Sunday, October 24, 2010

Defining Moments In Time

We’ve all experienced moments that have changed our lives, the big ones like getting married and having a baby and other monumental events that change our lives forever, well just till we die.  Today I don’t want to talk about obvious defining moments I am thinking of moments that sneak up on you and you may or may not know they are defining moments.  

I can honestly say I haven’t ever rushed into a burning building to rescue someone or even push someone out of the way of an oncoming bus.  Ok I can’t say I have done anything remotely like that and for the most part I am the most boring average person you will ever meet.  So my defining moments are those that have that have changed me in a way that changes the way I see the world or react to situations in a drastically different way or even helped me to understand where others point of view.  I have had occasion to realize one of those moments which when it occurred I didn’t see it for what it was I had to do a lot of processing and I do mean a few years of processing to get to the place I am now.  Funny how unless something is tested we aren’t even sure that a change has taken place.  I’m sure you will understand more after this story which by the way is true to the best of my recollection.  

Go back a few Thanksgivings….. I’m not sure of the year but I am sure of the event.  My Dad calls and says Mom is running a temperature and will be taking her to Greenville’s ER, now this is about a week after a “sludge removal” procedure done in at UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh.  Yes “sludge removal” was the ohh so technical term for an ERCP which for the life of me I can’t remember what each letter stands for but it was to remove sludge from the common bile duct.  A common complication this procedure  is pancreatitis, which is terribly painful but easily treated with no food for 2 to 3 days just IV fluids then clear liquids then soft food and you are good to go.  The other complication is where the bile duct, stomach or small intestine gets ruptured which causes sepsis that can lead to death at the worst and at best the shutdown of organs temporarily, been there done that with Mom, wasn’t a good time, but that is a whole other story.  This didn’t scare me much because I figured it was the pancreatitis and not sepsis so I knew it wasn’t overly life threatening so I told Dad that I would be down as soon as I could.  In the meantime they decided that since the procedure was done in Pittsburg they weren’t going to mess with admitting her there and send her right down where the procedure was first done, Joyce I do believe was with him and so I wasn’t worried.

The next day was Thanksgiving and by late evening everyone knew about Mom being down in Pittsburgh and the last time she was there she ended up on life support.  Anyhow… I decided that they shouldn’t be down there alone on the holiday so I was going to go down in the morning and for the most part the rest of the family would straggle down at some point being a holiday and all.  So I packed up Daddy a plate of dinner but before I could get out of here Joyce called and said Sue was panicked and she was too afraid to drive in the city but wanted to go ASAP.  I was like,,, inner groan… yeah so I called her and she wanted to go and being the nice sister I am I picked her up and took her. 

Things between have been rather stressed between us to put it mildly, and for years I have been trying to get my older siblings to like me and want to do stuff with me, but for the most part they weren’t having any of it.  So the ride down went OK but I felt a very large pink elephant sitting in the back seat the whole 2 hour drive but we chatted about nothing to pass the time.  The visit went well and it was just as I expected and Mom was already on the mend.  

Here is where the defining moments come in to play, on the way home that very large elephant would not be ignored any longer. Finally at one point Sue asks me, “What do you want from me?”  I answered with “I want you to love me like a sister.”  Then the moment came and with crashing reality my sister said to me, “but I have never thought of you as a sister.”  I was dumbstruck.  What do you say to that!  So I cried, and tried not to cry but failed as I finished the drive home with her telling me about how Mom wasn’t there for her and wasn’t a real grandma to her kids and so on and so forth then she went on to explain that I worried too much about having friends and I needed to learn to only need my family (husband and kids) and not worry about the rest.  Well needless to say I was so hurt I had idolized her my whole life!  So I dropped her at her house and come home, one hurt and rejected piece of a person.  More or less she didn’t think of me as a sister and didn’t need/want any more friends.  That ride back from Pittsburgh was one of the most defining times of my life concerning my siblings. 
I have always wanted to be loved and accepted by my older siblings and I do mean older Pat is 22 yrs. my sr., she is the oldest and moved out before I was born, and the youngest of the older 4 is 14 yrs. my sr.  We three younger kids who were raised together are really close, but they are more accepted by the older ones, but me nope! 
Fast forward to a bit over 2 weeks ago, Mom is dying in the hospital and all 7 of us kids are coming to spend time with her.  Pat flies in from WA and we are keeping someone there with Daddy all the time.  Well, I always knew I had screwy issues with my siblings but not with my parents I was very close to my Mom.  We spent a lot of time together over the years so I have no regrets and nothing that has went unsaid and I realized that Mom loved me and did the very best she could while raising me, that is all a child can ask in my opinion.  Apparently Sue who from that fateful night had her own demons concerning Mom but she was very quiet about it.  I know she had trouble with it but I tried to comfort her.  Pat on the other hand just had man demons and when she was helping the hospice nurse give her a bath Mom called asked for me, which really kicked her jealousy into overdrive since it was her fault I wasn’t there. Earlier she has literally dragged me from the room like a misbehaving little child and then chastised me. She must have missed the memo that I was now 44 and not 4!  I was upset and needed to go blow off some steam and talk myself out of doing bodily harm!  Just as I was hurry out to leave Joyce pulled us aside to ask about Mom’s obituary when I went to leave I told Joyce I trusted that whatever it was she did would be perfect and I said bye and turned to go, well not sure what happened, but the next thing I know Pat said “I love you” and I must have had a look on my face because she gave me that mommy look that says you are in big trouble and put her finger to lips like to shush me!  I have no idea what that was about but I turned and left.  Sorry it has taken so long to get to here, but another defining moment is coming right up! 

As I was driving home (I had an hour) I realized that I no longer wanted or needed my older siblings to either like me or acknowledge me, and that Sue wasn’t trying to be hurtful or malicious she was just being honest with her feelings and while it hurt me horribly I am glad she didn’t lie to me she just told me how it was.  When Pat told me she loved me the only thing I could think of was, what??  You don’t even know me and pretty much have thought and said not so nice things about me behind my back.  At this point I realized that when Sue was honest and I was hurt it was what I needed to let go of lots of issues I had and to allow others to claim their own and be responsible for them.  I felt sorry for Sue, even though she knew Mom at a different time in her life than I did and has so many issues she was losing her mom too, while I was hurting because I was losing a person who was a big part of my everyday life I had no regrets and it was OK for me to let her go.  I had a harder time coming up with sympathy for Pat who at a few different times that week yelled at me and was less than civil to me but I do forgive her mostly because she is so filled with emotions such as regret, guilt, and even though I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would be jealous of me but yes I do think she was carrying some of that too.  I hope that both my sister’s can overcome their ‘demons’ and remember the love that our mom had for them, she wasn’t perfect but she loved us with every fiber of her being.  

So one defining moment a few years ago lead to another one, and because of that first one I found a sense of peace.  I was able to hold my tongue and still be nice to Pat even though she was something of a shrew to me a few times. I do pray for both of them. 
Not all defining moments are monumental some aren’t even recognizable for what they are till you can realize the impact they have had on you.  I can now lay to rest all the issues I have with my older siblings and know I am good person and I’m less screwed up than I thought I was.  I don’t need their approval or even their friendship if they aren’t offering it.  Now all I have to do is not get irritated at the stupid things they say!  That I doubt will ever change. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

How Are You?

I’m sure you noticed that people often ask you when something has happened in your life, “How are you doing?”  I haven’t figured out how to respond to this question yet.  “How are you?” used to be just a benign question that no one really wanted a sincere answer to, but it has taken on more feeling and meaning since Mom died and I don’t know how to answer it. 

I used to say “Ohhh I’m just wonderful and you?”  That just doesn’t cut it; they look at me with a worried expression, like I’m not dealing or something.  I’m dealing just fine, I think,,, but saying that is awkward and not an expected answer.  So what do you say when some asks??  Are they being concerned for my emotional welfare and wanting to know exactly how I am doing or are they just really asking “how are you?”  as a greeting and not really knowing anything has gone on that would make me other than “wonderful?”  

I never really thought I would have this much trouble answering such a simple question,,, really there is only 2 answers that apply, I am Ok or I am not Ok.  I guess if I started answering with I’m  not OK people would then become concerned that something is really wrong but then again if I answer I’m OK then do they get concerned that I’m just saying that when I’m not really OK.  

I’m also wondering here this morning how long this goes on?  When will “wonderful” be an excepted answer to this question whether it is asked out of concern or just a greeting?  

I guess I’m in that whole 2 yr old mentality of asking “Why” this morning.  I really want to get back to writing on a regular basis and this is a good reason to I do believe, however I don’t want to go back to mundane “Yep, this is what I’m doing today.”  I want to sharpen my skills and write using words not heard in normal conversation or basic text.  I was think I wanted to write either thought provoking passages or interesting content but unfortunately I need to read great works to get back to writing like a writer not just someone who puts words on the paper.  

This was inspired by Kayla who is re-submitting her grad school applications and needed help with her essays.  She would write them and I would help with the grammar and vocabulary.  It was fun, well it would have been more fun however had I had the time to concentrate and enjoy it, but that was during the 10 days while Mom was in the hospital which now seems something of a blur.  Nonetheless I am going to try some writing exercises if I can find any online and see if I can’t push myself beyond the same old same old.  

Amazingly enough it has only taken me all day to write this.  Ok so I worked and had dinner and enjoyed some goofing off fun with Don and Kay!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mourning is a funny thing...

If you haven't heard by now my Mom had a New Beginning in Heaven on Oct. 7.  It has been a long summer with her knee becoming so inflamed and painful she couldn't walk on it and those idiots at the ER didn't even bother to try and drain it so mom suffered with that for just over 2 months when on Monday Sept. 27 she had some sort of heart or stroke event which prompted Dad to call 911.  They wanted to admit her because the enzymes were indicating a heart attack on the horizon but they had to transfer her to another hospital for monitoring because they had no open beds.  As she was getting ready to go her BP dropped out and her HR went sky high they gave her medicine to bring it back in line and then transferred her.  Of course all of us kids went to the hospital immediately and by that time Dad had made the decision that only comfort measures be given.  He had a hard time with this and I'm glad we were there to support him.  He had already been up for over a day with only cat naps as he does.  The next 10 days were really rough like a roller coaster.  By Tue evening Mom was able to make sense again with her words, earlier in the day she had thoughts but the right words weren't coming out of her mouth so being able to talk again was a great improvement.  Wed. morning dawned grey but Mom was much much better to the point where she could eat and although I fed her some or her breakfast she ate the rest of it.  Dad had gotten some sleep in the reclining chair but I really just couldn't sleep so I held Mom's hand and thought of the good times and how tired I was... LOL but Wed. was a good day and my sister from WA had flown in the in the early morning and got there about 11.  I stayed with them till late afternoon then needed to come home and get some rest. 

Since Mom was doing so well I assumed, and we all know what that makes out of you and me.... that Pat was going to spend some time with Mom and Dad  but she didn't and I was furious when I found out Dad spend the whole day alone until evening when Jill and Jack and Sam went down.  Daddy sounded so tired and worn out when I called Thurs. evening and then didn't sound much better when I called in the morning that I canceled my Friday appts. on my book and took off for the hospital. I spent the most wonderful day with my parents that day and was sorry I couldn't have spent the day before with them but I thought Pat would want to spend some time alone with Mom while she was doing better.  But it was a wonderful day and I enjoyed my parents then very much!

Kay went with me on Sat. morning and she got to see her gram when she would look over at her and smile with recognition we made a game of her eating, which she really didn't want to do, but I would say "ohh one more bite,,, it will make Kayla happy...."  and she would look over at Kayla and she would say "YAY Grandma"  Mom would smile and take another bite.  Most of the other kids were in that day to spend time with them.  It was good because Mom knew us and enjoyed seeing us, and I think in her own way she was trying to connect because she knew it was getting close to the end.

She continued to decline through the next few days, still being semi lucid at times enough to recognize us and ask for us.  I helped the Hospice nurse when they started Monday to bath her a couple times and we were trying to keep her as comfortable as possible.  We kids took turns staying with Daddy so he wouldn't be alone. 

On Wed Dad and Joyce when to make the funeral arrangements, it was good to get Dad out of the hospital but I think it was hard for him to do it.  He didn't want anything no personal stuff sitting around like photos or anything  nothing not even a slide show,, with calling hours just an hour and a half before the funeral mass at the church. 

I think that was the hardest day for my Dad and I wish I could  have shouldered his pain that day, I'm glad Joyce was there to help with all of it.  She did a great job.  I will forever be thankful to her.

I was there most of the day on Wed. with Pat which was a horrible day she just has soooo many demons of her own that she took it out on me more than once that week.  I hope someday she can rid herself of them.  I've been told many times that she is jealous of me which I find totally preposterous I am nothing special to be jealous of.   I had learned one thing though at a young age which some never learn and some learn much later in life and that is to live without regrets.  I make choices based on that one thing.  When the kids were little and I was debating as to let them go in cars with other people I thought about that.  It did make me a more cautious parent I do believe, but if something had happened I wouldn't have had the guilt of "why didn't I" and I applied this to all other aspects of my life too, especially when it came to my parents getting older, and I worried about them and loved spending time with them so it was a good thing all around. 

Mom and I had talked about her quality of life, or lack there of, and how she wanted to do things but her body just wouldn't cooperate, and then as the years went on she got to the point where even her mind didn't want to do anything but sit and watch TV.  She told me she wished they wouldn't have brought her back when she was on the respirator the last time.  So I knew she was OK with it and told her that I would be OK if she were to go.  When I think back those were some of the best times with Mom and that drive let us talk a lot about life and my kids and her relationships and such.  So I have no regrets as to my Mom passing I am having a bit of sadness and missing her just this past day or two but it is OK and I'll be just fine as we all will.

Now on to the "funny" thing about mourning,,,, it is a sneaky thing; things will be going just fine and it sneaks up on you and wham there ya go just blubbering for no apparent reason. It also provokes people to do things differently that they normally would because of a feeling or an experience. Which is a good thing most of the time unless one lets a bitterness seep in and take them over.  I pray that none of us ever have to feel that. 

I know this sounds so analytical but that is how I usually try to think of things in that way when they are too close to my heart.  Speaking of which (I sell Close To My Heart scrapbooking stuff) I plan to make a nice memory album in memory of Mom. 

So I'm sure that as time goes on I will cling to the good memories and that will only bring me continued joy.  So mourning is a funny thing.