Sunday, June 29, 2008

"Tell her that I love her." Huh?

While I was in Seattle almost two weeks ago, Jerilyn left a message on the machine at home, reporting an excellent visit she had with my mother at the nursing home. I called Jerilyn back last Monday - so, six days ago - and she reiterated how different my mom had seemed from the woman she usually saw. They had a really good conversation, and my mom said some really perceptive, amusing things. She was wearing a cute shirt, and was more alert overall than usual. She's been eating better, taking her meds. Jerilyn said that she only cried when she talked about my brother not coming to visit her - as Jerilyn called it, "appropriately sad," rather than continuous weeping for any reason or maybe none at all. They discussed possible reasons why he still had not come, agreeing at least part of it was simply avoidance / denial - much the way he drinks so as not to have to deal with or think about things that bother him.

In the days since I talked with Jerilyn, I've called the nursing home a couple times, and also talked to my grandmother last Wednesday evening - the same day she'd visited my mom, lucky coincidence. The nurses have confirmed that the improvements in eating and mood have continued these past few weeks, and my grandmother also reported having a good visit with her, the only drop in her mood, again, when they talked about my brother not visiting. She's by no means active - she still sleeps a lot, and doesn't go to the day room for meals - but for no reason we can clearly identify, she continues to be markedly better in recent weeks than she had been for MONTHS before.

It only occurred to me recently that, as she's doing better and is no longer on MRSA precautions (FINALLY), I could try to talk with her on the phone. She has no phone in her room, so this requires a nurse or aide to bring her out in her wheelchair to the nurses' station to talk with me. I called this afternoon to try to speak with her, and the nurse said, "She's in bed, but I'll ask her if she'd like to come and talk to you." I waited a minute, listening to the same on-hold music that Wedgemere has been playing for years, and then the nurse came back. "She said she doesn't want to come to the phone, but she said to tell you that she loves you."

I thought, "Huh?" And then I said, "Wow, she said that?" "Yes." "Wow, she doesn't say that too often." I stopped before saying, I don't remember her ever saying that to me unless I'd just said it to her first. After verifying with the nurse that the improvements have continued, I said, "Please just give her my love, too," and thanked her.

So that is the latest news about my mom. Part of me is really glad, relieved, that the positive turn of a few weeks ago has continued. Part of me is wondering, "Who is this person and what has she done with my mother?" But I push the question aside, and remain thankful that she's been so much better these past few weeks. However long it lasts, relative contentment is a blessing for her, and knowing she's not suffering as greatly as she did in the winter and spring, makes me feel blessed, too. As she herself would say, "We take what we can get."

Monday, June 23, 2008

The 36 hour day

Last Wednesday, June 18, I woke up at 7am Pacific Time, in Seattle. My SLA activities started a bit late; I'd decided not to attend a morning session, and instead, I had a leisurely breakfast in one of the hotel's restaurants, then took a bus to the Seattle Public Library. After looking around and taking a few pictures - though I forgot to get any of the outside, as I was trying hard not to miss the bus - I got back to the Convention Center in time to have a sandwich and attend a 1215pm session.

After exchanging a couple of voice messages with my taxi-share person, a woman named Alexa who was (like me) taking a late flight out of Seattle/Tacoma, I met her outside the big rooms where they were having the closing general session. I also ran into a new acquaintance named Jennifer, so the three of us sat together. Alexa and I stayed about an hour and fifteen minutes, then decided to leave.

We ended up heading for the water, and taking a one hour harbor tour, which turned out to be really neat. (Yes, although it WAS a bit chilly, I'm glad Alexa talked me into going.) We then had dinner at Ivar's, and I ordered halibut, which was very good. I'm glad Aunt Anne made that when I was visiting in April, so I've added it to my "list of safe things to order in real restaurants." After dinner, we hoofed it back to the hotel to meet the car and head to the airport. (I NEED to add that I had left my suitcase at the hotel that morning after checking out, but carried my laptop case, stuffed with papers and things I'd collected, around all day. At times it felt a little like weightlifting, even more so when I was walking uphill or climbing stairs.)

All in all, in spite of my heavy laptop, Wednesday was good. At the airport, Alexa and I sat together for about another hour and a half, had some coffee, and I worked on my laptop a little bit while she did some writing. My flight was scheduled to leave at 1140pm, but was already delayed to 1210am when I got to the airport, so I knew I would need some caffeine to keep me going. Alexa and I headed to our separate gates by about 1030pm, as she was leaving around 11. She told me to "say hi to Jeff - I feel like I know him!"

And then, the waiting. I don't remember now how long that delay ended up being, if it was 1220am or even later. I do know that when I tried to transfer in Dallas, I went to the wrong gate, and though it was only JUST THEN time for my flight to leave (about 625am Central Time - two hours later than Seattle time), the woman at the gate I'd gone to quickly checked and said, "That flight is gone." She said they'd already scheduled me for the next one, due to leave at 835am. The other thing I know is that I hadn't slept on that first flight, so had been awake over 20 hours. (I slept on my first flight to Arizona in January 1996, some of the time between Boston and Chicago. That's the only time I remember definitely sleeping on a plane.)

The flight out of Seattle was late coming back from Dallas because it had encountered bad weather. That's the same reason my 835am flight didn't get out of Dallas till somewhere around 1030am. (But that flight I missed - why of course that one got out exactly on time! Dammit to hell.) I made calls to Jeff, and sent him text messages to update him when our calls got cut off - and when I actually had news to share; because of the storms, they couldn't give us good guesses about when we'd get the hell out of there. Jeff had planned to be late to work, but in the end he took the whole day off. He had the boys with him, and they tried to pass time as best they could - hanging out at the Legends mall, though none of the stores were open; the boys had a good time just running wild all around the place.

I was so happy to land, and to find that Jeff had brought a blanket and pillow so I could stretch out and get some sleep on the way back from the airport. We left KCI around noon, got home at 120pm, and I got to bed as soon as I could. I was up from about 645pm to 830pm, had some cereal, talked to Jeff and the boys, sent a book group e-mail, then went back to bed. It's still bizarre to think about any of it happening on Thursday. To me, it just seemed like a really way too long Wednesday. A WAY too long, wacky Wednesday, the first half really good, and the rest possessed by demons.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Up too late, and tired

Today was such a good day up until the past hour or so, I feel bad posting at all when I feel so sour. I think maybe I'm just not good at networking. I did have a good talk near the end with Sandy from Louisiana, but aside from that, I wish I'd left the open house by 915pm, come back here to my hotel room, and stretched out on the comfy chair with my feet up on the ottoman and an open book in my hands. The session I'd planned to go to from 8 to 9am doesn't sound too compelling, so I might just sleep in, and go to the afternoon sessions instead - or just show up late to the 8am. Except for the 7am meeting when I'd made a wrong turn leaving the hotel, I think I've gotten to everything else within five minutes of the start. Lots of people come and go, it wouldn't be a big deal. I'm worn out, and tired, and my feet hurt, and I can't wait to go to bed.

On a brighter note: Elliott Bay Books was wonderful. I bought three books, two used and one bargain. I'll see the public library tomorrow, and will go home happy.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quick note on Monday in Seattle

Another good day today. Interesting and informative sessions - though I only stayed in my afternoon session for an hour instead of 90 minutes, just tired at that point, and the third speaker's topic wasn't as relevant to me as the other two. Got to see Meghan, an old friend from Smith, and we had lunch together. (It was a box lunch included in our registration fee, during a time period when there were no sessions - a conflict-free networking lunch - yay!) She introduced me to some fellow Chemistry librarians, all really funny and friendly. I went out to dinner with Arlene, my University of Minnesota transportation colleague, and friend. We ate at The Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar - EXCELLENT hamburger, hit the spot - and then we browsed at Arundel Books, right next door. After browsing, we bought - two each. I got Romola by George Eliot, in two smaller hardcover volumes in a slipcase, in such good shape, at a great price - so cool!!! - and a paperback of Waiting by Ha Jin, which won the National Book Award. I read a glowing review of his newest book, and hadn't really heard of him before that, but it sounded like the kind of stuff I tend to like, so that put him on my radar. So, in spite of the fact that I turned right instead of left when I came out of my hotel this morning at 7 am, making me even later than I already was, today turned out well. I'm looking forward to more Transportation Division stuff tomorrow. :-)

First day of SLA Conference - a good start

It's the very end of day one of my first Special Libraries Association conference, in my first trip to Seattle, Washington. Much of today was the GTRIC meeting (Government Transportation Research Information Committee), the main event for members of SLA's Transportation Division. It was a great program, very informative, and so cool to put faces with names and meet people I'd exchanged e-mails with but had never actually seen before. One of my newer colleagues is also one of my LibraryThing friends! (And speaking of LT, that got a mention from an OCLC visitor who did a short talk. Cool cool cool.) Also spent some time looking at vendor booths, went to the opening session, and then did some chatting with friends and meeting new colleagues at a gathering of the Solo Division. Am wiped out, and supposed to go to a 7 am meeting (if I'm conscious), so gotta close and get to sleep. But had to say, I had a good day, and am looking forward to getting better acquainted with some fellow transportation people, and attending some interesting sessions this week. (And seeing Meghan, visiting the public library, and getting to a good book store. Yes, I will do a couple fun things just for me!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update on Ma, June 11th

I talked to Linda, my mom's hospice nurse, about an hour ago. No major changes, but still a bit to report.
  • She's eating better than when I visited, but not as well as a couple weeks back - "about 30%" of the food she's given.
  • She has gained one pound, so her weight is an even 100.
  • A sore area that's been on her right big toe since I was there weeks ago, became infected late last week. She's on an antibiotic for that, and so far, no troublesome side effects from that medicine.
  • She's taking her meds fairly well, but has still been weepy and upset.
  • One reason she's been weepy and upset: my brother was supposed to visit her last Friday, and never did. Jerilyn, the hospice social worker, had called him to say she hoped to meet him that day, and Linda said Jerilyn was there from noon to 5pm on Friday so she could meet him and discuss Ma's condition. Needless to say, Ma was very disappointed.
  • Ma continues to sleep a lot of the time. I don't blame her one bit.

I need to call my grandmother soon - today or this evening - to chat about my mom, and find out how she's been doing as well. And, I can find out if she's talked with my brother at all in the last two weeks or so. Argh. Argh argh.

Better now

Yesterday was much better than Monday, and I think I'm "stable" now and "back to normal" - normal for me, anyway. ;-)

I haven't gotten any detailed updates on my mother in some time, but hope to touch base with someone today - actually have SEVERAL calls on my list of things to do. I'll pass along the latest about my mom as soon as I can.

I found out Monday that my cousin Valerie had her baby girl on Friday, June 6th. They named her Marissa. Val's sister Heidi said that all were doing well, so very good news on that front.

Time to start another day of work, and preparation for my trip. Eek!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Poem written at 3 am

Yesterday afternoon was very bad. I started crying at lunchtime, and cried off and on for several hours. I finally called Jeff to ask him to leave work early, to pick me up and take me home. I left at 330 pm. I'd cried myself to a headache, and my eyes were so sore. After some rest, and a listen to one of the depression treatment CDs that Lynn gave me a while back, I was better. Not super, but better.

I woke around 230 am, and a poem seemed to start writing itself in my head. I got up a bit before 3, found a notebook with some blank sheets in it, and started writing. By 330, I was done. I may do some editing later, but for now, it seems not bad, and says what I meant to say.


In my dream I
move the knife
along my left arm,

creating pain
that can be seen,
where before

the pain had lain
inside my head,

Like an artist
carving, I push
and glide the knife,

releasing blood
to add some color
to the sculpture,

paint streaming red
throughout, then pooling
in the crevices.

When I wake,
my blood runs black
on paper,

my tools not
knife and blood,
but pen and ink.

Out of tears,
finally quiet,
I put this weary day

to bed, pull the covers
over that sad girl
who cannot stand

herself. I write this poem.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I really *do* have a sense of humor

Lest any casual readers get the impression that I take myself, and life in general, too seriously (and I confess that sometimes this is true), I have to share something that had me laughing quite a bit.

A couple weeks ago, we got some junk mail from Geico. (We don't have Geico insurance.) On the outside of the envelope was the note, "Important information about your RV." (Nope, we definitely don't have an RV.) The letter inside begins with this:

You live an active lifestyle. You're young at heart. And odds are, most of the great things you've experienced happened while traveling with your RV.

The greeting on this letter? "Dear William Burke." Yes, the mail was addressed to my dad, who has been dead for three years, and never had an RV, or a car, or even a driver's license, in all his life. (And he never lived at our address, you'd think we wouldn't STILL be getting his mail, but we do!) Quick, read it again, with feeling, and a smile of contentment:

You live an active lifestyle. You're young at heart.

Yes, I'm sure my dad is living an active lifestyle. God, I can't even type it without laughing! But the best part is, my dad himself would get a hearty laugh out of this. I said soon after he died, when trying to write his obituary, there was nothing he liked better than a good laugh, except maybe a good meal. Have a chuckle and a second helping today, in honor of my dad. :-)