Changing Direction

I quit my job in July. It was a good decision, but I must admit that I am a bit puzzled as to next steps. Next steps for the long term at least, for the short term my plate crazy full.
Actually the past year has been crazy all around, and it started with a phone call last August. My father called to say that Mom was having open heart surgery so I flew to Texas. Six bypasses later Mom was recuperating and I was beginning to hear some rumblings about little brother Jim who seemed to be in the beginning stages of Cirrhosis. Combine that with a fall my mother took early November, breaking her right arm at the shoulder joint, and an ugly second trip to Texas over Thanksgiving. Things are looking bad right? But wait, there’s more. December my brother goes into the hospital for three weeks and I get word from my sister-in-law that maybe my brother’s Cirrhosis is further along than originally implied. Shit! Not what I wanted to hear.
January rolls around, my parents still aren’t talking to me and my little brother is out of the hospital. At least he seems to be doing better, but that’s where I get blind-sighted. He’s not better at all, if possible he’s worse. The Cirrhosis seems to be in it’s 4th stage and my little brother still won’t quit drinking. I start planning a trip to Texas in March because I tell myself that I want to see him one more time before he passes away. I’m communicating with Jim’s wife about this and also coordinating with my sister Debbie to connect with her on the trip. In route to see Jim, I hear from my father that Jim’s wife has walked out on him and taken their 2 boys with her. No judgment or blame, just stating the facts. I start to wonder what the hell DJ and I are walking into?
Upon arriving on the outskirts of town my Dad meets us at a gas station to “update” us on all the happenings. An hour later we’ve discussed just about everything, told Dad how much we loved him, and been given Mom’s perspective as to why she doesn’t want to see us. Oh, and by the way they are moving to New England next weekend with my older sister’s family??? What the Hell?
Dad is torn about this, I know he is. He doesn’t know what to do about Jim. I’ve been telling him for years that he needs to stop taking care of his children and grandchildren, and start focusing on himself and Mom, it’s actually what the fight was about back in November. This means Jim too. He won’t change his ways and Mom and Dad can’t make him. He needs to hit rock bottom before he will understand his situation. Let’s just hope rock bottom isn’t death. Do I sound callus? I hope not, or at least I don’t mean to, but the writing on the wall is clear, Jim has to change his ways if he even wants a chance at living.
So into town we go. Dad is going to pick up Jim and deliver him to us for lunch. Debbie and I cheerily text Mom, my older sister, and her grown children to come have lunch with us on the square. Debbie and I would like to treat whoever shows up so that we can catch up with everyone. When Dad drops off Jim it’s a shock, a total shock. I knew things were bad, but I barely recognize the little brother standing in front of me. Mom and my older sister don’t show up for lunch, but my two oldest nephews and their two little brothers do. It was a good lunch, but I leave town with a sneaking suspicion that I won’t see many of these family members for a very long time. That makes me sad, but I accept it. It’s all I can do.
I’m barely home from the Texas trip when April rolls around and I get a phone call from my brother Jack’s wife. Jim is in the hospital again and it’s looking dire. They don’t think he will come back from this and want to find a hospice location for Jim. I knew it was coming, but somehow it still shocks me. This is really the end…
But it’s not, Jim manages to pull through. His liver is failing, but miraculously his other organs are strong. He goes in and out of the hospital over the next few months, never being out longer than three days.
July rolls around and for the 4th of July week my husband and I decide to take our family to Disneyland to enjoy some long overdue togetherness at the “happiest place on Earth”. We all need some carefree time.
At 6:30 am on Thursday morning my cell phone rings. It’s a hospital in Houston, TX. Do I know a James William Jones? You mean Uncle Buck? Yes, I’m his niece. Well he has you as next of kin. Next of kin? I’m confused. I don’t understand? Is he dead? He was brought into the hospital unconscious and we’re trying to get in contact with family. Got it. Let me get you my parents phone number. I’m on vacation, but my mother is his sister and she will be able to help more.
What I’m not saying is that through all this craziness I am getting reports that my mother-in-law is having problems as well. This is not new though, my mother-in-law has been doing poorly since 2014 when they discovered a bone infection that had most likely been going on since 2013. She use to spend her time traveling between our house and her daughter’s house. Now she spends her time between a retirement home and the hospital, and it’s getting progressively worse. I worry for her. She’s a wonderful woman and a one of a kind mother-in-law, I couldn’t ask for better, but I don’t have the bandwidth for all this. KC’s sister has taken lead and is working closely with doctors and retirement homes to get my mother-in-law the best care possible.
So that’s how it is, I have taken over the trips to Texas for my crazy family, and KC has taken over trips to Las Vegas every few month to visit with his mother.
Some things are looking good, others not so much, and then one morning I’m standing in my kitchen thinking about all this craziness and I say out loud, “I don’t think I want to go back to work.” KC says, “Then don’t”, and that’s when I realize it’s time to change direction. My time at the old job has come to an end. I’m not too sad, it was coming anyway, but it still feels bittersweet and a little disconcerting.
As we roll into August things are unknown. Change is in the air, but I don’t know which way it’s blowing. I guess I’ll just have to hold on for dear life, and be mindful of my many blessings. My humor is still intact though, as is hopefully evident in this post. Armed with that, a heart full of love, and a desire to be at peace with whichever way the wind blows, here we go…

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