Oh, Brother…

My brother arrived at the hospital before i did.  Mom had gone into respiratory arrest, was intubated and moved to the Intensive Care Unit.  It was the third time Tim had visited with Mom in nine months – and this visit was triggered by – and shortened by – a medical emergency.

When Dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, Tim lived in a house about a mile away*.  He didn’t visit much – “I just can’t bear to see him this way…” being the main excuse.  Apparently he couldn’t bear to hear him that way either, as he rarely called.

When Dad started his final lap, Tim showed up at the hospital.  Tears and apologies.  Seeking forgiveness and absolution from his dying father.  Dad gave him that… Tim promised to spend more time with Mom, and not repeat the same mistake.

No one was entirely shocked when he failed to keep that promise.  His third wife made a concerted effort to visit, but Tim would usually bail out – citing a ‘stomach bug’ or other obligations.  After Wife #3 took a walk, there were no more attempts.

Twelve years (and one wife) later, he was a fixture at Mom’s hospital bedside.  He was attentive during the week – many tears, many apologies.  On the days when Mom was somewhat cognizant, she would become agitated whenever he spoke to her.  She had unfinished business with him – and that had become apparent to me as she made adjustments to her beneficiaries while we tackled her estate planning.

Needless to say, it irritated the shit out of the rest of us.  Reminding my sisters and niece that there was nothing we could say or do to take away the hurt Mom carried.  There was nothing we could say or do to change what had, or hadn’t, happened.  “Be kinder than you feel” became our mantra, and we kept our mouths shut to maintain peace, and avoid drama.

After Mom died, Tim asked to be involved with planning the funeral.  He joined us at the church when we met with the minister to plan the service.  My niece sent an e-mail to all, asking for any ‘recent photos of you, or your children’ with Mom.  Tim, of course, had none to provide.  Mom had given me envelopes of cash to deliver to her children and select grandchildren.  Tim’s envelope was a little lighter than the others, and had been marked with a $3,000 withdrawal – a loan he’d received from her to buy Wife #3 an engagement ring.

He asked me about some of the things from her home… Old jewelry… The coin collection… Some collectible items… “We’re not ready to deal with that just yet”, with the mantra “Be kinder than you feel” scrolling on continuous loop in my head.

Several cousins came for the funeral, but my cousin Penny and her family hadn’t been able to attend.  She still wanted to visit and pay respects.  We arranged for Penny and her clan to attend the annual “Remembrance” service at Mom’s church last weekend.  Inviting the entire local family, i offered to take everyone out for lunch afterwards to give us time to visit.

With a group of 18, we had to wait in the bar until our tables were ready.  i had Bailey’s and coffee, and bought my niece a mimosa.  Others had coffee or soda.  When Tim and his wife arrived, they ordered bourbon.  i was a bit surprised that they got through two rounds each before we were seated.

Over the course of the next two hours, they drank a lot of bourbon – ordering another drink before finishing the one in hand.  Tim’s wife seems able to hold her liquor, but Tim became loud and obnoxious.  As i chased down our server to get the check, Tim pulled out his phone to share a picture.

“I need to show you something.  If anyone ever thinks I didn’t love Mom and Dad…. This is something I built on my porch… It’s my shrine to them.”

The photo showed a fountain with an integrated propane torch.  “I have a ritual.  Every night, I light the torch and turn on the fountain.  I talk to them.  They know I love them.”

My cousin commented “It’s very nice…” and looked my way with a gently furrowed brow.

My intra-cranial chant was momentarily drowned out by a scream.

“WHY THE FUCK COULDN’T YOU TALK TO THEM WHEN THEY WERE ALIVE?!?!?”

“i like the combination of fire and water…” 

He is doing what he has always done… what he has to do to survive.  Revising history.  He is creating a relationship that was never there.  There is nothing to be gained by calling him out on this.  Nothing can change the hurt Mom carried… The one thing she couldn’t resolve before she died.

“Be kinder than you feel…” and move the fuck on.

The only rule

* When he divorced Wife #2, i loaned him money and cosigned a loan so he could keep the house.  It provided a home for him and his three sons, but it was also close to Mom and Dad.  In theory, it would be easy to visit them…

So it goes.

On behalf of the entire family, thank you for being here today as we celebrate the life of our Mother.

Let’s start with a little word association – when you think of Mom, what is the first word that pops into your mind?

Anybody come up with “Tough”? Mom could be characterized as fun-loving, adventurous, generous, tenacious, big-hearted… So many words… But it seems I’m not the only one who thinks of her as ‘tough’.

The scientific definition of toughness is “Strength and Ductility”. Resistance to fracture while stressed… The ability to absorb energy, take repeated blows, without failure.

Tough as nails… One tough cookie…. Built Ford tough…

That was Mom.

We learned pretty early that she was a strong woman. Stick your tongue out in our household? Be prepared to wear a clothespin on it! Bite your sister? Be prepared to have Mom bite you back. Oh, and like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”, we were all connoisseurs of a variety of fine soaps. She maintained order and kept us all in line.

When facing heart bypass surgery in 2008, Mom was informed by her surgeon that if she continued to smoke, her chances of survival would be cut in half. On the spot, she decided that after 65 years of smoking, she should quit. And she did. Cold turkey, that very day.

While collecting information to settle Mom’s estate last night, I looked at one of her checkbooks to make sure I had the right one. Knowing that she would likely be going to the hospital on Monday, she paid her bills on Sunday. She wasn’t able to see well, write well, or even breathe easily… But she paid her bills.

Mom was an incredibly strong woman.

To complement her strength, she was also agile – able to adapt, improvise and overcome.

Fiercely independent, she was at first reluctant to let Dad into her life. He said he could remember the moment he knew he was in love with her – they were at the market, shopping for a block of Swiss cheese. She spent a great deal of time going through the individually weighed packages, trying to find the block with the fewest holes, because she wanted to get the most for her money. He was smitten! She wasn’t quite so sure…

She eventually accepted his proposal, and left the city for the suburbs. Neither she, nor Dad, knew the first thing about home ownership, maintenance, or gardening. She didn’t have a driver’s license. But she adapted, and together they created a garden, became neighbors, joined this congregation, learned how to camp, and raised a family…

Having given up her profession as a nurse to stay home with her children, and later to provide care for her oldest granddaughter she started back to school in her 50’s to brush up her skills. Returning to nursing, she quickly settled into a leadership role on the psychiatric ward at the county hospital – saying she felt right at home there…

She’d be unhappy at this point if i failed to mention that she was a straight-A student…

She was a devoted Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother. Perhaps her greatest gift was her ability to understand each of us as unique individuals – she knew that one size didn’t fit all in her clan. She could coach and mentor us, knowing our capabilities, knowing our limits, and knowing when it was important to push them…

This combination of strength and ductility – her toughness – was apparent through the difficulty of the past week. There was never a doubt in our mind that she was calling the shots – even at the very end of her life. We have been fortunate that Mom’s oldest granddaughter, DQ, and her husband, BJ, have been able to care for her. She waited until they were by her side before she allowed herself to rest…

So we thank you again for coming together with us today to celebrate her life.

Life is short. Death is forever. Go joyfully! Nothing left undone!

MommaThis is the eulogy i delivered yesterday at her funeral… It’s been a pretty rotten couple of weeks, but it seems the worst is behind us.  She turned 86 on Friday, and died two days later… Not a bad run…

End of the Season

At the end of the season, our communal pool is opened up for a Doggie Splash Day.  Residents can bring their pups and they get to fart around in the pool before the final cleaning before closure for the winter months.

This has been one of Mr. Pickles favorite things – and this is a dog whose favorite thing is generally whatever he is doing at the moment.  Today was a storybook perfect early autumn day – blue sky, wispy clouds, and warm, dry air.

Because of other commitments, i took a few hours off work today to make sure he had a chance to enjoy it.  Arriving promptly at 4:00pm, he wasted no time jumping in to steal a toy from another dog, Morgan – an elderly Chesapeake Bay Retriever.  This has become something of an annual tradition.

Devil DogMr. P, having more heart than brains, threw himself into the water with reckless joy.  He’s not always cognizant of where the steps are, so this meant i had to throw myself into the water to guide him back to safety on a few occasions.

He played.  And he played some more.  Other residents – even those without dogs – were entertained by his spirit.  After about 40 minutes, he was getting tired, and i repeatedly had to shepherd him to the steps to rest, but he would have none of that.  i very nearly had to carry him home, because…. well…. DOGS!  WATER!  BALLS!

It was hard to leave, but i was worried about him.  He’d jump in, completely submerge, pop to the surface and snag the tennis ball – but he was starting to gasp to catch his breath.  There is a fine line.  He might push himself too far… But, he’s thirteen years old.  It’s entirely possible that he won’t be alive next year for the Doggie Splash Day.

As i was walking him home, i got a text from my niece, DQ.  Mom has been feeling pretty rotten this week, and has been mostly bedridden with fatigue.  Earlier this week, she told my brother-in-law “I’ve lived a good, long life.  It may be my time…”

When i talked to her last night, her mind was firing on all cylinders, and she was ready to give up.  Given her symptoms, i was pretty sure it was an infection of some sort, and encouraged her to let DQ get some blood work done… Maybe even go to the emergency room if necessary to get checked out.

The text message from DQ was to let me know that Mom has been admitted for pneumonia, which is generally treatable.  She’ll also have to have fluid drained from her lungs – the last time this happened was in early July.  It has come back just a few months later.  Untreated, it will kill her.

Another fine line.

Ultimately, it is Mom’s decision.  i am hopeful that 24 hours of antibiotics will have her feeling less miserable, and perhaps in a better position to sort out her chosen path forward.  i will support it, whatever she decides.

Fingers crossed that she still has some enjoyable days ahead, even if the longer term prognosis sucks.

Happy Pup

Sugar Granny

Putting my brain on hold, i packed up Mom and Studley, and we headed out to the wedding celebration for my brother, T, and his new wife. As you may recall, my sister S had decided this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce T to a half-brother he’d not known about, and had taken the liberty to invite this half-brother to the wedding reception.

As we were driving toward The Park, Mom was reminiscing about what a complete asshole her second husband had been…

Mom: Cletus was married once before me. They had a child together and then he went off into the Army.  Well, his wife took up with another man while Cletus was gone, and had another baby – that was Dave. When Cletus got back, he never acknowledged that Dave was his son…

daisyfae: Wait… What? You mean the newly discovered half-brother may not, in fact, be related to S and T at all?

Mom: Cletus never treated Dave like his own son, and never took any responsibility for him. Cletus had two sisters who disowned Dave, too.

daisyfae: Can…. Did…. Anyone in the family actually do the math? Has there ever been genetic testing done?

Mom: Well, S says he looks just like Cletus.

daisfae: [white-knuckle grip on steering wheel, head explodes] GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Studley: [laughing maniacally from backseat]

~~~~~~~~~~~

Despite my exploded head, we arrived at the party. Wheeling Mom up to a table, we joined my sister, S, along with her possibly half-brother, Dave, and his wife, Pam. There was another woman at the table, who was introduced as Imogene, Pam’s mother. When joining any table, i do a quick triage on seating – trying to optimize conversation for all, with the least amount of annoyance for me. Studley quickly worked the same social math, and had perched his arse on the back of an adjacent sofa, claiming the prime vantage point to watch the fireworks, without getting hit by shrapnel.

i placed Mom’s wheelchair next to S, who was sitting next to Dave and Pam. i dropped into the seat between Mom and Imogene, who proceeded to tell me her life story. A charming woman, Imogene had just turned 91 years old. Full of spark and playfulness, she wasted no time in sharing her annoyance at being dragged to a party where she didn’t know anyone, as well as pulling out pictures of her dead husband.  i was able to get her chatting with Mom, and made a break to inhale a vodka tonic grab a bite to eat.

Studley found me by the barbeque meatballs, shaking his head in astonishment. “Wow.”  My brother, T, and his wife, K, were having a grand time, making the rounds and introducing family and friends. They’d stop briefly to chat, then move on to the next group. A nice collection of humans gathered to celebrate a wedding…

Eventually i returned to the table, and Imogene got going again. Very sweet, very funny, and inquisitive.  She wanted to be introduced to Studley, thinking he was my husband.

daisyfae: No, we are a couple, but not likely to ever marry. We’ve both done that, and are pretty happy as we are…

Imogene: Well, he’s a handsome man, and a real sweetheart! You better hang onto him before he gets away.

Mom: I’ve been telling her the same thing.

Studley: [smiles, raises eyebrow, posts his trademark ‘hey, baby’ look]

~~~~~~~~~~~

Two days later, Studley and i were floating in my pool… doing retirement financial planning – sorting out whether i’ll have sufficient resources to retire early and move the fuck overseas to get as far away from The Park as possible. He has repeatedly assured me that i have more than enough to live such a life, and should really stop worrying about it.

We also did the “after action report” on the previous weekend, which is partly why i needed to go over the retirement financials again. As an afterthought, i reminded him of how much those senior ladies adore him…

daisyfae: You can write your own ticket with the old broads! Between Imogene, and those ladies at the women’s league luncheons, you oughta find yourself an old bat with a lot of cash. Get yourself a Sugar Granny…

Studley: [grinning] What makes you think I haven’t? [dives for safety]Gimme some sugarThis babe found here…

Excavations

Mom is moved back into her home, and even though it took far too long, it is absolutely perfect for her needs.  When we first began excavations, we had to go through a seemingly insurmountable mess – decades of ‘stuff’ that she simply couldn’t part with…

We used four categories:  “Keep” (put in storage during renovations), “Donate”,  “Garage Sale”, and “Pitch”.  The “Donate” pile was substantial, and Mom’s church had a great inventory that year.  The “Garage Sale” items were parked in her back yard shed for future disposition.

This week, my niece, DQ began rooting through some of those items, and has been working on a family garage sale.  i was surprised to get the following picture via text message last night.

glass shit“Another Box Full of Glass Shit”

DQ:  I’m going to assume you’ve been through this box before?

daisyfae:  YES!  Definitely my handwriting!

Blasting Your Past

The message from my brother, T, last April wasn’t a tremendous surprise.  He’d gotten married.  What surprised me was that he’d not married the woman he’d been dating for a year, but had met someone new two weeks prior, and found himself completely smitten – head over heels in love, as he’d never loved anyone before.  And they had just eloped.

One of the reasons i can never give up on my brother is that despite things going rather horribly wrong with his first three marriages, he still genuinely and truly believes in the magic and mystery of love.  Most people would be a little bit crunchy and bitter after all he’s experienced, but not T.  At 60 years old, he has found “the one”, and i’m happy for him.

Perhaps a bit skeptical, but hoping for the best, anyway.

Since they’d not had a proper wedding, T and his new bride, K, decided to throw a party this month to celebrate, and bring the families together.  He is in the process of selling his home, and moving in with her, so the location will be near K’s home – conveniently located about halfway between where i live, and The Park.

Mom really wanted to go, so plans were made for my sister, S, to bring her to the event, which is being held this coming Saturday evening.  Last week, i got a call from S.

S:  I have already RSVP’d to a wedding that night, so I won’t be able to stay.  Is there a chance you can bring Mom home afterward?

daisyfae: Sure.  i had tentative plans for later in the evening, but can adjust.

S: I need to go to a wedding at 6, but can then stop by and pick Mom up to bring her to T’s party.  Maybe stay an hour or so, but I really need to get to the reception for the wedding I said I was going to…

daisyfae: i’ll tweak my plans a bit, the party i was going to will likely run late, so i can drop in later.

This really wasn’t a big deal, just a little extra driving.  It was the next bit that scrambled my circuits…

My oldest sister, S, and brother, T, are technically my half-sister, and half-brother, although none of us really think of it that way.  Mom was married twice before she met Dad, and S and T had a different father.  A man who abandoned them, and Mom, when they were small.  There were some rotten things that happened along the way.  Their father was later murdered, and neither of them has much memory of him.

S has been curious about her biological family, and has reached out to a few biological aunts and uncles to better understand his story.  T, on the other hand, has had absolutely no interest in digging into the past, and has made it clear to S that it is not something he cares to discuss.

Last winter, through a genealogy website, my niece discovered that S and T had two half-brothers through their father.  S was able to connect with the wife of one newly discovered half-brother, Dave, and was invited to attend his surprise 70th birthday party.  You would think that meeting a half-sister you didn’t know existed might be a hell of a shock to a 70 year old heart, it apparently went well, and S has maintained this connection.

As i spoke with S last week regarding logistics for T’s wedding reception, i was stunned to find that she’d invited her half-brother, and his wife, to T’s party.

S: I appreciate that you can get Mom home Saturday!  There’s even more complications though… Dave and his wife are coming down to meet T, too…

daisyfae:  Ummmm….  Did you ask T?  Do they realize that this is essentially T’s wedding reception and that he won’t have a lot of time to talk?

S:  I was going to have it be a surprise, but Mom thought I should tell T first.  They know he’ll be busy, but they really want to meet him.  I need to call them tonight.  T really doesn’t want to talk much about the past, either, and said he really wouldn’t be able to sit and chat with them.  Dave had a lot of history he wanted to tell me, but when I told T I’d invited them, he said he really didn’t want to talk about the past at all…

daisyfae:  It really is T’s wedding reception.  Sure, fourth time’s the charm and all that, but it might not be the best time to meet a half-brother you didn’t know you had…

S: Well, they really want to come…  I’ll have to tell them that I won’t be able to stay too long either.  I might show them a picture of you, since you’ll be there with Mom.  Not that I expect you to babysit them or anything…

daisyfae:   Ummm…. maybe you could suggest there might be a better time for them to come down to meet him?

S:  They’ve got their hearts set on it.

daisyfae: …..

wedding crashers

 

The Perfect Day

The dog was dying.  His owner decided to give his pet a perfect day.  i’d read this sweet story of how one man prepared for the loss of a beloved companion a few years ago.

Since then, i’ve given this some thought, and have planned to do something similar for my old pup, Mr. Pickles.  Rather than wait, i’ve thrown in elements of ‘perfect days’ for my dog as we go about the business of living – why give him just one?  Three weeks ago on a hot June day, Studley and i decided Mr. P needed to go out for ice cream…

He loved it…

Mr. P gets ice cream

Having a dinner of Mexican food and killer margaritas with my children, Studley, and his daughter, we discussed the elements of Mr. Pickles perfect day.  Discussing all the things he loves, we tried to lay out the things he most loves… Cheese.  Chasing a ball.  Chasing the cat*.  Naps.  Splashing in water.  Riding in the jeep.  Eating his own turds.**

i was interrupted during dinner by a call from my niece, DQ.  Mom had been admitted to the hospital earlier this week with fluid in her lungs.  Stepping out to take the call, i got some fairly grim news.  The lung cancer is probably back, and not treatable.  Mom was feeling rotten, also battling a staph infection in her blood.  We made plans to meet with a counselor from hospice.

Returning to the table, i kept the news to myself for a bit – not wanting to take a steaming shit on a really good time.  i filled my children in on the news from The Park when we got home.

The Boy:  Maybe it’s time to craft a Perfect Day for Granny…

daisyfae:  i’ve already done a bit of that… but yeah, we could do more!

In January, i brought Mom to visit when my sister, T and her partner came to town for a long weekend.  We spoiled Mom with attention, and food and entertainment.  Not to mention blessed quiet, which is in short supply in her current living arrangements.

Last May, i had her up for another fun-filled weekend!  Cooked steaks on the grill on a Friday night, then went to a local women’s league luncheon the next day, where she was showered with attention amidst a great deal of silliness.  Putting on two ridiculous Derby hats that i’d crafted, we went to a bourbon tasting – where she enjoyed a perfect mint julep.  Sunday morning, we brought her to the horse show, where she got to see her “baby” compete in the arena with all the other kids…

The prognosis for Mom isn’t great, but it seems the cancer is slow moving.  She’ll need more in-home skilled nursing care in the future.  But she’s not quite dead yet, and finding ways to give her elements of “The Perfect Day” is deeply embedded in my brain.

Derby Day

 * The Boy thought it would be most fun if we tape the cats back legs together, allowing Mr. Pickles a better chance to “play”.  Although Huey is a team player, i’m not sure i’ll go that far…

** Nope.  Not gonna happen.

Arrivederci Roma

The kid with the tangled mane of hair sprawled across the worn gray carpet in the living room  She’d spent hours working the music box mechanism.  Winding up the platform, where the wooden boy, arm raised confidently, strode toward the train.

get on the train kid

She played a game.  Trying to wind up the music box just enough so that as it slowed, it would end on the final strains of the tune.  Sometimes cheating a little, pushing in the metal button to stop the music at the right place.

Forty five years later, the kid still has hard to manage hair.  She still doesn’t care much what it looks like most of the time.  She was back in that same living room yesterday, bringing her mother home from an appointment with the cardiologist…

Mom is doing ok as she approaches her 86th birthday.  The lung cancer has apparently been radiated into submission.  A pacemaker keeps her heart ticking along.  She moves slowly, with the assistance of a cane.  Usually out of breath, the cardiologist ran another EKG, and ordered some blood work to check for anemia.  Checked her pulse oxygen, which was a reasonable 93% using the finger cuff.

“I’m just so tired.  Sometimes I just think my heart is going to quit.”

Mom has been working through her estate plans.  She is not confused about what she wants to happen when she dies, and has taken the advice of her attorney to get things sorted.  We’d just returned from another visit to the bank to address some of these issues

Going into Mom’s apartment, she brought me to the dresser where she keeps her important papers.  She was showing me where she keeps stock certificates, and other assorted documents.

i was surprised to see the little guy on the music box, still chasing that train…

At the first strains of the tune, i was right back on that worn gray carpet.  A little dusty, it still worked perfectly…

“Your Dad gave me that years ago…”

“i know, Mom.  i remember this well…”  Still able to wind it up just so… Still able to use the metal button to bring the music to a halt at just the right place…

“Do you want it?  Put your name on the bottom of it.  Or just take it home now…”

“No.  i can’t do that…  You still have it out!  It looks perfect right here…”

“Well, you better mark it if you want it because if you don’t it might disappear after i’m gone…”

We had discussed this over lunch.  It is entirely within the realm of the plausible that anything that could potentially be of monetary value will vaporize as soon as she dies.  “The perils of benefactors, the blessings of parasites.”

i left it there, but the melody has been stuck in my head ever since.  Thinking about my father.  Thinking about the man that devoted his life to caring for her, and her children.  Leaving behind friends and family in the northeast, and starting over in his new role…

arrevederci roma

Get on that train, kid.  Don’t look back…

Hospital-ity

Renovation to Mom’s house is nearly complete, an occupancy permit has been granted, and after over four years, there is a glimmer of hope that she will get to live in her own home again before she dies! (Plot synopsis here, if you’re new!)

Why, after fourfuckingyears, has this become a priority for my niece, DQ, and her husband, BJ? Progress was sporadic from the start, since BJ needed time off for vacations, deer hunting – not to mention his paying jobs. I had considered several options to increase his motivation over the past few years, but Mom didn’t want to make anyone mad.

The motivation came from an unexpected source – BJ’s parents. When DQ and BJ first married, BJ’s parents bought the house out of foreclosure, offering to rent the house back to them. This arrangement worked fairly well – until September, when BJ’s parents announced their plans to get a divorce. The house must be sold. By Christmas. Essentially, they’re being evicted!

Taking Mom to the cardiologist when this was breaking news, she let me know that DQ had been putting pressure on to change the deed to the house before moving in. For her protection. My reaction was a bit less than enthusiastic…

daisyfae: FUCK THAT!

Mom: I know. I don’t see any reason it can’t wait until after we move in, but she’s worried that the rest of the family will cause trouble and she’ll be homeless.

daisyfae: She has earned compensation for taking care of you!  No one is arguing that! She can always sell the land you gave them. [grinding teeth] You just tell me what you want to do and i’ll make it happen…

Mom: She’s putting pressure on me to set up an appointment with the attorney.

daisyfae: Under no circumstances are you to go to see the attorney to change your will, or the deed to the house, without me present. This will not only protect you, but it will protect DQ should anyone ever think there was coercion.

Mom: That makes sense. I just don’t want her to get upset with me…

daisyfae: Tell her it’s my schedule. i really am busy at work, so taking a day off is going to be tough.

And that’s where we left it…

The message was apparently delivered. A few days later i started getting passive-aggressive pings from DQ about setting up an appointment with the attorney. i was polite – and my schedule really has gotten tough.

This is unpleasant and stressful.  i became engaged in another round of “Trailer Park Mexican Standoff” via e-mail. Trying to take the heat for Mom, without causing any trouble. My instinct is to call bullshit, and be a far more direct, but Mom requested the sideways approach.

It didn’t surprise me to get a call from DQ as i was leaving work last Thursday. Because i was driving, i let it go to voicemail. Just not in the mood to deal with the bullshit. Retrieved the voicemail when i got home.

DQ: Took Granny to the doctor today because her cough has gotten worse, and she’s been very weak. Doctor sent us directly to ER. They’re going to admit her – probable pneumonia. I’ll keep you posted.

Well.

So much for my righteous indignation. When shit hits the fan, DQ does an excellent job taking care of Mom. All squabbles set aside. Priorities firm. We’ll sort out the legal stuff later.

Visited Mom over the weekend, and she took a few minutes to write a note to The Boy. Wished him a happy birthday. Told him she’s proud of him. Didn’t mention her troubles.

hospital-ity

She’s home now, and is doing much better. We came up with a new plan of attack.  We’ll get back to the regularly scheduled bullshit later…

Lessons of old dogs

“Do you think your pup needs to go outside?”

“Nah! i took him out a couple of hours ago! He’s just being a pest!”

Studley and i went on about our project du jour, while my ancient dog continued to try to join the game. He eventually wandered off to the living room and we went on with our adventures. Only to be interrupted a few minutes later by the unmistakable sound of a torrent of urine* being unloaded onto carpet.

Rushing toward intervention i got him hooked to his leash and opened the front door so he could take the remainder out into the bushes. We came back inside, and the poor fella looked rather forlorn, knowing he wasn’t supposed to paint the rug.

Giving him a pat on the head, i assured him that it was ok, as i set about mopping up the mess.

“It’s ok, Buddy! You tried to tell us! Nothing more you could have done!”

i got out the SpotBot to do some extraction.  Mr. Pickles sheepishly wagged his tail and looked a little less grim.

“You know, at his age?  There really isn’t anything he can do to piss me off…”

i stopped dead in my tracks.

“Why don’t i feel the same way about Mom?”

Turns out?  i do.

When i launched the blog back in 2008, one of my primary demons was my relationship with my mother.  i was angry and resentful at her for the way she treated my father.  i was frustrated by her history of ‘one bad damn decision after another’ – primarily in the arena of enabling my siblings to continue to make ‘one bad damn decision after another’.  i could not comprehend her bitterness with life, given that the last half with Dad had been far better than the first half – and she never seemed to demonstrate gratitude for the gifts around her.

But i’ve since realized that her relationship with my father was/is none of my business.  He understood and accepted her.  Who am i to weigh in on that?  Every decision she ever made regarding my siblings was made with love – she wanted to help.  She was born bitter, and will die bitter, and there’s nothing that can change that.  Her heart is generous, it just has a really thick crust on the outside.  She’s done the best she could with what she’s been given.

i can honestly say – “At 84 years old, there is nothing my Mother can do to piss me off.”

mr pickles sez

* My dog has a phenomenal capacity for piss. Through the years, he has developed the ability to hold onto it for many hours.  When he lets go? It’s Victoria Falls. In yellow…