Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dying isn't for the faint of heart.

As  I sat by my mother's bedside today, as she stared up at the ceiling, I talked to her about who she will soon see waiting for her. My mother is dying and it should be much easier than it is. For the last 11 years she has been failing (she will be 87 in a few days) as her life became a living nightmare for those who loved her. First she start stumbling and then a dementia started to play out. She still could go get her nails done, hair colored an occasional lunch with friends and the caregivers. She was happy to go and wanted to continue her way of life but life had another plan for her.

 She stopped being able to walk and her muscles atrophied and she started to hurt from lack of use. Slowly over the last 11 years everything was soon of no interest to her. She would stare sometimes blankly and if engaged in a conversation she would ask as soon as it concluded, "so what is new" and the story would be repeated. Finally all activities stopped and she was  a shadow of her former self (she owned a successful jewelry business for 40 years and was known all over the world).

 The visits to the beauty salon to dye that previous beautiful natural red hair stopped, the nails were no longer polished and beauty and makeup, which was so important to my mom, also waned and stopped. She now lays in her bed waiting to die but still on those very  limited lucid minutes will remember she wanted to live to be 100 (her dad died at 42 after having a heart attack at 32).

 Even hose thoughts are all but gone and now when she is awake and you ask her if she is ready to go she will say yes. Within the last month she has had so much pain that we are giving her pain patches which help her relax and sleep. She is no longer interest in eating. Her doctor is advising us on how to make this passing as easy as possible. My mother without modern medicine would have already died. She had a major heart attack in her 60's and was given an angioplasty with stents and she bounced back. Medicines lowered her cholesterol and all her inherited issues from her father and mother. Modern medicine kept her going until now.

I struggled with my Mom for most of my life but somewhere after years of therapy for me, I came to a peaceful way to communicate and we got along. Did we hang out, not really ever. Did we have deep conversations, never, I do have one wonderful letter my Mom wrote me when I was getting divorced which was the most loving letter I have ever received from anyone. I cherish it and just read it to my sister and family. It spoke about our inability to talk to each other and how letter writing was always better for us. I agreed at the time.

As I watched her today, I wish I had a magic formula to help her pass quickly and easily but that is not the case today in our state. Thank goodness I have a loving sister who was always much closer to my Mom and she and the doctor have worked closely to end her pain and make the transition from this earth to what awaits all of us.

As I sat today and told my mom I loved her very much and she did a great job and it was okay to let go, she listened and kept looking at the ceiling. Finally after a time she said a simple thank you and that was enough for me. I have done what I needed to do. The caregivers are all sad as well as they watch on a much more intimate basis, my mother's fading. The care has been amazing and loving and the one main caregiver's kids grew up calling my mom grandma and they too. at 12 and 5. will miss her. My kids and my sister's kids (the grandchildren) have all said goodbye when they visited last week. The great grand kids have gone to visit her in much better times and fairly recently when it was too sad for even the older ones to understand, so those visits are over.

It is now a waiting game which has no winners. Her body will continue to break down as more and more pain patches are administered and the time will pass, as my Mom finds her peace and lets go. For me, there is a sorrow that I will now be an orphan, as my dad died 11 years ago soon.

As I think about my childhood and all that it entailed it has been a gift and blessing and I am so full of gratitude for the life I was given by this very strong, determined mother who changed before my eyes from a 50's mom to a powerhouse. I inherited my strength and strong will from her. And because of my struggles, I learned to believe in myself and the ability to take care of myself and be proud to be who I have become. Thank you mom for the struggles and the love which I knew was there even though it often very hard for us to communicate.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The New Year is already starting out great.

I just finished spending time with 3 of my 4 grand kids. We had special outings and enjoyed the Ronald Reagan library, Baseball Center, American Girl Doll shopping, ice skating, Netflix and lots of other activities while they were on winter break. Now as winter (80's today) approaches I look forward to more comfort food, back to painting and more writing. The year ended with 4300 gift bags for the incarcerated women in SoCal and county facilities through ACWIP and end of the year visits with friends and family.

Now that I shifted my apartment work and Mom's accounting to my sister and her husband, I have even more free time to volunteer. Today I was asked to be on the board of my new favorite charity POPS out of Venice High School, under the leadership of Dennis Dansinger and Amy Friedman. It is a school club where all it's members (high school students (have to have a connection with someone in prison). I was honored to talk to the group about mentoring and also donating money for their food lunches, cooked by another volunteer who happens to be a chef. I was included in their holiday party where a complete holiday meal was made. For some of these students this will be their only holiday party, I contributed cookies that were a big hit. The kids are learning to write about their feelings and the impact of having a relative in  prison. It makes my heart and soul weep for some of their losses. I look forward to being more involved with this wonderful group of good souls.

I have started painting again after a lull for a few months. I am back to my collage making as this represents me best. I love having a studio in my garage. It is easy and I feel like I am on a retreat when there.

After over 10 years of training in a gym with my wonderful trainer, I have quit. My trainer was fabulous but the private gym she used was awful. The woman who owns it doesn't need the money so she has less than zero customer service and even though I was paying a token amount because I used a trainer from there, I finally had had enough of her attitude and lack of smile. She continued with this behavior the entire 10 years I was there. In the end I got feisty and started just hating being there so I decided to let this go. My trainer and I will remain friends and if she ever changes location I am back.

I started swimming last year after meeting Michelle at a Spirited Women  meeting and was immediately entranced with her Aqua Chiro training. Every since February I have swam 2 times a week in an outdoor pool. It is the best thing I could have done for myself. This year I will increase to three times a week. Swimming for me and being in water makes me happy. I love the water and anything that gets me in a pool or the ocean works for me. Plus Michelle is a great coach and we have become friends which makes the training even more wonderful. I am purely entranced in a pool and the time goes quickly. Also, my body feels so much better and that is always a good thing.

As you all know I have had a friend named D for almost 14 years. We have been lovers, friends, friends with benefits, friends without benefits and now once again just enjoying each other's company while just being friends. There is something that ties us together even though we have had a few bad years as well as great times.  We are not matched for marriage in any way or even living together but our love for each other continues to let us keep trying anything to stay connected. Actually, sometimes it is extremely difficult and then other times as smooth as silk. Since neither of us have been connected to others we just drift back. I would think that since we are both open about finding others when we do, the relationship probably will change again. My friends are not real happy when I see him but it is up to me to choose what I want. Yes, he did something awful once many, many years ago and has more than made up for it in my mind. My grand kids love him  and that is good enough for me right now.

I have been more spiritual lately, reading cards, attending more spiritual events and commenting on blogs and radio shows that deal with spirits, angels and life. My life is balanced to me and I am living each day with gusto and enthusiasm for the hear and now and  the future.

I am blessed to be able to travel and plan many trips for this year. I will be attending weddings, Bat Mitzvahs and traveling to Cuba in the first half of this year and then who knows what the the rest of the year holds. But whatever evolves I will enjoy it by sharing it with family and friends. I love Facebook for giving me so many new friends that I have met in person and those that  I only know through their posts.

Here's wishing everyone in my sphere a new joy of adventure, love and spirit.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Year in review

As I look back on 2013, I wanted to thank my followers and supporters here and on facebook. I am a very blessed person and not a day goes by that I am not grateful.  As my tea leaf reading revealed 2014 will see more goddess energy and continued good fortune and for this I am thankful. As the year ends I wanted to send out super blessings for all those that need support in 2014 and who are realizing their dreams, healing and searching for their greatness. To my family, another year of love, joy and good health. To my grand kids who amaze me everyday and to my grown sons, who I am lucky enough to witness their adventures with their wives and kids and to see them turn out as I imagined (actually better). I see travel in my future with visits to my friends who are getting married  as their state changed the laws on gay marriage. I see soaking and relaxing in my new hot tub and a continued exploration of me. As I age, I find taking care of myself in all ways, both physical and metaphysical, will keep me balanced and growing. I wish all wishes come true for my family and friends and a year of joy, peace, good health and amazing sunrises and sunsets. Bring on 2014.

Monday, October 14, 2013

When it is time to wish someone death for all the right reasons.

WOW, I haven’t written in a while. Have you ever wanted someone to die for all the right reasons? I bet that got your attention. Let me explain. My Mom is 86 years old and lives a miserable life as it is presented. She once was a business owner with lots of vim and vigor and a busy spirit. She was beloved by her friends and while being a private person managed to have some long term friendships. Then my dad died and her world changed. She continued her
business until it became impossible. She had outlived her Dad who died at 42 of heart disease. Because of modern medicine and surgeries she has doubled his life.

But back to reality. She has no life as I see it and if she were capable of seeing that, she would have done herself in. But now she wants to live to 100 so she says on any given day. It saddens me tremendously that she is bedridden and in pain. All her joints and body parts ache. Her feet are mangled like a Chinese Bound Woman’s feet (from wearing terrible shoes and surgeries gone awry).

She never wrote her desires but gave my sister and I full power over her health care. We are in the driver’s seat and my sister and I are in agreement to do nothing to help her live. She has caregivers who are wonderful people who put up with her mood swings and help her the best they can. She bites and pinches on occasion and they just are still so sweet to her. She has no bed sores and is well taken care of. Almost too well.

We have taken her off all meds and will not treat anymore for anything. As long as she asks to eat we will have her fed. She can’t see any more from cataracts that can’t be treated. She remembers my sister and me when we visit but mostly she sleeps. She goes out once a week to have her nails done and eat out. She no longer has her hair tinted more red than gray. Now she is all gray and this would bother her if she could see or knew this fact.

Funny about memory, it puts you in a state of pretend. My Mom lives in a fantasy world when she is not sleeping. She thinks she drives and is capable of everything. She is beginning to realize that this is not the truth. But if you ask her on any given day she is ready to die and then hopes to live to 100.

If you knew my Mom you would know this is not the life she wanted, ever. But, what is a daughter or in this case two daughters to do.  Absolutely nothing. We can love her and make sure she is comfortable and hope that her heart gives out or some other organ fails her. This is what we wish for every night for our Mom. Our real Mom left long ago and her shell remains strong due to all the meds and surgeries she was given to live longer than her Dad. She has done that and now for the last 10 years she has been slowing declining but still alive in a body that long ago gave out.

I took two of her great grandkids to see her and she wouldn’t wake up from her nap. As we tried to let her know they were there she yelled and was mad we were trying to wake her. She tried to open her eyes but they refused to help. She would be so pissed to have done that to them. We left after 15 minutes of trying. As we were leaving my 9 year old grandson said to me,”grammie that is no way to live” and I agreed with him. I told him sometimes we now live too long. He felt bad and hoped that didn’t happen to me. I told him not to worry it won’t and we stopped the conversation there. I have plans in place, I have signed and dotted every t. I have friends who will help and if they have to drive me to Oregon and drop me off on the street so be it. We should be allowed to die when ready. It is finding that balance when it happens to you and you can still make the decision to end your own life.

I understand if some people don’t agree, but like every decision it must be our own if we are capable. Otherwise the person we have appointed as our person in charge must make hard choices. My Mom did that and we are trying to help her with her time left on earth. We will not let her suffer and we will use no gallant measures to save her, under any condition. She wants us to be in charge and we are committed to that charge.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Friendships shift and old and new mingle and some get left behind

For the last few years I have had a shift in interests and with that always comes a shift in friendships. Some lose interest in my new interests and others come to me because of my new interests. Every year for the last 42 years (minus last year as I was in Provincetown) my birthday (Halloween) brings my different friends together for my annual party. Since it is Halloween it has become a tradition to invite all my friends over for the same food and same type of cake (Hansen's) each and every year. Most actually look forward to catching up once a year. My neighborhood of course comes with their kids and my new friends mix with old ones. My old friends are always amused where and how I have found these new faces every year. This year will be no exception, but I digress.

As I tend to do when it comes to evites, I am always interested to see who makes the list. And there in lies my contemplation. In the last few weeks I have found that some relationships don't warrant the invitation anymore as the friendship has not been held up by both ends. I tend to really work at my friendships but as I have gotten older, if I am the only one doing the work, I have let those friendships lapse and there has not been any real consequences. But every once in a while, I am thrilled when we reconnect and it was like yesterday, even though it could have been 15 years ago that we spoke. This has happened this year with both losing and gaining friends and reconnection. I marvel at the ability to catch up with great friends and come to a space where we forgot what drove us apart and rejoice in the catching up and the new/old friendship.

Finding Facebook and developing friendships of the unknown and unseen, other than through words only, is an amazing growth of social media for me. When I traveled last year to meet some of the writers I have connected with on Facebook, and from it was a most remarkable experience. Some of the friendships will now stand the test of time while others were a moment in time and will be just a passing memory.

I have had a lover/friendship/friends with benefits/friends without benefits for 13 years with someone I loved on and off for the entire time. But the end of the run has come and we have not seen or talked in 7 weeks. Today a letter came for him at my house (he has his golf address at my house) and I opened it to see if it needed to be sent to him. It did so I placed it in another envelope and sent it on it's way. No note, no greeting, no nothing and this made me think how much I do or don't miss the interaction. In the beginning I waited for that call, that email, that text as there was still unfinished business, but as the weeks went on (and I have done this a few times with him for longer lengths of time than have passed to date), I began to let go. I no longer had the urge to talk to him and all the worries I had about him started to subside and I knew I could do this. I have felt healthier (other than my summer cold) and clearer of mind. My anxiety level has gone to almost zero (other than children and grandchildren issues which will be forever), I have been at peace. I have filled my time reading and taking myself out to dinner and plays and on adventures,a ll of wish he would not have loved. I am very comfortable going by myself to places. I talk to those seated next to me and I am fine. 13 years is a long time and not make decisions about the future. I knew from day one this was not "the one" but as time went on and we really, really learned so much about each other, the connection was very real. I feel a loss as I did when a friend would disappear. But in the end, if it is to be, it will be manifest as right and brilliant and joyful and shinning. The 13 years were not all of that and mostly it was me trying to make something right that wasn't. I never could adjust to what was and wished for something else not even knowing what that was to begin with.

This week cemented those feelings as I had misgivings with one and trust. Another I was an intermediary trying very hard to see all sides with feelings hurt on one person's part as I tried to explain the others points of view. Reminded me of my mediation days and how unless one looks at oneself conclusions can be reached that are misunderstood (happens with my sons, more than I would like). They think I misconstrue their words and I think they don't hear what I hear. Probably somewhere in the middle with all of us. We always straighten it out because we are family. That is not always the case when it is not family and the ties are not through blood or continuance.

So there you have it. I am in such a fabulous place. I am blessed to love my life, having very little drama and not much in the negative sense. I am blessed to have friends from all walks of life who will stand up to me, next to me and by my side. I work hard at my friendships and am rewarded everyday with kindness and love.

I met a total stranger at a documentary screening with my friend Keisha. We then went to meet them for drinks and conversation. He is an independent director in NYC. I wrote him an email telling how delightful it was to meet him and his buddies and if I got to NYC I would look him up and would look forward to meet his wife, another creative person. This is the email I received back.He is from Germany so his English is a little halting.

Hey Madge,

Sooo awesome to meet u guys. Sorry I was a bit running around the last two days. 
Please keep in touch. You are a bright shining star and keep doing what ur doing. Fun night out too. It's true though...lately I've been very frustrated with what's happening in this many political and social ways...and you are truly giving me hope. ;)

Best Wishes to you and your family. Please let me know when u are in NY!


What could be better than giving someone hope!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Damn cancer

My friend Tanya visited me for the weekend. I met Tanya online through my search for writers for The Next Family. I loved her writing and her enthusiasm for her family. Here was a gay woman who had married three times (twice to the same man), had two sons from those marriages and now was married to the love of her life Erikka. Erikka was pregnant with a baby girl and I followed their adventure. We became friends and when I decided to make the journey to visit our writers Tanya was on my list. I went to Texas, a state I vowed I would not ever go to, but I made the exception for Tanya and her family. Life was good for Tanya and her family. While there I stayed in a hotel and Noah, Tanya's son, stayed with me for one night. I was thrilled that this 11 year old would so willingly stay with a stranger. The visit was wonderful as we toured Dallas and visited all the sights to see. We ate, shopped and just hung out. When I returned home we continued the friendship which was now a real one and not just online. And then one day life changed for Tanya and me by being friends with her. She developed a lump in her breast and with no insurance had passed on mammography's for a few years. Her family history was positive for breast cancer and when she felt the lump, insurance or not (not) she needed to have this looked at. As we all know now it was positive for breast cancer. All the tests were done with medicaid and soon she was under the knife having a double mastectomy. She was stage 3 as 9 out of 15 lymph nodes were positive. I was scared and saddened for my friend. But when I get anxious I go into "do something mode" and thought of everything I could do. Since Tanya was going to be unable to work I started a fund to raise money. As of today I am short of my $10,000 goal but getting closer every day. As the last few months have come and gone, I worried for my friend as she started her chemo and then will follow it up with radiation. She is on a path to healing. She is doing everything right, but as we know with cancer it can sometimes have a mind of its own. Only time will tell but if positivity can cure, Tanya will easily survive. She is a fighter and has mounted her own campaign to wellness with her wife Erikka. She is raising a daughter who at 20 months needs her Mama. Tanya is the main caregiver and it hurt her to have to put Harrison in day care but as everything changes when someone has cancer, Harrison is thriving in her new school. Also she is a new grandmother and with all the new life around her, she is in the fight of her life. This past weekend rather than flying to Texas, I flew Tanya to Los Angeles for a long weekend. She loves the beach and what better place to view the ocean than in the cool climate of Los Angeles. Just to be in the 70's weather and sit on a beach was her dream. We were busy from morning to night. We visited Hollywood, Venice Beach, Malibu, Topanga and Hermosa Beach. She had swimming therapy, manicures and a massage for her. We had meals with other writers from the Next Family and when the four days ended I was so sad she had to leave but glad to have had her here. Tanya will survive, that I am sure of. She is a fighter and has so many people fighting and praying for her.  I am so happy I found Tanya and that we connected in real time. Some people diss Facebook but for me, it has been a real adventure in finding friendship. And to Tanya's family, thanks for sharing Tanya and to Erikka for making this visit easy by just saying go. If you want to help Tanya and contribute to my fund for her click on this link.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A long week

For 15 years I have done my Mom and Dad's accounting and managing three apartment buildings. My sister had my parents house to sell and manage but I have felt for years that I had more to do. But, I also like to control everything so I felt okay being in charge of the money and I am a people person so dealing with tenants was easy for me. My sister doesn't like confrontation so our assigned duties were okay but in recent years, I have become weary. My sister and her husband have made suggestions and I have felt like they were not as satisfied with my management as they could be and would do everything differently. I befriend the tenants and am sympathetic to their needs. My sister, not so much. She sees it more as a business and isn't into the personal touch like me. Finally, the thoughts of getting out started to percolate. I would love to sell the buildings, they are not in favor of it so the logical transition would be for them to manage all of them and my mom's finances as well. I feel my life is taking another direction and since I am by myself and have no backup, I decided it was time to let them do it all. That is when the trouble started. They started mentioning their plans for management and it goes totally against my basic instincts. They are for no interactions with the tenants and if it causes vacancies, so be it. They want to make more money and I am sure it is possible but changes are needed. I have always felt a building full at a lower price was better than constant move in and move outs as rents are raised yearly. They have three daughters who rent and because their rents are always raised each year that is the way they want to go. We have been fighting for weeks as I see a different side of my sister which I totally don't identify with or understand. We both came from the same parents but our sensibilities are so different. Our lifestyles totally different and personalities as well. She is extremely private and I am totally the opposite. She can be in a class and not talk to anyone and I will talk to everyone. I love peoples' stories, she could care less, unless they are her few close friends. I make friends by asking questions and making the effort to know them. She finds people who share too much to hard to be around. I realize I love my life and even though we are so different, she is family and I want it work better as sisters. Also, my sister and I have never been social friends and ours is totally a family relationship. We talk frequently because of my Mom but if she were not alive, there really wouldn't be reasons to talk in my mind. I am close to her daughters but that is a separate relationship and they live out of Los Angeles. They are grown and on their own so as they move to get their masters and permanent jobs, we connect through email or texting. It all culminated in a major reorganization last night, so much that when they came to pick up boxes of crap that I have stored for my parents and the buildings, even Jacked remarked when he came to the living room, "that was awkward Grammie." He picked up on the feud without knowing a thing. My sister and I were cordial but right now I am ready to walk away from everything. They won't buy me out and they won't sell so I am between a rock and a hard place. My dad fought with his own brother when I was small and we ended up being cut off from that side of the family. It worked for us as my dad's parents and sister sided with my dad so really his brother was cut off from everyone in his family. It bothered my dad for his whole life that his brother cheated, in a business they shared, they my dad financed for the brother to even become a partner years before and that it was so egregious to my dad that they never amends made. My sister and I were taught to never let this happen and as the last few weeks have unfolded, I go to a place where I see this happening in real time to us. I don't want, on many levels, this to happen to my sister and myself. But how does one save themselves when values clash and vision differ? Also, not wanting to involve any other family members. When I woke up this morning, I wrote my sister that I am calm now and will just let them do it their way and if it doesn't work, we will work on some other options. I even told Jack I was feeling great this morning and was no longer upset with my sister. He was pleased and only mentioned it to his mom when we came home which was not so great as she tends to support my sister more than me. But that is founded on the fact that I am the mother-in-law and my sister is just a fun Aunt to her and the family. Right now we are in a moratorium. I will give them time to manage and I will take the time to travel and do what I love best, relaxing and doing my own things. And hope that when the dust,grime and all my clean cabinets and drawers are filled with better projects for, we will be better friends and sisters again. Some of the above has been written and thought about in degrees the last few months. Also, mortality has been a big issue for me with my Mom becoming more and more disabled and my recent good friend finding cancer at 42. I am saddened all the time lately by these issues and they have tempered my usually happy engaged self. As night becomes day, things always look better and I feel now that my house is rid of the apartment business and all the check books except my own, my life will travel a better course. Most of these feelings I have kept inside telling bits and pieces in my blog and to a few women friends who I use to vent and now to my facebook family who have shared their stories of sadness, family, tragedy and joy with me. Thanks for giving me an avenue to just be me and speak my mind.