Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten

I got in contact with my 401k plan administers and they sent me the forms for a hardship withdrawal. While waiting for the paperwork, Rebecca talked me into keeping Mom's wishes of being buried at Brookside where she and Dad bought 4 burial plots back in 1959. I made an appointment to get Mom a pre-paid funeral plan there. On the Wednesday morning that Christina and I were going to Brookside Funeral home, my truck started hesitating when I went to pass a log truck. I made it to Christina's house and parked the truck. We went on to the funeral home in her truck and picked out a nice service for Mom. But they wanted 10% down to start the process. We left and picked up a fuel filter for my truck. My truck started normally after the filter change, but it soon died and would not start again. I called AAA to hire a wrecker to haul me and my truck to the repair garage. I really wanted to get home and to bed, as it was noon and I wanted to get as many hours sleep as possible for work that night. Finally the wrecker arrived. The young wrecker driver couldn't believe I was an Aircraft Mechanic, much less that I had changed the fuel filter by myself. I told the service manager what was happening and they rented me a wore out Jeep Grand Cherokee for $35 a day. While I was putting my misc. commuting essentials in the Jeep from my truck, I got a call from the Chaplain of the nursing home.

He told me my Mother passed on at 1:20. It was November 19th. I went numb. I called Christina and she told me to drive home slowly. I called Rebecca on the way home and told her Mom was gone. She said she was packing to come home then. I was so relieved to hear that. But I had to concentrate on driving the Jeep as it was wondering all over the road and the rear end sounded like it was going to come apart.

I was so numb, I didn't know what to do. Cristina came over and stayed the evening. Rebecca got home around 11 that night. My cell phone and home phone were ringing off their hooks. I had a message from the funeral home stating we had another appointment at 2 the next afternoon. Then we found out why pre paid funeral plans are worth it. Instead of the $10,300 dollar funeral we picked out, I needed to get $11,403 to bury Mom and there would be no burial service until the funeral home was paid. This just one day after a prepaid quote! I inquired about having the service in the Chapel of the Chimes out in the middle of the cemetery and asked to see it.

It is breath taking for me to look at. This Chapel is just gorgeous. It started life as a church in downtown Houston. In 1905, they tore it down and rebuilt it in the cemetery. Meanwhile, I had a call informing me my truck's fuel pump went out and now it had to have a new assembly of both pumps in the fuel tank. That sat me back $1600 that I was not planning on spending. The next morning, Friday, Rebecca and I went to Mom and Dad's bank and got the loan I needed until my 401k disbursed funds in 2-3 weeks. Then we went to my bank to get a credit denial letter for a loan so my 401k plan would disperse. I think back now and have always gotten credit denial letters from my bank, Wells Fargo, yet Mom and Dad's bank gave a $5,000 loan back in June to get Mom into the nursing home and now they granted me another loan, for $11,403. Wow......I told Dad's banker I will change my bank to Chase and bring both my kids after all this is over. I needed some solitude, so I got some tractor therapy that afternoon.

I took about 3 hours burning 3 large brush piles. In between tending the fires with the Big RED Beast, I started digging a large pine stump that was always in my way while digging bank sand out of the gully. Christina came back over and gave me moral support while getting my tractor therapy. That evening my long time friend, Sara Rook, took us all out for dinner. She stayed to midnight when I drove my Mahindra out to "condense" the fires. I needed to deploy the 511's thumb to re stack logs on the fire. My canopy lights do not illuminate out to the sides as far as my backhoe can swing, so Christina came along and spotted logs for me to pick up with a flash light. It was getting cold, so being close to the fires while adding large logs and stumps and limbs felt good. Saturday morning, I got to sleep late, then Rebecca, Christina and I went dress shopping for something worthy for Mom to wear for her services. It blew me away when we were at the resale shop and Rebecca found a beautiful dress and the owner said it was only a dollar. It had a stain down low, but would be fine for this occasion! Finally, a small break!

The rest of the weekend was a blur. Monday found us getting ready to get Dad and go to the funeral home for the viewing and to meet friends and family. After 2 hours, Dad stated he was ready to leave. So I stayed and Rebecca drove Dad back to the nursing home, then returned. Since Mom was the youngest and last to pass on of her family, there was only one aunt (Mom's sister-in-law) alive and she attended with her son, daughter and grand daughter. Before they arrived, my friends Albert and Tim were keeping me, my other friends, and two cousins laughing in stitches about his family's chaotic get together's. The evening passed way too quickly as flowers and plants arrived. Soon it was time to say goodnight.

Tuesday I had planned to get Dad early for Mom's 2 o'clock service. Dad was almost finished dressing with the help of his nurse and an aide when we arrived. Dad kept looking for stuff after he dressed, but would not tell us what it was. We kept trying to get him to go with us. We finally got him to the door, only to have him get sick and throw up. We changed his shirt and tie, but didn't have a change of dress pants. He threw up again just as we were getting to the cemetery. And again while leaving the Chapel and going to the grave site. Poor Dad had to sit through both services with a small blanket from my truck on his lap. He can not hear well and lost his hearing aid in the nursing home, so Rebecca repeated what his pastor said during the service. Bless his heart. I cried all the way through the service. Thank God for Rebecca and Luke. They attended to Dad and his wheelchair, while Christina made sure I didn't do anything stupid from just being numb. The services were a blur and we were headed home. Rebecca rode back with Luke and they took all the plants home, while Christina and I took Dad back to the nursing home.

When we got back home, I was just a zombie. I kept hearing Rebecca and Christina tell me to eat. Dad's church brought over a feast of food and deserts. I didn't know where to start.

The next day, the day before Thanksgiving, I started making candy and Yum Yum Salad. Thursday I cooked while Rebecca went to get Dad. I was watching the local turkey day parade, in Houston, and cried when I heard a marching band play White Christmas! Christina arrived and helped me set the table. My brother and his wife came over. Rebecca and Dad arrived, but Dad would not get out of the truck. Everyone but I was out in the driveway trying to talk Dad into coming in for dinner. I went out and saw that Dad was pale. He said he wasn't feeling good. I told everyone I was taking Dad home and to go ahead and eat. I knew Luke had to go to work at 4 and Christina at 5. Christina drove while I sat in the back seat of my truck. I had lost it again, crying, in the house while grabbing my purse and keys. After we got Dad back to his room and in bed, we left. I called his nurse to ask her to check on Dad again. He said he just did and that he checked his blood sugar count and it hit 210. This was about 90 over what he called normal for Dad. No wonder Dad didn't feel good! Needless to say, I ate Thanksgiving dinner alone right at dusk!

This last weekend, I replaced the brake pads on Rebecca's truck. I used the loader bucket of the 6520 as a large floor jack and raised Rebecca's truck with my loader bucket under the trailer hitch. Then we put up the lighted cross on the barn and added roof outline lighting.

I have added a few more photos. You can view them here. I plan on adding more around the barn frame work and maybe down the ridge. Stop back later to see how I did the lights.

hugs, Brandi

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Monday, November 3rd, I woke up to a phone call from the nursing home's social worker. She explained Mom had not been eating and told me that we had two choices. One was hospice care and the other was a feeding tube. I, being awoke from a deep sleep, said feeding tube and hung up and dozed off. Then another call came from a nurse explaining I needed to sign some papers the feeding tube procedure. I could come in the next morning to sign. Since I took off work being sick Monday evening, I had to get up and drive down to The Woodlands to sign the papers. Before I left, another call came in. The nurse explained they were calling for an ambulance to take Mom to the hospital. I went back to bed. That evening I got up early and called the hospital to find out what room Mom was in. I was told she was still in the emergency room. I was concerned. I got ready for work early and drove to the emergency room to find Mom kind of delirious. She was kind of chanting and hollering. I calmed her down and went to find a nurse. The nurse informed me they were waiting for an ICU room to open up. Mom's kidneys were shutting down. I called Christina and she came to meet me and Mom. The nurse explained it all again when Christina arrived and stated that we needed to start thinking care and comfort. I felt bad enough now not to go to work. I called in work and told them my Mom was dying. I barely could finish saying that sentence because I was crying so hard. They gave me emergency leave. We stayed with Mom awhile until she was given a sedative and went to sleep. The next morning we went back early enough and waited for the doctor. He said Mom went into septic shock and her kidneys were failing, but they saved her in time and her kidneys would be fine and mentioned long term hospital care after a feeding tube was installed.

Two days later while visiting Mom in ICU, the nurse talked to me and explained that dementia patients have several plateaus and all functions drop between each plateau. What we have been seeing the last few weeks was one of those plateaus. She said Mom would not be getting better and that the family needed to think about just comfort and care. I talked to the nursing home and made arrangements for Dad to come visit Mom, if the worst happened quickly. The nursing home van brought Dad over one afternoon while I slept. I was still recovering from that sinus cold and needed all the rest I could get. Christina was there when Dad arrived. Dad said sweet nothings to his bride of over 59 years. He kissed her all over her face and said "Hi Honey Bunny". Christina said Dad stayed an hour. Way longer then I thought he would. The next day Mom's doctor called (woke me up again) and said to think of just comfort and care for Mom and stated she would be going back to the nursing home. Good I thought. That way Dad could see Mom more. I was surprised to find Mom was back in the same room with Dad. Glory be, thank you Lord for letting Mom be with Dad now.

I decided to get organized with the funeral home. Mom and Dad have 4 plots down in Houston at Brookside Cemetery. Dad bought these in Feb. 1959 for $415 for all four plots. They are now selling for $3995 each, in the immediate area of their plots. Months ago I took Mom and Dad by the local funeral home and cemetery. I asked them if they would like to be buried up here instead of down in Houston and both said Yes. So I was going to sale these 4 plots, but the bad economy has hampered this endeavor. Instead I talked the funeral homes into swapping 2 plots for 2 plots. I also tried to get them to take the third and fourth plots in trade for credit on Mom's funeral expenses. They won't do that. So now I need to find an outlet to borrow about $11,000 for funeral and burial costs. Just to have a simple service at the funeral home costs $7100. Then add a casket and a outer burial container (concrete vault) starting at $595 and $895. All this doesn't include opening and closing the grave, which is another $1200-1400 dollars. This is all above the cost of those 4 plots Dad paid $415 for. So they got you good dollar wise, unless you have an extra acre you are wanting to turn into your own private cemetery.

I plan on calling my 401k plan to see if I can take a catastrophic withdrawal to pay for Mom's funeral and maybe start a pre plan for Dad. Dad is doing well and alert. He has been watching Fox news each time we visit. He is eating hearty and keeps requesting ice cream cones.

This last week Booger was caught by the dog catcher running down the street. Seems his girlfriend up the street is in heat again. The law here in Montgomery County states dogs may run loose in yards, but not in streets. I was lucky that the animal control officer didn't fine me. So for now Booger is in "doggie" jail while hooked onto a cable run that goes across the back yard. I guess I need to take him to the Vet to get fixed. Then maybe he will stop his street side wanderings. Friday morning I came home to see Booger running across the yard chasing a squirrel. Seems his collar broke. Christina had bought him a new RED collar to match everything else that is RED around here! So for now Booger is running around with a RED collar.

The only time I got near the Big RED Beast was yesterday morning. I woke up earlier then planned to visit funeral homes, so I decided it would be a good time to take the lawn mower trailer to Top Flight. I had to crank the 6520 up to raise her loader, so I could pull the trailer out of the barn. I really needed to grade the driveway again after the last heavy rain shower. But Sunday I slept in late and really didn't do anything outside. It was down to 50 degrees and I just decided to be lazy and a couch potato before cleaning up to visit Mom and Dad.

So stop back later to see if Booger gets into more mischief.

Oh yeah, Sneaky learned how to climb into my laundry hamper. Check out his new bachelor pad here!

hugs, Brandi