Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
Working overtime doesn’t bother me. I like the extra money in my paycheck and I like the work I do. Sometimes I can even get almost double my normal production out in a single day… and only work 1 extra hour. It always surprises me how much I can accomplish when there aren’t any interruptions.
Alzheimer’s is an interruption of accomplishment.
My sweet mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s… and it has interrupted so much.
She used to be an intelligent woman. Politically savvy, able to converse on many subjects, loving and humorous.
Now, she is a difficult mix of petulant child, sweet little girl and very confused adult.
I said to someone the other day that I miss her. The person told me to go over to the nursing home and see her.
Not that simple. When I say that I miss her, it means I miss who she used to be in her vibrancy and intelligence. I miss having a real conversation with her.
I miss her knowing who I am.
Sometime last year, her mind lost me and who I am in relationship to her. When I visit her, she is always sweet to me, but it is obvious she doesn’t know me. I wonder sometimes who she thinks I am.
My mother-in-law’s 78th birthday is Friday. We will go as a family to have a celebration together at the nursing home. We’ll take her some special chocolates and a sweatshirt on which I will embroider a Siamese cat… her two favorite things in life… chocolate and Siamese cats. Thankfully two things which she can still identify.
It won’t be an easy birthday celebration. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we should celebrate her birthdays.
But every year she surprises us and announces that her birthday is coming. She’s in there somewhere… and peeks out when she can. We cherish the times that she is more lucid and aware.
So we will celebrate who she is now… and who she was… and hope she peeks out on Friday.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Today is the 10th anniversary of the passing of a man who has had the most influence in my life… and always holds a most special place in my heart.
…Daddy… I miss you still…
A man of integrity and honor, full of teasing and humor… and love. He married Mama when she already had 4 children and then went about the very difficult process of adopting my older brothers and me.
There are a few things about my life and character that must be attributed to his example and teaching.
- Always keep your word, no matter the cost to yourself.
- If you say you will do something, do it. Period.
- Learn to think for yourself.
- Love your family, no matter what. They are the only family you will get. You don’t have to agree with them, just love them. It won’t be easy.
I knew I was adopted, but more importantly, I knew who my Daddy was… because the adoption didn’t matter as to who I am. He always loved me as if I were his biological child.
I remember going to the courthouse for the adoption. I was about 9. Mom made special dresses for my sister and I. My brothers all had their Sunday School clothes on… and we were not in school that day!
Our cousin was the family lawyer and he called us all into the judge’s chambers. Since we were all a little older, the judge actually asked each of us if we wanted to be adopted by Daddy… and I remember him asking me if I wanted Daddy to be my Daddy.
I also remember looking at the judge like he was an idiot. Of course I wanted him for my Daddy… he already was.
I remember Mama cried when the judge signed the papers. I remember going out for a special lunch that day after court.
I remember Daddy hugging Mama.
Most of my favorite childhood memories involve my blessed Daddy.
Going to the
Riding the Carousel in
Visiting the International Hospitality Houses and sampling the international cookies. Getting a hand-made, fresh tortilla in the
Holding Daddy’s hand and feeling safe.
Going to the Chicken Pie Shop in
Friday night donuts… how do I describe those…
Daddy got off work at 2 a.m. We would go to bed on Friday nights… hoping… tonight might be one of the “special” Friday nights. It really might be one of the nights when Daddy woke us all up at – because we had been good all week – with fresh, HOT donuts… each of us getting our absolute favorite donut, fresh and hot at Having time as a family to laugh and enjoy a very special treat… and then going back to bed. Sleeping in on Saturday morning and waking to the memory of that wonderful treat. Knowing that none of our friends had such a fun Friday night surprise.
The smell of maple bars always takes me back to those Friday nights.
Diabetes took both of Daddy’s legs, but not his spirit and love of family. He strove to teach us something every single day of his life. Most times the lesson had only to do with his love for us.
It took a very long time for Daddy to learn to actually say the words, “I love you.” He showed his love in his everyday actions, but rarely said the words.
I was 26 years old the night before he lost his 2nd leg, talking on the phone with him and ended our conversation with my usual “I love you Daddy!” I almost dropped the phone when his reply was, “I love you, too, baby.”
It was the first time he had ever told me he loved me, in actual words. Of course I burst into tears after hanging up the phone… and had to explain to my worried roommates that my Daddy loved me!
Once said, it seemed he could not say it enough. Every phone call, every visit to him, every chance he got, he told each of us that he loved us. Precious music to our ears.
Daddy always made a point of making sure we knew he was proud of our accomplishments. From the small stuff to the big awards, his booming voice would always ring out… “I’m proud of you!”
The end was not simple, nor was it easy for Daddy. He had a massive silent heart attack that should have killed him instantly. Instead it destroyed ¾ of his heart, making him ineligible for even a heart transplant.
Once they figured out what was wrong with him, the doctor told him to do anything he had on his list. The doc could not say if Daddy had 2 minutes, 2 hours, 2 days or 2 years left. Just get your affairs in order and enjoy what time you have left.
The remaining time was a very hard 8 months. His body shut down gradually and very painfully. And yet, he remained true to who he was, a man of integrity and honor, full of teasing and humor… and love.
We had our last conversation on the day he died. I live in another state, so I was not there at the end.
Because Daddy was so weak then, my sister held the phone to Daddy’s ear for him. He was too weak to really talk, so I talked to him. I chatted like I normally would, telling him about my day and that we knew it was time for him to go. Then I told Daddy that I would hold in my heart 2 very special memories. Sundays when we would go to
My sister told me later that he smiled his big, special Daddy smile when I said that.
“I love you, baby, and I am so proud of you.”
Time with Daddy… his voice… his laugh… his teasing… his pride and love…
Oh… how I miss you Daddy...
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Tonight will be an effort to have the sleep remedy the exhaustion.
Have had difficult conversations with family members tonight. Nothing horrible, just horribly unpleasant in that I see destruction in the path of some.
This week is not pleasant anyway, so add this unpleasantness and it feels awful to me.
I really need restful sleep!
May there be mercy... on it all... both sleep and family... may there be mercy...
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Right now there is so much stress that it is hard to get good sleep... or enough sleep. Leaves me dancing at the edge of that cycle.
Tonight, exhaustion claims me. I need to listen to what my body is telling me. A few days of very low activity and taking extra good care of me are what I need to avoid getting into the sick cycle.
Sleep... blessed sleep...
Monday, September 12, 2005
I didn't think I'd ever take up quilting. Never thought I had the patience for a hobby that took so much time to actually complete something.
Rubber stamping, there's a hobby for someone who is into instant gratification! Stamp the designs on paper and voila! Instant greeting card. Stamp the design on a candle and voila! Instant gift. Stamp the design on my wall and voila! Instant re-decorating.
Still love rubber stamping, but for years now I have missed sewing projects.
I discovered that I have always had the patience for quilting. For pity's sake, I used to make bridesmaid's and wedding dresses! If those don't take patience to make, I don't know what does.
It really had to do with my desire to learn the art of quilting. Now that I have the desire... and a completed project under my belt... I can hardly wait to take a class to learn how many mistakes I made and how to do it better next time.
I'm tired tonight. But my quilt is done and I feel good.
Friday, September 09, 2005
So I stash bits of money aside in the hopes of travel.
Dreaming for time and ability to go places....
... see different things...
... experience different cultures...
... try exotic foods...
Stashes in hopes, dreaming of possibilities.
Tonight, I found a possibility. It isn't a big deal to most people, but it is to me.
I'm an adopted kid (on the side of the father only) who never cared to meet her birth father. I had a wonderful and loving Daddy who adopted me. He made my world shine with possibilities and love and joy and pride in my accomplishments. I never needed anyone else to fill that "official" role of father... because I had my Daddy.
About the time I turned 40, I ended up in the ER with chest pains. The ER doc actually asked me if I had any relatives who had died young from a heart attack. When I could not answer, she told me that I needed to find out... if at all possible... and SOON.
I had long talks with friends who gave wise counsel. My mother and I talked it over. I prayed a LOT. And then, I wrote to him... my birth father... to get that valued medical information.
I got that valued medical informaion. But I also got a more valuable relationship with my birth father... and his sisters, my aunts... and a new brother and sister... and the various children that each of them had! WOW!
Last year, I got to take a trip and meet my birth father. Since I had never cared to meet him, I was surprised to find it an emotional journey. Silly me. Of course it would be emotional to meet my birth father. I met my brother and sister...and it shocked me to discover that she has my nose. The exact same nose I see in the mirror every single day of my life. On another face... that looks hauntingly like mine...
And now, in the realm of possibilities and dreams... and in just a few weeks, I get to meet my birth father's sisters... my aunts.
One is a little on the hard-core side, married 9 times now, but I hear she has a marshmallow heart. She never treated my mother right, but I will give her a chance all on her own. She may have mellowed with age. I know she has some great stories to tell.
One has been married to a preacher for 55 years... and told me one day that she has prayed for me every single day of my life... even when I didn't know she existed. I get shivers every time I think about this... what an impact on a life when she never knew if she would ever meet me on this earth.
One, the last of the 3 sisters and aunts, shows me exactly how I will look at age 70, 75, 80... apparently I have been the spitting image of her all my life and never knew it. I see pictures of her and wonder at how in the world I can look so much like another person. In my family, I was called the pretty and sweet one. In her family, she was called the pretty and sweet one. I know now that I inherited almost all of my medical issues from her. I know from the medical issues already manifest in my life what may also come to pass for me. Some good, some kind of scary. It's okay. I also inherited a lot of other things and personality traits... and I can hardly stand the wait before meeting her in person.
I looked into these people with the dream of finally having all of the medical information I needed. Instead, I found an additional family... and another saturation of love in my life.
Possibilities and dreams...
Saturations of love...
... and a little travel for fun!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Right now I need the relaxation tool. Stress is huge and I have to do something to break it for myself.
Work is chaotically busy. We just got the numbers for August and it was almost a record breaking month for new orders.
A co-worker has been treating me terribly for a long time. I finally came to the conclusion that I never did anything to her to deserve this treatment and that she has chosen to be miserable... and to try to take everyone she can down her path of misery. I refuse to go with her down her path. Misery is not my way... too much to enjoy in life. So the next time she acts ugly to me, she's in for a shock. I'm not going to ignore it and act like everything is fine. She and the other co-workers will be quite surprised.
My sweet Mother-In-Law has Alzheimer's. She doesn't know who I am now... which breaks my heart for my husband, who will be next. It's horrible to watch an intelligent woman who has been politically savvy all of her life, degenerate into a childlike mind that can only tell us that she wants to go home. And yet, we love her each moment we still have her.
My sister is getting married. Normally that would be cause for a celebration. The man she is marrying is not committed to her... sets off all my alarms that he is an abuser... and I am afraid for her. Her loneliness is screaming and she is not paying attention to anything or anyone else.
Chaos and stress everywhere.
And so I quilt. It's a new hobby and craft, but it relaxes me. I find joy in seeing small pieces of fabric come together to form a beautiful whole.
And so I quilt.
Friday, September 02, 2005
He has had a special bond with our cats. It was horrible when RowdyGirl died and this week was equally awful as we contemplated letting Squeakers go.
Yesterday’s time at the vet seemed to confirm that she was just too sick and we were going to have to say goodbye. She had a raging infection, a collapsed lung and a huge tumor where her right kidney should be.
The doc was concerned about that tumor more than anything… and really wanted a radiologist to look over the x-rays. I didn’t see any reason to prolong our agony, or hers.
My sweet husband just could not say the words to let her go. So, we let the vet send the x-rays to the radiologist and left Squeakers complaining loudly at the vet’s office… IV fluids and antibiotics going.
I cannot believe that we got such a huge reprieve today… the tumor is not cancer! Her kidney is calcified, but the other one functions perfectly normally. The antibiotics are working already.
Squeakers is home! Complaining about being taken to THAT place, but she is home.
I am just so happy to hear her complaining right now that I can’t tell her to hush. Complain away, my kitty, complain away… you’re home.