Sunday, June 20, 2010

What is a Father?

A father isn't just someone who fertilizes an egg.  A father is someone who nurtures their child, loves their child unconditionally, teaches and guides their child to grow up to be responsible adults.  A father gives a child a moral compass.

My father was actually my mother when you consider these things.  My mother was there for me from the moment I took my first breath until the moment she look her last breath.  My mother lived her life for me.  I wanted for nothing.  Sometimes I sit and think, how did she do it?  I am sure my grandmother helped a lot.

When I got married, my mother gave me away.  She earned that right.  People think that my father is deceased.  He isn't.  He's alive and he lives close by, however, I really don't seem to have a relationship with him.

When I was young, I would see him during visitations.  Most of the time, he would pick me up, take me to my grandparents then come back a few days later and take me home.  Later, when he remarried, I did stay with them, but the majority of my quality time was spent with my step-mother, who I love like a sister to this day.  I remember her coloring with me and making sure I had my favorite snacks.

When I got older, I stopped idolizing the man, who never seemed to show much interest in me.  See, my mom never said a word, she let me figure things out for myself.  I am sure it must have hurt her to see how much I put this man up on a pedestal and how time and time again, he would either ignore me or just disappear from my life.  I really don't think that he even knows when my birthday is.

He had a son with my first step mother and Nick, my brother, and I stay in touch.  He has three beautiful children that I love more than I can ever say.  When his second child was born in 2006, I wanted to see the baby.  They were all coming to visit my father and I went to his house to see the baby.  He resides with his current partner.  When I walked into their home, it was one of those homes with a large stairway and the wall going up the stairs was lined with photos, lots and lots of photos.  Of kids.  I am certain that there wasn't one photo of me.  I was the kid that didn't exsist again.

Before my mother passed away, I last saw my father in November of 2006, when my cousin, who was like a father to me passed away.  At that time, he promised me that he would stay in touch.  I never heard a thing from him until he showed up at the funeral home when my mother passed away.  I was very surprised to see him there.  I felt comfort and akward at the same time.  Someone overheard him tell my brother that he was really going to make an effort to keep in touch this time.

I am not holding my breath.  I learned years ago that the only person you can count on is yourself.  Let's face it.  You can never miss what you never had.

Happy Father's Day, Mom,  I love you!

Monday, June 14, 2010

One Week

Somehow, I blinked and my mother has been gone for one week.  I guess this is the first milestone to get over.  I will admit, I didn't sleep well last night.  I kept waking up, strangely at certain times that things had happened the week before.  It is all still so surreal to me right now.  I keep thinking of things and planning things in my mind, like I need to get Mom this or that, or I think of something to take her like Sheetz's new cherry chocolate coffe drink or I even start to plan my schedule so I can pop in for a visit.  Then I realize, she's gone.

Regina took this picture while in Orlando.  It is the view, right outside our condo door.  My heart nearly skipped a beat when I saw the photo.  This is the exact same spot I stood in and this is the view that I stared at blindly, trying to make sense of all that was happening after I got the calls.  This courtyard was very peaceful, especially in the early morning hours.  I am glad that I have this photo.

I've made it over the first milestone.  One week.  Life goes on.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

She's at Peace.

In March 2005, my Mom nearly died from renal failure. She was hospitalized for 23 days and diagnosed with Bright's Syndrome. It is basically, chronic kidney disease. For the next year and a half, she was getting dialysis three days a week. On August 7, 2006, I got a call at 6:30 in the morning that Mom didn't show up for dialysis.  We found her at home, on the floor.  She was rushed to the hospital and then life flighted to Pittsburgh due to a brain bleed.  She had some complications during the flight, an IV infiltrated, which resulted in the issue of her left arm being destroyed.  August 7, 2006 is the day that I lost my mother.  June 7, 2010 is the day that she was finally at peace.

These last four years have been tough on both of us.  Tough on her, healthwise.  She has had many struggles.  Tough on me because I had to clear out her apartment, find a place for her to get good care and the worst part, was realizing that the mother that I knew was gone.

The loud, boisterous, life of the party, Mom that I had known for 39 years was no more.  I was left with a quiet, meek little lady that would rather lay in bed, watching MASH, and talk to no one, than get in her wheelchair, or walk for that matter, and socialize.  The only time she left her room is to go to dialysis or when her friend Sandy came and made her leave.

On May 5, my Mom had to have a surgery to amputate two of her fingers that were infected due to Osteomylitis and MRSA.  Not sure which came first, but the Osteomylitis is something that can happen in renal patients.  I was told that the MRSA was spreading and we needed to do this to stop the infection.  She had the surgery and when they were waking her up, her heart rate elevated.  The put her in ICU as a precaution.  She was in ICU for four days.  I last saw her on the day after Mother's Day, when she went into a regular room.  I took her flowers for Mother's Day since she wasn't allowed to have them in ICU.  Our visit was just like every other one lately.  Me talking, her saying something every now and then.  Towards the end, I didn't really know if she enjoyed my visits.  She always seems like she could care less if I was there or not.  These visits were extrememly hard.  It was hard to see your mother and have her not only not look like your mother, but not act like her either. 

I had my own surgery the week later, then the Prom Madness kicked in and I worked an insane amount of hours for the next three weeks.  I was exhausted.  I had the opportunity to go visit her the Tuesday before I left for the Orlando show and somehow, I ended up talking myself out of going.  Why?  I don't know.  Do I regret it?  Hell yes.

I then worked Wednesday and Thursday, trying to fit four days worth of clients in two days since we were leaving on Friday, June 4 for the show.  Thursday, I got a call at the salon from the nursing home, saying that she had tried to get into her wheel chair and had fallen on her behind.  They said that she was okay.  I believed that.

While in Orlando, I get a frantic call from Mr. Bruises Sunday morning, saying that something was wrong with Riley.  He was acting funny, he was having a hard time walking.  I talked him through it and had him call a client/good friend that used to be a vet tech.  We all determined that he pulled a muscle in his back and he was to get some asprin three times a day.  He seemed to be doing better.

Sunday night, I was the last one to go to bed.  I was still up, on our patio, chatting and visiting with an old friend, who had stopped to see me.  I went to bed at 12:30.  About an hour later, I was jolted awake by a surge that emitted from my heart.  I really can't explain it, it was like a vibration, a shock, a twinge, but it wasn't painful.  I immediately thought that something had happened to Riley, since he had been on my mind.  Little did I know, but I think this was a sign of my mother's heart attack.  Eventually, I fell back asleep.  I was jolted awake at 2:45 am, when an odd sound was coming from our room.  I was confused as was BFF Jill, who was in bed beside me.  I then realized that it was my phone ringing.  It was the emergency ring I had programmed into the phone for when the home called about my Mom.  See, my phone is so smart, that it knows certain numbers and even if you have your phone on silent, that number will ring no matter what.  I didn't make it to the phone on time, but I knew that they would leave a voice mail.

I went into the bathroom, closed the door and waited for the voice mail notification to come through.  It did.  I listened to it.  The head nurse called and said that when they did the 2:30 bed check, my Mom was unresponsive.  She said she was still breathing but her blood pressure was really low and that they were sending her by amulance to the emergency room.  I could tell by the catch in her voice that this was going to be bad.

I went outside, so I wouldn't wake any of my condo mates and called the emergency room.  I explained to them that I was in Florida and they were my eyes and ears.  I begged them to help me and to let me know what was going on.  At that point, she hadn't arrived yet.  So I sat down and waited for their call.  Somehow, I wandered inside and laid back down in bed.  At 4:10, the call came and they told me that she had passed.  I really think that she had passed at the nursing home, but they couldn't tell me that.  The ER nurse said that they had worked on her in the ambulance the whole way and that when she arrived at the ER she was cold and starting to turn blue, but they still continued to try. 

I then got on the phone with the Coroner.  This man has been drug through the mud lately, and unfairly so.  I have always had nothing but good things to say about him and now I can add even more.  This man is a gem.  He was very patient with me on the phone, explained everything to me.  My mother died of a heart attack.  He also informed me that my mother had refused dialysis on Saturday.  I did not know this.  He assured me that even though this resulted in toxins being in her body, it did not play into her cause of death.  At the end, he asked me if there was anything else he could do for me.  I replied that I just needed to figure out what I was doing.  He asked when we had planned to return hom and I told him Tuesday morning.  He told me that there was nothing for me to rush home for.  My mother was already gone.  There was nothing to do at home.  He said that the time, hassle and expense of changing flights and plans just weren't worth it for one day.  I thank him for that conversation.  It made sense, I guess I just needed to hear it.

It wasn't like I could rush home to see her before she passed.  It wasn't like I had a father at home to comfort or siblings.  To be honest, where I was, was the best place to be.  I was surrounded by friends.  Good friends.  I had my BFF by my side and my entire Nail Tech family with me.  I only wish that Mr. Bruises had been there, but I was able to talk to him and that's what I needed.

I was able to take care of just about everything via phone.  I went to the show late, Monday was my shopping day, so I made my way to each booth that I had listed and got what I needed then headed to FedEx and shipped it all home.  Monday was kind of like a fog.

All day Monday, I kept seeing dragonflies.  These weren't the normal ones that just buzzed by.  These ones lingered.  At one point I saw two together.  Whenever I used to think about Nick's Mom, I would see one.  It was comforting to see two together. 

At the airport, after arriving in Pittsburgh, we were walking from our gate to the tram and people behind me kept yelling "Ma'am", I didn't respond because, let's face it , I am a "Miss!", but they tracked me down with all of these one dollar bills.  They said they were falling out of my bag.  I was confused since all of my money, was neatly arranged in denomination order with the heads all facing one direction and they were all in an envelope in my purse.  BFF Jill said that maybe the zipper was open.  No.  Then she thought there was a hole in my purse.  No.  Then she thought I had put money in my laptop case.  No.  We just chalked it up to good fortune and moved on.

We used the restroom and on my way out, something hit my leg.  I looked down.  More dollar bills.  Again, these were all in disarray.  A few together folded some singles.  This is exactly the disarry that my mother kept her money in when she put it in her pocket.  It drove my OCD mind crazy.  Still, I just shook my head, not knowing where it came from.

At the funeral home Wednesday night, BFF Jill gave me an article that she had read in a magazine that day.  It was about a woman, whos mother had passed away and she started finding dimes everywhere.  In her bed, in her shoes, in her socks.  The article went on to say that finding unexplained coins was a well-known sign of visits from angels.  Still, these were dollars.  I then realized that my mother didn't do anything unless she did it over the top.  She didn't just decorate for the holidays, she DECORATED.  She did everthing in life times ten, so............... it's no surprise that I was finding dollars instead of dimes.

I've been overwhelmed by the show of love and support from everyone.  I received HUNDREDS of comments, messages and wall posting on FB.  There is no way I will be able to answer them all and somehow a blanket thank you doesn't seem fit.  I want each and every one of you who sent me a message know that it helped me.  I saved each and every one of them so that I could read them again at a later time.  Thank you for all of the hugs and offers to help.  I had clients offer to come to the salon and make phone calls for me.  WOW.  Thanks for all of the beautiful plants and flowers.  My mother loved both.  I have a lot of items to keep that will make me think of her as they grow.

I was able to create two, large collages of photos of her.  I got her a very nice necklace with Our Lady of Guadalupe on it.  The boys sent one of their tennis balls.  I am sure she would have cherished the ball the most.  She loved my boys, maybe more than I do, if that is possible.  That woman lit up like a Christmas tree when I would bring one to visit.

The day of her viewings was ugly.  It was a rainy, ugly day.  I really didn't notice too much.  Thursday, the day we buried her was one of the most gorgeous days we have had this year.  It was a sunny day with a nice breeze.  It was a day she would have loved, it was her kind of day.  It was a very fitting day.  She is buried next to her mother.  I am sure they are bickering (with love) already.

I am going to miss my mom.  It was a blessing for her to pass.  She had no life.  She is at peace now.  She left me four years ago, but it still hurts.  I am never going to see her again or get to tell her I love her again.  I always told her I loved her before I left so I know I said it to her the last time I saw her, but I just wished I could say it once again.  God speed, Mom.  I love you.