I got home Tuesday night and I'm still shell-shocked. Here's what happened on my last two days in Southern CA:
Didn't sleep the night before. Kept waking up with persistent thoughts of what needed to be done on Monday. I had arrived the previous Sunday, but it took me until Tuesday night to start figuring out the situation, and then I only had Wednesday as a business day to make calls and see people, then everything was pretty much closed Thursday-Sunday for the Thanksgiving holiday. So Monday was a critical day for me, the last day to try to do anything before I left to go home on Tuesday.
Like I said, I couldn't sleep, so I got up at 5:15am and finished cleaning out the second half of my grandmother's bathroom cupboards. First I did her cosmetics. She had a whole big cupboard of old stuff that was leaking, dusty, separated, just plain bad. I collected four grocery bags full of trash, and left her the remaining good facial cleansers, makeup, perfume, etc.
It was sad, because the day before I had shopped for some Olay Total Effects moisturizer that she had on a shopping list (from when, I don't know), and when I brought it home for her, she didn't know what it was or how to use it. So I figured it might be kind of useless arranging her cosmetics for her, since she really wasn't able to put on makeup anymore or use any of it properly, but at least I could get rid of all the junk.
Next I took care of her medications. I collected them all in a special clear organizer that I bought at Target, wrote out a 4-week schedule increasing her thyroid and anti-dementia/Alzheimer's drugs up to a final permanent dose, and then divided up her first week's pills into the pillbox that I got for her. Target is really cutting edge when it comes to medication design. Their prescription bottles have won design awards, and the pillboxes that I bought there were really something too.
Finally, she had a cupboard crammed full of old ragged towels that she also kept her underwear, stocking and bras in. Total chaos. Instead of getting new bras/underwear/stockings out of the cupboard, she was washing out the same ones day after day and putting them back on. I got rid of all the ripped, stained, worn out towels, all the bras that didn't fit her, and other random crap in there, left her the two nice sets of matching bathroom towels that she had, and put her decent bras, underwear and stockings into little bins.
Julian woke up and came into the bathroom around 6:45am. He was content to play in there with me while I finished up the best I could, then he started asking for his breakfast, so I took him out to the kitchen to get him some cereal and juice.
Nanny woke up not too long after. We all had breakfast together. She seemed very agitated that morning. Not long after she finished breakfast she went into her bedroom and started putting on the same outfit she had worn the day before. I had her take it off and put on a new outfit. Then she went in the bathroom and went through all the cupboards looking for earrings to put on. I had hidden them, since she had an infection in her right ear and yet kept putting an earring through it and making it worse. Ugh.
Then she went through her newly reorganized cosmetics and started putting on moisturizer and foundation. She was doing OK, but she seemed upset. She kept saying, "I just don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm putting on. I put on some of this and some of that, but I don't know what to do next." It was odd, because she hadn't put on any makeup the whole time I had been there, but something about her reorganized cupboards got her all fired up about having makeup on and doing it correctly. She was in there for a long time. I just let her be.
In the meantime I was finishing up the funeral paperwork to fax in to the Omega Society so that would be taken care of when Bopah finally passed. Tick tock, tick tock. TIme was passing and I had a zillion things to check off my list that day. I kept thinking of more tasks and writing them in my notebook.
Social Security had stopped sending her monthly checks, I must get that figured out. I tried to call and do it over the phone, pretending to be Nanny, but then the agent asked me what my mother's maiden name was and I had to go ask Nanny. She remembered, but the delay got me busted. The agent said I obviously wasn't Mrs. Erickson, and she couldn't help me any further. I admitted that I wasn't and explained the situation. No dice. And power of attorney wasn't recognized by Social Security. What??? I would have to bring Nanny into the office in Fountain Valley to resolve things. Great. Just great.
Tick tock, tick tock.
The caregiver from the agency was supposed to come by between 8:00-10:00am that morning so that I could explain to her what needed to be done, show her where things were, and get her familiar with the situation. It was bad enough that I would only have one meeting with her, and even worse that it wouldn't be the same person every time, but a rotation of 3-4 different people. Hopefully the info would get transferred, but it didn't sound good, and the prospect of all those people coming in when Nanny couldn't even keep ONE person straight in her memory half the time...I was really stressed out. But, having no other choice, I had to go with it and hope for the next.
Nine o'clock AM came and went. By 9:45am I was frazzled. Where the hell was this woman? WHY was she not showing up? God damn it, I had one day to get this done and no time for fucking around!
At ten o'clock I was on the phone with Emergency Meals to get food delivery set up until Meals on Wheels kicked in when Nanny came in from outside accompanied by a pleasant-looking woman of about 35-40 years old. I thought the caregiver agency people were older...they were all Leisure World residents who worked as caregivers in their spare time for extra income, a prospect I was not thrilled about.
I asked her if she was Nancy and she said no. Confused, I told her I would be right with her once I got off the phone with Emergency Meals. OK, finally done. So, who was she?
She said that she was Fran, and she was Roger's caregiver. Roger's the nice eldery neighbor who has been shuttling my grandmother around and keeping an eye on her for the last few months. She sat down and told me that she had heard that I was looking for someone to care for Miss Irene.
It turns out that she had been coming over and doing things for Nanny for quite some time, at least six months. She took her to her appointments, she gave her her medicine, all kinds of things. She wasn't really working for her, so she wasn't charging her any money regularly. If she wasn't busy with Roger or another client she would look in on my grandparents to see what they were doing and what they needed. Usually my grandfather would run her off and tell her to scram, they didn't need anything. Occasionally she would take my grandmother grocery shopping or to a doctor's appointment, and my grandmother would offer to pay her, but that was about it.
We talked for a while and she was totally up on the situation. There was nothing that I told her that she didn't already know. Nanny didn't take her meds. She wore the same clothes day after day. She wasn't eating. My grandfather had continued to deteriorate physically. and my grandmother to deteriorate mentally. The situation had become more and more serious. Roger and most of the neighbors were worried sick, but there was only so much they could do. They worried about taking on too much with *so* much to be done, such big decisions to be made, and no family around.
So Fran helped my grandparents when they let her do so, and when she had time, but they weren't officially clients or anything. She had also been one of the people who helped take Nanny to the hospice for visits over the past month while Bopah had been there along with several of the neighbors.
On top of her knowing all the issues and the history, Fran was also a licensed NURSE and so was perfectly qualified to administer all the complicated meds that Nanny had to take. She knew exactly what she took, what it was for, who her doctors were, where to find them, etc. Also how to administer the eye drops that she needed twice a day to control the glaucoma that was slowly blinding her.
I'm telling you, I'm not a religious person at all, but it was like a freaking MIRACLE that this woman walked in the door when she did. I'm still completely shocked about the whole thing. Especially since the agency caregiver NEVER showed up, then called me later that afternoon with some lame excuse about haivng to go in for a mammogram and maybe we could reschedule? NO! WE CANNOT RESCHEDULE! TODAY IS IT!
Naturally, I hired Fran on the spot. She also charged HALF of what the agency was going to charge me, and unlike them, she could do everything that needed to be done. Transportation, cleaning, laying out clothing, giving meds, checking on her meals and getting those ready for her, helping her pay bills and open mail, the works. I felt like I was hiring a surrogate ME, which was really what was needed. She would come in twice a day and just take care of whatever need to be done that day.
Jesus Christ, what a relief. The only problem was weekends and holidays. Obviously she needed days off to have her own life. But then how would Nanny's meds get taken? She couldn't just go off her meds every weekend. That was my big worry. Fran said she would try to come up with a solution.
The whole conversation was taking place on the couch in the living room, then I got up to show her the box where I had collected all Nanny's medications and written out the dosage schedule. After that I showed her the newly organized bras and underwear and stockings, then we moved into the bedroom. It was still reeking of pee in there from my grandfather and his incontinence. I never got around to hiring a carpet cleaner. Very sad and upset about that...not on my Nanny's behalf, since I don't think she noticed or cared, but it was awful to have Fran there knowing that SHE must have smelled it.
While I was showing her Nanny's new clothes, Nanny came in all upset.
"What are you two doing in here?" she asked.
"Nanny, I'm just showing her your new clothes."
"Well why? Does she want to take them?"
"No, Nanny. Fran is going to be helping you out once I leave, so she needs to know where to find the things you need."
"What? I don't need any help. And I don't even know this person."
At this point Fran said in a gentle voice, "Miss Irene, don't you remember me? I work with Roger. We've gone to the grocery store together, and to your hair appointments, and to you doctor. I've known you for a while now, Miss Irene. "
Nanny looked her square in the face and said, "You've never taken me anywhere. I've never seen you before in my life. I know Roger has a girl who comes in, but I've never seen her."
It was awful, just awful. She was so upset, and so rude to Fran. So unlike Nanny, the soul of politeness! God...
Fran took it all in stride though. I explained again to Nanny that Fran would be helping her, for example, with her medications and eyedrops. Hey, how about we go show Fran the eyedrops now? I hadn't put them in yet that morning, since I had been waiting to do it with the agency caregiver around so that they would know how to do it.
Nanny was still fussing and fuming, but she went in the bathroom and let me put her eyedrops in while Fran watched. Fran already knew how to do it, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to show her anyway, so she could see how I had Nanny press on her eyes while I held her hands in place and timed her for two minutes afterwards.
As we were putting the eyedrops in, the doorbell rang and it was Craig, the counselor from SCAN (Senior Care Action Network, I think?). Ugh, bad timing. Nanny was already upset and overwhelmed and mad as a wet hen, and now here was yet another person. Worse, she would have to sign paperwork with Craig to begin housekeeping services once a week, something that wasn't going over so well with her. PLUS she had refused to let in the people from SCAN in the past. Dammit.
I said goodbye to Fran and let Craig in. He sat down at the table and immediately Nanny was up in arms. Who was this? What did HE want? What were all these papers? Julian started to fuss as well. I pulled him onto my lap and realized that his pants were wet.
"Did you spill milk on yourself, Juju?"
"No Mommy, I spilled peepee."
Great. Fantastic. I excused myself while I pulled Julian's pants off and threw them in the hamper in the bathroom. I didn't bother putting new pants on him, I just sat back down at the table and held him on my lap nakeybutt. What the hell. I kept thinking of Britney Spears' line about driving with her baby in the car on her lap. "We're country". Oh well, no time to be mortified right now.
I started explaining gently to Nanny that I was setting up help for her once a week and that's why Craig was here, just for the heavy cleaning like vacuuming and dusting high places, stuff that she couldn't do anymore. This wasn't 100% true, but it was the best way to explain it to her.
Craig started saying that they would also clean her kitchen and bathroom too. I was shooting him a pure "NO, SHUT UP!" look, but he didn't catch on.
Predictably, Nanny exploded.
"Clean my kitchen and bathroom? Well what am *I* supposed to do then? Just sit around and dirty things up? Am I that bad a housekeeper? I've kept a clean house my entire life, and now all of a sudden I need someone in here doing everything for me while I just sit on my ass like a useless lump?!"
I knew mentioning the kitchen would be like throwing gasoline on a fire. In spite of everything, she still kept her kitchen spotless and washed up the dishes perfectly and put them away the minute a meal was over. Unlike me, the non-demented one, who often just piled dishes in the sink at home and went to bed at night. To Nanny, this would be unthinkable.
She was frantic, and furious, and completely, completely upset at the prospect of someone coming in to clean her kitchen. Craig was taken aback. I tried telling him outright to just cool it, she had had an overwhelming day and was very upset and agitated.
Nanny asked, "How much will this cost me anyways?"
Craig had already explained that it would be $8.50 per visit, and each visit would last up to 4 hours, depending on what needed to be done. Then he started to go into all the details of montlhy charges and typically it worked out to $34 a month, but sometimes there were 5 weeks in a month, and blah, blah, blah..did she understand all this? He droned on pointlessly with all the bureaucratic minutiae of the setup and Nanny started to freak out with the excess information.
She went into a loop, alternating between:
"Well what am *I* supposed to do then? Just sit around and dirty things up? Am I that bad a housekeeper? I've kept a clean house my entire life, and now all of a sudden I need someone in here doing everything for me while I just sit on my ass like a useless lump?!"
"How much will this cost me anyways?"
and Craig kept answering with more and more info each time, which set her into another round of exactly the same questions.
Finally I grabbed him and hissed, "Let's just sign the papers. PLEASE don't say anything else. She's just getting upset. She's overwhelmed and she doesn't understand. JUST LET IT GO."
Nanny signed, but she was fuming and telling us she shouldn't sign and she didn't WANT so sign and we were just trying to have her put away in a home, and she should just die right then and there and all kinds of craziness.
I was ready to have my nervous breakdown immediately. I couldn't wait to get Craig out the door. For a guy who supposedly dealt with needy senior citizens all day and had a Masters in Social Work, he obviously had no clue how to talk to old people with dementia. For some reason he was just clueless about speaking simply. He kept adding in all this unnecessary level of detail when talking to Nanny. I mean, with me, fine, but with her? Didn't he realize that it was pointless? That it was just making things unnecessarily difficult?
What was crystal clear to Fran, Craig was oblivious to. Where Fran had been understanding and soothing with Nanny and let it all the crazy talk roll off her like water off a duck's back, Craig was visibly upset and starting to freak out.
After the papers were signed I shooed him out as fast as I could. "It's a bad day Craig. I'm sorry you had to go through this. She's not normally this agitated. Thanks for coming by."
I practically pushed him out the door and closed it. I went back to Nanny and showed her the day's crossword in the paper. She quieted down and started working it.
One great thing about memory loss is that no matter what happens, you'll forget about it in a matter of minutes. Well, actually some important events she filed away, like when Bopah had told her he wanted to go to the hospital. She remembered THAT and recounted it over and over. And also that my mom had told the DMV that she had dementia and her license had been taken away, when she still had four more years left on it. Why, she had just gotten that license renewed! THOSE things stuck in her mind.
But apparently nothing that morning was so memorable. She calmed right down and even became cheery. She did seem to understand that I was looking out for her, and that people DID notice what she did, what she looked like, how clean her house was, whether or not she took her medication, etc. And they had not only noticed, but found her lacking. She understood that, because all day she was very busy cleaning and picking up and putting things away, arranging her clothes, combing her hair. She also told me several times that she was so glad that I was there to help her, and what would she do without me?
So some pieces did sink in, somewhere in her brain. Not the surface details, but the deeper realization. After all the upset of the morning, and all her fighting, she was fairly accepting of things the rest of the day.
I brought up Fran every time when she asked me what she would do once I went home, and she didn't know who I was talking about, but she didn't argue about the concept nearly as much. Each time that it came up, she argued it less. She never recognized Fran's name, and she was surprised each time when I said that someone was coming in to help her out, but the idea of it upset her less and less.
It's strange what information sticks and what's lost. I don't quite get it. I guess it has to do with the parts of the brain that are damaged. Names are definitely a problem. She never knew Julian's name, not one time. She called me everything from Doris to Doreen to Debbie to Sandy to Beverly, and a million other family members besides.
One morning I was writing down all the names and numbers from random scraps of paper tacked up on the wall onto a single piece of lined paper. She picked up an address card from her niece Doreen, read it, and asked me, "Is this you?" I said no, I wasn't Doreen, I was Laura. She seemed confused by this. It was really upsetting to me as well. How could she not know who I was? I mean, she knew ME, but my name and identity was a problem. I knew it had to do with the particular part of her brain affected, but still....so awful.
The rest of the day was a blur. The morning was so awful, I was ready to snap. And we still had to go to Social Security and straighten out the mixup there. I also had to get her house key from her to make copies of it, one ofr Fran and one for me. I got her and Julian in the car and then claimed I had to pee. She gave me her key and then forgot about it when I came back. I felt bad taking advantage of her memory loss, but oh well.
I took her and Julian through the drive-through at In-and-Out Burger for lunch. She loved her burger and kept exclaiming how delicious it was. Then off to the Social Security office, where luckily everything went smoothly.
Then it was time to go visit Bopah. Julian fell asleep in the car on the way there. I dropped her off right at the front entrance and nervously watched her go in by herself. She knew the way in to Bopah's room if we went in the front door, but not if we came in the back entrance, where parking was easier. I told her that I would be waiting inthe car while Julian slept and I'd come in and get her when he woke up.
When she was inside I called information and asked for the nearest locksmith. Amazingly, there was one only a block away. I got the key copied and then headed over to pick up her prescription refills back at Leisure World. Got that done, Julian still snoozing in his carseat while I watched him through the window.
Went back to pick her up at the hospice and woke up Julian. When we went in the room Bopah was laying there looking like he was already dead, his mouth hanging wide open. Horrible. He gasped for air and thrashed around every few minutes, but never opened his eyes. Nanny looked drained. "He's not improving," was all she said.
I felt bad for leaving her there by herself. But what else could I do? I had so much to get done. I kissed Bopah and took Nanny's hand and led her out to the car. Poor, poor thing. As I was about to get in the car, a man rushed out of the hospice and called to me. "Are you her family?" he asked.
"Yes, I am." He turned out to be the social worker there, Charles, and he was desperately trying to get hold of someone to talk to who was capable of making decisions regarding Bopah. He had my mom's old phone number, but it had been disconnected when she moved away, and he had tried talking to Nanny, but hadn't gotten anywhere. Somehow he had gotten wind of my being around on this, my last day there, and rushed out just in time to catch me. Another near-miss that day.
We talked and he said that my grandfather was NOT, in fact, receiving hospice care, but was still considered to be admitted under the skilled nursing category, which meant that they legally had to pursue treatment for him aggressively and prolong his life in any way possible. I made it very clear that this was against all of our wishes, and that we didn't want to prolong his life (if you could call it that anymore) at all, just make him as comfortable as we could, but to let him go as quickly as possible. No feeding tube, no IV, no interventions. Just keep him clean and warm and cared for, and let him go.
Charles ran inside and grabbed some paperwork for me to sign, and right then and there we switched Bopah over to hospice care. This meant a little bit less expense too, and access to a bunch of social services. All good. I was so glad that he had caught me before I left.
More errands to run. We went to the bank. I had found a mysterious check from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy when I was going through mounds of documents and papers. It was for almost $2000 and had a recent date. I had no idea why Nanny and Bopah would be getting a check for that much from the GGNPC. It's still a total mystery. Just one more of many. But I had Nanny sign the check and deposited it in her account while she waited in the car. I also filed my power of attorney with the bank while we were there. One more task crossed off the list. Whew.
I decided to skip 3 or 4 non-essential tasks. What was left that HAD to be done? Hmmm. We went to the market and I stocked her up on frozen dinners and healthy snacks to get her through until the Emergency Meals started coming in a week or two. With Fran watching over her, she might actually remember to eat.
I wasn't so worried about that anymore though. The first days after I arrived, she hardly ate a thing. But once I got settled in and started preparing meals for her three times a day, she cleaned her plate. Skin and bones, the poor starving thing. This was the grandmother who has asked me first thing when I came to visit each time, "What would you like to eat?" and now she was down to 112 pounds and barely eating enough to survive.
In the days before I left though, she ate a big hearty breakfast every morning. Eggs, fruit, two pieces of toast with peanut butter, juice, coffee, sometimes a bowl of cereal with blueberries, and the last day we had sliced smoked salmon too. HUGE breakfast every morning.
Big lunch. Mid-afternoon snack. Big dinner. Dessert. The first few days she was too full to clean her plate, but after that she finished every last bite I put on it, and I always gave her a little bit more than I thought she could eat.
As we were finishing up at the market I got a call from the hospice director. Charles hadn't wasted any time filing the paperwork and alerting people that time was running short and I was leaving town. She asked to meet with me the next day before I left, to finalize things and sign a few more papers for Bopah's care. I knew the next morning would be super-rushed, but had to squeeze this in somehow. Christ.
OK, time to go home. I made a big dinner and put together the new file cart with hanging files for all Nanny's important paperwork. I found one more drawer FULL of envelopes, over a hundred of them. Ugh. I sat on the floor while Nanny and Julian watched Animal Planet, filing and trashing, filing and trashing. I filled up three more grocery bags with old papers. Bank statements from 1987. Medical files from 1976.
Something weird happened. Nanny was sitting in the recliner and I was sitting on the floor next to her.
All of a sudden she said to me, "Don't throw away those things so fast, there might be some money hidden in there." SO BIZARRE....the very NEXT envelope that I looked in had a bank envelope in it with $400 cash in twenties inside! She had no clue what envelopes I was looking at or where I had gotten them from. She just said it, and then the cash appeared.
I was shocked, and showed her the money.
"Oh, where did that come from?"
I told her that I had just found it in her papers. She counted it a few times and then seemed unsure what to do with it. I told her to put it in her wallet. We put $60 in the main compartment, and then stuck the rest in the inside zipper as a reserve.
I finally finished filing at around 9:30. Totally exhausted. What a day. We all washed our faces, brushed our teeth, put Nanny's eyedrops in, got jammies on and went to bed.
Woke up at 1:00am, freaking out about things I hadn't finished. Goddammit. I still needed to get Roger's phone number and address written down. I needed to write Fran's number on Nanny's phone list. I needed to write directions next to the phone for Nanny: "If you do not know the person on the phone, tell them to call your granddaughter Laura Hamilton at XXX-XXX-XXXX and HANG UP."
Rush, rush, rush. Exhausted. Went back to sleep. Nonstop dreams about finishing things, Nanny decrepit, in filthy clothing, hungry, etc.
Woke up again at 6:30am, and Julian not long after. Folded up the hide-a-bed. Started packing the suitcase. Made breakfast. Forgot to clean off Nanny's desk. Not like she'll use it, but at least it might be theoretically possible if it's clean and not full of crap. So I grabbed one more big bag and started dumping junk. Two old non-working wall phones, a Microsoft email/internet appliance that I bought for Nanny that she never used (too hard for her to see the monitor text, should have checked that beforehand), a bunch of dusty crappy broken baskets with dusty fake flowers, a pile of "inspirational" Unity booklets and desk calendars from 2004 and BOTA stuff.
Oh, the BOTA stuff. My grandparents have had this mystical crap around ever since I can remember. I never paid any attention to it really, but when I was cleaning up I actually read over some of it and it's NUTS.
BOTA stands for Builders of the Adytum. Check it out: http://www.bota.org/. I can't even begin to explain it, it's like every bizarre cult I've ever heard of, rolled into one.
So there's that, too. Man oh man. THAT's what they were into this whole time? Weird, weird, weird.
Anyway, I ran around doing last minute cleaning and making breakfast and packing up. Nanny was agitated again, probably because she knew I was leaving. She opened the medication box and tried to take her pills. I told her that from now on Fran would be helping her with her pills and she didn't need to worry about remembering to take them on her own. Got a new outfit out for her to put on.
Finally, it was time to go. I gave her a big hug and kiss, told her that she would be taken care of by Fran and Roger and all the people who love her, and that I would still be looking out for her at home. Tried to drill the "hang up on strangers or refer them to me" routine into her head the best I could, but it didn't stick very well. Maybe she'll read the sign next to the phone, but I'm not counting on it.
Took off in the car and raced over to the hospice to sign the papers for Bopah there. I said goodbye to him, told him that I loved him, and that I had taken care of Nanny the best I could. She had a clean house and new clothes and a fridge full of food, someone to watch over her and take care fo her every day, make sure she took her pills, all that. He didn't have to worry about her. I told him that my mom loved him too and wished she could be there. He couldn't speak, but he was trying to. I could tell he was all choked up and sort of crying.
The last thing I did was to growl at him, which was a special little thing we did. He mouthed a growl back at me, but no sound came out. One last kiss on the forehead and I walked out with Julian. It hit me all of a sudden that I would never see him again, and I started to bawl, but I choked it back just in time and pulled myself together.
Now on to Great-aunt Doris' to return the car and catch SuperShuttle to the airport. Julian was exhausted and fell asleep in the car, even though it was only 11:00am. We arrived at Doris' about 45 minutes later.
She had lunch all ready, it had been warming in the oven since morning. I wasn't hungry, but I tried to eat to be polite. She did have some oatmeal raisin cookies. I ate one, but then when I was looking at the dish that they were on I saw a big worm crawl away from one cookie, and I saw that it was all webby. I wasn't *too* grossed out, because I knew it was just an Indianmeal moth and I had just dealt with those in my pantry as well, but it didn't exactly help my appetite. I just took the webby cookie and rolled it into my napkin, then threw it in the trash when I got a chance.
It was good to see Doris, but my nerves were fried, I was anxious to get going, and her two long-haired housecats were throwing me into an allergic fit.
The SuperShuttle came right on time, and Julian and I kissed Doris goodbye and climbed in. The driver was this UTTERLY smelly, unkempt Chinese guy. Every time he opened his mouth, even to say one or two words, the entire van filled with rank bad breath reek. I am not even kidding.
We stopped to pick up the second set of passengers in Pasadena. Julian was asking, "Is it a mom? Is it a dad? Is it a woman?" and the driver said, "It's a whole family." With that one sentence, he totally gassed us out of the van. Julian said, "Something is STINKY in here, Mama!" I said I knew, it was really stinky. Gross. I don't know what was the deal with that guy, but I've never smelled bad breath like that before.
Got to the airport and there was a skycap right there at the curb, with no lines and no waiting. Hallelujah. I dumped our check-in luggage, which left me with one 3 year old, one very heavy laptop bag, and one big bag of carry-on snacks.
It took us about 25 minutes to get through the airport, the security check, and down the long hallways. We had just gotten to the gate, bought some drinks and sat down for a well-deserved rest when I heard my name being paged over the intercom.
"LAURA HAMILTON, PLEASE REPORT TO THE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES TICKET COUNTER."
Wha??? ME? OH Jesus Fucking Christ. The Southwest ticket counter? ALL the way back through security, through the airport, with my heavy bags, dragging Julian along? You MUST be kidding me. I almost burst into tears again, but held it back and instead felt pure rage. FUCKERS! What was this, some kind of perverse endurance test for me?
Grabbed Julian and the bags and headed back to the counter. No one knew why I had been paged. Great. Finally, they pointed me to a woman down at the end of the counter. Maybe her? Oh yes, I should call Security at this number and that was all she knew. Nice.
I called Security. My bag had become locked somehow and they couldn't open it. Locked? Ugh, Julian must have spun the combination dial once I closed it up. I gave the guy the combo and luckily that was all he needed. I had visions of my super-full bag exploding in his face and then being thrown onto the plane barely re-closed. Can't think about that right now.
Back through the airport, back through security. Oh, those water bottles in my hand that I had just paid $4 each for? They would have to be trashed. FUCKERS.
Back to the gate, just in time to see a sign being put up that the flight was delayed and wouldn't leave until 4:35pm now. And just then, Julian had a meltdown and started screaming and crying because I wouldn't let him climb on top of the chair and kick the fat lady next to him.
I tried not to beat him on the spot, dragged out my laptop with some Elmo for him to watch on DVD and then I sat in the airport chair next to thim and just cried silently and had my own meltdown. I'm sure I was freaking out the people crammed in all around us, but I didn't care at that point, I just didn't care. Let them see me cry. Big fucking deal. I couldn't hold it in anymore.
I took my little Sudoku book out of my purse to pretend that I was doing a puzzle while I silently bawled my eyes out. The guy next to me stuck his cell phone in my face with a Sudoku game on it and said, "Watch out, this is how bad that addiction can get sometimes." Whatever dude. Get the hell away from me right now.
I cried for a good 20 minutes or so. Julian started to flip out again and I managed to distract him with the snack bag. Finally time to get on the plane. I got Julian a window seat and stuck my bag in the aisle seat. Unless the plane was absolutely full, I just didn't want anyone sitting next to me.
We made it through the hour flight with only a few episodes of screaming. San Jose, I have never been so glad to see you before.
When I saw Dan waiting for us at the security checkpoint I started bawling again. I cried all the way through to pick up our bags, and then sobbed and gasped when I got in the car. Oh, so glad to be home. Our house. Our things. Our cozy bed. Our sweet doggie. Julian was thrilled with all his toys and played with them like mad. I felt like I had just come home from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.
Julian took a bath and I took a long shower. Soooooo gooood. Ah, Northern CA water. Fresh and clean and not all salty and chlorine-ridden and nasty-tasting like Southern CA water.
I was so exhausted, I went to bed with Julian at around 9:00pm. Had a few bad dreams and woke up a few times, but overall I slept pretty well.
The next day was a full one. Julian went to preschool in the morning while I tried to catch up on my customer orders, get product packed up and ready to ship, answer emails, order inventory, etc.
I talked to Fran and everything is OK. Nanny was fine. She got a new outfit on with Fran's help, ate the rest of the spaghetti and meatballs I left for her, and Fran took her to see Bopah. Tomorrow is Nanny's 89th birthday, so Fran is taking her to get her hair done. I sent her a poinsettia and a birthday Mylar balloon.
Perri showed up at 2:00pm to take Julian to the park. I felt foisting him off on other people all day, but figured he could use a break from his crabby mother as well. I went and got my eyelashes and eyebrows tinted at Benefit, and a brow wax too. Long overdue.
Julian was super-crabby in the evening and I felt exhausted and ready to pass out. Adrian was all turned around in a sideways position in my belly that felt awful and my back hurt like hell. We put Julian to bed early but he kept waking up. I finally just went to bed with him again.
Today I still feel pretty bad. Julian went to school again this morning. He peed in his pants there and tried to run out in the parking lot when we were going to the car. I'm going to try to lie down with him for a nap, I think we both need one. I think we're both just beyond tired, which explains why he's behaving so badly and I'm still ready to snap.
Well, I'm going to try to lie down with him right now. Even if we don't sleep, laying down will feel good. And I get my back fixed at the Wonder Chiropractor tonight. Definitely looking forward to that, although everything is so loose and wobbly in my back and pelvis that I'm sure it will all slip out of place again immediately. But it will be good to get things back in order at least temporarily.