Lost Archive

I wish my dad was the way he was just a few years ago. In a short time of assisted living, he has put on weight and has become far less active. It was not an ideal choice, but after a health scare a couple of years ago, we thought this was the best place for him. When Vivien was younger, she was always game about visiting him. And the entire of the population of the place lights up when little kids or babies come to call.

But as she has gotten older, sometimes she doesn’t want to go. I understand it. I remember being a tad freaked by some of the people who lived with my grandma near the end of her life, and I was teenager. But my dad is with it and a visit from us really brightens his day.

My strategy is to act like it’s nothing at all to go to a place with lots of old people, some of whom are out of their tree. I always act like it’s the same as visiting any friend; this will be fun. Fortunately they have cookies and two fountains. And now I have a new helper: my dad’s typewriter.

Sure, I remember learning to type on a machine very similar to this one when I was in high school, but to Vivien, it’s an exciting and wondrous discovery: a machine that she can create letters with. And as she is now learning letters, it keeps her occupied. She had never seen a typewriter before. It helps her be engaged a bit with my dad’s environment instead of it being a chore to visit him, a feeling I am trying to keep at bay.

It’s probably how I felt when I saw my Georgia grandma’s sewing machine with a foot peddle. Necessities of one generations are a toy to the next. Her home seemed a tad exciting.  But the ice tea and fried chicken were also a draw.

Sandwich Generation Part 206

One of those things that 22-year-old moms are less likely to face: do you take your baby when visiting your parent in assisted living? My father is still mentally with it but needs help, so a couple of years ago we decided it was best for him to be in assisted living. Many are grim or super expensive. The one we found that hit the sweet spot of human decency is about 20 miles from me.

I use to try to see him every week, but since Rex (well, since towards the end of the real uncomfortable part of pregnancy) my goal is more like every two weeks. So, here is one of the issues, do I take my kids or not? Up until recently Vivien was fine with visiting a-little- too- leisure- village.  But lately when I say “Do you want to see Papa?”  “No” is usually the answer. I don’t blame her since many of the people there are pretty out of it.  But when she would visit, it was like a light switch had gone off in their brains.

“Oh, a life force!” She used to sit on the laps of people in wheelchairs without a thought. Now, she has thoughts, and it’s “I would rather go to the park.”

Okay, so Rex and I could go when she is in school. (Timing the traffic is very important in LA) But like young Viv, Rex HATES the car. But my dad LOVES seeing his little grandson… not to mention how happy the other old folks get at seeing a young child.

Am I willing to cause my offspring discomfort to bring a few moments of joy to some infirmed oldies? Yes, sometimes I am. And sometimes there is no choice.

Today was that day. Rex, asleep in his car seat, and I went to visit my dad. I used to take my dad out more, but now that I once again have a stroller in my trunk, it’s pretty tough to get my dad’s walker in there as well.

My dad’s room faces a garden patio, which was a big selling point for us when we placed him there. We sat on the patio, and the folks who are with it cooed at Rex and rubbed his toes. The ones I call “pre-chew Charlies” didn’t seem to know whether Rex was there or a meteor had landed next to them.

When I allowed one sweet older gal to rub Rex’s toes, my dad came charging over with a enraged look on his face. When we walked away he said, “I was afraid you were going to let that lady hold him.” I couldn’t say to him, no, dad, but I did want to throw a little joy in the ladies day and let her touch the yummy baby skin.

To another lady, who is not too together anymore, who was reaching for Rex, my normally social, ladies man dad said, “He doesn’t have time for you.”

He liked introducing Rex to the staff. I think assisted living is like high school or college, but the status is a little different. In this world, it’s not new sneakers or a car but warm, soft skinned people who belong to you and who come to visit you.

Rex fell asleep on the way home, but as we got closer he woke up and cried and cried. I felt bad putting him though it, and I told him he made a lot of people happy today… that is if they remember it.

Commencement

My daughter is about to graduate from her first year of pre-school, and since I won’t be asked to make a speech after they sing their songs, I thought I would do it here. Well, this speech isn’t for pre schoolers, but the parents and grandparents who are trying to navigate this kooky time we are in. Note: the picture is of the flowers on our mantle when we were married ( in our living room).

The NY Times reported Wednesday that the SEC has officially barred Bernie Madoff from working in the securities industry. Now, are they sure they aren’t rushing into this?

Granted he was arrested Dec. 11th 2008 for operating the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of the US, probably the world, but are they sure?  This kind of news piece gives bureaucracies their bad name for being large bloated, ineffective piles of doo.  And not just the SEC which was suppose to look out for Madoff’s to begin with.  oops, missed that one.

I don’t know if you feel like I do-since I’m a VOB ( victim of Bernie), but I feel a bit stymied about what to do with the savings I still possess and what to do with money that I hope will be coming my way one day.

Real estate, hmm, I own a money pit investment property.

Stocks… what would you buy?  One has to be super sharp for that and watch it minute by minute.  Index funds, we all lost on those.

Bonds… should it still be 30% of your portfolio?

Muni bonds, conservative, but not FDIC insured.

Okay, then savings account, but the interest is so low it doesn’t add up to the time and value of money.

Which also can cancel out..

The mattress.

Diversification!  Ah, how much, where?

I have one friend who uses a financial manager, but they take 5% of your gross.  One would have to make some decent change to part with that.  And don’t we sometimes read about those guys being small time Madoff’s ? Not only for bloated rock stars.

My dad said to me recently “people don’t realize how hard it is to manage wealth.”  Which is why I think he will get the last laugh since he had a county job for over 30 years. He retired with a 110% pension plus medical.  He never owned a yacht, but he won’t be eating cat food in his golden years.  In fact he eats too much.

Like so many things in the entertainment business people’s success is partly about luck.

There was an interview with Clarence Otis jr, CEO of Darden restaurants ( they own Olive Garden, Red lobster) in NY times business page the other week.  He was asked about career advice.  He said,'”..it’s not about planning it. Things are too dynamic;there’s too much going; there are too many things that’ll pop up, good and bad.” “…it’s about preparation and building skills. and if you do that, then you’ll recover  from  the mishaps, and you be able to take advantage of the opportunities.”

This line spoke to me with what my family is going through now and I thought it might hit for some of you.  I thought we were set.  I had planned to live in our home for 30 years.  But, fortunately, my husband and I are still prepared to work and have skills.  So true about things being “dynamic”.  Think how quickly technology has changed?  If someone told me a couple years ago I’d be blogging I would have thought they were talking about flogging with lisp. And I was never into S and M so I would have been confused.

So, the moral of the story is, we can’t over plan.  That’s why when we camp our car is packed to the rafters, cause you never know. And call me a militia men, but don’t count on someone else to police where your funds are.  It’s not like we live in a failed state, but as my hero Frank Sinatra use to say:

Be Aware, Always Be Aware.

Verbal Elder Abuse

Here’s a great piece I found in Tuesday’s New York Times about how damaging it can be to the elderly to be spoken down to by health care professionals. Now, I think health workers have a rough, tough job. But this is a pet peeve of mine from my own dad’s hospitalization.

My Parents on My Wedding Day

My Parents on My Wedding Day

It’s bad enough that the hospital workers, nurses, doctors, etc., yell at him when they speak. My dad has some problems, but his hearing is perfect, and I see my father recoiling. The demeaning language has consequences, and I’m glad to see it written about with some credibility.

I have my own anecdotes regarding poor behavior. A few years ago, my dad was in the hospital because he had gotten dizzy and a friend took him to the ER. Mistake number one. It is better to stay out of the hospital.

The staff at this particular hospital were not even on duty when I found my dad strapped to the hospital bed after a night or two of being there, his eyes wide-open and fearful. I said, “What the hell is going on?” The nurse said, “We had to strap your dad down. He is a bad boy.” I complained to the head nurse, who said, “Well, we had to – he was a bad boy.” The nurses used the term “bad boy” so many times I wanted to bitch-slap them.

Long story short, he wanted to leave, would get up, and they’d yell “bad boy” at him, which made him only more determined to leave. I complained to the doctor. I said they had given him medicine that was harming him, as was the treatment. The doctor didn’t think so. They gave medicine to him to “control” him. “He’s only calm if your family members are here.” So I said, “Then we aren’t leaving him.” My sister and I were present, took off the straps and called my mom and our other sister. I said that we had to stand watch and guard him while whatever they gave him passed.

And so we did (my dear mom taking the overnight shift). Within 24 hours, he was 100 percent back to his normal self. He didn’t need to be drugged or to be there at all – no one wants to be treated like a misbehaving child. This is especially true when that person is an older adult, frightened about where they are.

After that experience, we learned that if he goes into the hospital one of us has to go with him. Maybe we do not have to be there 24/7, but checking in as frequently as possible.

I’m going to be checking my own “sweetie” remarks today.

Lollipop Tree

Here’s a mommy dilemma: when do you crash your kid’s sweet imagination, and when do you let it ride? Vivien has really enjoyed gardening with her dad. We have tomatoes, strawberries, herbs and lemons. When we planted the lemon trees, it gave Viv an idea of another kind of tree she wants.

I’m thinking of how to rig it…

Be Nice to Daddy!

Oh, poor dad, he doesn’t get the fête mom does. I asked Mark what he wanted for Father’s Day and he said he didn’t know. I said, “Well, we could make a big fuss for you like I got for Mother’s day.” He turned and glowered, since he knows he did NOTHING for me for Mother’s Day. He’s not good with stuff like that, but is a great dad, otherwise. Fine with me – it lets me off the hook!

It seems like moms often are the conduit of communication between dad’s needs and children’s needs. Here is one example.