Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Visit - Day #2

I’ve found a terrific coffee shop down the street from where I am staying in Lock Haven, PA – free Wifi and good coffee. So, I’ll be doing my blog updates and email from here each day (well, not Sundays)

I arrived safely around 2:00 p.m. yesterday. It rained in the morning, as it had the day before, but once again it was dry by the early afternoon.

Strangely, I encountered the same phenomenon at the Ohio/Pennsylvania border that I’d encountered at the Illinois/Indiana border – namely, a reduced speed limit that resulted in people driving like it was NASCAR. It’s like they are throwing themselves at the border or something. Bizarre.

I’d forgotten just how beautiful are the river valleys of Pennsylvania, especially during the Fall foliage season. Despite the gloomy clouds, the countryside as you drive along I-80 is just a sight to behold! The rolling hills and deep ravines are completely smothered in yellows, reds and oranges. I reveled in it, I must say.

I found my mother both cheerful and tearful. As she slowly advanced onto the front porch, she held out her arms and said “Oh, Cath, I’m just so glad to see you.” It’s been a hard time for her, these last few months. My stepfather has been taking very good care of her, and that is totally evident to anyone who visits them. But she missed me, and I have to admit that that felt good.

I spent quite a lot of my drive across country in conversation with God. My relationship with my stepfather has been pretty darn tense at times through the years, and I prayed that we would find a way to stay on an even keel for Mom’s sake. It’s early days yet, but yesterday we were off to a good start. I will continue to pray that God helps my attitude remain in the right place and that, as much as possible, my stepfather and I would get along well while I am here.

It’s been very difficult to mentally and emotionally process my mother’s declining health. To have her hobbling around instead of bouncing through the house is a sight I’ve never seen before in my life. Her body is wrecked by the cancer – from the waist down she is horribly swollen from all the fluid retention. She can’t wear regular shoes – instead she has a pair of Crocs that have been slit up the sides – and her feet just barely fit in those. Her legs are so full of fluid that they have begun to weep through the skin. Hospice is coming today to show her how to bandage them to catch the fluid.

My brother and his wife will arrive later today and stay overnight in town. My brother is having an even harder time than I am with the imminent death of our mother, and I hope this visit will give him some peace. When our dad died, he was able to stay with him at the end. In fact, it was my brother who talked my dad through to the end. It’s upsetting Ed that he will not be able to do the same for our mom, due to distance and work schedule.

Perhaps it isn’t appropriate to speculate, but I have a feeling that when my mother dies, she will slip away in the middle of the night. She absolutely hates emotional scenes, and I think she will simply pass away when everyone else is asleep.

So, I’m off to my mother’s house now. I told my stepfather that I’d watch the college football game with him this afternoon (Penn State playing Michigan).

- Catherine

1 comment:

Christy said...

Glad to hear you arrived and the visit is going well. When we were on I-94 and crossed over I-80 yesterday on our way to Atlanta I thought about you - still praying your time is good, whatever that looks like in this situation.