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 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.
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.
© 2019 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…