Thursday, September 25, 2008

Daily Miracles

Hi everyone, I’m struggling with swollen legs and feet again. The vascular center has agreed to do several lymphedema massages for me to get things back under control again. Need to start my recumbent bike riding again too. The muscle movement helps the lymph fluid move up and out of my legs rather than staying there. Just haven’t felt like much exercise at all with my breathing being so tight the last several days. My appetite has finally started coming back following Dad’s death. Things will turn around soon. Need to be patient as I go through the stages of grief. Need more roughage and fiber in my diet so that I can get over this darned constipation. It’s too bad that methadone stops the wave’s of muscular contractions that mean blessed regularity. Oh well, this too shall pass. Ha….

I just get that feeling of being stuck recently and not wanting to nor having the energy to do very much. I think this is just a passing feeling as I adjust to limits in stamina still there, fatigue which pops up, and pain that I need to respect. When I look at it, I’ve been getting groceries for us recently, have been feeding Charley at evenings and cleaning his litter pans, have been paying the bills, and play with Charley each morning. I read about and keep up with the world and fill my days in a calm and relaxed way. Yesterday, I had three health care appointments and drove around in the downtown area to get to them, coming back home once. One was with my pain specialist. That’s the hard one because there are always two or three other residents or pharmacists or other doctors with him. It makes me tense. Then I had my lymphedema massage at the other big hospital in town, Abbot has a very good vascular center. Then I had an allergy desensitization shot. I’m trying to space my three shots further apart because I’m having some itching and breathing difficulties when I get all three injections together. Then finally, home; in a lot of pain. I was exhausted and shaky from fatigue too and then got hot and sweaty, all signs of too much on one day. I only do that when I absolutely have to. Because of office schedules I had to make it a hard day. Thankfully, I could just rest and relax when I got home about 3:15. Oh what a lot of freedom I have with my life.

So, you see, I shouldn’t be feeling so stuck. There were even opportunities to help two older women who were having a terrible time putting groceries in their cars. They were both disabled and had made it all the way to the grocery store and driven themselves and had managed through the store. The last step got them both. For one, I calmed her down after being so upset when all her groceries fell on the parking lot. Another young woman helped her pick them up. Then, she was so frazzled and upset that she couldn’t find her keys and couldn’t start her car. What do you do, but try to help her feel proud for what she has accomplished and say this is ok. It’s not so bad. She said that she felt she was just becoming a shell of herself. Maybe, but getting to the store is a big victory. I knew how much help I need and how much help I get from others to get along.

The other woman had gotten to her car with an electric grocery cart and her cane. She just didn’t see how she could get those bags into her car. I could see her staring at those bags and shaking her head slightly with a tightly pursed lip. I said almost immediately, “can I help you?” “If you’d like to”, she said. Well I did and loaded them all into her trunk. It just made me feel so wonderful inside when she gave me that big smile and said Thank You! ; so warmly. She saw me a few minutes later at the Post Office dropping off mail. She grinned and smiled again. We waved to each other. I guess all I need is some small sense of accomplishment. Life is not made of a few BIG moments, but of many small meaningful moments of love and caring that bring us closer to each other . I call them the background to my living. My life is not moving along so much in big jumps, but in small daily miracles, reaching out .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On Dad Passing: Father and My Family

Living In Love Today: A Loving Memory

Hello everyone. I wrote this message to my family members and close friends on September 1, 2008, very slightly modified here. I'm posting it here because it speaks about what a wonderful family I've been blessed to grow up in and become a mature man in. I really cannot imagine a much better life in terms of my family. This was the first loss we have experienced in our nuclear family. Thinking through this loss has helped me to realize even more what I have been given in terms of love.

I've told my family members that there is a hollowed-out feeling in my stomach and my appetite is next to nothing since shortly after Dad passed away on August 17th. There's this feeling of shock in my arms and legs and my energy level is very low too. Now that all the activity of the memorial service and internment is over for Dad, we are left alone with our feelings of sudden loss and the quiet is overwhelming. Some of us can't stand it. My greatest difficulty is stomach upset and not facing the emotional side of Dad's loss very well. I've broken down from time to time, but have been unable to cry. Perhaps it's part of being male and being part of a university culture that seems to work through most events with little celebration or little mourning or sense of stopping for either success or loss. We need those moments don't we to mark the major passages in existence here.

We've been so blessed by our family the last two weeks. We are so close and never fail to say we love each other as we depart either in-person or by phone. We are also ones who hold and hug each other often. There is no lack of expression of our care and devotion to each other. This is new to us though. We've never had a member of our nuclear family die until now. There has never been a forboding sense that someone was close to dying either. Because Dad died so suddenly and unexpectedly we did not have any chance to say good bye. There was simply the sudden inexplicable absence of a very close being who had always been there for us.

I don't know how we are going to handle this. I can say that in life and in the way we treated Dad, we should have very few regrets. That will be a plus for us. The last two weeks of Dad's life were probably about the happiest times he ever had. Almost all of us:Sons, Daughter, Grandsons, Granddaughters, Nieces, Cousins, Friends, and others were there for Mom and Dad's 60th Anniversary Celebration in early August. We sons went out with Dad golfing in August and went practicing with him. We had a wonderful picnic celebration on Lake Erie. We showed Dad pictures. We introduced him to my brother Roy's new black lab mix, Stella, who puts "the lick" and "the chew" on everyone. We took Mom and Dad out to dinner and lunch. We played cards with them. We said we love you and we'll miss you many times as we headed out of town after the Anniversary Celebration. We loved and hugged Mom and Dad's dogs. We took them to many out of town events and to medical care and to hospitals and doctors. We were never apart from Dad very much. As my brother Al said to me and has remarked to others, if we came out badly or didn't turn out right, we have only ourselves to blame. We cannot fault Dad and Mom. We had an extremely loving and functional family life and can never remember being afraid for what the next day might hold.

My brother Roy was the rock on which Mom and Dad depended since he lives in-town, close to them. He and his wife were there immediately when Dad had a heart episode and injured his arm and his head badly. He was there all the time helping when needing. Because he was, Dad died while playing golf, his favorite game. Dad loved that being outside, and brother Roy often joined him. The most difficult thing for Roy might be that Dad may have died in his arms while Roy rushed back to the ambulance at the clubhouse. But Dad died doing what he loved, out in nature, and playing his favorite game, golf. Roy helped Dad enjoy his last few moments. He should not blame himself, but realize what a wonderful son and companion he has been to Dad.

We will get over this because of the wonderful memories we have of loving and caring for each other and the joy of the life we spent together. What a wonderful example we had in Dad. We can all say, "Thanks Dad for being there." Dad can say and is saying, "Thanks all my family and my wonderful friends for making my life such a joyful celebration of living." "I will see you in a far better place soon."