Thursday, July 31, 2008
I'm looking forward to 2 days off in a row, getting caught up on housework and hacking up the golf course on Saturday evening with my Kiwi, Sissy in Law and DH . 9 holes of seriously bad golfing (on my part), fresh air and exercise (followed by a couple cold beers and greasy spoon Mexican food) will hopefully cure my funk.
I pray that J does not call and change that appointment we have set up for next week. If she does, Miss Cranky Pants may not be as nice as she was the first 3 times she rescheduled.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Since we began this whole, crazy process last December, we've plunged into the highly recommended books on neglect and abuse. If we're armed with information we won't be blind sided, right? Let me tell ya, these are no light summer reads. It's the most gut wrenching and heart breaking stuff imaginable... it has brought me to sobbing tears and given me nightmares. The abuse that goes on out there that those sweet, innocent angels endure is mind numbing.
I was at B&N picking up some books for Dad's birthday care package (he wants to learn about min pins) and I decided to grab a few more on adoption. Along with the ones that will make us wonder if we're worthy and up for this HUGE daunting challenge, I grabbed some uplifting ones, as well. Can I just say, it's a breath of fresh air getting to read snippets from the positive side of adoption for a change? I know it's not going to be the fairy tale and we can't love all the bad things away but I so needed encouragement for once. If any of you Foster and Adoption Gurus out there have any other reading recommendations, please pass them along!
Mama always said there's nothing like the healing power Chicken Soup (and prayer).. and boy, she was right!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
An hour went by and my silly little mind began to spin. How cool would it be if she had a possible placement for us on our anniversary? Holy cow!! Just as my heart rate started to race over the possibility of it being "the call", we heard the breaking news about the earthquake in CA. That sent the morning in a new direction, trying to call family and friends to check in. All phone lines were down but I was able to text message with my Bren. She was fine. Dad was fine. I finally got through to my cousin, Phyllis who lives with Aunt Jan.. they were okay, too. Kadi's cell wasn't working but I got her via email (go figure!).. LOL. Thank the Good Lord everyone was safe.
J finally called back and all she wanted to do was postpone our meeting (again) until next week. They pushed us to get certification done because the need is so huge for good homes but now it seems like major limbo time. I know they're swamped and understaffed.. but you can't blame a girl for being anxious.
Waiting.. one of my strong points (AH HA!).
Two years ago today, I married the man I love so dearly. It was the most beautiful day, surrounded by our closest family and friends. The perfect mixture of tears and laughter.
To think we have been together for almost 7 years makes me marvel at how time passes by so quickly. Now were are on the verge of bringing little ones into our home.. what an exciting adventure!
Honey, I couldn't imagine my little life without you and I love you dearly.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I remember back in the day watching an episode of Sally Jesse (you know, when she was legit and her red specs were all the rage) and being mesmerized by that certain day's topic.. adoptees searching for their birth families. Although not told of their adoption growing up, they just knew waaayy deep down that they didn't "belong" and felt no real connection to the family they grew up in. Their puzzle pieces fell into place when their family finally fessed up and the search for their "real family" began. To this day I remember thinking how empty their lives must have been but come on, their real family was who raised and loved them all those years. It was sad to see them get dissed.
Although the plan from the get go was to tell me of my adoption, a few months after I was placed my parents swore family and friends to secrecy. They had fallen head over heels in love with me and I was their child.. end of discussion. My mom may have been 4'11" and 95 lbs soaking wet (a crazy red head, to boot) but you did not cross her. No doubt, all feared the Hell Fire that would ensue.
Unlike the SJR guests, I never felt unattached from my family or that I didn't belong. I think that is one of the things that really threw me for a loop when I found out. I am so my Mama's daughter (physically and emotionally) it isn't even funny. As an adult I would hold my hand up to hers and marvel at how they were identical (except I could never grow nails and hers were beautiful). I worry like she did, I suffer from "mother hen" syndrome and love to cook and take care of my family and friends like she did.. and I must also admit, I'm a horrible driver just like she was.
I remember the moment like it was yesterday.. Have you ever ridden in a car where the driver taps their foot lightly on the accelerator while cruising along and causes you to lurch forward? I would constantly yell at her I was going to hurl if she didn't stop it and she would declare I was crazy. Fast forward .. my best friend Bren is visiting for New Years and we're headed to LoDo (Lower Downtown Denver) to whup it on and ring in '01. She starts yelling at me that I'm going to make her yak if I don't stop tapping the accelerator. I had to laugh BUT hey, at least I believed her. Now every time I'm the driver and she is the passenger I try to stay on cruise control as much as possible..
Not only do I look like Dad, I act like him, too.
I know the great debate over Nature vs Nurture will rage on forever but my little humble "o" is our personalities are very much the result of who we are raised by. I think we do pick up many character traits (good and bad, obviously) by the people that we are closest to.
That being said, our plan is to let our little ones know they are adopted (if they're too young to remember being placed with us). I'm a firm believer that they should have contact with birth relatives (if it's reasonable and safe to do so) and have no intention of cutting off their family ties if at all possible.
Hopefully we are stronger than Mom and Dad..
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Mind you, she is an amazing a cook. She loves to try new recipes and spends hours in the kitchen creating all kinds of wonderful meals and we're happy to be her test dummies.
My brother in law backed away slowly as he realized he had better stop speaking right there and then for fear of life and limb (finally, some sense!)...
Her dear husband now rues the day he ever made that comment. It has gone down into family history as the single most over used one liner ever. Us ladies won't let it go for good reason (and the men folk still take stabs at him, too). Not a gathering goes by that we don't throw out there that we're "heating up" this or that for dinner. It has taken on a life of it's own..
This weekend is no excepton as we are throwing another family bbq. Once all the guests have arrived and settle into their patio chairs with drinks in hand, my sil and I are donning adorable, low cut, form fitting orange blouses and our best push up bras. We'll be serving the family with the following name tags: We're too old to be Ashley and Candi so I think I'm going to be Vera and she's going to be Flo. Don't worry, for the sake of appetites we're skipping the short shorts.. that would be taking it a bit far and we would want to do THAT now, would we? ;o)
Dad's 78th birthday was this past Sunday. I can't express how very blessed I feel to have him back in my life. The picture was taken last month when I went out to California for a visit. We went to his favorite restaurant in Hemet (Polly's Pies) along with family (Aunt Jan and Jeri) and let him roll through the the aisles at Walmart. It's amazing how such a simple day out can mean so much. I don't care if I'm ---><--- close turning 40, I'll always be my Daddy's Girl. I love you, Dad.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
One of my hands down, absolute favorites is "Postcards From Insanity": http://afostermamaslife.blogspot.com/ It is wonderfully written by a woman that not only investigates child abuse but was also a foster parent for years. Her posts are from several years back, taken from entries in her journals and she also gives wonderful advice for us newbies. I recommend starting from the very beginning to get caught up with current posts. She has her "cast of characters" on her sidebar to help keep everyone straight.
She no longer fosters (something major happened that we have yet to read about) but still has awesome words of wisdom. If you are considering adoption, are a foster parent who can relate or just want to read a blog that will make you laugh, cry, shout out in anger and shout for joy it's a must read.
A warning.. it's not for the faint of heart but neither is the reality of being a foster parent.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
I've got to remind them to call me on my cell or at work. Rather than me coming home, getting her message, returning the call the following day and her return it back to the house.. that outta speed things up a bit. Phone tag drives me mad.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
So last Wednesday was the big day and we officially received our certification. Our Home Study Worker finally returned my call late that night with the good news and advised that the next round of workers would be calling very soon. Apparently they still needed to nail down a few specifics to get a clearer picture of what we think we can and cannot handle behavior and health wise (even though we filled out their gazillion page form that pretty much says it all).
We chose ages 3 and under, 1 or 2 children (sibs) and are willing to work with a host issues that occur with neglected and abused children (with guidance from the county on educating ourselves on whatever the kids placed with us suffer from). We both work full time are somewhat limited to what we can handle (especially time wise) and needed to be honest with ourselves. It sure would have been great to take on a bit more and if I was a stay at home our choices would have been different.
If we can handle our 2 without completely losing our minds (they're half gone as it is) and do adopt, I am thinking we may continue to foster since we have room and the need is so great. It is definitely nothing we can commit to yet as we're going into completely uncharted territories but is something I'm considering to propose to DH down the line. I'm famous for biting off more than I can chew and am trying to be a grown up about this whole process (not an easy task). Note to self: Baby Steps.
That all being said, I've checked our phones repeatedly (they're in fine working order) but we have yet to hear from anyone. Perhaps we're at the "bottom of the list" because we're out of county? It's not like we're half way across the state for crying out loud.. we're right next door. We can't get "The Call" if they aren't 100% sure about what we're capable of handling, right? From what I've read on other blogs, it's a sure sign of things to come so I 'spose I'll keep working on that silly old patience thing I keep hearing about. Blah.
Next time I'll have them define what being called back "very soon" really means so there's no confusion on my part again. ;o)
That, however, was just the editor's rating not the users' and is very temporary I'm sure. So, if you have a quick sec please scroll on down to the bottom of the sidebar there and give us some lovin' (on your way down you'll pass the Momblog vote thingy, please stop there, too). Please bear in mind I'm very sensitive so be nice. ;o)
If you don't particularly care for my daily writings back away from the vote counter..
We now return for our regularly scheduled ramblings..
Saturday, July 19, 2008
As I previously wrote, the year after Mama passed away I found out I was adopted by a random comment written in a note from a family friend. Since then, all kinds of stories have surfaced as family and friends have been eager to fill me in on the things that went on back in the day. The flood gates were finally opened.
One story I love in particular is her going to work as a nanny for a family that lived in our town. By trade she was secretary but took time off to learn the ins and outs of working with children and raising a family. We came from a fairly affluent community and some people thought it was extreme (and maybe even a bit demeaning) to be a "household servant" but she didn't care. She was in it for the experience and always said that you can't learn everything from books.. you have to jump in and do it. She met the family through church and they would forge a friendship that would last a lifetime.
The funny part is, I grew up knowing the family she worked for and was obviously clueless to the fact she was their employee. I was under the impression they were family friends (and by all accounts they were--they adored Mama and she them). She "babysat" for them on and off throughout the years and sometimes I would get to join her. I loved when I got to tag along and had a ball with the kids.
My memories of "Mrs. T" are that she was physically stunning, gracious and very kind. They lived in a monstrous home that I actually got lost inside when I went on a solo walk-about and quickly learned to stick close to Mama and the kids. It sat high on a hillside facing east over Los Angeles. We lived on the side of the peninsula that looked out over the ocean and it was always a treat for me to get to see the mass of twinkling city lights after dark. It was a view I wasn't accustomed to and I soaked it up like a sponge - completely mesmerized. Come dusk it was a little ritual to wrap myself in a blanket, sit on the chaise lounge by the pool and watch as LA's night came to life. I remember telling dad it was bigger and better than the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland (and boy howdy, that says a lot coming from a 6 year old).
She was a singer and her husband had a recording studio built in their home. She knew how much I loved to go in there and look around and she always made sure to take me through. It had the biggest, shiniest black piano I have ever seen and sometimes she would tickle the ivories for me. Her album covers adorned the walls in frames and I would have to stop and look at each one (much like a grown up would admire art at a museum). Okay, I was a kooky kid..
I'm so grateful they treated Mama with respect rather than a mere servant. I know in my heart she would have continued to work for them even if they had looked down their noses at her and would have done so with a smile. I'm told she considered it an opportunity of a lifetime to have hands on experience and enjoyed every minute of it.
On top of all the training she was required to take for her certification, she took on this job because she wanted to be the very best Mommy she could be. She always went above and beyond. Not only was my Mom a great teacher but also a willing student. That's an attribute I'm still working on.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We got the call late last night and (after 7 months, 1 week and 4 days since this little odyssey began) we're in like Flynn. Our official certificates will be mailed today and now things will really start to get rolling.
Another round of workers will be getting in touch with us to clarify a few points of information and guiding us from here on out. One of which is gal that was our trainer .. that rocks because we really liked her. "J" has been a social worker for over 25 years, an advocate for children, has fostered and adopted, pulled no punches and told it like it was during training (much to the dismay of others). There was no sugar coating with that one and I think it will be to our benefit down the road.
Why does it feel like we're at the bottom of the tallest mountain ever, looking up? Because we are, I suppose..
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Back then, infertility was an embarrassment and I'm told Mama felt shameful for not being able to carry a baby to term. It wasn't something openly discussed (not in our family, anyway) and adoption was no where near the rage it is nowadays. Things were different back then and, as cold as it sounds today, they wanted a child that looked like them. Although Mom was Mexican, she had auburn hair, brown eyes and freckles and Daddy was a Euro mix with blond hair and blue eyes. They wanted a child that fit into that groove .. Apparently, they didn't want anyone to question my lineage at the grocery store..
In July of 1969, their call came. I was a month old and living in what has been described as a county home. I'm not sure if that was like an orphanage or a foster home. In my non-id info an excerpt from our first meeting was noted. It is written that the moment Mom and Dad saw me there were tears of joy as I was scooped up, held and cooed over. It was love at first sight. Dad's comment was that they were on, "Cloud Nine" and Mama beamed through her tears. The workers gave them my formula, went over my daily routine and loaded Dad down with diapers and other essentials. I went home with them that very day and everyone involved was thrilled.
Fast forward to 2008. Here we sit, waiting for our vote this Wednesday for certification. Another "ancient" couple ready to open their hearts and home to a child (or children). Yet again, I'm wishing Mama was here to be a part of our journey and to hear of hers. It's times like this that make me miss her even more...
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I've also placed a donation button on the sidebar, Kadi will be collecting and passing them on to Ms. Frost who will be sending all donations to the boys. **THE HIGHEST DONATION WILL RECEIVE A ONE HOUR PHONE CONSULTATION WITH JO FROST**. How cool is that??
ALSO, calling all fellow bloggers.. If you would like to help with the cause, please visit Michelle at Mommy Confessions. On her sidebar you will see a link to create your own donation button to add to your blog and get the word out to your readers.
If anything, please keep the boys and their family in your prayers.
I do not know how many of you have heard, but a fellow Supernanny family has suffered a horrible tragedy. On July 4th, Scott Terrill, single father of two sons, committed suicide. You can read the whole story on my blogs. I have felt God impress upon my heart, the task of helping his two surviving sons, who are still very young. I am doing two things. First, I am sending this Paypal link to all of you. If you feel it in your heart to donate to the boy's fund, I have set up for them, please use this link to do so. Jo Frost will be sending all donations to the boys. I am just collecting them for her, since she is busy filming in the UK. She, I and Christy Schrage (another SN mom) have dedicated out time to doing this for the boys. Your generosity is much appreciated.The second thing I am doing, is arranging a charity wine tasting event on August 16th, to benefit Scott's sons. Jo will be auctioning off an item for this cause and we are currently trying to involve many other celebs. Tickets will be reasonable and will help give Scott's sons a brighter future. More information on the event will follow, but I promise it will be HUGE. You will not want to miss it. Thanks, in advance, for your support in doing this! Hugs to all of you! ~Kadi
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
It all started when I quizzed one of our vets on her adoption experience. We've taken our dogs to her for years (when you have 5 mutts you're on a first name basis, believe me) and she went through the program with our county and had a very positive fost/adopt experience. So much so, she spoke for them at various functions, assisting them with their recruiting efforts.
Unfortunately, by the time our adoption plan went into effect, the program and the wonderful workers that had been there for years had completely fallen apart. Word has it there was major drama, people walked, they were understaffed and everything was nuts. I called the recruiter, would leave messages, waited... and waited some more. I left a message every day for one gentleman only to be called a week later and told that he no longer held that position, applauded my tenacity and gave me yet another name and number. I spent another week leaving messages until I finally gave up. We know we're going to be at the bottom of the pecking order when we're certified, but hello? Being that ignored so early in the game sent up huge red flags.
I called my vet, disheartened. She recommended I try The Other County and gave me their phone number. Within 45 minutes of leaving a message I got a return phone call and was signed up for the Family Share Night the following week. Weeks later in training when asked why we had chosen to go with them and not stick with our own county, they loved my little story. Cindy, the main recruiter (a foster mom that had adopted a very challenging 13 year old who now in her 20's and in college) self high 5'd herself. She was very pleased to hear her persistent efforts paid off. She still emails regularly and was thrilled to hear we're --> <-- close to being certified. When we finally have children placed with us, we will be required to take them to weekly supervised visits with their birth parents and to other various appointments. If we were in county, they would provide transportation to and from the day care we have them in. Since we're not, it's on us. Well, me as I'm closest (DH has a commute that is well over an hour away). Thank the Good Lord the company I have worked for for the past 12 years is family owned, are 100% behind us and will accommodate my future goofy schedule (my boss gave me away at our wedding.. we're all pretty tight and I love them dearly).
The only downside to all this.. there is going to be A LOT of running around to do, I drive a gas guzzling suv and suffer from leaden footitus. If someone with half a brain drove it properly, my little go cart would probably get 16 mpg.. I probably average 12 (on a good day). At almost $4.00 a gallon here in CO, it will be costly (but it's oh so worth it!!).
Monday, July 7, 2008
How cool is that?? I would like to take a moment and send out a HUMONGO THANK YOU AND HUG to my wonderful cousin Kadi who not only designed this blog but takes the time to listen to pitiful me whine for help..When she's not busy chasing her 7 (SE-VEN) adorable children, she is building her new event planning business, Cherished Events, LLC: http://www.cherishedeventsllc.com/ or writing for one of her many blogs:
A Womb At The Inn(Sane): http://www.kadiprescott.blogspot.com/
A Battle Worth Fighting: http://www.adhdbattle.blogspot.com/
Dear Fertile Farmer: http://www.thefertilefarmer.blogspot.com/
Guerilla Parenting: http://www.supernannyrules.com/
Imperfect Parent: http://www.imperfectparent.com/
(and I know I'm missing some...).
Did I mention her episode of Super Nanny will be reairing this summer so she gets to look forward to staving off a whole new set of psyschos?
Kadi.. thank you for taking time in your hugely crazy day to help little ole me. You rock, girl.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
During a 2 day training course with the county we did a mock trial of a gal losing her child to the system to get a glimpse of what all goes on. It was based on a true case and was a real eye opener, to say the least. Each of our 4 tables was assigned a task. One was "Tonya" and her lawyers (played by our recruiter who could have won an award for her performance), we were the treatment team that gave the court recommendations of what we saw needed to happen before we would allow her to gain custody of her daughter (with the help of a real social worker because hey, we had no idea what we were doing), one table was the foster home and the other was the judge. Each table had one person speaking for them.
One of the goals of the exercise was to see the birth mom's side, as well. She begged and pleaded for her child back and had every excuse in the book for why she was unable to complete her requirements (no ride to the ua's, had gone to 18 interviews but no one would hire her, everyone was against her, etc). They were flimsy excuses at best and you know judges and social workers hear the same ones all day every day. She started out doing okay but as time went on, it slowly fell apart. Every 90 days when her review came up you could see her starting the slow spiral out of control. In the end, she cried as she relinquished her parental rights and both DH and I were in tears (as were most of the group in training that day). A true story and that plays out every day in courts across the nation.. just heartbreaking.
One aspect of this whole process we do have compassion for is, amazingly enough, the addicted birth parent. Prior to meeting, DH and I both were in a relationship with a person that had substance abuse problems. Have you heard someone say, ".. but they're totally great when they're clean and sober" and you roll your eyes? We actually lived it and, by golly, it's true. They both had children from a previous marriage and would have died for them. Neither had custody (for obvious reasons) and lived for the time they got to spend with their children. Unfortunately, their drug of choice was so beyond more powerful than them that, almost every time their kids were visiting, they would go off on a binge. It's just astounding what complete control the drug has and how it's a wrecking ball through everyones' lives. It's constant drama, to put it lightly.
Although kind of an odd thing to have in common (an ex as an addict), it is one of the many things that brought DH and I together. We both tried to "save someone" and found out the hard way it's impossible to do. We both relish in the calmness of being regular Joe Shmoe Homebodies as we've seen the wild side and have no interest in revisiting that side of the tracks. We did learn, however, that under the horrible and downright mean things an addict does, lies a person that would do anything to quit. They are not the monster but are totally controlled by one.
I remember in the midst of the crazy that was once my life crying out to God, "WHY?!?" and feeling utter hopelessness. Sitting at that table in training with tears in my eyes as "Tonya" begged for her kids back was an, "Ah Ha Moment!" when another of my life's little puzzle pieces fell into place. Compassion had kicked in and both DH and I got it. Had I known back then what I know now it would have made perfect sense. The 6 years of what seemed like endless drama was leading me to that table in the basement of a church for those 2 days of intense training. The Good Lord (and Mama) didn't want me looking down my nose from my high horse at the addicted parent who couldn't provide basic needs but to take pity and have compassion. That was "Why".
We will have to deal with a real "Tonya" sometime soon and I had better keep that shoe and other foot handy..
Saturday, July 5, 2008
We are: Aware that the county is not an adoption agency. They're the first to say it and remind us constantly that their hope is always reunification. We're Plan B.
We're not: Heroes by any sense of the word... especially in the eyes of the children. They will want to be home and not here.. that is one of the many things I'm trying to teach myself now.
We are: Aware that we're the bottom of the totem pole and will have no say. Again, another lesson I'm trying to get through my thick skull.
We're not: Ever going to be 100% prepared when we get "the call". I've read wonderful books trying to equip myself but you can't learn everything in 6 months. Well, I can't anyway. I think once I know what the issues are I can focus on learning how to cope with those specific ones.
We are: willing to open our home and hearts in the hopes of having a family of our own. Along they way I know our hearts will most likely be ripped out, we'll be treated like 2nd class citizens, we'll get a first hand look at a system that is dysfunctional but maybe.. just maybe we'll make a difference in a little life or two.. or.. ?
This coming Wednesday we go up for review and The Board (whomever they are) will vote on our certification. Then it's a matter of waiting .. Did I mention how much I dislike waiting?? From what I've read from foster parents and parents that have adopted, I had better get used to it.. Blah.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
He is still in the hospital but getting better and will hopefully get to go back to the nursing home soon. Like many elderly people, he's not out of the woods until he gets a clean bill of health. Please keep him in your prayers for continued recovery so he can, once again, race down the halls with his friends at Cloverleaf and get back to winning big at Bingo.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Sorry Missy, I think this picture beats Sam's Club..
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A year prior to me getting the letter from the county, Dad suffered a stroke and was dumped at a nursing home by his now adult step daughter and her husband. Basically he was left for dead. Months before the stroke she had him begged to move back home due to financial problems and dad relented, although he didn't care for her "good for nothing husband", he loved her and her 3 little ones. She was family.
In his absence, they remained in his home, set up online bill pay out of his account to cover their expenses and helped themselves to his atm card. They let the once beautiful home fall to utter shambles. When his car was parked out on the street and hit by a drunk driver, she didn't care to press charges. She waved it off and said, "It's Vern's car, anyway". Pure nasty.
His son was a young teenager by then but had no drivers license and they wouldn't take him to visit Dad. Poor kid. Just a couple of mooching, absolutely heartless scumbags. The nursing home needed assistance from her to get aid set up for Dad's care but she couldn't be bothered to return their phone calls. That is when the County stepped in looking for next of kin or a family friend.. someone that would be willing to help the poor, disabled man.
The second I got inside the house with the letter from Riverside County, I was calling my Auntie and Uncle in CA (Dad's older brother and sister in law.. the ones I called when I got the letter about being adopted). Not wealthy people, but more generous than anyone else I know, after my parents divorced they loaned Dad a large sum of money. They had no reason to suspect they would be left holding the bag.. but they were. Dad and the young wife skipped town and had not heard from them since. They had every right to feel resentment and anger towards him.. but did they? Absolutely not. They were worried and praying that he was okay, heartbroken at hearing his circumstance. They are the most amazing Christians I have ever met.
The following morning I spoke with reps from both the county and nursing facility and found out where he is living. I passed along all this info to my Uncle and Auntie and without thinking twice, just a day later they were making the 2 hour drive to see him. They wanted to check out the facility (make sure it was up to snuff), surprise him and can I just say, surprise was an understatement. He was in the dining room and when he saw my Uncle he immediately hollered, "Brother Brother!" The tears of joy were immediate and shed by all.
Later, as promised, they called me on their cell and I actually got to speak to him... it was a conversation 20 years in the making. He was very hard to understand and I quickly realized it wasn't so much the stroke impairing his speech but as soon as he heard my voice he completely broke down. There were an innumerable amount of tears in the high desert of California and the foothills of the Colorado Rockies that unforgettable Sunday afternoon.
Dad's mind is sharp as a tack. He is just trapped in a body that is wheelchair bound and unable to speak, paralyzed on his right side. He can, however, write with his wrong hand (left side) and boy howdy, can he still tell it like it is. How ironic is it that a man that once was large and in charge, so into public speaking and in control of everything, is now trapped in a body that struggles to communicate. He could have abandoned there in that nursing home, forever silenced, had it not been for God's mercy on him.
In June of 2007 I flew out and we gave him yet another big surprise. We strolled into his room on a Saturday (it's a hospital style.. 3 beds, 1 tv, 1 bathroom) and he was kind of awake. He was confused for a moment to see Uncle and Auntie the day before their scheduled visit (he kept every important event-such as their visits-on a calendar) but smiled happily just the same. He nodded a polite, "Hello" to me, not knowing who I was. I walked up next to his bed and said, "Hi Daddy, It's Seesa" (my nickname since I was an itty bitty.. I couldn't pronounce "Melissa" and that was the best I could do). He gasped and reached for my hand. He rubbed it on his cheeks, kissing it, crying and said perfectly clear, "My baby, my baby". It was, hands down, a best moment ever. Not a dry eye in the place, let me tell ya. I got my wish on that trip and made sure to tell him I love him and forgive him. I consider myself very blessed!
Dad had been stuck inside his nursing home for 15 months. He had not felt the sunshine on his face or even a breeze through his now very thin hair. No visitors .. no nothing. We changed that all up in a hurry. We checked him out, went for lunch, he devoured a hamburger and fries and just relished the Coke on ice. We took him to Walmart, got him all new clothes (trashed the crap in his closet.. the step daughter left USED CLOTHES for him.. not even his own) and let him roam the aisles. What can be a pain in the butt shopping trip to some of us he soaked up like a sponge... the sights, the sounds... everything. He poured over meat prices in the grocery section.. to this day we're still not sure what he was doing.. just trying to feel like a human that belongs in the outside world, I suppose. I may be adopted but that will never change the fact I am my Daddy's girl and it was heartbreaking to watch.
This past June I went to visit him again and we had another wonderful day together. This time a huge absence was felt, as we had lost my dear Uncle Mel in February. I'm so thankful they got to see each other again during several visits over the last year.. God's timing is perfect.
The Bottom Line .. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so don't turn your back on the people that love you the most. Don't be stubborn, don't hold grudges and make amends when you can. You run the risk ending up alone and unclaimed... sometimes we don't get a do-over.
Time passed and old wounds healed. As bad as things ended between my parents, he was still my Daddy. He was the guy that loved to take me to Disneyland every year, played endless hours of catch with me in the street, taught me to drive and play tennis. Although we couldn't afford a horse, I did have weekly riding lessons and to this day I still love the smell of a stable. I just wanted a chance to tell him no matter what, I love him and forgive him. I can't point a finger or be the first to cast that stone.. I've done some rotten things in my little life, as well.
After Mama passed away, I tried on and off throughout the years to find him and spent bucko bucks with online services. One "found" him at an address in Grass Valley, CA so I sent a letter and a wedding picture. 2 weeks later, I got a really nice note back (picture included) from a total stranger telling me she wished me luck in my search but she had never heard of Dad..
In May of 2007 I got a letter in the mail from the County of Riverside (in CA) asking if I knew who Vern Vette was and, if so, to contact them immediately. HotDiggityDog! I called and his sad story unfolded...