THE WRITE PLACE…

…to build a community. Share Patti Hall's journey …


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A Writer/Caregiver Packs For A New Journey

Tokeland, WA PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tokeland, WA
PHALL PHOTOS 2013

Tomorrow (Friday) I set off on a new journey. It may take a week, a month or maybe longer. The timeline is open and so am I. I’ve detailed my truck, except I need to vacuum it. I’ve re-potted and watered my houseplants. I stirred the compost pile and planted the lilac and rose by the fence, and a handful of mini-crocus near the pond’s edge.

I’m fairly certain that I can come home once a week. Mrs. M.’s grand daughter lives near and should be able to manage a day and night with her. It’s over 300 miles, round trip, so I hope I can break that into 2 days. I’ve got the edited hard copy of my Postcards manuscript packed and I’ll also be working on the middle book of the memoir series. I’ll take my laptop, but I will hold off on taking my printer until I have a better idea of how long I’ll be needed.

The biggest thing I will miss is my little cave/home (Maggie) and the beach. It will just be the two of us and I’ll have my own room, so I can still be a part-time cave woman:>)  I look forward to getting to know Mrs. M. better and seeing what mischief we can come up with in Portland. I’m certain to get a better schedule going and get outside more often.

Journaling is a strong habit for me, so I do plan to journal about my time with Mrs. M. I know I’ll take a lot of photos of my new surroundings. I am sure that I will be online and checking in with all of you at least a few times a week. As you can tell, until I get settled, everything is up in the air. That would frustrate many people, but I really look forward to the mystery of it. I am very adaptable and change doesn’t bother me.

The big difference with helping out this time is that I don’t know Mrs. M. I have met her maybe 3 times over the years. She has passed the main part of physical therapy and does not need a lot of assistance there. Also, there is no stress or heart break related to her care. She may be almost 91, but she is mentally sharp and physically on the mend.

These links will take you back to the posts where I talked about this new adventure and my other caregiver experiences. Here and here.

Did you notice that I changed to a static “home” page? Check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. I am still working on the site…

Take care,

Patti


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Happy Halloween!

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The photo is of the first Halloween that Paul and I celebrated together, with our little grands surrounding us. This is Cora, who is now seven and still remembers her “Papa.” These are some happy memories that still make me smile.

Everyone who knows me, knows that holidays are not my thing and never have been. My children are lucky that I had two holiday-happy best friends while they were growing up. I can still feel the energy that they brought to each holiday and/or celebration.

I’m also not religious, but the Waldorf school that we were involved with for several years, brought holidays closer to us with myth, nature and reverence, all in a gossamer water-colored package.

Then there was Paul. He loved my playfulness and I loved poking and prodding the curmudgeon that he often projected. I knew better. A curmudgeon doesn’t enjoy making others happy by coming up with special surprises that fit each person like a glove. And they don’t laugh until tears are running down their face. Oh, and they don’t have half a room dedicated to holiday decorations.

Sure, the room was from a time when he and his late wife raised their children. But Paul kept it up by hanging the lights and putting out the holiday decorations. On our own, neither of us were really into all that, but together? Man, did we have holiday fun! We were young again and silly, and it almost seemed like we challenged each other to be our funnest holiday selves.

We even bought silly costumes and presents for our dog Jake and the felines, Oliver and Abby. The year before he got sick, we went to all the after Christmas sales, and bought everything blue and white that we could find. We filled totes in the holiday room with tons of blue Christmas bounty. We had so much fun making plans for an awesome blue Christmas the following year.

No, our theme Christmas didn’t happen, but those memories still make me smile. We relived our crazy shopping spree and plans while we were in the hospital fighting leukemia, and they made Paul smile too. And we never gave up hope for our future blue Christmas. We also laughed to tears while we planned crazy Halloween costumes for the future.

For the first time in 4 years, I think the happy memories and tears are over shadowing the sadness and tears. That’s a good thing, right?

How do you feel about Halloween and the holidays?

Peace,

Patti


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Under Construction

PHALL PHOTOS 2013

PHALL PHOTOS 2013

For the next several days I will be reconstructing this blog. If you pop in and things are mucked up, please return later and, hopefully, it will be repaired. I’ve only been blogging for 7 months, but some of the topics that are my focus are getting clogged up behind some of my “this and thats” of frequent blogging. Everything will still be here, but I hope to make it easier to find.


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti


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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

Holding You Up A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii PHALL PHOTO 2012

Holding You Up
A bronze statue on hotel grounds in Kauai, Hawaii
PHALL PHOTO 2012

by Patti Hall

They Say That Practice Makes Perfect

Technically, I wasn’t looking for practice or perfection when I answered my sister’s phone call from Alaska a few days ago. Just last week I was deep into my grieving cave-woman mode. Tuesday, I traveled about 350 miles (round trip) to a convalescent facility in Oregon. I met with the care team of my sister’s mother-in-law, Mrs. M.  Yesterday I started cleaning, packing and planning for an extended stay at the home of Mrs. M. in Portland, as her caregiver.

Caregiver: Is This A Calling And/Or A Bridge?

My caregiver internship began within the parameters of my first parenting role when I was 28 years old. That’s what parents do, they give care. Care-giving starts when you wake up in the morning, extends throughout the day, and continues into the night. It is wiping snotty noses, changing diapers, feeding, clothing and loving those in your care. Care-giving is sleepily welcoming a tearful dreamer under your covers, and into your arms, in the middle of the night.

To further my caregiver qualifications, I answered the phone and agreed to join a caregiver group in California. A troupe of his sisters and nieces, gathered at the home of my maternal uncle, when he was in the last stages of his battle against cancer. We came from 3 states; sometimes one at a time, sometimes overlapping, but one of us was always at his side. Despite my uncle’s sad prognosis, he basked in the songs of this Florence Nightingale choir. The songs were expressed in our laughter and love. We nurtured, laughed, cried, reminisced and took care of his physical needs. It was the first time that I truly considered how fragile life is.

A few years later, an interim caregiver position came available via an out-of-state call from my children’s father, aka my former husband. His mother was in her 80’s, living alone and had recently been widowed. She was not doing well emotionally, although, she was physically fine. I packed my bag, drove 100 miles north and left my own family to fend for themselves (again). K and I had known each other for many years and we had remained friends.

K was in deep grief and needed help with the mounds of paperwork and legal procedures that come after a death. While her son handled his job and household transfers from Utah to Washington, I helped K negotiate the details at hand. The signs of dementia came on fast and I consulted her son over the phone. I took K to her doctor and explained our concerns. She was poked and prodded and tested.

I received a promotion. Along with K’s paperwork, legal matters and emotional distress (grief), I had to keep her physically safe. From herself. Household hazards suddenly loomed everywhere. She was a fragile child one moment and an angry woman in the next moment. By the time her son came, K and I were exhausted and traumatized by trying to navigate the chaos brought on by the changes taking place within her brain. I returned home and wished that I could have done more.

Stay tuned, Part 2 will be posted soon…more caregiver experiences and I ponder whether this role is a calling or bridge to the next step in my life.

Have you answered the call? We’d love to hear your story in the comment section.

Helpful Links:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources about dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti

Alley Tales In Art-Graffiti and Blog Updates

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Aberdeen, WA Alley PHALL PHOTO 2013

Aberdeen, WA Alley
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Aberdeen, WA Alley PHALL PHOTO 2013

Aberdeen, WA Alley
PHALL PHOTO 2013

More on my photo blog here. Including a link to an article about the graffiti.

Crazy changes around here. I moved blogger awards up to their own page above header photo. There is a post there that tells more, but I have stopped accepting the blog awards, so I can get down to business:>) I had a lot of fun with them and am so grateful for those who thought so kindly of me to give me one. It seems the longer we are blogging, the more of us are choosing to let the newest members participate in the blogger awards.

I ran into some glitches, such as the right hand column text being so small you can barely read it! Working on it…

You can now go to my photo blog by clicking on the link on the right (at least on a full screen computer).