My beautiful girl, Ginger, passed over the rainbow bridge today. She had bladder cancer. She was 15. We had her twelve years. When we adopted her in 2007, she was crabby and cantankerous and lashed out at everybody. My hubby worked hard to make her the sweet, loving baby she became. I miss her so much already.
Saying goodbye to pets is always horrible. Unexpectedly, my wonderful hubby was there with me. The timing worked out in my favor. His big truck went in for repair midweek, and he was at the dispatch terminal forty-five minutes away. He is truly a wonderful man. He drove home to be at the vet with me and my youngest son when we took Ginger in. That meant so much to me. Not only was he a strong shoulder to lean on, but he was there to help me decide what to do. Letting the cat go wasn’t a decision I had to make alone.
Ginger was just as much my husband’s cat as mine. When we got her she was terrified and she was not a nice cat. He was the only one who never gave up on her. He’d pick her up over and over, she’d snarl and lash out. He’d talk to her and hold her and pet her. He was the one who broke through her fear and distrust. He held her as she died. I thought that was fitting.
She was always on my lap in my chair or by my side in bed. When healthy she topped out at seven and a half pounds. For such a tiny cat, she had a big, bold personality. She didn’t back down from anything. She was also sweet and gentle underneath her grumpy exterior. For such a tiny cat, she’s sure left a big, empty space behind her.
Since I’ve been home on disability, my sleep schedule has been different. I sleep more, and I nap a lot. I also take medication every six hours (four times per day) so I have alarms set that ring every six hours. They do disturb my sleep, but I usually go right back out afterwards.
Last night I was sitting up, reading, waiting for the last alarm to ring. I’d planned to go to bed as soon as I took my pill. For some reason, I crashed about twenty minutes before it rang. When it went off, I was so sound asleep it scared me. I woke up, heart pounding, dizzy and nauseous, and my first thought was “Where is my mother?”
I can’t explain it, but I was terrified. I sat up to pick up my medicine, and my brain was racing trying to figure out why I had no recent memories of my mother. I couldn’t remember being with her at Thanksgiving, and I couldn’t remember our last conversation. I couldn’t remember if she was in the next room or in some other house somewhere. I was a half a second away from asking my twenty-three year old son where my mother was.
I am so glad I didn’t. He would’ve thought I’d flipped my lid. My mother has been dead for thirteen years. Of course I have no recent memories of her. She hasn’t been here.
Our last holidays together (Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2004) are some of the happiest adult memories I have of her. She came to my house for both, she was happy and stayed for several hours both days, and she was talkative and engaging. I believe now these two happy holidays were gifts from her. I don’t know if she knew they’d be her last with us, but she made them good ones. Holidays with my nearly agoraphobic mother were not always happy days, but 2004 was. In January 2005 she had a stroke, and by March that same year, she was gone.
I know she’s gone. I’ve accepted that and have come to terms with it. Why I thought she was still with us early this morning, I have no idea. I can only guess I was dreaming. It must have been a good dream if I missed her and wanted to find her that badly.
My mother was once the center of my universe, and I’m assuming I was a big part of hers. She had a hard time sharing me once I began dating although she liked my hubby. She flat-out refused to share me with my husband’s family after I married. She clung to her individual time with me and refused to consider joint celebrations even though it made it hard on me when my boys were little. Looking back now and remembering how much she hated social interactions, I’m more understanding of her reticence.
I’m a little like her that way. I hate social situations, too. I can force myself to get through them, but I am usually covered in flop sweat. They are hard for me, and I prefer to skip them, but I can do them. My mother never got past her aversion. She used to tell me she was proud of me and she could never do what I do (interact with others for work and social reasons). She never wanted to or had to.
I was devastated, of course, when she died. She was all that was good, kind and gentle. She never swore, and she was always a lady. Two things I can’t say about myself. She was also intensely private and shared nothing. Also something I can’t say about myself. I like to think I got the better “soft” parts of her and added in my own sass and attitude.
I’m glad my mother still visits (and socializes) in my dreams. I miss you, Mom. Say hi to Dad.
I find myself this year in less of a holiday mood than usual. As the years have passed and my boys have grown from sweet little guys into big, hulking, hairy men, Christmas has definitely lost some of its magic. I try not to feel that way, but it’s true that Christmas is more fun and way more magical through the eyes of a child. Being sick hasn’t improved my mood any.
As an adult, Thanksgiving was never really all that much fun. It was a lot of hard work. From my very first one as a wife when the turkey wasn’t defrosted and I stood at the sink, running a cold, dead, frozen turkey carcass under the hot water trying to thaw it out and gagging the entire time, and my Gramma, honest to a fault, declaring my very first from scratch pie crust to be “tough” and inedible (yes, and making me cry), it’s always been WORK. I always had my mother and grandmother over, and I rushed around and tried to make it all perfect like it had always been when I was little. After Gramma passed, I had my mother over and the stress there was always wondering if she’d stay or if her social anxiety would get to her and she’d ask to go home as soon as she’d arrived. I understood her issues. Hell, half the time, I shared them. When I’d worked so hard to make it nice for her, and she wouldn’t even sit down and eat with us I was so very hurt. I never told her because that just wasn’t done with my mom. She’d have gotten angry and the solution to her would have been no more visits ever. So I tried every year. I hoped she appreciated the effort. She’s been gone thirteen years so I’ll never know now.
Thanksgiving here this year was me sick as a dog.
I watched the parade on TV – one tradition kept. My hubby and boys were here. I believe my hubby made himself a Hormel microwave turkey and dressing meal.
I had chicken bouillon and toast and slept a lot. I’m not sure what my adult sons fixed themselves. There was no way I was touching food for anyone else to eat. I was nauseous, and I didn’t want to share the bacterial GI infection.
So now I look forward to Christmas. I know I should decorate inside the house (we always have a tree) and outside (I always put up lights). I drove to the grocery store last night. First time I’d driven since November 15 and my first lengthy outing (other than a doctor visit). I walked the entire store. I pushed the cart; my sons did all the fetching and carrying. I finish the antibiotic this Wednesday. I am supposed to return to work on Thursday if the blood work I go for Monday or Tuesday is clear and shows no infection/inflammation.
So, yeah, Christmas. Maybe our fake tree this year, but who cares about outside. Right? It’s the people inside who count. I’ll work on psyching myself up.
Everything wears out. Cars, appliances, furniture, bodies. I have learned way more about the human body in the past year than I ever thought I wanted to know. Upper endoscopies, CT scans, x-rays, colonoscopies. I became well acquainted with them all. The heating pad on my belly has become my best friend.
Today as I await the approach of another doctor’s visit to address a new concern that cropped up this morning, I wonder why some folks never seem to have health issues. Others have chronic, life-long problems. Still others have items crop up as they age.
I try to look on the bright side and figure that things could be far worse. I can see, I can hear, I can walk, and most days I function as any other, normal, overweight, 59 year old female does. Things hurt, I move a bit slower, but I get through it. Some days it defeats me, and I long for the days when I felt well, or I long for the days when I can retire and I can pretty much relax 24/7. Then again some days having a job and responsibilities to go off to keeps me sane and keeps me going.
When I was in my 30’s and dealing with children with developmental disabilities, autism, ADHD, diabetes, celiac disease and the special education administrators and so-called regular teachers in the school districts, I used to say that work was my escape. I went there to get away from the hard things I faced at home. Having to deal with all of those people and all of those issues hardened me and made me grow up in so many different ways.
When I was in my 40’s and dealing with death (father-in-law, grandmother, mother and my beloved pets one right after the other) and dealing with the beginnings of the health issues (endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and hysterectomy), I was thrown for a loop. That decade brought me to my knees, and depression threatened. I withdrew from life in many ways.
My 50’s have been a reawakening for me. I grew further and tossed off the sadness, I got two college degrees, I got five tattoos, and I rediscovered the guitar, but then I also found new health challenges.
I’m not sure why we age the way we do. Folks who eat right and stay fit don’t always reap the benefits of their hard work so please don’t tell me I should’ve taken better care of myself. I did the best I could.
Everything wears out. It’s why folks have surgeries to replace or repair things. It’s why we buy new cars, new appliances and new furniture.
So I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all I can do, and I’ll hope for the best.