Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Settled In

Well, we're settled in.

We took my brother to VA Hospital last Monday and they approved him for home hospice care.
This week has been a flurry of activity as a hospital bed and other equipment was brought in and an army of RNs, LVNs, CNAs, Social and Spiritual Counselors dropped by to introduce themselves and set up schedules.  We have more help than we could ever use and honestly, I'm happy the telephone has stopped ringing every 30 minutes, waking Mike up and shattering the few moments of peace and quiet.

The kindness of people becomes apparent in times like this.  The man who returned mother's wallet, completely intact with credit cards and cash, when she absent-mindedly left it at a rest stop in Tulare on her way home after hearing about Mike. The man at Michael's Crafts who gave me his coupon for 50% off when I was flustered and couldn't find mine. Mom's church folks who brought food one night and my cousin Linda, who brought a big meal another night.   My friend at the LDS Church who has offered meals also. Pilgrim friends who I walked the Camino with who have offered up Masses for Michael's peaceful passing and spiritual support for the family. People really are good hearted and we've been blessed.

Mike goes through phases of being "out of it" where he lays in bed and groans to time when he sits up, reading his wish book catalogs and answering the phone. It's a little confusing to watch as he slips in and out of normalcy.  He doesn't have a lot of strength and so hearing and understanding what he says is difficult.  He mumbles. It doesn't help that the television is often blaring. Now I remember why I don't have one. But it keeps his mind off of his troubles when he's awake, so I'm even grateful for the television.

Mom is doing ok, but I can tell the invasion of her space by all these strangers, along with watching Mike's decline, is really hard on her. She rarely sits or rests, flitting from one job to another. She's either cleaning the kitchen, doing the mounds of laundry, vacuuming the floor, or cooking.  When she did finally lay down on the couch last night, that tiny little foot and leg of hers was just bobbing, bobbing, bobbing - she couldn't just be still.  I think I worry as much about her than about Mike. There's something just not right about having to watch your child die.

Mike's younger daughter did the best she could trying to care for him before we brought him here. She was sinking between caring for her father in a horrible situation and trying to meet her own needs. A new champion in our lives right now is his eldest daughter, who has stepped up to the plate when many would have turned their backs on the father who deserted them. She's grown into a beautiful, compassionate and brilliant woman, and we thank God for both girls.

I'm fine.

I know now why I had the gut feeling I shouldn't walk the Camino this year. Yes, my ankle was one reason, but there was just something else I couldn't put my finger on. It would have been terrible if I'd been in Spain when all this happened. Who would have helped my mother? I'm so glad I listened to my gut and didn't go.

This year has been strange, Camino-wise.  We began with 3 full groups and slowly they dwindled, as Ebola, the economy, then a couple of plane crashes seemed to trouble people enough to cancel. We had two ladies who were interested in leading groups, but in the end, we only had enough people for Joe's group. In the end, even this has been a blessing, as there is no way I would be able to deal with organizing lodging and transportation for 32 pilgrims, even if other people were leading the walks.

Joe leaves in less than a month to lead his group of ladies on the pilgrimage. As always, he's been a wonderful friend and support person. Joe took care of his own mother at home when she was dying of cancer, so he knows what we're going through. I can't thank him enough for just being there when I've needed the help.

So I guess that's it. It's the end of a very busy week. Things seems to be calming down and we're settling into a routine.

As always, I woke up this morning extremely grateful for another day. I sat outside in the cool morning air and watched the young doves building a new nest in mom's porch rafters and the hummingbirds fighting over the feeder. The sun is shining and the sky is blue. The trees have put out their leaves and the roses are blooming. I can see, smell, hear, taste, and feel.

And then there is love... I look at my mom and my brother and I feel such deep sorrow mixed with the immense love I feel for this brother who on the face of it has wasted his life. But then I remember his daughters, his grandchildren and I think, is any life really wasted? Maybe not.

Life is good.
Even when it's hard, it's good.

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.


Sitting in mom's back yard. Blue California skies.


  1. Happy to hear that you have the support you need.
    We are wonderfully provided for!
    We continue to hold your family in our prayers.
    Blessings and Love.


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