My former BIL (who’s still a member of the family) calls this photo “The Three Amigos.” In fact, I didn’t need the cane at the time, but my sister (on the left) needed two so I borrowed one of hers). And that’s Moomaw in the middle.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out she died on Wednesday. I was all set to bring her home on Thursday, and I deliberately didn’t go see her on Tuesday because she’d been so vicious. And I still don’t regret that. In truth, she might not have been able to control how awful she was but she really wouldn’t have wanted to subject me to it. I stopped by on Wednesday to see her on my way to pick up my glasses, only to find that she’d fallen, been diagnosed with pneumonia and been sent to the hospital. I got there and she was in pretty rough shape. When the nurse managed to rouse her and ask if she knew who I was she smiled and said “that’s my darling Krissie.” But she didn’t say much else. I fed her a little orange sherbet and some cranberry juice, but she kept falling asleep, and I asked the doctor, but the doctor said it was the pneumonia and when the antibiotics took effect she’d be doing a lot better. She should be out of there in two to three days and then back to rehab to get stronger before she went home.
So I went to get my glasses. I managed to wake her enough to tell her I was going but coming back, and she asked very clearly “what time are you coming back?” Which was odd, because she didn’t even know where she was. But I said “five” and she repeated it.
I got back at six. She’d coded at about 4:50, just before I was due back.
It was very peaceful and painless, just falling asleep. I keep wishing I hadn’t gone off, because I knew she looked like death, but they told me it was just the pneumonia and she was going to be fine. And I think she wanted to be gone before I got back. Wanting to do something nice for me, I think.
I got there and her door was closed with a sign that said “visitors please check in with the nurse’s station.” Even then I didn’t know.
I can’t figure out why I’m so upset. She could be mean as a snake, she wasn’t cut out to be a mother. It doesn’t matter, she was MY mother, damn it.
So tough times at Hacienda del Ohlroggio.
Both my niece and my son are flying in tonight (I’m writing this on thursday night). And Erin brought Alex by and we played in the pool, so that was helped.
These things have to happen, don’t they? They’re supposed to. She outlived everyone else in my family and it was starting to look like she’d outlive me.
I just wish … Hell, I wish she were back and being a bitch. I don’t want her dead. She looked so sad.
Naaah, don’t want to talk about She Who Will Not Be Named today. She takes up way too much of my time.
Instead, I’m thinking about focusing on food. I bounced up to 230 and have stayed there, no higher, no lower (well, between 230.6 and 230.3) even though I’ve stopped being indulgent. Maybe it’s the stress. I made oatmeal again, after a couple of weeks break (it’s about 65 on the deck so it’s not too warm for oatmeal) so that should fill me up in the morning. Haven’t been eating even whole grain bread, though I had wild and brown rice last night with chicken breast and low-fat mango curry.
Eating even more salads. Fewer goldfish.
Ah, but no exercise. Well, standing around for long periods of time in between singing “How do you solve a problem like Maria” which is painful but not burning calories. I pulled out a lot of my 2x t-shirts to give away and suddenly thought, what if I completely fail at this? I’ve been coasting for too long.
But then I remembered that this is a really tough time for me. Holding steady is good. Once this is over, my mother is stashed back in her apartment with supports in place, then I can focus on my own life. Much as I’m trying to, I still gotta move her from column A to Column B.
I’m going to pick up my new glasses in the big city today. I’ll swing by the rehab center and talk to them and pop in to see my mother (and pop right out again depending on her behavior). That should give me a hint as to how she’ll be when she gets home.
Ooops, back to talking about Her.
Anyway, I’m off to the big city, where I’ll buy myself a present (god knows what, but I deserve it) and tomorrow you’ll get to see me with lovely glasses. Tomorrow I’ll do my duty, and then it’ll be warm enough to swim again, and after rehearsal I’ll float in the pool and listen to the new SEP book and have an utterly fabulous time. You gotta grab joy where you can.
Which is all part of being fabulous, I think.
Yesterday was exhausting. Emotionally as well as physically. I blew off the quilt show and just came home. I really didn’t think I’d mind taking her over to the rehab place, but it was depressing. Pushed all sorts of buttons for me, brought back awful childhood memories.
Hmmm. A hummingbird just buzzed by to the pot of lavender in front of me, and it felt like a message not to think of awful childhood memories. So I won’t.
She already sent a message home that she doesn’t need to be in that place, but I’m just going to tell her there’s no place closer at this point, and she needs to suck it up (in the nicest possible way). I’ll tell her to work hard on her rehab and I’ll see if I can get her a new roommate. But she has to put on her big girl panties (in the nicest possible way). And then, no matter how tired I am, I’ll go to the quilt show. And when I come home I’ll go to the first musical run-through for the nuns.
Okay, on to other things. Exercise is going to be tricky, unless have have a hot summer (a mixed blessing if I’m wearing a nun’s habit). If it’s hot I can go to Aunt Alice’s or Uncle Bill’s beach and do water walking there (our white elephant and the bane of my existence is being rented all summer). And I can figure out some water exercises for our relatively shallow pool (42″). I don’t think it’s deep enough to take enough weight off my poor knees for walking, but there are other things I can do. And I imagine I’ll be more active with the show than I usually am so that will help. I’ll also be too busy to keep heading toward the damned goldfish.
Not quite sure how I’ll manage the knees. I know I can handle being on-stage, but standing around can be difficult. Maybe I’ll see if there’s one of those little camp stools I can cart around with me to take a load off. And I can use my cane. My main problems are walking long distances (hence the motor scooters at WDW and RWA) and standing for long periods. I’m determined to manage it. Fortunately I’m a Nun with Character, not an ingenue, so limping or a cane would still work. Hell, I could Glee it and do it from a wheel chair. (Is that the first time Glee was used as a verb? Probably not.)
Anyway, it’s a beautiful morning, the birds are swooping, the air is clear, the sky is intensely blue, and my loins are girded. (Maybe that’s why I have trouble walking. I always have to gird my damned loins!)
So Terri got it, of course. I thought I was being a lot cagier.
I just wanted to be a nun. I have a thing about nuns, always have. Turns out I’m Sister Margaretta and I have more lines than any nun but the Mother Abbess. It should be a hoot. I don’t get stage fright, and I’m basically just a very big personality, plus I can sing a bit, so it should be lots of fun.
However, I just got the rehearsal schedule, and it’s brutal. It’s 10 to 12:30 and then 2 to 5 every single day, with about half a day on Sunday. I already figured out how I was going to write — just get up at seven and write for a couple of hours before going to rehearsal. And I figured I’d visit my mother during the lunch break, because rehearsals will be nearby.
But that’s all changed. They found a bed in a rehab center in Barre, about 40 miles away, and I’m driving her there tomorrow morning. She’s fine with going, which is a relief. It means no quilt show for me (probably). I’ll take her over in time for lunch and get her settled, and there will probably be tons of paper work and maybe meetings and stuff.
So I know I should quit the play. It’s going to be crazy trying to visit her — I’ll have to go in the evening after a full day of writing and rehearsals. I don’t know how I’ll manage to bring her home (if I have to) before a bed opens up in the assisted living or nursing home. (Vermont has a strong program to help seniors stay in their homes so maybe they an help in the interim until a bed opens up). They’re going to want to meet with me, I’m sure, and I’d be tied up with rehearsals. It even cuts back the time I can spend with Alex (my fears were for naught (nought?) but I can work around that.
I’m crazy to do it, and I should back out right now.
But I don’t want to quit! I really want to do this – it’s something for me, something frivolous and fun and (gasp) social, which gets me out of the isolation. Oh, and I’m letting my BFF down, when I promised I’d write and sew with her every day to help her transition back to VT after spending the winter in NJ.
So I should drop it so I can do all these things for everybody else.
And I don’t wanna! I’ve even come up with a great justification. I think using that form of creativity will open up and feed all the creativity in my life. I think it will expand my writing, help me see new things. But you know, I don’t need that excuse. I just want it.
It would just be so much fun.
Richie’s all in favor of it. And I”m guessing the rehearsals aren’t really all day every day — the nuns are only about 1/4 of the play, if that. And it’s over by July 26, and I can get back to doing everything for everyone.
It would just be so much fun, being on stage in a nun’s habit, singing my little heart out.
I think I’m going to lose it, though. It requires a huge amount of strength and determination to hold onto this, just as it takes a huge amount of strength and determination to hold out against social workers and doctors who think my mother would do fine at home with me rushing there at all times of the day and night, doing everything for her, taking her everywhere.
So I don’t know what’s going to happen. Can I be selfish for once in my life? (I have lots of faults but I’m rarely, if ever, selfish).
So a lot of thoughts are going through my mind, lots of things to do today.
Most important, Alex is coming over!!! It’s been almost four weeks since I’ve seen him. I don’t know why, and I suppose I’m going to have to take the bull by the horns and talk to Erin about it, about whether she’s wanting to pull away, but maybe I’ll let it pass for today. So much going on.
In the meantime, I have to find the Power of Attorney papers and all Ma’s financial info and start filling out forms. The Medicaid form — she doesn’t have money for assisted living or a nursing home. Applications for the assisted living place and the nursing home. Which is going to be massive.
You guys helped me gird my loins yesterday. (Sounds like doing something to steak). She said when she comes home she’s going to have to go out with me a lot more, and go down to the day programs at the nursing home. That’s more driving, more things I have to do. The idea makes me want to scream.
And I haven’t even talked with the doctor and social worker about my mother’s mental health issues. About the various mental hospital confines. About the massive number of shock treatments she went through. Which is behind all this.
I’m past the point where I think anyone will blame me, and I’ve had nothing but support from my niece and my cousin (the only two relatives left who might have a say in things). So we’ll see.
So great joy (Alex) and a big-ass hassle (financial forms) and more time in the car (the hospital is 20 miles away). And being strong, and sticking with the knowledge that she really should not come home again.
Crap crap crap.
Deep breath. One thing at a time. Bird by bird.
First thing: ask for an extension on my deadline.
Second thing: start filling out forms.
I can do all this.
In the meantime, God bless Nora Ephron and all she meant for all of us, women in particular. A woman of wit and grace.
Ah, may you live in interesting times. I was in church Sunday morning, rehearsing with the choir, when Richie appeared (and trust me, it takes an act of God to get Richie to set foot inside a church). My mother was freaking out. Off I went, to sit with her while she calmed down. Went home for a bit, came back and sat, started to fall asleep. Went home for a nap, only to wake up with Ma in hysterics again. Went back (I’m approximately two minutes away) and took her to the hospital. She was so weak I had to lift her off the toilet and into the wheel chair, lift her into the car and then out again. And she was 150 pounds.
So they took her right in at the ER and once more couldn’t find anything wrong, but this time they admitted her. And at this point we’re all in agreement (me and the hospital) that she can’t come home until she’s in better condition. So they’re looking into getting her into one of the two extended care places of choice (the assisted living one town over or the nursing home just down the hill from me) for a couple of weeks of rehab with the hopes (their hopes) of getting her back into her apartment.
I’m ambivalent. Because there aren’t a lot of good outcomes ahead. If she goes back to the apartment we’ll either be going through this again or I’ll walk in to find her dead one morning, which won’t be fun. I think she needs the help and the socialization that a different living situation can provide, and I figure there will be three possibilities.
1. She’ll hate it so much she’ll get better and get out
2. She’ll hate it so much she’ll decline and fade away. At 98 it’s hard to come back from things.
3. She’ll be happy there.
If number one is the answer I see a lot more work for me, and I don’t know if I can do it. I was already just about at my limit.
But we shall see. It will work out as it’s meant to work out.
So yesterday I was on the phone with the assisted living place, the health center, the social worker, the Agency on the Aging, my niece, my cousin, the hospital, and it seems others as well.
Then I went off to get my eyes checked because I can’t read, and for the first time the eye doctor (whom I’ve seen for 20 years) had to lift up my sagging eyelids to do one of the checks. Sigh.
Then I drove across a twisty mountain road to the hospital to see my mother, who wasn’t in good shape.
So who knows what will happen. I’m stressed beyond measure — when I was talking to my niece on the phone I noticed how tight my voice sounded. I’m not so much upset about my mother (though I could be in denial about that) but overwhelmed by the stress.
My mother and I have had a long and difficult relationship. She’s had mental health issues most of her adult life, resulting in uncontrollable rages at everyone around her. I think these panic attacks may be the geriatric version of those rages (just as her legendary temper tantrums as a child were the juvenile equivalent). But who knows? All her tests come back normal, except for her blood pressure.
So, to quote the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”
However, one must snatch small victories where one can. I got to the hospital at three, having had two breakfast bars and a bowl of cherries for breakfast. When I left McDonald’s was there, gleaming in the sun, and I gave myself permission for a hamburger (I’ve been dying for a hamburger). But I still didn’t go. Not even to get a DC as a pick-me-up. I waited until I got home and had a piece of Anadama Bread to tide me over till dinner (curried chicken on brown rice — bless Richie).
So today I see what answers we can come up with for my mother’s immediate future. And see if I can find some sort of life for myself mixed in with all that.
Maidens of St. Trinians, gird your armor on …
I have enormous respect for Krissie for putting up those Photo Booth photos every day. I think it’s a great idea, but Photo Booth makes most people look like Night of the Living Dead, so I have said, “No, thanks.” But tonight, still coming back from bad stuff, I thought, “If she can do it, I can do it.” (Krissie gets me in a lot of trouble that way.) It’s ten o’clock, I have no make-up on and I haven’t combed my hair, just tied it in a knot on my neck to get it out of the way while I type, but it’s not like I’m ever not tired, made-up, or coifed, so what the hell. And I’m behind about forty pictures so it’s time I got started.
I took the first one and looked at it and thought, “Dear God, am I that depressed?” Continue reading