Posts Tagged ‘family’

The interwebs are abuzz with the news of Robin Williams’ untimely death.  An apparent suicide.  Everyone is shocked and heartbroken.  Not me.  I heard the news and was not in the least bit surprised.  Instead, it almost felt like I had been expecting this. This is because of two bits of information I had gleaned from an interview Robin Williams had given.

  1. Robin Williams was bipolar
  2. Robin Williams was an addict because he self-medicated for the above disorder.

So when I heard the news today I was not surprised.

Actually it felt like I had dodged a bullet.  I felt relief.

Before you accuse me of being callous, I should tell you my story.

There was a time that I was expecting to hear the news that my mother was dead.  Every day I was expecting that call. You see, my mother is bipolar too.

It hit with menopause.  She kept getting worse.  More and more depressed, but with these weird phases where she would do things like purchasing a ton of blouses and shirts.  She thought she needed so many of them, and yet had a closet stuffed full of ones she had never worn.

The depression was crushing.  My mother, who had been so capable and strong, became unable to do the simplest things.

My parents moved to a new home, and a new community, and she could hardly unpack the house.

One Sunday my dad got up to go to church, not a surprise, since he was a pastor for so many years. He got in the shower, but got this strange sensation that he shouldn’t go to church.  He says God told him to go back to bed and not go to church.  This was a big deal for my dad.  He’s not a “skip church” kind of guy. However, the feeling was strong, so my dad got out of the shower, put his pajamas back on, and went back to bed.

Not long after, my mother woke up to find my dad still in bed.  She asked him what he was doing, and he said that he was skipping church.  She started getting agitated, more and more restless as the minutes ticked by.  Finally she started to cry.  My dad sat up in bed and asked my mom what was going on.  She tried to brush it off for a while, but finally broke. She had a plan, and my father’s presence was thwarting it.

Yes.  That kind of plan.

After dad had left for church, she was going to get up, put a load of laundry in the washer, come up and write us all letters on the computer, put the wash into the dryer, and start another load, tidy up down stairs, take a shower, make the bed, then take all her pills with drain cleaner.

That day was the first time my mother was hospitalized for her depression, which was then diagnosed as bipolar disorder.  I remember scraping the money together to fly over to help.  I spend the days unpacking my parents house, hanging pictures on the wall, doing busy work to fill the hours until I could see her. My lovely, amazing, broken mother. I remember holding her when she would cry, and knowing there was no way I could make it better. It broke my heart to see her this way, and see my father not be able to fix the woman he loved so much.

After they got her leveled out, years later, after many medications, and two rounds of electroshock therapy, my mother and I talked about that time. She told me about the utter lack of hope she had.  She said that she could have hope for us, hope that my dad would move on, and find someone else, hope that we would all be fine without her, but that she had absolutely none for herself. She said “If I had never been there, I wouldn’t believe it now.  I can’t explain it.  There was just no hope to be found.”

Thankfully, for my mother, as menopause disappeared, so did her symptoms.  She has been level for years, mostly without medication.

But I watch.  We all do.  When I say “There but for the grace of God…” you know I mean it.  If it hadn’t been for that voice in the shower….

And deep down, in the darkest corners of my mind, I fear that phone call. That one that says your mother lost her hope, and now you’ve lost her.

I feel for Robin Williams’ family.  I really do.  My heart goes out to them. They got that call.

I hope that good can come from this, that more people are made aware of the suffering of bipolar disorder and depression.  I hope that more understanding, research, and medication can come from this.

Most of all, I hope that this is a bullet my family and I can continue to dodge.  Depression can shatter a family; can destroy life.  I hope, not mine.

By the grace of God, I hope.


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My family has the remarkable ability to laugh.
We laugh loudly and often.
We laugh at ourselves, we laugh at each other, we make each other laugh.
Our laughs are distinctive. I could hear my dad in the audience of a play where about 1000 people were attending.
My laugh is just as distinctive.
At my grad party this December, a friend wanted us to get together for a family picture. Much laughter ensued. I thought I’d share the results with you. I knew you’d enjoy it.
Have a laugh on us.

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I'm home now. 
It was good and rough.
Hard to say goodbye to someone I love, and rough watching ones I love hurt so badly.
It was really sad seeing my dad say goodbye to the last member of his family.  Worse yet, watching him realize that the good reunion that has been happening for the last few years won't go any further.  And the most awful was that it happened on my dad's 60th birthday.
I also realized that I didn't really grieve, I was more into making sure everyone else was ok.  It's really starting to hit me, and I'm really sad, plus I don't have any patience for the little things in life at the moment.

I did have some great times though.
My Aunt asked me to sing at the Memorial.  My uncle, Norm, loved Elton John, so I sang "Your song" (with some minor lyrical adjustments…namely cutting out stuff about being a potion maker at a traveling show) and it went really well.  It made my cousins cry….I almost didn't get through it myself.

I also got to hear so many stories about Norm, and realized that some of my tendencies are not weird but family traits.  Norm had a photographic memory, and had a great memory for people, names, and Useless facts.  He also rarely slept on a plane :)  -things that are also mine, so now I know part of him lives on in me, and my dad, and my siblings.

I also got to spend some time with Mary.  She is amazingly generous and open hearted.  I hope so much not to loose her now that Norm is gone.  I really love her, she gave me my uncle, and that was a gift I will always treasure.

The really fun part about all of this was getting to finally meet Susan and Duncan.  They are my other cousins that I had seen many pictures of, but never met.  Let me just say that they are classy.  I already knew Tom and Meredith, and thought they were amazing, and now got to meet the rest of the family, and I'm just as impressed.  They were gracious, caring, and watched out for their mum tremendously.  I'm proud to call them family.

Dad and I stayed with Norm and Mary's neighbors, Lenny and Cindy (and the not to be forgotten Baby, the dog).  They had a delightful Baby Grand piano, and I found that Lenny used to drum for Patsy Cline, and so we had a couple Jam sessions.  They were wonderful to us, and I am so glad Mary has such wonderful friends to care for her.

O.k. I think I've shared enough for now…I'll have to reserve the obnoxious Best Buy experience for another post.  Let me just wrap up with the thanks;
Kelly-you are remarkable with your generosity and support.  Thanks for being a true friend.-ps I started watching Gossip Girl on the recommendation of your blog…we'll see how I like it.-
Carmen-despite everything going on with you, you guys being willing to come and meet me so far away from your home with a keyboard.  It was above and beyond, and so gracious.
Amanda-checking up on me, making sure I was o.k., thank you, you made me feel like I hadn't been forgotten.

Everyone at work who worked extra, and covered for me not being there…thanks.

So here are two songs, the Elton John one, that I sang most of, and one by Lou Fellingham that I sang Sunday at church, in honor of my uncle.

01 Your Song 11 God Of Mercy (Prayer Song)

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Norm and Mary Visit

I got to visit my Aunt and Uncle this weekend, and I had a great time as usual.  I enjoy them very much. The good things.  Norm has lost a lot of weight, so He looks great, and the sweater I made him looks AMAZING. If only I had a digital camera….then I could totally have taken a picture of him.  It looked wonderful. I also spent quite a bit of time with Mary. Norm wasn't feeling very well, and so she and I hung out quite a bit. Did some shopping, and had a great time.
Turns out Norm is having some serious side effects from his radiation from his prostate cancer 5 years ago.  It has caused his urethra to collapse, and he had to have surgery to rectify this Monday.  What's really rough is that, despite the hormone suppressants he's been taking, it looks like the cancer might be reoccurring.   We don't know if the tests are just a side effect of the infections he's been fighting, or it's really back.
He came through surgery just fine, and is already feeling much better.
Please keep praying for him too, and for Mary, who is carrying a lot of this on herself.  She and I had some good intimate times.  She told me some things no one else has heard her say yet, so I think it was  good thing I was able to be there for her this weekend.
I like them a lot, and am not ready to have Norm not be in my life.
Grr.  I hate Cancer!

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