Thursday, 24 May 2018

4 days to no car

Oh boy, it's really happening. I found someone to buy Big Mama for parts. At least it's not the scrap yard for her.
I got a supply of toilet paper, dog food, a step stool, a new toaster and other bulky and heavy stuff. 
I bought some Sharkskin paint and brushes for my outdoor projects.
I found some plants for my deck. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

5 days to no car

I’m writing a list and checking it twice.
A list of all the things I need to do before there is no car.
Tonight I'm bringing blankets home from the yoga studio to wash and fence dry them and get them returned before time runs out.

I dug out earphones from my last phone purchase and used them this morning. They are awesome. These new ones nestle in my ears perfectly. I can still hear birds and car horns so I'm good. Music beats listening to cars and there's a rhythm in my step.

Last week I asked Don to get a pizza for lunch from Both Hands Pizzeria. It's walking distance. I suggested he get a small one thinking that it would be way easier to carry home. I said I would make a salad to go with it. Well, as I'm coming home he wizzed by on his bike and waved at me. I don't see the pizza but he has his backpack. I get home and there is the pizza being pulled out of the backpack. Oops. He puts the box upside down on the table and says he took the bike so the pizza wouldn't be cold. I don't know if it's just a guy thing......... Anyway, the pizza was all curled up at the edge of the box. We just unfolded it and ate it with gusto.

I can feel a little anxiety now.
I'm wondering if I can do it.
Here is Alice sitting on a strangers' stoop.......resting during our walk in Montreal.
Maybe this will be me?

Monday, 21 May 2018

6 days to no car

I spent the weekend in Montreal with the kids. 
I took a cab to the house and back to airport but otherwise we used no car. 
We had lovely adventures as everything was fairly close in the neighbourhood close to downtown. 
This is me riding a rented bike around downtown Montreal. Yes, that's the bike path. It goes right 
through the city core. This is the new section and it is wonderful and easy. If you look close it is between the walkers and the cars. Safe and lots of people using during the week especially to work and back. This was early Sunday morning so ever quiet! The bike cost me 5 dollars for the day.  They are everywhere. Pick one up.  Drop it off. Pick up another and bring to any drop off spot. Very cool!

At home today and I used  the car to get hanging strawberry plants, a white rose bush, basil plants, and seeds. And brought a bag to the thrift store. 

Friday, 18 May 2018

10 days to no car

Yesterday I walked again. Big mama sat in the driveway. I'm just practicing being without her. And I had a wonderful day! I met an old classmate on the street and we chatted about books and how days go so fast. He has been gobbling history books borrowed from the Waverly library. He recently read about C. D. Howe and how we should have some more memorial to this astounding man. He makes me want to look him up. 

I remember a class I was in with my friend at Lakehead University. We were already older students but we giggled like crazy people over a mistake in vocabulary of the professor. We absolutely couldn't stop. And we were weren't polite enough to leave. Or would that have been more rude? We just snorted and kept giggling. We couldn't look at each other without bursting. It was a Sociology of Medicine class. 

I'm leaving for the airport shortly. Going to Montreal. Don is driving me. Big mama gets out and about today. And I think of this being the last trip with the car. Taxis after this. I wonder if I can count on them to be on time. Or when would I call them? The night before? I leave awfully early in the mornings. How much do I tip? Do they take cash? It might add a bit more stress to traveling. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

12 days to no car

I decided to walk to work this morning. It was drizzling. I scurried for my umbrella under the winter hats and mitts. It seems we are needing both for the time being: umbrellas and mitts. I shared a few words with a fellow down the street about how we need rain. I happened to meet up with a friend near the corner coffeeshop and we chatted as we walked together the rest of the way to the yoga studio. No stress.
On the way home another friend/neighbour/student and I stopped in at the coffeeshop below the studio to pick up something for lunch, strolled home and shared life happenings from the previous week. I watched someone pulling weeds. I watched someone painting stairs. As I neared home I heard my little Felix barking at the door to get back in the house. Don was cooking so he didn't want to miss any scraps in flight. No stress.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

13 days to no car

Happy spring!
After a lot of thought, I've decided to get rid of my car. Big Mama is old and ailing. Rusty brake lines, leaky gas line, finicky locks, gas cap needs a screwdriver to open, rear door sometimes refuses opening, awwwww, she's just old and grey. My mechanic said "now, it's time".

This means there will be no car in the household. I feel excited. Life will look different.  I might lose some belly fat. Save money. Have adventures. Meet new people. Maybe spend more time at home. I'm not all sure what it's going to look like. I can always get a car later if I can't do it.

I'm not completely understanding why I want to do this. Don hasn't owned a car since the late 70's. So he is an inspiration. He rides a bicycle or walks. But I've had a car for visiting and hiking and groceries and trips. I plan to rent a car occasionally. I'd like to bike more. Walk more. I live a 10 minute walk away from work and restaurants and the best coffee shops and the bus network and the marina.

I've noticed that when I walk somewhere for a chore like going to the bank it's more fun and doesn't feel at all like a chore. When I take the car, well, it is a chore. Go figure.

I have a polka dotted bike helmet that says Nutcase above my forehead. This should be fun!

Friday, 30 March 2018

Regret

I was looking through my dad's, my mom's, and my old photo boxes. My mom took lots and lots of photos. She wrote me frequent letters and always some photos of her life in Australia: holding baby crocs; eating fluffy worms on a trip to the bush; eating Christmas dinner in a sundress; trees with enormous flowers; and miles and miles of sandy beach. I never appreciated those letters. I was too busy with something to sit with them. Too preoccupied by my own "special" thoughts.

I'm listening to Ed Sheeran's love songs while I look at these photos and letters. Oh man, tears.
I have been looking at my life and what I would like to do, to see, to be. What would I regret if this was my last day on earth? I would regret not loving enough. I regret that now, today,  but hopefully I have time to live differently. I regret not telling my mom how wonderful her letters were, and what an awesome life she lived, and how she helped me be who I am, regardless of her circumstances, what a good mom she was, how hard she worked, and thanking her for her just being my mom. And I regret all the mean and nasty things I have said and done and not done to people because I didn't see love. I didn't know. I didn't know. And my mind explodes into regret of more and more. But it's all because I was ignorant (as in didn't know) that love was important. That praise and gratitude are what lead to love. I only ever needed to appreciate what was right in front of me. All of it. Appreciation would have lead to thankfulness and it would have led to love, simply because that's the way it is. It's a good thing it still works that way and will always work that way. Believe it or not.

May you love with all your heart!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Splurge worthy

I brought a beloved rug to the thrift store today. It was a beautiful leather shag rug. It was a splurge worthy purchase nearly 20 years ago. It moved from room to room finally landing in the bedroom in the basement. It wasn't always the best carpet to have. It was too heavy to haul outside. It had to be vacuumed. The dog loved rolling on it and squashing the newly vacuumed and fluffed up leather shag. It showed the white dog hairs. It wasn't particularly warm under the feet. Yet, it was beautiful and luxurious. As I've been clearing clutter and cleaning house and inspecting the room we have for guests, I noticed a musty smell. My basement isn't terribly musty ever because of a wood stove and rear entry basement so it's easy to air out. I smelled the rug. Oooh! We shook it outside in the snow and left it there for a day. I brought it upstairs into my office. Oh how lovely it is! But after two days the smell was still there and it appeared stronger upstairs. Baking soda didn't work. It was time to get rid of it. And I am hoping someone knows how to clear the musty smell or perhaps doesn't care if it smells a little if it's on a porch or at camp. I'm left with a bare floor and a tiny sheepskin under my feet. It was time to let go. I have such an appreciation for that rug. I realize that sometimes it is important to let go of even fine beloved things if they no longer serve. Let someone else have the small joy of a great find.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Work

I'm working. Working at the yoga studio. Teaching. Cleaning. Organizing.
I'm working. At home. De-cluttering. Cleaning. Organizing.
I think it's a spring thing for me. And for sure it's a mom passing away event as well.
It's amazing that work never ends. I do one thing and I see three more things to do.
My pace is slower right now. I've always been more of a stamina person than one who goes in spurts or sprints.
Eons ago I did some running. I could run long and slow and keep on going. I like doing things that way. I don't even like to walk fast anymore. I like to mosy. I hope mosy is a word.

I have a lot of things for a small house so organization is key in having neatness and finding things when you want them. My mom used to say that she couldn't truly relax until she had undone things done. Now I know why she was stressed a lot when I was a kid. In the last 25 years or so she really had things in order. She knew how to relax. But never until her chores were done. Every morning her bed was made. She had the same breakfast at the same time every day. There was a coffee time. A laundry day.
There is something to be said for that. Order in life. Hmmmm.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Dancing again

Yesterday I started to spontaneously dance. I had tried occasionally to dance to music but it felt stiff and forced. Then yesterday. I had music playing. Krishna Das chanting. And I lifted my feet and bounced around the kitchen and into the living room and back again. Wow! It felt like new growth. Spring had sprung. I shouted to Don that I'm dancing. I realized I hadn't danced for a long time. Dancing can be a barometer for how's it going. For joy. I felt so happy to have a fog lift. I can't quite tell how long I've been foggy. I didn't even know I was foggy.

I've come and gone to Montreal. It was rejuvenating. Good food. Good company. Good sleeps. Family. I learned some more French from Alice: a moi! encore! oh la la! voila! pomme, papillon. We did some Shoga (Yoga) and read books and played with play doh and colour coloured.

I feel a bit like I'm an alien spaceship. Hovering over the surface of the earth. No tether. If you saw the movie "Arrival" well I'm the ship. It is so odd not to have my mom be the first thing I think about in morning or last thing at night. Though I am still awed by her presence.

My life has changed and I'm not sure which way I'm going. I will soon, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

A simple life

In the last week I've slept 11 hours straight every night. Awwww, how lovely it is to feel rested with no hurry worry in the mornings. Though I have been busy. Tonight everything is empty in my mom's apartment. It's clean enough for viewing to new tenants. With papers everything is done what can be done right now. Thankfully my mom led a simple life. Since she had already cleared out "stuff" when she left Australia she had very few things. And she was never a gatherer of stuff. No extra dishes or linens or papers. My house is a little full at the moment with all kinds of things I couldn't part with and no one else wanted. I'll sort it out later.

I'm leaving for Montreal in the morning. To see Minna, Jon, and little feisty Alice. My bag is packed.
I don't really have time to miss my mom at the moment. I think she would be pleased how everything is unfolding and coming together.

My dad passed away a long time ago and I never feel like he has passed away. I don't have a sense that he is gone. I just can't see him any longer. It feels the same with my mom. That pa and ma energy still exists and it's a very beautiful thing.

And I am the matriarch of my family. I hold the wooden spoon now.

Be well everyone!


My mom on her wedding day in 2012 in my garden.


Sunday, 4 February 2018

The rhythm of life and death

My beautiful mom passed on Friday evening.
Please do not be sorry for my loss. I have not lost anything. Instead I have received such infinite love and peace, that it overflows out of my heart

This experience has changed my life forever. Revelations. Love. Peace. Gratitude. Acceptance. Huge gifts. Healing through and through. My mom and I. Together.

Her living room was our sanctuary. When she passed with me gazing at her I hadn't slept for over 60 hours. We had a rough patch at night and I had given hell. No one was messing with me. I had a job to do. I was a midwife and we had a rhythm. My mom worked hard on her last day. A consistent rhythm of breath. Like a shaman's drum. After 9 consistent hours the beat ended. It was done.

The beat goes on in me. Literally. I felt like I was passed the torch. In this case it was a wooden spoon. I hope you're curious.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Veer right!

What I said yesterday about never should do alone? I used bad vocabulary for one thing. And another today I would say I’m happy alone. I’ve got my hospice legs under me now.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I may not write soon. I d rather focus now. Hang out with mom. Day or night she notices if I’ve left the room

🐸

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Up the mountain

What a day!
I was at my best. This morning I looked around the living room and was astonished to see the mess. It was only 8:30 am. Blankets and pillows flung onto the floor. Soiled sheets rolled into a big bundle. My mom crookedly in the bed. But sleeping. Briefs piled. Wipes. Kleenex. Toothettes(those little sponges you swab a mouth with). Garbage precariously piled in a way too small vanity garbage can. I hadn’t brushed my teeth the night before. But I had flossed.
I felt like a fool , a fool with a cold, starting to climb Mt Everest. Oh yes, no training. Ever.   Obviously I kept going once I looked around me and especially since I asked myself how soon can I make this funny?

My morning up to 2 pm was soooo busy. People coming and going. Waiting for phone calls, deliveries. Someone brought me food and went on a run to Walmart because there were so many thing we didn’t have. Tonight I’ve got rhythm going. No more mess but it took all day to clear. It reminded me in many ways of being a first time mom and on your first day alone. Scary. Clutzy. No time.

I was told, but I would never have believed how busy it would be. And I would tell someone never to do hospice alone at home.  You need more than one. I have more but no one to do part of 24/7. When help leaves I am everything. Phone numbers beside me. A timer to wake me for injections. Vials and notepad to record.

My mom can’t swallow, sleeps most of the time. And looks amazingly cute. She is peaceful. I am peaceful. It’s way past my bedtime. Waiting to give drugs in 15. Ah, then the couch which molds perfectly under me.

It’s lovely to talk with palliative care people. We chat. We share ideas. I tell a story about how it went this morning and I make them chuckle. It’s our work together. We’re midwifing my mom back home now. It’s time to go back now.

No heaviness in conversation about the imminent passing, or sorries. Only listening. Open hearts.
What a gift that I can be here now.
And yeah, I’m good now on the climb up the Mountain. I will forget the struggle part eventually ( I was told this too)

(I am blogging on my phone now so I hope there aren’t any weird words)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

It's time.

I'm now permanently based at my mom's.
It's been a super busy day. I can hardly wait to lie down soon.
Visitor's: Dr. B., Nurse E.  and the case worker from Ccac.
We have a hospital bed. Mom didn't look too happy about that.
My brother is sick in bed with what I've got.
Don is getting dizzy with instructions.

Anyway, here we are.
It's funny when something life grabbing is happening.....it's hard to see it in any perspective. Perhaps that's what muddles us up, always looking for perspective. Maybe if we just stayed in life grabbing moments, no matter what they are, life would be smoother, easier. It's tough trying to make sense of things.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Strength leaving

My mom lost all strength tonight. In her arms. Legs. Belly. Don and I managed to get her into bed. Even now she expresses gratitude and is peaceful. She is losing her voice and can’t swallow well. I have the same raspy voice. I have a wicked cold. Sleeping on the couch.

We knew soon something would change. It’s still a bit alarming. It’s the unknown.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

We take care of each other



Don surprised me yesterday with a delicious lunch. Yum! I felt like a queen as I was hungry as a bear when I came home.
As we take care of each other.........I know there is something profound to say.........I appreciate, I love.......
I remember when a friend's brother died young, before middle age, and he had needed a lot of care by his family in his last years, There were few people at the funeral but it was very moving. The minister pulled tears out of all our hearts because he said when we take care of someone in the way this man had been taken care of, that a strong bond is created between each other. I'm feeling that bond between so many people as I am taking care of but so many people are taking care of me too.

I didn't want to leave my pyjamas this morning. Yet, as the day moved along, I rode on the day buoyed by simple things: smiles from strangers, email hugs, coffee with an out of town friend, my two guys (Don and my brother), one with supper, the other with dishes.

Now I'm back in my pyjamas. Nothing profound here. Yet there is: this one step at a time, one day at a time living. Knowing that tomorrow morning everything may have changed.
Dr. B. made a home visit yesterday. My mom said to him that she is happy. And that every night she clasps her hands together and prays that she won't wake up in the morning. Then, morning comes and she says "I'm still here!"

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Throw away the suitcase

What is amazing to me - that my mom carried old hurts, old wounds, grievances, for years.
Where are they now? Just gone. Woosh >>>>>
Now how awesome is that!
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could let them go when we still feel like we're in the land of the living? Instead we may carry old hurts like a suitcase full of stuff that we show to everyone who will look and listen. Man, that suitcase can get heavy and bedraggled. We gotta let it go.

Incoming

I heard my mom say to a friend that it’s so lovely that the family continues with the birth of Alice. My mom said that as Alice came into the world she started to leave. This is a photo of Alice at home in Montreal. She is wearing her great grandmother’s sheepskin boots from Australia.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Direction

The hardest thing is when I don't know what to do.

My mom and I both knew that she won't be able to get changed into people seeing clothes, traverse her own stairs, climb into a car, get out of car, reception, sit a few hours in a hospital, climb into a car, out of the car, traverse her own stairs, back into her chair by the window. It was impossible yesterday,  impossible today, impossible tomorrow. A decision to cancel Dr. B's appointment for tomorrow.

It feels like the next step on this journey. Not being able to go out. This is new. Mom isn't well enough to mind.

Wouldn't it be utopian if doctor's all came home when people are sick? Sometimes it makes way more sense. Now. And when little kids are really sick. Or when you wonder if this is pneumonia and it's -40C and your car is frozen? I'm naive.

Previously we made decisions about what  to do that weren't this clear. Clear decisions make life so much easier. And now, it's up to Dr. B. what to do.  I remember when we first met him. Up to that point we didn't know who or how many were my mom's caregivers. There seemed to be many people involved but no one really "involved". No one person had the reins. I was trying to hold them. My mom was trying to hold them. Like that was working. We met Dr. B. and he gently, ever so gently, took the reins from both of us. And we both sat back and felt safe. As it should be. (Though my mom points direction). (A good thing she still can).


Monday, 22 January 2018

I am peaceful

I feel so peaceful this evening that it surprises me.
I have noticed that if I "do" the work then "it" works on me.
If I do yoga, yoga works on me.
If I meditate, meditation works on me. It really does.
It takes a long time to really get that. It is a lived experience. A visceral thing.
So, I feel peaceful and it's nothing I've done today. It's all the past practices. The past yoga. The past meditations. Life happens while you're doing stuff.

While I was teaching a yoga class this evening, my mom was preparing herself for bed. My brother was there earlier at supper time and brought everything she needs for the night into the bedroom and closed the blinds, turned on the bedside light. My mom has her own evening rituals, one of them which is calling me to say she is sitting on the edge of the bed and telling me which pills she has taken and how she is and who has called this evening. Tonight's message said ahhhh, I made it into bed. My pills are taken. Everything is good. I hope to sleep well. I am peaceful. It has been a good day. Thank you for everything. And if I'm alive in the morning I will see you tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Temporary growth 

This morning was much the same as yesterday. Minus the sun salutations.
Coming back from my morning trip to mom's I notice that every bush and tree has spikes. This is the birch in my yard. It is soooo cool looking.



Yesterday's nurse suggested my mom walk a little more during the day. Walking is a huffing and a puffing kind of thing. If she doesn't she won't be able to after a short while.  Mom feels good just sitting in her recliner. Her hands on her belly. Keeping it warm. Almost like nurturing it.
She walks a little. Bathroom breaks are fewer than usual though she tries to drink water. She says it tastes bad now. Even with himalayan salt in it.

Healing is an art. Taking pills is an art. Drinking water is an art. You want just enough, just the right amount. Too much water sodium goes down. Not good. Too little water. Not good. Too much blood pressure medication. Too low. Too little medication. Heart don't like it. I'm learning to listen and watch. Just enough walking to be strong. Just enough food to not hurt.

I'm learning a lot.

April 2017 a surgeon gave mom news that she has cancer. She asked - how long? He said 3 to 4 months. Bastard. She's been dying since then.

May 2017. "Chemo never killed anyone"

June 2017 .......yes......it almost did.

July 2017 doctor on call said she has a few days. Gave her steroid to clear blockage. She is still here.

Dr. B. puts it this way: If things change yearly you have years to live. If things change monthly you have months to live. If things change weekly you have weeks to live. If things change daily you have days. If hourly you have hours. No one can say.

My mom loves Dr. B.
I love Dr. B.
He knows healing (and dying) is an art.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The bed is made.

🐦
I heard my dog snoring. My first sound. 6 am.
Meditation. A few sun salutations.
Oatmeal. Coffee. Yesterday's newspaper. Hunter boots. Walk to my mom's apartment. A bird chirps merrily. It is warm enough to feel like spring. Since it's Saturday there is no traffic this early.

My mom is still sleeping. I sit quietly in her living room reading emails. I hear her phone......blip......blip.....blip......she's calling me. How fun! I answer. Good morning. I am here in your living room. Here? Now? Yes, mom. Ohhh! She sounds relieved. We laugh at this. She will have something funny to tell her friend when they chat later this morning.

Water. Pills. Pink. Blue. Yellow. White. Change into day clothes. Hair. Washroom. Toilet. Blinds. Walker. Mom is tired. I wheel her into living room on her walker. I make a vroom sound. Voi. Voi.

Oatmeal. Butter. Honey. Pills. Water. Television. Blanket. The day begins. She has a fire in her belly before pink pill kicks in.

So far today everything is in order. The bed is made.
🕤



Friday, 19 January 2018

Beginnings and endings


This photo of my mom was taken in 2015 when she was still living in Australia. In this photo she is 82 years old  She is just recovering from surgery to have cancer removed from her bowel.
Today she is living in Canada. She is in the last stages of a rare form of cancer called Sister Mary Joseph cancer, a cancer of the colon. She is the colour of the orange on this caftan. She is smaller. Her belly is distended and it's oozing what looks like fresh sausage from her belly button. She said this morning that her life is sleeping, eating, huffing her way to the bathroom, sleeping, sitting in her chair watching television, sleeping, a bit of talking on phone or with someone visiting, sleeping, eating, taking pink pills and blue pills, sleeping, and around again.
She said to the nurse this morning that she is happy. This in itself is a miracle.
She still has a great sense of humour. I'll tell you more as the cycle of her days continue. I'm writing for me. I need to talk.

I read this in Richard Wagamese's book "Embers":

"My mother's physical death taught me that I didn't come here to master devastating situations, circumstances, changes, losses or even my own feelings. I came here to experience them. I came here for soul lessons and spirit teachings so that I could carry on in this wonderful spiritual journey we are all on, this teaching way, this blessing way. So that, in the end, I can, like my mother has done, return to the beauty that I was when I first arrived here."

Oh, wow. I see where I am with my mother. I have not always been understanding or happy with my mother. She has known that. The other day as we were watching television together, she reached over for me and said "we're getting along good now, aren't we?" I said, "yes" and smiled.
Life is so furiously happy and sad at the same time. I now see how she was a beautiful child of the universe when she was born butt first. at home.  A big baby, the youngest of the clan. The wild one. The unruly one. The stubborn one. The independent one.

Her life both hard and brilliant. Yet there never seemed to be any ease. And then this miracle. Her saying to the nurse this morning that she is happy. At Christmas she said it was the best one ever. She is ready to die. She is at peace. This is such a beautiful happening it feels like tears are being pulled out of my heart. She is returning to the beauty of when she first arrived here. If this happens to one, it can happen for all. I have enormous trust in this.