Sunday, January 30, 2011

The tears that seem endless - pt 1

I should have been asleep at midnight or certainly by 2 a.m. this morning, but I was gripped by reading news online about all the tragedies that have taken place in only the first month of this new year. Part of it is the old newshound in me after many years as a reporter and editor and an insatiable thirst for what's going on in the world.

However, today, a greater hunger lurks within me that tries to understand how it seems a greater number of humans teeter precariously between accepting that life is a journey overflowing with predictable and unpredictable hills and valleys … and falling into complete desperation, hopelessness and selfishness without any regard for the tragic consequences of their actions.

Too many children around this country instantly lost their innocence, faith and trust at its most basic human level this week when news erupted of the mother in Florida who confessed to shooting to death her teen son and daughter because they were too "mouthy." The most in-depth thesaurus in the world has no words adequate enough to describe this tragedy. News accounts report that a special "stress team" was brought in to assist the law enforcement officials who discovered and had to deal with this horrific scene.

The photographs of the mother on her way to and from jail are haunting with facial expressions of what are probably total madness at that stage. Was she insane? We have to wonder, how could she not be for firing bullets into her children's brains?

As human observers, we truly mourn the senseless loss of two young lives, two "normal" teens. However, at a deeper level, we should grieve the loss of innocence of a generation of children who will now wonder if their mom or dad would do the same to them. Perhaps therein lies the greater tragedy …

Continued tomorrow … because I need sleep now …

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pepaw's not happy with God - part 2 conclusion

I had to think fast when Pepaw announced again, “I’m ready to go. Are you?”

“How about we —”

Saved by the doctor. She called my father-in-law’s first name.

“That’s you.” I patted his arm to get his attention and stood quickly to get him on his feet. “She’s right over there.”

She greeted him and asked if he were okay.

“I lost my Bible.” That much he remembered.

“Oh, no,” she said. “Where did you lose it?”

“I don’t know where it went to.”

I reassured him. “We’re going to look for it when we go back.”

“Maybe it’s at the house …” I was relieved that he called the Alzheimer’s residence his home. He needed that. I needed that.

I gave her all the paperwork and explained his trouble sleeping and walking obsessively. I scooted my chair closer to his.

“You’re walking yourself to death, you know that?” I smiled. “You just keep walking and walking and walking.”

“You gotta walk,” he said. “You ain’t got much choice.”

I shook my head. “You’ve also got to make sure you don’t wear yourself out and keep some weight on you. Your jeans and everything are getting all baggy on you.”


Reviewing his paperwork filled with specific information on his sleeping habits, the doctor said, “He needs to rest.”

“I pray to God to put me to sleep.” Pepaw’s eyes focused on mine.

“I know you do,” I said.

“When I’m in the bed, He don’t put me to sleep.”

“That’s why we’re talking to the doctor.”

He’s in great condition overall with good blood pressure, clear lungs, etc. Not bad for 84 years old and a former lifelong smoker.

I summarize her report for his convenience: “You’re pretty healthy.”


After she explains more to me, I interpret that for him: “She’s going to give you something to help you sleep. If you’re going to do all that walking, you need your rest.”

“When God won’t let you sleep some more, that’s a big deal. That’s God’s saying, no, you can’t sleep no more.” He signed. “So, you don’t get sleep no more. And you can’t get any more sleeping pills either.”

“That’s what we’re working on for you. We have to make sure it’s safe. That’s why we always talk to the doctor first.”

“If you got a sleeping pill, you can go to sleep.”

“Sometimes we have to give God a little help here, so that’s why we’re taking care of you.”

I patted his forearm as he studied the doctor. He told her, “You’re doing a lot of writin’.” She smiled.

I explained that doctors have so much paperwork to fill out. All these laws nowadays, you know.

Then he repeated the whole story about his Bible probably being in his bed …

Back “home,” I searched but didn’t find the elusive written word of God. Not in his clothes, the bathroom, closet, chair or bed. His concern mounted.

I had no choice but to get him a new one. Hopefully that would calm him.

In the hallway, I told him I would look somewhere else for his Bible. He nodded and turned away. I let him go. I could hug him next time.

I suddenly realized that he hadn’t called me by my name all day. For an instant I was sad but accepted that he had forgotten it, but not me … yet.

I watched him greet his new buddy. He said, “Me and Monica went to the doctor, but I can’t find my Bible …”

Smiling, I asked the staff about his Bible. They told me it had been left in his clothing and had gone through the washing machine and was pretty much ruined. I told them I’d get him a new one. A few seconds later, from the lobby, I could see and hear Pepaw talking to a nurse, but he couldn’t see me.

“Hey, you got my Bible?”

“No, but we’ll try to help you find it …”

This was definitely a mission from God, so I hurried to the nearest dollar store to find a Bible to tide him over until I could get a nicer one from a bookstore. For any other laundry emergency, I bought two copies and inscribed them to Pepaw from Monica.

After leaving them at the residence for him and on the drive home, I understood why Pepaw was not happy with God. I remembered several things he had said since we started caring for him in late April last year. I recalled his pained expression when he talked about not being able to sleep and having to walk to “kill time.”

It’s not the eight hours a night he’s talking about. He’s cognizant enough to know what this damned Alzheimer’s is doing to him, destroying him bit by bit.

“You ain’t got much choice.” His words this day made even more sense.

Pepaw wants eternal sleep, and he’s frantically walking his way there.

And I couldn’t blame him. Tears momentarily fogged my vision.

“I pray to God to put me to sleep … Where’s my Bible?”

Please, God, help Pepaw find all the passages he seeks.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pepaw's not happy with God - part 1

Pepaw is not happy with God right now.

Last week was my dad-in-law’s regular check-up with the doctor who had prescribed the meds to keep him calm. We had to move him into a secure facility last fall to protect him and others when his Alzheimer’s turned him into a very unhappy, unpredictable and angry man. Thanks to the meds, he has been doing much better and is his usual lovable and smooth-talking self again.

The staff at the Alzheimer’s facility had him ready to go when I arrived. I greeted him with a big smile as usual. I had learned not to give him an immediate hug because I didn’t want to scare him, just in case he didn’t remember who I was.

(He doesn’t remember or understand that I’m his daughter-in-law. I’m just some gal who travels with his son. Hmm, that is far more fascinating than a D-I-L …)

Escorting him to my car parked out front, I fastened his seatbelt because he’d been unsure what to do with it in recent months.

“What do you think of all this snow?” I asked him during the short distance to the doctor’s office. “You haven’t seen any for a while, have you?”

“No, not very much.” His voice was low. Did he remember that he hadn’t experienced a northern winter for nearly 20 years? Did he simply wonder where the heck he was?

“Look at the birds,” he said, pointing to the sky, overflowing with winged creatures that hadn’t taken a winter vacation.

“Yes, there are lots of them who put up with the cold weather.” I was just so excited that he had spoken up about something, anything!

“I can’t find my Bible.”

Yay! Another statement!

As I pulled into a parking place, I asked, “You had your Bible in your pocket?”

“I had my Bible someplace. But I can’t find it now. I don’t know where it’s at. I must have left it at home. When I went to bed, I must have left it. It must have come out of my pocket in the bed. It’s the only thing I can figure.”

“We’ll make sure you find it,” I reassure him as we exit the car.

“It has to be that way. I usually have it in my pocket.”

“I know.”

“It could be in my shirt pocket, but it’s not there.” He looked down his front. “It must have come out when I was in the bed.”

“We’re going to look for it when we get back. You’ve got to have that.”

I ushered him to a seat as I checked in with the receptionist.

“The doctor’s gonna examine me?” Pepaw asked.



“Maybe he’ll give me some kind of pill to cure different things.”

“Yep. You feeling okay?”

“It’s sure cold outside.” He said his hunting coat would be a lot warmer. I should have known the thermal sweatshirt wouldn’t be enough, but I was rushed. My fault.

“We gotta wait on the doctor to get here?”

“Yep.” I wonder how many times he’ll ask this time. I thought the last doctor’s visit was a marathon …

I showed him a couple of magazines. He studied the covers. Guess there was nothing of interest to him. That’s okay. Nothing interested me either.

“The doctor’s taking a long time to get here, ain’t he?”

“Yep, it’s always hurry up and wait.”

Two or three minutes passed.

“I don’t want to sit here for an hour,” he said.

“Let’s give her a few more minutes.”

“I’m ready to go. Are you?” He started to lean forward.

I rested my hand on his arm as I quietly repeated, “Let’s give her a few more minutes.”

Pepaw was speaking at full volume in the waiting room. There were several people grinning at us. I nodded and smiled in return.

“I’m ready to go. Are you?” He was in repeat mode.

“Did you get a haircut?” I point to his baseball cap. “Looks nice.”


Good. Distraction still works well … for a few minutes.

“I’m ready to go. Are you?”

“How about we —”

Continued tomorrow.