Totally True!

Years ago, when my children were considerably younger, we were invited to attend a friend’s wedding.

William was about 6 years old, Jess about 11.

It was a little bit higher church wedding than we were accustomed to, and accordingly my Mom and I whispered instructions to the kids in the pre-ceremony hush on how to behave.

For the most part, they were angelic.

Finally, the ceremony began.

The groom stepped to his place at the front of the sanctuary, the priest – in his robes and hat, as well. Then, the processional began, and the attendants made their way to the front of the sanctuary. Finally, the bride – who was lovely in her wedding finery – made her way to stand beside her much loved groom.

I glanced at William and thought I saw a glimmer of recognition in his eye.

I thought – “What’s that kid thinking?!”

And before anyone knew what was happening, in a booming voice, William pronounced, “Mwarrige… Mwarrige is what bwings us twogwever twoday…”

Yes.

I admit it.

I have warped my children!

The glimmer of recognition?

Here you go:

Bride, groom, priest, candles, flowers!

What should come next?

Only one thing in his then 6-year-old mind…

“…and wuv, twoo wuv…”

Totally true!

Menu Planning

Have I whined about menu planning here lately? It’s a challenge in our household.

The parents would love to eat some more adventurous, exotic type foods. Keeping in mind that I’m allergic to chicken, egg whites, soy, many milk products, strawberries, etc., etc., etc…

The daughter is the easiest to please, but she has strong feelings about tacos (hates them), and anything that resembles camp food.

The middle kid – our basketball player – who ought to be strategizing his nutrition, is perhaps one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. He would be happiest if we had pizza for every meal. He hates vegetables, too. And anything that requires effort prior to eating it.

And our youngest is happy as long as it’s meat accompanied by a potato – so long as it’s not pork, ’cause he’s allergic to that, along with peanuts, and milk products. Oh – and he hates tomato based stuff – i.e., spaghetti (the daughter’s favorite food), enchiladas, lasagna, etc. AND, he hates anything that resembles a vegetable. And rice. I’m sure there’s more. But you get the picture.

Nah – it’s not tricky at all!

Bah!

This morning as I was thinking through the options, and remembering that we at least have tonight and tomorrow nights planned, I couldn’t help but wonder what we’d be doing for dinner Friday night – when John and Jonathan will be gone to the church’s men’s retreat. Jess and I would be happy with salads. Ugh! Decisions…

This morning I stumbled upon a little blast from the past, that reminded me of when days were simpler and one day in particular when our daughter thought to make breakfast for the family. I get a gold star for getting this on film. She was 5 at the time, by the way.


Look! She set the table and everything! She served herself and her baby brother cereal.

She knew her Dad liked bananas, so she made him a banana sandwich – yep – cheese and banana on whole wheat. There’s a nagging thought that she also put mayo on there, but there’s no photographic evidence, so I won’t swear on it.

And she knew that I loved avocados, so she made me an avocado sandwich – she even somehow figured out how to put some mayo under that cheese. Impressive for a 5 year old! I thought it touching that she knew I’d need a knife to deal with that avocado!

Wasn’t that precious?! (She’s going to kill me if she finds out I posted this! LOL!)

And – just to prove a point – we were talking about this recently, actually. The picture below is of William – he was about a 14 months old, I’m thinking…

SEE!

Tomato based food! And he liked it enough to get it everywhere!

I told you so! You did, too, used to like tomato based stuff!

I think it was enchiladas, but I’m not 100% sure. We’ll just suffice it to say he enjoyed it!

Back to pondering Friday’s dinner plan…

Totally True!

I have a thing for doors.

Not just any door.

It’s gotta be cool.

Ask me to define that. Hmmm…. Um, well, you know! Cool!

Shall I show you?


That’s a cool door. The Cathedral in Old Altea, Spain. It’s kinda understated on the outside. I wish I had pictures to show you of the interior – they’re on my desktop at home, not the laptop, here at the hospital. But, suffice it to say, you walk in, you make it past the foyer – and then your breath just sucks in, tears fill your eyes, and you wonder, “Is this what heaven will look like?” Literally breathtaking. I love this door – what you see on the outside tells you nothing about the inside. The average visitor to Old Altea isn’t there during the hours when it’s possible to enter the Cathedral. They snap pictures of the exterior and quickly move on. The patient ones wait around a while, “donate” a couple of Euros to the little old lady in the foyer who blatantly promotes her son’s restaurant with fliers – J, and then – unsuspectingly, step around the divider wall and gasp. The beauty is nearly blinding.

I know people like that.

Average on the exterior, blindingly beautiful on the interior.

Here, I’ve got a few – let me show you.

I love this one.

My very good friend, Dr. Aniceto Baltasar, has given me this lecture more than once; I feel the need to share! J THIS is a castle. Castles are places of defense. Palaces are what Cinderella lived in. Got it? This is a castle that was just by chance glanced at the top of a hill, and so it was pursued, and I eventually got out of the car, hiked up a bit of a hill, and came face to face with three towers in a cluster – this one I actually went in. If this post weren’t all about doors, I’d show you the amazing pictures of the interior, etc. But it is all about doors – and I need to tell you – this doorway speaks to me. First – this tower dates back to the Crusades. Yes THE Crusades. This doorway (I’m sure the door was wooden back in the day and has long since rotted away.) was built to withstand attack – sheltering the innocents within. When alarms were sounded to villagers, farmers, and peasants – they would grab the babies, a few food stores, and then would literally run for their lives to the castle for protection. Some doors are gateways to protection and sustained life. I find great beauty here.

Can you see that door? It’s pretty much right in the center of the picture. This is in Salt, Spain – right outside of Alcoy. This is my house. The one I’ve adopted in my heart. I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be mine some day. I know the picture is a little bit obscure – I wish I had a better picture to show you – I’ve got lots, because I visit my house every time I’m in Alcoy. J But the stained glass around that door speaks joy to me. Someone took great delight in crafting a beautiful doorway for this home. Lovely.

I know – this is supposed to be door-oriented – but I just GOTTA show you the view from that door:


(Those are almond orchards there in the foreground. Olive orchards on the terraces behind.)

I think it’s really interesting how different areas have different door “attitudes.” And era of door origin plays a lot into overall feeling, too, of course. These doors are from Madrid. They’re a little bit high fallutin.

Pretty, right? But a little bit deceiving… Here’s what you find when you enter – this is a door that leads to a door! A BIG door.

What’s not to love about this door?

That’s a TALL door.

This is an IMPRESSIVE door.

This is a very OLD door.

It’s the entry way to what is still an active religious order. The building has been a palace, a convent, and a prison over the course of hundreds of years.

Do these doors keep in? Or keep out? And why?

A beautiful door:

Here’s a plaque that goes to a door you wouldn’t have wanted to go through way back when:


It says: “En este inmueble tuverion su sede el consejo supremo y tribunal de la inquisicion desde la decada de 1780 hasta su extincion en 1820.” (Please keep in mind that I don’t speak, read, or write Spanish!) Which our handy dandy iGoogle translator says means: “Tuverion That building houses the Supreme Court of the Inquisition and the decade from 1780 until its extinction in 1820.” Yeah, whatever, you get the idea – this is where the Inquisition guys got together and bad stuff went down!

And a door that needs guarded.


The Royal Palace, Madrid, Spain – we just happened upon the changing of the guard. Most days – you don’t see the fancy guards and the doors aren’t guarded quite this heavily. But on days when a member of the royal family is holding meetings or an event is being held at the Royal Palace, then all of the pomp and circumstance get unfurled and security gets tight.

I guess the reason I have such a thing for doors – regardless of where they’re found – is that you can go along for ages and see mundane door after mundane door – and then, all of a sudden, you run into something like this:


Sanitorio San Jorge, Alcoy, Spain

Doors are so about real life. Each one is a decision to make, a path to be chosen, an opportunity.

So you should know – if ever you and I are walking down the street somewhere and I should happen to spy a cool door – there’s a very real chance you’ll find I’ve stopped in my tracks, started digging in my purse for my camera, and have taken some time to just stare at beauty.

Totally True!

As I’ve mentioned previously, my Mom went through a season of dementia before she graduated Home to be with the Lord.

I think the thing that was hardest about it – well – like there could be ONE thing – was the fact that we really didn’t know what was going on at first.

For about four or five years before any of the dementia stuff happened we’d be walking from the house to the car – heading out on some errand or something, and she’d laughingly say, “I know – I can’t believe I did that! So – just so you know, some day when I have Alzheimer’s, remember that I want you to…” and she’d then rattle off the instructions I was to follow.

I’d always laugh, shrug it off, and then say, “Mother – hello! You’re doing 500 bazillion things a day – you’re the supervisor of a large PBX in a major hospital in a metropolitan city, you’re raising grandchildren, and living life – you’re not going to have Alzheimer’s. You’re just a normal person!”

We’d laugh, and then go on. But regularly – to the point that it was never a surprise when she gave me her “advance directives” on stuff – that I’d never be surprised she was given them. And I’d file those little tidbits away for the day I’d never need to use them.

There was a call one day that made me stop cold in my tracks and question what the heck was going on. My Mom was meticulous about details. I mean the woman kept a prayer journal – every single day – for 30 years – without fail. (I know – I’ve got them!) She did everything on time – if not early. She always had perfectly coifed hair and perfect make-up. She wouldn’t even go out to get the newspaper until her hair and make-up were done and she was appropriately attired. That call was a call when she said; “I can’t remember if I’ve done…” and then she started making a list. She’d written it down. It was basic stuff. Stuff she’d never not done before. Stuff she’d never NOT know if she’d done.

And that’s kind of when it began.

They say stress accelerates dementia.

Mom had more than her fair share of stress in her life. Let’s just leave it at that.

There were a couple of specific events that we saw marked declines in her “condition” – extraordinarily stressful events.

But here’s the thing – we didn’t know what the condition was – we just knew Mom was slipping away a little bit more each and every day – without fail.

I was angry, confused, afraid – no, really – terrified.

There was the day when she called me and she said she couldn’t remember how to take a bath.

There was the day when she called to tell me she couldn’t remember how to get dressed.

There was the day when she called and asked why there was fire coming out of her toaster oven.

I moved in that day.

Then came the days when she stopped being able to figure out how to call.

And the days when she stopped being able to articulate.

Things started going downhill in January. In October we had a diagnosis.

That’s a long time to go without knowing what is going on.

Scary.

In April I moved in to care for her (and Grammy).

In June, after Grammy went Home to be with the Lord, Mom moved in with us.

Dementia does crazy things to the thought processes. It can make a person think that they’re at the WRONG home. You can put them in the car, drive around the block, come back to the same home, and then they’ll settle down and be so relieved to be at the REAL home.

Dementia has moments when the person looks at you – knows you, loves you, is happy to be with you; and milliseconds later will look at you with a complete blank – ZERO recognition – and the flight reflex will kick in.

In September, shortly after the kids had returned to school, Mom and I were tooling around the house. I’d gotten her bathed, dressed, got her hair done. I’d gotten her fed. And she was having SUCH a great day. She smiled brightly at me and said, “Let’s go to the grocery store! That would be so much fun!” She seemed SO like her old self. How could I say no?!

So, I grabbed my shopping list – I really did need to go to the grocery store! We got our sweaters, and got in the car. We drove to WinCo – our local discount grocery store. We got a cart, Mom agreed that holding onto the cart with one hand, and my other hand with the other was the best thing to do.

It was going so well!

We went through the produce department. She saw a few things she thought she’d like to have. We put them in the cart – and she was delighted!

About half way through the store she started being a little bit fidgety.

I thought to myself, “We ought to wrap this up. I just need one more thing, and we’re out of here!” So I steered the cart toward the dairy department and Mom came along – a little less enthusiastically.

That’s when it happened.

A woman with – I kid you not – five – not crying – but SCREAMING – children in her cart came around the corner.

It was all kind of like it happened in slow motion.

Mom turned – scanning the scene around her – and a look of utter and complete BLANK hit her face. She didn’t know who she was. She didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know where she was. And she panicked.

And then she ran.

Right out of the store.

Fast.

Really, really fast.

I looked on in disbelief. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

I snatched my purse out of the cart and took off in hot pursuit.

When I hit the front of the store I grabbed the Customer Service Manager and gave her a quick rundown, a description of Mom, and asked her of she’d call 911 for me.

She said, “Let’s not panic. Let’s go see if she went to your car.”

It was too late for me to not panic, of course, but we did go to the car.

No Mom.

Nowhere in sight.

Nada.

CRAP.

I pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911. I was quickly connected to the 911 operator and gave them the rundown and her description. They said they’d have an officer there as soon as possible – and I should stay with my car.

WHAT?!

I needed to go look for her!

But they assured me that staying put was best – she might come back to the car looking for me.

The Customer Service Manager rounded up a couple of employees and they set out – combing the adjoining stores in the vicinity.

I was seriously having a heart attack here, people! My heart must have been beating 2000 beats a second. I had tears in my eyes. I was what if-ing every single possible scenario. I was thinking through the potential news headlines… “Daughter loses Mother in grocery store… Film at 11.”

OH MY!

It was probably 20 minutes before the Sheriff showed up. He asked me a lot of questions. I told him my concerns – and conviction that Mom wouldn’t know her own name – and she had no identification on her – she wouldn’t know my name on about a 50% basis, and she wouldn’t know her phone number, or my cell phone number, or the address where she lived.

“Alzheimer’s?” He asked.

“No – I don’t think so. We don’t know. But she’s – well, she’s not the same as she used to be.”

He assured me that we’d find her and he drove off – instructing me to stay put.

I hated staying put.

My kids call me “Paranoid Mom.”

I deserve it.

I have an uncanny ability to project the worst possible outcomes on any given scenario. And I then make my decision as to what they are or aren’t allowed to do – okay, some of the time – I am mellowing out some in my old age – based on those potential outcomes.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking it through – but I’m pretty sure I’ve never lost a kid anywhere. You know – the horror scenarios that every mother prays to God will never happen to her or her child. You’ve heard them – the overhead pages, “Will the parents of Billy Jones please come to the Customer Service Desk.” You know what’s happened. Billy Jones has wandered off, Mom and/or Dad didn’t see it happening, and now Billy has found the nearest store employee and asked for help.

I have a confession to make. We used to do that to our Mom when we were growing up just to bug her. She’d get so flustered! And then she’d come running to the Customer Service desk – totally upset – and we’d be cracking up. We were bad children. Bad, bad children.

I think it’s just by the grace of God that I’ve never misplaced a child. He knew what it would do to my blood pressure.

So imagine my HORROR at losing my MOTHER.

My MOTHER, people!

It took about 30 minutes more, but the Sheriff found her wandering – unsure of where she was or where she should go – about half a mile down the street. She was headed back in the right direction, at least.

The kind Sheriff gave me a firm handshake, a squeeze on the shoulder, and whispered under his breath, “I’ll keep you in my prayers.” And then with a smile, “I think this was your last outing with her.”

Yeah – no joke!

I went straight home.

Mom, exhausted went straight to her bed and took a nice long nap.

I got online and ordered her Medic Alert bracelet and had it expressed to me. You better believe it never got taken off!

I wish I could say it was the last time I lost her.

It wasn’t.

But I’ll save that story for another time!

Moral to the story? Yeah – if you come up with one, let me know, okay?