Friday, March 6, 2009

My Mom

My mom at 57 with Josh, 2 and Shanna, 4.5. She would later have 4 more granddaughters. "Shayna" Shanna is now carrying her 2nd child.
My mom in her early twenties.
Today would have been my mom's 82nd birthday if she not had Alzheimer's Disease. She had survived breast cancer at age 64 only to have AD ten years later. None of her 4 siblings who survived into their 70s had either cancer nor AD. Indeed, the 3 remaining are very healthy and alert even though 2 of them are older than she would have been. She had a very hard life living with an abusive husband. AD is a cruel disease slowly destroying what makes you you. At one point, she became violent and unmanageable, which was so unlike her. During the last two years of her life, she could not speak (except for the word 'yes') or walk. When I first had to put her in a home in 9-03 (a nightmare in itself-my father was still alive and wanted her to continue to wait on him hand and foot), she would be so excited to see me saying to anyone she saw," Look, look, my mother's here!" This quickly turned to her only being able to say-"Mine, mine" pointing to me. After 2005 or so, it was questionable if she knew who I was other than a vaguely familiar face. In 9-07, she suddenly refused food or to swallow if it was placed in her mouth. I had just seen her 2 days before her hunger strike and she seemed normal. Her 2 remaining pleasures were treats and being able to move. The latter was severely curtailed by the staff as she quickly got into trouble setting off alarms and breaking things. I would take her outside where she'd be free to shuffle herself non-stop in her wheelchair and bring her treats that I would have to ration as she would shove them into her mouth all at once. It is said that AD is childhood in reverse. Indeed this is true. At the point that she needed to be in a home, she had the speech of a 4 year old. She would excitedly show me that she could recognize letters. Her remaining skill was that she could tie shoes-something that few of the 7 year old boys I had coached in soccer had mastered.
When I first was diagnosed with TNBC and read about its particular nastiness, I thought at least now I don't have to worry about getting AD. I really believe that there is a good chance in the next 10 years or so that TNBC can be stopped. I am not so optimistic about AD-much, much more complicated of a disease. Lots of research directed toward it though and I myself had worked on some of these projects.

Yesterday we drove up to the Thumb for one of the mom's dad's funeral. She and her sister had prepared a collage of their father's life-interesting especially with the early pix of my friend. Their dad was a handsome man. His heart attack sneaked up on them but my friend and her sister were there for him. A church lady lunch followed the ceremony-the black walnut cake was especially good. Steve and I stopped in Frankenmuth on the way home, which was built to resemble a Bavarian village, famous for its chicken dinners and the world's largest X-mas store. One of MI's biggest tourist destinations favored by bus tour groups of seniors. We looked in some of its touristy stores, one specializing in old candy that I loved in the 60's. French burnt peanuts, those waxy bottles full of colored sugar water, waxy sweet lips, marshmallow ice cream cones, cigarettes made of sugar, Dots, etc.

District final tonight against the South Lyon Lions. Wednesday this team was 2 points behind the Mounties with a second to go and a freshman made this miracle 3 pointer at the buzzer to win the game. Naomi's team had to analyze that game yesterday (they tape everything). Their big (literally and figuratively) star won't be Naomi's responsibility but she will have to do the tip-off against her. Huron should win but who knows what can happen. I was rooting around SL's website yesterday trying to see specifically what teams had beaten them ( I had knew that Salem had beaten them twice-a team we beat) but instead of coming up with their sports records, I came across their test scores. It turns out that its District's average composite ACT score is only 1 point higher than Naomi's. SL is full of middle to upper middle class kids-no projects. Maybe I am underestimating Naomi's abilities. Once the season is over, could be tonight, I need to focus more on her future. I keep comparing her to a typical Huron student (the school was ranked recently as the top school academically in the state) instead of the population at large. Last night I helped her study for her big Government test today. She is improving quite a bit. I am not sure she is mature enough for college.

I finally received my doctor's excuse from jury duty today along with another beautiful card from Lesa, who makes homemade cards to cheer up bc patients. See if you know a patient who needs cheering up.

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