One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my big sister on our bed, the kitchen radio between us, waiting for Dad to read the market report for our hometown radio station. Our bedroom door was tightly shut to avoid feedback from the dining room, which was HQ for Dad’s broadcast.
The glamour of hearing Ole Oleson announce–”And here’s Harlan Stratton with the morning market report for K-L-E-M, 1410 KLEM.”–sent shivers of delight down my spine. Listening to Dad’s voice come through the radio was magical.
Dad’s radio career was cut short by the progression of his multiple sclerosis, which soon left him unable to read. But KLEM’s magical aura lingered clear through numerous high school treks to the station to promote the theater productions that were my lifeblood in those days.
This week I’m in my hometown again to speak at 4 northwest Iowa libraries, the Le Mars Public Library included, about caregiving. Monday morning, at 11:45, I’ll join the city librarian at K-L-E-M KLEM to talk up the Le Mars event. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can listen to 1410 KLEM live from wherever you may be–in the next room or in the next continent.
Dad’s been gone 17 years now, and his last radio broadcast was 50+ years ago. But if his name comes up during the broadcast and my voice wavers, you will know that the magic of hearing Dad’s voice still lingers. No longer on the radio for the morning market report, but forever in my heart.
These three thoughts for a June Thursday in 2012 seem appropriate, especially #3, as Mom’s annual mammogram was yesterday. No tress. Just the press.
For the past couple of weeks, my life has revolved around caring for friends and family – Hiram’s surgery June 12, a Camp Dorothy overnight last weekend, and taking some kids swimming so their pregnant mama could get some rest. Such circumstances rarely shine a light on my finest hour, but the situations did result in three care giving thoughts for Thursday:
1. I’m pretty sure the doctor prescribed a 5 pound lifting limit for a certain male patient who had back surgery to keep him from lifting more than 10 pounds.
2. Taking imaginative children to the swimming pool isn’t about going swimming. It’s about prowling in the water like a tiger cooling off on a hot jungle day, hopping in the water like a frog in a pond, and swimming underwater like a tadpole. But after 2 1/2 hours of prowling, hopping, and swimming, the tiger, frog, tadpole, children, and adult weren’t pretend tuckered out. They were honest-to-goodness, for real tuckered out.
3. I usually take Mom for her annual mammogram, but since it was the same day as Hiram’s surgery, my brother took her instead. She had a haircut the same morning, so during our Camp Dorothy overnight last weekend, I asked her, “Did you survive your big squish and snip morning okay?”
She shook her head and smiled. “It wasn’t squish and snip. It was press and tress.”
Yup, Mom’s still got her sense of humor!
Have you had any memorable care giving moments lately? If so, leave a comment.
Every Wednesday I spend several hours with Mom at her new home in assisted living. Here’s a peek at what’s best about Wednesdays with Dorothy.
10. The staff at the assisted living facility is friendly to me and loving towards Mom.
9. Getting to know other residents who live there has been delightful.
8. Mom treats me to supper.
7. Mom’s favorite game is Rummikub and the primary colors on the tiles make me feel so happy.
6. Mom’s second favorite game is Uno, and when she wins she gives an evil laugh because she knows it will make me laugh, too.
5. At least once a visit, she looks around and says “I can’t believe Genworth* is paying for this” with wonder and delight.
4. Mom still has a great sense of humor. (See #6)
3. She takes great joy in looking at pictures of her great-grandchildren and showing off the cards and crafts they send.
2. When we are together on Wednesdays, I know without a doubt that I am where God wants me to be, doing what he wants me to do.
1. Mom loved and cared for me in my early years and being able to reciprocate that love and care in her last years is a gift to both of us.
*Genworth is her long term care insurance company.
Since the beginning of December, I feel like I’ve been juggling knives.
Recently honed to a razor’s edge.
And all because I was plunked into the role of primary caregiver for the first time in a long time.
Though I was caring for an aging parent–first in our home, then transitioning her to assisted living, and now advocating for her with insurance companies, with a little break thrown in caring for a toddler grandchild when a new baby came along–the experience was a reminder of what parents of kids with special needs live with day by day.
Parents of kids with special needs are constantly juggling knives that
skewer free time,
turn any attempts into creating a routine into chopped liver,
and shred caregiving paperwork into teeny, tiny bits.
A New Caregiver’s Notebook Give Away
My caregiving duties are easing up, but if you’re the parent of a child with special needs or caring for an aging parent, your duties are as demanding as ever. That’s why Different Dream is giving away a copy my The Caregiver’s Notebook. Why? Because the notebook I filled out for Mom was a way to sheath the mess of knives I was juggling. And it sheathed them better than I ever imagined it would while writing the notebook. Especially after my Caregiver’s Notebook epic fail, which tells the story of why I now carry Mom’s copy with me to e-v-e-r-y appointment she has.
To enter the contest, visit Gravel Road’s sister site, DifferentDream.com.
In the past 7 days, I helped Mom move into assisted living on Monday, traveled to Wisconsin on Tuesday to help out with the our 2-year-old grandson and brand new granddaughter until Saturday, and joined our church Connection Group on Sunday afternoon to make 32 pans of scalloped potatoes and ham for an upcoming fundraiser.
After a week in the whirlwind, I am home alone today.
Catching up on neglected tasks.
Sitting in my comfy chair writing.
Reflecting on the many changes our family has undergone in a few short weeks.
2 moments stand out amongst the tornado of moments that swirled around and above and under and through my heart in 7 short days. The first moment came after my brother and I had moved Mom’s furniture, arranged her room, and returned to take her to her new home. When I announced it was almost time to leave and asked her to wait until I was done in the bathroom. While I was otherwise occupied, Mom grabbed her walker and headed out the door.
A few minutes later,
I found her in the garage,
standing in the 7 degree weather,
waiting to begin her new life with the grit and determination that is her hallmark.
The second moment came during my Wisconsin sojourn. I was sitting in the rocking chair holding our newborn granddaughter while her mommy spent some time with her big brother. I looked down at this little one’s tiny perfect face, felt the soft rise and fall of her breathing against my chest, and breathed in her sweet baby aroma. And there, in the center of a month marked by the gale force change, a calm descended upon my windblown heart.
my heartbeat slowed,
my body relaxed,
and I thanked God for wrapping my arms around the gift on my granddaughter’s new life.