Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fuck You Alzheimers...Fuck You. A Love Story

This is a love story.

Of our best friends, the wife has early onset Alzheimers. She’s had it since her mid 50’s. She’s 61 now. And every single day, she is leaving us a little bit more. Well, a lot more.

I’ll call her Daisy, it’s not her name, but I feel protective of her. Daisy and her husband were our neighbors for many years. His name is Dennis. That is his real name. I think he is a tough guy, so I’m not afraid to use his real name.

Though they are older than we are, with grown kids, we started having a relationship of geography. (Hey, we just happened to see each other ALL the time. We lived on a dirt road and The Husband had a tractor. We had needs, you know how that goes… except instead of asking to borrow a power tool, we would ask him to get on his tractor and smooth out our driveways). That relationship grew into a friendship, and now, they are our family.

We always thought Daisy was a little “dingy”. Sweet, fun, beautiful and well…just dingy. Going over to their house for dinner was an experience in hunger, patience and manic-ness and she ran from the table to the kitchen and back, cuz she couldn’t remember what she needed. You know . . . ditzy.

But the ditziness got worse, and all of a sudden it wasn’t a charming personality quirk. After trips to the neurologist and those horrible tests where she was asked to count backwards from 100 by 7’s (hey try it . . . see if it doesn’t scare the shit out of you) the diagnosis came back: Early Onset Alzheimers.

There was shock and crying and grief. But then the worst of that passes and there is just settling into the New Normal.

You know, where you can’t have a real conversation with her anymore.

Where Dennis has lost his partner/soulmate/best friend of 20 years.

But in the beginning of this, man, Daisy was pissed. She hated the doctor for asking her questions she couldn’t answer and she hated us and her husband for talking “behind her back”.

And she felt so insulted by the diagnosis. She used to say, when she stumbled about something: I’m not a nit wit you know. I’m not a nutter. (She’s English, you know…)

“No Lovey, we don’t think that. You just have a little condition about remembering.”

Those feisty years are coming to an end. Now Daisy is so delightful. Everything makes her laugh.

My kids understand that in a restaurant when she says: I’ll take the girls to the Restroom, that THEY are the ones taking her.

We all pitch in to help her do her belt, or get her shoes on or keep her pesky zipper zipped UP.

If we tell my daughters that Daisy may not come visit us this weekend, they shout out, BUT WE CAN TAKE CARE OF HER. WE WANT OUR DAISY.

She gets lost trying to find the bathroom in her own house.

She and Dennis have some weddings and fancy events to go to this year. Dennis handed me a bag with the junkiest, most overwhelming, TON of makeup and said: Can you help me figure this out?

I told him to give me the credit card and I’d be right back. (Hey they’re our best friends. Why shouldn’t I speak to him just like I speak to my own husband.)

I went to Target and bought a few simple things. Then I labeled each brush and each compact. Then I made a list. Then I took photos.

Then I gave Dennis lessons.

It is a good thing Daisy is tough, cuz Dennis is a former Marine, do it yourself Home Remodeler, and man’s man. That was some harsh eye shadow application there, Dude!

But you know what? Daisy looked pretty. She looks better with some eyebrow and a little color.

Daisy is leaving us. And she’s not just leaving us and our kids. She’s leaving her daughters and her grandkids and most painfully, she’s leaving her husband.

You know, before Alzheimer’s had her, Daisy was never an “I love you” girl. But she is now.

And cuz she can’t remember anything, she tells me she loves me over and over and over. I kinda love that part. Cuz I love her too. And now I can say it as much as I want. (And no one questions whether or not I have been drinking too much.)

Every day Dennis and Daisy set out to have a good day. And every day I miss her. Every day I think: Fuck You Alzheimers.

I love you too, Daisy. I love you too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Science Camp!!!!! a.k.a. Or another way to kill Mothers

Last week was Science Camp for the 5th Graders or as we called it at my house: Mommy Melt-Down Week.

Dear God, it’s only Science Camp, right? Did it really require 17 “orientation” meetings? And did I mention the ridiculousLY extensive multi-store shopping requiring two full pages of check lists? Then the packing, labeling with sharpies (although I must say, I do love a chance to use a Sharpie), sealing of the hefty bags, etc, etc, etc, etc #etc?

Let me tell you, it was stressful because my 10 year old and my 7 year old have NEVER been away from each other. So the night before, of course there was melt down. Blondie’s not mine (for once).

Blondie, is a soft, gentle, shy kid with a really big heart and a passion for math and science. Otherwise, she would have stayed home, curled in the warm softness of the maternal bosom.

Except this kid REALLY (and oddly) loves Science.

So there we are the night before with Blondie out of her mind with a full blown anxiety attack -- her little face was all crumpled with sobbing, while she was clinging to me, wailing . . . “I really want to go but I can’t be away from my family.”

So there was lots of cheerleading (Ah no . . . there was no cute outfit, rather a very old nightie from JC Pennys) with pom poms (okay, there were no pom poms either, but I do have big boobs) and she finally got to sleep at 11:00 p.m., her little body shuddering with the exhaustive sobs.

And the next morning not only was she up, but she was packed and waiting at the door a full hour before we needed to leave the house. (God, if only she had the same attitude about picking up her crap that she had about being on time.)

Massive excitement at the school, me with the video cam, sleeping bags and pillows everywhere.

In the background of course was me begging the 5th grade teachers and authorities in charge to PLEASE take the 7 year old also, I would donate LOTS of money, but sadly, they just kept shaking their heads “no”.

Lots of hugs and kisses and “I love you’s” then the buses pulled out the parking lot.

Whoo Hoo!!! Whoo Hoo!!!

I just knew this marked a huge shift in our family.

This was a milestone event that was going to move us to a greater level of independence. For all of us. #damnit

Cuz the Little Sis was going to have to learn to sleep without her Big Sis in the top bunk. And Blondie was going to have to learn to sleep without LiL Sis in the bottom bunk.

And it was all going to be good, good, good.

Turned it was weird, weird, weird.

Cuz there was no contact. No cell phones, no phone calls.

So I worried. And I thought about her. And I was excited for her. And I missed her. And I had this weird feeling in my stomach that I’ve NEVER had before . . . I hurt with longing.

By Thursday, when I wanted to call the camp my husband said: Don’t be THAT Mom. (Really? Cuz, ah, I totally AM that Mom.) But I resisted.

So that night I started counting the hours until I could see her. And when I woke up at 6 am on Friday morning, my first thought was: 7 more hours. And I counted down.

I too was at the school an hour early. (It must be a familial trait, this obsession with earliness.)

When those kids came off the bus, I was so excited. (And slightly overwhelmed by the odor, but that’s another blog . . . you know, one called: My Smelly Tween.)

There was my little, red-faced, sweaty Blondie in my arms, hugging me hard.

And I was happy. And I was whole.

And I swore I would never yell at my kids or wish they were grown up and out of the house ever again.

I would treasure every moment we had together.

Ya, that lasted about a whole effing hour.

“Hello SleepAway Camp? Do you take 7 year olds? I’ll pay an “upcharge” . . .”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

#Bloggy Boot Camp - The Vlog!

Besides buying 120 bottles of vodka and Cheetos for Bloggy Boot Camp (you know, bribes to make people like me), I also ran out and bought a Flip Camera. And paid someone (no seriously, you don’t know what a techno-loser I am) to teach me how to use it.

So there I was at Bloggy in Phoenix with my new camera and no skill set. Which apparently isn’t the deterrent it should be! Then I saw that gorgeous @SugarJones and the hot, hot, hot @KadiPrescott do their presentation on Vlogging and thought: I can NEVER do this. But I did anyway.

Here’s my first Vlog.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bloggy Boot Camp Rocks!

I am loving this Bloggy Boot Camp Shit. I don’t know if it’s the great women, or Tiffany’s amazing hair, or Heather’s sweet warmth, or maybe, the three cosmos the first night, but this has been a fucking blast.

Yes, there was the kinda scary part on the plane. You know, the part where they make you TURN OFF THE PHONE, the only source of possibly, final communications from me to the world.

OK, followed by the part where they said it’s going to be a bumpy flight and I unsnapped my seat belt to get the ativan out. (And yes, I just dry-chewed that baby.)

But I had back up: my Sweet Friend @CraftyCMC and my new GF @Mommyisdating. We were half-way to a posse, Baby.

And then that weird moment, going to the cocktail party and not quite knowing where to go or who to talk to. But you know, slap a nametag on me and it turns out, I’m good to go.

The best part? People had cameras! And I ‘m in their pictures Baby (Whether I was invited or not.)

And that fact that I had to worm myself into the group pictures? Not really an issue for me, cuz, you know, I’m Out There!

Some of the sessions on Saturday changed my life! The hilarity about Vlogging made me want to be Sugar and Kadi, well, more Sugar. Except Kadi Darlin’, now I need a Sponsor for panti-liners, cuz when an Older Mom says “I peed my pants laughing . . .”)

Loved that Spunky and Sassy AmyBHole and her Branding talk. Loved it more when she said she’d take a look at my press kit. Amy, the minute I talk with you, that puppy will be up on my website.

And Lorelie Looney Tunes! Dude – you made me cry and I wanted to run over all the rows of tables in front of me and just clutch you to my bosom. My, ah, ample bosom. (Now THAT is an earlier Blog Post.) I love you. And your big old heart.

And now, can we discuss the massive amount of undereye concealer that I need! And I didn’t even stay up late enough to jump in the pool. (I hate that – I so would have been there. But not in my clothes. I would have been naked – made my gay neighbors proud.)

Was I out there? On a scale of 1 to 10 Baby, I’m calling it a 10. (That could have the Cosmos last night.)