No Regrets

Death.  It is inevitable.  It is closer than we expect.  Always.

My father died many years ago.  He was squared away with his life.  He told me that he had no unfinished business.  Nothing left undone.  “Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve done what I wanted and needed to do.”

Go without regrets.  As good as it gets.

Mom?  Not so much.  She fought to the very end — with a ventilator in her throat, she gave a deliberate nod to inform the doctor that she still wanted to be resuscitated should her heart stop during the procedure to unblock her lung.  Three days before she died, she was still calling the shots.  Clearly, she was not ready to go.

i’ve learned a lot while handling her estate.  She did an exceptional job of getting things in order – the big things, anyway.  There are some things i’m discovering that have me scratching my head, but mostly she wasn’t confused about her wishes and had everything in place to make that happen.

i have some work to do… not just regarding the disposition of my estate, but making sure i can go without regret or unfinished business.  This will be a year of mindful attention to that.  Focus on a few items that could potentially be deathbed regrets.

Bridges:  There are people in my life that i have loved, and for whatever reason, discarded or lost.  In some cases, i have no interest in rebuilding the bridge – i feel an urge to nuke it til it glows and strafe it in the dark.  i can count such people on one hand.

There are others… a misunderstanding…  getting angry and closing the door, sometimes without explanation.  My tendency is not always to discuss, argue or sort it out.  i have, on occasion, simply walked away without explanation.  In other cases, it’s just life, distance, and circumstance that has led me away.  People i used to be close to, but our Venn Diagrams no longer intersect on a regular basis.  We’ve just lost touch.

If i were to find myself on my deathbed in the near future?  Suspect i’d have a few regrets about these relationships.  After Mom died, this started to gnaw on me a bit – a couple lost friends bravely reached across the divide to offer condolences. Condolences that were graciously accepted, and appreciated.  i need to work on a few bridges – not to rebuild old relationships in all cases, but to assure that there are no unresolved questions.

Ducks:  i’m over 50.  i have multiple hobbies that are somewhat high risk, i need to get my ducks in a row financially.  Simplify.  Direct assets rather than leave an estate.  No great epiphanies or soul-searching here, i just need to do the work.

This also includes a un-fucking my space.  We still haven’t started excavations on the massive storage locker full of all of Mom’s ‘stuff’.  i do not wish to leave a bunch of useless shit to my children.  The Boy says he’s selling my place fully furnished, all ‘stuff’ in place. Truth is, someone, somewhere, will be stuck going through all of this and i’d like to make it as simple as possible.  So the de-clutter and un-fuckage continues.

Vessel:  Retirement.  The clock is now UNDER three years.  As it looks, i will be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without working again.  This is amazing, and i should not squander such good fortune… Travel figures prominently in my future.  More than a week on holiday here and there, there will be months spent on the road.  Chasing the Northern Lights, hiking through the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu, being a volunteer SCUBA diver supporting reef health monitoring in a variety of warm climates….

i must continue to un-fuck my body… the vessel that will carry me forward (with any luck) into some ridiculous adventures ahead.  This is a lifetime thing, not a ‘one year and done’ endeavor.  Having a reasonable exercise schedule ingrained gives me a decent start.

battle cry“Life is short. Death is forever. Nothing left undone. Go joyfully” – Alan Cottrill

This is my charge for the new year.  The quarterly blog updates were helpful – i felt accountable.  i’ll do the same this year – as much for myself as for your entertainment!

 

 

Un-fucking Myself in 2014: Final Update

At the beginning of the year i had three broad goals – un-fuck my apparently broken finger, un-fuck my space (get rid of stuff) and un-fuck my body (get more exercise, eat better, lose weight).

With quarterly reports in April, June and October i captured my progress/regress as the year rolled by.  Here are the final scores and highlights.

Finger:  Un-fucked.  No surgery required.  This one was as simple as shaking off the anxiety and going to the doctor.  Follow through with physical therapy resolved most of the dysfunction. i consider this one done.  The lesson learned:  Rather than fret and make yourself crazy worrying about the possibility of surgery, or other drastic treatment?  Just go to the doctor and get professional help.  Problems are not solved inside your damn head!

Space:  A strong start in January and February, but i bogged down into the Spring and Summer.  After taking on Mom’s estate, and the associated mounds of paperwork, i regressed a bit – there are still piles of paperwork all over my office, but i will be ahead for the year once i close out estate business.

Body:  Mostly failed on this one.  On the bright side?  With the support of Studley as my accountability buddy, i managed to keep up a nominal 3 days/week gym schedule for the entire year (including two visits this week).  After a great start, losing 25 pounds, i regressed substantially by going back to my highly emotional eating habits.  Re-gained almost 15 pounds, so my net loss for the year was only 10 pounds.  This pisses me off, and i have no one, or nothing to blame, but my own undisciplined ass.

This was also the year i buried my mother.  We knew it was coming, and given her state of health, it wasn’t a surprise.  Regardless of your age there is a bit of an emotional sucker punch when you become an adult orphan.  i don’t want to use this as an excuse, but i am a bit more gentle with myself because of it.

Beyond that transition, and the quest for un-fuckage, it was a damn good year.  Time spent with my independent, adult children – it brings tremendous joy to watch them move confidently into their lives, following deliberate, chosen paths.  Time spent with my companion, enjoying two dive trips to warm, exotic locations along with many other adventures (large and small!).  Time spent with friends – some from my childhood, some i’ve only known a few years.  i am surrounded by good humans!

Reindeer Poo

Time spent with this ol’ fella.  When i started this blog in 2007, i really didn’t expect he’d still be with me – big dogs tend not to live as long as the little yappy ones…  He’ll be 14 in June.  Despite a serious health scare in November, he’s still going strong.  i sleep with this goofball every night – although he’ll need a ramp to reach the bed before long.  Perhaps one of the best things?  i had another year with Mr. Pickles.

Despite being somewhat random with my blogging last year, almost walking away from it several times, i’m feeling the urge to write again.  i’ve been living aggressively.  i have been immersed in some serious life business.  i am planning my retirement.  i feel the need to use this space to hoark up the things that are rattling around in my head, and organize my thinking.

Hoping the new year finds you all healthy and looking forward to what lies ahead!  i’ll be right back…

Party Dawg

When my children were small, we spent every other Christmas on the road to visit my in-laws in Florida.  Other years?  We were on the road to The Trailer Park by noon to celebrate with my family.  We agreed that as long as we had parents to visit, we would do this.

Thanksgiving was different.  His parents were too far away for a visit.  In my clan, we had time-shifted the meal to the Saturday after Thanksgiving due to issues with divorces, and the resultant logistical challenges.  Never mind that Mom had stopped making a meal* at home in the 1970’s, preferring to go out to eat at a local trough buffet restaurant.

When i asked my husband how he’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  He said “At home. Watching football and drinking beer.”  When i asked my children how they’d like to spend our ‘free’ holiday?  They said “Making pizza and just hanging out…”

That’s exactly what we did.  We’d invite ‘stray’ friends over – those who didn’t have family in town.  i’d whip up some pizza dough, buy turkey pepperoni as the only nod to tradition, and we started having a great holiday at home.  Our way.

With the kids grown, and my move to the new place in 2008, i re-started the tradition. Among my friends there was a need for a holiday alternative, so “Thursday” became a thing – a non-traditional meal.  i stayed with the pizza theme, expanded the bar, and opened the doors.

The invite states “Those unable to be with family, those actively avoiding family, those without family, and those who have spent a day with their family and need respite care… Doors open at 6:00 pm, and friends are welcome to drop by until around midnight.”

Thirty or so came and went this year, bringing a variety of goodies to share.  The pool table was used and abused, with the theater room collecting the footballers.  Hot mulled wine, chilled dry cider punch, and a partially successful attempt at bacon-infused bourbon grounded the bar.  Gingerbread trifle, peanut butter pie, and gooey salted caramel chocolate bars appeared on my kitchen counter.  Guests learned to toss pizza dough, and assembled personal pizzas from a spread of toppings. We ate, laughed, and yakked through the night…

the drunk thinktank

Mr. Pickles, my senior dog, has had recent issues with bladder control. Studley was aware of this, and let him out several times to make sure he didn’t paint the carpet.

Around 10 pm, Mr. P took to intermittent barking.  This is usually due to random signals from the dog planet, but that night it was somehow more directed and urgent.  He’d stand next to someone and bark.  Not begging.  Not needing to go outside.  Not wanting attention.

So we kept taking him outside to make sure it wasn’t urinarily urgent.  i patted him and said “Pickles, shutthefuckup!” more than once.  He continued the intermittent barking or the next several hours.  As the last guests were preparing to leave around 1:30 am, he stayed nearby, and would occasionally launch a solid bark.

As i walked the last couple out, i took him for one last mercy break.  Back inside, i unhooked the leash, and he immediately trotted off to the bedroom.  i went into the kitchen to do the final sweep before bed.  Following my old pup shortly afterwards, i found him sprawled across the passenger side of my bed, snoring loudly.

The next day, Studley and i were doing the “Post-Party Analysis”.  i finally realized why Mr. Pickles had been barking.

daisyfae:  “i think i figured it out!  He wanted people to leave so he could go to bed!  He was trying to chase them away because it was past his bedtime!”

Studley:  You think?

daisyfae:  Yes!  This was the old dog equivalent of “Hey, you kids!  Get offa my lawn!”

get offa my lawn

* And we were thankful.  She couldn’t cook for shit…

Nut Busker

Found myself in Las Vegas last weekend.  Not my favorite city, but it is certainly turgid with people-watching opportunities….

My friends and i were spending an evening at The Flamingo, pumping $20’s into slots and video poker, and pounding ‘free’ drinks for entertainment after dinner.  There was a text from Jan late in the evening – “Join us on the Margaritaville Patio!  There’s something we need you to do…”

Having consumed my weight in vodka tonics for the evening, it seemed a reasonable request.  i found them lined up at the bar outside, facing The Strip.  Without a word, i knew why i’d been summoned…

Busking

daisyfae:  No.  Just ‘No!’  Damn… That’s the toughest busker on earth….

We watched him for almost an hour.  Relieved that he had no customers.  Sipping his drink, texting on his phone, he manned his post…

Vegas Strip

We watched the parade on the Vegas Strip.  Couples… A double take… Usually The Man looking over his shoulder as they passed, tapping The Woman on the shoulder and pointing out The Crazy Guy who would take a shot to the balls for $20. Groups of Businessmen, giving him a side-eye and shaking their heads as they walked along. Packs of young men, the bachelor party brigades, goading each other with the challenge….

Occasionally, someone would slow down and read the entire sign. “Women, half price!” The busker would taunt them, in a good-natured way “C’mon! You’ve always wanted to do it, haven’t you?”

A man stepped up behind us...”I was here last night.  There were three BIG dudes who paid him… Launched him.  He went airborne.  Kicked him really hard.  He didn’t flinch…”

Mark and i were trying to figure out how he did it….

daisyfae: Do you think he tucks and tapes, like a drag queen?

Mark: Maybe he’s a eunuch?

We both agreed that we needed answers.  He handed me $10, and i pulled $10 from my pocket…

conversating

daisyfae: So, there was a guy who said you were hammered by some frat-bros last night.  Lifted you in the air and you didn’t flinch.  How the hell do you do this?  Do you tuck?

Busker: No.  It’s real.  I figure if I”m going to go in their faces like this, I need to put up…

daisyfae: Jesus, man… Doesn’t it hurt?

Busker: I just don’t give a fuck anymore…

i handed him $20, wished him a good evening, and he thanked me…

When he folded his sign, it simply said “Stay in school”.

 

 

 

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…

Synchronicity

“Hey, daisyfae!  Your Mom’s been here!”

Studley was on the lanai and grinning.  He had fixed our drinks and headed for the pool, as i finished the conversation with my sister, T, about the latest Trailer Park “scores and highlights”.

daisyfae:  What the hell are you talking about?

Studley:  Look!

On the concrete, next to T’s pool, was a single penny.

daisyfae:  You’re fucking with me, right?  You put that there!

Studley:  Nope.  Came out, set our drinks down and there it was…

daisyfae:  T!  Get out here!  Did you put this there?

Of course she hadn’t seen it.  Her partner, T, didn’t know anything about it either.  Her home is pristine and sparkly clean and modern.  Nothing out of place.  The penny had not been there earlier…

i was rattled.

Mom was a firm believer in “pennies from heaven” – the legend that states that when you lose a loved one, they will often throw you a penny when you need to find it.  A token to know that they are ok, and doing fine on the other side.

She almost got us both killed a few years ago chasing one such token.  We had taken Mom on a cruise to Alaska after Dad died, and she was at her peak “pennies are a sign from the afterlife” frenzy.

i’d rented a wheelchair for the trip because she’d lost a good bit of mobility by then.  Wheeling her across a street in Ketchican, Alaska, she suddenly put on the brakes, Fred Flintstone style.  Jamming her feet to the pavement, she said “There’s a dime!  It’s from your Dad!”

i looked up to see a tour bus headed directly for us.

daisyfae:  Mom, i can either pick up the dime or dodge the bus!

Her feet remained planted, and i snatched the dime from the street, popped a wheelie with the chair and avoided disaster.

My sister and i both remember Mom’s firm belief in the pennies from heaven.  T was rattled, too, and said that the kayak had recently been cleaned near that side of the pool, and perhaps that’s where it came from.

i grabbed my drink and got into the pool.  Studley had already jumped in, and lost his swim trunks.  He was still amused.  Shaking my head, i swam over to him and grabbed my drink.  To say that i was further rattled by what was on the can of Diet Coke holding my whiskey would be an understatement.

heads

There is a promotion by the Coca Cola corporation in the U.S. to randomly tag cans and bottles with names and nicknames – the “Share a Coke with…” campaign.  Of course this was random.

daisyfae:  i’m a fucking scientist…  i KNOW this is not a sign from the great beyond.  It is coincidence – confirmation bias.

Studley [still grinning]: Yep.  But you’re rattled, aren’t you?

daisyfae: ….

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

A week later, i’d taken a day off of work to head to The Park to work estate-related issues.  That was the day my niece, DQ, surprised me with the little musical fella that Mom had asked her to give to me.

Arriving home, i was pretty beat.  Decided to park him on a decorative “table” i’d crafted from my Dad’s old steamer trunk.  The trunk that holds the few sentimental bits and pieces i’ve kept since he died.

Imagine my surprise to find a single fucking penny sitting on the trunk…  In the spot i had decided to park the music box….

tails

i am a scientist…. both by nature and by training.  i fully comprehend the concept of confirmation bias — we see what we expect to see.  Without a reservation, i can tell you that the penny must have been there for a month or more, and i just hadn’t noticed it.

But yeah… i was rattled…. again…

Sign language

While Mom was in ICU, and on a ventilator, she was still communicating with us.  She could nod her head, and even tried writing letters in the air.  i made a makeshift white board using a notebook and some dry erase markers, but her hand wasn’t steady enough to write.

We improvised – we played it as a cross between “Hangman” and “Wheel of Fortune”, with a little bit of “20 Questions” thrown in to narrow the topic.  One of us would slowly say the alphabet and she’d squeeze our hand when we got to the right letter.  “A… B… C… [squeeze].  C?  The first letter is ‘C’?” and she’d nod her head.

We’d move to the second letter… took some time, but she was able to tell us a few things.

First thing she wanted to say?  “I love you…”

Later that afternoon, she started writing in the air with her finger.  We played the game again and she spelled “C. O. L. D.” – she needed a blanket…

The next morning, she indicated she wanted to tell us something – she spelled “B. A. B….”

daisyfae:  “Baby?  You’re having a baby?”

Mom:  [glares at daisyfae and shakes her head]

She had been trying to spell out “Barb”, her best friend from church…. so we got Barb from the waiting room to come back and visit…

The last one was tough…  My sister, T, her partner, DQ and i were with her as she started to spell something new….   i used the white board to keep track of the letters, and help us guess what she was trying to say.

We went slowly through the alphabet, and came up with “N…   E…. E…. D…”  First word is “Need”….

Second word… “T”… “O”… “Need to….”

Very much like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” as he used his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring to decipher the secret message…

Third word, first letter…. “P”

DQ:  You need to P?  But Granny, you’ve got a catheter…

daisyfae:  Do you need to poop?

Mom:  [vigorous nodding]

daisyfae:  [hits the call button to summon a nurse] Sweet wounded Jesus, you poor thing!  It took 20 minutes for you to tell us that….
whiteboard

Quarterly Update: Un-fucking myself

Despite the monkey wrench delivered squarely in my gut in mid-September, i have not forgotten my pledge to gently “un-fuck” myself.  The first two quarterly updates in April and June showed steady progress on my fitness goals, and slowed progress on the excavations…

When my son and daughter came home in July, they were both highly motivated to eat all of the pizza in town, while consuming gallons of tasty beer.  Being some what weak-willed when it comes to food and drink, i managed to gain back 10 pounds of the 25 i’d discarded in the first 6 months of the year.

Happy to say that i’ve unloaded most of that within the same quarter, and can claim a sustained net loss of 25 pounds for the year.  Given two weeks of eating meals from vending machines and gas station roller grills during Mom’s hospitalization, and funerary doings, i’m surprised i haven’t gained any more.

The German language has the most beautiful word:  Kummerspeck.  It means “grief bacon”.  Between the bacon and the booze, it’s a fucking miracle, but i’ve kept up the gym habit, and continue to load my fat arse onto my bicycle seat.  Will stay the course…

As for the excavations?  i managed to clear a bookshelf, and find a home for it, along with a few other small pieces of furniture.  Another trip to donate goods at the thrift store happened, but over all, not much done in this regard.

In fact, as executor for Mom’s estate, i have been hauling boxes and bags of shit back home with me, sorting out piles of bills and legal documents. Feel as though i went backwards in this one – at least for now.  i did manage to find some time this weekend to build some ‘piles’ on the top of the Murphy bed in my office to start to regain some semblance of order… For the past three weeks my dining room table has been a jumble of papers and envelopes and mail and…. stuff…

It will take at least 6 months to get all of it sorted and settled, so i am trenched in on this.  Mom did a good job with estate planning back in February, so it’s not nearly as complicated as it could have been.  But she left me with some rather vexing issues, and all i can do is… wait… think… and keep making piles.

We are moving slowly.  There is no rush to clear Mom’s personal effects, and my niece, DQ is sole owner of the home, so it is entirely up to her to set the pace for such things.  She was absolutely phenomenal during Mom’s last week, and has demonstrated tremendous grace throughout.

As we sat at her dining room table last week, sorting bills and transfers of utilities and the like, she had a few items waiting for me – things she wanted me to have.  Among them?  This little dude…  Mom told her that it was special to me, and that i should probably have it.

i may have been reduced to a blubbering ball of tears and snot…

He kept me company on the ride home that afternoon… Arrivederci, Roma… Good to see you again, kiddo.

Arrivaderci

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