Friday, August 31, 2012

August Round-Up: What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs

Power, Queens by Neil Kramer

Hurrah! It's time for my "What I Loved on OTHER People's Blogs" feature again. The place where I share what has caught my eye (and brain, and heart) on the internet over the past month.

OK, I figured it's August... summer... summer vacation... like "summer reading" this month's round-up would be light and frothy, enjoyable little nibbles of sweetness, mixed in with some funny shit.

But reading through the list I've compiled over the course of the month - holy hell it's a heavy, intense, thoughtful, meaning-fraught bunch of posts. So, um, THAT didn't happen.

But please don't let this scare you away from reading, because there is some seriously amazing writing in these posts, much magic here. Just be prepared to be transported... let's just say not to the beach on a sunny day.

And this month?

Roosevelt Island Tram by Neil Kramer
Reflection by Neil Kramer

My all-time favorite intstagram photographer (and friend) Neil Kramer - of the blog  Citizen of the Month - was in New York City (as opposed to LA, yes he's bi-coatal) and so his photos here reflect the nitty and gritty of my fair city. A good fit for this particular collection of posts, I must say.


Pigeons, NYC by Neil Kramer

Dear Hypothetically Gay Son from John of ask your dad

If not me – Who? by Spectrum Scribe of  Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum

Everything After by Laurie of LaurieWrites

Morning by Neil Kramer
Woman Texting by Neil Kramer

The Meaning of Married { Scenes From A Marriage } by Maggie May of Flux Capacitor  

Slow train coming from Eric of I am a broken man/You can't break me

How We Do It - Part XV in a series by Elizabeth of a moon, worn as if it had been a shell

Outside Apartment on Way Back from Pizza Place by Neil Kramer
Woman Sitting Against Metropolitan Opera by Neil Kramer

Gabby Douglas Doesn’t Care About Your Cause by Liz of The Six Year Itch 

Who Are The People In Your Neighbourhood? by Eden of Edenland 

On Writing. by Lori of Random Ramblings of a SAHM

The Return Back by Neil Kramer

Julie Sheehan, Constituent Bartender: You Had Your Chance, Job Creators by Julie Sheehan at The Best American Poetry blog 

I want to talk to you about love by Maggie of Magpie Musing 

When We Lie to Ourselves & Others About Beauty by Jane of Jane Devin

Afternoon shadow by Neil Kramer

Finally, something lighter and sweeter, but still way deep (because that's the way I roll):

A tiny corner down by Kris of Pretty All True

And a few more photos because Neil was ON FIRE this month!

Photos by by Neil Kramer

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Mom, last time I saw her, healing but sad
I spent much of the day today in my mother's apartment, sorting the final wheat from the chaff. She has pared down and pared down and pared down again and again in all the many moves of the last seven years.

But this one is extreme.  Everything must go, except what will fit in one dresser, one amoire, one nightstand. Half a room. My mother's sphere of influence, the breadth of her ownership is now half a room. In a nursing home.

Like going away to college. Only not. So. Not.

I am so filled with emotion I am nearly paralyzed. But I must not be. I have a deadline for this job. That it coincides EXACTLY with my son's first day of school is nearly killer.

I have a bottled up ocean inside me to spill out over this. But not yet. I am beyond words for now. Tucked deep into my sorrow, steeling myself for the endgame that lies ahead, be it months or years.

My father's beautiful sculptures

I keep stumbling upon bits of my childhood everywhere I look.

A baby shoe.

A book I read on my father's lap.

A hand-blown glass bauble from the gallery.

A tiny blue pitcher I gave my mother for her birthday.

How do I choose what to let go of; what to hang onto? I can't. It's impossible. But I must, so I do.

It is so hard to keep myself from tumbling down the rabbit hole, getting lost in reverie.

But I can't. I can't. I can't. I... oh my, what have I found here...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Ethan has fun

Ethan in Mets stadium, on the field

This past weekend Ethan was back from camp, but Jacob was not home yet, so he had a little taste of only-childhood. He got a haircut, new shoes for school (his feet grown a size and a half over the summer!) and went to a Mets game with just us, his parents. Wanna see?

The "Back-to-School" Haircut:

Ethan's Haircut: before (looking Dylanesque again)
Ethan's Haircut: after (and yes, that's gel in there, he's STYLIN' now)
New Shoes:

new shoes - with laces
Mets Ball Game (they won!):

Up in the cheap seats, but still having fun

It just so happened that on Sunday there was a special "kids run the bases" event after the game, so Ethan got to break in his new sneakers in the red clay dirt of the Mets ball field. Awesome!

And then Jake came home and the fighting began again. Oh well, brothers, ya know.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Mother, today (with Jacob)

Mom & Jake
I know the other day I promised a short post and then rambled on and on. But this time I really mean it!

Neither wordless nor quite yet Wednesday, though, so think of it as Pithy Tuesday or some such. (Nods to Elissa Freeman, she knows why.)

Today Jake and I went out to see my mother, while my upstairs neighbors rescued Ethan from a day of video-game-and-TV-watching boredom.

He has such a terror of spending a day alone (not ALONE alone, mind you, but alone as in NOT played with, being pretty much ignored by busy working parents) and is rather vocal in his displeasure with such arrangements. Especially when they involve proximity to his autistic twin brother.

Ethan does not believe me that no one has ever died of such a thing as boredom, and claims he will be the first. I have tried the "bored children get chores" gambit, but there is no yard work here in our tiny urban apartment, and all other housekeeping tasks would require MORE of my time and energy to teach and supervise him in than to do them myself.

So he empties the dishwasher and then it's pretty much back to entertaining himself with expensive electronics. (The horror, the horror...)

But today, my neighbor (whose praises I cannot sing enough) knowing all too well herself the eldercare-and-kids sandwich squash, took Ethan on for the afternoon.

Leaving Jake free to train out to Long Island with me, to spend some quality time with my mother. (Taking the train because the morning had been spent bringing the sadly falling apart old car to our lovely mechanic* to get a new tire, among other things.)

And we did. just. that.

And I didn't cry because Jake was there and I didn't want to scare him, but I held my mother while she cried about how reduced and sad her life is now, about how much she misses my father. Each and every day.

"He was my best friend," she tells me yet again, tears welling up in the good eye, and the bad.

A pair, they were. Bonded in love and friendship. Fifty one years.

I hated to leave her, when it came certainly time to say goodbye. "This is what I look forward to now," she said, apologetically, gesturing to the bingo game they were starting to set up in the dining room.

"Your mother is a good player, she wins!" piped up one of the other residents, declaring my mother a youngster, she a sprightly 96.

Yes she is.

Yes she does.

90 on Sunday.

We'll be back.

*If you're a New Yorker with a car, I love, and am happy to recommend our mechanic. Talk to Ralphie of NY Prestige Auto Repair, and tell him Varda with the ancient green Camry sent you. He'll treat you right. (No guarantees, of course, but that been my experience so far.)

Just Write
I am linking this up with my friend Heather's Just Write

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday is... Monday

I like fluffy clouds

Do you ever hit that point in your burnt-out mental and physical exhaustion where your brain goes blank and you find yourself stopping in the middle of sentences and losing your point all the time and your mate and children stand there and finally ask to please please just buy a verb or noun so they can glean some inkling of the VERY important thing you were going to tell them, before you just


in the middle for no reason, your mind gone blank or distracted by something shiny?

(No, me neither, nope, never happens to me, nuh-uh.)

Do you ever find yourself answering the simple social question of "And how are you?" with: "Hanging on to sanity by a thread, but haven't let go yet" ?

Do you post Facebook updates that read: "Ok, resolving to be less negative and count my fucking blessings. That's 1 fucking blessing... 2 fucking blessings... 3 fucking blessings..." ?

Do you find yourself getting ridiculously pissed off that Words-with-Friends doesn't recognize "scumface" as a word, because it would have given you a triple double word PLUS the all-7 bonus for a gazillion points?


It's been like that lately. 

And I'm not going to go into the details here because if *I'm* tired of my whining, you all are surely quite done.

And unlike in the past, the pressures are not creating beautiful lyrical late-night writing, but rather rendering me useless in my insomniac stupor, cackling away at inane things on "Damn-You-Autocorrect" when I should be sleeping.

Yet I don't want to fade away silently into stressed-out oblivion.

So here I am for the moment.

(Picture waving to you. But HELL no, I'm not turning on the computer camera because then you would see the unholy mess behind me. Plus the stain from Jacob's 1/2 eaten but "all done" chocolate Rita's Ice that plopped onto my shirt in a backsplash when I threw it into the trash on the way home tonight.)

Repeat after me... "2 weeks until they're all back in school."

My mantra of the moment.

All the other things I also need to accomplish in these same two weeks, when all I want to do is enjoy this last scrap of vacation-time with my kids and catch up on some sleep? Not going there, but just imagine a 10-ton dump-truck unloading onto me and that about sums it up.

Catch you on the upside, folks.

And between now and then? Expect some more gallows humor, it's what keeps me hanging onto that last bloody thread.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

If it's not one thing, it's a flat tire and 103 fever

This is going to be a fairly short one, if not a particularly sweet one...

When I went to pick Ethan up from camp on Friday morning, I was so happy. It was a beautiful day and I'd had the wonderful company of my friend Deb on the 2 hour drive hour out, as I was giving her boys a ride home, too. We have a lot in common, had a lot to talk about, and the drive-time just flew by.

I arrived to find Ethan looking tired and miserable, sitting on his duffel bag. I was expecting a happy-dance reunion, and I got a nine-mile stare instead. A mumble and a tearful hug.

I was more than a little miffed to find out that the message I had specifically asked to be delivered to him, that I would be doing the LATE pick-up time, as I wanted to take the camp tour, and thus to NOT worry that he was one of the last campers being picked up? Had NOT been communicated to him at all.

I assumed that an hour of anxiety was the source of his listlessness and clinginess, his resistance to going on the walking tour of the camp. That and the fact that he had slept poorly the night before. As he reported to me, he had woken up in the wee hours to pee, and had had trouble falling back asleep.

I really should know better. When Ethan is THAT out of sorts, something is up. My friend Amy even wrote a blog post about this phenomenon recently (called: those who cannot remember strep throat are doomed to repeat it) that I had read, and actually shaken my head thinking *I* certainly knew better. The more fool, I.

Because it wasn't until after the tour (which I dragged him on) and after lunch in town (which he only ate half of) while in the local penny candy store (that he was being surprisingly less than enthusiastic about) that I heard him complain of feeling cold. And it was actually rather warm in this store.

That's when the bells and whistles FINALLY went off in my head and I put my hand on the back of his neck... to find it burning up.

Feverish Ethan, with friends
A short trip to the local drug store for a thermometer revealed a temperature of nearly 103.

Yikes! No wonder he'd been feeling so punk. I had also picked up some tylenol (pretty sure he would need it) so boy properly dosed, we cut short our poke-about town walk and got into the car to head home.

The medicine kicked in and the ride home was going swimmingly. That is until a large chunk of debris - it looked like a piece of bumper, maybe - flew off a car diagonally in front of us and landed in the road: hard plastic, light blue and deadly to our right rear tire.

After the bump of rolling over it, I felt the sickeningly familiar chunkity-chunkity-chunk and pulled over fast, on a section of I-80 that fortunately had a decently wide breakdown lane. The boys were all thrilled, they had never been in a car that had sprouted a flat tire, let alone one on a major highway - quel excitement!

After some time on the phone with AAA and being told we'd have a long wait for a tow truck to come to our aid, we were pleasantly surprised by fast efficient service.

Of course the spare was in a well in the trunk, which had to be emptied of camp duffels, and of course it was completely flat. But I had warned the operator of this probability and the truck driver actually had a tank of air with him, and the spare, once inflated, thankfully, held.

I was nervous as a cat the whole long, long final hour of our ride home; every bump or slight shimmy making me fear my cranky old spare had given up the ghost. But it held true and got us back home to the city with narry but a good tale for the boys to tell their friends.

I might have kissed the sidewalk in relief when we finally stepped out of the car, home safe, but I know how many dogs have peed there. So I settled for a friendly pat of the old girl's roof, telling her "Good car, good car."

And I thanked the parking fairies for delivering us a spot nearly right in front of our house. Not quite rock-star, but proof they weren't pissed at us, either.

Hopefully Jake's return home tomorrow will involve less highway adventure, and no need for thermometers.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Last year's fledgling, this year's eagle

My two empty nest days are over.

Tomorrow I am up early once again, driving out to Pennsylvania to pick Ethan up from camp.

So, with no time to write, and also Jacob much on my mind, as he spends his week at special needs sleep-away camp for the SECOND year in a row, I thought I would re-post my report from his first year there.

Last year I called him a "fledgling" as he was leaving the nest for the very first time. This year he has shown himself to be a veritable eagle, soaring high on his own wings, so easily.

Here is that post (written for the Hopeful Parents site) from last summer:

Jake & me at camp welcoming ceremony 2011


This summer, an amazing thing happened in our lives: our 9 year-old autistic son Jacob went to (ASD) sleep-away camp for a whole week in late August. And we didn't get that dreaded phone call to come get him because he was falling apart, unable to hack it. He had a great time.

This is the child who clung to me and sobbed when I left him at pre-school...

Who had to have a photo of me taped up in his cubby at Kindergarten, so the teachers could bring him over and point to it when he got sad and called out for me, reminding him that he would be going home to me on the bus in just a few scant hours...

The boy who every time we are out and about in the world doing anything, even something he truly loves, will ask, after a few hours, to go home please, telling me that he misses Coco (the cat) and his blue bear.

So knowing all this, why did we dare send him in the first place?

Well, we did it for him and we did it for us. For him because he is too dependent about things he actually has the ability to be independent with, but not the inclination; thinking that a week without us would kick-start some self-reliance, push him to take more responsibility for himself, where others are having expectations for him with the bar held high.

We also wanted him to have the confidence that comes with knowing he could spend a week apart from us and survive, and maybe even thrive.  We were hoping he would make friends, would try new things, that the experience would open up his life.

And also? I was terrified. Because while Jake may live in the body of a rather large nine year-old, emotionally and socially he is a LOT more like a four year-old. And you don't send four year-olds off to camp alone.

Also, the camp was a pilot program, being run out of a regular (Jewish) camp, at the end of their regular season. So this was an experiment on all sides. It was set up for "high functioning kids on the autism spectrum" ages 9 to 13, and I was afraid that Jake would have less language and be youngest both physically and emotionally.

We were teetering on the fence about this for a long time: was this the right thing to do, or should we wait another summer.  But I didn't want to underestimate my son, and I wanted to give him this opportunity to grow.

So, with trepidation, a few Sundays ago I loaded up the car with Jacob and a giant black duffle trunk containing a huge portion of his worldly belongings, a full set of medicine & vitamin packs and a detailed description of his GF/CF diet.

We had written social stories aplenty, made a special calendar that he could check off each day until it was the next Sunday and he was to come home. Blue bear came with, and he held him the whole ride up.

It was just Jake and I traveling North to the Berkshires together because his twin brother Ethan was traveling West to another state this same Sunday with their Dad, on his way to an introductory week of sleep-away camp, himself, along with a bunch of his friends. (Remember when I said this was for US, too?)

The whole ride up I chatted away to an unusually quiet Jake in the back seat, talking about camp and how today was Sunday and I was going to leave him there and come back the NEXT Sunday and pick him up. It was impossible to know how much was sinking in or not.

We arrived to be warmly greeted by a lovely staff. There were around a dozen kids in the program, and surprisingly about half were girls. There was a family welcoming ceremony with songs and prayers and introductions.

You know you're at Autism Spectrum camp when someone steps up to introduce themselves to a group and says "Hi, I'm Dan" and a voice from the peanut gallery calls out: "You're short!" (He was.)

Toward the end of the ceremony, Jake turned to me and asked, calmly, "Are you going now, Mom?" So I guess he understood, after all. I told him I was not leaving quite yet, that all the mommies and daddies would be kissing their kids goodbye at once and then he would go off with his counselors to settle into his bunk and begin the fun.

And when the time came, that's exactly what happened. A big kiss and hug, a wave, and goodbye, Jake. Wow. Someone had tears in their eyes, and it wasn't the boy.

I got a call the next day, and nearly had a heart attack because I got to my phone just as it rolled into voicemail. But it turned out to be a courtesy call, wanting to reassure us that all was fine, share that Jake had settled in well and was happily having fun.

Like all modern camps these days, photos posted daily to their website and we were able to see our boy swimming, dancing, sculpting, playing games, playing drums. Sometimes smiling and laughing sometimes looking a little lost inside himself, but never scowling, unhappy.

How strange it felt to not have him home, how many extra hours I had in my day to get things done, how unstructured my evenings became -- which was both exhilarating and vaguely un-mooring; that's another story for another day.

And then, when it was time to pick him up, he ran to Ethan and I beaming, happy to see us, but turning and waving goodbye to his new friends, too. A happy, tired boy, my little fledgling, one step closer to becoming the young man he will someday be.

NOTE: This post originally appeared on the group Hopeful Parents site on September 10th, 2011. Click HERE to read the original there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Full Circles

"Tree of Life"
It's four am and I should be asleep.

I have a long day of driving ahead of me, up to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts and then back home again.

I am taking Jacob up to camp.

It's the same special needs program at the sweet, wonderful Jewish sleep-away camp he went to and loved last year.

But still, sleep is not coming.

On top of everything else that is making me anxious these days, there is this:

Even though he went last year, even though he is a year older and his communication skills have jumped leaps and bounds over where he was a year ago?

My son Jacob is still quite autistic; still unable to reliably report on his activities; still as likely to answer "yes" to any and all questions asked of him, because he knows that answer makes us questioners happy, as opposed to trying to represent some sort of truth.

"Did you do math is in school today, Jake?"


"Did you play basketball today?"


"Did you go to the moon today, Jake?"


(So my son is still an astronaut.)

And also, though he can say "I want..." this or that, will tell you "No, I don't like that!" if he hates something you've given him to eat or wear... still, he doesn't really know how to thoroughly advocate for himself yet.

I worry.

And I'm struck once again by how different my feelings were two nights ago, preparing to send his twin brother Ethan off to HIS one week sleep-away camp; the excitement, the certainty that he would be having a good time, easily able to let the folks there know what he needs, to take care of himself.

Twins. But so different.

<> = <> = <>

On road, in the early morning of what is sure to be a beautiful day, Jake is in the back seat and we are listening to pop music on the radio.

Driving up to New England, the highway passes through the Riverdale area of The Bronx; means I pass right by the exit I took to go see and take care of my parents for two years, in this, their old car, now mine. Today the exit sign for 254th street brings my heart into my throat, tears burning my eyes.

My mother so diminished and frail now, hurting and in the hospital. I am contrasting that with visions of my parents when they first moved here, back from Florida together, the two of them. So much younger, so full of life in 2005.

Seven years.

And he is now gone and she is in the endgame. And my children are now ten, double digits; on the precipice of launching into teendom. Life flowing in two directions all around me.

<> = <> = <>

It has indeed turned out to be a beautiful day, the finest of this whole hot miserable summer. I am sitting on a bench in the outdoor sanctuary at Jacob's camp. In the place where, as 14 year old, I had lain a mosaic; now long gone, replaced by a lovely tree of life ark.

This camp has changed over years since 1974, yet also so much remains the same. Walking past the old red barn, chills ran down my spine, memories shuffling past. Last year the special needs camp was held at this camp's sister location nearby. But this year: here.

Last year the opening ceremony was lovely, but did not evoke the past.

This year I sit in this exact same spot as my fourteen year-old self, and past and present swirled together like the light and dark sections of a mixed pumpernickel bread. As we sing the the words of the prayers, my arm around Jacob who is leaning deep, snuggled into my side, I am crying.

Growing up in non-religious household, going away to this camp at fourteen was the first time I was really exposed to Hebrew and prayer. That one summer, four and a half weeks, really, have remained a deep & meaningful time, are a part of shaping who I am.

Not particularly observant now, there is still, somewhere in my core, a rooted sense of Jewish self, an unshakable identity. And I know my one month here at Jewish sleep-away camp instilled that.

People have asked me why my near fervently non-religious parents had sent me here, of all places. And there was the official, and I'm sure true reason: I had always wanted to go away to camp, they wanted to give me what I wanted before it was too late, and this was the cheapest camp they could find.

But I also have to think that they somehow knew, maybe even subconsciously, that I needed this, needed to belong to something larger than just myself and my tiny nuclear family.  

And now I sit, my son at my side, my mother in a hospital bed, physically distant but ever on my mind. And in front of me, in this sanctuary, is a beautiful, sculptural Tree of Life.

A visceral image of what I sit in the middle of every day, these days, caring for the young and the old. Looking backwards and forwards.

But today, trying to be just here. In and of this moment.

And then my son hops up, heeds the call for campers to make their departure. He plants one more kiss on my chin, runs up the hill to the awaiting counselors. Just when I think he's off with nary a glance back, he turns, offers me a big smile and wave and happy "Goodbye, Mom!" shouted at the top of his lungs.

And he's gone.

Jake waving goodbye

Just Write

I am linking this up with my friend Heather's Just Write

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hodge-podge Edition

Five things I want to tell you (updates and downloads of momentary thoughts from my currently chaotic brain) in no particular order. Kind of like what you'll get if you open up one of my kitchen drawers (don't ask):

1. Ethan has been dropped off at camp.

Ethan, excited at camp drop-off
Five whole days apart. I am missing him. And yet? Wow, is the house quieter and more peaceful.

Every now and then something happens and I realize yet again that my son who doesn't have autism is actually higher maintenance and more exhausting to parent much of the time. Go figure.

2. And Jacob? About to do the same with him on Tuesday, a return to the wonderful ASD Jewish camp program he went to last summer. The one I had to drive like a bat out of hell up to last summer, a full day early, to pick him up and then race Hurricane Irene back down to New York.

Please let this year be a repeat of the wonderful time he had last year, but can we just skip the hurricane emergency and accompanying parental anxiety? Thanks in advance, gods of Autism. And extreme weather.

3. My mother is doing... better. I have heard that the swelling around her eye has gone down considerably. It was so hard to not be with her yesterday, but I had to take Ethan across 2 states to camp, and then come back, and I just didn't have it in me to then travel an hour each way in an opposite direction. (Many thanks to Suzanne who lives one town over, and came to visit my mom in my absence. True friend.)

I will spend today with her. Hopefully she can go home. Even if that "home" is no longer a true home (sob), but just her nursing home bed, it's better than a hospital one.

Mom is constantly anxious about her glasses, which I will be bringing with me today when I see her. But she forgets. This is the tragedy of my mother's cognitive impairment. In the moment she is so with it: bright and connected and funny and kind. But her short-term memory, her ability to make things told to her stick? Is just... GONE.

And so she is constantly anxious and worried and upset about mysteries that have no need to be mysteries if she could just remember. But she can't.

I HAVE her glasses. They have been fixed. I will bring them to her today. She has been given this information at least twenty times in the last two days. But I am positive she will wake up this morning not knowing where her glasses are, and worrying that they are completely broken and she will never get them back.

Number 342 of the things that are breaking my heart.

4. I am having a really hard time right now with all that's going on (and I'm not even telling the half of it). Anxious. I do not feel anxiety often. Which is a good thing because I tolerate it REALLY poorly. I am jumpy, twitchy and more distracted than usual. My ADD goes into hyper-drive. And I get really cranky. And negative.

And I write things like this:

When you've been spending time with your sad, injured mother, you tend to think ungenerous thoughts about strangers as you walk around streets of New York, like: "How come YOU get to stroll down Broadway chatting with someone who is clearly your sister, with your twin, odd, ungainly gaits while my Mother has to lie in a hospital bed with a baseball sized purple goose egg swelling her eye shut?" 

The brain screams NotFairNotFairNotFair as I and everyone else just walk about on our daily routines, oblivious to the manifold disasters that lurk around each bend. Every able-minded and -bodied person is just one misplaced step away from becoming a member of the underclass injured, the invisibles who shuffle or wheel among us oblivious, lucky folks.

See? I am just SO much fun right now. (Yes, it IS appropriate to start feeling sympathy for my husband right about now.)

5. Squirrel! ... Shiny! ... Was I going to say something else i was going to tell you? Never mind. I'll remember later. You don't mind a call around midnight, right? Or better yet - something to post about tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Mom, 4 AM, Saturday, August 18th

I am doing time in a hospital ER again.

It's 3 AM again (actually nearly 5 by now).

There was a phone call at 2.

2 AM phone calls are NEVER good news.

That it came today, when we were back home in the city, returned just this past evening from our Berkshires vacation was a blessing. But also, of course, a curse.

So here I am, again, on 2 hours of sleep again, with my poor hurting mother.

What happened was: she fell. Again.

Mom fell in the bathroom of the nursing home where she now lives. The aide who had brought her in there was being kind, giving her some requested "privacy" for a moment, so had stepped back, was hovering just outside the (open) door.

But Mom forgot that she was supposed to ask and wait for help when she was done and attempted to get up by herself. You can see what a good idea THAT was.

She fell, hard; clonked her head but good on the sink. Additional assorted body parts also made contact with surfaces harder that they should have. And she was sent off to the local ER to rule out fractures, brain bleeding & other such fun stuff.

When I arrived at the ER, I took this picture. Believe it or not the eye looks much worse now, a veritable goose-size egg rising under the purple, bleeding surface of her lid and brow.

And yet, my mother, being my wonderful mother, still has a sense of humor about it.

She kept asking "Why can't I open my right eye?" (Yes, her short-term memory issues are so bad she kept forgetting what had happened to bring her into the hospital. Albeit the percocet may have contributed to the fog.) So I showed her the picture.

Her response: "But you should see the other guy!"

And also she managed to look on the bright side: "Doesn't my hair look great?" Love that mother of mine. (Wonder no more where I got my gallows humor from. And my father was even worse.)


Here we go again.

On the up side... astonishingly, unbelievably, no bones were broken. Her ribs, elbow, hip are bruised. Skull: intact, with no brain bleeds.

Just one massive, ugly shiner-to-beat-all-shiners.

Oh, and also maybe it's a good thing that something landed her in the hospital, because as they were doing all those x-rays to see if she'd broken anything, they found some fluid in her chest. At first they thought it was maybe in her lungs, and that she was brewing a pneumonia, but then concluded it was around them, in the pleural area, and she was instead in the wee early phase of an incipient heart failure.

Which they are now fixing.

So yes, obviously she was admitted into the hospital.

Good thing I wasn't going to that family wedding this weekend, after all.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Vacation plus Reality, with Pictures

A beautiful morning in Great Barrington
We are here on vacation, in a setting so idyllic it makes my heart zing every time I open my eyes and look around. My in-laws' beautiful Great Barrington house.

Boys actually playing together in pool = big win

And yet it is impossible to just relax and let myself be transported, for I am tethered to so much (phone calls, phone calls, phone calls about my mom). I didn't even make it into the pool yesterday. Though the boys did (all three).

3 guys in the pool
Coming back here, year after year, we have developed some traditions.  I spend as much time barefoot as possible - and take a picture of my feet in the grass, to remember this time by. Check!

I took some lovely portraits of the boys:

There was the 3rd annual watering of the car, an anticipated event now. This year Ethan did not fully join in, but he helped Jake fill the can. Cooperation at its finest. And the old beast is (marginally) cleaner, so there is that.

We had our walkabout in town, replete with a foraging session at the candy shop and a tour of Toms Toys, the lovely independent toy store on Main Street. I remember buying them Thomas trains there. (How fast they grow up. Sigh.)

Spinning the pinwheel outside Toms Toys
We found a local ball field and the guys had a game of catch. Thank goodness there was a basketball court there too.

Indoor diversions? Screens screens screens. Plus a 500 piece World Map puzzle Ethan and I worked on for 3 days. The Indonesian islands nearly killed us, but we got it done!

And then there is the new...

A this Greek restaurant, Ethan ordered the grilled SALMON off the kids menu and proceeded to eat it and ENJOY it. Anyone who knows what a picky and stalwart "kid food only" eater Ethan has been over the years is now probably thinking I was hallucinating at last night's dinner.

But no, it was real and he was thrilled that we were thrilled. As Jacob likes salmon, too, this means there is now something I can actually cook for a family meal that is healthy and everyone will eat. Not having regular family meals, the way I did growing up, the way I assumed I would in the family I created is a never-ending source of guilt and sadness for me.

This will make it easier to achieve, at least once a week. Salmon. Whew!

Ethan awaiting incoming ball
Underlying and overlaying all this classic vacation stuff, however, is my mother. All that I have to do for her in the next few weeks is a weight on my shoulders. How lonely she is in this week without my visit, a stone in my heart.

Compound that with feeling so sad and guilty that we never brought her here on vacation with us. Last year would have been the perfect year, after my frail and unmovable father had passed, yet when she was still hale enough herself to travel, to swim. Now is too late, she is so diminished.

I spot a hummingbird flitting amidst the morning glories outside the kitchen window and think "Oh, Mom would have loved to see this!" I would cry and cry about it, if I didn't need to make breakfast and put on my happy face for the boys.

Watching the kids cavort in the pool whilst in my PJs? Priceless.
So this is us on vacation. Just trying to have a little fun. To not think too much. And I'm determined to rest up a little bit before the shitstorm of caretaking that's going to hit upon our reentry on Friday.

Wish us luck, once again. Thanks.