Thursday, January 31, 2013

Craftmatic Adjustable Beds and Auto Launch Recliners - Dad's House

One thing I made sure Dad had during a recent visit was one of those chairs that lifts him up to the standing position, then, he can lean into it and gently have it sit him back down (and I have to say the DeBeers Diamond  "three months salary" marketing staff have nothing on the folks that sell furniture for older folks).

He loves it, one more thing to help him stay in his home. He recovered from his stroke a few years back better than anyone thought, but he now has a hard time standing and sitting without a little help.  Every morning, he gets up and gets settled in it and reads the daily message from "Our Daily Bread" and then the Bible.  That's something he's done every day since retirement, after his morning work out (Dad was a Golden Glove Boxer and still has a very strict exercise regiment that included swimming and Nautulus at the Y with my Step Mom well into their 80's).  Then it's time to get dressed and get about enjoying the day.

Actually, I checked the chair out when he was sleeping in one day, it's quite comfortable and seems to be built better than some of my expensive yuppie furniture.

But dang, I was hoping for an auto launch feature that would get  me airborne. 

Initiate Launch Sequence!  (that's it??)

I'm on the road, but was able to check on him.  Big Bro is starting round two of chemo next Friday, but he's handling it well and was able to spend the night with Dad the other night at the house.

The family room, where the chair is housed, has barely changed since I was in sixth grade.  The folks built it onto the house over what was most of our huge cement patio.  We took a vote as a family one year when I was in grade school. Vacation to Hawaii with the kids (the parents had already gone on their 25th anniversary alone) or add on a family room?  The kids decided it.  Family room!  We can play!  We can make noise.  We can spill stuff!  We can take the TV set completely apart with tools while they're at the grocery store (oh, dang, busted)

It has the previous living room carpeting down over the original harvest gold linoleum now and the drapes have been updated.  But much is unchanged. The 1970's fixtures for the fluorescent lights that Dad crafted by hand. Still there. That Mexican hat on the Wall?  A VERY embarrassing River dance gone South episode from some tap recital of mine.  The barre built into the wall where I did my ballet warm ups was removed and replaced with paneling.  It was there under the kitchen window that Mom once took out with a golf ball from the back yard when that was the back window to the house. Fore! (hey, I didn't know Mom knew that other word!)

On the walls are funny tin signs and Montana art.  On another wall are numerous awards and mementos from the community and  Uncle Sam, every single member of our family - Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, serving in Defense, Local or Federal Law Enforcement or the Armed Forces, with the Air Force and Navy battling it out for the best space. And the picture of Jesus, which has witnessed slumber parties, ping pong games (we'd set the table up inside in the winter) Loony Tunes, and probably cursing during that  1983 Minnesota-Nebraska college game.

The couch is new, but the quilt is one my Mom crocheted  in the 70's.  There is another one, but it sits in my linen closet, not where Barkley can chew on it, but where I can occasionally hold it, smell the scent of Chanel No. 5 that only exists in my memory.  It's where I can remember her hands working away on it while we kids watched westerns on TV and tried to outshoot Marshall Dillon with our little cap guns under the watchful eye of our Lord.

We've made just a few changes in the house.  The main bathroom, tub and shower were outfitted with handles and bars and a shower chair for ease of bathing.  We couldn't talk him into replacing his king sized water bed and TMI Red Velvet bedspread with a sensible mattress for his back, but if he wakes up at night with dreams of darkest blue and ash, and gets up, we've moved anything he might stumble into and fall.

The small bath by the family room, though, was in dire need of help.  It was always the "utility" bathroom, old faded paint, bare window, no storage at all, and small and hard to get around in as there was nothing for him to hold onto if his balance or strength waned.  But it's the one he uses the most.

Big Bro took care of the construction and I took care of the  paint and the decorating.

Still, with a full time home health aide I can arrange and lawn service Bro takes care of we are happy he can stay in his home. He originally said he wanted to move in with me when my Step Mom was diagnosed with cancer and I bought an old money pit of a big house on some property with a view of a small lake, a single story, no steps, "mother in law set up" outside of town, the original "Range." I hoped he'd be happy there. But she went into remission, with great thanksgiving, but was then diagnosed with Alzhemers.

He cared for her in his home through that, until her death, years more than we expected, but not easy years for him.  But as she was his cross, she was also his salvation and he refused to put her in a nursing home, even when she acted out in anger against her children, not recognizing her own life, but somehow, always recognizing him.

But after she was gone, he changed his mind. His Mom was from Indy, and he enjoyed it here, but he didn't want to leave where he's lived all these years.  He wanted to stay where his memories are, good or bad, in his own church, in that old house.  I  understood. 

This is the home in which his memories reside, in every furnishing that's 30, 40, 60 years old.  There have been other houses, for summer vacations and the old family home in Montana, but this modest little place was always the center of the family.  Outside, is the bed of my Mom's rose garden, replanted with other flowers now, yet still containing for him, those pink and red and coral buds and blossoms, long after they've fallen to dust, no more dead to him than the hands that tended them, the drops of blood they sometimes drew.

In that family room, he sits in his recliner and watches his favorite sports, while around him are the artifacts of loves never lost,  triumphs and defeats, as well as the living laughter of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Not one of them are related to him by blood, but by the strongest bond - family.

My room at home is virtually unchanged and that was not by my request, but his will. Photos of family and family and extended family all around.  The rainbow I painted on my walls in junior high. Dad said I could, but I had to use leftover paint which is why my rainbow is every shade of totally tacky 1970's paint we had.  (yes, we had rooms painted those colors!)

There is no view. There used to be a view of beautiful mountains, but they are hidden from where we sit by tall, big box marts. He refused to sell when they literally bought up several blocks, RE-zoned residential and commercial, so we look out the windows to the vast walls of a commercial business, their parking lot lights illuminating the place like Attica Prison during a break. Curtains keep the light out at night, sort of.  Dad realizes the value of the home just went to zip, but he doesn't care. It's his home,  it's our home.  It's where we lived, and it's where he will pass, hopefully and quietly in his favorite chair, with his family around, his Bible open and a can of cold beer waiting for when the game is called.

He knows his days are short, we all do. But he's very happy, lousy view and all. There's Big Bro and his kids nearby.  I fly out as often as I can, becoming an expert on the cheap air fares (how many stops?)  My step brother drives six hours to take him to lunch and until very recently, out for a game of golf.  He has friends, good ones, but new ones, as all of his original group has passed on. He's active in the church, and he eats very well with a hot meal daily from the sweet lady that is his home health aide and the snacks and small meals I leave for him in little freezer containers between visits and Big Bro's cooking, which is always good.

Around the house are small sayings, quotes that mean things to him, verses from the Bible.  "This is the Day the Lord hath Made, Let us Rejoice and Be Glad in It" is one that always makes me think of him. Each day is a gift from the Lord, he says, and I can't disagree.

Big Bro and I will make sure he's safe and happy, however he wants to live. With Big Bro ill, there's more for me to do, but I don't mind in the slightest, as they would both do the the same, and more, for me. I can't say what the future will bring, but one thing my brother and I are both agreed on. Dad has outlived his wives, and his first born child, we're going to fight to make sure he does not experience any more loss of what he holds dear. (OK Bro, I'll cancel the Acme Rocket Propelled RV6 order - beep beep!)

- Brigid


  1. I think two Acme Extra-Large Bottle Rockets attached to the chair would help with the airborne launch... Beep, Beep....

    The gals and I are still keepin' all of you in prayer...

    Dann in Ohio

  2. Again, all my thoughts and prayers to you and yours. I hope that I can provide as much when the time comes for mine.

  3. "Each day is a gift from the Lord"

    Each day, each life, and the love of family, my friend :)

  4. The Lord be with you and yours.

    Our Daily Bread? My mother used to send me copies of those when I was in the Army.

  5. Your love for each other is obvious in every line. You're a good daughter, and he's a lucky dad.

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  7. Dann - thanks. It's much appreciated.

    Keads - It's not easy, but it's a burden much lighter than some have borne for us.

    Blue - thanks.

    Pink - you, as well. Dad still sends them, in a fat envelope with a hand written letter each time. When I'm done, I pass them on to team members or the troops I send care package to each month.

    Rev Paul - I've made some dumb decisions in my life, with regards to horsepower, people and intentions, but Dad always understood and forgave, like his Father before him.

  8. That is the trouble with those assistance gadgets, they don't do anything at high speeds, and plugging them into 220 to make them go faster is not covered under the warranty.

    Scary thing about the colors in that "rainbow", we have found every single one of them on the walls in this old house of ours, ugh.

    Continued prayers for you and your family.

  9. That was beautiful, Brigid. Wish you'd try your hand at a novel, something along the lines of Norman McLean's A River Runs Through It.

  10. Your words ring with love like a peal from the finest bell. My respects to your honorable father and our prayers for your brother.

  11. I probably couldn't love you or your father more, but you push the line wench! Don't hate me because I'm beautiful! *laughs* Sorry, had not choice!

  12. Kodachrome was a movie film too...
    Yeah, we had those rainbow colors on our walls at home too...
    My Dad's 92, and is living with us, (finally, as he was able to care for himself at their, His and my Mom's, Castle.
    You have the most colorful way of opening the memory flood gates of 30, 40, year and older memories.
    I, myself put that Selectric Typewriter back together again, working, I must add, even after I was busted.
    Thank You for your sharing.
    Rich in NC

  13. We got my Mom one of those chairs, although not as nice as the one in the photo. I agree with the Rev. about the very obvious love in the family and continue to pray for all of you. Peace and Blessings.

  14. Miss Brigid,

    You have a beautiful gift for expressing yourself, and I admit deep envy. I wish you and your family only the very best. I enjoy your blog and many thanks for taking the time to share your life with us.

    All my best


  15. What a wonderful daughter and sister you are. Always enjoy your posts Brigid. I must confess we have one of those rocket launchers a chairs. My wife has MS and uses it quite often. It is a great help. In these ever changing and challenging times having a "rock" to support you is critically important. You're a rock!

  16. God Bless you,for helping your Dad stay in his home.I know the feeling,it doesn't always make sense,but we're happier when we're in our home,with all out "stuff".
    And God Bless you for sharing your storys with us,you don't owe us that,but we appreciate your sentiments and your way with words.
    Also,the quilt on the couch is crocheted(sp?),not knit,am I right?

  17. Thank you all of you, and yes, Bill, it was crocheted, my error, and that's updated. She used to do the afghans, potholders, you name it, all in autumn colors, her and my favorites.

    Big Bro's hair started falling out today. What's on top is thin so that isn't bothering him much, but he's always had a very well groomed but long and full red beard, and watching that come out today I think was tough. He's still positive for the future, and fighting hard. Dad is distracted by Super Bowl Sunday (he's a HUGE sports fan. One time while I was making him this fancy 4 course dinner at home, he wanders out to the kitchen to give me a hug and to tell me he loves me. I look at him and grin and say. "it's half time, isn't it". It was. :-)

    thank you all, for your continued thoughts and prayers for us.

  18. Where are two trusty Giblemites when you need them?

    (Ask your dad that. If he's a Past Master or has taken the York Rite Past Master degree, he'll recognize the reference. :) )

  19. Fuzzy - and are called in the First Book of Kings (v, 18) stone-squarers. :-)

  20. What Bro needs is one of those crocheted caps that come with an attached beard. I'm sure one could get a beard as long as one wanted that way.

    And my father-in-law had one of those recliners, moons ago. The grandkids loved it. Although, I'm pretty sure they were hoping for a launch sequence, too. FIL was diabetic and the neuropathy had spread to the point that anything below his knees was either numb or tingling with pins and needles, and he often couldn't tell if his feet were actually on the floor. That chair helped. It yanked on my heart every time I saw it after he passed away in 1999.


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