Age and Memory

I had a visitor this week. My brother Val and my dear ancient Tellias decided to go backpacking and dropped Eleora off to stay with me.

Tellias and Eleora are ancient. They look young but they’re extremely old. Nobody knew exactly how old Eleora is. The date changed over the years.

She was like the actress who had been born in 1948 but by the time she died Wikipedia listed her year of birth as 1959.  As an aging sex symbol who had a long productive career with no leading roles nobody seemed to notice when she retired to her Long Beach cottage with her tribe of small dogs and assorted cats.

Her body was found by her son who was a product of the third of her five marriages. He hadn’t heard from his mother in a week so he went to check on her. 

Hermes the black Manx cat was sitting on the front porch wearing the platinum and diamond tennis bracelet her fourth husband had given her after she kicked him out for cheating on her with a local state congresswoman.  Hermes was frantically meowing to get in. On the porch was a dry water bowl and several packages from Fed-X and Amazon.

Inside he found his mother on the couch looking like she’d fallen asleep. The TV was still on. She’d been dead for three days. A bottle of high-end boutique vodka was on the table along with a small bowl of assorted opiate based painkillers. One the mantel next to the urn containing his elder sister’s ashes (from the first marriage) was a tiny bundle containing the remains of his mother’s last dog. It was a tiny teacup poodle names Chester, whom she always had dyed purple. On the table next to the vodka bottle was the receipt from the vet for the euthanasia services was from three days ago. 

That meant Hermes had been outside alone without food for way too long. He fed the cat and made some phone calls.

After he called his brother (2ndmarriage) and remaining sister (4thmarriage) he called his father. Growing up he’d lived mostly with his dad but had still been close to his compulsive party girl mother.

He was thankful the cat had been outside and not left in to start eating his mother’s face. Horrible thoughts like that had always popped into his head at the most unfortunate times. He blamed that on his mother and her dramatic flair for the macabre. 

After the coroner left, he put Hermes and his sister’s ashes in the car and drove home. He wouldn’t be coming back. His siblings could take care of the estate. 

But I’m completely off subject. Nobody knew how hold Eleora really was. Well over 2,100 years but she was always vague. I think she doesn’t know and either doesn’t care or is just embarrassed she doesn’t have an exact date. Where she was born, and when she was born, nobody had calendars.  She never aged so age wasn’t a concern, until she met Tellias who came from the Roman Empire where people had a written language, a calendar and even running water.  

Eleora also wasn’t like the actress I mentioned, at least personality wise. She was a flirt, but she and Tellias had been together for two millenniums. They were faithful and steady, or at least as steady as two ancient Vampires could be.

When they dropped her off Eleora was wearing a big green sweater over an orange satin blouse, and a green and blue plaid wool skirt.

“What in the world are you wearing?” I had to ask.

“I’m not sure. It was in my closet,” she said.

“It’s supposed to be over 90 today.”

She just looked at me then looked away not saying anything. I checked in her bag. Inside was a large pink sweatshirt, a lace party dress from eons ago, and a worn out house robe, and a pair of rubber rain boots. I didn’t even ask who packed for her.

An odor like rotted flesh with a sharp metallic after smell invaded my nose. Oh my God it was Eleora.

“When was the last time you took a shower? You smell like death.”

“I don’t smell anything,” she said. 

She’d tied her hair, which was dirty, up on top of her head with a green ribbon.

“You smell like a Shadow Creeper. Damn it Eleora, you don’t live in a crypt or under the floorboards of some abandoned house.  Let’s go up and get you in the shower.”

Like many seniors she has lost interest in personal hygiene or just doesn’t notice anymore. Time, especially in 2020, doesn’t matter. 

It is bad enough with most people who don’t take care of themselves, but it can be especially bad with an old Vampire. 

I reminded her to wash her hair with shampoo and not just put on conditioner. I also gave her a new bar of lavender soap and a washcloth.  She is about the same size as my daughter so I found a sundress in Clara’s closet that she’d left on her last visit and a light sweater out of my closet. Eleora won’t wear pants so our choices were limited. 

After the shower I fixed her a smoothie made of almond milk, blood, a bit of peanut butter and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. 

Eleora looked pretty in the flowered sundress. She might be ancient but she and Tellias look like college students, but act like really old people. 

I had to attend several Zoom meetings, but Eleora didn’t understand I wasn’t going anywhere. Thank goodness for the mute buttons for sound and video.  

“I’ll just stay here with the dog while you go to your meeting. Get me a cup of coffee before you go.”

“I’m not leaving,” I said, “the meeting is here, on my computer, like when we talked to Clara earlier.”

“Get me a glass of water too. Turn on that show I’ve been watching.”

“What is it called?”

“I don’t know.”

“What is it about?”

“It’s a Western.”

“OK. That narrows it down. You don’t remember the name?”

We went through the line ups with all of the on demand stations, Prime and Netflix. We finally turned on Cheyenne. That was good for an hour. 

Today Eleora wasn’t interested in reading. We went out on the deck and she talked about when she and Tellias went to a play followed by a public hanging. That was sometime in the 15thCentury. She didn’t remember much except that a dog walked up on the stage during the play. The man was being hanged for murdering his entire family. Then she told me about how they came to America on a big ship, which really wasn’t that big by today’s standards. It was awful due to the rats but Tellias sang to them and got them to invade the quarters of the first officer who apparently was a real prick.  

After that she couldn’t remember or understand much of anything and took a long nap.  When she woke up she’d sing me a song and ask when Tellias was going to come pick her up.

The next few days were much the same. 

Then she asked when she would be able to go home. She was done with me.  I’d hold her hand and tell her about my garden and my children. If I was able to I’d make her laugh. I’d get a smile out of her and she’d seem to be happy for a bit. 

When Val and Tellias finally came back Eleora was quick to pack up and leave. 

I remember when Eleora and I used to have adventures together. I remember when we’d be so busy doing things that we’d forget the passing of time. I remember when she could remember. 

Even when we forget we always remember to love. The memories and synaspes are gone but the love is still there.

My thoughts today go out to all of the caretakers. It goes to those who forget. It goes to those who remember and treasure those memories. It goes out to all of those who love unconditionally.

  • Stay safe
  • Wear a mask
  • Be kind
  • Check on those who are elderly, alone, or need extra help and support
  • Talk to your kids
  • Hug your dogs and cats
  • Kiss a Vampire
  • And be kind to yourself.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Love her for who she is, not who you want her to be.

Often our elders know more about life and love than we ever could.  I’m running a Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. Please check out the other posts. We’re vampires but maybe you can relate.

From 2013

Love her for who she is, not who you want her to be

Over the long weekend I packed up the family and took them out to the farm on the Delta where the Elders, Eleora and Tellias live.  My brothers were to meet us there for a night of family fun – as much fun as a family of Modern Vampires can have (which is pretty darned fun). Teddy, my husband, looked forward to sharing some new wines. Garrett and Clara, our teens, looked forward to visiting with their uncles and the Elders who never seemed to run out of tall tales. As the only sister it is my job to make sure my brothers are happy and not being stupid.

Upon arrival I noticed my brother Andy had cut his waist long chestnut colored hair to just a few inches below his shoulders. It short of flipped up on the ends but still looked like guy hair. Smart, artistic and sexy guy hair.

“Looks good Andrew. Did you cut it for her?” I asked running my fingers though my brother’s hair.

“Of course not. I wouldn’t change my hair for any woman. I just like this length better.” He gave me a twitchy look, like he does when he is annoyed. “I haven’t seen her for a month. She doesn’t know what to think of me. I can’t change who I am.”

“Did she ask you to change?”

“She hasn’t asked me to do anything. I think I confused her so much that… I know she likes me, and she might be in love with me, but she isn’t like us. She isn’t a Vampire.”

“Then if she loves you she’ll love you for who you are. She’d be crazy not to.”

“She’d be crazy if she did fall in love with me.”

I gave him a hug and sent him off to the back room where the rest of my brothers were.

It was one of those rare nights when all five of us, my four brothers and I, were together.

My husband and my sister in law Verity (my brother Aaron’s wife) were sitting out front on the veranda with the Elders, avoiding the potential drama.

Garrett, my 17 year old came up and put his arm around my shoulder. “What’s up with Uncle Max?”

“A girl rejected him so he can’t stop thinking about her.”

“What about Uncle Andy?”

“A girl he is in love with doesn’t know what to think of him.”

Garrett gave a slight laugh and a snort. “Those guys are so weird. Why don’t they just go with the flow and talk to these women? You know mom, they aren’t talking.”

I knew he was right. Teens sometimes get relationships because they aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for someone to go to the next dance or football game with. They’re looking for a study partner who might also like to flirt and hold hands. Sure they make mistakes and get their hearts broken but they don’t brood for 50 years and get all bent out of shape forever due to their own predisposition to jerkdom.

Sure teen love is complex. OK it is simple. But if given the opportunity they can look at a situation and make better sense out of it than a lot of grown ups I know.

I just keep thinking of what my husband Teddy tells all the teenage girls, including his own daughter. “Boys are stupid.” That pretty much says it all.

He didn’t ask about his other two uncles. Aaron is happily married (and I mean that in the most real way) and the other, Val, is happy and always well adjusted enjoying his single state with every woman he meets.

Teens don’t see adult romance the same way they see their own romances and crushes.

Adult romance is based on a lot of things that don’t make sense, due to the fact that adults seem so bad at it.

Max told me the woman he knows, who has frustrated the crap out of him, would be perfect if she just changed. He always expects them to change, but they end up wanting him to change. It never makes any sense to me. I always resented anyone who wanted me to change. I hated it.

If you want someone to change, if that is a qualifying factor for your love then it isn’t love. It is ownership and control. If you need to change someone you might as well find someone else. If someone wants you to change you need to run. That is the world of romance according to Juliette, Modern Vampire, Modern Woman.

We all change and we change together. But if only one is required to change then the relationship will always be off balance.

My 14 year old Clara came in and joined her brother, taking my arm. I hugged them both.

“I have important relationship information,” I told my darlings. “Repeat after me darling children of mine:

  1. I will not change who I am for you.
  2. I will not wear the ugly shirt you don’t like but I will not change my morals, values or core beliefs for you.
  3. I will wear the shirt you gave me because it looks good on me but I will not change my hair for you.
  4. I will hang out with you but I will not drop my friends for you.
  5. I will not do anything for you that degrades me or makes me feel like I am not a whole person.
  6. I will be open to educated change, agree to disagree and discuss differences but I will not be forced to change in exchange for your love.
  7. If you force me into an ultimatum to change, your life will change because I will no longer be in it.
  8. If I change for you it is not love, it is fear that you will not love me.
  9. Love me for who I am, not what you want me to be. “

“We know that mom,” said Garrett. “You’ve already brainwashed us.”

“We love you mom,” added Clara.

I went out to the back porch where my eldest brother Max, the great brooding Vampire was standing. Maxwell the hunter, the fighter, the legend among Vampires, the idiot when it came to women.

Max was thinking about the girl. The woman. The strong smart amusing Vampire woman. The woman he couldn’t figure out. The woman he thought was just a friend. A friend he slept with when he wanted to. And easy friend. Easy. Easy. Easy.

Then he realized that his thoughts went from woman to girl and he suddenly realized that he had never taken her seriously. Why would he?

Now she was gone and he missed her.  Was it her or his ego?  Or was it just the fact that she was always available to scratch his itch in places nobody else could scratch. Or was it the fact that she let him bite her and take her in ways that his other Vampire bitches would not?  I think it was just for the face that she’d pissed him off.  It was the fact that good or bad, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.

“You should call her.” I said to my brother putting a cautious hand on his shoulder.

He glared at me showing his fangs. “To Hell with her.”

“She never played games with you Max. You used her and dumped on her feelings. That’s sick Max.”

“I don’t know why she is so pissed off. I told her I’d never love her. She isn’t the kind of woman I fall in love with.”

“None of the women you ever get involved with mean anything to you unless they use you before you use them.”

I sat down on the porch swing and let him brood in the dark. He knew I was right. Or at least he knew he’d have to change and admit that I’m right.  I wondered if I smacked him hard enough with a 2 x 4 if it would knock any sense into his head.

Tellias sat next to me and put his hand in mine. “Don’t be so hard on your brother. Boys are stupid.”

“What makes you so smart Tellias?” I asked the ancient Vampire.

“One doesn’t change their partner, they grow and change together.”

“How long have you and Eleora been together? Do you remember?”

“Since they started planning Hadrian’s Wall. That was a long time ago. I remember the first time I saw her. She was standing on the edge of a cliff singing some God awful song wearing the ugliest dress I’d ever seen. It was so odd. I just stood there and stared for the longest time until she turned and looked at me with eyes ablaze with fury. I thought she was going to kill me. It was love at first sight.”

“You’re still in love.” I gave his cold hand a gentle squeeze.

“I can’t imagine being with anyone else.”

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

What Kind of Meat Are You?

From 2015. The kids are grown now but I thought I’d entertain you with this again. Don’t forget to answer the polls.

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Way back when, back before I had teenagers, back before I knew what a blog was, back when Microsoft had Front Page and we did html by hand…

Years ago when the kids were playing Club Penguin I discovered Facebook. I didn’t think much of My Space. Anyway, a family member sucked me into Facebook. Way back then I discovered goofy polls. Mind you this was before cat memes and horrible inspirational quotes took over. This was back when you could easily create your own polls.

I used to LOVE polls in women’s magazines about relationship styles and clothing styles. The polls were fun. The polls always had something to do with relationships or sex or style. It was fun. Admit it – you did those polls too.

One day I sat at my computer, a toddler on my lap, and I tried to make my own poll. It was called “What Kind of Meat are You.” Yes, I did think that was funny. But it was never to be.

Back then blogs were also a mystery. They were difficult and serious or political. Fast forward about a million years. I’m writing a blog. I’m writing. I know other writers. I’ve evolved (thank you WPaD and Becky for your support.)

Hold on for a second…. a teenager needs to use this computer to do her online drivers ed so I’d better cut to the chase. Blogs were difficult and serious or religious. Parenting blogs were HORRIBLE and full of the kind of mom I never wanted to be.

But then I started this blog and discovered that I’m not alone. No, not the Vampire Parenting stuff, but the fact that the world is full of fun and unusual and creative and unique bloggers.

But that takes me back to polls. I was thinking about polls. Let us do some polls RIGHT NOW.

How old are you?

 

Unknown-3

 

WHAT KIND OF MEAT ARE YOU?

 

Thank you for your time. Your information will not be given to any third parties.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

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Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

don't be a ghost

What Kind of Meat are You?

Way back when, back before I had teenagers, back before I knew what a blog was, back when Microsoft had Front Page and we did html by hand…

The kids were playing Club Penguin and I discovered Facebook. I didn’t think much of My Space. Anyway, a family member sucked me into Facebook. Way back then I discovered goofy polls. Mind you this was before cat memes and horrible inspirational quotes took over. This was back when you could easily create your own polls.

I used to LOVE polls in women’s magazines about relationship styles and clothing styles. The polls were fun. The polls always had something to do with relationships or sex or style. It was fun. Admit it – you did those polls too.

One day I sat at my computer, a toddler on my lap, and I tried to make my own poll. It was called “What Kind of Meat are You.” Yes, I did think that was funny. But it was never to be.

Back then blogs were also a mystery. They were difficult and serious or political. Fast forward about a million years. I’m writing a blog. I’m writing. I know other writers. I’ve evolved (thank you WPaD and Becky for your support.)

Hold on for a second…. a teenager needs to use this computer to do her online drivers ed so I’d better cut to the chase. Blogs were difficult and serious or religious. Parenting blogs were HORRIBLE and full of the kind of mom I never wanted to be.

But then I started this blog and discovered that I’m not alone. No, not the Vampire Parenting stuff, but the fact that the world is full of fun and unusual and creative and unique bloggers.

But that takes me back to polls. I was thinking about polls. Let us do some polls RIGHT NOW.

How old are you?

 

WHAT KIND OF MEAT ARE YOU?

 

 

 

 

Thank you for your time. Your information will not be given to any third parties.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman