Howard Joseph’s 1st Update from Fresno

May 13, 2009

On Mother’s Day, Isaac, Alicia and my two nieces picked me up at the Fresno Air Terminal and drove me to the house on that semi-cul-de-sac that will always be home. When I walked in the door, my mom was sitting in her favorite chair. Although I had seen her just a few weeks earlier on Easter weekend, a lot had happened since that visit…but my mom’s smile when we all walked into the room hadn’t changed and we spent the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening just “hanging out” as a family. 

As an homage to my mother’s talents in the kitchen, my brother had recreated one of her famous recipes: caramel banana pie. The texture of the caramel wasn’t quite the same as mom’s, but you can’t really go wrong with caramel and bananas. Send him an email if you’d like the recipe.

On Monday morning we met with the hospice nurse. I think that we were all nervous about this visit as the concept of hospice is inherent with a certain outcome that seems irrelevant and remote. For our immediate purposes, the hospice services are all about keeping mom comfortable and safe here in the house – and the nurse seemed to understand that. The motto around here is “if something bad is gonna happen, it’s not happening today”.

Maybe I am just a little too used to living alone, but my parent’s house is a center of constant activity. On Monday after the hospice visit, Kelly and Jill extended their lunch hour from EPU to come by for a visit, and later in the afternoon Margo from the neighborhood came by to deliver a homemade cheesecake. Today my Aunt Judy brought us the pleasure of her company along with a nice lunch all the way from Santa Maria, and on Thursday my Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Dave and my grandmother are planning to drive up from Los Angeles. Another wave of Aviñas will be [affectionately] hitting us on Saturday (namely, my aunts, Irene, Lydia & Mague).

Dad is constantly in motion. If he is not coordinating my mom’s medications, he is out building a ramp in the garage so that my mom doesn’t have to traverse any steps, figuring out what the next meal will be, answering business/Kiwanis calls, laundry, and a whole list of other activities that do not involve “sitting down”.

Although she may need a little help getting around…my mom seems to still be very upbeat. The nausea that had afflicted her last week seems to be under control right now and the headaches seem to be manageable with medication. We’re sitting here watching TV together and it seems that mom’s main complaint this afternoon is that she’s bored. Curiously, even though I am just sitting here with my mom watching “Oprah” on a sunny afternoon, I am not bored at all.

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3 Responses to “Howard Joseph’s 1st Update from Fresno”

  1. Howard Joseph Says:

    I gotta admit, “bravado” is just one of those words that I like to exploit whenever I can…it makes me sound “erudite”, no? There really is no “ersatz” for a little “bravado” in the blogosphere.

    Mom’s having a good day so far…she even asked for a little chicken soup for lunch. Rebecca, Dave and grandma will be here around 2PM.

  2. Lydia Avina Drayer Says:

    You are entitled to your moments of bravado, it hopefully renews you to deal with subsequent challenges. Mague turned me on to this poem by Max Ehrmann, titled “Desiderata”. The last two lines of the poem are “Be Cheerful. Strive to be happy.” Happiness can be really elusive lately so relish it whenever you can.

  3. Howard Joseph Says:

    The bravado of this post was tempered today. Mom’s nausea medication seemed to only trigger the symptoms that they were supposed to ease. The only moments of comfort she could find were when she was able to sleep (which she is doing now).

    During the afternoon we received a visit from the LCSW who will be working with us through Hinds Hospice. The social worker (who is married to mom’s oncologist) made several suggestions regarding the medications that mom is currently taking and promised to work with mom’s hospice team (which includes her oncologist) to introduce us to some other options.


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