And someday I'll get around to adding photos of our actual move in, including that massive roast chapon and free IKEA tree.
Last year in March my Mom had a bad fall at home (coincidentally on my first trip to Paris). The impact exacerbated some existing injuries (prior falls), and created new ones, hard to diagnose. Thank goodness she had strong advocates nearby, since I wasn't - the ER doc interpreting the x-rays tried everything to get her discharged, seeing no fracture. "She needs to get up and walk!" An intervention by school peers who knew her better and an MRI by another doc confirmed multiple breaks in several places of the pelvis, an extended stay, and lots and lots of rehab. Perhaps most significant for Mom - a substitute teacher would finish her school year.
We barnstormed the US in June, an adventure with a 6-month pregnant Mama, starting in California, then Utah for Elena's conference, and finally Boston to visit my parents-in-law. Oliver had already been on intercontinental, but not so close to the dreaded 2s...
Oliver first visited Porterville just after he turned 1 (in time for Thanksgiving, naturally, for those who knew Mom's entertaining habits), but this time he got to know Mom's project yard and her - he calls her Nana - for who she was. She got to be both teacher and grandmother, though I know she felt limited in her mobility and endurance.
They struck up a special relationship - one she'd anticipated for quite a while.
Introduction to the Sierra west side (and lengthy, windy roads, ugh):
Then we left mid-June, and Mom celebrated her 71st birthday with friends in July - ladies from the families Buckton and Crawford, as far back as I can remember. I sent her a new digital camera, which I seem to have all the photos from merged into my Picasa files somehow, which has created rather an odd effect. Some birthday shots:
Juxtapose this with ... total silence from Sweden. We were busy at home, me with a big project at the office, Elena with a big project at home. My mother in law Mary Berg arrived that first or second week in September, and Sebastian - our second son - came to visit on lucky Friday the 13th. It had been freezing overnight already, but not too cold to rollerski weekends.
Back in California Joan sent Mom a beautiful bouquet of flowers either late in September or early October, and she photographed them. And took a number of shots of her garden, and her dog, and the fish.
Then in early October Mom and I had been emailing casually about Sebastian, her health struggles, Oliver's new interest in "school" (dagis), and our pending move to France, which she also looked forward to (one winter visit to Sweden after Oliver was born was enough she said). Plus she still wasn't very stable with her walker, nor comfortable on long trips.
On October 16 she wrote:
You were right Jeff about the nerves being involved in my health issue...I know seeing a neurologist was a clue... I have ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease. It was confirmed by the neurologist at UCLA.
However, I do have some good news...How like Mom. All the good news in the world couldn't drown out the bad news courtesy google, then emailing family with connections in ALS research. ALS is (typically) terminal, merely a question of months or a few years. (ALS is also unusual in women, and certainly unusual in the 70+ crowd. However these factors would work against Mom, not for her.)
In November Sebastian was two months old. Mom had neck surgery, encouraged by a doctor in Fresno who thought he could increase mobility for her. I don't know if it brought her comfort, but the hope of medical improvements is almost always worth something.
Back in Sweden we were doing the new-parent-all-over-again thing.
And about there we started this blog - where we packed up and shipped off to Paris (December through January), which meant an insanely focused time for the Euro branch of the family.
Then my wife Elena started her first term professing in January - nominating me stay-at-home dad, instead of the more American term "daddy as babysitter". Somehow the kids survived; more remarkably, somehow we pulled off a spring break trip for all four of us to visit Mom in Porterville, and for her to meet Sebastian.
|Taking the RER to Charles de Gaul|
|Home at Nana's place with Sheryl|
Then suddenly we left Porterville once more, after a hard goodbye. I thought it could be our last - and out of utter frustration I told her it was simply 'unfair'. No other word could describe my feeling of loss of continuity, as this was my only parent - me, her only son - and finally, grandkids. Something she'd mentioned before the Y2K bug was a thing. And unfortunately for Mom and the rest of my family it was their last visit, except for a couple short Skype sessions.
And next thing we heard in Europe there had been another fall. Things took a rapid decline and there was a conversation about at what point Mom would need to leave home or begin hospice care there. She started with Gentiva Hospice that last week of April I think, and I arrived in Porterville a little after 6 am on May 1.