Sunday, December 26, 2004

My nephew Jay Parchman and I went to the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. His school, the University of Memphis, was playing Bowling Green State University there.

We left on Monday, December 20, driving down highway 45 all the way to Mobile. We stopped at my sister-in-law Dorothy Waller's house briefly. She lives in Shubuta, Mississippi, just a tad off the new 45.

We thought we were staying in the Holiday Inn Express in downtown Mobile but it had changed to a Ramada Inn. The Bowling Green cheerleaders and band were also staying there. There were enthusiastic but a well-behaved bunch. They did eat all the food at the breakfast room so we tried to get down there before they got up.

On Monday night they had a doubleheader basketball game. East Carolina played South Carolina and University of South Alabama played University of Southern Mississippi. Jay went to the games but I stayed at the hotel.

That is one of the good things about traveling with Jay. He doesn't mind going to things by himself so I get to be by myself and rest if I want. Jay's traveling qualities are enthusiasm, flexibilility, and independence. We do very well together. He also likes to talk about odd things. We both are sports fans and mathematics majors.

Tuesday we went toured the USS Alabama battleship there on Mobile Bay. I have passed by that a million times on the way to Pensacola but never stopped. We enjoyed seeing the cramped quarters, the old typewriters, the mess room, the big guns, etc. But for me the best part was when I lay down on the deck and rested. The sun shining brightly and the gentle breeze from the bay. The temperature was 65 to 70 while we were down there.

Then we went to Dreamland for a barbeque lunch. This is an offshoot of the original Dreamland in Tuscaloosa. You know a place is good if the desserts offered are pecan pie and banana pudding.

We shopped in the afternoon. Mobile must have had a merry Christmas because they were all out shopping last Tuesday.

Jay went to the parade Tuesday night. It was something like a Mardi Gras parade. He came back with loads of necklaces.

Wednesday we went over to Biloxi to see Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederacy. Both Jay and I had been there before and looked forward to returning. We did not know that they have built a fabulous new building, the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library. It has a movie theatre and new museum galleries.

Afterwards we went to the Beau Rivage Hotel for their buffet. It is a very luxurious hotel in the Las Vegas manner. After our lunch, I went shopping (bought nothing) and Jay went to play blackjack. He most often wins and this time he won $175.

Back in Mobile we prepared for the game. I had brought all kinds of cold weather gear, but the game time temperature was 65. However it was supposed to rain. I finally carried my big coat but did not wear many layers. We had the cheap plastic ponchos.

Maybe someday I will go into the transportation problem, made worse by their selling beer at the game, but I am tired of thinking about it. That was the only bad thing about the trip.

It poured and poured rain at the game. jay and I moved over and sat under the overhang of the pressbox and avoided most of the rain. Memphis lost but Jay did not feel it so much because he thinks that Bowling Green just had a better team than Memphis. He was very impressed with the BG quarterback. He threw for 5 touchdowns against 1 interception. Previously this season he had thrown for 37 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions.

I talked to my sister Janice who lives in Henderson during the game. She said it was 14 degrees with no power in Henderson.

Jay and I should have just headed to Jacksonville, FL. where Beth said it was 70. We did head north and hit the snow and ice when we got into Tennessee. We didn't slide until we turned into my driveway.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yesterday, December 18, my nephew Alvin Stewart got married. Having just turned 40, he continues a tradition in my family of males marrying later in life.

Alvin is the son of my sister June.

His new wife Abigail is from the Phillipines. Although Alvin had been over there many times, she had never been to the US before so no one had met her. However, she has been here a week and her new sister-in-law April pronounced her wonderful.

The wedding was held at a place called Petals and Lace in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Alvin wore a white embroidered shirt like they do in the Phillipines. Abigail wore a long white, strapless gown. She looked beautiful.

They had no attendants.

After the ceremony, there was dancing. I danced with Emma, then called Adam to me. He started walking toward me but when I unwisely said I wanted to dance with him, he turned and walked the other way. I got the same reaction from George. So my dancing was over.

After the reception everyone, including the bride and groom, went over to June's house. We talked and the couple opened wedding gifts. Abigail speaks fluent English.

After a honeymoon in an undisclosed location, they will be living in Ripley, Tennessee, where Alvin is an accountant with American Greetings.

Friday, December 17, 2004

James called me yesterday. I could hear noise in the background because he was at Wal-Mart, or Wally-World, as he calls it.

He wanted to know if I had any suggestion for something to get Mother for Christmas.I haven't gotten her anything myself so I was no help to him.

One time last week I thought I had come upon something. QVC was selling a little shrug that was warm and had pockets on the end. Mother is always cold so I thought that would be perfect for her. But then I started thinking about more practical matters. Mother loses everything that is not nailed down. And if something is laid down, another patient will pick it up and take it off. (Mother does this, too.)

Since it isn't buttoned onto her, she would lose it the first time she wore it.

So I did not order it.

I told James that Mother just didn't need anything.

He agreed but he said it was a sad thing that Mother didn't need anything, it was like she had nothing to look forward to.

Actually, it is sad. Mother doesn't have anything to look forward to. Just more days of sitting in the hallway, and picking at her food. I envy the patients who enjoy their food. It is good food. Julia and I ate lunch with Mother last month and we both ate every scrap of food on the tray.

I grew up deprived and I have always had a bad case of the wants. I wanted everything. The bigger the house, the happier I would be. I wanted everything in Kirkland's, a store that Jerrell correctly described as a place that was filled with things that truthfully nobody needed.

I have passed through that stage. Now I certainly don't want a big house. I just about only want travel, clothes, jewelry, and books.

I think there is a happy medium here somewhere. If you don't want anything, life is just about over. If you want too much, you can't enjoy what you have.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I went to see Mother today and carried some pictures of my family.

The first picture I showed her was of Anne. She studied it for a minute and then said "I can't tell if it is Anne or Beth." Anne was looking down and I can see how she could be confused. I told her it was Anne.

She immediately identified the next picture, that of Beth.

She studied over Ken's picture, before turning it over to see that his name was written on the back. Her turning the picture over was encouraging to me.

I asked who he was and she said he is married to Anne. So far so good.

But then I asked her how many children Anne has. She said three but when I asked how many boys and how many girls she said two girls and one boy. And when I showed her a picture she could not remember their names.

So there is some good and some bad. Julia asked if I thought Mother was in danger of not remembering her children. I don't think so. If it ever happens it is a long way off. Right now she definitely knows us and knows our personal stories. She sometimes calls her children by the names of another but I do that, too.

She has told a couple of people that she has 5 children. We wonder who she is leaving out.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

I went to the Christmas concert of the high school and junior high school choirs on Sunday. My niece Denee sings alto in the senior high group.

It was raining hard but I went anyway. Julia and Frankie were there as well as Janice and Keith. It was unusual but Keith's mother and sister were there.

I am not a knowledgeable music fan but I enjoyed it.

Sometimes we get jaded by watching the very best on TV. I'm sure that the choir at the lighting of the Christmas trees in Rockefeller Center and Washington, DC, were much better than the Chester County groups. But it is important to go to more local programs, sports, and meetings,even when they are not the best.

Jay told me about some rantings by Jim Rome on Rome is Burning on ESPN. He was talking about the bowl games and his conclusion was that most are not worth having and not understanding how anyone could value them.

It won't be USC-Oklahoma, but I am going with Jay to Mobile to see Memphis play in the GMAC bowl. I had a great time at the bowl game in New Orleans last year and expect to have a great time this year. These things where people get together for a common goal are important, and they are important if they aren't even televised.

I remember reading a few years ago the contention that one thing wrong with American society is the decline of bowling leagues. Decades ago there were many, a sign of strong community spirit. Now we don't do things like that. We all stay at home and watch TV. In many families people watch in separate rooms.

I myself resolve to do better. It is more important to support the Chester County Eagles that to support the Philadelphia Eagles. We should go to more local sporting events, meetings, and cultural events.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Mother has been getting along well at the nursing home. I hadn't seen any change in her mental state for a long time. I deluded myself into thinking that she would be this way from now on. No entirely in touch with reality but she would always know all her family. gho

Then this week she started talking about Brittney's wedding in strange ways that disturbed me but I didn't ask questions because I didn't want to know the answer.

Finally Brittney, James's stepdaughter, was there on Friday so I decided to venture into the deep water.

I asked Mother "Who is Brittney's mother?"

Mother looked at me strangely, in that way where she knows she should know something but she doesn't and she said "I don't know."

I said "Rene is her mother." Brittney reminded her that Rene has red hair but Mother still looked confused.

I asked Mother who Rene is married to and she answered she didn't know. That is sad.

I told her that James is married to Rene. She had a glimmer of recognition and said "I didn't know they finally got married."

James and Rene have been married almost ten years now.

So I can't count on Mother's mental abilities stabilizing. I am going to take pictures out there of all the members of my family, Anne, B eth, Adam, Emma, George, Ken, and George Rodney to show her. And I am going to go over them with her, who is who, the relationships, and where everyone is living.

What is the poem that talks about "raging against the coming of the night?" It is talking about death, but I feel with Mother I am also raging against the coming of the night of her mind, as it goes darker, losing clarity, and disconnecting from reality and her loved ones.

I don't always want to go visit Mother, but it is not a distressful or odious chore. I realized a long time ago that I had to visit Mother for my own sake. Sometimes maybe it helps Mother, maybe it helps some of the others that I interact with out there, maybe it will inspire someone else to visit the nursing home, but mainly the purpose of the visits is to raise my own life up a little bit. In a hard to explain way, I feel that it gives my life some purpose, and that , at least in this little way, I am doing what is right and contributing to the good.

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