Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Katakolon, Greece

Friday October 2, 1992 Katakolon, Greece

Slept in til 8 a.m. Had 9 a.m. breakfast on the back of the ship. Ate too much. Terrible stomach pains again. Now I feel I want to sleep again. We are anchored out from the Greek island of Katakolan. It's a quiet little village and houses built right on the water. Looks like a high tide would flood them. We take the tender to the village where there are a few shops. It's a lovely day.

I don't feel well at all. We decide to cancel our 9-hour trip for tomorrow and change to a 5-hour trip. I must see the doctor to cancel. He gives me some antibiotics and sends me to bed, willingly. He says take the pain pills Dr. Schwartz gave me. I couldn't eat lunch or dinner today. I can hardly walk.

Doctor says I have a fever. Frank tells our table companions I have cancer at dinner while I'm in bed.

With all those tumors on her abdominal wall there must be tremendous pressure on her stomach. No wonder she can only eat small portions.

Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia, where the ancient Greeks flocked every four years for more than a millennium to celebrate the sacred games dedicated to Zeus. I would love to see that site some day. Too bad Mom wasn't up to the short ride to Olympia. Like I said earlier, both time I have been to Europe I spent the first week sick in bed from exhaustion and jet lag. Mom's immune system is already compromised from fighting cancer. No wonder she is sick. I think if I was ever to take a Mediterranean cruise, I would arrive in Europe a week early to adjust to the time zone.

At Sea

Thursday October 1, 1992 At Sea

Up early to have breakfast at 7:30 in the dining room. We both had waffles and ham. The ham was especially good. I'm having alot of stomach pain. I return to the cabin and lay down, sleeping off and on all morning.

We have lunch in the dining room with our table pals. After lunch we sit at the pool for awhile then check out the dance class. I watch Frank take a yoga class for awhile but feel so sleepy. I must return to the room where I sleep and try to watch a movie for an hour or so.

At 6:00 we are all dressed up for the captain's party where we have free drinks and snacks. I am careful to eat very little at dinner though the salmon is really good. We go to the Broadway show. I can barely stay awake. We go to the dance lounge until 12:30.

It sounds like a delayed reaction to the time zone change. Perhaps her body was running on adrenaline the first few days. I actually cannot believe she stayed up past midnight. Did she actually dance in the dance lounge?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Dinner Companions

Wednesday September 30, 1992

Our dinner table consists of 2 black couples, very cultured and educated. Fred is 67 and a retired executive from General Dynamics. He has travelled the world but lives in St. Louis, MO with his wife Erma 64.

John seems older as does wife Hester. They have travelled alot also. John worked in city government and is still doing volunteer work. Both couples are very nice and outgoing.

June and Bob are white and from Detroit, MI, about 65 & 67. They have travelled extensively in the 10 years they've been married. They have 9 children and 11 grandchildren. bob retired from a big ad agency in Detroit. One account was GM.

Fred and Erma have 7 kids, Bob and Hester only 2. All couples are very well off financially.

This is Mom's second entry dated September 30, which is very unusual. Perhaps she wrote it after retiring to their cabin or perhaps she was a little confused by losing one day on the flight. At any rate, Mom was always a people person. She got a tremendous amount of very detailed information from all 3 couples in just one dinner sitting. She was never shy and always showed interest in others.

The photo above is one of the few photos I have of Mom and Frank that I didn't take. I imagine that one of her dinner table companions took the photo. After Mom passed away Frank threw away thousands of photographs that Mom had meticulously cataloged over the years. She loved to take photos and always had a camera in her hand starting when she was a teenager with her Brownie camera.

$73 for a Gondola Ride?

Wednesday September 30, 1992 Venice, Italy

We slept in beautifully until 7:45. We needed that. Hurry up and get ready. They stop serving breakfast at 9:30. I feel good. We have a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, bread, fruits, and juices.

At 10:30 we take the launch to Venice. We stay til 2:30 just wandering about. Everything is so expensive. We only buy a gondola ride for $73 and a gelato ice cream for $3. There are street vendors everywhere. It's a sunny day and warm. There were no street vendors when we were here in February 1987 (out of season). There were so many people this time.

We have high tea with desserts on the ship at 4:00. Could serve as lunch, did today. We watch a hot air balloon rise out of the city and later land in the city. Strange.

We dress casual for dinner. It's good. We go to Welcome Aboard show and to bed.

Looks like Mom and Frank are having no trouble adjusting to the time change from California. That is great news!

I cannot believe that in 1992 a gondola ride cost $73. Just for curiosity sake I checked to see what it costs today, 20 years later. A 35 minute gondola ride with others goes for $57 and a private gondola ride with serenade is $223. I don't know if Mom and Frank took a private gondola ride, but if so, the price sounds about right adjusted for inflation. I hope they didn't pay that much to go with a group!

Ugh! It sounds like a big tourist trap, even at the end of September, which would seem to be off-season.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Los Angeles, California to Venice, Italy

Monday September 28/29, 1992 "Long Day"

Up at 7 a.m. to get ready to leave at 9:15 for the fly-away where we catch the 10:00 bus for LAX. At LAX we have a 2 hour wait to fly out at 1 p.m. for Paris, France. The flight is almost 11 hours. They feed us too much too often. We try to sleep, but only rest. We arrive in Paris at 10:10 a.m. (8 hours ahead). At 11:40 we fly Alitalia Airline to Venice, Italy, almost 2 hours. They feed us again.

We're picked up by bus and wisked to our Star Princess cruise ship. Our room is large and lovely. The ship is huge. We nap for 3 hours.

At dinner we are seated with 3 couples in their 60s. They are all outgoing and friendly. Lovely dinner. We take the boat to see Venice at night. It is all lighted up and quite lovely. We retire about 11 exhausted.

I have kept Mom's passport all these many years. It was issued January 5, 1987 for the ski trip to Innsbruck, Austria that I took with Mom and Frank. Surprisingly, the passport does not show a stamp for Austria, but it does have a stamp dated February 15, 1987 when we arrived at Heathrow Airport in London for an extra excursion after our ski trip. The next stamp is dated February 20, 1987 when they returned to Los Angeles.

Page 2 of the passport shows a stamp for Gatwick Airport in London in April 1990 and Page 3 shows they arrived in Venice September 29, 1992, Barcelona on October 11, and back to Los Angeles on October 13. There are 18 blank pages after these entries that should have been filled with exciting ports-of-call visited during her golden years that were stolen from her. Mom loved to travel and I know she would have taken many more trips in the past 20 years.

It cracked me up when Mom complained about being fed too much and too often on their flights. 20 years later, all we get from the airlines is non-alcoholic beverages and a bag of nuts on a flight!

I have only flown to Europe twice in my lifetime, that trip to Austria in 1987 and a 10-week trip to 14 European countries in 1974 when I graduated from college. Both times the exhaustion and jet lag put me in bed sick the first week. Will Mom adjust to the major time zone change? I can't believe she stayed up til 11 p.m. this first night!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Packing for Our Mediterranean Cruise

Sunday September 27, 1992

Up at 8:00 but tired. The dogs have been barking alot at night lately. That really disrupts our sleep. We spend the day leisurely getting packed for our trip, preparing the house and yard for our absence and making phone calls. We retire about 10:30. Some pain today, mostly discomfort.

We have decided to go to Chris and Ric's with Gary and Maria for Thanksgiving. We'll go early so I can help Chris with the cooking, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

No wonder Mom is tired. Besides the fact that she has cancer, she was up partying past midnight and then the dogs kept her up with their barking. Tomorrow she has a long day of traveling to Europe with a huge time zone change. I have only been to Europe twice, but I remember that I was sick for the first week of my trip both times due to exhaustion and jet lag.

Carol Can't Make It To Dinner

Saturday September 26, 1992

Lovely day getting ready for company tonight. Carol and Harry will come to dinner and then go square dancing with us. Carol calls to say she is ill and they probably won't make it tonight.

About 3:00 we go to Gary and Maria's party. There are about 30 adults and kids all in swimsuits. We stay about an hour. At 5:30 we eat the spaghetti Frank has made. Company is not coming.

I'm having some pains in my lower abdomen today, the first since Monday. At 7:15 we go square dancing. It's fast and hot but fun. Afterward we go to Bill and Sue's for a party. We get to sleep about 12:30 a.m.

The pace of Mom's social life sometimes wears me out just hearing about it. This is one of those days. Her friend since kindergarten Carol Peveler, now Mrs. Frank Reina, pictured above in a recent photo with Frank, can't make it to dinner, but they still make it to Gary and Maria's party, square dancing, and another party where they don't get home until after midnight. Burning the midnight oil can't do much to boost Mom's immunity, but she certainly is enjoying her last months. I know that soon her pain will increase, her energy will lag, and her health will deteriorate, and it will become harder and harder to read her journal.

Dad Might Not Make It Through Angioplasty

Friday September 25, 1992

Frank leaves at 8 a.m. to take his folks to Daniel Freeman Hospital for Dad's angiogram. I go have my nails done at 11:30. I took my walk at 8:00 a.m. I feel good. I slept well again last night.

At 3 p.m. I go to Montrose to pick up a confirmation on our hotel in Barcelona. Frank is home when I return. He is upset. The doctor could not say Dad would make it through an angioplasty. So they all agreed to do nothing right now though Dad's artery is nearly blocked. He's not a candidate for bypass because of his age.

We go to a square dance at 8 p.m. I have so much energy. I'm really bouncing tonight. Haven't felt this good in ages.

Thank goodness for the internet most of us have in our homes now. Mom had to drive 36 miles to Montrose to pick up a piece of paper confirming their hotel reservation, while today we simply click on the icon that says "Print" and our reservation confirmation is at our fingertips within seconds.

Frank's Dad John was in his 80s when it was decided not to perform angioplasty due to his age. He did outlive Mom, but not by much. He died of a heart attack within a few weeks of Mom's death in 1993. Frank's Mom Florence went into the hospital for a fairly routine surgical procedure several years later and died while under anesthesia.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cousin Shirley Is Arrested

Thursday September 24, 1992

I slept like a baby. I feel great today. Frank is at class so I walk alone in the morning. After dinner we go see Gary & Maria.

I receive a call from Raymond, a young man who lives with Shirley. He tells me Shirley is in confinement. She was arrested for drunk driving. She'll get out in December. She's been there 2 weeks and wants me to write. Raymond says he loves Shirley and wants to marry her. Raymond is about 25.

We call Paul, Phil and Dolores today to ask them to call their grandfather before his surgery tomrrow.

Wow, I knew Cousin Shirley, pictured above on the left with her family, was an alcoholic, but I never knew she spent time in jail. This obviously was not her first offense for drunk driving if she was given a 3-month sentence. It must have been horrible for her! But not so horrible that she would give up alcohol. She got drunk the night of Mom's funeral and when we went to breakfast the next morning, she was a mess. Her disease killed her a year after Mom passed away. So sad, she was even younger than Mom, maybe 50. Her boyfriend is only 25? Very strange. Maybe they are drinking buddies.


Wednesday September 23, 1992

Had another bad night of pain. After hours of not sleeping well I prayed to God to relieve my pain so I could sleep. I rolled to my stomach and found it didn't hurt so much that way and went right to sleep. I try to sleep in but don't really sleep from 7 to 9:30 when I finally get up. I feel pretty good once I'm dressed and made up.

About 1 p.m. we go to the bank to get our travelers checks. Frank calls his mom. Dad is scheduled for angiogram on Friday morning and possible angioplasty. We are worried about this just before we leave on our trip but agree it must be done now.

We go to learn round dancing with our friends. It's fun. I think we'll like it. I feel great today.

From Wikipedia, "Angiography or arteriography is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside, or lumen, of blood vessels and organs of the body, with particular interest in the arteries, veins and the heart chambers. This is traditionally done by injecting a radio-opaque contrast agent into the blood vessel and imaging using X-ray based techniques such as fluoroscopy."

From, "Round Dancing is a form of social ballroom dancing in which the steps are choreographed precisely to the music, and those steps are announced by a "cuer," as we dance. The presence of the cuer makes a round dance look different than the usual ballroom dance — all the couples are dancing in unison and the choreography can be relatively complex and interesting (since the man doesn't have to think it up as he goes) — but otherwise round dancers are ballroom dancing. We hold our partners in the normal way. We take the same kinds of steps. The rhythms are the familiar rhythms — waltz, foxtrot, cha-cha, rumba, and others."

This sounds quite a bit different from square dancing. Kind of like "Dancing With The Stars." I think I would enjoy this more than square dancing since I don't care for country western music.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Tuesday September 22, 1992

I had much less pain last night and slept well. Frank has walked to his carving class so I take a walk alone.

Dr. Schwartz calls me back. I ask for some pain medicine. He is disappointed to hear I have not started my new treatment yet and upset that I am having pain. I now doubt that we made a wise decision to wait until after the trip. I pray to God that we have made a good decision.

We go visit Gene and Cathy at 6 p.m. Allison and Patrick are there so we have a nice visit. We see Guy & Lisa also. We're home at 9:30. I call Donna and we talk until 11 p.m. It's a good visit. We agree to go camping for Thanksgiving weekend.

See my post dated September 2, 2012 and her entry for September 9, 1992. That was the date that she made the fatal decision to postpone chemotherapy until after her Mediterranean cruise. I was furious with her. Looking back to her entry for that date, nowhere does she say that she prayed and asked God for wisdom and direction with this very important decision, yet this day 2 weeks later she is praying to God that she made a good decision after the fact. Proverbs 12:15 says, "Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others." Perhaps Dr. Senrad might have thought it was OK to wait, but clearly her long-time Dr. Schwartz who knew her best was very disappointed that she had not started her chemotherapy. She should have gotten a second opinion. Proverbs 15:22 says, "Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success." It is still 6 days before her trip to the Mediterranean, plenty of time to cancel. Did she think of buying travellers insurance? Surely she must have considering her health.

Guy Thomas is Uncle Gene and Aunt Cathy's youngest son. He is shown in the photo below next to Frank in the upper left corner and his wife Lisa kneels in front of Frank. Guy is holding his children Allison and Patrick.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Abdomenal Tumors

Monday September 21, 1992

I had alot of pain in bed last night, probably from eating too much too late. It seemed I could find no comfortable position to lay. All the pain is in the lower abdomen where the tumors are. The cancer on my abdomen wall gives me a full or uncomfortable feeling.

I drive Maria to the doctor in Panorama City. We have a nice visit.

At home I do the laundry and feel pretty good today.

We go square dancing at 7:30. I feel a bit tired and edgy so come home early at 9 p.m. We watch TV.

Frank went to Guardian today and bought a frame for mother's toilet to help her get up and down. Also a grab bar for her shower. Gene will go next weekend to install them.

I admire a man who is a good handyman, like my Uncle Gene, like Frank, and like my husband Ric. I am not handy at all. When I talked to my Aunt Cathy this weekend she told me how Uncle Gene always has a project around the house that he's working on. That keeps him active, both physically and mentally, and keeps him healthy.

It's no wonder Mom has difficulty getting comfortable at night with all those tumors on her abdomenal wall. One of the classic signs of ovarian cancer is feeling full and bloated.

Dinner At Tony Roma's

Sunday September 20, 1992

Up at 8:00. We stayed up late watching Miss America contest on TV. We take our walk, then eat breakfast. The walk makes me really tired and yucky for awhile. After breakfast Frank helps me with a home perm. Cathy Thomas calls. They will come over about 4 p.m. today. We'll go out to dinner. We hurry to get the house in order.

The tenants from Newbury Park come over to tell us they are moving out October 1. Good news cause they're behind in rent. Bad news cause we have to deal with renting it.

Gene and Cathy arrive at 5:00. We have a nice visit on the patio to enjoy our lovely yard. At 7:00 we go to dinner at Tony Roma's. We have a leisurely dinner and return home about 10.

Tony Roma's, I haven't been there for years. They are known for their baby back ribs. Uncle Gene is Mom's brother. He and Cathy have lived in Pasadena for many years. I'm so glad that Mom stayed close with her brother Gene and Aunt Cathy during her battle with cancer. They are very special people. Aunt Cathy took on the role of mother to me after Mom passed away. They are in their mid 80s now, but still in pretty good health.

I was surprised that Mom wanted to have a home perm right after she complained about feeling yucky. Smelling that horrible ammonia smell of permanent solution makes me feel yucky just thinking about it. I can't help wondering if getting a permanent every 6 weeks for most of her life contributed to Mom's cancer. Lots of nasty chemicals in that solution!

I know how Mom feels about her tenants giving notice. We have a tenant who is constantly a month behind in their rent, but they do pay every month. They are very nice people and take good care of the house, so we hate to evict them because that will mean lots of work for us, and possibly tenants who are not as good as the ones we already have.