Category Archives: Last Remaining Parent

Posts relating to the care and nurturing of my aging father, the last remaining elder parent.

Dad’s visit 12-27-13 through 12-31-13

Friday 12-27

I drove to a shopping center in Huntington Beach to pick up Dad. Kathryn had collected him in Simi Valley and drove him down to the rendezvous point. Thanks Sis! We met about 11:30am. Here’s the amazing part. I had inquired about two reasonably priced tickets to the Chargers last game and it turns out that the seller lived in Huntington. So I was able to pick up the tickets in the same shopping center! Talk about living right.

On the way home, we did a lot of shopping – veggie meats at 99 Ranch, gas for the car, home depot, and Brook’s place to pick up a greywater conversion kit for the clothes washer.

Had dinner and did some food prep and gift wrapping for family Christmas

Saturday 12-28

Did a workout to Gilad video with Dad. It’s pretty fast paced for him, so I’ll look for something more moderate. Dad also tried out my electric razor and liked it. Seems like it would be easier for him rather than lathering up with shaving foam and a straight razor. Prepared salad, Neatloaf, and spanicopita for lunch. Guests arrived after 10am. I gave Dennis a tour of the yard, and he had a few suggestions such as how to make my own faux rock waterfall out of concrete. Then, it was time for Stockings.


Someone ended up with coal in their stocking. I wonder who . . .


Dad shows off the stockings hung from the stair rail.








Nearly every individual item was wrapped, so it is quite a process to open the stockings. It is a fun tradition. IMG_4329

Then, we had a gift exchange. Lynette and Paul were absent due to illness, but they sent their gifts ahead and we included them in the process. Dad ended up with a nice fuzzy blanket. I get a kick out of the gift exchange as the gifts change hands.



Lunch was a sit down affair with a new un-meatloaf recipe, spanakopita, heavenly salad (inspired by the Loving Hut), and pumpkin pie. Yummy and filling.




After lunch, the guys went outside hone their disk golf skills. Dad shows off his form. Donna Jacobs stayed for dinner and a few rousing hands of Skip Bo. Dad won both games. Who knew he was such a card shark.


Later that night, we went looking for Christmas lights. We found some amazing displays, including one whose lights pulsated in time with the music.

Sunday 12/29


Sunday was all about the Chargers game. Donna took off to her ministers meeting and Dad and I prepared food for the game. We took a nap in the sunny back yard, and woke up just in time to drive to the trolley station. The trolley ride was easy, but getting into the stadium was not. The NFL has new regulations. Backpacks, shopping bags, fanny packs, etc are not allowed. So, we had to check our possessions at a remote location in the parking lot before entering. The game was amazing. The Chargers got 10 points behind to a second string Kansas City team, but they managed to come back and tie it at the end, then win in overtime. So, the Chargers made it into the playoffs, against all odds. The fans were ecstatic, and in the commotion, Dad lost his footing and scraped his forearm. Fortunately, no harm done. I’ll have to stick to him more closely, since he is a bit less steady on his feet these days.

Monday 12/30

Dad and I hit some tennis balls in the morning. He tried out my spare racket, and liked it. so, he won’t need to bring his own in the future. After lunch, we


started cooking for another celebration with daughter Taira and her crew. We made acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, pasta for the youngins, cooked Gardein stuffed turkey rolls, spanikopita, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was great seeing Taira, John, and their daughters Isabella (4+) and Penelope (2). The


girls opened gifts and played with silly putty, our bouncy musical santa hat, and the piano. We even managed to get the girls to pose for a photo with their great-grandfather. Donna and I played a few Christmas songs on the piano, ukulele, and flute. Dinner and dessert were enjoyed by one and all.

Tuesday 12/30

I drove Dad home. Donna had some things to do in San Diego, so she decided to drive up on New Years Day.



Dad to Huntington Library



Every month, the Huntington Library (near Pasadena) has a free day. You can get several free tickets, but only if you call or get online at the right time on the first of the prior month. I tried for several months, with no luck. Then, I was able to get four tickets for Thursday Dec 5th. I also was able to reserve lunch at the tea room.

The night before, Donna and I drove up for a sleep over at sister Carol’s. The next morning, we picked Dad up at 9am, then came back to collect Brother-in-law Dennis. The weather was perfect – sunny and crisp. We just bundled up with several layers.

We got to the Huntington just about 10:45 or so. What a surprise. The entire entry building had been leveled. They are doing some major construction and remodeling, adding new buildings and gardens.

We decided to start with the Chinese Garden. That too was undergoing major construction and expansion. Even so, it is impressive. Buildings, bridges, and greenery surround a huge lake. Dad wants to come back next year to see how it  develops. Next, the Japanese Garden, a classic beauty. Dad and I walked down into the garden while Dennis and Donna skirted around it with the wheelchair. We met on the other side, then through the Rose Garden to our lunch destination, the Tea Room. If you haven’t had the English tea there, make a point of it. It is the full treatment – tea, scones, salads, tea sandwiches, fruits, cheeses, and plenty of desserts. What a treat! Dad especially enjoyed the caviar.

After lunch, we went indoors to view the art, starting with a temporary exhibit of the California missions. One of the docents shared some insights about Father Junipero Serra’s journey. The exhibit was huge. We learned a lot, including the tidbit that some of the indians fought the missions tooth and nail. In fact, they even burnt the San Diego mission to the ground and killed the missionary. So, the missions are glorified in literature and film, but there is more to the story. The rest of the building contained pictures and sculptures.

We didn’t make it to the other art buildings or the library; will save that for another trip. Last stop, the Desert Garden. This is one of my favorite areas at the Huntington, maybe because it is so unexpected. Most of us would think,  cactus and succulents, so what? But when you get in the garden, immersed in 11 acres, with over 5,000 different species and 50,000 plants, trees, and shrubs, you get a whole new appreciation for those hearty xerophytes. Dad and Dennis both remarked several times at how impressed they were with the grandeur. It was the capstone of our visit. It took two of us to push the wheelchair up the hill to the exit (see the pictures), but it was well worth the effort.

On the way home, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset, which Donna caught on camera. Then a delicious dinner at the Natural Cafe before returning Dad to his home. We showed Rachel a few pictures of the day. She was also glad of her day of rest and recuperation. Overall, the day was great for Dad. He was stimulated with lots of beauty, and got plenty of exercise. I’ll bet he slept soundly that night.


Dad’s Visit 11/23 – 11/29/2013



Happy Thanksgiving! We arranged for Dad to visit for several days leading up to Thanksgiving 2013, and we had a long list of things to do with him.

Sister Kathryn picked Dad up from his home in Simi Valley and drove down to a shopping center near the halfway point to San Diego. I met them about 1:30pm, and collected Dad and his travel kit, including tennis racket. We had a nice drive down, observing the trees, housing developments, and particularly the cloud formations. Luckily, the rain had passed, so clear sailing. We watched the UCLA football game that afternoon; unfortunately they lost. Bummer. I made a lemon pie that night to chill overnight.

Sunday 11/24. We sort of settled into a routine in the morning. Dad woke up and showered. Then we had a nice breakfast spread – healthy cereal topped with fruit, raisins, flaxseed meal, walnuts, and pumpin seeds with non-dairy milk. Also, coffee, water, and Dad’s medications. We didn’t exercise at that point, because Dad’s legs are a bit wobbly after a lot of inactivity. But we did a lot of walking during the visit, starting with a tour of the yard after breakfast. A lot has changed since his last visit. Even though his memory is inconsistent, he really appreciated the new pond system, yard signs, seating areas, steps, etc. We also walked around the neighborhood and collected dirt samples for brewing compost tea. About 11am, we settled in to watch the Chargers game and have lunch. The game was trilling, with the Chargers pulling it out at the last minute. Donna was at her minister’s meeting and potluck, so it was some good guy time. After the game, Dad helped me whip up some vegan meringue and apply it to the lemon pie. It was all sugar free, so fine for Dad’s diabetes. Yummy. See pictures in the slide show below. About 4:30pm, we met Donna and three of her girlfriends down at Vivantech in Mission Valley for an art tour. I had recently added more art to the 7th floor offices, and the ladies wanted a tour. Then it was home for dinner. I started the compost tea brewing that night, so that it would be ready to apply the next afternoon.

Monday 11/25. Donna had arranged for us to do a tour of Petco Park about 10am. We got a personalized tour and discussed various ticket packages. Decided not to buy at that time, but will definitely consider it next year. Dad got a lot of exercise as we tried out different seats all over the ballpark. The stadium is beautiful, and the light was great. See pictures. Then we took Dad to our favorite restaurant, Plumeria, on Park Boulevard. It is Thai style vegan fare, and it is excellent. Dad enjoyed it, of course. Donna took off for an appointment. Dad and I shopped a bit on the way home, then got busy with the yard. We spray the nutrient-dense compost tea all over the garden – on the leaves and the soil. Grow, plants, grow! Donna joined us for dinner. We had too many choices – spaghetti squash and “meatballs,” vegetable soup, steamed greens from the garden, potato salad, lettuce salad, and of course, lemon pie for dessert. Watched Dancing with the Stars that night; it’s something that Dad and Rachel watch regularly. Dad called Rachel to chat. He missed her, but she needs a break from taking care of him. So the visit was good for all.

Tuesday 11/26. Donna joined us for a vegan cooking class with a Thanksgiving theme. Our friends Drew and Therese were there as well, so it was nice to share with them. Dad, Donna, and I concentrated on making a vegetable appetizer display the looked like a turkey along with a roasted pepper hummus dip. It was loads of fun, and we all got to eat samples of all the dishes that were prepared, including pumpkin bread, seitan loaf, mashed potatoes, biscuits with vegan butter, etc. Donna took off again, and Dad and I returned home. Dad took a nap while I prepare a new terraced area in the yard for planting. Dad came out and helped me prepare the soil, plant some new ground cover (dymondia and corsican mint), and water. We had a full dinner again. Brother Steve made a surprise visit. He was down in the area on business, so stopped by. We looked through his new photo book on season at a fruit tree nursery. Great photography, and the change from season to season is spectacular. Steve was also thrilled with the yard signs I had made, and he intends to use sister Lora’s printing services to make signs for his High School horticulture program. We watched the finals of Dancing with the Stars.

Wednesday 11/27. Another busy day. After breakfast, we went shopping for food for  holiday fare. Donna joined us at first, but took off again. She had several treatments this week on her hip including acupuncture, massage, and chiropractor. It’s really slowing down her step, so need to take care of it. Dad and I ended up going to three stores to complete the shopping list. Came home and put the food away. Then a brief nap for both of us. We sat outside, enjoying the afternoon sun. I helped him with a little nail clipping, which is hard for him to do at this point in his life. Then we decided to hit the tennis court. We both love playing, but Dad hasn’t been able to play for some time and his leg’s have gotten weak. But we gave it a try, and it was great. We had quite a few good rallies. Dad reported that he was wobbly, but he still managed to move around the court pretty well. We didn’t play too long, but it we both felt great about getting out on the court. Then it was back home to prep for a Thanksgiving style dinner with guests Lynette, Dennis, and Paul Sable, and son Chris. Didn’t eat until after 7:30, so that gave us time to prepare. Had Gardein stuffed turk’y rolls, homemade stuffed acorn squash, soup, dinner rolls, and another turkey style vegetable appetizer plate with a few dips. Dennis played the guitar and the crowd sang. We celebrated Paul’s birthday with a special vegan chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. Dad really enjoyed the company and singing.

Thursday 11/28. Thanksgiving day! We packed up and drove Dad up to LA. Donna and I will spend a couple of days with family.


Dad visit

Dad had surgery yesterday to remove a melanoma growth on his chest. The doctor wasn’t sure he got it all. Won’t know for another 10 days or so. However, the patient was in great spirits – not in pain, and joking around with the best of them. Donna was a big help to Rachel in changing the bandaging and just coping with the situation in general. My role was primarily the comic relief, which I performed admirably.