Vale Papa

body of water between green leaf trees
Photo by Ian Turnell on Pexels.com

My Dad peacefully passed away at home on Thursday the 9th of December 2021.

Words will never explain my feelings towards my extraordinary Dad. As a young person I firmly believed that by the time my Dad would be old enough to die, they would have invented a cure for death. Here we are many many years later, and no such cure has been invented.

He did it his way in the end, which was waiting for us to not be in the room with him. I’d been there with him almost every minute of the preceding 6 days since he was placed into palliative care, sleeping just one room away with my subconscious tuned into his every breath. Not going to lie there wasn’t a lot of sleep had and the quality of it wasn’t great, but what Dad needed was more important than what I needed at that time.

I had gone with the other half to get his daily scripts of morphine and another drug they use – usually either Mum or The Other Half would go. As the weekend was coming up and we’d had some trouble sourcing these drugs from our usual chemists the doctor had ordered enough for the weekend and we finally had found a pharmacy that tends to stock plenty of them given they supply all the local nursing homes.

While we were gone Mum had gone upstairs to send some emails. When she came back down he was not breathing anymore. She called The Other Half kind of in a panic saying she thought Dad was gone – I was just coming out the door of the shopping centre so The Other Half motioned and yelled out the car window that I should hurry.

We got back home to discover Mum was right. The geriatrician had been right about a fast decline. But Dad had also been right too – it was just a forgotten thing at that moment. It wasn’t until my Adelaide family arrived for the funeral that my Aunt reminded me..

On the 29th of October after the geriatrician sat Dad down to tell him the diagnosis, we came back here and sat out in the nirvana to have coffee. Dad called his sister (my aunt) and said “they’ve given me six weeks to live”. My sister and I looked at each other quizzically – no time frames had been mentioned and the geriatrician had been very specific with us about that – saying she couldn’t say how long it would be but that she thought it would be rapid.

Dad passed away exactly 5 weeks and 6 days later.

Many people find death scary but something that I have learned as part of this process is that I am not one of those people.

It might not sound right to anyone else but I was really happy for Dad. When his body had let him down nearly ten years beforehand, he coped very well with that. He did not cope at all well when his mind chose to let him down. Watching him go through this constant confusion and agitation and distress was hard for us all.

The hardest moment for me during this time was when I had to leave Dad in the dementia unit that first day. He just wanted to go home. I just wanted to take him home. So when it came to palliative care I was determined it would be at home as he would have wanted it to be. Mum was not so sure to begin with but now she is convinced it was the right and best thing for us to do. I am so glad we chose it, not only was he comfortable in his own home but we were able to be comfortable there and we could be with him 24/7 which would not have been possible in hospital.

Two things really helped me through this time. The first is going to sound quite crazy but it was a TV show I discovered earlier this year called The Casketeers. This is a TV show about a funeral home in New Zealand. The traditions they have around death are far more beautiful than ours – our traditions tend to keep death at arms length. One of their traditions is to dress the body and thanks to having seen that, I chose to do that for Dad.

The other thing was a book I was reading in the week Dad was in the geriatric unit called “Smoke gets in your eyes” by Caitlin Doughty. On Amazon it says of this book – “Exploring our death rituals – and those of other cultures – she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying.” – it really helped me with my attitude to all that was happening.

On returning home to find Dad had made his departure, we sat with him while we waited for the palliative care nurse to attend and issue us the required paperwork. We sat with him while we waited for the funeral home to arrive and collect him.

While we’d been waiting I realised letting him leave the house was going to be the hardest and most emotional moment for me, but I need not have feared.

The wonderful team who arrived read the room perfectly and when I said “do you want us to leave the room while you do what you need to do” – they said of course not, you have been caring for him, you can help us if you want. They made me a part of the process of his leaving the house. I even got to wheel him out on the stretcher and load him into the van. I can’t tell you how much being a part of that meant to me. Thus I did not lose it as I had expected I would.

There certainly have been tears during this time. I’m sad for my Dad who worked so hard for so many years and retired too late to enjoy what he had earned and travel as he wanted to. Covid kicked off the month after they retired so the world cruise, trips to Hawaii and Italy did not happen.

My Dad was always there for me whenever I needed him and this year I have been able to return that favour to him. He would be tremendously proud of how strong I was for him. I am still shocked at it myself. Dad taught me so much about myself during this time and I won’t ever be quite the same, but in a good way.

I am concerned there is going to come a day when I fall in a heap but I’m learning that for me grief is not really quite like that. It is the small moments when I least expect it – when I went to Aldi and saw someone wearing a similar pair of shoes to Dad’s – when the airconditioner at our hotel didn’t work and I thought I’ll call Dad, he’ll know how to fix it before realising I can’t call Dad. I can never call Dad again.

I will leave you with this thought from the speech I gave at his funeral, which was honestly the best funeral I have ever been to and a fitting send off for Dad with over 100 people attending and many more watching online.

At the end right before he entered palliative care Dad became very impatient. He would say Let’s go, let’s go. What do we do now? What’s next?

What would he want me (us) to do next? Dad’s biggest regret was that he didn’t travel while he could have. He could have taken holidays or time off from work. He could have asked someone else to step up to the plate and be the reliable one for a while. That thing you have always wanted to do but kept putting off – stop doing that to yourself. Take the holidays you are entitled to. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Seize the day. All that stuff from the Dead Poets Society movie – but this time, let us all actually DO IT.

Because they are not inventing a cure for death, friends.

aerial photography of water beside forest during golden hour
Photo by Sindre Strøm on Pexels.com

family, Uncategorized

I should be doing a million other things but..

instead I would like to sit here and update you on the goings on. How did this begin? Back in March 2021, I talked with my sister as my parents flat out refused to go to the doctor at all, for anything. I was worried about Dad as he’d started to have some memory issues and to be fair I was convinced these issues were related to his not having the vitamin B shots he was supposed to have regularly.

So my sister and my nephew came down for a visit and we took Dad to the doctor and he passed the memory test. We got him a blood test which showed he was low in vitamin b as expected, so we got that shot done and expected there to be an improvement, which there kinda sorta was, for a short time. And luckily he now had a new doctor who was quite good at keeping them coming back for other things so he could monitor what was going on.

As the months went by there was quite a bit of sudden weight loss – 16kg in total – which concerned the doctor so he sent Dad for more tests, and to a dietician, and then one night I got a phone call from Dad about 10:15pm where he was telling me there was this strange woman in the house trying to steal his phone. He seemed super agitated and I wasn’t quite sure what the deal was so The Other Half and I went over there.

Dad was convinced that Mum was.. not Mum. This person looked like Mum and spoke like Mum but was most definitely Not Mum, according to him. I called his doctor the next day and did a telehealth appointment and that got us on the road to finding the most awesome geriatrician – she is wonderful. She ordered a new battery of tests one of which was the MRI which got us to a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia with a side of Capgras delusion, which is essentially –

Capgras delusion is a psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member (or pet) has been replaced by an identical impostor.

So that diagnosis was a few weeks ago and ever since I’ve had to be the circuit breaker between Mum and Dad, I’ve had to spend the majority of my time over there. We’ve had a team of folks put into place to help us most notably being the older persons mental health care team.

We were told the decline would be fast from here and it has been very fast. There are a few motor disorders which tend to come with this and we’ve had issues with his swallowing, sometimes things go down the wrong way.

We also got a bit of reduplicative paramnesia which kept telling Dad he was not at home when he was. The easiest way to solve that was to put him in the car, drive him around the block, and then get him to direct us back home.

Mum has really struggled with all of this, and last Tuesday she couldn’t cope anymore. We ended up in hospital, and then Dad was sent to a secure dementia unit to see if we could adjust his medications somewhat and whether maybe his delusions might lessen in a different place. Also they wanted Mum to get a decent break because it has been 24/7 for her for weeks now. So she was banned from going to see him for a couple of days and that meant it was all me.

Lucky for me one of my customers was the first nurse I saw when I entered the unit and she really made my first day so much easier. She also got the visiting times waived for me so I could go in whenever I was able to, and I’ve spent about five hours each day there this last week, I took Mum in for her first visit and now we are alternating visits.

Lucky for us he did not have any capgras with her while I was there and she’s been in for another visit on her own since without any such incidents. It might have helped that I told him the unit was secure and “mother 2” as he calls her is not allowed in.

Where do we go from here? I really am not sure. We have family from Adelaide coming up for a visit next week and we hope he can come back home for that time.

We have managed at the moment to stabilise his weight due in large part to me constantly presenting food to him plus my awesome packed with nutrients protein shakes.

Work has become last priority at the moment which is not great for work but it is necessary just now. We need to do what we need to do.

So now I’ll go take a shower as I’ve had a lazy morning in my jammies writing this post, drinking my coffee and relaxing for the first time in ages. Then I’ll put in a couple of hours work before I head in to visit Dad at 4pm.

family

So Much Happening

Half of it I can’t talk about here, and the other half I haven’t had the time or energy to talk about here. So let us go back in time to Christmas Day. After just one year of hosting Christmas, The Other Half and I have this down to a fine art and really do not need to do much food preparation at all, just putting out nibblies, cooking a BBQ with steaks and sausages, and Mother provides the dessert of Pavlova.

Only this year I had gone on a Christmas Shopping expedition to The Treat Factory and found out they were making gelato logs. What a fantastic idea. I ordered one in dark chocolate and salted caramel. It was fabulous and we had leftovers which we have greatly enjoyed on all the hot evenings since.

I did mostly forget to take photos, we were having too good a time really. It was lovely to be still and enjoy each others company. However I knew it was back to work the next morning, so it was a little less relaxing than usual.

I worked on Boxing Day, not a long shift. I gave a Christmas present to a fellow co-worker and they told me it was the only present they had to open on Christmas Morning, which also made me a little sad – but extra happy I went to the effort to get something for them. I remember many years of having nothing to open, which is why I go to an extra effort now to make sure I do have things to open even if I bought them for myself.

I haven’t had a chance to write up the No Spend for both November and December – and not sure there is much point now we’re in a new year other than for the sake of completion. December was a spend month but mostly spending on presents for other people. I did have two things I wanted to buy in the Boxing Day Sales – Bras and Kiehl’s Moisturiser in the super large size.

I’ve worn the same 4 bras to work for 6 months now – these were the same 4 bras I’d been wearing for almost a year already – and while they are still semi-wearable, they were past their use-by date. I figured it would be a good idea to pick some up if they were on special. I’d bookmarked them in my browser. I hoped to buy them on super special on Boxing Day, but none of them moved in price at all, at least not online.

That is a really smart thing on the part of Bras N Things, to have an inhouse brand which you fit customers in and sell them but don’t ever discount, not even on the biggest sale day of the year. I thought maybe they might be on special in store or maybe there might be something else I could try on which was on special, so I suggested to The Other Half that he drop me off at the shops and I would go for a wander. I thought he wouldn’t want to go. Surprise, he did join me! Because it was mid-afternoon, the sales rush was over and we even managed to find a decent park.

There was a shopping incident where I thoroughly spoiled myself with new bras. I tried one on and it was so comfortable I gave it to the sales assistant and said “please can you go and find every bra like this in my size, I will take them all” – she found 7 in my size. Perfect! One for each day of the week, and I got two navy blue polkadot ones which I have officially allocated as work bras.

A few days later another family member needed bras so we went together and they had more in my size back out on the shelves – I bought 5 more because they were so comfortable and even cheaper on sale than they were the first time, because they added “spend $100 get $20 off” on top of the great sale prices and I had two $5 vouchers as well – one of which I gave to my family member..

I had not bought any bras at all since mid 2017 after my big weight loss, so I think I did pretty well. I wish I’d done it sooner because I did not realise how uncomfortable the old ones had become, and I got to a point where the minute I got in the house I would take them off – not anymore, now I am enjoying wearing these all day long, the same way I once did with the old bras.

I got my Kiehls for 15% off. Sometimes it is really handy to have signed up for the mailing list, as I was able to go back through the emails since September and realised 15% off is the best deal they’ve done in those three months. I still have 1/3 of the jar left from my Canberra shopping trip.

This new jar is 3x the size so I should get 9 months out of it at least. I’ve maybe missed two mornings since I bought it and on those missed days I can really tell that I missed applying it. I’m so glad I found this moisturiser and have to send another big thanks to Sydney Shop Girl for making me aware of this brand.

I bought a few things from my TVSN wishlist for crazy discounted prices, including this one I mentioned in my April did not buy post for $9.95 instead of $64.95, what a bargain! The material is so gorgeous. I’m glad they had it left in my size, I was not so lucky with some of the other items I wanted.

In other family news, my cousin and his wife have arrived for a long-ish visit. They are replacing a couple of staff on my parents side of the store, who had two staff members resign leading up to Christmas. Not sure if this will be temporary or long term. I’d not met his wife before but it turns out we are like twinsies and get along super well, plus she loves to walk which is great for me.

In blog news, at this stage I am not sure if and when I will return to regular posting. A few things are up in the air at work right now, and I’m waiting for things to settle before making any big decisions. I’ll try and get in one post a week but I’m just not making any promises because I don’t know my future schedule.

family, Home

Something I Bought In August

Above you see some of my rings which once fit me like a dream. In particular my favourite triangle Mystic Topaz. Thanks to protein shakes I am 25kg lighter but that also means many of my favourite rings no longer fit. I have one ring that used to fit on my pinky finger which now fits on my middle finger. Most of the rings I used to wear on my ring finger are too loose to wear.

I can still sometimes wear my Mystic Topaz on my middle finger but only if my hands are puffy from water retention. The green one seen above does not fit on any finger, even at my most puffy. For the most part I have no rings to wear and that is SO NOT ME.

In fact there was one occasion – the Take That concert, where I put a ring on right before leaving. Then once I got into the car, I realised I must have lost it in the process of getting into the car. We looked everywhere for that ring. I thought maybe it had fallen into one of my bags and I would find it when I unpacked.

When I got back home, I found it sitting on my dresser – I had decided it was too loose and took it off, then in the rush of getting out the door with all my stuff, I totally forgot about having that little conversation with myself in my head. If I am out in the world without a ring, I feel a bit strange.

I had intended to buy one at the start of 2019 at the end of the year of buying nothing, but out with my Aunt in Berry on the 13th of August, there was An Incident. An Opal Incident. It began with this ring –

I liked it and wanted to know more, but it did not fit me. In fact none of the rings in the entire cabinet fit me. The lady in the store said she had some not on display and she pulled out a box filled with rings – most of them did not fit me, but *one* did, and it turned out to be a very fiery gorgeous opal, which had many colours in it.

Greens, blues, reds, oranges, yellows.

It depends on the lighting which colours fire up.

The ring does have a flaw in it but for me that makes me love it more.

Sometimes you even get pinks, purples, and aqua. For me, one of the reasons I will treasure this ring was the time spent in the store with my Aunt choosing it. It was a special happy moment after trying on many rings to find one that actually fit me, too.

Our wanders to the shops always include a special lunch – on this day we chose croissants with smoked salmon, a poached egg and avocado and cucumber salsa from the Milkwood Bakery. Special time spent with a special person who we very nearly lost a few years ago. There really are no words for that.

family, jewellery

A Quick One

Adding just one Aunt to the mix can add in a LOT of unexpected events. The other day we both had the day off so we went out for a lovely 5km walk near Vincentia, then we ended up going into the nearest “big” town for crepes, shopping, and general wandering.

We had a chai latte with the crepes – the cafe had a gorgeous open fire – and we have since decided we will try as many chai lattes in the Shoalhaven as we can. We suspect the one we had may well be the best one we’ve both ever had, so it will take some beating. We both have today off, so who knows what kind of mischief we will get up to, or where we will end up. I suspect perhaps Berry, or maybe Milton or Ulladulla. We do have a plan to catch the train to Sydney at one point, more for the journey than the destination.

While we were in the “big” town, we ordered a carrot, orange and walnut cake for my Dad for his birthday, which was yesterday.

We’ve volunteered to hold a BBQ at ours yesterday so that the cake can be experienced by all. I have to tell you, my Mother is very Anti-Cake. If it were up to her there would not be one. I bought candles for a significant Dad birthday 9 years ago now, and she has never once let me buy a cake to put them on. It had been so long I thought I had lost them. I guess, lucky me that I did not buy numbers of any kind.

If I do manage to get these candles on a cake and lit, hopefully a photo will be added to the post here. If there is no photo, Mother won the battle and the candles remain in their carton, perhaps for another 9 years. I mean really, can’t we just set fire to these things for a short moment, so I can enjoy the coloured flames? YES WE CAN.

These are the most gorgeous candles ever, well worth the 9 year wait. Even Mother enjoyed them. The photos do not quite do them justice. Perhaps I will be allowed to cake and candle again sometime this century. :) If not I might print some of these photos and put them into frames, for posterity.

We are in the midst of a major decluttering at the moment – more about that another day – and I have a bunch of Avon which I used to sell some years back that I want to find new homes for. I just don’t wear makeup myself, not even the cool liquid eyeshadows. I had a lot of perfume samples left over some of which people in Australia for are really missing now that Avon has left Australia. Mother has been receiving Avon perfumes for some years now and using and enjoying them, so she left with almost all the full bottles I had left. Even the men at the table found things to take home in among my decluttering pile.

The cake was delicious. Three bottles of wine were consumed, considering Mother and I do not drink and The Other Half only drinks bourbon, the remaining four people were quite happy when they left, if a little wonky getting into the car to be driven home by the always sober Mother. A great night was had by all.

family

The Label Maker

I bought Mother a gift voucher to have her nails done for Mothers Day. She wasn’t sure about it – she thinks she is not a person who has their nails done. I used to think that, before I learned I am actually someone who likes to have their nails done.

With Mother it takes 5-10 years to convince her I am right about anything. Then she tries the thing I suggested, and raves about it constantly forever. I can give endless examples of this. My current favourite is putting a screen door on the house. I suggested it when they first bought the house which is over 10 years ago. They finally put a screen door on last year and now all you hear is how awesome it is.

I gave her the voucher and said think about it, if you don’t want to have them done you can give the voucher back and I will use it. The next time I saw her I asked if she had decided and she wanted to give the voucher back to me. Well now what present should I get you?

She told me about a reed diffuser which was given to her for Christmas that she really liked but she had no idea where to get it. I had been given the same one, so I did some googling and found it at Bed, Bath & Table. We do not have one of these stores nearby.

The Other Half was to go to Shellharbour (120km/75miles or so round trip) that next weekend to get potatoes. I was staying home, because he planned to drop in on his best friend who lives up that way and do man cave things. The conversation went like this –

Me : Could you pick up a present for Mother at Shellharbour.

Him : How about we go together on Sunday instead and you can get it.

Me : That would not fit in with my planned no-spend days.

Him : Well, your no spend days are going to be screwed up anyway because of Tuesday (Gruen filming). So suck it up.

Me : Why don’t YOU put your big man pants on and suck it up? Surely you can purchase an item from a store, it will be no different to buying the potatoes.

Him : Won’t I have to spend my money?

Me : I’ll transfer the amount across to you.

Him : How will I know what to buy?

Me : I have one right here, why don’t I put it on your desk so you can look at it?

Him : You have one right here, unopened? Why are we going to buy another one then?

Me : blank stare, total silence, pause, much laughter.

WHY INDEED. Why had this concept not even occurred to me? Was I so anti regifting that I could not even comprehend this?

I was given the exact same one by the same person, but we are still using the Tahitian Lime reed diffusers we got from Costco, so our gift has been sitting on the shelf waiting for those to run out. So I have an unopened one which I will now re-gift, *and* I have a nail voucher which I already bought, which means my next nail visit was a no-spend day. I am now officially a re-gifter.

If you are unfamiliar with the term regifter, here is a quick one minute rundown of the Seinfeld episode. Featuring a young and much less wrinkled Bryan Cranston.

I love how Elaine says the word, just the level of anger and spite there, it kills me every time. Elaine is my favourite Seinfeld character. Mother was very happy with her reed diffuser, and I saved $39.95.

Bonus gift, now Mother knows where she can buy them in the future. I fully expect she will go on a reed diffuser spree next time she is near that shop. Mother is like me, she likes to stock up on things she loves, especially when they are not easily purchased nearby.

Now if only she could become like me in knowing I am always right and trusting me when I say things. :) Hasn’t she learned by now, after my many stellar years of always being right?

family, Manicures

Moose Elk

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While I am on holidays, chances are I am taking photos and sending them to my parents with just one word underneath. This slightly blurry photo you see above came to me with the word “Moose” underneath it.

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Of course, it is not actually a moose. It is an Elk. This photo was much better.

Remember, Snoskred is on holiday at the moment. Comments are turned off.

family, Snoskred On Holidays