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.


Gathering Graces 8/10/2017

*Part of the morning was spent baking a Lemon Cake for Molly’s Italian Feast 27th Birthday Celebration that would be happening tonight. 
*As I started to make the cake, I realized I was missing some ingredients, so I took a quick drive to the grocery store.
*I organized my day, and put a plan in motion.
*I sat with Mom at Kindred from noon to 1 p.m.  She slept peacefully the whole time.
*Then I joined Molly, Travis, Zoe and Jason at Mom’s house to go through her things so the girls could choose items they may want.  Yes, there were tears and memories as we looked through the items Mom has collected over the years, and the items that have a special meaning.
*The girls each spent some time with Mom this afternoon, and I returned home to continue cooking the Italian Feast.  When Zoe arrived home, she jumped in and made the frosting and frosted and cake, and put together a green salad.  Molly helped with the appetizers. 
*Around 6 p.m. Christy, Everett, Bill and Debbie arrived for the birthday celebration.  We started off with Italian Meat, Cheese and Bread, San Pellegrino water, and an Italian Cocktail,  a Campari Spritz.
*Then out came the main courses.  We had Sausage Pasta with Four Cheeses, Meatballs With Cherry Tomatoes and Artichokes, Polenta al Forni and Green Salad. 
*After dinner, espresso was served with the birthday cake.  It was such joy to once again make these fabulous recipes I had made in Italy earlier this summer, and share them with my wonderful family.
*It was a beautiful evening that lead to great conversations.  A while after Bill and Debbie left,  Paul’s brother Kevin and our niece Karlie arrived from Nampa.  Kevin came for the Kellogg High School All-Class Reunion that begins tomorrow.  It will be great having them around for a few days.
*Cosette is still not feeling well.  Keep praying she gets better.  Her sisters and cousin did a trip to Walmart to get her some smoothies to see if that helps.
*After a very full, busy, productive, joyful day, it felt good to lay on my bed and get some rest.

Gathering Graces 8/9/2017

*I was with Mom a little bit in the morning.  Good news, her glasses were found!  (They had gone missing the day before).  She was dressed and in her wheelchair.  Today was Hawaiian Luau Day at Kindred, and the aide who dressed Mom put her in a very colorful tropical-like shirt.  Another aide came and put their lei on Mom.  By about 9 a.m. Mom was ready to lay in her bed.  So she got transported up in the air by the Hoyer life (one of the greatest inventions ever!!) and placed in bed.  She was soon fast asleep.  Bill was also in Mom’s room waiting for Liz the Hospice CNA and Andrea the Hospice RN to arrive.  I departed at 10 a.m. so I could go get my new eye glasses up at Dr. Vester’s office in Wallace.  Cosette came along, because her glasses needed adjusted as well.
*Around 1 p.m., Paul, Cosette, Zoe and Jason and myself loaded up in the car and drove to Coeur d’Alene to do some grocery shopping for Molly’s Italian Feast Birthday dinner on Thursday night.  Paul and Jason went and got their hair cut, and Zoe, Cosette and I went to Costco to buy some food.  Then we all headed to Fred Meyer for more shopping. We met Molly there, finished up shopping, then stopped a few more places before we joined Travis at his grandparent’s home in Post Falls.  We got a tour of the lovely home Travis’ grandpa built himself. 
*We decided to eat dinner at the Golden Dragon in Post Falls before we headed to Molly’s big birthday event...participating in 59:Escape Room Adventure.  Molly, Travis, Paul, Zoe, Jason, Cosette and Erin Nansel and myself all participated in The Case of the Mad Scientist. On the website, our adventure is described as follows:
A lethal virus that threatens the world… A long awaited cure to benefit everyone…A mad scientist working in a condemned research lab…And a global group that threatens it all…Are you the brave Team that can find the answers to save us all? 
And we were!!  Team Lucky You escaped with about 6 minutes to spare, and our team is doing well in the overall rankings, getting first for the week, first for the month, and fourth overall of all the teams who have participated.  Quite impressive I think.  If you want a fun thing to do with a group of friends or family, I highly recommend trying this out.  I was not sure what to expect, but it was really fun.  I kind of felt like I was Nancy Drew
*Unfortunately, Coco’s food choice for dinner upset her stomach and she had a bit of a set back, and ended up not being able to do the whole adventure with us. 


Gathering Graces 8/8/2017

*Today is the birthday of my beautiful first born, Molly Jessica Roberts-Cornwell.  She came into our lives in Glendive, Montana, and has blessed us ever since.  She is a kind, compassionate and funny young woman who is now 27 years old.  How in the world did that happen?  We didn’t see her today for her birthday, but we will continue the celebration Wednesday and Thursday with some fun things planned.  Woo! Hoo!
*I got to experience a rare moment of bliss this morning.  Nikki is out of town, so we didn’t walk.  We took the afternoon shift being with Mom, so I didn’t go to Kindred early this morning.  Instead, I got to SLEEP IN!!  It felt so good to leisurely get up, have some coffee, eat some breakfast and not have anywhere to go.  I needed a morning like that, and it was good.
*Around 11 a.m., Cosette and I went to Kindred and she stayed with Mom and visited while I joined Christy, Bill and Kindred and Hospice staff for a Care Meeting.  What a wonderful group of people we have managing Mom’s care.  It was a very productive meeting that got many of our questions answered.
*After the care meeting, I stayed with Mom for a few hours.  She was sleeping, but obviously in distress.  She continued that way throughout the afternoon, but finally settled down later in the day.
*I left Mom around 2 p.m. and came home and took a nap.  Then I woke up and went to the store to buy ingredients to make a delicious meal on the grill called Grilled Shrimp Boil Packets.  They were easy to make, and very delicious.  You take potatoes, shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and some seasoning, and put them in foil packets and grill them on the BBQ.  If you want to check it out the recipe is here.
*After dinner, Paul and I challenged Zoe and Jason to some Bocce Ball.  Best two out of three games.  The losers pay for frozen yogurt.  Paul and I won after two games, and so we got some free yogurt.
*Silver Mountain now has a little shop that sells Frozen Yogurt with all kinds of toppings, and coffee drinks.  It was very good and refreshing.  I am glad we checked it out.
*Now that Cosette was feeling better, she joined a friend in CDA for an outing, since she had been house bound for so many days.  Paul and I drove to Rose Lake to pick her up so her friend wouldn’t have to drive her all the way back to Kellogg.  Cosette had a wonderful day, and we are so thankful she is on the mend.


Gathering Graces 8/7/2017


*Paul went and got Cosette at Shoshone Medical Center ER around 7 a.m. after calling there and confirming she was ready to be home.  She had received three more bags of IV solution, had a good night’s sleep, and this seemed to have turned the tide.  When she came home, she ate a little bit and drank fluids, and was able to keep everything down.  Woo Hoo!!  I can’t tell you what a relief it was to see her eyes start to sparkle!!  Then I knew she was getting better.
*When I arrived at Kindred, Mom was in bed, but sitting up, alert and awake.  The aide said she had eaten a good breakfast, and she had also been given an Ativan that morning to help relax her.  It seemed to help, because this was the most alert she had been in the morning for days.  We had a really good visit as I told Mom what was going on with Cosette and that Zoe and Jason were here. 
*A little before 10 a.m., Mom’s room became a flurry of activity.  Liz, her Hospice CNA arrived to check on Mom.  Mom’s next door neighbor Jane stopped for a visit, and Bill also arrived around this time.  Bill had a chance to visit with Liz, as he had not met her yet, and he got some of his questioned answered.  After a few minutes, I kissed Mom and told her goodbye, and said I would see her later that afternoon.
*It was nice to go home and spend some a little time outside in my garden.  I picked some string beans and weeded the garden bed, pulled some bolting lettuce, and just enjoyed being out in the sunshine, doing a somewhat normal activity with my hands in the dirt.  I also had Clark the Cat out there helping out. My soul needed that today.
*Paul, Zoe and Jason went to obtain a drift wood stump for a landscaping project in the front yard, and I took the opportunity to take a nap.
*Around 2 p.m. I went outside to see the stump, and hear more about Paul’s vision for this front yard project.  Stay tuned!!

Zoe helping Grandma Mary eat some dinner.
*Zoe and I went to Kindred at 5 p.m. to visit with Mom.  Bill said she had been sleeping comfortably the last couple of hours.  After Bill left, Mom started showing some signs of pain and agitation, so I found a nurse and told him I would like Mom to have some medicine.  When Nurse Dawn came to give Mom her medicine, Mom woke up and was ready to eat some dinner.  Zoe helped feed her dinner, and she ate really good (for her). 
*It was around 7 p.m., and Molly and Travis had arrived for dinner.  Cosette had requested Paul’s famous Pasta Salad for dinner.  Zoe left a little after 7 to go join the rest of the family for dinner.  I said I would wait around until they got Mom ready for bed.  Someone came in and started to get her ready.  Part of me was anxious sitting there, because I wanted to be at home with my family, because we don’t get all of us together that often.  But then, as I was sitting there in Mom’s quiet, darkened room, and watched the care given Mom by the person getting her ready for bed, I was overcome with gratitude, and thankful that someone gently took Mom’s dentures out and cleaned them.  Helped her clean her face off.  Helped her brush her gums, and realized Mom was unable to spit, so got some sponges to swab her mouth instead.  The whole scene was quite beautiful.  Paul showed up to be with me and take me home when it was time.  “I want to be here with you,” he said.  Before Mom got changed into her pajamas, Paul and I left.
*Our family dinner was quite a raucous occasion.  I think we were all relieved to have Cosette feeling better, and to see her eating and joking around.  At one point, the evening turned to Molly, Zoe and Cosette singing Veggie Tales songs.  It is amazing how well they remember the words to those songs.
*I believe I have mentioned that Clark the Cat has been living with us this summer.  He has loved having our yard to roam around in, as well as our neighborhood.  Paul had mentioned to me while I was in Italy that he would sure miss Clark when he leaves. I told Molly the other day that when they came to pick up Clark to take him back to Moscow, that he may conveniently go “missing” for a few days, so they couldn’t take him.  Molly and Travis had a discussion, and decided that Clark probably would be more happy staying here, and they asked us if we really wanted to keep him.  We said, “Oh Yes!!”  So it is official, Clark will be staying with us.  We did give Travis and Molly the option of taking him back someday if they get a house and have room for him to roam.