Family Matters,  Life Lessons,  Moody Blues,  the sticks

Time Marches On


I’m out in the sticks for a few days and as usual there is something going on. Things are never boring around here. Let me qualify that: things are never boring around here for the adults. The kids have been bored out of their skulls but that’s another story. It’s not really drama that is going on, it’s just the typical chaos. Thus the name Camp Chaos which we changed to Camp Chaotic when we couldn’t get the URL for Camp Chaos.

How shall I explain this? How do I sum up my parents and brother in a quick paragraph?

Let’s just say that it is not uncommon for me to call my parents out of the blue and find out that situation A, that they spoke to me about last week in a desperate panic, has rapidly progressed all the way down the alphabet to situation Q. And usually the new situation (Q) is so much more of a panic than A, that they’ve already forgotten about the original panic from a week ago. Things just happen fast around here. The feeling of never knowing what is going on is probably the only constant.

I don’t know if you’ve kept up with the family drama of my brother moving out of my mom’s house and then back in and then back out and then back in. It’s not as bad as it sounds. My mom is often lonely with my Dad being gone a lot while he traverses the country as a trucker. Having my brother’s family live with her has its stresses but is also a great comfort.

Well, a few weeks back I called to chat about the regular stuff and I found out that my mom was moving out of her house and into my Grandpa’s small mobile home. My brother and his family are staying at her old house and paying the mortgage. Of course that’s the CliffsNotes version and there are a whole lot of other details but my big point of this post is to say that now my mom is moving into my Grandpa’s house. My Grandpa is moving into a rest home.

Have no fear. This post is not about my poor Grandpa getting weak and feeble and being forced to live in a home where they feed him mushy peas. Far from that. He moved into a place called “Camelot” that is not unlike what it sounds. Imagine Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland crossed with cruise-ship living except it’s not pink and you don’t get seasick. He lives in a castle with grand staircases and turrets. There are even swords hung over a giant fireplace. He eats gourmet food prepared by a local chef and plays pool with the other grandpas that live there. The only thing missing are some princesses. Which of course we are happy to provide when we visit with the three great-granddaughters.

However, these places cost a pretty penny and my Grandpa is not a wealthy man. Getting him into this place has been a bit of a squeeze but with my Mom and Dad renting out his old house (mobile home on a decent lot) and some other relatives pitching in, it works.

So there we are. Did you follow that?

mindless watching of videos while my mom and I attempt to move my mom into my Grandpa's house

Today I am helping my mom and my sister-in-law move all my mom’s stuff into my Grandpa’s tiny mobile home. Nothing is fitting. It’s a big mess. My Grandpa didn’t really move his stuff out so it’s a jumble of old stuff and new stuff and pretty much stuff everywhere. (What’s new, right?) This is not good because when my Grandpa visits, he freaks out a little bit when he sees his family heirlooms stacked up willy-nilly along side my mom’s boxes and boxes of crap. I’m trying to help but it’s an uphill battle.

In the meantime, I’m finding all sorts of interesting things.

Perfume Nips

Perfume Nips anyone? No?

Flint Eye Bath

How about an eye bath?

Weird, weird stuff. I love going through old things for this very reason. I love looking at graphic design from yesteryear. But it’s also sort of sentimental because a lot of it reminds me of my Grandma who died several years ago.

tissue box doll

It’s not that I’m feeling horribly sad about this. I’ve had many many years to think about how much I miss my Grandma. I love looking at her old things and remembering good times we had together. She was an amazing woman and I still feel very close to her. I know she is in Heaven. But at the same time every time we go through a change like this, I’m just reminded of how time does not stop.

looking out

Baby Bug is getting older. I’m getting older. My mom’s getting older. I think about these things a lot. Someday it will be me moving my mom into a rest home or maybe she will come live with me. I don’t know. I never know how these things are going to pan out. I guess the chaos runs in my blood too.

I think what’s got me down is my aunt. My great-aunt is also in the same retirement home my grandpa just moved into. He actually moved there so that he could take care of her. She was diagnosed with cancer a while back. Just yesterday she found out she has only six more months to live. This not a shock to anyone. She’s ninety-something years old and in a great deal of pain. We knew the cancer would take her sooner or later.

I guess I’m just sad about it because she is hopelessly depressed. She has holed herself up in her room and doesn’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to judge her. I don’t know what it is like to be nearly a hundred years old. I don’t know what it is like to have your body fall down around you and know that this latest pain is the pain that is going to kill you. Her memory is very bad. Her enjoyment of the day to day is probably next to nothing. But I’m sad for her. Even though I know she has her faith in God and her afterlife worked out…I would hope that she would want to live out every last minute. Why does she want to be alone?

I guess I can’t understand what she is going through until I get there. But I really do hope that I am surrounded by my family at the end and that I make the most of my last days. Is it wrong of me to be disappointed in her? Of course my family will honor her wishes to die alone. She deserves that. She’s almost a hundred after all. She can do whatever she wants to do. But it just doesn’t make sense. I hope when I am that old I will not feel that way.


  • amy

    I love that you chose to share with us. I love reading about other people’s families- it just helps to show me that we are all so much more alike than different. I also think about life like this more and more each year. I think too much I think. And btw- perfume nips? so freakishly delightfully strange :)

  • BeachMama

    Another adventure from the sticks. I think it’s great that you join in the drama and find the fun in all the change. We certainly had our share this past summer but, as you say, time marches on. I hope this all works out for your family it would seem like the best case scenerio for your brother and family. And I hope to live in a castle like your grandpa when my time comes.

  • Jennifer

    I guess no family is complete without some sort of drama playing in the background in a constant loop. I saw your photostream late last night and I was worried that something happened to your grandpa. I’m glad to hear that he is well and on his way to some nice digs. I understand your pangs for your grandma. I still miss mine so much. She passed when I was 16. I was incredibly close to her. I’m sometimes sad that she never was able to meet Jeremy or my girls, but I hope that she is watching down on us. Audrey is so much like her, I think they would have loved each others company a great deal.

    So sorry to hear about your Aunt. There really is no way of knowing how life will pan out is there? I hope that she is able to turn herself around and find some joy in the rest of her days. Jeremy and I joke about our future as oldies. There was a “retirement community” that Jeremy and I always used to drive by when we lived in South OC called The Wellington. We always joke about how we’ll be hanging out at the Wellington together.

    I like seeing interesting items from the past. My mom saves nothing so they are rare finds for me.

  • SusieQ

    I am sorry to read about your aunt. You never know how someone (including yourself) is going to react to declining years/end of life issues. Your aunt might just need some time to mourn over her new news, or the fact that she has left some things undone or unresolved. Keep trying.
    On an aside, your chalk escapades made me think of another project. Have you ever made sidewalk paint? Mix equal parts corn starch and water, then add food coloring. It will be drippy, but if it’s too thick, you will get lumps on your sidewalk and goopy brushes. I shake up about two cups worth at a time and use leftover egg-dying cups, chunky brushes, and the “neon” food colors. We never fail to have half the neighborhood kids in our driveway within minutes. Cleanup is easy – either wait for the rain, or get out the garden hose.

  • Gayle

    I’m sorry this is a difficult time for your family. It is so hard when a family member is dying. I think your family is doing the right thing to honor your aunt’s wishes to be alone, and to continue to be there for her, when/if her desire to be alone changes. Don’t give yourself a hard time over how you are feeling.

  • Sonja

    Ugh. That’s hard. I just had this revelation about how Noah will one day look back at pictures from now and think “Wow, my parents look really young in those pictures!” Sort of sends chills down my spine, you know?!!

  • ninabi

    I keep thinking about your aunt and how hard this must be for you.

    You know how it is when you have been on a long trip and it’s time to go to the airport? How tired you are, how all the clothes in your suitcase are dirty, you have a headache from the odd schedule, and while the sightseeing was wonderful, it’s past time to go home?

    It’s like that for some people at the end of their lives. They’re sorry the trip has come to an end, they are tired and no, they don’t want anybody to wait with them at the gate, even if their flight is delayed.

    I think I’d like to have my daughter sit with me in the terminal, or some friends to help pass the time.

    I do hope your aunt receives good pain control. She deserves that. And she has her faith to comfort her.

  • Melissa

    So sorry to hear about your Great-Aunt. Depression is the same at any age, sometimes you just cannot help but to hole yourself up and want to be alone. Sometimes, though, that isn’t the best thing. It may be worth chatting with the people at the retirement home to see what they think. And, maybe, it is worth making contact in the form of letters or drawings being dropped off. And, maybe, it is worth trying to get a smile from her. Sometimes just one smile can lead to many more. Why is it that a certain chatterbox bug comes to mind? I think she could get anyone to smile.

  • lynne

    Hmm changes are always worrying, but if your mother and father are happy in your grandfathers old home, and he is ultimately happy in this wonderful sounding retirement home then it does sound like a good solution.

    I am very sorry to hear about your great aunt. I think constant pain and anxiety can change a person a great deal. We can never know how we are going to respond to the bad news of a terminal disease. My father was diagnoised with Parkinsons when I was 18. The news was too much for him to deal with and ultimately a few years after diagnosis he gave up, locked himself away and sat in a chair for years waiting for his Parkinsons to get him. He’d been a very strong man who went out of his way to help others all his life, but he turned inwards. I think the tablets he took didn’t help either. I used to feel so angry inside at him often while I was caring for him as I felt he’d given up on us. That we weren’t enough to fight for, but I tried to understand him through compassion too. My fathers depression was so deep it just smothered him. But there were good times too when he would coem out and we coudl talk just like old times.

    Sigh, sorry I wish I could write something more upbeat and positive for you. Don’t stop trying to bring sunshine to your aunt’s life, she may just respond. I used to sing to my Dad when it got really bad and that often used to work. Does she like animals? Could you bring a cat to her room? If I were sick I’d need my Willow cat comforting the end of my feet.

    I thought Ninabi’s description of the end of a life being like the end of a long trip description was just perfect. Squishy hug.

  • Rae

    I love those old fonts.

    Thinking of you as you work through understanding what is happening with your aunt. I hope she is healed of hurt and opens herself back up to her family.

  • OMSH

    Wow, I can’t imagine her choice would be mine either; as you stated though, how could I possibly know at 36 and healthy.

    I’m so surprised at your parents’ move though – wow, from what you’ve described before THAT is a LOT of stuff! Maybe you should call that show…what’s it called “Clean House?” They could divide everything up on the lawn! tee hee

    OR MAYBE you guys could just pretend to be on the show. I’ve always thought it’d be awesome to do one of those, but I give away enough already … there isn’t enough clutter to clean clutter my place.