“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

“While I fear that we’re drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we’re defined by what embraces us.” ~ J. R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar

Bedruthan Steps by Alex37 (deviantART)

                   

“There were moments, of course. Those small spaces of time,
too soon gone, when everything seems to stand still, and existence is balanced
on a perfect point, like the moment of change between the dark and light when
both and neither surround you.” ~ Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Broken Not Beaten II by Alex37 (deviantART)

Thursday, early evening. A lovely 60 degrees with puffy clouds.

Yesterday, it was 88 degrees and very humid. Today, 28 degrees cooler. I love the temperature change, but I awoke with a killer migraine. No surprise there. I’ve been in bed most of the day, but am feeling a bit better now, so I thought that I would take advantage of the respite.

I had wanted to post yesterday; in fact, I spent an hour collecting images for a post with different quotes, but in the end, I just didn’t have it in me. I think that I was still recovering from two more tests this week: sleep apnea and another GI test, ordered by two different doctors, of course.

The neurologist ordered the sleep apnea test as she thinks that that may be what’s causing my daily headaches (not the migraines). When I looked at the poster in the sleep disorders clinic that listed all of the symptoms of sleep apnea, I had about half. I never really thought that I might have sleep apnea; I suppose it’s because I have always associated sleep apnea with my father. Apparently, Filipinos, especially males, are predisposed to sleep apnea, a particularly dangerous type that causes death.

When I lived with my parents, I remember vividly my father’s snoring: very loud, glass-rattling, and then there would be pauses in which he didn’t seem to be breathing at all. My mother woke him up more than once because of this. I snore, not as much as I used to, but I don’t recall waking up gasping for breath afterwards, which is why I never thought I had sleep apnea. Anyway, the test involved wearing a monitor, a pulse oxymeter, and an air tube in my nose like the kind for oxygen.

When the tech gave me the test kit, she said that I needed to have six hours of uninterrupted sleep. I laughed and told her that I hadn’t had one night of uninterrupted sleep since my first child was born. Typically, I get up at least three times a night, although with the new med that the psychiatrist ordered, and I am sleeping more soundly and am able to get back to sleep pretty quickly after waking.

As for the GI test, it was another one of those that I refuse to talk about. Enough said.

“Any idiot can face a crisis—it’s day to day living that wears you out.” ~ Anton Chekhov

Devon Wildflowers by Alex37 (deviantART)

I’m pretty sure I’ve used this quote before, but it felt very apropos in this particular post. So sue me.

Strange and interesting things are happening in our household now. I need to go back a few weeks: After Corey took the job with PreCon, his Sergeant from the maritime security company told him that he should stay in touch. Then he called Corey and had a long conversation with him in which he said that Corey should really consider coming back.

Apparently, the company is on the verge of getting a major contract that will call for 11 guards, 24-hours-a-day at a shipyard. The job would also require a site supervisor. If the contract came through as described, Corey would be guaranteed 40 hours a week, and almost definitely at least eight hours of overtime. The guy in charge hinted strongly that Corey would be a supervisor if not the supervisor, which would mean more money.

His hourly wage with the security company and with Precon were within pennies of each other. Such a dilemma.Corey had to think long and hard about this, and there were a few factors at play: While he loved being back on the boat, he didn’t much care for the day-work (normally on a tug he worked six on and six off; day work was 12 hours straight). Also, his Coast Guard credentials all need to be renewed, and he wanted to take the mate’s class again since it’s been so long since he drove a boat.

We talked it over, and I think the deciding factor came from me (not intentionally). I told Corey that if he stayed with the maritime security company and had regular hours, he could finally go back to school. More than once we have talked about how if we had known he would not be on a boat for three years, he could have taken the classes to get his associate’s degree, but there was no way of predicting such a thing. The possibility of finally going back to school, one of his longtime goals, really excited him, so he went back to his old job.

The new contract doesn’t start until May, but he wanted to be positioned well so that he could get the supervisor’s job, that and he let the head guy know that he wanted to be involved in the training and hiring, which they seemed to think was a good idea.

So after years of waiting for a tug, he’s postponing going back to sea for at least a year. I think that it’s the right move, and he’s feeling very comfortable with his decision, which is not usually the case as he tends to second-guess himself entirely too much. In the meantime, he can take classes, and he can try to fit in a mate’s training class before renewing his quals with the Coast Guard.
It’s really funny how fate works sometimes.

“I must see new things and investigate them. I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds.” ~ Egon Schiele

Wilderness Twilight by Alex37 (deviantART)

So while some things still suck out loud, one major thing is going in a bold, new direction.

I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who commented and e-mailed me regarding the post I wrote about the situation with Alexis. Your kind words do matter, and I appreciate all of the support.

I went to see my other m-in-law at the rehab place on Tuesday after the GI test because I am a glutton for physical and emotional punishment. When I walked in the room, she was lying on her side weeping. Her glasses were on the floor. I asked her what was wrong, and she said that she just didn’t have any reason to go on.

Intense.

I told her that she did indeed have reasons to go on, that she would be coming home soon, and even though someone would need to stay with her, her garden and all of the flowers in bloom were waiting; her cat was waiting for her. I told her that being home in comfortable surroundings would surely make her feel better.

As I talked, I held her hand and rubbed her arms. She got calmer, and then we talked some more. She mentioned a few names with which I was not familiar, but I pretended to know who they were. Her roommate, who is a chatterbox, talked to me the entire time that I was trying to talk to my m-in-law, which made it hard to hear her as the roommate was talking over her. I made myself be patient and nice as the other woman was obviously lonely, too.

My m-in-law asked where Ann was, and I said that she had taken one of my nieces to North Carolina for spring break, and she said, “Must be nice,” which is the kind of thing she would have said before she got so sick. I told her that I knew the feeling, but we could have wheelchair races down the hall for fun, and she laughed.

When I left, she was asleep and seemed much calmer. I got in the car and turned the music up loud and tried not to think too much about the situation. Part of me wanted to call my ex just to talk about his mother, but there was no point. It would have been a non-conversation. Part of me wanted to call my daughter and say, “Go see your grandmother,” but that, too, would have been pointless. So I just drove home.

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable/move among mysteries.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Little Mis, Dartmoor, by Alex37 (deviantART)

We received a wedding invitation yesterday from Corey’s brother Chad. I am so happy for him that he has finally found a nice woman to be with. His first marriage ended badly, and he dated a few women who were, shall I say, not worthy? But his fiance has two kids, and Chad has a son, and they make a lovely family.

The wedding is in the middle of July, which means a trip to Ohio. The truck still isn’t fixed because we’re still waiting for Ford to come through on the buyout (don’t get me started on this). The Rodeo could make the trip, but it needs a bit of work, and besides, it belongs to Brett, who will get his license at the beginning of July.

I’ve priced flights, and if we stay over on a Saturday, they actually aren’t too expensive (well everything is expensive at this point), but compared to gas prices at nearly $4 a gallon, we really need to think about this.

Oddly enough, my uncle in Orlando called me last week. This is my dad’s older brother. He said that he had a 1999 Ford Explorer that he wanted to give me. My aunt doesn’t drive any more, and the car is just sitting there. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. He said that he knew that we needed a vehicle, and he wanted me to have it. The only problem is getting it here. I’ve begun looking into vehicle transport companies, and I think that it will cost between $500 and $700, which is still a really great price for us to pay to have another vehicle in good working order.

While it might be cheaper for both of us to fly one-way to Orlando, driving back to Norfolk is still going to take a bit of gas as it’s about 750 miles.

Ah, gas prices. We cannot complain, though. Europeans have been paying this much for gas for years. I believe the good old days of cheaper gas prices are well and truly gone.

But I digress . . .

So while the news is wonderful, it’s yet another chunk of change that we need to produce, which might be covered by the Ford buy-back money once we get the truck’s transmission, brakes, and tires done. Who knows.

Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” ~ Alan Watts

Cleave Heather by Alex37 (deviantART)


So that’s most of the news from our household. To put my life in perspective for you, the one thing that I am most looking forward to at this moment is the new season of “Dr. Who” on BBC America, which starts this Saturday at 9. I know what my weekend plans are, and they have nothing to do with going out on the town or attending a party, and you know what? I am perfectly content with that.

I mean, in spite of everything—the health issues, the money issues, the job issues, the family issues—I still appreciate my life. I love my husband madly, and I honestly don’t think that I could have a better partner in life. My sons are doing well in college, and they make me so proud. Brett has fallen in love for the first time, and it’s so endearing.

I have a house, and while it may not be zombie proof, it’s still mine. My peonies in the front yard are absolutely heavy with buds. My dogs are adorable but a bit aggravating when they wake me up in the middle of the night.

I have this forum in which to share my thoughts and feelings, and I have my mind and all of the thoughts that course through it continuously like some kind of wild river that will not be tamed. It’s a good day, all except for the computer problems that began when I stared to insert my images . . . not going there.

More later. Peace.

Music by Joe Purdy, “Good Days”

                   

A Knocker

There are those who grow
gardens in their heads
paths lead from their hair
to sunny and white cities

it’s easy for them to write
they close their eyes
immediately schools of images
stream down their foreheads

my imagination
is a piece of board
my sole instrument
is a wood stick

I strike the board
it answers me
yes—yes
no—no

for others the green bell of a tree
the blue bell of water
I have a knocker
from unprotected gardens

I thump on the board
and it prompts me
with the moralists’ dry poem
yes—yes
no—no

~ Zbigniew Herbert