May 8, 2003

I'm taking a cue from Katrina and using a prepared webset.  I love how she changes her journal set every time she writes.  I get so easily bored and it's fun to see what she comes up with every day.

I've put off writing this column for a few weeks now.  I've had several people write to me asking about what's going on in my life and how Mom is doing and such and I really didn't know what to say. 

It's been quite a learning time in my life, both about life in general, about relationships and about myself.  Katrina always says that our lowest points are our holiest moments because it's when everything between ourselves and our God is stripped away and we are our most unique and genuine selves.  I have to agree that it's true.  So many things that I took for granted over the years doesn't seem to exist any more and I'm in the process of creating a new life for myself and a new understanding and acceptances of changes and simply, the way things are.

I was reading back over my columns from when I first started writing for Eye on Soaps.  It has been such a joy over the past two years to meet ABC soap fans and the writers for EOS and other sites.  I never dreamed that agreeing to do the gossip column for Katrina would change my life in such a profound way.  Back then, I was the most carefree person in the world.  I was still cutting hair and hanging out with my girls every day, usually 5-6 of them in the shop, watching soaps with me while I did their do's, laughing and joking and having a blast.  It was incredible to watch the shows with different people every day and each day, I looked forward to springing out of bed and getting the day started, sitting in the garden having a cup of herb tea, reading the paper and watching the sun come up.  Mom would be up around 6-6:30 and we'd have breakfast together and compare the night's dreamwork or plan out some future trip or event.  Mom had just gotten over her first stroke then and we were still shaken from the idea of nearly losing her. 

Dr Phil says that who we are today can be traced back to 10 defining moments in our history and one of mine came when I had gone away with my friend, Kurt, (YES, I still have that goddamned head and NO I haven't thought yet of a good way to get it back to him, but I will!!!  Right now, it's holding my headphones) to a Pearl Jam concert in Seattle.  It was great.  Everyone's current favorite American, Michael Moore was there and spoke.  We were gone for a couple of days and had a fantastic time.  When we got back to town, I knew as soon as I got into the house that something was wrong.  Sure enough, Mom had collapsed on the floor of the kitchen and had evidently been there for quite some time.  We rushed her to the hospital and after a couple of days of testing, they determined she'd had a minor stroke and had hit her head when she fell, which caused some intracranial bleeding and unconsciousness.  We didn't know what her condition would be when she woke up or what degree of damage had been sustained.  It was a long 3 days before she finally came out of it.  I was by her bed when she woke up and she looked at me long and hard and told me to get the milk off the porch before it spoiled.  I smiled and told her I'd already done it (the doctors had told us that if she woke up, we were to humor her and agree with anything she said so as not to upset her).  She looked at me really sternly and said, "Don't you bullshit me, Frank Bourland, I can see the milk right there."  My blood froze when she called me by my father's name.  Recently, my mother's best friend, Aunt Claire, who is having some dementia problems, called me Frank as well, which is odd because I really don't look like any of the pictures of my father.  He died just before I was born, so the pictures are all I have to go on, but evidently, if you're looking at me through a filter of loony, I am he and he is me and we all come together. 

She didn't lose any motor skills from the stroke or the fall, but she had trouble putting the right words together for a few months afterwards.  Slowly, it began to work itself out and soon, she was right as rain again.  I, however, was not.  I was left with an acute case of agoraphobia.  I would have major panic attacks whenever I had to leave Mom behind at the house and so I pretty much stopped going out altogether unless I could get someone to stay with her. 

Things were better in 2001, by the time Katrina asked me to do the gossip column.  Mom was a year into doing great after the stroke and we were very happy overall.  I was full of swish and fun and silliness and it came through in my column.  Mom was a funny old duck and always had something to say to her "girls" who were the fans on the net who would write to her and wish her well. 

Mom had a tough time over the next two years with heart problems and falling a couple of times.  Slowly, her personality has been changing and a few months ago, I figured out she was not using her oxygen or taking her pills as she was supposed to.  Mom has long been extremely antagonistic toward Western medicine, blaming it for the misdiagnosis of my dad's cancer until it was too late and for somehow (no one will talk about it) causing him to die earlier than he should have from it.  As long as I've lived, Mom has had an herb garden and has been the local Medicine Woman, healing the sick who can't afford health insurance.  Everything that went wrong, she could treat from the garden... until her illnesses and age caught up with her.  Now, she still has the antagonism against the doctors and hospitals, but doesn't have the resources to take care of herself.

We moved her bed downstairs about a year ago and she has been happier in the new room that looks out onto the garden.  I set up a TV for her in her room and a telephone.  At Christmas, when I got a new computer, I set up the old computer, hoping surfing the net would keep her occupied and maybe even make some friends for her.  About a month ago, I had to pull the video card (Aww, Mom, it doesn't work!  What happened??) because she would NOT stop haunting the message boards that were talking trash about me, logging all of the message board entries, the dates, the posters, the site it came from, claiming it would be used in the police investigation after someone murdered me for something I wrote on the net. 

My mom is a very psychic person, but she is convinced a crazed GH fan is going to off me one day.  She's very frightened by the anger, hysteria and madness some of the fan bases demonstrate and is sure it's going to get me.  This paranoia of hers has been growing since I first got a computer.  When I was first writing for EOS, she at least kept it in check, but for months now, it's been endless haranguing as soon as I sit down to write and it doesn't stop until a few hours after I get up again.  Kye (my sister who lives locally) has been sweet enough to take Mom for a day of shopping and visiting with the children once a week so I can stretch my mind, collect my sanity and crank out a quick column.  I get my notes together and then write it like now, in the deepest, darkest night after Mom is sleeping.  That sucks in particular because I have to be up at 5 to give Mom her meds.  Any more, I've been going back to sleep after that. She has to eat food right after her meds, so I'll usually bring her egg, tea and toast, then get her something else when I wake up again around 8 or so.

When I found out that Mom was palming her meds, I took her to see Aunt Claire and to remind her without saying it that she was pretty lucky to be able to stay home and have someone who loved her to take care of her.  I don't feel badly about that because she took care of me for 18 years and then some more after that as she encouraged me to travel the world, go to college and then take up another career after I got my masters for no good reason other than I wanted to do it.  She always supported me, financially and otherwise, 100% no matter what I wanted to do.  I was very, very blessed and I still am. I did work to help support myself, but as a full time student, I very much depended on her help and she was always there for me.  My own special cheering section. 

Mom and I spent a lot of contented years in this old house that Dad built.  It got quiet after the last of the girls left to go claim their own lives.  Sometimes they moved back when things got tough, but soon they were off and running again.  We've been through a lot of emotional changes in our family and we all love one another fiercely.  We've always respected each other's space and peacefully cohabitated without any of that weird Norman Bates stuff you might be thinking.  We have a lot of the same likes and dislikes and as I said, it's a big house, so that helps a great deal. 

After I started monitoring Mom's medicine and oxygen, she got really angry with me for being onto her about it all of the time (meaning she couldn't slip them past me any more) and would barely talk to me.  I took a trip to see my sister, Marji, who worked out a lot of the kinks by enlisting Kye's help.  The sisters asked me to continue to care for Mom and not to put her into the care of strangers unless it was completely unavoidable.  I agreed and I am sticking to that promise.  After I got back, even with the meds and oxygen and home health care coming in a couple of times a week to check her oxygen saturation and such, Mom wasn't doing so good.  She continued to be hostile and angry most of the time, which is completely unlike her.  Mom is a lovely person, the most gentle, kind, spiritual and wise woman on the planet and it hurts to see her like this, embodying the very spirit she so firmly denounced earlier in life.  Mom would never tolerate fighting, mean-spiritedness or even teasing in our home.  There was a line of basic respect that all of us kids had to toe, for her, for other people and for one another.  Mom didn't put up with any shenanigans.  Silliness was encouraged, but spats were not long lived and there was a great deal of love around.  We were ordered to "use our words" and speak to one another graciously, even if we had a conflict.  Rosie (youngest daughter of the Bourland kids) always felt that stunted her freedom of expression, but Mom told her to put her freedom of expression on the front porch and pick it up when she left home... which she did.  Now, the venom Mom tosses around is a bitter irony.

Mom had a doctor's appointment last week, which sadly, ended up being postponed from Wednesday to Friday.  I was able to confide to the doctor about the continued problems (he was aware of what was going on) and he ended up changing one medicine and putting her on another one.  He said it would take a couple of weeks to reach therapeutic level, but that there should be improvement in a week. which is tomorrow.  She seems a bit calmer, but I'm withholding judgment for another week.

So things on the Mom front are not really good.  I miss my mom, my real mom.  I hope this works to bring her back into form again.  Selfish, I know, but I miss my life as well.

James, from the ill-fated trip to my sister, Ginger's old resort, was in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. I was going to go up and meet him, but Kye was out of town that weekend and I didn't have anyone to stay with Mom.  That is just as well because I have decided that right now, I just don't have time for a relationship.  It was a nice thought, but if it's meant to be, it will come around again.

Additionally, back around the middle of March, one of my dearest internet friends just disappeared off the face of the planet.  No one has heard a word from her (she was a wonderful presence on our message boards) and there is no record of her or her husband in any of the hospitals in her area.  Neither are listed in obituaries.  One of my online friends got in touch with a relative of hers who simply said, "Eh, she does that."  I was totally crushed and I miss her deeply.  Days are ticking away, hours are lost and she's just ... gone.  I'm a virgin at this.  I've never had someone just disappear before.  Of course, even though I'm basically a pretty confident person, I'm haunted by questions of what I could have done or not done to send her away.  She was like a big sister to me and I feel the loss so deeply.  No phone calls or e-mails or snail mails are acknowledged.  She's just gone.  It really goes to show that online relationships are just so fragile and it's like you never really know anyone.  If I just could have gotten a line or two that said, "I need some time.  No worries.  I'll be back soon" I could have dealt with it better.  I know she has to do what she has to do to live in her own skin, but I sure do miss my friend.

The changes in my life have taught me even more so to value every minute and every small wonderful thing in a day.  I'm not one to mope, so I don't fuss over it or make a big deal.  It is what it is and the only real constant in life is change.  I'm taking each of these holy moments one at a time and smiling as much as I can in between.  I still feel very close to Mom and pray that this will all work its way out.  I appreciate all of the notes my readers have sent sharing their experiences and thoughts.  I am sorry that I haven't been able to answer them all, but my computer time is so limited these days.  I'm lucky (we all are) that Katrina is in a position to shoulder more of the EOS work because lord knows I can't do it.  She's had it full boat for months now and I had to go up on Sunday and make sure she was (really) OK with it.  We had a great visit and it was wonderful to see her (Thank you, Ves!!  Sage LOVES presents!).  She gave me some really good advice and filled me up with warm fuzzies to get me ready for this week. 

I wish I had more fun, interesting stuff to report, but each day is pretty much like the last one and there's not much to write about.  I just wanted to bring all of you current since so many had asked.

DON'T worry about Sage!  I'll be fine.  It's just... adjusting.

To answer a few letters, no, sadly, I won't be attending the GH Fan Weekend in Studio City in August.  Katrina will be there in force with several of the EOS staff members.  Please find her and tell her hello.  She'll be the one whose hands are superglued to John J York's ass.

Thanks to all who have donated to Eye on Soaps this month.

Still Feelin That Love!!