Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thanks for the Memories

This is my Mom's Baby picture. She is 83 years old now. We scanned the picture & brought her an 8.5 x 11 copy. she asked-- Is this ME? She recognized her baby picture-- they also told her there was someone behind her holding her up. I used to think she had her one hand in a kind of a *power to the people* pose. She was hanging on. She still IS hanging on, and she has hung in there, through a lot of rough stuff, for much of her life.

I have to say how much I respect & admire her fortitude. She endured some heavy stuff in her life, including taking care of her Father & Mother, raising two kids as a single parent, essentially. Mom regrets having postponed joy, or having missed the boat to do more fun things or the good stuff, in life. She did not retire until she was 76, and retirement was a downhill spiral of medical woes.

Looking back, she said "Heaven better be good", lamenting out loud that she had helped others all her life, and wondering when her break would come. It was just honest, open thoughts that her good karma seemed to have not arrived. She has every right to think that way.

On the flip side the "event" she had last year- a stroke, did not yield a deblitating paralysis, but caused her Doctor to revoke her license to drive, and medically order that she no longer live alone. It kind of goes into the *when life gives you lemons, make lemonade* philosophy. Mom never wanted to go into a facility, but she needs 24/7 care, and they had a particularly harsh winter with double the average amount of snow & ice. Mom was able to stay at the facility, and get her labwork, dental , counseling, church & live entertainment done, without ever setting foot out in the snowy winter.

I am so glad I went to visit her every chance I had, in between the house project. In the last 4 days I was there, Mom had contracted Noro Virus, and the Unit was quarintined. I could not visit her from Tuesday on. Our happy memory would be the days we spent together, and the previous Sunday, we put her in a wheelchair & took her out to the onsite Gazebo on a nice sunny day. We enjoyed a few hours visit, Mom, my Sister & I.

The Nature of Mom is such that on Easter, for a large family meal gathering, she could barely walk & struggled on the stairs @ my Sister's place-- she repeatedly asked my Sister if she wanted help in the kitchen! Her true spirit-the core desire to be helpful lives on, even past the point when her physical body is declining. What a sweetheart.

Twists & Turns

I had asked Mom if she would like me to give a few things to friends, as we cleared the house. She said yes, that was OK. So we donated 90% of the stuff to the Salvation Army, and gave a few things to different friends of hers.
The next week, Mom said she wanted the little faux tiffany table lamp. That was one of the few items I had given to her close friend, Mary. We took Mom & Mary out to brunch & gave the Mary the lamp later, after we had Mom settled back in her room.
The next day, Mom brought it up again- only this time with a more heated tone. "You have no right to give that away". Uh-Oh. Mom was serious & seriously pissed. I could tell from the look and the tone, Mom was going to hang on to this topic. I did not want this on my head.
Thankfully, I had not put that on the Salvation Army Truck for donation!

I wound up calling my Mom's friend, and explaining the situation.
Mary is a gem & said, no problem-- she can have the lamp back-- she was glad Mom was cognizant enough to be feisty about it, and ultimately, if it will make her happy, we want her to be happy . Whew!
I apologized profusely, and she said she would deliver it on Saturday to Mom & visit her.

The next day, I said to Mom- Mary is going to bring you the table lamp.

Mom asked: What lamp?

Farewell Old House~

I don't know if I will see the interior of my childhood house ever again. Not only did we go through all it's contents- the old metallic Christmas tree circa the 60's. My sisters Disc-GO-case, packed full of the records known as 45's that had single tunes on each side. I went through them to reminisce- Louie Louie, Come Together, She Loves You, Come on down to my Boat Baby, Hair, Let the Sunshine/Aquarious, Sky Rider. We wrote our names on our records, but apparently shared the case.
A lovely powder blue plastic that Maureen artfully put mod flower power flower stickers on. Downright Groovy.

Because I live a far distance, anything I would be keeping, would have to be something I would be willing to pay to ship. But I am a sentimental girl who craved heirloom things. Stuff Grandma gave Mom & now passing into my generation. The silverware set, the depression era wine goblets. Do I NEED more forks or glasses? No, not really-- but this stuff is special, and I want momentos- things I can pass on to my kids.
So let's just say it cost a small fortune to ship those things- even at the ground rate (least expensive), but I want that link & connection. These items are NOT going to sit & collect dust either. Life is for living & I am not going to save things for another day that may never come. I do have a new perspective about living life now & don;t postpone joy. Cheers- or Nasdrovia (Russian for to your good health??)

Example of how things went...

The car. Mom's car sat for a year in the garage. We were to get it, so I could have transportation when my sister returned to work the 2nd week I was there. The battery was dead, and the back tire very low. My Sister had it towed, and a new battery installed, oil changed & tire addressed. Good to go. Not exactly.
the City Sticker had expired. So my sister got that updated. The State license tag expired april 1st, but in order to get the tag, the car had to be emissions tested first! Done & done. All that probably cost upwards of $400 bucks- but it is now up & running & legal. The plan is to sell the car. A 1997 vehicle that has 29,000 miles on it!
The car had to be running in order to sell it. But this is a sampling of how what seemed like simple projects turned into multi layered complex issues. We also discovered, visitor day permits were required for vehicles, or you get a $50 dollar ticket. A lot of things with the house, lamp, car etc... were like this- hoops and hurdles we'd not considered kept popping up... and somehow we cleared them all.

So time marches forward, and life is full of unknowns.
The day we were driving home from Mom's house, after Salvation Army packed the bulk of everything out, on the radio in the car they were playing a Bob Hope tune-- Thanks for the Memories.


Unknown said...

I adore that oldtime picture Fran.

As for your post..I will comment further at Sirens :)

Anonymous said...

That is a sweet picture- my fav from the family photos.
We were looking through some of the albums- the old black page photo books w black & white & Sepia toned & even some tin type photos-- some of the kids pics look like spanky's gang kids. Depression era kids, had to make do & have fun with what was there.

Anyway, that old Bob Hope song was a kick- not one I was familiar with, but timely that a station was playing nostalgic tunes & that one came on just after emptying the house of stuff & memories.

My sister did keep a bunch of stuff because she lives closer enough to haul it.... but she was trying to keep it reasonable too.....

I'm just glad Mom was OK with letting the house go. Although she may change her mind later!


Dada said...

Fran: Oh, thanks for the tear jerker ending -- as if everything preceding it hadn't grabbed me and taken me off to Kleenexland!

This is the most beautiful blog I've read in many, many weeks. No, make that months! It's obvious your heart and soul were in the writing of this.

I was with you every step of the way. So much of what you shared I found myself nodding my head up and down in "Yes"es.

I love this blog. It is so full of things anyone who's had to 'wind down' family's loved ones lives has experienced, often tortuously.

Thanks for sharing. I know it had to be a cartharsis for you writing it, a painful yet great emotional memory for us who have re-experienced it in the reading.

Thank you -- this was beautiful! Bless you.

Fran said...

Awww Dada, thanks for your kind words. This whole experience was a labor of love- it pulled my heartstrings, and went in every other direction as well. I was not going for tearjerker, but a sampling of how things went.
There was laughter, tears, burnout, good & bad memories- and the stark reality of a deluge of changes.
In a perfect word, I could stop working & bring my family there to help Mom. But this is not a perfect word, so I have to take my bits of time to do what I can & grab that quality time when I can.
Mom thanked me for helping, which was unexpected, because I thought she would have protested vigerously re the sale of the house.
Now it is a matter of catching up with the jet lag. I need a vacation from my working vacation.

LET'S TALK said...

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D.K. Raed said...

This was such a wonderful log, Fran, really capturing little moments in time. The "lamp" story reminded me of so much I went through w/my Mom. Pain & Tears, but also great joy to be of help when she needed it most.

And yes, nothing goes easy, especially when you're crunched for time. Things like the car & house repairs do seem like 3 steps fwd, 2 steps back. But that still leaves the 1 step fwd. You accomplished so much in your time there.

I love your resolve to USE the mementos you are shipping back, not letting them just sit there. So what if a few wine glasses get chipped, that IS life!

A toast for Cheers in Scotland is Slainte Mhath! (Good Health). The response is Slainte Mhor! (Great Health).

Fran said...

Let's Talk: Thanks for the award & compliment. This was one of those parts of life that had so many lessons to teach.

dk~ The lamp story is a classic glimpse of how dementia goes. I also learned a lesson about future potential requests for things- the answer is likely to be- it is stored in one of those many boxes. It will be interesting to see if, when her friend brings the little lamp to her if she is happy to have it, or questions why she brought it?

We asked Mm if there was anything special she would like saved. My Sister had given her a real, large stained glass Tiffany style floor lamp, which we brought to her, as well as a tall narrow shelf to store some special things she'd collected over the years- including her birthmonth Angel.
We did not want her to feel like she'd lost everything. We also kept 3 large yard bags of the best of clothes- things that work for her now.
We wanted to be sensitive about the house & yet another big change in her life.

Now that I am back home, things here are blooming & we had a 80+ degree weather day on Saturday, but rain & a little hail on Monday!
I don;t know if it is pollen/allergies or I picked up a cold, but I am sneezing & blowing my nose like crazy. I went to bed early because I was tired, but now I am up @ 2am drinking Breathe Easy tea, trying to get my head unstuffed.

enigma4ever said...

This is so beautifully written...and so amazing that you journaled all of are a wonderful daughter....

really touching...could not read without crying...

many glad that you are home...

take care of your cold...

Gary said...

Your mom sounds amazing. My mom is 82 and amazing too. That baby picture is classic too (and cute).