Strange viewpoint from a 50something

Posts tagged ‘love’

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.

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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..

 

 

 

Mom, we’re on our way…

8 hours of driving. Of wondering, speculating, crying, wishing and fearing the unknown. I went straight to the hospital where my brother met me. Never saw this before… the worry mixed with relief on his face. As we walked in, he talked a mile a minute, explaining what I was walking into. We got to her room and I peered in the window. Her frail frame laying in the bed. Angry looking contraption on her face. The tv was on and I kinda hoped she was awake, but she was asleep. Kenny and I decided to find some coffee and check in on her in a bit. Again, he filled me in on everything. Doctors, medical status, her paperwork… it went on. We cried and we laughed and we worried together for the first time in years.
Mom was asleep still when we checked on her again. I was tired. He was tired. So it was decided we would return in the morning. We got to his house and I think we were still a little wound up so we went through some of the paperwork, and the pad of paper he was reading all this overwhelming information from was in his handwriting. He has spent these last few days investigating all the medical aspects and all the legal aspects. The time he must have spent to have so much information! I was quietly impressed, and secretly relieved.
I am nervous as we drive there the next day… how am I going to handle seeing her in such a sad state? How will put on that brave face and not show the fear I feel? Every step closer to her room my feet seem to gain weight.
Deep breath, I walk through the door and there she is… sitting up, no mask with a surprised smile on her face… “well what are you doing here?” I was stunned. Kenny was stunned. Neither of us processing that she seems to be herself. Gosh I was so glad to see her! All that worrying about things unknown. It’s dawning on me, wait a minute, I had come to terms with this in my mind and now what’s this?? A reprieve? Hope? Please?
For a few days now I have seen two things… This woman, my Mom, is willing herself back to what she wants… to go home. But I also she the fear and acceptance of a life lived, of the reality of the end of her life. She knows it’s close.

My sister arrived Friday night from Switzerland. We had a telephone conference with Mom’s main doctor. Very thorough he was. With great respect, he delicately explained exactly where Mom’s health is. The beauty of the last couple days is my lovely Mom has been herself, joking and cuttin’ up. Being the sassy-self she is. The situation is very grim though, regardless of this wonderfully hopeful resurgence. Doctor tells us her choices are she goes into an assisted living facility and her medical needs will always be top priorty, they will use all means necessary to keep her alive, or she can go home with hospice, and ride out the rest of her days. Now, in either scenario, her time is (“I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t truly say how long”) really limited to just months.
After a long discussion between us, we will go in today, surprise her with Karen, and deliver the worse news anyone in any condition will ever be prepared to hear. This is where we have to be the strong adults she so diligently raised.

Wet cement will eventually harden..

I leave tomorrow for St Louis. I don’t know how I will get through today. Strange how I have written many times about how fast time is going by… yet time seems to be dragging along at a snails pace. I know I am clock watching. Hurrying time to speed by so it will be tomorrow. I need to leave… I need to get on the road… I need to see her… I need my Mom.

Every trauma that has ever occurred in my life there was a call made to Mom. Her soothing voice, her sage advice – it was always there for me to rely on. It’s my turn. The trauma is hers this time. She is coming to the last crossroad of her life. Will my voice be as soothing for her? Will I have any advice, sage or otherwise, to help her? In my mind I am coming up short.

I’ve been thinking so much about her life.. all her years. All that she has been through, and barely a whimper from her. Of all the things she has lived through, I think my Dad’s death was the hardest to endure. She was so lost for so many years after. She buried her parents and all but one of her sisters. She beat breast cancer! She has lived with emphysema for the last 15 years. And through all these events she remained independent and fiesty, she is the mainstay of our lives. A quiet woman, she kept mostly to herself in all those years, always thinking of someone else, not much thought for herself. Her giving nature and selflessness is who she is.

The family dynamic has shifted yet again. This time though it is in my direction. How will I ever be the rock that she was? I don’t know what’s in store for the next few days.. weeks.. but I feel my shoulders already drooping from the weight of guilt, remorse and great loss.

I am my Mother’s daughter,  through all these fears and tears, I will find the strength she has always seen in me.

Hurry up tomorrow.

I know it’s a part of life, but..

Ironic that it’s raining as I write today. Dreary and dank… exactly how I feel on the inside. My Mom is in the hospital in St Louis and I am here in Alabama. I just returned from St Louis last Monday and she was admitted on Wednesday. It’s bad. I am squirming like a little kid. Restless and listless. Mind is reaching back for another time while it’s also racing forward into the future of unknowns.

She has to wear a breathing mask 24/7. Communication with her is difficult in person, so I haven’t spoken to her directly. I am not doing so well with all this. Most of me wants to drop everything and drive back to be close to her. My job and a lack of funds keep me here until it is a necessity that I be there. Both my siblings are there currently, but my sister returns to her home tomorrow… so that leaves my brother to shoulder most of the stress.

For all the preparation you might do for this..  enevitable… YOU WILL NEVER BE READY!! Heart is heavy with those thoughts of being without her. Most days spent in a kidlike denial that everything’s gonna be ok. The sibs and I have had a few discussions in the last couple days that we have never talked about before –  not to each other, all together, at one time. So this it is becoming real.

I do know the last 5 visits to see her, the decline has been visible to the eye, she struggled more just moving around. Each drive home spent thinking, was this the last time I will see her? Now, she is not in danger of dying right away, but what is happening is not good. I am going to have to grow up and deal with this event without falling apart. My most independent Momma will likely NOT be able to live her life at home alone. She will be very angry when she understands this fact. I, along with the sibs, will have to make very uncomfortable decisions.

I love her. Damn this sucks.

 

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?

love is such a crazy thing…

the boundaries that we will cross for it…

the things we will do for it…

we try so hard to achieve it…

 

I have several friends that are in emotional turmoil. Some who are coming to terms with unsatisfying relationships. Others who will do anything to hold on to something that just isn’t there anymore. I see all of them questioning their every move, every thought, every action. I want to scream – sometimes it’s not about you!  When a partnership fails the first thing we do is find fault with ourselves. Why? Maybe it was the other persons issue, maybe it was just bad timing, maybe the stars weren’t aligned right… who the hell knows? But one thing for sure is we spend so much time in self analyzation that we don’t see that there may have been another side to it.

Acceptance is the key word. Acceptance of ourselves and who we really are, or acceptance of the other party and their baggage.

When I met Del, we were both in such fallen places. Disillusioned. Whooped. I had come out of a 10 year relationship with a man who drank heavily. I married him anyway. Twice. I tried to live a life that didn’t fit me. I tried to be someone I am not. Love be damned. I wasn’t going to take it anymore. On my own nearly a year, I came to understand who and what I am. I am flawed. I grow older. Del was in his own place dealing with a woman who he was considering ‘settling’ for. For the most part they got along, but underlying personality glitches made for an uneasy future. He is flawed. He, too, grows older.

First time I’ve ever been so honest at the beginning of a friendship. We just layed it all out. Our beliefs, our downfalls, our strengths, our insecurities. What did we have to lose? We talked about what we’ve had, what we have and what we want.  We talked about our pasts and our futures. I felt many things at once.. relief, embarrassment, pride, shame, but mostly (and most importantly) I felt acceptance and love.

Don’t misunderstand. We still have issues. But for the very first time, in any relationship I’ve been in, I have complete confidence that he and I will overcome anything that comes our way. I’ve never experienced that before. I think that comes from knowing that there is nothing I have to hide. Nothing I have to explain later. He knows me. He accepts me. Finally. No games. No bullshit. I truly hope that Del is as secure in this as I am. I know him. I accept him as he is. He is a mess. But then so am I.

I said not long after we met that neither of us is perfect, but we are perfectly matched. And so it goes… love is such a crazy thing…