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Regrets and Memories 
Started by AdoptedSon
15 Jul 2014, 1:05 AM

YOu know, I am going to try and give this one more shot, before I admit total failure in being able to write what goes through my addled head every morning, for that last few weeks.

First a bit of back history.

For the last 5 1/2 years I was the primary care giver for mom, with help from my partner, David.  WIthout him, I doubt I would have survived it.

Mom had home support workers, come twice a day, to handle helping her go potty, wash up and dress. They were in the morning and afternoon, while David and I handled the night shift.  

Secondly, I should tell you I am as far away from being Politically Correct, as any person can be.  Mom and Dad taught me, speak your mind, don't mince words, so to me, a spade is a spade no matter what fancy words you want to use, so as to soften their impact.  

Third, one thing that Mom tried to teach me, was that if I didn't have a kind word to say, I should keep my yap shut.  Course, I replied that I would be afraid that I'd lose the power of speech, if I followed that advice.

If you doubt me on that, well you can ask the people at the home support company, or our local Government health agency. They'll tell you, in politically correct terms, that I was a handfull.

Next is Jim.  You will get to meet him a bit later, but he was more like a father, uncle, big brother than a friend. I first met Jim, in person, when he flew up from Florida for our wedding, Jan 21 2005.  It would have been Mom and Dad's 62 anniversary, but Dad had died the previous April.  Ever since that January, Jim would fly up to visit us every summer, and stay at our place for four to six weeks.

He really was a blessing, because it afforded me the time to actually escape the house, for more than an hour.

Anyhow, enough of the back story. There is a ton more, but why bore you needlessly?

Truth is, that on November 26th 2013, Mom died.  They said it was heart failure, but honestly, I think she simply decided she had enough, or her body decided for her.  After all, she was ninety six and seven months old, suffered from having several toes amputated over a decade earlier, had bad arthritis, and other various ailments.

It wasn't a total shock, given she had become bed ridden the previous four or so weeks, was on a low dose of morphine to help with the pain, but it still was a kicker when I walked into the bedroom, after the morning worker had left, along with the Community Nurse, and realized she had died.

The funeral was the 28th, and I think it was the next day when I managed to talk coherently with Jim, as he was unable to make it up. His own mother, 90yrs old, was unable to be left alone, and was in the early stages of altzheimers.  So a rough go for him, was on the horizon, but he still managed to be there for me.

He told me, that I would be very tired, more tired than I knew, because for the last five and half years, I had been running on pure adrenalin.  He also told me that I did a good job of caring for Mom, looking after her and dad. He also told me that he knew me, knew that I would beat myself up over things I should have done, but that I shouldn't do it. 

Jim knew me well, and we talked about how I knew I did all I could, that I wouldn't have any regrests. Think we both knew I was just saying it, and if I think about it, I knew it then, but was relying on him being there, to help me sort through it all.

He had gone through it himself, his wife had passed away from Cancer, and he had two step children to cope with, teenagers too. So he knew what he was talking about, and I was counting on his wisdom, his help, to get us through the coming months.

We even discussed it all on Dec 15th or so, talked about how David and I were looking for a place, outside of the city, so we could just slow down, take a breath. It was all pretty upbeat really, and he said he was still planning to come up and stay with us, in our new digs, this summer.

That friday, Jim died.  

And it took me perhaps a full couple of days, to realize, that while I was alone before, now I was simply adrift on some frozen slab, drifting aimlessly without any direction. Nothing made sense, and the anger, man you would not have wanted to cross me at that time.

If you have ever been in a thick London fog, well, then you have an inkling of how I felt. It was like you could hear voices, not sure where they were coming from and you would head in that direction, then hear them again, but it would sound like they were in a different direction, so off you go, chasing them.

Thing is, the London Fogs, they lift.  Here I am, seven months later, and at times, it seems as if the fog has gotten thicker, more dense than it did back in December and January.

I believe in God, honestly I do, but there are moments when I wonder what I did so horribly wrong, that got him so ticked off at me, that he had to take not just Mom, but Jim as well.

Honestly, the only thing I remember from February and March, is that it rained almost every blessed day, while David and I tried to move to our new home.  He would load up the truck, a small little ancient pick up, and off we could for an hour drive, to the new place, amidst downpours and more pelting rain. Night after night, till finally we were done.

Though not sure we ever really got done. Every box, had a memory to it, because we had Mom's clothes, that she hadn't worn. Things we thought maybe we could share with others, though we found that giving the stuff away was harder than trying to sell them.  Of course, just the idea of selling them, would bring on tears, and regrets.

THings like maybe I should have tried to get Mom to wear them more, than simply go for the nightshirt. I mean she would have felt better maybe, but it was easier to help her get washed up, to go to the commode, without the nice skirt and blouse, or the housecoat.

Perhaps I could have taken more time, to sit with her and talk, instead of just turning on her Kindle, or putting a magazine in front of her.  Actually, no perhaps about it, I should have, but I didn't, and now I never can.  That is what hurts, what comes creeping up when I see that Kindle, or when I think about reading my own Kindle.

We set up a nice little garden at our new place, brought our Raspberry bushes with us, and just like when we were caring for Mom, I pick what is ripe and have it. I used to bring Mom in some, and she would smile, and get a glow in her eyes, amazed that it came from our own little balcony.  Course, that is a nice memory, that gets clouded out by the regret that I should have taken her out to the balcony more, let her pick her own raspberries, to heighten her pleasure.  I didn't do that, because it was a hassle, so again, is it any wonder that in the last seven months, I could have easily filled the Hoover Dam with my tears? Heck, never mind the last seven months, the last month's tears alone would have filled the Dam a few times.

Now I know, it is maybe self pity, second guessing myself, which Jim did say I would do, but it just seems to come up out of nowhere.  Funny, he was rarely wrong, and it looks like even though he's gone, his track record still is holding, growing too.

Each day, I try to start it off in a positive note. Jim said I should, but it doesn't take long before that's gone by the wayside.  THe memories crowd in, good memories too, but they often lead to those pesky regrets.  He said, that in time the pain eases, not because we forget, but because our nerves are finally adjusting to the pain.  

Told you, his track record is growing.  I don't think the pain ever lessens, and maybe that isn't helpful to others, because I know it doesn't seem to help me cope any better, but like a toothache, the pain eventually seems to grow less, but truth is, it is still just as potent, we are just accustomed to it now, so we are better able to ignore it, but like a toothache, when we bite on something we shouldn't, that pain comes roaring back, full tilt. Seems this is no different than that, though I wish I could figure out what it is I keep biting down on, that makes this pain rear up and hit me up and down the side of the head.

Honestly, I don't know how I get through a single day, heck, I wonder how I get through an hour some days, because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Its there, open and broken, and there are times when I think the tears will never stop, even if my head is submerged by the sheer volume of water I have shed.  You would think I'd be suffering from dehydration but no, the water still flows, the pain still comes.

Mom was close, as close as a parent can be with a son, I think. When I told her I wanted to marry David, to have a real Jewish wedding at home, she asked me only one question.  It was "did I love him".  The rest didn't matter, and it is those memories that I cherish, and it is because of those memories, that I have so many regrets, about what I should have done.

She always told me, to not second guess, to do my best, and at the end of the day, win or lose, if I could honestly say I did my best, then it didn't matter if I only got a C+ or if I lost a sale, or if I dropped the ball.  As long as I did my best, she said, I had won.  There would always be tomorrow, to try again, to try to do better, but the problem is, there are only so many tomorrows given us.

I ran out of tomorrows, in trying to do better for Mom, and it eats at me, it drives a huge hole deep into my soul, that is already in tatters.  Yet I know, that all I can do, is try again, tomorrow, to get through the day, to get on with living, without her.

Regrets or memories, they are the same, and yet not.   Maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be better than today was, which was better than yesterday. So maybe, just maybe..,   
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Reply by Tian
15 Jul 2014, 3:45 AM

Dear Ian

First of all I offer you my condolences on the loss of your cherished mother and your friend and mentor Jim. Secondly, thank you for updating us and being so open about what has happened since you last communicated with us. I am not an expert on grief but I know while that while there are some things that apply to most of us, each of us has their own grieving process. 

I empathize with a lot of what you say. I'm also a second guesser and can beat myself up by doing so. And yes there are so many tomorrows given us so that's while this continuing second guessing must stop or will haunt you for whatever time you have left. I think that the only way to put an end to regrets and endless perhaps, perhaps, perhaps is to simply stop. I know it's a lot easier said than done. But these doubts are insidious, they will always eat away at you, the solutions are irretrievable. There are no logical answers to be found. By any objective measure you did your best and your best turned out to be maybe not perfect but great, as much as reallistically could have been accomplished. Hindsight is 20/20 and never really reflects reality. You were a wonderful son to your mother and she knew it. Unfortunately it's taking you too long to accept it.

Jim was right. He's gone but his words survive and are as true now as they were before. You can honor him by taking those words to heart. It's not easy. It hasn't happened after more than a year and doesn't follow a schedule like arrivals and departures. Who knows how long it will take? Hopefully soon you'll be able to concentrate on a lot better stuff to do like showing your appreciation to your husband for hanging in there with you. Like you said, there are only so many tomorrows given us.

And while I'm not an expert with grief there are people who are. You can look into counsellors and support groups in your area. You are not alone. Best of luck and keep us posted if you can.

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Reply by EastCoastPEI
15 Jul 2014, 1:06 PM

To me, Regret is a necessary poison.. like terrible tasting medicine that you need to take for a while.  It feels and tastes horrible... but somehow you know that someone, with your best interests in mind, made this concoction for you to ease the pain... 

I believe God allows regret to envelope us sometimes to help shape the future....a form of personal inner therapy...   it's a necessary tool... it's a sign.. it's a signal... it's his voice saying "it's ok to feel this way... it's ok to feel... "  .. it's a way of filtering out the noise and making sense of everything ...  it forces us to ask Why? even when there is no answer...  in the end we're beings with free will.. we can allow ourselves to only feel regret and never, as you say, lift ourselves out of the fog.   That's where it gets incredibly tough... incredibly daunting... .like it's impossible to see through the thick...  but ... just know that it is possible.. there is a clear sky past that thick veil of fog.  Time heals... you heal... it's all part of the impossibly painful process that we've all been through.  

I didn't think I'd survive losing both my parents to cancer... both died in the same room in Palliative care, 14 years apart ... that impossibilty paralyzed me for a time... but when I started focusing on what I did do for them rather than all of the millions of things I could have done for them.. it started getting easier. 

Interestingly, on the way to work today, before I read this, I flashed back to a month before my mother died... days before she went into palliative care... I was visiting her here and there at her home.. but in the evenings I was... I .. was... working on my WEBSITE!!!   oh my... that burned me... that destroyed me when I realized afterwards I had been spending hours deciding on fonts and colors and pictures for my website rather than discussing life, and love, and everything in between with my mother by her side...  but does that change anything now?  Can I go back and change that?  no.. so why focus needless energy on that.. I regretted it... I admitted it.. I felt it... I let it go..  it is what it is... 

but when I think about the time i DID spend with her.. the time I brought her a coffee and donut from the local coffee shop and saw her eyes light up... she had half a bite and only a sip but it made her smile .. made her day.   I'm sure much like the raspberries did for your mother.  

focus on those memories.. yes, let the regret do its thing, ..but remember... you're in control even when it doesn't feel that way.   
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Reply by KathCull_admin
16 Sep 2014, 3:11 AM

Hello Adopted Son, Tian and EastCoastPEI

Guilt, I have often been told is ‘the gift that keeps on giving’.  Colleen has started a new thread 
Down with Guilt!  I wondered if you would like to join the conversation. 


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