Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Just in Case Stick

Hubby has been doing some volunteer work for our local police station. It has taken a while but he is slowly breaking through the solid blue wall and getting the officers comfortable with him. The police chief is a church member, so after all of the struggles we had with Drunken Neighbor, we finally asked for a favor. A file has been started on this man and the hope is to get him sent away to jail (he is also a drug dealer).

Several weeks ago Drunken Neighbor was caught by the police just a few feet from E's window (inside our fenced yard). 4 officers responded to my 911 call. 2 stayed with the DN and 2 were sent to talk to me. It was 11 o'clock at night and Hubby was not home. It was 35 degrees out and I was standing in my bathrobe on my front porch with my teeth chattering.

One of the officers sent to talk to me was a 15 year veteran of the force who has lived on the island all his life. He was a stereotypical Italian cop. His partner was a rookie, only on the force for a few months. As I was standing outside talking to the cops, the rookie slowly kept backing away from me. I wasn't yelling, I wasn't threatening anyone, I was just telling my side of the story. I kept seeing him take one step, then another away from me and I really couldn't figure out why.

When the cops left, E and I went back inside and she said, "Mom, you went all Mother Bear out there!" I asked her what that meant and she said, "You were really scary!"

"But I was totally calm. I was perfectly polite. I wasn't scary," I told her. She agreed that I was quiet, but she said when I had that intense quiet was when I was my scariest of all.

A week later I was talking to the police chief about the events that night and he told me the officers had a new found respect for my husband. Anyone who could face my wrath and live to tell the tale was all right in his book. Apparently the Italian cop went back and told the chief he doesn't know why anyone would want to make me mad. He figured if he left me alone in the room with DN I would take care of the problem myself. I had intimidated a lifetime cop.

I quickly pointed out to the chief that I had very specifically stayed on an even keel that night. I would never, ever take the law in my own hands outside of my home, but we do have a PVC pipe under our bed just in case this man tries to enter our house. If he does, he and his kneecaps will be parting ways and the officers will learn just how scary I can be.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Living with the New Normal

So here's the thing. You can plan and prepare and think of all the possible scenarios for "what if." What if a parent dies? What if a parent becomes incapacitated? What if your spouse becomes sick? You can obsess and stress and think you are ready, but when that phone call finally comes that puts your life into high gear and on a new course, you end up just flying by the seat of your pants and hoping that you are getting it right, or if not right, at least close enough.

My dad's stroke has left my tiny family treading water. He can shave, bathe and take care of minor personal needs, but he can't drive and gets lost in his own home. He forgets to drink water, eat or take his medicine if someone doesn't remind him. My mom leaves him alone for no more than 2 hours at a time. The weirdest thing, though, is that the stroke has left him wanting to talk nonstop. He will talk to anyone near him and will often repeat himself. It is draining.

The short term memory is not returning. He asked me to change out his cable box for the new high definition box. He wanted to "help" but knew he couldn't. Part of managing his stroke by himself has turned him into a control freak, so he wanted to tell me what to do every step of the way. Only it went like this. I would start to pull the old box out and he would become agitated and say, "Wait a minute. What are you doing? Give me a minute to think." So I would put my hands down and sit and wait. After about a minute he would say, "Why are you just sitting there? Go ahead and take out the box." I would start to pull it out and he would freak out and ask me what I was doing. This happened no fewer than 6 times before I finally just quickly yanked the box out and took the control away from him.

It's funny. We laugh about it. I want to support him. But I wonder, is this what it is going to be like forever?

The most ironic thing about all of this, somehow my dad's stroke has triggered a whole flood of repressed childhood memories. Nothing (well, only one thing) that is horrible and nothing that my mom or dad have done to me. But things that had been long gone have slowly seeped back into my brain. Memories of riding motorcycles with my brother. Sledding down a hill in a park in San Jacinto with cardboard on the one day it snowed during the time I lived in Houston. Little things. Things that wouldn't matter to most people, but when you have no childhood memories at all, it means something.

So that's were I am right now, trying to come to grips with my new normal and figuring out a way to let go of the fear that something else bad is just around the corner. Because walking through life with one hand covering your eyes is no way to live.