Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Intellectual vs. emotional

Just a reminder: if you knit/crochet/spin (or love someone who does....), I'm running the 'comment and I might send you some yarn/roving' contest through this weekend.

When my mother was a very young child, her father left my grandmother and Mum, remarrying and moving to NC. Gram went to work and then did something she was proud of for the rest of her life. She said to her younger brother that he should come visit her one day when she wasn't home. Doesn't make much sense, does it, until I tell you that 18 months later my mother was the flower girl when her uncle married her babysitter ;-)

So, not surprisingly, Uncle Roger was (in many ways) the closest I had to a grandfather (as both my biological grandfathers had died when my parents were teens, in addition to my maternal grandfather taking off for warmer climes). Aunt Harriet really liked Mum (well, most people did...) and was an extra grandmother for me.

So - despite his age (89) and state of health (poor) - it was a shock to hear he'd died when my cousin told me. And emotionally jarring....that side of the family is rather skimpy to begin with: Gram and Uncle Roger were the only two siblings, their father was an only child and their mother had only one sibling who died at 9 so Gram and Uncle Roger had no first cousins, Mum was an only child (for Gram; my grandfather did have 2 more children, one of whom is evidently still living, the other having died in a car accident in the 1950s) and Uncle Roger outlived two of his three children. Does make me glad I stopped to see him on the way home from ME in July - taking him out to lunch took some effort but it was worth it!

Then I had an interesting coincidence. Being somewhat of the inquisitive sort, and being of a genealogical bent, I checked the Boston Globe website to read Uncle Roger's obituary. Wasn't there (cousin didn't bother - just went with the Salem paper) but there was an obituary for the father of my first 'best friend' - and the rest of the family (Ellen was the 6th of 8 kids in a large traditional Catholic family) that I would wander away from the house to see. To those of you who are parents, imagine what my poor mother went through: at the age of 15 months or so, I figured out how to undo the night lock on the front door, and would head out to their house as fast as I could go - while avoiding the busy street we lived on and the pond out back. When Mum caught up with me, I evidently would look up earnestly and announce 'me go Petes' (a form of their name). After this happened a couple times, Mum took to putting the chain on the door as well as the night lock. So I figured out how to use my tricycle to undo the lock on the stockade fence that went around the backyard..... Guess it's no surprise that Mum once told me she loved me too much to wish for me to have a child like I was ;-)

Intellectually, I understand that - when one reaches ones 40s - the people who were in their 40s when one was a child will have high mortality rates. But still.... ugh. ugh. ugh.

I have the same intellectual/emotional dissonance when it comes to kidneys these days. I know we need then but.....

Dad is having a biopsy on Jan. 23 for a lump on his kidney. He's got a good doctor but the risks for someone with all his health issues (and the fact that he needs to be taken off a couple of his medications) mean that it's not as simple as it might be.

Then, to top it all off...... Took Jez to the vet last week. The physical exam was pretty much the same as it was in August - she's 20, skinny (despite eating much of what we put down), losing her sight (and a few teeth), and so on. This time, the blood work came back with the kidney and thyroid functions just off. So she can only eat fancy prescription food (and plainly cooked boneless chicken for a treat) and I need to give her half a pill (readings are just barely into the icky range, plus she is only 5 pounds, so even the smallest pill is too big) twice a day. And, yeah, it's me who is doing it..... Seth can't handle it ;-) He'll have to learn, since I'll be gone in 10 days for a weekend in Buffalo for Dad's biopsy (why couldn't it be in ME in July?).


robin said...

Very interesting post. So many things I could respond to - first off, I'm sorry about your uncle's passing. There have been some close family members in my family who have passed and I didn't find out until later, and it was extremely disconcerting. My mother is of the mind that there's nothing you can do about it, they've passed and that's it, but I tend to want closure as do most people.

Now for the kitty related content. It sounds like your Jez is doing pretty well despite having to have special food and take pills, at 20. My "girls" are 15 or 16 years old (not sure of their exact age when I adopted them in 1995) and they are still doing OK. My little one, Gilda, is six pounds, so a little bigger than your kitty, and FatKat is about 13 pounds now (she used to be 16, hence the name). Gilda has no health problems, and Fatso just has an abominable case of bad breath, but won't let anyone near her teeth/mouth. If we had to give her pills we would have an issue, as even the vet has to knock her out for any kind of procedures. We suspect she needs some teeth extracted but are afraid to "put her under" if we don't necessarily have to. Sigh. We just hope they're both with us for a long time b/c I would be heartbroken without them, having spent almost all of my 20s and 30s with them. Sorry for the rambling tangential comments.

Elaine said...

Sorry about your uncle. My mother is still alive but that's it for me of the older generation. She was an only child whose father left her and my grandmother when my mother was a young kid ... sounds familiar, eh? My father was the youngest of 13 kids, but he died in 2001 and he was the last one left at the time. Several of my first cousins were really my father's generation and so are gone too.

My husband's parents are both gone and his last uncle died in May (they were holocaust survivors) My husband and I were in Leipzig where his father and uncle grew up and where his uncle was arrested on Kristal Nacht. We went and visited the house they grew up in, the factory their family had owned which was confiscated by the Nazis, the cemetery my husband's grandparents were buried in, and took photos of everything to give to his uncle to see. We returned home and the next morning we got a call that Howard had died overnight. It was so strange - we had spoken to him before we left and he gave us all the information so that we could find the places, and then he was gone.

My condolences.