Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saying Goodbye.

As it turns out, the laptop is a good investment.  It's 10:30 on a Sunday night.  I woke up this morning planning a lazy day of laundry and being with my people, having celebrated Casey's twelfth birthday the day before.  I planned on driving up to see Nana next weekend.  I planned on a nice glass of red with Bill after dinner.  But then the phone rang and plans be damned. I'm 300 miles from home sitting in a Hospice House with Nana as she fades away from this world.  And all I can think of as I sit here is "write something".  Because I am with Nana.  And there is so much history.  So many laughs and lately, so many tears with no doubt more to come.

When I spoke to Moe earlier, I told her it is oddly peaceful sitting here in this beautiful facility, designed to allow people to die with dignity and free from pain.  Nana does not open her eyes.  She doesn't have a snarky remark or a reprimand for my absence.  She just lies there very still, her purpose now to take the last breaths her body has rationed her for 96 years.  I take her hand and fold her fingers around mine, so they stay locked.  So she knows I am here, despite everything that was designed to keep me at bay.  We are "real good", she would say if she could. We always have been.

Someone had turned on a radio in her room.  Christian music.  For some reason, this doesn't annoy me like it usually would.  I am not sure what I feel about religion, and I certainly don't have any Christian music on my iPod but for some reason, it seems right to have it playing very quietly.  Nana used to sing gospel songs.  I know Nana can't hear it, she doesn't have her hearing aids in and she is quite busy dying, so I suppose this music is meant for my ears instead.   

I take in Nana's room here at Hospice Home. Beige walls.  She would love that.  She pronounced it bay-JEH. Her whole house was beige, and she never understood why I wouldn't want my walls the same french vanilla ice cream color.  "Beige walls look nice and clean, Kimi.  You can never go wrong with beige."  

Beige walls aside, I am going to miss about a million things about this person.  I will never be able to make a kick ass pie crust from scratch without her to help me.  I will never again have a perfectly ironed tablecloth returned to me after Christmas dinner, packed in white tissue paper ready for the next holiday.  I will never eat deviled eggs that compare to hers.  I will (probably) never get told I should "get that weight off so everyone can see your pretty face" again.  I will not get to watch her delight in Halloween as the littlest trick or treaters struggle up to the door.  My life will be so much emptier.  No more hair day.  No more Comerica Bank and fighting over the pneumatic tube that will "steal her money" at the drive through.  No more scrambling to cover her as she lets an insulting remark fly in public.  What will I do now?

A few paragraphs written and ninety minutes later, we're still real good, thank you.  Just breathing and breathing and Christian music and the fan humming white noise.  My fingers tapping on the keyboard as my mind floods with memories.  Scotch and water before Saturday grocery shopping.  Lawrence Welk on the TV and Englebert Humperdink on the hi-fi. My Gramps painting her nails for her and laughing as she waved them in the air like windmills to dry them.  Alfred Dunner slacks in "petique" because they fit just right.  Gold "tongs" from Hawaii that she wore on her feet in the summer.  The bellow: "My kitchen is closed for the night!" as my Gramps and I raided the freezer for ice cream.   Monday was warsh day.  Warsh - not wash.  She was born in Mizz-or-rah.  Her birth certificate says her first name is Lola.  She loved my dogs.  She worshiped my daughter and bragged to everyone about my son.  My husband is "the only one who does right by her".  She was the most meticulous person I ever knew.  Heaven is about to be a hell of a lot cleaner.

It's 3am now. Her legs are cool and mottled. I wonder what is happening in the place she's in right now? Is she seeing the people she loves? Is there really no pain? Is she reliving the moments that made up her life? Her breathing has become more shallow. I catch myself holding my own breath, willing her to go and be at peace.  She looks so tiny in this bed.  The sheets are soft, and for that I am grateful.  No one should have to die on crappy hospital sheets.  I finally put my iPod on so I can hear Roxy Music instead of Adult Christian.  I knew that station would wear out it's welcome eventually.  It's hot in here, and I wish for the millionth time it was spring so I could open a window.  The moon is gorgeous and full, and Beth would be the first to tell me that Mercury is in retrograde.  I didn't even need the website to tell me that.  I will miss sharing our daily horoscope with Nana. I will miss her telling me I was the best birthday present she ever got.  I will miss our wine and wheat thins.  This is a friend that is so hard to let go.  

This is a life well lived.  This is a person well loved.  I will miss her more than she will ever know.  I will treasure this night alone with her for the rest of my days.

I will be real good again someday, because that is how she would want it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Words that suck.

Once a month, I have the honor (privilege, utmost joy, anticipatory glee) of four hours of art with five fabulous women.  Our evenings have been dubbed Luna Night, as we hold our summits on or around the full moon.  It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things in the universe.

We are a diverse group who, without even trying, simply connected.  It's a rare subject that is taboo with the Luna Crew.  It's a given that I will drive home with cheeks that hurt from laughing and a brain full of ideas to pound out on the keyboard.

That's when I thank the stars for Evernote, a snappy little app that allows me to temporarily dump my thoughts into a vault, thus reducing the number of expletives that flow from my mouth when I have forgotten yet another good idea.  On the way home from Luna Night, I babble away into my talk to text and marvel as my words are magically transcribed onto a cyber notebook for lock down until I am ready to write.  Evernote: my little helper, and highly recommended for the "over 40 everyone has sucked my brain cells dry" set.

I'm sure there are women out there whose Evernote is loaded with reminders such as: "Call Bitsy from the Junior League about the Spring Fling" or "Look for Swan's Down flour to make that cake Another Pinner says is genius".  My Evernote, however is streamlined into: write this, hear this, see this, and do this.  I have no patience for cupcakes and The Lunas are my own personal Junior League and in all honesty lately the "to-do" that is peck-peck-pecking at my brain is "go write something".  So, in honor of Evernote and the downward spiral of the Luna's last conversation; let's visit: Words I Despise. 

Have you ever noticed that you have an aversion to certain words?  As the Luna Crew huddled around Moe's fireplace at our last meeting, someone mentioned the word Hubby, then laughed as I cringed.  "What's wrong with Hubby?" I was asked.  And as I stared blankly into the fire, I realized I couldn't even come up with a rational reason.  I just plain hate the word. 

I am pretty sure Facebook sealed the deal for me.  Posts like "Ooooh, love my Hubby, he just ran a bubble bath for baby Everdeenkatniss.  How precious is that?" make me want to barf in technicolor.  People think they're jacking it to hipster level by saying "The Hubs", but that term makes the bile rise for me too.  The only person on Earth I allow to say "Hubby" around me is Nana, and that is only because she has dementia and I love her and she can say whatever she wants.  Please, everyone except Nana, can we just say husband?

Moist. Do I even have to explain? What a vile word.  Anything that can describe a cake and your underpants at the same time is wrong on every level.  The End. Which leads me to:

Panties. Ick ick ick.  I am 100% certain a man invented the word panties.  I am 95% sure he was a pedophile.  When a 60 something year old woman asked me to "help her off with her panties so she could make a potty" I practically peed my own scrubs.  Underpants.  So. Much. Better.  Utilitarian. Practical.  Wear them or not, your call, just don't say panties to me if we are going to take them off and...

Make Love. What is wrong with me?  Isn't that supposed to be a beautiful thing? Yet when I hear the term "make love" all I can think of is being 8 years old and drawing fifty sloppy hearts over a picture of my parents for Valentine's Day.  I titled it:  Make Lots of Love on Valentine's Day.  I could not for the life of me understand why it disappeared from the refrigerator door, never to be seen again.  Scarred for life, I prefer the down and dirty term that starts with F. 

And if I am going to get down and dirty, I refuse to do it with my "soul mate".  Now there's a term coined by a desperate woman if I ever heard one.  In the immortal words of Carrie Bradshaw "I don't know if I even believe in soul mates".  Husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover - all encompassing, solid words.  No soul mates allowed in bed taking off my panties and making love to me, please.

Hey!  Let's hit up the Pinterest Pinheads for my next one, which is actually a two-fer. "Upcycle" and "Repurposed".  The red wiggly line underneath these words as I edit is shivering in word-correct fervor, desperate to remind me that THESE ARE NOT REAL WORDS! And I could not agree more.  Throw those two in the compost bin along with the always inane "Mani-Pedi" with your "Bestie".  All I visualize there is a couple washed up giddy cheerleaders annoying the hell out of me while I try to have sixty minutes of peace and a cute set of toes. Have we become so lazy that we cannot even take the time to enunciate an entire word?  I fear we have.  And a nation of grammatically lazy children are coming up fast on our heels. To me, that's a tragedy.

Time to shut it down.  I know there are more words and phrases out there just waiting their turn to make my list, and the play we got from Moist Panty Cakes on Luna Night was well worth the nails on a blackboard effect in my head.  The moral of the story, for me anyway, ended up being "Don't have a Big Hairy Gazebo over Moist Panty Cakes".  But that's another story. 

Long live the Lunas, kicking Junior League Ass from coast to coast.  You girls are my soul mates  besties the bomb.