The Sunday before my mom’s surgery we went to church together and the flowers on the altar were in memory of my father. Although he has been gone nearly 22 years he is very much still a part of our lives. In a good way. In an easy and familiar way. We talk about him in the present tense and the signs that he is just beyond the thinnest of curtains are always evident. The signs began the moment I started driving home last week. The traffic was moving slowly and I was keeping pace with a white truck. I pulled alongside just as the traffic came to a standstill and looked at the side of the truck. And there was the sign that I was supposed to be going north to spend the week with my mom.
Noel’s Fire Protection. How random yet how not. My father’s name was Noel. Not a common name by any means. Unusual enough to always catch me off guard when I see it or find it on the side of a truck. A sign. Four days later came another. My mom was in the hospital, several hours post-op and finally settled into a room. The day nurse was lovely and when she came in to introduce the night nurse both my mother and I paused. Mom asked her to come closer so she could read her badge. And there was the sign. Her name was Noeline. Noeline???? I have never, ever heard that name before and I just looked at my mom and said “I guess daddy will be with you through the night”.
I love my mom. And for that reason I swept the kitchen floor-twice. The first time I removed all the visible dirt and emptied the dustpan. Not five minutes later she comes into the kitchen and asks me to sweep the floor. I said I just did and she snorted saying it was ‘filthy’. Nothing in my mother’s house is ever allowed to be slightly dirty let alone filthy so over-exaggeration is a family trait. I argued briefly and then I simply swept the damn floor again; this time removing the invisible dirt. She was trying to hold off taking a pain pill and so was given a free pass but it is typical for our interactions. We love each other to death!
After a week with her, pre-surgery, surgery day and post surgery I was ready to go home. I needed the quiet that I have become accustomed to and the ability to do my life my way. By yesterday she was feeling much better, could move with less pain and I felt comfortable leaving. My sister will be in and out as well as several of her friends so the worst is over. No use of the arm for six weeks and no driving will probably make her nuts but rehab can’t start until six weeks post-op and she is a compliant if whiny patient. Retired nurses make lousy patients!
I’m home with my mother as she recovers from a total shoulder replacement. She is nearly bionic with two artificial knees, plates and pins in one ankle and now the shoulder. All fixable. The shoulder was fabricated and she had to sign consent to allow a technician from the company to be present in the operating room. I suppose he was there to give the orthopedic surgeon advice and tips. The care at the hospital was wonderful but she was up and out the next morning. I’m here until Sunday when a cadre of helpers from her church and friends will pitch in. I’m hoping she will be in less discomfort and more mobile. Her balance is off a bit with the arm immobilized and in a huge sling.
Coming home for this week has made me grateful for the strong support system my mother has between my sister living nearby, family, friends and her church. All of which will allow me to go home and not worry too much. I’ll probably be back during spring break and by then she should be doing fine. But no driving for six weeks and no movement of the arm.
I had a bit of anxiety about cooking for her as I have gotten so out of practice in recent years. Living alone and dating a vegan has also changed my culinary ways. And to be perfectly honest cooking is not something that thrills or soothes me. I like to eat-that is self evident-but cooking has not been a big part of my life since I stopped making meals for my family. I know I rely too much on eating out and fast grab and go things but just the thought of meal planning and preparation makes me want to scream. I can cook but don’t really want to. And that is okay. I am okay.
Valentine’s Day 2017. Which means my daughter has turned 29 years old. Today. My sweetheart and my absolute best Valentine’s gift ever. She is smart and beautiful, compassionate, generous and kind. She has started a new job and takes care of her family and makes me so proud. We have had our ups and downs but our bond is strong.
And it my second Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend. We are continuing to work on our relationship that we are both firmly committed to having succeed. The rocky period before the cruise was tough but we went and had a fabulous, amazing time. We healed and got ourselves back on track. Under starlit skies and while taking cha-cha lessons, playing trivia games and lazing on the Lido deck. He woke me up to see the moonlight over the ocean and stayed with me as the sun rose. We walked hand in hand on the Dutch inspired islands and laughed and talked and met new people and shared our love story. It was a marvelous respite that we both needed from our hectic over wrought lives.
Once we got home it was back into the fire with work pressures, his new house closing and making hundred of trips between houses. We didn’t get to be together tonight so instead he sent flowers with chocolates and a teddy bear-to work. With an absolutely knee-weakening note. Yes he does love me and I love him.
As it often happens to me when I’m down I get sick. A physical manifestation of the unrest in my mind becomes illness. I called in sick today and spent the day sleeping and trying to re-balance myself. And pack for my long awaited cruise vacation that now may have both of us going. Or not. Not sure how to read MH at this point and want to somehow just rewind the clock and calendar and get back to when we were a happy, dorky, middle-aged couple giggling and swinging hands and laughing all the time. Not sure if this means we are becoming deeper and closer but I hate feeling unsure about what to say to him or how to help him feel happier. I know it is not my job to make him happy but seeing him unhappy makes me sad. He won’t let me in.
The swirl of my daughter and her work woes continue as she is caught between a rock and a hard place. She knows what she must do but is emotionally connected to her current company and it is making it hard to see clearly. Selfishly I have enjoyed her calls and reliance on me for help and counsel. But I also absorb her angst and not sharing with her my stress is like holding back the ocean. I haven’t shared the stress about MH possibly not going on the cruise with me and so far I haven’t shared with anyone except my long distance friends that have called and caught me upset and sad. Even while I keep packing! I’m going on this trip if I have to walk to the boat by myself on my knees.