Every Wednesday night, I call my mom. I've been doing this pretty much since I moved up here, and if I don't call at the appointed day and time, my mom worries. This situation is far preferable than the previous one: In my last long-term-relationship, my then-girlfriend hated my mom, and, thus, we rarely talked. Those 5 years of practically not talking comprise one of my biggest regrets.
As I've mentioned before, my mom has terminal ovarian cancer. It was caught very late, and she went through a year of rather intense chemotherapy before she was healthy enough to have surgery. The surgery was last January, just as $evil_project was starting to heat up, and I went to visit. While I was there, she told me, quite matter-of-factly, as only she can, that the doctor gave her 3 years, maybe 5.
There was some hope that she would get that time, since she was continuing to respond well to the chemo - the protein they measure to detect the cancer had dropped to close to 3 (normal is less than 30 or 35 - it isn't an exact science by any means). She's been off the chemo now for several months, since she'd been through that course, and after as long as she'd been on it, the effects of the poison were worse than their benefit. The follow-up was an oral medication that, I found out tonight, isn't working.
Her abdomen has swollen again, and she's having trouble breathing (she was diagnosed when this fluid build-up had nearly caused congestive heart failure). Her doctor told her today that she's going to have to return to IV chemo - a different drug with even worse side effects. She will first have to have a heart test, to make sure the medication won't kill her, and then she'll have nausea and vomiting, her hair will fall out again, and her skin will peel off. The hope is fading.
My 87-year-old grandfather was coming back from the county dump a few months ago and ran his gigantic Dodge pick-up truck off the road. He had fractured ribs, a fractured vertebrae and rather serious head injury. He's been in a nursing home since he was discharged from the hospital, and my mom has been taking care of him. She's there every day, she takes him to all his doctor's appointments (2 or 3 a week, many weeks), and she's cleaning out his house so it can go on the market. She's also on 24-hour call to talk him down from his delusional episodes.
This week, he's moving into an assisted-living home. Fortunately, the delusional episodes are less frequent, but he'll never be able to take care of himself again. Unfortunately, my mom is becoming less able to provide the care he needs, and I can tell she feels guilty about leaving his care to others. Earlier this summer, my mom didn't believe he'd survive to move from the nursing home, but he's one stubborn son-of-a-bitch, and he's getting stronger every day. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. I feel guilty about that thought.
Brother P and Soon-to-be Sister-in-Law A
My brother and his fiancee are getting married September 23. They've been together for close to 5 years, I think, off and on. It's not been the most stable of relationships, but they seem to get through the rough parts and come back to one another.
I have to admit that I'm not entirely looking forward to their wedding, though. I'm not entirely sure why. It probably has something to do with the 150 or so other people who will be there. And I hope the marriage is successful.
The wedding is an excuse, though, to travel to NCia and see my mom and my grandfather. And to pick up stuff from my grandparents' house. My grandmother - who died 13 years ago - was the most important person in my life when I was a teenager. It will be bittersweet, I think, to have her antique dining room table (inherited from my grandfather's aunt), her china and crystal and silver, and her piano. She wasn't particularly musically talented, but I remember her playing hymns and singing to herself when I was a kid. She paid for my own piano lessons and gave me free access to her piano when I didn't want to practice at home. Like I said, bittersweet.
J is my youngest brother (24 years old), and the one I'm closest to. In general, he's a good guy - so long as we don't talk politics and so long as we don't discuss the tactics he uses for restraining and interrogating those he arrests. He's getting married in May to his 19-year-old fiancee. They've been dating for a year and a half, and I worry. She's very nice, but also very small-town-Southern. They are intending to invite something in the neighborhood of four-fucking-hundred people to their wedding. That I am really not looking forward to, especially since it will be in a Pentecostal church and it will be dry.
And I can't help wondering if my mom and grandfather will still be around to see the wedding. That may very well be the worst part of it.
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