Tag Archives: angel

NO BITING: Earth Angel or Me!

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Nine months ago, Carolyn flew our way … not in an airplane … don’t you know angels have their own set of wings?

We call her our high-flying Earth Angel. She has been, in so many wonderful ways, our saving grace.

The problem was that Carolyn brought Jovi, her uber faithful companion, watchdog, and protector with her.

Carolyn had convinced me of just how kind, caring and loving Jovi was, so I thought, what the heck … angels don’t lie.

Jovi and Carolyn instantly fell in love with Mom, but Jovi had a big problem. And, it turns out his big problem was me.

Jovi saw me as an intruder … make that the INTRUDER!

Since Jovi doesn’t speak people talk, he let me know how he felt with his bark and his bite.

Jovi loved biting me. Little nip, nip, nip bites. Nothing life threatening, but nip, nip, nip is not what you wake up in the morning and long for (especially in your own Mom’s home).

What was incredible was that Mom instantly fell in love with Jovi, but Mom had a big problem. And, it turns out her big problem was Carolyn.

Mom saw Carolyn as an intruder … make that the INTRUDER!

Since Mom doesn’t speak angel talk, she let Carolyn know how she felt with her bark and her bite.

Mom loved biting Carolyn. Little nip, nip, nip bites. Nothing life threatening, but nip, nip, nip is not what an angel wakes up in the morning and longs for.

So, Carolyn and I took matters into our own hands. NO BITING was our end goal.

Our plan: The instant you feel your dog’s or Mom’s teeth nip, nip, nipping you, give a high-pitched yelp. Then immediately walk away. Ignore him or her for 30 to 60 seconds. If your dog or Mom continues to try to nip, nip, nip at you, leave the room for 30 to 60 seconds. After the brief time-out, return to the room and calmly resume whatever you were doing.

If none of this works, practice the “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” tactic.

Bite me and food is off the table.

Luckily, Jovi and Mom both learned, often the hard way, NO BITING was the number one rule of engagement … period.

This took time, patience and most of all faith … but hey … I had an angel on my side.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the picture of Jovi and me, Mom and Carolyn says it all.

NO BITING rules and it is indeed heavenly around here these days … absolutely heavenly!

Thank goodness my winged warrior and I never had to put our last tactic to the test … BITE BACK.

But hey, you do what you have to do!

Do you hear me, Jovi?

Do you hear me, Mom?

Heavenly Message From Our Earth Angel

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Our very own Earth Angel

Two nights ago my mobile device let me know, in no uncertain terms, that it had received a message on my behalf. My first reaction was to be mad at who messaged me, and my second was to be mad at myself because I hadn’t put my message signal on mute. Damn the world and damn me!

Melissa and I had rushed home after a visit next door with mom and her live-in caregiver, Carolyn, aka our earth angel. We were eating a quick fix dinner in front of the TV because “The Voice” was on. And, we really love that show. I repeat, we really love that show. In fact, we tell our clients, students and everyone in our friendship circle that they can call us anytime day or night … except the nights that “The Voice” is doing its thing. That is a nonnegotiable-no-no, plain and simple.

But, when I saw the message was from Carolyn, I immediately focused on it. Even though Carolyn and mom were right next door, I knew I had to read the message. You never know what it could be, so your whole body goes on high alert.

So, with “The Voice” in the background, here was the message tree as it unfolded:

Our Earth Angel: What a nice visit tonight! It’s amazing to see the impact you have on your mother. The human spirit … wild!

Have a good night.

Mortal Me: Now you’ve done it, Carolyn … your kind message has my tear ducts working overtime. 

How do you expect me to watch “The Voice” with massive tears in my eyes?

BTW, from now on, if it’s not an emergency, only message me during commercials.

(Whoops … I meant to be funny, but maybe it came off as a bit harsh. I sure didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers. I better message back quickly.)

Mortal Me: By the way, you will never know just how much your message means to me.

(Oh, my God, yes you will. You are an angel. You know everything about our family and more.)

Thank you, thank you, thank you … and most of all thank you for being you! Like I said, you are an angel … our genuine, one-of-a-kind, Earth Angel.

(Even after this message, I felt I still needed to make sure our Earth Angel knew how much we appreciated her and her original message. I only paused long enough to ask Melissa who didn’t garner enough digital votes to make the night’s final cut on The Voice. She assured me all of my favorites would live to perform another day, so all was right in my world.)

Mortal Me: OK, Carolyn … I am having second thoughts … with messages like the one that kick started this conversation, you may message or call me anytime … day or night, 24/7/365 (Yes, even if/when “The Voice” is in full swing.) Operators standing by!

(That had to do it! I was bee-lining it to the kitchen to create the world’s greatest caramel sundae for me, myself and I. I was a happy dude. Whoops … there’s the signal … another message!)

Our Earth Angel: Laugh on!

You and Melissa are a blessing to me. This arrangement has helped me to rediscover so much about myself. I was at a major crossroad last year, and now life is so much clearer. Thank you for the opportunity to care for your mother. This is truly a God Thing!

Good night.

(At this stage, I knew I didn’t need to message back. After all, she is our earth angel. She hears my heart and my soul. She cares for all of us.

All I had to do was whisper, “Good night”.)

Never Forget You’re an Angel from Heaven

My Angels!

This memory stuff weighs heavy on my mind.

I think about it all the time.Mom’s dementia and my sister’s long battle with Alzheimer’s (Nel passed away last March 28th) are constant reminders of just how fragile our minds and memories are.

I was helping mom walk from the car to her home and we had a little hill we had to get over to reach the backdoor. I was saying, “Way to go, mom! You are one strong lady taking this hill the way you do. Have you been jogging and lifting weights?”

Mom said, “Sure have. I am one strong little girl.”

“Have you always been as strong as you are now?” I asked.

“You better believe it. My daddy said, Sugar, you are the strongest girl in the United States of America, and that’s it.”

“Did he say that about your two brothers and sister?”

“No! Just me. He would say, Sugar, you are an angel from heaven. You do everything right. Never forget it.”

And, if you knew PaPa (the name we grandkids called mom’s dad) like I did, you knew when he told you to do something, it wasn’t an option.

I asked mom if she was still an angel. Without even blinking an eye, she said, “Oh I am, and I love it!”

Her answer made me think of my daughters, Tovi and Lissi.

Before I publish this blog, I want them to know their dad believes they are heavenly angels, too, just like their grandmother.

If my daughters remember nothing else about me, I want them to remember that I know they are angels from heaven … that they do everything right.

I have been a believer since the day they were born.

My prayer is, like mom, they will always believe it, too. And,no matter what, never forget it.


Kin to a Ghost

Scene: Driving into mom’s driveway with mom after picking her up at adult daycare.

Tom: Look at that big old house, mom! It’s called Cheswick, but I call it the “Helen House”!

Mom: The “Helen House”! Do I live there?

Tom: Yep.

Mom: Did I make it that charming?

Tom: Yep! You did it!

Mom: Well, in that case, I need to work on it some more, because it is charming!

Tom: Yes it is.

Mom: Who lives there, now?

Tom: We do, mom. You and me.

Mom: We do? That’s a mighty big house for just you and me. Who is in there, now?

Tom: Nobody, mom. We are out here.

Mom: Well, we need to get in there right now so it won’t be lonely.

Cheswick - 1796

Cheswick, the house mom lives in and has lived in since my dad and she bought, hauled 500 yards from its original location and restored in 1973, was built in 1796.

That’s means it was built only 20 years after we won our independence from the Brits!

Mom has lived in the Cheswick for 38 years.

The Franklin family, who my folks bought it from, lived in it for 90+ years. That only leaves eighty-some years unaccounted for, although I do know a Baptist minister ran a boarding school at Cheswick prior to the Civil War.

This is curious because my dad was a Baptist minister as well, and mom was a teacher before she married dad. What are the odds?!

My two daughters have always suspected this old house is haunted and with creaking floors and squeaky doors, it sure seems like the right place for ghosts to want to hang out. After all, Cheswick is 215 years old! You have to believe a gaggle of ghost would have found it to their liking by now. They just don’t make houses made for haunting like they used to.

If there are ghosts in Cheswick, they could be coming from any of the handful of families that have occupied it, but one thing is certain, after last night, I know one of them is coming direct from my family tree.

Although it was a quick encounter, I know who this ghost is. And, by all rights, I should know, After all, I was kin to her when she was living.

The ghost I am referring to was my younger sister, Nel!

Last night was not only a quick encounter, but my first with my sister the ghost, or any ghost for that matter.

Here’s what happened.

My mom sleeps in a four-poster bed my dad made for them about the time I entered the family as the first born.

I don’t think I was conceived on that bed, because I don’t believe my mom and dad ever did what it traditionally takes to make babies. I think my sister and I were “lowercase immaculate conceptions”.

I just can’t picture my mom and my dad, you know, doing what it takes to make babies. Period.

But, hey, that’s not what this story is about. That’s what therapy is made for.

Anyway, when my mom crawls into that four-poster around 7 to 8 pm, she gets lost somewhere close to the center of its great big mattress, tucked away under a sheet, a blanket or two and a hefty bedspread. It could be the middle of summer or winter and it’s always the same.

She is one tiny bug in a big rug, that’s for sure.

Every night, she keeps the two table lamps located on either side of the bed on all night, but dimmed down real low.

She doesn’t really need the lights, because once she has settled in, she has settled in and most times sleeps all night without even once getting up to go to the bathroom.

Her bathroom ritual occurs just before she crawls into her bed and just after she wakes up around 8am the next morning. It’s like clockwork. I am with her all the way to make sure she doesn’t fall. I call her my little Weeble Wobble!

Four nights a week I sleep one room over from her so I can stay close in case she needs me or to calm her after an occasional bad dream.

Even though the two rooms have a door between them, I keep it open.

I also keep the receiving end of a baby monitor close at hand with the transmitting end right next to mom’s bed on the bedside table

The room I’m in was my sister, Nel’s. She slept in it, right next to mom and dad from the day they moved in until her death just this past March after a long, hard fought battle with Alzheimer’s.

Last night, the ghost, that I will call Nel until proven otherwise, brightened and dimmed, brightened and dimmed, brightened and dimmed the table lamps in mom’s room that I had dimmed after helping mom get to bed earlier last evening.

I counted three sequences before Nel turned them completely off, only to turn them on and then off again, you guessed it, three times.

All of this happened around 6 am. I couldn’t help but witness it while lying, eyes wide open, in Nel’s bed in what was her room. For some reason, I suddenly felt like an intruder … an uninvited guest.

I crept into mom’s room to make sure it wasn’t her playing games with the lights, which it wasn’t, because the fact was she was oblivious to what was happening. She was sound asleep and I suspect preoccupied playing the leading lady in an adventure filled dream of days gone by.

There was no one hiding under the bed or in the closets. Plus all the big old doors to the outside were locked tight. Believe me, I checked.

And, there was no sound of anyone walking in or near mom’s room. As I mentioned, this old house creaks even with the lightest of footsteps, so being stealthy, at least as a human, is impossible.

It was getting downright spooky and my sister, though I never saw her, was, almost instantly, my number one suspect.

One, she was a joyful prankster.

Two, mom had screamed out Nel’s name three times in a restless sleep earlier that night.

Three, Nel knew those lights and the rheostats on them like the back of her hand.

Four, there didn’t seem to be any malice associated with this brief encounter. And, my sister never had a malicious bone in her body.

It just seemed like a friendly ghost with way too much time on its hands.

Or, and this is my theory, one that wanted a little attention from her mom.

But, the real giveaway was the baby monitor. I heard the constant static sound from the receiver in Nel’s room suddenly stop hissing, but the LED light was still burning red, so it was on, indicating the electricity had to be on, too.

Three different times, I went into mom’s room to find her sleeping and the red transmitter light off on her monitor. And, yes I checked the electricity there, too, and the power was on. Yet, when I would go back to Nel’s room, the static sound would be back on … indicating that somehow, mom’s monitor was again up and running.

Three times this happened and my sister loved to do things in threes. She had to know I was staying in her room and that the main connection between mom and me was the baby monitor. Smart sister! She was connecting with both mom and me at once. Real smart for a new ghost, but Nel was always a fast learner.

For a split second, I thought the ghost could have been my dad who passed away in 2002, but then I didn’t think so because even though he was a prankster and funny in his own right, I believed he had too much respect for mom to wake her up or startle her while she was sleeping.

I also didn’t think it was dad and Nel because they would have used an old ghost trick and teamed up to make lots of unexplainable things happen at once. You know, spinning clock hands, whirling chairs suspended in mid-air, shoes walking across the floor seemingly on their own … that sort of stuff.

No, the more I thought about it, this was a one ghost job and a ghost that had been one big part of our family.

I also think the motive was pretty clear, if ghosts still have to have a motive like we mortals do.

I think Nel was playing gentle pranks on mom because, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, The Three Things in Life We Cry About, mom doesn’t remember Nel (except in her dreams, when she calls or screams out Nel’s name), hasn’t grieved for her and refers to her only as “that girl”.

These two were inseparable in life, so much so that we called them both Nelen! So, I think it has to make Nel a little sad, no, very sad.  Although, being Nel as well as being an angel moonlighting as a ghost, she must have a heavenly gift of understanding everything and must realize that it’s mom’s dementia that keeps mom from remembering her daughter and “bestest” friend.

Besides, Nel never had it in her to be anything but loving with mom, or anybody for that matter, so I can see how just a little playing around, in order to connect, might seem quite appropriate to her.

Maybe she just wanted to get mom’s attention in a gentle way and to whisper, “It’s Nel, mom. I am still here with you and for you, mom. Between dad and me up here, there and everywhere, Tom right there next to you, and Tovi’s and Lissi’s families just down the road, we’ve got you covered. It’s all going to be alright. We promise, mom.”

Maybe that’s what it was all about … a promise.

After all, I am a believer … as I always have been when it comes to my family.

The last thing I did before going back to bed was dim the table lamps in mom’s room, pull the covers up under her chin, kiss her forehead and whisper, “We love you, mom.”

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