Friday, March 11, 2011

Update on Dad; family; rituals:

I went to the hospice this morning at 8am to take some Thai fish curry for dad. Last night I got home as was feeling pretty tired so I got up early this morning to cook the food. I talked to the night nurse Margaret and she said that he had a somewhat good night but woke up with pain early this morning so she gave him some pain meds. He put off his 4:30am shower till later today (unusual for him). He woke about 7:00am and had his breakfast and went back to bed. When I went to his room, he was sleeping but I woke him. He said the pain was at the back part of his neck and when I felt it, (on the right side of his neck close to his spinal column) there was another large mass which I would estimate at the size of a tennis ball. The swelling in his top lip has decreased so that it looks normal but the bottom lip is still about triple the size of a normal lip. The mass on the left side of his chin/neck is now about the size of an oversize orange but not quite grapefruit size. I can’t believe how quickly it’s growing now. The area looks like it has a localized fever so he had a gel pack on it. This has been the state for the last few days.


Dad seemed to be alert and in a good mood so it was easy to have a conversation with him. I told him that my cousin Joanie (Uncle Sydney’s daughter) called mom last night and she was crying because she heard that dad passed away. Mom told her it was not true. Joanie said that Uncle Sidney was crying too because all his family is passing. Joanie was reminiscing about our young days and she remembers that when she came to visit at Belair, I used to bathe her and comb her hair. She was a younger than me and I do remember taking care of her and her brother Boyee. I went back to my family tree records and saw that her name is Elsa Savitree. I don’t why, but we sometimes called her Rambling Rose (like the Nat King Cole song). Joanie, if you are reading this and you remember, remind me when I talk to you. Of course we used to call Boyee by his full name of Ernest Stanley Amardyal Jagdial – only to tease him because he didn’t like it. And Boyee, I hope you can forgive us for teasing you when we were kids.

When I told mom that Joanie had the same name as me, she said that Uncle Sidney really loved us and may have named Joanie after me. I know that dad’s brother Uncle Lionel named his daughter Sandra after me (he told me this in 1978 when I visited him in England). Uncle Persaud (grandfather Khartoon’s son) also named his daughter Savitree after me. I felt quite honoured when I heard that but mom reminded me a long time ago, that when I was a young child, I was the favourite (and for a time, the only little child in the family) so the uncles used to spoil me tremendously. I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT!!! I was telling dad this morning that Joanie had the same name as me and he was remembering when I was a kid and all the people in Belair liked me. I don’t know if they all liked me but I do know that everyone knew me and Karran more so than they knew Bena.

I told Dad that mom decided to list the house for sale and he and she will have to sign the papers today. He was okay with that but thought the house may have been listed for more. Like Karran said, the listing price is only that and the selling price will reflect what the market will bear. Dad knows it was only a matter of time before we got to this point. Last year Karran, Sophie and I had a discussion with them about selling the house and moving into something a bit more manageable but they were not ready to move. The time has now come. Mom will live with me for the short term and she can decide at a later time where she wants to live on a more permanent basis, which could include her staying with me or Sophie as one of the options.

Mom is happy with her decision to list with the agent she listed with. Apparently she promised Alan’s mom Judy many years ago that whenever she was ready to sell the house, she would list it with Judy. Sadly, Judy passed away from brain cancer several years ago but her son Alan carried on the business and over the years, he continued to send a calendar at the beginning of the year. So mom is happy to have kept her promise to Judy, albeit posthumously.

Karran is off to the hospice later today to do a Hindu prayer with dad. Auntie Betty (via Auntie Siloch) told us what to do and why it should be done. I don’t know if there is a specific name for the ritual but we are supposed to get 5 different type of grains, a Gita and a piece of gold and dad recites the Gaytri mantra while touching his forehead and then his chest. The prayer is supposed to help remove any obstacles in dad’s path to the next life as per Hindu belief in reincarnation. This may not be the exact meaning but it is my understanding of the purpose. The son is supposed to perform the ritual but in the absence of the/a son, the daughters or other family members can do it.


I have to say this, which has nothing to do with the ritual and is NOT intended to be disrespectful of the Hindu religion because I don’t think this has anything to do with Hinduism: I am an Indian woman but I never could understand the importance placed on boy children or the preference for boy children in many cultures, most especially in the Indian culture. I think of a child as a gift and embrace them as gifts. I have spent a lifetime in my work and personal life trying to fight inequalities, but when they are so ingrained in one’s culture, it is hard to change the mindset. It’s like asking someone to change who they are or change their belief system. I would just like someone to explain how it makes sense in any way and not give a reason like “well I will have someone to carry on my name.” That doesn’t even make sense to me and would lead to a whole other discussion.  I have not ever had an adequate explanation from anyone, and I really do mean anyone, as to why the preference for boys makes sense and I have to say, it transgresses my sensibilities.  Maybe it's because I think of my three daughters as the greatest gifts I have received and my three granddaughters are equally as important as my grandson.  None of them hold a higher place than the other.
That’s my Friday so far and the day isn’t even half done.

Take care all and have a great weekend...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Upate on Dad,  and Hana's concert
It’s been a busy week so far but I did manage to get to the hospice on Tuesday for about an hour. Dad was not doing too well. He was having more difficulty breathing and the oxygen didn’t seem to help. Karen the student nurse gave him some fentanyl which is supposed to act in about 5 minutes but only lasts about 15 minutes. After 45 minutes of talking to him about work and any other thing that would come to my mind, he was still not feeling better so I asked the nurse to come and give him some more. He can have the fentanyl every 15 minutes as needed. She also said that she gave him another type of med. which should help but his breathing is definitely getting more laboured.

On Tuesday night, the family had a conference called which we did by skype-to-phone. It was good to have all 5 of us (mom and the 4 children) talking to each other at the same time. We are hardly ever in the same place at the same time so this was a long and long overdue conference. We spent an entire 3 hours discussing all the issues we were/are facing, and although we may not agree on every point, we all agreed that we have our parents’ best interests at heart.

Mom was pretty tired by the time the night was over as was I. Robin took her home and I had a shower and went to bed about 11:45pm . I set my clock to alarm at 7am (at least I thought I did), which is at least an hour past the time I am usually awake because I was extremely tired but when the alarm went off, it felt like I had not rested sufficiently. I got up without looking at the clock and got cleaned up. I also have a small watch alarm that goes off at 6:27am (I don’t like to set my alarm minutes in numbers that are divisible by 5, hence 6:27am; don’t even ask!) and by the time I was ready to go downstairs for breakfast, the watch alarm was beeping. I thought “What the heck?” and when I checked my bedside alarm, I had set it for 6:00am not 7:00am. So much for giving myself an extra hour to sleep! Needless to say, yesterday I was tired at work but I didn’t have meetings or workshops so I could relax my brain for a bit.

Auntie Bauline arrived from Toronto yesterday. She was supposed to arrive at 2:30 and would take a taxi to the hospice where I would pick her up. I anticipated that she would be there at about 3:15 so I decided to leave work a bit later so that she would have some alone time with dad before I arrived. I got there at 4:00pm and she was standing at the front entrance with her coat on. I thought she was waiting for me to take her home but she herself had just arrived because her flight was an hour later leaving TO. I spoke to the nurse briefly who said that he did not have a good morning. Sophie had already emailed me with this information as she and Darwin had gone to visit earlier in the day. Dad had a few doses of fentanyl but it did not seem to calm him so they gave him another med. which helps with the anxiety. The combined doses seemed to calm him sufficiently to allow him to sleep a bit.

Auntie Bauline and I went into his room. He was asleep so I woke him because I thought he would be glad to see her. He was. I went to get her some toast and a cup of tea and they visited. I heated up his dinner and he had that although it was not his usual amount. He did have some jello and two small butter tarts. He does enjoy his sweets. I must be like that. My palette can accept sweet, sour and salty things but I don’t like bitter so things like dark chocolate and kariela are not so palatable for me.

I don’t know if I grew a lot since I was a teenager but I remember my family being a lot taller than many of them appear to be now. When I was a child going to DeKendren to visit with Auntie Bauline, Auntie Siloch and Uncle Khemraj, they all looked very tall. Granted that I was a child but over the years, they all seem to have grown down or I grew tall. At 5’7”, I guess I am taller than many Guyanese women but standing next to Auntie Bauline yesterday, I felt like a regular Amazon. It reminds me of when I was approaching adolescence and my family would come to visit and they would ask dad and mom “what are you feeding that girl?” because I was growing so tall. About 10 years ago I was visiting Guyana and I went with Auntie Jean to the market and a little boy came up to me and asked if I was a soldier. I asked why he would ask that and he said that I was tall and walked straight like a soldier. Hmmm... Anyway, I am happy about being taller rather than shorter so I don’t mind if people think I am a soldier or a fearless woman warrior.

I offered Auntie Bauline to stay with me but she is staying with mom for the duration of her 4 day visit. They can go to the hospice together and she’ll be good company for mom for a few days, beside which, I am at work all day so she’d have to get to and from the hospice by cab. My cousin Indi was supposed to come as well but she’ll be coming in about two weeks because of vacation timing and the exorbitant cost of flights during spring break in Ontario. By that time mom will have moved in with me so Indi will stay with us.

Hana's concert
Oh, this is some good stuff. Sahana had her concert last night and the theme was “international” so she wore a really beautiful light mauve langha that I bought for her a few years ago and was obviously way too big for her. She is very tall for a 6 year old – probably in the 80th percentile for her age. She looked so cute in it! I also met her friend Tatiana whose mother Jackie was one of my students about 15 years ago. Jackie wanted to know what I was doing at a concert for K and Gr 1 kids. There must have been nearly 200 K and Gr 1 kids performing.

That was pretty exciting for me in another special way beside my granddaughter being in the concert. I remember when I was a young mother attending Sharm’s first concert in Kindergarten. The entire Kindergarten and Grade 1 consisted of about 28 students. That was the first ever French Immersion group of students in the Fort Garry School Division. I was one of the parents who fought the school board to start a FI program in the division and they made it extremely difficult for us for years – making us pay for bussing when other English school children were being bussed for free and sometimes using monies allocated for libraries for other non-French Immersion programs.

We fought for a school and later for schools, for bussing, for French speaking teachers, for French in other related courses like phys ed. and library and a host of other struggles. So last night it was pretty rewarding to think that the great efforts that a small group of parents made in 1979 has now become just another option for education in the now Pembina Trails School Division. I felt that the battle for my children’s education was worth every bit of effort I put into it for almost 15 years.

Yeah Hana... but don’t be so serious :) :) :) 

Gotta go...
Meeting a colleague soon..

Monday, March 07, 2011

Update on dad
Hi all,
I am not sure how this rumour got started, but dad has NOT passed away. He is doing as well as can be expected.

I have not been to the hospice for a few days as I was getting over the flu myself and did not want to jeopardize dad's health. I made some karhi and rice and some kheer and sent it with mom who was supposed to go today but didn't because she had a fitful night. 

I call the hospice each day to check on dad's progress.  Yesterday he was very tired in the early morning so he asked for some pain meds and slept in past the time he usually has his breakfast.  Janine said that he was a bit subdued in the afternoon and was breathing a bit heavy (more than his usual shortness of breath).  They increased his oxygen from 3 to 5 litres (I have no idea what that means) and have also increased his pain meds. 

Today Sophie and Darwin went to visit and Sophie said that he was asking the nurse about being discharged.  You can't say that the man is not persistent.  She told him that is not going to happen so he stopped asking, but that's for today.  Tomorrow may be more of the same or he may be whistling a different tune - figuratively speaking, but back in the day, he was an excellent whistler.  I hope to go to the hospice tomorrow afternoon after work and will wear a mask if I need to.