Present Tense

Cracking open…

eggWhat am I learning? That is my new mantra that is barely beating out “what am I feeling?”. I guess as I approach a sort of milestone birthday, it’s about time to begin asking myself some probing questions. I do have a journalism degree, after all.

What I’m learning is that it’s never too late for new reactions and behaviors to blossom; it often just requires a catalyst. The losses and challenges of the past 12 months have cracked me open and stuff like love, patience, empathy and generosity are oozing out and the more it oozes, the bigger the crack becomes.

My dog Chili died almost a year ago and that was a searing pain that brought me right to my knees. Then, my dad died in April and that knocked me completely off my axis. I had no idea that losing a parent could be so disorienting and shocking. I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. You probably weren’t either.

Those deaths numbed me, but my mother cracked me open. Seeing her lose her husband and lover and companion of nearly 75 years drove an arrow deep into my heart. She relied on him so completely for her physical and emotional support and then in an afternoon, she was without him. Forever.

My husband and I are childless by choice. I have not regularly had to put someone else’s well being and needs above my own. That’s just an honest assessment. Yes, we’ve taken care of each other over the years. He had cancer. I’ve battle alcoholism, but it’s not the same as caring for a child. Or an elderly parent.

My mother will be 94 in a couple of weeks and the past month has been very difficult for her, with a couple of hospitalizations and now a rehab facility to get her strong enough to return to her assisted living facility. She has needed us in a way that I’ve never felt needed before.

I’ve cut up her food, cajoled her to eat, changed her diaper, helped her dress, undress, brush her teeth, advocated for her care, nagged health care providers, often on weekends. She has at times been so foggy about her circumstances that it scared the crap out of me. She asks the same questions over and over and I’ve patiently answered over and over. I’ve tried to reassure her that she’ll get better and ‘go home’. The hardest was when she woke up and groggily asked me why my dad wasn’t there.

Here’s the deal: I’ve never been patient, I’ve never been all that nurturing (to people…different story with my pets) and I’ve always run away from hard stuff like this. This time, I’m running toward it. Toward her. And I am getting so much out of being with her right now. The love and protection that I feel is nearly overwhelming and I have more clarity on so many things in my life, but the one thing that I am sure of is that we moved back to Michigan for a reason and this is it.

I bought our farm over the course of a weekend, with very little research or thought. I went back to Colorado and told my husband that I wanted to move back ‘home’. We put our house on the market, I informed my co-workers and bosses of my plans and we packed up and moved, even though I loved Colorado and I loved our place in the mountains.  There was no questioning this feeling that we had to go.

Something was compelling me home and I didn’t resist it, even though I didn’t quite understand it.  Now I get it. We spent more time with both of my parents over a six month period than we had in years. We spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with them and my dad got to see our little farm. He was so proud and then, he died and I’ve been here to help my mom transition to life without my dad and eventually to transition to join him.

It’s been so hard and it would have been so much easier to be in Colorado for all of this; far removed from all of the drama and dirty work.  Love shoved me home; love cracked me open like an egg and for that, I’m so grateful.

September 28, 2014 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 Comments »

  1. Wow i am speechless this is awesome!

    Comment by msrge beem | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  2. Wow, Jane! Again, I am struck by how incredibly honest and clear you can be. Thank you for sharing your life with so many!!!

    Comment by Melissa Harris | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  3. You may not have realized you had a nurturing soul all those years, but I believe your long time friends and family have always known it was there.

    Comment by Dawn Gallup | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  4. Jane hug, kiss and tell your Mom how much you love her! Record her telling you she loves you too, it will comfort you. When the waves if pain hit deep in your heart listen to her beautiful voice and find the peace she wants for you. Nothing can take the place of the love a mother and daughter have!

    Comment by Dianna Marquez | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  5. You have done it again Jane. Your ability to transition and follow your heart and feelings is an inspiration to all of us.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  6. Well said Jane. Well done for all you are doing 🙂

    Comment by Kathy Courtenay | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  7. Sometimes we know deep inside us where we need to be–even if we don’t know it in our conscious thoughts. I admire your ability to put into words how you feel and your willingness to share your life stories.

    Comment by Kerri R | September 28, 2014 | Reply

  8. Really really great post. Thanks for your honesty. I’m definitely dreading the day this all comes around for me, but your posts have made me realize I’ll be able to handle it, even through the tears and sadness. Keep these posts coming!

    Comment by Kaye L | September 29, 2014 | Reply

  9. What a great, honest post! I’m happy for you, in that you made the decision to be closer to your folks and being able to spend much needed quality time with them. Blessings to you!

    Comment by Audi | September 29, 2014 | Reply

  10. You didn’t think you were nurturing, but you are. You love your parents very much and now that dad is gone, you mom needs you and you are there for her. It’s hard, but life is hard. I went from being a child, to being a mother, a wife, a single mother for 17 years and then a wife again and when it was time, I was mother to my mother. She needed someone to be there for her and I was there. It’s had to go from being her chiid to being her mother, but when you become your parents’ parent, you understand the love and sacrifice that they had for you all those years. Good job, Jane! You followed your intuition and it lead you to where you need to be.

    Comment by Verlia Dexter Dutton | September 29, 2014 | Reply

  11. You speak from my heart. Just when you think your parents have nothing else to teach you, they teach you more.

    Comment by Anita | September 29, 2014 | Reply

  12. Thanks for sharing such intimate thoughts.

    Comment by Carolyn Stillman | September 30, 2014 | Reply

    • 36c13fGood site! I definitely really like how it truly is effortless on my eyes as well as the information are properly penned. I am pondering how I might be notified every time a new publish may be built. I have subscribed to your RSS feed which should do the trick! Use a great time of day!aeb

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  13. Your intimate sharing took my breath away. Thank you for putting life back into perspective!

    Comment by Terrie | September 30, 2014 | Reply

  14. Wow. Just wow. Beautifully written and emotional to read. You are love in action Jane!

    Comment by Danielle | September 30, 2014 | Reply

  15. Wow! This is beautiful… I left my job in Glenwood springs to move in with my mom in Denver and take care of her while she was dying. It was 4 very long months, a very emotional and exhausting roller coaster. I was so very happy that I could do it. I learned a lot about myself, and became a much better person because of it. It was a difficult journey, as I had lost my 45 year old sister just 6 months before my mom got sick. I often wonder if my sister’s death caused my mom to just give up the fight sooner. I know they are together now with my dad. Best of luck in your journey… And God Bless!

    Comment by Liz Hansen | October 1, 2014 | Reply

  16. Beautifully written, Jane. Thank you for sharing your personal feelings. I cried when I read this because I can feel your loss. I lost my mother 22 years ago, my brother 10 years ago and my 94 year old father this past August. I spent the last 7 years living near my father and being there for him as his health declined. It was truly an emotional roller coaster and very time consuming, but the rewards were huge. We got to know each other better, and I felt so good about taking care of him. You definitely made the right choice to move back to Michigan when you did. I applaud Prince Charming for supporting you through this tough decision. Spend every moment you have with your mom, even if it’s just 15 minutes at a time, because now I wish I had spent even more time with my dad. Have no regrets, life is too short. Your parents must be quite amazing people to have raised such a strong, caring and insightful person as yourself. You are an inspiration to us all. This is the first blog post I’ve read of yours, and I will be reading many more for sure! Best wishes to you in your retirement. I will truly miss your laughter and humor on the morning show!

    Comment by Jan | November 21, 2014 | Reply


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