caregiver, family

The Longer Goodbye

My Miss Brenda has taken a few turns for the worse but no one prepares you for hospice or the hospice call including date of death.

I took the news calmly. But did question their all knowing practical knowledge of date and time of one’s passing. “How do you know?” “Are you sure?” “What makes you so positive?” They answered all with the confidence of seeing this before and in my head, I knew they had. Obviously.

My mom was a player in life pushing every physical limit and doing alot of damage to one’s body. Before my parents parted ways, they were quite the twosome, in their partying ways. My dad got sober. My mother. Never. So this early demise of body should not surprise, but it did.

No tears flowed after my hospice conversation. Very stoic and processing what I questioned but my strong exterior allowed me to create Frosty day, early birthday celebration, and just visits. On the otherside I was in constant contact with hospice. I knew everything at all times. Little pieces of me were breaking away as I focused on how to make the end “nice.”

A week into this personal journey hospice called again. “She improving.” “It’s a miracle.” This time I had no questions, just relief. Knowing full well that tomorrow is another day and yet another possibility of that phone call. While they predict the end of life to the minute. They do admit the miracles astound them. So, for right now My Miss Brenda is doing OK. Still under hospice care but not a patient with a date and time stamped in their file.

On my last visit. I cried. It hit me that she is alone with her TV and a bunch of health care techs and nurses. That’s it. She is alone with her thoughts and confusions and the reconciliation of her choices in life. While I am very close by, she is still alone. Driving home in tears, I realized that this is the world she built. She chose distance and still keeps me at arms length, but all her choice. When she does let me in, it is nice. It’s fleeting but it’s nice.

So me and my lady have more time. This will give both of us the time we need to truly say goodbye.

anxiety, caregiver, life

This Thing Called Life…

My days recently go from thinking of island life to going back to work. Now, I teach, so I have a few weeks of torture left. My mom has entered hospice. While that no longer brings me to a new level of panic, it does bring to light on what she can no longer accomplish that she once did with ease. Enter panic and the reality that our time is finite. This mixed with my recent back recovery and a few extra non-needed pounds. I am a mess who wants nothing more than to not be someone’s burden when there is more life to lead.

So while I have undergone weight gain and loss in my life. My consistent yo-yo has never been for any other reason than vanity and on the flip side, my love of food. Today is different I am now taking the time to read labels, give up salt, sugar, and the bad carbs. I am a new leafy eater with a side of protein. Right now I am cooking chicken and turkey to freeze for later in the coming weeks. I think they call this food prepping. I call this a forced chance to write. My goal is twenty pounds but I would be great with fifteen, as it might be enough to release the extra burden of stressors, I now feel truly caring for a parent who cannot take care of themselves.

The weight is heavy and mixed with everyday life almost too much as everything is out of my control. So I am going to learn to cook, meal prep, eat well for the first time in my life. I can control that. My exercise will be daily walking at 5:30 am to set me up for a successful school year, and I can control (not enjoy) those early hours. I will mix in meditation and restorative yoga as I heal and focus on our relationship as mother/daughter and probably write and focus on my grandson. It helps. Alot.

I am sure my next few or more blogs will be about my Miss Brenda. Of course liberties will be taken as that’s what I do. Take a story and try to see the lighter side of this thing called life. Follow along.

caregiver, echelon, family, fitness, life

Injured Not Out

Oh, I went boom. Metaphorically. In reality, I turned. Yes, turned. Insert ouch and two days in bed and nursing my back that has felt this pain before. On the third day, I rose to 1790 steps, and soreness. But I walked with the obvious delight and desire to get on my Echelon aka Peloton light. I am addicted. While tomorrow is out I will be back. Soon. Still not today, during this continuation of dribble, but soon.

My new found love of fitness has begged Santa for the tread so I can walk in the morning and ride at night. Oh, I hope he listens. My current level of fitness saved me from this small blimp being worse. So, thank you bike, miles, legs, and my new love of sweat and Amazon Lululemon dupes. I am a teacher by day. We don’t do “real.” It’s ok. I love teaching. Fake Lululemons are fine.

But this is not about me or my Santa wishes. But I hope he reads this! Hello, Santa? Are you out there??? This is about a reminder to be kind, gentle, and patient. It is about our “back” life coming full circle.

They say everything happens for a reason. This bump had a reason. I needed to get my compassion “back,” it was lacking, it was getting cranky, it was forgetting how hard raising a little person in pain is…insert child and his degenerative disc. Um, now I remember and while you would think I do not have to remember in this type of pain, my stubborn ways forced me to relive my own back issues, to give him the type of love and consideration he deserves on a daily basis. I often forget or push or etc. etc. I am difficult at best. Not that I am wrong. Just difficult. At worst I am truly a pain in the ASS. Or back. Both the same in this house. So while I recuperate, and I am. My son will never. His pain is tolerable. But never gone. Never. It is as it is, and this recent back boom, is now forcing me to remember that and to kind. Notice all he does with every painful obstacle standing in his way.

While I oohed and oohed…my kid was by my side. How sweet. Not one complaint. Just taking care of another back patient. He knew. I wanted to hug him and just say I am so sorry to give you this, but he knows. Or I hope he knows. If not, he just read it here, first.

So while we may both be metaphorically down, neither of us are out, and I will get back on the proverbially horse of fitness he will get back on his educational journey. Yes, it had to be inserted because I am a pain in the ASS.

caregiver, family, life

My Gal…

My mom made tough choices. Really tough ones and she missed my good stuff. The bike riding, the losing of teeth, homework, dinners, etc. All of it. It must have been hard, actually miserable, but she had to choose my stability. So she went one way and I went another. She missed motherhood or did she give the ultimate satisfaction of motherhood. I don’t ask. It’s in the past. I am ok and right now I am the mom of my mom. It’s ok. The memories I build with her now will be my forever memories.

My Miss Brenda the most social bee in The Woodmark, no longer likes to participate in “things.” So on Sundays we go crafting. It’s fun. Everyone likes me. Today, I got high-fives from those that could. Soon, they will be on my Christmas card list. They call me “Brenda’s daughter.” It’s fine, names are overrated. Either Miss Teacher, Brenda’s daughter, Senators wife or my faves mom and grandma. I think my husband still uses my name. I don’t listen. Ever.

So, I am learning. I can’t change her. I tried. So I might as well join her, literally. If this is our time, to be at a craft table, is our time. So be it. But be on the lookout as I think I am giving wood frames and birdhouses for Christmas while creating memories of a lifetime!

caregiver, grey hair, life, retirement

The Facebook

I like to believe I could give up on The Facebook if it were not for my mom, my Miss Brenda. Mmm. Maybe not, but I believe I could. Now, The Instagram and The Twitter, never. My mom inserts the “the,” not my terminology, as I am social media savvy. So I think. Actually, I know I am not. I am 58 my generation is just cocky not savvy at social stuff. How could I toss away the connection I get with the same ten friends over and over…I mean they are sick of me. I could leave. Frankly, kinda sick of them. Sorry. I could leave. So, I must stay for the forward thinking ads that take me down rabbit holes and mine for information. Yes, that is it. Google knowing my every move is an inviting reason to carry on this love/hate relationship. Something to stay for. Nope. The games. They are stupid and after I play them I never post my answers, due to the embarrassment, of playing them in the first place. Nope. Nope. Nope. So, the question remains, why not just hit that delete button, that never really deletes you, but it must feel amazing once pressed. Just think, a life you do not share, overshare, or have a need to share. I understand that many live like that, but if there was a twelve-step program for social media, I would be on it. No, I stay for my Miss Brenda.

Please note: I love my mom to pieces this is just how my brain and how our relationship works. Phew. Hopefully, this is understood. Don’t want to be labeled as that mom hating blogger because I use a moniker other than mom. Not me. At all. Let’s carry on.

My Miss Brenda is what they call her at her senior living facility. It has stuck with me. In a way it was my transformation that I am now really the mom. Yup, two kids. Thirty and eighty-one, they never played well. Sharing was a bitch. They never really got it. Actually, neither did I…the only child syndrome and all. I digress.

We have had our challenges beyond the usual mother/daughter stuff. But our love is real. Very. She is pretty, very social, and stands her ground. Now. But in her former life she ran away from controlling parents that led her to controlling men. Never physically hurt. Just emotional hurt. Her Romeo was never to be hers, and frankly, I am not sure she ever got over that moment in her life. Maybe. We don’t bring it up. It is all water under the bridge that will be in her lasting memories. Along with The Facebook. Sweet, actually. Cue a Shakespeare soliloquy.

Back to the title. The concept of a phone that does more than call is foreign. Very. I spent two hours times two days in Verizon with her, it was not enough. But if you need a new carrier I recommend them as being the kindest souls on the planet, my business is with them for life. Anyway, we learned texting. That worked. We even got that special stylus that made her feel fancy. Very fancy. I bought a pack of them. Just in case. Then she found facebook one day. “Tracy, my friend taught me about something today. It’s called The Facebook. I can see everyone’s lives.” Great. Within the first week she was hacked, the second week I started receiving odd messages from my Miss Brenda, definitely not written in her style and tone. By the third week we ended all of her accounts and got her a new phone, new number, and a new The Facebook identity. Yup. All of her financial stuff was transferred and secured. SO MUCH FUN. I was not a happy camper during this period and suffice to say the man paying the bills was beside himself. The hubs constantly questioned “Why does she need Facebook?” “It is not Facebook,” I said. “It is The Facebook, and it is her window to me, to us, to her grandson and great-grandson.” Proud of my absolute shutdown and the win for The Facebook.

Enter stage-right, Covid-19 and our absence from contact for one year, almost to the date, The Facebook was her saving grace. My posts are for no one but her… she enjoyed my over-sharing my true lack of importance for that third cup of coffee picture or my big toilet paper search. It made her laugh. Nope, it is all for Miss Brenda. I know no one cares and it mostly looks self-important but it’s neither. She truly gets a kick out of my daily pursuits, as trivial as they are. So, I carry-on.

We recently slipped into a new phase. Just using messenger (no more texts) or calls, unless she finds the “phone” image accidentally and of course where she stores her notes. Yes, Miss Brenda has notes. All neatly written in a notebook. Probably, color coded. Another new use is the all important The Facebook calls without the FaceTime camera. That is too many instructions. I have tried. There are no words, colors, tabs, or even a separate notebook for camera use that is going to get us over our hump. We are happy. It works. She feels as if she is experiencing my adventures with me and right now that is the best gift I can give.

I love you Miss Brenda! See you soon!