krisis's Blog

dear religious friends & relatives

Thank you for your condolances after the recent loss of my mother. 

You can stop trying to convert me now. I wasn't religious before Mom died and that isn't going to change.

I understand that you find comfort and strength in your religion and wanted to share that comfort and strength with me. I accepted your condolances because you offered them and you; my friends and family, are important to me. The offer comforted me - not the content of the offer.


The Neverending Now

Mom has asked me to stay with her until the end. I sort of planned to do that, even before she asked - but I was thinking short-term, a month or two.. Mom's doc says maybe six months.. Now I'm realizing the magnitude of what "maybe six months"  entails.

She lives in Florida & I live in CT.  My job should be ok, I am able to work remotely. I have two cats and an apartment. My Dad lives up here. All of my doctors are up here, including my shrink who writes monthly prescriptions for me.. plus I'm going to be needing him when that end does come.

I think I feel most guilty about my cats, they depend on me. I have someone who will come every day to feed them and make sure they have water & clean litter - but they are going to be alone without a human to love for months..  I thought about taking them with me, but I'm not sure how they'd handle the 24hr drive.. and Mom has a dog who thinks cats are snacks.. C would put him in his place pretty quickly, but H is a 'fraidy cat - she'd be terrified. 

Then just the odds & ends - I'll need to file my income taxes while I'm out of town, which means I'll need to get the person who is taking in my mail to keep an eye out for my W2's and send them to me when they arrive. I'll need to take my primary computer with me, it's not a laptop. I need to take more clothes with me. How am I going to fit all of this crap into my small SUV?  

I've started a list - but, I'm suppose to leave in 5 days.. and I feel horribly unprepared. 

Strange Ways of Coping

Mom gave me a Christmas Cactus when she moved from CT to FL about 10yrs ago..

I have a brown thumb when it comes to house plants, and this is no different.. It started out as a flowering beauty but became root bound & started to die..  I replanted it and tried to keep it alive.. Cacti are hardy plants, and every time I'd think it was going to die for sure, it would sprout a new batch of green.

Over the years the amount of green got smaller & smaller - until about 3yrs ago, when it stopped sprouting new green.. this was about the same time Mom was diagnosed with cancer. 

I know it's strange.. but ever since then, I've had this lurking suspicion that when that Christmas Cactus finally dies that my Mom will die too. When it's gotten wilted & sad looking - Mom has gotten worse, and when it shows a little life - Mom feels better.  

I know it's just "Magical Thinking" and has no basis in reality, but ... 
My mood: somewhat sad

My Love-Hate Relationship with My Hometown

Someone recently started a Facebook group for "Growing up in .name of town here.". I joined & thought it was pretty cool at first - seems the first people to post were those like me, misfits, people who partied & got into mischief when they were teenagers & have since gone on to have relatively normal lives.  

As time wore on, they started about what song our hometown reminded them of.. my answer (which I didn't post).. was a song with the lyrics  "nothing but the dead & dying back in my little town".  Then they started posting about how great school was - and all the good teachers.. I hated school, and there are only two teachers out of all 12yrs of my schooling that I actually considered "good", most were ok - some were real jerks who had no business in a classroom.

I never enjoyed the things others did about school - never went on class trips or attended dances, it just wasn't my idea of fun. I didn't fit in with the usual cliques.  I was smart, but not a very good student and creatively mischievous but not a true troublemaker.  I had no musical talent - I couldn't carry a tune if you handed it to me in a bag and I wasn't much of an athlete - I was big & fearless but uncoordinated - so I got picked first for teams when playing contact sports, and last for everything else.  I was ecstatic when I finally escaped the trap called 'school'.  

There is one thing I miss about my old town.. I used to ride my bicycle down to the town green in the middle of the night & sit quietly listening to the night, the traffic on the interstate, the a/c units clicking on & off, the hum of the streetlights and occasionally footsteps as someone walked down the sidewalk.  I liked that peace & quiet.  

Remembering Childhood

Since I found out about Mom's cancer diagnosis, I've spent a lot of time trying to remember my childhood.  This is just a list off the top of my head - not much of it is good, I think this may be because things that stir negative emotion seem to etch themselves in memory more frequently than normal interaction... 

Mom liked building stuff - sometimes arts & crafts kind of things, and other times - big things, like a playhouse or reupholstering a chair.  One time, she took a circular saw to a wall in the kitchen - she was very lucky that she didn't hit the electrical wires that ran up from the basement to the second floor. 

I remember decorating the Christmas trees, putting up the lights & the tinsel. We got to hang the "kid" ornaments on the lower branches, while the glass "adult" ornaments went at the top of the tree. 

Mom made us do the dishes after she put her cigarettes out in the pots that had water in them.  *ugh* I can still taste the smell of stale, wet cigarette butts - doing the dishes when they were like this made me want to gag - it had an upside though: I decided when I was very young that I would never, ever smoke. 

My brother and I used to hide her cigarettes, and put cigarette loads into them - so they'd explode when she lit them. 

When I was a tween, I used to water down her Vodka & Whiskey.

When I was about 8, I sold all her beer to a construction crew that was working on a house near where I lived. I used the money to buy comic books & ice cream at the neighborhood store.

During the summer between 5th grade & 6th grade, Mom volunteered to chaperon on a Girl Scout camping trip. She brought her booze with her, and was obviously intoxicated a few times over the weekend. It took me all year to live this down - the other girls who were there harassed me about it once school started again. I quit Girl Scouts and I ended up getting in a few fights..   

I was a bit of an adventurer as a kid and I was perpetually injuring myself - Mom would always clean my wounds and bandage them.  

I always carried a little pocket knife when I was a kid, I was a tomboy and it was a useful tool. I never even thought of using it as a weapon.  When I was in 6th grade, I got in trouble for having it at school. Mom came to retrieve me & the knife and told them in no uncertain terms that they were overreacting.  

I remember stopping in the Carolinas during our road trips in the 1970s so Mom could buy cigarettes by the case, they were much less expensive down there than they were in CT. 

I remember not being able to have sleepovers because Mom "wasn't well" in the evenings. 

I remember Mom bathing me in some petroleum solvent after myself and a friend had gotten into a bucket of roofing tar and painted ourselves with it.  I was about 4yrs old at the time. 

I wish there were more positive things on this list..    :-(  

Was my life as a kid really this bad? 

The Beginning of the End

I found out two weeks ago that my mother has cancer. They weren't sure what kind of cancer it was until yesterday... it's "small-cell lung cancer" - the worst, most aggressive kind - and it's already moved into her lymph nodes. The doctors won't give her an 'expiration date' but from everything I've read, even with treatment only 6% of patients with this sort of cancer make it to 5yrs, most survive only 14-18 months.

So this is the beginning of the end.. I know that we're all start dying the moment we're born - but knowing that the end is so near is - sad..

Mom has been a smoker since she was a teenager.. she's 68 now. If the news stories weren't enough - we kids have been telling her for decades that she needed to quit smoking before it killed her.. Now it's a certainty - smoking IS killing her, yet she's continues. She said she's down to six butts a day (from about a pack and a half). I'm hoping she'll stop entirely, since continuing to smoke during treatment will make the treatments less effective.

Mom and I have never been very close, she's been an unrepentant alcoholic since I was a child and she's done and said some very hurtful things to me over the years. I stopped talking to her for about 7yrs when I was in my late teens. Eventually I reestablished contact, she's mellowed a bit with age, but when she's been drinking the nasty person I grew up with is still there.

She can be very bitter and spiteful when she's been drinking - especially when she's talking about my father. Anytime the subject comes up - she takes the opportunity to blame him for every bad thing that happened in her life. I wouldn't be surprised to hear her blame him for her cancer at some point, even though I generally try to avoid discussions on topics that bring out her nasty side.

When I was in my early 20s I realized how much anger I was carrying around about this and how much it was hurting me.  Her behavior had made my childhood hell, I wasn't going to allow my adulthood be the same - it took a while, but I learned how to let go of the anger.

One of my life's regrets is that I really don't know my mom very well. I don't know about her childhood or what her life was like before she married my father. I never had those mother-daughter bonding moments that kids have. Now I'm running out of time.

My mood: very sad

Today's Quote - Education

"The standard educational approaches tend to destroy creativity and imagination," - Dr. William Baumol, Academic Director for New York University's Stern School's Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation

music & life - david wilcox's musical medicine

David Wilcox - Musical Medicine

I'm a big fan of song lyrics and David Wilcox writes & performs some excellent songs about the trials & tribulations of life. I can really identify with many of the subjects he sings about. In this collection on his website - he groups the songs by "life experience" - and you can listen to them online.

Today's Quote - Leadership

Your position never gives you the right to command. It only imposes on you the duty of living your life that others can receive your orders without being humiliated.

- Dag Hammerskjold "Markings"

Courage in the face of adversity

Every time I start feeling bad about my circumstances in life, I think of my friend Betsy & her husband Scott.


In July 2006, when Scott was ~ 30 yrs old, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer  with metastaces to the liver and brain. The prognosis was not good, doctors were talking in months not years.. Scott vowed to fight to the very end, and he is still with us today. 


I cry when I think of them, their story is one of the heroic human spirit and the power of love.. it is both sad and inspiring at the same time. They tell the story better than I ever could, you can read it here:

20090708: Scott died today - Betsy says " His parents will tell you that he was born exactly on time, and so he died, three years after his diagnosis, two days after his 33rd birthday, and almost exactly when he said he was going to. I will never know quite how he knew." - Godspeed Scott. k.

The Greatest Gift - Poem from Hobbes' Memorial Photo

Hobbes' Memorial Page

"The Greatest Gift" by Karla M. Bertram:

I always knew this time would come,
From the very instant our eyes first met.
How I loved you then! How I love you now!
I made a promise then, and I will keep that promise now...
You will not suffer from a pain that will not heal;
You will not know the loss of a life remembered, now gone.

It is for me alone to make this decision,
The price for the bright joy and pure laughter
You brought me during the time we shared.
I am the only one who can decide when it is time.
When my hope dies, and my fear rides high,
Just when I need you most, I must let you go.

It is for you alone to tell me when you are ready
For without your guidance, I will not know
When to lay my grief, my guilt, my anger
My sorrow and my selfish heart aside
And give you this last gift, this greatest gift.
Your eyes will speak to mine, and I will know.

The pain of this moment is excruciating.
Tears stream down my face in a river of sorrow.
And my heart drowns in a pool of grief.
For you have spoken and I have listened,
And unlike other decisions I have made
This one brings no peace.

For if there´s one thing you´ve taught me,
If there´s only one thing I´ve learned...
Unconditional love has a condition after all,
I must be willing to let you go, when you speak to me
I must be willing to help you go, if you cannot go alone.
And I must accept my pain so you can be free of yours.

Go easily now, go quickly now,
Do not linger here, it is time for you to leave.
Go find your strength, go find your youth.
Go find the ones who've gone before you.
You are free to leave me now, free to let your spirit soar
Rest easy now, your pain will soon be gone.

I pray I will find comfort in my memories...
In the dark and lonely days ahead.
I cannot say I will not miss you, I cannot say I will not cry.
For only my tears can heal my broken heart.
But, I promise you this; as long as I live,
You will live, alive in my mind, forever in my heart.

So I give you this last gift, all I have left to give,
And this will be my greatest gift...sending you away.
It is the measure of my unconditional love...
For only the greatest love can say,
"Good-bye, go find the bridge, we'll meet again,
Loving you has been the greatest gift of all."
-"The Greatest Gift" by Karla M. Bertram  (CC-BY-SA)

1-11 of 11 Blogs   

Previous Posts
dear religious friends & relatives, posted September 24th, 2014
The Neverending Now, posted December 8th, 2012
Strange Ways of Coping, posted September 25th, 2012
My Love-Hate Relationship with My Hometown, posted August 15th, 2011
Remembering Childhood, posted October 11th, 2010
The Beginning of the End, posted October 8th, 2010
Today's Quote - Education, posted May 18th, 2010
music & life - david wilcox's musical medicine, posted November 11th, 2009
Today's Quote - Leadership, posted June 25th, 2009
Courage in the face of adversity, posted June 12th, 2009
The Greatest Gift - Poem from Hobbes' Memorial Photo, posted May 11th, 2009

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