Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My father's birthday April 3, 1922

This is the day in 1922, my father, Louie Ball was born in western Pennsylvania coal mining town to a coal miner, Frank Ball and his wife Anna Kudzia Ball. He was Christened Ludwig according  to his baptismal certificate, but all his life known as Louie.   As you know if you know me, I never knew him, he knew I was on my way but he did not know he'd be gone from this earth before I arrived.   He'd have been 91 today but his life was short, over in 1944 at age 22, when his B-24 plane with crew disappeared into the Atlantic.  He was only 22, a pilot in the US Army Air Corp, leaving a young widow,  Mom who was supported by her family and me on the way, a WWII story..

This photo is the only baby photo I have of him.  Elsewhere on this blog I have compared his and my baby photos and written about him.  Oddly today is also the birthday of the youngest daughter of his oldest brother, a cousin I have never met who lives in western Pennsylvania.
Lt Lewis  S Ball,  Dorr Field, FL

We wonder what if and can imagine what might have been but that changes nothing.  What was has been and we are now in the present.  The future is ahead.

Mother in law continues to hang onto life at the skilled nursing facility in our town, but since  her discharge from the hospital, a week ago today,  she has declined mentally, losing the small bit of cognition that she had at 96.  Perhaps it is the anesthetic remaining in her system, perhaps it is the trauma, perhaps the pain medication was too severe, all together  everything plays a part in her decline.  She no longer knows why she is where she is, she cannot fathom  that she has broken her hip and had surgery, yet she knows who we are.  She is a very difficult patient, tiny but very demanding, frail and stubborn and is best when she is sleeping.  She does get up for therapy and sometimes eats in the dining  room.  Today she declined to eat the midday meal and was sleeping when we went for our daily visit.  Yesterday she was more delirious and the well meaning aide allowed her to have the walk around phone so that she could talk to Jerry.  Oh right, nothing like a 6:30AM wake up call from someone who cannot string two words together but wants the phone.  We have adamantly asked that they not make phone calls to us for her, it does no good and is disturbing.  She is already delirious  why must we get on the bandwagon?   She is agitated and  demanding.  Somehow she cons a helpful aide into dialing the phone for her, the aide likely  thinks it might help and so  tries to assuage and make sense to someone who cannot comprehend.  When we answer the phone she cannot even talk  and when she does she is not coherent.  What a wonderland, how tiring this is.  How I wish her daughter had her as her responsibility, but that would never be, she did not want to be infringed upon years back and now the option is long gone. Through caring for elderly and years of long term care administration, I have never seen a situation like this. Only one time did the facility where my uncle resided  ever call me to talk to him when he was not making sense,  they figured it out and mostly he was of good temperament and humor even when ailing.  A different person.   She could be like this for how long, she could live on for years, she could improve, she could have ups and downs, all coulds  and no guarantees. Both of us are exhausted at the end of the day.  Maybe we could refer the delirious calls to her daughter or her younger son, let them see what life is like, let them be disturbed, let them not get to do what they want, put themselves on hold, sure right, silly thoughts.  That will be the day.

Someday there might be a funny story here, like Friday night when we returned from dinner and the phone rang.  The nursing home showed on caller ID so Jerry picked up and it was quiet.  Finally a voice said, "who's this?" and when he replied, "Jerry" the voice said, "here's your mother."  WTH?  We had spent 3 hours there earlier and accomplished only an agreement with the therapist to order a wheel chair. MIL  does not ever remember that we were there. Florence (MIL) got on the phone and began to babble and then demand that Jerry come take her home.  As he tried to repeatedly tell her she was home, she faded.  As he shouted into the phone, because she cannot hear either, "get the nurse" she replied, bewildered, "what nurse."  Finally a nurse came along and took the phone, apologizing  that some of the other residents had taken it upon themselves to help her  out to call,  shades of Jack Nicholson and "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest"  the loonies have taken over the asylum.   Somehow when one gets too much of this repeatedly it is difficult to see the humor.


  1. EMAIL from Tom: As the resident optimist, perhaps the last one in CA, I can only respond with look on the bright side. You get phone calls while those poor aides, probably earning minimum wage but worth far more, have MIL to deal with through an entire work shift. I am sure I would go off my rocker trying to deal with one in her condition. You have shown amazing resiliency throughout this ordeal. And, I am sure ordeal is the appropriate term. As one of my girls announced long ago, "Hang long." Three or four year old language for 'hang on' as I interpreted at the time.

  2. Tramadol, that may be a contributing factor to MIL's mental instability (something with which she needs no help). An alert young man, LVN at the SNF suggested that it affects the far elderly badly, he has seen that in his experience. So we agreed to discontinue it. Today the local family nurse practitioner will see her. Yesterday on our daily visit she was asleep so we did not awaken her, but followed my old grandma's advice, "let well enough alone."

  3. Pat, the situation with Jerry's mom does sound like a difficult one. My own mom is in her 91st year and still living in her own home. She does have someone who comes in days, but she is alone at night. She did get a medic alert system and had hand rails installed on the basement and stairs to the second floor. We suggested assisted living facilities, but she would rather be in her own home, for now. My brother and his wife are closer to her in NJ as we are 6+ hours away in VA. It is a tough situation when adult children have their own lives and are aging themselves and want to enjoy what years they have remaining.