Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This morning a sleepy-eyed, pajama-clad Cassie walked out of the bathroom here in the original part of the house. On auto-pilot she turned, grabbed the doorknob to her old bedroom, twisted it, and walked into the now empty space.

"Wrong room," she said with yawning authority.

Turning about-face, she tucked her head, and walked away toward her new room, far far away.

We're all disoriented and it's kind of funny!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movin' In

Finally, after nearly 18 months of planning, building, and paying we are moving into our new addition!!

We've slept in the new bedrooms for half a week now and are still not used to them - it'll take some time. It's like waking up while on vacation in a strange new paradise. Pretty nice.

Still working on the closet rods, touching up paint that was nicked during the long months after the paint was spread, and sorting out twenty years of stuff from the old bedrooms. Don't want to take a bunch of dusty has-been type stuff into the new room. Toss it out!

Interesting thing, I've found I'm not so drawn to the computer these days. New creative projects leap at me and I catch their energy, responding with ideas and joy. I guess I don't need the creative outlet from the blogs that I did all these months when I've escaped to them during the hassle and strain of a huge building project.

Not a bad thing, and I burn waaaay more calories moving stuff around, shopping for furniture, and walking through a twice as big house.

Mom is still trying to get her legs under her with enough strength to hold her up. Parallel bars and therapists are her support now as her arms are still quite weak. But steps are being taken. Baby steps. We cheer her on.

Dad is exhausted. He's more of a worry for us now as he is just lost without Mom. Anxiety and panic have him in their grip, squeezing away sleep, appetite, and peace of mind. He's headed for the hospital himself if we can't find some way to calm him down. His mind keeps looping through the same worries, from beginning to end, no matter how many times we explain things. Very troublesome.

So that's my life these days - sweet and sorta sour. Isn't that everyone's life though, really, to certain degrees?

The Dalai Lama says that when we are faced with a problem we can ask ourselves two questions. First, is there anything I can do to help the situation? If so, do it. Second, if there is nothing I can do, will worrying help? No, it will not.

With that in mind I keep tabs on my folks doing all that I can for them right now. And I move into the new 'wing' of my home with happiness in the hopes that they, my parents, will get to visit us this summer, enjoying the bounty of our labor with us.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Mom has participated in therapy by ever increasing degrees for Six Days in a row!! Today will be the seventh.

Just as suspected the improvement is dramatic.

She can roll to her side in bed by herself and is getting closer to being able to sit up and dangle her legs over the edge of the bed on her own. She stood for a few seconds between parallel bars. She's letting us push her in her wheelchair around the center. Her mood improves daily. She's fighting to regain her life.

Bit by bit, movement by movement, recovery continues.

We are breathing again.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Peaceful and Still

As this sunset appeared last week song lyrics came to mind.

"The sky's all on fire,
And the night's slowly fading
Peaceful and still ends the day.

Here comes that big ol' prairie moon rising
Shining down bright as can be
The wind in the sage sounds like heaven singing
A song of Wyoming for me
A song of Wyoming for me."

~~from Song of Wyoming, by Kent Lewis

It's been a few years since I've seen a Wyoming sunset. Oregon sunsets can surprise, too. This timely vision last week worked its magic on me as it colored the heavens with various pastels, hanging a bright bold moon in the middle of it all. Lovely. Just lovely.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mumsy and Other Good News

I realize that I've been preoccupied lately with my mom's health here on this blog - and, well, in real life - but so it goes when you love someone.

Our goal for this week is for her to agree to rehab five days in a row. She's done four in a row so far and believe me, there's been a change in the wind, a corner turned in what feels like the blink of an eye. Not only is she agreeing but she's gritting her teeth through the pain, sitting up longer and longer, and performing arm and leg exercises in the in-between when relaxing in bed. She's eating her meals in the dining room with other kind and friendly patients, feeding herself, relaxing a little bit into the new routine.


...drum roll, please...


She's a bit happier. We're ecstatic!

She'll be doing wheelchair wheelies in no time!

The human spirit is amazing. Patients who've been at the rehab center longer than Mom, men and women who've experienced the valley of the shadow of death as Mom has, folks who are nearer the doorway to home, have been encouraging her, promising that if she does what the therapists suggest she will recuperate. The camaraderie is not only enjoyable but most uplifting. A beautiful thing to behold. I so enjoy the company of those strong, determined, kind people.

So, thanks again all you supporters of Mom's. Here's to Day 5! "You can do it, Ma!!"


More great news:

1. Caroline's braces are off as the previous post describes.

2. School's out as Cassie took her achievement test which marked the end for us.

3. We passed Final Inspection on our addition! No more government officials snooping around our hard work. Applause for Tom, please. He's done most of it.

4. David Cook won American Idol.

5. Ben's driving down, Joe's driving across town, and tomorrow we're all going to see Indiana Jones IV.

6. And, just to repeat myself, Mom is improving remarkably well this week.

I hope you'll take a few seconds to celebrate with us. It's been a long eighteen months and a hard hard May.

Good news - sweet like honey!

Wordless Wednesday - No More Braces!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Come Saturday Morning

*****UPDATE: MONDAY MORNING - Mom's personality is completely restored! She's out of hiding. She's herself again. Conversation is normal, animated, energetic. Her general stamina is returning - s l o w l y. But, her back pain remains and she's still lying flat most of the time. Those who read my little writings know that I believe in the power of sincere words and ideas. A 'from-the-heart' pep talk gave Mom the courage to do her occupational therapy yesterday. She'd been refusing. The longest she's been upright in a chair since May 1st has been half an hour - with much groaning and moaning from the pain. Yesterday, with a buoyed spirit, breathing through the pain, exerting herself even though it hurt she was up, doing therapy for SIXTY MINUTES!! She tried. Hard. And when it was all over, she knew she'd earned her rest. Normally the exertion of getting up at all exhausted her, pained her, for the rest of the day. Yesterday I asked her five minutes after she returned to bed, "How do you feel, Mom?"

Her answer, a cheery, "I feel pretty good!"

Jaw dropping moment.

And she felt good the rest of the day even with many visitors, therapy, and a shower (which normally counts as therapy to her, so painful and tiring is it - so it's like she had two sessions yesterday). She even asked when lunch would arrive - a first!

Those of you who pray and think kind thoughts, thanks so much. Our hope and goal for this week is five days in a row of therapy which means more helpful pep talks and more biting the bullet for Mom. She can do it. Her will is on the fence and could go either way. It's the deciding factor.

What a weekend it's been! I never know when I go down to see Mom and Dad what I'll find. When I first got there on Sunday Mom said she wanted to go home, she didn't need therapy, she would get her strength back eventually. All she needed was to follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion to realize that she had to go over 'Pain Mountain' to get to the other side, where her normal, happy life awaited. Words made a difference because she was receptive to them. From a low, discouraged vantage point we went to a remarkable high point - in the space of TWO HOURS.

I'll say it again: Never underestimate the power of love and words. And a strong-willed Mom!


Tomorrow I'll go down to help my parents.

Today, though, ah, it's starting out beautifully, the experience of it inspiring this. It made me feel good to write it; maybe it'll make you feel good to read it.

Happy Weekend!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Sunrise at Mesa Verde

Tom and I arose before sunrise to sip tea on the balcony while we awaited the sunrise over the mystical, beautiful land of the Anasazi Indians in Mesa Verde, Arizona. We were not disappointed. We were joined by rabbits, deer, chipmunks, yellow flowers, and tiny yellow birds. I remember the morning air as cool and pungent, full of the scents of sage and other desert aromas. I'll never forget it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

She's Laughing and Talking Again!

My brother just called and said that Mom sat in the chair for another half hour today - hated it, every single minute and let everyone know she hated it - but it was accomplished.

She's laughing out loud again, and cracking jokes. She's picking on Dad (a good sign, believe it or not) and she's talking in complete sentences a LOT which is more like her. She's complaining more - has the energy to do so. Part of the process, right?

The rehab center staff is doing an excellent job. Mom's doctor has done some fine tuning with the pain meds and other new orders that are helping a lot.

What an experience this is for us all!

Just thought I'd keep those of you praying and otherwise interested informed. A long way to go, but step by weary step we're getting there.

Thanks again!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch

I guess I must be hungry...


Mom did custom seamstress work at home for many years when we lived in California. I think she made this outfit for herself. She made the prettiest things for us all! She made my wedding dress when the time came.

Probably taken on Easter or some such event back in 1964, here's Mom at 37.

Full of energy and seldom still, I'm the smiling child on the left in the photo. Mom tells me I was always the one with 'the sparkling eyes', 'full of mischief'. Some things don't change, I guess, though I'd not be opposed to having half that energy back.

Looking back is filling in some of the gaps for me. While I don't enjoy the stress of these crazy days, I am enjoying the process of intense personal inwardness and refreshing reconnection with my family. It's been awhile. And it's good.

Mom's still hanging in there. My son, Ben, is down taking care of my folks for a few days. He and Dad have taken some crossword puzzles to Mom. She feels like doing them! Progress! Ben said she even cracked a few jokes - oh boy, tears are stinging as I write for this is good news - and that she's smiling and making longer sentences. She resists the physical therapy and that is bad. Ben is talking with the terrific staff and will give me a report later tonight. He and Dad are keeping the ball rolling, explaining to Mom as we all have that she can't go home until she can get up and move around. I'll keep you posted. I know many of you are coming to this blog for "Carolyn Updates". Thanks for your prayers and kindness!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Valley of the Shadow

**UPDATE**Monday, 5/12/08: For an update go to the ninth 'comment' on this post. Thanks!

Home again.

There's no place like home. Home is where the heart is. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. All true. So true.

This nest of mine more than sustains me. I can rest here, grow here, learn and share here, love here. And I can generously give and receive the encouragement necessary to each one of us. Bliss to be back here - at home.

While I was away helping my parents this past week the doctors said they were sure Mom would succumb to her 'rampant infection.' But she didn't. Her body fought it off quickly. Her heart is weakened, squeezing sluggishly, but needs only time to fully recover. Her joints have pain which keeps her drugged and flat on her back unwilling to do the moving and physical therapy her body requires to get its mobility back. She just lies there, a few notches better than catatonic. Her determination to get back to living seems to be on hold.

We join the doctors and nurses in being stumped. She's normally a fighter, spunky.

This journey for mom - for all of us - is far from over. In some ways it's just beginning. An uphill battle for sure.

Since we kids have all long-since moved away from our home town, where our parents reside - the closest of us being 50 miles away - we are learning to coordinate our efforts and work together. To help Dad become self-reliant in the face of Mom's long recovery process I taught him how to use his washer and dryer, how to run the dishwasher, how to write a check, make a deposit, and where to put his bills and statements until one of my sisters or I can do the paperwork Mom normally does. My sister taught him how to use his cell phone and cleaned his house, shopped for groceries. My brother is keeping tabs on Dad's wood needs for his woodstove. Tom is going to help him fix his pick-up truck. The great-grandkids are sending photos and cards, making crafts to hang in Grandma's room. The grandchildren are taking a day or two to drive Grandpa to the rehab center and make him meals and cookies when he's home. We are all doing what we can to make a difficult situation easier.

Limbo. We exist in a state of energetic limbo. Sort of a holding pattern, circling, circling, waiting to land and walk on solid ground once again.

And yet, already I see blessings taking off their disguises.

I don't know if Mom will live or die, if she will recover or remain bedridden for the rest of her life, but I do know that the love my brothers and sisters and I share is strong, deep, unwavering. I know that I am a good daughter. I know my husband is reliable, wise, and loving, my children kind, thoughtful, and capable. I know that my dad adores my mom.

And I know the kindness of strangers, the goodness of friends, and that in the heart of what sometimes appears to be a cold, cruel world there dwells a strong and certain bond among humanity that gently supports the weary, holding them in its steady embrace always - the hands of God.

A special enthusiastic THANK YOU to those of you who commented on my last few posts. While I was away tending to my parents with no access to a computer Cassie and Caroline printed them all up and had Tom hand-deliver them to me when he visited at the hospital. I have to say, I teared up. It's my desire that you understand that even though most of us have never met face-to-face your words washed over my fatigued heart, renewing me. Never ever underestimate the power of love and words! Thanks again! You're the best!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad with a new great-grandchild - my niece's firstborn - back in 2004.

I want them to be healthy and bright-eyed like this again. Now. Standing straight and tall.

But life creeps up on us, slams us when we aren't looking, when we take it for granted.

Patience. Trust. Embrace reality.

I have joined the ranks of so many in my generation who have kids at home and ailing parents a hundred miles away.

It's tearing me apart. I don't know how to do this.

But I'm learning.

And I'm not alone.

It's hard.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


My mom is ill. She's in the hospital. I spent a day with my husband, my dad, my sister, my brother, and a few other family members in the ICU Lounge waiting....waiting...waiting...all day that first day. No doctor showed up. The nurses gave us as much information as they could.

Mom is septic. And more, and more, and more.

Still we 'aren't sure.'

They are pumping her full of strong drugs whose side-effects need drugs of their own. Blasting her with antibiotics for everything that can possibly be wrong in the hopes that one of them will curb the infection, where ever it is, whatever it is.

Massive medical attack.

It frightens me, the drugs in Mom's system, flowing around and through her fragile vital organs.

I hold my head in my hands. I abhor the lack of control I experience.

This is my mommy.

I pictured her dead while driving down to the hospital that first morning, the same way I pictured my dad dead when he had his stroke over a year ago.

Why do I do that? Is it some sort of coping mechanism, to prepare myself? Am I demented? Macabre? Immature?

My grandpa was in the hospital in the early 80's when he was about mom's age. We prayed over his surgery. He did great! He recovered well and the day before he was to go home he choked to death on green Jell-O in the hospital, right in front of the medical staff who could not revive him. His heart couldn't take the choking.

That incident flavors every hospital stay my parents - or other aging loved ones - encounter. I know all the spiritual platitudes. I trust God for purpose. But he never says it's going to be easy or that the outcome is the pleasant one, the one we all desire. So, though I trust, still I am anxious.

I love my mom. I can't imagine her gone. My head shakes even as I type - no, no, no.

It's been a long week.

And we aren't done, yet.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New Angle Sunrise

After trying to get some good direct sunrise photos while standing on my front porch I happened to turn around and noticed the sunrise reflected in the large living room window right behind me. So I snapped this photo.

I was surprised at how it turned out - surreal, kinda weird, and yet, to me, intriguing. And surprised that the reflection blotted out what is normally visible through that window such as furniture, paintings, plants, and people.

The absorption of beauty had taken over the everyday....for just a few moments.