Archive | March 2013

Wheels

I’ve been keeping pretty quiet lately.  You know the old saying – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  I prefer the Dorothy Parker quote – if you can’t say anything nice, come sit by me.

And then the sun started shining which in this city, is always a boost to the spirits.  Yesterday, a friend took my son to the petting zoo with his daughter and I had the whole morning to myself.  Ooooh, freedom!  I had a brisk walk with the dog, went through a car wash (no line up and for free with Esso points – score!), vacuumed the front hallway and washed my hair!  What a day, what a day!  Then I made lunch for the munchkins and a healthy salad for the grownups. Oh,yes, I thought I could have spent the time doing so many other things, like having a coffee and reading the paper, but I knew I’d regret it later.

I announced the other day to DH that I had had enough of f/t parenting, so I was going to look for one day a week daycare.  An entire day.  Have no idea of where or how yet, but I’ve got to make it happen.  I hope there is such a thing.  Boo has been on a 2 week spring break and he’s bored stiff with me.  We’ve been able to visit friends and have some fun, but apparently he wants entertainment all day long.  This is the downside of having one child with no nearby friends.  He can entertain himself for short periods of time but he’d rather be with someone his own age or at least someone who has an interest in jumping on the couch.  He’s 3 yrs old and he hits the ground running in the mornings.  Unlike his crabby mum.  I have signed him up for another preschool program on the days he won’t be in preschool over the bridge and there’s also preschool 3 days a week in the fall.  So I’ll still have time with him for adventures twice a week.  I do like hanging out with him but I get lonely for adult time or the ability to run errands minus the whining.  On this 2 week break, I find myself staring at the front door willing hubby to walk in.  And then I Boo and I vie for his attention.  I lose every time.  We seem to have returned to our old routine of being burnt out and retreating to our respective corners after the kid is in bed.  Remember when I said the wheels will start falling off?  Well, I’ve dropped one wheel already.  I’ve got to take care of myself.

And there’s also the issue of earning more money. It’s hard to watch others go on vacation and buy new cars and we’re just treading water so to speak.  Unless your spouse makes 6 figures, it’s hard to get ahead on one income.  Hubby is making grim predictions about his industry and he’s self employed which means of course, that job security is non-existent. The film and movie industry in this town if you haven’t heard is about 90% unemployment.  And of course, we just moved…. incurring more expense in one of the most expensive cities to live in Canada.

Things are returning to somewhat normal, now that the relatives have gone.  My blood pressure had shot up to 135 over whatever and now it’s down to 105.  Mum is doing well surprisingly.  She has everyone scratching their heads.  She’s supposed to be receiving palliative care, but she doesn’t really look like she’s dying.  I have to laugh really.  It`s like mum is saying I’ll go when I am good and ready thank you.  Nice of mum to give me a dress rehearsal.  I come from strong people.  I asked her the other night if she was afraid of dying.  She said no.  I told her not to worry; it was like taking off a tight pair of shoes.  Not that I know anything, but if anyone deserves a nice, long rest, it’s her.  When I think of all she survived, it makes me hang my head in shame at all my whinging.  She suffered breakdown after breakdown, degradation and heartache.  I knew she didn’t want her daughters to suffer similar fates.

Today I found out my father, whom I haven’t seen in over a decade, is coming to see my mum.  His presence is not welcome.  I knew in my gut that this day would come, I just hoped that I didn’t have to deal with in a time of such uncertainty.  Karma, friggin’ karma.  Another wheel just fell off.

Adoption reality show?

Have you seen the show, “I’m Having Their Baby”?  It’s on Slice TV or Oxygen.  I wanted to watch it with DH, but he had absolutely no interest in it. Of course, I hated the title because it was obviously not about paid surrogates, but women who have chosen adoption instead of parenting.  Also they always used the phrase “*** days before adoption”.  Well, no, it’s not 3 days before adoption, it’s 3 days before the baby is born and it’s not like even if the birthmother leaves the baby with the adoptive parents at the hospital that it’s a done deal.  That just drives me nuts.  Last time I heard, adoption orders are not done by the judge in the waiting room of a hospital.

I thought it was a great idea mainly because I thought it was great to see things from a birthmother’s point of view and also how different adoption can look depending on the circumstances and the people involved.  I’ve only seen a few episodes and not recently (not sure if it’s still airing) but I can’t seem to find full episodes online anymore.  At least they can’t be viewed from Canada. Did anyone see it?

Waiting

Confession time.  During the past few weeks, it’s occurred to me more than once, that I kinda wish my mum had passed on.  Not cause I want her to die but because I knew the kind of family crap that was going to surface in the interim.  I just wanted it done.  Like ripping off a band-aid.  I can operate on all 4 cylinders, grace under pressure, that’s me.  But I can only do it for so long.  Then the wheels will come off, one at a time.  All the questions about how long she has left,  the realization that despite all the dramatic pronouncements she shows no signs of shuffling off this mortal coil any time soon, the funeral plans, the constant updates, the phone calls, ohmigod the phonecalls, the texts, the Pain Olympics that went on with my sisters, my husband co-opting my anger,  my father threatening to show up  (where there’s a will, there’s relatives), the juggling of family needs and schedules, the driving (oh, the driving) the guilt, the fatigue, unpacked boxes and the hours flying by, that drawn own weariness that sets in when the adrenaline is spent, that vague sense of loss that has haunted me for 9 years… oh the complexities of human reality.  No, I told my niece, life isn’t fair.  It’s just life.  I stopped asking, “why?” a long time ago.

I stopped by a friend’s place before I went home from seeing mum the other night and she shared with me her terrible weekend.  I hugged her and cried for all her stress and worry and then she asked me about my day and I told her that I (along with my sister) had planned my mother’s funeral.  And we broke up in laughter.  That’s probably why we’re friends. My husband and I giggled over the air miles promotion the funeral home had on cemetery purchases.  That’s probably why I married him.

Just a month ago, it was status quo with my mum, as it had been for years.  Bits and pieces of her dropping away with the dementia, but we had always found a way to connect, to find our moments as mother and daughter.  Then she’s in the hospital and it’s she’s not going to make it, no, she’s fine, nope, back to being on her deathbed.  And now it’s kind of weird, it feels like I’m keeping vigil even though I she’s eating and drinking and is the same as she was a month ago.   Her body is wasting, and she’s at an operational level of a 11 month old with a long, friggin’ memory.  Okay, maybe even a little better with tweaking of the mental health meds to keep her from hollering too much.  I could tell she really enjoyed having my sister here for the week, keeping her company and playing music and sermons.    Each of us has their own perspective of this whole journey.  Each one is valid. I’m trying to create value despite my own issues.

I’m back to that space when she first had a stroke and the first thing on my mind in the morning was her and the last thought I had before going to sleep was her. How could I find the way to fix her?  Yet now, I am no longer under the illusion that I can fix her.  That I can rescue her.   At least she’s not in pain.  I’m truly grateful for that.

I wonder if she knows why she’s getting all this extra attention from everybody.  Would it make a difference to her?  Every now and again, she sings a few words from a song, her voice shaky but still strong.  She looks at me and nods her head.  I was trying to show her a picture on my phone and she put up her hand and cried out, no, no, no.  She didn’t want her picture taken.  Still vain.  An awareness of how she looked.  Mum’s still in there.

Waiting.

And now for something completely Buddhist

Just a reminder to myself really.  When I moved to the west side tothat tony island-like enclave up the hill, you see a lot of Lexus, Mercedes, Range Rovers and the ubiquitous BMW X5.  Something I never really put a lot of time thinking about until I was surrounded by them driving down the tree lined streets, renovated Craftsman style homes sprinkled here and there.  When we were chilly in our old, non insulated “cute” house and put up plastic on our thin “heritage” style windows, I would look out and imagine that we would buy in that overpriced part of town and I would wear Hunter boots one day as well.  I will miss the proximity to my beloved endowment lands where I could walk and forget about my troubles for a bit, I would remember the walks with my old dog and the old dreams I had when I walked through those patches of where all of a sudden you feel a pocket of warm and you can smell the earth.  I struggled and fought against the demands of SAHMhood, wife and dutiful daughter.  The part of me that never followed schedules and never adored the domestic part of life that other women seemed so at ease with.  The only tether to the ground I had was nam myo ho renge kyo and the promise, the prayer, the daimoku that I could indeed increase my capacity to handle whatever life’s hardships came my way and find happiness.  A measure of peace for a mind that chatters incessantly with doubts and fears and insecurities.  Despite all my grousing and bitching and wailing, I have enjoyed so much more than I have suffered.  Learning how to throw a punch made my big middle aged ass jiggle with joy.  There can be Buddhahood in anger, let me tell you.

So I will discover new paths on the North Shore.  I have friends to meet and friends to make.  Even squeezed in a visit from my Buddhist pals to welcome me to the new district.  They brought tulips for me and I made tea and we talked.  So  comforting.   I’ve found a short trail so far that takes us underneath the highway.  Juju of course is not crazy about it too much because a skatepark is nearby and she HATES skateboards.  It’s like her kryptonite.  There’s a lot of big box stores, but there’s also free parking which should save me a bundle.  I can’t leave my trash outside on the deck cause there’s bears to consider apparently, so that’s something new.  I huff and puff pushing a 35 lb boy in a stroller uphill so there’s my next project – get in shape so I don’t get passed over by a senior with walking poles.  There’s a Starbucks and an organic market within walking distance so that will help.  I’ve yet to find some great sushi (we are very picky) but I have found the holiest of grails in a nearby L.ondon Drugs, the drugstore, the convenience store with everything from chocolate to firelogs to computers. Mum is not too far, I can get downtown across the bridge in 15 minutes if the lights are with me.

I will eventually get everything unpacked and put away.

Yesterday, I made funeral plans for my mother.  It’s all good.  I can do this.

 

Faith enables us to receive the eternal joy derived from the Law. So let us
engrave in our hearts this point: We ourselves receive this joy. Because we
receive it ourselves, our happiness does not depend on others. No one else can
make us happy. Only by our own efforts can we become happy.
Therefore, there is no need to feel envious of others. There is no need to bear a grudge against someone or depend on another person for our happiness. Everything comes down to our state of life. It is within our power to take our lives in any direction we wish.

To be dragged around by other people or the environment is not the way
of life the Lotus Sutra teaches. True happiness is not feeling happiness one
moment and misery the next. Rather, overcoming the tendency to blame our
sufferings on others or on the environment enables us to greatly expand our
state of life.

—-Daisaku Ikeda

The respite is almost over

My eldest sister came for a day and a half with her eldest daughter.  I’m not sure why she thought that would be enough time to spend with her dying mother(don’t get me started), but for one moment, we had all of us around my mother’s bedside.  It was a nice moment, a Lavender Luz kind of perfect moment really and I actually wish we could have taken a photo.

It’s hard to believe actually that she’d supposedly on her last days.  She certainly didn’t seem like it last night.  My younger sister moved to a hotel close to my mum’s care home so she could spend all her time with her.  I came by later in the evening and we sat there playing old tapes and chatting with mum.  A lot of what she said was unintelligible but she was very alert and she grabbed my hand.  It seemed as if she was truly enjoying the company.  I didn’t stay long, it almost seemed as if I was encroaching on their time together.  I hurried home, picking up milk, eggs and takeout for hubby and I.  Boo was already in bed. I’ve missed a lot of bedtimes for him lately.

The other night, I had bit of a breakdown when I got home from having a bite with my sister.  My eldest sister and niece had already left early that morning and it was already dawning on me that my younger sister would soon be leaving.  And then I’d be all alone.  I mean, I know I’m not alone, but I mean, it’s all back on me.  Yes, of course DH is by my side, but you know what I mean?  It’s back to being on me when I know she may have a month left, maybe more, maybe less.  It just hit me.  Yes, I was feeling sorry for myself.  I just feel down on my knees with my head on the end of the bed and cried big ole’ fat tears for myself.  All I could think was I still have boxes in my living room, I still had to drive my child over the bridge to preschool and walk the dog and go grocery shopping and clean the house and go back to work and maybe audition again and oh, yeah, spend my free time visiting my dying mum.  As in, it’s back to business as usual except with a cruel twist. I’d be sure to get the how’s mum texts or phone calls to remind me that though I am a Gemini, I am actually not two people.  I can’t sit with her for six hours a day reminiscing about the past she remembers and playing music for her.

I’m not sure how I’m going to keep this up, but I suppose I’ve had 9 years of practice so I suppose this should be a snap.

 

Staying present

Thanks everyone for their encouragement and support and prayers for me.  It is like my own support team.  I am so lucky to have support in real life and url life.

This is going to be tough for me.  Staying present.  My tendency at the end of the day is to stuff my face with sweets and drink to replace unpleasant emotions.  The dull ache.  And for the last two solid weeks, that’s what I’ve been doing.  My mum’s room at the home has a picture of my younger sister and I with her.  I was plump as they say.  Pretty sure I’m on that road now, but I’m getting off.  As my husband reminded me, diabetes and high blood pressure runs in my family and they all got it later in life.  As in the part I’m approaching now.  Since I’m an actress, I’m going to pretend I eat better.

The sun was shining brightly on the North Shore on Sunday(after days of constant rain) and we went for a walk after a hearty restaurant breakfast (no, I did not order the heart healthy option).  We found a short trail five minutes from where we live, and I felt that feeling again.  The one I always feel when walking in the endowment lands.  Relief when the blood flowed through my aching stiff muscles, the promise that life is good because I could still breathe and move and walk.   Moving my body always helps to keep my present.  If only to remind me that everything friggin’ hurts – but in that good way.  Like when I land a left cross and I hear the satisfying smack in the sparring mitt.  I don’t have to think about anything but the next punch, the right position, the right defence, the right offence, and no one is pulling at me for anything.  It’s just me and my aching body, sore joints and the power of my punch. In the moment, not thinking six moves ahead, not thinking about what to make for dinner.   I can’t do that right now, though, I’ve got my younger sister here now and my older sister coming (for a 1 1/2 days….don’t get me started) and I have to plan a funeral.  And go to my mum’s storage (and I can’t find the damn keys to the locker cause I just moved, people.)

I whispered daimoku as I fell asleep last night, almost catatonic from the day’s efforts.  Mum is going back into the home because she doesn’t require the medical care that a hospice usually provides and yet I know the home cannot provide the level of care that I would like her to have.  So it looks like I’ll be hiring an additional care aide.  Sigh.  Cause after it’s all said and done and my sisters go home (and if mum is still around), then it’s back on me to keep an eye on her.  And then there’s my son, the dog and the rest of my life demanding my attention.  My only  mission to comfort her and keep a smile on my face until she decides to leave this earth.  Oh, yes, I will still try to create value when the sisters converge this week, but I’m holding fast to completing my final task as a daughter to my mum.

 

 

The work begins

Just when I thought it was safe to go back to griping…..I have some crappy news.  My mum is actually dying sooner rather than later.  A doctor called me from the hospital at home (that should have been my first clue) and we set up a meeting the next day.  She was lovely actually, a South Asian woman with close cropped white and black hair who basically told me that they could not longer treat mum with fluids as her veins had collapsed and with her advanced dementia she would not survive much longer.  I had my sister on speakerphone.  It took me a few beats actually to get what she was saying.  You know doctors; they tell you the medical facts and then double shift to a new paragraph without actually using the words you need to hear.

In most cases diabetes insipidus can be treated, but in her case, her brain doesn’t recognize and regulate thirst anymore.   Her kidneys are just releasing water not keeping it and we all know that we cannot live without water.  So, why not just make her drink water?  Well, she couldn’t possibly drink enough to keep up and as my husband put it, it’s like trying to fill a swimming pool that has a hole in it.  Bless him.

So.  It could be days or it could be weeks. We talked for about an hour about mum, what she was like, the type of woman she was.  It was really nice.  She even shed a tear when I told her the story of our stroll down Robson St, hand in hand, mother and daughter in colour coordinated outfits.   Then I stopped in for a bit to say hi to mum and then I called my husband.  He told me that I shouldn’t go to work the next day.  Funny, being self employed, it never occurred to me to not go into work.  So when I arrived I told the manager I couldn’t work the next couple of days.  I made it through my shift and when I got home, I put down my purse, took off my coat, climbed the stairs and fell into my husband’s arms sobbing.

And now the work begins.  You know, the phone calls, the arrangements, the family drama,  the driving, the tidying, the visiting in shifts, the tough decisions that go along with the business of caring for a dying loved one.