Sunday, December 9, 2012

What a difference a year makes...

you know, I seldom look back at what I have written.  Sure, I read the comments, but I usually don't look back. Partly because it hurts to much, partly because this is how I heal, and partly because well, I get to busy. Don't we all? Lots has happened since I blogged last. Some of it great. Some of it heart breaking. Some of it, well I will just tuck it away and look at it another day.
Mom and dad came down to see our renovation/house addition this summer August I should think. We were not sure dad would be strong enough to make the 2 hour trip here, but he made it.  he even climbed the stairs to see what the contractor did.  He has always liked our town, and our place.  It was cool last year showing him the plans for the addition.  he liked seeing what we were planning on doing.  After touring the place and playing with the new pup( who LOVED sitting on his foot) he said (and I quote) " you know, when this is all done, it's going to be one HELL of a shack." Probably the highest compliment our builder has ever been paid. That made me probably the happiest was hearing that. Part of me was sad that say too, because I knew he probably would not be coming down again to see our home. He was getting thinner, the cancer was winning, although he was still giving it hell, his body was getting weaker.  Part of me thinks that he was just making sure that we were going to be settled in and OK if he went. Makes me sad to think about it.
Last year at this time, we were making holiday plans.  My niece had flown in the month before to have a thanksgiving with us. Dad ended up in the hosp last Christmas. So we did what we do best.  We all rallied around him in his hospital room.we took pictures of us with him, him with my mother and my Aunt bless her heart turned one of the photos of dad and I into a pencil drawing.  I will cherish it always.  I baked him the butter cookies he loves and several others that i knew he always liked.  I didn't make him gingerbread, which I have done for the past 9 or so years. I ran out of time, and unfortunately he was running out as well. Sigh. We went back to moms and made as merry as we could, to help mom, to help ourselves have some type of semblance of normal even though the one who loved seeing us all together was sorely missed.  his chair that was vacant reminded me of Tiny Tim's spot at the table. broke my heart, but hey with enough cocktails you push through it and laugh along with everyone else. I think deep down I knew this would be our last Christmas with him.  I had talked to my sister and wanted to do New year's eve with my parents like we used to when we were kids, but that didn't happen either.  I think we had gotten a storm that day, but again another regret to add to my ever growing list. I called mom every other day to check on her, tried to sooth her as she cried the whole time being numb from the reality that I knew was going to happen to us sooner or later.
We broke ground on our addition in May, and the summer was a whirl wind or business and planning.  I swear if I never go into a home improvement store to look at things again it will be too soon. but that is a blog post for a whole 'nother day.
We got the call at 2 a.m., September 11th, saying he was gone. He was no longer with us. I laid in bed for about 20 minutes letting it sink in. I couldn't wrap my head around it. I did laundry, I packed. I waited for 7a.m. for the kids to wake so we could load the car and leave. it's a blur really. I remember moving through the day in a slow motion/lightening fast speed kind of pace. Ever have that? it's weird, that's for sure.
I went to the funeral home, to drop off some papers they needed while mom waited in the car, and when I went in, on the floor in a purple bag in front of the coffin was my dad. He has just come back from the crematorium. and I went to the bad and sat of the floor and held it in my lap as the tears slid. Here was my dad. all 6'4" of him reduced to nothing more than a small package, it was more than my heart could take.  I know it was never meant for me to see that, but the funeral director had been called away suddenly and the care taker did not want to put him inside the coffin. I will never, ever forget feeling as lost as I did that moment. Who am I now with out him? Sure mom is still here and she is everything to me, but I felt as though my conviction was there in that purple bag.
I will spare you reading about the pain I felt the day of the funeral. Like I said somethings are just to hard to look back on. I tried to be stoic. I tried to be strong. I broke. I couldn't breathe. I don't think I have ever held some one's hand ad hard as I held my mothers. willing her to be OK. willing myself to fill my lungs with air.
days slid into one another. he was gone, the funeral was over, now it was time to start to heal. September gave was to October, and then to November, and now, well, it's December and I am finding myself at odds these days.  I am trying to go through all the motions, and for the most part, it is working. My kids are beyond excited. I WANT to be excited, but I feel, blah. This was the time of year he liked a lot. he loved seeing the kids, and loved eating the cookies, and the food. Loved watching my kids run through the house and swipe small chocolates off the hutch that mom had placed out on dishes along with about 1,000 different cookies. The thought makes me smile.
I find that more and more I miss him. I can;t pick up the phone and go "hey pops!" and hear back "Hey, whatcha' doin'?" or "Talk to your mudder" when he didn't feel like being social. Just once more. I can hear him in my head so that will have to do. Mom, well she's getting by as well.  I think she's OK, but I also think there is alot she is shielding from me. It's hard to be married for 53 years and then alone.
for the 3 of you that still read my blog- thanks for letting me vent.
I will make ginger bread this year, for pops. they will get stale and go uneaten, but they will be for him., and for the soul I am trying so desperately hard to sooth.
My first Christmas without him. it stings a bit. Hit me when I went shopping the other day. I was in a store that had all kinds of country stuff in it. Americana cutesy stuff in it. in the corner was a sign in blue (his favorite color) that said nothing more than "Amazing Grace" (his fav song) all twinkly and shiny and clearly, out of place. I saw it and it stopped me dead in my tracks and once again tears flowed down my cheeks. He as out there,  and just needed to let me know that. I love you Pops. Always. forever.xoxoxo

Monday, May 21, 2012

This past weekend

was a blur.  I mean like warp speed, hold on to your hat, Ethel, blur. Dad's PET scan was today. And well, let's just say that yours truly had a hard time processing all the information on Friday.  Hubs called and asked me to go to Cape May.  Those of you that know me, know that I am not a spur of the moment kind of girl.  I am a make a list, cross check it not once, but twice to make sure everything is ok kind of girl.  I have 3 kids and various pets to care for, not to mention my own sanity.  People have said I **tend** to over think things.  I think they are pulling my leg!  Me, over think/analyse things?  Pshaw, Surly they jest!
Ok, so I succumb to hubs request.  partly b/c he told the kids first.  (dirty pool, old man, dirty pool). But not before I had talked to mom, and told her that I want to get dad to the shore.  He LOVES the shore.  The beach, the food, the sand, the food... so we decide that on one weekend we will do it.  Now, it is a three hour ride from my house, and a 2 1/2 hr ride from my parents house to mine.  that's (if I do the math correct) 5 1/2 hrs of car riding for him... That's a LOT.  I want him to go before, well just before.  I need one more moment with him in Cape May. One more walk on the beach. One more time to listen to the surf. Just one more moment.  We are hopeful that June will do the trick. There is something about going to the shore. When we go to Cape May, we always stop at Ducky's produce, go to the beach and then have lunch at a local place called Mugs.  I LOVE mugs.  I have LOVED mugs since we started going there.  Mugs is a salt of the earth, Cheers type bar, with (what else) mugs n the celing.  they face a certain direction, and then when the soul passes, the mug gets turned the other way.  I tried to buy a mug for Dad, but alas, they no longer sell them. :(
Off we went to Diamond Beach, to fly a kite and watch the fishermen shore fish nothing more than horse shoe crabs.
There is something about the shore.  Maybe it's my Jersey roots, maybe it's the ocean, I am not sure. It was healing. To have my own thoughts drowned out by nothing more than the pounding surf.  (It's what every over thinker needs).  While hubby coraled the kiddos, I was left to my thoughts, where ever they may roam.  I thought a lot.  I thought about life, what it means.  I thought about death and the implications.  I saw weddings, which reminded me of new beginnings, and I was lots of baby bumps which reminded me of the hope for the future.  None of those people were plagued with my thoughts.  None of them seemed to share my heavy heart. So back to the beach I went to stand in the frigid (60 degree) water and listen to the gulls cry and the waves crash.  My kids giggled and laughed and chased sand pipers and gulls.   They made sand castes and dug up baby horse shoe crabs. They giggled. They ran. They splashed and oddly enough, they left me be, except for a random "run by hugging". (love those nutty kids)
We left the beach and a piece of my heart with it on the beach.  Will we be successful in taking dad back there?  I hope so, but am not hopeful...  I dread Thursday.  I dread getting the results of his test back.  I worry that I will not be strong enough to hear the news and that I will just succumb to all this emotion. (again, those of you that know me, know I am not overly emotional, especially in public.  I am a fall apart by myself, when it is all over with type of girl) and my husband hugged me hard today and said " you know all you need to do is call, and I will be right there. You know that, right?" (If that is not enough to make me weep, I don't know what is.
Sunday... I needed to go home to see dad.  I needed to just put my hands on him, and see for myself.  I needed to check on Mom, to make sure she was doing ok. so they had no idea that I was coming with the kids. I thought it a good idea to call when I was half way home, just to avoid any surprises.  This is how the conversation went;
Me: "Hey Pops! How are ya?"
P: Eh, not so bad. What are you doing (he almost never asks what am I doing)
M: Well pops, I thought I would have lunch with you and mom
P: Well, come on then.

His voice was so strong. It made my heart sing. Surely the Dr's are wrong, right?
Wrong.  I went home to see them both, and assessed the room.  he looks tired, worn down, and just, old.  He still has the same carismatic doll like aura, but he is fighting and you can see now, he is getting pretty beat up.  Mom asked me if I had brought my camera, and I had forgotten it in my rush to get out the door.  (see, had I been properly prepared and over thought it all, I would have had it)

Kimberly comes skipping into the living room and asks for a piece of candy. (again, those of you that know me... My own sister calls me the candy nazi)
I said no to her.  Dad looked at me and said "why not? she doesn't have enough ass to make a poor man a bowl of soup, she can have candy"
afy=ter lunch I tell him, in a whisper, because I am fighting back this lump that has risen in my throat.  Dad has always had what I refer to as "wayne-isms" you know, that phrases that only a certain person can say and it makes total sense coming from them.  I didn't know whether to laugh, or burst into tears. I chose to get up and walk into the other room, feigning the search for the third cat they say they have, but I can never find.
It was a lovely day. Lunch with mom, and the kids. Visiting with dad....

and mom, if your reading this, you never cease to amaze me with your strength, and some day, you'll have to tell me how you do it.  I love you. Always. Forever.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I.Can't. Breathe.

or so it feels.  The rug has been pulled out from under my feet and I am not sure which way is up any more.  Mom called me today and told me Dad had a Dr. appointment.  his marker numbers went from 425 three weeks ago to 2550.  Last week they were 1770, I thought they read the report wrong. I mean he was doing so well! What the hell??So this means either the tumor is growing or the cancer is spreading or both...  I had to sit once she told me that because truly all the air left my lungs as I struggled to process this information.  I had let my guard down, and started to relax a bit because he was doing great.  he even went and tried his lawn tractor out.  I mean LOOK at him! Look at her, that was taken at Easter, and then a few weeks later we took some more! He's thin, yes, but look at the color in his cheeks! He was doing so good!!!! He has a PET scan on Monday, and that will give us some results on Thursday and they can plan their attack. Pray my friends. Please.  he's a  good man. He deserves to beat this.  He was excited to be doing so well.  I am desperately afraid that he will give up now, that his numbers have gone so high in such a short amount of time.

I love you, Daddy. Please fight. And when you can't fight, lean on me, I'll be strong enough for the both of us.

And Mom, I know you're out there being all stoic.  it's ok to cry.  I've got shoulders enough to hold all your tears.  I can handle it.  Don't try and hold them back, let them come. And when they do, feel my arms around you. You're not alone. You're in my heart, and in my prayers. I love you. Forever. Always. Xoxo.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's only 10 days

till my birthday, or so the counter on the side says. you know, so much has been going on, that I didn't even realize it. It feels like it is eons away. Let me bring you all up to speed...
first, Dad. Dad is doing great! He is continuing to respond to chemo, and we had a wonderful Easter with him and mom and the rest of the family. Here's the thing. (and with me, there's usually a thing) I have since my brother was killed, hated Easter. Loathed it. I would have been happy if I could have stayed in bed with the covers over my head. Seems like a completely irrational hatred for a seemingly harmless holiday. I can't exactly recall why I loathe it so much. Maybe it was because Scott used to help hide the eggs, and eat all the chocolate. (except mine, because I don't like regular chocolate, I like white. In fact, if chocolate were to disappear off the face of the earth, I would be totally fine with it.) But this year, Easter took on a whole new meaning. It was time to spend with my family, relishing in their company and chatter. Look forward to the pictures, the loudness that IS my family, and just being together in the comfortable solace of the dining room at mom's. That's where we all converge, once we have left the kitchen.
this Easter, the atmosphere was so much lighter, so much happier. (Much better than Christmas time, dad was not in the hosp. for one) I will post pictures because they came out so nice! :)
second, our loan is FINALLY closed. We have been trying to secure a loan to go up a story on our home, since December of 2010. YUP. 2010. After so many exusting factors we signed the papers last Friday and the construction is due to start May 7. (Happy late b day to me). So now all the "fun" starts- cleaning out closets, cleaning out everything in order to make way for the stairs, and then the roof coming off and all... Pray to all the rain Gods that they hold off for a while. It can pour all it wants after I am boxed in. The contractor says it should be finished by August. :) We were pickign out tubs and showers and vanities the other day. Man, that is tedious work. (Even more so with 3 kids in tow, who don't really care if the toilet is white vs bisque, if it is 14.5 inches or 16inches off the floor... egads. Who knew?? before and after pics will come along for that too... :) What fun!

And finally I will share with you why the significance in the turn of events here. last year, I applied for a teaching job (Which I didn't get) dad got sick and our loan got turned down. Well right now, the loan is closed, dad is responding to treatment and well, I still need a job, but I feel like this will be my year! Crossing my fingers! My turn is coming, right?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

you know how one thing

one everyday thing that we take for granted can change our lives, or at the very least, reduce us to tears?
Tuesday, running around in a midst of cheer practice, scouts, and getting dinner, someone left a message on my answering machine. Because I am just so anal retentive that I cannot possibly walk out of the house and leave that damn little red light blinking at me I hit the button before running some more with the kids. (who, by the way, were waiting patiently for me int he truck).
I hear my dad's voice on the other end, and my feet hit the floor. Several things race through my mind. 1. dad NEVER calls me. Ever. Period. 2. Damn, I think , what has happened to mom? (Again one of the only reasons dad would call.) Crap, crap, crap! OK, so now I seriously cannot let the message of "Steph-ne it's dad. Call as soon as you get this" go. No one says call as soon as you get this, unless it's bad news, right? I pick up the phone and dial my folks' number. Dad answers the phone, his voice strong and sounding great. hey Pops, I say, what's up? His response to me:
"you know that cancer deal I got going on?" (It's always been a "deal" with him, when ever he was ill or sick) Sure pop, I say, what's wrong. "Wrong?" he says, Nothings wrong! My numbers went down! They are at 425." He called ME. He wanted to tell me HIS news. He didn't wait for mom to relay the message as he has been doing this whole time. HE called. That means more to me than if the Pope himself showed up on my front door to offer me his blessing.
I take a moment to try and wrap my head around what he has just said to me. Desperate to hear more, but knowing I have to get going I begrudgingly tell dad I have to go and I will call as soon as I am home again.
I go out to the truck where the kids are wondering what took me so long and Alex says "mom, what's wrong?" (I am sitting in the front seat, gripping the steering wheel, staring out the window) and I say "nothing, Buddy, Pops is getting better" All three of my kids start to yell "YAY!!!" in the back seat. Tears just slide down my cheeks because I am happy to hear this news and yet so scared to be hopeful. I am proud to know he is fighting. Somewhere in there he found his resolve. he is fighting back and this time winning. I hope and pray that his numbers continue to go down and his good numbers go up. (Kidney function, which is a constant worry)
Mom, this is the best news I have been given in quite some time. It rivals your news when they told us you had put your own cancer in remission. I will remain ever vigilant that he may follow in your stead. Perhaps this is what he needed to hear to have some idea that he can fight and it ain't over till the fluffy lady sings. I love you both. More that I could ever articulate and would be lost with out you both. Losing one of you would be like cutting off my air supply... I am glad at the moment no one is going anywhere...

This week, there is a mega millions jackpot... I believe I have some numbers to play. Dad's numbers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Daddy....

you know, not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away.... I lived in a dream world where everything was all flowers and chirping birds. Then reality hit and hit hard. And now, I feel as if I am in some sureal state. Like I am still wandering around in a dream where nothing makes any sense.
What you see about, is a picture of my parents, taken not that long ago, on my dad's 73rd birthday. We gathered around to celebrate with him, because, well, that's how we roll. When the chips are down we rally 'round and pull in the mattresses, what ever it takes. We laugh, we cry, we eat, we drink, we carry on. it's what we do. it's how we cope. Mom threw dad a party, because well he deserves one for going through all this crap. and it is crap. I hate what he has to go through. I hate that it is sucking the life out of him. Or is it? What is it really doing to him? Slowly killing him, one blood cell at a time?
Not today, batman, not today.
Mom called me last night. We try and talk every day. Monday I called and talked to dad for 15 minutes. I had a phone call. PHONE CALL with a man who HATES being on the phone, for 15 minutes. Mom was out, joining weight watchers he said. (Go mom, you can do this!!) Both dad and I believe in you. ESPECIALLY dad. His voice perked up at the thought of you doing this. He loves you and wants you to be happy. I know this. I could hear it, in the way his voice just changed ever so slightly when he was speaking of you. He's proud to be married to you. anyhow, I digress- dad and I talked abotu the addition we're building, the banks (bastards that they are) and the contractor we chose. (dad approved) not that our contractor knows him well, but my dad likes him just the same. and how do I know he approved?? because he told me it was a "bit of alright". Ever since I was a little girl, when ever he would approve of something, he would say it was a "bit of alright". He said that to dana when he asked for my hand in marriage. He said that when we told him we were buying a house, having a baby (along with his favorite line, that I took something serious that was poked at me in fun)-only my dad.
anyhow, mom told me that his cancer markers went down. DOWN. by the grace of God, and perhaps by all the prayers he has been given on behalf of my dad, the markers went down. and not just a little bit. they went from 770 to 625. 625. I think I will play the lotto this weekend, and his marker numbers will be my numbers. they climbed at an alarming rate. they started at 1.8, then went to 2.4, then to 400, then to 450, 750 and then to 770. all with in a few weeks. Those were scary numbers to me, because I have NO idea what they mean. How high will they climb? How high can they climb? well now, it looks like they are coming down the chemo is working. My mind is still reeling from the facts.
they are clouded only by the fact that he has fallen a lot lately, and they do not know why. So they ordered a ct scan to see what if going on... In the words of Scarlet O' Hara, I will worry about that tomorrow. Today, I will bask in the news that the cancer numbers are moving in a downward direction and all is right with the world.
happy birthday Daddy. I love you. I am proud to be your daughter, and next year, when we celebrate, we'll have a huge party!! We're going big, baby!

Friday, January 13, 2012

time... time marches on

and on, the world still turns people still get up and go to work, people live, life goes on. it is going on, although there are days when I want to stamp my feet at the complexity and unfairness of it all. An update (or 12) on dad...
Over Christmas he was int he hospital (again) for another transfusion, and a whole host of other issues (internal bleeding amoung others). He came home the Tuesday after Christmas. We went to see him in his room, and with all of us there laughing with him and joking with him it was almost as if he was home in his chair, not in the hosp, in that bed. My neice took a picture of the two of us, I am waiting for her to send it to me, because it is one that I will always hold close to me heart. (kind of in the same way that we compared bellies when I was 8 months pregnant with Alex) Christmas was bittersweet in the respect that most likely it will be our last one with him. I go to see him again this weekend, he is back int he hosp, with more internal bleeding (they are doing a test now to see if they can pin point the cause). What is hardest for me in all of this is the fact that I see him and on his good days, he just looks, well, bald. He doesn't look sick. On his bad days, well that tells another tale. That is the part I just cannot for the life of me, wrap my head around. He went to the hosp Wednesday in need of 4, yes 4 pints of blood. He was put in ICU. I told him he needs to knock this off, he will be getting frequent flyer miles... He laughed and said it was either that or put him on the pay roll... I hope he will be home tomorrow, but I don't realistically think it will happen. he is supposed to have a Ct and PET scan on Monday so we can see how much and to where the cancer has progressed. We know it has because his cancer markers went from 140 to 260. So time again is another factor. how much time do we have? I know we need to make the most of the moments we have left, but that very thought terrifies me. It terrifies me to think of mom with out dad. (kind of like peanut butter with no jelly) For 53 years they have been bickering at and loving each other. I just don't see it. I know it's coming, and I just want to stuff my head in the sand and pretend it isn't there, that time for once will stand still and not move forward.
Mom, well she's still being the strength, the root of all the force that is keeping the whole works going. I only hope I can be as strong as her someday. Sure she breaks down, sure she has bad days, but in that situation, who wouldn't??
I made a frame for my dad years ago, for his birthday with one of the rare pictures of the tow of us, and on that picture I wrote all the things that I have gained or learned from my dad- My convictions, my ideas of right and wrong, my ability to stand on my own two feet and stand my ground and most famously, my dimples. And as I looked at this picture of the two of us smiling cockeyed for my mom taking the picture, I stood in his room and the tears slid down my cheeks. I can't do this dad. I can't let you go. You ARE my strength. you ARE my convictions. You ARE my feet that I stand my ground with. With out you, I am just a silly girl. I love you. I will miss hearing "yeah me too" when I tell you that. all of you out in bloggy land have no idea how lost I will be. I promised him the last time that I will take care of mom. because I know that will make him rest easy. He wants to make sure she is taken care of.
I am sorry that this makes no sense, I just rambled on and on, this is the one place where I dont have to be strong and stoic.
I love you dad, forever. always.