Thursday, October 30, 2008

my life

This is my "Poppa" with my daughter, who is sporting an alpaca kerchief on her head. This was taken about 5 years ago at an annual family picnic.

Poppa is my step dad, he and my mom have been married 18 years now. This is how I would like to remember him. He is the sweetest, happiest most positive man I have ever met. He has not been my step dad since we were sealed in the temple with my sister and brother and mom as an eternal family. He has been ever since, my Poppa.

Spiritual and full of knowledge he willingly shared with others, he was a gentle, wise man. Before Alzheimer's disease claimed his mind that is. A greeter at Wal-Mart, he is recognized everywhere. Once my mom and he were on vacation in Idaho and someone recognized him! They said, "Hey! What are you doing here? You belong in Wal-Mart!" to which he replied, "Even a greeter needs a vacation once in a while!"

Known for his holiday hats, cheerful disposition and the time he stood up to a hooligan in the store (and got his back broken for his troubles), he retired after 15 years as a greeter in January of this year, and people still ask about him.

Now he is in a convalescent home, he doesn't know where he is, he doesn't recognize family, and he is sad and confused all the time. It breaks my heart to see him like this. It makes me angry that his life has been taken over by this insatiable disease. I wish- God forgive me- he would just die in his sleep peacefully so we don't have to see that horrible look of confusion and frustration cross his sweet face ever again.

He has been labeled terminal, there is a DNR order so the idea is he will be on hospice care, kept out of pain and comfortable until he slips away... but I wonder if this horrible disease will chain him to his mortal body long after his mind should be gone.

Poppa has a rare condition that is in the same family as Muscular Dystrophy, it runs in his family and a couple of his kids are suffering from it, it is known as the 'falling down disease'. Earlier in life it was okay, he just lose his balance and be okay. Later it came to be a great hardship on him and my mother. He would fall, couldn't get up, then mom couldn't help him get up due to her lack of strength, and this could go on for a looong time. So they devised a system- more about that later. Luckily this disease seems to come with very tough bones and extremely fast healing properties. Never broke a bone.

This whole ordeal has made me think very hard about how vital simple human kindness is. I have seen the best and the worst of human nature rear it's fickle head while my poppa has been a silent recipient of either.

One nurse at the hospital- happened to be the head nurse- downplayed the fall poppa took out of his bed (over the rails and off the elevated bed while we were out looking for hospice facilities) and said the bruise we saw was only from an injection site (he never got any injections in his hip) and then refused to acknowledge the incredible pain he was in until I got all Shirley MaClain on his butt when he then got on the phone and got the Dr. to give him some morphine.
He claimed poppa only fell to his knees. When we told him that's how he learned to position himself after a fall so mom could help him get up, he said NO, he fell only on his knees. How in the world can anyone fall out of a bed the way he did and possibly land on his knees???

Anyone who has dealt with an Alzheimer's patient knows that the state of confusion they live in can lead to incredible agitation. Add to that serious pain that they don't remember doing anything to warrant having in the first place and you are left with a wreck. Poppa went through a night of hell because of this.
This nurse treated poppa, and all who were concerned with him, like we were less than human.

Three days later poppa had a bruise that ran all the way down his thigh, complete with a rail mark, and bruises on his back. Gee...

When we visited several convalescent hospitals, we vacilated between hearing the shower scene from Psycho track upon entering, and seeing nurses that greeted every patient by name, and stopped to visit with each of them even while conducting a tour for us.

Rooms that were customized with portraits, stuffed animals, televisions and plush bathrobes and comforters obviously provided by loving family members, and those patients who were curled up into unimaginable positions and left to stare at the same wall, left for dead, in a room devoid of even the most basic human comfort by all whom they loved over their long lives.

It makes you wonder, really, it makes you wonder...

I worry about my mother, she is so fragile health wise, and this has devastated her. Poppa is her eternal companion, EC- that's what he affectionately called her. She is so far away from me, I feel helpless... I spent a week out there when Poppa had his heart attack, then I came home and was supposed to go back out there today, but I can't afford to right now, there is only $17 in the bank to last our family of 4 two weeks until the next paycheck. Is there anyone who understands how frustrating it is to have to be somewhere that you can't be? It makes me want to scream out loud.

This is my joy! My only cria for the year, born to my sweet dancing girl. She is big and beautiful and the first multi we have had born on our ranch in 10 years! Thank God for little miracles. She was born the day after Poppa's heart attack, and the day I was trying to get out there with the kids so we could say our goodbyes while he was fairly lucid. I told mom I could leave because she wasn't due until the end of the month, surprise! I came out and there she was. So I had to leave her on her birthday, after ensuring everything looked good with her an her momma. Then I was gone for a whole week...

When I came back it was to this healthy bouncing cria that weighed 16.2 lb on her birthday, and 9 days later a whopping 22 lb!! Wow, what a big girl! She is stunning, extremely dense and crimpy fleece, perfect conformation and her daddy's Peruvian stance and head. Perfection.

After losing two of my precious young alpacas, Narya and Quickbeam- aka: Little Boy, last month, this is indeed a blessing. Although, as she and her momma are all we will be keeping, aside from a few boys, it is a double edged blessing. Yes, we are forced to sell our herd of alpacas and leave the business officially. We can't afford to keep them, feed them.... it is a decision we have made against our hearts, but we need to do what is best for our precious alpacas. When you cannot care for an animal the way they deserve to be cared for, then it is time to let them go.


This is Ella. You might remember my post that my beautiful Diane kitty went missing. Well she never came home. My sweet girl was with us for 10 years, and left us with a big hole in our hearts. Her independent attitude and 'Queen of the World' air are deeply missed. I still look for her and dream of her...
After some soul searching, we decided to adopt a kitty from a local rescue, and this is who we fell in love with.

It has been quite a few years since we had a kitty in the house... wow, she is the energizer bunny times 12!! We have had to 'childproof' the whole house, keep an eagle eye on the cleaning solution, and be as determined to keep her in the house as she is determined to get out! But she is a joy as well... small miracles...

So my friends, this is my life right now. Full of so much... I have an ulcer right now, and my neck is in constant pain due to all the stress and tension. Looking for a big miracle now...
Till next time,

Monday, October 13, 2008

The changing garden of Mister Bell

All Photographs Copyrighted by Rachelle Black 2008

This title is a song by children's artist Raffi.
I love Raffi! Some of his songs are just wonderful, and this is my favorite one. It reminds me of my friend Linda.

Linda owns a plant nursery here in our small town, and I have been working there very part time since March of this year. She can grow anything, and specializes in native plants. I swear that girl can put a penny in the ground and grow a $$ tree~

This is a Tiger Lily

Since we live in a mountain area, it is important to Linda that we only sell plants and flowers that will grow in our special climate. She does a great job stocking tons of wonderful things! The nursery is spectacular, full of color and light. Native grasses delicately wave and riotous colors abound everywhere you look. It is a feast for the eyes.

This is a Lemon Sunflower

It is a great job to have, I get to water, transplant, prune and care for everything. We decorate the nursery according to the seasons, and I just finished designing and planting some "Pumpkin Pots" where I actually scooped out the innards of some pumpkins and planted some fall colored flowers! It was great fun, and they look awesome!

These are some White Cosmos

I also get to do a lot of color bowl design, and help customers design their planters and flower beds. I love to do this, and I am getting back in touch with my gardening soul.

This is a Salvia "Hot Lips" ha-ha!
Watering and being among the flowers, with all the bees and good bugs is good for the soul. I enjoy it a great deal, and just wanted to share some of it with you!
Enjoy, and see you next time!