Good note endings

For me, it is the anticipation of an event that causes excitement, apprehension, or foreboding. The planning of a vacation. Waiting for a special day. Saying good bye..

It is not always a bad thing to know that your loved one is dying. I think of a friend whose mother died unexpectedly right after an argument. We have been given this special time to mend relationships, to end things on a good note..

Friday night we took Angel to say good bye to her grandma before leaving for college. Friday my son Alex came down with strep, the second in our household. I didn’t want Angel to leave without saying good bye to her grandma. I admit I was worried that although Paul, Angel, and I weren’t symptomatic that we could be carriers of strep into a nursing home full of vulnerable people. It wasn’t a good feeling. I asked the nurse and pharmacist, but they didn’t give me a straight answer. We decided to go anyway, since this would probably be Angel’s final visit with her grandma.

We arrived at the nursing home late on Friday night. It was a big complex and we didn’t know where to go. The outside doors were locked and we ended up walking around outside in the bitter cold on icy sidewalks trying to find a way in. I felt exhausted and cold. I was so tired that I didn’t want to be there, but it wasn’t about me.

We were finally able to find the main entrance. It was warm, empty, and inviting. There was a video showing a happy elderly couple entering their new home. It pleasantly reminded me of a time share commercial. We were the only visitors there on a Friday night, with the exception of my mother-in-law’s husband Darryl.

It was quiet there. The employees talked about when they were going to take their cigarette breaks. Curious elderly people wandered over to Martha’s room to see the excitement of visitors on a Friday night.

Martha was in her bed hooked up to oxygen. She looked good. Darryl said that his mother was in the nursing home now because she can no longer take care of herself. The conversation got too close to the truth of Martha’s situation. We talked of funerals that we attended together of other family members and Darryl’s moms declining health.

Martha wondered why she was in the nursing home like her husband’s mother. She told us that she was going home soon. She said that they were going to start her on Chemo all over again. She was so convinced of this that I almost believed her. I wanted to.

Martha told us how great Darryl has been to her all of these years. She said that her only regret was that she didn’t meet Darryl sooner. She wished she could have given Paul a father when he was a child. Martha held Darryl’s hand and told him how much she loved and appreciated having him in her life.

When it was time to go, Angel sang a prayer. It was very peaceful and calming. There weren’t any tears or sad good byes like I was expecting.

Our visit ended on a good note..

Saying good bye?

I have often wondered why we say the words good bye. What is ever good about parting with someone that you care about?

This morning I said good bye to Angel as she left to go back to college. I won’t be seeing her again until March.

Last night Angel said good bye to her grandma, probably for the last time.

It was a rough week. Darryl called earlier this week very distraught. The doctor told him that Martha was never going to go back home again. She was going to be transferred from the hospital into a nursing home. They thought that she was going to beat this terminal stage 4 cancer thing. It is hard to blame them for feeling that way as they don’t have the internet at home and we are all new to this stage 4 cancer thing.

Living with her day to day, I’m sure that Darryl didn’t see how the cancer eroded her body like we did. Losing 100 lbs isn’t as noticeable if you lose it 1 lb a day. It broke Paul’s heart to see his step-dad break down and start talking about final wishes and funeral arrangements. We knew we had to arrange one last visit with Angel and her grandma before she left.

The night that Darryl called, Paul cried. Before all of this, in the 20+ years I’ve known Paul, he has only cried a handful of times. Mainly when his grandma, who helped raise him, died. Dealing with his mother dying has brought out a whole new range of emotions, some of them not very good. I want to fix things, but I can’t.

Sometimes I worry about Paul. He takes on too much responsibility. He is a great leader and everyone wants his help on this board, committee, or that. I find that most people care more about what he can do for them instead of him.

Besides Paul and my friend Cindy (who keeps calling and asking how I am doing), I have been pushing everyone in my life away. When things get difficult I shut everyone out. No personal Facebook statuses for me. I don’t want anyone to know. It surprises me that I even talk to you. Sorry, no offense, I’m sure you are a great person.

Instead of dealing with my emotions, I put more things on my plate. No, not food, if I’m really stressed I barely eat. Working long hours…yes…trying out for a part in the play…yes…signing up for an 18 mile trail run…yes…another marathon…yes, yes, yes….a half iron…yes, yes, oh yes!

Keeping very busy has always been a tactic of mine.

I’m not sure I can keep going at this pace. But I am afraid. If I stop juggling all of these busyness balls, I will surely drown.

I will keep going. I am determined to persevere. And I am going to keep writing (take you along on this journey with me)! Lucky you! XOXXO

 

 

A flame’s last few flickersĀ 

Yesterday I spent the evening in the ICU.

My mother-in-law Martha collapsed on her way to her doctor appointment. An elderly friend of Martha was taking her to her appointment, pulled over when Martha said she was going to be sick, and couldn’t get her back in the car.

The rescue squad transported her to the nearest hospital where they had no room in their ICU. Then they transported her to a hospital a couple of hours away. This was good news for us because Martha was 20 minutes away versus 2 hours away. 

We drove in nervous silence to the hospital. It was a long, windy, and bitterly cold day. It seemed like I had to park miles away from the door. The sharp winds whipped my face and stung. I ran to get in as fast as I could, but I really didn’t want to go. I was afraid of what I would find. I was afraid of how I might respond.

We searched for a long time down empty corridors for Martha’s room. We didn’t know where to go or what was happening. We weren’t sure what to expect. We had many questions and no answers.

We finally found the ICU. Only 2 visitors were allowed at a time. Paul and Angel went in first. While we were waiting, Martha’s husband Darryl arrived. Angel came out crying. My other 2 children went in. Angel sat on my lap and I held her in my arms while she cried. 

Darryl and I were the last ones to enter. Paul helped me tie on my gown and I put latex gloves on as was ICU protocol. Then I saw Martha. She was so weak, sick, and fragile looking. She asked me if I was okay since I looked so tired. Her concern for me was strangely touching as she was the one in the hospital bed hooked up to machines. She was getting a blood transfusion and had a couple more bags being emptied into her body. She had to sign a consent form but couldn’t quite remember how to spell her name. 

She told me that if she didn’t make it home, I should go through her items with the girls and take what I wanted even though she said she doesn’t have much. I told her I would.

It was all very beautiful and ugly at the same time. All of our previous issues faded away into the past. Yet I felt like I was in the way of the nurse. I didn’t know what to do. There was nothing I could do. Nothing but be there for her as her light starts to fade during her flame’s last few flickers.  

Soon our brief time together came to an end. I tore off my gown and threw it in the garbage along with my gloves. I washed my hands in the the sink. Martha told me that she loved me. I told her that I loved her back. 

After a long glance, I walked away and didn’t look back.     

Happy New Year!

 
Yesterday morning this was the sight in my kitchen. Seems like I can never have a proper party without trashing my house.  I spend all day cleaning and cooking only to be faced with it again. 

I had a smashing party! Literally. At the crack of midnight, Alex’s friend smahed his head against the table 5 times starting the new year with a bang. Not to mention a swollen, bruised, and bleeding face. I’m surprised that I haven’t had a late night knock on the door from a mother screaming about a concussion and a law suit for the nefarious happenings at my house. What can I say? My house was over run that night with teenagers. Ten teens to be exact and 3 other kids…One of the teen girls was very attractive and possibly single if that explains anything. 

So I spent the next morning cleaning up after the party. I threw out the items that were broken. I searched for the items that were lost of stolen. I started a new year’s resolution to never to have a New Year’s Eve party again. Then I took down my Christmas tree and purged my house of 2016.

After a sleepless night and a snow storm of cleaning, I packed the kids up in my car and headed on the long trip to visit my mother-in-law. Paul left to spend a couple of days with her early in the morning, but I couldn’t rouse the kids before noon. My MIL, Martha, has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. She drastically declined since our last visit. Her figure that once had a little padding is now reduced to grayish yellow skin on bones. Her clothes were baggy, even her glasses were too big for her gaunt face. Her once jet black curls were replaced by patches of gray hair.  She coughed and wheezed with every inhalation. 

Martha was happy to see us. We had a nice visit for a few hours, then went home. The trip home was sorrowful. Angel was certain that she would never see her grandmother alive again since it is almost time to go back to college in a town far away. Our spirits were low. 

So I did what I had to do. 

I took the kids out to a Chinese buffet. I thought maybe it would cheer them up a little. Everyone got a good fortune cookie, except Alex. His fortune cookie was empty. I’ve only saw that happen to one other person. Me. When I was his age. It really bothered me back then. I thought that perhaps I would get hit by a bus or something. Alex said that meant we could create our own future, that we are really lucky according to Google.

I thought a lot the last couple of days about this new year. We were invited to sail the Caribbean with some new friends for their honeymoon. Regrettably, due to my MIL’s failing health, we had to turn down our spot on the love boat (yuck anyway). Instead, we will stay closer to home. This next weekend we are heading to Chicago as my daughter Angel was lucky to get tickets to see Hamilton.  
Being in a musical is just a much fun (if not more) than watching them. Angel has a lead role in her college opera this spring. Paul, Arabella, and I are going to try out for the local community theater musical this week. I am hoping to get the part of a floozy. I haven’t been on stage for 5 years and am nervous and excited to be back.

Paul and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this summer. Where did the time go?? We will go on a week long sailing trip to celebrate this summer. However, we decided to not go to Tahiti next winter to celebrate but chose Thailand instead. We have friends that live over there. What is better than having our own tour guide that speaks our language to show us around off the beaten path?? We are planning on visiting Bangkok April of 2018 for their New Year festival. It is very hot and humid during that time, but we want to go to celebrate their New Year as they have several days of country wide water fights. It would be the trip of a lifetime. Plus I would get closer to checking off visiting all of the continents off my bucket list especially since I have never left my own continent.

So, I will save my pennies and look forward to sunnier days during these dark times.

I hope that you all have a wonderful new year! 

Boot thief

I am going to take the kids to see my mother-in-law this weekend.

The last time I visited, she accused me of stealing her boots. She said that someone, possibly my daughters or I, took her boots and left a pair that looked just like hers behind.

I really didn’t know what to say. Why would I steal my dying mother-in-law’s boots?

I admit, my relationship with my mother-in-law Martha has been rocky at times.

I am structured and overly responsible. Martha is spontaneous and irresponsible. She is usually late and she only does what she feels like doing. If she doesn’t feel like doing something, she won’t do it. She might cancel out last minute after she made a commitment. She usually has good intentions.

She once cancelled out of going to her grandchildren’s birthday party because it was going to be too hot outside and we were having the party outdoors. Or it might rain or might snow. Or she spent all her money at the casino and didn’t have enough for gas. Or she had to work. Or she was sick. Or the hot water heater stopped working and she couldn’t shower. Or the car broke down. Or she needed to go shopping instead. All of these excuses have been used.

Some of my biggest pet peeves are when people don’t do what they say they are going to do or when they cancel out last minute without a good reason.

Most of the time, I didn’t argue. The handful of times that I did over the past 20 some years angered Martha enough not to talk to me for years. Martha is always right. It was never her fault. It’s not worth arguing. I just nod my head and smile if I disagree. It is not worth having my children not have their grandma in their lives over.

I am a peaceful person that avoids conflict, but is never at peace. I am the one that is upset. I am the one that is hurt.

I have learned over time to lower my expectations. I am not upset that she accused me of stealing her boots. Martha is a difficult person. Paul and I talk about the things that bother us so it doesn’t fester into something bigger.

Really, what does Martha care if I am upset??

She is the biggest owner of rose colored glasses that I know. She is happy. She talks of all the things she is going to do when she kicks this terminal cancer. She is happy while she is getting chemo. She thinks she is getting better. She has always lived in her dream world of lies. She is happy. She is happy. She is happy..

I am a realist and I am completely miserable.

Some have called me a pessimist and I would argue. But I would admit I am not an optimist. I want to have both feet on the ground. I want to know the facts. I want to know the truth. I see the world as it really is and sometimes that bothers me.

Is such honesty worth it? Try as I might, I can’t seem to change.

 

The end of the race

I ran my last race for this year, a half marathon. I was happy with my time, just a few minutes over 2 hours. Although when compared to my running friends, that is not impressive. 

Cori stayed up until 3 AM the night before. She drank a 12 pack of beer. I went to bed by 10 and only had one beer. She beat my time by 10 minutes! Lisa stayed up until 2 AM and had a couple of beers. She beat my time too. Then for the 5k we ran together, she stayed up all night long drinking and was probably still drunk. I went to bed early. She beat my time. WTH? Why am I so slow? I try to do everything right! 

I wish I was an ultra runner. It seems like I am prone to injury. I wasn’t able to finish any race this year without knee pain. This year I planned on running a 5k, 10k, half, full, and my first tri. I achieved my goal, however no PR’s. Every single race day was either hot and/or humid. Then there was my knee. 

Maybe I should find some friends that aren’t runners. Someone who hears the word marathon and thinks of Netflix. I can hear it now…. Wow, a 5k! You’re so amazing! Did you win? Would that be better than trying to do everything right and still not being good enough? Idk. I took second place so I am not bad. So, whatever. I just feel sometimes that they look down at me for not being as good as they are. In my defense, Cori doesn’t work and dedicated her life to running and working out. How can I compete with that? 

After the race, I picked up Arabella and her BFF from camp. I had to do a lot of driving. That made me a little nervous. Would I fall asleep behind the wheel? After I picked up the girls, we headed up north. We stopped by my in-laws on the way. Martha lost more weight since I saw her last. She looked like a feeble old woman walking around slowly with her walker. Cancer, the horrible devastating destroyer. Martha started giving away some of her items. She gave me a platter that she got as a free gift from some casino. I don’t know what to do with all of the “treasures” she is giving me. 

I would much rather hear family stories from her, like who Paul’s father is. Does she even know?? Does it even matter anymore though? Paul will never look for him. I want to hear stories of her childhood and growing up. This is our last chance to really know her. 

Martha’s husband Darryl invited us to stay for supper. He had some raccoons cooking in the crock pot. I politely declined. I’m not sure trying raccoon is on my bucket list.

We finally got to the cabin around supper time. The water wasn’t working and the pump was running nonstop. My dad decided to come up to the cabin to look at it. Thankfully, it was an easy fix. So I ended up spending the evening talking alone with my dad while the girls played games in the next room. It was strange since I don’t remember ever spending the evening up north with my dad without a lot of other adults around. It was actually nice to talk to him. Who knows how much time he has left?

Other than that, the weekend was rather uneventful. It is nice to be done racing for the year. I am already starting the think about next year…

Ready to call it a day…

It has been a long day…

Paul and I awoke this morning at 6 AM by the jarring ring of his cell phone. His busybody cousin was calling early to tell him that she thought his mother needed more home care. His mother has been in and out of the hospital over the past month with terminal cancer. Martha insisted that she didn’t need home care. His cousin who is a CNA that acts like a doctor said that Martha was lying. Then she started accusing Paul for not being there more. This is a cousin that we have not seen for about 15 years. She swooped in out of nowhere and started taking charge. Paul suggested that if she has a problem with Martha’s care, then she should talk to Martha’s husband Darryl. 

It really wasn’t the best start this morning. Paul felt so offended by his cousin. It is always so terrifying to have a late night or early morning call when you have a dying parent. Who does that?? 

Then I scrambled to work for a half day to find out that the employee that would be covering for me in the afternoon couldn’t make it in because her brother-in-law had a heart attack. Oh, and she told me that she had to take my birthday off for a doctor appointment after I already made plans. So I had to cancel my birthday plans. 

At this point, I am feeling stressed and angry. Not a good morning at all.

I took the afternoon off of work to take my son in for his driving test. We spent a couple of hours before the test having a “crash” course on driving. He only got honked at once. Then he went in and passed the test. Afterwards, he started asking if he could borrow the car for the weekend to hang out with his friends. So now this starts?? I’ve accepted the fact that I am not his number one hang buddy. He is finally starting to talk to me more. Last night he even hung out with me and played his favorite rap songs. I can’t say that I approved of all the lyrics. But he wanted to hang out with me, so I tolerated it. Pathetic, I know. Wait until you have a teenage son that never comes out of his room. I did get a few new running songs though.

Then this evening I have plans to organize Angel’s graduation party. It is only a few weeks away and I have no idea what I am doing. I am not a crafty mom at all. 

I am ready to call it a day already!

Back to the present

Today I struggled with what to write. I want to go back to my autism series that I started earlier this month but so much is happening in my life right now. How can I talk about the past when the present is exciting, here, and almost gone?? I will finish it though. With the marathon last weekend and my first child’s graduation this weekend, I have a thousand thoughts and emotions running through my head. And it all has to fit into one post per day that should contain an average of 500 words. Lol.

Last night, Paul and I decided to call our parents to try to convince them into going to Angel’s graduation. I called my dad and asked him directly if he was going. Now I typically call my dad twice a year, on his birthday and on Father’s Day. So it was a big deal that I was calling him. He seemed happy to hear from me. He told me that Angel was a nice and good girl. He said that he was planning on going to her graduation. I was floored. Then he even asked me how my marathon went. I was shocked that the whole conversation was very positive.

Then I walked out of my bedroom to find that things didn’t go quite as well with Paul and his mom. Martha was on the phone with Angel saying that she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it. But this time she is really sick. So sick that she couldn’t make it in to her chemo appointment yesterday. I believe that she is really sick this time. But I liken it to the story of the boy that called wolf. Martha has been calling wolf so many times over the past several years that now my mind finds it had to believe that there is a wolf.

But there is a wolf. Martha has terminal cancer, the big devouring wolf. A few weeks ago, Martha was going to go with me to see Angel perform her solo and ensemble pieces at state. Martha was supposed to be at my house by nine. I waited around until 11:00, Martha didn’t show up or call. By that time I had already missed half of Angel’s performances. At 11, Paul called his mom and she was still at home an hour away from our house. She wasn’t feeling good enough to go but didn’t bother to call. She was going to try to make it out to eat with us later that evening for Mother’s Day.

I knew that Martha was sick. But it still brought up all of those old feelings that I had towards her for standing up my kids. I was very angry and hurt. I drove fast to get to the remainder of Angel’s events. I was pissed that I wasn’t there to support Angel when I told her I would be there to watch her. Then I even started to feel a little guilty that I was angry with my mother-in-law who is dying. So I have become tolerant. I have repressed the years of resentment, hurt, and anger.

It is hard because now I think that Martha might want to go to Angel’s graduation. But it is too late now. She should have gone to more things when she was able to. She should have been the involved grandparent then. Now it is much too late.

 

Our last supper

Paul and I decided to take his mother Martha out to eat for one last Mother’s Day celebration where we can all be together.

A quick recap…Martha has stage 4 lung cancer that has already spread to her brain. This will most likely be her last Mother’s Day. Plus we were able to go out with all of our kids. This will also be the last time the kids are all living at home since Angel will be in college next year several hours away. So this was the big hurrah!

We took the family out to a Japanese steak house for hibachi. Martha doesn’t get to enjoy fine dining often and was very happy for the opportunity to go out. She was very sick earlier in the day from her chemo, so we weren’t even sure the evening out would happen. We thought about just cooking a nice meal at our house. But since this is the last time, we decided to go to a small quiet restaurant and make it memorable.

We had a wonderful hibachi chef. Arabella even tried some raw tuna sushi to get ready for her trip to Japan this fall. She is very brave. Martha was wearing a baseball cap to cover her bald head. Paul made sure that she received a special chef hat that they reserve for birthday parties. I took a lot of pictures.

When we received the bill, we were told that Martha’s supper was paid for. Someone at the table next to ours covered her bill.

Paul went over to the table and thanked the man. They embraced. Later the man followed Paul into the parking lot. He told Paul that his mother passed away a few months ago from cancer. He wanted Paul to pass on this generosity someday to another person going through the same thing.

Once again, the two grown men embraced. Total strangers sharing a moment of sorrow over their dead and dying mothers on Mother’s Day weekend.

Together they wept in each others arms.

I have never seen two big masculine men sobbing together in a parking lot before. Complete strangers for a brief moment sharing the same pain.

It was very moving.

 

A storm is brewing

I feel the edginess right before the storm hits. The peacefulness and calm from my vacation is leaving slowly like a summertime tan. I feel the wind surround the emptiness inside of me, trying to find a void to fill with cold icy snow. The warmth and sunshine are gone now. Sorrow, darkness, and anger encapsulates me. I cry out to God, but He doesn’t seem to hear my prayers. I feel the tug of emotions trying to drown me in a river of despair. I am alone. I want to be alone. I don’t want to talk. I really don’t want to do anything.

It has been a hard start of the year. I miss my neighbor and friend that passed away a couple of weeks ago. Every time I look at her house, I think that she is still there. She will pull her car out of the driveway and wave at me. We were supposed to do something together next week. But guess what? I can’t go. I looked over the old messages that she sent me. My heart tells me that she is still alive. She just can’t come outside. My brain tells me to stop being such a fool. Stop pretending that things are fine.

Last summer my best friend moved to Florida. I had the opportunity to spend time with her while we were there on vacation. I didn’t realize how much I missed talking to her and seeing her. I miss her. I don’t feel like talking to anyone else. In 4 months, my oldest daughter will be leaving the house. I am excited for her to start the adult chapter in her life, but I am at such a loss. I started crying while she performed her solo and ensemble song for me. It bothered me that she sold her junior prom dress. It just seems so final.

Then yesterday we found out that my mother-in-law has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. They are giving her around 15 months to live. Wait a minute, I am not ready to deal with the loss of our parents yet. I have been having a hard time with this since I saw her last week. I have been feeling sad and angry. With all of the people that were praying for her and my friend that passed away, why didn’t God heal them? I don’t have any control. Why should I expect miracles? I feel helpless. Who can avoid death? It has given Paul time to say goodbye to his only parent. That has been good for him to spend time with her.

This morning my son got suspended from school. He got in a fight with someone in the hallway. It has been no secret that my son has been struggling with school for the last couple of months. He has been begging us to switch schools for a couple months now. Apparently a boy called him a faggot on facebook back in December and has been bullying him with some other kids. My son got in his face today. I suppose that it shouldn’t surprise me that the day after my son finds out that his grandma is dying that he confronts this other boy. Words were exchanged between my son and this boy. They were pushing and shoving each other in the hallway. Then I received a call from the school that my son was suspended for 3 days. He was trying to provoke the other kid that was picking on him. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe we can finally resolve this issue head on.

We are expecting a snow storm today. We should be getting somewhere around 8 inches of snow with blowing winds. It just started to snow.