Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two New Year Items

Tutoring at my house

Esteban was one neighbor who helped me with my husband and I have been tutoring him. At the end of my husband's life, my husband thought Esteban his son. My husband in his mind was living in an earlier time period. I kept reminding him that I was his loving wife and he did recognize people he saw regularly such as Kenny, Sally, Jake and myself.

Esteban is fifteen and in eighth grade which tells you that he has not passed some school years.  I just have that access in his middle school because I am known as Mrs. Johnson the substitute as well as MC AC The Rap Lady who raps at the end of good classes.  I decided I would do something about this young man after my husband died--help him in school.

Now this young man had been living with his uncle (not Kenny) near me, but had been kicked out of that house and was back with his single mother and four sisters.  I learned where he lived when I saw him at school--a mobile home about two miles from me. In the fall I started to take him out for supper at Plant City's Snellgroves or at Denny's for our public tutoring sessions. No more coming to my neighboring home, as he is not a neighbor now.

I found out that his older sister had dropped out of high school because of the bullies and encouraged her to get back in school. She and her mother promised me she would return for her second semester in February.

Those bullies won, Sweetheart,  I said.
You get back in school! 

It occurred to me that Esteban just wanted to follow the same path as that sister when he turned 16--be a school dropout.

So, I devised a plan.  Before I flew out of town for what we used to call "Christmas break", I went to all of his academic teachers.Those academic teachers all have my email and even cell phone.

We used to have two cell phones--one for my husband and one for me. I would pay for a cell phone for Esteban if he could pass this first semester with only Cs and Ds in Science, Math, History, Language Arts and Reading. He would have to work very hard over vacation and in January to pass. Then in the semester starting in February if a teacher took his cell away because he used it in class, I would not pay for that cell phone service any more. Strict behavioral modification! Find out what works for a young person. 

Monday, December 15 I substituted at his school and he was told in no uncertain terms that I was to tutor him Tuesday night. Tuesday December 16th we were scheduled for tutoring at night--only Esteban missed the bus and didn't have his work. Wednesday December 17th I called his house and got no answer. I went to his house and found him walking home--he had missed the bus. I drove him to school and got a school visitor pass and went to all his teachers. I told them again of my plan to help him, despite the fact he is a bit lazy--really an understatement. I told them again that they can contact my cell and my email. I got the study sheets for his Math final, and was loaned both a Science and a Math book. The teachers have promised to contact me.

Stay tuned and please pray
for Esteban and 
for my possible move.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Widow's Christmas

Christmas used to be very Swedish for me--Swedish food and decorations as started by my 100 % Swedish mother. Dad was 1/2 Swedish and 1/2 Norwegian so we could expect things like Potatiskorv (potato sausage) that Mom would get from a delicatessen in California. Pepparkakor cookies were always a delight at Christmas. There were other things that my brothers and I sort of were forced to eat, but didn't like.

However, the Swedish decorations I grew up with were important. If I were decorating for Christmas as I did last year while my husband was alive, there would be plenty of Swedish. And after all, there are plenty of evidences of Sweden in my family room and in my kitchen throughout the year.  Some of the Swedish items are mainly displayed in the pictured corner cabinet. I do not have a husband now to decorate for and I am out of town. (There are a few wreaths on the front windows, however.)

The year after my mother passed away, my father was in the hospital at Christmas. I went to the hospital cafeteria and got my lunch and brought it to my Dad's room and we both cried because Mom was gone. That ideal Swedish Christmas was forever gone when my mother passed away. Usually every year I try to have a Swedish Christmas, more or less.

My first husband was in a Miami hospital one Christmas following surgery. On December 26 I called his hospital room and he was out of breath; I called the hospital and rushed there. I was not allowed in his room while a team was trying to revive him. But he died of a heart attack--the day after Christmas. They say your "firsts", your first holiday, after your loved one dies will be hard. I know this, so this year I am at my brother's home because . . .

Fortunately I have wonderful, welcoming family in Huntsville, Alabama and have spent maybe a dozen Christmases with my brother's family over the years. My niece and nephew have their own families now and I love seeing their children that live nearby.

I have asked my family what they want if I pass away.

"We want the Swedish decorations," they say. 

I am happy to pass these on. I realize that I have had more Swedish Christmas traditions than the average home in the actual country of Sweden. 

Jessica Lidh writes:HERE
For decades, my family has celebrated Christmas the same way, every year. I grew up listening to my grandmother tell me, “This is how the Swedes do it, how your relatives did it. So this is how we do it.” It didn’t really matter to me that my grandmother is actually a second-generation Swedish-American and not truly Swedish. (In fact, my closest relative to celebrate a legitimate Swedish Christmas would be my great-great-grandparents, who came to America in the late 1800s.) What mattered was the fact that we were replicating the traditions and customs of my ancestors, my roots, my people. 
This is how my family celebrates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we have dinner, complete with Swedish meatballs, lingonberry preserves, ham and Swedish prayer followed by an evening service at my grandparents’ Lutheran church. On Christmas morning we open presents from Santa, and eat a Swedish brunch of potatiskorv (potato sausage) and äggröra (egg gravy). 
We saw the new movie "Annie" here in Huntsville and I cried at the end. I do not know why I cried:  is because I am a widow that I cried, or if it is because I was happy that Annie found a new home? Tears of a widow are complicated. I think of the Christmas song, I'll Be Home for Christmas, and I guess home for me might be  Huntsville, Alabama--not Plant City, Florida. I expect I will move to Huntsville sooner or later.

I prepared for this Christmas. I sent out greetings early. I mailed gifts early and even mailed some of my clothes there so I didn't have to pay for extra luggage on the flight. But it's not just one day, Christmas, but every day I am glad that I have a Christian faith. 


Hugs and Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looking for Those Cures

Erase Alzheimer's in three short weeks! Then it wants you to stay on the page! It's a money scam you can bet. I didn't stay on that page because I smelled a rat.

Elaine Pereira is much more realistic. Alzheimer's can be in the brain ten years before it starts to appear she writes HERE.  
Alzheimer’s is a real, fatal, progressive disease with no treatments. It is not just a quirky personality change. 
Because of how the disease affects the individual’s brain, their personality is affected usually causing adverse changes. Hostility, paranoia, suspicion are frequent first indications in otherwise kind individuals.

Elaine has a book about her mother's illness as pictured and it can be ordered at Amazon. We caregivers are all writing and blogging about this disease.

I used to write here about coconut oil which I gave my husband consistently. Coconut oil did not cure my husband. I tried! However the Johnny Byrd Alzheimer's Center was doing a study. They sort of dismissed us when I told them we were using it. It certainly didn't hurt my husband and it does have medical benefits. I think that coconut oil calmed him down. Dr. Mary Newport who wrote the best seller even acknowledges that it isn't curing her husband Steve. She now works for hospice.

Marijuana will not be the cure I bet. Marijuana is being studied by the Johnny Byrd Alzheimer's center.

Those medicines we give our loved ones (Nameda, Exelon, Aricept) may prolong the illness, but not stop it. My husband took Nameda and Exelon almost until the end. When Hospice came to our home, we stopped them because they helped me see he was in his last stage where it wouldn't help. See this study.

In my husband's case, his Mixed Dementia caught up with us. Stable for so long the Vascular Dementia 
took over and he quickly went downhill. Had he just had Alzheimer's he might have lived longer. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"A Christmas Memory"

One day recently while substitute teaching I read a thoughtful piece by Truman Capote. I almost cried, but I was with students and didn't think it was wise.  “A Christmas Memory” is about his friend who calls him Buddy, an elderly cousin and what they did to get ready for Christmas. They made and gave away fruit cake and went to the woods to cut down a tree and decorated it with homemade ornaments. They made each other kites for Christmas. 

The reflection ends:
This is our last Christmas together. Life separates us. Those who Know Best decide that I belong in a military school. And so follows a miserable succession of bugle-blowing prisons, grim reveille-ridden summer camps. I have a new home too. But it doesn’t count. 
Home is where my friend is, and there I never go. And there she remains, puttering around the kitchen. Alone with Queenie.  Then alone.  (“Buddy dear,” she writes in her wild hard-to-read script, “yesterday Jim Macy’s horse kicked Queenie bad. Be thankful she didn’t feel much. I wrapped her in a Fine Linen sheet and rode her in the buggy down to Simpson’s pasture where she can be with all her Bones. . . . “). 
For a few Novembers she continues to bake her fruitcakes single-handed; not as many, but some: and, of course, she always sends me “the best of the batch.” Also, in every letter she encloses a dime wadded in toilet paper: “See a picture show and write me the story.” But gradually in her letters she tends to confuse me with her other friend, the Buddy who died in the 1880’s; more and more, thirteens are not the only days she stays in bed: a morning arrives in November, a leafless birdless coming of winter morning, when she cannot rouse herself to exclaim: “Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!” And when that happens, I know it. 
A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.

Thinking about Christmas 2013 
with my late husband. 
The kites are flying. 
So glad for my faith
in Jesus Christ and that 
my husband is with Him.