Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"And it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died ..."

It's Wednesday already? How did that happen?

Friday was my 47th (ACK!) birthday, and I milked it for the whole weekend. Michael and Patti came to visit on Friday night, and left on Sunday. Always love the time we spend with them. Michael whooped our butts in a game of Uno on Saturday night. We played a new variation: When you play a 7, you get to choose another player to switch hands with. When you play a 1, everyone passes the hand they have to the player next to them. That can really change the whole damn thing! (I was the big loser.)

For my birthday, I got sweet cards from the Sisters, Emilie gave me a Lane Bryant gift card, Jimmy gave me The Soprano's Family Cookbook, another book full of pictures and trivia about The Sopranos, and a Finding Nemo DVD, Adam and Brandy sent me a really pretty card and then gave me a Chicago DVD and a book I've been wanting, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. Mother sent me money, as she always does ... (Every time she does that, I tell her, "You just gave away another half a day in assisted living!") Adam and Brandy took us out to Macaroni Grill on Sunday night, and you know I had the Pasta Milano. And Jimmy gave me a bakery birthday cake with my name on it ... the first one I've EVER had. (My sister Laura and I are the only two people in the world who actually PREFER the icing used on cakes like that.) I was so happy to see that cake, knowing that next year I won't be eating sugar. I enjoyed that lard and sugar more than you know.

When you add all those nice gifts with the sweet attention AND a visit from Michael and Patti, you can see why my birthday weekend was so nice. Thanks so much, all of you!

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Grandma F was not in good shape yesterday. She was getting her THIRD new roommate when I arrived around 5 PM. This lady has bad Alzheimer's, and was coming to Dogwood Acres from home, her daughter no longer able to care for her. I think they told me she's been taking care of her Mom for over 15 years. The lady's name is Louise, and her husband came in to see her ... he's in a wheelchair. She had several family members in and out, so I stayed until after 8:00, just to make sure Grandma didn't get upset with all the noise and commotion. Louise mumbles ... almost as bad as the former roommate who passed away. But I did hear several "Goddamn"s and "You bastard"s in her mumbling. Every time, her family would have a fit, telling her to hush. They seem like really nice people. The daughter, Mary, was having a really hard time leaving her Mom. I can't say that I blame her.

Anyway, back to Grandma ... she's not eating much at all. And last night, there was NO talking. She seemed exhausted after eating a few bites of applesauce. Her breathing was so rapid and shallow, I finally asked the nurse to give her a dose of the morphine that hospice prescribed to slow her breathing down a little. She took the smallest dose prescribed, and I never really saw a difference while I was there. One of my favorite CNA's (Jemeena) was assigned to Grandma last night, and she promised me she'd watch her breathing.

I'm really hoping Louise doesn't upset her, and that Louise stays put on her side of the room.

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On Monday, I had my 2nd Group Session at Dr. Bour's. Enjoyed it a lot, and got to meet a sweet lady who's actually having her surgery as I type this.

Then yesterday I had my psychologist appointment. Dr. Russell is a very nice guy. We went over my test results ... he had a paper describing me perfectly, based on those test answers I gave about a month ago. It was surprising how well he was able to tell "who I am". He said he would have normally given me a "yellow light", meaning I'd have to wait to have my paperwork submitted until I had three weeks on an anti-depressant, based on the fact that I am dealing with depression. But since I saw Dr. Bour on March 6th, and started on Lexapro on that date, Dr. Russell said he'd give me the "green light". I am beginning to notice an even keel with my moods since starting the drug. They say it takes longer than 3 weeks to notice a real difference, but I really do feel a change already.

Dr. Russell asked several questions of me ... the one that I remember most clearly: "How are you prepared to deal with the possible complications or even death from this surgery?" I told him that I believe we all go when it's our time to go. I also said that I had faith in Dr. Bour and his skill as a surgeon ... and, in the past, I have always done really well with surgeries. But the main reason I have peace with my choice is this: My quality of life and life expectancy is going nowhere but down if I DON'T have this surgery. I have no doubt of that.

As I was leaving, I stopped to ask the receptionist about how long I might expect to wait to hear from my insurance company. She went to ask Kim, and Kim's answer was "4 to 6 weeks". I hated to hear that. Hopefully, that was Kim's worst case scenario answer.

But I guess I have no choice now ... the wait begins. You know you'll be the first to know if I hear anything.

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On this day 12 years ago, I was forced to say a last goodbye to my Dad. He was in a hospital CCU bed, attached to a million wires and he even had a tube in the side of his neck ... it had been a rough couple of days for him. He had a heart attack at home the day before, and had several more after an ambulance took him to the hospital. The doctor explained that they could keep reviving him, but his heart was so damaged by his lung disease that his quality of life would really be terrible, if he even made it out of the hospital. We were given the awful choice to make ... and we decided to tell the doctors to stop bringing him back. With the next heart attack, the nurse came to get us (my mother and my sisters and me), and we were able to be with him as he left. Most assuredly a moment in time I will never forget.

Daddy had COPD -- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease -- a gift given to him from all those years of cigarette smoking. He was offically diagnosed with it around 1979. For 15 years, it progressed ... stealing much of his joy for life and his incredible sense of humor. He stopped going to church, since he could no longer sing in the choir. He had a beautiful baritone voice ... before he got sick, he enjoyed singing in Barbershop Quartets. Hell, he'd still sing for us every chance he got, even after he lost his ability to sing in public.

He cherished his family, of that I have no doubt. He was proud of his daughters, even though none of us ever really did a damn thing to be proud of. And as much as he loved and adored his daughters, that pride was magnified a hundred times over again when his grandchildren were born. Adam got first honors ... everything the child did was a miracle in his Grandpa's eyes. I still have a tiny t-shirt my Dad had made for Adam ... it says "Precious and Little". That was Daddy's nickname for Adam, even before he was born. (It got changed to "A'm" after Emilie came along, and pronounced Adam without the middle letters.) Josh was born to Sister Kay next, and Daddy always called him "Joshua D". 5 months later, Emilie arrived ... and Grandpa called her "Emonie", since that's how 2-year-old Adam prounounced his sister's name. Finally Beth was born ... "BeffieLou" to her Grandpa. I hope all four of them realize how important and incredibly special they were to him.

He loved Miller Genuine Draft, classical music, Car Talk with Click and Clack and A Prairie Home Companion on NPR, Jim Beam on ice, America's Funniest Home Videos, "Stuff", carrot cake, oak trees, birds, and iced tea with lemon. He loved to tinker on anything. He loved to take naps ("I'm going to rest my eyes for a little while.") He loved to read. He loved marching bands. (He played the trombone.) He loved his brothers back in Minnesota. He loved me.

Sometimes I see him in my dreams at night ... those are my favorite dreams. It blows my mind to consider the fact that I haven't seen his face or heard his voice in 12 long years. I miss his silly, dry dry dry humor. I miss the letters he would write to me after we moved to South Carolina, always stuffed with a week's worth of "Calvin and Hobbes" and "The Far Side" comic strip clippings from his newspaper. I miss his old junker truck, with the Ah-oooo-ga horn that mortified my mother. I miss his rainbow suspenders. I miss the feel of his big hugs. I miss him at Christmas, when he would open his gifts with his pocketknife, and then ALWAYS exclaim, "Awwww you shouldn't have!" I miss Daddy.

My Grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor.
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

It was bought on the morn of the day he was born,
It was always his treasure and pride,
And it stopped short, never to go again, when the old man died.

3 comments:

AJ said...

Dammit. Was that really necessary?

Now all my coworkers think I'm a little girl with a skinned knee.

brandy said...

You even made me cry and I never had the pleasure of meeting him. Your stories remind me of my grandfather. It is great that you have such fond memories of him. Not everyone can say that about their fathers...

Dawn said...

Awwww. I didn't mean to make y'all cry. Brandy, I wish you could have met my Dad ... he would have loved you a lot.

I love the both of you!