This blog was formerly dedicated in 2009 to my Dad who died of Alzheimer's in 2013. It's been three years now...and I find myself missing blogging...so I am re-inventing my blog... because, after all, life is about moving through, and going forward...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Feels Strange...

I feel weird coming to Mystical Journeys and not writing about Dad…maybe I'm trying to move on too quickly…

I kept all the Alzheimer's references, just moved them to the bottom of the blog…not ready to let that go in case it can be a help to someone…

Re-designed the blog…feels very strange…not sure if it feels right….

I miss my Dad.  This will be the first year we won't be visiting him at the nursing home.  We will visit him at the cemetery.  Will take him a Poinsettia…

I have no business being up this late…need to get to bed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Venturing into the Unknown…Facing My Fears...

I am still contemplating what I should do with my blog…

The title of my blog, Mystical Journeys, was a name I conjured up long before my blog came into fruition.  I always wanted to have a blog, to explore my creativity and post my work….When I finally figured out how to create one, of course Mystical Journeys had to be the title….

As fate would have it, the day after creating my blog, I awoke early in the morning and found my Dad curled up in a fetal position on his living room floor by the front door.  I didn't know if he fell or was ill because he really could not communicate…he was ice cold, gray in color and mumbling about "the enemy striking at dawn"…

I called 411 and then called my brother to follow us to the ER and the rest is history…Dad never returned home.  We learned he could not be left alone, which is what our Mother had been telling us for some time…

I think I want to go back to my original dream for this blog…

And it comes at a serendipitous opportunity….I was talking with a childhood girlfriend last week…(we have known one another since the age of 10) and she shared a link of a mutual girlfriend from High School.  She and I were in Art classes together.  The link was a website where she displays/sells her art.

I checked out the link and then wrote my artist girlfriend telling her how much I enjoyed her work.  She wrote back and encouraged me to join…

One of my life long, creative, dreams has been to have a one woman show of my paintings and to write and sell a book.  Unfortunately, I allowed my negative voices/ self defeating demons to sabotage much of my progress.  My starting and stopping were the most consistent efforts toward my painting.  I did take a couple years of lessons after we moved here…but again, I allowed my self criticism to stop me from pursuing my dreams…

One thing I have learned in my life, and often preach to others; is the fact we are so much stronger than we think we are.  We also are so much more capable than we think we are.  I learned this when I was a single Mom raising my two daughters…

I suppose I challenged and pushed myself more back then because I was alone and totally responsible for the welfare of my children and myself, so I HAD to go beyond my comfort zone.  Many a night I sat wrapped in the safety of my thick, cozy "security" blanket, huddled over a hot cup of tea….my "cure all" for almost everything scary.

I even had a few panic attacks…but I forged ahead and did what I had to do…often "faking it until I made it".

Now, I am retired and married.  I think it is safe to say I am in a comfortable rut.  I certainly have TONS of time on my hands…(with the exception of it being the Christmas holiday season…)

I really want to explore this opportunity...  It is a daily painting website, although you don't have to paint every single day….but each submitted/uploaded painting is displayed on the home page so there would be much more exposure than posting my work on a blog….Although several of the artists also have a blog to show their process, explain techniques, give background or whatever….so I was thinking I could use Mystical Journeys for that purpose…

First, I must open a Pay Pal Account.  Never did that before, but it doesn't sound too difficult.  Then if I want my blog included, I must include it when I register to join the website.

I have always painted large paintings….but in doing larger paintings it is much more of an investment of time and money... and loss, if the paintings do not sell.  Most of the paintings done on the website are smaller, like 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, 6x6, 8x8, 12x12 etc….some larger ones 9x12….but it made me see a possibility of hope where I could accomplish the daily painting challenge by spending less time painting smaller art work.

But….could I take my undisciplined self and become disciplined?  I used to post to my blog every day…so it is possible…but that was four years ago…

Can you hear the excuses with all the buts????

It sure sounds like I am spending more time than I should convincing myself…What I should do is stop using the "should's" and do like Nike says to do…and JUST DO IT!

I announced on my other blog I was going to lose 20 pounds by the age of 65…and here I am 66 and still packing those 20 pounds….

I think this is exactly why I have not been posting much on either of my blogs.  I have to be honest when I post.  I can't kid myself.  I can't insult those who read my blog.  I have to speak from the heart.  I have to be vulnerable and speak my truth.  I have to be real.

The reason is -- I am disappointed in myself.  For the past four years I was my Father's Advocate and chronicled his Alzheimer's on my blog.  I had a purpose… Since my Dad's passing, I no longer feel I have an important purpose.  I am living 250 miles from my family, locked in a reverse mortgage, an uncooperative housing market, a challenging economy….with the added obstacle of my husband not wanting to move back to California….

When I was single, I had to depend on myself. I had to work and the buck stopped upon arrival with me.  Ironically, I felt stronger.  I got up early, got the girls to school, worked all day, grocery shopped at night, ran errands on the weekends or my lunch hour; cleaned and kept my house clean, cooked, and even did my own yard work.  I was so disciplined and organized. I had to…I had no choice.

That is one downside to retirement…if you don't keep a schedule…you turn into Scarlet O'Hara and "think about it tomorrow" and then tomorrow, keeps turning into tomorrow.  I NEED SOME DISCIPLINE desperately!

Who knows….if I challenged myself….did the work….immersed myself in creativity….became productive…kept at it….made up my mind, giving up, was not an option….and stayed at it, learning, improving, growing, until I made some comfortable money...  Maybe enough money to help with the trips to California….and who knows….wouldn't it be great if I could make enough to get a little place in CA so I could have the option to stay longer….and still have our home in Nevada…Oh that sounds so gooooooood…..

I have a huge collection of ideas and art tutorials on my Pinterest boards…so some where in the back of my subconscious, I have been preparing myself for this…

I have an art box where I store ideas or pictures which inspire me and I have written notes on those pictures with ideas….

The only way out of unhappiness or stagnancy is the inertia of ACTION.  I have to push away from my fears, tell my negative voices to SHUT THE HELL UP, and tell myself I CAN DO THIS.  Then, after I achieve my goal… I get to be proud of myself and reap the rewards of my efforts!

Nothing ventured….nothing gained….

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Alzheimer's Awareness Week During the World Series....Wear the Bow Tie!




Alzheimer’s Association bow tie to be featured during World Series
FOX Sports baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal will be wearing an Alzheimer’s Association bow tie during Game 6 of the 2013 World Series on Wednesday night, Oct. 30, to help raise Alzheimer’s awareness. Rosenthal also wore an Association bow tie during last year’s World Series.

Three cheers for Ken Rosenthal for for raising awareness for Alzheimer's this week.





Monday, October 28, 2013

Getting Ready for the Alzheimer's Walk in Dad's Honor...

This coming Thursday I leave for California.  Our family is walking in the Alzheimer's Walk in Huntington Beach, CA on Saturday November 3, 2013.  

My preparation?  Walking my dog once or twice a day...There is a 2 mile and a 4 mile walk, but I can do 4 miles easy. (I hope).  We'll all be walking and talking, pushing the nephews and grand sons in strollers and the time will fly by.

Mom is not sure if she can find her fold up camping chair so she can sit on the side of the road and cheer us on...depends on the weather.  I know she wants to be with us, but there is no way she could walk it.  If we can get our hands on a wheel chair, we could push her...

My grand son turned 9 years old yesterday.  He was THRILLED he passed the height test so he could ride the bumper cards at the fun place he chose to go for his celebration.  I am looking forward to seeing him, along with the 11 year old and the newest grand son who is coming up on 7 months. He's a turbo-crawler and is pulling himself up into a standing position at the couch and then holding on with one hand, attemping to take a step.  He so wants to walk and run like his big brothers...

My youngest daughter is pregnant again and we were all surprised to learn she is having a GIRL!  My first grand daughter.  Her 3 year old son Jacob is getting more excited about being a big brother to a baby sister. My daughter is due in April, 2014.  This pink bundle will make my fifth grand child!!

I've been lying low and taking it easy this month and it feels good.  Since the weather has cooled off I have been re-focusing on de-cluttering.  I really want to clean out our garage so I can have the option to park my car in there if I want to.

We celebrated our 4 year Adoption Day for our rescue dog Izzy.  I gave her a bath, took her for some walks, got her some chew treats, a new toothbrush, a jacket and a bag of Greenies.  She's a happy girl.

We also celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by going to a movie (Captain Philips) and to see Big Elvis. For years Big Elvis has been at Bill's Gamblin' Hall but due to their renovations, moved to Harrah's and does three shows a day, four days a week.  The FREE shows are 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  His show at the Piano Bar inside Harrah's is dark on Wednesday and the weekends.
He really sounds like Elvis, but does the entire show sitting in his throne and occasionally stands up to do a short shimmy or Elvis move.... He really sounds like Elvis and puts on a great show.  We had a really good time.  If you come to Vegas, you should check it out.  He has won first place in yearly Elvis Impersonation Contests.

We also went to the MOB MUSEUM in downtown Vegas.  It is housed in the old Federal Building where the Mafia trials were held.  It is three stories of memorabilia and interactive displays and videos.  We spent over three hours in there.  We went to celebrate my husband's birthday.  We both really enjoyed it.  We get a Local discount and got in for $10 each.  Once you pay the entry fee, you get a band on your wrist and can park there all day as long as the museum is open and go in and out in case you get hungry and want to go downtown and get some lunch.  Another Vegas attraction worth a visit...

I will post pictures of the walk upon my return.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Visiting Dad at Riverside National Cemetery...

Today my youngest brother E______ went by Riverside National Cemetery and visited Dad's niche.
The plaque was on and it turned out beautiful.

I had called yesterday to see if it had been placed.  Unfortunately their computers were down so I could not confirm it...  One of the men told me he had been out to the area where Dad was interred and told me he was pretty sure it had been placed.

My brother took pictures and sent them to all of us via email.  I will post them to share with you.  You can see what a peaceful resting place it is...

 Dad's wall

Dad's area with bench to sit

Leaving Dad's columbarium

It was a beautiful day...all was peaceful and quiet...My brother spent some time reflecting and visiting.  He felt like Dad was smiling down upon him.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mom Brought Donuts....

Mom went back to the nursing home today...she brought a huge box of donuts and personally took them around, visiting everyone who cared for Dad...

The superintendent of the facility was there and thanked Mom again for her written thank you note for the beautiful flowers they sent for Dad's funeral.  She gave him a picture of the flowers so he could post it.  She also shared pictures from Dad's funeral with everyone.

Everyone was so grateful for the pictures and commented how beautiful it was.  Mom visited with Doctor-Doctor, Pickles, the Skin Angel, the Head of Nursing, and all of them wanted to know how we are were doing.  Doctor-Doctor mentioned my brother E_____ had come in to extend his thanks for the excellent care Dad received there. She and the others were quite touched he made the effort to come in.

Mom asked the Superintendent for some business cards.  Several people in her Support Group had requested cards as well as Mom's physician.  He was very impressed we felt so positive and wished to pass along referrals to others.  We all agreed how happy we are with the care provided to Dad with such genuine compassion and love.

I know it was not easy for Mom to return to the nursing home, especially by herself, but I am so proud of her and I know how welcomed she must have felt by everyone.  We really feel they are all an extension of our family.  We have shared such an intimate experience together...

I still miss Dad.  I know I always will.  Some days I feel raw and very emotional and other days I can think positive, happy thoughts of Dad, eternally youthful, pain free and full of love and joy.  I like to think of him running along a beach with his favorite dog, Brutus, running along side of him...as fast as his stubby legs can carry him.

I know it made an easier transition for Mom, in that Dad had been at the nursing home these last four years instead of being at home with Mom.  The day I left her house to return to CA, after picking up Dad's remains...she got a phone call from a good friend.  The previous week Mom and her girlfriend and her husband shared lunch at a church function.  Her girlfriend called to tell Mom he had died.  I know Mom will be a comfort to her, but despite my Mother's strength and faith, it has to be very difficult going to so many funerals...

The day of Dad's funeral, as we were leaving, I got a call on my cell from my dear girlfriend I used to co-write poetry with, had suddenly died.  She and I had been on the phone long hours the week before as she did not have a computer and I was helping her by giving her phone numbers of places to check out in San Francisco as her daughter's husband had just gotten a job there.  We were laughing and sharing and I told her I wanted to come visit her before they all moved...

Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to visit.  Her daughter said they are having her cremated and will keep her remains with them during the moving process and after they are settled, plan on having a Memorial service in Lake Tahoe, which is where she lived so many years and raised her daughter.  My husband and I would love to drive up for it...

Our neighbor across the street from us, discovered he had a tumor in his brain and his lung three months ago.  He just died Friday, September 13, 2013.  We attended his funeral September 16th.

My daughter's Mother in Law has terminal cancer and has been very ill.  Another neighbor down our street just found out she has inoperable cancer on her rib cage and clavicle.  She is stage four and very sick...

I realize at our age, unfortunately, we hear about and experience more serious illness and death, especially living in a Senior Community.... It is never easy to accept, but it is a part of life's process coming to a full circle.  We are so thankful to learn our youngest daughter, who just got married July 20th of this year, is pregnant.  She is due in April.  My brother B____'s daughter in Ohio is also pregnant and due this December.  It is God's gift to our family... and we are grateful.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 6, 2013....A Day We Will Remember Forever.


Dad circa 1943


My husband and I arrived around 11:30am at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside.  I completed the inscription request for Dad's Monument Plaque.   My husband and I had time to drive over to the Columbarium where my Dad's final resting place will be.  It is a double wide u shaped area, very nicely landscaped with stone benches with blue tile.

The day was muggy and hot with a few rain drops here and there, which quickly dried up after they fell. We met everyone at Staging Area One where we lined up to caravan to the covered area for the funeral.  Our official, Nathan, lead us in the procession to a beautiful grassy area up on a bluff, surrounded by large, thick pine trees.

Two Marines took at the beginning of the walk way and saluted as Mom and I carried the urn and Dad's flag.  I had brought a small picture of Dad and  it was placed beside his urn on a platform for the service.  The nursing home where Dad lived had sent the beautiful floral arrangement in the pictures.

Nathan explained the ceremony would begin with the Marines unfolding and unfurling the flag over Dad's urn, at which time the seven Marines would each fire three rounds each making a 21 Gun Salute, followed by the playing of Taps, by another Marine.  He said it was proper for those who had not been in the Military to put our hands over our hearts and those who had been in the Military would salute. We had ten Marines on deck in their Dress Blues.

He told us after Taps was played, a Marine would present the re-folded flag to Mom along with the spent casings from the 21 gun salute.  We all thought it was so ironic that Mom and Dad have 12 Grand Children, 5 Great Grand Children and 4 sons, which totals 21.  Each of them will get one of the casings.




The two Marines first took Dad's flag and each saluted it. One of those cool, respectful salutes in slow motion.  It really got me.  The two Marines unfolded the flag and then completely unfurled it and held it over Dad's remains during the 21 Gun Salute and Taps.  After Taps, they re-folded the flag, each saluted in slow motion again and then presented the flag and casings to Mom.

The pictures below are the Marines starting to unfold the flag...



Despite knowing the gun salute would begin, I became startled when the firing started and stopped taking pictures....the pictures below were taken by my sister.

The 21 Gun Salute with the lone Marine on the hill who played Taps.

When Taps started, I could hear my Mom softly crying.  I saw my brother out of the corner of my eye go to Mom's side to comfort her.  I was already crying and struggling to keep my composure... I dared not look at any of my family because I could hear them crying too.  I knew I was going to speak after they presented everything to Mom and I was determined to do that for Dad and my family...

While Taps was being played....

Re-folding of Dad's flag...



Presentation of the flag and gun casings to Mom....


I had planned to speak for two minutes... I had it written down on three note cards.  My voice began to quiver at the end of the first card and as I started in on the second, my sister Holly rushed up to my side and stood with me so I could finish...

Afterward, my brother's all hugged me and told me they would not be able to say anything after my words, because they all felt I covered everything.  Everyone was pleased with what I had said.

Nathan took a few minutes and told us how the Marines saved his life during battle so he was so honored to be present during Dad's funeral.  We all were very touched by the things he spoke of and the respect he paid to our Dad.  We all agreed how honored we all feel having Dad's final resting place in such a hallowed location.

My daughters and grand sons had written letters so those went with Nathan, who took possession of Dad's urn and his picture.  He would place all of it in the niche in the Columbarium later on that day and we would be able to visit Dad's final resting place after 4pm.  He told us he would personally see the flowers were watered the next few days.

We all stood around hugging and noticed what a nice cool breeze had come up and was gently refreshing all of us....we all knew it was a gift from Dad. 

I shared the location of Dad's niche with everyone and asked if anyone wanted to see it.  Everyone decided they would wait until the final plaque is placed in 6-8 weeks and then we will go visit.  We agreed whomever is the first to visit would take a picture for everyone.

My son in law took video of the service on my brother's phone, so hopefully, we can figure out how to get it on a CD for everyone.  My brother S_____ is working on it.




I will be taking a break from blogging for a bit...I planned on converting what I have shared about Dad into a book and am looking into how to accomplish it.  If anyone has any suggestions, or has done so with their blog, I would greatly appreciate any information you could pass along to me.  I plan on doing the book for our family.

I want to give some thought as to how to continue my blog because we were so desperate for information when Dad was diagnosed and we remember what a nightmare it was.  If I can help just one family with my blog, I will be blessed.

I have acquired a lot of valuable information and don't want to just file it all away in a box somewhere. In my Father's honor, I would like to play it forward and share the information we have learned along the way...

God Bless each and every one of you who have ever been touched by this disease, be it from a family member or friend.  I send my eternal love and gratitude to all of you who have hugged me and comforted me with your words of support over the past four and a half years during our journey with my Father.

Most of you I have never met, but your warmth, concern, sincerity and caring words always came through and scooped me up as if you were, making me feel so very comforted.  On behalf of myself and my family, I want to say thank you all so very much from the bottom of my heart.... 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Productive, Busy, Family Week... Dad's Final Plans Made.

I drove to California Wednesday, August 21st so Mom and I could pick up Dad's belongings from the nursing home.  When we arrived we were surrounded by tearful staff members sharing condolences and giving us warm, loving hugs.  Mom and I were there over two hours.  We were so touched by their outpouring of genuine love and loss for Dad.

Another testament to the quality of this nursing home, none of Dad's possession were missing.  I just cannot express how very blessed we were when I found this particular nursing home.  I think of it so highly, if I would ever need a nursing home, I would want to go there!

Thursday Mom and I filled out the pre-arranged paperwork for Dad's cremation with Neptune Society and took the forms in Friday morning.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to make final arrangements prior to your loved one's death...it made the whole process just fall into place.

Friday night, all the siblings, Mom and I met at my brother K_____'s home for a BBQ.  We all agreed we felt we were in a mental fog and knew some good food and laughter would clear our minds...

After a delicious meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, cabbage salad, baked beans and my sister's yummy chocolate eclair cake for dessert; we sat around and talked.  K's daughter, presented Mom with a framed collage she made from some of the family pictures of Mom and Dad before and after their wedding.  She also included pictures of us as a family, when we were all small and all living in the family home, Brutus - Dad's precious dog, Dad in his Magician's top hat and cape....lots of memories and conversations were sparked from those wonderful photos...

My brother E___ had interviewed Dad and Mom back in 2001 when he was doing some family genealogy.  He found the tape and brought it over along with his tape deck so we all could hear it.

My brother put the tape in and everyone gathered in the family room, lying on the floor, sitting on chairs and couches, some of us leaning against one another. As he pushed play, I noticed my brother S___ was lying on his back on the floor with his arms folded behind his head. He had a smile on his face and his eyes closed.  Looking around the room I felt "home-cozy", so comfortable and full of peace being with my family, sharing this moment in time together.

It was good to hear Dad's voice when it was strong and full.  As I heard him speak, I remembered a speech pattern he used to have before going into the nursing home.  He would get so involved in telling a story, his mouth would fill with too much saliva, so he would have to swallow, but in doing so, he kind of make a slight slurp sound as he swallowed as he continued on with his story.  I enjoyed hearing it again...

We all learned something new about Dad, and would turn off the tape to discuss it, or laugh at something, or rewind and listen again because we were all laughing or commenting to something he had said...

Dad told of being held back a year in school because of a "prank" he played at school...Dad had decided to ditch school, but before he faked being sick (so he would be sent home), he put a smoke bomb and a huge chunk of Limburger cheese up inside the school's duct work.

Dad lived up on a bluff above the school, so after he arrived home, he positioned himself at the big window over looking the valley below and watched the smoke bellowing out of the school as teachers and students alike, ran from the school building holding their noses.... Yep, he got in big trouble for that stunt!

My grand father, his Dad, was away a lot, traveling.  Grandpa and my Uncle were inventors.  Dad and his sisters were cared for during the day by the family help.  Grandpa frequently ordered large blocks of Limburger cheese to put on crackers and some thick syrup goop for his pancakes called "sorghum molasses."

Dad brought up the time when he played with matches behind a stuffed arm chair and set himself on fire when he was three years old.  His Mother and the ironing lady put out the flames with a red Oriental rug.  He made sure we all heard that story so we would learn not to play with fire...

It was midnight by the time we finished with Dad's portion of the interview.  We had not had time to listen to Mom's, so we will save it for the next family gathering, this Saturday.

We talked earlier before listening to the tape on what we wanted to do for Dad's service.  We all agreed we wanted the service private...only family...and family would include the staff at the nursing home, as well as the hospice staff, because the quality of care and concern they gave Dad.

I mentioned to the family that the nursing home planned on doing the Alzheimer's Walk November 2, 2013 in Huntington Beach and wanted to know if we would like to join them.  Everyone thought it would be a great way to honor what would have been Dad's 93rd birthday month...  My sister, niece and oldest daughter volunteered to co-ordinate the Walk...

I also shared with everyone, how the Activity's Director at the Nursing home, also wanted to plant a garden in the corner of the courtyard at the nursing home and call it Don's Garden.  Everyone agreed is was a perfect idea and how much Dad would have been so pleased.  When Dad first came to the nursing home, he helped the Activity Director plant window boxes with bright cheery flowers.

We talked of doing a family BBQ at Mom's house, using Dad's BBQ and playing horse shoes...one of Dad's favorite games.  One of the brothers suggested we all wear Bermuda shorts, white tube socks with sandals, Hawaiian shirts and straw hats to salute Dad's unique style of attire at most family outings...and everyone loved that idea!

I was elected to check with Riverside National Cemetery (RNC) to see what was involved so Dad could have a Military Ceremony.  We felt his service during WWII as a US Marine fighting in the Battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands deserved such an honorable final resting place.  We hoped we could have the service in the morning on Saturday, September 7, and then the BBQ that afternoon...

Over the weekend, I discovered RNC does not do services on the weekends, only Monday through Friday,  but first I had to contact head quarters back in St. Louis, Missouri to determine Dad's eligibility by sending his Discharge paperwork.  After obtaining a case number of approval, I could contact RNC and schedule a service.  After I had the date, I could contact the US Marines to schedule an Honors ceremony.

By Monday morning I had emailed Dad's necessary paperwork to St. Louis and secured a case number from RNC.  I was given the date of Friday, September 6, 2013 at 1pm for Dad's Military service.  Dad's remains will be interred in the Columbarium at RNC because Dad did not want to be buried.

I had attempted to schedule the Honors ceremony, but was told I was "too early.  I was instructed to call Thursday morning, which was the day I planned to return to Nevada.

Mom and I picked up Dad's remains on Wednesday, August 28th and brought them back home.  We cannot praise Neptune Society enough for their efficiency, compassion, excellent customer service and the kindness they bestowed on Mom and I when we first brought in the signed pre-arranged paperwork for Dad's cremation and again when we picked up the remains.  We would highly recommend their services.

All the work Mom and I did organizing Dad's paperwork, Mom making pre-arranged plans with Neptune Society (after attending a lecture by Barbara Karnes RN), and organizing all the family photos really made our job so much easier last week.

I helped Mom with some house hold things, one goal was to find Mom a house keeper. Mom, my sister in law and their house cleaner, met to give Mom an estimate to clean her home.  At 86, Mom just can't clean and bend like she used to and she deserves to have someone come in and clean the house for her.  Mom has never had anyone clean besides our family, so this was a big deal for Mom.

I told Mom just as the Alzheimer's Support Group has helped her emotionally and mentally, the cleaning lady would help so much physically and mentally too.  She likes the idea of freeing up her time to read, do cross stitch Christmas Stockings for all the new babies born and on their way, as well as have more time to lunch and do fun things with her friends.

Mom has decided to stay in her Support Group because she feels she would give people hope who are just beginning their journey with their loved ones and Alzheimer's.

My sister in law and brother K____ told Mom they would take her out to Mathis Brothers in Ontario so Mom could select a new couch, love seat, and a couple of comfortable easy chairs.  When my other niece who was living with Mom, got married and moved out, she took her couch with her...so Mom needs some more furniture.

Thursday morning, I called the Marines and scheduled the Honors ceremony for Dad and emailed them Dad's discharge paperwork as well.  I was told we would have three Marines on deck, one to play taps, two to fold and present the flag to Mom.  I asked for full honors which would be a 21 gun salute, but the Marine I spoke with told me I would get a phone call about that, depending on how many Marines would be available...

On my way home, I received a call from a Sargent with the Marines.  I was told there would now be 11 Marines on deck to provide my Father with full honors.  Eight additional Marines will each fire three rounds to honor Dad's service for our country in a 21 Gun Salute.  I could not help it...I burst into tears.  This means everything to our family and this Marine just made my day!!

Mom had told me one of her friends had asked for the gun casings to save for the grand children, so I asked if that would be possible to save them for ours.  He told me he would work it out and present them to Mom along with the American flag.

My husband and I will leave this Thursday and stay over night in Riverside at a friend's home who lives ten minutes from Riverside National Cemetery. I want to arrive an hour early to deliver Dad's urn, the flag, the burial permit and to fill out the monument paperwork.

Dad's plaque will have a Christian Cross, his name, Corporal, USMC, WWII, Date of birth, Date of Death, and the inscription:  Loving Family Man - Semper Fi.

Saturday, September 7th we will all gather at my brother K____ and his wife T____ home, once again generously providing a safe and happy place to reminisce, laugh, eat and enjoy precious time with our family.

My husband and I will spend Friday and Saturday night with my youngest daughter and her new husband in Lake Elsinore and then Sunday with my oldest daughter's family in Beaumont.  We'll return to Nevada on Monday.  I will post pictures of Dad's service upon my return....Hugs, blessings and love to you all...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Newlywed Flashbacks...



This picture of Dad and Mom was taken in Bremerton, WA, August 5, 1945, the day after their wedding in front of the Enetai Inn where his parents and sisters stayed when they drove up for Dad and Mom's wedding.  Mom and Dad are leaning up against Dad's Father's car.  Dad and Mom did not own a car at the time and got around through public transportation.

Talk about a good looking couple...so in love.  They knew one another seven months and their marriage lasted 68 years and two weeks.  Not bad....

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Tribute To a Marine....

Dad, 1943

A dear family friend and fellow Marine, posted this tribute to my Dad on his facebook page yesterday. Our friend Guy had come for dinner at Mom and Dad's house several years ago...  He asked Dad where he served.  When Dad told him he fought in the Battle of Tarawa, Guy stood up from his chair and saluted Dad. After dinner and further discussions and sharing, Dad presented his white belt from Dad's dress blues to Guy, which remains an honored gift displayed in his home to this day.

Here is Guy's tribute:

"An American hero and close family friend passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.  Don H_____ was part of the third wave to land at Betio Atoll in November 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa. 

He and survivors of his landing craft, which had foundered on the sharp coral reef that was exposed by lower than expected tides, dragged a 40-millimeter anti-aircraft gun ashore.  Many Marines were shot by the defending Japanese before they even made it ashore, some drowned under the weight of their gear, but a few, like Don, made it to the relative safety of a sea wall.  He survived four days of grenade attacks, banzai charges, and incessant small arms and artillery fire to advance the equivalent of six football fields before it was all over.  That made him a veteran....  

Coming home, marrying Lynn H____, getting a job, raising his kids, paying his taxes and living another 69 years with the nightmares and scars of war made him a hero.  Farewell, old friend...and Semper Fidelis."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Heavenly Chariot has come...

This morning, at 9am, the Heavenly Chariot came for my Dad and took him to Heaven....

I really have no further words except to thank you all for being so supportive and loving these past four years and one month since Dad went into the nursing home...you all will stay in my heart forever.  I have to pack and get myself to California to be with my Mom, brothers and my sister.

I will write more later...

Thank you so much.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

We Feel it coming...

Today the Hospice CNA called Mom and told her Dad had asked for her.  He told Mom he felt Dad was in pain and may need Morphine, and let her know he was also calling the Hospice nurse.  Dad had refused to eat and coughed when he would try.  He had been on mechanically soft diet, but yesterday, hospice ordered a pureed diet so Dad would not aspirate anything...

Dad still refused to eat and coughed while drinking water or liquids...

Mom called me and went down to see Dad.  When she arrived, the hospice CNA had just got Dad out of the shower and the wound nurse was dressing his cancerous foot.

Dad sat in his wheel chair, slumped over sleeping.  One of the nurses gently rubbed his shoulders and told him Mom was there....Dad lifted up his head, opened his one good eye, looked at Mom and closed his eye again and went back to sleep.  Either he was too tired or forgot whatever it was he wanted to say to her...

Mom stayed awhile to see if Dad would talk with her, but he never did, so she went home.  She told me Dad looked horrible...so much more gaunt and weak than the last time she saw him...

I called the nursing home but they were passing out lunch and asked me to call back.

I had been out all day with a friend.  We had been using my GPS on my phone to find a jewelry lady my friend was going to have fix some broken jewelry for her.  My phone was dead so I had to wait until I got back and could plug my phone into my car charger to call the nursing home.

I called and spoke with the nursing home supervisor and she told me Dad had been having such a difficult time eating and drinking.  Dad had refused dinner and only drank an Ensure.  She told me they called the Hospice nurse to come tomorrow to re-evaluate when I asked about Dad being in pain and did he need stronger pain medication.

I will talk with the hospice nurse in the morning...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Out of Left Field...

Mom went to visit Dad Saturday, August 10th.  She found him all freshly shaved, showered, hair combed and spiffy sitting in his wheel chair.  His Hospice CNA had given him his shower and told Mom Dad was doing pretty good.  He suggested she get Dad some mouthwash since Dad battles anyone and everyone who attempts to brush his teeth.  (Dad would have to be supervised with the mouthwash so he would not drink it or choke when and if he can still gargle...)

"You look really pretty, " Dad told Mom....she thanked him.

Dad mumbled something she could not understand....and asked him to repeat what he said...

"KU KLUX KLAN!!" Dad roared...as if he was dumbfounded Mom did not understand...slumped over and closed his eyes....(Talk about out of left field!)

Mom was so embarrassed and shocked at what Dad said, she pretended she understood and changed the subject....She told the Hospice CNA what Dad said and he was just as perplexed....so who knows where that came from...unless he saw something on TV.

The wound care nurse was busy, so the Hospice CNA had just covered Dad's foot with a bath hand towel so Dad did not have to see it.  Mom asked about the towel and the wound care nurse told Mom she would dress it after Dad had his lunch.

Mom wheeled Dad into the lunch room and found him a table near the window near his usual lunch friends...  She decided she would feed Dad and see how much he was eating.

Dad ate about 95% of his cubed beets (which Dad loves), most of his mashed potatoes and gravy, all of his custard and ice cream and about 25% of his meat loaf and gravy.  Dad reached for his milk, so Mom attempted to hold on to it and give him slow sips, but Dad insisted, grabbing it and growling at Mom, so she relented and let him gulp it down...choking all the way.  Same thing with his coffee.

Mom looked over at the Hospice CNA and he came to Dad and offered Dad some water....same thing...Dad choked on that too.  The choking pretty much exhausted Dad and he told Mom and the CNA he was tired and wanted to take a nap...

Mom wheeled Dad back to his room and then the CNA appeared telling Mom he would get the wound care nurse to dress Dad's foot and he would get Dad ready for bed.

Mom kissed Dad and told him she would see him later... Dad had his eyes closed and did not respond....either he was already asleep or didn't hear her...

Emotionally spent, Mom drove home.  As she pulled into the garage and stepped out of her car, my brother K_______ and his wife pulled in the driveway bearing gifts....they had brought her some chicken pot pies and a big pack of batteries to change her smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.

Company....just in the nick of time...




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's Time to Wait and Pray...

I spoke with the nursing home yesterday to make sure Dad got on the list to have his hair trimmed and his facial hairs removed and mustache trimmed.  Dad has always been meticulous in his grooming.  When his mustache is not trimmed neatly, he continually has his tongue patrolling the edges and I know it bugs him...

While on the phone, his caregiver told me Dad was weighed on Sunday and he has lost 6 pounds this past month.  He now weighs 113.

We discussed Mom and my sister's observations when Dad ate his lunch on their last visit and how it seemed it was such work for Dad to chew his food.  They also commented on his choking while drinking.  The male caregiver agreed and told me he noticed Dad choking too when he drank.

In the later stages of this disease, it is quite common to start having difficulties swallowing.  Patients actually forget how to drink, swallow, eat, they keep their eyes closed, talk less, want to sleep more and  eventually don't want to eat.  We all feel this is where Dad is now.

He asked me if we would like Dad's food ground up for him.  I told him I would email the family and get a vote.  I emailed everyone and all agreed we should try it.

This morning I received my weekly text from the Hospice nurse, sending me pictures of the cancerous growth on his foot (which continues to grow) and Dad's vitals.  97% oxygen, 115/75 blood pressure, resting pulse rate 17, heart rate 89 and temperature 97.4.  No complaints of pain, no grimacing, no moaning, sleepy, appetite this morning 80% in eating his breakfast and weight as of 8-4-13, 113.

I text her back giving her permission to have the Dietitian grind up Dad's food, but we feel if it is not appetizing and tasting good, Dad may refuse to eat it.  I really am not too worried as the Dietitian there is an excellent and creative cook.  We all drool over his food and it always smells and looks delicious.

We all have been talking to one another or to Mom and it seems everyone is at peace with their relationship with Dad.  We all want to make sure everyone is OK because we all know what is coming...It's time to wait and pray....

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Being Grateful For the Time We Have...

Mom and my sister Holly went to visit Dad today.  They arrived to find Dad dressed and slumped over sleeping in his wheelchair...

Dad 8-3-13

His right eye was crusty but his skin looked much better than when Mom saw him last week. He needs a hair cut, a shave, eyebrow/ear and mustache trim but he was dressed nicely with his hair combed (I will call on Tuesday to make sure Dad sees the Barber on Wednesday ).  Dad has been uncooperative with the staff for showering and grooming.  Most of the time he wants to be left alone to sleep. Dad has been so tired and weak.  We are so grateful to see him dressed and not curled up in a fetal position in his bed.  He is very thin and gaunt as you can see.  

Dad kept his eyes closed and appeared very sleepy.  Mom and Holly attempted to share family news and visit, but Dad was not up to conversation.  He offered a faint "yes" or "no" but not much more.

They wheeled him outside on the front patio to enjoy the sun on his back.  He loves being outside and in the warmth of the sun but seemed to dose off most of the time sitting outside with them.  After about 15 minutes, he wanted to go inside, which was just about time for lunch. 

Holly wheeled Dad back to the lunch room, but had to park him to the side of the table rather than up to the table due to his cancerous growth on his foot.   Dad sat like he is in the picture above in between bites when Mom fed him.  Mom and Holly admired Dad's delicious smelling lunch of Chinese chicken with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, hard Chinese crispy noodles, celery on a bed of rice, bread and butter, a banana, ice cream, milk and coffee. They both noticed Dad's chewing was slower as if he barely had the energy to eat.  He ate most of the chicken, ice cream of course, some of the banana and a bite or two of his bread.  He coughed and choked as he drank his milk and coffee through a straw.

Mom asked his caregiver to please make sure and offer Dad water to drink because Dad will not ask for it himself...but we are starting to see the coughing and choking may be another sign of the ladder stages of Alzheimer's, when he will forget or become too weak to eat or swallow. Drinking and coordinating swallowing while drinking is a common, every day occurrence we take for granted, yet is becoming an  exhausting ordeal for Dad.

My sister had a very difficult time, crying softly.  We all have shared how emotionally draining and sad our visits with Dad are now.  Mom is the pillar of strength for all of us.  We all are stronger when we gather together.

Both Mom and my sister apologized in their emails to us for the depressing report of their visit; but we all have noticed how Dad is fading away.  He gets weaker each time we see him.

Dad's Hospice CNA cares so much for Dad.  He is the one we all hugged on Father's Day when he told us he saves Dad for the weekend after a difficult week because Dad is such a joy and such a sweet gentleman.

In talking with Mom, the Hospice CNA was so relieved our family is all on the same page as far as not forcing food on Dad when he no longer wants to eat.  Mom shared how Barbara Karnes has helped her and our family deal with the ravages of this disease and prepare for the final stages of it...

He told her how good it was to hear because so many families force feed out of ignorance or guilt and don't seek out help or educate themselves for an easier transition for themselves and the loved one...

He told Mom he was amazed how Dad has all the cancers Dad has and never complains of any pain. He assured Mom Hospice will never allow Dad to feel any pain.  We also know the nursing home keeps a protective eye on Dad as well.

We all feel Dad is shutting down and cling to any positives we can share at this point....  We all know time is of the essence to take the time we need with Dad because we doubt he will make it to his 93rd birthday in November.

Tomorrow Mom and Dad will be married sixty-eight years...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dental Hygiene and Dementia...

I read an article yesterday in our daily newspaper, The Las Vegas Review-Journal by Kristen Hallam.  In the article, Hallam states British researchers in London have determined poor dental hygiene is being linked to Alzheimer's.

A bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis were found in four out of ten samples of brain tissue taken from Alzheimer's  patients, while no signs of the disease were found in brains of ten other people of similar age who did not have Alzheimer's; according to their article in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The results supported the findings of the the bacteria in the mouth enters the bloodstream through chewing or having a tooth removed and travels to other parts of the body, including the brain. After long periods of time, the build up is believed to contribute to the cause of Alzheimer's, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

The obvious goal is to improve on one's dental hygiene and to prevent the build up of bacteria causing gum disease.  Alzheimer's affect the elderly, but some studies show earlier onset of the disease on younger people in their fifties.

"The World Health Organization predicted dementia cases would triple to 115 million in 2050 from 36 million worldwide in 2010."

********

My Dad should have had his teeth cleaned every 3 or 4 months because of the unusually heavy tartar his body produced in his mouth.  I too inherited this heavy tartar, but have my teeth cleaned regularly every six months and am phobic about flossing and brushing my teeth with my trusty Phillips sonicare electric toothbrush.

Dad always used a regular toothbrush and Close Up Cinnamon flavored toothpaste.  I used to work in a dental office as an assistant and oral health consultant.  I urged Dad to floss and bought him floss and discussed the importance of new toothbrushes and electric teeth brushes.  Dad always wanted to things "old school" and "natural" so he would occasionally use baking soda and water.

I had read about the dental hygiene factor before and remember thinking of Dad at that particular time....

At this point, it is too late for my Dad...but those of you going through the early signs of dementia with a loved one, may take extra measures to insure their dental hygiene.  Personally, I think everyone could benefit from better dental hygiene, but that is just my opinion.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We Can Run but We Cannot Hide...

This morning I got my weekly report from the Hospice nurse, complete with gross photos of Dad's cancerous foot growth and his vitals from bed.  When the nurse asked Dad if he had any pain he told her his leg hurt.  She noted his foot with the cancerous football sized growth, was unwrapped and sitting upon a towel.  She got one of the nursing home nurses to give Dad a pain pill and to finish wrapping his foot.

The growth is growing and putting off an odor.  The doctor has prescribed some Bactroban antibiotic cream for it.

Both the hospice nurse and I have been attempting to reach Dad's physician, but he has not returned her calls or my emails.  This morning, I sent him another one.

Mom went to visit Dad this morning, arriving to find Dad still in bed.  Dad's caregiver for the day informed Mom Dad refused to get up for his morning shower and has been fighting everyone who attempts to help him brush his teeth...his teeth look terrible.

All Dad wanted to do was sleep.  Mom sat beside his bed talking and sharing family news.  Every ten to fifteen minutes, Dad would awake, open his one good eye and make a loud, GROWL and claw at his skin scratching.  Mom could see red marks, broken skin and scabs on Dad's arms and stomach.  She attempted to calm him and urge him not to scratch.  She asked if he was in pain...

Dad told her, "My skin hurts".

She went out to the nurses station and told them what Dad said and what he was doing.  The nurses told her they give him extra strength Tylenol three times a day for discomfort and Vicodin if it appears Dad is in pain.

The wound care nurse (or skin Angel as we refer to her) told Mom she could not treat Dad's skin until after his shower....hopefully they were able to get Dad up and in for his shower...

Mom got Dad to drink two glasses of water in between his dosing, growling and itching...

This morning the hospice nurse informed me Dad weighs 119.  It's up and down with Dad lately and we all feel he is on his last stages of his Alzheimer's....sleeping a lot is one of the definite signs.  We would all rather him sleep than be awake and be miserable.

Mom emailed all of us and asked for our prayers for Dad.  She also hoped we would all learn a lesson from Dad's procrastination.  All of his skin cancer problems and dental work could have been resolved if he would have not procrastinated and taken action in the beginning when it would have been simple to treat. 

Unfortunately for Dad, when it happened, he was still at home, but was very paranoid and suspicious.  I used to work as a medical assistant and told Dad his wounds looked like skin cancer and urged him to go get it seen by a specialist....but he would not hear it.  He would not allow me to even say the words dementia or Alzheimer's.

He would take himself on and off his medications.  He had leg ulcers, rapid/irregular heart beat and prostate problems.. We all tried to get him to go to the doctor but he knew better.  No one could make him do anything until it all caught up with him...it always does....we can run, but we cannot hide.

We all feel it.  Visiting Dad alone is the worst.  I feel for Mom taking on the burden of regular visits each week.  When we talk, we all confess to being emotionally drained and mentally exhausted.  Thank God we have one another to lean on....some days it feels almost unbearable.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Our Song....

I called to talk to my Dad today.  His male caregiver told me Dad had eaten 70-80% of his lunch and his weight has been staying between 120 and 121.  He told me he had not seen Dad's doctor...but that Dad seemed to be doing OK.  I asked if I could speak with my Dad...

I greeted Dad with my usual, "Hi Papa-Doots"....

Thankfully, Dad responded by greeting me by name, "Hi Donna...I was just sitting here with a pretty young lady who reminds me of you..."

"Aaaahhhh, you are always surrounded by the pretty ladies..."

"Yes, I like pretty girls..."

"I love you Dad."

"I love you too..."

His voice was tired and weak.  His words were slurred and mumbled...but I could understand him...

I had heard the song Bye, Bye, Blackbird on the radio the other day and thought of him... Bye, Bye, Blackbird is the song my Dad used to sing to me when I was a baby with colic or to settle me down to go to sleep.  It has always been our song.  We danced to it at my wedding with my second husband. ( I eloped with my first...)

" Dad, you know what I heard on the radio the other day?  Bye, Bye, Blackbird..."

Dad broke into song singing a few bars..."Bye, Bye, Blackbird..."

I continued with, ..."Pack up all your cares and woe, here we go, singing low, bye, bye, blackbird...where somebody waits for me, sugars sweet, so is he, bye, bye, blackbird....no one here can love or understand me, oh, what hard luck stories they all hand me, make my bed and light the light, I'll be home late tonight, bye, bye, blackbird..."

"Oh it is so good you remember that!"

"It's our song, I'll always remember it...we danced to it at my wedding...remember?"

"No, I don't remember, but that's nice..."

I told him my daughter Jodee got married this past weekend and they sent their love to him...

"Oh, I'm happy for her..."

"Jerry (my husband) sends his love to you too..."

"Good..."

"Did you have a nice lunch?"

"I did not eat yet..."

"Oh, I just talked to H____ (his male caregiver) and he said you just had lunch."

"I did?  I guess I did...I don't remember."


"I love you Dad..."

"I love you too dear... I'll see you at the party..."  (I have no idea what party he is referring to...most likely because we were talking about the wedding...)


"Are you going to take a little nap?"

"I'm going to try..."

"OK, sweet dreams...have some nice adventures...."

"YEAH!"

"You can ride some horses, go sailing or take a nice swim in the cool water...."

"That sounds good."

"I love you Dad...God Bless you."

"I love you too and may God Bless you too..."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Real Train Wreck of a Visit....

Mom would have rather mopped the floors then go see Dad...but she went to visit him anyway.  It is very difficult for any of us to go visit with him alone.  Emotionally, it is always draining....we need one another to hold one another up emotionally...

Mom arrived and the male Hospice CNA was just finishing up giving Dad a shower and had put one coat of lotion all over Dad.  Dad sat with his grimace face, clawing at his neck and upper neck, scratching...scratching..."I got mice climbing up and down my arms...they keep the hair down but I don't like....."

The male CNA told Dad he would put more lotion on him....

Mom greeted Dad and asked how he felt today....

"GRRRRRRRRREAT!"

"Oh, just like Tony the Tiger", Mom quipped...."What did you have for breakfast Don?"

"Shirts..."

"Shirts? WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?"

"I don't remember..." closing his eyes and smiling as the male CNA rubbed lotion into his alligator skin.  The male CNA told Mom what a pleasure it is to care for Dad...he told Mom Dad is such a nice, kind gentleman.  Some times Dad gets angry, but very rarely.  The CNA said he saves Dad for the weekends after a long hard week because Dad is such a joy to be around...

"Thank you, we really appreciate all you do.  Thank you for remembering to put the lotion on him." Mom smiled back at the CNA with gratitude... Then Dad started talking...

"I took a sheet metal train into the City....I'm number one on that train...first in line; that's why they play the music for me..." (someone was whistling in the hallway...)

"I follow the middle because I get more recognition that way....It's really great...metal trains...when you come out, the trainman comes out with you and then everyone follows you.  The people walk very fast because they want to keep up with you.  Makes a big difference in your occupation.  They come by every five minutes."

Mom had taken pen and paper from her purse, head down, looking up every now and then to make eye contact with Dad and smile with approval as she wrote as fast as she could to get everything he said down...

"They come out of the trailer cars because they don't want to fall.  Walking is VERY dangerous.  The train goes miles all the way into the City depending on the person.  This morning I flew down to the City...."  Looking at Mom, "You saw John (?) clear down on the railroad...He must be a big shot because they won't do anything until they get to the end of the line...He is very special."

Barely taking a breath, Dad continued his rambling...."The girls are really something here, and on the metal train....First, they bring lunch into the toilet.  Little man doesn't want to fall.  I have clean hands and fingernails so I can scratch. I am able to form a filament - much smaller than the fat legs I used to have.  More normal  now and that makes me happy. (Dad still has the huge growth on his foot, but as long as it is wrapped, he is not aware of it.)  Now I get the regular legs and they make a big difference."

"I always have my eyes open to watch the girls - they are very pretty.  I feel so happy when I see the train was actually metal.  The girls will love it better too and they do."

"The guy goes around with a belt around his chest.  He is a Q boy...he makes up the beds.  You can sleep on both ends.  Doctor-Doctor checks to make sure.  She is always very clean and careful...you can see she is A-1.  She goes in other rooms to make sure - always in a rhythm, very hygienic and personal.  She watches very carefully.  You can tell because she is so fast and clean.  I love to see her work very hygienic.   I rest so I am ready for quick work...they walk so fast.  When I clip my nails I clip them so fast and they want me to know that..."

Head down, Mom is wishing she remembered her steno.... When Dad goes off the rail like this, we try to write it down and make sense of it..but it seems lately, there is no making sense of what he says.  It fries our brain to listen to him talk like this, and writing it down almost makes us feel like we are one caboose short....

"IT'S WONDERFUL, I chew both umbrellas!  I wait 'til the first one is out, then I know I am first.  I want to make sure I don't run into someone with my pee-pee out..."

Mom's head bobbed up, looking at Dad like he had four heads...but knows what a wild imagination he has...

At that moment, Dad's lunch arrived, making Mom heave a sigh of relief.  She was never so thankful to see his lunch arrive.  It looked and smelled delicious.  Meat loaf with gravy, mashed potatoes, Dad's favorite cubed beets, pudding, ice cream, milk, bread and butter.

Dad was still mumbling...sometimes very softly then louder as if someone turned up his volume....Mom could not keep up with anymore of his bizarre conversation, so after Dad polished off his lunch, Mom kissed him and let the CNA take him to his room for  a nap.

She figured Dad had to be tired, she knew she was exhausted.  She called me when she got home to make sure her report of their visit made it to my inbox.  She was so tired she was not certain if she even sent it and she knew she could not write it down again!

I reassured her I had TWO copies of her email in my inbox and I would post it to my blog.  Sweet dreams Mama....I think she will sleep through the night after this train wreck of a visit....


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hot Dogs and Racing for Dad....

Mom didn't visit Dad last week because she had been under the weather with a cold.  July 3rd,  she felt well enough to visit Dad at the nursing home...

The nursing home was celebrating the 4th of July and as promised, they barbecued hot dogs.  Mom took Dad out on the patio and asked for his lunch to be brought out on a tray.  Dad loves to sit with the warm sun on his back (even if it was a bit over cast).  Mom went to get his sunglasses but could not find them.  Mom told Dad she could not find his sunglasses....

"I know where they are..." (Probably gave them away again...)

Mom asked where they are, but Dad was too focused on his lunch which had arrived when she was searching for the sunglasses...

Dad ate his lunch of Lasagna, salad, Mexican corn, ice cream, beans, pudding and ice cream; then asked Mom to make him a hot dog with extra mustard, onions, relish, & ketchup... (Mom noticed Dad guzzled a Sprite and a full glass of milk and didn't cough as he has been doing...)

" I feel GRRREAT! (Dad announced suddenly)  "I'm running and racing again.  I bet everyone!"

Mom nodded and secretly hoped he was not attempting to stand on his foot with the growth....

Doctor-Doctor stopped by to give Mom a hug and flirt with Dad...

Looking up at Doctor-Doctor from his wheel chair, "Wanna' race?"

Mom asked Dad if he enjoyed having their oldest son visit from Ohio two weeks ago; he had to return to go back to work...

"Yes, it's great, we going to run a race together later..."

Mom reminded him B_____ had returned to Ohio to work...

"I know, I know...but the race is still on."

When Dad slowed down in feeding himself, he began to glare at her.... "Aren't you going to give me my ice cream?"

So Mom picked up his ice cream and began feeding Dad...

Anticipating Dad would be ready for a nap, she leaned in to kiss him good bye and asked if he was ready for his nap...

"No, I would like another hot dog with extra mustard..."



Saturday, June 22, 2013

An Opportunity to Help and Earn Some Extra Money for Alzheimer's...

Check this out...you can help Alzheimer's research with your own personal Caregiving experience and earn up to $250 ($125 each respondent) for 90 minutes over a two day period June 24 and 25, 2013.

Paid research by blogforalzheimers.com

Have a great weekend everyone...

(((((hugs))))))

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Father's Day, 2013

The plan was for all six siblings to come together with Mom and go rally around Dad for Father's Day. We all were to meet in front of the nursing home at 11am.  We all arrived except for the second to the youngest brother, S_____ who woke with either "pink eye" or "conjunctivitis".  He did not want to take the chance of infecting Dad or any of us...

Two of the brothers went to Dad's room to bring him out front so we could surprise Dad.  The brothers returned announcing Dad was getting his shower.  We all sat and chatted, catching up and celebrating having our brother B____ from Ohio here with us.  I think it has been about 9 years since his last visit.

Before too long, the brothers returned for Dad and wheeled him out onto the nursing home's front, shaded patio.  Dad was very happy to see all of us, knowing we were family, but not calling us by name.  He would say "my son".....to the brothers, or "this is a very important person to me"...

Dad, Father's Day, 2013

Dad called me "Holl Doll", despite me correcting him and telling him I was "Donna"....Dad told me, "I know, that's what I said, Holl Doll"....  My sister comforted me telling me Dad usually calls her "Donna".

We posed for various pictures with Dad...

 youngest brother E___, Mom and Dad

Mom, Dad and brother B___ from Ohio 

brother K___, Donna (me), sister Holly (Holl Doll)
and Dad in front 

Brother K____'s wife T____ and brother K_____

Five out of the six kids, Mom and Dad

After photo taking, we each took turns reading Dad our cards to him.  Dad struggles reading, especially with his one eye closed with cancer, and not wearing his glasses.... Light makes his eyes even more sensitive.  One of the brothers returned to Dad's room to get his sunglasses.

The youngest brother E____ had been inspired to read a poem he wrote to Dad.  It was very moving and made several of us cry.  He also blew up a picture of his three white Havanese dogs, with a bubble above each dog's head with the message, "Happy Father's Day"....  Dad held the photocopy up close and kissed each one of the dogs.  So sweet.

Dad's Hospice CNA came out and stopped to tell us he was so concerned with how Dad had been most of the week...and so surprised to see how Dad perked up when we came to visit with my daughter Jodee on Friday.  Dad's appetite jumped from 60% to 100%.  I had not met the Hospice CNA so I hugged him, thanked him and told him he was an extension of our family.  Others in the family who had not met him, introduced themselves.  The CNA put his arms around Dad and wished him a very happy Father's Day and waved goodbye to all of us.

One of the nurses came out front and invited us all to come in the back courtyard as they were having a BBQ.  We all gathered behind my brother B_____ as he wheeled Dad through the nursing home and into the back courtyard.

Dad wanted a big hot dog with mustard....so I went to the Activities' Director, who was doing the cooking, and asked for a hot dog.  "Sorry, we are just doing burgers, chips, sodas and baked beans...we'll have hot dogs on the 4th of July."

I took a hamburger with lots of mustard, some relish and a little ketchup back to Dad, along with some baked beans and chips.  Dad was already sucking on a soda with a straw.....which he had drained!  My younger brother had given Dad a Coke.  I figured we should steer Dad away from the caffeine so the next soda I gave him was a Sprite.

Dad was anxious to eat his "hot dog" and I was attempting to wait for my brother to bring me a knife to cut it in half and Dad would not wait....he began grabbing at it...so I had no recourse but to hold it up for him to eat.  Dad almost bit my fingers as he growled and took a huge bite.  I cautioned Dad not to take such big bites, but he totally ignored me.  I was doing good if I could get him to finish chewing before he growled and took another enormous bite!

Dad in foreground, wearing black fedora hat, scarfing potato chips....

Dad polished it off along with another soda and asked for another....so while I went to get Dad another hamburger, my brother B_____ fed Dad some baked beans.  I think Dad ate two bag of chips and three sodas in addition to the two hamburgers....and still wanted a BIG HOT DOG WITH MUSTARD!

Ever humorous, brother E____ quipped, " Dad, you're gonna' have to wait until the 4th of July for the big dogs with mustard...just a couple more weeks."

I noticed Dad slowed down on his last few bites of hamburger...  He also started to droop in his wheel chair...a definite sign he was full and ready for a nap.  Dad confirmed he was ready for bed when I asked....

While my brothers, Mom and sister were saying their good byes, I slipped away, back to Dad's room and hung his cards on his "wall of love" (where we hang all our cards, photos, notes, letters, etc on the walls around his bed.)

My brother B_____ , Mom and I wheeled Dad to his room....B____ wanted some alone time with Dad to say his good byes as he fly home last Monday morning back to Ohio.  Mom and I visited with the nurses until B_____ came out of Dad's room.  I went back in to give Dad one more kiss....and Dad asked me as I leaned down to kiss him, "Where is my hot dog with mustard?"

"You'll have it for dinner Dad....in the mean time, get some sleep and dream of it...."

"OK...that sounds good to me..."

"I love you Papa-Doots..."

My sister and her husband invited everyone over to their house in Claremont for a Father's Day BBQ at 2pm....so the party moved to their house...eating...laughter....conversations....great food and merriment continued...

Back row: Four brothers E_____, S______, K_____ and B______
Front row: Donna (me),  Mom and my sister Holly (Holl Doll)

part of our huge family who were able to attend the BBQ

 Four generations:
my nephew (Holly's son) and his 3 month old son, his grand father and father

 Brother S____ and one of his two sons
(sister's pool in the background in the re-surfacing process)

 Mom and nephew's wife posing with stick on mustaches

Cousins... S_______ & S_________
(Brother K's daughter and Holly's daughter)


Yesterday, my sister sent me all her photos and discovered one of them made us all comment and laugh...  Dad has always had very dry skin and scratches himself constantly.  The wound care nurse at the nursing home does an excellent job of caring for Dad's skin and keeping it greased up with Aveeno, Aquaphor, and Vasoline....

The Hospice Nurse obviously was rushing to get Dad dressed so he could join us on the patio and did not put lotion on Dad....We all stop Dad from scratching his skin (which is so thin and bleeds) so the picture below is Dad taking advantage of itching himself...when everyone was distracted taking the picture... Classic!

Dad taking the opportunity for a forbidden scratch....you just gotta' love him!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Today Was Definitely a Good Day...

This has been a rough week of visits with Dad... I arrived this past Thursday; my brother arrived last Monday and has been visiting every day.  The last two days we found Dad in bed sleeping.  He was so sleepy yesterday we could not even wake him up except for a sip of water...

The day before he was cold and afraid.  I got him an extra blanket and rubbed his back while my brother read him the Bible and rubbed Dad's head.

My daughter Jodee wanted to visit with us today and drove up from Riverside county.  Mom, my brother, Jodee and I went to visit Dad, prepared for the worst.  When we arrived, we found Dad sitting in his wheel chair in the lunch room waiting for lunch.

Dad is so pale, gaunt and weak, but he perked up when he saw us.  He was thrilled to see Jodee, his grand daughter.  We took Dad out on the patio and parked him at an umbrella table with his back a wee bit in the sun.

He was happy to see us and chatted in a weak voice, but with more volume than we have heard most of the week.  He was flirty and feisty.  He asked if we had ever gone with him up the elevator to the top floor of the nursing home (it is only one story) but in Dad's mind, it is a skyscraper and went on and on about the view and his office up there.

His caretaker brought his lunch outside.  It looked and smelled devine!  Meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes with gravy, diced beets, strawberry ice cream, pudding, bread and butter, milk, grapejuice and coffee.   My brother fed Dad dessert first from one side of Dad and I fed him his lunch from the other side of Dad.

He told us his ear hurt.  He said it was "pounding" but then told us when he goes to the beach it is always so loud...so to be safe, I told the nurse of Dad's complaints.  I also noted his appeared to have a swollen spot on the upper right side of his nose.  Dad also complained of me hurting his nose when I wiped it for him.  He told me I hurt him...

I apologized and told him I was sorry and he told me, "Well, then DON'T DO IT AGAIN!"  Feisty!

He was very taken with my daughter Jodee...(because he is such a shameless flirt) he told her how much he loves pretty girls and wants to kiss them...but he wants to kiss them a hundred times!  We all roared with laughter.

When it came to drink, Dad usually coughs because he is either having difficulty swallowing and/or he coughs and chokes.  When he was drinking his coffee, I kept warning him to sip and not guzzle.... He tried to guzzle and started to cough, so to hide the fact he was coughing, he coughed, then went..."HAHA..HOHOHO...HEEHEEHEE"....we all laughed again.

My daughter took pictures and promised to send us copies, so I will post them when she has time to send them to me.

The Social Worker came out on the patio as we were finishing up the pictures and asked if we needed any services for Dad.  I told her Dad needed a hair cut, his eye brows trimmed as well as his ears, nostrils and mustache.  I mentioned Dad's complaint of the pounding in his ears, the sore nose and the little swelling on his upper lip.

She asked if he needed to see the Dentist and we told her NO.  I also told her he needed his nails trimmed on his fingers and toes.

Dad has not been eating well all week, but today, he ate 100% at breakfast and 100% at lunch!  Very happy for all of us to see Dad so animated and wanting to eat.

After finishing lunch, Dad thought it would be good to go back inside....so we wheeled him back inside and toward his room.  While walking down the isle, we greeted several of the staff members and gave them hugs.  His male caregiver for the day wanted to look at Dad's upper lip and told us Dad used to have a scrab on his upper lip and he kept picking it...he felt it was OK. 

Two young nurses and Doctor-Doctor came up to Dad and began talking with Dad.  We all said our good byes, but Dad was totally focused on the young woman and treated us like "chopped liver".  We told him we would all see him tomorrow and he told us he would look forward to it.

Tomorrow all six of Dad's children will be there in addition to some spouses, and grand kids, for Father's Day.  We'll have to take up a couple of tables...we'll have so many family members...it should be a good day for Dad.

What a relief to see him more alert and social.  My daughter was thrilled as I had prepared her for the worst.  She was very happy to have such a positive time with her precious "lil' Papa" as both my daughters refer to him...Mom, my brother and I were very relieved too. 

"Let's have lunch at In and Out", my brother suggested, and we all agreed.  Today was definitely a good day.