Thursday, September 3, 2015

Have You Heard Of A Product Called Drug Buster?

I think we can all agree that a lot of problems in society are created by drug abuse.  Theft in homes and robbery from people is on the news every single day.  Sometimes it results in violence and murder.  In our area they are having heroin summits to make the public aware of what addiction can do to people.  They will stop at nothing to get money to buy more drugs.  Addicts will watch the obituaries to see what a person died from and where they died.  Then they watch for the time of a funeral service.  They take this opportunity to break into peoples homes to look for drugs.  They know what drugs are used for cancer pain and other painful diseases.  This blog isn't going to be an editorial as to why there are so many addicted people, although in my experience medical doctors are very quick to write prescriptions.  I learned something new during my dad's hospice experience.  In the past we have taken our unused or unfinished prescriptions to drug drop off spots.  Every now and then the local hospital collects unwanted over the counter and prescription drugs.  They always have a police officer on hand in case someone thinks this is an easy place to get drugs.  The trouble with this is that you have to hold on to things until they offer this service.  Hospice was fine but it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be.  They prescribed a number of drugs to control pain.  They want to keep the patient comfortable, so they prepare for all scenarios.  When dad died, we had bottles of stuff I did not want in my house.  I was worried about all the things I mentioned.  I asked the nurse if she could take the excess or what I should do with all of it.  I didn't want to put it in our septic system or throw them out in the woods to get in the water supply.  The nurse thought about it and said she had something we could do.  She brought in this bottle.

It is a bottle of a solution made out of biodegradable safe products.  We opened the bottle and dumped all the pills we had in the house that weren't needed or necessary.  Then we put the cover on and turned it over a few times.  The drugs dissolve in the liquid and neutralize them into an indigestible product.  If someone thinks they can drink the solution, it will just make them violently throw up.  I don't know why this product isn't readily available or maybe it is and I haven't come across it.  Here is the website with more information.

I checked with a person from our city to make sure it was safe to throw in the garbage.  He had never heard of it, but all testimonials say it can be put in the landfill.  The whole bottle with the solution can be tossed or you can pour out the liquid and recycle the bottle. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Is Today's Education Better...It's Hard To Say

The schools in our area started yesterday, September 2.  Some schools around the country wait until after Labor Day, but all the kids will be back soon.  Things have changed so much.  I was getting a haircut the other day and my hairdresser was saying that third graders don't have spelling lists anymore.  Even with spellchecker, you have to get the word slightly correct or it will change it to a whole new word.  Even if you spell a word right, it sometimes gets changed anyway.  I don't know the logic behind no spelling lists, but I'm sure someone studied it and determined that it didn't make for better spellers. 

My grandson Ewan started kindergarten.

These days kindergartners go to school for the whole day.  My daughter told me they didn't need to have a nap mat because they don't have nap time anymore.  They don't teach handwriting and by the end of the year, they have to be able to read a chapter book with several sentences on each page.  They need to know the title, author, parts of a book and be able to answer questions to prove comprehension.  I guess Ewan is fine with it though.  His teacher told my daughter that Ewan had the best question of the day.  He raised his hand and asked if they were going to learn to read today.  He can't wait to read big hardcover books like his brother and his parents.

 When my daughters attended kindergarten they went half a day and learned a letter a week.  I think the only expectation was to write their name by the end of the year.  When I went to kindergarten, I don't think we learned anything.  It was so long ago I don't remember much.  I do remember wetting my pants so I could get sent home.  Why do we remember those things but not the happy things?  I know I didn't learn to read.  My husband didn't even go to kindergarten, so I guess basically we both started school for real in 1st grade.

My Aunt Agnes in 1928 when she got out of Normal School.

My mother's oldest sister Agnes was a teacher.  She taught grades 1-8 in a country school without indoor plumbing and a woodstove for heat.  She taught many of her brothers and sisters.  Mom used to say she was so hard on all of them because she didn't want anyone to think she favored her family.  I recently found her planning book from 1940.  It was interesting to read.  There was no kindergarten.  In first grade students began the year with a pre-primer called We, Look and See.  These were called Dick and Jane books and they came out about 1930.  I imagine they were the new innovative reading program.  They studied vocabulary words like oh, see, look and run.  By the end of the year Agnes wrote "drill on phonetic development and read with expression".  I learned phonics drills and had Dick and Jane books.  I remember them to this day.  Who knows what is best?  I do have to say that by 8th grade Aunt Aggie's students knew the classics, talked about current events each day, did exercises in punctuation, learned posture and manners, and did extensive drills on County and State government.  All grades had spelling lists and practiced handwriting. 

Pray Wisconsin schoolhouse

Mom's sister Agnes, the teacher, with the striped shirt in the top row, my mom in the middle with the blonde curls and her brother Eugene in the lower right corner.  My mom never did like to have her picture taken.  She always looked serious.

 It's a different world now for good or bad.  The old way probably wouldn't work now, although students were taught a lot of useful life lessons.  Things have changed so quickly.  Twenty five years ago my daughter went to college with a small computer and no portable cell phone.  I went with a typewriter and a dime to call on the pay phone.  Now small little babies can use an ipad and use a cell phone.  Imagine what the next twenty five years will bring.  I can't even begin to imagine.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What I Learned From My Parents Death

Last week we had a memorial service and buried my parents.  I have written about losing them and how much they were loved.  I didn't take any pictures that day because carrying a camera around changes my experience in situations.  I look for good shots instead of being in the moment.  That day, I wanted to be in the moment.  This blog is not going to be a recount of the day, but some of the things I learned.  Not necessarily what I learned from them about being a good person, but what I learned about what needs to be done when a person dies.  It is easy to be taken advantage of because of the situation.  Who knew that a regular bouquet of flowers can cost $40, but the same bouquet can cost $80 when they are for a funeral.  I learned from my husbands family that bereavement rates with an airline cost a lot more that regular rates.   I am so lucky I had to learn these things as an older person myself, and that I had my parents in my life for much longer than most people.  I also realize that the job of funeral directors is to do a lot of the work we took on, but we didn't have that option.  If you work with a funeral home, many of the costs we had are built into the final service cost.  I was just over whelmed for the moment.  Then I had to realize that we had to tackle one thing at a time.  I was fortunate to have a sister who did some of the arranging.

I may have learned some other things, but these are some that stand out in my mind.

1.  Talk about everything before your loved ones actually die.  The first thing is have a Power of Attorney and know their wishes as far as health care decisions.  If they don't want to be resuscitated, then have that information available or hospitals go to extraordinary means to save a life.  My parents had DNR's, which was fortunate.

2.  They had paid for their funeral expenses in advance.  We knew what they wanted, or at least I thought we did.  A few details were left up in the air, so if there are specific wishes, be sure to write them down.  When the time comes, the thinking process slows down a bit.

3.  Have enough money set aside to pay for all the extra expenses.  My parents moved from the area they lived and from the area they set up their pre-paid cremation.  We had to pay for transportation to the crematorium which amounted to $300.  We had to pay $150 for a cremation permit, $40 for the coroner to sign the death certificate, $20 for one death certificate and more for each additional copy.  We had to pay for a local funeral home to hold my dad's body until it could be transported.  That was $300.  We had to pay $250 for the cemetery to dig a small hole for the urn.  It was a companion urn so we didn't have to pay for two.  The cemetery director said we got two for the price of one.   Even though my parents had a grave marker that was engraved with their name and birth dates, we had to pay an additional $150 each to have their death date engraved.  That equals almost a $1000 extra dollars that wasn't pre-paid.  This is in Central Wisconsin.  It would probably be a lot more in other areas of the country.

4.  If the loved one is on Social Security, you have to pay back the money for the month they died.  My mom passed away on the 31st of January but we had to pay back the entire amount of her Social Security disbursement for the month of January.  Dad was the same.  We also had to pay back a second federal pension for the month he died.  I didn't realize that happened until we experienced it.

5.  There are a lot of decisions.  If you have a service, you need to know what kind of service, any special music and any special verses or poems, who will officiate the service and if there is a meal you need to estimate how many people to expect.   This usually has to happen within a few days.  We were fortunate to have more than a month to plan this part.

6.  Make sure there is a will, so any stipulations are in writing.  So many families come to blows at the death of a loved one.  It seems so strange to me that when someone dies, the family mourns and is sad together and then later they fight about the dumbest things and never speak again.  The person who dies would be so sad to know what can happen over a ring or a piece of silverware.  I'm afraid the world is a selfish place, and a lot of people only think of themselves and not the whole picture. My parents took care of gifting family members things well in advance of their passing.  We probably wouldn't fight, but this way that won't be tested.  
We had disposed of my parents house and most of their belongings well in advance.  That was a huge undertaking, but it was done before my parents passed away.  Some families are left with a lifetime of possessions to decide what to do with.  I feel sorry for my children if they would have to deal with all of our stuff now.  It is something I need to consider.  Hopefully I have a lot of life left, but it is the reality of getting older.  How many possessions does a person actually need?  I need to sit down with my daughters and make some important decisions.