Saturday, September 26, 2009


she's failing, my miss ruby.

a month ago, i saw it on a weekly basis, then a daily basis, now.. it is hourly. she was able to use the walker, things change, and i have to fully support her body weight when i lift her, when i move her from bed to chair. sometimes, i have to wait for the aide to allow me to bathe her.. i can no longer get her into the shower alone. i have to change her at the chair, chit chatting with her to remove her concerns over me doing this for her. i remind her she taught me many things as i grew up, and this is the only way i can repay her. by caring for her. by doing. by being there.

she has full on night support when i'm not there for my 12 hours a day... hospice starts as soon as her doctor signs off--with luck, it will be monday.

i train each new aid, fighting to keep the two she likes there as often as i can, since she trusts them to bathe her and take care of her when i'm not around.. she's comfortable in their presence, and lets down her pride. she still prefers me, and i make sure she has all she wants--trimming roses to bring into her room, teasing her, buying handmade rose soap, fixing whatever food she thinks she might want to eat. friday, i made split pea soup for the first time in my life, and she almost finished a small bowl...and said it was good. i know she meant it, too.

we speak of death, her and i. we skirt around the fact it is near, we talk of funerals, and how she wants to be cremated and put in the same grave as her beloved... i tell her it has to be in writing, and we do just that, setting out the funeral.. she asked i make sure it is done, and, so that, too is put into place, filed with the lawyer, copies in file cabinets of three people.

we talk about her husband, her cat... she smiles that soft smile i have known since i was 14, clucking to her little pumpkin, worried who will care for her when all is said and done. i assure her i will, and not to worry... but, she does.

her niece is visiting this week. the same niece who told my mother, "we care for our own" and then put my miss ruby in a nursing home, looking for a vet who would put the cat down. she's not called nor checked in.. and is only coming out because the trip was paid for, and she wants to take inventory. when they put miss ruby in the home, after her husband died, when she was lost and grieving, this niece and her husband were arranging to have a mover clear the house out.

i made it quite clear she is there as a guest, and has no power. i made it clear miss ruby is to be treated with love and affection. i made it clear her funeral wishes would be adhered to, and no one would fuck with them.

her face never changed.

i don't get angry too often... i was angry with her, for what she'd done, what she'd said, how she'd treated this woman.

the aides know to call me if anything is out of order, anything is said that is wrong.. if anything happens.

i have to be away for three days... a good friend is having an operation in tulsa to remove cancerous lymph nodes. she called and asked me to come, the center will pay for the ticket. most importantly, she needs me, and i'll go.

i'll call every day, i'll check in with her nephew by marriage, who is a doll... i'll count the hours.

then, when i'm back home, i'll wait with her.

she won't die alone.

Friday, September 18, 2009

denver again


i've not had time to think or write or do much of anything but fall back into the routine of caring for the ladies, worrying about them... miss ruby keeps falling, and getting her up is difficult, she has no strength in her legs.

i've been put into the position of spending nights.... finally, we've arranged for a night nurse, so, there is the joy of being home again in the evenings.

with all of this, i'm good.

just swamped.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the scream

we heard him half a block away.

i'd taken time to go see nathan this weekend... showing up last night, a day early, he and i decided to celebrate my return to wash heights by going out for a glass...or six....of wine, finally hitting home around 3.15 am.

needless to say, we were loathe to go out today. our tired bodies and fuddled heads were joined by a steady rain falling outside.. both situations combined to keep us up here on the 5th floor of his pre-war co-op. lots of water, coffee, a good carb filled breakfast, hours of survivorman....we finally decided to go out into the reduced to a fine mist rainy day. i'd promised to make 'toad in the hole', and of the six ingredients needed to create the batter, the 'toads' and gravy...he had one. so, there we were, walking up the street towards the local grocery store, discussing the day, family, the pure perfection of 'toad in the hole' and life in general.

"what IS that noise?", we both asked at the same time.

past the bus stop, we saw him across the street... rocking the newspaper dispenser for one of the many free papers in new york. he pushed and pulled it, rocking it back and forth on the sidewalk, moaning the whole time. calling out in words only he could translate, he brought his hands up with full force, yet, holding back on his strike, so that his fists bounced gently off the metal. he backed off, holding his head between clenched fists, still speaking and moaning... i started saying, over and over, "oh, the poor lamb! oh, no!" nathan steered me to the curb, not letting me walk to this man who was in such pain of some sort or another. by now, he'd walked up to a group who were exiting the train station--looking at each as if he were picking one of them up, having only seen photos of the person before. he tipped his head, still comforted by his hands, and rocked back and forth... his moans reduced to short sobs.

we walked down, his voice pitched to that note that allows it to skate on top of normal conversation, riding the sound waves, dipping into your ears before other, regular, conversations could.

i saw a paramedics truck ahead, said to nathan, "let's tell them"--but, they were dashing in with a stretcher, bent on saving a life or something of that ilk.

i noticed then that the wail was quieted. conversations suddenly started back, no longer blocked by the sound barrier he'd created. i worried he'd gone into the station... to lose himself there. i knew he'd more than likely wander down the street... waiting for the time when he'd have to release his pain and confusion over life or the world or the fact subway fares had gone up.

i knew this, and thought to myself, i never wanted to hear that sound again... knowing i could do nothing.

not sure i'd even try.

Friday, September 4, 2009

home away from home

morning of my third day.

the first one went from energy fueled highs to jet lagged lows. red eye flights never sit well with me--who does like them? i met up with cf at the luggage carousal at 6.30... we sat and talked and waited for my luggage (packed an hour before i left--not always the best idea since i left meds behind) to arrive. while waiting, i continued my conversation with the guy who had sat across the aisle from me... he and his partner were in the city from denver for a job, then were going to long island for the weekend. they were both young and in love and vastly entertaining.

luggage in one hand and coffee in the other, we found a taxi that was more than glad to earn $45 to take us out to brooklyn, out under the 'f' line near avenue u. upstairs, collapsed on the sofa, we talked for a few minutes, then, she was back into the city to work. i was selfish and took an hour nap.

lunch was with miss r's nephew, whom i met back in the days when i was full of woe and being a teen. he was then, and is now, funny, dear, mannerly and kind. he lost his partner a year ago, and is just coming out of the black pain that brings on. we had greek food... and i was in heaven.

picking up the kids at grand central, we made a tactical error, and instead of walking over to bryant park and taking the 'f' directly, we wove our way underground via the '4' and the 'a'--finally sitting on the 'f'. the old 'f'... the one with stuff written on it, and crappy seats and it smells as bad as it looks. some of the trains on the line are new and spiffy... more uptown trains than the 'f'... these we were on fit the history of the line.

yesterday, it was shopping on 86th and bay parkway. i love the stores there... dark and crammed together and full of stuff. lots of stuff. 6482 shops and 8746 languages. one store's owner was arab, his manager was italian, and the two clerks were spanish and chinese. the common denominator was none of them spoke very good english.

i saw a sweet little jewish lady in the italian grocery store... she was trying to reach baked beans on the shelf, and was just too short. i asked which one she wanted, she pointed and we chatted. she had those little old lady whiskers, that begged to be plucked... i was sorry she obviously didn't have a daughter to do that for her. no woman with a daughter would be allowed to go out like that. she leaned over to me, and spoke sotto voce, "darling, don't buy the knish here. they have lovely chickens, but, the knish? not so good."

i took her advice.

we wandered into a newly opened chinese food store, connor and i did. i love the smell of oriental food stores, it's magical. odd spices you don't know, dried everything, fresh vegetables and meats. we looked at all the interesting labels we couldn't read, and pondered the use of chicken feet in a dish. the meat was so fresh, it was still bleeding. i said to connor that i'd not be surprised if there was a cow behind the shop, providing the beef. at that point, we were in front of the fish, the fresh fish. the very fresh fish. there, on the ice, was the biggest carp i'd ever seen... flopping all over the place, knocking over other calmer fish, fish who had accepted their fate and died already.

with a look of disgust, the butcher picked it up by it's tail, put it on the wood table, and banged it twice in the head.... reminding it that it was supposed to be dead.

he nodded in satisfaction, and went back to his work chopping and wrapping... connor and i both broke into laughter on our way out the door.

i cooked a nice meal, and ended the day the way you want to in brooklyn... on the front stoop, in comfy clothes, sitting there, talking to a good friend.

and smelling the fall air.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

count down


the car will be here in 32 minutes...not that i'm counting.

i leave my charges in the hands of hired help, who will do a good job for money, not love.

tomorrow morning, i'll be breathing the air of new york, once again.

i can't wait.

ps denver has just become one of the best airports in the world... free wifi. *le sigh*