Uncle

Sep. 3rd, 2010 08:56 pm
wlotus: (Sad Angel)
Dear Uncle Alvan,

You name has popped up several times today on Facebook. I was just editing my email contact list, and your name popped up there. Each time I saw your name I felt shocked.

You aren't supposed to be dead.

I feel like I should put "dead" in quotes, because I don't feel like your essence has been snuffed out of all existence. I don't have concrete evidence I can present in a court of law to prove you are still in existence somewhere (just not here). But the idea of your essence no longer existing is as ridiculous to me as the idea that my parents are not really my parents: while I am sure there is some statistical probability of it being true, that probability is very, very small.

Anyway, I am thinking of you. I am horrified by the way your body was discovered...though, to be honest, I think I would have been more horrified had you slowly wasted away in a hospital. I am shocked by the empty space in my family that you used to occupy. We didn't talk or email often. We rarely saw one another. But I knew you were out there in the flesh, and that was good enough for me. I am still having trouble grasping the fact that you no longer are.

I hope you are at peace. I tend to believe you are; the idea that you would not be also seems ridiculous to me.

Thanks for the record collection. I know you didn't give it to me or explicitly leave it for me, but I feel like I ought to thank you anyway, because your care of it over the years is why I am able to enjoy it, now. I've nearly alphabetized the entire thing. I'm pretty sure you had the albums alphabetized, too, but I am also sure you understand why it was more important to get them out of there as quickly as possible than to worry about keeping them in order. I've listened to a lot of them, though nowhere near half of them. I've been saying, "I didn't know XYZ is the one who recorded this!" and, "I had no idea the version I first heard in the 90s/00s was originally done by XYZ!" a lot. I haven't listened to any albums in a couple of weeks, though. I've been avoiding them. I've been overwhelmed by the reason I have them in the first place. But don't worry: I'll eventually get back to listening to them. I just need some time.

And hey, I got your message that day. You know the one. I really needed to hear that. I don't do it, anymore. I know you'd be pleased.

Love,
Me
wlotus: (Doodlebug)
Originally posted to [livejournal.com profile] fortysomething...

When I was in ninth grade, I cashed in a $50 savings bond to do Christmas shopping and was dismayed to receive just over $25 for it. (I'd only had it a year and didn't understand how savings bonds worked.) When I told my dad and told him the name of the banker who had "cheated" me out of my $50, he took the money and said he'd take care of it. The next day he handed me $50. I imagined him confronting the banker for "cheating" his daughter. He was my hero.

Years later, when I understood how savings bonds worked, I realized he had simply given me $50 of his own money to make up for sending me to the bank unaware the savings bond was only worth just over $25. Again, he was my hero.

Years after that, someone who knew about the incident (but didn't know I'd long figured out what Dad had done) scoffed, "You thought your father was a hero, but he just gave you his own money to make up for it. He didn't do anything big." Their statement made me feel sorry for them. That person must have been horribly unhappy and bitter in their own heart to try to destroy a daughter's admiration for her own father.
wlotus: (pink lotus)
Early yesterday afternoon the limo picked the seven of us up from my mom's apartment complex and carried us to Rosedale Crematory. We did not see the cremation; that will be done later this weekend, I'm told. We gathered in the chapel for a simple memorial service in honor of Uncle Alvan.

I was taken aback by the white, cardboard box at the front of the chapel. It seemed far too flat to contain my uncle, who always seemed larger-than-life to me.

The minister said a few words of comfort; he spoke no more than five minutes. My remaining uncle reminisced about his brother and his shock when Mom called him with the news last Saturday. (Has it been only a week? It seems like a lifetime ago.) The undertaker sang one of Uncle Alvan's favorite gospel songs. And that was that. Any longer or any more elaborate, and Uncle Alvan may have made a repeat appearance to ask why we were making such a fuss. :-) That's the kind of person he was.

I like what the minister said. He said we have a hard time letting go, because we associate the person with the body he knew and loved us through. But the inevitable course of things means eventually the body returns to its natural elements. I felt a little better when he said that. Uncle Alvan as I knew him has returned to the collective consciousness. I had been feeling horrified at the thought of him in that box, but that wasn't him in the box...thank goodness.

The undertaker gave us each a white carnation, then began to lead us out of the chapel. T and I were at the back. "Is the box cardboard?" I asked the undertaker. He said it was. "May I write on it?"

"Of course," he immediately assured me. I took a pen and carefully wrote a message on the foot of the lid. [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight and her mom came back to the chapel to see why I hadn't come out with the rest of the family, and when they saw what I had done, they wrote messages, too. Whomever handles that box for the cremation will know my uncle was well loved.

My last message in honor of Uncle Alvan.


I appreciate every message of support over the past week. It has helped.
wlotus: (Photography II)
Me and Aunt Z
Aunt Z and Me
28 November 2009


Me and one of my father's aunts. There is more than a slight resemblance between me and my father's people.
wlotus: (Photography)
Family portrait, Christmas 2006
Aunt Mo (seated), my grandmother (Aunt Mo's younger sister), and me.
Christmas 2006 at Concord Nursing Home.
wlotus: (pink lotus)
Like any other loving parent, [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight wants to protect The Teen from embarrassment. Until now, that has meant riding his back and mapping his school projects out for him, since he had no interest in doing the work himself. She did not want to see him fail. She did not want to see him humiliated in front of his peers. Now, though, she has decided it is more important that she not see him continue being lazy with no consequences.

This morning The Teen had a science project due for the school's science fair. He put little or no effort into thinking up a project, let alone carrying out one. As difficult as it was, [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight stepped back. She did not lecture. She did not nag. She did not search for ideas. She did not map out what needed to be done. He did not ask for help, so she did not offer any or ask about his (nonexistent) progress. All she did was warn him a science project cannot be done in one day and let him know he would go to school the day of the science fair, come hell or high water. Furthermore, she would walk him into the school, to make sure his project did not get "lost" on the way.

This morning at 5 she found him asleep in front of the computer. He had stayed up all night trying to do a last-minute science project. She left him there and went back to bed until it was time for him to start getting ready.

On the way out the door, she asked where his presentation board was. He had left it in his room. "How much did you get done?" she asked. "Nothing," was his reply. "Then that is what you are submitting to your teacher," she stated. She ignored the temptation to shield him, made him go back for it, and had him carry the blank board with him all the way to school. She escorted him to the schoolhouse doors, made sure he headed towards his classroom, then left until time to view the fair.

When she returned, the principal met her at the door. "I already sent him back to his class," she said. The science project is a significant part of the eighth grade requirements, and by not completing it, he is in danger of not graduating. So, here is how the law has been laid down. The Teen has to come up with a project idea, which his science teacher must approve. When his project is complete, the principal must approve it. If she approves and he meets his other graduation requirements, he graduates. If she does not approve, he does not graduate. ([livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight has already told him that if he does not graduate, she will pay for him to repeat eighth grade right there with this year's seventh graders.) [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight (and T and I) is in full agreement and will accept whatever decision the school makes.

To say The Teen was embarrassed to have been singled out in that way is probably an understatement. He has always counted on Mom being there to cover up his mess and save him from embarrassment, but not this time.

I know from watching some of my adult friends struggle with unnecessary drama how difficult it is to step back and watch someone you love suffer consequences of their own making. I can't imagine how much more difficult it is to watch your child go through something like that. But [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight did, and I am very proud of her for it.
wlotus: (Happy)
Mom received her matted, ready-to-hang photos. Mom loves her photos. My day has been made!

Circa 1971

Feb. 25th, 2009 02:15 pm
wlotus: (Photography)
I inherited my late Aunt Mo's shutterbug gene. Here is a photo she took of me at the playground when I was about two years old.

wlotus about two years old
wlotus: (Eyes Wide Open)

The Teen ended the 7th grade with a grade point average of 86.14. Other than the 70 in English (down from an 85 the previous marking period, and entirely out of line with his 710/790 standardized test score), the academic grades aren't news. His effort and conduct grades, however, are:

English: Effort Needs Improvement
Math: Takes too long to settle down to work
Technology: Needs Improvement



The Teen is suffering from a viewpoint that has always been foreign to me with regards to schoolwork, but seems to be common amongst other teens: homework is either optional or a necessary evil to be rushed through with the minimal effort necessary to say, "I did it." Furthermore, socializing in class is perfectly acceptable. Lying about one's behavior and whether one has finished one's homework is also the order of the day.

[livejournal.com profile] labryrinthnight and I are not impressed. That is not how he's being raised. In fact, she is SO not impressed that she has pulled him out of that school (which was his first choice for a middle school), away from all of his friends, and enrolled him in a Catholic school for 8th grade. That means uniforms. That also means the mohawk has got to go.

The Teen is not impressed. His mother and I, however, are thrilled. Our hope is the more traditional academic environment will instill more discipline in him. Up until this point, he has been able to shuck nearly everything his mother has instilled in him with regards to work as soon as he leaves the house and arrives at school; at school, punishments are threatened, but rarely carried out, and teachers have allowed undone classwork to slide, because they are tired of pushing him to do it. The principle at the Catholic school claims that is not how she runs her ship, and she was appalled at the difference between his standardized test scores and his progress report card. We hope she lives up to her word.

wlotus: (Peaceful)

After over a week of anticipation, [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight, The Teen, and I packed my car and headed to Hempstead State Park for [livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight's first solo barbeque. We spent over eight hours eating, reading, listening to music, and chatting in the beautiful weather. She did a wonderful job at the grill!

BBQ 24 May 2008

wlotus: (Default)

[livejournal.com profile] labyrinthnight and I talked to Dad, and he sounds much more like himself. In addition to being fully alert, he's not in much pain and is doing his physical therapy. He says while he still isn't quite himself, he feels a lot better. That made my evening.

This morning I gave myself a pedicure. I now have feet almost as smooth as a baby's bottom, and my neatly trimmed toenails are painted burgundy. ::wiggles toes::

This afternoon, after school, I hung out with the radiant [livejournal.com profile] onceupon! We were both tired and wet and chilly, so we found a spot in the library and chatted for awhile. Phooey on rainstorms that keep us from having picture-fests outdoors. She has agreed to take the rain back to FL with her. :-)


[livejournal.com profile] onceupon, in the NYPL!

I've been taking pictures this week as though picture-taking is going out of style. I have a good excuse, though (as though I need one): I'm working on my first homework assignment for my photography course, which began Tuesday night. Every day I leave home feeling like I'm on a photographic treasure hunt. And sometimes I don't even have to leave the house to find a gem.


Reach Out
16 May 2008

Tomorrow at noon is the NYC Dance Parade. I hope it doesn't get rained out; I plan to be there with a fellow photographer. Perhaps I'll get more images I can use for my homework assignment.

wlotus: (Aum)

Reposted from Through the Eyes of A Lotus...

I spent last week becoming far more familiar with the Durham VA Medical Center than I ever wanted to be. On 5 May my father underwent a triple bypass, and I was there every day as he began the road to recovery. I was able to observe the stellar care the medical staff there gives to the brave women and men who have served our country. Everyone I encountered was pleasant and professional, and I thanked them over and over for everything they did for my father and me.

11-17 May is National Hospital Week. No one I know wants to go into the hospital, but if we go, the hard-working staff is what makes the stay better than it would otherwise be. If you or someone you love is or has recently been in the hospital, take the time to let the staff know you appreciate their dedication.


Duke University Hospital (across the street from the Durham VAMC)

wlotus: (Happy)

Medically and surgically, there isn't a thing wrong with Dad that would cause him to be as lethargic as he's been. The bottom line is he's too happy to be passive. He's been sedentary as long as I've known him. In order for him to rehabilitate himself, someone needs to ride him like a mule, or he will lay in bed and sleep all day every day, even through meals.

Fortunately, his girlfriend proved herself up for the task. :-) She descended upon his hospital room like a whirlwind, threatening to turn the bed over, if he didn't wake up and start eating right now, this instant. By the time I left for the airport, he was alertly sitting up in bed and eating, albeit in pain. (I like her; I made sure to get her contact information before I left.)

He'll be alright.

So will I, for I am on my way home!!!!!!

Dad's Okay

May. 9th, 2008 11:55 am
wlotus: (Peaceful)
I spoke to a nurse this morning, and she says his fatigue is not due to the surgery or any meds; all of his vitals and bloodwork have been normal. She said it is most likely a combination of the dialysis and his body trying to recover from all it's been through. This morning I asked him how he felt, and he chuckled and said he felt like he'd been run over by a truck. :-)

Yeah, he's fine.
wlotus: (Heart's Desire)

I hope Dad's exhaustion and almost constant sleeping is a normal part of the healing process. He's been mostly out of it ever since they brought him up to a regular ward yesterday afternoon. Between the dialysis--I am told that wears you out until your body gets used to it--and this being only the second day he's been asked to get out of bed for things like going to the bathroom, I guess it's normal. But if he isn't more alert tomorrow, I am going to say something to his nurses. The nurse I met this evening just assumed he is always incoherent and barely alert, until I told her he wasn't that way before he came upstairs.

I've been thoroughly impressed with the nursing staff, and I've been sure to tell them so. They are kind as well as competent, and that's been a great comfort to me.

wlotus: (Happy)
Dad came through the surgery just fine and is resting comfortably. :-)

He's still under sedation and will be for a little while. Because his kidney function is greatly compromised, it takes longer for the meds to get filtered out of his system than it would for a person with healthy kidneys. (They don't know that his kidneys will recover, but they are keeping their fingers crossed. He'll need dialysis for the forseeable future, though.) He'll be on the ventilator until he wakes up, then they can begin weaning him off it. The nurse said that may take only a few hours. But overall, the staff is pleased. There were no complications, so surgery took a little less than the minimum of four hours they told me to expect.

In another couple of hours I'll go back to ICU to see him, again.

Thank you for all of the thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming for a speedy recovery.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)

Dad's bypass surgery is scheduled for Monday. I am flying out just past noon on Sunday afternoon and will return home on Wednesday evening. My hotel is right across the street, and there are stores in walking distance, so I'll be quite comfy. There is also free, high-speed internet access in my hotel room, so I'll have plenty to keep me occupied in the evenings.

I guess I'll be there for Dad's 66th birthday (Sunday), after all. :-)

wlotus: (Aum)

Dad's infection is cleared up. The doctors intend to perform bypass surgery either tomorrow or Monday. In the meantime, he's been moved out of the cardiac unit, which is a sign his condition has improved. (At least, that is how I am interpreting it.)

Oh, and I'm taking my first MCSE certification exam tomorrow morning.

I haven't felt all that inspired to create in the past week, which is understandable under the circumstances. So, in the interest of happy thoughts and warm fuzzies, I present this photo of Enrique, whom I disturbed last night to photograph.

You know, I could get used to this concept of not living life isolated and alone. :-) I really appreciate all of the support I have received. Thank you.

wlotus: (Princess)

After we picked up [livejournal.com profile] edmaestro at home, we headed back to the highway. "They say God protects babies and fools," I commented as we pulled onto Rt. 1. "Now that we have [livejournal.com profile] edmaestro in the car, I know God will make sure we safely get to North Carolina!"

If looks could kill, the car would have crashed at that moment. I wonder why. :-)



Delaware, I Think
24 April 2008


wlotus: (Peaceful)
This evening I thought about the stories I have heard about Aunt Mo over the years. I realized that I have never once heard anyone suggest Aunt Mo's life was in any way tragic because she never married or had children. No one even painted her as a tragic figure due to her losing a leg! Instead, people spoke of how inspirational her life was, her adventurous spirit, how much she did for others, her sweet disposition, her active lifestyle, and most of all, how independent she was. Several people gave remarks at today's service about her fierce independence up until the point where she had to go into a nursing home. (Even then, she chafed at being wheelchair-bound and would often say she wanted to get out of there.)

I have always feared people would look at me as a tragic figure, no matter what I accomplish in life, because I remain unmarried and childless. (Truth be told, I looked at myself as a tragic figure, regardless of how others looked at me.) After today, I am not afraid of that, anymore. Instead, I am excited about following in Aunt Mo's footsteps as an adventurer, photographer, and independent spirit.

Thanks for inspiring me, Aunt Mo. I'll carry the baton with pride.

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