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!

Caturday

Memorial Weekend Musing

Sitting on my front porch, I listen to birds chirp, mowers hum, and the wind chimes adding occasional notes as the breeze stirs them. The routine noises of summer belie the stirring in my heart from the week’s news. Friends post their kids’s last day of school photos as the nation mourns over yet another horrific school shooting. A friend’s son died last week unexpectedly; only 22, “his suffering has ended“ is how she prefaced her social media post about when his memorial service and burial would be held. He was 2020 high school graduate; cheated of a graduation ceremony, and for whatever mysterious reason, now he will not realize his full earthly potential.

I guess when Jesus said “in this world you will have trouble,” he wasn’t kidding. I know growing up my mother always talked about enjoying childhood while I could, because “life is hard as a grown up.” Or, as my now young adult daughters say, “adulting is hard.”

So I sit, savoring simple sounds of life around me. I have no answers for the suffering that abounds these days. I just keep praying for peace. Eventually I suppose we will each have it some way. I am grateful for my loved ones, and I do not take our days for granted.

Stress Flowers and Love

It is hardly surprising that healthcare workers are stressed, no matter what their role. I am not at the bedside directly, but my job is to get patients to beds from emergency room, surgery, or wherever they may happen to come from at our facilities. Recent changes to our leadership and processes have made an already difficult situation even worse. My husband works at the same hospital as a BioMed tech, so he understands the atmosphere of the hospital currently. So when I had texted that yesterday was a most definitely awful Monday, I came home to dinner ready and flowers in the table. With me on 12 hour shifts, he has discovered it is most helpful to have dinner prep done or underway by the time I get home if we want dinner before 9 pm. The one consistent thing in my life since our marriage has been dinner with him after I get home. For 30 years we have called when we get off work and said “I am on my way”, whether we are on time or delayed. But the flowers last night were a special surprise that he doesn’t usually do. Valentine’s Day he typically will buy a live rose plant to replant outside rather than “dead flowers,” as he puts it. Our dining room table is usually a chaotic mess of whatever hasn’t found a home in a drawer, file, or the shred box. Projects that he needs to fix, junk mail, books I am reading or want to read (because if those get to a shelf, they may or may not get read…), you name it, it all lays in a pile that would drive most professional home organizers up the wall. Marie Kondo does not live here, I do.

So as I review emails, texts, and my Lent devotional, and sip my coffee, I gaze at the wonder of pink lilies just opening their buds. These are a gentle reminder that my husband loves me and wants to make me happy. I also am reminded that long ago Jesus said, “…even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:29) as he reminded his disciples that worrying is pointless. So I take comfort that I can try again another day to learn from my mistakes, and do better.

Clingman’s Dome

How to Bounce Back From Failure – Michael Hyatt

I personally believe that it is in times of failure, that the most important lessons are learned. You find the drive within yourself to get back up, to persevere, to keep going. 
— Read on michaelhyatt.com/how-to-bounce-back-from-failure/

Even though this article is written from a “business” perspective , it is also true of health care professionals dealing with the stresses of work. When patients die in spite of the best efforts of the health care team, we view that as failure, because our goal is healing and returning patients to their loved ones whole. Often we cannot accomplish that, and we become filled with self doubt.

Taking care of ourselves is more important than ever. If we don’t, who will?

Lazy Saturday Morning

I watch the sunlight turn my backyard into a green and gold haven while sipping my steaming coffee. Yes, steaming. Summer or not, my morning caffeine jumpstart just isn’t the same unless it is hot and black.

My ginger kitty lounges on the plastic lawn chair after his morning prowl. Our labradoodle sniffs and nudges him with her nose and he lazily swats at her with one huge paw, not lifting his head or moving the rest of his body, except for a slight twitch of his tail. If only I could be as nonchalant at life’s little aggravations. I savor these mornings when I don’t have to race the clock and be somewhere early.

The humidity and heat drive my adventurers inside. Soon Oliver the ginger tussles with one of our 6 month old kittens who insists on attacking him while he is grooming. It reminds me of when Ollie was the active kitten pestering our gray cat to the point that Viper’s once fluffy tail became a raggedy thinned down version of his once proud plume. Now the tables have turned and Oliver is the wizened elder who only wrestled to teach a lesson; but amazingly is gentle in the process, as though aware of his larger size and potential for injury of his smaller counterpart.

The kittens soon race around and around the racetrack that is our kitchen, dining room and living room. Up the cat tree in front of the picture window, down and around the corner to the kitchen, then back to a box in the dining room that needs transferred outside to the recycle pile. One a mini panther, the other a white pawed tuxedo kitty, they scurry and pounce in perpetual motion, Val the labradoodle joining in the raucous chase. Peace and quiet recede, waiting patiently for my return; it is time to get back to my own motion of household tasks.

10 of the Best Ballads in English Literature

10 of the Best Ballads in English Literature

10 of the Best Ballads in English Literature


— Read on interestingliterature.com/2020/06/best-british-border-ballads-poems/

I have always found old literature interesting. These ballads/poems have many versions, but the snippets given here are entertaining.

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.

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