Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Silver Cross

Tuesday December 1, 1992

I sleep in till 8:30. Frank has started the wash. He does the linens for me. I'm slow as usual but manage to unpack and wash our clothes. Frank gets a movie "Sister Act" for us to watch. Gary and Maria and the boys come over to visit a couple of hours. I go to bed early.

I felt pretty good today and even ate a pretty good dinner.

I'm wearing the beautiful silver cross Justin gave me. I call him to thank him again. Chris said he bought this expensive real silver cross for me with his own money. It means so much to me to know he thinks of me. We are so close. I love him so.

We discover my pump has been leaking, probably since Saturday. I've not been getting any kemo.

I had forgotten about the silver cross Justin gave Mom in 1992 until he asked me to wear it at his wedding in 2011. The cross was worn by Mom at her funeral in 1993 but Frank retrieved it before the casket was closed and returned it to Justin. Justin, your Grandma loved you so much, and so do I son. I look forward to passing down the cross to the next generation when your yet unborn children are old enough to know its significance. Mom loved Jesus as much as she loved you and the cross symbolizes that relationship that was so precious to her.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Heading Home

Monday November 30, 1992

Up and packing, cleaned up and ready to leave at 9:45 a.m. heading home. I have lot of pain and discomfort in my stomach. It may be from the stool softener. I eat cereal at 8 a.m. and some french fries at 11 a.m. By 1 p.m. when we stop for lunch I feel ill. At 3 p.m. I'm still ill. By 5:30 when we arrive in Simi, I'm a little hungry so Frank takes me to the Mexican restaurant. I eat a taco and enchilada but don't enjoy it.

It's good to get home. We have many messages and lots of mail.

Just like in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy said "there's no place like home," I think the familiarity of home is comforting. I think especially when not feeling well, it is stressful to be away from home. I'm thankful that Mom made the effort to come up to see us. It would be her last visit to Sonoma County.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Smaller Than Marbles

Sunday November 29, 1992

Up at 7:30 feeling a little better today. After getting cleaned up and washing my hair Frank and I go to Raley's Market. We buy cutlets to fix for dinner. I buy some stool softeners to begin taking daily. I'm worried I might get constipated and have to have surgery. My bowels are so squeezed by tumors now that I only eliminate stools smaller than marbles. Maybe 1/2 that size.

After lunch I lie down to rest. Frank and Justin go for a 4-mile walk to Raley's. Frank buys Justin a taco at Taco Bell and a yogurt at the yogurt store. Later we play board games with Justin.

Frank makes a great cutlet dinner plus more leftovers. We watch some TV and retire at 11 p.m.

Ah sweet Frank! You were such a wonderful grandpa, first taking Justin on a long walk, thus teaching him the value of exercise, and then taking him for out for a treat. Then he fixes dinner for everyone. Not too many men like Frank! So thoughtful.

I'll bet the game we played with Justin was SEQUENCE. Frank made the game for Justin and we still play it occasionally. It's one of my favorite card games.

It must have been terribly uncomfortable being so constipated. I injured my back 3 days ago and have been taking Vicodin for back pain. It does take the edge off my pain, but it gives me a horrible headache and basically shuts down my intestines, even when I take stool softeners with the medication. I have to balance which is worse, the back pain or the constipation?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Picnic At Lake Sonoma

Saturday November 28, 1992

Don't feel real good this morning, stomach feels crampy and pains everywhere. Gary and Maria and boys leave for San Francisco about 10 a.m. They'll camp out and head home tomorrow.

We take Donna and Bob and Leah to Lake Sonoma. Chris and Ric and Justin go too. Leah rides with them. Donna has it figured Leah and Justin should marry some day. They barely like each other now. We have a nice picnic at the lake.

Later Frank drives Donna and Bob to Costco. I take a nap.

Chris gave Gary and Maria and us our Christmas gifts this morning, little villages for Christmas decoration.

Donna and Bob leave for home about 4 p.m. Tearful goodbyes as usual.

Donna's granddaughter Leah was born May 22, 1981, just 5 days after Mom's grandson Justin was born on May 17. They never saw each other enough to actually become friends. Leah is still single, but Justin was married last year to his lovely wife Briana.

Lake Sonoma is just a 30 minute drive from our house in Windsor, and the drive through Dry Creek Valley to get to the dam is a stunningly beautiful drive through acres of vineyards and past dozens of wineries. The marina has a lovely picnic area right on the water's edge and that is where we had our picnic.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Derek's Christening Day

Friday November 27, 1992 "Derek's Christening Day"

Up early and ready before 10 a.m. to leave at 10:40 for the church. Donna, Bob and Leah are there when we arrive at 10:50. Ric's mom, Carmen, is there with some family. Derek looks so cute in his white suit and hat.

The priest gives them quite a lecture about being Catholic. Ric says he believes in Christ, though he told us he is atheist. Chris agrees to bring Derek up Catholic though she is Protestant. I am very upset. This seems so wrong to me. I thought about it all night.

Back at the house Chris puts out a lovely lunch. Gary and Maria as Derek's new godparents pass out favors with money in it. Maria is taking this christening very seriously.

Later at 7 p.m. Gary and Maria go out to buy pizza and salad for all of us. We play cards with Donna & Bob. They sleep in their motorhome. I feel good.

What a big weekend, first hosting Thanksgiving dinner, and then hosting a big party for Derek's christening. The photo above is again taken on our front porch with the party guests. In the front row from the left are Carmen's granddaughters Crystal and Sabrina, Donna's (Mom's best friend from Pollock Pines) granddaughter Leah, Ric's friend Scott's two boys Nash and Mason (Scott is the photographer). In the middle row from the left are Carmen's grandson Daniel, Carmen, Justin holding our dog Jessie, and Joe, holding our dog Chewy. In the last row standing from the left are Carmen's brother Armando and his wife Ligia, Mom's best friend Donna and her husband Bob, Frank, Mom, Maria, Junior, my brother Gary, me holding Derek, and Ric.

The christening ceremony was held at Carmen's insistence. She was raised Catholic and believed that Derek would go to purgatory if he was not baptized, so even though I was not Catholic and Ric did not even believe in God, we agreed to the christening to make her happy. Mom was right, this was so wrong. The priest knew that I was not Catholic, but he addressed Ric during the ceremony and lectured him that he must raise his son in the Catholic church. We never went to that church again. I started attending a Protestant church when our second son Ryan was born 3 years later and Derek and Ryan both attended youth group and church camp (in fact Ryan just left for snow camp today), but I put my foot down with Carmen on having Ryan baptized in the Catholic church. It was fraudulent to go through that ceremony with Derek. I believe baptism represents being reborn through putting our faith in Christ and that the decision to be baptized is a personal one to be made by the person being baptized when they are old enough to understand that decision. I accepted Jesus as my savior when I was 15 and was baptized at Van Nuys Baptist Church. When my boys are ready to make that very personal decision someday, they will do the same.

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday November 26, 1992 "Thanksgiving Day"

Chris is very busy in the kitchen all morning though she has done most everything the day before. I feel good. Frank carves the turkey for her. We all sit at her dining room table, Gary, Maria, Joe & Junior, Justin, Ric, Chris, Frank and me. I say a blessing. There is so much I want to say but I start to cry so cut it short. I always get emotional when I pray out loud. I am so happy to have this day with all my family. I'm so lucky.

The boys have fun with video games all day. The rest just visit and relax. It's been a lovely day. Chris made a great dinner. Derek is so cute and sweet. I love my family so much.

I don't remember if I cried too when Mom prayed, but I'm crying now remembering that this was our last Thanksgiving together. It was my first and last time hosting Thanksgiving for the whole family at our house. The photo above was taken on our front porch. Frank used a tripod so we could all be in the photo. First row from left: Junior, Joe, Justin; Middle row from left: Gary, Maria (holding baby Derek), Chris; Back row from left: Frank, Mom, Ric.

It's a Good Trip To Windsor

Wednesday November 25, 1992

I feel pretty good this morning. We are on the road about 9 a.m. It's a good trip, an easy ride. I even drive a couple of hours. The traffic is bad as we get near San Francisco so we go 680 and in through Napa Valley. It's still slow and go and we arrive at Chris' at 6:30 p.m. She has dinner ready for us. Derek is so big! So alert! So cute and so good! He loves everyone who'll hold him or entertain him. He's a love to hold. We have so much fun with him.

Of course, Justin, my love, is glad to see us and I get a big hug. He's getting so tall. He's 11-1/2 now and so smart. I adore him.

We go to bed early. Ric is his usual cool self. Not much to say. He just plays his computer games. Gary and Maria arrive 8 p.m.

To make it from Simi Valley to Windsor, California, in just 9-1/2 hours is good time considering the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. A few years after this we drove to my brother's house in Simi Valley for Thanksgiving. We left home when I got off work at 4:00 and it took us 4 hours just to get through the San Francisco Bay area and 11 hours to get to Simi Valley. This is a 400 mile trip. It was a wise decision that Mom and Frank made to head up Highway 680 to Vallejo and then up through Napa on Highway 29.

I love this photo taken of Mom with 4-month-old Derek that Thanksgiving. He looks like he is really enjoying his Grandma. One of my greatest disappointments for Derek and Ryan is that they didn't get to know their Grandma Dolores as Justin did. She was a wonderful Grandma.


Tuesday November 24, 1992

Up early and off to see Dr. Semrad. They seem rushed today and don't even try to get blood from my catheter. I go to the lab. Hours later I see Dr. Semrad. He examines me. He can feel lots of fluid. That's why I don't feel well. I wish they would open me up and suck all the fluid out. Doctor says that will be first to go if the chemo works. We ask alot of questions. He's been putting in pumps for only 3 years. Had 8 ovarian cancer patients. Three did very well. He is unorthodox as he doesn't believe in CAT scans or CA125 blood tests. He works by feel. He says I should feel better in a week or two.

We go home and pack for our trip tomorrow.

The fluid that accumulates in the abdomen of cancer patients is called "ascites". I did a little research to see if this fluid is ever removed to give the patient some relief and found a procedure called "paracentesis" is a minimally invasive procedure using a needle to remove fluid from the abdomen. According to surgeryencyclopedia.com "There are two reasons to take fluid out of the abdomen. One is to analyze it for diagnostic purposes; the other is to relieve pressure...Risks are negligible. It is remotely possible that an organ could be punctured and bleed or that an infection could be introduced." I guess Dr. Semrad didn't think her abdominal fluid accumulation was sufficient to offer this procedure. Or maybe he didn't believe in it since he was so unorthodoz.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pipe Bomb

Monday November 23, 1992

I feel much better when I wake up. I'm up at 8:00, eat breakfast and start the wash and get cleaned up. I leave at 10:45 to get my nails done. I'm hungry when I leave there and go get a hot dog from Cupid's to take home to eat.

Cari Lyn, who does my nails, wanted me to stay for the ribbon cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. with the Chamber of Commerce. They had cookies and punch. I picked up a Cupid's hot dog and went home to finish the laundry.

Later in the evening Frank goes square dancing. When he comes home he tells me Charlie and John were injured when someone threw a pipe bomb through their bedroom window and it exploded in their bed on Saturday.

I checked the web for any articles about this crime and amazingly, the Los Angeles Times still had an article there titled. "Bomb Hurled Through Window Injures Sleeping Couple : Attack: Simi Valley woman undergoes surgery for leg injuries. Police have no suspects or motive."

"SIMI VALLEY — A sleeping couple were injured early Saturday when a pipe bomb was hurled through a front window of their home and exploded between them as they lay in bed, police said.

Charlene Mayer, 33, suffered major injuries to her left leg and underwent surgery at Simi Valley Hospital. Her husband, John Monroe, 34, suffered shrapnel wounds to his left leg and torso but was not hospitalized."

The following day, the L.A. Times headline read "Moorpark Man Arrested After Pipe Bomb Attack : Simi Valley: Police say the incident may have resulted from a child-custody battle. The suspect's wife once was married to one of the victims." Wow, that must have been one nasty divorce!

The Orange Juice Doesn't Help

Sunday November 22, 1992

I wake up sick. Frank gets me some orange juice. Maybe I'm just hungry. I don't throw up, but I feel bad all morning. I'm finally dressed and ready about 3 p.m. and beginning to feel much better. My chest aches and feels heavy and by bedtime, it is really bad. Even my lower neck aches.

I pray to God to take away this aching and allow me to feel really good for the next week so I can enjoy our trip to Chris'.

With her abdomen full of tumors and chemotherapy medication coursing through her body, no wonder she feels awful. Give yourself a break, Mom. You don't have to get dressed, hair done and makeup applied every day!

A Visit with Rochelle & Dawn

Saturday November 21, 1992

Lazy morning. Frank vacuums. Rochelle and Dawn are coming at 2:30. Frank leaves at 9 a.m. for Newbury Park to show the house. I pray this is the right one (tenant). I tidy up the house. Rochelle and Dawn visit from 2 to 5 p.m. I'm tired when they leave even though we just sat and talked. I lay down for 1/2 hour.

We decide to go to early dinner at Tony Roma's. We order onion rings. They're not very good and crispy. When dinner arrives I feel sick and can't eat. I bring my dinner home. I don't feel well all evening.

Rochelle is the wife of my Dad's older brother Clyde and Dawn is her daughter. Mom kept in touch with Dad's side of the family long after they were divorced. I haven't seen Clyde & Rochelle in years, but I do see my cousin Dawn every few years. She is pictured above with me and Mom in 1985.

Too bad those soggy greasy onion rings upset Mom's stomach and ruined her dinner.

Hand & Foot

Friday November 20, 1992

Frank is up early to make another cheesecake so he can take two to the potluck dinner at Pat and Jack's house tonight. I'm slow in the morning as usual but feel pretty good in the p.m. I read and dust the living room.

I call Roz in Palmdale. We talk over an hour. She has many complaints about their Mexican cruise to Mexico on Princess last week. Poor food and cabin service etc. Too bad, probably their first and last. Her bladder still falls out. She's new doing Kegel exercises.

Forty of our friends from square dancing show up for the card party/potluck. It's great! My partner Fred and I do very well as we play Hand and Foot. We have a great time and I'm tired when we leave at 10 p.m.

Roz was one of Mom's co-workers before she retired. Poor woman, I have never heard of a bladder falling out! I have never been on a cruise before, but always imagined if I did it would be wonderful. I don't know if Roz was a complainer or if the cruise really was horrid. I would never go to Mexico for my first cruise, but would like to try going to Alaska on a cruise ship some day. We have been to Alaska 3 times more than 10 years ago, but never on a cruise. I would love to take a cruise that goes into Glacier Bay someday.

I had never heard of the game Hand & Foot, so googled it and found they actually have a website called hand8foot. Here are the rules of the game from their website:

The aim is to get rid of cards from your hand (11 cards), and then from your foot (11 cards), by melding them. A Meld is a set of three to seven cards of equal rank placed face up on the table. A Meld cannot have fewer than three cards.

After a Meld of three or more cards has been started, you can add further cards to it until there are seven. Then it becomes a Book. You can meld cards of any rank from A, K, Q, … down to 3.

Deuces (twos) and Jokers are wild cards and can be used in melds, as long as there is at least one more real card than wild cards. You can not meld wild cards alone.

There are two types of melds:

A Clean(Natural) Meld has no wild cards and may become a Red Book.
A Dirty(Wild) Meld has wild cards and may become a Black Book.
A Meld of seven cards is complete and is called a Book.

Sounds like fun. Have you ever played?

Thanksgiving Menu

Thursday November 19, 1992

I'm more tired, probably from such a busy day yesterday. Of course the teacher had to teach us a polka last night. That was really tiring for me. Frank has gone to carving class so I sleep in and rest until 11 a.m. I don't do much all day.

In the afternoon Frank goes to Oxnard to pick up a compressor Maria wants to give Gary for Christmas. He has shopped all over and decided this is the best one.

After a nice dinner we watch TV all evening. Frank makes a cheesecake.

I call Chris about 3 p.m. We have a great visit. She tells me the menu. She has a great dinner planned for Thanksgiving. I can't wait.

Oh no, I thought round dancing was more slow-paced and mellow, not a fast polka! I spoke with Frank just this weekend and he told me that round dancing was like ballroom dancing, so much slower. His current wife Carol had a mild stroke last year and is just now getting back into dancing, so they are starting with round dancing.

Since Mom was almost always the one who hosted the family dinners, it was a treat for a change to be able to sit back and allow someone else to prepare the food. No wonder she was looking forward to it. I wish I could claim that my Thanksgiving menu looked anything at all like the one pictured above. I have never been a good cook, and my meal preparations usually require a minimum of preparation. Cooking a Thanksgiving meal for 12-15 people was a very big deal for me, and not easy with an infant.

Joe Is 12 Today

Wednesday November 18, 1992

I'm up at 7:30 to leave for the doctor at 9:15. I have to lay down often while getting ready. I'm tired and sweating. Once at the doctor the nurse is unable to get blood out of my catheter. She tries everything like putting me in every position and putting a total of 30 cc of saline before she and finally Dr. Semrad give up and send me up to the lab to get blood out of my arm.

Doctor says the redness around the exit tube is probably from the Betadine. He says don't use it any more or the plastic bandage. Just use gauze. I get my medication and an appointment for next Tuesday so we can leave for Chris' on Wednesday. Dr. Semrad says I should start to feel better in a week or two. It's the cancer making me feel so bad.

We stop in North Hollywood for lunch at Bakers Square. We are so close to Henry and Jan's we decide to surprise them with a visit. They are so happy to see us. Henry just turned 84. Jan says he's been doing strange things and is very forgetful. He seemed fine to us. He cried when we left. He is very concerned for me.

At 6:30 we go to Gary's to give Joe his birthday present. He is 12 today. Frank has made him a game he wanted and we give him some money too.

At 7:30 we go round dancing. All our friends are sooo happy to see me. I get lots of hugs. We do OK considering we missed 2 or 3 classes. I sit down whenever I can, but do OK until 9:00. I'm tired. We leave 1/2 hour early. Dick chases us to the parking lot to give me a hug. that means alot. We go to have burgers. We're hungry. They're great!

Even though Joe and Junior were Maria's sons from a previous marriage, Mom never treated them any different than she did her biological grandson Justin. I wonder what game Frank made for Joe's birthday. I wonder if it's the game "Sequence" that he brought to our home the following week for Thanksgiving.

Most of the photos I have posted in this blog have been 20 or more years old, but as I am now within a few months of completing it, I will begin posting more current photos. The photo above of Joe with his wife Shannon and 3 beautiful girls was taken in 2012. Joe will be 33 years old this year in November 2013.

I'm not a doctor, but it sure doesn't sound good to me that the doctor could not get blood out of Mom's catheter that went directly into a blood vessel. It makes me wonder if her chemotherapy medication is getting into her bloodstream. She had a long busy day this day. It's no wonder she is tired. So sweet that two different men friends gave her a big hug and expressed their concern for her. I don't know too many men like that. My experience has been that my women friends are the huggers and criers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Can Do It Myself!

Tuesday November 17, 1992

Frank leaves at 8 a.m. to walk to his carving class. I get up just before 9 a.m., have breakfast and watch TV til 10:30. I cover my bandage with Saran Wrap and take a shower and wash my hair. Afterward I flush my catheter. I can do it all by myself! I get dressed and Kathy Murphy calls. We talk an hour. Everyone missed me last night. Frank brought home many loving messages.

After lunch Frank goes to the Valley to shop. I dust our bedroom and do the wash. I water plants. I'm exhausted by 5:00. Frank makes a cheesecake.

Isn't that so natural for all of us, from toddlers to the elderly, to want to say "I can do it all by myself." None of us wants to be dependent on someone else to do things for us, and we take so much pride in being independent. Sometimes, though, we have to just be humble and admit our need for others. My dad turned 80 this year and he has suffered with macular degeneration for many years, which means he cannot see very well and cannot drive. He is healthy in every other way, and he absolutely hates having to depend on other people to give him rides to the grocery store, the doctor, the bank...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm Too Tired To Shower Today

Monday November 16, 1992

I have a hard time getting up. I call the clinic at 9 a.m. The nurse says to come in, she'll check my tube exit to see if it's infected. It's red and tender but no puss. She dresses it and we return home. I'm too tired to shower today. That's so unusual for me. I read. Doris & Helen come over to visit for awhile.

At 5:30 we go out for Mexican dinner. At 7:15 Frank goes square dancing. I insist he go. I watch TV and talk to Paul and Judy for an hour. They called me. Frank comes home about 10:15 with a malt for me from Hudson's Grill. Pam Silverman suggested it for me.

Wow, that is unusual for Mom not to take a shower. Does that mean she didn't do her hair and makeup either? How did she feel when the neighbors came by to visit her? Although I don't spend alot of time on hair and makeup, I do try to take a shower every day. The only time I miss is when I'm too sick to get out of bed.

I am glad that Mom made Frank go square dancing. There's no reason he can't have a little fun when Mom is sick.

Monday, February 4, 2013

We Are Able to Make Carol's Dinner Party

Sunday November 15, 1992

Very slow to rise and get ready. Not as tired as yesterday. Finally I'm ready at 1:30 to leave for Carol's dinner party in North Hollywood. I asked Frank to cut her a bunch of roses. They are beautiful and a big hit. Carol's brother Noble and wife Kay are there and Carol's friend Harry. We have a lovely visit. Carol has made a great beef roast dinner. I have a good appetite today.

I'm exhausted when we leave at 6:30 and lay down all the way home. I'm so glad I was able to go.

I recall Mom's good friend Carol dated her "friend" Harry for many many years, but she didn't find her true love until many years after Mom passed away, when she and Frank married. This photo of them together was taken a few years ago. Frank has alot less hair now than he did 20 years ago, but he's still in good health, strong and a great dancer.

Roses in November? How nice! That's something we don't get here in Northern California. I do miss the sunny-year-round weather I grew up with in Southern California, but I most definitely do NOT miss the crowds, traffic and congestion.

We Decline A Dinner Invitation with Marty & Kathy

Saturday November 14, 1992

Awoke tired. Finally arose at 9:30. Not hungry. Decided to give Frank a perm right away. I get cleaned up and we change the medication in my pump. It's 1:30. I spend hours sifting through the old mail. I'm so tired. No energy. We decline an invitation to go out to dinner with Marty and Kathy. About 5:30 we eat some leftover spaghetti and settle in for the evening.

Mother called today. She sounded so alert. We talked about an hour.

The laxative works very well. My stomach feels better.

This is the first time I can remember Mom turning down a dinner invitation, although she has missed a few square dances so far. It seemed like being around people always lifted her spirits and gave her a burst of energy. At least the laxative is helping her digestion in spite of the pressure of the tumors on her intestines.