My Inner Worlds
Today my mother enters a new year, and I’d like to say a new beginning. But for her that won’t happen. Mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimers was officially made over three years ago, but her mental ability declined well before the doctor’s announcement. I remember a family gathering the summer of 2013 when I knew my mother was no longer inhabiting the body of the woman standing before me. I shared a sip of my beer with her as we made small talk in the kitchen. She almost fell backward..from one sip. My mind whispered, “This isn’t Mom. This is some sweet old lady, and Mom is gone.”
I love my mom. We didn’t always agree, but I’d say a lot of parents and children experience that phenomenon. The kids in my church and neighborhood adored her. Mom nurtured those who lacked a stable home, she fed the hungry and was known for her homemade chocolate chip cookies, and she played the piano every single year in the local elementary school so kids would have a music education. Many of my teachers from second grade through senior year of high school told Mom she was amazing and how they wished more parents were as involved as she was. Each of those teachers had a Webb child in their class almost every year for six years (we have a big family).
As a gift to Mom, who can no longer remember, I would like to share the incredibly selfless things she did for me as I grew up in a home with seven children.
First of all, I was born at home and Mom almost died. She presented the scissors used to cut my umbilical cord on each of my birthdays, sometimes getting quite emotional. When she was pregnant with me, she just knew she was carrying a little Sarah and named me before she and Dad knew my gender.
When I was 15, I got sick. We didn’t go to doctors for religious reasons, and I experienced illness for a year before it became a fad in my church to see a homeopathic doctor who treated our minister’s deathly-ill little girl. Dad and Mom drove me the two hours to his mountain office and our lives changed. My treatment, besides taking mega vitamins and homeopathic remedies, included a drastic change to my eating. No sugar, no caffeine, no wheat, no dairy, with several fruits and vegetables taken off the approved dietary plan. Mom prepared special meals for me for an entire year without complaining. She already cooked and baked everything from scratch for the family, now she cooked and baked twice per meal because her Budgie was not well. (She also gave me a nickname early in my life, and it’s stuck in our family’s lingo.)
When I was 17, I got sick again. Repeat the above paragraph. When I was 19…yep, you guessed it. Sick. This time, though, the dietary changes were extreme. Fresh juice for every meal and snack for six out of seven days. My mom became a juicing machine. She scoured all the grocery stores for fruits and vegetables in a time when juicing wasn’t popular. Her budget was limited, and eating a fresh foods diet strained the family resources. I felt bad for the added expense, but somehow Mom made it all happen.
Now that I’m once again changing my eating choices due to a desire for a healthier body and for ethical considerations, I am appalled at all the work I face in making my meals. I’m having to consider what to cut out of my life so I can have time to cook, and go to yoga, and write, oh yeah…and work the day job. The love that will probably dwindle into fond memories is reading, a pastime that has served me since my awkward teen years when a story was more comfortable than socializing. Mom didn’t have the luxury of reading until most of the kids left for college. Then she became a voracious reader, keeping reams of notes on her favorite epic fantasy series because the plots and characters became too intertwined for even the author to track without an assistant. I think somewhere my dad still has those notes.
I wish I could juice Mom back to health and well-being, as she did for me years ago. Instead, I’ll keep the memories alive until I no longer can.
Happy birthday, Mom.
Eclipse week has been intense for me, thus no new work for the site. I’m writing my longest post yet and will publish it on Tuesday (Aug 29). It’s been cooking for over a month now and is in honor of a special lady who won’t be able to read or appreciate it.
Until then, enjoy a photo taken as I arrived home from work to see happy neighborhood geese enjoying the shade of our crepe myrtle.
Two weeks ago today our sweet Gypsy scared Matt and me (well, maybe just me, but Matt played along). Our pack walk around the neighborhood ended as normal in our front yard, with Gypsy walking between the two rose bushes, sniffing the scent of the bunnies who love to nibble grass in the cool shade. She leaped in the air and afterwards wouldn’t put down her hind leg. Trying to determine what’s wrong with an animal is similar to diagnosing an infant—little to no communication ability. I only knew she was hurt, but not how.
Matt held Gypsy while we looked for a splinter in her paw, and finding none, we palpated the paw to see if she reacted to a potential break. Matt’s a pretty wise man and suggested we let her rest and see how she felt later. “Mom” isn’t wise when it comes to her fur babies and knew she couldn’t rest while Gypsy hid in a corner licking her paw and looking pitiful. Matt didn’t even roll his eyes when I searched my iPhone for the nearest emergency clinic and found one not too far from my yoga studio. I took it as a sign.
Quail Corners Animal Hospital quickly answered their phone and told me to bring Gypsy right in. We didn’t have to wait to be shown into an exam room, so we had privacy for Gypsy as she fretted at being in a vet’s office. Oddly, she seemed able to use her back paw as she tried time and again to jump onto my lap while we waited. The doctor had to see the other unfortunate pets who arrived before us.
Dr. Jarchow introduced herself as a nerd—Matt and I both wear geeky t-shirts, and she recognized kindred spirits. She diagnosed a severely stubbed toe for poor Gypsy, who seemed to already be feeling better. Gypsy got an anti-inflammatory shot to help with the swelling, along with a shot of Cheez Whiz as a treat. I’m sure the “severe” in the diagnosis was for my benefit since we’d already told her Matt wanted to take the wait-and-see approach. I’d have felt bad if we’d taken Gypsy to the emergency room for a regular stubbed toe. But knowing it was severe made the difference when I shelled out $174.
While we drove home and the happy dog shed all over my car’s interior, Matt and I discussed the two other times we had used an emergency vet, the times when our dogs' lives were saved by the medical care available during non-business hours. One was for Asia, our adorable second-born who is no longer with us. We were told that Asia would have died overnight if we hadn’t taken her in for treatment of a terrible canine virus that had been going around. The second time was for baby Tia (she’s ten, but will always be our baby). Tia had bronchitis and wouldn’t have died overnight, but was in critical shape. She is the one of our three current dogs who has an enormous file at our normal vet’s office—many health issues that I don’t hesitate to take her in for.
Do I overdo it? Yes. Do I care? Not at all. These animals are my children, my friends, and my snuggle buddies. Since they can’t communicate their pain level to me, I have to make that call for them. I choose to be lenient and liberal in my interpretation of what they need. Which is also the reason I’m not allowed to feed them. Since Matt took over their portion sizes, they have all lost a lot of weight and are healthier for it. Tia’s issues and vet visits have decreased since she’s taken off the excess pounds. They still act hungry and underfed around me, but Matt’s right. I’ve hardened my heart and have stayed out of meal decisions for our dogs’ own good.
Kelley Armstrong releases Rituals tomorrow, her fifth book in the Cainsville series. I have read all four previous books multiple times, fascinated by this alternate world living side-by-side present day Chicago. Currently I’m finishing a re-read of Betrayals, the fourth book, since it will get me back into the story for maximum enjoyment of the evolving tale of Olivia Taylor-Jones. I’m not a book blogger, so you can read more about the series storyline on Kelley’s website.
I enjoy books about strong women who do actual work in a realistic world. Authors who can detail a bit of the heroine’s work day grab my attention in a way that satisfies my CPA mind while feeding the fantasy- and magic-loving parts of me. I’ve read almost all of Kelley’s many books and enjoyed each one. Some are true fantasy, some are YA, and others are set in the Canadian Yukon with no magic at all. Her writing and character development are compelling and keep me buying her latest.
If you’re looking for a good series, I recommend picking up a copy of Omens and starting your journey into Cainsville. You won’t regret it.