Thursday, April 30, 2009

I've had all kinds of thoughts in my head but no time to write. I feel like I'm the caretaker of my family. My brother has schizophrenia, my niece and nephew both suffer from bi-polar disorder and my oldest brother claims his wife has multiple personality disorder. I feel like I'm the odd man out. My father once warned me not to be the last one standing. I wasn't sure what he meant by that but I'm starting to get an idea. I feel bad that my niece really has no one to depend on at all. She went through a divorce about 2 years ago and her dad, my brother, though I love him to death, has made some pretty bad choices in his life leaving his daughter to feel as though he has chosen women over her. I don't know but it seems the world can be pretty messed up by itself. Why create more problems for yourself. My brother is always talking about unconditional love. Well, the definition of unconditional love is (love without conditions). I don't know anyone that doesn't love with conditions. Even God has some expectations of us. The closest thing I can come to unconditional love is the love I have for my children. I "think" I love them unconditionally but in all fairness, they have never tested my theory. Maybe we can love someone but not always like what they do. I guess you can love someone but not be able to be with them for whatever reason but if you don't stay does that nullify the unconditional love idea? Just pondering the question.

They Have Finally Arrested the Swine Who Started It All!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'm just too tired to think of anything clever to write about. After I got off work last night at 8:00 I had to take my niece to the hospital. I didn't get home to bed until 1:00 a.m. I'm exhausted! It has been raining so hard this morning that we have leaks all over the building. I'm going home early as I have to pick up my niece's children from school and take them to my house for the rest of the week. It's been awhile since I've had any little girls but it will be fun!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Well, last night I finally slept through the night. Oh what a little Sominex can do! I have a long day today with meetings lasting until about 10pm tonight. I sure am glad I got some sleep:) My daughter Julie sees the orthopedic surgeon on Friday and I guess they will schedule surgery on her knee. She's sure not looking forward to it but I think she is ready to just get it done. She will have to have therapy every day for 3 months. With a co-pay of $25. each visit that could get a little expensive. Yuk, I had no idea that a torn ACL could be this bad. They still don't know if her other knee will require surgery as well. My mother kept referring to her as the damaged one. At least that is one way to tell the twins apart.....Julie is the one with the limp! Guess that's not funny. When they were little for years she was the one with the missing front tooth. She knocked it out with a baton. We called her an aggie twirler! When they were babies my cousin wrote their names across their foreheads with a permanent marker but he got the wrong name on the wrong head. I could have killed him!
Well, I have a meeting first thing this morning so I'd better get ready for it. In spite of the gloomy weather I plan to have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Veterinarian

One Sunday, while counting the money in the weekly offering, the pastor of a small church found a pink envelope containing $1,000.

The following week, it happened again. In an effort to determine the benefactor, he watched closely the next Sunday and saw an elderly woman put the distinctive pink envelope on the plate. He felt he should respect her right to privacy, so said nothing.

This went on for weeks until the pastor, overcome by curiosity, approached her. "Ma'am," he said, "I couldn't help but notice that you have been putting $1,000 a week in the collection plate."

"Why, yes," she replied, "every week my son sends me money and I give some of it to the church.."

The pastor replied, "That's very generous and I thank you on behalf of the whole congregation. But $1,000 is quite a lot, Are you sure you can afford it? How much does your son send you?"

The woman answered, "$10,000 a week."

The pastor was amazed. He said, "Your son is quite thoughtful and must be very successful. What does he do for a living?" "He is a veterinarian," she answered.

"That's a noble and honorable profession," said the pastor, "but I had no idea they made that much money. Where is his practice?"

The woman replied proudly, "In Nevada. He has two cat houses -- one near Las Vegas, and one in Reno."
It's amazing just how sneaky grief can be. I go through the day feeling OK with only an occasional reminder of the loss I have just experienced. When I see the mother's day card display at Walmart or pass the spring flowers outside and wonder who will teach me the names of all the flowers in my yard or who will give me starts of ground covers that never seem to grow when planted by me. But in the daylight these moments are swift and fleeting but when it is dark outside, and I put my head on my pillow, the ember inside me ignites and the grief burns like a bon fire. I spend the first few hours remembering every detail of those last days. I begin to question every decision I made wondering if I had done something else would I still have her with me now. I know all of this is normal and I know that it will pass in time but part of me is afraid that when the grief subsides so will my memories of her begin to dim as well. I don't want to forget anything.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Long Day Ahead

This is going to be a long day today...I feel it in my brain is mush! I'm still struggling at night to sleep so it leaves me rather foggle headed during the day. This weekend I hope to get some yard work done as it is looking a bit neglected. I need to buy some flowers for the window boxes and I'm considering trying my hand at creating a cobble stone pathway. But still pondering the idea. Either way I'm looking forward to the weekend and hopefully will accomplish a task or two.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Counting the Days

I find myself counting the days since my mother's death. Tomorrow it will be 2 weeks and I find that hard to believe. I keep reliving the whole 58 days that she was sick and of course, as we humans often do, I question every decision I made. These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night. These are the questions I wake up at 2:00 a.m. and start asking. My brain is rational but my heart hasn't gotten the message yet. When I find myself doubting things I have to stop and be still for a moment. All I have to do is remember all the gifts I was given and the time we had to say good-bye. That gift is not to be taken for granted or ignored. I know without a doubt that my mother was at peace and so I must also find that peace as well. I know it will come in time. Of this I am certain. When I'm feeling sad I like to remember the day that we were teasing mother by telling her it was OK now to tell which of us was her favorite. In the past she would just shush us or refuse to answer but this time she responded. She thoughtfully replied, "The one who needed me most at the time." Now when I'm sad and awake in the middle of the night that memory comforts me. I feel her around me because she knows I need her.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Different people have different definitions of friendship. For some, it is the trust in an individual that he / she won't hurt you. For others, it is unconditional love. There are some who feel that friendship is companionship. People form definitions based on the kind of experiences they have had. They say a person who has found a faithful friend has found a priceless treasure. I found just such a treasure in the summer of 1957. That was the summer Karma Ann Hulslander moved on the block. I don't remember meeting her, it's as if one day she just appeared and became my best friend. Karma was the original Pippy Longstocking. She moved to Oklahoma with her mom, sister Arta and baby brother Kenny. Her dad, Leonard, remained in Colorado to run their ranch. Karma's mother had a dream of becoming a doctor so she and the kids moved here so she could attend the University of Oklahoma. Mrs. Hulslander was about 4 feet 11 inches tall and she was as round as she was tall. Both Karma and Arta towered over their mother and baby Kenny wasn't far behind.

Karma was the first tomboy I ever knew. She wore boy’s jeans and cowboy boots, that is when she bothered to wear shoes at all. Her brown hair was long and worn in a ponytail and her face was covered in brownish red freckles. She was like a magnet and I was drawn to her instantly. Karma had an unending imagination and being with her was always a new adventure. She was the Lone Ranger and I was her faithful companion Tonto.

Karma and I could not have been more different. She was fiercely independent, could hold her own with any boy and was what daddy referred too as “tough as a boot”. I on the other hand was a timid, insecure, sissy girl. I wanted to be brave and daring but it just wasn’t in my nature. I was a peacemaker at heart and avoided confrontation at any cost. Just being with Karma made me believe I too could be brave and daring even if it was only wishful thinking.

To earn spending money Karma collected pop bottles. She received 2 cents a bottle and would go all over the university campus picking up bottles and trading them in for money to purchase little wooden animals from Dee's gift shop. Karma would have rather played with those little animals than any old doll. One Christmas, her dad built her a doll house, complete with electric lights but it was never used to house a Barbie or any other doll for that matter. Karma's prized animals were the happy homeowners.

One summer, Karma's dad built a playhouse in their back yard but Karma insisted it was not a playhouse but rather a ranch. No matter what name it was given it was a really great place to play. We made dishes from mud and even had running water after Karma found an old enema bag and hung it from the chimney of the barbecue grill. One night we decided to play hide n' seek and the ranch house was home base. Everyone took off to hide as my brother Mike climbed up into Hulslander's attic. He probably would never have been found if he hadn't fallen through their living room ceiling. Mr. Hulslander was sitting in the living room reading just as Mike's legs came crashing through the ceiling. There he was, dangling above Mr. Hulslander's head and no surprise, the game was over.

Karma's mom never got accepted to Medical school. In the 50's it was very hard for women to get admitted plus she was older than most of the other students and considered a bad risk. She did go on to pharmacy school and after her graduation the whole family moved back to Colorado. Karma would come back in the summers to visit, riding the bus from Colorado to Oklahoma all by herself. One summer, when I was 12 years old I went back to Colorado with her. To this day I can't believe my mother let me go. She never would have if I had been with anyone other than resourceful Karma. She was a wise old soul in a 12 year-old body who made us all wish to be Peter Pan and remain children forever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dangling the Bait

This is a story told by my father over the years much to my mother's protests. My mother retold the story while she was in the hospital to some of the little nurse's aides.

My father's version of the story went like this. When my parents were young and a few years before they were married they went down to the old swimming hole to swim. According to my father the water was CRYSTAL CLEAR! My dad said he had climbed some rocks and was about to dive into the water when he saw my mother (out in the pond) waving her bathing suit over her head. Unfortunately for him......she had gotten back into her suit before he could swim out to her. Now the only difference in the story according to my mother was that the water was very muddy....and my father was on a cliff about 100 yards away... Somehow that cliff got higher and farther and the water dirtier as the years passed and the story was retold.

Now when my mother was in the hospital just before she went home on hospice she told the same story to the aides only this time she didn't mention the hazy water or how far away my father was. One of the aides asked her if that was how she got her man. My mother's response caught me by surprise....She said, "I didn't get him by taking off my suit...I got him by getting it back on before he could get to me. I said, "Well, wasn't that a little risky on your part?" She responded,"No, I already knew how fast he could swim."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back To Work

I'm back to work but my head is a little fuzzy. It is hard to concentrate and I have so much to do to catch up. Like everything else in life we just take each moment at is comes.

My mother's memorial service was held last Friday and it was beautiful. I gave the eulogy and it was an honor to do so. I was very nervous and only broke down once but somehow managed to regain my composure. Our minister captured in her words my mother's beautiful spirit and gave comfort to my entire family.

Life is precious so don't waste a moment of it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Glamour Girl:)


I've been thinking about the words I want to say in my mother's eulogy and a thousand memories flood my head. One of my favorite memories is of my mother singing to me when I was a little girl. The only song I ever wanted to hear was Silent Night. So no matter what time of year it was or if it was 100 degrees outside the lullaby she sang to me was Silent Night. She and I talked about my favorite song choice a few days ago and I sang Silent Night to her while she sang along. It was a special moment. On Thursday evening before she died my niece Gena was talking to her grandmother and said, "Grandma, you are going to be my angel and I want you do something to let me know you are there." My mother smiled and replied, "I'll sing" amd Gena answered "I'll hear you." I was so moved listening to them.

Yesterday I took my brother shopping to find him clothes to wear for Easter and to my mother's memorial service. This morning Ron and I picked him up to go to the sunrise service at church. He looked so nice in his new jacket and yellow shirt. I told him how proud mother was of him. (Mike is usually dressed in baggy jeans with a shirt that doesn't quite cover his stomach) Mother was always telling him to pull down his shirt! We were the first ones to arrive at the church and as our minister was setting up for the service in the atrium she put a ceramic angel on the alter. She said she brought it to be our angel for the service and as she held it she noticed a winding key on the bottom and a tag that said China. She wound the key and the little angel started playing "Silent Night". The reverend said "Oh, Silent Night on Easter Sunday," I literally stopped breathing for a moment and then the tears just started falling. My mother was singing to me again and I heard her song loud and clear. I don't believe in just don't hear Silent Night at church on Easter Sunday. This was the church I grew up in hearing my mother's sweet voice in the choir. I heard it again this morning, loud and clear just when I had thought I had experienced the most spiritual experience of my life she shared with me just one more. She let me know with no uncertainty that death is only the beginning not the end!

Friday, April 10, 2009

At Peace

My mother passed away this morning at 10:10 a.m. I began giving her morphine every 15 minutes at about 12:00 a.m. It was hard to watch her struggle but it reminded me of just how precious life is and how hard it can be to leave it behind. We realized that we were about to run out of morphine at 9:00 and so I asked Ron to take my brother and go pick up the prescription that Hospice had called in to the pharmacy. It occurred to me that perhaps my mother was having difficulty because Mike was in the house and she didn't want him to see her die. After they left I climbed up in the bed with her and held her and whispered to her that Mike was with Ron and that it was OK to go. I promised I'd look after him and then she took one final gasp of life and she was gone. I have never had such a spiritual experience in my life nor felt so priviledged. The Hospice nurse said, "She chose you." I never thought about a person choosing who to be with when they died. Her words touched me deeply. I was so proud of Mike. He was very strong and is doing remarkably well. I have to write her obituary tonight and then I will begin writing her euology. We are planning to have a memorial service here at the Presbyterian Church and then we will take her ashes to Poteau to put with my father's ashes. I'm so tired tonight but I'm very much at peace because I know where she is and I know that we did the very best we could to make her passing as peaceful as possible.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I continued the morphine through the night last night and all day today. Mom has been awake off an on today but only for brief periods. Each time she recognized us and even said a few I love you's! So far she appears to be comfortable and looks very peaceful. The hospice nurse said she believes she will pass away sometime this evening but I believe for some reason it will be tomorrow. I've had the feeling for some time that she would pass away on good Friday. I'm at ease with everything that is happening and I have overcome my fear. I think I was afraid that when things got bad I wouldn't be able to do what needed to be done. But so far I've handled everything just fine and am so glad I've been able to be the one to care for my mother when she needs me the most. Last night I put my face close to hers and told her how glad I am that she was my mother. She reached up and touched my cheek and whispered "Thank you for being my sweet girl". What more could I ever ask of her. God has blessed me so much and made these last days so special. He is with her now and I truly believe he will take her softly from this life. She will go gently into the night. I haven't slept since sometime Tuesday but for some reason I'm not tired. I just want to stay here beside her until she takes her last breath in this life. I feel honored to be with her now. This is the mother who cut out paper dolls with me and taught me how to be a mother. She gave me life and I am honored to be with her now when she parts this world and goes to be with her heavenly father. I know her hand will be the first I hold when it is my time to join her.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yesterday was a good day for my mother. Her great grand daughters came to see her as well as many other friends and relatives. She seemed to enjoy seeing everyone. By 7:00 pm her kidneys shut down and she has had no urinary output since that time. Hospice has said that the process has begun and I began giving her morphine at 3:45 this afternoon. She will receive it every 4 hours until her breathing becomes rapid and then we can give it every 15 minutes. So far she hasn't slept but she doesn't seem to be in too much discomfort. She is having cramping but that is about the only discomfort she appears to have. Our minister was here this afternoon and my brothers and I received communion along with my mother. It was very special especially now during the week of Easter. I realize that she may linger a few more days or it could be sooner but I'm hoping she slips away without pain. Keep her in your prayers!

Monday, April 6, 2009

My mother was released to go home on hospice last Thursday. I've been here at her house ever since. She seems to be resting comfortably, free of pain, and still able to talk to all of us and we have been sharing stories of our lives together. She is at peace with everything that is happening. She is unable to eat or take meds. She is barely taking any water at this time either. Everything she swallows just comes back up. It has been difficult to switch my mind from treating to just keeping her comfortable but that his the hospice philosophy and I understand that treating her will not change the ultimate outcome. We have been so fortunate that she is not suffering. She told me this morning that she is tired. Soon we will need to tell her it is OK to go but I don't think we are there yet. Hospice believes she may pass away this week or the next. Her body will not last long without nourishment or medications. This morning the chaplain was here and he sang to her. I heard her sweet voice singing along, How Great Thou Art, and Amazing Grace. My mother still has a beautiful voice and it sounded so sweet as they sang together. I could always pick out her voice in the choir at church when I was a little girl. Of course I thought she had the most beautiful voice of all. I am trying to memorize every word she says to me now. She told me she feels our love and I assured her that we feel hers as well. So many friends and family have been here to see her and tell her how much she has meant to them. My niece came from Muskogee yesterday and while she was here she was looking through a photograph album. In the album she found pages and pages written by my mother documenting the story of her life. None of us even knew that she had written this. I sat in her room last night and read it to my mother. She just smiled hearing her own words telling the story of her life as a child, a young mother and grandmother. It was very special and such a treasure for all of us to keep. I'm going to type it up later and make sure everyone gets a copy. Mother is sleeping now and I think I will get some rest myself. Please keep her in your prayers even though you may have never met. She is the sweetest, kindest, most unselfish woman I have ever known and to know her is to love her.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preparing to Die

After my meeting last night I went to the hospital and sat with my mom for about 3 hours. We had a good visit. I don't think she really understands the ramifications of not placing the feeding tube but I think she is just very afraid of anything invasive. That's OK with me. I was so nervous about the whole thing and kept wondering if it was the right decision or not but with such mixed opinions from the doctors it was hard to make a decision. My mom was very tearful last night and seemed to want to talk. She kept telling me how much she loved me and all her children. For the first time that I can remember she talked about how much she misses my father and her own mother. I asked her if she was afraid of death and she answered, "I think I am". We talked a long time about death and I shared with her my thoughts. I said I believe God was with us when we entered this world and I believe he will be with us when it is time to leave. My belief that this isn't all there is and that we will be with our loved ones again comforts me as well. I reminded her of what she told me when I was pregnant with my twins. I had expressed my nervousness about the actual delivery and pain. She told me that nature had a way of preparing a woman for delivery and that after 9 months I would be so ready I wouldn't think about the pain. She also told me that once I held those babies in my arms I would forget about the pain. I said maybe death is the same way. Maybe nature prepares us for the end and we realize we are tired and ready to rest. Maybe when we see the face of God we forget about the pain of leaving.