Monday, August 31, 2009

Leaving Louise

The most fabulous news--my mother-in-law is being set free after 37 days of hospital captivity. More than that she is being set free from the most demanding selfish room mate in the history of shared hospital space. Louise.

Oh Louise. The grim reaper of life. I mean if we aren't all stressed enough about the economy Louise reminds you it is going to hell in a hand bag times two--one from China and the other from Mexico. When not moaning about how she lost her pension, thirty years ago, she is wearing out the nurse call button. Buzz, fluff my pillow. Buzz, take my tray. Buzz, take me to the restroom. Buzz, straighten my blankets. Buzz, bring me my tooth brush. And on and on. Then I swear something possessed ole' Louise this weekend. Uncle Dan experienced it last night and King Ralph, D and I tonight. Louise buzzed for a nurse and since lonely Louise, a woman of no family, who wants immediate nurse attention was not being waited on fast enough, she began in a low graveling voice saying "bitch" over and over. It was like something out of Rosemary's Baby or the Omen. Creepy. So when my mother-in-law accidentally mistook the nurse helping her to the bathroom for me (nurse was on the side her eye isn't able to open)and kissed her on the cheek...I smiled at nurse and said, "better than what is on the other side of the curtain". She shook her head in a definite yes. Just before we were leaving Louise de-mand-ed we turn the TV to Channel 2. Okay Louise listen here, one TV two beds. You gotta share girlfriend. Maybe you missed this lesson in Kindergarten. It can't be all about what Louise wants. Sometimes it gets to be about what Karen wants. No doubt the minute we exited the room she buzzed the nurse, cause it would be to easy for her to use the channel changer to do it herself. In spite King Ralph left the TV on his mom's channel choice. Buzz, nurse change the channel.

So tomorrow at 10am Karen can "kiss" Louise good-bye forever. Odds are Karen's husband George may scream out "bitch" as he exits room 4602.

Butterfly fly. Spread your wings and fly home. Sit on your deck. Breath in fresh air. Watch the geese land on the lake. Stretch out in your favorite chair, watching your big TV. Sleep in your own bed snuggled next to your love. Amen!

Friday, August 28, 2009


By the time I am able to collapse on the couch this week--my feet ache. So I am all, TGIF! I rise before the rooster crows, work all day, run the girls all evening while adding in visits to my mother-in-law till I finally am able to flop in the bed around 1030pm. I need the alarm clock to stop waking me--for at least one day.

I traded a Wednesday night at the Cards game to see and hear this:

I've just been whipped and as much as I love both the marching band playing the National Anthem and a Cards winning game; King Ralph had to be the guy to support our child. And, D needed someone home while she acclimates to life in high school and the homework load. She too couldn't have handled a ball game. M was up till 1230am doing homeowrk after the game. UHG!

Since I am dragging on this TGIF I am plotting and planning my rebel edge. A new dress code was implemented this year for work-- no shoes you can wear in the shower and jeans only on Fridays. When I took D to get new jeans at Old Navy last night I picked up a pair of black flip flips. I love me some flops! I am wearing them with my jeans today. I WOULD NEVER WEAR NEW FLIP FLOPS IN THE SHOWER. This my defense speech if the principal says something. Or,we were given till October to rectify our wardrobes. (I was never a blue jean girl but I was always: flip flops with skirt girl.)

Tonight, after work, after the hospital, we are going to our favorite pizza joint to eat, drink, relax and watch the Cards--win, well hoping.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Butterfly Is Hatching

King Ralph was terribly crabby this evening. You all know the husband crabby that comes from over worked (and in his case a trip to the dentist) just want to club those kind of husbands on the head with a frying pan.

Ole' King Ralph was so crabby and tired he told me to go visit his mom without him tonight, which I planned to do until he says he is going along. Not only is he crabby but he flips his decisions like a fish out of water. My mother-in-law has this power that she has no idea she possesses, you can be dead tired wanting nothing more than to go to bed and she instantly awakens the spirit. My man lost his crabby like the turning off of a light switch. My mother-in-law is like a caterpillar that has just emerged from its cocoon--the wings are crimped but it won't be long before the metamorphosed creature will sore the sky. Mom is wanting to sore but the rehab center is making her pull back on the reigns a bit-- safety and caution. The butterfly wants to fly and soon will, like never before.

Tomorrow while M and the marching band play the National anthem at the Cards game and my niece sings Take Me Out to Ballgame during the seventh innings stretch; while the dads take in the game, we moms will sit at the hospital watching the game on TV cheering for what we can't and won't see or hear and hoping our girls presence brings St. Louis a winner. Before the game starts we plan on wheeling Mom out to the hospital gardens...because butterflies spread there wings best when surrounded with nature.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Let the Week Begin

I'm just plain tuckered. This is my state of being till zero hour (marching band) comes to an end the first of November. I can't hardly stay awake till 10pm. Friday night I slipped on my pajama bottoms and laid down on the bed, I woke in the morning with the shirt I wore to work still on. I think I dozed around 930pm. The celebratory margarita I drank just intensified my inflated exhaustion.

What were King Ralph and I out celebrating? We were celebrating that my mother-in-law was released from the ICU step-down and moved to the acute rehab center at the hospital across the street from my house. I can now stop planning on owning the parking garage at St. Louis University Hospital and now plan on walking some fat off my rear. My mother-in-law has a long way to go still but in terms of running a marathon I say she is at mile 14. She shows a will to get up and move forward. Her jumbled thoughts have an element of is good to laugh at the troubles of life, it some how makes it easier to deal with.

I am so tuckered out, and it is just Monday, that I don't think I drag my body for a walk across the street this evening...I am instead driving across the street to see my mother-in-law.

Yesterday I traded doing laundry for making gumbo. Today I trade making dinner for doing laundry. Besides left over gumbo is better than when it's fresh in the pot. So while I am in the business of trading I don't feel so bad trading exercise for a car ride.

And, so, I say, let the week begin!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

mom should stick to being a spectator

With daily runs to the hospital I am learning a new rhythm of balancing work, school obligations and the hospital. (Which if you are wondering my mother-in-law is being moved as I type to an ICU step-down unit.) So tonight I must send King Ralph to be with his mom alone because I am taking to the field as a temporary member of the marching band's color guard--it's the first "Parents Take the Field" night.

I walk onto the field to hear several "Momma Avery"'s echoing. Oh to be popular amongst the band's teen crowd. And really, I should have stopped there! The reason I was always picked last in gym class came haunting back as I tried to stand properly at attention. To hold that darn flag just the right amount off the ground and pump it into the air on the third hissing sound coming from the drum major's direction of calling everyone to attention. The forward march of eight steps was easier than that dam backwards march of sixteen steps, which started with me trying to keep my balance as I bopped up and down, knees only not body to the counting of sixteen. Forget the "stick it" on the yard line on the last step, that was a lost cause with a large dose of humor in its execution. It doesn't take one daughter to teach me marching skills it also took two of M's parentless buddies--one trumpeter and clarinetist--to get this marching band reject to understand what looks so much better (not easier) from the stands. I never doubted for a second the level of difficulty marching band and color guard's the student body that likes to rip on the band kids that should have been out there trying to perfect those fundamental skills in 20 minutes.

The question was posed "mom what if I played the bass drum?", to which I replied "I wouldn't have shown." Hehehe. I would have though because I am my children's cheerleader. I'm just thankful I only have to hold a flag pole.

It was fun. I might have enjoyed King Ralph in the role better. Maybe next year. Just maybe.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day Holiday

I always loathed "First Day Holiday" in elementary school; the Principal's belief that the first day of school should be viewed as the greatest holiday of the calendar year--celebrated as an intrusion of parents in the classrooms with snow cones and games on the playground when kids should be back to reading, writing and arithmetic.

Now, now that everyone is in high school (and college) I love first day holiday--dress them, feed them, and send them out the door (with a few extra kisses) with wishes for a great first day. When the high school girls get home exhausted from there non acclimated early rise, the realization hits that there is no honeymoon period in high school--the homework load begins. Back to reading, writing and arithmetic.

Now dressing was pretty easy for M as she had her first day of school outfit designated by her role, Link Crew member. She matched a hundred others in there first day of school outfit. In the end the thing that bummed her the most, not being able to wear some fashionesta garment turned out to be okay, because instead the thing to be bothered by was someone decided to steal her text books as she helped Freshman find there buses to go home. D looks the same tired as she looks every first day...however this first day she looks a little more grown-up-- my high school girl, my baby at the beginning of what is nearing the end of this phase in my journey of parenthood.

So...let the good times roll!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Eve of Back-to-School

The house is silent except for the click-click-click of my fingers on the laptop keyboard. I have no actual desire to be sitting here listening to the abundance of silence that consumes the house, but King Ralph--a man of the white shirt always on call--got a call at 2am that woke us from sound slumber. (For some odd reason I am the only one still affected by the middle-of-the-night wake-up call.)

There is an extra measure of silence to the house knowing Princess A's bedroom is empty; empty of her belongings and being. Strange how the absence of one family member in the house can actually be felt. That's a feeling felt whether it is because one of the kids is off with friends for the night or away at college.

Even though I dread being awake right now I am pleased to report that for the first time in D's life she had a freak-out less eve before school. No melt downs of the past like over gummed reinforceers, necklaces that aren't being shared.... Just a regular, usual, calm evening the night before one of her biggest school eve's in her life-- the night before the first day of high school. I view it as the beginning of the end, the "best days of your life" era; or so they say. I don't know...does this mean my baby girl has really grown up? That she can handle big change in her life now, finally? What ever the reason for the calm nature of her being-- I like this eve of the new school year.


You know what I did on the eve of the first day of school? I cheated on my hair dresser. You would think I should feel guilty but I don't. I have been teetering back and forth whether to cut off my mop of hair and as I walked through the mall with the goal of buying M and D new sneakers (buy one get one half off, a twenty-percent off coupon and $100 dollars later we have sneakers for both) I eyed the Mastercut, breezed in and chop, chop my hair is all gone. Never having been in a Mastercut before I kind of felt like I was in "Missouri Ink". This young staff of coiffures were seriously inked. I wonder if they realize when they are getting their tat on the forearm that in 50 years that artwork will be harboring its lo-cal on the elbow? Or that tat on the breast will be on their hip? That gravity changes everything--including the location of the tattoo. Oh hell "inked up" gave me a feel-good back-to-school haircut. I love my hair! It in no way means I am breaking up with my long time hairdresser. It also means there is no guarentee I won't cheat again.

It's inching closer to 4am and I have to wake, no be alert and cheery in two hours. So I am going to try to fall asleep, again, so I can do the usual first-day-of-school rituals. Smile and say cheese--Mom's got the camera girlies.

Happy First Day--to us all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This Day Is Being Temporarily Interupted

Boxes, boxes, boxes. That is all we do, move boxes up the stairs and to the car.

This Day is being temporarily interrupted to load, unload and deposit Princess A back to college.

Last year I was over the top excited for my big girl to explore this new chapter, new adventure of her life. This year I feel a bit verklempted. Why? I think because Princess A had a hard time coming home for summer break, readjusting to life with the family, the loss of that thought she had total independence...and recently she molded back into what makes us us--a complete family. I going to miss her more this year than last. I just feel it in my heart.

I have a pot roast on the stove to send her back to school with--her request. Which means...I must part here, tend to the meat and move more boxes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Husband Has a Mistress

Upon returning home from work yesterday I found a package placed on the front porch...mostly likely left by the UPS man. King Ralph has a quiet relationship with our UPS driver, and when I say quiet I mean quiet in the sense that hopefully he gets to packages before I do. These days we get an awful lot of packages. (None with my name on them.)

I brought the package in dumped it in the front foyer. When M came home she immediately caught eye of the package and says "what did dad buy for his girlfriend this time? Shoes, he got her some new shoes." Honestly I didn't look. I don't bother to look anymore. You see his girlfriend, Harley, gets more attention than all the really meaningful woman in his life. She gets better full body massages than I have ever gotten in our twenty-three years together. Not to mention her globes have been grouped to the point that I am starting to think she will need headlight augmentation. While I was gone in New Orleans King Ralph spent his birthday lottery of cash on a couple of leather purses for her to carry around. Upon seeing them M screeches out "look she got mo-murses." I begin wondering why King Ralph won't carry my purse around all day but this broad will carry not one but two purses for him all day. Now wonder he loves her so much. She is his captive slave. Sometimes I find him the garage, the location of the affair, just gazing into her well-polished silver body--probably catching the reflection of his ten-mile wide grin.

It's not just his love affair with Harley I have to worry about it's his still unnamed Wild Hogs group of mid-life crisis buddies...although they are short one hog and accepting applications. Last weekend for some insane reason King Ralph thought Nancy and I would hop on the back of the girlfriends and sweat our arses off in the 100* Sunday heat just so we could be a part of there sick obsessed world. FYI Hubby: We are no biker babes, nor do we wish to become ones! No leather chaps and no slinky lace trimmed tank tops with skulls silk screened on the front for us.

So while he may spend an awful lot of time courting Harley, pouring his undivided love and admiration into her, I am okay with it being-- "just the two of you." This is one relationship that will not become a threesome. On the flip side I have found the goodness in this love affair, she has been a refuge from his mother's continued stay in the ICU-- the open road soothes the soul. And, since she gets an awful lot of nice mistress gifts I am finding I get the things I want--like my new Blackberry.

Hmmmm, what to want next?
(this photo was taken pre mo-murses, when I think about I will take one with her fine black silver studded saddle bags. They're to die for. hehehehe)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

My Heart Sang Last Night

We did last night as we have done every night this week--King Ralph and I went to the ICU to be with his mom.

Monday was a nothing-has-changed-day. Tuesday was significant progress. Wednesday was a step back day. Thursday I didn't go but King Ralph snuck down there during the day, it was a good day. Yesterday, last night, well my heart sang and I told my mother-in-law just that, that she was making my heart sing.

She is alert. Still disoriented. Not sure why she is in the hospital and needs to be reminded that she has had brain surgery. On Thursday she tore her feeding tube out. So, with doctor's orders they put that darn thing back in. She is unrestrained, as she has been tied down since the first night when her agitation was crazy out-of-control. Trade off to getting to stretch her arms (and to assure she doesn't rip that feeding tube out again) padded hand covers.

When we entered her room last night we made light of it to her, "mom check you out, you have on boxing gloves, you're a boxer." She raised her hands high in the air pulled her son close to her and bopped him on his head. Then she smiled. We smiled back. Then the game began. She would raise those padded hand covers up and shake her hands, first at me then to King Ralph...over and over. She finally got to the point where she said "Kevin (first time I heard her say his name since surgery, making me ever so happy) take these things off me." He told her he couldn't and I told her if he did they would stick him in time out. Her intermittent smiles turned to a grimace, a grimace of disappointment. As our nightly visit rolled on she spent quite a bit of time staring at those padded hands trying to figure out how she is going to get them off. I constantly said "mom quit trying to think of how you are going to pull off a Houdini" and the hands then rested. She also kept tapping her cheeks with her "boxing gloves" looking up at King Ralph. "Babe, she wants you to kiss her cheek." When he did, she smiled. Then looked at me tapped her cheek and I kissed her cheek. She smiled again. She also raises her boxing gloves to her head rubbing on that large incision.

Next was the HUGE moment...the moment that made my heart sing. She passed a swallow test that morning so they ordered her a liquid tray. When it came the nurse asked if I would feed her. So I did. I fed my mother-in-law like she once fed my children. She ate as much cream of chicken soup as her weakened body would allow, which wasn't a whole lot but good enough for a starting point.

Throughout the evening she would ask "where is George?" and I would answer in the same way, "he went to get some dinner and to take a nap." Time is something she doesn't have a grip on...night, day, all running together, but the love of her life is something she does not forget. The hospital staff says when George arrives in the morning she perks up. The evidence of his love for her has always been present and obvious throughout this whole difficult journey.

She asks for drinks of water-- which I gave to her on a soft sponge on a stick and she sucks the water from the sponge. She kept wanting to get out of bed, telling us she "needs to get up and move around." King Ralph explained to her if she got up and fell, hurting herself, she would only be in the hospital longer. She would then relax her body back down into the bed. She did this a number of times. She was on a mission impossible. I looked at her at one point and suggested maybe King Ralph was a spit fire in his childhood from her genes, she shrugged her shoulders and said "maybe so." The male nurse came in and turned on her bed alarm, just in case.

Oh here is the best part of the day...well that soup was best part so here's the second best part. Her sister came by to visit and before she fell asleep Aunt Janet held out two bottles of nail polish telling her to pick a color. My mother-in-law creeped her toes out from the sheets and twinkled toe nails of bright florescent pink. I had to text Princess A, M and D to tell them. They were so excited to know there grandma has her toe nails painted again. The painted toes were as much a surprise for my mother-in-law as they were to me. Aunt Janet painted those toes while my mother-in-law slept. She painted them because she had promised her that the morning of her surgery. Being allowed to have painted toe nails in the ICU is a sign, I am sure, that there must be a room waiting for her past those secured doors.

I told my mother-in-law she is running a marathon. She is around the twelfth mile and has fourteen more to go. She is running slow but picking up pace. As soon as she can eat more, gain an acceptable appetite, the feeding tube can come out. She has some optic nerve damage from the brain surgery which isn't an uncommon occurrence with brain stem aneurysm surgery. Hopefully it will correct itself in three months time and also her eye will open once all the swelling dissipates. If not the doctor says her can fix that. She can see out of the eye so that is really good news. She is weak in body but seems to have a spirit to move. That spirit is exactly what she needs to fully heal. While that spirit is fueled we must constantly remind her why she is in the hospital (since she can't seem to remember that).

The caged bird wants to sing. Amen!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Swine Lodge

While I was absorbed having fun in the Big Easy and then being thrown in the world of the ICU... I totally missed the news story that Trout Lodge had some swine flu outbreak. Wait. My kid is going to Trout Lodge for four days of marching band camp. Eeeeekkkk!

So in preparation I have been giving M daily soaks in Lysol disinfectant. I insisted she trade her Juicy perfume for squirts of blossom fragrant Lysol. I sent her with Lysol wipes, antibacterial hand soaps and... well, bubble wrap. Because one can never be to safe. She basically has a change of clothes and a billion spray cans of Lysol in her luggage.

Now while I am more concerned with did they scrub the camp down well enough when they closed to allow for occupants to invade-- to camp they go.

When I arrived to the school campus at the six A-M hour there where half dozen male band geeks standing at the entrance with large posters that read "FORMS". A weak imitation of a dozen hot babes in Coors Light and Budweiser bikinis with car wash signs. But it's band, and boys. M lifted her hand waving her form I printed off when I still in that one cock eyed state. After I parked and made a switch-- M for the Guard Instructor's dog... he asked did she have her form. Well hell ya I got the form, after three emails and a phone call about the form in less than 6 hours I better not show without the form.

What is the form you wonder? Seems Trout Lodge wanted proof that each band member was free of swine flu like symptoms. They required we take our child's temperature as we left the house, record it and sign off--on "the form". This is how I filled out the form: I handed it to M said fill it out. She forgot to record her temperature and with her guard instructor standing there I said to M write down "96.3*." He laughed at me. I said to him, "you didn't really think I pulled the thermometer out for this. I just laid my hand on her forehead and said feels like 96.3*. Then I raised the pen and told M to lift her tongue in the fashion of which a thermometer is placed. And so, the form which stood as a bus ticket to band camp was completed; in a not so legit manner. Oh well! No one ever said I was a perfect mom.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Reflection is Good!

Sometimes reflection makes you want to cry...a happy-this-world-is-good-after-all kind of cry. Which is exactly what this article did for me.

Open Heart. Helping hands. Memories.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Coming Out of the Dark

Yesterday as I counted the thirty-four staples and six sutures in my mother-in-law's head; I looked at her in her weakened state, she trying to focus her left eye on me and I told her, "mom tomorrow is my birthday when I come to visit you I want you to sing me Happy Birthday so snap out of this." She moaned and groaned some indistinguishable words.

If I would have had a cake, made a wish on my... lots of candles, it would have been for exactly what I saw when I got to the hospital for the evening shift. My mother-in-law made significant progress. Now I am sure if you walked in her room you would think maybe not so...but all of us, her family, oh ya! King Ralph said mom's ICU nurse told him her husband was so excited he stood in her room and cried. Gentle giant. Although we can't always make out what is saying to us she is talking. She is slowly coming out of the dark.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


1. Church
2. Hospital
3. Ballgame
4. Hospital

In that exact order