Thursday, May 29, 2014

Today Was the Hardest

We lost my darling dad on Sunday, the day I arrived. I sat with him for a while and told him how much I loved him, how grateful I am, and some of the things I'll remember about him. The funeral home came and got him shortly thereafter, and I kissed him goodbye. My mom's sister, my beloved Aunt Nasty, was here, plus all of her kids, and we drank margaritas and beer and told family stories and laughed and cried together.

Since then, I've been helping Mom with all sorts of random things (turning the compost heap, figuring out how the DVD player works [Husband is now laughing, imagining this, as the only person who knows less than Mom how a DVD player works is me], cleaning out cupboards). I also got sick right away, some sort of upper respiratory tract thing plus a raging yeast infection, and coupled with jet lag and grief, I felt like crap for the first three days. But I muscled through, crossing items off a never-ending list.

Today we planned nine errands for the morning, one of which was purchasing giant cinnamon rolls made by a nice Amish family. Mom said, "I guess we don't have to get the cinnamon rolls . . ." and I said, "Listen, after running all those errands, we will have cinnamon rolls, also mimosas." (We cleaned out the wine, champagne, and beer cupboards last night. Yes, there's a champagne cupboard. My parents' house is AWESOME. And they're also kinda hoarders.)

However. One of our errands was stopping by the funeral home to drop off some clothes for Dad and give him the notes we'd written to tuck in his pocket. (Isn't that a nice idea?) The sweetie-pie funeral director told us that the cremation would happen this afternoon. We came home, and I finished editing his obituary and printed it . . . and then cried and cried. It is a freaking obituary. For my FATHER. Too too too sad.

And then a gorgeous package arrived from Boston, sent from Good Neighbor Anne and the Sleek Suburban Moms, full of delicious breakfast goods (so cool!!!!) and a lovely note, and that made my mom bawl. And then the mail came, and my dear friend J sent a card that made all of us bawl. (Our old friend B.B. stopped by and was having a mimosa with us; she had to pull out a handkerchief.) And knowing that the cremation was happening, that even though his soul has been gone for daysthese were the last moments of his body on this earth . . . it was just really, really hard.

We decided to get all the suck over with at once, so now we're going through boxes and albums of pictures, choosing ones for the memorial video. It's actually the funnest job she's assigned me so far, but it is a total sobfest. We lit candles, put "The Sammy Cahn Songbook" on the CD player, and are drinking our mimosas. 

I'm glad I'm here for my mom, but I HATE ALL OF THIS SO MUCH. Dad needs to stop being dead now and come back, because this freaking sucks. 

There's more to say, of course, but I need to get back to the photos. I just wanted to tell everyone the latest.

His passing was incredibly peaceful. He was a class act to the very end.

I cannot wrap my head around the idea of a world without Dad in it.

Thank you all so much for being there.

xox Lady C

Saturday, May 24, 2014

It's Happening Fast

Dad is dying, literally, right now. Rather than five months, which was his prognosis, we've barely had five weeks. I was due to get home on Wednesday, and Mom told me not to change my plane ticket, but I thought, no, if I have a chance to say goodbye to him (even though he's barely there at this point), I would like to. So I have a new ticket for 7 a.m. tomorrow, and Priceline kindly canceled my original rental car reservation (which is amazing; they are very stern about "Unchangeable! Unbreakable! Irrevocable!" But I told the guy my dad was dying, and he could hear the tears in my voice, and he was just so kind).

I called Mom back and told her I'd be there tomorrow, and I could hear the relief in her voice. She's been so brave, and she has lots of people with her now, but she wants her girl.

Youngest brother and I have patched things up; he's still an ass, but I'm trying hard to cut  him some slack.

Other brother, in contrast, packed up his wife and son to go to Wisconsin for Memorial Day weekend to see the other grandparents.

I am LIVID. What is he thinking???????

But I will try to let go. I believe we're all doing the best we can, and his best is simply limp and crappy, that's all. He will have to live with it.

I had a long talk with my dear old friend J last night, who lost her sweet dad a few years ago, and she really helped me wrap my mind around it all. I never wanted this day to come, never, never — but there's nothing I can do about it. Dad had a good life, he was a great guy, beloved far and wide, and he and I have a wonderful relationship. Probably I will have more to say about this, but that's what I'm thinking about right now. I don't need to see him, there is no unfinished business between us — I would just like to. Mom held the phone to his (unresponsive) ear, and I said, "Daddy, it's Lady — please hang on till tomorrow, because I would like to see you and give you a hug and kiss."

But it's out of my hands, and I know this.

I can't wait to be home.
xox Lady C

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I Thought It Was This, But Then This Happened, and Now I Have No Idea

(This cartoon reminds me of how the nice people at my church talks to the jerks in the Disgruntled Group. Time for them to embrace my new attitude of "Shut. Up!" if you ask me.)

Since Mothers Day, I've been trying to grab a spare minute to catch up my blog and tell you about the wonderful happening.

And then I had a really weird Tuesday.

And then Mom called on Wednesday, not happy.

And in the midst of all this, Mrs. Cynicletary revealed herself as a crazy-accurate soothsayer and future-seer, which has colored my whole week.

And tomorrow is the church election; I've switched from Dad dreams to election-focused dreams. (Though I'm not the only one having weird night-time adventures; I've been watching the first season of The West Wing to unwind, and this morning Husband said, "I dreamed that I was in bed with President Bartlett, and man was he a cover hog.")

And I haven't heard anything from the not-editing-job people, which makes me think I didn't get their boring job. Kind of depressing when you can't even attract a boring job! Maybe I dazzled them so much, they knew I'd never be satisfied with their monkey work. Maybe.

In any event, that was the week that was. Care to learn more? Read on!

The Wonderful Happening

I called Mom on Mothers Day and asked, "How did Dad's shower go?" (The home health aide came on Saturday to shower him.) She said, "I'll let him tell you himself." Then I hear Dad: "I was in the shower with another woman! Swathed in rubber!"
  • Me: Was it . . . hot? It sounds wicked hot.
  • Dad: She was 5'1" — from top to bottom and around.
  • Me: Hot.
  • Dad: Yeah.
  • Me: Wait a minute — I need you to back way up, because I'm picturing you sitting in your chair, arms crossed, stomping your feet, yelling, "I don't want to take a shower!"
  • Dad: That's how it was, except I was on the bed.
  • Me: So, I still don't quite get it. You can stand and walk by yourself, right?
  • Dad: Of course I can stand and walk by myself.
  • Me: And you can move your arms?
  • Dad: Yes.
  • Me: So . . . why do you need someone to help you take a shower?
  • Dad: Because I don't need a shower. I haven't done anything! I haven't worked up a sweat!
  • Me: Ah . . . But Dad, you know there's such a thing as old man smell, right?
  • Dad: Hmph.
  • Me: And Mom can't smell you
  • Dad: Hmph.
  • Me: You don't want old man smell, Dad. Maybe the home health aide could just come smell you twice a week.
  • Dad: That would be fine.
The conversation was fast-paced, funny, and energetic. We went from old-man smell to gay football players, concussions, children's sports, why my brothers didn't play football, the free wine I got at Macaroni Grill, and how he and Mom were celebrating Mothers Day. I've been encouraging my mom to nurture herself, and one of her gifts from me was a bottle of Meritage wine and some Ghiradelli dark chocolates, which, according to Good Housekeeping, are a perfect taste pairing, and I instructed her not to put the wine in the wine cupboard but to crack it open and drink it right then.
  • Dad: We're going to have a small glass of your wine before dinner, and then we'll drink it with the lamb steaks we're having.
  • Me: Sounds delicious.
  • Dad: Your mother said we might have a margarita before dinner, and I said no, we don't need to get tanked up on Mothers Day.
  • Me: Uh — what day do you need to get tanked up on?
  • Dad: Well, we're waiting for you to come home.
Laugh, I thought I'd die.

He finally handed the phone to Mom, and I said to her, "Best Mothers Day present ever." I was so happy. He was 96 percent his usual self, just a tiny shade slower, and it was 100 percent awesome.

Happy happy happy!

My Really Weird Tuesday

I had an 11:15 appointment with my dermatologist and tickets for a 7 p.m. book event, and both things were happening in Wellesley, a town that's only about a half-hour drive away, but the road to and from is heavily trafficked during rush hour. Was this not a sign from God that I'm supposed to spend the day in Wellesley? I interpreted it as such — especially since I'd done an 11-hour editing job the day before, and I had nothing else I needed to do that day. So off I went, prepared for a lovely day.

Except that I had a terrible migraine. And my dermatologist tells me that my cuticles, despite my pathetically best efforts not to pick, are still swollen and inflamed. (Though, she says, if this is my very worst habit, and it's perhaps keeping me from another habit, like pulling out my own hair, she gives me full permission to be a cuticle-picker. She was so sweet and loving, it almost made me weep — and I redoubled my determination to quit this terrible habit once and for all.)

(I have only been semi-successful. It's been a tough week.)

I got lost trying to find the Wellesley Library and instead ended up in Framingham, so I decided to have lunch at Ken's (restaurant home of the famous salad dressing line). I have a fondness for this terrible place, because it reminds me so much of my grandparents, even though they never stepped foot in it. The first time I went to Ken's, you could order Oysters Rockefeller, Clams Casino, Baked Alaska! I drank a Manhattan in the dark, wood-paneled dining room and felt purely happy. But they've changed the menu and nothing on it is particularly good; you'd think I would get this through my head.

I was starving and headachey, so I ordered a diet cola, a small cup of cream of spinach soup, a small side Caesar, and a turkey club sandwich, which came with homemade potato chips. While I agree that this is a large-ish lunch, I don't think it's beyond the pale — and certainly no reason for my server, a large-ish women, herself, to raise her eyebrows.
  • Me: I'm very hungry.
  • Her: Well, I guess!

After lunch, I shopped for two of my bestys who have birthdays coming up, and hung out at the library (which is gorgeous), and felt worse and worse as the day wore on. My crappy lunch wasn't sitting well with me, my head hurt, I was weary.

And yet — I was about to meet Molly Wizenberg of the Orangette blog, someone whose writing I adore and with whom I share a dear friend, Miss Laurie A-B of Washington State. I just knew that when I met Molly and shared our connection, we would become bonded bestys right away, and she'd likely invite me out for espresso and sweetys post-reading. It would be the start of a beautiful friendship, for sure, but it would only happen if I were there.

I got to the event early, and the nice bookstore guy sent me to a restaurant down the street. I cannot wait to return to this restaurant, because ohmygoodness yum. And I need to go when I can fully appreciate it, not when I'm headachy and overfull of a crappy Ken's lunch. But I ordered a glass of Prosecco and three "little plates" — roasted garlicky mushrooms, roasted golden beets with Parmesan, and spicy broccolini — and I told my server I'd just have that and dessert, and I clapped my hands when she brought my drink, and she laughed in delight.

And then I proceeded to eat one bite of everything and realized that I was quite sick indeed. No more bites, no dessert, no guarantee that I would not in fact throw up on my new best friend Molly Wizenburg of the Orangette blog.

My sweet server seemed distressed by my distress; she quickly boxed up everything for me and then said, "Don't go," so I waited . . . and she brought me a dessert in a bag. "I knew you wanted this," she said, "and I hated the fact that you wouldn't have it. I guessed 'chocolate tart,' is that okay?"

How completely sweet is that? (I ate the tart the next day, and it was hella good.)

So, okay, things are looking up, and I sailed off to meet my new best friend.

After all this build-up, I think you can probably guess the ending of the story, right? Molly Wizenberg of the Orangette blog is adorable and fun and a great speaker; I enjoyed her presentation thoroughly; she patiently signed 10 million books; I was at the end of a very long line (because I had to thoroughly inspect the roomful of used books for sale) and I'm sure she was exhausted; I chirped, "We share a friend!" and she cried, "Oh, Laurie A-B is so lovely!" . . . and she signed my book and handed it back to me.

And then I drove home, blasting cool air on my fevered face, with exactly the same number of best friends that I started with (which, I suppose, was also true of Molly Wizenburg of the Orangette blog).

I could do a tally of good things/bad things at day's end (did I mention that I cried a little when I couldn't find the library? I also passed my doctor's office and couldn't turn around on Route 9 for several miles, and I cried a little then too, also swore), but I think the word "weird" pretty much sums it up.

Unhappy Mom Wednesday

Mom called, first thing in the morning.
  • Mom: He's completely turned around. He's up all night, he sleeps all day.
  • Me: He's a vampire?
  • Mom: I don't want to scare you, but I think it's happening faster than we thought.
While this does sound alarming, it's also very Mom — she is quick to go to the dark place. But I'll be there in just over a week, thank God, and I'll see for myself.

Mrs. Cynicletary Predicts My Future
  • Me: I haven't had a period since January. I think Tam has brought on the menopause. I think I can get rid of my tampons.
  • Mrs. C: Or, there's a tsunami coming.
I'll leave it at that.

(But this explains the migraine I've had pretty much all week.)

Chore Day!

On today's docket: sort the children's warm/cold weather clothes, eradicate crumbs from my kitchen counters and kill ants, and shop at Trader Joe's. Tonight we're seeing The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged, which will be tons o' fun, and at the moment my head feels okay, which is something to hugely celebrate.

Off I go to do just that.

— Lady C

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Finally. Finally!!!

I didn't sleep well last night. I've dreamed about Dad pretty much every night since his diagnosis, and last night's dream was especially unsettling: Dad was asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding his beliefs about the afterlife, something we really don't talk about at my parents' house.

It wasn't a bad dream, per se, just unsettling.

In any event, I woke up quite early, cranky and out of sorts, and headed downstairs around 6:30 a.m. to do some church work — which, in case my recent posts haven't made clear, is consuming WAY too much space in my brain this week. The election is in one more week, this too shall pass. But I am heartily sick of the people I've christened the Disgruntled Group; trying to anticipate and be ready for whatever they might do to upset my carefully constructed apple cart is making me stressed and jumpy. I just want to YELL and SWEAR at them!!! which of course isn't churchly at all. (As my buddy Big Bad John says, "This Hatfield and McCoy culture just has to stop.")

But this is pretty much my mindset:

I had idly considered attending a free zumba class this morning taught by my new teacher Sweet Shy Jeny, but by the time Husband came downstairs I was already on my last nerve; "I don't think I can go to zumba, it's only 9:45 and I'm exhausted," I said. To my shock and horror, I started to cry a little.

And then it hit me: These are exactly the times that I should go to zumba. I am completely strung out by stress and grief, and while I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping it at bay most of the time, it hits me at the darndest times. Exercise is my best coping mechanism.

So I went, and it was great. Finally, finally, I feel back in my zumba groove, even though I still can't do everything. But I worked up a great sweat and got that glowy endorphin feeling, and I was so happy afterward!

I talked to Dad yesterday, for the first time in quite a while. He sounds good, just tired, but it was an awkward conversation because all I could think to ask was how he was feeling, and he didn't want to dwell on that. It will be unspeakably good to see him soon.

In other news, Husband accidentally bought an extra gallon of milk, thinking it was soy milk, which Mimosa drinks (it is not), so we have a fridge stuffed full of milk, and I decided to make flan to go with our dinner tacos. Picture me stirring a hot pan full of sugar water, trying to get it to turn into a dark-amber syrup . . . but instead it became rock candy. I dutifully added more water, then more sugar, and kept trying . . . and got rock candy again. I finally gave up and dumped rock candy into the bottom of the custard pan, then poured hot eggy milk on top. Maybe it will be like creme brulee, I dunno.

My house is clean but I am not. Time to take a shower, paint my nails, drink a glass of wine, and make a few more church calls. This will all be over soon. Soon, soon, soon. This is my mantra.

I am so hoping that my zumba groove wasn't a fluke and that I'm finally back where I belong. I'll keep you posted!

— Lady C, dancing queen

Thursday, May 8, 2014

60 Months from Now . . .

I've lost half a pound since my last weigh-in, and FatSecret says it will take 60 months (5 years) to reach my goal weight. In five years, I'll no longer be taking Tamoxifen. Will I still have a dad? Will I still have a mom? Will my mom be living with me, will I ever go to California again?? I can't wrap my head around any of this, so I don't.

Here's the headline news:
  • I had a job interview on Monday for what was billed as a "Medical Editor." It's not actually editing, though; it's what I call "monkey work" — finding citations in a long, long medical document and physically linking them to the original article in the vast, vast database. It will be dullsville personified, but the money is okay (almost half my editing rate but almost double my subbing rate), it's only 10 minutes from my house (and across the street from a nice library); if they offer it to me, I'll probably take it. I should know soon.
  • I haven't actually talked to Dad since the scary Brian Piccolo phone call a week or so ago, but I talk to Mom all the time, and she says he's doing really well; he just sleeps a lot during the day (and wanders the house at night — which might sound freaky, but it's simply an exaggerated version of what's been his routine for years). I think he finishes his radiation treatment this week, and Mom's biggest question is, when he can go off steroids, which seems to be causing the worst side effects (or the need for other drugs, like insulin, with the worst side effects).
  • They've got a home health nurse twice a week, who will help give my dad a shower and help Mom change their massive king-size bed (Mom has the strength of a kitten, I think I've mentioned; she does aqua aerobics, so she gets cardio, but she does nothing weight-related despite my gentle nagging). 
A snippet of dialogue:
  • Me: Can Dad really not take a shower by himself?
  • Mom: He gave himself a sponge bath before seeing the radiologist on Monday.
  • Me: Um . . . okay. Does he smell bad?
  • Mom: Honey, I can't smell anything. [side effect of her Parkinson's]
  • Me: So — sorry, I'm still not getting it. Why won't he take a shower?
  • Mom: He's very cold.
  • Me: So he's afraid the shower will be too cold?
  • Mom: I think that's it.
  • Me: What's the nurse going to do about that?
  • Mom (sweetly): That is their problem.
I'll be there in two and a half weeks. Of course I wish I were there right this minute. At the same time, I've been whirling around on my hamster treadmill and am glad I'm here to deal with all my own life stuff. And I just found out that I'll be missing the Credo Service with my OWL kids, one of the most beautiful church services of the year, because I'll be in California. Of course I'd rather be with my dad . . . but there's always something. When you lead a full, rich, busy life, you are tugged in many directions, all the time. C'est la vie.

More news:
  • My youngest brother hasn't responded to my loving suggestion that he develop a better attitude. I haven't heard from the other brother at all, though Mom mentioned that he called to tell her all about his five-year-old son's summer plans, including a week with his other grandparents, with whom he spends every major holiday (brother lives in Minnesota; these grandparents alternate between Wisconsin and Arizona). Mom keeps a stiff upper lip, but every word of this is like a knife to her heart (grandson in question has been to California maybe three times, max), and I want to punch my brother, repeatedly. Can he not hear himself???
  • I've been going to zumba but it hasn't been fun at all. I'm so out of shape, my knee starts hurting right away, and I feel clumsy and old and cloddish. But I keep on keepin' on, because how else will I get back to where I was? Yesterday I had a free-ish morning, so I planned to take a walk — but as I hobbled upstairs to get into my workout clothes, I realized that my knee was hurting again; I'm too scared to walk far away from house for fear that I'll really hurt something and then have no way to get back. So instead I lifted my weights, did my core work, did all my physical therapy (shoulders and knees — I am so crippled!), and stretched, and that was great — but still. I can't shake the feeling of "failure" (or "permanently crippled old lady," for that matter).
  • Remember when I mentioned back in December that the Music Director at my church had been asked to resign? There was an immediate backlash, and ripples from that event continue to madly swirl and color much of my church life. My committee, which is preparing a slate of officers and standing committee members for our Annual Meeting next week, has been dealing with the fallout from this event, as lots of people are running with An Agenda and some are running with a Secret Agenda. I'm spending an hour a day on this, it has been crazy (though interesting, I will admit).
There's more going on, but I think that's all I want to write about right now.

Yesterday I had a soul-restoring lunch with my elderly friend Mrs. Professor, and I told the server that I would like a glass of Chardonnay and a glass of wine. She did a double take, and then I realized what I'd said and went "Oh! I mean a glass of water." She said, "Oh, I think I know what you want." It was funny.

(Though she then brought me shrimp bruschetta when I'd ordered scallops wrapped in bacon; how do those two things even sound alike? Mimosa points out that both start with "S" and "B," but still.)

(The shrimp bruschetta comprised shrimp, French bread, butter, garlic, finely diced tomatoes, and savory juices. I managed to choke it down.)

(My weight loss for the week had actually been a full pound, but I think I'm carrying half a pound of buttery shrimp effluvia.)

(It was worth it. Damn.)

Today I'm subbing for half a day at Stratton School, where I taught math last year; paying our property tax bill; picking up some items at the library (and possibly sorting "my" section, depending on how much time I have); taking Mimosa to the T station to refill her Charlie Card; writing up my notes for writers group tomorrow; going to zumba, sigh; and calling Mom. I'll ask her what would be a good time to catch Dad awake and alert, because it's been too long since I heard his voice.

My most excellent co-chair Tina is calling me at 9; perhaps I'll dress before then. See, I not only have a five-year plan, I have a next-five-minutes plan.

—Lady Chardonnay the Organized

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Disappointing Decisions, On All Sides

I had a great run with my Baby Boot Camp this week, but come the weekend I collapsed into my comfy green chair with a bottle of cold Chardonnay and a straw and have barely emerged.

Actually, that is such a lie, I have been crazy busy getting things ready for my church's Annual Meeting (which I've been grooming potential leaders for all year), also Mimosa performed twice at Town Hall, also I led a half-hour Brief Briefing at church and got Li'l Martini to and from a birthday party and used my two home-equity credit cards three times each and cleaned my house and did three loads of laundry and talked to Mom every night . . . but I didn't exercise or eat particularly well, and I did in fact empty at least one wine bottle, possibly more.

Here's the sitch: Dad has elected to do radiation only, not chemo. He is weighed down with exhaustion and doesn't feel up to the side effects. He is electing quality over quantity of life.

I am very clear on whose decision this is, and it is one hundred percent not mine. Having said that, I will admit that I am very disappointed; I wish that he would just try it and see how it goes. That's what I would do.

But, and but. I'm relatively young, with young kids; he is 80; he's lived a good, long, full life; he doesn't quite have the same solid tether to this Earth that I do.

And, I'm also clear that this is what he's decided today — today, when he's only had one radiation treatment and still isn't feeling all that great. When he's completed the radiation and is feeling less exhausted, perhaps he'll change his mind.

And, my parents live in California, and guess what's legal in California? I called Mom last night and said, "Get him some ganja! reefer! Mary Jane!" Their down-the-street neighbor is growing a backyard full of it. I'm intrigued by the fact that you don't even have to smoke it!

Well, we'll see. One day at a time continues to be our mantra.

I am just so exhausted. Back to the green chair, I think.

Thank you again for all your kind words and loving support.

Lady C

p.s. Here's an example of how awesome my friends are. One of the Sleek Suburban Moms is heading up Teacher Appreciation at the middle school and put out a call for desserts, and I signed up to bring caramel-cashew bars. She immediately e-mailed me:
Ms. Lady . . . I hereby absolve you of any obligation to bake a damn thing!* You got other stuff going on, darlin'.
* unless you find it therapeutic!
I wrote back:
I have done almost exactly nothing for Ottoson, and it will make me so happy to do this. But I'm bringing it to your house the night before, because I'm subbing the next day. I am a SUBBING DEMON.

The thing I'm absolving myself from is helping with the POPS concert this weekend. I will be the princess girl who sits and eats dessert plated by others and says, "My dad has cancer! I'm not moving a single chair! Bring me another grape!"

Thank you, though, for your loving care. I appreciate it so much!
Her response:

My friends are the best!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Trying to Be Zen. Trying. Trying (Also, Baby Boot Camp, Days 3–5)

Oh, man, yesterday was hard. Everything pissed me off, I was completely exhausted, and I now realize that I forgot to call Mom; Dad met with the chemo doc yesterday (he saw the radiation doc the day before) and also had a "dry run" of his radiation treatment and got fitted for the mask they'll use to zap his brain tumors.

But I subbed all day, took a short bath after zumba, fell into bed, and was out.

Today, I am trying hard to have a better attitude. These are the mantras I'm repeating:
E-mail is the worst vehicle for tense or emotional conversations.

My brothers are good men with many good qualities, and I love them very much.

My friends care about me and want to help.

I can't control what happens to me, but I can control how I respond to it.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

NONETHELESS, I just have to share this snippet of an e-mail from my youngest brother. After buying my plane tickets**, I wrote to both brothers with the date of my trip:
I think avoiding overlap is probably best, right? (though Mom did say she hoped you two could come out at the same time, to empty the loft. I would be jealous, but the fun task she's saving for me is helping to choose a funeral home. Ai yi yi!!)
Youngest Brother responded:
Maybe it's just me (and Other Brother), but cleaning out the loft just doesn't seem like the highest priority for our next visit to Chico. At some point there is going to be lots of cleaning out to be done, not just the loft.
I'm trying, I really am, but is there any way to read this in which my brother is not an enormous ass??? How about asking Mom what would be helpful to her and then just freaking do it????

Of course, this would involve actually going to Chico, which so far neither brother has made plans to do.

Breathe. Breathe.

I'm very encouraged by Mom's reports. The three things bugging Dad most right now are hip pain, constant belching, and hiccuping. Turns out, the latter two are caused by the seizure medication he's taking. The radiation, which is starting soon, will target the brain tumors and the hip cancer; once the brain tumors have shrunk, he won't have to take the seizure meds any more, and the radiation will also significantly decrease his hip pain. I am so happy about this!

He'll have chemo after that, and that will address both those sites, also his lungs, where the cancer started. (And I realized later that the Brian Piccolo deathbed voice that freaked me out so much was likely caused by the shortness of breath he's been experiencing)

Anyway, Mom really liked the radiation doctor, and everyone seems to feel confident that Dad can be a lot more comfortable very soon.

His prognosis, on the other hand, isn't great — the doctor says five months. But I'm taking comfort from other stories of people who were given months and are still here, years later. In any event, I'll be there in just a couple of weeks, and Mom says he always perks up when I'm around.

One day at a time.
OK! On to the Boot Camp report. On Wednesday I did in fact take a walk right after blogging, 40 minutes briskly up and down hills in a light drizzle, and I felt great afterward. On Thursday, I woke up with knee pain; I worked all day and was quite exhausted by 3 p.m., but I made myself go to zumba — where I felt like I was moving through molasses.

But other people in the class made similar comments, and they attributed their torpor to having a week off (last week was school vacation) – and I thought, Well, OK, if they're sluggish after just one zumba-free week, of course I will be sluggish after eight!!

But I still hate it. I am slow and clumsy and a big fat hundred year-old sloth.  

Hate. It.

Breathe, breathe. One day at a time.

I came home from zumba and lifted weights (moving up to the five-pound weights this time) and worked my core, 20 leg lifts, and then took a bath and collapsed into bed. And this morning, I saw that I had reached my goal: I'm back in the 50s, 259 pounds, even though it's a Xanadu post-zumba weight. Still, it made me happy.

Though I'm also crippled again, with more knee pain (this time in both knees) than I've had all week. It was a damn long day.

Today I subbed in the special ed learning center, and zoo-whee mama, did I earn my enormous paycheck! I am bone tired. God bless the wonderful people who do this five days a week. I spent six hours with a boy who has autism, and it drained me to my core. However, just by being my usual cheerful bubbly self, apparently he responded very well to me, because I had two different teachers come up to me and ask, "How on earth did you get through to Red Fred? He has never warmed up to a teacher this much before!", which made me feel both happy to have had this great day with him and sad that it seems to be an anomaly . . . and I really didn't have any clear answer for them.

I have more subbing anecdotes to share, but I need to go do something else now. I'll leave you with this snippet:
  • Felix Puppy Eyes (collapsing in exhaustion next to me at the playground)
  • Me: Hey, dude. You're playing hard!
  • Felix: Yeah.
  • Me: What are you going to do when you get home?
  • Felix: I dunno.
  • Me: I think I'm going to take a hot bath and drink a glass of wine and maybe pet my kitties.
  • Felix (thoughtfully): Nice.
So cute!!!

I've had the glass of wine (and a two-hour soul-restoring phone call with Lady Darcy); Husband is bringing me a hot pastrami sandwich; I have all of Wednesday night's fabby TV shows to watch (through the miracle of the VCR); and a hot bath may well be in my future.

One day at a time.

love and kisses,
Lady C

** J, I appreciate your offer of miles more than words can say. I got a decent price from United, it just felt easier, and at the time, easier meant a lot. But I suspect that there will be many more trips westward in the future, and I may well take you up on your incredibly kind offer down the road.