Posts Tagged With: nursing

A Dozen White Roses

A Dozen White Roses

A dozen white roses always marked a special occasion for Mom.

(This post is written in Bill’s voice)

They surrounded her in life – and they surrounded her in the life here-after: white roses.

No matter what the occasion, Paula loved white roses. I would always pretend to cringe at the cost of them – but that was part of the game. And what made the cheese more binding was that Stacey, my daughter, would always order them “arranged” and “delivered”.

On her birthday, in particular, Paula anticipated those roses and we all enjoyed the roses for weeks afterwards. This Wednesday would have been Paula’s birthday… I won’t tell you her age as she would have thought that to be impolite. She was as beautiful on the day she died as she was the first time I met her. She was stunning. She would often tell me the story about when she was 16 and was told she was the ugly duckling of the family. You know the story – the ugly duckling didn’t fit in with it’s family – and then realized it was actually a beautiful swan. That was Paula. My Paula – the swan.

Roses were so appropriate for her as they were so strong, yet delicate. Their aroma filled the air to the extent that one could not help but breathe in a deeply. I always pretended to not be impressed with them – you know, I’m the cheap old bugger… she’d giggle. White was the colour of her life – Paula was a nurse. She took great pride in this profession and the care she took tending to her patients was reflected in the way she’d care for the nurses uniform itself. She was quite to remark on any nurse that looked sloppy and unprofessional. Her cap was crisp, meticulously ironed, and she looked fine in it. The uniform itself was always white – rose white.

My Paula left this good earth to a better address nearly three years ago and she has been surrounded by roses ever since. I’ve just never had to have them delivered!

(Stacey’s voice) You are remembered, Mom. And you are always loved.

Categories: Mom | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

I am Larger Than a Bread Basket… What Am I?

I Am Smaller Than a Breadbox

The “Vase” that stopped a million deaths…

I am larger than a shoe box, but smaller than a piano.

I can hold enough liquid to nourish a giant.

I am blue.

I have a base.

I am “open” at the top.

My lip is smooth.

I am larger in my middle than anyplace else.

I was a gift.

What am I?

If you guessed a giant brandy snifter from the 1960s – you know the decorative ones that you hated as a kid but parents seemed to love – you are right!

I emptied the pot pourri that Mom had had in it for the past 10 years in total.  There was likely a bit of the smelly mixture from 3 years ago, mixed with some from 4 years ago, mixed with some from 10 years ago.  There was no scent left – but she thought it looked pretty.

I washed the vessel carefully.  This startled me – that I was so careful.  My entire life I’ve hated this thing.  It had been the source of angst for me for years as I encouraged Mom to, “get rid of that ugly thing”.  And yet – there I was being so careful.  It’s entire fate was in my hands – is in my hands and I cannot believe that I am treated it so … yes, carefully.

Mom always loved it.  I’m not sure she loved it because of it’s beauty – really, who could love it?  I think she loved it because it was a gift from the people she worked with and loved at the Simcoe Medical Group.  It was a gift to say, “good-bye” to her when she “retired” from nursing.  I parenthesized nursing because she actually never retired  and was often back in the office filling in for nurses that went on holidays or were ill.  She loved these people.  They had grown up with her – and it was these women who also claimed to have trained all the new “green” doctors who, at that time, were just beginning their careers.

I turned the thing upside down to dry and stared at it.  Like the Pier One Import commercial, the stupid thing seemed to speak to me.

“Stacey, I have so many stories to tell you.  I have been in your life for so long – just sitting and observing.  I watched as your Dad received news about the death of his Dad… I watched as your parents received news about the birth of their first grand-daughter, Megan, then JJ, then Ben, then Katya, and then David.  I watched as your Mom and Dad celebrated with their friends during summer swims, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day.  When we moved to the condo I was moved to the bedroom where I saw as your Dad rose in the morning and retired at night.  I watched as your Mom nursed him back to health from pneumonia, from his stroke, from his hip surgery, and then throughout his Parkinson’s.  I was there, Stacey.  I am a part of their lives.  Finally, I watched as your Dad took his final breath.  I was with you – and I’m with you now.”

Okay – so the Pier One Import commercial may not have their things speaking exactly that intimately – but, crap, that ugly blue bowl suddenly became important to me.  It got to me.  It is staring at me right now as it dries upside down in the sink.

What do I do with it?  How can I dispose of this “treasure” that Mom loved so much?  It’s big and it’s blue!!!!  For Heaven’s sake.  Do I put it beside the samovar – or the type-writer or Dad’s straw hat?

Good grief.

I am larger than a bread – basket but smaller than a piano.

I am sometimes blue with grief and sometimes red with anger.

My main role in this family is “Mom” and to my husband I am “wife”.

I have a heart larger than life and a memory shorter than a snail is fast.

What am I?

…A sucker for sentiment.

Categories: Life After Dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Janine

I could not bring myself to turn around.

I don’t know why.

She was there.

She was there for me.

She was there for us.

Janine.  My colleague, my friend, my angel.

I was at school on Friday, preparing for the up-coming school year and I heard her voice – her laughter – in the front office.

Janine.  So happy.  So loving.

I just couldn’t turn around.  There was too much to say to her that could not be said in the hustle and bustle of that place.

She supported me throughout the entire decline of both Mom and Dad.  “Stacey, if your father wants to eat his meat in whole pieces because he enjoys the texture – it is not up to you to tell him otherwise.”

Another tidbit of wisdom, “Stacey your parents have been making decisions about their lives long before you came along – it is not up to you to take over their decisions now.”.

Janine gave me back my childhood.  Thanks to her I became a daughter again.

And I remained a daughter throughout the entire two days of Dad’s final moments.

Thanks to Janine, my Dad had wonderful quality of life and wonderful quality of death (if that’s possible?).

Janine guided me throughout Dad’s final journey.

She gave me books, she gave me her shoulder to cry on, she told me how strong I really could be. “You can do this, Stacey.”, she said.   She checked Dad’s breathing, she affirmed how to speak to him as though he were still with us, she told me to keep him posted about the time of day – even when he didn’t open his eyes anymore. “Your Dad will still worry that you have not had dinner, so tell him it is dinner time and you are going to go and eat.”  Wise.  “Tell your Dad it’s morning and describe what a beautiful day it is – open the blinds.”  Wise.

Janine helped us to “live” though this journey – and helped my Dad to “live” until his final breath.

How do I say, “thank-you”? to a woman like this whose gift was far greater than any gift I could have asked for?

If you are reading this, Janine, I wish you peace.  You were a gift to my family and I – and I know you continue to be a gift to all of your students too.

To you, Janine, my colleague, my friend, my angel… I toast you, “Sante”.

 

Dad:  You done good, kid.  Thanks for looking over my family.  In turn, I’m looking over you!  TTFN

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

“That moment” with Dorothee

It seemed so unattainable at first.  Her Mom said, “Stacey, you will bring Dorothee to work for your Dad.  It is easy.”

Okay – so it was not so easy.  The application  forms for a foreign  live-in caregiver changed three times in between one step of approval to the next.  I am not a good paper-person to begin with and so having to re-do application forms almost killed me.  Dorothee’s Mom said, “Stacey, it will work out.  You will see.  Don’t worry.”  Dorothee’s Mom, Tessie, you see was also anxious to have her family reunited and Dorothee was the last child she had to bring to Canada.

Dorothee landed for another employer in British Columbia.  She didn’t really understand how BIG Canada was and so, thinking that she could visit Barrie, Ontario on week-ends was logical.  She paid her fees to a nanny agency and was all set to babysit for a family of five.  As luck – or no luck depending on how you look at – would have it, the family cancelled their contact the last minute and Dorothee was left in a new country with no job.  Well – there was a job – it was just in Barrie.

To make a long story short, Dorothee’s first day with Dad was – how shall I put this – quiet.  She was shy – very young – and homesick.  What an ordeal to have flown so far away from her husband and daughter to a new country with a different language, different customs, and different food!  And what was even worse was that Dad ate POTATOES every day… not rice.

It did not take long, however, for Dorothee to find herself at Dad’s home.  She and Ana would take turns on shift with Dad.  Throughout the week while they were on duty, I never had to worry about what was happening, whether Dad was happy, or whether Dad had care.

Dorothee adopted my Dad as her own.  Her quiet manner would sometimes give way to comedy as she and Ana giggled at some of Dad’s expressions.  “Bologne!”  Dad would respond when they told them how in the Philippines they whistled for the wind to come.  They teased Dad that they would prepare a nice fish for him – and especially the eyeballs. “Yum, crunchy!”, they would say.

Dorothee involved my Dad in her life and he would advise her how she should save her money.  “Did you go shopping and spend money?”, Dad would ask.

“Yes, but everything was on sale.  I got some very good deals, father.” Dorothee would answer.  And Ana would remain silent behind Dorothee hoping she would not be asked the same question.

I would often pop over to Dad’s house for a brief visit – unexpectedly – and ALWAYS be welcomed with gracious hospitality by the Dancing Nannies.  Dorothee would always know the answer to the question, Stacey, would you like a glass of wine.”  And the dance began.

“Are you having one, Dad?”  I would inquire..

“Only if you are.”, came the response.

Dorothee knew this dance well – and the wine would already be beside my Mom’s former chair where I took up residence when I came to visit.

They were happy, the three of them:  Dad, Ana, and Dorothee.  They were a family.  They laughed together, cried together, worried together when Dad became ill, and they celebrated together.

I will never be able to thank Dorothee, however, for what she gave to Dad during his final moments.  If I could capture her the way I see her in my mind’s eye in words I would be forever grateful.  The memory that defines “Dorothee” for the person she is was created during the final day of Dad’s life.  My brother, Ana, and I were getting lessons about how to administer morphine.  I was anxious.  I hate needles and I knew where this was headed.  Morphine, in Mom’s case, signaled the end.  There were few words exchanged.  There were a lot of glances exchanged.  There was a great “understanding” among all of us that this was it.  Dorothee watched as the stint was inserted and the first needle injected.  And that was all it took.  Ana was right beside her.  And my brother and I shook.  It was was it was and it needed to happen.  Every two hours, we administered the morphine – whether it was needed or not.  That was a decision that we arrived at after much discussion and prayer.  At one point – I seemed to be in a daze.  One slips almost into a robotic state when faced with circumstances such as these.  Here is my memory. Dorothee – almost floated into the room.  She did not exchange glances, did not talk, but went right away to Dad.  She lovingly examined him to ensure that he was comfortable.  She was graceful, gentle, and her movement reassured me that he was in good hands.  Then, she tenderly pulled up his shirt – only far enough to have access to the stint – and inserted the morphine.  As quietly and tenderly as she arrived, she left.  She was angelic in her movements.  She was almost more pure energy than form.  I saw the love between my Dad and Dorothee.  He had adopted her too.  Their exchange was certainly not something that anyone else could have seen had they not had the history – but I saw it – and I was deeply moved.

This post, today, is dedicated to Dorothee.  It is her birthday today.  And she will celebrate it – too – without Dad.  This will be a first for her – it would have been a second birthday celebration with Dad … and I know she will note his absence.

Dorothee has become a part of my family now.  It is difficult to describe the type of relationship that I have with her as a result of her compassion for my Dad – but there is no other person who shares “that” bond and “that moment” with Dorothee other than me.  Dorothee is well loved by her family and friends.

Today – I celebrate Dorothee and offer her my most heart-felt, “thanks”!

Happy birthday Dorothee!  I wish others the opportunity to have a “moment” with Dorothee.

TTFN

Categories: Family and Friends, Life After Dad, Life's Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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