hodgepodge hospice

Once again, and sad to say, the hospice care provided for my parents and us has been less than helpful, and now – just damned odd.

Most already know about our serious issues with Season’s Hospice care regarding my mom, so I won’t repeat them again.

With my dad, we had no choice but to use the only one available to the Veterans Home in Manteno, which is Kankakee Valley Hospice. Like our first experience, the intake and that process was just fine; compassionate and more.

However, as time went on – and my dad only being in their care for a few weeks – he was left to a different nurse each visit. Once he was assigned a regular nurse, she visited once and then was on vacation for 2-3 weeks. A social worker visited once or twice, no one would ever leave a business card for us to call back, and the notebook left for everyone to write in, was really unattended to.

The night my dad passed away – we actually had to WAIT for a hospice nurse to ‘release’ him, and we had already been waiting about 3 hours. When she did arrive, she was a spitfire of a person, and spent the majority of her time complaining about her job, the hours she worked, etc. and that she was ready to move away to Florida or somewhere. We sat and listened to her life/career story for more than 30 minutes while sitting alongside my dad holding his cold hand.

A couple of weeks later, we received a call from a bereavement specialist (that service is always available to families for up to a year later) but we talked for only a few minutes and it was too difficult for me. An unanticipated/scheduled call to talk further about the loss of my dad and what it meant to me.

So fast forward 2 months to last night. We received a voice mail from this same agency – from ‘Melba’. She wanted to let us know that she was thinking of us and how great it was to serve in her own bereavement “my mother Lucille – who was quite the woman!”

I replayed the voice mail in disbelief, thinking that – maybe, just maybe they were calling about my mother in law Lucille who died a month ago, but she was never ever under the hospice care of this agency thankfully!

So when it comes to disappointing customer service in so many aspects of our lives recently – this one takes the cake. When I called back today to respond to Melba via management – the call center could not even tell me a director’s name and scrambled to find a nurse and I just eventually hung up without ever disclosing the nature of my call.

So, is their a moral to this story? I don’t know yet.

2 months now

And life has gone on. I wondered, reluctantly so, how life would be once both of my parents were gone. I think that will still take some getting used to. Life goes on – as does death. In the weeks and even hours since, my former mother-in-law died, there have been horrible accidents locally, acts of abuse to animals (local story on poodles dropped from 5th floor at Christ Hospital; one survived) and terrorism in too many forms, here and abroad. So much loss. So much sadness. So many people affected.

So life has been going on. I’ve been able to laugh and even dance a bit (at the deck-dancing evenings) with friends in my own backyard – moving and groovin’ to some great music, with lots of laughs and self-deprecating humor. I’ve been working with one particular client quite a bit lately, even if there were a few days I was so teary that I cut them short. We’ve gone out to dinner, shopping and even have seen a couple of bands we wanted to check out.

On Mother’s Day, Eric finally agreed to go to the Illinois Holocaust Museum (of all days) but we spent some time at the cemetery first, cleaning up my mom’s headstone and planting flowers, while looking down at my dad’s barren grave. No grass, just some kind of straw covering. He would not be happy about. His gravestone has been ordered, but not yet delivered. What an ordeal that seems to be. Eric commented as we entered the cemetery that ‘wow, there are a lot of funerals today!’ We explained, there are none on Sundays, but on Mother’s Day, lots of families go pay their respects (as we were doing) but many pay them in a large way. Ironically, it’s somewhat festive on such a holiday. Balloons, little picnics, chairs propped up for those just staying for awhile. Kind of nice. Makes me wonder – will my one and only son visit my grave, if I do indeed have one to visit.

I will say, I didn’t know what to expect when visiting the cemetery for the first time since my dad’s funeral. Feelings and emotions were kept at bay but then of course, surface at the most inopportune times – like sitting at my accountant’s office! Poor guy!

But life and the people who surround me/us make a difference. Coming together for these little dance gatherings (22 songs minimum – remember I used to deejay); have put a fire under me to increase my activity level and increase my time with friends and family.

My brother turns 56 years old tomorrow. He will often gawk at that, but hey – he survived Melanoma, which is a wicked cancer to say the least; just being re-checked today. There’s something about birthdays – a reminder that we should keep them coming and do what we can to live our -dash- as fully as possible.

3 of us b

on March 14th, my dad’s 85th birthday, never realizing where we’d be just one week later.

I doubt that my dad’s headstone will be ready by Monday, Memorial Day, but I plan to go back anyway. I have a feeling, that once his headstone is put in place, that this blog/journal may itself, be put to rest.

 

 

 

 

‘mourning’ doves

I had no idea until today, that these doves were called mourning doves – not morning doves as I had thought. I hadn’t paid attention to the symbolism until now, as there are a couple hanging out by our house.

There’s a house in Midlothian that has two on their front step and won’t leave and the family thought maybe they were injured. That would be interesting if it was near my parent’s house. Though it looks like a similar structure, it’s not.

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new chapters

As my brother begins a new chapter in his life today, with a new job, we are all facing this new chapter without parents, without grandparents.

While Mother’s Days have always been a bit of a challenge, Father’s Day will be even more difficult this year. The first without celebrating ‘with’ my father, and the day we (esp.) Eric will celebrate his Gramma Lu’s life at her memorial. (Hopefully in Jewish tradition as much as possible @  Lake Katherine in Palos Heights, 1p-4p I believe).

This new chapter for us has started and found itself nearly 6 weeks in with little change, except for seeing my dad’s never-aged face and listening to his wicked sense of humor, or for driving to Manteno 3x weekly; but filled with more paperwork, legal documentation, and then of course, the eventual death of Lu. Just a week ago, I returned from a weekend in Philly with Bob, and it doesn’t even seem like we were gone.

This new chapter has yet to take hold of us completely. For Eric, it has its own deep meaning. For me, I am orphaned now, as is my brother, and we will feel a greater loss during those days when we all celebrate our mothers and fathers; and I realize they should be celebrated every day, for everything they’ve done, sacrificed, given to all of us.

There has been joy in looking at old pictures; even now as Eric found his grandma’s baby album that I had given her and she had loaded it photos and dates and comments of his first couple of years. There is only slight peace knowing that she is without pain, yet there is heartache knowing she didn’t need to die. She survived so much worse in the past, and amazingly so. But why now? Was it that she just gave up? Is this relief for her sons in some way, as I often hear from others? It certainly is a new chapter for each of them. As Eric witnessed first hand how both of his parents became ‘orphaned’ within a month of each other, I am sure he’s feeling our pain as well as his own.

While I hadn’t intended to be so sad in my post today, I woke up that way, after having a dream about another loss we experienced and a reminder of how such mixed emotions can surface at any time.

What I can offer is that every day, at some point of the day – I am reminded of each of my parents in a light hearted way. Sometimes it’s in the midst of something I am cooking or maybe some other activity. I am grateful that through all the tears I continue to shed, I can smile and sometimes laugh about a recollection from the past. And the past is all we really have to remember, so I will honor it in whatever ways I can.

 

 

 

another loss

My heart aches for Eric right now, just losing his Gramma Lu, one month after losing my dad. His last two grandparents in one month; all four gone in just 3 years.

But what an impact they have all made on him. How privileged Eric has been not only to know for so many years, all his grandparents – but to be able to know and remember his great grandparents, Sam and Kitty Weinberg.

I am heartbroken, to lose my former mother-in-law. Unexpected, yet after a week of serious decline. I was glad to be called to see and spend time with her since Easter Sunday. While we realized her health and her will to live or thrive had been dwindling over the past two years, we all hoped she would find some hope. Yet this remarkable and unique woman who I knew before I even knew Eric’s dad – made an impact on all of us. My sadness is compounded by the too-soon-loss of this woman, only 20 years older than me. I asked her to promise me last week, to continue the tradition of being just 20 years older than me. She said she would. Instead, she died at age 79 – the same age her husband lost his many battles.

One week in 2008, she decided to get a tattoo on her ankle. Against the Jewish faith that she was very proud of, yet was not devout. Then when she had no choice but to go into assisted living in Palos Heights, she found herself among more Catholics than she could imagine, and some wealthy ones at that. Still, she made friends regardless of wearing her Sons of Anarchy or Aerosmith T-shirts; or making sure her Menorah shined brightly through all the Christmas decorations. She could not wrap her head around being in such a place, so constrained in so many ways – but in her mind, she was my age. Maybe younger. She loved to read; I got her in the ‘coloring’ habit which did bring her some peace and creativity in recent years. She also loved to write (back in the day) and I pleaded for her family to get her a laptop so she could journal/blog, or just go back to shopping on Amazon. She was quite technically adept and had very good jobs most of her life. Even in Arkansas and after all her illness, she found a part time job at their local post office. I think she was the only postal worker there.

She insisted on being cremated; also another Jewish restriction. But her husband made that choice for himself, and she honored everything he stood for. I remember his one-evening service and how gracious she was. While so sad and her life now forever changed, I recall her looking around the room and just soaking of all the love and comfort extended to her.

But her sons are honoring her wishes. They know she would not want anyone looking down on her, so they will give her a memorial a few weeks from now.

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Lucille Adele Wermes – she lived a vibrant life for a long time. Even through multiple events of cancer, and horrific long term effects from treatment – still had the spirit to live and to work. She so enjoyed living in Arkansas and just could not accept that she would not be able to go back. She blossomed there, regardless of her health. She had good friends and neighbors. Here, she has so many in-laws that love her so very much. I hope she knew that. I hope that as she finds her husband, her parents and sister, and even my parents – they are all looking down on us, especially Eric. This is a very hard time for him, needless to say. It’s a very sad time for me as seem to be succumbing to the reality of losing my dad. The day after he died, Lu called me crying so very hard – that she could not get to see him, and she didn’t know how to help me. Maybe now she could, by finding them and reconnecting as the friends they all remained, even after their children divorced. I am sure I did the right thing in keeping our families connected. Yet, at the moment, I feel quite disconnected. I am beyond sad right now.