August 28, 2007

happy and sad together.

enjoying a night in my favorite chair. over the rhine's trumpet child is spinning on the record player, while a four hour coil of incense burns on the mantle. greg and helen are braving ikea to purchase a new loveseat for our livingroom, and i just gave a kitten away.

you may remember that we rescued two kittens last month. and then we rescued another two. greg took one, and we decided a little while ago to keep little sal and (much bigger) phineas. chavez is the biggest and healthiest of the bunch, so we figured we'd have no problem finding him a home. i was prepared to say goodbye on sunday, after a nice girl fell in love with him. she backed out at the last minute, however; the pet deposit at her new apartment was too expensive. and so goodbye turned into two more days of cha cha romping with clem and the other kittens.

(i took pictures.)

this evening, a happy couple stopped by to meet chavez. they've got 3 cats already, big, well-loved cats, and cha cha was relaxed in their arms. fifteen minutes later, they left with him wrapped in a pink towel.

i am so excited for chavez and his surely happy future. but i will miss the pot-bellied, crosseyed kitten who snuggles against my belly at night. i hope that sal and phineas bond like brothers (they are cousins) and terrorize the house together. i know we are crazy to keep two kittens, but we would have kept the fambly together with all three if we possibly could.

and so i raise my glass to chavez "cha cha" garcia, our little luchador. long may he reign.

Chavez. camera ready. curious.
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August 25, 2007

yardsale 2007.

total revenue after 3 hours: $-15.

we've been sitting out here since 7:30 am. we have plenty of fine items for sale at low, low prices, such as:

1. chairs thoroughly destroyed by cats.
2. clothes, with or without stains.
3. a moldy desk.
4. a functional stereo.
5. my old shoes.
6. a lava lamp that is not all that functional.
7. a wonderwoman clock, without batteries
8. a kitten basket.
9. a feral cat.

we have not had one customer. a couple neighbors have waved at us out of pity.
we made signs. we advertised on craigslist and the austin chronicle. and still, nothing.

you have one hour, austin. come buy our shit, please.

here we are, all hot and sticky in the sun:

yardsale 2007: 11 am.
hey you, come buy some shit, man!
wanna buy a kitten basket?
we have wares to sell!

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August 18, 2007

a journey in photos.

still sitting here with an absence of words other than "um", so here are some of my favorite photos from my time in erie. i can't say enough what a joy--what a relief--it was to see my nieces and nephew altogether for the first time in years. thankfully, they all still love the camera, with the exception of alyssa, but she's fifteen, so. she hid.

and to think he used to be afraid of water.
bob the diver.

alaina my sweetheart.
alaina, who is on the exact precipice of child and teenager. she is gorgeous.

kristin.
kristin the ham.

elizabeth!
elizabeth the ham.

fambly portrait.
four sisters. (i am a tigress.)

alyssa the gorgeous.
alyssa the gorgeous.

the only photo my mother allowed me to take.
mudda.

robert.
bobby, my son nephew.

fambly
and finally, tom & jean. he is my cousin, mh's son.
i love them so.

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August 16, 2007

home.

it's 7 am, and i've been awake since 5. helen woke up early to take the kitten's "feral" mama to the vet clinic to get her spayed. franny pants, as we've begun to call her, has been hanging out on our porch for over a week now. she is wild, but she is friendly. she rubs her body against our legs when we sit on the porch, and sleeps on our welcome mat.

on the porch now, the rain is falling faster and faster. the morning is dark and thick, but here comes the wind. the tip of tropical storm erin is touching our town right now, and she's inching along with buckets of rain. i doubt we'll see the sun today.

i am so very happy to be home. erie was a blessing, a hard blessing. the passing of mh brought together my whole family for the first time in over 5 years. i sat with all my sisters at mh's funeral. i kissed my nieces and nephew, and took lots of photos. i'm still decompressing; i don't have a lot of words. they will come. there is no hurry.

i suppose i am still in a state of disbelief that mh could have died. she was going to outlive us all. the rain is falling harder now, washing away the exhaustion of grief. i barely feel it, but i know what i'm saying is true. sorrow and weeping for a night, and joy in the morning. it's morning. it's raining. we're living.

jean, my cousin tom's wife, committed a lot of time and energy to scanning photo after photo of mh's life. my mother and i dug through old boxes to find them. here are a few of my favorites:

circa 1919.
1919-ish.

first communion.
her first communion --she always remembered the fragrance of the flowers and the color and fabric of the dress.

generations of cat ladies: great grandmother, grandmother, and aunt mh.
my great grandmother, grandmother, and mh. generations of cat ladies.

"pedaling my ass up and down the street"
she said that she was pedaling her ass up and down the street.

her 90th birthday party.
june 2007, her 90th birthday party. have you ever seen a 90 year old so vibrant?

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August 11, 2007

from my journal.

10 August 2007
erie.

In moments like now, time is a blank slate experience. I arrived in erie at 8:30 last night, after a long day of delays and sitting. Hoping. Silent praying. Flying and driving.

On the 7th floor, I hugged my mother and sister for the first time in nearly two years. together, we gathered around mh’s hospital bed. I kissed her forehead, held her soft, fleshy hand for a long time. She breathed slowly and deeply and I wondered if she knew I was even there. And then her eyes fluttered open a little and she spoke three raspy syllables: there you are. Her fingers almost grasped my hand. I’m here, I said. I love you so much.

Soon she was agitated, thirsty, and cried out for water. My mother swabbed her mouth and her tongue, as I stood there, staring and holding her hand.

I knew that this moment of three women gathering around our dying matriarch would one day be a memory, a story. I tried to be present, but the exhaustion, the suspense of ‘will I make it in time’, and the sight of such fragility all brought me to a halt. I could only stand there dumbly. I was hungry. I asked my mom for a piece of gum. My back was stiff.

Today, mh was piqued. Her fluttering eyes didn’t see us anymore. My sister and mother and I chitchatted all afternoon. A friend came by to pay his last respects. My cousin tom, mh’s son, arrived after work. we alternately joked and sat quietly with hands on mh, holding our breath when she waited to inhale after a long exhale. peter fonda is in town today, leading a rally of a bazillion bikers for a cancer cause, and all the streets around the hospital were to be closing down soon. And so we left her at five o’clock. I kissed her on the head twice. I told her I loved her. Her forehead was cool and smelled like hospital soap.

I spent the evening at tom’s house, drinking beer with him and his wife, jean. We told stories and laughed, and when I left a little after 9:30, I told him to call me if he got ‘the call’. Twenty minutes later mh was gone.

It’s 1:30 am as I write. I am sitting on my mother’s couch, in the same spot I sat ten years ago the night my father died. Mh said his name the other day when she was still sort of lucid. She talked of her mother and her husband and then her brother. Bob. I wonder if he is near, if he helped her over the threshold between here and there.

Ten years ago, I held my mother as she wept, and I knew that moment would one day be a memory, but I was numb and blank. Two hours ago we sat on separate couches, drinking a beer, and her tears were gentle and sad. She lost a companion tonight.

I am grateful that I am here in this house of ghosts and stories, where my family has lived and died since 1928. Every creak and groan of the wooden floors is familiar; it was my home once. It was mh’s home once. My father was born here. Their mother died here.

I have not yet cried. This will be a story someday, of how I made it to erie just in time to say goodbye to my beloved mh. I will remember the relief and the grief, the stories tossed back and forth across her hospital bed, and the chance to be here with my mother, my sister, and my cousin.

Tonight, I am simply an exhausted girl sitting on a couch, who hopes she will sleep well.

How is it possible that mh is gone?

the last of the mccarthys.

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August 8, 2007

here goes.

i booked a flight, and am heading to erie tomorrow morning. i hope she holds on until i can say goodbye.

more soon.

Posted by bananie at 10:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 5, 2007

in the balance.

the word is not good from erie, pa. i have spent more time on the phone in the past few days than i have all year.

mh is slipping away from us. her kidneys are shutting down. her heart is irreparably damaged. and so, the medicines are being stopped. the breathing tube will be removed. her will stipulates dnr. the efforts have shifted from treatment to making her comfortable.

meanwhile, i am doing everything i can to hold myself together with some sort of perspective. she is 90. her body is simply letting go. death comes for all of us, and this is her time. i have been blessed to have been her friend, the one she trusted her stories to, for so long.

waiting is the worst part. i want to be by her bedside, kissing her head, telling her stories. she is still conscious. she looks and waves weakly. i'm waving from texas, sending messages with my mother. it's all i can do.

i am still trying desperately to figure out how to get to erie. helen and i have talked about driving--with a rest stop in nashville--but not a day later, our claira cat got sick. this on top of the high maintenance kittens we are trying to find homes for. how can we both leave with our home in such disarray?

and so, i am hoping that maybe i'll find a flight that will not break the bank, and get to mh's bedside to say goodbye. i haven't seen her in so long. i ache to be with my family as we lose our matriarch, our storyteller.

time's ticktocking is unbearably loud and slow today.

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August 3, 2007

raining. pouring.

we're waiting on word about whether aunt mary helen had a heart attack last night. she has gone downhill since she was first admitted to the hospital, and i am trying to scrape together funds to get home to erie.

say a prayer for my family. mh is indescribably dear. she is larger than life. and her light is dimming.

Posted by bananie at 10:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 1, 2007

and that would leave us about here.

it's a balmy, sunny day in austin, texass, which would be a blahblahblahnormal day any other year, but this summer, it is an oddity. doctors are treating a lot of SAD patients because of the grey year. me? i revel. :)

anyway. today i feel like shite in a girly sort of way. i'm drugged up and curled up, and waiting for the pain to pass. so what better time to update the old bloggy?

it's an interesting week. my mother called last night to let me know that my aunt mh is in the hospital with pneumonia. she saw her today, and said that though she's weak, she is in good spirits, flirting with the cute doctors. nevertheless, days like this make me want to lasso pennsylvania and pull her toward texas. or...at least hop a plane to see my family. say a prayer for mh, for recovery, for strength.

in good family news, my mother just purchased tickets to come here in september! it will be the first time i've seen her since january 2006! and! it will be her first visit to austin! i am beyond excited to welcome my mom into my home, to introduce her to her (huge) pet grandkids. maybe she'll leave with a kitten.

oh, yeah. kittens. first, THANK YOU so very much for your generosity with the gunther pickles memorial fund. without you, we wouldn't have raised $300 for phineas' care. watch your mailboxes in the near future. :)

phineas is doing well. growing like a weed, and unfortunately, losing all the hair on his tail due to the ringworm. he is spunky and insanely affectionate, and we are going to hold off on the ultrasound for now, as we recently learned that his flea infestation can cause a heart murmur that will correct itself.

rest assured, donors, that the money you gave will only go to the kittens' vet bills.

in fact, chavez has an appointment today, as he has had a drippy ass for days now. fun!

oh, and then there's kitten three. i'm not kidding. last night, feral mama cat dropped by our house with one kitten in tow. if he is not a littermate of phinny and chavez, he is definitely a cousin. helen caught him like a pro, and he is now hiding under the basin in the bathroom with the other two. no pictures yet. he's too scared. but he's bathed and fed and flea-combed. his name is salvador garcia. you can call him sal.

no. we're not keeping 3 kittens. we may be insane, but not that insane. sal will make someone a feisty greeneyed pal.

i don't know what you all think of the afterlife of cats, but it is quite a coincidence that the strays of the neighborhood, who never paid us attention before, are dropping their kittens off at our door for salvation. personally, i think gunther may have a hand paw in all of this.

off to find a heating pad.

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