Welcome to my completely random and quite impulsive endeavor! Anything is worth a try once, right?!?!?!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Triggered Memory

My heart is very heavy tonight.  I am on the verge of tears and am very sad.  I got news today that a college friend's dad passed away on Thanksgiving.  Andy's dad had been fighting cancer for over 2 years and then in late March his father was told that there was nothing else that could be done for him.  Comfort measures were taken and he was told to live his life.  Andy was very diligent in trying to be there for his family.  He visited his parents every weekend and watched the slow decline of his father.  He shared some of the journey with me and I could tell that it was very difficult for him.  He tried to be strong for his family, and I believe he succeeded.  Now, eight months nearly to the day, his father is gone. 

I understand that death is part of the life cycle, but it doesn't make it any easier.  I had only met Andy's dad on one or two occasions back in the late 80s. There was no real relationship and I seriously doubt that he would have even remembered me. I don't think that my heavy heart and sadness is for him.  I think it is for Andy. 

Thinking about Andy's loss and the experience of losing a parent takes me back to the loss of my own father in 2007. 

My dad and I had an on again / off again relationship over the years.  My parents divorced when I was 12 years old and my dad was a parent of convenience for a lot of years.  I was the only one that had any sort of relationship with him when I became an adult.  Even that relationship was very sporadic and was always initiated by me.  In 2000, one of his sisters brought him to our hometown for a cousins wedding.  I didn't even know that my dad was going to be there.  He was staying at a local hotel.  I arranged for all of his grandchildren to go to the hotel to see him.  This was the first time he had met some of the grandchildren.  It was a nice time and we have some great pictures of the event.  When I was in the hospital in 2001 in his current city, he came to visit me.  I made sure that he carried my phone number in his wallet so that I could be contacted in an emergency.  I did have to be called a time or two. 

It was easier to stay away from dad than it was to be with him.  Dad was a severe alcoholic and had lost two families, jobs, housing, and many relationships due to his drinking.  When I would see him, it was always in the bar that he went to and I never know what kind of condition or mood I was going to find him in.    Staying away just became easier.  Once in a while I would receive a call from the agency that was in charge of his money, but other than that, there wasn't much contact for a lot of years. 

In 2006, I received a call to ask if I would become my dad's medical power of attorney, along with his oldest sister.  I agreed, signed all the papers, but never made contact with him.  In early 2007, my aunt contacted me and said that we needed to talk about dad's condition and his housing.  I made arrangements to go visit dad and talk to him about it. 

On January 20, 2007, I went to visit my dad for the first time in a very long time.  The visit was good.  It was very obvious that his health was failing and that he needed some intervention.  He lived in a room above the bar that he always frequented.  There were many rooms rented and then everyone shared a living area and a bathroom.  Dad was so weak, he could barely make it to the bathroom which was just across the hall from his room, and there was no way he could negotiate the stairs to get down to the bar.  After lots of talking with Dad and the agency that took care of his money, Dad agreed to move into an assisted living home.  We moved Dad into the home on February 1, 2007.  Dad loved the place.  He had a 1 bedroom apartment, not just a room.  The assisted living place was brand new, so he was the first tenant. He called it his castle.  Gary and I got him all moved in and settled in.  We had planned to come down and visit him the following weekend.   That visit did not take place as we had planned.

Less than one week after moving in, Dad fell in his kitchen area.  He was taken to the hospital.  Later we found out that he had broken his hip and needed surgery.  My aunt and I met at the hospital to help make some decisions for dad.  He was quite medicated and could not advocate for himself, so my aunt and I took over.  We were concerned about the surgery because Dad's lungs were very weak and we did not think that he would be able to go under anesthesia very well.  With an epidural and very little anesthesia, Dad was able to have his hip fixed. 

I spent the next week driving back and forth between the hospital and home.  My aunt stayed in a motel near the hospital.   Dad was not coming around like he should have.  He kept floating in and out of reality.  Finally we were faced with the reality that dad was much worse off than we had first suspected and we knew that he was dying.  Another reality was that he would not be able to return to his assisted living apartment.  After lots of talking and trying to figure things out, we decided to move dad to a nursing home.  On a Wednesday, I called the nursing home in the town that I live in.  On Thursday they came to the hospital and assessed Dad and agreed to take him on Monday.  My aunt had to get back to her home, so she left a soon as plans were made on that Thursday.  The following day, another one of dad's sisters came to stay there with him until his move to the nursing home on Monday.  

I was exhausted.  I had been driving back and forth to the hospital every day (1 1/2 hours each way).  I had decided that I was going to stay home for the weekend and then ride with the nursing home driver to pick my Dad up on Monday morning.  I planned to keep phone contact with my aunt over the weekend.  Dad did OK through the weekend.  He still wasn't recovering like he should have and was still floating in and out of reality, but he seemed to be holding his own. I had made contact with my siblings over the weekend to let them know what was going on and they were making their own plans to come visit Dad once he got to the nursing home.

Monday morning arrived with an early morning phone call from my aunt.  She told me that I needed to come quickly.  I called the nursing home and put them on hold for picking up my dad. Then I took off for the hospital.  When I got to the hospital, my aunt was hunched over my dad and was crying.  I thought I had not made it on time and he had passed away.  What was really happening was that Dad was having a moment of clarity and they were having a heart to heart conversation.  My aunt later told me that she was sure that dad was going to die before I got there and she kept telling him to hang on.  Once I got there and got to my Dad, he stayed pretty clear minded for a little bit.  We were able to have some good conversations.  Throughout the rest of the morning, he floated in and out of clarity.  The moments that he was "with" us, he tried to talk about regrets.  I wouldn't allow it.  I told him the past was the past.  We had some good conversations off and on that morning.  I was just his daughter and he was just my dad - nothing else mattered. 

At 1:20pm, as I held my dad on one side of his bed and my aunt on the other, we walked Dad right up to death's door and watched him cross the threshold. 

At first I was angry.  Why should anyone have to go through that?  What a horrible thing to have to experience!  Once the anger passed, I realized that I was given a gift.  I was given the opportunity to spend the last month of my fathers life with him - - the chance to let bygones be bygones - - the opportunity to have my daddy again.  I also realized that my father was given a gift too.  Although his clarity was come and go, he knew I was there and that I would take care of him. 

So, now, as I put into words my own experience of dealing with death and losing a parent, I feel better.  I am still very sad for Andy, knowing and somewhat understanding some of the things he endured over the past eight months.  I, like Andy, was the sibling chosen to be the one to be there through the whole process, the one who dealt with things, and the one who watched it happen.  I know that death is not the end of the process.  There is still so much to do and deal with.  I know that time heals, but the memories don't fade.  I recall my experience as if it just happened. I also know that each experience and healing process is different for each person.  I hope that Andy finds peace in knowing that he helped his Dad and gave him a great gift by being there for him. RIP Dick Wichert and RIP Daddy. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Grouping of People

Family . . . I love my family because they are my family. Most of us do not have common interests, common friends, common values, etc.  A lot of us really don't even really know each other.  I can honestly say that I would not call many of them friends, but we are family and have been put together as a grouping of people.

Here they are:

Siblings: I have 3 brothers (Jeff, John, and Mike).  I love them, but don't really know them.  I grew up with Jeff, yet he is like a stranger to me.  John and Mike are much younger than me.  They have a different mother than I do.  Oddly, I find that I have a lot in common with and tend to gravitate toward John.  I have one sister (Jen).  I grew up with Jen too.  I love her because she is my sister, but I do not call her friend.  I also know, because of my father's escapades that there are at least 2 more out there that I do not know at all.

Parents: My mom is one of my best friends and I turn to her often.  Burryl, my step father, has been around for over 25 years.  He's a decent man.  He has no living children of his own.  He has always considered me to be one of his and my kids call him grandpa. My dad, John, is deceased.  He died nearly 4 years ago in my arms.  Honestly, I would not call him a decent man.  As a matter of fact, he was a son of a bitch, but he was / is my dad and I love him.

Grandparents: My mom's folks are Charles and Shirley.  Grandpa died in 1979.  I have him to thank for the diabetic gene.  I was 12 when Grandpa died.  I didn't know him very well.  I don't remember a lot about him.  Grandma is still living at the ripe age of 86.  She lives next door to me in an apartment building.  I call "Grams" a friend.  It is hard watching her get old and losing some skills and some cognition, but she has aged gracefully and lived a good life.  My dad's parents are Norm and Mary.  Grandma died in 1976 and grandpa in 1980.  I have very vague memories of grandpa and none of grandma.  I recognize them in pictures, but it ends there.  As children, we did not go to their house very often which was my fathers preference.  Burryls folks are Hank and Lucy.  Hank died a very long time ago, long before Burryl came into our family.  Lucy died a few years ago.  I don't remember exactly when, but I was blessed with a lot of years of calling her Grandma Lucy.

Aunts/Uncles/Cousins:  My mom has one brother.   I have 3 first cousins (Jodi, Jerry, and Jeannette).  There is a whole story behind that alone.  Long story short, 2 of the cousins are results of their mothers affairs while they were married to my uncle.  It is also rumored that the 3rd cousin is also not his, but nothing has been proven.  I am on friendly, yet very limited terms with 2 of the 3 cousins. The other lives half a country away and I dont really know her.  My dad has 7 sisters.  There are 23 first cousins.  I know all of their names and that is about it.  Actually I know more than that, but very little.  Facebook has helped me to reconnect with some of them and that has been good, but I do not carry on conversations with them and we are only connected because we are related. The closest that I am with any of them would be with my Aunt Marty, dad's oldest sister.  We were medical guardians for my dad, so prior to my dads death, when decisions had to be made, we did a lot of talking.  Since dads death our communication has gone back to where it was before, non existent.  I have also had very close connections to my Aunt Bonnie.  She is sister #4.  I grew up for a lot of years on a farm a mile from my aunt Bonnies. After my folks divorced, when I was 12,  there was not a lot of contact until I was a senior in high school.  Aunt Bonnie helped me to apply and get into college.  We have had sporadic contact over the years.  She was with me when dad died and we had a great reconnection, however, just like Aunt Marty, contact has gone back to almost non existent.  Bonnie had 5 kids, and I knew the oldest 3 the best.  There really is no contact with any of them now, except my cousin Jill.  I think we have some common interests and she is a very interesting person.

I could go on and on with step parents (there have been a few), step brothers, step sisters, step cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great aunts, great uncles, and so on, and so on.  Soon, we'd have to get into the 6 degrees of separation or some one might even try to take us back to Adam and Eve (which I don't buy). So . . .  we'll just leave it here . . . family, in the literal sense of the word.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We Had A Plan

I never wanted children.  I felt that I would not be a good role model and also felt that a child would tie me down.  I had always been kind of a wild child and had no intention of changing.  One week before I got married, I was diagnosed with brittle Type 1 diabetes.  I was told that getting pregnant and carrying a child would be very hard on me and the baby.  I was okay with that and it further reinforced my wish for no children.  My husband was OK with not having kids for the latter mentioned reasons, but not the earlier mentioned reasons.

So, that was the plan.  We were going to maintain our childless, married lifestyle and have lots of toys and do lots of traveling instead.  

A couple months before our 5th anniversary, we found out that I was pregnant.  Surprisingly, we were both excited about it, but also very nervous because of the warnings we had received from the doctor.  Our general m.d. sent me to a perinatologist right away.  His name is Dr. Watson and he was great!  I was also being followed very closely by my endocrinologist for my diabetes.  The first half of the pregnancy had absolutely no problems.  We were very excited, thinking that perhaps we had beaten the odds.  Then right at the halfway point, 20 weeks, I started having problems.  My blood sugars were way out of control and I was requiring up to 5 shots a day.  My endocrinologist put me in the hospital for a week to try to figure out what was going on.  As it turned out, it was nothing that I was doing that caused the problems.  The doctors solution was to put me on an insulin pump.  I really did not want to be hooked up to a pump, but agreed to it - - just until the baby was born.  The pump really helped my blood sugars and I began to carry on normally again - - for about three weeks.  Then, I started having some pretty severe swelling.  The perinatologist put me on bed rest at home.  That worked okay, but I really kind of thought that it meant no work - not no shopping.  The swelling and weight gain became extreme.  Head aches developed too. He ended putting me on bed rest in the hospital until the baby was born, which was still 7 weeks away.  I had developed pretty severe pre eclampsia / toxemia.  In the hospital, I was only allowed to get up to use the restroom and to shower every other day.  I got visitors on the weekends, but the weeks got long.  On Christmas eve, Gary and our good friend Kevin came to visit. Kevin gave me a CD of Simon and Garfunkel's greatest hits.  I played it all night long.   Gary was going to spend the night so we could be together on Christmas day.  We had gotten permission to go out for Christmas dinner.  We went straight to the restaurant to eat and then we went right back to the hospital so I could get to bed.  Gary stayed for a little while longer and then left to go home because he had another work week ahead of him. 

Then next morning at 8:00, my water broke.  At first, I didn't understand what was happened and then it hit me - - oh my gosh, I'm going to go into labor.  This baby was going to be born 3 weeks early.  I decided to wait to call Gary until he was on his lunch break.  When I called him, I told him that my water had broken and that he should probably start on his way to the hospital (2 hours from home) because I didn't know when the labor was going to start and how quickly it was going to go.  Gary's only response was, "Can I eat my lunch first?"  I laughed at him and told him to eat quickly and get on the road.  He said OK and hung up.  I called his friend Kevin and asked him to check on Gary cuz I just didn't think Gary was realizing what was going on or was in the phase of "oh my gosh, I'm gonna be a dad". Kevin later told us that when he found Gary, he was running around the house all scatter brained, so it was probably a good thing that I called him.

Gary got to the hospital around 3pm.  Then it just became a waiting game.  I was hooked up to the baby monitor and the baby was doing fine.  My labor was progressing, but very, very, slowly.  I was given a sleeping pill to try to get me through the night.  The pill worked until about 1am, and then I woke up in pain.  Somewhere between 1am and  7am I was given an epidural and then at 7am the doctor told me that I was fully dilated and was ready to push.  I pushed and I  pushed and I pushed for over 3 hours.  Finally the doctor told me that they were going to try the forceps and if that didn't work we were going to go to the operating room for a c-section.

The forceps failed and away we went.  At 11:02 am, our big, beautiful baby boy was born.  At 3 weeks early, he weighted 10 pounds 2 ounces and was 22 inches long.  I got to touch his foot and then he was whisked away because he was having some problems.  They had taken him to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  Evidently, he was having some troubles breathing.

When I was sewn back together, they took me back to my room and told me that I needed to rest because I had been up all night and because of the surgery.  They told me that we could not see our baby for a little while anyway, so rest was a good option.  We both slept for nearly 3 hours before we woke up.  We called our parents to let them know the baby had been born, then Gary went to the NICU to see the baby.  We had a video camera with us, so Gary would video the baby and then bring it back to the room so I could see the baby.  This went on for most of the day.  I was so sad because I wanted to hold my baby.  At 9pm, my nurse came into my room and asked me if I would like to go see my baby.  I was still not allowed out of the bed, so I wasn't sure how they were gonna do it, but of course I said yes.  Within a matter of minutes, they wheeled me in my bed right up to my baby's bed and I got to hold him for the first time.  I was so happy.

I had to stay in my bed one more day.  Then I got to use a wheelchair, and finally I got to start walking again.  After four days, I was dismissed from the hospital, but my baby was not.  One of the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life was to leave that hospital without my baby.  I cried myself to sleep on the way home, made many calls to the hospital to check on him, cried myself to sleep that night, slept fitfully and cried every time I woke up.  We decided to go back to the hospital and stay there until our baby got to go home.  The hospital set us up in the Ronald McDonald House.  After spending just two nights there, we got to take our baby home.  I was so happy!

For not wanting any children, I sure changed my song.  I couldn't believe the love I felt for him and how strong my desire was to protect him.  I was embracing motherhood quickly and wondered what kind if ride I was in for.  

Today, Chance, our baby boy, is almost 14 years old.  It has been quite the ride with him.  He challenges me daily and sometimes drives me crazy, however, I couldn't imagine my life without him.  I am glad that even the best thought out plans can change without notice! 

Friday, November 12, 2010


Hazel is a beautiful young woman in her 20s from the U.K. Her singing voice is incredible!  I liken her to Amy Lee of Evanescense.   I had the pleasure of spending two amazing evenings with her in October. The first night was just a chance encounter.  The next night, I specifically planned to see her, along with my plans to see Dinesh and Ildiko.  I thought there was going to be a third night, but it wasn't to be. Sadly, I  never saw Hazel again in October, and the reality is that I will never see her again!  You see, Hazel is a singer on a ship.  She is part of a group called the Fantasy Band that played aboard a ship called the Carnival Fantasy.  I fell in love with her voice the moment I heard it!

You may be (or may be not) wondering why is my blog page named after Hazel?  It is kind of a funny little story. 

Earlier this week, my best friend, Faith and I were emailing back and forth, like we do almost daily.  Faith had shared with me that she was thinking of starting a blog and was trying to come up with a name for her blog site.  The first one she had thought of was Gemini Mind.  She googled that name and came across a site that listed some characterisitcs of persons who fall under the Gemini zodiac sign.  She sent them to me and asked if I thought that the descriptions sounded like her.  I emailed her back, and responded to each characteristic individually within the text that she had sent me.  A few emails later she found the same thing for my sign, Taurus, and sent them to me.  I responded to her email the same way that I had responded to her Gemini traits.  Behind each characteristic, I made some sort of silly comment as to whether or not I agreed with the characteristic.  One of the characteristics that was listed was a great signing ability.  My comment back to that one was, "I'm not Hazel".  Faith was on that cruise ship with me and knew exactly what I was referring to.  Her response to that comment was that it would be a good blog name if I ever considered blogging. 

Up to that point, I had never really thought about blogging. I follow a couple of my friends blogs, but never really considered becoming an owner/author of one.  A day or two later, Faith got hers up and going.  I read it and thought that just maybe I could do it too.  So, very impulsively, I set one up and here I am.  I dont really know if this is my thing, or if I will stay commited to it, or if I will be good at it or interesting enough, but I'm gonna try it and see.  I won't know if I don't try it.

So there you have it . . . how I began to blog and how I came up with the name.