Sunday, January 28, 2007

Martha Stewart I am not

A gross error in judgment finds me still sitting up minding a boiling pot for a delicious but time consuming dish with chicken and sausage and fresh marjoram. I didn't remember until 1 1/2 hours into the process why I never make said delicious dish. Three. hours. of. prep. time. Sigh.

An addendum to my previous husband's emotional response to the death of my grandmother? To ask me when I think I will be ready to try to have another baby. Interesting. I thought it was usually the woman who had that kind of reaction, but with the Minotaur, you just never know.

And the answer soon as I lose the ass I obtained from having the first one. Hopefully, sometime later this year. The Kraken's ever more sophisticated sentence structure leaves me longing for babyness. Today's contribution? After I put her hair in pigtails for the first time in many months, placing hands to head in abject confusion...."Mommy? I got a haircut?".


Well, we're home. Three days in the mountains, a funeral and about 100 Dora the Explorer videos later, we're home. Just in time to head back to work.

My mother is hanging in there. She is still very much in what we've always called "nurse mode" around our house (my mother is an RN - she and my father met in the emergency room of the hospital she was working at). She is very busy dealing with the details, and making sure everyone else is being provided a sufficient outlet for their grief. Of course, this begs the question, when will she deal with her own? My guess is that a few months from now, when my uncle has been placed in a group care facility, the house has been sold, and the rest of the details are finally dealt with, she will allow herself the luxury of loss, but not a moment before.

The funeral was not as horrible as it could have been. My brother provided his usual dose of levity during the receiving the night before, by trying to coax the six year old son of our cousin to look under the curtains surrounding the coffin to find out what was underneath. Gallows humor it might be, but we all needed a little break. All of my grandmother's home care providers came to pay their respects. After this many months, some of them had come to feel like family to us, and certainly to her.

I won't dwell on the awkwardness of trying to find a way to tell my cousin that it was ridiculous that my two year old was better behaved during the weekend's events than her 11 year old and almost 7 year old. Or on the incredible discomfort I left looking through her jewelry and trying to find pieces that reminded me of her that I would want to pass on to the Kraken someday. Everyone who's ever lost anyone knows how surreal those moments are, how detached from time.

Instead, I choose to marvel at the gift this woman gave her daughters in the last months of her life. She was cantankerous. She was obsessive compulsive. She was neurotic. But she was very, very sick, and the effort involved in escorting her through her end days brought my mother and my aunt to a state of union and harmony that I am not sure they have ever experienced, having all their lives walked on opposite sides of the fence. It is an amazing thing to witness, when you are used to sniping and long, measured pauses before responses, to suddenly see hands on shoulders, and heads ducked to ears in comfort and consolation.

I choose to remember that this woman, no matter what horror led her to leave her family behind at 13 and start a new one without ever looking back, lived in love with the same man for 50 years. Not something that happens every day.

I choose not to dwell on all the times I felt frustration with her, and all the huge life issues we couldn't agree on. I choose instead to think about all the times we watched the same Robin Williams movie at Thanksgiving because it was the only movie in her collection that didn't have Elvis in it.

I choose to think about all the pranks I played on her, because she so loved the attention. I choose to remember that I made the trek every year, and called her every week, and never forgot her birthday, even when she got so old and distracted that she forgot mine.

I choose to admire her. As different as we were, and as much as we sometimes didn't understand each other. She survived the Depression, almost certainly childhood abuse, the devastating and permanent incapacitation of her only son, and the loss of the love of her life. She was old, she was crazy, and she was a Republican, for pity's sake. But she was a tough old bird, and I loved her.

Whatever my own beliefs about the afterlife, I hope he was waiting for you, old lady. In his sailor's uniform, the way you always remembered him.

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Over

The definition of crappy drive home: crying in the driver's seat over the death of your grandmother in the morning while your daughter screams in the back seat because she misses her own grandmother, who left on the morning flight to go home and get the paperwork she needed to prepare for my grandmother's death.

As she did in all things in this life, the old bat (as she was fondly called) chose her own time, and the doctors be damned. In late October they gave her days or weeks to live. On January 22 she finally left us, only after she had finished all the things she wanted to finish, said goodbye to everyone she loved, driven at least one of the home health care workers to quit because of her obsessive compulsion about the placement of objects on counters and the arrangement of tupperware in cabinets, and (most importantly, I think) survived the anniversary of her husband's death one last time.

I have never seen a human being in so much visible pain, and I hope I never do again. I have made the appropriate pacts with my mother and sister in law that we will put pillows over each other's faces before allowing any of us to die like that. I am amazed that she had the strength of will to stay alive through that for anything, but she did. When the extended family left the house yesterday, she began to slip away. She never said another word after we walked out the door. Just quietly struggled for breath until the morphine and the tumor carried her out into deep water.

It is now up to us to settle her affairs. And decide whether to continue the search for clues about what made this woman leave home at 13, never to return or speak to her family again.

My own feelings aside, my heart is breaking for my own poor momma, and with the knowledge that one day I will hold her hand while she dies - something I cannot even fathom without struggling for breath myself.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Random Friday Musings

It's amazing how much more tempting, say,maple sugar candy is when you have made the decision to be deliberate about losing weight. Plus, my god, is there anything more delicious in the world? I don't think so, with the possible exception of cheesecake, coffee, and cigarettes. I haven't had a cigarette in years, but the others I enjoy whenever I can. I feel sad to be limiting these things, but really, my hindquarters are growing quite alarming.

I feel completely out of touch with my blog right now. Circumstances of late last year caused me to feel very uncomfortable posting anything of much significance, and I almost dropped the habit entirely. But everytime I consider that, something happens in the news and I wonder "What would Phantom say about that?" Or I see a happy female couple with a young child (like I did in the mall this evening) andI muse to myself...."Could that be Crunchy Granola and Politica?" I have these little moments all the time, constant reminders that there are people I would not wish to part ways with - many of them. And so here I am, promising to try, at least, to be here more often.

My holiday was mostly uneventful, which is a blessing. The visit to the in-laws was a little less stressful than it often is. My MIL slept most of our visit. The Minotaur and I talked some more about her probable depression and her refusal to seek help for it, but other than that, we mostly focused only on spending time with his brothers and their families - always a pleasant experience.

The Kraken did us the unbelievable favor of adjusting to Pacific time in a day when we departed to visit my own family, a far cry from last year's daily 4AM wakings. She charmed the masses with her potty using, big sentences,and liberal application of open mouthed kisses. Two feet of snow and the Kraken was able to flail her tentacles in it for the very first time, a sight worth seeing.

And also? When traveling across the country on an airplane, a portable DVD player and a large stack of Dora videos can mean the difference between abject insanity and complete tranquility. The whole trip, you say? You betcha - and no stinking apologies, either. LOVED it. Read a book on the plane for the first time in 2 years, and everybody was happy.

Home improvement is in high gear around here. The blinds were just the beginning. My poor Minotaur - there is no rest for the handy. The guest room is our next target, to be decorated in 1980's comic book - don't ask. There are some concessions a Gorgon has to make in order to get her own way in every other room in the house.

I am no longer among the platinum tressed. I am a redhead once more, and let me tell you, I am feeling fairly fetching, at least in that regard.

Finally, last night the Minotaur came home with an early Valentine's present for me - a new iPod shuffle. Those of you who know me in the real world may know that I work in a very technical field, but am not what you would call an early adopter. Therefore, this is my first mp3 player, and my husband is having to patiently explain to me how to get music onto this tiny piece of metal and plastic the size of my thumbs pressed together. He bought it for me after I said I wanted to start running again, thinking that having music would help. That, people, is a connected series of thoughts, difficult for the average Minotaur, and very touching to the average Gorgon. His birthday present definitely just got bumped up a notch.

I am going to bed. No work on Monday, so I will get back on and catch up with all of you on how your worlds are shaping up. As the Kraken would say "That's it! All done! Good night! I' m going to bed!"

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I'm baaaack

And feeling beyond behind. Two weeks in the wilds and no looking at blogs at all - I might as well have been camping. I promise to catch up soon, and update everyone on how traveling with the two year old Kraken panned out, but for now I must go and admire the beautiful faux wood blinds the Minotaur just hung in the dining room to replace the Hogwarts-esque velvet curtains that were closing the room in and collecting cat fur like my ex collected phone numbers.

Truly. The blinds are beautiful. They make me irrationally happy, like Fall weather and small children in hats.

Hope you all are well.