See y’all in a couple weeks….

The latest report from mom is that grandma is still in the hospital getting IV antibiotics for presumed pneumonia so the plan will be for me to stay at grandma’s apartment to either be the family member hanging out at the hospital or to take care of her at home and give mom a break. I have to remember NOT to be the annoying psycho family member while I am at the hospital. When you are an RN, and a family member or friend is in the hospital you tend to be overly protective. The report from mom is that the nursing care has been alright, she has somehow missed the doctor and the social worker and the physiotherapist have been rather patronizing. This may not be an accurate perception but one laced with the stress and anxiety. In my job as a night supervisor, I often consult with social workers on the phone. Frankly, I do their job for them when social issues arise at night including when a patient passes. I do not have a favorable view of the behavior medicine staff at my institution. They tend to either be patronizing toward me, dismissive, or they more or less tell me they can’t do anything which in their defense is often true. My only crisis/intervention training has been my gut instinct.

This won’t be a “fun” visit, my poor grandmother will be fatigued and she is oh so fail though relatively mentally intact. It might be the last time I spend with her when she is not in a nursing home or gone to the big calico couch in the sky and I find myself already engaging in anticipatory grieving. There are possible unpleasant encounters with an aunt and uncle and some disappointed friends I may not see. I am hoping to squeeze in a visit to a local butterfly conservatory that I adore and take a few pictures with my less than fantastic “back up” camera since the other one went to mother Nikon to be repaired. I am aware I may return stressed out and sad. My dogs and cats who provide me with love and distraction won’t be there to make me smile. My poor mother is trying to remain on an even keel even as she fights sadness.

I am running around trying to do laundry and figured out what to take. I will probably be up late but I can sleep on the plane. I hope I am not in a middle seat stuck between tall people. Yesterday I had a dream after reading a book about Julia Child, that she was a customs agent who wouldn’t let me back into the US because I forgot my passport. My luggage always gets randomly searched and customs on both sides of the border are generally surly.

I can’t help but ask what will happen when my mother declines. I live a plane ride away and I am an only child. I have attempted to raise this issue with mom multiple times. She claims she will know when it is time to give up her house and 65 acres but i know differently. She won’t. I know my family. We are independent, we don’t take advice from one another well. Denial is a mode of communication. I made an effort to get my mother to downsize to a small house or condo and she said would end up killing herself. When I expressed a fear that she would have an accident while outside and die unable to get help, cell phones don’t work out there and she lives alone, she said she thought was was a good way to go. I don’t actually disagree. But it isn’t nice.

Most of my friends and family members think the place is too big for her and she can’t manage the property without help, and they are right, she can’t. But she is a free agent she earned this right to live and ultimately die as she choses with years of work and sacrifice. I can’t patronize her even if I want to. What I think is best directly contrasts with her idea of what her life should be. She decides. I don’t. Adults have the freedom to be foolish to make the wrong decisions. In our hyper consumerist life that will likely crumble dramatically in my lifetime we have the illusion of choice without actual choice. How we live our lives, safely, recklessly, stupidly, wisely, with joy, with anger, is one of the few freedoms we have left.

So here I am ruminating, doing laundry, staying up late till who knows when even though my flight is in the morning, trying to make sense of circles I was not ultimately intended to truly understand.


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  1. and brotherhood/sisterhood and all that other worldly stuff.

  2. Photobucket

    • nocatz on January 16, 2008 at 6:03 am
  3. deep breaths, sweetie.  

    what about those life-alert, ‘ive fallen and i cant get up’ necklaces…do they have those out by your mom?  or a satellite phone instead of a cellular??

    i know from worry, sister.  but i also know it never fixed anything…

    oh, and by the way…im NOT an only child-i have 3 brothers.  and i know from my mother’s 3 instances of foot-breaking and my dad’s aortic aneurysm (sp??) and subsequent open-heart surgery that they are USELESS!!  i even dropped my dad in the street once when he got too tired…and still i couldnt get my brothers to come and help.  im close to my mother (next door, in fact!!), yet still i worry…

    peace, and happy travels!!  let me know how ugly cherry’s jacket is on hnic, eh?

  4. unique self. You are an amazing woman and a menshe, I bet your whole mother knows this. It’s hard but she deserves her own autonomy, respect and especially how to go. I keep telling my children that I wish to wander off and die in nature as the indignities of our so called health care are really if nothing else undignified and inhumane. Why would I wish to die in this system which has no concept of life?        

    • Alma on January 16, 2008 at 6:39 am

    sending good, peaceful, vibes your way.  Take care and just think of some of the loving fun here if you feel yourself starting to go. You can do the Docudharma Ohm.

  5. Really… I would even detain me for this picture….

  6. Makes the time pass faster.

    Unless you like chatting with your seatmates, I find that kind of awkward.

    I’ll miss you will you’re gone.

    • Edger on January 16, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed

    Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed

    Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need

    I say love, it is a flower, and you, its only seed

    Take care…..

  7. It helps to keep the spirits up…

    • OPOL on January 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    We’ll be thinking of you.  Blessings.

  8. Stay well and drop back in when/if you can!

  9. …take care…

    …butterfly pictures would be nice…

    • RiaD on January 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    but large wishes for an uneventful journey & peaceful visit with gram.


  10. ucc, I am sure that you will recieve the blessings and support of those of us who are coming to this thread after you have flown. Please add the beating of my heart and the warmth of my arms to those that have preceeded me.

    Be well and be at peace.

  11. Take good care of yourself.  All will be known in due time 😉

    • Valtin on January 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I’m sure you know that caregivers are often the last to do that. My best to you and your family. You will be missed, I’m sure, around here.

  12. May all your memories of your grandmother be watercolor moments…of all the good times…that stay in your heart forever.

    Take care of yourself and know you are cared for by many. Hugs are here in virtual space and real life any time you need them.

    Blessed Be.

    • pfiore8 on January 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    take care undercovercalico… take care.  

  13. working in treatment centers social workers are generally so overworked that they cannot be counted on. Their caseloads are usually two or three times of what they should be and the system they work is is extremely dysfunctional. I am not sure how this would apply to your grandmother’s situation but I think in general social workers and the social service system should be avoided as much as possible. My wife has an MSW and fully agrees.

    Best wishes to you and yours in this time.  

  14. Taking care of someone is easy, I think, compared to the emotions connected to the situation.

    You will SHINE!

  15. as a mother and a grandmother and a daughter I would like to add my musings on the manner of our passing.  My mother’s beloved second husband, my stepfather   died when she was 74 years old, the same age i am now.  They had a wonderful life retired and had been living peacefully in warm sunny Cyprus in the mediterranean (something many British retired people did) for twenty years. She lived alone for a year, she had a large support system of friends, she had two proposals of marriage, she wanted to move out of her large house and buy a small flat in the little fishing town of Kyrenia. My brother persuaded her to sell and move back to England to a small bungalow near him.  She succumbed to this please him, his motives in my mind were selfish, he didn’t want to have to go   to the island to visit her every year, he preferred to take his holidays in France, basically he wanted her antique furniture. She wanted to please her son. This is not nearly as coldblooded and selfish as it seems. She would be near her grandchildren and they could all take care of her. But as they all had lives they came to see the visits as more of a chore than a true pleasure.  Just because we are ol;d doesn’t mean we don’t know what a pain in the arse it is.  She absolutely hated it, it was freezing and wet.

    After a year she basically became housebound, never walked anywhere and lived for another six years, vegetating and lonely.  She basically stopped eating and died of a ruptured colon.  I went to spend her last days with her and my first grandson was born 2 weeks after she died (I was in America). She told me she would pass him in the passage and tell him she would have loved him.

    My stepmother lived alone (my father died when i was 18 and she never re-married) in a large flat in England. My three  brothers who all lived close by, only one was married, the other was divorced and his family lived in Aistralia. They all persuaded her that it was time to move into a small flat. She did aged 74, my age today.  She lived as happy as a clam. She  visited her step-grandchildren in Australia aged 88.  She celebrated her 90th birthday, the grand matriarch of an large extended family, her two sisters lived close by, one older and one a few years younger.  The national health sent in ‘helpers’ every day if she needed assistance. She was independent.

    Eventually at aged 91 my brothers persuaded her to go into a ‘home’, a nice home, run by her daughter in laws sister.  It was about fifty miles from all her friends  and support system. The borthers all went  duitfully to visit once a week and grumbled about having to do so.  The flat was sold, the money repaid to my oldest brother who had taken out the mortgage, and he wanted it back. He didn’t have much of a life so I certainly don’t blame him for that and she was an extremely demanding woman. She absolutely hated it at the home and a year after she went in it was sold to a chain and went downhill rapidly.  Two years after that she insisted on moving back to the town she had lived in for thirty years but by now all her friends were all either in homes themselves or passed on.  She went into a steep decline, had a stroke, turned her face to the wall and died aged 94.  

    I think about my own plans sometimes and have been very efficient about living wills, estate trusts etc, preferring to leave what I have to help my three grandchildren’s education than give it to the government to take care of me.  I have a house that has a spare room that I could have someone living in to take care of me if i need help, obviously not if I am terminal but having made every effort to have the maximum choices if i do become incapacitated, refusing all support systems to keep me alive, I trust that will be a relatively short period of time.  It is an absolute fact that a single catastrophic event can bankrupt one medically within a couple of months. I hope I have protected mysaelf and my family to the maximum possible.

    It is for this reason that I lobby violently for the health system to allow home care for seniors and the disabled. A much more sensible and cheaper manner in which to assist in the transition period.

    I feel for everyone trapped in this no man’s land of the room with no exit.  If it all fails i plan on using the plot of the movie whose name i can’t remeber with the young man (Bud Cort) and the old woman (Ruth?)who went over the cliff a la Thelma and Louise (I won’t take the young man with me, don’t worry). Or if that doesn’t work my son has power of attorney to find me a nice shack on a beach in Mexico or Costa Rica, or maybe I’ll just go and die on the slopes of Everest.    The greates gift we can give our families as we age is to remain independent as long as possible. The greatest gift our families can give us is to allow us to make our own decisions, even if it more convenient to respect theirs.

    Love and peace to you all.

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