HOW OUR BLOG BEGAN, in AUGUST 2010: As many of you know, Phil has been struggling with a very complex series of neurological issues for about 5 years. This past spring, the issues became especially intense as a result of an unexpected cognitive decline and a fall on May 15th that resulted in a head injury and further decline. And then, on July 16th things catapulted to unbelievable, as Phil suffered from a severe "electrical storm" in his brain that essentially created a status of brain death for two full days. Inexplicably, the very morning that neurologists and other medical team members were planning removal of life support, Phil began breathing on his own and his brain waves returned to a stable, while still abnormal, level. Since then, each day has been a unique journey. And while he and his body continue to demonstrate a will and capacity to live, he continues to have severe deficits and it is quite uncertain as to the path he will take. As loved ones close in can attest to, it has been tricky to keep up emotionally with all of his changes, and provide the needed support. We can only imagine the hard work Phil has gone through as his brain has taken him through such roller coaster experiences. It is our goal here to keep family and close friends apprised of Phil's ongoing story, and to build connections that honor him.

AND THEN, SEPTEMBER 11, 2010....Dad's remarkable journey alongside us culminated in a gentle, generous death.

And so, my goal here now as his daughter is simply this: to record snippets...pieces of his life that my memory offers back to me, pieces of myself as I learn to live without a dad. I hope all who meander by find life, and hope, and peace.

Monday, August 16, 2010

ahhh, sister love

Don't ya just LOVE sisters?!

I just got off the phone with mine.  And then checked the site here, and Mom's sister sends her love to the mix.   Great to have you here Sandi!  I will always so appreciate you and Jon for your kindness during your stay in May to help when dad fell and sustained his head injury.

So....Cheryl came through as she always does, with those signature words of wisdom which always prove to be just what's needed to grow through the next day.  And it all seems so effortless to her....what a gift.  Did I say that I just LOVEEEE my sis?!

I was prepping her for my mushy blog posts, particularly last night's where I admit to the sadness.  And how it's creating a layer of complication for balancing dad with the rest of my life.  How it's almost psyching me out.  She said she knows what I mean.  And that this is what she's been saying to herself to keep from staying in deep dark dad places in her mind:

We can't project how it is for Dad.  We're not in his brain, or in his body.  We don't know if it's as horrible for him as we see it to be.  We can't imagine it until we've lived it.  When it's our time, we may be surprised to find that this kind of time alone is an okay way to become ready for heaven.
We talked about a book series we both love, The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.  (Check out a cool online reading group for their summary.)  It's a simple, heartwarming story of Africa told in the voice of a traditional, proud Batswana woman, a private investigator named  Precious Ramotswe.  I love the series for so many reasons...perhaps most of all because it normalizes for me things about their country, and poverty in general, that from the outside looking in otherwise deeply sadden me.  (Like, according to her, the only floor that makes sense for a home to have is the mud floor hut of a traditional African hut.  She highlights how it cools the room, and how easy it is to keep clean.  Or how, while inconvenient, the chickens that come inside from the streets do have the benefit of breaking up the monotony of an otherwise uneventful day.  And don't get her started on her White People Monologue:  about how sorry she feels for those pasty, sickly looking people visiting from far off lands...who never seem to have enough and keep looking around like they just can't get comfortable with the facts of how life is meant to be lived in her great country.  Ok, so now -- see what I mean?! An opposing view from someone on the inside can make something awful seem kinda meant to be.) 

Anyway, Cheryl and I quickly referenced tonight Precious Ramotswe's perspective on end of life living:  how when you're old, you deserve to sit on the veranda in the bush and watch the cattle. You don't have to read, or talk, or watch children or cook or chase chickens.  Just sit and watch the cattle.  It's just right.  It's proper.  The reward for a life well lived.

On to Cheryl's genius.  She admitted that clearly dad isn't exactly in a rocking chair on a veranda drinking bush tea, but Precious does lead us to a comforting thought.  That we 40-something daughters can't know, at least not for a few decades yet, what dad is going through.  But perhaps it's not so very different from watching the cattle in Africa.  Yes, America's pasty-white version of it, to be sure, with cadillac chairs and hospital beds and feeding tubes and therapists who keep waking you up and putting you to work...but perhaps it, in its own way, is soothing and alright.

So, a context for my sadness, and a glimpse of something that's better than it seems.  Well done, sis! 

And then just when I thought we'd come to the end, she tops it all off with a reminder of eternity. That life, for all of us, ends up being just a BLINK.  And who of us can't make it through a blink.  Especially when just beyond the blink awaits Christ, in love with each of us.

Ahhh, life is good.  Did I MENTION how much I love that sis.... oh yeah, I think I did.

Maybe in honor of mine you should go find that sister of yours and give her a big smooch on the cheek.  Hyatt girls, I know you've got one or two that can't be too far out of reach!!!  (Miss you guys!!)  And Ginger, you can kiss us cousins and call it even!!

xoxoxoxoxo to each and every one of ya's,


OFFICIAL STATUS:  per mom....

* Spending time with him these past days, it is hard to know if he is improving or declining.  Not being able to understand any words he is mouthing really does make it tricky to know. 

*  No word yet on how much longer therapy will continue.  But they will have a long term care bed for dad at the facility (AZ Veteran Home) when therapy has to end.


1 comment:

  1. Am happy to see this blog started, Sis -- and will weigh my words carefully from now on :)

    Was trying to figure how best to connect with our family and this could be it!

    I appreciate you for so many things - thanks for putting this together.