bunchofgrapes: (Lights)
Today my aunt turned 7. Okay, she's really 63 and her birthday is in February but it's been seven years since her heart transplant so today is her heart birthday. Needless to say, I am an organ donor. If you're not already, please consider it. You'll be doing a great thing for someone one day and they will thank you every day of their new life.

What's more fun than a cat in the hat? )
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - loss)
My great uncle Ned passed away last night. He was in his early 90’s and had dementia but he was my grandfather’s oldest brother and his death made me very sad.

My parents divorced when I was 4 and my dad moved away. Except for a few visits whenever he came into town, I don't recall spending any kind of time with my dad until I was 9. With my dad missing from my life, my grandpa became my father figure and I adored him. He passed away when I was 13 and I was devastated. To this day I have never cried as much as I did then and I've always sort of felt like I used up 75% of all my tears that day.

I'd never met my uncle Ned before but when he came to the funeral, I couldn't get over how much he looked and sounded like my grandpa. I was completely taken by him so naturally, I latched onto him for the remainder of his visit. I'm sure he had no idea why. He lived in CA so after the funeral, he went back home and I never saw him again. But at some point, when I was in college maybe, I started getting a Christmas card from him and his wife. So for many years we exchanged Christmas cards. Two Christmases ago I got a card from my aunt explaining that uncle Ned's dementia had gotten very bad and that my aunt could no longer care for him at home so he was being moved into a nursing home.

I saw that he had passed away on my 2nd cousin's Facebook and it has hit me harder than I ever thought it would. It wasn't really uncle Ned's death that makes me so sad. It's because I remember him from my grandpa's funeral and that makes me miss my grandpa all over again.

Oh, and if it weren't enough that uncle Ned passed away, eight days ago, his younger sister, my aunt Velma, passed away and at work, also yesterday, a good friend's uncle passed away. What is it about deaths in the months of November and December?
bunchofgrapes: (Paul G - glasses)
I've mentioned this before but I hate, hate, hate daylight savings time so I'm very happy when we go off it and I get my hour back. Sure it gets dark earlier. So what? That's what it's supposed to do. And pretty soon the snow on the ground will be providing extra light. Personally, I'd like to see what the actual cost savings are to this. Lights on in the morning or lights on in the evening (aren't they already on in the evening), does it really make a difference?

There was a pretty good earthquake in Oklahoma last night. Needless to say, most of my relatives were pretty freaked out about it however a couple of my friends thought it was pretty cool. When we had our 5.8 earthquake back in early August, I thought it was pretty cool too. I know that I would not feel that way if we had a lot of strong earthquakes but for my first one, it was definitely cool.

I made blueberry muffins with King Arthur whole wheat flour and xylitol. I probably should have added a little more oil than the recipe called for but they are very good and very healthy for me. That said, Red Velvet Cupcakes currently has a pumpkin cupcake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting that I really want to try.

My 68 year old mother is now texting. The first couple of texts I got from her were hilarious because she would sign them "mom". She's now figured out that she doesn't need to tell me who she is.

I will now leave you with a pic of Paul Guilfoyle in a tux. He was emcee at the Berklee Encore Gala in Boston in mid October. He does like to talk with his hands, which I'm told is linked to better speaking.

bunchofgrapes: (Lights)
This is going to be a long post with a lot of randomness. A lot has been going on in the month since I last posted and most of it is good.

First I'll start with the semi-scary )
bunchofgrapes: (The Avengers - Dynamic)
I'm a little late sending this but thank you to everyone who sent cards, good thoughts and hugs after the passing of my stepfather. It really does mean a lot. Mom has been doing okay. One of the things that gave her a lot of comfort was coming home the same day John passed away and as she made the turn for their house, she looked up and in the clear blue sky, the entrails from two jets had made a cross. She said that was a sign from John to let her know he's alright and she can move on.

More stuff here )

RIP John

Dec. 19th, 2010 01:02 am
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - loss)
My stepfather, John, passed away Thursday morning. My mom called me at 6:40am to give me the news. He had gone in for a biopsy on December 7th for the brain cancer they found on November 24th. On the 8th, he started to hemorrhage. At that point the surgeon said he probably wouldn't last until Sunday. They moved him to the terminal ward and kept him there until Wednesday, the 15th. After that mom wanted to move him to a nursing home but his sons said no way. John's youngest son, Matt, has a house not far from mom's and that's where they wanted to move him. Mom was against it at first but both my aunt and I agreed it was what they wanted (and they should have a say) and it would be better for John to die there, surrounded by his boys, than in a nursing home. She was quite upset about it but finally relented and he was moved to Matt's house Wednesday evening. He passed away at 5am. I think it was where he wanted to be.

One of the things that came to light during all this is that the mini stroke he had back in July was probably caused by the undiagnosed cancer. It continued to grow over the next four months until it was quite large. This explains why he continued to deteriorate. I told mom that had we known he was going to die back in July we should have given him a couple of cartons of cigarettes, a couple of quarts of bourbon and let him be happy. As it is, the last months of his life were pretty miserable.

John wanted to be cremated so there's no funeral. Mom is having a memorial service tomorrow, which is now today, and then in the Spring there will be a service to scatter his ashes. I'll go back for that. It was his wish to have his ashes scattered over the lake they lived near so mom has a friend with a houseboat and they've offered to take the family out.

Now that I'm over angry (that was Thursday), I'm mostly okay with his passing because I know there was no hope of him ever getting better. Once they found the cancer, they said it was just a matter of time. It was aggressive and inoperable so no chemo, no surgery. I'm grateful he went fast and I know mom and his boys are too.

John was a good guy. I was lucky to have him as my stepfather and I will miss him.
bunchofgrapes: (Cirque - Rainbow)
Tucker came home yesterday. He's got a chicken butt from where they shaved him and a two inch scar on his belly where they had to insert a catheter into his bladder but he's beyond happy to be home. He's following me around the house and giving me his happy, chirpy meow. And this is before he's had his pain medicine. One thing I had to give enormous thanks for is that the only medicine he has to take is the pain stick. The doctor sent him home with two bottles of liquid Clavamox but Tucker and oral antibiotics (pill or liquid) don't go together. When Tucker had his first surgery, his regular vet suggested a two week antibiotic shot. It's a little more expensive than the liquid or pill but to not have to put your already traumatized pet through the misery of taking oral medication is worth any cost. So on the way home from the vet hospital, I called the regular vet and asked about the shot (vet hospital didn't have it). Vet had it and they were on my way home. Quick stop in, Tucker got the shot, boom that was done and I have to say, I was feeling very pleased that it all worked out so well. Yesterday, it was easy to tell he was in some pain, especially around the time he was due for the next pain stick. But after the shot he slept most of the day and night. Unfortunately, it meant he was restless most of the night. The other good thing for him is that he's got a soft e-collar instead of that awful hard collar. With the soft one, I can fold it down instead of up so it's not in his way so much but he still can't get to his sutures. So, little lion man is doing well and I'm happy he's home and hopefully, on his way to no more problems.

John gets to go home today. I called my mom's cell and John actually answered. He sounds a lot better than he did when I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago. We spoke for just a few seconds before he handed off the phone to my mom and when she got on, she sounded surprisingly upbeat. Apparently, he was scheduled for a biopsy tomorrow but they can't do it because he's on aspirin and plavix. So he gets to go home for about a week. Then they will do a biopsy and once they know what kind of cancer it is, they'll know how to go from there. If it's one kind, they feel confident they can treat it with cancer so as weird as it sounds, we're all hoping it's that kind of cancer. He's on steroids right now and that's reducing the swelling on his brain, which was causing his inability to talk and eat. Also, the doctor took John's youngest son, also an alcoholic, and told him that under no circumstances should he give his father alcohol. Apparently, that has been an issue with John trying to stop. I hope whatever the doctor said to Matt put the fear of God into him too because he's heading down the same path as his dad.

So, today I have a lot to be thankful for. I have some pretty great, supportive friends. Tucker is on the mend, the other two are safe and healthy, and I am loved by all of them. John gets to spend Thanksgiving at home with my mom and seems to be doing better, despite what lies ahead for him. My aunt is healthy and as always, there for my mom and the family. I have a wonderful next door neighbor who brought me a container of her excellent potato salad. We (my dad, stepmother and I) are going to the Inn at Kelly's Ford for Thanksgiving so it's over the river and through the woods and somebody else cooks (this one makes my stepmother happy).

To all of you out there, Happy Thanksgiving! Or Happy Thursday if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving!
bunchofgrapes: (Moon)
Yesterday I got a text from my aunt: my stepfather was having trouble talking and feeding himself so he was back in the hospital. Going back a few months, my stepfather, John, had a mini stroke in July. He was supposed to stop drinking and smoking. He stopped smoking but like a true alcoholic, he had bottles stashed all over the house and kept sneaking the drinks. When I got the text, I figured it had something to do with him still drinking while on all the meds for the stroke. I talked to my mom last night. They found a mass in his brain.

Why does bad news always come in November? )
bunchofgrapes: (Cirque - Rainbow)
Six years ago today someone did a wonderful thing. They donated their heart to my aunt.

November 20, 2004 )
bunchofgrapes: (O)
I was talking with a co-worker friend this morning about Thanksgiving plans how we both like big family gatherings where relatives you only ever see at the holidays bring dishes of things you'd never otherwise eat - like mashed turnips and mincemeat pie. This got me to thinking about my Aunt Edna.

Technically, I think she was my great aunt )
bunchofgrapes: (Adm Nelson - Getting too old for this)
My mom had just turned 19 and my dad was 18 when I was conceived in the backseat of a car. My dad had been dating my mom for a little while but I was most definitely an oops baby, which lead to my dad doing the honorable thing. When I was born on my mother's 20th birthday (my dad was two months past his 19th birthday), my mother told my grandmother (bow chica wow wow grandma) that I was two months premature. I was not.

The marriage lasted four years (from what I've been told, it was lucky to make it a year) before they divorced. My dad finished one of his plethora of degrees, met a nice girl who worked at the university, joined the Navy and he and his new wife moved to Southern California. Fast forward to present and they just celebrated their 41 or 42nd wedding anniversary. Obviously, my dad got it right the second time.

My mom wasn't so lucky )
bunchofgrapes: (Earl - WTF)
Many years ago, a good friend was telling me about the time she and her brothers were moving their recently widowed mother from the house they grew up in to a condo. Two of my friend's's brothers were moving the mattresses their mother and father had had for years and as my friend took off the bedding, exposing lots of stains, one of her brothers said, "wow, look at all the brothers and sisters we could have had!".

There isn't enough brain bleach in the world )
bunchofgrapes: (Annie Kramer - Uh huh)
I survived the trip to Oklahoma with little to no mom incidents.

I actually wish I'd stayed a little longer )
bunchofgrapes: (Paul G - zzz)
I almost forgot to post tonight. Actually, I didn't forget, I just let time get away from me and didn't get started until 11:30. And yes, I did edit the date.

Technically it was the 8th when I started this. )
bunchofgrapes: (Lights)
So maybe a month ago, [livejournal.com profile] unwrittenkitten mentioned something called NaBloPoMo. Technically, it's supposed to be in November but since February is a short month and I've been wanting to post more, I thought I'd join my friend and give it a shot. Since we are being non-conformists and rebels, we get to make our own rules (posting in February, minimum 300 words) so if anyone wants to join us, jump in!

I suspect this will mostly consist of me subjecting anyone brave enough to follow along to all my random thoughts. Lucky you.

Does anyone even read LJ any more? )
bunchofgrapes: (O)
Christmas Eve and I think I might have found some Christmas joy.

Christmas Joy )
bunchofgrapes: (Brass - life sucks)
I don't like Christmas. Seriously, it's my least favorite holiday. Hell, FWIW, I hate the entire month of December but that mostly has to do with work, which of course feeds into my growing hate for Christmas.

I used to love Christmas when I was a kid. Not the fact that I got presents, although that was definitely a plus. It was the family thing--the tradition of driving up to my Aunt and Uncle's place a couple of days before Christmas and singing "White Christmas" with my mom the entire way in hopes of making it snow (never worked). My grandparents would have this huge holiday party with all the family and friends. It was great fun. But my Aunt and Uncle divorced, as did the grandparents, friends and family passed away, kids grew up and moved away and now Christmas is just another day in December. I tried going home once for Christmas but it was one of the worst experiences ever. Whoever said Christmas is for children wasn't kidding. It really is.

Anyway, now I stay home, work a lot, and go to my Dad and Stepmother's where zero Christmas tradition exists--except maybe for my sister and my dad arguing over something stupid and then my dad being Mr. Unsociable for the rest of the day. Yeah, fun.

Oh, and don't even get me started on these freaking 60 degree temps in December or the fact that I want to stab people on the news who say, "I love the warm weather". It's Northern VA, people. It's supposed to be cold in December!

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