Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Small Steps Back and Forth

Well, a solution to one problem has been found. Of course, it is going to create another big one for Mom down the line, but we can't worry about that now, I guess.

TAFH is coming in this weekend (Friday through Monday! Ack!). Since she is going to be very ticked off at everyone in this household, I will be avoiding her like the plague. Long story short, she was yelling at Mom over the phone and Mom hung up on her. We then refused to answer the phone the next four times she called and she refused to leave a message. She hasn't called back. So, when she actually gets here, she'll have been stewing about the fact that Mom grew some cajones and actually stood up to her little sister. (I was so proud of my mother!)

I'm going out with a friend on Saturday and staying away from the house for as long as humanly possible. I'll help my friend move, we'll watch a movie and TAFH can glory in telling Grandma what horrible care-takers we are.

As for Grandma, she just went to the doc and he gave her as good a bill of health as she can expect with her numerous ailments. She "forgot" her purse, so Mom paid the co-pay and the meds. We have a feeling she's going to keep doing this. We're taking over the rest of the bills so she only has to worry about spending her money on paying "Bea". She stopped paying for any groceries over a year ago. Since Mom and I tend to eat at work or on the way to or from work, this means we've been buying all of her food. Not that she actually eats what we make her. She usually tells me she doesn't want it after I make it and I go through about two or three things before she agrees to eat what I make. Then she tells you that you should have asked her what she wanted in the first place. When you do ask her first or ask her after you've attempted something already, she always says, "Nothing."

Don't I sound greedy? I'm not. I just get annoyed when the relatives say that Mom and I live here rent-free, trouble-free (Hah!). We pay for all of the food. We did pay half of the bills, now we'll be paying for all of them. We pay for Lifeline. The only thing we won't be paying for (at this time, anyway) are her meds, Bea and the property taxes.

Anyway, the current monetary emergency is settled. TAFH is coming in because she scheduled an assessment for some sort of waiver program. No, she never bothered to warn us that she was doing this or when she scheduled it. She never asked us if we had plans with Grandma on Monday. She scheduled it when it was convenient for her to be here and simply "knew" that everyone else would fall into step with her. We don't even know what this waiver program is or does. Is it a state program? County? Federal? What services could it provide: day care, bathing, monetary assistance? TAFH hasn't bothered to enlighten us yet. Maybe she will on Friday if we're good, little children and do exactly what Mommy Dearest says.

I just called the other Aunt, asking her if she knew what the waiver program was and she told me she had no idea, either. She did, however, tell me that she went to Grandma's doc and got a paper today that verified that Grandma can't be alone. Dr. G didn't tell Mom about this when they were there. This means that if we can't pay Bea, then either Grandma gets institutionalized or I get to quit my job and stay home 24/7. We really can't afford either option. Keep your fingers crossed that this waiver thing will pay for a home attendant.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I have a fool-proof method of cheering myself up. All I have to do is turn on the movie 1776. I have almost the entire movie memorized and can recite most of it verbatim.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Life Sucks...

This might come off as a stream of consciousness exercise, but I'm trying to get things together in my head.

Grandma is broke. Her accounts are pretty much drained dry from paying "Bea" to watch her. We've been paying her $10 an hour under the table. The last check, which bounced and led us to this revelation, was for almost $400.

So, our options stand thusly:
1. Somehow we convince Bea to accept less money.
2. Mom works six days a week, the 3-11 shift so that when I'm getting home, she's just leaving. She would schedule herself off every Wednesday (or whatever day is before the truck arrives at her store).
3. We somehow convince Grandma to go to a day-care program.
4. She goes in a home.
5. We win the fucking Powerball and never have to worry about how to pay for a thing.

1. This is Bea's livelihood. She will neither want to work for less nor will she be convinced to leave early to save some money.
2. Mom and I will be totally burned out. (And this is different from now, how?) Also, if Mom is actually offered the regional manager position she'll have to turn it down.
3. Grandma refuses to go and they don't even start until 7 or 8 AM anyway.
4. Grandma would hate Mom for putting her away. Also, Grandma never put the house in anyone else's name (Mom and I don't give a rat's ass about whose) so if she goes into a home it'll be taken to pay for the care. Theoretically, we could live here until she died, but after her death the state would give us first refusal. There's also the fact that, while she needs help with certain things, she's not bad enough yet to need other things. Assisted Living is too independent for her, but she's not yet in need of a true nursing home.
5. Well, except for the fact that I have no way of intuiting the numbers, I see no problem with this solution.

Mom thinks TAFH jumped the gun with the whole "Grandma can't be alone" thing. I thought it was a doctor who said this, but Mom says it was one of TAFH's proclamations. There have definitely been times Grandma was well enough to be on her own and definitely times when she's been unsteady, so who knows? If it's the case that TAFH/whoever jumped the gun, then we could have held off having a constant companion for a little while and the money would have lasted a bit longer.

Mom and I really didn't think she'd last this long. I know that sounds horrible to admit, but we never thought the situation would end up like this. The way it looks, Mom's going to turn down her dream job (if it's offered to her) and work six days a week. Neither of us will have another night out again, unless one of the relatives is kind enough to offer to to watch her on a day neither of us will really have the luxury of taking advantage of. If Mom's day off is during the week, I can't go out because my work starts at 4AM. If her day off is on a weekend, we might have a chance.

One of the things that's really bugging me, though, is that it means putting off college once again. I really thought I could manage to enroll for this Spring. This means we'll have to take on not just more of the bills (which I really don't have a problem with) but all of the bills. I'm going to keep my layaway for my new mattress. I have to. I can't sleep on this one very well with all of the springs poking me. Mom is not going to be able to start a new computer payment, so yet again, I get shafted that way. She has a nice laptop, I get to use it on occasion and have to use the dinosaur as my computer. (How petty that sounds, not sorry one bit.) I'm going to stop the iPod layaway at Wal*Mart. Mom doesn't really need a 30gb iPod when she hardly listens to music outside the car.

We're going to start looking at apartments, just in case, but I really think the only choice is going to be option 2 and just hope that my stupid relatives see that we're burning ourselves out and actually help us like they fucking said they would when we took on this responsibility.

Did we make a major mistake agreeing to help her out when we moved back here? There have been a couple of times that she would most likely have died if one of us wasn't here. But is the life she has now really a blessing? Yes, she has enjoyed seeing the great-grandkids and my cousin's wedding (which came after one of the more serious incidents that I caught), but her life is simply this: she sleeps on a bed downstairs after having been told she can no longer go upstairs in her own house. When she wakes up after 10AM or so, she moves to the couch in the living room and sleeps there all day as she watches a little TV. Sometimes she sits on the porch. She argues with Mom and I about everything she eats.

Speaking of, I will now no longer give her bread. After a bit of heated conversation today she has decided she never wants bread again. So, from now on, I won't make her sandwiches (Shit! Now what do I feed her?) and any hot dogs she gets will be sans bun. If one of the relatives makes her something with bread, I will kindly inform them she doesn't like it. If she argues and says she wants the bread from the relative, then so be it and I will again serve her bread, reminding her ever more that she can't refuse it from only me. Yes, I will be a bitch about it. :)

You know, reading this back I feel like I am one of the most selfish people around. I know it porobably sounds like I hate my grandmother. But I don't. She is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She is intelligent and smart. She did more when faced with major adversity than obviously I am capable of. When my grandfather died she finished raising three kids (my oldest aunt was already in college) by herself. The youngest was six years old. Until the last couple of years, she was involved in her church in every way she could be. She was an amazing card shark whom you dreaded/adored playing Rummy with. She used to joke and laugh.

I just feel like I lost my real grandmother a few years ago when she started going downhill. She doesn't joke anymore. She doesn't play cards or sing with the choir. She doesn't go anywhere. She just sleeps. She just exists. And Mom and I have an existence that revolves around her existence. So, yes, I am selfish. I want my real grandmother back. I want to be able to go back to college and actually make something of myself and my life. I want to date. I want to have more than one or two friends again. I just want everybody to be happy. Is that really so much to ask?

Monday, September 18, 2006

After a "brief" hiatus...(long)

Okay, so it wasn't so brief. I've been in a funk, I admit it.

Mom and I managed to go on our vacation. We went from Scranton to Corning then Rochester; Rochester to Lockport then Niagara/Buffalo; Buffalo to Niagara (Canadian side) then Burlington; Burlington to a few shops between there and Toronto, one verrrry long street in Toronto then Kingston; Kingston to Gananoque then somewhere between Gananoque and Syracuse; somewhere near Syracuse to Lafayette, then Ithaca to Corning to Big Flats; Big Flats to Gilbertsville then Oneonta to East Meredith and back to Scranton.

Phew! Yes, we did all of that in a week - Sunday morning to Saturday night. At Corning we made glass beads (Mom's turned out nicer. *pout*) which we picked up on the way back. We also took in the Ansel Adams exhibit that was at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. *DROOL* We thought we'd see something at Rochester, but ended up just going to Lockport, where we toured a cave (man-made with some cool growths starting) and took a cruise on the locks of the Erie Canal. Then we hit Niagara on the American side. We went to the Cave of the Winds (which you actually can't go in anymore) and I got drenched. Mom managed to get a picture of me about to be washed away by the Bridal Veil Falls. At the end there's a place where you can donate the sandals they give you to a third world charity. We did. On our quest to find a hotel room for the night we stopped at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine and lit candles for my brother and a few others we know. We also took pictures of any saints that had bearing on our names, except for my nephew's saint who was conspicuously absent. I guess no patrons have liked Christmas yet.

Tuesday we crossed into Canada. We exchanged a good bit of our currency, since we didn't want to use the check card unless we had to. We went on the Maid of the Mist, a suspended car over the Whirlpool, a walk past the Rapids and saw the Flower Clock and the Butterfly Conservatory. You know, for sheer size and the mist it gives off, Horseshoe Falls is impressive and dramatic, but I think Bridal Veil Falls is just prettier. It has different layers and more happening in a smaller space. But I was most impressed by the Butterfly Conservatory, if that makes any sense at all. As we were taking the shuttle to it, we met a family with ties to this area and the daughter and I started talking books, of course. (Just when you thought you were safe from nerds...) When we did get in, a Blue Morpho landed right on Mom's glasses. Unfortunately, she had the camera and I was unable to get a shot of it, but it was cool. I think we spent an hour there, just marveling at them.

Wednesday we used as a shopping day. There wasn't really anything we wanted to see in Toronto that we couldn't pass on, so we went to a genealogy store (Heaven!), two quilting shops and spent about an hour traveling down one mile of Yonge Street (Toronto's seeming equivalent to Broadway) to get to a needlework shop, where I made out pretty well - bought this in chart-form. YES! Thursday was mixed. We went to a few shops in Kingston, where both of us cleaned up and I got some very good advice about needlework. Then we went to Gananoque and took the three-hour 1000 Islands tour. I relaxed and stitched through most of it. I did fall madly in love with one of the houses on the lake. When I get the film developed, I'll post a picture of it. Mom and I crossed back into the States after that, much to the amusement of the Border guard, I think. When asked if we had anything to declare, ditzy me asked if a Wendy's salad counts. He just shook his head and passed us through. Oh, cool tidbits, we bought my aunt some GF beer called La Messagere and Wal*Marts in Canada sell KinderEggs at the registers!

Friday we picked a bushel of apples (Paula Reds, absolutely delicious) at Beak & Skiff Apple Farm (oh, their caramel apple fudge is to die for!) and on the way to Ithaca to see the Falls (lovely as they were) we lost our damned muffler! Of course, being so close to Syracuse, we had to wander into the garage of a G-Mac fan. I can't get away from that kid for anything! Mom and the mechanic had a fine time talking about him, his prospects and his personal life. I just wanted him to look at the darned car so we could go. *sigh* He ended up taking the muffler (the big tank part) off and we rolled it in one of the ponchos we had gotten at Niagara and stuffed it in the trunk. Then we went to Ithaca and Corning, where we picked up our beads. I guess it's only fair that hers turned out prettier. We both liked my flower better last time.

Oh, and a very important thing happened at Big Flats, beside us getting "all lost and confused". I finally got to go to a bookstore! Let me tell you, I will never ever ever go an entire week without reading at least one book again. I swear I was suffering the DT's.

Our last day was spent in Central New York. We hit another quilt shop in Gilbertsville, the Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta and Hanford Mills in East Meredith. We had time on the way home, so we went to Cinemark and took in a movie (WTC - kinda depressing, but what else can you expect?) . Then we went home.

Okay, I'm totally amazed/amused. I was looking on Yahoo! for a map so I could make sure I wrote down all the places we hit in Canada and found out that you can view a satellite image of an address. I just had to put in my home address. I can see my house! You can see the park and ball-field right across from me and the culm banks with the idiot construction across the road from me and even the place at the crick that I hang out at.

Anway, that's my vacation post, about two weeks overdue...