Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pay it Forward

It's the last day of February.  It's been four lonely years for my cousin and his children since his wife and their mother passed.  It's a difficult day, but important that in our own sense of loss we focus on the good times shared. Remind me of that on Wednesday, when I face my own day of remembering.

So today remember Judy.  Or someone you love who has passed out of your life.  Give thanks for their life.  Give thanks for the time you shared.  Reach out.  In memory of that person you love so deeply, touch another life. Pay it forward.  In memory of ....

Don't forget to pray.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Not-So-Small Victory

With her 96th birthday a 3 scant months away, my mother is clearly wearing out.  Any task that requires walking even a block is nearly impossible.  The current attack, gout, leaves her unable to even put a shoe on her left foot.  Walk?  6', maybe, and that's only since the pain has begun to diminish after more than 2 weeks of agony.  But her mind and spirit are still strong, and I know she doesn't appreciate being a prisoner in this little house for weeks on end.   She misses her kitchen, misses working in her garden, misses shopping, thrift shopping, exploring the mall or the Art Academy or some other gallery or museum.

I have been pushing for a wheel chair, using the argument that it doesn't make sense to me not to use one when there are places she would love to go and someone ready and willing to push.  Pride has gotten in her way.

Yesterday she gave in and paid a visit to her doctor, who immediately prescribed a gout medication and ordered a diagnosis confirming blood test.  We borrowed a wheel chair from the Medical Group to get from the car up to the 4th floor and back.

Today she announced, "I still haven't made a decision, but if I don't think this pain is ever going to go away completely, I think we should go and buy a ...."  She made a pushing motion.

"A walker with a seat?"  I asked.  Then it dawned on me.  "Oh, a wheel chair!"  She grinned sheepishly.

She was pleased that is is possible to purchase a slightly used wheel chair, one that has been used briefly as a rental.  She was willing to consider my preferences for something light that I can comfortable get into and out of the trunk of the car.  She didn't complain that I had obviously talked to the folks at my favorite medical supply house about a chair -- without talking to her.

"But we'll decide next week."  She repeated.

Give thanks for those who are willing to put necessity before pride.  Allow them the dignity they deserve.
Don't forget to pray ....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Partially Built

Ray and I bought our share of those furniture pieces that come in a box and are assembled once you get home.  The assembly task was usually mine, with extra hands from Ray when necessary.  The only piece that completely defeated me was the barbecue.  Thank goodness Larry showed up from Sacramento to become that day's Knight in Shining Armor.

I've been thinking for a year about something to put at the end of my dad's bed that could hold pretty things for him to look at -- flowers, Easter bunny, Christmas Tree.  He has a bedside table, but when he is in bed he has to turn his head to see it.  He doesn't do that very often.  Last week I trudged down to City Mill (the Orchard Supply of Honolulu) and found -- on sale -- the perfect item:  a narrow five-drawer chest, wood frame with rattan drawers that look like baskets sitting on shelves but actually work like drawers.  Just like at Orchard Supply, store staff load the box into your vehicle.

My plan was to assemble the whole piece at home, separate the drawers from the frame, load the car, and carry the separate parts from the parking lot upstairs to the 3rd floor of Oahu Care Facility.  But I was warned by the salesman:  these pieces are not particularly stable.  A road trip across the city will negatively impact structural integrity.

Once at home, I recognized that I was facing one of those situations this blog is all about.  Always before I've had someone -- and a furniture dolly --  to unload the car and get the box to its assembly point.  In Groveland, I have multiple power screw drivers.  Not so in Honolulu.

Where to work?  How to get the large box (which I cannot lift myself) from the car?  A painters drop cloth and a bath sheet sized towel on the floor of the carport made an acceptable work surface.  My mother's small tool box produced a pair of phillips screw drivers.  Open box in car, remove and assemble the basket parts, leave two sides (resembling a pair of small ladders), a top and four crossbars for assembly at Oahu Care.  Just unpacking and assembly of 5 baskets took the better part of 3 hours.  Manual screw drivers take a lot more work than the power variety!

The next trick was finding a parking spot at Oahu Care with enough room to open at least one car door wide enough to remove all the chest parts.  Ahhhh, there was one!  Didn't have to park in the center aisle.  Two baskets and clean laundry arrived at my dad's bedside.  Arriving with the second load, found the call light on at my dad's room.  He was trying to get out of bed to follow me downstairs.  Thank goodness for bed alarms!  One more trip and some help from one of the maintenance staff -- and all the parts were upstairs.  

Laying out a towel on the floor and putting the instructions on the end of my dad's bed, I proclaimed, "Gentlemen, your entertainment for the afternoon!"  Gotta make this light.  Those two men each know more about the assembly process than I do, and both were awake and alert.  OK.  Two sides.  Check.  Four crossbars.  Check.  No, wait, the crossbars are designated E, F and G.  Does that mean different bars for different places?  Sure enough.  E goes in the front.  But where is front?  Oh. Drawer stops are on the back right.  Which little ladder has the drawer stops?  That ladder becomes Right Side.  Check.  Peg crossbars into pukas in side pieces.  Bigger round thing into matching puka on crossbar.  Oh-oh.  It is supposed to connect to something.  It's that funny widget that looks like a cross between a screw and a molly bolt. This can't be right!  How do I get that piece which clearly has to go east-west through north-south opening?  

Sun-he (say soon-HEE), one of the CNA's arrived about that time, wondering what was being assembled.  Fortunately, her mechanical skills are better than mine.  "Take this off." she said, pulling out the pegged in crossbars.  "This one go here." she added, deftly fitting one of the funny widgets into the side piece, long end out.  "Now like this".  She plugged the crossbar back into place, the funny widget now extending through it's own puka in the crossbar and into the puka designated for that bigger round thing.  Round thing into puka, over funny widget.  Quarter turn with screw driver in round thing, and voila! Fastened.   "Now you do."  she declared, leaving.  I did.

Twenty minutes later the crossbars were in place, reinforcing angle brackets attached, and the top screwed to the base frame.  Drawers had been added, and the job was done.  My father was pleased.  I am pleased.  The CNA's will have to figure out where I hid my father's socks.

Give thanks for anyone who offers help today.  Be gracious enough to accept it -- with a smile!  Don't forget to pray ....

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's only Funny if you Understand the Joke

None of the CNA's in the care facility where my dad is resident are native English speakers.  Many are Filipino or Korean.  A few are Vietnamese.  Among the entire staff, there are only 3 haoles -- faces that would be familiar in most of the rest of America or Europe.   A few are what Ray used to describe as "a brick short of a full load".

My dad's habit is to take off whatever trousers he has been wearing when he gets into bed, sleeping in the equivalent of his underwear and a t-shirt.

When the CNAs want him to do something in a hurry, I'm learning that they tell him, "Mr. Lin', hurry, your daughter is coming!"

So the other day one of the CNA's was trying to get him back into bed.  He had other things on his mind.  Apparently, it was one of his better days, a day that he could follow a conversation and make some rational decisions on his own.

"Hurry, Meester Lin', take off your pants.  Get into bed.  Your daw-ter is coming."  the CNA urged.  She repeated herself.

"You should have seen his face!" said the nurse who was sharing the story with me.  "He stopped and looked at her.  Then, slowly, he said, 'You want me to take off my pants and get in bed -- because my daughter is coming?'"

"Yes, Meester Lin', take off your pants.  Your daughter is coming."  The poor woman missed altogether the totally inappropriate implied sexuality of her request.  My father didn't.

Give thanks that my dad can still appreciate the humor of a situation.  Give thanks for those who care for him, even though they might not recognize that humor.

Don't forget to pray ....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Broken Glasses

They were not broken, exactly.  Just disassembled.

Most of the time I wear contact lenses.  I don't wear them because of vanity.  I wear them so that I can find my feet on uneven terrain -- like stairs and hiking trails, hillsides and sidewalks and curbs.  I've never mastered the art of finding my feet through bifocals.

The contacts are "daily wear" -- meaning they are designed to be removed every night so that my eyes can rest and breathe and the lenses can be cleaned.  If I want to read in bed, I need glasses.  Ray chose the current pair, as he chose most of what I wore, so you know how long I have had them.  They are rimless, and extra-light-weight because most glasses leave horrid red dents on my nose after a couple of hours of wear.

Sometimes I fall asleep with the glasses still on my nose.  At least once a month with that kind of treatment, one of the lenses falls out.  One lens I can fix on my own.  This morning, both lenses were absent.  When the lenses are mirror images, how do you know which one goes where?  It was not until I couldn't make the second lens fit at all that I realized the first one was in the wrong place.  And while the lenses manage to find their own way out with great ease, they are not obliging about removing themselves on command.

The glasses and I paid a visit to the optometrist's office, where the technician and receptionist laughed with me, assured me that it wasn't just me, and in addition to putting the lenses in their proper places, provided the appropriate tool to replace absent lenses into wireless frames:  a small piece of ribbon to manipulate the "fishing line" that holds the bottom of the lens in place. The people in this office are at least as nice as the folks in the office in Sonora where I've been a patient for nearly 25 years.

Here's the restored glasses, and the handy new tool for putting them back together -- if you can separate frame from shadows in the photo.  Hint for future incidents:  the bifocal part goes next to the nose!      

Give thanks for friendly folk who are willing to help you untangle a mess in your life.  Give thanks that you can find them.  Don't forget to pray .....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sandi's Visit

Sandi, a former co-worker, dropped in for a couple of days between here and there.

She was looking for thrift shops, so we spent considerable time thrift shopping.  I bought more than she did.

Another stop was Bailey's Antiques and Aloha Shirts on Kapahulu Avenue.  I was astounded that shirts that I really don't like sell for several thousand dollars each.  Most of the shirts in the store are under $100, but many are several hundred dollars, and at least one is marked at $5000!  Sandi, who arrived in Hawaii aboard the Matsonia in May, 1946, was fascinated by the Matson shirt... but not fascinated enough to fork over $250 for it.

Then it was off to Savers, operated by the Big Brothers-Big Sisters organization.  It's big, but not really our cup of tea.

We spent yesterday afternoon at the Honolulu Zoo.  We both remember the huge tortoises, Galapagos Island tortoises.  We remember riding on them, or at least petting them, as small children.  My mother says SHE rode on them as a child, too.  We were distressed at the elephant enclosure, delighted that the elephants will soon have a new home.  The tigers are beautiful.  New lions are due this spring, as are several other animal pairs.  The giraffes were beautiful.  We could get up close and personal since it was feeding time.  Don't you just love their big eyes, soft-looking lips, and wonderful markings?

Thanks, Sandi, for taking the time to stop in Honolulu.

Give thanks for friends who take the time to spend time on you.  Reach out in friendship to someone else.  Don't forget to pray ....