Beauty

My DadI want to write about what happened this weekend. But I just can’t. Not really. Not yet.

If you don’t already know, my Dad died on Saturday. He had stage 4 small cell lung cancer. We found out he was ill in February. It was very fast. Too fast.

Here is what we posted on Dad’s Facebook page:

3/24/2012 – We are sorry to report that Walter Maheux passed away peacefully this evening at 8:10 p.m. surrounded by family at his home in Westbrook.

Last night he a moment of clarity, also surrounded by his loved ones, and he told us, “Don’t think I don’t notice all the angels around me. Family, that’s what’s important.” and “I love you all.”

We were blessed to have Walter/Dad/Uncle/Friend in our lives. Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. Love to you all ~ Lanna, Dottie, Billy, and Edmund.

It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I haven’t broken down. I’ve cried, but I fear a melt-down may be in order. And that’s okay. Dad deserves a melt-down or two. He wouldn’t want us to be unhappy, but tough.

Vigil

We are sitting in vigil with Dad. He seems to be in some distress, and we’ve started giving him more medications. This might be it, or not. We aren’t sure. Instead of taking things a day at a time, we’re going on an hour at a time. We’ve all been assured that this is a natural progression of dying. Whatever.

We’re still moving Mom and Dad to the mobile home tomorrow. Dad would want us to do it because he’d want Mom to be all set. It’s just another glorious day in suck city!

Aunt Barbara and Cousin Suzy are here with us. We’re all going to have a slumber party with Dad tonight. Bill’s going to go up and sleep in Mom’s room, he’s running this rodeo tomorrow and will need the rest.

I must say, in spite of what is going on, we are fairly upbeat. Having Suzy here is a big help, she’s a firecracker and helps lighten the mood. And she laughs at all the wrong jokes Bill and I tell – and then she makes her own.

My Grumps, My Grumps, My lovely lady grumps

My Grumps, My Grumps, My lovely lady grumps

It's a big schnozz, but I like it anywayThis picture is of me in a better mood. You will thank me for not snapping a self-portrait right now. For I am grumpy. Oh, so grumpy.

I probably just need some sleep. But this whole thing we are going through really sucks. And my positivity has taken a nap (a dirt nap, if you will.) [gallows humor. gotta love it.]

So I be grumpy and whatnot and you can’t stop me.

BTW: The internet is made of cats.

[Okay, now I’m slightly less grumpy.]

Brat

Brat

BillThis is my brother Bill. I took this picture of him, and it very well captures his smart assery. We call each other Brat. It’s a term of endearment. I don’t talk about him much here because I think he would hate it. Well, I’ll find out now. Cause I’m gonna talk about him.

My immediate family is very close. Me, Dad, Mom and Bill. We might not talk every day, or see each other a lot, but every once in a while we’ll get together to get a dose of family.

Things have changed a bit since Edmund and I moved back to Maine, now I have a long-standing weekly dinner-date with my parents. And more change since Dad got sick, we’ve either seen or talked to each other every day.

So while I look all fancy because I talk about it on my blag, just how much time I’m spending with my parents, blah blah blah. I want to be clear that Bill is just as awesome, if not more so. When Dad was in the hospital, Bill took a week off from work and helped Mom out at the house so she’d feel comfortable staying overnight with Dad. [Keeping the wood fire burning, watching the dogs.] This week, Bill took more time off at work so he could come down here and help my Mom get the new place ready for the move (which we are doing on Saturday), furthermore, he’s coordinating the move. Getting a tractor trailer, a driver for it, making sure that we have smooth sailing on move day. He’s arriving tomorrow.

If there was one thing our parents taught us, by their actions, is that part of life is just showing up. And Bill has done that in spades. He lives 2 hours away and the first week Dad was sick, he drove down and back twice. He has been down every weekend, and if he’s not down here, he calls Mom and/or me every day.

I see so much of my father in him. Fixing things. Making sure my Mom has everything she needs. Making sure I have a working blinker on my car. Taking care of Dad (better than me) with such love. Trying to maintain a sense of humor about this whole thing. And being there.

Last Saturday I told Bill, “Well, it could be worse.”

He looks at me, half smiles, cocks his eyebrow and says, “How?”

I didn’t have an answer.

——————
And ladies, yes, he is single. So if you have a hankering for a shy, smart-assed blue collar dude, he might be your guy. If you’re good enough for him, that is.

Super Trooper

Super Trooper

Mom with a Frosty BeverageMy Mom is the best one. The super best Mom ever. Don’t get me wrong, she’s no push-over, & she is intimately familiar with how to administer tough love. But when you’re sick, her mom-mommy-ness goes in full force. She’ll bring you things. Pat your head. She makes you feel better. She is so good at the nursing part of mothering that, when sick, I didn’t stop calling for my mother until I was in my 30s.

Now Dad is sick. And she is right there, getting him to do things and helping him feel better. There may come a time where his care might become too much for her, and we have a plan in place for that contingency, but right now Dad is at home where we all want him to be, getting the best care he can get.

Mom and DadMy parents have always had a close marriage. They are best friends, lovers, and partners in crime, and if you were to look for a relationship to emulate, you couldn’t do much better. They complement each other, and back each other up. They communicate well. Very well. When I was a kid, my parents would sit in the kitchen after dinner and talk. Sometimes for hours. In their later years, they talked in the morning. Up until Dad went in the hospital.

Mom and Dad have been married 45 years, and they were looking forward to going many more. So, while Dad’s illness has been a big blow, it has been devastating for my Mom. But she has been putting her “big girl panties” on, and fighting the good fight. Packing her house up to move, tending to Dad, keeping lines of communication open with our extended family. Right now her focus is Dad and his care.

I give Mom props. For her loving and understanding care of my Dad. For stepping outside of her comfort zone and taking care of things that Dad used to do. And, most of all, for keeping a sense of humor throughout all of this.

Checking Out

Checking Out

DadWhat a difference a week makes. A few days, even. It seems like my Dad is checking out. And that kills me.

The week has gone from where we could feel comfortable leaving him alone, to now, where we can’t. He’s more confused. His motor skills are failing. He doesn’t talk to us.

Just another glorious day in suck city.

He’s still eating, tho. Tonight we fed him some Poutine; he scarfed that right up. Then Bill put a bowl of ice cream in front of him. While eating it, Dad dropped a bit of ice cream on the floor. Bill and I watched him put down the ice cream bowl, use the spoon to scoop that ice cream up and put right in his mouth. [“Don’t get no better,” my Dad would’ve said.] Later, Bill put some mini eclairs and cream puffs in front of Dad; they were eaten in seconds.

We also watched as he almost dropped his glass of water, that he was holding by the handle, spilling water all over himself and his bed. We got the bed changed, but he refused to let us (or Bill) help him change his pajamas. Mom was in bed, we forced her to get a good night sleep. I figured wet pajamas wouldn’t kill him.

One of the things Mom has been saying is that she didn’t want to “lose him before I lose him.” And here it’s happening. He’s going away without us. And it’s breaking our hearts.

It is what it is. I hope that we can keep our senses of humor throughout. Find funny things to laugh at. You can’t beat some good gallows humor. So far so good. And if we burst into tears at times, well, that’s part of the journey.

Bucket List

Bucket List

Dad the Chef

Dad the Chef - Photo by Betty-Jean Bennett

It seems like every thing on Dad’s bucket list is food.

Last Saturday my brother Bill and I conspired to make one item from Dad’s bucket list – French Dip. We made enough for an army (in fact, there was plenty left over for leftovers the next day.) Today Dad told Mom he wanted some Chinese food (Sesame chicken and Pork Fried Rice.) On Friday Bill and I will be coordinating the acquisition of Poutine [From The Frog and Turtle, natch].

Dad has a basket attached to his walker so he can put food in it. He has a passion for ice cream, he’ll pile up a small bowl, put it in the basket and walk it right back to his hospital bed. When I visited tonight, Dad had a sleeve of Oreo cookies and a glass of milk. Mom was getting ready to go to the store for yogurt and he put in a request for vanilla and chocolate pudding. Mom says he’s eating a lot. And that’s a good thing.

As far as bucket lists go, fantasizing about delicious food-stuffs is not a bad way to amuse oneself. It shows my Dad has few regrets.

Good Day

Good Day

Stick a fork in me, I’m done. But, damn, that was a pretty good day.

Got up this morning whilst cursing daylight savings time; went to my parent’s house. My Dad was at the kitchen table directing the cooking of donuts. {Don’t get no better.} Mom, Bill, cousin Jim and I went to check out a trailer Mom wants to buy. She put an offer on it.

Got back to my parent’s house, Carl and his wife Jen (one of Bill’s best friends) were chilling with Dad and Tracy and Maygen (Jim’s wife and daughter). More donuts were being made. Dad’s friend Dave and his wife Cheryl came over next. Then Edmund came over. [This was after a full day of visitors yesterday, been a great weekend for visits!]

To cover all the bases, Mom, Tracy and I went to look at a small rental house in Westbrook. Nah.

We made up the rest of the French Dip sandwiches Bill and I conspired to make for Saturday There was not enough meat for everyone, so me, Tracy and Maygen opted to go out to eat. But first I got a call, and as a result we (Me, Mom, Billy, Jimmy, Tracy & Maygen) went to look at a different trailer. Mom liked that one too.

HelloWhile we were gone, Edmund met Dave and Cheryl over at the ARL to pick up Gus! [Yay!] They live on a farm in the Dexter area, now Gus will have plenty of space to play, lots of doggy friends and he’ll have a good time. Dad opted not to see Gus before he went up north, but Dad was very glad to hear that Gus was finally settled. So were we.

When we got back from looking at the second trailer, Tracy, Maygen and I were so hungry. But first Billy and Jimmy had to take out my tail light and Bill’s headlight so we could go to the auto parts store to buy new ones. On the way to the store, we stopped at Dairy Queen in Westbrook and got food and ice cream. MMMMMMM. Lunch and dinner at the same time!

We got the lights. While waiting for Billy and Jimmy to replace them, we hung out with Dad in the living room. He went out to the bathroom. On his way back he stopped off in the kitchen to get some (more) ice cream. Mom put a basket on his walker just so he could bring ice cream back into the living room (where his hospital bed is set up.)

It don’t get no better, he says.

Looking pretty much like Mom is going to buy a trailer. If we can get that done in the next week or so, she’ll be all set. All she will have to do now is pack and move.

Vlog about the State of Me

I would’ve call this post feeling my feelings (after the vlog posted below) but I might want to write an actual post about feeling my feelings, so I called this something different. Note: this is not a blag post about feeling my feelings, this is me talking about what is going on and feeling my feelings.

I think it came out okay. Well enough. It’s not my typical vlog in that it’s not as happy go lucky as usual. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know why. (There are blessings with the sadness.)

Wherein I talk about my Dad & Feeling my Feelings:

Heartbreaking

Heartbreaking

My heart is breaking. I can’t really write about it. But I will.

Yesterday Dad came home from the hospital (he’s doing great, overall. Scheming for more food.)

Before he came home, Dad asked Edmund to take his dog, Gus, to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook (ARL).

Gus was Dad’s pal, his buddy, and Gus went everywhere with Dad. Dad loves Gus. Hell, we ALL love Gus. He’s a fantastic dog. He’s a good boy.

Goofy GusThe thing is, as a Dalmatian mix, Gus needs lots of attention and needs to be exercised every day. My Dad’s life revolved around it. Every day, sometimes more than once they’d go up to the mill and let Gus run around for a bit. In fact, Gus went with Dad everywhere. Whenever my Dad ran errands he’d say, “Well, me and Gus” went here and “me and Gus” went there.

Gus was a rescue dog that Dad adopted in 2006, after Mom & Dad’s dog Grace passed away. When he was adopted, Gus was a handful. Very rambunctious. He was still a puppy, one year old, and he didn’t have a great starter family. Through a lot of patience, care and love, my parents stuck it out with Gus until they got a system that worked for all three of them.

Now, almost in a flash, Dad can’t drive any more, and Mom has enough to handle with taking care of Dad. So Dad decided that the best thing for everyone would be to have Gus go to the ARL.

HelloEdmund and I really wanted to take Gus. We just couldn’t. We live in an apartment and have crazy-ass schedules and although we might have found a way to make it work, we don’t really have a life-style suited toward dog stewardship. Cats yes, but dogs no. And that’s without going through the hurdle of asking our landlord if it was okay if we added a eighty pound dog to our mix [along with the two cats. And need I mention that we live above our landlord?] We want to have a dog, some day. Just not now.

My brother Bill has one high-maintenance dog already, he doesn’t need another one.

I know now why Dad asked Edmund to take Gus to the Animal Refuge League: no one else could have. Bill told me that if Dad asked him to do it, Bill would be the proud owner of two dogs. I am not sure Mom could’ve brought herself to do it without breaking down.

Gus and the BoneI think that Dad wanted it done before he came home because he couldn’t bear to say good bye. And that breaks my heart the most.

I am heartened. When Edmund brought Gus to the ARL he was assured, based on Gus’ temperament that he would sure to be adopted out. He’s a great dog who deserves a loving and active family. And overall, this will be the best thing for Gus. Because he’s a good boy. A very good boy.

When I see his notice on the ARL page I will share it with my social networks.

Not so happy go lucky

We got the results from Dad’s biopsy back today. Not good. He has small cell cancer, which grows fast. They did not give him much time.

Which was, of course, our hope. That we would have some time with him. A few months, a year maybe. But it’s not to be.

Sometimes it’s hard to see a silver lining. Or the blessing.

So I guess the blessing is this: that we DO have time with him. That, in spite of his plans, he did not “drop dead.” He is still here, with us, and he’s still making jokes. And we can say good-bye.

Maybe it can be like those phone calls when you are a teen: “You say good-bye.” “No, you.” “No, you say it.” “You say good-bye.”

I’m not going to say it. Not for a hundred years.

Tired

Good and bad day. Worked from home then went to the hospital to see Dad in the afternoon. He had his third day of radiation and, although he was not affected by it earlier, he had nausea and vomiting today and not up for much talking. We hung out in the next room and checked up on him every now and again.

Dad’s sister Millie came in from California today. She arrived at about dinner time. Dad rallied for a moment to say hi, but then he went back to sleep. Mom didn’t want to leave him so Millie, Bill Edmund, and I went out to dinner to J’s Oyster bar. We had a nice time and Millie picked up the tab. (Very sweet of her.)

Hoping to get up early and catch Dad before he gets radiation tomorrow.

Blessings

Blessings

The PatientIf you follow this blag, you’ll already know my Dad, Walter Maheux, is in the hospital right now. He’s got a large tumor in one lung, and spots in his lungs, liver, lymph nodes and brain. He also had pneumonia, but I think that’s almost over.

Let me be frank: this is it. This is his swan song. I’m not sure he can recover from this.

But I have hope. And there are blessings. And in many ways my brother (Bill), mother (Dottie), and I feel like we’re lucky. Because now I think we can have some good time with my Dad. What they call quality time.

My blessings, let me show you them:

  • It is a blessing that, when my father was driving erratically with my mother and dogs in the truck, no one was hurt. Not even the truck.
  • It is a blessing that my mother convinced my father to stop driving and go to the doctors to find out what was happening.
  • It is a blessing that the physician’s assistant ordered an x-ray for my father.
  • It is a blessing that the doctor called my Mom the next day and asked them to go into the doctor’s office.
  • It is a blessing that my mother saw my father cough up and vomit blood.
  • It is a blessing that my father coughed up and vomited blood at the doctor’s office and they sent him directly (do not pass go) to the emergency room.
  • It is a blessing that my brother and I both work at places that let us leave work immediately so we could meet our parents at the hospital.
  • It is a blessing too that our places of work also gave us both time away to spend supporting my Mom and Dad as well as to help come to grips with what was happening.
  • It is a blessing that I have a husband (Edmund) who is ready with hugs, jokes and love whenever I need it.
  • It is a blessing that Edmund doesn’t mind letting the dogs out so we can stay at the hospital.
  • It is a blessing that we all have wicked senses of humor and try to find something to laugh about at every opportunity.
  • It is a blessing that once we got the word out about Dad’s illness, he had visits from friends and relatives right away with more coming.
  • It is a blessing that the staff at the Maine Medical Center is caring for us all with compassion, tact and a bit of humor.
  • It is a blessing that we have a tool like Facebook that we can use to keep our extended families informed about Dad’s progress and prognoses.

And the biggest blessing is that my father looks and acts like he is feeling the best he has in months. This gives me the most hope of all.

Thank Someone it’s Friday

My father was scheduled to have a biopsy today. It was postponed until Monday because we were concerned about excessive bleeding (he is being weaned off of a blood thinner right now.)

Every time I think of the biopsy, I think of this scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Andrea Martin* talks about her “bobopsy”.

And I chuckle.

——————–
*Hey, Andrea Martin is from Portland, Maine! That’s cool.

Another Day. More Cheering needed.

Well, I can say it now. My Dad is sick, lung cancer which has spread to other parts of his body: his liver, lymph nodes and his brain. My mom, brother and I have been at Maine Med for the past couple of days with Dad. Edmund has been a great support while making sure the dogs were taken care of, which takes a load off my mother’s mind.

We do not have a full prognosis yet, the next step is a biopsy of the tumor in his lung. Therefore, we’re still waiting to see if there is a suggested treatment. Whether or not Dad would want to do treatment, we don’t really know.

Tonight, when I came home from the hospital, I watched some YouTube videos. They made me laugh and feel better. So now I share them with you.

Theresa Davis is your rock star poet:

An Engineer’s Guide to Cats:

And some Star Trek mashups.

You spin me Round:

Too Sexy:

Tik Tok:

Well, I feel better.