The Mom & Me Journals dot Net
The definitive, eccentric journal of an unlikely caregiver, continued.

Apologia for these journals:
    They are not about taking care of a relative with moderate to severe Alzheimer's/senile dementia.
    For an explanation of what these journals are about, click the link above.
    For internet sources that are about caring for relatives with moderate to severe
        Alzheimer's/senile dementia, click through the Honorable Alzheimer's Blogs in my
        links section to the right.

7 minute Audio Introduction to The Mom & Me Journals [a bit dated, at the moment]

Monday, January 05, 2009
By the way...
...I'm finally working my way "up" to a review of Dancing with Rose. I've had this book on my mind a lot, lately, since my mother's death, specifically because she and I narrowly escaped the possibility of her dying in a facility, for which I am grateful. I may not get to it before company arrives and, if not, probably won't get to it until after they're gone, but I'm writing it in my head, so, once I get started, it shouldn't take very long for the review to take shape and be published.
    Which reminds me, per this comment: I read the publicity blurb, forward and introduction to the book (linked in the comment by a url to the publisher's page promoting the book), then scampered over to Amazon and did a little more free reading through the "Search Inside" facility. Although the book describes the author's own grieving process after her mother's death, it also interweaves some intriguing thoughts about the possibility of Baby Boomer Grief having the potential to change some of the less desirable characteristics of the Grief Culture (specifically North American Standard Cultural Silence in regard to grief) with which many of us are familiar, thus, according to the author, allowing for a "healthier" grief process for individuals and communities. I haven't read the book and probably won't, thus I can't foursquare recommend it, but from what I was able to read, it appears to be very encouraging in regard to the grief-stricken heeding and following one's own grief prerogatives, with which I agree. It also highly recommends leaning on friends and family (assuming one has friends and family) and paying attention to one's own internal timing in regard to grief expectations.
    When I step out of my own "grieving process" I find myself thinking about varieties of the grief experience with which I am familiar: The extended Pagan Catholic wakes that took place on Guam, in which family and community noisily mourned the dead and often gambled away the dead person's assets; stories my father told about somber, silent wakes replete with pennies on the eyes of the deceased; one strikingly austere Buddhist service I attended a long time ago that, for some reason, struck a particularly resonant chord within me, perhaps because of the chanting; the grief journey of the heroine in Dances With Wolves who lost her young husband and is introduced to the hero while in the midst of a solitary, agonizing grief enactment (which is much better delineated in the extended version of the movie, released in 2007). I think about this last one, in particular, because this was one of my mother's all time favorite movies with which she closely identified. There are times when I have the urge to isolate myself, throw myself down beneath a sheltering tree and surrender myself fully to desolate grief in the same way this woman did.
    There are, though, other times, now, when I feel comfortable walking through my days with the memory of my mother, what I know of her life prior to our companionship and all the detail of our closely intertwined companionship. One of the more hopeful aspects of these times is my discovery that, since I am no longer protecting my mother from the thoughtlessness of what we currently call geriatric medicine, since I am no longer doing battle in any way on her behalf, I'm finding the world a friendlier, more optimistic place; much more the kind of place my mother found the world. I'm pleased that her outlook is a part of her personal legacy to me. I wasn't sure it would be, in fact, I was afraid exactly the opposite would be true. So much for the power of fear.
I'm pretending that the death certificates haven't yet arrived.
    I'm not sure how dicey this strategy is, but I have what is definitely a mental block and feels like a physical block against doing death business, right now, so I'm prepared to "suffer the consequences", if there are any. Luckily, one of the documents I'll need to continue with and complete death business won't be finalized until sometime this week, so I'm kind of within an acceptable time frame, I think. And, although I'm sure there will be some surprises I'll need to confront regarding such death business as taxes, changing property names, etc., I'm just not ready for that, yet. Just not. I know that if I am confronted, at the moment, with a particularly ticklish business dilemma I am liable to take the easy way out, just to get rid of the dilemma, and it's not a good idea to be in that position, I'm sure.
    In the meantime, I feel as though this week's visit with family, especially with the sister with whom I haven't yet visited, will help revive me...although, you know, who knows. At the very least, it will be the second to the last ceremony in our family's formal grieving process; the last ceremony being the military burial Mom's ashes will receive at the VA cemetery that displays my father's plaque, which will happen sometime during the early summer. Since my father's ashes were scattered at sea, my sisters and I have discussed using his urn for the interment of her ashes. I hope we're able to do this. This one act seems important in regard to laying them both to rest.
    I've read a fair amount, lately, about how imperative ceremony is in regard to coming to grips with a significant death. I know it must seem that "a party on me" doesn't quite fit the definition of "ceremony", but it is a tradition in my mother's family to do this and, as well, it honors her party spirit, which is significant for us, her survivors. It has been common for one or the other of us, throughout the years, to refer to her as the "original party girl".
    I'm thinking, for dinner tomorrow when the first group of family arrives, maybe some home made chicken soup, garlic toast, mmmmm....fragrant, savory, maybe I'll thicken the soup with a quick roux just before serving, definitely some kind of about cherry pie? That sounds good! With freshly whipped cream. I guess I'd better find out if the two arriving tomorrow even like cherry pie, I know at least one relative who doesn't, but she won't be here until after the cherry pie is gone, probably. Oh, I've got an even better idea for dessert, although it depends on its availability. Guess that means I'd better go grocery shopping today.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Grief Funk
    On the one hand, I'm feeling like I "should" get out and find a job, any job. Actually, I've already found one for which I'm sure I'd be hired. It's a surprising choice, surprising everyone including me, which is throwing the choice in doubt; and, it's a job that's always open, so it isn't necessary for me to sprint over and apply immediately. On the other hand, everyone continues to tell me that I've got time, which is true, take advantage of it, "pamper yourself," as one of my friends tells me. She also suggested "bubble baths", which would be, to me, torture, since I hate baths. "I will not do it Sam I am," I told her, laughing, to which she responded, "Well, then, what are you doing to pamper yourself?" I couldn't answer, although it occurred to me that I am doing nothing, which may be the way I'm pampering myself, since it's been a long time since I've done nothing. Wait to see how I feel in another month, many have suggested. In the meantime, I'm getting out little, moving little, feeling as though I'm cheating someone, not sure who and wondering if I'm indulging the immobilizing part of my grief and confusion, rather than living through it.
    Another wave of company rolls in Tuesday evening. I am sooo looking forward to this. Aside from really wanting to see MFS, the one who will be here the longest, looking forward to seeing MPNP and MPS again and thinking the visit may jump-start me, I'm pleasurably anticipating the sound of others besides myself and the kitties in the house, again. I'm truly surprised, and a little stunned, that it's hard for me to slip back into the habit of not only being alone but wanting to be alone. Being alone was so natural for me that I insisted on it for years. I used to describe being alone as my "up" time. I can tell that some kernel of me remembers this and loves my present solitude...but I'm having trouble taking advantage of it. Nothing seems natural, anymore. Reading, for instance. I always thought that, after my mother died, I'd probably begin focused, uninterrupted reading immediately. That's not happening. I have one book that I need to read, that I've promised to read, and I can't think of anything I less want to do. I pick up the book, read a page or so and think, "Oh, Jesus, what the hell did I just read!?!"
    Suppose my situation were urgent, I think. Suppose I had to scramble just to stay alive? You'd die, I think. Judging from how you're reacting, now, you wouldn't make it.
    At the moment, I'm editing a friend's novel as she polishes it for further agent solicitation. I'm working through a section in which the main character is grieving the sudden death of her husband. I'm so riveted by my friend's description of her heroine's grieving process that I'm having trouble objectively editing it. My situation perfectly echoes her heroine's, except that her heroine has just discovered that her husband spent the last few years of his life being bilked out of his $10mil/per year business. She truly has no resources. I've read this novel before. I know what happens...the heroine pulls it together, in a very quirky way, just in time...I can't imagine myself doing this but as I read I find myself putting aside editing duties and looking for clues that I'll be able to do the same, even though I'm not in the same financial straits. I am in the same emotional straits, though. I wondered, this morning as I polished off another chapter, if I'll find the resolution to the heroine's problems realistic, this time around.

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