Aging and the Aged

Mom&Tori_May 2016-graduation

My daughter & Mom – college graduation 2016

As some of you may have noticed, I have not been around WordPress and my blog as much as before. Lately, finding time to imagine, consider, research, ponder, gather images, then type away in a format and style that is minimally interesting for you and acceptable quality for me has been near non-existent. Well, not true exactly. I could do it late in the evening when I’m fatigued and must nevertheless wake just before sunrise or daybreak whether my mind and body want to or not. And since my last blog-post was June 9th you can see how well that is working. What is going on you ask as you all are banging down my front door? (sarcasm) What has changed?

Answer:  Life.

Life apart from the world-wide-web. Life beyond the internet and technology. Organic life of which sometimes/often affords us little time of our own. The epilogue of one life, the pre-epilogue of another life (my life) and the prime of lives for others, loved ones. This is what has changed.

“The Earlier Revision Needs Revising”

Around 1997 shortly after marrying, Mom and her second older (and quite wealthy) husband found a luscious 2,850-ish sq. ft. Ranchita-home on 10.5 acres on top a big hill overlooking the Guadalupe River. The vistas from inside the house through 34 windows or outside on the large back-patio shaded or semi-shaded, with daily or every other day or evening southerly breezes… are the stuff of epic tranquility and living. For two hard-working retirees, it was a dream come true.

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And then as they say, Nothing stays the same.

Mom has been widowed since 2006. For a few years after her late husband’s crippling heart-attack which put him in a wheelchair and months later his decline and death, she took the time to enjoy her life more, travel, and spend more time with good friends and family. She absolutely deserved it! She bought a newly used 32-foot RV or mobile home to travel the U.S. However, while doing these five years of domestic and world touring the home and property they loved so much became increasingly neglected. Meanwhile, one of those good male friends became a “very good friend.” They traveled together everywhere. Very good at first, but whose title gradually changed over the last four years to infrequent companion given later developments. Circumstances for romance and the altar which seemed unimportant then, became very important. Nine years later it can be deduced that Cupid’s Arrow — with attached gold ring — had in the end missed its mark.

Another development of which I have shared and posted about here a number of times is that of my sister and her 35+ years of drug addiction, rehab, relapse, law-enforcement, incarceration, repeat ad nauseam. Over the last six years this has really taken a toll on Mom’s mental and physical health. While I was up in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area teaching Special Ed, the plan for Mom, my sister (who moved to the Texas Hill Country very soon after Mom and her husband moved here), and Mom’s “very good man-friend” was to begin serious preparations from the inside of the house to the outside and all over the property to sell the house soon. Of course, the very good man-friend (living over 2-hours away) was not going to be capable of helping more than 2-times a month or less — he had to maintain his cattle ranch of 1,500 acres that he does all by himself! Therefore, in reality it was up to my perpetually recovering sister and my 76-year old Mom. HAH!

Five years later and after finishing the 2014-2015 school year in DFW, I make my summer return to help out. In complete shock I find my sister has moved in with Mom! Anyone who has dealt with acute drug-alcohol addiction of over 3-decades knows that addicts MUST BE at the very least in a daily and weekly program, routine, and support group! Mom’s hilltop retirement resort is the very last place any addict needs to be living — there has been no consistent structure and set schedule for Mom since, hell… 1995! Furthermore, she is not even close to being a qualified licensed A&D counselor! Simply put my Mom not only cannot handle my sister’s addictive pathology, manipulation, and regular relapses, she’s not mentally or emotionally strong enough or cunning enough to manage an addict! On top of this defective lousy living situation, not hardly anything is getting accomplished toward the sale of the house and property.

I become infuriated.

What soon follows about two months later is my sister’s gradual ump-teenth relapse. Due to the pressing overwhelming work and tasks that must get done first in order to sell the house and property, Mom’s inability to PUSH my sister to stay consistent and accountable to an AA/NA and MHMR (mental health rehabs) program, and her hilltop retirement resort being 4-miles outside of town making Mom her only real transportation anywhere… my sister was doomed to relapse anyway! I find out a few weeks into my return that my sister actually moved-in the previous December!  By February 2016 sister has relapsed badly, again, and this time the county sheriff’s department and TDCJ (Texas Dept of Criminal Justice) are done being merciful. She is sentenced to 9-months in their penal drug-rehab program — now the only and last hope for her.

I am now BEYOND infuriated! No wonder the house and property have not been significantly maintained or prepped! I was never told because they both knew how I would react. Funny how we manifest our repeated thoughts and fears.

At the end of June 2016 while at a wine-n-snack get-together with good local friends, Mom unloads to everyone the precise timeline of her absolute move-out:  April 2017 or sooner. How did we lose 5-years when she told me in December 2015 — relative to her retirement funds and trust-fund — it would last through 2021? Everything, except Social Security and her small monthly Mobile Oil pension, runs out next April. I thought my entire upper body just dropped into my stomach when she announced her deadline. This was not good at all given how much needed to be done to and inside the house. I’m thinking to myself trying not to appear distraught to everyone… What if the house doesn’t sell for what it’s worth these next 9-10 months!?

Days later I ask Mom if she’s got any better idea and plan as to where she will move and live. She is no closer to those decisions than she was a year ago. Given everything she’s had to deal with concerning my god-damn sister, it’s understandable.

The original revised plan has to be revised again.

My original plans for a continued life up in the DFW area will have to be put on hold. My regular routine to blog, consider, research, write, and comment must also be reduced or postponed.

Aging and the Aged

The end of this life is inevitable. Everyone is approaching it the day we are born and take our first breath. The average American lifespan is around 78-years old; 76 (I believe) for a man, 81-83 for a woman. Therefore, somewhere around our 40’s is the halfway point. In the better scenarios the late 40’s. As those older dear ones and loved ones begin to pass away around you, one cannot help but reevaluate, reflect, and remember what makes us truly alive so that death isn’t so painfully unwelcomed. What should our final decade of life be? Of what should it consist?

Mom_July 2014

Mom, July 2014

These last four years I have noticed how much more my Mom has aged. If this rate continues, she is in her last 5-7 years — and that might be optimistic. And that reality forces me to pause and prepare. It forces me to reevaluate, reflect, and remember what, on a soulful level, is TRULY important. For that single reason… death should not be such a total stranger.

Over the last six years I have gotten to know my Mom in ways and to levels I likely would not have been able living 5-hours and 320-miles away 300-days a year. Many of those days have been fun and hilarious — her senility can be quite entertaining along with her sense of humor that has enjoyably not waned as a result. Though I am increasingly managing and helping her with her weekly and monthly responsibilities, these last couple years have noticeably aged me. For all intents and purposes, I am becoming a one-man team if not already there. And this will probably not change anytime soon, or it could change tomorrow… all things considered.
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Do you have aging or aged parents? What have been or what are your experiences? How does it effect your own life? Why do family members these days live so far apart? I may not be able to quickly reply to your thoughts and comments, but I am curious to read them if you’re inclined to share!

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Here! Not There!

Such events as follows are occurring with increased and unwelcome frequency.
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Evidence Log, Entry #1

The Towel & Tissue Thief

APB – The Towel & Tissue Thief

It started out like any other shower routine. Being very aware of personal hygiene, I have a list of specific items inside the shower. Those items never leave, never move from within the shower. I may not use every single item every time, but unless the item is empty or past its lifespan and being replaced, those items must remain in place! Despite the perfection going on in and around my shower, imperfection manages to agonize me at the most inopportune times. He his known to most as Murphy, that sinister force from the familiar adage. He has never been a figment of my imagination. He is quite real and torments us all! For the aged, he is the Prince of Perverse and he has somehow removed my towel!

Evidence Log, Entry #2
It started out like any other bathroom routine. Your body tells you beyond any sort of confusion that it is time to relieve yourself soon. It will not be a quick trip, so you look forward to quality reading material. Over the years this chair-of-delight has become a tranquil happy time of intellectual stimulation. It is not to be rushed. For a man’s man like me, it is truly one of life’s simplest pleasures. As the end nears, you glance over to the tissue dispenser… and it sits empty; just cardboard. The Thief of Tissue has struck once again. To make matters less than dignifying, premeditation has placed the new rolls either across the expansive room in the cabinets opposite, or in a completely separate room where willing assistance must be hailed several times, putting one at a distinct disadvantage. Then I realize I am the only one in the house, thanks be to the fairies of embarrassment.

Entry #3

APB - Oger of Odor

APB – Oger of Odor

It started out like any other suit-and-tie engagement. The tables were set with several pieces of fine china and silverware with two different drinking glasses in front. The occasion was grande, but the temperature unusually warm. Of the hundreds of guest, you know only the bride or groom on a personal basis, and they are overly detained. To avoid being a prude you meet and chat with total strangers. After a few awkward moments you realize that in your haste to be on-time, you completely forgot to apply deodorant. Ahh, the Oger-of-Odor is unexpectedly making his entrance. Later the bride and groom ask guests where you’re hiding, and one answer is always the answer: “He is outside; the one with arms folded.

Entry #4
It started out like any other trip to the store. You hear a yelp from the bathroom vanity. Because there is no time and she is undressed, your wife or girlfriend has asked you to run quickly and purchase eyeliner. But not just any eyeliner; velvet-black glide-on pencil eyeliner with an unrepeatable French name in the .05 oz length. Not the liquid kind with the Italian name, the glide-on pencil kind; not the cream, not eyeshadow, and it must be black, not midnight blue… and a can of condensed milk for the caramel flan. I’m already friggin stressed and I haven’t even walked out the door. Makeup challengeGod knows what my pulse will be inside the store. Murphy damn sure knows because I hear him laughing. After staring at the cosmetic display for 20-minutes paralyzed, I go find a Cosmopolitan. She can help me! And yes, I purposely called her that name. Before my face could turn blue from no breath, I list the U.N. conditions of this eyeliner that must be found and purchased. Through process of elimination, the patiently humored store-clerk rings me up. I am so relieved she helped and proud as a peacock that I am delivering exactly what she wanted! With a huge smile on my face and the suavest of suave walks, I give her the coveted prize. “Did you get the can of condensed milk?” Complete and utter deflation followed by several unrecognizable cuss-words. The Murphy-of-Makeup had bitten me again.

Entry #5

APB - The Card & Keys Duo

APB – The Card & Keys Duo

It started out like any other backup plan. Since I don’t need my credit or debit card while in the house, I thought why not just leave them in the car. That’s the only time I really need them with me: when I’m driving to spend money to go further in debt, or to get gas. The plan is wittingly put into action. One cold late Sunday evening, I am walking out the door to the car to attend a good friend’s birthday party. I’m excited about going. I will know most everyone there; a fun comfortable group where everyone has a great sense of humor. I quick-step-it to my car, reach into my pocket and find nothing. No car keys. I do an about-face, get to the front door… locked. That door key is on the key ring with the car keys. I am not only locked out of my car, I am also locked out of my house. The window I usually leave unlocked for exactly this reason is now locked because I forgot to unlock it weeks earlier when window-washing. With no other quick choices available to avoid missing the entire party forty-minutes away, I call an after-hours locksmith, to go further in debt. Describing my situation and location, the dispatcher mentions he needs a credit card over the phone to guarantee against a cancelled trip out. Under my breath come familiar unrecognizable cuss-words. “Excuse me?” says the dispatcher. I apologize to him and humbly admit where my wittingly placed credit/debit card is located. He chuckled. The Criminals-of-Cards-n-Keys had struck again.

Entry #6

APB - close likeness of the Devil-of-Direction

APB – close likeness of the Devil-of-Directions

It started out like any other conversation in the car. The weekend road trip would take us to a much-needed retreat about 80-miles west of hectic DFW. We had plenty of time to talk about anything. The trip had basically two turns, off of and onto two different highways. That’s it! My then girlfriend and I had no difficulties whatsoever talking about anything and everything under the Sun or Moon. When we disagreed, it inevitably made us laugh. It was one of those relationships that never seemed to have an ending. But then it did; in several different unsuspecting ways. She noticed the sign we just passed had said “Thackerville, Oklahoma 21 miles.” I asked her, isn’t Wizard Wells (the name of the retreat) in Texas? Bursting into laughter, we realized our turn west was over 60-miles behind us. I thought you were navigating!? Comically astounded she fired back, “I thought you were driving!?” We knew all too well both of us could not talk and drive at the same time. The two of us did not belong in the same car: trouble. The Devil-of-Directions had committed a double-homicide, again!

Entry #7

Common misnomer - Height does not equal force. It equals time.

Common misnomer – Height does not equal force. It equals time.

It started out like any other little league baseball tournament with my son. Group play of two or three games, then the playoff round in the evening with the championship tomorrow. It is a full-day and weekend at the sports complex. Like most good pro-experienced fathers we want to impart to our sons our vast knowledge of the game and life. Those coaching tips are very important. I have absolutely no experience of playing baseball to speak of but the tips should be given with the least amount of interruption, even when needing to go to the bathroom between games. We trot over to the Men’s side of the building and belly up to the Little Man’s and Big Man’s urinals. As we stand there, I tell my son how quick he must think and how quick he must move and throw in certain game situations. He listens keenly filling his urinal with the voraciousness of Niagara Falls! Mine, on the other hand, is silent. My son finishes, zips his pants, rebuckles his belt, and stands there listening to my wisdom. Meanwhile, my urinal FINALLY starts to sound like a dainty Victorian tea-party with tiny cups. He really wants to get back out to the diamond. I see it in his face. I hear it in the tapping of his cleats as well as the here-and-gone-oh-here trickle in my urinal. I think we’re both thinking the same thing. The words, do as I say not as I do come to mind, but it seemed too blatant, too common. It probably wouldn’t achieve the correct lesson. Humbled, I paused a moment for my own wisdom and my not-so-quick plumbing… “Go ahead son, I’ll catch-up” …knowing full well I never would. The Poacher-of-Peeing was pillaging and caught me again damn it!

Entry #8
It started out like any other steamy erotic bedroom scene. Hah! Are you kidding? You think I’m going to share those embarrassing moments!? I’m aging, but not foolish…

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It has become increasingly clear, no… let me rephrase that to reflect reality. I need a reminder-list to find my To Do list. I need a damn checklist for all the lists and reminders for reminders! Murphy’s diabolical ominous horizon is no longer “out there.” It’s here! I am no longer Ringmaster of my circus. The ever jovial Murphy has usurped my throne. He has taken my kingdom and my sword and replaced them with Geritol, Metamucil, and a walker.

Release clause:  Sorry, for now that’s an exaggeration, but frustratingly less untrue.

No, Murphy-time is not on the horizon lurking, he’s HERE today. He isn’t in the distance or knocking anymore, he has found the hidden key and made himself at home! He is a persistent mad-man. And even though I have brilliantly perfected counter-measures of reverse psychology, like losing or forgetting to put on my pants, or putting on different colored socks, I can’t seem to shake Murphy like I use to or as much. He has become less a figment and more a nimble gnat I swat from my ears and nostrils.

I seem to have misplaced my Anti-Murphy repellant, again. My bifocals — check to see if they’re on or off my head — can’t seem to find the right horizon either, nor the damn wall in front of me.

Please, if anyone cares to join my circus, your own self-incriminating comments below are indeed welcomed!

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Is Anyone Else Scared Sh*tless?

I have done a horrible job of staying on top of my blog here and following the many blogs I enjoy following.  For those of you here now who haven’t forgotten about me, THANK YOU!  I appreciate so much your loyalty!  I will jump over to your blogs no matter how hectic my summer schedule becomes or has surprisingly become despite what I thought would be a relaxing, blog-writing and commenting summer break.  Grrrrrrr!


* * * * * * * * * *

As my family and I approach my Dad’s 24th anniversary of passing away to suicide, today I want to reflect back on one of his most memorable, most classically funny moments he and my grandfather made for me and my family.  This is one I have never forgotten.

63ChevyImpalaMy Grandpa Bonnet had a wonderful simple sense of humor.  It was that humor you find in small country Texas towns from farmers, ranchers, and cowboys.  As long as I had known my Grandpa Bonnet, nothing ever seemed to get under his skin or ruffle his feathers because he could always find some comical interpretation to life’s curve-balls.  Everyone in my family loved it, my Dad especially.  Granny Bonnet, not so much.  Even if Granny Bonnet was in a tirade, Grandpa would find the humor in something.  Many times it egged-on Granny making us begin to chuckle under our breath hoping she would not see or hear us.  It was hilarious, especially when Granny finally left the room!

One holiday weekend myself, my sister, Mom, Dad, Granny Bonnet, and Grandpa Bonnet all climbed into Grandpa’s 1963 yellow Chevy Impala.  I can’t remember now where we were going – it didn’t matter then – but it couldn’t have been too far because McDade was a tiny remote town in central Texas where they had lived for several years.  McDade was famous because of the twin-knob hills in the distance where a famous wild-west shoot-out took place, not too unlike what happens today in our great “free” Lone-Star-for-a-reason state (wink).

My sister, Mom, and Granny were sitting in the back seat.  Dad and I sat up front with Grandpa, who was driving.  I wasn’t real sure why all the women sat in the back that day, but now that I’m older, wiser, and an eighth-generation Texan, I now have a very good idea.  But on this day, and hindsight being 20/20, I would have been more than happy to be in the trunk!

Blind squirrel

Blind squirrel!

It was well after 12-noon, a pleasant summer evening, and we were on one of the many two-lane-only state highways in the middle of nowhere near McDade.  Grandpa loved to talk and tell his simple stories.  Granny also liked to talk, non-stop, but not in story-form.  Her chatter was everything that was wrong or could go wrong, remarkably and often circling back to Grandpa.  Granny Bonnet was the epitome of an incessant worry-wart.  As I reached my teen-years, I began to see clearly why Grandpa Bonnet had such a fantastic sense of humor and thick skin.

The first sign our “family drive” was to be exciting was when we approached something centered in the middle of the highway and unflinching.  My Grandfather and Dad noticed it.  It was a squirrel sitting up on its hind-legs seemingly as brave (or stupid) as squirrels-in-the-road can be.  In fact, I thought it was a fake stuffed-animal it was so perfectly still.  Grandpa began talking to the rodent like a Squirrel-whisperer, “Move little guy.  You better move!”  Nothing.  The idiot squirrel just sat there like a stone statue.  My sister in the back seat sat up, amazed that it wouldn’t run off.  She too begged it to run.  We were only seconds away now…Grandpa kept a steady 55 mph, not slowing down one bit.  We approached, Grandpa centered his yellow Impala straight at it, I thought so he could pin it to the radiator or hood!?  My eyes widened and the gasps began.  Still that damn stupid animal would not budge!  The women began screaming at Grandpa in horror “STOP!  STOP Grandpa!” as we drove over it, but Grandpa only chuckled more with each closing foot!  “Murderer!” I heard my sister yell.  I waited to hear the thumps underneath the floorboard trickling from front, right down our shoe-soles to the back.

Total silence.


Then EVERYONE, including Grandpa, jerked our heads and gaping mouths rearward to see the carnage…

And as if to say “I won!” that squirrel sat exactly where he stood, unmoved, unscathed!  It was the most astonishing death-wish-gone-wrong I’d ever seen.  It was impossible for anyone to express this miracle of life because Granny was screaming undecipherable words at Grandpa even my Mom had never heard!  I stared at Grandpa and he just chuckled at every sentence Granny tried to complete.  I looked over at my Dad and he was doing the same thing, but face forward to escape Granny’s verbal wrath.  Swept up by the moment, I let burst my laughter too.  Now Granny was getting furious with anyone in the front seat!

As we continued down the two-lane-only highway, without missing a beat or miles per hour, Grandpa just HAD to share his newly discovered squirrel-stew recipe.  Talk about the live definition of inciting, Grandpa had decades of experience and the war-medals to prove it (wink)!  It was all my Dad could do not to multiply the soft mumbled jokes coming from Grandpa.  In the front seat, one joke would lead to another simple story.  In the back seat, more high-pitched cackling with each non-response from Grandpa – he was in the middle of a story!  Grandpa would face my Dad and I while talking, making sure we could hear him.  The more Granny bitched at Grandpa, the more Grandpa would chuckle and grin at us to make louder his point.

mcdade_watertowerRight about that moment I noticed things hitting and pinging the underside of the car.  I sat way up to get a better view, “now what!?”  Ahead was a slow drifting right-curve, not sharp, but nonetheless going in a direction that was clearly not straight.  I looked up at Grandpa and he was waist-deep in his story, trying to keep at least an equal decibel level to Granny, Mom, and my sister in back, but looking uninterrupted at my Dad.  I snapped back to the highway in front, that was less in front.  I looked back at Grandpa trying to impolitely interrupt him politely!  I snapped my head to Dad; did he see my face at all!?

Um, is anyone else scared shitless as I am right now!?  Hello!

Our fast-moving Chevy Impala was now ever-so-slightly beginning to lean left as the highway ever-so-gradually moved to the right!  It had become so loud between Granny’s verbal tirade at Grandpa and Grandpa’s grand story about squirrel barbecuing, that no one could hear the gravel hitting the tires and floorboard!  I glanced back to Dad – perhaps to take one last look at him in life – and as Grandpa drew a breath and Granny was exhausted, just as calm and serious as an airline pilot preparing everyone for impact, my Dad said…

Mr. Bonnet,” and my Dad pointed forward, “Is that the McDade water-tower up ahead?

Grandpa looked, why yes it was…and in that instance the right-side tires fell off the shoulder and gravel began shooting out everywhere!  He jerked the steering wheel right and corrected our direction from bumpy doom into cedar-fence posts, to the intended path of proper motor vehicles with just a few clumps of grass packed in the front bumper; the cows would never miss!  Saved!

Grandpa began laughing uncontrollably!  Shocked, I couldn’t decide if he was laughing so hard at my Dad’s question, or if he was laughing more at Granny’s renewed vocabulary at him.  We must have heard thirty different versions of “You’re suppose to look at the road when you drive Felix, not get us splattered with the cows!”  Needless to say, there was no silence all the way home.  And I’ve never seen my Grandpa grin at me so much for so long a drive.  Normal?  I imagine so after some of the words and phrases I learned from Granny.  Insane?  Hell yeah!  Between stoned-up squirrel, squirrel barbecuing, shifty highways, a furious non-stop cackling old Granny, and two adult men laughing in the face of vehicular off-roading disaster and the back-seat narrative that went with it?  Yeah, totally insane, but totally rad!

Miss those new moments Dad, but I keep ones like this forever.  Thank you.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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