Decisions

It’s time to find my own way in the world. The past few weeks have past quickly, and I feel driven to make some important decisions.  Time to face the fact that life has an end, and I need to make the most of my time.

My garage filled with my parents belongings. It was hard to leave the house and pass by the totality of their possessions. My need for order sent me into a frenzy of organizing. The large items such as the huge California king bed, frame and damaged furniture went curbside for trash removal. Usable furniture found new homes with some new refugees. Since my parents entered this country as refugees with empty paper suitcases this felt like a good call. Some items I brought into my home as my mother would want.  My bedroom has three lamps brought over by my Great Aunt Shoshana from Shanghai after World War II. I have seen them in my mother’s room my entire life. They now sport new lampshades, and I enjoy seeing them on my nightstand.

IMG_0701

I saved some items of clothing from my father and mother. Vitas, the hospice organization that helped my mother in the last week, sent me a note that volunteers can create a memory bear out of these materials.  I finally gathered the items, wrote a bit about why the items were chosen, and I will ask for 3 bears (one for me, my daughter, and granddaughter) be created uniting clothing from both my parents in one bear each.

Getting my garage cleaned out is almost done. I have been thinking of getting a new car, and I want to be able to park inside. After 8 weeks I finally can park my car in the garage. Yeah!  Kind of narrowed it down to 3 choices.  I am looking for a SUV. Toyota Highlander, Subaru Forester or Subaru Outback. But I need to test drive them to see how I like the feel. Think I will be checking cars out this week. Been looking at all kind of cars in the parking lots. And silly as this sounds, color has importance in my decision also. Maybe I should get a hybrid. You never know about the price of gas. Probably will make this decision this week.

My parent’s passing has also brought new factors into play.  I have lived in my house for 31 years. There was no way I could think of moving away from this area after I brought my parents to Sacramento 9 years ago. Now we should decide if we want to remain here in Sacramento, or leave the city, state, or country.

At the end of 2016 I was planning on remodeling inside and out. Now before I take on expense and aggravation we should decide where we want to live. After some thought and dreaming we ruled out moving to the Bay Area.That would be bucking the trend: moving from more expensive to a lower cost of living. Wanting to find a place on a single level I checked out a Del Web retirement community. I saw some nice 2 bedroom layouts with about the same square footage, and a small landscaped yard. Plenty of activities to do, and a monthly fee for participation. This also didn’t quite seem right. Too much like following my parents path. They sold their houses and moved to Del Web in Sun City West, Arizona. For me this would not be as drastic since Roseville is only 20 minutes from my home. But one reason my Mom moved was to get my Dad involved with activities. This doesn’t work.  And do I want to live in a retirement community for “active seniors”? It isn’t completely off the table, but it may be near the edge.   There is the condo route, and there are only a few that meets my single story garden cottage feel that I am looking for. Increase in property taxes, and high HOA fees are a negative. Staying where I am, and paying for a landscaped yard, doing all remodeling and hiring a gardener and an occasional house cleaner will probably be cheaper. That is as long as we stay in California. I ruled out Florida as a permanent house change.  Maybe a short term rental would work. I wouldn’t want to worry about a property on the other side of the country. I decided that I didn’t need to make a decision this quickly anyway.

Vacation plans have us stumped.  I need to apply for passports just to be ready to travel. Probably start with a trip to the coast, or Lake Tahoe.  A new car will get us on the road. Maybe Libby will join us, or go visit her dog hotel. Many of my friends have taken some fun sounding trips. Any suggestions for a photo loving, laid back trip.

Have you found yourself in this position with many decisions to make, and also have the freedom to make them?  How does this make you feel? I move from excited to stressed. Procrastination in not the path I plan to take. Now I need to relax and enjoy the change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endings and Beginnings

My Mom is in hospice at North Avenue Villa Board and Care home, and there has been continuous care nurses for the past few days.  I respect her wishes to join my Dad, and allow the dying process to control her. Today is day 7 without food or water.

Vitas helps to make sure that she is comfortable. The first couple of days were difficult. Mom was in pain, and the comfort drugs did not make much of a dent. Very hard to watch and hear. My brothers arrived a couple of days into the process, and we take turns sitting by her side. Being able to take a break helps.  My daughter provided some delicious home cooked meals. That was a big support.

When my Dad passed away about  5 months ago we knew my mother would want to be with her husband. So no additional funeral planning is necessary.

For most of my life I have taken direction from my responsibilities: education, marriage, jobs, kids, grandkids, and parents. It has been nearly 9 years since I moved my parents to Sacramento. Before that I was traveling back and forth to Arizona to help there.  Never experienced empty nest time, and about 3 years ago my oldest grandson came to live with us. I understand that it is hard for young people to start out, but I feel that I now need to grab the reins of my life with my husband.

After my Dad died I had no time to really grieve because I made it my role to take care of Mom the way my Dad had taken care of her. I tried to make this time together a new journey for her. I did not succeed because inevitably Mom never accepted her Arthur’s death. We could spend the day together and suddenly she would say we should check on Dad.

Since I spent many days together I thought it would be interesting to find out about the happier times in my Mom’s life before the Nazis came and destroyed her youth.  Each time I visited I picked a new topic: favorite foods, toys, sports. Sometimes I would ask about my grandparents. When I was growing up I heard so little about them. I barely knew more than their name.  I wanted to hear what they were like from her 14 year old point of view. Talking like this made time together enjoyable. But sometimes my Mom would drift into sadness, or an agitated Alzheimer state would appear. I never knew what Mom would  meet me. I do know that my dog Libby would be ready for all her emotions, and she would smile

For the first time the direction my life takes will be of my own choosing. This takes me out of my comfort zone. Plenty going through my head. I can’t even figure out how life may change. Maybe it is time to figure out my Bucket List.  Time is marching along faster and faster and I know that eventually I will become less independent. Need to grab some gusto with my husband and dog Libby!

1611_01_coppsquarry_5074

My path is opening up. Where will it lead me?

When It Rains ….

The rains came to Northern California. Much needed rain. After years of drought, and mild dry winters I am not out with my CTT group shooting. Instead I planned on using this time for editing, blogging, and organizing. Perfect way to start 2017. Thinking and organizing.

Then the other shoe dropped. One week into the new year and my mother falls into an abyss of her mind. Despite my effort to help my mother through the grief of loosing my father in September, she hasn’t accepted this concept. And after the past 3 weeks I am coming to understand that she will never remember this life changing event. Her dementia/Alzheimer disease escalated dramatically. Change is hard for most people, especially older individuals. Loss of a soul mate of 69 years is hard to overcome. Mom’s search for Dad, and her frightening screams were too much for others around her, and on a Sunday January 8th I got a call from assisted living that my Mom was in the ER for 3 hours all by herself. Imagine being strapped in a guerney and sent out. There was NO reason for her to be alone. 

The spiral continued with more changes. Medicine changes and adjustments, more trips to the ER, and more changes to her living arrangement. From assisted living to memory care is frequently the path in the larger corporate places. I went looking for a smaller, more personal approach at what they call a 6 bed Board and Care. I hope that there will be consistency. 

Still learning and trying to understand the world of dementia. Mom went back and forth three times to the ER in 2 weeks. Disappointed that my brothers did not step up. I felt exhausted. No surprise that despite the flu shot my body gave up. Went home with a pounding headache, and ended up with Trump Flu. It started on Friday as Trump took office. Symptoms included a high fever (101-102), pounding headache, chills, aches,and a cough for 4 days. Looking at any kind of screen hurt my head. My body and mind were in complete sync. Guess there is no preparing for the shit storm of life. Country be very, very afraid. Left helpless on the couch I drifted in and out for days. I couldn’t participate in any the the weekend Women’s Marches. I couldn’t be with my mother as she moves into her new place. I couldn’t even think.

So the sun came out this Tuesday morning, and my fever is gone. Legs still very wobbly. Able to get on the phone and speak with Mom. She was so sweet and said she should have come and taken care of me. Told her I needed a couple more days and I would be visiting.  I know that this disease is complicated. The Kaiser Memory Care Clinic told me that being a Holocaust survivor makes it even more so. Who knows what memories come back. 

Got busy completing arrangements to move all of Mom’s stuff out of the place she shared with my Dad. Moving day is Thursday, and tomorrow is the day to get organized. I’m running on about 50% energy, and I know I can’t go a whole day. So I will do the best I can and let the chips fall where they may.

Sleep clock all crazy so tomorrow is today. And another day starts and maybe I can try and hold back the tide.

 

 

 

Copps Quarry

1611_01_coppsquarry_5115Getting out with fellow photographers helps me get a different outlook on life. It is time for me to relax. It is time to look outward. Stop worrying about family who seem to think I can wave a wand, and abracadabra all their wants will be delivered. All mysteries of the universe revealed by me. I am so powerful. Not!

Since my Dad passed away in September much time is spent with my Mom. Luckily my dog, Libby joins me most days. On Fridays I watch grandkids, and my one year old entertains residents at the assisted living facility with my Mom. So to get out of this routine I set aside at least one day a week to photography.

This time we explored a new place for me. Copp’s Quarry provided granite to San Francisco and Stockton for buildings. Closed in 1915 I explored narrow walking paths dotted with granite partially cut, a meandering creek, and Indian grinding rocks.

1611_01_coppsquarry_5064

Where will this path lead?

1611_01_coppsquarry_5088

Next time I will bring my new variable neutral density filter to improve the rushing water in this image.                         

Lots of fungus among us.

A close-up look at nature reveals faces to me.

1611_01_coppsquarry_5129

Black eyed

1611_01_coppsquarry_5089

Look at my perfect profile

1611_01_coppsquarry_5069

The Lone Ranger look

Splashes of color grab my attention.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1611_01_coppsquarry_5120

Lizard sunning

What does this mean?

1611_01_coppsquarry_5144

And now I have come to the end of this set of images.

1611_01_coppsquarry_5096

Thank you for joining me on my recounted afternoon photo journey. Any words from you are always welcomed.

.