Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Words On A Wednesday

The house is suddenly empty. We took the last box to the local Post Haste store and shipped pillows and hangers to my mother, who was at that very moment flying south to her new home. We stopped at the local market afterwards and bought something for dinner at the deli case-- tofu, veggie egg rolls, coconut basmati rice. Date night on our first night in four months without my mom.

When we got home Roger put on the mellowest music we have: Stephen Halpern's Chakra Suite. We track my mom's flight online as she gets farther and farther away from us and closer to the new life she had chosen. Yes, she had regrets. She couldn't even remember why she wanted to leave, but all was done, packed and shipped. My sister came to get her and take her back south.

At the beginning of the day there was chaos at the tiny airport when we they were leaving. My sister found out that their baggage was not going to be automatically transferred to the next connecting flight because it wasn't with the same airlines. She was going to have to schlep three extremely heavy suitcases, her heavy laptop bag, and my mother in a wheelchair at one of the busiest airports in California where you have to take trains to get from one terminal to another. WHAT? The chaos and angst overtook the moment of farewell. I barely was able to give my mother the hug I had planned and the words I wanted to say.

It was just, "Bye ma! I love you." A wave and not even a look back.

And so it goes, and so it goes. We're expecting four inches of rain in the next two days. She's off to sunny southern California. These photos were taken on the day we took my sister to see the marsh. Our new life begins.

PS-- All went well on the flights. There was assistance by airline crew and everything went smoothly and right on time. A sigh of relief all around. 

47 comments:

  1. "a sigh of relief ..." I'm glad it all worked out.

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    1. Susannah-- Thank you. It was a long, sad day.

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  2. Is your mother an Aries sun? She seems to have a lot of energy to move on to the next place. And you have had so much energy to welcome her to your place and support/enable her move to the next place, with unconditional love. Blessings everywhere.

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    1. Infrafrenata-- My mom was born September 25, 1925. I'm going to put those dates in an online horoscope thing and see what she is besides Libra. These moves in the past seven months have been very tough on her, but we are all hoping that she feels stronger and more resilient after she settles into her new place. I told her she has so many stories to tell. How many seniors can say they lived on the north coast of Humboldt County? Thank you for your kind words.

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    2. Well. 180 degrees out. Still, a cardinal sign with get up and go and good that you support her in being actively herself. And that you and Roger can be actively (and sometimes quietly) yourselves too.

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  3. In this moment I am sad for you. Hopefully all are starting to adjust to their new lives already. I am quite happy to hear the flights and luggage transport went well, though.

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    1. Colette-- Last night I kept looking into her empty bedroom and feeling those pangs of sadness. I wish we could have made it work, but I do think more sunshine and more social interactions will help her.

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  4. ((hugs)) Your entire family is lovely. Making sure your beloved Mother has what she needs and is where she needs to be in any given moment....glad her travels went well my friend.

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    1. Garden State Kate-- We really try to make things work. We've had four-way conference calls among my siblings and me trying to figure things out. My mother is very much-loved. We're waiting to see how this move goes...Sigh.

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  5. I admire how your family comes together, is there for one another. I have noticed that airport staff, even at the horribly busy and sprawling hubs, are generally still encouragingly humane toward the elderly and other passengers in real need of assistance. I suspect your mom and sister have some good karma in the assistance department anyway. Anyway, ch-ch-ch-changes! I wish you all a sweet new chapter.

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    1. Jennifer-- We really do try to come together for each other. We are pretty close emotionally even after having lived zillions of miles apart for nearly 45 years. Coming of age in the 1960s was quite a time! True about the airport staff, thankfully.

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    1. Larry-- I'll tell her you wrote that! Michael is driving south as I type this to help my mom settle in to her new assisted living facility. He is such a good, gentle support.

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  7. I love that your mom is still able to make her own choices and carry them out. I wish her happy times ahead. Hope you won't miss her too much. I love how you two rip it up on date night with Chakra Suite and tofu. Made me grin.

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    1. jsk-- She made her own choices, but sadly out of her own momentary angers and disappointments. Still, we are hopeful she will be happy in her new place. Oh yes, we definitely "rip it up" with Chakra Suite and tofu. It's one of our favorite ways of calmly ending a hectic day. (You made us laugh out loud!)

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  8. I hope she will be happy with this choice. She might know what she didn't want but knowing what she can have is often very different as we get old. Not a fun aspect of old age. I am glad you are understanding of her need to have control over her life. It's not easy as we age.

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    1. Rain-- You make the perfect distinction between knowing what she didn't want and knowing what she does. Those two things shifted often. We're hoping that she feels like she made the right choice and embraces it fully.

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  9. Sad and wistful words, Robin. It was a loving and grand experiment all the way down the line. Perhaps a sibling conference is warranted to discuss what if she is not pleased with her new arrangement. A united front and mutual support is crucial. How many more moves can be endured by the family?

    Enjoy your new slower pace. Be kind to yourself -- you went above and beyond the call.

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    1. Tara-- It really was a loving and grand experiment. I have so long embraced the notion of multi-generational families. But I have had my consciousness raised by the reality of the times in which we live. The nuclear family destroyed the very fabric of family. Our patchwork response is full of love and despair.

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  10. I know this tugs at your heart. I hope her next chapter is peaceful and that she feels in control. I know you did your absolute best to make her comfortable and feel loved. It must be hard. I'm so glad you and Roger have each other. And music. Much love.

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    1. Yankee T-- It does tug at our hearts. We told her before she left if the new life doesn't work out for her, after she has given it her best, we'll come down and get her and bring her back. She knows who we are, how quiet we are, how self-contained we are. If she still wants to come back and be with us, we'll do it. We want her to know how loved she is.

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  11. I was glad to see your post script at the end. Hopefully this new adjustment will work for the best for everyone.

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    1. Sharon-- I just spoke with her and she sounded fine. I am impressed with her ability to adjust to such a big shift in reality.

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  12. Departures are always fraught with unspoken anxieties. I'm glad it all resolved in the end.

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    1. Paul-- We are so relieved to be on the other side of this huge change and have my mom doing well. So far, day 1.

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  13. I'm glad someone else has date nights. I love that photo of the pilon and the reflection.

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    1. Bill-- Our date nights are wonderful evenings at home when neither of us cooks, the food is yummy, and there are very few dishes to clean up afterwards! Glad you like that photo. Thank you.

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  14. She was loved embraced in her stay with you....what a good thing. And, thank you for the Chakra music....perfect and mellow for a very dank and rainy day! Peace, Michael and Andie

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    1. MandT-- Yes she was, definitely loved and embraced. Not without its difficulties, but always with love. Glad you like that Chakra music. A neighbor in Port Townsend, WA gave it to us ten years ago and we listen to it very often. It's our "home" music.

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  15. my heart is heavy for you as I watch the rain come down outside my window here on the opposite coast. although I am your contemporary, I identify a bit with your mom, as my uncertain future stretches before me: retirement, a child on each coast, not sure what I want... I send peaceful energy to you all.

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    1. Maryanne-- I wish we had something in our country like BabaYaga in France. It's a community living space for women who want to live in a "feminist old-lady paradise." That would be a wonderful thing to look forward to. Thank you for your peaceful energy.

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  16. An empty nest is a quiet one. I am sorry it didn't work out for all concerned and hope your Mom will be happy in the Assisted Living arrangement. It will be a long trip to visit for you but thankfully today, everyone is just a dial or click away.

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    1. Arkansas Patti-- Ah yes, that empty nest sound...the whoosh of quiet. We hope for the best for her. She really needs social interaction and physical stimulation to keep steady on her feet in all ways.

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  17. In the end it may have just simply been about being in familiar territory where she felt like she was in more control of her life and not as dependent. What she may prefer most is all her chickadees nesting where she lives even though that can't happen! I am happy to hear day 1 seems ok. I am sorry you are missing her but glad you 2 have a full life and are flexible. Wishing I had some of her southern CA sunshine right now. Brrrrr... it is cold here.

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    1. Sky-- Yes, my mom has lived in southern CA for 46 years. It is definitely home for her. And last night, after the long journey of two planes, she got to feel her first great-grandson kick in his mother's belly. And really, that is worth the trip in every way. Yes, sunshine would be nice, wouldn't it? Oy.

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  18. It would be hard for her to be so far from what she's known much of her life -- even if the places she has been had people she loves, and who love her.

    Still, lotta changes. Hoping she is able to settle better. And sending much love to you and Roger, and your sibs, for trying so hard. xoxoxo

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    1. kathya-- I am worried about all the changes, but when I spoke to her this morning she sounded like her good chipper self. We're all hoping that this assisted living facility will keep her engaged and happy.

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  19. I have followed this story with great interest for obvious reasons. I can only echo what so many other commenters have said -- what a grand experiment,and how good you and your siblings are at working together to make sure your mother retains some control in her life. And one more thing: I have been amazed at what a difference social interaction makes in the life of a senior citizen. My siblings and I thought we were doing such a good thing, keeping my mother (with Alzheimers) in her own familiar home. But she has been so happy in assisted living because of all the interaction. I truly wish we had made the decision sooner. (Not saying your mom should be in assisted living, just saying, yeah, busy and social is good. xoxo

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    1. Miz S-- Yes, it truly was a grand experiment. We went into it with open hearts and the best intentions. Oy, you know that can devolve rather quickly. My mom has some dementia and stress definitely makes it worse. She had lived in an assisted living facility for four years but that didn't work out quite as well as we had hoped. This new facility is only a mile from my sister. It has a 40% Jewish population, which makes my mom happy. There are Friday night services with a Rabbi right there on the premises. We're hoping she'll get into a reading group. She did like that when she was at the other facility. Our new mantra with her is: USE IT OR LOSE IT. And she knows we're talking about her mental faculties. She understands how important it is to stay mentally active. We'll see how this goes. I'm so happy your mom has responded so well to the assisted living facility. It truly is a wonderful thing for our much-loved elders.

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  20. This post leaves me feeling kind of sad. I'm sure everyone did their best and your mother will be fine, but I suppose it seems kind of like a failure. I also suppose it strikes me that way because of our own experiences with my mother.

    Anyway, I like the photos.

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    1. Mark-- I felt very sad when I was writing it. It does feel like a failure, and we tried so hard to make it work. Lessons learned, but hearts still sound and good. Glad you like the photos.

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  21. A relatively short chapter but so powerful. I'm glad that the three of you gave it a chance; you'll remember the good parts more than the tough times. Recently my sister and I spent a whole afternoon talking about The last five years of Bud's life, after my mom died, and the challenges and rewards. It was a real bonding experience for us as sisters to share stories of our respective roles during those times and to laugh at some really great anecdotes. Enjoy your quiet time together with each other; well deserved.

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    1. Vicki-- Yes, I think you are right about remembering the good parts. I will always appreciate the four months we had together here. Despite the emotional upheavals and conflicts, there was always great laughter, soulful talks, and comforting love. Now, Roger and I are getting used to being our simple twosome again.

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  22. Thank you for writing during these past four months about both the good times and the hard times in connection with your beloved mother. Telling our stories heals us and each other. Your photos are poetry. There is healing there, too. Love from your blog friend, am.

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    1. am-- Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. It has been a heartbreak not having her here. We talk on the phone at least once a day, and I could hear how hard this move was for her. But today she sounded really good and strong. My twin brother has been with her, and she has been staying at my sister's until her bedroom set arrives (tomorrow). So, I think she is in good hands and will adjust to her new place. We need healing all around and in every way these days.

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  23. You write this in such a heartfelt manner. And I love the photos - particularly the water's reflections...

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    1. Optimistic Existentialist-- Thank you! The type of reflection is called skypools.

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