Tuesday, January 29, 2008

He's Gone

I never thought he would die first.  I don't know why.  My father was the rock.  He was strong and silent -- kind of like John Wayne, but in a first generation Italian immigrant kind of way.  He died on Monday with my mother and I at his side.  It was peaceful.  He was not in pain.  I guess that's the most any of us can ask for.  

We come into this world and are put into the arms of someone we love.  What better than to leave this world with the people who love you holding your hands.  

I think I have mentioned before how wonderful the staff at the Major University Medical Center were.  They showed compassion and kindness.  There are not enough words to thank them.  They have earned their angels' wings on earth.

As for dad, he's playing the best courses, probably with some of his favorite senior golfers and having a martini (half gin, half vermouth, please) at the 19th hole.

He turned for the worse so quickly.  Starting on Friday, he had a seizure.  We had another scare on Friday night.  He was holding on for Sunday.  We had a party to celebrate my sister and my daughter's joint birthday.  Many years apart, but same day.  Whole family gathered at the hospital for dad, since the party had to come to him.

Cannolis from Termini's.  Cake and Italian cookies from Termini's.  And a pitcher full of martinis so we could toast dad.  He had a few sips, with the doctor's blessing.  He sat up and while he could not sing out loud, you could see him moving his lips to sing happy birthday to my sister and my baby girl.  (Thank god for the niece to reminded us it would not be a good idea to light the candles on the cake since he was on oxygen.  I can see the headline now, "Family Blows Up Cancer Wing with Birthday Cake" - Film at 11.)

Monday morning, I dropped mom at the hospital, intending to go to the office.  It was supposed to be my last week.  I'm buying a yarn shop in a month.  I'm wrapping up my law practice.  I never got into the office.  From the garage at the office, the phone rang.  I turned around and drove back out across town to the hospital.

The chaplain on call was a rabbi.  I didn't catch his name, but there were too many tears in my eyes to read it.  Dad was Roman Catholic.  The Rabbi said a lovely prayer and read the 23rd Psalm.  My dad had his eyes open until the psalm finished.  He closed his eyes and was gone.  

Now, we have taken the show on the road and in far, northern New Jersey for the traditional Italian wailing fest known as the viewing and the funeral.  Mom was in no state to make the arrangements.  So I've been on the phone almost non-stop.  I think I've gone over my minutes for the month.  Oh well.  

We are going to celebrate his life.  He was a quiet man.  He was a humble man.  He was a source of strength and comfort to me throughout my life.  While he didn't go to church regularly, he was one of the best Christians I ever knew.  He never said an unkind word about anyone, no matter how terribly they had treated him.  He was ready to help anyone.  He was practical and sturdy.  He could fix anything.  He was my McGuyver -- give him some string, peanut butter, two sticks of gum and some paperclips and he'd build you a working car.  Nothing was ever too broken for him to fix -- especially my heart.  He encouraged us to follow our dreams and be true to ourselves.  

If I am half the parent he was, I will be doing one heck of a job.

I love you Daddy.

I'll miss you more than I can say.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Little Knitting Getting Done

Somehow, I can't even concentrate on my simple socks while I'm here at MUC with mom and dad.  The news is not good and we have put everything into God's hands.  While I do not wear my faith on my sleeve, it is times like this that I find comfort.  

It's tough to deal with my mom.  This is all so hard and so foreign to her.  We're having a party on Sunday to celebrate life and have some smiles.  

The Coke still isn't frozen.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Calorimetry and Coke - Perfect Together

Okay.  Science experiment update.  It has not broken freezing in Philadelphia since we left a 2 liter bottle of coke on the back porch accidentally on Saturday morning.  The 2 liter bottle of SPrite and the quart of tonic were frozen solid as of Sunday.  As of Monday morning, the Coke was showing now signs of freezing.  Monday night -- just the same.  Tuesday morning, not even slush.  

This is really concerning me.  Why is it that regular Coke seems unable to freeze?  Any scientists want to comment.
On another front, I'm in day two at MUC with Mom and Dad.  We're waiting for an anti-clotting drug.  So, yesterday I got bored and after I finished the work I needed to do, I cast on my version of Calorimetry  with some Classic Elite Inca Alpaca I bought when Norma when she had a destashing sale.  When Mom and Dad came up from Florida, she didn't have anything to wear on her head.  She hates hats.  So I cast on the Inca Alpaca and the results are below.

We had a bit of a to-do over the button, but I won.  Completed in one afternoon at the hospital.  At some point, those poor Broad Street Mittens will be done.  

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Real Thing?

Saturday morning we pulled a 2 liter bottle of Coke out of a cooler and inadvertently left it out on the back porch.  It's been cold here.  Also left outside were a bottle of Sprite (2 liter) and a quart of tonic.  By Noon on Sunday, when it was fairly cold here in Philly, the Sprite was frozen half way through, the tonic was frozen solid and the Coke had no signs of freezing.

This morning, still way below freezing here -- the Coke was completely liquid.  I find that both disturbing and interesting.  Why is it that Coke won't freeze?  Anyone know?

Friday, January 18, 2008

One Day at a Time

Dad is still at MUC. We drive Mom back and forth each day. It's taking it's toll.

On a happier note, littlest one turns 5 on Tuesday. A classmate is having his birthday party Saturday at the Rodent House Pizza Joint with Loud Arcade Games from 12-1:30. Following at 2, is Littlest's bowling party. Lots of tired 5 year olds on Saturday night, I'm sure.

Still have to bake cupcakes for school, fill goody bags and the like. Bless the husband for taking today off to do the running around for the party. I don't know what I'd do without him.

With all the chaos with Dad sick, not much knitting has been going on. I really need to knit to keep myself sane.

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Chemo Begins and Knitting Continues

Here I am again, at MUC with mom and dad.  The chemo starts today for the next 21 days.  We'll see what happens.  The socks continue, as do the Broad Street Mittens for my law clerk.  She has tried on the one which I lost then found and is very happy with the choice of yarn and colors.  She has declared them "Fab".  

Of course, mother of young girls, when I hear my law clerk saying "Fab", all I can see is Sharpay from High School Musical 2 singing Fabulous.  

Sometimes, you just have to laugh.  If I don't laugh now, I don't know what I'd do -- other than knit.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knitting, Love and Cancer

I haven't blogged much in the last week or so. My dad, who is 84 and has been in wonderful health until about six months ago, was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia on January 3. They were at their winter place in Florida, but my sister and her husband were visiting at the time. We needed to get them home -- which happened on Saturday.

However, his condition took a turn and I spent from 3 p.m. Monday until 1:30 a.m. Tuesday at the emergency room of a major university medical center (MUC) -- where he was admitted. He was in very grave condition and remains in the hospital. (A word about places like MUC -- not its real name -- the oncology staff, both docs and nurses, are true angels. I am convinced there is a special place in heaven for all those who work on that floor.)

What do you do when you're sitting with your mother and father, who have been married almost 63 years, in the ER all afternoon and evening? Both are scared and not used to big city hospitals. You're placed near the trauma entrance and bay, so you see the gun shot and accident victims coming in. You take along that skein of Colinette Jitterbug (see my ravelry stash for a photo) and hand wind it into a ball. Then you cast it on US 1 needles and begin knitting a simple sock, because anything else requires too much concentration.

Why do you do this? Because your parents know you can't sit still without something occupying your hands. They have watched your craft through family gatherings for more than 40 years -- knitting, needlepoint, cross stitch. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, just plain visits. There is always something in your hands. If you don't bring something, they may think you're scared and worried, too. It is a sign of comfort to them that all is OK.

As I sat winding the yarn, I thought of the Yarn Harlot's touching story in her first book. Steph writes of a time she spent as a doula -- always knitting at least some socks for the new baby during labor. She wrote of the comfort the needles brought to both the laboring mother and herself, that everything was fine. Buy or borrow the book. Read the essay. Cry. As a mother, it was wonderfully touching to me when I first read it, but now -- it touches me in a different way. I am the one who sits and knits trying to hold things together for my family -- to be strong.

So, there I sit, as I watch my father sleep and breathe and listen to my mother mutter and mumble about all the things she has to do and how she wants him to eat some more -- one needle into the other -- round and round in stockinette. No cables. No lace. Nothing fancy. These socks will be like my father -- simple, plain, strong and durable.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

All the best wishes to all of you in 2008.  We're looking forward to some major changes here --to be detailed later.  Much love, health and happiness all around.