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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Graduation 06 - 5-31-07

See the next several posts for pictures. I'm not even going to try to identify them because I can't see most of them. If you're confused, look at the pictures on the banner. Rebecca is the youngest (in pink), Rochelle (middle child) is wearing that slinky black number, and Elcie is in the very sophisticated green and gray. That tall blond young man is my son Tim and there may be a picture of Rochelle and her mom. I'm not sure.

The medical term for Elcie's "disability" is spastic diplegia It's a form of cerebral palsy which primarily affects the lower limbs. In Elcie's case, her eyes and her fine motor control were affected as well and other problems have surfaced as she's grown older. She's had years of therapy, two surgeries on her legs, and one on her eyes (to straighten them).

I can remember when we weren't sure if Elcie would ever walk unaided. We didn't know the extent of her learning disability or her fine motor problems and we didn't know if she'd ever be able to read fluently or write without difficulty.

That same little girl is almost a young woman now. She walked across the Middle School lawn to receive her 8th grade diploma and will begin high school in August. Her smile, which I could hardly see through my tears, lit up the place.

She's mainstreamed with some assistance and special accommodations. Her counselor is sure she will keep up and graduate from high school. Right now she's sure she wants to work with animals and there's no reason she can't. She can do almost anything she wants.

Yesterday she went with the rest of the 8th graders from our four middle schools to Marine World which is a combination zoo, water show, and amusement park about 135 miles northwest of here in Vallejo, CA.

I'd forgotten to tell her not to go on the adult rides. It didn't occur to me that she would. She came in at about 9 p.m. to tell me she'd ridden the roller coaster that turned everyone upside down. "Grandma, have you ever been so scared you couldn't scream"?, she said. I told her I believed so and asked her if she enjoyed it. She did, she talked about it for the next hour.

The other highlight of her trip was being soaked when a dolphin decided to get frisky. She was still a little damp when she came home. I'd suggested taking a change of clothes (I've been to Marine World before) but she shrugged and said "If I get wet, I'll dry".

She misjudged her spending money and didn't have enough left for lunch. A friend bought her a smoothie and the chaperone treated her to a hot dog. Last year on the end of year field trip to I can't remember where, the same friend didn't have lunch money and Elcie treated her. What goes around comes around.

She came home with stuffies and a snow globe. A dolphin, a tiger, an Orca, and something else. Oh yeah, a walrus.

This may sound strange but I'm so glad I didn't put restrictions on her. It's natural I suppose to fear for her and be overprotective but I need to let go a little more.

Rebecca and Rochelle have one more day of school and then out for the summer. Elcie had the choice to go or not go. She chose not. She's had a very busy couple of days so it's fine with me.

Elcie and Rochelle will have a couple of weeks off and then summer school. Rebecca will hang out with me.

Ray has been in and out of hospital since I updated last. It's the same old thing; trouble breathing and chest pains. He has more tests scheduled for next week.

I think I told you grandbaby Jonathan is now a year old and walking all over the place. He's giving his mommy fits. He's learning to climb and never saw a cupboard door he didn't want to open and explore. I think he's going to be his daddy all over again, heaven help us all.

And I'm managing. I still seem to tire easily and I've been trying to sit and write something for days without success. The girls have been going through a period of crankiness (to put it mildly) and that wears me out faster than physical exertion. I think we're all tired, still sad, and stressed. Perhaps the vacation time without the pressure of school, early mornings, and homework will help.

I'm going to try to get away for a day or two later this month if I can manage it. There's an outside chance of San Francisco to meet a blogging friend. If not, I'll figure out something. Perhaps Tim and I will take the train in and just visit friends. And there's always baseball if the Giants are in town although the way they're falling all over themselves this year I'm not so sure about that.

I appreciate all the comments and the emails even though I haven't responded to all.

Sometime I'll catch up my hopelessly out of date blogroll and get back to more regular posting.

Meantime, I'm still around; a little battered but functioning.

Have a great weekend and take care everyone.

Graduation 05

I give up. There should be four pictures here. I can see the one of the four of us.

This is the same thing I'm running into on other blogs and it makes me want to pull out what little hair I have.

Between all the posts, you should be able to see a collection of photos from Elcie's 8th grade graduation night.

Graduation - 04

Now I see no picture at all. I'll take it on faith that it's there.

Graduation - 03

Now it's just showing Elcie with her diploma.

You may be seeing a picture of me with Tim, Rebecca, and Rochelle as well.

Since I can't, I'm putting it on again.

We may be here for a while.

Graduation - 02

Once again, the pictures are giving me problems.

Trying again.

Okay. I can see a picture of Elcie with her teacher and a shot of the back of Elcie through the chain link fence. There should have been four pictures.

And there may be because I see two little squares as well as the pictures. I wish I could figure out what's happening.

I may just have to put them on a couple at a time. Please bear with me.

Mrs. Laughlin is one of the unsung heroes of the teaching profession. She has been instrumental in Elcie's amazing progress over the last couple of years. Sometimes it seems like the excellent teachers don't get enough credit for what they do.

Elcie's 8th Grade Graduation - 01

I'll do a couple of posts of pictures by themselves and then come back.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

I've been a little in the doldrums the last few days. I'll be back; meantime, thank you for all the comments.

I didn't want to let Memorial Day go by unobserved. My thoughts are with our brave men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and with victims everywhere.

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."

Take care everyone.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


This link should bring up a visible cartoon. Let me know if it does because I can't rely on what shows up here.

Blogger has begun saving drafts automatically. I wondered when they'd think of that.


Thanks. I have enough responses to see that the link is working. (Unless you just want to say hi anyhow).

Susie says the new "save" feature I was so happy about (see WAHOO) closes the comments on some blogs. To fix it, go to "post options" at the bottom of your post and make sure the "enable" is activated. It should be a permanent fix or at least as permanent as anything around here is.

I'll be back later.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Something to Laugh About

These are directed for the "over the hill" gang but the rest of you may enjoy them too. Many thanks to Diane for brightening my day.

Update: I don't know what's wrong but nobody can see anything except small squares. Let me know if you want to read them and I'll forward the email.

New Update: Here's a link to the Maxine website. I bet most of them are there.

(Other current post below this)

Live Simply, Love Generously, Care Deeply,
Speak Kindly and Leave the Rest to God.

A clean house is the sign of a broken computer.

We're Doing Okay

I've been tired and a little fuzzy the past few days. I'd sit down and try to write something and forget everything I wanted to say.

It's early Thursday morning, Elcie is home and the other two are in school. She had a very restless night complete with bad dreams. I think she finally fell asleep around 4:30. I called her name a couple of times and then let her sleep. The school year is winding town, tests are completed, and she won't miss much.

She's having a rough time dealing with her Grandma Carol's death. Rebecca and Rochelle are doing better. They're sad but they talk about her and what happened. Elcie clams up, keeps everything inside, and then explodes in misdirected anger. Usually at me. The school counselor is talking to her and she'll soon have summer vacation and her arts and crafts summer school. I'll give her a little time and if it doesn't get better, try to find our own grief counselor for her.

I made what I hope was my only trip to the funeral home with my friend Dawn to sign papers and pick up Carol's ashes. We still haven't decided what we'll do with them but there's no hurry. Meantime, they're in a safe place. The girls haven't asked about them lately; when they do, I'll deal with it.

Meantime, life goes on. I still have to go through Carol's things. Maybe this weekend or early next week. My energy level is better, I'm back to actual cooking now, and I get through most days without lying back down. But I look at those boxes and bags we brought back home and put it off one more day.

Tonight is open house at the middle school for all 3 girls. It will be the last one for Elcie who will start high school in the fall.

I just had to go back to my last post and read what I'd said. Told you I was fuzzy.

Older son Jim arrived yesterday. He may have 3 days; he may have almost a week. Somehow the leave schedule at the National Guard became confused (SNAFU?). By now, he'll finally know for sure. I saw his motorcycle parked next to Tim's bike yesterday morning at Barnes & Noble, walked in and hit him on his shaved head with a magazine for not calling me. (He's a 200 pound Army sergeant - hitting him on his hard head didn't cause permanent brain damage). Also made him buy me my cold drink. His brother was almost rolling on the floor laughing at the two of us.
Jim's doing fine but he didn't get here until 3:00 a.m. Just dozed off and a bunch of police cars went by his house, sirens screaming and lights flashing. They must have been taking a shortcut; he's on a quiet street. He fell back asleep a little after 4:00 a.m. to be awakened by Jonathan shortly after 5. No wonder he forgot to call me. I just checked the mileage between El Centro and Merced. 400+ miles on a Harley is a long trip and I fret every time he sets out. That's probably why he never lets me know exactly when he's leaving. Of course that means I fret for a couple of days instead of 8 or 10 hours. As far as I know, they're still planning on moving to Yuma, AZ sometime this summer. His Guard assignment sounds long term and it's so difficult to have his family this far away. Yuma is only 45 miles from El Centro and he likes Arizona. So do I.

Oh, Jonathan turned one year old yesterday so at least Jim made it home for the birthday if he didn't sleep through it.

I told him Yuma has huge flying beetles and cockroaches (they fly too) as well as scorpions and rattlesnakes. He was not deterred. I remember living in Phoenix and shaking out my shoes every morning and my first sight of those flying critters. All harmless but not something I want buzzing around the house. On the other hand, I loved Phoenix for the year or so I was there and he'll probably like Yuma.

And now I'd better get busy being useful.

Thanks to all for your kindness. Several of you came over from Parent Dish (Blogging Baby) and other sites. I had no way to respond directly.

Have a good weekend if I don't get back here tomorrow and take care everyone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

This Mother's Day almost snuck up on me in the midst of our grief combined with everything that goes along with saying goodbye to a loved one.

Carol's memorial service was yesterday afternoon. It was beautiful; a combination of tears and smiles as so many are.

Her church friends outdid themselves. Their Bishop and the home teachers led the service and kept it as upbeat and affirming as any memorial can be.

I'd asked for one song, probably the best known in the Latter Day Saints hymnal and one that gives me chills (the good kind) and sometimes tears whenever I hear it. My Mormon readers will know "Come, Come Ye Saints". It tells the story of their pilgrimage to Utah and speaks to the triumph of the spirit over what seems to be overwhelming adversity. Each of the four verses ends with "All Is Well, All Is Well". It's always spoken to me of hope and courage. I couldn't sing for my tears but listening was enough.

Tim (my youngest son), Tasha (girls' mom) and I represented three generations of the family and each managed to say a few words about Carol. My girls (fifth generation counting my adoptive mom still going strong at almost 95 back in Albany, NY) were all there, sitting with family and friends. It was their first experience with the death of someone very close. They did well although I know how hard it was for them.

I remembered much about Carol at her best. Happy and full of enthusiasm and energy. She did so much for the girls that I couldn't. She taught them how to ride bikes, roller skate, dance. She took them to the park and not only pushed the swings, she swang (swang?) right along with them and provided the counterbalance on the see-saw. She slid down the slides. She took them swimming and splashed alongside them in our little pool each summer. We had sing-a-longs around my old, battered, piano. She was much better at reading aloud than I (I kept dozing off) and read to them almost every night; even after she became ill and they were older. She always kept the wonder and imagination of a child. Her granddaughters will miss her more than they realize now.

Update: I'd forgotten until I was just now reading Mamaloo's post about the frustration of finding a good hair salon. Carol cut all of our hair until she wasn't well enough to continue. It's taken us 3 tries to find one that matches her talent.

Somehow I managed, I hope, to convey her spirit and delight in life.

The women of the Relief Society prepared a wonderful luncheon for us after the service. I took some pictures of all of us, even Ray. Maybe I'll post them later. Haven't decided yet.

The photo at the top is my Mother's Day tribute to my beloved daughter. Her two boys and my two youngest sons are very close to the same age. It isn't dated but 1982 or '83 sounds about right looking at their ages. We were all in San Francisco then, Jim must have been in about his first year of high school. I'd searched through my albums for it; Tim found it in his and held it in his hand all through the service.

From left to right,

first row:
Carol's youngest son Jackie, now 30

second row:

My Tim, now 34, and Carol's older son (girls' dad) Wesley, now 32

third row:

Jim's best friend Robbie who lived with us through most of the high school years (long story)
Carol in her mid twenties
My older son Jim, who will be 39 next month and is serving in the California Nat'l Guard on the Mexican border. He couldn't make it but will be home this weekend for his youngest son's first birthday and Mother's Day. His wife is expecting another child late this year which will bring them up to 8 kids and one grandchild between them.

For my tribute to my two mothers, see here
and here. I wrote them in May of last year so most of you may have already seen them.

Again, thanks to all of you who have commented, emailed, sent cards, flowers, etc., and done so much to make these last few weeks a little more bearable. If I missed replying to any of you, please include yourselves here.

Take care and have a good Mother's Day everyone.

Much love


P. S.

Congratulations to Diane, a first time Grandmother. Mom and little girl doing well after a precarious start. I know she and her family back in Arkansas would appreciate your good wishes.

Diane and I became acquainted when I saw one of her comments on another blog. I checked her out, saw Bay, AR, and left a comment of my own saying something like I bet I was her first visitor (other than people who know her in real life) who knew exactly where Bay, AR is. I lived five miles down the road for 8 years. Small word, the internet.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Carol 2 - Pictures (more below)

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A couple of photos of Carol with the girls when they were very little (with friend Heather) and Carol with her son, Wesley (girls' dad). Carol is the laughing one and it's a wonderful picture.

The local paper finally ran the death notice today. They no longer run the full obits unless the family pays for them. This is it - doesn't say much, does it?

Carol Kathleen Breeze

June 2, 1956 ~ May 3, 2007

<A Memorial service will be held Thursday, May 10, 2007 at 12:00 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 2976 North McKee Road in Merced.

Burial will be private per the family's request. Contributions may be made to Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home, 1490 B Street, Merced California 95340.

It's cremation, not burial. Maybe sometime Tim and I will take her ashes back to our beloved San Francisco.

Carol is a convert to the LDS (Mormons) as are her son and Ray. The funeral director at Stratford-Evans (I picked them at random) turned out to be an old friend and member of her church which helped. I thought the county might have to do it since I sure didn't have the money up front. I guess that's why he put that line in about contributions because when I told him about our finances, he didn't seem worried. I'll figure it all eventually. Meantime, I was fairly sure I was following her wishes with the Mormon service. It's the last thing I can do for her.

Tomorrow was the first day that made sense for the service. The girls will be finished with testing and it's Tim's regular day off.

Strange how things happen. Ray and I both have enough insurance to cover final expenses but I never thought about Carol. Once I did, she was sick and not eligible. We'll work it out somehow.

Meantime, being the caring people they are, they've visited, helped me plan the service since I knew very little about their customs, brought cookies on Sunday, and dinner on Tuesday. They visited Carol all through her illness, even after she was moved out of the city.

I agreed to speak. I'm sure I can do it - just won't know what to say until I'm standing there. I've been thinking how much Carol did with the girls when she was well. The skating and bicycle rides, the long walks around town, all the stuff that younger parents do that are beyond me. I will focus on her wonderful qualities - there were many.

We're doing okay. I was exhausted and not sleeping at night for the first few days and going back to bed in the daytime after the kids were either in school or with friends. Ray pitched in and did almost everything around here. I slept last night and stayed awake today so the worst may be past. Yesterday was the first day I hadn't felt sick from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. Combination of grief and stress, I suppose. Once we have the service tomorrow behind us, maybe I can take two steps forward and only one back.

My friend Janet took me to lunch and then coffee yesterday. We hadn't seen each other for a while. Today Ray and I took Elcie for wheelchair repairs and to order her new bright red electric scooter. We hope it will be here by the time she starts high school. I'll probably need a lift for the van because I'm sure we won't be able to lift it. And we'll put the ramp down at the front door. We didn't need it with the lightweight manual chair.

The girls are at my friend's house having their hair done. We had chicken sandwiches for dinner. Maybe by Friday, I'll feel like cooking once again. Fortunately, Ray enjoys cooking so he took over there as well. I keep telling him not to wear himself out but so far he hasn't complained. (Spoke too soon - here they are).

Once again, thank you for all the loving comments and emails.

Carol 1 - Pictures

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Merle asked me if I had any pictures of Carol. She has always been as camera shy as I but I managed to find a few from happier times. I have some more recent but she looked so thin and ill. I'll keep them but I didn't want to post them.

That's Carol with Elcie and Rochelle and Carol with me. I didn't date the snaps but you can tell from looking at the girls that they go back a few years.

I'll be back with another set. For some reason they didn't appear.

My ergo keyboard just went kerflooie. It's typing 'z' for 'e' and freezing up. I have Elcie's regular board and I'm going nuts. The keys seem all cramped together and my fingers are tripping over each other.

Tim says 6 months is the normal life of a keyboard especially with the amount of typing I do. I have a manual portable Royal typewriter which must be at least 55 years old and still going strong. I noticed the painted letters were wearing off but since I don't need them, I didn't worry about it. Elcie was complaining and I told her to learn to type and she woudn't have that problem.

Blogger says the other set is here but I can't see them. I'll try on another post with Picasa.

Be right back.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Carol Kathleen Breeze June 2, 1956 - May 3, 2007

The end came tonight at about 7:30. Tim, Rebecca, Rochelle, their mom, and I were about halfway between home and the facility when they phoned to tell me she had just died.

According to her nurse, it was peaceful. The girls are sad but okay, I just dropped Tim off at home and of course Ray is here with me. Elcie didn't want to go, the other two insisted and they're old enough to decide. I'll tell her in the morning.

I thought about saving this post for morning but sometimes it's better to get the hard things out of the way.

I can never thank you enough for all the prayers and support.

Much love to all


Update shortly past midnight Saturday morning

I'm blown away by the love and support which has poured in. I've tried to get around to most of you either by email or in your comment boxes but know there are some I've missed and some I'm unable to contact.

My gratitude to all of you. Some of you have said it's difficult to find words. I have the same problem. My words of condolence have always seemed inadequate and awkward to me. Trust me on this; yours are not. It's the feeling behind the words that counts.

I've been blog surfing this evening (beats thinking too much) and realized how many of you have included the death of my daughter in your own posts.. My thanks to you as well.

I'll write more later. We're doing okay, all things considered, and yes, I'm managing a little rest although last night was almost sleepless. I made up for it with a long nap before the girls came home from school. We've taken care of many of the details; tomorrow I'll make one final trip to Turlock, to pick up Carol's personal items (she'd built herself quite a little nest in the time she was there).

Much love to all and take care everyone.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

No Change Since Yesterday

First, thanks to all for the outpouring of love and support yesterday and today. I've tried to get back to some of you; especially the visitors I don't remember seeing here before.

Tim and I spent quite a while with Carol yesterday. My friend Dawn's husband drove my van for me. I wasn't sure I could do it and since Dawn was here (she usually is on school mornings), she immediately offered.

As much as I could tell, Carol seems to be pain free for the first time in several months. She slept most of the time we were there; woke briefly and said my name, asked for water and drifted off again. I hope that continues for as long as it takes. We don't know how long it will be. She might go on like this for a while or she might not. We wait.

Last night's dinner consisted of the weekly special from the Colonel. Lots of chicken, slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn on the cob. Tonight I may have a break from cooking *(see below) except for me and Ray.

I've pulled myself together somewhat. When I've been faced with similar situations in the past, I've tried to go on doing what I would have been doing. For me, that meant spending time with Ray and the girls yesterday, doing the big monthly shopping today, and all the other normal stuff. When I couldn't sleep last night, I came back to the computer and began answering comments and emails. Strangely enough, it helped. I think it was being able to "talk" about what was happening with caring friends who have been there. Part of me feels odd to be sitting here writing about the mundane and part of me knows that it's a good outlet and a better way to spend time than brooding in silence.

Still, I find myself weeping unexpectedly and, as I've said before, I'm not one to cry. I no longer fight the tears, even in the middle of Wal-Mart when the recorded music started playing Wind Beneath My Wings. I'm glad I was in a rather quiet section of the store in the early morning.

I've talked to Elcie about her Grandma Carol (she sensed something was wrong just by looking at me) but not so far to the other two. They know how sick Carol is but not that the end may be so close.

Tim said and, after thinking about it I agree, that there is no point in causing more grief before I must. They're only 11 and 12 to Elcie's 14. I won't lie if they ask but so far yesterday and today they haven't.

They're due home from school soon. Elcie will be on the bus to our front door; Rebecca and Rochelle will be walking home until Rebecca's bus suspension is lifted. Of course that means that Rochelle is suspended in effect as well. I won't let Rebecca walk by herself and I can't guarantee in this minute to minute existence that I'll be available in the afternoon to drive them.

On a little brighter note, Ray continues to do well and our weather is lovely, if a little warm. *The girls are invited to a church social (not my church but who cares) tonight. Should be fun for them. They've been swimming in a neighbor's small pool and are beginning to lather on the sunscreen and bask.

Elcie has learned to do her own hair. My aching arms feel better already.

Once again, thanks to everyone. Much love to all and take care.