Last week, we found out that Clanpaw's chemo was doing nothing. He opted to stop it. His prerogative. As a result, Baba decided to stop her treatment, too, even though she (odds are) will have many more years cancer free if she takes a hormonal treatment in combination with three rounds of chemo. Her cancer is very different and ultimately treatable, but again her choice is to let it run its course. The kids and grandkids could just throttle her, but here again, it is her prerogative.
As a result, life around Green Acres screeched to a halt. Nobody worked, we slept a lot, ate like zombies, and in general forgot that Clanpaw and Baba are still alive and kicking and in good health if you discount the cancer. They are encountering no symptoms, no pain, and have no reason to stop doing what they have been doing for at least the last five or so years. However, they are not leaving the house to go to the places they normally go, they are not doing tasks they usually found pleasure in, and it seems to me that they are merely sitting there in their recliners waiting for death.
My father and I had assumed their household and neighborhood duties when they were actively going through treatment. Doing the wash, the cooking, the shopping, trips to the post office and the dump (no, my grandfather will NOT let anyone pick up his trash at the curb). And now that they aren't going through surgeries or chemo, they are still talking only of their deaths and not assuming their regular activities. They've also refused visits from their friends to the extent that no one even asks anymore if they could come over to say "hi" and catch up with them. In my book, this attitude or, rather, resignation toward dying only accelerates the timeline.
So, I announced today that we were going to go on with life. If it kills me (which it won't). And the first step of the moving on with life plan is to get off our butts and plant our garden before it's too late to do everything we usually do. AND it's gonna be bigger. I showed my plans to Buddy Scat and he's going to mark it all off with extra timbers we have laying around and till it for me next week while I'm at school. It'll probably be just him and me taking care of it, but there's something about watching things grow that's soothing and healing. I'm adding a lot of herbs/spices this year, more corn, and a couple of other surprises that I've found in the woods behind the house. Let's hope my thumb stays green.
Speaking of school...there was noise that I should cancel it since things were "going so badly." BAH! I'm going. Heck, I could get into an accident in my car and die tomorrow and the grands would outlive me by months. I've known them and lived with them for years--prior to the big "C" they always continued with necessary plans even in the face of great trials. So I am choosing to honor their memories before they even pass. That constitutes the second step of the moving on with life plan.
The third step of moving on with life is not quite so easy. It is to talk openly with love and consideration about what is happening with my grandparents to those who love them. I have their permission, of course, because I don't necessarily agree with their self-imposed silence. Left alone, they'd just go into hospice and die without anyone knowing anything about it (once again it's THEIR prerogative). I have two boys, though, who have had the privilege of knowing their great-grandparents. The boys need to know about dying and death. They also need to know about death and dying in the context of the belief structure our family has. I DON'T mean that we need to talk about it all day every day, just that they need to be aware of what's happening and why (as much as any human can know why). I also want them to know what my family believes happens after you die. I never force my Christianity down their throats. They are free to take it or leave it (of course I'd rather they take it) because that is how God offers it to us. Free will.
Step Four is a typical step that many families take in situations like these and you should always take it sooner rather than later. We are trying as much as possible to see our extended family members and maintain regular contact whether it be by phone, email, or Skype. We have more guests coming to the house in the next six months that in the last ten years combined. Probably than in more than ten. Who cares how it happens, it should happen.
And Step Five is already handled and has been discussed. Making a plan to deal with death is not something most people do. In fact, most are caught by surprise even if the person who died is elderly and death is inevitably close. I have a group of friends. We're very tight. Just three of us. Each of us holds in our possession letters about each other's children and what our wishes are if we (since we have no spouses) are killed or rendered unable to care for our kids. We update the letters often and have a swap. Written wills such as these do stand up in court in Texas as legal contracts and are defensible. Many people write wills, but wills done through a lawyer are rarely as personal as the ones I write for my boys. I do include account info, etc. because they will need that, but I also include things that are going on in my son's life and what he's interested in and experiences I would like him to have, I also include letters to some key people---my heart is in those letters. Put your heart in your will--especially if it involves children. The woman that holds the letters for my sons is not rich by any means monetarily, but she is rich in love and care. She is intelligent. She's homeschooling two brilliant boys and makes choices for them like I would myself.
I digress...the point to being prepared by writing a will in any form is that it allows those you love most to be taken care of as best you can after you are gone. Additionally, it allows you to relax during the process of dying and to enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) those last moments with your family.
Life! Seize it!