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'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.


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


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 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.