getting my house in order

getting my house in order
it's a jungle out there

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Favorite Things: Pantry Edition



My brain needs a break, so I'm playing along with the ever-optimistic Mrs. 4444




damn I love this movie

*****

OK. So my pantry sucks. Just ask my kids.
You can ask my babysitter, too.
She feeds my kids dinner 3 nights a week
I need to do something about my work schedule

My pantry contains 17 boxes of Barilla pasta
9 cans of Goya Black Bean Soup
4 boxes of Silver Palate Oatmeal
6 cans of Progresso Chickarina
and
3 packages of Oreos
2 packages of Chips Ahoy Chunky

the kids have to eat something, right?

So. None of this stuff falls under the heading of favorite

yes, adrienne, that is Tostitos Salsa Con Queso
made with real cheese
what?!?
I regularly have a houseful
of 13 year old smelly boys

that real cheese just makes those boys smell
even better


the good new is I'm married to a chef
who occasionally brings home super special amazing things

an ounce of saffron in a beautiful box
that's a lot of saffron
I think back in the day you could get 3 wives and a camel
for that much saffron

another beautiful container
2 lbs of salted anchovies

what the fuck am i gonna do with
2 lbs of salted anchovies?
spread it on the oreos?

but I do love the can


this, though, is my favorite pantry item
extra virgin
cold pressed
basil infused
organic
olive oil
from Chile

one of the few things I make that my kids actually eat
is bread salad
that basil olive oil on bread salad
in the middle of winter
is like a swoon inducing whiff of summer
yum

just ask Ty
who walked around in said swoon last Christmas break
with his nose pressed to the glob of homemade play dough
that he oh-so-industriously made
one morning while I was sleeping in

mmmm.... mommy smell the playdough I made...
it smells like basil from the garden

it sure did

Happy Pantries!

Friday, June 25, 2010

show yourselves


I can't sleep. I'm tired, but these days I'm up late and awake early. It's OK. I'll sleep next week.

Maybe

*****

Sister Melanie scanned a bunch of photos onto her laptop and a montage of our mom's life played on a big screen throughout the wake last night.

I was mesmerized.

Photos from infancy up until just this February. Old black and whites that look like they should be in a coffee table book.
Memories of the Great Depression. The Real Grapes of Wrath. This Is How Dirty Kids Get When There Is No Running Water.

Amazing, captivating photos. Swaddled in bed next to my oh so handsome grandfather. She and her big brother as babies in the tar paper shack in which she was born. Five little kids roaming around with Prince, their Canine Protector. Damn she loved that dog.

I could go on and on. Pictures from EVERY stage and age of her life. It was amazing.
Did I say that already?

Everyone was mesmerized. Over the three hours there was not a single minute when eyes were not glued to the screen.

It was her whole life.

Pictures of their wedding. There were 7 people there. Including them. It was illegal in half the states for them to marry. She wore a white Jackie O type dress and a little pillbox with that netting stuff over her eyes. He wore a black suit. They tossed rice. The couple who was their best man and matron of honor stood last night and saw the pictures he had taken 48 years ago after the ceremony. Oh lord the look on his face when those picts came up on the screen I took those pictures! The only thing that made me cry last night was looking into the eyes of that old friend, my mom's matron of honor. I felt like I was being sucking into a wormhole. It felt like those moments in Lost when they remembered. We held each other's hands and looked in to each other's eyes and so many memories popped in to my head. We just looked at each other and felt the connection that was my mother.

That's when I lost it. So I sat with Bruce and buried my head in his shoulder and he whispered stuff in to my ear and I felt better. He's good at that.

Pictures of her in her 30's and 40's. So hip in a not even trying way. I mostly remember her in sweatpants. She was like me. She just wanted to be comfortable and only sometimes really cared how she looked. Sitting in a bikini at the swim club. Sitting at a party. Sitting in the dining room.
Sitting with my dad at a party. The two of them looking totally Mod Squad. Stunning.
She had told us that picture was taken at a key party. They had met a nice couple and been invited to a party which turned out to be an honest to god 70's wife swap affair. Put your keys in a bowl. Close your eyes and pick a key. That's who you go home with.

OMG. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?

They got the hell out of Dodge. I'm not sure if they laughed over it or freaked the fuck out. We all got a helluva good laugh though. To think that our parents were cool enough to be unbeknownst to them invited to that kind of party. too funny

A guy we knew as kids from our church youth group watched the montage. At my dad's 80th birthday party I remember him saying
there was always something about you Patrick sisters. Like The Virgin Suicides.

He looked at the screen and said MILF. I cracked up. He claimed it just slipped out. I said I know, right? She was hawt. And look at that one. Drunk and hawt. He said you can't beat that. Jack said did he just say MILF? Mom do you know what that is? Are you sure? Do you really know what MILF means?
I said with a sigh yes Jack, I really know what MILF means. Jack said did he just say MILF and Grums in the same sentence?
I said jeez Jack look at her. She was gorgeous.

Gorgeous. Not in the classic way. She had the high cheekbones and curved nose and hooded eyes of her Shawnee ancestors. She always hated her nose. She had the fair skin and hazel eye of her Norwegian mother. Thick brown hair that I think always kind of aggravated her.

Pictures with all of us through the years. Pictures with her grandchildren. Pictures of her visiting her family of origin on the west coast. She maybe saw them half a dozen times over the past 50 years.

Sister Adrienne looked at me and said she looks happy. in all the pictures she's happy

I don't understand. In my memory, she was never happy. But in these dozens and dozens and dozens of pictures she's happy. Not just smiling.
A happiness you can see in her eyes.

I wish I remembered her as happy. I wish I had known her better. I wish she could have let us in. She didn't know how. But it was such a relief to see that she wasn't as miserable as I remember. She had many moments of happiness.

Kori wrote this. It really moved me this week.
If I could be so bold as to say to all you mamas: Let your children in. Don't worry so much about teaching and setting an example. Don't worry at all about the laundry and dust. Let your children see who you really are. Tell them stories of your childhood. Write down your memories and what makes you tick. The good and the bad. Let them know you as WOMEN. Be honest about who you are.
Drag them to soccer. Be a PTA mom. Or a career woman. Or whatever. But let your babies know the REAL YOU.

That goes for Daddys, too.

I wish I had known their secrets. There's no need for secrets. We're human and flawed. We're human and amazing.
We're magical. We're super heroes.

Let your children in.
Please.


Monday, June 21, 2010

And so it goes...


I kept waking up with heartburn.

I never have heartburn. Especially at night.

And heartburn that's so bad it's waking me up? NEVER

I kept waking up and thinking I should go get a Pepcid AC. And then I'd think this is ridiculous. I don't get heartburn. I'm going back to sleep.
And I'd roll on my side and fall back to sleep. Then I'd wake up from the heartburn again.

WTF?

At 7am my phone woke me up. A text from Sister Melanie.
Mommy says she wants to move on...

By noon we were all there.
Mia gave Her the pink fuzzy monkey she's been wanting to give Her all week, but kept forgetting in the car.
Which was OK with me as contact precautions had been put into place and nothing sticks to pink fuzz like C. diff.

Jacqui came in and said oh She found her pink fuzzy thing and pointed to the monkey Mia had balanced on her Grumsie's chest.

????

Jacqui said She kept asking for it last night. Kept looking in the bed sheets saying where's that pink fuzzy thing?
It's important. It needs to stay safe. It must have changed color...

Guess She knew there was a pink fuzzy thing in Her future.

She kept asking for the time. Asking how long before everyone gets here? What time is it now? How much longer?

There were a lot of people in that hospital room.

By noon we were all there. Sister Melanie got each of the west coast siblings on speaker phone. She was their Big Sister.
Five phone calls later and She had said Her good-byes.

She even said Her I love you-s. And each time She said it, the words came more easily.
Until finally, speaking to Her baby brother, She said the words first.

will wonders never cease

She searched all our faces as we huddled around Her hospital bed. Back and forth. Back and forth. Making sure we were all there.
She whispered something to Sister Melanie. I heard Her say communicate to Michelle...

She wants Ty to play Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring at Her funeral.

Sister Adrienne looked at me and said She does NOT have a tin can heart

Then She was ready.

The nurse stopped the IV meds that were keeping Her heart pumping. After a while they started a morphine drip.

We held Her hands.

And we waited.

Over the hours, we watched Her heart rate slow. Watched Her respirations slow. Heard them get jagged. Watched Her O2 drop.

We brushed Her hair.

And we waited.

They increased Her morphine.

We held Her hands some more.

And we waited

Around 11pm things got pretty raucous. We were cracking ourselves up remembering the wild parties thrown when we were teenagers and They were away on vacation. Who smoked what when. Who drank what where. Who did donuts at the top of the hill. Who answered the door when the police knocked. Who set fire to what.

Good times.

Then suddenly, at 11:25, we all got quiet. Like a gong had rung. The stories stopped. The laughter stopped. We were quiet. And waiting.

At 11:45 I collected Mia up from her napping place in the waiting room. At midnight Ty looked at the clock and said it's 12. At 12:08 I looked at the monitors and tapped Sister Adrienne on the arm. We all gathered close. Watched the blips. One breath. Watched the lines. No breath. Saw the zeros. No breath. Saw the red flashes. No breath.

pulseless

She wants Her ashes mixed with His and divided up so we each can sprinkle them in our gardens

pulseless

She wants Ty to play the cello at Her funeral

pulseless

She tried damn hard to hold out until Her 9th grandbaby was born

pulseless

but not so heartless after all


June 21. Summer solstice 2010



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

crazy hearts


That goddamfucking song keeps going through my head.

Dr NewGuy biopsied her heart last week.

I know, right?

HEART BIOPSY... that's just crazy.

What's even crazier is that he's been looking at heart tissue for 25 years.
Head of the transplant team. And he looks at her crazy heart tissue and can't identify it.
He's never seen heart cells like her's before. So he had a pathologist from Mt Sinai look.
And this cardiac tissue special pathology guy in NYC has never seen anything like it either.

Of course

The Sisters don't understand how it's possible that the specialists HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE

I say CAUSE WE'RE FUCKING FREAKS OF NATURE! but we already knew that

While he was doing the biopsy he told her your heart is like a tin can
Yup. She was awake. She watched little pieces of her tin can heart plunk in to a cup of water

eeek

Yesterday at work I was singing about crazy hearts in the halls between patients.
By the end of the day I felt all hot and hollow and empty and heavy.
Like the Tin Man or a hundred year old dented Can O'Beans left out in the sun.

I sent Bruce a text saying
I don't know if I'm feeling xtremely sad or xtremely guilty or both


The fresh ganesh on my back was a constant reminder on the drive down this morning.
Remover of Obstacles


The damn song kept popping into my head the whole way down.
This ain't no place for the weary kind It made my eyes leak pick up your crazy heart, give it one more try and my nose sting.
Crossing the parking lot I thought she'd really like that movie.

I don't know if she'll get the chance to see it this ain't no place to loose you're mind

I found her room in the CCU.
I looked at her with my leaky eyes and she looked at me and said it's not supposed to be this hard

and BANG

40 plus years of awkwardness and alien feelings and distance and discomfort melted away and I was just... me. And she was just her.
We were just two women in this moment in this life's experience and without thinking
I took her hand I remember being 8 and SO uncomfortable holding her hand and I looked at her and said
you're right its not supposed to be this hard. Your whole life it's been like this your body aches. I love you mommy.

46 yrs 7 months 2 days. And I said it first. And it was not hard

I'm going back tomorrow



Sunday, June 13, 2010

we keep on keepin on






It's a rainy day in Lloyd...
oops... sorry... just wishful thinking I guess






there are actually women with whom I work who have said to me I wanna be you


and I reply are you fucking kidding me? there's no way in HELL you'd wanna be me


Ms. Moon might say the same thing to me...




anyhoo...


this rainy Sunday morning I'm thinking of all the women I know in person and in blogland who
keep on keepin on


through internal and external challenges struggles tragedies we
pick up our crazy hearts and give it one more try


we move through it and keep loving and learning and creating beauty


and then we love some more


oh yes we do


So here at the Beacon Satellite Chapel of the Church of the Batshit Crazy
I'm giving thanks and sending love and prayers to all you bad ass crazy hearted awesome women
who keep on keepin on


You know who you are...


Amen









Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eat it with a bite of ham


That's what she used to say when we complained about the side dish. Or when something was too salty. Or when something was too dry.

When something was hard to swallow.

Eat it with a bite of ham. Or eat it with some macaroni and cheese back in the day mac n cheese was homemade and special

Eat it with some mayonaise. that never went over too well


A few days ago, I got a text from Sister Melanie that said something along the lines of could you be the medical liason going forward with Dr. NewGuy cause it will all make sense to you. She asked very gingerly and used a big word for if it's too much trouble... onerous.

I try to be funny when I post. I try to be serious. But most of all I try to be honest.

I honestly looked at that text and the first thing I thought was godfuckingdammit sorry lo what excuse can I make to get out of this?

Honestly. My first reaction was to get the hell out of Dodge. Not that I've spent very much time there lately.

Then I thought come on cowboy up cupcake or pony up cowboy or however the fuck the saying goes

I took a deep breath and texted back of course no problem I'll call in the morning after they round

I had a vision of Sister Melanie and Sister Adrienne and Sister Halona sitting around a cauldron like the three hags in Macbeth
tho they are FAR from hag-like

fair is foul and foul is fair

oooh... guilt... oooh... responsibility... oooh... the right thing to do...

I told Bruce Sister Melanie shouldn't have had to ask me. I should have been doing this all along

sigh

I spoke briefly with her new cardiologist yesterday. Heart failure. He seemed confident but not in an arrogant way.
He works with a nurse practitioner. He called me. Nice.

OK FINE I'll go visit. I called her after speaking with Dr. NewGuy and said out loud I'll come see you tomorrow that way I couldn't back out I'll come early to catch them when they round.

She sounded happy that I was coming

I'm not sure when I last spoke to her, other than after Mother's Day. I saw her in February at a family thing. I don't remember Easter. I think I've seen her once since cause I remember saying to her Halona's not gonna make it to her due date. But I don't remember when that was. shitforbrains

She was in the hospital. Then she was out. Then back in. Then in a nursing home. Always in heart failure.

no call no show that was me

I showed today.
Dr. NewGuy came in and was straightforward with few words and not so easy to read.
But his labcoat was inscribed with Head of Heart Failure and Transplant or something like that

You gotta be good if you're the head of a heart transplant team in New York. Right?

The cocktail he prescribed yesterday to rid her body of the 15 lbs of fluid collecting in her lower half due to a broken and tired heart wasn't working.

hmmm... I'm going to be more aggressive. We'll up the lasix and add blah blah blah

OK

Sister Halona arrived with baby and hubby to join the fun

About a half hour later Dr. NewGuy came back in. He leaned at the end of the bed and said
something's not right with you

I literally saw hearts. Like those cartoon puffy hearts that float around your head when the hero shows up

He said I looked back further in your history and something's not adding up. Something's not right. I think you may have polymyositis and it's destroying your heart muscle because blah blah blah blah I won't bore you all with the medical details

He has a plan

My mom's face kind of lifted I've thought for a long time that I might have polymyositis

????

Of course she never said anything, as Sister Halona pointed out.

My mom is really good at sucking it up. In a lot of ways. She's probably too good at it which explains why she sat in that nursing home wanting to go to the ER for 3 days and didn't tell anyone. Well, she told the dumbass doc over there who pretty much ignored her.

She didn't raise hell. That's so not her style. After her friend Lorraine kicked her butt and told her she had to stand up for herself she called 911 and had them pick her up at the nursing home and take her to the ER. I think she was pretty sure it was the end.

Her old cardiologist transferred her to the Medical Center where they take the challenging and difficult cases. Hence Dr. NewGuy. And it seems like it's not quite her end yet. He may have an answer.

He left the room and we googled polymyositis

Oh my dawg

symptoms:
difficulty swallowing I'm having a hard time swallowing my food I have to take every bite with a drink of water I have to put mayonaise on everything to get it to go down for years. She went to specialists. She had tests. blah blah blah

difficulty speaking my voice starts out ok but by the end of the day it's just a croak years

weakness
inability to easily get out of a chair or bed
inability to raise arms or lift objects over your head can you get that down off the top of the refrigerator top shelf in cupboard closet I can't reach over my head my arms are too weak

She said this morning she had to put a glob of margarine on each bite of scrambled egg just to get it down. I suspect she's lived most of her life in far more physical and emotional pain than we're aware. She sucks it up good. She raised daughters who suck it up good, too.

But we also raise hell

Cowboy up, cupcake.
Pony up, cowboy.

Eat it with a bite of ham

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.