Then and Now

There’s been little change and mostly in the wrong direction. When I
left my mother was still in a coma and completely ventilator dependent.
The prognosis from the doctors is a few more days of that at the
outside. Those few days seem especially valuable to me in only this
sense: they are allowing Bud time to make the most gradual shifts in
his heart and his mind to a new reality. Watching that has been the
most painful thing I have ever witnessed and perhaps someday I will
find words to describe the minute changes in his expression, in his
eyes, in his posture as he stands holding the handrail of her bed.

So, a year ago this date, I was waiting for my mother to die and that link will take you to the rest of my entry for March 6, 2006. These past few days I’ve been going through the motions of life, waiting for some thought, any thought, worth uttering or tapping, to come to mind. Nothing there folks.

But life, of course, plows ahead anyway so here’s what I’ve been up to, make of it what you will.

I finally got the taxes and all of the paperwork necessary to live an organized financial life off my desk and mailed to the appropriate people. I’m not sure why that was such a monumentally arduous task, other than the obvious stuff about moves and businesses closing and houses sold and bought. We’ve had all of our accounts under the umbrella of a bank in Michigan and we needed to move those to a bank that had offices in two different states and included financial planning. We’re those people (just like you) who haven’t done any estate planning or wills or found old life insurance policies or thought more than fleetingly and with a nod to euthanasia about where we’ll be rocking when we’re 94- or who will be writing the checks to pay for that nonsense. So now, everything is done. 13 accounts closed (hey! We each had businesses, separate, joint, savings, retirement, checking, blah,blah, blah), consolidated and 5 opened. Plus the kid’s accounts. All of this paper work was enough to remind me that I am not yet up to the task of going to social security to change my name and handle the months of bureaucratic fallout from that. Like T. S. Eliot and cats, I figure I have a REAL name that has not been revealed to me yet anyway.

See how mind numbing this crap is?

I worked at the shelter, went to yoga and went on a garden club tour of the Sunken Gardens last week. From the 1930s to the year Disney opened up in Orlando, Sunken Gardens was the biggest roadside attraction in Florida. What kind of genius buys a 4 acre sink hole, dumps a bunch of palms and ferns into it and waits for it to turn into a gold mine? In the course of it’s illustrious history it also housed "The World’s Largest Gift Shop" and the King of Kings Wax Museum. Those are no longer there, which is probably just as well, although I would have liked seeing them maybe once.The gardens are really something, now that the city has purchased them. They are members of the National Association of Botanical Gardens, on the U.S. National Register of Historical Places and home to my yoga class- so I didn’t really need to take the garden club tour but I wanted to grill the head horticulturist/tour guide about some of the plants and whether they would work in my little yard right down the block. I sure wish I had a 10 foot tall tree fern over here.

Then I flew back to Chicago and took some more zoo tests. I’ve got those polar bears down cold, plus the big cats and the bird house; next time I’ll be holding the microphone at the seal pool. Chicago was busy celebrating yet another Monday holiday- it was Kazimierz Pulaski day. I don’t know why they don’t just close the whole darn city every Monday and give the postal workers a paid excuse to not deliver the mail. Anyway, it meant that lots of parents and children were out in the cold, blustery sun, visiting the animals. I was spreading knowledge in the big cat house, using the Amur Tiger skull as a visual aide. You probably call him the Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) so that’s your new bit of knowledge for the day: there’s been a name change. Get with the program. The Amur Tiger is the largest of the big cats, averaging 500 pounds and they are critically endangered. Captive breeding may be the only hope for this spectacular beast. The zoo has a breeding pair and that’s very special indeed- to have a male and female of the right age and genetic stock- so we’re hoping she will be pregnant soon. In the world of zoos that would be highly newsworthy. Our female was in active estrus when I was there this past week but apparently, together, they haven’t quite figured out how to, ah, use the long form. She’s not getting the bottom-line. They’re not making their holdings grow. Not filing jointly.

Oh, wait. I was talking about the zoo, not taxes. Anyway, there were lots of children around and, in particular, one very sweet little girl, about four and quite dressed up for a day at the zoo with her daddy. I was sort of squatting down at her level and she was admiring the teeth on the skull. I said that tigers needed big teeth like those to help them when they were hunting for food. I asked her if she knew what tigers ate and she guessed, "Childrens?" I said, no and she wondered, "Grown-ups?" and I said oh, no and went on to explain what they ate in the wild. She asked me, "Why don’t they eat people?" and I was sort of at a loss so I said, well, they really don’t live in the same places as people in the wild and she said, matter-of-factly, "there are people here." I said, well, NO, they don’t eat people here and they didn’t even have to hunt here because we feed them…and before I could say meat, she exclaimed, "broccoli!" Right. We feed them lots and lots of broccoli. I’m sure her father is still telling people how she flummoxed the lady at the zoo.

Then I flew back here to Florida and today I took a long nap and I also thought about what kind of food I want to cook for Bud when he comes this weekend.  While I was away some of my orchids that I have hanging in the tree and on the fence right by our little patio and big porch started blooming.

That’s it. Oh. And there’s a big spot growing ala the Shroud of Turin on the lower left hand side of my computer screen. I can only see it in certain light conditions and it’s quite pale so I haven’t figured out if it’s a special sign of something yet. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime I leave you with a fun little link I found over at Michelle’s. What’s for lunch? And when you’re done punching in your zipcode, try Bud’s (49950) and you’ll have some vague idea of just how far away Lost Loon Lodge is from here, there and everywhere.Yelorc_1

22 responses to “Then and Now

  1. Were these orchids already there, just hanging around? (As I sit gasping for breath because they are “breathtaking”) And it has just rained.. or you just watered. They are lovely.

    I know you are looking forward to Bud’s arrival and he must be glad to get away from that snow for a little while. Enjoy each other and the warmth of both company and weather.

    You more than amaze me, organization plus.. and still here those letters… f.a.f.s.a… still stare me in the face. I would rather face ten Siberian, er… Amur tigers than do that.

    Oh, and if that little girl ever starts to flummox you again just whisper this in her ear… “No we don’t usually feed the tigers broccoli or small children, but we could make an exception in your case.”

    This is more than just a hard time for you and no one who has not lost a parent can understand. Even then, each loss is different, each response and grieving process intensely personal. So just remember that I’m thinking of you and praying that God will hold you in His arms of comfort every day.

  2. Oh, look…. I can’t even spell it correctly…..
    FASFA. Or at least I think that’s right.

  3. I am relatively new to your blog and have loved each post. Your pictures are what hooked me in the first place and today went beyond all expectations!

    That tiger is beautiful! Did you take the pic yourself? It would be amazing to be so close to something so beautiful and wild! I am an avid gardener and that picture of the orchid is great…I am drooling in California. I love the plants you can grow in tropical climates.

    You sure have had a lot to cope with in the past year. I have never lost someone that close to me and know I can’t begin to understand the depth of that kind of grief. It just reminds me to live in gratitude for all the loved ones I still have with me!

    Congrats on completing all the financial paperwork. My hubby and I have been talking about starting a trust… better to not procrastinate on these things…maybe tomorrow! Ha!

  4. Whyn’t you work on Ol’ Bud and see if you can get him to move down there permanent. He would make friends quickly, and be MUCH WARMER.

    I love your writings, Sheba. You’re a gold mine.

  5. I agree with Hoss, of course. Poor Bud has so many choices for lunch (not). That wheel is an interesting mechanism. I am impressed with your organization and prioritizing, Vicki. We never do our taxes until Oct.

    It will get somewhat easier, but in no year after this will you pass this date and not remember. Take care, Vicki.

  6. It’s been a whole year. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. I hate those milestones; they always manage to make me very melancholy. The Amur tiger, huh? Ashley did a report on them when they were still called Siberian tigers. (and they were critically endangered then, due to their loss of fragile habitat) Toni’s Country Kitchen appears to be it for Bud’s area; there are approximately 100 restaurants in mine.

  7. I knew it was coming up one of these days soon. A sad milestone. I’m glad Bud will be visiting with you. xoxo

  8. I missed you. Welcome back. I am so sorry about your loss. Even though it was a year ago, I know it still hurts like it was yesterday. Praying for you.

  9. I’m with Hoss. . . on all fronts. 😀 Hold the fort, Florida girl. Your world looks so balmy there.

    As for your anniversary–I’m holding good thoughts for you this week. I’m not exceptionally wordy (gasp) tonight due to complete exhaustion. You know how I was taking a year off… well, that’s kicking me in the backside. Much harder work than I imagined.

  10. Oh, I’m so glad you’re back with us. Your orchids are beautiful, and the tiger is breathtaking.

    These anniversaries are so hard. And they really don’t get any easier. I know. I remember reading your blog last year. I think the photo that hit me the hardest was the one of her ashes.

    I pray that your time with Bud will be blessed. He’s fortunate to have you and you him. Enjoy your time together. Maybe the D-Rays will win a game. They play the Pirates on Thursday here in Bradenton. The Pirates haven’t won a game yet, and neither have the Rays, so that will change on Thursday.

    I still want you treat you to shrimp on my side of the bridge before you make your trip back to Chicago when you stay there for the summer.

  11. Vicki's sister, Betsy

    Just want folks to not feel so sorry for Bud, at least regarding lunch choices. The wheel fails to note at least a dozen excellent lunch and dinner choices closer to Lost Loon Lodge than Toni’s Country Kitchen. This includes Slim’s Cafe in Mohawk, where you’ll find the best pot roast in the Midwest, and several other surprisingly excellent, even gourmet restaurants. All, I might add, at reasonable prices unheard of in big cities. The Keweenaw is not the end of the world, folks — besides being breathtakingly beautiful at all times of the year, it is social, comfortable, safe, and supportive. And tasty.

  12. Prayers for you, Vicki, as you remember your mom and spend time with your Bud. If Bud were to move to Florida, Hoss might move down, too, and then Madame Margaret and I would definitely visit and probably end up staying on and on.

    You write in a poetic and heartfelt manner. But, just when I think I’ve overcome my addiction to your blog, you pull out those lowly puns?! Have mercy!

    Pass the pasties and hold the lutefisk please, Betsy.

  13. I remember the first anniversary of my father’s death. We lit a Yahrzeit candle. It burns for 24 hours. I surrounded the candle with photos and his favorite books and food. It was like an altar, and a combination of many traditions to honor a loved one. The 15th anniversary is on March 14th. I will do the same thing, as I’ve done for all the years since that first.

    That tiger is magnificent. I bet she loved the broccoli.

    Orchids? We’re still in the last days of winter here. Only the crocus and daffodil have risked baring their brilliant faces.

  14. Do we know each other well enough for me to reveal my real name?

  15. Nice orchids.
    I visited Sunken Gardens as a kid, preDisneyevil.
    I remember gigantic koi… and parrots.

  16. Sunken Gardens!!! I’ve been there!…in fact I think I’ve been to every botanical garden in every place my parents road tripped. I don’t get it…us Indians and gardens. it’s like a moth to a flame. And now I’m thinking Debbie Gibson…or Belinda Carlyle…or something.

    I think i need to get the heck out of here 🙂

  17. Our raptors love broccoli, too.

    Thinking of you on this difficult anniversary. I lost my Dad two years ago, and it seems that every day is an anniversary.

  18. I love your orchid pictures. Mine is just starting to bloom also. But, my poor plant has to grow on a warm, steamy bathroom windowsill, not outdoors like yours.
    It’s nice that Bud will be able to visit you. Having family and friends around helps I found. xoxo

  19. Anniversaries like this are hard. They creep up on you when you are not expecting too.
    Thinking of you.

    That four year old was planted to fluster you, I’m sure, and you passed the test.

    If fortune cookies can carry messages, so can spots on computer screens, I’m sure.

    I’m sure it is saying, you are loved.

  20. Toss some broccoli at that tiger for me, will ya? Thanks for not letting him eat children! (Even the ones who flummox you! :).

    I’m so sorry about your mother — anniversaries like this are so painful.

    Your orchid picture was weepingly beautiful!

  21. Vicki, I understand since I’m two and a half months behind your first anniversary. My Mom died from emphysema and other complications – slipped away on a respirator and into a coma for a few days.

    I am so glad you still have your sense of humor! Isn’t that what she would have wanted?

  22. I, too, think the spot on the computer screen is no technical happenstance. And the big tiger won’t eat you for a reason. You still have big work to do – finding your real name and all.

    Thinking of you.

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