Saturday, June 06, 2009

General catch up

What's been happening? I'll have to be guided by the pics, in date order, not significance.

We got kitties! Smudge and Snowball are part of our crazier household now. We drove all around Adelaide trying to track kittens down - Beth had just had a tooth pulled (decayed badly, just like Ryan's, sigh, what am I doing wrong here?!), and they had a day off school (not for the teeth-pulling, something else I can't recall). We drove down to the animal welfare league to get a cat. I like the idea of 'saving' a cat, plus I liked the thought of them being already desexed. I wanted an older kitten or cat, as Sophie is quite timid around animals, and I thought a kitten would be too much for her. BUT Animal Welfare League was quarantined and not giving out cats (it DID NOT mention this on their website where they had cute photos of all the cats available for adoption). We decided to look for another animal shelter, so I rang my trusty internet service provider (thanks Mikey) and got some numbers for some places. The only places giving out cats were even further away. Not happening. Someone suggested vets often have cats to re-home. So I rang a few vets. These phone calls are all happening while we are sitting in the car on a side street, by the way. No-one had cats. Several had just given away gorgeous cats yesterday. Apparently. In the end, we remembered walking past the pet shop in Gawler that morning that had a sign out the front that there were kittens on sale - $15 instead of $25. I wasn't rapt in a) kittens and b) pet shops, but we'd been promised feline additions that day. So off we went to the pet shop. There were three sister kittens in there - all black, two with white feet and bibs, and one with a brown nose. The kids played with them, Sophie mostly hiding from them. I'd already had in my head that we might not have been able to choose between cats at the shelter and might end up coming home with two, so when the kids couldn't decide between the three sisters, I said they could choose two. Much rejoicing. Of course, the last lonely kitten looked a bit sad when we took her sisters away, but as I told the kids, 'two kittens is okay, three is crazy cat lady territory'. (although I have owned three cats at one time before) So two it is. Smudge and Snowball are their names. They've settled in pretty well. We keep them locked down the living part of the house, since whenever they are allowed up to the bedrooms, mysterious piles and wet patches appear on beds. Not nice. Just recently we've equipped them with collars, bells and nametags and are starting to let them outside more. This is mostly because litter trays stink. And children hate cleaning them. Of course, when the kittens are outside, the kids, particularly Sophie, are paranoid. 'Mum, Smudge is stuck in the tree!' 'Mum, Snowball is close to the fence!'. But so far they've survived. Of course, I got half a tree trunk fall into my eye the other day when we were trying to 'rescue' the kittens from the grapevine, but I survived. I should also mention that super timid Sophie is now the cat-whisperer. She spends most of her time holding or patting at least one of the kittens, and is constantly asking me to take photos like this one:

So the plan of having animals in the house to get her more comfortable around them clearly worked. Yay parenting skills!

Sophie started kindy too. Her confidence in everything has really increased. She is so grown up!

Onto Mother's Day, which managed to be a two-day extravaganza this year. Michael was at our place on Saturday and so he helped the kids make french toast and pancakes for breakfast. Yummy, of course (although served with a fairly vile mango and banana juice - fortunately the children liked it so I didn't have to tip it down behind the bed and pretend I drank it all).
On Sunday, the kids were on their own, and they made pancakes again (both times were out of a packet, but were still yummy of course). And then they disappeared for a very long time. Sophie's job was to keep me in bed, which consisted of making me read her stories. Clever strategy, that. When the others finally came in, they were bearing THIS:

THEY MADE ME A CAKE!!! A cake! With icing and everything!! Including a M made of lollies (which you could invert to make a W, for my initials, apparently: Wonder Mum).
The cake was kind of dry, but I relished every bite. They made a cake! From scratch! My kiddies are growing up. They mostly respected my wishes and didn't buy me hardly anything. I got presented with lots of handmade cards and gifts, and they sang the indonesian 'mother's day' song to me, which apparently translates as 'you're my mum and you love me very much. i'm so special so you love me very much. it's mums job to love her kids.' and so on. Those crazy Indonesians.
We did have a sad interruption to our mother's day festivities (fortunately in the lull when the cake was being baked) when mum rang to say that grandpa (who'd been in intensive care for almost a week) had had a cardiac arrest overnight. They had managed to revive him (unaware it was against his wishes), breaking a couple of ribs in the process. Poor man, makes me cry to write it. He was still alive but in a coma on life support. We had been to visit him on Friday, at that time he was uncomfortable, with back ache mostly, but glad to see the children and all the drawings and things they'd done for his room. He looked so little and frail in the intensive care bed, with all the machines monitoring him. But he was still happy and smiling and not wanting to be any bother to the nurses. On Saturday, he was apparently quite well and happy and even sat in a chair for a while. Plans were afoot to move him to the hospital where his kidney specialist works (further away from family). Then early Sunday morning he had this cardiac arrest. Despite the resus, prognosis was not very good at all.
After I spoke to mum, the kids and I took time to sit and cuddle and cry. We love our grandpa frog. Sophie was extremely distraught. Her first comment was 'there'll be no more chocolate frogs' but her sorrow was much deeper than that. She cried and cried. Beth cried too. Hannah tried to cry, but I made sure she understood that she didn't have to cry to be sad. We knew she was sad even if she wasn't crying. People show their sorrow in different ways. Ryan didn't cry but was also deeply sad. We decided not to go visit grandpa - he was in an induced coma and we'd already seen him on Friday. We'd already taken a moment earlier in the morning to remember Poppy, Paul's dad, who died on Mother's Day two years ago.
The rest of our day continued in generally cheerful vein - we visited Paul's mum who was doing okay, but I didn't see my mum - I spoke to her several days but didn't even wish her a happy mother's day. Sorry mum!! Happy Mother's Day. :)
Monday mum and I arranged to have lunch together (no kids!) but first we called by the hospital. By this time my parents had made sure the 'no resus' message was clear, although the hospital was still working hard on trying to treat him. That morning they had rang wanting to begin dialysis on him, since his kidneys were not working (the original problem), but the family decided it was too invasive a procedure. When mum and I went to the hospital in the morning, dad met us there, as well as his sister Marilyn, and her daughter Vanessa. When we buzzed to get let in to Intensive Care, instead, the doctor and a bunch of other people came out and took us to a room for a meeting. Never a good sign. The doctor was very nice and sympathetic, but said that even though age was not a factor in their treatment plan, fail to respond was, and grandpa had essentially had four major system failures and wasn't responding to any treatments. They didn't think there was any hope. Of course we all knew this was coming but it was still extremely upsetting. They left us alone for a while before we went in to sit and wait with him. While we were all sitting around crying and talking, a lady came in who knew grandpa from bingo. No-one had the heart to tell her that we'd just made the decision to turn off his life support, so we chatted for a while (she said what a lovely man he was, so independent, so friendly and thoughtful - everyone always said those things about him). She left a card from the bingo people, full of get well wishes. After she left, more talking and crying. Dad said he was surprised at how unprepared he was for this happening. It's so true. Even for someone who's lived a full eighty years, and been slowly getting sicker and slower over the years and especially the last few months, even when I'm a generation away, it's still so hard. He was such a lovely unassuming man, so stoic through losing grandma and always through his pain, I have so many lovely memories of time spent at their house, to have that all come to an end is just sad. And he really wanted to see that darn road built too.
Anyway, we went in to sit with him while they turned off the life support. I really didn't feel like I belonged there - I felt it was something for dad and his sister (the other two siblings were not able to make it for various reasons), and mum, who was very close to grandpa. But they reassured me and Vanessa it was okay to stay. We stood around his bed, holding his hand, stroking his legs, chatting to him and each other about all sorts of things - remembering dad's childhood, our childhood, grandma... It was a bit surreal - they turned off all the medications that were essentially keeping his heart beating, but kept the respirator on so he didn't 'suffocate'. So all the time waiting (about half an hour, I think) we were accompanied by his 'breathing' and occasional big sigh, as well as the monitor machine going off every five minutes because his blood pressure was so low. Vanessa left to go to pick up her son, and then the nurse came in (finally) to reset the monitor machine so it wouldn't beep all the time. While she was doing that and everyone was kind of distracted and talking, his heart quietly stopped. The respirator was still on, which was very weird since it seemed like he was still breathing. We stayed talking a bit more, everyone took their moment to say goodbye, then we went out to start making the calls. Well, actually I think mum made most of the calls. :) Julie came up to visit - she'd stayed away as she was sick, but that wasn't really a worry now he was dead... We went back in for a final goodbye after the nurses had cleaned him up - taken out all the tubes and stuff. And it was just grandpa. Little and alone and cold in the bed. I'm so glad I was there. Seems kind of odd to say, but it was really special. I hope he passed easier knowing he was surrounded by generations of offspring, who loved and cared and respected him.
Then of course mum and the nurse had to have an argument about his teeth. :) And his hearing aid. We went back and forth on whether we wanted to keep them or not. In the end (I think- could have changed) mum kept them, planning to donate them on to some charity that could use them.
So our mother's day lunch consisted of sandwiches from the hospital snack bar.
When I told the children after school, they were not as upset as the previous day - I guess they'd cried it all out.
All the kids came to the funeral and were perfectly behaved. I think it helped that mum read the eulogy, so there was a familiar person talking. Mum did a great job, they wrote a really respectful and yet light-hearted piece (it's at her blog if you want to read it) and she kept it together all through it, until right at the end.
It was lovely to see extended family there, even from mum's side - of course they've known grandpa for many years as well. It's always sad to go to that particular chapel though - the services for my grandmother and three of my cousins were there too. (What sort of crap odds are those? Three out of twelve grandchildren dead before their grandparents?). But the grounds are lovely and we took the opportunity of having the kids dressed in their best to try and get some photos.

Phew. I'm glad I got that down. See ya grandpa. xx


Spending Your Inheritance said...

It made me so sad to read that. I miss dad everyday. Think about him and wish we could visit him again. We must not put off seeing those we love . You are a long time dead unfortunately. it was great to read your feelings about the death of your wonderful grandpa.. he really was so proud of all of his grandkids. There is a little part of him in all of you

Julie's back home.... but had a fantastic time... said...

..that was really beautiful Rachel - thankyou.