Saying Goodbye

Closure. Isn't that what they call it when you finally can lay to rest all those feelings you've had since someone dies? I guess that's what we have now. Closure. Yesterday we had a memorial service for my dad. It was low-key. Mainly family and a few close friends of my folks. We just had it at mom's house and although my cousin who is a minister did say a few words, for the most part it was just visiting, eating, and remembering. One of my dad's sisters had made a video of some old pictures of Dad and me from when I was little… pictures that my grandmother and grandfather had (they are both gone). Some I had seen, some I had not.

There were tears and laughter. Lots of hugs. Promises to keep in touch.

I still have very mixed feelings about my dad. My cousin made a not-so-subtle hint of that in his words. Something about remembering the good and letting the bad go. Yeah. Easier said than done sometimes. I hope one day I will be able to remember some more good things. Until then, I'll just try not to remember the bad and instead remember the lovely day we had with family and friends.

Lame

Yesterday was Easter. Easter, at least in most families, is a holiday. Holiday means holiday food.

Every year since I can remember, my mom-in-law has had Easter dinner. Until last year. Last year we never heard from her and the kids all had plans (except one) so we just had last-minute dinner at our house. I can't remember the exact menu, but I think it was steaks grilled outside and all the fixin's. Well, after that my MIL decided she should have had Easter dinner. She never really said why she hadn't had it, but guess she started feeling guilty about it so we were expecting to be invited this year.

As of Wednesday we'd not heard a word out of her. Most of the kids were busy at other relatives again, so it was down to just younger daughter, Hubs and myself. I figured I'd cook dinner this year and invite my MIL, brother-in-law (who is in divorce process) and one of his son's. Daughter and I had been talking, coming up with the holiday menu… something pretty traditional for our family. Tradition in our family does not mean difficult or complicated. Remember that part. It is just some family favorites. I figured ham, and raisen sauce, complimented by cheesy potato casserole, a family strawberry -sour cream – banana jello salad, rolls, some veggie like scalloped corn or green bean casserole, and a yummie dessert (preferable chocolate).

I must step back a minute and explain something. A few weeks ago my youngest son's wife began an extreme exercise program at the local kick-boxing facility. It is a 10-week program of exercise, nutrition, and motivation. She finished (and in VERY good shape, I might add) and decided to continue with the maintence program. Well, having seen how well it served her, she talked my younger daughter into doing it. She started two weeks ago. At the time, I decided that although I'm not in good enough shape to do the exercise part (trust me, it would KILL me)… I would follow the diet / nutrition program, then use the treadmill now residing at my house. One of the things about the program that we all like is Sunday Funday. In other words, Sunday is a "free" day… you can eat whatever you want. This means after having been good all week, you look forward to Sunday and having something yummy and preferably non-diet and, oh, chocolate doesn't hurt.

Back to Easter.

As my daughter and I were planning the menu, my MIL called. She'd decided to have Easter dinner after all. I was delighted as it is usually delicious (MIL can cook – when she wants to) and although I offered to bring something, she said with so few of us coming, she could handle it. She mentioned having ham (so far so good)… and making cake for dessert (even better). That's where things went downhill. Silly us… expecting the traditional dinner. Why? Why would we expect the cheesy potatoes and the family strawberry salad and some yummy veg? Why? Because that is what people LIKE. I know my MIL has commented before that she doesn't understand why we always have that strawberry salad. Why? Because people LOVE IT. Besides… "always" having it doesn't mean weekly, or even monthly. More like four times a year (Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4th, and EASTER).

The menu? Lame, I'm sorry to say. It was a meal that I would serve my husband if I'd gotten home at 5:45 and wanted to eat at 6:15. We had ham (so far so good), raisen sauce (mmm), baked potatoes, canned corn, and bagged lettuce salad (not even our family home-made dressing recipe). Cake? Lemon, not chocolate. At least one person doesn't even like lemon.

How simple could she get? I mean… I'm sorry, but that is NOT holiday food. That was the easy road. If we'd known she was going to go for basic and easy, we'd have brought the salad and the potatoes and the dessert! Argh. It wasn't even food that qualified for Sunday Funday. *sigh*

I know, it was the thought that counted. It just seems she didn't put a whole lot of thought into it. Let's just say the supper we had at Applebee's saved Sunday Funday. Next year, Easter is at my house.

Still Here

Yeah, I'm still here. Lucky to get a post a week out, but hate to just give up the ghost and say "on hiatus"… or, even worse, "quitting the blog"…   sooooo I am posting just to let you know that neither of those are happening. Happy?

Been getting back in the swing of working, at least half days. The time change still has me messed up – more so than other times when it has changed. I'm not sure why. When I was at my mom's for that couple of months, my Hubs and daughter managed to get the puppies so they sleep later in the morning. That's part of it. I don't get awakened by quiet woofs at five a.m., so it is easier to sleep later. I suspect as things get busier at work and when the guys get in the field, then I will finally get back on my more normal schedule, but right now I feel like a lazy sack of shit.

Also been working with my mom on my dad's memorial service – or whatever you call it. We are going to have it in mid-April on his birthday. It happens to fall on a Sunday, so it will work out pretty well. We're just keeping it small, about 30 people, just mainly immediate family. I have a cousin who is a minister who is going to say a few words and one of my aunts has been putting together a DVD of pictures that were my grandparents. It should be neat. There is a chance of snow every day this week… hopefully by mid-April the weather will straighten itself out.

I've been (as always) struggling with my weight. I go up and down with the stress and lost about 10 lbs when I had that bad cold. Amazing how little you can eat when you can't taste anything. I've always said I'd be really thin if I hated food! At any rate, I am buying my son and daughter-in-law's treadmill off of them and hopefully will be getting into the swing of things soon. I'm hoping that helps, just to get moving. I'm such a couch potato. I like being outside, but I am challenged by cold-weather asthma if I try to walk in the cold, and a klutz gene which causes me to find any and all rough dips, holes, and other numerous places to fall or turn or sprain ankles when walking on anything but a perfectly smooth surface. So I'm thinking, treadmill is the key. 

If you are still here… thanks for dropping by. One of these days I may actually get back in the swing of things!

St. Pat’s

This St. Pat's day is bittersweet.This was my Dad's holiday.

My Dad was very proud of his true Irish heritage. Our family is one of the ones that really was from Ireland, not just claimed to be Irish on St. Pat's. To Dad, it was a bigger day than Christmas. When he was still in the work force, he would take off not only St. Pat's day, but also the day after… to recouperate. He spent the day celebrating in a small local Irish bar that surely quadripled its size on St. Pat's by putting tents out in the parking lot and having several extra serving areas.

One of my favorite memories of St. Patrick's Day and my dad was about 28 years ago when I was very pregnant with my youngest daughter. My in-laws had been invited to have supper with my parents, but I'm not sure my father remembered when he extended the invitation that it was on St. Pat's… and that they were German and Norwegian. 

Dad was tall. 6'5" tall. When he didn't show up at home (and back before the day of cell-phones), my Hubs and I were sent to find him and bring him home. We walked in the front of the bar and could see his head sticking up above the crowd near the back of the bar. Unfortunately, he saw us as well. Just like a little kid, he turned and walked the other way, parting the crowd as he fled out the back door. By the time we got to the back of the bar (me trying to get through a wall-to-wall crowd with my large tummy), thinking we'd find him standing outside waiting for us, we were surprised to find no sign of him. Tucking back into the back of the bar, we spy my dad… near the front! It became clear… he was avoiding us. 

Just like rounding up a truant kid, we split up and finally cornered him… and we eventually convinced him to come with us. It wasn't without a fight, tho'! He loved the crowds, the drink, the music, the whole thing. He didn't want his fun to end.

My Dad always wanted to go to Ireland. He wanted to go see where his family came from in County Cork. He wanted to submurge himself. He never went. Someday I hope to go to Ireland and take my Dad… spreading his ashes in the land he loved so much.

Big Brother

Something happened recently to some friends of ours that got me a bit riled up. Of course, I'm going to share it… I want to see if I'm just over-reacting or if you agree with me that the people in this situation went way out of bounds in their "job".

We have some friends who had a chocolate lab dog stray show up at their door. It was in fairly tough shape, and they took it in and bathed it, fed it, and took care of it for a few days. Once they got it cleaned up they could tell she'd recently had puppies and she was really dehydrated (my friend is a nurse and recognized the signs). They took good care of her and they were getting attached – as was their small child.

Being good people, they started worrying that there may be someone missing her. They called the animal rescue league to see if anyone had reported her missing. They told then no one had, and ended the conversation.

A few hours later my friend took her child and went to the grocery store. When she returned, she found the animal rescue league people had come to their home and taken the dog! No, my friends had not given them their address – they got it off of their caller ID! No, they didn't TELL the ARL to come get the dog. As a matter of fact, they were thinking they liked her so much they'd keep her if there was no owner to claim her. Did the ARL think to ASK them? No. They just looked up their address, came to their home, and took the dog off their property!

Am I over-reacting to be totally pissed about this? What do you think?

In other happier news… it's Michael's birthday! Happy Birthday, friend!

Where Has the Time Gone?

I swear, it was just Thanksgiving!!

This winter has gone fast… and slow. You know what I mean. I feel some days like I'm going a hundred miles an hour, but failing to get anywhere.

Mom is doing okay. She's more stable than she was, now that she's off the pain meds, and has put her foot down that she will not go back to her medical doctor. The one who noticed the memory and alchohol issues. Go figure. Not sure how that's all going to work out when and if she gets worse, but for now she seems to be doing okay. About a week ago I noticed the wine bottle go back into the frig and it's gone down to nothing, but as long as she's not driving, not on pain pills, and she IS an adult (yes, yes, she is…) I'm just going to ignore it. Having her dog home to take care of has helped. It has been good company for her.

I have finally gotten in some jammie days. Imposed by illness, as it were… but still. A jammie day is a jammie day no matter how you can get it. I had a cold that I fought for a few days last week but think I'm on the mend now.

I even logged into World of Warcraft over the weekend. First time in over a month. That was a shock. Suprised they even remembered me. I am the leader of the guild, but that doesn't mean much if people get a wild hair to leave. I'm just lucky I have such a good supportive group.

I see my comments and traffic around here has slowed way up as well. Sorry. I guess it is hard to hold people's attention when you are as boring as I have been…  for those of you still coming, thank you. I would say it is my New Years' resolution to do better at blogging and visiting others blogs, but hell… it is February and I'm not sure how that would work. I believe the expiration date on resolutions is long past.

On a happy note, today is my youngest son and his brides' one year wedding anniversary. Hard to believe it was only a year ago that I had gotten out of my neck brace from my back surgery and gussied up to go to their wedding. A lot can happen in a year, can't it?

Now, for those of you who are still coming around I have a favor to ask. I don't know how I'm ever going to catch up on your blogs and all I've missed, so why don't you just tell me the highlights of, say, your last six months? Help me catch up that way…? It would be much appreciated and I can feel like I'm not quite so in the dark. Pretty please?

On Being an Only Child

The day I dreaded for years has come. The only child syndrome has expressed itself in new and so un-exciting ways.

Happy New Year.

Since I wrote last my mother has gotten to come home from the hospital (New Year's Day). They put a tube into her lung to let it re-inflate and it has now healed and she's on oxygen for a few weeks. Besides the injury and being on pain medications (let's just say she doesn't have my pain med resistance…) she's a bit worse than usual in the mental department. While in the hospital, her family doctor came to visit. I happened to be there and in the course of the visit he said, "I realize you have been under some stress with your husband and now your own injuries, but when this is over I'd like to talk to someone who has been around you for a bit. I believe we have some memory issues that are ongoing." In the next breath he says, "I also believe there have been some issues with alcohol." My mother then proceeds to get defensive, saying she hasn't drank in two years. Oh, but she's been having a glass of wine in the evening…and she will probably have some when she goes home?

Uh. Hello? Since when is wine not alcohol? …and, no, mother, you can NOT mix wine and pain meds. Then I go home and find five used wine glasses in the dishwasher, a big bottle of wine in the frig almost gone, and another in the cupboard. Needless to say, the open one got dumped.

She is also on oxygen now and we have to carry a tank back and forth to the hospital – or when she travels. If she is just sitting still she doesn't need it, but sleeping and walking around she does. So she also has oxygen at home that they came and set up – it is a converter that takes oxygen out of her home air and it keeps her from having to have a tank at home. Okay. No problem. Except. They asked before we went home if she has a gas stove, etc. No, but she does have a gas fireplace. They say, "Do not turn on the fireplace unless you stay 25 feet away". The livingroom isn't even that big – she'd have to be in the far bedroom to turn it on. So… I say, "We'll just leave it off". The guy comes to the house to set up the oxygen. I ask about it and make sure it is okay to have it off, but if it is okay to have th pilot light on. "Yes, as long as you don't turn it on unless you are 25 feet away."

The fireplace turns on with a light switch. A light switch that is next to the kitchen light. I swear, not 5 minutes after the oxygen guy left, my mother flipped the switch to turn on the fireplace as she was fumbling for the kitchen light. Luckily, I was standing right next to her and threw it off before it could actually go on. I had already mentioned to my husband I was going to tape it down so she wouldn't do that, but I didn't know what switch it was. Needless to say, it got taped down – immediately.

So, now I not only have my father who is still in an unresponsive coma (he is breathing unassisted and did get moved out of the ICU into a room) and who the doctors are now starting to ask about "DNR" orders  – but I have my mother who, silly me, I thought just was annoyingly repetative and forgetful to me, but who as it turns out is evidently bad enough she has caught the eye of her doctor.

I packed my bag and am staying at my mother's for the time being, much to my husband and childrens' dismay. They had a birthday party get-together supper last night for my grandson who turned 11 and I couldn't go because she can't travel that far and she certainly cannot be trusted to be home alone. I was disappointed not to be there, they were disappointed that I wasn't there and my husband goes back and forth between being supportive and grouchy. Can't blame him, but can't change it. Seriously, they've all been terrific. Makes me glad I didn't make any of them "only children"… lol.

I have some extended family coming on Sunday (my father's sister) and we are meeting monday with a rehab facility who specializes in head injury. No idea what the outcome of that will be. Right now I feel like I've got most of the weight of it all on my shoulders. Hopefully we're going to get some insurance stuff figured out and I finally got mom talking about finances today. Babysteps. Bad thing is, Dad did it all… every bit of it. Obviously he's going to be no help figuring it all out. Arggh.

I once more want to thank everyone who has commented on here, on Facebook, or sent me emails. I appreciate it more than you know. It feels so nice to have such good friends – be it in real life or the cyber world. I hope all is going well with you as obviously no time or energy to be checking out your blogs. If anything big happens, please let me know in comments or send me an email. I want to know what I'm missing, even if I don't come look. I may actually get caught up sometime in the near future. I found out the hospital has super-fast wi-fi and my laptop is very happy with it. Now if I ever get my work caught up I may actually find myself reading blogs and WoW-ing from the hospital… Well, I can hope, can't I?

Christmas Eve

Here's hoping you all have a good Christmas!

Sounds like we aren't the only ones who have seen a whole bunch of lousy weather. It is winter, I know, but did it have to be this bad this winter? Guess we don't have much say in it.

Dad still has not regained conciousness. They put in a trachostomy (sp?) tube in his neck a few days ago and also put a feeding plug into his stomach, so they were able to take the feeding tube out of his nose and the ventilator tubes out of his mouth and throat. The past couple of days they've been 'weaning' him off the ventilator. They keep some air flow going, but it is very little – just enough pressure so he doesn't have to work as hard to take a breath. Mostly he is breathing on his own, however. That's the good news. The bad news is, no sign of improvement. My mother keeps grasping at straws and gets her hopes up everytime he barely opens his eyes as they are moving him around, but the doctor still seems to think that is reflex. They did a new CAT scan yesterday with the newest neurosurgeon (they are on a rotation basis at this hospital and we're on our third guy)… he says there has been no change.

A few days ago they also started physical therapy with him, so that's also good. Keep him moving around. They did some tests and right now the only things he responds to (smell, sound, touch, pain)… is pain. Better than nothing, but not great. They've also had him on antibiotics for about four days but he still seems to be spiking fevers, even though they can't really find any infection. Say it just may be his "wiring" all screwed up.

I'm trying to stay optimistic, but isn't easy… especially if I have to be the voice of reason.

The weather has kept me home off an on. Is kind of lousy this morning, but am going to try and go down tonight. My mother-in-law is having her normal Christmas Eve plans tonight, then tomorrow a  couple of my kids are coming for Christmas dinner. Friday night the rest of them are coming for a belated gift -opening and pizza for all the kids who had to go somewhere else on Christmas. I'm hoping the weather allows them all to make it. I realize it could be so much worse – could be one of those people stranded in an airport right now. Ugh.

Didn't want to bum you all out… just keeping you up to date. On a last, happier note. I got a package in the mail night before last. I had just ended a particularily frustrating day with my mother (more later on that) and got home to see this package on the front bench. I looked at the return address, as I do, and saw it was from my friend in Northern California… the pie man. Well, seeing as I had already gotten my pie I couldn't imagine what he was sending. Opening it, I laughed  – first at the "man-wrapping". Wrapping paper taped together with packing tape. I know, I know, it wasn't duct tape, still… it is obvious to any woman that THAT was a man-wrap.  Opening it, I found to my glee a World of Warcraft stuffed talking murloc!! Most of you don't know what that is, but for any WoW person out there, you know. I would link, but am too lazy. You can google it if you want to know. They are creatures that in the game are troublemakers and in my case, kill my character. A lot. We joke on the game that if anything goes wrong in the real world, it must be the murlocs! It made my day. I now have my own personal murloc to torment when things go wrong. What a thoughtful… and fun…. gift. One I will treasure for the laugh it brought on that gloomy day.

On that note, I once again wish you all a Merry Christmas and hope you and yours are warm, safe, in good health, and happy!

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving turned out to be very nice. Despite the cat crying at the door at 3 a.m. (we think she's getting so old she's getting cat dementia – she wants in, then she wants back out again, so we're trying to keep her out.) I usually try and put her in the office at night now so she doesn't do this, because, trust me, it is like clockwork. What is it about animals and their internal time? 

Then, just as I'm going back to sleep, Hub's phone goes off with a text message. His brother is in the field ripping ground and a shank broke. 3:45 a.m. Now I'm awake answering him and telling him I'll pass on the message. Of course, Hubs never hears the phone.

5:30. The puppies are awake now and wanting to go outside. In the cold.

Now, I'm up for good. A last bit of cleaning to do, shower, put on my face, and ready myself for the anticipated family crush. They are supposed to dribble in at 9 a.m. on… when I've been told the parade starts. Okay, the parade ends up starting at 10 a.m. – the "pre"parade starts at 9.

Coffee cake (mine) and mimosas (daughter provides). Nice.

I'm cooking and talking to family and listening to the parade.

Before dinner is ready and when I am at a stopping point, eldest son tells us he has something to show us downstairs on the big-screen TV. We all trapse down and settle and here comes a video he has made of the family from photos he's taken from my stash as well as other family members'. It was soooo neat!! What a nice job he did. He put so much thought into it, from the photos, the music… it was quite touching. He went clear back and put up baby and childhood pics of Hubs and I, all the kids, it was really special. Now he has orders to make copies for everyone.

Dinner went off without a hitch. Sleepy people draped the sofas, and everyone cleared out before it got too late. (Youngest son even had to go to another thanksgiving dinner!) All in all, a very nice day with the family. Mother-in-law and brother -in-law even came and weren't overly annoying!

Hope you and yours had a great day and not too many of you had to brave the crowds yesterday… or, like myself, work.

Now I'm going to try and get the Christmas decorations up this weekend and switch gears to get ready for all the birthdays coming and Christmas which isn't too far away… hardly seems possible. Guess it is just like they say, the older you get the faster time flies! 

Thankful

Hi to all five of you who are still coming around…  

I just wanted to mention a thing or two then you can get on to what you were doing.

Another friend has died. He was 54 years old and had been battling a cancerous tumor for awhile. I guess they thought he was doing better when he got up the other morning, coughed a couple of times and evidently ruptured the tumor or some part of it that was on an artery, causing him to bleed to death.

Then, i was home today making coffee cake, pies, and the turkey for tomorrow and as ususal had the holiday music going. Dan Fogelburg's "Auld Lang Syne" (sp?) came on. I realized once more that he was no longer with us either. He was taken by pancreatic cancer way too young. Such a talent, snuffed out early.

I didn't blog today to bum you out, I'm sorry if I have. I just want you all to remember how short life really can be and to take a few minutes on this Thanksgiving day to truly give thanks for what you have in your life. Not the 'stuff', but the people… the relationships all around you, be it a mere acquaintance or your children or your life partner. It can all be gone in a flash.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone… !