Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Re-posting of a blog post from last year

On March 22, 2016, I wrote the blog post below. It looks like the final part of the race is almost over. My mother passed away less than three months after the post. My mother-in-law's death is imminent. Sometimes life just hits you and forces you to remember that we are only on this planet for a relatively short time. Make the most of what you have and be thankful for what you have been given.

Note: Today would have been my parents' 70th wedding anniversary.

Unfortunate Race to the End

Racing usually involves two or more people or machines going against each other in a match of speed, each trying to be the first to cross the finish line. Be it track and field, NASCAR or drag racing, the competition and drama are all part of the fun of the race. Some races, however, aren't fun. Such is one "race" in my life.

2016 is proving to be a difficult year so far as the health of both my mother and mother-in-law continues to get worse. My mother turned 90 last October -- something which is kind of amazing in itself. Despite numerous health issues, she has already outlived my father by over 11 years. My family would never have believed that she would live this long. However, she has a diagnosis of "failure to thrive" and continues to slip away little by little. In visiting with her this past weekend, I was surprised to see that on last Sunday, which I imagine was not one of her "good days," she did not even remember that I stayed with her for four nights after Christmas so that thundering36 could get a respite from his care giver responsibilities. However, at least at most of the recent times that I have visited, she has been relatively okay as far as remembering her children's names and making sense with much of what she said.

My mother-in-law has, unfortunately, had a rapid downswing. Due to back and other problems, she is no longer able to walk. My wife spent this past weekend in northern Wisconsin helping to clean and sort out her mother's belongings since my mother-in-law is now in a nursing home for the duration of her life. Her dementia has caused her to have all sorts of strange delusions. Fortunately, she still recognizes her family, so at least there is that. However, my wife has had to deal with the difficult part of knowing that the mother she grew up knowing is fading further and further away.

The mother and child relationship is one of the greatest gifts that we have been given. As I think back over my life, I am fortunate to have known that no matter what happened to me in life, good or bad, there was always -- no matter what -- at least one person there who was on my side. I am sure that my wife has felt the same about her mother. And strangely enough, in probably the darkest hour in my life, the person who was there for me was my mother-in-law.

So, life goes on, day by day. And even as the race heads closer and closer to its conclusion, I think of how lucky I have been to have had the competitors in my life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Life Updates -- Some Good and Some Bad

I haven't felt motivated to write a new post for a couple of weeks, largely due to life fatigue and fatigue in general. Some updates, for those interested:

1) Wife gets job! My wife had been unemployed since the end of last May. Unemployment benefits ran out in December, so the need to come up with a job became more acute. It looks like she has landed something that will work out really well: a job as office manager for a chiropractor in town. My wife is friends with his wife, and the three will be working together. It seems like a great fit.

2) Son gets a job! My son is completing his degree in Math and Computer Science this semester with an online class. He accepted a job as a software engineer for a start-up company in Seattle. The job appears to be great, but that also means that he will be moving over 2,000 miles away from his family. Fortunately, Seattle is only a plane ride away, but it will be quite different not having him in the area. His mother will have an especially difficult time with this and I am dealing with it as best I can. He is finally living out his dream, which is, I guess, all that a parent can hope for.

3) The clean up of my mother's house began just over a week ago. It is difficult beginning the process --  seeing the house that you grew up in and all the requisite memories getting further and further from your grasp. My brother, thundering36 (I have three brothers and a sister), will finally be resuming the life he was living in Australia 17 years ago.

4) Death will again soon be visiting the family, as my mother-in-law is on her final days. I am pretty sure that I had written in the past that my mother and my mother-in-law were having a sad race to their deaths. My mom passed away last June, but was still in pretty decent shape mentally until the end. My mother-in-law was not quite so lucky, as dementia hit her hard and fast. My wife went to be with her yesterday. Sadly, it is just a matter of time.

Work pressures continue to build as the State of Illinois -- specifically the legislature and the governor -- seem determined to devastate higher education and social services in the state. My department is losing staff (people leaving are not being replaced) and we are gaining the many new responsibilities as a small office is being merged into mine. I am scheduled to remain head of my department until May 2018, but I may decide to step down at the end of this coming April. There are many things to consider, and I hope that I will have an answer by the end of this week.

I have been playing a little online poker recently. I have been reminded how frustrating it can be: know-it-alls popping off in chat, horrendous beats, lots of time spent playing. I probably need to stay away. I've played some brick and mortar poker in 2017, winning a little in a few early January sessions at the local riverboat, losing a buy-in or two in Las Vegas last month, and dumping a little bit at Harrah's Joliet. I'll probably up my play once a little bit of the pressure currently on me subsides.

I'm thankful for tweets, Facebook posts and blog posts and comments (on other blogs) that have kept me connected to my friends and acquaintances. The past nine months have not been great, and things will only get worse soon. I am hoping that by the middle of summer, things in my life will be more settled and life will be a little less challenging.

Thanks for reading!