01 February 2010

Reminder: Keep Breathing

Sunshine, sunshine, snow, days of fires in the old stone fireplace that nearly fell on the neighbor's house and had to be mudjacked back into place. Days of babysitting Amelia, helping her in and out of her new pink princess dress with the flower crown and wand and a choice of either a pink sash or a silver sequin sash. I've watched Mulan and the Lady and the Tramp so many times that I think I could sing them all to you. I keep humming "A Girl Worth Fighting For," and since my mom teared up once at the end of Mulan, where the emperor bows to her, I keep tearing up no matter how many times we've watched it that day, and my brother said that he does, too, that it's the kind of movie that can take your emotions and run with them, if you let them.

My grandmother received 5 units of blood and 4 of platelets in her 9-day hospital stay, then was discharged home. Her doctor said he'd never written the order for "placement" and that he didn't think she'd comply if he did write it. My brother and I tried to reason/argue with her that she needed to move into assisted living (Zak, serious: "Nancy, you're straight f*cked." Nancy: giggles), and she tried convincing us that since she won't receive any more chemo (because she has permanent kidney damage from losing so much blood a month ago), she would feel "better," be able to organize her hoarder's hellhole of an apartment (literally boxes to the walls, covering all the floor, with a cot and one chair in the kitchen and some room on the floor to lay down and watch TV), and then, "I can't think of anything better than to lay down on my bed at home one day, go to sleep, and never wake up."

Of course, someone else in her position might say "hospice" at this point, but no, she is too deep in her manipulation games of controlling people to do that. I am pretty certain that right now, what she wants more than anything is for both 1) everyone to leave her alone and let her die in peace and 2) for all of us to rush in and save her somehow. I suspect she's waiting for things to get bad enough that my mom demands she move in with my mom--which would be an emotional disaster and a physical disaster, since my mom couldn't take care of her needs at all, as my mom can't cook, clean much, or help someone else move around. So, these goals are incompatible, and I have a feeling the dying will happen first.

The lesson? Crazy people are always crazy. They die crazy. It is ugly for everyone.

I called her yesterday and didn't hear back; she had a doctor's appointment today that she rescheduled for Wednesday. I'm sure she rescheduled because she feels bad, which would be a good reason to see a doctor, especially if you spent the last nine days in the hospital receiving a unit or two of blood and platelets every other day. So, will my grandmother (Nancy, I don't call her grandmother, per her request when I was an infant and she said, "I'm too young to be a grandmother" even though my mom was 30) die at home in the next two days? Will she call us? Will she call an ambulance? Will my deeply embedded feelings of hyperresponsibility take over, guide me to drive to her apartment and drag her back to the hospital? Or will I let her be responsible for her own bizarre, deluded, totally crazy decisions?

I have no idea. I have a feeling the end of her life is right here, that we are all staring at it, and that she is still playing games to ensure that people do what she wants. I have a feeling that I was right to pack funeral clothes.

A nice thing: being with my family. My dad's mom (who is Grandma) is coming to visit next week, mostly because I'm here and our timing lined up nicely. She is so wonderful to be around, lots of reading, sleeping, talking, coffee-drinking. We had a big family dinner last night with my brother, his wife Lucy, and their girl Amelia--pulled pork, baked bbq black-eyed peas, and the best collards ever: collards with garlic, raisins, and orange juice. Amazing. And cornbread. Bryant Terry's Vegan Soul Kitchen is wonderful; the collards and peas recipes are his.

I read The Road in two nights. I, um, I'm working on my post-apocalypse skills. I'm glad the boy made it through. And I learned that even after the apocalypse, one must be concerned about the safety of consuming home-canned vegetables. Good lord, Cormac McCarthy can write a lyric. Can't believe I hadn't read him before. The plot would get so bleak and terrifying that I only kept reading for the lyric. And the subplot of "is this boy a god or not."

So, keep breathing, little girl. Your skin and hair are drying out in this familiar Midwest winter air, so drink more water and less coffee. Be wary of old canned goods.


broken570 said...

the song i would choose to play while reading this post is 'pale green things' by the mountain goats. but it's not what i listened to. i listened to 'the crane wife 3' by the decemberists. so maybe i should rephrase my first sentence to read 'should have chosen to play' instead.

i hope you are holding up well. i still imagine hearing these stories through a large metal bookcase while staring at a blinking cursor in the dark as depressing music plays as the soundtrack. i feel guilty for being happy, and i am shocked that the world, on the whole, stays ugly even when i notice fragments of beauty within it.

if you ever need to talk, without the veil of cryptic metaphors, you know what to do.

Lassie said...

i'm so happy that you read the road!

and i can't believe you're going on and on about mulan when you've ALSO been watching lady and the tramp? which is MY favorite disney movie? you don't weep when the bloodhound gets hit by the car? oh, my.

i'm emailing you something. sounds like you need it.