Friday, February 9, 2018

Life Goes On Minus One

Last post my father died and my brother and I were working on how we continue in an altered reality. My brother has moments of auxiliary reality that freak me. I think Dad is communicating with him, or more accurately, Scott is communicating with his father. He is one moment an afterlife zen master and another the human he is now - enmeshed in Alzheimer's disease. I am consumed with paperwork in my own alternate reality that equates the new terror in the mailbox with scenes from The Raw Shark Texts. We live in a scifi novel that hasn't been written yet. And bloody hell, I'm not writing it.

Meanwhile. I illustrated a remarkable book last year. The author, who is a coach specializing in improving relationships and organizational behavior wrote a book that is extraordinary advice for executives and children.

Look at relationships in nature and understand who you are.

Love yourself and understand that's all you need to have a successful life.

The book is coming soon. The art preview is here.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Three Story Life: End Game

So it's come to this. Me, a fifth of Jack Honey and a black hole. I snagged the Jack because I parked in the liquor store parking lot to take my brother to the doctor to pee in a plastic cup because we need to know if he still has an infection, after dropping in the mailbox thank you notes to medical personnel who helped, books in the library pick-up bin I haven't read, after starting at the house wondering if I'd remember how to start a pushbutton car.

I didn't remember. Nor did I remember how to shut it off. Three times.

Still not sure if my brother knows our father is dead.

One piece of business done today: I called DTE to change the auto payment from my father's account to mine because I started opening his mail, which feels intrusive, but the letter was dated the day Dad went into the hospital. Halloween. My mother's birthday, begob. Of course, the letter required a 2 day turnaround in their favor. DTE transferred me to Revenue Compliance. I need to send DTE a death certificate. Who pranks someone by switching their auto billing to their own wallet?

I instigated a breakout from Providence Park Hospital for my father. More on this later, but I haven't been 13 years of my life in his care and for his care to have him die in a hospital. The Attending thwarted for ego. Somewhere in my writing future this is the evildoer.

At the end, my siblings stepped up with love. I hope everyone in the house had a moment in the 24 hours Dad was home in bed where he wanted to be.

I was stroking Dad's hands. Keeping him, in his anxiety, from tearing at his oxygen tubing. When holding his hands away wasn't enough I lay on him, my face in his neck. He calmed. Minutes passed. I'm a pain in the ass he said. Well then, I learned from the best I said.

Scott had no moment. He was in the next room, witnessing the mayhem attached to a death: Dad yelling pee and drink, and when he figured we weren't fast enough, using his strobe flashlight to get attention.

I can't escape wondering what I could have done to make this easier on my brother. He lost his grandmother in 1987. She was his best buddy, finest champion, Yahtzee partner. My mother insisted on her being at their house. Did they handle his grief well?  It took our cousin from England to open my eyes in inquiring whether we'd dealt with Scott's loss. Scott then watched his mother at home in hospice care; objected to the police in his mother's bedroom when she died. And now this. The three most important people in his life died in his presence.

When everyone had left the house, Scott and I had dinner. I didn't know what to say to him, what he'd take in, what what. Then I held his face in my hands and I said, "We lost our Dad today. I am sorry for both of us. I want you to know you are loved, we are loved, and you are not alone. Do you understand? We will be okay."

And he said. Okay.

Tonight there's just me and Jack Honey and a black hole.

In the morning there's our life as it is now. Me looking at him for guidance, him looking at me.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Keep Me Posted

I don't have any art for this, so a 1000 pieces are enough. I've been a live-in caregiver for 13 years.  I've written a blog about Three Story Life for most of that time. The art's cute. Real ain't cute.

Dark Humor.

Tonight my father is in the hospital, next stay in a month, with a partially collapsed lung. He's 90. We're in for the hospital stays until he passes because he has lovely insurance.

My brother who has Alzheimer's has Medicare, and his infection was treated today as well. I set him in the shower tonight and he came back out, said "there's somebody in there." That's a long sentence for him, and I wonder what he saw. And then wondered if I needed to call 911 for me.

My father calls with what I need to bring to the hospital. One of those things is hearing aid batteries, so I can ask when the list starts "did you call FedEx?" because 1) he never listens to me and 2) he has no working hearing aid batteries. These calls can begin as early as 7 because he hasn't slept so everyone else in the known universe is awake.

I'm happy to be joined in this we all die thing by wonderful people like Caitlin Doughty. 

And in the truly fine way to move with much loved Leonard Cohen.

And in the blooming interim there's the true weird and wonderful. This is the intersectionality I live in. Between life and death there's old age, infirmity and diminishing capability for us all.

The Three Story Life posts are going to be a play. I'm using NaNoWriMo to be well on my way, and I hope to be at Ragdale to finish. Or perhaps it won't be finished.

Keep me posted is what my family texts/says. Maybe they all need hearing aid batteries. Maybe I don't know how to ask for help.

Monday, September 25, 2017

WWII Atomic Veteran on His 90th Birthday

Norman Robinson, just before his 17th birthday enlisted in the U.S Navy, August, 1945. He sold his car and waited to be called up, which didn’t happen until October. After basic training at Great Lakes, he and his fellow seamen boarded the train to Camp Parks, Shoemaker, CA for assignment.
He boarded the USS Cobra, LSM 258, its destination Lake Charles, LA to be decommissioned along with 15 other LSMs. The Cobra sailed from Treasure Island, through the Panama Canal (where the guys were jumping off the ramp on the bow into the water while they waited, until the Captain hollered through the speaker to knock it off: ships emptied their bilges before entering the Panama Locks, and the waters were full of snacking sharks). The men were kept busy while they waited in line to enter the Locks by washing the ship down with fresh water.
The LSMs were taken to Lake Charles, LA, and the men entertained themselves along the Calcasieu River, shooting cottonmouths as fast as they could reload. The ship was in dock during Mardi Gras. There was a fight during a Coast Guard decommissioning party in a hotel, and a couple of guys came flying over the edge of the balcony as our 4 sailors walked by. The 3 sailors Dad was with were fighters, and knowing he wasn't, handed off their cigarettes, lighters, wallets to him. Jack Carli was a California Golden Gloves contender; The Greek liked a fight. All ended up in jail for the night. Dad said “you're not taking my buddies without me” so in the brig he went. Shore patrol picked them up in the morning and took them back to the ship where the 3 amigos stood a Captain's Mast.
Back on the Streamliner to Camp Parks in Shoemaker CA for reassignment. Dad bumped into Fred Bauer (brother’s wife’s brother). The war was over, but the Navy wanted 3 more months of active duty out of the enlistees. Fred said he was embarking on a “Magic Carpet Cruise.” Dad doesn’t know where he went.
Dad was assigned to APA38 USS Chilton, a Bayfield-class attack transport, along with four other sailors and a chief. A smallboat took them out into the bay and no Chilton. Back to shore, went through the battery of shots they'd had the day before already, back into the smallboat out to the Chilton, which had been delayed picking up supplies. Dad came aboard in need of a haircut. He immediately got extra duty scraping paint.
First port was Pearl Harbor where 1800 troops were dropped off, and then USS Chilton was its way to participate in Operation Crossroads.
 Eniwetok. Dad said it was bombed out and desolate, the waters laced with sunken ships, half submerged. The crew each got a Short Snorter chit which allowed them 2 warm beers apiece, and 2 hours to run around the sand on shore leave.
Dad had his mates sign the back of his Short Snorter.

Back aboard enroute to Kwajalein, Dad was at his station, turning valves on the lowest deck below the engine room. It was 120 degrees and he couldn't hear anything. Engines, fans, boilers, steam. Sailors served 4 hour shifts only – what the Navy determined a human could stand.
On to Bikini Atoll where the ships (and tethered cows, chickens, sheep) were awaiting the Able bomb in Operation Crossroads. The ship was positioned next to the USS Skate. Dad could see the Nevada (painted orange) the Prinz Eugen in the distance, and the other ships shown below. She was ordered out of the target area, and on to its assignment - move Bikini residents off the atoll to Majuro. The atoll had missed the total destruction some of the other islands had endured and its shore was closed up with vegetation. A smallboat took a shore party to hack out an area to settle the people and their animals ashore.
Steaming from Majuro back to Bikini Atoll, they saw the damage inflicted by the Able bomb. Military personnel were washing down the ships still standing: using radioactive sea water. U.S.S. Chilton continued to Pearl Harbor, then on to San Francisco to unload. The ship was not in the area when Baker was detonated.
From California Dad took the train back to Great Lakes Naval Station, and was discharged 6 August, 1946. Recruiters were thick on the base, encouraging sailors to reenlist. Dad was talked into joining the reserves, which turned out to be fortuitous. Drafting for the Korean War was underway; he could have been shipped out as some of his mates were.
I bought Dad a VHS recording of the first dive in the area. Baker bomb had sunk some of the ships still marginally afloat, and since it was detonated underwater, actually brought back up some of the boats. U.S.S. Tuna had been sunk with Able, resurrected with Baker, and ended her life as target practice near Treasure Island after being towed there. Yay, Tuna! Dad had witnessed the Nagato with the superstructure melted and dripping onto the deck before Baker. The divers in the video reported that the superstructure had been squished because of landing on the ocean floor upside down. Dad saw otherwise. Without eye witnesses, history belongs to the late players
For those who need an ending, here are the final resting places of the vessels.

For Dad on his 90th birthday, with love.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Community Meeting on SSLDL Expansion

17 September, Sunday was the first community meeting to discuss the expansion of the Salem-South Lyon District Library. The next meeting is Tuesday 26 September 7:00 p.m.

The discussions are preliminary; the purpose of the community gathering to assess program needs, gather input from district stakeholders and patrons, and involve the community in moving forward.

SSLDL has added new programs for children. The ongoing mission is to support every child at every level to contribute to their success personally and professionally, from birth to middle school and onward, with program opportunities to meet, study and collaborate. This growth and future planning require space to implement expanding services.

Programs from birth forward are in place at SSLDL. Baby Bounce (0-11 mos. with caregiver), Wonderful Ones (12 mos.-23 mos. with caregiver), Terrific Twos Storytime (24-35 mos. with caregiver). Check the SSLDL events calendar for other storytimes, and literacy programs.

The library currently has one large meeting room (layout at left) with a priority scale for scheduling. Library business is first, other community usage (art shows, children's events) second. The large conference room is then not always available for collaborative children's events. Storage space is limited. Defined needs are for another large collaborative space and more storage at minimum.

This is your opportunity to contribute. What are your dreams, desires, thoughts on programs at the SSLDL? Programs will dictate the physical needs of the building, internally and externally.

On the 17th suggestions and wishes included more window space, seating for grades 3-5, adult seating for parents and grandparents, open study booths, 2 family restrooms, another entrance on the northeast side of the existing building (area shown at left.)

More modular adaptable units, an additional interactive storytelling section, perhaps iPads instead of computers.

What activities would you like your children to have available? Our district is growing, family housing starts are ongoing. SSLDL needs to hear from parents who will make use of services and programs available to our community.

The next meeting is Tuesday, 26 September at 7:00 p.m. If you cannot attend a meeting as scheduled, please do talk to library staff about your thoughts. Send an email. The future of the SSLDL can be guided by your input. Please contribute.

SSLDL Mission/Vision Statement

SSLDL Contact

Further reading:

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

Every Child Ready to Read

Library of Michigan Every Child Ready to Read

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Patriot

I drew The Patriot on September 12, 2001 weeping. The world experienced one of the most horrific attacks on American citizens the day before. To this hour I have seen no images of that tragedy. The woman I worked for and I listened to the radio all day. We were locked in a building in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. A negligent delivery person had left a large package in the parking garage with no address label, and as the morning's events were seen and heard around the world, a security guard reacted, and local authorities shut down entry and egress from the building for 11 hours. It was a portend of overreach to come. We heard the anguish, shared the pain of that day with our country only on the radio. I talked with a friend on the phone who was counting on me to go to her house and keep her young children from seeing the television. We all cried for victims of that attack, and then we cried for what was to come. What the woman I worked for, my friend and I shared along with the agony was the knowledge that America would respond next day, without accurate intelligence, with political zeal, and for a long time.

I wish we'd been wrong.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Three Story Life Season 13

Been away from the blog so long that Linda Robinson Obituaries now occupies my place in google results.  Been away so long that links to all my articles are no longer available, so now I have to dig through my own files to find witty stuff I wrote about how I stop myself from writing by acquiring accoutrement to not write. Been away from writing so long it was necessary to get a new writing instrument.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Dad's in the hospital again. If I still thought it was important to have original art in all Three Story Life posts, there would be the 3sL standard with a gown drooping and 6 multicolored leads disappearing somewhere around the back of the hospital bed. The mandatory smiley face socks. The urinal so close to the water it's a classic finger wave good-bye for me - don't confuse those two.

Meanwhile back at the now 1-story 3sL HQ, still cracked was the cracked step that was noted on the Spring Walkabout repair list in...the spring. Visiting my father on Weds., my phone rang. It was the contractor letting me know the cement would be fixed tomorrow. I hung up. Cracked up. What's funny? Dad asked. I told him. He said, oh that's not a problem. I can write this script now. He's not going to respond well when I get out of the car after retrieving him, say OK, here's the not a problem, and vault myself and Scott into the house, leaving him to contemplate the not a problem part of the world where all the problems belong to someone else to solve. In this case, it'll probably be the South Lyon Fire Department Egress Team. Again.