Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Morning, Thinking, Feeling . . . .

I'm struggling right now. I have a few posts lined up, semi-written. Ideas for a few more. But in all areas right now, I'm finding it very tough to muster energy, except for those compulsive-repetitive-fairly mindless activities like running and knitting.

We're on Reading Break at the moment (a week) -- a grand relief as I abhor just going through the motions with my students but have been feeling it tough to maintain emotional and intellectual energy to do much more. Once we're back, there are only 6 weeks of classes, but I hate approaching weeks as though they were items to cross off a list. I'm hoping I can get some prep done this week that will infuse excitement into the rest of the term, but I'm not sure where I can buy the wherewithal to make that happen -- haven't seen those particular Retail shops on the local streets.

And speaking of which, I'm trying not to succumb to the cheap but temporary satisfactions of shopping as a way to lift my spirits. That said, I'm in Vancouver at the moment, meeting my sister for lunch today only a few blocks from Fluevogs. . . . Wish me luck. Although perhaps wishing me resolve would be better, as it's hard to be sure how I might use luck. I might decide it comes in size 7.5. . .

We spent Saturday overnight to Sunday visiting/looking after my Mom. She is well cared for and quite happy, given the circumstances (last months of life, cancer, not sure how much she "gets it" given some dementia, but she was walking independently 15-20 kilometres a day just over a month ago, and now must settle for 10-15 minutes in the neighbourhood with a companion). It's quite lovely having the time with her as she's so sweetly appreciative and she really tries to hold up her end, socially, despite always having had limited conversational skills (painfully introverted, really). Administering her meds can be a task -- so much counting, scheduling, combining, planning -- and holding her poor, tiny, valiant self as she heaves over the toilet is tough. Getting up 4 or 5 times during the night to see why she's turned on the light (often just to put on her earrings; sometimes to count out money for the Sunday collection envelope; sometimes to wait out a wave of nausea) is tiring, but also oddly gratifying, clear proof that we're needed. Overall, I'm so glad I live close enough that I can do this a few times a month, even gladder that I have siblings who are willing to do it more often (some sisters 2 or 3 times a week -- and then head off to work for the day!, a sister who spends almost every weekday with Mom, from 9-5.  Even the in-laws (spouses of my siblings) have been amazing with my sisters-in-law doing overnight shifts as well -- I don't know what we would have done without a nurse in the family in the form of a wonderful SIL.

But I can feel grief lapping at my feet, the tide moving in, quietly, steadily. I suspect my fatigue has much to do with a guarding against the surges that I expect will hit over the next months. Already, I catch glimpses of the flotsam and jetsam that will arrive with the flooding, as my mother's physical deterioration recalls my father's prolonged cancer story, as family dynamics get jostled by the conflicting needs. And I'm drastically aware that one of the big waves will push me solidly into a confrontation with my own aging and mortality -- I keep thinking of my mother being only 22 years older than I am . . .

And part of me wants to sit at this keyboard and write it all out. Or to write posts about blooms in my garden, outfits I enjoyed wearing, runs I've added to my routine, knitting triumphs and failures.  But there's also a me that disapproves of time spent here when I should be marking or preparing classes or reading. A self-censoring me who thinks I should keep the Sad off-air.  And there's another voice, quite dominant really, who wants me to do nothing, who wants to retire from it all until I know what I want to do for me, rather than filling an overly long grocery list of responsibilities and obligations.

You can see who won out today. But uneven will be the watchword, I'm afraid, and posts will occasionally be selfishly indulgent, as this one. I'm not doing well at commenting either, but I am reading and appreciating your posts.

36 comments:

  1. You write what ever damn well pleases you. Your eloquence is beautiful. This long slow dance with your Mom is so reminiscent of what I went through with my Mom, its uncanny! Mindless knitting was wonderfully meditative for me and I don't think I would have survived without it. Buy the Fluevogs that strike your fancy today. You deserve them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the support and encouragement -- it's good to know you've travelled this road before. I've resisted the Fluevogs for now, but tried on 6 or 7 pair as a good distraction.

      Delete
  2. No I don't think you you should censor the "sad" from your posts. Many of us are on the point of losing relatives but have to combine the worry and sadness with busy jobs, distances of several hundred miles to loved ones and promises to others. By writing about your situation you highlight the fact that these things happen to nearly everyone.
    Your mother sounds a joy by the way and you are so lucky to have had her for so much of your life. I think you'll feel better able to cope once the remains of your earlier virus are out of your system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the encouragement -- I think that I will try to write a bit about this, although I'll continue to be self-conscious about it.
      My mom is a joy, although I wouldn't always have said so -- I may write a bit about that as well.
      And you may be right that the virus is not completely vanquished and may yet be affecting my energy levels.

      Delete
  3. Fill this space as you will and whatever you say will strike a chord, no matter how hesitantly with all of your followers.

    And as to how you should spend your time, I'd suggest you consider doing what absolutely has to be done - your mother's care and your professional commitments and thereafter do exactly what you feel like doing. All the rest can wait.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, palebluestocking. I really appreciate your comment with its kind encouragement.

      Delete
  4. Your post is full of loveliness in spite of sadness. There are many of us who are, or who likely will be, experiencing much of the same prolonged grief you are now inhabiting. We (I) learn from you.
    And perhaps, in the expression of your thoughts, in the abstract yet concrete quality of words that tumble from your brain onto paper or computer, some ache is slightly eased. I find that writing what I'm feeling loosens the constriction around my heart. May it be so for you.
    Thinking of you. Tucking you into my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lorrie. I do find that writing often helps me sort out what I'm feeling -- and eases the ache as it does so, OR just lets me see from a perspective that settles me somewhat. And while I'm loathe to ask for sympathy, I must admit it warms my heart to get these response from readers. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

      Delete
  5. Mater, just do what feels right in the moment. Write if you need to, don't if you'd rather not. We're here to listen if you need us. Take good care of yourself. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan. My problem is often that I can't tell what feels right because the "shoulds" get so loud . . . I'm trying, though . . .

      Delete
  6. You have much to make you want to retreat. It is quite hard to find the balance between writing and not when things are hard. We have had a hard couple of years with family ill health too and I have struggled to know what to say and what to keep silent about. Partly that is to do with respecting other people's privacy. Partly reticence myself about how much to share. I am not someone who wears their heart on their sleeve in non virtual life either! I found I just went with the flow. Sometimes it was a positive relief to blog about the garden, knitting and cooking and walking and food and to look outwards at the practicalities of life. Every now and then I needed to acknowledge that I was struggling. Your mother is so lucky to have your family around her and you write about it with honesty and grace. Take care of yourself too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been thinking of you in this journey because my confusion around retirement is thoroughly folded into the issue.
      And the word "retreat" pops out at me here, from your comment -- it's so much what I want to do at the moment, and I don't think even a week would give me my fill. Thanks for helping me see how others have managed these challenges and for the support and sympathy.

      Delete
  7. Times like these, do only what you need and want to get through. You know your readers - friends - love your blog because it's real, and real includes sadness, inertia, grief, as well as good shoes. Silence is also just fine ...

    Your mother is so lucky to have such a wonderful support network. What an amazing family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Need and want is what I'm having a hard time sorting out right now.
      Mom tells us throughout the day how lucky she is and what a wonderful family she has. . . . and at night, when she should be sleeping, we can hear her telling someone else the same thing. So cute.

      Delete
  8. You should listen to your own voice and know that all of your family will all care for your mother and that family dynamics is part of who we are. The mortality part is a little frightening because it seems as though we have all the time in the world and then we don't. Teaching is hard because it takes so much energy and enthusiasm. Take time to nurture yourself physically and spiritually.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Madame. I really appreciate the gentle wisdom you offer. The mortality is stunningly obvious, especially as I try to work out whether or not to retire in the next couple of years. How to best spend the obviously limited time that I have left. I find teaching so demanding, not so much for the lectures, the content delivery, but for its emotional demands -- and the marking/grading.

      Delete
  9. Everyone here is offering so much understanding and support, I have little to add except to say, me too. My friend Terri said to me,
    "I am seeing my Dad home", a phrase I've never forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't they wonderful readers? So much kindness, understanding, and support! I love that phrase your friend parked in your memory -- no wonder it stuck!

      Delete
  10. You've written a stunning post today.
    I can only imagine how demanding your position is right now...
    you must give yourself permission to do as you please even if it meaning ticking off those weeks or buying some Fleuvogs.
    Try to set aside some restorative time for yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Hostess. I know you're going through some of this with your mother, although it sounds as if her health is still good.

      Delete
  11. Mater, I can only agree with your other commenters - do what you need to do, don't be too hard on yourself, and we are here to 'listen' if you need that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patricia. I really appreciate the support.

      Delete
  12. I think not only should you do what you need to do for yourself, but also you should realize that you can teach us so much by talking through the grief. If you want to.

    xoxoxox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So kind of you to say this -- it helps me overcome my sense that I'm being self-indulgent, perhaps boring, when I talk about my particular sadnesses. We'll see if I can manage to so gracefully and meaningfully.

      Delete
  13. Agree with all comments posted here. Stunning post, do what you want and need to do. Take care of yourself. Sending positive thoughts and thinking of you on your journey home with your mum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much. This means a lot, all this reader support!

      Delete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Mater, just my thoughts, disregard if inappropriate - I have experienced much bereavement, sat with two dear ones in their eighties until the end, and a friend in her very early forties, am consequently vividly aware of the pressing anxieties around mortality. I myself at 42 have so far survived 3 cancer diagnoses, death isn't an abstract concept for me but something lurking very close at hand. I find myself sometimes blanking/numbing out all the anxiety, other times I employ displacement activity (the distraction of charming purchases) and both responses have their valid place in the psyche.
    But mostly I try not to propel myself into a vortex of panic/terror/sadness/worry about the nearness of the ending of things; I try not to chop things up into time units eg bargaining in my head "let me at least see my very tiny children grow up", "oh no, twenty years more of life still wouldn't be enough".."in fact, 100 years more still wouldn't be enough"... Instead, I try and centre myself down to making the most of right here, right now. By simply being in the moment, whilst not letting go of cherished longer term goals and desires, I find that in an odd way time expands, I have more of it. An hour can be full of wonder and the memory of it sustain me for many more hours after that. Living for now, focussing down on the breath and the minutiae and wonder of the quotidien, has enabled me to tap in to profound peace which has been an excellent sustenance for all that I want to be and do. I can try my sensible best to aim for as long and full a life for myself as possible but ultimately it is not really within my control and all I can do is make the most of the gift of time in my hands right now. I could be so busy stressing about the possibility of not being here in two decades time that I am not enjoying my present and then get run over by a bus tomorrow, thereby wasting what time i did have, IYSWIM. Or eat at the edges of my days with angst about only having so much more time left, only to discover that I'm unexpectedly dancing a healthy jig at age 110 and had no need to be so worried about popping off at 60/70/80 or whatever arbitrary figure I muster up.

    And if the quotidien at the core of our experience doesn't satisfy under close inspection - then change it. I have been brutal in reorganising priorities and commitments, some things (in my case, a LOT of things) had to go, to make space for what truly, really matters to me. Your life seems richly full of deeply satisfying and worthwhile things but is there any dross that you can excise to make some oxygen pockets in your schedule?

    Keep on writing out your thoughts here because I don't think we talk enough about Death in the Western world; paradoxically it is only by embracing the shadow side that Life can be thrown into bright, distinct relief and thereby truly relished and cherished.

    Hester

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The day will never come when I just disregard your thoughts, Hester. There's much much wisdom in your determination to live the moments as they arrive, and I manage this much of the time. But I'm beginning to poke and prod, recognizing that I may need to change my quotidian. Getting ready to write a bit about that -- thanks so much for the encouragement to write more about this stuff, and I know you're too, too right about the relation between Death and Life, that valuable relief. . . the reminder that used to be inscribed on my forehead every Ash Wednesday . . .

      Delete
  16. I will echo many of the other comments that have already been posted here about the eloquence of this post and the sentiment that you should do what feels right in the moment, whether that's knitting or a pair of new 'vogs. I can only imagine how difficult your mother's deterioration is for you and your family and my heart goes out to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, R. The running helps as well, as you might imagine, altho' I suspect it might just contribute to the fatigue . . . ;-)

      Delete
  17. I hope that whatever you decide to do is what really feels right for you. We who enjoy visiting here with you will be around.

    Sending compassionate thoughts your way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's surprisingly difficult to decide what really feels right, when one is a "should" person -- do you find that?
      Thanks for the compassion -- I just felt a wave of Spanish warmth rolling my way!

      Delete
  18. We are in a similar place. I haven't been able to post for the past weeks as all of my energy has gone to being with my parents and keeping the work fires burning. Please just know that thoughts steeped in compassion are being sent from here to you.
    What a time of life. Conflicted is the best word I can come up with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really tough, isn't it, especially when the work fires are demanding and tend to burn on emotional fuel. Take care.

      Delete
  19. Isn't it a bear when life won't stop so we can focus on and attend to what really is important? I was glad to read that you mother wasn't too seriously injured, and seems to have retained her sense of humor. We'll be here to go through this process with you, at whatever level of sharing feels right for you.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...