July 14, 2014

People are strange, when you’re a stranger…

Thursday was my grama’s funeral. Wait, lemme back up.

Last Friday my mom called Blake and told him that my grama was going to pass either that evening or in the morning and that she didn’t need me there. Somewhere in the communication, I was told it was okay to go though, and I decided I did want to and I wanted my brother to come with me because whether or not my mom needed him, I was pretty sure I did. My Aunt Sandra and her husband John (who is my uncle obviously, but I’ve never called him “Uncle John”, so he’s always just been “John”) were there, along with my Aunt Betty. I hadn’t seen my Aunt Sandra or John in a really long time so I had no idea how that would go and my brain was pinging like crazy with like, PTSD type shit about my grama being on her deathbed in a hospital the same week I’d already been pinging because there is still some traumatic residue from being on my own deathbed 3 years prior. And obviously there’s just the scariness of death and the fact that this would be THE absolute last time I saw my grama ever in my life and she would not be the same lady I hung out with a couple of months ago on her last birthday.

I forget why but my mom texted me from HER finance John’s phone (yep, I’m gonna confuse you with 2 Johns; let’s call them M’John and S’John for “mom’s John” and “Sandra’s John” unless you can think of anything better) as she doesn’t have a phone of her own and she told me that I shouldn’t come to the hospital but lady, I just got out of the shower soooooo too late! If I had a WHOLE SHOWER, it’s serious business. I told her that I had a lot of things in my head from when I was sick that I would rather replace with something more like love and she said that she wanted my last memories of my grama to be spending the day with her on her birthday and I told her I’ll remember what I wanted to remember. And I didn’t say this to HER at the time because it wasn’t the time, but I didn’t want the first death I face as an adult head on to be HERS and my grama’s situation seemed pretty unscary by all accounts. (I was told she was sleeping.) So my mom said okay and I told her that Chad was coming with me and she said okay and by that time Blake had gotten home from work so we left to pick my brother up in Toronto.

To give my family privacy, I won’t describe the scene at the hospital despite really really wanting to. What I will say was that my grama really was just sleeping and she seemed peaceful (but not dreaming) and as things came to me about my own stay in the hospital, I asked my mom questions. For example, my grama was wearing an oxygen mask and I wondered if it was the same kind as I had when I was at St. Mike’s and as it turned out, I had multiple masks, breathing tubes and the trache which just lead to more questions but I didn’t want to bombard my mom completely. My Aunt Sandra and S’John and Aunt Betty left the room and my mom asked Blake, my brother and me if we wanted to say goodbye to my grama. I declined. My brother held her hand and said he thought his goodbye to her. Blake held her shoulder and told her not to worry because he’d always take care of me and the kids. She did not respond to either of them. I declined specifically because I didn’t want her to hear my voice and stay longer than she needed to because it was familiar and because our last conversation in May went like this:

Grama, raspy, breathless voice, crying and like, legit concerned:
Don’t even forget about me, Sarah.
Me, sort of stunned that she thought I *could*, whisper in her ear:
I could neeeeever. I love you. Thank you for everything.
Grama, crying harder:
You’re welcome, you’re welcome.

…and nothing at a hospital could replace that goodbye, for me, we said it. That was it. And this is what she looked like, wearing the birthday tiara I brought for her that day:

That day I brought her a trillium from the forest that I’d dug up the day before because it was kind of a thing between us:

Anyway, she died Saturday, around noon and like, everything between that moment and Thursday is basically one big giant blur of unadulterated panic because I would be seeing certain people for the first time in about a decade and I wasn’t sure who exactly or how they would be to me, but I did know my molester would be there. The one I’d said I’d forgiven but I guess that was just a lie I told myself to try and make it through the funeral because if it were true, I wouldn’t have been freaking out so fucking hard about just looking at him and being triggered. Blake promised me he wouldn’t be an issue. I decided to believe him because I didn’t see that I had any other choice.

Molester sat in the pew behind me, right behind my brother who knows nothing of this whole thing because we’d be in danger of having to bury two people that day if he knew. I just saw his oh-so-familiar profile out of the corner of my eye, pointed him out to Blake and then the funeral started. (Which was super traditional for our family and at a funeral home, not the “simple” graveside service I was expecting.)

When the priest lady or whatever she was, was done her funeral stuff and we were to exit into the salon rooms for food, they went from the front row back and I was in the second row. Blake switched spots with me and I didn’t really understand why, but he told me afterward that with the way it looked like the rows were exiting, molester would have been right behind me if Blake didn’t switch with me. So. Close call. Also I guess when I stopped before entering the salon rooms, Blake said it looked like molester was going to approach me so Blake stood between me and his line of sight.

I have never felt so out of body in my whole life than at this funeral. I was so completely unaware of my surroundings and who was around me. I just trusted Blake. I mostly spent the time eating sandwiches or looking at my shoes in the rectory area rather than deal with people in the salon rooms.

My Aunt Judy, her husband Uncle Clare and her brother, my Uncle Don were there, which I thought was sort of weird. My Aunt Judy lives pretty far away and they’re both from my grampa’s side of the family. My grama and grampa were long divorced before he died 11 years ago. I dunno, I guess it’s not weird, but I just wasn’t expecting them. I hadn’t seen either of them since my great grama Crittenden’s funeral and it was good to see them because I really like them both. I saw my cousin Terri was there (also my grampa’s side of the family) but I didn’t talk to her.

Near the end, we were about to leave and my molester’s brother started talking to Blake. I looked at my shoes because up until that moment, I thought my grama had told him what his brother had done to me and that’s why he was mean to me the last time we spoke. Then I heard, “Elmvale, eh? Near Wasaga Beach? Well maybe I’ll drop by sometime,” and I think my eyes probably got as big as saucers because the way he was talking sounded like my grama – despite all her threats and lies to the contrary – took my “secret” to her grave. Which is a very good thing.

After I got home from the funeral, I looked at Facebook and my cousin Cory (also grampa’s side, my Uncle Don’s son, around my age) reached out to me and sent his sympathies about my grama. I thanked him and said it was good to see his dad because I’ve always liked him and we both agreed that we should have some family time under better circumstances.

Then I was still confused about some things, so after I got my funeral clothes off and we’d been home for a little while, we got in the car and started heading in the direction of my mom’s, where we stayed and chatted for a  few hours and certain things about our family were…illuminated, and now I find myself wondering who my family is right now. Like, after this it feels like it might be bigger than I previously thought. For example, my Aunt Judy totally confessed to Facebook stalking me on a regular basis like a total creeper even though she “doesn’t use Facebook” haha That is SO my Aunt Judy, who I love to death, and who I would absolutely love to spend more time with.

I thought that when my grama died the family would fall apart, but from where I’m sitting now, it looks like my bubble at least, might be getting a little bigger.

May 18, 2014

Random Sunday Morning Memory

When I was little, my Aunt Sandra lived with my grama because she was just out of high school, really, and not married yet, and as a side job, she was a clown. Her named was “Giggles” (I think) the clown and people would hire her for parties and stuff. I remember one time she convinced my grama to come out clowning with her (YES, *my* antichrist grama!), so they did her all up as a clown and a clowning they went! I can’t remember what my grama’s clown name was or really any details about Aunt Sandra’s clowning other than I had a LOT of balloon animals made for me, but that’s pretty lucky I think. To be able to say, “yeah, when I was little, my Aunt was a clown”. My childhood was magical in some respects, as all childhoods are. That’s just one aspect.

May 7, 2013

$10 Worth of Flowers

I went to see my grama and we brought her pizza. Unfortunately Stouffville Pizza, the best pizza on Earth, didn’t open until 4pm so we had to get Pizzaville, which was okay. I’m waiting for the last 2 pieces to heat up in the toaster oven as I type this. We also brought a cake but no one was interested in it so we brought it home. I didn’t notice until we’d already bought it that it was strawberry BANANA so I’m not touching that thing. The kids will eat it.

My grama got a quilt from this organization called Victoria’s Quilts which gives quilts to cancer patients because they get cold easily. There’s a card that came with it that I’ll show you. This is the quilt. There are 2 pictures of it because I think the face Blake’s making at my mother in the 1st one is pretty funny:

This is the card:

I’m always so jealous of people with nice penmanship. Mine fucking sucks.

After lunch, my grama wasn’t feeling well so she went to lay down and me and my mom and Blake sat around discussing “matters” when suddenly my grama called for my mom. My mom leapt up and ran to my grama’s bedroom and came back crying. She handed me a $10 bill and said my grama wanted me to buy myself $10 worth of flowers to fit in the vase I brought her flowers in the last time I came. I think the reason for this is because I brought her prints of 2 of the pictures I took of myself with carnations a couple of weeks ago. And also because she loves me.

The flower shop I like was closed when we rolled into Barrie (by 6 minutes!) so we went to the grocery store instead where they have a flower section and I got myself a $10 bouquet of pink sweetheart roses. I took pics of them because that’s just what I do but they’re not fantastic pictures or anything because the flowers are bright pink and I took the pics in full sun.

I am not a very good flower arranger.

My grama can’t be left alone anymore so my mom, Aunt Betty, Aunt Sandra and Sandra’s husband John have all been taking turns staying the night with her. Last night was my mom’s turn.

While my grama was laying down, we slipped out and came home and that’s really all I have to say about it, I guess. The palliative care doctor said she’s going to see spring and summer so my mom’s trying to get my grama to come to the cottage for a weekend just for a change of scenery. My grama wants to see my kids but Wes doesn’t remember her at all (he was 2 when we moved here) and Madison barely remembers her so to sit at her apartment for any length of time would be really boring and uncomfortable for them. I told my mom that if we could get my grama to the cottage, the kids could jump in the lake if they got annoying and my grama might enjoy seeing them having fun. Anyway, it was just as idea.

And last but not least, on Sunday I took this picture in my front yard. Weird how baby maple leaves look like pot leaves…

March 9, 2013

Under Your Skin

This is a grama update. Skip it if you want, I’ll understand.

My mom e-mailed me on Thursday morning but I’ve got like, fucking mono or something and I’ve been sleeping a LOT so I didn’t actually read the e-mails until Friday morning.

I asked her how sick radiation would make my grama and my mom said she wasn’t sure. She said that radiation causes “extreme fatigue” and that it kills the good cells along with the bad and that’s why people feel like crap while they’re undergoing therapy so that was fact #1. I asked when my grama will start losing her hair and my mom said she wasn’t sure about that either. I asked if it would be rude to bring my grama a nice, black, crocheted hat that I got when my hair was falling out but never wore because it never really suited me and my mom said that would be a nice idea but the problem is, Madison wore it and left it on the floor because she’s a jerk so it got dog hair on it and when I washed it, I put it in the dryer and it messed it up, so so much for that. :o/

My grama’s house doesn’t have a main floor bathroom and she’s not completely mobile so she can’t stay there. The solution was to move her into an apartment in town, so I asked my mom for the address for there and she gave it to me.

The next e-mail was a lot harder to digest because it was just really fucking sad.

My mom and my Aunt Sandra’s husband, John, got my grama moved into the apartment while my Aunt Betty, my grama’s sister, took my grama to Newmarket to see a new oncologist. That’s when they were informed that the cancer had metastasized further into her liver and I know that that’s bad news and my mom hasn’t told me an exact timeframe yet but this new bit of information will likely mean that her life expectancy is a lot shorter than it had been previously based on the information they had at the time.

That’s not what bothered me about the e-mail though. What bothered me about the e-mail was that my grama was scared to go into the apartment, her new home. She and my Aunt Betty sat in the car and waited for the movers to leave and then they waited a little while longer before my grama got her bravery up and made it into her new home. My mom and John had gotten most of the chaos organized, sheets on the bed, towels in the bathroom, the good china out.

My grama’s cousin Sharron showed up with a crock pot full of chili, buns and dessert so they all ate and it was really good that she came. I was relieved when my mom wrote that she had come and sort of helped to diffuse the situation. But still, once everyone left, my grama would be alone in a new place for the first time since Feb. 12th, but more than that, she’d lived in her old house for like, 45+ years and now she’s in this apartment…I just can’t even imagine what that feels like, to be so displaced and facing imminent death.

I’ve had a card sitting on my desk of my “Brown Bee Girl”, which I think is my best painting, and I’d been waiting to find the perfect thing to write in it but I’ve been at a loss. So instead of sending that (well, I probably still will), I sent her a bouquet of flowers with the message “BE BRAVE.” Because I think that’s all you can really say in this situation, or at least that’s all I could think of to say in this situation…this is the bouquet I sent:

I told the flower shop that it would be okay to substitute things if they couldn’t get it exactly right but if there AREN’T sunflowers in it I’m going to be really pissed off, so mom, if you’re reading this and you see it, let me know if there weren’t any. Stouffville Florist is usually pretty good in my experience, but I just have visions of them using black-eyed Susans or something like that instead of sunflowers and that would just piss me off. Sunflowers are kinda my thing

Anyway, it was just really hard to read that e-mail; reading that my furniture delivering, warrior woman grama was scared of something, scared to go into her new home, it just tears me right the fuck up. I can barely even write this post because I’m completely heartbroken.

And I don’t really know what else to say.

My mom just e-mailed me a few minutes ago to tell me that my grama’s property finally sold and the price was pretty sad. I know what it was appraised at and what they got was a fraction of what it should have been but as I’ve explained before, a really really long time ago, my grama’s property backs onto an old dump site, like a garbage dump, and it was never sealed properly so this stuff called “leachate” is leaking onto my grama’s property and that really devalued it. But I guess everyone’s relieved that it’s sold so I guess that’s good. So this is where I grew up. Look at it while you can. The fact that it’s not “ours” anymore hurts my heart because my grama’s property has always been a really special place for me but I guess change is inevitable, right?

So that’s what’s happening right now and no, I am not okay.

February 19, 2013

She said “yes”. Kids too.

Just not yet. She’s still really overwhelmed. And according to my cousin Haylie, getting LOTS of visitors which I’m sure is a mixed blessing.

February 18, 2013

“Golden Girls” is finally finished!

More pics can be found over at Etsy and greeting cards, postcards, postage, stickers, buttons etc will be available at Zazzle in about 24 hours!

The ONLY thing I don’t like about this painting is that the paper I used for the middle part of their dresses contained real metal I think and it oxidized when I varnished the piece, which is why there’s a green hue to parts of them. I still think it looks okay though, it’s like a patina. This painting is definitely in my top 5 favourites that I’ve done and it all started with a trip to Michael’s, as the best paintings often do. The flowers are by Martha Stewart and I’d actually had my eye on them for a while but didn’t know what to do with them until I saw those two new papers in the scrapbooking aisle.

My two replacement jars of Triple Thick varnish came via UPS last week so I pitched the bad one I had left and used the new stuff on this piece. The difference in texture between the old product Michael’s sold me and the fresh product straight from the factory that DecoArt sent me was pretty crazy. The bad stuff was thick and sticky like crystallized honey and the new stuff was more the consistency of liquid honey. Anyway, they were still super nice to send it to me and I’m grateful because the stuff’s $10 a jar and replacing two jars for me would have been a burden.

My grama has a room at the hospital now and I guess my Aunt Sandra’s husband, John, and their son Tyler are going to visit her today. My cousin Haylie didn’t get up to see her on Sunday as planned because the roads were apparently bad. I think my mom’s been there every day since she was admitted and probably my Aunt Sandra too, so at least she’s not alone. As far as I know, no one’s asked her if she wants to see me yet but if she does, I’m going to try and go on a day when no one else is scheduled to visit her. I know firsthand how shitty the days are when no one can visit or they can’t come at visiting time or they can’t stay until visiting hours are over. I was pretty lucky in that I don’t think there was a day I was in the hospital where no one visited but there were definitely days where people couldn’t come until later or they couldn’t stay until visiting hours were over. My grama has a pretty big social circle so I expect that she’ll have a lot of visitors, but at the same time, she’s pretty proud and may not want people to know she’s there. I can see it going either way. Now that she has a room, I’m thinking about sending flowers. She always says roses are a waste of money when carnations are just as nice and last a lot longer so I’ll probably send those, if I send any at all. The hospital in Midland doesn’t allow flowers in their ER (there’s a sign that says so) so it’s possible that hospitals don’t want you sending flowers anymore. I dunno. I just feel like I should be doing something, I just dunno what. I’m not sure what she has there to keep herself busy when people aren’t visiting but someone should make sure she has crossword and word search books and magazines because hospitals are fucking boring. At least I had the iPad to keep myself busy but she wouldn’t know what to do with an iPad even if we got her one. I dunno. One day at a time. I think my mom said tomorrow morning she’s having the bronchoscopy to see what kind of cancer is in her lungs. I think that sounds terrible.

Blake ordered my new phone on Friday and I’m pretty fucking stoked for it to get here. I went with the Samsung Galaxy Note II over waiting for the new BlackBerry with keyboard because I wanted more screen space and the BB keyboard would take up 1/3 of the device. Also on Thursday I think, we went to the TELUS store and I played with the Note and loved the stylus. I’m going to whip people ate Draw Something, I tell you whut.

On Saturday I downloaded the new Tamagotchi app and on the first day I managed to kill my Tamagotchi so I started over and let me just tell you, this app is fucking obnoxious and eats your battery life worse than GPS because it’s constantly running in the background so you know when your Tamagotchi needs something. I’m going to half-assedly play with it until I kill this Tamagotchi and then delete it.

Anyway, I don’t really have a lot to say today so I think I’m gonna go paint and watch stuff on Netflix.

February 16, 2013

Tomorrow Never Knows

This is a difficult post to write and I kinda resent having to explain myself. Blake says it’s fair, but I disagree. I shouldn’t have to explain myself. But here I am, doing it anyway.

In Live Journal, in the comments on my last post, GirlRedfined said this:

I’m curious as to why you want to go see your grandma? I have been reading your journal since before Wes was even a possibility and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you guys get along or like each other. You’ve had her out of your life for many years already and it seems strange to want to backtrack now just because she’s ill. As for the idea of ‘leaving it up to grandma’, what grandma in the world is going to tell their grandkid they don’t want to see them? Even if she doesn’t, I don’t think she’d ever tell you that. I don’t know.. just wondering about the motivation, I guess.

So you’ve been reading for the last X amount of years and you’ve observed that my grama and I don’t get along. I get that. But were you there for the 22+ years before that? I mean, there’s a whole lifetime of stuff that none of you have any idea about and neither do a lot of the people in my family.

And she’s not just ill, she’s DYING. She is NOT going to live through this. The oncologist has said, based on what they know so far, that she has 3 months to 2 years and that any treatments she has will be to improve her quality of life, not to save it. There is no saving it. She is going to die. This is fact. Do you understand that? This is permanent. The end.

And ‘what grandma in the world is going to tell their grandkid they don’t want to see them?‘ MINE. Hello. Do you not remember? When we moved out of the apartment and into our house, she refused to say goodbye. She said no. She went out  somewhere, on purpose, and wouldn’t say goodbye. Then for the next few years she sent the kids birthday cards, which I never gave them because if you don’t have a relationship with me, you don’t get to have a relationship with my kids – especially when half of our fight was about her undermining my authority with Madison and teaching her to lie to us. She knew that. It was put out there. She had every opportunity to send ME a card or letter or phone me, but she didn’t. I think we both assumed we had a lot more time to resolve this. We’re both very headstrong women and to put it bluntly, we’ve been having a “stubborn fight”. Neither of us wanted to be the one to break down and approach the other.

Little known fact that I just found out: when I was sick, my grama wanted to donate to the fund my step-mom started to help support Blake but my Aunt Sandra talked her out of it.

(My Aunt Sandra is my mom’s sister and my cousin Haylie’s (mintof7 on Live Journal) mother.)

I believe my Aunt Sandra’s motivation was to protect her mother from me – as unnecessary as that may have been – as opposed to just trying to be hurtful. And I think what my Aunt Sandra’s trying to do now is the same thing. She doesn’t want me coming in, causing drama and making everyone upset, ultimately making the end of my grama’s life more difficult.

There are certainly times in life where you have to disassociate yourself from people for your own mental health, especially when you happen to be – at the time – dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness. This is something I’ve had to do several times throughout my life in order to protect myself from getting hurt. However, there is an organic process that goes along with that. For example, right now I’m not speaking to my step-mom and my father by proxy because my step-mom is pissed about some of the things I’ve written about her on my blog. When I told our mutual friend about this, I said to him, “I’ve learned that life is long and this will all play itself out eventually”, which he agreed with. Because it’s true. When you love someone and when you have a family bond with them, nothing is ever permanent. Both parties may say it’s permanent and it may feel permanent as it’s happening but I’ve learned over time that these things rarely ever are. Once both parties are healed enough, they come back together and can move forward productively from there.

If everything stayed the same, if she didn’t get sick, this organic process would eventually play itself out and we would re-establish our relationship at some point in a more healthy way. But now we don’t have that time. While it may not be the healthiest way, the easiest way, the best way, we have to do this now or we don’t do it at all. And I think both of us would be hurt if we didn’t do it. People are trying to help her by keeping us apart but did they ever consider the idea that us remaining apart could hurt her? Resolving this could potentially bring her more joy and peace than leaving this fight open-ended. And while resolving it would certainly give me closure, I’d certainly accept it if she wasn’t at a place where she could see me yet. But it should be HER making that decision for herself because she’s a fucking grownup capable of making her own decisions.

The actual source of the fight we’ve been in has to do with control. She was trying to control my life while I was also trying to control my life and her goal was to prevent me from making what she saw as mistakes that could potentially ruin my life. She was trying to get me into a productive life and make me her version of a productive member of society but while doing that she was making the direction I wanted to go in life more difficult and she failed to understand that I too am a grownup capable of making my own decisions. And those decisions – 7+ years later – have all been pretty sound. What she didn’t understand was that it was a conversation. For her it was her way or the highway. And with two headstrong people, everyone gets hurt in those situations.

She hurt me by trying to control my life, I hurt her by trying to circumvent her control and it was a vicious cycle. I had to remove myself from that cycle in order to heal and I hope she’s had that opportunity as well. Now, there are no control issues. My life is completely separate from hers. And I’ve done okay. I’m in a healthy family, I have a loving husband, who loves me almost as much as I love him, I have two amazing children who (I believe ) are amazing in part due to breaking said vicious cycle, we’re homeowners, I have a well paying job that I’m actually good at and don’t totally hate and we have a plan for the future where everything just gets better.

I want to go to the hospital and show her “this is my house”, “this is my family”, “this is what Wes looks like now”, “Madison has blue hair”, “these are the kinds of paintings I make now”, “these are my dogs”, etc etc etc. I want to show her that despite all the bad stuff she’s no doubt heard through the grapevine, that we’ve still done pretty well for ourselves and that she doesn’t have to go into the next life worrying about me as she’s worried about me my whole entire life. I want her to know that I can take care of myself. And I want to share the parts of my life she’s missed, I want to show her all the things we’ve created for ourselves.  I want her to know that we’ll be okay.

I’ve been alive for 34 years, as of 2 weeks from now, and certainly my grama and I have had ups and downs, but to totally dismiss all of the “ups” and only see the “downs” is to disregard the majority of our time together. In my opinion the healthiest thing would be to let her know that I value those “ups” and don’t just remember the “downs” and that I appreciated all of the happiness I got from the “ups” and all of the growing I did due to the “downs”. Because our lives are a collection of experiences, all of which are relevant and important in us becoming the people we are. My grama was extremely influential in the person I’ve become, for better or for worse. I want to remind her of the “ups” and maybe add a few more, while there’s still time, to help influence the person I’ve still yet to become.