Our Life In A Shoe

My name is Maclaine. Yes, that's my first name.

Location: DFW, Texas

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I thee wed

Today is the 4th anniversary of the day my sister-in-law and her husband got married. When you plan a wedding for over a year and your brother dies 3 days before the wedding, what do you do? There was a short discussion about postponing the wedding that was quickly squashed and then revisited a few times over the next couple days. The wedding happened, but it wasn't the formal affair that was planned. The wedding cake was arranged to be delivered the night before. After the rehearsal which was almost exclusively family anyway, we had a dinner and cake together in one of the meeting rooms of the church. The reception was cancelled all together. The wedding was more somber and tearful than most. Afterward, the family left the church together and we had a quiet dinner in an Italian restaurant that used to be a Dairy Queen. The honeymoon was postponed.

While this was a difficult time for all of us, it was especially emotional for my sister-in-law. As it turned out, the anniversary of the day they met was exactly six months from the anniversary of the day they married. It was decided that they would celebrate June 20th as their anniversary. On the Dec. 20, 2004, I wished them a happy anniversary and I was told that it was not their anniversary. I'll admit I'm a traditionalist. I'm also aware that this isn't in any way my call. For a long time, I internally fought with the idea that they weren't celebrating on Dec. 20th but I couldn't really articulate what it was that I was struggling with. This year I had an epiphany.

From today on, every Dec. 2oth I will pause and remember that day in 2003 when two people stood in dim chapel filled with tiny, white, Christmas lights, looked into each other's eyes and their love prevailed over death, grief and disappointment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I love my grandmother. She epitomizes unconditional love. Two weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to drop everything, ship my children off to anyone who would take them since Michael was in California on business and go to Massachusetts to help care for her in her final days. She had a tumor in her lung that we are all assuming was lung cancer. Assuming, because she wasn't in good health and didn't want a biopsy or treatment of any kind. She simply wanted to go home and be allowed to die where she was safe and comfortable with her family caring for her.

She was a very strong woman who seldom complained. Once she knew that we would honor her wishes regarding her death, she very quickly deteriorated, seemingly overnight. Monday she was fine. Nine days later she was gone. I know that not everyone that wanted to be with her, to help care for her, was able to be. I'm extremely grateful that I had the chance. That said, it was hard. It was physically and emotionally draining. At times, it was scarey. Sometimes lonely although there was always at least one other person with me. We bathed her and gave her the meds that kept her comfortable. We counted respirations to gauge whether she was in pain. We held her hand to comfort her, or maybe just to comfort ourselves. We all took our turns telling her good-bye. Reassuring her that when she was ready, it was ok for her to go.

The morning she died, we all gathered around her bed. We held her hands and told her we loved her. With each breath, you could hear the morphine gurgle in her throat. In surreally Hollywood fashion, I kissed her on the forehead and said, "Each time you've gotten sick, we've asked you to fight and get better and each time you have. You've fought a good fight. But now, you're body is tired and it's ok to rest now. It's ok to go. We love you." She took one last breath and let it out and out and out. I put my head to her chest and her heart was still beating. After a minute or so, I did it again and there was no sound.

We all bathed her and dressed her. We said our final good-byes. My cousin and I helped lift her into the bodybag. She said that she didn't want to be alone and we were with her until we had to let her go.

The hospice nurse and aid were a wonderful support but the vast majority of her care fell to my 2 cousins, my sister for the time that she was able to be there, my aunt and myself. My cousins have been like angels for her for the past 15-20 years, possibly more. They were always there for her for the day to day things like grocery shopping and paying bills, caring for her when she was sick and simple companionship when she didn't need anything else. Both of them have jobs and families but they found a way to make time for our grandmother too. My aunt was such a rock. Last winter, during treatment for a serious health condition, she learned that she also had breast cancer. Then in May, completely unexpectedly, her husband passed away. She'd just completed her chemo treatments and by all rights should have been at home in Florida with someone taking care of her, but there she was right in the mix with us doing everything she could for her mother and supporting my cousins, sister and I. My sister is working and going to school along with being a wife and mother but she also forced a hole into her schedule and came to spend all the time she could spare.

Because of our age gap, our busy lives and being scattered across the country, I've never really gotten to know my cousins or my aunt well. We've always had that, "I love you cause we're family," thing but not much beyond that. Through the anguish of watching a woman we all cherish pass-away, I think we have formed an impenetrable bond. Not only have we gotten to know each other in a way that we never had before, but we shared an experience that can't be put into words. Several years ago, my grandmother had an aneurysm. My cousin and I talked about how my grandmother was the glue that held the families of her two children together. We both worried about what would happen once she was gone. Neither of us wanted the distance to grow further but it's hard when you live such seperate, and demanding, lives. Now, we are faced with not only losing our grandmother but both of my grandmother's children have cancer as well.

At one point, I wondered if when she made her decision regarding her death, Gram had any idea what that would mean for those of us that would have to care for her and carry out her wish. Did she really have any idea of the demands it would put on us on so many different levels? Now, in reflection, I still don't have an answer to that question. One thing I do know is that her decision has hopefully cemented her family together in a way that I couldn't have predicted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Proposal

The backstory is that Andrew is now 12 And A Half and he feels strongly that he should have say in his hairstyle. What he doesn't know is that I have absolutely no problem with this within some reason - which he appears to still have. If he wants to go extremely long or get a hot pink mohawk we might need to discuss it first but really, in the end, I'm a pick your battles mom and I'm just not sure hair is something I'm willing to draw a line in the sand over.

His shorterish hair has grown out over the summer and his sideburns are getting close to being able to be braided so I mentioned that we might need a back to school cut soon. I could sense the panic. He doesn't want the standard 2 on the sides and 4 on top that his brothers still blindly go along with and he's once again started working me over to get to keep some length. So, I play along. Sure we can keep the top long, but not too long (**wink, wink**), No, you don't have to get the sides buzzed but I think we need to hack back those sideburns, etc.
A few minutes ago, he came to me with a proposal. "It's a win win, Mom. You have to hear me out." Sure. "You let me keep a little bit on top and a little bit of bangs. I'll get the back and sideburns trimmed a bunch and I'll give you this pen that Dane (a friend) gave me! See? It looks like a highlighter but see the hole in the middle of the highlighter part? If you twist the barrel, a pen come up through the middle. Isn't that so cool? You can have it if I don't have to cut all my hair off!!"

It is pretty cool... Thank goodness hair grows. I wonder what other cool things he's hiding in his room?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not Ready Yet

At the beginning of April, we found out that my almost 60 year old, workin out every day, getting a full physical every June, doing everything he can to be healthy father has prostate cancer. All through the series of exams and tests and biopsies he had we played the "it will be nothing and he'll be fine" game. Except we lost. On the prostate cancer scale, he was an 8 out of 12.

Because he has a fairly minor, but still there, heart condition, he's not a canidate for surgery. Because of a medication he is on, he's not a candiate for a different treatment. On June 6th, he started his radiation treatments. 42 treatments that concluded on Tuesday. And now we're in the 2 week wait. We give the last treatment time to do it's thing and then they test to see what's left in there. They said the test would take probably another 2 weeks. And we wait.

And we play the game again. But I'm losing faith in the game. Everyone is all smiles and optimism on the outside, as am I. But on the inside, I'm holding my breath because if I don't I'm going to scream and cry and puke all at once. I don't like my options for how this game is going to end. Either, they will say he is fine and we will hold our breath some more (for the next 100 years) wondering when it will come back OR the radiation will have not worked and we will begin our saying good-bye. Because the options that are available to him are limited, my dad as already spent a long time pondering, soul searching and discussing with his dr. They both feel that if he wants to maintain any kind of quality of life, that radiation was his only treatment option. My dad has absolutely, positively decided that this is it. All or nothing.

I don't want to play this game. I can't force my hope to rise to the top only to have the bottom fall out again. Cancer sucks.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


When I was in middle school, Ashely Gigandet and I were in separable. She lived next door and was in my class so we were pretty much never more than 50 yards from each other. She used to eat pickle and mustard sandwiches everday after school. In the 20+ years since then, I've never know anyone else to share the pickle/mustard obsession.

With Carter's Crohn's disease, his diet is very, very limited. Kate got him hooked on pickles (her first true love) and recently, he got his first taste of mustard. Two great tastes that taste great together? Apparently. Now all he wants for lunch (and sometimes breakfast and/or dinner) is a relish and mustard sandwich. Just as long as you don't ask me to share (yuck!!).

The Price of Sanity

hour long spa pedi (delux of course) - $35
cute pots of vanilla honey sugar rub and peppermint body polish - $11
small cup of donatella gelato - $3.29
bouquet of hot pink and lime green cut flowers - $15
an afternoon of retail therapy - priceless

Friday, February 23, 2007


"Mom, I'm a beautiful BUTTERFLY!! See my wings? Pink outside and green in here. And I eat sap and honey from the ground with my SPOON!"

"Not with your straw mouth?"

"Huh? no."

Carter, age 4

Monday, February 19, 2007

+1 in the brother column

Today, my daughter gained a 6th brother. Welcome Logan Chase who was born at 10am this morning. He was 6#1oz and 19". Everyone is doing great and the kids can't wait to meet him. Congrats to my xhusband and his wife!