Cho Chang

My cat, she who woke me up at 5am, talked and purred constantly, is gone. I got her in December 2017, right before Christmas and thought she would live with me a few more years even though she was already 13. We would be cranky old ladies together.

She had surgery in September, there were tumors in her abdominal area. Thankfully they were benign but the vet told me they could recur. She fussed to me about her shaved belly but her appetite was good, the next day she was purring and waiting at the door for me when I came home from work.

Then she began hiding in the closet and sitting in the far corner of my room. She allowed me to pet her but not for long. I thought it had to do with Christmas and New Year’s. There were strange people and unfamiliar smells in the house. She did not like changes in her routine and I thought it was her way of saying so. She was also an introvert, another reason we got on well.

But a few days ago she was lying on her back and I saw red sores on her stomach. She wouldn’t let me look at them and retreated to the closet. I took her to the vet two days later. I should have done it the following morning but had to finagle time off from work.

I expected the vet to say she would need some surgery, maybe some drugs and send her home in a day. That was on my mind when I stuffed her in the cat carrier. She resisted it, more than usual. I should have noticed but didn’t.

It was a cold and icy morning, schools and the library were closed. The roads were nearly empty but slick. Cho complained all the way.

The vet hadn’t arrived yet when we got there. The receptionist took the carrier and cooed at Cho. They would call me after the vet looked at her.

I was in the grocery store with my son and daughter-in-law when the call came. The vet told me the sores were tumors. She had them inside, from her belly to under her front arms. They were cancerous. Then she said they could do surgery but it was likely the tumors would grow back. Cho was resting, they gave her pain meds and she was comfortable.

The surgery would be expensive, nearly $2,000. It would be hard on her. She would need meds for pain and antibiotics. She would probably have to do it again, the tumors were growing in her mammary glands. She could remove the tumors but not the glands. Mammary glands ran from her groin to under her arms, small tumors had infected the whole length.

So I thought about this. I hated that I knew the decision was already made. There was only one way to relieve her pain, to make sure the tumors didn’t grow back. I checked my savings even though I knew I didn’t have enough. It was to reassure me I tried, feebly but I tried.

Bear and I went to see her that afternoon. She was more energetic, perhaps anxious but I could tell she felt better. Pain meds were doing the job. He petted her, talked to her then left. I stayed with her awhile. I talked with her, held her awhile and petted her. She scrambled out of my arms and feeling better, started to explore the room. She was looking for a way out.

I had to pick her up when the tech and the vet came in. Cho didn’t resist, she seemed to understand. She tried to shake off the IV and twitched when the tech injected the sedative. Then the second injection. Her little body was still and she slumped after a minute. The vet checked her heartbeat and confirmed she was gone.

I am at that point of grief that hasn’t accepted the finality of death. I know it, I was there but it still hasn’t hit me yet. Even though I cleaned her litterbox and donated her food I feel nothing. Yesterday seems unreal, that it didn’t really happen. In another day or a week it will kick in, when I’ll realize she’s gone.

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More Hair

I went for two months without dyeing my hair. Life got in the way and my hair money went toward frivolous things like extra groceries, more bills, medicine and a new tire. That ended yesterday, I went to Julie’s and after 3 hours ( usually an hour and half ) I was restored.

My hair had faded to orangutan orange, my dark natural color and a few gray hairs were showing. I did not feel like myself. But after Julie worked her magic with dye and foil I felt like order had been restored to the universe.

Not Sure

I am not sure about some things– whether or not I should wear pink, if microwaving counts as cooking and where I’m going to be this time next year.

The house where I live has overdue taxes I can’t pay. It will go to the county and be auctioned off. There is no clear owner, none of my family wants the place since they all have homes and the house needs a lot of work. Unless I win the lottery that’s about it.

I’m not sure how I feel about it either. A variety of emotions are floating around inside, colliding with each other. Right now I’m a little numb, and dreading the packing.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to do this. After Jerry passed away I had to leave the old apartment. I couldn’t afford the rent and I didn’t want to be there even if I could. That’s how I ended up here. Even then I knew it was temporary but that was 3 years ago. Because of that I still haven’t unpacked all my stuff. Good thing apparently.

I told Cho and she listened. She seems okay with it, as long as she has treats and I keep her box scooped out the rest is unimportant. The occasional belly rub too.

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I have considered trying to stay but I can’t afford the repairs and taxes, I’m not eligible for loans, which I really don’t want to take out. I admit I’m not that emotionally attached to it, which surprised me. If it goes I know I’ll survive, I have before. It may suck rocks but it’s not the worst thing that ever happened to me. Being a widow and being old gives you that assurance.

One thing I will miss will be these guys.

A very long walk

I did this yesterday. My intention was to do, to try walking 10 miles. The running club had a training run of 10 miles for the half marathon runners, 20 for the full marathon. I couldn’t make their scheduled run so did my own. I did the 10, did more and surprised the heck out of myself. This is the longest walk I’ve done, outside of the actual half marathon. I’m not bragging, but admit impressed by my short stubby legs.

I am very slow, this took me 3 hours and 34 minutes. I want to transition from walking to running but right now distance is more important than speed. The race I’m training for is next month and I just want to be able to do it without feeling like I’m going to die. The way I felt the first time I did it. My entire body hurt and my legs ached. I’m glad to say only my feet hurt this time around. My legs complained but we’re still friends.

I know there are people who will finish the complete marathon before I can finish the half. I’m trying to not feel badly, I remind myself I’m a non-athletic person who hated PE and never played sports in school because I was chubby and awkward. I’m also going to be 53 years old when I do the race and there are lots of people my age who wish they could do the same but can’t. I’m going to be one of the few brown people out there. So I try to remember all this when I don’t feel like walking or that it doesn’t matter.

 

 

ANTICIPATION 

I am in a strange state of anticipation. It’s not a good place, anticipating something I want or to earn. Rather I am waiting, monitoring, the health of my mother-in-law and dad. Both are elderly, unhealthy and I am preparing myself for the inevitable. In other words, I am waiting for them to die.

I am not a vulture, ready to inherit money or their possessions. It’s likely I may have to contribute financially, especially for my mother-in-law who has no savings. What my dad leaves will be mostly memories and a lot of junk (sorry, dad) in the garage. I’m not rubbing my hands together in greedy anticipation. There will be stories, memories and pictures, those we will share and carry with us. I know this because I’ve been through this before. With Jerry and before with other relatives, I know what to expect and I want to be prepared, as much as it is possible to prepare.

I don’t mention this, of course. I look at my sisters and wonder what it will do to them when our dad goes. They were young when our mom died and it affected them for years after; they missed her when they graduated and got married, and when my nephew was born. Our dad was able to be there for those occasions at least y u how much longer? I know they think about this too.

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We all had lunch today with our dad; my sisters, their husbands, my nephew and me. It’s a rare thing for us all to be together but they made the effort because we all know our dad has one operating artery and there is nothing else the doctors can do but give him pills. He goes to his cardiologist on a monthly basis. He eats bacon and pork rinds without being scolded. While we were eating he casually mentioned the pastor he wants to do his funeral, he’s already asked him. I just swallowed some Diet Coke and choked a little. I know he’s made his arrangements, a military funeral and burial. I know, we all know, the funeral home handling the arrangements. He did this because he’s trying to be helpful, to make it easier on us when the time comes. My grandpa, my mom’s dad, did the same thing. Truly it did help but there are still details and hard moments, it isn’t easy. Grief is a layered business.

My mother-in-law is a contrast. She’s not planned for anything. Honestly I don’t blame her, denial is a pleasant place. She’s in Florida (God’s Waiting Room, she once called it) I talked to her and she was groggy on painkillers. She has heart problems too, but raises the stakes with a large blood clot in her left leg. She had surgery on her leg, the clot was bigger than they thought and now she’s recovering in a rehab facility. My brother-in-law is helpless and frankly useless. I ask him how she is, what the doctors said, what about her meds and treatment and he says she’s not good but that’s all the info he has. He’s never had to deal with stuff like this, I know he loves his mom but he isn’t a good advocate. Jerry did all that for them both, he was the steady and responsible one, taking care of them both from an early age. He’s not here now and neither of them seems to know how to cope, Ruth because she’s sick and weak and Mike because he never learned. Most of my info comes from Bear, who takes his dad’s role as protector seriously even when he’s 10,000 miles away. I dread getting a phone call from Bear about his grandma. I hope that when the time comes she isn’t hurting or alone and I hope someone is with my brother-in-law too. I am concerned that I may have to go to Florida, she once told us she was paying on a funeral plan with a funeral home but not sure she kept making payments and I don’t know its name.

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I don’t look forward to making arrangements, calling people, deciding whether to put it on Facebook (probably will for my dad), finding something to wear and dealing with the condolences, among other things. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again but I know better.

Bear messaged me and said he is thinking of visiting soon. His wife’s Visa is still being processed and they don’t know when it will be ready. He says he might come anyway. He says he misses Fall but we both know the real reason; he wants to see them both and say goodbye.

Old 

It comes as a surprise to me that I’m old. I don’t feel old, and have a hard time seeing myself as being old when I think about the future.

One reason is denial. I am not old because there are people older than me; they are old, not me. As long as there are Baby Boomers cluttering up the place I am not old. And I just learned Lenny Kravitz is older than me.

Being old now is different from being old in the past. Not that many people got to be old, but the previous century changed a lot of that. Just referencing “the previous century ” makes me feel a little old then I remind myself this century is less than 20 years old, so chill. Not old, not me, not yet.

This was made clear a few weeks ago, from of all things,  watching All in the Family, a 70’s sitcom. 

As a little kid watching this show Archie and Edith were Old, with a capital O. He was balding and gray, and always bringing up World War II. She was frumpy and absent minded, confused by new and modern things. So I had this image of them as practically elderly and even watching the show with my dad now they are still old. 

The high school reunion episode blew my mind. Edith was invited to her 30th year high school reunion and Archie, who didn’t graduate, didn’t want to go with her. I did some math and realized they were 48 years old. I’m older than both of them were at that time. That was what 48 looked like in the 70’s. Mind blown. 

To me being old is being sick, weak and afraid. I don’t want to be any of those things and I fight against it. I am aware my mother died when she was 7 years older than I am now. Jerry was 52 when he died, but had the physical condition of an 80 year old. So I walk, occasionally do yoga and try to take the stairs when possible. I did the Memorial race thinking about people I know who couldn’t do this, people my age, some older and some younger and I felt grateful to be there. I hope to be active and healthy as long as possible and to kick diabetes’s ass for years to come. 

The only time I feel old is when I look in the mirror. I wonder who is that old hag  and what happened. There are bags under my eyes no matter how much sleep I got the night before. 

I still have reservations about plastic surgery, but procedures like injections are not too extreme. I’m vain enough for it. I may be old but darned if I’m going to look it.

I don’t intend to be dowdy and timid like Edith. Once a woman is 40 she is supposed to cut her hair, to wear neutral colors and flats. I did not, except for the flats but my low heeled shoes of choice are sneakers. Always have been, I  still wear jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. I’m beyond wanting to impress anybody.  I still have long hair, dyed not my natural color. I am quiet but will assert myself and make my presence known, if needed. It’s a strange thing, I couldn’t do it when I was younger but now I can. 

I am much the same person I’ve always been. Conventional wisdom says people get more conservative as they get older but my politics haven’t really changed, the main difference is I don’t freak out as much. After all this time it takes a lot to shock me.  Gossip, supposedly a hobby of old ladies, does not interest me. A lot of stuff that old ladies are supposed to like, such as sewing, crafting and quilting, is not for me, mostly because I lack the skills but I don’t really care to acquire them either.

Yet there’s so much I still want to see and do. I want to travel more, to go to places I’ve never been,  I want to see the new Wonder Woman movie, read the new Neil Gaiman book, read a lot of books really. I want to do another half marathon, maybe more than one. I want to learn to make spring rolls. I want to see if this colonizing Mars thing really happens, and see if a woman becomes president. I want to see the Wings win at least another Stanley Cup, that alone may take years.

Old people retreat from new ideas and technology, change is the enemy. Stuff was better back in the day, no matter what. Perhaps I am getting there because music was better way back in my youth. I like Art Deco and movies from the silent era to the 50’s.  But I don’t fear or hate change the way old people do. I admit I am ticked off at Microsoft over Windows 10, trying to make people pay for Word and Excel–that’s a rant in itself. Maybe I am old after all. Crap. 

At least I haven’t yelled at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn.

I think Maurice puts it well. From one of those old movies I like.