Saturday, July 31

Somehow, life goes on.

Today is July 31, 2010. My 30th birthday is tomorrow. My Mom's (not 30th) birthday was Thursday.

I've been fighting a monstrous cold all week, even staying home from work a day and a half because I couldn't cough and breathe at the same time. You can pick up some super germs in a hospital, especially when not getting proper sleep or nutrition. (Did you know you can make a meal out of a Dunkin Donuts coffee and a can of Red Bull? Multiple times?)

A week ago today, we buried my Grandma. Omi. My Omi, who I never called Omi in front of my friends when I was a kid since it always seemed too difficult to explain that Omi is german for grandma.

Three days earlier, on Wednesday the 21st, we got a call on my Mom's cell phone at 2:15am that she was gone. We had been home and asleep for about four hours. She had been home for less than 12 hours.

Four days earlier, Tuesday the 20th, was a coordinated effort by my mom's entire family - all eight of us - and a few wonderful hospice nurses and EMTs to get her home in time. After thinking it wouldn't happen, she made it and woke up enough to realize where she was. She tried to say my name, and mouthed "I love you" when I repeated over and over that I loved her and I would miss her. (I hope I didn't make her sad.) It was all I could do to leave her side and get some sleep.

Three days earlier. Monday. Everything is so surreal. We keep hitting the extremes of emotions when Omi wakes up to eat or talk to us, and then falls back asleep and struggles to breathe. Her doctor recommends hospice. We are devastated, but agree it is the only reasonable course of action. I am so excited with every small thing she does, as if it will really make a difference at this point. She lets me feed her a half a cup of chicken broth and a few bites of Jello. It was the most liquid she had in over 24 hours. I buy her a yellow carnation in the hospital gift shop. When I go to show it to her, she opens her eyes and says "it's pretty". I put it on the windowsill of her hospital room, and then carefully move it everywhere she goes for the next few days. I consider putting it in her casket, but am not sure I want to part with it. She is moved up to the hospice floor in the afternoon. Sitting in the family meeting room with a hospice Chaplin I think once again "What in the world am I doing here?". Talked with my very awesome and understanding boss, and was told everything there would be taken care of for the week and not to worry about it. Stopped at Target by my parents house to buy underwear, socks, and a few t-shirts.

Five days earlier, Sunday July 18th. I am taking a class on hand carding fibers at the Midwest Folk Art and Fiber Fair. It moved to the Lake County Fairgrounds this year, which is only 15 minutes from my house. How convenient! It finishes at 12:30, and I am looking forward to walking around the booths and picking up a few things I saw while browsing the day before. I check my phone, which I had heard beeping the text messages while in class, and see a note from my husband that says "call me as soon as you are finished". Mom had called him and said to get down to the hospital ASAP. I had him pack a change of clothes for me just in case, but I don't really plan on missing work Monday.

Thursday, July 15th. Spoke with my Mom on the phone. Omi is in the hospital after a spell of anger and confusion related to her (apparently worsening) dementia. They give her some prescriptions that seem to help and plan on sending her home soon. Mom doesn't seem overly concerned so I don't give it too much extra worry.

I always lived close to my grandparents (Omi and Papa) growing up. For many years, I was at their house every single day. Even as I got older it was unusual to go more than a week without seeing them. This was completely normal to me - I never understand how kids at school didn't see their grandparents often.

So many of the things I love are things Omi loved and included me in. Cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, knitting, reading... I am so thankful to have those memories with her. I am so very very thankful that I was able to be with her during her last few days and make sure she knew how much I love her. It helps to override the thoughts of I should have called more, I should have visited more.

My head is starting to clear a little and I am becoming more able to live in reality. Or at least some sort of alternate reality where I occasionally wake up and remember that she is gone. I do have some goodies I bought at the Fiber Fair, which I want to photograph and write a little about.

Finally, I hope this isn't too depressing or morbid a post. I needed to get it out of my brain while still preserving the memories for a time when I might be able to better process them.

Thursday, July 8

The Fold

A few weeks ago, my Mom came up to spend the day with me while my Dad was at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle repair/maintenance/care/something(?) class in Milwaukee.

We drove out to The Fold - an amazing yarn shop in Marengo, IL. This is the shop I bought my spinning wheel from in January of last year. I needed a set of hand carders for a class I am taking at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair and well, we both needed yarn. Of course. Lucky for us, that Saturday happened to fall during their summer solstice sale, and everything in the store was 25% off.

Here is what I left with:

from The Fold

The small pile above shows how much restraint I had. They have literally walls of fiber for sale by the pound and shelves that look like library stacks of yarn.

Below is a close up of my new Schacht carders. I tried them out with a little bit of fiber and made what I can only call a rat's nest. Guess that class is a good investment!

my new hand carders

Wednesday, July 7

Fourth of July (Plus the last two weeks.)

We had a great little celebration last Sunday for Independence Day. For the first time in a week the skies were clear and the temperature was below boiling.

We had a BBQ picnic in my parents backyard, played outdoor games (ladderball, washers, football) until the sun went down, and then set off some (legal) fireworks. So much fun - except for being eaten alive by mosquitoes while trying to light fuses.

I was wearing sandals and have at least a dozen bites on each ankle. Every time I take a step now my shoes rub against them setting off the itch. Errrrg.

I haven't done much knitting since I finished my mittens a few weeks ago. What I have managed to do it royally f-up my sleep schedule (again). I thought I had it straightened out but when we didn't get home from my parents until 2am on the 5th I was back to square one. I was too wound up to sleep when we got home and only managed about 3 hours that night. I was of course tired during the day on Monday and decided to sleep as much as I felt like to "catch up".

Big mistake. Now I am stuck on a partially nocturnal schedule (again). Wide awake at night and exhausted during the day. I am trying so hard to keep myself going and awake after work but end up falling asleep on the couch because I am just. so. tried. And then of course, not tired enough to sleep at night.

As I've alluded to, this is about the 4th or 5th time I've done this to myself in 2010 alone. I've tried not napping during the day, setting alarms so I don't nap more than 20 minutes, loading up on caffeine, avoiding caffeine, strict bedtime routines, warm and cool showers, warm milk, white noise...

Does anyone have any advice? Something else to try? The frustrating thing about insomnia is that the advice you usually get is "just close your eyes and fall asleep". That's like trying to cure chronic depression by "smiling more". Believe me, neither works.

Huh. What a downer post this turned into! Here is a cat collage to try and salvage it, while maybe inducing some sleepy feelings.

Time Lapse of a Sleepy Cat