Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm Not Here!

By popular demand, I'm going to resume some vignettes of Life with Walker...or Walker Stories as I've called them through the years.

  Day to day, life with Walker is pretty routine now.  He behaves like an older adolescent, mostly cooperative, diligent about his chores almost to obsession...we must not stay out too late on Sunday nights because he has to get home to get the garbage out.  He's  increasingly more interactive with the family without too many outbursts or frustrations. He knows I'm compulsively on time, and after getting left behind for not being ready a time or two, he's always on time too.  He prefers fixing his own breakfast on weekdays, but occasionally requests for me to cook an egg if I'm not busy. (Our attempts to teach him to use the stove top haven't been totally successful, although he's good with the oven or microwave.)  He prefers breakfast  treats on the weekends and dinner that doesn't include leftovers two nights in a row.

Walker's  independence  is both a blessing and a curse.  He sometimes tries to solve problems beyond his abilities and is often  reluctant to ask directly for help when he really needs it.  We're working on that.  For a number of years now we have felt comfortable leaving him home for periods of time now extending up to six or seven days at a time.  This requires a good bit of planning.  He has a paid Personal Attendant (your tax dollars at work) who takes him to and from work and on outings on weekends which usually involve shopping, movies, bowling, or Young Life or other Special Needs activities.  As long as the attendant is a reliable sort things work smoothly...but there's always the worry that he'll oversleep or even forget...and the guy we have right now is  actually not as reliable as Walker.  Walker's sisters are generally on call to pick up the slack. I leave microwavable meals for him, and he can pick up food at the grocery where he works or on the way home if he gets sick of what I've left...It mostly works fine.

My biggest concern for his safety is a major or wind storms, a fire, or, heaven forbid, a home invasion.  We have gone over plans, but I honestly don't know how confident I am that he would follow through with them in a real emergency.  In my nightmares I see him confronting an intruder with a toy gun and getting shot.  That's the reality of life in the city with a developmentally delayed adult.  As long as everything goes smoothly, he's totally okay...but do things ever always go smoothly?

Last week while we were in California, the weather turned single digit frigid.  My son-in-law John was drafted to help out with the hunting dogs in the kennel to make sure the heaters were working and make sure Walker braved the drizzle for the nighttime feeding.  One morning John stopped by and thought he'd give the dogs some extra rations because of the extreme cold, and in the process set off the burglar alarm.  John went to the foot of the stairs and called up to Walker while the siren was blasting.


"I'm  not here."


"I'm not here!"

"Walker, What's the Alarm code?"

Walker appears on the balcony in his boxers, "I told you, I'M NOT HERE!

"Walker, I can see you..."


"Okay..."and he gave John the code, but not in time to ward off the alarm company sending the police, so John waited around and talked his way out of getting hauled off as an intruder...but that's how it goes with Walker sometimes.

I'm sure some of you wonder why in the world I don't just let the state pay for a sitter to be with him when we travel, and believe me, I have considered it.  But truthfully, Walker doesn't want anyone else here, and I'm confident  that the odds of him being safe are good enough that I don't think it's worth the hassle of having someone else in the house.I'm truly grateful that he's as independent as he can possibly be, and he has folks who love and watch over him.   I hope and pray I'm right.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Lost and Found

A period of feeling pretty good and regaining some mobility after surgeries and accidents found me anxious to try my wings and I persuaded husband Walker that we should go to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship game where our alma mater, Auburn University, was one of the two teams in contention for the national title.  It was a whim, and Walker probably would have preferred watching the game on TV, which he did yesterday while I caught up on some housekeeping chores, but I saw it as a last ditch effort to have a little fun, do something we both would enjoy,  and it turned out to be a mini-reunion with some of our favorite college friends.

This event wasn't as well coordinated as my high school reunion, but it was absolutely delightful to reunite with old friends, share stories from our shared past, see how everybody is doing, and make new memories.  Most of us are in a surprisingly good place for seventyish, and although dinner conversation did veer toward medical coverage and procedures a bit, we still found time to laugh at ourselves and look forward as much as back.  There was a new wife to get to know and love, several spouses that didn't know each other, relationships that had been tethered by not much more than Christmas Cards or not at all, but underneath it all, we were still pretty much the same people we knew and loved back in the '60s.  I probably smiled more in that forty eight hour period than I normally do in an entire month.

I'm getting more

used to stepping outside my comfort zone now, and am not nearly so anxious when I do, and the afterglow lasts and lasts.  Our team didn't win...but we did!  War Eagle!!!

For previous thoughts on a similar subject go to


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Not so Bleak Almost Mid-Winter

Still browsing through old posts which mostly never got read by anyone but my family and a few close friends, and I found this one that seems particularly apt today. .

 The advice for coping with Winter doesn't include spending a ridiculous amount of money to fly to California for a long overdue reunion with some of my favorite friends from college, but that's exactly what's going to happen.  Auburn is once again going to the National Championship Game...and this time we'll be there in all our Orange and Blue glory.

The trip kind of fits with my mantra of doing things outside my comfort zone as often as possible.  Not that visiting my wonderful baby girl and her sweet little family as they await the arrival of the new baby is uncomfortable...far from it.  We'll have a deluxe garage apartment, and lots of hugs and kisses from Emmett for sure, but reuniting with  folks you haven't seen in fifty years is always a little disconcerting for me.

There have been e-mails and phone calls to firm up arrangements and the good natured banter has convinced me that this is going to be a time to remember. I suspect  we're all not just  older but  wiser, and mostly more accepting of whatever comes our way.  I absolutely can't wait!

Please feel free to add your favorite way to cope with Winter's easy now, and can be anonymous if you like!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Small Changes....Big Dreams

The new year means a different kind of beginning for me than it did when I was younger.  I'm afraid I've given up on the illusion that short list of things to do would be adhered to and actually change my life.  Experience has told me that those lists don't have much hold over me...I suppose I'm just not disciplined enough.

I do get an urge to do things a little better or at least a little differently this time of year, though.

 As I put away the Christmas things, I have an urge to cull out the unnecessary...and there's an increasing amount of unnecessary...and preserve more carefully the important. 

I have few treasures of a tangible sort, and I've reconciled myself to the fact that time takes it's toll on all things...especially my body and my Christmas breakables, but I pack more carefully and handle those I really do treasure with more respect.

I'm always a bit sick of yummy, rich food after the holidays, and healthier veggies and fruits seem to call my name in January.  Molly even re-introduced me to brussel sprouts for the umpteenth time in my life, and this time it took...I LOVED them.  That's not to say that Mama's caramel cake won't always have my name on a slice, but sometimes healthier just seems right, and right now is one of those times.

I treated myself to a new pair of walking shoes last week...basically because walking at all was misery.... and voila! I am walking again with almost no discomfort.  Yes, they were expensive, and worth it at ten times the cost. 

I'm seeing some projects come to a close, in particular my Education for Ministry class, and finishing things always feels good. I'll graduate in May, and, no, I won't become a "minister" as such, but I feel much more comfortable in my understanding of my faith, and will continue to pursue it in ways that are meaningful.

I've found that I treasure time spent with my girlfriends this year.  I'm not a great girlfriend type person.  I'm much more of a loner, don't care that much about fashion and other girly kind of things, and hate talking on the phone, but I've found great pleasure in my Mah Jongg group and book group and a study group and I want to explore my female friendships further.

My relationship with my family has changed somehow this year.  The grandchildren in Memphis are outgrowing their need for childcare, and I don't see them as much.  My time with them is less involved with caregiving and more focused on events.  This shift has thrown me off kilter a bit, and I'm looking forward to some time with my California "babies", but am realizing that I'm more free to fill my time with reading and friends too.

I'm allowing myself to dream a bit.  As a young girl I dreamed all the time.  I dreamed of Prince Charming, of being Debbie Reynolds, of having the most and cutest outfits in my class, but I never much dreamed beyond having a home and family.  Exploring art a bit has given me a glimpse of a me that might have been had I dreamed a little longer.  My blog is one way of dreaming.  I ran across an old entry this morning with a link to you tube clip that I'm going to play more frequently this year.  Happy New Year to all!