Saturday, April 28, 2012
My mother-in-law passed from this life the day after my last blog Living Well in Tough Times. What was I thinking when I started a new Challenge this week? Actually, I've done pretty well, missed my daily Spring Into Shape Bootcamp video only once the day of her memorial service.
I've had an unexpected opportunity to make a retreat next week. I'll be at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester Mass 4/30-5/8 for a silent directed retreat - time to rest, time to grieve, time to ask what next. This is my thank you from my husband for caring for his mother. Check out the site for some awesome pics.
I didn't know until late Thurs afternoon whether there'd be an opening for me; these retreats fill up months in advance. I've been scrambling around, making last min flight and travel arrangements, thinking of what needs to be done here before I go--I think I just wrote the last thank you note, starting to make packing piles, making lists. I've been trying to do things as I think of them instead of letting them pile up. The last thing I'll do tonight is put away a basket of laundry.
Actually, that's not quite the last. The last thing I'll do tonight is sit down for a few minutes with my journal and write a short gratitude list. Maybe I should just do it here instead of waiting.
Grateful today for...
Going out for ice cream with husband
The last piece of travel planning done at 6 AM
Reasonably good airfare for last minute
Gas prices dropping
My dishwasher working again
continued outpouring of sympathy and condolences
The kitten's antics making us laugh. She must think her name is NO, Grayce!
Thursday, April 19, 2012
To borrow a line from my friend ONICAM who often titles her blogs "What's been happening", what's happening here is a multitude of decisions following a period of uncertainty after my 93 year old mother-in-law's stroke. She'd been in her own home and managing pretty well until two weeks ago. The stroke weakened her considerably and compounded chronic issues she already had.
Yesterday she went from rehab to a hospice facility, and I am already feeling better. So many things had to be taken care of before she could be moved, and we were both utterly exhausted by the time she was finally settled in her room.
Shift focus to me: I was awake around 4 AM, thinking about myself as caregiver and what my needs are at this time. I know that my pattern is to competently handle whatever I need to and fall apart later. This time, I'm trying to do a better job of tending to myself, even though I find it difficult, like so many of us caregiving types, to ask for help. I did two things today that were good for both of us. I brought a couple of bright red pillows and a soft throw with hearts on it to brighten up her room and to make the rock-hard sofa a little more comfortable for me. I asked my husband to set up my keyboard in his mom's room so I could play for her. I brought an old hymnal and spent a lot of time playing the old hymns for her today. I think it helped both of us be a little more peaceful and relaxed even though she wasn't feeling very good.
Because I wasn't having to worry about being with her for her meals, I could take the time to plan for my own. I had my three meals and two snacks, well within my calorie range, even allowing for coffee with cream and a cookie at Hospice. I stayed home this morning and did some catching up on things here and was able to do some intentional exercise. I'm giving myself credit for managing to keep up my Spark Streaks of tracking nutrition and fitness if I did nothing else.
My title, Living Well in Tough Times, means for me that I plan as best I can for taking care of me as well as my mother-in-law, taking time to notice the beauty of things around me such as the magnolia blossoms as well as the sunset across the bay when I drove home from choir tonight. Practicing gratitude is especially important right now.
I am very grateful to feel more rested today. I'm grateful that my mother came to sit with us this afternoon. I'm grateful that my dear husband appreciates what I do for his mother. I'm especially grateful for Hospice and the excellent care my family and friends have received now and in the past. I remain grateful for this site and for this wonderful community. Thanks, friends!
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The last couple of weeks have been very challenging. Along with my mother-in-law's stroke and singing six Holy Week and Easter services, I've had to get my taxes together--and officiate at a memorial and celebration of life service for a dear friend's mother. Much of last week was spent running back and forth to the hospital, and putting in 40 mi round trips across the bay for the church services, all the while taxes hanging over my head, a real pain in the neck since I am mostly self-employed. My husband keeps hearing my recurrent refrain, "I'm TIRED!"
However hectic things were last week, Holy Week was very meaningful. I sing in a professional choir in a traditionally liturgical church. The music is a very important part of the worship there, and I loved what we did, starting with the Faure Requiem on Palm Sunday afternoon. The best part of the week was getting to chant/sing the Exultet at the Saturday Easter Vigil. It's a long accompanied chant for solo voice, horrifically boring if done poorly, magnificent if done well. It sits well in my voice; if I start on a comfortable note, I feel as though I could sing forever. I also got to sing/chant at the Good Friday evening service, a wonderful finale to a birthday I expected to lose in the busyness.
As I type, my husband is plugging in the numbers I gave him to complete our tax forms, so that monkey (taxes, not husband) is off my back.
My mother-in-law in rehab means a time of watching and waiting and uncertainty. At 93, recovery is unpredictable. It helps so much that she's in a place that's so close to our home so we can be there at many mealtimes when she most needs our help. We're taking it a day at a time as far as she's concerned.
Just before she had her stroke, a dear friend's mother passed after a long illness. I was very honored to be asked to officiate at the memorial celebration her family wanted. I brought my keyboard and played a couple of hymns, read from the Book of Common Prayer, and kept things flowing as family shared their stories and remembrances. It was a lovely memorial and tribute to a strong and feisty woman.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Dear friends, thank you so much for the ongoing support. My scale says 3 lbs up, and it's likely right. With 93 year old mother-in-law's health issues following a stroke and other things going on concurrently, I've had too many meals--or should I say food--on the run, and whatever exercise I can do between other things, like squats in the elevator, seated leg lifts while staying with her, whatever I can think of.
She is now settled in rehab, and I have to get my taxes done today as well as prepare for a memorial service a friend has asked me to do this weekend. I am not a clergyperson, this will not be a formal church service, just a family remembrance that I am honored to facilitate.
THANK YOU for the goodies, encouragement, and hanging there while I am doing only SP essentials. My trackers aren't showing great numbers, but I'm doing it anyway. This too shall pass.
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