to your mother

THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING A MOTHER AND LOVING A MOTHER...FROM A MOTHER OF TWO.







Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Just a Quick Update


Just got off the phone with the Manor, just checking up on the lady. Desi laughed. She said "Well, your mom really gave us a hard time at supper tonight." My rapid-fire thoughts: mom threw up,  she refused to eat, she fainted, she tried to stand up to get something and fell.


Nope. None of that. With a giggle in her voice Desi said "Your mom rolled herself out of the dining room, stopped at the door, and turned off all the lights on us and rolled on out the door...she laughed all the way down the hall!"

People? She's doing okay today, keeping on truckin', she is.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

This is What We Have Been Waiting For, People

All of the following pictures are from our beginning of February birthday gathering...and have absolutely nothing to do with this post. Just trying to bring some lightness to such a heavy subject.


Okay. I'm just going to dive right in. Get the tissues. As Mom's oncologist told me Thursday, this is what we have all been waiting for...(and it ain't the circus, People).

Brief review:

Mom had a stroke over 11 years ago. Read HERE to read a little about that.
Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma 5 years ago. Read HERE for background on that.

Now we are ready for the here and now...

Two weeks ago Mom was in the hospital with coughing, hacking, gasping stuff. She had a touch of pneumonia, five days in the hospital with iv antibiotics and breathing treatments and she was sent back to the Manor last Thursday, March 23rd.

Tuesday, March 28th Mom woke up puffy, vomited and had a bloody nose. After she facilitated moving all of her belongings from her two room suite to a larger, sunny room near the front door and dining room, Mom asked the staff to call an ambulance. Low and behold the woman was in renal failure with a creation level of 8.6 (should be around 1 or under) but bless be all her crap was where she wanted it in her new room. Mom has not changed a bit, she's still got her priorities.

Now, People, I'm not going to give you the nitty gritty. Here's the highlights: (after proofreading this, I think I gave you the nitty gritty, but whatever)


Chambersburg Hospital ER found two main issues going on: trouble breathing and kidneys that were struggling to filter toxins from her blood. X-rays from Tuesday show nodules in her lungs (pneumonia? cancer? flip a coin) so more iv antibiotics and breathing treatments were administered. Mom received a slow drip of iv fluids to help with fluid retention and creatin level as well as medication to bring down her toxic level of potassium, all due to the kidneys saying "We're done".


Now, it took me a few days, but when I spoke to Mom's oncologist Dr. Cashdollar on Thursday March 30th, he confirmed what my internet searches had determined. Mom's health concerns seem to be a direct result of the Multiple Myeloma that Mom has been fighting for the past 5 years. Dr. Cashdollar said he never expected Mom to last this long. She has been on numerous rounds of various chemotherapies throughout the 5 years and it seems as if this last round, on which she has successfully been on for awhile, is not working anymore. All of Mom's various bloodwork levels have been gently going up or down, all in the direction we don't want them to go. That said, Dr. Cashdollar quietly told me that Mom is not a candidate to try a more aggressive chemo. Her 82 year old, stroke-mangled body is too fragile for such powerful drugs.


So. Mom was still in the hospital and we decided to get her feeling as best we could, under the circumstances, so she could return to the Manor in the best shape her body could be, so she could, well, live out the remainder of her life. We expected Mom to remain in the hospital over the weekend. Another iv bag of fluids, reintroducing solid foods, and some breathing treatments resulted in Mom being able to get her creatin level down to 6.something and get off the oxygen. She impressed physical therapy when she transferred from a chair to a wheelchair with little assistance and wheeled down the hallway to look at the artwork on the walls. Saturday at 10:45 a.m., in walks the palliative care doctor.


Let us take a break here and morph back 11 years. After the stroke, Mom was on the 4th floor rehab facility at Chambersburg Hospital. From there she went to Quincy Village (nursing home) to receive intensive physical and occupational therapy. Those therapists did amazing work with Mom. When Mom returned home, she continued OT and PT in the basement level out patient rehab facility at Chambersburg Hospital. It is there that Mom and Dad met Becca West. I could create a completely new blog about their adventures with Becca. In short, even after she was finished with PT in the basement, Mom and Dad continued their close friendship with Becca. Most recently Becca has taken her entourage of biological, adopted and foster children up to the Manor to visit Mom. Mom can remember when she and Dad visited Becca's sister Anna's house for Becca's baby shower, what, 8 years ago? Anna, beloved Becca's sister, is who you need to remember here.


The palliative care doctor who was on-call Saturday, April 1st. The doctor who walked into Mom's room. Was Dr. Anna Kent. Anna, beloved Becca's sister. No. Lie. People. Mom whooped and hollered as only Mom can when recognized Anna, pure relief and joy.


As Mom sat in the hospital recliner next to the sunny window of room 2238 Chambersburg Hospital, it was Becca's sister, Anna, and her trainee Hans who guided Mom and I through the paperwork/questions/tears/handholding/hugs of learning about end-of-life-care. Anna.


We decided there was no reason to wait out the weekend for Mom to return to the Manor. She had been off iv fluids for 24 hours and her kidney function bloodwork continued to gently improve. Mom seemed more like herself, although still tired and, well, tired. Anna said she would give the hospitalist doctor her recommendations for medications and we could get the discharge process started. I determined that Mom was strong enough to transfer from the wheelchair into my car, I called the Manor, Dad, Mike and Paul with the news and Mom settled into her last meal in the hospital.

After lunch, our drive from the hospital to the Manor was uneventful. When we drove up to the front door, we were greeted by two personal care angels, smiling from ear to ear, so happy to see Mom. By the time I parked the car, Dad was pulling up in the lot. By the time we got in to her room, friends where already sitting with her; the word had spread that the queen of the Manor was returning and her friends were anxiously awaiting her arrival. All told, including Mike and the kids, Mom had 10 people hanging out in her room, laughing telling Mom gossip about what she missed while she was away, what was for dinner that night and other such important stuff.


After a quick 15 minutes, everyone dispersed. These folks know how exhausting a hospital stay can be and showed tremendous respect by leaving quickly so Mom could get some rest before supper.

People? As the mosquito control guys used to tell me, you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig. Joy, marigolds, and sunshine Mom is back at the Manor. That's great, we are all happy she is able to return.


Truth be told? Mom is sick. She will get sicker each day. We, with the super hero strength of the loving staff at the Manor and the grace and knowledge of Dr. Anna Kent (Becca's SISTER, bless be!), will do our best to treat her symptoms to keep her as comfortable as possible. Although Mom has surprised me over and over again with her bull-headedness strength, I believe this may actually go quicker that I'd like to imagine. I pray to be proven wrong, just one more time please Lord, on this one but in my gut I don't believe there is much time left. What else can I say? I think I've said enough.


In lighter news, these are a few of the public school four year olds I teach. (What? You didn't know I went back to teaching? Well, where have you all been? You don't even KNOW me anymore.) I'm looking forward to getting back into the classroom tomorrow a.m. where the problems traditionally are not mine and I can usually solve them with a cold drink of water, a band-aid (one and done), or a big squeeze (bigger! one lil fella likes to tell me as he chokes my neck). A big squeeze.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Queen of the Manor

I know it's been too long since I blogged. Perhaps we will think of it as no news is good news? Okay. Onward.

You heard it right, People, Mom was somehow declared Queen of the Manor. I don't know if this is an elected, hired, or assigned position but who cares, this lady is righteous in her own right.


Dad first found out about this new accomplishment when he walked into Mom's oncologist appointment this afternoon. There stood Doris (the angel who cares for Mom as if she was her own mother) and Mom, proudly wearing this crown as if nothing special was going on. After Doris shared the announcement, Mom was greeted by people far and wide throughout the oncology office; hand shakes, pats on the back, smiles, giggles, fist bumps, high fives, congratulations...in the oncology office...a place where people are doing their best to fight off cancer and death...I tell you, this queen never ceases to amaze me. She brings joy everywhere she goes.

Well. I call Dad this afternoon. He relays the Queen news. We have a good laugh over it. We hang up and I decide this is an event worth blogging about. I call the Manor to see if someone can text me a picture of the Queen in all her glory. Brianna answers the phone (just another everyday angel who walks this Earth, who's job is to care for Mom, as if she is her own mother). I introduce myself and say that I heard Mom is the Queen of the Manor. Brianna is bubbling over with excitement to find out who I am and that I have heard the news.

Bri: "I was going to look up your cell phone number and call you to see if it was okay for me to take a picture of me with your mom!" (Some sort of HIPPA crap policy I'm sure.)

Me: "Honey, you take a picture of my mom whenever you want. Actually, I was calling to see if you would take a picture of Mom and send it to me. I write a blog about Mom's progress and I figured this is noteworthy."

Bri: (more bubbles, more excitement, talking faster than an auctioneer) "Oh yes! I'll grab someone and go down there now, is this your cell number? Can I text it to you? Can you let me know when you blog about it? We just love your mom!"

Well, Brianna came through. She captured some great pics of Mom in all her regal glory.

 Oh hello Brianna, thanks for loving my mom so much. YOU ARE AN ANGEL. You and all the angels at the Manor are why I can sleep at night. Big thanks to you ALL.

When Brianna called me to confirm she had my correct cell number, she let me know that the activities director is sending a pick of the regal couple to the local paper. That's right, Mom's going famous in the Public Opinion.

Oh, did I not tell you? There is a King of the Manor as well...


He's 91 years old. Aren't they a lovely couple?

This post is long enough. As Nancy says "My fun meter is up and I'm out of quarters". Next post I'll report about Mom's incredible good health (all things considered) and why I've been incognito.

Wow, what a cliffhanger! Stay tuned, People!








Friday, September 30, 2016

10 Year Crapiversary

10 Years ago today, 9/30/2006 at 9:30 a.m. as Dad likes to remind me, Mom had a massive stroke.  CLICK HERE to read a blog I started 6 years ago about The stroke. I didn't get many people reading it so I stopped writing, but the beginning of our journey can be followed if you click up there on CLICK HERE.

We don't talk to Mom about today, why remind her of a crapiversary if we can only wish she has pleasantly forgotten the date? Dad and I speak most everyday and always on this date. One of us usually mentions something like "It's 9/30 today" and the other one replies "It's amazing how far she has come" and Dad always feels compelled to say "I'm not going to say anything to her about it" and I agree "Me neither" . Then we proceed to talk about other stuff.

It's been awhile since an update about Mom, and she has been doing so well recently, so let's take this 10 year crapiversary to tell that Stroke to stick it cause Mom ain't backing down yet.

You know Mom fell and fractured her pelvis a few months ago, CLICK HERE to refresh yourself on that one. Well. Mom has a way of turning lemons into lemonade, people, it could be her fulltime job.

Since Mom had fractured her pelvis, the Dr. ordered physical and occupational therapy. Well. The therapy is still happening People, three and a half months later. Dad said today that Mom is walking more and more for the therapist. They have her using a brace to loosen up her curled up knarly hand. Dad and I both agree that Mom has obviously surpassed the level she was at pre-fall but those therapists just keep coming back for more. We both agree that it is probably Mom's perseverance, her sunny attitude, her stubborn you-tell-me-to-do-five-reps-and-I'll-do-ten oxness that keeps those therapists coming back. And Mom's gonna milk this therapy for all it's worth, she is amazing.

Recently I called The Manor and during our conversation the care provider told me Mom had been gone all day. I was taken aback. Dad hadn't mentioned any appointments for Mom that day. "Where did she go?" I asked while trying not to sound alarmed. Laughter and then "Oh, she went on the field trip to the tea room. They said she laughed and giggled the whole time. We just love your Mom". I quick called Dad. He also didn't know Mom was going on the field trip to the tea room. When I asked Mom about it during our call the next morning, there was silence. Then she erupted into laughter. I'm not sure if she found it humorous the way I found out or if she was reflecting upon what a good time she had had. Either way, that lady still knows how to throw down when it comes to having good time. Dad and I now have to wonder what she is doing up there on that mountain when we aren't looking cause goodness knows she's not going to fess up to anything on her own.

So. 10 years ago today Mom had a stroke and she is still pushing through. What, has it been 4 years since she got the cancer survival prognosis of 2-3 years? Cripes. As Prince put it so well, she can still party like it's 1999. Prepare yourselves for Mom to outlast us all.


Goodness knows at 81 she presents herself better than I do.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Five...and the S Key Doesn't Work


Joe plays Minecraft on my computer. Apparently he uses the "s" and "w" to do this. At times these keys don't work. Seems as if they are working now, but if halfway through this thing it looks like a cryptic message, I'm going to continue to plow right through, you people will just have to figure it out. Sorry.

Waiting for the bus, St. Patrick's Day circa 2015. Yes, that is the skirt that Teresa made that was featured in the last "Five" post. Luckily it landed in a skirt-appropriate place rather than Julie's head. Note: Zuzu pet did not go to chool. Oh my, the " " key jut ent out, good luck People...looks like "w" did too. Well now they are working again. This will not be addressed again.

 This is a collection of stuff that Julie found on the floor of the bus and wanted to keep. I took a picture to send to cousin Beth after we had been talking about kid treasures. You'd think this stuff was covered in sugar and edible as a treat if you asked Julie about it. Treasures.


 Fooling around, feeling the love.


 This is a picture I took to send to Maxine. She made the kids fleece vests one year and the kids randomly match them up with their outfits. If you look closely you can see that each of Julie's nail are painted a different color...kinda like Mom' a fe eeks ago. Click HERE to read about Mom' manicure at The Manor


My babies can SWING, People, all by themselves. This a picture of them swinging together on their own for the first time. I can not decribe the feeling I had (and till do eeing thi picture), of eeing my kiddo ing on their on...pumping their leg to get higher, leaning back hile ailing forard, taking itting up o eriouly while moving backwards, smiles, laughter, freedom from aking thi mama for jut one more puh. Freedom to be independent, go a high a they ant, no need for parent uperviion. make my heart soar.

Net pot (hat no the " " key too?). Jut forget it, I'm done ith thi epiode.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Here's Five People

Cell phone pics circa 2015...

 Julie wearing her birthday dress February 25, 2015...aaaaaaaaaand she did her own hair.


This lilput got her ears "piered" for her 6th birthday. I had to wait till I was 10 and had to keep my room clean for a YEAR (Mom said that would show that I wouldn't loose my earrings. Being a mother now, I realize this was probably a ploy to NEVER allow holes to get poked in her precious baby's ears but alas, I am just as stubborn as she and that blasted room was clean for a year, People)  before Mom would allow me to get the holes poked in my ears. She actually took me to our family doctor to have HIM pierce my ears rather than the teenager at the kiosk in the mall. Well, Dr. Karesh, who quickly diagnosed Paul with leukemia and literally aided in saving Paul's life, was not so hot at piercing wee little ears. When I wear studs, the earrings poke out to the side rather rather than straight ahead. Eh, I'm over it. When I came back after my freshman year of college with a SECOND hole poked in my ear, Mom stomped out of my room muttering "You will NEVER get a job with all those holes in your ears". I am here to tell you, the first principal who hired me had three holes spreading up each ear SO THERE MOM. But I digress, this picture is about MY precious baby's ears. And I'm over that stuff, right? Julie was soooooooo excited to get her ears "piered" I thought I might poke out my own eye from the whining and fit-throwing month after month after  month we just couldn't wait any longer. She chose pearls because she wanted to be like Grandma Mac. The piercing technician (I just made that title up) told Julie it was a classic choice, you can dress pearls up or down. How did this tech know my girl so well? Anyway, Julie was brave, Joseph was scared, she almost didn't get the second ear done but we got er done. Note: the girl NEVER changes her earrings so loosing them in her trashed room isn't an issue. BOOM. Me? I rarely wear earrings and never in the second hole. Interesting.



Sick day spring 2015. Both kids sleeping on the couch under the blankets made for then by Grandmama Nuhf when they were born. These blankets have brought much comfort to the kids over the years (thanks Mama Nuhf). If you look closely Joe's feet are actually TOUCHING Julie as they are on the couch. This only happened because Julie was comatose otherwise ALL HECK WOULD BE BREAKING LOOSE.


Where do I start? St. Patrick's Day 2015. Dress made by Mom for RJ (Rachel Jean) perhaps 2005. Skirt/head covering made by Teresa circa perhaps 2014? This is breakfast before school...and that's all I have to say about that.



Oh my word. Summer 2015. Joseph learned how to use his wee lil armpit to make an exhilarating sound. I can not get mad at him for making this sound. Ever. Do you see the incredible joy on this boy's face? How can I deny him that joy? Although Julie doesn't like the jester.  "THAT'S RUUUUUUDE" she will scream at the top of her lungs. Then I calmly say "Julie, dear, it's RUUUUUUDE to yell at your brother. Joseph, some people find that noise to be RUUUUUUDE. If you want to keep making that noise, please do it in your room." (Perhaps mocking her attitude is scarring her, in 20 years I'll let you know what her therapist says.)  Joe usually complies with a huge smile as he stops riiiiiight outside his bedroom door and rips one last juicy one from that wee lil pit of his as he runs into the room. Julie screams "JOSEPH!" in her best playground-teacher voice as I giggle under my breath. It just brings him so much joy, I mean look at that face.

This week's cell phone pics are brought to you by CAPITAL LETTERS. I used them a lot in this post, must be a CAPITAL LETTER sort of day so WATCH OUT PEOPLE.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who Cares What Day It is, You People Love This Stuff

Another post filled with old-school cell phone pics...have at it.


On the way to Joseph's indoor soccer game this winter, there was super wicked weird weather and then here's the double rainbow. If you look closely that's a church at the end of the bright rainbow. My intentions were to print the picture and drop it off at the church. Never did. And that's okay.


 Snowmagoodnessthatsalotofsnow 2016. I believe our neck of the woods received round 3 feet? Felt like 4 yeeeeears of snow. Kids had fun AND they are old enough to shlep ON their snow gear, shlep OFF their snow gear AND put it all in the dryer (yes Colleen, without washing it first, THAT'S how I roll).



 Swimming off the dock down the street from Grandma Mac's house, summer 2015. These monkeys love themselves some water, be it a bay, a pool, a sprinkler, a mud puddle...these fishies will be in it. Reminds me when Joe was about 2 we lived in a townhouse community. I walked the kids to the playground after the area received a lot of rain. Joe had his rain boots on, splashing in small puddles along the paved path as I pushed Julie in the stroller. We came up to the common area where lots of people seemed to be mingling enjoying the sunshine after all that rain. I distinctly remember a father holding his skinny-legged daughter on his hip. He was pointing to this huge, long puddle and talking to her. She just kept shaking her head to whatever words her father was saying. I lost track of Joe as I was observing the two. Next thing I know, I leave the stroller behind as I run in slow motion, hands held out in front of me and I'm yelling "noooooooooooooooooooo" as Joe literally does a swan dive - arms out-stretched, chin held up - into the huge, long puddle in front of the father and daughter. Joe looked around, kind-of surprised with himself, then proceeded to splash his limbs around, belly down, in a way that might tell someone watching "I meant to do that". Many people gasped, laughed, pointed, shook their heads. Well, that father with the skinny-legged daughter on his hip laughed a belly laugh, turning to his shocked horrified daughter, saying in a language that I don't understand something like "Look at him! He loves the water!" She buried her head in Dad's shoulder. Dad looked at me as he dangled his daughter over the puddle (Joe still "swimming" in it). Her legging-covered toothpick legs jerked up to her belly, like a frog. He took her away from the puddle, her legs relaxed. He did this a few more times - leg retract, legs relax - making eye contact with me as if to say "she can't stand the water" in this universal language of frog reactions. That Dad and I laughed a bit...then I marched that boy home. He didn't care about missing the playground, to the delight of many, most of all him, he got to SWIM that day.



We rented our last apartment from some delightful people (shout out to RadonWorx.com)! At some point early on, Wendy presented Joseph and Julie with their first-ever packs of Hubba Bubba bubble gum. Don't get me wrong, these jokers had had gum before but never anything with which you could actually blow a bubble. Well. On that day our lives changed for the better (in more ways than one but I'll only discuss the mega gum extravaganza here). These buster browns worked and blew and chewed and blew and cried and blew and voila! Joe's first blown bubble. Since then they have both become experts, if I do say so myself, so proud. So happy that a small gift from Wendy will always remind me of the joy on this boy's face...you were a part of his first bubble, Sister. Thanks Wendy.

Oh my word. I have never looked at the Radonworx website...look at you all! My People! My landlords! Johnny? Why so serious? Wendy, you are stunningly gorgeous in such a way that no one would believe how well you can handle, well, THOSE people in such a I-won't-take-that-stuff-you-are-trying-to-pull-on-me way. Pops! What a Dapper Dan you clean up to be! Three amazingly giving, thoughtful, understanding, funny and good-natured people. Seeing you all brings a smile to my face. Okay. On with this show.



Oh my. Isn't she sweet? On the wagon ride at Christmas on the Square in Leonardtown circa 2015? A McAloon holiday tradition that started, well, around when the first grandchild/nephew could support his own head, perhaps 10 years ago? Look at that smile, People. Look at the joy. Well. Mike's sister Karyn texted me this pic to show me how happy Julie was because at some point in the few hours before Christmas on the Square...well, Julie did not look like this. She was miserable. Crying, ranting, hitting, puddle-on-the-floor raging over, well, I don't recollect why it happened that time. Perhaps other extended family members do because this almost-everyday-experience-in-parenting-hell was not the norm for them. Me? Just another day in paradise. Anyway, I was delighted to see a smile on my lil-bit's face...in a text...as I sat on the warm couch...while Aunt Karyn and Auntie Lisa braved the December cold on the square in Leonardtown...so I could have some peace on my Earth. Thanks Sisters.

We were playing on the sandy-beachy spot down the street from Grandma Mac (perhaps fall 2015)  when a couple came walking their grand-dog. This feisty guy was kicking up the sand and spinning around...just like Julie likes to do...these two really hit it off playing with each other. Julie would flick sand up between her legs and the dog would do the same. The dog would race around and sliiiiide into the sand and Julie would do the same. The ?dogma? asked if she could take a picture of the two of them playing, I asked her to text it to me. Pure joy, People.

Let us find some joy today, People.
Joy.