Sunday, May 31, 2009

Adelaide Maria Josephine DiBrizzi Dooley

Adelaide/Mom/Nonna passed on very peacefully. Saturday was a restless day where she ate only a little watermelon, and was hardly drinking anything. After she finally closed her eyes and fell asleep around 2AM, I went to sleep and Cathy was taking her "turn" on the night shift. Adelaide stopped breathing 3:15AM. It was so gentle and quiet a passing we could hardly believe it.

Thanks for your love and support which buoyed us through this time. It was intense but considering her advanced disease, and the harsh nature of pancreatic cancer, her death came as a blessing, quickly and more peacefully than any of us imagined possible.

Love, Norah +Cathy
e la famiglia

Saturday, May 30, 2009


My mom is loving watermelon - Her nonna ( my great-grandmother, Maria Terelli) used to say: "Frutta meravigliosa- mangia, beve e lavi tu faccia!" which means "What a wonderful fruit, eat, drink and wash your face." But what do you call it in Genovese? Or in Napolitano ? Dialetti pui diversi, Cocomero or anguira? Non lo so? Any paisani out there?

And check out the square watermelon developed in Italia!

For the moment...

" I am fine, for the moment," says my mom. She is drowsy and a bit "stupafacente" literally stunned or in southern Italian "stanod" after 6 straight hours of morphine assisted sleep. She says she doesn't want to eat and refused ice chips? But she has her moments. After refusing she said - " Imagine, me refusing ice chips!" When I say she looks crumpled up on the bed and needs repositioning and she says " I am crumpet." I say "Yes, you are a lovely little crumpet! " Imagining it as an English term of endearment, I use a pommy accent. She says, "No, I am not." We arrive at "cheeky monkey" as her status and she smiles. Very quiet morning. Wondering...
and listening to some nice music too.

Friday, May 29, 2009

vigil (from the Latin vigilia, meaning wakefulness)

A vigil (from the Latin vigilia, meaning wakefulness) is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. It can also be the eve of a religious festival observed by staying awake as a devotional exercise or ritual devotions observed on the eve of a holy day. A vigil is often held when someone is gravely ill or dying. Prayers are said and votives are often made. Vigils extend from eventual death to burial, ritualistically to pray for a loved one, but more practically so they are never alone.

Note to self - One book talks about incenses and candles for the vigilers. Gotta watch the smells and bells mix with the oxygen use. Or we will all go to "kingdom come" together.

slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles...
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to....

We are having a hard time getting the medical people who are helping us understand that we went from "Gee mom you look a bit jaundiced. " to a "Holy crap, you have cancer everywhere." in just a month. They would not even talk to us about what to expect or an actual diagnosis with any prognosis at all until May 20th. So we are not as with it as other families who have been living with a diagnosis of cancer might be. Or maybe we just imagine a better case for others because this has been so bewilderingly quick? And medical people have not been very explicit - or maybe in their father tongue*medical speak they think they have said it all but really they have not.

The effect on my mom is what bothers me most. She is unclear on the swift progression of her disease. My mother was so worried last night that she needed to regain her ability to walk. She never intended to come live with us in the condition she is in. Just over a week ago h
er Physical Therapist said she was a "superstar" at her rehab. She could pull herself out of bed and walk, with supervision, to the bathroom. The next day she was zipped out by ambulance to the ER and has not been able to move on her own since.

The hospice peeps are here. And we are getting some serious instruction- at last.

* Father tongue - from Ursula LeGuinn

" You came here to college to learn the language of power - to be empowered. If you want to succeed in business, government, law, engineering, science, education, the media, if you want to succeed, you have to be fluent in the language in which "success" is a meaningful word.

White man speak with forked tongue; White man speak dichotomy. His language expresses the values of the split world, valuing the positive and devaluing the negative in each redivision: subject/object, self/other, mind/body, dominant/submissive, active/passive, Man/Nature, man/woman, and so on. The father tongue is spoken from above. It goes one way. No answer is expected, or heard.

In our Constitution and the works of law, philosophy, social thought, and science, in its everyday uses in the service of justice and clarity, what I call the father tongue is immensely noble and indispensably useful. When it claims a privileged relationship to reality, it becomes dangerous and potentially destructive. It describes with exquisite accuracy the continuing destruction of the planet's ecosystem by its speakers. This word from its vocabulary, "ecosystem," is a word unnecessary except in a discourse that excludes its speakers from the ecosystem in a subject/object dichotomy of terminal irresponsibility.

The language of the fathers, of Man Ascending, Man the Conqueror, Civilized Man, is not your native tongue. It isn't anybody's native tongue. You didn't even hear the father tongue your first few years, except on the radio or TV, and then you didn't listen, and neither did your little brother, because it was some old politician with hairs in his nose yammering. And you and your brother had better things to do. You had another kind of power to learn. You were learning your mother tongue.

Using the father tongue, I can speak of the mother tongue only, inevitably, to distance it -- to exclude it. It is the other, inferior. It is primitive: inaccurate, unclear, coarse, limited, trivial, banal. It's repetitive, the same over and over, like the work called women's work; earthbound, housebound. It's vulgar, the vulgar tongue, common, common speech, colloquial, low, ordinary, plebeian, like the work ordinary people do, the lives common people live. The mother tongue, spoken or written, expects an answer. It is conversation, a word the root of which means "turning together." The mother tongue is language not as mere communication but as relation, relationship. It connects. It goes two ways, many ways, an exchange, a network. Its power is not in dividing but in binding, not in distancing but in uniting. It is written, but not by scribes and secretaries for posterity: it flies from the mouth on the breath that is our life and is gone, like the outbreath, utterly gone and yet returning, repeated, the breath the same again always, everywhere, and we all know it by heart.

John have you got your umbrella I think it's going to rain. Can you come play with me? If I told you once I told you a hundred times. Things here just aren't the same without Mother, I will now sign your affectionate brother James. Oh what am I going to do? So I said to her I said if he thinks she's going to stand for that but them there's his arthritis poor thing and no work. I love you. I hate you. I hate liver. Joan dear did you feed the sheep, don't just stand around mooning. Tell me what they said, tell me what you did. Oh how my feet do hurt. My heart is breaking. Touch me here, touch me again. Once bit twice shy. You look like what the cat dragged in. What a beautiful night. Good morning, hello, goodbye, have a nice day, thanks. God damn you to hell you lying cheat. Pass the soy sauce please. Oh shit. Is it grandma's own sweet pretty dear? What am I going to tell her? There there don't cry. Go to sleep now, go to sleep....Don't go to sleep!

It is a language always on the verge of silence and often on the verge of song. It is the language stories are told in. It is the language spoken by all children and most women, and so I call it the mother tongue, for we learn it from our mothers, and speak it to our kids. I'm trying to use it here in public where it isn't appropriate, not suited to the occasion, but I want to speak it to you because we are women and I can't say what I want to say about women in the language of capital M Man. If I try to be objective I will say, "This is higher and that is lower," I'll make a commencement speech about being successful in the battle of life, I'll lie to you; and I don't want to..."

Read more here: Ursula K. Le Guin gave the this address at the 1986 Bryn Mawr College Commencement. It was first published in a collection of essays, Dancing At The Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places, New York: Harper & Row, 1989 (147-160).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We have landed!

We are here! The ambulance pulled in seconds before the hospice "admissions" nurse. The stairs were challenging but the two EMTs from Cataldos were wonderful. Mom/Nonna ate a sandwich, Sira made and drank some Diet Coke Ferron ran out to the store for, thickened with special corn starch and enjoyed some fruit salad and now is sleeping. Julia helped me adjust a phone line and Rosie checked in often, just to say hi.

Adelaide is in our former bedroom where we have kept our offices. She said " I feel life swirling about me" - I said we have many many speeds - swirling rapids and burbling brooks and quiet pools for relaxing contemplation. Robert and I both spend tons of time working, reading and wasting vast amounts of at our computers. So she will always have company.

Some of the equipment is a bit "de trop". But I said bring it and they did. One thing looks like a trebuchet. Are we besieging a castle tonight? It is a Hoyer lift. Adelaide looked at it and me and said "Send it back. I will walk!" Cannot blame her. If you have ever seen me drive or watched me moving her in bed, you would agree she has all her marbles when she says "No" to that lift.

Now my sister Cathy will do the night shift. I am exhausted. Sleep is looking sweet.

Hospitals and Hospice

Really, until this moment and at this time in my mother's illness, hospice was just a word and a vague concept - something about not being in a hospital during one's last days. Now I understand that it actually it is about care during last months of life and has a very human component. " Just as doctors and midwives lend support and expertise during the time of child birth, hospice provides its presence and specialized knowledge during the dying process." Still, it does feel like an extension of the "here is your hat, what is your hurry" modus operandi of hospitals today. The gate keepers are called Care Coordinators. Sick folk are thrown out of hospital beds every day by these running dog lackeys* of the insurance companies. Care Coordinators smile and speak like humans but clearly, to do the work they do? They cannot possibly be other than shut down huma-bots. Weasels perhaps?

Today and right now, we wait. It is 10 AM. Mom is not cleaned or dressed. The nurses will do this as I am still a novice on moving mom and dealing with the various tubiage she has going. But I will learn and, I am waiting. The house is set up with a bed and lots of other equipment necessary and unnecessary all delivered to the house by Frankie and his pal. Our daughters have organized, cleaned, moved, cooked and cleaned some more. They have been great. And we are waiting.


A lackey or lacquey is a term for a uniformed manservant, in its original meaning (attested 1529, according to the Oxford English Dictionary).The modern connotation of "servile follower" appeared later, in 1588 (OED).[1]
EtymologyThere are several theories about the origins of the word. By one theory, it is derived from Medieval French laquais, "foot soldier, footman, servant", ultimately from Turkish ulak, literally "a messenger".[1] In Gaelic, it is a surname related to the word for stone, leac ---> lackey.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My karma ran over my dogma is heading for me.

" I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire! Why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. " Hamlet

We learned earlier this month that my mom has inoperable and pervasive cancer - just got the low down a few weeks ago when she had a crise de fois ( crisis of the liver). She had turned totally yellow from jaundice due to a blocked bile duct. Totally asymptomatic up until then. Zipped her to ER and after a few CT scans they found she has tumors everywhere. Waiting for biopsy. Docs need to know where it started to say what the course of disease will be and then can give prognosis, and suggestions for treatment - if any.
Poor mamma! I will likely resign at work as I need to be working full time to help my mother close out physically and emotionally her 81 years of living and move her into our 2 bedroom apartment which currently has 4 people in it. Charter school is very clearly the English term for gulag* and I cannot do two impossibly difficult things at the same time.

With a big push back on the karma, I say, Avanti !

and then karma crushed our car...

*gulag (noun) - a place or situation of great suffering and hardship,
likened to the atmosphere in a prison system or a forced labor camp.