Three years....and counting. So much has changed that I can not even remember what it felt like to have written what I wrote that day in Aug. 2012. And it hurts to look at a photo of my Mom and know that I can no longer give her a hug or apologize for not appreciating her when she was here. Life sucks.....and I can't find joy in much of anything any more. May have been a mistake to think I could write again. Must go now.
It's never quite how you think it will be, is it? In Sept. of 2011, Steven and I became the ...ahem...proud surrogate parents of our nephew Nathaniel, age 13. Reasons don't matter, and he is now safely back in the arms of his father but for 4 months we took the reins of his life and tho our impact on his future was negligable, we did manage to keep him alive until his dad could resume his own life. Shortly after his departure, my mother took a spill and could no longer manage to stay by herself, so she came to live with us. Our wonderful daughter, whose room had finally been painted and made girlie after years of looking like the inside of NASA headquarters, volunteered to move back into her old room which we had turned into a pantry (not kidding).
What a difference a year makes. We now find ourselves caring for an elderly parent in a scenario being played out all across this country....a club we never thought we'd be joining (did we think mom was never going to BE elderly?). We've gone from helping her change channels and taking her to her doctor's appts. to carrying her to the commode and feeding her meals. She is frustrated and sad and in pain and I am frustrated and sad and unable to make her pain go away. I'm crying because of the burden and crying with guilt because I consider my mother a burden. I'm alternately Mother Theresa and Dr Mengele. In the immortal words of young people everywhere...this sucks.
But, there are rays of light in an otherwise dim reality. Family has been a Godsend; without their support, physical help (thanks Stephanie) and the cleaning ladies (thanks John and Ashley) we don't know what we'd do...certainly drink a LOT more wine. This weekend two of my brothers are coming, one from Napa the other from Pennsylvania and I look forward to lots of laughs, lots of help and...well....lots of wine. God has been extraordinarily good to us. Simply allowing us to care for Mom is a gift. Spending her last months here has allowed us to see a kindness in each other, especially our daughter, that we might never have experienced. There is nothing in the world quite like watching your 18yr. old daughter give your mother a manicure. I don't want to think of what the next few months will involve, neither the workload nor the eventual grief is a happy expectation, but it's our world right now and so we accept it. We get up each day and do what we have to do...because we have to.
Mostly we try to remember to tell Mom how much we love her....every day.
Our 'used to be so ugly that no one wanted it' kitten has turned into a rather beautiful young lady. To give you an idea of what she looked like as an 8week old kitten, her name is Yoda.
We've taken out the last little bit of grass in our back yard and are replacing it with a veggie garden. It'll be fenced because of the dogs.
The chicken coop will be enlarged and have two entrances...one under the wooden arch and one back by the coop (left corner of pic). I'll post 'after' photos next month...and continue looking for some 'before' pics (external hard drive is 'unavailable' at the moment).
Sam made this flag when he was in the 6th grade. On his own, with lights and a scrap of cardboard, he worked for hours before presenting us with his creation. Over the years it has survived rainstorms, freezes and the occasional neglect...but the lights have never gone out...not once.
For the past 6 months our family has lived with the very real possibility that our soldier might not come home...ever. For 197 days we have gardened, grocery shopped, done our banking and budgets, gone to work and to school. We've attended soccer games and back-to-school nights and hosted a wedding. We've visited relatives, had lunch with friends and watched parades. We've sat in front of the TV, built fires in the fireplace and brushed our teeth at night. But every one of those 197 days had an edge to it; every one of those mundane activities felt different. Today, for the first time in 6 months, the edge is gone. We finally got the call we've waited for since he deployed to Iraq; the one that told us he was back on American soil. Today, we can think of Sam in terms of what he will do for the rest of his life. Going to college, deciding on a career, having a family. . .things we couldn't let ourselves think about when he was in harms way...are a reality again. It's like that scene in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks talks about getting up every morning and having to remind himself to breathe and hoping that someday he could get up and not have to remind himself to breathe.
Today...I didn't have to remind myself to breathe.
I used to photograph and cover sports for the local paper. I fell into the job writing because the paper hadn't sent a reporter to the last game of a basketball season that I was shooting (not a single game won all year, not much interest) . As it turned out, the team won on a last second shot by it's star player. The stands were filled despite the dismal record and the game seemed more like a championship event than the only win of a very long season. I felt the evening deserved more that a couple of pics and a caption, so I wrote what I thought was a decent tribute to the hard work and effort that these young men had put in all year. When my editor responded by saying, "I didn't know you could write" it was high praise indeed.
And so began mycareeras a sports writer....part time and very limited, but a good initiation into the world of deadlines and fact-checking and quotes from coaches. It was fun for awhile, and the money was a bonus, but other than one near-perfect football season where I tried in vain to imitate the feel of a SI story, coming up with creative ways to cover yet another track meet was beyond my abilities as a writer. So after about 3 years, I decided to pack up my typewriter and concentrate on the budding farm here at the Garver homestead. I even sold my legitimateI'm a sports photographer telephoto camera lens because I was only shooting 3 or 4 games all year. I miss the lens occasionally, and I miss standing on the sidelines, but I don't miss the deadlines ...not even a little bit.
This past Thursday the high school football team decided to honor Veterans by donning camouflage uniform tops, letting anyone with a military ID in free and having a couple of local veterans toss the coin before the game. It seemed a good time to pick up my camera and brave the cold (she says with a straight face, this is California after all) to take a few pics of the guys for posterity. Without my fancy schmancy lens I was mostly relegated to shots of the sidelines, but those are my favorite anyway, so it was all good.
Solar Oven Solar Dehydrator Grain Mill Pressure Canner Soil Block Maker Pasta Maker Indoor Seed Sprouting Station Cast Iron Dutch Oven - thanks John and Ashley!!! Freezer -Sears...no interest for a year!