It's my birthday today but I am so weary that what I'd really like to do, if I could do anything, is just to stay in bed all day and do nothing, but I really can't. My Mom is still in the hospital. She wants me to buy her some shrimp from Bristol Farms, and I really should go out and do something for my birthday.
I'm thinking about going to the bead show in Santa Monica because my friend Karyn goes every year and she always brings home the most amazing beads that she then strings into necklaces. She bought a strand of rough black diamonds last year for so much less than you would imagine something like that would cost, and they look so pretty whenever she wears them, sparkling on her neck.
This is a picture taken at our house on my birthday when I was three. That's my Mom on the left with the blonde hair and the little girl sitting in her lap. That's me, the little girl sitting in her lap.
My friend/assistant/help-mate Esther is calling to wish me a Happy Birthday. The sweet woman, June, who I gave my Arfest spot to sent me a lovely flower arrangement. Wow, how kind and generous of her. My friend Radimeh/Maryam came by and brought me a card, some soap, tea, and two delicious pastries, yum. Beau made me a big heart shaped collage card.
It's just been so much stress and worry lately with Mom being so ill. I'm on hold all the time and can never check out for a minute because Rosa is gone and her replacement, Susan, although super well meaning and competent, doesn't communicate very well and is pretty helpless without me to bring things to her, or help her in some way.
Yesterday was insane, well, actually the last two days have been tougher than many of the other hopital days before this. The doctors will call and tell me to come and get Mom with absolutely no notice, so you rush over there only to discover that they've gone off to attend to other patients in need, and you're lucky if they return your page within the next three hours. Meanwhile you wait. You wait for six or seven hours while they try to make up their minds if they really are going to release her, and all the while my poor Mom is suffering and I'm helpless to do much to ease her discomfort but rearrange and hand things to her, put cream on her face, hands and feet, and run back and forth to the nursing station to ask for things. If you want a Band-Aid or anything else they have to write an order of some kind for it and then you have to wait for that to be approved and then it takes another hour or two to get it. It's much easier to go downstairs to the gift shop and just buy whatever you need.
I do not in any way mean to criticize any of the nurses or doctors who work at UCLA hospital. I know how stressed out and overworked they are. In fact I think people who go into health fields are saintly. While I make an enormous effort to be helpful, kind, and giving to everyone I meet, I know that I would never have the patience or stamina to do the kind of work they do. It blows my mind and I feel so sorry for them as I ride back down to my car in the elevator with them at the end of another long day at the hospital.
As some of you may know my Mom has cancer from a life time of struggling to quit smoking, the poor thing. God, how I hate cigarettes and the people who make them, sorry, but I do. Mom had to have part of her lung removed about five or six years ago but her cancer has metastasized throughout her body. She has a tumor the size of an orange on her ovaries, another smaller but deadlier one in a part of her bowel, and many smaller cancers in her lymphatic system, especially in her chest. On top of this she has a brain tumor that makes her impatient and irritable. Who wouldn't be at her age, (91 going on 92 in a month or so), with everything she is going through?
This recent hospitalization came about because of a really bad virus that she caught from her housekeeper Rosa. She now has pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. She can't walk, she can barely see with the macular degeneration, and she can hardly hear. Now her kidneys are failing. It's so so sad, but I keep doing everything I can to remain positive and hang in there for her. I really think we are going to be able to pull her through this latest hospitalization one more time, be able to bring her home, and buy a little more time for her.
My friend Jenny's husband/life-partner died of cancer a little over a month ago, I think, and I'm so so soooo sad and sorry for her and for them as a couple. I know how much she loved him. I only just found out because I have been so busy taking care of my Mom plus everything else I have to do to keep up with in my life. I'm running two households now, plus Jenny tends to isolate like I do when things are really tough, and it's hard to get in touch with her. I just hate for her to be suffering though, hate for anyone to suffer or be sad, and I want to do something to help.
I wish life were easier or that happiness and joy were a more prolonged and steady kind of thing, but I guess that isn't really the plan, although the Dalai Lama thinks that we are meant to be happy, meant to embrace happiness despite suffering. Detachment seems to be the secret. That's pretty hard to do, to love without wanting or needing anything from the people you love, to not attach yourself to anything knowing that everything is so fleeting and temporary and that this isn't reality. Hard to do, very hard.
I don't even know how my friend Mary is doing with her cancer. I'm afraid to call or check my e-mail because I don't want to know if she's worse in any way, at least not today. I'll see if I can get through to her tomorrow or Monday, if I can get my mind to sit still long enough to remember something this important to me.
All of my on-line art buddies, or well, a lot of them, are getting ready to leave for Artfest in Washington in a few days. So many new and wonderful people have written to me to offer sympathy for my Mom and to tell me that they are sorry we won't be able to meet in person. I am so sad not to be going but again, it isn't meant to be, and this wonderful woman June is going to be able to go because I can't. That makes me happy and takes most of the sting out of it : ) Another dear woman has contacted me and offered to take all of the many things I have been collecting to gift people with and I am so grateful. I think I'm going to meet her at Mom's on Monday to give everything to her and that way she can see all of the dresses and meet Mom if she likes.
I got up really early today, well, for me, and scanned a ton of stuff. This is a picture of me on Easter, which might explain why I go so crazy gifting everyone on holidays, but seriously, this doesn't even begin to demonstrate how many gifts I would get. I think this is just what I got at my Grandparent's house on Roxbury in Beverly Hills.
I bought myself three or four of my Grandmother's (Fashion designer Peggy Hunt), dresses off of Ebay for my birthday and that was a real thrill. I really can't afford to do this any more as there are funds run super low at the end of each month, and there are so many people around me in need. Some new people have come into my life through my animal rescue efforts and there is one really sweet and super well meaning young woman on welfare with three children all under the age of six, who is really struggling. I have to do what I can to help her. I want to.
It's next to impossible to justify my continuing to spend this kind of money on myself when she can't afford medication, or beds or even clothes for her kids. Between the owner of the pet store where I place my cats for adoption, who is a serious angel, (I mean seriously, she makes me look selfish), the government, and myself, she doesn't have anyone. She still lives with the father of her kids but he won't help in any way and there are reasons I can't write about, even as anonymously as I am writing about this here, for why she is in the position she is in, and why she doesn't just kick this guy's ass. I know I want to.
She was so sick one night after having had a really botched operation, that she needed to go to the emergency room. She couldn't afford to take the day off work so she worked all day doubled over in pain while occasionally barfing into bags, (Can you imagine?), then picked her children up from the caregiver, took them home, and asked her man to watch them so she could go to the emergency room... and he wouldn't do it. I was so angry with him I could have strangled him, or well, at least I imagined doing it, but then I met him and like always, there I was, torn up over what I found to be the good in him. Ahh life.
Anyway, beyond the people I am closest to; friends, neighbors, and people who work for Mom and me, I also feel compelled to help people beyond my immediate circle, and this is why I feel so selfish when I spend money on myself collecting things. But with the dresses, and with art that people make on Etsy, for example, I can justify it by telling myself that I am doing good. Going to the bead show today to look for that string of black rough diamonds that Karyn bought last year, not so much.
I just spent about an hour and a half downstairs talking with my neighbors and now the day is running out and I haven't really gone out to do anything. You know, if Scott comes and visits my Mom with me, then helps me do the marketing, which I am getting so sick of, I think I'll be pretty satisfied. I really did want to go out and spend a small amount of money on myself though.
If I don't bring home some bags of that crappy Pounce or Whiskas tonight, the cats are going to riot. I started using it to bribe them into moving from one room to another because they love it so much, and the shaking of the dry bits of food in the bags drives them wild with anticipation. Now I'm stuck because they look at me so sadly when I run out. Every time I get up to go to the bathroom, or if I pass anywhere near the dresser where I keep their food, medications, and toys, they all come stampeding over for their nightly kitty fast food treat. Everything I buy for them, in terms of food, is the finest and healthiest, but like most cats they are as crazy for this market junk food as they are about catnip, which always makes me wonder what they put in it; cat crack. Which reminds me, I want a Pinkberry, yes, a Pinkberry would make a lovely birthday treat : )
PS: I just learned that a friend of mine had an affair with Red Buttons and that I had spoken to him several times without ever recognizing him. I just knew him as the nice older man with the gorgeous vintage Mercedes who I would talk to from time to time in front of my house in the evenings. How weird, but sad for my friend -- the way it ended. Again, can't say anything identifying or more detailed than this, darn it.
Oh PPS: La Lisa, if you are reading this, or Maria if you do will you pass this along; Thank you so much for taking so much time out of your life to give me such good advice. I just happened to find your note. I didn't even know Live Journal had that feature. Believe me, we are totally on the same page here. I found Rosa sneaking out these French Ormolu and Opaline antique boxes, I can't remember if I mentioned this here, because I've been away for so long, but I have put a stop to this as best as I can. The jewelry is all safe. Furniture is not so easy to protect but everything is in trust and people's things only really get sealed off and frozen like that when there is more than one beneficiary or the chance of anyone contesting the estate. In my case there's just me. I hate thinking about this kind of stuff, but I know it's important as my Mother wants me to look after everything, and for Beau's sake as well. I'm just really praying that I won't have to deal with anything like this for a verry verrrry long time. I think I"m in denial, but I'm telling you, my Mom is amazing, she'll probably outlive me.
Oh and BTW, Rosa, who I'm sure anyone who reads my journal must dislike as much as I do, actually told my Mom about how much money employers have left to various housekeepers, butlers, gardeners, etc., that she knows. I wish my Mom were going to leave her more than she is planning to because as much as I dislike her, and am angry with her for what she is done, she is still a Mother and has been working pretty hard for my own Mom for many years now, so I want her to be well compensated, but to actually hint around about something like that, to your employer who may be dying, is so distasteful and gross I can't even bear to think about it.
This is the patio at one of our houses when I was a little girl. I so remember those colored party favor bags and the weird thing is that I clearly remember this particular party. We had party poppers, the ones that make a loud explosion and have a little toy inside. People in the UK call them crackers and open them on Christmas. My friend John Clark (Gable) was terrified of the exploding sound and I remember feeling very protective towards him and making everyone stop because it made him cry. Funny how you remember certain things. I also remember his birthday parties and his amazing play house but that's another story.