Thursday, November 10, 2016

I miss you, Mom

2016 has been rough. I've started a blog post about my Mom having died at the end of October, then Blogger crashed part way through typing it out and I couldn't bring myself to rewrite it at the time. Ive thought about writing another one at various points over the past week and half, but haven't been able to bring myself to do it at those points, either. Here I am now, Gentle Reader.

This is an email I sent myself on October 31:

Having a hard time, off and on, processing all this. Over the past year, the flood of memories and things that have happened has been.... immense? Astounding? Unreal in the gravity of reality? Not sure how to put everything into words.

Best guess is that mom died sometime around Wednesday 10/26/16, though the county coroner apparently has marked it as Monday night. Regardless, she lay they for some time, alone, since no one found her until Friday. No autopsy was done, and because of the delay, the medical research group was unable to take her body. This makes me feel even sadder.

The events the days before aunt R. and uncle W. called are strange. Both in the thoughts, sensations, and notions I experienced, as well as how those around me were. Not sure how to process that, either. "Talking" with Havoc and holding her paw, eating lunch at the place where mom and would go years ago when it was called "the Mongolian grill" and having looked at the Mongolian beef and having a wistful memory of those times, minutes before getting That Call....

Little things that seem somehow profound.

Called [initials redacted] and was able to talk for a few moments with him yesterday. Felt important, somehow, that I make that call. Not easy, nor happy, but... needed done.

Talked with aunt R for a while this evening. More aspects of Mom's passing stand out. She had been buying and wearing oversized clothes, found with caffeine and diet pills of some sort in her medicine drawer, even though she had been still steadily losing weight. Indications of sleep problems as well. Her reclusivness and aversion to going out, while 'normal' as long as I can remember, had seemed to become more pronounced, as well, over the past years. The mirroring I had been experiencing leaves me wondering and concerned.

Aunt R also mentioned mom had started having memory lapses, and problems functioning with day-to-day tasks, cognative functionality slowly slipping.

At some point, mere days before That Call, Q and I had been talking about something [can't remember what the conversation was centered around, nor what prompted it, at this point], and I remember talking clinically about cellular degradation and critical systems failing. It's disturbingly eerie, now in retrospect.

So many little incidents. So little ways to concretely explain it all. Just, a feeling of... flux. Echos, reverberations, overlapping anomalies? "Follow the bubbles to the surface," but there's no specific surface to find, it feels like at the moment.

Reading an older article from the online version of Discover Magazine (Mom had got a subscription to it for many years, while I was growing up. Had saved the printed issues for a long time, and finally recycled them after lugging them around for a number of moves...) about the LHC earlier today, it made me think about all the various types of particles and their interactions as a peculiar way to describe people's lives and their interactions, over time, as we all move through the vastness of time and space on this ball of dirt and water we call Earth. That and how [paraphrasing Star Trek's term for it] tachyon messaging, moving through some [undefined, exactly] substrate seems more plausible, if not still somewhat ambiguous  [and unsigned/unverifiable, per se].

Idk. Just rambling here, in this text, I guess. Fingers and toes freezing, bit of a headache, and somewhat nauseous. Too much coffee, not enough water and food, perhaps.

-----

Had sent a few messages to old friends about possibly trying, again, to learn a new language, with the possible goal of writing an open source mobile app (or at least for various platforms) to do knitting charts. [Had also thought about the concept of an interpretive algorithm/AI - TYPE extension, for image processing to turn drawings/sketches into charts. Was thinking specifically line drawings for making textures and lace, akin to the idea of mosaic pictures, but with knitting stitches factored into the fabric weave, less so the specific color conversion [of which, there are already many programs for beading, cross-stitch, and fair isle colorwork out there.]] That's far beyond my current capabilities, however. I barely remember shell scripting and Perl, at this juncture.

Thoughts, though, I guess. Creating the Knit Modern Font [only partially finished and documented], and providing [marginal, at best] symbol augmentation to the Source Forge "Sconcho" project is a far cry from this sort of endeavor. *sigh and shrug*

I'm 42. Wtf am I doing? Idk, anymore. ;;

Then on November 6th I emailed this to myself:

well, it would have been Mom's 67th birthday. I spent the day wrestling to get into the laptop she mysteriously [and secretly] bought only a few weeks prior to her passing.

After "hacking" (and I use that term loosely, since it was more of a basic, physical access work-around and nothing fancy), I couldn't find any files locally that she made: no documents, photos, or anything personal, other than a few games she seems to have installed {and what seems to have been scam malware apparently bundled with some of them}. I dont know what I expected to find, honestly, but had vaguely hoped she might have left some indication of her thought process for events over the past few weeks. I have some vague suppositions, and strange notions, but nothing concrete, nor rational {in what I would usually term as "normal"}

Tonight, I reimaged the laptop with a clean install. I cried. I don't know what to do with this laptop, exactly; a gift that came at a depressing price.

I've learned {and relearned a few things I had forgotten} a few things, having had to delve into Windows 10 and DOS command prompts.

my existence feels... different. diminished and augmented at the same time. lyrics still drift through my head occasionally "wreckless thoughts survive"...

At this point, the intermittent "crying so hard I end up physically sick" has mostly subsided. The last I talked to her was August 30th. I ended the call with the usual, "I love you and I'll talk to you later, ok?" but for a multitude of little, lame reasons never did. While we had a tumultuous relationship over the years [what family doesnt, I guess?], she deserved better. Not to die alone, after years of pain. [She had back surgery twice, years ago, that left her with multiple vertebrae fused by titanium hardware. Through a number of falls (where she broke her wrist at one point, and collar bone at another time) the hardware had shifted, screws were pulling out and now a major portion of her lumbar and lower was misaligned (per the X-rays) but the extent of damage couldn't be completly assessed. The request for an MRI was denied and she was told to get physical therapy. Yeah, physical therapy for hardware that was out of alignment. Days after she died, while cleaning out her apartment, aunt R, as executor of her estate, received a letter saying that Mom's case had been reassessed and that she was now approved for the MRI. A horrible joke.] Somehow, I feel like I failed her. Mostly I'm numb, and try to not let the few, meager remnants of who I once saw as an intelligent force of will be reduced to the memory of a tired woman in chronic pain, once an R.N. for the State of Pennsylvania, dying alone. I'm trying to keep remembering her as that feisty lady with a book in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other (or pen), and a quick quip.

My year is ending similar to how it began, and this worries me. I miss you Mom. Love you.

Undated photo, Lori Ferguson sometime in around 1982-1984

I miss you, Mom

2016 has been rough. I've started a blog post about my Mom having died at the end of October, then Blogger crashed part way through typing it out and I couldn't bring myself to rewrite it at the time. Ive thought about writing another one at various points over the past week and half, but haven't been able to bring myself to do it at those points, either. Here I am now, Gentle Reader.

This is an email I sent myself on October 31:

Having a hard time, off and on, processing all this. Over the past year, the flood of memories and things that have happened has been.... immense? Astounding? Unreal in the gravity of reality? Not sure how to put everything into words.

Best guess is that mom died sometime around Wednesday 10/26/16, though the county coroner apparently has marked it as Monday night. Regardless, she lay they for some time, alone, since no one found her until Friday. No autopsy was done, and because of the delay, the medical research group was unable to take her body. This makes me feel even sadder.

The events the days before aunt R. and uncle W. called are strange. Both in the thoughts, sensations, and notions I experienced, as well as how those around me were. Not sure how to process that, either. "Talking" with Havoc and holding her paw, eating lunch at the place where mom and would go years ago when it was called "the Mongolian grill" and having looked at the Mongolian beef and having a wistful memory of those times, minutes before getting That Call....

Little things that seem somehow profound.

Called [initials redacted] and was able to talk for a few moments with him yesterday. Felt important, somehow, that I make that call. Not easy, nor happy, but... needed done.

Talked with aunt R for a while this evening. More aspects of Mom's passing stand out. She had been buying and wearing oversized clothes, found with caffeine and diet pills of some sort in her medicine drawer, even though she had been still steadily losing weight. Indications of sleep problems as well. Her reclusivness and aversion to going out, while 'normal' as long as I can remember, had seemed to become more pronounced, as well, over the past years. The mirroring I had been experiencing leaves me wondering and concerned.

Aunt R also mentioned mom had started having memory lapses, and problems functioning with day-to-day tasks, cognative functionality slowly slipping.

At some point, mere days before That Call, Q and I had been talking about something [can't remember what the conversation was centered around, nor what prompted it, at this point], and I remember talking clinically about cellular degradation and critical systems failing. It's disturbingly eerie, now in retrospect.

So many little incidents. So little ways to concretely explain it all. Just, a feeling of... flux. Echos, reverberations, overlapping anomalies? "Follow the bubbles to the surface," but there's no specific surface to find, it feels like at the moment.

Reading an older article from the online version of Discover Magazine (Mom had got a subscription to it for many years, while I was growing up. Had saved the printed issues for a long time, and finally recycled them after lugging them around for a number of moves...) about the LHC earlier today, it made me think about all the various types of particles and their interactions as a peculiar way to describe people's lives and their interactions, over time, as we all move through the vastness of time and space on this ball of dirt and water we call Earth. That and how [paraphrasing Star Trek's term for it] tachyon messaging, moving through some [undefined, exactly] substrate seems more plausible, if not still somewhat ambiguous  [and unsigned/unverifiable, per se].

Idk. Just rambling here, in this text, I guess. Fingers and toes freezing, bit of a headache, and somewhat nauseous. Too much coffee, not enough water and food, perhaps.

-----

Had sent a few messages to old friends about possibly trying, again, to learn a new language, with the possible goal of writing an open source mobile app (or at least for various platforms) to do knitting charts. [Had also thought about the concept of an interpretive algorithm/AI - TYPE extension, for image processing to turn drawings/sketches into charts. Was thinking specifically line drawings for making textures and lace, akin to the idea of mosaic pictures, but with knitting stitches factored into the fabric weave, less so the specific color conversion [of which, there are already many programs for beading, cross-stitch, and fair isle colorwork out there.]] That's far beyond my current capabilities, however. I barely remember shell scripting and Perl, at this juncture.

Thoughts, though, I guess. Creating the Knit Modern Font [only partially finished and documented], and providing [marginal, at best] symbol augmentation to the Source Forge "Sconcho" project is a far cry from this sort of endeavor. *sigh and shrug*

I'm 42. Wtf am I doing? Idk, anymore. ;;

Then on November 6th I emailed this to myself:

well, it would have been Mom's 67th birthday. I spent the day wrestling to get into the laptop she mysteriously [and secretly] bought only a few weeks prior to her passing.

After "hacking" (and I use that term loosely, since it was more of a basic, physical access work-around and nothing fancy), I couldn't find any files locally that she made: no documents, photos, or anything personal, other than a few games she seems to have installed {and what seems to have been scam malware apparently bundled with some of them}. I dont know what I expected to find, honestly, but had vaguely hoped she might have left some indication of her thought process for events over the past few weeks. I have some vague suppositions, and strange notions, but nothing concrete, nor rational {in what I would usually term as "normal"}

Tonight, I reimaged the laptop with a clean install. I cried. I don't know what to do with this laptop, exactly; a gift that came at a depressing price.

I've learned {and relearned a few things I had forgotten} a few things, having had to delve into Windows 10 and DOS command prompts.

my existence feels... different. diminished and augmented at the same time. lyrics still drift through my head occasionally "wreckless thoughts survive"...

At this point, the intermittent "crying so hard I end up physically sick" has mostly subsided. The last I talked to her was August 30th. I ended the call with the usual, "I love you and I'll talk to you later, ok?" but for a multitude of little, lame reasons never did. While we had a tumultuous relationship over the years [what family doesnt, I guess?], she deserved better. Not to die alone, after years of pain. [She had back surgery twice, years ago, that left her with multiple vertebrae fused by titanium hardware. Through a number of falls (where she broke her wrist at one point, and collar bone at another time) the hardware had shifted, screws were pulling out and now a major portion of her lumbar and lower was misaligned (per the X-rays) but the extent of damage couldn't be completly assessed. The request for an MRI was denied and she was told to get physical therapy. Yeah, physical therapy for hardware that was out of alignment. Days after she died, while cleaning out her apartment, aunt R, as executor of her estate, received a letter saying that Mom's case had been reassessed and that she was now approved for the MRI. A horrible joke.] Somehow, I feel like I failed her. Mostly I'm numb, and try to not let the few, meager remnants of who I once saw as an intelligent force of will be reduced to the memory of a tired woman in chronic pain dying alone. I'm trying to keep remembering her as that feisty lady with a book in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other (or pen), and a quick quip.

My year is ending similar to how it began, and this worries me. I miss you Mom. Love you.

Undated photo, Lori Ferguson sometime in around 1982-1984

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Farewell, old friend

Things just aren't normal anymore (or perhaps any less, maybe I just notice it more these days?). I'm unsure how to proceed. I've applied for some more jobs, but not heard anything back. Strange thoughts and sensations still occur, Fibromyalgia related or otherwise. So many directions at once, and I'm spinning in the whirlwind of nothing and everything at the same time. Perhaps that's just the peculiar nature of existence.



Jackie DeLong died, unexpectedly, earlier this week. Strange thoughts formed about the nature of what precipitated it. I don't know the details, but I have vague suspicions that it shouldn't have happened. An unhappy aberration. She was young! My age. 41. She just lost her husband, her children's father, less than 2 months ago to an equally sudden calamity. He was hit and killed by a car, just before Thanksgiving. Two young teens now orphaned in such a heinous way.

I think back on our interactions, and I wonder how things could have played out differently, better, for her. The notion that, had she never known me, things could have been better for her, perhaps. When she moved away, it was hard to be close friends with anyone new, the way I had with her.

When my mom moved us over the mountain to State College, in 6th grade, Jackie was kind to me, and didn't make fun of me the way kids back in my hometown had. She lived up the road, in Cooper's Pond townhouse with her mom, dad, and younger sister. Somehow, we just seemed to get along, and it was nice. I had my first friend who was my friend both outside of school, as well as in school. Something I hadn't experienced; no one had done that before. Jackie was a genuinely kind person.

We had escapades of all kinds: goofing off in the State Game Lands corn fields behind our neighborhood getting muddy and riding bikes, trying to learn to skateboard (and neither one of us being all that adept at it, though she was better at it than I was), helping me with babysitting a local terror-tot who could make herself vomit on cue when she was upset, boyfriends, hanging out at friends' houses coloring our hair, spending lazy summer days at the PSU Natatorium outside pool and jumping off the platforms, wandering around downtown, finding lost golf balls in the brush along the links that ran through our neighborhood... Just being... normal kids.

I introduced her to people, she introduced me, though some I regret ever getting her mixed-up with, like Matt Reyes. She dated him and he ended up being a complete jerk. When she was in 8th grade, he convinced her to sneak out one night and let him drive her mother's Pontiac. He totaled the car and wasn't even old enough to have a driver's license. I was angry. I was relieved that she was alive and unharmed, but so upset that she had gone out and let Matt take the car. I was also upset that I hadn't been able to protect her, that the whole episode happened at all. It was shortly after that incident that her dad decided to move the family to Florida. I blamed myself. I still do, in many ways.

Even before the family moved away, after the that car incident things weren't quite the same between us. Mostly I felt like I failed her.

My mom managed to somehow scrape up enough money for me to fly (by myself!!) to Tampa the summer between 9th & 10th grade, after she moved to Plant City. Making the connecting flight at Dulles wasn't as hard as I thought, and the Tampa airport was breathtaking in its colors, noises and energy. Two whole weeks in August in Tampa area with Jackie! I remember with surprise Tampa being smaller and not as tall as I expected, as the plane flew over it. Once her family got me back to their house, I remember thinking how strange it all felt. The front door had a gap at the bottom (wtf?! Bugs could just walk in!?) The grasshoppers in her front yard were enormous (the size of small birds) that could barely perch on your finger. It rained like clockwork in the late afternoons; huge, billowing thunderstorms that arrived with torrential down-bursts, then generally petered out just as quickly. Frogs hatched while I was there. The roads in her neighborhood were carpeted in tiny, fully formed frogs the size of a fingernail. It was rather heartbreaking driving because of the swaths of dead frogs car tires left in their wake.

I had anoles, tiny greenish brown lizards, as pets back home. Every so often, I would take them out of their aquarium home, and let them crawl around. They had jumped into Jackie's hair one day. We both screamed and laughed at the unexpected panic of tiny lizards tangled in her hair. Now she had anoles living wild in her new neighborhood. I remember being amazed at the little lizards crawling along fences, just hanging out in the sun. 


The time there was short, 2 weeks, and also long, because somehow we did so much, even when it didn't feel like we were doing much of anything. A trip to Busch Gardens and riding on a hanging roller-coaster; Tampa Bay beach (which was more of a narrow strip of sand hugging a shallow, warm expanse of water... I recall wading out for what seemed like a quarter mile, and the bathtub warm water never went past my waist); driving somewhere (Daytona?) with her and her friend, and marveling that the roads were paved with crushed seashells instead of gravel; watching some soap opera; going to a Southern Baptist church with cushions on the pews and women who would jump up and yell "hallelujah" or "amen" during the sermon (that was VERY strange to me!); the enormous palmetto bug (flying cockroach) that literally wouldn't die after being smashed with a book, and then moved the ceramic bowl placed over top of it; hours soaking up sun while swimming in her neighbor's pool...

After that trip, she drifted her way and I drifted mine. We would write each other occasionally and send photos, but our time connecting was mostly just abbreviated snippets of distant pen-pals.

The next time I heard from her was 1992 or 1993; she was to have been getting married, but her fiance left her at the alter so he could be with another guy (of all things). I can remember being torn apart. I wanted to go to her and be there to help and comfort her, but... for some reason, I had excuses. I had no money saved so no way to get there, Jeff was in college and I recall him dismissing the idea or dissuading me from trying to get to her. Maybe I was projecting? I'm not exactly sure why I didn't go, but it made me feel shitty, like I was abandoning her all over again.

Ironically, when shit fell apart between Jeff and me years later, she had somehow found my number and called me out of the blue. I remember talking with her while on the couch at the house on Leawood, Jeff sitting next to me. I was afraid to say much of anything real about what was happening, even though it was bad, and not long afterward, I overdosed to kill myself. I couldn't bring myself to drag her into my drama. She had problems of her own and I didn't want to add mine to hers. Some of it was guilt; I didn't expect her to be there to help me when I hadn't been there to help her. Again, I drifted away somewhere and lost touch with her.

Fast forward a number of years, and we reconnect again, via Facebook, this time. Tiny glimpses of her life through status updates and photos. She was beautiful and vibrant as always. Pangs of wistful voyeurism that her life seemed ok.

June of this past year, I uploaded photos of her that she had left with me all those years ago before she moved to Florida. Baby photos, toddler photos, young elementary school days, long before I knew her, or she even lived in Pennsylvania (her dad had been in the Marines, so they traveled frequently). It was like uploading pieces of her past, her memories, to flow through the Internet and hopefully, just maybe, pieces of happiness could find their way home to her.

Months later, her husband died. Now, shortly after that, she's gone, too.

A lifetime of memories are there, good, bad, happy, sad, angry, and melancholy. An entirety that cannot be adequately enumerated.

Be well, old friend. You were always beautiful starstuff, even if I lacked a way to tell you.