Tag: mom

Twenty-Two Months

Twenty-Two Months

My mom has died. I’ll probably fill you in a bit more further down the road (almost as fun as a birth story, I’m sure), but for now just know this: she passed away Tuesday afternoon, almost a week after she started to really shift 

Update from the Brain Cancer Chronicles: Mom’s Almost There, but Not Quite There, and I’m Not Ready for There Anyway

Update from the Brain Cancer Chronicles: Mom’s Almost There, but Not Quite There, and I’m Not Ready for There Anyway

Let me tell you what’s weird in Brain Cancer World. Two weeks ago, when mom’s hospice nurse came to visit, she declared my mom’s condition “status quo, with deterioration.” I think that means, “Still living, but a little less than she was before.” Last Thursday, 

10 Sorta Happy Things in this Summer of 2020

10 Sorta Happy Things in this Summer of 2020

You guys, my kids are climbing the walls. They’re threatening to dig a hole in the backyard and fill it with tap water from the hose and call it a pool. They’re saying it’s too hot to play outside when it’s only 78 degrees. They’re daydreaming about places to visit, with the caveat: “some day–but when?” They volunteer to go with me to my mom’s because it means they get to sit in front of Hot Bench and Judge Judy, and maybe just maybe we’ll go get ice cream afterward.

You guys, they’ve stopped complaining about us taking them on hikes. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Morale is down in our little corner of PA. We’re slowly starting to venture into the world again, but it’s slow going, and there’s not much on the horizon except more of the same. On a very hot day last week one of the kids actually got upset with me because we’ve never made friends with anyone who has a backyard pool.

(I told them we’ll try harder next time.)

I told you: we’re cracking a little bit over here.

All I can say is: yay for air conditioning and Disney+. Yay for the backyard sprinkler and Capri-Sun. But please say prayers the blow-up pool my mom bought them years ago still works, okay?

Here are some other things that are happy:

  1. My mom can’t really see anymore (this is the total opposite of happy, but hear me out). We’re not sure why: all we know is that she sleeps a lot, but when she’s not sleeping, her eyes are closed most of the time, and we have to identify ourselves when we walk in the door. Here’s the funny part, though: she’s listening. (Oh, she’s listening.) And the new fun thing is when we think she’s sleeping, and we’re chatting with each other and her caregiver and laughing, and one of us cracks a joke, all of a sudden we’ll hear Mom, from where she lies back on her recliner with her eyes closed and her hands curled in front of her chest, chuckling. Sometimes, she’ll crack a smart comment in response. She misses nothing. Those are the best times.
  2. (related to #1). This decline of my mom’s sucks. It’s slow and heartbreaking and I can’t begin to describe to you what this is like. Everything that’s been terrible these past 21 months was nothing compared to what’s happening now. BUT. (See? Happy.) She’s still there. Even though she can’t see, and sometimes can’t hear, and most of the time can’t really communicate all that well (None of that is happy, either, I know. Bear with me), her personality is so very much there. She still says “Hi, hon,” when she knows it’s me on the phone. She still says “I love you.” She still craves sweets and coffee over all other food–this is exactly what she preferred before she was sick, mind you–and remembers the plot points to Once Upon a Time and Downton Abbey. A hospice nurse randomly asked her how long she’d been living in her house, and she immediately–and accurately–stated, “Thirty-seven years.” Mom’s still there. And that part’s wonderful.
  3. The kids are obsessed with Star Wars. They watch it constantly. They’re debating what the next movie obsession is, though: Saoirse is rooting for Wonder Woman. Quinlan and Cian are thinking Titanic, as long as I fast-forward through the over-PG bits. Cian asked his dad if they could start Star Trek. Apparently Wrath of Kahn (did I spell that correctly?) is on the list, but when Quinlan heard that she scoffed. “Star Trek?! That’s just a hand-me-down Star Wars.
  4. I miss writing every day desperately. This is, weirdly, a good thing. It means it hasn’t gone away even when I have.
  5. It’s mojito season. This is especially good because my mint plant is taking over the deck. (So is my basil, though, and you don’t see me cooking up lasagnas. But never mind that. Mojitos!)
  6. I occasionally listen to a podcast called The Purpose Show, by Allie Casazza. She’s basically the only mommy blogger/influencer/internet entrepreneur I check in with anymore (there are only so many millennials one can tolerate telling us 43-year-old farts to live our best lives, you know?), BUT. She had an interview with a life coach named Susie Moore, who mentioned something along the lines of this: whenever we’re saying yes to something, we’re saying no to something else. I like that. Especially since this year has had me riding this pendulum between home life/my mom (sadness! sadness!) and total avoidance/my phone/Netflix (coping! coping!), it’s good to remember. If I say no to some things I can say yes to more. (As long as it’s not more mojitos. I recognize the line.)
  7. It’s strawberry season, which is the best season outside of sit-in-front-of-the-fireplace-with-a-book season. That is all.
  8. Schitt’s Creek. We’re almost finished with the last season and don’t want it to go away. Ew, David.
  9. As I mentioned, we’ve been hiking. And even though Quinlan, on principle, despises any nature-based activity if it doesn’t involve swimming at some point, the kids are enjoying themselves. Well: Quinlan complains about the heat and how it would be so much better if a) it were swimming and b) not hiking, but goes along with it, and Saoirse just sort of quietly walks with us because she’s tween and being a tween is hard. Cian, on the other hand, will reach for my hand and declare, “I LOVE hiking! I just love all the new smells,” and then say, “Oh. I guess I’m kind of like a dog?”
  10. This slow pace. Friends, it’s actually really nice. The kids stay up too late but sleep in and wake up happy. They play basketball and ride their bikes and swing on the 70s-style swing set we installed a couple weeks ago (it’s a little like a toilet plunger: it ain’t pretty to look at, but it does the job). We see my mom without stress of sports and other places we “have” to be. Their life skills have quadrupled: dusting and vacuuming and scrambling eggs and doing the laundry, because there’s time to teach them, slowly. I don’t know how we’re going to look back at this time, but this part is good. This pause has been nice.

If any of you are treading water right now, know we’re bobbing along with you (actually, Quinlan would love that. Water!). On the flip side, if you’re taking charge and making changes or road-tripping to the beach, good on you. (I’m not mad at you anymore for creating a vacation, because I’d probably be doing it, too.)

Saoirse just caught my attention from the kitchen. “This is a good start to summer,” she said. And then she kissed me on the head and ran upstairs to play.

Maybe we’re not cracking that badly, after all.

Memorial Day 2020: The Family Gathers, an F150, and I Yelp about Social Distancing

Memorial Day 2020: The Family Gathers, an F150, and I Yelp about Social Distancing

Hey. It’s the Tuesday after what has probably been a quiet Memorial Day weekend for many of us (if you, though, are reading this not from your living room couch but from a crowded beach, please know a] I’m mad at you because SOCIAL DISTANCING, 

Cookies and Creativity and the Quarantine Slump

Cookies and Creativity and the Quarantine Slump

Okay, at this point of quarantine, you’re in one of two camps: #1: You are a person who’s settled into this “new normal,” and are content and calm. You’ve weeded the flower beds, laid down fresh mulch, and are considering a fresh coat of paint 

Rest in the Time of Coronavirus (and, um, Brain Cancer)

Rest in the Time of Coronavirus (and, um, Brain Cancer)

I was talking with my brother, Paul, sister-in-law Sarah, and David this week, when Sarah and I got to chatting about writing. She’s diligent, writing 500 words every morning at her computer before starting her work day, and it impresses me. (She also walks miles every day, does other exercising every day, cooks elaborate meals every day–meanwhile I sit on the couch to type this in the sweats I’ve been wearing for two days and I’m about to throw some shredded chicken and store-bought enchilada sauce in the oven and call it dinner. I know women aren’t supposed to compare themselves, but…you guys, these sweats are from Old Navy. They’re threadbare at this point. It’s all I’m saying).

My point is, Sarah is hustling. My life is so anti-hustle these days I can’t even rest properly. (Anyone else not able to sleep anymore? I know it’s not just me.)

During our conversation the subject of this blog came up, and Paul thanked me for finally posting something last Friday that wasn’t about the demise of our mother and likewise horribly upsetting. David, meanwhile, admitted he hasn’t even been reading my stuff because it’s been such a drag.

(Sarah, thankfully, turned to me: “You’ve got a funny line in there once in a while! It’s okay!” Guess who’s my favorite relative NOW, boys? Guess who??)

I keep writing here because I don’t want to rest on it, even when what comes out of my brain is more weep-weep and not enough woohoo. You get what you get, dear reader.

We happened to be talking in person this weekend, outside my mom’s house, standing six feet apart in a loose circle on the front lawn and driveway, because Paul and Sarah had flown in from Wisconsin to be with her. David and I took the children and Riley down to see them Saturday afternoon, in the best way we can under the weirdness of now. I know you’re giving us the coronavirus side-eye, but I told you (remember all those sad posts?): Mom is fading. Caregivers have made three 911 calls in two weeks because Mom is just too weak. This was probably the last time she’ll be able to communicate with Paul and Sarah in person. It ain’t good, people. Imagine it’s been snowing out, and we’ve dragged out the sled to our favorite hill, but now that hill is covered with a sheen of sheer ice. We know that hill is icy, but we’re already on it, and there’s nothing to do but take that scary trip all the way to bottom. Do you see what I’m saying?

(You know? I can’t imagine why they all say I’m so depressing lately.)

We hung out for about two hours, staying out of the house as a group, with one of us regulars going to sit for a mom for bits at a time. Thankfully, she took some of that time to nap, which made her caregiver happy. Saoirse remarked (while the little ones played, she hung out on the periphery of the circle, quietly listening to the adult conversation sharing more than her tween ears should probably hear) that it was really nice that we grown-ups were all actually talking. Without a TV or phones out, I suppose, she noticed a difference.

I daresay: we rested.

We waved goodbye and went back home. Sarah cooked dinner at the house for herself, Paul, and my mom, while David and I prepared our own family dinner at our home. We pulled the kids out back for a campfire and roasted s’mores. The children asked when they’d get to see Paul and Sarah again this visit, and were disappointed in the answer that those two hours that day were it. The weather Sunday was rainy and cold, so the five of us stayed indoors, together, relaxing. (I heard that Paul, Sarah, and Mom watched Wine Country.) I wasn’t glued to my phone that day, you guys. I didn’t constantly check it for texts and phone calls about Mom. Frankly, I didn’t know what to do with myself, but I knew Mom was happy, David wasn’t stressed over work, and the kids were content, so I just…sat with my family.

I rested.

(See, David and Paul? That part was kind of happy.)

I’m working on it, kids. Not quite sure when the funny will be back, but I’ll let you know how we end up once this sled hits the bottom of that hill. Thanks for coming along for the ride, happy days or no (and David did say he went back and read the last of these posts, for what it’s worth. I hear there was a funny line or two to be found in them). Meanwhile, Paul and Sarah are masked up and on their way back to Wisconsin as we speak. My phone is back to my side, charged, volume up.

At least these sweats are comfy.

Easter During a Pandemic: Well, That was Different

Easter During a Pandemic: Well, That was Different

Quinlan was in my bathroom Sunday morning as we were getting ready to go see my mom. It was Easter. We’d giggled over the baskets and laughed through the backyard egg hunt and baked and eaten the Resurrection Rolls, but we’d also watched a lot 

Coronavirus: He’s the Only One Calling this a Vacation

Coronavirus: He’s the Only One Calling this a Vacation

So here we sit, in the middle of the apocalypse (Kidding, kidding! It’s merely a terrifying plague!), wondering if this is what Orwell had in mind when he began writing fiction–no, not Orwell! Our present crisis is too scientific for Orwell. Maybe the guy that