Friday, March 4, 2011

The Music of Her Life.....

This has been the hardest week of my life.

As I work furiously to assemble WWII era songs onto an ipod for my mother, I wonder if I will even make it there on time. 'There' being the hospital where she has existed since September 2010. I wonder if she will even be able to hear them IF I make it there on time. I wonder why I am doing this now when I have had months, weeks and certainly the past several days to do so. The reality of the situation may be just too real now.

It's possible that I don't want to watch her leave this life. The years spent handling her many errands, her desperate and immediate needs and demands, and her numerous doctor and clinic visits wore me out. Nothing was ever right or was ever enough. It just began to make me numb. But, I never stopped loving her. I never stopped hoping that the next time I saw her that we would have an overall positive encounter. She can't speak now, so it's up to me to make this a final positive encounter. As the POA, it is up to me to make the call for hospice and all my siblings are not in agreement about the next inevitable steps. It is ripping my family apart.

I would like to help her leave this life listening to the songs of her youth, her glory days. They are the songs that defined the 'greatest generation'. The generation of so many immigrants who defended our freedom in so many of the most ultimate ways. The generation who may have given us too much because so many of them had grown up with so little due to the Great Depression.

So, I scramble to figure out how to help her exit this world, I realize that writing this blog just made it easier for me to deal with her passing.

Thank you for listening.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A day late and a blanket short...

Three nights a week, as I walk from work to my parking space, I see a person. A very small, obviously homeless person. I had never seen the face or even been sure of the gender of the person until last week.

Now I know it's a woman. She wears a hoodie, tied tightly around her tiny head, dirty coveralls and heavy army boots. She is always huddled in a tiny ball in the doorway of the same shop. She is usually motionless, which always makes me wonder whether tonight is the last night that I will see her. On occasion, as I pass, I will see her shift a bit or hear her murmur something or mutter. A few times I have left a bit of food for her. I stopped doing that last year after a piercing shriek and a tiny,dark fist shot out from the sleeping bag-bundled form. She was probably just scared. Now, so was I.

Week after week, I would check to be sure she had a blanket or a wrap of some sort and she always did. Every week, she seemed to get smaller and my concern only grew. Then, the Groundhog Day blizzard hit Chicago followed by a deep dive in the temperature. That Friday I noticed she was only covered in newspapers and a filthy towel. It shook me to the bone to see her that way. Nothing is open at midnight so I couldn't help that way and there was no blanket in my car. But, I vowed to drop off something to her next week when I worked. I prayed for her safety and well-being until I could help her.

And I tried. I really tried. But, she didn't want the blanket that I brought for her. Or, the small area rug that would separate her from the damp, cold concrete. She waved me off and pointed to the new blanket that enveloped her and said she was fine. Her face was small and dark and deeply-lined. Her eyes large and dark but serene. Her voice was soft and soothing when shoe spoke to me. And, she was so calm. So very calm. She made it clear that she wanted to be left alone. So I walked away, feeling a little bit useless and a day late to help.

But now I know what I truly didn't know before. Don't wait to help. Step up to the plate today, and not tomorrow. The next time someone needs something, I want to be there the day before, with an armful of 'blankets'.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Deep roots...I am a Chicago girl...( and a little bit OC )

It's not springtime but I am cleaning. Clothes, cards, papers, etc., all to try to streamline and de-clutter my life for all kinds of reasons. Sound familiar?

During the process, I unearthed a journal I had kept from a 2 1/2 week, life-changing trip to Australia and New Zealand in May of 2006. It was only the beginning of a re-awakening of all sorts of adventure and creativity for me. A second chance to grow and I truly felt like a seed about to germinate. With apologies to those of you who love L. A., below is the first entry. It was written during a long layover at LAX on my way to Sydney, Australia.

May 19, 2006

"Leaving my little home is never easy for me. No matter how exciting or mundane the destination, I always feel a twinge of sadness as I drive off and away from it. Today was no exception, despite the fact that I am going over halfway around the world to a country I have dreamed of visiting for nearly all of my life. Clothes were washed, sinks were cleaned, dishes and silverware were sanitized. It just doesn't feel respectful to leave 'her' alone for any amount of time in any sort of unkempt way.

It's beyond me why I feel compelled to make things right before I go, but I do. It makes it a little bit easier to leave, knowing that I will come back to the same , sweet, serene setting that I left behind. Ah, maybe therein lies the secret. A sense of continuity and sameness. A lack of disruption, perhaps. No, the first reason is more apt, it's more half-full!

So here I sit in the slightly humid air of the International Terminal of LAX, just trying to make the most of my six hour layover between planes. It strikes me again, in an instant, why I don't like L.A. It's not an immediate,in your face sort of artifice, like Las Vegas. It's more that these people really take it seriously. The falseness, I mean. This is a place where vacuousness is embraced and expected in so many circles.

Give me American Gothic over this Dali-esque existence any old day. Oops, my Midwest roots are showing. Which I am A, 100% okay with on any given day. So there!"

Upon discovering and reading this from nearly five years ago, I realized that there has been an awful lot of living between then and now. And, you know what? It's all good......