Saturday, May 8, 2010

One week after Mom's 98th Birthday

It's been over a week since Mom's birthday. All went smoothly - Linda arrived safely the previous Sunday from Virginia; Mary dodged the flight cancellations due to the volcano in Ice land and arrived on Tuesday. Dirk, Linda's son and my nephew, arrived on Wednesday from San Francisco. So, Thursday evening we gathered with Mom in her room at Millstream Commons and ate cheese, crackers, pickled herring, shrimp and drank beer & sparkling wine to celebrate the eve of Mom's birthday. It was fun to catch up with Dirk and his work at Google, and visit with Mary & Linda, as I knew it would be a busy day to come. The conversations took a twisted turn, however, when Mary and Linda lit into me concerning the sex abuses cases in the Catholic Church and the need for Pope Benedict to resign, in their opinion.

Lately there has been a never-ending stream of revelations about clergy abuse and bishops have been forced to resign in Ireland, Germany, France, as well as earlier in the United States. The underlying question seems to be what did Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) know about these cases and what did he do to prevent future abuses from occurring? I guess I have grown so weary of this as we in Minnesota have dealt with this twenty-five years ago with the Fr. James Porter horrible list of abuses and we have put in place many measures to prevent re-occurrence. The screening of seminarians is much more thorough, the reporting requirements are in place and the background checks and training requirements for people working closely with children and youth are pretty stringent for Catholic parishes and schools. Plus, our knowledge of sex addiction and compulsive sexual behavior is so much more advanced now than it was a generation ago - you can't just "fix" this behavior...its roots run deep in family of origin issues and a couple of visits to a shrink or a two week spiritual retreat are only band-aids. I was feeling quite hurt and dismayed by my sisters' blame-filled conversation, but understand their disgust. It surely put a damper on my joy of the evening and my long, weary drive back home afterwards.

The following day, Friday, April 30, I drove back down to celebrate with Mom and my sisters and nephew - lunch, followed by a concert with the Northfield Troubadors and cake and ice cream and lemonade at Millstream. Mom thoroughly enjoyed her afternoon and visited with a number of friends and well-wishers - probably 50 people in all. I drove home late that afternoon as Eric, Mike, Jess and the kids drove in from Elmhurst and Scott flew in from Salt Lake City that evening.

Our little house was filled with kids, adults and lots of catching-up. It was the first time in many years that our three sons were "back home" together at 5340 Queen. There was much beer drunk and memories shared. Andrew and Joey loved playing with the John Deere toys and Hot Wheel cars that I had purchased at a Northfield antique shop earlier that day.

Saturday morning dawned early (kids were up at 6:30 a.m., raring to go!). We were heading down the Sue's house in Northfield for a family dinner with all the trimmings. Before leaving we received a phone call from Sue that Grandma had passed out for a couple of minutes and she was heading to the hospital in an ambulance - I guess, just too much fun the previous couple of days. We decided to go ahead with the dinner and visit Grandma in the hospital as her condition allowed (minus the little kids). Melinda, David, Iris and Baker were also at Sue's, so it proved to be such a nice day together - kids ran all over inside and outside - tulips were blooming and it was such nice weather. We all stopped in to see Grandma for a few minutes - but she was pretty tired. The ol' ticker is just wearing out!

The next two days were filled with comings and goings - Mike and his family and Eric left Sunday morning to drive back and Scott and I drove down to see Mom once more. Monday, Scott made some repairs to ceiling lights downstairs - it was great to have him around, even though he had to fly home that evening.

So, Grandma is on to 99...she has left the hospital and is in transitional care at Three Links, regaining her strength. But, the reality is that her heart is weakening and these spells can re-occur at any time, for any reason. There has to be 24/7 care to prevent accidents and falls. She hates this layer of care, but is resigned to it. I would love to be able to move her back to her townhome in Pheasantwood so that she could spend her last days/months watching her garden and in the comfort of familiar surroundings. But the level of care needed is the caution. Meanwhile, life goes on for all of us...