the thousandth time for not taking photos more regularly, I decided to upload a few from the summer. Summer 2010 was pretty good up until the moment it wasn't, and now it's October already so I figured I'd better save some pics for prosperity to prove it even happened!

Kiddos and Grandma at Maggiano's

This was actually in the spring, when I got to meet my idol, author Elizabeth Berg, at a Catawba College book signing.

A lazy Saturday moment.

Playing nicely MUST be documented.

On a visit to Washington, NC to visit family. Luke and Nate enjoying themselves, just a little. These two knuckleheads sure do love eachother.

My dad's house is being renovated by the new owner, and he's been kind enough to let me tour the place. Wish I had some before shots, but trust me--HUGE differences, and all for the better. It's going to be a beautiful home for someone again.

A visit with sweet Cousin Corinna from Atlanta. Olivia's first night in America was spent at her house, after she picked us up from the airport. They share a special bond.

Happy cousins Luke, Nate and Olivia on the boardwalk in Washington.

Liv holding Uncle Larry's camera. Off camera, her mommy is holding her breath.

My little mermaid.

Pretty pink Washington sunset.

Back home in Charlotte, Ethan and Nate share an Ipod moment.

Nate's seventh birthday on July 1 started out with chocolate chip waffles presented by his sister. . .

and ended with chocolate cake at Counter Burger. Not bad.

Here's Liv at tennis class last week, working on her serve.

That's it for now! Onward with 2010. It's getting better.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Random Notes

1. Feeling a little out of it today. As was the case with my mom, the intense part of my grief process was delayed. It's been about a little over a month and now the wave has really hit me. Crying into my pillow at night, the whole bit. I know I need to pick up the phone and call Hospice grief support but at the same time I know I need to just let myself feel it. I think the last five years are finally catching up with me. It seems that once I caught my breath over what happened to my mom, my dad's downward spiral started before I had a chance to look up. The unfairness of it all---the unfairness to my dad, my mom, my kids and myself makes me feel so unbelievably furious. And just sad. And utterly helpless.

2. Work is a killer right now; my boss is in the middle of a much-needed vacation and as usual, I have even more respect for what she does everyday now that she's gone.

3. Hopefully this weekend I'll get over myself and enjoy our neighborhood yard sale. The kids are jacked up about selling off some of their stuff to make some cash. I told them not to get too excited about the amount, because this is stuff that we were going to donate so anything we make will be a bonus. Olivia was rambling about buying a Barbie Dream House with her proceeds so I had to give her a little dose of reality. Sheesh.

4. We just had the floors in our downstairs den/play area redone and whoo boy, what a difference. We bit the bullet and went with hardwoods and I'm so glad we did. It warms the room and brightens it at the same time; makes coming home that much nicer.

5. Last night I made my Aunt Sybil's chicken casserole and we had my mother-in-law over. She loved it and of course I ate until I was miserable. That casserole just tastes like home to me---it made me miss my sweet aunts, uncles and cousins even more.

6. I'm torn between enjoying this "Indian Summer" and being so ready for fall I can't stand it.

7. More updates, long overdue photos from the summer and hopefully MUCH less whining will be coming soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letting Go, and Goodwill

Two weeks ago today I was blissfully savoring the last precious hours of our family beach vacation. My dad had finally been stable for several weeks, eating well (all puree, but still) and taking in adequate fluids.
Then, the next day, we got a nervous call from Jimmy, and then the Hospice nurse, who told us that she felt my dad was "transitioning."

We came home, and he was gone within two days.

I'm thankful to Hospice, who ensured his passing was peaceful, and of course to Jimmy and Jonas, who ensured his last months were lived with dignity.

We headed home to Beaufort County and a lovely service performed by my cousin. I got to meet so many of Daddy's high school classmates, co-workers and friends who came to pay their respects. The kids held up pretty well, but breaking the news to them that first morning was beyond difficult.
Silly me, I thought we had somewhat prepared them, considering how sick Dad was, but kids don't really know to brace themselves for something like this. So they sobbed, and we held them and told them how much he loved them, and that now he could be with Granny and not be sick anymore.

That night when they were saying their prayers, Nate said he hoped Grandpa could find a friend in Heaven who would show him around, since he was new there. Olivia said, "Grandpa, I hope you and Granny can continue your romance in Heaven."
I couldn't help myself.
"Uh, romance?" I asked her. "What made you say that, Honey?"
"Well, they're MARRIED, Mama!" she said.
Oh. Ok.
I didn't tell her how funny that was, because to most people the word "romance" is not what they think of when they think of my sometimes-stern, dry-witted Dad.

I returned to work last Tuesday but the past several days have still felt kind of surreal. Our neighbors and friends have been so good to us, bringing dinners and other treats. My sainted mother-in-law not only drove to Beaufort County with us but she and Beth pitched in Friday and took the kids off our hands--Nate and Ethan with Grandma and Olivia at Emma's. Mark and I seized the opportunity to go catch a movie (Winter's Bone) and have a cocktail or two.

Meanwhile, I've also been hopelessly indulging the kids, along with everyone else. I guess I'm just so glad they're here.
Anyway, they were along for the ride this morning when I dropped some things of Dad's at Goodwill, and they begged to go inside the store. Usually I say no, but that word seems to be escaping me these days so in we went. Fifteen minutes later we were the proud owners of a $1.00 plastic animal hospital toy, which they scurried upstairs to play with as soon as we got home.

I checked with Jimmy a moment ago to see how he was doing; he said he was OK, helping his aunt fix some things around the house today. It feels weird not to text him umpteen times a day to check my dad's status. At least we know he's agreed to be part of our lives, whether he likes it or not. :)

Tomorrow's Monday. Sigh. Baby steps.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Embarrassment of Olivia, Part One of Many

Today marked the second time this summer I've practically burst into tears at a kid's movie.
Toy Story 3? The little montage that shows Andy growing up dragging his beloved Cowboy Woody everywhere through the years? Couldn't handle it. I sobbed so loudly at one point that when the kids looked at me I tried to act like a piece of popcorn went the wrong way and started coughing and sputtering.

It didn't end there, folks. Today I took Olivia and her friend Elizabeth to see Beezus and Ramona.
A little background: Like most kids of the '70's and '80's, I grew up with Beverly Clearly (and also a little Judy Blume, but THOSE were hidden under the bed).
The Ramona series was laugh-at-loud funny but also interwoven with some hard life lessons that were written earnestly but magically just short of totally bumming out the kid reader.

One of my favorites was "Ramona and Her Father" in which Ramona's dad is forced to spend more time at home after losing his job. Ramona and her sister Beezus forge a deeper bond with their dad, but they're also keenly aware that he'd rather be working. They also try to get him to stop smoking by hanging "No Smoking" signs all over the house, which is something I tried with my own dad. It worked in the book. At my house, not so much.

The movie threw in a few scenes from nearly all the books, and I absolutely adored it. The film opened with showing the school bus letting off Ramona and Howie, at their stop on Klickitat Street, and I nearly lost it. I couldn't help welling up. For me, Ramona came at a time when I was coming into my own as a reader, finding a character I could identify with, laugh at and love. It was also a time when my mother's arms were tanned, smooth and capable, my dad was the strongest guy in the world and nothing could ever, ever happen to them.

This time when I choked out a little sob, I heard this very subtle, "Mom" emitting from my daughter. I looked over and her eyes were wide with horror. "Sorry, Honey," I muttered, and sucked it up. Because, experiencing Beverly Cleary's written words as a kid and then getting to watch it unfold in film with your OWN little girl- --well, that's a very, very good thing indeed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Seven Things for Nate

1. On July 1,2010 you turned seven!

2. And have I mentioned. . .on July 1, 2003 you finally emerged after being taken by force. You were eight days late. I forgive you.

3. Your party is this weekend, nine days after your actual birthday, because no one is ever in town the weekend of your actual birthday. You just HAD to be born the week of the fourth, huh?

4. Breakfast is your favorite, so your sister came up with the idea of surprising you with chocolate chip waffles and fruit kabobs on July 1. The same chick who calls you annoying 99 times a day also planned that dadgum breakfast for DAYS. Go figure.

5. You enjoy your corn cut off the cob these days, as you're a little front-tooth challenged.

6. You love Pinetown every bit as much as Charlotte.

7. We love you all the way to Pinetown a bazillion times and back.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

So, a great morning that started with M opening gifts from us and having a big waffle breakfast. Church was pretty wonderful too; Olivia got to show off her mad acolyte skillz last week and this week she gave Emma a little tutorial and she had her turn. Very sweet.
The afternoon, however, was a little. . .mixed. The kids and I went over to see my dad to give him a card and some homemade cupcakes. I also have a photo collage in the works to put by his bed but it wasn't ready yet. So we went over and he was dressed nicely as usual, thanks to Danny, the newest of our three caregivers.

But, here's the thing. Due to the Parkinson's, or the Alzheimer's, or whatever evil I can blame this thing on, my dad is losing his ability to speak. He can gurgle the occasional word or two, but mostly he just stares. He tries to smile when he sees the kids, and he reaches out for them---they still snuggle up to him, God bless their hearts. I love them so much it hurts sometimes, I swear.
I often think how this must be so scary for them, seeing someone they remember as being so strong and capable turn into someone they barely recognize.

Or maybe, it's just scary for me.

Because these two children that I live with, the same ones who can drive me straight up a wall, the same ones who I nearly offered up for sale yesterday at the Farmer's Market when they whined for a drink two seconds after we were out of the car---they're not afraid. To them, he's just Grandpa, and he's sick but he's still kissable and huggable and worthy of all their Sunday School artwork.

The fact that I may never hear my dads voice again---and God, right now I'd even settle for him on his grumpiest days, days when he was telling us all to go to hell---this makes me want to scream. But seeing these two munchkins climb on their grandpa like the old days, makes me think I can hold it in another day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Leaving This Place

Last October I visited my dad's house, the house I grew up in, to say goodbye. I've come across these photos in my camera dozens of times since then, but I haven't really felt like sitting down to pore over them just yet. It's still a tender spot.

I could be all dramatic and say that our family farm was one more sacrifice to the gaping jaws of Alzheimer's, you know, if I was into that sort of thing. If I was into saying that sort of thing, it would be true.

I hated doing this. Selling the house and surrounding farmland was necessary in order to ensure my dad has quality care for the rest of his life. More specifically, to ensure that we have Jimmy, and at least two others like him, for the rest of Daddy's life.

I know, I know. At least we had something to sell. At least we had a family member, also a farmer, willing to make a fair offer right away. At least I'll still get to go back and visit family, and drive by and show the kids the woods that I played in, and the backyard that they themselves also ran wild in until dark, gathering fireflies in jars. I wonder if they'll remember.

Here's what I used to envision: The kids would one day learn to drive a tractor, tutored by my dad. They'd also learn how to steer a fishing boat, and set flounder nets in the Pamlico Sound. I never really learned how to do those things; doing stuff in the kitchen with my mom was more fun. But they would have loved it. I know it.

But here's the kicker: they'll still get a chance. Even though I was an only child, my parents, mercifully, were not. I'm the grateful kin of many aunts, uncles and cousins who would be happy to show Liv and Nate all the wonders of country and river life as they grow older. They have so much to look forward to, and I can't wait to witness it all.

Here's a few pictures I snapped during that weekend in October.

My dad's workshop, the site of many family gatherings and holiday oyster roasts

The view from behind the shop

I love being home at harvest time.

During the Alzheimer's charity walk with Uncle Bobby and Aunt Sybil

Pop-up Baby Rhynn.

Feasting on Parker's Barbecue on our way home to Charlotte.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Random updates. . .

Current state of Olivia: She's about to break her mother's heart by turning nine. Nine! How could she? She's about to pop a gasket with excitement. There's a sleepover party planned. (sigh--I finally caved). I've been avoiding the inevitable slumber party for a couple years now, but we figured we'd better go ahead and let this happen BEFORE having the carpet in the den replaced. Clever, huh?

Current state of Nate: Loving little league again this year. His team has green uniforms and they elected to call themselves the "Leprechauns"---heh. Not exactly a name that strikes fear in the hearts of their opponents, but eh, whatevs. They're adorable 6-year-olds, whether they like it or not. To his great relief, Nate's been invited to spend the night with his cousin Ethan during the Big Sleepover.

Current state of Casa Pellin: We're OK. As usual, we have grand plans for the yard that may or may not come to fruition depending on the bank account and whether or not we even remember what we'd planned. :)
Today we did some yard work, then we all showered and decided to go splurge on a nice lunch. We hit this new place called "The Counter" over at Southpark, where you can get burgers cooked to order, and awesome fries and onion rings. Deeelish. We sat on the patio and basked in the afternoon rays and soft breezes.

Tomorrow after church we'll swing by my dad's so he can see the kids decked out in their Easter duds. The kids have a little basket for him with various goodies that I know he'll enjoy. If nothing else, the chocolate will guarantee us a few peaceful moments with him. These days, a snacking Grandpa is a pleasant Grandpa.

Right now I'm trying to decide if we should have lettuce leaves for dinner since we had an unusually big lunch or if I should bother to put together an actual meal. Hmmmm. We went a little crazy with dyeing eggs---maybe egg salad? To be continued. . .at the moment the kiddos are furiously working on some artwork to leave the Easter Bunny, Hubs is banging out an article on his laptop and Jack Johnson is wafting from the stereo. Nice. Not a bad way to start the weekend before spring break.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter Dixieland

Ahhhh, is there anything more gratifying than a full, piping hot cup of coffee, a fully charged laptop and a blanket of snow outside the window? I think not, people.

So yesterday at about 4 p.m. we actually started to get some more of the white stuff---when there is frozen participation falling from the sky outside a southern office building, well it's a hilarious site. Well-educated business-types clammer over to the window in their high-heeled pumps just to get a glimpse. Add to that the excitement over the fact that it was Friday afternoon, and you've got yourself a totally giddy atmosphere.

Last night happened to be the night that Hubs was an overnight host for Room In The Inn at our church, a program that takes in overflow from the men's shelter uptown and puts them up in church basements and such. It's usually a good time, he enjoys listening to the men's stories and sharing some of his own, and the other church volunteers feed everyone well. But when the snow continued to pile up the kids and I were a little concerned about how Daddy would get home in the morning.

I tried to keep everyone distracted, making popcorn ordering up a rare pay-for-view movie (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and breaking out the Valentine's cookies a couple days early. After the movie, though, Nate was still fretfully looking out the window, asking if we could just go get Daddy. Poor kid. No matter how much he might be a total "mini-me" of his dad on the outside, on the inside he's a natural-born hand-wringer like his mom.

Eventually everyone settled down and we watched the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. The kids were pretty enthralled with the Parade of Nations, but then poor Liv, who has yet another cold, drifted off early. The power started flickering a little before the lighting of the torch and we ended up tromping upstairs to my room, huddling with flashlights and books. We had our own sleepover, with me sandwiched between Kicks-a-lot and Snory, respectively.

This morning I started making breakfast at around 7, and got to hear "Naaaate! Mom's making her famous doughnuts!!" Heh. Funny thing is, she KNOWS they're made with canned biscuit dough, but I still get all the credit. Eight-year-olds rock.

Hubs burst through the door just as we were shaking the cinnamon sugar onto the fried wads of dough. He was bearing some leftover breakfast casserole and snow-crusted boots. Our boy climbed him like a tree.

I checked on Jimmy and Dad last night and Jimmy assured me they were fine, albeit a little stir-crazy like the rest of us. Hopefully the roads'll improve later so I can run to the drug store for him and bring Dad our Valentine's gift of chocolate cherries (his fave) and some cards the kids made.

Oh, and those dang roads better also improve so I can get to Deejai Thai tonight. Mama needs some coconut curry shrimp!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow! And. . .snot.

Well, we finally got a snow day even though it came on an early Saturday morning. It's an icy, crusty snow- - -perfect for sliding down the hill in the backyard at top speed and making your mother nearly faint while she watches from the window. Visions of crashing into the back fence and a trip to the ER on icy roads flash before me---I can't help it. It's how I roll.

It's all lovely to look at, but I also woke up on Saturday with the worst head cold of my forties (okay I just turned forty in September but TRUST me, it's bad). Mark and the kids are hustling in and out, alternately piling on layers and peeling them off at the back door.

Lord, but I love watching the kids play in the snow. It's amazing to watch our Liv, with all her usual bossiness towards her little brother, turn into his faithful servant out there. She gleefully pulls him around on our little plastic sled while he beams and holds on with white knuckles.
We've also witnessed her tighten the velcro on his hat's chin strap so it fits more snugly, and help him up after he's sprawled like an overturned box turtle after snow angel making.

I'm getting a little stir crazy already but I have to admit since I'm sick it would be sooo nice if my office was closed tomorrow. The kids' school is almost guaranteed to close since there's no way the buses are gonna be able to get down some of our more rural roads in the morning. Gotta love a southern school district.

I've checked on my dad and Jimmy assured me they're fine. I brought over some groceries on Friday and Jimmy also made a last-minute run Friday night while Sherwin stayed with my dad. It's good to know that even though he might be confused and a little grumpy, at least he's safe and warm and has all the Fil-Am specialties he can eat. That's Jimmy's term for Filipino-American food---apparently my dad's new fave. :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

And so 2010 begins. . .

Today I found myself in a strange, yet wonderful place. My dad is now in a one-bedroom apartment close to my house, after finishing up his rehab at the skilled nursing center.
My family, Jimmy and I all decided this was the best solution for now since my dad becomes so agitated in facilities surrounded by other residents and often there just isn't enough staff to ensure that he won't fall nearly every dadgum day.

So, last week I took a couple days off and had his furniture moved from a storage room at his former assisted living center to the new digs. Jimmy and three to four other caregivers will be caring for my dad around the clock in shifts. Today, Jimmy was there with Sherwin, a young CNA graduate, also from the Phillipines, who is Jimmy's apprentice of sorts. Sherwin has also worked with my dad at the skilled nursing center as well as at Sunrise, but this will be his first time working with a patient in a private home.

Today the kids and I stopped by to drop off some prescriptions and groceries and check in with Dad. Nate was still in his Tae Kwon Do uniform after his Saturday morning class and he proudly showed Sherwin some of his "moves." Turns out Sherwin knows a little karate, and within minutes, the two of them were playfully wrestling around, with Nate laughing so hard his face turned bright red. Guys just don't need ice breakers, I guess.

Meanwhile Liv chatted with my dad a bit, who was looking rather spiffy in one of Mark's old Nautica sweaters. I peeled a tangerine for him and he nibbled it while he calmly watched the kids play. Jimmy had some soup cooking on the stove and it smelled delicious; he told me it was mostly cabbage, with some carrot, onion and a bit of pork for seasoning. Maybe it was the pork, but it smelled pretty much like anything else my grandmother would've boiled on the stove.
I made a sandwich for the kids and Dad and while they ate Jimmy served up a bowl of the soup and put it alongside Dad's sandwich. He then slowly and deliberately ate every bite.

I watched this scene with a mixture of awe and amusement. Here was my dad, who in years past would never even touch Chinese food, now eating a Filipino-inspired dish with his peanut-butter and jelly sandwich in a little kitchen in Charlotte. Meanwhile, my kids were sprawled on the floor watching "I Robot" with Will Smith, with their new long-lost friend Sherwin, 20 years their senior and from an island 2,000 miles away.

Sometimes it just blows me away, the places life takes us. I mean, it really blows my freakin' mind. I'm feeling hopeful about this change, but as always, I have my fingers crossed. Always.