Monthly Archives: December 2011

Born This Christmas Day

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Merry Christmas everyone!

I hope your day has been spent with family, friends, fun, and food! 🙂

This is the day when we celebrate the birth of a King.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9: 6 

The King who humbled himself and came to Earth as a baby.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

Luke 2: 6-7

Jesus wasn’t just a baby, but the promised Messiah.

The One who came to seek and save the lost.

The One who came to be with us.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”

Matthew 1:23

THIS is what I celebrate during this special Christmas season.

I celebrate the birth of a baby who became Savior of the world and Lord of my soul.

What do you celebrate???

Peruvian Nativity set

The Birthday Girl

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December is a month full of birthdays in my family. Today is no exception.

It’s my dear mother’s birthday!!!

She is…..

My friend. My best friend.

My advice-giver.

The source of many of my jokes & stories.

The woman I am turning into daily. yikes!

An encouragement.

A hard-worker.

The person that takes me makeup shopping, dress shopping, and every other kind of girly shopping.

The thoughtful woman I want to become more like.

A great wife to my dad.

The person I stay up late with watching chick flicks or facebook stalking with.

A strong woman.

She is my Mom. Madre. Momma

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Summer 2010

Mother's Day 2008

Happy birthday Momma.

I love you!

The Birthday Boy

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It took hours for me to flesh this post out because I didn’t know how to approach it.

Should I show silly pictures of my brother and I over the years?

Should I talk about all the forts we built in the back yard and all the Indian attacks we fought in?

Should I explain the excitement I had over having a little brother back in the day?

Should I write about how much fun we had playing POGS, Power Rangers, and Playstation 2 games?

Should I inform you of all the late nights we spent having airsoft wars or games of cops & robbers?

Should I write about how he is obsessed with fast food and he and I argue over dinner locations all the time?

Should I let you know how sweet my brother can be sometimes?

Should I write about how awkward it is when people mistake us for a couple instead of brother & sister?

Should I write about all the adventures I have had because of having a brother around?

Or should I write about how frustrating having a younger brother can be?

Well, I decided to keep it simple.

Happy 17th Birthday, Adam.

1996

Love, your big sister.

December 12: Padre’s Point of View

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Well, the day has finally come.

I knew it would eventually, but I hoped it would be easier.

I’m glad Meredith is here with me… she will hopefully keep Mom occupied and help keep me from breaking down.

We just got to Mom’s house. She says that she’s ready to go. I help her out the door, down the stairs, and hold her hand as we walk up the driveway. Mom is so frail and tiny. She has shrunken in her old age. Turned 79 this year.

I’m going to try to make more of an adventure of today: we’re going to drive by the house on Fellowship Drive where we used to live. I wasn’t there much due to college, working, and the Army.

This is the road I used to run down. A perfect 6.2 miles. I ran that road a few times a week. Wish my knees and joints would allow me to still train like I used to. Gosh how times change. And this is the road that I met Beverly on…playing tennis one hot summer afternoon. Those were the days…

I don’t have much of an appetite but I offer to buy Mom a Hardee’s burger for lunch. She hardly ever gets burgers so hopefully she will enjoy this one. It’s going to be her last meal outside of the nursing home for a while.

We’re here at the assisted living facility now. I tried to drive slowly but I knew I couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer.

I carefully help Mom out of the car.

Surprisingly, she walks right through the doors into the director’s office. It’s as if she somewhat remembers our visit here last week.

“Hi. We’re just here for a visit. This is my handsome son and his beautiful daughter. I have the prettiest family members. We just came to see the place. I had Hardee’s. I hadn’t had a burger in the longest time. I used to have fresh meat when I was a little girl… Daddy had hogs and cows and chickens and boy… those were the days. But we’re just here for a visit.” 

I cringe at Mom’s words. We aren’t here for a visit at all. I told her yesterday she was going to move to her new home today but she’s already forgotten. I wonder if it ever even registered in her head. Poor Mom. I hate the disease that has taken over her mind.

My brother Tim arrives and we start the long trek down the hallways to find Mom’s room. She admires the art on the wall and with each step I feel my heart breaking a little more. It’s going to be so hard to leave her here.

We finally make it to her new room and I show Mom around. Her roommate is in so I’m hoping Mom won’t make a big scene when we eventually leave. Mom asks the woman why she came here and her answer is simple.

 ”My daughter said it was the best thing for me so I came here to live.”

I hope someday Mom will be able to look back and see that this arrangement is the best thing for her.

Tim and I step out for a few minutes and Meredith stays with Mom. I don’t know what they talk about, but I hear her cry, “I just don’t understand why they brought me here!” as we walk back in.

Then, seeing her sons, she breaks down and lashes out at us. It reminds me of a child getting upset at their parents for berating them.

“You lied to me! You said I was going to my new home! This isn’t my new home! I want to go back. I don’t care what you say. I want to go home. I was so looking forward to moving into my new house. You tricked me. I want Daisy. Who is going to take Daisy? Are you going to bring him here? He can’t stay alone, he’ll die! He doesn’t like other cats. I just don’t understand. You lied to me. I want Daisy. Why did you do this?”

As tears pour down her face, I wish I wasn’t in this position. It’s reversed;  I am now the parent and she is the child.

This is so hard.

I don’t want to cry but seeing Mom so confused and disoriented makes me want to. Instead, I try to explain why she’s here and how we want her to be healthy and safe.

One of the nurses comes to beckon the family away from Mom so she can get calmed and settled.

Walking out while she wailed was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a while.

When we make it to the conference room, the director is waiting for us. She explains that, it will be harder for you than it will be for her.” and compares it to dropping a child off at kindergarten.

I think it’s more like dropping a child off at college… you make the drive with them and their stuff. You move them into their new home. You hug them goodbye and know you won’t see them for a while. I cried when we dropped Meredith off. Just thinking about that day and the similarities with today… man…

We sit there for a little longer talking about visiting her and what she might need from home, etc. I come to realize how frustrating my sister can be sometimes. Always thinking of herself and her schedule and family. And my brother treats Mom just like a child and that rubs me the wrong way.

I know she is unstable emotionally and mentally at this point because of age and not taking her meds, but she’s still our mother… the woman who worked hard to raise us right. The woman who prayed for us. The woman who cooked every Thanksgiving and Christmas meal for years. The woman who I looked up to. She’s my Mom and I love her. I’ll always love her. But I love her especially more today considering the circumstances.

I want her to be safe and happy and healthy.

I guess it isn’t about OUR wants though, but what God wants. That’s sometimes hard for me to grasp.

We’re about to walk out when one of the nurses comes to tell us that Mom is in the dining hall eating ice cream and listening to Christmas music.

“I can’t enjoy Christmas music because my heart is broken.”

That’s what Mom told the nurse.

And that’s how I feel today.

December 12: Nana’s Point of View

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Today is going to be a big day.

David and Meredith are coming to take me to my new home!

I don’t know where it’s at or how far away it is, but they’ve been talking about it for a while. David came by yesterday and told me to get my stuff packed up to take today with me. I am excited to see my new home!

I got dressed in one of my favorite outfits this morning. It’s comfortable and warm. I’ve been cleaning the kitchen. I don’t know why I bother though because it stays clean since I’m the only one who lives here. Maybe in my new home I will have more visitors and friends.

Oh look, there goes Daisy. That cat is so crazy. He’s coming with me today to my new home. I can’t leave him here alone. He doesn’t like other people or other cats. I sure love that cat.

They’re here!

Meredith helped me put my coat on even though I didn’t want it. She said it’s going to be cold outside since it’s December. I forgot all about Christmas… it’s only a few weeks away, right? I grab my cane to help me walk up the driveway. I move a lot slower nowadays than I used to.

We’re in the car riding around Durham now. David said he was going to take me by Fellowship Drive to see the old house. We lived in that house for years. I had teenagers when we lived there…no more Ross children running around the backyard. I was working hard during that time, too. I remember some of our neighbors… they had tennis courts. Oh look, they still do. That’s where David met Beverly years ago. I wonder if David remembers that summer…

They’re treating me to a burger from Hardee’s for lunch! I haven’t had a burger in so long. And fries….oh I shouldn’t eat these but they are so good and salty! That was a delicious lunch. I hardly ever get to eat out.

David tells me that we’re going to my new home now. I’m excited.

I remember this place. We visited last week. And the director woman, she is so friendly. I probably should explain to her why we are here.

“Hi. We’re just here for a visit. This is my handsome son and his beautiful daughter. I have the prettiest family members. We just came to see the place. I had Hardee’s. I hadn’t had a burger in the longest time. I used to have fresh meat when I was a little girl… Daddy had hogs and cows and chickens and boy… those were the days. But we’re just here for a visit.”

Then David and Tim and Meredith take me walking around a little bit. These hallways are long and confusing. This is a lot of walking; I’m not used to this. I don’t remember what we’re doing here. The pictures on the wall are so lovely though! I just love them. There’s one of a little boy. It looks old. And there’s one of a mountain! How lovely. Reminds me of the mountains in Wyoming when I visited George’s family before we had children. That was a good trip. 

We’re stopping at a room with a Santa Claus on the door. Oh look, there’s my name on the door.

Is this my room? Who is this woman in here? Where is all my stuff?

My sons said they had to go talk to the director again. Meredith will stay here with me. I wonder if she knows why we are here. And I wonder how this woman in my room felt when she had to come stay here. It’s obvious she lives here. Her stuff takes up half the room. I don’t want to live here. I’m going to ask her why she came.

 ”My daughter said it was the best thing for me so I came here to live.” was her answer.

I don’t understand why she would come here though. Doesn’t she have a home?  I know Meredith probably doesn’t know what’s going on either… they told me we were going to my new home! “I just don’t understand why they brought me here!”

Oh, the boys are back now. I’m gonna let them have it. I don’t know why this is happening. My sons did me wrong!

“You lied to me! You said I was going to my new home! This isn’t my new home! I want to go back. I don’t care what you say. I want to go home. I was so looking forward to moving into my new house. You tricked me. I want Daisy. Who is going to take Daisy? Are you going to bring him here? He can’t stay alone, he’ll die! He doesn’t like other cats. I just don’t understand. You lied to me. I want Daisy. Why did you do this?”

Now David is handing me a tissue box. I can’t stop crying. I’m so confused. I don’t know what is going on. I want to go home. David is explaining that the doctor ordered I come here. What does that old doctor know anyhow?! She gave me lots of medicine and I never take it. Or do I? I don’t remember. Is the medicine supposed to help me? I blame my sons for bringing me here. They want to get rid of me. I can’t stay here.

There’s some nurse at the door. She tells my family they need to go talk to the director. She tries to console me and explain that everything is going to be ok but I see my sons and granddaughter exit the room without saying goodbye and I cry even more. I can’t believe they are leaving me here! They better come back!

-45 minutes later-

There’s an announcement on the intercom saying that they have ice cream in the dining hall. I love ice cream! I guess I will go try to find the dining hall. Oh, never mind, this kind nurse will help me.

I get some ice cream and sit down at a table facing the door. Maybe I will see my family. They have to come back to get me.

Frank Sinatra is singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on the radio… how I wish I were going home for Christmas. This isn’t my home.

The nurse asks me if I am enjoying the ice cream and music.

“I can’t enjoy Christmas music because my heart is broken.”

I sit there and finish my ice cream and ask to go back to my new room. This place isn’t my home.

I don’t remember what I’m doing here… where’s my family?

July 2011

December 12: My Point of View

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This morning and better part of the afternoon was spent moving my grandma into an assisted living facility.

The day before, Padre had stopped by and taken her a favorite meal: Bojangles’ chicken wings, dirty rice, and sweet tea. Padre explained to her that the next day, we would be moving her into an assisted living home where she would be safe and taken care of. He had taken her there earlier in the week to visit and explain that she was going to live there. He said she seemed happy about the move into a new place.

Padre and I arrived at her trailer around 10:30.

I walked in to find her cleaning up the kitchen.

She was dressed in navy sweatpants, a bright red long-sleeved shirt, and the classic white Keds she always wears.  She hugged me and I could see that she wasn’t as foggy as she usually is when I visit. I noticed how genuinely happy she looked. She was actually excited to be going to her “new home” as we had explained to her. I helped her put on a black argyle sweater and her black peacoat before we headed out the door.

She had no idea that was her last time in what had been her home for more than a decade.

A little bit about my Nana before I go on further:  She was born November 30, 1932 in Angier, NC and has always lived off of very little. She is a country girl at heart. Loves old movies, the cooking channel, reading, and word puzzles (sounds just like me, no?) She raised 4 kids alone because her jerk of a husband ran off out West with another woman when the youngest child was just months old. She worked for 30 years at a big company in Raleigh, and has always supported herself and her family. In the past few years however, there had been obvious changes that have taken place with her health. She was diagnosed with skin cancer in a few places on her face, and she was diagnosed as having symptoms of dementia. Cancer was removed and medicines were prescribed. The family had hopes of her being able to be independent for much longer. As always happens, the dementia has twisted her mind. She has been going downhill quickly because she hasn’t been taking her medicine, so we knew it was time to send her somewhere to live.

Today, Monday, December 12, 2011 was the lucky day.

Padre and I gingerly sat Nana in the backseat of my car. To make it more of an adventure rather than a death sentence, Padre drove around the side of Durham where she used to live (and where my Dad & Mom met back in 1987!), and we treated her to a healthy Hardee’s burger and fries. When we got to the nursing home, we parked and went in.

She walked right through the doors, excited to be back for a visit. The kind woman in charge of the facility, welcomed us into her office.

Nana- “Hi. We’re just here for a visit. This is my handsome son and his beautiful daughter. I have the prettiest family members. We just came to see the place. I had Hardee’s. I hadn’t had a burger in the longest time. I used to have fresh meat when I was a little girl… Daddy had hogs and cows and chickens and boy… those were the days. But we’re just here for a visit.”

Oh if only she understood why we were there.

Padre, his brother, and I walked Nana down the maze of hallways to her room. I seriously would have gotten lost if I had been alone! They explained that every day there were different activities and lots of people for her to meet. She kept commenting on the tacky paintings on the walls, saying, “oh that’s lovely. I just love pictures like that.” over and over. We passed rooms with patients lying in bed. In others, the patients were reading or watching tv. We passed lots of patients in the hallways, one of whom asked me, “where is my room? I can’t find my room.” I helped her find it as we continued on our way to Nana’s new room.

When we finally arrived, her roommate was in there.

Nana was a little taken aback that someone was in her room. She introduced herself and looked at her new bed. She inspected everything on her side of the room. It was all entirely new to her.

While Padre and his brother went to the main office to sort things out with the director, I sat with Nana. My job was to distract her. She asked her roommate, Miss M, how she felt when her family brought her to live there.  “My daughter said it was the best thing for me so I came here to live.”

Nana didn’t want to believe that for a minute. “I just don’t understand why they brought me here!” she cried.

Minutes later when her sons were in the room, she really broke down. “You lied to me! You said I was going to my new home! This isn’t my new home! I want to go back. I don’t care what you say. I want to go home. I was so looking forward to moving into my new house. You tricked me. I want Daisy. Who is going to take Daisy? Are you going to bring him here? He can’t stay alone, he’ll die! He doesn’t like other cats. I just don’t understand. You lied to me. I want Daisy. Why did you do this?”

Seeing her in tears and raising her voice about her new home and not having her cat made me want to break down. I had never seen her that weak before. It was so hard staying strong for Padre. So hard.

A nurse came to the room and asked us to leave. We just walked right out on Nana while she cried and bemoaned the whole situation. That was hard too.

The director met with the family members that were there (Padre, his brother, sister-in-law, his sister, and me) and all the papers were signed. Everything was finalized.

Schedules were explained.

Money was sorted out.

Tears were shed.

“It will be harder for you than it will be for her.” the director kept saying over and over, which only caused more tears to silently glide down my face. I wiped them away with a napkin trying not to let Padre see.

We aren’t allowed to visit for two days in order to let her get adjusted to the new environment and getting into the routine of taking her medications and settling in.

As we were leaving a Christmas song, sung by the suave Frank Sinatra, could be heard coming from the main dining hall. The patients were being treated to ice cream and Christmas songs. A nurse came in and informed us that Nana was sitting in the dining hall enjoying ice cream. However, Nana’s words about the afternoon’s activities – “I can’t enjoy Christmas music because my heart is broken.”

My heart is broken, my head is hurting, and I am overall exhausted. I just want to cry.

Moving someone you love into assisted living is hard.

December 2009

(I will be doing sort of a creative writing exercise and writing the events of today from I can imagine Nana’s perspective was, and Padre’s. The creative wheels have been in motion all day long)

Starting a Blog

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One of the hardest parts about starting a blog is coming up with a creative title that describes you, the blog content, and is something catchy.

I wanted something that stood out, something that helped define my life right now, and something from a song. I brainstormed and wandered through my iTunes library for hours attempting to find something that fit those.

 

I had songs from artists such as Coldplay, Gungor, Sufjan Stevens, Tyrone Wells, Dawson & Marie, Andrew Heringer, Milo Greene, Celine Dion, the Civil Wars, and other random phrases that meant something to me.

 

Once I narrowed my title down, I then had to learn how to navigate a new blog website and start a new post. I’ll be honest- my degree isn’t in Media Technology so I’m not the smartest person when it comes to the Internet. Sure I can tweet, check emails, weather, youtube, facebook, etc., but when it comes to creating a blog and customizing it… I definitely lack in those skills. So please bear with me as I make this blog my own! And if you have any pointers, please pass them along! 🙂

 

I love blogging and the outlet it provides me with but starting it was definitely a challenge. Is it just me or does it always seem like the first step in something is the hardest? Whether it’s working out, starting a daily devotion, writing a paper, or those first days in a dating relationship… the beginning is always the hardest.

 

What was the biggest problem you faced when starting a blog?

Finding My Way

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Well, hi there! It’s Meredith here.

Welcome to Find Your Way, a blog about life and the different journeys it takes me on as I find my calling.

The title, Find Your Way 2011 came from song lyrics that I love. The song is called “World Traveler” (by Andrew Heringer) and it describes my life as of now. I hope to find my way in this world and I hope the same for everyone else running around in this sometimes crazy circle of life. Also, one of my goals in life is to be able to call myself a World Traveler…it’s what I aspire to do: travel and build relationships with people all over the world. The year 2011 is significant because I very recently graduated college and am moving on to the next big steps in my life.

B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies, Linguistics & Spanish

I have just moved back to my hometown of Durham, NC and am working part-time at Duke as an administrative assistant. Add in there being a daughter, sister, friend, blogger, mentor, baker, explorer, crafter, reader, thrifter, and tutor and life can kind of get busy! But it’s always wonderful.

I won’t promise that this blog will have any spectacular material…It’s simply life and it’s simply mine.

You’ll read about the good, the bad, and the ugly as I attempt to find my way.

Stick around and maybe you’ll find your way.