Gathering Graces 8/18/2017

*Cosette spent the night in Gritman Medical Center in Moscow, and continued to be there throughout the day.  Paul took Molly to Moscow to move her things back to her apartment after living in Post Falls for the summer, and was with Cosette all day at the hospital.  She continues to have a weak stomach, and gets dehydrated, and during the evening her potassium levels were still low.  I appreciate everyone’s messages about Coco, and she does have an appointment to see a specialist soon.
*As I stayed in Kellogg, worrying about Cosette and wishing I, too, could be by her side, I stayed home most of the day doing a whole lot of nothing.  Which is exactly what I needed.  I finished watching the final season of NCIS.  I harvested some vegetables out in the garden.  I read all the lovely messages people continue to send, and continue to be amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love shown by so many people.
*Later in the day, Mom’s obituary was posted online.  Seeing that made it much more real to me.  It was a little hard.  If you have not seen it, it is here.
*Thanks again to people dropping off delicious food for our family.  Yummy cranberry zucchini bread, coffee, tea, chicken casserole, chocolate chip cookies, bread, to name a few.  We are so very blessed.
*Zoe kept me company throughout the day, and was  a big help around the house.  Her and Jason were also relaxing after their big trip they had to Canada.  They head back to the Treasure Valley tomorrow, and return to work at Meridian Middle School next week.
*Continue your prayers for our family, and especially for Cosette.  She has been in and out of the hospital, with brief moments of reprieve, since Thursday, August 3.  She is suppose to start classes on Monday at the University of Idaho, as she begins her senior year.  But, for me, as I experience this hard time, my question is not “Why me Lord?”.  Because there are so many wonderful and beautiful things that come out of these hard times in life.  Instead, my question is, “What are you teaching me, Lord?  And through this, how can I be of help to others?”  This is life.  And life is sometimes very hard.  But, for me, I have a Lord and Savior who gives me love, peace and strength each day to carry on. And this is a big part of my life story that I hope to share every day.


Gathering Graces 8/17/2017

*I woke up this morning and my world has changed.  Mom is no longer a part of my world.  Daily visits to Kindred are no longer a part of my schedule.  Mom is now at peace in Heaven.  And that is a good and comforting realization for me.
*I slept in this morning, and spent some time walking around outside. 
*Paul and I met Christy and Bill at Kindred to remove the items from Mom’s room.  I had an opportunity to hug and thank some of the Kindred staff while we were there.  Words are so inadequate to express the thankfulness and gratitude to the Kindred staff who took such good care of Mom since she arrived at Kindred on May 4. 
*We delivered items to Mom’s house and will go through them later.
*I came home to relax for a while.  Kellee Crall Mills brought some Ice Tea from McDonald’s for Paul and I, and I got a wonderful hug from her and we cried and it was such a comfort.  It wasn’t too long ago that Kellee was experiencing the loss of her mother, and she knows what I am going through.
*Later in the afternoon Bill, Christy and I went to the Shoshone Funeral Home to visit with Debbie Mikesell about Mom’s service, obituary and burial.  It was a good meeting.  We are not having Mom’s service until October.  This will give us time to prepare, and not feel rushed because Bill will be going back to Maryland next week, and will return at the end of September.
*After the meeting at the funeral home, Bill, Christy and I headed to Best Shots to have a couple of drinks and share a basket of fries.  It was nice to spend some relaxing time together.
*When I got home, Zoe and Jason had arrived from their trip to Canada, and it was nice to seem them. 
*Dinner was prepared tonight by our good friend and Mom’s neighbor Jane McShane, who prepared  a seafood pasta salad, green salad and lemon cake.  Kellee also brought over a pasta salad to my house and we had it for dinner as well.  All the food was delicious and greatly appreciated.  Nikki Ross also brought both Christy and myself some goodies and a nice card.
*I have been overwhelmed by all the notes, texts, phone calls and messages our family has received throughout the day.  Such an out pouring of love and kindness to our family.  It has touched me very much.
*Molly arrived later in the evening.  Paul will be helping her move her things back to Moscow tomorrow, and they can also check on Coco, who still is not getting better.  She was back to Urgent Care and a trip to the ER in Moscow yesterday.  Keep praying she is healed and gets better.  She begins classes on Monday, and would like to be able to start her classes on Monday.  Thank you for all of your prayers. 


Gathering Graces 8/16/2017

First photograph of Mom and I
*Today started out like any other day.  I got up, Nikki and I walked, I came home had some coffee, two eggs and toast, and had Paul drop me off at Kindred to spend time with Mom.
*Bill, Christy and I were able to spend a good part of the day together in Mom’s room.  Cosette and Paul came in around 9 a.m. so Cosette could say goodbye to Mom as Paul was driving her back to  Moscow.  Liz, the Hospice CNA, came and saw Mom and was concerned about a few things regarding her pain management. 
*Throughout the morning, Bill, Christy and I traded places at Mom’s bedside, where we would hold her hand or stroke her hair.  Kindred brought in some coffee, water and snacks for us, since they knew we would be in there most of the day.  We knew Mom’s time with us was becoming shorter.
*Andrea, the nurse from Hospice, was at Kindred later in the morning, and she stayed with us and observed Mom for a while and visited with us, asking us questions about Mom.  It was a nice time.
*I went home for a couple hours in the afternoon.  Molly drove over from Post Falls and went and saw her Grandma Mary so she could have some time with her and say goodbye.  Paul arrived back home from Moscow, and we headed back over to be with Mom.
*Bill and Christy both went home to rest a bit before we all gathered for dinner.  As Paul and I were in the room I brought up the list of songs that we had made that we want to have played or sung at Mom’s funeral service.  So I sang to her the whole list of songs.  If I didn’t know the words to a song, I just pulled the lyrics up on my phone and sang as I read the words from my phone.
*At around 7, we headed over to have dinner.  Debbie made dinner, and we all enjoyed talking together on the deck at Mom’s house.
*Bill headed back over to Kindred and spent some time with Mom.  Paul and I arrived back at Kindred, and Bill left so I could have some alone time with Mom.  For the next couple of hours I sat by Mom’s bedside and held her hand.  At one point some of the aides came in to check on her, and one of them finally got her dentures removed (people had been trying to get them out all day!)  The nurse administered more medication to keep Mom comfortable.
*Around 10 p.m., I leaned over and kissed Mom on the forehead, told her I loved her, and said I would be back in the morning.  Paul and I went home and received a call from Bill about a half hour later saying Mom had passed away.  She passed shortly after Paul and I left the room.  Nurse Kay said it is not uncommon for people to wait until their loved ones leave to pass, because they do not want to die in front of them. 
*Bill, Christy, Debbie, Paul and I all gathered back in Mom’s room at Kindred.  I stroked her beautiful, peaceful face and we cried together, and realized what an incredible thing we had experienced over these past few months as we cared for and spent time with Mom in the final days, weeks and months of her life.  It truly was a gift.  Thank you all for your kinds words, prayers, encouragements and love sent to me and my family.  It was overwhelming.
*Throughout the evening, Paul was in communication with Cosette regarding her health.  Since returning to Moscow this afternoon, she has had another setback.  Please pray for her that this cycle of throwing up with cease.


Gathering Graces 8/15/2017

*It was a bit chilly on our walk this morning...46 degrees! 
*I headed over to Mom’s room and enjoyed some time with her in her room.  I stayed there most of the morning.  Mom was sleeping pretty peacefully.
*I came home and ate, and went to pay some of Mom’s bills around town. 
*I came home and ate, and went to pay some of Mom’s bills around town.
*April Lee stopped by our house to bring Paul some books she brought him from her home in Italy.  She had visited Mom earlier in the day, and was able to spend some alone time with her.
*I watched a particular touching episode of NCIS today, crying my way through the whole episode.  I think the character of Leroy Jethro Gibbs is one of the best written and portrayed characters on television.
*Andrea, the Hospice Nurse, arrived in the late afternoon, and they are doing some things so Mom will be more comfortable, including a IV diuretic to get some of the fluid off her heart and lungs. 
*Coco and I stopped by Mom’s room before heading over to Christy’s for dinner.  Bill was there, and left so he could go get something to eat.  Mom was somewhere between sleeping and awake.  I started singing to her.  I thought of some of her favorite hymns.  Cosette joined in as well.  Paul came and he sang with us, too.  At one point, the three of us were going to leave for a while, and go to Christy’s house.  But there was an expression on Mom’s face that made it clear she did not want to be alone.  So I stayed, and kept singing.  After hymns, it was Broadway songs.  And songs I remember she sang to me.  Sometimes her facial expression would change, and would react to the songs.  Often I would just sing and rub her hair.
*After eating, Bill returned to Mom’s room, and I headed over to Christy’s to eat.  Mom’s neighbor Jane came out and we hugged and cried and talked about how hard this is, and how much we are both going to miss Mom.
*During and after dinner, we had some discussions regarding Mom’s service, and how we wanted it to be, and when we wanted it to be.  It was a nice discussion.
*I am experiencing a very hard time right now.  But it is also a very special time.  I can’t thank God enough for this time I get to spend with Mom in her final days.


Gathering Graces 8/14/2017

*It was a cool, misty morning as Nikki and I resumed our morning walking routine this morning after a break last week.
*I spent some alone time with Mom this morning.  I enjoy the quiet time with her in her room alone in the morning.  The lights are dimmed, and the Hymn station is playing on the Pandora station on her Smart TV in her room.  Most of the time I was with her, she kept indicating that her mouth was dry.  She was unable to drink from a straw.  So I got some of the pink sponge swabs and cleaned out her mouth, and occasionally would put water on one so she could suck to sponge, which seemed to bring relief.  Mom’s breathing was a little rattley again this morning, but once I sat her up a bit more, that seemed to subside a bit.  It was a different day for Mom.  She was never really awake, but never really asleep, either.  As I sat with her alone, tears streamed down my face.  One of the aides came in, and hugged me, and I tried to explain to her, I wasn’t crying so much out of sadness, but of gratitude.  Gratitude of being able to have spent the time I have at my Mom’s bedside throughout the summer.  Gratitude of being here with Mom in her final days, and being able to clean out her mouth, and give her water, and brush her hair, and rub her arm, request pain medication if needed.  This time is very special.  It is a gift.
*Throughout the morning Mom had a few visitors come.  Bill brought Jeri Robinson and Don Windish over to see Mom, and later Renee Costa visited.  I went home around noon.
*Cosette is feeling much better.  She has not been to the ER since Friday afternoon, and is eating and drinking well, keeping things down, and sleeping well, too.  We believe she is on the road to recovery.  She helped Paul with some projects around the house in the morning, then later, Paul, Coco and I went to Mom’s house to bring more thing over to our house.  Cosette had not had to opportunity yet to be at Grandma Mary’s house to look at her things, so she was able to spend some time today doing that.  Again, we are very thankful for all the prayers, thoughts, cards, messages and well wishes regarding Coco and her health.
*Later in the day, Molly messaged us that Travis had gone to Urgent Care because he was having some back pain.  This had begun last week when they were staying with us.  It turns out he has a muscle spasm, and hopes that muscle relaxants, pain meds and some physical therapy will help the situation.
*Bill and Debbie came over around 7 for dinner on the patio outside.  We had some meat and cheese left over from our Italian feast last week, so we enjoyed that, as well as a corn salad Debbie prepared, and some fresh plums Molly and Travis had left here.  We talked about Mom and her day, and had a nice visit.  But soon the evening temperature got pretty cool, so Bill and Debbie left, and we all went inside.


Gathering Graces 8/13/2017

View of Kellogg from second floor of YMCA building.
*Paul and I started the morning off again going to Kellogg Middle School for breakfast.  At Saturday’s breakfast, the eggs were very weird and did not taste good.  Thanks to Smelterville Lion and KHS Alum Jay Huber, the egg problem was rectified, and the eggs were much tastier on Sunday morning.  It was nice visiting with Doug Jacobs and Marcia Morgan Jacobs during breakfast.
*When we left breakfast, the rain started falling, and it continued to be a very cool and rainy day.  It was nice to have a break, and get some moisture in the air and on the ground.
*For those of you wondering about Cosette, she is doing much better.  She actually came out for about an hour on Saturday night to the Elks, and had a really good day today.  She woke up and had some breakfast, and had slept good.
*Coco and I went over to Kindred to visit Mom.  Coco was able to visit briefly with Mom when she was awake at one point.  Mom had some yogurt for breakfast, which was good, and she drank some water for me.  I also took some of the sponge swabs and cleaned in and around her mouth, and she said that felt good.  Mom is having pain in her right shoulder.  She also complained of pain in her left foot, but I touched it and rubbed it, and she didn’t respond.  But the nurses were aware of it, and said they would watch it.  Christy wanted me to tell her if Mom was awake, so I texted her after I got there that she was awake.  She came over a bit later.  Sue and Joe Kerns also stopped in for a visit. 
*Many of the Kindred staff are KHS graduates, and I was able to see them enjoying themselves at the reunion throughout the weekend, and visited with some on Sunday morning. 
*Coco and I returned home after a brief stop at Yokes to buy Coco some things to eat, and got her some lunch.  Paul and I took a nap.  We both slept very well throughout the afternoon.
*After our nap, Paul, Coco and I had a good talk about when she would be returning to Moscow.  We want her to stay until Friday.  She wants to go Monday.  We compromised, and said, if all is well the next two days, she can return to Moscow on Wednesday.  We are hoping and praying for the best. 
*The evening was spent paying Mom’s bills and doing some catch up blogging.  It was fun looking at the different photos people were posting on Facebook from the reunion.  I have heard such wonderful comments from people about the weekend.  I believe it was a success!!


Gathering Graces 8/12/2017

*Paul and I started out the morning at Kellogg Middle School with breakfast served by the Smelterville Lions.  It was one of the perks of registering for the reunion.
*After breakfast I went and saw Mom.  Because of the events of the day before, I was unable to see her.  I was blessed to find her awake when I arrived.  I gave her water quite a few different times, brushed her hair and put lotion on her dry skin. 
*I went home, and headed to Teeter’s Field to do a sound check, then we headed up to McKinley Avenue to watch the All Class Reunion parade.  What an awesome parade!!  Two people I saw and visited with briefly at the parade were my former church youth group leaders growing up, Jim and Diana Hawkins.  Diana was so cute.  She would not look at my name tag until she could remember who I was.  And she finally remembered.  It was so wonderful to see them.  They were a big influence on me growing up in the United Church.
*After the parade, people flowed into the benches at Teeter’s Field for the opening ceremony.  Paul and I had such a fun time singing a couple of songs for the crowd.  One was We’ve From Everywhere, a take off of the song I’ve Been Everywhere. We had originally sang this song at the 2010 All Class Reunion, and the next year at my Class of 1981 30 year reunion.  We also did a take off on Garth Brook’s song I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.  Our song was I’ve Got Friends in Slow Places.  We had so many people tell us how much they enjoyed the songs!!
*We heard they were giving tours of the YMCA, so Paul, his brother Kevin, our niece Karlie and I headed up to get a tour.  Our neighbors when I was growing up, Mike and Mark Rinaldi were a part of the tour, so I got to say hello to them.  Mike was actually one of the former pin setters in the bowling alley at the old Y.  Two of the places I remember the most when I was in the Y growing up was the gymnasium and the pool.  Here is a photo of what the pool area looks like.  Was it really that small?

YMCA pool area.  Much time spent here when I was growing up.
*After the tour of the YMCA, I went home to get something to eat, and take a little nap.  Then Paul and I headed up to the Elks to see what was going on.
*What a fun time of going from person to person visiting about a variety of different things.  So many people throughout the day asked about Mom, and let me know they were praying for us, and thinking about us, and I received many hugs.  People are so thoughtful.  I also got to talk about my trip to Italy a few times, and people told me how much they enjoyed following my adventure. 
*Christina Curry and Tammi J Flores showed up and we hung out and talked to people, and enjoyed seeing people.  I had to say one of the more interesting stories from the evening was fellow classmates Kaylene Trogden and Sam Lewis Brown sharing us their recent trip to a certain well known festival in Montana.  After hearing their stories, Tina and I decided it would not be put on our bucket list of things to do.  Oh, but their stories were hilarious!!  Kaylene and Sam...you two are awesome!!
*Later Karla Robb Wright and her husband Terry joined us at the Elks.  We did a brief visit across the street to the Inland Lounge to see my brother Bill holding court with his many Class of 72 cronies.  Sister Christy was there enjoying a visit with Renae Costa.  Other Class of 1981 classmates we saw included Steve Milholland, Michael Reasoner, and Bob Hickey.
*I wish I would have taken more photos.  The only one I got was of Christina and I!!
*As we headed for home, Paul, Tina and I stopped at Dirty Ernies.  They had a really good band playing.  I visited a bit with Chelsea Card.  She cracked me up as she talked about remembering coming to our house when her and Molly were younger and she thought is was so weird we didn’t have TV, and that we made the kids be imaginative and creative.  It was great seeing her!! 
*We finally made it home and I was a bit wired.  Paul was exhausted.  You know, the classic introvert/extrovert dilemma.  Introverts (Paul) get exhausted by gatherings like that.  Extroverts (Me), get energized.  So I had to watch an episode of NCIS to help me wind down before I could go to bed.
*What a wonderful community I live in, and had the privilege of growing up in.  It is so wonderful when people come together and celebrate what Kellogg was “back in the day” and what it is now.  We live in a beautiful place.  I think the lyrics Paul wrote, and we sang today sum it up best....
I’ve Got Friends In Slow Places
Blame it all on my roots
I showed up at Kahoots
The last place I let down my hair
It’s got a different name now
I thought that somehow
I’d see folks from the Kopper Keg there
It was no surprise
To these old tired eyes
That all that had changed was the name
Cause I always knew my home town would stay true
And you’ll never hear me complain
Cause I got friends in slow places
Where the Lead Creek flows
And deer huntin’ chases my blues away
And I’ll be okay
I’m not big on social graces
But when I’m here I see friendly faces
Cause I got friends in slow places
Now don’t get me wrong
As I’m singing this song
I’ve done some travelin’ before
I’ve seen the bright lights
Of some cities all right
And someday I’d like to see more
But that doesn’t mean that I love that big scene
Just give me a few days and then
I’ll long to return to this fabulous valley
That we’re livin’ in

Gathering Graces 8/11/2017

*Today began the Kellogg High School All-Class Reunion.  Paul and I went to Kellogg Middle School to register, then went up to KHS to prepare to give tours of the building in the morning.  What a fun morning.  We both met so many wonderful people throughout the morning, or were reconnected with so many wonderful people.  We heard so many stories of former KHS students.  I think the biggest comment I heard all morning was how different it looked with a change in the windows.  They used to go from floor to ceiling.  But when they redid the windows, the only went part way down.  Some notable people I toured today were Mike Mills, class of 1979, who was a senior when I was a sophomore.  Becky Wirta, whose sister Karla was my age.  I spent many times at the Wirta house growing up.  Karla lives in Florida.  Teresa Verboggi, who was from the class of 1980.  She said she enjoyed followed my adventure to her cousin April’s house in Italy.  John Guliani, who was the band and choir teacher at KHS the two years before I attended KHS.  Paul had him as a choir teacher for two years.  He had not been back to KHS since he left in 1978, and he had a lot of good stories to tell.  All in all, Paul and I probably toured around 60 people through the building.  It was a really fun morning.
*Paul left KHS to check on Coco, and she had not had a good morning, so it was back up to the SMC ER for more IV solution and medication.  She returned home around 4 or so.  She went to bed.   And I was wiped out as well.  After touring all morning, and then to the ER in the afternoon, I needed some food and rest.  I had hit a wall.  So I ate a little bit, then laid down and not sure when I finally got up.  I missed a short visit from Jenn and David Schram.  But I just couldn’t get up.  I knew my emotions could not handle socializing at the All Class Reunion that evening, so I just stayed home.  Paul’s two brothers, David and Kevin, went out and socialized.  Paul and I stayed home, and visited with Karlie, Zoe and Jason.  Molly and Travis had returned to Post Falls.
*When I woke up, I headed out to the patio, and Paul came out with his guitar so we could practice the songs we would be singing at the Opening Ceremony for the reunion tomorrow.  Then I grabbed Paul’s guitar, looked up some guitar chords to some James Taylor songs, and played the guitar and sang for a while on the patio.  I was a little rusty, but most of the chords came right back to me.  I need to keep playing songs.  I would like to get back to playing guitar again.
*I was wired by the time bedtime came around, and I needed to put a DVD in the television to watch something before I fell asleep.  The choice was Air Force One with Harrison Ford.  I stayed awake and watched the whole thing, then read for a little bit, then finally was able to fall asleep.