Sunday, April 20, 2008

guilt trips --- whose problem is it?

Another week gone, and I’m not sure where it went. I’ve learned a bit about computer hardware, am crossing my fingers that my laptop survives until I get back to Groveland, and am still struggling with the taking-care-of-the-caretaker conflict.

We found a note on the breakfast table this morning in my father’s shaky hand: “No breakfast for me today. I’m ILL.” He’s having another bout of constipation which he treats with generous portions of Milk of Magnesia and lots of time in bed. He doesn’t stray far from the toilet, either. Mother copes by ignoring him.

On Friday Daddy started out for a destination near the airport, on the other side of Honolulu. He got as far as Sears, at the Ala Moana Center on our side of Honolulu. Yes, he was driving his UNSAFE car, just as he told his doctor he would if the car were in the garage and he wanted to go somewhere. This time, he apparently got onto a hill and the car would not stop. It scared him enough that he turned around and came home, announcing that he didn’t think he would try that again. Further, the corner gas station has installed a new credit card system at their gas pumps, and he cannot figure out how to work them! No one is going to help him learn. This should just reinforce his need to give up driving.

Mother is having some health bouts of her own. She gets a sharp, stabbing pain in one hear – the one with the hearing aid. An ear doctor, whom she doesn’t like, told her it was a jaw problem – TMJ, or a glitch in the connection between the jaw and the skull. She says it doesn’t make sense that a jaw problem should cause this kind of pain in her ear. I believe this is the third time this had happened since I have been here. On Friday her arthritis got the better of her, and she was having enough difficulty walking that she accepted my offer to prepare dinner. Has anybody had any experience with stabbing ear pain or TMJ issues?

I have to keep reminding myself of the mantra, “Assign the problem where it belongs. If it is not your problem, let it go.” Definition of your problem? One where you have control over the outcome. If you can’t change the outcome, it’s NOT YOUR PROBLEM. I can’t change my parents’ relationship. I can’t change whether or not my father will drive – he will drive without license plates, safety sticker, or drivers’ license unless HE decides to quit. I cannot make my mother more communicative. So I cannot feel guilty about leaving. I just have to take care of myself for right now. And keep reminding myself, “Not your problem.” Taking care of my house IS my problem!

Look for the positives. Give thanks. Keep praying!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Too Long ... and not long enough

I have been telling myself for several days, "It is time to post again!" but grab the computer and get distracted. This week's distraction was the birthday. After years of hints, this was the one that finally says "You are REALLY a senior citizen."

We -- my parents, brother and sister-in-law -- enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Reef Hotel smack on Waikiki Beach. I sat next to the outside "wall". This is one of those low walls that in another setting might mark a walkway. This one has a track in it, so they can close off the dining room to keep out intruders or bad weather. Most of the time it's like being on my covered deck in Groveland. If I had dropped something over the wall, it would have landed in the sand of Waikiki beach about 4' below. My view was of Diamond Head. From across the table, Meda looked out towards the harbor and the setting sun. Too bad the sky was too cloudy for one of those remarkable sunsets.

Last year the quote of the day was, "Happy birthday. Your car needs $1700 in repairs." This year the tune was only slightly more modest, but no less disconcerting. It came from the Groveland Community Services District. "Happy Birthday. Your house used 33,000 gallons of water last month." At least they called to share this bit of good news. Then Leda from the front desk added, "But the meter was not spinning when they read it, so it is not a continuous flow like a pipe break. Let us check and see if the meter is working correctly. I'll call you back." That was Thursday. I'm still waiting for the call-back.

I jumped on TheBus (Honolulu's mass transit system) yesterday morning and took a ride out to the other side of the City to collect one of those Senior Benefits to which I am now entitled: a Senior Bus Pass. Google Maps calculates the distance as 9 miles door-to-door by freeway, with a travel time of 9 minutes. Note that Google Maps does not understand Honolulu traffic. First, maximum freeway speed is 50 MPH. Average speed is something less, especially during commute hours when the freeway can turn into a real mainland-style parking 6-lane parking lot. So it probably takes more like 20 minutes with light traffic and no missed turns to get there by car. By bus? Google Maps says about 70 minutes. It took us more like 90 minutes. At the Kalihi Transit Center (TheBus Headquarters) you fill out a simple form, pay your $30, have your picture taken -- and, new photo ID card in hand -- ride the bus for free for the next 12 months. Last week this pass would have cost me $440. No, probably not. I probably would have been told by everyone in the office to come back AFTER my birthday! Hawaii works like that. The average service person pays attention to the client/customer and helps them get the best possible deal.

A bit of sad news. While on Hawaii in February, we visited my cousin Michael McPherson. He was looking forward to his 61st birthday later in the month, but commented that he was "prematurely makule" -- prematurely old. Yesterday emergency responders found his body after a call from a concerned friend. He apparently lay down for a nap a couple of days before -- and never woke up. Aloha, Michael. We will miss you.

Look for the good. Give thanks. Keep praying .....

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tunnels ... and lights

There is light at the end of the tunnel!

My father's car needed it's annual safety inspection. Yesterday he took it to the neighborhood service station, where the mechanics told him once they replace the master cylinder and the rear brakes (from the drums out and for a hefty price) they can tell him if the car can be certified safe. He said, "No thank you." and drove away.

He announced at lunch today that he was going to get a safety sticker on his car. Mother decided that was one of the funnier stories she had heard this week. Then she proceeded to tell me about the bootleg certificate he got a couple of years back. Immediately the images started racing through my head: my father in an automobile accident, maiming or killing some innocent person while driving a vehicle that we ALL know should not be on the road, followed by a lawsuit that wipes out everything they have accumulated over 94 years of living and nearly 70 years of marriage. When the Nissan pulled back into the driveway 2 hours later, all I could say was "Oh, s----."

He had gone to Midas, expecting them to make him a better deal than the neighborhood mechanic. The Midas Man showed him the worn out master brake cylinder and the completely destroyed rear brakes. He pointed out problems with the front wheels, and the transmission that is about to die. He commented on all the body rust, the doors that won't open, the exposed electrical system in the passenger area ... you get the idea. He said the car was not worth putting any money into and is certainly not safe to drive as it is. It has no resale value except as parts.

On the computer I found that Hertz in Honolulu has a front-wheel drive (not 4x) Ford Escape in their current resale inventory, printed it out and gave it to my dad with the comment that if I were going to buy something, that vehicle would be a strong candidate. He responded that he really had better start using a taxi, he really would have a problem learning to drive a new car, and that he really doesn't see well enough to be driving. This is a huge admission for someone who values his independence.

Give thanks! Keep praying ....!!