weight of the world…

This week has been rough … ( understatement, I know ) on many levels.  Nationally, the tragedy in Florida sucks the air out of me.

Personally, issues with my mom, my grandchildren…cause me to ache to be able to do more, to fix, to be present everywhere, all the time…

Physically I made it to the gym once.  Not good.  need to be there at least 3 times a week.

And, it is still February.

Breathe.

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Note to self…

Things to NEVER do AGAIN

#1.  Drive husband home, 11 days after back surgery, in a snow storm.  A freakin blizzard like, ice, snow, hail   snow storm.

#2.  Run out of tequilla after #1.

I should be…

at the beach.  There is work to be done at the beach house — pipes burst, removation is just beginning….

But I am where I am supposed to be.  Sitting on the couch watching Rio with my 4 year old grandson, home sick with a nasty cold.  Worrying about my youngest who is on her way to get an ultrasound before they schedule surgery.  Stressing over my husband’s upcoming surgery on his back  — grateful that my doctor appt. yesterday went well.  Wondering how I will supervise the reconstruction of our beach house, care for my husband after surgery and how I am going to help my daughter get two boys to school and home again and care for her after her surgery.  REALLY glad I retired because 2018 would have gotten me fired !

24 hours…

yesterday at 7:25  am the phone rang.  Daughter in law had locked her and granddaughter out of house, and car.  Ran up there — slippers and all , let her in and took sweet granddaughter to her aunts house to catch the school bus.  Put all 3 kids in my car and discussed mermaid pillows and the woes of Monday.

noon.  The phone rings.  Son asking if I can pick said granddaughter up at the bus stop at 4.  Daughter in law is in a meeting until 4.  Of course.  did the grocery shopping, finished the bills, watched ten minutes of news….headed to the bus.  Spent a few minutes with oldest daughter, discussing dinosaurs with 3 year old half dressed grandson ( this child hates shirts) and watching her dog steal socks from the laundry basket and eat duplos. walked up to the bus stop, gathered the three of them off the bus, chatted about recess antics and bus aides and let them back to the house.  Grabbed a pizza left over from birthday party to take to son’s house, buckled granddaughter into car and drove her home.  Son and daughter in law and youngest grandson were already there — spent a few minutes discussing “whats that” with the baby.

5:30.  Meet youngest daughter and son in law for dinner ( kids eat free on Mondays!) both grandsons wired up — the older ( all of 6 years old ) celebrating his first wrestling tournament ( took second) and the younger (4) excited to be at a restaurant with macaroni and cheese AND ice cream.

8:00 pm.  Hit the couch.  Blessed with the realization that I saw, hugged and talked to all 7 grandchildren in one day!

>>>>>>

7:20 am. : Standing, half asleep, in front of the coffee pot..  phone wakes me.  Son asking if  I can pick up granddaughter and take her to aunts to get the bus.  Uh, no.  I could get her and take her to school, but no way I can get dressed and get to her and get her there by bus time….”Its ok mom, we will figure it out”.

7:24 am.  Phone rings.  Youngest daughter.  her youngest is up coughing all night…can I watch him?  Can I take him to doctor?  Of course, bring him to me…….

 

Whew.  This is pretty much why I retired — to help with the kids in Winter.  But, Lord, what a 24 hours!

The search for normal

We drive our grandkids to the boardwalk.  Lights and rides and cheap stuffed animals surround us — then a young man runs out of a storefront — “Stay the F— out of my store, you hear?”

We search for normal.

We sit poolside, toucan floats and cheesy pizza at our side.  I check twitter, only to learn of another shooting in our home town.

We reach for normal.

We run to the ocean edge, scooping shells and searching for sand crabs for bait.  I hear an elderly couple speaking of the newest health care changes being considered.

We yearn for normal.

I can not help but worry that my grandchildren, aged 8 to 2, will never really understand this normal that I look for.  They are growing up without peaches with a quarter inch of fuzz, without open doors and barbecues.  They hear of shootings and presidential “tweets”.  Will they be able to sit on their front step, a half hour before sunrise and smell that sweet morning nectar, see the golden rays jump up behind the neighbors house?  More and more I doubt it.  And more and more I search for pieces of light to share with them, pictures and memories of days gone by when the ocean was clean, the rivers and creeks safe to swim in, woods were for exploring and friends spent the night.

I cry for normal.

hell week…

I should not complain.

Seriously should not. But, whatever, here it comes.  A couple weeks ago our daughter confirmed that she needed to have minor surgery.  Now, “minor” is a relative  term.  My.Daughter.Surgery.  Those words do not blend well, so I had to go into mom mode, reminding myself that it was NOT about me, that I needed to be a resource and a source of strength.  That I had to pray and accept the healing even before I saw it manifested.  That I had to eat and sleep and not hover.  That 3 phone calls a day with “how are you feeling?” is not appropriate or acceptable. I bought her new pajamas and slippers, made a casserole, took the day off work.  “Why mom?  Why are you taking off work?”  Oh, I don’t know…..maybe because MY DAUGHTER IS HAVING SURGERY.  “Just in case you need me for something that day”.  “No, I’ll be fine”.  Turns out her husband couldn’t get off that day and I was needed to do transport, sit in the waiting room drinking nasty coffee == but I was also afforded the wonderful sight of the doctor telling me that everything went well, everything looked great.  Score!

Which would have been enough to make it a rough week, right? Wait for it, it gets better…

3 days before surgery we had our first snow storm of the season.  Husband and son in law decided it was a good day to chop wood.  (You can imagine what is coming, right?).  Off they went.  I did the grocery store run, stocked up on soup and chili ingredients, came home and cuddled up on the couch with coffee and my knitting.  It occurred to me around noon, when there were 3 inches of snow on the  ground and wicked cold, that I hadn’t heard anything.  So I called.  Husband assured me that they were loading the last truck and he would be home for lunch……. 2 hours later I tried his phone and the son in law….no answer… another hour passed, I finished knitting the mittens, and I tried him again.  “Yeah, Im getting some xrays done”.  WTF?  “I fell, I think I broke a rib”.  Truth is, he broke  two, and had been in the ER for 3 hours, I mean, why call me?  Why should I know my husband of 38 years and one day ( don’t even ask about the missed steak dinner reservations for that evening ) was in the ER?

And so began hell week. A week of cooking, shifting blankets, propping pillows, buying coffee, hugging babies, heating casseroles, handing out medicines….worrying.  Scolding.  Threatening to call an ambulance on Wednesday when he had decided he could sleep in the bed and then we couldn’t get him out of it.  45 hour work week…

So, last night I fell asleep at 7:00 pm.  exhausted.  And, of course I awoke at 3 am.  I’m gonna need a nap.

last talk with dad

I just read a little blog post about someone’s “gram” and it brought clearly back my last talk with dad.  It wasnt the day he passed, and it wasnt really the last time we talked, but it was the last time that his eyes looked at me clearly, the last time we had a conversation, and I am saddened and a little ashamed to say, the last time he comforted me .  Here was my dad, MY DAD, frail and brittle, hair askew, sweater buttoned wrong, sitting in his chair at that damned nursing home that my mother made me return him to — comforting me.  In all the sludge that was dimming his brain, through pain and fear and dementia that caused him to lose touch with all of us — he pulled out the strength and love to say to me that night ” It’ll be alright Cindy.  I love you , I love you Cindy”  and when I lay my head on his shoulder and felt those bones where there used to be strong muscle, I cried like a baby.  And, good God, so did he. 

I had gotten up from the table at home, announcing I was going to see dad.  Mom had made me take him back to the nursing home a few days before and i knew she hadnt been to see him that day ” Oh Cindy, he just sits there, he doesnt know if Im there or not” and I wanted to see him .  My oldest and her family were there for dinner, she offered to come with me but I said, no, he’ll be tired, Ill just go in, talk a bit and help him get to bed.

When I walked into the TV room, there he sat, uneaten dinner on the tray, swollen arm resting at his side.  “Hi honey, wheres your mother?”  I sat and we talked.  dad began to cry ” what did I do to deserve this?  Im not a bad person, I did bad things, I shouldnt be here…” On and on.  I didnt know if he was in 2011 in the nursing home or 1946 in the Navy.  I didnt know what era or decade or what it was he thought he had done, but I told him over and over, “daddy you did everything right.  God forgives you for every mistake you ever made. its ok. its ok.”.  His hands were cold, and as I wrapped his sweater closer around him I remembered Taresa had made pie.”  I brought you pie dad”. he devoured it.  And then he cried again.  No more than 2 weeks before his death, small and rattled, sad and so sick, he cried out.  I couldnt take it.  I said “Im sorry daddy, Im so sorry” and he looked at me, eyes clearer and said “Its alright Cindy, its alright.  I love you”.

I called for Taresa and  my husband to come to the nursing home.  I couldnt put my dad in that bed in that corner of that room.  I couldnt.  But I wasnt strong or determined enough to pick him up and put him in my car and bring him home.  Home to die surrounded by things he loved and people he loved.  They came, and dad cried some more, and Taresa looked into those eyes and knew that her pop was still in there.

So many regrets.  Why didnt I take a leave from work to care for him?  mom said she couldnt, said physically she couldnt and ‘would you want to be here all day with a man?” which tells me something of her mental state….Why did I let her call that ambulance and take him  back there?  Why didnt I make them take the damn stent out of his arm, the one that “made him ready for when he needs dialysis” which he never needed….why did I not question the care, the bandages, the rapid decline.  I wasnt in denial, I knew my dad was dying fast, but I couldnt make it right. So many regrets.  I wish he was here now to tell me one more time that it would be alright.