On March 29th, 2017, God took my beloved mother to heaven. She let go and I held her in my arms as she did, heard her last breath and felt her soul go to to heaven to be with Him. Finally. After 10 years of suffering in a nursing home, she is at peace and no longer suffering. The last 5 years had been so difficult for her, confined to a wheelchair, unable to communicate, having lost use of her hands due to parkinsons, it was a blessing I had been praying for. She was the most patient and sweet person I have ever known, besides my father of course. Her faith sustained her through a difficult life. My father died in 2006 and that is when she slowly began to pull away the world. He had sheltered her and loved her.Theirs was a true love story. They never spent a night apart from the day they married in in 1954 until she flew to to take care of me in California when I was injured and helpless in 1989. When she passed I put the whole experience in a box and locked the key, until two weeks later when the cracks in the box appeared and broke it open. I have been feeling angry and depressed and sad and bitter over many things. There has been a heavy stone sitting beneath my ribcage that had become unbearable. I was angry that my mother did not get a funeral, a send off with family and friends. I left her in the mortuary and could not return to attend the burial with my dear brother Tim and his wife Peggy and my lovely niece Sarah. So there was no closure for me. But finally today something lifted. My prayers to God have finally given me peace. I finally realized it's not a competition who greives more. God is there for me and we all grieve and heal with his special peace and comfort. I love you Mom! And one more thing. Thank you to my loving family who is always there for me.
Sometimes I just hit a wall and I am tempted to think that I'll never be able to get over it and I'll be stuck on this dead-end side forever. I have to remember to step back and see how far I've come. So that is what I do. Today I have extreme fatigue in both arms and hands, but yesterday I drove to target, picked up Jen from school and dropped her at her tutor. Okay, so I don't drive today. But I'll drive tomorrow. Today I did some laundry and swept, did a lot of walking as well. I don't give up. I don't even know how to do that or why I would. I stay strong and keep moving. And try to keep that smile on my face whenever someone else is in the room. And even when I'm alone. Especially when I'm alone.
Okay, I admit, I am horrible at keeping up with my website. But something tells me I am not alone. This has been and will continue to be an amazing year. My family and I are blessed in countless ways. And yet we are tested as well. I had shoulder surgery in late March for a torn muscle and rotator cuff. Tonight I am making dinner for the first time in over 6 weeks and was able to drive a bit over the weekend; even pick my daughter up from school. These accomplishments may seem small but they are bringing me abundant joy. I have learned about the resilience of my soul and my body. They've both been tested and if it were not for the love and support of my family I am not sure I could have made it this far. As I sat in our favorite bar overlooking the marina where we keep our ocean going boat, enjoying a Mother's Day happy hour, I began to count my blessings and realized I would never be able to stop.
Today it was hotter than the inside of a dryer. We beach dwellers are not used to these sweltering temperatures. 90 for Manhattan Beach, well we're softies. Plus, I had to have the oven on in the kitchen all afternoon. I made spaghetti sauce and meatballs for three homeless families currently living at our church. And of course they had to be made from scratch. I started at 3:00 and headed out with platters of noodles and sauce and garlic bread and salad around 6:00. But I was more than happy to help out. These families would be torn apart and living on the streets if not for Family Promise, the organization that pulls it all together.
We did a few road trips this summer. Lake Mead with six kids aged 14 to 20. Soooo much fun. We rented a houseboat and from sunrise to sunset it was tubing and water skiing and jet skiing and floating on rafts in our private cove.Then a small overnight to San Diego, the stout family and Sabrina, Paul's girlfriend, for a trip to the zoo, a dip in the hotel pool and a lovely three hour dinner at a steak house in La Jolla. Then girls trip to Palm Springs, Christine my best friend and her daughter and my daughter who are also best friends. We had a spa and pool day. It was much needed. And now they are back in school. I miss Jenny during the day.
Life seems to fly out in all directions sometimes. Too fast, too slow, too turbulent, too heartbreaking, too graceful, too dazzling.Things happen and I wonder why I hadn't seen them coming, why I hadn't been prepared after all of my chances in life to learn the inevitable.
The shattering decline of my mother-in-law, the agonizing break-up of my son and his girlfriend, the unrelenting worry I hold in my heart over every member of my family. I cannot control it all and this is overwhelming.
But then I wake up to a brilliant blue sky above, the sweet whistle of birds and the happy faces of those I love and my worries melt away like snow under a blistering sun. God has, once again, answered my prayers for strength.
I'm flying to Tennessee tomorrow to see my mother. The sadness I am feeling at going on this trip is overwhelming. I go about once a year, and I've never felt this sad before. My mother suffers from sever dementia. She is confined to a wheelchair and cannot use her hands. They are curled inward. Her head reclines on a head rest. She cannot communicate and this time I am not sure she will even know who I am. A year ago, she knew me most times, but others she looked at me bewildered; who was this person sitting next to her. I hate how my mother lives her life. I hate that the end of her life has been so incredibly unfair for her. I hate that there is no one to visit her in this nursing home. My brothers family lived down the street until a few years ago when they had to move for financial reasons. I would have done the same. It's a nice place as far as nursing homes go and the staff have that southern charm and are the kindest people I could want taking care of her. But it is an incredibly sad situation. My father died 9 years ago. He was the love of her life. They never spent a night apart, until I was sick in my late twenties and she came and stayed with me in California. She used to have many friends. They've past away or lost touch, relatives as well. When she passes there won't be a funeral. I love my mom. I'm going to go and hold her hand and hope she remembers.
A record second posting in one month. You'd think I'd lost my job (if I truly had one) or left all my other responsibilities locked outside my door. But then they'd find their way in, of course, just like my unruly and quirky felines that sometimes reward us by calling this their home. They have a cat door, but prefer to sit patiently outside the patio sliding glass door, waiting for us to let them in. I guess that can also describe my eclectic collection of "things" that I do. Sometimes I just want to shoo them all away and binge on Blacklist (that James Spader gets under your skin). But they also sit patiently, albeit in the form of paperwork on my desk, or the sight of my doggie visit bag in the closet, maybe a facebook posting from a fellow Sandpiper, and then I know it's time to let them back in.
She's clearly snarling at me for keeping her locked out. My retribution might have been another dead bird on my bedroom floor except notice the new little bell locked around her neck. That should keep the springtime hatchlings safe.
Life gets in the way of so many good intentions. The one that comes to mind now of course is keeping up with this website. Sammy is now retired from Love on 4 paws. A combination of my knowing she just wasn't enjoying it anymore and her insistent pulling every time she spied a door. It was doing a number on my already aging shoulder. But Charlie and I still manage to get out there at least once a week.
Recently my twenty-year old son (who is living at home and attending a local college and working four days a week just so we are clear he is not a dead beat) called me over into the kitchen ready to bargain, which is rare for him. He'd do a favor for me if I did one for him. Of course I knew right away what it was. To his credit, he is up front about it when he and his friends want to kick back at our house for an evening in the hot tub with a few beers. When I was his age, I still could not admit to my parents that I'd so much as had a clandestine glass of wine. I think kids these days are much better educated about drinking and driving. Although I am sure there are those out there that would disagree. But in my circle and in my son's this seems to be the case. They know there is zero tolerance if they get caught and losing the ability to drive in southern California, (especially when you own a fabulous little bright blue 1990 Mazda Miata convertable as my son does) would be a nightmare. He and his friends will not take so much as a sip of beer and then drive even hours later. For this I am immensely grateful.
September 3, 2014
I am so proud of our Sammy. At eight years old, it's getting difficult for her to last through her one and a half hour hospital visits. She must have greeted 60 to 70 people this afternoon, mostly staff, at the Norris Cancer Center here in Los Angeles. It's her love of people that gets her through. She slept quite soundly in the backseat of the car on the way home. She's been visiting hospital patients and staff and schools for physically and mentally disabled children for about 2 1/2 years now. Yes, she's slowing down, but I can't stop taking her yet. Charlie has taken up the slack on a lot of hospital visits. And for that, Sam is grateful.
March 18, 2014
Charlie can be my beauty within a beast at times, and I'm betting he gave the groomer a few evil snarls when they combed out his lovely ears today. But what a handsome guy now.
I'm still basking in the joy of having been published at one of my favorite sites, Literary Orphans. Go there, you won't regret it, and not just to see my work.
September 20, 2013
A whimsical bit in honor of my kitty which I typed up while waiting at the carwash.
I padded across the kitchen floor to the corner where my human keeps my bowls. I came upon them unenthusiastically lest my human – I call her Claire – think I was enamored with what the bowls contained. I glanced inside the bowl and saw the remnants of my breakfast, a paw full of crunchy tidbits remained. I sniffed at them and walked away. Claire was sitting at her desk typing away on her keyboard, the soft light from the computer screen played across her desk. She needed reminding of my presence. In one swift and precise move I leapt up, missing the keyboard by a whisker, and putting my body between her face and the computer screen. I gave her one of my irresistible meows and arched my back for a rub down.
"April, not now."
I ignored her of course. For some reason humans always have to pretend they don't enjoy our attention. Persistence always pays off. I did my cute rubbing of my head against her hand..
"Okay, okay," she said, sounding a little peeved, but I know that's all an act.
The phone on the desk rang and this is good because it means my scratching time will continue while she is distracted from her work. After a minute or so I turned my body to face the computer screen so she could better scratch my back, and that's when I saw it!
An image of a long-haired [imagine the maintenance] white [will never be white for more than three hours after bathing, plus, will blend into Claire's white furniture] snub-nosed [they always look so angry] Persian [known for their stubborn, narcissistic personalities] glowed out from the screen. I instinctively raised a paw, bared sharpened claws, and went at the screens, batting it once, then hissing a low, menacing growl. Claire grabbed me and tossed me from the desk. How dare she. Of all the nerve. First she two times me with this graven image, then tosses me aside like I'm so much gutter rot. I'll show her. She will get no affection from me for the rest of the day. I will hide in the deep recesses of the hall closet where she never finds me and begins to worry that I have escaped the house and am lost forever in the big bad world of "outside the house". Just when she becomes frantic, calling my name, running from room to room, searching under beds and behind refrigerators, I will swagger into the living room and see the offending picture of "the other cat" has been banished forever, her true allegiances and affections restored to yours truly.