Parting With Our Home In The Palm Desert : (

Hi Everyone,

So much loss, it seems like it's been downhill for so long, well, since Mom died and people have taken advantage and stolen from us non-stop. For my dear friends who have kindly refrained from deleting me after such a long absence due to grief and legal wrangling that made it unwise to be as open as I had been before, I just want to say thank you and I love you.

We have to let go of so much just to settle estate debts which are beyond all comprehension. We hired a top lawyer to help us through the first part of this hellish experience and we won, but what we won is what we were meant to have had all along and even though we came to an this agreement that gives me back control over my own home and things, rather than risk any further expensive litigation and debt. I am grateful for having been able to wrest control of my Mother's now impoverished estate back, even if it did mean letting people off and never recovering damages. Nothing could really undo the emotional damage or the fact that we had to take out hard money loans just to pay for the legal fees and that now we are having to find ways to solve all of this. And I haven't even mentioned taxes which are punitive in the extreme, (trusts don't protect you from having to pay estate taxes -- I thought I'd include this because everyone asks me this when I bring this up).

When Mom passed away it was 2008 and the law then was that the IRS gets to take about 50% of everything you inherit beyond a certain allowance that didn't even cover our two homes. The value of what I inherited is what we are disputing now, I couldn't even begin to pay what they think I owe and what I was backed into signing after hours of arguing with very little notice, and all of the original figures were based on estimates created by high school and golf buddies of the team of lawyers who tried to muscle me out in the first place. At the time I was told by my layers paralegal that it was more important to file on time, even if the figures were insane. Besides she herself, working with my tax attorney had amended these things from millions to nothing, not to worry...

Then, remember we're talking 2008, the housing market collapsed and suddenly everything we had was worth half of what it had once been, and everything we had was in the ground, at overinflated estimated values because guess what? If you're the trustee of an estate the amount you base the salary on that you will receive for the rest of your life is based on a percentage of the original estate's value, and how do we determine that? By asking our friends to determine the value of everything and then putting these amounts on a tax form and telling the IRS that Jacqui basically owes them roughly a million and a half dollars. OH MY GOD!!!!

So basically super unkind people took most of my family's best, once inventoried possessions, little by little over a long time, others took the cash, and the IRS wants the rest.

You can see why we've had to list our beloved family vacation home in the desert. I'm sure you remember all the pictures I've posted through the years of road runners, cacti, flowers, sunsets, mountains, etc., well, this is that house. We spent at least a month making it look lovely to a brokers standards and because we need the money so badly we've listed it, (along with two buildings I own in Indio), for a hundred thousand less than the exact same house sold for around the corner about a month ago. We're asking 300,000. which will barely cover the loan. Sorry I know my problems are nothing compared to some of yours, it's just so shockingly hard to grieve and fight at the same time, and to have to give up things that your son loves so much and that feel like they're a part of you.

Every day I'm thinking, "What can I sell, what can I sell?" And the bills keep pouring in, and they're HUGE. Poor Mom, no wonder she was so stressed out. I feel so sorry for her. Anyway I just wanted to see if I could make my journal work again, (like I said it had been set to friends only and there's still a bunch of missing information, basically things I wouldn't want some judge to be able to look at in some brief that would make her or him think I was incapable of running my own affairs, but I'll find a way to put them back. Scott -- my man songmon here on LJ -- worked on this for hours and we're going to give it a test run with this post. I'll provide more pics and linkage later. For now I'm just grateful any of you are still here.

Big Enormous Hugs From Your Old Friend,


I Think I'm Back Or I'm Trying To Be

It's been so long, and I'm nothing if not a loyal perfectionist, that after everything we've suffered through, a story I should write a book about, (that still isn't over because apparently the IRS is doing us a favor by thinking that all we owe them from my dear parent's nearly bankrupt estate is 1.5 MILLION dollars, when we don't even have enough to live on without selling off the furniture, [my own, as well as my diamond jewelry - inherited from my Grandmother and reported - just in case they read], literally,) I keep wanting to come back with years worth of photo icons for anyone, who might not have migrated to Facebook or Twitter, to see. I occasionally pop up and do this, I think, say about the same thing, that I want to do so much more than simply write and check in with anyone who might still remember me, and then pop back out.

I'm thrilled with your kind nudges and the odd e-mail and real world letters and cards that make it through. I know I bitched about my lot, complained about fights I had with my Mother, but I always prefaced everything wrote by saying how very lucky I knew I was, and truth be told I worshiped my Mother. Quite frankly I idolized her and wondered how anyone who could know me at all could miss this. You don't spend all of your free time writing about, cataloging ephemera, saving every little story, collecting vintage clothing, and putting on fashion shows all for the benefit of someone you don't love.

This grief, (almost three years since Mom died - April 25), is the hardest, deepest and most overwhelming pain I have ever experienced. I was paralyzed with it, desperate for escape, quite literally, for the first six to eight months, and then I was galvanized into motion by the cruel callous way in which my Mother's own wishes and my son and I were being wronged.

That's when I stopped writing because I had to. I didn't know who I could trust, and speaking openly in a public forum while lawyers were trying to destroy my character, writing briefs and telling lies about my family and about me in court, made my continuing to write here a very unwise thing to do.

I'll tell you more about it someday but basically my parents had always wanted me to step up and run everything for them. There wasn't that much left in the end because, and I am happy this was/is the case, because they all lived long lives. I wanted my family, especially my Mother who had the capacity, the drive, and the will to travel the globe, to do anything she wanted or would be allowed to do, (She so wanted to go to the observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, then later in San Diego, but not only her age, [she was almost 92], but the fact she'd lost part of her lung to cancer), because no matter what she said or thought, as far as I was concerned it was her money and I really wanted her to enjoy it. But again she was so generous, unfailingly so, that she would go without, scrimping on certain things the way she had learned to during The Great Depression and World War 2. She wanted me to have a better, bigger, more animal-friendly house than the one I am already blessed beyond belief to have, she wanted for me to never have to work again, to live with my Grandparents furniture and hers and to have the finest of lives. This love extended to Beau who she wanted to somehow have enough money to buy a little home for and to pay for his education, but all of these things just weren't going to be possible with the IRS waiting for her to die so they could take half of everything away.

A long time before Mom had cancer she made the mistake of making the husband of a friend, our family attorney, and then possibly our trustee, (or not, I don't know which if any of the older paperwork, I was finally allowed to see, was real or fraudulent), but when she was given her more serious cancer diagnosis, she took a more calculated look down the road and changed her will. She knew we couldn't afford and didn't want the man we were working with to be a trustee. She didn't trust him. And when the chips were down I was the one she trusted. She told me to get rid of this man, or to try to work with him, IF I WANTED, but not to allow him to actually be our trustee, or allow anyone else to get involved. She told me that she wanted to teach me everything our secretary was doing as she felt I could easily learn to do it just as well, and save the money. She told Scott, Beau and me this. She told her closest friends this. She told her nurse this, and she told the purported trustee this.

Everyone warned me not to trust this man, but the problem was that I did, and even though I knew he really wasn't meant to be my trustee, I thought I needed him, I was afraid to go up against him, (When you are raised the way I was you are taught not to make any waves, etc.,) and I really liked and cared about him. I still do if you can believe that, (I told you, I am loyal to a flaw,) this of course makes everyone who watched us suffer so terribly because of his lack of any real care and some extremely poor critical decisions, super angry, but I'm finally getting it. However I especially trusted him when he told me that he would have made my Mother so much money with her money (In real estate ventures, something my Mother forbade me to do, which is what he was almost exclusively doing before my Mother passed, [He'd sold his family law practice to a person completely unqualifed to be a trustee since he didn't seem to know the most fundamental principals of being conferred with such a responsibility], that and taking luxury trips with his family while getting in as much golf as possible), that we would have been so wealthy as to not have to worry about any of the many things I had to worry about while grieving, like selling my Mother's home on Stone Canyon, where I grew up, or the supposedly massive tax burden he said we would owe. It never occurred to me until we were halfway through a serious family law case that he was the person who reduced what we had left to shreds by hiring friends to do jobs they weren't equipped to do. In the end he sailed off into the Sunset refusing to return our panicked calls, leaving us with an illegally appointed "trustee" whose plan was to sell my own home out from under us and rent an apartment or somewhere for us to live far away where land is cheaper to come by. He told me this himself during one of several drunken conversations, then when he'd sober up, during the day, he'd act completely surprised, deny it, and then try to ascertain who told me as if he were a general and one of his foot soldiers had given away a strategic military plan to the enemy.

Well, I'm exhausted and I've barely scratched at the surface of year one. I think you can see why this has been so hard for me to do. Can you?

I can't write any more, it's too painful, it only gets worse and I'm starting to feel ill at ease about sharing any of this. I can tell you that after so much time, and tremendous expense, the purported trustee got tangled up in so many of his lies to the judge that even the judge was making fun of him. Of course this left him with nowhere to turn but to us. So he made an offer to back out quickly and my attorney, seeing our little remaining money being poured down the black hole of our legal system told me to take it, poor though it was. The offer allowed him to get away with what amounted to fraud, theft, perjury, irreparable damage to what was left of my poor parents estate, and very real emotional harm and distress, but we gratefully waived any pursuit of this in exchange for our freedom. Our agreement however did not cover the behavior of our "family friend" our original lawyer, but distressed though we may be, financially and God knows how much more otherwise, I am happy to disconnect totally from all of the old bad energy and do what I can to move on saving what little is left.

Okay, I truly can't go on, as it does get darker, but I've got my little family and my Auntie Jani who is the one true blessing that's come out of all of this, I have my neighbors and I'm about ready to start venturing out again after three long years to see if any of my friends will still have me after such a long self imposed absence, and we'll see. Please pray or non-denomination-ally do anything you might want to for us, as I am always doing for all of you. Yes, I still pray for all of you because I still love you -- Jacqui

We're trying to figure out how to afford to go away for a day for my birthday on Tuesday, (March 29). My one wish is to see Jani, well, my one wish for my birthday; My one real wish would be for world peace, love and happiness, tossing in good health because at my age you really get how important it is. If I manage to get my Beloved Scott to be happy for most of the time and go with me to play near some tide pools, well then that really would be something.
Bambi by Peace_Icons

Becoming Visible Again -- Updated Entry

Hi Everyone,

I've been waiting to find the right time to log back in, make everything visible again, say hello, and try to describe what a ride the last year of my life has been. I'm at my favorite run-away-from-it-all hotel, (The Malibu Beach Inn), because it's my birthday and coming here helps with the grief I still feel so strongly over the death of my Mom last April.

I cannot begin to understand how almost an entire year of life has gone by. I can still feel her hand as if I am still holding it, the shape of her fingers, the texture and color of the skin, her fingernails. I am left holding all of her life's posessions in my hands, things I would have wanted when she was alive, not now when she is gone. How and why does this happen? I'm always the one comforting everything else, but this time it's happening to me, and the hole ripped right out of the center of my chest is huge and so raggedy and painful. I know that in some psychic, spiritual sense she is with me. She comes to me in my dreams. And we've had experiences with birds and feathers, but these are lovely but subtle ephemeral thing and here I am on my birthday and for the first time in my life I cannot touch her or hear her voice. It's devastating.

Sometimes I think having your own children teaches you how to love your parents more. I'm not saying everyone has to have had this experience to love their dear parents but when you've suffered and worried and loved so passionately, so selflessly, for your own children, sacrificed so very much, you somehow begin to understand, love, accept, and perhaps forgive your own parents for anything you might once have held against them. There is no question, no question at all that I would die for my son, I would have done the same for my Mom, taken the cancer into my own body to spare her, if I could have.

I am really looking forward to sharing so much with you, but I need to clear this with my attorney, need to know how transparent I can be. I can tell you that after eight long months and several court hearings we finally settled with the man who had taken over as trustee and I have all of the rights that my Mother wanted me to have, back. I am now my ow trustee. But it took all of our cash to do, dear friends were willing to go to court and stand up for what was right and true, but luckily it didn't come to that. It took all of our money and energy and it's going to take a while to get back on our feet again.

It was worth every bit of misery and stress. So many people rallied to our aid. I had letters from, doctors, nurses, witnesses, friends and so much more. I was even forced to send my Mother's signature to a handwriting analyst and pay for it myself. Yet, somehow, with as many copies of her signature as I provided, and years and years of daily diaries, he wasn't able to make a committment either way, and well, like I said, I need to check with my attorney.

I miss my Mom more than I could ever have known. I dream about her every night and cry about her every day. But I am growing along the road through this process and there have been many miracles and gifts along the way.

The sound of the ocean is so healing and Scott got me a diamond dragonfly necklace, some vontage porcelain mermaids, and two beuatiful vintage cards. I don't expect anything else. I'm grateful. I disappeared myself so completely that I didn't, or couldn't, even return phone calls from some of my oldest friends. I realized last week that I haven't called or visited anyone outside of my very immediate circle in over a year. Obviously I've been very depressed...

I just wanted to say hello and tell you that I've missed you and missed this process. I'm so looking forward to being able to reclaim my life again.

Big Loving Hugs,

Checking In and Needing To Disappear For a Couple of Months

Hi Everyone,

It's been so long and I have sooooo much to share -- so many stories, so many photos I've taken just for this purpose, but I have been totally and completely bogged down with the business of life, taking care of my Mom's estate, clearing space for Scott to move in with us, (His house was finally foreclosed on and he moved in last weekend, a blessing in disguise as this has forced us to finally be a more complete couple and a two parent family for Beau), there's just been so much. And the grief over the loss of my Mom, who despite anything I may have written about any differences we may have had in the past, is tremendously painful, just the hugest thing, unimaginable really and is still now, six months later, tearing me up daily. She was my best friend. I loved her so much.

For the first time in over eighteen years we are not doing our annual Halloween yard haunt, which really says it all in terms of how totally overwhelmed I am. You remember our annual Halloween yard haunt, the one that attracts over a thousand children and a few major celebrities and of course their children as well. Last year's big surprise was Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gylenhall, and her adorable mini-me of a daughter and son. It's just so weird not to have even a single pumpkin outside, so weird.

Everyone is so disappointed, but we took a family vote, (This included Esther and Concha), and I was outvoted, which, again, has proved to be a blessing in disguise as it is so clear to me now that I could never have pulled it off without doing serious damage to my already super challenged health, especially considering the enormous amount of physical labor and stress involved at what has been the most stressful and painful time of my entire life, to say nothing of the cost and the chaos with all of Mom's and Scott's possessions, (Plus all of my displaced things we had to clear out of several spaces to make room for everything), cluttering up every inch of free space, waiting to be sorted and sent off to the land of Pod.

I haven't had a break in so long. I just work and work, and still there is so much more ahead of me. An entire lifetime's worth of my family's cherished possessions all left to me to sort through and decide, in a kind of HGTV's Clean Sweep sort of way, what to do with. And then there are the cruel estate taxes, a whopping 45% of which has to be raised to be paid to the government. Can you imagine having to decide how to come up with an amount of money equal to the value of everything you have essentially already been barely subsisting on, little of which is generating any income, and then having to just hand it over to the government? My own home isn't even in my name.

Our once large estate has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, is in tatters and being fought over by lawyers. It's a heartbreaking mess that I am so glad my Mother and Father are not here to see, as they would be so angry and disappointed over the way things have been handled. Which brings me to the most important point; Just as I was about to begin to bring my journal back up to speed by sharing the unbelievable goings on of the last six months, and looking forward to revamping everything and making fairly regular entries again, I have become aware that being able to freely access all of this detailed and unfiltered information about me could be harmful to me.

For the short term I need to make my journal disappear while we duke things out with our totally incompetent, lazy, lying, greedy, and inexperienced trustee, (My once trusted friend and our family attorney quit just two months after my Mom passed away and turned things over to this guy who plans to take half of all of our income to essentially do nothing more than waste our time and say, "Hmmm... let me get back to you on that," holding private meetings behind my back, squeezing everything he can into the one trust he feels he has control over, again, without informing me, while playing keep away with over 45,000.00 worth of money that he has admitted is mine, and that we desperately need to pay bills and the people who depend on us to survive.

I am an extremely loyal and trusting person. I want to honor what my Mother and Father wanted me to do, and I don't want to offend our original trustee, who I thought was my friend. But his actions have led me to believe that he is obviously putting his own interests before ours, and the man he has possibly illegally entrusted our care to, for what looks like only four years before the entire estate passes to me, a secret that was also being kept from me, is either in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, or has no concept of what a trustee is meant to do. My Mom's secretary and I have been left to figure everything out on our own and we have mere weeks before we need to file a very complicated tax extension, or face enormous penalties.

It was in trying to get this lazy over-cautious man to get off his ass and do the right thing by us that Scott and I learned just how badly and inappropriately things were being handled for us. I didn't know what my rights were. I didn't know that it wasn't normal to feel so distressed and alone in all of this, I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to be doing all of the heavy labor, the real work, while this guy did essentially nothing but compliment me on my intelligence while secretly handing bills to my secretary behind my back, and I certainly didn't know that this man planned to take half of all of our income because in determining what a trustee earns you consider, not the income but the total value of everything, you take the very home you live in into consideration and base the fee on that, so my home, plus my Mother's, (That I was being forced to sell), which didn't budge in over four months on the market on one of the most desirable streets in one of the most desirable locations in the world, which don't generate any income are part of the formula that is used to determine how much of what little we earn that he gets to help himself to. Oh how my blood boils over this. I had to come up with the idea of renting the house, waiting out this terrible market, and applying for extensions and loans on my own.

So basically, in simply trying to find a good tax attorney while my supposed new trustee twiddled his thumbs, and charged me for having my own secretary coach him and do all of the work that the previous trustee should have done, Scott and I began to interview lawyers who specialize in this area of the law, something we were warned away from doing by both our former and current trustees, "Oh no, don't go see an attorney, they'll cost you too much money, we'll just hire a CPA" Big sigh. And every lawyer we met with told us the same thing, "You are getting screwed."

It took me months to wrap my heart and mind around the fact that these people either don't understand or get who I am, that they underestimate and judge me in some old fashioned boy's club kind of way, and rather than having our best interest at heart, were hoping I'd just be a good little Catholic girl and go along without asking any questions or noticing that things were not as they should be, allowing them to give big fat chunks of what little we have left away to themselves, the government, a really bad real estate broker, (Thank God the house didn't sell or we really would have been screwed. Oh God, the stories I could tell you, open houses that literally were open houses, no one there to greet people, just stacks of the worst prospectus sheets I've ever seen, the front and back doors of my Mother's beautiful home flung wide open and left that way overnight had we not caught this, not once, not twice, but four separate times), appraisers they hired to push prices up or down according to their needs in order to justify decisions, important documents not filed, the most basic of notices never given to me.

It's all just horrible, super painful to deal with, and of course now we've had to hire a top tier attorney to make it all right, the way it should have been from the beginning, while the clock ticks down on our tax deadline, and I have to borrow money to pay for it. I truly believe that everything should work out the way we want it to in the next six or seven weeks, but in the meantime I really don't need anyone combing through my totally unfiltered earlier posts for information about me that might help make me look bad. So, here's my plan; I'm going to make this post private for the time being, and try to find some way to make the rest of my entire journal visible only to me. In the meantime please don't drop me and know that I miss you all very much, verrrry much, and will be back soon to tell you all about it.

I'm so sorry I haven't been able to respond or keep up with you. I send out prayers and positive thoughts for all of you all of the time. You have been the best friends a gal could ask for and I really do miss your companionship, sympathy, support, and friendship. Something I have never taken for granted and have always been so grateful for. I miss reading about your lives. I wonder how you are while I barely ever sign on to read my enormous backlog of e-mail, 912 at this moment, not including spam. I love you and wish you well. Hope to talk to you very soon.

Big Warm Hugs,

Moving Through Grief

I’ve been wanting to write, missing it, but every time I think about sitting down to begin I get bogged down in narrative and the exhaustion that accompanies me through this grief. All of these thoughts and the heavy sadness that sits on my chest like a sharp rock waiting for me to take a deep enough breath, or accidentally stumble across the tiniest memory of my lost family, to tap this unfathomably deep well of emotion, have so far prevented me from being able to share anything here about the weeks following my Mother’s funeral or even the ceremony itself. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to face it, the pain has been too great, the pain of revealing my feelings or thoughts to you, just, too, great to crack open and share. And there have been so many beautiful moments, profound healing moments, mini-miracles, mini-epiphanies, beauty amidst the ugliness, light within the dark that I have wanted to write about but just haven’t had the strength to. It is so hard to focus when you are hurting and feel so lost. It is so hard for me to focus when I am feeling so hurt and lost.

For the first time in my life, this fear that has haunted for me for so long, not just the fear of cancer, or abandonment, (Which as an only, adopted-late-in-life child, without a single relative in my nuclear family other than my Mother, Father, Grandmother, and Grandfather, [All gone now] has been my life’s constant companion), but the specter of truly being an orphan, when I have always felt like one, and that was held at bay by the illusion of belonging and companionship that my small family kept just out of reach, the fear that grew larger with each subsequent death, (And that is perhaps true for all of us when we lose both of our parents, BTW I've got the book, Death Benefits, it's been helpful, thanks), has finally come to pass and in a very important, real, and primary way I am now truly an orphan and feel more alone than I can possibly attempt to describe to you.

I have a son. I have a lover. I have friends who remember me. But my first family is gone. Wiped off the face of the earth. And there isn’t anyone left who can answer my questions or tell me what I might have been doing on a certain date, or explain why we went somewhere at some particular time, or where this piece of furniture came from, or why something might have held some particular meaning for my Mom or my Dad. If I feel sad I want to reach for the phone to call my Mother. If something sweet or funny happens I want to pick up the phone to tell her. And I can’t. And it hurts. It hurts so much. And I am alone in this. I have been given the gift of a healed relationship with one of my Mother’s best friends with whom I can share some of this grief. And I have been given the gift of some much older women who have stepped forward to offer me some comfort and advice and I do not take these gifts lightly or for granted but Christ Almighty have I been hurting.

My Mother was more like a husband to me than any man was and I feel ripped to pieces, so lost at sea without her. The freedom from this endless childhood that I thought would come with her passing is bringing gifts along with it, but this transition is mind blowingly painful and I don’t want to impose this suffering I am going through on anyone. So I act the way my Mother would. I get up and put one foot in front of the other and do things. I walk through my days getting painfully difficult things done. I take it, “one day at a time,” and somehow it becomes manageable and I make my way through this, but I don’t know how, I don’t remember how I got from A to B. I don’t remember how I spent a week. I struggle with time as always, and am often unaware of what day or date it is. I lose things over and over again and have to retrace my steps in order to find simple basic things like my wallet and my keys that I am constantly losing.
I have traveled through stages of feeling, none of it linear in a way that Kubler Ross would have me believe, although I look for the signs, road maps, anything to help lead the way down this painful twisting path. I want to breathe again, but breathing is dangerous, breathing connects with feeling, and I am afraid the feeling will spill over like the Stone Canyon reservoir that sits at the top of my Mother’s street, sweeping away everything in its path. I am afraid to allow myself to really feel because I feel so much and wonder if once I open the floodgates, if it will ever subside, if I will survive the flood, so I let it out in small polite bursts like a child playing with helium inside a party balloon.

I tell everyone about it, repeating the story again and again to strangers, as if doing this will help some part of accept that this is real, telling anyone who will listen, “My Mother has died.” Everyone understands what this feels like. Everyone has lost someone they loved. Someone will understand. And they do. And it helps. It helps to talk to strangers and daily acquaintances. It helps to accept their sympathy. But then sometimes it makes me angry too. I get angry when well meaning people say, “How old was she?” and then dismiss my grief due to her advanced age.

I know they/you/everyone means well and I am grateful for every exchange I am lucky enough to have with anyone who cares enough to try to say something comforting. I am seriously appreciative and grateful. I know that my grief is so small by comparison with the suffering of others and I am blessed to be able to reach out and find ways to get any kind of comfort through an exchange of words and feelings, any kind of contact with another human being. But as irrational as it is, and as often as I have said these very same words myself in an attempt to comfort someone else, I get angry when people tell me how lucky I was to have had her for so long. Angry when people tell me to be grateful that she is no longer suffering. Angry when they tell me she is in a “better place”. Angry when they tell me that she would want me to move on and be happy. Angry when I am told to remember the good and discard the bad. Angry when I am reminded to celebrate a life so well lived. Angry. And sad. And then angry and sad again, and again, and again. Which finally brings me to this; Yes, time does heal all. In some cases it may take a lot of time to dull the sharp ragged edges of the deepest of wounds, but time does indeed heal. However it is nature that I have found to be the most healing; the tiniest most often overlooked and most commonplace events in nature have brought me the greatest comfort and joy.

I realized this tonight as I was following the sound of a dog barking, followed it out into the dusky shadowed green garden of this hotel where I am staying. (I have been doing a lot of this lately, running away to very local hotels to escape the tremendously daunting tasks I am faced with at home.) I followed the sound of a dog I wanted to meet and interact with, because animals make me happy. For me it’s a simple act of instinct to drop everything I am doing in an instant and follow the sound of a dog, cat, bird, or anything that crawls or buzzes by. So I followed the barking dog and never found it, but I did find a small garden filled with fruit trees. Trees so ripe with fruit that their branches are almost touching the ground. Trees so ripe with fruit that the weakest fruits are being pushed off the braches by the stronger ones, creating a line of small unripe fruit along the edge of this pathway that is filled with ants who are busily working to disassemble these plums, apricots, and whatever other sweet round and juicy things are growing out there, to take back to feed their community.

The sound of a dog, the fruit on a tree, a long line of ants; Nature reminded me that life moves on, life continues despite loss, grief and tragedy, and it is still beautiful and rich, still full of hope and possibility, and so the thought that finally brought me here tonight was that sometimes the smallest and simplest of things are the most beautiful, the most rewarding, the most healing. They won’t bring my Mother back, but they remind me that I am grateful and lucky to be alive, to be here living in this very moment. They remind me to continue to be alive and present to the right now. So that when we are hurting all we ever really have to do is go outside and watch the path of a snail as it makes it’s way along the ground or look up and watch the clouds pass by.

On my street there are roses blooming. By my porch there is a thick wall of jasmine, and around the corner there is a bank of sweet peas. At my Mother’s house, the house where I grew up that holds so many memories, but that I am being forced to sell in order to pay 45% estate taxes to the government, there is a small birds nest tucked up beneath the roof of her front porch, and there is a mama bird who sits so patiently and sweetly, watching me so closely each time I pass by. Then just the other day I saw tiny yellow beaks and fuzzy bald heads popping up, waiting for their parents to come back with food. I saw the hummingbirds that always remind me of my Father, the lizards that have lived in our garden for as long as I can remember, a big orange butterfly, and the deep fuchsia colored bougainvillea that my parents loved so much is in bloom again. So for me nature is the answer, nature and remaining open to the many meaningful possibilities in each present moment. And if you are lucky enough to live anywhere near the ocean, there is always the tremendously healing power of the sea.

Love You,

PS: Just now there was a knock at my door. The manager, Makena, (Named after one of my favorite dive spots in Maui), with whom I had just been speaking about the fruit trees, sent a complimentary slice of their amazing chocolate cake, a pot of hot tea, and a condolence card. There is so much kindness, loveliness, and light in the midst of the darkness, the sadness and the pain, and I am constantly being reminded of this. I wanted you to know this.

PPS: Today is Scott’s birthday. He could use some love too. XOX
Bambi by Peace_Icons

Happy Mother's Day

Thank you all so very much for your kind comments. You're the best. I'm too overwhelmed and weary to respond, I just want you all to know how much I love you, and how much your comments mean to me.

I'm so sorry for all of you who understand what this is like. I mean I know that life is a giant exercise in learning compassion through experience, but I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It's so raw and painful, and it doesn't matter how old your loved one is, or how sick they were, you just aren't prepared, or at least I wasn't, I think we all think we're going to have just a little more time.

I've been holding the feelings, oh, just a wee bit at bay by keeping myself wound up and overly busy planning her service and the "party" at the club afterwards. But I had this huge grief hiccup today when Scott dropped me off at the bank to make a deposit. I had been driving but there weren't any spaces so we switched seats so he'd be able to drive around the block if anyone pulled in behind him. I was only alone for a minute or so, but standing there waiting, without any real distraction, or the drugs I take at night, (Vicodin, Celebrex, and Skelaxin for the pain, and super low doses of illegal Mexican Valium for the feelings), meant I had time to think and just be there in the moment.

An older man crossed in front of me and I immediately felt this sense of warmth and love for him. I really love older people, I think I always have, except for maybe a brief time in high school when I was utterly lacking in compassion for my wonderful Grandmother. Anyway this man looked a little bit like my Dad, he was wearing a short sleeved shirt and I saw his arms as he passed by, those beautiful tanned thin skinned and freckled arms that older people have. To me, of course, they are beautiful, because they are the arms of my parents, the arms of the people I love the most. So naturally I thought of my Father with his tanned and sun damaged arms from years of playing golf, and then suddenly I flashed on my Mom's arms, those arms I know so well, and her hands, and her pretty long nails that she was so proud of, and having such a visceral memory of her just hit me so hard. Like a punch in the gut there was this pain, this incredible pain and I started crying. The thought that I would never ever see her arms again, or her fingernails, never hold her hand, even though we were both so shy about this because she couldn't handle the intimacy for too long. And I remembered that I was planning to have this lady from her hair salon come give her a manicure in the hospital but she just kept getting sicker, and I remembered that one of her nails was cracked and needed patching and I put a Band-Aid on it for her, like you would put one on a little girl. Her arms, her beautiful arms. And I remembered filing her nail for her because she couldn't do it herself, and it felt so good to be able to do this one simple thing for her, to do it perfectly, better than anyone, to make it smooth so that it wouldn't bother her any more.

My Mother's arms, and her hands; I just lost it. So by the time Scott made it around the block and back I was in tears, and he hasn't seen me like this too much because I've been holding it all in. And even then I buttoned it back up as best I could because it's too much, too much for anyone else, and way too much for me, but it just kept coming, bubbling up and spilling over, so I put my big dark glasses on like some glammy widow at a funeral. Sunglasses at night to go to the market. But I just couldn't handle anyone seeing me feeling this way, I wanted to hide like the kid at the bakery who wears his bangs so long and when I tried to brush them back off his face I got that he wears them that way on purpose. He feels safer behind them.

And just now Ziggy, (Iggy Ziggy Stardust Kitty), came and sprayed me and my pillow. Ya know, when life gets too painful, it's these absurd things that make you think, "Ya just gotta laugh." I'm laughing alright, laughing through the tears.

I managed to get a lot done today, rushing here and there, trying to attack the mountain of phone calls I have to make on my cell while driving. I went to the club and planned the food. Appetizers, hot and cold to be passed out by waiters, mini hamburgers, (Mom wasn't a vegetarian and it wouldn't be right to impose this on her friends), crab cakes, chicken tacos, shrimp, quiche, quesadillas, potato skins with sour cream and caviar because my Mother so loved caviar, (I was buying it for her in the end just to try to get her to eat anything other than chocolate ice cream, she never lost her appetite for that), a desert station and a full bar. I ordered the valet parkers, called the musicians, (A Hawaiian ukulele player and his band, Hawaiian songs from the thirties and forties with a dash of Gershwin and Cole Porter thrown in), the florist, the videographer, and the photographer who turned out to be an old friend of the family.

I still need to finish writing her eulogy, keep making those phone calls, take Mom's urn to the mortuary and pick up her ashes, fun, find musicians for the church, meet with Father Doney to select the readings, clean all of the antique Victorian and Edwardian mourning jewelry that I bought to give to Mom's closest friends, except for Jani who thinks a lock of her hair is too "ghoulish" (Weird, I never expected that from her, especially because she asked me for her own little ash container to bury in her garden, I was thinking of getting some cremation jewelry for myself, little mini container things you can put a token amount of ashes in to wear -- maybe I am getting too morbid here, I don't know, I find it comforting though, death doesn't freak me out that much, Mom is mom, her hair is still her hair, I held her hand for hours after she died, kissed her face, brushed her hair, it was so hard to let go, to leave her behind, to accept that her body was empty in some way and wouldn't be breathing again), scan and print all of the pictures of Mom and my family and her friends that I want to arrange on the black poster board we are going to put on easels around the club, and I still have to take Esther and Andrea and Concha shopping because they can't go to my Mom's funeral in sweat pants or shorts.

Scott came in the afternoon and was a big help. We picked up his suit, and finally got Beau fitted for his. He would have put it off forever if I let him but we couldn't wait a single day longer and so he simply had to go. We picked out conservative shirts, somber ties, a pair of dress shoes and cufflinks. I gave all of my Father's and Grandfather's better cufflinks to my ex. It never occurred to me that I should have kept some for Beau. It seems to me that my Mom has a jewelry box of my Father's in her room at home but whatever was there that was of any value has long ago been picked over by greedy housekeepers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one day some strange alchemy happened that returned everything that had ever been stolen to its rightful owner, and it happened all at once, with little tags attached to everything bearing descriptions of all of the places where your missing items have been all this time?

And now one of the cats is throwing up, probably just a hairball, or one too many Whiskas. I'll keep an eye on him. Just one more thing to worry about. The cats remind me of babies sometimes. Babies just keep on needing. They don't stop needing to be fed, burped, changed, rocked, comforted, fed, burped, and changed again just because you're in crisis. They go on living, oblivious to the needs of anyone else around them. My cats are a little more self sufficient and sensitive, they'll come and cuddle up with me or even pat my face when I'm crying, but you get the point. Life goes on. In the midst of all of this the cats still piss and shit and puke. It's actually kind of nice.

My Mom's obituary will be in The Los Angeles Times today. If you don't live in LA you can read it on their Legacy page but it was so long in print that they've truncated it on line so I'm going to post it in it's entirety here behind the cut for anyone who might be interested.

I seriously need to get some rest, but for once I got to stay up late without having to feel guilty, which has been kind of nice.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone. It's also Beau's EIGHTEENTH birthday, if you can believe that, wow!

Love You,

Mom's Obituary Is HereCollapse )
Votive by ch-photoshopped

Mom Passed Away

Jeannette Hunt Hyland

Jeannette Hunt Hyland
July 31, 1916 -- April 25, 2008

Hi Everybody,

I just haven't been able to bring myself to write. Somehow it's harder to share this information with compassionate friends like you than with strangers. I haven't had the time or energy to reach out to any of my friends, or at least not until the day before yesterday when I finally called my friend Susan and told her.

My Mom passed away Friday the 25 at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica. I am grateful to have been there with her, to have been cradling her head in my arms, kissing her forehead and holding her hands, but it wasn't a good death. She was in pain and things were terribly mishandled.

I know that the doctors and nurses were doing the best that they knew how, but I will save the big bad conversation about how I think there is a corporate insurance led genocide of the elderly going on in this country that we can and must not ignore. Call after call made to my Mother's friends, who are mostly in their late eighties and early nineties, produced similar horror stories from suffering family members, good people who are tearing their hair out trying to get the care that their parents need and deserve. I feel as if all of these many hospital visits succeeded in killing my Mother rather than prolonging her life, but again, I want to reserve this conversation for another time when I am certain that this is not just one of the many stages of my grief talking.

My Mother's services will be held next Thursday the 15 at Saint Martin of Tours Church in Brentwood. Mary, Jenny, Maria, Michael and Monique, if any of you are out there and reading this we would so love to have you come. There will be a celebration of her life afterwards at the club. Let me know so I can add you to the count, you're welcome to bring a companion. Dress for the club is somewhat formal, dresses or suits for women, suits or coats and ties for the men.

I'm trying to find a rocking good Southern Baptist type of choir to use in our Catholic church. As really good as they are I just can't bear to have this pretty and super gifted but somewhat over mannered soprano and her organist friend who regularly perform at mass, play for Mom's service, not when we are a family of musicians, not when Beau and Scott play guitar and all three of us can sing. I sang at my Grandmother's funeral but just couldn't do it for my Dad and everyone complained, so I will try to sing for my Mom, but I will need serious backing, a rocking good choir would help with this. Mom wouldn't want sad music anyway, something cheerful and uplifting would please her.

For the club I'm looking for a good ukulele player to play some Hawaiian tunes. Mom actually played the ukulele. She took lessons in Hawaii in the 1930's and would always play little songs for me. After she died, we stayed by her side for about three hours, and one of the things we did for her, and for us, was to sing whatever Hawaiian songs we could remember by heart. We also had a priest come and together we formed a circle over her body, said prayers and were asked to share memories about the kind of person my Mother was/is.

I believe that a person's spirit remains present and near their body and loved ones until they are laid to rest, and then can move on or return at will. This is a kind of Rosicrucian take on the whole thing. I also believe that they can come and visit us in our dreams. I asked my Mother to come and visit me in mine and she has and it was beautiful and healing. In my dream she was so much younger and just so beautiful. We were standing in the hallway of her home going through the many racks of clothes I have so lovingly collected for her and for my Grandmother. She had a hard time appreciating my doing this for her in life as she considered it wasteful in terms of money, but I know she was secretly pleased that I cared so much about her past. In the dream she was appreciative and sisterly. We were looking through the dresses together, admiring them happily and trying to choose the prettiest one for her to wear to a party she was about to go to. The most remarkable thing about the dream to me, something I didn't understand until later, was that her face seemed so different, angelic even. Later I understood that what was so different about her face was that it was totally free of the anxiety that had plagued so much of her later life. Sadly I think this was due to a benign tumor located in an area of the brain known for causing anxiety and impatience.

I have also seen several hummingbirds and a big beautiful moth. But I am looking for signs, attributing superhuman qualities to ordinary natural events, in order to comfort myself in my grief and loneliness.

When it became apparent to me that my Mother was really dying I held her and told her that she didn't need to hang on, that she could go and that I would take care of Beau and Rosa and her house. I told her that I would be okay without her. I told her how much I loved her, how grateful I was to her for everything she had done for me for all of my life. I told her what a good person she was, how beautiful she was, how loved she was, what a good Mother she had been. I asked for her forgiveness. I did everything a daughter could do. It was very similar to the way that my Father died. I kissed his feet. I kissed her feet. And in each case, as they began dying, their feet and hands turned purple. The moment I noticed that my Mother's fingers were turning purple was the moment that I truly understood that she was dying. I still cannot understand what the many doctors and nurses who she had could not tell me this, could not help prepare me, guide me, or help me understand what was happening so that I could have planned our time better, made better decisions. Again, these are things better left for another time as they hurt too much to discuss and ultimately since I do believe that everything happens as it is meant to, there wouldn't have been too much that I could have done differently anyway, as these were the experiences we were meant to have, the lessons we are meant to learn and grow from.

At the same time that I was doing this, trying to make my Mother's transition as peaceful and loving as possible, Rosa was shrieking and ranting, coming in and out of the room, finally throwing herself down on the floor by Mom's hospital bed screaming, "Don't go Missy Hyland! Don't Go! Don't Go! " It was horrible. We were such a study in contrasts, the difference between our cultures, our ways of grieving, our degrees of selfishness and selflessness so apparent to anyone who witnessed this. There is so much more I want to say but I just can't, I don't want to mar the memory of my beloved Mother by muddying this up with tales of Rosa. I want to be compassionate and kind to her, despite everything. I want to move on. I can always write more about the events of that night later.

Some beautiful things have come out of this. I was able to reunite with my Mother's ex-husband and his wife. I called to tell him about my Mom's passing, learned that he was in the hospital himself and sent him some flowers from Mom and me. She would have liked this. When he got out he invited me to come over to his home to meet him and look through old photographs. He gave me some. This kind of thing is priceless to me. Plus I was able to help heal an old wound, the wound my Mother caused when she left him.

I told him that she had always loved him, that she had passed this love on to me. How else could I possibly know so much about him, his likes and dislikes, his sun sign, etc.? I told him that I thought that they were too much alike, too fiery and passionate, and that despite this she had always wanted the best for him and was happy for him when he married his wife Freida, she liked Freida a lot, Freida who incidentally is descended from Hawaiian royalty.

It felt good to tell him this, and it felt especially good to visit his home. My Mother was a serious Lookey Loo, she loved peeking inside people's houses, it was true passion of hers, and I just know how much she would have loved to have been able to peek into the life of her ex-husband, to see how he had turned out more closely, to see how he lived. I felt as if she was there with me, peeking over my shoulder.

I've also been speaking with so many of her friends, trying to be a comfort to them, while they try to comfort me. One of my favorites is Rowena Willis, Senator John McCain's Mother's identical twin sister. She loves to talk and we have been friendly through the years. I like to sit and listen to her tell her stories about the old days. She is an amazing woman, has led a wonderful, rich and fascinating life and she doesn't have a lot of friends who she can comfortably and safely talk to. Roberta, her sister, is of course busy with the campaign and won't be able to come to Mom's funeral, but I think of her often because my Mom spoke about her so much. She has my Grandmother's best English tea service in her home in D.C. Mom didn't think she'd ever entertain on that scale again and sold it to her. I'm rambling as usual, but it helps... Here's a link to a sweet story about my friend Rowena that appeared in the New York Times.

My Mother's obituary, apparently the longest paid obituary that any of the editors can ever remember receiving, will appear in this Sunday's copy of the times. I'll post it here later and link to her legacy page when it's up. It would have cost $17,000.00 dollars to include her photograph, there's just no way on earth that we could afford that, so I went with a text only obituary.

I have so much to do, so much to take care of before her service, and this is a blessing in that this act of ritual keeps me busy and preoccupied. It's those unexpected moments that come out of nowhere that stab me in my heart and leave me wanting to cry out for my Mother. I was driving home the other day and saw a billboard that said something like, "You want to keep your family together," I don't know what that was about but it felt as if it was a message meant just for me. I wonder how many other people thought the same thing. While buying some clothes for Beau to wear to the funeral I glanced down at the counter and saw this little hand drawn sign that said, "Remember Your Mom." Obviously this was referring to Mother's Day, but in a men's store? Again, it felt like a message to me.

Then there are the other things, things people say that pinch my aching heart, things like, Susan, (The unbelievably helpful and well balanced CNA who we hired just before Rosa ran off on her supposed medically necessary trip to Guatemala that turned out to be an emergency three week house buying vacation as she obviously felt the need to have the purchase date of her home precede the death of my Mother, so she could later sue us in court saying that it had been promised to her, you watch, it'll happen), absentmindedly saying to me in that very direct and plain way she has of speaking, "Anyway your Mother is not here anymore. She is not here. She is gone." Hearing her say this at my Mom's house, while it was said in some practical way, referring innocuously to something, just tore at my heart, "My Mother is not here any more."

One of the young men at my local Mailboxes Etc. store said, "Hi Hyland," to me on the phone yesterday by mistake and it started off an unexpected flood of tears. I think I scared him. He knows my name is Jacqui but he was busy and since I had said, "Hi, it's me, Jacqui, Jacqui Hyland," he got kind of flustered and tongue tied and ended up simply using my last name to address me. It was the significance of my being called this, Hyland, a Hyland, I am the last of the Hyland's, and this kills me. As an adopted person with the usual adopted person's sort of issues, I've spent my entire life trying to fit in, to feel as if I belong, being called Hyland, particularly now felt so validating, and then so poignant in light of the fact that there isn't anyone left to carry on our name. I am essentially an adult orphan. And yes I did see the article in The Times and ordered the book from Amazon, Death Benefits.

I've been buying Victorian Mourning Jewelry on eBay to give as gifts to Mom's closest friends and employees. I saved locks of her hair especially for this. The Victorians were sentimental and following Queen Victoria's lead, who mourned the death of her beloved husband Albert for the rest of her life by wearing black, they had prescribed periods of mourning and dress. Simple black and gold jewelry, lockets with a place for a photograph, and a place for a woven bit of hair, were common. I am hoping to get them in time so I can clean them up and put photos of Mom and locks of her hair in them. I hope people won't find this offensive and become squeamish. I find it comforting.

Beau's eighteenth birthday is Sunday, which also happens to be Mother's Day. This sucks for Beau. I don't know what to do for him to make it better. My Grandfather died a day or two before an important birthday of mine and while I understood that my Mother just couldn't face doing anything for me other than to hand me a bunch of money and tell me to go shop for myself in Westwood, and I adored my Grandfather, it made the sadness I was feeling somehow worse. This reminds me of Jackie Kennedy who went ahead and had a birthday party for her son John Jr. the day of his Father's funeral. If she could do that I can muster up some birthday spirit for Beau. I just haven't been able to think of much because his interests have changed so much as he's gotten older. There really isn't anything that he wants or needs. He's too old for balloons and cake and anything else he needs he pretty much gets anyway, so I'm at a loss...

Meanwhile there is still so much to do; So many calls to make, so many people to inform, priests to contact, readings to select, a choir to choose, flowers, food, photographs to scan and copy, something to pass out at the service, musicians for the celebration at the club, little gifts to select from among her personal things to give to her closest friends, I haven't colored or cut my own hair or Beau's in so many months we are beginning to look like we dwell in caves. Which seems apropos since this is how I have been feeling lately. All I want to do is crawl into bed and bury myself under the covers but as an only child, and the only person in my Mother's life who is willing and capable of making any of these decisions or doing any of this work, it's a lot to handle. People offer to help but I describe what I'd really like, for them to look for any photographs of my Mother to copy and share with me, or for them to write down any memory, it's clear just how hard this is for them to do.

I can't believe that I am writing any of this. It feels so unreal, as if I am walking through some kind of bad and confusing dream, going through the motions, dazed and shocky, unable to function properly, slow and thick as if I am moving through honey or molasses.

Okay, well that's enough for tonight. I just wanted to break the ice and write something down here. I couldn't go on any longer without sharing this.

Love You,

(no subject)

I'm so tired I don't know where to begin, and I feel guilty for taking the time to write anything here. My Mom is back in the hospital again, her third time in less than two months. It's been a long, hard road. I do my best to remain positive and strong for her and for her staff and friends, but when I'm alone I feel so sad and lost, like a little girl without a Mother, which is essentially what is happening, in a way.

Mom At the Arboretum
This is a picture of my Mother when she was a little girl. Isn't she cute? I don't know who the young woman is who is with her. It doesn't look like my Grandmother and if you click on the picture you can get a much bigger version of this where you'll see another woman sitting just to the left of the frame, that might be my great-grandmother who I have never seen a picture of. I took all of these very old negatives from 1916 through 1930 to the photo store to have them printed and scanned. It was like opening a window into the past. I was so overjoyed when I saw them that I started to cry. Someone in the store said it was a real Kodak Moment.

Rosa, her housekeeper, who she has come to depend so heavily upon, is back from her emergency vacation, the one that made it impossible for me to take three days off to go to Artfest, and left us completely helpless with regard to Mom's wants and needs. Poor Mom. But it was her decision to allow Rosa to take over everything a little bit at a time over the course of many years and my Mom is a feisty independent little bee and there was nothing I could do except look the other way as Rosa helped herself to so many things that don't belong to her, and at the same time be grateful to her for being willing to put up with my Mother's very demanding ways.

My Mom Around Christmas In LA
This is a picture of my Mommy as a child sitting on the front porch of her house. My Granny made all of her clothes and she appears to be reading a copy of the Night Before Christmas. When she saw the picture she said that my Grandmother used to cut her bangs like that and curl her hair with an old fashioned curling iron that she used to put on the stove. She hated having her hair done but was never allowed to leave the house without looking perfect and is still this way even now. When the paramedics came to take her to the hospital several weeks ago she asked if she could please brush her hair first.

If you click on any of these pictures and make your way to my main page there is also a picture of my Mom aboard the S. S. Morro Castle at age fourteen standing in a bathing suit surrounded by what I can only guess are some male admirers. Grandma took her on her first big trip that year. They went to New Orleans by train, then to Chicago and New York to buy fabric and lace for Granny's dress manufacturing business. From New York they took the Morro Castle to Havana where they had a lot of fun drinking and gambling as this was during prohibition when of course drinking was prohibited. If you don't know much about the Morro Castle, it was one of our greatest maritime disasters next in line to The Titanic, somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty people burned to death and/or were drowned off the coast of New Jersey in 1934. This tragedy was responsible for many of the fire and safety regulations that are now in place whenever you sail on a modern cruise ship. I haven't tagged the picture or put it up here because it isn't edited yet and I'm not sure what to do with it as photos of people aboard The Morro Castle are quite rare. It only sailed for about four years before the fire at sea.

I adore my Mom; she is intelligent, funny, generous -- when she wants to be -- spry, witty and very beautiful. Her life history is fascinating. Her friends are amazing. I am endlessly bottomlessly grateful to her for everything she has done for my son and for me. But she can be a bit, well, demanding. I think it's because of the OCD and the anxiety, well, that and the fact that she is a born leader, a real leonine Leo who ran a large business, and maintained a lavish lifestyle and a fabulous home for many years. She is used to hiring people and telling them what to do, not so good at firing. But then neither am I. We're both too soft hearted in this regard.

In any case, all sins aside, I am grateful to Rosa for having worked her butt off doing what I never would have had the stamina or the patience to do, and that is to have been taking care of my Mom's needs on a twenty-four hour a day basis. This isn't entirely true as I have now learned how often she was leaving my Mother alone, and then there's the fact that she doesn't have the common sense to know not to cough on an elderly patient with a super weakened immune system, and thereby gave her the virus that led to the pneumonia that weakened her heart, etc., etc., but Mom could have easily picked this up anywhere and to be fair she herself made the decision to have Rosa remain with her despite all of our pleas and warnings.

I know you must think I am remiss in not having replaced Rosa, but I am not in the position to do so, and Mom does not want this. All I can do is to hire another person to stay beside her so that I am certain she is getting the care she needs, and it was only recently that I had the ability to do this, as it costs a fortune to pay for caregivers. Now that my Mom is finally surrendering some control over her finances to me I can go ahead and get her the care she has been needing for so long.

Even now my Mother's secretary is so fooled by Rosa, as is everyone else, (Man, this woman should have been an actress, yesterday in trying to get the message across to me that she will need me to make sure she is well provided for when my Mom passes away, she said, "All I will have in the world is my little house in Guatemala and my memories of Missy Hyland." If she'd ever seen the little Gorey animation that used to play at the beginning of the Mystery series on PBS she would probably have added the gesture of a weak hand fluttering to the forehead before fainting.), that she thought I should release Susan and that Rosa's care would suffice.

Are you kidding? She can't even read the labels on her many prescription bottles, and I have now taken over completely, (Which she resents no end, as could be evidenced by her trying to tell me yesterday that she knows things about my Mother's life, about boyfriends she had, that she will never reveal to me, secrets she will keep to her grave, grand hand gesture to the heart and bow. Oh please. I have been the ultimate gatherer of my Mother's life stories for my entire adult life. I could sit here right now and tell you in detail the names of every beau she ever had, ay Rosa, but I don't have the time), am now insisting that she only give her the meds that I carefully separate into compartments in a weekly Morning, Noon, Evening, and Bedtime, reminder box.

The day before yesterday, the only day Susan has had off in over three weeks, Rosa couldn't find the Vicodin that we have clearly labeled in big printed letters, and set beside Mom's bed, and had to reluctantly call me to ask me to describe the bottle to her. Ay, yay, yay. It's madness.

Just returning my Mom's many phone calls and contacting all of her doctors, nurses, and therapists takes up the better part of every morning, and I still have my own home to run, a child to provide for and drive around. Then it's off to wherever my Mom is, whether it's home or at a hospital, having done whatever many errands she has asked me to do on the way.

The one consolation I have in all of this is that I know I am being given an opportunity to demonstrate to my Mother how very much I love her. I am being given an opportunity to love and be loving to my Mother with every ounce of energy I have left to me. Whether she sees this, or even values this or not, doesn't really matter. I will know that I did right by her and that I did the best I could for her. If all she sees in me is a crazy girl who spends too much money on animals, acts of charity, and collecting her vintage dresses on eBay, well, then it's too late now. She'll have to come to know me better in the afterlife.

I do know how much she loves me and trusts me. Yesterday she signed over power of attorney to me, but out of respect for her I will not go against the wishes of her lawyer and her secretary. I will always do as I think she would have wanted me to, even if I disagree. So ultimately Rosa will have more than my Mother has left her, (My Mom's concept of what money will buy you, was frozen somewhere in the late fifties), I will do what I can to help her pay for her house in Guatemala.

Mom's doctors, the charge nurse on Mom's floor at UCLA, her caregiver Susan, her tenant Evelyn, the UCLA nurses and physical therapists who come to visit her at home, the paramedics, all of these people were so outraged when they learned that Mom had been left alone, while Rosa supposedly went to the doctor, have told me that they think I should fire her. You tell me I should fire her. But Mom doesn't want me to fire her. It still rankles that she could have left my Mom alone like that, weak and helpless. She couldn't tell us this, that she suddenly needed to go to the doctor? Couldn't call and ask me to come and watch Mom while she went out? Apparently not.

Well, no worries, this will never happen again, that's for certain, she won't be leaving Mom alone anymore, and I've got Susan and I am there constantly to monitor everything. And this might be the real reason for the mopey sad face, this and the fact that I am no longer filling Mom's wallet with five one hundred dollar bills on a weekly basis. That boat sailed when Rosa left for Guatemala. Now we have a petty cash envelope and we are checking everything against receipts. A truly good plan invented by Mom's secretary Tina. I imagine this means Rosa will now be getting about two hundred dollars a week less than she was getting before.

And despite all of this, I am still such a schmo that late last night, as Rosa, (Who ruined my chances of being able to go on my own trip to Artfest that I had been planning for since September), walked me to my car saying that all she has left to live on after the many expenses of her trip was forty dollars, I reached into my wallet and gave her one of the two remaining hundred dollar bills I have budgeted for myself to live on until next Thursday. And that is why I am saying, ay, yay, yay, yay, yay Rosa. Which if you are unfamiliar with Spanish would sound something like eye, eye, eye, eye Rosa. Watch an old episode of I Love Lucy, you'll get it.

One bright moment of loveliness in all of this came when her new-ish caregiver Susan said to me, "Jacqui, for three weeks now I have been watching you. I keep thinking this is not the Jacqui I have heard about. They are different people. You are not this crazy Jacqui they are talking about when they play bridge. You are sweet. I have been taking care of sick people how many years now? I am old. I have seen many people with their Mothers. Everyone loves their Mom. But you are number one. You are unique. You are special. Your Mom is so lucky. Never I have seen a daughter take such good care of her Mom. That is why I am always telling her this."

You might be able to understand how very much this meant to me, to hear this from someone whose knowledge of me previously was solely based on gossip and hearsay, to receive validation from someone just a little bit outside of her circle. It's certainly kinder and more rewarding than the words of my Mom's friend Jani, who I have always loved but who has never seemed to think much of me. When I told her I was taking care of everything she said, "It really seems like the blind leading the blind." Nice. And this is what she is willing to say to my face. Ahhh life. Acceptance. Working on that. Always working on that.

Now I'm going to take a shower, finally, (Or a bath since the shower is usually the hospital for whatever ailing rescued animal we have most recently brought home from the vet), and then I have a gazillion errands before going to stay for a good long while with Mom. Right now she's just had an IV shot of Dilaudid and won't be too lucid for a while. My yakking away beside her just makes her nervous so I'll wait until she's feeling better. Meanwhile I have to take a copy of this auction and fax it to my Mother's and my dear eighty-something-year-old, (Could be ninety, they all keep their ages a bit of a mystery the sweethearts), friend, who had no idea that an antique bed of hers that she sold to an unscrupulous dealer for a song, was being resold for a whopping one-hundred-and-thirty-three thousand dollars on eBay. Guess they never counted on her having a friend who might have stumbled across it on eBay. I tell you, people who take advantage of older people make my blood boil hot enough for a confectioner to make a good hard candy with it.

I Love You, and Remain Ever-Grateful, Even Though I Haven't Been Able To Respond Personally,

PS: You know, I am so angry, weary, and cynical with regard to Rosa and the tremendous damage she has done to my relationship with my Mom, due to her jealousy, over all of these years that it's hard for me to admit that I do think she loves my Mom in some way. I do appreciate this, despite everything.

Latest Headshot
PPS: I had my headshots scanned, finally, but they did a pretty funky job, they look really grainy and they're small. I just don't have the energy to go back, have to complain to make it all right -- I hate complaining or returning anything -- and then leave the negatives and have one more errand to run, argh. But I need a recent headshot for my IMDB page. I also need to update my credits, only some of them are there, and they're kind of mixed up. Plus they've asked me to upload my resume, argh, ackitty, ack.

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Vintage Birthday Card '08

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.

My Third Birthday
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.

Mom Smoking On Her Anniversary

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 : )

Love You,

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.

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Mom At Easter, Careless Caregivers, Passing Up On Artfest : (

mom hospital 3-23-08

Hi Everyone,

Mom is still in the hospital. She has pneumonia and COPD as well as diabetes and congestive heart failure, and this on top of the cancer and the brain tumour. And she's so sweet still has that twinkle in her eye the most beautiful smile and that wicked sense of humor. It's heartbreaking.

I don't know when she'll get out. I pray she'll get out. Every day I talk to about three different doctors and nurses. Each day we hope she'll get well enough to come home but then her heart rate will set off alarms and bring people running into her room or her blood sugar will be sky high. And the cough, the cough that won't stop and turns her face purple. When she can't breathe it's terrifying, and she's so helpless, and I can't do anything but hold her hand and try to help her calm down and breathe. She's always been such a "good little soldier." I felt so bad for talking her into letting them suction her airway yesterday, because I knew it was going to hurt and frighten her, but they really needed to do it.

Her new caregiver Susan sits by her side all day while I run around doing her errands and organizing things for her before coming in to visit. Today I finally got a geriatric psychiatrist to come in to evaluate her. Her primary doctor has been trying to get her to go to a psychiatrist for her anxiety and OCD for years and years but she just gets offended and says, "I'm not crazy." She doesn't understand psychiatry or therapy. She thinks that having to seek this kind of help is a kind of giving in, admitting to madness. So there's no way I will ever get her to go in to see a psychiatrist, but the one benefit of having her stuck in the hospital is that I can finally get one to come see her. Woo hoo, antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds here we come.

Now, finally, after years of this stress she is going to get the medication that she needs to help calm her down and relieve her anxiety. And as an added side benefit this will make life easier for all of us. Believe me, it can be exhausting dealing with a Mama who worries herself sick all the time. She literally worries herself sick, and honestly, she worries us sick as well. She tends to perseverate on negative things and constantly focuses on worst case scenarios. All my life we have been on the verge of one crisis or another. First it was the communists, then when The Russians weren't going to somehow infiltrate our government (through Jews using the media) seize our homes, and force us all to live in our closets, (I am not kidding you about this), then anyone that lived in the poorer parts of Los Angeles were going to riot and take our homes by storm. My Father would regularly take all of his guns out of his gun cabinet and clean them in front of me because he had to keep them in good working order for the day when he would need to defend our home with them.

Now she worries that I will give all of her hard earned money away and neglect to take care of my own son, ending up homeless, wandering the streets of Los Angeles with a shopping card filled with cats. She has to plan for every eventuality, figure it all out from every angle, saving every nickel for this sad paranoid fantasy, without every seeing how her having hung on so tight to all of this control of money is the very thing that caused me to be so generous in the first place. Seeing her refuse to tip a valet parker, or a waiter more than ten percent because the bill was too expensive, while buying seven hundred dollar shoes, is enough to make anyone want to stuff hundred dollar bills into strangers pockets. I don't need to have seen Pay It Forward or watch Oprah's Big Give to be the kind of person who wants to do this. I just need to be the daughter of well meaning, hard working, but very paranoid parents who lived through The Great Depression and WWII. And I don't fault them. I admire them. But I get more out of giving than I do from receiving, it fills my life with joy, and it is possible to be generous without being foolhardy at the same time.

Getting back to my Mother's psychiatric needs for a moment, there is also this incessant need that she has for us to constantly rearrange everything around her because she can't get up to do it herself, and everything has to precise, it all has to be just so. She seriously cannot handle any kind of disorder, none at all, everything has to be neat and tidy, perfect all the time, or she'll work herself up into a frenzy. And she cannot let go of whatever it is she is focused on until someone, usually me, rearranges whatever that thing is that is bothering her. Picture frames have to be hung and rehung, lamps, vases, knick knacks moved. Beds remade, blankets folded, clothes arranged by color and season. If there is any kind of clutter she gets frustrated, irritated, then angry, and her heart rate goes up.

I mean there she was at home slumped over in a chair with a raging fever, and she's making us move plants and statues on her mantle piece -- a quarter of an inch to the left, then back to the right, then over to the left and rotate. It's been like this my whole life, but when she was healthier she could at least do it herself. Before the macular degeneration she was always imagining that tiny little specs on the carpet or floor were bugs, little stray pieces of lint had to be picked up instantly, no matter how much you might be carrying or how hurried you might be.

She barely gets through asking you to do one thing before she's angry that you aren't doing the next. I'll have to stop, show her how full my hands are, explain that I am doing whatever it is she has just asked me to do, (screw in a light bulb, change a battery, look up a television show, call someone, whatever), and then ask her which thing she would like me to do first because I can't do five things at once. Then she'll give me a naughty teasing little look and say, "Why can't you do five things at once?" Oh Mom, what will I ever do without you?

beau hospital 3-24-08 easter

Beau went to the hospital on Easter to visit her and he brought one of his guitars so he could play for her. I thought that was so sweet of him. He went through his repertoire and I joined in with him on the songs I know. That was a sweet moment.

We gave about a dozen Pinkberry frozen yogurts with fruit to the nurses to thank them for looking after my Mom, and I took a big Easter cake down to the pediatric floor because I feel so sorry for everyone there, the kids, their families, and all of the staff. That can't be easy. There are a couple of kids who have been there for a year waiting for organ transplants. So sad.

All I really want is for my Mother to be as happy and comfortable as possible for the remainder of her life. You know, quality of life while you have life. I don't want her to have to keep worrying about Beau and me and money. All she ever thinks about is money and she really doesn't have to. We are all going to be fine. I just want however much time she has left to be spent as peacefully and happily as possible.

Her latest obsession is that I will buy a forty acre ranch and put elephants on it. I don't know where she got this idea from but she keeps mentioning it. Of course once she said it I thought, "Hmm... elephants..."

Mom's last room mate was a woman born in Oahu who has had a donor heart for the last sixteen years. She has a large family and they're all Hawaiian. Just being around them made me happy. They way they speak, with the sound going up at the end of every sentence, saying, "Yeah?," and "Bruddah," and, "Auntie." I love Hawaii and Hawaiian people and their culture so much. I really miss it in a way that makes my heart ache whenever we've been away too long. My soul is never more at peace, I never feel more at ease, or feel as if I am really truly home, as much as I do when we're there.

Of course this is the time of year when everyone around our neighborhood goes to Hawaii. It makes it so much nicer here. There is a seriously noticeable difference in the amount of traffic. Just the other day I found myself thinking, "What's going on? This can't be right," because I was able to drive home without having to wait in long lines of cars filled with pissed off honking people. Now I know it's because all of the kids are out of school and everyone packs up and leaves. I really like it this way. It reminds me of LA in the old days, so much calmer.

My Mom's current room mate is a pretty young Mormon with a devoted husband. He's so sweet to her. She's had heart troubles all of her life. She's had four surgeries and is on so many medications. Poor little lamb. I love Mormons, they're such good solid family-minded people, but I worry that if I befriend any of them that the next thing I know there will be several young people in suits knocking on my door. While I have tremendous respect for anyone who lives a life connected to a higher spiritual being I'm happy with my own religion. It works for me.

Beau and his friends are in the next room playing Rock Band. I can hear the steady tapping of the drums. Cordelia is sitting on my lap and Asta is snoring beside me. I've been doing really well finding homes for rescued kitties at my friend's pet store. Although the drama there is insane, seriously, insane.

Sadly I have to give up my ticket to Artfest. Oh Artfest, what a loss. I'm going to try to find someone to donate it to, rather than sell it. It was so hard to get. I have great classes with amazingly talented super well respected teachers, all published authors, and I paid to stay in the dorms. I have a private room, and all my meals are paid for. I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to this. It was going to be a kind of birthday present to myself, (March 29.)

It's so tough to get in, even harder to get a place to stay, and the classes, well, forget it, everyone wants the same teachers, and I just really lucked out. I've been so looking forward to meeting and working with all of these wonderful artists. I've been dreaming about meeting these amazing women, (and men), whose work I have admired and been inspired by for so long. When I told Beau how sad I was that I wasn't going to be getting to sit on the beach working on my journal by the light of a bonfire with other like minded artists he laughed at me. He said, "Mom, that sounds so... well... girlie." Great. Why couldn't I have a daughter too?

One of the best things about Artfest, (Well, can you really pick just one?) are the art trades. Almost everyone makes about a hundred individual pieces of artwork centered around the annual them and they exchange them with each other, so when you leave, you're coming home with not only all of the art you've made in your classes, and anything you may have bought, but seventy-five unique mementos to remind you of all of the many wonderful people you've met.

The theme this year is centered around a walk in the woods. I've been collecting forest and particularly owl-related antique and vintage buttons, (I cornered the eBay market for a good time there on deer, acorns, owls, pine trees, gnomes, mushrooms, hedgehogs, etc.,) ribbons, etchings, prints, postcards, Victorian paper scraps, and assorted ephemera for months now. My plan was to make these collaged paper tags out of a scanned and photocopied image of this wonderful antique etching of children walking in the woods, overlaying them with these gorgeous colorful Victorian litho scrap leaves, punch a hole in the top of each, string as many of these lovely silk ribbons through the hole as would fit, then attach at least two or three really terrific antique treasures to each card. I was going to put my contact info and an identifying piece of artwork on the back of each one, and then paint very tiny highlights on these cards in German glass glitter. Oh well : (

This is such a loss for me, but there is no way that I can leave my Mom. I've been looking forward to it for years and finally made the commitment and paid for my ticket in September, but good ol' Rosa, my Mom's caregiver, dropped this sudden vacation of her own on us with less than two weeks notice -- and she just took a vacation and isn't due for another until August.

Poor Susan, the new caregiver, is really getting thrown in at the deep end. She'd only been there two days before we were packing Mom up and taking her to the hospital. She doesn't know Mom's habits -- how to get to the market or the bank, how to do any of Mom's errands. She'd never even driven Mom's car. I mean Rosa was so busy running around getting her hair done, getting pedicures and manicures, etc., that she didn't bother to show Susan anything, and without telling any of us, left it all up to me. This of course is part of her strategy, I'm familiar with it by now -- make the new person, or the weekend person, look as bad as possible, so that they will in no way threaten her position.

I am hating Rosa so much right now, not just for being a selfish, thoughtless, thieving liar, but for giving Mom this life threatening virus, coughing all over her when she knows how weak my Mother's immune system is, and then for trying to hide it from me. Oh and leaving her alone constantly. I really didn't know how often she was leaving my Mom. It's so wrong.

I just hate her, and then guilt ridden recovering from being lapsed Catholic that I am, I hate myself for hating anyone, and for failing to do what I always do, which is to try to find the good in her, and trying to understand things from her perspective. Although it's pretty hard to understand her up and leaving my poor Mom like this, stealing God knows what on her way out, stealing so much that she accidentally left a wadded up dress of mine behind.

I don't know what I'm going to do with her when she comes back. Beau is so upset that he told me if he sees her he's going to punch her in the face. I think it might be wise to keep them apart for a while. Ya think? She's going to be pretty upset when she finds out that her former cushy life of thieving ever little fine thing of my Mom's or mine that she can get her hands on (or thinks won't be missed) to resell, and using my Mother's car to drive all over town, while leaving my helpless blind Mother all alone is over. She's always threatening to sue us for one thing or another, so I guess this will be my fate at some point. What a mess. And yet, this is my Mother's life, and she still wants her, well, she can have her, but not if she ever endangers or neglects my Mother again.

Well, that's enough of my woes for one night. I'm sure ours are small by comparison to whatever some of you may be going through and I'm so sorry I can't be there for you. I've just been too overwhelmed and I just wanted to check in.

Is there anyone out there with a desire to hang out with some wonderful artists in the Fort Worden Washington area for the first Wednesday through Sunday in April? I'm hoping to exchange my seven hundred plus dollar ticket for a wee bit of hand made artsy goodness.

Love You,

mom hospital easter sunday 08

This is the Easter basket I gave my Mom. No candy. Poor Mom. She loves to eat more than anything but her blood sugar is too high. She asked me to take this picture of her with her arm up like that because she wanted you to see her IV for some reason. She's wearing her headphones because she was just listening to a romance novel on tape. I can't get her to figure out how to work the CD player I bought for her but she can push the play button on a Walkman so for now I'm buying and renting all of the romance books on tape that I can put my hands on. She goes through about one every two days and this keeps her happy and occupied.