An email conversation between my second cousin, Deanna, and myself:
From: "Deanna Anderson"

Talked to mom again today and she was told today that Grandma Pat may not go home at all. They said her memory is definitley a factor and her mind is so bad that she no longer controls her own rights, Mom does not have Power of Attorney because it was never officiated but she does have something they told her is "surrogate". Her name is also on the house, cars, and all accounts. Grandma has real lucid moments but then a few minutes later she will forget what was told her. Everything else is coming back slowly but she was given a memory test this morning and she did not do well at all. Mom has a meeting tomorrow regarding all this so she will let me know what happens with that. One year at Thanksgiving (about 3 years ago) my fmaily and I were in Las Cruces NM and we went to T or C for the day. Harriet, Gordon, Gram. Pat, my brother and his family and mom were all there. When I went home friends of ours asked what we did for Thanksgiving and I told them I sat around with my grandmother and great-aunt and told jokes. No one believed me! :)

My response:

Boy, that sure sounded good, that Thanksgiving you're talking about! I wish I could have been there. I brings smiles to my face and tears to my eyes all at the same time. I can just imagine that group all together! I'll tell you, my folks and your grandparents had some fun times together in their little house in Bemidji when I was growing up, playing cards and getting the giggles!

I think the leaning towards Pat staying in the home is safer for her. Did I tell you I worked there in 1985? It was a nice place then, and I know they were doing a lot of work to it improving it since then, according to Mom. In fact, she and Dad had once thought about moving into their assisted living but never did. Partly that was because we talked them into coming back here. I'm glad we did - We got to be with them for a few months before Dad passed away, and we could be there for Mom. If they had stayed there, it would have been harder on everyone.

Mom talks about her years in TorC very fondly. I often wondered why they didn't travel more before Dad got Parkinson's, but I guess my parents were rather conservative that way. They loved family and friends and a nice home more than rambling all over creation. They did talk years ago about retirement travel, that the good old US of A had plenty to see without going overseas, which is true enough! They did get to see a lot of the southwest, and continued doing train trips to Chicago to visit my sister Sharon. They even came out to California to see me in the 1980's a couple of times, which is saying something, since my Mom hated with a vengence California (it had something to do with bad memories from living there during WWII...) Even my old cat Dusty made the trip, and my daughter Eva, who knew Dusty, took him with her for 'show and tell' to her Kindergarten class in Long Beach, CA! That cat was one travelled kitty!! *smile*

Well, we'll talk more tonight. Betty hopes to get online. I hope Eva can be, too...
My cousin Deanna (my Aunt Pat's granddaughter) emailed me letting me know how she was. Aunt Pat recently had a stroke, losing her speech, etc. She's in a nursing home, but the doctors are giving optomistic prognoses. She has started speaking again, but has serious memory problems.

I'm glad to know the doctors are being so positive for Aunt Pat. I know that time marches on, but it's so hard to think of her this way. She will always be in my memory as this fun, strong woman...

My Mom is doing well. She, too, has her moments with memory, but overall isn't too bad. For her, it's mostly missing my Dad. I always knew they loved each other a lot, but when he passed away, I found out a whole other level to that love on a more personal level. I have been the one that hangs out with Mom the most, and take her places. It's been a special time for me to get to know my Mom more as a woman and a peer rather than just 'Mom'!

She met Dad at age 16 and he was 19. He was her first and only love. It hit her very, very hard when he died. She's still mourning. She's gotten better, less crying jags, but she still gets very sad when she hears a train whistle. My Dad was always such a positive force in our family, teasing Mom and keeping things light. Mom had her moments, too, becoming a bit sentimental despite her tough exterior when she was around certain people.

Mom and Aunt Pat have always been very close. They get cranky with each other sometimes, but really, I have always known they loved one another a lot, and had been there for each other many times over the years. Currently, Mom has been cranky because Aunt Pat wouldn't come visit because of her dogs!! I just smile and let her talk; she says, "I could drive her to the bar every day!" Yeah, right! She hasn't driven in 2 years!! It makes me sad knowing that she dreams of doing just everyday things but can't. I try to dwell on the positive, but the knowledge that she's slowly drifting away from me makes the time I spend with her bittersweet. It also makes it more precious. Mortality brings (or should bring) perspective...


Mom has been gone nearly a month now, visiting Sharon in Chicago. While it's wonderful having a break, it's a two-edged sword. I also miss her very much.

I wish I could find more ways to stimulate conversation with Mom when she's here. I've felt at times as though I'm missing precious opportunities to connect with her, either not knowing what to say, or being distracted during our times together. It's frustrating, not knowing how to talk to someone you love so much.

Mom's very quiet compared to the way she used to be. There are moments when she comes alive, but overall, definitely more quiet. It's like she's drawing within more, and we are being left behind. I imagine a whole world of memories inside her that she floats along day and night, whether in sleep or lost in thought. Train whistles immediately cause her pain, reminding her of Dad. Like Job, she continues to have a struggle with God about his wisdom in taking Dad but not her.

There's a side to Mom I've seen more of, though...it's her ability to have fun, to laugh...I saw some of it growing up, but I was a kid then, and she was busy being a mother and wife. Now, while still being mother and daughter, we are also women, hanging out together. The dynamics have changed. Time pushes us sometimes very reluctantly forward, into the mystery of the future. We laugh together at it...