Thursday, December 31, 2009

Progress

Psychiatrist reduced Daughter's depakote and increased her cymbalta. Today, Daughter asked me to play wii with her. I've always had to make her play it in the past. When I told her I was busy, she went in and played it alone-- including setting it up. I think we're on the right path with the current adjustments. We've also stopped the medication to help her sleep.
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The furnace went out again last night. It was too late to call a trustee when I realized it wasn't working, and I couldn't pry the fuse out to reset it (which has solved this problem in the past). So, I threw an extra comforter on each of our beds and went to bed. It was 50 in the house when we got up this morning. I was going to skip showering, but looked at my hair and decided I'd best brave it. I survived.
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Secretary and I got bulletin done, and I did some work on the church website. Two of our youth were working on recruiting ushers for the year, and I fielded multiple phone calls from them. Daughter watched a DVD on her portable player and helped fold the bulletin for Sunday. She is meeting Nice Guy to see a movie this afternoon. She decided she wanted to do something with him today. She'd been avoiding him completely.
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Hopefully 2010 will be a better year for both of us. Wishing all of you a happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home

We arrived home around 11:30 this morning. The car is unloaded and almost everything is unpacked and put away. I say almost everything because Daughter is too tired to take care of her stuff, and we just got home and she shouldn't have to do it. I have no sympathy for her, since she slept all the way home while I drove. I unloaded most of the car, and I had much more to unpack and put away than she did.
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We see Psychiatrist this afternoon. She has improved some since she started the antidepressant, but she is still depressed, and her tremors are worst. I think we'll be looking at another medication adjustment. At least now she is able to laugh and enjoy herself, but it takes a great deal of work to convince her to allow herself to have fun. She's home until January 4th when the workshop reopens. These next few days are going to be very long. I'm not going to be the entertaining committee. If she wants to wallow in her misery, I'm not going to stop her.
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I'm running out of patience with her pity party. I was carrying twice as much weight as we left the motel, but she stopped in the middle of the parking lot because it was just too much and she couldn't do it. She knows that I'm going to go in and make sure she really hung up her new clothes and put them in her closet, yet three times she has told me she did it, and then backtracked when I headed up to check. Then she goes into a long tirade about how she deserves to die.
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Just because she chooses to be miserable doesn't mean I have to be. I'm going to have a productive few days. Tomorrow I'm going to begin modifications and improvements on the church website. I'm going to get the Christmas decorations down and put away, and I've bought new containers to better organize them. I'm going to rework my resume and step up my efforts on my search for a new church. I'm going to make the most of the next few days. Daughter can do whatever she would like.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gnats

Yesterday both Sister and Brother were complaining about an infestation of gnats they've had this year. They were comparing techniques for getting rid of them. As I thought about it, I realized that my experience in this motel has been like their gnats: minor things that can become very annoying. When we arrived and checked in, we were directed to the elevator to come to our room on the third floor. I asked which way the room was from the elevator, and was told there were signs to point the way. The signs had fallen off the wall and hadn't been replaced. We went part way down the wrong hall before realizing that if we went the other way and turned a corner there was a long corridor leading to our room.
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On the reservation, I stated that we needed a refrigerator in our room for Daughter's insulin. There wasn't one. The guy at the desk had to go search unoccupied rooms to locate one for us, and when we got it up here, it leaked and smelled bad. The motel information folder was completely empty. The display on the alarm clock was broken. There was no Do Not Disturb sign to hang on the door.
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I chose this motel based on the fact that they stated they had free wireless internet and a hot breakfast. Toast does not qualify as a hot breakfast in my book. We went out for breakfast today, as yesterday's was so awful. I finally figured out I could give Daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as something that would provide a reasonable amount of protein. The bread was dry and stale (I should have put it in the toaster for a hot breakfast).
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This morning, when Daughter went in to take her shower, she announced the toilet was overflowing. Sure enough, the shut-off mechanism inside the tank was broken. They had to come and replace all the innards in the tank, but maintenance wasn't going to be in for another 3 hours. They offered us a different room, but instead we headed out to a restaurant for a real hot breakfast and then went to hang with Sister and Little Niece.
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All these things are just like gnats, minor annoyances. Sister commented today that this hotel seemed to be pretty bad. I didn't respond. I'm not going to let gnats get in the way of all the good things that have happened during our visit. Sister took Daughter shopping today, and Daughter was quite pleased with the clothes she was able to purchase. On our way back to the motel tonight Daughter said, "You know, I have had a good time. Even though things weren't the same, I've had fun. Thanks, Mom." That's much more important than all the gnats in the world.

The Freedom to Choose

In continuing with the theme of how things have changed since the death of my parents, I was reflecting Sunday afternoon as I drove up here. One of the things that has been very much on my mind is that I now have the freedom to choose. I can choose to hold on to some traditions and let go of others. I can even choose how I'm going to carry out the traditions I choose to keep.
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My parents loved to entertain, but they made entertaining more difficult than it needed to be with their lack of organization, their failure to plan ahead, their tendency to take on more than they could accomplish in the time available, their procrastination, and the way they were reluctant to modify their plans if they were running out of time. Holidays, with the extra entertaining, were particularly stressful. They'd always underestimate the time something would take, and they'd leave too much until the last minute. I can choose to entertain in a different way. I enjoy hosting a Christmas open house, but I don't have to do all the food preparation myself. I can ask others to bring some of the food. I enjoy baking, but I don't need to make every recipe every year. This year the walnut crescents didn't get made until after Christmas, and many of the more time consuming cookies weren't made at all.
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I can improve upon their traditions, by planning ahead and being realistic about what can be accomplished. I can improve upon their traditions by making things easier. I can choose what is important, hold onto that, and let go of things that are less important. I live over 1o miles from the nearest grocery store. My parents always lived within a mile of one. So, Dad would go the grocery store daily. He saw no need to plan ahead. I remember one year suggesting that we figure out several days early what we'd need from the grocery store for the New Year's Eve party. They looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Why would they do that? I can choose to clean up the kitchen as I am cooking or baking, so that there isn't a huge mess when the food preparation is done. I can find ways to make sure that the stress that went with certain traditions is eliminated.
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I can prepare things ahead and plan menus that enable me to enjoy time with my guests rather than hide in the kitchen finalizing preparations. I can take all the good things they taught me, and make them my own. I now have the freedom to choose. I am enjoying that freedom.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Things I Hadn't Considered

When we made our plans to come here, I scheduled something for each day. In the past, we'd stay with Mom and Dad, and anytime that wasn't scheduled was spent doing things for them or just visiting with them. Today we had family Christmas scheduled for 3:00 this afternoon. We were done with breakfast by 9:00. What were we to do with 6 empty hours? Neither one of us wanted to hang out in our motel room. So, we ventured out in nasty weather to go shopping. We went to Tar.get, which is not available near us. We went to the mall. Daughter and I both bought new clothes. We had lunch at a restaurant in the mall. I got a Chinese acupressure massage in the center court. She thought my shoulders were very tight. Really? Daughter got a new video game. We went to a big discount store. Then, we headed to Brother's house. Sister thought I looked unhappy and demanded to know what was wrong. I assured her nothing was wrong, we'd just spent the day shopping. She said, "Oh, no wonder you look terrible. You hate shopping." I do hate it, but all things considering, it went remarkably well today.
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We had our traditional Christmas dinner, but it was strange because there were just 6 of us there. Sister and Little Niece, Brother and Sister-in-law, and the two of us. Far Away Sister and her family had been here for two funerals this year, so they were leaving for a family vacation someplace sunny, someplace where they wouldn't slide through intersections as I was doing this morning. We played cards after we ate. Brother was in rare form tonight. He was wearing a kilt. He got one this fall, and apparently is wearing it every opportunity he gets. His attire prompted many comments, of course. Daughter and Little Niece watched a video and listened to a CD until Sister decided she had to leave to get Little Niece into bed. Then Daughter joined us for a couple of card games. She protested, but she thoroughly enjoyed herself. I don't remember the last time I saw her laughing and having so much fun.
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Tomorrow we head over to spend the day with Sister and Little Niece. Sister still lives with her ex-husband, and he will cook a feast for us for supper. It should be a fun day. Wednesday morning we'll head home. It will be good to get home. Life after my parents' death is different. I'm still learning how to navigate it. One of the things I've realized is that we really don't need to spend much time here. There's just not much to do now that I'm not running errands for them. It's also very freeing. It means that we can come and go as we please without worrying about who is going to be transporting them and how long they can tolerate being out. It's been a long time since we've been able to play cards at Christmas. Dad didn't play cards, and didn't have the stamina or patience to stay while we played. Sometimes I'd bring him and then Sister would take him home when she left with Little Niece. We talked Mom and Dad tonight, and it was with joy and laughter as we remembered their quirks.
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I took some walnut crescent cookies to Neighbor yesterday. She protested that she hadn't gotten me anything. I told her that I had baked the cookies, and if I hadn't brought her some, Mom would have come back and haunted me. Mom knew they were Neighbor's favorite cookies, so she always sent some to her. Neighbor laughed and acknowledged I was right, Mom would have haunted me. She talked about how Mom always remembered what cookies different people liked, and made sure they got extras. We have good memories, and we know that Mom and Dad are happy and at peace. It's been a good day, though very different....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

From a Motel

Following worship today we drove the 150 miles to be near family. Today was devoted to non-related family. 52 years ago my parents moved into a brand new subdivision. It was full of young families, except for the career woman and her husband next door. They were childless! 40 years ago, her husband died of cancer. We adopted her. She is now in her 90's, and still lives alone in that house she bought so many years ago. She still drives. She still loves to play cards.
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Daughter and I picked her up and we went out for supper. Then we went back to her house and played cards. We sat in the kitchen where she still has the original kitchen cabinets, including the cupboard to dry towels next to the sink, and the bread drawer under the butcher block. We talked some about Mom and Dad. She talked about her bowling game and why she finally gave up golf. We talked about the nephew who came to live with her after her husband died. She was terrified of living alone. She still worries about it, but she has been alone for a number of years now. A good time was had by all.
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Tomorrow we will be at Brother's house (right next door to our hostess for this evening's card game), for Christmas. Tuesday we're supposed to hang with Sister and Little Niece. Wednesday we'll head home. I was doing lots of thinking and reflecting on the drive here, and when I'm not quite so tired, I'm going to write out some of those reflections to share. But for now, I'm going to enjoy being away for a few days and having time with family.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

So Much for Breathtaking

Yesterday Daughter declared that the Nintendo DS she got for Christmas was "breathtaking." Today, the reality of her limitations became a source of great frustration. I don't think she'd declare it breathtaking (in a positive way) today. She is so slow doing anything, and her tremors are such that she has very poor fine motor control, with the result that any timed game is beyond her. I've tried to be encouraging, but this may have been a mistake. It was what I feared all those years when I didn't buy it for her. I gave in, though, because it had been a consistent request for several years.
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I bought her a Princess Jewels game that is designed for very young girls, and she had some success with that, so maybe in time she'll become more competent with the stylus and the touch screen. When we see Psychiatrist on the 30th, I intend to ask her about reducing some of the sedating medications that cause tremors. As much as I hate to admit it, there are times when Daughter seems drugged.
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Nice Guy is coming over this evening, and as usual, Daughter is freaking out about it. Now her concern is that it's been close to a year that they've been dating, so they'll end up talking about marriage. Their first date was November 6, so it's been less than 2 months. I pointed this out to Daughter, and also told her that even after they've been dating a year, it doesn't mean they need to get married. I told her that some people continue to date for years before they decide whether to get married. This seemed to help some. She just has a difficult time with the concept of time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

I rolled over and went back to sleep after turning off the alarm clock at 6:15. When I woke up again, it was a little after 8:00. It's been quite a while since I've slept that late. Daughter got up on her own just as breakfast was about done baking.
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We had a delicious breakfast, opened gifts, watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, started It's a Wonderful Life, ate Christmas dinner, and are now going to finish It's a Wonderful Life. A psychic or spiritualist or something told Sister to watch her Christmas tree on Christmas morning, because the lights would twinkle, and that would be Mom telling her she was with her. I've looked at my tree several times today, but the only twinkling lights I've seen are on the Star Trek ornaments. Daughter dreamed she visited Grandma and Grandpa in heaven last night. Grandma was surrounded by chocolates and old magazines, and Grandpa was in a kitchen surrounded by lots of food for cooking. They were doing there thing and very happy.
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Daughter has wanted a Nintendo DS for a number of years. This year I finally bought her one, since I had some extra money. She opened it and declared it to be "breathtaking." If I'd known how happy it would have made her, maybe I'd have gotten her one sooner. Of course, we'll see how long it actually holds her attention.....
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It's been a good day. A quiet, low-key, restful day with good food and much together time. We have survived our first Christmas since the deaths.

Christmas Eve

I should be in bed, but I'm still winding down from our Christmas Eve service. We were out and about this morning, and when I sat down this afternoon to finalize the Christmas Eve service I found myself experiencing waves of grief. I looked at the service and realized it wasn't nearly as together as I'd thought, and I couldn't remember why I'd made some of the choices I'd made. I turned on some Christmas music, but that made things worse. Daughter came in and told me how much she was missing Grandma and Grandpa. I held her and we cried.
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Then I decided it was time to do something, so I went in the kitchen and put together the casserole for our breakfast tomorrow morning and the broccoli, rice and cheese for our Christmas dinner. When they were both in the refrigerator, Daughter and I sat down and watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I had my laptop nearby so I could play with the service. By the time that was over, it was time to print out the service, change my clothes, and get over to the church.
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I still wasn't real comfortable with the service, and when I got there people started bringing me problems. I don't like hearing about problems. I put the issue of the new board member who is too busy to attend board training and various other important start-up events off until after the service. As the prelude was ending there were 3 of us trying to figure out how to get one of the Advent candles to stay in the wreath. It kept falling out, which was fine when it wasn't lit, but not a good idea once it was. We finally put the lighter to the base of the candle in an attempt to melt it enough to hold it in the wreath. It stayed put, so it must have worked.
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Then the service began. I am very fortunate to serve a congregation of gifted singers. There were almost 200 of them singing the carols in 4 part harmony. The music washed over me and was full of hope and healing. Afterwards a number of the folks who don't give compliments were telling me what a beautiful service it was. We ended with candlelight and Silent Night, of course. The whole theme of the service was Christ coming as light in our darkness. I spoke explicitly about the darkness we're experiencing as a society and individuals. I spoke to myself, as well to the congregation. Now we're home.
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Daughter is in bed, asleep, and I'm headed that way. Tomorrow will be a lazy day, just the two of us. We'll eat the breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls in the morning after we open presents. We'll watch Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and then, finally, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which I bought last week, prompting this Potter marathon. Daughter said, as I was getting ready for worship tonight, "Just think, Mom, tomorrow we get to stay in our pajamas all day!" That will be nice.
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Saturday Nice Guy and possibly his mom are coming over. I'll also have to finalize a sermon for Sunday and print the last bit of the bulletin. Sunday afternoon, we'll head to Michigan. It will be nice to get away for a couple of days, and great to see Sister and Brother. We are coping. We are finding ways to move beyond grief. I have survived the first Christmas Eve since my parents death, and not only did I survive, I celebrated the light of God's love coming into the world and overcoming the darkness of my grief.
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I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. For all you parents of special needs kids, I wish you moments (or better, hours) of peace.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Date

Well, I took Daughter to town where we were to meet NG at a pizza place. He pulled into the parking lot at the same time we did, so I waited in the car for a few minutes while they went in and were seated. When I finally went in, I was offered the table right next to them. I asked for a different table, and was seated in another room. Daughter came out to see me 3-4 times over the course of their lunch. Once was to tell me her blood sugar and get her insulin, the other times she was just checking in.
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They were both beaming when they finished lunch and headed to the theater for Alvin. I ran to the store to pick up some things and then came home. As soon as the movie was over, Daughter called me. She was so excited. She told me the movie was awesome. He brought her home and dropped her off. We have invited NG over on the 26th for them to celebrate Christmas and exchange gifts. They have decided that we should invite his mother, too. I know and like her, so that's fine with me.
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Anyway, the date went well, so I anticipate there will be more of them. I'm glad they are having fun together. It's a welcome distraction from grief, that's for sure. Now I need to finalize the Christmas Eve service. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

To Date or Not to Date

Daughter wants to go see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, which she says is opening today. I'm not up on those things, so I didn't even know there was a new one coming. I told her that I wouldn't have time to take her before Christmas. Nice Guy heard her talking about it, and suggested they go out to lunch and then go see the movie today. He lives on the other side of the county, and I suggested that I would take her to meet him at a restaurant in Town. I could handle her insulin and then disappear, allowing them to enjoy their date. He could bring her home after the movie. I figured this would save him making two long trips to Tiny Village and it would be an easy way for me to handle the insulin challenge.
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Now Daughter is having doubts. She's not sure she'd feel safe alone at the movie theater with NG and no parent present. She can't tell me what she's afraid of. I reminded her that she'd have her cell phone and could reach me if there was a problem. I pointed out there would be other people in the theater. I told her if she was really too uncomfortable with it she could tell NG I was a mean mom who wouldn't let her go. She hasn't made a decision yet. I have mixed feelings. I feel bad for NG. I don't want to push Daughter beyond her comfort zone, but I also don't want fear to rule her life. It will be interesting to see what she decides. On a purely selfish level, having her occupied for several hours today would give me time to get some work done without her needs distracting me.
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There's going to be lots of together time between now and January 4 when she goes back to the sheltered workshop. I'm going to encourage all the apart time I can, especially while I'm still trying to finalize sermon and worship plans. On a more positive note, she called me sounding depressed once yesterday. I was able to distract her and get her focusing on other things, and she made it through the day. We've spent the last two nights watching Harry Potter 1 and 2 with her snuggled in next to me. I think that intense "mommy time" has helped with her anxiety.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Creating New Traditions

Daughter told me this morning how much she is dreading Christmas without Grandma and Grandpa. "It just won't be the same without them." I agreed it would be different, and then asked her what wouldn't change. She talked about being with family. I reminded her that both Grandma and Grandpa were better off now, as their health had gotten so bad in recent years. I reminded her of good memories. My parents would come once a year and stay with Daughter so I could go to some continuing ed event. They stayed with her for over a week in 2000 while I went to Israel. She smiled and remembered how they had spoiled her.
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Dad loved to cook, and he loved to cook his children and grandchildren's favorite foods. So, every time we went to visit, he would make sausage gravy and biscuits for Daughter. She laughed and talked about how she'd want more and I'd tell her no and Grandpa would tell her yes. He didn't care that it was making it hard for me to figure out her insulin, or that she would run high all day as a result, she wanted more, and she should have more.
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We are not going to be with family for New Year's Eve this year. That is one thing that will not be the same. We decided, though, that on New Year's morning I would make sausage gravy and biscuits for Daughter. We will do that to honor the memory of Grandpa. We will create new traditions that honor the memory of my parents. I may even allow her to have more when she asks. That's what Dad would want.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Moving Forward

Yesterday evening I finally wrote all the thank you notes that I needed to write for the support I received following Dad's death. It was harder to do them this time-- writing them involved facing the reality/finality of my parents' death. They were hanging over my head, and so last night I sat down at the desk in my study and wrote them while Daughter and Nice Guy watched TV. Putting them in the mail today was liberating.
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Daughter called today crying about how much she misses her grandparents. I'm going to have to find a way to distract her this evening. I have decided that C is my personal assistant. Her job each week is going to be to help me address whatever is most stressing me out. Today, we wrapped presents, changed a light bulb, and vacuumed and cleaned downstairs. C is going to come in and check on the cats and do some general cleaning once while we are gone. We'll only be away for 3 nights, so they'll be fine. They know C now, so they might even come out and demand some attention from her.
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Daughter is in her clingy/depressed mood tonight. She wants "mommy time," so I sat with her on the couch and she leaned into me. I finally got up to get some things done, and promised her that if she'd do her chores, we'd watch Harry Potter together tonight and she could sit next to me and get her mommy time. She's now sleeping on the couch, so I'm not very optimistic about her getting things done.
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I'm ready to move forward. She's having a harder time with it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Romance Continues

Daughter told me a couple of days ago that she's getting more comfortable with Nice Guy. Yesterday she told me that he'd been bugging her, wanting to know when they could go out on a date-- away from here. She had never mentioned it to me, which tells me she wasn't ready to do it. I told her we'd talk about it after the first of the year. NG is over now. They've played wii, had homemade pizza, and now are watching Ratatouille. Daughter is ready for him to leave, but I told her he can stay until the movie is over. Since they've started it, she needs to allow him to finish watching it. They are in there giggling as they watch it.
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NG told me tonight that his Dad wants to meet Daughter. He'd like to take Daughter to Big City to go bowling with his Dad and his Dad's girlfriend. I said we could probably arrange it. Of course, all of this raises major challenges. I'm not sure how comfortable Daughter is with going away from the house and my protection with him. If they were to eat, she'd have to be able to take insulin. If I give the insulin to her to inject for her food, there is a very real danger that she will once again take too much to get attention and get home more quickly. Yet I'm not sure it would be fair to embarrass her by having NG monitor her insulin. I guess I'll decide how to handle it when the occasion arises.
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It's much easier when she quickly breaks up with these guys. The longer the relationship lasts, the more complicated all aspects of it become. However, the fact that she is growing more comfortable with him is major progress and growth for her, so for today I will celebrate the progress, and worry about how to handle her diabetes away from me when the time comes....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shopping

As we fought the traffic and crowds today, I asked myself why it is I waited until today to take Daughter out shopping. Then I remembered. Last week was the big open house, and that had kept me busy. This was the first weekend I'd had time to go shopping. There is also the fact that Daughter can't keep a secret, and can't handle waiting for Christmas. She bought two things for me today, and she's already given me the amethyst bracelet with the love charm.
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In spite of the crowds and traffic, it was a good day. We sang Christmas carols all the way to City, and discovered we don't know the words very well. I guess that's what I get for playing instrumental Christmas cd's all season long.
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Mom and Dad are still very much on my mind. My grief is fresh again. I miss them, and that's okay.

Dreams

Last night Sister and I both dreamed about Mom. In my dream, I was baking one of her favorite Christmas cookies, and suddenly just had the overwhelming urge to talk to her. I realized I couldn't, and sobbed. Then, as only happens in dreams, she was in my kitchen with me. She grabbed my glucose meter and started looking at my blood sugars. I was embarrassed, and she glared her disapproval.
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I talked about her some yesterday, so I suspect that is what prompted my dreams. The other thing is that the closer it gets to Christmas, the more I think about both of my parents. Sister found a message on her answering machine from Dad that she hadn't deleted yet. She had to clean off the machine, but she left that message. I deleted his phone numbers from my contacts in Outlook this week. A year ago my Christmas present from Mom was that she called me by name. I'd love to hear either one of them speak to me again. Even in my dream, she didn't speak. I miss them so much.
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It's snowing here. I promised Daughter I would take her shopping in City today. I think that will be a most welcome distraction....

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Stories I Hear....

This afternoon I made my way to the nursing home to visit the saints. There is a delightful married couple there. They have been married for over 60 years. I have been honored to walk with them through some major challenges. Four and and a half years ago I walked into the OR waiting room as a medical person was telling Wife that Husband was coding on the operating table. I sat with her through a long night. I called their son and told him what was going on (they hadn't told him about the surgery because they didn't want him to worry.) Anyway, I love these people, and we have a special bond. Husband survived his heart stopping and 10 minutes of CPR. Because of bladder issues, he has a catheter, and has been struggling with a number of bladder infections. So when I walked into the room today, they were both asleep. Husband was in his bed in a hospital gown. Wife was dressed and napping in her recliner, with an open book in her lap. I woke her up, and she told me they'd both been up all night. Husband is sick again, and they have sent out urine for testing, suspecting another infection. He was sound asleep, and wasn't wearing his hearing aides, so Wife and I had a good conversation.
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We talked about that day he almost died, and she called my arrival at the key moment a miracle. We talked about how it was a sign of God's presence with them, and it gave them confidence for the future. We talked about how amazing it was that he had survived 4 1/2 years in the nursing home. She talked about how he still had a sense of humor, which amazed her. I told her he was still the same man she had married. She agreed, and then offered me proof that he was still the same man she'd married. He keeps telling her he wants to have sex. She keeps reminding him that's impossible because of the catheter. Her son was horrified when she told him. I told her it should give him hope for his future vitality!
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It never ceases to amaze me the stories I hear as I spend time with people. I was hoping to go to all 3 nursing homes today, but headed home after that first one, since I needed to be home before Daughter got here. Daughter usually gets home about 3:45. I was about 2 miles outside of Tiny Village when she called me. The bus route has changed, and she was home 25 minutes early. The bus aide wanted to talk to me. Daughter started having tremors on the bus, and told them she felt like she was going to have a seizure. They weren't comfortable leaving her alone. I assured her that I was less than 2 miles away and Daughter would be fine until I got there. As I approached home, I saw 2 school buses in front of the house-- 1 was the one that had brought Daughter home, and was waiting for me. The other was from one of the schools, and was trying to pass Daughter's bus.
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I brought Daughter into the house and put Kitten in her lap. The tremors were gone almost immediately. When she (and other people) focus on the tremors, they get worse. Shifting her focus to something else (like a cuddly cat) stops the tremors. Now she's sleeping beside me, with Kitten sleeping on her legs.
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Monday I will go to the other two nursing homes. Communion will wait until after Christmas. A visit will be enough for now. I may hear some more stories....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another Day...

I could lament what I failed to accomplish today, as once again things took longer than anticipated and unexpected demands were made on my time, or I could celebrate what I did manage to accomplish.
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The bulletins for December 20, 24, 27, and January 3 are now done. The January newsletter is done, and for the first time we saved it as a pdf and sent it by email to people who had requested that option.
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I delegated the genealogy research that was requested in an email I received yesterday from a different country. Daughter has seen Therapist, and has come up with a plan for dealing with her struggles.
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Right now I'm trying to decide if I'm going to keep a lunch appointment with a colleague tomorrow or try to find someone to take shut-in communion with me tomorrow afternoon. I think I'll stick with the lunch. I need a break.
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Saturday I have reserved to take Daughter to City Christmas shopping. Fitting everything in is always a challenge at this time of the year. It is a time of year where crises are magnified, like the unhappy wife I spoke with yesterday. The husband is now seeking time with me, as well. I take it as a high compliment that they are coming back to me for help getting their marriage back on track. It would be nice, though, if their marriage had gotten off track during a slower time of year....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best Laid Plans....

This afternoon was set aside for shut-in communion. Then I got a phone call. It was the bride from a wedding I had performed several years ago. She's very pregnant and her marriage is in trouble. She was sobbing. She told m her whole life was falling apart. I told her to come by this afternoon, and called and rescheduled communion for tomorrow. Imagine my surprise when she came accompanied by her mother-in-law!
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Two hours later, she was no longer crying and had a plan. Can the marriage be saved? I don't know. I hope so. I've referred her elsewhere for long term counseling, but hopefully I gave her the support she needs to keep going until she can get an appointment.
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I hope to take communion out tomorrow afternoon, but that means I have to get the newsletter done tonight so it is ready for final editing when I get to the office tomorrow morning. In an interview with a search committee I was asked to outline my work plan for the week. I explained to them that my plan had to be flexible, because there were always things that were going to come up that would cause me to change my plan. I really don't think they understood. If they were the one whose family crisis caused me to throw out my plans, they'd be grateful.
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It's one of the things I both love and hate about my career-- I never know when a situation will arise that will necessitate rearranging my entire plan for the day.
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Daughter has made it through the day without calling me! She is now on the bus on her way home. She tried to convince me she couldn't go this morning, but I wasn't buying. Then she confessed she was concerned about the absence of her supervisor, who was going to be with her husband who was having major surgery today. I reminded her that Case Manager, Old Supervisor, and Nice Guy would all be there. The thought of Nice Guy being there brought a smile to her face.
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Daughter informed me yesterday that B and D are 9 weeks pregnant. She was excited. I'm staying silent. How did a liberal like me reach the point where I believe that some people shouldn't be allowed to have children? It will be very hard to listen to all the stories. I'm amazed their marriage has lasted almost a year. I'm sure B's adoptive parents are not thrilled about this pregnancy, either. I will keep them in my prayers, and hope that it doesn't start Daughter on another round of wanting to get married and make babies (preferably in that order).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Final Push


Secretary leaves on vacation Friday. I will be gone December 27-30. That means that by Friday, we have to have the January newsletter done, bulletins completed for December 20, 24, 27, and January 3. People ask me if I'm ready for Christmas, and I laugh. When other people think about being ready for Christmas, they are thinking about cards, baking, decorating, shopping and wrapping gifts. My priorities are slightly different. As of today, all the bulletins are done except for January 3. I will have the information I need to complete that this afternoon. The newsletter is now the big challenge. It needs to be done by Thursday morning. I should have the rest of the information I need for it this evening. My goal is to always be far enough ahead in the office we can handle a big funeral that comes up unexpectedly. I did a funeral the morning of December 24th once, so I know the importance of being prepared. This year if a funeral came up, the newsletter would probably get pushed back and wouldn't get out until January 3rd instead of December 27th.


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Once the newsletter is done and I'm slightly more comfortable with the progress I'm making on sermons for December 20 and 24, I will begin thinking about other things. I've already done some shopping (I hate stores, so much of my shopping gets done online), but there is more to do. Daughter has been bugging about shopping for weeks. I'll take her out this Saturday.


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I stopped sending out Christmas cards years ago-- it was just an added stress I didn't need. The baking and decorating had to be done before last Sunday's open house (which went well). I still have one more batch of cookies I want to bake for a Christmas gift. Tomorrow I will visit the shut-ins and take them communion.


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Daughter was home sick yesterday, and I learned that her wonderful story of a week ago was just that-- a story. The reality is going to be much harder. The tremors were bad this morning, and she asked for a straw to drink her milk so the milk wouldn't splash on her glasses. She's already called and asked me to come get her because she doesn't feel good. She needs to get through Christmas, and then we'll worry about tweaking her medication. I'll monitor the tremors, and if necessary call Psychiatrist about making adjustments yet this week.


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Too often in the midst of all the work of this season, Daughter's wants get pushed aside. I'm sure she has lots of people asking her if she's ready for Christmas-- but since she's dependent on me for her preparations, that's hard. Christmas Day will be just the two of us, and I will work hard to make it special for her. I've told her she can have Nice Guy over for a nice meal on December 26th. We will leave to see family after worship on December 27.


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For now, though, I'm working to get all the worship plans finalized. I'm looking at the January calendar and figuring out what needs to go in the newsletter. I'm making contact with people who need special attention at this time of year. I'm in the final push. Once I'm through it, I'll worry about being ready for Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Gift of Procrastination


I can still hear our professor of pastoral care and counseling in seminary, "Procrastination is protection against perfectionism." I remembering finding that thought rather odd, and I seem to recall some classmates questioning him. The older I get, though, the more inclined I am to agree with him. Mom was a perfectionist, not just about Christmas, but about other things as well. Her stove was always spotless. Towels and washcloths had to be folded just so. I work hard at letting go of perfectionist tendencies. I have also always been a procrastinator.

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So last night we set up the table in the dining room. We put on the centerpiece. I went to bed. This morning I woke up thinking of all the things I could do to make it better. Just like we set up two additional Christmas trees yesterday, today I bought a better table cloth (the old one wasn't quite big enough for the beautiful dining room table I inherited from my parents). I bought a plastic table cloth to go underneath and provide additional protection (we'd already padded the table with plastic bags and newspapers). I decided I needed to add some tinsel garland to the brandy snifter holding the candle in the centerpiece.

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We went to the store, and the table has been redone. Is it perfect? Well, probably not by my Mom's standards. I've decided I'm going to stay out of the dining room now. I don't need to find other things to try to perfect. I'll focus in on perfecting things in the kitchen instead. I'm beginning to understand why procrastination is not necessarily a bad thing....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Long Day

Today C came over to help me with the final preparations for the open house tomorrow. We did lots of cleaning and put up 2 more Christmas trees (for a total of 4). I have more Christmas decorations up this year than I've had in a number of years. The only thing I didn't do was outside lights. One fall off the ladder was enough to convince me not to do that anymore. We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out why one of the speakers on the stereo wasn't working properly. After cutting wires, cleaning contacts and various other tricks, we determined the problem is in the receiver. Then the speaker decided to work.
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Daughter pitched in and helped some. We went to town for lunch, and stopped briefly to eat frozen pizza for supper, but it was a long day. C arrived at 8:00 this morning and left at 9:00 this evening. She was wonderful. Tomorrow I need to make a quick run to town to pick up a few last minute items, but I'm really in good shape. Board members will come help serve food and clean up. C's mom is on the clean-up crew. C was planning on giving her a hard time. C will be back Wednesday morning to help put the house back together.
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Now I need to finalize my sermon for tomorrow. We have the Christmas program, so it will be a very brief meditation. Very brief. Getting briefer by the minute....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Community

At the last wedding I did, there was a blatant violation of board policy. Last night we had a board meeting, so I asked the board what they wanted me to do in the future if something similar happened. In this close knit church, the focus was on what was wrong with their policy rather than the violation of it. They decided to consider changing the policy at our January meeting. For these people, relationships are the most important thing, and they are unwilling to do anything that will hurt their relationship with this couple and their extended family.
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I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I think it would be nice if they showed half as much consideration for the pastor and her feelings as they do for one another. That will never happen, though, because no matter how long I am here, I will always be the outsider. Most of the people at the meeting last night knew at least 4 generations of one of the families involved in the wedding. That history and those roots are something that will never be forgotten. The pastor will always be seen as just passing through, and therefore expendable.
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I couldn't have had the conversation with them right after the wedding, but by last night I had come to realize it was their policy and therefore, their problem. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do with the policy in January. One woman suggested that a board member should be present at future weddings to make sure policy is followed. She has less history with the congregation than I do, so I don't think they even heard her suggestion. They certainly didn't acknowledge it.
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It's a strange life I live, being in a community but never of it. I am present at some of the most intimate moments in people's lives-- baptisms, weddings, funerals. I catch glimpses into parts of their lives that are hidden from the rest of the community. Even so, I am not part of their lives, not really. Most of the time, I'm okay with that. Sometimes, I long to be of the community, not just in it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to Normal

As Far Away Sister put it, it was nice for her to tell me what I wanted to hear yesterday and give me one day of relief and hope.... Daughter woke up with her stomach bothering her and tried to convince me she couldn't go to the workshop. I refuse to talk to her about those things until she has dressed and eaten breakfast, and by then she figures she might as well go. I got a whiny call today, complaining about blood sugars and tremors.
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Nurse called, and said Daughter had had a bad day. Very lethargic, couldn't complete a sentence, bad tremors that were quite visible, including in her legs. She was under the impression Daughter had decided she couldn't work yesterday. She was going to check with her supervisor to see whether she'd been super productive as she'd told me or unable to do anything, as she told Nurse.
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We have no heat in our house right now. The last time I looked, the temperature was 48 in here. I'm sure it's dropped since then. I'm going to go stand over the oven as I fix supper. I'm glad I decided to bake a casserole tonight. I have a meeting at the church at 7:00, hopefully it will be warm there (it was cold in the office this morning-- finally figured out someone had switched the thermostat from heat to cool.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wow!

That's about all I can say-- wow! About noon today I realized Daughter hadn't called. My cell phone rang, but it was Far Away Sister, not Daughter. When she got home today C and I were cleaning upstairs. She came upstairs and was quite chipper. She told me how many parts she'd done today, and if her reporting is accurate, it's more than she'd been doing in a week. She has done everything I've asked her to do without complaining. She asked if we could play a game together on the wii, and when I told her I wanted her to finish folding the laundry from yesterday first, she got right to it. She handled it when I beat her at wii games, and was happy when she won.
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I am amazed by the change in her. Amazed. I hope it continues. The only downside is that her tremors seem to be a bit worse, but she isn't letting them slow her down. If they continue to get worse, I'll call and talk to Psychiatrist's nurse. At this point, I'll ask about changing something other than the cymbalta, though. I can't believe the difference it has made. As she was sorting socks, Daughter said, "Have you noticed I'm doing better today?" I said I had, and asked if she was feeling better. She thought for a moment and said, "I think so."
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Wow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Attended the Entire Meeting

I had a meeting about 25 miles from here this evening in another church. I'm part of a group from our regional body that is working with them on some issues. I had tried to arrange respite for Daughter, but it didn't work out, so I took her with me. I was going to share a ride, but I decided I'd best go alone so I could leave if I needed to.
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I left Daughter outside the meeting room with her DVD player, coloring books, and various other things to entertain herself. Part way into the meeting, my cell rang. It was Daughter. I went out to see what was up. She had all of these vague physical symptoms. I took her into the meeting room and had her sit at a different table. She could see me, she was in the same room with me, she was fine.
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I just can't stop to think about the fact that my 22 year old Daughter can't handle being in a different room from me during a meeting. Instead, I'll think about the fact that she did some chores tonight, and she coped well enough I could be there for the entire meeting.

Glimmers of Hope

1. Daughter got up without arguing today.
2. She began unloading the dishwasher without being asked.
3. While she has called me twice today, she wasn't crying either time and hasn't told me she needs to come home.

I will celebrate these and hope that they are a sign of better things ahead.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cymbalta

Maybe it was the fact that Daughter (who is 5 inches taller than I am) was laying across me during her appointment today. Maybe it was the fact that she wouldn't talk. Maybe it was the fact that she's sleeping 13 hours a night and napping during the day. The fact that the xanax experiment resulted in uncontrollable crying might have been part of it, too. Psychiatrist has decided that Daughter has depression and anxiety with her PTSD. She has started her on a low dose of cymbalta. She still hopes eventually to get her off the abilify, as she doesn't think the problem is psychosis as much as PTSD. She wants to see her again between Christmas and New Year's.
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I finally lost my patience with Daughter this evening. When we got home, I asked her to take care of the trash and the litter boxes. She is supposed to take care of the litter boxes every night, and the trash is an every Monday night job. She told me to forget it, and that she was never going to forgive me, among other things. Since I was already being accused of being unreasonable, I figured I had nothing to lose. So I finally yelled at her. It didn't help when I discovered she'd gotten ready for bed at 6:00 and hadn't bothered to take a shower. I took care of the trash and the litter boxes. I was quite dramatic about it, too. Mom would have been proud (she was the master of guilt trips).
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Daughter has now told me that she's sorry, and no one deserves her. I'm going to call her down for pills and insulin in a few minutes and remind her that I love her because she is my daughter, not because she deserves it. Nothing will ever change the fact that she is my daughter and I love her. I will also point out that life is much easier around here when she does what she is supposed to do. I hope cymbalta is the answer and it begins to work quickly. I will always hope.

Phone Calls from Daughter

I had two phone calls this morning from Daughter. The first one was because she was worried about her appointment with Psychiatrist today. She is afraid Psychiatrist will put her in the hospital. I assured her that wouldn't happen. The second one was to tell me she was in great pain. I suggested she go ask for something for the pain. I'm picking her up this afternoon, but her anxiety is getting the best of her. I woke her up early this morning and made her sit under the full spectrum light while I did my work out. She went back to sleep, of course, but hopefully the time under the light helped some. She's insisting it's not helping at all, but she didn't sleep as much yesterday, so I see that as an improvement. I'm not sure that the light is going to be enough for her at this point. It would be nice if it was, but I'm just not sure....
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C came over this morning and we continued our cleaning and decluttering in preparation for the open house Sunday. We're making progress, but there is still a great deal to be done. I've decided I need a few more Christmas decorations. I think I may have been possessed by the spirit of my parents.... It's amazing the impact they continue to have on my life. For the most part, that is a good thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snapshots from Youth Group

We have a girl who is part of the group who is developmentally handicapped (the number of special needs kids in our group is very high). She seldom speaks, and is extremely shy. She has never initiated a conversation with me, and at most I get 1 or 2 word responses from her. She came in tonight and handed us 2 boxes of wallet size senior pictures. She stood there beaming from ear to ear as we admired them and commented on all the clothing changes and how much she looked like her sister. She never spoke, but I got some nods in response to my comments. It was great to see her so happy and proud.
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I went over to the church about 15 minutes before we were to begin, and there were already 3 kids there waiting. They enjoy being together and were looking forward to caroling, supper, and wrapping gifts.
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The kids were going caroling tonight to some of the senior citizens in Tiny Village. A couple of younger kids wanted to come along. One of them, a 1st grader, volunteered to wash the dishes after the kids ate soup and hot dogs when they got back. It was great watching the older boys supervise him. He stuck his arms into the sink and got his sleeves soaking wet. He wasn't very good at washing, so one of the older boys was going behind him making sure the spoons were really clean.
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His sister was working with Daughter on gift wrapping. Daughter was very slow, and her tremors were bad. The girl was so patient with Daughter, letting her take the lead even though the younger girl was much more capable.
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I was avoiding having my picture taken. One of the boys came up behind me and reached over my head with the camera to snap a close-up. My reflexes are still good, and he got a lovely shot of the palm of my hand.
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I love spending time with the kids. It energizes and renews me.

Remembering the Need

Anyone who has been reading the past few weeks has picked up on the fact that Daughter is not at her most stable right now. She's in what I call cling-on mode, recognizing that it sounds like the dreaded Klingons from Star Trek. I welcome this mode about as much as I'd welcome Star Trek Klingons into my life. The youth group is going Christmas caroling this afternoon, then coming back to the church to eat supper and wrap Christmas presents. I'll stay at the church and watch over the food, in part because I'm dressed for the Blue Christmas worship service tonight, which means my clothes are not conducive to wandering around Tiny Village in cold weather.
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So Daughter tells me, in her best whiny voice, that she doesn't want to go caroling, because she'll sing through her nose and mess everybody up. I tell her it's okay, she can still go caroling, she won't mess anybody up. She then says, "I want to stay at the church and help you. All I want is to be by you. That's all I ever want."
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Now Daughter has no sense of personal space. So when she's in this mode, she stands right on top of me. I was working in the kitchen this afternoon, and she was in there, "helping." Our kitchen is very small, and if she's standing in the way (which is often), she doesn't have the sense to move out of the way. If I ask her to move out of the way, she doesn't hear that she's interfering with my ability to work, she hears that I don't want her near me. We get into this spiral of my frustration feeding into her anxiety which causes her to be even more of a cling-on, which increases my frustration, causing her anxiety to go up.... Well, you get the idea.
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So for me, the challenge is to remember why she is acting the way she is and be patient with her. I try to find her jobs she can do that will keep her busy, near me, and out of the way. She put away clean dishes and cleared off the kitchen table while I was cooking.
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She's very conflicted about the Blue Christmas service tonight. One minute she wants to sing a solo (she can sing a solo through her nose, but not go caroling and sing through her nose), and the next minute she is insisting that she can't go because it will be too hard for her. I'm hoping that once we get that behind her, she'll relax a little bit. I put her under the full spectrum light again today. But I can't tell if it's helping with her depression. She fell asleep with her head on my lap and the cats on top of her last night. Even though she had what should have been a good night's sleep, it was a challenge getting her up this morning. Tomorrow we see Psychiatrist. I'm not expecting a miracle cure, but I'm hoping she has some ideas that will help.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry Christmas from Heaven

I apologize for my full of self pity post earlier today. We have a pianist for both services tomorrow. He wanted to make sure it was okay he played the piano and not the organ. I told him I was so grateful for his willingness to fill in on such short notice that he could play the harmonica as far as I was concerned!
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I made Daughter sit under my full spectrum light for a while this afternoon. Actually, she slept under it, but then she got up and joined me in the kitchen as I was baking. She wanted to help, so I put her to work unwrapping the candy cane kisses for the candy cane blossoms I was making. I put on Christmas music. Daughter sat there crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she said the Christmas music made her think of Grandma and miss her. She had received a note from Sister's ex-Mother-in-law thanking her for her beautiful prayer at Thanksgiving, and telling her that she missed Grandma and Grandpa, too. So she sat there unwrapping kisses and I stood there rolling sugar cookies in green sugar and we both cried.
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Tomorrow night at our Blue Christmas service we will be distributing bookmarks I purchased with the poem Merry Christmas from Heaven on it. The poem is under copyright, so I can't print it here, but if you go down the page on the link and run your cursor over the framed poem, the text will appear on the right. This year I can't read it without crying. I had ordered some more and they came in the mail today. I went and got them to show Daughter. I tried to read it, but couldn't. So Daughter read it aloud. After reading it, Daughter offered to sing at the Blue Christmas service tomorrow night. I told her I thought that would be too hard, and even I wasn't planning on doing much during the service. I wrote it, but the board is leading it. Daughter wants to help, so she will help with the blue ornaments we're going to give people that they can write something on and put on a Christmas tree. At the end of the service, the following story will be read, and we'll light the Christmas tree with our blue ornaments on it. People will have the option of taking the ornaments home with them if they'd like.
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A pastor, Bass Mitchell, shared the story of driving through the mountains towards his wife’s hometown one year during the holiday season. Throughout their drive, they had seen lots of Christmas decorations, and as they came around a curve her hometown was visible before them, all lit up for Christmas. As he looked down on the town, he was puzzled by all the white lights he saw on trees at the edge of town. Where were those? Who had put them up? As he realized where they were, he pulled off the side of the road and got out of his car to look more closely. The lights were on the trees in the cemetery at the edge of town. He stood there, pondering. His first thought was that putting Christmas lights in the cemetery was just plain weird. But the more he thought about, the more he realized how appropriate it was. You see, Christ came to defeat death. Because of Christmas, we know that death is not the end, and that we will be reunited with those who have gone before us. The light of Christmas takes away some of the darkness of death. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.

As I light the Christ candle, it is with the hope that the light of Christmas will lighten your pain and grief.

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I'm sitting in my living room, with the candles in the fireplace lit and the Christmas tree lights on, listening to Christmas music. The cats are curled up beside me. After Daughter gets out of the shower, she's going to make hot chocolate for both of us and come sit beside me. We may cry some more, but we'll be okay. Mom and Dad are together for Christmas this year. They're spending it with Jesus.

Out Shopping

Apparently the entire world is out shopping today, or at least all of those who know how to play piano or organ. Daughter and I went to City to the warehouse store. We were gone when Organist called me at 10:00 this morning to tell me she was still sick and wouldn't be able to play for our 2 services tomorrow. I got home at 1:30 to the good news on my machine. I have made 7 phone calls since I got the message. I have gotten one adamant no, 2 phone numbers of possibilities, and one husband who doesn't know his wife's schedule but will have her call me back.
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I'm trying to figure out when I, who have no say in hiring or firing musicians or anything to do with music, became responsible for finding substitutes at the last minute. This is the second week in a row Organist has done this to me.
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Daughter is in her sleeping-crying mood today. She sits down and falls asleep. I ask her to do something and she begins crying inexplicably. Even she doesn't know why she's crying. At one point she laid down in the middle of my study floor and fell asleep. I told her she had to move when I almost stepped on her trying to get to the phone.
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I'm going to go get busy in the kitchen. There is baking to be done and I need to make potato soup for youth group tomorrow. Tomorrow I have worship, advent brunch, youth group, and blue Christmas service. A nice, quiet, restful Sunday....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Honoring the Memory of My Parents

We always thought Mom was the Christmas fanatic, but Dad was almost as bad. One year I was home at Thanksgiving, and I accompanied him to a warehouse store. He took me over to the Christmas decorations and showed me a Christmas village-- the village of Bethlehem, complete with a stable, city gates, palm trees, figurines, etc. He pointed to it proudly. "It's nice," I said, "But I don't have anyplace to put it."
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"Yes, you do. It would be perfect on the gateleg table in the hall."
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I bought the village.
Mom was into greenery, like the wreath above, or the garlands below.
There was no such thing as too much garland, or too many poinsettias.
Even the corners had to be decorated.


Last year, I chose not to put out all the decorations. This year I put out more, but not all. I only put up 2 of the Christmas trees, for example. Dad would be very disappointed that I didn't put up all the outside lights he worked so hard to make easier to install. I gave up outdoor decorations the year I fell off the ladder and hit my head.
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Daughter, C, and I worked on them for 4 hours over the course of 2 nights this week. I put them up to honor the memory of my parents. I'm sure they would be pleased.


























































































Thursday, December 3, 2009

If This Is an Emergency, Dial Zero

Daughter called me today, sobbing. The voices were too bad, she just couldn't possibly stay at the workshop. I gave her my standard pep talk about having confidence in her and knowing she could make it through the day. She protested. She couldn't tell them to get out of her head, and she went on with a grand story of suffering. I suspected she was manipulating, but it is so hard to tell with her. I asked if she'd talked to Case Manager. She didn't know if Case Manager was there, and Case Manager wouldn't understand. I told her to call me in 30 minutes, and I hung up and called the workshop, putting in Case Manager's extension. I got her voice mail. The end of the message said, "If this is an emergency, dial zero." So I dialed zero.
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A pleasant woman answered. I identified myself and asked if Case Manager was in today. She put me on hold. She came back and asked who Case Manager was, a teacher? someone in early intervention? I told her she was a Case Manager in adult services. She put me on hold again. She came back and asked me her name. I told her. She put me on hold again. She offered to transfer me to her voice mail. I told her I'd already had her voice mail, and I needed to talk to somebody. I told her I didn't want to leave a message on her voice mail, my daughter said she was hearing voices and I needed someone to assess the situation now! She thanked me for explaining the situation and put me on hold again. She came back and told me to call back and leave a message on Case Manager's voicemail. I said, "I don't want to talk to voice mail, I need to talk to a person and I need to talk to someone now!" She transferred me to the adult services receptionist.
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I identified myself again and told her that if Case Manager wasn't available, I needed to talk to one of three other individuals. She had Case Manager on the phone in 10 seconds. I explained the situation to Case Manager. She went out and found Daughter. Daughter called me at the appointed time sounding quite chipper. Case Manager called after she'd put Daughter to work. It seems Daughter has been refusing work all week, and sitting around worrying about things. Case Manager had told her some of the same things I tell her. (Daughter accused her of having gotten her ideas from me.)
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If Daughter wants to be miserable, there's nothing I can say or do to keep her from being miserable. Her choice to be miserable, however, does not mean I have to disrupt my day to go tend to her. I had a productive day. Daughter made it through the rest of the day without calling me. I'm grateful for Case Manager, and amazed at how they handle "emergency calls." I may have to tell Case Manager about my experience.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Attempt

I discovered Daughter has been into more food today. The discovery prompted the usual storming off, calling me names, and announcing she was moving out. I hadn't even scolded or consequenced her for it, I had just asked her about it. When she calmed down she told me she hadn't slept well last night because her birth family was talking to her and bugging her. It's all triggered by her relationship with Nice Guy, and the thought that one day she might leave my home and protection.
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Remembering a comment Miz Kizzle had made, I sat her down at the kitchen table, and while I made garlic bread for our senior luncheon today, I had her write a letter to her family. She told them she had a loving family and friends now. She told them she was surrounded by God's love. At first, she was skeptical, but gradually she got into it. I helped her with spelling, and by the end of the letter she was telling them (in all caps) to get out of her life. I suggested we put it in an envelope and hang it on her bedroom door. Then they'll know not to come in and bug her and she'll be safe in her room.
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We'll see how this works. I just asked her to do something, and she has stormed up to her room and slammed the door, so it obviously hasn't solved all of our problems, but hopefully she will be able to sleep better and that will help. That is my hope. If this doesn't work, we'll make another attempt. I'm not going to let the past win, and hopefully Daughter will share my determination.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Jealousy

Last night C came over and we cleaned out a closet and did some more work in my study. I made arrangements with her to come over if I wasn't home from a meeting in time for Daughter's bus today. Daughter pulled out all the stops today to convince me she couldn't stay at the workshop. She didn't feel good in the morning, she called when she got there, and she called when I was in my meeting (which was an hour away). I was firm-- I was sorry she wasn't feeling well, but I knew that she could make it through the day and I'd see her tonight. All these conversations were teary and she was using her most pathetic voice.
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My meeting ended up lasting 2 1/2 hours, so I called C to be here to meet Daughter. I waited for Daughter to call me, upset that I wasn't home. She didn't. I finally called, and she sounded chipper. She was doing chores without being told. She wanted to cook supper for me, but I discouraged that. She continued to be chipper when I got home. After C left, she began sobbing, and couldn't tell me why. Suddenly I realized what was going on. "Are you jealous of C?"
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She looked at me like I was an idiot. "Yes! I hear you in there laughing and talking and I feel left out." Right now I'm watching and coaching as she does wii bowling. I played a game with her, but she was frustrated because my score was higher, so I told her to practice.
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I don't know why I didn't realize earlier that she was jealous. She is easily jealous. She gets jealous of the church, of family members when we're up visiting, of anyone who takes my time and attention away from her. We have an ongoing conversation about how she's my number one priority and she's the only one who can get in bed with me.
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This evening I reminded her how frustrated we both get when we try to work together on the type of things I'm doing with C. I will also make sure I give her more undivided attention oer the next few days. I have C coming over in the evenings right now as the press is on to get ready for the open house on the 13th. Usually I can take some extra time during the day to work on open house preparations, but this year I'm juggling too many things to find any free time during the day. Losing 4 1/2 hours to the meeting today didn't help. This is a challenging time of the year to say the least.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Bubble

Daughter lies. Daughter lies a lot. She will tell me she took her shower. "Will I find evidence?" Sometimes she will than admit she didn't, and go take it (though usually with a few loud words about how it isn't any of my business and she's not my puppet). For breakfast, she has oatmeal and milk. She needs some kind of protein to help keep her blood sugar stable until lunch. We generally have reduced fat sausage and cheese available for her protein source. Lately she has been protesting eating her protein. I found part of a sausage link in the upstairs hall after a cat retrieved it from the trash. I found a piece of cheese outside on the ground where she had thrown it.
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This morning her blood sugar was on the low side of normal, so it was especially important for her to have her protein. I asked about it, and she assured me she'd taken one of the individually wrapped cheese pieces and eaten it. "Will I find evidence?" She assured me I would. I went and checked. No cheese wrapper in the trash. I gave her a piece of cheese and made her eat it in front of me. She was not happy, but she knew better than to protest, as it was her own doing. She knows why she needs the protein (I've explained it several hundred times), but she doesn't care enough about her own health to follow through.
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One time she explained to me why she lied. She told me that with each lie, a bubble she has created around her grows. The bigger the bubble, the safer she feels. The bubble protects her from getting close to people, keeps her from feeling vulnerable. The lying is another sign of her current stress level. She is creating a big bubble around herself (when she's not sitting next to me wrapped around my arm, that is). She claims she's hearing voices again. She says her birth parents are telling her to kill herself. I told her to tell them to get out of her life, that she's safe now and doesn't need to listen to them. Is she really hearing voices? Maybe. Or maybe she's just making sure she has a big enough bubble to protect her from getting close to anyone. Maybe some day I'll figure out how to pop the bubble.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Down

I'm feeling a bit down the last two days. I'm edgy, and much less patient than usual. I had a wedding yesterday, and the bride totally annoyed me by her complete disregard for board policy on weddings. She did it very intentionally, too. I haven't decided what to do about that yet.
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I went to the rehearsal dinner Friday night, which happened to be Mom's birthday. I sat next to father of the bride's girlfriend, who was telling me about the wonderful 80th birthday celebration they'd had for her dad on Thanksgiving. She know nothing about the challenges of the past year, and I was gracious about listening, and more than a little bit jealous.
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We went briefly to the reception, but I had to come home to get ready for this morning. I needed to finish my sermon. Actually, I needed to start it. I've been avoiding work the last few days, which is a part of being down. Daughter was furious that I brought her home before the dancing began. She's hearing voices again. She says her birth parents are telling her to kill herself.
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Sister-in-law said something really stupid and insensitive at Thanksgiving. At least she had the good sense not to say it to Sister or me. Her comment prompted Sister's ex-Mother-in-law to turn her back on her and get a glass of wine. I keep telling the Sisters that as long as Brother is happy, that is all that matters. But that doesn't mean there aren't times when we'd like to wring SIL's neck. There are times when Daughter shows more maturity and sensitivity than SIL.
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Faraway Brother-in-law heads to the other side of the world on business today. I hope that his problem last week really was a medication mix-up and not a TIA or stroke.
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Daughter is off bowling with Special Olympics. NG's mother picked her up and took her. I had the opportunity to talk to NG's mom yesterday, and warned her a little about Daughter's PTSD. Flasher is supposedly completely out of the picture now. His mom pulled him out of the workshop. I don't think that's going to be permanent, but we'll enjoy the peace while he's gone.
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The next few weeks are going to be crazy busy for me. I'm going to have to prioritize carefully to make sure I get the things that are most important done first. C is coming in a little while, and we're going to begin by filling up Daughter's pill boxes for the next 4 weeks. I've decided that is a very high priority. We see Psychiatrist again on the 7th. I've been teaching Daughter how to talk back to the voices, and hopefully that will carry her through the holiday season and stability will return following the holidays.
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Next Sunday evening we are having a Blue Christmas service. I was fighting back tears during worship this morning, so I don't even want to think about what that service will do to me. I'm glad that the board members agreed to lead it. I'll be able to sit quietly and worship, provided, of course, that I can let go of my need to control worship and trust them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home

We met Brother for breakfast this morning, and then headed home, arriving here about 1:30. I woke up with a very sore back this morning. I think it must have been the motel bed. Daughter had to help me put on my socks. Daughter is exhausted. She's currently sleeping in a very uncomfortable position in a chair. I think she chose that spot because it is near me.
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I have a wedding rehearsal in an hour. I said we'd attend the rehearsal dinner, and I have no idea why I agreed to that at this point, but I did. I still have to write the meditation for the wedding and a sermon for Sunday. I'm not motivated to do either. Mom would have been 79 today. I tell myself that's not important, but it is.
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I look forward to coming home and sleeping in my own bed tonight, with a cat curled up at (or preferably on) my feet. I'll let Daughter have one of them for her feet (or maybe her butt). I also said we'd attend the reception tomorrow evening, again, I don't know why. Hopefully both will serve to distract me from the fact that today is Mom's birthday.
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We made it through Thanksgiving. Daughter is already beginning to worry about Christmas, but I think Thanksgiving and Mom's birthday are the bigger challenge. I need to get Daughter moving, and I need to get over to the church and make sure everything is set up for the wedding. I need to brave a store to get a card and gift certificate for the happy couple at some point, too. That will have to wait until tomorrow.
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We're home, and we survived the first Thanksgiving. Do you ever wonder who I'm trying to convince?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

We survived the first Thanksgiving without our parents. There were just 10 of us, Sister, Ex-Brother-in-law, Little Niece, Brother, Sister-in-law, and Ex-BIL's mom, sister and aunt. Daughter asked Sister if she could light a candle in memory of Mom and Dad and say the prayer. She did a beautiful job. I was proud of her. She handled the day pretty well. She had to talk to me a couple of times--she was missing Nice Guy, and there was some grief. I kept referring her back to her list of things for which she is thankful.
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As we were coming to the motel after our day with family, she told me she had been hearing voices. I asked what they were telling her. At first she said lots of different things, so I asked her to share two of the things with me. They were telling her she couldn't handle having a boyfriend. She said, "I'm showing them they're wrong. I'm handling having a boyfriend." They were also telling her she'd never be able to live independently. "I told them there isn't any rush and I can take it slowly at my pace and I'll know when I'm ready to be independent." Once again I was proud of her. She's asleep, and I'm headed that way, too. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Special Olympics and Thanksgiving

I took Daughter to basketball practice yesterday for Special Olympics. I had doubts, but she wanted to be on the team, so I took her. Nice Guy is on the team, so she wanted to be on it, too. Because NG is on the team, she wasn't going to show any weakness. The coach was working them hard. By 45 minutes into a 90 minute practice, it was obvious that she was wiped out. Her tremors were becoming progressively worse. She was becoming less coordinated. She was still pushing hard, though. M, the coordinator, who knew my misgivings, told Daughter to go get a drink. Then she went over and talked to her. She convinced Daughter that she should do basketball skills instead. Daughter acknowledged that by the end of the practice she would have collapsed.
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When we got outside, Daughter began to cry, very disappointed that she couldn't do it. We talked about it, and I told her I'd take her to one of the games. She insisted she couldn't go to the Thanksgiving Eve service when we got home, but I told her I thought after a few minutes rest she'd be okay. When I went upstairs to check on her, she was sound asleep, face down on her bed in just her bra and panties. Kitten was perched on her butt. Basketball skills will take much less time, and she will be successful at that. I know she's disappointed, but I'm relieved.
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When we got over to the church, she overheard me responding to some one's question about Brother-in-law, so I had to fill her in on what was happening. She told me again that she couldn't do Thanksgiving without Grandma and Grandpa, so we sat down and wrote a long list of all the things she still has to be thankful for (including all her doctors and every pet in the extended family). I told her she needed to carry the list with her and look at it anytime she's feeling sad. That seemed to help.
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I'm very proud of Daughter, because she expressed her disappointment over basketball and her grief around Thanksgiving. There was a time when she would have acted out, leaving me to guess what had set her off. The Depakote has slowed her racing thoughts down to the point that she can express her emotions and we can address them. I think it may be worth a few tremors.
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I need to jump in the shower and finish packing, and then we're off to Sister's. We are going to make it a good Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow we will get in the car and drive 3 hours to spend Thanksgiving with Sister and Brother and various extended family members. The celebration will take place at the home of Sister and ex-Brother-in-law (they can't sell their house and can't afford to support 2 households, so they live together even though the marriage fell apart over 5 years ago). Ex-Brother-in-law will prepare the feast. Several months ago, he said he wasn't going to do Thanksgiving this year. He wasn't comfortable with Far Away Sister's in-laws driving to his home (he didn't think they should be driving at all), and he had various other reasons for deciding it was time to discontinue this particular tradition.
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Last month I invited Sister and Little Niece to come here for Thanksgiving. Ex-Brother-in-law had a fit. "I'm cooking!"
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"But you told me you weren't going to do it this year."
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"That was before. What kind of jerk do you think I am? 'Sorry your Dad died, you're on your own for Thanksgiving.'"
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Brother hasn't been around much for holidays since he began dating his wife-- there were too many family obligations on her side. I figured we'd seen the last of them at Thanksgiving. Initially he was talking about them stopping by Sister's on their way elsewhere, but now he has determined that they are going to spend the whole day with our family.
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Daughter has been very concerned about the whole family falling apart because Grandma and Grandpa are dead. Tomorrow she will see that even with all the stress of this past year, including the discovery of theft and periods of refusing to speak to one another, we are going to be together on Thanksgiving. We are still a family.
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I've had several conversations with Far Away Sister today. I've put her down as my emergency contact person for my new doctor. I told her that's her reward for being my rational sibling. She said that was fine, because after yesterday she had expertise in tracking down missing people and getting them to the hospital. Brother-in-law has now decided that the problem is that he mixed up his medication yesterday morning and took a sleeping pill instead of his blood pressure medication. We'll see if that means he's decided he doesn't need to follow-up with a cardiologist and neurologist as they told him to in the ER. She's looking forward to a quiet Thanksgiving with just the 4 of them. They will begin decorating the house. Brother-in-law will leave for 2 weeks on the other side of the world on Sunday.
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Tomorrow I will give thanks for my family. I will give thanks for the love that binds us together in spite of our disagreements. I will give thanks for the fact that we can laugh when Sister forgets there is a 3 hour time difference and calls Far Away Sister and wakes her up on a Saturday morning to complain about cell phone plans she doesn't understand. I will celebrate the love of our parents, a love so strong that it holds 4 very different individuals together as one family even after their death. Tomorrow I will be giving thanks.