Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

Happy 80th Birthday, Mom!

Just about to hop in the shower and pick up my sister from the airport to celebrate our mother’s 80th birthday! It’s a miracle she’s with us. She’s a survivor of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, stroke and vascular dementia. She’s a fighter. Proud of her.

Saudi Arabia
Thanks for moving me to Saudi Arabia and teaching us respect for other cultures.
Best Sister Ever
Thanks for giving me the best sister ever!
Acropolis 1970
Thank you for traveling the world with us. Acropolis, 1970.
Cashel Ireland 1970
Best 7th birthday present ever. Cashel Ireland, 1970. So green after five years in the desert.
MA
Next two years in Cambridge, MA. Gorgeous fall colors. Snow! Free Boston Pops on the Common. Thanks for taking us to the ballet and art museums.
Palance of Fine Arts SF
Pretty sure you made those dresses! Here we visit the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the city where you and dad met and made me.

Catharsis

Ok, so, um, I’ve always sort of put myself out there. Way before I ever had therapy or was interested in psychology. It just is my temperament. And, not only is it my temperament, but it’s been something of a defense mechanism. If I put myself out there, then people can’t hurt me with any secrets because I have no secrets. I’m like, “Yeah, so what of it.” I’ve always been that way, since I was a little child. Always been WAY open.

My name is Kitt Kathleen. Kitt is my full first name. Kathleen is my middle name. Redundant name. I love it. My Aunt Kathy. My Aunt Kathleen, I’m named after. She’s my godmother, also. I got a bonus godmother in that my mother’s friend, Annette, best friend, Annette, stood in for my Aunt Kathy during the ceremony, during my baptism. So, I have two godmothers. My sponsor, my aunt, and then my stand-in, Annette. So I’m doubly blessed.

But, anyway, back to my name. Kitt Kathleen. Both names are derived from Katherine, which comes from… Sorry for the background noise. I’m driving with the windows open in order to dry my hair. Anyway, Katherine… Catherine derives from catharsis, which is, you know, change through emotional, well, okay, I don’t have the definition in front of me right now, and I’m a little scattered, but think catharsis, think Kitt, you got it. You know, change through an emotional outpouring, through cathartic, through catharsis. So, Kitt is cathartic.

So, here I am. I’m driving to have lunch with my parents. I’m apprehensive. It’s challenging seeing my parents. They’re not happy with the decisions I’ve [we’ve] made for them. They want to be back in their home, which is in escrow [has since fallen out of escrow]. But, they’re not able to take care of themselves. And, I’m not able to take care of them either.

I know they had wanted us to stay in their house, to have us take care of them. But, I have bipolar disorder. My son gets migraines and has social anxiety and depression. My husband would do anything, is willing to do anything. But, I don’t think it’s good for him either to be put in the position of taking care of everybody. He’s got some anxiety himself – claustrophobic, and he’s an engineer, so he’s a little tightly wound.

None of us is kind of chill. Let’s just put it that way. None of us is chill. We’re thoroughbreds. We’re tightly wound. We’re a little over-bred for intelligence. You know, sort of the Jack Russell terriers of the world. Anyway, I guess that’s it for now. A little cathartic sharing.

Vascular Dementia and Psychosis

trees and mountain range in distance
My husband, son & I are visiting my sister, her family, and the in-laws (my sister and I married brothers) in Oregon. Beautiful outside. We can see Mt. St. Helens peaking out in the distance, but it doesn’t really show up in this photo.

Trying to focus on nature’s beauty to give my mind and my soul a break from the burden of caregiving for my parents.

Had to have my mother psychiatrically hospitalized again. Vascular dementia due to her recent stroke in addition to pre-existing mental illness (she’s my mother, I’m her genetic legacy) led to psychosis. Hope that her new medication regimen will improve the quality of her life.

Painful process to watch, seeing someone you love devastated by a stroke. My mother’s vascular dementia is worse than my father’s dementia. He has no short-term memory and is aware of his memory loss, but still has verbal skills. My mother has lost her ability to communicate, which makes it very difficult for her.

Take care of your brain. Injuries to it can alter your life in terrible ways.

Clearing Out

Wednesday is the big day. Cleaning out the beach house.

Sunday evening I relaxed after spending the afternoon letting my husband grab his favorite tools from my father’s garage before Hughes Estate Sales takes everything not now in storage. After consulting with my sister, decided to move and store very little – the rest we will sell or donate to charity. No sense spending a bunch of money on packing, moving and storage.


Decorated my parents’ room at Silverado Memory Care with my mom’s favorite paintings and charcoals by Leon Derbyshire, Seattle-based family friend. Today I learned that my father took them down, confused thinking that they were in a hotel and had to pack up to leave. He asked that I put everything down in writing for him because he keeps forgetting.

My husband has had fun wearing one of my dad’s big straw hats. He insists that he met me years ago in the mid-80’s as I studied on the beach, and that he was intimidated by my father wearing a big straw hat and sunglasses as he stood on their second floor deck keeping a watchful eye on his daughter and her would-be suitor. My dad scared him off back then, but welcomed him in our life when I was thirty-one.

I’ve Been Really Busy

Walk on the beach

I haven’t been blogging as much recently because I’ve simply been too busy to do so. Moved my parents into Silverado Memory Care Community in San Juan Capistrano Wednesday. My parents are getting excellent care at Silverado. Already they have participated in the social hour and taken a Zumba exercise class. The caregivers are attentive. They have 24-hour nursing staff, and a medical director. Their specialty is working with people with dementia, especially those kicked out of other facilities. They know how to engage their clients positively. They have dogs, cats, birds, and guinea pigs. Two golden retrievers met my parents when we first went in the door. Perfect. My mom sat and pet the guinea pigs, which is very helpful for calming anxiety. I’m hopeful.

Right now I’m in their house in Hermosa Beach taking care of business. Many decisions. Much work. Very busy. Working with my sister to make decisions about their home and their belongings with love and discernment. Paying their bills. Doing their income taxes. Managing their finances. I’ve interviewed real estate agents and brokers, am getting construction bids on deferred maintenance, and finding out what it will take to get the house ready to rent. Yes, I’m super busy. I’ve earned myself a drink (maybe a beer or hard cider) and a luscious dessert.