Monday, July 25, 2011

The Maid came today...

I could live here forever.  The maid came today and cleaned the condo.  Need I write more?  I don't think so...

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Life =Waves

Being in Hawaii has got me thinking.  I look around and think and...since I am on vacation, a real one...there is time to think.  Yesterday, we went to the beach and it had some waves. 

At first, I sat on the beach and watched as the boys ran head first into the surf.  Jim even joined them.  I felt inadequate and afraid because they looked so fierce.  They would build, the top would turn white and curl and then they would crash on the shore so violently that the sand would kick up and run back into the water.  After watching for awhile, I decided to give the surf a go.  I stood at the shoreline waiting for the right time to jump in.  Finally, I saw an opening and ran into the water.  The waves were building again and by the time I got into a good position, I was taken by the wave, thrown into the wave and turned upside down.  I ended up on the shore being pulled back into the waves with my bathing suit up around my neck, my nose full of salt water and feeling terrified that I would drown.  I stood up and called to my husband to get me out but he was too far so as the water retreated into the ocean, I was knocked off my feet again and into the surf.  By the time I got out, I was battered and done.  I crawled up on the beach and sat for a long time.

After about 20 minutes of recovery, I decided to try it again.  I went through the same steps as I did the first time.  Then my son told me the big secret...when the wave gets big, dive under it so you can let it pass by.  Well, let me tell you...it saved me for awhile.  Then I got cocky because the ocean had calmed down and I was floating on the top. 

All of a sudden out of what seemed like nowhere three waves came in quick succession.  I managed to dive under the first one but as the second one came, I was wiping my eyes and blowing the sea water out of my nose, I was slapped in the face and taken to shore.  As I tried to recover, the next one threw me into the water again and pulled my suit up and filled my bathing suit bottoms with sand.

I ran to shore and threw myself on the sand.  I sat for a long time and watched the surf and the boys and started thinking.  Thinking about life and how the waves are a metaphor for life.

I throw myself into life and have to adjust...I have to learn how to live, what to do and how to do it.  I usually have something that knocks me off my feet and throws me to shore before I really get it...really understand the issues and things that are going on.

Then I learn the what the plan is...like diving under the wave to survive.  Things seem to go well and I am enjoying the peace until something happens.  In my case, there have been many things that have happened that reminded me of the three waves in a row and my reaction to them.  After the waves of life hit me, I tend to stay home, keep to myself and try to get through it...kind of like sitting on the beach thinking.

Well, this story has a happy ending.  After sitting on the beach for what seemed like forever, I decided to jump back in and try the waves again...and try to enjoy the ones that I beat, get ready for the big ones and take the ones that throw me to shore with grace and acceptance...and of course, run back in the water when I was ready.

The day was awesome, the boys had a great time and I learned about the waves.  I can't get any better than that...

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Island time

We made it to Hawaii yesterday.  It is a spectacular place and even more beautiful and funky than when I was here 22 years ago.  The water is bluer and the waves are bigger.  We came to visit Jim's two Aunts and the kids got a bonus Aunt to visit as well. 

Today, we decided we were going to the beach.  We were going to boogey board and snorkel.  Of course, we had all different time lines so we had to fight it out before we left.  You see, Jim is on "Island time" and what that means is...he eats when he is hungry, drinks when he is thirsty (whatever beverage he wants) and moves when he wants to and not a minute before.  Well, that's great and all but that means that we are also on Island time...his.

He and I have always been polar opposites when it comes to certain things.  Today, we were again.  I wanted to get going and he needed to finish his coffee, put his suit on, get lunch in the cooler and then go.  The boys and I were ready to go.  We were trying to get him to move and all of a sudden...he was mad.  We were rushing him and he is on Island time...

We got in the car and got going...finally.  Everyone was mad at each other and it was like a scene out of a movie.  The boys started hitting each other in the back seat because it was so tense, I guess, and I started to explain why he was wrong.  He told me to talk in a lower voice which only made me talk louder..and then I said the four magic words all the boys love to hear..."I'm gonna shut up."  I thought I heard them all mumble under their breath..."thank God" but they denied it.  We rode in mad silence to the little grocery store. Still mad, my oldest and I jumped out of the car and went to rent snorkel gear and my youngest and husband went in and shopped.  By the time we got together again...you would think nothing had happened and we were the all american family on vacation in Hawaii.

We drove to the beach and got settled.  The waves were crazy and the boys got in and didn't get out for hours.  I spent time in the waves, on the shore, and digging sand out of my suit and watching the boys.  The sun was warm, the sea was strong and I decided to let the power struggle of the morning go...to be on "Island time".  I decided who ever needs to be the boss of Island time can be the boss and we would all adjust.

It was a lovely day.  The waves beat us all up until we could take no more, the sun made our skin the color of fire, and the sand gave us all nice bright pink rashes in places that I won't mention.  But...it was fun and good to be together...even if we were all on different pages to start the day.  By the end of the day...we were all on Island time
and it was good!

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Romance in my house...

My husband will be 50 next week.  Man is he getting old.   We were sitting out on the patio talking tonight and I asked him..."What do you think about turning 50...do you even think about it?"  I was surprised at his answer..."All the time, I mean, I'm looking at the other side of my life."

That caught me by surprise.  My husband is the most confident man I know.  He is sure of himself.  He decides something and he goes with it...doesn't change his mind and generally is happy with his choice.  I, on the other hand, make a decision and then question myself until I have to make another one...and decide I have no choice but to go with the one I made.  And, if you want to know the truth, his confidence bothers me alot.  I get jealous of it.  So to hear that he is thinking about getting old is interesting...

I look at him and think he looks better than he ever has.  That gray in his hair, the little he has left, looks good and his beard...makes him distinguished.  He hasn't gained a pound over the 23 years we have been together...meanwhile I have gained and lost about 300 pounds and am on the upswing now.  He can fix anything...a car, a furnace, a dishwasher...without even thinking about it.  He just has to want to. He is also an amazing father.  He knows our kids and wants the best for them and if that means letting them fail...he'll do it.  I, on the other hand, don't have the stomach for it and crucify him if he is sticking to his guns.  The other night, my youngest, who is almost 15 asked to do something.  I said no but started to waffle.  My husband said no to back me up.  I started to get mad at him for saying no when I was getting ready to say yes.  "Here's where Mom grows a spine" he said, "So the answer is no."  The boys just laughed.

After our conversation out on the patio, I was thinking about romance.  God knows, when your old like us, those feelings are few and far between.  But, he was looking good.  I made dinner and we talked all through dinner too.  Wow, long conversation...it has to have been last summer at this time when we talked like that before.  I was thinking he and I were on the same page...so I said, "what do you wanna do after dinner?" thinking a walk holding hands in the neighborhood or something along that line.  "Well" he said..."Do you wanna cut my hair?"  Let's just say that we were definitely not on the same page...not at all.  "If you get the clippers"  I said..."I guess so" and the romantic moment was gone.  Funny thing is, he didn't even notice the romantic possiblilites!

We...the boys and Jim and I, are going to Hawaii on Friday.  We are going to visit family and to be by the water.  Maybe, if the time is right, the boys are busy, I can get a walk on the beach...a romantic one where I get my hand held and we pretend we are not a couple of old hags...

You see, I did a great job on his hair and it won't need cut for a few more weeks and we are going to the place we went on our honeymoon.  Do you think I will have to ask for romance or will he get the idea?  At 50...probably just better to ask.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Party...

What if you knew you were going to your last birthday party?  Could you sit in the middle of the party and hold court?  Tell everyone, one at a time, what they meant to you during your life?  Could you...do that?

I went to such a party today.  It was an amazing afternoon of love and peace and sadness and meaning.  It was the statement that we all make at some point...I know I have..."when I know I am going, I want to have a big party".  I have heard the statement before but have never been to such a party...until today.

Sickness is awkward and death is even more awkward.  Today, it seemed to be accepted, although not welcome but accepted and coming anytime now.  The crowd at the party was well aware of it and I sat watched each person talking and making sure they said it all, touching him and kissing him while he sat and held court. 

I know that I talk about death alot...too much really.  But I also get such insight to the human holiness...to boundless love and caring, deep sadness and eventually healing and hope.  Toward the end of the party, his son brought out the cake and the crowd sang Happy Birthday and he blew out the candle.   I was standing in the door way looking at the crowd and thinking...I hope I have the courage to live until the end with the grace, courage and love of this friend...his party was a gift to the people there.  They got to tell him how much they love him before he is gone...so he knows when he is on his journey to heaven.

Happy 56th birthday, friend and traveling mercies.  Thanks for your courage and love, your party and your life.  We will all miss you but when the pain is the focus...let it go and be free...

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting on the Angels...

There are people who believe in Angels and then some that don't.  I don't know what to think about giant figures with big wings and chiseled, handsome faces...but I could go with that if I were to run into one.  Tonight though, a family and I are waiting for the Angels.  They are close and the family can feel them in the house.

The day started out with breakfast with a friend.  She is battling breast cancer and looks beautiful while she is doing it.  It was interesting to see her because I have been connected to her on universal levels but haven't sat down with her since May.  She got out of the car and I noticed the scarf on her head.  The one that screamed her name in a market in Nicaragua.  I hadn't thought of her at all during the trip and I saw the scarf and without thinking...bought it.  My son walked up to me and asked, with a puzzled look on his face, "what is that for?"  Without thinking, I said her name and moved on.  Made me realize that while she was not on my mind...she was in my head.  Anyway, she is doing great and fighting the beast and winning and...looking more beautiful than ever.  We talked about how lucky she is...the gifts that she is getting from people in the way of time, friendship and love.  "What life is really about" I said.

On through the day, it rained and hailed and then the sun came out.  That has been the pattern here in lovely Conifer.  My last visit of the day was to a man that is "waiting for the angels".  He is not here but he isn't gone either.  He looks comfortable and his family is with him in the house they have lived in for almost 50 years.  It's his home that he and his wife raised a family, fought the long marriage fights, loved each other through it all and in the next day or so, he will be gone.

When I just graduated college and was in my nursing orientation, my dear friend had a baby at home and I was invited to the birth.  I got off of work to find her in the bedroom with her husband, the family, the midwife and the guests.  She was pacing and the baby was coming.  Finally, after a long afternoon of laboring, the baby was born.  It was a celebration as women cooked in the kitchen and men celebrated the new life and my friend held her newborn to her breast.  It was a holy day and I will never forget it.

I think of death at home like that.  The person labors at times to get to the next level...heaven...if you will and there is usually a sense of joy for as the suffering is finished.  There are also buckets of tears and sadness that is indescribable.  But, when I run into the family 6 months later, the sense of love they felt by caring for their family member/love comforts them in the dark times, because when you love someone for so long...suffering or not...it's hard to say goodbye.

That's what these folks are doing tonight.  Saying everything they have ever wanted to say, giving permission to let go all the while wishing it was all a dream.  But it is real and he is leaving and they are loving him through it.  He knows too, even though he is not quite with us.  He calls out for his girls and when they answer, he settles into the bed and I can see his body relax again.  He's waiting for the Angels or maybe, they are waiting for him.  I think it's the latter...he'll let go when he is ready and not a minute before.

Traveling mercies, my dear friend, thanks for the honor to care for you and  your family at this holy time...See you on the flip side.

Home death, home birth...love and holiness.  Life is some kinda hard...
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Phone Call...

I am the person that most folks don't want to talk to.  No one really wants to set up the appointment with the "hospice" nurse.  I  usually call the house to set up the time to admit the patient to hospice care.  They generally don't want me to come.  It goes like this..."Hi, Mr. So and So, I'm from Hospice and I was wondering if I could come and see you?" 

I  have thought about what that must be like.  You go to the doctor that you have been associated with to heal you for however many years you been in the battle...but this time he tells you the treatment that you are banking on keeping you around for your wife or kids or life isn't doing the trick...and hey, by the way, there is nothing else we can do.  Go home and someone will call you from Hospice so you can get taken care of while you die.  I make the call...

"Knock...knock".  I stand at the door waiting for someone to answer.  The wife answers the door, nervous and upset.  It's awkward and uncomfortable for them and the fear is palpable.  On my last admit, the patient was sitting in his chair in the living room, "all dolled up " as the wife noted.  He looked like he was in pain...the kind that you can't sit still, shifting in the chair, looking around the room and trying to focus on anything but what is going on and the pain.  I introduced myself and pulled a chair up.  "You look like you hurt...are you on anything?"  Most of the time, folks have some drugs but they are afraid to take them.  I made general conversation about the medication as his wife runs and gets the pill bottle.  I read it quickly and knew the drug..."You can take one or two right now if you like"... to which he says," I only take them at night to sleep"... "Do they help you sleep...to feel less pain?" I ask.  "Yeah"... "then why don't you take one now so you feel better while you are awake" I suggest.  His wife runs to get him a fresh glass of water and he takes one and then decides to take another.

"What's your story"  I ask..."how did I get the pleasure to meet you?"  He begins his medical saga and finishes with..."so they say the chemo isn't working anymore and there is nothing else to do."  We sit with that statement as long as we need to.  Sometimes, the statement is like telling me we are out of milk and I need to pick some up but this time, before I could stop myself, tears sprang to my eyes.  "Well, what do you think of that?" I ask as I pull myself back to being the professional that I am supposed to be.  "I'd like a miracle" he says...to which I smile at him and say nothing.

A little more than an hour has passed as we go over medical history, listen to his heart and lungs and sign the paperwork.  I can already notice he is moving in the chair less, feeling more comfortable.  I thank God silently while we plan what is next from the hospice standpoint.  "We can help you with pain, and if your more comfortable, you can enjoy your family more" I say and move on.  "We'll take care of you" I say "and if you don't want me here...I go.  This is your home and this is your show now...your the boss from now on."  He smiles, looks at his wife and says " Well..I think that's enough for today" and dismisses me.  As he is walking down the hall with his wife and his walker, I hear him say, "I'll see you tommorrow right?"  to which I respond, "I'll call first to let you know what time I am coming"..."You can come anytime you need to...I'll be here" and his voice fades down the hall. 

I give the family my phone numbers and say my goodbyes.  I can see the relief on the face of the wife as she thanks me.  I tell her again that I will see her tommorrow.  I feel honored that I get to help such a nice family at this time in their life.  But I think to myself, this one is not going to be easy.  Actually none of them are.  Life is hard, death is hard but it is part of all of it. 

So heres a warning...when you hear the phone ring and you see my number on caller ID...you don't have to pick up the phone.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,

Sunday, July 3, 2011

We have seen the Queen...

As I have talked about in prior blogs, I am the mother of the queen.  She earned that title when she was a few months old and my husband and I would put her in the "seats" we had in various places around the house where we were.  When we ate dinner, the queen sat on the kitchen table so we could admire her while we ate.  When I loaded the dishwasher, you guessed it, the queen was on top of it in her bouncy seat pulling things off the shelves.  I didn't miss a band concert, soccer game or date that she was dressed up.  She was a daily part of my life.  Well, as kids do, she grew up.  She moved away and went to college.  But..her college was only about an hour and 10 minutes away...and just about every 10 days or so, I was in the area and available for coffee if she had time.  Thankfully, she humored me and had time.

Until this summer.  She moved out of the dorm, went on two quick trips and went to work at a camp in the mountains.  No internet that was easy, no 3G phone and no service to speak of on her cell phone.  That was May 30th and since that day, she and I have talked a total of 4 times...and to be honest, the 4 times were spent saying..."Chris...you there...Chriiiiiis...Mom...Mom, you there ?" and then we would hang up.  I have not laid my eyes on my first born for 32 days.  That's a long time for me...

Yesterday, we decided that since she had about 20 hours off and we would go to the camp 3 hours away to visit her.  She wanted to see us too...she missed her Dad and brothers.  When we got there, she ran out of the building and gave me a big hug..."It's been 32 days since I've seen you Mom!"  And I thought I was the only one counting... 

We found our campsite, got settled and ran a few errands.  We ended up in Canyon City doing laundry and having dinner. 

The Queen and her father

She told us stories of her campers, of her week "on trail", how cold it was at night without a tent and how beautiful the stars were.  She told us about going on Day camps and staying at church members homes, about 3rd graders that burp and fart and about the "I love you" letter from the one that held her hand the whole week.  Once she opened her mouth, I don't think she stopped until Jim and I  got into our tent to go to sleep.  I could still hear her talking and singing with her brothers and best buddy late into the night under the stars while I was dozing off.

The Queen telling a funny story

The Queen and her brothers

The next morning, it was over...time to take her back to camp and back to work.  The time went fast and it was so good.  I always knew this kid was special...I mean, she is mine but...She just is. 

When I asked her what she is learning about herself this summer, she came up with three things:  "I can work with anyone and be okay, I can keep going even if I think I can't and I love to sleep under the stars..."

I don't know if I have learned those lessons yet...

Me and my Queen

That's whats going on here...
We'll tawk later,
I love you all,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Music and Memories...

This morning, I got up determined to get a few things done.  I wanted to get some laundry done, clean up the kitchen and vacuum the living room and whatever else I had time for.  I also needed to finish my work from last night.  After a few cups of coffee, I sat at my computer and got going.  Finally, I finished my work and looked around. I began to think of anything else I needed to do beside the cleaning that must be done.

Just as I talked myself out of cleaning, a Springsteen song came on the radio station that I was listening to.  Whenever I hear Springsteen, it takes me back to a different time.  A time when I wasn't a wife, mother, and was only dreaming of being a nurse.  It was one of the best times of my life and if an musical artist defined the times...it was Bruce.  My friend, Ms.Moon and I would get in her little VW rabbit with the windows open, cigarettes lit, listening to Bruce at full volume singing...because it was Friday and we finished clinicals.  I still refer to those times as "the waves of happiness" that washed over me during those days.

The song finished...Tunnel of love...and another came on.  Another Springsteeen song, Glory days...as my son's got their baseball uniforms on to go play at the high school.  You gotta be kiddin' me..I thought.  I started clapping and singing to the song..."I had a friend, was big baseball player, back in high school" as my sons left the house.  It was a special hour dedicated to the music of Springsteen and of course, the big man, Clarence.  I turned the music up and got to work.  Before the hour was over, the floors were vacuumed, the kitchen cleaned, a load of wash in and out into the dryer.  I did have to stop and sing when "Thunder Road" came on out of pure respect.

It's funny how things go full circle.  I can remember in New York hearing Bobby Vinton's "Roses are Red" and knowing my mother was on a cleaning binge.  He must have been her Bruce Springsteen.

I also want to honor the big man, Clarence.  He passed away last week and I cannot believe it.  The last concert that I saw, Clarence had a second hip surgery and looked great.  I should have married him.  But...the amazing saxophone that he played makes me miss him even more.

I am all over the place today but at least the floors are done and the wash is drying.  I also got to take a beautiful trip down memory lane.  Nothing better.

So for today...this musical ending is stolen from Ms. Moon and dedicated to all the folks that I love, have loved and will miss.  But remember, I'll wait for you and should I fall behind, wait for me!