hi ho hi ho it's back to work I go

So my father picked an urn today with the funeral home rep that came to the house. So weird to go through the catalog. They actually have a RANGE of caskets for cremation, ranging from your basic cardboard box to big and expensive but still highly flammable. What an industry.

What I think is really goobery is that for work in order to get the ONE day they are willing to give for bereavement at work is I have to have a letter from either hospice or the cremation people stating my relationship to the deceased. Um...what? One day? Seriously? What if this had been one of my folks? I can tell you that I would not be able to head back to work to have people screaming at me about their damn TVs after one day. The odds of me getting fired would be huge. I understand (I guess) that they do not want to pay me for any extra days. HOWEVER, unless I have seriously claimed a bunch of relatives, it seems they can take my word for it with a simple announcement. I have to have someone state that she was in fact related to me? How about if I bring in some of the dirty diapers I had to deal with the last few days?

Ugh. The working world is just not somewhere I like to be. It's all about money and how much they can squeeze out of you before your soul gives up. I am frustrated with that. I have been with the company over 4 years and still I need a note from my parents if I am not going to be there.

So I will be there at 6:00 am tomorrow and things will go on like nothing happened. People will yell at me and I will have to pretend that I am really concerned about their children's ability to watch fucking Sponge Bob. I will do it of course, because I obviously have to pay bills and do my part to exist in society, blah blah blah.

I know that within a few days I will be over the "injustice" of it all, there are people each day dealing with the awful parts of life. It's just amazing how quickly we have to hit the ground running again.

this is how the world ends...not with a bang but a whimper

It's over. We took turns sitting with my grandmother all night. She was pretty out of it, every once in awhile, struggling with her nightgown, which the nurses said was normal. She called out help once at about 4:45 this morning (well technically now, yesterday morning) and my mother and I changed her and cleaned her again. Tom and I went downstairs to bed, my mom taking over. At 10 to 7:00 she was at the door, "Mer, I think she's gone."

She waited until my mom left the room. In control until the final moment. Not wanting us to be with her when she decided she was really done with us and the world. My mom walked in, she had turned onto her back (which she hadn't done in months) her eyes open and hand still on her nightgown. She was gone.

We called hospice. These are amazing people. Sandy, who was own main nurse, was there in 20 minutes. She checked for a heartbeat and then called the doctor to get a pronouncement of death. She then called the funeral home and waited with us until they arrived.

Two men came to our door, one a younger man who looked a little like a car salesman, and an older gentleman who looked like he could have been a cast member of the Adams Family. The hallway too narrow to get a gurney down to the bedroom, he carried my grandmother out to the living room like a child in his arms. They wrapped her in a blanket, adorned with a single red rose and took her out to the car, and that was it.

I was with my mom's mom when she died, so I have been through this process before, the bedside vigil, being there for her last breath. I cannot say enough how wonderful hospice is. My guts were turning around on themselves, but somehow they make it ok. Despite the fact that it feels like everything has turned upside down, they manage to make it seem like nothing is wrong and honestly it is just the next step.

After the noise quited down and the house was empty, we cleaned her room. My dad is a lot like me when there are things beyond your control; you manipulate your environment. We cleaned, he took windex to the filing cabinet next to her bed that was covered with spills, we picked up wadded kleenex and stray pills that had been dropped and became lost under the bed. Within 10 minutes, it was like she hadn't been there. No poopy diapers, no dirty sheets, nothing of death. It was surreal.

We all collapsed and slept then. Except for my mom of course. Cannot get that woman to relax.

We got up about 7 and went to dinner. The first time in months being able to leave without worry. I bought a Jack Daniels and water and placed it at her empty seat. Her favorite drink, now a mini-service for us.

I cannot really put into words everything I am feeling. It's strange, it's a relief, it's sad, it's weird the world goes on without noticing. A few minutes and you were never there.

My dad said to my mom "Now I'm an orphan too." Their parents gone. Alone in the world, but not of course.

Tom is an angel. He helped my mom and I lift my grandmother for the last changing. Running to the store, quietly helping my dad clean her room. 2 months into marriage and he has had to deal with the week from hell. The days are completely one long dream for me. I keep asking what day it is.

So tomorrow we meet with the crematorium people to pick an urn. My parents will bury her in Maryland in the next week or so. I will not be there for that part. Which is probably good for my folks to be able to be alone with that part of it.

So strange. I have now watched 2 grandmothers through their last hours of life and I know I will see it again, sooner than I want to. However, there is a part of me that feels better for the experience.


and so I face, the final curtain

Been here at the folk's house since yesterday. The end is very close now, but of course it's impossible to tell. I can't believe her body is holding on the way it is. Yesterday she told me in a more lucid moment "I'm not going to live anymore." Another point she said "let me go." I told her she could go, it was ok. She was almost completely deaf but it seems like she's hearing more now. I don't know.

I started reading Harry Potter to her, she loved those books like we did. I got through a chapter and 1/2 when she reached out to me like she wanted me to stop. So I did. So we are taking turns sitting with her. Mom and I are changing dirty diapers about every hour. It's amazing when she has had no food for several days now. She does still take the tiniest bit of water but not much.

I have done some reading on the physical changes right before death. The hospice nurse also said it could be any time. Every so often she says ow or cold. When she has messed her diaper she calls out and has the whole thing stripped off her practically before we can get her all cleaned off. So, somewhere in there she is still wanting to be in control. How her body hasn't decided to let go and let it be over -- I have no idea. I hate watching her die. Despite everything, watching death sucks. My mom said to me "I am sorry you have to watch this a second time."

We do what we have to do. That's what family is. That's what being human is. I would hate for her to be in a room in a nursing home, shouting to no one, who knows what kind of treatment she would be getting from a frustrated orderly who has changed 6 poopy diapers for her alone in one day. Despite her critical nature, hateful comments, I don't want her to suffer. I don't want her to be aware of the things going on. No one would pick the end of their lives like this.

So the vigil continues and I am exhausted and hoping work is not going to can me because I have been gone 3 days. Oi. We shall see. For now, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. My mom cannot change her alone and my dad is not helpful. I am not sure he can handle what is going on right now.

Hopefully it's over soon, for us, but even more so, for her.


Indicate precisely what you mean to say

Ahhhh...week over. Thank the maker, this oil bath is going to feel...oh wait. That's not me, that's a droid talking. However I did manage to make it to payday and only had to take about 8 sup calls, 2 of whom were wacky lunatics. I am constantly amazed at how stressed and goofy people get about TV. I am trying to imagine how they get through life when they come UNGLUED over something so trivial.

Don't get me wrong, I like my mindless entertainment. However I would never freak out and call someone a cunt because I wasn't getting all my programming for free. I don't pay for my TV. We have 5 channels. I can watch the assorted things I am interested (god help me, America's Next Top Model) when I happen to remember when they're on. I hope someone slaps the life out of me the day I treat another human being the way some of these people do my agents and me.

When I spoke to my mom this evening to make plans for which day of the weekend I will take her to the store and help with bed changing and such -- I could hear the grandmonster in the background calling out "Help Me... Help me!" It's crazy making. As soon as you go in, she either doesn't remember calling out, or she is asleep and calling out, or wants something like a drink of water. We have given her a bell, but she won't use it. Use the little remote for the bell to pound of her nightstand? Heck yes, call out "I'm dying!" yes she loves that one too. However it's not like you can ignore it. What if she has fallen out of bed? What if something is really needing to be done. It's kind of like standing on the starting blocks of a foot race -- ALL DAY. Your muscles jumping involuntarily at the slightest noise. Cancer is an ugly thing. Old age isn't so swift either. Slowly stealing your mind and the words you have used for more years than not.

It's a lot like death...or intelligent design or whoever you would like to credit for existence gets you ready for this part of your life by slowly taking things one at a time. Food becomes less enjoyable, your body temperature is as accurate as the thermostat on a VW...hot...cold...hot...cold. You can see the exact thing you want and the word is not there. Maybe a blanket is a cat, your granddaughter is your dead son, whatever. Like growing in reverse. You become more dependent, you can't get yourself to the bathroom, can't feed yourself. All the milestones your parent's glowed over, your family now aches for you as you lose. Finally you just stop. Back to the simplest of forms...and then you become goo. Just like you started. Horrible to watch for the second time.

I am going to head up to the loft in our apartment to paint and lose my mind for a bit. Wipe my brushes on my shirt and pretend there isn't anything but my yellow table and the pile of stuff around me.

and if you say the word

My grandmother is slowly declining. My mom is up most of the night listening to her call out, going into her room, to be turned away. Then she is changing her at 3:30 in the morning and waits on her all day while caring for her babysitting charges. I talk to her everyday. Today she sounded completely exhausted.

I am exhausted. Only supervisor at work from 6 am until I finally escaped. I never get out of there on time. I cannot say no to someone with a question or who needs help. I feel guilty for wanting to get home and collapse. I feel like I should be at my folks' house. Our apartment is a pit at the moment and I can't stand the thought of cleaning. I feel beaten down.

Birthday came and went with mellow fan-fare. Some of my friends hung out with us. Low-key but good. I can't believe I am 36. I am glad to a point that my earlier journals are no more because I know if I read them back I would be disgusted at myself and my overall lack of growth. My biggest accomplishments are my promotions and performance at work. Me. The one who wanted to be a stay-at-home mommy more than anything. No kids, just a job. A job I put way too much of myself into so that when I make it home I am wiped until I go back.

I am trying like hell not to get frustrated with Tom and his not working. I know it's hard for him and I know he needs to get his meds straight but some days I want to cry when I walk into the house and he's either just getting out of bed or possibly he's been up an hour. Nothing clean, no trash taken out. I have to make dinner and think about laundry and anything else that should be done. It wears on me. A lot. I don't want to become a complete nag or horrible to be around. But damn it I could really use some help with everything that is going on. If not with the bills, then with the place I want to feel the most comfortable.


I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground

Ok I admit it! Blogger has seduced me with it's insanely easy to format posts and templates! Damn damn!

Hubby is sleeping with the kitty in a little ball at his feet. Too cute. Alrighty -- just trying this for now. Will undoubtly vent and spew and otherwise expend bandwidth later