Mother: Being Locked Out From Your Loved One

I’ve started this post several times…
About dementia, about sudden changes, and each time I don’t get far
and now it has come to this “ending” of sorts.
writing about my mom, dementia, grief, the whole thing.

“My Mom has stepped into dementia.  It comes and goes,
and it makes her angry and horrid and sad and confused and…” 1 May

“I’m packing my mom’s apartment tomorrow.
I have about 4-5 hours to go through her place and…”  17 June

“I just cleaned out my mother’s home. It was sad, stressful,
and I was making decisions for the whole family.
Mitchell was amazing, taking care of me while also
shlepping, loving, driving hours, all that.
Being present for my sobs then understanding that
I had to turn way and get to work (limited time).
The truth is that being real is being in the moment with emotions,
but real emotions are rarely anger at the loved ones around us…”
20 June

If you saw an earlier version of this, I took it down on
advice of counsel, and am re-posting it with revisions.

I am sinking into grief.

I don’t want to call it depression, because I’ve been there, and my depression
had no thoughts, no thang you could point to and say, “THAT makes me so sad.”

I’ve never seen so much cruelty and lack of caring in my life.
Has it gotten that much worse or was I blind to it?
I don’t mean I was unaware of wars, rape, brutality, but I didn’t see it in so very many people on a daily basis.  I lot of it centers around greed or power or ego…
A lot seems to stem from a lack of reflection on just how crappy a person
is in a given moment, just the meanness-for-fun or
lack of caring in ANY way about the human being in front of you…

This week has changed me:

Some nurse? doctor? at unnamed hospital in Southern Oregon told someone
that some family member was pushy and angry with them.  I can’t imagine who that is,
as there are only three of us, and it wasn’t me, and my niece doesn’t call
(she is a nurse and we know when she calls as it is for a specific reason)
and would never be an ass unless someone had a child of hers hostage,
and it apparently was a woman, as they decided it was me.
I’ve not had reason to be snotty, they’ve done a good job, or so I thought,
with my Mom, who can be out of the box with her dementia.
But it resulted in me being banned from getting any information about
my mother or asking any questions about what I’ve heard.

They do not want to hear that whomever was rude was not me;
there is no possibility for a reconsideration or review.
No one asked me for my side of things, though truth be told
I wouldn’t have one as the entire thing is no where near true…
I’ve tried talking to patient relations; she shined me on…
And yes, after them poking the bear boxed in a corner (me)
several times I now have yelled at them.

What to do?

Here is where it gets depressing… Really sad… I am frankly amazed.

My brother is DPOA, and I was fine with that as he is retired
and I run a business that is 60 hours a week.
I can’t always pick up the phone and I can’t run her legal case.

I let him know what was going on at the hospital and he did nothing.

NADA.

Still hasn’t.

Back the damn truck up… I began thinking of the coincidence
that he threatened me the day this happened,
when he thought I wasn’t in agreement with him.
(I was in agreement, but why confuse facts. 
He is hard of hearing and has a temper and I’ve been working with his crap for months, biting my tongue with the goal of my mom’s well-being always in my mind.)
Apparently he is fine with me not having access to information about her.
Maybe he even instituted the lockout, as the story they are telling is not true.

Further, this has carried over in medical orders from the hospital
to the facility that she has been parked at… another story.
They won’t give me information on her…
they would not confirm that she was there TO ME.
They called my brother instead of calling me back.
NO coincidences.

Listen up folks, this is serious shit:
in today’s strange legal world if you are not on the approved list,
you cannot even know if your loved one is present in a facility.
Even if you are a direct relation.
So IF your loved one is missing and you are calling to ER rooms,
they cannot confirm that a person is there.
I guess that means you have to call the police now?
The police can go have a lookaround and then confirm she is safe, at least,
but it is doubtful they can tell you which facility she is in….

My brother is professing ignorance, sort of… but not really.
He has said it isn’t true, as if I’ve made mistakes about this.
I don’t make those kind of mistakes.  I pushed each time.
He hasn’t bothered to change it…
he acts like he believes I waged war on some medical practitioner.

But the simple fact that he would do that to me, and to her
is filling me with anger and grief.
I am the one who has been writing her daily, sending her things to cheer her,
and telling her I loved her… He is performing a service.

When my own brother was dying and for a time he did not want to see his son,
I honored that and also told his son that we were trying to change his mind…
Before the end, they reconciled and I am glad for it.
I would not have locked his son out just because I was pissed at him.

Mine isn’t a perfect mom, and has done some truly shitty things as an adult mom.
She raised four kids by herself (with help from her parents) when our
deadbeat father decided he didn’t want to pay child support.
She didn’t try to kill herself in front of us; she took responsibility for us.
She didn’t leave us crying alone when we were kids, kept us healthy,
she cuddled and loved us and made sure we were safe and
did our homework with us and gave us confidence.
She tried to give us opportunities and a better start in life.
We didn’t have cigarettes put out on our arms and
we weren’t sexually or physically abused.
She didn’t bring asshole dates home to grope us or beat us.
She was FUN, and taught us ALL how to have fun with no money.
She was a great cook — a GREAT cook, and adventurous.
She wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t abandon us when the going got tough.
I seriously doubt any of us could have gotten anywhere without her parenting,
and most of the fuck-ed-up-ness in adulthood any of us continued to exhibit
beyond our middle 20’s is because we didn’t bother to clear the crap that our parents
handed down to us.  ANYTHING that anyone is still bitching about over the age of 25
(“my parents did this or that to me and that is my excuse…”)
is frankly their own damn fault.  So I say grow a pair and do for her in this time
when she is helpless, and alone, and stuck.

I could not do this to any human being.

I have no idea how she is today, and no way to find out except wait
until my brother decides to call her and report to us…..
I fought for several days to try to change this.
I have no power in the situation and it breaks my heart every time I think of it…
first thing in the morning and as I am winding down my day to sleep,
and each time I paint an object and as I go through her things,
it makes my heart ache for her well-being.

I cry as I am writing this…
been crying a lot the last couple days as it all sinks in,
and there is more to this story,
a family pattern of punishing and withholding love.

Moral to this story, best make damn sure the one
you make your DPOA is not a real ass with another agenda.
And no matter what, get it in writing signed
and notarized for/from all your loved ones that
no matter what some damn DPOA says,
you have permission to have information on them…
for-fucking ever. 
Information, sending messages, and the ability to say
you love them directly to their faces.

 W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQ  W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQ  W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQ  W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQ  W16 7 16 PENTALIC BLUEPRINT PALMS 03 SQ

©D. Katie Powell.  My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to zenkatwrites.  Art (unless stated) is also by me; please link to dkatiepowellart.

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Posted in autobiography, compassion, loss, memory, stress | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Cherished Blogfest 2017

The first time I heard a lojong teaching, I took a few notes, scribbled in my journal alongside some architectural building schematic.  I was under twenty-five.

In my late twenties I bought “Training the Mind” by Chogyam Trungpa
at the Bodhi Tree (RIP best bookstore ever).
His book literally fell on my head, and I buy all books that fall on my head.
I skimmed it but did not resonate with it, and found some wording to be so
CATHOLIC (I was a recovering Catholic at the time),
so I tucked it into a stack that would become several shelves.

Then I read Ani Pema Chodron’s Book “Start Where You Are” in 1994, twenty years later, and as are all her books, it was excellent.  She referred to this little blue book,
the “real thing” by her teacher, Trungpa.  It took you through the slogans in depth.
I tried to find it in bookstores, but by now I was living in a provincial
little town with a small New Age bookstore.  No luck.

 

Of course, you know it was the book I’d barely cracked!

As I have always done when learning anything, I kept a journal.
I can’t really learn any other way.  Copying the slogans and teaching comments, adding my thoughts, and committing them into my journal puts them into body, heart and mind.
I used one of my red Okina journals and began, in 1994, writing notes from the two books, Trungpa’s and Pema Chodron’s, a very good book for beginning steps.
I sat in silence at the Blue Mountain coffee shop every morning and read and contemplated and wrote about each slogan, sometimes spending days on
commentary by Trungpa, and turning the coffee shop into a sacred place!

I’ve worked through the blue book a half-dozen times like this,
adding post-its and adding a sketching Okina,
and adding a couple of other commentaries.
I can read my early thoughts about the slogans as well as maturing thoughts.
Now it is a thoroughly messy and cherished journal!
If I had to grab just one book now it would be the two books together as one.
If not two, then my red journal, my notes on the lojong.

Of course, the practice is none of this.
It is a breathing practice.

I see dharma (literally, “truth”) — in my case these teachings — as a lifeline to sanity,
a path to mental health.   Studying the teachings is a path to lightheartedness, to basic happiness or joy, and a salve in these awful times in which we live.

Pema Chodron spoke once about the moment when you realize the teachings are about yourself in the world; that connection, once made, I think, is hard to turn from.  Teachings, whatever kind are a lifeline for you, illuminates a path to
know yourself intimately, to stop running away in addictive behavior
which ultimately causes you and yours more pain (drink, drugs, shopping,
surfing Instagram endlessly to avoid — my newest),
and to put your foot on a path which brings more joy even in trying circumstances.

For my most recent study, which was stopped for reasons I can’t discuss, here.

For information on the breathing practice, look here — and get a teacher, ultimately!

Cherished Blogfest 2017 October NOW!
Want to join?  Tell us about a cherished object
and no, you don’t have to paint…
Then sign the Linky List so we can come visit you!
#CBF17 is our hashtag.

©D. Katie Powell.  My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back  to dkatiepowellart or zenkatwrites.

Posted in autobiography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Busker

(reposted from dkatiepowellart.me)

Cello Man plays at the entrance to PSU Saturday Market.
We enjoy him, and have often given him money.
I think there is an unwritten rule or agreement about the musicians,
because rarely does one drown out another or move into the other’s territory…
There is a lovely symbiosis to how you move through the large college market, listening to the cell then a lovely drum then Hawaiian ukulele then violin.

Until late August.

An obnoxious dad set up his precocious 6 year old keyboard talent at the entrance,
and proceeded to turn the volume waaaaay up.  He not only drowned out Cello Man,
but blasted us all and could be heard all over the park.  I was offended,
and I think other people were too… He tried it again a week later,
and Cello Man disappeared — but then so did the 6 year old, finally, blessedly.

We did not know why Cello Man did not return.
He was not at PSU.  We missed him.
We asked the market info stand about him.
So odd that they didn’t know what happened to him, “the Busker?”
He sat across from them every week!

Martin Watkinson and Gaea lost their house in a fire.
We’ve bought two of their downloadable albums here.
You can also donate (crowdfunding) here;
what has happened is bad, he has medical issues,
and they need so much help.

I need to track him down now that I’ve done his portrait.
His playing is so lovely.

Posted in compassion | 7 Comments

From On Being

One of the few online mags I read regularly.
This was so short I lifted it instead of giving a few lines and sending you on.
Go visit them… Krista Tippett started this uplifting mag.

The Blessing of Friends Who Weather the Storm With Us

My friend Ilyse and I have been friends for a long time. Sixteen years and counting. In the course of that time, I have had the pleasure of seeing her graduate, go to graduate school, get married, and have two kids. She’s seen me raise four kids, hit rock bottom, get back up on my feet, and find love again. We’ve both been through a lot.

When my life was going through a ton of upheaval, there was a conversation that Ilyse and I shared. It was a sweet, simple conversation, one that has stayed with me over the years.

It was one of those times that I was in my lowest of the low moments: unsure, vulnerable, and shaky. It is in these moments when our hearts are breaking that they, sometimes, break open. In the middle of a tear-filled conversation, she leaned in, looked me assuringly in my eyes, and said, “I am in your boat.”

Sometimes your life feels like you are cruising on an ocean liner, everything is going smoothly. Other times, like that time, it felt like I was in a tiny boat, going up and down on turbulent waves that were crashing all around me, cresting over me.

“I am in your boat.”

How lovely to know that I was not alone in that boat. How lovely to have family and friends, people who assure you, “You don’t even need to turn around to check to see if I am here. I don’t care how small your boat is. I am in your boat.”

They are the ones who tell us:

“If your boat goes up, I am going up with you.
If your boat goes down, I am going down with you.
Up or down, I am with you.”

Over the years, I have thought more and more about Ilyse’s simple words of wisdom, this lifeboat that came straight from her heart. Yes, I needed help. Yes, I was drowning or in danger. But I was not looking for someone to send me a rescue boat. I had my own boat: my life, my kids. I didn’t need to be rescued from this boat. I needed to learn to survive, and even thrive, in this boat. The ocean may be now calm, now stormy. The best of friends are the ones who are with us come hell or high water — or the security of a shore.

There’s more. There is a grace about not having to turn around to check to see if our closest friends and loved ones are in our boat. Sometimes it takes all that we have to breathe, to row, to stay afloat. And we don’t have the mental energy to check to see who, if anyone, is in our boat. Blessed are those friends who reach forward, gently placing their hands on our shoulder, around our waist, to let us know that they are with us.

We learn a lot about the people who stay in our boat during the storm. Sometimes it’s exactly who you expect. Sometimes there are those whom we expect to be in our boat, and at the moment of deepest crisis, they go missing. Maybe they were trying to survive in their own boat. It’s been said before: Whenever possible, be kind; you never know what battles others are fighting.

Sometimes there are people whom you knew were close to you, but it is honestly a pleasant surprise to find them sticking right with you, right behind you, faithfully in your boat. When you get to the shore of safety, these are the friends to cherish. One lifetime is not enough to live this gratitude.

In life, learn who’s in your boat.
Cherish them.

Learn to be in others’ boats.
Cherish them.

Cherish your boat.
Cherish your ride.
Cherish your life.

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Posted in compassion | Tagged | 12 Comments

What’s in A Word?

Elora Nicole’s post moved me so I have gone back and reread it several times.
Magical writing, must read.

What’s in a Word?

It started with a word.

I was sitting at a stoplight, praying about my word for 2016. It was October. I remember leaning against my window and the chill on the glass surprising me.

I have words for every year. Normally, by this time, I know my word. I kept wondering why I hadn’t gotten a word yet. I wondered if I missed it somewhere. I wondered if I would even have one. It wasn’t like I was resisting a word, but for the past five years, my words have been anything but kind. While I was curious why I hadn’t received one, I wasn’t actively pursuing it.

I was hesitant. But that day, something had me thinking about it.

So I’m sitting there, praying about my word, and I whisper under my breath —

I think it might be rooted.

There was something about that word that called to me, something about grounding and breathing and remembering who I am in this flesh and bone. I thought it might be a hint. I looked out the window, contemplating, and the answer hit me square in the chest. It was the most audible I’ve ever experienced the Spirit’s voice.

“Your word will be mother.”

My breath hitched. My heart flinched.

And then I started to weep.

I didn’t share anything about my word. In fact, I wrote about the reasons why I wouldn’t be telling anyone other than my closest friends and family. This was not meant for public consumption. This was going to be an internal shift — an intimate pull toward what caused me the most pain. I knew the truth: my words are never about the obvious. Not really. So even though there were implications beyond what I fully grasped in that moment, I focused where I could: the mother heart of God.

.::.

Next came the message.   (CONTINUE…)

Posted in autobiography | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Semende, Poet

Lovely poet… please go visit her!
Touched me in light of recent losses.

To Have a Friend

To have a friend is to hear a melody reek amidst a veld.

To place your eggs of hope on the selvage of a replete basket.

To have a friend is to believe.

To have a friend is to entrust.

To have a friend is to coil your love on a broken spool.

To wear her scars and pour your heart on the flame of her burdens.

To have a friend is to love.

To have a friend is to be loved.

To have a friend is to cultivate a bond on the barren grounds of earth.

To sow a family on the fecund realm of your heart.

To have a friend is to care.

To have a friend is to be blessed.

Posted in autobiography | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Fire

Originally published on dkatiepowellart.

It is a pitiful drawing, altogether too cheery,
but it was the middle-of-the-night and I had only my watercolor-filled pens.
I was horrified about what I’d read in the Oregonian.
*yeah i know i should not be reading puter in the middle-of-the-night*
They are pushing for leniency and have a “kids-will-be kids” attitude,
regarding the teenagers that tossed the firecrackers into the gorge.

NO!

I’m not on the side of the death penalty, but to write that these “children”
(oops, 15 is not quite a child…. more a minor) should not be charged
with a crime as an adult and do time because they
DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE CONSEQUENCES is insanity?
Any one of my friends would have understood the consequences at 12, let alone 15.
We knew this was an evil, destructive, malicious act, just like
firing a gun at someone, beating up on someone, rape, or lighting a cat’s tail on fire.

Do people raised with a computer and games
between their fingers not understand real life?
Does this mean they are mentally ill?  (Not having a grip on reality is mentally ill.)
How could anyone not evil (and do NOT tell me teens can’t be evil) do such a thing?
And for those of you who don’t know, there are signs all along the trails about
fire and firecrackers and other ways fires can start.

*view from our studio window last night*

This morning the Eagle Creek fire has met the Indian Creek fire and is a force of
20,000 burning acres.  At our studio an hour away (40 miles as the crow flies),
we can’t see far, and outside you can’t breathe.  Falling ash.

 The cops caught the kid (all of them), fleeing.
They talked to him, they had an eye witness who identified him.
They let him go. The Feds or the State Police must charge him (them).
Then there will be a trial and they should do time, the ones tossing doing the most time —
But, like bullies, those that watch are complicit.

I fell asleep early last night, and so, just after the full moon, I woke.
Middle-of-the-night I spent angst-ridden over the losses: the animals, the trees, the human casualties (we don’t know yet), the human losses in dollars, jobs, homes, buildings.

I had nowhere to go with my sorrow but to do a gratitude post.

A special thanks to all who are fighting fires!

*the last image is of my home fire station, laguna beach*

Posted in courage, guidance, journal, loss | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments