When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran, from"The Prophet"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keenan's Journal

Things have sure changed a lot around here lately. Mama is still waking up very early, but now instead of spending the morning together doing a lot of writing like we've done for months, she only sits with me for a little while as she drinks her first cup of coffee. Then she dashes upstairs and gets in the shower. I follow to see if we're getting ready to go somewhere, like for an early morning walk, but instead of putting on her sweats and gym shoes, she puts on some fancy clothes that she recently bought at the store, grabs her purse, gets in the car and drives away - WITHOUT ME! I'm having trouble understanding a lot of what's going on. She's using the words WORK and JOB a lot, and there seems to be a pattern developing. She leaves in the morning at about 7:00 and doesn't get home until 5:00. Good thing my bladder is big!

It's such a long day without her here, and sometimes I get really scared that she won't come back... just like Erin. Erin used to go to the hospital a lot for treatments and sometimes she even spent a whole week there, but eventually she came home and I was always so happy to see her. But, one day she went away and didn't come back. I was in the room that day when she had to go away.  Mama and I talk about that day, and together we repeat She's really not coming back to one another. We get very sad and she still uses my mane when she can't find the kleenex box. I like it when she hugs me like that.
I still love to carry Erin's socks around the house, so they always leave a few pairs on the floor for me. Mama says we are all making adjustments and finding our new way, and change is difficult
and we all have to work through the things
that are different and scary and sad. 
I guess she's right, but sometimes I just have to snuggle up with a little reminder of Erin and sleep on all those thoughts.

I have to say that Mama has been looking a little disheveled lately. She's been studying big packets of papers with a lot of writing on them. They've been teaching her about the words and pictures on them at that place she calls WORK. I often find her sitting at the island in the kitchen and talking about things like a Recurring HAR and EEV and Medicare Coverage and Interactive Face Sheets and P/F Guarantor Accounts and Primary Care Physicians and Referrals and... blah blah blah!

Over the two-week classroom training period, she had to take six assessments on the things she was taught. She says, "Who do they think they're kidding? Assessment really means TEST!" She hasn't taken one of those so-called ASSESSMENTS since college and all students have to score a 95% or better just to PASS the assessment! She was a little stressed out, but she did it.

On some mornings, she tells me her tummy feels a little yucky because she's nervous. I understand. My tummy has been a little yucky too. I threw up on the rug once when she was at work. I think I was just missing her a lot. She cleaned it up when she got home and told me it was OK. She said a patient threw up at work one day too.  Accidents happen.

She walks around and babbles, Dr So-and-So is this type of oncologist and is in the Clinic on Mondays and Thursdays, and you in-basket this nurse for these three doctors, and they'll do scans at this location but they can't at that location, and you can schedule appointments in the lab by clicking on this button and... blah blah blah! She's trying to remember so many new things.

I've been thinking a lot about the way they used to help me remember how to sit and stay and come. They used treats and praise, and it took a lot of practice to get everything right. I used to get very confused about what they were telling me to do, but they were very patient. Mama says everyone at work is really patient and nice, and they help her because there is so much to learn, and new things come up everyday. She's working with ladies who have been there for many years and they know everything. I tell her she'll know everything someday too. I'm going to tell Papa to get some Peanut M & Ms at the store next time he goes, and I'll use them to reward Mama when she gets the right answer. That should help her learn faster!

She shocked me one day when she came home and said, "Keenan, my dogs are barking!" I wondered what the heck she was talking about. I'M her dog and I wasn't barking! I usually don't because it's rude. I was pretty jealous because I thought she'd met other dogs at this new job of hers that she hadn't told me about, and then I finally figured out she was referring to her feet! It's because of those SILLY GROWN-UP SHOES with heels she has to wear now rather than her gym shoes.

One day while she was studying the phone rang, and she answered it and said, "Cancer Center - Clinic B, this is Mary, how may I help you?"! What the heck is wrong with her? This isn't a Clinic, this is our house! DUH!

She tells me about all the nice nurses she's meeting, and about how they're so compassionate toward the patients. We talk about how Erin would have been such a great nurse. We used to say, "No one understands better than one who has been through it." and we'd both tell her she was REALLY going to understand her patients, but Erin never got the chance to do that. Then, Mama buries her face in my mane.

Erin had a blood pressure cuff, and one day she was messing around and I let her check to make sure mine was OK
in spite of all the treats I was getting.
Whew - I was fine! 120/80 ~ perfect.
Bring on those table scraps!

We're both having trouble with the fact that we can't spend as much time together doing things we know Erin would like. During the summer we used to go down to the lakefront, and while we walked the path and looked at the water we thought about a lot of important stuff, and Mama would stop and write those things down in her journal. I was always consulted.

That was a very special day for us.

The weather today is really chilly, which reminds me that winter is coming soon. On weekdays, we often walked the trails in the woods when no one else was there. It was so pretty and quiet without the crowds that fill the paths on the weekends. Mama and I stopped and talked about Erin a lot while we were out among those trees. We felt really close to God out there too. Now, our time to do that will be limited and it bothers us.

We'd often walk through the woods and over to Bronswood and spend time under Erin's pine tree. We felt a sense of peace while sitting in the snow and breathing deeply in the crisp air. Now we can only go on the weekends, and that's hard too.

But, Mama says she is really happy about her decision to go to work. Even though she can't be "in her head" with Erin in the same way, she feels as though Erin's spirit is in her heart as she walks into the Cancer Center and interacts with everyone. On her most-difficult days, and even when she has come home in tears a couple of times because she's felt overwhelmed, she knows this is what she wants to do. Every single day when we all sit together and talk about her day, or when the three of us go for our nightly walk, she says, I LOVE THE PATIENTS. This is what I need to do. This is where I want to be.

So yes, there have been changes ~ a lot over the past twelve months. Erin was still in college a year ago at this time... and now look where we all are. Each of us is adjusting ~ finding our way. Mama really misses spending time with her friends, and she's trying to find more time to write. There are so many thoughts swimming in her head that she wants to write about, but when she gets home she is too tired to put together sentences that make much sense. Instead, she tells me all about them and jots down notes, and then composes at a later time, usually on the weekends. That may change as she gets more accustomed to things at work.

These days, Papa usually gets home before she does, and he lets me out the front door so I can run to the end of the driveway and look down the street to see if her car is coming yet.

Then, he calls me back up to the porch, and on nice days he pours a glass of wine and we wait together for her on the front steps. She's always so happy to see me that she doesn't notice when I take a couple of sips.

So, it's all good. We're taking things a day at a time, and we're all learning how to do it together. Papa has even been cooking dinner most of the time, which makes Mama really happy. I think he's doing a great job ~ those table scraps are delicious!

I do have a confession to make though.
Mama's friend Margaret put an idea in my head,
and I have to admit that I got a little crazy
one day when she was at work.

Damn! Now they hide the Chivas
and take the keys to the Porsche! 
Crank up your volume
and Have some Fun with me!


  1. I enjoyed this entry SO much - well done! Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? If not, you definitely must read because this post was like reading that book. :)

  2. Such a beautiful post~you have captured the dog's perspective very well ( I guess--who really knows?!). I wish you could take Keenan with you to work.


  3. um, i love your blog, potts, you know i do.

    but i think keenan needs his own, too.


  4. SO FUNNY!!! I told ya so!!! Gotta watch those quiet ones...I am sure you have captured Keenan thoughts perfectly!!! Party at Keenan's! BYOB!!! xxoo
    P.S. Are you wearing cozy pants?!?!?

  5. This was so awesome, Mrs. Potts!! Loved it :)


  6. Wow, Keenan's got some serious intuition there! I loved this post, he's quite something.

    ..Also, I just watched the latest episode of One Tree Hill and one of the girls said something that is perfectly applicable for you. I actually immediately thought of you when she said it, no joke.

    "Some people are clearly just angels sent down to earth to take care of the rest of us"

    She was applying this to her sister, but I think in most ways Erin could have applied it to you, and these new patients will definitely apply it to you. And certainly Keenan applies it to you--or maybe the other way around on that one ;)

    Have fun on the job,

  7. Dear Keenan,

    If you can type this blog you can also start sending text messages. Since you already have a computer, ask for a cell phone for your next birthday and you can text mom and dad at work. You could really make them nervous when you text them that your bladder is full. Won't that be fun!

    Your friend,

  8. Keenan! You are a chip off the old block! Each of you are such good writers and entertaining, too. My favorite photo is of you curled up w/ Erin's socks, but I love the smile on Erin when she is checking out your BP. She would have made an extraordinary nurse, but in a way she continues to nurse/care for her family and friends in amazing ways. Rock on, Keenan!

  9. Nice going Martha ~ Keenan just read this and there'll be no living with him now! He's telling me he "really should have a phone, in case of an emergency". This "emergency" could be that the regular mail carrier has the day off and he didn't get his Milkbone treat in the mailbox.

    I've caught him practicing on mine several times now. He's actually quite good. If we cave in and indulge him, I'll be sure to give him your number :) The key to our back door will be in the mail shortly!

  10. I loved this posting - thank you, Keenan, for telling us how it REALLY is at your house. Keep writing - it will help your mama while she's so busy learning new things, and it will help you, too. It's just wonderful that your mama heard her calling, and answered. She is going to be a blessing to so many people, and from what I have learned of Erin, she is smiling about what she has inspired. Big Golden hugs to you, Keenan!

  11. Oh Keenan, this is such a beautiful post! You are a very smart and handsome fella and I'm amazed how well you can type! Do you use a special keyboard for your big paws? I'd love to teach my golden, Wrigley to do the same. Perhaps you can offer him a few pointers. You have so much love for your momma and your family and it's quite obvious you already know your purpose in this lifetime. You are a healer and a connector of hearts (on this earth and beyond) but you already know that. LOVE to you big guy!!!