Monday, August 19, 2002

Mom called last night and then this morning before church. She did not sleep all night. Even took 2 Tylenol PM's. We picked her up for church. Then stopped at Hornbachers and Wal-Mart afterwards. Had corn the cob for 2:30 dinner. While there, she was going over everything in the will, wondering where alot of it was. Was nice about it and didn't ask for it back, was just wondering. She gave me a big hug when she left and said thanks for listening and cranky attitude. I said that was ok as you need someone to talk to. It was just good for her.

Yes, she is still set on trying to get her license. After she got home she called and asked, when did we get the license plates for the car? I explained when and etc but did not go into detail nor mentioned about the drivers license. I just agree with her and she will have to find out for herself. She waivers about Mhd Manor, up and downs about liking it there. She has her moments but 75% of the time she likes it. She just needed to vent, talk and think today. I listened - it's hard - but I love, respect and honor her as I know God would want me to do and the way I pray my kids will do for me.

Bill and Taylor are at the Dorothy Day Meal right now. Randy came home from a movie with friends and I told him about Grandma and what a great mother she was and he came over and gave me a big hug and said I know Mom, that's why you are such a great Mom - talk about making my day.

When we get frustrated with Mom - just remember - remember - remember - remember........

"Pervasive computing's* earliest adapters will be old aging, increasingly demented America, who forgets to take pills and is forever misplacing the TV remote control."

Examples are gesture pendants, Autonomy Enhancing Devices, and an artificially intelligent health adviser, part of a "Smart Home" environment.

Full story...

* The essence of pervasive computing is the creation of environments saturated with computing and wireless communication, yet gracefully integrated with human users

Friday, August 16, 2002

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Tonight I was cleaning out a closet of mine, and as often happens, I digress from one task to another. At one point, I'm at my desk rearranging and clearing out to make room for this and that (it's a long sad tale), and I come across a slip of paper taped to a cubbyhole in the desk. Document "Uncle Henry" and "Aunt Daisy" in family history it says. For a moment, I wondered what in the world, then a split second later I smiled, remembering Mom telling me last year, in the midst of her first flush of grief and confusion. "I want to tell you before I forget..."

"Uncle Henry" and "Aunt Daisy" were Mom and Dad's code phrases in their early love letters to each other, especially during the war when they were quite aware that many letters were read by the Army censors, for their genitalia. When they would write to one another that "Uncle Henry misses Aunt Daisy", they knew exactly what the other meant without being crude or letting anything slip to the censors.

Mom has kicked herself more than once for having Dad take out the bundle of their love letters and burn them. She can't for the life of her remember why they did it, either. What she does remember is Grandpa Fitzpatrick, her father, joking that "...that's the hottest fire ever seen around here..."

The evidence of our existences are fragile at best. All too easily it disappears and no one knows we were ever here...

Friday, August 09, 2002

Charlton Heston shared with the world today that he may be in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's...
[Sharon, Betty, and I have been told that our Mother is in the same situation. Only autopsy post-mortem can confirm it currently. But all the tests Mom has been through is leading the doctors to believe she is showing early signs of a dementia. I want to appreciate every moment we are given with her...]

``My dear friends, colleagues and fans, my physicians have recently told me I may have a neurological disorder whose symptoms are consistent with Alzheimer's disease. So I wanted to prepare a few words for you now because when the time comes I may not be able to.

I've lived my whole life on the stage and screen before you. I found purpose and meaning in your response. For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can't part with you, which is why I won't exclude you from this stage in my life.

For now, I'm not changing anything. I'll insist on work when I can. The doctors will insist on rest when I must. If you see a little less spring in my step, if your name fails to leap to my lips, you'll know why. And if I tell you a funny story for the second time, please, laugh anyway.

I am neither giving up nor giving in. I believe I am still the fighter that Dr. King and JFK and Ronald Reagan knew. But it's a fight I must someday call a draw.

I must reconcile courage and surrender in equal measure. Please, feel no sympathy for me. I don't. I just may be a little less accessible to you, despite my wishes.

I also want you to know I am grateful beyond measure. My life has been blessed with good fortune. I'm grateful that I was born in America, that cradle of freedom and opportunity, where a kid from the Michigan Northwoods can work hard and make something of his life.

I am grateful for the gift of the greatest words ever written that let me share with you the infinite scope of the human experience. As an actor, I'm thankful that I've lived not one life, but many.

Above all, I'm proud of my family. My wife Lydia, the queen of my heart, my children, Fraser and Holly, and my beloved grandchildren, Jack, Ridley and Charlie. They're my biggest fans, my toughest critics and my proudest achievement. Through them I can touch immortality.

Finally, I'm confident about the future of America. I believe in you. I know that the future of our country, our culture and our children is in good hands. I know you will continue to meet adversity with strength and resilience as our ancestors did and come through with flying colors--the ones on Old Glory.

William Shakespeare, at the end of his career, wrote his farewell through the words of Prospero in ``The Tempest.'' It ends like this:
'Be cheerful, sir.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air;

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.'

Thank you, and God bless you, everyone.''

Thursday, August 08, 2002

It's been one year since Dad passed away. He was such a positive person, curious, loving, hardworking.

If only I could see his smile one more time, blue eyes twinkling...No wonder Mom loved him...

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

From an email to my daughter Eva tonight...
Grandma left me a voice mail last night saying she had called and talked with you.

It's hard to know how much time she has left on this old earth. I hope that you'll try and call her as much as you can. I know that you'll really appreciate your time there together in August.

Grandma sometimes seems shy or tough, but believe you me, she loves hugs and affection. She needs that right now more than ever between missing Grandpa and feeling alone (not to mention bored...sometimes she says she's bored out of her skull...) Aunt Betty tells her she should crochet or do embroidery, but she probably won't. Grandma wants to, but she's tired, her hands don't work as well as they used to. She says they're OK, but it's obvious to me that they are getting gnarled more and more from arthritis setting in bit by bit, not to mention the fact that she doesn't move much let alone exercise/stretch, etc.

We had her to the physical therapist and he suggested exercises for her to follow at home, but the list sits on her footstool and she admits to never doing them. What can you do? Not much. The person themselves has to want to...But what we CAN do it give her our time and our love. I admit I don't as much as I could, but try to do as much as possible and still balance the rest of my life. It's a tough call. You feel guilty either way...

Friday, August 02, 2002

Mom is alone after being part of a couple for the vast majority of her life. She tells me she misses the physical closeness - the snuggling, the sleeping with, the touch of Dad. You feel empty inside. Put that emotional distress together with her physical/mental problems (bad peripheral vision, increasing dementia), and it spells disaster for being behind the wheel.

We've been struggling with this issue for months now. It's one very practical manifestation of Mom's struggle to cope with all the stresses that growing older and becoming a widow has brought to bear on her.

I came across an article about that very subject - older drivers - today that made me think about the issues our society as a whole are facing with the increasingly older population...
"Driving has an essential role in helping older men and women live independently. However, with age, a person's competence and confidence behind the wheel may erode to the point that quitting becomes an unfortunate necessity and dependence on other means of transportation becomes an inevitable reality...If we, as a society, fail to take steps to help older people prepare for and cope with this transition, then the goal of improving the quality of life in old age will be greatly compromised, both now and in the foreseeable future." Full story...

Sharon recalls talks with Mom during the recent visit from Mom:
When mom visited me this past June and July, we often sat out in the evenings on the front stoop or in the back yard under a canopy tent set up with wicker and metal furniture. Mom took a great interest in watching the airplanes flying overhead that were headed to O'Hare airport and in watching the fireflies when it became dark outside. She'd often marvel at how those planes stayed aloft quoting the law of aerodynamics. During these times as well as when traveling in the car, we talked about dad, about her earlier life, about Bill's current job situation, Rachel, Paul etc.

In one of her wistful moments sitting on the front stoop, an interesting, previously unknown fact slipped out about mom. If she had had her druthers, the money and opportunity, she would like to have been a scientist. I always thought she had been interested in being a science technician. But, no, she was very clear about the dream of being a scientist. No doubt, she regrets not getting that opportunity but has since resigned herself to it. She said she always liked science more than English when in school. In a different generation such as ours, she would have had that opportunity to see her dream materialize.

From things she said and intimated, I believe that she is very proud of the accomplishments of each of her daughters and the fact that they really care what happens to her (that she is really blessed to have such loving and caring daughters).

She reminded me also of the history of the small round table and chair set that came from the soda fountain place in Pembina and how Grandma bought the set for less than $5.00. It came with only 3 chairs. Grandma put new masonite boards in the seats and painted the metal black and the seats silver.

I didn't realize how close mom and grandma were til she was sharing how dad would often laugh that they could be down to Grandma and Grandpa's for a meal and then mom would be on the phone with her just after she got home. Grandma had a chance to see Dad work at the Short's cafe and told mom that he would be a good provider for whoever he married. Also, dad really
thought a lot of Grandma too.

Mom recalled some of the funnier aspects of their married military life in the service. When stationed either in Texas or California, dad overslept one morning and didn't make it in for roll call at the camp. He was really scared that he would be charged with AWOL but fortunately one of his buddies covered and answered for him at the roll call.

Mom said several times she wished she could have given dad a boy. She went on to talk about losing the baby boy in California and the trip home when she was having a nervous breakdown. The train stopped in Des Moine, Iowa and dad thought of putting mom into mental hospital because she was in such bad condition. He contacted his Aunt Ragnil and she told him that if it were her spouse, she definitely would not put him in one of those places. She advised him to take her home to Grandma as he originally

If I recall any other conversations containing unique info, I'll pass it along to you both.