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Complicated Families

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  • Complicated Families

    Since 1999, when I joined the CoTH forums, I have come to appreciate the support of many posters here, some through "virtual" correspondence and, fortunately for me, a great many in real life.

    Naturally along the way, there have been a few revelations, the cream rises to the top and the dross is discarded.

    I have always greatly appreciated my few close friends and am happy to say that my life has been enriched by interaction with so many like minded people here and on other forums.

    As I grow older, I seem to be finding a richness and appreciation for what is truly meaningful. As a horse crazy child, I read books passed on to me by my mother, was gifted with "up/down" lessons for my birthday when my father was working two jobs, I was "enabled" by my father to buy my first pony at the Chincoteague Pony Penning.

    Over the years, I've had many horses, been through several relationships, raised a child of my own and raised a couple of wonderful thoroughbreds. I've managed to work for the same company for almost 25 years with great co-workers and a fabulous staff.

    I've come to the forums to share my joys and my disappointments, my concerns and my losses and to share day to day living and plans for the future.

    This far into life, I pretty much thought that major changes were behind me.


    Right before Thanksgiving of 2011, the elderly gentleman who had been my mothers companion had a relapse of thyroid cancer which exams showed had riddled his body. His brain, lungs and lymph nodes were affected and his family took him home for hospice care until he passed away the day after New Year.

    As my mother is not able to live alone, my sister and her family, along with Mr. Wings and myself, have rotated caring for mom which has meant an incredible upheaval in all of our lives.

    Fortunately for all of us, we live within 20 minutes of our mother's home (where I grew up and kept my first horses). We looked into services which would provide a daily companion for our mother but the ones we researched seemed to cost as much as mom's monthly income and we didn't want her to have to leave her house and move to assisted living, away from all that was familiar to her, for as long as we could prevent it.

    I moved in to mom's house along with our little Gretta pup to take the afternoon/overnight shift. Mr. Wings, having concluded that the business of Pawn Shop King was not a stable career choice, was waiting for a start date working for Arlington County. He agreed to stay with mom during the day while I was at work. He stayed at our house, got up at 4:45 am so he could feed our horses and arrive at Mom's in time for me to go to my office.

    This meant my sister, who worked part time for another county, said that she'd resign from her job as soon as Mr. Wings started his new job so she could be with mom during the day.

    This change finally occurred and we are now balancing our enlarged family needs around three homes, the horses at yet another address, and a cycle of family meals.

    I am, at my "advanced" age, appreciating yet again what my mother has done for me throughout my life. She was there the April morning in 1998 when Wings was born. She was at my side within half an hour of the horrible experience of euthanizing my mare leaving me with Little Orphan Maddie to raise. She went to the barn with me when I had to leave the Winglet's high school honors presentation early because my filly needed her bottle feeding. She shared her feelings with my sisters and me when she was in the position of providing care for her own mother, something that is incredibly comforting now that we are in the same situation.

    It has become familiar to local Cothers to see our entourage at various horse activities in the past few months. Just one more adjustment in our routine, we manage to enjoy the horses, visit our friends and snack ourselves through equine activities not too differently than we were accustomed to in the past. Of course, if one never breaks their youngsters, much less goes out the driveway, one would miss out on the sort of enjoyable activities that are so dear to me.

    Mr. Wings, Trixie, mom, and I hauled out to Morningside Training Farm to meet Elghund and play on the lovely cross country course there. Mom had a wonderful time watching the riders, enjoying the gorgeous view and snacking on fruit, crackers and brie.

    Mom came along with the three of us to Sonya Crampton's recent jumping clinic out in Bluemont, where we had a great time catching up with Moesha and several other CotTHers. She also enjoyed a cross the Potomac trip to Accokeek where Mr. Wings kept her company while Trixie rode her new pony and I took a ride on a friend's chestnut jumper in the indoor.

    My days are full, I get up at 5:30, get mom up and dressed, take her to my sister, Auntie Pat's, then go feed before heading to work where I change into "office" clothes in the ladies room and settle in to my "normal" day. After work, I collect mom, we run a few errands and then head back to her house to play with Gretta pup, make dinner and read for a while. Most days Mr. Wings joins us, either for dinner before going to the barn to feed or on his way back to our house after taking care of the horses. I get mom ready for bed and hit the sack by 9:00.

    In a way, it is flashback to my childhood. No computer/internet access other than the 6 hours that I'm at work. That's how I missed out on what I have been told was some rather bizarrely incessant questioning late yesterday re: the status of my husband. Why anyone would care, I do not know but it was rather stalker-creepy in a way until one considered the source. Anyone who would argue Indian cooking with someone who spent years living in India or the quality of tortillas with someone who lives within eyesight of Mexico isn't playing with a full deck!

    Oh, I almost left out another complication in our daily lives - Trixie's pet chickens! She currently has six at our barn, all out on strike for the season. Of course, they are part of the twice daily chores that need to be tended to along with mom watch.

    I hope these links work, they go to a now almost defunct board but it would save me a lot of typing if they do.

    More Adventures with Camouflage Chicken

    Another thing I forgot, along with the pleasure and contentment of being in the home my parents built and enjoying the things my father accomplished before his early death, is the garden in the backyard. Dad took great pride in his vegetable garden and it must be from him that I got the itch to plant. For several years now, Trixie and I have been growing a garden at our barn, first with great success in straw bales and update last season to include self watering containers. We've already got a more convenient compost pile going between the garden and her chicken coops where the fresh manure from Pockets' pony's paddock gets piled on top of old bedding from the chicken houses. We anticipate a great harvest this year! I can't wait to incorporate a goodly amount of our well composted horse manure to my dad's garden beds. We canned and froze so much produce the past couple of years that Trixie gave me a food dehydrator for a combined birthday and Christmas present last holiday season. (I got her a shadbelly that fits her like it was custom made - you all MAKE HER MODEL it for photos! )

    Even Trixie's chickie-ladies got into the gardening groove.

    First you plant the seeds...

    Mr. Wings and how Trixie got a chicken

    Annual hilarity

    In 2011, Trixie, Mr. Wings and I grew 9 different kinds of potatoes in old woven mesh beet pulp bags. I am reminded that it is time to order seed potatoes once again.

    It's a great way to reuse feed sacks and to get a return on your composted manure (it's also the easiest non-digging gardening ever!).

    Here's a "how to" article on growing potatoes in bags. Harvesting is super easy, dump the bag into a wheel barrow, pick out the potatoes, dump the wheelbarrow on the manure pile!

    Life is full circle. I am glad to be able to do things with and for my mom, the person who did more for me than I can ever begin to repay. I about break down and cry when she hugs me and says "I would help you with your horses" and "I have wonderful daughters".

    I am fortunate, mom is highly portable and enjoys going along with us. I would miss out on so much by staying inside, huddled around the computer and railing at my fate. What a waste!

    I am incredibly grateful for my husband, family and friends, who are helpful and kind and supportive. If any of you are in a similar circumstance, you know that there are days of frustration, just think back to what we must have put them through all those years ago.
    Last edited by Everythingbutwings; Feb. 1, 2012, 01:54 PM. Reason: To add more love
    "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."

  • #2
    Thank you for the update!

    I always enjoy reading about your life (you are so creative), and I send prayers and good wishes to you and your family


    • Original Poster

      This is mom at the jumping clinic. It really wasn't that cold out, a rather balmy 50 but there was a breeze and we were in the shadow of the mountain ridge out near Trappe.


      She loves riding in the Big Red Truck (as does Gretta pup!) and viewing the countryside. We took her on a road trip right after Thanksgiving out past Culpeper. We stopped in Catlett and got some lovely cuts of meat from Wilson Brother's meat and then continued on to Syria and got some cheddar cheese from the store near Graves Mountain. We then finished up with dinner at Thai Culpeper. their roast duck with crispy noodles is awesome and mom loved it.
      "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."


      • #4
        My short attention span kicked in but, I do say, you have a way with words! I enjoyed reading it!
        GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


        • #5
          All of us at my work are of a certain age and have ailing parents - we are each having to deal with it in our own ways but it is always good to hear from someone else and I'm so glad your mom is able to be out and about with you all. She is probably as happy as she has ever been and I am very glad! Thanks for sharing.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            Very nice to hear such an update! Thank you for sharing.


            • #7
              ETBW, some people really DO need to get out more. YOU, my dear, are not one of them. I miss seeing you guys come over to the "old" barn, but you know, there's just only so much bat$%*t crazy that I can handle and that place is chock full of it. We shall all have to plan an adventure some weekend to meet up. And of course, I am always forever thankful to you and Trixie regarding the support you have shown to me and the Hamstar regarding his shoddy former trainer. I think the world of you, Trixie, Mr. Wings, and your mom...even though I haven't met her yet!
              "I was not expecting the park rangers to lead the resistance, none of the dystopian novels I read prepared me for this but cool."


              • #8
                You are a very rich woman indeed and mightily blessed.
                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                • #9
                  Wings - I miss you, and the (g)olden days of the BB. Its so nice to read your update and sorry I didn't make it to the clinic - it sounded like so much fun!

                  We should have a get together at one of the shows this year!


                  • #10
                    Sounds like your Mom and Dad raised you right.

                    It's so sad about her companion - but it sounds as if her days, and life, are full and happy. Yours too.

                    Glad she can age in place and that she's able to do things with you.

                    My chickens are on strike too. I threaten them with a big pot and my chicken and dumplings recipe. Tell Trixie not to bother with that - it doesn't work.

                    1999 - gosh sometimes I forget how long this BB has been around. I first joined in 2000 sometime. What a long, strange trip it's been.

                    Originally posted by Everythingbutwings View Post
                    Life is full circle. I am glad to be able to do things with and for my mom, the person who did more for me than I can ever begin to repay. I about break down and cry when she hugs me and says "I would help you with your horses" and "I have wonderful daughters".
                    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                    -Rudyard Kipling


                    • #11
                      It's so wonderful, and these days so unusual for someone like your mom to have a loving, supportive family. I think the true test of family loyalty is to see how everyone copes when there is a need to help, and you all have passed with flying colors. I wish everyone could have the support and friendship that all of you have, and hope you all will have many more wonderful adventures together. It's so great to see a family pull together for the welfare of each other.

                      Don't let the internet bullies bother you, I think many people like that are (as another poster put it so well) "Flaming Nutballs" and I personally think many people like that are just jealous of what others have and they never will.
                      You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                      • #12
                        I have always enjoyed reading your posts, ETBW. Sounds like you have a full plate there, but are making the best and appreciating every day. As you should!


                        • #13
                          And yet, you have time, and heart, enough to offer your help to me and to my Aunt. Bless you, ETBW, you are one in a million.
                          If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
                          Desmond Tutu


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Louise View Post
                            And yet, you have time, and heart, enough to offer your help to me and to my Aunt. Bless you, ETBW, you are one in a million.
                            No, Louise, I'm just lucky in that we all live so close to each other and can be supportive for each other. Auntie Pat mentioned that, a hundred years ago, when it was more common for several generations of a family to live together, our mom would just be that ditsy relative who wandered happily from room to room.

                            There would have been family there to be company and keep her from harm and see to her comfort.

                            I'm looking forward to this spring. The Winglet (her oldest grandson) lives near Unionville, Pa and Trixie has a CANTER auction donated lesson with Bruce Davidson to schedule. That will be a marvelous outing for mom as we are planning to make it an overnight jaunt so it won't be such a hard trip going up and back with the horse the same day.
                            "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."


                            • Original Poster

                              see u at x -
                              We shall all have to plan an adventure some weekend to meet up.
                              Want to come to London with us to take in the Olympics? Mom and I were watching television yesterday and saw a promo for the London Games. I mentioned that the climate would be so much better for the horses than the Seoul Olympics and mom, very seriously, asked if I wanted to go and said "Let's go then!"

                              Last week, we were going to Oregon. You know, the planning is rather fun.
                              "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."