Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mothers Day with Helen

Sunday May 12, 1991

What a glorious Mother's Day! It's sunny and 70 degrees. Frank has given me a beautiful card and a bottle of Obsession perfume. I have received very meaningful cards from all the family including Justin.

Mother arrives from Gene & Cathy's brunch at 1:00. We leave for Frank's folks where Gary and Maria will meet us. Gary gives me the "Best" card ever. It really has wonderful sentiment. It tells me he appreciates the kind of mom I've tried to be. He also gives me a sundress for Hawaii.

We all go to dinner at Charlie Brown's for prime rib and shrimp.

Back at the folk's house Betty and Al come over. We have a lovely visit. I'm tired. Mother is doing great considering she left the desert this morning at 7 a.m.

Grandma Helen lived in Desert Hot Springs in a senior community. She lived alone after the death of her husband Al some years earlier. In 1991 she was 83 years old. Her son (mom's brother Gene) lives in Pasadena where Helen went for brunch. Grandma Helen insisted on living on her own until health problems at the end of her life forced her to live in an assisted living home in Pasadena where Uncle Gene and Aunt Cathy could more easily visit her. She outlived her daughter and died at the old age of 89. The photo above was taken at Christmas 1988 at mom and Frank's home in Simi Valley. From the left are mom (Dolores Reina), myself, my brother Gary Lucky, and Grandma Helen Richardson.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dolores & Steve

Saturday May 11, 1991

Busy morning, Frank and I giving each other permanents. Of course, I put all the curlers in. Frank puts the chemicals on.

We enjoy french toast together. I am sleeping much better now. Frank works in the yard and I putter about.

Dolores arrives about 5:30 and we take her to dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant. She brought me a lovely lily plant. She stays until 8 p.m. when she leaves to spend tomorrow with her mom--Mother's Day.

Dee and Steve have found a house they'd like to buy in San Diego and plan to make an offer. Steve is at his mom's house.

We go for a yogurt and watch TV. In bed for whoopee by 10:30.

Dolores is Frank's daughter, currently still living with her husband Steve in San Diego. She and Steve met when she went to college at San Diego State. She is a teacher and Steve is an architect. They have 2 teenage children. Strange coincidence that Frank's daughter and mom share the same not-common name. The above photo was taken at Dolores and Steve's wedding in 1986. From the left are Frank's son Paul, mom and Frank, Frank's daughter Dolores and her husband Steve, Frank's daughter-in-law Debbie and Frank's son Philip with their son Joey, Frank's mother Florence and his father John. John died shortly after mom's death in 1993.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cathy Thomas

Friday May 10, 1991

Slept much better last night. Was awake for no more than 20 minutes, about 3 a.m. Feeling great today! Walked down to the bank, had a taco lunch and walked home. I was gone 1-1/2 hours and felt great when I got home. A couple of months ago I was feeling so punk I could no longer walk that far. Walking that far made me feel physically ill and I would have to lie down. I haven't felt this good in a year.

Puttered in the yard and did some ironing. By 6 p.m. I was ready to flake out so we watched TV and fell asleep but did wake up in time to see "Big Business", a movie we have a financial interest in.

Cathy Thomas called this morning. We have such good talks. She is a wonderful sister-in-law.

Wow, I'm not sure how one chemotherapy treatment has suddenly given mom relief from so many ailments and sudden energy.

She is right about Uncle Gene's wife Cathy. After mom passed away, Aunt Cathy made a point of becoming a surrogate mom to me. Mom and I used to talk for at least an hour every week. Aunt Cathy started checking in one me monthly. We both missed mom.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Overwhelming Love

Thursday May 9, 1991

Sally came by for a visit for 2 hours today. She was very surprised at how well I looked. We talked alot about religion and feelings and faith. And we talked about her worries and concerns, especially in regard to her children. It was good.

I am eating quite well and holding my weight at 153. On January 1 this year I weighed 178. I had been weighing in the mid 170s for some years and it feels wonderful to be this weight. Actually, I'd really love to weigh 137 again, which is what I weighed 9 years ago when Frank and I married.

Tonight we went to Arlan Miller's square dancing class. It was alot of fun.

Frank and I have always cared very deeply for each other, but these days the feeling is almost overwhelming. We say "I love you" alot more and really show it.

Sally is Frank's ex-wife, mother of his 3 children Phil, Paul and Dolores. Notice how even though mom is the one who is facing death, she is still a friend to Sally and a sounding board for her to express her concerns for her children.

Mom battled her weight all her life, right to the end, and she passed that issue on to her daughter.

I knew mom really loved Frank and he worshipped her, but I did not know their love was so deep that it felt overwhelming. Frank confided to me after mom had passed away that she was his soulmate and he would never find another like her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Even the Mailman is Praying

Wednesday May 8, 1991

I have my acrylic nails done today. I've had my fake fingernails for 9 years. I wonder if that is healthy. Do my fingernails need to breath? I am thinking about having the dentist remove all the silver fillings and put in porcelain. I've heard lately, that the silver is toxic to our systems. I want to do whatever I can to help my body be atrong to fight the cancer.

The dentist bonds a tooth today where the enamel is worn away at the gumline. I have about 10 of those now.

At Frank's doctor appointment, he says the pain in Frank's left chest is muscle pull. Thank God! I need him strong and well.

We drive out to Palmdale with a load of firewood for Paul and Phil. Judy and Paul have made us a lovely and delicious salmon dinner. Baby Tayler sleeps while we eat, but she's crying alot at night we hear.

The mailman gave me a hug today and wished me a Happy Mother's Day. He knows and is praying for me.

As I mentioned before, mom made friends with everyone, even the mailman. She is getting hugs and prayers from all of them.

A Cure For What Ails You?

Tuesday May 7, 1991

Sleeping til 8 a.m. lately, making up for lost sleep fropm 2-4 a.m. each night, I guess. Feeling more energetic and less arthritic than usual. Not allowed to take Motrin for my arthritic knees, thumbs, shoulders, neck and back, but that all seems to bother me less than a few months ago, another reason I'm feeling so well. Haven't noticed any hair loss. My bladder hasn't performed so well in months. A trip to the bathroom every 2-3 hours seems quite normal. Bowels are working perfect also. Even my allergies and cough have subsided.

Tonight we have Robbie and Dolores and Shirley and Jim over to meet. They are going to Alaska in their RVs and share information. Maybe they will see each other there. They seem to like each other. We pig out on angel food cake, strawberries and whip cream. All diet, of course.

OK, I have never heard of chemotherapy being a cure for arthritis, allergies and a cough! Mom had frequent pain in her shoulders and had cortisone injections several times. She had orthoscopic surgery on her knees a few years earlier, and every morning she woke up with a cough. Not sure what she was allergic to. She hadn't smoked a cigarette in 25 years.

Hot Flashes

Monday May 6, 1991

Kick back day. Slept late. Lots of linens and laundry to do. Arrived at the dentist at 1:30 for cleaning. Ran errands.

Went square dancing 7:30-9:30. I'm not sleeping very well lately. I have a hard time going to sleep at 11 p.m. Then wake up at 2 a.m. and can't sleep for 1-2 hours. Why? I don't know. I am hot alot and am having hot flashes again.

Wow, for the third night in a row, Mom and Frank are out square dancing, in spite of her not sleeping well! The chemo sure isn't keeping her down. For several years mom was on hormone replacement therapy, which is probably what caused her cancer to grow on her ovaries. Between the cancer and the cessation of the HRT, no wonder she was suddenly experiencing hot flashes again!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Engagement Ring Surprise

Sunday May 5, 1991

Shirley, Marc, Frank and I went to church. It was childrens day and they sang and read prayers and collected the offering. It was really sweet. Helen our neighbor played piano.

After church we went to Gary's where he and Maria treated us to a delicious lunch. Maria surprised us with an engagement ring Gary had just given her. No date yet for the wedding. Gary and Marc hadn't seen each other in many years so they had a good visit.

Frank and I changed into our square dance clothes and drove Shirley and Marc to the flyaway bus, then headed for Oxnard to square dance with friends. Several of us went to dinner at Jessie Cates afterward. It was a busy but nice weekend for us. I was no more tired than Frank. I'm doin' fine.

Gary and Maria had been together for almost 10 years, but didn't get married until June 8, 1992. They were both in their late 30s and Maria had 2 pre-teen boys Gabe and Joe, but Gary wanted a child of his own.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Next Time I See You May Be In Heaven

Saturday May 4, 1991

Frank and I got up early for breakfast. He left about 8:00 a.m. to pick up Marc, Shirley's son, in Van Nuys, at the bus terminal.

It was great to see Marc. We had become very close last year when his grandmother, my Aunt Ila, had grown so ill and I went up to spend some time. It was a difficult time as she was on a respirator and too weak to communicate. She died a few weeks later and Frank and I went to Sacramento again for her funeral.

We spent the day sightseeing in Simi Valley and playing pool. We took them with us to our square dance in the evening and they watched us spin around the room with all our friends.

I remember my last words to Aunt Ila were "The next time I see you may be here or may be in Heaven."

Sounds like mom is the one having the premonition now. That last sentence was written in later with a different pen, like it was an after thought, something that she had just remembered. Mom had visited her Aunt Ila the year before as she lay dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. Aunt Ila was afraid to go off the respirator and mom tried to encourage her to let go. A few weeks later she did go off the respirator and passed away. I wonder if mom had any idea that she would be joining her aunt in heaven so soon?

"It's Always Something" by Gilda Radner

Friday May 3, 1991

Shirley and I have a lovely morning on the patio in our night clothes. She is being very gracious about smoking outdoors. Just a whiff of her smoke starts me coughing though. She came to help me around the house but I don't need it so she begins to read Gilda Radner's book "It's Always Something." It's the story in Gilda's words about her fight with ovarian cancer like mine. Gilda lost her fight, but she was very different from me in every way. She had lots of physical problems that I don't have and she didn't deal with it well, mentally. She was a very high strung creative person. I am very calm and determined.

Oddly, Chris had given me Gilda's book a couple of years ago. It's the only book she had ever give me. A premonition??

Shirley and I went out to lunch and shopped for hours.

Did I have a premonition? Why did I buy mom that book? It was 20 years ago and I can't remember what made me buy it. Cousin Shirley was a chain smoker who lived her life with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. I can't believe mom put up with it!

Cousin Shirley's Visit

Thursday May 2, 1991

I have been very busy cleaning the house this week in anticipation of Cousin Shirley Ray's visit for 4 days.

I pick up Shirley in Van Nuys at the fly-away bus terminal. She looks great! We lunch at Coco's and have the best chicken oriental salad. After lunch we drive by my 2 rental houses and then Shirley's old home in Northridge. The house looks very different. It is nostalgia time. We talk alot about the old days and our childhoods. We dig up some old and painful memories, but it is good. We have always been very close. I am all the family she has except for her 2 sons.

Cousin Shirley is Aunt Ila's daughter. Aunt Ila was mom's father's sister. They shared an abusive father and a mother who ran away with the circus. Both became alcoholics as did Cousin Shirley. I'm sure that had something to do with the painful childhood memories she refers to. Shirley's sister committed suicide when I was a little girl. Cousin Shirley is so deep in her addiction by this time that mom is the only friend she has left. Shirley would often call mom in the middle of the night drunk as could be crying about her terrible childhood. When mom died, Shirley drank herself to death shortly thereafter. So sad!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bob & Anita

Wednesday May 1, 1991

Feeling great! Took a walk.

Frank and I drive out to Judy and Paul's in Palmdale for dinner. Judy's mom and dad, Anita and Bob are there for the week to help out with the baby. Anita has invited us out for a turkey dinner. What a treat! Turkey with all the fixens. We both eat too much.

Baby Tayler is so pretty and is growing so we can tell the difference in a week and a half. We talk about the cruise to Alaska we are taking with Bob and Anita in July/August. It will be great fun! We really like Bob and Anita.

It's so easy for mom to make new friends and now she is reaping the benefit of having lots of support from them. The cancer is not slowing her down at all. She is leaving for Hawaii in a week and on an Alaskan cruise in a couple months. Two years from this day mom will leave us for her heavenly place.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Be in the 15%

Tuesday April 30, 1991

A quiet day with time to talk to my neighbors who are concerned about me.

I start my 45 minute walks again and finally make some more phone calls to friends to tell them about my cancer. I tell everyone the same thing. I have a 15% change of living more than 5 years according to what we've read. I intend to be in that 15%. I'm young, healthy, strong, and determined. And most of all I have faith that God will pull me through, thanks to all the many people who are praying for me.

On the other hand I am quite ready to accept the alternative as well.

As determined as mom was do everything humanly possible to fight her cancer, she knew that ultimately it was God's decision whether she would be in that 15%. She was completely at peace with whatever God had planned for her. She also knew that God hears our prayers. That's why she asked all her friends to pray for her. Romans 12:12 says "Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blurred Vision

Monday April 29, 1991

It's just another normal laundry day. I'm doing all the housework now and life seems completely normal.

I do have one concern that hasn't been addressed though. A few months ago I was sitting watching TV one day and my vision suddenly became blurred. It lasted about 10 minutes. I mentioned it to Dr. Shussell and he didn't think it anything to worry about. But now it has happened 3 times. I will mention it to Dr. Russack.

We're back to normal in square dancing but need more practice to catch up.

The Thomas Family

Sunday April 28, 1991

Today we really enjoyed working in the yard. Frank moved the heather and planted some annuals for me. The yard is so beautiful. The rose bushes are full of blooms. We love our yard and really enjoy just looking at it.

In the late afternoon we go to Gene and Cathy's for dinner. They surprise us by having all the kids there. I'm delighted as I want everyone to see that I'm not sick and I look good! Cathy has been so concerned and sending cards and letters and calling me on the phone.

We have a lovely enchilada dinner on the patio. The grandchildren (4) are getting so big. They are 9 months, 1 year, 3 years and 4 years old. Lynne is so helpful to her mom in the kitchen. She has news of a new beau.

Taking care of the back yard was a full time job for Frank. It is huge and kept meticulously maintained. Frank's son Paul had his wedding in their backyard with the beautiful lavender jacaranda tree as a backdrop for the ceremony. A nice example of a jacaranda tree is shown above.

Mom's brother Gene and his wife Cathy have 3 children: Perry who is 2 years younger than me, Guy born 2 years later and Lynne who was born 10 years later. In the photo above taken in 1997 at Grandma Helen's funeral starting from the left are my sister-in-law Maria and my brother Gary hiding behind her, Lisa, Guy's wife, then their son Patrick, Guy, his daughter Allison, Perry's daughter Brittany, my cousin Lynne behind Perry's daughter Lindsay, myself, my cousin Perry in the white hat, his wife Cathy, and my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Gene. Lynne didn't marry the new beau but she did marry an attorney in Seattle in 1999 and they have 3
children now, Emerson, Eloisa, and Ellington.

"What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Cancer"

Saturday April 27, 1991

We leave early to attend a film in Santa Monica called "What Your Doctor Won't Tell You About Cancer." The film talks about prevention, diet and treatments. It is narrated by film star Eddie Albert who is there in person. It seems there are many who believe in Laetrile, which is only available in Mexico, as a cure for cancer.

After the film we walk around the Santa Monica Mall and have a lovely salad at an outdoor cafe. From there we go to Dave's "surprise" 60th birthday party in Culver City. Dave is Myra's hubby. What a party! Mariachis, disc jockey, balloons, and food, food, food. We have a nice time talking to Sean and Melissa, Jeannie, Duane and Myra. Enjoyed the party.

Some slight abdominal pain.

The documentary mom and Frank saw in Santa Monica was produced by Chuck Wintner, an award winning film producer whose other works include Victims and Angel Dust. "What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Cancer" was the winner of the Houston International Film Festival for Best Investigative Documentary and Silver Medalist in the 1992 New York Film Festival for Best Documentary.

The 72-minute documentary, hosted by Eddie Albert, exposes the conflicts of interests within major medical institutions that have led to the failed war on cancer. The Cancer Control Society and several of its members are highlighted in the film. Testimonials by patients using Conventional and Unconventional Therapies are included. Eddie Albert lived til the ripe old age of 99 and died May 27, 2005.