And as we wind on down the road (home hospice experience #1)

My mother-in-law is dying.

Hard words to say about a lady I have known for 22 years now and love very much. Hard words to say when I know the affect they are having on my son, my daughter, my step-daughter, my niece and, more than anyone, my husband and his sister. Hard words to say, in spite of the fact we’ve known it was coming for some time now. Just hard words to say.

Mike gazing at a beautiful sunsetDianne is a smoker. I guess I can say was a smoker now, because she officially “quit” last Friday when she went into the hospital for the last time. She’s been battling COPD and emphysema for some time now – depending on the brief bits of respite her inhalers and nebulizers offered in order to continue to function. We’ve known for some time her condition was worsening but weren’t so prepared for the sudden decline in recent weeks. No level of logic and understanding of the inevitable consequences of smoking makes it any easier to accept when the doctor starts saying words like “nothing we can do” or “hospice”.

I’ve done this hospice thing before, of course. When my father died a few years back, we used hospice care for his final days. I’ve been through the meetings with caregivers and nurses, organizing the delivery of hospital equipment, learning to handle morphine administration and, worst of all, signing the papers that said yes, my father wasn’t going to get any better. This time it’s a bit different. I’m almost, but not really, on the outside looking in. I’m not responsible for the decisions, I’m not signing the papers, I’m not talking to the doctors and nurses. That’s all up to my husband and his sister this time. I’m involved, of course; Dianne will be living out her last days here in our home. I will be providing some care, supporting those who need supporting and generally keeping the basics humming so my husband can dedicate himself to his mom. But supporting is not the same as responsible. I’m not in charge this time around.

It will be quite a roller-coaster over the next few days and weeks. I say weeks, because that’s what we’ve been told to expect. All I can say right now is how proud I am of my husband for taking this on and my children for bravely welcoming this into their home. It’s no small thing my family is doing and I’m nothing but proud of them for doing it. Dianne is loved – wish us luck as we help her on her way.

 

 

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Now this is exciting news…

I’ve been sitting on this one for a little while…

Check out the new Parents-space.com!

Check out the new Parents-space.com!

There’s a new home for parents on the web.  Parents Space is intended for those of us who aren’t perfect, who don’t have all the answers. It’s a collection of parents of every stripe, from all over the world, talking about the issues that are meaningful to them and supporting each other. The brainchild of fellow WordPresser, Einat Skaked, this is the site for parents who have “lost their manual” (or, as in my case, was never issued one in the first place.)  And I’m pleased to say that I get to be one of a whole host of contributing writers.  It’s a wonderful and talented group I get to hang out with here.

I do hope you’ll come check us out!  And hey, we’re just getting started so why not tell a friend or two?  Maybe read a few posts, click a few likes, Tweet a bit?  You know, help us settle in and feel loved.

Thanks – and please, I’d love to hear comments!  Tell me what to write about!

 

Caturday: A Philosophical Question of Perception

My take is that the cat doesn’t give a shit once I’ve walked out my door. Because he is a cat.

Human Writes

Caturday: A Philosophical Question of Perception

The Situation: I had a cat who for her six years of life had never been outside of my apartment. The apartment had only two doors, one for the closet, and one door opening to the stairway outside. My cat spent a lot of time in the closet…dark, floor a jumble of snow boots and shoes, and a sky of coats and jackets. I never went in the closet, but used the front door, several times a day, or twice a day, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening. She had her door, I had mine. Any time I returned from a short trip, or an entire day outdoors, she would be sitting there in the entryway, waiting for me.

My Question: With my cat’s limited experience with doors, did she think that I spent hours, or whole days in a closet? I could think of no other reference…

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A coming out story – how not to tell your parents

Wave the flag!

Wave the flag!

 

My daughter is many wonderful things: she’s beautiful, she has a razor sharp wit, she loves children, animals, art and music.  And oh yeah, she’s gay.  This is not a story about parenting a gay child or coming to terms with having a gay child or any of that jazz.  She’s gay, that’s cool, we’ll deal with what we need to deal with as she lives her life and support her however we can (that doesn’t result in her living at home till she’s 35, that is).  This is a story of the day our daughter decided she was ready to come out to those people most important in her world, and by that, I mean her close friends, some neighbors (who heard from their children, from the close friends group), her social media circle and then, oh yeah, her parents.  The order in which this information was spread was not necessarily her intention but it is how it worked out.  Hell, I think the cats knew before I did.

This happened a year or so ago – more or less.  I’m not entirely sure what filled our day that day but I do know it was a Saturday.  We all had our stuff to do and our places to go.  Our morning was likely filled with getting the kids up and out the door to their various private music lessons and back home again. Other stuff happened – it was a typical Saturday. At some point during the course of the late afternoon, I had to stop at a neighbor’s house – good friends of ours – and pick up my son who had spent part of his afternoon playing video games with their son.  As is usual when I run into these folks, the boy got an extra half hour of video time because the grownups got to chatting. In the course of my conversation with this lovely couple, one of them remarked at how proud I must be of my fearless daughter and how wonderful it was that she was so open and willing to talk about her identity.  The conversation went on along this thread for some time, with me smiling and nodding but having no real idea of what they were referring to.  I discovered later, of course, that my daughter had talked to her friend, who then mentioned it to her parents – the couple in question.  Frankly, their daughter should also be congratulated for being so open with her own parents about my girl’s revelation.

DAAfternoon wore into evening and we all went about our business.  My husband and I were getting ready for bed when I noticed a Facebook alert.  My daughter had posted a note on my and my husband’s walls:  “Mom, Dad, look at this:”  with a link.  The link, as it turned out, led to her Deviant Art profile page (DA is a social network for artsy types) where there was a simple message posted.  “I’m bisexual”.  Well okay, then.  Not what I was expecting to hear and certainly not HOW I’d expect to hear it.  Suddenly, things became clearer – this is the “brave, fearless move” she’d made earlier that her other friends already had seen and their parent’s discussed.  She’d posted this news on her DA page and word got round but as I didn’t look at her page that day, I didn’t see it when everyone else did.  She finally got sick of waiting and took the Facebook post route.

We called our daughter in to talk to us.  Nothing too deep – just that we were glad we knew and that we loved her and yes, she was very brave for being so honest.  Leave the bigger, deeper conversations for another day – the “how did you know?” and “how long have you known?” and “why the hell did you decide to use a social network used by almost a billion people to tell us?”.  Frankly, we treated it rather matter-of-factly; not to diminish the importance of her declaration but rather to make it not feel like a crisis or SOMETHING WE MUST DISCUSS.  Little by little, over the following days and weeks, more came out about her feelings and hopes.  She felt more comfortable talking about things like how it felt to be open and whether she felt accepted by her friends.  A month or two later, I noticed that her Facebook profile page listed her as “lesbian”, not “bi” any longer.  (See, I’m learning – I need to stay on top of these updates!)  I did ask her about that and she confessed that she never actually was bisexual – she just thought it might be easier for us if we did the transition from straight to gay gradually.  Uh, sure.

Here’s the important thing.  She’s my daughter.  I love her no matter what.  I am in awe of her bravery and ability to hold her head high and say to the world who she is.  Gay, straight, blue or purple, she’s my girl and my dearest hope is for her to be happy in her own skin and lead a fulfilled life.  My and my husband’s job is to support her while she grows, protect her when she needs it, comfort her when it’s hard and keep on pushing her to be her best her.  How we do that – who knows?  We’re learning as we go along, much as we are with our son.  And there’s a ton I don’t know – are her needs different?  I’d love to connect with folks who have been through this – both parents and those who have come out – to understand what I don’t know.  If you’re gay – what would you have liked to have had from those you loved when you were a teenager?  What did you get that helped – or hurt?

likeOne thing I do believe we’ve learned from the experience.  Major life announcements should not be made via certain social media networks. 🙂

 

CC Flag Image used courtesy of Datchler on Flickr