Monday, October 14, 2019

Bill and Me, Fifty Five Years Later

Bill and me, yesterday

Bill is 91 years old now. I am 77 years old. We met when I was 22 years old and Bill was 35 years old. What a difference 55 years makes.

Today I am Bill's caregiver. 

Bill is hard of hearing.  Bill also has macular degeneration of his eyes. He can't see distances. 

Bill walks a little slower these days. 

Bill spends most of his day sitting in his Archie Bunker chair in the sunroom checking the weather map on his iPad.

Bill doesn't drive these days, unlike when we first met and Bill did all the driving. Our roles have completely reversed. 

Once a day I try to take Bill out for his ride. Bill so enjoys his rides. Sometimes I go to the local supermarket.  In fact I often go to the supermarket, pacing my purchases out so I have an excuse to go to the supermarket. Sometimes Bill goes in the store with me and sometimes he just sits in the car watching shoppers go to and fro.

Bill goes to bed early (about 7:30 pm) and gets up early (about 1:00 am).  Sometimes our days overlap like last night when I was binge watching a Netflix series ("A Place To Call Home").  

We're on different eating schedules but I always make a dessert for Bill.  His favorite is banana cream pudding with whipped cream and a cherry on the top.  That is his treat for the day.

Both of my brothers were my Mother's caretakers. My brother Isaac lived with my Mother at her home in Pennsylvania until she got too much to care for. She didn't want to leave home and we promised her she would never go into a nursing facility (a promise we kept).  When she got to be too much for Isaac we tricked her into visiting my other brother John in South Carolina (who had a mother-in-law suite).  John and his wife and daughter cared for Mom until she died in 2010 at age 86.  Mom, who was always so caring during her life, became bitter towards the end. She always wanted to "got home" but we couldn't do that.  The last time Bill and I visited her in South Carolina she was packed and ready to go. It  broke out hearts not to take her home with us. The last time I saw her alive, I went into her bedroom. I saw her packed suitcase next to her bed. She was lying on her bed on her back with her arm over her eyes. She didn't see me. I was going to say goodbye but I heard her crying softly. I decided just to leave rather than have a scene. I never saw her alive again. I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

Bill is home. He's happy. He's not bitter. 

This past year I've noticed a decline in Bill. He gets more confused.  He is frustrated because he can't see as well but he won't go back to the eye doctor because he blames him for his condition. But other than that, Bill is not bitter. In fact he's rather sweet. We don't have the arguments like we used to have in predictable cycles. Things in the past that would trigger an argument don't seem to happen anymore (much to my relief).  

There will come the day when one of us passes on. Based on our age it will probably be Bill but one never knows. I could buy the farm tomorrow. Bill says if that happens he'll be right behind me. 

One of the things I fear that if Bill goes before I do I will be one great big mess. After spending fifty-five years with someone, I know my life won't be easy. Of course I'm not the first person to face this reality. But still, I remember those days when I was totally alone.  That short period of time when I was out of the Army and before I met Bill. I was lost and at time felt like I was going out of my mind. I don't want to be alone again but I don't want to hook up with somebody just to have somebody to keep my company. I've had a few previews of what that life would be like, they were all disasters.  Thank goodness Bill saved me from making those disastrous decisions. 

Bill is the only person in this world who could stand to live with me.  I am difficult, I'll admit that. Although our fifty-five years together hasn't always been smooth sailing (and that's saying something), we managed in spite of all our differences. 

Some of you are probably wondering about Pat, my Canadian Travel Buddy.  Pat is a great guy and I love him but we could never live together. Other than the obvious fact he's a Canadian (the health care thing) I would drive Pat crazy. As I said, I'm not easy to live with.  Pat and I get together four times a year.  Three times we spend a week together. The fourth time, our winter adventure in California (Palm Springs this year), we spend two weeks together. Believe me, Pat is relieved when I catch that plane to Philadelphia. This brings to mind the few times I took someone with me when I used to summer vacation in Provincetown, Mass. Those guys couldn't wait to dump me and hook up with someone else (sexual) for their vacation.  This happened even several times when I paid for everything.  I couldn't get Bill to go with me. He did once but wouldn't come out of his Best Western motel room ("too many gays outside" he said).  But I digress. Pat is wonderful to vacation with but no, not a housemate.  I.will.be.by.myself if and when Bill is no longer with me. 

And folks, I'm not sure how I will handle that.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Former Ukrainian Ambassador Arrives At The Capital




I have refrained from writing political posts on this blog. But just because I have refrained doesn't mean that I am not very concerned about the state of our nation, the United States of America. 

I have watched with great dismay the past three years of the Trump presidency.  Donald Trump is nothing more than a common criminal, thug and con man who has gotten away all his life with breaking the law. That I believe is finally coming to an end. And the irony of it all is a woman is going to bring him down, as he so justly deserves. 

I could rant and rave and write many blog posts about what is going on in our country now, especially the latest atrocity in which Trump has abandoned our Kurdish allies who helped us contain ISIS.  

Trump and his toady Secretary of State Pompeo, who foolishly thinks he could be a future presidential candidate, told former ambassador Maria Yovanovitch not to appear before a House impeachment inquiry committee.  She instead obeyed the House subpoena and appeared, testifying nine hours. All reports indicate she testified honestly and openly, thus showing she has more courage than ALL fifty-three Republican senators.  More balls. And dare I say even more balls than former Defense Secretary James "Mad Dog" Mattes and the much overrated Special Counsel Robert Mueller, both of whom prioritized their "respect for the office of the presidency" rather than the Constitution and the truth by staying silent on the criminality of Trump.  

Ambassador Yovanovitch showed up this morning and walked openly across the House parking lot without brief case or even purse, in the full sunlight to show us all what a true American should look like and act. She didn't sneak in the back door from a tinted window limousine or decline to show up lest she get a mad rage tweet from our increasingly deranged president. 

Trump appreciates the value of images. I bet he's stewing tonight.  Of course his base will never change but so what? They drank the Trump Kool-Aid. They are lost. I gave up on them a long time ago.  

Today an American did the right thing. Would that just one Republican Senator show one tenth of the courage and truth Ambassador Yovanovitch showed today. But no, their first priority is themselves and not their oath to the Constitution.

They're afraid of a Trump Tweet. Clearly Ambassador Yovanovitch is not. 

Today I was proud to be an American.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Recovering

The exact type of bucket that I sprained my back - I mop the tile floor at the Inn at the end of my shift


Looks like I'm going to survive. My back is still sore but I can maneuver about much better than I did yesterday. I will be able to go to work tomorrow. Thank goodness. I have a new appreciation for those who have physical disabilities like I was faced with, temporarily, yesterday with my severe back pain. 

Bill was very upset. Quite frankly folks I don't know how this household would manage if I was out of commission.  Bill can't drive now. His eyesight is failing (macular degeneration) and he is very hard of hearing. Also, his cognitive abilities are declining. Yesterday I spent a lot of time showing him again how to answer his iPhone. I've shown him multiple times before but he keeps forgetting. I had the same experience with my late friend Bob McC.  I often had to explain to him how to access his e-mails. He never did get it.  Thank goodness Bill can still get around on his on although much slower. However, he absolutely cannot manage running a household. Paying the bills, shopping, cooking, and just about everything else except mowing the grass. He's good at that (thank goodness).  

I called my manager at work this morning and told him I would be at work tomorrow.  He was relieved and I was relieved. I have my regular routine (working two nights a week; Mondays and Thursdays) that works quite well for me. My job not only provides me with extra income for my quarterly escapades with Pat, my Canadian Travel Buddy but psychological as well. I can't imagine staying here (home) all the time. Yesterday I didn't even go out of the house, which is very rare. I can't imagine being in some assisted living facility where I would be cooped up every day.  That to me is a prison that would kill me as it did my late friend Bob McC. He never wanted to end up in a facility like that but he did and he died. 

My back is still sore.  I will have to be very careful tomorrow so I don't injure it again. No more emptying buckets of dirty water after moping the floor at the Inn.



Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Back Pain!



Woke up this morning with a very sore back. 

When I returned home from work at the hotel last night I noticed a stiffness in my lower back (right side).  My back is often sore, upper left under my shoulder blade. But this was a new ache. 

I went to bed assuming when this morning when I awoke that soreness would be gone.  I've had tis happen before, something that would cause a pinched nerve or twist of a muscle. I thought this was just another one of those episodes. But that didn't happen this time when I awoke this morning.

My back was so sore I couldn't stand up straight. I was bent over like an old witch stirring a cauldron.  

As I went about my morning ambulations the soreness didn't go away, it just got worse.  Oh uh.  

No bike ride this morning. In fact I didn't go out at all today.  That's right, I didn't even go out of the house.  That's a rarity for me, I usually at least go out of our house and make the rounds in our back yard. No, my back was so sore today all I could do was manage breakfast, some time at my computer (which my computer chair as a brace), lunch then a long nap.  I must have slept for about three hours (went to bed at 2:30 and got up about 5:35).  As I lay in my bed the pain was totally gone.  Oh how good that felt.  

Problem was that once I got up and started to move around the soreness came back but, thankfully not as bad as it was this morning.

I texted Mike, my manager at the hotel to tell him I might not be able to go to work this Thursday.  I couldn't go to work bent over and in pain. Especially when guests sometimes expect me to help unload their luggage.  Of course that created a problem because there was no one to fill in for me. He said he would try to work something out with one of the full time guys. I hated to put Mike in this situation. I've always prided myself on my dependability. Now that I'm older, and my aging body is failing me, I'm not that dependable.  That's a fact of life I have to face.

The time now is 9:25 PM and my back is still sore but not as sore as it was earlier today. Thank goodness.  Looks like I'll be able to go to work Thursday.  But this episode today brings to the forefront how vulnerable I am.  






Saturday, October 05, 2019

Dreams



Last night I had another dream.  

Lately I've been dreaming a lot this past year. More so that I usually dreams.

Some of my dreams I remember, most I don't remember. However, I do remember the intensity of the dreams.

I think I'm dreaming more lately because of the number of deaths and serious illnesses of relatives (my younger brother), friends (my ride to the Philly airport) and neighbors (my dear next door neighbor).  

As I've often stated many times before in this blog, I am not afraid of death.  Death to me is the final act of living. Next month I'll be 78 years old. I've had a damn good run.  I've been more fortunate than many with the life I've had and continue to have. However, I do fear the way I'm going to leave this earthly plane. I don't want to go in prolonged pain and dependence on others during my Final Journey. I prefer to pass on in my sleep. 

When I die and I will die, I am fairly certain that death is the eternal rest. There will be no golden gates awaiting me with an old man with a long white beard a book checking my sins to see if I can pass into the gates of Heaven. That's all man made fiction folks. No disrespect to those of you who practice religion by going to church and those bible studies. Whatever makes people comfortable and helps then get through life with less stress and give their lives meaning, I'm all for it. But, if there is an outside chance of something at the end of that long tunnel with the blinding light that awaits me I think it will be my beloved Pomeranian dogs and especially my little buddy Horace that will await me. And that folks is what many of my dreams are about, Horace is waiting for me.  

I used to have these dreams that I forgot to put my pants (and underpants) on and I'm wandering out in public. Oh how often I have had those dreams and I don't know what in the hell THOSE dreams meant. I would always wake up in a sweat after having one of those dreams.

These days I wake up after having a dream of either Horace (my Pomeranian dog) waiting for me or my Mother, sometimes both. It is odd that no one else in my life awaits me in my dreams.  Maybe that explains the only times I've cried when someone close to me has died has been Horace and my Mother.  I didn't actually cry out loud when my Mother died but I felt like part of me was torn from my body and psyche. When Horace died I didn't cry until the next day when I was at work and realized I would never see him again. I couldn't control my crying and had to go into the bathroom until I got myself under control. 

I know I'm probably wandering here in this blog post, usually I try to keep them focused on the title of the blog. Here I am going on about death again as I have in previous blogs. But I believe my recent spat of dreams are affected but recent deaths and terminal illnesses in my life. 

When I awake from one of these dreams about Horace or my Mother, sometimes both the same dream, I feel exhausted but also a sense of relief knowing that this might just be what awaits me when after I post my final blog. If so, then that surly would be Heaven.  

Whatever happens when I die, I know that either the mythical afterlife we've been spoon-fed by religion is waiting for me or just nothingness. Probably nothingness but one thing is for certain. I will no longer feel this sense of sadness that I have to live with every day of my life now.

Now, today is a beautiful fall day with crisp temperatures. I think I'll take a bike ride and let that autumn breeze caress my withered face while I contemplate my possible reunion with Horace.

Horace,  my Mom and Me - my two best friends



Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Ron Expands His Bicycle Riding Horizons



Yesterday I loaded my bike on my new bike rack on my Subaru Forester and drove to nearby Cape Henlopen State Park.  

Cape Henlopen has some wonderful bike trails. 

I wanted to expand my bike riding horizons beyond my immediate neighborhood where I live. 

I love riding my bike but I was yearning to expand my bicycle riding experience.  While my neighborhood is fine for bike riding, it is limited. Cape Henlopen has a wonderful network of bike trails.  

I've ridden my bike in my adjoining neighborhood of Oyster Rocks but that still wasn't enough. I wanted a more varied bike ride. Riding the trails in Cape Henlopen provided that experience.

When I used to visit Provincetown I always took advantage of their state park bike trails. It's been too long for me to take advantage of the free bike trails here, especially since it is nearby and free.

I love riding my bike. However, bike riding for me today is dangerous.  My arthritis limits my flexibility for stopping my bike for an emergency. One of my biggest fears today is falling and injuring myself. I've done that too many times the past five years resulting injuries. We've had several deaths of bicyclists hit by motorists including a recent one of an experienced cyclist. That's why I don't want to ride my bike on roads or at least limit my bike riding on roads with speeding vehicles.

Another plus I've discovered riding my bike is that I'm using muscles I haven't used in years.  

It's all good folks.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Flu Shot


Whose the guy with the skinny arms and haggard face. That's me!

Bill and I got our annual flu shot today.  

We get our flu shots at the Veterans Administration Outpatient clinic in Georgetown, Delaware. 

We were notified last month the flu shots would be available today from 1 pm to 3 pm.  Yes, right in the middle of my midday nap.  

I took an early lunch then took myself and Bill for the eleven mile (one way) trip to the Veterans Administration Outpatient clinic.  Yes, in the heavy midday traffic which I try to avoid.

Upon arriving at the clinic we immediately noticed that the parking lot was full.  Oh uh, looks like a long wait. 

We entered the clinic and there they were, all us old vets wandering around in confusion.  

I asked one vet what was going on.  He said "They're out of flu vaccine already. You have too get an authorization sheet to get  your shot at Walgreen's."  Okay.  This sounds familiar.  Same thing happened last year.  

We loaded ourselves back in my Subaru Forester and drove to Walgreens, which thankfully was nearby.  

An hour later, after filling out paperwork to have the VA pay for the flu shot, we got our shot.  

Afternoon shot, but hopefully we won't get the flu again this year as has happened the past several years.  

For all of those who are wondering, is this what government health care would look like?  Sad to say, probably.