the view from sunday: mother’s day fun

My mom wears me out like no other, but every moment we spend together is definitely special. It’s been a rough year for us all, so I tried to keep things light. Took my mom and gran out for a quick brunch at one of the boy’s favorite Colombian bakeries, followed by a trip to one of my mom’s favorite health food stores (she gets a kick out of buying supplements and organic soaps). We dropped my gran off at home so she could rest and picked up the boy for a trip to Yogurtland and a little heart to heart… After 6 years, the boy finally asked me to move in with him (for real this time, not because it was the easy way out of a bad situation). I said yes, but it won’t be official for another year since I just renewed my lease (bad timing). Either way, we wanted to break the news to her and share in our excitement. It will be interesting preparing to move and figure out how our stuff will fit together.

We ended the day with churros, because who can pass on churros?

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the hard stuff

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. It started about 15 years ago. At least, that’s what I estimate. I was 15 the first time I noticed that she was lost. She picked me up from school; I stayed late for some after school activity, probably art club or something, and missed the bus. I was hungry and she took me to the McDonald’s down the street to pick up a snack. When we got back in the car, she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing there. I had to show her how to get back home. She was fine after that. My mom passed it off as age, exhaustion after a long day. But then it started to happen again, at random. Eventually we knew something was off.

There’s no way to stop it and it only gets worse. I lived with my mom and gran growing up, there was no day when she wasn’t around. She’s always been difficult. She’s always been hard to understand and a little cold towards my mom. Now, she’s aggressive and mean. She’s angry and irrational. When I moved out, I knew that I was leaving my mom in a tough situation, but I knew that I couldn’t stay. It was a hard choice. I was ready to move on, even knowing that my mom needed help to deal with my grandmother’s dementia. It’s getting harder. My mom’s health is poor. She’s retiring because she can’t work and take care of my grandmother anymore, but she also can’t take care of her without suffering herself. My grandmother’s actions stress her out and are making her own health deteriorate. Meanwhile, I’m unable to offer any kind of real help. There’s so little that can be done and no money for outside help. It’s hard to age when you’re poor and even worse when you’re unable to take care of yourself or those you love.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I worry for them both and there is no easy solution. My mom was in tears when I called to check in on her this morning; she was crying because my grandmother was acting out again. It’s hard to feel kind towards my grandmother knowing that she’s never been kind to my mom, and that makes me feel even worse. The thought of having to put her in care hurts, but it may come down to it if it means taking the pressure off my mom. There’s no easy out.

I just needed to put this into words.

A Remembrance

After battling a rare form of cancer, my grandfather passed away on Wednesday evening at 10:59 pm. I was with him when he passed and, though it was difficult to watch him struggle in the hours before, I felt that his passing was peaceful and easy. In those last 20 minutes, he just settled. It was like falling asleep; he stopped gasping for air, his breathing returned to a natural, steady rhythm, and then he was gone. It was that smooth.

Though the loss is painful, I was glad that it happened so easily. I didn’t want him to be in pain any longer and I like to think that in those minutes he was at ease. He was not a perfect man, but he was loving and caring and he was a stubborn old goat who had a gift for opening up and telling stories no matter who was listening. I didn’t see him often enough, but in the last two years I lived closer to his home and was able to spend more time with him on the weekends. Though we had our differences when it came to certain beliefs, he always believed in me and made sure I knew it. I said goodbye to him on Saturday when I stopped by his place to pick up my aunt before taking her to the airport, and that was the last time I heard his voice.

He never gave me presents because he was a practical man and figured money was a better gift than an object, so I have few things to remember him by–an antique bracelet he found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, an old shoeshine box that he found and knew I would like (we shared a love interesting of wooden boxes), and an old hammer with three mismatched screwdrivers, things he knew I would need when he wouldn’t be there to help. Then there are the plants–my whole garden came from his, a living tribute that I have been worrying over for the last year and a half as the harsh, unpredictable weather tries to beat my efforts.

He uprooted his life and left his homeland to escape communism. He watched his family grow. And he made sure we were always looked after. When I had to have emergency surgery three years ago, he was the one who watched over me while my mom was at work, and when I moved out, he was the first to come inspect the place. When I met Edward, he was one of the first to approve, and when I graduated and became a librarian, he made sure I knew he was proud.

I have few pictures of us together because I was often the one behind the camera, but last Christmas I made sure to take one where we were together. However, my favorite pictures will always be those that my mom brought with her from Cuba, the ones where he looks like an old time movie star, and this one where he’s doing what he loved best–climbing and fixing things:

granpa

on gifting bad presents

We’ve all got that one relative or friend (or maybe several relatives or friends) who never quite seem to know what makes an appropriate gift. These are the ones who gift for the sake of gifting or out of a bizarre, unwarranted sense of obligation. They give you the gift of things you don’t need/want/know what to do with… If you’re like me, you store these things away until the next garage sale or spring cleaning donation, or you exchange them for something useful (hurray for gift receipts!).

I have a long history of bad presents received from a particular familial unit, often involving giant pajamas covered in cats (note: I like cats, I do not wear cats) or similar. This unit recently committed the ultimate gifter’s sin: regifting a bad present on a holiday when a gift was not expected or even relevant to the family connection.

Behold! The re-gifted “farmer’s market mug”. Price inked over, but the $2.99 is still visible beneath the ink. This was a gift received by my mother on Mother’s Day. Her relation to the giver? Not at all relevant to Mother’s Day. Neither daughter nor son. Simply an opportunity to get rid of an unwanted mug by passing it off on another.

While my obsession with cute and colorful teaware definitely stemmed from my mother’s similar obsession (a family trait also exhibited by dearest Auntie Em), I’m not sure my mom was much enthused when she received this present. How did we know it was re-gifted? It bore the signs of being hastily shoved into a bag with some of the original wrapping still attached.

Moral of the story: Sometimes people don’t expect presents, don’t re-gift something you didn’t want yourself just because you think they do. But if you choose to re-gift, remove the signs of previous gifting.

Pink Domo says Happy Valentine’s

It’s going to be a very rushed Valentine indeed as we prepare for the Canadian invasion… an unplanned for visit from some of the Cuban ex-pat relatives fleeing the arctic chill for a week.

The new job is going well, but it seems I’m never home long enough to get anything done, so prepping for this visit has been somewhat er… haphazard. I just barely managed to get all the supplies I needed for yesterday’s pre-Valentine’s baking experiment, so the “made from the heart” part of my gift for Bunny is covered, with the surplus going to the fam as “sorry, can’t afford proper gifts right now” offerings.

I need a nap. A proper one. My free Friday was not the least bit restful and I’m in for a long week.

And now I’m off to go hide things in my car’s trunk to make our place seem neat and tidy. But not before posting some gratuitous baking pictures…