Thursday, June 26, 2008

Up From the Soil

Scenes like this are taking place all around leaving my mind silent but for the pleasant whispers of contentment and curiosity. Watching, listening, smelling. Soaking it all in.

Words can't do the beauty justice.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Another Mom Update

Yesterday Mom had her follow-up appointment with her neurosurgeon. He gave her the all-clear! He'd done a culture with the biopsy material to make sure there were no diseases or anything unpleasant like that. Nope. She's fine.

Now she is free to really tackle her therapy to strengthen her weak legs so she can get up out of that wheelchair.

What a journey. I remember a few weeks ago feeling elated that she could sit in a wheelchair. Now we move to the mastery of a walker, then a cane, then TA-DA, her own two feet.

S l o w l y. S l o w l y. I must remain patient. Everything in its time, in its order, in its place.

Now, about Dad. He's doing fantastic! He's not worrying about the bills anymore but is content to let them sit there until one of us can get down to pay them. He's been staying home on his own for a few days at a time and seems to be getting back to his normal routine of doing a little work around the house, hauling stuff to the dump, typical Dad-type stuff. He drives up nearly every day to visit Mom and is happy to see her cheerful and pain-free. He eats lunch with her at the center. He looks relaxed, his eyes are clear and bright. He even seems to have a bit more energy. He and Mom are getting their heads together and talking again like the team they've always been. The independence is returning and they are not wanting their kids to tell them what to do so much. This is a sign I've been waiting for because it means they want to get back to their life, they aren't afraid, they don't need us in the same way.

Just as parents let go of children a finger at a time, I find it interesting to let go of my parents a finger at a time, the grip loosening as they find their inner strength again. Still holding on till they get all their balance back, but enjoying feeling the confidence under my grip once again.

We've got a little ways to go but things are progressing nicely and as I'd hoped.

I'm going out to work in my neglected garden.

It's a beautiful day!

Thanks and appreciation to all of you pray-ers out there!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Too Many Geese

Cassie, Caroline, and I went for a long bike ride on Saturday. On the park's walkway we noticed chalk markings for a race that had taken place. There were mileage notes, directional notes, and this note...

...which cracked me up!

I don't know why but there were five times as many geese pecking the grass at the park as usual. Poop was everywhere - some of it carefully circled for runners to avoid.
Rather than track our tires through it we just turned around and peddled the other way.

Tom and Sammy joined us as we walked back later to take a picture.

Because, like I said, it made me laugh.

Guess I'm feeling better, heh?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Man in the Moon

Fledgling amateur that I am, I have a hard time capturing a decent photo of the moon. But I do adore the moon! It comforts me somehow, like a big granddaddy in the sky watching over me.

A few nights ago my husband and I arrived back into town from a fatiguing weekend of 'parent care.' A gigantic orange moon - with a very visible smiling man of craters on it - had just lifted from the Cascade Mountain Range to greet us. The weatherman said it was closer to the Earth because of solstice, mid-summer, thus the up-close and personal viewing, and dark coloration. The 'why's' don't concern me; I am just glad to have been outdoors, available to see the sight. I hope you were able to get a good summer solstice moon viewing, too!

(I had my camera on a different setting for the second photo so the orange is washed out. Like I said, I don't know what I'm doing - but I try. ;)

"In the east a shaded moon is hanging lazily, I do believe I saw the old man smile. I do believe I did. I do believe that he's been laughing all the while." ~~ John Denver

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Seven Years in a Day

Mom fell hard, smack on her bum seven years ago and thus began the compression fracture of a lumbar disc. She never told anyone back then, keeping the mild aches and pain to herself. "I felt stupid for falling and didn't want anyone to know, " she now says.

The severe sepsis she experienced in early May inflamed her body, most noticeably her already painful lower back.

For nearly seven weeks she's been away from home existing in various degrees of misery.

She went into surgery on Monday afternoon.

Christmas arrived when she awakened from the anesthesia a few hours later.

No pain.

First time in seven years.

What a gift!

On Tuesday morning she was giddy, grinning, grateful. No kid on Christmas morning has ever been happier than Mom was yesterday in the middle of June, in a stuffy hospital, on a chilly morning.

The tiny, sweet physical therapist asked Mom to stand up and with help and guidance Mom stood straight up. Straight. Up. Tall. No hunching, no leaning, no bending. She was the Mom I remember with the square shoulders and perfect posture.

Dad looked at me astonished. I'm sure my face registered amazement as well.

One short procedure at the hands of a friendly, soul-patched neurosurgeon and Mom's quality of life has been restored.

While we waited for the transport back to the rehabilitation center Mom, Tom, Dad, and I played hang-man on the white board in Mom's hospital room. It was like old times. Mom sat in her wheelchair as though she was in her family room chair, playing a game, laughing, completely relaxed, no pain.

"She's fine now," said Dr. Soul-Patch. "All she needs is to regain her strength and she's good to go."

Good to go.

Is this really the home-stretch? Are there any more 'surprises' of the discouraging kind? Are we really only weeks away from Mom and Dad back home again, living independently, better than they've been for seven years?

Time will tell.

Mom asked me to thank all of you compassionate souls who've been praying for her, sending good thoughts our way. I join her in relaying appreciation while asking you to keep it up please and thank you.

Today Mom is relaxing in her rehab room, reading her novel, wearing her comfy back brace for extra support, smiling. I am home. I slept all night for the first time in weeks. Weeks I tell you. As I mentally scan my body I find that there is no tension anywhere. No grinding teeth or clenched jaw. No squeezing fists. No holding my breath. No furrowed brow or downturned concentrating mouth. No tension anywhere.

This day I will allow myself to relax.

And hope.

And pray.

And thank God for His mercy, knowing the outcome could have been much different.

Mom's not home yet, but someone turn on the porch light and unlock the door. We're on our way!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Balloon Kyphoplasty

From the neurosurgeon we learned that Mom has a vertebral compression fracture low in her back. There is possible infection in the bones there as well.

On Monday she will undergo a biopsy to discern if there is any infection. If yes, she's back on very specific antibiotics for awhile before she can have any repairs made.

If there's no infection she'll undergo balloon kyphoplasty right then and there. Hopefully that will take care of the residual pain she's been experiencing, those twinges that remain after the steroids removed the bulk of her misery. I shall keep you posted.

My brother and sister-in-law took Mom for her pre-op appointment today. All her vitals are perfect! Such good news. She's strong. She is walking with a walker - cautiously and with a bit of help - but doing fantastic. She has upped her stationary bike riding from 15 minutes to 20. We are all quite excited! She's a strong, determined woman. We are very proud of her.

I'll post again about Mom once I return from my few days down south next week where I'll join the same sister-in-law as we help Mom get to the hospital for her surgery on Monday. Tom will join us.

Dad is being brave. He worries but is not as frantic today. My brother is a calming influence on him and today was good for Dad. Next week Tom will help Dad with some guy stuff around the house that needs attention. I know when stuff gets nutty for me it helps to have women around to talk with, for understanding you know. I think it's the same with Dad. The men coming around seem to give him balance somehow. It's good.

We're all feeling relaxed and hopeful going into the weekend and Father's Day. There's less frenzy today.

And I'm rambling!

Stay tuned...

(The photo of Mom was taken last weekend when she was given a quarter-pounder and chocolate milkshake from McDonalds, long-time comfort food for her, as the contented smile on her face clearly reveals. She's so cute...)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Brunch...Why Not?

After sleeping late then lingering in bed discussing the happenings of recent days, letting the cool air breeze around us as we watched the new birch trees sway, sway, sway, Tom and I decided to get up and have brunch. Right then. On a Thursday.

We've been moving too fast lately, hurrying here and there, doing this and that. So we stopped. And we brunched. I should have taken a picture but, no, I'm glad I didn't. It was private. On our new patio surrounded by various sized pots full of flowers, herbs, and a jolly little hemlock tree.

It felt, to us, like we'd slipped away to Italy. Our little outdoor tile table that Ben gave us when he moved soon became laden with a tea pot full of Jasmine tea, small Japanese tea cups, a glass bowl of just-right cantaloupe chunks, plates supporting scrambled eggs with fresh spinach and scallions, toast with organic local strawberry preserves, and some of Cassie's peanut-butter chocolate-chip cookies.

We laughed. Out loud and hearty. We ate. We sat back in our chairs, set down our forks, noticed the blue sky, the flowers, each other. Forks back in hand, knives spreading red berries on toast, bodies leaned in to catch every word, every wink, every gleam of the eye.

The kids instinctively stayed away, shyly smiling at their parents.

From behind our fresh green and blossoming foliage we heard the neighborhood living, moving, whistling through the lovely late morning.

Settled us right down.

The rest of the day has been most pleasant.

Serendipity. One of my favorite words.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


With lights flashing the ambulance sped past my pulled-over SUV. For a long straight stretch I watched that transporter of precious cargo, amber and red pulsing, as it hurried north up I-5 creeping further and further ahead until it was out of sight around many bends in the freeway.

"Lord, please give understanding and wisdom to all involved in whatever emergency lies inside that rescue vehicle."

How we humans cling with tenacity to life. We strain to keep the living among us. Most of the time.

Sometimes our efforts are futile, life ends in spite of all our knowledge, our longing, our prayers.

It goes the way it's supposed to, each person in his time. We in our western culture are overly protected from death, I think. We have visions of grim reapers, pain, sadness. Tragedy. But it's not always tragedy. It can be beautiful, death. When one has lived a full life, when wisdom has been imparted, gifts offered, love profusely expressed, well, it's not so terrible a thing to pass on to the next world. To be at peace at last.

The more one notices - experiences - death as part of the life cycle the more precious is life and living. Delicate moments and ages are fully appreciated when one understands their transiency. Words left unsaid by the disinterested are uttered by those who feel the breezes of change, sense the certainty of cessation.

And it's good to notice, to appreciate, to understand, to touch and sense life...and death.

My mom told me she loved me last week.

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too, Cherie."

It's the first time I can recall her directly speaking the words to me. I've always known she loves me and I've told her my feelings many a time. It took this life and death scare for her to find her voice. She doesn't like to cry, you know how it is. And it can be emotional to verbally offer up love when you aren't used to doing so. She wanted me to know. It has made a difference.

No, looking at death isn't all bad. Many a good comes from staring the truth straight in the eye. Good, such as feelings formed into words, actions toward those we love and take for granted, relationship and behavior revelations, spiritual testing which confirms and condemns then encourages.

Yes, under the surface of 'everyday life' - and in the midst of death itself - there are treasures for those who dare seek them, treasures hidden under fear, discouragement, disappointment, change... and tragedy.


Mom rode a stationary bicycle, "The kind that moves your arms, too!" for fifteen minutes a day ago. My mom, dad, and their four kids - me included, obviously - plus my sister-in-law gathered in Mom's rehab room Friday evening with the hope of 'all of us getting on the same page.' We live hundreds of miles apart so a face-to-face was quite helpful. A wonderful event, a party! Mom looks and sounds like herself 100%. Dad is more relaxed, though he's still a bit of a worry-wart. I baked cupcakes and gave one to each of us saying, "Every party needs cake!" We laughed together, ate cupcakes together - Mom was silent as she savored hers, licking the frosting off her fingers; it was cute. We planned and prayed together, parting after the sun had set but the sky was still light, the earth fresh from an early summer rain storm. I floated home alone, happy. We'll know Wednesday whether Mom will need surgery to repair herniated discs or some other procedure. Either way she should be home by the end of the month. Knowing her, it will be sooner. She's back! The fire is back in her belly, and the light in her eyes. So much have we learned from all of this. So very very much. Thanks, everyone! We're almost there.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Family Gathering

UPDATE- Thursday, June 5: Mom took steroids today and already her back doesn't hurt at all most of the time. "Only if I twist do I sometimes get a little twinge," she told me just now. She's sooo excited. She can stand now. "I feel really strong in the morning and can take steps. At the end of the day after therapy I am tired so not as strong." We're told it's possible she can be released within a week if the changes experienced today continue, for she's moving around amazingly. She can get out of bed, get into her chair, and more. We're all giddy with happiness for our mom. Wednesday is the doctor's appointment that will tell us the results of the bone scan and what we can expect from then on out. Surgery may be needed for some potential disc trouble, but we are told if it necessary it will be minor. Praise God! Thanks to all of you faithful friends who send prayers and good wishes out for us all. I'll keep you posted here until Mom is home safe and sound and happy. There are still things that could go awry - as in all of life. For now, though, I am rolling around in this good news! Yippee!

P.S. The photo is of my two daughters, my dad, and my oldest sister, for those who may wonder.

Early MRI results on Mom's tests are showing a possible crushed disc or two in her lower back, where the pain has centered for a month. The bone scan results have not been shared with us yet. June 11th is the doctor appointment.

"Patience. Patience."

But we want to know now.

It looks like it's nothing terribly serious and something potentially fixable.

This cheers.

Mom looks better than I've seen her in a long time. Dad looks rested, though he still cannot completely relax. He's trying, though and that makes a world of difference.

After spending an entire enjoyable day with my sister, my dad, my daughters, and my mom (poor Dad, huh, all those females!) at the hospital Monday helping Mom prepare for tests, waiting for tests, and helping Dad find places to rest his head, the girls and I are happy to be home.

It's quiet today. First time in a month. The phone isn't ringing much. I fell asleep. For three hours. It's like I am able to breath again, as though my mind, my emotions, and my spirit have calmed enough to let my body rest.

'Tis good.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday June

June arrived gently, sweetly, with an easy tone about her.

Sage and lavender
Colorful petunias
Last rhodie buds
Tomato blossoms
Baby lettuce
Sugar snap peas
Green bean life
Sweet basil.

June. Newness all around.