Shifting focus in the middle of the not-so-good…

This hasn’t been the easiest of weeks. My dad has been back in the hospital. I was really hoping that his “second stay” wouldn’t be for more than a day or two, but tomorrow marks the end of another week. I think we’re getting closer to another go at home, but we’re not there yet! It’s almost hard to believe how vigorous he was a month ago…but once that pneumonia got going it quite literally stripped him of his strength, making mobility more difficult…which only further saps available physical energy. I think he’s in the middle of a vicious cycle. Vicious…good word for it.

So home away from home has been the hospital. It’s hard to believe that even this troublesome time has its own rhythms. There’s still work and certain obligations, although it’s amazing to me how quickly things that seemed important as we entered May don’t seem that necessary right now. My mom has taken semi-permanent residency at the hospital, and the rest of us do what we can to be there in support, which includes taking our turns as patient advocates. I shudder to consider what happens to the ill or injured if family members are not available as additional eyes and ears. I suspect I will eventually have a lot to say on this subject…but I  don’t quite have the energy for that conversation right now.

In the middle of a very difficult time, there are still those moments that delight and remind me to reach for joy.

A very special little girl is turning three on Monday. And what did she want to do for her birthday? We live in Southern California, so Disneyland, of course!

Karina requested to have her birthday in Minnie’s kitchen. It took some explanation to convince her that we wouldn’t be able to move her cake and presents to Toon Town. Mommy explained that Minnie’s Kitchen is for ALL the boys and girls. She settled for a picture at Minnie’s kitchen table.

I had to include this picture, too. There are very few extroverts in our family tree. But drama oozes from Karina. She takes to the stage at every available opportunity.

And what would a day at Disneyland be for two preschoolers without a hug from Cinderella?

 Our Disney Day coincided with the Annular Solar Eclipse. I really should have taken pictures of all the people doing their very best to figure out a way to catch a glimpse. It appeared to me that no one was doing any better than I was at figuring out how to do that. We only experienced a partial eclipse, meaning that even with the moon’s position between us and the sun, that “blazing orb” didn’t exactly fade.

The ferris wheel at California Disney

So four adults and two children went up in this giant ferris wheel at 6:00 pm…


 Yes, I know it doesn’t look like much! I have dozens of photos just like it 🙂 There were some interesting shadows indicating the moon’s presence, but the best I could do was blindly aim the camera in the direction of the sun and snap away. I’m afraid that this was the result of my best effort. I wish you could have been with me just to experience the unusual light.

I suppose taking photos at all–even from the top of a ferris wheel, just tells you something about me. I do my  best to put my energy in the direction of being hopeful. And that’s how I will end this week.

If there’s anything I’m sure of…we all have “stuff” we’re dealing with. So find the little joys this weekend, and hold onto them.

Working just a little harder at breathing lighter… Debra

40 thoughts on “Shifting focus in the middle of the not-so-good…

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your father Debra. That is not good news at all. I can’t believe he’s had to go back into hospital. Your days must be so busy. I hope he makes a full recovery and is home from hospital soon xx

    • Thank you so much, Charlie. We should have him home by Monday…and he can continue to gain strength back much better at home! But we are so fortunate to live within about fifteen minutes of the hospital. That makes it all quite bearable! I hope you have good weekend…I plan to aim at a little rest 🙂 Debra

    • Thank you, David. It will be well…I’m sure! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I take pictures of everything. Ha! I think there are times I lose objectivity and wonder if they translate well to anyone else! 🙂 Debra

  2. Goodness, Debra, you must all be exhausted! I’m so sorry your dad is back in hospital, and I’m sure you’re all doing a wonderful job as his advocates. You did right to head out for the day with the little ones 🙂 Wishing you all well x

    • Thank you, Fiona. I’m glad it’s the weekend, and I can definitely get caught up on a little rest. We are expecting my dad will be released soon, and can finish his recovery at home. My parents live across the street…so we can continue to be close to just assist as necessary. Everyone does better from their own home! Debra

  3. I am sorry to hear that your father had to return to the hospital, Debra. I hope he regains some strength soon. That’s really the way life is: birthday parties and illnesses and eclipses all mixed together — in Joni Mitchell’s words, “There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes and sometimes there’ll be sorrow.” And here you are, breathing through it all.

    • Thank you so much, Sharyn. I love the Joni Mitchell lyrics, too. It is all mixed together! I think we’ll regain our equilibrium soon, and in the meantime, I’m just really grateful that I live so close to my parents and can give a little assistance! I hope you have a great weekend…possibly still planning your wonderful trip? Debra

  4. Debra, I wish I lived closer to you just to be able to give you a hug. I’m so sorry your parents are still struggling. This is one time where I suspect Disneyland was a great diversion for the adult more than the child. I hope your Dad is swiftly home again, and well.

    • Thank you so much, Andra. I’ll just take that hug long distance! I can feel it. You are so dear. We’ll get through this, and I have every reason to believe that I can use much of this three-day weekend to get a little rest! I hope that you have good weekend, too! oxo Debra

  5. Oh, goodness, Debra, I am sorry to hear that your father is back in the hospital. How exhausted you all must be, especially your mom and dad. I’m sure the doctors are aiming every possible antibiotic at the culprit and hope that soon, very soon, he will be on the upswing. Hang in there, keep strong. I have had times of my own where my prayer has been for enough strength for the next hour, then the next.

    A three year old birthday at Disney! How wonderful that is and what an absolute darling girl Karina is? That smile and, dare I say, already a confident sense of self?

    • Today was a much better day, Penny, and that’s the encouragement. There is every evidence that he’ll be home by Monday. As tough as it’s been, I have friends going through so much more with hospitalizations that are on and off for months. That knowledge has certainly helped to keep our situation in perspective. And we are fortunate to have plenty of able family members all living in close proximity to my parents, so despite it all, there are some optimum conditions for his post-hospital recuperation. Thank you for such caring thoughts!

      Karina is so adorable, and so funny! She LOVES an audience, and already works a crowd! We have no idea where that comes from. There are no entertainers in our family, but she may be the first! 🙂 I do hope you and Tom have a wonderful weekend…hope the spring weather is sticking around for a while! Debra

  6. Oh Debra, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad returning to the hospital. Yes you’re right, everyone is dealing with at least one difficulty (I’m in the middle of no less than 5 family health issues at the moment), but that doesn’t stop us from caring about another’s problems. You and your dad will be in my prayers.

    Karina is beautiful and looks like an absolutely joy. I’m sure the trip to Disney was as uplifting for you as it was for her. Hope your dad is home and well again very soon.

    • Thank you, sooo much! I really appreciate your care and prayer is always meaningful and important to me. I cannot imagine having multiple family health issues. Of course I have many friends with tremendously complex health issues–some very serious and life-threatening. I have marveled at their stamina and ability to work through health systems, navigating very complex issues! I really believe my dad will get home and recuperate much better! And little Karina and her sister love their great-grandfather…so they are good medicine! 🙂 Blessings, Debra

  7. Hi Debra, hope is a beautiful thing and your always positive attitude makes dealing with life’s challenges like the little train that could! You are an inspiration to all of us to find the joys (even the small ones!) in every situation. Fingers crossed your Dad will be home very soon and be on the road to a complete recovery. Happy Birthday to Katrina! I think we should ALL celebrate at D-Land! It IS the happiest place on earth:) Adorable pictures of the girls. They are your sunshine during this cloudy period! We miss you but of course will be there when you are ready to come back!!

    Happy Memorial Weekend! Diane xoxo

    • Thank you so much, Diane. You are always so encouraging…I really appreciate that. I’m sure I’ll be back soon…and need to get back soon! LOL! Disneyland was doing the “free on your birthday” a few years ago and I had so many friends who took days of work to get there for a special day! I think it would be great if they reinstated that policy! Instead they just raised their admission fees! I hope you have a good weekend…and maybe I’ll actually make it to yoga at least once! 🙂 I’m aiming for at least that! Debra

  8. Oh Debra, what can I say but send you a healing hug. I hope you hear brighter lighter news about your father, your mum is obviously getting lots of love and support from you and the rest of your family which is wonderful.
    and what a special birthday and an eclipse – hold onto those wonderful magical moments Debra. there are positives all around us, we keep having to look for them don’t wem, and you definitely found them this week! Gorgeous.
    Take care, and I hope you have some rest for yourself in all of this. Claire

    • Thank you so much, Claire. I’ll take that healing hug and pass it on to my dad, too! We are so fortunate to all live close by one another. That alone makes a tremendous difference in easing the tensions! I do try to focus on positives, and yes, they are all around us. We have a three-day weekend in the U.S. (Memorial Day is Monday) and so I’m already feeling like I have a little time to rest in between other things. That’s a big plus! I hope you have a good weekend, too! I’m sure you’ll share some of it with us next week 🙂 Debra

    • Thank you so much, Rita! Karina is my youngest grandchild and now that she’s three, no babies! She is delightful! She and her sister are the very best of distractions…I can get quite lost in them 🙂 Debra

  9. We’re still riding the waves here too, Debra. It is exhausting. Take the “highs” wherever you find them . . . and breathe them in deep.

    Disneyland shots looks great. The birthday girl is a charmer. Hope you dad is home again soon . . . for good.

    • Riding the waves…that’s exactly it, Nancy! I’ve thought of you and your dad and mom…and I have so many friends riding these same waves! I do agree with you that it’s our responsibility to take in the “highs”–they aren’t hidden from our view, are they! We just have to be willing to look. Thanks for your encouragement and sharing! Debra

  10. Debra, all our love from the Shrewsday household for your Dad. Life is so strange when someone you love is in hospital – it’s on hold, while we sort out the top priority.I do pray he gains strength and soon reaches a time when he can be at home again. In the meantime, all our love to you and your family.

    • I really thank you, Kate, and I’m grateful to have the extension of care. Dad did come home today, for which I’m so thankful. But he has lost so much strength, and I think we’re all struggling to watch him adjust to some limitations. We’ve been unbelievably fortunate to have avoided any health crises up until now, and I think I somehow have been able to avoid the reality of what happens when we age. Our bodies don’t hold up forever! I do have a large network of support, which some people don’t have, and a strong personal faith…I’m needing to pull from all of it right now. And I must say that having an additional support from this wonderful blogging community couldn’t be any more precious to me! I really smile when I think of that! Who knew! 🙂 I hope your household continues to do well, Kate. I have remembered your mom in my prayers. I have a lot of feeling extended out to those who have cares and concerns for their loved ones. Your family is very special. oxo Debra

  11. So sorry your dad has been back in hospital, Debra, but it’s good that he’s getting all the care possible to make him properly well. I do hope he makes it home permanently very soon.

    You have a star in the making with little Karina without a doubt. 🙂 That must have been such an enjoyable birthday trip.

    • Thank you, Perpetua. My dad did get out of the hospital today, and we’re hopeful that he will be able to make a full recovery. Right now he’s awfully depleted. I have a strong network of support and a strong personal faith as well, as do my parents, and we are just going to give it time. I’m basically just so grateful that he was able to come home! Celebrating Karina’s third birthday I was reminded of how fortunate we are…my dad is Karina and Sophia’s great-grandfather. That in itself is an amazing blessing. So again, I really thank you for your thoughtfulness. oxo Debra

  12. Dear Debra, I am so sorry to learn that your dad is back in the hospital. Pneumonia, as we age, seems to take hold and almost refuse to let go. The good thing of course is that medicine can help loosen that hold but time passes while you and your family–especially your mom–await good results. Sickness is so debilitating to the person who is ill and to the family as well.

    And like you, I’m glad that your dad has his family to comfort him and to act as advocates for him. That’s so necessary and for many there simply aren’t people able or willing to do the advocacy. I’m so glad that you are–and I look forward to learning about your experiences with this in a future posting.

    For myself today, I posted and then I read a fine mystery by Frank Tallis. Reading fine writing is a joy for me. And an education. I’m always trying to learn how to write better by studying those who already write well.

    Peace to you and please be good to yourself–like taking that ride on the Farris wheel!

    • Thank you so much, Dee. You always have such a warm and attentive way of reaching out. I am always so happy to see your name in my comments box! My dad was able to come home today, for which we are so grateful. He is still incredibly weak, and I think time will reveal how much of a recovery he will make. But he is very strong mentally, and will do what he can from his end, I know. The advocacy roles we played in the hospital are going to be something I think about for a long time. You are so right that not everyone has that advantage, and I just hate to think how that may impact the level of care they receive. Medical personnel are stretched very thin and although most are fine professionals, it is still the “squeaky wheels” who get the attention.

      It sounds like you had a good day reading your mystery! I love that you make a study even from your favorite pastimes. You are definitely a life-long learner, Dee, and I’m sure that keeps you remarkably young in spirit! You are such a positive bright light. Stay that way…we need more people like you in our lives 🙂 oxo Debra

  13. I’m very sorry that your dad is in the hospital Debra. I know how difficult that is for everyone. My thoughts are with you. Isn’t it amazing how something can shift your perspective entirely and so quickly?! And like you said, that’s when it’s time to focus on the little things. 🙂 Your granddaughters are just too cute for words! And I can’t think of a better way to spend a birthday than at Disney! I’m sure they had a ball.

    • Thank you, Kristy. Dad is home now and we are readjusting our sails quite a bit. He will need some time to rest and recuperate and we’ll see how things land for him! But he also takes pleasure in family, and we are all close. I actually live across the street from my parents. I feel fortunate to be so close and at hand! My little granddaughters are the joy in my life, as I know you can tell, and as you’ve seen in your own mother, these darling children can make us smile without even trying 🙂 oxo Debra

  14. Debra, it is in times as these that your courage and strength SHINE. I will keep you all in my daily and PM prayers. Love Jackie

    • Thank you so much, Jackie. That is a real blessing to me. You are so kind. Despite some major adjustments and concerns for overall strength and independence, we have much to be grateful for. I’m trying to keep that in the front part of my thoughts 🙂 Bless you, Debra

  15. Debbie…….started to write this the other day and got interrupted and here I am 3 days later. I hadn’t seen until just a few days ago that your dad was back in hospital and now home again. So very glad he is home again and praying he continues to gain strength and get better. It is so hard when the parents have these difficulties, in the hospital, trying to help both the patient and help the care-giving other parent, etc. etc. It is draining for sure and I know you are the one to carry the biggest load in helping your folks. I totally understand and have kept you in my prayers.. It is nice, though, that you are close and can just hop across the street when help is needed. So much harder when you have to drive back and forth. Please give your folks my love and tell them I am praying that all we back to normal soon! I have a hard time picturing your dad down and not feeling good, so tell him I said to hurry and get better!! 🙂

    Will keep praying and try to make sure I actually finish my notes to you! My love to all the fam!

    • How fun to find your name in the comments section, Nancy! You caught me by surprise. I certainly appreciate the prayers, and I can honestly report that Dad is doing well. He went so far “backwards” that moving ahead still leaves some needs, of course, but we are very grateful for all progress! And you’re so right…being across the street and readily accessible is a big help. Thank you so much for stopping by the blog to leave your note. What fun for me! Debra

  16. Sorry to read about your dad… How is he doing lately? Didn’t he come home in another post? Sending healing hugs and also birthday blessings to your family.

I always enjoy hearing from you!

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