21 May 2016

A bittersweet trip home

Haven't written here in about a month. It's been a crazy springtime. My father died in April after a long decline in health over the last few years. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in August and then wound up in the hospital Easter weekend because he couldn't sit up and support his weight. At that time, I learned from the paramedics that the falling was only going to get worse as the Alzheimer's progressed. While he was in the hospital for 2 weeks, the doctors found that he had a large malignant mass on his esophagus. He was sent home with Hospice and died right about a month later.

During this time my mother was especially agitated, calling the police in the middle of the night because she didn't want the caregivers around, kicking out the Hospice nurses, and generally trying desperately to gain control of an uncontrollable situation. Her mood swings were horrible and she refused to take any medication to help the situation.  

I am now in the process of applying for guardianship of my mother. She is unable to take care of herself and has fired all but one of the caregivers. This is not an easy process by any means. She needs me to pay the bills and help read things for her, yet she doesn't want to relinquish control over anything. One minute she thanks me for all the help and the next minute she's cursing me and threatening that God will take it out on me when I die. I do my best to stay strong and not take anything personally, but it's hard to be around her.

I am so very thankful for the friends and family (blood relatives and those who are not). They give me strength to get through this situation. We are all flying to Ohio next week for Dad's memorial service. It will definitely be a bittersweet trip.

13 April 2016

Hospice, Cancer, and the Whole Ball of Wax

The last month has been a blur. My father has been diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer, along with his earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis. He was admitted to the hospital the day before Easter because he kept falling and could no longer sit up, let alone stand and walk. In the hospital, a series of tests found that he had a heart arrhythmia and was malnourished. Then because of the falling, they did a series of brain scans and found that he had had strokes on both sides of his and that he also had a lot of tiny blood clots in his brain.

As the doctors performed many tests over that first couple of days, they found that there was a mass in his esophagus that was causing internal bleeding. When they performed scope procedure, a very large tumor was discovered. Because he was so under weight and because of how large and where the the tumor is, the doctors couldn't operate and really couldn't do much to shrink it. After a two-week stay in the hospital, the poking and prodding has now stopped. We decided to send him home. He is now resting as comfortably as he can in his own home with Hospice equipment and 24-hour caregivers.

While I am preparing for my dad's slow decline, I am now also having to battle my mother's inability to process the situation. That has been an even bigger challenge to me than accepting my dad's inevitable death. My mother just doesn't understand what is going on and that dad is very, very sick. She doesn't like the invasion of the caregivers (who are an amazing group of women, by the way). And she doesn't like it when she's not in charge. So there are fits of rage, explosive tantrums, and sessions of what seems like unending cursing. She has called the police on the caregivers and me, she has threatened lawsuits, and suggested that she'll walk back to Ohio if she needs to.  And while I'd like to just turn off the phone and forget about, I can't because one day there really will be an emergency and I will need to answer.

All that being said, everything I have learned through Al-Anon has really kicked in. I do not take anything personally. I always try to remember that I cannot control the words and actions of another person. And the idea of One Day at a Time is a reality. A good night's sleep makes all the difference in the world and that single day, a good day, can be perk me up for at least a week. :)

Spread Your Wings!

23 March 2016

Happy Easter

So grateful for my life, my family, and my chosen family. Without faith and trust, I would not be in this place.In my very limited life experience, I have found that it's better to make that difficult decision and trust in God that everything will eventually work its way out. Enough said.

Spread Your Wings!

15 March 2016

Back into Dating

Seriously...back into dating at my age. Never, ever have I ever imagined that would be happening again. But it is.

The original roots of this blog—my departure from academia and subsequent movement into the private educational sector—have kind of gone astray as my life has changed in oh so many ways over the last six years. Not only did I leave my academic job, but I am now divorced raising two young teens/pre-teens. To further complicate my life, I am now starting to dip my toes back into the wide open waters of dating.

While there may be men in my hometown, I am largely unaware of them...so I took to online dating. Seriously. Me. Rule #1—never even bother with someone who doesn't post a picture. I got taken right away by a scammer. Figure that out within 3 emails back and forth. Seriously, does my profile say "idiot"? 

Once I get past an email or two, I have mostly chickened out on a phone call or get together. It's been a long time and that proverbial horse or bike (pick your old adage) is just plain crazy. Meeting people is tough and getting to really know anything about them is even tougher unless you actually venture out on a date...

All that being said, I'm having a nice time in my middle age and I am not in any hurry.

Spread Your Wings (slowly, but surely)!

17 February 2016

Life at 50

Read a great list today and although I don't normally repost things like this, I'm going to make an exception today. The original article, 13 Habits of People Who Have a Fulfilling Life at Midlfe and Beyond was posted here http://alidavies.com/12-habits-of-people-who-have-a-fulfilling-life-at-midlife-and-beyond/. And a couple of the habits especially caught my eye.

#2—"They have created their own definition of success based on their values and what is most important to them..." Yes! It took a long time for me to figure this out, but success is definitely not based on the amount of money you earn, the fabulous trips you take, or anything else that is measurable by some kind of norm. To me, success is measured internally by what you to do make this world a better place. My kids mean the world to me and seeing them become successful young adults is the best!

#8—"They look after themselves..." You know when you're on an airplane and the stewardess reminds you that if there's a drop in cabin pressure you should put the mask on yourself before assisting those around you? Well, you can't help others if you've passed out. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically is an absolute must.

#11—"They don't take themselves or life too seriously." A big yes here! Life is meant to be lived. Have fun and Spread Your Wings!

30 January 2016

The Big 5-0!

Monday, February 1st will begin my 2-week birthday celebration! I try to roll it right into Valentine's Day so I give plenty of time for everyone to shower me with presents, singing, and general frivolity. This is a big year—not a "5" year, but a "0" year. And it's one of the biggest—5-0. This means I'm officially entering middle age (I plan to live to at least 100).

This year, I'm kicking it off by spending my actual birthday with 100 of my favorite people...the school is having its annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser to earn money for the Upper Elementary and Middle School students to go on their big Spring Field Trips. My daughter is in UE and she's heading to St. Augustine this year. Many of the parents and kids will be there and we'll all have tremendous fun. Last year I drew mustaches on all the kids (girls, too) and gave them all chefs hats. Everyone ate like crazy and had a great time. I figure, what better way to spend my special day than helping everyone else work towards that field trip goal?

This was my goofball (left) with her BFF at last year's spaghetti dinner.

I'll be spending another day with close friends—the matriarch turns 70 a week after I turn 50. We're planning a double Over the Hill party and dinner to celebrate.

Then, I get to go hear my ultimate throwback favorite—Barry Manilow—with two close friends. I'm very excited about that one (don't laugh) since I haven't heard him in concert since high school. This is supposedly his "last" tour, although I think Cher has been out on at least 3 "last" tours in the last 2 decades.

Then we head into Valentine's Day and the kids are I are planning a big sushi weekend. Liam got a sushi kit for Christmas and he's been perfecting his California roll ever since. Livya and I are more than happy to taste test.

I am forever blessed to have my kids, my friends, and my school "family" in my life. There have been a lot of changes in my last decade, and while it's been a rough ride, I've gotten stronger, healthier, and landed on my feet a much happier person. Life isn't about the money or the things, it's about the people you have in it and how those relationships develop.

OK, I'll stop trying to be philosophical now.

Spread Your Wings!

26 January 2016

People-Pleasers and Co-Dependents

I don't normally repost from other bloggers, but I adore Amy Poehler's Smart Girls site. She has everything from how to choose the perfect dog to how to change a tire. The articles are empowering for both young girls and "old" women (like me) alike. She celebrates the accomplishments of brainiacs, athletes, and artists. And unlike so many negative sites, this one focuses on the positive whenever humanly possible.

Today, Smart Girls shared an article about People Pleasers (posted by Jenna Regan). If you've read just about anything else I've posted, you know that I am a former co-dependent. I spent years trying to help everyone through their crisis. I was the "mother" of several music departments and tried to solve everyone's problems. The trouble was no one ever learned to solve their own problems and new problems kept coming up. So I wasted enormous amounts of time and mental energy trying to make the world perfect. And the world is not perfect.

I personally (my opinion only here) categorize people-pleasers as slow developing co-dependents. I definitely started out life as a people pleaser. At some point everyone needs to learn to stand up for themselves and respect themselves enough not to let people take advantage. There's a difference when you do something nice for a friend when the friend is the one asking/telling you to do it. I didn't figure all this out until I was in my 20s, but then had a tremendous backslide in my 40s. Not that I have it all figured out now, but now I am well aware of my need to say "no" when necessary. No one needs rescuing. And no one needs to be taken care of unless they are an infant or an invalid. Everyone needs to work out their own problems.

It's a really interesting article and definitely has a concrete example of how the mind of a people pleaser works. We all need to teach our children and young adults to stand up and respect themselves, but that doesn't mean you can't do a favor for a friend...


Spread Your Wings!