Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Hard Times

This was taken last summer a few months after my dad had a stroke....we were out to dinner on the pier to celebrate my parent's 49th wedding anniversary. Their 50th is in 7 weeks.

My dad doesn't use a wheelchair anymore, but instead, he limps along painfully slow with a walker. The stroke was one year ago this month and he didn't recover nearly as much as we hoped he would.
He can't use his left arm or hand, his left leg and foot, and his voice is always hoarse. He can't drive, or work anymore (he enjoyed working part time before the stroke even though he is 78); he can't do anything he did before except for play games on his computer and watch tv.
Then, last month he was diagnosed with cancer. He had the option to take chemo pills or use IV chemo, and he chose the pills, even though the odds of the cancer returning within a couple years to take his life are much higher with the pills.

For reasons unknown to us, even to my mom, he decided he can't do IV chemo; he won't; and if that means he dies, then he dies.  Not much is sadder than watching a loved one deteriorate before your very eyes.
He starts the chemo pills on Friday. 
We are hoping he beats the odds because we want him around....but I don't know if he wants to be around. I think he does but then sometimes I think he doesn't. Perhaps he's conflicted himself, I probably would be. However, it feels like he has almost completely given up and decided life isn't worth living when your left side is partially paralyzed.

Part of me doesn't blame him...he will be 79 in December, he's lived a long productive full life. What he deals with on a daily basis is painfully frustrating and difficult, everything he used to be able to do is no longer exists; but the other part of me wants to scream at him that we are worth living for, worth sticking around for.

However, my dad and I have a complicated relationship and we almost always have. It wasn't until the last couple years that we really bonded, and that he told me he admires and respects me. I was speechless. My dad isn't one to share his feelings and he usually keeps the most meaningful ones locked inside his heart; not to be rude, just because it's his way and always has been. Admittedly, we aren't as close as my mom and I are, but he's my dad and I love him. I don't want him to suffer but I want him to live. 

  I just keep praying for peace with his decision with hope that the pills will work.
To add insult to injury, today I took my mom to the university hospital in our county, for a consult with a urology expert. She has a tumor in her kidney and the specialist said it's most likely cancer. He said there is only about a 15% chance of it being benign. I will never understand how they come up with those percentages.

The potentially positive news is that primary kidney cancer doesn't respond to chemo and my mom would have denied chemo and then her and I would have argued to no end because I can't imagine my life without my mom. Our hearts and souls are intertwined in ways I can't explain. It isn't to say I don't love my dad dearly, as I do; but my mom....there are no words that could adequately explain my feelings.
If it is indeed malignant, it could also be indolent, meaning it wouldn't shorten her life span. I like the sound of that. To treat it, they would likely freeze it through cryoablation. I like that too. It doesn't sound as scary as the cancer we all fear. But it can also be aggressive and cancer is cancer and being 77 is being 77 and we all have a earthly body that will pass away inevitably. 

However, I am not ready nor do I have any desire whatsoever to be in that place with either of my parents anytime in the near future.

I am their only child...Gavin and Chelsea, their only grandchildren. 
We have lived 5 minutes from each other for a year now. My mom lived with us for 3 months when my dad was in the hospital recovering from his stroke, and we cried when she moved into her own place....5 minutes away because it wasn't in our house. We didn't have one argument or one irritation; we enjoy each other so.

My mom has a VERY special relationship with my kids. 

She has spent the night in the hospital with me and Gavin and with me and Chelsea when both were hospitalized at separate times. When they were both babies and really sick she took turns staying up with them all night with me so I could get sleep. She takes them shopping, she feeds them to their heart's content, she is like another mom to them, only better, and they cherish each other. 

This past year has been hard for my kids because the stroke changed my dad in so many ways. Those changes have hurt his heart and made him irritable and it sometimes unintentionally gets taken out on us--and on the kids. It hurts Gavin's and Chelsea's hearts because they love my dad so, and it hurts my dad because he loves them so. While it's a different slightly more complicated relationship than they have with my mom, it's a cherished one all the same.

We see each other almost daily, and my kids almost always cry when it's time to go even knowing they can see them tomorrow; even at age 8 and 11. 

It's like our hearts and souls are all tightly intertwined together, perfectly clicking, a perfect match. I can't imagine how they would feel, how they would respond to either of them passing away, and I don't want to.

My mom is going to have a biopsy of the tumor in her kidney within the next few weeks. They are going to call on a date in the next couple days. I will take her and be with her every step of the way all while hoping against the odds....for my mama...the one who occupies a huge piece of my heart, the one who is as much a part of me as my arm is to my body.

So many bible verses are running through my mind right Proverbs 3:5-6 and Ephesians 3:20....but I saw this on Pastor Rick's facebook page...a short poem...not a bible verse...and it shares my heart quite adequately:
I trust Him when my heart is weak
I trust Him when I cannot speak
I trust His plan is good and best 
By trusting Him I find my rest

Please pray for my dad, mom, Tim, Chelsea, Gavin and I....small but strong and mighty in love.


  1. Everyone fears a loved one's death, my mom works as a RN in the hospital, some people she see's are in their 20's - brain dead from a stupid accident they got their selves into,the only thing worse then not being able to use half your body, is not being able to see, move but you can still smell, taste, hear.... Im not sure where im going with that. I will pray and have faith in you guys, goodluck.

  2. Praying for your family.

    Hugs and prayers from upstate NY.


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