Coloring & Making Bracelets

It has been a long time since I wrote a post about Gary’s mom.  She has Dementia and is currently living with Gary’s younger brother in Florida near Pensacola.  For those of you who wish to know more about her, you are welcome to read these posts I wrote last year –

My Mother In-Law Teacher

…hold back the tears in my eyes

Dementia – It’s Been A Long Road

My Mother In-Law’s Library

You may remember, we took Gary’s mom from the younger brother’s home to the older brother’s home in Orlando right before Christmas last year.  She stayed with the older brother until we took her back to the younger brother in late March this year.

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Prior to our actual move from Pensacola, Florida to Tampa, Florida, I had a consultation with an Oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.  That consultation resulted in subsequent tests later that same week.  There were tests scheduled in one day and it literally took all day to complete them.  A couple of these test involved having to spend several hours in between them and Gary and his mom needed to do something while I was having the actual tests.

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We were fortunate that Moffitt Cancer Center has specific areas in their hospital for just that; finding something to do.  While I was having my bone scan, Gary and his mom spent time coloring and making bracelets.   I wanted to share a few pictures with you of Gary’s mom – my mother in law.  She is 94 and is in great physical heath and she can walk faster than me.  There is the Dementia that causes issues at times, but that day while waiting for me, she was happy coloring and making her bracelets.

And do you see the important message she had for me?

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goodbyes or Thank You

I have in the past had dreams where I woke up and voice recorded what I remember about the dream.  A couple of months ago, I had one of those dreams and though I did not remember a great deal of detail about the dream, I went ahead and voice recorded what I did remember.  It was an important dream, because it involved all of my family and I felt it had significance.

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What was is about and what is its significance?

I was in a large room and all my family were there, everyone.  There were my sons and my parents and my siblings.  There also were my aunts, uncles and cousins, nieces and nephews.  And one other person was there; no longer considered family, but she was there – my ex-wife.

I am approaching each one of them and grasping their hands and hugging them and having a brief chat.  I have no recall what these discussions were about, but I felt it was the last time I was going to see them.  This whole event appeared to everyone including me as not a big deal, it was not exciting nor somber; there was no laughter and there were no tears – it just was the family being together.

Amongst all the family members in line, also standing there is my oldest son, and I bypassed him; I felt I had nothing to say to him.

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You may remember back in March I wrote a post ‘ESTRANGED‘, and I concluded with the following –

One of my sons calls on a regular basis – thank you son.  The other two sons do not call me and in the past I would call them, but now no longer do I call. 

These 2 sons I saw at Thanksgiving and they were aware of my surgery.  These 2 sons I have not heard from since my surgery.  These 2 sons I have not spoken with since Thanksgiving.

Are we estranged?

Again, I just do not understand why?

In the past, I had asked myself, what did I do or not do to deserve the absence from my life; the no communication and the appearance of not caring?

Again, I refuse to blame myself any longer. 

Again, I refuse to cry anymore tears.

In today’s post, I conclude with the following –

Since this dream took place, I have spoken with both of these sons and will write about in a future post.  But in this dream, why did I not acknowledge the oldest son?  And what was this dream about?

Is the dream about me saying my goodbyes before I die?

Is the dream about me saying “Thank You” for your thoughts and prayers that have now brought me to being healthy once again?

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I decided to not put more thought into interpreting this dream; I do not think there is a need to.

Perhaps at the time of this dream, I was still blaming myself and angry, especially at my oldest son.  My relationship is different with him than the other two and our differences and similarities go back a long way.

I do believe my sons truly care about me.  It maybe they just do not know how to display it.

ESTRANGED

Over a year ago, in my post ‘The Good Me & The Bad Her‘, I wrote the following words –

Some of you know my feelings about me as a father to my sons.  Many years I felt like a failure because I was out of my son’s lives at a young age – they do not really know me.  This is one reason for starting this blog; I want to share me and who I am and my life in writing so my sons may someday know who I was and know who I am.

In today’s post, I write the following –

From Google –

es·tranged

iˈstrānjd/

adjective

adjective: estranged

(of a person) no longer close or affectionate to someone; alienated.

“Harriet felt more estranged from her daughter than ever”

(of a wife or husband) no longer living with their spouse.

past participle: estranged

“his estranged wife”

I just do not understand why?

In the past, I had asked myself, what did I do or not do to deserve the absence from my life; the no communication and the appearance of not caring?

I refuse to blame myself any longer.

I refuse to cry anymore tears.

But it does still bothers me, more so today, because my life has changed, my health has changed.

Life threatening or not, shouldn’t this bring us closer?

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I have not written about my relationship with my sons in quite a while.  I have written posts about their birthdays, but nothing specifically about our relationship today.

My sons have known about my cancer since I found out about it; I have hidden nothing from them.  You remember it was important for me to visit my family for Thanksgiving.  I did see my 3 sons at that time and I feel fortunate to have spent some time with them.  For many years I would not receive a call from my sons and it was always me calling them because I was interested in them and their lives.  Many years I did not receive a call on my birthday and even Father’s Day.  I blamed their lack of interest in me on myself; it was my fault.  I overcame this self-blame last year after writing posts about them and me and our relationship.  Today, I no longer blame myself.

One of my sons calls on a regular basis – thank you son.  The other two sons do not call me and in the past I would call them, but now no longer do I call.

These 2 sons I saw at Thanksgiving and they were aware of my surgery.  These 2 sons I have not heard from since my surgery.  These 2 sons I have not spoken with since Thanksgiving.

Are we estranged?

Again, I just do not understand why?

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In the past, I had asked myself, what did I do or not do to deserve the absence from my life; the no communication and the appearance of not caring?

Again, I refuse to blame myself any longer.

Again, I refuse to cry anymore tears.

But it does still bothers me, more so today, because my life has changed, my health has changed.

My mom, she worries

Today is my mom’s birthday!

Image1What can I say about mom, that I have not already written about here on my blog?

Oh, you may have missed some of my past words about mom?

Well, since you asked?

Here are some excerpts from past posts about my mom, a special lady in my life –

Post: Thoughts From Years Past.18

….I once called my mom pleading for her to leave work and come help me.  Mom was there for me, helping me get through a tough time as I found in the years to follow she would do on a consistent selfless basis.

Post: My Time in a Psychiatric Hospital

I looked forward to those visitations because each time I knew my mom would be there – not once did she miss coming to visit me.

Post: Thanks Mom!

My mom may not have always understood me and my actions; but she has always supported me.  She has never questioned my choices in life even when those choices were bad ones and she has always been there to help pick me up so I can continue to move forward. 

Post: Happy Birthday Mom

She was there for me in the most difficult dark days of my life and literally saved me and my life.  She has never failed to be available for me in so many ways, so many times, for so many years.

Post: Magnificent

My mom is splendid, grand and outstanding.  But more importantly she’s understanding, unconditional, accepting and loving.

In my post ‘Mother Mary‘, I wrote the following –

I made my mom cry the other day.  It upset me that she was crying; she was crying because she knows I am going to go through a major surgery to have my bladder removed and some other organs removed, and that my life will be different.  And, I guess as a parent we don’t like to see our child suffer; we don’t want to see our child struggle and we don’t want to see our child go through certain situations.

In today’s post, I want to conclude with the following words –

When I visited my family last month for Thanksgiving and it was time for me to say goodbye to my mom – I made my mom cry again.  Image3Well, I did not make her cry, she cried because she knew what was going to take place very soon.  Thanksgiving would be the last time my mom and I would be together before my surgery.  My mom, she worries – and so she cried when it was time to say our goodbyes.  I hugged her and told her not to worry, it all would be fine; it is all good, I will be okay.

I write this post, thinking she may never see these words, but she knows how I feel about her – I have never hesitated to let her know.

Love you mom – happy birthday!

Terry

Brother, it may be the chromosomes

I wrote a post back in September titled ‘Brothers‘, in which I ended with the following words –

The years preceding today, for the brothers, it was not always easy to embrace compassion, love and expression.

I think they are changing – what a nice birthday present for us all.

Happy Birthday Brothers.

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In today’s post, I write the following words –

This brother and I: maybe what we do not have in common is our chromosomes?

Today is my 2nd oldest brother’s birthday.  This brother and I have had little contact for most of our lives.  We seemed to have had very little in common for most of our years, and we still do in many ways.  But as we have grown older we have changed and come to realize as many people do; life is short.  The very little we have in common is no longer important, and now that we are becoming older – we realize what we do have in common.

We have the same father, who is starting to diminish due to Parkinson’s Disease.  We have a mother who is doing well, but has had her share of health issues the past several years.  Our parents are in their early 80s and us kids know this and realize as our parents are aging, so are we.  And I guess as many people age; sometimes our thinking changes, sometimes our attitude changes and in the case of my brother who I have very little in common with – so is our relationship changing.

This change came about recently and most likely due to my health issues.  Yes, I know, the recent health issue should not be a reason to bring us closer, we should have always been closer.  I think many families are not perfect and my siblings would agree with me when I say our family certainly is not perfect – far from it.  Being an imperfect family is fine with me and I am okay with my 2nd oldest brother and I becoming closer as I battle with my health issues.

I performed a search about why brothers can be different and not have much in common.  I was unsure what I was looking for with my search results and I certainly was not expecting clear-cut answers.  The results I did receive has our differences coming down to chromosomes and gene sequences.

For my 2nd oldest brother and I; well I think no matter our chromosomes or gene sequences or what very little in common we had; they still exist.  But I believe it is what we have in common that brings us closer together.  Parents, aging, health issues, changes in thinking, changes in attitude – that is what is bringing us closer.

I am good with having the improved relationship with this brother – he is important to me.

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I embrace you and I love you.

So 2nd oldest brother, you may never see this blog or read these words – I am thankful our relationship is better than it ever has been.

Happy Birthday Brother!

Caregiver

In my post ‘Stars of Life‘, I wrote the following –

Interesting, many stars in the sky; we wish upon them, we watch them and dream – we dream about stars – the stars in the sky.

But stars are not just in the sky.

I have stars in my life – not just the ones in the skies – no, I have other stars in my life.

In my life, the stars are my mom & my spouse.  You know how important my mom is to me; I have written many posts about her.  My spouse, Gary is important also and I have written posts about him.

In today’s post, I write the following –

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Gary and I were married December of last year by a judge in a courtroom of a county government office.  No witness except the judge, no guests, no cake and a just a couple of pictures.  During our ceremony, our vows that were exchanged to one another were similar to the traditional Roman Catholic vows –

I, Gary, take you, Terry, to be my husband,

I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.

I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Terry, take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

These words I was taking very seriously, while Gary on the other hand was giggling!  Really Gary, you are giggling during the vows?

Okay, so this star in my life, unknown to him that day we were married, is now a caregiver.  I might add he is an excellent caregiver.

Those vows spoken “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.”

The bad times are here, the sickness is here, and those words spoken back in December, between the giggles, they were taken very seriously.

My caregiver is strong, smart, detailed and always ahead of the game.  He keeps me motivated and keeps me taking my medications when I should be taking them.  He prepares my meals, he cleans the 5th wheel, he takes me to my appointments, he makes sure I stay on track.

What more could I ask for?  Nothing, this star of mine, my caregiver, is everything to me.

My husband by law, my partner for life, my star, my caregiver – I respond with the following –

I know I am a horrible patient and I complain and lose my temper and throw tantrums.  I am often grumpy and want to be left alone to soak in my uncertainties.

But remember, I took those vows also –

I will love you all the days of my life.

I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, sickness and in health.

I am thankful for you my caregiver; I am grateful for you Gary.

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A state of mind

I now call myself old.

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They say age is nothing but a number and a state of mind.

I now call myself old.

I googled ‘you know you’re old when quotes’, and received many different results.

buzzfeed.com has a list 56 Signs That You’re Definitely Getting Old(er) that includes the following –

You consider going to the post office as a “busy weekend.”

Crowded places easily frustrate you.

You wake up early on days you can sleep in.

You get teary-eyed during wedding scenes in movies.

You cannot believe people were born in the 2000s.

The celebrities at the Kids’ Choice Awards are complete strangers to you.

You just like to sit down sometimes.

Yes, I now call myself old.  But it is just a state of mind, right?

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My son #3’s birthday is today; he is 30 years old today.  I remember when he and my other ‘boys’ were born, then toddlers and preschoolers; and I remember when they were teenagers.  It does not seem long ago, they were going to school, playing soccer and marching in the high school marching band.  Time continues on, never stopping for any reason and then one day the younger one; son #3 turns 30 years old.  Yes, I now call myself old.

When I turned 30 only 26 years ago, I remember feeling middle aged.  I can remember feeling good about my life, my age and looking forward to what life had to offer.  Fast forward and now all my sons are in their 30s, I wonder how they feel about that?  I have not asked them how they feel about being in their 30s; I would be curious to know.

I realize age is nothing but a number and a state of mind.  But, I now call myself old.

I do consider going anywhere on any day a busy day and crowded places do frustrate me at times.  Every day I can sleep in, but I do not; I always wake early.  I do get teary-eyed during wedding scenes in movies as well as many other scenes especially the movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Are there people that were really born in the 2000s and since when did kids have their own award show?

Many times I just like to sit and think and reflect.  I often reflect on life, my life, my sons and the current day’s events.

I now call myself old because today all 3 of my sons are in their 30s.

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But, I realize age is nothing but a number and a state of mind.

Happy 30th Birthday Son #3.

Dad’s Birthday

Today is my dad’s birthday.

Dad has lived 83 years on this earth today.

The purpose of this post was to write something profound.  A post about this special day; the day my dad was born.

I googled ‘birthday’, ‘why celebrate birthdays’ and ‘what is a birthday’, and I received many different results back.  Some of the results included websites of different religions and the reasons for celebrating one’s birthday.  Other results included websites that sell birthday related products and services such as Hallmark and Dave & Busters.  And then there are other websites with articles related to birthdays such as ‘Why Do We Blow Out Candles on Birthday Cakes?’, ‘Best Birthday Gifts For Boyfriend 2016’ and ‘Birthday Do’s & Don’ts’.

Well there was not anything I found as a result of my search that appeared to be profound, so let us move on.

Birthdays are important!

Dad’s birthday is important!

Dad and I go back a long way; back decades and the relationship was not always good, not always easy – but the foundation that kept us going was always love.

There are many posts I have written about dad – (if you are interested in reading – clicking the title link below will take to that post)

My Dad Who Taught Me Plenty

One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked…

I understand the words ‘I love you’

Anger Towards My Dad

A Letter From Dad

We Darn Near Lost Him

not many handshakes going on these days.

The shell of a man

The transformation of our relationship has evolved over the past 50+ years and today is one of meaning for both of us.  I know my dad felt years ago as I have felt in previous years; we failed as a father, we made mistakes, but we did our best.  Dad and I are very much a like even though we are very different.  Dad and I are dealing with health issues and we handle them the best we can, positive attitude and dealing with our illness one day at a time.

My dad and I are not the best patients: we both complain and we are both referred to as ‘a bitch’.  LOL, we really are, that is us – my dad and I.

Back to the foundation that kept us going – love.

Love may not always be displayed in ways we usually expect them.  My experience so far is love blooms as we grow older and though in the previous years it was not displayed in the usually fashion, it certainly is being displayed that way today.

My dad displays his love for me and I display my love for my dad.

You may recognize the right half of the picture below, as I display it many times here on my blog.  I decided today to display the whole picture; the picture that completes me.

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Happy Birthday Dad.

Love you,

Terry

Brothers

In my post ‘not many handshakes going on these days.‘, I concluded with the following –

Today, I hug and kiss my dad always without hesitation and the response is welcomed.  I do not kiss my brothers, but we do hug now – not many handshakes going on these days.

The first hug and kiss to my dad – I remember that day as if it were yesterday.

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In today’s post I begin with the following –

Today is my oldest brother’s birthday; he reaches 61 years today.  I have written very little about my twin sister and almost nothing about my brothers.  It is not that they are not important; it is I feel they do not necessarily play an important role in my life, the history of me, the current me, that which is me and is my life.

As mentioned in the above post, I do not kiss my brothers, but we do hug now – not many handshakes going on these days.

Recently, well these past several months; the relationship with my brothers has changed some.  Before Gary and I left Dallas last month, we had dinner with family including my oldest brother, the birthday brother.  As we ended our gathering, he asked about me and my condition and the expectations for the future.  I provided him the information I knew at that point, which did not include the chemotherapy that I am now undertaking.  At that time departing from dinner, he gave me a brotherly hug and said, I love you!  First time for my oldest brother to speak those words to me.

Since that night, there was another conversation on the phone and the same words were spoken to end the discussion.

I have always embraced compassion, love and expression.  Each one of these aspects of us is important, not just for us, but to others also.  My dad and brothers not always easy for them, are coming around to embrace these same aspects.  I believe it is never too late to express the importance of compassion, love and expression.

There is the other brother; another older sibling, the one for which him and I have had basically a non-existent relationship for most of our lives.  We are different, or so we thought until much later in life, that life in times that is now.  We rarely speak on the phone and actually see each other in person less often, very seldom and more often rarely.  We have had a couple of phone conversations in the past month, and spoke more to each other than we have in the past 5 years.

Last week, we ended our phone conversation and before we disconnected, there was a pause, nothing spoken, just a pause.  I felt him and I wanted to say something more, to end the conversation differently than we always have.  The time was not right, not yet, but it may be the next time it will be.

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The years preceding today, for the brothers, it was not always easy to embrace compassion, love and expression.

They are changing – what a nice birthday present for us all.

Happy Birthday Brothers.

The shell of a man

Last week, Gary and I had dinner with my dad, my stepmom, my older brother, his wife and their 2 children. This was a ‘goodbye’ dinner of sorts before Gary and I were to depart to Pensacola, Florida; the next location for my next surgery and treatment I will receive for my cancer. At that dinner, I told them I would see them again and that my plan was to be in West Texas for Thanksgiving to spend that holiday with them and the rest of the family.  This is the usual location my family meets to celebrate this holiday.  I said to them with not knowing what will take place in the next couple of months, my plan could change, but at this point in time, I want to be there in West Texas come November.

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I sat next to my dad, who is dealing with Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments.

His body is frail, his body is a shell that is weathered and fragile; that is non recognizable and not the dad I have memories of when growing up and even in these most recent years.  The body is weathering and the Parkinson’s has become strong to the point his voice at times is muffed, and just a noise that at times is unrecognizable in the words that are being spoken.

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That dinner sitting next to my dad, his words were detectable, though very soft.  My ear was in his face trying to hear him, with soft words and his hand on my shoulder I heard him say “If you need anything, I am here.”  I see this fragile man, who I believe is coming near to the end of his life and he is supporting me, comforting me and he is being here for me and this I am thankful for.

The relationship we have now is dramatically different from years past when we were both younger.  If you are not familiar with our relationship, you are welcome to read these posts: ‘My Dad Who Taught Me Plenty‘, ‘I understand the words ‘I love you’‘, ‘Anger Towards My Dad‘, ‘A Letter From Dad‘, and ‘not many handshakes going on these days.‘.

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Later after dinner I was back home and my stepmom sent me a couple of photos she had taken earlier that evening of my dad, my older brother and myself.  It was not until I viewed those pictures, that I saw my dad in a different way.  His body, his shell is deteriorating; as if it is already decaying, already having life drained from it.  It saddens me to see him in this state, because I know he will be gone from this world soon.

But, I also find comfort in knowing we have both changed and we both understand our relationship and love each other for who we are.

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My dad’s shell as a younger man was hardened with no emotions displayed; and now that shell is fragile and worn; but now it is full of love.