Friday, September 10, 2010

Some are silver and the other gold

Once again, it is 5:00 am and I am just now getting around to typing and posting an update for Thursday, September 9. As my mother always tells me, I have my days and nights mixed feels like Thursday night to me instead of Friday early morning. I guess some things never change.

My thoughts have been swirling, and today I am not certain where to begin. I want to talk about the kids and our day and how my mother is doing, but my thoughts keep moving back to friendship, and I have this need to "wax philosophic" for a moment. As we have been going through this nightmare, it has become evident that we are truly blessed to be surrounded by wonderful friends. My mom has a core group of true, lifelong friends that have been our mainstay throughout this nightmare, and I will forever be grateful. Her more "recent" friends are ones she has known 35+ years (or perhaps some only 15-25 years while she has been working at Montgomery College). Amazing, isn't it? I've thought about how some of those friends came in and out of our lives over the years, but many have been a constant. Not everyone in this world is lucky enough to have friends like that, and many of my lifelong friends are because of my mom's friendships.

While I have many good (and even long-term) friends, I have one lifelong friend who is all "mine," not just a family friend, or someone I met through school or my youth group. There really hasn't been a time we haven't known each other. We have been terrible about keeping in touch over the years, but she is always there in the back of my mind, and we have a way of floating in and out of each other's lives. I think about her during every major life event, even when she hasn't been there. Every time I go to my parents' house, I smile when I drive by the house where she grew up, and I think of our one big fight and laugh when I look at the tree on the corner and remember a time when a tire swing hung there.

I've been thinking about her so much over the past few months, wanting to talk to her, but not really sure how to call or what to say. I even "friended" her father on Facebook (can you believe I couldn't find HER on Facebook!) a week ago, hoping perhaps he'd see what was going on and pass it along to her for me. But today, without even knowing my mom was sick, she felt an overwhelming urge to track me down again and reach out. I think perhaps our connection is so strong that she knew I needed to hear from her. We've always had the kind of friendship that years could pass without contact, but when we are together, nothing has changed between us. Her message to me was simple: "I miss you! Would love to hear how you are and what you are up to." It was perhaps one of the best messages I've received throughout this process, so thank you, Biz, for finding me now when I really need you.

This morning (well, yesterday morning at this point), I posted my update and went upstairs to take a nap around 6:30 am, as has been my routine for the past few weeks. The kids woke up a bit later at 8:50, the babysitter arrived at 9, and DH got ready to go to services. It is Rosh Hashana, and for so many reasons, I decided not to attend services this year. Some are silly...I have nothing to wear since I just had a baby 2 months ago, and it has been almost 3 years since I've been not pregnant, not breastfeeding and a stable weight. I also did not feel like trying to manage a baby during services (Micah was a handful last year). Originally, my father planned to attend services with DH while I went up to the hospital to spend the late morning with my mother. When we learned that they were doing her wheelchair seating and positioning evaluation at 10:00 am, my father decided to skip services and go to the hospital instead.

While my father was there, it dawned on me that it was a good time to take a morning at home. We were planning a big dinner, Micah was coming with us, and I knew we would all be together until late. Suddenly, my urgency was gone, and I decided to let the morning unfold. I nursed the baby, I played with Micah, I assembled our things for dinner, coordinated food pickup with my cousin, and I even cleared a few things from the DVR. I responded to a couple of important emails (in case the hospital family housing doesn't work out, my brother has been looking into corporate housing options for us near the hospital, and put me in touch with someone to try and figure out our options). Micah was funny...he was asking for some food, and the babysitter said to him "Say 'please.'" As is appropriate, Micah responded and said, "say peas." I still planned to get in the car by 11:30 or so to head for the hospital.

My niece, Paige, will be celebrating her 4th birthday on September 10th (technically today, since my updates are 24 hours delayed). We decided to combine our family celebration of her birthday with our Rosh Hashana dinner. For many years, I've been the official "cake baker/decorator" for the family, but my SIL did not want to put any pressure on me to make a cake during all this mess. DH and I discussed it, and he decided he could bake the cake while I was out the other night, so we told SIL NOT to pick up a store-bought cake for Paige, that we would take care of it.

Initially, I did not think I would have the patience or energy to decorate the cake. I thought maybe I'd simply ice it and write "Happy Birthday" and call it a day. I spoke to SIL and learned that Paige would love a Spongebob cake, so I thought that maybe I could use my edible image printer and do something simple for her. This morning, I went to check out the printer, but it was all clogged up from lack of use. I didn't have the patience to try to clear it out right now, so I decided not to bother. As I sat and looked at the cake, I kept thinking..."Spongebob isn't that complicated, I bet I could decorate this cake in an hour or two if the kids cooperate."

Next thing I know, I'm mixing up icing, pulling the fondant out of the fridge, and reviewing decorating ideas on my favorite cake website. Maya was snoozing quietly in the swing, and the babysitter was trying to keep Micah entertained. I called SIL again, because I realized that, in all this chaos, I hadn't even thought about buying Paige a birthday gift, either. She gave me a few ideas, and while I fretted about how I was going to get a present, my babysitter offered to take Micah out to the toy store to pick it up for me. How amazing is that? Although I briefly felt like one of those people who send their assistants to go get a gift because they can't be bothered, I quickly realized it was the only way. I'm loving my babysitter more and more every day - she has been incredible throughout this process.

While they were out, I managed to finish decorating the cake (while entertaining a few phone calls, including some wonderful news from a good friend). For once in my life, I have to say I was really pleased with how the cake turned out, and my niece loved it!

I didn't manage to get out the door until almost 2:00. Much later than I had planned, but worth it. I arrived at the hospital to find my mom laying in bed. My father said she had been having a good day, and had even taken a few steps using the parallel bars in physical therapy! I wish I'd been there to see that. We also have my brother to thank for his role in that...they wanted my mom to wear a plastic support on her left leg, but we couldn't get it to fit in her shoes. I sent a request to my brother to find her some sneakers big enough to work, and he showed up at the hospital the other day with 3 different sizes of sneakers! We found the perfect size that fit with her leg support, and it is definitely making therapy a bit easier for my mom.

I thought my mom was looking very sleepy again, which definitely worries me. She hasn't been eating all that well the past few days, either. My mom and I chatted, and I read her yesterday's blog and all of her messages. We had a guy come in to set something up for my mom, and he wouldn't stop talking! Every time I started to read to my mom, he started chatting again. My mom and I were laughing because we couldn't get him to stop talking. Maya got a bit fussy, so I stepped out for a bit to allow my mom time to sleep. My brother showed up around 4:30, and we hung out waiting for everyone else to arrive. SIL and the girls were running a bit late, and DH and Micah were running even later. Traffic was horrible, and DH also had to stop to pick up a kugel, apples and honey, a challah and apple cake from my cousin for our dinner tonight.

DH and Micah finally arrived around 6, and we brought my mom down to the family dining room that they had reserved just for us. We all sat down together and ate brisket (my mom said it was perfect and it tasted just like hers!), turkey, kugel, challah, and apples and honey. In case you were wondering, the apples and honey are for a sweet new year. My mom seemed to have a decent appetite, so that was good. We topped off dinner with some apple cake and birthday cake, and we shared the birthday cake with the nurses on the floor.

My mom was tired after dinner and asked to head back to her room. Before she went back to her room, the chaplain showed up to blow the shofar! The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of Rosh Hashana is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. The shofar is meant as an awakening from slumber, an alert to the coming judgment. Many also think of it as a call to worship. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day of services. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of 9 short, staccato notes; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts 10 seconds minimum (and in most synagogues, the final tekiah gedolah is quite a show - the shofar blower does everything possible to hold that note for as long as he or she can). It was actually wonderful for us to hear it (my mother said it was beautiful), and the kids thought it was a lot of fun.

We said our goodbyes, rounded up the kids, and left my dad to stay behind with her a bit longer. It was a good day, but it was emotionally a bit tough. My brother seemed a bit broken up at a few points (although I think I wasn't supposed to notice that), and SIL got a little teary after a heart-to-heart with my mom - I think their conversation was very similar to the one I had with my mom yesterday. During dinner, my mom turned to me and told me that I would have to do all the cooking now for family events, and that brought a few tears to my eyes. Thank goodness she taught me how to make blintzes years ago, right?

We made it home safe and sound, got the kids to bed, and tried to clean up, put the food away, and prepare for tomorrow. My dad plans to come down and go to services with DH in the morning. I still haven't decided if I will head over there or not, but I think I'd rather take Maya and head up to visit my mom a little early so I can be home in time for dinner.

So...the snap shot update for the day: my mom tried walking, she is holding steady in her recovery, we had a wonderful dinner, and now we are planning to try an "old-fashioned" break fast at the hospital next week. We have the family dining room and lounge reserved, and we just discovered a HUGE courtyard on the floor for patient/family use that will be great for all the kids to use if the tumult in the family room gets to be too much, or if the kids just need to run. We haven't been able to break fast this way in years, and I know what an effort it is for everyone to try and make this happen...but I'm so thankful that we are all going to try.

By the way, one story I forgot to share yesterday. The other day I was in the elevator, and a hospital employee was telling me how adorable Maya is. She then asked me what size clothing she wears, and mentioned she had an extra outfit in her office for a baby girl. She asked me where I would be at the hospital, and I told her I'd be on the rehab floor with my mother. Well, much to my surprise, yesterday she showed up with a beautiful outfit for Maya! I'm constantly amazed by the generosity of strangers.

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