Archive for family

We all fall down

Posted in family, health with tags , , on January 7, 2020 by jefferyrn

Smart home gadgets are all the rage.  I am little late to the party, but Alexa has finally joined our house hold.  I have an Echo Show and some smart outlets.  You can rename Alexa but there are only a few choices.  We call her Echo. So now I can turn lights on and off with a voice command or on my phone app or I can put them on a schedule.  I can call my mother through the Echo Show and we can see each other.  I bought her and Echo Spot, a smaller version of the Show.  But mom doesn’t like to use it.  She is 83.  

I got it for her because she lives alone now.  I thought she would like asking it questions, she doesn’t.  But more importantly I wanted it to be able to call 911 in an emergency. In theory this was a good idea.  If she falls, Echo can call the paramedics.

Well, we put it to the test right before Christmas.  Mom fell and broke her pelvis.  But guess what?  She wasn’t home, so Echo couldn’t hear her cry for help.  Luckily, the store manager came out to the parking lot.  She had tripped over one of those cement parking bars that are supposed to prevent you from pulling up too far.  Small town have their advantages.  People came to her rescue.  Someone gave her a pillow, someone called 911, the manager took her groceries back into the store and held them for her in the frig or freezer, whatever was required.  And they didn’t have her car towed. Amazing!

She had to stay in a nursing home until last Saturday.  Now my nephew’s girl friend is staying with her until she can fend for herself again.  People not gadgets come to the rescue.  I am afraid though when I am that age I may need gadgets or robots or something to save me.  Or maybe my great-grandson?

A brighter new year ahead

Posted in death, family with tags , on January 7, 2020 by jefferyrn

I have been quiet.  I think of blogging but there are so many things happening that are taking control of my life right now.  I am happy that we are starting a new year and a new decade.  I want to leave the last one behind.

 The biggest thing from 2019 was my father’s death.  The biggest thing on the upside was our 20th anniversary.  We went to Hawaii.  These two events were 5 days apart.  Our anniversary was May 5th and my father died on May 1st.  Seven months have passed and it is still unreal to me.

This year is already better.  We just came back from celebrating my great-grandson’s 1st birthday. He is so adorable.  They do this thing called a “Smash Cake”.  (We were lucky to even have a cake.)  Anyway, you get this little cake that looks similar to the actual cake and you put the kid in front of it and let them go to town.  He wasn’t really into it.  He pulled the dinosaur off and licked some frosting of his fingers and that was about it.  I have heard and seen videos of other kids making a holy mess of it all.

He is not my blood relation but I claim him anyway.  People think he looks like me.  Maybe just being there has rubbed off somehow.  Who really knows how things work?  Science is changing all the time.

Being a great-grandpa is fun.  You don’t have to do anything but play.

I could enumerated the horrors of 2019 here, but I am ready to move on.  Happy 2020 everyone.


Posted in death, family with tags , on May 4, 2019 by jefferyrn

My husband Rick wrote this post:

On Wednesday May 1st ‘2019 my father-in-law/ “dad”, passed on. He was the most honest and sincere man I have ever known.

He was kind and loving and to everyone. Not just to his family and close friends but to total strangers. He was never judgmental and accepted everyone equally with love and compassion. Jim was one of those rare men that walked the walk of his faith. His deeds and his actions spoke volumes as to his beliefs and devotion. He truly lived by the golden rule; treat others as you wish to be treated. Jim set the bar pretty high. We should all strive to live by his example.

You will always be in our hearts. I will miss you. See you on the other side. Love you Jim.


Posted in family with tags on January 11, 2019 by jefferyrn

I am going to see my great grandson today. He was born on New Year’s Day. I know everyone thinks their grandchildren are the cutest, brightest, etc. I can be impartial and say that mine looks like family. I see my granddaughter in his face. So far this is only from pictures. The very idea that somehow he is an extension of our family makes me smile.

When a look at what is happening in the world right now I wonder if this is the right time to bring new life. Here is a 17 year old young woman who is raising a son on her own. But as any parent will tell you there is no perfect time to have a child. She loves him with all her heart.

He is a product of today’s world. His father is Hispanic and thanks to 23andMe my granddaughter found out that one of her grandparents is Hispanic as well.

It is so contradictory to the messages coming from our government about boarder security. He poses no threat. He is not a criminal’s son. He is not an illegal immigrant. He is a middle class American baby of mixed ancestry just like all of us. And yet he may grow up and face some of these prejudices. We do need a wall. We need one around the government to keep us safe from them.

I don’t want to get too political. I know these things will resolve one way or another. I have done my part to vote and voice my opinion. This should be a joyous occasion of new beginnings and that is exactly how I intend to treat it.

Ok, so I will indulge myself by posting a picture of the cutest baby ever. 😉

Remember me?

Posted in death, family with tags , on December 6, 2018 by jefferyrn

In recent days the thought of death and funerals had been pervasive. President Bush’s funeral has been monopolizing the air waves, and rightly so. It has also got me thinking about my own mortality. First of all I thought Bush’s son did an excellent job eulogizing his father. But then I think who will write my eulogy? Have I made a difference? Will anyone remember me?

My family will most likely all be dead before me as I am the youngest and have no children of my own. My nephew may out live me, but I have not been a part of his life since he was 10 years old and we still all lived in the same city. I have a stepson and two granddaughters, but will they remember me? Rick is 11 years older than me. He will most likely go first. Once he passes I don’t think his family will even stay in touch. I would like to think they would because I have been a part of their lives at least for the last 20 years. But the reality is that their connection to me is strictly though Rick.

So if there is no family to remember me, what about friends? I have a few friends that would remember me today, but after I retire, those work friends will drift away. We have a saying here that 10 days after you are gone nobody will remember what you did. Everyone is replaceable.

My only hope is to start making a difference in people’s lives outside my family on a personal level. I will have a lot of time on my hands after I retire so this may be doable. Maybe I need to start now.

In recent years, family gathering for the holidays have shifted focus. My stepson has a new wife and a whole other family that lives in town with him. It seems spending time with him is more of an inconvenience and a duty to his father than a joy. Of course, Rick would disagree with me, but I see his disappointment when plans are changed that don’t include him anymore. I want to call my stepson and tell him what he has done to hurt his father, but that is not my place. They are adults and can work things out for themselves.

What do I want to be remembered for? Aah there is the rub, maybe there is no reason to remember me at all.

Maybe, I will start writing again. Maybe I can have an influence on people’s lives that way. If describing my experiences could comfort just one person that would be a win for me. If I could help change the perception of what a gay man is and how he lives his life that would be amazing.

My problem is I am a self-defeatist. I think of things to say and then I read someone else’s take on it and decide it has already been done. Who wants to hear from me? This blog is an effort to force myself to put my thoughts into words. I don’t want to be remember for writing a great post. I want to be remember for changing someone’s life. I want to make a difference.

Growing pains

Posted in family, health, love with tags on December 3, 2018 by jefferyrn

Growing older means your parents are much older too. While this might be stating the obvious, it is not always our perception of the situation. My parents see me as their baby boy, and I intern see them as the protectors that will always be there for me. Until a reality check happens like the one I had this weekend.

My father called me. I didn’t immediately answer the phone. Seem rude I know but it is easier for me to read his voicemail messages (transcript by Google which has its own set of problems). The transcript takes out all the hesitation and panic in his voice and leaves me with the facts. It is sort of a buffer for me and my emotional response. Plus I know if there were a true emergency the call would be coming from my mother or my sister. I live too far away to be the first responder.

Anyway, such a call came in on Sunday. I ignored it and waited for the voicemail. He was having problems with his computer again. Let me preface this by saying we have installed an app on his computer that allows me to remote in and see what is actually going on. It is a godsend for me assuming the computer still boots up and he can launch the app on his end.

I read the transcript: “Hi, Jeff. Hey, I’m having all kinds of….”. The message cuts off. He often has trouble with his cell phone and either doesn’t hang up or hangs up too soon. But that’s another story. So now I have to listen to the message since it drifted off and could not be translated completely. I can hear enough of it to know it is his computer he is talking about.

Let me also explain that my father is very hard of hearing and has very bad eyesight. So I know to call him back on the house phone, not his cell. Yes old people still have land lines. He can hear me better on the land line because the phone has amplification.

Also I should note that his computer monitor is actually a 30 inch flat screen TV that he uses on the highest magnification possible (800 x 600) and sits right on top of it. If you don’t know much about resolution on monitors this means there is very little real estate and it requires a lot of scrolling around to see everything on the screen. For example, his home page which is Yahoo only displays the banner and some adds without scrolling down or across. Imagine this on a 30 inch screen and you get the picture. Plus he is using the zoom at 175% in windows explorer which he refers to as the E.

Now with that background let’s get into the story I started to tell. I get home and in front of my computer ready to remote his computer. Then I call him back. You may ask why I wait till I am in front of the computer. The answer is simple. He lives in his office chair and assumes I do too. I put him on speaker and he describes his problem, immediately rattling off a passcode for me to connect over. This is an ordeal of its own. He can’t seem to read the passcode and it takes several attempts for me to get connected. Sometimes mom has to read it to me. Let me also fill you in on that situation. He is calling me because mom has had enough and refuses to come in and work with him anymore that day. I can hear him calling, “NORMA…..LEEVI….”. If he adds that I am on the phone she will respond and help with the passcode.

So the problem according to dad is that the shutdown button has been replace by a “START” button and he doesn’t want that, he wants to shut it down. This is the part where I swallow and realize what he is actually telling me. Someone has changed the theme on the computer to one that has a Start button in the lower left hand corner. He used to know what this was but not anymore. So sad. I click on the Start button and show him that the shutdown is under it, but he still can see it. The color scheme has made it invisible to him.
I switch the theme back to Windows 7 default (God help me if I ever have to teach him windows 10). Of course then his “favorite” background is gone so I restore that from his photo album. Now when I click on the windows ball in the left bottom corner of the screen he can see the shutdown button. Problem solved.

So here is the deal. We went through this same scenario a few days ago. How it reverted back is beyond me. And that time he had somehow turned off all of the desktop Icons. It’s a view feature that until he did it I had never realized was there before.

I love my father and would do anything to help him. Rick says you need to call and fix your father. I say if only I could. This man was a rocket engineer and chief scientist in his day. He taught me about computers before they were even a thing. He got me my first job in Aerospace which was around the time IBM created the first PC. I learned from the beginning. It was and is something my father and I shared. The realization I had after that phone call is that he is drifting away and even as I write this I am beginning to cry.

Future not so big after all

Posted in family, health, weight loss with tags , , on May 21, 2018 by jefferyrn

Sometimes we only see what we want to see. I look in the mirror and I see the same old guy looking back at me that I see every morning of my life. I get away from the mirror and I think of myself as a young attractive man. Then I try to get up from a chair or out of a car without groaning and I realize I am still the old guy in the mirror. You are only as old as you feel and sometimes I feel pretty damn old.

I have a lot of positive things happening in my life right now. My granddaughter graduated from Community College. (Despite the fact the Trump says they don’t exist.) We went out to dinner to celebrate and her mother, step mother, and father were all at the same table sharing memories and being civil. Of course, a few glasses of wine, and tequila shots help the situation immensely. I was proud of our granddaughter for achieving her goals. I was impressed by my son and daughter-in-law for make this about her and not them for a change. Conversations and texts before the ceremony would have predicted a blood bath, but we were all sensible adults and has a lovely evening. Our son even picked up the check for everyone, including his ex-wife. Again we see what we want to see. If only for that night I saw a proud family coming together in support of each other and especially our granddaughter.

Back to that old man in the mirror, he is changing too. I have been watching what I eat and taking all my medications, going to the gym. That man in the mirror is getting smaller. My glucose is finally under control and I feel much better. I have achieved some small goals of my own.

I can now wear a 2X down from a 3X t-shirt. And the most amazing thing, I fit into a booth. I used to always have to request a table with a chair. This often meant waiting in line longer or getting put out in the aisle by myself in a chair at the end of a booth. Oh the shame of it all. One hostess used to tell me to just ask for a table for “fluffy people”. She meant to be kind but somehow it was not really much more than an insult.

I had previously reached goal of being able to lower the tray on an airplane. My next goal is to be able to look down and see something besides a belly. It’s happening. I am making great progress. I sometime look in the mirror and see the future and it is big bold and beautiful, well maybe not so big.