Saturday, January 29, 2011

He's gone

Less then 12 hours after I published my last post the phone rang.  Calls at 3:38 in the morning are never good, and this one was no different.  It was the hospital calling to tell me that my Dad had taken a turn for the worse; his heart had stopped, he wasn't breathing and that they were working on him.  I then had to make the phone call to my mother. That was the hardest call I ever had to make.  I then woke up her best friend to get her to go be with Mom and take her to the hospital.

By the time they got there Dad had died.

It was so unexpected.  I saw him on Sunday and he was doing better, sitting up, starting to move around.  So I flew home on Monday, knowing that my parents had lots of support from local friends to help them out when Dad got released.  When Mom visited on Monday and Tuesday he just continued to get better.  His catheter was removed, they started him on clear liquids and the OT was coming in to help him get up and walking. They were talking about a Sunday release date.  Mom visited until 7:00 PM Tuesday night and all was well.

The doctor's figure that a blood clot from the surgery got loose and traveled to his heart.  Mom chose not to have an autopsy, so that is as close to a definitive reason that we are going to get.

We had a small family viewing on Thursday for just Mom, Hilary, Liam and I and 3 family friends.   He was then cremated and in the spring we will spread his ashes at the cabin, his most favorite place in the world.

We spent the week with Mom, helping her with all the paper work and stuff that needed to be done.  Mostly though, we were just there to be with each other. 

My Dad and I had a difficult relationship over the years, but of late we had grown closer. I can't believe he is gone.  I will miss him.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


My Mom called last Tuesday, in tears and near hysteria.  She had been at the hospital with my Dad all night, after he collapsed and had to be rushed in by ambulance.  They didn't know what was wrong, but it wasn't looking good.

By Wednesday morning he was being rushed into emergency surgery and I was booking a plane ticket. Of course it's January in Nova Scotia and a big storm was just starting.  I don't know how much snow we ended up getting, but flights out were cancelled from noon Wednesday till noon Thursday.  Luckily my flight at 4:00 Thursday afternoon was only delayed by 10 minutes. 

I rented a car and drove myself from Toronto to my parents house, about a 1 hour drive (we won't talk about how I went East instead of West when I came out of the airport and how much time that added to the drive). Since I had been travelling all afternoon, I had no idea what to expect.  The last update I had gotten was that they were keeping him in a medically induced coma after the surgery, which found a twisted colon that was necrotic and had to be removed.  They were able to stitch it back together and avoid the need for a colostomy bag. 

As I approached the house I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head - if there were cars in the drive way that would mean that he had died.  If the lights were off that would mean that Mom hadn't made it home from the hospital yet. If, if and more ifs.

The lights were on and Mom was there.  They had reversed the coma and things were looking better.

Mom and I spent the next few days up at the hospital where each day brought more progress.  Baby steps, but progress none the less.  I was able to stay until Monday before I had to fly home.  Leaving Mom was the hardest part.  They have been married for 45 years and love each other so much.  She is lost, all alone in a big house on a big farm.  We don't know yet how long he will need to stay in the hospital, but it will be at least another week.  I did leave knowing that Mom has so many wonderful friends there, looking out for her and helping out when she needs it.  But it really is hard being so far away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Our winter project

I used to be very crafty - knitting, crocheting, cross stitch.  But then my Raynaud's got worse, and I find doing things with my hands to painful.  But I miss having a project to work on (other then scrap booking, which I'm woefully behind in).  I've never been much of a sewer (is that how you spell that?  It looks suspiciously like the thing the toilet is connect to) but Hilary sews.  I've helped in past projects but usually just cutting and ironing. 

We decided that we needed new quilts for our bed, and since we take a European approach to bed clothes, we are making 2 twin size quilts.  We picked out fabrics that complement each other, but are very different.  And I've decided to do my quilt all by myself!

 My quilt will be stripped blocks in oranges, pinks and greens.

Hilary's quilt will be blocks of smaller squares in blues, purples and pinks.

Hopefully we get them finished before winter is over!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #22

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

One year ago many of us answered the question, "How will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?"

If you participated in the January 2010 discussion, revisit your post and give us the one-year-later update.

And whether or not you participated last year, tell us about your open adoption hopes or commitments in 2011.

I ended up doing the exact opposite of my 2 adoption-resolutions that I made last year! You can read them here.

Liam’s adoption – I had planned on backing off and waiting for “K” to reach out to us. I would still send regular updates, but with a “the door is open when you are ready” approach. That all changed in the fall when Liam asked us to contact her and tell her that HE wanted contact. He even dictated his own one line letter to her so that she would know that it was coming from him. It was a hard letter to write, but I got through it and mailed it out. I even sent it registered mail so that she would have to sign for it and we could track it. She picked it up from the post office the day after it was delivered. And then the waiting started.

That was the beginning of November and we have not heard anything at all from her. Part of the letter said “If you don’t feel that you can committee to a relationship right now, we would like to ask you to at least send Liam a letter letting him know this. We can help him through whatever the outcome might be, but only if we know what that is. The unknown is so much harder, especially for an 8 year old.” I really hoped that this would at least encourage her to tell us to go pound sand and leave her alone if that is what she wants.

Liam asks every now and then if we have heard from her. I am very honest with him, even though it is so, so hard! Eventually we will have to have the discussion that we are probably never going to hear from her, but that we will continue to send her updates and that we have all of her contact information and that when he is older he can reach out to her again.

My adoption – my plan had been to tell Iris that I wanted more contact and to make some attempt at finding my father’s children so that I could know my ½ siblings. Somehow the year went by and I did practically nothing. I’m still torn on forcing contact with Iris, as it may well backfire and she just cuts off all contact. But at the same time, how is that any different then what I have right now? I still check the obits every day to see if she’s died, and after having not heard from her for more than a year I had a friend call the house pretending to be a telemarketer just to see if she still lived there and was still alive. (she does and she is)

I did spend some time on Ancestor’ trying to see if I could find any information on my father with the limited tid-bits that Iris has dropped over the years (his first name, the name of one of his daughter’s, the approx date he died). There were a couple of possible matches, but even then I didn’t really know what to do with that info. I have a suspicion that Iris and my father worked together, and that he may have been the boss, but the first names don’t match – not that what Iris told me couldn’t be wrong, in an attempt to further hide the truth. It’s a family owned company, currently being run by a son. Part of me wants to just call up and ask! But the fear of rejection and the potential risk of ruining someone’s life with news that their father had an affair for 40 years, keeps me from picking up the phone.

So my 2010 resolutions didn’t quite work out how I had planned. I’m not making any specific adoption-related resolutions for this year, but will continue to take things as they come and hope for the best!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Genetics and the adopted girl*

The rites of passage from girl to woman are often celebrated amongst the women of a family. Sharing stories about their first period or how all the woman of the family start developing breasts at an early age; comparing pregnancy symptoms and cravings; knowing who has been diagnosed with breast cancer; anticipating the family’s average age of menopause. These shared connections help the young women of the family know what to expect and help them to feel that they belong to their group of women. The older women take comfort in passing on knowledge that will help the young ones grow and hopefully avoid disease.

Adoption takes away those connections. Sure, the rites of passage can still be celebrated, but the shared genetic relationship is lost. My mother could not have anticipated that I would start to develop at a young age, since that was not the case for the women in her family. I have no idea if I have an increased risk for breast cancer, since I don’t know if the women of my family have it or not.

A few nights ago I ended up at the emergency room, doubled over with abdominal pain. Many hours and many tests later I left with a diagnosis of uterine fibroids. Now fibroids do not appear to be hereditary, but it really made me think about all the things that I don’t know about potential health problems (this is what happens when you are in pain, have had no sleep and are sitting around a waiting room for hours on end). I’m not going to run out and get a full genetic work up just to see what possible diseases could be lurking in my DNA. I’m not the type to have a preventative mastectomy. From what I’ve learned from House, a full body scan on anyone is going to show up some sort of anomaly, so don’t go looking for things till they are a problem. But at the same time, having some inkling that you might be more prone to certain things can be helpful information when it comes time to try and make a diagnosis.

*I realize that genetics and the lack of medical info affects boys/men too. But it does seem that women have many more genetically shared medical “things” simply due to the reproductive nature of their bodies.