Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Sunday I went for a walk late in the afternoon when the shadows were long and the breeze was light. I didn’t have the expectations my walk usually brings. I just needed an escape and some fresh air. Saturday had been a particularly difficult day. My Aunt had spent the night at Mom’s, allowing me the opportunity to spend the night in my own bed. When I came into the house Saturday morning, she whispered to me that Momma wasn’t doing well, she wasn’t talking. I walked into Mom’s room and lay down by her. She gave me her million watt smile but didn’t try to talk. We lay facing each other for several minutes before she croaked out…. “I…. Love…. You….” I tried hard to keep smiling, but found tears broke through the dam instead. When she saw me crying, she frowned and stared beyond me to a place those who have their feet firmly planted in this world cannot see. I wondered aloud what she saw, but got no answer. As strong as I’ve tried to be, in that moment I was scared she would take her last breath before my kids got there or my brother arrived. I sat with her until they arrived and watched her eyes light up as each one walked into the room. She smiled and managed short greetings, but mainly she just stared. During the afternoon we had episodes that have become the norm for Dad and me. It was difficult for them to witness and I could see the helplessness on their faces as she struggled and as Dad and I worked to take care of her. Saturday was a beautiful day and I sat on the porch as each one took time to say what might be their final goodbyes. When the last guest left, I felt completely depleted and anxious about what Sunday would bring. Perhaps by divine design, Sunday was quiet, so I took the opportunity to slip away for a brief walk as she napped. As I got out of the car I was greeted by Soxy the wonder dog. She smiled at me (yes, dogs do smile) as I hit the trail. My heart wasn’t in rhythm with my feet, so my feet slowed to the rhythm of my heart. The walk was more of a meandering through the woods than a walk. I didn’t actually want to be there, I didn’t want to be anywhere, I wanted a deep hole I could bury myself in, until the world passed me by and life returned to normal. When I got to the end of the trail on my first lap, Soxy waited at the end. It has become her habit to let me make the first lap by myself, then she joins me on the others. The minute she pounced onto the trail, I smiled. There are several reasons I love having Soxy walk with me. The main reason is because for a long time she wouldn’t walk with me. She would walk with the guys, she would walk if one of the guys walked with me and once she walked when a girlfriend walked with me, but she wouldn’t walk with me alone. It wasn’t until the bitter cold set in and I still wanted to walk, when she decided it was me or no one. I’m okay at being the last one picked, in fact I’m quite used to it. I didn’t know for sure if she was going to join me until I felt the cold tip of her wet nose as my arms swung back with my gait. Soxy has a system to her walks. During the first part of the trail she walks at my heel, or rather on my heel. Once we reach a certain part of the trail, things become fun. She bounces and prances ahead of me then turns and waits until I catch up. She’ll look over her shoulder as if she is telling me to hurry up; she wants to check something out. Sunday she waited a lot. I love watching her explore different trails and watching her ears as she cocks her head to listen when she hears something rustling in the distance. But mainly I love to watch her prance and bounce and yes, sometimes skip. When Soxy runs ahead, regardless of how long the shadows of my day have been, Soxy and her happy feet make me smile. In a flicker of time all of the burdens seem a little less heavy and the clouds a little less dark when Soxy says… “Let’s Go!”
Thursday, January 16, 2014
8th! Cup of coffee. No wonder he stays wound up. So, the other
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
After his funeral, I remember wondering…. “How on earth do people get through things without a close network of friends?” Maintaining relationships is difficult. Regardless of how much you love someone, (husband, wife or friend), every relationship takes work and there are times, Like after my head injury, when I’ve had to make myself not walk away from everything and every body; It-was-so-much-work! God knows I’ve got my quirks just like everyone does (if you don’t know you’ve got quirks, you’ve probably got more than most), but thank goodness, my friends and family stuck it out, loved me unconditionally through those time. You don’t realize how important your friends are, until you’re at the end of your rope. I believe God allows us to have dark times, not only so we’ll learn to lean on him, but also so we’ll shuck our foolish pride and allow ourselves to lean on others. I know it may sound strange, but it hasn’t been easy to say yes to someone who wants to bring food, or help in some way. It would bother me more if I wasn’t so tired and if I didn’t know how tired Daddy is behind his smile. It’s made me be more determined to be a better friend and to get out of my comfort zone more often, because if I feel like this with such a great network of friends, I can’t imagine how someone who doesn’t have that must feel. I’m feeling pretty blessed by my Others right now, thank God I didn’t decide they were too much work!
Monday, January 13, 2014
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Thursday morning started out much like every other morning this week. I kissed Mom and Dad goodbye and headed for the office. Around 9:30 I received a call from Daddy saying that Mom had fallen. As sick as she is, she still has a stubborn streak a mile wide. She can barely walk, but turn your back for 2 seconds and she is up and running. This time her little rebel trip didn't turn out well. Exactly 1 minute and 8 seconds later I was standing in the hallway, seeing Mom positioned awkardly between the bathroom and hallway. I was frozen in place with absoluetly no idea as to what to do or how to help. Dad had called 911 and minutes later the little hallway was filled with firemen and EMT people assessing the situation. Little did I know this was the beginning of a very bad day. I answered questions, provided documents while the EMTs determined the best way to get her up and to her bed. The fall hurt, but at the time we didn't believe it had injured her beyond what she was already suffering. They finally got her back to her bed and I ushered them out of the house with much gratitude and thanks. The first order of business was to get Mom cleaned up and comfortable. I went into the kitchen to get her medication and poured me up a glass of water while I was at it. Then I went into my room to change into my caregiving clothes. I reached into my suitcase for a pair of my yoga pants and noticed a strange bitterness on my tongue. I stopped and replayed my last steps.... I had poured Mom's medicine into my hand, gotten a glass of water, but did I give Mom her medication? I poked my head around the corner and asked Dad if I had given Mom her medicine. Dad said.... "No, I just asked her if you handed it to her and she said you didn't." alrighty then, in my confusion and haste apparently I tossed back her pain and anxiety medication without realizing it! I put on my caregiving clothes, got her more medicine and began helping Dad get her settled. When she was tucked in tight and cozy, I changed clothes and went back to work where I informed both of my bosses, that I was working under the influence of medication that was not prescribed for me. Oddly enough, neither of them seemed surprised by my mishap, as they live with Jackie mishaps 5 days a week. Having a Jackie moment every now and then is the only thing that keeps our department from being a continual snooze fest. I worked through lunch with a nice peaceful feeling you get when combining pain meds with anxiety meds. I left the office @ 2 to get Mom ready to see her doctor. While trying to dress her, I quickly found that we weren't going anywhere, at least not in my car. Every time we moved her, she cried out in pain. It was hard to determine where or what the new pain was, but it made it impossible for the two of us to move her as usual. We called 911 again. As often as she falls, I assumed a team of EMTs had been assigned to our address. It just makes sense to me that there should be a frequent caller perk, but I found there isn't. Unfortunately, a shift change had taken place between call 1 and call 2, so all of the questions and information had to be asked and answered again. Small houses aren't designed for lots of EMT people and their equipment. After rearranging the house, she was put in the ambulance with me close behind. We arrived at the ER at 3:30. I may not have a lot of positive attributes, but one I do have is patience with medical workers. After working in a medical office for 9 years, I understand that medical people are human just like the rest of us. Around 6 hours later, my peaceful easy feeling, as well as my patience with all people in general had just about reached it's maximum capacity. CT scans showed no fractures, therefore the hospital had no reason to admit her into care. In spite of the fact that she could not get up, even with aide, they were going to send her home.... By ambulance! The medical staff was saved by divine intervention and the fact that I had mistakenly taken my Mom's medication; I promise, that and sheer exhaustion is the only thing that kept me from a volcanic explosion. Dad and I are trying to find our rythmn again and Monday morning I'll set about the task of tackling the medical professionals again.... Until then, this is my life.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
My friends encouraged me it would be a good day and my friends were right. As usual, the day was spent
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
I’m a little behind on my 2013 posts. I’ve been a little distracted lately, but I think with this one, I’ll be all caught up. Last year we began a new tradition with our friends; we went Christmas caroling. We had such a good time we decided to make it an annual event. I LOVE CHRISTMAS CAROLS (okay, I’ll stop shouting now), but I do love them, especially Dean Martin. I wanted to start listening to them in October, but I decided I would make myself wait until after Thanksgiving, then I walked into some co-workers office before Thanksgiving and they were listening to them so I just couldn’t help but to jump on the Christmas Carol bandwagon. If you asked me to name a favorite serious Christmas Carol, I couldn’t do it because there are so many great ones. When I was in high school choir, Carol of the Bells was one of my favorites. I loved it because it had so many parts that crossed over each other, that it was like weaving a intricate tapestry. Mrs. Rose, the choir director, was so poised and beautiful. I remember watching her hands as she directed the song, bringing certain groups in and out, up and down as it would crescendo to a beautiful end. We had to stay on our toes and watch her every move to have it come out right, but it did, and oh boy was it a fun song to sing. The way we our caroling is, each person picks a Christmas Carol and picks who they want to surprise with caroling. Last year, my song was “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”, which I love, love, love!!!! It’s a fun song and it makes me happy, so that’s the song I chose this year too. I know Christmas week is a busy week for everyone. We had some that couldn’t be with us because they were having Christmas early. We had some that wanted to skip caroling because they were stressed, or had to wrap, or a had hundred other things calling out for attention right before Christmas. But, like good friends do, we collectively guilted them with a million text messages, until they were succumbed by peer pressure (peer pressure isn’t always a bad thing). While we were waiting for everyone to show up (or cave in as the case may be), I had to endure peer pressure of my own. SOME people don’t think “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” as a Christmas Caroling worthy song. I beg to differ, oh yes I do, and stood my ground because dang it, I wanted to do a happy fun song! Hey, I was dealing with my own little package of Christmas stress, just like everyone else and when I’m stressed, nothing makes it better than a laugh or a smile. The main complaint was we butchered the song because not everyone knows it (or loves it) as well as I do. Okay granted, many were unfamiliar with it last year because it was our first time to carol, and maybe we do butcher it a little, but no worse than we butcher “Silent Night” which we could sing in our sleep. It’s not like we’re especially gifted in the singing department. We have a couple who can sing, but to my knowledge, none of us have albums out there or people clamoring at our door to open for Mariah Carey. We’re just a motley crew of friends who want to spread some Christmas cheer and if we have a good time doing it, all the better and nothing screams good time like “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”! Our stop was at my parent’s house. I helped Dad get Mom out to the porch then joined the group. They all whispered for me to start us off, but tears were streaming down my cheeks…. “Don’t cry, don’t cry” I told myself over and over, but I couldn’t stop it and I certainly couldn’t start us off because even my speaking voice sounds like a pipsqueak when I’m crying. Finally, someone saw I couldn’t do it, and began the happy tune for me. I never got the tears to stop, but I’ll never forget the sight of them standing there watching our motley crew butcher “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”.
Monday, January 6, 2014
I got off work just in time to take a walk, pick up a birthday cake and order some pizzas. When I went to the store to get a cake, my choices were limited to say the least. They had two cakes that were not frozen; one was a Happy New Year’s cake and the other a Duck Dynasty cake. I just couldn’t see Mom with a Duck
Dynasty cake complete with three bearded men on it. I selected a blank cake that was frozen and had them write… “Happy Birthday Beautiful”. When I got home, I was hurrying around trying to get everything together (including myself), I needed a quick way to thaw the frozen cake without melting it. I knew the oven would melt the icing so the only thing I could think of was…. The dryer. I ran to the basement, put the shoe shelf in the dryer and placed the cake on it. I thought about the plastic cover for about 2.5 seconds before deciding to leave it one because wanted to thaw it, not dry it out even more than a store bought cake tends to be anyway. I turned the dryer on, ran upstairs to change. When I was ready, I went to the dryer and looked inside. The cake was intact, but the cover was not. The cover had shriveled up like a shrinky dink (way back in the day), taking some of the pretty border with it. I took the cake upstairs and pondered over how to fix it. The border that had stuck to the cover was in pretty good shape, so I got a knife and
carefully scraped the border off and put it back on the cake. The cake looked like a finger or two had gotten a good taste of the icing, but that’s totally normal for any cake has been in my hands, so nothing would seem amiss. We feasted on pizza (like it was a roast beasta) and dryer cake. My “Red Aunt”, a name she earned many moons ago when she could still float like a butterfly and sting like a red aunt if you sprayed flocking all over the upstairs bedroom, was ready to get the show on the road because she didn’t want to be out past dark. I asked her if she turned into a pumpkin at dark and she just laughed at me the way she always has (except when her upstairs bedroom got sprayed with a can of flocking). Before everyone left, I got a family photo of this precious birthday memory.
It was a weekend of firsts. Saturday I walked into my parents home to find my Daddy with his hands completely full of Mom. Both my parents are 78 years old and Daddy is the energizer bunny. By 8 a.m., he has had 8 cups of coffee. His energy reminds me so much of my oldest son’s energy. Even when they are sitting perfectly still, there is an aura of energy that penetrates from the core of their being. Maybe I should drink 8 cups of coffee before 8 a.m... I rushed into Mom’s room to help Dad move her. He told me what a rough night it had been. I looked him straight in the eyes and told him he would have no more rough nights alone. Saturday I packed my bags, bid my dogs’ good bye and moved around the corner into my parent’s house. Leaving home was harder than I expected, I suppose it brought the magnitude of the situation closer to home…. Literally. I had done so well up to that point. I’ve had my melting moments, but for the most part I’ve “maintained” a trick one of my good friends taught me. Saturday night I sobbed as I packed my car. I sobbed for Mom, I sobbed for Dad, and I sobbed for myself. We agreed the sleeping schedule would be for me to sleep with Mom on the nights I don’t have to go to work the next day, with Daddy taking the nights I do have to work. I’m in the bedroom next to her so a quick knock will bring help to whoever has night duty. My brother got to visit Saturday. It was so sweet watching him lie with her tell her how much he loved her. She enjoyed the visit and slept well Saturday night. Sunday morning Dad and I were able to get her up and to the table for two bites of breakfast. When we got her back to bed she was exhausted and began to have the worst pain she has had since the night of the surgery. We finally got her pain under control and she slept all day and through most of the night. Dad slept with her last night and they were both awake this morning while I got ready for work. I primped in the mirror hanging on her door so we could chat. Finally I was dressed, had my high heel boots on and was ready to head out the door when I heard Dad’s call for help….. Duty was calling (both at work and at home) but my first priority was lying on the bed. Dad and I have become like a well trained ice skating couple. It’s amazing how quickly you learn tricks of the trade when push comes to shove. Every day we learn a new trick to make the flow a little easier and every day things change which means we keep learning new tricks. I’m the one in charge of getting Mom up off the bed. Dad has a bad back, so I put my arms under moms and tell her to hug tight, then on the count of three I lift and she helps as much as she can. Murphy’s Law indicates that being straight up 8, this wasn’t going to be a quick change and it certainly wasn’t. As I held Mom like a baby, patting her back and trying to make her laugh, Dad did the dirty business. I thought to myself…. “I’ve been here before, except the ones I held in my arms then, was much smaller and didn’t have the sense of humor Mom still has.” Finally everything was as it should be and as Dad tidied up the room I tucked Mom back in bed. I told her I’d see her for a few minutes on my lunch hour and kissed her goodbye. I grabbed my purse and headed for the door when I noticed someone through the frosted glass in the door, trying to get in. I opened the door and barely recognized one of my best friends bundled up in a hoodie holding me a cup of coffee through the crack in the door. Before I had a chance to say hi, she put the coffee in my hand and said… “When you’re bogged down in ugly, remember the beautiful.” We walked to the car, I was a little so shocked at the sweet gesture, I couldn’t say anything except thanks and I love you. She repeated it again and then said…. “I’m going to keep reminding you of the beautiful things while you’re going through this.” I smiled through the tears, got in my car with my perfect cup of coffee, just the way I like it and headed to work. Who knew a perfect cup of coffee could be so beautiful during the most difficult of times? It’s not the big and flashy acts of love or eloquent words wisdom that give me strength; It’s the tiniest act, the slightest notion that someone understands that the journey I’m on cannot be fixed or changed, but can be made bearable by the knowledge that there are better days ahead. The skies will not remain dark forever… Some day soon the clouds will break and the sun (Son) will shine again. Until then, I’m thankful for the prayers of others, encouraging words and a perfect cup of coffee. Life is good, friends are better.