Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Last Monday

February 26, 2007

I'm so glad I came when I did. Thursday and Friday Mom has several moments of clarity, I receive hugs and "I love you’s”.

Over the weekend at her request, we bring out her jewelry box and she ceremoniously gifts us its contents. She gives me her original wedding and engagement ring. This is such a treasure because it was THERE when my parents received the Sacrament of Matrimony, because it represents all they hoped for and built upon when they united in marriage.

"It cost $7 a week out of your father's paycheck," she tells me. "Your father only made $40 a week. It was very expensive."

It brings me to tears.

"I hope you like it. I wish I had more jewelry to give you girls."

"Mom," I reply through teary blinks, "YOU are our jewel."

That makes her smile.

I've gotten smiles and hugs. They are all but gone now.

She has transitioned from calling out for us, to calling out for those already passed. She cries out at night for her sister Jean, and Jean's husband Jimmy.

Then she calls out items of food.

"Chicken!" she cries. "Chicken and beans!"

She catches herself at certain moments, and looks sheepish and apologetic for sounding foolish. But that was two days ago. Now, she is more there than here. "Jean! Jean!" Go to Jean, Ma. Jean can't wait. Go to Jean.

Her other sister Carm comes for a visit earlier today, and I resent that her three older sisters are still alive and relatively healthy, for Italian women under five feet tall in their eighties, though their complaints would indicate otherwise. I resent that it's MY mother that fell ill, that I will have to exist without a mother, my children without their grandmother.

Resentment turns to sympathy when my little aunt's shoulders shake with sobs, when she says goodbye to her baby sister. I think I hear "I love you too" mumbled through my mother's lips. Oh, God, can I choke back any more tears?

I watch today, as my nephews file in throughout the day, clumsy and awkward, respectful, but clearly uncomfortable. We do our best to coach them.

"Tell her you love her," I tell my godson Joey, my sister's son, a broad and handsome college student.

"Hi Nonnie," he says loudly, holding her tiny waxy hand in his, "it's Joey, your favorite grandson." It prompts a small brief smile. One of the last.

We watch breathing patterns.

We take her pulse.

We see blue patches travel, from her ear now, to her fingertips, then back to her face, around her lips.

Watch and wait.

Pray for sooner than later.

If the medication is not right, there is agitation and pain. "Pull me up," she mumbles. "I want to sit up." There is significant pain in trying to position her at these times. We are changing her "pad", the dignified term for the diaper she wears, with less and less frequency. Her fluid intake is down to sips a day.

I swear her heart will pop right out of her chest. It averages about 120 beats per minute. Her hospice nurse tells us hearts can't beat like that for long periods of time, and, God forgive me, I hope she is right. I find her suffering unbearable to watch.

We take turns, my sisters and I. There are three of us, and two need to be "on duty" leaving one to get a good night's sleep. Tonight it is my sister Leslie, who has come down with the flu spending a good part of the evening vomiting in the bathroom. We try to find humor in this situation, what else can you do?

It could be a long night, based on the last several. However with so little interaction today perhaps it will be just waiting.



I count my blessings, my family, my sisters, my friends. We enjoy a fabulous mostaciolli cooked by my best friend's husband, with red wine, garlic bread, salad. I find myself playing my mother's role, setting out the plates, warming the dishes, making the salad, cleaning up. I find enormous comfort in these tasks.

My heart goes out to my brother, who has existed in a state of denial until yesterday, when Father Bob came for the Sacrament of Last Rights, holding hands around her bedside, reciting prayers, commending her spirit to the Lord. My brother sobbing in the bathroom afterward, and then sitting dazed in a chair in the corner of the living room, looking at my mother in the hospital bed. Her jaw slack, she is so thin, so pale. I see him again today, and I am tender in my approach. He is still raw and upset. He stays only briefly.

This time is sacred, a dear friend reminded me at the onset of this trip. It is extremely accurate and validating. Sacred is exactly what this is.

Only God knows the timing of what is ahead of us. We have all said our prayers to Him expressing that we are ready to let her go, that she deserves the riches and treasures of Heaven, that she is not to stay on our behalf.

We continually encourage her to tell Him she is ready.

That is all that can be done. The rest is in His hands.

We wait.

Ticket To Ars Poetica

My Poet stands behind the yellow line, contemplating the sign, “Danger High Voltage”. Imagining herself shocked to life, her comic book skeleton glowing through her spread-eagled flesh.

The Police Officer rides under the guise of protection, but doubts her credentials to ride. It’s always harder to find the ticket when someone is waiting; stomach and heart bouncing and racing off their tracks.

Riding trains bloated with faces and bodies, dangling and surrendering to the sway of each stop, straps lassoing the napes of riders’ wrists.

Diverse mosaic, nonsensical neighbors, the ill-looking suit with complexion as gray as the traffic of pigeons, sits next to a circus of tattoos crowned with a Mohawk atop a face angry with piercings.

Some rides childlike and odd, like winking at hairy belly buttons, staring at eye level; others are rebellious and dangerous, like graffiti out the window, bloodying gray walls.

Riding empty trains, in late, dark hours, solitude finds her both comforted and frightened. Sponging headlines from newspaper curtains, or mindless in daydream. She eyes the sleepers, smelling of gin, boogeymen only pretending to slumber.

My Poet rides lurching trains, trains that suddenly stop, and those unexpectedly delayed. The ride is always the same and always different, and my Poet knows that she cannot get lostas long as she continues to ride.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh Ye of Little Faith!

5:00am Alarm
5:30am Coffee made, laundry started, start working on payroll checks for first job
6:30am Wake husband and oldest son, continue working
7:05am Receive call from first fellow carpooler, get reprive from morning drive
7:20am Let oldest son talk me into staying home and “helping” me with my day
7:30am Wake youngest son, leave with oldest son to first job
10:00am Receive call at first job from former member of Board of Directors that he received three 1099’s from our company for 2006 (two years before I worked there) and he only has until Monday to get it clear with the IRS, could I write a letter on company letterhead to the IRS explaining what happened
10:15am Write, print, sign, scan and email letter for former member of Board of Directors of first job
10:30am Leave first job to pick up in-laws at airport
11:00am Receive call from second fellow carpooler accusing me of backing into their neighbor’s car and driving away. Snitch on first fellow carpooler
11:40am Check with agent at airline ticket counter about missing in-laws, subsequently told that in-laws’ flight DEPARTS at 11:00am and arrives at 3:15


12:00pm Enjoy lunch with oldest son
12:30pm Receive frantic call from first job’s boss panicking that the quarterly income tax deposit needs to be initiated today
12:35pm Confirm with first job coworker that she is doing the deposit
1:00pm Receive call from first job, new girl called in payroll hours wrong, asked her to let boss know deposit is taken care of
1:15pm Drop off oldest son at home
1:30pm Arrive at first job, call payroll service, conference in new girl because I don’t have authorization with the payroll service, GET authorized
2:00pm Ignore all matter of cell phone calls while muttering profanities under my breath, correct check
2:20pm Leave first job to pick up second carpooler’s daughter whom I’ve never met and have no clue what she looks except for long dark hair


2:25pm Receive call from first oldest sister with news that second oldest sister’s husband had to go to cardiologist again today for chest pains
2:25pm Ignore beeping of call waiting of youngest son calling
2:26pm Lose cell service and disconnect from sister’s call
2:27pm Receive call from second job’s accounting assistant stating the $22,000 check for the truck leasing payment has been cut and is ready to be picked up downtown
2:27pm Ignore beeping of call waiting from oldest sister calling back
2:28pm Call home to speak with youngest son, oldest son informs me he went to a friend’s house to play
2:29 Return oldest sister’s call who says she’s going to the movies and will call back later this evening with news of brother-in-law’s ticker
2:30pm Call second job’s boss to give update on status of check, boss says she’s near the downtown office and can pick up and deposit the check


2:45pm Arrive at oldest son’s school, get ignored by office staff and miss chance to page second carpooler’s daughter
2:50pm Ask every long haired brunette second carpooler’s daughter’s name
2:55pm Receive call from second job’s boss requesting valuation of rental properties based on rental income for the last twelve months
3:00pm Find oldest son’s friend who knows second carpooler’s daughter and helps locate, asking for a ride home himself
3:10pm Drop off second carpooler’s daughter
3:11pm Drop off oldest son’s friend at our house to hang with oldest son
3:30pm Try calling in-laws’ cell phone for update on their 3:15 flight, in-laws’ cell phone is off
3:32pm Get pulled over by airport police for driving 34mph in 10mph zone, apologize profusely and allowed to drive on… slowly
3:33pm Gaze upward toward heaven in gratitude and acknowledge cashing in of large number of Karma points
3:34pm Turn on directional and wait briefly for departing car in parking garage and pull into a CHERRY parking space
3:35pm Receive call from in-laws and get disconnected immediately
3:35pm Try returning in-laws’ call, no answer
3:36pm Dart through speeding airport traffic in parking garage while saying thank you again to the heavens for the parking spot
3:37pm Enter baggage claim area and receive call back from in-laws who are only now heading for baggage claim

whew… again…

3:38pm ANOTHER thanks to the heavens for flight delays
4:00pm Stop at doggie resort to pick up in-laws aged miniature daschund
4:15pm Drop off in-laws and dog, carry huge bags of luggage into their house, receive hugs and kisses of thanks
4:20pm Call 411 for number of leasing company of second job to see how late they’re open
4:30pm Arrive home to pick up check written to second job’s leasing company that will now not bounce because of deposit (see 2:30pm)
4:45pm Drive very carefully and considerately in attempt to regain Karma points
5:15pm Drop off second job’s check to leasing company
5:45pm Stop at UPS store to check mailbox of third job, thankfully empty
6:00pm Arrive home, argue with youngest son (12 next week) that he cannot drive the new car
6:15pm Oldest son’s friend needs a ride home, agree to take him
6:30pm Arrive home, argue with youngest son (12 next week) that he cannot drive the new car
6:45pm Arbitrarily select random frozen edible something from freezer and fire up the microwave
6:50pm Sit down at computer, check emails, smile upon reading gushing thank you emails from first job new girl and employee whose check was wrong
7:00pm Jot down a few things from the day to justify not having time to…

call the insurance agent for the new car
go to the DMV for the old car
email documents to husband’s coworker
call OBGYN for appointment
and… surely many other “to dos” that will surface in about nine hours

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday Morning

Oh, how I love Sunday morning! The town is quiet, none of the bustle of neighbors driving off to work, no children on their way to school. I took our doggie out for her walk, the long tired shadows of the approaching night reversed to the tall hopeful shadows of the morning as we walked along the sidewalk.

Usually our morning walks begin at the school yard, complete with a tennis ball and plastic baggie (yes, I do pick up after her, because in MY world, it would be MY kid coming home with the poop shoe). I limit our time here as to not run into too many school kids. Today, though, I let Roxi explore. As she sniffed the perimeter of the playground fence, I took my time walking on the frosty grass.

The sun was rising, warming the earth, and I watched as the grass awakened from its sleepy white to its lively green. I watched the trees boast their newly bloomed leaves in the gentle wind, crested by the birds crossing overhead. Pairs of ducks, noisy geese, and the high flying seagulls. I looked back and saw the path of my footprints in the dewy grass.

I read once that kabballists believe that every single blade of grass has a soul, and that fairies and gnomes dance among them. And indeed, I felt compelled to thank the grass for providing a soft base beneath my feet, and ask forgiveness for any unkindness my trodding inflicted. Now, if I start seeing the fairies and gnomes, please adjust my medication, folks.

And now I am back, with the expanse of the day before me filled with possibilities. I am blessed, with the warmth of the sun and the warmth of my family. I look forward to a day working in my backyard, my developing sanctuary.

I think back many years to my first feeble attempts at gardening in our home in California (unsuccessful I may add!), remembering how I knew, KNEW, that a garden spot was to become very important in my life. I could not explain why or where, how or when, but something in me KNEW that there would come a time and place where I would create a garden, and find peace there. I am filled with excitement and energy as I now build it, watch with some strange detached amazement that it is coming to pass.

It has become my place of worship, my Sunday morning blessing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did You Know?

Recently my sister and I spoke of regret, of guilt, of actions perhaps we should have taken during the last days of our parent's lives. I told her of the night I felt I should have stayed at the hospital with my father, after hearing from the nurses of his uncomfortable and distressing night. He was confused. Disoriented. Afraid. It was just one night, but it burns painfully in me still.

I came across this poem written about nine months after he had passed away.

Did you know?
Did you know you were dying?
Did you make your peace
alone in the hospital room?
Did you cry out?
I should have stayed.
I should have been with you.
Held your hand
Quieted your fears
Caressed your brow in the night.
I should have been your beacon
of familiarity.
Did you cry out?
Did you shout?
Did they hear?
Did they listen?
Did they comfort?
Did they ignore?
I regret not the life I built
so many miles away
over so many years.
I regret your life I abandoned
at the last days.
I regret the warm hug I left behind.
I regret leaving too soon.
I should have been your voice.
I should have been your advocate
your legs your voice.
I should have stayed the night.
I'm sorry.
You have left those haunted nights behind
and have moved on to the better place.
Those nights now haunt me.
Did you know?
Did you make your peace?
Did you see Our Father?
Did He stay with you?
Please, I pray
you were not alone.
Did you know?
Did you know how much we loved you?
Will you forgive my ignorance
of your needs?
You always knew mine and
I failed you
I failed you
I failed you

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The COUNTDOWN continues!

Only 14! FOURTEEN! days until the

2008 Spring WoManiFestival!


  • Giggle Pads
  • Chocolate
  • ... do we really need ANYTHING else???


A Day For Some Silliness

There are some pictures that are surely worth a thousand words....