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That Shirley is one hell of a strong old gal

My Mom is dying right now. Unless she pulls a miracle hat trick and some how gets past this, my Mom is dying. She picked up a virus and developed a pneumonia and it’s all on her to beat this. She may not, probably isn’t, strong enough to beat it. And I think she’s not really fighting hard. She’s tired, sick, old, sick.  Too many deaths lately. They say it goes in threes and two are already on the board. 

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what will they say about me?

when it’s my time to move on and people remember me, what will they say about me?

I hope people say “Tia always tried her best.” because in all honesty that’s what I’ve done. I messed up at times, wasn’t always a good person, harbored bad feelings and thoughts but the majority of the time I really have tried to do the best I can with what I’ve got to deal with.

I’m writing my Mother’s obituary and life celebration service. I know it’s morbid but I can’t sit and do nothing. Nothing is all that we can do now. We wait and watch as Mom slowly fades away. She’s the strongest person I know so it’s going to take a while. That’s not fair to her because she isn’t savoring the end of her life. She’s suffering and no pain pill will make her death less tragic.

My Mother was born into shame. Her Mother and Father were not married and from what I gather the man she called Dad was not the man who sired her. She was sent to live with an Aunt and Uncle and knew her entire childhood that she was not one of them. Her Uncle was a cold man, his charity stopped at taking her in. But she was strong and she grew into a very smart young lady who won awards for her skills with shorthand. She was praised in all the letters from employers and teachers. She also fought a lifetime of mental illness. Untreated until she married and grew older. My childhood was one of fear. Her cold and cruel childhood damaged her and in her mental illness I became the scapegoat. She went away a lot to get shock treatment and heavy anti-depression meds and returned back to us a weakened version of herself. It happened so often my brother and I thought it was just the way it should be.

She battled cancer, she battled her personal demons, she battles on now. I can choose to hate her for what she was. I choose instead to admire her for all her battles. It is not a weak person who battles and loses. They are strong for standing up time and time again and keeping themselves in the battle. I don’t think death is her battle now, I think it is her prize. A job well done and here’s your gold pen and plaque. Her last battle is allowing herself to stop fighting. And we will watch it and when she asks me, over and over daily, “what am I going to do Tia?” I’ll keep on telling her that I do not know but we will face it together and together we can face anything in our way.

My Mother is a strong person, the strongest I know. She is a frikkin Bozo punching toy. You knock her over and she pops right back up again. I used to hate her for it but now I admire her.  I know she tried her best. Her obituary will not say it completely, there’s no way to explain it all. Mom would not want me to air her linens in public. So at her service, when I stand to talk, I will start and end with “My Mother was one of the strongest people I know. She may have struggled but she never stopped fighting. She always tried to do her best”

I think that’s one of the nicest things we can say about someone. “They always tried to do their best”  I hope I live up to those words someday.

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On death and Dying.

I’m not even Catholic and I’ve read that book. But that’s a different story for a different day.

My Mother is dying.

Four words to chill the soul. I’ve become very fond of the old thing. I’m pretty sure I love her. Not in the old ‘‘She’s my Mother and I have to love her because I’m a little messed up‘thanks  Mom’ way. I think I love her as she is now. Frail, lost, tiny, scared,,

Gone is hard, brittle, crazy as a kid in a candy museum, and chock full of dislike for me Mom. Gone is who she was. Gone is the monster and in it’s place sits a wounded human. As vulnerable as one can be. Unable to do much for herself. The list maker of my childhood cannot make an “x” on a line. Relying on strangers to help with her most personal tasks. Scared of everything and forgetful of so much.

I’m trying not to over think all of this. As I tell people, I’m a psychiatrist’s stiffy.

And none of that matters because my Mother is dying. And I’m glad.

How’s that for a mental tossed salad day? It all becomes real when the doctors talk to you about ‘comfort care’. I’d expected to feel angry or heart broken. I didn’t expect the feeling of relief that ran through me. She can’t see. She is in pain. She has something seriously wrong with her and we’ve run out of ideas as to what it is. She’s so confused. She asks me the same question time after time. She’s so tired she sleeps most of the time and she’s not eating much. When she does talk she makes little sense. She’s losing her words and she is a woman of words. The woman who battled mental illness, child abuse, health issues, cancer twice, and the loss of her anchor in reality-land, this woman who was a reader and a writer of a news paper column, this woman is losing her words and she knows it. Her soul is telling us it’s time.  Her body is telling us it’s her time. And I think it’s a good thing. She has no happy days. She has happy moments and that’s about it. Chances are she can’t remember them. That is her hell.

My Mother is dying.

I’m not so sure I can handle this. I’m not as strong as people think. I’m not as stable or centered as the folks in my worlds think. I’m only strong when I have to act. Give me a goal and I’m Super Tia. This time my cape and awesome boots are in storage. There are no actions. There is no goal. There is only one four word sentence: My Mother is dying. And watching it happen may be my kryptonite.

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Today I saw my parents

while at the eye specialist with my Mom. We were waiting for her appointment, it was a long wait. I’m not sure why we were there. Her new case supervisor requested it and I’m always up for a road trip. I think these occasional visits to the specialists are kind of mean. We know nothing can help her see. Her light bulb is flickering off and her world is mostly dark. I’m a reader, it would scare me half to death. It does scare me half to death. All things considered, she is an amazing little thing. Except when she has to wait more than five minutes for anything. Then she’s a screaming three year old I bribe with graham crackers and sips of juice. We waited over an hour in the waiting room, another hour in the exam room, and forty minutes for our medi-cab home. And it was during this time of pure boredom that I started watching the others who were waiting. A man in his twenties who was there to drive his Dad, a couple of business men, a lone woman reading and texting, another nursing home resident with an aide by her side, and us: my tiny grey haired Mother and me, her slightly pudgy (I’m working on that…really) almost 50 yr old daughter. People came in and out. The floor shook a little. They are removing a building in the area and you can feel it. Mom would complain now and then. She’d doze back off. And then I saw my Dad and Mom walk in. 

I know they weren’t my parents. I’m not there yet. But they were my parents at the same time. He came first. Aging, grey, stooped over. He looked tired. And he held the hand of a little old woman. She followed along, obviously unable to see well. He wasn’t mean, he’d wait a step or two for her to catch up. He’d tell her what they were passing and she’d look less scared. That was my parents. Before that call, before I showed up and altered everything. Before Dad died. That was my parents. Married 63 years and taking care of each other all that time. Toward the end, my Dad would lead Mom around, holding her hand. He’d reassure her when she was scared and help her find the way. They were a ‘them’ forever, they took that vow and stood by it. I never saw them like that. Just that hour or two before they were separated at the hospital. But today I saw them clearly. Those two people in the waiting room, walking together holding hands were my Parents. Even though they weren’t.

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oh wear oh wear

ever wanted to get revenge for all those horrific outfits they posed you in? my parents kept a wall of shame. Every school picture of my brother and I was there in all it’s glory. Bad hair cuts, polyester, leisure suit (him) and pink ruffles (me) all of it. I have them now, I plan to blackmail my brother as soon as he gets something I want. My Mother is requesting I pick her clothes. Apparently she doesn’t like her aides having that much power. When Mom’s circuits were connected we had a system. I wrote the days of the week on clothes pins and she’d pick out her outfits a few days at a time. When she stopped playing along we stopped the clothes pin thing completely. But this morning she called and told me the aides are dressing her in the wrong outfits. She complains a lot. I think it’s just lack of control and frustration. My brother is better at that part. I’m better at everything else. 

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a sad state of affairs

My Father gets  more mail than I do and his is more fun. He’s still being wooed by the psychic community and he keeps getting gifts in the mail. Today’s is cool, a pen that has a flashlight in it. Apparently the company thinks my Father should buy them and hand them our to his clients and potentially increase business. I’m hoping one of the psychics tells me what line of business dear old Dad is in now-a-days.

Dad was apparently a much deeper person than I thought. He not only donated to schools he never went to, he also seems to have been an avid collector. He must have had appx. 200 pencils. Ad gimmicks, hopeful electees, D.A.R.E, if they handed out a pencil Dad has it. I’ve been donating boxes of them to anyone who will take them. My granddaughter is set for life. ‘Course they won’t be needed by the time she’s in college.

Dad fed the hungry one letter at a time.He joined clubs for Railroad fans, for retired voters, for just about anyone who sent him a cheap USA blanket and a box of SHAMWOWs. I’m keeping the SHAMWOWs, they amuse me.

And last but never least, the worst of them. A letter from a guru stating that he selected Dad personally because “I know you are experiencing some real difficulties in your life.”

He even included a DVD that I won’t listen to. There’s a page that is supposed to fool us into thinking it is an actual newspaper story. It tells all about his magical powers and has testimony to prove it’s true.

This man ‘Patrick Guerin’ now referred to as Slicky McShyster or SMS, this person sent my Dad a letter full of vague promises and hopes that are empty. This man sensed my Dad’s recent difficulties in his life. My DEAD Dad.

And legally there is not a thing we can do when our elderly parents are taken by these scumbags. It is a very sad state of affairs.

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I’m getting punked by a fish

Fluffy has taken to playing dead. I look at the tank and he’s floating upside down. With Bob Saget swimming in place looking sad. I get a foot away and he springs to life, merrily swimming away.  My fish are winning the mind war with me. Or to put it better: my life is a circus and I’m in the clown suit climbing into the cannon holding only an umbrella.

 

I wanted to wish a ‘Merry Christmas’ to the two or three who regularly read my nutty words. I hope your holidays are the best holidays they can be. I’ll be with my Mom this year. I have to. It means I’ll be missing the rest of my crew all day but on the 26th we’re all getting together here for chicken pizza and a billiards tourney. I will try my hardest to make this holiday the best it can be. If I’m going to have memories, I want them to be good. I hope each of your’s are good too. Memories are important and they are onre thing we have the power to change as we live them. Be safe, be happy, make good memories!

Merry Christmas.

Tia