family

family
My people

Sunday, September 12, 2021

" Such a beautiful family"

 About a month ago, when I was recovering from my surgery, I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to have my family get "professional" pictures taken.  I had talked to the kids before about it and they balked about it, but when your mother who just got her cancer removed asks...well, you know.

The next time we would all be together was for Jim's 60th birthday.  I asked my friend, the professional photographer, to take pictures if she was available that time and she said she was. I invited her and her hubby over for dinner and the pictures were taken.  

Fast forward a few weeks and the pictures were emailed to me to look at.  At first, I looked and my first thought was....." I look terrible".  Then I went through them and thought...."Jeez, Jim looks so old."  I looked at the ones with all of us and decided they were good, I mean the kids look good...they look like themselves and how I see them and I was thrilled.  I started to think about how Jim and I look and realized that I really don't look at him or myself much.  I mean I look, but I don't see myself or Jim.  I see us and don't think about what we really look like.  We tell each other that "we are who we are"  and go about our lives.

Last night, I posted the pictures of my gang on Facebook.  I got tons of responses that said, "Beautiful family" and I was pleased.  Honestly, I didn't expect that response and I said to myself, " we are far from beautiful."  

I have some friends that have "beautiful" as in looks, families.  They are very pleasing to the eye and have the looks of models.  That, I'm aftraid, is not my family.  " We are who we are" and I don't say that in a "not pleasing to the eye way" but we are all a combination of each other and the kids are too.  We are regular people who try to remember what life is about and have fun when we are together.

Then I got to thinking...Every family is a beautiful family!  They are a combination of each other, of the living daily as they grew and the leaving each other to brave the world alone.   Family is a beautiful patchwork of the quiet one, the loud one, the smart one or the ones that don't fit any mold.   Families are all missing teeth at some point, whether to get dentures in the older folks and growing new teeth in the younger ones.  Both of those times are beautiful.  There are times when parents don't feel like they have beautiful families, when there isn't a moment devoted to anything but keeping the kids afloat, or times when one of the parents cannot stand the other and the kids are wondering what is going to happen with their family.  It is all part of being human and having misunderstandings and vying for power.  It is what every family does.

I have been listening to podcasts lately and a quote I heard that I really resonate with is, "the enemy of happiness is comparison" and I believe that.  I used to be such a "comparer" and saw folks that I thought were the "perfect" family.  Then I would look at my kids and family and think I needed to work harder and figure out what I needed to do to make my family "better" as if who we were at the time was not good enough.  I regret that now because honestly,  who we were then hasn't changed much and I love who we are now.  They were loud, energetic, argumentative, loving, kind and busy...Like every family learning to grow up and learn about life.

So I say it again...every family is beautiful...in their own way.  Maybe beautiful in a different way than some of us find beauty.  They may have different views than you and do things different than you.  They may have a giant home or a little cabin with no room for anyone to have their own room...They may yell too much at each other or not talk at all to each other.  But they are a group of humans that are infinitely linked and doing the beautiful work that families do.  There is no question the work of families staying together and supporting eachother while navigating life is stunningly beautiful!

So thanks for all the comments about my beautiful family.  I say right back at you with yours, professional portraits or not!

We'll tawk tomorrow,

I love you all,

Terry 


Monday, August 23, 2021

You can't change the past...

 Hello,
I am doing well and am feeling so much better than I did for quite awhile.  Didn't really notice how bad I was feeling until I felt better.  I blamed it on menopause, COVID, long hours at work and so on.  As my husband says,"can't change the past" so I have been doing inventory on my life and trying to change things.

I always thought of myself as an authentic person.  I hoped to be very real and live my life that way.  This big "life scare" has made me even more comitted to love the people I love harder and not waste time on things that don't matter.  It's not easy to change life long habits though.  It takes time...and honestly I don't know that I have a ton of time.  I know I am cured and I know that I feel great, however, the what if's can take over my mind if I let them.  While "what if's" aren't bad in many cases, in mine....I always go to the negative.  I hate that about myself but being my authentic self...

Yesterday, I was watching my daughter and her friend, Jill, do a triathalon.  They swam a 1/2 mile, biked 12.5 miles and ran a 5 K.  I told them I was going to do that with them early in the spring and would start training for it, but never had the energy after work to do it.  Finally I decided I was too old and tired to ever do one again.  I wasn't too sad as I was thought I was being dramatic and thought that I would get my act together at some point and train.  Anyway, yesterday, I heard myself say, " If I am alive next year, I am going to do this tri with you guys".  Why the hell did I say that?  Even if things don't go my way....I suspect will be here at this time next year.

It makes me so aware of what my patients have gone through in my career.  I understand why my mother never went to the oncologist to hear her diagnosis.  She was scared and was hoping that she was healthy.  Now I know you face things head on and as Jim says, "do the next thing."  

I have been listening to church hymns during the day.  It has been so easy to talk about my faith when I am feeling good and have the world by the tail.  I can do it now, but it is not so easy.  Why?  Because I feel like I really need to believe it.  I have questioned so much through my life about God.  I watch my children who were raised in the church question and they are right.  How do you believe something you don't see without asking a few questions.  I have been doing that for years, asking questions in my head and wondering why things happen.  I really struggle with the "God's plan" stuff especially with patient's I care for.  If a family says that, I just stay quiet and listen as I struggle with those kind of things.  I wish I knew all the answers, but we don't....I don't, you don't and to act like we do makes us not authentic.

Having said that, I am on a journey.  A journey to love harder, not waste precious time with things that don't matter,  honoring time and being aware of it.  I am praying....I love to talk so I talk to God a lot, and hoping for the gift of time. 

 Honestly, I feel great, and I have been taking inventory of my life on a weekly basis.  I have a great husband....amazing kids or should I say, young adults and so many awesome friends.  I am overly lucky in so many ways...

I have some free advice.  Don't wait until you get a wake up call.  Take inventory now of what really matters to you and focus on that.
Do you wish you could spend more time with your spouse?  What is holding you back?  Figure it out and make it happen.  How about your kids?  Do you need to spend time with them?  Then do it.  

All I know is "you can't change the past" as Jim Ritter says, and I have learned that tomorrow is not guaranteed....


Get after it!!
We'll tawk soon,
I love you all,
Terry

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Dates with Doctors...

Good hazy morning from the top of the mountain!  I want to thank all of you for the good wishes!  I am feeling really good, better than I have in the last year and know some of it is the positive vibes and prayers that were lifted up for me!


On Monday, I ventured to yet another doctor.  I am the proud owner of an Oncologist...never thought, or I guess I should say, never wanted my own cancer specialist.  But hey, life is like that isn't it?  You ask for many things that you don't get and many times you get things you don't ask for!


As my kids and Jim know, I hate going to doctors.  I was raised in a home that we didn't go to doctors for years and years unless we were unable to function due to an illness.  My mother used to say, "Don't go lookin' for trouble" and I lived by that mantra for many years.  Lemme tell you that in this instance, the mantra did not serve me so well.  I mean, yes, I went for my mammograms begrudgingly, my well woman stuff but when I had things I could take care of, I would work my magic and take care of them.  

This time is different as we know and Monday I began to panic about what my new friend, the oncologist was going to say.  I wondered if my other doctors had not told me the whole story and there was more news to digest.  I walked to the end of the road and used my best calming techniques of late to put this anxiety somewhere and it helped.

Jim and I arrived at the office and we waited until the gal at the check in could take my insurance card and co-pay, and then sat down.  I looked around and saw the patients that had similar diagnosis that I cared for and have tried to serve so well.  There were older folks that looked frail and seemed to be confused with all the paperwork, there were folks that were rolled in with a wheelchair that could not walk long distances, and then like a rush of energy, came this younger gal with a bald head and beautiful dress woosh by me in a hurry to get somewhere.  I thought, "yeah, I am in the cancer club too."

As we were waiting to be called, I stared at my hands and thought of all the patients I cared for that probably sat in the same seat as me thinking about the future of their life.  I tried to push those thoughts away but I couldn't.  I mean, I have to think of all sides of this right now and find where I can find some peace. Then I looked at Jim and thought how he was such a good man and now he we have this journey to go through together.  I always thought about him as the long suffering husband with me as his wife, just with regular life.

Finally they called me.  "Teresa come this way" and I walked to the scale, got my vital signs checked and we took a seat in the exam room.  I could tell the anxiety was beginning to take my breath away as I tried not to think of worse case scenario.  Once again I went down the road in my head to all my patients and thought of how they started in a visit like this.  I thought of all of the ones that were so strong and loving and fought the fight and then called it when it was no longer the way they wanted it to go.  I thought of the ones that fought the fight until the last breath as well. I looked at the signs in the office of the drug trials and medication for metastasis. Then as I was going to worst case for me, my oncologist walked in and introduced himself.  It was surreal and I began to count my breaths as he was silently reading my records. Then he took a big breath and began telling me about what he thought about this cancer.

He was data driven at the beginning...odds of this and survival rates of that.  I appreciated the info although it did make it so real again in so many ways.  Then he got specific with my lovely brand of cancer, and gave me some info about how things can go and I had to choose.  After listening, he talked about clinical trials for prevention and said there were none available for me right now.  I told him I knew he liked trials and without missing a beat, he said, "that is how we are going to cure cancer." Then we made a plan for me.  He said he and I would see each other every 3 months for a few years to watch me.    A quarterly date with the CT scanner and oncologist...."great I thought, something I never thought I would have to do, but okay".  He noted that I am cured right now and we want to keep it that way and monitor me closely right now.  I agree and feel as though this is the best case scenario for me.  Then I asked all the questions about diet and exercise and life and he said....."Don't think like a nurse with scenarios, just listen to your body and if something is off, call me, send me an email and we will discuss how to deal with it".  "Go live your life and I will see you in three months", and stood up and walked out.

Jim and I sat there for a few seconds and stood up and walked out.  I saw an old friend on the bench outside who was waiting for her husband to have his chemo.  She and I cried as we wondered how life has brought us to this place.  Not in an angry way and not in a "why me" way but just how the twists and turns of life are complicated and you cannot predict when it is your turn for stuff like this.

I am in a funny place...trying to figure out how to move past the worry of what could be, put it somewhere and honor it as I go on to do the things I want to do and live my life.  

So for today, all I know is that I can walk 3 miles to the mailbox, nap like a bear in hibernation, kiss my husband whenever I need to (which used to be not on my to do list very much after 32 years) and do things slowly if I want.  The only thing I know that is not changing is right this minute and the few minutes behind it. 

Otherwise this life, my life is going to unfold how it does even if I plan it all out to be a different way.  And yes, we all know that is true whether you have an illness or not, but having an illness that affords you a date with an oncologist and quarterly CT scans makes it even clearer even if you are cured......

We'll talk tomorrow,

I love you all,

Terry







Thursday, July 8, 2021

When the rubber meets the road...

 Hello dear friends, 

It has been quite a while since I sat down to write anything in this blog. I feel as though now is the time to catch up with you all and let you know what is going on.  I also give you a chance to think about your life after COVID and what friends and time mean to you.  In the last years, I am not sure of who I became.  I worked crazily through COVID, trying to be the hero for anyone who would listen and let anyone who listened know how busy I was.  What I have learned is that I did not make enough time for what I deem most important to me.


"What the hell is she talking about here" I bet you are thinking. "When does she get to the hospice stuff or the family stuff that we used to read and laugh about?"  Well, I am not getting to those things in this blog today.  I am going to give you some good advice about how life changes on a dime and when you have time to think about it, you are stunned how far you have come from what you really need and want.  At least that is my story today.


On June 13th, I turned 57 and told myself I was getting really old.  We were going camping and I twisted my knee loading firewood and the campout was scratched.  To be honest, I was in this weird mood because I wasn't quite right.  Not sure what was wrong but didn't feel quite right.  Having said that, if I was really honest, I hadn't been quite right for a while and thought I was just working so hard and not getting any down time.

Long story short, on 6/22 I became a person headed into the OR to remove a Kidney full of cancer and someone who will live with one l kidney.  From diagnosis to surgery was 6 days and before I knew it, I woke up in the hospital, humbled to be the patient with an uncertain future.  I became the person that I take care of and coach back to health and living life.

Holy Shit!!!!  While you contemplate the uncertain future, your priorities and what you really value appear crystal clear.  The husband that you are married to for 32 years all of a sudden becomes someone that you never want to leave, want to hold his hand, and just sit quietly with. You want to take back all the things that you said that were not so nice, but you can't so you promise that with your time left, you will be kind and loving.  You lay in bed and wonder if you told your kids you loved them enough and that you are so honored to be their mother....and if you did, is it enough to keep them remembering me through the rest of their life if this is it?  Oh and remember those friends that you love so much but didn't make time to see because you were so busy? All you want to do is talk with them and let them know that you miss them...

Before my surgery, those feelings washed over me...who do I need to make peace with?  Who do I need to tell that I love them and will it sound hollow now that there is probably a time line?  Where was I when life was boring and I didn't make time to send a text to check in?

My next thoughts turned to my faith, my relationship with my God...I can tell you that even went by the wayside because I was too busy.  I certaintly called on him when the results came back and I was terrified but how about the times when things were good and I didn't even think to send a Thank you up to the sky.  

Why am I writing a blog about this?  I need to remember this time in case this is it or hopefully, I look back in a year or two and do a check in on who I am and who I said I want to be.  

As you can imagine, I am not working at this time...I am recovering.  I am reading, napping, doing a lot of nothing but also I am thinking.  I am thinking about the second chance that I have been given to slow down, to live in the moment and to choose the positive.  I am thinking about my priorities and what I want them to be in the last years of my life.  I am doing the big inventory of what matters to me.  Am I the person I wished I was?  Not really... some parts are and some are still not quite there yet.  Am I willing to make the big changes in life to be that person?  I would  say that I am willing to now, but really, I needed to be hit on the side of the head by a 2 x 4 to really think about it?  Really is that is what it took?  Sadly I am saying yes.

So here is your pro-tip for today and the days to come.  Do a check on who you want to be, think you are and who you are.  If you say that you want to be there for the people you love, are you?  Do you make time to see the folks you say are your dear friends to just connect?  If not, why? How do you fix that so you are the person you want to be and your behavior shows you are?  

Along with the thinking for me is the physical recovery, and honestly, as Doris Joy used to say, "I'm no spring chicken anymore" so it is gonna take some time.  I will have to learn to quiet my mind and listen to doctors on what the next steps are.  I will do that and I will also make sure that I live in the now and not in the scary future.  That's gonna take some work but I know I can do it.  

As I look around, I have no shortage of amazing times and people in my life.  I have family, friends, church, work and all the things I could ever need.  Now, I just need to rest into those things and hope for the best.  Oh and if you wanna have lunch or dinner and add a nice glass of wine...let me know and we can plan it.  I am going to learn to say yes to things that feed my soul and no to the things that don't!


I love you all. 

Terry




Sunday, September 29, 2019

Are you ready?

After a long hiatus of writing, I am back.  It's interesting how my brain works and how my life works and when you add 55 years to the mix, it is almost scary.  I haven't taken the time to sit and think for a few years now as change has been the name of the game!  From aging and chronic illness, to graduations, to peace corp volunteers, to job changes, to unemployment, to more graduations, to immigration filings, to marriages, to even more graduations, to empty nesters, to married adults in my basement, to jobs at home depot and finally to a road trip to Michigan to send my last off to adulthood at a new job!  Just writing that list is exhausting and that doesn't even match the amount of emotion that has gone on with all of it.

I was lying in my bed sick for two days last week when I felt the familiar tap on the shoulder that I have every now and then my friend "the holy spirit".  I ignore the taps and sometimes they go away.  If they continue I have no choice but to listen.

All of a sudden, I am hearing those voices in my head that I used to hear when I blogged before.  I used to call it "ideas" rattling and they would rattle around until I put them down on paper.  Well, those pesky voices are back and just on a whim, I sat and began to read my old blog entries and knew it was time to begin again.

Bear with me because I am really rusty but I need to get these thoughts down...

I'm a Nurse Manager at the company that I have worked at ever since I went back to home health and hospice nursing in 2008.  I have the most compassionate, hard working and big hearted nurses that are trying to balance life, kids, husbands, and demands their job while caring for and loving our hospice patients out of here.  Oh, and I forgot, they are patient advocates to the "nth" degree.  They are not going to "convince" anyone to choose hospice over another choice even if hospice is one choice or no choice at the time.  Sometimes they won't even talk about end of life/hospice care with a patient that has no other options for treatment because, "they're just not ready"...

When they come back to the office and say that, I find myself launching into a diatribe many times....

Not to be disrespectful to anyone,  but as I have navigated the hospice landscape (doesn't that sound like a manager?) for many years and feel so passionate about folks knowing all the choices, the concept of  "just not ready" for hospice... makes me speak up.  As a nurse in this field,  it is not my job to convince anyone of  anything but my duty to educate on all options for care that is available to folks at such a precious time.  Here's why I think like this after my last couple of years...

I wasn't ready for my youngest son to leave the nest and go to Michigan from Colorado to work when there are perfectly fine jobs here and he could be close to the family.   Even if I wasn't ready, it happened.  Do I wish he was still close?  I absolutely do... but the plan was for him to leave us and spread his wings.

I wasn't ready when my daughter left for the Peace Corps and then came home in love with a gentleman she met in Peru who needed to go through immigration and doesn't speak English.  "Slow down, give it some time" I said. Time was not on their side with immigration.  So while, not life and death,  even if I wasn't ready, they are married and making quite a life for themselves.

And the final example of the biggest "I'm not ready" was when my husband was phased out of his job after 30 years and had difficulty getting another so he went back to college and got his degree.  Then I was even more "less ready" when he finished and interviewed and after many interviews, he is "too qualified" and which means "too old" (and he'll tell you he is good and old) and we learned that our option is to keep moving forward living the life placed in front of you with as much joy and time spent with our loves.

So back to "I'm not ready" for those folks going through treatment and feeling like the have to keep going or they will die.  No one is ready to die, right?  If you've been told you have a terminal disease, it may be difficult to wake up but you do and you navigate your symptoms and feelings and treatment.  I would guess you worry and feel pretty powerless at times.   You know your treatment plan and you take it a day at a time and come through. It is not easy but you would not choose anything else.  You had all the options and you made your choice.  To you I pray for easy treatment and total healing!

I guess this next paragraph is to talk about choices for those that are not ready but are not offered all the options...

Hospice care is another option and not only when there are no others. Hospice care is not the choice of giving in.  It is more of the choice of honoring the precious time that is given to you.  It is honoring the time and making it "good" time or at least the best time you have with your loves when "you" decide that you can't take another minute of treatment or your doctor offers no other options. 

Look at it this way: You can have 10 days of time sitting in a chemo chair talking to the pretty nurses with your wife sitting by you.  Then she can drive you home and you can sit in you chair at home or get in bed and sleep until you wake up to throw up.  Maybe you tolerate the chemo and you don't throw up but you fatigue and sleep many days straight after the treatment.  Before you know it, your food is tasting metallic and your wife is waking you up to eat and you just want to stay in bed and sleep.  Finally it wears off some and you plan your good days around MD appointments, blood draws, and tests to see if treatment is working. So you and your wife get on the roller coaster and go see Dr. So-n-so and he tells you that it is not working but there is a trial and you have can't eat this and that,  and you'll have stop taking the pain meds that you are needing to stay "somewhat comfortable" and in a few weeks we will know if you qualify after more blood tests and scans.  He thinks you will but can't be sure... and if so, he thinks it will buy you some time.  So you go home and your really thinking your are so tired of all this but you and your wife decide to participate.  You have your plan and I honor that but you still have another option that wasn't offered.

What if they offer hospice as a choice?  Say you choose hospice because you can't stand the chemo or to go the the hospital one more time and while you aren't having treatment, you want to spend time at home and you want to see if there is a better way.  So the "hospice people" call and schedule and your nurse shows up and begins to ask you questions about your journey, you pain, your sleep, your appetite and how your wife is holding up.  She asks you what and who you love and then poses the question, "how do we figure out how to get you to spend your time the way you want to?". You answer and she talks about medications that are different for pain and how if they don't work, after a few days, we change them and we don't stop until we have found the right one so pain is not the first thing you feel every morning.  Then, you ask how this is going to work and she asks you how you want it to work, and what your priories are.  She says she will report on all the things she sees...the good, the bad, and the ugly.  All of a sudden, while you know the end is not going to change, maybe the journey to the end will be better than it has been.  You will be able to ask all the questions and get an answer and if there is none, you will know that.  The nurse puts you at ease knowing you can call day or night for help and so can your family. All of a sudden you sense you have a small bit of your control back and maybe you will will be able to find the right drug to keep you comfortable so you can go fishing, hang with your kids, or do some of the things you haven't been able to because of your pain.  You start feel some hope after a long dry season of battles and little hope.

It's about good time...and everyone has a different definition and different ways to spend our time.  It's about knowing when enough feels like enough but you feel like there is no where to turn, there is a soft place to land.  It about knowing the goals have changed from cure to symptom control, good time, comfort and your loves.  And that too is a choice to be thought about when you and only you decide.  But you have to have the information.

That's why after all these years of loving and caring for people at the end of life, my passion has not waned...

May you never have to make a choice you aren't ready for,
May you have an abundance of time with your loves,
And may that time always be good and peaceful!

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


Saturday, March 10, 2018

There is no such thing as a perfect life, but there certainly are perfect moments...

Hello again, my gosh I haven't written in a long time.  I am good, so that isn't why I haven't written.  I have been trying to live in the moment more and appreciate it all.  Not as easy as it looks right?  

Last week, I had the honor of seeing one, if not my favorite patient.  She and I are friends, I would say more than she is my patient.  I have cared for her for almost 4 years and it has been my pleasure and have learned so much about living a life with an illness that wasn't planned on...

I sat at her kitchen table with her, and her love talking.  We talked about the "nursey" things and then moved on to their life together.  We talked about what they used to do for fun when she could get out more and what they want to do for fun now.  Then I asked how long they have been together as they are not married.  After a little banter and flirting back and forth, they agreed it was 20 years.  "Why didn't you get married?" I asked.  "What for?" they chimed a little louder than I would have expected, "that doesn't mean anything to us."   I sat there quietly and watched them look at each other.  I thought, but didn't say, that it was absolutely true.  They are devoted, they are looking at 80, started their love around the same age as Jim and I are now and saw no reason to make it "legal".  They have cared for each other through some difficult times and never thought of leaving.  They still banter and pick at each other sometimes but when they need each other it is an unspoken yes that is evident.  I finished up that visit, kissed them both goodbye, and sat in my car.  Another example of learning  what enduring love looks like and it was a perfect moment.

Last Thursday was a hard day for me.  You know when you think everything  going really well and fail to look at the whole picture?  Well, last Thursday was that kinda day.  It finished with a situation that was difficult to sit through as I was in a "I haven't seen the whole picture all day so I am gonna make sure I see it now."  Needless to say, the whole picture that night was humbling and  while good, I didn't handle it very well.  So, you know me, after I got out of the meeting, I leaned against my trusty steering wheel, which has captured many tears from my job and let go.  The next thing I did, if you know me, was drive to the liquor store for a bottle of wine.  I sat in the car and wiped my tears and my drippy nose and walked in.  There was a line at the check out and as I walked by them they all looked at me.  One of the ladies stepped in front of me and asked if I was okay.  I told her I was fine and that I just had a bad day.  She wrapped her arms around me and comforted me and told me it was gonna be okay and that we all have those.  I stepped back to find three other folks in line offering me a hug...Each one stepped forward and hugged me and said nothing.  It was the sweetest, kindest gesture of comfort from strangers I have ever experienced.  I got my bottle of wine and got in my car and realized that moment was just what I needed and was perfect.  While we all worry about us humans and how we are becoming desensitized to others pain, I offer you this perfect moment of comfort and love.

Yesterday morning before work, I spent an hour or so with one of my nurse's babies.  He is about 6 months old and he is a joy to have around.  She asked because she had to care for a patient really early and didn't have a sitter.  Little did I know that saying I would help her out would be another one of those perfect moments.  He was sitting in his carseat and playing with his toys while people came into my office to admire him and ask what the heck I was doing.  Finally a scary person with a beard came in and he got a little scared and cried.  I took him out of his car seat...which I must say these days is no easy feat compared to when I had little ones, and did my work with him on my lap.  I had to take one of his socks off to look at his little baby feet and admire them...perfect, beautiful and ready to learn to walk at some point.  I looked at his long eye lashes and thought about all the things he will see and learn along with all the winking and blinking when he gets older and begins to look to make his life.  I thought of how it was such a difficult, precious time when mine were that little and honestly, if I could go back and do it again...I would in a heart beat.  Finally, mommy showed up and I told her what a wonderful baby he is and hope she will suggest I watch him again.  It started my day perfectly!

I spent the rest of the day with 2 of my CNA's providing care for patients.  They were so kind and did a beautiful job.  I was proud to be their boss.  Then the day ended and it was time to babysit again.  Nothing like this morning but help a friend that needed an adult presence in the house for the evening.  Little did I know it was going to be the perfect finish to this crazy week.

I showed up and they were having dinner.  5 of them around the table eating and talking.  The older siblings had it totally under control and I was wondering why their mother thought they needed help.  After dinner, they cleaned up their plates and the bed time routine began.  Now, after hearing what we needed to do, I realized I had just moved to the twilight zone.   A 2 year old, and a 4 year old and a 4 1/2 year old needed to be changed into pj's, teeth needed to be brushed and possibly diapers and underpants changed.  Then, we needed to read 3 books, sing a number of songs, say some prayers and then they were down for bed.  Okay, I thought, I can do this...I haven't lost my mojo of being a mom to cute boys.  My kid to care for was the 4 1/2 year old precious young man.  He showed me how he climbs all over the bunk beds, where the hamper is to throw his dirty clothes, where and how he puts on his pj's, how he brushes his teeth and spits, and the little stool in the bathroom that he uses to do that.

Then, we ventured to his bed, but not before he picked 3 books.  We sat down on the couch and I put my arm around him and he snuggled in.  We first read a book about a baby owl, and I tried to use my best baby owl voice to read the parts.  Not sure it worked as well as his mom, but he was polite and smiled the whole time.  He is so smart, there were pages of the owl book that he memorized and read to me.  Boy, that brought back some memories.  The next book was a halloween book that I was worried may scare him.  He quickly told me that it was all pretend and fake and he was gonna be fine.  So I began to read.  I must say, back in the day, I took needing a lot of light to read for granted and had to tip the book towards the light to read.  We finished that book and it did end fine. although the engineers pumpkin head did fall off...and at one point the train they were all on was carrenning out of control.  The final book, he proudly took away and read it out loud.  I sat awash in memories of my Mac and how he read us a book called "Truck song" every night because he remembered it.  This guy read his "Cars" book to me and it was one of the sweetest moments of the day.

Finally we were done and on to the ending phase of the "bedtime routine."  By this time, his big sister joined us to sing the songs and say the prayers that Mom does every night.  They sang and she prayed and he was supposed to call it a night.  But, I lingered a little to tell him what an awesome little boy he is and to thank him for letting me help put him to bed when he asked, "can you sing me some of your songs?"  Another few perfect moments as he and I sang "Twinkle twinkle" and "Jesus loves me".  He smiled up at me so big that tears came to my eyes. Then he asked if I had a prayer to say....so I pulled out the prayer I said to my children every night that I was home and when I wasn't Jim did...
"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Guide me through the starry night,
And wake me when the sun is bright."

Then I rubbed his head and kissed it as he tried to talk me into more but then I  heard the dog barking outside and figured Dad was home.  I came upstairs and in fact, Dad who had been out of town for a few days was home, and it was my time to leave.

I said my goodbye's, got in the car and leaned on my trusty steering wheel again. Not to cry but to try to capture the night in my brain and weave the memories with my own from my precious 4 1/2 year old boys.  It was a perfect end to a unusually difficult week filled with perfect moments that make a life.  

This morning, Jim told me how lucky he was to be married to me...I agreed, we are pretty lucky. We are two imperfect humans, with probably more than our share of imperfections, trying to remember those perfect moments that make a life worth living.

So what is the takeaway?  Life is hard, with illness, pain and difficulties we don't even know will happen.  But, mixed in the pain, illness and difficulties are these perfect moments.  They happen out of nowhere and are usually not expected, or fancy ...but if they are honored and savored for what they are, they make life worth living!

So go out and savor those perfect moments today!
I love you all,
We'll tawk soon,
Terry

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Years Resolutions

Tommorrow, in the afternoon, I begin my trek to Peru to see those I love and who loves them.  You probably already know, my daughter is in the Peace Corps and is living in Peru.  She has been there for a year and a half and last Christmas, when we visited, we didn't know it at the time...but we met her love.  He is not typical, he is not from the US and he is an amazing man. They are planning a future together.  It is almost surreal to watch your grown children make choices about how they will live when you are gone.  When I hear her talk about him, I can see it, the admiration, his kindness, the attachment and love of family that we have.  It will be something to see...

But, I digress.  I want to talk about today and the few days before that.  It was Christmas eve and Christmas day and my adult children were together in another country.  They were making food and talking spanish and loving each other and learning about being together without Mom and Dad.  A little bittersweet for me because I cannot think of anything better than being all together with my loves and their loves but it didn't happen this year over Christmas.

Instead, I worked.  I saw patients.  I went to homes where folks were looking at illness and death and sat beside them and touched their hands and held "space".  We didn't need to talk if it was up to me, but if they started, I joined in.  It made me feel so honored and almost lucky to be in their home at that time.  To explain to the caregiver what services we offered and that this time is the most difficult time for caregivers but it also shows that person how much you love them...

I saw people who were losing their loved one to  end stage neurological disease, and they wanted to keep them home and safe.  They wanted to make coffee and muffins for them in the morning, even if the patient had forgotten how to chew and swallow.  They wanted that comfort of the things they have always done to keep the familiar, if just to have a glint in they eyes of their love that they remember.  I saw folks that had pain that was unrelenting and offered suggestions and a plan to follow so they could at least feel like they were helping (and they were). Then late on Christmas Eve, I saw a man who was mad...because he had cancer, because he was going to die, and because I was not perfect.  He was so mad and there was nothing I could do to calm him or make it better. Finally, I left his house apologizing and realizing that sometimes I am the perfect person to be mad at and it's okay.  I sat in my car in the driveway and cried...for the patient that could not remember, for the patient who was experiencing pain and for this gentleman that was so angry that he had terminal cancer.

On Christmas day, I did another round of patient visits and it was fine.  Than, in the evening, I got a message from one of my patients families that her mother was in her last hours.  I loved this woman...She was smart, kind, able to talk for hours with me if I had the time and told me she loved me when I left.  I can't say that I fall in love this deeply with every patient, but with her...I did.  I went to her 90th birthday party because she invited me.  On that day, she was radiant and I could hardly believe that she would ever die.  When I visited her, I would pull a chair up to her in her chair and just sit and look at her.  She was 91 and beautiful...in the way that stands the test of time.  When I got promoted, I asked one of my new nurses to take over and she did, but I missed her a lot.  I called her caretaker one day to check on something and I got to talk to her...and found myself in tears because I missed seeing her weekly.

Today, her daughter let me know that she was dying.  I went over and sat with her, told her I was there and what she meant to me. Next thing I knew, I was being handed a tissue by her daughter to 
take care of me.  I stroked her arm, and the coolness of the temperature told me that it was soon.  I told her family how much she meant to me and what an honor it was to care for her, that I got more from her that she from me.  I told them they had done everything right, but her daughter talked about how tired she was and encouraged her mother to go back to sleep in the middle of the night...the human side of caregiving.  Finally, I kissed my sweet girl and told the family it was their time, to be together and wait...  Once again, I cried in the front seat of my car from the emotion and relief and sadness for my patient.

I just got a message that she was gone.  I am so happy that she is "with the Father" as she said but so sad that she is not here on earth with us.  I am so honored that I got to be part of her life, to discuss the end of her life and hear her talk about how her life went.

Now to the resolutions for 2018...Today, when I was thinking about her, I thought "Maybe I will put off going to see her, she has declined before and then bounced back"...  Then I thought about how much I cared and loved sitting with her, how much she gave me in the short time I knew her and how I had to make time to give her one more kiss on her cheek just in case this is really it.  It was a good decision...a great one, really.  

So to put that decision into an action plan for 2018...when someone means so much to you..tell them,  listen to them, hold space, be present...they may be mad at you because you are safe to be mad at...but, when you love someone, you give them time.  You give them your attention, and your love.  That is what I think is important...your time, your attention, your devotion...

That is my New Years resolution, and an amazing reminder of what really matters...thank you my sweet Nanny...you and your family taught me so much.

We'll tawk tomorrow,
Love you all,
Terry