Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mother --- the next chapter

It has been awhile since I blogged about my mother.  She celebrated her 85th birthday on November 15th - alone in Yountville - how she wants it, because she doesn't want any of her friends to know "how old she really is".  We now respect her wishes (paranoia) and don't even think of throwing a party to celebrate milestone occasions like turning eighty-five.  

My heart is in turmoil - emotions all mixing together inside - frustration, anger, helplessness, anxiety, admiration, and a deep longing to know that she is safe and not knowing where to start and what to do. 

Mother is still living in the little house we purchased 2-1/2 years ago when she moved from the big house.  My long-time blog friends may recall that Mother is functionally blind as a result of macular degeneration.   She has recently been diagnosed with glaucoma.  Macular degeneration destroys the central vision - glaucoma, the peripheral vision.    It is now a matter of time - unless they can halt the glaucoma.   I fear she is not taking the eye drops - recently she stopped taking the blood pressure meds (AGAIN) and had the 200/250 BP at her appointment.

Mom is getting weaker - less able to get around - more tentative.  Since she cannot see, there are many things that just aren't as clean and tidy.  The fridge often contains spoiled food - and not just a small amount either. 

She has an incontinence problem and often you get a whiff of urine.  She doesn't eat properly and often has diarrhea - you can imagine the result of that.   She is often confused and yet, she has adapted so well that unless you spend a bit of time with her you would not know.
She refuses to have a regular cleaning person - let alone a weekly companion/housekeeper.  She is competent and yet is on the edge.  There is a wonderful person that I pay to go visit once a week or so to help with bills and such - but that is touch and go (Mom has no idea she is paid).  Mom really likes Cathi but is fiercely guarding her independence; I understand as well I can from my 20 years younger perch.  "Independence" - what is that?  Safety - Health - Companionship  - I am so conflicted.  
It is very difficult - time to ponder the next steps.  Any thoughts??

PS Mom can afford household help - a companion, etc.  So it is not about money.  :_(

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Annual Vigil

i am in San Antonio with youngest son, his wife and our new grandbaby, a beautiful little girl named, Raegan. It is wonderful to be with them, to hold and love this baby; to witness the blessing of my baby parenting; to be in the warmth and to have a break from my familiar surroundings. (I am unable to upload photos as I only have my IPad with me, pics to follow.)

Today marks seven years, seven years ago this day was the last 24 hours that Tom was drawing breath on this earth. Granted, he was in a coma, but he was here, he was warm and we were together. The nearly four days from November 11 to 14 in 2004 remain a blur.

There are things that stick out in sharp relief, inscribed in thick, indelible lines within my very heart.

When I walked into the trauma room in the ER that night, he was on a gurney, his clothing had been cut-off and he was intubated. They let me stay - I quietly stood at the end of that gurney and held fast to his big toe. The floor was littered with the detrius of their life saving actions. I held hope in both hands. Thirty minutes later a nurse took me in a little room and gently told me "it doesn't look good". I clutched hope more firmly and went to ICU.

Looking at the MRI for the first in the early pre-dawn hours - my dearest sister-friend Lisa by my side - it was so clear, the right side of his brain was gone. Still I hoped. i looked at those MRI pictures a half dozen times and hope began to crumble. Removing the breathing tube was the ultimate step to freeing him, but oh so difficult to do and to watch.

Laying beside him in the hospital bed, recounting our meeting, our courtship, our marriage, our love and our lives - this was his last night on earth. In the middle of the night, Cheryl, our nurse came in, gave us a smile and said, "I don't know what you are talking about, but every once in a while his heart rate jumps up there.". We were on the same wave length. Later she returned and as she was leaving, she turned around and said, "enjoy his warmth". I didn't totally understand then - I do now. I will forever feel grateful that on his last night on the planet, I slept in his arms, holding him with all I am or ever will be.

So, here I sit in the kitchen in San Antonio, listening to baby gurgles, feeling sadness mixed with such gratitude and hope. Once again touching the wound that will never quite heal. Memories assail me this morning. There is more to come.........

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The "L" Word

OK, OK - I'll bet you thought I had taken a slow boat to another continent.  Well, in some ways I did.  I have so many things to write about - the one I want to share tonight is that I am in love.  Yes, that's right, the "L" word.  I also am loved.  That's right the "L" word.  It is amazing. 

The guy and I have walked a path the last 15 months - singly, together - whatever.  We have done the dance - the dance in happy; the dance in the rain - the dance that is scared beyond belief (we both know what it is like to lose the love of your life); the run forward - quick, run back. 

Tonight, I can say with a glad heart and a sense of contentment - we love one another.  The kind of love that one holds carefully and with joy.  The kind of love that is steady, and feels oh so true. The kind of love that acknowledges the preciousness of life.

Right now, we are in the vigil-time of the loss of our spouses - he on October 27 (14 years) - me on November 14 (7 years).  We talk about it, cry together, comfort one another and give each other space to be lost in our memories.  And through it all - we are here in the blessed here and now. 

I have so many things I want to write - I hope each of you are well - I send my love.   In my darkest hours I never thought the sun would shine again and I certainly never imagined that I would say the "L" word from the bottom of my heart.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.  One thing I know for sure - Tom wants me to be happy.  There is truly much more to come.