Sixty-nine And Counting

Today is my husband, and very best friend, Bill’s, birthday. To celebrate, Bill and I met our daughter, Shantel, at her doctor’s appointment, and the three of us went out to lunch to what was once Bill/Papa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Abuelo’s, in Chandler.

We arrived, and were seated promptly, and everything looked to be the same as the last time we were there last year.

Bill ordered an appetizer of jalapeno cheese fritter balls, served with a sauce. They were delicious.

We were served warm chips and three kinds of salsa, just like always.

I ordered grilled sea bass taco’s that were the bomb! They were served with a side of rice and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

Shantel had one chicken and one spinach enchilada, served with beans and rice. She loved the chicken enchilada, but said the spinach one tasted like “tea leaves” to her.

Bill ordered a green chili smothered beef burrito. That was always his favorite, and the only reason he wanted to go there for his birthday lunch (the other option was Cheesecake Factory that was just across the street). Unfortunately,  the recipe changed, and what he was served was not anything like what he remembered, and loved so much in the past… He ate it, and said it wasn’t awful, but he was just really disappointed that it wasn’t what he remembered it to be…

But, as with all things in life… or at least this is what we try to live by…, it’s not about what you get, or what happens…, it’s more about how you react and deal with all of it… Bill, Shantel and I all agreed that today was not about the food, it was about taking the time to spend quality time together to celebrate another important event in our lives…, Bill/Papa’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bill/Papa, we love you!

Stay Tuned.

 

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Going Back To McDowell

As most of you know, Bill and I planned to be at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills Arizona for the winter. We actually spent two days there before we were asked to come back to San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek Arizona for a few weeks to help out because they were left short-handed after a couple of full-time staff members left.

We were happy to come and do whatever we could to help out. However, now we have been given the word that we are needed back at McDowell Mountain so we are busy pack things up and getting our rig ready to move out and head back to McDowell on Sunday 10/30.

Bill and I enjoyed the time we spent at San Tan last winter, and San Tan will always hold a special place in our hearts. San Tan is a beautiful day use park with unique cactus formations like the one in the picture below. It always reminds me of a Sea Horse.

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San Tan has beautiful hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.

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And some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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I always enjoyed meeting the many visitors and volunteers that come to San Tan Park. Like this youth group that spent a week camping in tents next to our rig last winter. They would go out every morning and help clean and maintain the trails, but when they came back to camp in the evening they would unwind dancing to their music… Well I never want to miss an opportunity to dance, so I ran right out there and joined them, much to their surprise and delight… 🙂

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As much as I love horses, I was always excited when Matt, from MD Ranch, would invite Bill and I to go on a trail ride with him…

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It’s been a year of fun and exciting travel for Bill and I, but it has also been a year of heartache and loss. I lost my mother this past March.

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Then, in July, we lost my beautiful, and fun-loving sister-in-law Bea, the wife of my brother Danny. Bea is shown below with our precious daughter, Shantel. Danny and Bea have always been so good to Shantel over the years. While we were away each summer they would pick Shantel up and take her out to eat at least once a month,

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And then, just a few weeks ago, we lost our beloved cat, Carmen.

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Death is part of the circle of life, and it’s a hard fact of life… But I believe loving also means letting go when it’s time, knowing there is more to life than what we experience here.

Now, I’m ready to turn my thoughts to another new beginning, and looking forward to making new memories at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. I’m excited to meet our co-hosts there and all the visitors that will come to enjoy that Park. McDowell Park is three times the size of San Tan and not only offers over 65 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails…,but it also offers camping sites for visitors to enjoy… The picture below is our campsite at McDowell.

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Yes, I’m ready for a new beginning, and definitely ready to let some good times roll! I even think I feel my altered personality, Bella (shown below), nudging me to let her out!!! For those of you that may not know… I discovered Bella on my very first trip to New York City, when I went to visit my frissy! Bella comes out when I need to let down, and really have some FUN:):)

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Stay Tuned!

Believe It Or Not

As I continue to process the passing of my mother, and we continue to work through the details of final arrangements, i.e. Friday we picked out her casket and made the graveside service arrangements, Sunday, Bill and I went back to the Care Center to go through her personal things, i.e. clothes, pictures etc. because the room needs to be cleared for a new resident arriving soon, and of course we wanted to make sure the staff at the care center knows how much we appreciate all they did to care for my mother, so Bill and I took two large platters of cookies for the staff on both shifts as a way of thanking them for all they did to care for her. My brother, Danny, is having fruit of the month delivered to the care center staff every month for a year as his way of thanking them for the care they provided… Six years is a long time to live in a 24/7 skilled nursing home, and over those years we came to know and love the staff and the other residents…

When I walked into the room where my mother lived, and died, the bed was stripped and only her personal belongs remained. As I looked around the room I thought about how many times my mother told me, after my father died 10 years ago, that she just didn’t want to go on living without him… As I remembered those conversations, I sent out a little private request to my mother. I asked her to show me some kind of a sign, if she could, that would be unique to her, so I would know that she is at peace now and where she wants to be… I didn’t even mention to Bill that I made that silent request to my mother.

When Bill and I arrived home, he went into our room and turned on the races like he does every Sunday during racing season. I normally turn on music and listen to that while I prep and/or cook make ahead meals for the upcoming week. I never turn on the TV on Sunday’s because first of all there is nothing on that I care to watch. We don’t have Netflix or cable, so if you don’t care for sports of some sort… the choices are pretty slim. But for some reason, out of the blue, I decided I would see if there was anything I cared to watch on channel 45, a channel I rarely, if ever, watch. I have to say I was amazed to find that the movie “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner was just starting… Believe it or not, that movie was my mother’s all time favorite movie… Like me, my mother rarely watched a movie a second time, but she watched Dances with Wolves six times! I watched the entire movie and took comfort in choosing to believe that my mother was letting me know she is at peace, and exactly where she wants to be…

On behalf of my brother, Danny, and his family, and Bill and I and our family, I want to thank everyone for the messages, however sent, to let us know you are keeping us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time in our lives. We very much appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

 

 

End Of Life Treasures

It is with a heavy heart that I’m sharing with you that my mother, Virginia Vezie, passed away Thursday, March 10th, at 9:10 P.M after a long illness. She was surrounded by her immediate family members in the last days of her life. My brother, Danny, his wife Bea, My husband Bill and I, our daughter Katie Decker, and other family members took turns sitting with her.

On the night she passed, I decided I would spend the night with her at the care center. My daughter, Katie Decker, had been there that afternoon, and Danny, Bea, Bill, and I were there together until 9:00 P.M. when Danny, Bea, and Bill said their goodbyes to mom and left to go home. I was prepared to stay the night with her and was sitting beside her bed holding her hand and trying to make sure she was comfortable. She had been getting morphine every two hours throughout the day, and as the evening progressed, she struggled more and more to breathe so the nurse told me she could have morphine every hour if we wanted her to have it. Mom had been given morphine at 7:30 P.M. and was showing no signs of it easing her breathing so I asked the nurse to give her another dose at 8:30. About twenty minutes later mom’s breathing became less labored and we thought she would be more comfortable through the night so that was when Danny, Bea, and Bill left at 9:00 P.M.

After my family left and I was sitting with my mother, I told my mother that Dad was waiting for her “just beyond the moon” like he always told her he would be if he died before she did, and that my brothers, Tommy and Stephen were waiting for her too. I asked her to let go and go to the light and find Jesus and at the same time, I was praying to Jesus, and the Blessed Mother to please just come and get mom and take her home with them. Finally, at 9:10 P.M. mom opened her eyes (she had not opened her eyes all day) looked up, made a little sound like she was gagging, let out her breath and was gone.

Mom is at peace now after a long, hard journey, and I’m happy she didn’t have to linger any longer than she did. She will be buried on Wednesday, March 16th, at 11:00 A.M. in a simple Catholic graveside service at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, in the same grave my father, her husband of 57 years, is buried in.

When my father was alive he showered my mother in gold and diamonds, all of which she gave to various family members as her health declined. This gold cross and her wedding ring is all she had of her gold/diamonds at the time of her death and I brought them home with me after she passed.

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During the six years my mother lived in the care center, she bought cheep plastic costume jewelery and seemed to treasure them as much as she ever did her gold and diamonds. The next few pictures are examples of what I found in my mother’s little treasure box she kept in her night stand.

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She also had her eye glasses and two watches.

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She had the little shamrock neckless her sister Ellen sent her for St. Patrick’s day last year, and her plastic rosary the visiting Catholic service people gave her after someone stole her metal rosary my father bought her from Ireland.

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She loved this cheep plastic cross she bought at the craft store the care center sponsored from time to time.

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And she kept all her treasures in the silver tone metal box she got cookies in one year. She loved this box. I have all her little treasures in it and it now sits on my bedside shelf.

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Our daughter, Katie Decker, wanted to buy the outfit mom will be buried in. She picked out this lovely outfit for mom and I delivered it to the mortuary yesterday when we went to make the arrangements for mom. Thank you Katie Decker.

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I want to take this opportunity to thank all our family, extended family, and friends who have loved, visited, and supported my mother, and our family, as we helped her through her end of life process.

REST IN PEACE MOM.

Strange And Beautiful Sightings

I went to visit my mother today. I try to visit her on Tuesday’s now because there is musical entertainment in the activity room on Tuesday’s, and my mother seems to enjoy listening to the music provided mostly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her favorite entertainer is Karl Block. He is a very energetic entertainer that comes right down among the residents, holds their hands, and sings right into their eyes. He also provides different musical instruments like tambourines, and different small hand-held things that the residents can shake or rattle along to the beat of the music…

Today’s entertainer was Jim Bing. He plays guitar and tries hard to sing but I don’t think anyone ever told him he sings very much off-key… However, apparently that doesn’t seem to bother the residents, or they are so hard of hearing that they think he is on key… Either way, today was a good day for my mother as she enjoyed the music and even sang along with Jim.

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She even tapped her fingers on the table to the keep the beat of the music…

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All of that was a beautiful sight to see…

The next thing I noticed while sitting with my mother in the activity room, was a resident (little woman in blue shirt next to the wall of tiny windows), who never smiles, or even talks to anyone unless to lash out at them for one thing or another, get up and dance when one of the CNA’s went over and started dancing in front of her… It’s amazing how music transforms some of these residents who are otherwise thought “empty and void of emotions…” They danced through three songs together and that resident not only smiled, she was actually laughing… and that was another beautiful sight to see. 🙂

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On my way home from the care center, I just had to stop and take a picture of this cactus (in the center of the picture) in the desert just before you enter San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. I’ve been looking at this ever since we arrived here last October, but I just never stopped to get a picture of this strange and unusually shaped cactus, until today. I think it looks like a Sea Horse, if you take away the arms…, My husband, Bill/Bro, thinks it looks like a Giraffe. I’m interested in hearing what my readers think this cactus looks like to you..? What ever we think it looks like, or reminds us of… I think we can all agree, it is a strange-looking cactus right?

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Once I was home I noticed yet another strange sight when our cat, Carmen, started running back and forth, back and froth, from one end of our motorhome to the other as fast as she could. When she finally stopped running, and settled down, I went to see what she was doing and found her lying on our bed, belly up and feet in the air… I laughed thinking to myself, I’ve got to get a picture of this strange sight…

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I experienced another strange, and beautiful, event a couple of weeks ago while visiting my mother that struck me so profoundly that I couldn’t write about it until now, when out of the blue she said to me “I want you to know I really do love you, and maybe if I had done things differently with you when you were growing up, maybe you would have known that.” She said “do you believe me now? I have to be honest here and say that one of the things I always heard in our home when I was growing up and an elderly person that might have done something to my parents to upset them said they were sorry… my parents would say “I wonder if they really mean that or if they are just an old person trying to get into heaven now…” Those words ran through my mind when my mother asked me if I believe she loves me, but in that moment, I looked through my tear-filled eyes into hers, and accepted that as real, and told her “I believe it now mom, and in that instant I let go of past hurts…

A few months ago I had a similar experience with my father, even though he has been dead for 10 years this September. I gave my word to never fully write about what happened between my father and I, but let it be enough to say he broke a bond with me, and caused a hurt that changed me, and my family forever. He never said he was sorry, and never asked for forgiveness while he was alive. But he came to me in a dream a few months back, and without words spoken, in that dream… I accepted the apology he never gave me, and gave forgiveness he never asked for from me, and the next morning I woke up to this…

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And ended that day with this

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And that is a beautiful sight to see…and finally, I felt the peace I have been looking for…

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. Not because I have nothing to say, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and really focus on what I wanted to write about… I know, Bill and I are retired, and for many retired people that means having lots of extra time on their hands. But, that’s not how Bill and I choose to live our retirement years. No, we are making the most of every minute of our retirement, and making sure we are first, and foremost, having FUN!

We love our motorhome, and we love being able to work a few shifts per week in exchange for our space rent, utilities, and propane… Once we’ve covered our work commitment for the day/week, Bill and I love to come home and just relax together. Sometimes we put music on and dance, sometimes we cook together, sometimes we read together.. There are all sorts of “things” we love to do together now that we have the time, and have “found ourselves” again in our new retirement life.

Bill and I don’t feel the need to run all over the place in search of entertainment… Like many other’s have done, we spent the majority of our marriage running from one place to another as we worked in our careers, raised our children, helped our parents, and everyone we could…,

But now, it’s our time. Time for Bill and I to do what we want to do, when we want to do it etc… Believe me, if we let it happen, Shantel, and my mother, would have us running constantly everyday to be with them and/or help them take care of this or that…just like we did before we retired… But we stopped all that when we retired. We let both mom and Shantel know that we can no longer be there to meet their every need… We are going to travel in the summer and they need to know how to get things done without us then, and that can just as well carry over to the winter months when we are here. And guess what?? They managed just fine when we were gone all summer, and they manage just fine now too. So when we do see each other it’s really quality time together. Not time spent out of guilt and or resentment… It’s time we choose to spend together, and we make sure we do see each other at least once a week which is enough for grown adults don’t you think?

During my visit with my mother last week, I am happy to say that she is doing better in that she is not as paranoid but she is still very much living in her own little world… She told me that another resident, who happens to have dementia and is paranoid herself, wouldn’t talk to her and that upset her. My mother kept asking the resident what her name was but the woman wouldn’t answer her so my mother decided the woman didn’t know what her name is and my mother took it upon herself to “teach” the woman her name is Mary. My mother said every time she saw the woman, she would start telling her to say “my name is Mary” over and over and over again… until the woman finally started saying “my name is Mary.” Now the woman says that to everyone…. I asked one of the Aids if the woman’s name is really Mary and she said no, but your mother convinced her that her name is Mary so that is what we all call her now… OMG, I guess it’s all about whatever makes them happy… 🙂

When I talked to Shantel the other day she told me a story about yet another adventure she and her best friend, Jaz, had at the grocery store. Those two girls seem to always have one thing or another go wrong when they are shopping for Shantel’s groceries… Most of the time when they get the groceries back to Shantel’s apartment parking lot and are carrying the bags to her apartment, the bags break and Jaz ends up searching the parking lot for Shantel’s lost groceries that may roll under cars etc… This week they found out that Fry’s has new shopping carts that are designed to help keep people from stealing the carts from the store. Apparently, if you take the shopping cart too far away from the store, the wheels will all lock-up so you can’t move the cart… Well, after Shantel and Jaz finished buying Shantel’s groceries, and were about to leave the store to take the groceries to the car… for some reason as they left the store doors, all four wheels on the cart locked up and the girls had to carry the shopping cart, full of groceries, to the car.. Can you just imagine what a sight that must have been…?I thought I would die laughing when Shantel was telling me that story.. 🙂

I will close this post with some pictures of more beautiful hiking trails here at San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. Bill and I took a two-hour hike today, something we try to do at least four times a week… so beautiful, peaceful, and just a great way to, as a fellow hiker we met on the trails today put it today “put more years in your life and life in your years…”

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One of the things we learned during our time here at San Tan is when you see a cactus under a tree or growing up within a tree is that the tree is called a “nursery tree” in that it protects the cactus until it is big enough to stand on its own, then the cactus helps support the tree… who knew?

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We also learned that there is an invasive form of Holly that gets into many of our desert trees and takes over the tree and will eventually kill the tree…

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Hard as it can be… what we love about the San Tan Trails is the diversity of the trails… Up hill and down hill… Here is Bill making his way up this steep incline. This is when we love our hiking sticks…

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Just can’t say enough of how thankful Bill and I are to be retired, and living our retirement dream, this lifestyle might not work for everyone… but it couldn’t be more PERFECT for us! 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

Christmas Smiles

Now that Bill and I are back in Arizona for the winter months, and are living at San Tan Regional Mountain Park which is an hour away from the care center where my mother lives, I only go to visit my mother once a week. For the last couple of weeks my mother has not been doing well. She has been very paranoid and fearful of everything. It got so bad that she wouldn’t leave her room for fear that someone was going to “kill” her in the hallway’s, dining room, or activity room…. I spoke to her doctor and requested that they either increase her medication that is supposed to reduce her anxiety and fearfulness, or give her something to sedate her and calm her down without putting her in a coma like state. Her doctor said she had “a lot of room” to increase her anxiety medication and ordered it increased and gave instructions to continue to increase it weekly until my mother showed signs of improvement. I don’t understand why they didn’t just increase her medication when mom first started showing signs of the severe anxiety/fearfulness. I don’t know what they would have done if I had not requested they do something to relieve her anxiety and fearfulness. I mean anyone that spends any amount of time with my mother, and actually listened to what she is saying, would know that her talking about people trying to kill her in the hallway, dining room, etc. is not normal, and something should be done to help relieve her fearfulness/anxiety…

Last week when I visited my mother she had not shown any signs of improvement even though her medication had been increased for the past two weeks… It’s very difficult to watch anyone go through so much agony within their own mind when your helpless to do anything to relieve their pain… All I could do was speak to her doctor and watch and pray for my mother to get some peace in her day’s… I don’t know how anyone can watch someone in that state of mind and not do something to help them. God help those who don’t have anyone looking in on them and speaking on their behalf. I’m not knocking the nursing staff at all. I know they do the best they can, but they are overworked, and the doctor only comes once a week.  So if your problem is “all in your head”, and you sit in your room, in your own little personal HELL,  and don’t cause any problems…you just don’t get all the attention you need…

Finally, today, after three weeks of watching her suffer through her paranoid state of mind… when I went to visit my mother she actually smiled at me, and even sang some Christmas songs when I took her to the activity room for the Christmas music entertainment. She even smiled when I took her to lunch, keep in mind she has advanced Parkinson’s which makes it difficult for her to show facial expressions, and she actually ate all her lunch, something she rarely does. I decided that was a Christmas gift from her to me… a “Christmas smile.” I’ll take it!

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Then, when I got back to our motorhome rig at the ranch… I found another “Christmas smile.” We have beautiful tile floors in our motorhome that I just love, love, love… IN THE SUMMERTIME.. but oh baby.. when it’s as cold outside as it has been lately, including today… I don’t love, love, love them near as much… If you think tile floors can be cold in a house… you haven’t begun to know how cold they can be in a motorhome that is on wheels so all that cold, cold, air gets to encircle the entire coach and I mean those tiles get COLD!!!

So, what to do? Everyone knows I’m not about to suffer through being cold in my own home… No, and our motorhome heater warms the motorhome real well but those tiles are always cold… So we went out and bought an electric space heater that heats up those tile floors, and the space you are sitting in, and makes everything comfy and cozy… That’s right, it’s so comfy and cozy that even our princess cat, Carmen, can’t resist getting in on some of it… She just loves taking a nap in front of the nice warm space heater, and that brought another “Christmas smile” to my face… 🙂

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We’re real happy with our space heater but we never leave it on when we are not home. Our neighbor’s, and fellow co-hosts, leave their space heater on low in their fifth-wheel RV for their two little dogs when they are not home, but I’m too afraid that something would happen and burn our whole motorhome down if I did that… But I do so love turning it on when we are home… 🙂

Hoping all of you are finding your own little “Christmas smiles” during this beautiful Christmas season and all the year through… If I’ve learned nothing else as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that it is truly the little things in life that make me the happiest of all…

I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank-you to everyone for following my blog as I document our life journey, especially written for our daughter Shantel to treasure as a written family photo album, and for any family and friends that enjoy reading my writing’s…

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

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