Thursday, August 04, 2016

My Son Frank Has Been Dead For A Week

How bizarre to type those words and not wail like a banshee.  I can see the screen because while I "leak" nearly constantly, I can pretty much hold it together.  Why?  Because there was nothing left unsaid between Frank and I.  There are no regrets and no guilt.  My son knew I had his back.  Would we fight like cats and dogs over certain life decisions?  You bet.  But I backed his every play.  Same as Tom his older brother.  Same as Danny & Bill his brothers from other mothers (who coincidentally turned out to be women I loved, Patty & Christine).

Last Thursday, July 28th around noon, Francis Xavier Miller, Sr. lost his battle with addiction.  I sat in Bay 15 of the South Shore Hospital ER and whispered in his ear that I wasn't leaving him, just passing him over to Mama Kelley his beloved great-grandmother (my grandmother) and Grandma Marie his loved and missed grandmother (John's mother).  And that I knew there were plenty of friends lost too early to the same insidious addiction to load up the roster for a wiffle ball game where he was going.  I pulled Frank's left arm out from under the sheet and rested my hand in his.  Between the weight of his hand and his fingers being slightly curled, I felt just like he was holding my hand.

Frankie wasn't my plan.  He was the result of a hard fought campaign by his brother Tommy, with support from my sister Grace and my ex-husband John.  I thought just one was just fine.  I used to joke that children aren't like Lays potato chips, you could have just one.  But Tommy didn't appreciate being the only - only child in the neighborhood.  And Grace was ready to have a boy, so that with her daughter Deb (my goddaughter) she would have the matching salt-n-pepper shaker set.  The final battle was pitched at my birthday party in 1987.

Frankie was born January 21, 1988.  At the end of a ridiculously short labor during which I acted like it was the scene from Aliens where the alien eats it's way out of Kane, there was Frankie.  Dr. Grady asked "It's a boy, what's his name?"  I replied "Francis Xavier" and Dr. Grady repeated that and said it reminded him of a priest or a crooked politician.  Well we all know which way that ball bounced.

Frankie was handsome, so was Tommy, but while Tommy was the spit of his father, Frankie had my coloring.  And he was so friendly and adventurous.  When he was three he was in love with Cindy Crawford.  I remember him dashing from the bathroom, foaming at the mouth in mid tooth brushing session at the sound of her Pepsi commercial.  She was his girlfriend.   When someone pointed out that Cindy Crawford didn't know him, he replied "But if she knew me, she'd love me."  Such confidence.  At the time Crawford was married to Richard Gere and they were building a house in Duxbury.  We were afraid someone would tell Frankie and he would set off up  Route 3A to steal her away from Gere.

People kiddingly called him "The Mayor of Rocky Nook".  Like Red Rizzo, he knew everyone and everyone knew him.  He took it seriously, not in a power kind of way, but in a responsibility kind of way.  People asked him favors and he always tried to help them.  When there was a beach association task, he never questioned going and doing his part.  But most of all, he believed in "Everbody plays or nobody plays."  Frankie didn't allow other kids to be left on the sidelines.  And that never changed.  During this last week, people have called and texted and sent Facebook messages telling me how Frank did this that and the other thing for them.  Always things he didn't have to do but did anyway with a smile.

I have never been ashamed of Frankie and his fight with addiction.  Frustrated?  Bewildered?  Helpless?  Oh yes!  Frank had a hard time getting sober because he had a hard time giving over power.  He would go down many paths and say "This will work, I'll just change this."  or "I'll just do this step before that step."  But finally he found the right path and surrendered himself.  The last two years he was largely successful.  Unfortunately, with addiction, you are never free, you are never fixed or cured.  Sometimes the best you can hope for is longer periods of sobriety and shorter falls off the path.

The part that was hardest for me to accept was the fact that your recovery includes going back and pulling others up and out with you.  But Frank embraced that.  And now I see clearly - OF COURSE HE DID, lol!  It was the adult version of "Everybody plays or nobody plays."

Frank wasn't some mythic figure.  He stumbled.  He hurt people.  And he wasn't universally loved.  There were people who disliked or resented Frank for one reason or another.  Not the least of which was his struggle with addiction.  There were people who turned away from him.

But Frank forgave everyone.  I used to joke that Frank was sadly born without the gene that allowed a person to hold a grudge.

This isn't the best pic of either Frankie, Senior or Junior.  But it's recent and it was a happy and fun day.  Bunker Hill Day, 2016, at the parade in Charlestown.

Sadly, my much loved son is in the building you can see over his left shoulder.  Carr's Funeral Home.

Monday, July 04, 2016

July 4, 1976

Some of you think this will be a post about our country's Bicentennial.  Which was a grand time in Boston.

But it's not.

It's about a far away place - Entebbe, Uganda.

I've admitted dozens of times in this blog, that I was a bit of nerd.  That from high school on I read both of Boston's big dailies, the "Globe" and the "Herald American" as it was known at the time.  In the general frenzy leading up to Boston's celebrations and the Nation's celebrations, there was another news story.

Terrorists had hijacked an Air France plane to supposedly exchange passengers for some other imprisoned terrorists.  To be honest, at the time I took them at their word.  But now, older and more cynical, I think the point was just to kill Jews.  This is not to say I ever in my life sympathized with Palestinians.  However, I did at the time think they were reasonable enough to be negotiated with.  People younger than me or with shorter memories may not realize that other planes got hijacked.  Other hostages were taken.  And police or governments worked it out.  People took planes to get to Cuba or for ransom.  At the time, to me, there seemed no reason to think this would be handled that way.

This was a mere four years after Munich and in my mind, the Germans had messed that up out of arrogance.  There was strife and fighting all over the world.  Northern Ireland was in a perpetual state of unrest.  Just a few months before Palestinians had hijacked this plane, some crazy group had bombed a courthouse in Boston

So back to Entebbe and the hijacked plane which by the 3rd of July had had all of it's non-Jewish passengers separated and released.  The crew however, wouldn't leave and I have the greatest admiration for them.

Being more wise in these matters than a 15 year old reading along in Boston newspapers, the Israelis knew there was no reasoning with the hostage takers.  People can say till they're blue in the face that Palestinian terrorists are "nationalists".  Whatever.  First and foremost they are followers of Islam.  The Jewish State of Israel had been dealing with them for ages.  They knew that when a follower of Islam takes up arms and tells the world their grievances, it's just a cover.  Whether it's "Black September" or the "PLO" or "ISIS" or "Al Qaeda", you can't "understand" them, you can't "reason" with them. A wise man once told us that "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it eats him last".

The Israelis sent their own people into Uganda just before midnight July 3rd.  But with the time difference of 7 hours, it all happened in time to be front page news for America's birthday!

Truth be told, that was the highlight of my day.  The rightness of it.  The justice of it.  And now I know the wisdom of it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Don't Get It...

....why aren't there more arrests?

Today in Sacramento a group of Americans tried to assemble at the California State Capitol.  And police stood by while a larger group of counter-protesters assaulted the first group.  The larger group used a heckler's veto (which is not protected free speech) to stop speech they don't like.

I don't care what the first group believes or wants.  I care that their right to speak freely in the public square was violently suppressed.

I don't care that in a civil discussion I may have agreed with the counter-protesters beliefs.  Once they crossed the line to violate the civil rights of others, they are wrong and they lose my support.

Not to mention that the counter-protesters also attacked representatives of the media.  I may whine all day about the media and their biases, but, you don't put your hands on them.

It was galling to watch the interviews after the fact with these criminals, and that's what they were.  The counter-protesters were proud of the fact that they had just committed these offenses.  They showed up, many with their faces covered, intending to do harm.

But the worst was watching the police do nothing.  A handful of people were arrested.  There should have been dozens and dozens of arrests.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting In Trouble

My previous post - November, 2015 - got a new comment -

Maggie, you okay ? Haven't heard from you since ........ November 8th !!

I wish you well, friend.

A follower from ....... oh, hell, everywhere ........... US Navy Retired RMCS (SS)
24 June, 2016 18:00

I'm sorry! This blog has really fallen behind on my list of priorities.

Things are good!  Still in active chemo, but alive and fighting beats the alternative.

I get to spend lots of time with my grandson Frankie who is an absolute delight.

My social media focus has shifted to Twitter.  I still read serious stuff and think serious thoughts, but my output.....

Thanks for the kinds words.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Guess It's Been A While!

Last post was September 26th!

Well sorry about that.  But I can only do one thing at a time.  And for the past six weeks it's been packing, apartment hunting and moving.

Now, instead of the majority of my time being spent in Virginia with my son Tom keeping an eye on me, I'm back in Massachusetts!  One of my oldest, dearest friends from grade school has stepped up to the plate.  So Kathy will call 911 if I hit the floor in a heap.

God it's good to be back!  I loved spending all that time with my oldest son Tom, even if I had to be in Virginia to do it.  And now I am near Frankie and Danny & Bill.  But let's be honest - the best part is I am near my grandson who turns two years old today!  I have a fairly large bedroom & will be getting a second bed for sleepovers!  I saw a pirate ship toddler bed online, but even I know $400 for a toddler bed is ridiculous.

And I don't know if it was pity or just to shut me up, but Dr. Miller cut my Pomalyst dose.  Numbers are in good ranges but he won't completely stop it, so we don't know what would happen.  Would the numbers shoot back up?  Is it a durable response?  A partial remission? But I'll take whatever I can get, so I am grateful for the lessening of the dosage.

So now that I'm settled, there are some events this week coming up that I hope to attend and blog about.  See if I can't get this blog slightly back on track.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I Am Awake......

.....and showered and properly medicated.

Ahead of schedule.  This month's trip was so bad that I estimated that this would not happen until Sunday night.  You know, in time to catch the 4th episode of "Fear The Walking Dead".

Besides Pomalyst, every other month I get an Aredia infusion.  On those months, I am even more disorganized and confused.  I should not try anything ambitious during that time.

This was an infusion month.  And yes, I tried something ambitious.  And yes, it was much harder than it needed to be.

The next infusion is November 22nd.  If someone would be kind enough on November 18th as to tell me not to schedule anything else until November 25th, I would appreciate it.

My time in Virginia as more than a visitor is nearly at an end.  I think my eagerness to end it, is causing these bad decisions......yeah, that's my latest excuse.

I joke about "never winning with the 50/50 questions" but really, that's very true.  If I am faced with an either/or situation, I almost always blow it.  This happens if the question is high stakes or of no consequence at all.

And I do a lot of "counting my chickens before they are hatched".  I always have.  I am constantly making plans based on things happening in a certain way.  Things I have no control over.  And there really are things I have no control over.  I, Princess Crabby, the Empress of the Moat, she who has no equal, Princesa Malhumorada have very little control over things in real life, as opposed to what happens in my imagination.  This really messes me up!

When I go to infusion it's supposed to go like this - I check in and they take my vitals, put me in an infusion room, take a couple of vials of blood and send it off for testing.  They can't give you Aredia if certain things aren't stable.  Plus, with a blood cancer.....there is lots of blood tests.  Makes sense, right?  Then the numbers come back in thirty or forty minutes and they send to the in-hospital pharmacy for the Aredia.  It can't be ordered without the test results.  Pharmacy sends the IV bags up, they hook it up and attach me ( I already have an IV in my hand or arm from the testing) and from that point, it takes one hundred and twenty minutes.  There is a product that is faster, Zometa, but I tried it and had a crazy flu-like reaction.  So, being reasonable (not my strong suit, but I can be) this process should take a little over three hours.  When I have nothing to do after an appointment, it takes about three hours.  But if I schedule anything for can take (and has taken), six or more hours. I should not plan anything for afterwards... yet I do.

Because I never learn!

Thursday, I wanted to go look at an apartment in the evening.  And, I planned to fly from Boston to BWI at 5:50 am on Friday morning.  I chose that flight to save money and be in DC for the train to Staunton, which only runs on Friday, Sunday & Wednesday.  I wanted to hurry back out of Boston because my monthly visit there causes me to spend an inordinate amount of money.  Once I actually have a place of my own to live back in Boston, this won't happen.  So, in order to save, I decided this month would be a "get in/get out" month.  No visits, no family time, no dinner with friends.  In.  Out.

Getting in was no problem.

I was scheduled for a 2pm appointment and I had scripts to fill.  So I called and asked if I could be moved up and was offered 1pm.  I went in that morning and picked up the prescriptions, so I could check that off the list.  Usually I wander around and get lunch while the blood is being tested.  This can make the process longer because sometimes I am not back when the IV bags come up.  But instead I went and got lunch before I went to the appointment.  I arrived, fully prepared; lunch, books, snacks, water, charger, everything so I could sit and not move, at 12:45pm for my 1pm appointment.

Is My Marine paying attention?  Early and fully prepared.

I didn't leave until 5:45pm.

And I am always groggy after infusion because the majority of this time I am sitting in a geri chair, in a room that is too warm for me.  So I doze.  I am not a napping person.  Naps don't help me and they make me....CRABBY!

Now, at this point I could have cancelled the 5:50 am Friday morning flight and stayed until Sunday when there would be another train to Staunton.

This was my "50/50" decision.  And I blew it.

I didn't look at an apartment.  I didn't cancel the flight.  I was like a zombie at Logan, BWI and then Union Station.  I was nauseous on the plane.  I fell asleep last night without a proper meal or the right pills at the right times.  That's why I predicted that I would not surface until Sunday.

So, don't ask me to do anything November 22nd.  And don't let me plan anything for November 22nd.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When Was Steroid Day?

I don't know, I'm all messed up.  So I guess it's today.  Wasn't bad and gave me the burst of energy it sometimes does.  You know, where you don't just throw a load in the washer, but you clean the washing machine.

Anyway, a couple of nights ago, I somehow missed the lyrica and of course couldn't sleep and it feels like the onset of flu.  Muscle/joint pain, yada, yada.  So I slept through the next day's morning meds.  I think that's how I missed steroid day.  And my sleep schedule slipped right into midnight to 3 pm.

And the glasses still aren't fixed.  And the humidity and heat were killer.  And waaahhhhhh.

But today I was up before noon.  Took the steroids,  The humidity broke.  Whew!  Just in time to prep for "Fear The Walking Dead".  My Marine better be caught up, cause I'm tired of getting chastised.

Hopefully, on October 1st, my best pal from 7th grade and I are moving into a 2 bedroom together.  We could have chosen from dozens of places by now, but she has two cats & wants off street parking.  It's stressing her to the point where her boss is looking to find us a place.  You know I don't care about parking, animals, where the laundry is, bedroom size, sharing a bathroom.  So I just keep saying pick whatever makes you happy!!  Although it was a bummer to pass up an apartment 5 doors down from my previous Charlestown address b/c of size. The important part is Boston & that she'll be just as good at that balance of watching me and ignoring me as Tommy is.

So I think I'll whip out the Hershey's cocoa and make something.