While she no longer has the strength to speak, she knows we are there. Her eyes, brown and deep set have always been framed by glasses. I don’t remember a time when she didn’t wear them. I’ve seen pictures of when she was young and I’m always taken aback by the lack of glasses on her face. Now she opens her eyes wide and we get very close to her, so she can see us. As her eyes focus on our faces, she smiles weakly. I see her through teary eyes. I hear her voice in my head, “Don’t cry”. This is what she would say to me, whenever the subject of her death came up in our weekly phone calls. I’d get quiet and she’d say “Are you crying?” No, I’d say, in a voice full of tears. In her calm Mom voice, she’d say “Don’t cry”. It always made me cry harder, just like I am doing now.
After days of keeping a family member in the room with 24/7, she took the 10 minutes when my sister and I stepped out to go to the cafeteria, to take her last breath. Coincidence or did she bestow on us her last motherly protection? We have no memory of watching her take her last gasping breath. There was no dashing into the hallway, calling for a nurse. Did she open her eyes on last time? Was there pain in those last seconds? All of that has to be left to our imagination, our final memories only include the appearance of her gently sleeping. I prefer to think of it as one last gift she gave us.
Pip took a bad fall coming up the backstairs this morning. She would only sit by my side and moved very slowly when she did walk, so we knew something was hurting her - off to the vet we went. After examining her and doing a lot of manipulations, they said she didn't break anything and the vet couldn't find any sensitive position. All good news, so we came home with a pain med for her. She is doing much better. She is still walking more slowly, but she did jump up on the bed and walk down the stairs, neither of which she was willing to do this morning.
While we were there, the vet noticed a swollen lymph node in her neck. And checking her teeth (which need cleaning), they found a very loose tooth that needs to be pulled. It is on the same side of body as the swollen node, so it is most likely in response to it. Pip does need a good teeth cleaning and probably at least one tooth pulled - it's very loose. We had them do the blood work, so we can schedule the cleaning/extraction. It the swelling is caused by the tooth, it might take a month or so to do down. Since the cleaning probably won't be scheduled for a couple of weeks, that means we would have to worry about the problem being more serious, i.e. cancer. So we agreed to having it aspirated and checked. We should know in a couple of days what's going on.
It was only a few months ago that Jake (the Abomination) had surgery to remove a foxtail from his nose. The poor little boy would sneeze 8 and 9 times in a row several times a day. Now Pip is on track to costing us even more than Jake. We love our pups, even when (or in spite of) dinging our budget.
1. Lewis Brother's Shoe store - receptionist in children's department
2. Quality Control Enumerator - 1980 US Census
3. Sear Portrait Studio Manager/District Manager
4. City of Oakland
a. Recreation Specialist - Studio One
b. Administrative Assistant - Information Technology,
Housing and Community Development, Human Services,
There was a moment in this movie when I thought maybe there would be exploding heads and it cracked me up. It did not happen, but when you see the movie, you too might think such a thought.
A simple acknowledgment of the passing of Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin felt right.
The Abomination (aka Jake) periodically, will gain access to Pip's bowl when it still has some food in it. By the time I move him away, and take up the bowl, he has stuffed his mouth full. Then he moves a couple of feet away and deposits his stolen nuggets on the floor. The pile that spills out of his mouth is larger than I have any reason to believe would fit in that tiny cavity. Therefore, I have decided that Jake has a Tardis mouth - much bigger on the inside than on the out. He earns his name, The Abomination, on multiple levels.
At the moment of her death, I became acutely aware of time passage. Each hour, each day, each week, each month, I was aware I was in new territory. Territory where I continued to breathe and she did not. One and a half decades I have been breathing without her. Quickly approaching a quarter of my life has passed without hearing her voice. Without us sharing our old family stories and making new ones. Mom loved to tell stories.
Today I want to share one of her oldest stories that involves me. I was 4 years old. My memory of this event is completely composed of her version. She told this one so often that I feel like it is my memory. There was a neighborhood boy about a year older than I was and he lived a couple blocks over. This was just far enough away that we didn't often play together, but when we did and something made him mad he would reach out and grab my hair and yank really hard. When I got home I would tell mom each time this happened. She was a strong believer in letting kids sort stuff out, so she never intervened by calling his mother.
One windy day she put a hat on me with a strap that went under my chin and snapped on the other side. And sent me out to play with this boy in our backyard. Mom could see us from the kitchen window. After only a few minutes of play, the boy let out a scream. Mom looked up in time to see him reaching for my head, but with the hat there was only a couple of inches of my hair sticking out the bottom. He was screaming in frustration, because he couldn’t get a good handful of my hair and he couldn’t pull the hat off either. Before he could move out of my reach, I grabbed a big bunch of his hair and pulled with all the strength my 4 year old self could muster. He let out a shriek that would "wake the dead" mom said, and ran home. I continued to play happily by myself.
Within minutes the phone rang. The boy's mother was very upset. She yelled at my mom. "DO YOU KNOW WHAT CAROL DID TO MY SON?" My mom calmly said she did and explained what she saw. The woman didn’t believe that her son would ever do something like pull my hair and she blamed it all on me. My mom didn’t accept my guilt, but pacified the woman by saying she would talk to me. As my mom took my hat and coat off, she said I should never start a fight, but if someone else started a fight, I should defend myself and end it as quickly as possible. The boy never came to our house again and I was never invited to his.
Over the years, mom would tell this story and she always got a little gleam in her eye and a smile in her voice when she got to the part where I pulled his hair.
Mom, I miss you having my back, no matter what. I miss your stories. I miss you as much today, as the day you died.
By my teen years, I realized he was an alcoholic. Once he retired in 1979, he didn't have anything to stop him from drinking before noon. I moved to California in 1981. He made mom's life pretty miserable, chasing away most of her friends from before they were married. One day in 1996, he got sick and couldn't get out of bed for a couple of days. He went into alcohol withdraw, and when he was so disoriented my mom finally call my sister. Mom was scared to call 911, scared that when he came back to himself, he would be furious with her. My sister didn't have any such fear and off he went to the hospital. He had had a small stroke and he had memory loss from pickling his brain for so many years. He never came home again - spending the last 3 years in a nursing home, walking the locked ward among other patients.
That's the man I knew - a loner, not a leader.
I did a good/bad thing today. On my drive home from work I go by the Oakland SPCA surgery center. I saw a red car drop off a dog and then drive away. The dog tried to run after the car - that broke my heart. Then it was clear the pup had no idea what next to do, because she just stood in the middle of the road. I pulled over and called to her - she came over immediately with tail wagging. I just had to put her in the van - that's the good thing I did AND the bad thing, because it's so easy to fall in love, but we cannot keep her.
She is a dark brindle pit bull. I think she's about 6 or 7 months old. Very people and dog (at least with Pip, who took to her right away) friendly. She is not house broken. I showed her the laundry room and opened the people size door to the back yard, but she pooped in the hallway. She doesn't seem to know any commands and likes to jump up on you. She managed to jump up high enough to touch Guy Thomas lip - and that's quite a distance for her current size. I believe she will be pretty big. She's food focused; don't know about toys because right now she and Pip is each other's toy.
Do you or do you know anyone that would be interested in this cute as a button puppy? We live in San Leandro/Oakand area.
I will have to take her to the SPCA this weekend. We really cannot keep her.
It is NEVER a good time for hospital stays, but I'm finding it very hard right now. Tuesday will be 365 days since Betty died. Calling 911, ER's, hospital rooms, worry, fear, tears, exhaustion, shots of adrenalin followed by a deeper exhaustion and dread. All that plus a few things I don't have words for right now.
Betty's memorial party is less than 2 weeks away now. This morning I woke up from a nightmare that was clearly linked to the stress of preparation. It started with the doorbell ringing. It was one of Betty's co-workers coming to the memorial, but I was completely taken by surprise that she was there. I had no food prepared. The house was not set up for it. At least I was dressed in regular clothes and not in the a quickly thrown on cover up. I tell her to make herself at home and I'd be right back.
Here's where time takes a left. All the rest of this seems to happen in the space of 30 minutes or so.
I go into the kitchen and I'm throwing stuff around at break-neck speed - cleaning and cooking all at the same time. Except I don't have everything I need. I jump in the car and zoom to the store. I remember to buy the onion dip. I wanted to buy lasagnas, but I was having trouble finding the frozen food section. The store was all re-arraigned. I find every other type of frozen entree, but the lasagnas. The whole time I'm wondering why none of my friends, who were scheduled to help, have shown up. I go back home and continue to cook. When I start to put out the onion dip, I realize I forgot the chips. Another jump in the car and a trip to the store. This time I decide I'll make a big salad too, so I run to the produce section, but there are no mushrooms and I decide I can not have a salad without mushrooms, so I nix the salad. I head back to the frozen food section and am desperately look for something else I can throw in the oven. I load the cart up with packages of appetizers.
By the time I get back, a few more people have shown up - again mostly Betty's co-workers. I continue to cook and host the growing number of guests. Still none of my helpers have shown up. Why I didn't try to call any of them, I'll never know, but then dreams are not real life - thank goodness. Next I find myself at my desk and I look at the calendar and discover it's not the correct day for the party. All these people showed up 2 weeks early. That's when I wake up.
29 years ago today, I signed a lease on an apartment with another person for the first time. And we're still together and I've never, for a second, regretted that decision or the multitude of decisions that has brought us to this day. Thank you stonebender for all your support and love all these many years. Love you still and always.