Where’s a Tsunami when you need it?

On Monday, i took Mom to see her smokin’ hot cardiologist for a routine check up.  One of the reasons i continue to have a potentially life-altering mild girl-crush on Dr. M is that she will fuss over my mother like she’s the only patient since the beginning of all time. 

Before entering the exam room, she had familiarized herself with every single detail of Mom’s lung cancer diagnosis, which was provided in an update to her medical records.  She also flashed me a Hollywood smile and asked where i’d gotten the tan*.  The good news?  Heart doctor says Mom is doing great on the cardiology front.  One less thing…

Mom has now had two of the four scheduled radiation treatments.  She’s chipper and enjoying the frequent doctor visits – each of which means a breakfast, lunch or dinner OUT.  i asked about any discomfort or side effects.  She said “Well, at first I thought I felt it burning – but I realized that was just my imagination.  It doesn’t hurt, I just get stiff staying in one place for so long…”.

As we wrapped up the cardiology appointment, it was off for lunch at our “usual” restaurant.  i had noticed that Mom has lost a couple of pounds – but at 4″9″ tall and 196 pounds, she’s not the picture of fitness.  The name “Short Round” comes to mind.  She’s never exercised, and “fried” is her favorite food group.  At 82?  It’s a miracle she’s able to walk under her own power at all…

She shuffled from the car to the door of the restaurant – huffing and puffing the short distance from the reserved “handicapped” parking space.  Once inside?  She was off like a rocket** to read the ‘daily specials’ board, and followed on the heels of the restaurant hostess like a tracking hound. 

Waiting for lunch, Mom mentioned that things are going pretty well in the trailer park.  Seems the run of stomach flu has passed.  Steady progress on the renovated homestead.  They’ve gotten rid of one dog, and bought another – a puppy who is yet to be house trained, making late night visits to the bathroom like walking a minefield.

My niece’s youngest daughter, DQ III, is quite a handful at three years old.  Such a spunky little thing that she must have her own bedroom – separate from the bedroom of DQ, Jr., who is fifteen and “needs her space”.  It has rankled me for over a year that while Mom sleeps on a bed in DQ’s living room during renovations, the two kids have their own PRIVATE bedrooms.

But when Mom informed me that little DQ III is “going through a phase” where she sleeps with DQ and BJ every night?  i about choked on my bourbon barrel ale***.  “You mean that the little shit isn’t even USING that bedroom while you’re on display in the living room like a zoo animal?  Seriously, Mom, do you want me to say something?  This is bullshit!”

“Oh, no… Don’t rock the boat…”

lovely photo found here.

* It was a tan, and not just blushing…

** If i really want to see her move?  Put her within 20 yards of an “all you can eat” buffet trough and watch her go!  Oh, and for someone who can’t read because of eye troubles?  Stick a menu in her hands and she’s worked through the fine print in seconds…

*** Shut. Up.  It was a late lunch.  And it’s a lovely beer…

The Catsket

Shortly after Dad died, i encouraged Mom to get a cat for company.  A friend of mine had a cat that dropped an unexpected litter so we stopped by and Mom found “Ladybug”.  At first, the cat was sweet and playful, but Mom didn’t like the biting.  She used the “spray bottle full of water” technique to discourage the cat from chewing on her.  It sort of worked, but the end result was that the cat got a little bit nasty.

Mom loved Ladybug, and although the cat made sport of hissing at the rest of us, biting our ankles, and generally making visits unpleasant, she was good company.  When Mom moved in with my niece last summer, the cat had to stay alone in the old house, due to fears that Ladybug would bite the baby, or scuff it up amongst the numerous animals in their existing menagerie.

Ladybug got even more snarly.  Mom loved her, and continued to visit when she could.  Last winter, my niece gave into Mom’s demands to bring the cat with her, and Ladybug was assimilated into the new environment.  Even just a touch nastier than before, but Mom was happy with Ladybug curled up beside her in the bed in the living room.

When i visited last week, it was obvious that Ladybug wasn’t doing well.  She’d been a fat cat, but had become a bag of bones over the past two months.  Mom was trying to fatten her up, but no luck.  When she stopped drinking water, Mom finally got my niece to take her to the vet*. 

This past Tuesday afternoon, i got a text from my niece. “Ladybug will need to be put down”.  Asking if it was kidneys, my niece affirmed the dreaded diagnosis, assuring that it’s all over but the hissing.  i asked how Mom was taking it, and my niece immediately texted back “Not well.  Can you call?”

It was very sweet of my niece to reach out for help, and as soon as i could abandon the work project of the moment, i called Mom.  She was obviously distraught. 

daisyfae:  DQ told me that Ladybug is in bad shape.  What’s going on?

Mom:  The vet said her kidneys are failing, and he recommended we put her to sleep.

daisyfae:  Ouch.  That’s pretty sad – she was just getting used to living with you again.  When are you going to do it?

Mom:  I don’t know.  I’m not ready yet.

daisyfae:  Is the cat suffering?  You don’t want her to be in pain…

Mom:  I don’t think so.  She doesn’t want me to touch her though. She’s not even feeling well enough to hiss at anybody.  I might be ready later this week…

daisyfae [flashbacks to conversations when Dad was on life support]:  But the vet said there’s no way she’ll get better.  It would be horrible if she has to suffer unnecessarily.

Mom:  I just don’t want to do anything too soon…

daisyfae [now having SERIOUS flashbacks to the interminable days before Mom signed the “do not resuscitate” order for Dad after he was full of tubes, in a coma, suffering complete multiple organ failure]:  It’s your call…

In the meantime, my niece, DQ, who has so thoughtfully reached out to get more support for Mom, decided that this would be a perfectly grand time to run the vacuum cleaner in the living room – where Mom was attempting to talk to me on the phone.  Through the noise, Mom finally agreed that she’d need to do it soon, but repeated that she wasn’t ready to let go yet.   Offering moral support, hugs and love, i told her i’d give a call later…

That was Tuesday afternoon.  On Wednesday afternoon, i received the following two pictures from my niece via text message.

Realizing what this was when the second photo arrived, i wrote her back asking if Ladybug had been put to sleep yet. 

DQ:  No.  BJ’s taking her to the vet now.  He worked on this all night long.

On the one hand? It was a beautiful and sweet gesture by BJ.  Clearly, it was meant to help Mom work through the impending loss of her cat, and perhaps even helped speed up her decision calculus, sparing the cat unnecessary suffering.

On the other hand?  BJ has been unable to find the time to continue renovations on Mom’s house, which is why she is still living on a bed in their living room.  He can spend 24 hours making a casket for a cat?


Such is the paradox of The Trailer Park… and an example of why i can’t completely give up on them.  Sometimes all i can do is shake my head. 


* The cat.  Took the cat to the vet….  U.S. health care is bad, but not quite that bad.  Yet.  Although it would have been far less expensive if i’d gotten myself spayed instead of doing that tubal ligation procedure.

Junk in da trunk

Mom and i rarely see things the same way.  And not just because she’s got a touch of the ol’ macular degeneration going on…

Arriving to pick her up for a belated Easter dinner, i was greeted with a pile of crap in her driveway.  As i got out of the car, my niece, DQ, came over from her house next door to explain.  She and Mom had spent a couple hours clearing some junk from the garage – in order to excavate an ancient roll top desk* that could still be serviceable with repair and refinishing. 

Mom doesn’t like to get rid of housewares.  Things that might still be useful.  In order to convince Mom to get rid of a few such items, DQ would say “I bet daisyfae could use this!” and it went into the pile in the driveway.  DQ told me that there was a thrift store drop off location nearly on my way home…

At the bottom of the stack was something that truly caught my eye.  A small, black steamer trunk.  DQ said “She was willing to throw that out, but I thought you might actually want that.  It was your Dad’s…”.  Oh, hell yeah…   Piling it all into my car, i completed the task at hand – and took Mom out for a belated Easter dinner.

Returning home, Mom felt compelled to root through the trash dumpster, and complained that DQ threw out things she wanted to keep… pulling a plastic ‘hula girl’ bra from the top of the pile, she said “Like this!  I might want this someday…” and continued to look for more discarded treasures… i explained (again) that she’ll need to prioritize, because we can’t begin to clean the house for her if we’re just moving shit from place to place.  It’s got to go.

The displaced housewares were dropped at the thrift store, but the trunk found its way home with me.  Yellowed stickers from railway transit.  Boston to Detroit.  Value:  $150.  Guessing that it was in the late 1940’s when Dad graduated and started his first job after college.  It needed some cleaning, but was in good shape.

My daughter has a good eye for re-purposing used items, and immediately said “You were looking for an accent table for that wall?  Just put some legs on it…”. 

Done.  And my Mother’s garbage has found a perfectly good home in my living room…


* The desk?  Belonged to Mom’s Grandfather.  That’d be DQ’s Great-great-grandfather.  Best guess is that this desk was purchased shortly after the turn of the century.  It has been molding and rotting in that garage since her father died in 1979.  At least it is mostly salvageable… unlike many other items that have gotten buried under the faded plastic flowers, stacks of old magazines, empty popcorn tins and plastic butter tubs that Mom refuses to let go of…