Tag Archive | change

Change is the Only Thing in Life You Can Count On

Unlike most of the country, Southeast Wisconsin has enjoyed above average temperatures for the month of November. Even the typical gray skies and rainy weather have gone on a hiatus . . . until tonight. Believe it or not, we’re expecting four to eight inches of snow.

I bring this up because when the weather is lovely, I figure it is my responsible to take advantage of it, so I’ve been bumming around instead of plunking my butt in my chair to write. As you might have noticed, I haven’t posted any “words of wisdom” in over a week.

One thing I want to share with you is Ken hasn’t fallen in almost two weeks! It’s an occurrence to celebrate because he was falling at least twice a week. What has caused the change? I’m happy to tell you all it took was a couple of changes.

Because he typically fell during the night, I made a house rule that he was not allowed in the bathroom whenever I was sleeping. To accommodate his late-night bathroom urges, I put a commode in the bedroom. He fought me tooth and nail saying he wasn’t “comfortable” to use it. I told him he’d better get comfortable because I was tired of the firemen seeing me in my jammies in the middle of the night. After a couple of weeks, he admitted the commode was a good idea.

The other change was to have a physical therapist come into the house twice a week. She has shown him better transferring methods from his wheelchair to the bed, recliner, toilet, and car. It’s Ken’s natural tendency to make every thing as difficult as possible; I tease him he chooses the most difficult way because he’s a born engineer. It’s innate.

For over a year, the doctor has insisted Ken do thirty minutes of exercise a day. I’ve worked around him with this therapist because she has given him exercises he can do while sitting. . . of course, he puts them off. Again I need to lay down the law to get him to help himself.

I don’t know whether his reluctance to face something new is due to his fear of failure or just procrastination. Perhaps it’s a little of both. Being the exact opposite of him, I find his willingness to succumb to these little challenges frustrating.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact if I wait long enough, he’ll do what is expected. I really hate having to be a task manager — when I supervised people in corporate I usually had self-starters. I had no tolerance for people I had to micro-manage.

I also realize, though, things are different with Ken. I can’t fire him. He says I can’t lay him off either.  🙂

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In With the New and Retire the Old

 I’ve been writing on a laptop since 2009. The operating system is Vista and the “Word” software is Office 2003. Dated? Yup. Besides having software from the stone age, my faithful computer is also broken in a couple of places. I’ve used this machine so much I’ve worn the paint off letters N, B, and E. That’s why I asked for a new laptop for my birthday. But I’m finding once again–be careful what you ask for.

Excitement filled me as I signed on the dotted line to take ownership of the package the FedEx guy delivered. I tore open the box and there she was. Bright, shining and virginal–the new little Dell was ready for action–well, not quite yet. There was a booklet of instructions included in the package and when I studied them, I decided I wouldn’t attempt initializing the machine right away because who wants to get frustrated on a perfect birthday. Right?

My birthday celebration and the aftermath have passed. The “Taj Garage” is halfway completed and poor new little Dell is still sitting untouched. I realize I must gear up and find some techie courage to begin making my new machine mine. I  must accept my first try loading software maybe a challenge. I also must accept I will need to transfer files and links to other websites I use all the time. I will bang my head against the wall trying to remember passwords and user names. See why I’m dragging my feet?

“Old Faithful” Dell has become a comfortable friend. She has produced eight novels, a blog with over 400 posts, over twenty short stories and too many emails to count. She’s entertained me with certain games and connected me with long lost friends. I haven’t the heart to replace her even though I know I must. Weaning myself away from my old friend a little bit at a time seems to be the only sensible way we will part. Perhaps if I set new Dell on the table and look at her for a while, I may gain some courage to make the replacement.

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APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 3

Chapter 8

Lacrosse, April 1, 1940—Rosalie came home a week after Angelina’s birth. A nurse took her down to the exit the hospital in a wheelchair, and Angelo treated her like a fragile flower as he helped her in the car. The birth took so much of her strength and vitality; he wondered how she would ever be able to take care of the baby alone.

Mrs. Lombardo and his mother volunteered to care for both Rosalie and the child until the new mother regained her strength. They assured him Rosie just needed rest and a chance to bond with the new baby.

When Angelo brought Rosie home, her mother met the couple in the driveway with open arms. “Bambina! Welcome home!”

“Oh Mama,” Rosalie cried.

“Let me carry the bambina for you. You look so tired.” Mrs. Lombardo scowled when she saw the dark circles and pale complexion of her daughter.

Angelo carried the suitcase and helped Rosie get into the house. Mrs. Armani prepared a hot lunch for everyone, and Angelo’s father made sure a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses welcomed Rosalie home.

Rosalie sighed. “I’m so glad to be home.”

Mrs. Lombardo took charge. “Let’s get you out of that coat, sweetheart so you can eat lunch.” She handed Angelo the coat to hang in the closet. She continued with her orders, “Then you can nurse the baby before her nap.”

Simmering hot beef, roasted carrots, and potatoes made Angelo salivate. “Doesn’t the food smell good, Rosie?” Angelo lived on cold sandwiches while Rosalie recovered in the hospital, and now he planned to gorge himself on a hot, home-cooked meal.

Angelo pulled out a chair for Rosalie, and his mother put a filled plate in front of her. “Mangiare!”

As Angelo gobbled down a healthy portion of the meal, Rosalie picked at her food. “Mama, I’m sorry. I’m just not hungry.”

“But Rosalie, you must eat to make the baby’s milk.”

Rosalie threw her napkin on top of her food. “I’m sick of having to eat for the baby. The baby is out of me now, so why do I still need to eat for the baby?”

Her mother stared in disbelief. She tried to understand how Rosalie might be overwhelmed. “My sweet girl, the baby needs you as much now as she did before she came into the world, bambina. God planned it that way.”

“It’s not enough she tore me up inside and out? Now I am supposed to be a cow, too?” Rosalie screamed and stomped into the living room.

Angelo hung his head and stared at the good meal in front of him. He realized he didn’t possess the right words to calm her. He hoped Mrs. Lombardo and his mother might know the right things to say to bring Rosalie out of her funk.

Mrs. Lombardo followed Rosalie. She sat beside her daughter on the sofa.  “I understand this is hard right now. The first baby makes you learn so many new things. Being a mama is a big job, Rosie.”

Rosie cried. “I never wanted a baby! And now I must serve a life sentence taking care of her?”

Mrs. Lombardo’s mouth fell open and her hands went directly to her hips. Her voice took on a stern tone. “That is about enough, Rosalie. It is time to grow up. Stop acting like a spoil child. Maybe a nap might help.”

Rosalie pouted. She hated it when her mother made her feel small. She got up and dragged herself to her bedroom. She had been banished like a child who misbehaved in her own house! She pounded her pillow and cried.

Mrs. Lombardo returned to the kitchen and picked up the phone to call Eduardo at the restaurant. “Eduardo, you need to come. Rosie needs you. She is in such a state; I do not understand her. You always do.”

A couple of hours later Eduardo left the restaurant and drove to his daughter’s house. He conferred with his wife in the kitchen and then went to his daughter who sat in the rocking chair nursing his grandchild.

“What a beautiful sight, bambina!” He said.

“What’s beautiful about this, Papa? I’ve become a cow like Josie’s Betsy.”

Eduardo sat close to her on the floor. He spoke in a soft voice. “Oh Rosalie, no, you are a mama. You are not a cow. You are doing important work. You are feeding your little girl, my granddaughter. This is a great miracle.”

“Papa, would you think I’m a bad mother if I told you I didn’t want to feed my daughter? Or change her? Or rock her to sleep?” Rosalie spat the words like she bit into spoiled food.

Eduardo frowned. “How can you say such things?”

“Because. I hurt all over and now my breasts are cracked and bleeding from her pulling on me. I hate this! I want to quit being a mother.” Rosalie cried.

Eduardo knelt in front of her. “Rosalie, a mama makes many sacrifices for her babies. You are very young, but your mother was only sixteen when your brother Giovanni came, and her mama lived in the old country across an ocean; your mama is just around the corner. She will help you.”

“Mama thinks I’m hateful.” Tears welled in Rosalie’s eyes. “I am selfish. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but right now I wish somebody would take this baby away from me. I can’t do this.”

Eduardo held her hand while he stared at his sleeping granddaughter. “No, my bambina, you are just afraid. Deep in your heart you love your little Angelina as I love you. You and Angelo will experience a wonderful life together, and now with little Angelina here, the love between you will grow even more. You are not alone, bambina. I am here, Mama is here. Angelo is here. His parents are here. Your brothers and sisters are here. Donna and Josie will help. When you get stronger, you will be the best mama in the world.”

“Oh, Papa.” She stared into her father’s moist eyes. “I want to believe what you say.”

Mrs. Lombardo came into the room and sat on the sofa. Rosalie looked at her mother with different eyes. “Mama, how did you ever do this?”

“One day at a time, my sweet daughter. One day at a time.”

Chapter 9

Lviv, Ukraine – April 1940—Heidi slipped into the bed she shared with Ruthie. She closed her eyes in the darkness and dreamed of the days in Berlin when she led a selfish, carefree life with her only desire to become a ballerina. Then overnight her life changed. She left her homeland and went on the run with three small children and their sick mother. In the still of the night she second guessed her decision to accompany Dora. She worried about the welfare of Uncle Hans and her three cousins. His only advantage might be his German background; perhaps his chances with the Nazis in power might better for him than other people. She prayed this would be the case. Some of the neighbors told her some non-Jews had been forced to work as slaves in mines and factories. Everyone needed to carry papers to prove their identity.  If people didn’t carry papers stating where they lived and worked, the Nazis would put them in prison.

The children woke before their mother at eight o’clock. Their hunger made them cry. She used the last of the cornmeal to make the breakfast porridge, and Heidi wondered where she would find more cornmeal.

Dora slept and didn’t stir for breakfast.  Usually the children’s activity would wake her, but today she lay still under a thin blanket.

Heidi bent down and whispered in Dora’s ear. “Dora, breakfast is ready.”

Dora didn’t respond.

Heidi shook Dora. No response. Dora appeared grey. Heidi gently shook her again. “Dora, please wake up. The children are asking for you.” Still no response. Heidi touched Dora’s forehead. She expected Dora to be hot with fever but instead her forehead seemed cold. Heidi pulled the blanket down to Dora’s waist and found a bottle of pills in the bed. The label on the bottle read, “Cyanide.”

“Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” Heidi screamed.

“What is wrong Heidi? Is Mama sick?” David held Ruthie’s hand, and she sucked the thumb of the opposite hand.

Heidi stared at the innocent faces of the two children. “I think your mother is very sick, David. You stay here. I will get some help.”

Heidi ran down the hallway and banged on a friend’s door. “Fritz! Fritz! Please open the door. It is Heidi!”

A thin young man with a gaunt face came to the door. “Heidi, whatever is wrong?”

“Dora won’t wake up! I think she is dead.”

“Oh no!”

Heidi cried. “Yes! Oh my God! What am I going to do now?”

Fritz pulled up his suspenders attached to his tattered trousers and followed Heidi to her room. He approached the figure in the bed and one glance told him Heidi had guessed right. With urgency in his voice, he said, “I will go down and get the landlord. You keep the children calm.”

David cried, “What is wrong with Mama, Heidi?”

Heidi bent down and hugged the six year old. “She is very sick, David. We must fetch a doctor to tell us what is wrong.”

David looked at her with frightened puppy eyes.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. I will take care of you.”

The landlord came to the room and went to Dora’s bed. He wore a stone face as he looked at the body. He turned to Heidi. “I will call the coroner.”

Everyone in the apartment complex came out of their rooms. A horse-drawn wagon pulled up in front of the building, and two men dressed in white uniforms came to the third floor.  They gently placed Dora’s body onto the stretcher as Heidi and the children stayed out in the hallway. David held her hand while Ruthie clung to Heidi’s skirt still sucking her thumb. The men struggled down the staircase carrying their mother away. Only baby Jacob seemed oblivious to the situation.

David cried. “Where are they taking my Mama?”

His tender young voice broke Heidi’s heart. She decided she must tell him the truth. “I am so sorry, David. The man with the stretcher told me your mother died in the night and went to heaven.”

“Where is heaven?” David cried. “I want to go too!”

She stooped down and held David close. “I’m afraid we can’t go there, David. God will send us a special angel when it is our time. Without the angel’s help, we can’t find heaven.”

“That’s not fair!”

“I know, sweetheart. It is definitely not fair.”

Frantic thoughts rushed through her brain as she tried to soothe her young charges.

*****

After she tucked the children in for their afternoon naps, Heidi found an envelope addressed to her in Dora’s handwriting.

My dearest Heidi,

You are right. God did send you to me because he realized I am not strong enough to care for the children alone.  I did not realize my own weakness when we departed from Warsaw. I cannot accept this situation.   We live like peasants in one dreary room. There is no food and little hope of ever going back home. But I am sure I made the correct choice to leave. 

I cannot go on like this any longer. Everything I loved is gone; the future holds nothing for me in this world. I am a burden to you. I must leave.

Please love and care for my children and forgive me for leaving you with such a heavy burden. I believe you are strong enough to protect yourself and the children. You are wise beyond your years. Perhaps you can make your way to Palestine or Switzerland.

 I leave you my car, money, and jewels. A large rare diamond is sewn in the hem of my coat; it may help you someday.

Be safe my child. I will wait for you in heaven.

Love, Dora

Heidi read the letter again and again in disbelief. Oh Dora? How could you? How could you trust someone so young with your three little ones?

During the past few months, Dora and Heidi grew close. But Heidi didn’t recognize Dora’s deep despair. Life had become more difficult than either of them imagined. And what would she do now? She may not be Jewish, but the new laws stated anyone who protected Jews would be punished by the Nazis too.

Heidi stared out into space as the children took their afternoon naps. Dora taught her more about art, music, and literature than she ever learned in formal schooling; she enhanced Heidi’s life so much in the little time they shared together. She and Dora planned exciting things in Warsaw, but now all those dreams disappeared. Heidi never would dance on the biggest stages in Europe with Dora looking on in the audience. Instead, she now bore the sole responsibility of caring for Dora’s three little children.

A few pills changed everything for Heidi and the children, and she couldn’t hide her fear and anger. Why couldn’t Dora be stronger? Why couldn’t she accept the harsh treatment the world dished out to her as so many others? As Heidi gazed at the orphans asleep, she promised someday she might forgive their mother; in the meantime, she would do her best to keep them safe and promised never to abandon them.

 

 

 

A True Confession

Yesterday was my 63rd birthday. I usually don’t tell people how old I am because I’ve always looked ten years younger. In fact, when I went to college at 35, one of my young contemporaries called me a “well preserved old broad.” (laugh here) At the time I accepted the compliment, and now, I hope it’s still true. (you can laugh again)

I really don’t mind getting older, but I do mind the changes it brings. Instead of presents, now I get phone calls. It’s not like I need anything, but I still revel when I’m surprised. Ken used to always surprise me, but now his illness doesn’t allow him to shower me with his special thoughtful gifts. It hurts. It’s another reminder of how much MS has taken from us.

I think at this stage of the game I should stop being a child about my birthday, but somehow I can’t turn off the fact that July 31 was the one day out of the year that I was the big cheese. My mother allowed all of us to pick what kind of cake we could have and what special outing we’d like for our special day. For me, it was poppyseed cake and an afternoon swimming at Brown’s Lake. On top of that, people sang to me and I got to make a wish before I blew out the candles on the cake. Then there was always the presents people picked out just for me. What a head rush! Who wouldn’t be crazy about a day like that?

So, maybe you can see now that taking Ken to the doctor and going out for lunch isn’t quite the same thing. However, it was very special when his doc sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Wasn’t that great?

A good blogging friend once wrote a comment to one of my writings about accepting change, which I came across this morning. Here it is:

The principles of the Buddhist philosophy is that it’s our expectations that cause suffering. When we release expectation and enjoy what is, suffering ends.

Makes sense doesn’t it? So why is it so hard to do?

 

Replacement Time Has Arrived

Did you ever have a piece of furniture you didn’t want to part with? I’m struggling with that dilemma right now. My sofa and my writing chair have seen better days several years ago, but because of our deteriorated economic status, we were just thankful for what we had.

Most mornings I wake up about two or three o’clock because my old joints and bones need to get up and move around. As I go through this routine, I wake myself up to the point where I can’t fall back to sleep right away, so I patter down to the living room and make myself comfy on the sofa. I turn on the tube to find a boring narrator to put me back to sleep. This whole process takes about an hour or two, so the next time I wake, the sun is up and it’s time to start the new day.

As you might imagine, the sofa has become a very comfortable friend to me, especially when Ernie, my pug dog, always curls up and goes back to sleep with me for those few hours. My question is, will I find a new sofa that offers so much comfort or should I find someone to reupholster the old one? Furthermore, if I do decide to recover the old furniture, will the replacement cushions and pillows be as comfortable as the old ones?

For the past four years when visitors came, I covered the holes with throw blankets and our guests were too polite to look underneath at the bare worn spots in the fabric. Now that I’m enjoying the arrival of my first social security check, I can  ponder the thought of buying something new.

So, as I work through paying all the creditors who have patiently waited for the past three years as Ken and I have journeyed into the land of “sickness and unemployment,” I will search for the perfect replacement furniture. If you happen to see a plump, gray-haired woman lying on a sofa in a furniture store, please say “Hi.” It will probably be me.

Fall In

fall-decorations-lara-taylorHappy first day of autumn for all of you in the northern hemisphere. This is my favorite time of year, and I’m not alone. A survey taken by CBS revealed Fall for 37% of you is your favorite time of the year with Spring coming in at a close 35%. There must be something said for these transition seasons of the year, huh?

I think people enjoy this season the most because it’s about as close to perfect as weather can be. Temperatures climb into the low 70s during the day, and cool nights keep us comfortable when we sleep. Best of all nature provides a beautiful show of color that can’t be duplicated. Ken and I always take at least a half dozen car rides to just look at the fall colors in the woods.

Even food becomes comforting. Think about all the sweet, spicy pumpkin stuff that comes out  like pumpkin bread, muffins, cheesecake, milkshakes and ice cream. Did I mention pies? Yeah, this time of year, we all pretty much OD on the orange gourd.

I love a good football game played under the lights with a harvest moon low in the sky. I’m comfortable in a sweater or sweatshirt outdoors, or I can curl up with a blanket in front of the television in the evening. I love it when my dog Ernie snuggles up close to me with his warm little self. During the dog days (pardon the pun) of summer, the last thing I want is a hot dog resting on my lap.

Fall also brings Halloween with scarecrows, cute little witches and other goblins ringing my doorbell on October 31. I used to love making my kid’s costumes for their trick or treating activities. For fifteen years, Ken and I hosted a pumpkin carving party for all of our friends. Sadly, this year, though, I don’t think we’ll be throwing a party. One member is too sick to come, another is moving to Florida, Ken’s parents don’t like to drive the 90+ miles from Chicago any more, and Ken hasn’t been able to wield a knife for quite a while because of a nasty tremor in his right arm.  But I’ll drag out some of the lighted Halloween decorations and scatter other Fall decorations around the house and if I’m feeling real ambitious I might even string some lights outside. Halloween lights are as fun as Christmas lights in this area.

And with a little bit of luck, maybe some friends might join us for some spiked apple cider and a piece of pumpkin something as we watch Hokiss Pokiss for the umpteenth time.

Truth, Experience, & Feedback

communicatingI have been re-evaluating  how I can make by blog better. One area is my categories. Now that I’ve been at this for about six months, I realize I don’t use half of the ones I created, which is probably due to the fact that I had no idea of what I was doing when I first began. We all go through this, right? Please say, yes.

Since that time, I think I have a better idea of what I talk about everyday, and now it’s time to make an adjustment. But my worst fear is, when I go to make the change to make navigation easier for you,  I will screw up what I’ve previously created. I think changing anything electronically can be a nightmare for people without a doctorate in computer science. But I digress. . .

Basically, I talk  write about three things.

  • My experience with Ken’s journey through Multiple Sclerosis
  • My life and writing experience
  • My Soapbox Opinions

However, if there’s one thread that runs through all of these topics, it’s truth–as I see it, of course. This is important because  I want you to know me as a person through what I write. I want you to know I’m genuine, sincere, and sometimes funny. I owe you that. (Besides, it’s the only way I know how to be. I’m truly not that creative to make up falsehoods—ever. It’s too much work!)

So, when you call up my blog, what you see is what you get. I know some of you appreciate this because you’ve told me so. But I do have some concern about those of you who “LIKE” and don’t give any other feedback. In six months, there was only one brave soul who disagreed with me, and we all know we don’t have a “DON”T LIKE” button, or a “YOU’RE OFF YOUR ROCKER, LADY” button.

I think feedback is one of the best things we can do for each other. Every blog I follow, I comment. I take a little time to think of something I can contribute and I write a couple of lines. I LOVE COMMENTS!  In college, I was one of the rare ones who looked for the RED INK on my papers. Why? Because the red ink helped me grow as a writer. So, tell me what you think about what I’ve written. I value every comment and try to respond to everyone who makes an effort. Even if you think I’m full of crap, say so. If you think the writing is great, PLEASE say that, too.

Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion–Wordpress and Facebook buddies. I can take it. After years of  professional writing, I’ve grown a thick skin. After all, isn’t our craft built on two principles? Practice and feedback. Isn’t this how we grow as writers?

I’’ll thank you in advance for responding. Very Sincerely,

Barbara, Barb, Barbie – pick one

When Accidents Happen

OopsWhen I went to a Caregiver counselor a few weeks ago, she gave me a book called, Daily Comforts for Caregivers by Pat Samples. I thanked the counselor, read a few of the entries, and then didn’t pick up the book until sometime later. Even though the entries are short, somehow I didn’t find time to read one everyday. I’m like that. Aside from my blog and writing on one of my WIPs, I don’t do much of anything EVERY day. That would be too disciplined.

But today, I picked up the book and read a couple of entries. There was one in particular which resonated with me. It talked about “Accidents” which often happen around the house. I have to admit, one of the most frustrating things for me to accept is when Ken has an “Accident.”  Here’s what I’m talking about. The coffee carafe smashes on the kitchen floor because he doesn’t have the strength to pour the water into the coffee maker. He spilled a g;ass of milk  trying to carry it from the kitchen to the living room because of his trembling hand. Or how about the time when he sat on his glasses because he forgot where he put them. And I haven’t even mentioned the numerous falls he takes because stubbornly believes he doesn’t need his walker “for that little distance.” In this case, I hold my breath, say a prayer, and yell, “Are you okay? Need some help?”

So many of Ken’s accidents end up costing money. The all involve having to clean up a mess, and worst of all, he could get hurt. I wish I could wrap him in bubble wrap to protect him from himself, but as we all know, there would be a law against doing so. A more rational approach would be to just take over, and do everything for him. But, I can’t do that. He already knows his previous capabilities have deteriorated  He used to fix everything around the house, and now he can barely hold a screw driver still enough to tighten a screw. When accidents happen,  he is humiliated his Multiple Sclerosis has brought negative attention to him — again.

As much as my frustration wants me to yell  scream at him, I’ve learned to take a deep breath and smile. You can’t be angry when you smile and me dumping my wrath on him wouldn’t accomplish anything good; after all, he feels terrible already.

I love this man. I can’t take away his dignity and his eagerness to do things. He needs to try. I NEED him to try because I need to know he hasn’t given up. Plus, he feels good when he accomplishes the small feats. “Normal” people wouldn’t consider walking down the hallway without holding on to the wall an accomplishment, but for Ken, doing so makes a red-letter day. It’s a big deal for both of us. Sometimes we celebrate with a beer!

Like every other change that comes along, we find ways to cope. With accidents, I laugh and say, “So, gravity got you again, huh?” Then he laughs and says, “It’s the law, you know.” Our laughter takes away the immediate frustration we both feel. I clean up the mess. The sun comes up tomorrow and we both carry on as best as we can.