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!


Sandy said...

Cherie, I'm so glad you can rest now and be at home. I hope you get good rest before the next unrest comes upon you. With moms and dads at the age we're at can mean a lot of ups and downs. As for your mom, the love that surrounds her shows a lot of what her character is. I wish you all good health.

Sandy said...

Happy Mother's Day to you also!

liz crumlish said...

You remain in our prayers. And you are so right about the power of words and love. Spirits can be united and rekindled even though physical bodies have never met. This day of pentecost we soak up again that inimitable indefatigable spirit of God that knows no bounds and bridges all gaps. It is wonderful too that in this time of trial all of your family have come through and not been found wanting. That must surely say much about the parenting you knew as well as the parenting you lavish on your young. blessings abound indeed. x

tony said...

Your Love Is Impressive.Look after Yourself & Stay Strong.
It's odd how as we grow older the roles reverse & we become "parents" To Our Parents.
I hope your Mom improves.
love from tony.

Wandering Coyote said...

I'm also glad you're home now so you can rest and renew yourself after such a stressful time.

Happy Mother's Day to you, Cherie!

Marianne Elixir said...

Thanks for the update Cherie.

You are a wonderful mother and daughter, Happy Mother's Day most especially to you today.

You have my love and prayers.

deanna said...

I'm glad you're home safe and cherishing the good. You are a blessing to those around you, Cherie, and I pray you'll be blessed more through the days to come.

Happy Mother's Day. I hope you're resting!

Momentary Madness said...

I hope for you Mum to reover; just words I know, but all we have mostly.
What will be will be- be strong.

Cherie said...

Thanks again, everyone! Tom and I ended up going down to see Mom in her rehab center for awhile on Sunday afternoon. She had cards and flowers and a few visitors - she's so tired. Her heart acted up and the therapist was surprised. He curtailed the p.t. he had planned for her and has to call the doctor.

There's something just not right with Mom besides the detectable. The doctors, nurses, therapists, and we, her family, are stumped. Is it mental? Emotional? A physical problem not discovered? And then this thing with her heart. Her symptoms are those of heart failure. But the cardiologist assured us her heart would recover. Will is take longer? Was he wrong? So many questions.

Mom - as we know her - is unaccounted for. She's locked away somewhere in her head and we aren't able to access her. In her place is an emotionless, staring, mono-syllable responding, well, pitiful creature, who occasionally chuckles at our joking around and weakly smiles now and then.

A roller coaster - but you guys give good advice. I'm taking it, along with my own inner instincts, my faith, and the closeness of my family here as sustenance. All these things are helping me keep my bearings and even have some energy and clarity left over to lend a hand to family members who are having a harder time coping.

Sean is right - what will be will be.

I have this week off while others do the tending to Mom and Dad, then I have another shift down there.

I feel like I'm living in a dream world trying to do my normal stuff here at home while my mind is swirling with thoughts, puzzling things over, wondering what is going to happen, and how can I help Dad even more. It's weird.

His Love is the Theme of My Song said...

Sis, you've expressed this experience just as I feel inside. I love you and thank you for your heart and love to our mom and dad. We can rest in God's plan, His timing, His will, His coaxing us to a deeper relationship with Him through this journey. My prayers are with you, and I love you...

Gardenia said...

It is normal in the midst of this crisis to have sort of "unreal" or dreamlike feeling(s) - I think its our mind's way of cushioning us, to make us able to do what we have to do, rather than crumple in grief.

Your mom sounds worn out - she is conserving her energy - again a natural reflex. I look at her holding the baby with such joy on her face and she's so full of life there.

She's a very lucky mom to have you guys batting for her. And its a lucky dad whose kids will say "ok, dad, its time to learn to care for yourself." If your mom does go home, keep an eye on him so that he doesn't want to slip back to his old role - he may need to care for her for a while.

"H" has had a very hard time coping with my limitations, very hard, but then he won't get any help either - there are numerous resources to cope emotionally when you lose someone's ability to be the dynamo they were before a life threatening illness. The hospital should have a social worker who can give you a list of resources to tuck away in case they are needed.

Anyway, enough advice. Rest.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Janet. We'll get through it with each other's help and a whole lotta God!

Gardenia: Your experience and wisdom give me good things to consider. All of it helps.

You are astute to mention the possibility of Dad slipping back into his old role. I think that's one of the things that Mom is concerned about. She even said that Dad wants her home, "So I can go back to doing everything." Thankfully I talked with him about it and he says he wants her home so he can care for her - he feels helpless to provide and care for her while she's away. BUT, like you said, it's a real possibility that as she recovers he'll want to rush things. That's been his way. Yikes!

For now, as an update for everyone, Mom is resisting her physical therapy. She's proving to be a, well let's say challenge for her therapists and nurses - and the rest of us. My son, Ben, is down there now and he's asking questions and looking at things from his point of view, which helps. His energy is appreciated as we older ones are finding ourselves fatigued.

Thanks again, J and Gardenia!

Marianne Elixir said...

Thanks for the updates. I am encouraged to know that your family is coming together and supporting each other so well. I am praying this will be a time that will actually bless your family as a whole, whatever God might have planned for your mother and her strong will.

Love and hugs from me.

Cherie said...

Your prayers echo ours Marianne. Thanks!

cecily said...

Cherie, you describe your family beautifully. While we can leave comments and encouraging thoughts and prayers, I'm so glad you have family all pulling together. Strength is there! I'm glad you all have strength together.

Cherie said...

Arms of encouragement and strength come from all over, don't they Cecily. Thanks for your kindness and insight.