Friday, November 28, 2008

"You have your Dad's hands"

"You have your Dad's hands". That is what Mom said to me on the way home from a great Thanksgiving dinner at our house. I was holding her hand as we drove through the darkened city...on Highway 99. As we passed Evergreen Washelli Cemetary that is what she said. I thought about that statement as we continued thinking about what Dad's hands looked like and then knowing that I have inheritated both those hands of his and his ability to be compassionate. Mom is having such a tough time...she told me again as I hugged her goodbye tonight that she hoped her life wasn't going to last much longer...that her heart flutters. I can see that she wants to die and is afraid to die all at the same time.

As I drove home to my warm and bright house...I was both grateful that I love my life, my partner, my friends...Cathy and Robin...all waiting for my return. I regret that in my Mom's life there is only the memory of my Dad...her silent lunches with my brother, and whatever pleasures that Pamela and I can bring to her.

Sunday, Pamela is taking Mom to Northgate Mall for some Christmas shopping. I will meet them for lunch after church.

So, we begin the holiday rituals again. Thanksgiving dinner...where Mom ate a little of everything this year....then onto Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Accentuate the positive

I finally told Mom that I needed her to try to be a little more positive. I explained that there are plenty of things we can all focus on that drag us down in life...the weather, our jobs, conflict of any kind...but that it was important to try and focus on the good things. I emphasized that this quality to see the positive was one of the things that I really loved about Dad. I could always count on him to be optimistic and show me the way to that positive perspective.

Mom is naturally a glass half full kind of person...a worrier...a disaaster forcaster. But she can also be very kind and supportive. I see that she struggles to get to a place where there is no fear..and that is hard for her on a daily basis. The other day she told me she was afraid to live in her apartment. When I asked her why, she explained that someone had rushed by her in the hall when she was trying to do her laundry. She couldn't see the person's face and it really scared her. I explained that it was normal for people to walk by each other in an apartment hallway...that the person was probably just in a hurry and meant her no harm.

I normalize the world for Mom...she has never seen things in a rational way...she sees deeper, sometimes to the point of creating her own unique way of seeing. Maybe that is what paranoia is all about...or maybe she is tuned into the world on a different level. I have no idea after all these years. Sometimes I think Mom is really sensitive in a way that is different from the experience that most people have in the world. She can be very intuitive...and see things that others either do not see or do not understand...are they real?...or not? Sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing that...but I know that I am more tuned into people and I think my experience with Mom has something to do with my ability to read people.

I am having a unique experience with Mom...I am seeing her completely unvarnished..without my Dad as her buffer. True, he created a safe little world that she lived in for many I try to help her manage her new world. We are both making the best of it and trying to enjoy the time we have left together.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wanting to die

Mom told me at dinner today that she wanted to die. She hates her apartment, her life, her inability to walk very well. She is so down on her whole existence that I have to work pretty hard not to just give up on her.

She wanted to get out of the apartment after dinner so I took her grocery shopping. She likes to go to Safeway because the shopping scooters giver her mobility that she doesn't have in any other situation. We made the rounds collecting the items that she needed and drove back to her apartment.

I put away her groceries and then turned to give her a big hug. She started crying which made me cry....we just held each other and cried..both of us missing Dad. She still cannot believe that he passed away first. It seems ironic to me in some wierd way. Dad spent most of his adult life taking care of my Mom. He created a world that she could function in...feel safe in. Now that he is gone, she is completely lost...adrift...not able to understand that he will never be there by her side again.

After I left, I drove away completely depressed and emotionally exhausted.

Pamela and I are planning a good Thanksgiving dinner for her. We just have to keep planning events that she will be part of that keep her somewhat engaged in life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quiche anyone?

I got up early today to make a quiche to take to Mom for our breakfast this morning. I arrived at her apartment a half hour late after fighting rain and heavy traffic across the city.

She was happy to see me and hungry. I served her a good sized piece and poured her some hot coffee. Bacon went into the microwave because she already had it ready to cook. I served up my plate and joined her as she finished her quiche in record time. We talked and ate and drank our coffee...everything was going well this morning.

She had me look at her latest medical bill from her eye specialist. I explained it to her and told her which of the amounts she was responsible for this time around. After that, she switched gears on me and began to tell me about a black bag she had set out in her bedroom that she wanted me to know contains all her papers and her will. She wanted me to know about it and work the lock. She wanted to be sure that I knew where all her important papers and her will could be found...if she was to fall ill or die.

Mom talks a lot about her death these days...almost every time I see her she talks about it like it is just around the corner. I have grown used to this and do not get as upset as I used to about the topic. She got pretty emotional this morning about missing Dad...that he was waiting for her and that she wants to join him sooner rather than later. Her biggest fear seems to be that she will live to be 93 like her sister who passed away a year ago. She sees living that long as a herself and to my brother and I.

I called Mark and told him I was leaving...he was on his way over to have lunch with Mom. We are ships passing each other on the sea of Mom. The first shift leaves...the second shift comes on deck. We are doing all that we can to help Mom.

I gave her a long hug and a kiss and held her for a moment before I left. I am the only person who really has a lot of physical contact with Mom. I can tell she needs it because she leans into me each time I wrap her in a hug.

I sat in my car for a minute before leaving trying to regain my sense of calm...I never know what tomorrow will bring..but at least for today, Mom had a nice homemade breakfast and a chance to pass along the information that her life's documents are contained in a black case.