Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Can I get a gimme?

If you haven't noticed, the state of Colorado is on fire...Thankfully, it's not our turn and we can watch from the distance.  Thankfully, this time.

I think of it like all other bad things...it can and probably will happen to you at some time or another.  Someone you love will get cancer, your teenager will act up, you'll lose a job, or maybe you'll divorce.  It seems to me that everyone has something that rocks their world and no one gets a "gimme".

About 20 days ago, I got the honor of taking care of a friend. Typically when I am called to take care of you...it's not good.  And, it wasn't.  He was dying and that was that.  He didn't want to, his wife didn't want him to and I wished that I wasn't the one to help him get there.

But as we all know who have experienced terrible things in life...no one gives you a choice.  You have to try to deal with the aftermath be what it may.  So that is what we set out to do.  We were going to be a team, the family and I and make the last days as comfortable and as dignified as he would want them plus some.

Finally, he was done and ready to go.  He passed gently and quietly with his family at his bedside holding him tightly...but not too tight so as to try to keep him here.  

Sometimes when I have time to think, I have these weird thoughts.  These fires...would I trade all my stuff for some of these folks to have more time?  Would I pick fire and the depression and sadness that comes with losing everything for another 6 months with the one I love?  Seems like an easy answer but then again, we don't get to pick...never do.

When I get thinking too hard, the only thing I know to do is pray.  I pray that God hears me and fixes things.  I pray for peace, for families after a terrible loss, for a gentle passing, for safety for all those who want it and for strength for those who need it.  Yep, I turn into a good hypocritical church lady...calling on God in times of need.  

Thank goodness, sometimes when I am the farthest away from God, when I haven't given prayer or church a single thought, my prayers get answered.  It happened like that last week.  I prayed so hard for peace and comfort and thought since it was so hard to come by, that it just wasn't to be.  But, in the wee hours of the morning, while the family slept, peace and comfort snuck in and made the end gentle and lovely.  That was an answer to prayer.

I guess I got a gimme...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Today is my 48th birthday.  I went to the 6 am class at the gym, showered and went to work.  I sat in a meeting where we discuss our patients that are dying and cried.  I am so lucky to be able to care for them, to help them have some peace and to love them when life is the hardest it can get.  I am so lucky.

I missed an appointment to get my my eyebrows waxed off and to figure out what to do with my beard.  Yes, I am a woman, I am 48 and I have a blonde beard.  People say to me, "Oh, no one can see it" but I gotta tell you...it is pretty see-able.  I have to get rid of it.

My hair is graying and I am trying to decide whether to color it or let it go.  I am sure that most folks would say to color it but I am fighting it...Gray is beautiful...right?

48...wow.  I was never going to get that old.  48, middle aged, chubby and gray haired.  That was not going to be Terry Ritter.  Well, guess what?  It's me and it's okay.

Jim and I had dinner and I decided to take stock...I have been married for almost 24 years and I still love the guy.  I can't imagine my life without him and I hope I won't have to.  I also understand as I go from home to home, that there are no guarantees and I may end up alone but I sure hope not.

20 years ago, I was raising a 3 month old that shifted the world on its axis.  Interestingly enough, she still does.  She called tonight from her summer job at camp to wish me a happy birthday and I cried.  She is an old soul and has taught me more love than any human being.  

My sons, on the other hand, are out tonight.  They are at church, hanging out with buddies.  I noticed that when I look out from my office window, they put up bird houses so I can look at them when I am working.  So cute, those boys...

My days, this last week, has been defined by a patient that living his last days.  He is patient, kind and loving to the end.  He is not ready to leave although I think, watching him these last days, it would be easier to go.  But he is not ready...

Today I went to see him and mentioned that it was my birthday as I was leaving...he wished me a happy birthday and thanked me for coming on my special day.  He talked about how I should have a great day and smiled a beautiful smile.  I walked to my car and cried.  I can't think of a birthday wish that meant more.

So I'm 48...looking hard at 50.  Trying to get in shape and doing okay.  I think I may be close to the best shape of my life.  I still need to lose another 30 but hey, I got about 25 off.  I have a job that I feel like I can do until I can't anymore and I have a family that I couldn't love any harder...

Do I wish I had more money?  Sure... Do I wish I had less wrinkles and less gray hair?  Sure.  But if I had to hang it up tomorrow, I can't tell you how lucky I am...How lucky I am to have cared for the dying, to have been loved so deeply by my husband, to have raised kids that are going to pass that deep love on...  

So I want to tell the world how thankful I am to have had such a rich 48 years and I hope to have 48 more...but...if I don't, I have been so lucky to have the first 48, really.  

So I have to say, thanks for reading the drivel...the day to day struggles of a mom, nurse and middle aged mess...thanks so much!

Tawk to you soon
I love you all,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Things that matter...Part 1

The title should read, "Things that matter to me-Part 1" but who really cares what matters to me, right?

When my job becomes mostly focused on hospice care, things that matter simmer to the top and things that don't go away.  I notice that I have trouble completing tasks that don't matter to me because "Life is too short and who cares...we are not going to care when we are gone"...  This summer is going to be this way, I can tell already.  

My son graduated, the queen left for camp, and my youngest is playing baseball.  What mattered to me when the Queen was home was simple...check up and teeth cleaned.  That's it.  Other than that, I wanted to enjoy my time with her at home, and understand who she is now that she has been out of my house for two years.

For my "college-freshman to be", I have similar things that matter.  Of course, teeth...and a check up but he needs to begin to take care of his college things himself.  "Sign up for orientation", I remind him no less than 6000 times..."OK mom" and it doesn't get done.  In my head, I take stock about if it really matters....my voices tell me "yes, he needs to move out and he can't if he doesn't do orientation!"  OK, voices, that does matter. 

As for the youngest,  I am taking him this morning to have his teeth cleaned and will get him a check up ASAP.  Then he is done for the summer...I guess since he doesn't drive, I don't really care what he does.  (Actually I do but it doesn't really matter too much.)

Here are a few things that used to matter that have fallen by the wayside recently...

*clean anything...house, car, pets, kitchen floors and even my children.  I have begun to look through the "life is too short to worry about that glasses" and it makes it okay.

*saving money...I have been on a pretty flower bender.  If I see pretty flowers that I want to look at daily, I buy them.  I plant them, put my fingers in the dirt and enjoy watching them grow.  I don't care what they cost.

*trying to figure out things too far into the future...I have had the honor of caring for a lot of younger people that have been hit with cancer in the prime of their life (say early 50's) and have spent the time before raising kids, fighting the system and putting things off that they want to do for the future, "when there is time"...well guess what?  No guaranteed time...so I am going back to Hawaii this summer for a week...Yes, sir, I am not gonna put that off because I enjoyed that trip so much.

Listen, I am one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth...I am and I know it.  I also know that time is not a given, even if you eat right, don't smoke, go to church, help people and do everything right.  

Death comes to all of us...at some point and for some easier than others.  But it comes.  I use the saying, "None of us are getting out of here alive" and I have the front row seat...

So for "Things that matter-part one"  I am going to recap:  Use your time, find the joy, live right now and do the best you can to feel content.  It's that hard and it's that simple...

Because when I sit at the table with someone dying or sit by the bed in a chair specifically for spending time, and we talk about what kind of life they had, I generally don't hear about all the things they acquired and how wonderful it made their life.  I don't hear about how clean the house was and and how much money they paid to be cured and how it worked.  No, nope.

 I generally hear them say what a "good" life they had because of the time spent loving the family, working out the issues and becoming stronger, and how they feel so lucky to be able to die at home...

So that's my first installment of  "Things that matter", and now I am headed to the dentist.  Let's hope the teeth are able to be saved...I haven't seen a whole lot to dental hygiene going on around here but...they can always give him wooden teeth, right?  Like George Washington or Abe Lincoln...

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,