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August 1, 2008

What, Me Worry?

I've been pretty much inspiration-free for the last couple of days. Actually I owe the Farmer's Wife a post about how Inspiration Grows Like Mold....the Inspiration is there, but it requires photos and pointers and things. Mr. Sweetie is in charge of the camera. It's one of those new-fangled gizmos with the adjustable flash and all kinds of bells and whistles. I am not camera literate. Yet. Mr Sweetie probably won't understand or appreciate taking pictures of what I want.

"You want me to take a picture of what? How is that funny?"

But that's not what I wanted to say. I got off on a tangent before I even started. Because I was going to post on one of humanities' favorite things to do EVER: (aside from shopping and eating)

Well, maybe it isn't our favorite thing, but we all excel at it ~ worrying. We are a global community of worrywarts.

Those of you whose life is perfect may be excused from this rambling.

I am a Champion Worry Wart. Meet my sister Sue, also know as Stew. She can what-if anybody under the table.

My mom was an underacheiver in the Worry Olympics. Throughout a life of circumstances and "shit happens" situations she would appear to be serene and calm, sailing through as if whatever crap life handed her things were just fine.

She was divorced in the early 60's when divorce was Not Done. She was in a car accident shortly after that and required eye surgery. I don't remember who took us four hooligans in while she was in the hospital, just that she wore an eye patch for a bit and that she acted as though this was completely normal.

She managed to clothe, feed and shelter us on a secretary's salary. Most of the clothes came from a cousin in New England after the cousin had outgrown them. We thought that getting a big box of clothes periodically was shopping. It was as big of a buzz then as mall shopping is now.

Every summer she'd load four kids and on several memorable occasions a full-grown German Shepherd into an old VW Beetle and drive from Ohio to northern Maine to visit her mother and family for a week. Calm and serene, no worries.

When we got too loud or obnoxious she'd yell "Heavens to Murgatroyd! By the Lord Harry!" We knew we'd truly crossed the line when she'd holler, "Hell's Bells!!!"

It's easy to cross the line when there are four small wiggling bodies and a German Shepherd in the back of a Bug.

I spent many of my formative years thinking that God's name was Harry.

She met and married my Dad after a two week courtship in the early 70's. She didn't spend much time at all worrying about putting a wedding together or the implications of spending the rest of their lives together. They just got on with it so they could get to the happily ever after.

The only time that she was really and truly overtly worried, overwhelmed and a jangling bag of nerves was when my Dad required emergency surgery for a ruptured gall bladder. After 15 years of marriage, and seeing the love of her life so ill, she had somehow lost the coping mechanism of saying "let go and let God." She worried and stewed and worried some more. Dad died suddenly ~ complications from multiple back-to-back surgeries led to a heart attack at 55.

Thank God for Stew, I mean Sue. Sue would make sure that Mom came to her house for lunch and a daily dose of Sue-ness. "I was taking a shower with the three-year old and she looked up at me and said, "Mommy, why do you have such big (and here I thought I'd have to explain breasts to a three year old) knees? " " A daily dose of Sue can get you through trying times.

Mom somehow managed to get through our house burning down, her mother's death, and her diagnosis of colon cancer, all within a few months of each other. Once again, she was like a duck, calm and serene on top of the pond, and paddling like hell beneath the surface. When the time came to sign up for hospice, she had the hospice nurse and a representative from Elderhostel come to visit almost simultaneously. She had an opportunity to go to New England to draw light houses, and damned if she was going to miss out. It didn't matter that she couldn't draw a stick figure or that she was too weak from chemo and advancing illness to walk more than a few feet.

Mom was moved to the hospice center when it was time. Had she been alert enough she probably would have hollered "Hell's Bell's" at her four hooligans. She was reclined in a big hospital chair with her little chemo beanie sliding over her eyebrows. We were worried that the lights were bothering her eyes so somebody (Sue) put some sunglasses on her.

The likeness to the dead guy in "Weekend at Bernies' " was uncanny, And I'm sorry, really, really funny.

We refrained from posing Mom in unlikely but hilarious positions. But we thought about it.

Apparently giggling in hospice is acceptable, as long as you don't bother anybody but the nurses.

We got a call from the hospice center the first night of Mom's admission. She'd fallen out of bed but had not sustained any injuries.

When we asked her what she was doing getting out of bed without help she said,

"Oh, I was so worried about the cat."

Moral of this hellishly long post: Don't worry about the cat. Just don't worry.


jill jill bo bill said...

I LOVE it! As a hospice nurse in my past life, we saw that more than once. And you so right. It's okay to laugh during grief. It is the best medicine and makes the best memories.

Thank you so much for sharing it. It totally cracked me up.

iMommy said...

What a great post - thanks for sharing some of your mother's story with us! She's had an incredible life.

Marnie said...

found you via liberty post - loved this post - I try but fail to be an underachiever in the worry arena! look forward to reading more from you.

Amy said...

i loved this post. it was so cute and heartwarming! i've never seen your blog before so thank you for leaving a comment so I could follow your tracks back! thanks also for the link-love which i discovered upon entry. i look forward to visiting you again. take care!

lifeinredshoes said...

Wonderful post, you had a great Mom. I am a recovering World Class Worrier, the old me could have competed in The Olympics of Worrying. The older I get the more I realize just how little control I have over life. Your doing a great job, Red Shoes

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I loved this story. What a wonderful writer you are. And this is the first time I've heard about anyone other than my own mother use "Heavens to Murgatroyd". So many things I liked about this post. And I love your sense of humor...right up my alley.

I have a relatively simple camera that I use, although I'm sure it does more things than I know how to do. I just want to point and click. But when I do, whoever is with me invariably says, "Why did you take a picture of that? How are you gonna blog about that?"

And thank you for adding me to your blog roll.

Mama's Losin' It said...

You're description of your mom is beautiful!!

And what a childhood!

scargosun said...

Hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! Yours is great! I look forward to reading more!

Crazed Mom said...

Hi. Thanks for visiting my blog, Chasing Myself. I start the LPN program 9/22. I finish my AA 8/14. RN? I'm focusing on LPN classes for now. I do have almost all pre-reqs to ladder up into RN program if I want to later. :) Math sucks by the way. LOL.

I've actually read Studs Turkel the first time I went to college back in the 1980's. He is quite interesting. Wate for Elephants was excellent, I read it over spring break. I'll be on the lookout for a fine balance. Thanks.

I really like your blog title. :)

Ramona said...

What a lovely blog! And you are a good daughter...lucky Mom. Thank you for sharing your story. And...thank you for visiting my blog for my house tour...Have a great rest of the week.

Smiles ~ Ramona

Carolina Girl said...

Awesome post! I love the weekend at bernie's reference - that is so funny! And it definitely helps to laugh in times of stress and grief. Thanks for sharing that...especially because I'm a classic worrier!

Heather said...

That's my new phrase because I worry endlessly. I have to tell myself, "Don't worry about the cat." It'll make me smile. GREAT post!!

Suzie said...

At times like that you just gotta laugh. Its the best and only thing to do.

Cristin said...

I LOVE This post! I'm a nurse, and have had many hospice patients, they're my favorite actually... I would have loved taking care of your mother and her family I can tell...

thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog...

Chus said...

This is what I think: Heavens to Murgatroyd