Blizzard Warning

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I had a bad feeling something big was about to happen. Every morning since Christmas, I’d been waking up wondering if my mom was going to wake up too.  Then the blizzard announcement came.

 

 

The predicted storm was alarming to most people.   For me, it came at a good time.  Since the beginning of January, my mom had developed an odd rash all over her face.  It was getting severe.  I thought maybe a few days at home would do her some good.  Plus, I thought it would give me time to do some research in my handy dandy book on Ayurvedic home remedies.   I had to figure out what was causing that rash.  Maybe it  was  caused by  troubling thoughts?  I even thought she might be depressed.

 

 

I first learned about Ayurveda (the Science of Life) when I was a sophomore in college. I had just formally declared  my concentration in International Relations instead of pre-med. Initially, I had planned on becoming a Dermatologist.  I had this weird fascination with pimples.  Then my mom showed me a few of her medical journals.  The pictures were graphic.  My mom said, “Bet you didn’t know pimples could pop up in all sorts of places-not just the face?!”   After that,  I decided, International Relations was indeed going to be my major.  Anyway, I was taking a Russian Literature class and was seated next to my loud, obnoxiously catty friend Eric.   He started saying snide things about  this girl seated in front of us.  He thought her hair was “way too long” and she should “not be wearing that sweater with those pants!”  The girl turned around to look at stupid Eric.  I apologized. The girl was Mallika Chopra.  We soon became fast friends.  She told me all about her dad (Dr. Deepak Chopra) and his books on the mind body connection and Ayurveda.  Those books changed my life!   Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest  healing systems.  It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on the balance between mind, body, and spirit.

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I knew there had to be a reason for my mom’s rash.  Was this skin outbreak her way of grieving?

 

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Lucille and Alberta

In August 2015, my mom’s older sister, Lucille,  died.  Coincidentally, Aunt Lucille had suffered a similar stroke nearly 10 years before my mom.  My mom and Aunt Lucille had a special bond.  My mother often talks about how Lucille was the one who encouraged her to go to medical school.  At the time, my mom had been feeling low because the schools she wanted to go to were not accepting women.  Aunt Lucille did some research and found a medical school for my mom.  She even got her an application.  When the acceptance letter arrived, my mom asked Lucille to open it.

 

Lucille opened the letter and read the good news.  My mother was washing dishes. She  was so excited she broke the glass she had been washing and severely cut her hands. Lucille angrily rushed my mom to the hospital. She feared my mom had now ruined her chances at going to  medical school.

 

 

 

Also, in early January 2016, my mom’s very  dear friend from medical school and fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing,  had a stroke.  My mom, my twin sister Akwelle and our cousin Janice (Aunt Lucille’s daughter) went to visit Frances in the intensive care unit.  When we got there, my mom was totally shocked to see  her friend on life support. My mom was speechless.  But once we got home, she would not stop talking about it.  The next day we got the news that Frances had died.  My mom was very sad.  This is when my mom’s rash started getting  really bad.  I’d never seen her so upset, not even when my dad died.

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The weekend of January 23, 2016,  we got 28 inches of snow.  A blizzard!  Monday evening after the snow had stopped falling, my twin sister and I had a marathon of shoveling snow in the front and alley areas of the house.  My mom took her nightly bath and afterward said, “Good Night.” About 30 minutes later, my sister and I heard a loud thumping noise from my mom’s room. We ran upstairs and there was Mommy on the floor with her legs folded under her. My sister said, “What happened?” My mom said, “I just tripped over the humidifier. It’s nothing.  Good night!”

 

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The next morning, my mom said she thought she might have the flu.  She said she was going  back to bed.  I noticed  she was stumbling again while walking up the stairs.  When she got to her room, there was a very loud thud.  It actually shook the house like an earthquake.  My twin sister and I rushed upstairs once again.  Our mom was on the floor, but this time she had trouble getting herself back up.  That’s when my twin sister insisted that we go to the Emergency Room.  My mom said she just needed a nap.  But my twin sister  said she was going to call an ambulance.  My mom said, “No!” Then my twin sister cleverly said, “Why don’t we go to your doctor’s office.  He’s in the building next to the hospital.  The streets are probably clear over there.  Let’s do that!”  My mom said yes.  The next task was all mine–driving through all that crazy snow!   I did not stop for any red lights. I just kept on going– praying I would not crash.  Thankfully, we were the only people on the road.  Finally, we got to my mom’s doctor’s office.  There was a note on the door, “Due to inclement weather we are closed.”  I had already parked the car in the parking garage.  But, the ER was just in the next building.  So we walked.

 

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A Proper Introduction

 

My parents, Ken and Alberta, first met in Chicago in 1950. My dad had a car and his best friend asked him if he could take him to a girl’s house to ask her to a dance.  The girl was my mother’s older sister, Frankie.  Instead of staying in the car, my dad decided to go into the house too. He was curious about the house because he had heard stories about the lady (my great grandmother) who was a psychic medium and held seances every night in the basement. As my dad was wandering through the house (on his way to the seance room) he ran right into my great grandmother who promptly  redirected him and told him he could wait for his friend in the living room. My mother happened to be in the living room watching t.v. My dad introduced himself  and asked my mom if she wanted to go to the dance with him. She said yes. At the dance, my dad danced with every girl except my mom. After that, my parents went their separate ways. My dad was invited into the Marine Corps and my mom taught school for awhile before eventually leaving Chicago to attend medical school.

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Ten (+)  years later when my mom finished medical school, she sent my dad an invitation to her graduation. My dad did not go to the graduation. Instead, when my mom returned home to Chicago, he took her to dinner to celebrate. They were married within the year.

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Soon, my older sister, Aellyn, was born and then my middle sister, Ayn, came along. My father always told my mom that he wanted a big family. At that time, my mom was content with just the two girls. By then, my mom had become a child Psychiatrist (specializing in children ages 11 and under).  She was very busy.  But, my dad, as usual, had a special knack for getting things to go his way.

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At that time, my dad was an avid African Art collector. A friend of his had given him a pair of Ibeji dolls (fertility dolls from Ghana). The friend cautioned my dad about keeping the dolls together.  He also advised my dad against keeping them in the bedroom— that is, if he intended to have no more children. Naturally, my dad put the dolls in the bedroom (he wanted a big family).

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Nine months later, my twin sister, Akwelle and I were born. My dad made sure to give us Ghanaian names. In protest, my mother called us “Baby A” and “Baby B” for quite awhile. She was not thrilled with these unusual names from Ghana. Akwelle means first born female twin and Akuokuo means second born female twin. Had we been boys, my dad planned on naming us Romulus and Remus (after the founder’s of Rome).

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When I was a senior at Brown University, I wrote my parents detailing my plans of “exploring the arts” for the rest of my life starting with cooking school. My father was amused.  My mother had a fit.  “I did not pay all that money for you to end up in somebody’s kitchen,” she said.  I became the office manager of my mom’s psychiatric practice and explored the arts in my free time.

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My twin s sister, Akwelle, is my mom’s assistant.

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My older sister, Aellyn, is a behavioral therapist—also working in my mom’s practice as well as a singer/ songwriter. She has two children, Amy (recent college grad.) and Kenneth (currently in acting school).

My middle sister, Ayn, is a psychologist specializing in PTSD.  She is not currently actively participating in our mom’s stroke recovery.

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We all have different ways of coping with stress. When my father was ill with non-hodgkins lymphoma, my middle sister, Ayn, did the same thing. She just could not be present for the day to day process.

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Instead she chose to wait it out, thinking things would get better once our dad finished treatment. His treatment was progressing well, but he contracted pneumonia and quickly died. This devastated my middle sister Ayn.  She has truly never been the same since. Again, we all have different ways of coping with stress.  Some, of course,  are more productive than others.

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I, for example, love Keith Urban. I got the Player by Keith Urban  DVDs for Christmas.  I am learning to play the guitar.

 

 

Of course, I also have a serious chocolate problem.

 

 

And, I am the reigning fantasy daydreaming queen.  I often find myself looking into the sky, watching the clouds.  Suddenly, I am transported to an alternate reality where Keith Urban and I live in New Mexico on our avocado ranch. We are raising our triplet boys Kash, Koal and Kolt. Keith is a gentleman farmer and I am a ceramicist.  All in good fun!

 

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My twin sister, Akwelle, on the other hand, has been coping with stress by writing. Her latest blog is called Make Some Dough (a dough diary).  Click the link below to take a look:

http://www.makesomedoughblog.wordpress.com

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It is not easy being a caretaker for a parent.   It is not easy seeing them down and out. But maybe one day my middle sister will visit our mother.   And maybe she too will find strength in our mom’s will to survive.  To her credit, Ayn did play a pivotal role in getting an abusive  night time aide fired at the nursing home/ rehab facility where our mom spent 3 months of her recovery.

 

 

I almost forgot to mention our two very special canine family members. Kookaburra (Lab/ Border Collie mix) and Brooke (Sheltie).  They are true healers!

 

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