Sunday, November 28, 2010

True Confessions

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I didn't feel thankful. I know, I know, I have much to be thankful for. I've made lists and I've given thanks and I've said thank you to appropriate people.

I just don't feel thankful.

I feel:

Sad, as I remember last Thanksgiving.

Dread, as I think about Mom's future.

Lonely, as I miss my big brother who came to visit Mom before Thanksgiving.

Less than, as I can't set the example of a cheerful, hopeful, thankful mom/wife/daughter/friend. (I thought about faking it, but decided against.)

Grinchy, as I look ahead to Christmas and don't feel joyful.

Oh my. There you have it, the bad and the ugly. My only comfort is that I know of three people (not related to me) who felt the same way this Thanksgiving. They probably probably have the sense not to blog about it though.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interpret This

This morning after church, I was visiting with Mom. I asked her if we could come over this week to help her with preparations. She asked, "Separation?" I leaned in and said, "Preparations. For your company." And she walked away. Um, should I take that as a "No" then?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Driving Miss Jan

I just talked with Mom on the phone and she filled me in on the rest of her week. She is happily getting ready for a visit next week from Loren and family. She is cooking and cleaning. And, she took her friend Jan to her hair appointment yesterday. When I asked why, Mom explained that Jan's car had broken down. Her children voted to not fix it, thinking it was time for Jan to quit driving. Mom said it worked out nicely for her, because Jan took her out to lunch at the Garden Cafe in the bargain. I laughed and asked if she thought Miss Jan told her kids she was having her 89yo friend drive her around!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring Pops

Happy Veteran's Day!

It occurred to me to try our local charity resale shop on my hunt for all things (really, just something) patriotic. Stop Number Five. Ding ding ding! We have a winner. They had some arrangements already made up, but they looked sort of coffee-table-ish. They also had plenty of loose flowers, baskets, and even a little flag.

After I got things all arranged, I told Karis I might have a new career as a plastic flower arranger. She said probably not.

I called Mom to let her know we were going out to Dad's grave and asked if she wanted to come along. She said yes! We pulled Ev out of school at 1:00 and Karis gets out at noon on Thursdays anyway. Dave met us out at the cemetery. Ev wrote a note to Grandpa, Dave read scripture, and we all were grateful for our Pops. It was Mom's first visit to Dad's grave since his burial.

Thanks for your service to our country, Dad. You are our hero.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day Rant

I've been telling the kids for a couple of weeks now that we will put something on Grandpa's grave in honor of his service to our country on Veteran's Day. I thought we would pop into a craft store and pick up a little wreath or arrangement that would be appropriate. Shows you what I know.

Last night I had some extra time in town in between responsibilities, so I made my first stop: Hobby Lobby. Bastion of God and Country. Um, no. I could have some Halloween stuff for clearance, Thanksgiving stuff for half off, or aisles and aisles of Christmas stuff. But nothing, not even a little flag on a wooden stick, for Veteran's Day.

Time for Stop Number Two: Michaels. Having learned my lesson at HL, I asked for help the minute I walked in the door. The clerk said they didn't have anything made up for Veteran's Day, but pointed to a patriotic wreath on the wall. It had some painted cutesy country character in the center. "Uh, it's to lay on my Dad's grave." Cricket, cricket. Seriously, the lady didn't say another word to me! I started picking out flowers to make my own wreath, but then reminded myself of what a craft dork I am and put them all back.

So I thought of my local Kroger store, which usually has seasonal floral arrangements. Surely they will have some little patriotic-looking thing? Stop Number Three and ... no.

A friend had suggested Walmart. I had initially rejected that suggestion because it would mean, well, going to Walmart. But I was getting desperate and Walmart is supposed to be very God and Country, so I gave it a try. Stop Number Four. And no. Nothing.

What is the dang deal? Are we just skipping Veteran's Day this year? Is honoring our soldiers not profitable enough anymore? If I was crafty at all, I would be making wreaths with red poppies by the dozens and giving them out free in front of Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Kroger and Walmart. It makes me want to buy an armload of red poppies and pin them on any and all servicemen and women I can find. Shame on those stores for skipping such an important day! Shame on us for letting them do it.

And endless thanks to the brave men and women who serve our country. They are our heroes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Surprising Part

We spent the night with Bill and Cathy after the reception. Saturday morning, Gayle talked to Mom about flying up for her orchestra Christmas concert and Mark's men's chorus Christmas concert. Mom agreed to come! She also agreed to have me travel with her! I made reservations for us when we got home, along with flight insurance in case Mom's health declines.

We flew home on Saturday. Dave picked us up just in time to catch Nate's last football game. I invited Mom to come with us and after some consideration, she said yes! The weather was perfect. Mom cheered for Nate as he caught passes and said things like "Nail him!" when Nate was on defense. She said it was the first football game she's ever enjoyed.

Then she took us all out to MacKenzie's to celebrate! The woman just continues to amaze me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sad, Sweet, Surprising Weekend

Dave and I drove over Friday morning to pick Mom up for the airport. True to form, her bags were out on the porch, in the dark. Such a different feel from our last trip to the airport though. Even Mom commented, "This is not like going on a cruise." No.

She was happy, though, to find we had arrived early enough for our traditional airport Starbucks (soy, of course, no whip). I was struck by how pretty she looked as we sat there and sipped our small toffee mochas, and asked if I could take her picture. Isn't she beautiful?

Mom let me know as we sat and relaxed together, that she thinks the doctor's prediction of her time remaining is correct. She does not think she will make it past eight months. That means January. I know that many older people make pessimistic predictions about their life expectancy. Dave's grandma used to say every year, "This will be my last Christmas (birthday, Thanksgiving, etc.)." Grandma T lived to be 99. Mom however has called it on every single thing she's said this past year. I'm not taking her statement lightly. In fact, I'm taking it as gospel truth.

We loaded onto our tin can of an airplane, the kind with two seats on one side and one seat on the other side. As we took off, rattling and shaking, Mom exclaimed, "I like this small airplane. You can really tell you are flying. It's more fun!" Every time we would bank sharply and look at the ground, or buffet in the turbulence, she would reiterate how she liked the small plane. What a woman!

As we flew over Kansas and neared the airport, Mom got teary as she looked out the window at her home land. "I love Kansas. Do you love Texas?" Yes, yes I do. Bill, Cathy, Gayle and Lydia were waiting for us in Bill's four door truck. We piled in and hit the road for the Flint Hills. Lydia suggested a scenic byway she had taken from Topeka. It was a lovely drive. We arrived shortly before 3:00, when the service for Aunt Helen was set to begin.

Welcome Cemetery is a sweet little spot in the Flint Hills of Kansas. I was amazed to see about 50 people gathered. All of my brothers and sisters were there. (Mom made a point of telling Dave later that all her kids were there. I think it meant a lot to her.) The service was short, but tender. My sister Ruth played the violin, a local pastor read scripture and prayed, and one of Aunt Helen's grandsons told of his memories of baking Swiss bread with his grandma. (The flowers looked lovely, btw.) Aunt Helen's ashes were buried next to her husband Ed and just across the way from her grandma. Bill and Cathy planted the peonies for Mom.

After all good-byes were said, we gathered at the McDowell Creek Community Center for a barbecue dinner. I met relatives I had never met before and visited with my siblings. Barbie and Marsha had brought photo albums that spanned from Aunt Helen's childhood to her 90th birthday party. Amazing history.

My goodness, this has gotten long. I think I'll put the surprising part in a separate post.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nurse Christy Report

I called hospice today to get a report from Nurse Christy. She said the only signs Mom shows of the cancer progressing are the increased diarrhea and the one occasion of blood in her stool. And maybe a little slowdown in the energy level. She said she was actually a little glad for a couple of symptoms, otherwise they couldn't keep her on hospice! Christy did say she is asking Mom very specific questions, hoping to get information that might otherwise go unsaid.

Mom will have to discontinue hospice for the weekend and then re-up when she returns, due to the out-of-state travel. Same thing applies if she flies to Gayle's for Christmas concerts. I guess that is one way to keep her hospice status...keep signing off and back on.

I am very thankful for the good, compassionate care Mom is receiving. Hospice is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Know What Today Is?

Dad's Birthday (He would have been 89, the same age as Mom for a few months.)

Election Day (The perfect complement to Dad's birthday. Did you vote? I'm sure he's checking.)

My First Blogiversary (Not so happy though.)

I got teary a couple of times last night and today thinking about Dad.

Karis and Meg went by the house early this afternoon and Meg, Ev and I went by after school. Mom seems okay.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Is There a Brain Doctor in the House?

My brain hurts!

You know how you can be going along, thinking you are doing fine, and then something happens like, say, your hair starts to fall out? And you realize maybe you are not doing as fine as you thought?

I woke up this morning, thought about what I needed to do before we left for school, got ready, packed one lunch, grabbed a couple of water bottles, was ready before the girls, drove to school, exchanged small talk with my boss, walked out the door to get my first student...

And realized I left my son at home. Sound asleep in his warm bed. Monday is one of his regular educational therapy days, so he comes to school with us in the morning. Last week our diagnostician asked me if I felt ADD. Um, yeah, I guess so.

So, I employed a strategy that my boss teaches in her student organization class and did a Brain Dump. I just started writing down everything on my mind that I need to do. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then I starred the things I needed to do immediately, today. Once the immediate things were taken care of, I assigned the others to different days this week. A couple of things even had to get bounced to next week.

I also asked Nate to take on the responsibility of setting his own alarm and reminding me when he needs to come with me. I need all the help I can get.