Thursday, September 12, 2013

Two Months of Catching Up

Two Months of Catching Up

1 July 2013, Minneapolis MN USA
Home again.  Flight back was very long but uneventful.  Thom, Janet and Ed’s son, kindly provided airport taxi service.  My sister had cleaned and gotten my dead refrigerator repaired, salvaging two unopened condiments and a jar of pickles.  So the ‘frig was empty though ready to be plugged in and refilled.  I was too pooped to shop, so I tried to order a pizza only to find they wouldn’t deliver to my address ... and I didn’t have the energy to try another place.  I decided I could safely drive to the new Lund’s on 12th and Hennepin, about a mile, where they have a great buffet of hot and cold take out.  I got a big fresh salad, a couple of prepared salads and something to drink.  Now that I’ve consumed all that, I am ready to sleep.  ‘Night.

2 July
Forgot to mention that I finally caught up with the Snowden story.  Not being near a hard-copy English-language newspaper or even television news and somehow missing it in my online papers, I had no idea who he is or why there was such an uproar.  I finally figured out what was going on after reading a lengthy piece in the International Herald Tribune on the plane home ... and discovered that he worked for the contractor that employed me for five-plus years in the Balkans, Ethiopia and DC.  I have a feeling there are a few unhappy campers in McLean HQ and elsewhere these days.  They are a HUGE government contractor; our international segment was a pittance compared to alphabet soup of departments, agencies etc. they work for.

Minnesota is truly into its second season, Road Repair.  You cannot go anywhere without checking in advance to see if a street or highway ramp is closed or downsized.  

On top of that, at the end of June a major thunderstorm blew through and uprooted huge trees all over the city.  Some of the branches and tree tops still block street traffic. Add to all that, a major southbound city street has been re-routed down my two-way street, making getting out of my building’s underground parking slower and more hazardous than usual. Then there’s the main street three blocks down where there’s no dedicated left turn light but they all want to turn left.  I sat through six lights trying to get to my water ex  class once, after that I took my own detour.  Remind me again why I came back here.  Oh, right, a mortgage-free condo.

4th of July, Independence Day, and my brother Dan’s birthday
Happy birthday, bro.  Hope you enjoy the presents that I bought in Scotland and finally mailed yesterday.  Since 4th of July is Dan’s birthday, it has always been a special day for our family, above and beyond the national celebration.  Our cousin Marsha was also born on the same day, same year.

This afternoon I joined my sister Barbara, nephew Christopher and his pal Richie from Wichita, Kansas, for lunch at Fulton Brewing Company in the original warehouse district of Minneapolis.  It’s one of the Twin Cities many new micro-breweries.  This one doesn’t actually serve food but always has at least one food truck parked outside.  So we got food from the truck and they got beer from the brewery. (I am still not a beer drinker.)  Then the boys went to the Yankees-Twins game -- they are Yankees’ fans and had seen the Yankees’ win yesterday.  Barbara and I walked and bused back to my place.  I had agreed to go with her to check on her friend’s cat.  

Tonight my friends Marilyn and Jan drove in from the suburbs to watch fireworks with me.  We found a great spot on the Federal Reserve Bank plaza near the river where we could see 90 percent of the fireworks from Boom Island (the Post Office hid the lowest ones).  Spectacular.  I love fireworks!

6 July
Last night my friend Jan and I went to see a Tennessee Williams’ play that I’d never seen or heard of, Camino Real.  Great acting, wonderful costumes and a play that made no sense at all.  We left at the intermission.

Today’s movie topped that by far.  I went with Barbara and Tomery, my niece, to see The Heat, starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock.  A female buddy movie that doesn’t focus on relationships with men.  It was hysterical.  I haven’t laughed so hard in ages.  Highly recommended.

7 July
Meet Alijah Peter Hagen
I met my new great-nephew Alijah Peter Hagen today, and it was love at first site.  He is adorable and of course, perfect.  See for yourself ... 

10 July
Stu moved in today for a week’s visit.  Stu is my niece Tomery’s cat though he’s living with her mother/my sister Barbara.  Tomery’s allergies won’t allow her to keep Stu, much as she tried.  Barbara went off to Denver to visit friends for a week, and since it doesn’t look like I’ll need to go to DC, I agreed to be the cat sitter.  And since Stu loves to sit on your lap and be petted, rather than me going to Barbara’s twice a day to feed him, he’s bunking with me ... and sitting on my lap as often as he can.

As you can see, Stu wasn't happy to have his photo taken.

11 July
Manic day.  Checked emails for the first time in late morning and learned that David’s health had deteriorated a lot in the last days in Poland.  David’s brother Jeff had heard from brother Mike who was there to help the family get home.  Jeff contacted the medical team which initiated a long string of emails.  The docs were recommending that David go straight to JHU on arrival.  David, Inga and girls were already in the air, so I followed up via email and phone with docs and family on arrangements and set up emergency cat sitting in case I need to go there.  Tomek, a Polish friend of Inga’s, was to pick them up at the airport, so I asked him to ensure Inga called me when they arrived.  She did.  And after talking with her, we decided they’d go home, get some sleep and go to JHU in the morning.  They were exhausted.  Me too.

12 July
Another manic day made better by a facial and massage in the afternoon.  (I had an expiring Groupon and made the appointments when I got back from Poland.)  I called Inga in the morning to see how things were; she and David were getting fast food en route to Baltimore so we couldn’t talk much. I called JHU and finally got the nurse practitioner in charge of David’s care.  I told her that they were on the way, and she said she’d alert the ER.  Three hours later Inga called because they were still sitting in the ER, nothing had happened and David was starving. Hunger is a side effect of his meds. Since I was in the car on my way to the day spa, I called Jan, Mike’s wife, who took over the phone calling and got things moving.  By the end of the day, David had completed a battery of blood tests, CT scan, MRI.  Tumor Board will review on Monday. Inga called at the end of the day with an update.

15 July
After a bit of logistical confusion caused by me not hearing my cell, the hospice nurse visited David and Inga this afternoon.  This visit was only to provide them with information about the range of services available.  Until they get the results of the Tumor Board, they won’t make any decisions.  I’ll call tomorrow about that.

I decided that I didn’t want to get up and walk at 6 am and almost wish I had.  It was 10 am when I met my friend Ed, Janet’s husband, at their house to walk around Lake Harriet.  We passed the dog walker -- he had 12 or 14 dogs of various sizes and breeds on leashes; no barking, no fussing, just walking nicely along with him.  The temp was in the high 80s already.  Good for jump starting my detox; I think I sweated off the five pounds I gained in Poland.  Janet’s en route to the San Francisco area with our friend Marie who’s moving there from Block Island, RI.  Marie’s son and his family live in Alameda, and she’s been making long annual visits.  Sometimes we’re in CA at the same time, she joins my usual Sunday-brunch-for-family-and-friends at my friend Jean’s. Janet and Ed’s, Marie’s, and my son were school friends; that’s how we met.  And Marie joined Janet and me in our now-defunct Acapulco vacation group.  

Jean and her daughter Lisa are up north at their lake cabin.  And I’ll join them later this week.  Will be good to see them and get away from the heat.

Brief email from David’s sister-in-law Jan about what JHU had to say about his test results and prognosis:  The 20 or so doctors on the JHU Tumor Board agreed on Monday that continued treatment would not help him.  I’ve known this would happen at some point, but I’m still devastated. I have to stop here.

17 July
Yesterday I talked to Inga.  The hospice nurse and social worker had been to the house because David is going into hospice care.  Inga’s holding together pretty well, all things considered. She seems to be doing what she needs to for herself and the family.  I reassured her that I am available anytime to come to DC.  

Today I had lunch at WA Frost, a lovely old restaurant in St. Paul that I haven’t been to in ages.  I took my friend Jan to meet my friend Judi.  Jan’s family is from Lithuania originally. Judi was a Peace Corps volunteer in Lithuania, and just returned from a visit there. Judi was awed by the changes since she’d completed her service as a teacher.  Her PC tenure overlapped one year with mine in Poland, and we regaled Jan with tales of my visit there and PC life in the Baltics in the ‘90s.  Judi’s school was training future KGB spies.  Seriously.  The city where Judi lived was the location of the largest underground Soviet airbase and was never on a map until Communism fell. Her students spoke fluent, unaccented English and even understood the nuances. 

18 July, between two Sturgeon lakes near Hibbing, Minnesota
As Minnesota natives say, I’m “up north at the lake.”  Long drive past the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gasoline station in Cloquet and through Cotton and Cherry (if you blink, you’ll miss them).  Amazingly no road work on I-35 and the work on US 33 didn’t slow traffic too much.  I’ve been faithful to my detox regimen, but may just let myself have a glass of chilled white wine tonight.  I’ve been looking forward to this down time with my friend Jean from San Francisco (and originally Hibbing MN) and her daughter Lisa.

19 July
Yesterday’s 4+ hour drive knocked me out, so I went to bed at 9:30 and slept through a thunderstorm that woke both Jean and Lisa.  Sleeping through storms is nothing new for me.  I am an incredibly good, and sound, sleeper most places where I can lie down.

As I packed yesterday, I debated a pair of long jeans and sweatshirt.  But it was 90+F outside, so I didn’t.  This morning when I awoke, I was shivering until I put a heavy cotton long-sleeved shirt on over my nightie.  It’s warmed up into a beautiful day with a gentle breeze that’s helping to keep the mosquitos at bay and the sun from roasting us.  We’ve spent the morning, after coffee, a three-mile walk and breakfast, transplanting evergreens that have grown in the rock garden.  Most may not survive but it’s worth the effort, especially today.  It’s Ryan’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of the death of the young man who was Lisa’s “son.”  Lisa was a social work.  She’d worked with Ryan for so long at the boys’ group home that he was like hers.  He came into his own, had a job, then was killed by a drunk driver at age 19.  Ryan worked at the conservatory in San Francisco and would love that Lisa is working on the garden today.

The trees in the photo were purchased as 2" or so high "saplings" by Jean's dad back in the 1950s.

20 July
Of course, it’s gotten cold.  I should’ve know that it would.  At least it’s warm in the sunshine but it was %^&*(Y cold last night and this morning.  Jean’s friend Naomi came over for lunch and lots of ‘catch up’ time, only a little boring since I knew some of the folks they were catching up about.  Later we went into Hibbing to the famous Sammy’s Pizzeria for supper to celebrate Naomi’s birthday.

22 July, Minneapolis
Home again after an enjoyable weekend of being lazy.  Sang my way home along with Bette Midler, Tina Turner, “Music for Fred,” and most of the Doo Wop albums.  Smooth sailin’.

24 July
Yesterday friend and neighbor MaryAnne and I accomplished our pre-scheduled “storage closet cleaning day.”  We both needed to clean our garage storage spaces, had been putting it off for ages and knowing that “misery loves company,” decided to set a day to do it together.  We spent several hours clearing out black cobwebs and sweeping up dust and dirt, tossing out unused gift boxes galore, reorganizing paint and files.  Tough, sweaty work but it was actually fun and sure felt good to finish.  After time to shower and change, we met for an afternoon of relaxation at a nearby bar/restaurant.   Now when I drive into my parking space, it actually feels different even though I can’t see the cleaner, better organized storage.

27 July
This hasn’t been a great couple of days. The 25th was my Atlanta friend Kathy’s and her husband Chuck’s 20th wedding anniversary, so I called to talk to her. She’s one of three friends who are Kathy B.  Another lives in Minneapolis, and the third died of cancer a few years ago.  I remember when Kathy met Chuck and their early days together before I left for Peace Corps.  Chuck is now in hospice care at home.  He has the same brain tumor that David has. 

I’ve also talked to Inga, David’s brother Jeff and our friend Kim about what’s happening in Bethesda. David’s deteriorated much faster than expected.  He can barely walk.  A hospital bed and toilet have been moved into the living room and a wheelchair is available when needed.  The bleeding in his brain continues, causing pressure, increased loss of faculties and the potential for a blood clot.  The medical team gives his life expectancy at six to eight weeks.  I am feeling angry and sad and helpless.  This is all so unfair.  David is young and talented and has so much more he needs to do with his family.  Jeff said that despite everything, David still has his wonderful, warped sense of humor.  He worries more about Inga’s stress than his own discomfort.  

All of this dredges up Peter’s death and his dad’s and my mother’s and my dad’s and my friend John’s and more.  I am going to DC next week and will likely stay until the end of September.

28 July
I know I’m stressed.  Who wouldn’t be with two wonderful friends dying of brain cancer (David and Chuck) and another awaiting chemo (Karen)? I thought I had it under control until I got almost to the Y this morning.  You probably recall that I do a regular mid-morning Sunday water ex class when I’m here; I reconcile my non-church attendance by working on my bodily health.  And again, given my stress level, I was really looking forward to this class.  Andrew always makes us work hard for an hour, just what I needed.  But as I crossed Lake Street, about four blocks before the Y, I realized that I had forgotten my underwear. I wear my swimsuit under my street clothes to the Y. Since I was wearing white cotton slacks, there was no way that I could re-dress at the Y to go to brunch after class.  And given the cool temp, I was not going to wear my wet swimsuit and a towel home.  So I turned at 31st and again at 1st and drove back to the condo, dragged my gym bag back upstairs, took a deep breath and sat in front of the television for an hour of “Brothers & Sisters,” the next to final episode of the last season.  Mindless television helped calm me before I left for brunch with Sue and Nancy.  And listening to their tales of travels in Mongolia was a real upper.

29 July
Spent lots of time yesterday between brunch with Sue and Nancy and dinner with my sister Googling air fares to DC.  Vacation time and a key destination mean ridiculously expensive airfares right now -- $600+ was the cheapest!  I finally found a workable Sun Country flight using my Visa miles, leaving Friday morning and returning at the end of September.  I’ve cancelled or re-scheduled all of my annual docs’ appointments.  Spent too much time on hold so went ahead and made a mammogram appointment for tomorrow.  I may pay dearly, but I didn’t want to wait until October for that. 

Then I decided to try the triage nurse again.  She was great, listened to my concerns and connected me with a GYN nurse practitioner who also listened to me and agreed to see me tomorrow.  

Enough of my health paranoia.  I do know I’ll be fine.

This afternoon I drove to Northfield to have dinner with Lois, my oldest Minnesota friend that I’m helping with her memoirs.  I haven’t seen her since being back from Europe.  She was in good spirits.  She enjoyed a wonderful family reunion when one of her granddaughters recently got married.  Before meeting Lois, I had coffee with Judy, a friend from my days of volunteer work at Mount Sinai Hospital.  It was fun to see her again and catch up.

30 July
Got to the clinic early since I never know how traffic will be.  Had lots of time to talk with the nurse practitioner after everything that’s going on in my life.  She did a breast exam and was very reassuring about what she found, that it was unlikely to be anything to worry about, but she made me a new mammogram appointment plus a sonogram for Thursday. I already feel better. And since the test is diagnostic, I won’t pay as much.  

31 July
When I got home from water ex boot camp this morning, I checked my phone for messages and found one from my friend Kathy in Atlanta.  I just knew she was calling to tell me that her husband Chuck had died.  I called her back and we walked to a bit. Chuck used to make me cassette tapes of music compilations.  It started with one for my 45th birthday, “Sliding into Middle Age,” and he continued to make and send me others when I joined Peace Corps. They were a great comfort as I learned to live alone and abroad, reminders of home and of friends who cared.  I always remember one in particular.  It was playing as I chugged up a mountainside near the palace where I first lived in Nowy Sacz, Poland.  I finally tired and as stood out of breath and looking back over the village and valley below, George Carlin came on and said something like this, “Just think about it -- everything you’ve ever been and done in this lifetime has brought you to this point in time.”  His nightclub audience laughed, but I was awestruck.

Kathy’s daughter, Elle, posted some great pix of Chuck, Kathy and family over the last 20 years, including one of me and Chuck and one of Chuck and Kathy at a party at my townhouse.  Kathy will let me know when the celebration/memorial is to be held, and I hope I can join them.  If not, I’ll go to see Kathy in October.

Let me close the month on a more “up” note.  My friend and neighbor MaryAnne and I enjoyed an afternoon in the sunny outdoors at a St. Paul Saints-Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks game.  The Saints lost 3-1, but we got to experience the mania that is minor league baseball in Minnesota.  Various costumed characters revving up the crowd, fans taking part in assorted inane races and games that gave the players occasional breaks, the usual hotdogs, beer, popcorn etc. to take the edge off the appetite.

1 August
I’m adding this PS here, so you don’t worry.  Mammogram and sonogram were completed this morning with normal amount of pain in the squashed boops.  (I do not know how flat chested women endure this process.)  Before I left the clinic, I was told that the radiologist had read the results and proclaimed that all is well. Phew. No lumps or bumps to worry about, so I can quit fixating. Hurray.

Continuing ...

1 August, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
In case you missed the end of the July entry, I want to reiterate that the mammogram and sonogram of my boobs showed no problems. 

Had dinner tonight with Christopher at Loring Kitchen & Bar, one of my favorite restaurants within walking distance of my condo.  However, when Chris offered a ride, I took it.  Even at 5:30, it was still in the 90s and very humid outside.  The restaurant was packed.  Ketel One vodka had a big promo going, and the Human Rights Watch in Minnesota was celebrating the first day of legalized same sex marriage with a reception there.  It was fun to be part of such a joyous celebration even if tangentially.  Now I’m home to finish packing, doing laundry, changing bed linens, showering, taking out trash and recyclables, sending last minutes reminder messages, etc. ad naus.  I leave for DC tomorrow to help Inga and David.  Chris is right -- I am turning into my mother.

2 August, Bethesda MD
Set the alarm clocks (bedside digital clock and iPhone alarm) for 3:45 am as my flight today was at 6 am. As usual, I couldn’t sleep on a pre-flight night, so I was awake the first time at 2:30 although I stayed in bed until 3:30.  Knocked on MaryAnne’s door at 4 and off we went to the Hump and Sun Country Airlines.  I’d paid a small fee for an advance reserved seat and prepaid for checking my suitcase, all of which made check in quick and easy.  Security wasn’t too terribly busy, and most people seemed to remember to empty their pockets, remove belts and such so that went quickly.  After getting a large Dunn Bros. coffee, I sat at the gate to sip, read and wait.  Then the gate agent announced $89 first-class upgrades all the way to DC.  Since I hadn’t paid for the ticket to begin with (Visa card miles did), I charged ... to the desk and on my Visa.  My baggage and seat fees are being refunded, making this a very affordable trip.  If the same offer is made on the return, I will definitely take it!

Inga met me at the airport, and we had some private catch-up time.  Samuel, a new home aide, was with David.  Once we got home, Inga went to Costco to restock the cupboard, ‘frig and freezers while David and I enjoyed the warmth and sunshine on the deck. He has definitely slipped a lot since I saw him in Poland.  He’s now using a wheelchair for mobility although occasionally he uses two canes for a very short walk in the family room.  His speech is slower and more garbled, which frustrates him more than ever.  His meds continue to make him constantly hungry to he eats often.  But he appreciates a beautiful day.  And he thanked me for coming and asked me to be sure Inga didn’t over-extend herself. He said she tries to do everything and he’s been encouraging her to use Samuel as much as she wants.  

At one point Samuel came to the deck and asked me whether he should re-order a large or extra-large size of something for David.  I said David had gained weight so perhaps the large, but I didn’t think extra-large was necessary.  Off he went to complete the order.  When Samuel was gone, David chastised me for mentioning his weight gain.  He said it didn’t make him feel very good, and how would I feel if someone said I’d gained weight?  I felt awful and said he was right and apologized.  How could I be so insensitive?

4 August
My nephew Christopher may think I’m turning into my mother (and I may often even agree with him), but I will forever be my father’s child.  Remember how I left my house keys in Sandomierz?  Well, since yesterday I cannot find my sunglasses anywhere in this house, and I know they are here somewhere.  Daddy was always looking for his keys and glasses. 

Franciszka, her friend Leighton who’d stayed overnight, and I went to the supermarket for a few non-Costco items, including the makings for lasagne.  Frankie decided she’d make dinner.  We found lasagne noodles that don’t need pre-boiling, some Paul Newman sauce, and cheeses ... no packaged mix this time.  And she made it herself with minimal “supervision” from me.  Everyone agreed it was delicious and consumed all but one small piece.  Then the girls went off to a horror movie.

Mary, Brandon and their younger daughter came over toward the end of the day.  They’d been to Eastern Market and brought some fresh apple fritters, ciabatta and candied pecans.  I stayed far away from the fritters, which are one of the few deep fried sweets that I like ... actually, love, and haven’t had in more than 20 years.  It should stay that way ... that high school reunion is coming up!

5 August
Glasses found!  I took them off when I was practicing volleyball with Franciszka on Saturday and laid them on a small outdoor table.  Kim saw them through the basement window and let me know where to find them.

Had an email from Sally today.  She was the organizer of our Acapulco trips of years ago ... and a friend from my hospital PR days.  We had dinner last month and talked of getting together the “old originals” as I used to call us -- the first PR directors, and often marketing too, for our various hospitals.  Well, she got in touch with some and is planning a reunion later this month.  Wish I could be there, but at least I was able to give her contact info for two “lost” originals.

It’s road repair ... or in our case, more precisely sewer repair time ... in Bethesda.  A backhoe, men with shovels and such arrived outside the house today and proceeded to dig a deep trench.  We moved the cars so we wouldn’t get stuck.  Parking on this street isn’t easy at any time, it’s a nightmare now with more cars on the street.  

Franciszka started volleyball camp today.  She’s excited about this and about trying out for the team next week.  I’m really proud of how she’s taken the initiative and responsibility on this, very different her behavior from last spring.

8 August
Facebook is not my favorite medium of communications, as most of you know.  But it does serve a purpose in finding old friends and “lost” relatives. I found a cousin that we hadn’t heard from in almost 20 years.  Among the folks I keep up with via their FB news are Maggie and Mik Robertson, friends from my Peace Corps days.  That’s where they met as young environmentalists.  Now married and with kids, they also have a wonderful farm ... and I just found the link.  Learn more for yourself.

Later ...
I am feeling overwhelmed tonight. This afternoon I talked to Marija, a friend from Macedonia who’s in Chicago waiting for the end of the lengthy process to get her Green Card; she won it in the lottery that the US government holds each year.  Both of her parents have died in the last two weeks, her mother suddenly from an aneurism and then her dad from a long-standing cancer.  Also learned that the son of a friend from the old Brunch Bunch died.  I met Bob originally at an investment club I belonged to when I was married.  Then I joined my late friends John and Susan’s Sunday brunch group for singles and a year or so later I invited my friend Marilou to join, and she brought Bob and another late friend, Diane, to join us.  Two other Brunchers, Sharon and Margaret Mary, continue to battle serious health issues, but no bad news from them in a while.  One of the few uplifting items of the day was on FB:  a beautiful music and photo memorial tribute to Chuck, husband of one of my three Kathy B friends.  

9 August
No traditions seem more different between Poland and the US than in the matter of death.  Inga is trying hard to understand American customs and forge a funeral for David that bridges the two.  We all know it’s just a matter of time and what can be done in preparation will make the whole thing easier. Today we went to the funeral home that David’s brother Jeff had identified and met with the funeral director to review things and start the ‘reconciliation of traditions.’  

10 August
OMG, as the kids say.  Franciszka and Aga wanted to see “Meet the Millers,”  but it’s rated “R” so they could not go without an adult.  Since it’s a movie I also wanted to see, I offered to take them with Inga’s approval.  A school friend of Frankie’s also joined us.  Jennifer Aniston’s in it so how raunchy can it be, right?  The movie was hysterically funny, especially to me who really needed a reason to laugh out loud.  Reminded me a little of seeing “Sister Act” in Warsaw with two Peace Corps friends, Len and Susan.  Susan and I laughed so uncontrollably that Len changed seats so he wasn’t next to us.  Also reminded me of seeing “Boogie Nights” with Janet and Ed’s son/Peter’s best friend Thom, who was 25 or so at the time.  Both movies were a bit risqué to see with the company I was in.  But in both instances, we all enjoyed the movie.

12 August
What a two days this has been!  First yesterday. The sewer backed up into basement laundry room.  We weren’t sure if it was related to the sewer work being done out front.  After a few phone calls, I got in touch with the right person.  He came out and said he’d have a crew dig up the connection and check first thing in the morning.  No showers, minimal flushing until we knew what the cause was and it was fixed.  Ugh!

This morning, as promised, the sewer crew was outside digging first thing.  They even peeled back the lawn into sod strips! They worked all day, finally determining the cause of the back up was in our lines ... too many towelettes being flushed had caused a blockage.  Tomek and his brother got a snake and spent the rest of the day and early evening fixing that. Inga was going to walk the dog as I was getting ready to shower, at last.  David was sitting in his wheelchair in the family room watching television and said he’d be fine while we were both busy.  When I returned to the family room, he was trying to put a bowl onto the sofa or floor.  Since he didn’t like to be helped unless he asked, I told him I’d be back in a minute and went to brush my teeth.  This time when I returned, the bowl was sitting on the floor and David was leaning/slumping to the left.  He was trying to sit up as we talked, but again I didn’t offer to help.  He told me how proud he was of Frankie, how well she’s doing.  And I told him that he could be proud of both girls; he and Inga have done a great job.  He returned to comment again on Frankie just as Inga came in.  She noticed how David was leaning and from behind the wheel chair, she gave me a questioning look.  I used a shrug to say I didn’t know what was going on.  Inga offered to help David sit up and was unsuccessful, so suggested he lay in bed.  It took her, me and Antonia to left him from the wheelchair to the bed, then I called the hospice nurse.  I told her I was concerned that David had had a stroke.  By the time we had gotten him into bed, he wasn’t talking very coherently and he had severe tremors.  Within an hour, the night nurse arrived and checked him out.  She said he’d had one or more seizures, not a stroke.  When she left a few hours later, she said that she’d leave instructions for his transfer to the transitional care facility tomorrow.  He would stay there until his symptoms were under control.  Tomek stayed up with David most of the night so Inga could get some sleep.  

On the plus side, my hanging plant which has been hanging around across the hall with MaryAnne's seems to be thriving.  Perhaps it needs more than my benign neglect ...

13 August
David’s regular hospice nurse called as soon as she got on shift and finalized the transfer arrangements, which all went very smoothly.  Inga drove to the transitional care facility, which is a good 30 minutes away, and stayed until well into the evening.  I took the three girls to the Nats’ game as had been previously arranged.  We all got soaked in a deluge and decided not to wait out the storm, which did end and the game continued with a Nats’ win.

14 August
David with Antonia & Franciszka
Inga has sent an email saying that David is refusing food and water, a sure sign that he is near the end.  I used that as a chance to broach the topic of visiting David with Franciszka.  She has been so closed up about all that’s going on, even largely ignoring her dad at times.  As we talked, she finally broke down and cried.  I took her, Antonia and Aga for sushi at David’s favorite place, then we drove to the hospice.  Though he couldn’t talk, it was plain to see on his face how much David was glad to see the girls, especially the look he gave Frankie.  She had some alone time with him, as did Antonia. I had sent an email re David’s status to a group of friends, and two Peace Corps friends who live in the DC area, Tamara and Michael, also came to visit.  

15 August
Early this morning the hospice called Inga and told her David wasn’t feeling well.  She hopped into clothes and drove there, arriving a minute after David died peacefully.  I am so glad he made it to Poland.

16 August
Life must go on.  Antonia had decided to attend sewing camp this week with her friend Lydia.  Tosia’s project was an apron, a gift for Frankie’s friend Aga.  Inga and I went to the fashion show today where all of the student projects were shown, including the apron which was modeled by another student.  Tosia was helping behind the scenes.

Aga modeled her new apron with its designer/producer Antonia.

17 August and Happy Birthday to my sister, Barbara
?? years ago (I’ll never reveal the number, but she’s seven years younger than I am) Barbara joined our family, and our brother Dan and I got our wish for a baby sister.  Our parents were very nervous because we were quite insistent that the bump growing inside our mommy was going to bring forth a girl.  I remember Mom saying years later how they didn’t know what we’d do if she had a boy.  

I celebrated with two of my favorite boys, Jonah and Spike, sons of Larry (from PC) and his wife Karen.
Antonia, Jonah & Spike

Larry, Karen & My Boys after brunch

19 August, Happy Birthday to my youngest niece, Tomery
Sent Tomery a “happy birthday” text message.  I had left her gift with my sister before leaving for DC.  Barbara and Tomery celebrated with dinner at Burch's, a new restaurant in Minneapolis.  We'll celebrate some more when I'm back in Minneapolis!

Blur of a weekend.  Saturday Franciszka had volleyball tryouts while Inga, Antonia and I had breakfast with Larry, Karen and their sons, Jonah and Spike.  Antonia had fought about going because boys were going to be there, then had a great time playing card games with them.  David’s brother Mike arrived.  Sunday I had brunch with RoseMarie, a friend from Booz.  Took us forever to get our food.  The waiter was very apologetic -- someone didn’t show up for work plus a huge party of women arrived and ordered omelets, tying up all five burners for a long time.  He gave us some delicious freebies to pass the time.  Later Inga and I did some planning for the ‘Polish explosion’ that will be at the house after the funeral. 

Got an email today from Tim, a PC colleague who lives in London that he is in town and will be here on Saturday.  What a lovely surprise.  He and David were best buds, both being Quaker Oats alums who met in PC.

20 August
On the lighter side, Tommy Bahama was “born” in Minnesota!  Learned that in a piece about the company’s 20th anniversary in today’s online Strib.  The article relates how a MN man and two biz partners launched the brand.

Frankie made the volleyball team as a manager!  She’s taking a positive view of this, a chance to show the coaches her interest, improve her skills, get to know the game and teammates.  And we’re all reinforcing that.  David was so proud of her for trying out ... I’m sure he’s smiling down on her now.

Got a lovely treat in the mail -- post cards from the children of another friend named David, with whom I worked in Uganda.  Ethan and Niamh are on list of kids that I send postcard to ... and on their recent trip to visit their grandparents in Northern Ireland, they took time out from wading in the creek to send me cards.

21 August
Do all of the M states share road repair season?  Maryland is almost as bad as Minnesota, and I recall a lot of traffic diversions for repairs when I visited Michigan.  today it took an hour to get back from Montgomery Mall, but Frankie and Aga did well at ‘power shopping:’ bought all but shoes in 30 minutes, including check out.

22 August
Insanity, led by Jan and Mike ... 'nuff said.
Frankie, Jan, Tosia, me & Mike after Insanity exercise DVD

23 August, Dad’s birthday
(In case you haven’t noticed, summer is a big time for birthdays in my family.  I was the only non-summer delivery.)

Yesterday Senior Yoga and Insanity exercise tape in the same day after nearly a month of minimal exercise ... insanity!  No wonder my buns and thighs and legs ache.

A blur of activity to get ready for tomorrow, family arrivals, dinner for 22 family style at an Italian restaurant in Friendship Heights.

25 August
Woof ... woof ... woof I was awakened sometime between 12:30 when I finally went to bed and sunrise by Beza standing in my room.  Three monotonal, quiet, well spaced woofs.  Took a few seconds to realize what was happening ... I laid there looking at her, listening to hear if someone had gotten into the house and knowing that could not be true.  She goes berserk when a stranger comes to the door, including the same mail carrier who delivers six days a week.  But since I was very thirsty and my hip hurt, I got up to get water for my Aleve and to check.  All was well, back to bed.

David’s funeral mass, reception, open house on Saturday.  Two PC colleagues, Tim and Amy, flew in from london; other PC colleagues, Kim, Tamara, Michael, Larry also there, along with Larry’s wife and boys.  Gave the guys tee-shirts of David’s but did not find the PC tee shirt he designed and I know he had one.  I remember when I put David’s clothing away, I saw it and thought it was in a lot better shape than mine ... but then I don’t own 1/4 the number of ee-shirts David did.  He’s the only man I know who owned both sides of the huge master bedroom closets. Inga’s clothes have been in two small closets in her office.

26 August, first day of school

                Franciszka, Grade 10; Antonia, Grade 5

27 August
My sister called today to tell me that Tomery’s getting a big promotion.  She’s been invited to apply for a job as a training department head at a new huge fancy LifeTime that will open in Westchester County NY.  She so deserves this opportunity!

Found a mistake on the prayer card that was handed out at David’s service.  Somehow the “1” was dropped and it says he died on 5 August, not 15 August.  I’ll call the funeral home and get this reprinted.

Oh, I finally to got to the Bethesda Y pool today.  I did Tabata water exercises for 30 minutes by myself, not nearly as much fun with my class at Blaisdell. And I got an email from the water director at Bethesda that I’ll have to pay $10 a day to use the Y plus the class fee ($44 for each series; that would be $44 times 5 if I went every day!!!).  Glad I found the Yoga studio and seem to be okay doing that.

29 August
Haven’t had a spam email from a Nigerian prince in a long time.  Got one today saying that my email address was selected to receive part of multi million claim, yada yada.  So I immediately responded ... by deleting the message and marking it as spam on the server.

31 August
Happy birthday, Mark S.  Today would have been my 45th wedding anniversary too.  That’s how I always remember my friend Jean’s son Mark’s birthday.  

Everyone left for Fenwick, a town near Ocean City MD, for the long Labor Day holiday.  I volunteered to stay home with Beza.  I know Inga was disappointed, but I decided that I need to be alone for a while.  I realized the other day that I am not used to having people around me so much and how much I value being alone ...  Boy, is that a change from the Suzi of the past who’s first task on getting home from work was to pick up the phone and figure who was up for what that evening.

Inga's friend Dorota, Franciszka and Inga in back; Aga and Antonia in front

1 comment:

  1. Kun je in Nederland Noopept bestellen?
    Noopept is in Nederland niet vrij verkrijgbaar, via internet is het onder andere in het Verenigd Koninkrijk te bestellen. Zoek altijd een shop met een goede reputatie en een wat langere bestaansduur. Goede shops hebben ook een zogenaamde CoA, een correspondence analysis. Dit is een certificaat dat de zuiverheid van het medicijn of supplement aantoont. Er zijn erg veel fora over nootropics, waarbij insiders je goed opweg kunnen helpen bij het bestellen van aniracetam.