Strange viewpoint from a 50something

Posts tagged ‘life’

Momma…

She’s gone.

I don’t know that I have processed it fully. My brother called me this morning to let me know she died in her sleep. I was not prepared for the news. My greatest fear has now been realized. I will not see her again in this life. My heart is heavy, those feelings of love and hurt are so thick.

After about a hundred phones calls and 3/4 box of tissues, it has been decided I will return to St Louis tomorrow. My sister is due to fly in Thursday. There’s not much else for us to do at this point, except be together. My Mom’s wishes were very clear and easy. She did it that way for us. So, we will get together as siblings and we will cry and we will remember and we will cry some more. Our time there will be limited so the task of taking care of her things… ugh… I can’t even fathom. But it has to be done. And by us. Together. Just like she wanted.

I looked at myself in the mirror a while ago.. the older me on the outside shows the signs of hours of crying with puffy eyes and a pink tissue abused nose. And deep in my eyes… I saw my little-girl self looking back asking, “what’m I gonna do now?”

Living While Dying..

I’ve spent the last week tending to my Mom. The time has been fun and easy, as she is such a good soul. She doesn’t require much ‘babysitting’, in fact she hates the hovering! Still the most independent person I know, she insists things go her way. And as restricted as she is, she wants the last word!! Haha!! The most that I have been doing is cooking her meals and making sure her coffee maker (which is positioned next to her bed) is ready to go for the next day.

We had a visit yesterday from one of her doctors. (Who knew some still make house calls!?!?) I found out after he had left that it wasn’t a doctor/patient visit… he came and sat with my Mom as a friend. I am… overwhelmed. This man took time out of his day and came to her home, and just visited. And when he left… he hugged my Mom. In this day and age, any doctor who takes a personal interest (like this housecall) in their patients is so very rare. And you could tell, as they interacted, that his concern was genuine.

In 90% of her mind she is sure that this way of life will not last long… (and I am NOT talking about her anticipating her death here!) she is determined to live life on her terms! She truly believes that she will work herself back to life lived alone. I love her spunk and determination.. even if she tires easily she still wants to do it herself. Currently she can only move herself from bed to bathroom, and back again. Or from bed to her chair in living room. Now these excursions are not more than 10 to 15 ft, but it takes a good 10 minutes for her to recover.. the air use to just move that little bit of space overloads her very damaged lungs. She is such a trooper though… still believing that she can bring herself back. From where I sit, I don’t see how she can recover from all the damage, but I do see a woman who has great hope and faith. Talking to my sister by phone, we came to the same conclusion… it’s because of that hope and faith that she is doing as well as she is. Had she gone into some sort of care facility or senior home, she would have already given up and died. But being at home, in her own environment… that’s made the difference.
The other 10% of her mind is spent thinking of all the things she wants everyone to have. Out of the blue she will direct me to something stashed somewhere in her huge house and tell me to get it out and give it to ______ (insert name here). Nothing found is super important.. (bows for my daughter?!) but to her it’s very important! While I’m here, any request to do anything will be fulfilled. No matter how insignifigant it might seem to me, if she asks I will answer.

The funny thing about all this is the term – “death watch”. The sibs and I were told that she is going to die. The doctor explained that she didn’t have long to live. But the more I think of that.. the more I realize how stupid it is. Death watch. We are all on it. And not just for other people but for ourselves as well. (I remember when I was young and I finally understood what death meant… damn I was mad!! In my little girl mind I just kept coming back to one thought… why would people bring children into this world knowing that the end result is death? How unfair!!) So what makes this different? We are all going to die. So because of Mom’s unique situation, we are suppose to sit around and wait for her death? My Mom isn’t. And what am I learning? That I won’t either. Her inspiration is so very strong and I hear it loud and clear!!

What a turn of events… this living while dying thing.

When there’s a way.. the will isn’t far behind,,

I am a few days away from returning to St Louis. My Mom has found a new wave of life to ride. So much more restricted, but she lives on. In talking to both my siblings, I’ve learned that she is even being left alone for a couple hours at a time!! I know my Mom has been insisting on this… to go from ~happy she lives by herself to having one of us there 24/7~ I can only guess that she is rejoicing in the quiet! I’ve spoken to her on the phone and when you’re not there, you picture in your mind what you want to see. So in my mind, she is her old -I-can-do-it-myself- Mom. In reality though, she is doing well, she’s found a new routine for her day, with very little movement involved. Her voice sounded tired this last chat I had with her… but her scrappy attitude is still intact!!

I am back in the state of worry I was in when I came home a couple weeks ago. The situation has not changed. It’s still the same reasoning. I am there to watch over my Momma. To take turns with my siblings, to wait an undetermined amount of time until she dies. This ticks me off. So not fair. If there is one thing I have learned… life is not fair. In fact, it’s harsh as hell. But the small sliver of bright in this muck is that I can still talk to her. All my life I have told Mom things, I have confided in her, shared more with her than most women do with their Moms. She has always been my go to girl when it comes to advice. I find it difficult to see my life without her ear and her words.

During the 10 days I was there before, so much time was spent learning how to care for and deal with my Mom as she loses her battle with emphysema. Hospice had multiple visits to acclimate us to all her needs now and in her short future. These days there is a new flow to her day that I will fall into. A routine for me to learn and be a part of. For 2 weeks I will have downtime that I cannot find in my real life. With my erratic schedule (thank you AltasAir!) I have no normal type of daily ritual. Time to do things always seem to be interrupted by something or other.

So for me to just…. sit. And…. wait.

I will enjoy all the days I have remaining with her. I will tell her all the dramas I have always told her about… I will tell her the secrets I tell only my momma.. I will share my latest craft idea which will invoke an idea that she will share with me.. I will share the funniest things I can come up with to hear her laughter..

I will..

I will..

I will..

I will find all the will I will need.

Before I get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so life resumes…

My Mom is at home, and she is stable, after a week with her and not seeing any decline in her health, it was time to peel myself away from the situation and return to my life. I’ve missed Del. I’ve missed my job, my friends. I returned home to Alabama. The drive was long, filled with memories and tears. What if I never hug and kiss her again? The ‘what if’s’ ravaged my mind the entire ride.

Now that I’m home, I am overwhelmed. There is so much to get back to but I just can’t find the motivation. I feel lost. My mind is in St Louis. Busy worrying about the one thing I cannot change. It felt good to go back to work, the activity of moving around is a mood lifter. By the time I finished for the day, I was so physically whooped. Seems it just doesn’t matter though, my mind is still at full throttle. My sweet Mom, her independent spirit is still very much alive! Her will to control what is happening is there, but it’s just not working like it used to. I kissed and hugged her before I left. My last image of her was the helplessness and the fear of waiting I saw reflected in her eyes. How can I stop thinking about it??

I am proud that my sibs and I have come together to make sure she knows one of us will be with her until and at the moment. We three worked out a schedule where we will each be there to help take care of her. Even though hospice is involved, their time with her is limited until her health really declines. I have been home almost a week and the phone calls I’ve had with her – Mom sounds so amazing!! I know she is more restricted than she has ever been, that will never change. How can we possibly be waiting for such a thing as her death? The doctor told us to expect it soon. She doesn’t have much time… but to talk to her, it just seems unreal. She said to me today that she wants to know how much longer. How do I answer that???? And if all this is hard on me, what must it be doing to her?

She has been the one we have relied on for guidance and love. Where do I find the guidance I need to help her through this? Is my mind trying to deny her condition? Is it how I am able to function day to day without my mind taking me where I don’t want to go? This is not how it’s suppose to be! The little girl in me is stomping around and kicking up a fuss..

 

 

 

The words have been said.

Last year when I hit the guardrail and came out unscathed… I knew how lucky I was. I’ve spent alot of time pondering death. Death in general as a subject is interesting. But thinking about my own death has had a strange effect on me. The idea of the world going on without so much as a blink of an eye the minute I die. The mark that remains on those I leave behind will fade after a time and next thing you know… we’re a few generations down the road, and long forgotten. After all is said and done, I know one thing. I am afraid to die.

With heavy hearts we start our day. Meeting at Kenny’s, we hug and the feeling of sadness is thick. We have hashed and rehashed how we think the conversation will go and how she will take it. Each of us thinking different scenarios, because we each see someone different. She is our mom, and though she raised us with the same values and rules, she had a special way with each of us indiviually. Each child with their own dreams and dramas, their own set of problems and their own relationship with Mom.

We asked Kenny’s wife Tammy to go with us. She and Kenny have been married for 20 years, so she is as much a part of this as we are. When we arrived we peeked through the window of Mom’s room, to see if she was with anyone and she was eating lunch. We decided to let her eat, it’s just not the time to tell her such news. So we sat in a waiting area with some chairs and a tv. We finally get our collective will rolling only to come to a sudden stop! Alot of nervous energy floating around and the waiting was nerve racking, so we decide to go to the cafeteria. This was, by far, the best thing for us… all those butterflies needed calming. And there’s nothing like a snack to take the edge off.

After a bit we headed straight to her. Karen going first she walked right up to Mom and kissed her and hugged her. It took a minute for Mom to realize it was Karen, who had just left to fly home. As we all hug and kiss her the questions begin pouring out… what the hell? We four pull up chairs around the bed and slowly we begin explaining. The flow of conversation was smooth and we laid it all out. She sat and listened and interjected occasionally. And then it was quiet. Only the sound of tissues dabbing wet eyes.

There she sat. She said many things, wanted to know this… wanted to know that. The thing that stands out to me is her courage. She teared up but she didn’t cry. We asked her to think about the options that we presented, that there was no pressure for her to make any quick decisions. We could see that she was running out of steam… so we suggested she rest and we’d be back later.
Hugging and kissing her as we left, I felt my heart heavier now than when we came in. I just kept thinking about how if it were me, how would I handle sitting there thinking about news like this? Would I cry? Would I be angry? Would I be resigned?
We returned later in the evening and she was doing well. Her old spunky self. She asked a few more questions and my heart just broke. With all we presented her, I’m not sure if she is really grasping the gravity of it all. We’ve had a few days to absorb all this information and here we are, watching her weighing her only two options.
I don’t know what’s in store for us as the next few days unfold. I only know that I love her, and I don’t want her to feel the feelings I feel when I think about my own death. I would like to think I have many years left, death is an unknown, but I am not faced with my own immediate demise because my body is failing. I don’t want to her to face this choice at all… she’s my Momma.

Baby lotion and skinned knees… those were the days =)

The patter of tiny feet. Wispy baby hair tickling my nose as I cuddle them in my arms. The big eyed wonder of their child minds grasping knowledge of something. I have been knee deep in these feelings for the last few days, as I am caring for a good friend of mines granddaughter.

Cora Mae is 16 months and full of little girl LIFE! She has embraced me as a caretaker and I am flooded with feelings I haven’t felt in so many years. (And how strange, yet appropriate, my youngest child – Kyle – today! – just happens to be his 26th birthday, my baby is 26!! ugh.) ((Happy Birthday Squirt!!))

If you know anything about me you’ll know that I didn’t want to have kids, until they happened to me. I’ve known parents who were born to be outstanding role models. I didn’t think I fit into that category. And in spite of the chaotic lifestyle I lead, my kids turned out great! These couple days, I have had the pleasure of being transported to back then ~ when my kids were small and depended on me for everything. The structure (albeit tilted), the love, the physical closeness of their little bodies laying on me, those funny faces, the sheer joy in their eyes, the little kid laughter that only a child possesses, the little arms hugging my neck with all their might, the whispered i love you momma…’s, gosh that time is gone. I have only memories and a few pictures of that childlike innocence. The unconditional love of my children. Shelby and her big brown eyes… my sweet Booboo. Kyle and his blonde curls…  my little protector. Those two special little faces right in front of me… bumpin’ noses… laughin’.. kissin’… huggin’… snugglin’. I loved them. I still love them.

My kids are grown and have lives and kids of their own. But that doesn’t change how I am connected to them. In my mind they are still the tiny creatures I nurtured into adults. Life isn’t fair… couldn’t they have stayed smaller just a little longer?