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2 posts from March 2011

March 24, 2011

Change Your Brain, Change Your...

Life! That's the title on one of many books unearthed during my recent trip to California to ready the home of my aunt for her return. Donna, who came into our family as my grandparents' foster child, battles a lot of demons and always has trouble making good choices. A hoarder with serious financial problems, Donna is now 79 and on medication for Alzheimer's, OCD and bi-polar disorder, among other things. Finding that book, with a bookmark less than a quarter of the way through, told me that Donna still desperately wants things to be different.

In January she fell over clutter in her bedroom at night. When firemen broke in days later to rescue her, one—overcome by the smell and the condition of the inside—said, "That woman will never go back in that house!"  But now, with rehab nearly completed on her broken shoulder, she's soon headed home. A willful and wily fighter, Donna tested well psychologically, and she'll be released by the end of this month. When social services comes to her door to see how she's doing I already know she won't let them in (I've sent them before), and it will be a matter of waiting to see what happens next to rock her independent, defiant soul.

My unbelievable friend, Julie Janss, and I just spent five days making her home livable. It wasn't just the book that told us Donna wanted to live differently. We found things such as a plethora of brand new garden needs (trowels and other tools, a foam kneeling pad, bulbs and seeds) scattered around the floor. But sadly, Donna doesn't execute. I'm not sure how the lone colorful geranium growing in her front yard got there, or how it, like Donna, somehow survives. 

The Band-Aid boxes numbered in the hundreds, as did the plastic water bottles scattered throughout the house, the endless change discovered among the papers on the floor, the containers and newspapers that never made it into recycling, the Post-It Note pads, tablets, pens, greeting cards, books of postage stamps, unfilled prescriptions, empty prescription bottles and canvas bags. The plastic bags tossed through the house had to number more than 500. Donna embodies the consumer concept that buying things will add something to how she sees herself or how others see her, but it just doesn't add anything (but debt) to her shaky sense of self. So for now, I pay what bills I can from her Social Security and small pension, waiting for her release and knowing that I don't know how to protect her from herself.


My dear friend Julie at work in the living room of my aunt's home in California. Bless her for being my rock and creating moments of laughter and love during our ordeal of discovery and filling over 100 garbage bags with trash (not to mention all the bags for recycling).

March 09, 2011

Communities in Bloom

There's snow on the ground, but that isn't stopping one of my very favorite organizations from thinking spring.  The HCI Foundation (formerly Hospice of Central Iowa Foundation) has teamed up with HyVee for a "Communities in Bloom" fundraiser in the 35 counties served by HCI Care Services (formerly Hospice of Central Iowa).

When you use the special "Communities in Bloom" order form to purchase your plants this year, 15% of all sales will benefit quality of life programs for hospice patients and their families. We're talking funds for non-medical needs, such as fixing a faulty shower so a patient can bathe or paying a utility bill to keep the power on for a family without resources. And I have ORDER FORMS, so be in touch!

A fifth generation family-owned greenhouse in Boone is providing the plants. There are herbs, tomatoes, hanging baskets, vines, petunias, impatiens, geraniums, perennials and much more.  Orders are due at your participating HyVee by April 4. You select a May 1 or May 4 delivery date, and pick your order up at your HyVee garden center on that day.

This year, your investment in your garden can grow more than plants. It can do something good for those who are in need.