Christmas Aftermath

I came home this afternoon from my half-day of work feeling anxious… like I’m expecting something good to happen soon. I’m not sure what or why, but I’m enjoying the feeling.

While I’m trying to flesh that one out, I guess I’ll make the annual list of Christmas goodies, first from Aaron:

  • A 28mm wide angle lens + lens hood for my 35mm
  • A dedicated flash w/batteries (again, for my 35mm)
  • The Dark Crystal Collector’s Edition DVD
  • The Last Unicorn on VHS (there’s no official release on DVD yet)
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
  • A large stuffed plush Totoro
  • A watering can for my houseplants

Then, from Mom, Gary & Philip:

  • Candles and a snuffer
  • Hair clips and combs
  • A $25 gift certificate to Lane Bryant
  • A DVD carry case

And from Aaron’s family:

  • A large black cherry scented candle
  • A Christmas nutcracker
  • A chess set
  • A vegetable knife
  • Gift certificates to Kohl’s, Wendy’s, House of Meats, and Value
    City, and cash from Dad

Our Christmas trip was quite similar to last year’s: Christmas Eve at Mom and Gary’s, spent the night there, and Christmas Day with Aaron’s family at Poppa & Grammie’s house 15 minutes north. Mom, Gary and I taught Aaron how to play Pinochle, and we played boys vs. girls. Of course, the girls won, although Aaron made a pretty clean sweep one hand by having a bit of a monopoly on the entire suit of spades. 🙂 Oh, by the way, if you and your significant other know how to play Pinochle, or would be willing to learn, Aaron and I would love to hang out and play sometimes… Hell, if you know Hearts or Spades, that would be cool, too. Cards are fun, but no one our age knows how to play anything but kids’ games and Euchre (which
I’m not terribly good at myself).

I had to kind of let Mom down about the Denver trip she’d wanted to make with me in August. I decided I just couldn’t afford to be spending $350+ on a trip with Mom that I really am not too keen on in the first place… especially if Aaron and I a.) want to buy a house soon, and b.) want to take our own vacation together this summer. She was obviously really disappointed, but I just had to come clean and tell her I couldn’t go. I’m compromising, though, and promising to go on a one-tank trip with her somewhere we can take pictures. Maybe somewhere in Pennsylvania
or something.

Aaron’s grandparents’ house is a completely different experience than mine. At any given holiday, depending on who shows up, there’s between 9 and 17 people around the table. I’m really unused to that kind of massive family gathering, but I’m growing to enjoy it more each year. It’s like Aaron said: over at Mom and Gary’s, it’s kind of fun and relaxing, with lots of quality time with just them, but after a while you get bored — especially if they’re watching TV or talking on the phone. At Poppa and Grammie’s, though, it’s exciting and fun to be with so many people at once, but after a while you get frazzled and just need to leave. 🙂

We’re all worried about Grammie, though. Her Alzheimer’s is becoming more pronounced — she still remembers everyone and can function fairly normally, but she forgets why she’s gone into a room, what she’s looking for, what she did five minutes ago, whether she’s put the ham in the oven yet, etc, etc. She also tends to remind us that Uncle Pete got remarried, even though that’s been at least a year or more ago, and we all went to their wedding, and they came to ours in May. She forgets where my family lives, and that my grandmother’s dead. Things like that. She’s almost 80 years old, and Poppa is well into his 80’s himself. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen when… well, just what’s going to happen, period.

My homemade candles were highly upstaged by our wedding photos, which we gave to Aaron’s family as gifts. Made for some quick and easy gift ideas, and everyone loved having them. Fine with me… 🙂

I think that’s a sufficient update for now. My random excitement has subsided, and now I’m afraid that when I stop blogging here, I’m going to be bored. So… I’m off to find something constructive to do. Maybe take more pics with my new lens.

Since I Last Updated…

…the wedding and reception happened with only minor issues, we got lots of wedding presents (and money), my domain name expired, my credit card went overlimit, we drove to Massachusetts for our honeymoon (and back via Niagara Falls) totaling over 1700 miles on the Kia, my grandmother died, we put away all our gifts, I paid on my credit card and renewed my domain, and we’re preparing for the funeral in Cleveland on Tuesday.

Oh, yeah, and I go on “vacation” with my family to Texas in less than two weeks.

I think I’m going to put the honeymoon and wedding entry separate from the “normal” blog entries, so as not to overload the June blog page. ‘Cause this is going to be loooong. Like Sheryl‘s Japan narrative, but not quite.

I called Amy last night to see how she was doing. I guess she’s doing a little better — she’d been planning to try to go back to work today. She’s been home all this past week, tired and weak and kind of in pain. Good thing she didn’t try to make the wedding, cause she would have been miserable.

Well, I guess I’ll go start on the wedding and honeymoon entries, and maybe scan some pics. I don’t have the professional proofs from the wedding yet, but a friend of Aaron’s brought a digital camera to the wedding, so I have some wedding and reception pics, too.

Oh, and don’t feel too bad about Memaw. I’ve already done my mourning, and I will continue to do so tomorrow, but it was expected. Honestly, I’m glad it’s finally over.

Catching Up

So, I spent all day at work thinking of things I wanted to put in my blog tonight. Now that it’s time to post… I find myself feeling particularly unmotivated to write… but I’ll do it anyway, for the sake of my audience. So, Beth, Erk, Sheryls (who apparently are the whole of my devoted readership), here’s your latest post.

Last Week: Loni reminded me in conversation of the time a couple months back when I was called in to our supervisor’s office and interrogated about Loni’s habits, particularly regarding religion in the workplace. I’d known I was being led by the verbage of the questions, but I had to answer truthfully. Turns out that Loni did get written up as a result of Mary’s and my comments and answers. She’s apparently prejudiced against other religions, and had treated Mary (a Catholic) in a degrading manner. Loni knows that the “investigation” was started by a complaint from a co-worker. What Loni still doesn’t know, though, is that Mary is the one who started it…

Saturday: The Annual Waterville Community Garage Sale. Usually a treasure-trove of thrifty goodness. This year, however, it was a big piece of crap. I think everyone on our little trip got one thing. I got the best find of the day (IMO), an 11×11″ HP graphics tablet from 1987. (I gotta make this thing work with Photoshop…) Kris got a Vonnegut book, Mark got some 45’s, and Aaron got… um… a book? I forget. Disappointing, to say the least.

Monday: Nothing like a good old-fashioned 12-hour workday to get the blood pumpin’. Been a while since we had one of those. (Been a while since we had two new temps on a Monday.) And afterward, I went to Jerome Library on campus to photocopy wedding music and return the music books Donna had borrowed for me. Had to buy another friggin’ copy card, too, since I gave mine to Aaron when I graduated and thought I’d never need it again. Dammit.

After going to the library, I decided to take a walk around campus. It was nice out, and I’d wanted to take a walk, anyway. I walked all the way across campus, from the library to Shatzel Hall. I was actually scoping out potential wedding photo ops when I climbed the steps of Shatzel and checked out the pillars and the railing — and discovered someone’s CD wallet (which appeared to be a stolen restaurant check folder). Right in the front, once I opened it, was a CD I’ve actually been interested in (but not enough to actually purchase): Zwan. I looked, and thought, and pondered, and left it there. I’m so proud of myself, leaving it there for someone else to steal.

<girlie stuff>
Today: OMG, I am never wearing a thong to work again! I just bought a couple in my last spree of Lane Bryant shopping (sure, $40 is a spree for me), because I didn’t actually own any real thongs, and I was curious. The cute little thongs that came with my wedding lingerie didn’t seem too bad, so I figured, WTF. Never again. I won’t go into graphic detail (which I could), but feeling like I had a wedgie at my workstation all day was no picnic. The point of underwear, to me, is not to have to think about the fact that you’re wearing it. Instead, I alternated between having it up my crack and having it balance stupidly on my ass, very un-thong-like. Neither was comfortable.

— Oh, and BTW, I never realized how dimply my big ass was until I cranked around and looked at it in the mirror at home, framed by the wondrous thong. I know, you didn’t want to think about that. Well, neither did I. Deal.
</girlie stuff>

Mom called me up today, too. She said that her weekly Tuesday visit with Memaw wasn’t… well… very interactive, I guess you could say. Memaw has apparently refused to be kept functioning by mechanical means, otherwise she’d probably be on a respirator by now. She’s on a morphine drip (mmm… morphine…), and isn’t really very coherent. Mom said she sat by the bed and held Memaw’s hand, and every now and then Memaw’d come to and realize who was there, and they’d smile at each other, and then she’d go back to being dazed and in pain. It sounds like she really doesn’t have too much longer now. I hope that’s true. I’ll miss her, but I’ve been missing her for months now, since she’s honestly only a vague likeness of the Memaw I knew. She’s ready to go. Not to say I won’t be sad, but… I’d be sadder to see her carry on like this.

And I can’t really discuss my beliefs (or lack thereof) with Mom right now. She wasn’t comfortable with my departure from stardard Christian Protestantism already — now that Memaw’s about to die, I can’t very well tell Mom that I don’t know if The Entity Formerly Known As Memaw will even exist once she breathes her last breath.

See, I was having this doozie of a brainstorm the other day. If the human soul-personality-consciousness resides in a given body by a series of electrical impulses in the brain, then once the brain stops functioning… what happens to the soul? Well, what happens to computer software when the hardware on which it resides goes bad? You’ve lost it. It’s gone. The only way software can exist is with hardware on which to store it. So… if the only way your unique self will exist is in your brain, then once your brain stops working… poof. No comforting out-of-body experience, no dead relatives, no pearly gates. No fire and brimstone, for that matter.

Which begs the question: if you no longer exist, how do you know? What do you have to compare your non-existence against? If your current universe exists by virtue of your having experienced it, what happens when you no longer have a vantage point? This is the part I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around.

That’s why I liked to believe in an all-encompassing Force or Tao or general life-energy from which we are all born (and perhaps reborn). I used to think that, depending on how strong-willed or charismatic you were, your soul might exist as itself for a little longer before being absorbed into the collective consciousness. But now, after seeing Memaw fade… I don’t know. She is — was — a strong-willed woman, with a sense of humor and opinions and fire. Now, she’s just there. Will her soul live on?

Don’t you think I’d like to believe it will?

Don’t you think I’d like to resubscribe to the Mormon notion that she’ll go to the Spirit World, where she’ll be with her family and old friends and new friends and learn about The Gospel until the Second Coming and the Millenium of peace? Don’t you think I’d like to believe that after the Judgment she’ll make it to perhaps the second level of Heaven (aka the Telestial Kingdom), where most good Mormons will go? And don’t you think I’d like to believe that she will have Eternal, Everlasting Life? Wouldn’t that be more convenient? Simpler? More comforting?

No, instead I have to be in the midst of a little Belief Question & Answer period with myself. Bah.

Hanging in there…

I’m sure that there are a few of you who are waiting to see how my trip to Cleveland went. I know of at least one or two of you off the top of my head. So, here we go…

I headed out around 9:15am (after gassing up the car) and made the trip in a record one hour, 45 minutes. Mom, of course, was glad to see me, but we had to hurry and get to the hospital, since Mom’s usually pretty punctual and gets there just after 10:00 on a normal day. She was worried that Memaw would think she’d forgotten. I drove us up to Lakewood Hospital, about a 20-minute drive north, by way of KFC. (Memaw had requested fried chicken.)

Got to Lakewood (after much complaining from Mom about my driving) and found a spot in the hospital parking garage. Remembered to turn off the cell phone before entering the hospital. (I’m still not used to having one of those yet.) Headed up the elevator to Memaw’s room.

Mom went in first, and had to rouse Memaw from her almost-nap. "I’m sorry I was late," Mom said loudly, "but I had to go get your chicken." She had to repeat herself to make herself heard, at which point Memaw replied that she’d forgotten about asking for chicken. Then Mom told her she’d brought another surprize, and I came in.

I had to step closer for her to realize who I was, but once she did, her face lit up and she smiled a big, toothless grin. "My baby!" she exclaimed, and held out her arms for a hug. I bent and hugged her in her bed, and she kept repeating over and over, "You were just what I needed. You were just what I needed," and started to cry.

When we finally let go, Mom pulled a chair around for me, and I sat beside the bed and held Memaw’s hand. "Was that a good surprize?" Mom asked, and Memaw nodded and repeated, "A good surprize."

Then she kind of peered funny at Mom and said, "And you’ve got a bad surprize."

Mom took the statement as a question and said, "Nope. No bad surprizes. Only good surprizes."

Memaw looked pretty much like I remembered from the last time I saw her — was it Christmas? That long ago? The only major difference was her hair. This time, instead of being long and wispy and ungodly thin, it was shaved to half an inch and had finally turned completely white. No more auburn or gray strands left.

The other difference was that she couldn’t seem to stay awake. She was so tired. She and Mom and I would just sit in silence for a while and gaze at each other, then Memaw would start to nod off, and Mom and I would grin at each other and watch her head bob to the side. Then she’d realize she was falling asleep and jerk awake again. Once she mentioned that she’d thought she’d spilt something, and asked if we’d ever had that happen. We knew what she meant, and said that we had. Memaw said usually when that would happen to her, that she’d doze off like that, she usually did spill something. 🙂

Anyway, we gave her the chicken, and she almost ate it, too. She’d refused her meal that day, so we figured she’d be up for fried chicken. I opened the little KFC box and handed her a napkin and a drumstick. With weak hands — so weak — she took the leg from me and cradled it in her lap, on the napkin. The chicken slowly got closer to her mouth… slowly… but never quite made it there.

Memaw asked if I was going to eat mine, and we tried to explain that we were going to eat later, that the chicken was for her. Finally, I gave up and got the thigh out of the box, and pulled some skin off of it and ate it. Memaw’s eyes lit up and she asked if that was the butt part. We said no, that’s a thigh. She said, "I’ll take some of that," and proceeded to pick some skin off of my piece and eat it instead. Then she ate some of the drumstick, and was done. We packed the rest back into the box and put it on her bedside table.

(Keep in mind, this is the woman who used to eat not only the chicken and the skin, but would gnaw on the knuckle cartilage and gristle, and would crack open the bones and suck out the marrow.)

After that, we mainly just sat together. It was apparent to me that Memaw was thinking things in her head, but not saying them aloud. This was kind of funny when she would actually say something out loud, because it didn’t make any sense. Some people would assume her mind’s just going — I know too many people whose minds run in overdrive, I guess, so I could tell that these weren’t just random spouts of words coming out of her mouth. For instance, at one point she just said out of the blue, "You can’t get addicted anymore." Mom asked her to repeat, and she repeated perfectly, "You can’t get addicted anymore." Mom looked at me, so I enunicated for her, and explained that she was probably thinking of her morphine.

Watching her continually nod off put me at ease, to an extent. It helped me realize that this is probably how she’s going to go. She’ll just fall asleep, and that’ll be it. Watching her cradle her chicken helped me to realize that she’s ready, too. That was one of the saddest moments for me, because I realized how far she’s slipped. If she can’t even raise her fried chicken to her mouth (toothless though it may be), her quality of life is virtually nil, even if she is still conscious and relatively coherent.

I knew she knew she wouldn’t make it to the wedding, even if she does survive through May (which is unlikely). I wanted to be sure to mention the wedding, though, to try to include her in it. "For the wedding," I asked, "How do you think I should do my hair? I was thinking of a French braid — what do you think?"

She kind of scrunched up her face in a scowl and said, "I knew that was gonna come up." But then she answered me and said that yes, she thought a nice French braid would be pretty, and that I had a book at home to show me how to do it. Which I do indeed have, and I got it back in Junior High.

We stayed a while longer and watched her nod off, and Mom said quietly, "Let her fall asleep, then we’ll go." But she fought to stay awake because we were there, so we finally had to tell her that we were going to head out. We stood up, and Mom put our chairs back, and we each had our Memaw hug. I rubbed Memaw’s fuzzy head, and she smirked and said, "You had to get that in there, didn’t you?"

But then, as we were saying goodbye, Memaw asked me, "Did you have a bad dream last night?" I chalked it up to randomness and answered no, crouching by her bed to get down on eye level again. "I did," she said, and got a look on her face that reminded me of when she used to pretend to be old and senile — you know, that kind of childlike-pouty-guilty-cute thing that looks genuinely funny when kind-of-old people do it, but kind of sad and pathetic when really-old people do it. "I wasn’t going to say anything, but I guess I will," she went on. "It was about Tinky Poo."

Memaw and Granny always thought that the women in our family had ESP, and I’m not willing to completely disbelieve that theory quite yet. Because as she was having her "bad dream about Tinky Poo," I was writing about the lullaby here in my blog. So, I said, "I was thinking about that last night, too," and she got this understanding look in her eyes that told me she thought we’d made some sort of ESP connection that night.

Then Mom, standing at the foot of the bed, piped up and said, "I remember Tinky Poo. Do you remember?" Then she started singing: "Memaw love the Tinky Poo / Tinky Poo love the Memaw too…"

I tried to sing along, but I only made it through the second line. I just welled up and couldn’t sing anymore. I wanted to, and I wanted Memaw to sing along — but she didn’t. I hoped it wasn’t because she’d forgotten the words. I didn’t want to know. I put my head down on her bed and started to cry.

Now, most of you probably have figured out just from the kind of person I am that I don’t like to cry. I feel like I’m no longer strong, like I’m no longer in control of myself. My family knows this keenly, so me breaking down like that was that much more poignant for Mom and Memaw. Memaw just rested her hand on the top of my head, and Mom came over and stroked my hair.

"I wasn’t going to do this," I said into the sheets.

Memaw told me to take a tissue from her drawer, and Mom gave me some toilet paper that was sitting on the portable potty-walker-thingy next to the bed, so I was soon OK. We wrapped things up then, and promised we’d come visit on Sunday (silently hoping she’d still be there to visit). I didn’t want to go, and I was glad when I looked back for one final wave and she was almost asleep again — but she waved anyway.

On our way out, Mom and I apologized at the same time. She asked if I was OK, and apologized for singing, and said that it was good for Memaw to see me cry.

After that, we drove to Lake Erie, to Edgewater Park, and walked around for a while (after I called Aaron). Talked, got some sun, unwound from the hospital. Then we went back to Parma, hit the mall, got lunch at Mr. Hero, and played in the arcade. Then we went home and Mom finished dinner. Beef stroganoff. Mmmm.

Gary came home, and we ate, and we talked about funeral arrangements, and wedding stuff, and the eulogy, and the obituary, and the headstone, and random important stuff. I stayed until 7:30 or so, then headed out in time to make it to the turnpike before it got completely dark outside.

Overall, I think the visit was as much for Mom as it was for Memaw or for me. I’m OK with that, though. I don’t visit home nearly enough, and I get very little quality time with Mom anymore, especially since Gary came on the scene. (Yes, I know that was over seven years ago now. Yes, I’m still bitter. *grin*)

And I’m sure I heard Memaw mumble, "I never liked Gary much anyway…"

Update

You know, I’d really like to post a nice, long-winded update about all the stuff I’ve done in the last couple of weeks, like how I cracked the "copy-protection" on the brand-new Japanese-only release Matthew Sweet CD, or how A got yelled at for wearing cargo pants and blogging at work, or how I mastered the art of refilling the minutes on my prepaid cell phone. Take your pick.

Instead, I will suffice with a brief note: Tomorrow, I am taking one day of PTO (Paid Time Off). Not to lounge and relax. Not because I’m ill, since I’m not. No, I’m taking tomorrow to drive two hours to Cleveland to see my Memaw. You remember, Memaw who has lung cancer? Yeah. Well, Aaron and I were planning to go visit her on our way to Easter dinner at his grandparents’ house on Sunday, since they’re in the same suburb, but… the step-Gary says the doctors don’t think she’ll last that long. So, to see my Memaw alive one last time, I’m driving out for the day.

What a cheery fucking thought.

Of course, this brings forth all sorts of thoughts in my head, both deeply spiritual and grossly morbid. Some at the same time. Maybe once I see her and get these things sorted out, I’ll post some of them.

Oh, yeah, and I have duties/homework now:

  • Go through my genealogy work and find out Memaw’s parents’ names for sure. (Granny, Memaw’s mother, was adopted by her step-father. Legally or not, we’re not sure, and we can’t remember which was which.)
  • Locate the hi-res digital file and hard copy of the photo of Memaw in her early 20’s that I cleaned up a few years back, for use in the obit and funeral program.
  • Come up with a suitable phrase ("tag line"?) for Memaw’s headstone.

*gulp*

I guess I’m lucky that I haven’t had anyone really close to me die yet. I mean, I’m almost 27 and haven’t had a grandparent kick it yet. Granny, Memaw’s mother, died when I was a Freshman in high school — I hadn’t seen her for a few years, though, since we’d moved up from Florida where she lived. Tom (my first stepfather, Mom’s husband while I was in 7th & 8th grade) died after my Freshman year in college, and that was pretty rough on me. He was the only quasi-Dad I’d ever known, and even though they’d been separated since I started high school (the divorce took a year or two), we still were close. I’d called to ask if he could help me fund a new-for-me car, and his landlord/employers had told me he’d died of a heart attack a week before. That was rough. Neither of those cases gave me time to prepare, though. At all.

But Memaw… damn, she changed my diapers. She created my imaginary friend (apparently when I didn’t want to wear said diapers, she’d put them on "Madge," and I’d get jealous). She composed my very own lullaby ("Memaw loves the Tinky-Poo" …don’t ask). She lived with us — that is, with Mom and me — for as far back as I have viable memories. I used to consider her my second parent. Some people have "Mommy and Daddy" — I had "Mommy and Memaw."

This isn’t helping.

I mean, damn, she’s 70. That’s reasonable. Still under the curve, but reasonable, especially for a smoker and former drinker. I just wish I could have shown her her great-grandchildren. Not that Aaron’s impromptu compositions aren’t great, but I would have loved to have Memaw’s Own Lullaby for my first little one. In a few years.

Memaw love the ‘Tinky Poo
‘Tinky Poo love the Memaw too
Yes she do
I know she do
She told me so a little while ago
With a twinkle in her eye
I know she wouldn’t lie
She said, "Memaw, I love you too"
Yes I do
You know I do…

Pretty little girl go to sleep at night
Wake up in the morning with her eyes so bright

Grow
and
be pretty!

Random Thoughts

Today at work I jotted down several blogworthy thoughts I had over the course of the mind-numbing workday:

When the temperature in the office reaches a certain point — say, 75°F or so — the vents open to allow outside air to filter in and cool things down. Over the past couple of days, this outside air has smelled of a slight tinge of spring. So cruel… so cruel. Barely above freezing, and my nostrils are dreaming of the spring thaw.

Some people at my work have accused others of being resistant to change. One person in particular, by the name of Loni, has done this accusing. Since our boss has begun a transition in our record-keeping from Microsoft Excel (which Loni set up herself about three years ago) to an Access database, it’s amazing how resistant this accuser is to change…

I read an article about premarital counseling in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It had mundane but important questions like, “will you love your spouse if she gains 50 pounds?” Then I realized how much Aaron must really love me… because I have gained 50 pounds since he met me. Literally. I’m surprized he hasn’t staged an intervention in the meantime. 🙂

I’m not eating enough. (Nice segue.) I wake up too late to eat breakfast (I have to be awake awhile before I can stomach it), then when I eat lunch, I just have one of those little Weight Watchers-type frozen meals. When I’m done eating, I’m still hungry. I wait the prescribed 20 minutes after eating, for the food to “hit bottom,” and I’m still hungry. It’s easier to ignore the hunger while I’m at work, but I’m sure that it’s not healthy, anyway. Then I come home and am either too hungry to eat, or I go on an evening-long food binge. Ramen… canned veggies… hot dogs… ham… plum… all the stuff I probably should have eaten (or not) during the course of the day, crammed into a few hours of down-time at home. I need to fix this if I want to lose weight and be healthier.

Loni was telling about the wedding she went to in Chicago over the weekend — apparently the bride wore a scarf over her shoulder, bearing her family’s Irish colors. Neat idea. Then it occured to me… if I were to claim so-called citizenship of only one family in my genealogy, which would it be? There are certain lines I’ve been inclined to research more than others — some because they’re easier to find, some because they’re more interesting to learn about, and some because I’m closest to their descendants. I think I’d probably claim citizenship in the White family if I had to choose one. That’s my Granny’s mama, Maudie (which would be my mom’s mother’s mother’s mother, my great-great-grandmother). Interesting that I choose the matriarchal line; we’ve got some strong females in my family. …So what happened to me?

As far as my last blog entry, where I wondered if I’d become less of a person because I’ve ceased to struggle against my less-than-relevant job, I’ve come to a conclusion of sorts. I’d rather be sated, unruffled and relatively content in a job I didn’t intend to work than be miserable and unsatisfied in the same job. If I can ride things out, waiting in the wings and watching for opportunities, and make rent money in the process, why not?

Mary at work thinks I’ve lost weight. I was wearing my new black pants with the elastic waistband that doesn’t make my fat ooze out where it shouldn’t, and on top of that I wore a thigh-length blouse. I think it was all an optical illusion, since I’ve really only lost six pounds.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: no, I didn’t write all of this at work. I took notes so I’d know what to write later. I don’t have that kind of free time at my job…

Unrelated discoveries: one fun, one not-so-fun

We begin with the fun: wilwheaton.net.

actual photo from wilwheaton.netHe’s 30, he’s married, and he has blue hair. It’s freaky on some level, yet comforting on another. As much as it might disturb Wil to hear it, he’s kind of like a long-distance high-school or college buddy. That’s how he comes across on his page. Totally honest, frank, and certainly more than a touch dorky. (Hell, who isn’t?) His web-design skills are pretty middle-of-the-road, his writing style is familiar and fresh, and he has interests that “normal” people have. And he likes The Pixies. Plus, after watching his character Wesley grow up on Star Trek: The Next Generation (now who’s the dork?), it’s neat to see what he’s like in real life, and to know that he’s just as cool as you’d hope an actor (and aspiring writer) your age would be.

I know, I know… I’m not 30 yet. In the grand scheme of things, though, those four years don’t really matter much.

Now, to the not-so-fun discovery. Actually, it’s downright depressing.

On Thanksgiving, I went to visit my grandmother at her new nursing home. Beforehand, my step-Gary felt the need to call me and warn me of her mental condition. Seems she would be OK for a while, then start talking about feeding pet mice and stepping on cockroaches and all sorts of random things that may or may not have root in reality. So, I felt I was armed with the knowledge that my Memaw was going off her rocker, and things would be cool.

As one might expect, the visit was unusual at best. At least when I used to visit her before, she was recognizable. This wispy-haired, bent wraith of a woman bore very little resemblance to the Memaw that I knew and loved. True to form, she wasn’t wearing her hearing aid or her teeth, and she did indeed go off on random tangents. I smiled and nodded along, answering loudly when appropriate. Just to prove how erratic her behavior had been, when she stood up to show me how much weight she had lost, I discovered that the staff had her bed monitored; when she stood, a beeping alarm sounded. At first I thought her oxygen had been disconnected, but no. It was so she wouldn’t try to wander off and break a window to escape again.

Seriously.

I dealt well with the visit at the time. I even saw the humor in it. Memaw was going off the deep end. Funny stuff. I joked with Aaron about it on the way to Parma to visit my folks.

Later, though, the truth of the matter set in. I really don’t have a Memaw anymore.

Yes, I know she’s still alive, and I should be thankful for that. But my Memaw, the one that fabricated my imaginary friend when I was two, the one who made up lullabies that stood the test of time, the one who could cook almost anything I asked for, the one with the slightly warped sense of humor (one aspect of her I didn’t fully realize until I was a little older), that Memaw… she’s gone.

Maybe it’s easier to lose her this way, slowly, so I can come to terms with it. Maybe it’s better than just getting a phone call out of the blue, telling me I’ll have to cash in my Bereavement Days at work.

But she’s still my Memaw. And God, I miss her already.

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Narrative

9:00am: The Schnuth/almost-Schnuth one-car caravan headed to Lakewood (the northwest side of Cleveland, that is). Arrived at Aaron’s grandparents’ place in roughly two hours.

11:15am: First to arrive on-location. Chatted with Poppa and Grammie. Had quality time talking about plants and wedding plans and the Thanksgiving schedule. Also had quality time with the cat, Sid.

12:00pm: Aaron’s dad arrived, sans Aaron’s brother. (sans means without, for all you non-Latin-speaking types.) Seems Matt stayed home, puking and feeling generally ungood. Had more quality time talking about wedding plans and rib restaurants and the Thanksgiving schedule.

1:00pm: The Eschbach minivan arrives, bearing Aunt Elaine, cousin Nathan, and Nathan’s 21-month-old daughter Caitlin. Cute as a proverbial button — she started chasing the cat as soon as she saw it. Had even more quality time talking about Caitie, antiques, jobs, wedding plans, and the Thanksgiving schedule.

1:30pm: The slated time for dinner. Uncle Pete called to let everyone know that he and his clan would be a little late (surprise). The turkey came out of the oven right on time, despite dripping juices and much smoke. The table was set, and 15 chairs were somehow located and brought to the dining room. All that was left was for Pete and the clan to arrive and bring the green bean casserole.

2:15pm: Pete and his new wife Deanna finally arrived, with Pete’s four kids and one of Dee’s two kids. (The other of Dee’s kids was at his dad’s place for the holiday.) About half a dozen people crammed into the kitchen to finish preparing food. Had yet more quality time talking about choir, Lord of the Rings, Caitie, and wedding plans. Studiously avoided mentioning the Thanksgiving schedule.

3:00pm: Food was ready. Aaron and I sat down promptly, while the rest of the clan milled about wondering where to sit.

3:15pm: Dinner started. Finally.

4:00pm: We excused ourselves to go visit my family, as mentioned to his family multiple times while discussing the Thanksgiving schedule. Drove about two miles to the nursing home where my grandmother has recently been admitted.

4:10pm: Located my Memaw in the Aristocrat nursing home in Lakewood. The chemo thinned her hair, and she looked ten or fifteen years older than her actual age of 70, and she went off on bizarre, almost-senile tangents a few times, but she’s still my Memaw, and it was still good to see her. Shocking, but good. Gave her the birthday presents I forgot to send three weeks prior, and showed her a picture of her grandfather that I found online. Lots of hugs. Promised to write more often.

4:30pm: Left Lakewood for Parma. Ended up combining Mom’s set of directions with my step-Gary’s set, and got there just fine.

4:45pm: Arrived at my folks’ place. Ate another dinner. Watched the Cowboys play the Redskins. Ate sweet-potato pie. Had quality time with my cat. Talked about how big my step-brother Philip has grown, about wedding plans, about weird commercials on TV, about my long-ass hours at work, and about crap in general.

9:00pm: Gary walked Philip back to his mother’s house down the street. Mom packed us a bag full of Thanksgiving leftovers (especially appreciated since we had to bail from Aaron’s family so fast we didn’t get any there). Once Gary got back, Aaron and I got our stuff together, said our goodbyes, and headed back to Bowling Green.

11:15pm: Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Off to bed for Diana — I had to be at work by 9:00am the next day. No four-day weekend for me. Overall: a fun day, a good day, but a busy day.

Lung Cancer Sucks

I’m not a smoker. But I’d imagine that, as the average twenty-year-old smoker drags on his or her brand of choice, he’s not thinking of the good time he could be having in about 50 years: laying in a hospital bed, losing his hair, being inundated with various chemicals and drugs to sear away the cancer that usurps his lungs.

My grandmother is 70 years old, and she has lung cancer.

When I first heard, almost a month ago (?!), Aaron and I had just chosen a final wedding date. For a fleeting moment, I considered moving my wedding date up a few months, but thought better of it. After all, wouldn’t that be a vote of inconfidence in her ability to pull through? So I called her up in the hospital and told her that at least her hair will have grown back by May.

I seem to be the least worried of everyone, except my Memaw. I wonder sometimes if I shouldn’t be more concerned, considering her age and all. Mom says Memaw has good days and bad days. Tuesday was a bad day, and she was asleep when Mom came to visit. Thursday, however, was a good day, since Memaw was downstairs playing bingo when Mom called to check on her. 🙂

I refuse to be angry at Memaw, though. Sure, this cancer could be pinned down to her decades of smoking — but what will it help to blame the victim? I’d rather just go to the women’s cancer specialty shop and buy her a head scarf or three for her birthday.