Monday, February 23, 2009

Death and the Elderly

I keep thinking about this, and have concluded that I do not think it must be very fun to live to be very old.

My gram is 93, laying in a bed in a hospital with a morphine drip, no longer here in any real sense of the word except for a physical presence lying there. She cannot eat, drink, swallow or talk. She doesn't seem to know anyone is around in any true sense of the word. She is, for the most part, a shell with a few still-functioning parts.

I don't get it.

I believe in a loving God. I like and try to believe we are all here for a purpose, and for a reason, even if that reason is unbeknownst to us. I believe in miracles, and that God can and will intervene in our lives at certain points. I'm not sure at all, however, what God's stance really is on death...and at what point He intervenes, or if He lets this part up to us.

Aside from being hit by a bus, illness, and other tragedies, what or who is it that determines when we ultimately pass from this earth? Is my gram in there somewhere looking out from this tiny body? Is she a spirit that is able to somehow hoover and watch us as we come to sit, to keep her company, to pay our respects? Is it her decision - is she staying for a reason - or does she get a choice in the matter? Is it just Gram being stubborn again or has the Dear Lord, in His busy schedule, perhaps forgotten? Is she here for one of us? I know they say that God calls us home when it is our time - but if that is the case, why are there folks like Gram that would likely, were they able to verbalize such things, hanging around when they probably would have preferred a good card game in heaven to this...this slow and mindless ceasing?

I watched my mother leave yesterday to go sit by her mother's bedside, hurting for her. My aunt is there almost daily for gram. I, who have not been to see my grandmother at all yet am heading out there this evening. My cousins, I am sure, will all manage to get there as well. This is what you do when you are part of a family and I come from a particularly loving one so I am sure there will almost certainly be someone there to guard and watch over this tiny little remnant of what my grandmother once was.

I am way too human to understand this. Death is too big to try and put into a little neat box for me...I am one of those people that does a lot better when there are better explanations and reasons for things, and yet a good portion of the time we get neither. People seem to leave far before their time, and sometimes long after, and too much of either is just so very hard on the ones they leave behind. None of this makes any sense, especially when it just seems totally random.

I guess, in the end, all we can do is try to be there for one another and honor each life as best we can for as long as we can. I don't think anyone should die alone, and I am grateful that my grandmother has so many people to go through this last transition with her. I want my chance to say goodbye. That said, I pray she finally gets to go Home soon where she can eat candy again (Heaven must have it, right?) and be able to laugh and sing and dance and get rid of this old, tired body that is no longer a suitable home for a spirit as bright as hers.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Teeth, Part Due

Just as a quick follow-up to my last post - sadly, my assessment was correct. I have the beginnings of an abcess for which the only cure is a combination of antibiotics and, in a week or so, a root canal.

On the positive least I got some Vicodin. :)

On Teeth

My mouth and I are not what you would call close...if it did not reside within my head I doubt we would ever spend time together. I am sure I don't appreciate its kindnesses half enough - letting me speak, giggle, sing, eat are all things that it does well. I probably do not treat it nearly as well as I should - I could do a much better job flossing and brushing, I could wear a night guard to protect it from the havoc my jaws create from their constant night grinding. I could polish them and go for ultra-white bleaching treatments for that movie-star like glow (my sister Denise is a dental rep and constantly looks like an ad for good hygeine).

That said, I am not convinced any machinations on my part would make much of a difference. My teeth are utter garbage. They break, they stain, and every time I go to the dentist it seems that he (I am sure gleefully) manages to find 2-5 other new places in my mouth to rip open.

I am in pain - quite acute, actually, at this very moment. I was up most of the night with throbbing gums and aching molars. My head is about to explode off of my shoulders. I am not totally sure, but from my experiences thus far I expect I either have an abscess or an infection or some other horrid thing. It hurts to eat or to bite down in any way. My jaw is tingling; sharp jolts of electricity are pulsing up the side of my jaw towards my ear. I am hot-sensitive, cold-sensitive, and just-sitting-there-sensitive as all hell. The Advil I've been gobbling like Chiclets isn't doing a darn thing to help.

I know what is going to happen. I am going to go into the dentist chair, and they will ask which tooth hurts. I will not know the answer - the pain is rather all over the place. I will be x-rayed, I will have my tooth banged on with some kind of hammer thing (the test is simple - when you jump high enough they know they've hit the right tooth), I will scream, and they will pull out the big drills. I will then have to pull out my wallet (not nearly as big) and pay a ridiculous fee for all of this abuse and go home looking like a chipmunk.

I admit to being a bit of a drama queen from time to time. I admit to the occasional hyperbole. But it is also the case that I view the dentist with even more dread than I view dusting (which I despise). I hate the ridiculous masks, the smell, and the outrageous outlay of capital. I hate the taste of the cherry(not) topical numbing liquid. I hate that every time I leave, I just know that I will be back again soon.

Dear mouth, you have spoken (screamed, actually) and I am listening. I am going. But I will let you know I am doing so with great protest, and under duress. I hope you take great comfort in knowing that in the 5 trips I have now made to the dentist since December, I will have managed to pay for his vacation to Maui - and likely blown away any chance for one of my own or yours. I hope you're happy.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Emotional Layer Cake of Rough

Have you ever had one of those days where every time you turned around you felt like somehow you were being hit with something else that just knocked you emotionally?

I knew that when I got up this morning that I would need to get out of the house extra early in order to conduct some interviews for my job. I'm not feeling well - I have still have this cold - and I did not sleep much last night. I rummaged through the closet trying to find something to wear that didn't look disastrous, finally managed to get my Medusa hair to lay a bit more straight, pulled my things together and only upon leaving the house realized that I still needed to get gas. I walked into the office with 3 minutes to spare. I felt ugly, fat, and ill-prepared to do what I needed to do. These days, many days, trying to feel put together and confident at my job is simply not happening.

My baby, Sydney, is ill for the first time in her short life. It is just a cold - we verified that with the doctor today, but even the sound of her raspy little breaths when I woke this morning just tore at me. I work full-time - I don't have the option of staying home with her (otherwise I would jump at the chance) - and the thought of her dealing with these strange things going on in her body, the tiny coughs, the heaving of her little chest trying to push the air through - I just hated it. She is a smiley, happy baby by all accounts, and she is handling her first illness far better than I am. The guilt - first, that I probably gave her the cold, second, that I can't be there for her to cuddle her through this - has been eating at me all day.

On top of all of these speaking to my mom today, I learned that my 93 year old grandmother is starting to decline rapidly. She is a little tiny bird of a woman, not too cognizant of what is going on around her - she has lived far past that point in which the future, or even the present, matters and is lost somewhere in the reaches of her mind and in the past. She is dying. It is not this part that made me sad - I believe in my heart that it would be a blessing for her to go and be with the friends and loved ones who have gone before her. It is a combination of the guilt of not having seen her as well as my mother telling me that my grandmother had stopped singing. You see - as long as I can remember, my grandmother has always hummed a little tune. She may not know who we are, she may not know where her teeth are, and she may have flushed her hearing aid down the drain...but this tiny piece of her has remained a constant. She's not eating by herself anymore, the moments of clarity seem to have disappeared...but the thing that makes me the most sad is imagining the little bird without her song.

So - it's been a long day. I'm home from work now, home with my husband, and peering at my snuffly little smiley baby (now sleeping). I am glad to be here. That said, I am glad that this day will soon be behind me. There is only so much a heart can tolerate in a 24 hour period, and mine needs quiet and rest.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She Rocked Our World - Aunt Judy Baker

Today marks a devastating loss to this world - it is the 10 year anniversary of the death of the best auntie in the whole wide world.

I come from a somewhat large extended family on my mother's side - my mom had 4 brothers and sisters, and the fallout from that has been quite a number of cousins, etc. They are all pretty cool people and I love them dearly. That said - the rockingist auntie that ever rocked was by far my aunt Judy.

As the somewhat reclusive, awkward niece with no real feel for social conduct, I never really felt much like I fit in as a kid. Most of my cousins were great at sports, amazing at art, and seemed to understand instinctively how to kid around and talk with each other - I was the one who hid in spare bedrooms and behind furniture reading a book. My feelings were hurt easily, and the best I can do to describe my childhood would be "awkward".

My aunt though - well, she always made me feel pretty special. I felt like she got me - she understood my strange sense of humor, she stood up for me with some of the older kids, and when she did correct me she managed to do it in a way that always felt like she was just watching out for me.

She told dirty jokes to my dad and could always be counted on to whisper them to you later (after a certain age). She smiled with her whole face. Judy had the warmest brown eyes with a glint of wicked, she threw herself into everything she did, and she made friends with anyone who was lucky enough to meet her. Everyone liked Judy Baker.

Judy was my mom's best friend. One of my last memories of her was the time that she and my mother made Thanksgiving Dinner together and they had had a bit too much wine - and my mom had started cooking a pot with nothing in it. Neither one could stop laughing. Every time they got together it was as though they had never been apart - they talked on the phone constantly. My mother, who lived 60 miles away had a lifeline in Judy - she was her secretkeeper, her sanityminder, and her staunchest supporter. The only time I can remember in my entire life where my aunt yelled at me was when I said something critical of my mother - that was not something she would tolerate. "Your mother loves you more than you will ever know. Don't take that for granted or ever say a bad word about her to me."

Aunt Judy was truly the glue for our family. She was the one who mended fences, who navigated our genetic stubbornness with grace and accepted all of us just the way we are. Ten years ago today, she passed after 6 awful months fighting lung cancer. She did not deserve the death she suffered - she deserved a feckin' parade straight into heaven. I know she is there now, looking down, and I pray that I may be even half the person she was - half as brave, half as courageous, half as loving - and if I achieve that much in this life I will have considered myself a success.

Aunt Judy, if you're up there and listening, I'm toasting you sweetie. Thank you for watching over me. I miss you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pugs and President's Day

Today, I am home for is a holiday, my pug needs me (okay, really, all he needs is a good pillow), my baby needs me, and this cold is still knockin' me about.
That said...I was thinking about President's day. I was wondering, with all of the strangeness of today's politics, what they will say about this particular era.
It's just such a difficult time. While the inaugaration seemed to inspire everyone with a new message of hope at the chance for some change, I watch my local politics in Chicago go to hell in a handbasket. Those we elect to be leaders have proven to be nothing more than a disgrace, my state is a laughingstock...and I can't help but feel some of it mars even the new presidential glow. They talk of saving the economy and making things better - but frankly, this is the scariest I have seen the environment around me in my 37 years. People are scared, people are mistrustful, people are wary.
As a new mother, I honestly wonder what is going to happen. I pray to God that the world is a better place - a more improved place - by the time my little daughter has any idea of what a President's Day is. I hope Obama brings some true opportunity with his administration; I hope that we are able to heal some of the wounds we've managed to create.
In all of this time of stress, and worry...thank God for Pugs and babies and all of those things that make it all just a little better. In the meantime, I will be thankful for the day off and the time to, if not appreciate much else, play with my silly dog and cuddle my sweet, sweet child, and appreciate the day off properly.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'll take the Ice Blue One, Please...

So, in the world of capital expenditures, we seem to have shelled out a lotta dough in the last year. We have a condo we were unable to sell and therefore decided to rent - we have not replaced every appliance in that place. A few months ago, we had to replace the furnace and air conditioner, and on Tuesday of this week, the dryer croaked.

I could go off at this point about my financial worries, how upset I am that we have to put out the money, etc. but I expect anyone in the same position would say about the same.

Instead, I will talk about my Kelly Ripa-inspired Electrolux Washer Dryer Lust.

You may or may not have seen the Kelly Ripa commerical where she has the lovely, ginormous laundry room with the beautiful teal, front-loading shiny steam washer/dryers. It makes her life easier! She can get so many things done so quickly it is all a blur, with time left over to bake cookies for the children.

I'm sick. I admit it. The commercial has gotten to me. Somehow I am sure that if I had that exact washer and dryer, my kitchen would be clean, my house would be immaculate, and I could make chocolate chip cookies that provided not only healthy, calorie-free nourishment for my family but also the time to sit down and enjoy said cookies with them. Additionally, I would be adorable and tiny like Kelly Ripa.

When we arrived at the dent and ding appliance outlet store, the price for this item of laundry lovliness was a mere $1368, after a $500 discount. This price was for not both machines, but the washer alone.


With a heavy heart, I chose a decent front loading Maytag set at a more reasonable price. Kelly Ripa I am not. The perfect life, I have not. That least my washer and dryer match, and while not shiny perfect teal - they are at least, blue. :)

This is my very personal blog - may I have another Kleenex please?

My husband, who I don't think really even believes I am attempting a blog, suggested the 2nd part of my title today. I have a GOD-AWFUL cold with a ridiculously drippy nose. It is truly vile - my nose is red and swollen, my pocket is full of soggy, dirty get the picture.
I look, feel, and sound gross.

Anyway, I told my husband he couldn't read what I was writing because it was "deeply personal" and only afterwards realized what the hell I just said. I wish to God I could chalk that one up to the cold meds, but sadly I haven't taken any.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Drool - The Best Valentine Ever

Okay, I am watching my husband with my 4 month old little daughter, Sydney (our first). She has in her mouth some sort of combination teething toy/light-up music thang. Part of it is in her mouth, the lights are going on and off, and drool is coming out both sides of her mouth (we think she may be getting a tooth).

I am utterly in love with this blue-eyed, mostly bald nordic-looking baby. She has the most amazing smile and laughs from the deepest part of her belly. Her eyes crinkle at the edges and when she grins dimples show in her cheeks.

Honestly, I can't think of a more genuine, more real, more constant feeling of love than that I have for this tiny (well, ok - she IS almost 16 pounds but still) creature who is all innocence, laughter, and wonder. She breaks my heart. I will do anything in the world to make her smile, want to cry when she cries, and even when she poops up to her armpits (which she routinely does - for some reason she is scatologically challenged and only does this once every day or so) I am grateful for the opportunity to make it better.

I think God gives us children so that when we have lost some of our own innocence and wonder with the world, we can see it anew through their eyes...even when our own are tired, and red, and glassy with lack of sleep.

I am sick with a bad cold, worried about the mighty dollar, and it is ugly/nasty cold outside. That said, it is my first Valentine's Day with Syd, and that alone makes it the best one ever.

(Lord, I am cheesy. Ah well. Tis V-day, after all.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Facebook Crazy

I concluded, last night, amid my crazy-arse dreams that I needed another vehicle for expressing my thoughts. I have a jillion and two thoughts running through my head at any one time, and finding the proper audience for these can be challenging lest I appear even more of a total nutcase (which, I probably am) to the general public.

I have no kung-fu in my background, although I do have a pug whose origin is a foo-dog. The name just came to me and I am keeping it.

So...that said...Facebook. Okay, I admit I am a junkie...and apparently a bit competitive. I have basically been accepting each and every facebook invitation to be "friends" that is out there. I am friends with people that tormented and hated me in high school...have even *requested* some of those friends... I am friends with the girl across the street that wrote on my head as a child. I am friends with my sister's friends. I even requested the "friendship" of a girl who stole my boyfriend in high school (not that he was all that great) because I wanted to see what she was doing these days and because I was sick and tired of her showing up in my "people you might know" list.

When I saw that a girlfriend of mine who joined Facebook in response to my inviting her had more friends that I did, I immediately started going through my friend's friends to see if there were people I had missed and started furiously adding them to my list of the 'chosen'. I have, for the most part, not dumped any of these folks that I profess to want to know more about...with the exception of one woman I've deemed even more crazy than I am who kept inviting me to events at her church and posting conspiracy theories on an hourly basis. But still -like 'em, abivalent to 'em, dying to know more about 'em - I am friends with a ton of people whose names I have not mentioned or uttered in 20-30 years - some of whom took great delight in posting our "adorable" grammar school class pictures together. I've been wholly accepting of all of this nonsense in the attempt to feign some semblance of popularity.

But last night - I finally received a friend request that I refuse to accept - from a girl I was friends with at one time in my twenties, but who stole my playstation when she moved to Memphis . She took my TOYS!! I am "ignoring" her. A girl, after all, has to have some standards. :)