Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday Night

It's late, but here I sit, sipping a cup of coffee. Full strength. And it's good. The last few days have been very nice...no big problems. Even work is swimming along. My horoscope (smiles) actually told me that the ship is finally coming in after a long period of rocky weather, and that I should get used to stability, for a change. Hey, it was the best horoscope I've ever read, and although I truly don't put any stock in those, it's one that I want to believe. SO - I will.

Saturday was my birthday, and to celebrate, I got out of the house. I did. The plan was to stay out for the entire day, and that's almost exactly what happened. There's a whole big world outside of these walls! I had almost forgotten...we went to some yard sales, to the habitat store where we found a lovely fall painting that was 75% off. Soon, it will hang in the living room. We found books for the smallest grandchildren. We went to a health fair where my daughter and I both won door prizes, socialized a little bit and had a great time. And...as a treat for having been so good, we had tiramisu after dinner. Not too much! Just enough to appreciate decadence and the feeling of indulgence it brings. We all need that, once in a while.

On a somber note, I found out Bert passed away this past summer. She was a pistol, a wonderful lady who had a big heart. Godspeed, Ladybug. It was a privilege to have met you in this locationless space.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Holy Cow, the chandalier is shaking! Pardon me while I ramble. I don't talk much during the week.

Ft. Bragg is apparently bombing in my back yard this morning - there just came a boom that made me duck, and also made me rethink the chandalier. If they continue to have exercises like this, I'm taking it down, lest it crashes on my head.

Good Saturday, Journal. I am behind in my housework, down to clothes I can't wear in the closet, and hiding in doorways, lest all the bombing should bring down the ceiling. The good news is, the dishes are soaking, the washer is agitating the dirt out of my laundry, and it isn't cloudy out, so the war games across the railroad track shouldn't shake the pictures off the wall. I just hope the participants don't shoot a shell the wrong way.

I met with a nutritionist yesterday. She says all I need to do is balance the carbs a little bit more. All this health is killing me - ophthalmology on Monday, mammogram on Friday, but you know what...it's worth it. My glucose is at least in a safe range, now, and I have lost ten pounds since August. It is amazing what simple changes have wrought. Exercise is the hardest, though. I can't seem to make myself do what needs to be done. A friend from work has generously agreed to walk with me during lunch. We don't get far (my fault), but my muscles are cursing me and my back is threatening to go on strike. Getting older is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it sure beats the alternative.

I am trying to be more upbeat. The last thing people want to do is hang out with Sad Sally.

We have a new clinical social worker at work, and there is something about her that makes me smile. She seems so serene, but at the same time, you can tell her wicked sense of humor is just below the surface. I like it! and can't wait to get to know her better. First impressions can be misleading, but...I think this one could be a lot of fun.

For some reason, I have always been drawn to the CSW's. First, there was Libby, whose eyes are solemn and wise, like an old country woman. Full of spit and vinegar, she was - and is. She retired several years ago. I admire her for so many reasons - her soft heart, her toughness, her willingness to unabashedly advocate for her clients. No, that wasn't willingness. That was just her nature. And everyone was her client, not just those on the roster. Libby is a force to be reckoned with, and a natural giver. Retirement has been no vacation for her. She continues to give, and volunteers at the Coalition, which provides for people in need.

Anyway...I don't think we're ever too old for role models. Now that I have time hanging from hands that were once so full...well. Now they're too empty. I'm thinking it's time to fill them again. Maybe Libby needs help at the Coalition, or perhaps I can find another organization that could use an extra hand.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little reflection, a little looking toward the future.

They came for Mom's hospital bed. I truly didn't think it would affect me the way it did. The room looks so empty. And I felt the way the room looks. I almost cried, but couldn't squeeze more than a few tears.

I don't know why. Perhaps it's because the last few years have called for so many tears I just don't have a lot left. How dramatic is that statement. It's true, though. I have grieved, as we all have, and have experienced anticipatory grief for Mom for more than a decade. I feel good that I could spend the last two years of her life with her. Once, she told me - "You're sweet. I always thought you were hard to get along with." Well...Mom wasn't far from wrong, but she and I spent a lot of time together not as mother and daughter. She was my employer until I was thirty-six, and maybe I was difficult because waitress was not my life's goal.

But we became close as the years went on. And we were even more so, the longer we lived together. She often remarked, "We get along so well. Did you ever think we would be living together again?"

I cooked in Mom's kitchen tonight. And later, as I was cleaning the mess I made, something came over me that had nothing to do with grief, and a lot to do with remembering.

Mom's sisters, whom she loved so much. The weekend canasta fests, when they all drank diet coke and laughed, called each other "hussey!" when one built a better hand than the other. They had so much fun! ... and I was the fly on the wall, or an observer on their periphery, taking it all in. They were my exposure to what a close family really is. They had so much love, and we loved being near them.

They're all gone, now, hopefully reunited in the proverbial much better place. I hope so. And tonight, for the first time, it occurred to me that it's time to step up and assume the role left to me.

I want to be happy. And I am...more than that, I want to leave the sisters' legacy for my children and grandchildren. I want them to have good times, laughter and love to remember and pass on to their own families, one day.

A few weeks before Mom went to the hospital, she and I were talking, about noise. She said it didn't bother her, and I agreed, saying noise - the kids, the tv, etc, were sounds of living. She watched me intently as I was talking, and she smiled. She would have wanted me to carry on. She would have wanted us to be happy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Challenges

Last week, I took the plunge and made an appointment with a doctor. I did this after my brother was diagnosed with diabetes the previous week. And I had felt so...wrong, bad...over the past few months that, on a whim, I took my own blood sugar level. It was 287. I was horrified.

The doctor's appointment confirmed what I already knew, and I'm ok with it. There's a very good chance that I can eventually come off the medication and control the diabetes with diet and exercise. What bothered me is, my daughter was diagnosed the same day I was. That is not ok.

She isn't handling it well, probably because she's confused about what she can and cannot eat. She has had a rough couple of months, and she is afraid because she knows her Grandmother's diabetes contributed to her death.

So for the next while, my new mission is to make sure she - and I - do what we need to do to face this disease head-on and control it.

Maybe I have more purpose, after all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I hardly know how to begin this...

But it's important to write, for myself.

On September 5, my mother died. She had been in the hospital for two weeks. She had her 75th birthday there. The doctor allowed her to have fried chicken chimichangas for her birthday meal. The Monday after that, she went into respiratory arrest, and was rushed in for an emergency cardiac cath.

Amazingly enough, it wasn't her heart. I could list a litany of treatments she was subjected to after her cath, emergent dialysis, life support...

On the one hand, I am furious with the hospitalist who talked her into rescinding her DNR. She would have gone peacefully the day she had the cath, but no. She never really woke again, that I could tell. I visited her, I talked to her, rambling on about ordinary things that seemed so trivial in the face of her grave situation. We held her hand, we smoothed her hair back. We prayed, sang to her. Told her it would be ok. And there is the other hand. We had time to say goodbye, and know it was right to let her go. We told her it was okay, if she was too tired to fight anymore. We told her we would be all right.

And she went. I wasn't there; the hospital didn't call me, and neither did my brother. I tell myself that the important thing is, she was not alone at the end. I tell myself I couldn't have taken watching that beautiful spirit take her leave of this world.

I don't know how it was for my brother and sisters; she was so many things to all of us. For me, I lost my mother, best friend, my child...I had taken care of her for the last two years. I don't know what I'll do with myself, now. She was my company late in the night. We talked, reminisced, played games, drank coffee together.

And then I think, Oh, what she gave me...laughter. Music. Poetry. Heart. Life.

I know how lucky I have been in my life, how fortunate I was to have her and be with her these last two years.

A long-distance cousin sent lavender roses flanked with lavender calla lillies. She wanted something unique, she said, because Mom was such a singular, beautiful woman. Last night, I woke to the scent of those roses. I like to think it was a visit from her, a message that she is here in all the rare, wonderful things in this world.

I'll miss you, Mom.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waiting for the Floor to Dry

The picture on the left is of Dad, brother Mike and me. It must have been taken around 1962, not sure. My sister found it, scanned it, and I snagged it for my own personal use.

We're sitting in Grandma Parks' living room. I remember that old rocker! But barely remember Mike looking like that - so small and round and cute. The door behind us was Grandma's bedroom, and much later, was Dad's room. He would go in there, close the door to take a nap after working 12 or 16 hours, and we kids knew better than to make noise, lest he emerge, trip over one of us camped out in the floor and roar - "A bunch of cur dogs!" Well, that was Dad. Roar now (especially when he was in pain from hitting the floor after tripping over one of us), make a gesture of apology later. He never said the words...I'm sorry...but he would place one of his big hands on a shoulder and pat it. That's as close as he came, but it was ok, because we knew what he meant.

He has been on my mind a lot, lately, especially after this past weekend when someone broke into the house in which my baby sister now lives. They stole a few things, but the worst is, they managed to smash my father's picture. The one in his Air Force uniform. The one that sat for years in the cabinet you see in the photograph my sister scanned. They used his knives to stab his dog tags. It was a personal attack, yes, but not against my father; it was against my nephew, who adored him.

Some days, I think there's hope for the world, for the kids coming up, and other days I'm just tired from the violence and the insanity that surrounds all of us, every day, whether it touches us directly or not.

See that picture my sister scanned? It's from a time when the world was a little more tame, when morals were to the foreground for most, whether the background reflected them or not. It's from a time when I could sit in my father's lap and feel safe and peaceful.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Me, me, me, me me!

So, it helps to blog. It keeps me honest. ;-)

I started physical therapy two weeks ago, for my back. Didn't realize how much I needed some help until I got there, and the therapist kept looking at me like 1. I was insane. 2. He didn't know what to make of me. 3. He was completely puzzled by my presence.

He was great, though. He assessed and identified the problem and started me on exercises to strengthen my hips. He also introduced me to massage via electrodes and heat by ultrasound. Holy cow, it's worth the money per visit just for the massage. However, money and time are an issue, and three times a week x $$ is not doable right now. It's ok, though. I came away with a few tricks, how to move correctly, and it seems to be helping.

I will miss the massage, though. Shoot.

The diet is going well. I have been faithful to it all day today, and hope to make it a full week. One interesting note I came across while researching nutrition...gelatin contains collagen that, when ingested, is good for the skin. Who would have thought...still, it's a bit hard to ingest it when you read what's in it. Hooves?? If you can turn off that image, you can scarf down jello with no problem.

It's easier to be positive when you're being good to yourself...a month ago, I found myself growing short tempered and intolerant of almost everything. Requests from other people came across as demands. I was not having fine moments by a long shot.

So I prayed. My own request was for help to make me what I needed to be, and what Mom and others need me to be. I was sincere in prayer. And then, things started happening. The PT, the desire to take care of myself, but something else...friends started reappearing in my life.

My buddy Charles called and actually invited us over. We went, and had a good time. Got caught in an explosive electrical storm on the way home, and it was great!

Old friends from school found me on facebook. I had an invitation for coffee, and conversation.

My boss started putting limits on what other departments could ask me to do. That, alone, is wondrous. And highly unusual.

I hope this is a trend and not a fad. But even if it stops, it all came at a time when it was sorely needed. I can be happy with that.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good Sunday Evening

I never saw what the last couple of years had done to me (oh, I suspected, but didn't pay it much mind) until I looked in the mirror last Thursday morning - holy cow, was that me?! - no pun intented.

I have gained 30 pounds and it really, really shows. My face looks like an overinflated balloon, my hair was shapeless, past my shoulders and I looked horrible.

I have no point of reference, except myself, but my guess is, most women are so busy taking care of everyone else that they forget they have to figure somewhere into the equation. Eat right - take a little time for exercise, like a nice, long walk. Get a haircut every now and then, why don't we, and maybe even read a book. Have a bubble bath, soak until the rest of the skin wrinkles. Write once in a while, because cliche or not, if you don't use it, that muscle will atrophy and may never recover.

After the initial shock of being confronted with an honest mirror, I took a few steps toward finding myself again. I recommitted to South Beach, waited an hour and a half for hair cut, and since I was already in the chair, had the eyebrows waxed and sprang for a shampoo - which I have to tell you was the next best thing to the best ... intimacy... I ever had. Tea tree shampoo. It is heaven in a bottle.

I bought a book, the new one by Pat Conroy, filled a grocery cart full of fresh vegetables and fruits and spent a small mint on shower gel.

Sometimes, you have to be good to yourself. I think sometime has come for me.