Wednesday, June 20, 2018

An Education I did not need!

Historical Photo:

 (fulfilling a dream as a singer, she actually started singing country western with a band after losing her husband, she was quite good.)
I am still here.
Getting older we learn a lot of things. Shirl got on my case years ago, “Jack, write your obituary. Most people wait too late and it must be done on the spur of the moment.”
So I did!

Now what do I find in her written instructions?  There is no obituary, she has destroyed it. Instead she writes: Tell no one I have died. No service. DO NOT put it in the paper. Have Tallent Funeral home cremate me. Then spread my ashes on Jim’s grave!  Period….

Some of you have been through this. So I say: “Shirl, it ain’t as simple as that!” 

PLUS prices are strange, normal burials are from $4,000 to $20,000.  I remember reading cremations at $500. Now, the Funeral home charges $1800 just for the cremation. I understand that is in the ‘ball park’.  In talking to the granite service that will add the death date to the stone, Cremations are 40% and burials are 60%. They expect it to be 50-50% next year.

Opening a grave in Charlotte is now $2000 in addition to the cost of the plot (Of course we will not ‘open’ her plot). “So, Dang it Shirl I don’t need this education. You should have stuck around a few more years!”

Hey, a copy of a birth certificate at the courthouse is $1.50. The copy of a ‘Death Certificate’ is $10 purchased ‘only’ thru the Funeral home. It is suggested, order 20 copies. I ordered five!  I betcha imma find out if I can get them at the courthouse!  LOL

The above is just a part of it as you that have experienced it, know.

 (On her 80th BD, the local Seniors gave her a surprise party, and made her queen)

Have you ever thought of the person who will come into your private area and decide what goes and where? For years now my sister has told me, “Jack I am getting rid of all this stuff, I do not want anyone going thru my private things!”  (Right Shirl, you should have stuck around long enough to have done it)

I have run across some neat stuff:
One short note about her young secretary’s life:
“When Dee and I took an apartment in Charlotte we could hardly afford the rent. We ate eggs every meal and took egg sandwiches to work. Once we did eat out. The crowd was pretty big. Dee noticed the bathroom names were moveable. When several people were in each one, we switched the names. It was hilarious when others entered!” (sounds like her).

(And then she was once Minnie Pearl)

Maybe more when I get a break. Thanks for stopping by.

Nite Shipslog

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sister Shirley aka Shirl.........

I smiled after the death of her husband Jim, Shirley wanted to be called Shirl. I had no problem with that. My name was Jackie (a girls's name) of course I preferred Jack.  hahahaha

Most of Shirley's life she has been an independent soul. When dad pastored a country church Shirley started to school. They gave the 'shots' many times at school when entering the first grade. Daddy had to be gone and mama was having 'female troubles and taking care of me' and asked the principal if Shirley could enroll herself.  She did, and took the shots at the same time.

One of her frequent tales  (under the power of dementia) was: while in the first grade she volunteered dad to drive the first grade to a dairy farm on a field trip. The teacher called dad, and of course he said, "No problem when?"  Shirley was his pet.   LOL

She started piano lessons at 5 yrs old.  She played the church piano at 10. She was very talented.  She also played the French Horn.

We both suffered a little mental problem while dad pastored in Albemarle. It was a very conservative church. TV has just came out and was a sin to watch, so we could not.  I was first trumpet in the band, and Shirley was the drum major, she led the band. Mama had sewed her a 'modest' uniform and felt it would work. One church member Vehemently  opposed and threatened to lay down in the driveway to prevent dad from taking us to the parade.

Dad then told us to get out of the car. We did not march in the Christmas parade.  Needless to say our Band director was not happy with us for not showing up.  He marched in Shirley's place.  The trumpets was no problem the 2nd trumpet just move u one place. 

That said, in my sister's demented state, she changed history and in the last two years of her life bragged on daddy defying Sister Burris, and she  still lead the parade.

Shirley was fortunate  to meet Jim Wrape. He was divorced and had two very likeable and pleasant sons, Armon and Eric. Jim shared custody with his first wife so the kids were at Jim & Shirley's home a lot.

Jim's death to cancer was always on Shirley's mind. WHY?

She moved to the small town of Belmont, NC.  She met  a good guy named Smokey Coe. They dated.  She became a singer in his band and loved it.

Smokey's family moved to Florida and wanted Shirley to go but she could not make herself leave. So she remained with her memories until this week.

I will miss Shirley. We will not lease 'her house' again.  It will again become our home base.  I built this place for us and sister Katherine and hubby Dick. We had many years together as I continued to build.

Isn't it amazing the different routes life takes.  When I typed that I remembered reading one of  Minnie Pearl's quotes: "If you want to make God smile, tell Him your plans."

Ain't that the gospel.......
I hope this entry works..... 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The best laid plans of mice and men.....

WE came home prepared to make it possible for Shirl to live in her home alone, by hiring who ever was needed or adding an apartment in her basement. BUT...... 


 Funny that, big sisters like parents are supposed to be here forever. I am repeating myself like all old people. Shirl was the sister closest to my age. She taught me to ride a bicycle, play hop-scotch and play jack rocks. I even played paper dolls, yeah Paula, with the taps!


She was the only one of the family siblings to graduate from HS. She married young to a ‘craphead’.  I knew it but she didn’t. It was 1954. She married too soon after HS graduation.  She soon learned he was cheating on her in the first year of her marriage. She suspected it and asked our older sister to go to his work place to watch after work. He came out, hugged and passionately kissed his assistant and helped her into her car.  He had never helped Shirley into a car.  She divorced him, moved to Charlotte, NC and made a life of her own.

She met Jim, a great guy with two good sons. They married and had 40+ years before esophageal cancer took him from her.

Sherry and I spent a month with her, getting her ready to move from the city (Charlotte) to Belmont. It was tough on us, but tougher on her.

We had our home available to rent so she decided to move into our house. For over ten years she has rented our home, the landlord’s dream: paying by the year.

Today I said goodbye to my last sibling of BF & Grace Darnell family, a total of 9. I only remain. Shirley Maxine, who wanted to be called Shirl, passed away. 

Have you ever had the ‘experience’ of seeing a family member pass from this life with ‘hundreds’ of wires and tubes hooked up?  Sorta like a ‘spooky’ movie?

Actually I counted 20 apparatus’ hooked up, she was in the ‘Critical Care Unit (CCU)’.  However, when it is someone you love, it looks like hundreds.

Goodbye Sister Shirley Maxine Darnell Wrape, you were a good BIG SISTER! On my next blog I will tell of some of your escapades.  

We were there with her at the last heartbeat. My Sherry sang quietly to her, “You won’t have to cross Jordon alone.”

 I told her to tell the family hello, some of us know I will see them all in the MORNING! I found her written wishes where she always told me they would be. I read: No service, no obit, and no announcement. Just cremate my body and spread the ashes on Jim’s grave.

I did not promise not to put my big sister in the blog.

Nite Shipslog

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Things do not happen as they should

I am not counting words tonight, but I want to tell you something I have learned. We came home with a simple objective: take over sister's finances,  Put all her bills on auto-pilot (online direct payments) hire whatever was necessary  to allow her to stay in her home until her passing. The last time we had seen Shirl (last fall) she was still topping trees and jumping fences at 81 years old.

When we got home it was obvious things had changed, dementia has settled in. I still had hope. We hired a company 'Visiting Angels' to assist. Then the first set back, Blood clot on the wall of a heart chamber and a small leak of blood in the brain.

A lot intervened sister went down hill. She refused to eat and drink, Using the same statement, "I'm okay, I will eat later." Sherry fixed many meals, some we thought she eaten, but she had not ? (They were in her freezer.)

THE  WORST NIGHT/DAY OF OUR LIVES. I learned we could never be her caregivers so we decided on a 'facility for her'. The supervisor and her nurse came out. (The best I could figure Shirl had been without food and water for 4-5 days.)  My thinking at this point, "Everyone eats when they get hungry or drinks when they get thirsty."  Ignorant on my part.  I was not thinking of 'her primary organs'.

The nurse (Tamika) said, "This lady needs to go to the emergency room in the morning.  I would say NOW, but it would be a long night for you guys and she will be just as well in the AM."

In the AM, after Sherry's report, her doctor said call 911.  WE Did.  That is when the FUN(?) started.

Shirl had been in her recliner for 24+ hours, unable to get up. I calmly talked to her and said the EMT's were coming to take her to the hospital. Her constant response was, "Can't they take care of me here? I am not going anywhere, I DO NOT HAVE TO GO!"

She absolutely refused to listen to the EMTs. Both of them tried to explain to her, but she refused to move. Twice they tried to lift her and she SCREAMED, NO NO! I am not leaving. This went on for over an hour. We have a sweet neighbor that Shirl loves. She came over and tried to help, to no avail. The EMT's called their supervisor.  They talked to me privately saying they could not take her against her will. They calmly told Shirl that they would call the police to assist in her moving, all she did was say loudly I don't have to go anywhere.

She yelled and screamed at me, "Jackie, please , please, let me stay here in my chair."
Finally I had to tell the EMT's " I am invoking my Health POA, I AM HER!  Take her."

  EMT said there is a test I must give her first.

You   guys probably know this. The questions are simple.  What day is it? Who is the President? etc. Then they took her to the ambulance screaming and kicking, raising her balled fists (She is 117 lbs soaking wet!)

I rode in the ambulance with her. This is where you could have pushed me over with a feather.  She started joking and talking with the EMTs, On the ride to the hospital she was her old self. NO PROBLEMS. She does not remember the incident of refusal.

I felt like a complete crap head, even though I knew it was dementia.  Bottom line is, the Doctors said she would have probably died if we had delayed another day, her kidneys were operating at less than 2%.

She has been in the hospital two days now and the kidneys are up to 5%.

I must tell you, dementia STINKS !!

Nite Shipslog

She is in the dog house. The preacher came to see her and when he walked in she said, "Oh shit!"
Our pastor told her, "I am upset with you because you can say that and I can't!"

Thanks for stopping by. I do not expect any comments.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Down but not out

 Histerical picture:
Sister Shirl hanging cousin Bobby, me and Guy Abee on the clothes line in our back yard,1953. That is the school Gym behind us. That is how far I had to walk to school!

Tonight I am a little down. That is very unusual for me.  I was born ‘positive and upbeat’. There are things I should be doing. I have two books in the oven and cannot get to them. Each time I must go back and reread everything I have written and still cannot find the handle. All my fans (both of them) keep asking when the next book will come out!

Sherry and I have dealt with dementia, but for an obvious reason caring for a loving mother who was SWEET until death was different. I think I have said it here before, but here it is again. When the Dr. told our family mama needed to be in a nursing home I (the baby of the family) spoke up, “My mama will never go to a nursing home!”

It is along story, but I interfered in a major way in two families. I was wrong. My mama should have went to a nursing home. But if you had been in the nursing homes I had been in, you might understand my IGNORANCE.

This time it is different. It is an older sister. Where mama was malleable, sister is not. In dementia cases there comes a time when one must do things that turn some stomachs. Cleaning vomit, missed toilets and cleaning ‘bottoms’. I can handle those things with not even a bat of the eye. 

It is the refusal to allow ‘fixing’ those things and even trying to hide and deny the OBVIOUS, that hurts. 

I am deaf.  I am deaf because I have my implant devices off and in the little ‘Ultraviolet cooker’ where they sleep  every night.  Right now, if there was a jet engine next door I would not know it. I might FEEL the vibrations, but I would not hear it. 
Ever read “Sean of the South?”  If not, you should. He writes 99% about people, not himself. I read him daily, sorta like a devotion.

I wish I could do that! Me? I write about me mostly.  It isn’t my ego (I don’t think), it is that I know me better than I know others.

So sitting here deaf, having just missed a dear friend’s memorial service who died of ‘Lewy Body Dementia’, I am sorta down. I missed it due partially to a ‘dementia related accident’. Judy was my age and also married 61 years, as Sherry & I.

I sit here being thankful I still have Sherry. I just tucked her in, and I sang, “I am so glad you came into my life,” then she joined me with, “Thank you Baby!”
YES, I am now totally deaf, but I am thankful when I attach my Cochlear implants in the morning. I will hear.

Today I drove past a few houses I built, two in which we have lived. I can see my girl now in bed. She always reads herself to sleep. We are parked behind Shirl. Her bedroom is bigger than this motor home. I built the house for us, but I prefer having my beautiful wife near me. I get many more kisses in 325 sq ft than I did in 2800sqft. So even though I am down, I have too much for which to be thankful, to stay down. Tomorrow will come. Thanks for listening.
Nite Shipslog