Tag Archives: mom

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.   Unexpectedly a good day.  I had made a plan to do a slow-cooker recipe for carnitas, and that honestly was the expectation for the day, in addtion to playing Railway Empire and Horizon Zero Dawn (which both are awesome and I’m obsessed).   I got the morning started off right with some yoga (I’m honestly past counting the days anymore as it is a daily habit now, and I intend for it to be that way from here on out), and then I got the slow-cooking started.

Slow-Cooking Carnitas – Aug 16, 2020

Larry would’ve been proud.   Used a pork butt that ButcherBox had sent to me (I’m still not sure what else to do with a pork butt besides carnitas), then got the mise-en-place done and about 8 hours later, I had delicious carnitas for dinner.   SOOO GOOD.

The main thing though that made the day surprisingly good was that I was taking some supplies over to the home where my mom is living.  It has been off limits for visitors so I expected I’d just get to drop the stuff off in the lobby but when I got there, guess what, apparently I should’ve read my emails from them as visitors are allowed again as long as you have a mask.  So I got to see mom again for the first time in over 5 months.  Even typing that just makes me sad.  She didn’t even recognize me at first as she obviously wasn’t expecting me there either – I had Gatorade in hand and she asked me to put some in the refrigerator and then asked a nurse for her phone to call me and then she realized it was me.   We hugged but I kept the mask on as it’s still an issue.   We spent some time together but neither of us are long-term visit folks, so I left and we knew that I’d come back the next weekend.   I took some pics of us together but she asked me not to post anything so I won’t.  But I really was glad to get to see her.

The evening was good as I had an amazing dinner and then I went and set up the rooftop cinema for another movie:

It felt appropriate to watch it as it was definitely one of those movies that my mom and I watched endlessly when I was growing up.  The soundtrack is still the best.  Footloose was already in my head to watch again as the Number Ones article series this past week was in 1984 when “Footloose” the song topped the charts.  Anyway, it was a fun way to end a good day.

What Else is Going on Besides Yesterday?

A lot of not much?   But I’m passing the time.  Most importantly and awesomely, Big Brother is back.  I’ve of course been posting about this All Stars season as it’s just something new but also something I have loved for so long.   I’m sad Larry isn’t able to enjoy it with me (despite his annoyance it he always would get sucked in).  I do have my friends Mel, Nicki, and Sarah to text about it while episodes are going on, so that’s fun.

With Nicki visiting frequently on weekends, we’ve taken to playing the hell out of Ticket to Ride, and so I’ve gone and bought some of the board game expansions for it.   We will have our enjoyment, dammit!

I re-discovered this picture of Larry from when we lived in Santa Monica (March 2013).  It was when Stacie and Trent had come over for the day and he was cooking dinner.   Larry looks so handsome here and has a great big smile while doing what he was amazing at, cooking and entertaining.

It’s my phone background now.  It makes me happy.

I’m going in reverse-chronological order through my pictures since my last post and while if I was better about frequent posting the pics would make it, now it’s like, eh, no need.   But I did try another recipe in mid July that was a Larry special:  the cajun chicken pasta recipe modeled on what Chili’s makes.   It’s soooo good.  Larry had the recipe in Paprika and I decided to go for it.   Honestly, it was really good, but not as good as he made it.   But I can always try again.  I was really happy to play with cooking chicken breasts though – butterflying them and then frying them on the stove makes them taste so delicious with a proper seasoning on them!

Cajun Chicken Pasta via Me – July 19, 2020

BTW, when Jon & Alyssa were out for last Thanksgiving, Jon, Michancy, and I went to pick up supplies.   One of the stops was Mission Wine & Liquor and thank GOD for that journey as it really is one of those fantastic liquor stores that actually carries a ton of wine with many options and always always has the MONTEPULCIANO.   I don’t think I need wine.com anymore although I did make sure to get my money back on that membership that gets your complimentary shipping!

I love Mission Liquor

Superman & Sound of Music – July 16, 2020

Watching movies on the roofdeck is awesome.   It’s a little bit of work to get the screen up and the projector and sound all put in place, but it’s just so worth it.   One night, I had it in me to want to see Superman up on the roof, because it’s awesome.  It’s also long, and I made an intermission for myself as I was getting a little tired.  I had posted a little about that online and Wendy brought up that maybe I could have The Sound of Music on the roof this year?   Part of me reeeeally wants to have that singalong here, but part of me is also like, is that irresponsible?   I don’t know what the best answer is.   I could see having a few people, maybe?  But it’s like, I think we could wait too.  I don’t know.   But for a moment I was excited and I decided to watch a few scenes from TSOM to make sure it worked up there!  I also discovered you really can’t go up and watch anything until it’s actually dark.  lol

I guess one last picture set to put up is actually what I ended up doing the night of my last posting, which was back on July 12.  I set up the movie theater again for myself (knowing how to do it was half the battle!) and watched The Empire Strikes Back which was having its 40th anniversary and amusingly was the #1 movie in the nation that weekend because everything else is shut down.  It’s quite awesome to watch on a big screen!

The Empire Strikes Back – July 12, 2020

One weekend when Nicki was here, we watched The Goonies up on the roof deck, so it’s been fun to watch some classics in that venue!

Those are the main pictures I’ve got.   Everything else?   Work is work, so that’s good.   I dream about Larry every now and then, and it’s nice.    Sometimes I want to post about those dreams so I can remember them later, but I usually don’t.   Some have been funny – a while ago I dreamt about us trying to get a table at brunch and it was so vivid.  Sometimes I can vaguely remember that he’s actually dead while in the dream and it makes it that much more surreal.  Like, do I tell him?

Alright, I think I’m caught up.  It’s close to September.  It’s crazy to believe Larry’s death was over 7 months ago.  I can’t really understand that 5 months have been lost just being stuck at home.   It’s fucking stupid and I hate it because if our nation had had a coordinated response that made the pain last just 1-2 solid months, we’d likely be in a position now to be rolling things out properly.  But no, that’s not this country.   We’ve got “freedom” to act as selfishly as we want and god forbid your “freedoms” are infringed upon by being asked to wear a mask.   People are just so fucking dumb.   We deserve all that we are getting.

“All Out of Love”

I know this is a sappy title, and while yes, my heart is utterly broken still by everything that’s going on, I’m not necessarily saying I’m “All out of Love.”  The issue is that Air Supply is in my head because one of their songs, “The One That You Love” is the #1 song in the current Number Ones article, and jesus that song is awful.   The video though, if you can deal with the song, is pure 1981 distilled into it’s heroin form, or so I’ve heard from “20/20”.

Anyway, Larry loved him some OTT melodramatic songs, and Air Supply was a band that provided those by the metric fuckton in the early 80s.   “All Out of Love” is simply fantastic, and is definitely the song I think of when I think of Air Supply.

It hits all of Larry’s song requirements, especially the powerful chorus allowing you to really belt the song out.  I miss Larry for different reasons at different times, and this morning I miss his singing.   He had a wonderful voice and really could hit those notes.   Anyway, as I sing along to it today, I get verklempt, but not inconsolable.  I’ve noticed a lot of love songs can work as grieving songs, except for the part where it’s just that the object of your affection thinks you’re nuts and isn’t dead.  I’m both happy and sad singing this song, in other words.

Yesterday (Mother’s Day) was a rough day for me.  I’ve told that to those who I talked to yesterday – and it was noticeably harder because I wasn’t prepared for it to be hard.   I first woke up and stumbled upon this article in social media, and damn, it hit hard, as yeah, many of these exact moments were ones we felt (and are still feeling).

Great way to start the day.   Then I tried calling mom with Stacie and she wouldn’t pick up the phone.  Gave up trying to talk to her with Stacie and repeatedly called, hoping she’d pick up.  Finally, after about 6 tries, she calls me back, without any sense of impatience or annoyance.   Just, her default state nowadays.   All that time waiting had already built my anxiety and emotions up and I couldn’t help but start crying on the phone.  She obviously was now aware I was not doing okay, and after talking for about 90 seconds (our average phone call time, nowadays), we disconnected.

I hadn’t really anticipated how much mom’s incapacity was going to hit me yesterday, so it came on like a freight train.   I was not good for most of the day.  I resent all those who still have a semblance of family that cares, that is still coherent, even in quarantine.   Seeing all the social media posts made me rage and cry and yeah, I cried a helluva lot yesterday.  It all sucks.   My friends and Stacie called me and that definitely helped – even just getting some of these emotions out, as painful as they are, helps.

It wasn’t until last night that I kind of turned the corner, when I started making dinner.   I hadn’t made one of the Instant Pot recipes since quarantine had started, and I wanted to do my fave, which is the Coq au Vin recipe.   I had ordered groceries via Instacart on Saturday, and they arrived Sunday morning, so I had everything I needed.   The mise en place always takes the longest time, but I managed to not fuck it up.  Watched videos on how to clean and slice a leek, as well as how to quarter a mushroom.   I was chatting with my friends during this time, and once I started cooking, I had opened my windows.   Across the way, my neighbors were also cooking, and we ended up having a brief conversation.  Having that really short moment of interaction, in person (but separate), was like a revelation.  It helped so much.  Other people interactions.  Go figure.  The dinner turned out fantastic, and while I was taking photos of all the prep and cooking, I ended up having a FaceTime dinner with Nicki so I actually didn’t take a picture of the finished product. D’oh.

Well, it’s back to the grind today.  An emotional day yesterday, but made it through.   The rest of the weekend is kind of a blur, tbh.   I played a lot of both Anno 2205 and Anno 1800, watched more of the The Clone Wars series (it’s so fucking good it’s shocking), watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Spiderman: Homecoming and ate food.  Go, me.

Another Tough Stage

Obviously my last year and a half have been difficult, because obviously what Larry was going through and doing what we all could to fight for his survival and then make his death as comfortable as able.   There’s been another aspect of my life that has been very hard to deal with that ran concurrently with all of the above, and that’s about my mom.

Last January (in 2019), she ended up having to get fairly emergency surgery on her neck as the discs in her vertebrae were pressing against her spinal column.  It had manifested already in her having numb hands and feet, but it wasn’t sure what was causing that.   It could have been carpal tunnel and docs weren’t quite sure.   But when she went to the hairdresser and was getting laid down into the hair sink, her legs gave out as something pressed just too much on the spinal column during that action.   At the hospital, the neurologist was able to see surgery was necessary to release the pressure on her spinal cord or else much worse damage was to come.   The surgery to replace the discs and reduce the pressure was successful, although it didn’t really undo the numbness in her hands and feet.   Recovery was unfortunately necessary but it couldn’t be at the hospital, so we had to find a convalescent acute care facility for her.   Needless to say, that was a lot of stress for her.  2 weeks of that, and then she went home.   By then, she was already stressed out about her neck and head, and had a collar to keep her from moving it too much.

Going home was a whole scary event, but Stacie and I had gotten a caregiver service to be there 24/7 for her while she recovered.   Well, that basically kept her going but her anxiety and paranoia only got worse and got to the point where she stopped eating and sleeping because she was sure a piece of cheese was stuck in her throat and that if she slept, she’d stop breathing and die.   A trip to a psychiatrist got her drugs that calmed that anxiety down.  This was in March and it had been an exhausting time for all of us.

Throughout the rest of the year, instead of getting better and feeling more secure, she only got more scared about everything.   It took 2 months before she let us take the collar off her neck, which had absolutely not been necessary that long.  She refused to go upstairs and sleep as it was scary.  So she lived on the ground floor in the living room, sleeping on the couch.   She started to forget short term things, things that we had just talked about.  She couldn’t manage her own medications anymore, and wouldn’t go out with the caregivers to the store as she was afraid of falling.  She became utterly dependent on the walker we had gotten her, and her posture became the worse for wear and she wouldn’t walk upright as she was afraid she’d fall.   She stopped doing physical therapy, she stopped going upstairs at all for the shower, and she won’t watch anything but a few channels of TV as that’s I guess the only things she will watch where she won’t feel bad?   No movies, none of her other regular shows, just game show network and HGTV.

Visiting her was always bittersweet this year.   She does have memories and does know who we are.   But she’s been completely crippled by her fear, and some obsessive compulsive behaviors about food, sleeping, and moving that we are helpless to break at this point.

I’ve sped through what has happened this past year because it’s not necessary to detail the decline each day.   Who she was last January compared to now is shocking.  Stacie and I had talked about a home, but it wasn’t a giant priority at the time as I had to deal with Larry and Stacie was out of town starting her new career.   But now it’s time to act.   We visited some assisted living homes this past Friday, and found one that we both think she’ll be good in.   It makes me so sad to even realize I have to do this for someone who is only 71, but it’s no longer safe or beneficial for her to live at home and have a caregiver there.   I went yesterday, meeting Stacie there, to talk to mom about this decision.   We’d had discussions about it with her before, and of course the conversations were never great, but I think she always understood it was for her safety and benefit, even if she really wasn’t a huge fan of going.   But it’s time now.   She listened and understood, although of course you could tell it wasn’t great news for her.

I don’t really have any other options except to do this.   It will sound defensive of me to say, but fuck any of you who think this is me pawning off some kind of responsibility to give up my life and become her caregiver.  To be frank, I made a choice with Larry, and I had to do all that with him at the end.  I’m done with that.   I’m not qualified or willing to be a nurse, clean her shit, shower her and feed her.   Maybe there are others who would happily do that and to them I say god bless.  But fuck you if you think I’m now obligated to have to basically end my life doing this for the rest of what “youth” I do have.  I welcome your judgment though, and can’t wait to tell you, if you do have that thought, to go fuck yourself.   Where have you been this last year to help?  No one has been there for her, not her sisters, no one besides Stacie and me.   So yeah, get the fuck out of here if you think you’re going to judge me.

Having said that!  Yesterday after talking with mom, I left with Sveta.  She had come with me as I needed a witness for some paperwork to sign, and on the way back, we thought maybe to go grab some food.   So we went to Burger Basket, a place from our Monrovia childhoods.  Then after that, we made our way to Pasadena for a brief Starbucks stop, meandered around the Best Buy, and then drove to Michaels for some craft stuff as I’m trying to figure out what to do with me and Larry’s rings.   We then drove to Old Town Pasadena for a nice afternoon drinking at Rocco’s and shopping along the street.   We both got new sunglasses, and I got a new duvet cover for the bed, and bought some clothes at Lucky Brand.   All in all, a nice afternoon for what had been a pretty stressful week.  Then that night, I went to an absolutely hilarious improv show at the Largo called Middleditch and Schwartz.  Best improv I’ve ever seen, and ridiculously funny.

Anyway, I love you, mom, and I’m sorry what this last year has been for you.   I honestly think there’s a good chance you’ll be happy at this new place when we do this, and you’ll get some good chances for socializing, security knowing someone is always there, and just having that comfort.

Some Pictures from Saturday, Feb 29:

Sperske Christmas

Today was a day with mom, as we went up to Aunt Helen’s where she was hosting the Sperske holiday gettogether.  Last year was skipped as everyone was pissed at each other, but I guess things are better with some this year.   Well I guess Mary wasn’t happy so she didn’t come to the event, and of course Barbara wasn’t there.  As much as I was dreading it, and the associated drive, it wasn’t as bad as expected.  Luckily there was no rain during the drive as otherwise the Cajon pass could be a fucking nightmare.  Mom was okay for the most part.  Obviously not her old self, but she managed to engage with people for the most part, but she really is just not all there.  I think that it has to do with her psych meds, and I want to investigate whether we can reduce those with it being much time passed.  I loved getting to see my cousins (and cousins in law) – Lisa, Cindy, Erin, even Bob – and Helen was doing good as was Lori.  I just can’t help but resent everyone for living their lives they way they have and Larry gets cancer.  It’s fucking awful.   Didn’t get home until about 5:45 as it was a lot of driving – Larry was in no state to be able to go to the Chinese Theater to see Rise of Skywalker, so we stayed in and tried to keep him a little calm.  Not quite successful, but did the best we could.   We did watch Eddie Murphy’s SNL that night and it was fantastic.  I hope he enjoyed it.

A Day in Duarte

I ended up having a day out on my own this day as I had to drive out to Duarte.   My first stop was to see mom as she had told me that she had a burned out lightbulb, and I also wanted to get a card table to borrow for Thanksgiving.  So we visited, and I found out there was no burned out lightbulb, just that a bulb might go out.  Good times.  Did get the table and chairs (which wasn’t necessary after all).  Swung by City of Hope next, as I brought back the chemo pump that had been removed two Fridays previous when we had in-home care come by and do that since Larry wasn’t up for going back to City of Hope to get it done back then.  No surprise, as I didn’t ever want him to have to deal with them ever again either.  So I took it back, bouncing from the pharmacy area and finally to the infusion clinic area where I hope they logged it back in.

After that, I decided to be proactive about my car.   It had been sluggish in the last few weeks/months whenever it would start – even if just a day or two had gone by without driving it.   I thought at first it might be something more, but then I realized I’ve had this car battery since I bought the car in 2013, and it’s had one fail during that time when I left my car’s interior lights on for 10 days.  So I went to Pep Boys and got a new battery, but because I was a walk-in I I had to wait a bit.  Killed the time by going to Taco Bell, then walking along Huntington past the Popeye’s (crowded of course due to their chicken sandwich), and finally to the Living Spaces nearby as I was thinking about new chairs for the dining room.   Didn’t buy anything at that time but still considering an upgrade.  But yeah, finally the battery installation was done and it’s a whole new feeling in my car.  So peppy.  Plus the new battery seems to maybe have been key for the HUD panel in my car – so far it comes up reliably.

Chairs Under Consideration: