19 May, 2007

Argh, matey

I was told that today in honor of the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, Disneyland is closed for a special party that starts with a red carpet at the entrance all the way to Frontierland. This was from the hospice RN whose birthday it is today. I was actually glad to have that bit of trivia so that when I walked with my aunt Sunny and we went to the French Quarter in West Hollywood for brunch, I understood why the children and people on the street found my aunt's eye patch so endearing.

This morning, I met with Mom's physician (who blessedly and ahem conicidentally when the hospice RN was there) and we discussed the prognosis. It was as I had expected --that Mom is not going to get better; nor will she return to her apartment. The doctors and the hospice nurse all felt that this was the strongest and most loving course of action. I think we managed to communicate this to Mom. At the very least, Mom understood that she would not have to go back and forth to the hospital anymore and that hospice would manage her pain. When the doctor asked Mom if this hospice plan (frankly,
I don't think Mom would have known what hospice was even before she fell ill) she looked befuddled, so we reframed the questions till we felt she did understand what we were suggesting and she agreed.

Argh matey.

Then I spent another hour filling out forms, answering questions and putting things in place. At which point, my aunt showed up to meet me for lunch --patch and all-- and startled the nurse. A lovely Monty Python moment to be sure.

Oh and speaking of pythons--while I was waiting for the hospice nurse this morning, I sat at the bedside in an attempt to meditate as a proactive course of action. It was a trifle difficult to do because the televison that was on in the room for Mom's roommate was on the Animal Planet channel. Normally, I think I would like that. However, this morning, I learned more about how an anaconda preys (versus the praying I was wanting to do) and how it digests it's catch. Ewwwwwwww

When do I get to say the hard part is over? Now I have to tell the landlord and the tenants and manage to close up and move out of mom's apartment. ARGH. I was doing so well about not moving. I guess this is an improvement as it is not me that is moving. But somewhere in my DNA must be a cardboard gene. Can one have PTSD from the sounds of packing tape and moving too much? Not to mention, allowing for Mom's timing to depart. No wonder I feel kinda weary. No wonder that when I saw my reflection in the store windows today I was taken aback by the less than attractive image I saw.

And yet, having spent more time lately with elders particularly ones who are not healthy or mobile, I have had a renewed appreciaiton of my body. I see how The Body seems to - dare I say it? - betray us as we age. I wondered how many of the physical ailments and manifestations that landed these elderly people in the hospital or nursing care homes, were a result of more than just reckless living or ignorant eating. What if our bodies carry all that stress, judgment, criticism, etc. up to a point and then just flat out rebels? Is that some of what goes on when the body begins to decline? Oh, how I wanted to hug myself, my body and apologize for all the harshness I have levelled at it over my lifetime. Why haven't I lavished it with praise, beauty and goodness instead? I am beginning to see how this all works; and it makes me want to open HeartSpace all the more. I am eager to get back to regular exercise and my Egoscue series, too. And I think I shall be a bit more kind to myself with my inner dialogue. Our bodies are tremedous allies and I want to stay at peace with them.

On the walk back, I saw those flyers on the telephoe posts and I had to read a bit more. What is a perfume margarita? The person with the used rubber fist for sale had too many at the Pink Taco... and the forlorn soul who lost their heart between L.A. and Venice said he/she needs their heart back as it might be broken. Part of me wanted to call them to offer a kind word; but my cyncial L.A. mood advised against it incase it was a come-on for other reasons.

On my return walk, more of the stores on Fairfax were open since it was so much later. I passed one of the eclectic art stores I had stopped at yesterday when it was closed. And I thought back to how I had categorized my behavior as denial. This time, I got a different insight. My pausing at the art store or the pet store (called Barks n' BItches and they are celebrating their one year in business today) was not a form of denial--actually, it was a form of Self-preservation. I capitalized that 's' in self on purpose. Because when I stopped at these stores, my energy changed. I began to soften and smile and return to my general state of well-being. These stores (their contents) brought me closer to my joy state. Once I returned to that, I was walking differently, thinking differently, and certainly, feeling a helluva lot better. I began to look at where the glass was half-full in all of this for Mom. I moved back to present time instead of futurizing about all the stuff that might be ahead of me to do.
I began to notice the people and things around me. I looked down at my hand and saw how the sun caught my engagement ring and it sparkled. I jiggled my hand and did it again because that tiny act brought me pleasure. Thank you and Praise the Law.

Much of what "The Secret" and the Law of Attraction have been buzzing about it exactly that--especially with Abraham-Hicks. Think on things that feel good; make you smile, keep you in the moment and your life will be better for it. Often times, that has sounded simplistic. This ordeal with my mother has given me a new insight to all that. If I can shift during this difficult emotional ordeal, I certainly must be able to do so during the everyday opportunities, right? Right.

Shiver me timbers, by George I think I've got it.
AHOY, land ahead.

18 May, 2007

And that's the way it is . . .

Whoda thunk that Walter Cronkite's signature closing line would be so new-thought, so ahead of it's time? I enjoyed watching the special on CBS tonight chronicling Cronkite' amazing broadcast career. I think he would have been a wonderful presidential candidate if he had been willing to give up journalism.

Well, the way it is for me is surreal.
I am in Los Angeles tonight. I rented a car--a spunky little Saturn Ion-- I drove up to see my Mother in an attempt to explain to her that we are beginning the process of Hospice for her tomorrow. My mom's health took a downward turn on Sunday and has continued to decline. Therefore, this week, I had to I had to cancel my trip to Taos for the UCORS Convocation. As difficult as that choice was, it freed me up to look at some hard facts and then take it to prayer to do some deep inner work. I also reached out for prayer and some professional advice (thank you). My decision prompted by the doctor's medical assessment, sent me into a process of inquiry that most of us do not have to address. I think the process was integral to getting onto the other side, so I could be clear, compassionate and courageous enough to agree to hospice for a person I love--and to do it long distance. Hence, my need to return to L.A. again so quickly. Tomorrow, the Hospice counselor meets us at the nursing home to guide us through the next phases.

Before walking to the nursing home tonight, I did some prayers (that felt flat) and then took a brief nap. I tapped into the witness mode I used to use so intensely as an actress, as I observed how I was feelng and moving through each step. I noticed that I was in a bit of denial as I walked into a few local stores to browse on the way. As numb as I felt, I was also keenly aware of the world around me. People watching, looking at the most minute of details. There was an interesting flyer on a telephone pole that caught my eye: "Lost My Heart"-- the flyer went on to say that this person lost his/her heart and wondered if you found it to please send an e-mail to ____.It seemed genuine and naive. A few blocks later, there was another flyer on phone poles at the corner of Fairfax and Melrose with the big, bold print "Used Rubber Fist For Sale". As curious as I was, I did not want to read the fine print on this flyer, nor did I take one of the little tear-offs with a phone number.

Once I got to Mom's room, any fear, concern or guilt about my decision was gone. Mom was less than lucid but at least she still recognized me. It was difficult to see her so feeble. I tried to show her a photo of where the wedding will be and tell her aobut my dress but it only confused her. All she wanted to do was sleep and told me she could not talk to me right now. I knew I had to tell her what was going to happen before I could leave. I had to modify my lanuage and use simple words and ideas and it still was troublesome for her. I brushed her hair and stroked her head. She kept falling asleep during sentences, so I decided to pray anyway. She popped awake to ask if she could go home. I told her that no, she was too sick to go back to her apartment. "What if I could get better?" No, Mom, we've tried that but your body has different plans. Mom, we're on the home stretch. You can get ready to go home to God now. Once again, she fell asleep. So I kissed her goodnight and told her that I would be back bright and early tomorrow.

Perhaps she will be more alert in the morning. And I am counting on the Hospice rep to be so skilled in all this and I will follow her lead. I am praying for clear guidance and peace of mind.

A walking void, I stopped at Genghis Cohen for some take-out chinese food. I ordered vegetable lo mein--which turned out to be very lo on the veggies, although quite tasty. My body felt heavy and tired. I found comfort in turning on the baseball game--the Dodgers vs. the Angels. I didn't watch the game, I listened to the soothing, dulcet tones of Vin Scully. Ah, nothing like it. I have grown quite fond of Mudd and Matt for the Padres but it takes two of them to call a game and they still miss most of the plays. Yet, Vin Scully does it all by himself with such panache.

Even with scads of things to tend to here at Mom's apartment, I did not have what it takes to do work in starting to pack up and clear out her apartment. I have yet to call the landlord to tell them; nor the tenants. After all, tomorrow is another day.
And...that's the way it is. Good night.

14 May, 2007

The Ides of May

Is there such a thing?
Here we are at the half-way point of the month.

I was supposed to be in Taos, New Mexico this week. An expected emergency trip back to L.A. for my mother changed that.

Beginning with a 7:30 a.m phone call on Sunday with information about my mother's health, that sent me into immediate prayer. I knew that I needed to go up there and my beloved agreed to drive us when he returned from church. It was a long trip because (pun intended) everyone and their mother was on the freeway.

When I arrived at the nursing home, I found Mom's bed stripped and empty. A very brief wash of fear and I quickly pulled myself together because I knew it was not as drmatic as it seemed. At the nurse's station they told me that Mom was sent to the ER at the hospital. Funny that news like that was suddenly welcomed.

Knowing how these things work, I knew that we had time to get our bearings and visit my aunt. I teach that people need to engage in self-care particularly in times of duress. We had not eaten lunch, so having dinner seemed a wise plan. Then we drove over to the ER. Although Mom had been there for hours, I was not allowed to see her right away. I asked Don to wait till I could be sure Mom was presentable and comfortable seeing him at this time. Forty minutes later, I got to see my mom. There are many things about the medical community that frustrate me.

Her illness or current state is not significant to share for this story, so I am skipping details. I was relieved that she was able to recognize me and knew I was there, but little else. Unfortunately, she was not allowed to have food or water and that was hard on her. I got a nurse to get her a warm blanket because she was so cold. (Another one of those frustrating parts--I know the ER is busy, but things like a blanket for a frail, elderly patient seems pretty basic). I could tell she needed to talk even if it wasn't very lucid. Finally, I just told her that it was fine if she wanted to keep talking but I was going to pray. Soon after I began to pray,she grew quiet so I opened my eyes and saw that she had closed her eyes and was resting. Her countenance was so peaceful, I stretched out the prayer for a long time to let her rest. I made sure the prayer was more Christian in my choice of words to afford her sound-bytes of familiar comfort.

Once I knew her vitals were stable and they were going to admit her to the hospital upstairs, I told her Don was waiting outside (she didn't want him to see her like this) and we were going to head back to San Diego. She wasn't even sure what day it was and didn't even realize I had sent her roses and candy to the nursing home for Mother's Day.

Don knew what to do for me next and we went to Starbucks for a nice hot beverage and time to discuss if we should stay overnight or head home. We had the nicest young man behind the counter. He was very friendly. He asked how I was doing on this Mother's Day and I actually told him. He "heard" me and offered sympathies and a positive reminder. After we got our drinks and sat down, he motioned for me to come over to the counter. He said sharing food makes him happy so he wanted to offer us a complimentary bakery item. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Don and I shared the delicious (no trans-fat) zuchinni walnut loaf slice. Don gave him a generous tip and thanked him for being so kind to me. Before I left, I took off my white vinyl ONE bracelet to give to him. He knew about the ONE organization and was very happy to wear it. We hugged. I felt it was appropriate because I was feeling a sense of Oneness myself. I only wish I had had the presence of mind to get his name and acknowledge his customer service to his supervisor.

We got home about midnight because of road improvements that had the freeway down to two lanes once we got into San Diego county. On Monday, I shipped out the two boxes of things that I was going to bring to the Minister's Convocation this week. It was disappointing to have to call my fellow Cabinet members to explain my situation. The Board gave me their blessings to miss the conference and of course, their prayers and support. This event was the culmination of my three-years of serving on UCORS. I have so enjoyed this level of service and the wonderful camaraderie I have shared with my colleagues. I regret I won't be there to share passing the torch.

Today, my body is still weary yet I making strides taking care of business for my Mom. I can tell that I am doing my grieving in advance. I sense that by dealing with the writing on the wall, I am going to be making room to be clearer when the actual time comes and I have to close out her life in Los Angeles. There is more than I am going to write about all this, but I don't want to be making people sad or uncomfortable on the blog.

So, I will make note that while I am typing there is the sweetest little baby bird outside my window making quite a consistent racket. He/she is chirping away incessantly at the glory of his/her own sound in celebration of being alive.


Nap time.

City Slackers

No, I did not misspell the title of this post. Yes, I was playing off of the comedy film title, "City Slickers" about a bunch of...