The Cadillac and Tesla Men

When I moved to Alabama some 15 years ago, I had no idea what I would be faced with. When hubby and I left Colorado, we thought our stay would only be about two or three years at most.

Daddy’s wife had passed away and he was showing signs of melancholy. We thought we’d go for a time to cheer him up. Mother was not that far away, only about two hours north in Nashville. Even though I was born in Alabama, I’d really never live there for any length of time. Hubby worked from home and we’d visited Dad several years before and he liked it there, so we thought, why not?

Our Alabama Home – Mom is in the window somewhere.

Well, we were there nine years.

Daddy seemed to be doing fine, but the following summer, mother’s husband had died at her feet while watching TV. She had Alzheimer’s and could not be alone. So, we brought her down with us and for a short time, she came to live with us and Daddy again after some nearly 50 years. That did not work. So we put her in a very nice assisted living facility in Birmingham for awhile, until other arrangements could be made. I was busy, working, prepping her house to sell, getting formal custody of her, trying to get VA benefits and a whole mess of other things. Half the time, mother didn’t know who I was and when she did, it was either curses and sit down strikes.

Eventually, my sweet sister who recently passed away, came up from Florida to help me and we were able to bring mother home. We bought a two story house, really neat, that was perfect. Downstairs was outfitted with safety features for mother, locks for escape prevention and danger. No stove knobs, locks on fridge and all kinds of gizmo’s that we had social services approve of before she could be allowed to leave the facility. My sister lived in the upstairs apartment and had daytime duty. I worked and took night time duty. Hubby stayed at our regular home, one we had bought before all hell broke loose, at least until we sold that.

Daddy, in the meantime, didn’t live from that home and we learn his cancer came back. He didn’t let us know right away though. It was rough.

Dealing with VA, courts, and well, everything imaginable such as mother hiding things in the toilet and stopping up drains, calling out the plumbers, pacing nonstop, screaming abuses, telling hubby, to “watch out for her, she’s a slut!” was painful. I was on an emotional roller coaster and no matter how many people told me it was the dementia, it didn’t help. For one, she was like that before. Once when my brother was visiting, we left Daddy in charge while we went to Trade Day. She decided to get stark naked and lure him to bed. We found him standing at the back door facing away from the house. It was kinda funny actually – seeing daddy like that, I mean. In the meantime, she had no clue and had forgotten what she’d been about and was now trying to figure out the shower when I found her. Like I said, no knobs, so she couldn’t accidentally hurt herself. So that was my life. Each day was an adventure and one never knew what another day would bring.

As I mentioned, I worked. I had a long, but pleasant drive, 38 miles each way. Each day, depending on how things were going at home, I would scream, cry, sing Amazing Grace along with Il Divo or pray all the way to work. God and I had some mighty fine chats and rants. He didn’t care if I cursed at Him for the burden I was shouldering, He took it rather well. By the time I arrived to work, I’d be at peace.

On my way to work each day, I was fortunate enough to be traveling through small towns and farmland. At least my travels were beautiful and peaceful. I’d often pass a few cars going in the opposite direction. One blessing sent my way was the Cadillac. That’s when I noticed the Cadillac man. Each day, he’d wave as I passed. At first, it was nothing more than the common farmer one finger wave, later it would become the half hand over the steering wheel wave and once when one of us had either been away a few days or something, it would be a full on wave, like “happy to see you again”. Sometimes, he had an older woman with him and at other times a small child. Mostly, he was alone and each day we got to looking forward to seeing each other.

I remember telling my sister about him and we would make up stories about who he was, what he did and where he was going each day. I even wrote a short story about how he showed up suddenly at the open house of our little coffee shop/bookstore/tea house, that she and I had always dreamed of having. He was either a doctor, lawyer, an architect or some such. It was always comforting knowing he would pass me by each day just before it was time to come into the clinic I worked at. I think God put him there just for that. After I got transferred closer to home, I saw him only now and again, as his route went through the town I lived in, but he didn’t know me outside of my little red car, so he never waved. I did get a closer look and he was an older gentleman and I wondered if he missed that little red car that used to pass him by each day.

The Tesla.

Now I have a Tesla man, only I’m not sad or depressed, but… he is still inspiring. My Tesla man is a young man, who waves each day as I pass by on my walks.

I need him right now. A couple of months ago I determined to be in the best shape ever for my 75th birthday, so I committed myself to walking, since gyms were closed. Each year, I give myself a new challenge. Last year I jumped out of an airplane. This year, I will do hang gliding and by my next birthday the video. Unfortunately, I tend to lose interest in any regular exercise routine and as luck would have it, my knee gave out and the pain has been at times debilitating. Good excuse to quit, right?

No! Not good. Not good on two counts. One, I could be crippled and two, my project would be impossible to achieve. As it is, the elaborate moves I had in mind have to be modified. My goal when I started out was to trim down, so I could do an energetic dance video, beginning with showing the process from out of shape to in shape and then the routine. If my legs don’t work, there’s no video. Getting out each day at Odark hundred was going to be challenging enough. This could have been the end of that dream, except for the fact, that my Tesla man, whether he knows it or not, keeps cheering me on. His waves, not unlike the Cadillac man’s are my hope and inspiration to keep at it. I know that at 7:30 am each morning, just like the Cadillac man, he will pass, smile and wave. I just can’t let him down. Like the Cadillac man, we will probably never meet, but it doesn’t matter. It’s my catalyst, my impetus and hope, giving me the determination to keep at it.

Maybe I’m his too. You know, I was thinking, and perhaps it’s worth pondering over, but none of us knows how a small gesture like that can inspire or comfort someone we don’t know or may never meet. Think about that.

I’m sure these two guys have no clue.

For all I know, the Cadillac man had a failing wife or aging parent he had to take into the city for treatments too.

Maybe the young Tesla man, has a frustrating, high pressure job and wishes he could be out walking too. My smile, my wave, who knows? They may help him start his day as well.

One never knows do they?

Dying Alone in the Time of CoVid-19

This blog was going to address the question of what we were doing with our time,  but it’s a matter I’ve seen dealt with in other blogs and even though I only got around to writing the first two paragraphs, when I got back to it, I realized a more important event that some of us may not have thought of is taking place.

My first line was:  What are we doing with our time?  Better yet, what am I doing with my time?

At first I played games and binge watched shows, but to be honest, I was watching things I wouldn’t normally watch, so I stopped. I quit watching doomsday or apocalyptic shows, like TWD and started looking for films that were upbeat. There really isn’t much out there and I don’t get Hallmark.  I think that was when I wrote instead,  “Wishing for a Musical”.

Actually, what I was doing is stewing a lot about my sister in Critical Care and/or ICU, because they, the doctors, kept bouncing her back and forth between the two places. I hated too, that while she was there the past two months, she couldn’t possibly get better because there were NO VISITORS allowed!   I got to thinking about so many others out there like her.  Families like ours.  So I started doing “busy” things.

Sure, I refinished some furniture until three weeks ago when my C5-C6 rebelled and put me in the ER. It was like a charlie horse in my back that wouldn’t go away.  Hubby and I first tried to work it out like you would a charlie horse and it got worse.  So the paramedics came and off I went.

There I was sitting in a wheelchair unable to move, all alone and my previous musings slapped me in the face multiple times until it got my attention.  I looked around at the people I didn’t know, like 4 or 5 of us spaced out in the room, but no family members by our side. One lady decided she didn’t like it or where she was, so she got up from her wheelchair and moved over by me.  I was in so much pain, I could neither stand nor sit without help. Between clenched teeth I hissed,  “No!  You’re too close, go away!” , but she didn’t listen and kept moving in even closer. I was in too much pain to roll away.  I felt helpless. Thankfully, a nurse rescued me and took me away, just as the woman settled in the closest seat to me! I guess I looked like a friendly face despite my hissing.  Some things, I guess you can’t hide.

I didn’t cry but I felt like throwing up, my Bp went up to 249/111 and I could hardly breathe and I waited.  They did scans and ran tests and I waited.  My four  hours felt like an eternity and I waited. That whole time I couldn’t even take a selfie to document my misery! Finally, I was heavily dosed and we called hubby to pick me up.  I was so sedated, I could not focus.  I was the equivalent of an inebriated drunk in pain.  The pills they gave me made my mouth feel so dry and nasty. I won’t tell you all the other things these pills made my body do or not do.  I did have time to think though.

You see, when I worry, I keep busy so I don’t have time to think about it, whatever it happens to be.  If you’re a blogger I follow, I probably hit “like” delete and no comment, or I pretended I’d read it or I read it and didn’t comment because I just didn’t have the energy to do anything else. Forgive me. By the end of the second week they lifted part of the ban, hubby asked if could walk. I was feeling like a walk.  It didn’t hurt to walk anymore, but as you noticed, I still didn’t have the energy to write about our hike until yesterday.

BACK TO THE PATIENTS

Think about all these non Covid-19 patients in hospitals all around the world not getting to see or hear their loved ones voices or feel a touch or a hug from them.  It was no wonder my sister began declining. We are all very close, but if there was a chance for her mind to come back it went with the lockdown.  The question at the top of my mind, “Was there ever a cognisant moment where she wondered where we’d gone?” I wondered and felt an overwhelming sadness.

Finally, this week, the doctor told my nephews that he did not believe she would recover.   Her brain has apparently atrophied.  Of course, if it isn’t being used or recognizing familiar sounds or voices around her… where was her motivation? When she spoke last, I was asking her and telling her about things she was familiar with, so I could get a yes, and finally, an “okay” when I told her “I have to leave, but you get better, so you can visit me in California”.  It gave her mind something to work on.

It made me sad this past week reflecting on not only her situation, but that of others during this pandemic.  She’s not the only one alone right now and my nephews are also not the only ones prevented from being near their loved ones when they need it most.

In November, my cousin, who had Parkinson’s, but because of her weak state, caught pneumonia, was hospitalized.  There, in the months that followed,  she had a series of three strokes, the last one being the most debilitating.  Her family was not allowed to see her because of quarantine.  Hispanic families are very much about family, so not liking the situation, they fought to bring her home.  She, unlike my sister was somewhat aware and once home they said their goodbyes and I love you’s.  Within 24 hours or so she passed.  I know that was how she would have wanted it.  Her siblings never made it in time, but her children, grandchildren and husband of 50+ years were all there. She was 4 months older than my sister.

I’m sure there are other stories like these.  We are living in an unprecedented time, no doubt.  I realize hospitals have to be extra careful, but in my heart I cry for all these folks who can’t be with loved ones.  Some of these patients may not consciously understand why their loved ones aren’t there.  There may even be confusion and concern. It’s an impossible situation.

After the conversation with the doctor, her boys had to decide.  Do we keep doing what we’re doing and not get to see her and her not improving and possibly dying alone or do we put her under hospice care, where at least we can be with her?  On the remote possibility something turns around, where her mind can possibly absorb the sounds of their voices, they opted for the latter.  Sure, they know it may not happen, but then who knows?  There is always the off chance of a miracle.  What if something penetrates and she realizes she’s not alone?  WHAT IF?

In the meantime, she has a room with a beautiful view and she is getting soft massage like music played in her room. (She was a massage therapist) It is peaceful. But, the best part is her family can visit.

The view from her room and she and I, after a bike ride, a few years back.  She’s the tall pretty one.

 

IS IT POSSIBLE?

I know each hospital room has a TV and they are almost always on.  Has anyone thought to video family members talking to them and perhaps cycling positive messages and images from loved ones to these patients?  Many of these patients, even those not totally aware may be staring at or hearing the noise of a horrible TV with depressing news cycling all day long with information, that for the moment may not apply to them or it’s playing some stupid show they’ve seen a hundred times already.  How much better would it be to hear the sound or possibly the face or faces of  loved ones on the screen instead? Or, perhaps a family video of a special moment.  I would think that could aid their recovery.

Maybe someone out there has thought of doing this or maybe not. I don’t have the skill to run with this, though I wish I did.

In the meantime, if you’re with me on this, send all the good vibrations, prayers and love you can muster in all directions on behalf of all these special people.

Just sayin’

Change

Baja Run
Baja Run by Jo Weber

I just got an email encouraging writers to submit their screenplays on a particular website.

I had been thinking about doing that for sometime, but never quite got around to doing it when low and behold there was  a screenplay with a similar title as mine.  I was dashed.

My first thought was someone stole my idea and in my mind I started thinking back in my mind of everyone I’d sent a copy of my screenplay to and did the usual paranoid new writer thing of “Damn, damn, damn!”.  I think I may have been more angry at myself for my lack of follow through and someone beat me to the punch.

My son wrote me these encouraging words: (I’ve blanked out names since my intention here is not to slam another project or person)

“Mom,

Do your due diligence, but don’t be afraid to share things as well. As an artist I have learned that there are always the risks that someone will steal your work…  If someone wants it, they will take it.  I would find out what precautions they recommend. You have to give in order to get back and sometimes there is risk involved, but don’t be afraid to trust anyone or you won’t get the support you need. I would keep going with XXXX, you put a lot of work into it.  I’m not absolutely sure this is the case, but if something IS stolen from you just remember, YOU are the source.  You are filled with plenty more million dollar ideas where that came from and that can’t be taken from you.  Don’t think in terms of scarcity, that wasn’t your one-shot at success it was your trial run. Think of how much you’ve grown as a writer since that first draft.  Not to mention, I looked up XXXX.  It was an abysmal film.  No one will accuse you of ripping off a terrible film, they only do that for good films because of the notion you’re attempting to piggyback on their success.  This other movie wasn’t your vision, it was a B movie.  Many of the studios Stallone shopped his script to wanted to make changes but he stuck to his guns. I say make your film the way you want it to be made and they will remember it; no one will remember XXXX.  Heck, if it makes you feel better, just change the name.  That may have been the most significant thing they took after all, since the movie was so forgettable.  Here’s the only review (more reviews had come in since) on IMDB had to say:
 
“It is rare that I give up on a movie within 30 minutes but in this case, I was so unimpressed that I did just that. . . I cannot comment on the story itself as it did not really have a chance to develop in the short time I was able to stand it. I would advise against watching this film unless you are hell bent on keeping track of the lead actor’s career which, going by this effort, is heading deep South.”
 
We’ll talk soon, Hang in there! I’m pulling for you.  You’ve come too far to turn back down now 🙂
 
Love,  ian”
Shortly after that I found myself back into the stymied mode, doing nothing. How am I ever going to make it in the Biz?  As I have mentioned before the odds are stacked against me according to statistics, so I let this sit awhile and in the words of Meg Ryan in French Kiss, I allowed to let it “fester, fester, fester” (I think she really only said it twice).
BTW. I rented the movie and yes there were similarities but it was enlightening.  It showed me what direction not to take my film. So, I’m back on track doing a rewrite and working on other projects as well.
There’s a saying and I don’t know who originated it, but it goes something like this…
“If you’re doing the same thing over and over again and getting nowhere then change it” – unknown (to me)
A thump on the head moment, “Like Duh!”
Now to keep on, keep on!