Thursday, September 22, 2016

Aging and Indiana's Adult Protection Service Gestapo

Couples not allowed.
Like blood thirsty stormtroopers, the Adult Protection Service from Monroe County, Indiana is once again on the move!  Marching without fear of retaliation, its paid mercenaries again swoop into a home they've already destroyed and won't be satisfied until they have all members confined in a nursing home status.  

Like most laws created, a law office, hired by the service, has found a way to gain financially.  A year ago, they found their prospective cash cow, took advantage of an elderly man's naive nature, and proceeded to separate him and his wife of thirty-six years by having themselves declared her legal guardian.  

(*I've discussed the how's in a previous post.)

So, all of her property was taken to be sold, retirement annuity and burial policies cashed in, and 24 hour confinement in a nursing home was her fate. 

Of course, all of the husband's property, income, and personal information had to be disclosed for this process to move along.  Information, to which, they had full access.

Access which provided a future target for financial gain ... $10,000 per person.

So is the continuing saga concerning my stepmother and father.

Tuesday, I received phone calls from a nursing home administrator, the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office, and the lawyer's office which seems to be the sole contracted receiver of funds from those they chase.

It's a new form of "ambulance chasing" only under the guise 
of protecting those unable to protect themselves.

They all presented themselves as "worried" about my father.

What a false facade!  One could feel the drool and dollar signs dripping against the receiver of the phone as they expressed their supposed concern.

Allow me interrupt this oratory with a little information about their prey.  
"I've done things my way my
whole life.  Now, the APS wants
to tell me I'm crazy for doing them.

My father is 82 years old and is in better health than I am.  He's never had heart problems, spends an substantial amount of money monthly on vitamins, and eats a low fat diet which excludes all fast food.  He mows four acres of lawn weekly, chops his own wood for a Mother Earth News style home furnace he built by hand, plants and cares for an annual garden, and has no problem in maintaining an impeccably clean home.  He's never late on bills, has never had a complaint filed by any neighbor for any reason, and is a respected member of the community.  He keeps up on community news, small town gossip, and can relate it to you without hesitation.

He has devoted himself to a seven day a week, seven hour a day obligation of staying next to his wife in the nursing home to ensure she's cared for properly.  He has taken on the tasks of feeding her, cutting and styling her hair, and even changing her bed when the nurses seem to be "too busy" with other patients to do it.  So much for the prime nursing home care one would expect a patient to receive.

Although more a wish than a reality, he has had a hard time believing that his wife will never be allowed to return to their home.  Yet, even though the experience has been an exceptional physical and mental strain on him, he never stopped his daily visits and care.  

That has been his mistake.

Being exhausted at times, he has dozed by in a chair beside her bed.  One evening, he fell into a deep sleep and when awakened at 2 a.m. from a nightmare, he asked, "What funeral home am I in?"  

After a moment, he recognized where he was at and left the facility to go home.

This was noted and written in a record that someone obviously started on him without permission.  Of course, the nightmare was ignored as being such and instead the incident was listed as a state of dementia.  

The person making this claim was not a licensed physician!

If you would like to tell me that you've never awakened in a strange surrounding and wondered where the hell you are, I would be very close to telling you that lying is a sin.  

If you've never awakened from a nightmare, whether it be one where you're being 
chased or are falling, and not taken a few seconds to gather yourself, I would have
 to repeat my statement from a sentence ago.  

And, if you've never jumped out of bed thinking you were late to work, only to find 
that it was the weekend, I'd say you have a habitual lying problem.

Mind you, never once did I accuse you of exhibiting Dementia!
What I want to know is why it took the staff until 2 a.m. in the morning
 to wake a visitor that was in a locked door facility?  

Sounds like nursing home security need be investigated instead of my father.

They also say that he feels he is "at home" there.  My father is at home wherever his wife is.  His whole purpose in being with her is to share the love he has with the one who has been taken away.  He knows he's not like the patients there, is shocked by the way the nursing home has terminated personnel due to budget cuts, and, again, only spends so much time there because he felt he was "helping" with the care of his wife.

Little did he know it would be used against him in a quest to incarcerate him.

Last week, my father was driving his pick-up truck.  As he crested a rise, he found himself facing a lawn care trailer that had been backed out into his lane of the road.  The driver had exited the vehicle and left it there as he did something else.

My father hit his brakes and skidded to a stop, but not before hitting the trailer.  It damaged his truck just beyond "driving" ability, but there were no personal injuries.  
"I used to love to laugh.
Now, I'm just waiting to die."

Unable to have transportation to get him to the nursing home, my father decided he would walk.  This was a distance of about five miles.  He had walked this distance to and from school during his youth, and felt himself still physically capable.  

(I had to do it during my youth, too, usually in the dark of night after basketball practice.  Icy rain, an armload of heavy books, and cars speeding along the highway are my memories as my father worked night shift and couldn't pick me up like the other kids fathers did.)  

Anyway, he did this for several days (proving he was physically capable to all of us) before I became aware of the situation Monday evening.  His response to my shock was simply, "I walk that much around the yard every day.  Walking is good for you.  Besides, most of the time a neighbor will stop and give me a ride."

As I said, his physical health has been excellent.

I was told Tuesday morning (in a call from the nursing home administrator) that he didn't bring anything to eat for the day, They felt he was forgetting to do so, displaying early Alzheimer's memory loss characteristics.  I was surprised as he always prepared a sandwich for himself and a bowl of fruit or vegetables for his wife.  When I asked him about this, he stated, "It would have spoiled in the heat during the walk. I eat before I go and when I get home.  It's no big deal."

Sounds like a man that isn't thinking sanely, doesn't it?   

I don't eat breakfast.  I guess that makes me a target, too!

Call me "naive" also as I thanked the nursing home administrator for telling me she'd arranged a ride home for him Tuesday with a nurse that traveled that direction and would provide him lunch that afternoon.  Yes, I thought it was being done out of human kindness as it was being portrayed.  I didn't know she was going to use it as another black mark against him in an effort to have him confined.

I had planned on going up to see him on Thursday, my day off.  I wanted to check on the progress of his truck repair and probably purchase a car for him to drive.  I was worried more about his safety than his ability to walk the distance as the elderly are targets for many wrong doers.  

That was before the Tuesday morning blitzkrieg!

I was barraged by calls from the nursing home, the prosecutors office, and the law firm representing them.  I was informed of the file the nursing home had obviously been keeping, their reporting of that file to the prosecutor's office, and the somewhat "threatening" warning  of the open case file that now existed.

The gestapo had been activated.

What has to now be done?

Since a person is guilty until proven innocent in this situation, my father now has to undergo an examination to determine his cognizant ability, an examination to determine his physical ability, and a driving examination to determine his driving ability.

Welcome to Indiana!

After discussing these new developments with him Tuesday evening, I found myself having to take two days off of work to travel the 250 miles to him to get the ball rolling.  Since 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, I've set up appointments with the Veteran's Administration Hospital and for a driving test, I have a car for him to drive in the meantime (after riding with him and finding nothing wrong with his driving at all), and am on my fourth pack of cigarettes.

But, the Gestapo is breathing down his neck.

I'm supposed to keep them updated as to all results.  I find it hard to do so without major malice coming through in my responses to them.  The term "witch hunters" comes to mind and the days of Salem haunt me and my willingness to supply them with any response.

Guilty until proven innocent is not part of our culture!  

Why has the state of Indiana accepted it as theirs?  

I'm sure that the state didn't intend for innocent individuals to be 
wrongly charged, so why is it occurring and 
what can be done to stop this atrocity?

My stepmother is a victim of Alzheimer's Disease and does have bouts of Dementia.  I saw this and knew it was only a matter of time before it got to the point of my father having to do something with her.  However, the state determined they needed to do something immediately and within a very short period of time took control.

However, my father does not have Alzheimer's Disease.  He remembers what he wants to, takes notes on appointments and important matters (as most of us do), and casts away what he could care less about, such as general non-important conversations with which he feels no need to remember.  

I do the same with my wife's conversations, as most spouses do.  If you live in Indiana and are over eighteen years of age, be careful as you may find yourself confined to a nursing home for doing so.

He exhibits no signs of Dementia.  He's the same stubborn old man any time of the day without change.  In his life, being engulfed in his obligations to his home and wife, it doesn't matter what day of the week it is as long as the bills are paid and there's milk in the house.  Since every day is has the same routine, knowing the date holds no importance to him.  Some people just can't understand that not everyone finds the same things important as they do.  Ask me what the date is and I'll look at my cell phone to see.  Do you do the same?

So, who's being hurt?

First, my stepmother.  Why?  Because the nursing home is definitely understaffed.  There's simply not enough staff to handle the individual feeding demands of the patients.  Why will she suffer?  Because, with my father now under the spotlight of "evil eyes" watching his every move, I've limited him to a maximum of two hours a day with her.  We simply can't take the chance of them reporting another normal activity as some sort of mental illness.  Without his assisting her, she will become another that has to be fed a cold meal by the time the staff gets around to feeding her, one that lies in a wet bed until they get around to changing it, and one that sit's listlessly awaiting death to take her while individual attention is impossible to share.

Also hurt, my father.  With his visiting time being cut short, he worries about her and the situation of which we're forced to allow her to remain.  Also, being accused of what's been stated is agonizing to him and his self worth, not to mention being required to take exams to prove his innocence and sanity.  He considered his efforts at the nursing home admirable.  He was relieving others of taking care of his wife so they could assist others.  He considered them his friends.

He now realizes they've stabbed him in the back.  All the joking and conversations were simply a ploy.  It finally hit him square between the eyes when I took him there Wednesday morning and he saw they'd removed the chair in her room that he normally sits in.

One can only surmise it was their way of saying, 
"You're not welcome here."

So much for "Thank you for helping."

Kind of shows the attitude they have, doesn't it?

Kind of makes you wonder what the state of Indiana really had in mind.

Then again, lawyers always help lawyers make money, don't they?

Friday, July 29, 2016

I'm Back!!! Thumpin Trumpin, Hillary Humpin' and Ten Things Of Thankful

Well, did you miss me?

That's a very dangerous question to ask, especially when you're unsure of the answers that will be forthcoming.

It's like being seventeen years old and asking your sixteen year old girlfriend if she's pregnant?

There are some answers that you want to hear and some that can put you in jail ... at least in some states.  (Yes, Indiana was one of those that could ... but no, she wasn't ... almost sixteen but not quite, that is.)

No, she wasn't pregnant.

I was.

Just kidding.

If you followed this blog, you know what I've been going through.  If not, scroll down and read the previous posting from April 30th (it's right below this one so you don't have to worry about all the extra work involved) and you'll be able to catch up quickly.

I'll probably fill you in with an update in a moment, but first things first.

We have two presidential candidates in the running.  If you include the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, we have four.

Actually, the last two are the real candidates.  Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton are the jokes.

Oh My God ... did I just say that?!?!?

I know, all the Republicans and Democrats have just placed a curse on me.  I'll never be able to have sex again.

My wife already made that promise to me so you're too late.

Let's just pray that if one doesn't use it that it doesn't fall off.

I think Hillary's already did ... and Trump got mad because it was longer than his.

Sorry, I'll stop because there are children present.

I tend to look to Cher for a song that describes the major party candidates this year.  Ever hear of "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"?

(**Video doesn't appear on cell phones.  Now, don't you wish you were on your PC?")

Okay, so I've already lost half of my audience.  What else is new?

Seriously, I think we need Morgan Freeman in the running for PUSA.  He does a great job playing the president in the movies, which is more than Trump or Hillary have done in their campaigns, so why not give him a shot?  

Okay, who's the ass that's holding his criminal past 
in "The Shawshank Redemption" against him?

Besides, presidents always have television movies made about them sooner or later.  Kathy Bates isn't old or wrinkled enough to play Hillary yet, nor is Neil Patrick Harris obnoxious enough yet to take on Trump's role.  It's a losing battle.

See, Morgan Freeman is looking better and better, isn't he?

I have to shake my head in wonderment of the common philosophy that "Trump isn't part of the political system".  Let's step back and look at that.  The system depends on big business filling the pockets of politicians.  Trump has always been a part of this system.  Tell me one gambling casino that hasn't added to the annual "undeclared" income of a politician.  He's just been on the other side of the picture, kind of like the Playboy joke section is on the back of the centerfold.  (Or, used to be ... it's been years since I've looked at one ... as porn is so easy to find on the web.)

And, my head continues to shake when people tell me that "Hillary is a part of the system that works for the common man".  I've been looking for years for that part and still haven't found it.  And, to look at the email fiasco, her achievements (?) in the State Department, and her consistent changing of sides dependent upon what group she happens to be addressing ... well, the common man definitely serves her purposes ... and serves her at lunch and dinner with drinks, too.   (Some have stated she's a lousy tipper.)

Yes, I'll vote this election, but it won't be for the "lesser of two evils" as has been described by many way too often this year.  No, I'll probably vote Libertarian, if for no other reason than to say I voted and have a right to bitch about the winner.  

May the best "Gypsy, Tramp, or Thief" win!

And, without further ado, let us get to what this is all about ... 
Ten Things Of Thankful!
See ALL TTOT Posts HERE !!!!!!
I promise to stay away from any more political comments in the Ten Things of Thankful.

Previously, I found myself entering a rut and not being able to escape.  As a large portion of my audience has been from outside of the United States, I'm not going to bore you any longer with our political woes.  (You'll probably experience them for yourselves in the near future after the election.)  No, I need to address some other thankfuls from now on ... to things that the "common man" can relate.  (No, I'm not talking about toenail fungus, crotch rot, or YouTube's exploding cysts.)

So, here is this week's Ten Things of Thankful!

This week, I'm thankful for:

1)  ... Black Widow Spiders.   Yes, how would I ever know that Black Widow venom would only cause a minor welt upon my legs had I not been recently bitten by them on three different occasions.  They do take a long time to heal as it has been a month since the first bite and it's just now scabbing over.  I'd been bitten by a variety of spider from India about eight years ago and still show the mark of the bite on my index finger, but these wounds should be gone in a month or two.   

One of these days I'll stop trying to train them to dance like Ellen.

2)  ... Lawyer Handling Skills.   Years of experience on stage, in front of training classes, and dealing with all types of customers have given me skills.  Every once in a while, I need a good chance to demonstrate the power of the spoken word.  This week, in dealing with an attorney that was supposedly handling continuing legal matters and monetary requirements between my father and the guardians of my stepmother, I let it loose.  When told he was going to be required to pay for nine and a half months of her nursing home care and that the guardians decided he needed to accept her rental property in Indianapolis back and pay all past due insurance and bills since they took it over, I couldn't hold back any longer.  

"Are we paying you to act like a dog and rollover with your legs in the air so they'll scratch your tummy, or are we paying you to be a fighting dog?  First off, they've wasted over a hundred thousand dollars of her money on $10,000 a letter outside lawyer fees and other non essentials.  If you're not willing to bring this to their attention and require a dollar by dollar account of her estate that they took control of, then we'll find someone who will.  And, since her rental property hasn't panned out to be the cash cow they thought it would be, they now want to give it back?  Forget it!  They're bound by the same court order we are ... it's not a pick and choose option package.  They need to accept what they've gone after and pay up.  We wash our hands of it.  Now, tell me, what kind of dog are you so we'll know what to expect from you in the future?"

And then I exhaled.

My father looked at me ... and then at my crotch ... 
like he was expecting to see the appearance of some gigantic balls.  

We got our way in the end, which saved him over $60,000 
and past due rental property bills totaling over $5,000.

I walked out of there like a bow-legged cowboy.

3)  ... EKG's.   This week, I had another episode with my heart.  After a chest pain filled weekend, Monday found me in St. Joseph's Hospital hooked up to monitoring equipment and having blood drawn from several places of my body.   First, why do nurses always look for the hairiest places on one's body to attach EKG patches?  I'm not really a hairy guy.  In fact, I often look forward to the moment I reach puberty and can grow sideburns.  Yet, nurses always find the few patches I have.  It's like they're saying, "When we pull these off later, you're not going to have any hair left anywhere on your body!"

Thank God they don't attach them to one's pubic area.

And, why do they hunt for different areas from which to draw blood.  Isn't it all the same as it circulates?  It's not like they're going to find a different flavor in a different body area.  Hell, if you want selection, go to Baskin-Robbins!

32 flavors I'm not!

4)  ... Early Retirement?   A little over a month ago, I hit the minimum retirement age for Social Security.  It was time for a major decision.

Take a reduced amount and make the wife work her butt off to pay the bills
Wait four more years, get the full amount, 
and still make the wife work her butt off to pay the bills.

My wife asked me if I still enjoyed downloading music, eating out, and having money to waste upon occasion.

Four years is really not that long a time.

5)  ... McDonald's Strawberry Banana Smoothie.  I have become addicted to this drink.  Actually, I've only had one, but am experiencing fantasies of indulging in another.  I'm fooling myself thinking that this drink is healthy for me, but then again, I have to remember it is made at McDonald's.  These are the folks that manufacture pieces of chicken that nobody has ever found in a chicken.  No, as I've turned over a new leaf and am only indulging in healthy habits, I have to reconsider returning to have another.  Maybe I'll just light up a cigarette and think about it for a while.

6)  ... Steak Prices Rising.  I was shocked the other night when I went shopping for steaks.  This is a food that I save for when my wife goes on vacation with our daughter's family and leaves me at home to enjoy the finer things in life ... fantasy films, loud music, and exotic foods (to her) like beets, cabbage, various types of greens, and steak all included.  Now, steak prices rose like a rocket when gas prices escalated.  However, since the media had reported an overabundance of beef in recent months, and since the price of a gallon of gas has gone way down, I logically reasoned that beef prices must have gone down, too.

When I finally found a couple that I could afford in the grocery store's "I'm Not Too Green To Eat But Don't Come Back And Bitch If You Get Sick" section, I hesitated only long enough to pick up another.  

I saved it for my wife's return home.  
She ate it tonight.  
I wonder if since she ate it voluntarily if I can be 
charged for murder if she dies from it?

7)  ... Old Monster Movies.  There's nothing like turning on your television and finding an old monster movie, especially those with special effects by Ray Harryhausen. "Jason and the Argonauts", "Jack the Giant Killer", and "The Valley Of Gwangi" were several that utilized his claymation talents and patience and became masterpieces in their own right.  Not a lot of blood, gore, guts, or veins filling the screen like during the RNC and DNC, just good old fun and fantasy.  
I'd like to see another claymation program, "Celebrity Deathmatch" be brought back on the air.  True, they were always gross to view, but imagine the fun involved with settling civil disobedience in this manner.  In other words, let's have "Gladiators of the World" make its debut show with a real Death Match!  Start by bringing in a ISIS member with a sword and the president of the National Rifle Association with a Springfield Armory 9 mm pistol and enjoy the show!  (And, don't forget the popcorn!)

8)  ... People That Text While Driving.  I had the most devoted texting taking place this week as I drove home from Indiana.  So, I'm stuck in Louisville rush hour traffic around the construction area of the new bridge.  I watch a wrecker driver, with car in tow, holding up his phone at eye level as he was texting.  He was so intent on what he was texting that he didn't realize that traffic had stopped in front of him.  Suddenly, he was reminded of this as the front of his wrecker crumpled against the back of an eighteen wheeler flatbed.  So, the wrecker needed a wrecker.  And we wonder why car insurance rates are so high.  

9)  ... Doctors Becoming Like Car Dealerships.     Okay, another episode experienced this week made me cringe.  While at the doctor's office Monday, I found myself in front of a brand new doctor as my old one had taken a teaching job at a local university.  After trying to freak me out to the point of wanting me to ride to the hospital in an ambulance (when I had just driven 20 miles to get to his office), he starts talking about oxygen levels and the need for sleep studies.  He hadn't properly diagnosed my first episode and he's trying to sell me add-on's!!!  Only if he offered me an extended warranty would my attention be diverted his direction.  Good thing my tennis shoes were new or he might have tried to sell me tire and wheel protection!

10)  ... Venetian Blind Destroying Cats.  Yes, I love my cats.  (They told me to say that.)  But, my two felines frustrate finances forever.  A couple of months ago, I purchased new blinds for the living room.  Well, fat butt Gabriella has found that if she waddles to the top of the couch, lays on her side and sticks her front legs through them, the blades will bend down and she can view everything that's going on in the neighborhood.  However, in doing so day after day, she has already broken two of the blades.  So, I went to Lowe's and attempted to find some stronger ones.  I can't tell you how ridiculous it sounded when I told the store clerk that I wanted some blinds that cats couldn't destroy.  I think he actually believed me when I told him I ran a zoo and wanted something that the cowardly lion and Dorothy could use to have some privacy.  (Lowe's and Walmart are known to draw employees from the same pool!) 

And that's going to do it for my return to Ten Things of Thankful!!


The last three months I've been away have been filled with a craziness in the world I don't think we've ever seen before.  Black Lives Matter protesters hypocritically stopping ambulances from getting to hospitals, a police officer shooting an unarmed social worker whose hands were raised to show they poised no threat, ISIS going wild in several countries using everything from knives to bombs to machine guns to a truck to kill innocent people, Social Security checks not being mailed out because the United States government stole the funds to use on other B.S. items, and police officers being assassinated in several cities by idiots believing in some ridiculous martyr vs. vengeance philosophy.  

The government wants to: 

1)  take away the guns of the innocents when average police reaction times exceed 20 minutes, (Population Control)
2)  lower grade averages to ensure more kids pass and feel good about being stupid, (Create the Ignorant "Herd" Mentality") and 
3)  raise taxes on those that can't pay the taxes they owe already.  (Total Elimination of Middle Class)

Yet, both parties tell us they can cure the problems.

I think an annual killing purge, held only in Washington D.C. while Congress is in session, would be the best cure.  However, since "The Purge" has already been used in the movie, let's call it "The Fresh Start Program".  It worked in the movies.

Maybe then you'd see the benefit of having Morgan Freeman as President.


P.S.S.   Please leave comments.  I've missed y'all!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Alzheimer's Disease, Nursing Homes, and the Last Ten Things Of Thankful

What a happy couple they were twelve years ago.
How things can change.
Normally, I attempt sarcasm laced with humor.

Notice I say, "Attempt."

This post is not going to follow the norm.

For the past few months, my humor has, for the most part, left me. 

No, Gabriella and Faletamie are fine, although her posts seemed to draw less and less views overall.  So, she's now sliding into a fit of depression and Faletamie is suffering her wrath and fury it seems to bring.  Don't worry, though, he'll be alright.

No, I've been dealing with some major personal problems.  Some have to do with finances, others much more important.

What?  There's nothing that will drag you down faster than money problems is there?

Yes, there is.  

Alzheimer's Disease is a terrible malady that affects much of our elderly population.  My stepmother is suffering from this.  Since it initiated after a stroke eight years ago, it has done nothing but get worse and worse.  In fact, unlike some instances, this is showing no signs of stabilizing.

Almost every day I've had off work, I'd drive 200+ miles to Indiana to assist my 82-year-old father and the situation he's found himself ensnared in the middle.  It's a place he never saw himself entering.  It's been a battle with the state of Indiana over the guardianship of the woman he's loved for decades ... his wife ... my stepmother.


Because in her mental state, she has wandered.  In remembering her younger years, she started sneaking out of the house when my father was busy in the basement or out in the garage and wandering the neighborhood wanting only to talk and visit with her old friends.  She would arrive at a neighbor's home, knock on the door, be admitted inside, and start conversations.  Unfortunately, the neighbors recognized she was somewhat "spacey" in her thoughts, and instead of calling my father, called the police.

One time of this happening is too much for the law to accept in the state of Indiana.  As my father thought it only her wanting to be a "friendly neighbor", he allowed his guard to drop.  The police were called to bring her home a total of three times because of this.  

As a result, the state agency of Adult Protective Services came into the picture.  Since my father had not controlled her "wanderings", they declared him incompetent in properly protecting her and have now used the court system to become her legal guardian.

There were several things that could have been done to have prevented this.  Had my father installed different "inside" locks on the doors, eliminating her chances of "wandering", the police would never have been called multiple times.  Of course, this would have made her a prisoner in her own home, but she wouldn't now be in the care of the state.  He could also have notified me upon the first occurrence.  We could have discussed the law, his responsibilities, and the way people no longer accept being exposed to an "inferior" being.  Times and tolerance have definitely changed.  Also, had one of her children stepped up and accepted Power of Attorney for her (as instant guardianship takes place in the state of Indiana).  They could have created a buffer and allowed for alternatives to be initiated.  

Unfortunately, they're happy with not having to deal with her in her current state.  Only one of three has visited her in a nursing home in the last three months.  I had to make the decision to eliminate myself from her possible guardianship as I could foresee lawsuits forthcoming from her children over every financial move I would have to make.

Last year, after the death of an uncle, I saw the problems my cousin had with the legal system.  I immediately had my father take his home out of his and her name and put it in his and mine.  That way, it can't be counted as her asset and used to boot my father out in the cold to pay for her healthcare.  In addition, we've also had Power of Attorney assigned to me for my father.  So, before the state starts playing games concerning his mental state they have to get through me.  

I'm not as naive nor as easy a prey as my father.  If they try, they will learn this.

Monday, my stepmother was moved from her first nursing home to another at the order of the court and recommendation of her newly assigned guardian.  As she had gotten close to many at the first nursing home, it was sad to see her finally understand she wouldn't go back to them after court.  We took her to the new nursing home, instead, and watched the shock set in.

Shock?  Yes, as this new place is the place that she will never leave.  As you walk in, you see those that have no sense of awareness roaming the halls and the gathering rooms.  Wheelchairs abound holding those that stare into space in hopes of seeing a light to provide them escape from their inescapable "care" prison.  Sadness prevails as many sit, wringing their hands, humming some tune from their past that gave them pleasure at one time, but now only builds a swinging bridge between life and death.

Even the air is heavy with the smell of medicine, messed adult diapers, and antiseptic cleaner that attempts to wash away the despair and hopelessness of those forced to remain against their wills.  Oh, the staff does their best to be upbeat and friendly while visitors are present, but it almost seems hypocritical to the setting they provide.

My father spent eight hours every day with her at the previous nursing home, and is doing the same at the present.  I see him starting to drift somewhat as his exposure to the morbid surroundings and the entire lack of hope being emitted by the occupants creep into his psyche.  I believe he looks into the near future, sees himself also being confined (losing all he's worked his whole life for) and is beginning to accept death as a welcome alternative.

As if all of the above wasn't enough, my uncle has now been diagnosed with cancer in several areas of his body.  He now resides in my stepmother's previous nursing home awaiting word to either start treatment or allow fate to take its due course.  

So, today's Ten Things of Thankful will not be based on the oddities of the news, as is usually the case.  Nor, will it be based on Prince's death, the political forefront, or how much Beyonce's overpriced new album stinks.  (Sorry, there's one or two good songs, but I'm really tired of middle finger songs and her attempts to rap like her husband.)

No, today's TTOT will be somewhat useful to anyone that has to drive extended distances often, as I have found myself doing.  That will be a relief for some, and a disappointment for others that tend to enjoy the madness I usually present.  (Believe it or not, there is an audience that likes it, lol.)

So, without further ado, this week, 
I'm Thankful For:

1)  Flash Drives.  USB stereo connections in new cars are a life saver on long drives.  I've most of my 9,000+ CD music collection transferred to them now, and there's nothing nicer than being able to put one in that provides you with a choice of over 250 albums.  Whether you're in the mood for Classics, New Music, Country, Jazz, Rock, Blues, Showtunes, or Old Time Radio Programs, it's simply a matter of finding which flash drive contains what you want, plugging it in, and concentrating on the drive instead of changing CD's every 35-50 minutes.  All you need is a bowl of popcorn and a beer to really enjoy the drive!

2)  Navigation Units.  Driving one way 200+ miles can become boring, especially when you have to do it often.  So, why not be somewhat experimental?  Drive an extra 30 miles past your exit and set your navigation to configure a new route home!  I've seen some great Amish farmlands that I would have never have seen otherwise by doing this, and one way actually proved faster than the initial route!  Give it a shot, be adventurous, and see what else the world has to offer.  Just be careful of little redneck places called "The Dew Drop Inn".

3)  Dollar Tree Stores.  Going back and forth has given me an opportunity to visit my real mother's grave site more often.  Noticing that her grave, the grave of my grandparents, and that of my aunt's had gone somewhat ignored, I stopped and purchased flowers for the side urns.  Upon my next visit, I found the urns had either been robbed, or a storm had blown the flowers away.  Dollar Tree sells a nice grouping of flowers for a buck.  So, for four dollars a grave, I've been able to keep them supplied and looking somewhat better than I originally found them.  And, if a storm or thief happens to take them away, replacement is fairly inexpensive.  Oh, and Dollar Tree Stores have the old snack food "Bugles" for only a dollar a bag.  Just don't tip over the jar of salsa between your legs while you're driving.

4)  Arby's Market Fresh Turkey/Bacon/Ranch Sandwiches.
 This has become a staple for my return trips home.  It's fairly easy to eat while traveling two-lane backroads that are light on traffic, very filling, and you don't have the weary feeling you get from the greaseburgers and fries other fast food joints offer, although the red onion may make you burp a few times (or fart, if you so desire and are alone in the car).  Add a large Diet Mountain Dew and you're good for 200 miles or more!  

5)  Local College Magnets.  If you're going to be traveling out of state often, stop and purchase a set of local college magnets to put on the back of your car.  That way, the police (that are looking for out of state drivers to give speeding tickets to) will give you a break thinking you live in-state most of the time!  Just make sure you take them off of your car before entering your own state, especially if there's a major basketball or football rivalry between the populace!  Oh, and if in either Indiana or Kentucky, remember, Duke magnets are not allowed as substitutes!

6)  Speedway Gas Stations.  Normally, I'm a Shell Station man.  However, I've found that Speedway has the best restrooms of any of the quickie gas stops.  Generally, they achieve almost a "clean" rating, which is rare for a gas station.  (Most will gag you with the smell as you open the door.)  In addition, gas is usually cheaper than at other hometown stations, and the drinks are priced properly.  Stay away from their five hour old pizza, though, as it will not mix well with the Market Fresh Sandwich and you'll be forced to drive with your windows open even in a rainstorm.

7)  Relatives.  Some are good and some are bad.  I have a few that are worth everything to me, and others that, like myself, left the hometown and don't have much to do with those that stayed.  Since the problems started at home, I've found that those that remained are more apt to come to your assistance than the others.  They maintained the "family" philosophy, instead of allowing society to taint their mentality with thoughts of only "what's in it for me."  I treasure those that have been there for me and my father and only wish the others could appreciate what we once had can still be there.  It only takes a little effort.  Oh well, the longer they stay away the fewer Christmas present obligations there are!

8)  Hometowns.  I grew up in Spencer and moved to Bloomington for college (before and after the military).  I knew most of the streets, the locations of all the businesses, and many of the people.  That was over thirty years ago.  Things change.  Still, the basics of these two municipalities have remained almost the same.  It's like a trip into my youth to walk the streets on which I roamed.  No, my old grocery store employer has been torn down, and the drive-in restaurants have been replaced with McDonald's and a real estate office, but the memories are stronger with each visit.  And, thank God the judge that swore he'd throw me in jail if I was ever caught with any drug is dead and gone!  Whatta dumbass!

9)  Passing Lanes.  Two lane highways are a relaxing way to travel, but can be frustrating as well.  There's nothing like getting behind a car or old pick-up truck doing 35 in a 55 zone.  Luckily, passing lanes save one's sanity when all the passing zones have proved fruitless due to oncoming traffic.  Unfortunately, there are just not enough of them.  However, I've learned that attempting to make your own in the side grass off the road is dangerous and may contain cement drainage ditches, so be patient.

10)  Home.  As Dorothy repeated over and over in "The Wizard Of Oz", "There's no place like home, there's no place like home ..."Toto!  Quit humping my leg!" 

Although financial woes, a tired wife, and two bitchy cats await me, there's nothing like pulling into my driveway, shutting off the road weary Mazda CX-3, and walking into my own home.  I just wish I could spend more time there, as everyone does.  Perhaps, one day ...  

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

That's going to do it for Ten Things Of Thankful.  I honestly don't know when I'll be returning as there are other things that are more of a priority at this time. 

 I do wish to thank all that have visited here over the past few years, and especially each and every one of you that have commented. I've cherished each and every word you've shared with me.

This isn't the end, but only a long break.  However, if the writing bug hits me and the humor finally returns, I'll let you know.  

Until then,