Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Hello March!

As I reflect, it seems that February’s only redeeming features were Groundhog's Day, Valentine's Day, the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show (enjoyed from afar this year) and The Oscars. The rest was lousy. Here on the farm, we enjoyed a couple of days of 40 degree mid-winter thaw, only to have the normal Minnesota winter temps leave an acre's worth of glare ice between the barn and pastures, making it treacherous for horse, human and truck. After getting the Ford F-150 stuck on three different occasions, Ian finally traded in his brawn, shovel and 4-letter-word vocabulary and gave its 4-wheel drive the much needed bite of tire chains, which allowed us to once again easily maneuver 1000-pound round hay bales to the horse pastures without hazard or delay. I like winter well enough (aka our bug-free season), and I admit to having really enjoyed this one with all of its snow, but this Minnesota girl is beginning to show seasonal wear-n-tear and I'm looking for some spring!

March, which has come in like a lamb, can be as torturous as February bringing its own lion's tumult of storms. Its saving grace is the return to daylight saving time (the 13th) and April, when I finally trade my insulated Sorels for rubber, knee-high wellies to navigate the season of boot-sucking mud.

March is also when Ian catches me in age (the 9th). What a darling man and I continue to love him to pieces.

So, for a bit of catch up … Mom scared the dickens out of us a week or so ago when her kidney function went from so-so to crummy, with what looked like a downward trend. Brother Mark and his family put their Maryland life on hold and flew to Minnesota. I put Mom's preferred funeral home on speed dial. Yes, it was presented as that serious with dialysis not being her wish at age 86.

In 2005, Mom called her three children and a treasured cousin together for a family meeting to outline her wishes in To Do lists and notarized legal documents. Each attendee received a 3-ring binder as summary. I have paged through it tear-stressed trying to marshal some intellectual fortitude leaning on my many years of public relations expertise, knowing how 'events' are best when well ordered. For the moment, there is no other way for me to consider my mother’s death and funeral.

During one visit, updating Mom on what I knew of her kidney function, she listened, synthesizing the info through her post-two-ischemic-stroke mind, then looked at me, 'Are you afraid I'm going to die?' Yes. She mulled this over, and then assured me she was not in any pain (a comfort). 'Mom, I want to do what you want me to do.' She looked at me and took my hand adding, 'That is why I gave you the job you have (as her power of attorney), because you will do what I want and what is right.' My double-edged sword.

The silver lining in this emotional thunderstorm shone itself during a visit to the renal specialist on the 23rd. The doc reviewed Mom's records, her meds, chatted with both of us and relayed her suspicions that we were dealing with an allergy versus a true kidney function shutdown. What? – a rollercoaster of a month, this February. We will know more in two weeks time after med adjustments, output testing and monitoring of vitals. A big exhaled relief of 'not yet', as I put the umbrella away, stow the binder and feel the sunny warmth of mommy's love on my skin. Another of February's redeemers.

Through this, unbridled joy reveals itself in licks and wags as the now 10-month old puppies continue to grow into their giant Labrador paws. The first snow was unsettling until they figured out it was water. Jo-jo and Cleo run, romp, roll and revel no matter the temperature. Littermates, their personalities are more defined, as is their size; Jo-jo outweighs her sister by a good 10 pounds, but Cleo remains her formidable playmate. The miniature poodles are the Martha Stewarts of house etiquette – regardless of age or breed, one does not bound in the house with endless energy, running over human and hound alike. One wags its tail, pants and does as one is told, channeling energy into dog toys rather than furniture legs or carpet fibers – behavior deemed unacceptable warrants a series of sharp barks with a bite to the nose putting the larger loveable into a submissive, belly up position. This is the funniest thing to watch. And what is it with Labs and cats? They just love the felines, wanting to lick them and cuddle at every citing. Two of our three housecats have succumb, the third is tolerant to a point, but will go Wolverine if pressed. The barn cats scale the walls to watch unconvinced and un-wooed from the rafters.

Son Richard, who continues to live on the farm and work at the local casino, bought a Flip camera, and we may incorporate video clips in future postings. Won't that be fun?!

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