Sunday, December 31, 2023


I'll never forget how I'm spending New Year's Eve 2023. For two days now my dad's blood pressure and pulse have been so low as to be unmeasurable, but he's still (just barely) breathing. The hospice nurse that came out today was surprised that he's still holding on.

I told my mom that he's determined to see the new year in. My dad is tougher than I knew. 

Dad's getting very small doses of morphine here and there, and he seems comfortable and peaceful. I'm grateful for that. He still responds a little to voices and touch. It surely won't be long now.

I'll try to be back soon, but in the meantime, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you for another year of friendship and kindness.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Hanging in there

What a difference a good sleep makes.

I haven't been sleeping well lately; no surprise I supposed given everything that's going on. Most of last night wasn't much better. In addition to stress, I've started having some pre-menstrual sleep disturbances due to (probable) perimenopause. At this point in my cycle nowadays I wake up throughout the night drenched in sweat and then I shiver because it's cold and my nightclothes and hair are damp. I have stressful dreams, too. It was that way last night, but then at sunrise I dropped back off and slept like a stone for three more hours. Now I feel almost human again.

Thanks everyone for your support on my last couple of posts. I haven't responded to each of you individually because it's just too emotionally draining, but know that I appreciate all the kindness. 

A couple of book club friends have invited me to lunch in an hour, and I'm planning to go. I need to get out of the house for a few. I'm actually looking forward to going back to work next week because sitting at home stewing over everything isn't helping me or anybody else. Of course I'll take whatever time off my mom needs for me to be with her, but except for that I'd rather be busy and try to distract myself. Right now I'm just taking one day at a time and dealing with things as they come. 

Thanks again for all the kind words, everyone.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A hard day

 I'm so glad this holiday season is almost over. It's not really my favorite time of year to begin with, and this one has been especially painful.

I finally went to see my mom and dad today, now that the danger of spreading Covid is over. At my mom's suggestion I picked up a pizza on the way there for our lunch, but neither of us felt like eating it. One of the hospice nurses had been out early this morning, and my mom wanted to talk to me about what she'd said.

The nurse says dad is now "actively dying". She thinks he may only have a few days left to live. I wasn't particularly shocked at the news, but it still felt like a dagger in my heart. The kind nurse had offered to stay until I got there, to explain things to me, but mom had told her that it wasn't necessary. They're stopping all his medications (he's almost unable to swallow at this point) save for morphine drops to put under his tongue as needed and something else to keep him from feeling anxious. It almost certainly won't be long now. 

Mom also wanted to discuss plans for after dad dies. His wish is to be cremated, and mom doesn't think she can bear to have a funeral right away. She wanted to make sure I'd be okay with that; I'm actually more than okay with it. It's a relief. I can't stand the thought of funeral homes, and embalming, and having to see a bunch of people when we're dealing with grief. And the expensive of all that would be ridiculous, too. 

The plan is to have the cremation go ahead immediately and then at some point in the future having a small gravesite service where his ashes will be interred next to my grandparents. Something very simple, with family only, and after a little time has passed. I think it's a good plan.

I went in to see dad twice today. He woke up enough to talk to me a little both times. Before I left the second time I told him I loved him. He said, "I love you too. Take care of yourself." 

That "take care of yourself" gutted me.

 I had intended to stay with my mom for a little longer, but at that point I had to leave. I can't stand to cry in front of other people, even my mother, and I felt like I was about to choke. Of course I told mom I can come back any time she needs me, but right at that moment I had to get out of there. It was a sad ride home. I'm having a harder time with all this than I expected. 

I don't know if I'll see my dad again. My mom asked me if I wanted her to call me as soon as he dies so I can dash down to see him before his body is taken away.  I told her to call me if SHE needs me, and that I'll come right away, but that I don't necessarily want to see a lifeless shell. She understood. She just wanted to make sure she could honor my wishes and I respect her for that. 

It's a hard thing, saying goodbye to a parent. Tonight I feel like a sad little girl on the inside. My heart aches.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve has dawned gloriously bright, sunny, and warm. It's supposed to get up to almost 70 degrees today, a big change from last year's frigid weather. 

We're both feeling totally well and recovered from Covid. We're still spending the holiday quietly at home, though. Some good food and sweets (slightly pared down from a typical year), walks with the dogs, movies, wine, and small glasses of eggnog laced with spiced rum are on the agenda. We'll be seeing family and friends later in the week. 

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2023


My dad was just in the hospital again. He came home last night, in very bad shape. 

His doctor has decided that there's nothing further that can be done for him. They've called in hospice and last night they delivered a hospital bed to my parents' house for him. 

I spoke to dad on the phone for a minute yesterday, and the only positive thing I can say about it is that he seemed to know who I was. Dementia has set in and a conversation is pretty much impossible. 

I dare not visit until Gregg and I both test negative for Covid, probably next week. He may or may not make it that long, depending on how this latest crisis plays out. He's had ups and downs regularly over the past year, but I don't know how much bounce back he's got left in him. 

At least now my mom will have the help she desperately needs to care for him. 

And at least he can die at home, which is what he wants.

I'm not posting this looking for sympathy, but as a way to document what's happening for future reference. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The C word (both of them)

After three years of testing myself every time I so much as got a sniffle, I was shocked when that second line popped up on the Covid test Friday afternoon. I almost hadn’t bothered taking a test at all, I was so sure it would be negative. I guess I'd gotten the stupid idea that I was immune after avoiding it all this time. I'd even put off getting the latest booster, which in hindsight was a real mistake. 

Puppies hanging out with me in the quarantine room.

I've been incredibly lucky; I've had colds worse than this. Mostly I ran a low-grade fever for a couple of days and felt kind of tired, along with a mild headache that came and went. There have been pretty much no respiratory symptoms, and today I feel mostly back to normal. 

But......last night Gregg started to shiver, and I took his temperature, and sure enough, he had a fever. Damn it! We tried to stay apart and be careful, but chances are I was contagious before my symptoms started. So far this morning he feels okay, and after taking a couple of Tylenol his temperature is normal. To be safe, he's headed to the doctor to confirm whether or not he's positive (we don't have any more home tests) and to get an antiviral if he is. Hopefully his symptoms will be as mild as mine, but we're not taking any chances. 

As grateful as I am that we're not any sicker, I'm sad that Christmas is pretty much going to be canceled. I missed the work Christmas party, as you know.  Then we had to cancel a planned visit from family on Sunday. My sister-in-law, Karen, was planning to come for the day along with our nephew Tyler and his wife Jessica. This was the second time we've had to cancel on them due to illness. Gregg was sick with some random virus over Thanksgiving when they first planned to come. 

Tomorrow I'll also have to miss my book club Christmas party. I had recommended the book we read this month, so I hate that I can't go. (I also missed book club last month when Gregg had the stomach virus thing). Then this coming Saturday Martina had planned to come over for our annual holiday book exchange--obviously that's not going to happen now either. And until Gregg and I both test negative, I can't go see my parents, because my dad's health is so poor that Covid would be very dangerous for him. 

I'd planned to spend a couple of days baking cookies and treats this week, but since we can't do anything or see anyone, and since we're not feeling great, I'm not going to bother. Hopefully I'll be able to mask up and go grocery shopping in another day or two, at least, because all we have to eat here at the moment are cans of soup, Saltine crackers, ginger ale, and Gatorade, all purchased hastily by Gregg over the weekend to keep us going while I was sick. Our empty fridge and pantry don't look very festive, that's for sure. 

I guess there's always next year.

Hey ho. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Just my damn luck! (Update)

4:30 pm...So it's finally happened. I have Covid. 

Well, today was a shorter day than I expected. 

Yesterday and last night I started feeling a tickle in my throat and a mild headache. Then I woke up throughout the night with body aches. When I got to work this morning the body aches got worse. Just to be on the safe side, I had the school nurse take my temperature. I really didn't think I was running a fever, plus I'd taken Motrin earlier for the aches.

But I was running a fever, despite the Motrin.

The nurse thought I should probably head home, since fever is a sign that someone is contagious. I was so disappointed to miss the holiday party!

And it's just my luck that I'm getting sick at the start of my break.

Half day

I'm heading out soon for a half day of work, followed by our staff Christmas luncheon, and then guess what...........

It's winter break, Baby! Woo! 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Double gifts

It seems I have two different Secret Santas at work. It's only supposed to be one, but I've gotten two different gifts both days so far this week. I talked to the person who organizes it all, and she can't figure out why it's happening. No one has complained about not getting anything (at first we thought it must be some mistake). The most likely explanation at this point is that I have the one regular Secret Santa,  and the other is the administrative staff person who pulled my name who has decided to leave me gifts all week instead of the one bigger gift that's expected. I have a sneaking suspicion that the admin staff who got my name (and is leaving the extra gifts) is the assistant principal, Mrs. Smith. One of the gifts had a note on it that looks a little like her handwriting. Either that, or some random member of the staff has decided to shower me with some extra love!

I've also gotten a Christmas mug with hot chocolate mix and candy, a large bottle of my favorite soft drink with a huge bag of M&Ms, and a holiday themed dish towel.

I don't know what to think about all these gifts. I suppose it still might be some mistake, but I won't know until Friday when we reveal ourselves. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Why do I do this to myself?

Ah, the holidays. Every year I promise myself I'm not going to invest much money or effort into it, and every year it turns into a major headache anyway. And I don't even have all that much fun to show for it.

I overextended myself at work. First of all, back before Thanksgiving an email came out asking the staff if we wanted to participate in Secret Santa, which would involve drawing names and then leaving small ($5 and under) gifts and treats for the person Monday through Thursday of the week before winter break. Then on Friday, you'd do one last (slightly bigger) gift. I thought, "That might be fun." So I signed up.

Then a week or so later the guidance counselor sent out an email asking for volunteers to adopt a student whose family was struggling and provide some gifts. Well, I like to be charitable at Christmas, so I told her to sign me up. I didn't realize I would have a child all to myself to provide gifts for. 

THEN, the principal sent out an email just to the office and administrative staff, asking if we wanted to draw names for a gift exchange. Everyone else said yes, so I didn't want to be the odd one out. 

So of course I signed up for that too. 

To summarize, I volunteered myself to be responsible for:
  • Buying five gifts for my "Secret Santa" person, four totaling $20 and then the fifth being "bigger". (It's a third grade teacher that I've barely ever spoken to).
  • Buying all the gifts a child is likely to get this Christmas. For privacy reasons, all I know about said child is that it's a boy in the second grade who likes "action figures and WWE wrestling". Oh, and his shoe and clothing sizes. *
  • Buying a gift for our school librarian, a nice enough lady that I know nothing about. I heard that the minimum to spend is $15 and that there's no maximum. Jesus!
I decided to bite the bullet this afternoon and go get all the gifts from Target in one fell swoop. In case I've never never mentioned it here on the blog, I HATE SHOPPING. Hate it. Online shopping has become my best friend over the last couple of years for a reason. But I did it, and I'm proud to say I got everything I'll need to fulfill all the obligations I signed up for. I spent way too much money and I had NO CLUE how any of it will be received. At least it won't be weighing on my mind anymore, though. I can stash it all in my office at work and dole it out as appropriate.

All this, and I haven't done one single thing for my family or friends yet.

*I actually don't mind spending money on the child, it was just very difficult for me to shop for him. I know nothing about buying kids' toys and clothing, especially with the scant information I had. And I wish I'd spent all the money on him, and not on bullshit trinkets for coworkers. Sigh.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Breakfast with Santa

This whole first year at my new job is turning out to be a learning experience. There are many, many special events, field trips, holiday celebrations, and fundraisers that take place in an elementary school setting. As both the school secretary and bookkeeper (especially as the bookkeeper), the learning curve has been somewhat steep, but I'm really enjoying it. Over the past couple of weeks, in addition to my regular duties, it's been preparing for our annual "Breakfast with Santa" event. It takes place on a Saturday morning, with a pancake breakfast, crafts, storytimes, and one of the teacher's husbands dressed as Santa and taking photos with the children. It's a big deal, and let me tell you that a LOT of work (and expense) goes into pulling it off. 

When I found out that it's not just limited to students at Carver, I invited Marla and little Carsen (who attends a different elementary school in the district) to come. I bought Carsen's ticket as one of her early Christmas presents, and Marla and I took her yesterday. 

I was so glad I went! Not only did Carsen have a great time, but I got to see the result of my hard work these last two weeks. (Had I not had a child to bring, I wouldn't have gone at all).  What a great turnout we had, and what fun it all was! It made the work of preparing for it all feel more worthwhile.


Pancakes just taste better with whipped cream and sprinkles. It's a scientific fact.

There were several craft stations. Here's Carsen at one of them showing off her creation.

Carsen and Marla taking silly pictures. This might be my favorite!

Mrs. Claus reads a story.

That's one of our kindergarten teachers as Mrs. Claus, and let me tell you, that woman KNOWS how to read a story to children. Even the adults in the room enjoyed it! *

One of many volunteer elves from among our staff.

Before we left, I stopped by my office to grab something and got a photo of Carsen sitting at my desk. I may get this picture framed and put it up in there!

*At one point in the story, Santa ripped his pants trying to go back up the chimney, and you could see his candy cane printed long johns underneath. Mrs. Claus said, "That's right, children! You could see Santa's drawers!" and a little girl in the audience (with perfectly dramatic timing) piped up with, "But I don't WANNA see Santa's drawers!" It brought down the house.