Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

For a celebration at her nephew Frank's house, Mom is preparing cornbread dressing, and giblet gravy. Dad is preparing banana pudding.

Mom and Dad considered a visit to Kansas City for Thanksgiving - to the home of Kris' parents: Don and Mary, and a visit with Austin and Kacy. They finally decided it was just a bit too much distance, and a bit too much excitement, at this time.

I think of Mom as recovered. However, she is a recovered person who is still gaining strength, and still likes some quiet and orderliness in her environment. Certain levels of excitement remain a bit overwhelming, and are not optimal environments for her. She has lived in calm environments for several months. Mom won't be visiting Chuck E. Cheese anytime soon. Dad either, come to think of it.*

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!

*Not that Don and Mary's house resembles Chuck E. Cheese in any way - unless, you know, they were serving suboptimal pizza - and Don and Mary wouldn't do that!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Aunt Patsy's funeral - pre-planned by her to the nth degree - went off beautifully. The only hitch occurred when the Ruston cemetery's funeral home closed for lunch between 12:00-1:00 PM, even though the graveside service was scheduled for 1:00 PM. This meant that mourners, who had just driven an hour from Bossier City, had no bathroom facilities. The cemetery funeral home made the mistake of leaving an emergency phone number on their front door. Aunt Jane seized my cellphone, called, spoke direct animal talk to the Ruston people, and got the situation resolved.

A nice thing about revisiting Ruston is the smell of pine trees. The cemetery was covered in pine needles. The smell of those particular pine needles, aged in that particular humidity, cured in that particular sandy dirt, is immutably buried in the recesses of one's memory. Moreso, even, than seeing Ruston: smelling Ruston is a calming, soothing experience.

We drove by the city swimming pool. It endures as it ever did - an American classic. We drove by the old Post Motor Co. Mom says the basic structure of the building is still intact, though the building has been much expanded and changed. Hood's BBQ is long gone. The family farm is unrecognizable. The house had become a vet's office; then a BBQ shack. The last time there, I thought I saw stakes set up on the farmland, as markers for residential streets. This time, we saw no signs of that. There are businesses on Farmerville Rd, but we saw nothing much built deeper into the old farm. The property itself is unrecognizable(to me, at least). Landmarks are gone. Topography is changed. We could not orient ourselves very much at all.

Mom handled the traveling pretty well. She took 250 mile trips on consecutive days, and ended up in Denham Springs, to visit Bruce and Lisa and family, and Jefferson Baptist Church.

Bruce and Lisa are excellent. Courtney is doing fine at Southeastern Louisiana: majoring in Elementary Education, and in a boy named Jon. Baron's football season ended just short of making the playoffs. This meant he was able to take me golfing, where I could watch his 300 yard drives sailing either into the fairway, or 100 yards into the trees. Baron doesn't overly worry about where they go, so long as they go far.

Mom spoiled Hoss and Chaffie, feeding them people-food from the kitchen. These are very smart dogs. Mom noticed they were careful to make way for her, and to kind of run interference for her as she moved around, so she would not be tripped up and fall. Herding dogs are surely experts about body language. Chaffie is very motherly; very protective.

Jefferson Baptist Church - heavily pro-life, and pro-family - enjoyed a sermon about respectfully submitting oneself to the authority of one's elected officials. Done right(and it's mostly done right - contrary to Hollywood's hysterical interpretations), organized religion is a blessing for mankind. Over the last six months, Jefferson Baptist parishioners have sent many prayers out for Mom. We are grateful.

In addition to the dogs, Mom spoiled us, by cooking up a storm. Lisa hit upon the idea of having an early Thanksgiving celebration, so we did. Baron introduced us to the wonders of Cajun-spice injected turkey. Cooking is good therapy for Mom, ahem.

Mom usually walks through houses without using a cane. Her balance is improving, albeit slowly. When walking, Mom doesn't yet pick her feet up as well as she will. This is, I think, residue of the ongoing recovery from hip surgery. Mom has to walk carefully over uneven ground: a brick floor, uneven grass/dirt, uneven pavement, a ridge in a smooth floor, a rise of renegade tile.

Mom once had a problem with peripheral vision. This caused her to be in danger of catching her foot on chair legs, or table legs, or people feet. This problem has greatly dissipated.

Neurologically, Mom continues to be outstanding. She still tires more quickly than she one day will.

Mom has turned me into some type of Jewish (Italian?) mother: "Eat! Eat! Why aren't you eating?!" Tiny portions are perfectly wonderful by me. However, they should occur several times a day. Mom has no respect for the concept of eating throughout the day. Left on her own, she might consistently eat one small meal a day, sans vegetables. Her chosen meal might be one taco, and three tortilla chips. She would supplement this through the day with Coca-Cola, and coffee. Sigh. Maybe I'll look up the nutritional value of Coca-Cola. I know it has carbs.

P.S. This is the one year anniversary of the tragic death of my cousin: Donnie Van Meter. I wrote about his graveside service here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Patsy Caggiola, RIP

Mom's eldest sister, Patsy, died in her sleep sometime around 5:00 am this morning. She leaves her devoted husband, Larry; and grieving children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and family and friends.

Aunt Patsy was a businesswoman before being a businesswoman was cool. She built Goins Beauty Schools up from the ground - by dint of iron will, and of business savvy. In those days, a woman in business had to be tough. She served as President, or as officer, of various State Beauty School agencies, and National Beauty School organizations.

Aunt Patsy believed in positive thinking. She was not one to criticize. Rather, she deliberately looked for positive aspects in every situation, and in every person.

Aunt Patsy believed in personal responsibility. She had this saying taped on every mirror in her home:
"This person is responsible for my happiness."

Aunt Patsy liked "The Greatest Salesman in the World", by Og Mandino. She loved "The Prophet," by Kahlil Gibran - sometimes she gave copies of it as gifts. She loved the "Left Behind" series of novels.

Aunt Patsy kept up a huge, and beautifully landscaped, backyard. Just two springs ago, local high school Seniors had their prom photos taken in her backyard. During the photo shoot, the street outside Patsy's house was lined with all manner of autos, trucks, and limos.

Aunt Patsy famously, and elaborately, decorated her home for Christmas each year. She had four complete sets of Christmas decorations - each with a different theme. She rotated decoration themes from year to year to year to year.

Aunt Patsy was able to visit Northern Europe this summer. She was recently able to attend the National Beauty School Convention, in Miami, to visit with some of her long-time friends. She was busily preparing for a visit from Mom, and from their other sister - Jane, during the days before her death.

We miss you, Aunt Patsy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Mini Dramas: All Benign - So Far

As the Aneurysms Turn

  1. An aneurysm can be like a balloon which is attached to a blood vessel. Or it can be like a blister. An aneurysm doesn't cause a problem unless it bleeds.
  2. 22 mm = approx 1 inch
  3. 6 mm is a line of demarcation. Over 6 mm in size, an aneurysm should be treated. When under 6 mm in size, there is more danger from treatment than from the existing aneurysm.

Mom had an arteriogram on Wed. Her Interventional Neuro Radiologist(whew) is Dr. Ike Thacker, of Baylor Hospital, near downtown Dallas. Both her previously coiled aneurysms are holding up well. She has a 2.5 mm aneurysm at the base of one of her coiled aneurysms. This aneurysm needs to be watched. Mom will have another angiogram, or possibly an MRI, in 6 months. I'll update later with the official location of this aneurysm. It is behind her right eye, forward of her right ear, and nudged up against a major blood vessel.

Mom has three small aneurysms attached to an artery in the front of her brain. Two of these are less than 1 mm in size. The third aneurysm is less than 2mm in size. These three aneurysms seem not to overly worry Dr. Thacker. If they grow, he seems pretty confident they can be handled.

The good news is Mom's brain will be watched closely from here on. An aneurysm, which might otherwise have been allowed to grow to dangerous size, will instead be identified and treated.

The other good news, slightly off topic, is that Dr. Thacker said Mom's arteries are amazingly free of plaque. She has potential to be neurologically sharp well into her advanced years.

Return of: The Hair!

Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do, dum-de-de-dum! That's right fans: the hair is back. My digi-camera is broken, sadly. I'll try to put up a picture next week. Mom's hair is a big issue to at least 10% of Nancy Update readership - or maybe even 25% of readership - it's hard to calculate.

Almost Fatal Barbies

After an angiogram day Wed at Baylor Hosp; and after a Thursday which included only half a bagel for food; and after a vigourous 45 minutes of shopping for Barbies for 5 year old granddaughter; Mom chose the checkout line at Big Lots to frame her first ever faint.

Phone contact with after hours, on call doctor = "take her to get checked at the emergency room." I tried to talk him out of this recommendation, but he would not be persuaded.

Thereafter, had to karate chop and WWF drag a mad-as-heck Mom to the ER(aside: I was dis-inherited along the way). Between 6pm and 10pm, Mom was poked, stuck, and submitted to a variety of testing. She was then sent home with a diagnosis of "fainted due to exhaustion." The Barbies truly were almost fatal - to me - because she was so hacked off.

Debutante Party #2

Today, with hair returned to normal, Mom visited Wedgwood Nursing Home. After her visit, she was full of details about everyone she saw. The people at Wedgwood are her family. It's a love thing.