This is Nick...aka Uncle Nick.

This is Nick...aka Uncle Nick.
94th Birthday... We went easy on the candles!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Errand Days

There is the list of to do's wrapped around the main event - the doctor's visit.   We agree to leave at a certain time and I go over the house and he's still washing dishes.  No sense of time? or a disregard?  I'm not really sure and I don't want us to be late.  So then is starts.   We usually make it on time.  I feel pressure.  His nose is dripping.  I give him tissues and it annoys him but he tries not to show it.  Are you feeling sick.  No it's just dripping and my ear gets plugged up.  What doctor are we going to see?  The vampire (PT/INR) and Dr. M.  When was the last time we saw him?  And yet - there are very clear questions and answers about dates, times and people places and things.  So what is going on?  I really don't know and all I feel is pressure to make sure that  my loved one eats, sleeps and exercises and gets better.  HE is 94... how much better is it going to get?! 

Then we laugh about a shared memory.  We chat about family.  We talk about current events.  And for a couple of minutes its like all those other times we used to sit and talk about life and people, art and music, politics and patience and education and travel and books being read.  A life time away... 

Then and Now...a little bit about me. Then THEN.

What qualifies me to be a primary caregiver for a 94 year old Uncle is I have always been a giver, perseverant, detail oriented, a leader, finder of what's missing so that it can be found and fixed, adventurous, daring in certain areas and inspired by others.  But despite all this it was my accepted destiny.

I've said that I lived my life knowing that some day I'd be here helping my uncle - like having a destiny.  So I lived life.  I got educated in a helping area - my undergrad in psychology and counseling and my graduate work in Human Resources.  I have had a successful career as a Human Resources Management professional in the HBA and pharmaceutical industries; with companies including manufacturing, distribution and sales.  I studied accounting, small business management, and other areas that would make me able. 

I have enjoyed travel to 30 + US states including Puerto Rico and the Bahamas and other countries like Italy, Africa and France and have rich memories of wonderful experiences, architecture, foods and drink. 

I used to spend a lot of time  on art, food and friends and their kids.  I had lots and lots of fun.  I had enough money for me to enjoy that life.  I used to get manicures and pedicures, colored my hair and got massages.  I used to wear Jones of New York to work and enjoy lunches out and dinners out.  Saw movies, art exhibits and took yoga classes.  Had a garden and enjoyed looking up new plants and growing things.  Enjoyed taking my dog to the dog park and having him groomed.  I went to the dentist, the doctors for annuals and when I needed to.

Many many things have changed.   Metaphorically, if all my llifes' different life experiences were different muscle groups... lets just say I've exercised very few of the old muscle groups in the last three years.  And you know what they say... if you don't use it you loose it.  Maybe this is why I'm feeling like a big mush.

By the way, what I haven't mentioned yet is love and loving relationships.  I have been in love romantically and I have been loved in return, just not for a long time.  This is a topic for a different blog.  And I haven't talked about my faith in God, yet.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Then and Now...a little bit about me. NOW first.

These days I start at 7am.  Walk the dogs; fill the bird feeders; check to see that the curtain at Uncle Nicks is pulled to the side (our code for 'I've been downstairs this morning'); feed the dogs; make my coffee and check emails; put a load of wash in; go back over to Uncle Nicks and make a five course breakfast, wake him up or if he's up and showered - I clean and dress his leg wound; then he eats, I clean up and we talk about the day.  This all happens before 10:30am-ish.  Some days there are doctors visits and/or errands or nurses visiting or bills to pay and paperwork to follow up on and phone calls to make.  You get the picture.  And then some days I get to sleep until 8 and other I get to take a shower.  But I rarely get to clean my house or turn off my mind.

People have wondered out loud to me if I need to be more organized.  Then I list the responsibilities and even wonder myself, 'could I be more orgainzed'.  Here's the list -
Uncle Nick's care,
Uncle Nick's medical attention/visits etc.,
Uncle Nicks house,
my house in Georgia and
the house I live in,
the farm (six acres that need caring with six out buildings),
625's 8 rental units and 14 tenants,
bills for the business,
Uncle Nick's and
my personal bills,
two dogs,
a part-time job with management responsibilities,
and maintaining my relationships?!?! (LOL)

AM I COMPLAINING?  No not really.  I am managing -juggling- some days better than others.  And Uncle Nick is grateful and tells me he is and that makes it easier.

Who is Nick and why does he deserve my best effort?

Bottom-line upfront is because he paid it forward and I'm extremely grateful and I promised.  The details are as follows: 

Uncle Nick is my mother's Uncle.  My Grandmother's only brother.  As a young woman my Granny Ellen was one of my favorite women.  She encouraged me and was always my lead cheerleader!  We'd day-dream that someday I'd make enough money and keep care of her in her old age.  We’d travel and have fun! Unfortunately, she passed away from lung cancer in 1986 the year I graduated college.  My Uncle and Grandmother were extremely close and I promised her I'd take care of him.  In 2001 I made the same promise to his older sister, Mary, on her death bed.

Youthful, naive promises aside... Uncle Nick also gave my mother the opportunity to provide a safe clean home for her and her three girls post her 1972 divorce.  She was only 28, had three girls (7, 4, and 3 years old) and a strong desire to achieve her degree, work and provide for us.  Uncle Nick rented her one side of a two family house he owned which included three bedrooms, a basement, a yard and garage for over 20 years and never increased her rent.  We started out fine at a time when divorce wasn't vogue and many systems didn't know how to help single moms.  We were warm and safe and getting an education and went to church, etc. etc.

BTW - there were several other tenants over the last 60 years he helped including The Two Ladies!  The two ladies occupied the second house, a converted chicken coup on the farm.  I now live in the coup with my two schnoodles and will write more about that later.  Anyway - the two ladies were sisters.  Wonderful robust German women! The older sister was a tall bodacious realtor in Hunterdon County and widow of a wonderful world known book illustrator and less known painter.  The younger stood 5'2 and weighed less than a bird.  She might have been more petite but tall with life and energy.  She drove to her weekly bowling league through her 70's and into her 80's.  Both women died from dementia and Alzheimer’s.  The disease took the oldest sister within four years and the younger spent 13 years at home on the farm with my Uncle as the primary caregiver.  HE PAID IT FORWARD.

And finally, I am grateful because as he lived he provided a role model and gave me a safe haven in many different ways.  I used the haven and his example several times during my young adult and now middle age years.   

I realize there is a lot to say!   Enough said for now. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why blog?

Because as a primary caregiver for my 94 year old uncle on his pretty large farm over 15 miles from civilization there are things I just need to say and be heard (in this case read) and at times would like a response.  This caregiving world is as isolating as you might imagine Siberia in the winter or a desert in the hot summer.  It also has the most surprising heart warming hot spring moments and often shows up like a thirst quenching oaisis.

First let me say I CHOOSE TO BE HERE. 
My Uncle has been a good man all of his life and has been extremely generous with his time and other resources to many people.  He deserves to be at home comfortably and safely as long as possible or until he decides to leave this earth. 

So the goal in writing is not to complain.  It is to share my world and therefore even if it's in pretend cyberspace, be less isolated through cyber-catharsis and hopefully inadvertently help others in a similar situation.