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 presc
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.
My mood: very distressed
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
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.
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 ba
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?
My mood: somewhat contemplative
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
"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
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.
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"
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: www.strideth.com/blog
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" by Karla M. Bertram:
Previous PostsThe 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
BlogrollHere are some friends' blogs...
HelpEmbed Photos Embed Videos