It has become a weekly tradition to eat with my parents at IHOP (The International House of Pancakes). Our group numbered 12 people two weeks ago. The manager is quite friendly to me. I am with my mother and her caregiver, Miriam, in this picture.

Last week, I could see my father muster much more of a smile when I took his picture at our weekly lunch where he saw my mother. My mother was ecstatic to have him next to her.

Update on my father:

My father’s procedure last Wednesday was semi-successful and a part of his kidney stone was removed.

The urologist decided to do another procedure two days after (today). Once again, it was not completely successful.

He plans to do the slightly more invasive procedure using a “kidney puncture” in two weeks. My father survived the ordeal, and spoke with me this evening. He was lucid and happy to hear about my vacation, which I decided to go on despite his procedures. I saved a lot of details to share with him, such as the many restaurants I ate at with my family where we had eaten on vacation together many years before.

My Parents

It has become a weekly tradition to eat with my parents at IHOP (The International House of Pancakes). Our group numbered 12 people two weeks ago. The manager is quite friendly to me. I am with my mother and her caregiver, Miriam, in this picture.

“Omar and Lee”


Omar was a special nurse and my father adored him. He was very caring and kind to my father. For the past few weeks, Omar often got my father ready before I came to take my father to my home for dinner. There was so much humanity for me, meeting this kind man who would change my father’s soiled diaper so he would have that “over with” before coming to my home.


He allowed my father so much dignity under such difficult circumstances!


Omar knew my father would be having surgery the following day. I also told him the news I had received only a few hours earlier. When my father was released from the hospital, he would be moved to where my mother was. Although he would be in the same building she was, his room was upstairs. It was very exciting to know they would soon live near each other again after being separated for at least five months.


Tomorrow is their 61st anniversary.


While Omar and I waited for my father to finish in the bathroom, Omar told me how he handled my father’s negativity. He said he reminded my father how when my father was a teacher he would never speak so negatively to his students. He said that after that my father agreed with him and had a more positives attitude.


It was now time for my father and I to leave. As my father and Omar said goodbye, it was quite touching.


It was unlikely that they would ever see each other again.


I asked Omar if I could take his picture and I told him about my blog. He said he would love to read what I had written about my father. When my father smiled for his picture in a way I hadn’t seen in years, I felt like crying. With tears in my eyes, I also hugged Omar goodbye. I thanked him profusely for helping to give my father so much comfort under such difficult circumstances.

Lee and Omar

Lee and Omar. My father is clutching his possessions in a silver bag, which he insisted I take to my house since he will be moving. That orange handle is for the longest shoehorn I’ve ever seen!

Last week, my father had a procedure to once again try to remove his kidney stones by “zapping them.” I apologize for my lack of proper medical terminology. It was scheduled for the same day I had planned to leave on a two-day beach vacation with my family.

When I told my family it would be best to postpone and reschedule our vacation, the reaction from two of my children gave me pause. They were agitated and tearful when they told me they had been looking forward to getting away and especially to spending time with me. It was to be our first vacation in a year together, so I understood.


I mentioned to my father my dilemma, and he was unequivocal in insisting that I not postpone my vacation. I wouldn’t be too far away, so it made sense not to change it. My brothers could keep me informed. I decided to try something different, since my devotion had always been steadfast to my parents and my children were really looking forward to this trip.


Vacations represented a tremendous challenge for me.


The night before leaving, I allowed myself to imagine ways I could unobtrusively incorporate music to better soothe, as well as help myself cope with those challenges.


I definitely could use the metaphor of my family being like a big salad. All my children, as well as my husband were like oil and vinegar. I represented the tongs and tossed things up to create the best results. However, being the “chef” was not relaxing, for sure!


As I left for my trip, I had quite a few stressful phone calls on that Wednesday morning. This was in addition to wondering what the outcome of my father’s surgery would be later in the day.


My stress:


My mother had coughed up blood the night before. Her caregiver, Miriam, called me early in the morning and I called my mother’s charge nurse. She was taken for an x-ray. The last message I heard was that she was being referred to a pulmonologist.

 My mother had hearing aids that were no longer working. I needed to find out when I could have them repaired if they were unable to be replaced by her insurance.

The net result of my mother not hearing well was that her dementia became far worse. Her latest symptom was a complete refusal to eat. Miriam told me she now sustained her with a “Boost” liquid supplement. It took clever cajoling from Miriam to convince my mother to even drink it.


In order to better cope, I imagined I was a superhero who could pull it all off. I held onto that image and became focused on deflecting the arrows of pain shooting in my direction. With my family, I was often everyone’s complaint department. I was very good at absorbing pain.


Unfortunately, that made me ill and wasn’t optimal for me.


Still, for this short vacation I tried to make everyone happy even though I knew that was totally impossible.


I was semi-successful, so that alone was worth celebrating!


There were many moments where I sang to myself. I even wrote lyrics while everyone slept.


As I sign off now to go sing and play my guitar, I want to share one of the ways I pleased my youngest son on our vacation.


Only last week, I wrote these words regarding going near the ocean:


“Are you kidding? You won’t catch me near the freezing water. I am not going to take any chances getting smashed by a wave! It’s too important for me to maintain my health at this stage in my life.” 


Well, I said okay to my youngest son when he begged me to accompany him in the ocean. We both swam on boogie boards to a platform that was offshore. He kept saying to me, “Mom, how come you’re not afraid?”


I told him there was nothing to be afraid of.


The greatest pleasures in life often happen when we have the courage to just jump in!

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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