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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Last Days

Today I said goodbye to the kids who headed down to Boston with Steven to fly back to LA tomorrow. I’ve come up to Orono to spend some last few precious days with Dad before heading back to LA next weekend for Christmas. We deliberated about what the right thing to do was, to stay or go, who should stay, who should go. But now I’m here I feel certain we did the right thing. We had talked about staying all together until Christmas, I wanted to be here for Dad. But now I’m with him I’m glad it’s just me here.

He is terribly thin and his face now looks sunken. Since I arrived this morning he has only spoken a few words and each interaction costs him dearly. I feel him receding from me, gone is the robust, charismatic man I was lucky enough to have as a father. He’s a shadow of his former self - even he at times is losing track of who he is. Time is passing agonizingly slowly. I find myself feeling bored even, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Even if he isn’t talking, he is listening and I know in my heart how much it means to him to have me here. This is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, to be with the person you love as they slowly slip away. I’m glad I am here by myself even though I miss the kids and Steven terribly, it just gives me space to process everything.

I do feel a sense of peace though and I think, or I like to think, he does too. I haven’t had a chance to ask him if he is ready for death, I don’t really know where he is mentally. Watching him fade gradually, is hard, but not terrible. More terrible would be not being here, not being able to have the odd joke, or hold his hand. Esther continues to amaze me, she suffers his complaints without offense, just getting on with things as Mainers do. I cannot imagine the burden she is carrying right now.

So in short, I hate what is happening, but I am glad to be here. Some people talk about not wanting to see their loved one “like this”, they want to remember them “how they were”. That just seems a bit of a cop out. I’m glad to see him now, and I will always remember him how he was. That’s what we’re here for with the people we love right? The whole journey.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

O Sledding


Despite this being a tough time for me, for the kids it was a great getaway. Both of them just blossom when we come here and despite my misgivings about the weather, they both found plenty to do.

Oliver is tirelessly fascinated and enthralled with helping his Grandpa and Papa with “projects”. You can clearly see how these older male role models are so critical in his development right now. From them he is learning how to be a little man, whilst still being Mama’s little boy. It’s a lovely moment in time, 3 and a half years old.

Lola on the other hand is talking like you wouldn’t believe. Every word she repeats back and is starting to put words together. “Have it” “Did it” “Love you” “Big poopees” “Nice” (when stroking Oliver’s hair) “Fall down” “I fall down” Bless her - she is a true marvel. She’s also a real sharer, constantly offering her food to you to eat as well, or giving up a toy when a fair trade is offered.

A real treat though was a couple of days of snow. The kids loved the magic of it all and we had a fun time sledding down the hill.

Of course everyone got sick, with the exception of Steven. But we cooked, we explored, we stoked the fire, we went on the ATVs and the tractors and we braved sub zero temps and lived to fight another day!

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Oliver & Grandpops


Whilst it has not been an easy visit, there have been some truly wonderful memories. I am so profoundly happy that the kids got to see Dad, and he them, before he really began to lose lucidity and strength. We had one wonderful visit. Even though we only stayed a couple of hours, it was a precious time I will always remember and cherish.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter in Maine

We arrived yesterday after an uneventful red eye flight from LA. The kids slept wonderfully, Steven and I hardly slept at all. But we arrived in one piece, if a little tired. It’s been a while since I was in Maine in wintertime and boy its cold. It’s not that bone-chilling cold, where you daren’t leave the house without a hat for fear of your ears dropping off. Nonetheless it is cold and you do need long underwear and hats and gloves to feel remotely comfortable outside. Of course our first day here at the farm saw us all out on the ATVs, Oliver driving the tractor with his grandpa. Craziness. The kids are in heaven. I’ve never seen Oliver so excited, so articulate, just 100% engaged and enthralled.

I went to see Dad yesterday. What to say. It is so wonderful to see him, in many ways he is just the same, but at the same time, he is profoundly changed. He gets tired very quickly and is now pretty much in bed all the time. He looks so different, thinner obviously, but more fragile too. His voice is softer, more tentative. Sometimes it is easy to forget, to think that nothing has changed. Then it hits me and everything falls apart. I can’t imagine my life without him in it.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Baba to Milky

Childhood is peppered with milestones - the first word, the first tooth, the first step. Some come with struggle and fanfare - others prove so much easier than you’d ever anticipated.

Lola overcame two hurdles in the last couple of weeks, with ease and grace. Gee I’m proud.

The first was led by my dear husband (to whom I will forever be grateful). When I was in Maine he sleep-trained our little girl. We had been getting up a couple of times in the night to give her a bottle. A habit bred out of laziness on our part as giving her a bottle sent her straight back to sleep and we could never muster the strength to battle with letting her do without. But Steven held firm. She cried, maybe 20 mins or so - and then. Peace. Silence. Victory. Now she wakes up maybe once during the night with a mewl, but quickly goes back down with no intervention from us. Oliver of course is still padding into our room every night. But hell. One battle at a time right?

The second milestone was more traumatic for me than for her. Saying goodbye to the bottle in bed, meant we transitioned at the same time from bottle to sippy cup. A new sippy with a soft teat so not such a big change. Lola barely blinked. So now the bottles have been put away. My baby is growing up. I feel a profound sense of pride and sadness to say goodbye to one of these last vestiges of babyhood. I said to Steven - dude, it’s either another baby or a dog. Needless to say, looks like Rover is going to win on that one.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Oliver’s Favorite Tune

Apparently it was number one in the UK.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

I love you

This week Lola started saying “I Love you” this kind of comes out “Aye lough you” but we know what she means. Other words include: no, please (peas) thank you (takeoo) shoes, pasta, no more, dog, mama, papa, nanny, granny (gannee), meme, socks, grandpops (ganpos) oliver (owah), janeh (janet next door) mine, mater (from the movie cars), truck (chuck) and many many more.

I love you though, that right there’s a milestone. Oliver is copying - not to be outdone. He takes great pride in correcting Lola on her pronunciation, which he finds infuriating.

A typical conversation: “Chuck!” says Lola. “It’s not CHUCK its TRUCK!” shouts Oliver. Lola waits a beat then looks at her brother and shouts back “Chuck!” grinning from ear to ear. “It’s NOT CHUCK, TRUCK!” yells Oliver. And so it goes. She is delighted by how furious this makes him. And Oliver, poor lad, falls for it every single time.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Pirate & The Bee

Halloween at 625 Angelus Place was a busy affair. Went to Oliver’s school for a party with lots of other semi0drunk parents and other kids hyped up on cookies and cake. We then proceeded to parade around the neighborhood. Oliver loved it. Lola was kinda over it pretty quickly. Altho she delighted in running away from Oliver’s friend Romeo.

I have a feeling this will be a pattern. Lola playing with Oliver’s friends and it driving her brother crazy.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Fair Dinkum!

If there was one gift I could give my children it would be freedom of movement. Well, freedom of speech and all the other freedoms, would be of course on the list, but. At least with freedom of movement, if you happen to be somewhere, well, a little less free let’s say - well, you can go find yourself someplace new!

So was with great pride the other day we learned of Oliver and Lola’s addition to the club of “Australian Citizen by Descent”! Woo hoo! This joins their American and British citizenships - although they don’t issue certificates for those, just passports. Mingy bast&*ds.

So good onya, yer little ankle biters! Bout time to avago and bone up on the ole Aussie Slang I’d say!

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Welcome Visit

I’ve spent the last few days in Maine. It wasn’t a trip I was planning to make. Dad is ill having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about a week ago. After hearing the news, I had to come up here, to see for myself how he was doing. To take advantage of a few days together as and when I can.

It’s been a wonderful couple of days. Surreal really. He hasn’t had the first appointment with the oncologist so I don’t think it’s really sunk in. He is a lot thinner, thinner than he’s ever been in his life really and it looks good on him. The jaundice has subsided since they put the stent in his pancreas so it is draining properly. He looks well, he’s in good spirits and he’s eating well.

I’ve been cooking up a storm. My way of coping, of caring I suppose.

Esther was away for a few days in Quebec which is why I chose now to come up. Gave her a few days break and me some precious time with Dad. We’ve been getting his wireless all set up properly, going for drives, out for lunch. No beers this time, for once.

If this was a movie, now would be the time for some big confrontation or revelation. Time running short and things must be said. But I feel a strange lack of urgency. Perhaps that’s just me being delusional, but everything just feels all very normal. I know it can’t last. But I’ll take these few precious days for what they are. Good times. Times to remember.

Fact: there is little research or government grants for pancreatic cancer. No-one sticks around long enough to advocate for it. They simply die too soon. Randy Pausch was one of the first.

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