Leslie's Omnibus

Rules of the Road

One of the things that's been a joy and a trial through the Princess Mom's illness has been the mountain of greeting cards she's received. They've been a joy because it lets her know her friends are thinking of her. It's been a trial because we have to read each and every one out loud to her, as she just can't seem to focus enough to read them herself... and some of them dredge up some pretty painful emotions for her and for us.

Since there seems to be a spate of folks around the blogosphere going through grave or terminal illnesses with their parents or partners right now, here's some do's and don'ts for sending mail to them:

Don't send a "get well" card if the family has told you they've agreed to palliative and/or hospice care. It ain't going to happen, it hurts to have to read those wishes out loud and it hurts her to hear them.

Do send a "thinking of you" card. That's truthful and welcome.

Don't say you're praying for a miracle. She's not and we're not. We're praying for good days and little to no pain. We're praying for a peaceful ending. She's good with God, and so are we.

Do say you're holding her up in your thoughts and/or prayers. You have no idea how much comfort we get from that support.

Don't tell her the forty different ways you're going to miss her when she's gone. I had to read one letter like that out loud to TPM, and we both ended up in a flood of tears. She's not gone yet! That was morbid and selfish, even if well-meant. It's not about you right now. It's about her.

Do tell her the things you value about her and your friendship in an upbeat, positive way. Keep it in the present. (In fact, you should probably do this for all your loved ones from time to time. Why wait till the end?)

Do tell her what's happening in your world. It keeps her engaged in the rest of the world and not so focused on all the crappy stuff that's happening in hers.

Do bring up funny anecdotes and favorite memories of times spent together. Her short term memory may not be so good, but her long term memory is great.

Do visit or call her, as long as you're willing to do it cheerfully. Talk about the latest movie you've seen, book you've read, your kids or grandkids, your latest round of golf. You won't have this opportunity for very long, and if you're going to take it, you might as well make the most of it. She's still able to laugh, and she'd much rather have laughter than tears. There's time enough for that later.

Thanks your love and support.


The Meezers or Billy said...

wonderful advice Leslie. You and TPM remain in my thoughts and prayers. - Mary

Nancy said...

You both are in my prayers. Please tell your mom she raised a good woman. She has a lot to be proud of.

Anonymous said...

I never understood the "card" etiquette. Just how do you tell somebody you wish 'em the best when they, and you, know the worst is comin'.

I don't mean to be a dick, and I certainly understand where you're comin' from. Having to personally read aloud those cards and thoughts from her friends about her, good natured even though they may be, can't be easy, and it wouldn't be for me either. If I've got to live with the folks that sent 'em, some of those folks would be dealt with in my mind one way, and the others, in another.

I'll probably get butchered for this, but if I haven't told you how I feel about you by "that time", and you haven't told me what "you think of me" by then, well, to me... it really doesn't matter if you send a card or not because, if I like you, you'll know it, and that works both ways. I won't need a card to confirm it. Memories are awesome as long as you can hold on to them. Good ones, and bad. Some memories you cherish, and some... you learn from.

I don't envy you havin' to go through the mail with your Mom, but dang, I'm not gonna lose a minute of sleep over a card when I'm in that place. If I haven't made peace with the folks that matter to me, then I've failed.

Leslie, to be honest, I'd probably cherish taking the "You suck cards"(which I'd probably get many more of) more then the well wishers.

I'll die sayin' "fuck you back" and havin' more fun doin' it.

What am I gonna do with 'em? Put 'em on the frigerator magnet in Hell?

I'm not bein' mean, and I sure don't want you to think that I am. I don't want you to think I don't understand the difficulties you're facing. It.Sucks. I've been through it three with my wife, and her parents, and her younger brother but I've been fortunate enough with my parents to avoid it as of today. The aftermath is as bad as the preface. Relatives can be ... disturbing with "what they want". That shit makes me want to hurl.

You make good points about reference in past vs present or future, and I agree with those fo' shizzle. One more thing, I don't want you to think I'm saying "too much drama", 'cause I'm not. I'm just speakin' my piece, and when it comes to cards I get, or what they do with me when I'm gone... I love my family just as much as the next person. We had this conversation earlier tonight and with me, I don't believe it will matter to me one way or the other.

Damn... that was sounds harsher then I meant it to be. You got my digits if you wanna call and cuss me. I'll understand.

Northwoods Woman said...

Please tell your mom thank you from me. Thank you for raising the most wonderful woman! Love ya!

pamibe said...

This is truly wonderful advice. Even the best communicators can become frazzled when faced with terminal illness and what is appropriate.

Still praying for you all.

Blonde Justice said...

A lot of great thoughts there, thanks for sharing.

I'll be keeping you both in my thoughts.