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Charlotte K Stewart

Writer, Reader, Knitter, Artist

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family

We Were Not Going to Decorate for Christmas

      Things have been kind of dark around here this holiday season. The day before Thanksgiving is when it became real that Mom might die, and we felt that was imminent. Ever since, we’ve been up and down, up and down… not wanting to get overly hopeful about how long she might stay alive, preparing for the worst in some ways. Obituary is drafted, burial plot is ready, funeral homes in our current and home states are ready… when the time comes.
      I wanted to put the tree up, but Dad did not. He’s always been a bit of a Grinch, as long as I can remember, anyway. He had said he wasn’t going to bring all that “crap” up from the basement just to turn around and put it away a few weeks later… And, everything has felt strange and dark. I love Christmas, but this past five weeks have been full of doubt, fear, darkness… Today, a small tree arrived via UPS. Thanks to one of my sisters, who lives in Florida. It is less than two feet tall, and it is quite lopsided, until it relaxes a bit. It smells good… it’s a conica spruce. One of the cats has adopted it as her own, already. After a day or two, I’ll throw the included decorations on it and call it good… it’s more than we’d planned to do this year. I’m allergic to real trees, actually. BUT, I don’t even care. I took some Benadryl and I smiled.
       Mom called me tonight, which was a nice surprise. I told her about the tree and sent her a few pics thanks to a smartphone making that simple. Maybe Christmas 2018 won’t be the darkest, ever.
      Thanks, “Patsy Cline.” xo

Doctor Appointment Today

So much has been going on with my mom, with my family, with the way I look at life and situations lately. We’ve been a complete rollercoaster, in terms of expecting that Mom will die, three times for sure over the past five weeks. Yes, tomorrow is FIVE weeks since we called 9-1-1 and since she went into the hospital. It’s been such a scary and tumultuous time, one of planning for the just in case she dies, or bracing for the oh no, she’s really going to die… to the praying that she is actually improving, to having setback and then a half step forward, then another major setback… it’s been exhausting. Plus, on top of it, along with my chronic conditions that will never improve, I’m sick now with a respiratory illness, and I have a dental problem… the hits keep coming, and I’m not handling anything well… that’s putting it mildly.

Last week, along with the ups and downs with Mom, I started feeling quite under the weather. I’d been coughing for more than a week, and over the counter stuff wasn’t making it better. Off to the urgent care I went, hoping they could help me. The doctor I got that day was one of the nicer and more thorough ones. He thought it’s viral, and kindly agreed that antibiotics (which have their place, but they are not my preference since they caused me massive complications a year and a half ago) would not be the ideal route. He gave me some Rx cough med and sent me on my way, as I assured him I already had an appointment with my regular physician today – four days after the urgent care visit.

The good thing is my doctor listened to me today. Some things that needed addressing after my last appointment have improved (shocking, given all that I’ve been dealing with). I told doc that some of my meds aren’t helping, so we’re working on that, too. She refilled some of my drugs, added one that we hope will help an issue with muscle spasms in one of my hands, and… after much going back and forth, she suggested I go back to a place I’ve been to in the past for some counseling. I am not all thrilled about that, for various reasons. But, I agree it’s a smart thing to at least go in and see if they’ll take my insurance (the main reason I stopped going, when my coverage changed and no longer paid for my appointments). I go tomorrow morning, and we’ll see what happens. I have had some times when it worked and others when it didn’t –  it kind of sucks to be told you can’t really be helped. No wonder people stop even trying.

I am going into it with a desire to get support through what’s a difficult time with my own health, my mom’s health, and my family as a whole. I want to believe the side effect will be feeling less overwhelmed and out of control about life in general… I know, it’s all about what I put in as to what I get out of it. The person I used to talk to is still there, and she was nice enough. She also had told me she was mostly a sounding board with no real solutions for me, which rang true… when someone’s health is in a horribly incurable and unchanging space, it’s hard to see how it might change or improve, and that can be frustrating for client and for counselor, I think. Anyway, it’s also good research for my stories which feature strong psychological aspects… odd perk? LOL

I have bronchitis, I have a lump on my arm (we’re keeping an eye on it), I have an appointment in March on what would be my grandmother’s birthday… and I am going to see about curling up with some tea and a book before heading to sleep before my appointment for counseling intake tomorrow.

 

 

My Mom is Dying

I’m having a hard time. This has been the worst Thanksgiving of my life.

Three of my sisters arrived today. Two drove from Florida with my 4-month-old nephew, the youngest sister flew in from North Dakota. There is too much to put here. My head and my heart can’t take what’s going on.

She’s ready to go, in a way. She’s 67. It seems so young. I’m not ready for my mom to leave. I still need her. I wish I could write more but I just can’t. Not yet.

I need prayers, good thoughts, superhuman energy and fortitude not just through her passing, but for the next several months. Losing her means Dad and I will need to move, which sounds okay.

It’s not. Because I need a new knee. Because I have extreme medical care of my own, and can’t lose the crummy excuse for insurance and yucky doctors I need to see regularly to keep existing, myself… I can be of little use to him with cleaning out the house, selling it, etc.

Please I need rest and focus and better health and… I need my mom to be okay but she’s not going to be.

Here’s a pic of the flowers my sisters sent before they knew they’d be coming to town:

Emotionally Drained, Physically Pained

No one really wants to hear what seems a long list of complaints, ailments, or what’s seen as whining. I get that. So, I’m not going to do that in this post. I just need to write and vent a little. Today was hard. It was not far off the usual, lately, as I was in unbearable physical pain. It’s standard when you have chronic illness and some major old injuries that never go away mixed with newer things occurring thanks to a combination of factors. Along with that nightmare, the pain that prevented me from moving around much early in the day, I had another batch of messes which were a lovely combo of my family members’ BS plus some things that came into play later in the afternoon.

I am opening up, exposing something I seldom do, even with other family members, and trying to work through what happened today. See, I’ve been raw the past few days already. And, today there was a reappearance of an old topic… an impasse between my father and me. I can’t get into the details. I can say, I made some confessions to my mom about things I’ve felt for years, due directly to things my father said (or yelled) at me. I don’t let those things go. I might, if they were things that didn’t continue to be repeated, or echoed, or hammered into my brain and my heart for the past 45 years. There are big fears I have which are NOT unfounded. They are real, based on things he has uttered or shown over time. I had the courage… finally… to tell her two major things today. I kind of really didn’t mean to… I’ve held onto them for quite some time.

What I don’t know is how this is going to play out. Things aren’t great with either of them, in terms of their health. There is a ton I wish I could be open about and I just can’t do it, at least not for now. I have so many issues and concerns.

On the outside, I try to be strong and bold, but there is part of me always timid and apprehensive, about some things. Again, not without solid reasons. My heart hurts, my soul is crushed, my brain is in overdrive. I can’t write, can’t relax or unwind, and can’t think of truly restful sleep. I wish my body wasn’t sick and broken so I could go for a walk, a run, a bike ride… I need some big changes that I am not able to even think of making. I had to get some of this out of my head so I can lie down and try to rest, as I have medical junk tomorrow (my own, and going to an appointment with my mother). I don’t know if I should be afraid or more comforted by some things she said to me this evening. It’s a true amalgamation of both, for the moment.

I know much of this is cryptic. Maybe one day I can explain it better, but… I am hoping it helps so tomorrow I can focus my brain enough to work on some writing as well as some preptober tasks.

I Am Alive

There are days that is all I can say. My whole past year has felt that way, more of the time than not. It was a bad week. I think things can’t get much worse, then they go ahead and veer off the rails. I would like to get into detail about it, yet I can’t do that. At least, I am not ready to do it.

The part I can share is my family is having a tough time, on top of my own stuff that’s going on. It isn’t one thing. It’s not even ten things. It is a non-stop flood of MASSIVE things. And, it’s too much. I don’t know how the family is getting by, on a daily basis.

I had a doctor appointment this week, which took several hours, and I lost it. I completely broke down and cried and vented for two solid hours. I wanted to curl up and hide, but after the close to four-hour long appointment, all I could do was go back to the family. Back to the situations I’m stuck within. Back to feeling like my body and my life are not moving or going anywhere. At least, not anywhere better. Everything is either stagnant or declining. That is how I have to leave it. I can barely type this. I just keep crying.

I am writing. I am doing nano, though I wasn’t sure I’d be able to even bother with that. It can be a good distraction, for a few 30-minute chunks a day. Will it ever lead to more? No idea. For now, it is getting me hour to hour, maybe day to day. Maybe to December 1st.

No Fighting Today

I have no energy, my pain is swallowing me whole. The family people around me treat me like an unwelcome stranger. 

My body hurts. My mind is reeling, but numb.

Today, depression and weakness win. I’m hiding out. Need things I can’t have. Feeling raw, sore, and desolate.

Back in a few days. 

Visit With My Favorite Aunt

As long as I can remember having a favorite aunt, it was her. Mary. She has one of those combination names, Mary___, one that she decided made her sound like an eternal ten-year-old. As soon as she left the house, and went to college, she started telling people to just call her Mary. Short, simple, still feminine. More grown up.

She’s everything I’m not. She’s pretty, I’m plain, bordering on downright ugly. She has a normal, petite nose, not the round thing I’ve got. We share pale skin and freckles, though hers has become more prone to tan over time, from exposure to the sun in Africa, Australia, and Central America. I’ve never been to other countries. She’s lived all over the world the past twenty-plus years.

I don’t see her often enough. In fact, I hadn’t seen her in three years. The time before that had been at my sister’s baby shower, in July 2007. It wasn’t my choice to go that long, to have less than a handful of visits within a decade, with the aunt closest to me in age, my favorite aunt, and the woman I’d say is my favorite living female adult in my family. She has lived all over the world since the mid-1990s. But, she grew up in a small town, the same town where I’d travel with my parents and siblings to visit the grandparents when we were kids. My mom and dad went to high school in neighboring towns, a river flowing between them, spanned by a little bridge, less than a city-block long.

My aunt’s mother, my grandmother, died when I was four months old. Grandma held me once, that I know of, and there is one photograph to prove it happened. Otherwise, anything I know of the woman is through stories, anecdotes. My dad doesn’t tell them, but others in the family have, or do, over time. There are fewer people alive to tell those stories, with dwindling numbers as the years pass. People who remember my grandmother are losing their great memories of important stories, they are vanishing, and they are dying.

She and my uncle have bought a home an hour from where I now live, close to his elderly parents. She went to college about a mile from the house they are moving into and making their own. My uncle is still working on the other side of the world, in a place at the center of much of the National evening news. He will be here for a visit in January, then back to the work location. He’ll be stateside to see my cousin, his son, graduate from college in May. Uncle will return to the remote work location again, once more, until he is supposed to return here, for good, by next Christmas. Plans could change, but that’s the rough idea, as of yesterday.

My aunt and I love horses. She used to let me walk with her from Grandpa’s house, a mile or so up the road, to the horse farm where we fed and brushed the horses and talked to them. She lifted me up and put me on a horse’s back the first time. She let me walk a horse around its small paddock, and nothing felt as freeing and wonderful to me in my life as the times I spent with horses. I no longer ride, though I wish I could.

Yesterday, sitting on the screened porch, sipping UNsweet tea, hearing stories about South Africa, groups of women learning to support their families by creating quilts and other handmade items with their hands, and listening to her plan a trip with my dad for family end-of-life business felt familiar in some ways and strange in others.

My aunt is still my favorite aunt. She’s no longer the teen-aged girl I want to be when I get to high school. She’s the ‘late, middle-aged’ woman I wish I could have become. The woman I wish I could become but know I never will…

I look forward to more visits with her, more time with her, getting to actually speak instead of observing and listening (because Dad did most of that yesterday). It’s important we get to do that before it’s too late.

 

The Cleanup After the Storm

I have family members who survived Hurricane Matthew. They did sustain some damage around their yards, a large tree came down, and at least one of the homes needs minor repairs. The most important thing is that all humans are alive and intact, as are the pets. Everyone is working on cleanup, and getting back into their daily routine. It will take a few days or weeks, but they are thankful to have survived the worse hurricane to hit the southeastern US in over a decade. I’m glad they’re okay, too. It’s nice they are all positive and hopeful. They help others out, as well, normally. That spirit of helping their neighbors, along with their communities, is part of how we were all raised. I’m not surprised when I hear in their tone that same sense of cooperation and willingness to come to the aid of people close to them in need.

I have not written yet today. That’s next on my list. I’ll read before I go to sleep. I still have the migraine. Could it please go away???

I watched NASCAR races and ran an errand this evening. We had one day of no A/C before someone turned the heat on. It’s too early for the heat, in my opinion, but it wasn’t my decision.

Up and Down Day

I still have this stupid migraine. I had to function, and also help someone with many tasks and errands. I am exhausted.

We managed to get my weekly bloodwork done, along with the monthly vet visit for the black cat checked off our list. We went to the pharmacy for a special order. It was Jimmy Johns for lunch, the library to return books, then home.

A friend sent me some new books through Amazon. It was a random act of kindness… she did it yesterday, told me to watch for packages and two books arrived today. Put a smile on my face. She said some more should arrive tomorrow. Wow! So nice of her.

Back out for more errands. Walmart was a nightmare, because there was a LARGE vehicle wreck, or something… still waiting for the investigation. More than a dozen cars were involved. Thankfully, the only injuries were minor.

There was family drama tonight. I can’t get into it. I’m upset.

The hurricane that is heading toward Florida is going to affect many of my family members and friends. I worry about them, but I also know that most of them have made plans or are preparing the best they can. I pray they all get through this safely.

The blanket I knit for my new baby niece has been complete since September 21st, the day the baby was born. It is now folded, wrapped, and going to its new home tomorrow. I hope my sister appreciates it, and hope my niece loves it as she gets older.

I’ll post pics after they have received and opened it. Early bedtime for me tonight. I’m too worn out and sore to focus on writing. I may read, if my eyes will stay open for a few chapters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flu Shots and Writing, with a Chance of Rain

When it’s dark and rainy outside first thing in the morning, I don’t want to go anywhere if it can be avoided. Least of all, when it’s for unpleasant things such as shots or medical appointments. Today was like this, which made me feel grumpy before I ever got out of bed. I could hear the rain on the roof, and my room was dark. I knew before pulling back a curtain to look that the outside world was dreary and uninviting. One of the first gloomy fall days in the area, as opposed to the pretty golden ones where you actually want to be out in the cool, comfortable air.

In fact, I curled up under my comforter and watched NASCAR practice before I decided if I would get in gear at all. I procrastinated as long as possible. Finally, I took a deep breath, pulled myself together, and made myself talk to the family member with whom I needed to run around town for a few hours.

We went to Walgreens first, to get our flu shots out of the way. The heat was on in the store, which made the store too freaking hot! It’s mid-60 range outside, which, for me, is JUST RIGHT. We were sweating inside the store, without our jackets or sweatshirts on. I had short sleeves, to make getting the shot a little easier. And, after waiting for almost an hour, actually getting the shot was the easiest (and nearly painless) part. We signed our forms, had our shots, and bought a few small items to prevent having to stop at another store. Next, the post office. We mailed off a few things, which was quick and painless. And, I had some materials to return to the public library. I borrowed two new audio books. I find they are fun to listen to while I knit, since it leaves my hands free for working my yarn project.

We picked up lunch, returned home and I survived the dark, mostly miserable, morning.

I get to relax at home for a bit longer before we head back out. We plan to go out later this evening to sit at Panera and write.

Good thing is, the rain has subsided here for now, and sun is breaking through the black clouds.

 

 

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