Saturday, September 20, 2008

When do 3 days = one week?

When my mom and my brother visit my sister, that's when. They were supposed to leave last Saturday to visit Lori, John and Ava for a week. They would have arrived home today.

I must say that all of them were really looking forward to this visit with a lot of trepidation. I was getting daily phone calls from all of them. My mom was afraid to fly alone, then when my brother said he would go with her, she was afraid to fly at all. My brother was upset that he hadn't even gotten there yet and my sister was being too "controlling" because she wanted to pick the week that they would be invited. My sister was worried about my brother snooping in all her stuff (a valid concern) and about my mom almost acting like she was only coming out of a sense of obligation.

And on...and on...and on...every day it was something else. By the time the day for the trip finally arrived, I was the one who was ready to pull my hair out.

They left here on Saturday, and I didn't hear anything from anybody for three days. I figured all must be going well. How wrong I was! I got a call from my daughter Stacy on Tuesday inviting me over for dinner. I said I couldn't go because I was going out with Fred (my stepdad). She says, "Oh, you haven't talked to Grandpa, have you?". Uh-oh...

So, I call him, and he tells me that Mom 'wasn't feeling well in Seattle' and she and my brother were on a flight home this very minute and he was going to the airport to pick them up. I said "WHAT????", and he says that he told me too much already, and I'd better call Lori, because he wasn't supposed to say anything until I spoke to her. Oh, hell, what now?

I call Lori, and she says the visit just didn't work out. My brother smoked in the house, my mom was homesick, my brother made messes and just expected people to clean up after him, my mom kept asking prying and uncomfortable questions, and a whole litany of things ending up in several arguments until they all just decided it was best if the visit was cut short.

She also said she felt her own health going downhill with the stress of it all, so she was kind of relieved that they left. Really quite a shame, as it may be the last time either one of them sees her in such (relatively)"good" shape.


Post-script...Kind of a creepy thing... Ava has these "sidewalk chalks" and she was playing with them with my brother, so he knew she had them. After he left, Lori found written on the sidewalk in front of the house, I LOVE YOU with the chalks. That isn't creepy, maybe my brother felt like he couldn't tell her that himself. But then, she was in her rock garden, and on one of the rocks was written, DIE IN PEAC, but the last E was left off, like maybe someone walked out while he was writing it and he had to stop real quick. That is creepy, and he could have been the only person who would write something like that. I got the chills when she was telling me about it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

My new 'friend', Alice

I started seeing a therapist. I don't know what good it will do, but I can't just go around crying all the time. It's not really constant, but the littlest things will bring on a bout that seems to last forever. I need to learn how to cope.

Like the other day in Michaels, they have the new 2009/2010 calendars out. First thing I always do when I pick up a new calendar is flip through and look for my birthday. Next thing I do is flip through and look for Lori's birthday. Her 2009 birthday is only a few months away and we already have plans for that, but as I started to flip to 2010, I couldn't even turn the pages. I just started having all these horrible thoughts. My eyes got all blurry and I just had to go out to the car and have a good cry.

So, the first "therapy" session was really just getting to know each other. Her name is Alice. I think I'm going to like her. She also has late hours and Saturday hours so it doesn't interrupt my work schedule. And when I called her office to make the appointment, she answered the phone herself!

I visit with her again this week, so we'll see how things go and if she has any suggestions for me to help keep things under control.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Live your dreams

Believe me, I don't have any kind of morbid fixation and I am not searching out posts on death and dying, but a link in an AOL story led me to a recent post on this blog, Diary of a Dying Mom, and then I was driven to find out why she had started writing the blog in the first place. So, I went back to her very early blog entries where she does explain why, and I found this beautifully written paragraph about living.

Why tell you all this? Misery loves company? I don’t think that is it although I feel less alone when I tell my friends how I am feeling. What I really want to say to all of you is go outside and run. Feel the wind in your hair and the cool air on your cheeks. Run until you feel tired and then be grateful your body lets you do that. Sing at the top if your lungs (even if you sing as badly as Bill does), dance in your bedroom, take the trip that you are dying to take, do the things that make you happy, etc. Bill’s grandfather lived to be 89 and was healthy enough to bike and golf until the last few months of his life; few people are that lucky. Someday you may not be able to do the things that you love so make sure you do them now, while you can. Everything we all said in the days after 9/11, all the promises that we made – spoken or unspoken – need to be made good on. Enjoy the ride folks just in case we only get one go around.

Great advice for anyone at any age, wouldn't you say? And kids know how to do it best. Stop to look at that pretty flower growing out of the crack in the concrete, for tomorrow it may be gone. Put the dirty dinner dishes aside and spend half an hour making funny faces with your kids before they go to bed. Make wishes on stars, and lay on your back in the grass while you're doing it. These are the things that memories are made of.

As for me, Lori and I are still going to take that trip to Buenavista this year to find the perfect spot for the retirement casita. I know Lori won't be sharing the casita or the retirement with me as we had planned, but that doesn't mean that she can't share in the planning and make memories with me that I'll be smiling over as I drink my morning cup of Nescafe on the patio years from now.


ARGH Moments

I always know how to put my foot in my mouth. I just open my mouth and words pour out before I even think about them. Here are just two examples, but I'm sure there are many more that I still don't even realize I said. Either I'm incredibly naive, impossibly stupid, or some combination of both.

Lori was talking about trying to make her will and how difficult it was because with the stock market the way it is, the value of her investments keeps dropping and she isn't able to leave people with the amount of money she had wanted to.
LORI: My 401K has gone down by about 15% in value just since January.
ME: Mine too. But I figure if I just wait it out, the market has to come back up in a few years.
LORI: Wellll......

We were driving down the street and we saw two brightly dressed old ladies in the car next to us.
LORI: I always wanted to be like that lady.
ME: What, old?
LORI: That would be nice too, but I meant eccentric...


I have really got to start thinking about things before I say them.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Bittersweet Trip

I've been back about a week now, and there has been so much to think about that it's been hard to sit down and put it all out there.

The trip was bittersweet. It had it's great moments as Lori and I giggled together over silly things the way only two sisters can. It had it's medium-sad moments as Ava kept telling me how much she would miss me when I left, but I promised her I would be back to visit often. Little does she know the reason why. And it had it's really rough moments as Lori discussed her estate planning, the progress of her illness and some of her wishes for the later stages.

We didn't get into too much detail with most of it. Lori could tell that I'm not ready yet. I think I'm still in the denial stage. She still walks (well, with a limp), she still drives, goes places on her own, can still manage most of her household responsibilities. How can she be gone in less than 2 years???? I still can't even think about it without crying. I'd better get it all out now, though, because at some point I imagine I will have to be her rock, and a slippery, wet rock just won't do now, will it?

She seems to have a remarkably good attitude. She says she's done her crying, and she's accepted it. The way she sees it is that she is no different from anyone else - we all die - she just happens to know the when and the how of it. She actually feels that she is luckier than most in that by knowing in advance she has time to plan for it and take care of all that must be done.

She is a strong, strong person and I'm glad Ava will get to spend some time learning from her, no matter how much time that turns out to be.