A Turn in the Road

I generally take to walking the animal trails through the woods when I have a bit of time to hike to the river. I’m familiar with those paths, and I have my favorite landmarks to stop at and rest or scout around a bit. But recently, FD and I took to doing a little mushroom hunting along the old river channel, and the animal paths often disappeared into thickets of cat brier. This was not an area I had spent much time walking through in the past because of the difficulty of getting around, and it was evident the animals had taken a steep path down to the water’s edge to avoid the snarl of thorns. But FD and I had to forge our way through the mess. Still, the discovery of morel mushrooms was always worth the efforts we had to make to find them.  At the end of the hunt, we came back looking as if we had been in a cat fight, but FD had collected a nice little bag of mushrooms for us to enjoy.

Since late December, FD and I had been through a wearisome period. My mother-in-law was in the final stage of metastasized breast cancer, and it soon became evident that our help was needed. She had relied on her husband to treat her naturally over the last few years, but those efforts had failed. It was frustrating that, while there were physical signs the cancer was killing her, she and her husband refused to accept the reality of it all. Instead, she believed her husband, and the natural “cures” he administered, were healing her. Regardless, and maybe more conscious of the gravity of the situation, her children and grandchildren from out-of-state made arrangements to see her, and a few family members stayed on to help.

My part in this, was to get busy making healthy meals – both for my mother-in-law and her husband, and for guests who came to stay and help out. We opened up our two guest rooms for those who came to assist or simply visit, to have a place to stay. Our niece, Kati Jo, who lives about an hour from us, came often with her four-year-old son. I looked after him many days. She brought her other three children on weekends sometimes. And her brother, Brandon, came from California the last two weeks, to serve as his grandma’s primary care giver – putting his Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) experience to work to provide the care his grandma required in the end.  It was a busy time, and often frustrating for me. I had to ask for help.

FD’s sister Julie, and two of her children, Kati Jo and Brandon, stayed for the long haul to help with hospice care.
Great-niece Kailyn and her brother and mama came from Dallas to spend a few weekends visiting with their great-grandma.
FD’s sister, Jo, and her daughter Laura made several trips from Dallas, Texas to help out. Sometimes we were lucky with the weather to have a nice evening fire going in the fire pit down below the slope.
Aunt Lori distracted Cade by making him a chef in charge of cookie baking. We made a lot of cookies, since I was also baking for tax season for the folks I used to work with at the accounting firm.
Jaci is an excellent artist in that she sketches the “personality” of her subject. Here she notes Uncle FD’s impeccable style, right down to the embroidered Ralph Lauren “polo” pony on his shirt.
Jaci seems to know her great-auntie very well – strength, compassion and a love of animals!
Cade and I tried to make time to relax and take a little time out in nature.

FD and I moved to the ten-acre ranch eleven years ago to help his mother. At first it all went well with us making some improvements to the property. But when she remarried a couple of years later, things proved quite difficult for all of us. What was peaceable with his mother, had become unbearable at times because of her husband. It wasn’t long before very few family members came to visit her. Friends no longer dropped by. I admit I had great difficulty getting along with FD’s mother over the years. We disagreed about almost everything and I often found myself avoiding her. I am sure to her, I was equally frustrating. But it was her husband who I often found myself completely flabbergasted with and intolerant of. Over the years, I watched how poorly he treated her, yet she would defend him if I questioned her. FD and I finally resolved to do our best to keep things cordial without being very involved. So, it was not surprising to us that guests and visitors came to our home just across the pasture, after visiting mom, upset and frustrated. It was maddening at times, but we all had to be tolerant in order to do the work necessary to make things comfortable for FD’s mom.

Punkin the squirrel was a welcome visitor most mornings. She reminded me that food was an important commodity to have on hand for guests who come to visit.  Punkin sure loves her pecans!
Lollipop was not fond of so many guests coming through our house. I often found her nestled in the toy box, hiding. It was a stressful time for Oscar, Mr. T and Lollipop too.
Adding to my list of troubles was Mr. T’s eye injury. Lollipop punctured his good eye while playing, rendering him mostly blind now. I’ve been making regular trips to Oklahoma City to an animal ophthalmologist to help him through this injury.

As difficult as those two and a half months of hospice care were, there were a lot of good moments too. FD was off of work for three weeks, and his co-workers were great to check on us. Our neighbors were wonderful to stop by and help with food. And family really came together to pitch in to make my mother-in-law’s last weeks comfortable, surrounding her in love. My family in Nebraska called almost daily to offer support. But the thing that spoke to me most, was the love and compassion I saw in FD. He tenderly cared for his mother, and he was a good brother, uncle and husband to those of us who relied on his strength and encouragement. In the weeks that have followed since his mother’s death, FD and I continue a path of forging forth with what needs to be done, and finding strength in each other’s abilities and gifts to get the job done.

FD and Brandon continually checked Mother’s vitals and made sure of her comfort. FD’s sister Julie came from Louisiana for several weeks after Christmas to help her mother. She managed to stay at the house and was instrumental in keeping things civil with Mom’s husband. Everyone who came to assist seemed to have a gift in helping Mom with comfort and keeping the tone positive.
FD took time to put together a very important new Transformer figure that Auntie Lori couldn’t figure out.
FD kept company with his mother for hours at a time. His final gift to her was resilience and dedication, providing  comforting words of love and thankfulness.

© 2019 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

 


49 thoughts on “A Turn in the Road

  1. Lots of love and hugs to you and the family Lori. We have suffered our own tragic family death in recent weeks which has been shattering for the two of us. My husband and I are still working through this with lots of love and support from good friends. Will tell more when I have more time. I looked after my brother who had advanced prostate cancer in 2014 for the last two months of his life when his wife abandoned him because she couldn’t handle the fact he was dying. He was also in denial but was so sick when he came to us. His death at 52 was hard but the death of a child at 39 is even harder for different reasons. Life seems to throw you a curved ball when one least expects it. Take care. Hope to get back to my blog sometime soon. xx

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    1. Oh, Lynn, you surely have had a lot to deal with. Thank you for taking the time to explain why you have not been on your blog. I cannot imagine going through what you’ve been through, and I do hope that you’ll share more when you feel up to it. I truly missed being able to write. It helped me to write out my feelings, even though I was careful. Your situation is way more emotional than mine. And because of the nature of my situation it wasn’t that I grieved my mother-in-law, it was the difficulty of her husband, and then trying to understand other’s reactions about her. I’m afraid that darned measuring stick of mine had to be put down for a while and I had to tap into compassion and love, respecting all who came, to have their own experience, though I did not understand. Life is complicated.

      Lynn, you are an amazing person and such a sweet friend. I hope you can feel the love and hugs I’m sending to you on the wind. May you and your family find healing in the love and compassion of others.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow, what powerful healing words you use Lori. You are sure right about life being complicated! Relationships can be so tricky and the reasons for why they have to be that way not always rational. We are travelling OK thanks to so many special and supportive people in our lives. I have a partially written post on totally different theme waiting to be completed. Life, work and study are getting in the way! xx

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    1. Well, it was your posts, and those of many others who kept me going, and made me wish I was out there in a field of wildflowers running free, rather than dealing with a “trying” time. I’m thankful little Cade was my excuse to get out in the orchard and relax for just a bit in the afternoons. Everyone needs an escape!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Paulette. I didn’t have many good photos to draw from, and I realized I had neglected to use my camera much. It was such a busy time. “Poignant” is a word I would use to describe how emotion-provoking your stories (novels) and photos (rescues) can be. I love seeing all of those little “mug” shots – they provoke many emotions.

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    1. I love that word herculean! That would perfectly describe what it took to deal with that toxic husband of hers. I did not realize fully, until we sent him packing, how difficult the last nine years has been with his manipulative presence on the place. I know you understand about toxic people… it takes another level of tolerance to keep one’s sanity.

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  2. Oh Lori, how sad. My Condolences to you and FD. Wishing you and FD strength in these difficult times. I have missed your posts and will be waiting for the ones to follow in time. Laura

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    1. Thank you, Laura. It feels good to be on the other side of this experience. Now I can take a little more time to get what needs to be done accomplished, spend a little more time out there in nature, and write again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so sorry for your loss, cancer is terrible for the patient and the loved ones, I lost my beautiful Mum nearly 5 years ago, she was only 77 years old, it is unbelievable in this day and age that more cannot be done. Your blog is amazing and your family are absolutely wonderful, I wish you all the very best. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you Lilly. I’m sorry about your mum. Cancer is a terrible thing to witness. We respected mom’s decision to treat homeopathic, but I do think there are so many treatment options out there now, that maybe she could have considered. She was not open to any of it. Hospice is a wonderful thing though, and we were thankful we could allow mom to be at home during this time.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your woods and home were the refuge of peace, warmth in the storm – it allowed space and time to recharge before heading back in to do what must be done. All your past care and efforts fortified your home and land to radiate back positive energy so desperately needed. Rest and know all of you were valiant and caring. Toxic people are such a trial and obstacle.
    Hugs ( and pets to both pups who put also be exhausted) Take care. The world will wait.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head, my friend! As soon as the “toxicity” of the situation was dealt with, things began to flourish. There will be upcoming posts about the work we have to do, but it’s work FD and I have longed to do for many years. Spring work has added to the mix, what with mowing and gardening, but it feels good to have the tough days behind us.

      We’ve been taking Lollipop, Oscar and Mr. T for rides in the Kawasaki Mule and they seem to be doing better now that it’s more quiet here. They’re a resilient bunch – even Mr. T having lost most of his sight now, is getting back to enjoying the normal way of things around here.

      Being out in nature has saved me many times.Our great-nephew Cade was my excuse to get out there during this rough period. The orchard will be wild again this year. But it proved to be a good move to leave it be last year. Momanthem, (mama and the triplets) flourished last year and they all made it through the rut, and Mom is expecting again. I think the orchard probably needs to stay mostly wild. We’re also hoping to find someone to take the downed pecan wood – we don’t want it to go to waste just laying there. Hopefully, we can find someone interested with the equipment to move it!

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  5. Lori, I don’t even know where to begin as I try to write this through tears. But, first of all, my deepest sympathies to FD, you and your extended family. Family love defines this entire post. You were there for each other during these most difficult of days. You write of selflessness, of love, of caring, of giving, of being there for one another. What a blessing to your mother-in-law in her final days. Surely she felt deeply loved.

    That final image of FD with his mom, well, that says it all. What incredible love. What a gift. That photo is powerful and emotional and overflowing with love. That we should all be loved, and exhibit such deep love.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words, Audrey. I am very sure FD’s mother felt the love. FD (and his siblings) had helped their dad in the same way many years ago. This was a lot more difficult, for many reasons, but it was wonderful to have positive family vibes going, and a support system that endured through the rough stuff.

      There are several photos of FD with his mother, that are special to me. She was not an easy woman to deal with for most of her life, but the love of family endures. FD and his siblings, extended family, and even a few friends and our neighbors gathered to support us. It reminds me of a few other posts in the last couple of years, where “gathering for the good” was about love and support.

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  6. We are in Dallas waiting for a connecting flight. It was good to see you had posted and are getting on with life, but especially endearing to read about FD and what a good human being he is. We all like to think we can be like that but not everyone is able or willing, when the circumstances require. Hugs to you both. xx

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    1. Well said, Ardys. I admit the toxicity of this situation made an already difficult time, much rougher than it needed to be. Thankfully, we upheld and supported each other. I personally was better to be here in my home (just a short walk from the other house) as a support person. Having dealt with difficult circumstances with my mother-in-law and her husband for almost a decade, I knew what I could and could not tolerate. And that is just fine. We are not all superheros that can manage it all. 🙂

      Dallas is just four hours from here. If feels kind of nice to know you were so near! Happy travels to you, Ardys. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Extending my deepest sympathy to FD and his family and to you Lori. I know it has been very difficult for you and FD. My sincere hope is that by now, that your lives have returned to a semblance of normalcy. I shall be in touch at some point in the future.

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I’ll be writing about what’s been going on – and it’s not what I would call normal. But it is good work, moving forth in a positive direction. My days are busy with non-stop work, but I’m happy and productive.

      No worries about writing… this time of year is so busy. I love spring but it’s always with the knowing that outdoor work is constant! Enjoy the pretty spring weather and warmth!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anne. I have to say, your humorous posts kept me in good spirits these last few months. You are an inspiration too. I gleaned a lot of positive vibes from my blogger friends!! Thanks for that!!

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  8. It’s wonderful that you have such a large and supportive family, as well as those friends you mentioned, to help you through such a difficult time. It’s often said that we don’t know how strong we are until that strength is needed, but even so — no one is strong enough to handle it “all” all the time. I’m sure there were days when you would have been perfectly happy to join Lollipop in the toy basket.

    Being able to be outdoors and working in the coming weeks will be so helpful. I suspect you’ll find blessings arising where none were expected, too. A very small, almost trivial, example: as much as I loved both my mother and my cat, being able to face another hurricane evacuation without the need to care for them is a great relief. We do what we need to do, out of love and a sense of commitment, but sometimes it’s good not to have to do so much.

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    1. I love what you said! All of it really hit home for me. Joining Lollipop in the toy basket would have been wonderful! She was so well-camouflaged in there that we often thought she’d gone missing. And, she loves her toys, so I’m sure she found comfort in that basket. They say that Japanese Chin are not good with little children, and I have found it to be true. Poor Lollipop, being so tiny and cute, was the most sought after and was constantly on the run. Mr. T was ill during this time and so stressed that he had diarrhea, so we often came home to messes to clean up. Oscar is a needy fella, and suffered without the usual attention I give him. Animals are resilient. We all are.

      My next post will be about the aftermath with the house over there. Both mom and her husband were hoarders, and mom never cleaned. You can imagine the layers of dirt and grime, and clothes and items that never left that house over 40 years since her parents passed away. Before we can clean much we much go through layers and mounds of trash and oddities that could never be thrown away. Oddly, there is joy in discarding things, and getting to the bones of the situation. The house seems to be breathing again, and the toxic atmosphere has lifted. I think that was most important to recognize – just how toxic things had been for so long, and what a tremendously wonderful time for Spring to arrive with its freshness and beauty. This year has been exceptional with needed rain… as if to cleanse, and give new life!

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  9. You are a very strong person, Lori, to have dealt with this long period of stress with such grace. I don’t think I could have handled that as well as you did. Sorry for the loss of FD’s mom, and I hope the two of you are beginning to get your own lives back and regaining a sense of peace and control. Sending a big hug.

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    1. One good thing about being at this age and stage in life is that we learn to recognize the “lesson” or the reason for the experience. I saw a different side of my mom-in-law through other’s eyes, and I had to put that measuring stick of mine away for a while. I think we all managed to recognize better, that each of our perspectives were important, to be able to heal and move forth with what needed to be done. The toxicity of one person, sort of drew us together to work for the good of helping mom pass. It was weird how it worked, and we all found our way through with love and support. Life is magic sometimes.

      I can’t say it enough how reading other’s blogs during this time really helped me escape and focus on good and lovely things back here at my desktop. I tried to take time every morning to read and focus on what was going on with friends. Your trip took me away to a mystic land. I felt like I was there with you!

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  10. Beautiful story, Lori. Moving images too, especially the final one. Now I understand your recent silence.

    There are lessons here. For me, FD has become a model of the ancient Roman* virtue “pietas,” (duty, loyalty, adherence to family) combined with the modern male’ developing sense of hos role as nurturer, caregiver, and provider of affection, not just of support. You are blessed with such a man and his very human family..

    Many other thoughts arise from my visit. I expect to.revisit and learn more.

    * I was a Latin teacher for a while. And I like history . Some of the old Roman Republic`s ideas and ideals have stayed with me.

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    1. Thank you, Albert. I am indeed blessed with FD. We have always been loving and considerate of each other, supportive and encouraging of each other’s needs and experiences,and this whole trial helped me see him in an even greater light.

      I love what you say about thoughts and revisiting to learn more. I often do that with poetry that you write or post from another. I suppose many situations and experiences cause us to ponder and glean more of what the experience can show us. Life is beautiful that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Lori, I wish I was there to give you a huge hug and a helping hand with all that still needs to be done in the aftermath. I wish I could take over for you while you have a well deserved retreat. If all goes well financially for the next year, I may well be in the US to share that long awaited walk through the woods with you and chat and laugh until our faces are sore. You’re an extremely caring and generous person, Lori. I do hope you have some time to recharge soon. Sorry this is so short. My computer is still not running yet as I’m waiting on a part so I’m typing one fingered on my phone. All my best to you, dear lady. X

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    1. Well now, for you to have to type all of that comment one-fingered would be a definite challenge! Ha ha! Your tenacity on hikes (and with life) are not so different than my recent three-month stint with hospice. We do what we need to to survive. Sometimes we are fortunate to find a place of rest and have a few laughs along the way. It’s all part of the experience. Yet we’re resilient to move forth and find something good and understanding in the path… wherever that takes us.

      Thank you for checking on me recently. Your email came at just the right time! I’m always amazed at how so many of us stay connected when we’re hundreds or thousands of miles apart. It’s one of those mystical things of life that simply bowl me over.

      I hope you do manage a trip to the US! I’ll be sending positive vibes that it can work out for you! You might be bored with a simple walk in my woods. I don’t have near as many scary and unusual critters in my neck of the woods as you do in yours! But, I’d bet we have plenty to talk and laugh about!!

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  12. Dear Lori,
    I was almost on the verge of emailing to find out what’s going on – since you haven’t posted for so many months!
    This very touching and piognant post explains it all.
    I can relate to the pain and the trauma FD and you have gone through – wnet through pretty similar times several years ago when I lost my mother.
    Stay strong and stay well.
    God bless us all.

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    1. Thank you, Mandeep. I’m always a bit miserable when I cannot make time to write. My head is filled with stories as I work – or work through a situation. It’s a release for me. So, I’m happy to be back, even though there is still much going on, at least I got this first post out.

      I think hospice is a wonderful thing, but there can often be much more work than any of us realize at the start. We had done the same with FD’s dad, helping him to pass in his home as well, but that was much easier than what we dealt with here. This time, there was much to battle with a toxic person, where we had to walk on eggshells a lot, to even be in the house over there to assist mom. But, we all stood strong in support and caring for one another. We all had to step up and do what was necessary, working through our own emotions and putting aside issues that would not be beneficial to her situation and comfort. It was difficult, but we all managed.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Ah…these kinds of times are the ones that plunge us to take a look at what is left in the depths of our soul AND also bestow us with everyday examples of the strength, beauty and resilience of the human heart – Although I am late to ‘chat support’ party, just figured from my own walk down these kinds of pathways it would be okay to reach out, send ya a ‘virtual hug’ and say, “Way to go on finding the grace and beauty moments in a hard road to walk!” Hugs and Luvs sent your way!

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