Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fresh start for the new year...?

My grandmother is dying. She's been having health problems lately, and just after Christmas found out that she has cancer. She's not going to fight it, she's not crying about it, and she's remarkably composed about everything.

I really respect her for that. Her argument is that, at 83, having lost her husband almost a decade ago, she really doesn't have much to live for. It's not morbidity, per se, but a certain peacefulness about her life. She's lived through a lot, including the Great Depression, the loss of her mother at a young age (followed by living on a cot in her aunt's house for years--not being allowed to live with her father, because that just wasn't done), a crippling thyroid problem that made her are tyrant as a young mother, breast cancer (in the 70's, when treatment was still very primitive), the loss of her husband, and most recently the apparent total loss of sanity in her only child: my mother.

She enjoys Alastair, and I've been trying to find ways for her to see him more often, but she's on a clear path, so we're just trying to be there as much as we can for her: make her final days as pleasant as possible.

The challenge is that I've been named Contingent Power of Attorney (along with my mother--that will be a joy) and Executor of her Will. I suppose these are things that almost all adults will have to deal with, but they're like giant looming monsters over my head. I have no idea what to expect and just cower in fear of the paperwork that will come. My life consumes enough of my time already. I don't mean to complain or sound unappreciative, it's just a new challenge and I know I can't count on my mother to help me.

I went and sat with my grandmother yesterday for about 2 hours. She showed me all of her accounts, where to find her insurance information, where to find her bills that might be unpaid when she dies, and whom to call to stop her accounts and utilities. While she's remarkably organized, there's just too much for me to digest. I know I'm going to be relying on the good folks at the Credit Union for a lot of help.

Fortunately, part of her remkable organization includes contacting all of her account representatives and telling them about her condition. She's spending her time trying to make her death as simple as possible for me. It's really quite moving.

All of this comes against the backdrop of work gearing back up for a lot of overtime, Amanda getting ready to start a part-time, work-from-home job that will require 4 weekends of training, Alastair's impending 1st birthday (Monday!), and house-work, which I've really gotten back into getting done*.

Wish me luck, and happy new year!

On a side note, it looks like the Beetle is going to be sold next week. I just put a new battery and brake fluid in it on Sunday, and it's running great.

*A couple of weeks ago, I painted the bar. It's beautiful, but I didn't like the lack of direct lighting. For some time, Amanda had also been complaining about the hideous ceiling fan on the other side of the den. On Friday, I installed new lighting in the bar, replaced the ceiling fan, and installed a dimmer switch in the room. Now we just need to order our sofa, pick some new carpet, replace the coffee table with an ottoman, and paint one piece of trim that got missed when we painted the room (and find a small screen, but that's really not too high on the list), and the room will be complete!

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