Rest In Peace?

#52EssaysNextWave 12/52

Today’s is my lovely Mama’s birthday may she RIP.

I’m known to post regularly about Mama: random memories, how many months it’s been since she’s left us (44 months in a few days), pictures that I find around the house, pictures of her table that we update with each holiday, her tradition of giving treat bags to her friends (which, by the way, I’ve passed two holidays because my life got crazy-busy, yes, I feel guilty) and more.

More than once, I’ve had folks tell me that I should let her go, that I should let my mother rest in peace, that I have separation anxiety issues.

Having gone through the trauma of losing my mother, I’ve realized a few things:

  1.  Everyone grieves differently.
  2.  Everyone honors their loved ones in their own way.
  3.  The greatest gift that Margaret gave us, her familia, was sitting us down and telling us how she intended to live out her life, that she loved us and knew that we loved her, and that she knew that we would always be together.

Mama was right.  When she was gone, we would have each other to hold on to, we would know that we were loved, and we would know that she was going to be happy in her eternal home.

So the fact that I celebrate my mother constantly does not necessarily mean that I want time to stop, that I want her back, that I want things to stay as they always have, that I’ve not accepted her departure.  Wrong.  Margaret told us she would be alright, that she was ready to leave, that she would be happy.  There is no way that I would want Mama to be sad or suffering here on earth when she was clearly ready to go HOME.

It took me much longer than my siblings to accept this harsh truth when Mama first told us what was what.  However,  I became so convinced that Mama was right as we took care of her those final weeks:  no food, no water, no medicine and she didn’t look weak or emaciated or sad or suffering.  When it was time, it was time.

When she was with us, we Torres5 would always marvel about the crazy positive reaction would be on social media to anything we posted about Margaret, she would be a little shy when we’d tell her or read folks’ birthday wishes or comments to this or that post, but then you would see her famous little quiet smile.  Mama used to always tell me, “omg, this isn’t a competition!” to which I’d answer, “Of course it isn’t, you always win!”

Happy Birthday Mama/Mother/Mom/Negra/Prieta/Marga!

 

Advertisements

Just Say Good Morning Already

#52EssaysNextWave 9/52

5 years old.   I was getting ready to start kindergarten.  Everyone telling me how exciting school would be, how many friends I would make, how many fun things I would do.   I was having trouble with this, I didn’t feel excited at all.

That first day, I remember being dressed in my blue dress with the white sweater, white socks and black mary jane shoes.  I don’t really remember anyone bringing me into Mrs. Brunton’s class.  I remember that I was just there.   I don’t want to think that I was just put on the bus to face it all alone.

Because that’s exactly what it felt like to me.  Like I was left all alone.  Without Mama.  And how were the kids doing at home without me?  This place seemed too big.  This place didn’t feel nice.  And why do I even have to come here?  This is what I used to tell myself every single day before and after crying tears into my little white sweater before hanging it up on the little hook.

Circle time.  Circle time was a nightmare for me.  First, I was afraid.  Second, I was almost in tears and didn’t want anyone to see me cry.  If I spoke up, people would see my fear and hear the quivering of my voice like I wanted to cry, who wants to be known as a big baby?

My teacher, Mrs. Brunton, was not kid-friendly, and to this very sensitive and scared little girl, not one kind word, not one nod of understanding.   She lost patience with me that first day when I did not answer “good morning” to her during circle time.    On that first day, she punished me for not speaking during circle time.  I had to stay inside during recess time, trying to understand what I had done wrong.

This went on for many, many weeks during that first year of school.  I remember being able to breathe and feeling so relieved “having” to stay in the classroom with the lights turned off during recess.  I was in there with the “bad kids” – always two or three kids.  But I did not have to feel the wrath of Mrs. Brunton for those blessed few minutes and my little mind would think and think about how to get the nerve up to be able to say “good morning”, how much easier my life might be, how much happier I might be — at least that’s what Mama and Daddy would tell me almost every night at home about saying “good morning” the next day.

Once the kids would come in from recess, I’d feel a little stronger.  And then this woman would have something negative to say.  Always something negative.  And my resolve to say “good morning” would crumble.

It finally got to the point where I was over being labeled one of the “bad kids”,  I wasn’t a bad person, I was a good girl.  There were a couple of kids who had not yet spoken up, and who had finally said “good morning” to the teacher and, when I saw that nothing bad happened to them after that, I started to think that, maybe it was time for me to say “good morning”.

It amazes me how, at that very young age, that I was able to watch things around me and find the safe time to use my voice and improve my situation.  One morning,  I shocked Mrs. Brunton and delighted the entire class when I finally answered “good morning”.

It would have been so much easier had the lady been a little more understanding and treated little Carmen with a little more care in those first weeks of school instead of losing her patience and being judgemental.   Little Carmens of the world need to be empowered and reminded of the rules for the classroom instead of being told that she is a bad girl.  All I remembered was feeling this intense pressure all of the time to say “good morning” – from home, at school, to the point of having headaches.  Now I think about…Who was right?  Who was wrong? How could this situation been handled in a more positive manner?  Why was it so hard for me to say “good morning”? why was this person so mean?

Shortly after that first “good morning”, the school year was, thankfully, over.   My parents received progress reports from Mrs. Brunton stating that I was withdrawn and would likely have learning issues throughout my school years.  Fast forward to first grade, and Little Carmen was happy, outgoing, and learning a lot.  I had a great teacher who was much more kid-friendly and I was able to thrive.  I also remember being happy to show my lil sister starting kindergarten that I wasn’t afraid or unhappy anymore.

Many years later, I heard that Mrs. Brunton was no longer teaching.  I felt a little vindicated, that 5-year-old Little Carmen was not crazy, that her instincts WERE right, that this was NOT a good person, especially not one to be in charge of the education, physical and emotional security of babies just starting out.  I was still a little angry, as I felt as if I got myself through this traumatic experience.  Even though it was the only way to relieve the stress from all sides, I spent many years trying to move past that fateful “good morning”.

I always harbor the hope that little ones have an easier time of their first days of school…that their little spirits are not broken as mine was, that they have positive people in their corners to help them see that there are more great teachers than bad ones.

I also know that this was one of the first times that my InnerChingona helped me get through it, even though, at the time, I had no clue who she was.

The Things We Treasure: Nacimientos at Christmastime

#52essays2017  #51/52

I’m such a thing person sometimes, I have the hardest time throwing things out.  So to write about things I treasure should have been easy.  Not.

It’s Christmastime.  The time when gifts are exchanged, etc.  What did I ask for?  A giant sized bottle of Dawn for dishes and the giant PineSol LOL.  I’ve asked for these kinds of things for years as I’ve never been into the “gifts” part of things – ever.   Things I treasure most aren’t really things, they’re more like traditions, experiences, familia, friends.

All that, and the Ranch Nacimiento/Nativity, Mama’s smaller house nacimiento, working with our Ranch kids for the annual Christmas play, eating tamales and more.

The Ranch Nacimiento, especially, is priceless and unique.  There are people, animals, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, little burros, people carrying wood and animals on their backs like they did back in the day.  And in this year’s pilgrimage on the Nacimiento, another King was seen walking to see baby Jesus…and there he was, Elvis!  My grandma Mama Lupita collected the majority of the pieces herself and brought them back from her many trips to Mexico — most times, she was travelling by bus and I’m still amazed at how many figurines she had amassed, and how many of them made the trips intact.

However, my absolute favorites are those pieces that Grandma would try to “fix” when they would break.  There was that one little lamb whose leg had broken off which was then “fixed” by putting on an Elmer’s glue orange cap in place of the leg LOL.  Here’s the one gentleman whose legs had broken off.  Grandma gave him a new lease on life by placing him into a NyQuil cap LOL so now he could at least stand up even if he couldn’t walk.

When I first moved out, Mama had put a bunch of family “heirlooms” into my boxes and, one of the treasures was HER small plastic Nativity scene that I had seen for my entire life each Christmas.   My mother loved putting out her nativity scene (or having us put it up for her) every year and it’s the tradition that warms my heart,  knowing that I would see the same thing each year.  Very comforting to know that a few little beaten-up knickknacks can bring us to smiles (and tears)

Mama’s Nacimiento 2017

My most prized possessions are shared with others:  my entire Ranch family loves the Ranch Nacimiento and we love Mama’s Nacimiento at our house every year.  These traditions work it for us and I hope that I help keep these family customs alive.

Feliz Navidad All.   Below are pictures of just PART of the Ranch Nacimiento.  You’ll note that Mama sewed clothes for Mary and Joseph waaay back in the day.  This is one amazing display.

Scenes from the Ranch Nativity

 

 

 

 

The Nameless Lady

#52essays2017  50/52

My brother is so much like Mama.  He regularly performs random acts of kindness, buying food for hungry folks, sitting and talking with the homeless, always, always thinking of others.   I always say that I’m going to try to be like that and, this past weekend, I feel as if I came close.

I was out delivering Mama’s Treat Bags.  We make them every holiday to give out to her doctor’s office and her friends at DaVita Dialysis, she did this in life and wanted us to carry on the tradition.

On this particular morning, I was visiting the dialysis folks and handed one of the bags to a woman whom I’d never seen before.  I was struck by the way she grabbed for my hand to thank me – just like Mama used to grab my hand.   I didn’t even ask her name.   She told me that she had been in dialysis for a few weeks now and, as she grabbed my hand, she asks me, “was your Mom scared when she would come here at first?”

I started to tell this lady how Mama made the deal with us when it was time for her to do dialysis:  that “if I have to go through this, so do all of you“, and for the first few months, one of us stayed right there with her the entire time she went through her treatment.   I told her that Mama was very afraid at first and, while she never totally liked her time at dialysis, she was able to somewhat embrace her situation…until she decided that enough was enough.

The woman seemed to totally relate to what I was saying and she started crying quietly.   I held her hand for a few minutes more and had the feeling that Mama was present there, helping to comfort this woman.   I realized that, with every time I take out Mama’s treat bags, that I learn more about her journey, how, in many ways, she did this treatment for us more than for herself, how strong-willed she was, how else to explain the motivation it took for her to get up every day and soldier on, that my mother had so much faith, faith that it was all part of His plan.   Also, I gain more admiration for my mother:  as bad as she was feeling some days, she always wanted to make folks feel better, to not feel so alone in the world.

This nameless lady put me and my ego in check QUICK.  She’s on a life-changing journey, and not an easy one.  I felt happy that I made her feel better for those few minutes and she was able to not feel so afraid and alone.  Who knows what her life is like?  Who is there to make sure she eats before (or after) treatments?  Does she drive to the treatments?  Is her family supporting her?  I have no clue.  All I know is that I could sense that this woman was strong, strong enough to admit that she was afraid yet still there trying to get better.

I hope that I can see her next time I’m there.  I’ll have to ask her what her name is.

Maybe I’ll show her this story.

 

 

Aaay! The Showers of Change

#52essays2017 47/52

 

This happened earlier tonight:

“The time has come to change Mama’s shower curtain. Tried to find something Daddy would like. As I was looking, I started telling the señoras working there what I was doing and, like true Latinas, they do that “aaay” thing, hug me and tell me their stories of throwing things out/saving things that their parents left behind and we were all almost crying. It did feel nice to be completely understood tonight.”

It’s a kinship borne of sadness, bittersweet memories, of feeling like there’s a hole in you – some days, it feels all-consuming, others it’s more of a dull ache.   And then when you finally are able to laugh, feel happier, able to move forward from your loss, you still miss them.    Once you lose a parent, you 100% understand what a person is going through when their mother or father passes.   No words are necessary.  And, yes, you really do feel that “aaay” in your heart when you know that someone has lost their parent!

It’s so hard for us to throw any of Mama’s things out sometimes.  I had to text the Torres5 to gently let them know that we would be changing the shower curtain, I feel like, if I don’t tell them or “ask” their permission to make changes, that Mama won’t be right with it either.  And knowing my mother, she would be all for my changing the shower curtain.   Her shower curtain had circles of green, blue, and lavender so I chose more “guy” colors – black and gray with his own circles.  Dad really liked it.   Even though I feel like “aaay”, it really is time and Dad has really been working on beautifying our bathroom lately so he’s excited to change-up the look of the place.

Dad is so funny.  Right away, he starts working on one of his “home-improvement” projects and typical me, “OMG Dad, que haces?”.  Turns out he’s making me a little shelf for me to put my “jabon” on, a soap dish, that no one else can use.   Big smiles that remind me how blessed I am to be able to enjoy the simplest things in my life with my father, that it’s sometimes OK to move forward and keep living life.

We all do change in different ways, at different levels, on different timelines.  Sometimes, those “aaay” moments are a good way to track your progress (or not), the “aaays” certainly keep you honest and, if you’re lucky, you are able to feel your feelings instead of backing them up, holding them all in.  What a relief to be able to feel sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty, pain, loss, blessings…isn’t it funny how a simple shower curtain or a soap dish can change your outlook on life?

To be able to share your “aaay” moments with people who understand is even better.  Thank God for those women in Walmart who “got it” and helped me see that, sometimes, change is a positive thing for me, for Dad, for my siblings, and for Mama.

 

Mike Torres, my father, working on my soap dish for my “jabon”… aaay!

The Power of Mariachi Music

#52essays2017  43/52

The Torres household was not unlike other Latino households in that, we too, had to endure early Saturday mornings with the mariachi music going full blast.  But the difference in our house was that we might be hearing those rancheras on record, on the radio, in a JUKEBOX that was in our house for years, or with Mike Torres playing and singing live!  Our father is a lifetime mariachi and regularly rocks his charro suits.  This is my very favorite picture of his, happiest when singing with the mariachi.

So I’d be in that bed trying to will myself back to sleep, trying to close my eyes, trying not to think that, along with the music, that house cleaning wasn’t far behind.   Finally, I’d give in and wake up, laying there hearing the sounds of the house, the smell of breakfast cooking, knowing that in a few minutes, we’d get Mama’s call to get up and help do this or that and, through all of this, la musica ranchera a todo volumen en friega …music at full blast.

Back then, it was like “rolling the eyes” irritating on some days, at least those first few minutes of being up and about.   Maybe if it were another kind of music that I liked at the time, I might have had a better attitude.  Maybe not, I was and still am, to this day, a night person.   This familia of musicos are also night people so we all have to tread lightly every morning so that we don’t offend each other as we try to wake up.  And when we are all still living at home, we Torres5 used to regularly try to compete with Dad by turning the TV up, Dad singing/playing louder, TV up, music louder and on and on.  LOL

A little while ago, I was sitting here, all desvelada complete with that headache that you get from little or no sleep, and, just as I was thinking, “I’m gonna go home and take a nap“,  the music in my shuffle changes and I actually jumped as “El Son de La Negra” comes on trumpets blasting, all loud and proud.  I actually smiled as I felt this music wake up my soul with its invigorating and empowering energy, I was this close to saying ‘VivaMexico!’ but don’t know how my Starbucks table neighbors would deal with it LOL.

Gone are the days of “rolling of the eyes” when I hear musica de mariachi.  I have the gift of my father who, at 82 years old,  STILL plays the guitar DAILY, who still blasts his musica, who is a walking encyclopedia of Mexican music and who knows all of the fun chisme folkloric back stories of songs, musicians, mariachis.  You better know that we Torres5 know so many of these songs word for word.  And, every time I hear “El Son de La Negra“, I am ready to get my grito on and sing all of the words to these great great great songs, songs that I have heard forever in my house, songs of the motherland, songs that make me proud to be part of such a colorful, vibrant, always-at-full-blast culture.  These songs or powerful “sones” are guaranteed to give you the chills when you hear them, go anywhere in the world, watch (and hear) the reaction when this song comes on.  Gritos can be heard from every inch of the place almost as loud as the mariachi itself.  The pride and joy are in full effect — from the mariachis to the audience, these songs regularly bring any house down, anywhere, anytime.

And, songs like these probably still drive people crazy on Saturday mornings because, yes, they are some of the best songs to clean house to.  Enjoy “El Son de La Negra”… listen, watch and tell me you don’t feel it!

 

 

 

Embracing Death with Love FELIZ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2017

 

#52essays2017  41/52

Dia de Los Muertos is such a beautiful Mexican tradition that has done the one thing that no one had been able to do: take away my fear of death. My fears surrounding death were related to things that I could only imagine: suffering, pain, leaving suddenly, violence. My imagination ran wild, I would imagine zombies walking about, people moaning in pain, screams of fear. Maybe it was all of the Halloween monster-type stuff in the movies and TV. Lots of the Halloween stuff is based on that, el Dia de Los Muertos is not…el Dia de Los Muertos is a great time to remember those you love who are no longer with you and shows you how to honor your loved one by getting their favorite things together and making them an altar.

Mama’s altar is on display 24/7.  We change it up for the holidays and the sentiment is the same:  we honor Mama and our good memories of her.  It’s so comforting to see her near her favorite window in her house.   I soooo love this tradition and love to see how my friends celebrate this special time of the year.   The holiday offers the hope that our loved ones will come to be with us one more time, the altars, the candles, the flowers, their things, their favorite foods are meant to guide them back to us.  Folks decorate altars in their homes, in the cemetery, at festivals, at celebrations.

I thought you would like to see altars created by my friends…so unique, so cool, awesome:

Ninel & Karla & The Cortez Fam honor their Mama and their loved ones…

Gracie and the Solorio Family honor their recently departed mother…

BFF Trini and Daddy’s Girl Trini honors her father along with familia…

Part of the Mejia Family’s awesome setup – this altar is dedicated to mariachis


Anna’s tribute to her father and departed familia…

My lil cousin Jami and Michael’s very first altar honoring their grandparents and Mama and their familia… loooove it!

And, here are a few pictures from the Ranch Dia de Los Muertos celebration honoring Mama and all of our fam who has departed…

 

Rest In Peace:  Margaret Torres, Edmundo Torres, Adela Melena, Prudencio Melena, Baltazar Perez, Neftali Orozco, Willie Herrera I, Juan Lucio, Mama Lupita Lucio, Joe Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Alfonso Grijalva, Albina Grijalva, Louie Rodriguez, Eddie Rafanan, Jenny Rodriguez, Jennifer Rafanan, Elio Rafanan, Robert Grijalva, Vera Espinoza, Ralph Espinoza, Joey Espinoza, Jess Grijalva, Rosa Sylvia Grijalva, Martin Prieto, Mark Prieto, Connie Cruz, Beatrice Hernandez

RIP Friends:  David Navarro, Joe Nieves, Maria Antonieta Garcia, Rosa Salinas, Rene Garcia, Roberto Vallejo Pantoja, Gabriel Rangel, Jr. Rangel, Cora Rangel, Marina Beltran, John Beltran, Susan Casillas, George Casillas, Ernie Gonzalez, Rosie Gonzalez, Rosita Aragon, Guillermo Prince, Salvador Sierra, Bernardo Santillan, Jose Gutierrez, Neal Sanchez, Ms. Gwen … I know that I will need to edit this as I’ve likely forgotten to list someone.

 

Gone. But never forgotten.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos.

The Breeze Through Mama’s Window

 

#52essays2017  27/52

It’s Sunday afternoon, between one and two in the afternoon, and, as I sat down to eat my lunch, I looked down at my plate, glanced at the TV, and looked out of the window, I had to smile, then I had to laugh.

I am eating mac and cheese, watching some movie on Turner Classic Movies, and enjoying the breeze from the window on this hot day. Why is this funny, you ask?

This is so something Mama would do.

This is Mama’s time of day.

This could almost be her sitting here eating her favorite macaroni and cheese, watching one of her classic movies and looking out of her window. As I sit here, I can hear myself asking her, “Mama, what do you feel like eating?” if she didn’t know, I would read off a list of her favorites…fruit and cottage cheese, tostadas, mac and cheese, salad…and 9 times out of 10, it was mac and cheese.

The breeze from Mama’s window is the BEST in all of the house. I remember, many times, how Mama would give a little sigh when we would open her window as she sat in her chair or was in her bed. At first, I was completely mortified that a hospital bed would take residence in the living room – especially when Mama had a perfectly good bedroom. Now I get it, the great breeze and being in the living room allowed Mama to keep calm and cool, to stay connected in her part of the world, and to live life with all of us instead of being holed up in a room in the back, in the back where the window was higher up and with no breeze.

This was the time of day when Mama would really rest.  It was usually quieter, and once I opened all of the windows in the house, the breeze would kick in, and she could relax and sleep knowing that one of us was in the house.  Even now, when I notice Mama’s time of day, I try to keep things quiet JUST in case she wants to stop by and visit us.

The day the folks came to take her bed away, the big sister in me kicked in when I saw my siblings faces filled with sadness. I made them bring in a table that minute so that I could set up a table with Mama’s pictures and things. We still have that table all of these months later, the table is right against Mama’s window and my sister changes it and blings it up throughout the year. Mama’s chair is in the exact spot where her bed was right next to her nightstand. If you sit in this chair facing the window, it’s all about “aaaaah” the minute that breeze hits your face.

As a family, we did everything for our mother and, for the most part, this family has decided to mourn “happy” – we miss our mother so much and we like her right there in the mix with us as we go about our lives.   It is very comforting knowing that, in some way, she is still in her favorite spot of her house.   Maybe the breeze is her way of stopping in to say hi to us.

At least I like to think so.

Turning The Tables: The Waiting Game

#52essays2017

Waiting.  I am not a fan of waiting.  Especially when this person doesn’t respond to my many calls to see if all is ok.  Waiting and worrying, a sure-fire way to make myself go crazy, so I’ve decided that, today, I will not worry if this person is dead on the side of the road, worry that this person has indeed been picked up and is in jail, or in a hospital, or worse.

This person does not owe me any type of explanation whatsoever and is waaay over 21 to be asking permission to go anywhere.  And it does not matter how many times I sit here and wait for this person, it is still the same:  is this person dead?  alive?  sick?  well?  in jail?  hurt?  and is anything wrong with this person’s fingers that I get no phone call?  I have been known to make myself crazy with worry, calling and calling and calling.  Getting furious with this person and with myself for getting so alocada.

I guess that, no matter how old you get, that you will always find it difficult to discover that, yes, your father has a life out of this house.  It could be for a minute, or for hours, that he is late getting home, and the tables turn q u i c k. On the one hand, my father is not chained to the Ranch, he regularly is out and about.  I tend to forget that the man is 81 years old.  But like anything else, you know the signs, or should I say smell the signs:   The smells of soap and cologne envelop this house, his good hat is gone, and, while he usually lets me know when he’s leaving to go anywhere; when he’s in “going out” mode, I get no notice LOL.   I immediately revert back to when I was younger, when the house never felt right when the “adults” were away, when I’d watch out of the windows looking for the white light of their car headlights driving into the Ranch.

Thankfully, I did get a call letting me know where Dad was/is and that he is ok.  While we may have to go and pick him up later, that is better than not knowing where he is.   I now get it when my parents worried about me not calling, not picking up the phone, not answering.  Karma, que no?  I also get it that I gain nothing by worrying myself to crazy and getting all mad at my father for wanting a night out.   I suppose that I should learn to relax and be blessed that I have an 81-years-young father who is still in good health, strong and sharp as ever.

This healthy, strong, sharp man still needs to let a daughter know whassup though…that’s another battle for another day I guess!

 

Open Letter to A Friend: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Death Sentence #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Today I received news that a family friend would soon be living with dialysis.  I was compelled to write a letter as it is a road that Mama and we, her family, know all too well.

When I got the news today about your diagnosis, I looked out of my window and the light of the sky looked exactly the same as when we got the news that Mama would need to go on dialysis.   I said a prayer for you that minute and my heart felt sad, just as it did a few years ago.  While we were all very concerned and sad to hear this news about our mother, we were uninformed and overwhelmed as we did not really know anything about dialysis:  would it be painful? how would this affect Mama? how did this happen?   All we knew is that it was major.  Add to this, Mama was adamant.  She would not go on dialysis and called us all together to tell us so.  We were almost desperate.  While we did not know much about dialysis, one thing was clear:  Margaret would die without this treatment as her kidneys were no longer functioning.

Eventually, thank God, Mama decided to undergo dialysis treatments under one condition.  That we know that she was doing this for US, and that we had to be with her, if she was going to dialysis, so were we.   Very shortly, our lives were completely changed.

Mama had to be at dialysis three days a week and we had to organize ourselves quick!  It took us a few weeks to adjust and eventually we had it down to someone getting Mama ready to go to dialysis in the mornings, someone to go with her, someone to pick her up if need be, someone to be home to be with her.  Was it easy?  No.  This entire family had to work together on our goal of keeping our mother alive and well.

The dialysis center will give you a bag and lots of information about what you will need to take with you on your treatments. We had to learn how to be organized and to have everything that Mama might need when she went to dialysis:  a bag with extra clothes, aspirin, medicine, snacks, gum, water, blankets, small pillows, headphones to watch the small TV in the chair.   My advice to you is to be like Margaret, take whatever you need to feel comfortable and secure NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS.  If you need four blankets, one rolled a certain way, another to cover you, and a couple for backup, than you do it and do not give in to anyone.  You are the one who will be undergoing the treatment for 3 hours or more, and you will get cold, anything that will make your time go by as peacefully as possible, do it.  God love us, we tried to tell Mama “why do you need that? are all of these blankets and pillows necessary? etc.   Your children will learn, as we had to, that, as long as you are able to make decisions about your care, then it is up to them to respect your decisions.

Please  pay attention to how you feel and what works for you, or not.  Some days Mama would come out of dialysis completely exhausted.  However, she did need to take her medicine and eat something.  Either we would have something hot and cooked ready or she would want to pick something up.   Once we would help Mama into her bed, the BEST sound ever was the sigh she would let out when her head hit the pillow.  I grew to love “Mama’s Time Of Day” — somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, where the house was quiet, she would either watch TV or look out of her window before drifting off to sleep.   Please do not be afraid to rest, please do not try to stay up or awake for anyone if you don’t feel like it, naps will save everyone’s sanity and give you the rest that your body needs.

Sometimes the treatments will make your body cramp up or your blood pressure will get low.   You’re lucky, you are able to walk and get up to walk off a cramp.  Our mother was partially paralyzed and cramps were sheer torture for her.  One thing that always helped Mama when her body would cramp was to eat something salty:  lemons with salt, pickles, olives, chips.  Sodium levels are low and it’s important that you tell the dialysis crew that you are cramping up so that they can help you out.  Also let them know if you are dizzy ASAP so that they can make adjustments to bring your blood pressure up.

I don’t tell this to you to scare you any more than you might be.  It will take time for you and the familia to figure out how things will go for you.  I can also say that I have friends who are on dialysis, who drive themselves to and from their treatments, who handle the treatments well, who LIVE for years and years.  I have one friend who has been on dialysis for over 10 years and is going strong.   There may also be the possibility of a kidney transplant as another family friend was able to do.  If you feel afraid, someone can always go with you to your treatments.  One of us was usually with Mama thru her entire treatment.

Dialysis is not a death sentence.   Right now, it is what will keep you alive and although I personally have not gone thru the treatments, I did learn how to make Mama more comfortable and, for a long time, Mama felt better (once she got used to the treatments) Although things were not easy, I would do it again in an instant if she could be here with us.  You knew Margaret, quiet but she spoke up when she had to do so and speak up she did when it came to her care and what worked for her — I know that you will do the same and pray for you and the family to muster the strength and committment to make dialysis work for you the best way possible.

Let your family and friends be there for you.  You are so blessed to have the prayers of an entire community, they would help you I know.  Our family has already walked the road that you are just starting on.  Any questions you have, any information you need, any fears you would like soothed, please call us.  We love you and are here for you.