Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

When Your Head is Made of Wood

A head made of wood makes it difficult to move through your days.

I can remember in my wooden brain that I used to be a fully functioning person.

At the moment, I can only let the wood turn back into flesh for a few minutes at a time. Because when I do, I lose the numbness that has become my new pal.

This stuff, like a cartoon anvil, seemed to land all at once.

I went back to Indiana to see Mom and Dad. I knew that Dad had "gone downhill" as they say. And then I saw him in person.

[See what I've written so far? That took a very long time. Because I've gone all log-headed again and that takes my verbal skills down to the level of a Mississippi SAT score.]

I'll try again.

My dad can now barely get around, even with a walker. He is very, very feeble. My mom and sister and I watch him struggle from the living room to the bedroom. One of us helps him hold onto his walker, and the other two watch him as though we are witnessing a murder. We cannot believe this is happening right in front of us.

When he and my mom are in their double recliner, they hold hands and she looks at him in a way that I am not talented enough to describe. But I can tell you that it slices me up.

We have to put him in a nursing home. Sometime in the next couple of weeks. There is heartbreak all around.

I couldn't decide whether or not to blog about this. But there is nothing else I can write about right now. I'm not completely sure I can write about this.

So be warned. If you come here regularly, Candy Rant may turn into something you would rather not read. It's OK. My only motive is to write to stay afloat. And to see if I can tell the hardest truths. A little at a time.


  • At 10:10 PM, Blogger E. said…

    I'm so sorry to hear your dad is declining. The image of your folks holding hands in their double recliner is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I can just imagine the look she's giving him.

    My grandparents, so vital and wonderful 'til pretty near the end, went downhill fast a few years back, soon after my son was born. It was so hard. I feel for you. It's the best possible end, right? To live to be old with the person you love, and family there to be with you. But it's still so hard.

  • At 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well. I will come back here regularly because... despite previous snotty, totally f'ed up behavior (read: how it seemed) I totally love you.

    Nothing is expected of you other than you be exactly who you are and say what you feel like saying when you feel like saying it.

    ... it could be worse, you know (your log-headed-ness...) it could be a Mesa Public Schools SAT score.

    I have to tell you, my mom has been reading your blog. My grandmother is only 1/4 ounce shy of the castor oil affair of Mrs. F and there has been great conflict and heartache in "what to do". Ironically, reading your blog has given my mom a 'lighter' side and a reality check into the whole situation she faces these days - and quote:

    "I have just completed the chronicles of Ms. Fossilfuel, it was hilarious, this girl is a great writer. I like to think I have great compassion but I just don't think I could do that job:) Her kindness and spirit shine between the lines and her sense of humor make the pain less painful".


    You are loved and remember to be easy on yourself while you are soothing your sweet parents.

    You can do this.

  • At 5:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, I am so sorry.

    (Kel - Carin's bud)

  • At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry Candy. I hope you do keep writing about it, not just because it might help you but because soon everyone will be going through some version of this with their parents. You know us Boomers--we always do things together.

  • At 8:43 AM, Blogger Lisa Dunick said…

    Oh- I'm so sorry. I hope that the writing helps you get through this, though.

  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger EB said…


    This is when I miss 315 the most. Because if we were still there, we'd have a real back-and-forth conversation about this. . .
    and I'd tell you how I felt when this happened
    and you'd tell me how impossible this is
    and I'd tell you that you're right. You're so right.

    But then
    I'd remind you
    that impossible things happen to us all the time
    that we've lived through the impossible so many times
    that you actually are strong enough to do this and to do it with your usual, amazing flair
    and that you don't have to be because part of doing honor to your parents and their incredible, timeless love is feeling shattered at this.

    And then I'd cry, and I'd probably blow snot bubbles because you'd make me laugh at an inopportune moment with some funny and completely inappropriate (but perfectly appropriate) comment from your mom.

    But since we don't have 315 right now, I'll just tell you that if my noodly arms were long enough to reach you in the desert, I'd give you a big, nasty, too-familiar hug right now.

  • At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your head may be wooden these days but your heart is still made of gold. I can see that you are very much loved by those who know you.

    I'm very sure that if you continue to blog you will be articulating the feelings and frustrations of those people in your readership who are going through, or have gone through, similar circumstances.

    By strange coincidence, I was watching a program about this very subject on PBS from Detroit last night. It was about caring for aging parents and the stories told confirmed what noncluttergirl is saying in her comment today. Look at

    I think, for me, the most horrifying thing about this issue is that those of us who make it that far in life are all going to be old, perhaps infirm, and will need similar care. I try to find something humourous about that but can't. I just hope I have someone as obvioulsy caring and loving as you to look after me.

    I wonder if I will be the same sort of dirty old bastard that I am now. . . .

  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you for the comments. They do help.

    E., yep, it's the best possible ending to a life, and still horrific. Odd design, isn't it?

    Anonymous, thanks for the late night conversation. Reconciliation is good.

    Kel, thanks for being here.

    nonclutter, it's so true about the Boomers. We need to take over everything NOW so the Gen Y kids won't mistreat us.

    Thanks, LD.

    EB, you have no idea how much our old office would help right now. When one of us got there with bad news, it was like the Instant Safe Zone. I thought of you many times when I was in Indiana, remembering your back and forth trips to your dad when this was happening to you.
    That comment almost made me zap back into 315.

    Banjo, I watched half of that show last night. It was SO familiar. Going to tape it when it comes on again. I sent the link to my siblings. Thanks for sending it.

  • At 11:49 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    P.S. to Banjo,

    Yeah. I have this surreal feeling that I should be screaming "LOOK! LOOK how this shit ends! We have to fix this!"

    Talk about existential angst.

  • At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm a mother, I want what's best for my children. So does your dad. What would your dad tell you to do? I think that he'd tell you to squint so it's all a little less clear. A little more blurry. That he'd tell you to take a couple of hours in the morning and in the afternoon to forget that you're sick with grief and rage and helplessness and to enjoy the ones who are near you. I think he'd remind you that his life with his sweetheart has been good and that he wants you to think of that more clearly than this moment. Because this moment isn't good. It's not his best. But this moment isn't all you have, either. He spent years making good memories for you for such a time as this. Don't print these moments on your heart with the same weight that you give the memories of his vitality. This is less him than what you have in your heart. Care for him with all you've got. And squint a little. Blur the edges.

  • At 12:37 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Wow, Ana. I'm sending that to my mom. Thank you. Oh, and thank you.

  • At 7:45 AM, Blogger Dana said…

    Candy, you just continue to write whatever the hell you want. I cannot speak for anyone else, but I love the fact that you do just that.

    I am praying for you & your father and mother, this decision is heartbreaking. No two ways about it.

  • At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You could write about twigs and it would be amazing.
    I am sure this is good 'therapy'

    Your parents love story is kind of remarkable -

    I hope you are hanging in there.


  • At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can't possibly add to anything the others have said, though I do agree that you could write about twigs and it would be mystical and reader enhancing. I love you dearly. Both of my parents are gone, but I see each of them every morning when I look in the mirror. And even though they wouldn't come when I became a Catholic, at the point in the mass when we pray for the dead, I close my eyes and pretend I hug and kiss them both, on the other side, kind of like Orpheus and his Euridice. And you know what? They kiss me back! That which does not kill us makes us stronger. And you are pumping emotional iron, dearie. And by the way. Ana is amazing...I want her as my guru. And I am trying to do a little sqinting of my own. Love you, kiddo. Anita

  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you, Dana. I know you've got some experience with this.

    Kel, thanks for the laugh. I think I'll call my book "Twigs."
    Yes, their love story is pretty intense. They definitely have a small club of two.

  • At 6:24 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Anita, that gave me chills. Loved reading it.
    I remember seeing a guy on some documentary, visiting his mother's grave, and kissing her tombstone. It hit me as really bizarre for a second, but then I got it.

  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger JBelle said…

    Tell the truths. It will help. There were many truths that I did not tell, not because I wasn't brave enough but because I wasn't strong enough. It is heavy lifting. So I hope each day has a place where you can go and find the truth and say it out loud. Build the muscle that will allow the truths out.

    The other part is that you view the reality from your side of the fog. He's on the other side. It looks completely different from there, oddly much as Ana has suggested. They don't see it as we see it. Which leads me back to your wish to be in their head if for just a minute. That terrifies me. I think already, you probably have much more courage and much more strength that you realize.

    Finally, keep cocking your head, finding those other answers that will connect with him. You will never regret a relentless pursuit of truth in all of this. And ultimately, you won't float, you'll fly.

  • At 2:42 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thanks for the encouragement, JBelle. Every day feels like heavy lifting at this point, but somehow we adjust.
    I had a great uncle who used to say "Humans can get used to anything, even smallpox."

    Your comment about Dad seeing this from the "other side" gave me a lot to think about. I try to picture things the way he does, and it truly must be terrifying.

  • At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We have a loving, caring, and relentlessly present creator. He doesn't leave us at any other time. Why would he leave your dad now? I've been watching Youtube videos about savants. Rainman and Temple what's her name the PhD with autism and musical savants. I find that I can see God's brush strokes more clearly in them and it puts a couple of pieces of the puzzle together for me.

  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger JBelle said…

    Ana, that is just amazing that you say that. My mother died from Alzheimer's as well and with her, I was completely convinced that she gained a new and superior understanding, particularly keen the two days before she left to be with Our Father. My mother gained a reaction and response to the world as her affliction progressed that she was no where near in her previous mental state. It was acute and unmistakable to me but to my brothers, I was just overwrought and overtired. She was just getting sicker and sicker.

    Your words settle in around me as pure relief. Candy, I know of what Ana speaks as the truth. See what you can notice?

  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Thank you so much, Ana and JBelle. I really do feel like I'm more focused and seeing one layer deeper than I did just a month ago. It may be just the emotional turmoil and anxiety, or the trying to find something meaningful. But I'm definitely open to whatever God wants to show me.

    Ana, I've always been fascinated with the savants. It's just too bizarre to see some wildly honed talent flow out of them when they can barely function away from it.

  • At 11:53 AM, Blogger Citlali said…

    omg, Candy, this is beyond heartbreaking. Your parents are so lucky to have you.

    What a time for that blogger alert system to crap out on me, eh? So I come by and read, "So be warned. If you come here regularly, Candy Rant may turn into something you would rather not read. It's OK." OMG. NO. This is not why I haven't been by. Shit. Those cool little emails that used to tell me "Candy posted something new" have stopped. Plus my brain is out the window with the moving and all. ok, it's out the window anyway. lol. But isn't coincidence a bitch sometimes? I know that you know I'm not gonna stop reading = ]

    Of course everyone here is right: you can do this. Lots of love and many hugs = ]

  • At 12:06 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Citlali! I know you've got a giant amount going on right now. That wasn't a scolding for anyone...just a warning that I'm mostly going to be on darker topics. Whether I want to or not.

    Thanks for coming to Rantville.

  • At 1:51 AM, Blogger Paul Mitchell said…

    Mississippians do not take the SAT, we use the ACT. Pick another cliched insult for us.

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Two dogs,
    When I was in high school in Indiana, our SAT scores were ranked 49th in the country, above only Mississippi's 50th. Yours was the only state we could make fun of.

    Anyway, please excuse me for such an unforgiveable insult while I'm watching my father die. I'll work on my priorities.


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