2018/06/22

Sounds Like Surf Letch, But It’s Not

Da Goddess @ 16:20

Fletch

Fletch on a healthier day

I came home from San Diego to a sick cat. Barfing up everything he ate. Lethargic. Just. Not. Right. Sir Fletch is sick and I don’t like it!

I’ve been watching him closely since Wednesday evening, and while there has been improvement, he’s still not himself.

Frankly, I’m worried as hell. He’s still a young’n. He’s only seven!

He’s done so well this last year; losing weight, becoming more active, and generally just being a super dude. Now? This is not good.

There are days when I struggle to get up to feed Fletch, but I get up nonetheless. He comforts me when I’m hurting most. He’s my little Bubba.

Seems weird to ask for prayers for a cat, but he’s so much more than “a cat” — he’s my fuzzy lovekin. If you’re so inclined, please send some healing vibes his way. Thanks.

Signed, an internally panicking guardian

2018/06/18

Nervous

Da Goddess @ 04:18

In a few hours we’ll be gathered at the house of Dad’s friends, celebrating Dad. His car club friends will be there, family, old family friends will be joining us, and it’ll be…a little overwhelming. Emotionally, it’ll be a heavy day. I mean, it’ll be lovely to have everyone together reminiscing, but it’ll be heavy on the old ticker for us.

I’m nervous about whether or not I’ll be able to say anything in front of a crowd. I know I CAN, but can I really? I want to. I want people to know the Dad I knew. I want them to see a side of him reserved just for us kids. But there’s a part of me that also wants to keep that between us girls.

I don’t know. I’m wavering. I don’t like wavering. I don’t like nervous.

Say a prayer for us girls, would you? I’d appreciate it very much. Thanks.

2018/06/17

Father’s Day Without Dad

Da Goddess @ 00:01

My dad was many things to many people — father, husband, friend, the guy who could fix just about anything, the guy who yelled, or just plain old Dick P.

He had a crusty, grumpy, gruff outer shell that surrounded a warm, kind, and also sometimes gruff, crusty, grumpy soft center. The simple truth is that Dad was a good guy, once you got to know him. There was a time when I was much younger, but still old enough to know better, when his outer shell was the source of much embarrassment; right or wrong, it’s just how it was. Because even though he was always a good man, you first had to get past the blustering crank that would let loose with racial slurs that would make your mama blush. Yes, that was part of him, but a small part. And it changed over the years. He went from Archie Bunker Supreme Insulter to Archie Bunker’s Learned A Lesson Contriteness. His first instinct was to be on the defensive, but once he got to know you and you him, you had a friend for life. It was just his way and I learned, over the years, that it was okay to let him be him and I didn’t have to own any part of it. Eventually, he mellowed…or maybe I did. Or maybe it was both. All I know is once Mojo came along (and later, LD), I’d told him point blank that he’d have to watch what he said around her because I didn’t want her hearing some of his words. It had a huge effect on him because he was careful…mostly. Ultimately, his love for his grandkids made him want to be the best version of himself possible. He wanted them to grow up knowing Papa was on the job! And that’s what they always had with him. And, by the way, while I was in the hospital having Mojo, Dad was on a plane having a heart attack! The lesson I learned that day was to never give up hope when it comes to a man who wants to meet his first grandchild! Thanks to the quick actions of the plane crew, his buddy Rex, and everyone who worked to keep him alive, not to mention that stubborn streak he has, he survived. Don’t count him out when he’s motivated!

My earliest memories of Dad are of him working on Model Ts or Model As, driving around to find car parts, walking through the woods, playing in the big backyard of our first home in Strongsville, Ohio. I recall him working with a neighbor to repair the bridge over the creek that ran behind the house, watching them work while I looked for turtles and frogs. He was always there. Always doing something to make our little part of the world safer. I also remember sitting in one of his old cars, pressing the button and the car springing to life. I might have been all of 2 at the time. He came running out to see what happened. Of course he knew, but he had to ask, “did you start the car?” And being a kid, I, of course, lied, “no, Daddy.” I know he was likely more frightened than angry, but I wasn’t left alone in the car — not for one second — after that. Probably a wise decision. That might’ve been when I first began to think my name was either Jesus Christ or God Damnit. I eventually learned everybody shared those first names with me!

I remember, too, how he’d take us kids to the airport to see the Sea World animals arrive each year. It was a very big deal. We got to see the animals up close, touch some of them, and even get to hear the Sea World employees talk about the animals. Since American Airlines was a Sea World sponsor for many years, employees got discounts and we went as often as possible, not just in Ohio, but also in San Diego. It was a little like being part of a special club and something Dad liked to see us kids enjoy.

Another special club, to which I belonged, was the Daddy and I go hunting for car parts or go junking with his friend Norman and Norman’s son Ricky (who was born the day after me and, in fact, our parents met at the hospital because of us!) club. Sometimes we’d just head over to their house and spend hours in the greenhouse they had. No matter what, though, we’d end up back at our house, Dad making us breakfast. That was when I learned another lesson: I only like scrambled eggs that are completely beaten and thoroughly cooked! Yikes! You don’t need more than one breakfast of runny, egg-white lumpy scrambled eggs to make that your number one rule in life. Of course, Dad balanced the runny eggs with his grilling. In order for that to level the field, you gotta know he served everything from the grill WELL DONE. Never medium well. Never lower case well. Steaks, burgers, dogs…it was totally UPPER CASE WELL DONE. It was many many years before I learned to like my steak done to medium/medium well temp, though I will happily cop to still kind of enjoying hot dogs with a slightly darker crust to them. So many lessons from one man.

When I was about 8 or 9, we went to Magic Mountain. After trying to convince him I was brave enough to go on roller coasters, he finally relented and took me on the Gold Rush. I’m so glad he was with me because our safety bar didn’t lock and he physically held me in place the entire ride! It was scary, but it also made me want to try every other roller coaster in the park. And so he took me on every single one of them. Two lessons learned that day: 1) Dad is there to protect you. 2) Dad is there to encourage you and help you achieve your goals. Bonus lesson: if you’re tenacious to the point of being overwhelmingly pesky, Dad will eventually give in to the begging. But only at amusement parks. Or on Saturday mornings when Abbott and Costello, Little Rascals, or Laurel and Hardy were on. I’d plead to be allowed to watch before starting weekend chores. Because he liked comedy, he’d acquiesce. We’d watch together. No matter what pressing chores awaited us, he made time for us to laugh together.

But back to that whole saving my life thing.

That roller coaster ride wasn’t the only time Dad saved my life. Not long after that, we were visiting friends in Tucson and we took a big trip out to the Gila River to go tubing. Much of the river was a gentle flow of water, the sort of easy ride where the dads were in their inner tubes, beers in hand, watching us kids splash about, slowly making our way down river. Except, there was section that got a bit rough. In the middle of that section was a huge tangle of trees, and the water diverted around that was whirling and raging. Somehow, my tube got caught in an eddy just strong enough to pull me around to the backside of the tangle. Dad was right behind. My tube upended and threw me into the water, where I was almost immediately caught in the branches of the submerged trees. I struggled and knew I was losing the battle, and then…suddenly, an arm grabbed me and pulled me up to the surface. It was my dad. I could see the fear on his face, but instead of it making me more frightened, I immediately felt safer. I felt safe because my dad was there. My dad had saved me. In that moment, I knew everything was going to be okay. And it was. Mostly. While we kids seemed to only get browner and more golden, poor Dad had turned lobster red from the hot Arizona sun. Fun fact: on family trips to Tijuana, we’d always get stopped at the border. His farmer’s tan was even enough, just slightly olive enough to convince Border Patrol that Señor P was Mexican and therefore all the fair-haired kids in the car were cause for suspicion. All it took to dispel their misconceptions was for his shirt sleeve to ride up on his arm and his uber pasty white complexion to shine, nay GLARE, and prove he was most definitely not some weird guy smuggling obviously white girls INTO the United States. Fun fact lesson: either keep your tan line visible or learn to speak Spanish well enough to seem legit.

Around the same time as the near-drowning, I decided I wanted to play softball. I was the first in the family to try organized sports, and surprisingly, Dad was all for it. That first year, American Airlines was our team sponsor (actual coincidence as it was a neighbor’s father who also worked at AA and got us the sponsorship) and we became the Green Gremlins. Dad was proud. And despite his work schedule, he made it to as many games as he could, cheering loudly, and encouraging me the entire time. Eventually, J joined in the softball shenanigans and he and mom split their time so we’d, hopefully, have at least one of them at every game. It didn’t always work out that way, but they certainly tried their best. I was proud to be playing, even more proud when we’d win, because I knew Dad was proud. When you’re a kid, you really want to make your folks proud. I could do that with softball.

Somewhere in this time frame, I ended up getting pretty sick. Nobody was exactly sure what was going on (Epstein-Barr, thank you very much) and there were endless trips to the doctor and the hospital. At one point, Dad was the one left at my bedside for a change. Someone came in to take blood for more tests. This was not a man who dealt with blood well at all. I watched him go from pale to green in all of three seconds. I was actually afraid he was going to faint. But he hung in there. Remember that one lesson about Dad is there to protect you? Yep, sometimes he’ll even risk puking or fainting in front of you to get that job done. Later, when it was his turn to be in the hospital bed and my turn to sit bedside — this was during his first or second heart attack — I had to talk him through the removal of the angiocatheter they’d placed. I had to hold his dressing in place and talk him through the green/ready-to-puke phase. I almost couldn’t handle the five to ten minutes of the pressure dressing hold. (This was before I became a nurse.) Seeing Dad so weak and vulnerable in the hospital was too much. But because he’d always go the extra mile for me, it was my turn to do that for him. So, we did our best to keep him from passing out and it helped us both.

Other lessons were so subtle. The kind you don’t know you’re learning until later in life.

Growing up, we always had pets. While I missed out on the horses Mom and Dad had, I did benefit from the seemingly constant parade of dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, and for a very brief time — our cousins’ gerbils. Let’s just say the gerbil sitting experience was the reason none of us asked for our own once they went back to their rightful home. Dad was brave to go in and try to rescue the babies from their cannabilistic parents. But, more than the standard pet fare, Dad had a soft spot for animals in need of help. One of my favorite memories was of him tending to Irving, the injured crow. Who rescues crows? My dad! I don’t know what motivated him to want to save this wild bird, but he did. He showed us kids that we could help, that we could make a difference in an animal’s life. The day we released Irving, I cried. But Dad held my hand and gave me a hug, reassuring me that it was a good thing to let Irving return to a natural life. Just as he had done with a bat he’d rescued and rehabilitated. (That was just a story he and Mom would occasionally tell me because I think I would have remembered a bat living in a trashcan!) Anyway, it was a powerful lesson. One I’m sure he regretted teaching me as the years went on. He most certainly did NOT appreciate the snakes I brought home, or the stray cats, or the tarantula (especially since I was TERROR with that thing!). Despite me taking his lesson a little too much to heart and a little too far, this was a side of Dad that only we — for the longest time — got to see. Oh, he’d grumble plenty about the cats and the dogs and eventually the birds, but deep down, Dad loved animals. As soon as he’d sit down, there’d be a dog or a cat right by him. I once came home to find him sprawled across the good sofa, deep in his nap, lying on his back with his arm up and under his head. In the crook of his arm was my newly adopted kitten, Theron. in the same exact pose. Grumble grumble, that was Dad’s take on pets. Until he’d sit with them for a few minutes. THAT’S when you’d see the real Dad come out: a pet lover! When our dog Rändi was hit by a car, he was devastated. He scooped up her body, placed her in the back of the car, and quietly drove her home. He took her to be cremated, after which he buried her under a tree in the backyard…a place where he knew he’d always be able to find her. After my cat, Teddy, went missing just before we moved, Dad drove back to the old neighborhood every day for weeks looking for him. When our dog, Maggie, began to have seizures, Dad was heartbroken. Even more so when she got so bad she had to be put to sleep.

After the divorce, my dad said no more pets. And yet, he ended up with Tweety, the weird, but wonderful cockatiel. He doted on that bird. I mean, he let him have full run of the house! Every time you turned around, there seemed to be another perch or toy or something he got for the bird. They had their moments, to be sure. Tweety would get cranky and start biting more. Dad would get cranky and say he was ready to fry him up like chicken. Eventually they’d make up and Dad would be back to spoiling him. Whenever he’d dog sit Rexx or Max for Ron and Kathy, he’d watch to see how the dogs would react to the bird. Once he was certain everyone was cool, he’d relax and then laugh as the dogs would give Tweety a wide berth. No way they were taking a chance getting bitten!

The day J got her first horse was probably the happiest I ever saw Dad when it came to us and our animals. I think he really enjoyed seeing her and Smokey Joe together, reminding him of his days with a horse. He took great pride in watching J learn to ride and jump, hauling her and the horse…and us…to shows, pointing to them in the arena and saying, “look how well they’re doing!”

Yes, our animals were an added expense he’d grumble about from time to time, but he enjoyed having them around as much as we did. And they didn’t talk back to him like we would.

Growing up with a dad who yelled a lot, who worked odd hours, and who had absolutely no trouble putting us on restriction (oh my God, I think I was the MOST GROUNDED KID IN HISTORY!), it wasn’t really that awful. Deep down, we knew he yelled and got upset because he just wanted us to be safe and he wanted to provide as a father should. We didn’t always make things easy for him, but that’s what kids do. No matter how bad things got, he was always there for us. Maybe not in the form we would have chosen, but he was there. Plenty of people in this world never had that. We did.

He taught us to be curious and creative, encouraged us when times got rough, and bailed us out of trouble when he probably should have let us fail. So what if it all came wrapped in a crabby, thorny package? Dad was there.

Dad also taught us how to make lemonade from lemons. When he was laid off (with three growing daughters needing oh so much!), he could have been bitter and angry. He probably was. But he not only went out and found work, he started a business! In a way, that reminds me of a photo of him as a baby. Learning to walk, he always held someone’s hand and that became his preferred method of getting around. Of course, at some point, his parents knew they had to let him walk alone. He didn’t like that at all! What they did, however, was kind of genius: they stuck a bar of soap in his hand. The photo, which we can’t seem to find, shows a teeny tiny Richard with his arm raised up, soap in hand, ambulating. He didn’t get what he wanted, but he got what he needed to get the job done. It wasn’t that he settled for less than he wanted, he figured out what he wanted and made it happen with what he had on hand. Whether it was a bar of soap or starting his own business, he made good things happen when others might have thrown in the towel. He didn’t like giving up on anything or anyone. Thank God for that! We girls certainly gave him enough reason.

He could also surprise us. Once I got caught with an open beer in hand. The cops brought me home. Mom was livid, Dad was uncharateristically calm. The cops told my folks the beer was warm and probably had only been sipped once (really accurate, by the way. I didn’t much care for beer). While Mom wanted me grounded for weeks, for once, Dad was the one who advocated for a much more lenient punishment. One week grounded. Plus, I had to go along with whatever the cops recommended, which turned out to be either me washing their cars for a full day or me writing an essay as to the dangers of underage drinking. I chose the essay. He insisted on reading it before I dropped it off at the police station. Apparently he thought it was good because he told me he was proud that I’d learned my lesson (yeah, my lesson to never get caught with a beer I didn’t even want in the first place), and then he surprised me by saying he wasn’t worried about the beer. “If you’re occasionally going to take a sip of beer, it’s not the worst thing in the world. I just don’t want you out there drinking and driving and getting yourself or someone else killed, okay?” Honestly, that was the chillest moment ever for a teenager, especially this one!

Whatever and however hellish our teen years were for us and for our parents, we got through them and came to appreciate what Dad was all about. He was our protector and champion. He was our worst critic and best friend. He let us make our mistakes and try to comfort us as best he could when things went sour. And when it was time to give us away at our weddings, he was there, beaming with pride! I know he was proud that C had found D, and with D he ended up with not just a son-in-law, but a son, a friend, and someone who would be there for C no matter what. He also got a gearhead, car enthusiast, and a photographer! All things Dad loved! With J, he saw her husband, JL, as someone who was a good balance for her. He really appreciated how hard JL worked, how capable he was with his hands and with tools. He could relate! With me, he was glad I’d found someone who loved my daughter as much as he loved me. And soon it wasn’t just the DG, P, and Mojo show, because then there was LD! He had a
granddaughter AND a grandson! Watching him with the kids was really something. When they were small, I swear, I had to beg him to stop spoiling them. But he couldn’t help himself. He loved them both so much! He loved all of us, much more than he could or would put into words.

That was kind of the thing with Dad. Words weren’t really his milieu, his jam. His way of letting you know you mattered to him was in what he did.

Sometimes it was something as little as grabbing a burger together or sometimes it was as grand as buying you a decent used car because he was concerned about your safety. It could be seen in how frustrated he’d get when you told him you were sad (he only wanted to see you happy again) or after spending a couple hours together you’d come to find a twenty in your jacket pocket. Dad was a doer, not a sayer. Though he could surprise you there, too.

When he and Mom were divorcing, he was taking it pretty hard. If C was around, they might talk about the financial aspect of the whole thing. C was the analytical one, the one you go to when you want someone capable of taking charge of the minutiae. If I was around, he’d occasionally open up and tell me how much it hurt and how lonely it felt (mind you, he’d never said anything like that to me before, so I just shut up and let him talk). He knew I was the one who’d hold his hand and just let him feel what he was feeling. If J was there, he’d find a way to get her to do something…move things around the yard, do something with the horses. As long as they were doing something that required physical strength, they could work together and he’d feel better for it. With the three of us, he had different ways of communicating without necessarily spilling his guts. As I mentioned before, he opened up to me so briefly, and to this day, I’m honored that he did and even though he never really did again — not to that extent — he knew he was safe with me if he revealed his vulnerable side. Rarely did it manifest itself verbally, or rather, directly, because he’d talk about feelings, just in an indirect manner. He was of a generation and class of workingmen who believed in hard work and that’s how he expressed his love. For my dad it was about getting up, working hard, and making a better life for his kids. And that’s what this he did. Again, it was the same, but also different for all of us.

Mostly, he knew where each of our strengths were. He found a way to get across whatever he needed to say in a way we could best deal with. It takes someone who really pays attention to his kids to know how to do that. While we weren’t looking, he’d gotten to know us as people…as adults…and he acted accordingly. It was such a gradual occurence that we never noticed. Chalk it up as another lesson from Dad.

When I was recovering from back surgery at the skilled nursing facility, he came almost every day. Even though I appreciated his presence, I actually had to beg him to go do other things besides visit with me. When he was there, though, it was truly lovely. It was during those three weeks that I learned more about him than I had my entire life! I learned much more about his time in the Navy (and yet, after his death, we discovered even more!), about his lifelong love of photography and how he came by his first cameras. He told me stories about his friends, people we grew up knowing as if they were part of our family. While not always directly about himself, his stories revealed so much of who he really was. The person inside the Dad wrapping, you know? The sort of thing that takes forty years of knowing someone to surface. It floored me. It still does. Amidst the In n Out burgers and shakes, the simple conversations painted a more complete portrait of a man I thought I knew so well.

As I think of all the lessons Dad taught us through the years, the most valuable one came at the very end. When we were hurting the most, when we’d lost the one man who’d meant so much to us, he taught us that we can get through this together, that we are stronger together than we are apart. Knowing that, knowing that my sisters and I are all capable and strong in various ways, when we come together and work together, we become even stronger and more capable. From the moment Dad died, I knew we’d be okay because we still have one another. We don’t have to be anything other than who we are. We’re Dick P’s girls. And if that wasn’t enough, as C and J and I sat in together in C’s yard, discussing how to proceed, several crows flew overhead. Silently, at first. When are crows ever silent in flight? I said something referring to Irving, Dad’s rehabilitated crow. The crows flew overhead again, this time one of them let out the strangest sound. It wasn’t a typical caw caw…it was mournful, lamenting, it was muted and definitely not a caw. It felt like a sign. It felt like everything happening between us girls was good and right and what Dad always wanted for us, from us…and part of that final lesson.

I’m going to miss my dad for the rest of my life. There will always be a place in my heart just for him. But instead of being sad, I’m really grateful to have known him and I’m proud to have been his daughter. I’m proud to be one of Dick P’s girls.

__________________

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! Kids, appreciate what you have while you still have it. It goes by so quickly.

2018/06/15

On My Way

Da Goddess @ 12:03

On my way to San Diego for Dad’s memorial on Monday. Lots to do before then.

I’m so grateful to have my sisters, their husbands, Mom, and the kids. Wish Dad were still alive, but there’s nothing we can do about that. All we can do is celebrate the man he was and what he meant to us.

2018/06/07

One Month

Da Goddess @ 12:18

One month ago today I still had a dad. At least for a few hours.

There are days when his absence is felt immensely. It’s a rawness that no salve can soothe.

Deep down, I know he’s without pain, without limitations, and isn’t suffering any longer now. But on the surface I just want my Dad.

*Deep breath*

It’s taking a while to adjust. Still.

2018/06/06

Uh Oh

Da Goddess @ 00:38

Just realized Dad’s memorial is the day after Father’s Day.

That’ll be a heavy weekend.

2018/05/29

Mom. Mom. Mommy. Mom.

Da Goddess @ 16:30

Updates from C today are consistent with the way things seem to go with our family. One minute Mom is improving, the next minute she’s feeling a bit worse. Thankfully, the doctor has no problem keeping her hospitalized until she’s showing a solid pattern of improvement.

I hate being here while she’s there, but crowding into a hospital room while someone is trying to get well wears on them after a while. They can’t escape to go make dinner or cookies, nor can they excuse themselves to go take a nap or read while leaving you to watch TV.

As nice as it is to say you visited someone in hospital, the practice is actually less pleasant for most patients. True story.

Yes, there are times when patients are grateful for visitors, but staying longer than a few minutes can cause them discomfort, especially when they are actively fighting an exhausting disease process.

If you are invited to stay longer than a few minutes, be ready to:

1. Play cards or some other game.
2. Respect the need for privacy when medical personnel come to see the patient.
3. Leave if the patient shows any signs of fatigue.
4. Leave if asked by patient or staff.

If you can’t visit, call only if the patient can talk. Conditions like COPD can make speaking difficult. Instead, send a brief text to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Yeah, so I’m having to send short texts to Mom to let her know she’s on my mind. But, you better believe I’m heading down as soon as I can so I can give her a hug and kiss, tell her to get to gettin’ better, and to see for myself how she’s doing. There are a couple complications on this front, but nothing that can’t be worked around or through.

Until I can get there, I’m grateful for C, D, and J…and Mojo doing everything they can to keep Mom’s spirits up and to keep her focused on getting better.

2018/05/26

Update on Mom

Da Goddess @ 15:09

Mom texted me this morning to say she’s feeling better, which is always good news.

C texted to let me know the docs are going to switch Mom over to oral antibiotics. Also good news.

There’s a solid plan in place as to getting Mom back on her feet. This is far better than “comfort measures only”.

I’m putting this in the win column. We’re going to celebrate every little victory we get.

2018/05/25

Comfort Found

Da Goddess @ 14:27

In my search for comfort and a sense of peace, I came across a link on Twitter leading to a lovely blog. I’ll include a link to the story that first hooked me later this weekend, but until then, please go visit this lovely woman’s site.

Mom update: she’s resting at hospital, receiving antibiotics and breathing treatments to ease her respiratory effort. The plan is to keep her there a few days and see what happens at that point. If the doctors don’t feel there will be any hope for improvement over time, she’s planned on comfort measures and not much else according to my sister. Understandable, but still makes my heart fall deep in my belly. I’m really not prepared for this at the moment as I’m struggling to keep up with the grief over Dad. We shall see. It’s not in my hands. God will bless us with the right course as He sees fit. That’s pretty much all we need, isn’t it?

2018/05/24

If It Weren’t for Bad Luck

Da Goddess @ 15:29

If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.

The day before my birthday, Mom was admitted to the hospital with respiratory distress. She went home several days later. I didn’t call because talking made her cough, so we texted.

I just got a call from my younger sister to let me know Mom’s back in hospital again for the same problem. Instead of going to her regular hospital, she’s been admitted to the hospital where Dad died. What’s more, it seems she’s in the same room. (Update: Mom’s actually in the emergency department as of 16:30, so she’s not been admitted.)

J is headed over there now to see what’s going on and will update me. C is, of course, dealing with doctors and Mom.

I almost went down to San Diego yesterday. C and I discussed it and we decided to hold off until next week sometime.

I feel like I’m stuck in a fucking loop right now.

Mojo and I had spoken the other day as Mom was getting settled in at home. Mojo told me, “Grammy keeps saying she’ll take her medicine but she’s done.” My mom had uttered the same thing several times while Dad was dying and again on Mother’s Day. I told her to hold off because we can only deal with so much at once.

This also has had me thinking of us gathering around Dad not long after he’d passed. Mom gasped, put her hand on his chest and said, “oh! I can still feel his heart beating!” She was in shock. I gently told her he was gone and she was likely feeling her own pulse through her hand. I double checked to show her and she looked, momentarily, defeated. I told her she wasn’t the first person to be hopefully mistaken.

While Mom has been conflicted about my dad got a long time, the simple fact is that they’d known each other for over 60 years and had a very emotionally complex relationship, what with marriage, kids, divorce, grandkids, and the rest of the things life throws your way. Being sad, angry, hopeful, relieved, and even confused is understandable. But it also highlighted how fragile she’s become, not just over the years, but in the space of a few days. Emotional conflict can bring with it health issues no one expects. I’m not saying Mom’s health crisis at the moment is the direct result of her emotional health, but her emotions are not working FOR her right now.

Dear God, please help Mom get better. Please help all of us deal with this in helpful and loving ways. And, pretty please, don’t let May become the month my sisters and I become adult orphans. We’re still working through the last loss.

Can I get an Amen?

17:00 Update: CT scan looking for blood clots. X-rays were okay.
17:30 Update: nothing obvious, so that’s good news. Tests all seem to be clear.
19:00 Update: Mom being transferred to her regular hospital where all her records are available for anyone who tends to her. I’m relieved beyond belief.

2018/05/13

Happy Mother’s Day 2018!

Da Goddess @ 01:58

It doesn’t matter if you physically gave birth, adopted, assumed guardianship, or just served as a guiding hand to a child, if you’ve given your heart to a little one, you’re deserving of a warm Happy Mother’s Day from me and the entire world!

To offer your love and attention, your patience and understanding, you’ve given another generation the kind of care they need and deserve to become citizens of our planet. We’re all in this together, whether we acknowledge it or not. By extending a hand, you help to build the bridge between each of us and make our community stronger.

Thank you for being you. Thank you for caring. Thank you for the stories, the soup, the endless brushing of hair, the bandaids, serving as judge and jury, vet, doctor, nurse, teacher, chef, chauffeur, and friend. Thank you!

Now go eat something you probably shouldn’t, take a much deserved nap, and let the dishes sit in the sink for a day. Celebrate YOU!

First a Word From Your Host(ess)

Da Goddess @ 01:47

I took a break from posting about Dad’s death because I needed to. I have lots more to say, you can bet on it, but between being exhausted (physically and emotionally) and feeling like maybe this was becoming all Dad all the time, it’s a necessity.

I’ll be back to talk more about the grieving process I’m going through, how I see others coping, etc. I’m just going to keep a little of this to myself for now.

Thanks for all the kind words in comments, emails, and texts. You’ve warmed my heart and helped ease my soul.

2018/05/09

The Day After the Day After

Da Goddess @ 09:02

I had a long night of thinking, of remembering. I dozed off a couple times, but really never slept. My stomach was not having it.

With inflammatory bowel disease you can never predict when your stomach is going to go rogue one you. And you can’t predict how long it’ll last. There are times when I’ll go months without a flare up and then have a bad day. Or maybe I’ll have a horrible couple of weeks followed by a day of relief, quickly followed by a month of horror. It’s really that crazy.

Were I insured or on Medicaid, I’d have tests to see if I’ve ramped up to ulcerative colitis. But I’m still waiting to find out if I’ve been approved.

Anyhow, stress can be a trigger for flare ups and I’d say death of a loved one counts as stress. It took a day or two to smack me upside the head, but it has most definitely done that now.

J cleaned Dad’s house yesterday before C even got there. I’d slept through the day and missed everything. Today, I guess we’re going over to sort through stuff? I’m not quite sure. I know C has been good about getting rid of Dad’s clothes over the past year as he’s worn out stuff or lost too much weight to wear it. We’ll have to get the rest of his clothes sorted and donated this week, I think. Better to do it now instead of waiting and letting grief smash into us again later.

Other notes:

I’m an idiot! I packed enough underwear for every day of an Everest expedition but failed to pack sleep pants.

I actually posted on Facebook yesterday after 7 months. I’d almost like to delete my account there, but a great portion of friends on there I don’t contact any other way. What to do, what to do…

2018/05/08

The Evening of the Day After

Da Goddess @ 22:40

I’d just awakened when I heard Mojo knock on my door. “We’re gonna go to dinner. Are you going to come, too?” she asked. “It’s *that* late already?!” I replied.

I haven’t slept that hard in a long time. The memories of my dreams are fleeting, but none were disturbing, so I’m grateful for that.

C took Mojo, LD, and I out for Mexican for dinner down by San Diego harbor. It was very good, but then I couldn’t tolerate another bite and my stomach screamed “none of this belongs here!” So, yummy food, bummy tummy.

Last night, no problem with the homemade beef barley soup and cornbread. Or the turkey sandwich from the comfort cart provided by the hospital. (I’m not kidding when I say Pomerado Hospital is one of the best hospitals on the planet!)

I guess eating whilst grieving is going to be an adventure of its own.

We’re back at C and D’s house. Mojo and I spent an hour going through photos on our phones, “oh! send me that!” and subsequently texting favorited images.

How did we ever manage to communicate before cell phones? The sheer ease of communication is astonishing! I texted my sister from bed this morning to save us all from yelling across the house. I do, however, draw the line at texting someone who’s sitting next to me. Unless it’s an urgent message and we’re in a “no-talk” situation. Or unless I’m sitting with a friend named Jacque in a bar in Vegas.

My mind is full of utter nonsense that keeps trying to push away sadness and important tasks relating to Dad. Thus, the existence of these ramblings. They have to go somewhere. Twitter is filling up quickly with them. This blog is, too. And I posted to Facebook for the first time in at least 18 months. Less about anything on Facebook, more just to let a couple people know, people who had known Dad.

I’m going to try to get to sleep early so I can be of actual use tomorrow. My sisters can’t keep carrying all the weight, nor should they have to. Fingers crossed I make it.

Dad, I am trying to get this right. I hope I’m at least coming close. I love you and will miss you forever.

The Day After

Da Goddess @ 09:27

I don’t know how any of us got through yesterday. Lots of love, laughter, and tears to be sure, but I honestly don’t know how we were able to keep going.

All of us had to have a lie-in at some point. (How pretentious of me to use lie-in as opposed to nap…it’s just that napping doesn’t quite seem appropriate in this context.) We had dinner. We talked. Mojo and I stayed up talking and watching stuff on YouTube.

After crawling into bed I realized I still hadn’t changed my clothes from Sunday, had forgotten to brush my teeth, and really needed to pee. It took me a full 90 minutes to get up to do anything about it.

Woke up at 0745 to the realization that my dad is really really really gone. I knew that yesterday, but it hit me afresh upon waking. I don’t know how to do this. I mean, I know, I just don’t KNOW.

I’m in total lockup today. Neck and back are not cooperating. I practically crawled to the bathroom. This is worse than normal as the sheer emotional momentum from yesterday has left my body. This definitely is NOT the day I anticipated having. I’m hoping I’ll fall asleep for a bit and wake up in better shape.

Sleep, though, I don’t know. So much keeps running through my head. I don’t remember how many times I prayed last night, but it was kind of all that kept me from crying. That and I didn’t have Fletch to cry to. That’s how I get through the bad moments at home.

Yesterday, while at the hospital, we had the chaplain come in to say a prayer with us. She was a pleasant little old lady with a slight lilt to her voice. All was going well (relatively well, I mean, we were heartbroken, crying, and generally in need of comfort) until she got to her third “Heavenly Father” in her prayer. At the next mention, I felt a giggle building. At the fifth mention, I kind of started to shake. By the sixth “Heavenly Father”, I was actively having to hold back laughter.

Her next parlor trick was telling us she was sure Dad was a lovely, wonderful, kind man. Mom guffawed openly. C and I laughed.

Cranky, grumpy, misanthropic, loud, rude…and, yes, a good man. Perfectly imperfect. That was my dad. I didn’t always understand him, but I always loved him. I was lucky to have almost 52 years with him. That’s a helluva lot more time than many people get with parents. I’m not feeling great about it, but I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it in that he’s not in pain any longer. I’m okay with him being free of the ravages of aging. Being free from illness, from losing autonomy, losing friends, losing the ability to do all the things he enjoyed. He’s at peace now and I have to learn to get there, too.

I’m extremely grateful for my sisters, brothers-in-law, my mom, the kids, my friends, and the staff at the hospital and hospice. Together we’ve made it this far and that’s something special in my book.

Each day, each moment will bring with it new challenges, but I’m a quick learner and I think I have a handle on getting through whatever comes up. No guarantees, just a sense that I can do this.

Going to attempt sleep again. Or maybe hobble out to the kitchen for a piece of toast. Then I’ll tackle whatever comes next.

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