The photographers that took our family photos have been friends with my sister and my brother-in-law for a very long time. At one point, before the photography business, they owned a coffee shop that was on my husband’s and my way to work in the morning. We stopped daily for a caffeine fix. We also got to know their family pretty well.
Our kids trick or treat together. Birthday parties and other get togethers.
I think that when you know your photographer, they tend to get some of the best photos. I also really like it when they can catch a moment with your children just being themselves. Kids being kids.
Little girls making fish faces. Cousins spinning. Little girls hiding in plants. Getting dirty when we had just polished them clean, and dressed them in off-white striped dresses. (What were we thinking?)
Three girls actually paying attention for just a quick moment.
Piles of granddaughters on their Nana.
A Momma chasing her daughter with a missing shoe, praying that she doesn’t rip her tights, or fall and get them dirty.
A big daughter who acts just as silly as the little daughter.
A sweet, stolen moment between your parents that wasn’t posed for the camera. A moment captured that is just who they are, Dad whispering to Mom, still in love after forty years.
The more that I go back and look at the pictures, I am so greatful that we had them done. I am so thankful that we had kind friends who were able to fit this photo shoot into their busy schedule when we really needed it done.
Dreams have been plaguing me.
I don’t usually dream at all, or sleep so deeply that I don’t usually remember them.
Lately, this has not been the case. It’s taking longer and longer for me to actually fall asleep, and I am often waking up from one bad dream or another. Unfortunately, I am not the only one. My Mom has been having bad dreams as well.
On Friday, she had a lunch with all of her work people. It supposedly wasn’t a “goodbye” lunch, but it felt that way to her, to me, and to anyone else who knew that she was going. They gave her a card, a gift certificate, kind of seems like a kiss goodbye.
After the lunch, she stopped at my office so I could copy something for her, and cried for a bit about her weird not a goodbye, but not a promotion or special occasion lunch. She didn’t really know how to process it. I didn’t really know how to process it for her. I think they could have waited a little bit before basically kissing her off.
Then she told me about a dream she had the night before.
We were at my sister’s house for Christmas or a birthday, or some other occasion. Everyone was there, but my Dad couldn’t hear or see her. She tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t acknowledge her. She tried to hold his hand, and he wouldn’t or couldn’t take her hand in his. While we were there at my sister’s house he just sat. Didn’t interact with anyone. Didn’t talk. Just sat. Like he was all alone.
By the time she had finished telling me this we were both crying.
Probably because we can both see him dealing with all of this in total silence.
Last night, I had my own dream.
I called my parent’s home.
Like what often happens when I call and my Dad answers he just immediately answered and said, “Your Mom’s not home.”
He hung up on me.
Now normally when I call and she isn’t home, he says she isn’t home, and then says that he’ll have her call me, or that she’ll be right back, or she’s in the bath, or whatever the case may be.
I often forget about her standing Tuesday afternoon date with my Godmother. I often call when she is out for her Tuesday drink and a half, and then realize halfway through my Dad answering the phone that she isn’t there. My Dad almost always teases me that she is out at “Margaritaville.”
I woke up in tears. Losing her is already on the forefront of everyone’s minds, but losing him as well would be devastating. The whole thing is breaking my heart.
Close your eyes, shut your mouth, dream a dream and get us out.
Hit the hay, fast asleep, dream a dream, you little bleep.
Just relax, lay about, or my fist will put you out.
Take your time, but beware, there’s darkness in the air.
When my Mom was in the hospital, she did have her own, albeit, tiny (in the beginning) room. A hospital recliner, 3 plastic chairs for visitors, and very little standing room.
Towards the end of her stay, her very nice nurse was able to get her moved to a room on the end that was twice the size, had a couch for visitors, and a flat screen TV that did not make all the people look orange. (Mom and I watched the inauguration on her first rooms tiny, shitty TV, and we decided that even the Obama’s looked orange.)
While she was in this first room she had several different neighbors. The first of which, my Mom nicknamed “The Moaner.” This guy was loud. We kept Mom’s door shut all the time, not only for privacy, but because The Moaner was so loud.
The funny thing was he would be moaning about how he wanted pain meds, and then immediately after he would say he wanted to leave the hospital. He yelled at the nurses and aids. He moaned incessantly, even through the night. Which meant that my Mom did not get much sleep while he was there.
I hadn’t really heard the moaner too much. I don’t know if he was asleep while I had been visiting up until that point, or what, but I really hadn’t heard much. Then he started his moaning on the Monday that we were waiting for the results of the pathology report. I finally understood why it was so frustrating having her room next door to this man.
Reminded me of the Chee Chee lady, I said something to my Mom about it, she totally cracked up laughing, and told me that my sister had said the same exact thing the day before.
So here is the story of the Chee Chee lady.
My Dad’s mom, my grandmother, was a drunk. It’s no secret, I’ve talked about it a few times on here before. Ultimately, she ended up with Wet Brain, or Alzheimer’s Disease, or possibly both. More than likely it was Wet Brain. It had finally gotten to the point that she could not live alone any longer. She had not driven in years, my parents took her car away after a car accident, so that she wouldn’t get into an accident and kill someone or herself. My Mom did her shopping, and some cleaning for her after they took the car away. They took her checkbook as well, but would leave her some spending money each week.
She befriended a cab driver who would take her to the liquor store to go buy booze.
Shortly after my parents figured this out, and she had fallen and gotten stuck in-between the chair and footrest of her recliner and was actually stuck there for a few days, they decided it was time to put her in a nursing home.
We would go visit her at the nursing home. She almost never knew who we were. She would call me by my cousin’s name, call my Dad by my Uncle’s name, and sometimes she would remember who my sister was, she’d call her by her nickname, “Toad.” She almost always remembered my Mom. (This is a tad bit funny since there was no love between the two of them. Apparently even people who have drank themselves stupid can remember who they don’t like. Believe me, my Mom’s feeling were not hurt.)
My grandmother had a roommate at the nursing home. She was also completely off her rocker.
She would sit in her bed and scream, “CHEE! CHEE! CHEE! CHEE! CHEE!….” Over and over again, usually rocking back and forth in her bed, hands over her ears. My sister and I were quite disturbed by it. Our parents would try to ignore it. Sometimes a nurse would come and take her out of the room if they knew we were there visiting.
One day, while we were visiting, the Chee Chee lady started her screaming, (or Cheeing, for lack of a better word) and my grandmother started screaming back at her. I don’t remember what was said, but I do remember that for the rest of that visit the Chee Chee lady was quiet.
Right now my Mom is down having an MRI, which most likely will be the last of the big tests for now.
Yesterday, we got the results from the PET scan, and it showed the cancer has spread. It is in her bones, ribs, spine, hips, tailbone, and in her lymph nodes.
The MRI is to check to see if the cancer is in her brain. Apparently, the PET scan doesn’t always show the brain in full detail. After dealing with my Aunt’s brain cancer I think this has all of us very worried.
This just all sucks. So much. I can’t believe that this is happening.
I am worried about my Mom, but she has been in pretty good spirits, all things considered. My Dad, on the otherhand is completely shutting down from everyone but my Mom. He is a man of few words, but he is saying very, very little.
I can’t eat. I can’t sleep, and have had a headache for a week. I called my doctor for sleep meds yesterday, and I was still up all night.
Mea is worried about me, about her Nana, and I just don’t think she understands at all. Last night, we were laying in bed and she said, “I am worried about Nana, Momma.”
It just breaks my heart.
All of it. I can’t make this go away. I wish to God, I could.
In my last post, I briefly touched on the fact that my Dad calls everyone “kid.” It is usually used for us “kids” my cousins, and our childhood friends. If someone else is called this, it most likely means that he doesn’t remember your name, but that’s another story.
When we were little, we would make long trips to the suburbs of Chicago fairly regularly. My Aunt and Uncle lived there with their two sons. I went every summer from the time I was 7 until I was about 13 for a week on my own to spend with them. Then my sister did, and then after Mack was born, and I was a working mom, my parents began to take Mack with them, while I stayed home and worked.
Sometimes these summer trips resulted in one of the cousins coming back with my parents to spend a week with us. The summer that Mack was two they brought the older of the two boys back with them. Five and a half our car trip. Mack was not amused by my cousin. She supposedly had hidden from everyone the entire trip, and was only good for my Mom and Dad. She wouldn’t make eye contact, wouldn’t give snuggles, wouldn’t play, was kind of bratty two-year old the entire weekend. Then again, she probably didn’t remember these people who were suffocating her, so in a way I don’t blame her.
My Dad in his normal fashion, was calling my cousin “Kid.”
He was over the moon for Mack. In a slightly odd way for a then thirteen-year-old boy, but he was.
So Mack started ordering my cousin around.
And so on.
Not just for the rest of the trip, but for the rest of his life. My cousin will be “Kid” until I am dead. I think he really hates it now that he is almost 32 that not only does Mack still call him this, and of course my Dad, but that I call him “Kid,” as does my Mom, my sister, our husbands, Mack and all the other little kids STILL call him KID.
That’s the breaks. Sometimes a two-year-old will give you a nickname, and you are stuck with it.
My Dad is a man of few words. It’s not that he can’t talk, he just doesn’t unless he has something to say. I tend to think that my Mom does a lot of the talking for him, and he just doesn’t need to talk too much.
My Dad doesn’t have typical hobbies. He doesn’t watch sports. He doesn’t fish or hunt. Although, he does have a gun collection. I do remember him shooting a pellet gun at pigeons at my Nana’s house, although I don’t really think that counts. It didn’t really work either, as the pigeons always came back. I haven’t seen a gun out of the display case since I was very little kid. They are mostly antiques and I highly doubt that they are in any kind of condition to even use at this point. He doesn’t golf, he doesn’t play cards. He doesn’t go out for drinks with friends, unless it’s a couples thing and my Mom is with him.
He does have a propeller in the basement of their house. Along with an airplane engine. I don’t know if he was planning on building the plane, or what but they are both down there amidst other various mechanical projects of his.
He is an avid reader, although he was late to discover his love of reading. When he was in college, at Yellow State, it was finally discovered that he is dyslexic, many years of struggling, and they figured it out then. He basically had to learn to read over again, and then couldn’t stop. My Mom is a big reader as well, so their house is full of various books on so many different topics it can make you dizzy just looking at them all. Thank goodness my Mom finally bought him a Kindle, so we can at least buy an Amazon gift card in a pinch if we are completely stuck on a gift for him.
Two years ago we bought him the union suits. Since the ones that he had before we bought the new ones were twenty years old, I don’t think there will be a need for them in the future.
Much of the time we will buy him a sweater, or new jeans or something equally boring for a gift. He will gladly open it and tell us, “That’s purdy.” We know that this will be the response before the gift is even un-wrapped.
He does love trains, and old cars. We have bought many a train ride, train dinner, train DVDs, etc. over the years. When we were children our family vacations revolved around train museums, cemeteries, and usually one “fun” thing that would get snuck in for my sister and I.
My Mom drags my Dad out shopping with her frequently, the one thing that she has always said is that if my Dad brings her something and says he likes it, or wants to get it for one of the kids, or my sister or I she buys it. If he liked it enough to show it to her, it needs to be purchased.
When the kids are little especially, there is a lot of this. Mack had pink Oshkosh bib overalls, with a train conductor hat in every size until she grew out of them. My Dad is also the one who picked out her very first toy, a handmade wooden rattle that is saved for Mack’s future children.
The first toy bought for Mea from her Nana and Papa was a train. Super cute animals, sang songs, still gets played with, even now over five years later. This was also something my Dad picked out that was a must purchase.
He calls everyone “Kid.” Sometimes it is a term of endearment, and other times I think it’s because he may have forgotten your name, but when said to me, my sister, cousins, our childhood friends, and our kids, it is most definitely a term of endearment. (I have a funny “kid” story, I’ll have to share some other time.)
Before my sister and I were allowed out to drive on the streets, we both were taught, not only how to drive by our Dad, but also how to check oil, change a tire, and how to jump-start a car, just in case. One funny thing about being a mechanic’s daughter is that whatever noise you car is making when you drive it, it will certainly not make that noise when your father the mechanic is driving it. Technically, I drive a stick shift “wrong” according to the DOT, but it is because I learned how my Dad taught me. There is much coasting going on when I drive a stick. You really aren’t supposed to do that. The car should be in gear at all times. Failed my first driving test, re-took it in an automatic and passed.
My first memory ever is of my Dad. When I was born, my parents lived in “the little house.” We moved before I turned three, into the house that I grew up in, and that my parents still live in now. The little house had a tiny patch of strawberries in the backyard. I have always been a strawberry fiend. I love them. I remember my Dad taking me out to the backyard to pick a few strawberries for my breakfast. I got to help pick them. He washed them and cut them up for me.
My Mom is home sick with pneumonia. She rarely ever gets sick. Usually, we are making sure my Dad is kept away from all the germy children when they are sick so he doesn’t get ill. At almost 72, everyone is very careful not to expose him to anything awful. In all our care not to get him sick, somehow my Mom managed to get ill.
It is hard to believe that my Dad is that old. I don’t think he looks it at all. I see people everyday that are his age or younger that look much older than he does. I just don’t want to take any time or memories for granted with either of my parents. They are good ones, and I am pretty lucky to have them.
There are times where life can be a teetering house of cards, one careless or clumsy move will send the whole thing tumbling down in a mess all around you.
Two people taking turns setting up the cards, two cards set at precarious angles to each other. One card that makes another card wobbly, unsecure and unstable, it makes the rest of the house unsettled as well.
The last few days I could feel the house collapsing all around me. Suffocating. Making me ill, sick to my stomach, and making my head pound. Making my heart skip multiple banging beats inside of my chest.
As I write these words on the screen, I have come to the conclusion that I am actually a horrible verbal communicator. The words come to my brain, then my lips, but when it is something uncomfortable, or something that can hurt me or someone I love, I have a very hard time extracting the words getting them to roll off of my tongue. They are painful, and I don’t do that well.
In this, I think that I take after my Dad, as he is a word swallower too. Rather than make waves he will go with the flow of things until he can’t take it anymore. Usually this would end up in a melt down of some sort. No one knowing that he had been feeling the way he had until the words were exploding from his mouth, spilling it all out.
Two years ago, right after Mack left for college, my husband had a stroke. It was mild, the doctors assured us that he would go on to lead a healthy life for many years to come, so long as he continued to follow-up with his physician and take his medication. Even with this information from the doctors, for the last two years, I have convinced myself that he was going to die.
Horrendous nightmares, where I am left with five kids (I know that four of the kids are adults, my mind is just not that rational sometimes), five grandkids, and no husband. Where I don’t know what to do to even begin planning his funeral. These just keep coming to me in my sleep, night, after night, after night. After I wake up, there are some days where the nightmare will following me in waking hours through the better part of the day.
Shortly after the stroke and after the nightmares began, I went to my doctor and was put on an anti-depressant, and an anti-anxiety medication. It has helped some. I can get through days without crying. I could have some fun, some of the time. Mostly, I could enjoy my days. I could be “normal” for my kids.
My husband was another story. I started to shut myself off from him. Emotionally, physically, even just our friendship was suffering. I truly think that there is a part of my brain that actually thought that if I did this, that it would hurt less when he died. I wouldn’t be such a mess. I could be stronger, because I had prepared myself for the very worst.
Then I discovered that he hadn’t been taking his medication. I did try to talk to him about taking his meds. That he was scaring me. He tried to talk to me about me closing him off, we both would try to do better for a time, and then it would go back to this awkward trying to be civil dance we were doing.
The love? It is still there. From both sides. Of that, there is no doubt in my mind. I love this man so much it can make my heart ache and cause tears to run down my face at any given time. When I let myself.
Yesterday, I wrote my husband a letter. I explained the nightmares, the fear of him dying, how much I loved him. I told him about going to the doctor for the depression and anxiety, which I hadn’t told him about before then, I was afraid of admitting that I am not super woman.
I told him that all of this is fixable. I just pray that it all is.
There are things that have happened.
He came in after reading the letter with tears in his eyes and said that he loved me. That we would get through this. That he needs to be around to see his youngest daughter grow up. He had thought about what would happen to us if he wasn’t around.
The house of cards fell. Destroyed in a game of Fifty-Two pick-up. One too many cards not set up in a secure manner. From both sides of the game.
All we can do is start over, take our time placing the cards ever so carefully so that we can rebuild this house we live in.