Monday, September 12, 2005

7 months...

I can't believe 7 months have passed, it has been nuts - and I keep thinking to myself, I should just write some stuff for my blog on all of this, someone else might benefit from my experience, and I would definitely benefit from the cathartic release of emotions.

I haven't any idea why I wrote nothing between February and June. Between June and now though, I have a big idea of what was on my mind, both as a potential blog topic and as a prevention of doing anything that required any higher intelligence whatsoever.

My mom.

I have posted about this wonderful woman before, but no words can describe what a gift the universe gave me when I became her daughter. I have learned so much from her that to list it here seems trite and overblown. So I will tell two brief stories, and then maybe you will get a glimpse of the depth of my admiration and gratitude that she is MY blessing.

One day a popular nationally known morning radio show was blathering on about some topic that I felt compelled to comment on - I am not going to name the radio show, because I have since determined that they are to be boycotted for their crass treatment of a well respected handicapped Denver journalist. I am also not going to name the topic, because frankly I can't remember what it was. I do remember actually picking up my cell phone and dialing the 1-800-hostsname phone number and getting through. I told the call screener what it was I wanted to say, and she put me in the queue. The male half of this show answered my call on the air and asked me what I had to say. I had my brief little tirade about how people are illogical or whatever my passion was that day... and within my tirade I said these words "A very wise woman once told me..."
The male host said nothing about what I said; he asked who the "wise woman" was... I said "my mom".
He said "Amy how old are you?" and I told him, and he said "and you still listen to your mother" in this incredulous voice as though I had committed a cardinal sin. I said, "My mother is the wisest person I know" and he disconnected my call.

Story #2 ~
I was just 18 years old, we were having our usual family Christmas morning - the entire group gathered at my parents’ house. My brother-in-law put some wrapping paper in the fireplace, we had always done this, and he had been assured that the flue was open. It wasn't. The heat from the burning paper couldn't escape up the chimney and it came out the front of the fireplace and lit the evergreen boughs decorating the mantelpiece on fire, and our stockings. The fire spread to the drapes that hung floor to ceiling on the windows at either side of the fireplace. The drapes melted and dripped onto the carpet, igniting and melting it. The drapes also melted the artificial tree and many of the ornaments - thank God it wasn't a real tree, it would have ignited. My brother-in-law yanked the burning evergreen boughs off of the mantle and shoved them into the fireplace; burning pieces fell from them and melted the carpet in front of the fireplace. The flames from the drapes and the evergreen boughs shot up to the vaulted ceiling and scorched and burned the rough-sawn cedar beams that trimmed the ceiling. The heat shot up the ceiling and across it the width of the house and melted the fronts off of the stereo speakers that were mounted at almost ceiling level. Some ran to the kitchen for water, one brother and I ran outside for the garden hose. As my brother made his way toward the front of the house with the hose, I looked in through the kitchen window and saw what looked like the entire front of my parents’ house on fire. I turned on the hose, and it spit little ice cubes at the fire. But eventually, there was water, and we put the fire out, with little water damage actually. The firefighters arrived later. My brand new nephew (4 mos. old) had been in a baby seat in front of the fireplace moments before, but had been moved across the room. When all was said and done, we had lost many family treasures, Christmas decorations that had been handed down from generation to generation, our tree, our stockings, many gifts, and a huge amount of damage had been done to the home my parents had built together to house the family that was the centerpiece of who they were.
My mother dragged us all onto the front lawn, and she made us get in a circle and do a dance together to celebrate. She wanted to celebrate that we had all come away from this safely. She took one of the most frightening moments of great loss and she showed us all how to be grateful and happy about it. She has done this every day of my life, found the good in EVERY situation, no matter how bad.
I could fill hundreds of pages with stories of her unconditional love and her positive outlook about even the grimmest of situations. She put my wedding together from the floor of that same living room because she had broken ankles, and I had the best wedding ever. She took in other peoples wounded children and helped them find their way in the world and gave them the chance to be their potential. She helped every one of her kids, whether she gave birth to them or not, through countless challenges and over enormous obstacles, without judgment or guilt. She found money when it was needed for emergencies, she found strength when it was needed for work, and she always provided love, no matter how badly you screwed up. She redecorated her bedroom when my father had a heart attack, because she wanted him to feel special when he got home from the hospital. She picked me up from school the day my rabbit died, so that she could tell me before I discovered it for myself. When I got stood up for my Senior Prom, she flew my ex-boyfriend in from Las Vegas to take me. When I was pregnant with my second baby, and my first baby still needed constant care, and they put me on bed rest for pre-term labor, she made me move in with her and took care of all of us. Every time I had to take my babies to the emergency room for all of those high fevers and bumps on the head, etc. - she was there, helping with the other kids and letting me lean on her while I was afraid. She held my baby while they put an i.v. in her, when I didn't have the strength to cope with one more minute of her tears. Most of my stories would violate some other persons privacy, so when deciding just what I was going to say about my mom, I spent a lot of time reliving difficult moments in all of our lives, all of them with a good outcome. And yes, my father deserves credit also, he stood by all of us, and he supported so many of the decisions that were made without complaint or the iron fist of most dads of his generation. However, my father would tell you in a heartbeat, he never would have had the strength or the knowing to be there without my mother's guidance. My brothers and sisters would probably tell their stories too, without embarrassment, but they are their stories to tell, not mine.
I have talked to my mother nearly every single day for as long as I can remember. She listens to my every little complaint whether it’s the price of beef or that my oil needs changing or that some teacher is being unfair to my child or something huge and global like the Middle East. She agrees with me, she disagrees with me. She offers advice, or just an ear. She tells me her thoughts and what is on her mind. We solve the world's problems nearly every morning, and then we get on with our day.

July 2nd, my mother had bypass surgery, 5 bypasses. During surgery, or during recovery, she experienced multiple bi-lateral strokes.

One day when I walked into her room in ICU I said, "Hi Mom, how are you?"... and she said "I feel like I had a fucking stroke". I was so happy to have her back, it was so hard to be the strong one, to try to do what she would be wanting me to do. To try to be strong, like her. I was so tired, I'm still so tired, so drained, and not at all myself. It's been very long, and we aren't done, and maybe in the days to come I will use this blog as my outlet, and I will share what I have learned - about strokes, about people, about family, and about myself.

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