Thursday, June 27, 2013

Starting to Transition

Everything is a process.  Only in the movies does a Bone Marrow transplant happen overnight.  I remember an episode from Greys Anatomy where Izzie's child comes in, has leukemia and they harvest Izzies bone marrow and she leaves the hospital in the course of an episode.  Oh, the holes I could drive tanks through on this one...

I could write a diatriabe about matching and the problems with half matches... fact it takes weeks to get the body ready, the stay in the hospital is months....  but I won't.  I will focus on transitions.

I head home on Sunday.  We are going to a shower in Tacoma.  Monday is a long SCCA day and lots of appointmens are scheduled.  This is the big:  Can we start the taper again appointment.  I have been loathed to think about it but bits of the knowledge it is coming up is bugging me. 

I am in Eugene and cann't think about it yet.  It seeps into my sleep.  We go to appointmtnes and they don't know who we are and then they don't give us results and then we wander around and end up in the Red Room of the White House and then I am getting married but I can't find the groom after the ceremony and the hill we climb has a gang with knives and guns and we walk up to them and scream at them to leave us alone and then we find three big dogs....

Don't ask.  No more Snickers for me before bed!!!!!

We are gently moving mom towards her move.  I am pushing MEB to her return to college.  I am working on my resume and looking at Job postings.  We are all in the midst of new and exciting things. 

I need a few days at home.  I need some time in back yard with my fountain and the dog and some quiet long nights of the wonder that is Seattle summers.  Those things that we love help us take the next steps. 

What ever they might lead us....
 Mom when she graduated from highschool  She is the one with the long skirt. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Things that go Bang in the night...

Sleep, Sleep, deep sleep.  Awake!!!! Has that ever happened to you?  A noise, brings from deep deep dreams.  A noise a feeling something that is not quiet right. Some thing desturbing. 

Leap out of bed, open the door.  There is mom.  Alert, sitting on the floor, walker asque, leaning up against the book case. 

Are you all right Mom?

Yes I am fine.  I just seemed to have tipped over. 

Do you hurt?

Noooo, I am just fine.

Let me think about how we are going to do this.  Let me first find a chair I can put you in when we get you up. 

Mary-Elizabeth Grandma fell, we need to get her back on her feet.
Mom don't move.  We have to protect your hip.  You can not twist it, or use it to push yourself up. We are going to lift you and put you in this chair.

Mom, I am going to lift Grandma and you slide the chair under her.   One two three....

Mom do you hurt? How is your hip? How did this happen? What do you think caused this? Do you need to go see the doctor. 

I just went down and I certainly don't need to wake any doctor for something so silly.  Help me back to bed.  Don't bother anyone.  I am just fine. 

It was not until later that it really scared me.  There are so many things that could have happened and didn't.  I am the great believer in managed expectations.  I need to know the worst and work back from there.  I don't need to be surprised and caught unawares.  I like to learn from my experiences and anticipate what is going to happen next and if it did, how it would be handled. 

In this case, Mom is simply not allowed to fall again.  Her couch is getting delivered to her not apartment and she needs to be ready to move there.  She has bridge games to play and great meals to eat and peeps to meet.

No time for falling and complications and all that nonsense.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Family and Connections

We have always had an odd family.  Dad was the baby.  My Grandmother had him when she was 45 years old.  Quite a feat in the 1930's.  I understand she was sure she would soon die and he was raised by his sister to some extent.  As the youngest, he was so very very out of the infighting between the older brothers.  I am not sure of the history of all of that but there were bad feelings and broken relationships. 

As the eldest of the youngest, I knew everyone and was oblivious to the problems between the siblings for years.  Over the years of have picked up bits and pieces but don't really know the whole story. Not that it needs to be told. 

What I did know was that there was a bevy of wonderful older cousins that loved me. My oldest cousin is in her 70's and the others are headed that direction.  Because Dad was 15 years younger then his oldest brother, Little cousin Sally was a great play thing.  I have wonderful memories of time with the "old" cousins.  The younger bunch missed out on lots of time with Grandma and Grandpa.  Our grandparents were always feeble and a bit batty.  Grandma smelled funny to me but she had wonderful soft skin.  She had really really big holes in her ear lobes that scared me.  I asked Dad about them and he told me she had warn heavy earrings and that was why.  To this day I fear dangly earrings.   She did always read me Peter Rabbit.  A story I still love to have read to me.

As I have been digging, I was fortunate to uncover some pretty special things.  One of them being this picture. It is of Cousin Cathy, Judd and maybe Susan.  I hope they remember it and have seen it and can tell me more about it.  Where were they, what was the occasion? The usual.

While we are moving forward in our lives and facing our own "stuff".  It is amazing how much a small photo, found in an old box of letters and pieces of paper can reveal a moment.  A connection to a long lost past.  Not a huge moment, but a significant moment.  A time of joy, childhood, a time in the past when things were just about family filled afternoons.

I fully expect my cousins to let me know what these pictures are all about.  

Love you guys.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trips to the past...

We have to start writing letters. We have to start keeping journals. We have to start saving old dusty bits of paper.

Some how Grandma Foster was able to keep letters and notes and cards together.  They were in a dusty old box of no real import.  It is quiet an assortment of stuff. But every single little bit is treasure.  A moment in time recited on fading paper with scratchy ink.

I have only read a few, skimmed alot and know it is a treasure chest.  They need to be sorted and copied and preserved. They tell stories of adventures about little parts of every day lives.  Bus trips from Oklahoma City in 1920.  Senior proms and dresses remade.  They are full of menu suggestions, Fried Chicken.... Mashed Potatoes.... Salad made from canned summer foods.

Write a letter to someone you love and know and share something mundane.


Just saying.

Sandwich Generation

Sometimes I wonder where the names come from that work their ways into our lives.  One hears the word and then wonders when and whence it comes from. (never end a sentence with a preposition).

The middle part of the sandwich has been around a long long time.  It is anyone that has parents and child
ren.  I figured I had escaped being in the middle because Mary-Elizabeth was launched.  I always knew there would be some help need for Mom and Dad but I was not prepared for being in the middle.

In all fairness, I have never really had to do both at the same time. Dad exited in such a way that did not require that awful waiting around for someone to die stuff.  He just left. 

Mom has had her challenges but I was not aware for a lot of reasons. I didn't
t find out until Christmas time.  She was pretty stubborn about going to see the doctor.  She literally limped along until we all gathered in April.  Belle loudly stated:  "Mom you don't have a pulled muscle, you need an MRI."  That freaked mom out and she went to the doctor.  The doctor didn't even look at her but called the hip doc and here we are. 

She is doing great and working back to her old self. There are these awful days when her legs ache and twitch and she can't sleep  We walk and pace and lay down and do it all over again.  There does not seem to be any magic way it all works best. 

On the other side of my life is Mary-E.  She is working on lists of stuff to do when we get home.  We are going to spend some time at the island home of some friends and soon she will start packing for the beach.  We don't really have any plans for the 4th.  There is one plan regarding a bar and pancakes.   I better check and see if they are open on the 4th....

Mary-E is 21 years this year.  Amazing.  Really Amazing.  What she has faced and handled is a post for another day.

Better get home and hope Mom has fallen asleep.  Up at 4:30 am for a trip to the train. Then some coffee and some reading of some papers and then..... more sorting and more discarding and more......

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Growth while revisiting the past.

Growth is something we all do all the time.  At my age and time in life, I am trying to reduce the growth but then I guess that is part of the process also.

Today someone we know and love is spending the first day with new cells in her body growing a new immune system.  Some else is killing their immune system so they are able to  to have a new one. Who knew those would be good things.

We have been getting Mom ready for her big move and while doing so have stumbled across wonderful things.  A picture of dad from high school I had never seen.  A letter to his mom explaining the money he needed for college.  His accounting is touching.  It explains why he wanted to know what we were doing with the money he gave us. 

A bunch of notes from college.  Letters from Europe.  Boy can you tell what is important to someone by what they keep and carry around.  Mom is amazed.  I am touched, Mary-Elizabeth is tickled to see in what ways she is like her Grandfather. 

Alex continues to move boxes and sort and get ready for the estate sale.   I am just staying out of the way, taking those boxes he cares to share with me to sort through.  He and I are not having a good time doing this together but I hope we survive the process.  I guess it would be better if I kept my mouth shut.  I have clearly invaded sacred ground.  What a surprise, I have come into a space and taken over?  Sort of like an amoeba, if there is a space, I will fill it. We are both going to have to make space for each other.

I don't look at this process as a burden at all.  I am lucky to find myself with the gift of time to do this with our mom. Clearly my time here has not been seen as a good thing by my younger brother.  It does not make me want to go home but does make me sad. Belle and David can 't be here for very good reasons and I can. If nothing has become clear to me, how important it is to take advantage of such things as time with family.  I won't have much in the next couple of years when I start working again. So.....

I will move forward, work on the garden a bit, packing a bit. Walking with Mom and doing what I can to help her during this transition to her new life. 

I have even thought about asking for some bridge lessons.  Maybe?  As I read through things I realize we have lost this most important game.  Maybe it is time to re-capture that part of the past.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Observations and Good results

While I miss Seattle. A lot.  My back yard and all of it.  While I do miss it, I am also so glad to be able to be here.  What a gift to be able to spend time with my mom. 

Things are failing.  Weird things.  Things that make me unhappy because I don't want it to happen to me.  Many worry about their skin and their varicose veins, I am worried about my hands.  Mom can't do things I really really care about. I don't want to have trouble opening things or doing needlepoint.  I don't give a damn about my sagging chin.  I want to be able to thread a needle when I am 80. 

We are making progress. We are finding homes for the things that are important to her.  She does not care about things but about the people that are going to receive them.  It has been nice to know what special item or items goes with what person.  Little by little we have been finding homes for pieces of art, a certain type of glasses, a tie from Daddy. 

She is doing so great with the walking and the PT and the learning to move around with ease more.  Keeping her in the house  and under control is a bit part of this process.  She feels so so much better.  Her biggest concern is when she can sleep on her hip.  She is only 2 weeks out of surgery and that is her biggest concern. 

I hope at the end of my life, I have this many pieces of brightly colored glass in my lamp's light shade.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

48 hour leave...

Left Eugune yesterday and will return tomorrow.  Mom, while doing great, still needs someone to be with her for the next couple of weeks.  She starts real physical therapy on Wednesday and we will wean her off her walker and on to cane.  I foresee her walking again with some slowness but she is really making strides that will make her life in her new place so so much better.

I picked up Mary-E after her trip down the Wenatchee river.  Other than a small flip of a double kayak and almost being sucked into at fish counter, she did great.  She swam to the middle of the river and was rescued and got right back in a kayak.  Now the oars and the boat were lost but I am sure someone found them.  Her time with other cancer survivors and doing "normal" things was life affirming and wonderful for her.  She lives in another relm and it was go for her to find her peeps... those that don't need to be told about PIICs and Ports and Hickmans. 

I have been having an interesting time.  Time to spend joining her world and not just escaping from mine for a bit.  My brother Alex is also at the house a lot.  He and his wife having been staying overnight and Alex has been getting read for a garage/estate sale.  He has been frantic about things.  I recognize the behavior because when you have to manage your own life and have another layer of activity piled on top, it can be unnerving. 

Belle and Karen are on the road moving from Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin and were last spotted in Denver.  Belle is going to be starting a fellowship in Albuquerque in July.  She has a ton going on and stressed in a different way.  She wants to be in Eugene and is certain Alex, Amy and I are going to break mom.  Okay Mom has been up and cooking bacon since the first morning she was home.  I have read all the material and there was nothing in the book that said it was not an okay activity.  Bacon cooking does not require any leg twisting. While she cooks there is time to do her counter exercises.

David is just David.  Working hard, trying to make everyone happy.  He is having the hardest time of it.  The house was the one place he felt the most relaxed.  It has been "home" for the most years and the one most accessible.  We all have houses we loved. We all had lots of houses to love.  He loves the Eugene house.  He is going to move most of the furniture and will be able to preserve it a bit. 

Well I have only 48 hours.  Lots of laundry. Lots of garden work. Lots of coffee.  Lots to do. 

She crawled in bed last night.... and needed a hug.

The world just seemed like an overwhelming type of place.  She was exhausted from the river trip, but exhausted in a good way. The kind that aches deep down in the dark part of our bones.

She slept in and then had lots of "stuff to do".  She did her stuff but then there were some bumps. None of them were huge bumps but they were little bumps but when put together they seemed to feel like Mount Everest.  Everyone rallied and helped her out.   All in a good way.  It just felt like too much yesterday.  It was all fixed.  It took a hug, some shopping, nails and some cousin time and a few moments in bed with Mom.

She did something "normal".  She went with friends and new friends down a river.  She had to think about life in a different way.  It was a small thing. Something no one would even think about but it was a huge step for her. A real step. A step back to a more normal life. 

Normal can take a while to get used to after a long absence. 

Lots of emotions yesterday.  Frustration, joy, fear, disappointment and sadness.  But it is all good.  All of it. Every little frustrating and scary bit. 


Friday, June 07, 2013


Is off to go river rafting, like every single 20 year old in Western Washington. 

I am going to try and breath  and chant for the next three or four days...
She won't fall in the river and hit her head like Dr. Carpenter predicted.  She won't fall in the river and hit her head like Dr. Carpenter predicted..... She won't.....
Oh dear, that is what the moma saber tooth cat's said to their babys when they went to the shiny water at the Lebrea Tar pits... 

Ohhhhh Dear

Moms can still impart wisdom and guidance.  We are so lucky to still have our mom. 

Having lots of stuff in your house helps keep it sharp. She knows were ever thing is in her house, down to the placement of the step stool in the hall closet with the vacuum cleaners.


It is okay to cut apart the bottles of Montana Arnica because it does not come out very easily at the end.

Life Long Curiostiy;
There is something new to learn every day.  Did you ever read the New York Times Wedding anouncement?  Lots to learn there

New Guinee impatients are stupid they never bloom again after they come home from the nursery.

General Life Lessons:

Always be kind to your elders.  Not just respectful but kind.  They might leave a journal and tell on you from the past. We found Great Grandma Barnes 1948 journal.  Hankie Showers were very popular.  So was fried chicken.

Best Lesson:

It is never to late for new potatoes.  Because if you cook them today, you can have hashbrowns tomorrow's breakfast. 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


We all deal with them differently.  We all see things differently. We all have ways to handle challenges.  Change is a challenge.

If you review the list of the biggest stresses in life, they are all changes.  Death, divorces, moves, new job, new spouse, new coffee house with weird coffee your don't really like.  They are all transitions and changes. 

My siblings are all handling the big changes in our life, the loss of the family home, differently.  We are a bunch of transients at best.  I lived in 3 states and the District of Columbia before I was 5 years old.  Mom has moved with dad almost 30 times.  But I have concluded we are all handling it differently.

Brother David was sure he wanted the house.  He loves the house, he wanted the house.  Well that was pretty silly.  He lives in California, has a well established business and can not afford another house.  He got over that and instead will take any of the furniture no one else wants. 

Alex feel it is his job to untangle, organize and sell 15 years of Mom and Dad's life.  He is stressed and so his reaction is to clean drawers.  He is working his way though the house and we all sort of sit back and ponder.  This was the end result of one session at Dad's desk.
 I was a bit confused bu then it made sense to him.
Belle is now driving across the county and checks in several times a day.  We don't exactly tell her Mom has been getting up and down by herself and cooking bacon at will.  We don't mention that we are done with dressing changes because she is healing so well.  We don't mention that Mom will only be getting 9 not 10 shots because I was not smart enough to open the syringe....  She worries and frets and calls to converse with her siblings. She is doing long distance therapy with both Alex and me. 
I am cooking and planting flowers and assessing what is going, what is staying, what needs to be spread out through our friends and Family.  I am on a very different tract then my brother.  I am here, in the moment until Mom is ready. Ready to move for the first time in her life to her own place.  She is 81 years old and has never lived on her own.  She is about to do what I did when I was 22.  My first big move to Dietrich Idaho, Population 82.
I am doing washing, and drying and folding and hanging on the line.  I don't always get the stuff off the but it dries the second day.  I am working really hard to make sure there is good fresh, high protein food.  Yesterday was killer meatloaf and tonight is some salmon.
In all fairness, I am also making big messes.  This was the kitchen after making black bean and corn salad.  
I guess the real message here is that life is messy. We can plan and organize and cook and sort and clean and strategies and problem solve  and still life is messy.  Nothing seems to turn out the way we had hoped or expect or anticipated.  But sometimes out of great messes come great black bean salad.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Trying to Keep Mom in bed

So she sort of checked her self out of the hospital. We brought her home and she has been up cooking herself breakfast.   Need I say more?   When I can. I will post the picture of the bells we put on her walker.