Dear Dear Diary
I think about posting much more often than I actually post. Sometimes I wonder if this is healthy. I have written long rambles through my brain, while driving, or just before I drift off to sleep, but that's not quite the same as sitting in front of the computer and typing an entry.
Worse is half writing an entry, and then thinking, nobody wants to read that and deleting it. Maybe it's worse, maybe it isn't. But I like to have a a cohesive entry rather than ooo look - I picked my nose today. Wanna see my collection of boogeys?
Sassy has a serious sore around one of her eyeballs and is draining pus. Because, you know, once you've mentioned boogeys, why not mention pus? And/or poo? I am concerned. The doc reassured me that her eye is in no danger. But her looks on the other hand.. Bewteen the morbid obesity and the serious dandruff and the bloody chunk above the eye and the pus coming out, that's one attractive little furball. But I love her, and I'll do what I can to fix her up right. This is not a life threatening condition- it's just her charisma is dropping fast. The fungal cultures come back on Friday if she has Ringworm and gets fungicide with her antibiotics. Yum-yum. The wound on her face makes her harder to pill- you almost have to put a hand on the Ick to get a good grip. Poor Jazz. Poor Sassy.
I don't want to lose another one. I don't want to see how much I can bear, really.
A short scene:
Jazz plays Darts.
In the front hall, we have a dart board.
The newest cat, Tom, loves to hunt.
He has found that Jazz must be throwing "birds." The movement is very attractive.
Therefore, the best sport is watching the Darts.
Ideally, as close as possible to the action.
Jazz has learned Tom also likes the Evil Red Dot of Doom.
(i.e. laser light pointer thingie).
To play darts safely without injuring the cat, he must maneuver the Dot until Tom chases it into the living room. Then Jazz has enough time to throw his 3 darts.
Then, when Jazz goes to retrieve the darts, it looks to Tom that he's going into the Kitchen! He must be followed into the Kitchen! There may be food!
Cat follows Jazz back into the front hall to sit near the kitchen door to watch as Jazz readies to throw another round of Darts. Notices Tom is sitting too close for safety.
This slows his practicing considerably, but adds to my amusement.
I am surprised by fragility.
I went to visit friends for a meeting and their dog was so happy to see me he peed on my shoe. This is always better than leg humping, so I didn't mind terribly. Then the Wife came home smelling of Body Spray, and it's exactly the wrong scent, annoyingly called "Pear" and I cannot breathe in the house for at least 15 minutes. More friends arrive and we companionably chat outside. I talk about my grandmother again, and I wonder when people are going to get sick of hearing about her, because I am sick of talking about how she died and of course I miss her but really that's none of your damn business and you don't have to be sorry because it's not your fault. And I cannot say that, or they really think I've lost it. I know people mean well, but it's so hard to let anyone see and I don't want to show.
I'm fine when I am busy. Isn't everyone? Don't breathe keep the nose down keep moving keep going and everything will be okay as long as everything gets done. It's when you run out of things to do that you don't know what to do and you can finally let go just a little bit.
Pepe was on my lap tonight. Another white and something purring soft, and tickling me with his tail. Then Spider muscled in and purred in my chin, and all I could think about was Colin. I have found so many new things about Gram, but not one new of Colin. Dammit I hate crying.
The only time mom came close to being truly angry is when I suggested tucking a pack of Gram's favorite smokes in the casket with her. Makes sense to me. When someone spends more than 70 years with the things, obviously it's something they love, and I don't mind tucking in things they love. I came very close to tucking in some cards, but could not decide which type of deck. Do you put in a pinochle deck, or a bridge deck? Large print version or smaller, hoping that her eyes are better where ever? IS the wrong deck insulting, or do you tuck in one of each? Just in case? And do you draw the line at including poker chips or M&Ms for markers, because while she never played for money, she certainly kept track of who won. In the end, we didn't tuck anything in with her, not even pics of her children and grandchildren, an action which *Gram* would have approved, as she was always very pragmatic. Dead is dead, she believed, and sentimental nonsense was just that- nonsense.
For my other grandmother, Meme, having a kleenex tucked into her sleeve was important. I took a kleenex and gathered tears of my aunt and mother and me, and tucked it into her sleeve. That way she was prepared. It's like a hitchhiker knowing where his towel is. That kleenex was ready for anything.
Lately I've been seeing odd movements out of the corner of my eyes. I have been doing this to a certain extent all of my life. But I did not enjoy watching the corpse twitch. I found it very unnerving. She would smile when someone told a joke or wave her nosegay with impatience. Maybe I was just wishing for these things.
Going through her house was so similar to all the times when I had been to visit before. She was always in another room and I was allowed to explore, provided I didn't go into drawers and closets. This time I was even allowed to go into the attic. Gram was rather organized, I think. Her loves were obvious. Her knicknacks were few for a woman of her age, but they were well chosen for whimsy and reminding her of things. Glass boots, Hummels, and Dutch windmills. The cloth dolls that she made were boxed and priced. The dolls she bought naked and clothed were also neatly stacked in her sun room. I picked out a doll in an outrageous crocheted dress she had made, for the modest $2.00 written with an unsteady hand. I got a few of her cloth dolls, but upstairs in the "girls room" I found her fabric stash and her box of cloth doll patterns. So now I know where she got them from. There are envelopes of traced out paper patterns with a lot of pin holes. In the attic were three bags of lace. I didn't take it all, but I admit I wanted to. I just knew I wasn't going to use it all, so I should not take it all. Even if Uncle Bob wanted to toss what I didn't take.
I found boxes of recipes. I found a "Modern Housekeeping Encyclopedia" published in 1949. I pulled out of the kitchen the purple desert/cereal bowls. The one time I slept over, I had breakfast in one. Every time we had dinner cooked by Gram, we had ice cream in the bowls with our pie or cake. Gram didn't serve one dessert -- everything was ala mode. I pulled out the casserole dish that the horrible jellow came in. It was, I think, apple or clear aspic with celery and nuts, and it was awful. But Dead Bird Day wasn't complete if Gram was there without this horror on the table, just like a ring mold of Mom's lime jello with cottage cheese and pineapple. I have the dish to remind me, but I don't feel oblidged to use it for that. I'm sure I'll find something that will fit the dish. Maybe my meatloaf, so I stop ruining metal bread pans with the cutting knife.
I grabbed the parrot that dangled off the pull of the light on the stairs- the light is at the top of the stairs, but the string reaches all the way to the first floor, dangling the wooden parrot. While I don't have a good spot to dangle the parrot, like the wooden duck from Meme, I'll keep in my kitchen to remind me. I haven't hung the wooden thingie that pictures two dutch children and a slogan requesting to leave a message, and when opened stores pencil and paper. I evicted the spiders, but it still needs a cleaning. I'll put it in the mudroom, I think. My brother and I used to leave Gram and Grandpa Walt love notes. I don't expect any in it, but that memory is important to me. Just like the cowbells on the back door. I haven't hung the bells on my own door yet, but I remember them jangling every time we went over. No one was sneaking into Gram's with those bells!
I also found an old quilt. No clue who started it, but I could tell Gram had used it and repaired it. I took it, so I could also try repairing it with pieces of her stash. My brother wanted the sewing machine cabinet, because he thinks his wife's sewing machine will go into it. I don't think so. But I'm willing to take that machine and its accessories to complete its partner, since I have a matching sewing machine from my other gram. They are both roughly 1949 Wards sewing machines. Iron monsters, and durable.
But the best thing was finding the photo album of Gram's grandparents and their relations. She identified who she could. Apparently these people also lived in the area and ran a bakery, and that's where our Dutch Letter recipe came from. One of these days, perhaps soon, I'll make some.
I no longer really feel like I lost my gram. I found her. I gathered more memories and learned more about her and her family than I had known. I never knew she was the oldest of five, and that Dorothy died before the age of 4 because she was born without a rectum. I'd heard of Koenerd and John and Dick, but I didn't know they were her bothers, or that Dick was still alive and in the area. I got to see him and talk to him, and he certainly has the charm and pragmatism of our family. I didn't know Gram wasn't blonde. She was born blonde with hair that naturally darkened, like mine did. And she got her piercing blue eyes from her grandmother.
I feel rather blessed in knowing her so well and in her very gentle departure. I should be so lucky, really.
Good bye Gram.
At 1:30 p.m., she passed over, holding onto Mum's hand. I don't know if she'll recognize a certain grey and white cat, but she did know him for a while.
OT/OOC - Found elsewhere, but it was a comfort to me. So I'm sharing it.
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.
He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir," the man answered.
"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right in , and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
"Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveler asked.
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.
"Excuse me!" he called to the man. "Do you have any water?"
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in."
"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump."
They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. "What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.
"This is Heaven," he answered.
"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."
"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell."
"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?"
"No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind."
I'm looking forward to walking with you, Colin, Rags, Beauford, Princess, Stasia, and Rascal, and all the others I have loved along the way.
Insomnia sucks. I am so tired, and my eyes hurt, but when I lay down, I can't chut the brain off and fall asleep. Grumble.
I am worried, and I'm good at being worried. Too good. But what really worries me is that in the distance outside, I keep hearing dogs barking to be let in really faintly. And my dog is upstairs asleep. I just end up worrying about the dogs.
Maybe now that I've mentioned it, they'll stop. Maybe.
More on Gram.
This time last evening, I got to speak to my Da. It's not that I don't like and respect my father - I do that. I just don't get to talk to him all that often as I would like. Kind of like talking with Gram, really, except she has never been one to talk on the phone or write back. My usual conversations with Da are done over email, and sometimes this is more comfortable.
I repeated my offer to him to skip out on one of my employers and take the other one with me to visit, and was told clearly that they felt I would likely be more hinderence than help. I talked about this with my beloved, and he asutely stated that they are likely shutting me out of it. Umm, yeah. But I understand this.
When her husband, Granpa Walt died, or more clearly, when he was spending his last few weeks in the hospital, Mom did make the effort to go see him and help Gram, but Gram protected her from seeing Walt wasted away and frankly looking terrible. When she dodged Gram's precautions, she always regretted that. It was that image she took away with her, and not saying good bye to him or anything else she felt she needed to say. And this is what she thinks she wants to save me from. I don't have to like it. But I understand it.
Gram was never robust for the last 20 years. She's always been skinny, but dang, she's scrawny now. I admit, I don't really want to see her whacked on morphia and barely knowing who I am. But if my presence was at all remotely helpful, I'd be there. Yesterday. Or even last week. I did get to see her Kissmoose week, as I said. I never had heartburnings of what to say to her like I did with Meme, and I managed to say thank you to her before she passed over. I don't have to say anything to Gram. She already knows, if it was important. And if it wasn't, it certainly doesn't matter now.
I think the only scene that plays in my mind about Gram where I had to swallow my words was the time I took my neice Suzi to see her. Suzi was about 5. She was a very charming 5, and kept us both very entertained through the visit as only a small polite child can manage. I must mention that Suzi was a surprise to my parents, as her mother was unwed when she announced her pregnancy. (Got a fair amount of respect for my sister for sticking to her guns about that, I do). Gram surprised me at being a stickler for appearances. But she told me in an aside during this visit, that she was in fact pleased that no one did what she had urged, and either give up the child or abort it, and that she had the chance to meet this charming girl. This is still disturbing to me, in all that I knew she meant well. I don't think I could say anything civil at all for several minutes, so I just held my tongue. And now-- there's no point in talking about it at all. She won't even remember the moment now.
My other favorite memories mainly involve poking into her garage sale, which I may get to do one last time, poking around in the bedrooms upstairs and playing in the lawn outside. She wasn't there in most of these memories, but they have her shape, as they would not happen elsewhere. I did not actively seek my gram when I was little. She smelled too much of cigarettes to appeal to me, and she kept detached where she could observe, and not actually interact.
So perhaps it's fitting that I am more observing than interacting with her directly, here at the end. I spent a lot of my youth taking care of my mother. Is it wrong of me to be more focused on this old habit of taking care of her? I cannot think that wrong. Either way, there is already a Gram-shaped hole in my existence, and it's just a matter of figuring out the schedule. Uncle Bob (mum's younger brother)is on his way from Florida. He may arrive tomorrow. He may arrive in time. He will not care if he does or not.
In case this year hasn't started out crappy enough, my gram is likely dying. Sure, I should look at the number 92 and be happy. I don't remember her ever looking young, and she doesn't look any older than she used to. I always remember her as a mass of wrinkles and white hair, coke-bottle glasses on her blue eyes, and bent over too much, and skinnier than any human ought to be. I remember curling up on her lap at the wise age of 10 and asked her why she smoked. Didn't she love me and want to watch me grow up? She laughed. She said that she knew it was bad for her, but she wasn't ready to stop. It was indeed a very bad habit to get into, and that I better not start. She then told me stories about how the attitude towards cigarettes used to be different. In her college, they piled big bowls of cigarettes in the cafeteria and offered them for free. Much later, she told me about how she used to clean for a woman whose daughter offered her a companionable smoke in the kitchen often enough to get her hooked. This of course got her sacked for teaching the daughter how to smoke and getting *her* hooked.
And if you spoke with her now about smoking, she'd tell you if she was in the mood to be honest that she was still addicted. She'll buy a pack once a month or so, turn off the oxygen and have a smoke. Some how, I don't think they'll let her have one now in the hospital. And in the nursing facility, the alarm goes off if she stepped outside, and heaven forbid you light up indoors. She'll bitch about it if you let her. But of course, my mum firmly believes that she's gave up smoking years ago. Yeah, right.
However, lung cancer is not her problem. Nope, Gram has felt a general weakness for the past month or so. She fell in the wee hours the Friday before kissmoose and wasn't found until the next afternoon. And then she complained of not being able to pee or poop. And she felt nausea at the thought of food. It's how much later, and she still can't pee or poo, giving the lie to the book, "Everybody Poops." She's been admitted to the hospital when she spiked a temperature over 104. The docs are talking surgery, but Gram is refusing that. She doesn't mind the catheter because it relieves the pressure. But these enemas are awful. My poor mother was never comfortable with scatalogical references, so she's being overwhelmed. That and she works for H&R Block, and her working season is upon her. We shall see how it goes for her. I am calling home regularly to get more info and try to be supportive.
My terrible mind is twisting and wanting to write a horrible bit of Drivel about "Gam can't Poo." Unfortunately there really shouldn't be anything that funny about it.
I admit she's not the favorite grandmother- I look like my other grandmother, Meme. But Gram has always had a certain pragmatic streak I've admired. She's done a lot of things just because they needed to be done. She doesn't complain. I know she had it rough. But she'll just shrug. It's what she had to do. She got it done. And I think that's the main reason she doesn't want surgery that may or may not be helpful. She knows mom will dig in her heels and object to Gram going back to her house and living alone. And That's what Gram wants, most of all. If she can't have that, fuck it.
I still have to admire that. I've always had a lot of respect for her.
The hard part is keeping mom sane. But I'm used to that too. I think I'd better mail her some more hot chocolate.
When I first moved out on my own, I got two kittens, from a friend's barn. I called them Rascal and Stasia. They were rambunctious, but I could tell something was wrong with Stasia's health. I took them to the vet, and they were diagnosed with feline leukemia. I was, naturally, devastated. I had to have them put down. Now, I know that Rascal could have kept living with proper medication and lifestyle choices, but I didn't know that then- Stasia was blind and had serious symptoms, Rascal was minor.
My parents were trying to be helpful, because my dad loves animals too. He found someone at the Air Force base where he worked who was moving to California. They had two cats, George and Colin, named after the movers and shakers of the first Persian Gulf war, only George was the long-haired black one, and Colin was short-haired grey and white. I didn't want anything to do with having an animal. I moved to an apartment that would not let me have pets. Da had already committed to them, and took them into his home. Da rather enjoyed sitting on his easy chair in an evening with Colin tucked on one side and George on the other. Then I started volunteering at the Humane Society. I met a wonderful man and his three cats, Spider, Sassy, and Rags. Eventually, I couldn't resist, and we all co-habitated. We brought home Kenya and Beauford, a couple of dogs.
That's about when Mom started complaining about cats. Allergies. And Litterboxes. And Dad being away from home on work trips so she had to take care of them. And the trips to camp (involving long car ride and long boat ride, and both cats *hated* it). So she took the cats to a humane society and dumped them. I, I was informed later, had enough animals already and did not need them too. But that humane society called *our* humane society, and immediately I went over and rescued them. So they came to live with us and our zoo. Over the years, old age took Rags and Beauford. George died probably from a heart attack- it was very sudden and unexpected, and he was only 7 or so.
But I need to talk about the quilt. You see, my favorite thing is napping with cats. They don't sleep in our bedroom, only the dog is allowed there. So we have extra blankets in the living room just for the purpose of snuggling. While Jazz has a couple that he has declared special for him, and I have knitted afghans for the back of the couches, I didn't really have a blanket for me. I decided to make a flannel rag quilt- I found rubber duckys, and froggies on blue and purple, and a purple and green plaid, and any other flannel that sortakindamaybe matched, and played with the fabric. As always Pepe had to supervise, and Colin comes and lays on any fabric laid out on the kitchen floor. He liked to lay on one corner to weigh it down for me. When it was finished, I had my own blanket, and the cats liked to sleep with it, even if I wasn't under it.
I can't tell you how many naps I had with my blanket where Colin would come and lay on my chest, putting one forepaw on each of my shoulders, and then just rest his face against mine, and purr me to sleep. This is always the most restful sleep I ever have. Even if a whisker is slightly tickling me- oh I just ignore that. Because if I moved too much, he got up and slept next to me instead, and somehow, that just wasn't as nice as being hugged and purred at.
When Colin got sick, I did bundle him up in the blanket and just hold him that way for hours so he could sleep better. When he went to the hospital for his last few days in intensive care, that quilt went with him. Sure, I have other blankets the cats can sleep on, including at least one more flannel. But they weren't the ones that smelled like "momma." When we brought him home, I washed and dried it, so it wouldn't smell like "hospital" and bundled him up it again. And those were probably the only moments when he wasn't crying or laying in his litter box. So today, we took him back to the vet for a very short visit. And he's still bundled in that quilt, and now lying in our back yard, instead of my lap.
I can always make another quilt. And it will always have cats on it (regardless of in the pattern or no!). But I know I won't have another cat like Colin.
Thank you all for your good thoughts. I deeply appreciate them.
Colin is currently hiding under my desk. He doesn't want lap. He doesn't want cuddling.
When the vet is crying as she tells you there's nothing else she can do, you know it's not going to be long.
We're cancelling dinner reservations. I certainly don't feel like a nice dinner out. We can do that some other time when we are more in the mood for it.
The latest on Colin:
I got to hold him for a while and listen to his purr. And listen to him swear at the vet tech for taking him back into his cell for the fluids. I dropped off my couch blanket which we share my naps, his face rubbing on mine, one paw on each side of the neck.
Damn, I hope this works.
I've always wanted to be a dictective. I grew up with Magnum PI, Max Hammer, and Spencer for Hire. I wanted to be in the rough and tumble underworld and do detective work with my fists. I majored in pre-Law in college, so I could figure out how far I could push things and not get my butt sued. I even did a short intern program with the cops so I could see how they work, and confirmed for myself that I didn't want to do the boring paperwork that being a cop entailed. I was so proud that I was able to borrow investment money from my folks to get that gold-lettered door on my office that proclaimed me as private dick.
Too bad that I never realized how much paperwork was involved in being a detective! I had yet to have a single attractive dame walk into my joint and plead with huge eyes about how she was in trouble and needed my help. Instead, it was always older women or men who were already married and wanted me to tail their spouse and catch them in the act of breaking marital vows. Once even, I had an older gent try to hire me to seduce his younger bride, but she was so hideous I could not bring myself to do it. It's boring playing peeping Tom, and I've managed to get arrested twice. This is nothing like the movies, and frankly, I'm disappointed.
This case that I am working on today is a little different. It's a missing person case, so the first thing I do is go down to the County Clerk's office and try to find out birth-death-marriage records to see all the possible names the young woman in question could have had. Sometimes this opens the case immediately- the new name is listed in the phone book, and I can just offer the phone number to the client.
When I went to the office, what alarmed me was bumping into my Aunt Millie. She was clutching a notebook and some photocopies and looking as flustered as usual. She almost dropped her bundle when she recognized me. I managed to see one name- Anna Tarkington- before she pushed passed me, and bustled out of there. She didn't stop for questions, or even to respond to her name. But I really wanted to know why she had the name I was looking for on the top of her pile of papers. I would have to find that out before satisfying my client.
Colin hasn't eaten for at least 3 days. We have tried force feeding nutrient/calorie rich goop, but he doesn't like that, and I don't like the idea of force-feeding. Too many flashbacks of thinking of the suffragettes who died in prison because of being forcefed. Think about them the next time any opportunity to vote presents itself.
He is lying next to me, as always. His eyes aren't completely closed in sleep. He's more staring off into the middle distance, and not really noticing movement around him. He has been very snuggly this weekend, which has been nice. Personally, I have a terrible cold and very little voice. So any excuse to lie on the couch with Colin snuggled into an armpit is welcome.
We've tried everything we can think of, liver squeezy cheese, limburger cheese, tuna juice, sardines, kitty treats of several varieties, tomato soup, lasagna, and lots and lots of wet food. No dice. He sees the vet in less than half an hour.
I have the terrible feeling we're going to have to let go. I don't want to. But then, who ever wants to? Even if he gets fluids again today, which is likely, if he continues to not eat, he may not last a week. But I don't want to put him down while he'll still cuddle and purr.