Tuesday, August 11, 2015

sweet mysteries of life...

I drag my ass out of bed to leave for work at about 6:15am. I ride home exhausted, ready to fall asleep upon walking in the door. Then, dinner is always nice. And now it is 10pm and I'm wide freaking awake and unable to fall asleep.

Probably, I guess, I'll be awake until midnight and the glorious cycle will begin again.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Adulting is Hard

My son got let go from his part time job. There were a number of issues. A lot of it is based in his learning disability. And what looked like the absolute perfect match of a job (and it started out that way) seems to not be the absolute perfect match of a job.

He works with a job coach at his high school, and the person who runs where he was working had a list of issues. I talked those through with the Boy and I thought he'd be able to go back to work on Friday ready and corrected. She emailed me this afternoon to say she didn't think this was the right job for him, and that she can't provide constant supervision for him. So she was deciding to let him go.

I'm incredibly sad for him. And he is very disappointed, and feels that he could have done better for her. I think communication was an issue but she claims her staff was very communicative with him (thing is, he's not so... they can be perfect and he'll still miss the details).

So he worked for 5 months there, and I'm hoping she'll be good and kind and provide him a reference. That's all you can ask for.

Kind of feel like I have to job coach him, life coach him, all the time. And I don't know if it is part of his learning disability or the fact he is 18 that gets in the way. But man. Adulting is hard. I am still learning for myself that adulting is hard. And I'm watching it be hard for him too and it isn't fun.

My co-worker and I talked about it and she said that at age 22 she was just recovering from completely ruining her life. She said that  he's not ruined, he'll recover, he's got support. At least he's got that going for him.

And there was a news report recently of a young man who had threatened to blow up a local college and kill police officers for ISIL, and his dad turned him in. Doug said to me "so yeah, I guess it could be worse?"

I'm just bummed because he seemed incredibly happy and in the groove. Seemed is the operative term.

So while he was losing his job we got him enrolled in EMT classes for the fall. The more I think of it, the more I'm not even sure this is the right career choice for him. If he couldn't listen and follow instructions at a doggie day care, how is he going to work for an ambulance company. But this is what he wants to do, and I'm hoping it works out, if nothing else that he passes the course, gets his license and then either works at this or gets a job with the forest service as a ranger with extra skills.

I don't know. Adulting is so freaking hard.

Monday, July 13, 2015

the opening of a tiny vent

Dear Person,

Thank you for your followup on the issue that you submitted recently. I told you in the response that this was indeed a problem, and our team would look into it. I also said that as soon as I had an answer I'd get back to you. The fact that I haven't gotten back to you does not mean I don't care, or that we're not working on it. We just don't have a report for you just now. Yes, yes, I do know your request is very important. Of course it is. I value that. But to be honest, our team has a lot going on. And they're working on multiple issues. And yours is on the list. As mentioned earlier, as soon as I have an update for you I will let you know. You'll be the first to know. Please stop asking once a week. Stop. I won't reply if you ask again next Monday.  And then you'll have to wonder, did she die? No, no I didn't (I would say if you were to ask next Monday if I'm dead) you drove me nuts and I decided not to play this little update-you game. Just be patient, find something else to do with your time, and watch your email for a posted update when the situation is resolved.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Best always,

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

bad dream

I had a dream last night where a friend came over to our house for a campfire, and complained the whole time. This friend was smoking and yelling and carrying on, and complaining about the mosquitoes.

My neighbors were there, stunned at the behavior and wondering about the company I keep.

To stop the problem, I sprayed bug spray all over my friend, head to toe, in spite of multiple objections. Then I wrapped my friend in a roll of plastic wrap from the kitchen, tightly, assuring that this will keep all mosquitoes off.

Then, I set the person on fire with a Tiki torch and liquid bug repellent goo that goes in the torch.

My friend tried to get away, falling, flailing, screaming, engulfed. Dead. I sat and drank my beer and read my book. It was very quiet.

I woke up this morning with bug bites all over my feet.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

All men must die. And women too, I guess...

Death was busy in the past week or so.

My friend passed away, the one I stayed with on a long Saturday night recently.  And in typical me fashion, I missed seeing her before she went by about 45 minutes.

She was moved into a skilled nursing facility, thankfully, about a week and a half after I stayed with her. 3 days later, she passed on.

I was on my way to see her when she died.  I was disappointed that I didn't make it over to her after work the night before, as my plan was initially. And of course I kicked myself because I had every chance in the world over those three days, but I wasn't sure what the hours were that I could visit in the evenings and I was reluctant to find out. Saturday is always a better day. And of course, I laughed at myself. Because isn't that just like me to end up doing that.

I am honored to have had several days of time with her close to the end here. I met another friend who was headed that way and headed him off at the pass. We had coffee and talked for a good long whie.  51 years old, and 8 years of battling her cancer were finally over. But not without a hell of a good fight.

Well done, Good and Faithful Servant.

A lady from our church passed away the same day. This came as somewhat of a surprise.

Doug was her deacon, and he would visit after church when we went (which wasn't every week, but...) he would always make it a point to bring her the bulletin and any news. And on Wednesdays we'd get a nice thank you note in the mail. It always warmed my heart that she wrote thank you notes for a piece of paper and a five minute visit.

She was a lifelong resident of Newbury, MA, and lived in a sweet little house beside a cemetery and across the street from a church she'd attended since childhood. When that church changed philosophy (went from a "Christian" church to an "Earth Centered Kind Of Hippie Worship Church Which Didn't Mention Jesus") she started going to our church. It broke her heart to leave her church, but everyone loved her at our church and we all took good care of her.

Last year she moved into a nursing facility, with a gorgeous view and a giant solarium, giving up her little three bedroom historical house in Newbury MA and her lifetime of memories. It never felt like it suited her.

At the assisted living facility she often expressed how disappointing it was not to be in her house. Sure, they were nice. Sure, they took care of her needs. But she missed her house, and her things, and she wore a slight hang-dog expression when she'd gesture around the small room at her bed, her recliner, her bureau and the small bathroom.

Not quite the same.

The last time we saw her was a couple Sundays ago, and she had some complications medically, which she didn't want to discuss because it "wasn't lady-like" (she was very much the lady) but she did shrug and say "oh I may as well tell you..." I won't share it here with you, because you don't need to know.

She was fully dressed, coordinated, shod, perfectly groomed, and was waiting for her niece and grand-niece to come visit for the family reunion. I hope they were able to transport her there comfortably, and I hope she had a good time.

I didn't get the chance to ask her how it was.

Her funeral was on Wednesday morning June 17th, and Doug went representing us while I packed us up and got us organized for a trip west.

Mildred, "Middie," Grandma
Doug's grandmother passed away on Tuesday June 16th. Doug's sister had emailed me in the morning saying that she didn't think Grandma would make it much longer.

She was 97.

Over the past five or so years, every time we went to see her she'd cry as we were leaving and say "This is the last time I'll get to see you..." and I'd say, "oh Middie, you're talking foolish. We'll see you soon."

This is my biggest regret - that we didn't make it out there in quite a while to go and visit. I think it had been close to two years. But time flies and I can't quite remember.

I found out she and I have the same middle name, and I said to Doug "why didn't you ever tell me that her middle name was Louise?" And he looked at me and said "I suppose I didn't know that."

We stayed the weekend and helped clean out her room. A tiny little space that was packed with tons of things. Different than Janet's room at her facility, which was sparsely decorated and didn't seem to have a lot of things, Middie's room had tons of stuff in it. She had so much clothing. I took a Russian style faux fur winter hat that I'll wear with pride, and a dozen very fragile looking handkerchiefs. Doug and Jess laid claim to the weiner dog figurines. Grandma loved Dachshunds very much. When she moved into the assisted living facility, Jess got quite a few of the figures and cherishes them greatly.

She liked angels too, and people bought her angels. Bonnie kept trying to get us to take one, and to be honest I'm kind of creeped out by them. Now I kind of regret not taking one or two, just because they were hers, and she cherished them greatly.

I should cherish them greatly, because of her love. But I just couldn't.

There were these frog pictures that were in her bathroom for a million years. I remember seeing them in her house bathroom at the first place (the last house before the next two senior residences and the nursing home) where I met her. I kind of wanted them. But Doug didn't.

I laughed and said "come on, you want these! You took baths under these when you were like four! This is a big part of your history!" But he shook his head and quoted "A Mighty Fortress is our God" with the single line "let goods and kindred go."


Additionally, my friend Robin's mom died very unexpectedly. One day, she was at the playground with the grand children, playing on the swings and climbing the jungle gym. The following morning, she didn't wake up.

Robin said "I want that to be me. I want the last day I am on Earth to be a day where I'm playing and doing wonderful and fun things." How cool is that? Especially if you are 88.

So a lot of different deaths, and all of them women. Some deep in my life and some on the periphery. Long battles and short surprising ones. All told, Doug's stolen line from Martin Luther rings hard and true. But I wish I took those frogs.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Please don't grow up..."

September 1997, Plum Island, Newburyport, MA, the United States of America, Continent of North America, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, the Solar System, the Universe, the Mind of God. 

I have a lot of friends who have very young children. Heck, I have friends who are grandparents. Let that sink in for you folks... people my age have grandbabies. It boggles my mind.

But I'm alright with the progression of time. I truly am. I embrace it as part of who we are, and want to love every moment of this walk.

Some of my friends, they are not willing to march along with the second hand.

On the social media scene, folks with the wee ones are often posting pictures of the kids and saying "Please stop growing!"
"Don't grow up!"
"Stay this way forever for me!"

and the like. I find it distressing. I hold my tongue, because I know what they are saying - they love their babies. They love their little ones. They cherish the cute, the small, the new adventures every day. They want to stop time. Freeze this moment.

How many songs are there about "Time in a Bottle," and holding back the hands of time. It is a truly romantic ideal. And when you're staring into the big googley eyes of your little one, with drool on their chin and banana in their hair and they smile that giant two-toothed grin at you, you kind of die, right there.

And you don't want to move along, ever.

But it frightens me, you know why?

If you want a baby, or a toddler, or a young boy, or pre-tween girl to stop growing, stop aging, you're basically saying "die now." And I'm not kidding when I say that. That is what you're saying.

Don't progress past this point, don't grow, don't learn, don't change, don't learn to back-sass, don't learn to apologize and accept responsibility. Don't.

Cease your development, because I like you this way.

And the parents, if I were to say this to them would back track hard and say "no no no no no no that isn't at all what I mean!"  I know. But it kind of is. And they need to stop saying that.

Instead, I want to offer an alternative. I want parents to say this.

"Grow up to be amazing, as amazing as you are right now!"
"Be the greatest man you can be when you're big!"
"Can't wait to see what you are like in 5 years!"
"Keep going! You are making me so proud!"

When I look at that picture up there, before we had a diagnosis for Geoff for Nonverbal Learning Disorder, before they both did Shakespeare in the Park, before Jess needed back surgery, before Boy Scouts, Camping, Theater at high school, that's a pretty special little point in time there and one would think "wow. I want to keep these precious babies just like this."

And to be honest, I don't think I ever said or felt that even once.

As a parent, instead my mind was on now, today, and points beyond today. My mind then, with Geoff eating sand and throwing it in the air (I think almost immediately after this was taken he got sand in Jess' hair and she pushed him over) was on what they were going to be, when Geoff would walk, would Jess like to bike ride and hike (no, and yes). I never once imagined Geoff would join Cub Scouts, and stick with it all the way to the end. I never imagined at all that Jess would be mini-me with her sense of humor or everything she likes and loves (well, yeah, I hoped it).

I want parents to look at their babies and say "I love the grown up you will be." And then make them be that grown up.

Train them, teach them, guide them, support them, live as a wonderful example to them even when you make mistakes.

And then when they grow up and they plan on their own wedding, something like this may end up at your seat at the rehearsal dinner.

This image is stolen from my friend Maria who is currently Facebook posting gorgeous pictures from her son's wedding weekend and cracking everyone up. 

Looks like Maria did exactly what I hope parents will do.

I know I enjoyed them small. I bet Maria did too. But let me tell you, when you're a grown up and you watch your grown up "baby" do amazing things, the world moves. You see that small Cub Scout, or you see the little leaguer, or the girl in the t-shirt and overalls trying to ride the bike, and you say...

"Stay this way forever for me!"

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

She's got a way about her...

Last night as he was leaving, my father in law hugged me and had tears in his eyes. He said "I just want to say..." and he looked away, "you've got an air about you."

I smelled my armpits and told him I'd be more careful with the roll on antiperspirant in the future.

He kind of laughed and said, "no. I mean, with people. You have something. Watching you talk to people at the graduation and then the neighbor kids in the yard and playing with them with the dog. You just make people feel so comfortable. Those kids wanted to tell you everything they think and know. And your neighbors coming over to see you. You just have something."

Never have I received a bigger compliment.

He left and I went upstairs to get ready for bed. I've always loved my father in law. He's a character. And I adore spending time with him. I told Doug what he said and he agreed, "it is one of the things I love most about who you are."

Anyway. I want to always be that person, that my Father in law talks about me being.

It was hard not to cry myself to sleep.

In other news... My son graduated from High School this weekend. That's the only other big important thing that has happened lately.

Some of you (3 maybe) have followed his tales through this blog and other places over the years. This is a special moment. I never doubted he'd graduate. But it was a long road to get here, wasn't it?

I talked to the parents of a girl who used to sit next to Geoff in first grade and my fondest memory of their daughter was how helpful and loving she was with Geoff because he had no concept of boundaries. The end of my desk is the beginning of yours and I should not put my stuff on your desk? What? Watching all these kids, some of them he was close to back in the day and others who he is close to now, walk across the stage and take their place as No Longer High Schoolers in this world.

The Eagle ceremony was the "big" event. But this was super nice. And look. He smiled for a picture.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Doggie Heatstroke

Yesterday, Geoff took Brodie for a long walk. He has taken her on this walk many times, but for some reason, yesterday was not a good day. It wasn't really that hot, but she started to struggle. About a half mile from the house she just laid down by the side of the road panting hard and fast, her eyes bloodshot red, and she wouldn't get up. He tried to coax her up... and started to dial my number on his phone.  He didn't quite know what to do. 

A woman had passed him, and turned around, came back and offered him a ride. Now, most kids might say no - I'm calling my mom, but Geoff agreed. She was half his size, no possibility that she was looking to abduct him or hurt him. She opened up her hatchback and Geoff lifted Brodie in. They were at the house in a matter of minutes and Doug began hosing her down with the garden hose. 

Bringing her inside, she laid down on the rug and was just not doing well. I got to google the heat stroke first aid and we figured she needed to be put in the tub after we took her temperature and it was 105 degrees.

Cool water in the tub for her to be in, and cups of water poured over her head. Eventually she started drinking the water too, which was a good sign. 

We got her out of the tub and she stumbled around drunk-like. She flopped down on the floor on the shower curtain (which Geoff had dramatically torn off the wall to get the tub accessible. I had to laugh - dude. Shower curtain moves to the end of the tub but ... whatever). 

We let her sleep on the floor for a while, checking in on her. Doug put the air conditioner in the window in our room, and brought her in the bedroom with him. 

For the rest of the day, she walked around with her tail between her legs looking like she thought she did something wrong. I felt awful for her, and then coming here to my friend's house all I can think of is how Brodie is doing... 

Can't wait to get home to see her. 

Long Night

It was a long night for everyone...

A couple of years ago I reconnected with a college friend on the Facebooks, you know, like you do.

My friend has advanced cancer of the colon and I think the liver. She vanished from Facebook for over a year and a lot of people on a regular basis were calling out to her ... are you there? hello? anyone? can someone get us an update?

She updated us that she was in and out of hospitals, receiving treatment. but nothing was working. I got a text from her one day saying she was in the hospital, she wanted to see me. So I went.

She is in great need of 24 hour care but only gets partial care. I won't go into what she has to do on a regular basis, but she's incredibly uncomfortable and just really wants to be admitted to hospice and finish this life.

Hospice cannot admit her, she's not at "that point" yet. She was not receiving the kind of care she wanted from one hospital so she went to another hospital, not for more treatment but just to try and get relief from her pain and discomfort. The second opinion from the other hospital resulted in the decision that she needed a surgical procedure to try and widen her colon to allow her to more successfully go to the bathroom. That procedure was done last week and she came home from the hospital yesterday morning. She asked me to come be with her on the overnight. I had told her I could be available on the weekends to help her out and I think she heard "I can stay every weekend."

She was in a panic when I told her that I wasn't sure that I could come, so I came. I spent the night here... came without real hesitation but I'm sure that she should not be home alone. Part of me is incredibly worried and upset - there isn't 24 hour coverage for her and I can't do this every weekend. I have no idea how long she will live... it could be 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years?

Anyway - I brought my laptop and did some work for work. My other laptop for the job that I don't really have anymore that I'm helping with got a virus so my friend is clearing it up for me. I have to pick that up today.

I got a horrible night's sleep, not because of my friend but because of her neighbors. She lives in a beautiful old one-story ranch house with a mother in law apartment tacked on the back - one room, kitchen, bathroom, private entrance, parking on its own.

The people who live in the big house have a room butt up against this one where they watch TV. I can see the kitchen and living room from here - it is an L shaped house, and the lights were all blazing, the tv was turned up all the way, and a 2 hour infomercial for classics of American Country Music from the 60s and 70s was in full force.

Dear God. Two hours!

I had turned the air conditioner off so I could hear her if she got up or needed me.  I didn't realize how good the AC was at drowning them out next-door until I stood here in the dwindling cool and the silence.

My friend took meds at 11pm and told me she needed to take the round of pain medication again in 3 hours. 3 hours later, with Johnny Cash blaring through the wall, I went in to see her. She told me she could skip the pain meds for another hour or two, so I set an alarm for 4:30am to go check on her. The people in the next room started having a fight about something. I just wanted desperately to pound on the wall and scream, but I don't know them, and I didn't want to get my friend in trouble here. Which also is part of the reason why I think she wants to go to Hospice.

The yelling stopped, I dozed, the sky started to lighten, my friend needed medication so I hooked her up and we went back to sleep. Pouring rain began so I closed the windows and listened to the birds, the rain, the crickets, with the one open window so I didn't suffocate (it is super hot in here).

My friend woke up at about 7:30 and called my cell because I was so deeply asleep that I didn't hear her call me from the next room. We did her pain pills and I made her a hard boiled egg and she ate it with some yogurt and tea. We sat together quietly for 2 hours.

The hospice nurse came to the house and knocked on their front door at about 9:30am. POUNDED on it. I think the neighbors are all still sound asleep, so I sat here laughing. Ha ha. That's what you get for keeping me awake until 3am!

I need to leave here at 11, and the next person does not come until 2pm so I am feeling horribly guilty and sad. I don't want to leave her alone here. She doesn't really like the guy who is coming, and it is kind of hard to watch her treat him. He's trying hard and she doesn't appreciate it. He is, admittedly, a little annoying and I bet I'd be annoyed if he was here trying to take care of me.

It's hard - I asked her where her family was. They live an hour away but her dad is ill, and a recluse, and doesn't ever leave the house. Her mom can't drive or travel. Her brother lives an hour beyond them and I guess hasn't made a huge effort to be of assistance.

I'm sitting in the living room while the Hospice nurse is doing her second round of paperwork. Turns out she was on the list, and receiving Hospice at Home for a week or so, but the procedure she had done this week actually kicked her out of Hospice eligibility ... so yesterday she called them and unleashed. So the nurse is here. Doing her intake over again. Doug explained to me that in a six month period you can only go through intake to Hospice twice, so ... this would be her second. And you can only be on Hospice for six months. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, because I love my friend but ... I hope this sticks, and I hope someone sees that she really needs to be in patient somewhere. I don't think this is fair to her.

Meanwhile, in the living room here I'm surrounded by tons of stuff. She has a ton of things, stuff, boxes, gifts clothes, some sort of a wooden barrel with blankets in it. Styrofoam ice boxes. There is a ton of stuff in here. And I can't imagine who takes care of this when she's gone. It's only one room. I think that when she goes into in patient care or she passes away, that's when everyone will show up to help. All the people who don't stay over. I just have a feeling. I don't want any of her things.

So I'm okay being here for her. I don't know for how long. I would love if she was able to move into a skilled nursing facility or something but ... she's here. We'll see what happens next.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Running into the Former Co-workers

The first contract that I worked down this way in Boston was at a travel agency, working on their websites. It was before the whole hospitalization wackiness, and when I lost that contract I was sad. 

I really liked my co-workers. One specifically, technically my boss, Andrew. What a nice guy. Super laid back, I think he was from Georgia, great sense of humor. And he'd come to me and say "Hey. I'm in a pickle. I need your help." 

And I'd say "Please tell me about your pickle." He'd laugh. I'd laugh. And he'd tell me about his pickle. 

The pickles usually were about incorrect data on the website. Someone gave wrong descriptions of trips and then someone from legal or "upstairs" would notice and heads would roll and screaming commence, so Andrew would run down and have me fix it. Or once the developers built some module where the price and percentage of savings were entered, and the system would just do the math, so that later if 20% became 25%... no one had to think about it. But the math thing was wrong. And 159 trip packages all needed fixed now. Because customers were doing the math and coming back with arguments. 

Very important pickles. And they always seemed to happen at 4:30pm. Sometimes on Fridays. 

I had coffee with him last fall, and they'd moved him into a new position doing analytics and performance stuff. He was distracted the whole time by his phone, emails and texts, and I was disappointed because I wanted to sit and talk to him like people, without other people butting in. I asked if he was in a pickle and he pretty much said yeah... so I told him to go find someone to get him out of it. 

Yesterday I was out for a walk around 2pm. I was meeting another friend for late lunch, and he was walking down the street toward me. It was wonderful to see his smile, and we stood and chatted on the street for a bit. I gave him the elevator speech about the contract end and the real job starting, and how our office moved and we're all the way down there (I pointed) now. 

He told me he missed me, and no one could get him out of pickles as well as I could.