Monday, June 27, 2011

father's day

i wasn't putting off writing about father's day purposefully.. i got busy... ok so maybe it was subconsciously purposefully..
this is our second father's day without him.. see first father's day for that post... but this year i resolved to do better...didn't work out so well

father's day anticipation starts as soon as the cards are put out in the stores.. last month i was shopping for a shelf of some kind.. twice i ran out of walmart in tears... you know they don't warn us that we not only mourn the physical loss of the person.. we also mourn thing we do or want to do involving them.. every father's day (not sure when the tradition started) i would send my dad a fart or poop related card... toilet humor is the best kind of humor! when sound cards came out i was over the moon excited to send him the fartiest nosiest card ever! i found just the right one and he played it for every visitor for months afterward (until he claimed my mom broke it)... so this year after passing the huge signs advertising father's day cards i felt a pull to find the fart cards... and was hit with the ice water that is reality.. i don't have a dad to send them to...
sure i've got amazing uncles.. and a father in law that deserves attention.. but no one liked a good fart joke like my dad! so there is no replacement to be had..
so father's day creeped closer and closer and i got more and more anxious... the morning of, i woke up resolved to have a good day.. so what if my dad wasn't there to be called? i could celebrate the general idea of fatherhood...i put on my brave face and began the day... till i burned the breakfast turkey sausage.. overfilled the coffee maker.. dropped countless breakables within a matter of minutes.. i screamed, cussed, cried.. over burned sausage and salsa all over the floor needing to be cleaned...not over my papa
later my husband and i negotiated the calling of his dad.. i screamed, cussed and cried.. over his taking his dad for granted.. not over my papa
later still i stubbed my pinky toe.. it immediately turned purple... i screamed, cussed and cried... over my toe.. not over my papa..
i was sent away for some retail therapy.. driving to target to buy a bunch of things we don't need i passed a funeral procession.. i turned on my brights.. and i cried.. for their loss.. whoever it was.. not over my papa..
do you sense a theme of denial here?
my mom called that afternoon apologizing to both me and my brother because she understood, that day, how hard this was for us.. to see reminders everywhere of the things we couldn't buy for him.. of the cards he would never read.. of the reality that all we had were memories and a grave to clean.. maintaining my composure (i was in target after all).. i listened..
when i got home i took a nice long hot shower.. and i cried.. screamed.. cussed.. and cried some more... this time it was for me.. it was for him.. denial is exhausting .. and something had to give..
they should hand out tshirts to those of us who have lost.. i survived father's day.. or i survived mother's day. or i survived the anniversary of my daughter's college graduation.. or i survived a random tuesday that i was really missing my grandmother...
i guess that's what we do right.. survive.. go forward... onward.. because here i am a week and a day later.. surviving!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book Review- Heaven Is For Real

Heaven Is For Real: a little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back
by Todd Burpo w/ Lynn Vincent
Gale, Cengage Learning 2010

I read another blog about a woman who also lost her father to kidney cancer Bumps in the Road. She mentioned this book in one of the posts that she'd written. I read it on the same day that I had gone through my first day of hospice training. In this particular training we were asked to set aside any misgivings of God or our particular faiths or lack there of. We were told stories of patients reaching out into space, gazing at or even talking into the ether in their last minutes of life. We were warned that even if we did not believe in an afterlife, that we could not discount our patients' experiences. I believe whole heartedly in an afterlife. I believe that there is a place that awaits me in heaven. I also believe that children are much more open to these experiences and so the book peaked my interest.

The Burpo family experiences something that would shake any family to it's core. Their three year old son faced death. Little Colton suffers a ruptured appendix and two surgeries to clean out his system. During Colton's time in the hospital the Burpo's turn to their faith and send countless prayers for the well being of their son.
Colton survives and even miraculously thrives (which baffles the hospital staff). The family counts their blessings and continues on with the business of life until Colton offhandedly mentions a recent trip to heaven. Yes, heaven.
He relays messages from Jesus and Todd's grandfather. Todd Burpo instantly believes his son and finds scripture to back up the child's descriptions of heaven, Jesus, John the Baptist and "Pop". Colton continues to remember events and reveals he saw his father praying while he was in surgery, he describes coming out of his body and being held by Jesus. He describes angels, as the bible describes them, not as they are portrayed in paintings. Todd is surprised by his son's revelations because his Sunday school education has not been nearly so advanced for the child to know such biblical details.
Colton becomes a messenger of sorts as time progresses, emphatically expressing that we must have Jesus in our hearts if we are ever to enter heaven.

This was a short read and while I would have wanted to just see Colton's words and not the interpretation of his pastor father, I think the message is more important. I don't feel we should question children. They are far too pure and innocent. My brother spent many months after my grandpa passed, talking to a statue in the cemetery that he claimed was him. My mom, after turning out my light would say "sleep with the angels" and I believe that I did. We were both taught to pray away our bad dreams. Something I still practice 30 years later. Regardless of the lives we chose to lead and the things we chose to believe or not believe, there are countless experiences out there that can not be discounted. I don't know what little Colton experienced, only he does..but I surely believe God was there to cradle and comfort him and his family through his illness. That I won't ever take for granted, because I have experienced that myself.

Book Review- Making Rounds With Oscar

This book will be the first in a string of reviews. To ready myself as a good hospice volunteer I have begun reading books having to do with death, dying, grief, terminal illness etc. These books are suggested by HOM, suggested by friends/family and other bloggers. My blog seems to be taking an interesting turn toward informational as well as personal and you are all on this journey with me!
Making Rounds With Oscar: The extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat
by David Dosa M.D.
Hyperion 2010

Dr. Dosa works as doctor specializing in geriatrics. He finds himself working in a wonderfully caring and home-like nursing home on the advanced dementia ward. The nurses and other staff begin to talk about one of the many cats living in the home, Oscar. He is a surly one and isn't overly friendly. In fact he is rarely seen.. unless a patient is actively dying. Dr. Dosa discovers this is not a new activity for the cat. He has watched over many dying patients long before it was noticed.
Dr. Dosa interviews families of former patients and learns that Oscar was not only a comfort to the person as they passed but also one to the family. In some of the cases Oscar was the only one present during the passing, at which time he would curl up next to the person's body and await the undertaker.
Through Dr. Dosa's interviews the reader learns of the struggles every family has to endure when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. Each family finds its way to the realization and subsequent guilt of needing a nursing home. They grieve their mothers, fathers and spouses long before they have passed due to the dementia taking away much of who they are. And through it all Ocsar watches and waits to do his duty.
Dr. Dosa starts off trying to understand why and how Oscar is able to detect death. What he learns instead is the importance of what Oscar does. The way he helps and comforts and the importance animals play in caring for people with terminal illnesses.

This was a great read, although the conversations did not seem natural (keeping in mind it was written by a Dr. not a writer), the story was beautiful. My Nana passed years ago after deteriorating through that horrible disease we call Alzheimer's. I had long since moved away and struggled each time I visited home. I was honest when I said I didn't want to see her. I wanted to remember her the way I knew her. Healthy and quick witted. My Nana had a huge part in my raising. If I wasn't with one of my parent's then I was surely with her. My brother was "hers" in many ways. Or at least that was her claim from the day he was born. She loved him with a fury I have never witnessed before or again. In her last days/months she carried a photo of him and I in her bra. The last day I saw her alive I sat with her awkwardly and my mom pushed for me to talk to her. I couldn't.. I didn't know her, she didn't know me, I had nothing to say and tears would surely have burst out if I had been able to eek out a single word. Instead she took my hand and held it tight. I could feel the involuntary shaking in her hand begin to stop. She looked at me and said "I don't think I know you" she held tighter to my hand and leaned in and finally said "but I love you." Those were her last words to me, and I am so blessed to have that memory. I was not there for her passing but am told that before she passed she asked for my brother, who was there with her. Knowing how much my family struggled to take care of her and my own short experiences with the disease, I was touched by the honesty displayed by the families in the book. A recurring theme was having to grieve the person they knew while learning to love the person they became. Also, in thinking of Oscar I am reminded of how amazing animals are. They aren't cursed with logic and emotions. They just do, they just react..and sometimes when no one else can, they just love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

on God.. and faith part 4

here are links to parts 1-3

i have 4 bibles...i got my first from my paternal grandparents so long ago that i scribbled with crayon on the inside... the other 3 i got more mom was so exited when i got my contacts so that i could actually read/see the words... she asks at least every other time if i have read lately.. my usual answer is "no but i know i should".. my views are a little complicated but are becoming clearer... i make no secret of my issues with organized religion and religion in general.. but do want a relationship with God and strive to understand more..i also lack "faith"... i am logical to a fault and still question things that have no answers.. but as i work on my relationship with God through prayer and self exploration i can honestly say i see the world more clearly.. i see beauty that i never saw before.. i see and compartmentalize things so as to less complicate my life... in short.. i trust that God has a plan and place for me with him and i will get there.. eventually...
so.. this morning i got up.. poured a huge gigantic heart stopping cup of coffee..opened my windows and sat to read one of my bibles.. i kind of scanned a few random pages.. i don't have the attention span for much more than that when i am fully caffeinated... anyway i ran across this section in which Paul (i think) speaking...

1 Corinthians 15:43
"Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength"

and it got me thinking about a conversation i had with a woman at a hospice training session... we were being told to respect the religious and spiritual views of patients and families we see..we are supposed to go in as blank slates (hard as that may be).. anyway this woman was telling me of a talk she had with a friend who was atheist but asked her to pray for her when she was sick... "it must be hard" the woman said to me "to not have anything to fall back on," she said "i'd rather put all my faith in God and be wrong in the end instead of believing in nothing and being wrong in the end".. i tend to respect whatever way a person choses to get through life.. whatever way then tend to find their fact i take offence to people who blatantly declare one way of praising God is wrong.. i believe God is too big for religion.. i digress.. like i said.. i am finding my way and making my path..

then i thought of another comment someone made.. plain and simple "rest in peace robert".. i giggled to myself... if the scripture above is true.. which i choose to believe is truth...then you better believe there is no resting in peace going on.. ok so maybe he is snoozing in a golden woven hammock up there.. but with his body fixed and his health and youth restored i imagine he is running, hiking and enjoying such beautiful sights that our human minds can't even fathom them... he is in peace sure... although his neighbors aren't getting so much peace as he snores loud enough to shake the whole kingdom!

the point to all of this is the way a "seemingly" random passage can lead to contemplation.. and that is where i find God.. i believe he guides me to where i need to be.. in my job searching.. rejections and no the daily kinks that get thrown in my way.. He is there and there is a message to it all if i just listen hard enough...and because i can find this clarity more easily i can spend the rest of my day dancing in my living room.. cause life is beautiful!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

journal part 6- final

spent memorial day weekend the way the rest of the world and out of lowes and with a hot dog or two...last memorial day i wrote in my journal for the last time until october 2009 then once again in march after my papa passed..for the life of me i can not remember what i/we did that memorial day.. i know i went back home for father's day (which is coming up and which sends me crying out of stores every time i see the card displays) in any event, memorial day of 2009 left me once again questioning my husband was very supportive of me being home with my dad when i needed to be... but i struggled dealing with pent up feelings of having moved away in the first place.. we moved from AZ after he failed to find work there after a that time i have had a chance to earn my degree and do what i need to do so that we won't need to depend entirely on his income.. but somewhere in the deepest parts of my brain there is a little girl who never wanted to leave her family and unfortunately the blame wrongly falls on him when i am most upset or feeling torn.. we are looking and trying now to move closer to home but after losing my grandparents then my dad.. sometimes i can't help but feel "too little too late".. and that is not something i want to think about right now as i look for jobs and opportunities... so on with the journal entry...
for the other 5 in this series follow these links:

memorial day, 2009

since i have been back in MI i feel like a zombie. just doing what needs to be done on autopilot. my heart is with you not here, and not in my daily activities. i find myself feeling sorry for (my husband). i have nothing to give him. my patience is gone, my smiles are gone, there is no more me.. inside of me. everything i do revolves around the fact that you have cancer. every thought i have, every breath i breathe reminds me. but how else should it be?
then there is this limbo that i am stuck in. half of me is begging God for a miracle while the other half is readying myself for the inevitable. and the continuous guilt of not being home with you eats me alive. i suggested to (my husband) that we spend the weekend reconnecting, maybe we should get away. but i know i have nothing to offer. there is no connection to be had when all i want is to be with you while i still have the opportunity. i am at a total loss.
but my new motto, busy hands=busy mind... seems to dull it all a little bit.