Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moses stepped on the keyboard

....while attempting to get on my lap and his feet took me here. I managed to read one page of posts without dissolving in tears and realized that blogging this may be a good thing. I had forgotten much of the stories that I wrote about and some of it deserves to be remembered. As I just told Timmy, I am interested in joining his gestational prose group, so perhaps I will start keeping this journal again.

Unable to sleep, I am watching the world grow lighter to gloomy skies which may turn into heat and sunshine later. I am wearing my Key West t-shirt, green panties which match the parrot and smoking, of course. No, despite my intentions, I have not yet quit the destructive habit. Eli is under the bed asleep and Moses, after his escape attempt last night, is now at his new post by the door, after having received the desired head loves he wanted.

While reading, I was struck by the sadness that seems to have been a consistent aura around my life for five years now. It does not get better and I am surrounded with new concerns. And stll dragging around so many of the old.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Ashes to Ashes

I got the call about my mother in the ER lwhile reading at the Word Fest in Albany. Tom kindly offered to drive me to the hospital last night, but I went home and took my own car. I accumulated my daughter, my two oldest grandsons and one girlfriend along the way and was very touched by the young ones desire to see the great-grandmother.
The whole cadre trooped in and gathered around her bed. She was breathing so laboriously that the whole bed was shaking, but she was awake and made the kids all laugh with her funny responses to our conversation. I found it very difficult and spent half of the visit in tears. After the long siege we have had with her, I thought it would be easy to just have her slip away and thought I wanted that to happen. Instead, I found it very painful to actually say goodbye to her, remembering her loving care of us and how sweet and funny she is.
The nurse Bob (who handled the invasion very nicely) said that they had removed an enormous amount of fluid from around her heart and she was breathing easier and her heart rate had gone down to a manageable level. Most Alz patients succumb to pneumonia, I know, and she has been battling it for most of the winter. The danger is in having her heart give out.
She took turns holding hands with each of us and around midnight we gathered ourselves to leave. Laurie and I lingered in her room, encouraging her to sleep and as she dozed off, she suddenly started singing softly "I loved you so, when we were a couple of kids..." and I wondered if she was dreaming of my dad. When we tried to disengage our hands, however, she held on tighter and said over and over, "Come back to me". My oldest grandson held me while I cried and we finally left. She did not leave us in the night, though, and is still there this morning. I am truly hoping it will not be much longer, but who knows.

Oddly enough, the day we buried my mother turned out to be one of the happiest days of my life. First, thank you, Dennis, for your thoughtful email about the event. And thank you to my wonderful poets who were there in body or spirit. Most of us gathered at my house, coming and going until almost midnight. We had pizza on the lawn and some of the neighbors stopped by. About the middle of the afternoon we had the brilliant idea to bury Arthur's ashes, which had been residing in the linen closet for a year. Josh and Zach dug a hole by a tree near the pond (yes, the one in my poem) and a dozen adults and 6 kids (well, not Bailey) all took a handful of ashes and sprinkled them in the hole. I said "Dad, we are giving you back to the ground you loved." Then Emily and Ryan and Egan piled the dirt back in and got stones and dandelions to decorate it and stuck in a stick to mark the spot. The kids were a delight and it was very satisfying. Only Cheryl did not join us. After the little ones were put to bed, myself and my kids and grandsons and my niece ate Joyce Schreiber's quiche and we all told family stories until we were laughing like fools. I am certain that my mom and dad are reunited wherever souls go and the day was an occasion for great bonding for the rest of us.

The Not-grieving Daughter

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Vigil

On Wednesday, March 19, members and friends of Move On in more than 900 locations around the US mourned with vigils and demonstrations the onset of the war which began five years ago . About 30 people gathered in the Voorheesville gazebo and lined the streets with candles and signs imploring the government to "support" our troops by removing them from the carnage in Iraq.
It was a miserable night, cold and rainy, and as I stood there complaining about my nose running I thought about the sun and sweat and flies that our soldiers endure on the best of their days. And the i.e.d.s and the suicide bombers and constant threat of impending dismemberment they live with. I felt myself getting angry. Almost everyone I talk to, even if they supported the war in the beginning, has come to view it as a horrible mistake. The Bush administration has made us fools in the eyes of the world, made a mockery of civil rights and the Constitution, ruined our reputation and our economy and our quality of life in ways that will continue to reverberate for generations. They have tragically sacrificed the lives of not just the 4000 members of the military who have died, but the thousands more who are brain-damaged and maimed, and the families who love them.
I write letters, I sign petitions, I light my candles and call my congressmen. I get discouraged. For five years now, nothing I have done seems to have made any impact on the way things continue to be. Indeed, they just keep getting worse and worse, and not enough people are getting angry. A few days ago Dick Cheney, when confronted by the fact that 2/3 of Americans are now against the war, said, "Who cares?" Well, it is time to make him care.
We should have had 300 people in Evergreen Park last night - we should have had 3000. Every American should be screaming in the streets.

When I get discouraged, I think of my grandchildren finding my protest signs in the garage in twenty years and laughing because their grandmother was a wacko. I want them to be proud of me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

No Heaven will ever Heaven be..

unless my cats are there to welcome me. (unk)

I have been rummaging today and finding memories of Oliver. The snow is falling and as I sit at my desk the view out the window is much the same as the day Ollie sat on the sill, waiting to die. My heart breaks new each time I think of him.

I have sent the Valentines to Oregon and shed my tears over that, too. I saw Mad's friend Mason this week and he has gotten so big. It's hard to imagine what the kids look like. A year and a half apart is a lifetime when kids are growing and grandmas are old. I think about dying without seeing them again.

Lauren was here until three this morn. Drinking wine and crying. She thinks she cares so much about other people when in reality she is so wrapped up in herself that she has never even bothered to know me. How I wish I had talked to my mother when I had the chance. I have a hundred poems spread out around me that my family has never read. I want someone to care about my life, to read my poems and talk about who I am.

Nobody knows me.

sad today

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pilgrim's Progress

This is a first for me...a holiday letter (inspired by receiving Meg and Mike's) - to all the people who neither know nor care what has been happening in my lousy little life for the last year or so. This time last December I was in the Slough of Despond. Deeply entrenched, over my head, and out of my mind. Better this year, as long as I don't forget my daily drugs, which prevent me from crying over lost keys and hairbrushes, to say nothing of the lack of money to pay the skyrocketing oil bills and the lost children. My investments lost two grand last month. Plus depleting my Sefcu savings to pay for Arthur's funeral.

Yes, my dad finally died of Alzheimer's on Halloween. What a day to die, huh? It was long overdue and a relief, considering his miserable existence. We enjoyed the costumed nurses, especially Larry. We did not enjoy the beside vigil, watching and watching for every twitch and labored breath. He was warm now he is not. My mother is still there in the nursing home, generally jolly and largely unaware of her loss. She is suddenly crocheting again.

It was a year ago last week that I had to kill my Oliver and I will never be the same. I miss him every day. My losses have been great. Michael and Andrea took my babies and moved to Oregon in October of 2006 and I have not seen them since. I cannot breathe when I think of my Lily. And Michael's betrayal, which is how I view it. Not even a phone call, altho I have called them. You have children so that they can break your heart, I guess.

Courtney got married a couple of weeks ago. She is living in my house. I have not seen it, nor even been down the driveway since the day I left Lily standing there by the moving truck. I was invited to the wedding and tried to be unobtrusive. I only went because Lauren and Josh and the grandsons were there.

Joshua, as usual, is my salvation. He married Amy and Egan last October, just before his brother left. Egan will be five next week and is a joy. And, the greatest joy - they are having a baby next summer. A life is taken and a life begins. Josh is happy and that is all I ever wanted for him.

I am still imprisoned in my parent's house with Lauren and Tristan and the animals. The other boys have moved out and are living lives without us. We don't see much of them. I don't know if they avoid their mother deliberately or are just in their own orbit. Zach comes to pay me for his computer. It is not good here. I am overwhelmed with bills. Lauren seems to be getting her act together a little, working hard at her job at the apple orchard, but not contributing to the expenses. She is at a party there tonight.

I have spoken with both sisters, both of them reluctant but civil. The wedding and the funeral necessitated civility. We divvied up Art's ashes and buried them together, just the three of us. I miss my sisters, although I don't much like them. We used to laugh.

Eli is the light of each day. His smiling face gives me reason to get out of bed in the mornings, and greets me with delight when I come home. He and I visit Tony to do our laundry. Tony is good to me in his peculiar way. We went to his Christmas party last weekend and he asks what I want for Christmas. He refuses to give the only gift I need from him, although he loves me, I know this. We had Thanksgiving together, the two of us. Chinny is at his house and she seems content there out of Eli's way. I could use a cat again for cuddling. Or an arm around me or warm legs in bed. I am hungry for a human touch.

I think often of Nancy who has been lost to everyone. Today is her birthday and I would talk to her if I could. Deb is busy and happy and in love with Mark. That is good. My poets have become good friends. I love Tom and Larry and Mike and Cathy, who is not well. I love Mary Jane and the lib ladies are good to be around, although the job has become quite complicated and stressful.

Tony's mother sent her annual check yesterday. She is well and I wish I were there with her in the sun. The sun has not shone here is a long time. I worry about my future. After all the years with Tony, he has made no provisions for our future. We are both getting old. I became 60 this year and the kids gave me a wonderful party. It was nothing to celebrate but I went along.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


They stalked her through
the flickering aspen forest
quicksilver bodies
twining from tree to tree
dropping through
the muted silver sunlight,
into her thoughts, they asked
no ransom, stealing for
the pure round-bellied joy of it,
eating away, eating away
at her, all unassuming

In the mist,
rapists and thieves,
they denied her
they loved her grief
the grieving that she earned
and owned,
turning aside their
faces they keened with
satisfaction, sated with their claim,
they murdered her slowly, but
robbed her first.

No tears

The veterans are killing themselves, day by day, thousands since this war began, in combat zones and back at home, leaving so many to grieve. What a legacy this war is leaving.

Monday, November 5, 2007

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die...
Clive Campbell


Thank you, George W., for sending us a flag. All folded in a lovely triangle. Big and heavy. Big enough they say to cover a casket. I flashed to the cargo hold of the airplanes with their flag covered baggage and I wanted to talk to my father about the war. He was such a patriot, such a law-and-order guy. So proud. Another veteran gone to the grave. They are dying 1000 each day.

We buried part of the ashes in the family plot next to my mother's parents, near all the Braydens and Christians and Bakers. Just the three girls there, with our three orange roses to be buried with him. It was a glorious autumn day, blue sky and golden trees. We all hugged each other and I told them both I loved them.

Lauren and I went to lunch and chatted easily about the wedding, Courtney's wedding, on Saturday, and about Cheryl and how bleak her life is. We have all been remembering many things. On the way home we went to the nursing home and threw out all of Arthur's clothes, except for a few things Cheryl wanted. There were so few things there. Ragged and faded. I never noticed him looking ragged and faded.

My mother was watching a movie in the day room and we didn't talk to her. She has not missed him or asked about him. Except for the initial moment when she said "I don't know how I will ever cope without him" she has not mentioned him again. His bed is empty and remade. I wanted to say one more thing to him. I don't know what.

Marion had her hair curled and her pearls on and seemed to enjoy the little service on Saturday, with all the family there, Bill and Gloria and all the grands- and greats-, and David and Casey and Jimmy and his parents. The baby faced minister was pleasant and the flowers looked autumn-y next to Arthur's picture in uniform. He was a handsome guy.

Steven Barr called and some guy who knew Daddy 40 years ago. Lauren has been getting most of the calls on the house phone. I have heard from Elaine and Deb and Tom and Timmy and, of course, Cathy sent me pink roses. I don't have much emotion left in me. I cried so much for Oliver and Michael and the kids. Michael's birthday was Friday. Josh and Amy came from Hillsdale where they were spending the weekend with her family. They will be back for the wedding and I got a room in the hotel so we can goof around.

back to work tomorrow

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Dying Part is Over

My dad died a couple of hours ago in his bed at the nursing home, after we had all gone home exhausted. God bless my dear son who drove up from the city and surprised me, stayed til 9 p.m. and drove back. It was so good to have him here.

It was a strange and funny and tragic day. The staff was all dressed up in costume (my pal Larry was an absolute stitch in a white tutu with angel wings, huge boobs, a multitude of tatoos and Dorothy's sparkling red pumps and a long black wig). The staff had made a haunted house in the basement of the nursing home and had a party for the residents. My mother came out with some very funny stuff. I will explain later how she was reacting, but it is a long story. The Wicked Witch left about 1 p.m. but the Drama Queen and Josh and I stayed, trying to be sure he was comfortable as possible while watching his every struggling breath. I made the right decision about the DNR. The staff was great. There are lots of stories here.

My mother slept through the whole dying thing, thank you, God. Lauren the sister and I will be back at the nursing home early in the morning trying to explain this to her when she wakes up and doing the funeral home.

I cannot comprehend the world without my beloved father in it somewhere.
I am very sad and will be shedding tears soon, but right now there is just a feeling of relief.

Always Art's daughter

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Assault of the Lamb

Eli is rolling around on the carpet trying to disembowel his lamb with his flailing hind feet. The lamb occasionally emits squeaks of protest but seems to be holding his own. I am holding my own in a sea of mixed emotions.

After five years of death in life, my father appears to be down to his last hours. Matter of factly, we have wished to release him from his failing frame for a long time. Now I am wondering how I will carry on when the last physical evidence of his existence is gone.

I sat for hours beside his bed, stroking his still-warm skin, listening to his horrendous breaths and rattling cough. His hands are mottled with red and purple. I could circle his forearm with my hand. His mouth hangs open and I swab his mouth with a wet sponge. He is on a pain med and oxygen. The furrows in his face have smoothed. His eyes open now and then, but he is not seeing anything on this earth. The hospice chaplain says he is looking into his future, to the place that God has prepared for him as he promised, and it is a comfort to believe that. I read him the scripture about the mansions and I sang, very quietly in an embarrassed way, some of the good old hymns we used to sing. I told him everything I needed to - what a good father he was and that I wouldn't have wanted any other. Sometimes he held my hand very tight. Sometimes he was agitated and pulling at his sheets and at the oxygen canula. He made noises.

I talked to him about Tennesee and the magnolias and cutting down the cedar tree. I talked about his archery range and going to Will Roys' Drive In for chocolate milkshakes and the moths flying in the yellow bug lights. I told him I only went on the UFO hunting trips in the hope that he would stop for ice cream. I told him that his mother was waiting and that he would see his brothers soon. I just can't imagine the real world without him. I wanted to cling to him and beg him to stay. When I had to leave, I kept wanting to touch him one last time, fearing that the next time I saw him his skin would be cold and empty.

Cheryl came and I could not stay there with her. She wanted to give him medicine to cure the pneumonia, and do everything to save him, and she was crying and distraught. I warned the nurses they must ignore her. His treasures, Mr. Fitz and Marion and Anne and, of course, Larry. Everyone so loving and compassionate. Heather and my daughter were coming over and they will make Cheryl leave. But then again, I don't want him to die alone. My mother will be frightened. She won't know what is happening. How will we ever explain it to her. She has not been eating either. Ice cream. All she eats is ice cream. She seemed very tired today. And has no idea that Arthur is dying.

Exhausted and bewildered