Taking Care of Our Elders: A Place Between The Night and the Day

Now is a time we all need to take special care with our elders/seniors and others who need extra help. 

I am running a Taking Care of Our Elders Marathon. These stories are about my elders Eleora and Tellias, but I know many of you will be able to relate. 

From 2013

A Place Between the Night and the Day

Yesterday a call came in. A small whispery voice, like old tissue paper that had once wrapped up lace and flower petals said, “We can’t find Ginger.”

The conversation continued, or I attempted to continue it. I asked where they’d seen Ginger last and if they’ll looked everywhere. But I got the same answer. “YOU have to come. We can’t find Ginger.”

Ginger is an old dog. She is some sort of medium sized Lab and Golden mix with a few other breeds in there. One day 15 years ago she showed up starving and dirty on the Elder’s farm. She was grown even then and seemed middle aged. Like her owners, Ginger is ancient and confused.

The elders are Tellias and Eleora, two ancient Vampires who aren’t even sure how old they are. He met her when he went to Britian with the Roman Army. That was a while back. Theirs was a story of sweeping epic romance, but now, they were calling me to find their old dog.

I brought the kids with me, 17 year old Garrett and 14 year old Clara. When we arrived, they, the Elders were along. The early morning air was filled with smoke from forest fires in the hills. Eleora was afraid of smoke, so she was out of sorts even more than usual. Back in the days of burning rice fields she’d leave town for the coast.

When we arrived Tellias came out to greet us in an old black tux with no shirt underneath the jacket and bare feet. His blonde hair was covered by an old pith helmet. Eleora wore a halter style sundress out of some ugly brown and yellow batik fabric and red cowboy boots. She carried a large butterfly net and a green glass bowl of dog biscuits. Despite their age and frailties they look as though they can’t be much older than 20.

And it is my job to take care of them and make sure they’re safe and have what they need. It is my job to make sure they don’t do stupid things.

My children and I were showered with hugs and kisses. They usually sang songs to us when we arrived, but this time is was all about finding Ginger.

We searched high and low for Ginger. We called. But no answer.

“We’ve looked everywhere,” said Tellias.

“Everywhere,” said Eleora.

“Everywhere,” whispered Tellias.

So we all searched and called more. After taking a break from dog searching, cleaning up, fixing a few things, and throwing in some laundry that had piled up, we sat down for a few moments. There was a click click click on the floor and we turned to see Ginger looking at us with big brown eyes.

We have no idea where she’d been, but we were glad that she was back. She is covered in hugs and kisses. All is well.

It had been a long week with my work, the kids starting school, my husband’s activities and looking after the Elders. Some say don’t sweat the small stuff but it all seems the same. There is no small stuff or big stuff – just stuff. But it is my stuff. It is my choice to be the one who manages all the stuff and take care of stuff and deal with stuff.

It isn’t that I love the stuff, I love the people who bring the stuff to me.

And in the early mornings between the night and the dawn I am left alone to my own stuff, or what I can clear out of my head and heart. I walk the trails near my house under the oaks, on the edge of the bluffs over the water. I can hear the first birds of the morning and see the last bats of the night. The deer, coyote and bobcats walk at a distance and sometimes let me see them in their own world. The squirrels jump through the trees like crazed acrobats.

I think of everything and nothing. I think of things that I don’t have time to think about when I’m looking for old dogs, lost socks, and lost souls.

My mind wanders the hills far beyond where my feet take me. Sometimes I see ghosts, but even they know not to bother me in my Vampire reveries.

At that place between the night and the day.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

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