Saturday, May 28, 2011

Humbled and Thankful...

Last weekend, my sweet youngest boy was confirmed.  Here is our group after church.  My sister-in-laws and my husband,  kids and I.   It was a great day and my sweet boy looked so handsome.

I spent the week finishing the school year and getting ready for summer.  I also worked.  Live and learn...I say.

I am taking care of a woman who has cancer.  We knew each other in a different stage of our lives.  She is starting to have more pain.  Late last week, I called her to check on her.  She told me she was hurting more and "we have to do something."  I did what I do, figured out what would help her and got the medications ordered.  I decided that even though she was probably fine, I wanted to go see her.  I went on Friday.

I walked into her house and she was moving well.  I sat at her table and looked at her...her eyes were a shiny blue and just twinkling.  She had started the new medications the night before.  "So you feel better today, huh?"  She said she did and we talked about the medications that she started, what they were supposed to do and her instructions.  She then said, "I am so sorry for complaining, but I just couldn't take it anymore."  I looked at her and then said the weirdest thing, " You are really good at this hospice thing."  She thanked me and asked me what I meant.  "Well", I said, "you are so strong and positive.  You've made your choices and while I sense you wish things were different, you seem so at peace with those choices."  She smiled at me and we talked about all kinds of other things.  We talked about the events that lead to to this and the choices that she made.  While we talked, I did my "nursey" things and then we were done. 

I got in my car and thought about the visit.  How would I handle living with a diagnosis that could not have any treatment?  Would I be able to be so warm and loving and tolerant of people if I knew I was on my way out?  I don't know for sure but I don't think so.  This woman is a hero, a person who is living well when things are not what she wants. 

Yesterday evening, my husband, son and I went to packing night for our trip to Nicaragua.  We are going in June and I am the head of the medical team. My son and I packed the medications and dreamed of saving the world with ibuprofen, tylenol and antibiotics.  I wish it was that easy. 

This morning, as I was waking up, my husband crawled back into bed and snuggled me.  "What do you want to do today?" he asked.  "I want to be outside, in the dirt, planting and weeding and getting ready for summer."  So that is what we did.  We cleaned off the patio, weeded, and got the grill ready.

Spent the day outside doing things.  It was good.  When it was time for dinner, I threw brats and burgers on the grill and ate at the table.  We talked about what we are thankful for while we sat and ate.  We were all thankful for different things but thankful, nonetheless.

After dinner, the teenagers picked up the guitars and ukelele and began to play in the livingroom.  I came up to blog and heard them singing.  Talk about feeling thankful...

I am constantly humbled by the people I meet and get to care for.  I am learning every day that nothing is guaranteed.  Nothing.  As my husband says, "you could cross the street and get run over by a beer truck."  I in my case, it probably would be a white zinfandel wine truck...but you get the point.  And, having the honor to care for this woman...the one who is "good" at hospice, at dying...that is humbling.  It is also a lesson in courage.  She makes good on every moment that she can...and is thankful.  "What's the point of complaining" she said..."It's a waste of my precious time."

I am sitting in my office, my husband is doing Soduko and the dogs are farting.  The room stinks...and I am still thankful.  I am thankful for the usual...the stinky dogs, the husband that isn't interested in me at all, the guitars in the living room...for not having to deal with the end of life today but of just regular life.  That, my friends, are things to be thankful for....

Oh and Zach, The Queen loves you more and she wins!
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Different kinds of Affirmations

It's confirmation weekend in our house.  My youngest is being confirmed or as we call the service, Affirmation of Baptism, tommorrow.  I remember being confirmed in the catholic church.  We had just moved to Hernando Beach and my mother didn't have the patience to wait until my class at St. Teresa's was being confirmed.  She was sick of all of it.  She took me to Tampa,
paid off a Priest and I was confirmed with a group of kids at some church that she knew someone.  I was in eight grade and I didn't go back to church after that unless there was something in it for me.

I don't go to the catholic church any more.  I go to the Lutheran church.  I decided, when I got married, that since my husband was a faithful churchgoer, we could go to his church.  I wasn't as tied to the catholic church as he was to the Lutheran church.

We got married in Denver at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.  Since I was married in the Lutheran church, my mother said I wasn't married "in the eyes of God".  Thanks mom!   Jim and I moved to the mountains and made it to church on Christmas and Easter for a couple of  years.   After the Queen was born, we have been an every Sunday family since then.

Tommorrow is "Confirmation Sunday" at our church.  I have been teaching 8th graders about finding their own faith for about 15 years.  I took a year off when the Queen was in 8th grade because I felt like I was in the way.  Later, she told me she wished I had taught her class too.

This class of kids are amazing.  They are smart, funny, silly and inquisitive.  They all have really big hearts.  They also know what is good, right and holy.  Do they believe everything I told them?  I am sure they don't.  Sometimes, I have trouble believing everything that I profess to believe.  But, they will continue to question...I know that for sure.  They will ask the hard questions and find the answers they need to find.  At the end of the day, I am sure the God that I believe in doesn't mind the questions because we are seeking something beyond us...

Tonight, we gather at church with the confirmands and their families and share a meal served to us by the other kids.  They will set the tables and decorate the fellowship hall and then we will watch a slide show of how the kids have changed.  They have spent three years in service to others, to each other and learning about using their gifts to look beyond themselves.  They have done well. 
I get to make a speech and tell them how much they mean to me and what they have done to change my life.  I hope they know I mean it. 

My youngest has a huge heart.   Tommorrow, he will stand before the church and tell them what he thinks...what he thinks about God, faith, sevice and love.  He wrote his speech without help from
me. I  think I know how he feels but  I am curious to see what he says.  Like I told him when he asked me what he should write, "This is your deal...not mine.  You know what I think about God and faith and how much service means to me...it's your life, your faith and your relationship with God." 

Whatever he writes or says or thinks, my guess is that it will change over the years.  He will figure out what is important in his life and who is important in his life as well.  All I know is, whatever he comes up with, he knows what is good, right and holy and it may or may not be associated with a church.  I also know that I am so proud of who he is right now and how he conducts his teenage life.
I also know that he is loved beyond measure by his family, my God and will be an asset to the world. 

Can't ask for more than that...and I wouldn't dare.
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Til death do us part....

My husband and I are on the rollercoaster and let's just say, we are on the top of the big hill screaming...at each other.  It's been an interesting spring in the relationship arena and hopefully the rollercoaster will pull into the station and we will get off.  Not that this is new to us, but we have been so good for such a long time...it feels really weird.

Needless to say, I have been spending time thinking about relationships and real love.  What is real love?  Is it the volitile love of a spouse after 20 years, or is that just surviving?  How do we know what we have is the real thing?  Today, I had the chance to witness what I consider "the real thing".  It wasn't planned but it just was...the love between an older couple facing the near future without each other.  I thought to myself...I am sure this is what enduring love is. 

I showed up at this lovely house in the mountains...decorated with lots of wall paper and color, antiques and knick naks.  All in their place...sort of.  When she answered the back door, I could see from the crease in her brow and the trembling chin that it hadn't been a good night.  "How are you today?" I asked...she said "I'm fine...just a long night."  

Usually he meets me in the sitting room watching TV in his jeans, flannel shirt and hair combed back.  Today, he was upstairs...in bed.  I called up and he told me to come on up...he wasn't quite ready to get up.  He was sitting up on the bed, hair sticking straight up and I could tell, he was not feeling good.  

He is an unbelievable handsome man, older of course, but so handsome.  And smart...sharp as a tac. He is totally aware and running the show.  He is the boss of these last days and don't let anyone stand in his way.  "How are ya feeling today?"  I asked.  "Good now, but I had terrible pain last night, different than I have had before."  We talked about his medication and how to take it, along with all my knowledge that I thought could help keep him comfortable.   All the while, his wife stood at the end of the bed watching and holding back tears.

She is a beautiful woman and they are devoted to each other.  She has had some problems in the past and he stood by her, cared for her and loved her.  She is now doing the same for him.  I mentioned something about him being handsome and getting attention from her and she lit up and said, "He is the most wonderful man...he can have attention any time he wants."  Then he looked at her like she was an angel and this knowing look passed between them. 

He is fading...and he knows it.  He is willing to try things that I suggest for comfort and he wants to talk to me about  "following him through until the end."  "Of course", I say..."It will be an honor to be with you and your girl."  And it will....

There is all kinds of love.  I love food, drink...I love my kids and even my husband.  I love to see my son marching on the field with the band or my other son behind the plate with his catcher gear on.  But this love I experienced today...deep, rich and comforting.  I can imagine that this love has endured much.  They have had children, jobs, illness and pain.  They have endured and have loved each other through it all.  Now this love is enduring the march to death...to final separation.  These two adore each other.  When they talk about this illness...the future,  they are strong but they both talk to me privately how they worry about each other...then they sigh, wipe the tears and accept. 

Today was love at it's finest, in it's most tender and pure definition.  As pure as I have seen in life and now get to witness with the end of life. 

Love is patient, Love is kind...love is enduring, through sickness and in health...til death do us part.

May we all have that kind of love when we know the end is near.
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Our Beloved Spot...

Just a quick addition to the week...our beloved Spot, the leopard gecko, passed away last Saturday.  He is waiting in an evelope in the garage for us to have a proper burial....We figured he was about 10ish.  I wonder what that is in leopard gecko years?  Anyway, may he have all the live crickets in his final place of rest along with the love of a good companion...

So along with our birthday party for my middle son, we will have a burial outside next to Shelly.  The hole is ready, we just need to give him a proper send off.  Plus, the garage is starting to have a strange smell...

Enjoy your Saturday.
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,

This and that on a Saturday...

The phone rang at 6:15 this morning...it was the other baseball coach from the city wondering if it was sunny up here in the mountains...Yes...and it is gonna be cold.  6:15...on Saturday...after the week I had.  Thanks so much for calling and good luck...Not!

I have been living at what feels like, the speed of light...and my old, peri-pre-what the frick-brain can't seem to catalog it all.  I can't find words...simple ones.  The other day, Jim asked me, "Where is that meeting you are going to?"  I looked at him like he was stupid..."Its at...the restaurant"..."Which one?"he said.  "Oh, you know, the one by the, oh, you know the bridge, the gas station"...again, I look him like he is the stupid one, " THEY SERVE ITALIAN FOOD!"  "Oh, OK, you mean JJ Madwells?"  "Of course I say."  Come to find out, I missed the meeting totally...it was on a different night.  Funny thing is, I have the nerve to look at Jim like he is the one with the word finding problems!

I haven't had time to write...or, if I was to be honest...the energy to write.  But, with my brain in the state that it is, I better start!!!  So here goes...

Last weekend, I went to Canyon City for the Blossom Festival with my youngest.  The 8th grade band and orchestra played.  They sounded good and I would have some pictures but I FORGOT my camera. See what I mean?  Then we went to the Royal Gorge and spent the afternoon herding cats...no, I mean 8th graders that were given freedom.  Needless to say, I came home and had a glass of wine and went to bed.  Exhausted, old, swollen and sunburned.  It was a great time.  Really...

Sunday was Mother's day and the Queen is home from college until she goes to work at a camp.  We went to church, then to the grocery store, where I had my eye on some lawn furniture.  Jim and I walked by it, looked at it and I hinted and hinted that I liked it.  "Yeah, we do need something for the patio" He said and then moved on and asked "and what else do we need from here?"  I finally said, "I want to buy this table and chairs for the patio."  "Ohhhh, you want that...Ok...Ok then, you do, then lets ask about it..." he said.  We are getting better and better at communicating, huh?  We bought it and then brought it home.  My youngest asked, "Is this a Mother's day present or something for the family?"  "Of course, it's mine and you guys can't use it...what do you think?"  The typical "present" but at least it wasn't a vacuum or something like that!  It had to be put together so the men of the family got to work...

The group decided that a friendly game on whiffle ball in the driveway was the next fun thing to do for mother's day.  After about a 15 minute spirited discussion, read  fight, throw down, yell at each other including Jim and I, in an effort to have family peace...we went outside.  Here's a few pictures from the effort...

After a few minutes of making the rules which seemed to change when my oldest and his father decided, we started.  The game lasted until I was drilled with the whiffle ball on third  for the second time in my chest by my youngest.  In my true..."It's mother's day and I should be able to do what I want" fashion, I started to cry and said "I'm done", walked off the field/driveway, and slammed the door to the house.  I left them all shaking their heads at my fine acting skills.  Maturity at its finest.

But, in true Ritter fashion, we fought it out and had a great dinner that the Queen made and all was well. 

Monday came and went in a flash with visiting hospice patients, and a baseball game for the youngest.  We met over there and watched him.  I sat between my two omnipotent teenagers...and whenever I said something to cheer, I was told to be quiet...I mean, not in a disrespectful way but as if I didn't know the rules of baseball and sons.  I finally told them both off, not in "mean mother" way but in a "I'm almost 47 years old and I can do whatever I want" way.  It was like a comedy show on the bleachers.  Anyway, my youngest caught an outstanding game and hit the ball as well.  When he would jump up to threaten the runner on a base...my heart sang...because he was so cute.

Tuesday was a forgotten backpack incident so no exercise class, Hospice training, patients and the meeting that really was Monday but I had planned all day Tuesday to go to.  Thank God I called my friend and asked her because I would have been at that italian restaurant all evening waiting, probably at the bar...thinking the group was stupid.

Wednesday was kick boxing, a doctors appointment for the Queen's camp physical and shopping to get ready for camp.  Let me just say, I hate shopping.  I just do.  Its not that I don't want stuff but I just hate stuff.  Its kind of a weird head thing about having too much and wanting stuff I don't need but buying tons of stuff anyway.  Regardless of my hate for shopping, we shopped.  The Queen and I finished in time to go to church for my last confirmation class.  My 8th graders were in rare form.  I love them.  So cool yet so uncool at the same time but aware of it.  It has been a wonderful year with them and I am going to miss them.

Thursday morning, I went to one more Hospice training.  It was very different than what I have experienced in the past (this is my third training).  I left with a new look at what it must be like to be planning your death and saying good bye.  I can't even imagine really but I did learn alot about myself and what I would want the person taking care of me to be aware of.  Hard but really good stuff to learn.

Then it was Friday.  I didn't have a patient to visit until 1 so I decided to go to one of my favorite consulting jobs and do a little work.  The woman who owns the house is from Indonesia and she is just a hoot.  I got to the house and started to work, things looked great.  As I was finishing up, in she comes...like a worldwind...her usual behavior.  In her broken english...she says hello, comes and gives me a hug.  Then she backs away, looks at me and says, "Oooohhh, Terry, you got fat!"...There wasn't anything I could do but laugh.  "Yes, I have gotten fat, about 15 pounds" I say and "I hate it."  She keeps talking, "I can see it in your face..."  At that point, I realized that was the perfect way to end this week and move on.  Talk about just saying what is on your mind!!!!

Yesterday was my middle childs 17th birthday...I cannot believe it.  To write about him is a whole other post but I will say that he is a gem.  He wasn't home for his birthday so we will celebrate it later today.  I have a cake in the oven and the decorations are almost taped up.  I will try to take pictures this time. 

Time, time, time...My usual lecture includes such points as having 24 hours in a day...all of us and how we use it, etc, etc.  My lectures seem to always come back and haunt me...the time one, the diet one, the eating good one, even the money one.  But...usually I forget I did the lecture to so I start again.  The lectures always sound so good to me like I am doing it for the first time. 

Not really...but, have I told you what a crazy week it has been?
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Buckled...

        I buckled...under the pressure...of wanting my kid to like me.

My youngest son saved enough money for a Xbox360.  He saved almost 300.00 and wanted to buy one.  Initially, I said no.  "You don't need one of those so you can sit on the couch all summer and work your thumbs"...but then, he got straight A's.  He didn't even need me to harp on him to do his homework...he just did it.  So, after that, I started to soften.  I told him we could talk about it.  Then I told him he needed to talk to his dad. 

The night came when he talked to his dad.  We were laying in bed and he came in and asked..."Dad, I have enough money and I want to buy an Xbox 360.  Can I buy one?"  Immediately, Jim said no.  He didn't even flinch...no...no working your thumbs on the couch all summer. I looked at my son's face and tears sprung to his eyes.  He stood there and looked at me.  My husband said to me," Okay, honey, help me with this...be the voice of reason."  I looked at my boy and knew I was getting ready to buckle...I finally said, "He did get straight A's without me bugging him, and he saved the money to buy...." before I finished, Jim said,"OK, he can buy it."

Today, we went and bought the Xbox...my boy had it all organized and knew exactly what he wanted.  We walked in, he went to the case and picked it out.  Then, it was time to buy a game.  We looked and looked and they all were rated "M".  "No way", I said, "No killing games and no bad stuff."  Of course, there is no such thing as a video game that you don't kill things or have naked people...so I am learning.  We spent a long time looking...

Finally, I started to read the back of the "M" rated video games .  I found one with Zombies in it...and it was rated "M".  But...it only contains "Blood and Gore, Intense violence and language"...so I turned to the salesman and said," Oh, we'll take that one, we experience that every night at our house."  Plus...you only kill Zombies, its not real life.  My oldest son let me know that in this particular Zombie game...I happen to sound exactly like the witch!

My son is ecstatic...he finally has a Xbox 360.  He bought it with his own money and is setting it up for some serious video games this weekend.  I, of course, have set myself up to be the bad guy...the witch, if you will.  But, I at times, I make a great witch...just ask my husband.

We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,

Sunday, May 1, 2011


In Colorado, May is one of those months that you never know what you are going to get.  In the city, Denver, it is usually warm and the flowers are blooming...but up here at 8800 feet...winter is still lurking around the corner.

Yesterday was one of those days.  It was supposed to be cold and snowy but turned out to be cloudy and cool.  After baseball, my youngest son went to a buddies house and my oldest son went to have dinner with his girl.  Jim and I were going to be alone!  As I was driving back from the ball game, I called him on his cell phone and set up the night.  "Guess what?  We are going to be home alone later...I have an idea."  "What do you have in mind" he asked.  I could hear the anticipation in his voice..."Let's get the tractor out and put rocks all around the dogs pen so they don't run away and then while we are at it, let's spread the horse manure and put out the grass seed on the front yard."  Not exactly the romantic night but when you gotta make hay when the sun shines or there is a chance of moisture.

I got home and got ready to do some tractor driving.  First, Jim drove the tractor around and he and I picked up boulders and rocks to put by the pen.  We put the rocks on both sides  of the fence so the dogs can try to dig under them but will never get out.   Take that, you three mutts!

Then we got the rake, I found the grass seed and the wildflower mix and Jim brought me the first load of manure.  It was old and black...perfect.  My neighbor has a mule and a horse and when the corrals get full of horse poop, she just brings a load over and dumps it in our yard by the driveway.  Yep...but oh, it makes for great soil after some time.  Anyway, I raked the manure around the front yard, load after load, until about 12 tractor loads of manure were spread.  I had a huge blister on my thumb and I was ready to be done.  Then I got the seed spreader and mixed a nice batch of grass for high altitude and wildflowers and walked all over the front yard.  I was very proud of myself.

Meanwhile, my oldest son called and wanted to know if I had made dinner because he and his girl would come and eat with us..."Your father and I are tractor driving and spreading manure so there is no dinner made" I said "You should take her out to dinner".  I didn't think twice and I went outside and finished my job.

Jim and I came in, announced to each other that it was beer-thirty and I pulled out some left overs for dinner.  That was about 6:30.  We ate, drank our beer and decided that we were grown ups and if we wanted to go upstairs and watch TV in bed...it is a free country.  The Rockies were playing and before I knew it...I was dozing off to sleep.  It was around 8 pm.

In walks my son...calling for us from the kitchen.  He walks upstairs and starts to laugh..."What is this, the old folks home?  It's not even dark and you two are in bed!"  I thought to myself, he is right...we are so old.  "By the way, Mom, you might be a redneck when a date for you and dad is driving the tractor and spreading manure."  He is oh so right and I didn't know how to reply to because we are who we are.

I woke up this morning to a blanket of clean, white snow.  My manure and seed were getting the moisture to start off a good grow.  I looked out the front door at my work and was so pleased.  In about a month, there will be sprigs of green and maybe some bright colored wildflowers mixed through...

Tommorrow is the start of another week...I hope it is warm and sunny with just a little moisture to keep my grass seed from blowing away but not too much so the manure starts to stink. 

I guess I don't have too many problems if that is what I am wishing for...

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,