Taking Care of Our Elders: Cleopatra

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon

Our elder folks are our treasures. We should all love and take care of those we have, both family and elderly friends who often have no family near. You’re never too old for love, or friends or living life.

From 2017

Cleopatra

“Come quick, come quick,” whispered the voice on my phone.

“What is it? Tell me,” I said trying to get information.

“I can’t find her. Come quick.” The caller hung up.

I was in the park, walking an unruly 12 month old German Shepard. The dog was pulling all over the place. My big pouch of a purse was flipped in front of me making me feel like a contestant on Naked and Afraid (except with clothes.) While my 85 pound girl-dog pup took every opportunity to cover herself with mud, I juggled my phone, the leash, my coffee, and my sanity.

I had texts from my 20-year-old son about his anger over environmental issues. Another text came from my 17-year-old daughter asking if I’d throw some stuff in the wash for her.

When I arrived home the dog walked to the middle of the street and waited? For what? A white van came down the street (a narrow private road with seven houses.) I gently guided Alice the dog to the driveway. The van was from Apple Maps. So next time anyone looks up my street they’ll see a large black German Shepard standing in the middle of the road. Sigh.

After gathering together a few things I drove to the farm by the river where Tellias and Eleora, the ancient ones live. Tellias was waiting for me on the front porch of the Queen Ann style mansion. He wore overalls, a white old fashioned tuxedo shirt, and had put his pale blonde hair up in a man-bun held in place with a couple of No. 2 pencils. As always he wore yellow flip flops.

Tellias took my hands and kissed my cheeks and forehead. His pretty face looks all of nineteen but Tellias is over 2,000 years old. He only looks young.

“I’ve lost her Juliette. I looked all over and I can’t find her,” he told me.

“When did you last see her?” I asked.

“I fell asleep, and when I woke she was gone. Her favorite bag is still here so I know she didn’t run off with another man.”

“Eleora would never run off with another man. Think where she could be. Did she take the car?”

“The cars and truck are here. But he could have picked her up…”

“Stop,” I told him. “No more crazy talk about imaginary lovers. Did you check the basement and all of the out buildings?”

He scowled. “Of course I did. But… she talked about going swimming. The river…”

I drove the truck along the levee as Tellias called out for Eleora.

The song Cleopatra by the Lumineers was on the radio.

Tellias hummed along, then he stopped and just listened. When it was over he looked at me as if he was going to cry. “Juliette,” he said, “that is the saddest song I’ve ever heard.”

“Do you want me to turn it off?” I asked. He didn’t answer and called out the window again.

I saw egrets and hawks fly over the water. My stomach started to cramp up with the thought of Eleora being trapped somewhere in the currents.

“I knew her,” said Tellias.

“Knew who?” I asked.

“Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt. I knew her when I was young. I mean young in the same way that you’re young.”

“You knew Cleopatra?”

“Yes, I just said that. It was when I was traveling with Mark Antony, not the singer, but the Roman General. Mark told her that I couldn’t die. She wanted him to prove it. He refused. It was all rather odd, but after that we were great friends, or so they thought,” Tellias told me. “Cleopatra was lovely in a strange sort of way, but I was done with it. It was at that point where I was tired of being the magical pretty boy with skin like ice, and the power to drain a man of his blood, or whatever. I was tired of reading minds and being shown off. She thought if I drank her blood it would give her mystical powers. I told her no. I was tired of it. Tired in sort of the same way I’m tired now. Where is she? There’s a turn around by the old slough, remember you used to go there when you were a child with your brothers. You would play pretend adventures for hours.”

I kept driving and Tellias kept talking.

“I went back to Britain where I’d left Eleora. We were both alone, children of the shadows who danced in both light and dark, without parents, or allegiance to anyone. There were groups of Vampires with Kings, and masters, but Eleora’s spirit was too free to be part of some Vampire court. She wasn’t one to follow rules or bow down to anyone. Some tried over the years but nobody could capture her spirit. We were the first Modern Vampires before the word modern even existed. We were the first. Now we’re just a couple of old fools.”

“You’re not an old fool,” I said.

He rolled his eyes at me. Then he said, “Turn left. I see her.”

Eleora sat on a log overlooking a pond, in a foggy field that was what remained of a long dead pear orchard. She turned and waved. She looked like any other young woman in a short leather skirt, tights, and a black lace bra. Her wet hair fell in loose curls down her back.

Tellias ran to her and held her in his arms, and covered her with kisses.

She’d gone for a walk and left her phone at home. Then she went for a swim and forgot to put her shirt back on. Then she sat and thought about everything she’d done over the centuries. She tried to remember her parents but nothing came into her head. She didn’t remember her brothers or sisters, but she thought she might have some. She wondered if they were still alive. She thought about the days when she and Tellias had great parties at their now silent home. She sat and thought about things and forgot that six hours had passed.

We took her home. Tellias got her cleaned up while I made warm mulled blood with wine and orange peel.

“We’re very old. Very very old,” said Tellias as he walked me to the door.

“Then I will love you all the more,” I said. “You’re not going anywhere. Not you. Not Eleora.”

“I don’t plan on it,” he said and gave me a kiss, and an ice cold hug. Then I drove through the fog, back to my own house, and my large black dog.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Taking Care of Our Elders: Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. More about Eleora, Tellias, and my idiot brother.
From 2014

Keeping the Fires Alive in Our Cold Vampire Hearts

I walked into her bedroom. I’d never met the woman. I’d heard of her, but the details are always the same. She is pretty and smart and fun thirty something woman and not interested in a serious relationship. Perfect for my brother. By the way, my brother is a Vampire. So am I. But you already knew that.

They were on the bed but nothing had happened yet. Her shirt was off. So was his, along with his belt and the top button of his jeans was undone. His mouth was on her neck.

“Val. Valentine you need to come with me.” I almost growled it out. The woman screamed. I thought her name is Courtney but I could have been wrong. It didn’t matter. She screamed again. Val’s eyes glowed red at me.

“Stop with the eye glow. We have to go. Family emergency. Now.”

“Courtney, darling, I’m so sorry. I have to go with my sister,” he said, giving his lady friend a kiss and grabbing his shirt and belt. She covered her chest and stared at me, then looked at Val, then looked back at me. You can tell we’re related. There is a very strong family resemblance. I could see the bite marks on her neck. He’d be back. Val almost always goes back, especially to one this lovely. Plus he owed her some future sweet dreams for my barging into her bedroom. On the good side, in the morning she’ll forget any of this happened. That is one advantage of being a Vampire – we can make them forget.

An hour earlier I’d received a call. “Come now, come now.” The quiet voice almost hissed in my ear. Dealing with the elderly can be both rewarding and heart breaking and sometimes it just pisses me off because I’m the one… I love them, but sometimes it would be nice if I had some help.

“I thought you were staying with them,” I snapped at my brother.

“I can’t be there 24/7. I needed a break. I need my own space sometimes.”

“We saw Wicked tonight. A nice family outing. Why is it that every time I go to the theater or on vacation or have something nice planned someone calls me with an emergency. It could be our parents or Andy or the Elders or… all I ask for is one night. Just one.”

Val mumbled something but I just cranked up the radio.

Old Tellias met us at the door of the Queen Anne style farm-house. His pale hair was around his shoulders making him looking more like a Victorian Angel rather than a Vampire. He wore an open tuxedo shirt and jeans like some college student trying to make a fashion statement. It was just the way he dressed, like he had his eyes closed.

“She isn’t well. She isn’t well at all,” he said in a paper thin whisper.

Eleora was not well. They’d been together for 2,000 years and even now as they slowed down their love  stayed strong. Anyone that old is bound to be fragile and that is exactly what these two are.

Eleora was on the fainting couch wearing a flowered sundress and an old stretched out sweater. Her long dark curls were dull and hanging limp in the heat about her shoulders.

To anyone else she’d be a young woman of maybe 19 or 20. My head spun. Eleora was at least 2,500 years old if not more. We knew Tellias was born before the birth of Christ, but not too long before.

It didn’t matter. She lay still as death wrapped in an old sweater and covered in a quilt, not breathing, or making her heart pump. She wasn’t dead but she wasn’t alive. She just was.

“When was the last time she ate anything?”

Tellias gave me a guilty look. “Maybe last week.”

“Why didn’t you call me or at least called John next door. We could have brought you something. Have you been out of the house at all?”

He shook his head. “We lost the car keys.” Again. They were always misplacing their car keys. Any spares were long gone. “I didn’t want to bother anyone.” he added.  “You’re all so busy.”

It is frustrating to see that pretty face of his and know that the brain behind it isn’t working at full capacity. Maybe it isn’t his brain. Maybe his spirit is just tired.

I reached up to the top of a bookshelf where he kept spare keys in a box. I dragged my brother out to the barn. The old 1955 Ford truck was still out there. After charging the battery (thank goodness for jumper cables) I got it started.

Tellias stood in the barn doorway not saying a word. This Vampire who once took charge of every situation was now so helpless and confused. I still admired him. Unfortunately it wasn’t a night to express those thoughts.

When I returned to the house Eleora was sitting up. I sat next to her and took her cold hand. She curled her fingers around mine.

“Nobody needs us anymore. Most of our close friends are gone.”

It broke my heart to hear her say that. “Oh Eleora, dear Eleora, don’t talk like that.”

“Ginger died.”

I didn’t expect that. Ginger was their old dog, a large yellow lab mix who’d shown up about 10 years ago. Everyone loved Ginger, but nobody more than Eleora and Tellias.

“When? Why didn’t you call me?” I asked still in shock.

“She wouldn’t get up.” said Tellias. “Her legs wouldn’t move.”

“We sat with her all night,” said Eleora.

“All night, until she stopped wagging her tail,” said Tellias.

“Until her heart stopped,” said Eleora.

“Then she was gone,” said Tellias.

“She died.” said Eleora.

“Ginger went to where all good dogs go,” said Tellias.

“Ginger was a good dog,” said Eleora. “A good good dog.”

The old dog seemed fine last time I was over, but that was two weeks ago. Tellias buried her in the orchard under the walnut trees.

That is why Eleora was so sad and out of sorts. Her dear dog friend was gone. It always amazes me how much love dogs and cats have and how their loss is so heavy on our hearts.

Eleora squeezed my hand.  “Tellias shouldn’t be so worried about me. He worries too much. He worries all the time. He worries. It is what he does. I’m glad you’re here. I loved that dog.”

“So did I,” I said trying to blink away the tears. Even Vampires have tears for dogs they love.

Eleora put her hands on my face and kissed me on the forehead and wiped my eyes. “You’ll be fine dear Juliette.  I am glad you’re here. I miss Valentine being around. He had to go to the city he said. Not where you live. He went to the big city. But he said he’d be back all summer. All summer long.”

Val had vanished. I eventually found him in the upstairs bathroom throwing up blood (not his own of course.)  His skin had taken on sort of a greenish tint, which brought me back to Wicked. Anyway, he wasn’t well.

“I don’t know what is wrong with me,” he said, looking as dead as a Vampire can look.

As soon as I entered the room I could tell by the smell what was going on. “Courtney is pregnant.”

Yes, one thing that makes a Vampire male sicker than a dog is blood from a pregnant woman. A look of surprise came over his face. No of course he isn’t the father. He couldn’t be. It turned out she had an on again off again boyfriend of three years. So much for that. I’ll make sure Val gets her a nice gift for the baby – a crib or a rocking chair or a nice fat savings bond.

Val gave me one of his looks. It is kind of a scowl with a bit of fang. “What are we doing? I mean what are we really doing Juliette? We used to travel the world and have grand wild adventures. We were the Vampires of lore. We ruled our world.”

“We were out of control idiots. Remember?”

“But what about now?”

“We’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing. We’re taking care of each other. You never asked me how Wicked was?”

Val put his arm around my shoulder. “How was Wicked dear sister?”

“Amazing! It was so much fun.”

We talked for a bit more until Tellias came up to see what we were up to. I called Pete at the Bottle & Blood store and ordered a delivery of a couple of cases of mixed blood to be delivered to the farm that night.

So where are we?

I guess we’re here we’re supposed to be. We’re where we are right now. We’re keeping the fires alive in our cold Vampire hearts and souls. I guess we can’t ask for anymore than that.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Silver Webs and Silken Bats

Today my husband Teddy is helping the Elders decorate for Christmas.

He found old netting of silver spider webs and long strings of red glass beads to add to the old fragile ornaments they put up every year.

Over the past few years they stopped decorating but Teddy decided they needed a tree.

In the attic he found boxes of hand blown glass owls, small wooden elves from Germany, tiny little bats made of beaded black silk and a large hat box full of shining stars and crescent moons with smiling faces.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you need to stop celebrating.

“But who will see the tree?” The ancient Vampires looked confused.

“You will see it,” said Teddy. “I will see it. Your friends will stop by and see it. You need to pick up the phone and call your friends, both Vampires and humans. Call your old Werewolf friends too, I don’t care who you like. If they’re old let me know and I’ll give them a ride here and I’ll give them a ride home. I’ll make them egg nog. I’ll help you make it happen for everyone.”

Tellias and Eleora look young but they’re ancient. They’re older than Christmas, so sometimes they get confused or feel isolated. Sometimes they forget everything outside of their own house.

Teddy always hounds me to call my friends and people I know who might need a friend. We all know what it is like to spend a holiday alone or without cheer of others. Even a little tree or a wreath or a shining star on a string can make a difference. More than that a hug or a call.

Christmas time is about the promise of peace and hope and love. After 2019 years the human race still hasn’t gotten it right, but maybe one day. The smallest acts of kindness can move us closer in that direction.

Wishing you all a season of peace and fellowship.

And about that husband of mine…I’m glad I married him. I always will be.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

time for christmas

 

A Late Night Walk Along The Highway

I answered the phone.

“Juliette, come quick, come quick.”

“What is it?”

“Meet me at the hospital. The UC Med Center downtown. In the emer-gin-see.”

“Tellias, what…”

The phone went dead. That call would be disturbing for anyone, but if you’re a Vampire it brings on even more fear. Think about it.

At the time I was cleaning up dog poop. My ten month old German Shepard was spayed a week ago. Since then all potty training has been lost and she has been pooping and peeing in the house by the front door. That is just one of the many things that has been stressing me out this week. But then Tellias calls.

Tellias looks like he is nineteen but he is well over two thousand years old. Nobody knows how old he is. He and Eleora met while he was in Britain when the Roman’s were building Hadrian’s wall. They’ve been together ever since.

In the emergency check in area I saw Tellias trying to explain himself. He said he was there for his wife. He looks like a teenager. He was wearing tuxedo pants, flip flops, and a mechanics shirt with the name Steve embroidered on the front pocket. His pale hair hung around his shoulders.

After some explaining we were told where we needed to go.

A nice woman named Judy identified herself as a Medical Social Worker. She explained that Eleora had been hit by a car and brought here. The injuries consisted of a deep cut to her arm, and possible brain injury. Tellias was asked if his wife had any history of mental illness.

Tellia looked at me with that “Do something Juliette,” look.

It seems that Eleora had gone for a drive. She’d run out of gas and left her car by the side of the road. Then she walked down the center line of the highway and was struck by a car.

Tellias and I were told that Eleora suffered from blood loss.

He told the doctors that there would be no MRIs or CT scans. There would be no X-rays of her head.

They asked for medical history. We said Eleora was healthy. We did not tell them that she was a Vampire, hence the lack of blood.

At that point I was upset at Tellias for not making sure Eleora was eating. I was more angry at the fact he’d let her go out with the car. That usually wasn’t a problem considering the keys seemed to always be lost. Tellias had come in his truck. God knows where the car was.

When we finally saw Eleora she was so happy to see us. The old Vampire, who looked to be about twenty, lay on a bed with an IV drip. Her ripped arm had been stitched and bandaged. I could see the scrapes on her forehead where quickly healing.

She told us her story.

“I was driving to the store to get bobby pins and maybe something to read, like a magazine or a book. Then the car stopped running, right along the river road, just like that, it stopped. So I stopped. I got out of the car and decided to walk. I’d been down the road for about a mile and thought I should go back to the car but then I remembered I’d left my keys at home on the table. You know, the table by the door. I thought I might as well go to the store then around the corner came a car and they hit me. They made such a fuss over me and brought me here. Everyone has been so nice. They even said they’d give me blood. The place is full of the stuff. They have refrigerators full of it here.”

Out of the door of her room I could see other patients and other family members with real problems. Elderly people were there with tired middle-aged children, some with teens they’d brought along for moral support. Young mothers and fathers were there with vomiting babies. Parents were there with injured teens. The police were escorting a young man who had been stabbed in a fight. A mentally ill man was yelling obscenities. A middle aged man sat alone in the hallway in obvious pain looking as if he would pass out any second. I wondered if someone had died, or was going to die soon, or why he looked so sad.

Then the social worker named Judy showed up again with another person with a title I don’t remember. He had on a doctor’s coat, and carried a clip board. They wanted to speak to Eleora alone.

Tellias and I waited outside and listened. Of course we could hear through the door. We’re Vampires.

Judy: Do you feel safe at home Eleora?

Eleora: Yes, I always feel safe, unless I think Vampire Hunters with flame throwers are coming around. It hasn’t happened yet but it could. You never know these days.

Judy: Has Tellias ever hit you or been cruel to you?

Eleora: No.

Judy: So you feel safe at home?

Eleora: Usually unless a shelf falls on me. The last time that happened I was trapped for a week in the basement. Tellias tried to get me out but he isn’t exactly a handyman. We have ghosts in the orchard too but they don’t bother me. They are annoying but I don’t feel unsafe around them. I don’t like them. I don’t have to like them.

Judy: Ghosts?

Eleora: Yes, ghosts. Like dead people ghosts. I saw one in here earlier. He was very sad. I told him to move on into the light and get out of the hospital. Oh, I was going to ask you…earlier a man, I think he was a doctor, he was tall and good looking with black glasses, he said something about me getting a cat scan. I didn’t bring my cat with me. I don’t know why he wants to scan it. The cat isn’t even mine, it belongs to my neighbor. Tellias thought I was having an affair with my neighbor once, or more than once, but I never did. That was upsetting. When we first got together I was ending an affair with a Warlock, and a Selkie. That was a long time ago. It seems like a million years, but I’m not that old.

Judy: How old are you Eleora.

Eleora: My license says I’m twenty one.

Judy: Are you twenty one.

Eleora: Twenty one. I can buy booze. To tell you the truth I don’t know my exact age because nobody was keeping track back then, and of course I was a baby so I didn’t know what was going on. Nobody can remember when they were a baby. Some people say they do, like Witches, but they are telling you big fat lies.

Judy: Do you drink a lot or take any drugs.

Eleora: No drugs. Drugs don’t do anything to me, or Tellias. Not even if someone we have for dinner has been taking them. Funny how that works out. But we drink…sometimes.

Judy: Why were you walking in the middle of the highway?

Eleora: I was on the line. I didn’t want to get lost.

Judy: I understand your car broke down.

Eleora: I ran out of gas. I was going to walk to a gas station when I realized I’d left my keys at home on the table. I have a little red dish I keep my keys in. I got it at Weinstock’s in 1892. It is a shame they closed down. I loved the elevators in the old store. They made so much noise.

Judy: How do you feel?

Eleora: With my fingers. The accident didn’t damage my sense of touch.

Judy: Overall, how are you? Are you in pain? Do you feel sick?

Eleora: I’m fine. I’d like to go home now. Nobody ever visits me anymore except Juliette and she is here right now so I need to go. I need to talk to her about things.  Tellias will worry too much. We’ll make love when I get home and he will feel better. So will I. Where is my dress?

Judy: We might have to keep you overnight. Are you hungry?

Eleora: I’m always hungry. Sometimes I forget to eat. It is usually because I sleep for days on end. Tellias forgets too. Juliette scolds us. She looks after us. I want to see Tellias and Juliette now. Sometimes we get take-out. They deliver it to the door and we always invite the delivery guy in. It is usually a young man. If you call 911 they’ll send good-looking strong young men to your door.

Judy: How much do you sleep?

Eleora: I don’t know because I sleep all the time and really can’t tell when I’m sleeping what I’m doing.

 

Judy came out of the room. I was pretending to look at something on my phone. Tellias just leaned against the wall with his eyes closed, then opened them to look at Judy.

Judy asked Tellias if Eleora had any history of mental illness.

Tellias just said, “She has always been a little bit different. She is a unique and creative soul.”

I closed the door to Eleora’s room and told Tellias to help me get her dressed. And we left. No, we didn’t wait for release papers or permission. We just left.

My car has a sunroof so Eleora insisted I open it to the night sky. She said riding in my car made her feel like a movie star or a Bond Girl. The entire way back she kept asking me why I didn’t visit more. Then she unwrapped the bandages on her arm and looked at the long line of stitches. There were twenty-seven of them.

“They wondered why I wasn’t bleeding. I told them I wasn’t able to get anything to eat because my car had broken down.”

“We’ll stop at Dave’s Bottle Shop. We can pick up a mixed case of blood and a few bottles of wine.”

Eleora dug around in her purse. “I know I have a coupon in here. I’m not mentally ill. They kept asking. I’m fine. I am fine. FINE. FINE. FINE.”

Once we were back at the home of the Elders I lectured both Eleora and Tellias on why Eleora should not be allowed to drive alone. I lectured him about not watching her and letting her wander off alone. I was so pissed off at my brother Val and Grandmama Lola who said they’d help. Where were they?

Eleora curled up on the couch with a blanket and a goblet of blood. “Why did they ask me so many questions? Why was that social worker there? I don’t have any small children. If I did have small children I’d take good care of them. I know how to take care of children. I took care of you and your brothers when you were small. I’ve taken care of children for centuries. Why’d she ask if Tellias hurt me? He would never hurt me. Never.”

“Darling,” I said, “it is their job to ask those questions. They just want to make sure you’re safe.”

About an hour later I was on my way home, along the dark highway, then through the city, and back out to my house by the lake in suburbia.

My husband Teddy and daughter Clara were watching Ink Master. The dog had crapped in the entry again. The cat dashed out the door. Tonight I was too tired to try to get the kitty back inside. I doubt if she’d become coyote food tonight.

I looked out the window at the almost full October moon. The Werewolves would be out in a day or two. I wonder what happened when they ended up in the emergency room. It wasn’t a pretty thought.

This weekend I’ll spend more time with Tellias and Eleora. I’ll try to spend more time with Teddy and Clara. I’d planned on going out of town but I can’t. Not this weekend. It seems I’m on watch. So we cancelled plans to the coast for my late birthday, but I don’t mind.

Sometimes you just have to stop minding. Sometimes you just have to be a better Vampire.

Don’t forget to check in on those who have a hard time taking care of themselves. We all know those who are confused for whatever reason. We all know those who need a little extra help, or just a hug and someone to talk to for a bit. I know it can be frustrating but don’t forget them.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

This post was first published in 2016

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers. 

 

 

Charged Technology, and The Ancient Folks We Love

“Juliette, I am so glad to see you. Were you in the neighborhood?” Tellias took my face in his cool white hands and kissed my forehead.

“No,” I said. “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for three days. Your phones go straight to voice mail. You never check your voice mail. You never check to see if your phones are charged. I was worried about you.”

Tellias said nothing about the phones, took my hand, and said, “Let’s go see Eleora. She’ll be glad to see you. She fell in a drainage ditch out in the pear orchard yesterday. I had to call John next door to come help me get her out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

Tellias gave me that annoyed look one gives children with annoying questions. “We got her out.”

He stood in front of me, his blue eyes looking brighter than usual, his white blonde hair hanging to his shoulders. Today he wore a Hawaiian shirt with big blue hibiscus flowers, and ancient worn out orange plaid Bermuda shorts, and his yellow flip flops.

Tellias and Eleora are old. They’re ancient old. Tellias is well over 2,000 and nobody really knows how old Eleora is. They looks as if they’re about twenty years old, but act like they’re in their nineties. For readers new here, I must explain that they’re Vampires. We all are. I’m the one who checks in on them, just as many of you check in on your elderly, or other family members with special needs and concerns.

Tellias and Eleora live on a farm along the Sacramento River, an hour drive from my home. I grew up running through their orchards, then new, and going to lavish parties at their home. The first house burned down, and was replaced with a lavish Queen Anne style Victorian mansion. But that is neither here nor there right now. They won’t plug charge their phones.

In fact when I saw Eleora, lounging on a couch, in a polka dotted white and navy sun dress, with a pink pilled up sweater over it, she looked at me with sad eyes. Did she mention her fall? No.

She asked me, “Why don’t your brothers or your parents ever call me?”

“Because your phone is never charged and you don’t check your messages, and you don’t even use email anymore,” I said, trying to keep from yelling. “What were you doing out in the pear orchard, by the drainage ditch?”

“I was checking to see if there were any bums out there. They used to camp out there during the depression and they’re still camping along the river. Homeless.”

“What if you had found someone? What if they’d hurt you?” I asked.

“I’m a Vampire Juliette. I would have eaten them and torn their heads off.” Then she and Tellias laughed and then he took her hand and they danced around the room.

“She would have eaten them,” said Tellias.

“Every one of them,” said Eleora.

“Every one of them,” said Tellias.

“And torn their heads off,” said Eleora.

“She found a rake I’d lost about thirty years ago,” said Tellias.

“I told you I’d find it,” said Eleora.

“Glad you did,” I said. I really was. Eleora had been asking about the rake for the past thirty years, non-stop.

“It was rusted out,” said Eleora.

“I figured as much,” I said.

“Rusted out,” said Eleora.

“Has anyone seen my truck keys?” Asked Tellias.

“They’re hanging on the hook in the hallway,” I said.

“Oh. I swore I’d lost them,” said Tellias.

“Swore he’d lost them,” said Eleora.

“Lost them,” said Tellias.

I turned to see both of my kids, and my son’s best friend Randy, standing in the doorway with boxes from the car.

Tellias and Eleora ran over to Clara, Garrett and, Randy covering their faces with kisses and hugging them.

“She found the rake,” I said.

“Oh good,” said Garrett, trying not to laugh.

We fixed iced tea, and cold blood over ice garnished with mint and sage leaves. Eleora showed off her quickly healing bruises and scratches.

Their neighbor John, a handsome man in his 60’s stopped by to say hello and fill in the blanks to the ditch story.

“You should have called me,” I told John.

Of course John said he’d call me next time. There have been dozens of next times he has promised to call me about but never followed through on.

Randy, who as usual, was wearing a vintage shirt from the 70’s with a panoramic scene across the front and back. He and Tellias talked fashion, or whatever it is they think they’re wearing. The more heinous the better is the rule with them. Randy is only twenty three so dressing like a mismatched old man looks cool on him. Sometimes I half expect to see him in sandals and dress socks, or worse red socks and sandals.

Almost twenty year old Clara sat with Eleora and held her hand as they talked about Clara’s transfer to the big university in Southern California that will happen in September.

Garrett and John helped me unpack bottles of Poet’s blood, cans of cat food (for the cat, not for the elders) and various other things I brought over. Tellias, who does most of the shopping often forgets to get things like cat food, and soap, and basic things we all need. When the elders want food they’ve taken to calling deliver services for food (Fill in the blanks. Nice warm blooded folks come to the door…) I have already told them not to call 911 to deliver handsome young sheriff officers for dinner.

I have to tell the elders not to do a lot of things. They never listen to me. Heads are nodded. I love you is said over and over. They smile with a coy hint of fang.

Eleora told Clara and me three more times that my brothers and parents never call her.

Before we left I checked the phone cords and made sure the chargers were put in outlets that hadn’t been switched off. I made sure everything was plugged in all the way and charging.

I reminded Tellias where his truck keys were, and where the other car keys were. I also reminded him to write down a list when he went out, and to even write down where he was going so he wouldn’t forget and drive half way to Timbuktu before he realized he was going to the hardware store for nails or a sprinkler part.

As we drove away, the three young adults and I, we waved to the elders, John, and the cat who all stood on the grand front porch of the beautiful Victorian home.

I was glad everyone was more or less alright, but couldn’t help but feel a little sad, and a little depressed. I always feel a little sad and a little depressed when I leave them. I feel the same way when I leave my house to go there. I feel that way whenever I think about them.

I can’t help it. I guess that is what happens when you love someone so much.

In a day or two I’ll call back. I know the phones won’t be charged. I’ll text John who will tell me he’ll check on it for me, but I know he’ll go over there and they’ll tell him their phones are charged. John will believe them and go home.

One more thought before I go. Summer is here. If you know someone who is elderly or needs extra help, make sure they have their air conditioning on when days reach triple digits. Make sure they’re ok, even if you have to drive that extra five or ten, or twenty miles when they don’t answer their phones. Tell them that you love them. Hold their hands and listen to them repeat the same stories over and over.

Be there.

Because they might be gone one day, even if they’re Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

Frogs, Love, and Hell

I believe I’ve used the frog story before, but I shall tell it again.

Put a cold cast iron skillet on a cold burner on your stove. Gas works best. Place a large, live, cold blooded frog in the center of the skillet. Use a good sized one – 10-12 inches. Turn on the heat ever so low, then gradually turn it up. The frog will sit until it gets blazing hot and it’s feet and belly stick to the cast iron and it is cooked.

This is what happens to people in this heat (we’re expecting over 100 all week and over 110 F on some days). Elderly people and others who are not always aware will sit in the heat like the frog until they cook. They’ll forget to jump out of the pan, or in the case of some folks, forget to turn on the air conditioning or fan. Or they’ll forget to call for help because they won’t realize they need help.

My neighbor and dear friend Kelly came over tonight with a couple of cold drinks (bless her). She isn’t a Vampire like we are. She suspects we’re different but can’t quite put a finger on it. She also has a ghost in her house (yes, that ghost.)

We sat for a while as she told me of her elderly mother and the heat. Her mother forgets to turn on the air conditioner. Her mother obsesses about bad neighbors but will not let her children or helpers put anything over the fence so to keep out the eyes of those bad neighbors. She asked Kelly to come over (it was 110 outside) to cut down a tree. Kelly said no. Her mother doesn’t know what yard the tree is growing in. Kelly tells her not to go outside and check because it is too hot and because she’ll fall and end up in the hospital – again. The same conversation has happened over and over – with a different plant, a hose, a stray cat, an unfamiliar car parked on the street, or something else that Kelly will either have to deal with or talk her way out of.

She wishes her mother would move to a house where she won’t worry about bad trees and bad neighbors and expensive up keep. Kelly has suggested a smaller home near Kelly and the grand kids. It would be nice with all sorts of beautiful features and a lovely garden within walking distance of Kelly’s home. The kids could visit anytime. Her mother refuses. So Kelly must hear about trees and drive to her mom’s to get the mail, and give up her Saturday fun time. Saturday fun time is important for working moms and all moms and busy women who work, and well, it is important for everyone.

She wishes she could travel and do fun things with her mother. She wishes they could talk more of things that are positive and fun – things that are not bodily functions or other unpleasant things that only bring Kelly stress.

Sometimes the heat can suck the fun out of everything. The heat of being a caretaker can do the same. It is exhausting. Especially if the caretaker has children of her own. Kelly told her kids to put her on an ice flow if she ever got to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself. She asked them to shoot her if she ever lost her sense of humor. I gave her a hug. We talked for another house about books we’ve read this summer. We agree that everyone MUST read “Beautiful Ruins.” Then she went home to spend time with her own teenage children (good friends with my kids.)

After slipping on the kitchen floor today on an unknown object and landing on my back, I lay there thinking that I’d better call The Elders. They’re ancient and sometimes don’t use the best judgement.

Eleorna and Tellias, frail and gentle, were fine. Their neighbor had brought over shaved ice flavored with basil and rosemary. God bless him. They remembered to bring their old dog in and give him plenty of water. They didn’t drive today because sometimes they forgot how to turn on the air conditioner and the sun was too bright and they had lost the keys again, so they stayed home. And they turned on the air conditioner in their beautiful 143 year old house and slept in each other’s arms like young lovers.

I’m always afraid that I’ll drop by their house and find nothing but their ashes. I’m afraid someone will take advantage of them. I’m afraid that one day they might be gone and I will have a broken heart that will never go away.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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For more on the elders in my life and dealing with the elderly (with humor or not) see the links below: