“By contemplating the impermanence of everything in the world, we are forced to recognize that every time we do something could be the last time we do it, and this recognition can invest the things we do with a significance and intensity that would otherwise be absent. We will no longer sleepwalk through our life.” ~ William B. Irvine


Freshly Cut Pink Peonies
                   

“And the hands pick flowers
And the soul takes no notice.” ~ Fernando Pessoa

Peony Rose by MinimialistPhotography101.com (Flckr creative commons)

Saturday, early evening. Sunny and mild, 71° F

What a long strange week it’s been. Corey worked two double shifts, and as a result, is dead tired. Brett finished his exams for spring semester and is now preparing to take the summer off from studies. He finished the year with a 3.5 GPA, an A-/B+, which I think is terribly impressive.

Eamonn did not do as well, although he did do better than he has been doing. I’m not sure if his GPA will be strong enough for him to transfer to ODU this semester, but we are going to apply in the hopes that he can get in. I really think that he would like ODU better than community college as it will feel more like he is in college than continuing high school.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the U.S., and I am really not looking forward to it, mostly for reasons that I will elaborate on further later. I was hoping that we would have the pool open for Mother’s Day, but it doesn’t look as if that’s going to be possible. We had to order a part for the filter (luckily under $10), and that hasn’t arrived yet. Of course, not having the pool cleaned hasn’t stopped Tillie from accidentally/on purpose jumping into the pool and making big splashes. She is growing impatient with us as she is obviously ready for swimming season.

“The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.” ~ Basso

Mobara Peony Garden Mobara-shi (city), Chiba-ken,(Prefecture), Japan by TANAKA Juuyoh FCC

On Friday, I went to see my other m-in-law at the rehab center. Ann, my sister-in-law told me on Wednesday that Yvonne will not be coming home. She has stopped trying to feed herself, and she won’t do physical therapy. She has also been having problems with swallowing. I had planned to visit on Thursday with Ann, but unfortunately, I had one of my sleepless nights and was completely out of it Thursday morning. Amazingly, Alexis went with her Aunt Ann to visit.

Since I wasn’t sleeping, I called our s-in-law in Germany at 2:30 a.m. (8:30 their time). Ann had called last time, so I told her I would do it this time. She seem prepared for the news. Her own mother had died of Parkinson’s about five years ago, and Helma had been the primary caretaker. The plans are for the Germans to come at the end of July; we’re all hoping that they will not have to come sooner.

I cut some fresh peonies from the front yard and took them with me when I visited. Yvonne has always loved peonies. When I arrived at 11:30, my m-in-law was still asleep in bed. Her nurse came in and asked me if I would mind leaving the room for a bit as she was going to get her up and dressed so that she could go to speech therapy for lunch.

We went to the speech therapy room on the first floor, and the therapist put my m-in-law’s food tray in front of her. She reached for the fork and began to feed herself. I have never been so glad to see such a small victory in my life. She did really well, but got tired about half way through, so I fed her the rest of her lunch. She had no problems in swallowing anything.

After her meal, of which she ate almost all, I took her back to the room, and we talked. She was very coherent and not her usually mumbling self. I told her about all of the outrageous hats at the royal wedding, and she laughed. We talked about the flowers that are in bloom, and a few other things, and for the most part, she was with me.

It’s probably one of the best conversations that I’ve had with her in a while.

“I don’t trust the truth of memories
because what leaves us
departs
forever ” ~ Anna Kamienska, from “A Path in the Woods”

Peonies at Window by Muffet (FCC)

Unfortunately, as I was getting ready to leave, I leaned in to hug and kiss her, and she jumped. I had scared her; then she told me something that really bothered me. I won’t go into the details because it’s private, but the gist is that she thinks someone is coming into her room at night.

Now ordinarily I might say that it’s the dementia that was talking, but I don’t think so. She was completely coherent and cogent the entire time we were together. She remembered names, and she even asked how her old house was doing without her.

I had to stop myself from marching down to the administrator’s office and raising hell as it isn’t my place to do so. But I didn’t want to leave her alone. These are the very reasons that so many people do not feel comfortable in placing their elderly and disabled relatives in homes. What goes on when you aren’t there?

The population in rehabilitative facilities is completely at risk in so many ways: fires, natural disasters, caregivers who do not care, and caregivers who abuse.

I am sick with anger, sick with guilt over my helplessness in this situation. This is not how I want this woman to spend her final days. No one deserves to be helpless, at the mercy of people who ignore their plights, or worse, who take advantage of such helplessness. I debated whether to call Ann, who was on her way to Blacksburg to pick up my niece from Virginia Tech. Finally, I called. At the very least, she could make a telephone call and request that her mother not have a male nurse.

I mean, if it is dementia, which is what abusers hope such things will be chalked up to, and it is merely a male nurse who is getting her ready for bed, then if she doesn’t have a male nurse, then she won’t misconstrue the situation. But if it’s something else, it is going to be damned hard to prove.

“At the doorstep you will know
the moment we have
 left to live.” ~ Edmond Jabès, from “The Stranger”

Peonies by Narith5 (FCC)

I just don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to call my ex, but I know that he will not react well, and I don’t know if that would upset my sister-in-law. The family dynamics are so touchy. Ann has been in charge of making all of the decisions as she is the one who has been there full-time caring for her mother.

None of us can be at the facility all of the time. If she really isn’t coming home again, then what is the best thing to do? I cannot stand the thoughts of anyone trespassing on this woman’s privacy, and she has always been a very private, proper woman. At the same time, she was always a woman who took no gruff from anyone.

So you see why Mother’s Day does not really feel like a time to celebrate for me. Eamonn asked me to take him to see his grandmother on Mother’s Day as he was supposed to go with Alexis on Friday morning before he had to go to work, but surprise! She didn’t wake up. I told him that I would take him. Brett is still grappling over whether or not he wants to go. He knows that he should go, but doesn’t know if he is able after how traumatized he was last time.

I cannot really help with this as there is absolutely no way of predicting what shape she will be in on any given day. She could be having a great day, like she did with me, or she could be having a terrible day, like she was earlier in the week. I know that it had to be bad for Ann to go ahead and sign the papers committing her to long-term care, which, by the way, will cost $7,000 a month.

A month. That’s horrible. As long as she still owns half of her house, then Medicaid will consider that an asset. So now the decision over what to do with the house arises: Let my father-in-law have it completely . . . The thought of that really irks me.

“No, none of us seem so very real.
We’re only supporting characters in the lives of each other.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

Pink Peonies in Mason Jar

I haven’t really spoken of my other father-in-law in this blog, and that’s because I lost tremendous respect for him when he walked out on my m-in-law in 1992 for a younger woman with whom he had been having an affair.

He now lives in a big house on the water thanks to the other woman’s money (which she inherited from her dead ex-husband, whom she left for my f-in-law, as well as some money from relatives). This is the same woman (who looks remarkably like Camilla Parker Bowles, I kid you not), who uninvited me from the family party last summer, so definitely no love lost between us.

Anyway, my ex-f-in-law doesn’t need the money from the house my m-in-law was living in as he is taken care of quite well. He has half of his Navy retirement, half of his school retirement, and all that he does any more is hang out on the back porch and smoke (his health has declined badly, as well).

I don’t hate the man; I loved and admired him greatly at one time. But I have never forgiven him for what he did to my m-in-law. It’s that blind loyalty thing of mine kicking in once again. That and the fact that he completely lost contact with his grandchildren when he left. At the time, the boys were babies, but Alexis was used to spending time with her grandfather, and he made no effort to do anything with her, not until years later after he married his true love and they set up in the big house.

Bitter? A wee bit.

” . . . the old heart

In which I sleep, in which my sleep increases, in which
My grief is ponderous, in which the leaves are falling,
In which the streets are long, in
which the night

Is dark, in which the sky is great, the old heart
That murmurs to me of
what cannot go on,
Of the dancing, of the inmost dancing.”  ~ Mark Strand, from “Dark Harbor: A Poem”

Pale Pink Peony in Bloom by Muffet (FCC)

Family dynamics are so hard and so complicated, a bit like eggs really. Eggs in the wild bring new life, but cracked, the process of development stops abruptly. Conversely, the eggs that we eat become stronger when immersed in hot water, as if the very process of being exposed to harsh elements toughens both the outside and the inside.

People can be fragile, or they can be tough, and sometimes, they can be both at the same time. Put into a basket together, some fare better than others, as is the case in families.

We come together, and at times it can be precarious, and sometimes it seems as if we are safer when we are apart. But who among us does not sigh a bit sadly when coming upon a small blue cracked egg upon the ground beneath a tree because we know that but for the elements or the creatures in the night, a baby robin’s song would have become part of the background music of life.

Sorry, a bit sappy, I know.

More later. Peace.

Music by A Fine Frenzy, “Hope for the Hopeless”

                    

What Kinds of Times are These

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

~ Adrienne Rich

Advertisements

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl

   

Hermosa Beach Sunset, Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Josoroma

   

“Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.” ~ Bob Dylan
Two Columns by Sergio Tudela on Flckr (Creative Commons)

So I’m sitting here at Corey’s computer trying to put together a post. My own computer is still on the fritz. The part has been ordered, but has yet to arrive. I sat here yesterday to try to create a post, but the Internet kept shutting off, which eventually made me give up in my quest.   

It’s been over two weeks since my last post, or rather notice about no posts. Thanks to those of you who contacted me to let me know that you were thinking about me and felt my pain. After one of my most prolific months on record (June), I now face July with very little time left and a loss of my rhythm. Posting on other people’s computers is indeed possible, but a bit annoying for several reasons:   

  • All of my image files are on the dead computer
  • My bookmarks to my quote sites are on the dead computer
  • I am not used to Corey’s desk set up and find it very uncomfortable; i.e., his screen is far back on the deak and tilted at a strange angle; his chair does not have all of the squishiness of my chair; his keyboard is stiff not supple like mine, and he has no wrist wrest on which to perch my aching mouse wrist.

Yes, these are minor, somewhat silly things, but ask anyone who writes, and I would bet that to a person any of them would say that they have a preferred room in which to write, a preferred position in which to sit, preferred this . . . preferred that . . .   

“It’s old light, and there’s not much of it. But it’s enough to see by.” ~ Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
Dusk on Monterosso, Liguria, North Italy by Celerrimus on Flckr (Creative Commons)

You may be wondering what’s been happening since I last posted (I know that you’ve probably been stopping by every day just hoping to catch a glimpse of some new insights from my wandering brain . . . or not).   

Well, the Germans were here for 10 days, and of course, the time passed much too quickly. This year, my s-i-l Helma decided that they would rent a beach house to stay in so that my m-i-l wouldn’t have her routine disrupted. The house was in West Ocean View, and I have to say that it was really nice. I would live there in a heartbeat.   

No Busch Gardens trips this year as there was no time or money, but Corey promised Phillip that they would go next year. Phillip begins university in October. He plans to study to become a teacher.   

His sister Hannah was her usual quiet self while here. Apparently she has a boyfriend back in Germany, and this was there first time apart. Ah, young love.   

Anyway, we all got together a few times, had the usual family spats (I was not involved in the big one). Found myself not invited to one family part and felt rather foolish for presuming that it was implicit that I was invited. The slight came from my f-i-l’s second wife, the step grandmother to my children. Everyone assumed that Corey and I were invited as ours is a pretty relaxed family, one that does not stand on ceremony. Not-so-much with she-who-will-not-be-named.   

Whatever. I’m over it now, but I was mightily put out when it happened. Next time, perhaps, if she wants to be so formal, she should send out engraved invitations . . .   

“every day, every day i hear
enough to fill
a year of nights with wondering.” ~ Denise Levertov
Narnia by Jurvetson on Flckr (Creative Commons)

Other than that, life has been relatively the same since last I wrote: I’m still having daily headaches, some pretty painful, and sleeping has become an exercise in futility.   

Corey is still only working three maybe four shifts a week. He did get a call from a shipping company, but they wanted someone with their license, which Corey does not have because of the paperwork snafu. Because the designated examiners who signed off on his paperwork did not bother to refile their own paperwork, they were not considered designated examiners by the USCG, which means that all of the sign-offs that Corey worked for are void. This is the third time that he has been unable to take a job that he is qualified for but for which he holds no license. So very, very frustrating.   

Working on getting the boys ready for school this fall. Almost completed all of the various forms. I still need to get Brett to the eye doctor as he is having trouble seeing. Since everyone else in the family (save Corey) wears glasses/contacts, I thought that it was only a matter of time before Brett had problems. Unfortunately, I was correct. Have to save up money for an examination and the glasses. Hooray. Another debt.   

Eamonn is still working at his part-time job at the pool store, and Alexis is still working at the thrift store. More hooray. Brett is looking into trying to find a work study position at ODU for the fall.   

Once we get everyone back into school and into some sort of routine, perhaps then we can continue to work on getting the rest of life back to normal. Who knows?   

We did spend three days doing intensive cleaning before the Germans arrived. We can actually eat meals at the dining room table, and the living room has been greatly decluttered (for us). I watch that Hoarders show on The Learning Channel, and in the back of my mind I always think, “Am I a hoarder?” Then I look closely at how hoarders live, and I realize that no, I’m not a hoarder, but admittedly am a clutterer. One man’s insanity is another woman’s neurosis.   

Just wanted to get something up. I feel as if I’ve been out of it for so long, and it’s really bothering me. Perhaps I can adjust my psyche to work in a foreign zone for just a bit longer.   

More later. Peace.   

Music byMichael Andrews, “Mad World.” How appropriate . . .