Monday, May 30, 2011

Phases in Bill's life from MY perception (lol)

It always helps when we keep our perspectives on life. Life IS good.

Bill when he was a Professor:

Bill today:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Final days with the sistas

Saying goodbye to the Sistas.... I've been threatened, and they say I can't show any pics but this will give you an idea. Pics will remain up for sale for one year. After that, they will be free to the public through face book ba ha ha ha ha. What a blast. Fairwell to Maggie, Bridgett, Charlene, Jamie, and Barb. As agreed in one of our many toasts, same time next year, place to be determined.

Final days: School

With two weeks to go, we are winding up the year at school. Dave and I and the staff took the kids to the bear farm this Friday. The money was donated to us via a fundraiser in the memory of my dear friend and para-professional Dan Rowley.

We had a wonderful time with the kids. The bear ranch is a rescue center when cubs are found abandoned here in the UP. There are bears from very young to full grown OMG I hope I never meet you in the woods big.

Dan is now a living legend for those of us who knew him. Cheers, baby to one of the coolest, orneriest Santas that ever made magic happen. The kids have given him his own shrine, right smack dab in the middle of the American flag. He loved the pledge of the allegiance, and that is how they honor him.

We miss you, Dan. And Luke wants you to know you're still old.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Holy Cow

Jesus God, get me through this move. Have I lost my mind? Note to self: Next move, God forbid, let them pack, too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Let It Be

"Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

— Fred Rogers (The World According to Mister Rogers)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I think it finally hit me today.

I'm real big into self help and spiritual growth. I believe we have an obligation to the people you've loved in your life. It's nice to help the stranger- good Samaritans are right up there on my list, and I love to give. But we are fortunate enough to meet a few people in our lives that really make an impact. I believe the need to stay connected and be there for special friends, those you think of as more of a friend, more of a circle of soul "mates." I have been blessed (truly blessed) to reconnect (what would we do without facebook, guys?) and I want you to know that you played such an important role in my life for that period of our life, you helped make me be the person I am today. Never did anyone have more fun in life than I have. I want you to know I have more fun in my life than should possibly be legal for anyone. Those that have stayed close over the past what, 15, 20, even 42 years (Hi, Melany! See you soon) know the truth in that. Some (Bob, pay attention) of you best keep your mouth shut, too. I'm married with children now.

I take life straight on and go with the flow. It's how I have lived. In order to do that, I am always reading and researching meditation, yoga, etc. There is nothing like being able to find a balance and understand the difference between good stress and bad stress (distress). Since it is the way I live my life, I have been able to be pretty matter of fact about finding out Bill has early onset of the big A and taking action. Bill and I agreed we would make the best of this, like we have everything else we've faced.

We've lived life full furry. Living here has been the icing on the cake. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would experience Northern Lights, moose, having to stop on a major highway to wait for bears to cross the road, etc. Just on the way home from Marquette the other night in the fog we passed hundreds of deer (eye to eye a couple of times. I prefer seeing that brown tail with the big white stripe running from me. I stopped Monday to wait for the largest wolf I have ever seen (I swear, straight out of Twilight, lol). Thursday night, we stopped to watch three baby red tailed foxes playing on the edge of the road. I spent two summers ago in my back yard watching Golden Eagle mates teach a nest full of youngsters how to fly. Now that was cool. I am going to miss this land. I understand why so many of the famous and wealthy have their hide aways on our islands. Holy cow. It's like walking into a different time.

And my friends. My co-workers. Those that are both. I have not bonded with people like I have here in years. I forgot what I was missing. My staff, thank you for being a part of my team. We had a tough five years. We put our hearts into the kids. We helped some of them (way to many in fact) live their lives to the fullest, up to the last minutes of their lives. We'll miss our babies: Amy, Chris, and Thomas. No teaching team could have dealt with helping the kids and their families through to the end, but we did, and we know without a doubt they had quality of life. Every baby that dies should have people holding them singing their favorite songs, smiling, and laughing. We did it and we coped and we helped those students remaining learn that life is awesome. We lost our dear friends, Dan (Dan oh Dan oh Dan. I hope you heard us sing happy birthday to you. I promised the kids you would hear) and Ruth. I smile every time RJ calls Dan in heaven to narc Barb and I out for making him to his academics. Unforgettable. And brother Dave, like you always tell me, give it to the universe. Sorry about the loss of all that professional development, but we had fun anyway. Oh, and I hope Joe's Bar doesn't go under after I leave. They'll miss us. We did our best planning for school there, dude. Well, second best to working on the beach, but Joe's wasn't bad.

And the Sistas. Girls, what a motley crew we are: an ex-exotic dancer, my favorite tatted drugs and alcohol rehab counselor, Barbie doll working her way up the school ladder, a teacher, a transition/voc rehab specialist, and the craziest neurologist I have every met. We were brought together by Tom and Mags. You turned out to be quite the surprise. Charlene, thanks for teaching me that Redbull and topshelf vodka really does have wings, and thanks for making sure I didn't stroke out on my 50th. wink. I will never be able to replace your friendships. You are unique and wonderful, and I felt like I was at home and could be myself every time we decided to let our hair down. Remember: I have pictures. Ba ha ha ha ha ha.

Anyway, all the self help in the world is up to quite the challenge in keeping my eyes dry when I say goodbye. Thanks for caring as much as I care. We did good.

picture by Dave O'Hanlon

And now to all my friends from home. We are on our way. Plan for one of my lawn parties. I think Al already has the keg bought. Harvey, watch him and don't let him pop the seal until I arrive. He has the keys so make yourself at home everybody. Bob, I am keeping your plans for our retirement as a serious temptation. I do worry about your choice of area due to the movies I've watched about Cape Cod. That was just Hollywood, right?


Sunday, May 15, 2011

While packing..... note to self

While packing, and boxes are stacking higher and higher, when you find yourself ready to murder your man who is barely one step behind you do NOT stop suddenly for gawd sake. And when you begin to look at your man brings only very very negative thoughts like , "get the *(*&(&*)() out of my way," just stop. It is just not worth it. Toddy time.

5 weeks before the big move.

How time flies. I am finishing up my tenure with the EUPISD. School is out June 10 and the movers are coming June 15. So that means the big move day is in five weeks. We’ve been together almost half our lives. In that time we have collected a lot of stuff. I am now in the midst of trying to pack all that stuff. The good news is the green room is packed. Cheer cheer.

Gawd, I thought I was above being materialistic. I have these “treasures” that I just can’t let go of. I have pictures of Lorene Blue and me on her pony when I was probably eight years old. I have pictures, books, and things given to me from my favorite people. And crystals and rocks….. and I wish I could sneak some starts of some of my plants here, but that’s totally banned. I can’t cross the Mackinac Bridge with any plants. There’s probably maybe a trophy or two, also, but we won’t get into that. I am trying to run around and keep the paperwork flow going, am trying to get things prepared so I can apply for re-certification in Kansas. I am preparing for a big presentation for a project I have been working on for intense training in Autism. It’s been amazing and has made me hungry to complete that Ph.D. find myself surrounding myself with friends. It helps keep perspective on life.

On good days, Bill is positive and his normal ornery self. He calls finding out about the early onset of Alzheimer’s a wakeup call. We make plans about the future. We’re falling back to a more spontaneous lifestyle, again. I think it’s going to bring us back to living in the moment and taking control of the things that cause stress in our lives. On bad days Bill is pissed. He talks about publishing just a couple of years ago. He grieves over the financial loss. Then he revels in beating his student loans. Crack me up. We’re looking for a new dog, most likely a rottie again. Bill wants to name her Sallie Mae.

I’ve probably mentioned this, but Bill has a great sense of humor about life. He quit trimming his hair close and is growing it out. Grizzly Adams comes to mind. He was trimmed to a goatee, but his beard is starting to fill in. He wants to grow it long and put it in a clip like ZZ Top or Johnny Depp. I’ve tried to talk him into a pony tail for years. He’s anxious to get back home, and has been bringing up City Council. I have threatened his life if he runs for office when we get home or gets involved in politics in any fashion. I have done my time as the City Councilman’s wife. He can, however, set in the back and heckle if he wants.

Man, I have these mood swings about leaving. In one sense I am very excited to get home. It’s been eight years since we left Kansas. I have made some of the very best friends I have ever had while living here. I guess when you have seven months of winter there is plenty of time to get to know each other. I realize I need my friends more than ever. I am so fortunate to have connection with so many friends from my past. I love to celebrate. And as many of you know, I celebrate a lot. I went out for a beer with my co-teacher at our regular little bar. There’s this old guy there named Jack, and he’s there every time we go in. We’ve bonded, lol. I told him this week that I was moving. He turned to Dave and said, “You can’t let her go. She’s the happiest person I know.” (Please imagine slurred words and a cig bouncing up and down as he speaks.) Made my day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hey, all. Lots of great things have been happening. I have had some really great times here and am really going to miss living here. I rarely fall so head over heals in like with so many people. Holy cow, did we have some serious fun here, people. Thanks for your love and dedication to the kids. What a team. Salute those we lost: Dan, Chris,

And I have also reconnected with people I loved whole-heartedly. Thanks for reminding me of days past. When

Bill is stabilizing in the decline. He has good days and bad days, but hey, don't we all? I think he will do better when school is out for Jack and I early June. After he recuperates from the move, we'll get him up and walking more and get him interested in working out again. He doesn't have much stimulation when Jack and I are gone. He does much better when we're here for a couple of days.

I am moving past shock. I am moving past some of the concerns in dealing with the Alzheimer's- It's so unpredictable, and can be compared to a couple of Hitchcock cliff hangers. Bill doesn't research any more. He's lost interest in reading, something he has loved for years. He's a history fan and lives on the history channels and the military channels unless there's a good boxing match on. His speech is a little bit confused, and he's running through a lot of memories, so I am glad I am able to be here for him. He's not interested in excersize. He drank pop this summer and one other time when we were traveling over Spring Break. My gosh, I know it has been 20 years since he put pop to his lips. There are other minor but definite personality changes.

And of course if you know me you know I procrastinate, pushing it just south of the limits as a general rule to everything in my life. So right now I am figuring out the red tape of SSDI and so forth. I handle that real well. I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, and I avoid like crazy for two days (typical of a behaviorist, I set my limits on how long I can act out). But which way do I go? Do I continue with my PhD? Do I really want to torcher myself with research? Do I smack myself for being lazy? Do I bail out of research and for for a D.Ed.? I'm drawn to Higher Ed for my future.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's a Saturday and we are getting ready to move.

Wake up call. Four weeks to go and we move on to the big city of Arlington. Woo hoo! I am soooo going to miss my wonderful friends, my staff, my co-workers, my bosses... and I am so ready to go home. I am starting to hear about job openings. I know that God will open doors and I will know which way to go, where to look, when to look, and so on.

It is May 7, and my head is swimming in duh-land. Packing and keeping up with the every day stuff is pretty much taking up my day. I have to do my comps for certification in Extensive Autism Training in both behavior and in educational approaches. I have an outline of what I want to say. I just have to fine tune it. We move in just over a month.

Bill is holding his own. The medication is wearing him out. He tends to get headaches and thinks it is the meds. It may be. Who knows exactly. Bill is arguing less about driving. Well, a little at least. I don't know how much the meds are really helping, but we are doing our best. He's happy with what he can do, memory wise. It limits some of his lifestyle, but still looks at this as a wakeup call. I feel pretty protective, but I am an enabler, so I am really having to make an effort to let him be as independent as he can be. He went with me to Walmart and saw several people who were really glad to see him. It was a boost for him.

Jack went to the carnival today with his friend Austin, Austin's friend, and Jack's girlfriend, Stephanie. He is one pootered out kid and he had an absolute blast. He likes his girlfriend. He's such a cool kid. He's got the typical I know it all attitude. He's very convinced he knows more than most. Bow down to the friend or cousin or two that has even more insight than my child in his point of view.

I'm starting to repeat myself so it is time for me to close. My life experience here in the beautiful upper peninsula of Michigan has made me a better person. Night time is setting in and testosterone is running high in the house. Ugggggghhhhhhhhh! Somebody save me!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Note to self

Note to self: I CAN watch the same movie over and over and over and over and over and over again. Even the Messenger for the 500th time in a month. Oh, and channel surfing is exercise. Somebody smack me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One more month and a half

One more month and a half and we move. We're starting to nest, sort, and clean. I have such a hard time choosing what to keep and what to ship off. Jack will start counseling this wednesday. He isn't understanding what exactly is going on and is torn on moving and I feel it's the right way to go for him. He's really open to it, too. He's my spiritual man.

Dementia is a strange thing. I am amazed at the patience it takes. It creeps up on me, and I hear Bill ask, are you mad? I hope I can be strong enough. I am so unsure of what is ahead for him.