Before this year started we had plans for gathering at my younger son’s house on Christmas Eve morning, when all the grandchildren were available. We were looking forward to being there for the traditional breakfast and gift-opening for the children, a sort of greed fest as the horde (however many there are) opened their presents. The expressions of their faces would light up a dark room, and I always cherish these things for days, or weeks, or however long I remember them.
But plans had to be changed. The Nisqually River decided to make use of the heavy rains to not only increase its depth but to also change its course. It began to chisel its way into their property, helped at times by the dam being opened. The house itself never flooded as it was high enough above the water level to be safe from flooding but as the river continued chewing away at the land it drew closer and closer to the house. Initially the house was yellow-tagged by someone from the county. They were able to move their belongings from the house to the garage and a friend gave them a place to stay until some funding from FEMA came through and they were able to pay off their enormous mortgage and start fresh.
Their story was shared on three local television stations, and the FOX network picked it up later when the house was red-tagged and it went national. A stranger, I believe it was the man from the county, set up a GoFundMe page for them, response was good and so far they have been able to keep up the mortgage payments and meet their other expenses. Johnny and Heather have the two cutest girls in the world. The 3 year-old and the dog are so distressed by the changes I cry for them. The one year-old is fine. She doesn’t care where she is as long as Mom is in the room. Since this all started FEMA decided not to help in their county. I guess the loss of someone’s shed and one home weren’t important enough. (Other counties got help though. How is that right?) The insurance won’t help as they don’t cover erosion and its resulting future sinkholes. The Nisqually kept on moving and took nearly a hundred feet of the back yard and last seen was living straight down from the edge of the back porch.
One point I wanted to bring up here is the closeness of my adult children. Even if there have been “issues” between some of them at times, when the chips are down, they are all there for each other. My mother’s heart rejoices when I see the strength of their love and bond. I have a brother who has also been there for all of us, too. Again, the love he gives us goes a long way toward helping us heal. The family was there when the house had to be cleared out, and again when the garage also had to be emptied. They were there when Johnny went to the hospital with a kidney stone, and later, when he finally had surgery to blast the sucker, they were there. They were there for the other things that happened in January. I need to continue this story for myself. I need to keep things sorted in my head, or have a record to which I can refer when confused about what happened when. Even the children help. The grandchildren gave up their gifts so their parents could give the money to Johnny’s family.
Several days before the year ended the cat, George, ran out the door when my husband was bringing in the dog. George had been trying to go out partying with his buddies for a few days, so it wasn’t surprising when he seized the opportunity. He had done this once before, and did come home several days later, none the worse for wear, much to my relief. The scoundrel is my mother’s cat who came to live with us when Mom did, about six years ago. Last January my mother, who needed more help than what we could give her by then, moved into an assisted living facility and her cat stayed with us. She asked how he was doing every time I visited and many times when we talked on the phone, so I was a bit of a wreck while he was gone the first go-round. The second time was easier because we knew he would come back, and harder because of the cold. The longer George was out, the more fearful I became, but finally, a week later, he was at the door scratching to come home.
He was thinner, and nicer, and weak. He walked a few feet or so, then lay down for a bit. We put it down to the consequences of his escapades and thought we would fatten him back up in no time. Not so. The next day he was in bad shape, lying on the bed and unable to get up. I brought him a bowl of water and he managed to put his chin in it and drink, then go back to sleep. Repeat. I was sure he was dying. I covered him and had a hand on him most of the evening. To my surprise he was up and moving around the next day! He still was sluggish, but moving well, if slowly. He still wasn’t having anything but water, though, and when he didn’t continue to improve we took him to the vet.
$ 857.47 later we were informed he was in kidney failure. There was only a bad outlook, so we said good-bye to George. Anyone who loves their pets knows how hard it is to lose them. I cried off and on for days. My mother had fallen one time too many and fractured her kneecap so had spent 0ver two months in rehab and then was moved into the nursing home side until DSHS could have her assessed again to see if she was able to move back out into a group home or something else. On January 8, 2016, the day we had Mom’s cat put to sleep, I vowed to keep his demise a secret from her. The family was on the same page so the secret would be kept.
We believe the assessment was done the following week. We never heard from the caseworker. A few days later Mom called me in the morning. She was really sleepy so we had a short talk. That afternoon the nurse called and said Mom was sick, had a fever and having some trouble breathing. I said we’d be there soon. We went over and spent some time with her. She could barely talk, and wasn’t making any sense with what she did say. Finally she agreed that she wanted to sleep. I asked if she would like us to go and was unable to understand her answer. I asked if we should stay and she shook her head, so we left after telling Mom I would be back the next day. The nurse said she was getting antibiotics and breathing treatments and would let me know if anything changed.
Several hours later the nurse called. She told me Miss Ruth (same mother) had been feeling a lot better and had even gone to the dining room for dinner. She came back to her room and got all settled in bed. Then my mom “took a turn” and was struggling to breathe. The nurse asked if I wanted to have them to continue to treat her there or have her moved to the hospital. I suggested she ask Miss Ruth about going to the hospital, knowing she would answer in the negative. As it was, Miss Ruth was in no condition to understand the question, much less answer. So we agreed she would call the doctor and see what he said. Then she called me back telling me they doctor ordered a very strong dose of a strong antibiotic and something else that has already fled my memory, and see how Mom was doing in the morning.
I packed my suitcase, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Midnight came, marking the beginning of the 18th of January. At 12:38 a.m. the nurse called again. Miss Ruth, my mother, drew her last breath, leaving us behind to mourn our loss and then to celebrate her life. She would have turned 89 years old in March. She really didn’t want to wait that long. We cling to our belief that we will see her again. Later.
But wait! There’s more to January.
(to be continued…)
One thought on “Unhappy New Year Part One”
I just love you.
These memories have deeply shaped us as a family. Thank you for writing them down.