"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Caregiving and Farewell to Fall

I'm being lazy this morning, and feeling a little guilty about not being more productive. It's been a rough week though, and sitting in bed, drinking coffee with my dogs snoring beside me seems like the perfect way to regroup and recharge for the coming week. 

Last Sunday, Mike and I spent 6 1/2 hours in the emergency room with his 88-year old grandmother. A minor injury two days earlier had become a serious concern because of her being on blood thinners. She ended up being admitted to the hospital, something she was adamantly opposed to, and had minor surgery two days later. It's been an emotionally draining experience, trying to balance his grandmother's needs and wishes with what's best for her long term physical and mental well-being. It's put Mike in the unenviable position of  keeping his grandmother hospitalized against her wishes, and of balancing the stresses of being a caretaker along with working over 60 hours a week. She's now recuperating and receiving physical therapy in a skilled nursing facility, and is looking forward to returning home in about a week.

It's been a good reminder for me about the importance of making realistic plans for elder care and end of life decisions. So many people are uncomfortable discussing the specifics of how they want to live out their last days, or unrealistic about making financial provisions for the type of care they want. The sad reality for many elders in this country is that they have no long-term care insurance, and retirement income along with Medicare doesn't provide even close to enough money to enable them to live in their home forever with in-home medical care if needed. Families are then left with the horrible task of trying to find a way to honor the wishes of elderly family members, who are often suffering from some diminished mental capacity, with little or no financial resources to cover the huge expense of needed medical care or homemaking assistance. There are no easy solutions.

This week also brought the first big snowfall of the season. As it always seems to, fall was here and gone too soon. We had gorgeous fall weather this year with beautiful, vibrant leaves and amazing sunsets. I was sad to see the snow fly. Luckily, we were able to take a break from the hospital setting and take my dogs out for a walk on one of their favorite trails just a few blocks away from my house. As we headed back to the car, my nose was numb from the cold and snow flurries were just beginning to fly. As you can see from the pictures, Sophie didn't mind the cold one bit, even though I'm sure the water she was in was very cold!

I'm hopeful things will be  calmer and less stressful this week. This afternoon I'll go outside and finish the last few yard chores I need to get done before winter. Having that off my list will be one less thing weighing on my mind. Then later today Mike and I will head to a black belt party. A friend of his (and fellow blogger, you can check out his blog Tap or Die here) is having a party to celebrate getting his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. It should be fun, and a perfect, stress-free way to end the day. 
Sophie drinking from her favorite watering hole.
Sophie running down the trail. Lucy is in hot pursuit , even though you can't see her.
My gorgeous girl.
Me and my babies, Lucy and Sophie.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Letting Go

More changes and letting go of pieces of my past this week, and I find myself resisting, wanting to hold on, unwilling to face yet farewell. As you can read about in this blog post, my mom and stepdad are moving from their home in Pueblo, Colorado where they’ve lived for the past 17 years.
Our family made memories at 3 Oakbridge Drive, many of them, and I love revisiting the place so many happy moments were shared whenever I returned for a visit. Now, it will be added to the list of places I can return to only in my memories, opening the doors in my mind, mentally visiting each room, recalling all the life that happened there.
However hard it is, these words by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, remind me it’s time to move on, to let go.
In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails are bursting
and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Below are some pictures of some of my favorite times at 3 Oakbridge Drive.

Gillian and Mason making pancakes

Trampoline Time with Uncle Jon

Easter Morning 2009

Saying goodbye to mom on a snowy Easter Day - 2009

LiteBrite and morning scare hair - Easter 2007

Me with Hannah and Gillian - 2003

Easter Egg Hunt

Cousins crashed out in Grandma's living room
Silly sisters in mom's backyard

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Birthday to Gillian

I'll be honest, having a teenage daughter is more than a little challenging, especially when the similarities between her and I are the main reason for the challenges. I'm happy to be raising a smart, observant, independent thinker who is comfortable expressing what she wants, but it does make for some less than peaceful moments at home. Along with the challenges of raising a teenage girl there is also the delight that comes from watching her mature into a young woman, testing, experimenting and learning about the adult person she'll become.  

On Saturday, we celebrated another year of Gillian's life as she turned 14. I was reminded, as I always am on her birthday, what a gift she is to me, and how lucky I am to have a daughter to love, protect and cherish. I'm excited to see the woman she will become, and look forward to watching her experience the next few years of life and all the fun and adventures it will bring.  Here are some highlights from her day.
Presents for the birthday girl. 
Gillian protesting having her picture taken,
and the dogs wishing they could join the fun.
Sophie and Lucy being cute, even in exile.
Birthday breakfast at IHOP
Hunger Games themed birthday cake
Making a wish