A couple of weeks ago, I was able to travel home to Minnesota to spend some time with my mom as she adjusted to her cochlear implant. It was activated that Wednesday– you can read more about that experience here, in my own words. In addition to being present for that big event, it was really nice just to spend some time with family– time that wasn’t centered around a holiday or a vacation; just normal life.
I spent some quality time with my nephew, sister, and brother-in-law. I went to work with my mom to be her dubious moral support. We did lots of shopping (no clothing tax in Minnesota!), and just hanging out. I unearthed all my old t-shirts and finally made the back and front to what will eventually be a completed quilt. This was my first big sewing project, and I didn’t use a pattern, or even cut my shirts down to be the same size, but it still turned out nearly perfect (with minimal filler fabric). My poor mom tried to tell me I was crazy, but with characteristic impatience I jumped in and I’m sure it was just luck that it happened to work out with the right dimensions. (Thanks for your help, Mama, and sorry for depriving you of your “I-told-you-so.” 🙂 I promise I WILL take your advice next time; I probably won’t get lucky twice.) I went running on my very favorite route. It’s my favorite because it was where I first got into running, and first taught myself to push past my limits. I hooked my mom on Fringe, one of my all-time favorites (every season is available on Netflix!) and got to be home for the event I miss most about living there: Sunday night snacks and Downton Abbey.
Being at home for the few days following the activation of my mom’s implant wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought there would be so much more adjustment– so much more emotional exhaustion. There was a little bit, of course, but not as much as I thought there would be. I got to witness a few exciting moments– my mom hearing the tea kettle whistle for the first time, among a few other new noises; practicing listening to the radio and tricking her into enjoying some hip-hop (she couldn’t actually tell what it was, but I knew she’d hear it better than other types of music because of its structure. At least it was some good ol’ Minneapolis Atmosphere). I suspect most of the “ease” was due to my mom just being a champ. It probably wasn’t as easy as she made it seem. But the gradual nature of the adjustment (increasing stimulation of the electrodes tiny bit by tiny bit, over a period of several months) probably does help. Towards the end of my time there, I was worried I wasn’t being much help. But Michael assured me I was, just by being there, and my mom confirmed that on my last day. So I’m very grateful to have had the ability and time off to go.
I’ve had this post written for a while and wanted to add pictures, but I kept avoiding looking through my photos from my week at home because I’d see the last pictures I took of our family dogs, Bandit and Kirby. During my time with them, I saw firsthand how old they had become, and how hard a time they had functioning. Bandit had several accidents, would often fall and not be able to get his back legs under him. He had gradually lost his eyesight and most of his hearing, and was handling it poorly; he displayed so many signs of anxiety. Kirby had to be carried outside and lifted back in; he was carried from bed in the morning to the couch for the day, then back at night. It was time. A little over a week after I got home, Mom and Dad took them both to be put to sleep. They closed their eyes at the exact same time.
I’m thankful to have my own pup to snuggle with. It’s made it easier to mourn my old men. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for my mom and dad, who probably feel their absence much more acutely. I still can’t bring myself to go through my pictures quite yet, but I want to move forward on the blog. So I’m posting this sans-photos for the moment. And I’ll sign off by saying: give some extra love to your fur-babies today.