Taking Care of Our Elders: Remembering, or Maybe Not

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 and tell her about my garden and my children. 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

Short Story Sunday: Dream a Little Dream

Damn. What a night. Fighting demons and their fucking friends. Max rarely even thought of using four letter words but tonight was a swear night. Even as an alpha Vampire to top all alpha Vampires he was exhausted, and away from home.

The only saving grace was that he’d been not far from his fiancé’s house by the beach. He looked forward to falling asleep in her arms to the sound of the waves.

She wasn’t home. Damn. He let himself in as the sun started to light up the morning sky. 5:00 a.m. Where was she?

Max stripped off his clothing and threw it into the washing machine. Then he fell onto her bed. Damn it felt good. She said she’d gotten new bedding but this was amazing. He never understood Vampires who slept in coffins and crypts.

Falling into a deep sleep the dreams came in waves…

“I’m smarter than everyone in this room. They’re all idiots,” said Archibald Fontaine.

What is that blow hard doing here? Thought Max. He couldn’t stand the pompous ass. Archi was the last Vampire he’d want in his dreams.

Then Archibald Fontaine leaned forward and kissed Max on the mouth.

Max backed off. “It is over Archi.”

Then he was jolted into a dark passageway. Sadness overwhelmed him. He had never felt so alone. A cat started to follow him, then two, then three, then five.

The dream jumped to another location. This time a house. His house. She lay on his bed in silk tap pants and a silk bra, both in pale pink. He kissed her neck and brushed it with his fangs. He wanted to tell her that he loved her but he didn’t. Or did she want to tell him?

He was at a party. It was the 1916. He heard her voice I haven’t thought about him in years.It was a lie. She thought about him all the time. A wolf howled in the distance. It was a Werewolf.

He sat on a chair pulling off the silk stockings he’d worn the night before. Red peep toe shoes were on the floor in front of him along with a flowered dress.

Max had never worn a dress. Not even on Halloween.

Max opened his eyes and looked into his own face next to him in bed. His eyes were brown, then the color turned to hazel, then back to brown. He smiled at himself and pulled himself close in an embrace.

Then he woke in a jolt. This was too weird. What had those demons done?

Mehitabel stood by the bed. “Hey baby.”

“Hey,” said Max.

He reached out his hand to her. She sat on the edge of the bed and gently kissed him.

“The new bedding is nice. Love the pillows. But oh man, I’m having weird dreams.”

She smiled and stroked his hair. “Memory foam,” she said.

“What?”

“Memory foam. You’re sleeping on my pillow silly.”

Then she undressed and got into bed beside him, but not before she gave him his own pillow.

~ end

Poetry, Ghosts, and Vampires

He told me that he loved

The warm breeze on his face

The smell of pine trees

And water on granite

The sounds of nothing but the woods.

Then he vanished

Never to be seen by me again.

He was my best friend,

Falling 

Then gone.

Now I am the Ghost and he is gone to me.

——————-

The Ghost gave me a little bit of a smile with a cold chill that went with it. “I like how you wrote that down for me, all poetic like. You know, my story and your simple words.. You have a talent of making a complicated story simple in sort of a bad free verse way. I like it. The fact that you’re a Vampire doesn’t even figure into it.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment Nigel.” I told my Ghost.

When one lives in the presence of a Ghost you do things for each other, like write down verse and banter about life and death and more so the in-between areas where we exist.

“I’ve really missed him,” said Nigel.

“I know,” I told him, “I know.”

We talked of the woods, rock climbing, long-lost friends, and of course what we’re doing for Halloween. Just like normal folks, then again, this is normal… at least for me. You know, poetry, Ghosts and Vampires.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

First posted here in 2014

Exploring the Wonders

Exploring the Wonders

They grow

And explore

The wonders

Of the universe

If we let them.

Then they explore

The wonders of

their hearts

and imagination.

 

All children should be allowed to explore, beyond the world of their parents. We should be their guides, but give them the freedom to take that extra step to discover something new. If your child learns something new 9 times out of 10 you’ll learn something new.

Listen and learn from your child. You’ll know what they learned in school and what they did after school. You’ll know about their friends. You’ll know about those who aren’t so friendly to them. They keys to talk to them, talk with them and listen to them. Never take a one world answer. Make them talk. They’ll thank you for it later.

The sun is just coming up over horizon and the sky is turning pale gray and whites and blues. It is that strange in-between time for just about most creatures. Werewolves are turning back into their own skin. Vampires are thinking of going to sleep. Regular folks are getting up for work. This is my time to write when all is quiet. Quiet is a rare thing for a mom.

Summer is in full swing and I wonder how my kids will remember their childhood and teen years.  I hope that the memories they take with them are of the times we spent together talking and just being together. I hope the memories will be of ideas and discussions.

I hope those ideas and discussions will never end.

 

  • Talk to your kids
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay safe
  • Don’t be a dick (be nice)
  • Science is real
  • Check on those who are old or at risk. Summer is hot. The pandemic is real. Make sure everyone is OK.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman 

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: Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon

Memories, the lost of memories, old stories, more on my idiot brothers, and love.

From 2015

Love in the dark, and in the light that always shines

Eleora couldn’t remember what she did yesterday, but she could tell stories of her childhood in excruciating detail. My daughter and niece sat next to her, holding her small hands in theirs. They looked like three young women about the same age. My Clara is 16, Lauren is 21 and Eleora is, well, nobody knows how old she is. We know Eleora is over 2,000 years old but no exact number has ever come out.

The girls heard stories their parents and grandparents had never heard. These were ancient lost tales that she’d hoarded until she found the right audience.

Tellias, her husband, told the girls to watch if they went outside. Eleora might wander off on her own and not find her way back.

He watched the woman he loved, his eyes filled with pain. Sometimes I’d see a rare bit of anger. Of course there is always love, but with that more often than not pain and frustration.

This was Sunday. We’d all gathered at my brother Aaron’s for our mother’s birthday. All four of my brothers were there (Max, Andy, Aaron and Val), as well as the elders Tellias and Eleora, Aaron’s grown children Logan and Lauren, Great-great-great-great Grandmama Lola and her friend Cody, and our friend Pierce. My husband Teddy and Aaron’s wife Verity were there playing host and hostess as they sometimes do. And of course our parents Jeremy and Samantha.

More friends were to come later at this gathering at Aaron and Verity’s home. Of course we’re all Vampires. It would seem weird to bring anyone else in.

This isn’t like the movies and horror stories where we bring in virgins and babies to feast on. Of course there is blood, but we have it in wine glasses (not big red cups.)

I stood outside under the stars with Tellias and my brother Max.

Max put his hand on the elder Vampire’s shoulder. “Eleora isn’t all there anymore is she?”

“I believe she is there. She just is a bit disorganized. You know, when you can’t find the mates to your shoes and you are walking on a bed of nails so you just hop on one foot and hope you don’t fall. But if you fall it will be into a burning pit of lava. Then you look down and notice your pants are gone and your socks don’t match,” said Tellias. “You need to come by and see us more often Max.”

“I know,” said my brother.

“Nobody knows how long Vampires live. Most of us don’t make it this far given the dangerous nature of our existence. Don’t take your chances. Your day could be tomorrow. Eleora’s could be tomorrow. We never know. But no need to get depressed, none of us are going anywhere for a while. We’ll be around for plenty of birthdays to come. But the more you and Juliette and the rest of you come around the easier it will be for Eleora to straighten out the mess in her mind.”

The three of us stood there for a few seconds. Then Max gave Tellias a hug and walked down into the yard under some trees. I watched him as he took out his phone and made a call.

“He is calling her, isn’t he? He should have made that call fifty years ago,” said Tellias. “The boy never seemed to understand love, even at his age he still can’t.”

I had to smile. Even at the age of one hundred and sixty-six Max still is just starting to understand that ships that pass in the night sometimes never pass each other again.

Tellias took my hand and gave it a squeeze. “I appreciate everything you do for us.”

“I know.” I said. I looked into his crystal blue eyes, in a face that looked no older than nineteen. To think that he had lived in ancient time didn’t seem all that strange most of the time. He’d kept up. They both had. That is what kept Tellias and Eleora young. Nobody would ever have expected them to dry up in a crypt or become ghouls living in shadows. Then again, they gave so much love that the cold dark places the put fear in men’s hearts didn’t touch them.

So stay young. It is easy if you love and let love in. Even if you’re a Vampire. And even if you’re not.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman