18 September 2007

goodbye giddy

This morning my family of four went to Giddy's memorial service. After many weeks of slowly withering away and having virtually no appetite yet, receiving constant medication for pain, she slipped away late Saturday evening. A sadness and a relief to everyone.

Both she and Poppa had both chosen to be cremated, then to share an urn together. Honestly, I found it sweet and romantic. They were married for many, many years and while life was not always peachy by any stretch, they shared a long, abiding love that showed in their eyes when they were together. I always delighted to see them like that.

I was unable to stay for the service since several things occurred in our morning:

We live a pretty fair distance from the funeral home, and planned to leave at 9:30am; the service started at 11:00am. That would have given us way more than enough time, and essentially it was a built in buffer for running behind (an essential for our family!). In reality, we left at 10:00 sharp. It would be close, but not that bad, really (rush hour last night going to visitation made this drive an easy 1 hr 15 mins and maybe more; not so in lighter traffic).

No less than 20 minutes down the road, my son had to use the bathroom urgently. While we barely made it to the next exit, make it we did; while father and son ran into McDonald's to take care of business I circled the drive thru for an Egg McMuffin and - more importantly - coffee. I did not hold anyone up as I still waited a few more minutes for "the boys" (as Miss C and I affectionately call them) to return to the van.

On our way again, the tension mildly rising each time someone glanced at the clock, we exited one freeway onto another freeway for several miles, only to miss the next exit onto yet another freeway. Oops. Yeah, tension went up a bit more then. At last we were turned around and got off at the correct exit. I think we had to turn around once more at some point but honestly I can't remember for sure; this was not my territory and it's been a lot of years since my husband drove it reguaraly. To say my emotional, grieving husband was rattled is putting it kindly. He could barely recall the exit name he was looking for and we were now approaching from a different direction to add confusion.

We arrived at 11:00am. Maybe 11:01. I dropped our "boys" off at the door then parked (he did the driving; I only drove for the drive thru earlier and to park the car) and put Miss C in her dress (it was pressed and those of you who have children know what car seats and heat do to clothing). Apparently, my husband and son made it in after everyone was seated but before the service started. I came in after it started and planned to sit in the back row. Miss C had other ideas.

We walked into the chapel and I aimed for the nearest pew; a friend was sitting on the end and moved over for me. Miss C promptly and loudly began to fuss to find "the boys". She knew they were in here and by golly she wanted to sit with them, no two ways about it. I hauled my entertainment bag back up on my shoulder, grabbed the cute darling from the floor where she sat loud and unhappy, and left. Thank goodness I was still by the door!

We sat and colored with Color Wonder markers on a couch far from the chapel doors. (I love those things; I had no fear of her decorating the many antiques adorning the vicinity.) She sat sweetly and compliantly once I offered her a "princess" coloring book with makers. Whew.

I am sad to have missed the service, however visiting with family afterward at a luncheon was pleasant. My husband is suffering deeply this week, though. I grieve for him right now. In losing these grandparents, he feels he has lost his closest connection to many extended family that he barely scratched the surface in getting to know. We do not live near them, and while he has an aunt and uncle he sees regularly, there are so many more whose names he was still learning. Extended family he enjoyed having a connection to and seeing at family gatherings, hosted by his grandparents. Those bindings feel like they are evaporating with the deaths of Poppa and Giddy.

And his "other side" of the family has made the long, sad weekend much more difficult and miserable. This death is a deep grief for my husband. For them, it was "do we go or not go--Oh, let's ask J. and see what he thinks; let's spend hours talking to him about the pros the cons and the fact I didn't even speak to her for the past 6 years because of 'offenses'." I will stop with the emotionally distrought details here, but the anguish it caused, the intensified grief it created has left a vile taste in my mouth. Suffice it to say we are currently screening all calls and I plan to do so for a couple weeks. It's not fair to degrade family and grief like this. (To clarify, "the other side" is my father-in-law & family versus Poppa & Giddy being my mother-in-law's family.)

So long Giddy -- A lady who always welcomed me into her home and family. You left a lovely legacy of family and will be missed greatly.

**(One might wonder why my children were in attendance. However, my son is old enough and specifically wanted to go; I had no sitter available for Miss C. My parents are my choice for watching my children, and I have one friend I would trust them with, but she is out of town. I'm highly selective in who I will allow to "babysit". I know too many stories of trusted friends not being so trustworthy after all; I'd rather be choosey, not sorry.) **

13 September 2007

on cancer and death

I posted about Amy Wilhoite not too long ago--a woman of deep, abiding faith dying of cancer. On Monday, she went to meet her Lord and as her husband said, received "Ultimate Healing". (If you click the link with her name and scroll down, you can read her husband's touching words regarding her last day in two short posts). My heart has ached this week. She was younger than me, and had a one year old little boy and a husband whose love for her was so huge and strong. She had a large family who cared endlessly for her as well. I followed her blog from the first week she was diagnosed and it was a heart wrenching journey to say the least. If I recall correctly, she never actually achieved remission in the year and two months that she fought this cancer.

Her battle reminds me of my mother-in-law whom I've spoken of a few times. She, too, died of cancer leaving behind small children who have no real memory of her. I have felt cheated in some ways that I never knew her. I do believe, having known her brother, sister and parents, that I would have really enjoyed her. I cannot imagine what my husband and sister-in-law have felt over the years.

And these thoughts of cancer and my mother-in-law bring me full circle to think of Giddy, her mother, who is dying of the same cancer. Over Labor Day weekend, Giddy was given 24 hours at most and hospice was coming every day. A week later she was put in the hopice care center as that was the best choice for keeping her comfortable. And now, days later, she is still just withering into a wisp of a person, rarely concious and rarely able to recognize her own daughter. She has not eaten in two or three weeks and her breathing is slow and paced by a minute at times.

These days are hard and emotional and so tiring. We are trying to leave for our trip to Disney later this month and I hardly know how to feel--I'm excited and looking forward to it, yet full of anxiety and nerves. Will we go on the heels of a funeral? Will we have to cancel or return early for a funeral? Some of these thoughts also bring a load of guilt, that I'd even consider such things! I do know we are in need of this time as a family since the summer turned into workfest for my husband while I sat around miserably unable to eat and too tired to tidy (thankfully, right before I got pregnant, a lot of things around here had been in very good shape, but it still adds up fast).

The truth is, the Lord knows her "appointed day" and that is a settled detail for Him. I need not worry or be anxious -- I am just cycling through what would be PMS if not for the very real fact I have a kicking little boy in my belly (and I still have less appetite than I expect, but at least the ill feelings have gone at last).

And so you have all my reasons for being Oscar the Grouch this week. (Oh, all that and two mini-Oscars that live in my house with me. But at least they're cute and loving the rest of the time....hahaha!)

05 September 2007

something new

Yesterday, I ventured into unknown territory. Well, for me at least. I did something I’ve not done before, and I have to say I enjoyed it. Thoroughly. Okay, I expected to enjoy it. I still think I’d have been fine not doing it.

But, I am savoring what happened. You see, I had an ultrasound. That mid-way ultrasound everyone anxiously awaits because they HAVE to know what gender their baby is. I’ve never found out until now. That’s right. I did not know Little B was a boy, nor did I know Miss C was a girl until their births…and my mother’s intuition is pretty far off since I expected the opposite both times. The suspense has never bothered me, I’ve never had gender preferences, and I’ve rather had fun letting everyone else agonize over not knowing what I’m having.

This time, I told my husband he could decide if we found out or not. He never missed a beat when responding: “Okay, we’re finding out!” (Though, wonderful man that he is, he was willing to let me change my mind if I really didn’t want to know.) My mother was ecstatic since she’s begged me to know beforehand “so I can plan”. I’ve enjoyed the suspense in the past, but this time around, I am going to call my baby by name and pray for it by name in the remaining months. And I can tell I am already bonding a bit more, even in the few hours since I’ve learned what I’m having.

It’s also good for Little B to know so he can prepare although we did warn him that there’s a small chance they’re wrong. We had some very hurt feelings that we did not decide to go with his original name suggestion, but . . . well, while I liked it, it just wasn’t a go for us. You know?

And so, without further ado…wait – should I tell you now or another day? I could make you guess! Though I suppose that’s harder to do since most people want to check out the belly in person before guessing.

I will start by telling you this: My pregnancy is somewhat different this time compared to the first two.
I want sweets (a very bad thing!) which I’ve never wanted before.
I have a lot of trouble getting enough sleep at night which is a first.
I have migraines which I had with Miss C.
Until two weeks ago, I believed I was having a girl (mostly because of the migraines which had gone away completely while pregnant with Little B and did not return until he was almost one) at which time I decided it’s probably a boy, but I have no reasoning or logic for this; I always go back and forth a bit.
I truly had no preference.

So, settle in your minds what we’re having….got it? Be ready to tell me your thoughts so I hear the fun of people guessing, okay? And since you are being so kind and let me have my fun and teasing, I will go ahead and tell you that we are indeed having another little baby. Yes. A baby. A sweet little baby! I’m so excited. And we’re not going to call it “It” for the next few months because he has a name already: Baby J.


(And this is a really, really good thing since I swear we’d have been in the hospital with baby name books still searching for the elusive first name to go with our almost settled middle name had this child been a she instead!)

03 September 2007


I am a total glutton for punishment. I mean really.

I was hanging out with my mom Saturday, doing a spot of lunch, a bit of shopping. With my children in tow, of course. She needed to stop by the pet store for turtle food, which is a stop my son adores, but never gets to do with me because Miss C will typically get a few hives there due to her dog and cat allergy. Yes, even without touching the animals.

So, I struck a deal. Miss C was almost out for the count in her car seat, and I was craving a decaf latte (yes, straight up, no sweeteners, no flavorings--they're best this way); Starbucks shares a small parking lot with the pet store. How terribly convenient. So, I waited in a long line (this location is older and lacks the lovely drive-thru feature) for my latte and a pumpkin loaf while my mother and son patiently waited their turn to have an indulgent stop in the pet store. I sat sipping my lovely drink, eating generous pinches of my dessert and chatting with a friend on my cell while they took their time and Miss C slept on. Ideal, really. I was quite content and enjoying myself thoroughly.

Then, as I hung up the phone, I glanced in my side view mirror and saw my son and mother arriving. They were approaching my door, not the one for my son to get in. So, I rolled down the window. Big eyes peered up at me, so incredibly full of hope and expectation that fear began at my toes and worked it's way up. "Please, can I have a hampster???" Uh. . .uh. . .Apparently he'd just seen one giving birth and fell in love with the whole hampster world. Oh Boy.

"Well, I don't know if this is a good time for it..." I began. Now, my mom had already warned him the answer might be "No", but the tears spilled over and the frustration set in. I explained I couldn't make that decision without talking to Daddy. I explained that we didn't know if Miss C would have an allergy. We discussed the fact that they don't live long lives and it will die at an unkown time. We talked about the fact that he would be responsible for it, not me. And that if it's not fed and cared for it will die sooner not later.

Oh, and he wanted a girl "So it will have babies." Uh. . .

Turn my head and die laughing while my mom gloats that it's finally struck me what he's been specifying. So, I had to explain that babies need daddies, just like him, Miss C and the new baby we're having...there's a daddy. So, having a girl hampster doesn't mean we'll have babies.

We at long last settled on getting a book to learn more about hampsters and their care. Right. My mother did let me know that apparently there was one for adoption (read: free, but she was offering to foot the bill anyway so that wasn't exactly the issue at hand), and the lady in the store had mentioned it which was probably encouraging my son's desire for a new bet now.

The trotted off to find a book and become informed on the hampster up for adoption.

I called my husband to make a joint decision. He thought it was fine. I kinda did, too. Little B has been very willingly feeding the birds anytime he's reminded for a copule months now. He enjoys it and loves that it's part of his job (that started at his request). Granted, he doesn't typically remember on his own, but does not complain when it's brought up. I'm impressed, and just fill in when I forget to have him do it. He's also greatly improved with keeping his room tidier, and we've been very pleased.

My mother and son arrive back at the van beaming--remember, they were supposed to find a BOOK about hampsters. My mother about burst as she told me the hampster for adoption was so friendly, so sweet, so cuddly. . .and practically perfect for a first pet. By this time, Miss C was awake and I reluctantly loaded her into the stroller a pet store adventure (and yes, she came out with the requisite 2 or 3 hives).

First, we checked out the hampster and it was everything my mom said and more. I let the lady know we'd take it--a female hampster no less!--but kept Little B on his toes about my indecisiveness for a few minutes longer. Cruel mother, I am. As we perused the hampster aisle I explained our reasons for allowing him to have a pet hampster (all the aformentioned responsibility stuff). He was so beside himself!! We got it all. . ."ham-trac" (the traditional ball with a track for it to race on!), cage, food, bedding, etc. Now, we've had to set rules for having a grown-up around when the hampster is handled since he was easily about to get carried away with the in and out stuff.

And, he has announced to a room full of people that his new hampster, "Peanut" will be having babies. . . hhhmmm. . .

Welcome to the family, Peanut.