Monday, April 04, 2005

(*) A mighty good climber

The weekend before last, the boys and I had a wow of a time hanging out together - gees, I needed that so much! We firstly went to check out the flick "Robots" (which I'd rate personally about 3/5), then we hung-out together at the big local park in the middle of town for a few hours, just being together, playing some games, laughing, goofin' about - you know, boy stuff! Lots of fun. It's always like a good medicine for me to be with them. I took these two pics at their front gate - the two younger ones were trying to pull silly faces (naturally!) It was a bit of a breakthru in a way - M let me pick them up from their place! I had been wondering how all that would kinda work out, but it's bloody great! (My little car hasn't skpiied a beat with all the driving lately either - I'm so grateful).
In the park, we played Boules - trying to toss great big steel balls nearest a jack - and a passer-by took this great pic! Here's JD, myself (yes, I have put on that much weight over the last few short months! D'oh! lol), Seb & Ix. There were no forced smiles there...
Here's a really great pic - taken by JD of his two younger bros. It's in a giant greenhouse in the middle of that same big park... that's IX and Seb - who just happen to be wearing my favourite colour! And as the games continued, Ix, then JD, noticed something very unusual perched atop a huge 120-foot-tall pine tree - it's a blue plastic milk crate! Whoever managed to place it there was either a mighty good climber - or a really good shot! hahahaa.

My mum had been finding breathing quite difficult, and she managed to spend a few days sitting up in a chair beside her hospital bed, which helped her feel more relaxed. Basically, her kidneys were failing, and her heart wasn't keeping up with all the build-up of fluid. She was responding well to treatment, but she knew she wouldn't last too long. I managed to spend quite a bit of quality time just sitting being with mum during those last two weeks, as she grew weaker and weaker right in front of my eyes. It was really awful seeing her like that. She really didn't want things to drag on and on for her, the way she was. At one point, they were considering trialing her for palliative care, possibly at home, but she really didn't have the energy left to successfully do that. Two days' before she slipped away, as I was sitting chatting with her, she gave herself a bit of a scare when she found she couldn't breathe properly, so she had to have the oxygen mask level increased a bit, and she slowly calmed down enough to relax. The whole time during that incident she sat and held onto my hand... she was simply scared at feeling so awful. Poor mum. I admit I found that pretty hard... I wanted to scamper for a bit there for a while, but it didn't take long for her to settle down again and feel comfortable again. Then she was so cute - apologising for being such a nuisance! lol.

I stayed overnight a few times at mum's place while she was in hospital. The hospital was 130 km's from here, and mum's place was only a 25-minute drive from the hospital. I last saw her on Thursday morning, sitting up in her bedside chair and sleeping peacefully. She looked very thin and weak, but she was relaxed and comfortable, which made me feel a bit easier. Later that day they transferred her to another ward in the hospital, where they could keep a closer eye on her. They gave her some medication that helped her to relax a lot, and she slept for the first time in a long time.

For some reason, the hospital couldn't reach my brother, and at about 6pm on Friday I got a call from the hospital to 'come as quick as you can'. I quickly rang my brother, who was only about 30-mins away from her, and I threw some things together. 5 minutes later, the phone rang again. She had slipped away as quickly and simply as that. I think that as she felt so relaxed, it gave her the chance to finally 'let go'. I finally arrived down there by 8.45, and my brother and I sat together beside her for a little while. Obviously we felt both sad and upset, but mainly an overwhelming sense of relief and release for ourselves and for mum. At least she didn't have to struggle for breath now. It was quite surreal in one way, as I kept turning to her, expecting her to join in the conversation too!

My brother and I went back to his place for the night (his wife was away in Brisbane, and didn't get back until the next day). For the first time in 40 years, my brother and I sat down and shared a few beers together! We'd been meaning to do it for a few years, but we smiled that it wasn't until that moment that we'd had the opportunity! This was truly the best experience for me - just talking and talking with my brother over a few casual cold beers, feeling like some kind of weight had been removed from us both in some way. The best way I can describe my brother and I just relaxing over a few beers together was it was a time for us to 'deflate'. Before we knew it, it was 1am! We both slept like logs I think.

I picked the boys up on Saturday from their place, and went to hang-out for a little while at a nearby town park. I told them that 'Nanna Rae' had passed away, and they took it very well, appreciating things in lots of ways. We spent about an hour playing a bit of hit-and-giggle cricket before I took them back home, and JD was very interested in the whole 'what happens next?' procedure with his nan. So it was good to walk thru things with him that way. Talking with M over the past few days, they have responded quite well to it all, which is a plus. We've agreed that the younger 2 boys shouldn't really go to the funeral (we'll do some other things for them down the track a bit), and JD is old enough to decide for himself if he chooses to come to the funeral or not. That's fine - we don't want to force him into something he's not feeling comfortable with.

The funeral is on Wednesday morning at Leura, Blue Mountains. Tomorrow afternoon, my brother, his wife and I are going to the Funeral Director's to see mum and say a final farewell to her. I'm happy doing that - my memory of mum is seeing her sitting up sleeping in her chair, rather than when she'd slipped away laying peacefully in bed. My sister-in-law was away when it happened, so she said she needs to say goodbye that way, and that's great.

My involvement in mum's funeral is firstly as a casket bearer, then she asked me to read Psalm 23 from the Bible. I'll be reading it out of the family heirloom bible, which is signed and dated 1832! It's a cremation service with a funeral celebrant (mum wasn't really 'religious') at the same place where dad's service was held, so I know what to expect in lots of ways. Mum and dad will have memorial plaques next to each other just nearby, which'll be lovely - a place to be able to take the boys to as the years pass.

Naturally I'm upset, but I'm not a sobbing mess. I realised after dad's passing 9 years' ago, I'm one of those people who just seem to hold it all together during the first few weeks, then loose it in a big puddle of tears a little later. That's fine - I'm quite aware of the process of grieving I seem to go thru, so I feel fine feeling as quietly comfortable with it all as I am at the moment. I don't mean to sound so blasé about it all, but it's 'just my way' at first. I had to confirm with my brother that my silly jokes and one-liners are 'just my way' of getting thru those first few hours after she passed away... we had some good laffs and giggled like silly kids there for a while - it was really quite cute. Letting off a bit of steam, I guess.

I realised I entitled that other posting "A tattered coat upon a stick"... that's one of my cryptic references to my favourite author George Johnston, when he was at the end of his life. Mum was just an 'empty shell' of the mum and woman we all knew at the end, so it's nice to have precious memories of her full and diverse life to remember and celebrate. We are all quite happy that she got a final wish - things didn't drag on and on for her the way she was.

Thanx for listening to me rave on, Paige. I guess it's been a type of therapy just to write and talk things thru as they've been happening to and around me.

A few funny asides in the midst of all these things happening... I finally got an appointment with our counsellor for M and I to work thru some mediation issues together... tho we'll probably postpone it again! I mean, I haven't even been able to tell M I got that call about it on Thursday! lol. Then I managed to pick-up two days' work at the local Show over this upcoming weekend, and the initial meeting was tonight! Oh well, in spite of everything that's happening - life just keep going on! That's life!



Blogger birdychirp said...

Mal I meant to get in touch before - butI'm so sorry to hear of your mum's passing - at least she is peaceful now.

Be thinking of you, birdy x

April 05, 2005 6:37 am  
Blogger caroline said...

everyone grieves differently. I know when my folks die i will be what has to happen next kinda girl and then when i get to stop and think about it i will probably lose it.

I'm really glad that you are doing ok. Take Care i am still thinking of ya.

April 05, 2005 1:04 pm  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Mal, you're doing great. And your boys look terrific. Sounds like all your family are giving their best for each other right now - something I see time and time again in the families I work with. It's Wednesday here so I'm thinking of you, although it's probably the middle of the night where you are - best I can do though!

April 06, 2005 7:11 pm  

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