Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With Dignity and Respect

Most everyone that reads my blog knows by now that my mom died almost two weeks ago. It was a shock and very sudden. She died of pneumonia. We believe that she did not know how sick she was. My sister, Jeanne called me on Thursday night, September 9, to let me know that she had taken mom to the hospital. By the time I got there on Friday morning, her x-rays showed the breathing capacity in one lung to be about the size of a lemon with no breathing capacity in the other. The antibiotics could never touch it. She went downhill from there. All I wanted for her was dignity and respect at the end. When it comes right down to it, if there were some sort of checklist for deaths that you could choose, this would probably have been it for her---no pain, quick, in her right mind and not in a nursing home. It might have been best for her, but it sure is hard on us. We weren't ready to lose her yet.

This is not meant to be a sad or maudlin post, but rather a celebration of her. You see, for 43 years she was the only parent we had. Without realizing it, we put all of our parental energies into her. Sure, she drove us crazy, aggravated us, and put each of us to the test. But, we loved her. She was happy to hear us complain about her---it made her chuckle---she was thrilled to be the center of our attention. We even joked about that. Our family has a great sense of humor and so did she.

But amidst all of that pain and heartache near the end, something so beautiful happened. There are 7 of us. 2 have always been a bit on the cold/stand-offish side, while the rest of us are "kissy/huggy" tight. They needed to be "tucked in" and we needed them to be. It was just us---the "original 7"---and it was truly beautiful. We thank mom for that. Our family has always been close---never anyone on the outs for very long. We're loud, we still fight at times, but it's easy with us.

I thought I would share the eulogy with you. Each of the "original 7" chose one word to describe mom and added a couple examples. Jeanne wrote it with a little help from me and I was the one elected to give it. I hope you enjoy the humor and celebrate her with us. She was truly one amazing woman. The best lesson she left us was disclosed during the homily by Father Don who didn't even know her. It was so perfect. He said that the most important lesson she taught us was how to live with grief. That was so right on. Never once did we see her cry at the loss of our dad at 37. She was only 36 with kids ranging from 15 to 2. How scared she must have been. But to us she was everything.

When we thought about writing a eulogy for Mom we came up with the idea that each of the original seven would state one word to describe her. We came up with the “original seven” when the family got so big. We needed a term to mean just us kids.

I picked - Organized – because she would embroider different color x’s on mine & the twins clothes and socks when we were little so we wouldn’t get them mixed up. Mom made yarn covered hangers and we each had our own color that matched our room. Her efficiency has made this process so much easier on all of us. Mom, we thank you for that.

RONNIE chose - Determined – because when she was determined she was REALLY determined. She resolved not to be a burden on anyone and she wasn’t.

JANICE decided on Tolerant – because she allowed us all to be individuals and develop our own personalities. Mom was a very private person and therefore did not gossip about others.

JENNIFER picked Bull-headed – because she was strong-willed and stubborn. Shopping with mom was especially difficult because she insisted on buying American and even though we admired her convictions, that was not always an easy task. As a result she had us all pulling our hair out and dodging the job.

JEANNE went for Strong – because she was our rock when dad died. Widowed at 36 with 7 kids ranging in age from 15 to 2 she raised us on her own. On second thought, maybe she wasn’t as strong as we thought because she always told us “You blank, blank kids are going to drive me to the nuthouse.” But she never did go.

MATT chose Competitive – because she involved us in sports, played games with us and taught us to play poker at a young age. And when it came to poker we had to play her way. She was a whiz at Scrabble and always hit us with words we never heard of. She probably got those from the crossword puzzles she loved working. As a matter of fact while she was in the hospital we tried to do a crossword puzzle in her honor and amongst 4 of us we couldn’t get past the 5th clue.

JOYCE decided on Financier – because she taught us all to budget and manage our money in preparation for the real world. She was one of those original refunders in the 70’s and she always hit the sales and used coupons. Free stuff was up her alley and she taught us well. During the time she was in the hospital we enjoyed free snacks and drinks from carts provided in the ICU until signs were put on the carts indicating that the stuff was for a particular room. It was important to mom so she sacrificed to provide each of us 12 years of Catholic education. She read Money Magazine and the Kiplinger for pleasure. We original seven think that’s incredibly boring.

There are many more words to describe our Mom. Organized, determined, tolerant, bull-headed, strong, competitive and financier are just the tip of the iceberg. Our family has grown to 37 including 21 grand children and great grand children, she took pride in the fact that we are close. We loved her very much and will miss her dearly but we find some comfort in knowing that after 43 years she has finally been reunited with the love of her life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Persistence Finally Pays Off!!

It only took me 13 years, but I finally did it! I burned up the treadmill!! I'd never really heard of a treadmill wearing out. Sure, we had to replace the belt or something about 5 years ago, but that's been it. Today, nearing the end of my workout, it just quit---no lights, nothing. I thought maybe it was just overworked and needed to cool down. No such luck. It's still "deader 'n doornail" (what the heck does that mean anyway?).

There are a couple of ways I could look at it. 1. Be done with it forever. Or, 2. Buy a new one and challenge myself to see if I can wear it out sooner than 13 years. Either which way, we certainly got our money's worth out of it. Not too many people can say that about exercise equipment.

I'm sure I can pick up one cheap from my friends. I know several people that are using treadmills as clothes racks.

Oh, and by the way, I looked inside the machine part and found that there was a separate mile counter. According to that, I've circled the world twice!!! Okay, I exaggerate---just once. Really!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pool Fun

I'm finally getting around to posting some pool pictures. I don't know where Morgan and Carson were when I took these.

By the second day, Elizabeth was swimming in the deep end. By the third day, she was jumping off the diving board. She looks so little---perched up there.

All the kids want to do is hang out at the pool. We had a lot of fun this year with the whole family.

One evening, while Sandy was helping me get dinner ready, all the kids went out to the pool. Since Elizabeth still requires supervision, Sandy told her she couldn't go. I asked Butch if we still had the children's life jackets. He found two, but Elizabeth would have none of that. She had the closest thing to a tantrum I've ever seen. She stood in the kitchen with her little arms crossed and kept saying "I'm going and I'm NOT wearing anything." Sandy and I ignored her and kept fixing dinner. She kept saying that same thing over and over, but it was so funny because she was not moving towards the door. Finally, I told her to ask grandpa if he would sit out there and watch her. Of course he did. Later at dinner, he told us that she made the request and then did a pitiful face. Turns out, she said it was her "sad, puppy dog face." Apparently, she's used it before and gotten good results. The girl is no dummy!!

Another Hive Update

At the scrapbook retreat, we were having a really good time. My classes went really well. But, I noticed during the class that I was starting to get that "woozy, flu-like" feeling which signifies a hive attack. Now, there were several things that happened leading up to this, so I wasn't sure which had started my downhill spiral. On Friday night, I noticed a feeling of pressure that made me think I had a bladder infection coming on. I also got a mosquito bite on my foot that had developed a huge hive and made my foot swell. On top of that, we got in the hot tub late Friday night and the water was REALLY hot. Jeanne and Janet were such babies that they tried to get out of getting in, but I wouldn't let them.

Anyway, one thing lead to another and I kept getting side-tracked and never took any extra prednisone. There is no reason for me ever to go down like that---in fact, I haven't had an episode like that in a few years. Being able to self-medicate really comes in handy. I finally took the extra med, but by then it was too late. Jeanne had to help me to bed. I slept for 3 hours and felt like a new woman. Prednisone is truly a miracle drug---pretty much exactly 4 hours to get it in your system.

We left the next morning, but the bladder pressure had intensified. I got a cranberry juice on the way home (my doctor says this is not an old wive's tale---it really works---but too much can cause kidney stones).

Jeanne was sitting in the back seat and chimed in---"I hope you aren't getting a kidney stone, that's how mine felt." I've never had a kidney stone, but Butch has, so I know how incredibly painful they are.

After I loaded up at Janet's I headed home to Nashville. The closer I got to Mount Vernon which is about an hour and a half from St. Louis, the more pain I was in. I kept trying to think about what I should do---take myself to the hospital or try to make it on to Paducah---the next hospital. I called Butch to ask his opinion. By now I was pretty certain that I was having a kidney stone attack. We decided that I'd stop in Mount Vernon, get gas and see how I felt. I did just that, used the bathroom and was totally fine. I called Jeanne and thanked her for planting that seed and completely "wigging me out." She said, "you mean you couldn't tell you just had to go to the bathroom?" All I can say is it felt different---and was very painful!! Really, I'm just glad that's all it was. I had visions of myself dying on the side of the highway because I couldn't drive or go anywhere.

I made it home without further incident. I talked to Mindy and she told me about her drama the day before. She was on her way to work when she discovered that her battery was dead. She called a cab. Traffic at 7 a.m. is pretty light in New Orleans on a Saturday morning, but it was pouring down rain. The cab hydro-planed and wrecked. Mindy was fine, but the cab was wedged between some trees and a fence, so they couldn't get out. She called her fellow manager and friend, crying, to let her know that she would be late. A minute later, her boss called and asked if she was okay. When she said yes, he said, "well stop crying then! If no other cars were involved, you don't have to stay." She explained that she was trapped in the car. The firemen had to cut her out. She said that not only is she DONE with New Orleans, New Orleans is DONE with her!!

HCA---the company that Steph works for---flew Mindy in for an interview. We're keeping our fingers crossed that this is the job that will get her back to Nashville.

Now back to me. Monday morning, I took myself to the doctor. I definitely have a bladder infection. I tell you this as a warning. The doctor asked me how much water I drink. I had to admit that I drink very little water---I'm a tea drinker almost exclusively. He said that tea is bad---very dehydrating and that our bodies "require" water. I think there must be a course for doctors called "analogies 101".* He said that I should think of my bladder as the body's toilet. Water is required to flush the toilet in order to flush out the bacteria that grows there. He said that not drinking water is like not flushing your toilet for a week. Yuk! What a picture. That sold me. I haven't had anything but water this week with the exception of 2 glasses of red wine. I like it okay if I can squeeze some lemon or lime juice into it. Restaurant lemons bring up a whole 'nother bacteria issue. Another thing to obsess about. Where will it end....

*My doctor I go to about my hives use another analogy. In reference to my melt down about my weight, he said, "look at it this way---prednisone is holding you hostage and we're trying to pay the ransom." At least doctors make things easy for me to understand.

"Teenage" Boys will be Boys!!!

I've been meaning to post this picture since Disney. You will recall that Mitchell stayed in our room. One day, he was messing around with the "frog" magnet from my needlework. Normally, it's used to hold needles. Leave it to Mitchell to turn it into nose jewelry. Plus we were pretty impressed that the magnet was so strong that it held through his nose! Then Morgan got in on the act and they were attaching it to their braces and everything else in sight. When it was all said and done, one of the little crystals is missing from my cute little froggie. Oh well, it was worth it to get this shot!

I keep trying to get Sandy to start a blog as she has the funniest stories to tell. I try repeating them sometimes, but they aren't always as good as when she tells them. She keeps us in stitches. Here are a few that don't sound nearly as good as when she told them:

Mitchell had a big red mark that encircled his chin. When his coach asked him what it was from, he told him that he was decked by a friend for throwing dog poop at him. The coach brought it up to Greg who set the record straight. Mitchell had suctioned a cup to himself that left the mark. Since when is it better to have people think you picked up dog poop than to admit to sucking a cup onto yourself?

While at camp, Mitchell and his friends were banned from playing "sting" pong. Only teen boys would play with their shirts off and let the others slam the ball at their bare chests and backs, leaving red welts all over. Maybe next they'll think of using dog poop instead of the ball and call it "fling" pong---or stink pong.

Mitchell was only home a day when the girls from camp started posting their photos on Facebook. They set the photos to music and made nice slideshows. The other girls were responding in typical schmaltzy teen girl fashion---"oh, I miss you already, my bff, etc." Only one boy responded with "holy s**t that was long!!" Typical boy! Sandy then asked Mitchell about the pictures he took. He responded, "mooommmm, I didn't have a camera!" To which she replied, "Mitchell, I told you that I put it in the pocket of your bag when you left!" He never remembered it was there! Boys! A whole new world for our family!!

Oh and one last thing---he's a "Gleek", but said if anyone ever mentioned it, he would never admit to it!

I love that kid!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Time Surely Does Fly!!

I can't believe the Labor Day weekend is here---this week has just flown by. We always look forward to 3-day weekends. That may sound funny since we're basically retired---as they say, every day is Saturday. But that's really not true. There's just something more fun about the weekends. In fact, it's about the only time I get up before 5:30 a.m. anymore---I'm anxious to get a jump on the weekend.

We don't have a lot planned, but that's okay by me. I have so much unpacking and re-organizing from last week, that I have plenty to keep me busy. I started today and did get pictures taken of my layouts. I'll post them soon.

We're going to dinner and a movie tonight with friends---Hugh and Pam---she called---I was shocked!! You have no idea how rare it is for Pam to make plans. While Butch is playing golf tomorrow, I plan to take Stephanie and myself antiquing---remember, he interrupted me the last time when his car broke down. I'm looking forward to it---and the Mexican food I plan to have for lunch.

On Sunday, the girls, Carson, Cameron, Steph and Nicky, Merrill, Tucker and maybe Jimmy (Steph's friends) are coming over for an end of the season swim party and BBQ. The girls want us to play poker in the evening. I'm still finding it unbelievable that teenagers want to spend time with their grandparents---and, for that matter, our grown children and their friends. We will never say "no" to them---whenever they want to spend time with us, we're all over that!! This is the first time we've been able to work Steph's friends into our busy schedule! Unfortunately, that means that while Merrill and Tucker will be here having fun with us, Bill and Nancy will be babysitting. I guess that's what Bill gets for not playing cards!

Okay, now let me take you back 2 weeks to our trip to St. Louis. We ended up leaving on Thursday because Butch had a business meeting on Friday morning. We had lunch with Jeanne after his meeting. On Friday night, we went to a movie---"The Other Guys"---it was pretty good, but goofy in some spots---and then went out for Italian food for dinner. Butch and Walter went geo-caching on Saturday and set a record---25 "finds" in one day. Besides the caches they found, Butch "found" poison ivy again---and started breaking out right away. This time, he took my advice and started with the prednisone right away. By the time I got home the following Sunday, it was nearly gone, but you could tell that it would have been another severe case. (A side note---it's definitely poison ivy as while at my doctor's office, they had a chart on the wall of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac along with where it is located. Only poison ivy grows in the MO or TN area).

We had a fun weekend with Walter and Chris. I always look forward to the new recipes that Chris tries. She's a great cook. I had planned to report what she made, but now that so much time has gone by, my memory fails me. Walter grilled some marinated pork tenderloins. Chris made a new brussel sprouts recipe---she knows that is probably my most favorite vegetable now, so always tries to come up with something new.

I took Butch to the airport on Monday morning. Then it was on to mom' on that to follow!

PS By the time I was ready to post this, we had already gone out with our friends. We saw "Get Low". OMG, it was horrible---could be the worst movie I've seen in a long time. Anyway, I had to listen to Butch complain all the way home about how this is the exact reason he doesn't like to go to movies. When I finally had heard enough, I told him "FINE" (in that tone I seem to have) that from now on, I would turn down every invitation to go to the movies. That's it, I give up. Luckily, I get to go with my friends. In fact, we have a date in October already on the calendar.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And the Winner Is....

Jeanne!!! She won the layout contest at the scrapbook retreat. "When in Rome" was a great title for a great layout. Notice her use of the pearls around the circles. The girl is good and needs no help from me! Way to go Jeanne!