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Friday, February 24, 2012

Life happens...

I seem to be writing alot about death lately, and it just keeps coming at me.  Last Tuesday night, surrounded by her family, my sweet tractor lady passed away to drive the perfect John Deere in the sky.  Her family loved her and cared for her beautifully.  Like I always say with these families, I can only hope to have the care that she got in the end.

The thing is...alot of life happens when people are dying.  Families step up or step down, bridges that were burned are rebuilt and sometimes they are just ashes.  Time is spent in the room of the dying person, holding their hand, telling them of deep love, and laughing about the good times.  Lessons are learned of whats important, what is in our control and what needs to be kicked to the curb so it doesn't get in the way.  We learn that when we say we can't...quite often...we can.  I have family members that say that they can't do "this" and then when the time comes...they are and doing it and with a love and gentleness that they never knew they were capable of.

It's been a crazy week.  I hit the ground running on Monday...wanted to immerse myself in work and see all of my patients that I left for two weeks.  They were glad to see me and so worried about me because I had experienced a sadness that they are waiting for.  So loving and kind, all of these folks to me...

I was up until 3 am with my sweet tractor lady's family on Wednesday morning, remembering, crying and being together.  It was such an honor and blessing to me that I could care for her and them...a gift really.  I went home and slept until 6, got up and by 8 was seeing folks again.  Seems to me that these patients and families do as much for me as I do for them....Interesting, huh?

While I work, it seems my kids are growing up faster.  My oldest son is so busy these days, with school, a play, baseball and a girlfriend.  On Wednesday at church, I had to leave because I was starting to sob, he comforted me like no one else could...I'm a lucky mom.  While my older son is pulling away, my younger son is getting more social.  This weekend, he is on a retreat where he gets to help people...while hanging with his buddies...and he loves that.  And while I am talking about kids, the Queen and I are going to shop tommorrow and have lunch since her 20th birthday is next week and she is at college an hour away. 

The best thing about having older kids though, is time spent with my best friend...Jim.  The last month has been a busy one and we haven't spent a whole lot of time together and we really haven't talked too much.  I miss him and with the experiences of the last few weeks, find that I need to tell him how much he means to me...Funny how life is like that.

As I write this I hear the garage door open and my buddy is home.  I think I'll get going and enjoy what I have, count my blessing and hope for the best.  I learn day after day that we can only control what is in our control and the rest we have to make the best of it.

We'll tawk tommorow,
I love you all,
Terry

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Few Quick Thoughts and a song...

*There is no amount of food and drink that makes the hurt go away...and Lord knows I have tried.

*I am a lucky girl to have such an amazing family...

*Life goes on and so must the people grieving.  It seems like the world should stop for a day or two to let the grieving rest.

*I felt the love of the patients and families that I care for...they missed me.

All day today as I was driving for patient to patient, I thought...and thought and wondered...what could we have done differently.  At the end of the day, I realized that we truly had done all that we could do and take so much comfort in that.

My niece sent me a song that stirs her and I wanted to share the song and lyrics with you.


 
 
Pearl Jam – Just Breathe
 
Yes, I understand that every life must end, uh-huh
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, uh-huh
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love
Some folks just have one, yeah, others, they've got none

Stay with me...
Let's just breathe...

Practiced all my sins, never gonna let me win, uh-huh
Under everything, just another human being, uh-huh
I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world to make me bleed

Stay with me
You're all I see...

Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me

As I come clean...
I wonder everyday, as I look upon your face, uh-huh
Everything you gave
And nothing you would save, oh no

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave...

Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see
No one knows this more than me
And I come clean, ah...

Nothing you would take
Everything you gave
Hold me til I die
Meet you on the other side...
 
Carry on and be careful...
We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry






"Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women...

Last Tuesday,  my brother in law passed away...died...went home to be with the Lord...whatever term that works for you.  All I know is...as one friend stated, "he isn't here to play with us anymore."  He lived hard, loved hard and fought hard to stay.  But as I mentioned in the last post, he snuck out in the night while we were all getting a couple of hours of sleep. 



On Saturday, at 3...the celebration began.  My sister wanted to remember and celebrate him as he lived...with a party.  Not just any party but one with plenty of food and drink, pictures of his life playing on the TV and the songs he loved.  People began to arrive to pay their respects and the doorbell rang and rang.  There were doctors and lawyers, electricians and plumbers, fisherman and friends...there were folks that he had put in their air conditioner and gave them years to pay it off. 

Some referred to him as the "Mayor of Hernando Beach" and others didn't even know what to say.  My sister put on a beautiful red dress, her black spike heels and looked like, as my father would say," a million bucks".  My nieces accepted the "I'm sorry's" and hugs and remembered their father.

Uncle Pete, as we call him in our house, loved my boys.  He and I would talk a few times a week and he would ask, "What are the boys up to?" and I would regale him with stories.  Every so often, he would ask about "the girl" referring to my daughter.  We always thought that was funny and when we went to visit in Florida, that was what we called her.  He would take them out on the boat, jet-ski, fishing or doing something fun.  He was a fun lovin' guy.



Uncle Pete was a guy that loved the water and fishing and boats.  He had quiet a few of them in his life.  He had little ones, flat ones, motors that ran well and others that when we started out to the Gulf, we were hoping for the best.  He was at his happiest, though, when he was behind the controls of his last boat, "The Pelican Pete."  It is a beautiful boat and a symbol of all the hard work that he and my sister did in this life.  They named it the "Pelican Pete" because they like pelicans and you would see them alot out of the Gulf.  As a matter of fact, the day he died, I wore his t-shirt that had the logo embroidered on it.

About 2 hours into the party, one of his buddies wanted to go out on the dock and do a toast to Uncle Pete with champagne.  He wanted all of us to go out by the boat, the "Pelican Pete" do a send off.  The group slowly moved outside and got on the dock.  They were pouring champagne and talking and laughing.  So many of us were on the dock that it was taking on water.  It was loud and boisterous.

As we stood there, the friend began to toast Uncle Pete..."Here's to swimming with bow legged women" and the crowd raised their glass and saluted.  He then did another toast along the same lines and I tuned him out.  We raised our glasses again and saluted.  As we did the last toast, a majestic pelican flew down the canal, circled over the group and came back.  It landed 5 feet from the dock and the boat.  As the group noticed what was going on, it became silent.  This beautiful pelican paddled closer to the dock and watched us.  The crowd remained silent.  He was a beautiful bird, big with a long brown beak and sparkling blue eyes.  He turned his beak to the left and looked directly at my sister...

I looked over the crowd to see if they understood what we were seeing...my daughter, "the girl" for today, had tears streaming down her face.  My husband did too.  The pelican stayed and watched us for what seemed like an eternity but really it was about 4 minutes.  I didn't want him to go because he had a peace about him that was palpable. 

Then, he turned around and lifted off.  We watched him fly down the length of the canal before anyone said a word.  The first words I heard were..."What did we just see?" and "I have never seen that before."  I turned around, went back up the the house and poured myself a drink.  That was a sign...and for me, a peaceful and loving one.  A sign that he and we are going to be okay...

When I arrived in Denver yesterday and walked the concourse, I could feel the numbness leaving my heart and the pain seeping in.  My pain because I am going to miss him, but also the percieved pain of my sister and her daughters.  But, in a small corner of my heart, there was a warm, peaceful feeling...a sense of pride of how this family dealt with such a heart wrenching time...how they loved him and cared for him and not for one minute left him alone.  I know he is so proud of them and hopefully as time passes, they too will have that corner of their hearts warmed and comforted by how they loved him until the end.

So, I will end this post like I ended every phone call with Uncle Pete...
"Carry on...and be careful"

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's day revisited...

This is a re-post.   Last year on Valentine's day, my brother in law passed away.  I cannot believe, as hard as I try, that it has been a year.  My brother in law would be so proud of how is love and his girls have handled life without him...putting on their "big girl pants", getting out of bed every day and living.  As I said before, I admire their strength. 

I often think of what real love is...do Jim and I have it?  Will we be there for each other when the going gets tough?  I think so...but I guess you never know until the time comes.  Just like everyone else, I love to be appreciated...and some partners are better than others.  I learned last year,  real devotion and love happens when we are vulnerable, let our guard down and be loved.  I guess I am saying that as much for myself as for anyone else.

So to all of you...have a great day of love, be it "hot" love (sorry kids), enduring love, or loving the person that may not be here when you wake up.  If  tonight was your last night to tell your love how much they mean to you...what would you say?  There are no guarantees, and you have right now...


(written 2/14/12)
Today is Valentine's day...a day when a card, flowers or a gift makes or breaks a relationship.  When I was younger, I expected something for Valentine's day and Jim would pay if I didn't get it.  I would decide that he didn't care, he didn't really love me and that he deserved to be punished. 

This Valentines day, I could care less who gives what or what goes on.  It's funny how life does that to us. 

The wait is over, the battle won as they say.  This morning, while the world was sleeping, including us, he snuck away from us.  When we awoke, at 4 am, he was gone.  He put up a fight that screamed of not wanting to leave but in the end...he did.

Now what is left is the aftermath.  I go from couch to couch and although I want to be awake, the deep exhaustion has taken over and I sleep.  I hear family talking around me but cannot participate because that would take energy and I have none.

There are knocks on the door and people showing up. They want to bring things, help, and speak of sorrow they feel but we all hesitate to answer the door.   All of us are walking around doing different things to get through the day.

I think about how I used to think that a gift was needed to prove love and devotion.  I now understand and get to witness what true devotion is on an almost daily basis...and it isn't remembering a made up holiday that signifies love.  I mean, sure it's nice to get pretty roses or candies or a card that is sincerely written about how much you mean to your love.  But as I write about all the time, the true love and devotion presents itself when things get hard and messy.  When you take someone home not knowing how hard it will be to help care for them...or how they will deal with a life changing and life ending diagnosis.  

True love and devotion is climbing into bed with them while they are struggling to leave this world and holding their hand until they do, advocating for the pain that is seen and unseen or doing whatever it takes to treat them as you always have even though you don't know if they are still hearing you.  That, my friends, is true love and devotion.

So Happy Valentine's day...and may you get what you want from your love, be it roses, candies or a heartfelt card.  If you don't get any of those things, but know when you  need them for the hard and really messy stuff of life, that they will lie beside you and hold your hand, be thankful for that because you already  have true love and devotion.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Waiting...

The house is calm and the dog and I are sitting on the couches waiting...for what...I am uncertain.  Sometimes I think we are waiting for an end but that means an end to a life that should not be at it's end.  But then, when all the options are few and the choices are made, is it easier to for it to end quickly or for work to be done, time to be spent and hand holding to continue.  As if we, any of us here, have a choice.

It's cold here today and the wind is blowing.  But the sky is blue and the palm trees sway in the wind making it seem right.  We take turns holding hands and visiting, we make meals and eat while others sit by the bedside watching for signs of discomfort, suffering or even decline.   The signs come and then go...

We wonder to ourselves...how long can this go on?  Are we doing what is good and right and holy?  Yes, I answer to myself...this is what we want and will do until it is over.

Days are long and hard watching someone struggle to transition out of our world.  It is such hard work to get away.  We talk, we "say our piece" and we wait.

I think about my family...the one that I was born into as we are forced together through no choice of our own.  This is not a vacation although for fleeting moments when old times are talked about...it feels like one.  We come together for times like these without hesitation, it seems, and bury old grudges.  We become one family and get through things.  Just like we have before.

It's actually peaceful here...almost like a deep calm before a big storm.  Our family is taking advantage of the peace to rest, think and hope for the best...a peaceful passing.

We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Transitions...

Transitions...moving from one place to another.  Leaving one life and moving to another or to something else or to nothing.  That is the struggle. 

To be on the other side, in the shoes of the people I help...quite a bit more difficult than I anticipated.   To know what is happening is helpful...or is it? 

I am humbled and ashamed at the same time.  To give answers and confidence to people when I, in the same shoes, have none.  Who am I foolin'?

A tender day...family here...wishing that this was not happening and living with irreparable regret.  Just weighing on my mind and soul this morning.

When there is quiet, I am satisfied...until there is a knock on the door or a dog barking or a voice that echoes...then we start again.

Reminds me of when a newborn comes home...we treasure the silence, and while we treasure the process of life, we yearn for a break, for peace, for rest...

Time passes and we will get through the transition and find our way to a new peace. 

We'll tawk tomorrow,
I love you all,
Terry

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Queen can paint...


Along with being one of the nicest people on earth...the Queen can paint too.  Here are a few of her latest.  Enjoy!

 The Flat Irons


My Christmas present...

Hot air balloon picture

The Pine Cone

Aspen trees in the fall







Helplessness...

As I sit at my computer this morning, I feel agitated.  There are feet of snow and school is cancelled and the weather makes me feel and makes me...helpless.   

I need to be places...to the gym, to patient's homes, to Florida and cannot get anywhere...at least not today.

The sun is coming up and the view from my window is a deep gray, a cold gray and I am sure that is the color of my heart today. 

There are hurting people, hurting friends, hurting family, hurting patients that crawl through my mind when I sleep.  I help them all at times and wake up with a sense of hope.  Then there are the nights like last night, where I am trying everything to help the hurting and pain...to  no avail.  I come to consciousness whimpering and I feel my husbands hand on my arm..."honey, honey, you're dreaming."  Sadly, as I come to, I realize I am dreaming but really I'm not.  This pain is real and happening and while I can offer love and a presence..I cannot make it go away.  Try as I may...I can't help.

This day matches my sense of helplessness.  The sky is low, as if heaven is coming to take me away but it does not.  I have spent alot of time praying lately...for hope, for cures, for strength...to be able to deal with the seemingly unending pain and suffering.

I am learning that it is easier to put yourself in someone's shoes when you have to imagine what it's like.  When you are in those shoes...the helplessness, the suffering, the hope and hopelessness...it ain't so easy.

I was told after my mother passed away that time heals all ills...and I didn't believe it.  I was mad and didn't think I could go on with the ache that happened every morning when I opened my eyes.  But it did help...time softened the ache and made it bearable enough to go on.  Time even made it possible to think about my mother and father with fondness and laughter...to be able to say, as I did when I was in Florida a few weeks ago, " I really miss Daddy" and then go on. 

So we put those feet in those shoes, the ones that are not imagined but the real shoes of pain, and put one foot in front of the other.  We stand together wishing and praying for miracles, for strength, for hope and for time.  We are also very thankful for the time that has been spent.  But we want more time...just a little more...please?

We all want more time...don't we?  Who ever your God is, where ever you think he or she is, throw some prayers or energy up for more time...for answers, for less pain and suffering...and strength for those having trouble in those same shoes of pain.

I would do that for you if you asked and now I am asking...
We'll tawk tommorrow,
I love you all,
Terry