living her best life:#56…hawaii bound

Yesterday Pat text me some great news …

Wanted to update you…I’m doing really well.

We meet with Dr. Gertz tomorrow and expect him to release me. If that happens then that means we can go home! [whoopee!!!]

Because our flight is not until the 8th we’ll have some time to play tourists again. The plan is to check out of the Transplant House on Monday and drive to Duluth near Lake Superior for a couple of days and eventually be back in Minneapolis near the airport before the weekend.

Can’t wait to go home [!!!!!]

Without a doubt…

…pat’s living her best life…

………hugmamma.

Advertisements

For you ‘Mama’

…mother’s day…is every day…

…as long as there’s a child…longing to be loved…and hugged.

………hugmamma.

(To hear the beautiful music that accompanies these lovely photographs, go to… https://passiondew.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/for-you-mama/)

The Passion Dew

Forget me not

Forget me not

View original post

Daddy’s Girl

A loving, lovely tribute to a father…an amazing man…a flawed human being…a talented singer. How wonderful to have captured his lilting voice…a reminder of a very special person.

………hugmamma.

A Day In The Life

daddy (1) - CopyAre we who we are because of genetics? environment? a combination of both? As I have grown older I have to come to realize I am my father’s daughter most certainly. So much of who I am, the things that make me tick, are so because of him. I was always closer with my father than my mother. He was always the more “emotive” parent- free with his hugs, easy to laugh, a good listener who really heard what you had to say. He was willing to engage in discussion at times when my mother just saw everything as black or white, gray never existed in her world. I was an emotional child- easy to cry, sensitive- my mother didn’t know what to do with it- thankfully my father was always there.

One of my earliest memories (I was 5) is of us going bird watching together. He was an…

View original post 803 more words

…one breath…

A lovely, lovely video created by Livonne…in memory of her dad. 

We can all take away the message of love we hold dear in our hearts…in spite of the heartache that often accompanies it.

You can read the post which accompanies this at… http://livonne.com.au/2015/07/15/with-just-one-breath/

…leaves me…speechless.

………hugmamma.

living her best life: #53…feeling run over

…by a Mac Truck! 

Hi [hugmamma]…

Don’t know if you’ve gotten any of my text responses…thought I’d just send a quick update.

They say I’m doing well and I’m right where I should be. Even so, I still feel like crap. One doc described it as being hit by a Mac Truck, and then the truck backs over you and finally dumps its load on you.

That about sums it up.

There are moments in between when I feel somewhat normal, but those moments  don’t last very long.

Today is Day 8. I won’t go back and describe the past few days because I’m concentrating on moving forward and I’d rather not relive the past…not yet anyway.

I’m at the point where my body is trying to replace platelets so I can be weaned off the antibiotics, and anti-viral and anti-fungal meds. I think that’s right. I just know my body has to start fighting back on its own now.

That’s all for now…going back to rest.

I love you.

Pat

…and we all love you and brad…and continue to pray for you both.

………hugmamma.

be kind to your spouse…

…or you might wind up drowning in the ocean…like Natalie Wood.

The trick to enjoying celebrity and wealth is not allowing either to take on a life of its own. Unfortunately, too many in Hollywood lose their real identities to the ones portrayed on the screen, whether it’s in the movies or on television. Once he or she is bitten by fame, there’s an overwhelming desire to keep it going…at any cost.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour by Marti Rulli with former Splendour Captain Dennis Davern, reads like a thriller-soon-to-be made into a movie. Why it never made it that far is a puzzle all by itself. Probably because celebrity and wealth bought everyone’s silence…most of all…Hollywood’s.

After all, Robert Wagner was one of Hollywood’s own.

Too many lives, big and small, would have been affected…negatively. The tentacles of celebrity and wealth are far-reaching as was evident in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood.

True. Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s sweethearts, ever since she charmed her way into our homes and hearts as the beguiling Suzy Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, an iconic favorite at Christmastime. However once Natalie Wood was found dead, there was no bringing her back. So why destroy another Hollywood star in a sordid investigation that would leave the public wondering about Tinsel Town’s morals. There was no fool-proof evidence of Wagner’s involvement in his wife’s death, so why have audiences turn away from the golden goose that was Hollywood for all who made a living within its protective confines.

What about those charged with investigating the death of Natalie Wood? Good question.

Remember Marilyn Monroe? O.J. Simpson? Robert Blake? Michael Jackson?   What they all had in common was celebrity and wealth…in varying degrees. Nonetheless, it seems anytime someone famous is involved…the rules go…bye-bye.

Everyone involved in solving the case is entangled in the celebrity and wealth surrounding the high profile personality. Whether it’s that they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the fame, or they want some of it to rub off on them.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour makes a compelling case against Robert Wagner as the person responsible for the death of Natalie Wood. 

The only person alive–Robert John Wagner–who undoubtedly knows how Natalie Wood got into the water, will obviously never talk about it, so exactly how Natalie got into the water may never be known, but what is known is that Wagner was with her when the “mystery” was born. What is known is that Wagner argued terribly with his wife. He was raging mad and acted upon the rage by taking a marital fight out to an open deck on his yacht. His wife was in her nightgown, arguing with him. Minutes later, she was in the water–wearing her coat–and crying to be saved.

The “mystery” of Natalie’s death would not have been too difficult to solve, certainly not for a police department and a medical examiner’s staff, had they pursued every angle of the case together. Many novices have no trouble solving it through the use of common sense. It seems the public is all that Natalie has left.

Wagner has never addressed his drastic delay in searching for Natalie. No one asks him for details. His fans defend that waiting for hours is logical, even though the number one rule in boating is to call for immediate help when someone is missing. Dennis Davern knows the proper procedures to follow when someone is missing from a boat. Wagner’s refusal to allow Davern to search for Natalie indicates that he did not want his wife to be helped: perhaps not ever to be found. Natalie’s jacket kept her afloat, helping her to be found shortly after a proper search.

Wagner then still balked on calling for professional help when harbormaster Doug Oudin pleaded with Wagner after three o’clock in the morning to allow him to call the Coast Guard. The harbormaster waited for Wagner’s approval.

Avalon Sheriff Kroll saw the inside of Splendour–the broken glass, the master stateroom in disarray–and ignored it.

While Baywatch divers hunted for Natalie beneath Splendour, diver Roger Smith said he was angry that professional help had not been called for sooner. Smith had asked Bombard not to touch Natalie’s body. “Homicide might be involved,” Smith had said. Smith obviously suspected something sinister.

Everyone’s peculiar deference to Wagner carried on throughout the morning, as each and every official in contact with Wagner after Natalie’s bruised dead body was found felt the loss of this remarkable woman and thus related to the pain they believed Wagner endured. Everyone allowed the man with the “most pain” to direct the aftermath of his wife’s death. Wagner’s grief was apparent to Duane Rasure, and although Wagner had primed Davern on what to tell authorities and on what not to offer, Rasure had been so overwhelmed with Wagner’s suffering that he let it slide when Davern reacted to Rasure with nervousness, offense, and outright lies. Rasure got mad at the “lanky, drunk guy from New Jersey” instead–and has stayed mad at him.

Wagner wanted off the island. A private helicopter was summoned. Wagner did not want to be interviewed by Rasure. Rasure let him go home. Legal assistance was ready and waiting for Wagner and Davern at Wagner’s front door. It’s what money can buy. All of the right people made the wrong decision to allow Robert Wagner to direct a crime scene.

Celebrity privilege was indeed alive and thriving on the morning of November 29, 1981, at the Isthmus of Catalina Island aboard the moored boat, Splendour. Celebrity “get out of jail free cards” may as well have been issued. Years later, when Davern told the truth, he was threatened with criminal charges and jail time if he changed the story that the attorney provided by Wagner had prepared for Dennis in 1981. Years later, that same attorney cooperated with Davern’s choice to speak with a writer from Vanity Fair.

What’s bizarre is that Robert Wagner told Davern to accompany the authorities and identify Natalie Wood’s body.

Dennis, unable to bring his eyes to focus on her, choked out, “It’s her.”

“You’ll have to look at her, Mr. Davern,” he was told. …

Dennis trembled as he forced himself to move his eyes from Natalie’s torso to her face. Her arms were exposed, and he saw the bruises. The fronts of her legs also showed bruises, far too many. Dennis wondered why her nightgown had not been pulled down to cover her exposed legs. He caught his breath when he saw that her eyes were still open. Her face appeared swollen, but not deformed, a bit greenish white in color, and her mouth had gone limp. She looks at peace, though, he tried to convince himself.

He dropped his eyes and whispered, “Yes, It’s Natalie Wood.”

Someone took hold of Dennis’s elbow to lead him away, but he pulled back and looked again at Natalie. He scanned his eyes across her body and concentrated on her legs and arms, noticing even more bruises. He started to count. One, two, four, seven…ten…he had seen enough, but there were more, including a scrape on her left cheek.

Neither the author, Marti Rulli, or I for that matter, is claiming that Robert Wagner did not love Natalie Wood. Far from it, the man was possessive of his wife and his jealousy got the better of him.

After years passed, it became easier to convince himself that his anger and actions were justified. And to write the autobiography he presents in 2008 shows that he thinks he is utterly immune to doubt and suspicion. He had wanted to stop books and movies and other people from telling about their lives. He had asked people in show business to stay away from people he disliked. He wants the laws changed so that no one can reveal his true colors after his demise. He thinks he has gotten away with his part in Natalie’s death. And he indeed had a big part in it. He smashed a wine bottle, screamed profanities and fought a deadly argument with Natalie after she had gone to their stateroom to go to bed. She would have awakened the next morning if only her husband had left her alone. He took the fight to the back deck, and minutes later, Natalie was no longer on board. …

Actor Christopher Walken, the only guest aboard, was the person to whom Robert Wagner directed his rage after smashing the wine bottle across the table…”Do you want to fuck my wife, is that what you want?”

Since Natalie’s death, Wagner has been sheltered by his insider network of secrecy and privilege for so long he appears to believe in the image he has created for himself. He has never had to bear the brunt of a direct, in-your-face accusation or questioning. His media buddies and selected interviewers tiptoe around him as if a twenty-seven-year-old death can still shatter him. Interviewers start their questions with their sympathetic eyes and condolences even decades later, as if Wagner is still the victim of love lost and innuendo. Wagner interviewers rarely express sympathy for Natalie’s experience. It is Wagner they have coddled, while Natalie is the truest victim.

The saddest thing about the entire affair is that Natalie Wood’s worst nightmare…dying in dark water…could have been averted.

Marilyn Wayne and her fiance, businessman John Payne, anchored in a sailboat within earshot of the Splendour, had heard someone calling out for help.

…they were sleeping in their stateroom aboard John’s forty-two-foot sailboat, the Capricorn, which was equipped with a silent generator. John always slept with an open window in his cabin, and this night, despite the rain, was no exception. A distant voice, crying for help, awakened him. John sat up to listen intently. “Help me, someone please help me,” he heard again. He awakened Marilyn and asked her to listen. Alarmed, Marilyn called out to her young son, Anthony, who also heard the cries. He wore a digital watch, and Marilyn asked him for the time. It was just minutes after eleven o’clock.

The cries for help continued. John went to the control panel and switched on their beam light. Marilyn went on deck to look toward the sound, but it was dark and damp, and she could not see anything. Marilyn had a bead on the plaintive cry for help, though, and thought if she swam just about forty feet, she might be able to help. Marilyn, an avid and strong swimmer, told John she wanted to jump into the water and swim toward the cries, but John convinced her it could be too dangerous. “You have Anthony to think of. Whoever’s out there could pull you under too.” He persuaded her to stay on board. They called the harbor patrol but no one answered. They called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, twelve miles away, and the person who answered told them a helicopter would be sent. They heard loud music, too, so they thought there was a party on a nearby boat.

Then they heard a man’s voice, slurred, and in an aggravated tone, say something to the effect of “Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.” Marilyn was not sure of the exact words used, but there was no mistaking that it was a man’s voice, and he sounded miserable.

But the woman’s cries continued: “Someone please help me, I’m drowning, please help me.” The voice did not seem to be moving further away. It was clear and concise.

For fifteen minutes, John and Marilyn felt helpless as they waited for a helicopter that never arrived. Their dinghy had already been deflated for the night and would take more than a half hour to prepare, so they were at a loss to help. After a fifteen to twenty minute wait, the cries for help ended. A few minutes later, the music ended too. There was utter silence–a haunting kind of silence. Terribly disturbed, John and Marilyn could only hope that the pleas had stopped because of a rescue. They went back to their stateroom for a terribly restless sleep.

The following morning the couple learned that Natalie Wood had drowned. “…they felt sickened by the news and had no doubt that it had been Natalie crying for help.”

Marilyn Wayne had believed the death was an accident and for a time felt sorry for Robert Wagner. However when neither she nor John were interviewed by the police even though they claimed to have talked with the couple, and when someone from the L.A. Times called to interview her, Marilyn became involved. She went so far as to call L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi to “correct him on his ‘timeline,’ which she knew was off.” Although the authorities knew of Marilyn’s account, they chose to dismiss her. In fact “Detective Rasure was reported to have said that Marilyn Wayne was just someone who wanted her name in the papers–to be connected to a celebrity’s legend. Marilyn, like Dennis, had been bombarded with requests for interviews, but she never talked to anyone again” until contacted by another author who was writing a book about Natalie Wood.

Obviously someone didn’t want Marilyn Wayne to talk about what she knew.

“Three days after Natalie died, Marilyn found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper…that read, ‘If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.’ She immediately knew it was related to Natalie Wood’s death because that’s all anyone had been talking about. She suddenly became pretty vocal about letting everyone know she believed Natalie’s death to be accidental.

Marilyn Wayne was afraid.

When threats continued, she contacted her attorney to let him know about it and went so far as to make provisions in the event something might happen to her. John Payne did not experience any of that same kind of trouble, but John was a highly respected businessman, far wealthier than Robert Wagner. No one would bother John because of his status. Marilyn suspected she was targeted because she was the more vulnerable of the two. 

In the end…

Because of the condition of Natalie’s lungs, indicating she had by legal definition drowned, and because the coroner decided the drowning must have been “accidental,” the cause of her entry into the water was neglected. There was no way to know if her death was accidental, and in view of all her bruises, “undetermined” was the only logical choice.

But we had a chief coroner being chased by celebrity.

…fame and wealth…is it worth it?

………hugmamma.

Natalie Wood, c. 1970.

Homeless and Luckless, Piano Man Wows Internet and Gets New Start

…never too late…to live your best life…

………hugmamma.

The Feels

The city of Sarasota, Fla., has a project called “Sarasota Keys,” which installs lovely old upright pianos in public places where anyone can play. One day last week, a homeless man sat down at one of these sidewalk pianos at a public art exhibit and started playing the Styx’s “Come Sail Away.” Passersby took notice, pulling out smartphones to capture the moment and dollar bills to thank the musician.

Donald Gould, 51, a scrawny man of “cave man” appearance with scraggly hair and unkempt beard, kept his eyes on the keys and his music filled Main Street in downtown Sarasota, Fla.

Gould, or “Boone” as he is known around town, said he only wanted to earn a few bucks. A week later, video of his impromptu performance has been viewed more than 7.5 million times on YouTube and more than 5 million times on Facebook, with the videographer, Aroar Natasha,

View original post 599 more words

living her best life: #52…in it together

Today I text Pat…

Will post something today. Always thinking of you both, hoping you’re fine. God bless you for your strength and no nonsense ways. How are the boys? How’s Brad? How’s living been with others? I love you…

And  she text back…

I think the boys are fine…haven’t been up to texting them either. Doing okay…not great…passed out this morning in the shower so had to be admitted for observation. Prior to that I was doing pretty good. Just exhausted and constantly foggy. Thank God I have Brad with me.

Living with others has been great…it really does help both the patient and caregiver.

…God bless the mayo clinic…all the folks at gift of life transplant house

…and especially pat and brad.

………hugmamma.img_4416.jpg

living her best life: #51…a little tough

The easy banter has subsided. A more somber tone replaces Pat’s heretofore lightheartedness. Can’t say I blame her. In fact, how she’s remained so cool, calm and collected until now is something I can’t fathom. I’m sure most of us would give in to a little belly-aching now and then. Not Pat. The woman doesn’t know belly-aching. The day they left us on their way to Minnesota, Brad told me that, except for a few brief moments of frustration, Pat never complains. Doesn’t surprise me.

Ask any of the so-called “outlaws.” Our spouses, all siblings, are almost saint-like. We “outlaws” keep our better-halves anchored to earth with our very human failings. We like to think of ourselves as…merry-makers. We’re always…always…making merry.

On 7/17, Pat texted…Hi [hugmamma]…I think I’m doing pretty good…considering. Just tired most of the time, taking things now day by day, moment by moment. Feel pretty groggy for the better part of the day, trying to eat and drink more but it’s hard. Trying to also manage my meds…which is the toughest part. Doc says I’m doing good but they still talk about the low point being 12 days out as my counts continue to drop. So I don’t know if feeling good at one point in the day is a turning point or just a good moment to be embraced while it lasts. All I know is I can’t wait to go home. Love to you and [my brother].

On 7/18, yesterday, Pat texted. 

Hi [hugmamma]…thought I’d send a quick update…haven’t felt much like posting or journaling lately. Today is Day +5. I take a blood test every morning and meet with a nurse and doctor to go over any problems, side effects etc. I also go in morning and night to get anti-nausea meds through my central line.

Luckily Dr. Gertz has this month’s rotation so I see him often. According to him I’m doing as well as can be expected. Although now we have to watch even closer for any signs of infection. I’m basically at the half way point to the bottom…another 5-6 days and I should be at the turning point when my stem cells will start taking over and I’ll start feeling better. I don’t do much but rest when I can.

Brad has been great…he does everything from making my meals, to keeping track of my meds, water and food intake plus washing clothes and especially encouraging me by counting down the days and reminding me that i’m doing well.

This is not easy but it’s bearable knowing that everyone is praying for me back home. I hope you can post an update but if not, maybe you can just forward this text to the rest of the family.

I love you…Pat.

…and i love you…we all do.

………hugmamma.

THIS is the real ME! ... I pinky swear...

THIS is the real ME! … I pinky swear…

 

living her best life: #50…more girl talk

On 7/11, Pat texted…Hi [hugmamma]how exciting to be planning [a] wedding. We are looking forward to visiting Nashville next year.

Right now I am lying in bed getting the infusion of chemo…almost done. The bad side effects (IF ANY!) will start after a few days. Just gotta get through the next … Sorry…nurse came in and we are done. Heading back to the house…will text or email later.

Hi[hugmamma]got back to the house and took a nap…ready for some food now…always ready to eat. Have to make the most of the good days…thank God havent’ had any bad ones yet. 

So what is [your daughter’s] color scheme? Will the maid of honor and bridesmaids wear different dresses in the same color palette? I like that trend. So as the bride’s parents are you planning everything or are [the groom]s mom and sister helping? Just don’t get too stressed…did they set a date? I doubt you will get back to Hawaii between now and then so at some point I will get all the aunties and cousins together for a bridal shower…Hawaiian style…we’ll videotape and send it to you.

To which I replied…That is sooo beautiful. Made me cry. Been crying off and on…hormone therapy…oye vay! Also watching Hallmark Xmas tear jerkers…besides which I’m realizing that I’m losing my daughta. No more inside family jokes among the three of us. Have to mind my p’s and q’s…at least til I get really comfortable with [SIL.] He’s very nice…but we’ve only been with him twice now…in close quarters, for sure. Anyway, thank goodness I’ve you to confide in. You know [your brother]…don’t worry, be happy. Thank God, you [and your siblings] are so laid back.

Because [SIL and PIL] plan a trip to Hawaii, with our help, I am sure they’d really appreciate you’re all…whoever wants, of course…to contribute to their honeymoon fund. As you might guess, they have all the household goods they need…and clothes…since [PIL] has lived on her own for 11 years. Again, only a suggestion. 

Continue to pray you stay under the radar as far as the effects of chemo goes. How’s Brad doing with being the “hausfrau”??? hugs…

To which Pat replied…That’s a great idea…we can do a “bring them home” theme. 

Brad says the mistress of the mansion has not yelled at him yet…we do pretty good together…must be that “don’t worry, be happy” thing. For now when I watch movies, they are all comedies…I’m thinking of streaming the old Carol Burnett Show…

Then me…You and Brad haven’t had to put your feet in a kiddie pool yet? [hugmamma here: I had kidded Pat a while ago about visiting with her in Minnesota and the two of us dangling our feet in a plastic kiddie pool to cool off in Minnesota’s hot, humid summer heat.]

Then Pat…No…to pretend we’re on a relaxing vacation or because of the weather? It’s comfortably warm here…cooler when it’s overcast.

Me…Just got that..so there’s a mistress of the mansion? Someone who takes charge??? Hmmm…interesting.

[No reply from Pat.]

Today is the first day it’s not sweltering. TG we had our AC serviced. It was starting to poop out.

Pat…It’s really hot in Hawaii too with several tropical storms back to back blocking the trade winds. Luckily, so far they’ve tracked away from the islands.

People see Brad making dinner and serving me…a few have commented to get used to it and make sure he continues to do it at home!

Me…Too many distractions in Hawaii…like fishing and work, of course.

On 7/13, I texted…Love you both…the flowers are lovely, especially since they’re from two of God’s best people on His earth…armfuls of hugs and smooshies!

On 7/17, I texted…How are you doing? Hope you’re okay. Let me know. Love you two…lots!

…and i do.

………hugmamma.IMG_4128

 

living her best life: #49…hanging in there

It’s been some time since I’ve shared Pat’s journey toward better health.  Chock it up to my daughter’s recent engagement…yyyeeeaaayyy!!!…and the current flurry of emails, phone calls and text messages as we try to plan her 2016 summer wedding. We both agree…it would be so much easier if we were both in the same place, instead of 2,000 miles apart.

Meanwhile, my thoughts are never far from my dear sister-in-law and her devoted husband. Wish I were with them to offer quiet support, uproarious laughter, and lots of hugs. Since I can’t be there…posting Pat’s journey is the next best thing I can offer.

Pat’s communication has been sporadic given her full time job taking care of business at The Mayo Clinic. 

On 6/30, Pat texted…I’ll still be sending you stuff that I don’t post myself. There’s so much stuff that I just need to write down so I don’t forget…blogging is hard work. [hugmamma here: Tell me about it! Blogging’s not for the faint of heart. I can’t even keep up these days.] It took forever to write one journal entry and that’s not even getting into the heavy stuff. I’ll send the link again. The website is Caring Bridge. There is a link called “tributes” which can be misleading. It’s donations for Caring Bridge itself and not specifically for me and Brad. It allows people like us to create a free website. Just want to make sure everyone is aware of that. 

We are acclimating…trying to get into some sort of routine. Brad is working, just finished a couple of loads of laundry and making the beds. I like it here…it’s very clean but still homey. [hugmamma here: They are staying at Gift Of Life Transplant House…a home that helps and heals. Mayo Clinic cancer patients live there during their course of treatment. Reservations are on a…first come, first serve basis. Bedrooms and bathrooms are private at a rate of $30/day. The public spaces are shared…including the refrigerator. It’s like summer camp…]

People are very nice and helpful…some have been here for quite a while.

How are things going with you and the family? Has Gary [hugmamma here: Gary’s my future SIL…son-in-law. In fact that’s what we call him. He started calling me MIL…mother-in-law…first…almost as soon as we returned from caring for our daughter during her recovery from the second surgery to repair her bowel wall. Then the running joke expanded to calling my husband FIL…father-in-law. Of course my sweet daughter needed a name, so I called her PIL. So here we are one soon-to-be happy foursome…FIL…MIL…PIL…and, of course, SIL…the guy who started it all.] gotten [my brother] to sit down and talk story yet? What have you been doing and more importantly…what have you been eating? [hugmamma here: Pat knows me too well. And no, I’ve not stuck to my diet. And no, I’ve not been exercising either. So…blah!]

We are trying to see a bit of Rochester [Minnesota] while I’m up to it and able…so we go out every day. Tomorrow we’re going to tour the Plummer House. Dr. Plummer was the first surgeon the Drs. Mayo brought in. Grand old homes where a lot of the first Mayo doctors still live today. It’s called Pill Hill. [hugmamma here: Big chuckle. My daughter’s got a hill named after her…]

Very interesting history surrounding the Mayo Clinic. Well, we’re off to Trader Joe’s…2:30 and we’re just getting out of the house.

Pat provided the Caring Bridge link… http://www.caringbridge.org

On 7/2, Pat texted…Hi [hugmamma] …how are things going? We’re doing good over here…vacation is officially over…got 4 teeth pulled today…told my girlfriend it hurt like hell, but I got a prescription for ice cream! Waiting now to meet with the transplant coordinator. Will have the weekend off…Monday morning I’ll have a central line put in…basically surgery to put in a catheter then a class in the afternoon to educate us on how to care for it. Tuesday will be the start of collecting stem cells. That will go thru Fiday if I need that many days. That’s all that’s on the schedule for now. [Are your daughter and her boyfriend still with you?]

Just found out I don’t get off that easy…nuprogen shots start tomorrow…one shot every day throughout the collection period…the sooner we get started…the sooner we can go home! [hugmamma here: Amen to that, girlfriend!!!]

[hugmamma here: Among other things, I told Pat “Love you. Hope you’re ok. Love Brad too…and the boys…and the dog. Is he still alive?]

Yes the dog and the rabbit are both still alive…the boys are doing fine. Not sure how clean the house is though. We are okay. Love you too…pass it on to your family.

[hugmamma here: So then I told Pat about SIL asking us, FIL and MIL, for PIL’s hand in marriage.]

Congratulations! I can imagine him trying to get a word in before you guys move on to the next thing…does he still have to formally propose to [your daughter]? [hugmamma here: Then we went back and forth about wedding dresses and all that good stuff, which I’ll fill you in on later.]

On 7/7, Pat texted…Weather is warm here too, but I’m usually cold cause we’re always indoors. Our room is on the basement level so it’s a lot cooler…cold. Things are going well here. Did the stem cell collection this morning…collected enough in one day where it normally takes 2-4 days…so we might have a few free days again. Next step is to meet with Dr. Hertz and schedule chemo and transplant.

…lots of hugs and prayers, pat and brad…

…you’re always on my mind.

………hugmamma.Butterfly-Header

living her best life: #48…let’s do this!

That’s what Pat’s been saying for some time now.

“Let’s do this.”

And so she is.

Hi [hugmamma.]  We are doing good.

The first day here was a whole bunch of tests…the worst of it being the bone marrow biopsy. No pain afterwards just a little discomfort. We were at the clinic all day from 7:30 until 4:30 and that was after arriving at the Transplant House at about 2:30 a.m. Needless to say we were both dead tired.

The 2nd day started at 7:30 again and ended at about 5 with visit with an oral surgeon. I get to have teeth pulled! [hugmamma here…Pat’s molars have not been properly aligned for some time now which has impeded her chewing food properly, which has contributed to her rapid weight loss.] Because they are loose and roots exposed, there is a great risk of infection after the transplant so they got to go. I was thinking what else can I get fixed while I’m here? We also got a little tour of the area where they do the stem cell collection and got an education on that whole process and on diet and nutrition after the transplant.

Today was a short day…a meeting with the transplant coordinator and with Dr. Hertz. Everything still looks good and we are moving forward. We have nothing scheduled for the next 5 days (paperwork between Kaiser and Mayo) so we’ll have time to just relax, get used to living in the transplant house and give Brad a crash course on how to turn on a stove! So far so good…Applebee’s is not too far away.

It’d be great if you continued the blog…when you have time. I’m also going to set up a web page where everyone can check on what’s going on. I’ll send you the link before I invite everyone else. 

Living in the house so far has been good. Others here are very helpful…it takes a little getting used to sharing the kitchen space with others. We have to get over feeling like we are guests in some one else’s kitchen. We made our own breakfast for the first time today. Only down side is I can’t just grab a cookie and sit on the couch…no food outside of dining areas…drinks are okay. Brad is doing okay with chores so far because I’m able to help. Gotta get him comfortable in the kitchen…shouldn’t be too hard. Will be heading to Trader Joe’s later today.

Spoke to the boys a few times. They seem to be doing okay. Planning to “face time” with them on Sunday. Maybe I can get them to show me what the house looks like, or maybe I don’t want to know. 

…love and prayers, pat and brad…from all of us.

………hugmamma.

living her best life #47: counting down…

…until I’m home again. That’s what’s foremost in Pat’s mind, having touched down in Rochester, Minnesota only 48 hours or so ago.

After spending a couple of days with my husband and me sightseeing in and around Seattle and its environs, Pat and Brad headed to The Mayo Clinic where they will now spend the next month-and-a-half. To get them off on the right foot, so to speak, we were intent upon wining and dining them and making them smile and laugh until they were exhausted, falling into bed…happy as clams tucked snugly into their shells for the night. And I mean snugly since they insisted on sharing the vintage double bed in our former master bedroom suite-turned- guest suite. They opted not to share our daughter’s queen-size bed, probably because they knew she’d be enroute home the day they left.

Arriving from Honolulu where they reside Sunday evening, we drove to a casual waterfront restaurant where I’d made reservations for us to celebrate Father’s Day. Dining outdoors on the deck was like being in Hawaii, the sun beating down without letup. While the others weren’t bothered by the heat, I almost followed through on the server’s suggestion to check out their souvenir shop for visors. Instead I decided that if Pat could withstand the sun’s rays, so could I. If there’s one thing I’ve since learned from her it’s not to be a wuss.

On Monday we traveled into Seattle from where we live in the suburbs to visit the Chihuly Museum. Pat had asked to see it, and like her fairy godparents, my husband and I wanted to grant her wish. Even though we’d been there before, we did not need to be asked twice to return to the museum again. For those unfamiliar with master glass blower Chihuly, he has become a global phenomenon because of the glass structures he has created to mimic the beauty found in nature. His museum is not to be missed. In fact, seeing it again my husband and I were once more awed by how the outdoor gardens had matured around Chihuly’s glass creations.

Following our tour of the glass museum, we lunched in the Sky Cafe high atop Seattle’s  landmark Space Needle. When asked if she’d prefer…a great view and good food…or great food and a good view…Pat said she wasn’t aware there was a restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. I’m sure she’d agree, the view AND the food were awesome. While dining, the restaurant did 2-3 revolutions showing us all of Seattle a couple of times over as we sat enjoying our meal. Afterwards, we stepped out onto the Observation Deck one level above to enjoy the gentle breezes of the outdoors while gazing down at the rooftops of the myriad buildings below.

Before leaving the city, we headed to Seattle Center’s huge fountain, an attraction for old and young alike…adults chilling while children frolic in the water cascading down from on high after being shot into the air as though from a cannon. Again, Pat remained in the scorching heat with the men as wimpy me sought comfort under the canopy of trees offering shelter from the afternoon sun. Oh well. I am a decade older than my sister-in-law so maybe I can claim old age as an excuse.

To round out a wonderful day, we enjoyed a casual meal at a Japanese restaurant closer to home. It’s always nice to visit with our nephew Kanoa and his wife Erica. The evening was made even more special by their beguiling 6-month-old, Luca. He literally charmed the pants off of all of us…well, at least mine.

When we sent Pat and Brad on their way the next day, it was with armfuls of love and prayers. And I know they’ll continue to need as much from all of us as they prepare for what lies ahead.

…love and prayers, pat and brad.

………hugmamma

facing our demons…

When I was a child growing up in Wailuku on the sleepy island of Maui, I sometimes wished I could attend Sunday service at the Jehovah Witnesses Hall near my family’s rented house. Walking past the Hall on my way to buy a few things at the grocery store, I could hear the members singing. Unlike the solemnity of my own Catholic church, the Jehovah Witnesses sounded like they were having a blast. What I wouldn’t have given to sing my heart out just like those folks. 

While I never thought twice about what the Jehovah witnesses looked like, I assumed they were blacks. Why? Because of pictures I’d seen on TV and in print of blacks smiling and clapping their hands as they sang their prayers to God. I wanted to be like them. Still do.

I believe in a joyful God, one who focuses upon goodness. One who overlooks our flaws, knowing we will improve…if we want to improve. 

This morning as I watched CNN news, I wished I was sitting among the parishioners of the church where 9 blacks had been gunned down. 

If you’re asking “Why?” The simple answer is “Because instead of hatred for the racist killer, those present inside and outside the church were filled with love for the victims.” As one commentator put it…the dead are now in heaven with God…having died in the church they loved. 

Unlike the media, the church goers were focused solely upon their loved ones.

According to that same commentator, we cannot deny the killer’s ideology of racial hatred. In fact, we should not. We need to face it head on, armed with the ideology of love.

The fact is…evil exists…as does good. The battle will continue as long as mankind does.

If we can learn from the congregation of Charleston’s Emanuel AME, to honor one another with love…

…good will always conquer evil.

………hugmamma.

living her best life #42: an outpouring of love

When I offered to chronicle her life as a cancer patient, I did so wanting to give Pat an outlet to vent, to get her feelings onto “paper” and out of her head. Blogging these last 5 years has been cathartic for me; I thought it might be the same for my sister-in-law. Writing her story was also a way for me to do something more tangible than just praying.

Don’t get me wrong. Prayer is powerful. I just wanted to do something more, and writing was right up my alley.

Pat’s reason for doing this journal was two-fold. She wanted to provide readers with insight into how individuals with cancer live from day to day. Her desire was to help other cancer patients and their caregivers. She wanted them to know…they were not alone.

Equally important to Pat, was to have her journey with cancer chronicled so that she could remember the good moments and the not-so-good ones. She wanted to look back and thumb her nose at the Big C, once she’d beaten it into remission.

It goes without saying that the loving support of family, friends, even strangers, is hugely important to Pat. She’d be the first to say…her strength to endure has come from her community of caregivers. I couldn’t agree more.

In response to an email sent to update those closest to her about her first day at The Mayo Clinic, Pat received the following outpouring of well wishes.

Steph…I’m glad everything is working out…hope you win plenty at the casino!…safe trip home…sending you prayers and warm hugs!
Lei…You’re numbers may be unremarkable, but you my friend are remarkable!…you know I’d be taking you to the Mall of America…nothing beats chemotherapy like retail therapy!…tell Brad to keep you happy, “happy wife…”…love you tons and big nalo hugs!
Richard…Your positive outlook and sense of humor in the face of adversity are such an inspiration…our prayers and positive thoughts are with you and the boys…love you all!!
Bozo…Pat and Brad, just wanted to add the newest member to our family, Lauren, sends her love too…let us know if u need anything…love u.
Mary L….Pat and Brad, you and the boys are always in our thoughts and prayers…we love you!

And then there was the buzz of caring concern and love via text messages to one another…

Wow thank you! I emailed her too and was waiting for a response. Great news! … Thank you Jen for the update. Aunty Pat sounds upbeat…have good feelings. … Thanks Jen. I’m happy to hear the consultation was good! I was praying so hard for her today. Even though this i a type of aggressive cancer – I’m begging God to heal our sister and Aunty. He tells us to pray interceding for others. Join me in prayer and intercede in Pats behalf for God to perform a miracle in her body!! Love you all!! … Thank you Jen. To all – let’s keep one another updated with whatever info we hear. I know we are all concerned for Pat, and hope for the best for her and her family. Love to all. Lil. … Thank you Jen and to all the family for the continued prayers. Miracles happen through the power of prayer! Love you all. Louise. … Thanks, Jen. Also texted aunt Pat to see how she’s doing. So many responses to her email. Everyone is pulling for her. Love, Kathi.

It takes a village sending an abundance of healing sentiments to ensure that Pat’s in a good place. 

…and she’s deserving of all the love being showered upon her.

………hugmamma.