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“Flowers are better received while I’m alive.” Virginia Creek, aka Blue Eyes
Mother’s Day (The One I Didn’t Expect), May 2017
Momma was getting weaker and sicker for several weeks during my last month of work in Florida during March. She described it as “I’m weak.” She had no pain, no appetite, slight and rare brief nausea, and no understanding of what was happening. I encouraged her to have blood work done, which I refer to as “see how the boat is floating.” The blood work revealed a liver malfunction. The doctor told her to continue on and they would check it again in another week. She declined dramatically, same symptoms, but now more dramatic due to weakness.
I was planning to return home on March 27, having already cancelled the April 1st weekend in Daytona for that reason. I had been calling for support from family and friends to check on her and see what her actual physical condition was. Naturally, I received mixed reports based on their own experiences, thoughts, and concerns.
Landon, Momma’s BFF since he was four. Quite a big cowboy now.
I felt dependent on the support and reports to make my decision about coming home to care for Momma. I continued my work as planned with presence and purpose. Somewhere along the process, it became clear to me that I must reference my internal guidance vs. outer reporting to inform me about what was right action for me.
I became still and quiet about what to do and it became clear to me to head north to Bugtussle. I finished in Unity of Orlando, cancelled the final workshop and headed home on Sunday, March 19th. It was a 12-hour drive, and when I arrived around 1 a.m. in the morning, I found Momma unable to walk from one room to the other. I immediately took her to an emergency room, realizing they would admit her. In a few hours, after a CT scan, they found she had pancreatic cancer that was obstructing her liver. She was transferred to a larger hospital in Nashville for intervention.
She had a procedure to stent the liver to get it draining and was discharged after a few days. She returned to Nashville the next week to get the drain removed and for the stent to be made internal. Following that procedure, Momma was notified the obstruction in the liver was cancer. So, in one week, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the next week with pancreatic and liver cancer. She was clear as bell that there was to be no further intervention. She is not a candidate for surgery—too sick, weak, heart condition, and kidney failure. She is not a candidate for chemo and radiation for the same reasons. Also, according to the doctors, patients who had chemo and radiation with this type of surgery only lived one month longer than those who didn’t follow that course.
I’m looking at faith and the meaning of faith during this time. I feel very present, willing, and committed to serving her in all ways possible during this illness. I primarily cleared my schedule so I can be here with her, and that is clearly, completely right action for me. We are able to have frank and honest conversations about what she desires and thinks.
Momma is about the same way in this illness as she has always been in life. She’s strong, willing, practical, and clear about what she wants and doesn’t want. She’s vocal, able to ask, receive, and clear that she is not a victim of anything. In her own words—she wants to talk about her life, the fun, the friends, the great times and memories. She is unwilling to speculate about a future and often speaks with conviction that we will die only once and perfectly according to a divine plan. She is unwilling to have people cry around her. While she says that she understands crying, believes it to be natural and helpful, she doesn’t want to spend her last days crying, and will not. So, “cry outside,” “cry at your own house,” and “don’t cry for me”. She is quieter and slower than before and apparently content to move from the bed to couch one and then to couch two. She can’t talk on the phone much, although that was really her thing before. She is most often ALWAYS listening to me talk and chimes in sometimes. She also is willing to say hi to all callers on the speaker phone when she’s awake, and so far it all comes with a great big smile.
Hadilyn --- Great Granddaughter smooches
Classic to my role in the family and in life, I’m in full caregiver mode. I am calling multiple doctors for perspectives, ideas, and support. Details include: Arranging visits and scheduling support staff; making three favorite meals a day, with three snacks between times. She’s doesn’t have much appetite so I’m waving many options and types of foods to entice her. She loves food so much and is still most shocked about not having an appetite and the change in her eating since this began.
Her primary doctor and nurse are making house calls and have committed to coming out here when needed. I have a company from Nashville beginning on Tuesday that will serve as hospice support. They are available 24 hours daily with doctors and nurse practitioners for all needs. She is able to sleep comfortably and is happy to watch television if she awakens during the night. She snoozes a lot during the day and is fully awake when visitors come. It is something to witness the burst of energy, life, love, and stories, followed soon by deep sleep and the familiar snore.
Fragrant favorites from the Creek garden.
She loves getting mail—opening things. She often asks if I’ve checked the mail. “Has the mail run yet?” “Wonder if the mail has come?” Just yesterday when I asked her who she got cards from, her answer was, “everybody”. What a miracle! So if you are interested in supporting her, please mail her a funny card or something to open. She loves flowers too, as you can tell from the photos. This is not a request for flowers, it is a request however, that if you are going to send them to use our family friend’s florist. Here’s the info: Cathy’s Florist, 615-666-3100.
I’ve been out of the house about 3 times for medicine, taxes, supplies and such in the past month beside the trips to the hospitals. During each of those trips, I saw church billboards that say the essence of this. “God will never leave you.” “God is always by your side.” Seems true—So far and I am willing to discover God more deeply than ever before. Help me to always and all ways be a gift—dear God.
Love to you all and to your loved ones. Infinitely and Eternally,
“One day becomes that day. Ready or not.”
Spidey leading the way on naps and self care.
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