Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday through Thursday, vacation

Judy is an amazing cousin.  Actually, she is my first husband's cousin.  We've adopted each other.  Every time I visit my home town, I've been invited to stay with Judy and her mother, June.  I feel welcome.  June is sociable and friendly.  This time, June is incapacitated.  She is laying in a recliner.  She tries to speak, but the words come out garbled.  I hold her hand.

Beth and Don are with me the last time I see June alive.   Judy calls me.  Her mother has died this morning.  Judy is in shock.  Her minister has come to the house to pray and comfort her.  I show up next. 

Judy has to manage her own illnesses and infirmities.  She has to monitor her brother, who is in a nursing home.  She has bills to pay for 3 houses:  her own condo, her mom's house and her brother's house.  She will have to sell her Mom's house.  There is no other option.  How can so much responsibility fall on one lady's frail shoulders?

On Tuesday, I drive Judy to the walk in medical clinic.  She has a cataract removed.  We are there about 2 hours.  She is released to go home.  Judy wears dark glasses and has drops for her eyes.  Other than that, there are no restrictions.  She will be OK to drive in a day or two.  How can this be?  A cataract surgery used to be a dicey operation.  Patients had to lie still with sandbags on either side of their head.  Real progress has been made in cataract surgery procedures.  There is no pain. 

It is time to start clearing out the house.  I am instructed to clean out the medicine cabinet.  My aunt was 89 years old, so of course the cabinet is filled with scripts, many of them outdated.  Many medicines are across the counter meds.  They all go in the trash.  I wash out the medicine cabinet.  One job done.

Judy attacks the refrigerator.  Some food is going bad.  She throws out food.  Some food was for her mom.  She doesn't eat that stuff.  I get a present of yogurt and puddings in a cup.  I never eat dessert in a cub, but I am curious about this new food.  The label for the yogurt says it is pasteurized.  What is the sense of eating pasteurized yogurt?   There is no live culture in it.  I see it is extended with gelatin.   Neither foods are worth eating. They are nutritional zero foods.  I take them to my cottage in Angola  and will eat them for dessert anyways.

Next job is to clear out the linen closet.  My!  This is a deep closet.  It holds lots of towels and interesting things.  Other people's lives are interesting.  See what they put in their refrigerator and the linen closet to learn how different people can be.  I pull out piles of towels.  Judy says she hasn't seen some of those towels in years.

The washing machine churns out clean towels all day long.  I separate them into piles:  bath rowels, hand towels, fingertip towels.  Judy sorts through and discards those with a lot of wear on them.  I ask her if I can have that pile. I will take it to Beth , as she has a lot of people using towels in her house.  Some of the towels are used to wipe up dog piddles on the floor.  The worst of them can be pressed into dog service.

Books.  books.  books.  Judy is retired from the University of Buffalo's data processing department.  She is spending her retirement as a volunteer in the library.  Judy loves books.  She has stacks of them at her house.  She has stacks of books at her mother's house.  The books need to be moved back to her condo.  She has saved boxes.  We pack the boxes with books.  We fill the back of my truck with boxes of books.  I take them to her condo .  Judy moves them inside.  Back to Mom's house .  The process is repeated many times.  We make a small dent in the pile of books, just a dent.  At least the process of clearing the house has begun. 

It is my pleasure to take Judy out to dinner the first night.  We go to her favorite place:  Athens Diner.  The second night, Judy treats.  We go to a burger joint.  I had the best angus beef burger I've tasted in a long time.  It is my turn to treat.  I choose a steak place for lunch.  It is also very good.  They have good beef in Buffalo.

There is an apple tree in the back yard.  I am invited to pick apples.  I do.  Would Judy like me to make her some applesauce?  She declines.  The apples are all mine.  They are huge apples.  My apples from my trees back home in Milford are small.  I am jealous.  The reason her apples are so huge is the rain fall .  Buffalo gets plenty of rain.  The soil is damp.  The tree soaks it up.  By contrast, I have to run a hose for my trees.  (Make a note to myself  to do better next year.)  Her apples aren't ripe yet.  One bite tells me they aren't ready to be picked.  You know when it is time to pick apples when you can smell them.  I pick them anyways.  A bag of them is now on the floor of my truck.  Sugar will be added to make sweet applesauce.  I will freeze some and can some.  Do apples ripen after being picked?   ...must research that question....

Piles and piles of stuff go to the curb.  One recycling container is completely filled recycle things.  There is a pile of newspapers, nearly stacked and bound.  There is another container with the regular garbage.  It is also filled to the top.  Judy is making progress cleaning out her mother's house. It is less than a week since her mother has died.

Aunt June had shoes.  Judy goes through a big pile of shoes.  I am on my hands and knees pilling shoes from 2 closets.  I can wear them.  However, these shoes are "dress up" shoes and I know I will never wear them.  It is more important to preserve space in my tiny closet at home, so I decline the offer of shoes.  Judy does give me one pair of new shoes and I purchase a pair of slippers from the estate  for Beth.  They are "muc lucs"...nice and warm.  Beth will like them.  I can't find any shoes for Melanie, as Melanie is a tiny lady.

After taking Judy to her follow up appointment,  I claim some time for myself for shopping.  I have only one pair of gray slacks and only one dress up outfit to use for this trip.  Shopping can be fun or it can be no fun.  This time, it is fun to go look at things in stores.  I buy my pair of gray slacks on sale, and a belt, and basic socks.   A box of pots and pans jumps into my shopping basket and ends up in the back of my unplanned purchase.  One has to take advantage when opportunity presents itself,....right?

It is hard to say goodbye to my cousin.  How will she manage all those responsibilities?  She lives in constant pain from brittle bones, as her brother does.  The 2 siblings have been given a bad genetic code.  They have to live with it the rest of their lives.  My cousin confides she does not expect to live to 70. I can't find any words to respond to this.  She is 68.   

Back in Angola:   Time to do my own laundry.  This is boring.  The nearest drugstore has paperback books.  I buy 2 ...sit on the porch and enjoy the sunshine and a mystery book.   This is about the first activity I would classify as a vacation activity .  My vacation is half over.

There are people who are looking forward to seeing me.  I can't be that bad if they want to see me.  One of them is Joyce K.  We go out to dinner at that same steak place I took Judy to for lunch.  Joyce doesn't know I was there a few days ago.  Joyce is a college friend of mine.  How nice to keep in touch over the years.  I can't believe how much time has gone by.  Joyce made a photographic documentary on old barns in her home town.   I purchase the book, instructing her to autograph it.  I have a book autographed by the author!    She is a very good photographer.   My friends seem to be that!   

The sun is going down.  It is time to drive south, back to my beach cottage.  Another day is gone.  Another friend re-connected with.  I am rich in friends.   Good night.


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