Saturday, October 15, 2005

rivers of ice

I didn't want this to be a blog wherein I purge all of my own inner personal stuff. I wanted this to be about place, about nature, about the life I live and love here. But that life inevitably includes some things that happen that affect me deeply. I can't divorce the person I am from the story I present here.

I went to The Cities today. The Twin Cities, Minneapolis-St. Paul. One hundred miles away from the only place I'll ever call home. God, I hate the traffic. I had not driven in traffic like that in many months. And it wasn't all that bad, for the cities. I had Norman Blake in the CD player; good traveling music. I can now drive freeway to within five blocks of the destination, the home I grew up in in a suburb nestled on the northwest edge of Minneapolis. God, I hate that new freeway.

I went to see my parents. My mom is dying of cancer, and may not have too long to live. She was first diagnosed nearly seven years ago; the same day I found out I was pregnant with Starflower. Stage IV ovarian cancer; they said she maybe had a few months at best. Many months later, and occasional chemotherapy treatments later, she now has inoperable complications. It's in God's hands.

As if that isn't suffering enough, she has multiple sclerosis. She has had it for at least twenty years, her most acute symptoms coming on at the time I left home to start my freshman year at college. Gradually I saw her capacities dwindle, until now when she is in a wheelchair and has barely the strength to walk a few steps anywhere.

I could talk about what a stong person she is, to endure all this. But I can't, because, well, she isn't. In fact, she is not that strong. She has let her disease take her prisoner, or at least use it as an excuse to NOT LIVE. Let me be frank here. She is afraid. Of everything. She wouldn't even get a goddamn wheelchair ramp built on the house because she was afraid of intruders looking in the windows. So she's been in the house, wiht no way to get out, for a long time, and not even asking to get out. Not even thinking about asking.

My dad...well, let me start by saying he's one of the most intelligent people I've ever known. He was going to college to be a history professor before he met my mother. But as soon as he found out he fathered my brother, he settled down. Found a job, and stuck with it. A low-paying, demeaning job for someone of his caliber, but I guess security was more important than anything. I can't decide whether to be grateful to him or to hate him.

My parents don't talk about things. When my mom was first diagnosed with MS, she spent a week in the hospital and I didn't hear about it until I came home for Christmas break at college, a month later. I have issues with acceptance; I'm glad the number of times I check my Site Meter each day isn't public information. I was in tears when I left my parents' house today. I mean, they REALLY don't talk about things. My dad got all mad when Mr. Attitude spilled a Sprite on the carpet. There's way much more than this, I just can't say it all right now.

I don't know where I'm going with this post. I feel so sad, so enraged, so...disappointed. I really don't know right now.


madcapmum said...


That's a lot of row to hoe. We're not dealing with terminal illness in our family, but there are so many other "issues" that I feel like if I ever started blogging about them, I'd never be able to bottle up the frustration and rage again.

(You're not alone with the site meter thing, btw, though I blush to admit it!)

You feed my soul with your writings about place and nature, and with what you have to say about excess and pollution, too. I guess this is just another face of "pollution". Like our local Native people say, personal illness and troubled relationships are a concrete sign of something wrong in the larger world.

My prayers go up for you, as misbegotten and confused as they are.

Deb said...

madcap--wow, you were here, right away after I posted. THANK YOU! You don't know how much that means to me. It's been a rough day, and I thank God for The Hermit, and my fellow bloggers, the only people that seem to understand...:(

pablo said...

What good is a blog if it isn't a means of expression? You speak of your parents not talking of important things, but you have this mechanism to do the opposite.

Go ahead and speak about it as much as you wish. Your faithful readers (the ones who run up your site meter counts) will be happy for the insights into common humanity, and perhaps you will gain some new faithful readers as well.

Anyway, I know I'll keep coming back at least once a day, like I have been for months.

Jim said...


What madcap & Pablo said... too!

My family is all broken and crazy too, like every family I know of.

Humans seem to have adopted madness as their lifestyle and in today's asylum world the only people I know that aren't a little crazy are completely nuts.

It's a good thing there's so much beauty in nature to help keep us from going over the edge, although some folks might say I've been over the edge my whole life.

Our blog is meant to be positive and inspirational too, but how might we inspire others if they can't see that we share in life's suffering just like everyone else.

Your very real feelings are one of the most attractive aspects of Sand Creek Alamanac and I always look forward to reading your posts.

I was raised in a very dysfunctional family and this post hit me right where it should've, in the heart.

Thanks for being human.

By the way, I'll bet a large percentage of the hits on my blog counter are mine, when I'm checking to see who has visited, or posting, or editing, or clicking links to come visit my blogger friends.

I doubt if I'd blog if nobody was interested.

Lynne said...

You and your family are in my prayers.

Floridacracker said...

Now I understand your "rough day" comment on my site. Whew!

I was just thinking how beautiful and happy your kids seem in the photos you post, and how the Hermit is so proud in the picture of the wonderful house you two are building, and how happy and content you seem with your garden and your fishy job.

Then I thought...if her Dad had done anything different way back when...she might not be where she her Sand Creek version of heaven.

Take care Deb.

TroutGrrrl said...

Deb, Deb, Deb,

They don't really make bluegrass tunes about this particular aspect of life do they? Your description of your parents sounds like you could be talking about my parents too; except for the terminal disease. I am sometimes amazed at what bright, well-adjusted folks can emerge from families that don't have any appreciation for the subtlety, the diversity, the craziness, the art, the warmth of other humans and of themselves. You're another example of one of the good things this kind of family can yield.

Deb said...

Thank you for all of the kind words and insights. I never cease to be amazed at the sense of community that exists, even here in cyberspace. I love you all, I really do. :)

Lynne-hello! And thanks, it means a lot to me to know there's someone out there who will take the time to read what I write and leave a note.

Deb said...

I didn't have a lot of time when I wrote the comment above, and I wanted to expand on some of the thoughts expressed.

pablo--you're right, what good is keeping a blog if it's just cold hard facts and observations? That's why I am not much of a scientist, my intuitions and emotions get in the way.

jim-"In today's asylum world, the only people I know that aren't a little crazy are completely nuts." What a great observation, and so true!

floridacracker- That's an interesting way of looking at things, and probably true. Strange how things turn out, isn't it?

troutgrrrl-"I am sometimes amazed at what bright, well-adjusted folks can emerge from families that don't have any appreciation for the subtlety, the diversity, the craziness, the art, the warmth of other humans and of themselves." Exactly. What I learned from my parents was how to be conservative, cautious, never step outside the lines too much, and above all, don't talk about it! It was when I got away from that environment, especially when I had my own apartment when I was going to grad school 250 miles from home, that I began to appreciatey the subtlety, the diversity, the craziness, the art, and the warmth of other humans and myself. I am grateful those lessons are the ones that stayed with me. I only wish my parents could know the joy of living. The joy.

It sounds like dysfunctional is the norm for families; we're all dysfunctional in our own way. The best I can hope for my own children is that I can provide them a more joyful version of dysfunctionality.

the dharma bum said...

deb, i don't know you or your family well enough to offer much advice or guidance, so all i can say is that i feel for you, and that i know there is great strength in you from the way you live and that that strength will carry you through.

thanks for a very well-written and beautifully honest piece. good luck.

Deb said...

thanks dharma bum. You always have such nice things to say about my writing; I have a lot of respect for your writing ability so it means a lot coming from you.

Anonymous said...


Here I am, late to the party as usual. Long story. Series of "rough days". My usual demeanor: disgusted with gusts of rage. At everything.

It's why the Band-Aid has been dry.

I'll put it all in order soon enough.

I'm still misty over this post because I FEEL ya, Deb. I FEEL ya.

Stay strong. I'll do the same.

Hug the kids and the Hermit. They're where it's at. And the bonfire havin' neighbors. THAT'S home.


Deb said...

Thingfish, I'm sensing things aren't all good at the Band-Aid. Hang in there, and if you want to talk my email's on my Blogger profile. Take care.

lené said...

Hi Deb,
With so many sentiments already shared, I'm left without many words.

I just want you to know you're in my thoughts.

Deb said...

Thanks Lene. I'm kind of left without words myself at this point.