Dear Ma, Thanks for the air conditioner!

a rose for Ma

a rose for Ma

We’re enduring a very humid heat wave.  Ugh.  I left Arizona eons ago and hate heat!  The humidity is an unwelcome bonus.

But Mom gave me a fabulous air conditioner for my 50th birthday some years ago.  The a/c saved my sanity then and now.  Probably saved Big Mister’s sanity because it saved mine.  If you get my drift.

Thanks, Ma!


sunday sorrow

Watching lives being dismantled, to be re-assembled in new forms, tears my knowing to shreds.  Mom is in the rehab place and BJ, her roommate of 30+ years prepares to leave their home since Mom will not be returning.

To see that house disheveled with evidence of packing and lightening the load rips out the roots I had established there, unknowingly.

The story of this house begins in the 1930s at the purchase of these unimproved, timbered 10 acres by Mom’s family.  It continues to 1981, when Mom and BJ left Arizona to move to these 10 acres and make a home there.   I was a part of that even though I had finished college and was contemplating staying in Tucson for grad school.   Somehow, the power of time had the three of us moving north, although I would be continuing to Alaska.

We drove in caravan:  Mom’s VW camper van, BJ’s truck pulling a small mobile home, and a large rented truck.  I wasn’t particularly present for the trip or maybe I was inexperienced enough in road trips that I didn’t know how stressful the trip was.   Lots of vignettes from that time, especially the getting separated in one strange town.  No cell phones at that time.  The winds that would punish each vehicle and strain each driver’s ability to stay on the road.

The arrival to see a vegetation-blocked entry to the property.  The clearing of space.  The hauling water.  A couple of weeks after arriving with them, I flew to Alaska and found home unexpectedly as I left the plane door and hesitated on the jet stairs.  Looking at those snow-capped mountains and the ocean.  Feeling the 40-degree October weather and wondering how I was going to survive the cold.  But also knowing in my bones that I was home.

Visiting Mom and BJ frequently and seeing, and helping with, the homesteading of those 10 acres.  Hauling stumps out of the ground, chaining them to the truck bumper, and then riding the damn things to the dumping ground.  Going home to Alaska and feeling bemused that my mother was homesteading and I wasn’t — and here I was in Alaska, where it’s expected!

Mom designed the house, by hand, on graph paper.  She considered the sun and shade and the correct angling of the house, and where the gardens should be.  Within 5 years of arriving on that overgrown land, the house was built.  There I visited until this February. I know that house almost as well as any dwelling of mine.  I knew where the cling wrap was and how to find the spare light bulbs.

After I got laid off in February 2010, I was able to visit Mom much more frequently since I wasn’t spent from giving my energies to an employer.  The year of school got in the way a fair bit:  I commuted on awful freeways and was always beaten up and tired.  Once I recovered from that, I got to see Mom almost once a week, for which I am grateful.

Mom will move this week to a new place that is an hour, plus two hideous freeways, north of me.  She will be within a few minutes of my sister and her family so at least she can have visitors.  I need to stay away from germy places until I have an immune system again.

On Sunday, yesterday, Big drove me to Mom’s house so I could say goodbye to BJ.  She and I have shared plenty over many years, including one Arizona mountain camping trip where my 65-lb dog got bitten by a rattlesnake and we had to carry him out of the remote area where we’d been hiking.   My neck still hurts.  Maybe that’s where all the neck problems started, with a semi-conscious dog draped around my neck.  My memory tells me it took us 5 days to get out of there, but that is nonsense; it only felt like 5 days.  Pretty sure it was only one long day.

The house has lost its life:  boxes in the great room ready to be loaded into BJ’s truck for the trek back to Arizona, where she will get a motor home so she can tootle around, birding and otherwise being her naturalist self.  Seeing those hollow places in the bookshelves.

Mom’s things where they were sitting when she was hauled to the hospital by ambulance.  For the last time.  We all had hoped so much that she could live out her life in her home, but it was not to be.

Deciding that since the house was going to be people-less later this week, I should take the valuables.  Oh dear.  Wrapping up Mom’s silver, the silver she and Dad had bought eons ago….  Wrapping a small reclining naked lady sculpture, remembering it back 40 or more years.   Packing the computer was easier, no emotions imbued in those electronics.

Looking around at the house, really trying to see beyond the gloss of familiarity in order to choose the valuables to safe-keep.  I left the china and good glass.

Finally sobbing my heart out at the dismantled lives, at the between time, before the lives are rebuilt into new shapes.  Sobbing for myself, for the loss of a place that has had my roots for 30 years.   I did not have roots until Alaska and I severed those in 1998, the phantom feelings of that amputation rising and pushing to the fore, the memories of dismantling my life well-lived, with adventures and with love.

Now, four bags of Mom’s belongings here in my house that will be re-united with her other belongings when it’s time.  Mom has already made an inventory of the house and her belongings, and has indicated which kid gets what.  That must be killing my sister, the one who hated it when Mom and I would joke about wanting this or that after the other’s death.  We’d phrase it as:  “Put my sticker on that!”  One time, Mom said she wanted her sticker on my Isuzu Trooper!   And now my sister is in charge of all of this.

I remain a bystander, a never-expected circumstance.  I have had to say no to helping with Mom’s huge transition in order to concentrate on one thing only–regaining my health so that I might have a future.  I have chosen and it is not easy.

This morning, Monday, started difficultly:  as I was responding to Calpurrnia’s order for morning tuna, I stepped on something soft.  Figured it was a worn out catnip mousie.  But from the vantage of my height, it looked wrong.  I picked it up, soft and light; it was a hummingbird.  Just a few days ago I was looking out my recuperation room window and saw a pair of hummingbirds darting around the few new yellow trumpet blossoms on the forsythia.  Another pair of lives dismantled and it is stabbing me with the pain of lost possibility and loneliness.




set faze on stun **

The scene

8:30 pm on a Tuesday at home.  The house is quiet; Big is sleeping since he gets up at 4.

The Players

87 y.o Ma recovering from pneumonia

55 y.o. Kid recovering from sepsis

The phone rings.

55:  [Reeling into the other room to get the phone, but the vertigo is making me hit the walls.  Croaky voice] Hello?

87:  Laurie, I’m desperate.

55:  [oh no, there’s nothing I can do to help in my state!]  What’s up, Ma?

87:  Please put minutes on my phone.  The lady loaned me some so I could call you.

55:  [???!!  I don’t even ask.]  OK.  I’ll do that and call you back.  It should take only a few minutes.

55 spends 1/2 hour battling with the “easy” top-up on the computer, interjecting the same muffled, teeth-clenched Anglo-Saxonism as needed.

Big calls in to ask if it’s working and 55 whines that it’s not, panicking internally because I can’t understand all the words on the screen, and hoping he’ll do it for me even tho’ he really needs to be asleep.  Ah!  I hear him get up and come to the room–I apologize for the noise, and he closes the door!

9:00 p.m.  The phone rings.

55:  [tense voice, but trying to hide it]  Hello?!

87:  I thought I’d better check…

55:  [how is she calling me since she has no minutes on her phone, which I can plainly see on-screen?!!!]  Yes, I’m having trouble, so give me a few more minutes.

55 is starting to get a headache.  Called customer good-luck-finding-service and got it straightened away.

55 phones 87 and hellos are exchanged.

55:  Ma, you’re all set.  The phone people said you have to turn off your phone, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on.  Like rebooting your computer.  [Having vision of kicking any phone across the room.]

87:  Red phone.

55:  I’m sorry?

87:  Red phone.

55:  Red phone?  [The Armageddon Red Phone on the President’s desk?!  What?!]

87:  Yes, red phone.

55:  I don’t understand, Mom.  [Brain is pulsing with need to understand and desire to run away.]   Um, Ma what phone are you using right now?  [oh crap, of course she’s using the cell phone because I just called it.  This is hurting my head.]

87:  Little one.

55:  Oh, the cell phone!

87:  Yes!

55:  [Begin to repeat instructions from phone people and am interrupted.]

87:  I close the phone….

55:  No, you have to turn it off…  Oh!  The red phone on the phone!  To turn it off!

87:  Yes!!!

55:  [Trying hard to stay focused on instructions.]  Oh!  Hahaahahahhahhahaahha.  The red phone!  I couldn’t figure out why you were talking about the red phone on the President’s desk!   Hahhahahaaha!  [Completely unable to concentrate.]  Hahahahhaahahaha!

87:  Yes!  Hahahahahahahahah!

55:  Hahahahahahahahahahah!

87:  Hahahhahaaahaha!  Let me catch my breath!  [Pneumonia, remember?]

55:  Hahahhahahahhaa.  OK, all set now?  Haahhahahahhaha.  [Just can’t help it.  I have lost the ability to concentrate on a task.]

87:  Yes, all set.   Hahahhahaha!  Sleep well.

55:  Thank hahahhaaha you.  Haahhaha you hahahahahh too!

Moving the handset toward the cradle, still laughing and can hear Mom laughing still.  Oh how grand to laugh like that with her.  It has been months!

Definitely had a headache, but got through it.   Turns out I was right to conclude that I can barely manage my own life.  Took me 45 minutes to settle down after that.  Agggggghhh!


**  PS.  In case you’re from outta town, the title is a play on an oft-repeated line from the 1960s TV series, Star Trek.

can’t sleep; heart is overflowing

This has been a difficult time and not just for me.  But it’s still about me because I’m sad about my Mom.

She had her 87th birthday in the rehab center last week where she is recuperating from pneumonia.  I think she went into hospital around the 1st of April, but I can’t quite recall.   Tonight when I talked to her I was filled with the feeling that it was the last time I’d talk to her, that she will die from this bout of pneumonia.

Since I need to stay away from care centers and hospitals because my immune system is shot (Big says a visit to one of those places would be me courting a death sentence), I have not seen her since early February, a week before my own hellish roller coaster ride began.

The overflowing sadness is maybe I won’t get to see Mom again before she dies.  How crap is that?  It’s not supposed to be this way.  Of course, she nearly didn’t get to see me again, if you follow.

Big Mister has visited her in hospital and even on her birthday in the care center.  He took her little pastries as birthday goodies.  Will my last visits with Mom be by proxy?  I’m reminded of when Big’s mother was in hospital and dying two Februarys ago–I’d had extensive oral surgery and was on major drugs, so I said goodbye to her by proxy.

I can’t afford to have too many feelings about anything–I have way too much going on just getting through a day.   Can’t help anyone else until I’m whole again.  Can’t be much of a friend.  But I’m sad.  Partial brokenheartedness that is at a distance, the way so much still is for me.

And then, just because Life is full of lifeness as minlit says, BuddyBoop the cat, who adopted us through the kitty door, just came in the house, talking all through the rooms, in his monosyllable questions — Meowr?  Rowr?—  looking for someone, anyone and me responding to each syllable with a quiet BuddyBoop so he’d know where to find a monkey who is awake.  Cat and monkey call and response.

He jumped up here right onto my chest and scooched forward until his 15 fuzzball pounds were sitting almost under my chin (never mind that there was a computer on my lap).   He pressed his forehead against mine for several seconds–a very new thing for him–then turned around and stood on my belly so I was graced with a full view-and-sniff of cat-butt.  Thank you BuddyBoop.

fraility and pink mohawks

Ah, a long, sometimes sad few days.  How wrenching it is to see my elderly injured Mom coping with the long life she has been granted and the indignities that follow one on another.  She gallops toward 87 and assures me that despite these moments she wants to live.

Returning from the hospital on Sunday with me, the Big Mister heard that a friend had died.  This serious motorcyclist had a helmet with a pink mohawk glued to it!

We’re a little subdued and a lot tired, but oozing along anyway.  I am thankful for all this time I’ve had with my Mom–she’s a kick in the pantalones (to quote my sister!) and a fine addition to the Universe!

Thank you, Universe, for bringing me what and whom I need.

Here’s a post that poked me to remember my power and my happiness despite the challenges:    What if you only have 365 days left?

© No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dear Optimists…

The lovely pair over at the blog, Dear Optimists, asked folks to send in happy/optimistic stories.  I sent them a story about Mom and me.   I am delighted to say they published it and Nadia illustrated it!    Complete with my purple hair!

Please cruise around their blog and More

BEST part about being unemployed!

It is spending lots more time with my Mom.  Wouldn’t you want to find out what’s behind that smile??!!

My Mom!

Co-ink-i-dink? I think not!

My Mom has saved bits and pieces of her past lives and passed them to me.   The day before I posted about Italia, I found a stack o’ stuff from her in the Italy section of a dusty bookcase.  Lots of small tourist booklets from Second-World-War-time Italy from my uncle who was an officer in the hospital corps.  There’s a slim volume about Siena, which has been on my list for 10 years.  How is this possible?  (He must have been on leave from North Africa, where he did serve.  Shudder.)

Sometime in my 30s when I had been living the outdoor, self-propelled life in Alaska, I found out something special about a tiny town that I love and where I thought I’d retire–Seward, AK.  My paternal grandmother was shipped to Seward as an unmarried girl who hadn’t quite found a husband yet.  She did find her husband there, my grandfather.

In my late 20s–Mom you started telling me stories then, yes?  Or did I start to listen?–while working as a technical editor, I found out that my mother had worked as a technical editor in the 1960s for Chrysler Missile!  (Chrysler Missile was the reason we moved to Taranto.)  Remember this as the time of NATO, the Cold War, and nuclear attack worries.

My own parents after they were first married in the early 1950s were headed to work in Alaska, but the contract fizzled and they ended up in a more southerly portion of the Pacific Northwest.   I moved to Alaska after college and lived 16 amazing years there.  I’ve been gone for 13 years and I’m still homesick.

I used to be amazed by these co-ink-i-dinks, but now I am rather blase (where’s the acute accent here?) and just find that the revelations give more structure to my life.

©  No Stealing!  That’s what the little c in the circle means!
© lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to lahgitana and Rockin’ the Purple with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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