Monday, September 24, 2007

Joining M.A.

I've sat down just about every day this week with the intention of posting to this blog. But all that happens is that I stare for a while at the empty frame and then log out having found nothing to write. I have written in my journal but that's a whole other thing and you certainly shouldn't be subjected to it. This morning, however, I have found something to write about. I was inspired by Karen's post on Worst Mama Ever.

On Saturday I went out shopping. It was a serious trip. I started at Columbus Circle, walked all the way up to Columbia University and then back down to 85th Street. I really enjoy walking around New York though by the end my dogs were barkin'. Concrete is tough on the feets. On my way back down from 116th I passed my old hood, the place I spent the first 7 years of my life. After 30 years a lot has changed. There used to be a handball wall in the playground on Amsterdam between 97th and 98th. It had a fabulous graffiti tiger on it that seemed to leap out of the wall. And there was a pizza parlor that sold Italian ices in those little paper cups. There was also a Woolworth's. Do any of you remember Woolworth's? I loved it when I was a kid. It seemed to have everything including a lunch counter. I never got to eat there since my grandmother would have to have been starving before she ate at a lunch counter but it was great anyway. And I loved the sewing section, filled with ribbons and thread and patterns. I miss Woolworth's. It's kind of been replaced by the Duane Reade which carries everything from cold medicine to nail polish to cookies to light bulbs. But it just isn't the same. And there's no lunch counter.

I realized, as I was wallowing in nostalgia, that I've reached an age where I've started to really notice how things have changed-what's gone and what's new. Progress always brings loss with it as it grinds forward. I love being able to access all sorts of information on the web and I love being able to keep up with friends and family with the ease of email. But I miss real live letters and I hate cell phones. I really do. I think they are vile, nasty things that have attached themselves to our lives like parasites. Work has bled into our private lives and we have become incapable of waiting for anything.

I'm also appalled by the fact that I multi-task all the time. It has become so difficult to do just one thing. If I'm watching tv I do things during the commercials. If I'm surfing on the web I may have the tv on in the background or the radio so I can hear the news. I don't just cook dinner, I do computer work while I wait for water to boil or a pan to get hot. Being completely present for just one task has become very difficult. Silence has become deafening. I might be forced to contemplation and I certainly don't want that. I am also much more impatient than I used to be (not that I was ever the poster child for patience). A line of two people at the coffee bar is too long. Why, I might have to wait a 2 whole minutes. Interminable.

They do say that accepting that you have a problem is half the battle.

My name is Plaid Sheep and I am a multi-tasker.

There's only one thing for it. Cold turkey. At least at home. I don't think I could get away with it at work, there it's actually necessary. But when I 'm at home I will do just one thing at a time. We'll see how it goes. I should probably get a sponsor. Someone to talk me down when I have the urge to watch tv, surf the web, and make dinner while knitting a hat.

Friday, September 14, 2007

More News

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support. As you can imagine, I haven't felt much like blogging.

Ed and Beth have spent some time doing fun things like go-cart racing and skydiving. These are not exactly Beth's cup of tea but I think she'd happily sit and watch paint dry as long as they could do it together. But now the situation has deteriorated. They attempted to put a stent in his liver so the bile trapped there by the tumors could drain and stop causing jaundice. When they got inside they discovered the situation was worse than they thought. Time is now very short and the rest of us are planning to visit next weekend.

I suppose there is something to be said for having the time to put things in order and say goodbye to everyone. We've always had a good time together as a family and I hope that we can lift their spirits, if only just a little. Your last days should be filled with as much joy as possible.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

I had a post all planned for today. It was all about food. I had pictures lined up of purple beans and pancakes and dumplings. I was going to warn you not to read on an empty stomach.

But things have changed since yesterday. This morning I learned that my cousin's husband, Ed, has pancreatic cancer. And it is in stage four having spread to his liver. A week ago he had a stomach ache and now he's been given 8-12 weeks to live.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. It does not seem real somehow. I cannot imagine what my cousin Beth is feeling. (You may remember, she's the nurse who won the scholarship.) And then there's Ed's mother. She lost her husband some years ago, he was only 53 and we all thought that was way too young. Now her son will not reach his 50th birthday.

I want to provide some comfort but I have no idea what I can do. Also, I dread seeing Beth. She's always been so bright, as if she carried a light around inside her and I know that that light is probably out now.

And how quickly the past tense creeps in. I was thinking that he was one of my favorite in-laws. But that's not right. He is one of my favorite in-laws. We've always gotten along. We both like being right and we usually agree. He likes Mallomars so we always buy him a bunch at Christmas. They've got a serious shelf life so they last him until spring. I was thinking I could send him a box if I can find them. The nurses would probably object but if you can't eat junk food on your death bed...

And what must he be thinking? We've all wondered, haven't we? What we would do if we were given 6 months to live? Do you really go through all those stages of grief before you get to acceptance? Do you let them do what they can to prolong your life or do you reject that in favor of staying at home? I've spent time in a hospital and it no place to have your final moments on this Earth.

We're often advised to live each day as if it were our last. But that's so hard to sustain. So much of living is routine, slipping by as we deal with all the details of our modern lives. Then you get smacked in the face and find yourself thinking about the choices you've made and will make. I know that eventually the mind returns to the routine but I will try to use the questioning while it lasts, perhaps learn something about what it is that I truly need and value. Maybe I will manage to be more grateful each day, even in the midst of daily life. Perhaps that is all we can ask of ourselves, to be aware of life as it happens and to take a few moments every now and then to appreciate it before it's gone.