Monday, October 31, 2011

Old Geezers

So, last December my folks moved to within 10 minutes of us in Castle Rock, CO, hailing from Fountain Hills, AZ.

And with them came my 93 year old Grandpa at the time. 

Here we are last Spring...

Today, Gramps as I affectionately have always called him, is 94, pushing 95 in March, 2012.  Lou, as others know him, now lives a little over a mile from my house door to door.  He needed a little extra care that my mom currently fighting cancer, could not, he needed to have a bit more "social" interaction.

On my way home from running some errands yesterday, kid-free mind you, I decided to stop by and give my Gramps a kiss.

I also had a question to ask him, the answer to which "No" was not an option.  I'm just that stubborn...

Let me set the scene for you:  Three senior, and I mean senior, seniors, snuggled under warm blankets all in their individual reclining chairs watching football on a pretty sweet gigantic flat screen...each of them with a personal bowl of potato chips on their laps.  No, they didn't have white tank tops on and none of them have enough hair to grow mullets.  And to clarify, by watching I mean: in between naps, they catch the game.  Anyway, when the kids are with me I usually sit in the chair next to my grandpa but I wanted to be a little closer to him so I knelt down next to him instead.  He had been cat-napping but was happy to see me so we visited a while.

I told him I was sorry it had been so long since my last visit, that we had been out of town, Ryan has been sick off and on, etc.  Believe me, it's not cool to spread kid germs to already frail grandparents!  Especially whatever Ryan has had!

And then I dropped the question.  My mom already told me he told her, "Thank you, but no."  But, I'm like a preschooler...I'm persistent :)

"Gramps, I would like to invite you to our house for Thanksgiving."

You may think this is just your run of the mill question and it would be quite obvious for a grandparent to respond, "Well yes, of course, we'd be delighted!   Thank you, Dearie!  Is there anything we can bring?"

But my Gramps thinks at 94, he's a real bore.  He thinks since his teeth aren't as dapper or useful as they once were, he'd just be a hassle to have around because he can't eat most of the food and will just sit in a chair and take up space.  

He grabbed my hand and held it close to his chest.  He looked at me and thanked me for the invitation but assured me it would be better if he didn't come.

I didn't let go of my grandpa's hand for the next 45 minutes...even when I wiped a drip from his nose.  His hand was soft, no longer callused from 75+ years of hard work, and it was warm in mine.

I said, "Gramps, guess what?!  You aren't a burden, you are just old.  And, Thanksgiving is the perfect meal because you can eat pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, soft stuffing, and I'll even puree you some turkey, if that even sounds good to you?  It's all soft food so you'll be able to eat whatever you want!"

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and smiled a little.  He patted my hand with his other hand and said, "Sweetie, thanks, but really, it's too much work."

I knew I had to plead my case so I dropped a name.  You've done it.  When you need to make a connection work or want to get something done.

"Gramps, Jason's Grandpa is flying in from South Dakota.  He hasn't gotten on a plane in probably 5 years, so it's a really big step for him.  He wanted to see all of his grand kids and great-grand kids.  I know he'd love to see you!"

"How old is he?"


Here's Jason's Grandpa and Em and Ry last summer...

These men have seen a lot of life.  They have experienced great joys, losses, disappointments, celebrations, both widowers wishing they were anywhere else but living life on earth without their brides.  They love their kids and grand kids and are grateful for the visits, but each night when they are alone I am not there with their thoughts of longings and what if's. 

We talked about what my Gramps would have done if he hadn't been a trucker and school bus driver.  He asked me what kind of work Jason's grandpa had done.  We talked about a lot of things.

*Em was quiet in the car one day after we had visited Gramps.  I asked her what was up and she said she didn't really know him that well so didn't really know what to say to him.  I told her even though his outward appearance seems old and frail and can be a little intimidating to kids, my Gramps is a man with a story, just like anyone else.  I told her she could tell him all about school and her friends, and in turn, to feel free to ask him anything.

The older people in our lives have a lot of stories to tell...yet they are the ones without social media outlets, the know-how of texting or cell phone usage.  They are sitting quietly, often napping, in old folks' facilities, filled with 90 plus years of real-life lessons with so very much wisdom to offer.  To learn their stories all you need is a chair and listening ear.

Somehow, though, in this day and age, it's the 20, 30 and even 40-somethings doing all the chatting.

There's nothing wrong with us sharing our experiences, our stories, even things we have learned on our journeys.

However, if there is an older person in your life, stop and ask yourself if you've asked them a question lately like, "Gramps, what was such and such like when you were 13, 24, 36, 58, 79...?"  Sometimes a smile will grace their lips as they recall a memory, other times tears may well, or it's quite possible the memory just won't be there, trapped deep in their heart without a way to be shared.

My point is this, just taking the time to ask and to listen may add a bit more life to their already grown and tired souls.

Do you have an old geezer in your life?  

I have two, my Gramps and Jason's, and they'll be eating mashed potatoes at my dining room table together for Thanksgiving this year.  And for that, I am thankful...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Ry Guy

"Mom, another picture?  Seriously?  Can't a kid get a break from the paparazzi?!"

Priceless finger prints on my clean windows
Diving into play
Crawling in the grassy yard
Ry being silly with his hoodie

Proud parents on Ryan's 1st birthday!

It's been a busy Fall.  Em's enjoying school so much!  She went to camp with her class and loved it which is a huge milestone for her!  She literally loves getting up each morning and heading off to see what the day will hold.  If I hadn't mentioned it, we aren't homeschooling this year.  Jason and I prayed a lot about it and with no other explanation other than the Lord opening the doors wide, Em headed off to a very special local school this year and is loving the experience of learning once again!  Jason is a pretty wonderful guy as he attributed her return to a love of learning to our time together doing homeschool, spending quality time reading and, not to brag, but to be plain honest, me taking the time to listen to my kid.  It was a difficult year and wonderful all wrapped up in one package.  I'll do it again if God leads us, but as of now, she is flourishing and we trust God she is in His hands and in the center of His will.
As far as Ryan goes, that little man has brought so much joy to our lives.  Em thinks he's great and we think she's right!  

I just have one bone to pick with the kid...

He has had the "Big D" for over a month now.  I don't think I've informed you of his digestive journey thus far, but early on he struggled with the "Big C" for several months, trying to pinch it at all costs because it was obviously painful.  I will spare you the details but let's just say, it wasn't pretty!  I started pureeing prunes and giving him a natural plant source of arabinogalactan which worked wonders!  He stopped avoiding what Freud said we all love to do and was pooping along seemingly for a good 5 months or so. 

And then, a little over a month ago things started flowing a little too freely.  Let's just say bath time became a part of our morning routine!  He has maintained an exceptional appetite, along with reaching his milestones.  But more recently on our road trip to and from South Dakota, with Ry's behind being washed off at an Interstate Rest Area, well, let's just say this mama has been pounding the Internet and library research sites.  

And the diagnosis, "Toddler Diarrhea" just isn't acceptable, nor scientific enough for me!  Yeah, there were several websites that said it's normal for some babies to just have diarrhea for the first 3 years of life.  What a load!?!!!  

Diarrhea=Mal absorption=Poor Nutrition 

If a professional ever gives you the diagnosis "Toddler Diarrhea" turn around and walk out the door.  They are stating the obvious.  It's just like the "diagnosis" of "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" which is a fancy way of telling you what you already know!  You are tired all the time!  Duh!  BUT WHY?!  Don't get me started here...

I haven't fed, knowingly at least, Ryan foods containing major allergens.  I did give him a few gluten free/dairy free/egg free waffles, but of course they had soy in them, so have halted those.  He literally just had corn for the first time in his 14 months of life, 3 days ago.  And I'm not on the American corn bandwagon, so he won't be consuming mass quantities of that!  The only grains he's had are brown rice, gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa, and chia, with the exception of kamut which I soon realized was a fancy Egyptian name for wheat.  That's been out of his system for maybe 2 months now.  I know he's allergic to eggs because his little belly immediately breaks out in a rash after eating them, which sucks...but I'm allergic to them, too, so it's not that hard not to buy them...anyway, he's mainly been a meat, veggie, fruit and rice kind of guy.

So why the "Big D" is the big question.

He has an appointment tomorrow with our doctor.  I have a feeling I already know what's going on...the kid, along with his sis, parents and pretty much whole lineage of relatives, has some food sensitivities which, in turn, translate into bowel issues.  Diverticulitis, IBS, chronic constipation/diarrhea, minor and major food allergies/sensitivities, gluten/dairy/egg intolerance, just to name a few of his genetic contributions.  I will seek to find answers without invasive procedures...I think his brother endured enough of that for our whole family.

Add to this the fact that the FDA thinks it's awesome to genetically modify foods (GMO) that God Almighty created differently, throw in 100 years of refined foods that our bodies aren't used to breaking down, and that's my theory of why we have a whole generation of food allergies, sensitivities, certain diseases and other disorders.

Anyway, people, when they hear the food sensitivities/allergies that I have or Emily has, always say, "What can you eat?"  I can eat a ton of foods and there are so many awesome blogs and cookbooks out there that are allergen friendly, so I never think of myself as missing out on anything.  Em and I made homemade Oreo type cookies from Cybele Pascal's cookbook just recently...Em said she likes them way better than the original!  I'm a foodie, I'll admit it, so I'm seeking food that tastes good and is good for me and my family, not just something to shove down our throats.  Having food sensitivities has helped me think a bit more about what we eat and why.

So, this is where we are on our journey.  Thankfully, in spite of the diarrhea, we have a very active and happy little man on our hands.  We know we will need to tweak a few things in order for him to flourish and be healthy, but I'm thankful for the last 5 years plus of research I've already done so that this task won't feel so overwhelming.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


So, today I was supposed to meet my mom at her chemo appointment at 11:30.

She had forewarned me that the room wasn't really that big and there may not be a lot of space...that I may be bored just sitting there with her for 2 hours while she has "poison", as she calls it, pumped into her veins.

But I'm empathetic.  Not enough to have my boobs cut off, but enough to want to sit through boring appointments with her!  So, Auntie came over to the house to spend time with my handsome little lover boy and I set off.

We live about a half hour to forty five minutes from the hospital and oncology offices where my mom is receiving treatments.  I decided to call my BFF on the way there and catch up since it had been way too long.  As a result, the 20 minute traffic delay didn't seem so bad, but I did arrive a 1/2 hour late to my mom's appointment, thinking I had missed a good 30 minutes of toxic tonic time with my mom.  My dad met me in the lobby and we headed in to see Bebe.  She was in an examination room waiting for, what, she did not know...

Someone checked to see what it was my mom was waiting on, besides getting the show on the road.  Apparently she had a doctor's appointment first, so after that was all said and done, it was an hour into when my mom thought she'd be done with 1/2 her chemo.

We headed out to the chemo room.

Oh!  My!  Word!

Imagine a room as big as your family room with a dozen recliners in it, 6 and 6 opposite one another, and a dozen portable IV stands.  Granted, there was a sky light, windows on one wall and a glass wall into the nurses station on the other wall, so there was ample lighting, but the scene was nothing short of a blood bank donation station or a gore-less scene from M.A.S.H.

I ASSURE you, there's no way on earth that cute kids at Children's Hospital are lined up getting chemo without space for their Mommy or Daddy to snuggle up next to them.  What the freak?  How wasn't there room in such a setting, under such circumstances, for a loved one, friend, or family member to sit aside their chemo recipient and press on through 2 hours?

I tell you what, there's got to be a better way!  There were cute little old men and ladies in there, sitting in their comfy chairs, getting chemo all by themselves.  The sweet little man who had had a stroke, snuggled under a warming blanket, stole my heart.  The brave woman next to my mom, IV flowing, fighting her disease, seemed alone.

I smiled at each one.  I made eye contact.  I let their hearts know that I was sorry they were doing this, that I thought they were brave and strong.

And then I had to walk out of the room with my dad because there wasn't room at the Inn for us.

My dad and I headed to the bistro and had a bite for lunch.  After about 45 minutes, we were wrapping it up and my mom called my dad to tell him that she hadn't even started her chemo.

So, yes, if you are doing all the math, we are now at the "15 minutes until I'm outta here" moment my mom was looking forward to and she hadn't even had one red drop of her chemo yet!

They couldn't find her port, for goodness sake!

After 4 painful pokes, the nurse called radiology, set up an x-ray for my mom, and, long story short, I called my mom at 5:00 after I had been home for 3 hours trying to get Ryan down for a nap, to see what the scoop was...she was in the car finally on her way home.

...her port had shifted a little in her arm so the nurse couldn't find it, but they finally did with the help of the x-ray and my mom had her second round of chemo, by herself, in a room full of other alone people, all of whom were not her family members.

So, next time I go I'm taking my own folding chair, by golly, and I'll blog an interview with my mom...and anyone else in there that will talk to me...because we'll have 2 whole hours, or 5 and a half, or whatever...