Monday, June 12, 2006

Chaos and healing

For those wondering where I've been :-)

After RT, I flew from Florida to Ohio to help get my grandmother moved to Texas. She's 76 and now has full-blown alzheimers, but she's had frontotemporal dementia setting in for quite some time, I think. She's been obsessive about collecting things for years and years. She had fairly normal collections like coin banks (she had about 200) and miniatures, but also things like velcro wallets, cheap costume jewelry, slippers, anything glass--candle holders, lampshades, globes for light fixtures, ashtrays, brandy snifters, ohmygod she had a lot of useless glass stuff. And CLOTHES! She had six large dressers and five good-sized closets stuffed full of clothes she got at Goodwill. Clothes were stacked tall on top of those dressers AND on two twin beds and a rollaway bed. She had clothes hung on the backs of every door in the house, in the bathrooms on makeshift clothing rods... and other places I can't recall at the moment. Many of the clothes were way too small or way too big, in colors she hates, or in styles she hates (she hates purple and she hates turtlenecks). I was thinking she must have gone naked as a child, but her family was never that bad off, even with 13 kids. Every single thing in the house held some sentimental value. She often couldn't remember where she got it, but she was certain someone gave it to her, so it was therefore indispensable. Anyway... Cleaning, yard sale, gramma throwing temper tantrums, loading a truck, reloading a truck, etc., etc. All with my two very cooperative and helpful children at my heels since they hadn't seen me all the previous week.

We drove back to Texas, stopping to spend $700 to fix the water pump on my grandmother's car. While mom and gramma were waiting for the car to be fixed, the kids and I went on ahead and got home on Wednesday evening, about twenty minutes ahead of my sister, who drove in from Alabama. Mom and Gramma got in on Thursday afternoon. Gramma was pouty and angry.

The very next day (Friday, June 2nd), we were all at my mom's, and I noticed Gramma headed out the back door with her purse and keys. Knowing she was mad at me for aiding and abetting her 'kidnapping' *rolling my eyes*, I sent my dad to intercept her. When that didn't work, I went out to try to at least get some information from her. She wouldn't say where she was going, wouldn't even consider letting me drive her wherever she needed to go. When I asked "Where can we find you if we get worried?" she said--very tersely--"Well don't worry." Then she got in the car with her dog and left. I was mad that she was acting so childish, but after a few minutes, started looking for my sandals so I could go look for her, just for peace of mind. Then we heard sirens, and saw the city's white fire truck head down the street (my mom lives out in the boonies so we're still puzzling about that). Within maybe forty seconds, I'd located my sandals, keys, and purse, and was out the door, didn't tell anybody goodbye or what I was doing. My sister saw me go, though.

Two miles from my mom's house, I see the flashing lights, and then I see the back end of my grandmother's car on the wrong side of the road and facing the wrong direction. I'm still in denial--maybe it's a car that looks like my grandmother's-- but I call my mom on my mobile, and then see the Ohio plates on the car. "It's her!" I yell as I pull wonky between two other cars. I see my grandmother lying in the middle of the road, with EMT's working on her. I jump out of the car and run, yelling "That's my grandmother!" A police officer stops me, and my mom is on the phone in a panic, my dad left without her when she yelled 'Go!'. My hands are shaking so much I can barely hold on to the phone and I'm sobbing but too hysterical for tears. The car is 'C'-shaped, the passenger-side doors slammed all the way into the driver's side. I see her dog in a heap on the side of the road. I hear the words "thrown from the vehicle" and "not wearing a seatbelt" and "head injury." They won't let me near her, and my mother is on the phone hijacking my sister and her car. The stop sign is laying in the street, and blood, and another woman is sitting in the driver's seat of a brown minivan with its front end smashed in. Somewhere in there my dad arrives on the scene. My mom is telling me to tell the EMT's to take her to a specific hospital but they're adamantly refusing. The officer explains that they're taking her to the best trauma center, where they take cops who are shot or injured.

Sister and mom arrive just in time to follow the ambulance carrying Gramma. I've calmed a bit, and give the officer in charge as much information as I can. We tend to the dog, who is alive but obviously not going to make it. Then I head back to my mom's house to call aunts and uncles and cousins, and get whatever we're going to need for a hospital vigil. Dad calls to tell me Dinky, gramma's beloved Yorkie, has died.

But gramma survived! Fractured skull, broken ribs, multiple lacerations, and a collapsed lung, but nothing seriously life threatening. She spent five days in ICU, another two 'on the floor' (i.e. in a regular room), and is now home. She's got 12 staples in her head, and about 50 in the rest of her body. But she's hobbling around with a walker on bruised/swollen legs and ankles.

The other driver, miraculously, was uninjured. Just a few bruises and a bit of stiffness. The accident was totally Gramma's fault--she ran a stop sign and barreled into 55-mph cross-traffic. However, there have been many serious-injury accidents at that same intersection, another one just four days later.

Between visiting hours with Gramma in the hospital, my dad and I moved the cheesy laminate 'guest room' furniture out of Gramma's room. I painted the walls a pretty butterwheat yellow, shampooed the carpet (they were nasty since she didn't make Dinky wear his diaper in her bedroom), and moved in the set my mom and her sisters once used (two twin beds, a dresser and a vanity) that Gramma had insisted we haul to Texas. Bought all new bedding and sewed up matching curtains. Stamped butterflies on the walls, and re-wallpapered the adjoining bathroom, and bought new bath rugs and towels. I held my breath as my grandmother saw it all for the first time, but she grinned, and even without her glasses, noticed the big butterflies on the walls.

So that's where I've been for the last month. I'm still playing relief nursemaid at my mom's house, and trying to catch up on laundry and housework. But hopefully life will calm down for the next few weeks. :-) Here's hoping for a very boring rest of the month...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Somebody please explain to me...

News flash: Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's biggest oil company, said first-quarter profits climbed to $8.4 billion from $7.86 billion.
News flash: Valero Energy Corp., the country's largest refiner, reported the highest first-quarter profits in its history, $849 million, up 60 percent (SIXTY PERCENT!!!!) from the same period last year.

Something is very wrong with this picture.

To mollify Americans, some senators are pushing for a $100 rebate check to all taxpayers, perhaps as a bribe to get us to quit whining about the government's crappy handling of the entire situation.

Okay, yeah, I wouldn't mind getting a check for $100, no strings attached. But there are always strings with the government. Rebate now likely means higher taxes later, and if they continue to give the oil companies huge tax breaks, nothing is solved. Besides, $100 will only pay for two tanks of gasoline.

And this nonsense about easing environmental regulations.... Can you imagine the utter glee at the headquarters of those gas companies? They're already making hundreds of millions of dollars MORE, and now they may get to save money on cleaning up their oil? WOOHOOO! Pass the Cuervo! Say hello to my little dead frog.