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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm So Glad He's Still Around

Did you know? Have you heard? He and I are coming up on 13 years together next week....on the 9th. Did you know that I had no plans for us to have ever made it this far? Were you aware that I was planning on being alone at this point in my life? Venture back with me, will you? December 1 is World AIDS Day. That means something very intimately different to each individual. For me, it begins here:

Part I -- When HIV Strikes Close to Home

Part II -- Epilogue....When HIV Strikes Close to Home

If you're in a hurry, don't bother. It takes some time to read these two posts. And be sure you read them in order. And it is really not the type of writing that can be skimmed or breezed through. These are posts for the hearty, the energetic, those really searching for knowledge and who really have an eager spirit for learning. I hope you'll open your heart, your mind, your ears and lives to those with HIV. Everyone needs a hand, a shoulder, a hug, whatever. Today is a perfect day to give whatever someone around you needs.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts

Cyber Monday -- it's today, you know. While I'd love to get our first Blu Ray player, it won't be happening today....but soon, I have a feeling. We don't have a DVD player and blu ray is the future. So, there you go. No cyber money being spent by me today.

We put up our Christmas decorations yesterday afternoon after I returned from Austin. They look great. Just enough in our small condominium. Not overstated. And I must remind myself of the joy of such endeavors. I can easily be caught up in "the work" part of it. The "pressure to put them up." Especially this year with the passing of my mother in law, I think it's important for us to maintain, to be consistent, to enjoy.

I'm working on my Re-Commitment to My Own Life. I have a long list of things that I'd like to keep working on in my own life. And so I've put those things to paper. We'll see what shape it takes and where it goes. It's just a perfect reminder for me to have in front of my face on a daily basis of what I find important. I need it right now.

There's something disconcerting about receiving a confirmation copy of your mother in law's Do Not Resuscitate Orders from the state registry after her death. It made us both sad to see what her name on the form and the date she had made her requests known to the doctor....just a few weeks before she passed away. She filled out her DNR form one month to the day before her death. And the information was entered into the state registry system one week before her death. And we received the confirmation form two weeks after her death. Weird, these sorts of things.

We enjoyed a quiet, one-on-one Thanksgiving with just the two of us. Well, and Mason, of course. A few movies, lots of good homemade food, and a chance to breathe a little. Perfect. And now we head on into the final month of 2010....December. It rolls around just as quickly as it always does. We try to keep our running around to a minimum. We enjoy the smaller gatherings, the dinners, the intimate group of close friends -- rather than the large parties of people we may not even know very well. And we do have tickets to see the musical HAIR on New Year's Eve. It goes without saying that we're looking forward to that. In addition, we will celebrate our 13th anniversary next week.....on December 9th we will begin our 14th year together. Amazing the water beneath the bridge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Thanksgiving

For a (nearly!) sound mind and happy heart, I give thanks. For the ability to think clearly and concisely, I am thankful. For a professional job over a lengthy time, I give thanks. I'm happy for a home where life is good most of the time, where we fight seldom, and for the fact that we care for one another dearly. For living most of my life with a healthy dose of common sense, I'm quite thankful. For the ability to put 2 and 2 together and come up with something good, I'm more than grateful. For a mind and body not typically given to depression or anxiety, I am thankful. For the massive dose of human kindness and friendship around me, I give thanks. For the ability to plan ahead, be prepared, and see into the future, I am thankful. For being able to run on time, get where I need to when I need to get there, and to not live my life with a lot of excuses, I am happy. To operate with low levels of dysfunction and toxicity, I give thanks. For a body that works most of the time, I am grateful. For a life not given over to harmful addictions or mental illness, I am thankful. For the ability to operate peacefully, contently and with deep love for leaves, trees, water, mountains and fields, I am thankful. Today, my list is long. I hope yours is too. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Dawns

The brothers-in-law have left, we just now deposited them at the airport. It's trying its best to snow but mostly rain. And the Celebration of Life was yesterday -- our condo was filled with 25 loving, caring friends who have been a part of our lives for numerous years now. LoverBoy is writing thank you notes as I write this. Our lives as we have known them over the last eight years are now over. God, it's quiet in this place. I could say that our lives will now be returning to normal but I'm afraid that I really don't take stock in "normal."

I'm working on a list. I've been working on it for some time now. It is still just a bunch of notes on a catering sheet from work at this point. Not quite sure when or how it will be final. Or what shape it will take. But I just know that it is time to recenter myself, returning to the roadway instead of tossing gravel about as the edges of my tires try their best to leave the proper path. There are definitely seasons to our lives -- looking back I can count many times when things were either up or down, driven to this direction or that because of the cycles in my life. The good, the bad. It all adds up to this thing we call our lives. I've been thinking a lot about focus. About prioritizing. About picking my Top 3, or 5, or even 10. What are my, say, Top 5 most important things in my life....the things that add value to my life, the things that will last into my old age, the things that I will be glad I did when I die. And about ridding myself of distractions, toxic activities or relationships, and negativity that taints one's heart and soul. Oh yeah, I'm a thinker, an analyzer. But I like me. For who I am. For who I can become.

This week is Thanksgiving. I'm not a giant fan of any particular holiday, nor a disliker either. But I like the word.....Thanksgiving. I'm a generally thankful person. One of the things on the list (alluded to above) that I'm creating is that at the end of each day, I want to pat myself on the back for one good thing I did that particular day and I want to also remember one poor thing I did that day....to remind myself to not to it again. Thanksgiving brings up those sorts of thought processes for me. Today, I am thankful for all of you. Not just "my readers" but my friends. For a million reasons not the least of which is all of the support you've given me, us!, over the past years as we've dealt with my in-laws and their care. I'm not quite sure where I'd be without your emails, comments, texts and actual in-person love! Thank you....on this Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Did you know how quiet one's phone can be? Except for the condolences and those checking on us to see if we need anything, it's been eerily silent. We've been in nearly constant chat all week long regarding the loss of his mother last Friday night. And the telephone was how she reached us. We have received several arrangements of amazing flowers. And a tons of cards in the U.S. Post. Even from those who we never thought we'd hear from again.

We spent last Sunday removing all of her belonging from her assisted living residence. Most went to Goodwill or the garbage. Some went to a shelter who clothes the homeless. We gave her bed away, the cane and walker to keep her stable were donated. And we've been reminiscing via old, really old, pictures and keepsakes. And her oxygen concentrator and portable tanks were picked up by the medical people who do that sort of thing. She was cremated on Monday afternoon.

I keep on checking in with LoverBoy. I can't imagine how it feels to lose both parents. To be alone in this world without those who brought you into it. He's a tough cookie. He's reasonable, patient, and has done an excellent job of getting to know his feelings. He's sorted out the good from the bad. Saturday is an open house and Celebration of Life for her....right here at our condominium.

Life ends up being so small at the end, it seems. Minute. Teeny tiny and baby. Nothing lasts. We end up all by ourselves with only the pajamas or gown that we die in. It's so strange. The bills don't matter. The idiosyncrasies seem to fade. Those things that we chose to elevate to a place of prominence are reduce to zip....zero. Bad attitudes have the life sucked out of them. And sometimes our enemies become our friends. Things do change, over and over, in our lives. We must move, shake, roll with it. Be pliable and flexible. I think that may be one of the keys to making this fast-passing time on earth a bit easier to deal with.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Me & Momma

My Mother in Law has left us. For years, she's been my MIL in the electronic arena. It was last Friday night when she decided that enough was enough and breathed her last. I met her years ago, 13 to be nearly exact, when she still lived in Santa Maria, California. In 2002, we (I!) decided to push for them to move nearer to us in Portland for health care reasons. He passed away two years ago. And she, last Friday. Both were 82.

Living with any person, or persons, is difficult. Dealing with family, in laws, parents, children and the like is not always a cake walk. In fact, family can bring about feelings and decisions and actions that don't typically feel like we're being ourselves. They know our buttons, and use them freely. They know how we'll react, or not, and thrive on that. Momma had a myriad of health issues from congestive heart failure to breathing difficulties to a strong thread of addiction issues.

She and I struggled nearly from the time they arrived in Portland. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I'm a pretty black-and-white sort of guy. I'll typically tell you the way it is. I'm a mover, a shaker. I get things done. I'm about solving troubles, not covering them up. I'm a nice guy but I'm not a sweet guy. And all of those things are points at which she and I came to terms. Blows. Repeatedly. She was none of those things. Her beauty came in simplicity, easiness. Nothing formal, nothing with time restrictions or dates attached to it. It came in smiles to others, sharing a leftover piece of cake with someone, or a simple card left at somebody's door. She hated dates, times, and places. She wanted no requirements, nothing formalized, no "have to's." When backed into a corner, she'd take the road of non-commitment. She would rarely commit to being anywhere at a particular time unless she had to. She could not stand people telling her what to do. Given her own vices, she would probably not be where she was supposed to at the given time and date. She'd get there on her own time....after a "Wee." And "I just need my water." And "Where's my purse?" And, "I just have a couple of things to do first....." She was never ready. And that drove me up the wall. And she didn't care.

Momma and I came to blows twice. Really, really horrible spars. Complete with foam out of the mouth, and rage in the eyes, the most vile of words, and tears. We never really got better after that. She took advantage of me more times than I can count. I knew her, she knew me. I think she liked me, I don't think she really took to me. I think she appreciated me for who I was and the things I could do for her but I don't think she would have chosen me to be a friend of hers in the big wide world of people to choose from. I think she valued me as her son's partner and that I take care of him, and stick up for him. Nearly always, he and I stood together. Her addictive personality ran the home. And caused her life to be in turmoil. She was rarely at 100% peace for very long. Until now. She struggled, she thrashed about, she was upset often, she always needed something else, she had fear in her eyes sometimes, she always needed a hand-holding person. Her life was pleasant, lovely, when filled with her vast array of old friends. But her life was a real bitch when the ugliness of her troubles reared their ugly heads. Isn't that the same with all of us?

Today, she rests. Without pain, discomfort, the feeling of being unsettled and always needing something else. Today, the medications are needed no more. The edgy, dire phone calls have stopped. She tested me repeatedly. Many times, intentionally. I have had to learn, to change, to evolve. Because she was my partner's mother. And an aging human being who needed help. I hope I'm a better person and have learned a few lessons because of her.

And today, I ask for comfort on her tired soul. For rest and....finally...coming to a place of eternal peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Time Draws Nigh

UPDATE: Eleanor passed away at 6:18pm Pacific Time tonight Friday November 12, 2010. Finally, at peace.

The time draws nigh for my Mother in Law. She lived in her brand new assisted living facility for around six weeks. And struggled the entire time. Last Saturday, we were packing and prepping for our week-long vacation with my family in Boise. We stopped by to see her and, clearly, things were not well. The nurse was with her and had already arranged for her to be moved immediately to a nursing facility to receive medical care that could not be provided at the assisted living home. That was a week ago tomorrow. The first few days were filled with anger, yelling out, calling 9-1-1- from the nursing home bed, and threatening to walk out of the place. The folks at Providence Elder Place in Portland have been nothing short of amazing and responsive. They have arranged for an overnight care person to sit with her. She hasn't eaten in five days. Her veins have collapsed and they are unable to get an IV into her arm for nutrition or medication. As of today, she is incoherent and at peace.

It is difficult, to say the least, to have thoughts of pending death of one's mother in law knowing all of the trouble she has caused us over the years. The woven pattern of each of our lives is made up of so many things. Life, and death, stir up a long list of thought patterns. Tomorrow we drive from Boise back home to Portland. We're hoping we get there in time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boise Idaho Today

  • Well, it's happened. And all the while we're in Idaho! Wyoming has toppled my home state of Idaho in being the USA's most Red State. Hallelujah. The torch can be passed along.
  • We're enjoying a very relaxing visit at my Mother's house outside of Boise. It has been tainted a bit with MIL's issues back in Portland, my hubby's kidney stone that's waiting to pass, and my not feeling well. I see my mom far too little.
  • I love my sister to death. She has come to far-reaching points in her life...out of dire necessity. I appreciate being able to talk with her, understand her, and know that she is safe and happy. There were days that I never thought it would be possible.
  • MIL is not well. We had to move her out of her brand-new assisted living facility after being there only six weeks or so. The nursing home may be temporary, but probably permanent. She is just needing such a higher level of nursing/medical care. She's sleeping a majority of the time right now. And eating very little. She's angry, she's lashing out, she's irritated that we're in Idaho -- she always has hated it when we're away. Her roommate wants her moved out of the room. She's already called 9-1-1 from her nursing home bed because she "Needed Help." Her mental capacity is wildly erratic and unstable. I must give giant kudos to our new found friends at Providence ElderPlace in Portland. They have been lifesavers with coordinating her care, ordering anything she needed, sending caregivers, and making sure that we are also tended to. Seriously, they have taken us by the hand and helped us down a very rough road. And who says we don't need health care reform.
  • Our drive over was fine but we both did not feel well. What we usually enjoy as a great day was overshadowed by some of the worst rain I've been in for a long time...paying attention to pools of water on the road and Big Rig trucks made it tricky. And neither of us felt well. I'm a little better but have been having daily headaches and aches. The trees all of the way over were so pretty -- framed against the dark evergreens along the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge and the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon.
  • Hubby has a kidney stone....3mm. He's had right-sided groin/hip pain for a long time and has been trying to get it solved via ultrasounds and several CT scans. So, now the stone has been discovered and must pass. Gawd, we're getting old ..........

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Beginning of Return to Center

I have begun to draft a new, written commitment to myself and my life. It's no surprise that it has been out of control for some time now. Just the simple act of writing things, ideas, down has been quite calming. I'm feeling a tremendous need to get back to basics in my life. Centering, balance, and focus have become my daily energies. And now that our nation has taken a turn for the worse, it adds that much fuel to my fire for refocusing. I feel a huge need to look at different things in my life. To stop looking at other things. The moon slivers, the faint hint of clouds in a clear sky, those are the things that have always spoken to me. But nowadays, they speak even more strongly. The television, the internet, are speaking less. Staring sounds perfect. Gazing is calling my name. I need to shed things that distract me. Things that erode my sanity and balance. My middle names are about to become Mountains, Sky, Rivers, Clouds, Trees and Grass. They remain staid. And that's what I need right now.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wind Knocked Out of the Sails

Well well now, that was rough, wasn't it? Red casting its bloody hue over blue -- making exactly what color? Who knows. I'd say that there are a fair amount of hacked off people in this nation. In all sorts of corners with all sorts of feelings and issues.

I was doing my safety demonstration today standing in mid-cabin when I just happened to glance over my shoulder and down to the magazine that a man was reading. I learn a lot of things that way. All I caught was "An Armed America is a Safe America" before he turned the page to another precious article titled "Armed Citizens Are America's Saving Grace." It is straight out of a publication by you know which group...and I refuse to put a link to it. And then it hit me -- I'm a stranger living in a foreign land. I'm living in a nation where people don't think like me, appreciate me for being who I am, nor care about my rights. Some do, many (most?) do not. Fags are not a respected group in the country of my birth. And it's time that I face that. I've spoken before about the liberal sort of free spirited bubble that we tend to live in here in Portland. And it is exactly that...a bubble. Not reality, except for Portland's. Not an accurate reflection of our country as a whole. Just Portland's own little thing. For which I am highly thankful. I couldn't be happier to live right there. But even here, things are closing in. We are damned close to electing the very first Republican governor in my 13 years here in Oregon. People have had it. They are pissed and full of anger. Not just at Democrats. Everyone is angry with everyone. I've written repeatedly about how I think our world is going to self-destruct sometime. Implode. Dissolve. It can only continue for so long. I easily see a sort of civil war or destruction in this Red, White and Blue Nation. The proud, the patriotic, aren't really so. I mean, it sounds good when the flag is waving, or perhaps when a Lee Greenwood song is playing over loudspeakers, or candles are lit. Or even when a military jet flies over. But the inbred bottom line and reality is that we're fighters, scrapers, schoolyard bullies. We have minimal respect for one another. We like to say we do, but it's quite scant. We'd rather have a gun slung across the cracked back window of our pickup than allow two men to marry. We think that it's more important to allow freedom of speech than to actually invest in the systems of this nation that may keep us afloat. Screw education....that costs money. To hell with the young and old, we just can't afford it. Maybe we should just get rid of Social Security (after all, it was a Democratic-induced social system, don't forget). Apparently our focus is not on helping those who need it.

I told my bigoted far-right Republican step father a few years back that I really have little interest if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The name means nothing to me. What matters is your actions.....toward others, not yourself. What are you actively doing to help others, to make others lives better? What matters is that you take care of those who cannot help themselves. The poor, the young, the old, the mentally and physically challenged. And we're not. We're far more focused on how much money it's going to cost. So, here we are. Rich white people in charge. A few good looking airheaded women for added measure. One nation under god? Nope, I don't think so. There's little about this nation that is "one." And god will have nothing to do with this mess. And we continue to suffer. And suffer we will. Until we cave in. The walls will collapse. They've already begun to.