Sunday, July 19, 2009

My week at The Dalles

I've been working with a senior, a WWII veteran, out at The Dalles. The Dalles is about hour and half drive from Portland, so it's not really practical for me to commute back and forth each time I visit. I had gone out to visit him on several 1 day visits, but his wife and I, with the help of one of the social workers at the Veteran's Home there, planned for me to go out and spend seven days with him, while staying with the social worker. So that was July 6-12.

It was a pretty intense week, for both me and the senior. His wife gave a a lot of personal items—old family photos, more recent photos, school year books, papers and speeches he had written, etc. I read his papers and speeches out loud to him, I think he really enjoyed hearing those, although he couldn't remember writing them or giving the speeches. That was actually one of the toughest moments of our week together. He had been given an award by his alma mater and was honored at an event at the school. His wife brought a video of the speech, and I later found his handwritten notes for the speech, along with the printed program for the evening with an introduction of him. He couldn't remember giving the speech, although he remembered watching the video of it the day before. When I read him the bio of him in the printed program, he kept on asking me if he had really accomplished all those things, which of course he had, to the best of my knowledge. There were a lot of tears that day.

I have to say that he's a very courageous person—he readily acknowledges that he's having memory issues, which I think must be a very hard thing, and terrifying thing, to say. Not only to a relative stranger (me) but to himself. And even as he acknowledges this, he's always kind and gentle, never angry. I know people can become angry when they suffer from memory loss, but I've not seen that in him.

In retrospect, I think 7 consecutive days was really hard on both of us. It's pretty intense to absorb someone else's life for 5, 6, 7 hours a day and 7 days in a row, and it was pretty hard on him to go through all that on a daily basis too. If I have another opportunity for something similar, I'd probably do 2-day trips with breaks in between.

I have a few ideas for the format of his book, and will need to research the feasibility and cost of the options. In the mean time, I'll continue to visit him as part of my Central Oregon Senior's Tour—visit my mom in Bend, come back through The Dalles. I did just that this last Thursday-Saturday, and it worked out pretty well. Although my visit with the vet was pretty short, he was really absorbed in the baseball game.

From baseball bats to flying bats

My visit with my mom went really well. We went to the High Desert Museum for the live bat talk & presentation! There were 3 bats there (not five, sigh...), and they were all adorable and beautiful. The talk was given by Rob Mies of Bat Conservancy, and although it was mainly aimed at kids, it was great fun. And I got an autograph!

My mom talked about the presentation several times during the evening, and the next morning when I went in to wake her and to say good-bye, she opened her eyes and said "Did you enjoy the bat talk? Wasn't that just amazing?"

I think it went over well.

World Grapevine Wrestling Champion

I never seem to remember to take the before picture, but trust me, the grapevine was one monstrous mess with long vines hanging down over the garage door, growing into the roof, and blocking the way to the mailbox. After the wrestling match, it's looking much more civilized:

And look at these grapes:

When they're ripe in the fall, they're so fragrant you can smell them from the street.

And phase II of the studio remodel

I decided to scale back on this part of the studio remodel. Originally, I was thinking that I'd take out the walk-in closet all together and put in another window. But after thinking about it, having a normal sized closet in that room would be good, future owners can always turn the studio back into 2 bedrooms again easily. So we're getting started on that tomorrow—turning the walk-in into a normal sized closet. I picked up bi-fold doors for the new closet; I cleared out the contents of the closet; I moved half of the furniture. See the big empty spot here:

It's all here instead:

The rest of the furniture I'll move later in the week, before the floor guy starts. I'm hoping to finish my DNA painting before that, so my painting table is still setup.


Dr. Russ said...

Wow--you got a lot of stuff.

fingerstothebone said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah...years of accumulated fabric from my belly dancing days, art supplies, unsold artwork, papers, boards...I'm working on it. Trust me.