Monday, November 26, 2012

The Amazing Shrinking Woman

Mom has lost so much weight. A statuesque and large woman, we proudly share the image of viking/amazon woman. We are not thin folks.  Soft and squishy hugs and lots of gravy make a substantial grandma.  No more. Her unwillingness to eat has impacted her body remarkably.  I took her to the doctor for her physical and now she has lost even more weight. Since we started this adventure three years ago she has now lost 50 pounds. That is a huge physical change.

None of her clothes fit.  As winter quickly closes in the size 20 wool pants and 2x sweaters she insists she will never be able to button because she is too fat, actually fall off.  She has become a size 16/14 with a body image that simply doesn't match.  As I remove the now over-sized wardrobe from her closet she is not triumphant, like someone who had succeeded in a diet would be.  She is bewildered.  She thinks she is gorging on food at meals. She isn't. I check. She simply doesn't eat much anymore. Whatever is on her plate, she leaves half or all. 

 Her cupboard and mini fridge are stuffed full of easy to eat snacks and alternate meals which she asks for and never opens. Only the bananas are eaten, and now she says "don't bother with those, I don't need them anymore."   I still cannot make her eat. I could not when she lived here without lots of cajoling and manipulating.  As she has lost more of her mind, it has become even more difficult to awaken her appetite. She is disappearing. It bothers me and makes me sad.
Her body matches her mind now.  It looks vaguely like her, but different.  It lacks substance and seems somehow wasting.  Each time I see her she is less there and more clueless.

I would fix her.  I cannot. 

Great mystery. You are.  I get it.   What I am doing no longer works.  Show me another way so I can keep going.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"home" for a visit

Mom has lost 25 pounds since moving into the assisted living facility.  She doesn't like the food and isn't eating.  She has been depressed and it has been hard for her to get motivated to eat.  I had a couple of days off in a row.  I was supposed to actually rest and recoup some energy before beginning a marathon summer internship.  I didn't.  I brought mom "home' and fed her. I watched my dog get happy, waking the house with her thumping tail wags on the floor. I watched my mom's cat come out and purr, chasing toys that had become dusty. We were alive again.  I still have mixed feelings about the Facility she now calls "the home". They take good care of her when she cooperates.  I felt like my very empty lonely house was "home" again.  And parts of the visit were a great success! Mom ate! And some of it wasn't.  I got too tired quickly. We simply could not do it alone. 

Nothing is perfect and maybe this will be all right.  She is back now, willingly and happy, (and currently well fed) in "the home". Not my home.  We decided "It was a vacation only".  It was good, but we all agree, I cannot keep it up.   We have plans for a return vacation when my internship ends, and then we will also have pie.

Sacred keeper of my heart's joy;
Thank you for this brief island of happiness and reunion.  Memories may flee, but love and wagging tails remain to bring us peace and smiles.


Thursday, March 1, 2012


My real dad died a few weeks ago.
It wasn't totally unexpected but it was sudden.

The words stop.
First numb.


then frenetic.

then overwhelmed,

 and now...

I find myself sad.
Unbelievably sad.
Now, out of no where,  I cry for him and all the loved ones who have died.  So many all together.
The tears that suddenly flood my eyes are just... mine. I could say..ah! there is daddy! Or there is my step dad (was it just six months ago?) there is grandma, there is my dear kitty(gone before Christmas), there is my mother's former self.

I miss them all. I am going along just fine. Life is working, I am working. I am being present.  I am enjoying my grandchild, and then...I cannot focus.

Grief is sneaky that way. It can hide underneath, like a bittersweet aftertaste in wine. No matter how much I know about this intellectually, no matter how many people I have accompanied as their loved ones have passed away, or how often I listen to the sorrows of others, I didn't know.

Now I finally get it.
This is unbelievably hard.

And I was funny before. (maybe not here, but in the real world, according to one of my students,  I am "hilarious")
It is harder to be up for others.  I need something else now.

I need to be here for me.

Now I am embracing sad.

Thanks dad.  You have taught me more compassion.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Polly anna's persistance price- a lament

I am on an emotional mega-coaster.This isn't anything I can control and knowing that isn't real helpful right now. Too much is sometimes just that. Too much.   My cat died the day after Thanksgiving  and I became a grandmother for the first time less than a week later.  Thanksgiving was wonderful, then my father in Law had a stroke when he got home.  He is experiencing an amazing recovery which is fabulous, but feels too weak to drive, (I applaud that choice) so cannot come up to meet the baby. My adult children are living their independent launched lives, as planned and prayed for,  and I miss them with every fiber of my being. I miss my mother on so many levels.  Mom is happier in "the home" but she is not eating and becoming more and more "absent". I cannot get to see her often enough. The work projects I spent so much energy on at the hospital are going without a hitch and yet I am crying myself to sleep. I  have been so unbearably sad for the last month, it is remarkable that I got up this morning.  My life is incredibly full of amazing things.  I have been working , constantly working actually, in an effort to hold back this dark familiar LONELY pit.  I know intellectually that overwork, be it as a caregiver or as a chaplain or even as a the funny wife of my nerdy husband, has a price all its own. While being in the moment with patients in need, or students  in turmoil,  friends in crisis, removes me, if just for the moment, from my own heavy grief burden, it doesn't do anything to cure it.  When I stop, I   S T O P. Life pours in full force and I freeze.

OK Grimelda.  I am finally listening.

I am going to the Caregivers support group now.  I am going to hang onto every positive, every hopeful thing I can muster.  I am going to find laughter hiding in the muck and I am going to go ahead and weep for Kitty, for my mother's self, for my pining dog and for the neglected life I leave in the wake of my business.  And I am going to sing. I am going to sing of the miracles of a healthy granddaughter, a loving husband, amazing adult children, and the persistence of parents.

Amen Amen and Amen

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

not quite lost

I have way too much to say and no time to say it.  I feel lost in my head. 
Today I found a new help. A peer support group for chaplains in my area and ...I am no longer quite as lost. Just sojourning.
Thank you Grimelda.
Amen Amen Amen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Scrap over Scrabble

I played a game of Scrabble with mom.  It has been a long time since we have played one on one.  When she was in my house she always had some task I needed to do for her and we had not "played" for over a year. Scrabble has always been a favorite for us.  Mom raised us on educational toys.  No collecting of action figures for us.  Maps, geography games. chemistry sets and hundreds of variations of word games comprised our rainy day pastimes.  When I was in High School, the English teachers from my school gathered in our dining room daily for intense Scrabble games.   We were "hard core"!
Just last week mom had bragged to me how she had 'won" scrabble as if it was the proof she was not demented like all those "old people". 

I noticed by fourth turn that she was not "getting it." I played less competitive and more cooperative to make it fun.  When she tried to play two words in one turn because she wanted to have it be that way, I had to notice. I helped her remember the rules.  When she insisted that "hooky" was Hokey, I let her have it.
When we finished she had lost to me for the first time.  I could not pretend to myself that she was not deteriorating mentally.  Luckily mom just thinks I "got all the good letters."  I heard that before. 
The good news? We had fun.  I will hang onto that.

May we always find the beauty in each encounter and let go of the "winning" so easily.
Amen, Amen and Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

out from the ashes, again

Today was support group.  I look forward to support group as if it were the only light in a storm.
Today did not disappoint.   It is no secret I am struggling right now.  I have been more depressed than this but I don't remember ever being this tired.  I must have been, but I don't remember it.   All this week I have been struggling to regain my physical strength, and my emotional fortitude.

One of the most outstanding moments for me today came as we were exploring ways we feed ourselves, healthy and unhealthy, when we are trying to refill/renew from the constant stresses of caregiving.  At one point, it was my turn and our group leader asked me, as she had everyone serially, what do I do to recharge.  It was to be something other than escape (like reality television or sleeping). I read that as something intentional rather than just surrender.  As I struggled to think of ANYTHING, I realized how depleted I truly feel spiritually.

I finally admitted all I wanted to do was crawl into a corner and sleep for a year.  "depression", my recurrent companion. So, been there, done that.  What worked in the past to get out?

oh crud.

Pray. Check.
Meds. check.
Therapy. check.
Whine appropriately. Check
But what was the one major thing I did every time in the past?  Before the others?

I quit my job!!!
 (did I just do that by moving mom?)
I took a long break from whatever career/job I had and let myself BE. I took  from three months to 18 months, and retooled for something else. I went to school, changed careers, three times I have burned out and three times I ended up...moving on to something new.

Crud. Really?
I kinda like this job.

Before I do anything so drastic, again, I am going to really think on this.  Oh, who am I kidding, I am going to Grimelda.

Grimelda, who some call god,
ummm, Really?
Listening here.
Any time.

I'll be the one napping and waiting for enlightenment over there in the chocolate aisle.

Amen, Amen and Amen.