Sunday, September 25, 2016

And then came December (Part 2 of a continuing saga of 18 months of hell)

When Andy died, I stayed for a while telling him how I would miss him, and how nothing would ever be forgotten.  I packed up his shirt and a prayer card left in his room saying someone had come by to pray for him in a plastic bag and left the room.  Completely numb, I thanked everyone who helped take him to the next level and headed for the elevator.

Not Cedars, but it looked exactly like this.


I walked down to the parking garage and asked for a taxi.  I could have stayed - maybe eaten something at our favorite deli, Canter's, but my brain couldn't process anything except "go home".  While waiting for the taxi, I called Southwest to try to change my ticket.  When the agent came on the phone, I said "I have a reservation for tonight, but I just watched my boyfriend die and I just want to go home. How much to change my ticket?"

"Nothing," she said, "and I'm so very sorry."  I thanked her and she offered condolences.
The taxi waiting area
I hung up and waited for the taxi.  Soon a fairly decrepit taxi pulled up and loaded my luggage into the trunk.  I got in.  The driver turned around and said
 "Are you okay, miss?"
"I guess.  I just watched my best friend in the world die.  I need to go to the airport to get home."
"It will be my pleasure, and that's the most horrible thing I've ever heard."

We drove in silence for a while, when he turned and said "Do you smoke?"  I said that I used to, but that I had an electronic cigarette now.  He said "But do you want a real one?"

"Absolutely" I said.  He handed me the pack and said "have as many as you want".  Eventually, he hesitantly asked the particulars and I told him.  "Shit!  That's horrible!  No one should have to do that!  Shit!"

When we reached the airport, he said "do not lift a hand" and carried my luggage to the sky cap.  I paid him and gave him a generous tip, which he handed back.  "God bless you", he said and I burst into tears.


I was about two hours away from my flight, so I stopped at the McDonald's in the airport for the first food I'd eaten since I got to L.A.  I had no idea there was a Canter's at the airport at the time.  It probably would have required me to get re-screened anyway.  I found a table and ate in complete silence and shock.

I wandered to the gate, and found a seat.  Pulling out my phone, I called my best friend Sue and began the long story.  Sue has been there nearly from the beginning of Andy and I.  She had seen the ups, the downs, the together and the separations.  It was always known between us that Andy and I would eventually end up in the old folks home together shouting at the cars that went by.  It was just going to happen that way.  Neither one of us wanted to say it, but I finally did.

"My entire life has been planned around being together in the home, bitching at each other.  What am I supposed to do now without Andy in my life?".  "I don't know," she said, "I never expected it not to happen."  I told her everything that happened and when I was done, I was spent.  She and her husband had offered to come sit in the waiting room when this happened, just so I would know she was close and there if needed.  I vetoed that - nothing more horrible than sitting in a place while I'm in another, but I was so grateful she asked.  Now, after letting my heart bleed with her, I needed to get into line to board.

"Call me when you get home."
"I will."


I had been trying to reach Ed, one of Andy's best friends since childhood, and the only one I knew how to reach, but had been unable.  I had left several messages, each more urgent than the last.  While standing in line, Ed finally called. He'd been in Europe.  He'd also received a call from our mutual friend Avi, who was both mine and Andy's doctor...but unbeknowst to me Andy had not seen him in years.  Avi, a very, very important doctor at Cedar's had the full scoop and had told Ed, who told me he had been expecting it for quite a while, as Andy started to refuse to see him when he was in town.  The last time he'd seen him, he said he looked homeless.  Because I'd been in another town, Andy had been sending photos to me that I thought were current.  They weren't.  I'd figured that out in the hospital, when he had a full head of grey hair, which was not grey when I'd last seen him.  I told Ed I was boarding the plane and would call him when I arrived, and then I took my seat.
Ed and I, at his sister's wedding shortly after we'd met


Once in the air, the flight staff came around and asked if we wanted something to drink.  I said "Oh, just give me a vodka seven, or whatever.  I just watched my boyfriend die and I don't want to feel anything."

The attendant, a wonderful man, knelt beside me and said "Honey, this one's on me", and abandoned his other passengers to get me my drink (which, bless him, was very strong.)
I think he put two bottles in it.

He then served the other passengers and came back with another drink.  He kneeled beside me and asked if I wanted to talk about it.  I told him a little, and he told me how wonderful it was that I stayed with him the whole time and that he was so very sorry.  When we arrived, he escorted me from the plane and said "is someone here to get you?" and I said yes.  He hugged me and wished me the best.  I wish I'd gotten his name and picture.

I went down to baggage and eventually found my suitcase and my way out to my ride.  I called Ed, and my neighbor listened to everything that happened.  Now at home, I pulled my suitcase out, walked in my door, said hi to the dogs and fell into bed.  When I woke, I got dressed and went to my mothers house to find I needed to take her to the hospital as she had not eaten or drank anything since I left, and my brother wasn't much better.

And it began.


More later.

And then came December

When Andy died, I stayed for a while telling him how I would miss him, and how nothing would ever be forgotten.  I packed up his shirt and a prayer card left in his room saying someone had come by to pray for him in a plastic bag and left the room.  Completely numb, I thanked everyone who helped take him to the next level and headed for the elevator.

Not Cedars, but it looked exactly like this.


I walked down to the parking garage and asked for a taxi.  I could have stayed - maybe eaten something at our favorite deli, Canter's, but my brain couldn't process anything except "go home".  While waiting for the taxi, I called Southwest to try to change my ticket.  When the agent came on the phone, I said "I have a reservation for tonight, but I just watched my boyfriend die and I just want to go home. How much to change my ticket?"

"Nothing," she said, "and I'm so very sorry."  I thanked her and she offered condolences.
The taxi waiting area
I hung up and waited for the taxi.  Soon a fairly decrepit taxi pulled up and loaded my luggage into the trunk.  I got in.  The driver turned around and said
 "Are you okay, miss?"
"I guess.  I just watched my best friend in the world die.  I need to go to the airport to get home."
"It will be my pleasure, and that's the most horrible thing I've ever heard."

We drove in silence for a while, when he turned and said "Do you smoke?"  I said that I used to, but that I had an electronic cigarette now.  He said "But do you want a real one?"

"Absolutely" I said.  He handed me the pack and said "have as many as you want".  Eventually, he hesitantly asked the particulars and I told him.  "Shit!  That's horrible!  No one should have to do that!  Shit!"

When we reached the airport, he said "do not lift a hand" and carried my luggage to the sky cap.  I paid him and gave him a generous tip, which he handed back.  "God bless you", he said and I burst into tears.


I was about two hours away from my flight, so I stopped at the McDonald's in the airport for the first food I'd eaten since I got to L.A.  I had no idea there was a Canter's at the airport at the time.  It probably would have required me to get re-screened anyway.  I found a table and ate in complete silence and shock.

I wandered to the gate, and found a seat.  Pulling out my phone, I called my best friend Sue and began the long story.  Sue has been there nearly from the beginning of Andy and I.  She had seen the ups, the downs, the together and the separations.  It was always known between us that Andy and I would eventually end up in the old folks home together shouting at the cars that went by.  It was just going to happen that way.  Neither one of us wanted to say it, but I finally did.

"My entire life has been planned around being together in the home, bitching at each other.  What am I supposed to do now without Andy in my life?".  "I don't know," she said, "I never expected it not to happen."  I told her everything that happened and when I was done, I was spent.  She and her husband had offered to come sit in the waiting room when this happened, just so I would know she was close and there if needed.  I vetoed that - nothing more horrible than sitting in a place while I'm in another, but I was so grateful she asked.  Now, after letting my heart bleed with her, I needed to get into line to board.

"Call me when you get home."
"I will."


I had been trying to reach Ed, one of Andy's best friends since childhood, and the only one I knew how to reach, but had been unable.  I had left several messages, each more urgent than the last.  While standing in line, Ed finally called. He'd been in Europe.  He'd also received a call from our mutual friend Avi, who was both mine and Andy's doctor...but unbeknowst to me Andy had not seen him in years.  Avi, a very, very important doctor at Cedar's had the full scoop and had told Ed, who told me he had been expecting it for quite a while, as Andy started to refuse to see him when he was in town.  The last time he'd seen him, he said he looked homeless.  Because I'd been in another town, Andy had been sending photos to me that I thought were current.  They weren't.  I'd figured that out in the hospital, when he had a full head of grey hair, which was not grey when I'd last seen him.  I told Ed I was boarding the plane and would call him when I arrived, and then I took my seat.
Ed and I, at his sister's wedding shortly after we'd met


Once in the air, the flight staff came around and asked if we wanted something to drink.  I said "Oh, just give me a vodka seven, or whatever.  I just watched my boyfriend die and I don't want to feel anything."

The attendant, a wonderful man, knelt beside me and said "Honey, this one's on me", and abandoned his other passengers to get me my drink (which, bless him, was very strong.)
I think he put two bottles in it.

He then served the other passengers and came back with another drink.  He kneeled beside me and asked if I wanted to talk about it.  I told him a little, and he told me how wonderful it was that I stayed with him the whole time and that he was so very sorry.  When we arrived, he escorted me from the plane and said "is someone here to get you?" and I said yes.  He hugged me and wished me the best.  I wish I'd gotten his name and picture.

I went down to baggage and eventually found my suitcase and my way out to my ride.  I called Ed, and my neighbor listened to everything that happened.  Now at home, I pulled my suitcase out, walked in my door, said hi to the dogs and fell into bed.  When I woke, I got dressed and went to my mothers house to find I needed to take her to the hospital as she had not eaten or drank anything since I left, and my brother wasn't much better.

And it began.


More later.

Friday, May 27, 2016

My Brother Is One of Them....Northern California Vietnam Vets To Be Added To The ‘In Memory’ Program

Northern California Vietnam Vets To Be Added To The ‘In Memory’ Program: The Vietnam Veteran’s Wall in Washington, DC honors those who died from injuries sustained while serving in the Vietnam war. A different memorial honors veterans who died as a result of their service, if not directly from wounds.

Monday, November 16, 2015

It Started to Get Weird in May (Part 1 of a continuing saga of 18 months of hell)

One day I choose every year to either celebrate or ignore is my birthday.

In 2014, I had chosen to basically ignore it as my mother had recently been in hospice, but after a couple of months, she rallied and was “discharged”.  She really wasn’t any better, she was just “better enough” to be taken out of hospice.  For those of you just joining me, my mother was 86 at the time, with congestive heart failure, failure to thrive and had begun to exhibit signs of dementia.  She’d forget to feed herself or my brother (who has early onset Alzheimer’s), she refused to stop driving, and she started to get lost in places she was very familiar with.  My 63 year-old brother had early onset Alzheimer's.

I had taken two weeks off from work to make sure we could go back to status quo – me stopping by every day and them taking care of themselves.  My mother was still showing enough signs of being “all there” than not (little did I know).

At four o’clock in the afternoon of my uncelebrated birthday, I received a phone call.

Them:   “Do you know Andy Rush?”

Me:  “For 35 years.  I’m his on/off girlfriend.  Why?  Who is this?”


Andy had been in the hospital for a week because he had a really bad back condition.  It got to the point where he couldn’t walk, and was taken by ambulance to Cedars in Los Angeles.  Did I mention I live in Northern California?  Okay.  Anyway, I had spoken to him every night that week.

Them:  “I’m a (some word for “person who searches for relatives”) and we found this number in Andy’s things.  He’s unconscious.”

Me:  “What do you mean, unconscious?  He was there for his back!  What the hell?”

Them:  “The doctor will contact you in a few minutes”.

Me:  “Tell the doctor I’m heading to the airport right now and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”


I met Andy when I was 17.  I interviewed him for my high school paper.  Cheezy?  Yep.

Andy and me first photo


We were perfectly suited for each other, but he had a wandering eye.  Two years after we started dating, I found he’d been cheating on me.  We broke up.  We got back together after a while when I found he was still seeing her.  I was done.  We were still friendly, and for several years we carried on while he carried on.  I finally cut it off when I met someone else.  But he’d send cards and tapes – I’d ignore them.  But I missed him.  When my new boyfriend and I broke up, I wrote Andy a letter telling him everything he did that hurt me or pissed me off, and when he got it, he called.  


Andy and me 1979


We were on the phone for 8 hours, and a month later, I moved to Los Angeles.
Basically, that’s how it was for 35 years.  When I lived in L.A., we were never apart for long.  We just liked each other.  But he was still the same.  It’s hard to explain, but it worked for us.  

us

I threw some things into a suitcase and called my neighbor.  I asked her to take me to the airport, which she did, and to keep an eye on my mom and brother while I was gone.


Andy and I had spoken every night that week, several hours at a time.  The night before, he had asked me to come back when he got out of the hospital.  He was going to sell his house and he wanted me to pick out a house in Ventura.  He wanted us to be together. I agreed.

Andy Rush May 14-0026
I was at the gate having just got on the list for standby when I got the call.  It was the doctor.

“Are you in a place where you can sit down?”

“Just tell me.”

“Is anyone close to you with you?”

“Please, just tell me.  I’m at the gate waiting for the plane to board.”

“He’s not unconscious, he’s brain dead. I’m so sorry.”

As I fell to my knees, she explained that the nurses had gotten him up from his bed to start physical therapy for his back when Andy said “my chest hurts” and dropped to the floor.  It wasn’t a clot, it wasn’t his mitral valve, it was an “electrical” heart attack.

The odds of surviving a sudden death heart attack are very slim – a three minute window to restart the heart. They worked on Andy for 45 minutes.  Because they did everything, blood thinners to break clots, CPR that broke every bone in his chest, broken trachea, tubes from his head to his groin, his brain had hemorrhaged. On both sides.

I arrived at the hospital and when led to his room I barely recognized him.  And then I saw his hands.  I’d know them anywhere.  I told them to remove all of the equipment as there was no way he was going to recover.

For 21 hours, I sat with him, holding his hand for hours, playing our music and talking to him.  He took his last breath with his face in my hands.  He had turned 60 three months before.
andys hands 1

He had cheated on me again – by leaving before he should.

Friday, February 7, 2014

An Update

Hey ya'll...

Sorry I haven't done much but read your blogs, but I wanted to say thank you for the enjoyment you give me.

You see, my mother is now in hospice.  She has congestive heart failure and she's not doing well.  As you know, I have a brother with Alzheimer's, so it's been a challenge from the start.

Thankfully, we have a wonderful hospice nurse (the same one that led my father out of this world) and a lovely lady that makes my mom all sparkly clean three times a week.

I'm there every evening to make dinner, throw some laundry in, clean floors and chat up mom.  Clynt is doing the hard duty of just being there all day.  Thankfully,  with early-onset Alz, he forgets most of it!! 

Please know that your blogs bring needed joy in my life and that I think of you all every day.

love,
Barbara

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's the Little Things

Mom and dad are pretty psyched.

They just remodeled the kitchen and got all matchy-matchy on the appliances.

You see,  Frigidaire sold them on the idea of making the kitchen the "happy hub" of their home.  "Just start with one appliance" says Frigidaire, "then add..."

Soon with Helen and Bob, it became all consuming.  You see, they really wanted that hub where they could see each other at all times.  The "kitchen ideas" of "harmonizing" were just too hard to resist.

Now that they've fulfilled the dream of having all of their appliances match, they are going to take a class on how to actually use them together.  See, Bob is pouring an iced tea from the freezer, Helen is baking something (see counter) but is putting it in the dryer and COULD SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE THE BABY A TOY?  Nothing like a little "here are some toys, but we'll put you in this contraption so you can't reach any and we'll ignore you while you cry".

Bob and Helen enjoy their new appliances.  Just not each other.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back By Some Sort of Popular Demand

*********
Okay, I was feeling sorry for myself.
I'm back.
You may throw tomatoes.
*********

What you are about to read is true.

Guys don't make passes at girls with fat asses.


Seriously, we mean it.

Or poochie tummies or thunder thighs.  Men prefer women to be delicate little creatures, with no heartiness to them at all.

You see, should you be able to mow the back 40, or tend the oxen while furring the rows, you will be completely and utterly unattractive to the male being.  Those kind of "women" work on farms and raise our food.  You do NOT want to be one of "those" kind of women.

And get rid of those glasses, for heaven's sake!  They don't make passes at girls that wear glasses either!

Men prefer that you stretch, bend or improve your bosom and your "leisure class bulges".  Because he wouldn't marry a woman without money either!  So make sure you have an ample dowry too.  What's that old saying - it's as easy to marry a rich girl than a poor one?  Yeah, he's looking for that.

They have this equipment at Pretty Body, and you KNOW you want to use it, because nothing says "small ass" like Toastmaster!



Honestly, you are there to be an ornament, nothing more.  You are a vessel for his entertainment, and that alone should be enough for you.

When you're lounging at home, make sure you have this on (but of course, not when he's anywhere around.


Why, you really shouldn't be doing anything other than pointing to a dress (DON'T speak, for goodness sake!) and making an affirmative motion with your face (must be pretty and slim) only, and let the hired help fetch that for you.

Being thin and beautiful is EVERYTHING.  

EVERYTHING.


Now, doesn't it make you feel good to know that Pretty Body is now an empty, abandoned wig store?  I'll bet it does.

I'm off for a hot fudge sundae.  Any takers? 



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