Saturday, July 22, 2017

For the record....a bad month.

I feel the need to write these things so that I can remember that there is a reason that life seems a bit hard right now. A reminder to be kind to myself and make self-care a top priority.
In the last month there has just been a lot of big and little things that happened that could rock my emotional boat. The biggie is that we have seen sister Fran's cancer progress so quickly. In the end of May we were all able to enjoy what we thought could be our last full family get-together at a house in North Myrtle Beach. Since that time Fran went from being able to enjoy our time at the beach together to going in to hospice on the 7th of July.

My Funny Frannie, we called her our blue footed booby because of the shoes she had to wear on the beach due to Doxil and little orphan Frannie since she lost her long locks to chemo.
Fran at the hospice facility with her two daughters and kitty Maggie.




My dad and I went down to North Carolina to be with Fran and her family and spent over a week doing what we could to try to make this last part of life easier. It was an incredible experience, deeply emotional and utterly exhausting and heartbreaking and yet somehow there were times that were beautiful....a sacred time. I will never forget the feeling of waking up after an afternoon nap taken after staying up all night with Fran. While I slept it had rained and when I awoke it was to see this glorious rainbow that lasted so long. I had hoped it was a sign that Fran was finally released from her pain, but as of this writing she is still hanging on.



At the same time that this is happening my daughter has been having problems with one of her eyes. First it was thought to be just conjunctivitis, then ocular herpes, and finally after about a month it was decided that it was a rare disease called acanthamoeba keratitis, basically amoeba in her cornea. It is a serious problem. Her eye looks a lot like this one.
We wound up having to go to NYC to see an expert in this rare condition that can come from improper use of contact lenses. As of this time treatment is working on the amoeba but is so irritating to the eye that new medicines have been ordered as of this week. She still can not see out of it....just shadows but it is too painful to have it open much anyway. It was awful to be in the doctor's office and have all the doctor's in the practice come in to see this rare problem. Great to have them all on board but really brings home how serious and unusual this is. And when she could not see the very big letter 'E' on the chart my stomach did that thing that happens when we feel punched in the gut by life.
Adding to this 'in your face' reminder of how fragile we are and that life is uncertain and a gift to be cherished were two accidents. First my brother was rear ended by someone not paying attention....maybe texting. He was sore but basically ok though the car was totaled and if he had had a passenger it would have been a tragedy. Second was my son who narrowly avoided a head-on crash caused by a drug dealer/user without any insurance. His truck is also totaled as the back axle was ripped off so great was the force. These are those things that we struggle with being thankful that it was not worse and yet hate that it happened at all. They remind us of just how quickly life can change.
My daily life changed a lot when on our way home from our vigil with Fran I found out that something had gotten in to my chicken coop at home and killed all but one of my girls. Anyone who knows me knows how big a part of my life my girls were. They were not just chickens or pets, they were my companions. I was a crazy chicken lady and I probably talked to them more on a daily basis than anyone. First while we were in NC I had gotten a call from my chicken sitter to tell me that my special girl 'Sweetie' had died. Thankfully she died peacefully of natural causes. She was the one I had to take in the garden with me to protect her from the other girls. It is so lonely out there now.

Sweetie in the garden with her chicks.


My son, who also talked with this little chicken at times, buried her and made this little cross out of tobacco lathe and hay bale twine.

I had known that my coop was not as secure as it should be. And I had worried that something was going to get in so it is not like I did not know that there was a possibility of an attack. I was actually more worried that something would dig under the coop to get in. I knew that chicken wire was not supposed to be good enough to keep things out but in 8 years here and several over in my old house I never had a problem with holes in the wire. I guess I was due....plus the wire was probably weaker after all those years.

A few months ago I had asked my father if he thought we would travel more together if we did not have the chickens and he said yes. I was very lucky that I had finally found someone to watch them so that we were able to go to the beach with all the family but it is still not the same as being able to just leave home without asking for help. We still have the cat to worry about but it is easier to find someone to care for one cat than someone to take care of a flock of chickens. Libby has chickens of her own and she took better care of my girls than I did, bringing them treats etc.. I felt so so sorry for her finding the horrible slaughter. What an awful thing to have happen to her. Again my son came and did the job of clean up so that when I got home it was just to an empty coop. I am thankful for both Libby and Buddy for all that they did.
I am taking it all as a sign that I need to be chicken free for a while. Dad's macular degeneration has been pretty stable but at 88 years old there is no telling how long we have left to be out and about traveling together. I know I can get chickens later but I do miss my friends and while I can replace 'the chickens' I can not replace Momma the matriarch and top of the pecking order, who had a stroke and I rehabilitated but still stumbled a lot,


or Dottie whose voice I could distinguish and who always answered my questions,



 or Handsome who must have had a terrible fight trying to protect his ladies,

or Millard who....well you get the idea.


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