Archive for November, 2006

it could be me time

I have made plans to do a couple of things for myself this weekend…
The NM Filmmakers Conference in Santa Fe is Dec 1 and 2.
Calexico plays the Launchpad on Dec 3.
My roommates and I are doing a holiday bash at the house on Dec 15 and if you’re in ABQ on that date, you’re invited.

Of course everything is tentative… has to be… due to the fact that I don’t know how long Mom will hang on… but someone dear to me told me, “Peg you have to keep on making plans and living your life…” So I’m trying to do that, even though my Dad isn’t really on the same page about that. :/



I\’m in Durango at an internet cafe… Had to run away for a few hours and Durango is only an hour away… the weather is still decent so I don\’t have to brave the winter snows - just yet. I am starting to feel quite tethered at my folks\’ house and have this serious desire to run/leave. I\’m ok with facing Mom\’s death… but I was expecting it to happen quickly… I\’m not ok with it taking 3 months or longer. My sister first told me that it would take 1-3 weeks. Then the hospice doctor said he\’s seen people go for 3 months. This was extremely bad news - because I don\’t have 3 months to sit around here going stir-crazy. I was/am willing to do up to 6 weeks, but I\’m going to need a few serious breaks in the midst of it all.

I was kinda wishing I could make it to Austin for the premiere of Fast Food Nation, but somehow I think my family would be really angry with me if I left the state. So for now, Albuquerque will have to suffice for my quick escapes here and there. I\’m still getting text msgs and emails from friends in LA who are like \”Where tha hell are ya?? You\’re supposed to be HERE now.\” :( I wish I was there now.

The missing caregiver is supposed to be back in town next week and so if Mom\’s health is not headed fast on a downhill slant, I may return to ABQ for the week. Not sure. Oh, that is the part about death that sucks, that you really can\’t plan too well around it. I hope that Dr. K. gets out of the pen someday and that others will fall into his footsteps in time. It\’s the ultimate gift, the ability to choose your own time of leaving, and to avoid the painful moments that are the only things left.

I plan to retire in Oregon, the only state that I am aware of that has very specific right-to-die laws. Either that or I\’m pulling a Thelma and Louise (without anyone else in the car with me) - small car, right off the highest cliff that I can find on the PCH, if I am able to drive at the time I make that decision. Cut the brake lines and let me fly… It\’s a damned shame that it\’s illegal to help others die. Hopefully by the time I am old enough to look back on a very full and interesting life, the laws will be different. I can only hope, that with all these aging baby boomers, that they will vote to change the laws to allow assisted suicide.


that poem

Here it is.  My mom placed it in my jewelry box when I was a teenager. I thought it morbid, but I understand now that she never expected to live long, least of all past the age of 40.  She had me when she was 41.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush 

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circled flight. 

I am the soft stars that shine at night. 

Do not stand at my grave and cry; 

I am not there. I did not die. 

Isn’t it lovely?  I love this poem.  I have a friend who will come when Mom is gone and will read it at the memorial service.  She’ll be smiling from above when she hears it read.


better today?

Got a few much-needed phone calls yesterday, and emails. It’s wierd how some days I can’t see getting out of bed and others I seem to have what it takes to carry on. My main bother lately… is that we have caregivers working here (non-hospice) that IMO, are spending a bit too much time getting Mom to eat ~a little something.~ At this rate it could take far too long for Mom to pass, at least for me. I’m not sure how to tackle this issue… other than taking over the the mealtimes - here’s the deal - Mom won’t eat for me, nor for my sister, nor for Dad. She knows that we know her wishes. But some of the caregivers are either apparently afraid to lose their gigs, or just don’t want to be part and parcel of Mom’s eventual demise. I’m at the point of throwing my hands up in the air, peeps. Just don’t know WTF to do. I can’t be there at every single minute to micromanage these folks… it’s too hard for me. I have mentioned this to my sister and perhaps she’ll try to be here on the mealtimes somewhat. My sister has been ploughing through all her photos to come up with stuff for the memorial service… I am supposed to be doing the same, and it’s just been too difficult for me as of yet. I just look forward each day to hearing from friends on email and phone and and blog posts/comments and text message… it helps me get through the rough spots. I’m in need of finding a particular poem that Mom slipped into my jewelry box - something about do not cry at my grave and weep, I am not there, I did not die… must get to the net and find it somewhere. And I told my sister I don’t want the ordinary little cards that they use when someone passes on… I want a picture of a sky at sunset with a ‘V’ of geese in the sky. My mom’s name is Vivian, and she told me once (when I was a child) that whenever I would see geese in the sky in that V formation that I could think of her. That was nice of her to think of that and tell me. I always do think of her when I see geese, V or not. Winged Migration, well, yeah, that film is a big teary-eyed watch for me. I’m hangin in there, though… keep in touch, peeps, I need you.


raining and pouring

well as the saying goes, when it rains it pours. As usual when I am up here taking care of my mom, one or more of the caregivers always need time off. This week one is on vacation… and just today a 2nd was rearended in a car accident. Oh the joys of filling in.


back up to Farmington today

well, I made a quick jaunt down to ABQ and got to head back up today to Farmington. Awoke at 5:30am with a spliting headache, not cool, not cool. Dragged myself to the kitchen for some water to swallow some allergy meds and some Tylenol. Laid in bed sending emails, getting emails. Wow, I have friends who are awake at 5:40am and do email, that was cool to get something from Rev. Kathy R at that early time of day. I want to thank all my friends who have been keeping me afloat emotionally lately, by sending me notes, calling me, posting on my various blogs on the net… (don’t worry, I’ve been posting the same on all of them, so you’re not missing anything if you’re getting it here.) Truly it’s those little moments in Farmington where I am able to quickly log on and get into my email and get a note from someone I hold near and dear to my heart that keeps me going. I wish I could just hop on a plane and make a trip to all those places that have my friends in them at times like this, but I have to be here. It’s been this large cloud that’s been looming over me for way too long, and it’s like the newsguy has been warning of the big rain for so long that I kinda stopped listening to him. Now it’s going to happen soon, and there is no way to go but directly through it.

I’ve been bad about responding individually to emails and calls, and I apologize for that. Sometimes I get the message, on screen or in my ear, and I’m so touched…. but if I were to respond in that moment, I’d be a bucket of tears. So sometimes, it’s just necessary to hold myself together in that moment, so I don’t reply. I will try to reply, but don’t be mad if you get another mass email reply. I do appreciate hearing others’ stories of the paths they’ve walked that are similar to mine, and I look to those of you who have lost someone dear for guidance. I want those stories, I need those stories. I know, some people don’t want to hear all about what someone else went through, but I do, quite frequently, because I like to hear that 1. I’m not the only one who’s had these feelings and 2. I do learn from others’ experiences and want to do the very best I can in these last weeks with my mom.

I wondered a few days ago, what does one do on Mother’s Day when Mom isn’t around anymore? Then I realize that some people may never have been able to have this sort of holiday and I feel very wrong for even wondering, since I have had my Mom around in my life ALOT and I had her all to myself as a child, didn’t share her with siblings as they were all pretty much out of the house by the time I was 5 or 6.

I was a lucky child, I wanted for nothing. My mom stayed at home and was always there for me, cooking my favorite things and sewing me special outfits and costumes, making sure I did my homework and praising me every step of the way. (See, my dad found a large chunk of GOLD in the mountains when I was about 8, and the financial picture changed immensely for the family at that time, so Mom had more to spread around.)

I also unfortunately wasn’t really constitutionally cut out for the cold Colorado winters and I got sick a lot… and I went to the doctor alot. (Mom lost a baby to penumonia once, and so those of us who came after that, got rushed off to get antibiotics with a sniffle.) My mom was the best caregiver anyone could ask for… She’d set me up on the couch with a little glass bell, some jello, some toast, some chicken soup, some 7Up, some tea, some juice, some water, pretty straws, lots of cough drops, the TV on whatever channel I wanted, and the vaporizer turned on. If I needed anything I was to ring the bell… I only recently have come to find out that this is not what most people in the world experience when they are sick. My mom loved taking care of me, and nowadays, if I get a chance, I also enjoy going the extra mile for a friend or lover and they’re always amazed by the treatment, but to me, it’s standard, and should be.

My friend Taylor has always said I have great ‘mama energy’ that my friends all love, and still another dear friend laments the fact that I’m not having any kids of my own. (I don’t want to HAVE them. I’m happy to GET some in a package deal… just so we’re clear about that.) I honestly don’t know if my mom is disappointed that I didn’t have any kids… she never pressured me on that angle.

She wanted me to get a college degree, I know that. I did that. I’ve tried to honor her as a professional and to always do the right thing byShe people and take care of those who are in my world. I didn’t pick the high paying career path, I picked the labor of love route, and to me, that is where my creative energy goes (and goes and goes and goes.) I know her world was very very different from mine… but I hope she will always be able to say she’s proud of the choices I’ve made in life (or, at least most of them. Heaven knows I was not a perfect angel… especially in the teenage years.) Nowadays I’m happy to have my friends tell me I’m an angel with a crooked halo, that works for me.

Rambling… I know I need to tell my mom all these things, and I have, back when she first had her stroke… I recounted for her all the wonderful things she’s done for me… I think she didn’t realize how special our friendship was. My sister said to me last week, “well, you always were the closest to mom.” I didn’t know that my sister felt that way, but now that I do, I see where the jealousy came from, we have not been particularly close for most of our lives, and now it’s easier to see why. We are a united front now, though, and she said to me, last week, “You know, it’s up to US to make sure that Mom is able to pass on quickly…” I told her I that I knew that. I think she was trying to say that if other caregivers faltered on the way, or Dad wanted to back out, we had to keep towing the line and making sure that Mom wasn’t forced into eating if she was not interested.

My biggest sadnesses these days are that I am alone in Farmington to deal on this, even the caregiver that I had established a familial relationship with is now gone, she quit right before all of this started because my dad had become unreasonable (still in denial) to work for. I know it well, as I have been the one that he has taken things out on in the past. She became like a daughter to him in these past 5-6 years and so he started treating her like he does me and my sister. She had an out - she wasn’t actually related, he forgot about that. I’ve tried to reach her by phone, but no luck, just the answering machine always. I miss her presence in the house, she always had this ‘up’ attitude and her smile always brightened my day. I had gotten comfortable in the thought that she’d be with us until Mom left… and so I felt I had one friend there with me through it all, right there, at arm’s length. I’m actually really scared to be alone through this, but again, there is no way to go but directly through it.


post of a recent email I just sent out…

I know, for many of you on this distro, it’s been a long time since I last wrote/called. Believe me, there are reasons and reasons and reasons… I’ve been literally buried in project after project since February of this past year… A stint at a venture capital firm in Santa Fe, then I took on a leadership role at Duke City Shootout Moviemaking Competition and Festival in ABQ (that’s spelled Albuquerque for you non-New Mexicans) - all the while I made many trips to and from Farmington NM to see my ailing mom, and managed a trip out for SXSW Film and Interactive. Post Duke City Shootout - I went back to Farmington for a week, then out to LA for a quick training of some new volunteer management staff at AFI FEST… because I knew in my heart I couldn’t be out of NM this fall, due to my mom’s continued decline. (For some of you, this may be new info, but for others, it’s not. I apologize for not having enough time to separate out the people on the list into the ones who know and the ones who don’t.)

I had planned to take a long trip and stay at Burning Man for an extended time this past year, but when I arrived, I was offered a job on a feature film in Santa Fe NM… and had to leave Burning Man early to make that start date for pre-production. I also cancelled my trip to Austin for the month of Sept as a result, and cancelled any plans to attend Austin Film Festival, too. I had planned to at least attend AFI FEST this year, as well, as soon as the film wrapped. But it was not to be.

My sister called and asked when would be the earliest date I could arrive in Farmington to STAY a while. Again, some of you know, some of you don’t, and apologize for this, but at least I feel it’s important enough that my friends in ABQ, LA, PDX, Austin and elsewhere all know why I have fallen off the face of the earth these past several months and will continue to be hard to reach for the next few weeks…. My sister indicated that she was at last going to use her power of attorney to discontinue any life-prolonging meds for my mom, as well as the tube feedings. See, Mom had a stroke about a year and a half ago, and the tube was installed into her stomach with the intention that it was a stop-gap measure til she recovered. All of this was against her living will and her advance directives, but no one wanted to fight my dad on the issue and I guess we really all did hope that Mom would in fact recover… but she never really snapped out of it. It’s been a slow decline for about 18 months now, and quite painful to see the lady I love most in the whole world live the last months of her life in this way.

So, I’m relieved that we’re making this move on Mom’s behalf. It’s long overdue. I’m really sad, but understand that my mom’s been very absent from my life for quite some time now, due to the strokes taking away her ability to speak. I’m also sad that this isn’t happening in a place where any of my friends live, and I feel really vulnerable, and I miss my friends a lot right now. Yes, even some of you whom I’ve just met recently and worked with a short while. To say that I’ve never been close to my family would be a giant understatement of the facts at hand. I’ve always leaned more on friends than family in my own life.

So how long will all of this take, for my mom to pass on, I really don’t know. Depends on who you ask. I’ve heard 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks… and then, even yesterday, the hospice doctor said he’s seen people live on for 3 months. I think I can manage 3 weeks if that’s what it takes. I don’t know if I can do this for 3 months, folks. I’m trying to take it one day at a time, of course. But the prospects of 3 months really threw me into a tailspin yesterday.

I wish very much that I could have seen a few of my LA peeps this week of AFI FEST. Thanks for the text messages and phone calls. I know it’s going to be a great year for the festival! I’m missing a wedding in Texas next week as well, and I know it will be a lovely event as well. I’m so sorry to miss it.

Well, that’s where things are with me. Nothing here is personal and if you find I’ve inadvertently left someone off this email list that should have been included, go ahead and forward it on. If you need to be left off this list because you’ve got some of your own really big things going on, it won’t hurt my feelings if you hit delete or don’t reply. Mainly I just want to let folks know where I am right now.

I do feel like Major Tom out here in outerspace, again, so if you DO want to drop a line or call, that’d be great. If you’re near enough to visit, I’d welcome that too. I hope to make a few quick jaunts to ABQ as time allows, I just have to see how this all shakes out.

I also have AIM chat, yahoo messenger, and skype… so if you want to catch me there, let me know and I’ll send you the details there. Late night is usually better, as my parents only have dialup and I can’t tie up the phone line all day.

I use friendster, myspace, tribe… and will reactivate soon enough.