The Story Of Vera And Her Family, Chapter 26

20 12 2008

Perhaps the biggest adjustment that my niece and I had was over safety issues for her baby daughter, April.  My two dogs were not used to children.  Lucy was a chow mix and had no tolerance for children.  Sugar was a beagle mix and she would growl at April.  I wasn’t about to get rid of my dogs that had been a part of our lives since l990.  April had a playpen–so I insisted that April be put in the play pen unless Jean was free to watch her around the dogs.  This idea did not go over well with Jean.  She told me that April was not used to being in a playpen.  I realized that I had made a big mistake in not talking over the dog issue before Jean even bought a ticket to come to our home.  It was an issue that tried my patience sorely. 

I had to be at work at 7:30 a.m. each morning.  There was no one in the house to check to see if Jean was following my rule about the playpen.  I prayed about their safety each morning as I left our home.  On weekends, I did have the opportunity to make sure that the playpen rule was followed.   Jean was fond of putting April in her high chair while she cooked.  I was not happy about that at all because I knew the playpen could be moved around our home.

The friction just never ended in my relationship with Jean.  We had different views about cooking.  Jean liked to cook and her skills of cooking were marvelous. However, she didn’t like to clean up after herself instantly.  I had the view that when one cooked–clean up was an instant thing.  I didn’t like pots and pans in my sink.  I didn’t like anykind of mess in my kitchen.  We also differed greatly in our choices of meals to be cooked.  I really didn’t like Jean using my portable dishwasher.  It had a flaw of not releasing the final rinse water.  I had to turn the dishwasher off and fidget with it to be able to release the water.  She misunderstood me and thought I was just being a snob.  I just knew that I was the only one who knew how to deal with the dishwasher problem.

Meanwhile, the stress level was rising with the lady that I worked for.  She had just moved into a retirement village.  It was a very different culture for Mrs. T.  This retirement village was made up of well to do people who liked to socialize.  Many of the families had been social with each other long before they moved into the village.  Mrs. T , although well to do, had been a blue collar worker all of her life.  Her entrance into this retirement village was mainly because her wealthy daughter paid for this retirement home.  Mrs. T’s home was on the market and that money would be given to her daughter.  However, Mrs. T got to move right away even before her home sold.  Mrs. T had been  friends with a group of women who had had jobs like she had had.  They had a similar understand ing with each other.  In fact, one of my jobs was to take Mrs. T to eat breakfast at a certain restaurant each Friday morning with these lady friends. She was completely out of her culture in the retirement village.  Each day over our cup of coffee and snack she would tell me that she just couldn’t make friends at the village.  My heart ached for her.

The village offered bus trips to do fun things.  They also had a potluck the first of each month.  Mrs. T would have nothing to do with any of those events.  And her dog was another problem.  Even though she was allowed to have her dog–everyone around was afraid of Bonnie.  I walked Bonnie around the village but I had to keep a close guard over her because she would try to lunge at others trying to walk along the same pathway.  There was plenty of gossip about Mrs. T’s dog.  And one time when I was not there–Mrs. T attempted to take her dog out.  Bonnie bit the hand of someone and Mrs. T had to pay for the doctor’s visit.  The directors of the village insisted that Bonnie could no longer go for walks without having a harness around her face.  We looked all over town for a harness for Bonnie.  It seemed useless.  We were having no luck.  Finally, we found something but it was almost impossible to put it on Bonnie.  It was like a wrestling match and I was the one chosen to do the wrestling.  Finally, Mrs. T got permission for me to walk the dog without the harness.  However, she never attempted to take the dog out ever again.

I felt sorry for Bonnie because she had been used to having her backyard to play in.  Now she was limited to walks only when I was there.  Mrs. T developed a system of putting down plastic and throw rugs for Bonnie to use the bathroom.  She was constantly washing these throw rugs.  However, that was the way it was going to be.  I tried never to give my opinion because it only caused Mrs. T to become irritated with me.  I did like Mrs. T and all in all–it was a good job for me.  It just wasn’t fun to go home and find out what Jean and April had been doing all morning.

I had welcomed Jean and April with open arms but I found that I was not a patient person at all.  I was disappointed in myself.  Why couldn’t I just overlook things?  Well, there were safety issues for one –that always haunted me.  Then there were issues with laundry.  Jean washed a great deal for just two people.  My water bill sored to almost a $100.00 one month.  Then if we had forgotten something at the store she would expect us to go get it—immediately.

To be fair to Jean–we did had some great talks and we laughed a great deal together.  The tension was mounting between taking care of Mrs. T and having Jean and April in our home.  I was failing as a person.  I didn’t like the horrible character traits that I was seeing in myself.  And it wasn’t going to get much better.

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