Cannot be unseen…

We needed to go through Mom’s office. Because she valued everything she saved, we felt compelled to touch everything before determining disposition – we owe her that. Spending a Sunday morning at the homestead, my niece DQ, sister S, and i plowed into the task at hand.

We created piles – “Save”, “Trash”, “Donate” and got to work, each of us grabbing a box of stuff for excavation. The first box i grabbed came from the file cabinet. Reaching in, i pulled a worn envelope, stuffed full of aged, brown papers. Naked lady playing cards, purple mimeographed ‘office jokes’, and a stack of typewritten stories.

the collection

There was a two page “diary” entry, dated 3 November 1952, Avonmouth, Bristol, England…

Dear Diary:

I had a date with Ted last night and we drove along for about an hour or so until we came to a small house beside the road in the woods. Ted drove the car behind the house and we got out and knocked at the door, a girl came to the door and opened it. She was perfectly formed, having a beautiful body and legs. The rich crop of black hair at her cunt made me envious immediately.

Well… that escalated quickly, didn’t it?  Apparently Betty, and her boyfriend, Bob, were expecting company. Then the orgy commenced… Lots of poorly-written, detailed exploits for these two couples.  Criminal abuse of the words “juice”,  “moist”, and “moans of ecstasy”.

“Holy shit! i found Mom’s porn collection!”

Although badly written hard core erotica, i was delightfully surprised with the degree of sexual adventure it captured… Who knew grandma could get her freak on with another woman?

to be...

As traumatic as it was to find this gem in the stack of fragile papers, it was this one that makes me want to take a cheese grater to the memory lobes of my brain… In complete shock, i read it to my sister and my niece…

A True Dog Story

I was married when I was 16, younger than most girls nowadays. I had a good husband and life ran smoothly for me until I was 20, then my husband died. After I had been a widow about two years, there was a burglar scare in our neighborhood and my friends advised me to get a watch dog to keep strangers away.

Well. Can anyone else see where this is going?  After our heroine has to rush from the bathtub to see who is knocking on her front door, the new watch dog decides to get frisky… i cannot retype the entire text because i will end up stark raving mad. There are gems like this “He finally managed to lift my hips with his front paws…”and “After a short struggle, I fainted.”

As you can imagine, my sister and niece were both screaming at me, “STOP!  PLEASE!” but one must share such horror. It was a train wreck – i couldn’t make myself stop.

The lady and her dog apparently continued hot and heavy for a few months, until invariably a neighbor lady caught them. “You should have seen her eyes stick out when she saw that the dog had me pinned to the bed, screwing to beat hell”.

So what the hell am i supposed to do with this stuff? Trash it? Burn it? There is only one answer, at least now that i have been permanently scarred by this discovery…

Put it in a storage case and forget about it. Let my children find it after i’m dead. It’s only fair…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

UPDATE:  Added this image for Ms. Texas Trailer Park Trash!  Apparently she found this in her Father’s stash when she was a child!  Since this was the least freaky of the things i found, i kept it and will likely use this for notes!

things to do today notepad

Trailer Park Family Values

With the passage of a law in the state of Florida, my sister, T and her partner, T* are free to marry! They’ve been together for nine years and have built a home – and a life – together. This is grand news, and plans for their celebration are underway!

T called me early last month to share the news, and check schedules. Studley, who is ordained as a minister in the Church of our Lady of Perpetual Motion**, will be performing the ceremony. The celebration will take place on a fabulous chartered yacht in Biscayne Bay at sunset! i will serve as MC for the reception! We are so very excited for them!

As T was working through details, she was wondering how to handle invitations to the members of the Trailer Park. Relationships were strained for the past few decades years. Like me, T was at odds with Mom’s living arrangements and choices. There had been scuffles – direct and indirect – that led T to take some time to decide whether she’d invite the rest of the family, or keep it fairly small.

With Mom’s death in September, i would have predicted that the entire clan would have imploded by now, and this would never be an issue. i fully expected to wander off from most of the rest of them after Mom was in the ground. T, already living a thousand miles away from The Park, had placed great geographic distance between her and the rest of the clan.

Yet it was my sister, T, who articulated the words that brought peace to most of the clan. In a conversation with my niece, DQ, T said “We all wanted what was best for Mom, we just didn’t agree on what that was… Now that she’s dead, none of that really matters.”

After deliberations, T decided to invite the entire clan, with some concerns about drunken drama and bad behavior causing disruptions. i assured her that i would manage the family dynamic, and promised to contain bullshit on her wedding day.

The curve ball in planning came from elsewhere. My sister’s partner comes from a family of means, politically visible and very well known in their hometown. Despite the fact that her mother shared a champagne toast to celebrate their engagement, she let it be known that she could not attend the wedding. T’s brother, also felt that a public wedding was not something he could support, and declined the invitation.

This was unexpected and heart-breaking for both my sister and her partner. Her brother had been with his wife for a mere two years before marriage – a fraction of the nine years T and T have been together. It seems they are more concerned about appearances than they are about the happiness of a daughter, and sister.

Fortunately, T’s sister will buck the family position, and is going to be there to celebrate.  As will the entire Trailer Park clan… Words i would never have expected to hear from my sister – “Our family is pretty fucked up, and we’ve certainly got our warts, but at this moment I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”

let them eat cake

* i know this is confusing.  i should use names… i’ll figure something out. It’s only been 7 years out here… Give me a break!

** Not a real church, but neither is the one that grants on-line ordinations!

Follow The Money

“You do realize that you’ve made the majority of your assets ‘payable on death’ to daisyfae.  The directions in your will do not apply to those assets – they belong to her the minute you die.  Are you sure that’s what you want to do?”

“I told her to divide by four.  She’ll divide by four.”

Mom didn’t even glance at me as she delivered the line.  She was not confused.

We met with Mom’s attorney about a year ago to wrap up loose ends of her estate planning.  Ken is a good ol’ country boy, close to my age, practicing law with two other attorneys out of a renovated house in a village near the Trailer Park.

“OK, then.  Let’s identify other assets you may have.  Do you have any cash around the house?” Ken was taking notes.  “How much, roughly, do you have on hand?”

“About $50,000.”

He looked up over his reading glasses – first at Mom, then at me.  Addressing him, i said “Excuse me…”.  Turning to Mom “What the fuck?  You have that much cash lying around the house?  You have been living like a gypsy for the past four years!  Jesus, Momma!  We’ve talked about this!  With all the workers and transients coming through there, it isn’t secure.”

“It’s in a locked box…”

“It’s in a locked box with a HANDLE!” i said, firmly placing my face into my palm.  Through my fingers i asked her “When was the last time you saw the box?  Inventoried the contents?”

“Well, I haven’t had a lot of privacy… Maybe two years ago?”

Ken barely raised an eyebrow. i apologized for the disruption and let them continue.  i was there as her driver and observer.

Through the course of the conversation, Mom laid out her financial soul*, and the circumstances of her life.  She declared her wish to leave the house, and the acreage, to my niece who had been taking care of her for four years.  Working through details for over two hours, Ken got a good bit of insight into life in the Trailer Park, and an introduction to the cast of characters.

When Mom landed in the intensive care unit after being admitted to the hospital, one of the first things i needed to do was get that box out of the laundry basket in her bedroom where she’d hidden it.  She’d also told me where she’d stashed the keys.

Preparing to leave the hospital that night, i told my niece, DQ, that i needed to swing by the house to find the original “power of attorney” form, which i believed to be in a locked box.  She said she’d call her husband, BJ, so he’d be expecting me.

BJ and the 7 year old, DQ III, were happy to help me find that box.  In fact, they had the box sitting on a chair in Mom’s living room.  BJ asked if i knew where the key was.  DQ III piped up helpfully “We don’t have the key!  We’ve tried every key we could find and none of them work!”

Grabbing another file box, overflowing with papers, i also snagged Mom’s purse, hoping that i’d find the key she’d hidden the in the lining.  “Well, i’m sure the form i’m looking for is in there somewhere… i’ll go through this all tonight” and beat a hasty retreat to my car.

Getting home, Studley was there to meet me in the driveway with a vodka tonic, and had dinner ready on the table.  We inventoried the box.  It was all in there.  Neatly divided into envelopes, recipients identified, she’d prepared all the cash for distribution.  Other treasures as well, including my grandfather’s pocket watch, and jewelry that belonged to my grandmother.

This belonged to the woman who didn’t want to call a medical transport to take her to the hospital because it might cost $250.  This belonged to the woman who fretted over every penny she spent on herself.  Prepared for a rainy day, she was now in the monsoon season.  Too late to enjoy any of it…

~~~~~~~~~~~

The week after Mom died, i met with Ken.  He got me started on filling out necessary paperwork, and coached me on navigating the wickets ahead.  We went through assets that were likely to be outside the estate, and the few items that would need to be included.  When we were done with the formalities, he looked me directly in the eye.

“Your Mom knew what she was doing.  Given all the crazy business in your family, your niece exploiting her, she just left everything to you, didn’t she?  She appreciated that you’ve worked hard all your life, and that you’d probably go do good things with all that money.”

“Ken, you heard her say ‘divide by four’.  That’s what she wanted.  The house and property go to my niece, and everything else is divvied up between me and my sisters and brother.”

“Yeah, but you’ve been the one who has looked after her interests for all these years.  Don’t you think she really left it to you because you’ll end up taking care of them all anyway?  Why else would she have done it this way?  You don’t have to tell anyone how much is there – it’s all yours.  They don’t even need to know…”

i was stunned.  Was he really suggesting that i keep it all?

Leaning forward, staring him down. “Sir, you are looking at 200 pounds of pure guilt.  She said ‘divide by four’ and i’m going to divide by four.  There is no other option.”

He sprouted a huge grin, leaned back in his chair and said “And THAT’S why she picked you!  Ok, about transferring the title to her car…”

honest lawyer

*Mostly.  i’m still finding Easter Eggs here and there.  Places where she stashed assets and either forgot about or forgot to mention… Going through some of her papers, there are a few mysteries afoot, too.

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.