Continuing On

The illness and death of my mother sapped me of creativity. Writing no longer appealed to me. When dementia robbed Mother of her ability to interact, I had no idea what to do for her, other than put on a strong face, smile and nod as she babbled incoherently, or give her a hug on days that she would greet me with “Dad died this morning.” Or whatever statement was pulled from 40, 50 years ago. She constantly relived nightmares that had never been true, and for several months did not even know me as her daughter. I seriously think the death of her sister in law in 2017 triggered a mental breakdown. She had been experiencing memory issues, but her emotional state apparently moved her into another world completely. She refused to believe that C was dead. I constantly heard “what is D doing today? ” That was her deceased brother who’d been married to the woman that died. Mother was constantly reliving her losses in her life, from miscarried babies to my dad to the rest of her family. I never knew for sure how to respond, and her refusal to be involved in church cut off any support there. I didn’t feel I could ask anyone for any kind of prayers as I had previously done. Her pride and constant admonition that “this is no one’s business” even isolated her friends from visiting. I didn’t tell anyone in our social groups about what her real problem was until just before she died. It had gone on much longer than that. My daughters, her only grandchildren, found visiting her difficult as she didn’t recognize them either. I persisted in visiting, even if she called me by the wrong name or introduced me as her sister in law. At that point who I was didn’t matter; at least she felt C cared.

Closure?

Her death in September brought little closure. I no longer was torn by trying to work in time to drive the 18 miles to the nursing home or figuring out where else I could run errands on a side of town I still was not used to. She had prepared me for what to do in the event of her death for 40 years. Having heart issues kept her constantly talking about “when I died”, so that her actual death was almost anticlimactic. My grieving had started long before her last physical breath. I missed being able to just call her and talk. That had been taken from us a year ago when she stopped being able to use a phone. I never quite got whether she couldn’t hear, or couldn’t process what she was hearing, but when she went back to the hospital from the first skilled facility, I took her cell phone home and put it in the drawer, hoping she would maybe rally. After it became clear that her communication abilities had been destroyed, I cancelled her cell phone plan. That action alone felt like I was betraying her. My husband reassured me it was not a betrayal, I was only doing what was necessary. But I could never quite shake the feeling that I was making the wrong decision or not doing things the way she would have wanted. But what she wanted and what had to be became two entirely different things.

Now What?

I am thankful that our daughter and new son are living in Mom’s house. It not only helps me get used to the idea of her not being here, but also is helping them get on their feet financially until college loans are paid. (Shoot…I’m thankful that financially we can keep it for now.) Organization has never been my strong suit. That was always Mom’s job. I shake my head and sigh as I realize just how much stuff she actually had hoarded. Slowly things are being disposed of or given away. With the kids living in her house, it makes having an actual estate sale more challenging. We have a long way to go, but hopefully after I recuperate from my recent back surgery I can refocus my efforts and get things done this summer. Mom would be having a fit I am sure. I can’t seem to get her disapproval out of my head.

Summer Reading Memories

As an only child, books entertained me when there was no one to play with. I enjoyed school because I liked being around others, so summer frequently loomed as interminably long and boring. My parents were frugal, so vacations were every two years or so…if that often. (Quite frankly I only remember two long vacations that were not trips to see family!) But once a week, my mother would take me into Wichita to the Sweetbriar branch of the public library. I would check out at least 4 books, depending on the length. I eagerly anticipated those weekly trips, especially if I had zoomed through all of the books before the week was up. When I had read the ones in my possession, you could find me pulling out the World Book Encyclopedia from our bookcase at home or one of Mom’s Zane Grey westerns. (When she moved from my childhood home, she downsized…but I kept both the Zane Grey books and the yearbooks from the encyclopedia set!)

I didn’t really get an allowance as a youngster. Instead, my mom would pay me a penny for every cigarette butt I picked up in the yard. My parents were both smokers, and we though we lived in the country, our road was busy, so there were always lots of cigarette ends thrown into our ditch by passing vehicles. I saved my money for various things, but one thing I dearly loved was the Cherry Ames series of books about a young woman who went to nursing school and became a nurse. I would hunt for those books at garage sales with my hard-earned pennies. I didn’t get the entire set, but I have many of them and they still reside on my bookshelf. If I ever get around to cleaning out my basement, those books are NOT going anywhere!

Now as as an adult, my reading habits have shifted. Summer is a blur of rearranging work  schedules around other people’s vacation requests and vying for a spot of my own on the vacation roster. With all of the responsibilities on my plate, I have the attention span of a gnat and find sitting and just reading difficult. There always seems to be something needing done, and then there are the distractions of the internet…

I miss the days of just reading…whether it was Cherry Ames’s next adventure in her career, the trials and tribulations of Beautiful Joe (or any other good dog story), holiday traditions in other cultures, or a romantic love story, I could count on books transporting me to another time and place. But all is not lost…I have several historical fiction novels waiting to be read, and one of them is going to get packed for our mini vacation next week…because both of my daughters will be reading as well! So I managed to do SOMETHING right after all!

A Needed Break

I needed a break in my routine. I felt cynicism and negativity creeping in and taking root. It took me a couple days to settle in and give my mind …

A Needed Break

I can so relate to this post! Feeling very pinched right now in my own work. Needed some words of wisdom and guidance myself.

To God Be the Glory

www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/39

This is one of my favorite hymns. I enjoy modern praise music, but every once in a while I just want to hear one of the hymns I grew up singing. I was reading Psalm 96 this morning and the chorus from this song kept ringing through my head. Could not go upstairs and play it myself at the moment because daughter is on a conference call with her work.

We hear enough negativity every day in the news. A friend posted a video this morning talking about being grateful for regaining strength enough to walk to her living room couch today after being sick for NINE WEEKS. With COVID. She has been either in bed at home or in the hospital twice during that period of time. She has a long recuperation ahead of her. But today she sounded MUCH better than in previous weeks when she could barely talk without gasping for breath. And she is thankful.

A blessing indeed in the midst of all the diatribes I see daily.

What is Knowledge?

Recent events and changes have made one thing clear.

I am not an expert in anything. Seniority means nothing. And if something happens in the near future, this place will go on without me as if I never existed.

So really, what is knowledge? Just a farcical way of making us believe we really have any influence. It changes with time, people, circumstances, and whims. I am learning to reserve my opinion the hard way. It is a lesson long in coming.

My daughters make decisions based on their perceptions of what fits. To those in our church, we have failed in our faith-based upbringing of our girls. But seeds were planted. They have chosen helping careers and I still suspect that God had a hand in that. They have not totally denied their faith, but they continually question why those who claim to be “faithful” act otherwise. They are realistic in their approach to dealing with brokenness in families. This, in itself, is knowledge in action.

So I carry on and adjust my sails. I kneel in prayer and search for direction. Like Peter who began sinking when he stepped out of the boat, fear threatens to drag me down. But I hang on, gripping the invisible hand that continues to guide me. He has guided me before, and when all else is gone, my faith in God’s knowledge is all I have left.

Sunny with Storms Forecast

During the upheaval of the novel coronavirus’s march across continents , much has changed in the last week here in the Midwest. People rant on social media about decisions they disagree with, and about the yahoos who hoard toilet paper (of all things!) and necessary items like baby formula and diapers and wipes (really??? Some people would like to still feed their babies!!)

Meanwhile I am ruminating. Much as I would love to work from home, that is not an option at this time. Hospital employees don’t get that option. Well, some in office jobs do. But even though my job is “desk based” as an RN in a call/transfer center, the expense of running special lines for computer and phones for staff to be home based is out of the question. Right now my area is not experiencing high rates of coronavirus, but that is about to change soon I am sure. Especially as people disregard regulations and travel anyway.

So, on this day off, I am enjoying the lack of need to be somewhere at a certain time. That will change I am sure in the next few weeks. Journaling is usually something I keep to myself, but I felt the need to share what I scribbled earlier today.

Coronavirus has suddenly changed how we do things-but to be honest, I have long thought “whatever happened to quarantining people?” Influenza rates have been high regardless of vaccination rates. I am not a statistician, so will not purport to quote numbers here. But as society became more group oriented and vaccines controlled or eradicated communicable diseases, we have become falsely lulled into a sense of security and well being—invincibility, if you will. The virus may be a tool the devil uses to his advantage, but God is allowing it to occur because humans need to recognize they are not the ones in control. Never have been. God gives talent to people to work through these things, but they didn’t get it on their own. Nonbelievers in God will continue the drum beat of “How can you believe in a God who allows such things to happen?” As a believer in God, my answer is “How can we not believe?” To think we suffer through calamities for nothing? God will win in the end. We already know things happen in this world and our lives will end. I choose to hang on to the belief that no matter what, there is a hereafter and it will be far better than anything we currently know or understand.

(Photo of my backyard view .)

I find peace for the moment knowing that a storm is still coming. There is much work to be done. But for now I will enjoy my view.

Sage Advice

How I wish I had this 3 years ago!

I found this article after reading a physician’s post on Twitter raging about the poor state of our healthcare system while navigating (or trying to navigate) said system during his father’s current hospitalization. Scrolling through posts I found this author’s comment; she is interested in speaking directly with the gentleman as this is her speciality. I have tried desperately to separate myself from all this since my mother’s passing. But I still struggle with my own questions. I think the saddest statement in this article is that the researchers involved did not want their names posted because the research activity is “outside of their regular jobs.”

WHY IS THE SYSYEM NOT DOING THIS KIND OF RESEARCH AND ENCOURAGING THEIR EMPLOYEES TO IMPROVE IT?!?

So. I am reposting the article here and plan on following the subject , not because I think I can change anything, but maybe, just maybe I can help friends who are facing the same issues.

https://kaiserhealthnews.wordpress.com/news/researchers-seek-sage-advice-of-elders-on-aging-issues/

Sweet Moment

via Sweet Moment

My own eyes “nearly leaked” when I read this. I have two daughters as well, and our oldest is getting married in a month. The details are nearly overwhelming. But I need to remember to savor these moments as we prepare for this event. The loss of my mother in September has complicated my emotional state. My girls and my husband have been my rocks. But I want to be the strong one…yeah right. Who am I kidding! I pray I get through this without having a major breakdown.

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