Winter of our Discontent – Enough Already

Panoramo of the Quiet of the Snow

I have not experienced this kind of winter in NJ for years.. With El Nino where each winter was mild for the past few years, this year is wetter and colder than I’ve ever seen. The winter of 2014 in Central NJ has been one storm after another dumping snow and ice and when its not snowing, it’s frigid.

I noticed that this year the weather channel named each storm. Today we are in the middle of Storm Pax. Not sure what that means, but I guess we are on the letter “P” with storms.

I don’t really mind the snow, as long as I have my monster snow thrower to clear the snow, but gosh enough is enough. The kids in NJ are really having fun, as they have now had 4 or 5 snow days.. Of course I look forward to the 4:30 AM call from the Middletown, NJ Board of education to tell me that there is no school today due to ANOTHER Snow Storm!

I have to admit that this town is so wonderful with communications by telephone blasts, email’s and text messages. This township is also amazing with snow plowing.. Even before the snow finishes, the main roads are cleared!

I was just talking to my daughter and she tells me that dad’s taxi is slacking off and not posting enough. Well, things are going on in Dad’s life that really cannot be shared here (for now)….

Whenever it snows, I sit in my semi “man cave” in the back of my house and work.. Yep that’s me, sitting and watching my neighbor’s horses frolicking in the back. This is how boring my life has become.

Horses lounging Horses out for a walk in the Snow

What dad really needs is a vacation.. A vacation where he can just let loose and chill. Now the question arises, is where do I go?

Since my daughter told me I need to write about more interesting things, I’m going to have to reflect and write about interesting things.

For now, I’m going to watch as much Curling as possible at the Olympics in Sochi. I’ve gotten obsessed at watching the men and women slide the rock down and sweep to get points. I still don’t get the scoring system, but the intensity is worth the wait.. BTW, I found out that Curling has become the latest “must see” sport in the schools. One Child even had her phone confiscated because she was watching Curling in math class! I got a chuckle out of that.

At least it’ll be an interesting spring (when it arrives in the next 35 days!).

Hey, pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training next week, so as a NY Mets fan, the annual rite of hope for my metsies starts anew.

Dad’s life is changing and he’s headed for a hard reset of his life. More on this later in postings when the time is right.  For now, Dad has to just get over this endless winter!

 

Loss of a Parent and emotions

Last week, I lost my father to the complications of dementia and other medical ailments, after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey. Actually posting this entry today is ironic in that today is the 100 day anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and it was right after Sandy that his downward spiral was noticed by me.

For years he hid his dementia from me and his family by being what they call a “functional dementia patient”. He could get basic tasks done as long you did not disrupt his established routine. I won’t go through his last three months, as the pain of seeing him suffer still continues to numb my senses.

 

He was 84 years old and he fought bravely for 3+ months through hospitalization/rehab/assisted living. So now that leaves me and my brother as “middle aged orphans”.  For the past week, my brother and I have reached such a tremendous outpouring of love and affection from our friends and family that we are at a loss to define our gratitude. I realize that many times, when I write Dad’s taxi, it’s with my personal brand of humor, but this time, I’m writing to put my feelings into words so I can look back on these words and get a true understanding of my emotions at this time. I guess that is the best I can do at this time.

I didn’t think it would be this difficult at the passing of our father, as much as a sense of loss I felt when I lost my mother 13 years ago, but when you lose your parent (regardless of how you felt towards them when they were alive), many emotions come flooding to you. For me the feeling of emptiness, relief and just a sense of numbness all collided simultaneously. I wanted to cry, but tears would not come. All I felt was a feeling of solitude with my inner child and knowing that I’d never be able to see my dad and that after this life event, I’d no longer have any parent who would give me the unconditional love every child craves for from his/her parent.

Luckily I had my family and friends surrounding me to help me balance my emotions on my dad’s passing. The support I received from my inner circle of family and friends from  all over the world helped me understand the impact my father had on others and how to celebrate his life. This helped me to reconcile my emotions which had continued to collide on a daily basis during his life and his death.

As my brother and I continued to wrap up the memorial services and financial matters, we both gained strength from each other and just talking. Even as my brother is a few years younger than me and much more logical, his range of emotions allowed me to understand and grasp the loss in the proper context.

When you lose both your parents, the void left cannot be measured by words. The emptiness that you no longer have a mother or father who loved you unconditionally is a difficult concept for  any child to grasp. My relationship with my father for most of his life was strained to say the least. Yet during his last 3 months of his life, I gained closure on a my emotions as I took care of him and saw him deteriorate into a state of despair as he realized that he would never “go home”.

Everyday as I talked to him in his state of dementia, I realized that I no longer had any rights to feel the anger that I felt for most of my life. Now was a time for forgiveness and understanding. This allowed me to move on and take care of the necessary tasks a son has to do when he is taking care of his father. Yes, I may sound cold and heartless when I say these words but everyday I spent with him chipped away at every ounce of the residue of anger which I carried in my heart every day of his life for the way he treated his children and his wife when he was of sound mind. His toughness and independence was a staple of his existence of 84 years and I realized that if live to his age, I may not be able match his courage and dignity he showed till the day he passed.

When my dad left us, he left under his terms (peacefully) and with grace. He left telling the nurses “He would not be in the hospital after Today (January 29th, 2013)”. And as in his life, he kept to his word. He fought till the to get out of the bed that had imprisoned him.

At his memorial service, I spoke from my heart when I eulogized him and it enabled me to let go of all the emotions had kept pent-up inside for years. His fierce independence, his sense of right and wrong, and above all his wanting not to interfere in the lives of his children.

Yes as I normally do, I ramble on and on..

Dad, I hope you rest in peace and your soul finds rest wherever you are!

 

,

Welcome to my New Life-decisions and chaos

Take care of Elderly ParentsOver the past 6 weeks after Super Storm Sandy, it would be an understatement to say that my life has spiraled into a life of daily chaos and additional stress. With my elderly father’s ongoing battle with his health and his mental faculties being so impaired, let’s just say.. “the hits keep coming”.

I’ve decided selfishlessley that this blog will be my outlet for all the frustrations I’m currently facing. As many of my readers know that I usually laugh at most of the things that happen around me.. Now I’m laughing (or crying)  at the things that happen TO ME directly.

It’s like the heavens have opened up and blessed me with multiple challenges and decisions that I need to make on the fly.. I hate making decisions on the fly.. I’m into organization and planned decisions. If you look up the definition of what the personal traits of a Saggitarian you would see my traits. We don’t like surprises and are quite inflexible when it comes to surprises. I’m one of those classic Saggitatians. We want the world to be perfect (as we are) and get bent out of shape when the the world does not live up to our expectations. That’s me in a nutshell. I’m sure my family and friends would agree on this statementYet I also know that that’s all in a perfect world, and I live in the most imperfect of worlds.

eldersAfter Superstorm Sandy, I realized that my elderly father was in need of medical help and as the “good son” and only son in NJ, I’d have to take the burden of caring for my father. Let me start of by saying that my relationship with my father has never been (to put it mildly) a relationship based on mutual love  and respect. Yet the one gift that my father did give me over the past 10 years is the gift of raising my family without his distractions and worrying about his welfare. Pretty selfish statement, but in reality, he gifted this to both me and my sibling who happens to live in Texas.. Yes I’ve written about my visits to Texas!

My dad was admitted to the hospital about 6 weeks ago in a state of anemia, pneumonia and a state of dementia. Of course all conditions developed over time (especially the dementia), but because my dad was living alone, he was able to hide these symptoms from me for a few years.

Over the past 6 weeks, it’s been trips to the hospital (daily) and rehab (where he currently is) and planning on HIS future after rehab. At the same time, of course my daily chaos with my home life is (as Barney says on “Big Bang Theory” —> LEGENDARY). ongoing.

How I’ve managed to maintain my sanity, I really don’t know, I guess being numb during chaos and just reacting is a great way to maintain your sanity. The future looks bleak for my father as he will need 24×7 care after he leaves rehab and our great medical system “draws down all his finances, so Medicaid can take over”. He will never regain his independence and will never be able to constantly remind me that my inheritance (now none) is what he will leave for me.

As luck would have it, my employer has been totally understanding of the choas in my life and has been unconditionally supportive and allowed me take time off to address my dad’s illness. I do not know what I would have done, if this was not the case

My brother came to NJ from Texas for a week and we researched and educated ourselves on the assisted living and nursing homes. We quickly realized that the our current situation with our father was payment for being allowed to raise our families in peace over the past 10 years without having major home issues because of the possible influence of our father in our life. 

I walk around in a state of total exhaustion both mentally and physically as I now realize that every day puts forward a new challenge on my ability to reason with the events that are going around me. Sound pretty pathetic, but when I say the “hits keep coming”, that is the truth.

Examples:

  • Super Storm Sandy and loss of Power
  • Elder care and illness of parent daily issues
  • Work related stress
  • Tennis injuries (don’t get me started with this one)
  • Car Repairs (I guess you really do need brakes to stop a car)
  • Holiday cheer (I’d call it more holiday depression)
  • Differences, benefits of Medicare and Medicaid
  • Self forgiveness and letting go of the guilt.
  • Putting things in perspective.

Yet the whole experience over the past 2 months has been humbling. To see a man who all his life was a miser and self-centered, become totally dependent on others for his daily care. He’s actually mellowed out in his “state of confusion” to where we get along better now then we have ever gotten along when he was NOT in his delusional state. Each day, I spend time with him and realize that his ongoing battles with sanity have enable me to forgive him as well as myself for our inability to have a good relationship.

I see myself through  his eyes and in his wheelchair in another 20 or 30 years I see myself struggling to maintain cohesiveness and losing my freedom and become dependent on others to take care of me. If these thoughts are not humbling, I really don’t know what is.

I’ve now learned to take each day “one day at a time” and instead of feeling sorry for myself, just accept the situation and deal with it in my unique way.. Using sarcasm, humor and plain self understanding is the way to come out of this unscathed.

I’ve become educated about:

  • Elder care and its financial impacts on families.
  • What it takes to take full health and financial responsibility for another human being who cannot take care of himself. Specifically the legalities of the healthcare system in our country
  • What the words “draw down the assets mean”.
  • Showing empathy when in reality, you are struggling with your internal strife and emotions.
  • Being able to adjust to change, when inherently your nature precludes change.
  • Finding outlets for the stress that are both healthy and self-contained.
  • How to become organized and make decisions that are outside your comfort zone.
  • How expensive elder care is in this country for those with assets.
  • How important it is to have a healthcare directive and a Power of Attorney (POA)!
  • what’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

I could go on and on.. but you can see that the past 2 months have been so difficult that my senses have become numb that the only way to I can adjust to my “New reality of my life” is to write about it..

Related articles

NJ: After the storms

After the past few weeks of storms that have hit NJ and the Jersey Coast where I live, it looks like we are in a period of tranquility for the next week or so.

Many people in NJ are still suffering from the Super storm Sandy and the nor’easter that followed a few days later gave a one-two punch. With Sandy, we were without power for 8 days, and just as we got power back in our house, within 24 hours, we again lost power after the Nor’easter!

Fortunately, we got back power within 24 hours after outage #2 an we were warm and toasty at hour home. Now that we are resuming our normal life, it’s time to reflect on some of the things I learned from this experience:

  • Get a Generator, if you live in an area where you lose power, invest in a generator, so you can reduce the “disruption” to your life. This is going to be my next investment, so when the next super storm hits NJ, and I lose power, my generator will keep my house warm and save me from throwing away hundreds and hundreds of dollars in food!
  • Have friends and/or relatives that are willing to be your escape strategy if you don’t have backup power (generator anyone?)
  • If you are determined to stick it out, make sure you have flashlights and firewood to keep your sanity when you are without electricity.
  • Have lot’s of warm clothes and layer your clothes, so even though you are freezing, you look cool in your multiple layers of clothes.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries, candles and lots of patience with your kids as they go crazy without their electronic toys that no longer can be charged!
  • Get an inverter for your car. You will be surprised how useful the inverter is when you have laptops and electronics that you HAVE to charge in your car!
  • Make sure you have enough gas in ALL your cars! If your area doesn’t have electricity, there is a high probability that you won’t be able to get gas for a while
  • Stock up on food that are not perishable. Evaporated milk will go a long way when you will be out power!
  • Plan, Plan and Plan for being without power for extended periods of time.
  • Make sure you have enough batteries and flashlights to last for a few days.
  • If your neighbors have generators, be nice to them and beg/plead so you can get a line from their generator to your house..

Even as I write this posting, there are hundreds of thousands of people in NY/NJ that are still without power. I truly pray that these people get their lives back and can get some normalcy in their lives.

The past few weeks have been humbling. What we took for granted, is indeed a commodity (Electricity). Don’t take this commodity lightly (no pun intended).

If you read this post and were impacted by the storms, I’d like to hear how you survived the past few weeks.

 

Hurricane Sandy: A week after

Map of New Jersey
Map of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

So it’s almost a week after Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey. There are still almost a million people in NJ without power and many communities are devastated.

 

When I reflect on that, my situation at my home (no power) is trivial. Yes, we are living at relatives houses in other parts of New Jersey, but the sheer impact of Sandy is felt no matter where we are. Especially the gas situation.

 

Some highlights/low lights since my last posting:

 

  • As of yesterday the odd/even system of getting gas was implemented by Governor Christie. I commend him on doing this. I spent almost an hour on-line getting gas a few days ago. These kinds of lines reminded me of the lines I saw over 20 years ago when I used to live in NYC during the Oil embargo when Gas was less than $1 a gallon. Now we are paying over $3.50 a gallon and the sense of deja vu is back for me!
  • I realized my elderly father needs immediate attention as his mental faculties have deteriorated tremendously and I have to now take charge of his entire life. If Sandy had NOT come around, I would never have seen this, so from the bad came this good/bad news. I’ve spent the past few days getting organized on how to take care of my father who is in his mid 80’s and let me tell you this is an absolute attitude adjustment, for me. I’m thinking that I’ll spend the next few weeks posting some of the things I’ve done and hopefully this will enable some feedback and interaction with others that are or have gone through what I’m going through!
  • In times of need the people that reach out to you from all over the world shows that people do care. I’ve received so many emails on Facebook, Linked In, Text messages that I’m truly touched at the outpouring of affection from my friends and relatives.
  • Living with my various relatives has been such a joy.. These people have opened their hearts and homes to my family, and this is truly touching. This scenario is being played out in many families and I’m sure many will attest to this.

 

Good thing about today.. it’s Sunday and I have a TV to watch the games!

 

 

 

Franken-Storm Sandy Aftermath: New Jersey

English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illin...
English: A cell phone tower in Palatine, Illinois, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s been a few days now since Hurricane Sandy came and went to the Jersey coast and to New Jersey in General. The devastation that this hurricane was at least 10 times what  Irene did to New Jersey about a year ago. 

 

Complete Communities destroyed, total chaos all across New Jersey. Some of the things I’ve seen and heard about over the radio (since I have not really seen ANY TV since the onslaught from Sandy).

 

  • Over 1 million people with NO POWER in NJ. This number has decreased over the past few days, but where I live in Middletown, NJ we have had no power and probably will have no power for 7 more days. Hopefully.
  • Trees up-rooted all over and many trees hanging precariously across power lines. In Middletown, I actually went UNDER a tree that is hanging onto a power line. Yes.. I know that is dangerous, but I really didn’t have much have a choice.stupidity overrode logic in this case.
  • Oddities that can can only be seen to be believed. In the picture below,  an elderly neighbor of mine and his wife are blowing/raking leaves as Sandy leaves.. BTW, he was doing the same thing as Sandy hit MT.. he was out blowing leaves from his driveway!

 

Image

 

  • Marina’s flooded out, with boats lifted off their docks (with their docks) and relocated to unnatural places.

 

Image

 

  • NO GAS anywhere, and wherever there was gas, huge lines (up to 4 hours). And at these stations, two separate lines.. people in their cars waiting to fill up and people on fill up the “Little Red Containers” for their generators.

 

Images

 

  • My network of choice (and I won’t name the service provider for my cell phone service.. Not Verizon), has had NO CELL phone coverage in Middletown. When we bailed out of Middletown, this morning, I still had NO 3G and/or 4G service for my cell phone in Middletown, NJ.
  • The communications by Middletown Township was outstanding, cell phone text, emails, phone calls to talk about recovery progress. Outstanding.. is the best way to talk about this. Of course I didn’t get much of this as my cell service had “NO SERVICE”.

 

Words cannot describe the wrath and the results of Sandy. Every community, stretching from Cape May county to Northern New Jersey was not spared. Many board walks and beach towns washed out, thousands of people displaced  from their homes, Life long memories destroyed in floods and fires.

 

Where I live in Middletown, NJ, we were in the direct path of the eye of the storm. Fortunately, our house was spared damage with a minimal of falling branches and no loss of property as such.

 

Over 1 million people are still without power right now in NJ. FEMA and all the agencies are doing an amazing job to get us back on-line (literally).

 

Even as I sit here at my relatives house in Somerset County, NJ, the hurricane’s impact is felt. No Cable TV!

 

This hurricane has bought out the best and worst in people. Price gouging (for Generators), and people on gas lines getting into fist fights and tempers flaring..

 

My office has been closed all week and many networks are down in many corporations. So this week is a forced vacation on many people..

 

If you are in NJ and see this post, what have you seen? I’d really like to hear from you on how you survived the “Franken-Storm Sandy”.

 

I applaud the Governor of NJ and the President in their actions before/during/and after Sandy. This was an example of all branches of the federal and state government working together for the good of the people. S

 

So what’s your Sandy Story? I’m all ears..

 

I wish everyone a speedy return to normalcy in you respective lives..

 

We only have a few more months till the end of times according to the Mayan Calendar.. Is this the start?

 

 

 

Snow Days in Middletown, NJ

Hi Everyone,  I haven’t written in a while as I’ ve been busy with my end of year workation and recovering from the Blizzard of 2010  that dumped 25+ inches of snow in my hometown of Leonardo, NJ.. Even with my monster snow blower/thrower, it took me over 3+ hours to clear my driveway. In my 40+ years, I’ve never seen this kind of snow storm leave such an aftermath. All up and down the North East Corridor, snow fell everywhere for a period of 24 hours and accumulated at an astonishing rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Yes we do get snowstorms.. but nothing of this magnitude.

Nobody was spared if you lived anywhere on the shore line of the northeast. NJ has been in as state of emergency and continues to be in one today..

 

NJ Governor Chris Christie

BTW as a side note, both of the highest government officials of the Garden State are taking a major bruising over this as both the Governor and his Lieutenant Governor  are MIA in warmer climates. I guess they were following there commander in chief from Washington who is on vacation in Hawaii!..As a matter of fact both the governor of NJ and the mayor of NY have not been spared as a result of the snow clearing issues. NJ Governor Chris Christie is in Walt Disney World with his family on a “much needed” vacation and this second in command is in Mexico! Keep in mind both of them make  a combined $300K per year out of taxpayer money to serve the state of NJ.

Till 2010, NJ didn’t even have a Lt. Governor! This is what I call progress! Below is a quote that  I read in an editorial which perfectly describes the above:

State Sen. Dick Codey, a Democrat who stepped in for 15 months after Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004, put it best.

“They’re both entitled to a vacation, but not at the same time,” he said of Christie and Guadango. “You sit down and you work that out. Why do we have a lieutenant governor? So when the governor’s out of state for a period of time, like he is now, she or he would cover for him.”

The lieutenant governor, by the way, does not serve for free. She is paid $141,000 a year. The governor can make a maximum of $175,000.

So much for personal responsibility. So much for selflessness. So much for saving taxpayers’ money. Confronted with the first true crisis of his administration, Chris Christie went to Disney World.

Maybe the pundits will have to rethink that name the governor is making for himself. Could it be … Micky Mouse?

In NY/NJ Many side roads were still not cleared a few days 48 hours after the snow stopped! In my hometown, I do have to commend the MT officials that have been working around the clock to clear the roads. Additonally, the communications with the residents via text messages and emails has been superlative.

Every day we have been getting text messages from MT township on progress of road clearing and which roads remain to be cleared. In the 10 years that I’ve lived in MT, this is the first time I’ve seen this level of communication. I truly appreciated it. Fortunately, I happen to live on a “pass-through” street and it’s always cleared first. Of course this also means, that we are usually plowed in with snow on our driveway!

BTW, if you don’t know what “pass-through” means: It’ a road in NJ is like a cross street to get to one major road to another Major Road. In my case it’s Route 36 to Route 35. Both of these roads run North South. Route 36 is the beach traffic road and the Route 35 is the shoppers paradise road!

Since this is a holiday week, schools are closed, so kids are home and they of course are enjoying the snow.. Even my teen went sledding today, with her college pals!

I hope all my readers have a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2011! Over the next few days, I’m going to individual farewell to 2010.. stay tuned for that.. it should be interesting.

Dad..

NYC Visit for OCI retrieval – NOT MINE!

So this Friday, my buddy and I will be visiting NYC. He’s getting his OCI card and I’ll tag along sulking in self misery as I still can’t get mine since I need to get the American Naturalization certificate to get an Indian Overseas Citizen of India Card. I still don’t get the logic behind that. So to get the replacement I’ll have to pay $380 so I can make a copy of it to give it to the Indian Government.

It’ll be my second visit to NYC in the past 2 weeks. To think I grew up in NYC, went to school in NYC, and commuted to NYC, and now I’m just a tourist. Something about NYC just brings out the joy in me. I guess seeing all the masses of humanity and the crowds is just exciting. In the  burbs where I live, seeing people walk around is a rarity, but in NYC, the best way to get around is on Foot.

Last week when I went to NYC, I found myself  looking at people and saying that: “this was me for so many Years”. Now I’m just a docile subarbinite who gets excited in my infrequent visits to the Big Apple.

I’ll write about my visit of course as my buddy and I plan to chill and have a good time.

Later for now,

Dad