1000 followers!

Today, I reached 1000 followers!

And, yes, usual caveats of how followers does not equal readers, and some people are counted twice if they follow by email or on WordPress and also like or follow my Facebook page, etc.

This does give me an opportunity to thank all the visitors to Top of JC’s Mind, whether you visit once or often, follower or not, commenter or not.

For the record, 1,023 posts since the first on September 13, 2013. I know many bloggers would find almost five years to reach 1000 followers unconscionably slow/lazy/unacceptable, but I am more shocked to have made it this far. I am not one to check stats very often. Or someone who has been able to blog the “right way.” While I have had periods of diligently reading, commenting, and following other blogs both for edification and to garner more readers myself, as life has gotten more complicated, I have had to concentrate on posting myself and haven’t even been able to do that as consistently as I would like.

All this makes me that much more appreciative of my readers, especially the handful that have reached out and told me that it is all okay, that they believe I am worth waiting for. So, I will keep blogging, however imperfectly, with your encouragement.

With thanks,
Joanne

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a move for Nana

On May 4th, my mom, known here at TJCM as Nana, moved to Mercy House, a residence for people under the care of our local hospice. She had been under the care of hospice since last summer, staying with Paco in their independent living apartment with the help of family and aides, first for overnight and later during the day as well. As her symptoms from congestive heart failure worsened and she became weaker, the care needed to keep her safe and comfortable was outstripping what home aides are legally allowed to provide, so, when space became available at Mercy House, we chose to make the move.

Of course, there has been an adjustment period with new caregivers and routines and food, but things are settling in now. The staff all share a calling and commitment to this work, as do the many, many volunteers who make Mercy House such a peaceful, loving place.

My younger sister was here for the first week, helping Nana to settle in and staying overnight with Paco at the apartment. As it happened, on the one week mark at Mercy House, granddaughter S finished her semester at college and came to visit. She used her dorm room decorating skills to hang pictures for Nana and my sister, her husband, and S had an early Mother’s Day/Nana’s birthday lunch brought in from a favorite restaurant.

from Nana's room in Mercy House
part of Nana’s wall decorations

This second week, someone from my house has been staying overnight and we are developing a rhythm to our days. Nana and Paco each do their early morning routine in their places of residence and then, mid-morning, we bring Paco to Mercy House for the day. Like hospice, Mercy House’s mission reaches beyond care of the individual to care of the family, so the volunteers and staff help Paco, too. There is always food available in the common room and Nana and Paco eat supper together at the dining room table, which is special after so many months of eating on a tray table in the apartment living room.

At the moment, Nana is the only resident who is able to be that mobile, so Nana and Paco usually have the dining table to themselves, but it also means that we were able to have two dinners this week that my spouse B, daughter T, and I shared, too. On Monday, we brought Swedish meatballs, made with the recipe that Nana used which had come to her from her Swedish landlady 55 years ago, for a belated Mother’s Day dinner. Last night, we brought in Italian food and an apple-blackberry pie that B had baked to celebrate Nana’s 86th birthday. The volunteers had decorated the table with a centerpiece, special napkins, and a birthday hat for Nana!
Nana with birthday hat

Next week, my older sister will arrive for a week. We are all grateful to have so much love and support surrounding us.

Thank you also, dear readers, for the thoughts and prayers that you have been sending and for your patience with my increasingly haphazard postings. I truly appreciate your visits and comments here.

on being a violet

Since writing this post, I have been receiving lots of support, advice, and encouragement. This trend is continuing with today’s daily meditation from Richard Rohr.  A quote:

Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), an unschooled French girl who died at age 24, intuited the path of descent and called it her “Little Way.” She said (and I summarize), “I looked at the flowers in God’s garden and I saw great big lilies and beautiful roses, and I knew I could never be one of those. But I looked over in the corner and there was a little violet that nobody would notice. That’s me. That’s what God wants me to be.” [1] Thérèse knew that all we can give to God is simply who we really are; or even better, “To do very little things with great love,” which was her motto. [2] That’s all God wants from any of us. It’s not the perfection of the gift that matters to God; it’s the desire to give the gift that pleases God.

I love violets…

finding hope in impossible times

I had hoped that my next post would be about ABC’s baptism and the family visits around that, but I haven’t been able to get organized to write it.

There has been a lot going on and a lot swirling in my head, so maybe this post will help…

My parents raised me to always do my best. I was fortunate that my best generally also stood me in good stead in school and in life experiences, as I juggled my various roles and tried to do good in the world.

When my children were young, there was a book about being a “good enough” parent. I remember bristling at the concept, because I was geared to be a “best I could be” parent – and daughter, spouse, sister, friend, citizen, Catholic, volunteer, committee member, musician, person.

The current roster of roles now includes grandparent, blogger, and poet.

And it doesn’t feel as though my best, even when I am able to muster it, is good enough.

Not even close.

With my mom in hospice care and granddaughter ABC in residence, there has been massive re-prioritizing, which is necessary and good and understandable. Some things in which I was accustomed to being very active, such as public policy and social justice advocacy, have been sharply curtailed, unfortunately at a time when my country is coming apart at the seams. I am keeping some of my poetry and blogging activities going, but in a scattershot way as I have time/brainpower available.

(It is not especially helpful to have Facebook reminding me how many days it has been since I posted to the Top of JC’s Mind Facebook page.)

I think, though, that the root of the problem is that nothing I do, whether it is my best or not, can change the fact of the mounting losses. Illness and decline and death and people moving away and rejection and running out of time and all manner of losses, anticipated or unforeseen, will keep happening, no matter what I or any of us do, think, or philosophize over.

And, yes, I know circle of life and faith and recommendations to take care of myself notwithstanding, some days are just difficult to get through without tears.

Sometimes, those days with tears string together.

I am blessed, though, with people who bring me as much support and comfort as they can when I am struggling. B to talk with and give me hugs. The warmth of ABC snuggling in my arms. E and L to step in and make dinner when I can’t wrap my head around the concept of eating, much less shopping and cooking. My sisters with calls, notes, and visits. Friends who are sending thoughts and prayers and who understand my sporadic contact.

Earlier this week, I was looking for a bell for Nana to use to call her nighttime aide. Unsure where to look, I went to a dollar store near the pharmacy where I was picking up one of Nana’s prescriptions. I don’t often go to dollar stores, so it was a bit difficult to figure out where to look. I had started to check out some possible aisles when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bell. I followed it to find a girl carrying a little bell toward the checkout where her grandmother was waiting for her.  I waited until they had finished their transactions and asked where they had found it. (The grandmother told me that the bell said “Ring for Beer” on it and that they were getting it for a beer-loving dad.) The girl cheerfully led me through the store to the shelf in the gifts aisle that held the bells. I thanked her. I chose a bell that said “Ring for Service” on it, paid $1.08, and brought it up to my mom’s, who was surprised that I had been able to find a bell so quickly.

(Feel free to insert your favorite It’s a Wonderful Life, serendipity, answer to prayer, etc. thoughts here.)

For me in that moment, it was a reminder that hope and help can appear unexpectedly in the midst of sadness and confusion and uncertainty.

I just have to listen and allow myself to be led.

 

 

One-Liner Wednesday: Thanks

Sending thanks to all those who have been keeping my mother Elinor in their thoughts and prayers; she is due home from NYC tomorrow with her new heart valve and a bonus pacemaker.
*****
This sequel to last week’s One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you by Joanne, with additional thanks to Linda. Join us for One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/10/19/one-liner-wednesday-presidential-poop/

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heart update

I just got word from my sisters in NYC that Nana’s aortic valve replacement is complete and successful. They also had to install a pacemaker, which is common in these kinds of situations.

Hers was the second procedure of the day for her surgical team. The first ran long, so her procedure was delayed, making the day  – and the waiting – longer than anticipated.

It’s so amazing that doctors can replace a damaged aortic valve with a functioning bovine one without having to go through the chest at all. Instead, they use a technique similar to heart catheterization. It is called TAVR and you can read a bit more about it on the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center website.

We are so grateful to everyone at the Center and Nana’s whole medical care team for making this possible. We are also grateful to everyone who has been supporting us, in person or at a distance, with prayers, cards, well-wishes, calls, emails, etc. Thank you all so very much!

 

Sanders’ support

I have posted several times about what I, as a supporter of Bernie Sanders, wanted as the formal nomination of Hillary Clinton approached.

Of course, there was a lot of public commentary/handwringing on what it would take for Sanders to put his support behind Clinton.

The Democratic party platform talks unfolded with Sanders’ supporters making the case for a more progressive approach on several major issues.

Amazingly, they prevailed in a number of areas and, last Tuesday, Senator Sanders appeared at a rally with Clinton and  gave his support for her to win the presidency and for the implementation of this more progressive agenda.

Importantly, the Democratic platform addresses many of the problems of lower and middle class folks, while the Republican platform still relies on “trickle-down” policies.

As the Clinton campaign slogan states, we really are “stronger together.”

That togetherness is not meant to be about Democrats, but about those of all political affiliations and those who aren’t voters. It’s meant for all races and all spiritual beliefs. It’s meant for all genders, all ages, all areas of the country.

We need togetherness now more than ever.