Saturday, April 11, 2020

Hallelujah. . . .

Play "Hallelujah"
on Amazon Music Unlimited (ad)
(originally by Leonard Cohen)

Well, I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Well, baby, I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew ya
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Well, there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do ya?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah...

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

I love this song. While life giving, it also makes me feel sad. Little M is still in ICU. No news at the moment regarding his progress. His mom posted this song on FB today. I realize how lucky we are in the big scheme of things, yet, this cloak of despair woven from threads of anger, fear, and frustration seems to be the predominant means of keeping me warm these days.

I tried to watch mass online today.  Palm Sunday without Palms. Unheard of. At any rate, while our quad sat on the couch, Honey pie seemed very distracted, trying to paint her skin, my hands, etc. with a paintbrush. Up and down. Up and down. Trying to get water. Going to the bathroom. I get it. She is seven. For her, it is like watching a documentary that you have absolutely no interest in. But I want to soak up the fact that we are here as a family. Together, when my other half, for the second week in a row, tells her to go up to her room, since she is not "behaving."

What started as us being together, resulted in us being divided, separated, like we do not have enough of that already. I go to her room. I ask her if she is ok. She wants nothing to do with me. Anger pulses through her. She does not want to go with me back downstairs. She does not want to go for a walk. And so, I am again, alone. I am angry. I am pissed. I don't want to go back and watch mass, only the three of us, with Honeypie alone in her room.

So I drive. I drive throughout Brookfield. I see blue everywhere in support of Little M. I think how good people can be. How kind. Yet, I am sitting in my own excrement of anger and don't know how to release it. Service. I can release it through service. So, to find a service outlet that won't result in my further separation of my family.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hope. . .

From where I sit. . .

I dreamed a dream . . .

That God would be forgiving. . .
Young and unafraid. . . .
No ransom to be paid. . .
No wine untasted. . .
Tigers come at night. . .
Voices soft as thunder. . .
They tear you both apart. . .
Turn your dreams to shame. . .

Still, I dream . . .

The dreams that cannot be. . .

There are storms we cannot weather. . .

I had a dream my life would be so different . . .

Life has killed the dream I dream.

I realize that we all have much to be grateful for amidst this pandemic of pain and sorrow. We have  a roof over our heads, jobs, health, and more. Meanwhile, #23 is fighting for his life at Loyola after being hit by a train. His siblings cannot gain entry to visit him and are struggling. These are real problems. Health care providers on the front lines, intubating young people, exposing themselves to the virus, while sit, wallowing. I am so ashamed.

My kids need my help, my husband needs my consolation, and I have very little to give them. Honey Pie's face is breaking out; she is angry, ripping her work.  Ladybug is an explosive mess. The yelling is unbearable and so reminiscent of childhood. It is something that I cannot stop. I want to run, but cannot. In these moments of tense desperation, I appreciate the struggle that those with predilections for substance use are enduring. I appreciate the pain felt by those who cut, or enter into such penetrating darkness that hope seems untenable.  I, too, want to escape. I want to crawl into my bed, cover my head, and stay there.

I feel like that Mother's Day coffee mug, that has a crack in the side. Filling it one  more times and I will shatter on the counter top, never to truly hold. My mother's laughter that morphed into a blanket of tears is beginning to feel all too familiar and threadbare.

And so here I sit, devoid of warmth, devoid of dreams, wondering what tomorrow will bring.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

It had been a long day. Catherine awoke way to early for her tastes. The birds who usually begin to chirp were silent.  The sun still slept, leaving a blanket of blackness in her wake.  Hell, even the cats who normally prowl in the room, nibbling on her fingers and toes or who make a bed of her chest were still sound asleep. No. Catherine was awake because she was bothered. Bothered by the fact that the one who gave birth to her no longer knew who she was. No longer knew who her kids were. And she was bothered by him.

Despite the transitional nursing home snafus that usually come when one firsts enters a nursing home, Catherine felt fairly pleased. She and her sisters had communicated about their Mom's care (or lack there of) and she had worked hard on writing a letter, clearly articulating these findings. She had planned to address the Assistant Director of Nursing that morning while he visited with her mom that morning and then hoped to begin reviewing her charts.

"Genevieve," Catherine called her youngest, very curvy sister who was vacationing at the beach. "I need some power clothes. I simply cannot go in and speak to a Nursing Director in some flouncy shirt and shorts."

Genevieve, who had worked her way  up the corporate ladder at a major hospital in the area and now was a bigwig certainly had a wardrobe of power clothes. The glitch might have been that where Genevieve was curvy, Catherine was not. Where Genevieve was petite, Catherine was tall. Nevertheless, Catherine plowed through the plethora of clothing to finally spy an outfit that would do: a whispy salmon blouse to wear with a black A-Line skirt.

"A ha. Found it. Won't worry about the fact that I have on pauper sandals. I will look like a professional on vacation." thought Catherine who had taken off from her clinic work to spend time with him while they checked in on her mom.

I wish I could say that Catherine's meeting was full of drama and excitement that she conquered with great resolve and tenacity. However, it was not. The Assistant Director listened openly, kindly, taking notes as she went. Catherine mentioned that she would follow-up with a summary email and forward it to those who needed to be in the "know."

She hurried home to work on this and her mom's dignity plan while he was visiting with Mom. Unfortunately, Catherine is sort of a dweller. When it comes to writing, she is able to do it beautifully, but it comes at a price: It takes a long time.

So there she was, running into the Nursing Home 15 minutes late to pick him up. He simply did not want to be there when her mom ate. Catherine knew why. Her mom no longer embraced the pleasantry of manners, using her fork, knife, and napkin as a good housewife should. No. Now, she played with her food; dissected it; used her fingers and poured juice on her potatoes.  Catherine realized that her being late would be a problem, but she had hoped it would not emerge in her mom's presence. Her mom was sensitive and Catherine knew she would pick up on it.

"Let's go." he said to Catherine.

"GGGG876 bblack" uttered her mom, gesturing that she too wanted to get the hell out of there.

"Dad, " Catherine pleaded. "We cannot just leave now. They are starting to serve the food and there is no one here to act as a diversion. We are going to get Mom riled up."

"It's time" he said as he began his very slow, yet purposeful shuffle towards the door.

And in doing so, Catherine watched as her mother became a sprinter doing the 50 yard dash.

"Wait, Dad." Catherine stated firmly. "We are not going anywhere. We are going to sit with Mom while she has lunch. She needs to eat."

Reluctantly, Catherine's Dad shuffled back to the dining area, squeezing into  a chair at the head of the table, opposite of  Iamwatching the cars outside Maxine. And as he sat, clutching his lunch bag and frequently examining his Timex, he began to squirm. Until finally, like a volcano, he stood up, slammed his hands on the table and hissed "You were late."

Damn. She thought she might get away with it this time, but what a fool she was to think that a seed of patience might blossom during this time. Evidently, this was the wrong season for patience.

"I realize that." stated Catherine, gritting her teeth. "I was late because of a letter I was working on for Mom. I think that it would be best to talk about it later. We will leave after lunch. If you are hungry, pull out your peanut butter."

And from there, the passive aggressive volley began. First he would tell Catherine to let her mom alone and let her feed herself. Then he would take the fork and give her mom a bite, asking if she wanted any more. Catherine's mom of course does not know if she wants more. But she does know that she wants him to stop asking and then trying to shovel it in. Catherine watches her mom make that all-too familiar eye roll and lip pinch. She takes the fork and then begins to finger her food. He, because he is all prim and proper, covers his eyes so that he does not need to see the mess she is becoming.

With the last bite of her meal, he rose as if to leave when Catherine told her mom that "We are all going to go to your room and watch tv." Her moms feet seemed planted while her fingers continued to pillroll her napkin.

"Come on, Mom," Catherine said gently. "Let's go watch tv."

And so they sat. The Dad starting to squirm as if there were something in his pants til finally, another verbal explosion.

"Catherine, you may be a  nurse, but you know shit about this kind of nursing!"

Calmly, cooly, Catherine rose, looked her dad in the eye and told him to

"Fuck off" as she confidently left the room.

A multitude of thoughts were flooding her brain, but the predominant one was "Really? We have to go through this again?" And grace of all graces, there was the nurse that she had spoken with earlier that day.

"Catherine, do you need some help?"

As Catherine explained to the nurse that her dad was losing his cool and they were trying to extricate themselves without causing a big to-do for her mom, this wonderful nurse came into serve as the desired distraction, allowing the dad and Catherine to leave.

Upon entering the pristine, old man Buick, Catherine got in, buckled her seatbelt and sighed.

"Dad," she said. "I am going to tell you this once and only once. Do you remember years ago when I was driving the family to River Dance when we saw an older African American Man clutching his chest and staggering. Do you remember that I wanted to help and you retorted. 'What can you do? You are only a nurse. Keep going.'"

"Dad, do you remember that?"

Her dad nodded.

"And do you know that I have taken time off of my paying job to be here with you and to help mom? Do you know that I am sacrificing precious time away from my husband and kids to be here with you?"

Again, he nodded.

"If you think that I am going to put up with your bullshit and your denigrating comments when I am trying to help you, you have got another thing coming. If anyone does not know shit about this it is you. The three of us saw this coming years ago. We begged you to move into a smaller home so that mom wouldn't have to move and you could then pay a live-in caregiver. But no, you knew better. It was more comfortable in J Town."

"Let me tell you. You are not the only one hurting here. You may have lost your wife, but we lost our mom. Our kids have lost their grandma."

And as Catherine backed the car in reverse, squealing the beloved Buick Tires, her dad screamed

"Watch out!"

It was in that moment that all was clear. The Buick. Anything beautiful was beloved. Anything with flaws, anything imperfect, anything that might be rendered less than was a complete and total failure in his eyes.

And so she put the car in drive and drove back home in the imperfect, the less than, the totally failing silence.

Monday, August 6, 2018


Welcome, my friends. I would like to share a story with you. It is chilling, almost horrifying and I hope you continue reading. Let us begin with us all assuming a comfortable position, with your eyes closed or gazing softly at the floor; hands resting in your lap; and feet touching the floor.

Francesca. What can I tell you about dear Francesca?

Francesca, while always modest by nature truly has always been somewhat of a tom-boy, if you can call her that. Over the years, she has shared many stories about her voyages into the mysterious dark woods, chasing deer, fishing for crawfish, and sneaking up on snakes. Stories have also played a huge part of her life, whether she was telling them or reading them to her children and grandchildren.

On one sunny day this summer, Francesca awoke to a low moaning sound that appeared to get louder and louder. Upon opening her eyes, she was bewildered to find herself in a strange bed in a new land. While she did not see anything that she could have anticipated making that horrendous noise, she could still feel the fear that was bubbling up insider her, causing her heart to pound and her chest to hurt.

“Get out! Get out!” Her gut was screaming at her. She looked around the room, only to see that she was alone. Her regular people were no where to be found. “Get out! Get out!” her gut seemed to scream at her again. And so, she did what any reasonable person who found themselves in a strange place without their regular people with their gut screaming at them to leave: she decided to get out even though she was dressed in only her pajamas.

While trying to make her quick exit, an unfamiliar person clothed in black with gloved hands seemed to be reaching for her.  This person seemed to be speaking at her in loud, commanding, rapid and incomprehensible speech. Francesca saw these hands and they reminded her of something. What? What? Why did she have such fear?

It wasn’t until this person began to push her in the direction of a dark hallway, trying to remove her clothing that Francesca began to fight back. She clawed and spat. She twisted and turned. She was determined not to let some stranger whom she has never met, speaking a language she had no understanding of remove her clothes. What would be next? Suddenly, there were two of them working to subdue her.  . . .

My friends, I can see you are becoming uncomfortable here with how this story is unfolding. I, too, am uncomfortable. But that is the point. Can you imagine how it must be for a person living with dementia in a nursing home? When it comes time to shower, think about it. Would you want to remove all your clothes willingly with someone you don’t know or understand? Empathy goes along way.