Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...actually I don't have to dream, a white Christmas is a reality! Minnesota is blanketed in snow, again. This morning we had a fresh coating of snow. I shoveled the walks and driveway. In PA where I am spending Christmas, they now have snow thanks to the storm that blew in on Saturday. Hopefully it won't melt before I get there!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my blogger friends. I know this can be a hard time of year for all of us. My hope for all is a blessed season with the ones we love.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recession hits Rust Belt towns hard - Washington Post-

My heart aches for the people in this article who have lost their jobs and are barely surviving in this recession. And some people are complaining about a smaller bonus. Go figure.

Recession hits Rust Belt towns hard - Washington Post-

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Night of Remembrance

It's a clear, cold night tonight, similar to the night almost a year ago that Mom passed away. Tonight I attended an event at Mom's assisted living facility. It was a gathering to remember those who had passed away in 2009. The staff and families of other residents remembered us even though Mom was there only 4 months. We reminisced about each loved one who had passed away which brought both laughs and tears to the group. I was sad to see those who followed Mom to Heaven, and I was surprised to find many of the staff still there. I think that says a lot about the type of care they gave to our loved ones. All of them hugged me and asked how I was doing, how my sister is doing and they told me how much they missed having Mom under their care. Many of the residents live on, cared for by staff and family who love and cherish them. After each name was read and memories were shared, an ornament engraved with the name of the loved one was hung on a tree. After all of the names were read the tree was lit. It was a very special way to remember Mom during this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Always on the Edge of Grief

Today I picked up my mail and opened a card from Mom's assisted living facility. They are having a Night of Remembrance later this month. Instantly I burst into fresh tears thinking of Mom. They are remembering former residents who have passed in 2009 by placing a personally engraved tree ornament on their Tree of Remembrance. Grief is strange, the littlest things can cause it to surface in a big way.

On the weather front, we've had our first snowstorm. We've got about 4-5 inches of snow and it is blowing around causing problems with visibility. It is also bitterly cold, 8 degrees with a windchill of -15. Isn't that exciting? The cold air is pouring in from Canada (can't they keep their cold to themselves?). We aren't supposed to see temps in the 30s for several more days. Winter is here with a vengeance. I thought this was an El Nino year?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I am being haunted. Haunted by memories of Mom. When I go for my massage, I think of the many times that Mom and I went there for her haircuts and perms. Pier 1 was one of her favorite stores; thus whenever I cross the threshold into that store I think of her and I smile. Places and things cause memories to come flooding back. In my dreams, Mom and/or Dad are usually there and I fight to stay asleep so that I can spend time with them. I lie in bed at night and see the walls that Mom saw every night, and I listen to the stillness of our house knowing that Mom felt that stillness for hours day after day while I was at work and she was stuck at home. I remember her anger about this, but I know that it was best that she not be out driving on her own in the early stages. My greatest fear was that she would become confused and get lost. Or worse. This time is especially hard.

My Mom loved the holiday season. She would bake cut out sugar cookies and we would decorate them. She would make rock candy and we kids would cut the hot candy into pieces that we first rolled in powdered sugar. I remember the burned finger tips we all had from this, year after year. Mom would put the brightly colored candy into glass jars that she decorated and give them as presents to teachers, relatives and friends. She also would make candle holders using broken green and clear glass. Our house was decorated inside and out. Christmas mini lights were strung on our fir tree (which the neighbor kids ripped down every year) and my grandfather's ten dollars would be used to purchase a lovely Douglas fir tree at the local tree lot. Many times I went with Mom to pick out the tree. Later, when we moved to Minnesota, we would go as a family to a tree farm and cut our own tree, hauling it back to the car and bringing it home where it inevitably had to be cut smaller because we had overestimated the size of our living room. Each year we vowed that 'next year we'll pick a smaller tree' but of course we never did. Christmas Eve meant a candlelight service at church around midnight preceded by a party with friends. On Christmas morning we would be surprised by the gifts that Mom and Dad had purchased for us. My brother would search the house for weeks beforehand trying to find the unwrapped presents. At first he succeeded, but Mom was wise to his ways; she would hide his presents at the neighbor's.

May the memories of the holiday season fill you heart with peace and joy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! This will be my first Thanksgiving ever without my mom. I've had several grief-stricken moments about this. I miss her so much. It doesn't seem possible that it was only last year that she was with me and we were enjoying our meal together at CB. This year, I'm blessed to be invited to join friends for Thanksgiving dinner. That will help me to remember Mom yet not be alone.

I've started to move ahead with life, including sorting through some of Mom's things. I haven't been able to part with her clothes yet, but I'm getting there.

Meanwhile, Alzheimer's claimed the father of my co-worker on Sunday. And two more friends have loved ones who have been diagnosed with this heinous disease.

I've become addicted to I've purchased a wonderful knitted aviator hat from a woman in Tasmania, an adorable charm necklace from a woman right near me and some stitch markers. I love to browse and see the amazing things that others have made. Check it out sometime.

Monday, October 26, 2009

H1N1 Flu Information

In Minnesota we have been seeing widespread cases of H1N1 flu. For more information check out

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Premium Problem

Factcheck has found some problems with a study on the health insurance bill that was paid for by the health insurance lobby.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Premium Problem

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Saturday, October 10, 2009


I am watching "Apollo 13" and thinking back to the first time I saw it. Back when Mom and Dad had first moved into their new house, before Dad was diagnosed with end stage lung cancer and Mom still was sharp as a pin, we rented the movie. But the only VCR in the house was in their bedroom so we all three piled onto their bed and watched this amazing movie. Dad was not a movie watcher, really. His favorite movie of all time (and probably the last one he ever saw in a movie theatre) was "Patton". Once the VCR was invented he became much more interested in movies and would actually watch a few with us. This was one of those memorable moments. We watched "Pretty Woman" together. He liked Julia Roberts (who doesn't?). Mom loved movies. Watching them was a pleasant pastime that we shared. I miss them both so much. But I have such wonderful memories.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brett Favre, Minnesota Viking

How surreal was it to watch Brett Favre take on his former team last night and beat them? I'm not usually a football fan but since Dancing with the Stars was pre-empted here by the game, I watched it and found it to be quite interesting, and a good game! Way to go Brett, I'm becoming a believer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Forbes 400: Poor, poor billionaires - MSN Money

Forbes 400: Poor, poor billionaires - MSN Money

The 10 richest Americans lost a combined $39.2 billion in the past 12 months, a 14% decline.  $39.2 billion. That could help a lot of people.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today I learned from a coworker that her mother is struggling with cognitive issues and it makes me sad. I try to move on from Alzheimer's but it's not letting me. Everywhere I turn there is someone suffering from this disease. It has been a little over 7 months since I lost Mom. I miss her so much and I still grieve for her, but I feel like she is still right here with me. The strange thing is that I've felt this way since her passing. I talk to her and I tell her things like I used to do. I think about her and remember things we laughed about together. I've re-read my blog from those days one short year ago and I've cried, remembering how difficult it was to see Mom decline. I've beat myself up over how things evolved, and then I've turned around and forgiven myself for those same things. I know in my heart that Mom would not want me to feel guilty. I still have her things; I can't quite bring myself to open the boxes and sort through her clothes. They will keep for now. I've moved into the master bedroom of our house, a huge step for me. Some days are harder than others, but I plug away looking for a new purpose. And I count off the days, one by one, remembering events and occurrences as time passes. I miss you Mom.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

High Costs Yield High Benefits?

High Costs Yield High Benefits?

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"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:3)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday to my dad. Were he still alive, he would be 79 today. I miss you Dad.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today was a busy day for me capping off a busy week. I went to the salon and had my hair cut then I spent the afternoon working on my old laptop, trying to get it working again and I succeeded. Now I'm play to wipe it off and sell it. Or donate it.

My friend had a yard sale this weekend. He cleaned out his basement treasure trove and sold $1800 worth of treasures. Pretty amazing. He must have had some nice stuff.

I've made my reservations for the holidays. I plan to spend some time with my sister and her family in PA for Christmas. I just need to find a reliable sitter for my cats.

Autumn is in the air here. It was warm today, but the leaves on some trees are starting to change and there is a scent of fall in the air. I hope we have a long, beautiful season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beatles!

I am too young to remember the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. In fact I am too young to remember much about the Beatles prior to their breakup in 1972. Yet they have been a part of my life; their music is so familiar yet their song catalog is huge and every so often I hear a song of theirs that I had never heard before. Today their remastered song catalog was released and I'm hoping that soon their songs will be available on iTunes.

This weekend I scanned some grade school class pictures and posted them on my Facebook page. My friends and I have had a fun discussion about our times together, sharing memories and thinking back to those wonder years. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed. We are having a lot of fun catching up.

The days are really short now. I wake up to darkness and it's not too long before twilight descends in the evening. Summer is fleeting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The most amazing story of the year is the discovery of Jaycee Dugard alive and mostly well. It amazes me that in 18 years no one discovered her existence. I am so happy for her and her family and I hope that she can heal and get on with her life. It gives me hope that Jacob Wetterling is somewhere out there alive.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

What has happened to summer? It seems like just a few days ago I was awaiting its advent, I was looking forward to the long, warm summer days and hoping to savor each and every one of them. Well, the days are getting shorter, and the unofficial end of summer is just around the corner (Labor Day). It's 8:14 PM and twilight has fallen. At the summer solstice the sun sets here after 9:00 PM. It has been a pleasant but cool summer this year. My patio plants are thriving.

At work I am busy helping to plan for influenza season. We are planning for the worst and hoping for the best. The spring blip of H1N1 Novel Influenza (swine flu) caught us in the laboratory off guard but we were able to learn some valuable lessons from it.

This summer I have been occupied with reading the Twilight saga. For some reason I find these books to be page turners for me. It's been so long since I've been able to enjoy reading for it's sheer pleasure.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who Are the Uninsured?

Where I work, if you get sick and need to take an extended leave, first you use up your vacation and sick leave. Once you have exhausted both of these then you must go begging to your co-workers for 'vacation donation'. Your co-workers can each donate up to 12 hours of their accrued vacation time to you. Once this runs out, you lose your health insurance. Just when you need it the most, it's gone. How fair is that?

Here is an interesting link that explains who the uninsured are. You might be surprised to learn that most of them hold down a job.

And here is another interesting concept; insurance for in case you lose your health insurance.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

From Palin vs Obama "Death Panels"

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End of life counseling is a hairy subject for anyone. This bill is not endorsing "killing Grandma". How many of us are prepared for end of life, especially if we become ill and cannot make our wishes known? If my mom had not filled out a Living Will, and I hadn't already known her wishes, then her end of life care would not have consisted of the excellent care given to her by hospice (and paid for in it's entirety by Medicare). My mom choose not to prolong her life via artificial means such as feeding tubes. I respected her wishes. My mom stated that if needed, she wanted hospice care. Again I conceded to her wishes. But what if I didn't know her wishes? Based on how much I loved my mom I can tell you that I would have done ANYTHING to prolong her life. But would any of this have changed the final outcome? We'll never know that, only God knows for sure.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Different Kind of Tiger

The PGA is in town playing their tournament at Hazeltine Golf Course. Tonight when I was driving home, I could see blimps in the distance, hovering over the course. Down the street from my house I see the buses that ferry spectators to the course throughout the day. The small airport near my home has been busier, with small jets taking off and landing. I haven't seen Tiger Woods yet, but that would be fun. It has been hot and windy here today, probably not ideal golf weather.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Titan and Lilly: Together at Last

I love this video of Lilly and Titan. Enjoy! These tigers were rescued from horrible conditions and now are in their forever home where they can play and live the rest of their lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I have needed to fill the bird feeder nearly every day. Sometimes when I look out at the feeder I see half dozen birds hanging on the perches. My cats are entertained by the birds who they can see but not eat. I think a lot of the birds are juveniles because their coloring is off. I love to watch them, that's something I picked up from my parents.

Today is my cat Lily's 10th birthday. I still remember the day that I adopted her, she was such a little kitten. She has been through thick and thin with me, always by my side, always filled with unconditional love. We will always have a special bond.

My grief has been closer to the surface lately, I'm not sure why. But grief is like the ocean; it ebbs and flows. I've learned that there is no expiration date on grief, it just is. And it's different for each and every one of us. I've also found some solace here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

PolitiFact | Our latest guide to the health care distortions

PolitiFact | Our latest guide to the health care distortions

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Also check out this web site from the Whitehouse. Do you really think that the party that has fought so hard for safety nets and social reform wants to euthanize the elderly and disabled? That's just crazy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

QOTD: "Somebody needs to get up and start talking about unifying this country again."
— Susan Eisenhower, July 24, 2009

Today I saw a hummingbird zoom right up to my window and hover. They are such amazing creatures, I am always fascinated by them.

It has turned slightly humid here today, which feels weird; it's been unseasonably cool here for the past week. But I'm not complaining as long as summer sticks around.

More soundbites from Real Time with Bill Maher

[The Republicans] want to score a political win...But, they have no problem letting 50 million Americans suffer without health insurance. – Anthony Woods

We're going to have to find a solution to healthcare because the boomers are going to be retire soon and are going to create enormous distortions in an already distorted system. – Susan Eisenhower

I would love to have some journalist ask a Republican who talks about socialized medicine: If it's so awful, how come it's what we have for our veterans? – Bill Maher

The Republicans are a sideshow here, compared to the failure of the Democratic Party to get its shit together. – John Heilemann

The Democrats, whenever they're given a chance, controlling all three branches of the government, are tied in knots and can't get anywhere. – John Heilemann

They're not hospitals anymore. They're Jiffy Lube's with bedpans. – Bill Maher

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Jackson 5 - Rockin' Robin 1972 RARE

I cannot tell you the number of times this song has been sung to me throughout my life.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Well, I finally did it. A few weeks ago I moved my furniture into the master bedroom and moved Mom's furniture into my old bedroom, now the guest room. I also had the master bath, guest room and guest bathroom painted fresh, bright colors. I still have flashbacks of Mom; when she fell on the floor, but I try not to think about the bad times, and memories of the good times are breaking through those difficult memories. I still need to sort through Mom's clothes, but that will keep for now.

Today I am joining my neighbors for a 4th of July picnic. It should be fun, I only hope that the sun comes out and that the clouds move on.

I have many special 4th of July memories; during my childhood 4th of July was spent on our boat, the Water Wagon, which we docked at a yacht club on the Saginaw River in Michigan. We would usually watch the fireworks from our boat anchored somewhere on the river. Another special year was when we viewed the fireworks from the deck of the yacht Helene which was docked along the river. One year, after we had moved to Duluth, our friends Cpt. Bernie and Susie Cooper invited us to view the fireworks from the pilot house of the Edwin H. Gott which was docked in Duluth Harbor over the 4th. And then there was the year that all of the fireworks went off at once in Duluth. Luckily no one was hurt but it sure was a racket!

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version

For all the music video lovers who could never figure out what the symbolism in videos meant. This is hilarious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Friends and Dear Friends

A most amazing thing has happened on Facebook. I have found my best friends from grade school! It never ceases to amaze me that one can reconnect with old and dear friends on that social networking web site. I moved away at 14 when my dad was transferred to Minnesota over 30 years ago. It was the summer before ninth grade and we really had no chance to say goodbye. Over the years I have thought of them often and wondered how they were doing. Now I know! I know about their families, marriages and children. One of my friends is living kitty corner from the house that I grew up in and she has promised to take pictures when she has time. I chuckle to see the friends in common between us. I feel blessed to have them back in my life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Today would have been Mom's 77th birthday. Happy Birthday Mommy. We love you and miss you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Generosity Abounds

On a day that is marked by tragedy I am reminded of the unbelievable compassion and generosity of my friends. Today when I arrived home there was a package on my porch. I hadn't remembered ordering anything so I was very curious. I tore open the box and found two books that I had put on a wish list. I use my wish list as a way to keep track of things I'd like to eventually order; I never expect someone to use it and send me something from it. But one of my friends (and you know who you are!) not only took the time to look up my list, but also ordered two items that I had on it and had them delivered to me. You, my friend, have reminded me of the generosity and care that exists in this world, and that it far outweighs the evil and hate that we are more likely to see on a daily basis. I can't thank you enough for adding a great deal of happiness and sunshine to my day. Thank you very much not only for my gift, but also for being such an amazing person. If it's OK with you I'm going to 'pay it forward'. I know of someone who needs a day brightener.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My recommendations at included several coloring books, books on Alzheimer's and chair pads. All of these things remind me of Mom. Not to mention that today is my birthday, my first without either of my parents. Birthdays are special in my family, always have been. I have been trying to avoid thinking about today mostly because thoughts of it make me really sad. But somehow, now that this day is here, I'm not really that sad. I still miss my mom and my dad, but others have taken on the task of remembering my day. My sister and brother-in-law sent a beautiful basket of flowers and a lovely card, as did my aunt and uncle. Good friends of my parents sent me a lovely e-card. It's nice to know that even though things have changed they are still sort of the same.

It's raining today; we need rain desperately. Everything is becoming green again.

Now that June is here, summer is going to switch into hyper speed and fly by so I have to make the most of each day, even the cold rainy ones.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Last night I watched the perfect Memorial Day movie on HBO called "Taking Chance". It is the true story of a marine Lt. colonel escorting the remains of a fellow marine, Chance Phelps, on his final journey from Dover Airforce base to his final resting place in his hometown in Wyoming. PFC Chance Phelps was only 20 when he was killed in Iraq on Good Friday in 2004. Like many, he was motivated to join the marines by the events of September 11. Despite being wounded, he refused to be evacuated, and instead manned his M240 machine gun to cover the evacuation of the rest of his convoy. Upon withdrawal, he sustained his fatal wound to the head. Even though similar stories have played out across America since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, it was moving in so many ways to me. It was touching to see the respect that employees of Northwest Airlines gave their precious cargo as it traveled across the country. There was no fanfare, just quiet reverence for a brave young man who paid the highest price for his country. I will always remember PFC Chance Phelps and his story, not because it was unique, but because Lt. Colonel Strobl was so moved by his experience that he decided to share it with us. And that is what I will remember on this Memorial Day, those who have given their lives so that I might live free in a country I love.

I also remember my Mom and Dad and I miss them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Service of Remembrance

Tonight I attended the hospice service of remembrance. It was very well attended, several hundred people were there. The service was to remember loved ones who passed away under the care of the hospice. In the center of the photo, left, are candles in remembrance of each loved one. It was a beautiful, balmy evening with a temperature in the 80s. The location was quite lovely, on a pond in a beautiful setting. They had music and readings for this solemn occasion. They read the names of every person who was represented by loved ones at the service. I shed tears for both Mom and Dad.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Heart Disorder Linked To Alzheimer's Disease

ScienceDaily (May 15, 2009) — Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City believe that they have made a breakthrough connection between atrial fibrillation, a fairly common heart rhythm disorder, and Alzheimer's disease, the leading form of dementia among Americans.

In a study presented May 15, at "Heart Rhythm 2009," the annual scientific sessions of the Heart Rhythm Society in Boston, researchers unveiled findings from the study of more than 37,000 patients that showed a strong relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

The study, which drew upon information from the Intermountain Heart Collaborative Study, a vast database from hundreds of thousands of patients treated at Intermountain Healthcare hospitals, found:

  • Patients with atrial fibrillation were 44 percent more likely to develop dementia than patients without the heart disorder.
  • Younger patients with atrial fibrillation were at higher risk of developing all types of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's. Atrial fibrillation patients under age 70 were 130 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's.
  • Patients who have both atrial fibrillation and dementia were 61 percent more likely to die during the study period than dementia patients without the rhythm problem.
  • Younger atrial fibrillation patients with dementia may be at higher risk of death than older AF patients with dementia.

Intermountain Medical Center cardiologist T. Jared Bunch, M.D., the study's lead researcher, presented the findings at the scientific session.

"Previous studies have shown that patients with atrial fibrillation are at higher risk for some types of dementia, including vascular dementia. But to our knowledge, this is the first large-population study to clearly show that having atrial fibrillation puts patients at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Bunch.

Alzheimer's is a devastating brain disease affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans. It is the most common form of dementia (a general term for life-altering loss of memory and other cognitive abilities), and accounts for 60-80 percent of all dementia cases. Today, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Currently, the known risk factors for Alzheimer's are age, family history and genetics, though injury may also be linked with the disease. Heart health has long been suspected to play a role, but has not been linked. The Intermountain Medical Center study bolsters that connection.

"The study shows a connection between atrial fibrillation and all types of dementia," said Bunch. "The Alzheimer's findings — particularly the risk of death for younger patients — break new ground."

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm problem, affecting about 2.2 million Americans. It occurs when the heart beats chaotically, leading blood to pool and possibly clot. If the clot leaves the heart, a stroke can result.

The Intermountain Medical Center study looked at five years of data for 37,025 patients. Of that group, 10,161 developed AF and 1,535 developed dementia during the study period.

The study authors say more research is needed to explore further the relationship between atrial fibrillation and the development of Alzheimer's disease.

"Now that we've established this link, our focus will be to see if early treatment of atrial fibrillation can prevent dementia or the development of Alzheimer's disease," says cardiologist John Day, M.D., director of heart rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center and a co-author of the study.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is the Economic Value of Caregiving?

AARP recently released a comprehensive report on the economic value of caregiving. If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease, it's important to know how your informal caregiving affects our currently fragile economy. Consider these facts:

  • In 2007, approximately 34 million family members were providing informal caregiving at any given point.
  • Approximately 52 million family members provided informal caregiving at some time during 2007.
  • The estimated value of unpaid caregiving for 2007 was $375 billion.
  • This is an increase over the 2006 estimated value of unpaid caregiving, which was $350 billion.
  • $375 billion is comparable to the total sales of Wal-Mart stores in the same year.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare was more than long-term care Medicaid spending in all states.
  • In 36 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than three times as high as long-term Medicaid spending.
  • The economic value of unpaid eldercare, including caring for those with Alzheimer's, was more than three times as high as spending on home- and community-based Medicaid services.
  • In 19 states, the economic value of caregiving was more than ten times as high as home- and community-based Medicaid spending.
  • Unpaid caregiving includes personal care and help with daily tasks as well as assistance with complex medical procedures and administering medications.
  • The “typical” caregiver in the United States is a 46-year-old woman working outside the home who provides more than 20 hours a week of eldercare to her mother.
  • Those providing eldercare reported spending an average of $5,531 out-of-pocket for caregiving expenses in 2007.
  • Long-distance caregivers reported the highest out-of-pocket expenses ($8,728) while those caring for someone nearby reported average out-of-pocket caregiving expenses of $4,570.

The report points out that family caregivers are the “backbone” of the United States’ long-term care system. I couldn’t agree more.


Valuing the invaluable: The economic value of family caregiving, 2008 update. AARP Public Policy Institute. 2008

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blue Zones

I just watched an interesting piece on Dateline about 'blue zones', or places where people live long, healthy lives. If you look at the website for blue zones, you will see several things that these people do that researchers thing extend their lives and keep them disease-free. How many of these things do we do here in the US? Not very many. Our lives are too fast paced and stressful.

On another note, I hope the mothers who read this had a wonderful day today. I thought often and fondly of my own Mom today.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Alzheimer’s Doc Will Screen Around the Web

by R. Thomas Umstead -- Multichannel News, 5/4/2009 12:00:00 AM MT

In a rare sharing of its original content, HBO will offer its four-part Alzheimer’s Project to various online video services in an effort to provide greater exposure for the series.

YouTube, iTunes, MySpace and Facebook will all offer portions of the four-part series, which runs on HBO over four consecutive nights beginning May 10, as well as 15 supplemental films surrounding the series, according to HBO documentary films president Sheila Nevins. The two-year project takes a close look at the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on those that suffer from it and their families, as well as scientific discoveries and ongoing efforts to fight the disease.

“We do certain public-service programs that are of value to those that are and are not HBO subscribers,” she said. “It’s a corporate outreach effort dealing with subjects that we feel have been underserved by the media, including cancer and addiction. We felt Alzheimer’s was perfect for a public service outreach campaign.”

As part of its outreach effort, HBO will make the full series and supplemental shorts available on, beginning May 8. The videos will be made sharable and can be embedded for anyone who wants to post on their own Web sites.

HBO on Demand will also make the entire series and supplemental films available beginning May 8, the network said.

Outside of HBO, Apple’s iTunes Store on May 8 will offer an exclusive preview of the first feature film, The Memory Loss Tapes on May 8, with subsequent films available starting May 11. The same day, an exclusive preview of the second of the four films, Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am, will run on HBO’s YouTube site.

MySpace will run trailers and clips from the project on its MySpace Impact channel beginning May 8, part of its Alzheimer’s Awareness Week presentation. In addition, MySpace will run an exclusive preview of the third film in the series, Momentum in Science, on its Myspace page (, according to the network.

Facebook will offer a dedicated page to the project featuring an exclusive preview of Caregivers, the last of the four films. The social networking site was slated to launch a Tribute Wall May 1 that would accept user-generated photos and memories of loved ones, as well as to serve as an interactive, personal account of the disease.

In addition, the network will work with local organizations to co-host over 20 community screenings and provide 5,000 screener kits to select organizations to host their own events.

Nevins said the special should appeal to a cross-section of viewers either experiencing the disease themselves or through a family member. Nevertheless, she said that overall HBO viewership of the project will not in itself determine the success or failure of the undertaking.

“I don’t know how you can measure the numbers in the traditional way that says X number of people watched it because it’s not a conventional show — you can access it when you want to watch it through the various platforms,” she said. “But I think it’s already a success just being out there because it’s needed information for many people.”

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

H1N1 Novel Influenza

My employer is the state department of health. We have been preparing for public health emergencies such as an influenza pandemic for many years. Some key points to remember include: You can't get this influenza by eating pork products. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizers can help you avoid getting sick. And if you are feeling ill, running a fever, coughing or achy, stay home away from others and call your doctor. We have been calling it H1N1 Novel Influenza rather than swine flu in order to take the heat off of pigs. This could be devastating for the pork industry.

I am very proud of my colleagues at the health department. In the past they have cracked many stubborn cases of foodborne illness, tracing the origins to peanuts and serrano peppers. They are a world class group of scientists and professionals who take their jobs very seriously and they work very hard to protect the health not only of this state but of this country.

This could turn into a serious situation. Around 36,000 people die from influenza every year in this country. With a flu pandemic that number could skyrocket. In 1918 hundreds of thousands of people perished from the Spanish flu. You can read more about it here in Wikipedia. The current strain is of the same subtype, H1N1, as the 1918 outbreak, but it is a strain that has never been seen before and that is why it has been given special attention.

It is important to be cautious yet remain vigilant about this outbreak. There is valuable information on the Centers for Disease Control's website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grey's Anatomy

If you watched Grey's Anatomy tonight you might have noticed a lot of purple. It was to support the Alzheimer's Association.

Last week I ordered a Move shirt from them.

We had an absolutely gorgeous day today. It was 85 and sunny. And I thought of Mom, of course. The last time it was this warm was on Labor Day 2008. A weekend of struggling for me and Mom. She was immobile and I was exhausted from caring for her. So much can happen in a short period of time. Remember to stop and smell the roses in life. This moment is our only guarantee.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tonight I found a video clip that I had filmed of Mom with my Flip video camera back in 2007. It is so cute and it reminds me of her goofy side. I miss her so much. She and I used to have goofy, good times like this all the time and I miss them. Even so, it makes me smile and remember good times with her before the Alzheimer's ravaged her brain.
Tonight is the premiere of "The Alzheimer's Project". I hope Annie is having a good time and her Mom is doing fine at the spa. I can't wait to see the documentary even though I know it is going to be painful to watch. I'm sure I will go through many kleenexes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle - Singer - Britains Got Talent 2009 (With Lyrics)

It seems that the embedding feature has been disabled, probably by the producers of 'Britain's Got Talent' So instead you need to click to see the video on Youtube. It's well worth it.

Fairy tales CAN come true! This is a heartwarming story and I love the look on Simon's face when he realizes that she is an amazing singer! Bloody fantastic, I hope she goes all the way and wins the contest.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today was the first day of the year where we could actually be outside without jackets. It was a beautiful day weather-wise. I kept wishing that Mom was here to enjoy this lovely day with me. She would have celebrated the warmth and unofficial end to winter with me. As I sat outside on our patio I thought of her and shed some tears.

I had a very nice Easter. My friend invited me to join her at 'the orphan's holiday' and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The orphans are all people who are from out of state or who are students. I felt comfortable right away with this group. And I even received an Easter basket for the first time in many, many years. It made my first Easter without Mom a little bit easier and I'm grateful to them for thinking of me and including me in their celebration.

I love animals in case you already haven't figured that out from my previous posts. They always greet you with such joy and happiness, they make you feel like at that moment you are the most important person in the world. The are never judgmental and they are always glad to see you. They give true, unconditional love. Tonight I saw my neighbors and their dogs. These dogs always greet me with such love and happiness. It makes me feel good. My cats are my blessings. I love them so much.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wildcat Easter Egg Hunt

This sanctuary is in Minnesota and does an awesome job of caring for wildcats that have been abandoned or surrendered. Hopefully someday people will no longer be allowed to purchase or own these beautiful cats.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Alzheimer's Project

In May HBO will broadcast a documentary in four parts called The Alzheimer's Project. The producers had contacted me last August during the time we were preparing to place Mom. They wanted to know if we would allow them to film us during that time. After giving it careful thought we decided not to participate; it would be too painful. As it turns out, we would have shown that the best laid plans often go wrong. The program will air May 10th at 9pm. You can watch the trailer by clicking on the Alzheimer's Project link below. I've watched it and it brought tears to my eyes especially when they showed a woman's progression based on how her looks and demeanor changed. It reminded me of Mom in her last few months. Had we participated it would be so painful to watch. It will be painful to watch anyway. I also found that you can pre-order the DVD on Amazon. I miss my mom.

My sister told me something that Mom said one of the last times they were together. She thought I would be offended so she had never told me about it. Mom, in one of her lucid moments, told my sister that she didn't understand why I couldn't keep the clutter under control in our house. This is classic Mom for me and rather than being offended I was thrilled that my Mom was still in there. My sister said she felt the same way, thinking 'my mom is still in there after all'. Love you Mom :)

Alzheimer's project

Monday, March 30, 2009

For those who care to read about the economic recession, this is a very interesting article from this week's Time magazine called "The End of Excess: Is This Crisis Good for America?"


I've been thinking a lot about Mom, replaying her last years over in my brain. I know I shouldn't do this but I can't help it. I think about the fact that she was stuck at home all day, alone, while I was at work. She must have been stir crazy. Moving her in with me really isolated her and I feel so bad about that. Some of the pain is starting to surface and it hurts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I fully intend to maintain a clutter-free environment. I have frequent decluttering sessions only to find within a week's time that the clutter has reappeared, mysteriously. I'm away from home 48 hours a week, yet somehow, I am able to accumulate clutter in the few hours between the time I arrive home from work and the time that I hit the sack. I'm convinced that this stuff reproduces like rabbits, how else can it possibly accumulate? My parents were exact opposites when it came to clutter: Mom was spartan with nary a thing out of place. Dad, on the other hand, was the king of clutter. If he had one of something than you could guarantee that somewhere down the line you would find at least 2 more. Mom was not a collector of things, Dad collected books, tools and electronics. And watches. So you guess I could say I'm like my dad in some ways. I collect shoes. And scrapbook items. And things that are of sentimental value to me. I still haven't opened the boxes which contain Mom's things from CB. I'm not ready for that. It's too soon. I haven't moved into the master bedroom of my house yet, though I've been making strides in that direction. I still think of it as Mom's room. But I'm also ready to move upstairs. That way I'll feel like an adult again. Maybe. Meanwhile, I'm trying to learn how to practice clutter control.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I ordered 3 butterfly bushes yesterday. My sister informed me that these bushes get really, really big so I looked at the description and yes indeed, they grow quite large. The description says to plant them 6-7 feet apart as they grow at least that wide and that tall. Although they are gorgeous and I would love to see the hummingbirds and butterflies that they attract, I think I'm going to have to cancel the order. I live in a townhouse and I'm not sure that the association would accept these large bushes. I'm disappointed.

Spring seems to be more of reality now. It's been sunny and in the 40s and 50s. We even had rain on Friday. The big huge snowpile near the end of my driveway is gone. That doesn't mean that we won't get any more snow, it just means that if we do, it probably won't stick around for very long.

I found Mom's sunglasses today while I was doing laundry. I held them for a while and thought about her.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I have been thinking a lot about the current world economic situation so I started googling. I found an interesting site about the Great Depression that seems to be well researched, with fascinating statistics that just prove to me, as an historian and political scientist, that those who neglect to learn their history are doomed to repeat it. So much of this looks familiar based upon what we are seeing today. Being a student of history, the recent developments in the world economy have frightened me greatly. Check this out and you will see why it was important that the Bush and Obama administrations act quickly to stem the hemorrhaging of the economy. I studied something called laissez faire capitalism pretty extensively in college and I decided that it was not a good basis for an economy. That doesn't mean that I am not a believer in the capitalist system, I am, I just believe that because humans can be greedy (sound familiar based on the last decade's events) there must be some sort of government intervention. I support something called modified market capitalism. I believe that President Obama supports this form of capitalism. This is an interesting essay that I found on Modified Market capitalism.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Now that the low riser steps are gone in the garage I'm so afraid that I'm going to forget and go bounding out the door and fall down the steps! You see, there used to be a huge platform right outside the door that was level with the bottom of the door. Now it's a step down right outside the door. I told my neighbors that if they see the door open and the car in the garage, they should check to make sure I'm not lying on the floor unconscious.

I met one of my neighbors at the mailboxes today, one whom I hadn't seen all winter. She asked me how Mom is. I told her the news. Sarah has a four year old whom Mom adored. Mom loved it when kids would come to visit and Katharine was not exception. It was a sad moment for both of us, and suddenly I missed Mom so very much. It was one of the moments that you who've lost loved ones know all too well. I've been trying so hard to remain positive and upbeat and so far I've been pretty successful. But sometimes my grief just washes over me like a tidal wave. My mantra is one day at a time.

I've been keeping myself distracted with my new iPhone. I love it! It's become a little addictive though and I have to stop using it all the time. It is awfully nice to have everything I need in one small device. I can listen to music, make phone calls, play games and keep up with my Facebook friends. I've even installed the free Amazon Kindle software and surprisingly the preview book I downloaded is easy to read. It's one more great feature that I will use extensively. I thought about purchasing a Kindle, even placed the order, but then a friend convinced me to get an iPhone and I'm so glad that I did. I canceled my Kindle order and instead upgraded my cell phone to the iPhone. There are tens of thousands of apps available for free or a nominal fee (usually less than six bucks). Some of the apps I have include a white noise generator (which is great to use at work when I need to concentrate), a sudoku game and an app called Yelp that pinpoints your location and lists restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations or whatever you need that are in your vicinity. There are recommendations from fellow Yelp users too. It makes me want to download the developer's toolkit and come up with an idea for a new app!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Today I came home to an empty garage. The low riser steps that we had had built for Mom were gone. I donated them to the Minnesota Center for Independent Living. Today they came and disassembled them. Strangely enough (or maybe not so strange) this made me very sad. It was like losing another piece of Mom. I wasn't expecting this to happen so quickly. I got a call at work this morning telling me that they wanted to come out today and remove the structure. I didn't even have time to clean off the platform, they did that. They even put the old railings up that had been on either side of the existing steps. I was quite pleased with a job well done.

Today it is 65F and people are out walking in my neighborhood. It's a welcome sight. The huge snow pile near my driveway melted away today. Mom would have loved today, she and I always looked forward to the first truly warm day of the year. I miss sharing that with her.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yesterday I met with the funeral planner that we used for Mom's memorial service. They gave me a free photograph of Mom with a poem, suitable for framing. While there, I ended up planning for my own demise. That was creepy. I wasn't expecting that. But, like a boy scout, I'm prepared. No money passed between us though.

It's snowing tonight. A cold front is coming through and by morning the temperature is expected to be in the single digits above zero. Ah Minnesota, so exhilarating. You've gotta love it. Unfortunately I am so over winter and ready for spring in a big way.

The story of Verne Gagne continues. I realize that the incident must be investigated because of the involvement of vulnerable adults. But just because he is famous he and his family are being dragged through the media. It's so wrong. I'm heartbroken for all involved, especially the family of Helmut Guttman.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Today I thought about Mom a lot. I'm not sure why, I think it's just one of those things. I sure do miss her. I wish she could answer me when I talk to her. I'd really like to hear some of her wisdom. Even if it's only her telling me to buck up. I'd be OK with that.

I'm also feeling out of sorts due to the switch to Daylight Savings Time. This earlier switch really stinks. I was just getting used to having daylight in the morning when I head to work and bam! now it's back to darkness. Does it really save energy?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sign of the Times

The other day I had a message at home from one of the clothing stores at the mall where I shop. They were calling to tell me that they are having a sale this weekend. Things have to be tough for them to call to tell me about a sale. I hope this particular store doesn't close, I really like shopping there.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A coworker of mine has been very sad lately. I could tell something was up and without trying to pry, I told her that if she needed to talk, I was available. She told me they had just learned that her husband has non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He's 30 years old. They have an adorable little boy who turns 1 this month. My heart goes out to this young family and I've been including them in my prayers. She told me that she went to learn about life insurance for her husband and the insurance agent, not knowing her situation, told her she was still young enough that if anything happened to her husband she would most likely remarry. This broke her heart; she can't imagine this. I feel so sad for her. It just goes to show that everyone has their cross to bear.

I think about Mom everyday and I catch myself trying to remember to tell her things that she would find funny or enjoy. Then I remember that she's gone and I tell her anyway. I still haven't brought myself to go through her things; that will keep, I'm in no hurry. I would like to move my things into the master bedroom soon. Soon. It's still hard to believe she's gone from my sight.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

UPDATE: on this story. Seems that even though this was ruled a homicide, it is likely no charges will be filed and that is good news. The family of the victim handled this very tactfully. They feel that Mr. Gagne is not at fault because of his memory loss. They are an amazing family who in the face of their own grief recognize that both involved are victims. It's a sad story all around.

This is a very sad story about two residents in a memory care facility here in Minneapolis. It seems that one of the residents did something (pushed?) to another resident resulting in an injury. The resident who was injured eventually died and they have ruled this a homicide. As someone who has loved someone with dementia, I am heartbroken by this entire situation. Not only am I sad about the individual who passed away and for his family, I am also sad for the other man and his family. You see, this other man was former pro wrestler Verne Gagne. We who've loved someone with dementia know that our loved ones are not totally in their right mind. This situation is tragic all around and my heart goes out to these families.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Quick Trip to Detroit

I flew to Detroit this weekend to attend my auntie's birthday party. She turned 80 on February 5. It was quite a wonderful party, even in the midst of a Michigan snowstorm. It was great to see Auntie (who is Mom's sister) and my uncle (who is Dad's brother). We are a close knit family because of this. That is them on the right. The lady on the left is my Mom's and auntie's cousin. My sister and her husband also came from Philly to attend the event. It was a wonderful time. I also spent time with my cousins and met some second cousins. The weekend flew by way too fast. One of the babies that was born on the day that Mom passed was there. That was special. He's such a tiny little guy.

Things in Detroit are pretty bad. You can see the impact of the problems with the auto industry everywhere. It makes me sad to see so many people struggling. It's easy to blame the Big 3 automakers but the effect is like a row of dominoes. The economy is really struggling there. I hope things turn around soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Tonight I found Mom's journal from 2004 to 2005. Very interesting. She mentions our visit to her doctor where we discussed her memory issues. She wrote " slight memory loss, may be alzhimers (sic)". Interesting. Once she moved in with me the journaling really dropped off but when she did write it was very cryptic. My poor Mommy. She mentions numerous times that she missed me when she was living alone. I'm so glad that we moved in together and that I was able to care for her and keep her company. It still is surprising to me just how quickly she declined.

I spoke to the lawyer today. She told me not to lose sleep, the situation was fixable. I told her the sleep had already been lost.

I also met with my therapist. She suggested taking a break as I seem to be coping well with Mom's death. I miss her so much but I know she is whole again and Alzheimer's can no longer hurt her or the rest of us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One Month

One month has passed. It seems longer somehow and shorter too. I miss holding her hand. I miss her stroking my head to comfort me. I miss her smile, her laugh and her words "I love you more". I love you Mom. Twice around the world and back again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Blues

Tonight I attended the Minnesota Youth Symphonies concert at the invitation of my good friend whom I've known since junior high. Her daughter is a violinist in one of the symphony orchestras. These kids were amazing! I was very impressed by them and enjoyed the concert immensely.

Otherwise, my weekend was pretty low key. I did some window shopping at the mall on Saturday and I visited with my friend M who recently had surgery. It was nice to spend time with her and her family as usual. They are good friends.

I'm not really keen on heading back to work tomorrow, but it gives me a diversion from thinking about Mom. We are supposed to have an ice storm tomorrow. That should make the commute to and from work very exciting to say the least. I'm growing weary of winter. Today we had a taste of spring; it was near 40 degrees. I hate these teasers, I just want the warmth and sunshine of spring.

Friday, February 6, 2009

In December Mom's and my financial guy moved to a new firm. We followed him to this new firm. He came down and together we filled out all of the paperwork to transfer our money to his new firm. Unfortunately the person who drew up the paperwork messed up and used the wrong forms. They filled it out in such a manner that made me the primary beneficiary and my brother and sister the secondary beneficiaries. This was a major screw up that no one caught until Mom passed away. So now it looks like we are going to have figure out how to avoid a lawsuit on this in order to get the TOD fixed. Otherwise we would have to pay lots of money in taxes in order to distribute the money correctly. I'm heartsick. We trust this guy to the utmost and he feels so awful that he didn't catch this error until after Mom passed away. Their forms are so confusing to me though, so it's no wonder it was screwed up. However, when it transferred from ML there should have been no problems and all that was set up there should have transferred to the new place. It didn't and I'm angry.

On the plus side, it was 40 degrees here today! I hope the trend continues so that I can experience it this weekend. And, I also heard from old neighbors from my childhood. They sent me a stack of photos including some I had never seen of a trip they took with Mom and Dad back in 1980 on the Arthur M. Anderson. The Anderson was the last vessel in contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald. It meant so much to me to hear from them. Thanks for the letter and the photos Pat and Al!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If you haven't seen the movie "The Secret Life of Bees" I recommend renting it or viewing it on demand. I had read the book several years ago and I really enjoyed it. The movie follows the book, and the performances by the actors are very good. I watched the movie tonight, on demand, and enjoyed it immensely.

Today I spent more time trying to sort through some of Mom's paperwork, making sure bills are paid and taxes are up to date.

I re-read some of my postings from December. Looking back I see an ominous pattern indicating Mom's decline. Of course I cried as I re-read this. I'm so glad that I spent as much time as possible with her. And I'm doubly glad that I documented those precious memories.

It's back to the deep freeze for us temperature-wise. However the forecasters are predicting 30s by the end of the week. I'm so over the cold weather.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rock and Roll History

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. There have been so many articles in local media about this day, so I googled it and found a wealth of information including this website which follows the Winter Dance Party tour from city to city. I can't imagine what the promoter of this tour was thinking; the bands traveled in a broken down bus with a heater that didn't work, as they criss crossed Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa in the middle of winter, with temperatures well below freezing. I found the photos fascinating and I sure learned a lot about these artists. I grew up in Duluth and was surprised to find that the Armory concert was attended by Bob Dylan (then Bob Zimmerman). I used to roller skate at the Duluth Armory way back in the 80s.

This website also has some interesting information as does this one.

Today has been a difficult day for me. I have been thinking about Mom a lot and am sad.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Doing OK

Life continues to be surreal for me. I feel Mom all around me and I talk to her often. Is that weird? Yet, I also feel able to move on with my life because I know that is what Mom and Dad would both want for me. I'm reconnecting with friends, especially on Facebook where I've found friends from high school and even my sister's best friend from grade school on. Her family were good friends with our's. It's comforting.

In February I'm going to Mom's sister's 80th birthday party. I'm excited to see my Michigan family. My family is very small; Mom's sister married Dad's brother so we have double cousins. It's fun and we are close because of that.

I think I'm done with all the thank you's from Mom's memorial service. It doesn't seem possible that it was 3 weeks ago today. Cherish the moments with those you love for time is fleeting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I think this is the coolest photo. It's a planetary nebula. The photo was taken in November using the Hubble space telescope.

I've created a memorial page for Mom at the Alzheimer's web site here. It seems like a nice way to remember her and perhaps it will help lead to a cure for this awful disease.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Never Give Up Hope

Doris is a miracle at CB. She was on hospice for years and was even close to the end of her life. Or so they thought. The last time I was at CB Doris was feeding herself and propelling herself all over the place in her wheelchair. The carers kept reminding me of this whenever I would tear up about Mom. I think that Mom hung on as long as she could. And she was especially tenacious during the holidays, much like Cinnamin's mom refused to give up a year ago. I think our loved ones are more aware of their surroundings and events then we think.

During our vigil, I put Mom's iPod on continuous play. I set it up to play music with sounds of the ocean and nature in the background. Several of the songs that played were ones that Mom particularly liked or ones that she played on the piano. I hope that this helped her somehow. Hospice kept telling us that one of the last senses that a person is left with is hearing. We tried very hard to make the sounds around Mom peaceful, yet familiar. I called all of Mom's loved ones and let them tell her they loved her on my cell phone's speakerphone. Her eyes flickered open for both my nephew and my brother at those times. And we would talk to her often. She knew we were there with her and that we love her forever.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The five days during my vigil with Mom I was taking anti-anxiety meds. Maybe that is why I was so calm? I'm starting to feel a little less calm this afternoon.

Thanks for all the notes of concern. I am doing amazingly well. In fact, I'm doing so well that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can't believe that I'm doing so well. I feel calm and at peace. Is this normal? I think everyone, including myself, thought I would be much more of a mess. I feel Mom all around me and for now that is very comforting.

Before Mom passed away, so many people told me that they wished they still had a part of their loved one. Well, that sank in with me, and I kept a lock of Mom's hair. I'll have this piece of my Mom forever. I think my sister thought it was weird. But I don't care. It comforts me.

We are back in the deep freeze here in Minnesota. It's very cold but very sunny. My sister is convinced that Minnesota has a dry cold.

I've included a photo of the memory board that my sister and I made for Mom's memorial service. She was such a gorgeous lady. Miss you Mom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mom's memorial service was reverent and full of love. I miss her so much. I think that I've been numb for the last few days and it's really not sunk in that she is gone. I'm scared for when it does eventually sink in. I'm a momma's baby, always have been.

Days before Mom's death I had a feeling that something was up with her. I visited her Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after work. Tuesday night she did not eat but once we got her back to her room and into her bed, we raised her bed and she sat up and drank a glass of juice. I had met with the hospice nurse just prior to seeing Mom, and we had decided to try to lower her dosage of lorazepam (anti-anxiety) to see if Mom might become more engaged. On Wednesday evening I stopped by at dinner time. They had Mom up and sitting at the dining table however she wasn't awake. I tried to get her to eat a few bites of food but she was totally uninterested. We took her back to her room and put her into her bed. I was worried and scared. Thursday morning I awoke with a start and looked at my clock. My alarm did not go off. When my carpool called to see if I was riding, the phone didn't ring; it had somehow been unplugged. I decided to take the day and spend it with Mom and I'm so glad that I did. This was the last day that Mom was awake and able to sort of communicate. She would not take her eyes off me. I fed her ice chips and water from a tooth moistener. She was very interested in the ice chips and water and asked for more. Hospice stopped by, including the social worker and the nurse. The nurse prescribed morphine to keep Mom comfortable. If my phone and alarm had been working I would have missed this time with Mom. But someone had a plan and I am so grateful for this time with my Mom. I kept a vigil near Mom for the next 4 days. My sister arrived on Sunday. It was such a relief to share this vigil with her. The whole time that this was happening I had so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind; one that was everpresent was this feeling that my friend and his wife, who were expecting a baby on the 15th, would have this baby on the day that Mom passed away. Guess what? That baby arrived two days early on the day that Mom passed away. Later my cousin informed us that her brother-in-law and his wife also delivered a baby on this day. Both of these babies were boys. This was reminscent of when my dad passed away. His hospice nurse was expecting a baby which she delivered on the day that he passed away. These events are comforting to me as I know that He has had a hand in this.

My sister and I stayed with Mom from a little after 9AM until a little after midnight. The caregivers felt that Mom had more time and it seemed true; her color was better, her lips were pinker and her hands and feet showed no signs of mottling. We decided to head home for some rest, planning to return early in the morning. We both kissed Mom and told her we love her and then we departed. The carers checked on Mom at 12:30 and she was still with us. When they went back around 1:15 AM she was gone. I'm convinced that Mom waited until we left to depart this world, always the mother protecting her children.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sally Ann Riley

Riley, Sally Ann age 76, of Eden Prairie, formerly of Duluth, MN, on January 13, 2009. Preceded in death by husband, Richard; parents, Hans & Ilse Deckert. Survived by daughters, Allyson (Joseph) Debes and Robyn Riley; son, Douglas (Janet) Riley; grandchildren, Matthew Houck and Angela Riley; sister, Mary Ellen (William E.) Riley; niece, Jill Bachle and nephew, Christopher Riley. Memorials preferred to the Alzheimer's Assoc. or Fairview Hospice. Special thanks to the staff at Clare Bridge, Eden Prairie, Fairview Hospice and LivHome. Memorial service 11 AM Saturday, Jan. 17, with visitation one hour prior to service, all at: Washburn-McReavy Eden Prairie Chapel 952-975-0400 7625 Mitchell Road (1 blk N of Hwy 5)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mom passed away peacefully sometime before 1:18 AM today. My sister and I were with her from 9 AM until a little after midnight. Her breathing was labored. They came to reposition her at midnight and the carers thought she might have more time. I think she was waiting for us to leave so that she could slip into my father's arms surrounded by her parents.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I am so grateful for the love and prayers that are surrounding my mom and me during this time. She is still resting peacefully, I have come home to rest and to get out my thoughts and emotions here.

My sister arrives tomorrow. I cannot tell you the relief that I feel.

Please continue to hold Mom and me and my family in your prayers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A wise and wonderful friend came to sit with Mom and me tonight. She told me that she has a friend whose Mom has ALZ. She asked this friend when was the last time her kids had seen their grandma and her friend said it had been several years because she didn't want to put them through 'that'. My friend said, "If you don't show them how to nurture someone in their old age, how are they going to know how to nurture you in your old age?". I think that is an extremely insightful comment.

Mom is still resting peacefully. Thank you for all of your prayers and hugs. I can feel them in my heart.
Mom is still with us though she is pretty unresponsive. She did open her eyes and move her lips when I put her grandson on speaker phone so that he could tell her he loves her. That was a precious moment. Hospice has sent an '11th hour volunteer' who is with her now so that I can get some rest. My sister is trying to find a flight so that she can be here with me. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts, you all are such a blessing to me.

I am crying a lot and everyone keeps telling me to hold it together. I just am one of those people who cries ALOT. I know Mom is going to be OK but I can't imagine not having her with me. It scares me but I know that she wants the best for me. Still, I need to cry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spent the day with Mom. She is shutting down. No food or drink, only sips of water from a toothette. I have been crying off and on and have asked my sister to come. I need her now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mom is not eating. If we can get food into her mouth, and that's a big 'if', she doesn't swallow it so it eventually runs back out of her mouth. She's also not drinking very much. I am in despair even though I know she would not want to live like this. Still my tears keep flowing. Please pray for us.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mystery Solved!

Look who I found on the cable box today? Lily! I was wondering who was knocking off the stuffed loon which usually resides on top of the TV. I think she's found a warm spot. Silly goose!

Happy New Year

I've visited Mom every day for the last 5 days. She was drowsy and did not eat very much. Today when I arrived the carers were taking her back so that she could nap in her bed. After they did their cares she fell right to sleep and I stayed for awhile listening to music I had put on for her. On Monday I am going to ask the hospice nurse about her meds and which ones might be making her drowsy. Deep down inside I feel that she is determining her fate herself and has decided not to eat. Or it could just be that she has forgotten how to swallow. It's so hard to say. And it makes me sad.

It has been sunny here but cold. I've enjoyed the extra days off from work; it has been relaxing and has given me the opportunity to visit Mom during the day.

Nine Years and Counting

Mom has been gone for a little over nine years. This blog was a huge mechanism for helping me cope with her illness and daily downfall. I...