Friday, January 27, 2012

4th generation

Today, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my mom. We started out having lunch with my great aunt, her granddaughter (which is obviously my second cousin), and her great grandson (adorable 5 month old, Paul). Aunt Nona is 93 years old and I love listening to her stories from years ago. So first, my great grandmother actually graduated from Tempe High. I'm not sure when but I will say, my grandpa was born in 1921 and he had and older sister (Aunt Nona) and older brother (Uncle Freddy). Then, my grandpa, otherwise known as Papa or Buster, graduated from Tempe High and my mom as well. I actually graduated from McClintock because I was in the boundaries for McClintock. My great grandma actually sold property to ASU. I think my favorite story today from Aunt Nona was when she said she'd been driving since she was 16 years old (she's now 93) and has only been in one accident, which was the other person's (he was drunk) fault. She still drives, not much but she does. She just renewed her driver's license last year and it doesn't expire for 5 years (that's entirely different story... can you imagine!).
Well, after lunch, it was time to move my grandma into a new group home. I haven't talked about my grandma before (my mom's mom) but she has dementia and moved to a group home last September or October. It's better because she really needs someone with her 24/7. When I was younger, I wasn't very close to my grandma (my other grandma yes and papa was by far the grandparent I was closest to) but grandma, I just wasn't close to her (again, another story). Over the last couple of years though, I've helped my mom take care of my grandma and my grandma is like a totally different person now. She's nice and sweet and I just love her to death. So today, when I showed up at her new home, my uncle, aunt, and mom were moving her into her new room. My grandma just seemed a bit 'lost' and you could tell she didn't know what to do. She was aware this was her new 'home' but in reality, she just wants to go back 'home'. We tell her she cannot and that this is better for her. I truly believe that. My mom goes to the home about 5 times a week to see my grandma and hopefully when my mom retire's, she can move my grandma into her house.
Anyways, when I got to the house, I told my grandma to come sit down with me. That way she wasn't wandering and following everyone. I told her how excited I was for her to be in a new home with a lot more people. I asked if she had met any of them (there were about 5 women out in the living room watching tv). My grandma said yes and she told me "they're old". I laughed and said "well grandma, you are old too". She laughed and I asked if she knew how old she was, she told me "I'm 60". I really laughed because my grandma is 90, almost 91 (in May).
My grandma makes me laugh now and I love spending time with her. It doesn't bother me she'll ask questions over and over. I love how she sees a building, such as the BOA building at Southern and Alma School, and tells me how big the building is. Or how she tells you how pretty the red car is! I love that she knows who I am but cannot remember my name. I'm glad that I've spent this time with her and been there to help my mom. Maybe just the last couple of years, I've realized how important my family is. My mom, my dad, my grandma (the only living grandparent I have).
Oh- and I'm kinda proud to be 4th generation that grew up in Tempe.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

6 months

6 months ago, I was in the hospital in Fairbanks. I had landed almost 72 hours earlier and went straight from the airport to the hospital. I didn't leave until... until my dad was gone. 6 months ago, I was probably sitting next to his bed at this time. Wanting things to change. Wanting my dad to be ok but knowing that it was time. 6 months ago, I made phone calls to his brothers and sisters so I could put the phone next to his ear and they could say good-bye. 6 months ago, I laid next to my dad in his hospital bed, holding his hand, my head on his shoulder, and I slept. I felt comfort next to him, I felt safe and content. 6 months ago, I told my dad I would be ok. That he could go, he could go with mom and his dad now. 6 months ago, I told my dad how much I loved him. How much he meant to me. How much I appreciated everything he had ever done for me. 6 months ago, I let go of any pain or hurt I had and I forgave him for things that he never understood. 6 months ago, I sat in a hospital room, making plans for my dad after he passed away. What funeral home, signing papers, helping nurses when they moved him so he wouldn't get bed sores. 6 months ago, I was at my dad's feet, helping the nurses, when I saw her face, the nurses face. Then I saw her lips move and I heard her whisper to the other nurse... he's not breathing. 6 months ago, I looked at the nurse and I knew, I knew my dad had let go. 6 months ago, I ran next to his side, I hugged him, I cried, I told him I loved him, and I said good-bye to my dad's body. 6 months ago I called my mom at 11:30 at night and told her how much I loved her. 6 months ago, a part of me died.  

This song, I Won't Let Go, by Rascal Flatts, makes me think of my dad. It makes me remember how much I wanted to fix him and make him feel better. It makes me realize how life changes. When I was born, he wanted to protect me and keep me safe. In his final days, I wanted to protect him and keep him safe. 

It’s like a storm
That cuts a path
It breaks your will
It feels like that
You think you're lost
But you're not lost
On your own
You're not alone

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go

It hurts my heart
To see you cry
I know it’s dark
This part of life
Oh, it finds us all
But we’re too small
To stop the rain
Oh, but when it rains

I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let you fall

Don’t be afraid to fall
I’m right here to catch you
I won't let you down
It won't get you down
You're gonna make it
Yeah, I know you can make it

Cause I will stand by you
I will help you through
When you’ve done all you can do
And you can’t cope
And I will dry your eyes
I will fight your fight
I will hold you tight
And I won't let go

Oh I’m gonna hold you
And I won't let go
Won't let you go
No, I won't

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


He had Hepatic encephalopathy. 
My mom reminded me tonight. 
Symptoms many begin slowly and gradually worsen, or they may begin suddenly and be severe from the start.
Symptoms may be mild at first. Family members or caregivers may notice that the patient has:
  • Breath with a musty or sweet odor - not sure about this one
  • Change in sleep patterns - totally...  but thought it was due to his PTSD. He started sleeping during the day and was awake at night, effecting going into work prior to his retirement.
  • Changes in thinking - yep
  • Confusion that is mild - yep
  • Forgetfulness - he disagreed but he did
  • Mental fogginess - can you say discombobulated??? Definitely
  • Personality or mood changes - Totally noticed changes beginning in April 2008
  • Poor concentration - Yes
  • Poor judgment - In my opinion, definitely!
  • Worsening of handwriting or loss of other small hand movements - Handwriting, yes. Small hand movements, I'm not sure about that one
More severe symptoms may include:
  • Abnormal movements or shaking of hands or arms - in the end, yes
  • Agitation, excitement, or seizures (occur rarely) - oh yes
  • Disorientation - see discombobulated
  • Drowsiness or confusion - sleeping for 4 days in a row would be yes on drowsiness and confusion would be equivalent to using a fork to open a can of peaches, I'd say yes.
  • Inappropriate behavior or severe personality changes - I saw things that didn't seem like my dad and in 2008, there were some personality changes that I'd say were equal to the personality changes.
  • Slurred speech - yep
  • Slowed or sluggish movement - definitely at the end. 
    Read here for more information on Hepatic Encephalopathy
So this explains some of his decisions. Decisions I am dealing with now and decisions that still make me wonder if I was good enough for him. Did I let him down? I hate having these thoughts, thoughts I've always had but I know in my heart that he did love me. He was proud of me. I did not let him down. The decisions made were only done because he thought he was doing the right thing. He had hepatic encephalopathy. He just didn't want to deal with it all. Hell, I don't want to deal with it now either but I will and I will not back down. 
So dad, if you are listening, please keep giving me strength because I know if this situation was a little different and it was in regard to mom, you'd tell me to not back down. To look out for me. That blood is thicker than water and your family is who will be there in the end. 
Life is definitely not fair but seriously world, when someone's down... can ya stop kicking? Thanks!