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Interesting times...

My mother passed away on July 10, 2013.

It was quite simply the worst day of my life. Pancreatic cancer is one of those diseases that isn't going to come out well. You can win battles, but the war will be lost. We were lucky to get the time we did...years instead of months, but it's still never enough and the end is still too soon. But I picked myself up, kept gardening, looked after one of my cats that had some health issues, and worked on getting the will and all dealt with (which is not simple...death is a complex business). Falling apart, not an option because too many were relying on me.

Roughly a month later, I got one of those phone calls we all hate. My brother had had a massive stroke and was in a local hospital.

And before you start offering sympathies of the usual sort, I should say that it was no great emotional blow in the usual sense--no, "Oh god, I could lose another loved one"--- though it was definitely a gut punch of an unpleasant sort. You see, my brother is a violent, misogynistic, abusive rapist and dangerous enough to me that after mom died, a good friend stayed over for about a week because we were both afraid bro would show up on my front porch, hurling accusations and wanting his share instantly (he was written out of mom's will, but was due some things from dad's) and more than willing to beat the crap out of me.

I had managed to cut the asshole out of my life for years. Unfortunately, due to a small trust fund left by my dad, of which I am the trustee but we both inherit from, there are now legal ties and responsibilities. A friend of his has become his guardian and he is getting better apparently. It turned out he was even more of a mental case than even we realized as his house was apparently like something off of Hoarders. Lovely, my mother basically paid for it (blackmail for him to stay away) and he trashed it (literally...apparently everything was broken, beaten, trashed and sunk under cat/dog feces/urine). Meanwhile, he doesn't deserve it, but I've done my level best to be ethical about it all (to my detriment...ethics are expensive some days)...which has been trying at times, because the honest truth is I loathe the bastard. He hurt everyone in my family. He terrorized mom and I and beat and abused and caused as much pain as he knew how. Sadly, he knew how to cause quite a bit.

It was a strange experience having him in the hospital, physically incapable of leaving. I really hadn't realized to that time just how much fear I'd carried around with me all the time. It was simply the default setting. It was very odd the day that I realized I wasn't feeling it anymore. Odd to suddenly understand you aren't feeling something you weren't really aware of feeling.

So, that's one fun event. Mostly it's become not my problem as I've gotten details straightened out, but I get updates and there were legal issues and banking issues and assorted pains in the backside to be dealt with. Thankfully, his guardian is at least a decent guy.

Through all of this, there was business to get done, legal issues to figure out (death is expensive and requires a great deal of paperwork...and oh god, I have to fill out four separate sets of taxes this year), and every time I think maybe I've finally gotten all the details dealt with, I realize there's something else that needs doing.

Meanwhile I've lost two cats after protracted illnesses. Squeaks had kidney failure and a sinus/lung infection. With love and care, I gave her about three months after she first had problems, during which she got to go outside with me (she was always an indoor kitty), which she enjoyed. It was good time. I"m glad I could give that to her, even though it wasn't enough. Yeah, I'm one of those people whose cats are family.

About a week after I lost Squeaks I noted that Freckles was losing weight. The long and short, spent a month searching for an answer, but by time we found it, pretty much by accident, it was too late. Blastomyccosis, which is a fungal infection and virtually unheard of in this region.

That one really, really hurt. Freckles was special. I owed her and I'm so sorry we couldn't save her. You see, she took care of my mom in ways I couldn't. This little cat who couldn't stand to be picked up, restrained or even to stand still would lie with my mother by the hour during some of the times when the chemo and cancer had her ill and out of it. I could sit with her and talk to her, but for some reason touching/holding something warm and soft/furry gave a primal kind of comfort that nothing else. It soothed and calmed her and let her sleep without nightmares. Freckles would lie with her and let mom hold her and maul her by the hour, only taking off for a few minutes here and there for food and a trip to the litterbox.

Then mom broke her pelvis and the doctors told her she probably wouldn't walk again, that the chemo slowed healing too much and  the loss of muscle tone and the pain just weren't likely to allow it. My mother was a very determined woman and started trying to do laps in a narrow hallway in my house, using her walker and occasionally the walls. And somehow, that cat figured out it was good for her, and she would nag mom every day, just bitch at her every time she was near the hallway until she walked. Then she'd follow mom up and down the hallway, both fussy and excited and happy. We figured out Freckles could count to three because she would nag mom for three laps, then bounce off, her job done. It made something very physically painful into something funny...mom would wince, but she'd laugh too. And somehow the laughter helped with the pain. My mother eventually worked up to where she could do three football fields worth of hallways laps, always with the walker for steadiness, but she walked. It let her get out again, go to the zoo, the nursery, get outside and garden and improved her last year immensely. Freckles gave gave that to her more than anyone else. For that, I will always be grateful.

Small cat, big soul, bigger heart. Much missed. Perhaps not all that important in the cosmic scheme of things, but still a little person worthy of tribute.

If there's any good to be found, it's that at least we know what it was, so I can test the others as needed and keep a hawkeye on them. I'm also writing up the early symptoms for the vet so if she's anything similar, maybe it can help someone else.

So that's an overview of the last few months...at least the parts I feel free to talk about (a couple of loved ones have had some nasty issues of their own to deal with, but that's not my story to tell). I suppose I can say of myself that I'm stronger and a better person and a few things like that, though honestly, I would just as soon have stayed bit weaker and not so good.

Which is not say there's been nothing good. I've enjoyed gardening, which is not something I ever expected to say of myself. There is something profound about growing something you can eat. I pulled a carrot out of the ground the other day...very tasty. I did that. Also done some work I really enjoyed and found very fulfilling. And more recently, have been slowly, but surely figuring out After Effects, which has been my bete noir for some time. Maybe I'll post a gag trailer I've been playing with while doing tutorials to figure out special effects sometime soon. Good for a chuckle if nothing else. Kinda quit writing for awhile, but have been doing a bit more recently. NOthing exciting, just something silly, but at least there are some words flowing. Hopefully, more serious (read original) will flow sometime soon because I've been wanting to move away from fanfic to my own stuff for some time now. The original Afterworld concept is still in my head, along with a couple of other ideas and at least one graphic novel concept (though so far, my art skills haven't been up to the task).

That's probably enough for one night. I think I'm rapidly cruising toward whining, and I hate whining. It gets on my nerves...particularly if I'm the one doing it. Dunno if anyone will actually read this, but it was good for me to write it.