Tag Archives: Teresa

Dad’s passage

Dad died yesterday morning. He hadn’t eaten nor taken water for several days so it was not unexpected. At some level, we are all relieved. The phrase I used on FaceBook was ‘His torment is over.’

‘Torment’ might be a bit overstated. He never complained of pain, although in truth his ability to communicate was pretty much entirely gone. He would sometimes react to our attempts to move him by making a grunt of pain. Towards the end of last week he was not sleeping well and twitching a lot.

‘Torment’ could also be applied to Mom’s experience. It was bad enough to be losing her husband of nearly 66 years but her home was being invaded by not only her children but her children’s spouses, hospice nurses and technicians and other helpers and visitors. She will have to endure that for a while longer – ten of us were there yesterday – but hopefully she will be able to sleep better. We’re back to the dilemma we had with Dad: how do we respect their independence yet give them help when needed? This is especially difficult when they say they don’t want the help.

So, we muddle through as always. We do it for love, which helps.

Mom called me at about 5 with the news. The phone ringing woke me from a deep sleep and my original reaction was irritation. I had been getting a lot of sales calls lately so that was my first thought. When I saw ‘Mom’ on the phone, though, I knew what it was about.

We got down to Santa Clara about 7. Tom and Mary Lou had been staying over so they had been with Mom. The hospice nurse had come over right away and done some minimal clean up. He was lying in the bed as he had been but he was still. His mouth had a slight smile, we all thought.

Teresa and Jane got there a little later. Teresa wanted to clean him more thoroughly so she did that. Mom and Dad had made arrangements long ago with Trident for cremation and they were coming at ten so we all took some time before that for reflection and community.

The Trident people were respectful but professional. They were in and out of the house in less than ten minutes. We were left with memories only.

So the rest of the day was about memories. Mary got there about 1. Julian and Lisa came. Sarah came. We all sat around and ate and reminisced. We talked about funeral arrangements and other quotidian things. There were some tears but a lot of laughter.

Dad

The other news this new year is about Dad. The week before Thanksgiving he was out with Mom and tried to get out of the car on his own and fell. Mom had gone into the store with the understanding – her understanding – that Dad would wait for her.

It was a perfect example of how we are all living in the past to some extent with Dad. He thought – as near as we could later find out – that he was to go in as well. He got out of the car and promptly fell. A passer by saw him and called 911. His injuries were not severe but in the course of examination at the ER, a chest X-ray was taken revealing a golf ball sized ‘mass’ in his lung.

Normally a biopsy would be conducted to verify what this ‘mass’ was but neither Dad nor any other member of the family was in favor of it. It would be very stressful and the likelihood was that it would in fact be cancerous. That begged the question of what would be the next step. Surgery, radiation, or chemo? No, the consensus was to let it go.

At the same time, the doctors said there were some ‘abnormalities’ in his blood work. My own view of the progression of information was a bit skewed as I was busy working during those first days but about a week later I asked Mom what she had been told.

Leukemia.

The doctors recommended we begin hospice care. It took a while for me to figure out what this exactly means. Evidently, this implies that life expectancy is 6 months. Kaiser brought a hospital bed and some medicines and supplies to the house but the extra care Mom needed was not part of the deal. She had to call providers and set up a schedule.

Of course all of the children were involved in all of this. My own help was minimal but all of my siblings made major contributions to the changes. Teresa, Mary and Tim are in the medical field in various ways and were able to understand what the doctors were saying. We all came to the house and filled in the cracks of care.

Mom has gone from having help 4 hours a day 3 days a week to 12 hours a day 5 days a week. Only a small part of the cost is covered by insurance. To save money, we sibs have promised to cover the weekends.

Dad’s only indication that he is in pain is when he is being moved out of the bed. He doesn’t say anything but we notice the strain in his face. As far as I know the only medication he is taking is a stool softener. He still uses the walker to get down the hall to the living room. He likes to watch football on TV. He eats meals in the dining room. He listens to the conversation around him and occasionally tries to say something but he cannot construct sentences any more.

Mom had his favorite priest come and say Mass for him. He also got the Sacrament of the Sick. I believe this is the same as what we used to call Extreme Unction, or Last Rites. Mary actually got him out to Church on Christmas Eve which he enjoyed.

As for the future, death awaits us all. Dad is likely closer than the rest of us. We are doing our best to make his remaining days as comfortable as possible.

jazz band

Already it’s been a week since the Skyline Jazz Band concert. Yikes! The last month has been such a blur. We got back from Southern California late Friday night. I had a long day at work Saturday. Sunday was Mothers’ Day so we went down to Santa Clara to be with Mom. The jazz band dress rehearsal started at 6 in San Bruno, though, so we had to bolt our dinners and head back up the Peninsula early.

Monday we went to the Brisbane City Hall to finalize our reception location. Then we went to San Francisco City Hall to finalize our wedding. (It’ll be August 8th at 5 pm. Invitations should be going out within a week or so.)

BTW, ‘finalize’ means ‘pay for’. Expenses so far haven’t been too bad, though. The catering for the reception will be expensive. Sepi at one point suggested that we contain our costs by keeping the post-wedding numbers to a minimum but I thought if there is ever time for a party this is it.

Anyway, the jazz band concert went ok. Teresa, along with several of Sepi’s friends, came to listen and everyone pronounced it good. I could only think of the mistakes I made. Nevertheless, making music is one of my favorite activities. It’s been a privilege to be part of this really good band. I already signed up for next semester.

Here’s a picture Sepi took of me warming up before anyone else got there. It’s kind of moody and cool thanks to the lighting.

busy

I’ve been really busy lately. That’s partly why there haven’t been very many posts, but only partly. The negative reaction of the person I thought was my friend to a post I made has rocked me. Most of what she said in comments on this blog I did not allow to be published because they were raw personal attacks that did not leave room for discussion. Comments must be civil.

I thought about it, though. I take responsibility for my actions and don’t want to hide behind administrator privileges just to make me feel better. The post in question was only seen by three people that I know about (who reacted to it) before I removed it. Her reaction has been much stronger, I believe, because she has seen I have a new woman in my life.

I would like to talk about her but I am cautious after my experience writing about Rose. I will say her name is Sepi. I met her last fall and we’ve been spending a lot of time together for a couple of months now. My earlier post about charged words was inspired by our conversations. Are we ‘dating’? Are we ‘seeing’ each other? Do we ‘love’ each other or are we ‘in love’? Is she ‘mine’ or me ‘hers’? Words can be confusing, or misleading. Our conversations have been lengthy and are ongoing, I believe that is the best part of our relationship. Partly because of the upset around the blog post no subject is off limits. Early signs are encouraging that we have established a strong basis for a good relationship.

One of the most encouraging signs is being busy. Sepi has gotten me out doing new things, meeting new people. For years, my concept of busy was working a lot. Now I am able to do more things socially and it has been a revelation.

I am returning the favor the best I can. I took her to my jazz band concert and today she will be meeting Mom and Dad and other family members at Teresa’s birthday party. There is more to come on both sides.

Here’s a picture of me in my St. Patrick’s Day tie ready to head out for the jazz band concert:

showing pictures

Mary Beth and I had our first picture showing yesterday. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but it was still good for Mom & Dad and Rose to see all of our pictures and hear our stories.

I forgot to bring my packet of souvenirs including my journal even though it was sitting right by my front door. Mary and Jim flew down but took a relaxed approach in the morning so they didn’t arrive at Palo Alto until about noon. Mom had the lunch spread ready to go when we got there so we all dug in and had some good visiting. No one was in a hurry.

I think it was around 2 that we all got up and got serious about showing our pictures. I had loaded mine onto my laptop because it had an HDMI output that I knew I could plug into Mom and Dad’s big TV. Mary had hers on her iPad and also on Google Drive.

The first problem was that the computer wouldn’t talk to the TV. I was using an HDMI cable that I had that I was sure I had used before. I fiddled around with all kinds of settings but nothing worked. Mary wondered if the USB  on the TV would take a connection to her iPad. No, that was no good. The input selector didn’t even have USB. What’s the USB for???

Then I saw another HDMI cable under the TV. That worked! Yay!

Then I had the issue of figuring out what program to use to show the images. The laptop was running Windows 10 but it’s setup to be my work machine so I hadn’t used it to show pictures before. I thought I could just go to the file manager and select the folder and start the slideshow. Not so fast, pardner! I finally got a program going that showed the images from each folder only. I had to exit the program ( I don’t remember what it was called) each time I finished a folder – and I have many – then reselect a new folder and start again. Tedious.

Of course I showed every picture I took, including pictures of flowers and multiple images of essentially the same thing at different exposures. I think everyone nodded off at one point or another.

Finally it was time for Mary to show her pictures. The TV was working well so she logged onto Google Drive on my computer and started showing her pictures. But the videos didn’t work. There was a message about restarting ‘your device’ to make them work. Never mind, now we’re getting short of time.

Mary and Jim had to time their activities so that they could be back on the ground in Auburn while there was still daylight. When the issue came up, Mary was about halfway through her pictures and it was 5:30 already. They needed to leave by 6. Oh, too bad about dinner! Then some of my images that were on Google Drive started showing up along with Mary’s. What?? She soldiered on and we got through at 6 exactly. Rose and I had picked them up on our way down but we wanted dinner so I ran Mary and Jim up to PAO and came back. 40 minutes round trip.

The four of us had a nice dinner on the patio and we left a little after 8 but the whole day had seemed way more rushed than I liked. Teresa is going to want to see everything as will Jane so we’ll likely have a chance to do it again. On our drive to the airport, I suggested to Mary that we consolidate our better pictures on Google Drive in a special folder for showing. I don’t know what we can do about the videos. There’s work to do.

I left the original HDMI cable in the trash.

cleaning teeth

I went to the dentist about a month ago. That’s news because I hadn’t been for 2 1/2 years. The last dentist I went to insisted on ragging on me about not flossing. This even after I warned them that I wasn’t going to start at age 60 after being nagged by dentists for at least 40 years. And I told them not to do the thing where they poke at my gums and hum and haw over the depth of my pockets and talk like it’s a miracle I haven’t gotten gangrene or something and all my teeth fall out. They did it anyway! Screw them!

The dentist before that I got mad at for announcing that she was giving away candy at Halloween. Really?

But I went back to her because Teresa was still going to her and I did think she was a good dentist. I had actually gotten an email from her office telling me I was due for a teeth cleaning so I went ahead and made the appointment. It had been 4 years since seeing her. Persistence pays off sometimes.

I did it all through email. I have a sig on my email that has a link to this blog. I didn’t think much about it but when she came in through the waiting room the day of my appointment she immediately said she had read the blog and how sorry she was over my losing Zach. That night I sent her an email in which I said, ‘I want to tell you how moved I was this morning when you offered me sympathy for the loss of my son. I could go to 100 doctor’s offices and not have that happen.’

Best of all, when I told her and the hygienist about not flossing, they rolled with it. How nice, to be treated like an adult! So then I  agreed to the deep cleaning they wanted to do.

So the hygienist suggested that, since I wasn’t going to floss, I try a Water-Pik. I bought one on the way home and I’ve been using it ever since. The procedure is to do a regular brushing, then go through the teeth with the Water-Pik. What is remarkable to me is that every night, I can see bits of stuff dislodged by the Water-Pik and landing in the sink. It’s pretty undignified, leaning over the sink with this thing stuck my mouth, essentially drooling, but my teeth are cleaner. And I don’t have to floss!

Now the deep cleaning is done and I’ll be going back in 3 months. Finally  I can feel good about going to the dentist. How weird is that?

Mom and Dad

I went down to Mom and Dad’s today. Originally I was going to see them this weekend for a birthday party but now the party is happening Saturday when I have to work. Happy Birthday Jim and Teresa! And Happy Birthday to Connor on Monday!

So, it was kind of an old-fashioned day for us, like the ones we used to have (seemingly) all the time before 2015. The only difference was that they had to go to a funeral and didn’t get home until one pm. Normally, I got there at noon or 12:30 for lunch and stayed through dinner. Today wasn’t much different: I ran a couple of errands on the way down and got to their house a little after 1.

We had a leisurely lunch and sat around the table in the sun room talking for over an hour. Before the funeral mass, they had gone to their exercise class so they were pretty tired. About 2:30 they went in to take a nap and I went to the computer to work on their taxes. Actually, their taxes are done. What I’m doing is running the numbers through Turbo Tax to see if there are trouble spots with an eye towards doing the taxes for them myself next year. It doesn’t appear that the tax guy is putting in any kind of special sauce for his $500 so now all I have to do is convince Dad to let me do it.

After a while, Mom came out and started working on her genealogy program. She determined that she isn’t keeping up with the various families as much as she wants to. Then she looked into a letter she had gotten from the Kaiser people about her password. She got that fixed then asked me about downloading Dad’s health record. Pretty cool! We got it done, then for good measure downloaded hers as well. Now they’re resident on her computer in PDF form.

About then Dad was up and got the News Hour started on the TV. It usually drives me crazy but today it was fairly reasonable. They had a long story about the Great Barrier Reef dying off because the ocean temperatures are rising. They also had a pretty balanced panel commenting on the Supreme Court vacancy hearing today.

Then it was time for dinner and Jeopardy, followed by Wheel of Fortune. Tradition!

I usually leave right after dinner because I’m tired and I don’t want to get involved in the evening TV watching. Tonight I was getting my things together when their friend Chacko called. Chacko is part of the 10 am community at the Mission and a regular on Thursday afternoons at the coffee shop. He’s at least 10 or 15 years younger than most of the Thursday crew but he was calling to tell them his back has gone out and he won’t be going tomorrow. He apologized for missing the funeral Mass too. We all commiserated, then he signed off and I headed out. My father said, as he often does, ‘Drive with care, everywhere!’

 

Dad’s birthday

Dad turned 87 today. Teresa hosted a party at her house. All the Bay Area Woods were there. Mary called and sang him ‘Happy Birthday ‘ over the phone. He couldn’t hear her with the handset so Paul got the speaker phone going and that was better.

After dessert of lemon meringue pie (his request) he opened the cards from his children. All contained heartfelt personal statements of love and admiration. He had trouble reading them because they were handwritten, though. Jane was sitting next to him and helped out.  He was in good humor all evening and even made a couple of jokes but sometimes the conversation moves too fast for him and he checks out. Other times he makes self deprecating remarks that recognize his limitations.

I had tea and conversation with Tom V yesterday who I haven’t seen in nearly a year. He lost his mother in the spring of 2015 and many of his reactions to the loss were familiar to me. He’s still feeling the effects. All death is traumatic, even when one is older and has lived a long life. It just makes me treasure Dad and Mom all the more. One day they’ll be no more and all we’ll have left are memories.

good things – people mostly

This past year has been one of much sadness and tears. On top of that, I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas season. The days are shorter and the ubiquitous ‘buy’ messages everywhere are cloaked in false bonhomie. Feh.

So it was with a bit of surprise the other day when I found myself thinking of all the good things that are in my life now. Jeremy, Sarah, Ashley, Rosalie, Noah, Mom & Dad. Teresa and Jane, my two sisters who live nearby and keep checking on me. Tom, Mary and Tim, my brothers and sister who live further away but I treasure them as well. Rose, my neighbor who is also my best friend. Allyson and Dave, Noah’s Mom & Dad.

Work is going ok, too. I got through SoundBox with only a couple of glitches and the show got great reviews. There is a great group of Local 16 people that I get to work with at Davies Symphony Hall. All are competent and congenial. I hate to name names because I would leave someone out but Hal and Gus are my long-time compatriots in the Sound Department and extra special to me. JJ, the unquestioned head of Davies stagehands, always willing to share his knowledge. In management, Michele stands out among many fine people.

Of course, many of these people were in my life before Zach was killed but the experience of losing him has made that which is left more precious.  Merry Christmas!

‘Thank you for your service.’

Veteran’s Day. I’ve been out on Facebook already this morning and seen this phrase, or variations of it, quite a few times. So I’ve got something to say about that and being that this is my blog, darn it, I’m going to say it.

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are when this sentiment gets thrown around the most, but we see many other examples throughout the year of this. I think it was one or two Sundays ago that I noticed the NFL football games had some kind of ‘Thank you for your service’ theme. For the most part I just let it slide but today I’m going to rant about it.

What bugs me is that the implication of this phrase is that it is referring to the military performing some kind of ‘service’ that is worthy of this kind of adulation. We’ve been set up to think that this is a superior kind of service to our country. Yes, men and women in the military have sacrificed their lives and limbs in war. But we have to recognize that there are other forms of service that are just as valid. Is Jeremy performing less of a service to our country by being a firefighter and never having been in the military? Is Ashley or Jane performing less of a service to our country by teaching our children and never having been in the military? Is Teresa performing less of a service to our country by being a nurse and never having been in the military? No.

And there are many people who do time in the military who are never near the front lines and whose lives are never in any more danger than any other American. My uncle Pat was in the Army during World War II and he drove a supply truck behind the lines. My brother Tim served in the Army during the first Gulf War. He went to Iraq and was a guard at a prison compound. As far as I know, he never fired a shot in anger nor was he ever shot at by enemy troops. Tim, if I got this wrong, please tell me.

The point is that while the military is an organization designed to kill people for the state, the part that actually does the killing is relatively small. And nowadays we have soldiers sitting in air conditioned room playing video games (running drones) for their service – killing people for the state.

So I think we should talk about what service we really want to value in our country. I remember reading about the ancient Greek city states in school. Athens, where democracy reigned supreme, and warlike Sparta, where everyone was a soldier. My takeaway from that was that ultimately Sparta failed because democracy was good and war was bad. Now here in America we have a kind of democracy but we are also very war like. It pains me that we don’t value forms of service to our country that don’t involve killing people or blowing things up.

Jeremy, Ashley, Jane, Teresa, thank you for your service!