Back At The Ranch

While Bill and I were soaking up all the awesomeness of Coronado Island, my brother, Danny, had everything under complete control and running as smooth as could be back at our ranch… To understand that, one needs to understand my brother Danny, and the workings of his sometimes devious mind. Let me take a moment here to give you a little background history on Danny…

Danny and I are only ten months apart in age, that’s right, ten months apart. When I was growing up, I thought Danny as the bravest person I ever met. If he would get into trouble and get grounded he would just laugh it off. When I asked him why he thought getting grounded was so funny, he said, “they don’t expect me to stay here when they leave and I won’t”. Sure enough, when mom and dad would leave for work, Danny would be out the door within five minutes after they left. I, on the other hand, was too scared to do anything that bold. If I got grounded, I stayed grounded until my parents told me otherwise.

Speaking of getting grounded, the one and only time I ever got grounded, it was my brother, Danny, who I love and always “trusted ” (there’s that word again) who brought that punishment upon me in the first place. I ditched school ONE time in my life. My girlfriend and I sat in an alley, on an old hot water heater, and smoked cigarettes and talked all afternoon. When I got home…Danny was waiting at the gate. He told me mom and dad were out in the pool and said they are really angry because they know I ditched school. He said they saw me sitting in an alley smoking with my girlfriend. He said he heard them say if I went out there and confessed, they would let me off easy, but if I didn’t confess, I was going to get grounded for a month and they were going to tell my girlfriends parents as well. I was so scared, but I thought I better go confess since they already know all the details about what I did. So, off I went to the back yard and told the whole story about how my girlfriend and I ditched school….my parents looked at me and started laughing…I asked what was so funny?  They said they never saw me ditching school, but now, since I confessed it all, I would be grounded for a month and they were going to call my girlfriend’s parents. I said well Danny told me you saw me… then they really started laughing and said “think about that for a minute…how is it that he knew exactly what you did”? Then the light bulb went on!!!…Danny knew because HE was the one who saw me…AND, if he saw me,,,that meant HE had to be ditching school too!!! We both got grounded but of course I was the only one who actually stayed grounded. Now, that is but one example of things Danny would do to torment me, but somehow we always stayed very, very close even to this very day.

Danny was also the one in the family who could show up late for every family gathering, but when he finally did arrive, everyone would just act like that was normal and how it was supposed to be even if he was supposed to bring something to the event.  It didn’t matter if he was late and we had no buns for the hamburgers, or side dish to go with the main course…as long as Danny showed up at all it was all forgiven and all good. Danny just had/has a charm about him that almost justifies anything bad he would ever do…Let me try half the things he got away with and all hell would break loose!!

So, it was no surprise to hear that Danny worked his magic and all went according to his plans while we were in California. He planned to take mom and Shantel out to his house in Maricopa Az so mom could visit with her beloved dog, Beau. On the way he got pulled over for speeding. When the cop asked what was his hurry…Danny told him he was taking his 80 something year old mother and his niece out to his house to visit his mother’s dog because she missed him so much after his sister gave his mother’s dog away while his mother was in the hospital…so guess what??? The cop told him what a great son/uncle he was, asked him to slow down a bit,,, and LET HIM GO!!! If that had been me, I would still be sitting in jail!

Danny loves to cook, but he didn’t want to spend all the time it takes to make mom her “special” meals and Shantel is a very picky eater as well…so guess what??? He took them out to eat for every meal!! Well, how nice is that to be able to do??? Only problem is, I gave up my job/income to take care of mom so I can’t afford to go out to eat for every meal!  So, when Bill and I got home we got to hear all about how Danny was their HERO and how much fun he is to be with…Well, all I can say…is some things just never change. However, I wouldn’t change a thing if I could about Danny. He is a prankster, he can always one-up me, but he has a heart of GOLD, he’s my BRO, and I love him with all my heart. Only thing left to say is Thanks Danny!

Next: Little Katie Moves To Colorado!

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Bill And I Need A Break

As you can imagine, all the stress of dealing with Shantel’s school issues, coupled with trying to get mom settled ,really began to take a toll on both Bill and I. No big surprise, I developed high blood pressure that my doctor told me I needed to get under control immediately. I was put on three different blood pressure medications, which helped, but still didn’t bring it into the range my doctor wanted it to be. She asked if I had any idea what could cause my blood pressure to get so high since my last visit? I started telling her about the issues with Shantel’s school, and bringing my mother to live with us and trying to manage her medical issues etc. My doctor took out her prescription pad and wrote ‘TAKE A BREAK“. Then she suggested my husband and I go away for a few days. She said this wasn’t just for pleasure, but it would also give my medications a chance to work more effectively if I was able to get calmed down and relax . I told the doctor what she was suggesting is easier said than done when Shantel still had to get to school and mom needs 24 hour attention. She told me if I didn’t commit to getting away for a few days, she would have to admit me to the hospital to get my blood pressure under control because it was dangerously high. She said if I were in the hospital, everyone would have to figure out what to do for themselves, and she was right.

I came home and told Bill what the doctor said and he agreed completely. I called my brother, Danny and told him the situation. He told me not to worry, he would take vacation days and come to our house to stay with mom and Shantel. I have always been very close to Danny, and I always know I can count on him whenever I really need something. With that settled, Bill and I decided we would take a trip to one of our favorite destinations, Coronado Island, and stayed at the Hotel Del Coronado in beautiful California. It just so happened there was a cancellation at the hotel, and we were able to book a room for the very next week for two days. With the hotel reservations made, we booked flights that allowed us to fly in early in the morning and leave late in the afternoon on our return trip. Once all the arrangements were made, I felt like I couldn’t get there fast enough!

On the morning we were to leave, Danny arrived right on time to take over my “duties” at home with mom and Shantel. Bill and I were all packed up and ready to leave, so we said our good-byes, and off we went. I could feel the tension of the past few months begin melting away and we weren’t even at the airport yet.

We arrived in beautiful San Diego, and upon landing, we took the Hotel Del Coronado transportation directly to the hotel. We unpacked and headed straight for the beach! We rented chairs with little shade umbrella’s and planted them in the sand. We took a long walk up and down the beach in our bare feet, then planted ourselves in our shaded chairs and did absolutely nothing but watch the beautiful waves, the people, and laughed and talked the day away, until we decided we were hungry and we went to get some lunch. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful it felt to just do nothing…have no agenda, no appointments, no phone calls, no meetings, and no one needed anything…it was just all about me and my Bill, the REAL HERO in my life!

Next: Back At The Ranch!

Buying A Baby Monitor

We got two new twin beds complete with new bedding all set up in the room for mom and I to share. Everything looked nice, and mom said she thought this arrangement would work out better. I knew it would be “better” for her, but I wasn’t so sure how great it was going to be for me. However, I believe you just do what you have to do for the greater good. So, that night, after I helped mom get ready and settled into her new bed, I got ready for bed myself, kissed Bill (the man is a SAINT) and Shantel good night, and settled into my new bed in mom’s room. All was well for about the first 45 minutes…Then, I found out for the first time that mom not only SNORES, very loudly, but she also carries on entire conversations in her sleep! Now, I am a very light sleeper, and there is no way, even after I tried using ear plugs that are supposed to drown out even jet engine noise… that I could sleep in that room with mom. I’m laying there, wide awake, thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO DO NOW???

The next morning, I told mom about the snoring and talking in her sleep. She didn’t believe me and said dad never said she did any of that. I reminded her that when dad went to bed he took out his hearing aids and he was almost deaf without them so he wouldn’t have know what she did at night in her sleep. That said, I told her I was gong to buy a baby monitor to put one part in her room, and I was going to sleep on the couch in the living room with the other part of it in there with me, so if she needed something she could simply speak into the monitor, and only I would hear her as opposed to walking up the whole house. Mom didn’t really like that idea very well but she said she would agree to it if I would put the queen size bed back in her room because she didn’t really like sleeping on that little twin bed. At this point, I am just looking at Bill thinking this has got to be the breaking point for him because it’s getting very close to being it for me…but Bill just smiled, and said he would start taking down the twin beds and put the queen bed back in the room. While he did that, I called my brother, Stephen, and asked him if he wanted two new twin beds, complete with all new bedding for free if he would come with his truck to take them away. Stephen said he would be right over. Then, I went to the store to get the baby monitor.

When I got home with the baby monitor, the twin beds were gone and the queen bed was all set up, AGAIN! Bill and I set up the monitoring system so I had one end of it where only I would hear mom if she needed me in the night. That night, I helped mom get ready and settled into her queen size bed, then I went to my new sleeping arrangement on the couch in the living room complete with my baby monitor. At least with the monitor, I could adjust the sound level with the volume knob. However, it is amazing the sounds you become use to in your home. We have a grandfather clock that Bill, mom and I bought for dad’s 70th birthday, and it sits in the corner of our living room. During the day I think it is lovely to listen too…not so much at night when it produces a short chime every 15 minutes, and full-out loud chimes every hour on the hour. Well, now, picture me trying to figure out how to silence that clock in the middle of the night, without waking Bill up because he has to get up for work early. But, he was the one who know where the switch was that allows you to set it so it won’t chime. I finally found it, made a mental note to myself to remember to turn it on again in the morning, because Shantel loves to hear it chime, but I also made a mental note to find a way to remember to silence it again every night…then, I got settled back on the couch, and guess what???  I hear mom saying over the monitor “CINDY, CINDY, CINDY…I need to go to the bathroom!

Next: Bill And I Need A Break!

Musical Beds

When I brought mom back to live at our house after she said she couldn’t live at the group home, I had to let her know I had already moved Bill and I back into our master bedroom, and now she would have to take the much smaller, guest room. At this point she seemed to want to be agreeable, at least about this, so I set up that room for her. I already had a queen size bed in there and a small dresser. I hung all her pictures, put all her outfits in her closet, and within a few days mom was settled in again and seemed happy to be back into our home. But, it didn’t take long for the happiness to fade.

The last stroke mom had left her a lot weaker than the previous one and even after having physical therapy at the Care Center, she still required a lot of help getting a shower, dressing, doing her hair etc. I did all these things for mom as well as administer her medications, take her to her doctor appointments and fill her prescriptions. One day, as I was helping mom get ready for one of her many appointments, she told me that now she understood why I had to have her dog, Beau, go live with my brother, Danny. She said she still missed him, and wanted to see him, but she understood it was just too much to ask to have me take care of Beau and her both. She said she just always expected me to do whatever needed to be done because “I’m her daughter and it’s my duty”. I don’t know if mom was trying to get me to say we could bring Beau back to my house, or exactly what point she was trying to make, but I hugged her and said “mom, I don’t do things out of a sense of duty for anyone, because I don’t feel a sense of duty to anyone”.  I told her I do things out of love, but sometimes I need to say when someone is asking more from me than I can give. This concept was difficult for mom to understand, and for many of my extended family members to understand as well.

Mom always told me you have to do things for your family and always stay on good terms with your family no matter what,  just because they are your family. I however, take a very different view to that. I told mom I want people in my life because they want to be there. I do not believe you have to be around anyone who doesn’t treat you with dignity and respect no matter who they are. I believe when any relationship becomes more painful to be in than to be out of, it’s perfectly OK to love that person from a distance no matter who they are, mother, father, brother, sister, daughter, or friend etc. I told mom I don’t want anyone in my life out of a sense of duty or obligation. I want them in my life because they love and respect me for who I am, period. I said I will give 100% of myself to anyone in my life as long as they don’t ask more than I can give, or expect me to change who I’ve become, because I like the woman I am. Mom said she didn’t know how I came so far away from how I was brought up. I told mom she shouldn’t ask me questions that I know she really doesn’t want to hear the answers to and perhaps we need to agree to disagree on this point and just move on. And, so we did.

The first night mom was home went well. But, on the second night, just after we all got settled into our beds for the night, I heard mom screaming for me from her room. I jumped up, ran down the hall and into her room. I turned on the light and asked mom what is the matter?  She looked at me and said “I’m hot, please turn the fan on”. I turned the fan on and went back to bed. Within thirty minutes, mom screams for me again. Again, I ran into her room to find out what she needed. She said she had to go to the restroom. I helped her out of bed and into the restroom and waited outside the hall for her. When she finished, I helped her back to bed, again. This routine went on for the next two nights. Now, Bill gets up at 3:30 a.m. to go to work and he wasn’t getting ANY sleep…and he was running low on patience as anyone would expect. So, the first weekend mom was back home with us, I went out and bought twin beds to put in her room so I could “sleep” in there with mom and be close so she didn’t have to screen and wake the whole house up every time she needed something…By now, I am beginning to wonder how much more of this I can take myself.

Next: Buying A Baby Monitor!

Finding Mom A New Home

After mom proclaimed she would never live with me again because I sent her beloved dog, Beau, to live with my brother, Danny and his lovely wife, Bea…we began the search for her new home. Mom was still VERY angry with me, but not so angry that she didn’t want me to help her get moved out. She decided she couldn’t live with Danny and Bea because they both work full-time and there would be no one home all day to take care of her like I did. My now late brother, Stephen, had offered to have mom come live with him and his family, but mom didn’t want to go there for many different reasons. So, I spoke to the Social Director of the Care Center where mom was receiving her physical therapy, and was put in touch with a person who would take mom and I around to look at various Group Homes.

As we drove all over the valley looking at group homes for mom, she became more and more agitated with me and would tell the owners of the group homes that I was putting her out of our home. I just smiled and kept trying to refocus her on looking at each of the homes and make a decision as to which one she thought she would be happy living in. We spent an entire week looking at group homes but mom just couldn’t make up her mind. Finally, I asked my brother, Danny and his wife Bea, if they would go with us and help mom make a decision.  The last group home on our list was the one mom finally said she thought she would like. However, since it was now late afternoon on a Friday, and there was only one room available in the home,  we were told if we wanted to hold the room over the weekend, we needed to put up $1,000.00 to take it off the “market”.  We put up the money and filled out all the paper work and told the owners mom would move in on Monday. That way she could go directly from the Care Center to her new group home.

Over the weekend, I packed all mom’s things she had at my house. I cleared out the master bedroom we had given her and move Bill and I back into that room. I completely rearranged our home back to “normal” now that mom would no longer be living with us. On Monday morning, I delivered all of mom’s things to the group home and fixed up her room for her. I hung all her cloths in the closet, hung her pictures on the walls, and made her space look as nice as I could. The only thing I needed to bring was mom and her TV.

I went to the Care Center and signed all the paperwork for mom’s discharge and took mom directly to her new group home. I helped her get settled in and stayed with her until she dismissed me by saying “you can go now”.  I kissed her good-bye and told her I would bring her TV by in the morning and I left. All the way home I worried about her as I know mom doesn’t make friends easily and I knew she would have problems with the menu’s. Mom is a VERY picky eater. When dad was alive, he did all the cooking and when he died, I took over making mom her “special” meals. But, I just had to put all that out of my mind because this was mom’s decision to move. I knew I had done nothing wrong, and I just wasn’t going to play into her trying to quilt me into doing things her way in my own home. I felt I had already gone above and beyond the call of duty, and if that wasn’t good enough she was free to live where ever she wanted. I went to bed…but I didn’t sleep well at all.

The next morning I packed up mom’s TV and drove over to her new group home. I was anxious to see how her first night out on her own went. I was hoping she had a good night and was making friends. However, when I got there I found mom sitting out on the back porch crying. When she saw me she really started sobbing and begged me to take her back home with me. She said she hated it there and she just wanted to come back home. I reminded her that she was the one who wanted to move out and that she said she never wanted to live with me again, ever! She cried and cried and my heart broke for her and I went in and told the owner’s I was taking my mother home. They were shocked and wanted to know why and if it was something they or one of the other residents had done. I assured them it wasn’t and told them mom was just homesick and I was taking her home with me. They said we would have to forfeit the $1,000.00  because the room had been off the “market” all weekend and Monday. I told them the money didn’t matter but I just needed to take mom home now. I called Bill to let him know mom was moving back in, packed up all her things, again, and brought her back home.

Next: Musical Beds!

Mom Won’t Come Home

When my brother, Danny, and his dear, sweet wife, Bea, (who is very reserved and wouldn’t say the word “s##t” if she had a mouth full of it) came to take Beau to live with them while mom was recovering in the Care Center, I had all his ‘toys’ and things all packed up and ready for them. At that time, I REALLY needed someone to care for Beau since I wasn’t home much. Now remember, I promised my dad, as he was dying, that I would make sure mom and Beau would always have good care. I never said I had to be the one to provide the care, I just said they would always have good care. Now, sending a dog to live with my bother, Danny, is like sending a child to live with Santa Clause. I mean he cooks special food for his animals, takes them out for daily walks , provides special treats for them etc. So, knowing Beau was going to be in good hands, I didn’t feel the need to share his sexual preferences i.e. his stuffed frog friend, with Danny and Bea. I thought that might embarrass Beau, so I just told them he really likes his toys and said mom always wanted him to have access to “play” with them. You get the picture… Well, let’s just say keeping that little secret from my sweet, reserved, sister-in-law, Bea, whom I love with all my heart and I know loves me, probably was not the best idea I ever had. But, hey, I was under severe stress!

Danny and Bea have a cute little girl dog named Daisy. Daisy was their “only child” and is Bea’s pride and joy. Daisy was much like our cat Carmen, who had never been exposed to “bad boys” until she met up with Beau…. you’re getting the picture again right? Well, imagine my dear, sweet, sister-in-law’s horror, when Beau got stressed from the move to their house and Bea gave him his stuffed frog, not fully understanding how much Beau “LOVES” his frog friend.

It was about 8:30 p.m. and I was home getting ready for bed…our phone never rings after 8:00 unless it would be one of the nurses at the Care Center where my mom was. So, when I looked at the caller ID and saw it was my sweet, reserved, sister-in-law, Bea, I pretty much knew it had to be about Beau, and it was. I answered the phone, and as cheerful as I could, without laughing out loud, I said  HI, Bea, and just as I was about to ask how is everything going with Beau getting settled in…my sweet, sister-in-law screamed, CINDY!! (she always calls me cindy) DID YOU KNOW THIS DOG HAS A MENTAL PROBLEM???  I said, what are you talking about Bea? She started talking really fast trying to explain what Beau did to his frog and how her precious Daisy stood in shock watching. Well, by now, I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I was laughing so hard I could hardly speak myself, but I did say “well, mom told me that’s how Beau handles stress. Now, Bea started laughing and said “I don’t care what mom lets this crazy dog do, I’m not having him doing that in my house and especially not around my Daisy! I told Bea to just do what she thought was best, but whatever she did,  just don’t tell mom if she takes Beau’s frog away from him.

A couple day’s later while I was sitting with mom, she asked me how Beau was. I wasn’t going to lie to her so I told her I sent him to Danny’s house while I was spending so much time at the Care Center with her. She EXPLODED!! She said “how could you just throw my dog out of you house”? I tried to explain that it was just until she was well enough to come home and take care of him again, but she wouldn’t hear any of it. She told me “if Beau isn’t welcome in your house I’m not either and I will never live with you again”! I said “well, you can suit yourself, because you have two sons you can go live with, or I will help you find a group home if you like.

Next: Finding Mom A New Home!

Mom Has Another Stroke

My mom lived with Bill, Shantel and I for three years after my dad died. During that time she had several small strokes that landed her in the hospital for a few days then in a care center for a week or so for physical therapy. Each time I would bring her home from the care center I would be given very clear instructions that mom was to continue to do some sort of exercise like walking everyday. It was always hard for me to know when mom really felt bad or when she just wanted to give up because she missed dad so much. She would insist that she didn’t feel good and refused to go for her required walks. As a result, she got weaker and weaker and finally got to where she thought she couldn’t walk at all. She became very dependent on using a wheelchair when we went anywhere outside the home.

I would get frustrated with mom because I really believed she just gave up on life after dad died and one day I told her how I felt. I said I realized she missed dad and didn’t think she could go on without him. I also told her that she still had Danny, Stephen, Bill, Shantel and me who all loved her and wanted her to be active in our lives. I said she was making it feel like nothing mattered to her but dad and since he wasn’t here we didn’t matter to her anymore. She just cried and said “I hope you never have to know what it’s like to lose your spouse”. I finally gave up trying to get her to do anything and told her if she wasn’t going to at least try to help herself I wasn’t going to try to force her anymore.  So, mom was content sit in the rocking chair, with her dog Beau on her lap, and do nothing all day long.

Early one morning I thought I heard moaning coming from mom’s room so I looked in and could see something was wrong. She was looking at me but wasn’t able to speak. I called 911 and an ambulance came within five minutes. They checked mom and said it appeared she was having a stroke and took her to the hospital. Bill was already at work and Shantel was still sleeping. I called Bill to let him know mom was being taken to the hospital and that I needed to meet the ambulance at the hospital so he needed to come home and get Shantel to school.

When I arrived at the hospital I was told mom had suffered another, much stronger stroke. The doctors said they were sending her for further tests to determine the extend of her stroke. A few hours later the doctors told me that in addition to mom’s Parkinson’s, and strokes, she also had an aneurysm on the right side of her brain. They were giving her medication to help reduce the effect of the stroke and said now all they could do was watch and see how she responds. I stayed at mom’s bedside all night. She would wake up off and on but still was not able to speak clearly. When she would open her eyes, she would become very agitated, and would fling her arms all around.

As the night wore on, she began to speak, but it was clear she was having hallucinations. She thought the nurses station was an airplane and we were all waiting for dad to arrive so we could all go to Disneyland. She also thought people were skinning dogs and cats in the room across the hall and would insist I go make sure her dog, Beau was not in that room. She would say she could see Beau running up and down the hall and she didn’t want those people to catch him and skin him alive…it was horrible to listen to her say these things because she really believed it and would get upset if I tried to tell her that wasn’t happening. This went on for two days then I finally asked for a second opinion evaluation for her. Another doctor evaluated her and told me he really thought mom was having a severe reaction to a medication that apparently was not working well with her Parkinson’s medication. The medication was changed and within a couple of days mom’s condition started to improve. Within a week, she was able to leave the hospital but I was told she would need to go back into the care center where she could receive physical therapy again.

While all this was going on I stayed at the hospital all day with mom and now that she was being moved to the care center I would stay there with her during the day as well, at least until I knew she was really out of the woods. Bill would go to work and as soon as I got Shantel to school, I would go directly to the care center to see about mom.

Back at out house, mom’s dog, Beau and our cat, Carmen hated each other and couldn’t be left alone together so I would have to put Beau in mom’s room, where the doggie door was, so he would be able to get out to the yard when he needed to go out. Beau wouldn’t stay outside alone because he was scared of everything and I didn’t think this was fair to Beau to have to sit in mom’s room all day. So I asked my brother Danny if he would take Beau and keep him at his house so I didn’t have to worry about him while I was at the care center during the day with mom. Danny agreed but we decided not to tell mom about the arrangement until she was feeling much better. Bad Idea!!

Next: Mom Won’t Come Home!

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