Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kitty Cuteness, V

I am so tired, I want to curl up with my feline friends and take a nap. A nap to last the rest of the summer. Or as my good friend says, "Can we just turn the page?" Wouldn't being able to turn the page and see what happens be an incredibly enticing (and scary) thing to do? But we can't. And I can't curl up with my kitties. Instead, I'll post some pictures and stare longingly at their cuteness.






Sunday, June 28, 2015

Three Hands

Setting: Sunday, June 28, 2015. Master bathroom, 6:35 p.m.

Melina sits on the tile floor, rummaging through the linen cabinet while I sprinkle baking soda on the walls of the tub and shower.
Melina: Hey Mom! Why do we have these rings in here?
Me: The butterfly rings?
Melina: Yes.
Me:  Oh. Those are from when we celebrated Grandma's birthday. I put them in that box to bring home, and I forgot about them.
Melina: Looks like there are three of them.
Me: Yep.
Melina: [Wistful smile on her face.] Sometimes, I wish I had three hands.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Finding Time

I complain quite often about how hard writing is. I won't go into those complaints here. Instead, I'd like to say that every once in a while, the writing life extends a gift. No, I don't have an agent hot on my heels, nor do I have another writing/editing gig waiting in the wings. But I do have a good friend who made a simple (yet completely brilliant) comment about one of my books that could change everything. Now, if only I could find the time to make those edits...

Friday, June 26, 2015

Can You See It?

I'm up to my armpits in paint here--two bedrooms down, none to go (and pictures to come, of course)--and at 8:06 p.m., I finally sit down for a break. I'm tired. I smell like paint. And the hairs on my arms are sticking together thanks to said paint. I need a laugh, which of course comes from a predictable place: a photo. And not just any photo, but one found on the internet. A photo that shows Michael Jackson dancing in the sky.

Photo from Pix11 and found here.

Yes, to some people, the clouds inside the red circle look like Michael Jackson doing the moon walk. I can't say that I agree with them. Can you see it?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Curses!

Warning: This might just be my most inappropriate blog post yet. (I'm sure you can tell by the red, bold, italicized words right?) So that means no kids should be reading this. (Ahem, Zoe and Talia.) That also means that many of you might be turned off by the language used in this blog post. They're just words, you know? And I've given you fair warning.

I try so hard NOT to be crude when it comes to expletives. (Sweet bacon crackers, anyone? Or my favorite exclamations?) I usually keep my mouth in check, mostly for the sake of the children. But this summer? Well, things have changed. My life has been caught in a cycle of lather, rinse, repeat unlike any other I've experienced before, and my penchant for foul language has bubbled to the surface and stayed there.

Over the past month or so, I've started cataloging scenes for a story of these not-so-lazy, curse-infused summer days in my head. So far, the most germane title I've come up with is That Fucking Summer. Alternatively, The Summer of Fuck would be quite suitable. The only problem with that second title is that it could be read in two different ways. And let me be honest...that second meaning? Well, that ain't happening around here. Why? Because it takes two to make that happen, and when one of us--read that me--is perpetually on the road, it can't happen.

Anyway, I've recently learned that I need a much stronger word to go to than fuck. (You might ask yourself how I've learned this. Believe me, when you cuss on every phone call to your sisters...when you find the curse words perched on your lips, brought there by the simple act of looking at the caller ID and seeing two numbers in particular...you quickly understand what words work and what don't. Trust me.) So I found myself wondering: is there a more powerful word than fuck? Could I find a word that makes me feel as good as fuck does when it leaves my mouth?

I've already tried out all the variants of fuck: motherfucker, clusterfuck, son of a fuck, fucker, fucking, etc. I've also used some less offensive words such shitballs, damn, holy hell, and the like. I've even gone so far as to try to come up with a random word to fit the situation of the day. For example, I decided that ratatouille would be my expletive of choice for one day. Ratatouille confused the kids because I could, of course, use it front of them. Melina especially looked at me quizzically, stopping me every so often to check and see if we could watch the movie of the same name.  I've auditioned several other words--beans, ragtime, and farmer. None of those words gave me the visceral release that I get when I use fuck. Or fuckers. Or fucking.

About this time, you're probably asking yourself another question: Why is she using that word so much? What in the world is going on that she needs to cuss so fucking often? (See what I did there? I hate when people say that. If the readers see it, they see it. If not, who gives a fuck? Ha-ha!) Remember, I always ask you not to judge, and I'm asking you now not to. Just know that my life, in the present time, requires me to have the mouth of a sailor. Okay, it doesn't require it. But if cursing helps me deal with the stress, so be it. I could be abusing something far worse than words, you know.

Well yesterday, I had enough of my foul mouth and figured that an alternative had to exist somewhere. So I Googled, "word stronger than fuck" and found two absolutely appropriate (and yet not) categories of alternatives for me.
  1. Foreign language expletives. I'd thought of this alternative on my own, but the only language I know is French, and I don't remember it all that well. However, some of the curses provided at the site are phenomenal. The only problem is, I'll probably find myself laughing as I say, "Apedick!" or "I shit in the milk!" Just an FYI: the first expletive was taken from German (Affenschwanz) and the second from Spanish (me cago en la leche).   
  2. Combined expletives. Combine two of your favorite cuss words and get something like shfuck. According to Urban Dictionary, shfuck means, "To say shit and fuck in the same or one word. Not to be confused with the physical act of both words." (Thank goodness they clarified that definition, you know?)
Two good options, I think, but not great because part of the allure of a word comes in ease of use. The only way I won't laugh when using the first choice is if I learn to say them in their native languages. And the second option, while valuable, is still just a variant of fuck, right?

So I'm back to where I started in the first place. Fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

No Interest

I woke up to this the other day:



I think I'm the only one who would reply NO to such an invitation. Therefore, I have no plans to bother answering. (In the few minutes it took me to alter the screen shot, a couple more YES responses popped up. By the end of the day, most people tagged in the post had replied in the affirmative.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Solving Problems

Today I thought about cracking open an alcoholic beverage before noon. BEFORE NOON! I'm not a drinker, so you know what kind of day I'm having. But I don't feel like complaining, so I'm only going to say this:


Monday, June 22, 2015

This Moment

The clear moments of lucidity remind me of who she used to be. In those moments, she usually expresses her anger. Anger at us for being involved in her life at all. Anger for coming in and taking over. Anger at stating the obvious: there's a problem. Anger for pushing a condition into her face that can, on good days, force her to remember that she's in denial.

"I don't know why you have all this...stuff...that talks about memory loss," she'll say. She forgets that she printed the information out years ago, that she's been collecting stacks, possibly reams of articles, hoarding them in a box, away from friends and family. She's been aware of the problem for more time than we ever knew, it seems. It's a shame she never had the fortitude to see a doctor, get examined, allow someone to prescribe medicine. Perhaps then, where were are now would be someplace different.

But she didn't get any help and we aren't in a different place, and I ask myself now, where are we exactly? Over the last few weeks, she let me come in and do so many things: cook, laundry, medication, a few bills. She fought hard on the last task--I almost had to arm-wrestle her to let me write those checks. It took two minutes for me to do something it now takes her at least ten times that many minutes to do. Could she see how easy it was for me? Did she recognize a smidgen of defeat that day?

I thought so, at first, because after that battle, a few more arose, and I won each and every time. I cleared out a few files, and brought her to an appointment at the senior resource center. Sure the appointment came on the tail end of Dad's fall, as if his falling prompted medical professionals to evaluate any and all adults in the home. Yet years ago, she would have never gone with me to that appointment. She'd have dug her heels into the ground and refused to attend. She would have pulled out a snippy attitude when the nurse practitioner started to ask questions. Quite possibly, she would have gotten up and left the office once she realized why she was there.

She never got angry that morning. In fact, I remember telling my sisters that the word of that day was resignation. She was resigned, at least in those moments, to the fact that life had changed for her. She surrendered to me and what I asked of her. In her confused moments, that resignation bleats louder than the anger ever does. Louder than the anger ever did.

Which means right now, at this moment, we are on the precipice of something. A something that could be a diagnosis. A something that my sisters and me have been working towards for years. A something that we will never forget and yet, we might not remember, either. A something that keeps me hoping, keeps me loving, keeps me connected, keeps me writing. A something that will change our lives forever.

Photo from the Mayo Clinic, found here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hope

Here we are, almost one month into the kids' summer, and vacation hasn't really started. Sure, we've spent some time in the upper part of lower Michigan, but as for lazy summer days, we haven't really experienced those yet. For those of you who've been following the blog, you know the last month has been full of familial unrest. In short, we're trying to help my parents get to a good place, which probably involves moving them from a home that could be a deathtrap. But as older parents are wont to do, they're not listening to my sisters and me. It's amazing how well they are resisting us.

I'm not here to lament that situation. I've done enough complaining via text to my sisters. We've snorted and chuckled through the pain and agony of dealing with doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and any other medical professional we've come across. Some people have been a dream to work with, and others, well, let's just say that I'm not sure they have the patient in mind--at all. Do I think we're making progress with my parents? I have no idea. It's clear to me that they need to get out of that house. Dad could fall again, and Mom is in no way able to cook and clean like she used to. For that matter, Dad can't, either. And if you cannot nourish yourself properly--or remind yourself to take your medication--then you have no business living alone.

And that's where we are. I don't have any earth-shattering updates. I keep thinking I'll have my dad call me and tell me that he's cancelled the in-home health aide. "We don't need them!" he'll boom, confident in his abilities, perhaps forgetting that neither he nor Mom can drive. When I spoke to him today, he wasn't even sure what day it was. Which means, if he does try to cancel any help my sister has lined up, I'll need to head up again in a quick second.

Of course, you'll hear about that update, or any other one that might come down the pipe. I find that getting this crazy summer out onto paper (into cyberspace, really) is keeping me slightly more sane. And I still hold to the idea that if I do write out my experience, I can maybe keep history from repeating itself down the line.

One can hope, right?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Happy Place

Here's the view from dinner last night. That's the parking lot, by the way...


(Sorry for the screen grid. Doesn't make for the best picture, but I think you get my drift. Ha!)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bad Momma

Does anyone besides me remember these lovely candies?

A whole box full of them...

The box we bought.
And of course, I had to let my kids try these awful candy cigarettes. It didn't take long for any of them to get the right grip on the sugar stick. Seems like something every kid can do, no matter if they've seen someone smoking or not. I hope it's the only cigarette I ever see in these kids' mouths.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spoken Words

With all the kids getting up there in age (like 13 is old, right?), the words that come out of their mouths lack the innocence that they used to have. But yesterday, we heard something we haven't in a while.

"Mom," Melina said. "How old were you when electricity was discovered?"

Yeah. Leave it to the littlest in the house to remind me how old or not I might be. But I'm glad she said it, for it could be a while until we hear something like this again.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Positive Distractions

A year ago this week, a literary agent requested a partial manuscript from me. Obviously, the same literary agent did not go beyond the partial manuscript, or I'd most likely be talking about when my book would be published rather than if my book will ever be published. I remember the fluttering of my heart in my chest as I read the agent's emails and the devastation I felt when I learned that she did not want to represent me. I also remember thinking, that's okay. I'll find someone else. After all, it only takes one.

But a year has gone by, I haven't found an agent, and furthermore, any more querying for an agent is on hold. Which gets me thinking about the book (okay, let's be honest, books) I'd like to publish. When I'm back in the swing of things, should I pick up where I left off and continue to query? Or should I simply self-publish the damn stories and move on? I can't quite say at this point, but I'll at least think about the different possibilities in front of me. My hope is that thinking about my writing will lead to more writing, which will distract me from this drama-filled summer. I could use more positive distractions, I think.

Monday, June 15, 2015

One Instant

Forty-seven years today, he thinks, as he looks into her face. The same face he's seen almost every day since 1968, and yet, a face so unlike what he's used to. He always thought they'd see 50 years together.

And while he thinks this still may be the case--that he and she both might be alive three years down the road--he realizes that she might never remember the milestone. The day will pass like most others do now, with a simple celebration that lasts for just a moment, and then within an instant, is gone. The information is fleeting, diaphanous, ephemeral, much like the bubbles that she blows with her grandchildren. It never even makes it to the storage tank of her brain, which is overwhelmed and overstimulated, unable to make new memories and sometimes even unable to cull information she's known forever.

Will she even know me, he wonders, when we've made it to 50 years? It's a thought he chooses not to dwell on. Instead, he turns on the CD player, turns up the volume to "When I Fall in Love," and places one hand on his wife's back the other into her waiting hand. If he only has one instant, he plans on gathering up as many of them as he can.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

On Hold

I talked a little bit yesterday about putting my life on hold. The concept made me really think about all the things I've put on hold for the summer. I'm not trying to whine here, I'm just putting the whole situation into perspective. Because I won't be accomplishing much this summer, besides making sure my folks are okay. And that's all right. I hope my kids would do the same for me.

But here's the list of what I won't accomplish this summer:
  • Querying for After We've Fallen or Beyond the Trees
  • Finishing up Hunting for Lilacs
  • Critiquing for my writing group (I actually told them I'd likely be off for the summer)
  • Painting the girls' room or Melina's room
  • Cleaning out the basement
  • Weeding my landscaping
  • Setting up my class for the fall (we switched online capabilities and I need to upload files)
  • Traveling to see friends
  • Reading a book for book club (sorry, ladies, I'm out for at least the summer)
I could go on, but I don't want to focus on the negative. Because even though the crap has hit the fan, I should be able to find plenty of positive items that will come from this summer on hold as well. I guess I'll just keep those bits of loveliness for another post.

Carry on...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Taste of Their Own Medicine

The day of my dissertation defense, I was a mess. I felt under prepared and feared that the talk would not go well. I also knew--I just knew--that I'd answer every question from the audience incorrectly and that afterward, when my committee grilled me on everything and anything dystrophy-related, I'd cave and the committee members would see me for the sham that I was. I have no idea what the committee really thought of me. All I know is that, in the end, they decided I'd done enough to pass. I've said this before, but what I really think they wanted to do was just get me out of school. I had a ton of data and twin nine-month-old girls at home. Shoo-fly, they said. And I flew.

I think back to those days now because in order for me to even finish my degree, I had to move in with my parents for eight weeks. Yes, I moved back home for an eight-week span, during which time I'd furiously write behind a curtain so that the girls didn't think I was there. I'd pop my head into the kitchen from time to time to chat with them, or help them with lunch or snacks, and I'd be sure to put the girls to bed at night. But for much of that eight-week time frame, Mom took care of the girls. She, in effect, put her life on hold for eight weeks.

I wonder how long I'm willing to put my life on hold for my parents.

I already feel like I'm at the end of my rope. I'm starting to become grumpy and annoyed; I find myself rolling my eyes when I hear another refusal from Mom or Dad, a refusal that means they aren't listening to me and my sisters. I'm longing to escape for my vacation because then I won't have to listen to them grumble or tell me that they're happy and healthy just where they are. You might think you're happy, but the only reason you're even partly healthy is because I've put my life on hold. Because Gina and Tara have put their lives on hold. I've told them those exact words, by the way. And I didn't feel bad about it.

But I guess that's what we do with family. No matter how inconvenient it might be, we put our lives on hold when we have to. I don't mind putting off writing, painting, play dates for the kids--my children are, after all, getting more cousin time than they've had in years. But I have to consider that because of my age and stage in life, I'm not just putting my life on hold. I'm putting four children and a husband into a holding tank as well. How fair is that to them?

Fair or not, I also have to ask if what we're doing--helping my parents get back to good health (in the case of Dad) and trying to get Mom to understand she needs help--will serve them well in the future. Each time they fall, literally or figuratively, should we rush to help them? Should we let them sink or swim, as they used to say to us? Maybe it's time to pull out the tough love and walk away--another tactic my parents often used. Maybe it's time to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Letter to Dad, II

Dear Dad,

I wrote to you at the end of last month--May 26 to be exact--and here we are, only 15 days later, and I find myself writing to you again. I'm amazed by how swiftly two weeks have gone by and how quickly you have come around. You've gone from lying in bed with weak legs and a droopy eye to walking around--some days with assistance, and others, not--and watching the grand kids play. As I've told you so many times, I knew you'd recover, but you wouldn't have done so, without your daughters. When we rushed in, you received 24/7 care unlike what you'd find anywhere. With every medication dosage, every bite of food, every time we steadied your elbow, and yes--every time we prayed for poop--we brought love with us. All three of us essentially put our lives on hold to come to your aid, because we knew Mom could not handle you alone. And while you might have some ways to go, I'm confident that physically, you will find good health again.

But I'm worried about you anyway. You see the changes in Mom. You know she can't understand everything that is going on around her, and the stress of seeing you physically sick has caused irreparable harm to her. She's not the same. She's not the strong-willed, feisty, stubborn, woman you married. She's more willing to hear me, instead of fight with me, and she's open to my suggestions, at least until she forgets them. She would never let me tell her what to do before, and therefore, I think you need to think about her when you think about what to do next. Because as I've said before, the writing is on the wall. The both of you need to start the next chapter in your life.

Yes, Dad, I know these past few days and weeks have been arduous. I see the tears in your eyes, the frustration on your face, the way you try to hold onto the past with a tight grip. And since I'm not in your shoes, it is easy for me to say this: you must look at life and this next chapter as an adventure. So far, you've weathered the ups and downs of the last 79 years with great grace, and I have no doubt you have the fortitude to do the same with the next decade or more that you might have. The time won't be easy, but with the right attitude, you can find the moments of laughter amongst the pain, and the moments of great joy buried deep within the sadness. Focus on the positive, keep your chin up, and remember that your daughters--the independent and too liberal fruit of your loins--are backing you every step of the way. We're here for you, we're here for Mom. And if we're not with you physically, we're only a phone call away.

I love you.

Love,
C.



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ready

All day long I use words
to express myself.
In my teaching.
With my kids.
In my writing and in editing.
I take for granted
those words will be there,
always within my reach.
And yet, today, I find that I'm speechless.
Tongue-tied.
Inarticulate.
Unable to utter anything other than profanities.
I'm not sure how to find the words to say what I need to say.
Maybe they aren't ready.
Maybe I'm not ready.
I'm not sure I ever will be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Stay Tuned

I think that June 9, 2015, will go down as one of the most memorable days I've had in my lifetime. But I'm too tired to tell you why. Just know that someday, probably soon, I'll sit down and catalog my day today. Until then...

Monday, June 8, 2015

House vs Home

What can I say about June 8? I'd love to be smiling, but I suspect the stress and strain is showing on my face. I can only hope that all will be over soon. I dream of the days when I can go to Walloon Lake and sit back with a warm cup of tea in my hand. I'm grateful for my family; I'm glad that I can help them. But I'm also going to be completely at peace when I am out of this house. I don't mind visiting, but this isn't my home anymore. That's a sentiment that is very clear to me right now.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Temporary

Each morning these days, I creep out of bed and poke my head into my parents' room. I hope that they're still asleep. Dad needs as much rest as he can get, and I need some peace and quiet. The television is always on inside the house, and the noise is irritating me at my very core. I'm reminded of my grandparents house, the 1950s ranch with the oval Formica kitchen table and the antenna television. I remember the noise then, I hear the noise now, and I crave those temporary moments (that are few and far between here) when the only sounds are the hum of the refrigerator and the chirp of the early bird. It's the only time I find myself "at home" so to speak.

That says something, I think. That even when I'm at home, I'm not really at home. Because my home is no longer here, and to be truthful, it never was.

I only spent four years in this house and that was four years too long, in my opinion. Of course, those years were full of normal teenage angst, some of which was probably only perceived by me. But this town, this house, this neighborhood...they've been old for years. Old, downtrodden, and depressing. And as I sit here during the day with my kids and their cousins, I realize that we've infused life into the place, but probably only temporarily.

Temporary is the word of the day around here, it seems. Temporary happiness. Temporary memories. Temporary visits. If I think too much about that word, I might get weepy. So instead, I'll focus on something else, like the fact that we just celebrated my niece's third birthday and that the cousins were able to be with one another for more days than they ever expected. Because thankfully, as much trouble as the individuals can be, this family is not temporary.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Praying for Poop

Sometimes, in the midst of utter chaos and devastation, you find moments of lightheartedness. Early last night, I poked my head into my parents' room. My dad was in the bathroom; Mom hovered nearby, in case Dad needed help.
Me: How's it going?
Mom: All right.
Me: Has he done anything?
Dad: A little. About an inch.
Me: Great! I'd love to have that poop party tomorrow, Dad.
Dad: Me, too.
Me: Okay, well I heard movement [from the walker] from downstairs, so I came up to check.
Dad: Ha. Movement.
Me: You got that, eh? I bet you didn't know I was that funny.
My dad claims that he hasn't had a bowel movement in just about a week, and now every dinner table conversation we have revolves around defecation. I find this fact especially interesting considering any talk of feces at the dinner table when we were kids was verboten. And now, here we sit, cracking jokes left and right.

Just so you know, we've tried fresh fruit, scads of prunes, Colase, Miralax, and glycerin suppositories. But the man is on so many medications, and his ability to move is limited. Constipation, quite frankly, is not surprising. But if he doesn't have a bowel movement by tomorrow at noon, we're to call the doctor. And if he does move those bowels? Well, I'm throwing that poop party. So in the meantime, we're praying for poop.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Not Knowing

It's 6:55 p.m. and the house is closed. The front porch light is already on and she's shut the curtains in the kitchen window. Her arms extend to draw the drapes covering the sliding glass doors. "Can you leave that open, please?" I ask, so that I can see what I'm doing by the wonderful almost-summer light. The days are longer and I like to revel in that fact. She used to be the same way.

And I think to myself, how many years do I have left? How many years do I have to recognize my children and remember that I love strawberries and pineapple? How long will I be able to run, and cook, and write, and read? Will I be 70 and already to the point that she is: turning in for the night early, falling asleep to the chatter of the television, waking up the next day to repeat everything all over again. And when I say repeat, you know exactly what I mean: the constant wandering and spinning of wheels such that each day flows into the next and the next.

How long, I ask? I'm not sure. I think not knowing is what scares me the most. Then again, ignorance might very well be bliss.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chasing Time

I sit here at the computer, watching her. I don't let her know that I'm doing it. I surreptitiously flick my eyes up and back when her body is turned away from me. And, I rely on my peripheral vision to show me what she is doing. I watch as she moves to the calendar, checks the date and the appointments, and then moves again toward the refrigerator. She pulls on the door handle, roots around on the food-laden shelves, and shuts the door. Her hand is empty. Neither of us know what she wanted to get, and whether or not she will remember is anyone's guess.

Hours later, I witness similar actions when she studies the checkbook. Her eyes dance from the cable bill that sits unpaid on the counter and then to the tax bills I helped her pay last week. She picks up the tax papers, reads and rereads the information, opens the check book, and grips the pen in her hand. With an almost imperceptible shake of her head, she stops. She looks at me. She smiles and goes back to the calendar. The one she checked bright and early in the morning. The one she'll look at every 40 minutes or so. The one that tells her what day and month and year it is. But then, it's time for the refrigerator again.

It makes sense to me that she always claims to have "so many things to do," because nothing she begins ever gets finished, and most things never even get started. She is frazzled, flabbergasted, and overwhelmed by her inability, and thus far, she's trying so hard to not give in. She continues to grapple with making herself understood. She holds up the object so you know what she is talking about, and looks to me for help when she cannot explain what she wants to say. She says, "Don't think I'm crazy, but sometimes, I find things moved and I think that someone must have gotten into the house."

I could cry if I let myself. And don't get me wrong, I have cried. When I'm on the road after a long day of helping her, or when I'm so tired I can no longer see the woman she once was, the tears well up behind my eyelids. But usually, I am completely intrigued by this dance she performs throughout the day. She sends herself on a wild goose chase and continually comes up empty. All day, wandering from place to place, she is chasing something. She chases memories, chases dreams. Chasing time, really, and all the seconds that pass by in the blink of an eye. Seconds are all she has left to remember.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Kitty Cuteness, IV

If you follow this blog, you KNOW how necessary these pictures are this week.



I missed these fellows, although not as much as the kids.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Silver Lining

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wanted to be a physician. I never quite got to that point in my life. Somehow, my plans were derailed. And while I thought very briefly (maybe 1 nanosecond) about being a nurse, I went ahead to graduate school instead. So my bedside manner is nonexistent, you know?

Yet here I find myself, acting as nurse, health aide, social worker, all around caregiver, and pharmacy technician. I've helped prepare meals, write checks, chauffeur people, buy groceries, and make appointments. I haven't wiped any bums, but I'd be willing to do so, and last night, I held Dad's head while he almost vomited into the garbage. I also waited to go to bed so I could wake up him up, help him with his meds, and see what else he needed for comfort. I'll be coaching both of my parents this morning on whatever information the visiting nurse leaves with us.

I'm tired. I'm slightly crabby. I've indulged in more alcohol than I have ever had in my life (which isn't saying much), but I can't complain because I just spent a weekend doing things I haven't done in years. Eating dinner at a table with just my sisters, my parents, and me. Laughing at my Dad's lengthy prayer (warn me next time, won't you?). Watching a movie with my two sisters on a love seat meant only for two. Sleeping in the same room and giggling until we fell asleep.

A great weekend spent with some of the most influential people in my life and two of the best friends I'll ever have. A little silver lining in my most recent cloud.