God’s Gift

Early this past week my thoughts and emotions were morose. Peg moved to another low. She began sleeping twenty hours each day. She was not responsive, nor in a mood to eat or drink. Then, on Thursday morning she awoke before me and I received a good morning smile. She even spoke a few words. Her mood remained happy throughout the day. She even had a few moments of laughter. I was overjoyed. At three-thirty, her caretaker and I lifted her from bed and placed her into a wheelchair. As usual, I wheeled her around the house and showed her what a beautiful day it was. The sun shone brightly, it was warm, and there were billowy white clouds rising to heaven in an azure sky. The views of the 2016 Monet Vision-Patriots Dream held her attention as she gazed at the pond in what seemed like a stupor.

Finally, I parked her chair at the table and we had supper together. By seven-thirty she crashed while watching TV, and we promptly put her back to bed.

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Friday morning was the same and we enjoyed another glorious day. I played an Elvis album of gospel music while we held hands, and napped.

Today promises to be a similar day, however, her smile is missing and a frown on her face signals a bit of unhappiness, perhaps it is pain. I can’t tell for sure, and she can’t tell me, nor would she if she could. Before she began this journey, and I suspected she was in pain and commented she responded with “it is nothing I can’t take.”

I’ll take these good days and I thank God for them. I know there are dark days still ahead and there will be plenty of them to brood over, but now I bask in the sunshine of her smile.

 

Bear With Me

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Life is like a road trip. Often, we spend time on a super highway with a very definite destination. At other times we are on a side road through a very dark and dense forest with lots of curves, and the destination is unknown. My life is now on one of those twisty paths where the next mile is unknown, and the destination is unclear, yet the journey consumes life.

My writing has been sparse of late because of the twists and turns of daily living. Many unforeseen incidents have arisen which have taken precedence over the joy of transferring thoughts to paper. A friend with dementia, a child with cancer, a second house that needs preparation for sale, all of these twists have cut me off from the interstate headed for enjoyment.

Perhaps, when this curvy road straightens out, and I return to the super highway, then, Grumpa Joe’s Place will again become a priority. Until that happens, please bear with me.

A Dark Day Made Worse by Rain

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Dreary December days bring on depression. I am one who needs sunlight to survive, and today was one of those dark days made worse by rain. The only bright spot was watching my bride eat one of her classic breakfasts. Usually she has a pretend breakfast. She will set out a number of things like a banana, an egg, juice, rice crispy square, and anything else that might suit her fancy. I’ll chug down my bowl of cereal with milk and a side of coffee. We spend time together, then she will get up to get her bathrobe so she won’t spill on her good clothes. By the time she returns I have finished, and I am cleaning up. She does the same thing, and puts all her stuff away, without tasting a single thing. I know better than to comment, I just shrug and ignore her lack of interest in eating. This morning I had eggs, so she said she would have an egg too. That means hard boiling eggs to please her palette. In the meantime my stomach growls loudly while waiting for those eggs to harden. It takes seventeen minutes to boil an egg hard. Then, there is a cool down and finally removal from the shell. Meanwhile, my two fried eggs are still in the shell waiting to hit the fry pan..
This morning Peg waited for the hard-boiled eggs. I finally served her two hard-boiled eggs on a plate before I fried my eggs. When I finally sat down to eat she got up to get a cake from the fridge. She wanted a slice of strawberry chocolate cream cake with her egg. I had to slice her a piece before I could finally attack my cooled fried eggs. Who eats strawberry chocolate cream cake with hard-boiled eggs? Not me for sure. I could not resist photographing the event. Today was a day when she actually ate breakfast. Oh, by the way do you see the orange juice container on the table, but a glass of Pepsi next to her plate.?

Lord help me, please.

Murder, Kidnapping, Intrigue

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Finally, I finished another book that is not political. I found this book in the Frankfort library using the same system I used in Arizona this winter; walk in, scan the new releases, and take the first book that catches my eye. This time it was the cover art for a book titled The Yellow Packard. I immediately knew it involved old cars, and probably was about the period in history that matched the car.

The Packard car remains in my memory as one of the classier cars on the road. The styling characteristic that turned me on was the grill. Packard spewed elegance, opulence, speed and class.  One of the most popular customers for the Packard were funeral homes, they used them for hearses, flower cars, and limo’s.  I guess having your last ride in a Packard meant one had finally made it to the big time.

Once I began reading, the book held my interest until I completed it two days later.

The author, Ace Collins is someone I never heard of, but upon reading his bio it surprised me to learn he has sixty published novels. Collins is a master of character development, and his writing allows the reader to see what is happening throughout. He does an amazing job with details about the depression era.

I won’t get into details about the plot, because it is a mystery and talking about the plot may spoil the mystery. The plot has many sub-plots expertly woven into the main story. The central theme of the story details how people’s lives changed after the yellow Packard enters their lives. Some of the changes are very positive, and others not so.  Even though the Packard is an inanimate object, in this story the car has a life and becomes as central a character as the people who come to own it.

It was delightful not to read any foul language, nor be titillated by sexual content. Keeping true to form to the depression era the language and morals of the country were much different from what they are today. In fact, I enjoyed the story more because it was clean.

I thought Collins wrapped up the story in a comical way when he did a Perry Mason like ending with all the people who owned the Yellow Packard assembled in one place for a recap of the clues that allowed the FBI to solve the kidnapping, and to unveil of a surprise mystery.

This book is a must read for mystery fans, old car nuts like me, and those who want to learn what it was like during the First Great Depression, or for anyone who enjoys a genuine good story.

Obama Eve

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This morning I awoke late and feeling good. “Good morning birthday boy,” said Peg, “happy birthday.”

“It is not my birthday,” I replied.

“Well what is it then?”

“It is Obama Eve.”

“Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m just thinking that we call the day before Christ’s birthday Christmas Eve, shouldn’t the day before our first black president’s birthday be named the same? He is, after all, transforming the world as we know it.”

I went on to explain that we are all joyful to celebrate Christ’s birthday. So much so, that we can’t bear the anticipation and begin our celebration the day before. Isn’t it the same before the newly proclaimed messiah of the Western World’s birthday? Not really, but it is the opposite of Christ’s birthday. Christmas is a joyful time with an overwhejlming spirit of giving and good cheer. Regardless of how tough our lives are we forget our pain at Christmas and spread what little we have to our loved ones and forget any animosities between us in the spirit of peace and joy. On Obama Eve people who relish taking engulf us. They love taking, not giving. Instead of love and peace there is racial divide. Instead of being happy about the life we enjoy living with Christ, we see sadness everywhere. It is as if people are at a dead-end. There is no joy in losing liberty, a job, replacing the job with two or three part-time ones. There is sadness in seeing our government deny God, and then attack our right to worship. There is no happiness or joy watching Islam proclaim itself as a religion, yet profess to kill us in the name of God.

Yes, Obama Eve is the complete opposite of Christmas Eve, and the idea of turning seventy-five on Obama Eve does not make me happy.

However, I am thankful for all those years of great health, and the blessings of a wonderful family to cheer me. I am grateful for having the privilege of spending forty-two years with an amazing friend, lover, and wife. I am grateful for the gift of a second beautiful wife for seven plus years, and the family she gave me.

There are so many things I am happy about that even the dark cloud of Obama Eve can not depress me.

Happy Hour At the Nursing Home

As a young father I often lectured my kids on how we must always take care of old people. Most of the time it was during the drive to see grandparents or Aunts. “If we don’t do it, no one else will,”  I told them. They are the people who were young and alive once just like we are today. Just because they have become wrinkled, sick, and can’t get around as much anymore does not mean we give up on them. I tried my best to live by that example all my life. First it was my wife’s mother, then my own parents, then my wife, then her aunt, and now it is someone new. There is always an older person who needs love and attention. If we don’t give it to them, who will? Certainly not Uncle, yet there are laws on the books for taking care of people. One of them has established a department called Public Guardianship.

A Public Guardian is a person who works for the agency. He/she gets the job of taking care of a person’s life. First, the agency must convince the judge that this person can not take care of themselves. Once the judge rules on the matter the guardian takes over, and assesses the person’s estate. The court orders the guardian to  establish a trust for the person’s belongings.  The person must leave his home and live under the care of a new home. Usually, the new home is an assisted living facility or nursing center.  One of the first things a guardian does is to pre-arrange the person’s funeral. The cost of cremation, burial, etc. are pre-paid from the estate if there is one. The law defines what happens when there is no money in the person’s estate for funeral expenses.

It is sad to know someone who is under guardianship. Right now, I happen to know someone who is in pretty good physical condition but who has challenged cognitive ability. The person often forgets things, becomes easily confused, and therefore will not know where they are or how they got there. Yet, the person is totally capable of walking out of the place.

Yesterday, Peggy and I visited this person at the nursing home. I wondered how old I have to get before someone else has to take care of me. The person we visited is only seven years older than I am. Time has become my most precious commodity. Whatever time I have left is too short to carry out what I have in front of me. Time will ultimately lose to health. A loss of health cancels time and that which was once your most precious commodity takes a back seat to living with disease. Those things that drive me will become insignificant and meaningless.

We found our friend in a state of depression. The realization that a guardian has total control over life had set in. The realization that there are strict rules to follow have taken away human dignity. The idea of not being able to wander around at will is atrocious, kind of like being a young child again with a very strict parent controlling your every move.

We planned the visit as a pop-in pop-out, but turned into an afternoon. We even stayed for “happy hour.”

When I think of ‘happy hour” I envision a group of people in a strange place meeting new friends, drinking, and noshing to while away time from home. Happy hour at the nursing home begins with a rush of wheelchairs pushed  into the coffee shop. A staff member distributes plastic soup dishes filled with Cheetos or popcorn to the residents. A staffer wheels a portable bar into place. It has wine and spirits for a price. A juke box plays songs from fifty years ago. The room crowds with residents, family, and staffers chattering about the fun they have at happy hour.

Elaine, an eighty-eight year old joins us with her daughter Katie. Katie related that when she visits her mom, everything is fun and fine, life is good. When Katie leaves, her mom calls Katie’s sister to come and take her out of the “hell hole.”  We laugh. The truth is not funny though. It is evidence that the residents of this beautiful facility with friendly staff, and activities galore are not enough to make up for the loss of dignity felt by the residents who must live out their lives there.

Dear God, please take me suddenly while I am visiting an older person during happy hour at the nursing home.

A New Mind-movie Adventure.

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This is probably the longest spell I’ve had between posts since I began blogging. Something has happened to make my zeal for life, blogging, cartooning, and just plain living wane and fall into the universe. All I know is that it ain’t in my soul anymore. I even contemplated shutting down Grumpa Joe’s Place and disappearing into the sunset.

Winter blahs, maybe, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) perhaps, but most likely it is a severe case of LAD (Light Affective Disorder). I thrive on sunshine and there is none this month.

I keep seeing past events playing a loop over and over in my mind. There are never any new adventures, just some really good old mind-movies that can never be duplicated, relived, nor even remembered exactly the same. Even walking does not pump me with feel good seratonin, only aches and pains that spread throughout the joint network.

There is so much in my life to be thankful for, yet the mind-movies continue to play the scenes of Thanksgiving past with all the old relatives, friends, and close family. Perhaps that is it. This year, will be the first time in fifty that my closest family will not be with me at Thanksgiving. Just writing that last sentence has brought on the melancholy.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life! a new mind-movie adventure.

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