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Pregnant at 16 (Part 3)

When I left off in my story, I had set my husband free to go after the beautiful girl he had never gotten over and he was having trouble being cut loose.  He wanted to talk to me about why being “set free” by me didn’t feel as good as he thought it would, but when he called my mom to tell her that he wanted to pick me up from the bus station, what he heard from my mom was that there was another man in my life and he was bringing me home and it really upset him.

 

That was a turning point in our relationship.  He decided that I was the one he wanted and we started looking for priest (the other one had disappeared) that would marry us in the Catholic Church without me having to sign anything that meant my kids would be raised Catholic.  I was still going to church every Sunday morning at this point.  We were married by a priest a few months later with our Choir teacher standing up for us.  She had spoken to her priest and he had agreed to conduct the service.  It was just me, my husband, the Choir teacher, his dad and his brother in this huge church but it felt sweet to me and like I had the world by a string.  What I didn’t know at the time was that I was pregnant…again.  At least I had turned 18 and would be 19 when this baby was born.

 

We moved into a little apartment, our first place together.  I remember finding out that I was pregnant again and he was very upset.  I think it made him feel like going to a University instead of a Junior College, had just been pushed further into “fantasy land”.  Secretly in my heart, I wanted this baby.  I felt like I had matured (Ha) so much and I was eager to have a child as an adult.  I knew I was an adult because I got on a bus every morning and traveled into the city to work at a bank.  That’s adult…right?

 

I worked until about 4 days before the baby came and that bus driver would look at me with a skeptical eye and ask me every day when I was going to stop getting on his bus in that condition.  I would just laugh and hope I didn’t go into labor.  I had to earn as much money as I could before I went on pregnancy leave.

 

I remember it was the end of November and my husband was studying for a big test when I went into labor.  I didn’t even know I was in labor until my mom told me.  I thought I just had a really bad back ache but my mom wanted me to go get checked.  I did and they told me that even though I was barely dilated, the baby was definitely on the way.  I didn’t want my husband to get a bad grade on the test so I told him that I was going to stay at my parents house so that he could study as late as he wanted without bothering me.  He fell for it and I had my mom drop me off at the hospital.

 

My mom hated to leave me there alone but I told her I was just going to go to sleep and that I would call her later.  I never was one to want my mom with me when I had my kids.  She dropped me off at about 10:00 PM and I guess it caused a bit of a stir with the nurses because they didn’t like to see someone as young as I was, having a baby alone.  I explained why my husband wasn’t there and that he had no idea the baby was coming and that it would be just fine.  They told me how brave they thought I was and I remember thinking that bravery had nothing to do with it but I was glad they thought so.

 

He was born at 9:00 AM the next morning and when I woke up at about noon, they brought him in for me to hold. I remember when I looked down at him, he was looking at me with very big eyes that looked just like mine.  I said to him “You and I have been together before” and I knew we had.  My husband didn’t find out he had arrived until he got home from school and I know he was so glad to have been spared the labor room ordeal that had been no fun the first time and I was happy to have been able to give him this gift.

 

A few moments later there was a big stir out in the hallway and the other ladies in the 4 person room wanted to know what was going on.  One of the nurses came in and said “Never mind…it isn’t something that you need to know right now in your condition.  Well we all had a fit and said that we wanted to know what was going on so they told us that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.  She turned on the TV for us so we could watch.

 

I went home that night and when I got up in the morning, I immediately had such a splitting headache that I couldn’t stand up.  It was a reaction to the Coddle they had given me in my spine and it caused me to not be able to raise my head for the next 4 days.  The only thing I could do was lay and watch TV and the only thing on was the news about the assassination and then of course Jack Ruby shooting Oswald on National Television.  What a time that was for all of us in this country.

 

I really thought I was done with having kids because it was hard to try to raise a family and go to school (on my husbands part) and work to keep it all together.  My husband at times had three part time jobs while carrying a full load at the Junior College.  He was determined to go there for two years only and then transfer to Cal Berkeley.  He was successful at this plan and graduated from the University with a degree in Electrical Engineering.    But before he was able to graduate, I had this funny feeling I was pregnant… again.

 

By this time, I was 23 and felt almost like an older woman.  After all I had a 7 year old son and one that was 5.  I knew that I had never missed one birth control pill but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was pregnant.  I went to see my doctor (that same one that had seen me through the first pregnancy when I was 16) and he said “Don’t I have you on birth control pills?”  When I said yes, he told me that I couldn’t be pregnant.  But then he said “Wait a minute…what kind do I have you on?”  I told him and he said “O, well you could be because those are only 90% effective).  Only 2% of women given a Caudle get that awful headache after birth so I guess I am one of those people that are in the minority in more ways than one.

 

So I was going to get to have a baby as an adult.  I was elated.  When I told my husband though, he couldn’t handle it.  He was so close to his dream of getting a degree from the University and he felt that this would just be the end.  He wanted me to get an abortion.  

 

Back in those days things had progressed from when I had first gotten pregnant at 16.  Now, if you felt that being pregnant was going to cause you to have a nervous breakdown or something, you could get permission to have an abortion.  But first I had to go to a County Psychiatrist and convince him of my “unstable mind”, which I did…then go to a specialist and get confirmation that I was pregnant.  

 

My doctor gave me a referral to a specialist and when I went, the specialist was very rude to me and I was confused about why he was being so mean.  His wife was his nurse and she apologized after he left the room.  She said he was so against abortion and he knew that I was there for that reason.  I told her I didn’t want an abortion either and she said “Then why in the world are you doing this?”  I told her it was because it was what my husband wanted.  I remember how her face changed at that revelation, and it cause the wheels to start turning around and around in my head.

 

As I was driving home, I had to pull over to the side of the road because I was crying so hard.  When I finally cried myself calm, I had made up my mind. My husband was waiting at home to hear when the abortion could take place.   As soon as  I walked in I said “I’m having this baby no matter what and not only that, it’s going to be your favorite child”.  He looked stunned but he didn’t argue with me, he just accepted it.  I think he didn’t like the idea of abortion either but just felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what else to do.  

 

Looking back now, I think that was the beginning of the end of our marriage because up until that point, I had always let him do the thinking for me.  I thought that is what a wife was supposed to do, obey their husbands.  But my mother had a term for what I was experiencing.  She always said “When the worm turns…watch out”. Julie arrived and my husband just went nuts over her.  She became his little “Pork Chop” and to this day they have one of the closest relationships I have ever seen between a father and daughter.

 

I have once again exceeded the amount of text that is acceptable for a blog post but I wanted to finish this tale of being a young mom.  I didn’t want to do “Part 4”.  I may write more about my relationship with my first husband later, but for now I want to say that for someone who got married the summer before his Senior year in high school and had three kids before he was 25 and still graduated with a degree from the University of California by the time he was 26…well that’s just incredible to me.   I think he’s an amazing human being and a great dad to his kids.  We both made mistakes with our children like every parent does unless they’re Saints, but they are all three great people who have given us wonderful grandchildren and I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Thanks for listening.

Sharon

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What price Integrity?

Recently I was surprised to hear someone speaking about how he had entertained actions that at their core, were if not unethical, certainly lacked Integrity.  He reasoned that he had been tempted to lie in several situations, due to the current market conditions and all of the difficulty inherent in what is going on in his industry.

 

As I listened to him, I realized that my feelings about what he was saying, fell into the category of “judgment”.

 

I am always thankful for my inner voice because it went off like an alarm inside my head and said “If you are noticing it outwardly…it must be residing inside of you or you wouldn’t be noticing it in the first place”. This inner voice allowed me to check in and see where it was in myself that bordered on a lack of Integrity.

 

So what is “Integrity” anyway?  Is it doing what’s right?  Who says right is right?  Who’s the Judge?  When these situations come up I go online to Wikipedia and see what it has to say about the subject.  

 

“Integrity” according to Wikipedia, is “consistency between one’s actions, values, methods, measures and principles”.  It goes on to say that “People are said to have integrity to the extent that they behave according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold”. Hmmmmm

 

As I examine that explanation and apply it to myself, I understand a little more about what triggers me and why I am so affected when the triggers are pulled.  My biggest trigger is money.  When I got a divorce from my first husband, I went on AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children) and had to use “food stamps”.  It took several years to work my way up to the point of establishing credit in my own name, and probably would have taken much longer if I hadn’t met a nice man at the restaurant where I worked who managed a bank and gave me my first loan.  That loan gave me the credit I needed to get my first credit card in 1981 and I still have it today.  I keep it for sentimental reasons even though I rarely use it.  

 

I am one of those people who balance their bank statement as soon as it arrives and I pay my bills as soon as I get them in the mail and my good credit is one of the most important things to me.  However, being married to a man that is in real estate full time in this current market is causing my normal triggers to become “hair triggers”.  Almost anything financial can pull me away from my peaceful center.

 

So when I heard this person talk about something that I judged as “lacking in Integrity”, I realized I needed to look within and find out why it was causing such judgment inside of me.  

 

What I found is that I am out of alignment with my belief system and that’s what is causing me to go into judgement.  I know that we are all “One” and if I am judging someone else…what I’m really doing is judging myself.  If I apply what the Wikipedia says about Integrity and how someone is said to have it to the extent that they behave according to the beliefs they claim to hold…Bingo…there it is!

 

I profess to believe that everything is as it should be no matter what it looks like and that every issue in my life is an opportunity for me to test my faith and belief system and to grow and yet not having enough money to pay the mortgage can make me nuts.

 

So today, I emotionally let go of my house.  I told my husband that I think it’s time to put it on the market while all of the flowers are still in bloom and it is looking so beautiful.  He doesn’t agree and thinks that something will come along to bail us out.  Like maybe he will sell that 1.5 million dollar home he has been holding open.  It doesn’t matter to me one way or another.  He is my home and as long as he is walking on this earth with me…I am content and I feel whole, which is the true meaning of Integrity to me.  Wholeness.  Oneness.  Perfection.  Bless us all.

 

Thanks for listening.

Sharon

Pregnant at 16 (Part 2)

The summer after we graduated was a difficult time, I think for everyone in both families.  Here I was the youngest of three daughters and had the first grandchild on both sides of the family.  He was a beautiful baby and my mother just adored him.  My mother-in-law didn’t like me (after all I had gotten her son pregnant) but she liked my mom…everyone liked my mom and the two families tried to make the best of it.

 

My husband went right to Junior College while working as a stock boy at a local store, and I started looking for a job.  My husband, in the meantime, was suffering guilt because he was a Catholic and we had been married by a judge instead of a priest.  Even when we were dating, there were huge differences between what we believed.  Take sex for instance.  He thought anything that was that great had to be a sin and I thought anything that was that great had to be O.K. on some level.  His guilt grew or at least that’s the excuse he gave for moving back home to his parents house.  

 

I started looking for a priest that would marry us without me having to sign my child over to the Catholic church.  When my parents were kids growing up in the South, Catholics were “Papist” and the Pope all but had horns as far as they were taught, so I knew that I couldn’t sign any kind of paper saying I agreed to raise my kids Catholic.  

 

I found a priest in the city that thought it was worse for us to be separated than the alternative and he said he would marry us without me having to agree to anything but to raise my kids Christian.  I had been staying in the city with my best friend Betty (who is still my best friend these 50 years later) and I had gotten sick with a sinus infection but I just had to get home to tell my husband the good news.

 

The town we lived in was about an hour away from San Francisco and I remember getting a ride from one of Betty’s friends and I was so sick I was hallucinating on the way home.  We arrived at about midnight and I had him just drop me off because I knew I was going to have to sneak around the house and tap on the window to wake him up.  But he was still awake and at his desk studying and he let me in the back door.

 

I remember telling him my great news and how his face fell as I was telling him.  I asked him what was wrong and he admitted that what he wanted was an annulment instead of a ceremony with a priest.  He took me home and I know he felt so bad but it was the truth and he couldn’t lie about his feelings.  He had tried to spare me the hurt by blaming it on the Church and I appreciated that.  “I’ll think about this tomorrow” I said to myself ala Scarlett O’Hara.  

 

I was in bed with that sinus infection for almost two weeks.  It’s hard to heal your body when your heart is broken.  But…looking on the bright side, I went to bed a size 12 and got out of bed a size 7.  As my mom would say “That’ll help your sore toe” (I never knew exactly what she meant by that but she said it for every occasion where something good came out of a bad situation”.

 

After that I got a job in San Francisco with Bank of America and I started trying to put my life back together.  My husband and I would see each other when he could get away from school and work, to visit his son and sometimes we would go out.  Since neither of us were dating and I was so in love with him, some of our visits were very sweet and physical.

 

By this time I was sharing an apartment with my oldest sister Janice who was going through a divorce of her own and the man she was dating gave me some advice.  He said “Sharon, you are never going to get him back while you are ‘ever ready Eddie’, you need to make him think you are interested in someone else”.  I thought that was just nuts and I could never do that because I am someone who can’t act worth beans.  Everything shows on my face all the time and I know it. 

 

It just so happened that my husband called my mom one Friday and asked if he could pick me up at the bus station instead of her and on that occasion I had met someone at the bank that said they were going to my town and would give me a ride.  My mom told him that I didn’t need a ride because a man was bringing me home and did he want me to call him when I arrived?  He said yes.

 

O, I have forgotten a huge part of the story.  Funny that it slipped my mind when it was so huge back then.

 

When we were both in Choir, we took a bus ride to perform at another school and we sat together and talked.  It was the first time we had ever spoken to each other and he told me all about this beautiful girl that had been his first love.  He had broken up with her because she wanted to go dancing at the recreation hall and he didn’t want to and she went anyway.  Him being of Spanish decent…well that was it for him.  His pride wouldn’t let him back down after telling her that if she went without him, they were through.  I was too young and dumb to know that he was still carrying a torch for her.

 

When I was about 8 months pregnant, he came home from work late one evening and he was really upset.  She had come into the store and he realized that he still had feelings for her.  He was so upset and now I was upset and we didn’t know what to do but to go knock on our Choir teachers door.  We both loved her and trusted her and thought she had some answers for us.  I don’t remember anything she said to us but the result was that we both felt better afterwards.  And all the feelings went underground.

 

Now fast forward to a time just before me getting a ride home from the “other guy”, when my husband and I are having another conversation about his first love.  He had run into her mom and it brought it all up for him again.  I remember thinking about love while he was telling me how he still had feelings for her and I was able to tell him “If you love her, I want you to have her”…and I meant it.

 

That was the last conversation I had with him before he called my mom to say he wanted to pick me up from the bus and found out that I was with “ANOTHER MAN”.   The Spanish blood was on the rise again.

 

To be continued…

I said to the doctor I had found in the phone book.  He looked almost as young as me.  He had just started his medical practice.  I felt I could read his mind, “O God…why me?”

 

Of course he wanted to know if I had told my parents about my concern.  HA!  As I have said, our family went to church three times a week and there was no way I was going to admit anything unless I absolutely had to.

 

He recommended that I take a urine sample to a local lab and have it tested.  This was back in 1961 and it seems archaic to think of that method now, in the age of instant pregnancy tests that anyone can get at any drugstore.  Back then, a rabbit had to die which made me wish I could.  Not really though.

 

I remember going down to the car to tell my boyfriend (who was 6 months younger than me) the bad news.  For some reason, we laughed and laughed.  

 

Back then, abortions were unheard of, at least in my circle of friends.  I tried everything to make it go away.  We ran up and down a hill in 100 degree heat, I drank about a quart of Epsom salts (don’t ever do that), I prayed, etc.  Nothing worked.  My breasts just kept getting bigger and bigger.  

 

School had started and we were Seniors.  He was in the “Senior Mens Honor Society” and had the promise of a college degree and a career in Engineering.  He was such an enigma.  He was Mexican, rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle to school and had a brilliant mind.  Math and Science were his fields.  I was lucky to get through “C” math.  I hated math.

 

We finally had to tell our parents.  My dad was always a man of few words so I told him first.  He was stunned and said “This is going to just kill your mother”.  I thought he was wrong about that.  She was tough as nails and if anyone was going to get “killed” it was most likely me.  That was a dark period in my life.  I remember one night I was asleep and I was dreaming I could hear my mother talking.  I couldn’t understand her muffled words but I could tell she was highly agitated.  I was awakened by her sitting down on the bed and leaning over me and I woke up screaming because I thought she was going to kill me.

 

I quickly realized it was just a bad dream and that even though she was really mad and very disappointed in me, that was the extent of it.  I found out later that my sister Sandra had been the one she had been talking to and it was their voices that were muffled because they were in the living room and it was a small house.  My sister had been doing a good job of “guilt tripping” my mom about the way she had been treating me and that it wasn’t right no matter what I had done…and it worked.  My mom calmed down after that and accepted it.

 

We were married at the County Courthouse with just the lady Judge and her two assistants as our witness’s.  I was about five weeks pregnant when we got married.  If we were going to go through with getting married, I wanted to do it very quickly so that we could keep up the pretense that we had eloped over the summer and got pregnant immediately.  Then when the baby was born we could say it had come a little early.  It is amazing now to think of those old fears of “What will people think?” and what I was willing to do for the sake of appearances.

 

For some reason, his father would not let us live together for the first few months.  My young husband put his foot down at Christmas and told his parents that he was moving in with me and my family.  By this time my mom had just fallen in love with him.  He taught her how to heat up tortillas on an open flame by quickly grabbing them on the edge and flipping them over to heat on the other side.  She would always get distracted though and then the house would smell like burnt corn.  It always made her laugh when she did that.

 

I had figured that I should pro-act the situation at school, so I went in to see the Dean of Girls and told her that we had gotten married over the summer and that I was now pregnant.  What a wonderful woman she was not to say “What a load of horse manure that story is”.  What she said instead was “Sharon I want you to continue to go to school and as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable being here in your condition…you let me know and I will get you a Home Tutor so that you can graduate with your class”.  Jeeze Louise…what a blessing that was.

 

By January of ’62 I was going to school in smocks and was miserable so I finally got the tutor and finished up my Senior year with “home studies”.  Our son was born on May 8th so we were free to go to the Senior Ball.  What a night that was.  I was breast feeding and my mom (who was a seamstress) had made me a spaghetti strap dress and as I was getting ready for the Ball, she took a whole roll of Saran Wrap and started wrapping it around me. She went around and around and around with that plastic wrap until she was convinced that no milk would seep out and spoil the dress.

 

We went to dinner with two other couples and it was so much fun.  We had just the best time pretending we were like all the other kids, but as the night wore on, my milk kept coming in and coming in and I started to look like Jane Mansfield on Steriods.  I won’t go into what happened when we got home and he cut me out of the cellophane wrap as I stood leaning over the bathtub, but it was another one of those situations where he and I laughed and laughed.  

 

A few weeks later came graduation.  We were both in Choir and I remember standing up there singing at the Graduation Ceremony and hearing our baby cry in the audience.  In a way, we were just babies ourselves but it was time to grow up and do it fast.

 

To be continued…

 

(Thanks for listening to this part of my story.  It is so wonderful to share it.  I know that things are very different now with many other choices for young women that find themselves in this situation.  But I believe the feelings of fear and uncertainty are the same.  It all does come out right in the end though.)

 

Sharon

Well It’s now 4:46 in the morning and I still feel like writing.  Hope I’m not breaking any blogging rules but here goes anyway and I’ll remember to hit “enter” twice between each paragraph this time.

 

So mom knows that her time is short and she just continues to say her sweet little prayers each morning and evening, asking only that she be able to stay as long as she can take care of herself.

 

My best friend and I had planned to take a trip at the end of September on a Cruise ship.  It was one of those three day trips to Mexico and I sure didn’t want to go even though I had already paid for the trip. Mom had a fit and insisted that I go and my sister said that she would come and stay with mom so I reluctantly agreed.

 

She was doing fine when I left, still fixing her own food, taking her shower every day, watching her programs, working her “word seek” puzzles and just barely missing Chiquita every time she sat down.  

 

I called my sister from my cell phone when we docked at Catalina Island and she said mom was doing great and she was really enjoying her visit.  We chatted a while and I told her that after the boat got going again, I would be out of cell range but I would call her as soon as we docked in two days.

 

When we docked on Friday afternoon, I called and my sister said, “You won’t believe how mom has gone down hill”.  She had been fine on Wednesday and Thursday but in the night she had gotten up to go to the bathroom and had fallen and Sandra couldn’t get her up.  She called my son Todd and he must have flown out of the house because she said it felt like he was there within ten minutes of her call.  They were able to get her back in bed and she had not been out of it since.  I couldn’t wait to get home. 

 

We had planned to have our family reunion on the next day at my daughter Julie’s house and my mom still thought she could go.  She said “O…I’ll be alright…I want to go”.  My sister and I quickly rearranged things to just have everyone come to my house because we knew it was going to be a family farewell gathering instead.

 

The family reunion was a potluck and everyone visited mom in her room and she just loved it.  For some reason her voice had gone to a hoarse whisper and at one point she asked me in that raspy voice “Sharon, when I leave…do you want my shoe tree?”  She had made this thing that hung in the closet with a bunch of pockets that held shoes and I said “Well yes I want it but I have to tell you, I’m having a bit of a hard time with you ‘leaving'”, and she said with a dismissing wave of her hand, “O…just pretend I’m going on vacation”.

 

In the few weeks prior to her death, Chiquita became more and more protective of her.  One day as a friend went to hug her goodbye after a visit, Chiquita growled and snapped at her as she leaned down.  After that, my mom would hold her mouth while anyone outside of the family bent down to hug her.

 

Once during that time my niece Janet came to visit and when she leaned down to hug mom Chiquita (who didn’t know her) growled and mom held her mouth but let go as Janet was leaving the room.  Chiquita jumped down and ran after Janet and leaped high in the air and bit her on the rear end.  She had on Jeans and it didn’t hurt but we sure had to watch that dog from then on.  

 

So all day long it was a sweet day with so many family members coming to see mom and say goodbye. She was in great spirits all day long.  My children’s father, Sol, was there that evening and he was the last one she asked to see.   My mother loved Sol dearly.  We had been 17 when I got pregnant and “had to get married” and even though it upset her so much (I just can’t tell you how much…) she never took it out on Sol and he became her sweet son.  Sol had very thick hair and since my mom’s hair was thin all her life and she was almost bald after the age of 60 and wore wigs when she went out, she just loved his hair.  She used to say to him “Sol…I wish I had your hair and you had a wart on your nose”.  I have no idea where that saying came from.  It’s another one of those Southern things I guess.

 

The next day was Sunday and it was a quiet day.  My sister came back to my house and said that she was staying from then on.  We figured it wouldn’t be long.  My friend Terry came that day.  In the mid ’70’s she and I had gone through a “Nurses Aide” training program and we had learned how to give someone a bath in a bed.  

 

That night just after we had given mom a bath she started coughing and it turned into a strangling situation and it was just awful.  We had to aspirate her and when we finally got her settled down, Terry asked her “Mrs. Beck…did we hurt you?”  Mom whispered in her raspy voice “Yeah…you liked to have killed me”.  It cracked us all up.

 

I didn’t want her to have to go through that again so I said “Mom…I think it’s time to put you “to sleep”. I wanted it to be her decision.  She said “Yes…I agree!”.  So we gave her the Vicodin that she took every night so her knee wouldn’t bother her while she slept, and she went to sleep.

 

This was at about 10:00 PM and my friend went on home and my sister went to bed asking me to call her if anything happened during the night.  I knew what she meant.

 

So I settled down with my book and the liquid Morphine.  I listened to her labored breathing all night long and at about 5:00 I went into the kitchen to make myself a Latte and I said aloud “Dad…Janice, can’t you come get her?”  And I swear, in my head I heard my dad say “When was anyone ever able to make your mother do anything before she was ready to do it?”.  I said “O yes…what was I thinking”.

 

I went back into the room and I took her ring and watch off and I held her hand and said “Just fly away home mom…just fly away home”.  When I said that, one of her eyes opened up just a little bit and then closed.  She breathed in and out as she had been doing all night long and then nothing… I waited… nothing.  I thought to myself “O this can’t be.  This would be too much of a coincidence for her to leave right now.  I waited five minutes for her to take another breath while I sat there holding her hand. She never took another breath.

 

I woke my sister up and we sat with her awhile and talked about how lucky we were to have both mom and dad as our parents.  It was a very sweet morning.  We remembered that she had said that after she died she didn’t want anyone looking at her so we pulled the sheet up over her face and waited for the Mortuary people to come.  This was on October 5th…exactly 3 months after she had come to live with me.  Remember her sweet little prayers?  She was able to take care of herself up until three days before her death and Chiquita was on her lap or right next to her on her bed until the last day of her life.

 

My mom and dad had married on Christmas day and so on December 25th, 1998, my kids came over and we had a little ceremony in the back yard.  My dad had been an iron worker and a high school friend of mine made an iron box for me and on the lid it said “The Becks…reunited 12-25-98” and we put both of their ashes in it and sealed it up.

 

Today it rests under the huge Weeping Willow in my back yard sitting on my sister’s tombstone and I love having them with me.

 

So that’s my story.  I just want to say that it is emotionally enriching to be with someone in the last days of their lives and as far as the grief process goes, the thing that I think is most helpful is to talk about your feelings.  Find someone outside of the family to talk with.  And don’t forget that there is someone in Concord, California that has been through it and is always willing to listen.  I’m here.

 

Thanks for listening to me.  Sharon

Editing my “Post”

I just hit “Publish” after finishing my story and then clicked on “Visit Site” and saw that as I wrote I thought I was creating a lot of small paragraphs but it appears as one long unbroken narrative and I’m sorry that it is hard to read that way.  

 

I am still learning the best way to write on my post and all the ends and outs of how to do it.  Thank you for your patience while I learn.  Sharon

 

It’s very early in the morning and I am awake…wide awake.  Before I go back into the past to tell you about my mom and her sweet passing, I want to share something with you.
I got a call from my wonderful daughter night before last.  She is always so upbeat and bubbling with happiness.  She’s been that way all her life.  People are drawn to her like flies.  She’s the “Team Mom” of the high school football players and she knows everyone of them like they were her own.
So anyway, this little sparkler calls me up and with mirth in her voice goes into this long ramble about how she has something to tell me because it has leaked out to so many people on her dad’s side of the family and also her husbands, that it isn’t fair for me not to know.  She was trying to keep it a secret but you know how that goes.  
So I’m ready to hear some funny news and she says “Now mom…don’t freak out!”  I assured her that I dont’ “Freak out” about things and she tells me she has a lump in her breast and she is going in for a procedure this coming Thursday (tomorrow). She quickly goes on to say that she is sure it is a cyst and nothing more than that.  The reason she is so sure is because it is very round in shape and she has read that cancer is irregular and also she just feels that everything is O.K.
I tell her that I’ll go with that diagnosis of hers but that I want to go with her when she has the procedure done and she says O.K.   I have tried not to give it much thought but rather have a “wait and see” attitude, but it has given me some pause in the last 30 hours or so.
I remember once when I found a rather large mass in my breast that I hadn’t felt before.  It surprised me that it seemed to come up all of a sudden.  I called my doctor and he told me to come in right away.  I remember my thoughts as I drove to see him.  I asked myself how I would feel if it turned out to be malignant cancer and it was the first time I really got a look at my belief system.  I will never know if my answer to that question would have proven true in the face of a death sentence but my attitude that day was “I want to live for as long as I am supposed to be here but when I’m done…I’m ready to leave”.
Remember what I told you in an earlier post about what Danion Brinkley said about his “out of body” experience and the “Beings” he encountered?  I really believe that and somewhere inside of me today, I feel sure that if my daughter leaves before me…I won’t be far behind.  I’ll let you know what the outcome is in my next post.
Anyway, back to my mom and the nasty little cough.
So my sister and I took mom in to see wonderful Dr. Johnson at Kaiser Permanente to find out the results of the Xray they had taken of her chest.  Remember he was the one that she advised to “stick some Vick’s in that nose”.  He was so sad to tell her that the cancer had come back and it was like it had exploded in her lungs.  He said it was everywhere.  She wanted to know how long she had and he said “Not long”.  This was in early September of ’98.
They signed her up for Hospice right away and she asked if she could have the same nurse that my dad had because the whole family had come to love her.  They said they would put in that request and we got her for mom’s case worker.  Just so I don’t have to keep saying “the hospice nurse”, I’m going to call her Mary.  I need to give her an alias because she did recommend Marijuana for my dad and I think that isn’t cool for a Hospice nurse to do and I sure wouldn’t want to cause her any problems…Saint that she was.
I remember when she came for that first visit.  My mother got right to the point (ever the practical one) and said “I want to know what to expect at the end”.   Mary said “Well there’s good news and there’s bad news.  The good news is that Lung Cancer isn’t one of the painful cancers.  The bad news is that the way you actually die is by drowning in your own fluids.  You will know the end is near when you start coughing with a strangling feeling and can’t catch your breath”.  She said “When that time comes, we recommend that the primary care giver (I raised my hand and said “that would be me”) put you to sleep with a pain pill and keep you asleep with liquid Morphine (my old friend from my dad’s death), while your body shuts down”.  My mom said “Yep…that’s what I want”.  She had all the information that she needed and she just got on with her soap operas and her “word seek” puzzles that she loved.  
My mom always loved having a lap dog but hadn’t had one for about 30 year until my daughter got “Chiquita” and we were able to borrow her every day.  My daughter Julie had driven all the way to LA to get this little dog that was going to be put to sleep because the “mother-in-law” that had come to live with the family didn’t like her and the feeling was mutual.  It was Julie’s boss’s sisters dog.  That’s how she heard about it.  She just knew that dog was the one she had been looking for and she didn’t mind driving 12 hours round trip to get her.
Chiquita was a “Poo-wawa”, or that’s what we called the mix anyway.  She was part Poodle and part Chiwawa (my computer is saying “that’s not right but we don’t know how to spell it either” but you know what I mean).  She didn’t shed because she had hair…not fur.  She wasn’t really an attractive dog.  She was brown with curly hair and she sort of looked like a “chia-pet” gone bad…but we loved her anyway.
Until my mom came to live with me, Chiquita had to be home alone while everyone was at work.  So now I would go over to Julie’s every morning (Julie lives about a mile from me as the crow flies) and pick her up.  As soon as I would open the door to my house and put her down on the hardwood floor, she would try to run so fast to my mom, that it was hard to get traction.  It was always such a sweet way to start my day.
I just looked at my word count and it says “1202” and according to my blog class that’s too long for a post but I have to tell you a funny story about Chiquita and my mom. 
Remember I told you that my mom was a large woman, but to give you the right prospective, she was about 5’9 and weighed about 180.  So she wasn’t obese but she was still a large woman.  Anyway since she had such knee issues, it wasn’t real easy for her to walk around a lot and when she would go back into her room to her chair, she would turn around and just sort of flop back down into it.  It was one of those big leather easy chair loungers.  
Chiquita would always beat her back to the chair and hop up into it and jump out of the way just in the nick of time to keep from being squashed.  I remarked to my mom that I was concerned that some day Chiquita wouldn’t make it out of the way in time and she said “Well she’ll be sorry won’t she?”  Ever practical mom.  
After mom died, I saw a “Far Side” cartoon by Larson where a large woman is tacking up a “Lost Dog” poster and the photo on the poster is a little poodle and you can see the little dog squashed in the crack of her butt?  It was my fear put into a cartoon and my daughter Julie posted it in her kitchen and I laughed every time I saw it.
Well now my word count is 1432, so I really better close and just say thank you for reading.  I appreciate it more than I can say and this story is…”To be continued”
Sharon