Thursday, July 31, 2008


It has been about a month since I last wrote on this blog, and what a month it's been.

My son, John, and his family came to visit for nine days. He has three kids; two girls, ages six and three, and a baby boy, aged nine-months. Zander! What a great name, and what a great kid. I don't think I've ever seen such a happy baby. We all had a wonderful time, getting to know the kids better, playing, going to the pool and the beach, and all the other fun stuff that goes with kids and Florida.

But, as well as the visit went, it was not without problems. Mainly, I'm having money problems., so we couldn't spoil them quite as much as we would have liked, and we had to cancel the trip to the Disney universe.

I graduated on May 3rd and I've been trying to start a freelance writing business. It is a tough business to get started on a shoestring. I spend hours each day, sending query letters and emails to job listings, but with minimal results. It must be tough for everyone out there, because the competition is fierce.

I originally wanted to go out and get a job outside the home, but Mom and Dad require almost constant care. Rarely a week that goes by where I don't have to take one or the other of them to a doctor's appointment. I also have to do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, banking, and on and on. Dad wants me to work at home, and that seems best for them. In fact, if I go to the library or take too long at the grocery store, he calls to check up on me. "Anne, I just wondered if you've abandoned us?" So I've been trying to find telecommute jobs or freelance writing, editing or proofreading jobs. I've had a few, but for very little (or no) money.
Of course, no work means I need some help on my bills. Dad has stepped up and taken on the extra burden, but I know it is freaking him out. Every minute I spend holding his hand and re-assuring him is a minute I could be making some money.

I don't know if anyone gets how hard this is for me. Not to cry in my cocoa, but I really hate not having money. I get depressed when I don't know how I'm going to pay a bill. Moreover, I hate borrowing money. And borrowing from my elderly and dependant parents is the worst of all.

So here is my quandary; I want to cut and run. Don't worry, I'm not talking about abandoning Mom and Dad. But, I want to get out of the house and get a job. This will mean that I have to hire someone to come in each day and feed them, and so on. I will also need a flexible schedule, so that I can take them to doctors' appointments. Or maybe I can work a swing shift and take them to appointments in the mornings. I would have to earn enough to pay someone, so that rules out any low paying jobs. So where does that leave me? I'm too old and fat to be a stripper, so what else pays over $20 per hour and is a swing shift job? Jewel thief?

See, this is why I wanted to be a freelancer; if I could just get the money coming in.
I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Our trip to the Social Security Office.

Last week, Dad decided that he was confused about a letter he received from Social Security. I don't want to go into a great deal of detail here about the letter or the issue. Suffice to say, it was regarding Mom's Medicare benefits. We had recently changed her insurance and so this made changes to her Medicare, she would be getting more money each month. I spent half a day on the phone getting answers about this letter and found out that it was nothing to be concerned about. But Dad wasn't satisfied with my explanation. He insisted that we go to the Social Security Administration offices. And since it was regarding Mom's account, she had to go along. Of course, it is impossible to get out of the house before noon. But this time, they were in rare form, we got to the place at 2pm.

As we sat there, Mom made what she thought were whispered comments about the people around her, but her whispered comments are in a stage whisper and in the range of comments that a small child might make. In other words, all of the self-censorship that we learn as children was missing, so she feels free to say things like, "Look at how fat that guy is, you think he gets tired pushing that belly around?" I just try not to be embarrassed for her.

After about 2 hours of waiting, a very young couple sat down. They asked me if we had been waiting long, they seemed eager to strike up a conversation. It turned out that they were newlyweds, just back from their honeymoon. Mom and Dad shared that they had been married for 62 years and the youngsters were amazed at that. The boy said, "I hope we will be married that long."

We continued to chat for a few minutes, then Mom did an amazing thing. She got up and in a conspiratorial way, she sat down next to the young bride and tried to force her to take Mom's two diamond rings. The girl was amazed and flustered, and the boy was clearly embarrassed. Dad howled in protest.

Mom said, "I can give these rings to who ever I want, I found them in an old house. They didn't cost me a penny."

Dad said, "I gave you those rings for our 50th anniversary. I bought them at Zales."

And so we went back and forth for about ten minutes, Mom insisting that the rings were essentially worthless and that she could give them away, Dad insisting that he would be very hurt if she did and the young couple insisting that it was far too generous a gesture. I tried to resolve the whole thing but no one was really listening to me.

Finally, the clerk called our number and as we were walking over to her window, Mom forced the rings into the hand of the young man. He then slickly passed them back to me and I put them into my pocket.

Once we got back into the car, I gave the rings back to Mom and she had already forgotten the whole event. Of course, Dad's feelings were hurt, so he wouldn't let it go. When we got home, he got out the receipt for the rings and showed it to Mom. She said, "Well, of course I wouldn't give something like that away."

The funny thing is, the clerk told Dad exactly what the people on the phone had told me. So the whole trip was unnecessary.

Friday, May 23, 2008


This is a poem that my mom wrote in 1972, when I was a senior in high school. Mom never graduated from high school, her mother made her drop out and go to work. But Mom was self-educated. This is a Shakespearean sonnet, a very difficult and technical poetry form.

The reason I include this here is to illustrate her dementia. When I graduated from college three weeks ago, we all went out for dinner. Mom could quote this poem verbatim. But, she couldn't remember that we had just gone to my graduation, or that she lives in Largo, FL or even how old she is. So much of her day-to-day stuff is gone, but she can remember these beautiful words that she wrote.

In all, Mom has written nearly 100 poems and many stories, as well. I am in the process of editing and publishing that work for her. I'll include ordering information when it is ready. In the mean time, here is a sample of her poetry.


When I despair of all I cannot be,

Since limits set by time and space and man,

Compels me take each passing day to see,

Beyond the dark to life's more noble plan.

Aside from pain and struggling that began,

Would I but in perfection strive to be;

The tuning fork whereon harmonies stand;

As music flows, the ebbing of the sea.

Resound upon my searching mind and heart!

Awaken then , my soul, to rise and rove

from toilsome chores and never-ending strife,

Becoming yet, an integrated part,

Of vessel held, not in the sheltered cove

But one that sails the rugged sea of life!

© By Margaret Reynolds Trapp
August 7, 1972

A Hell of a Way to Run a Hotel.

This is a story I wrote based on an actual conversation with my mom. It was last summer, when she was in the hospital.

A Hell of a Way to Run a Hotel.

“Annie, lock that door for me, will ya? I had people walking in and out of there all night. Anybody off the street can just walk right in here on me. Lock it.”

“Mom, I told you, that’s the door to the bathroom. Nobody is going to come in here from that door. That door doesn’t go outside.”

“Bull. I went out that door last night and I was walking in a huge field. It was full of these yellow flowers. Like a big field of yellow daisies, and the sun was shining. And that guy was there and he…was…doing… something? Anyway, and I saw your Dad and that little girl. And we needed to go over, and, well I can’t remember now…”

“Mom, what are you talking about, you didn’t go anywhere. You were right here in this hospital bed. You’re on the third floor. There can’t be any big field through there.”

“I’m in the hospital? This isn’t a hospital. What am I in the hospital for?”

“Don’t you remember? You fell in the bathtub and scraped your leg. The paramedics were worried about your blood pressure. So they brought you here, to this hospital. It was last night.”

“Paramedics? Annie, what are you talking about? I don’t remember any paramedics. This isn’t a hospital, it’s a hotel. This seedy joint, they have me in here in this old back porch, it looks like a mess. Full of all this old junk.”

I look around at the pristine walls and floors of the hospital room, taking in the IV stand, the vitals monitor hooked to my mother, the oxygen tube and drip of saline going in, the urine catheter going out. She seems so frail, her hair a white soft blur around her head. I need a moment to compose myself. What did my sister say, redirect, distract, change the subject. “Mom, I heard on NPR that there’s this guy who has to dress up as a whooping crane to go to work. He feeds whooping crane chicks and they try to fool the birds into thinking that the guy is their parent, that he is another whooping crane. Isn’t that crazy?”

“Oh my word,” she laughs. She fiddles with the blood-ox clip on her finger, the monitor beeping softly. “Honey, I hate to interrupt you but I have to get to a bathroom and pee. I’m gonna pee this bed if I don’t get up.” She moves in the narrow bed, tugging at the blankets.

“No Mom, you can’t get up, they have a Foley catheter in,” I say, using the medical term I heard from the nurse. “If you get up, it’ll pull out. Just go ahead and go, it's okay.”

She looks confused, more confused than usual. Her hand goes under the blankets to verify this information. “I don’t know. What do they have that in there for? I never heard of such a thing.”

“Just relax, Mom. Everything is okay. Hey, you know they said on the news today they tried to rescue a cat out of a tree… he was stuck up there for a week. They ended up using a fire hose, blasted that cat right out of that tree. They caught him with a big tarp, like a trampoline. He was wet and mad as hell, but he was alive.”

“Well, that’ll teach him,” she says. She looks around vaguely. I can see the next question forming behind her eyes.

“Hey, Mom. Did I tell you I quit my job? I was working at the orange juice factory but I couldn’t concentrate. Then they were going to hire me at the Goodyear plant, but I was too tired. I guess it was better than my job at the sewage treatment plant, where the boss was always giving me crap.”

She laughs. Simple puns and knock-knock jokes work best, now. She used to be able to follow elaborate stories. “You’re funny, Annie. Hey listen, do me a favor, lock that door for me, will ya? I had people coming in and out of there all night, last night. Lock it, okay?”

Monday, May 12, 2008

First day.

May 12, 2008

This is the first page of my new blog. I admit that I am inexperienced with this medium. I write, I create, I paint, but I have never blogged. (Is that even a verb?)

I've titled this blog The Younger We Get, because I am Anne Younger and no-body gets me. But also, because I intend to write here about my parents and their slow decline toward the ends of their lives. It sometimes feels like the older they are, the younger they get. They become more dependant and child-like with each day.

I am single and in my fifties. I just graduated from college last week. I moved in with my parents in the summer of 2004 to take care of them. Mom is 84 and has dementia and diabetes. She has a very short memory, about one or two minutes. Dad is 86 and has a weakening heart, back and knee pain, which makes it hard for him to get around. He had a pacemaker installed just over a year ago.

I will be writing about all the things that happen around here. Friends tell me that I should write about this stuff; maybe I can help others who are going through the same things. I also write to document my parents last years. At the very least, I will try to deal with some of the frustration. I feel like we are trying to fight nature, and to slow the march of time. Those all seem like good reasons to create a blog. Maybe I'll turn some of this blog into a book. We'll see.

I look forward to sharing my life with you.