Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The minutiae of the day

I'm feeling agitated for several reasons. The lawn mower will not start and I have a small blister on my finger from the obsessive compulsive yanking I did on the starter line. What is wrong with an electric starter? Why are lawn mowers so macho? I think it must be the spark plug and I have no idea how to check it out. Pull it out. Throw it out.

I went to Walmart to purchase Halloween candy and all that is left is concentrated at the entry doors. I purchased about $30 worth of the tooth rotting junk and I doubt I have enough! The smaller bags, generally 11.5 ounces were $1.92. The larger bags, 21 ounces, were $3.97. I think Walmart believes us to be idiots.

I think I have an animal taking up residence in the attic. Do you call it an attic even if only an animal can fit up there? I hesitate to tell J. because he will think I want him to crawl up there and investigate. Or at least stick his head up there and take a look with the flash light and report back to me. This reminds me of when my Mom had some animal in her "attic" and J and my daughter crawled up there. We naturally had to get an exterminator. It was all so long ago all I remember is calling the guy and him saying, "A coon up there?!" The proof was in the "droppings".

We did have a bunny and a ground hog in the back yard this summer. The ground hog was very fast. I would only catch him out of the corner of my eye as he made a mad dash for his "house" under the garden shed. We use to have squirrels when we lived in the older house several years ago. They would laugh at us and J. swears one of them threw him the "bird" one day. I've had squirrels throw nuts at me to get me to move....true story.

My daughter called mid-morning to ask me out to lunch and to spend quality time with me. This means she is broke and hungry. But, we did have a nice time which included a trip to The Fresh Market. She was sampling the jelly beans when a clerk makes a mad dash for us and presents her with a set of thongs and recommends the pomegranate as his favorite. 10% juice. I thought for certain we were to be chastised for having our hands in the jelly jar...but they are very cool there.

J. wants me to rearrange the garage because he says there is no reason to have a two car garage and not be able to get a car in there! That is a big chore and that is why I was trying to mow the lawn. Guess I'd rather do yard work that heavy lifting.

I slept later than usual this morning and missed the re-cycling pick up. For some crazy reason, they only pick up every other week and I have a load every week. They give you two bins for the recycling. I need five.

I'm beginning to be reluctant to post these days and have to rack my brain to come up with something. I once was over flowing with ideas, but that was before I realized the Internet is actually a small place.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Bad Day for Grandma's

Another inspiration from Sunday Scribblings

I was blogging in March of 2004, but did not share this because it was just too emotionally overwhelming. I have my hand written journal in front of me and it outlines the events of that day, yet it does not capture the sheer terror I felt that evening.

When we called our brother to tell him Mom had had a heart attack we found out that my SIL's mother passed away,(after a long struggle with lung cancer), that same day. MY SIL said, "It was a bad day for Grandma's".

"N., L. and I sat all day in the waiting room while they operated on Mom. They took her for prep around 1030am and she refused to take off her rings. She said they had been on her hands for over 50 years and would not come off easily. The prep personnel told her that they had to be removed in case of swelling. Wouldn't she rather cut them off than loose a finger?

We waited and waited and waited some more. They were to bring her rings to us.

Around 230pm we had had enough and asked. We were told that Mom was in a sterile environment and we could not see her nor wait with her. Finally, they rolled her out and we we received the rings as they whisked her to the operating room.

We were then ushered to the heart surgery waiting room.

I think they began operating around 315pm.

We were kept informed throughout the afternoon. They surgical team called the waiting room with updates. "They have hooked her up to the by-pass machine". "They have begun working on her valve". "They are finished repairing the valve and are now beginning the by-pass".

All afternoon Doctors came into the waiting room and sat down with the each of the families and delivered the results of the operations. The room that was filled to overflowing earlier in the day, slowing began to dwindle down to a handful of concerned and strained faces.

Around 8pm a nurse came into the area and asked at the desk where the "SURNAME" family was sitting. We were asked to leave and enter an adjacent conference room and wait for the Doctor.

A feeling of cold dread flooded me. I felt as if I had taken a punch to the solar plexus. My brother asked if Mom was out of surgery and was told only, "The doctor will talk to you".

I knew my Mom had died on the operating table. That is why we were being shown into another room so that we would not upset the other families.

I sat down next to L. and began to pray. The dread was threatening to overpower me. I could not speak. I could not share my anxiety with L & N. But L. knew, my face said it all.

Sitting in total silence for the longest most excruciating five minutes, the Doctor finally burst through the door and announced that Mom was in recovery and had sailed through the operation.

I broke down into sobs of relief."

I have spent many hours, days and nights in hospitals over the past five or so years and I can only conclude that Hospitals are an evil necessity. The staff are at times kind and supportive, and at other times cruel and inaccessible. I have learned to ask a lot of questions and even challenge them if I think the situation warrants such an action. They are only human, not super humans or God's. They make mistakes, get tired, become cranky.

It's my Mom and Dad lying there.

A necessary evil.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Brought to you by Sunday Scribblings

The very first job I ever had was assigned to me by my Drill Sargent Mother. And it was washing the dishes after the evening meal. Not only did I have to wash the dishes, I had to set the table and peel the potatoes. Being Irish, we had mashed potatoes with every meal, except Fridays which back in the day was still meatless. But I still had to wash the dishes.

As our family grew, the ordeal of washing the dishes grew!!

I was a feminist by situation and had many a futile argument with my mother over the division of "jobs" in our family. I was the oldest girl, and the next sister was 11 years younger than me. So I was saddled with all the girl stuff.

On the other hand, there were the boys, three of them. Their jobs were "shared" and included clearing the table, taking our the garbage, drying and putting away the dishes.

Taking out the garbage!! A 30 second chore that consisted of just walking down to the trash cans and tossing in a bag or two of gross stuff! What I would give to have that job rather than scrapping all the plates, washing all the utensils and plates and pots for eight people!! It took at the least a half hour.

I argued and argued about how unfair it all was. The boys just ignored me and went about their easy chores and more than likely watched more TV than me too.

I thought it was much easier to be a boy rather than a girl, something that remains pretty much true in most of the division of jobs and roles for the sexes.

Having children....need I say more.

God certainly has a good sense of humor.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

To Make A Long Story Short

There have been a lot of ups and downs recently with my Dad. Literally, ups and downs. He has had several episodes where his legs have given out and down he goes. The week before last, he was on the ground three separate times. One found him collapsing on the way into a Wednesday night Mass. My Mother rushed in, waited until a break in the action then proclaimed, "Tom has fallen!" and half the congregation in the back jumped up and ran out to help.

The last straw was when he fell at home and blood was involved.

My Dad is a fighter. He was born premature and not expected to live. 88 years later, here he is continuing to beat the odds.

Considering the "quality of life" not only for my Dad, but for my Mom, it was decided to put in a pace maker. The doctor explained it would not necessarily prolong his life, but it would regulate the heart beat which was falling too low and causing the drop in blood pressure.

When my Dad's health took a turn for the worst four years ago a pace maker was not an option. Considering the improvements of recent medical procedures "they" decided that "out patient' surgery was all that was required to get my Dad up and running again.

It was almost the truth.

I realize that I am not the only one who has to watch their parent fade away. My Dad is a shell of the person he was. He is encased in a body that does not work any longer. He has had strokes that have robbed him of who he is. Who he was.

I sit with him as he watches television in between naps. Anything that is cowboy related, John Wayne especially, he is thoroughly absorbed. I sometimes can catch a glimpse of the person he was, sometimes he makes an observation, or an attempt at a joke. There is a tiny part of him in there.

It was reported that as he lay on the sidewalk in front of the church with his eyes closed, the EMS people finally arrived and standing over him asked if he had passed out or was unconscious.

His startling blue eyes flew open and he commanded them, "Get me the hell up!"

Not that my Dad ever swore before, actually he never did, he always said that a man who had to resort to profanity was a man who lacked a vocabulary.

I would give anything, anything to have one day, one afternoon, one hour with my Dad the way he was. To have him rebuke me for muttering a profanity. To have him shake his finger in my face and tell me that I was a "FAMILY SURNAME"!! To have those moments when he would be telling a story and begin to wind it up by saying, "To make a long story short...."

To hear one more time his white washed WWII stories. To hear the endless supply of, "When I was young...." narratives. What I would give to hear about his light weight fighting career in the army, or to be told about him swimming across the river in New Hampshire, or his days as a number runner in NYC.

When ever his time does come, even though I am beginning to believe he will live to be 100, his long story will indeed be cut too short.