Today is National Waffle Day. Perfect.
Can’t believe it’s been a year since I last posted.
The problem is, I wasn’t able to write anything down.
Not because nothing happened.
Much has happened. I have much to tell.
Simply put, I lost my sense of humor for a time, inconceivable, much like Peter Pan losing his shadow.
I’ve decided the best way to get unstuck is to pick up from exactly where we left off.
This is the story I had planned on posting, right after we had returned from Costa Rica. It was a flashback story but now it’s really a look back. I want to give you a little more background on our family situation. This is how it was…
BLENDED – August 2016
Mine is a blended family. Not unlike the blending of different ingredients to make a perfect batter, I am blending different personalities to make a perfect home, but this one is a bit lumpy.
I first heard about this social revolution on the Nightly News; then there were books, articles, studies all written about it; why there is even a catchy name like “Baby Boomers” to describe it and now I was going to be living it. I am officially part of the
By definition: people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.
And I’m not alone. 1 out of every 6 families are living in a Yellow Submarine.
In my case it all started when I was faced with the “what to do with Mom” problem. My mother’s finances were dwindling more rapidly than her mind. She has suffered with Alzheimer’s for years. She has a Filipino caretaker Whendii to tend to the daily needs but it really wasn’t enough.
Do we place Mom in a home, the simple, logical, common, expensive solution that would drain all bank accounts? Or do we spend more quality time together with whatever quality time is left?
And, the truth was I was running myself ragged taking her here and them there. Between driving to her doctor’s appointments and their soccer practices I barely had time for anything else.
At the same time, I was faced with another harsh reality that we were out growing our house.
That’s when I had an epiphany. I’ll move our family into her bigger house.
But like all great epiphanies I was going to have to sell the idea, starting with my husband.
“Benjie, I’ve been thinking, I’m just going to say it. What if we move into Mom’s house?”
“What about your Mom?” he asked.
“We’ll all live together.”
“All of us? Together?”
“Exactly, like in Frank Capra’s, You Can’t Take It With You? You can be Jimmy Stewart.”
I must admit the Jimmy Stewart reference was brilliant.
At first he looked puzzled, then after mulling it over, “I think it’s a great idea! It’s got a huge back yard, a pool with a diving board, the twins will not have to share a room any more. I’ve always loved that house, even though it’s very run down. But are you sure you want to sell this house, your dream house and move in with your mother? At your age? Move back home?”
It sounded a lot worse when he said it that way.
The next step was to convince my delusional mother.
“So, Mom, how would you like it if we all lived together?”
“Here, in this house.”
“That’s interesting. Where, in this house?”
“Mom, there is plenty of rooms upstairs.”
“But I sleep upstairs. I have my office upstairs.”
Mmm. I wasn’t prepared to remind her that it’s been years, she has been upstairs.
“Here? Here.” She said it over and over. I understood. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around it, and my mind still has some elasticity.
“Mom, I’m moving back home with my family.”
Mom’s eyes lit up as if she finally understood. “You mean like when you tried to be a professional photographer and couldn’t make it on your own so you had to move back home?”
“Sort of.” I sighed.
“Or when you broke up with that boy, and had to move back home again because you had no place to go.”
“How about that time…”
“It’s different now Mom! I’m a grown-up!” I grimaced.
The thing I’m learning about dementia is that it’s not total memory loss, but more of a selective memory. Like my husband’s, it comes and goes at will.
Eventually she got it. “We can all take care of each other.”
Whendii cried, “You are my hero!”
Great this from a woman whose county’s most famous hero was First Lady Imelda Marcus.
This moving was going to be a shoe-in! Besides if we were all under one roof my life would be so much easier.
Although… I hadn’t lived with my mother for decades, with the added bonus of never even having had a house keeper much less someone not related living with us all the time. But I was determined to make it work. Here we were all seven of us just like the Brady Bunch living under one roof. Oh how I would love to have an “Alice” of my own.
I’m embarrassed to say that up until now I had never met anyone from the Philippines and with that came an unexpected learning curve. Whendii is the kindest, gentlest person I’ve ever known but she’s no “Alice” more like Ariel, The Little Mermaid.
Ariel asked holding up a fork, “Scuttle what is this? The seagull replied, “It’s a dinglehopper. Humans use these little babies to straighten their hair out.
As much as I would be a fish out of water in the Philippines many things for Whendii seemed fishy.
For the record…common sense is not as common as you might think.
My first clue happened one morning when I walked in on her in the kitchen.
“Whendii?” I asked, “do you think using the floor mop to wash the windows from 6 feet away is a good plan?”
“Yes, I won’t get my hands wet.” She answered.
I nodded, “if you think so.”
“Whendii,” I smiled “I love how the kitchen counters are so clear.”
“Yes its better if the clutter isn’t seen.”
“But, the, the cupboards, it’s a little precarious.”
“If you think so…” she parroted me.
Whendii mended our blankets and sweater by using a cut up kitchen dish towels as patches and whatever thread was handy. How very Maria von Trapp of her.
And when the weather changed to winter she loved to make stews for us.
“Whendii what is that unusually flavor? I asked one night.
“I put that new herb you bought in the plastic bag.”
“What new herb?”
“Here is this bag.”
“Mistletoe! Isn’t mistletoe poisonous?”
“If you think so.”
“Who wants pizza?”
I was feeling duped.
But it was on this one particular afternoon…
“Ma’am? “There is something very wrong with the clothes washing soap. It does not smell very good. Very bad, very bad.”
“Ok, but I sure it’s fine. I probably just forget to buy the TIDE with the Fabreze added. That’s what makes it smell good.”
“Ok but, we were out I told you and…”
Oh right, that’s what I forgot at the market.
Suddenly Bullet, our big Labrador, started chewing on my mother’s pant leg like a giant bacon flavored chew bone.
“Oh my God!” I screamed trying everything I had to pull him off of her.
“Get this dog off of me!” My mother yelped.
How do dogs instinctively always know to chew on the people who hate dogs?
“Whose dog is this anyway?” she barked.
“It’s your dog.” I lied.
“No, it’s not. I would never have a dog in my house.”
Apparently she wasn’t as crazy as I thought.
Finally, I was able to pull him off still licking his chops. “What’s gotten into you? Naughty dog!”
“Please Ma’am check this soap I’ve already washed with it, and I’d like to finish up.”
“Fine, fine, fine.”
There was something wrong, she was right about that. The closer I walked to the washing machine the viler the smell became.
“Let me see that TIDE.”
I grabbed the large orange jug of TIDE and poured some into the small plastic cup.
Glob. Glob. Glob.
It barely slugged out. “Where did you get this?” I asked.
“Under the kitchen sink. We were out so I found a new bottle under the sink.” She was so proud of her resourcefulness.
One sniff and I knew. “It’s bacon grease, old, moldy bacon grease. It’s the container my mother used to collect bacon grease so it wouldn’t clog the drain. How many loads have you done?”
“Almost all doneWe now really need to buy more with Fabreze.”
“I’ll call the plumber to clean out my new
front loading machine.”
Out of the sea, wish she could be, part of our world
Oh look Whendii sewed my shadow back on!
Always Live with Waffletude