28 September 2012

Say My Name, Say My Name

Hello. My name is Megan Coakley. Megan Aileen Coakley, to be exact. This is the name my parents gave me when I was born, and it is the name I use to this day. It is on all my legal documents. It is who I am.

The Captain has a different last name. When we married, I did not change my name to his, because I am Megan Coakley. However, society does not make it easy for one to maintain their "maiden" name. When my children were born, I had to register under both my name and the Captain's, so the hospital would allow me to bring home the human beings I had grown in my uterus. Frankly, I fed and housed them for nine months, so if possession is nine-tenths of the law shouldn't the Captain have had to change his name to claim them?

When the children started school I began using the Captain's name on school forms and to make it easier for their friends. If Three's last name is Captainsboy, it's hard to ask a child to remember to call me Ms. Coakley. So, pretty much everyone in town knows me as Mrs. Captain. I don't mind. I feel like an actress playing a role. And, when my book is published, it will put some distance between the boys and my smut. All good.

I draw the line when it comes to legal documents. I am not now, nor have I ever been, Mrs. Captain. Our bank checks list both our names and if the Captain and I own something jointly, other than the children, I like my half to belong to Megan A. Coakley. That is why, when we refinanced our home a few years ago, I lost my shit when they put Megan A. Mrs. Captain on  all the documents. When I pointed out that Mrs. Captain wasn't technically my name they made me sign every freaking piece of paper with both names. If you have ever purchased a mortgage you know how many times one has to initial and sign by the damn X's. And I don't even have a good "Mrs. Captain" signature. It doesn't flow easily from my hand like "Megan A. Coakley." I was pissed beyond reason when I left that office.

The Captain was sympathetic to a degree, then he told me I should let it go because in the end it was about saving our money, right? When I narrowed my eyes to incinerate him with my gaze he blamed his cousin, who sold us the mortgage and prepped all the paperwork. Fine. After all, the cousin had probably never heard of a woman who kept her name, it being a fairly new concept in the fucking 21st century.

It is now time to refinance again. The rates are low, our credit score is outstanding, and we bleed money on a regular basis (damn you kids, and your need for food, clothing, and healthcare!). Once again, the cousin is preparing the paperwork so when the Captain texted me to tell me he had electronically signed the first wave of papers, I had only one question:

"Is my name correct???"


"Are you kidding?" (I thought he might be pulling my leg, because surely he couldn't forget how angry I was three years ago.)

"Nope. All I did was click, click, click and didn't even look until you just said something."

To which my delicate response was:


Forty-nine minutes later he wrote to tell me the cousin had corrected all the documents. It probably took forty-five of those minutes to explain that yes, even after twenty-two years of marriage and five children I have yet to completely abandon my identity.

I'm Megan Coakley, dammit. Remember my name.

19 September 2012

No Tears

We had a house full of people last weekend. Well, we currently have twelve full-time residents, so the house was full of extra people, all of whom had come to visit Mom. I've mentioned that her pulmonary fibrosis has progressed and I guess that news alarmed enough of our relatives that they flocked to see her. Pappou returned, Mom's brother came up from Florida, his son flew in from California, and her sister and niece traveled from Long Island. Remaining relatives from New Jersey also participated in Grand Visitation Day/Five's Birthday Party, which had been planned prior to the mass influx because, you know, life goes on and kids get upset if you forget to honor the day they graced the world with their presence.

Every day now is busy from the minute I wake up until I collapse in bed eighteen hours later. A lot of time is spent planning which drives me nuts after a while because I just want to do things. But it's all necessary because we're transitioning Mom to hospice palliative care, which means we're test-driving home health aides to find the right one who will come in for ninety minutes a day and make lunch and help with personal care, mostly to give my sister Erin a break.

Erin is Mom's primary caregiver. I hesitate to say Mom would be dead if she weren't here, but I can confidently assert she'd look a helluva lot worse. Erin is an A to Z personal assistant--she sets up medication delivery systems and coordinates outfits. I've already informed my mother she'll be in sweatpants and t-shirts when Erin leaves for a much needed break to see her family in Arizona.  I've lived too long with boys--choosing complementary shoes and jewelry are no longer in my skill set.

These details make it seem like Mom is bedridden, and she's not. Her mobility is dramatically decreased because exertion makes her heart work too hard to compensate for her damaged lungs. So our goal is to limit her exertion. She sits most of the day, but she's still Mom--involved, social, caring, fun. She had a great time last weekend, although it was very difficult for her to say good-bye to my cousin because she may never see him again. It was wrenching to watch.

Managing other people's emotions is taxing. Everyone who loves my mother is understandably upset. My mother-in-law keeps encouraging me to share my feelings, and the Captain has reminded me I don't have to be stoical. I know they care about me, and maybe they think I'm in denial. But I know how all this ends. But until it does, life continues, full of school and sports and homework and laundry and company and dinner and Mom, who is alive right now. I get to spend every day with her, and that's a gift.

I'll cry later.

01 September 2012

All Is Well

I almost started this post with "In the grand scheme of things, all is well." But I think the opposite is true. In the small particulars, all is well. The grand scheme seems a bit fucked up right now.

One started college today. Due to miscalculations, a sleepy child, and a dog who refused to stop peeing on every damn blade of grass, he was four minutes late to his first class. However, he made me feel better when he said at least ten people got there after him.

Despite his late registration, we managed to cobble together three classes for the semester, with a manageable schedule to boot! He has two classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one on Saturday morning. I drive him, and while he is learning I retreat to the library to work, which at this point means revise. He has about 90 minutes between his classes, so today we familiarized ourselves with the cafeteria, and where he could sit and work if he wanted. He seems most excited about the fact that his brothers will attend school every day while he only has a three day commitment each week. There will be hurdles along the way, but just for today, all is well.

Two had his (If I let these suckers grow in all the way, I still won't be old enough to have acquired any) wisdom teeth removed. He feels well enough today to have had an emotional discussion about my plans for the upcoming school year and how they affect him. We had a falling out this summer because he betrayed my trust in him, and I have explained that it will take an indeterminate amount of time for me to recover. But we're talking, and I'm trying to listen with an open mind and heart and not just issue edicts out of spite. Just for today, all is well.

My mother is still here with us. She suffered a significant decline while we were in Yellowstone, and will never fully recover her previous mobility. Pulmonary fibrosis sucks. I'm a little nauseous about the series of discussions I must now have with my stepfather about her care, because she needs more than he can provide down there in Florida. I anticipate resistance, and more conversation than I am able to muster the energy for at the moment. But just for today, she's here-on the planet and in our home-so all is well.

I have to admit that the stress is affecting me. I can feel my heart racing, and my brain won't stop trying to process the issues that are bothering me. It's making for some really boring dreams. The good news is that I'm losing weight, and by the end of the semester I'm going to have fantastic legs! The Captain reminded me to look for the silver lining, so just for today, all is well.

Now I'm going to bed so I can dream about driving around the college parking lot in an endless loop so I can make it home in time to put a fence up in my neighbor's yard before I fight with my stepfather. But I will be lying next to the Captain while I slumber, in a house bursting with people who I love. Just for today, all is well.