Wednesday, February 27, 2008


today, or actually yesterday as i look at the time, i met and had lunch with 2 dear friends. one, k.d., i hadn't seen in probably 20-25 years and the other, s.s., was my best friend from high school. s.s. and i both attended illinois wesleyan university where we both graduated from their school of nursing. we moved to champaign-urbana to start our careers together and that is where we met k.d. who was also a new grad. both s.s. and k.d. remember the exact starting salary we started at, i don't, i think they said it was somewhere around 5.35/hour. that was considered very good money 30 years ago for someone fresh out of college. i was able to have a very nice apartment, have a car, pay for gas, car insurance, etc., have a social life and still put money into savings! i had contemplated going back to school 3 years later for my masters but decided against it as the money was too good and i didn't want to go back to being poor! go figure.

so many fond memories were created in the year and a half we worked together. the 3 of us worked the pm shift so we would go out afterwards for a drink or two, one of our favorite hangouts was "lums." not sure they are in business anymore. we became very close and even though i have not kept in contact with k.d. for probably close to 20 years and not as close of contact with s.s. as i would have liked or should have for that matter, we seemed to pick up and reminisce without problems.

we all are still married to the same men, a feat in itself by today's standard. we also all have children in college, although k.d wins the prize for having all 4 of her kids in college at once! WOW! we have also all lost a parent in the last year, but for different reasons. i also realized that there is always someone else who has burdens and reasons to grieve greater than mine. i will hold both of you in my thoughts and prayers as you both struggle with your family issues. we never know what is in store for us but do the best we can with the hand we are dealt. i admire both of your strength in what you are facing, especially you s.s.

it was a great way to spend a long overdue reunion of sorts. we promised each other to make the 60 mile trek for each of us to meet and not wait another 20+ years. i hope we can stay true to that promise. thank you both for being the highlight of my day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

moving forward

yesterday was the first day since i have started blogging that i did not check in with my own or anyone's else's blog for that matter. i'm not really sure why that happened. i did think about it after dinner but bob was on the computer for quite some time and by the time he got off i decided i was tired and just went to bed.

yesterday i had an interview with the staff at the oncology clinic where i have applied and am interested. it is similar in set up to a clinic i worked at 20 years ago but this practice is larger. the staff i met seemed nice and all got along well. one of the nurses was a little brash in some of her questions to me but i think i handled it well. afterwards i wondered how i would have reacted to her prior to me caregiving, if it would have rattled me more. i don't know, we all admit that this process of caregiving has changed us and i would like to think i am more tolerant of others because of it. i also think these nurses are pretty protective of the staff they have and want to make sure whoever comes in to work with them and supervise them will be a good fit. and that's what i want to know as well.

yesterday was also 5 months since russ died. maybe that's why i didn't make more of an effort to go on the blogs. i felt pretty good about the day and i wonder if subconsciously i wanted to see if i was strong enough to get through the day by myself. like terry said this morning, i not sure anyone else realized it was an anniversary day of sorts. bob didn't say anything to me about it nor did the boys when i talked to them about the lunar eclipse last night. but that's ok too. life goes on and i want them to be happy. i want to be happy too. i know i will always remember these days whether anyone else does but i was glad that yesterday came and went without sadness.

Friday, February 15, 2008

february 15, 2006

i apologize beforehand as i know this is a long post. last year i didn't have time to write down my thoughts due to caregiving for russ so 2 years later i am.

my mom and i were always close. we were able to share a lot of things and so enjoyed doing things together as well; shopping, going out to eat, playing golf, watching tv or movies, reading books together, and just talking and laughing. even though russ and i shared something very special together, having the same birthday, if i am totally honest with myself, i always felt russ and sue were closer and maybe i felt a little closer to my mom. yet i know they both loved us both as i did them. i was very blessed to have two such wonderful, loving and supportive parents.

christmas of 2005 gene and russ stayed with me and my family. every year they alternated whose house they stayed at so as to be "even." russ was noticeably and drastically slipping at that time so i was able to have some good "heart to heart" talks with my mom as to what may lie ahead and some tough decisions she might have to make. after they went back to door county after christmas, i discussed with my sister how one of us should call them every day to check in with them. i also made the 3 hour trip up north for a day every other week. my mom was still playing bridge approx. 2x/week which meant russ was alone for up to 4 hours. not a good thing but my mom needed to keep some part of her life for just her. russ could no longer make a sandwich for himself although he would tell you he could. we encouraged my mom to make it for him before she left and write a note as to where she was and when she would be home.

on february 15, 2006 it was my day to call and i did early afternoon. as soon as russ answered the phone i could tell he was extremely anxious. i tried talking to him calmly and asked him if gene was there. he stated he didn't know. i heard him call for her but no answer. i asked him if he had eaten lunch and he didn't know. he kept mumbling about a note that said something about door county memorial hospital ER with a number. i didn't think too much about it because i knew one of the bridge groups my mom played for was the hospital auxiliary and they indeed did play at the hospital.

i asked russ if gene might be taking a nap and he said he didn't know but he would go check. bad idea. i knew he would forget that he had been on the phone. sure enough. now i had a real problem. i knew if i hung up i would lose the connection with him. i started screaming his name into the phone. this went on for at least 5 minutes. not long after i could hear a voice in the background talking to russ. soon afterwards i could tell it wasn't my mom's voice but one of her best friends. i could hear she was asking him if he had either mine or sue's phone number. all russ could say is "gene has it here somewhere." i kept screaming and hoping jinx would look near the phone and hear me or see the phone was off the hook.

my prayer was answered. jinx picked up the phone and told me that she had been gone but when she returned there was a message from the emergency department stating that gene was there, she had collapsed at bridge and was taken to the ER. they were able to revive her and she asked them to call jinx and see if she would go look in after russ. jinx called the ER back but they wouldn't give her any more information since she wasn't family except they would be flying gene to green bay for further evaluation.

i quickly hung up and called the emergency department. luckily being a small town, even with HIPPA, they were able to update me. my mom had not been transferred to green bay as when they were getting ready to load her into the helicopter she coded again. they had been working on her for the past 40 minutes when i called but with little success. the ER nurse, barb, was wonderful and kind. she described to me what was going on. they were able to get her heart going but there was no perfusion (or blood flow) in her extremities. her skin was mottled and they were unable to get a blood pressure. barb's best guess was that gene had a leaking aneurysm which then had ruptured. the next question for me was did i know if my mom had a living will and what her wishes would be, should they continue and hook her up to life support or let her go.

in the course of a few minutes i had to decide between life and death for my mom, my mother! i knew she had a living will and had instructed that she did not want to be hooked up to life support. she knew that would be no quality of life. my mom had always been such a vibrant, giving and loving person. she would not want to live like that. when i relayed that to barb she kindly told me that was the loving thing to do. she would do the same if it were her mom. she told me that in the short time she spent time with my mom when she was awake and alert, how gene was so sweet and cooperative and obviously loved and was concerned about russ being left alone. barb stated if we kept her alive she would never be the mom i knew as her brain and other organs had been without oxygenated blood for so long.

i had barely gotten off the phone with barb and was explaining it all to bob when the ER doc called me back to say my mom had died. i felt numb. what was i going to do? how would i tell my sister, much less russ? somehow i got through all that and the rest is history. russ came down to milwaukee to live out the rest of his life.

i truly believe my mom had no idea the severity of what was happening to her. as i stated, she and i were always close and i know that she would have asked to call me if she thought it was so life threatening. i thank God she did have enough where with all to call jinx to go stay with russ until we could drive up there. i also thank God for having a nurse like barb who was with her so that she wasn't alone at the end. i will never forget barb and am glad she was there to hold my mom's hand when i couldn't. barb even came to gene's visitation. this was a nurse who met my mom for the first time when she came into the ER. i'm not surprised that my mom touched barb's life, she had a way of doing that with everyone who met her.

i also thank God for sparing gene the last 19 months of russ' life. she had done so much for him, had been with him every step of the way and suffered silently alone for so long. my mom was a very proud and stubborn woman who hated to admit that she needed help. she also kept a lot of her feelings in and didn't let others know how she felt. i guess i can be a lot like my mom in that way. but most importantly i thank God for bringing me into this world, to have had a mother like gene, to teach me so many things. i miss you terribly every day. i know i miss you more this year than last year as i have had time to grieve you now but i hope you would be proud of me. i tried to continue what you did, caring for russ and surrounding him with love and security.

i will love you forever and never forget you. i think of you when i see a mystery book or a crossword puzzle. i think of you when i go out to eat and see certain foods on the menu. i think of you at the most unpredictable of times as well as the predictable ones. i think of you every day. yet i also thank God that you and russ are together again, with God, where you both are safe, and happy and loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy 'tines day!

i just wanted to wish every one a happy valentine's day and let you know i'm thinking of you today. you all have a very special place in my heart!

Monday, February 11, 2008


when i was younger i used to dream a lot. for the most part they were happy or funny or even strange dreams. they seemed very vivid when i first woke up but then as the day wore on they faded from my memory. i think that is probably true of most people. one recurring dream i had as a youngster, or maybe it was more a nightmare, seemed to repeat itself and last forever. i was probably about 8 or 10 years old. i can still remember it. wolves would somehow get into our house and chase me around the kitchen. i would climb up on the counter tops to try to escape them. they would bark and snap at me until i woke from my dream. to this day whenever i hear the theme song from "peter and the wolf" it sends chills up my spine.

chris posted a week ago that she has been having nightmares. it got me to thinking. i can honestly say that since my mother died almost 2 years ago i have not dreamed. i seriously cannot remember waking up one single morning since her death having had a dream. i wonder if i will ever dream again.

Monday, February 4, 2008

pure beauty

a friend of mine in book club is a master gardener. pat is also a very thoughtful and giving person. in november she gave me a white amaryllis plant in memory of russ that she hoped would bloom around Christmas. it actually bloomed in the beginning of december but lasted until almost the end of the month. it had 3 large flowers and was absolutely beautiful. about the time it died i noticed that another shoot had started growing. i mentioned it to pat and she said that it did not happen often but wasn't totally uncommon either. she told me how to care for it and that if this one bloomed, it could remind me of my mother.

well, this one fully bloomed a few days ago. this one has 4 large flowers, each one more beautiful than the next. the pictures above are of this blooming. like a fool i forgot to take pictures of the one blooming in december. it stands about 40" high and i had to put a stake in as it was starting to lean. the flowers are about 8" in diameter and absolutely gorgeous.

i like to look at symbolism in a lot of things in life. the first bloom had only 3 flowers, one for russ, my sister and me. this current one for my mom has 4 flowers, including her this time. i anticipate that it will be done blooming as we approach the 2 year anniversary of her death. what a wonderful plant to be able to look at every day and enjoy. i know both gene and russ would have enjoyed it as well.

p.s. as an update on the job front, the phone interview went well. i am to anticipate getting a call in 3-5 days to set up a face to face interview for the case management position. i also spoke with the gal about the oncology position. unfortunately they are still working on the job description BUT she is very interested in me so she will have HR set the ball in motion about the job i originally applied for and when the new one is finalized we can potentially look into that as well. so hopefully in the next week or so i should be able to make an informed decision about what is the best fit. i will keep you all updated.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

end of the month

the end of the month came and went. i have not heard back about the oncology job i am interested in. another company called me yesterday about a position in case management. while not a passion for me, the fact that i could input data from home and somewhat set my own schedule sounds appealing.

this second company will call me monday morning for about a 20 minute phone interview (or so i'm told). these phone interviews continue to amaze me. i understand it may streamline things on their end, but what happened to the face to face talk, gut feeling impressions? although, the thought of being able to do this in my jammies is right up my alley, especially if i find it is not what i'm looking for. after i finish with that, i will call the other place and see what the status of the new position is. i'm hoping that soon i will have a clear sign of what is meant for me.

i talked to pastor dave last week. as i have blogged before patience has never been a strong suit for me. he assured me that the Spirit works in ways we do not always understand so hang in there. still, this patience thing is beginning to wear thin....

i hope everyone remembered to say "rabbit rabbit" yesterday!