Sunday Afternoon 5/22/2016

We’ve experienced both great happiness and deep sadness here at Casa Aloha this past week:

IMG_3496WenYu’s graduation ceremony was fabulous. As parents of one of the class valedictorians, Brett and I had reserved seats in front (a surprise!), and were called to the stage with the other parents to present WenYu with a special medal. As you can see from the photo there were lots and lots of flowers given after the ceremony – WenYu’s were actually a bit subdued compared to some. At the back of the field where graduation was held, one Tongan family had set up a ceremonial area for their daughter. Blankets were laid out, including some exquisitely embroidered ones, for her to stand on, there were banners hung with her photo, and the area was surrounded by stacks of tapa cloths and huge, handmade ceremonial lei. Her entire family was lined up to give her lei and have their picture taken with her – she had so many lei around her neck that just her eyes were peeping over the top! Each family member also had a head wreath for her, but those were taken off after each photo was taken so the next one could be put on. This girl received no special recognition at the ceremony, but to her family she was royalty. I felt very privileged and moved to be able to watch for just a few moments.

IMG_3487Brett and I splurged this past week and bought ourselves the stainless steel kitchen island we’ve had our eye on for the past few months. It’s only the third furnishing we’ve bought since we arrived here nearly two years ago (the other two things were a nightstand and desk for the girls’ room), but we were wanting some extra work and storage space in the kitchen. We took a chance with the size, but it fits perfectly in the kitchen and everything around it opens without a problem.

My mom fell this past week, and although nothing was broken, x-rays showed she has advanced lung cancer (she never smoked). Because of her age, the stage of her dementia, and how physically frail she is, as well as the size of the cancer, her doctor’s recommendation is for no treatment, and she will enter hospice care before the end of the month. She is still currently mobile and active, but her appetite has decreased and her dementia has grown much worse in the last month. I spoke with her this past week, and although she recognized my name she no longer knew who I was or about anyone in my family. I am still processing it all, and for now sticking with my plans to visit in August (the doctors could not give any sort of time line), but depending on how things go that could change.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I finished Holy Cow (and still want to visit India), and have started Marie Kondo’s second book, Spark Joy. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and although don’t feel like I need to get rid of anything more, I have heard good things about Spark Joy and am looking forward to reading more of her insights.
  • Listening to: The usual Sunday sounds: birds singing, trees blowing in the breeze, kids playing outside, and lots of lawnmowers going. The washing machine is doing its thing here in the house, but otherwise everyone is reading or doing something quiet.
  • Watching: Brett and I have started watching The Mysteries of Laura on Netflix and are hooked. We both like Land Girls too, and tonight I’ve got my weekly appointment with PBS!
  • Cooking/baking: We didn’t do anything special for breakfast this morning, and Japanese pork & ramen soup for our dinner is in the slow cooker right now. I feel like I should bake something for Brett and the girls, but don’t know what that would be, and it’s too warm right now anyway for turning on the oven.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Brett and I got our big monthly Costco shop done, and stayed under budget again this month with our food shopping.
  • Looking forward to next week: YaYu finishes her school year on Thursday and then we are all on break!! We’re hoping to get to the beach again but it will depend on the weather.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: Besides WenYu’s graduation and getting our kitchen island, I heard from a former ESL student in Japan that she and her family will be visiting Hawai’i in August, and have planned a day trip over to Kaua’i to see us. Our guava tree is producing again and the few we picked make whole house smell wonderful. We also put $16.09 in our change/$1 bill jar this past week.
  • Grateful for: The memory care facility where my mother lives will manage her hospice care, so Mom will not have to be moved again and will have familiar faces around her when family can’t be there. Medicare will cover 100% of her hospice care, not only the medical aspects but social services as well.
  • Bonus question: Do you have any special graduation memories? At my high school graduation, we were surreptitiously handed a metal “cricket” as we headed into our processional. The principal and other speakers were very puzzled by the sound of hundreds of crickets chirping throughout the ceremony. Our son’s college graduation was held outside in May in Indiana. It was a beautiful, sunny day when the ceremony began, but as things moved along dark clouds began to gather in the sky overhead. Just as our son crossed the stage to receive his diploma the heavens opened and in seconds everyone – graduates, professors in full regalia, the band, and guests in the audience – were completed soaked to the bone (they had to issue our son a new diploma because his was ruined). We ran for cover and eventually met up with our son. Brett, I, Meiling and WenYu, who were just four and two years-old, looked like drowned rats, but our future daughter-in-law didn’t have a hair out of place – we still marvel at how she managed to look so perfectly pulled together because she had gotten just as wet as the rest of us (she still always looks effortlessly pulled together).

That’s a wrap for this week at Casa Aloha! How was your week? How is your Sunday afternoon going?

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12 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 5/22/2016

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Kris. We were totally knocked down by the diagnosis. Mom has had a persistent cough for years, and has required oxygen for years as well, but no one ever did a chest x-ray that we know of (or they did but there was nothing there earlier). Mom never smoked, but my dad did so lots of secondhand smoke for years, and I wonder if there may have been radon contamination in her home (she never would have had it checked).

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    • Laura says:

      Thank you. We have no idea of how long she has had cancer, or how fast it’s progressing. So far it seems to be localized in her lung, and hasn’t metastasized, but maybe not. She’s not a good candidate for even a biopsy.

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    • Laura says:

      The graduation was wonderful – so much more fun than any we ever attended on the mainland. They just like to party here!

      I will be visiting Mom in late August. My brother and sister are going in late June/early July. No one knows though how the cancer will progress or how fast, or how long she’s had it. We’re all still dealing with the shock – we just never expected lung cancer.

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    • Laura says:

      Thank you, Vivian. WenYu always glows from within.

      I’m still sorting out this week’s news about my mom; just not what we expected or thought was going on. Other than dementia, and more frequent falls she seemed to be in good health other than her appetite decreasing.

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  1. Hawaii Planner says:

    Congrats to WenYu – graduation is a huge milestone & turning point in your life. What an exciting time for her.

    I’m so very sorry to hear about your mother. Sending good thoughts your way.

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  2. Denise says:

    Congratulations to your wonderful daughter!

    When we finally had to move my dad to a care facility, his memory too had become much worse in a short amount of time. It turned out his medications were causing a lot of the new problems, and soon he was back to his regular self.

    I know this isn’t always the case, but it doesn’t hurt to check, especially when it happens rather suddenly. Hugs to you and the whole family! 💗

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  3. JJ says:

    Sorry to hear about your mom. I know it’s difficult in these situations, but please try to be grateful she has lived as long as she has and was in relatively good health. My mom died from ovarian cancer at age 68. Cancer does not run in the family and it was a shock. It really taught me to live each day to the fullest because tomorrow is promised to no one.

    Congrats to WenYu! Graduations in Hawaii look like they’re a lot more fun!

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    • Laura says:

      My mom has had a long life and she lived it her way. I don’t think she has any regrets. It may sound weird, but I am relieved that she will be spared a long, lingering end-of-life experience – I know that’s not how she would want to live and die. I so agree that no one is promised a tomorrow.

      WenYu had a terrific graduation – they know how to turn any event into a festival here!

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