Thursday, April 23, 2015

Somedays, You Just Can't Get Rid of the Bomb - Top 10 Good Things About Dying

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can be, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very soul.


                                                                    Image result for large photo batman you just can't get rid of the bomb

Watching a parent die is one of the hardest thing you can do as an adult child. You wrap yourself up in the "busy-ness" of daily care, household care, financial care; researching the latest symptom, the next scan, the next loss of human dignity your parent must endure. And yet in the end, it's just a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, with you in the Batman suit desperately look for a place to drop it so no one is hurt.

No one escapes this life alive, you we as a human race spend a lot of time and energy pretending we can delay the final appointment we all must attend - our own death. We read all kinds of books on how to live longer; don't eat red meat, eat no meat, eat ONLY meat; spend thousands of dollars on magic pills to stop the aging processes  and resulting wrinkles and even try to cryogenically freeze our bodies for the Frankenstein revival we are sure a 12 year old is now developing an App for.

But really, in the end, there is GOOD in all things, even dying.

1. You get to eat anything you want.
Okay, the 72 oz steak might go down your esophagus only to come up 10 minutes later, but who really cares? My Dad was diabetic--WAS--the 70 pound cancer weight loss became the miracle cure for his diabetes. Once diagnosed, the shopping list read as follows: Donuts, Cookies, Sponge Candy, Hershey Kisses, Ice Cream, Maple Syrup, Apple Pie and Danish. And more candy. And discounted Valentine's day candy, followed by chocolate Easter eggs sales, followed by Girl Scout cookies.

2. You get to drink anything you want.
Yes, the medical world will tell you not to drink because you are on chemo, you're taking radiation, you have pain pills, sleeping pills, pills for diarrhea, pills for nausea, pills to increase appetite, pills for skin rash, pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pills for infections. None of them work well with alcohol. None them are probably good if you have LOTS of sugary drinks,  tons of caffeine, milk shakes for breakfast or pop with morning muffin. At this point, who really cares? Have it anyway.

3.You can stay in your pajamas & slippers and no one notices when they come to visit.
It's funny how little things like your personal appearance don't matter so much when the end is near. Comfort rules. No too tight tiddy whities, no bras that bind, no shoes that pinch your toes. All of it gone, replaced by fluffy soft pajama bottoms that become your favorite fashion accessory.

4. The end of toilet bowl cleaning and floor scrubbing - other people clean your stuff.
Years of vigilant organization and cleaning were vigorously maintained for my Dad by family and friends, and eventually a loving Mom of a neighbor was hired to do it for him. In the beginning, he got to continue being master and commander making to-do lists for the weekly cleaning, but toward the end reality hit home: dirt just really isn't an issue at this point.

5. No more worrying about financial matters. Either you have it or you don't; it's all the same.
Yes, there will be a roller coaster of worry about having enough or what to do with what you have, but the end result of trickle-down economics: we all come in with nothing and we leave with nothing. We are all just as rich as the next guy in the end; a leveling of decades of labor trials happens, so forget about money as your currency and think of love as your currency instead.

6. Pain is triumphed by love.
Remember all the days you called in sick to work, or missed parties because you didn't feel up to it? And then you would hear the stories of something great that you missed, making you wish you were healthy? Well now, you call out of  life and lay in bed because you're sick, you call out of sick and lay in the bed of life, cherishing everything and not missing a thing.

7. It's your special day everyday.
Did you always want to be the Queen, the Big Guy, the Head Dude? Well guess what, now you are. Want to take a trip? Watch all your favorite TV shows for days on end? Demand that everyone listen to you and pay attention for once? Wish that the kids visited more? Now you have it. It's not one day, it's weeks and months, tons more special days that you had in your whole lifetime, so enjoy.

8. People visit all the time and make you laugh.
We all would like to have Jimmy Fallon visit us and do a personal comedy routine in our living rooms and guess what? Everyone you know is Jimmy Fallon. All the funny stories that you ever told, all the adventures you shared, and all the funny things going on while you are in your sick bed will be retold to you again and again. And you will lap it up like it's your favorite ice cream flavor in a ten gallon bucket. It's amazing, it's the gift that keeps on giving everyday in small ways.

9. The Rules No Longer Apply.
Skinny Dipping Is Mandatory. Go Commando, Get Wild, Drive Like a Maniac; Do it All.
Your free spirit that you have been holding in your whole life breaks free. You have an amazing sense of  "who cares, let them arrest me." Want to go crank the car to 100 or do donuts in the parking lot? Go ahead, make my day. No one will judge or question, in fact they may join in.

10. Your heart will grow three sizes bigger with love.
All the love you shared in your life will come back to you ten-fold, you will remember each and every kiss, soul-mate, baby, best buddy and puppy you held. You will dream it, see it, discuss it and feel it like it was yesterday, because in the thousands of years of humanity, it WAS just yesterday.
You will feel compassion and understanding you never thought possible and make new connections you didn't think existed. New friends, old friends, all helping, all loving you. And in the end, that's all that matters.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ya Canna Change The Law Of Physics

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can be, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom act as one with our very soul.

Mr. Scott, there are always alternatives  --- Spock

Daughter's Log, Orchard Park, 041415. We are cautiously entering the final dimension for Dad after receiving a distress text from Alex. Garbled transmissions report the Captain is under attack from an unidentified alien; possibly the Klingons have returned with a new attack to transport brain cancer, diabetes,  dementia. Our mission is one of compassionate rescue, and if necessary, confrontation with a hostile force.

My Dad has spent the last 18 months battling small cell lung cancer. He has an the fortitude of 40 men and 10 giants, battling these disease alone, living in the home by himself that he shared for over 50 years with Mom before she succumbed to cancer in 2011. He struggles to get out of the chair now and walk with his cane to the bathroom; dressing takes upwards of 30 minutes, shaving only attempted on the best of days. Yet through this all, he has been the Captain of his ship, setting the course and barking orders in 10 directions in 12 seconds before you can even grab a pen to write them all down.

Since May of 2013, he has battled a 3 month bout with pneumonia that was the prelude to the lung cancer, coughing wheezing, spiting up blood,  5 months of chemo, hallucinations from brain cancer that led to brain  frying radiation, strength sucking body radiation blackening his back and most of his mind; projectile diarrhea, a constantly dripping nose  and a 70 pound weight loss, and came back up each time, ready to swing for more. Until recently.

The text came late Tuesday from Dad's neighbor, helper and trusted companion, Alex that Dad was just not right, his speech is garbled. On my way, packing  the bag, tripping, turning round and round in circles trying desperately to hurry, holding back the tears, trying to think logically where there is no logic,  what to pack, work clothes, no work clothes? PJs? how long do I plan for? denial, rage, fear hitting me like a bunch to the gut from which I may never recover. It's back.

So my brother Ron and I begin to chart the course for the end, or is it really the beginning? I am back sleeping in my childhood bed, trying to provide what comfort I can at night, and somehow fit the new job in during the day. Thank God for great neighbors, my husband and my kids, now grown, coming to babysit the Grandpa who not that long along was babysitting them. Listening to him talk, in 2015 one minute, in 1958 the next and in the Dead Zone the one after that. Trying to comprehend hearing him say he's ready to die when they are just beginning to understand what it means to live.

I admit not knowing how to do this. I am a mother, a planner, a scheduler, a list maker, who thinks from the end and multi-tasks backwards; start dinner, do laundry, wash dishes, collect the garbage and talk on the phone while hair dye sits on the head for 30 minutes. Give me a target date and I'm in, even when it's 3 phone calls to make a doctor appointment, 2 more to cancel your own meetings, 3  more to arrange rides, one email tell your boss you will leave early, one text to your kids, one call your husband at work; only to receive a call one hour later that the appointment was moved to the next day. Refresh, do over, fix it all again in a new day of schedules.

I tell my kids to look for the good in all things. See the good. Flip the problem to the end and find a blessing. Easy peasy in one-off events; longer struggles and you need to dig deeper for the treasure. I think it's just the simple moments of life, the laughter, the hot meal, the friend phone call. Think of the comedian making the joke of the old man walking with the cane and realize, that now your Dad has the George Burns walk down cold.

I came home from work to see Dad dressed in a strange combination of  multiple shirts and sweaters, looking rather like the guys from Animal House in the supermarket scene, you know the one where they wear 4 shirts bunched up to hold the steaks and food they steal for the party? And as I look closer, I see my white work blouse, a scrunchy knit with puffy rows, sticky out from the layer of sweaters, and I burst out in laughter. My Dad the comedian. Maybe I should buy him a few more colors to go with his PJS.