The background to the story goes as follows in 2004 my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had just retired that very week after working an extra five years to build up a bit of a nest egg. The trailer was packed his fishing rod ready to go and the day he was to leave he recieved a call that he had cancer. I moved back home to care for him and he passed quickly after only four months, the disease had ravaged him. I cannot even begin to tell you how hard it is to watch your hero slipaway from you. But that was a long time ago right? Dad passed in September of that year in December of the same year my mom was diagnosed with Mesothelioma (cancer in the lining of her lungs). The first few years passed with occasional trips back home (I live almost 300 miles from Cambridge) where I would stay a week or two and then in 2009 mom had major surgery on her lung and my visits changed to a more permanent residency.
I stayed in Cambridge and went home for a weekend every couple of months. I was exhausted both physically and emotionally. In the last few months of her life I was forced into a war between myself and the hospital staff. My mother had made her peace with her condition and yet the doctor continued to subject her to invasive procedures that caused her great pain. I raged and ranted and for the most part I would win the battle only to lose the next one. I would be at the hospital until 2:00 am some days because my mother was afraid to be alone. I went home for a weekend visit (my home) only to get a call on day two that my mom had turned and that I should get back to the hospital ASAP. The doctor had once again performed a procedure against my wishes and in doing so had caused an infection that had overtaken my mom's kidneys. I was livid. I knew as soon as I got to the hospital when they told me what floor and room she had been moved to that this was the end. My sister and brother were already there (ironic, where were they before?) and when I looked at my mom it took everything I had not to break down. It was just my oldest daughter and I in the room late that night when my daughter said to me "mom she wants you to talk to her, you have to tell her she can go." I crawled up on the bed with my mom curled up beside her and whispered into her ear that it was okay she could let go, we would be strong and go on that dad was waiting for her. I laid beside her and rubbed her cheek. Fifteen minutes later she took her last breath and was gone. Part of me went with her.
I made the necessary calls the hardest one being to my daughter Meaghan who was also in the hospital but in another city! Meaghan had fallen a few months earlier on some ice while out apartment hunting. She broke her back and was now confined to a wheelchair with an uncertain future. Meaghan was 26 at the time. We buried my mom that week. I remember holding this beautiful mahogony box in my hands and thinking these are my parents. I am holding my parents in my hands I struggled as I placed them in their crypt part of me just didn't want to let go. I had noticed during the funeral that my life partner John was behaving strangely but was so preoccupied that I didn't really see what was going on until much later. He said he wasn't feeling well and that he was driving the 300 miles home. I stayed behind to start going through my parents things. That night John was admited to hospital after coughing up blood. I packed a bag and raced home to Gravenhurst. It was while in the car on the way home that I got the call ( no I wasn't driving) that they had found a massive tumor in John's lung. After caring for my mom for three years straight I buried her only to have this hit me in less than twenty-four hours.
I had made the decision that January that we would finally tie the knot, make it official after fourteen years and now I was faced with losing my hubby. I thought my head would implode. Everything passed in a blur tests were scheduled an OR date had been set, the house was over run with well wishing relatives who were trying desperately to fit in time with John before the inevitable. John's surgery was scheduled three weeks before our wedding! I remember him being adamant that he did not want to postpone it. And so I planned out this beautiful expensive wedding with the help of my daughter Jessie my heart not really in it. I tried on wedding dresses trying to keep my best game face on even though my heart was beating wildly out of control. John underwent his surgery and laid in the ICU for a week before we got the news that his tumor was benign! Thank God! We still had a wedding scheduled in less than two weeks. John was released from the hospital a week and a half before the wedding toting a new friend, a bottle of oxygen everywhere he went. We were married on a beautiful August day outside in Muskoka with our family and close friends in attendance. I really missed my mom that day.
After John had recovered enough I had to return to Cambridge to pack up my childhood home. That is when the friction between us siblings began. My sister undertook everything with an air of authority ( she is a corporate executive and this is her way) just wanting to throw things out where I fought her wanting to go through everything with care and love. Even mom's ancient sweaters meant the world to me. I bawled my eyes out as I watched them tow my mother's car out of the driveway (even though it was coming home with me). I couldn't understand how so much hard work in life for both my parents had been reduced to this. For weeks I scrubbed and cleaned tried to spend time in each room saying goodbye. The house was sold and I have been unable to drive by it since.
The next battle came with the settling of the estate. I will only say this, that my mother had warned me before her death that I would find myself feeling angry and frustrated and that I would want to walk away and say to hell with it and then she made me promise not to. I asked her what she meant and she simply said "You'll see, there will be problems." I blew this off thinking there was no way that my siblings and I would argue over anything we were far too close for that. I was wrong my mom was right. Needless to say my brother and sister do not speak to one another anymore and that there are no more family Christmas'. I have tried in vain to reconcile this fracture (middle child) but to no avail. Not only did I lose my mom I lost the family unit that went with it.
After that it was simply the fallout of the neglect to my own life that hit me. The garden I had spent 10 years and thousands of dollars growing had been decimated in my long abscence. The financial debt I had incurred from living in one house and supporting another was sizable. But most of all I was lost. For three years straight I was my mother's caregiver. She was gone now so who was I? My health failed as a direct result of overtaxing myself for so long. I wanted to give up but that stubborn little streak in me inherited from my mother kept saying onwards the show must go on and so it did and here I am. I know that this was an incredibly long blog but I really needed to convey how deeply the events of the past two years have affected me so profoundly. I am grateful for what I have now, a wonderful husband who was able to share his wife for three years with her mother without complaint, five great kids and three awesome grandchildren. I am slowly regaining my health and working hard on my goal to maybe one day make a name for myself in the scrapbooking world! :) And with that ending I give you a few more shots of my layout. . .
I used Bo Bunny's Ambrosia line for its vivid colors ( a gesture to bring the same color back into my life). I made the distressed flowers with the Ambrosia papers and the rose is from Prima. Trinket is Bo Bunny of course.
This is the new Dusty Attic piece Branches and Berries (DA0729). I painted it with antique acrylic paint and once dried used my Tim Holtz markers on it. I found this piece delicate to work with so I used my water pen and the markers to paint it first then went over it again with one or two bold strokes of just the marker. Once dried I painted it with gloss to add the shine and strenghten the piece.
This is Dusty Attic's new Monarch Butterflies (DA0805). I used the same technique with this as the berries. Since my mom's passing I have never seen so many beautiful monarch butterflies in my garden.
More flowers and D.A.
I used the stamp from the Ambrosia line and stamped this image on whitecardstock. I colored it in with my Tim Holtz markers. It is a verse from the song by Queen The Show Must Go On and says "inside my heart is breaking, my make-up maybe flaking but my smile still stays on."
I thank-you for bearing with me through this long winded explaination of my layout. I just felt it held more significance with the background story to it. God Bless you for staying with me and reading it through. Have a terrific weekend! and again thank-you for looking-Pam