The Number 69

Sixty-nine arrived on the fifteenth of this month.
It will remain for another three hundred and sixty-four days.
It gave me an unwanted bolt of reality…one not to ignore.

As an adult, a birthday and another year passing was a usual happening.  I even enjoyed birthday presents!  Then, after the one major event which struck out at me seemed to change my world.  I began to feel I was on some precipice scratching for a twig that would steady a slippery slide.  The twig’s hold worked for many months.  Then to my exasperation,  a collection of deleterious ills happened to me.  I thought I had let go of the twig and landed in a huge cup and saucer.  The cup and saucer sat  on a spinning circle that slowed only for a second.  As it slowed, another little lifetime ill had occurred .

I often think–

At fifteen you pine for freedom so that you can do as you wish.
At 20 life cannot hurt you when you meet it head on fearlessly.
At 40 your career blossoms and you smile and count your money!
When 50 rolls around they say you are over-the-hill!  Stupid–
And the next decade begins a slow spiral own to the number 69.
The future is something akin to a crap shoot….Some Win and Some Lose.

Maybe now it is the time for bit more thought:

  • Norman Cousins–
    The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.
  • Robert Frost–
    The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
  • Me–
    Sometimes to soak myself in my tears and fears, I find that even misery can bring strength back to the mind.
  • John Scalzi—
    The problem with aging is not that it’s one damn thing after another—it’s every damn thing, all at once, all the time.
  • Linda Robinson—
    I have to start loving what comes next and stop hating I won’t be a part of it.
  • My Mother—
    To look backwards  does no good, look forward to Tomorrow and what it may bring.
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To Say Good Bye to Hy

 

hy

In June of 2013 I wrote a blog about my brother-in-law Hy who had Alzheimer’s and was staying with us at that time, (If you wish to read the blog entry use the following link: tp://wp.me/p13BTS-xh.  His life was in an upheaval; not liking where he was living in assisted living, he called me to come and get him and that he no longer wanted to live in a place he didn’t like.   The days while he was with us passed quickly.  Each morning I arose very early to find Hy somewhere near his room.   Each time I motioned for him to join me in the kitchen.  After making coffee and preparing something for breakfast (pancakes were high on his list of likes!)  he and I sat together chatting.

Often he would tell me tales of his family based on youthful or adult memories.  Almost always, a twinkle formed in his eye as his yarn unfolded and even when I knew the story was slightly different it didn’t matter because the twinkle made me smile.  Not often did we discuss his disease, although at times he acknowledged and shared his worries about having Alzheimer’s.

At the early breakfast table chats I was heavy, as I am now.  With a little prodding and a joke from him I tried to explain my eating patterns.  He was adamant that I needed to change and in the meantime he nicknamed me “Big Boy”, a name that he always remembered.   Regardless of the conversation, soon we would break into singing old songs which seemed to bring the chat all together so that we each had an enjoyable time.  

After his stay with us,  he moved to a very nice apartment in another assisted living apartment building.  After a year and a couple of months  of enjoying his new home, his condition quickly changed and Hy passed away following a stroke.

The change began when he sustained a head injury a few weeks before.   The emergency room nurse told us nothing serious was found and that he was going home that same day.  During the next two to three weeks Hy continued to deteriorate until the day he had the stroke.  He was in the hospital a very short time and discharged to his home with hospice.  M and I saw him two times after he returned from the hospital.

He laid in a small hospital bed in the corner of his bedroom.  A hospice nurse sat in the opposite corner watching him and waiting to see any changes and to give him the regimented dose of morphine.  This first day, even though medicated and unable to speak he was able to let us know he knew us.  Once he tried to speak.  I could tell he was asking me about something.  Finally I realized he was asking what was wrong with him.  I simply told him he had a stroke which his left side paralyzed.   He understood and began to hit the bad leg.  It was clear his was upset and sad at the grave change in his health.  I think he knew that his living was over.

We told him good-bye and  that we would see him the following day.  We left disturbed because he received only tiny dose of Morphine, an amount that  couldn’t even be labeled as a palliative dose.   We feared that with a minimal dose he would linger too long in this state and suffer each hour.

The next day’s visit was different.  The morphine dose was at an acceptable level.  We could tell that he would not last more than another day.  We bid our separate good byes to him and silently left with thoughts of him and his life running through our heads.  The next morning he died around 11:30 a.m.  

Death is not joyful, but at times death is better for the person.   He never wished to linger for death to arrive on some unknown future date and be tormented by a ravaged mind that could not understand it all.   Now it is over and the living must deal with his passing.  

Since we moved to Florida five years ago I have enjoyed having him at our house for small dinners and larger parties.  Years ago when M and I had a dinner party I realized there were two tables of guests that needed attention.  I took one of them to sit at and then put Hy and his wife at the other to make sure those guests were happy.  They were amazing at table talk and the guests enjoyed the attention they gave to them.   In Florida Hy became even more jovial and fun.   As his mind deteriorated Hy continued to enjoy life and be concerned about the people he knew.  So many times he called to find out how I was during the time that I had surgery, broken ribs, chemo, and a host of continuing problems. Yes, I shall miss him and continue to believe that to have been with Hy was to enjoy Life at the fullest.  Understanding that makes saying good-bye easier.

I need a plan, words, my love, my truth

Lying inside the tube of a Magnetic Resonance Image machine today gave me plenty of time to think since there is nothing to do than hold your breath, lie quietly and wait for the next directive from the technician.  The MRI doesn’t bother me as it does so many people and fortunately I am not claustrophobic so I was able to relax.  After the first few images taken I began to focus on the three small windows directly above my eyes. 

Looking at those three little windows I realized I was beginning to see them as a place where my memories became vivid images produced, not by my direct thinking, but through my subconscious.  

The first image was the day I sadly realized that one more attempt to stop smoking failed.  Smartly dressed in a gray Armani suit, silk tie and Italian loafers, I stood by my white, oval, marble desk in my office in the catering firm I ran.  All morning long I became more and more agitated because M and I  spent a fortune on the stop smoking patches that just came on the market.  Even today, they claim they will be successful.  As soon as I moved to the second, less potent level of the patch I realized the claim was a ruse.  That day my addiction won again.

Next came scenes at the hypnotist, the appointment with the doctor who claimed success by giving smokers injections in their noses, another of me standing at a counter at Walgreen buying a fake cigarette to puff on, then on another day I returned to buy a package of filters for cigarettes that were to help.  The images in those three little windows poignantly showed why I was in an MRI.

Now, the left lung lobectomy I have had begins a new trail.  Yesterday’s cat scan showed possible  lesions and maybe a blood clot  in my lung.   The new information reminded me that with each failure to stop smoking brought on gut wrenching worry for tomorrow.   Yet, regardless of my worries,  for years the addiction twisted my mind to continue while only being able to  hope that in some tomorrow I could beat the odds.

I  beat those odds ten years ago.  Even though I did I wasn’t successful.  I  accept whatever my destiny will be.   I wrote this path myself, although, it  bothers me how my actions affect  M, my sister and my family.  If I am lucky all of this ends will end well for me and I will be so thankful.

But then again–

I  need a plan, words, my love, my truth to give to them if or when——

A Saga of Death and Grief

Not long ago my brother-in-law died.  Death can not be escaped, but for him it should have been different.  When a brain tumor came back to haunt him, the family decided that he should be treated by laser surgery, rather than use normal surgical methods.  Surgeons, the family doctor and my spouse saw the laser to bring post surgical problems and we all pleaded to go with the surgeon they had used before.

Soon after surgery the problems began.  A laser is no different than chemo or other radiation.  It effects and success are not seen right away and while performing the surgery more tissue may be killed that surrounded the tumor.  Eventually the problems began as his condition deteriorated..    The nursing home (rehab center) he was sent to didn’t begin any kind of therapy for a very long time and good medical care didn’t happen.  Everyday it was sad to hear about the  last disagreement between family members, particularly in deciding what and who should take care of him and insure that proper care was administered.

Days passed, arguments heightened, care never escalated in the nursing home and he began retaining fluid at a high rate  The fluids leaked   outside of his body.  Some degree of medicine was given to him, but not enough to ready him for a trip to another state and on an airline.  The day arrived with each step arduously taken as he needed to move from here to there, step up, step down, move here and then know there is even more steps before it all stops.

At the destination, he needed to repeat all the moves again until he could be in the comfort of a bed.   Finally, he was at the place where he could rest and be loved.  Peace came to him during the early morning hours.

Bitterness, accusations, hate, sorrow, hysteria bloomed that morning for his family.  When I was told of his passing I though it to be a very distasteful joke.  I thought this couldn’t be true, how could this happen to him after all he had been through.  In the bitterness felt in the family everyone blamed each other for his death, but blame does no good.  He has gone away, gone far away and the only way to be with him is through the grace of finding peace and serenity and to understand that life lives in the heart forever.

I shall always remember him.  I shall continue to help the family understand their greif and that it has many steps that can not be escaped. You will experience each one regardless of the depth of your relationship and you will miss that person.  Grief is nasty, grief never really stops.  I know.  I have been there and walked that path.  I still walk it today.

In response I needed to write:

Tis No Longer the Season!

Our last Christmas together–2008

Dear Momma,
Christmas seems to be never more.  This year possibly was the worst I have ever experienced.  Even my one Christmas in Vietnam was so much better.  This Christmas, I realized, just how wonderful all the Christmas’ you had prepared made that day even more special.  Each year, without question there were cookies, candy, fruitcake and more.  Each of the last years held sweet memories of you and I mixing the batter for your fruitcake.  Then, the last couple of years I smile as Sherry stood in the kitchen groaning as she mixed the batter, rather than laughing and chuckling as you and I did.

Sherry made cookies this year.   She said you must have been there to have guided her to even begin rolling out a cookie.  She questioned why she was making Christmas goodies she never did in the past, nor didn’t need since now, there isn’t anyone to make them for.  Ah, Momma, I think for once Sherry missed the Christmas past with you the last years and then before the Christmas in the little yellow house with Daddy, or on the farm with all of us including Aunty and Mike.  Oh Momma, those were the days.  Christmas Eve, after the packages were open we got to eat your cookies, candies and fruitcakes and sip on Iya Coffee.  MMMMnnn how sweet and delicious each morsel was and then to sip on the coffee nectar made the evening even more memorable.  But it was more it was the lights twinkling and the traditions that you formed for us to carry within us the remainder of our lives.

Yes Momma, the traditions are in me and I desperately missed them this year.  Last year you had just left and I was too upset to even know Christmas was happening, but this year it annoyed me that this one very special day passed without fanfare.  Next year, Momma, I will go to Sherry’s and bring fudge and especially one of your dark fruit cakes, soaked in brandy and honey as you always did.

Ah yes, Momma, you are missed more than you can even know.  But next year Christmas, you will be with me at Sherry’s and we can share the fudge and fruitcake and remember the golden years you formed for us and then one day Momma, you will make the most wonderful Christmas again in the place called Al Di La.

My love to you always, Momma
Buzz

Now I Know

When I wrote my first poem, I didn’t realize how cathartic they could be.  By the time I wrote the third one I became aware  of how easily I could express my emotions.  Most all the poems I have written deal with the grief that I feel within, but as time continues to move forward I realize they also allow me to understand more of life and to look beyond my own back yard.  The poems merge with the expressions of help in your responses and the combination becomes a salve that within time cause new thoughts that become stronger building blocks for my own wisdom.

The emotions I write about opens my heart and as I look out into a new day I feel a little better and if need be I could be more compassionate to someone else who is hurting and understand when it is time to lock the door and get tough.

Life is a precious commodity and we each have our own discoveries.  When we share them we learn from each other, or give the support that I have been shown through the kindness of your heart.  If I had not had to experience the unknown circumstances of my Mothers passing I would be a little less able to help someone else, but Now I Know

Now I know, Now I know what it is
that before I could never understand.

Now I know what that time is like
and understand what has been known forever.

How many times did I wonder, worry and fret over what I didn’t know.
Did I guess at any time the full extent of what it would really be like?

Oh no, never in my wildest imagination could I know,
Could I have known pain as I know now,
could I feel loneliness that wraps my throat and chokes me from the air.

Would I have thought the days and the nights become one,
would I guess how little I  would not understand once it happened.

And could I ever have know what it is like to have panic hitting the heart,
or know that, possibly one tear can turn a person toward uncontrollable agony.

Would I have ever guessed what this time is like,
or would I have thought that there was no need, if I was prepared.
Can you ever guess right about being  prepared correctly?
Ah, yes if you go to a luncheon you will have been given the time and the place.

This day and future days come regardless of any preparation…..
your memories  sting and gouge and make new thoughts to surprise and cause you pain.

They lap at your tears and delight  in making you distraught.
It is a day without caring for you and the days to follow, well there is an unknown plan for them.

Then without expectation there comes a day–

with first light I look out of the window, then into the room and for the first time I understand.

What will the 'morrow bring-

morning
If I let go of all the things I know,
if I toss from my heart what tugs at its’ walls,
if I take the chance to step on to the edge of my soul,
then will I be better or worse than I am.

Will the sun shine again as bright as before,
will I never again feel the anxiety within my mind or,
can I take a hold of all the scarred, ragged edges
and bring them back and sew them together again?

If I bend and pick up the pieces of me
If I reach and hold onto the sweetest of the memories,
If I sit and stare at the nothing I see in the vision of my soul,
then will color be able to return to the space I see with my eyes.

Will sorrow that pierces and gouges the heart,
be changed so that the spring returns to the soul
or will tomorrow only bring another spear
laced with grief that only I can feel its’ sting?

As I continue on my journey toward my twilight it is evident that I shall be carrying a few more questions that I can only answer.  Each day I realize that there isn’t any one else in the world that can tell me how I am to do the things I am to do, understand how and when the haze of my world will return to its normal clarity and it is only I who can can know when my tomorrow will feel like it has brought the new spring to my life.

For now I continue to muddle with in the sludge under the white snow that occasionally lets me slip and fall.  It is the grayness of the sky that matches what my eyes see as I sit, sometimes too long, staring off into the corner of my bedroom; or at times I fall asleep on the chaise only to awaken and return to the sight of that same corner of nothing.

I question also, when will the night begin to pass without  numerous times of awakening to see just how much longer I need to stay there.  Eventually I arise before dawn and trip quietly down the stairs so that I don’t awaken M. or the cat, Souse.  It is then, once again in the appalling quietude of our house I sit in that corner of the kitchen that I have always sat in before the bright monitor of the computer to think of what next could lessen the impact of these days on my soul.
And then suddenly,  I realize I have passed from the time of pensive thought into flipping url’s like Blueberry Pancakes on a sizzling hot grill and as the pancakes  are stacked they leave no room between.  As I arise from the computer I know the day lies ahead to be experienced mostly with agitation even more than the Kenmore washer produces to wash my clothes.  And I seem to follow the same cycling.  First there is the agitation, then the rinsing and calming of my mind only to plunge forward into a spinning haze.

I think of all this newness of experiences each day and wonder is it all that bad and  will I be able to make it through it and look backward and know that even in my mature years I can grow and learn all there is that life has to offer.  I know for now I wonder why there needs to be lessons like I am within, but I think  that somewhere in the motion of living there is a plan for me and I must follow this relentless path to find greater peace.

As I turn each new corner I find myself a little closer to my crepuscular years.  With each step I must take now I realize it can only prepare me for the new years ahead of me.  To gain wisdom through thoughts, by the anguish created by death and by recording my  collective new beliefs then it is an acceptable path that I take.