Monday, December 19, 2011

Home only 9 days

Mom came home from the nursing home on December 9th, 2011 which I felt was too early. Personally, as hard as this is for me to say, I think it's time for her to be permanently admitted to the Episcopal Church Home memory care wing. Her physical health has deteriorated drastically and with each physical decline her mental capacity plummets as well.
Last night Mom was admitted to the hospital, yet again, for what sounds to me like congestive heart failure.....again (I think this is the 5th or 6th admission in the past 6 months). I was told that she felt like she was suffocating. The constant admissions to the hospital are giving way for her dementia to completely absorb who she is. It is my opinion that Mom needs consistancy and being at home does not allow for that any longer.
I'm sad about this but I am okay with it also. This is a fact in our lives.....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Special Memory from Mom's sister, Margaret Bromley, written December 2011

"The Baptism

The following story is a memory of Marilyn Bromley Forrester’s childhood as related by her younger sister, Margaret Bromley. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky in the Crescent Hill neighborhood. Their younger sister, Beverly, had not yet been born.

“Margaret, Hurry up! You must get dressed for church.” It was my mother’s voice coming from her bedroom that brought me to the reality of the day. The sun was shining and already the neighborhood was alive.

Aunt Georgie, the black woman who lived behind the house across the street was sweeping the walk and finishing her household chores before she dressed to go to her church. It was in the ‘40s and at that time in history, the black churches in the south generally began their services after noon on Sundays as the members had to help with their employers through Sunday noon dinner. When they were finished with their chores, they had the rest of the afternoon and evening free to do as they wished.

I had always wanted to go with Georgie to church because she was so happy afterwards. I had heard that they clapped and shouted “Amen” when the choir sang and the minister preached.

But I was a ‘white’ Methodist, and our church had great pride in its professional choir that sang classical religious music and a minister that always had a doctorate degree. Of course, that did not mean anything to me. I was a Methodist because everyone before me, all my ancestors for over two hundred years had been Methodists!

On this particular Sunday, my sister Marilyn and I were to join the church and be baptized as well! I was going to be one of the youngest members ever ‘taken in’ for I had made my commitment to God at age eight. Although Methodists usually baptize in infancy, my parents believed in waiting until the child could make their own decision to be baptized. Since Marilyn, who was two and one half years older, had decided to join the church and she was everything I wanted to be, I decided to join too.

The communicant classes were led by Dr. Grant, the church’s minister. He was a white haired man who looked to me to be at least eighty years old. (He actually was not ever fifty!) The lessons were all very seriously taken in that we had to memorize Bible verses, the disciples’ names, and just generally have a good knowledge of the stories in the Old and New Testaments. His last words of the last class were that we were making this commitment before God and the congregation and not to talk, giggle, or laugh when we came to the alter of the sanctuary.

All went well that Sunday that Marilyn and I were to join the church. Mother’s call had jolted me back into reality and we climbed into the car in our new Sunday best dresses and black ‘Mary Jane’ patent shoes. And we even had extra minutes to spare for the ride to church. After Sunday School, Marilyn and I gathered in the minister’s office and the entire communicants’ class filed into the sanctuary.

At the appropriate time, Dr. Grant called the class forward to the altar and began the ritual of admitting us into the “Kingdom of God”. Upon the call to baptism, Marilyn, who was next to me, and I both knelt down. Marilyn was to be baptized first. Dr. Grant put his hand into the baptismal font and cupped his hand full of water.

As he began the “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”, I looked over at Marilyn and water was running over her hair, down her face, over her nose, and onto her shoulders!

I began to giggle. I couldn’t stop! No matter that Dr. Grant’s last words before entering the worship service were ‘not to laugh’! Marilyn caught my mirth and to this day, I guess you can say that we both entered the Kingdom of God with more than a smile on our faces. I think that God probably liked that, but old Dr. Grant didn’t! "

Monday, December 5, 2011

From Mom's Birthday Book of Memories from Susan Brothers, May 1997

"Dear Marilyn,

When thinking about what to say in this birthday celebration message, it was so hard to know where to begin. It's impossible to articulate the impact, the influence, the support, the kindness and the caring you gave to me at a critical time in my life. You provided me with a glimpse of a real family and then welcomed me inside. I saw that even in the most difficult times, that families can stay together and keep loving each other. As this was something I had not experienced in my own family, seeing and knowing this helped shape my values and goals for the future. Although I was on a lengthy search, and never knew exactly where I was going, I managed to find my way.

You and Hal also influenced my life long choice of finding a life partner. I was pretty selective - - I had to be to find someone who could take a life with me! But I know that even in the most difficult times, we'll follow you and Hal in supporting and loving each other while we work our way through.

Today, even though it's not often enough, I watch Emily and Lyndsey playing together with pure amazement. Just think about Camille and I running around, keeping your life more interesting than you needed, leaves me with feelings of serious trepidation!

They are so smart and daring! I can only hope that she'll find as special a friend as I found in Camille. I also hope that she gets to experience being an extended part of a family as wonderful as yours.

Thank you so much for all you brought to my life. Knowing what a terrible communicator I am, this opportunity to wish you happy birthday is special to me. Being welcomed into your life, enriched and helped guide mine. I am very grateful to you.

With much Love, Susan B.

John Voskuhl & Emily "

From Mom's Birthday Book of Memories from Nita Bernat, May 1997


It was through running and biking partner for years...that I was introduced to Marilyn. On many a long runs when the time and miles turn into listening and therapy I heard about life and times from earlier years.
I heard about a young Marilyn, A beautiful woman with white hair at a very young age.
I heard about children and family, illness and recovery.
There have been sad times and close calls. Now it's about health and life. It's about devotion and dedication.
It is a celebration for Marilyn and about Marilyn.
Congradulations on your 60th Birthday.
You have been a real inspiration.
Nita Bernat 5/4/97"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

From Mom's 60th Birthday Book of Memories from Karen & Bob Birkemeier, May 1997

"Dear Marilyn

Though we have only known you for a short time, we value your friendship. You've endured the loudness & craziness of coming to hear the "Grind Daddy's" & we've had some really good times on those outings!
I know you've been through a lot in your 60 years & through it all, you've had the support of a Great family & lots of friends. You look wonderful, so keep up the good work, cause we want to have you around for another 60 years!
Hopefully, before too long there will be another bunch of "Grind Daddy's" to go listen to. So you will have to dig out & dust off the old ear plugs & be ready to party.
In closing, I'd like to say, you are a truly beautiful person inside & out, with a great sense of humor. Take care of yourself.
We Love You,
Karen & Bob Birkemeier"

From Mom's 60th Birthday Book of Memories from Nancy Seymour (Billington), May 1997

"To Marilyn on the Occasion of Her 60th Birthday

How can I ever thank a friend
For all she's done and said and been
For always calling at just the right time
For sharing Garibaldi salads sublime
For listening with care to all my woes
For giving me courage to meet my foes
And better yet for the laughter and fun
Through all these years under the sun
Imagine, we met only by chance
And here we are some 37 years hence
How did we ever get this old
Ah! friendship is truly better than gold!
No words or rhyme could ever express
The joy or privilege or thankfulness
In honoring Marilyn, our shining STAR
On this her very best birthday, so far!

Much love to you, dear friend,

Mom made it to age 60 on April 30, 1997!

My mothers parents both passed too early from heart disease. My grandfather, Paul Bromley, was 64 when he died of a heart attack in the few months after the 1974 tornado. My grandmother, Mary Emma Bromley, was 66 when she died. Good reason for my own mother, with heart disease, to be nervous entering into the decade of her 60's.
But it was also a BIG reason to celebrate, given the fact that she wasn't supposed to live to the age of 42. Dad planned a huge birthday party for Mom's special day. In the invitation we asked all invited guests to please write their most favorite memories of Mom or anything they could think of, even if they couldn't attend the party and either bring their paper with them or mail it to us.
We were putting togther a booklet of memories for Mom to read.
Below is what the invitation read...

"They said she wouldn't make it, but we all knew she would,
she scared us lots of time, but she always has pulled through.
Well now she's turning 60, can you believe it's actually true!
So we're going to have a party and we hope you'll be there too!

Please join us to celebrate Marilyn's 60th Birthday
Sunday, May 4th, 1997
2-4 PM
2200 Carolina Ave.

To help us celebrate this great occation, we are gathering meanderings, memories and good wishes from all of Marilyn's friends and family and binding them together in a book.

Please use the enclosed sheet of paper to write to Marilyn. We have included more than one sheet for more than one though or incase of a mistake. Please don't feel like you have to fill them all up.

You may want to recall a fond memory, or let her know how much you appreciate her or just wish her a Happy Birthday. For those of you with "writers block" may want to place some photo's on the enclosed sheet.

Whatever you choose to do, please return your response in the enclosed envelope before April 30th.

Thanks in advance for your help. We hope this will be a warm and wonderful surprise for Marilyn, so even if you can't be there in body, your spirit and your thoughts will help her to celebrate this wonderful day. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call me,
Camille Forrester Estes at XXX-XXX-XXXX"

These notes will help give more insight to what a really neat person my mother was and still is.

The Latest

Mom has been incredibly weak for the past several weeks and has been spending most all of her time in bed sleeping. Too weak to even eat much she has lost several pounds and looks very thin and fragile.

In the months past Mom has been hospitalized repeatedly for congestive heart failure; seems to be about every 4 weeks or so. The adjustments in her medication during her last hospitalization actually caused her body to severely dehydrate which only added to her weakness. She began falling regularly and this last fall was a doozy!

As stated in my post from November 29, 2011, Mom took a bad fall. She was actually using her walker when the fall happened. Dad was not in the same room with her when she fell so he doesn't know what happened but her heard the commotion. When Mom didn't call out to him, like she had before, he knew she must be really hurt. He walked into the bedroom to find her laying flat on her back with her head resting on the corner edge of the doorjam, her chin pressed against her chest. Dad said she was "knocked out". He was afraid her neck might be broken because of the way her head was resting. At the time Dad didn't realize ther the back side of her head was split. Fearing the way Mom looked Dad called 911. When the EMT's arrived it was apparent that Mom was hurt terribly. The amount of blood lost, I was told, was probably close to a couple of cups full.

Mom was hospitalized for 3 days after her fall. The gash in the back of her head was about 3-inches in length which ended up requiring 6 stitches and 7 staples. When the doctors realized that she was dehydrated it was also discovered that her kidney's were malfunctioning. From here on out her medication will teeter-totter on a razors edge between keeping her properly hydrated which I think is not an easy task. Meanwhile her dementia has taken another downturn. Thankfully she has no memory of her fall.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Memory of Mom from Bill Flarsheim

This was an email I received from Bill Flarsheim. Bill is the eldest son of dear friends of my parents, Lois & Philip Flarsheim. Thank you for this, Bill.


I'm sorry your mom is not doing well. When I saw her last June, she was having a good day, and was not too different from the woman I knew when I was growing up. The most specific memory of your mom I have Is from our kitchen on Antrim. That's when I found out she was in the same class at Atherton as Hunter S. Thompson. I had just finished reading a book of his essays. Your mom said he was something of a jerk in high school. He would do something like insult the football team, and then they would up end him into a trash can in the cafeteria. I remember other times when she and my mom would talk about people they knew at Atherton and other places growing up. I also remember her talking about her first round of open heart surgery. I know it had been a rough several months, but she was very matter of fact and upbeat about the whole thing.

I know your family is going through a very hard time. Good luck and God bless.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Setback

Mom fell tonight (Tuesday) and gashed her head, had to get stitches and staples. She is now in the hospital and is not doing well. My sister informed me that her kidneys are failing. She will be in the hospital for several days.


Haven't had much to write and hadn't really felt up to writing recently. However, now Mom seems to have taken a turn and definitely not for the better. Just in the past few months Mom has been in and out of the hospital numerous times with congestive heart failure. Because of the heart failure her lungs filled with fluid, she retained fluid throughout her body which distended her abdomen, and her heart was unable to oxygenate her blood the way is should. She said she felt as if she were drowning. Her confusion from dementia became worse.
Mom is home now but is looking rather frail. Dad called on Monday (yesterday) and said that Mom had fallen twice on Sunday. She is so weak that she can hardly walk or stand.I went to see Mom yesterday. She was in bed, oxygen on, watching tv. She looked about as bad as I had ever seen her. Dad is very worried and talked about putting her in the hospital again. She just came out about a week ago. Camille and I don't think there is any more the hospital can do for her unless she is having trouble breathing, swallowing, or anything else more serious. We felt that her weakness wasn't a reason to go to the hospital. I'm really begining to feel that Mom's physical condition will only continue to deteriorate at a fairly rapid rate. She is down to about 140 lbs. and has no appetite. Her face is gaunt, her color is not good. I think she knows she is as bad off as she looks. This is where I am having a lot of conflicting emotions. I am scared thinking of Mom dying. But Mom really has no quality of life, most of her time in bed, sleeping. Sometimes I wish she would fall asleep, and painlessly drift away....still remembering who we all are. I want my Dad to live the rest of his life without worry but I don't want him to be without Mom. I desperately want Mom's suffering to end. I only wish there could be a happier outcome. Please, those of you who are reading this blog, who know Mom...I would love to hear from you...your favorite and happiest memories with Mom and/or both of my parents. I would love to post them here. My email is Thank you so much!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

This picture was taken before Mom's dementia diagnosis.

A Beautiful Autumn Day at Big Rock, Cherokee Park

THIS is how I like to and want to remember my parents.

Their fond gaze with one another is something that was present throughout my lifetime. I've never known 2 people who were as IN LOVE as my parents, and they still are to this day. Dad's devotion to Mom over all of her years of her many illnesses is something remarkable.

Dad still looks at Mom this way, even though sometimes she isn't sure who he is. I know that Mom still has very strong feelings of love and affection for Dad because in the days when she isn't sure who he is she is trying desperately to find him. Usually he is sitting in the chair right next to hers. It is heartbreaking to receive the phone calls from her when she sounds frightened of the strange man in her house with her; she is looking for Dad. Again, he is usually sitting in the chair next to hers, he is the "strange man" she speaks of and is frightened of. Somehow, through the fear, I think she knows deep down in her soul that she is safe with the "strange man" and she tells me that I don't have to come to her rescue.

I cannot begin to imagine how Mom must feel. I wonder if she is living in fear most of the time because she is not familiar with her surroundings or the people in them? She must feel so alone. But this picture can hopefully remind her that she IS loved and she ISN'T alone.

This is how I always want to remember my parents. My parents are the perfect example of true love and devotion, the way a marriage is supposed to be.....
"for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part".

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dad's birthday - October 9, 2011

Yesterday was Dad's 77th birthday. David, the kids, and I all went to visit with a delicious Key Lime pie in hand from the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen. Just after we arrived in walked Camille and my nephew Nick. It turned out to be a small, impromptu family birthday visit which was very pleasant. Mom and Dad were eating lunch which we all interupted but they didn't seem to mind. Both parents looked great and were very happy that we were all there. Here are just a few pictures that were taken. Camille and Nick had already gone, I wish I had remembered to get some shots while they were there but I didn't even think about taking pictures until just as we were getting ready to leave.
Dad was being mischievious turning away from the camera which made Mom laugh.
Dad finally got serious and I was able to get this great picture. Mom and Dad both look wonderful and happy which makes me happy.
Had to get one with me!
Then a picture with my kids Emma and Wade - 2 of their 4 grandchildren.

*********** The Sundowners came for a visit later in the night, around 10:00 PM. David and I had put the kids to bed about 30 minutes earlier and had just gotten relaxed on the couch watching Storm Chasers. The phone rang and it was Mom. Here is how it went (approximately):
Mom: "Hi Anne, it's Mom. I hope I'm not interupting your evening."
Me: "No Mom, you're not. What's going on?"
Mom: "I'm here talking to Hal and know I'm married but I don't know to who. I don't think I'm divorced but I'm not sure."
Me: "No, you're not divorced. You are married to Dad."
Mom: "And that is?"
Me: "Dad is Hal and Hal is there with you."
Mom: "oh"
Me: "Today is Dad's birthday. We were all there visiting with you both today and we had key lime pie"
Mom: "Oh you were? I don't remember that."
Me: "Yes Mom, we took some pictures. David and the kids were there and Camille and Nick."
Mom: "I don't remember any of that. I think I'm going to cry." (Mom started sobbing)
We talked a little bit longer after this but it's more than I want to type right now. I appologized to Mom for her not remembering, telling her that I was so sorry. At this point I feel incredibly guilty for even mentioning all of todays events to her because it made her cry. Part of her still knows she is forgetting. I told her that I had emailed the pictures to Dad and that she could look at them and see that we had a fun time. About 20 minutes later Dad called me to see how the phone call with Mom went. I told him I felt awful that I had made Mom cry. He reassured me letting me know I didn't do anything wrong. He also said that Mom cried for a while after she had hung up with me.
This disease is ..... I can't even think of a word to describe how horrible it is.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pictures of Mom

Above: Mom's senior high school picture - J.M. Atherton High School - I believe she was class of 1955.

Below: I believe this was taken when Mom was in nursing school at Vanderbilt University.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Marilyn and I" - memories from Carol Hopkins

"One of the really good memories is how we got to know one another. I was singing in the choir and Shelby used to give you and your sister nickels to put in the collection plate. He became known as Shelby nickelman.
We began our friendship when I was trying to give a Derby party and needed Julep cups. She loaned me some and helped me to understand the tradition.
Another time we all went to the new Louisville Zoo to see THE animal.
Marilyn talked me into my first microwave and gave me some great recipes. We talked most days and were the very best of friends for many years. I miss her a lot and wish I could see her more often.
Love to you all,

Mom with Camille and Me

Above: Camille, Mom and me (in Mom's lap). Dad in the background.

Below: Old Olan Mills picture, I believe from 1973

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My thoughts from reading Mom's journal

As I typed these journal entries of Mom's I remember this period for our family. I remember Mom being gone for so long; in the hospital for weeks and months at a time. I can remember being afraid of getting the phone call that Mom had died. During this period, 1979, I was 14 years old. I was a freshman at Atherton High School. I had friends that kept me busy and kept my mind from thinking about Mom being so sick. If only others had known what was always looming in the back of my mind during my teen years. For years we went through family and individual counseling. It was a tough time for our family. But here we are, 30+ years later and Mom is still here. Although, somehow, I almost think it would have been better for her had she not survived to have to endure dementia. I would never give up having her here to see Camille and me grow to adulthood and to know her grandchildren. But I wonder why she would ever have to have this terrible diagnosis after everything else she has overcome. She fought for so many years to see these events, to have these memories and now she is having them all taken away. Why, why, why???
As I typed these entries from 1979 I can’t help but feel so sad for my Dad who had to take on the full-time job of raising two teen girls, work a full-time job, and take care of a very ill wife. I cannot imagine the sadness, the fear, and the stress he must have felt.

From Mom's Journal - date unknown - 1979 (age 42)

This entry is the last one from this journal. For me it is the most profound. It is a letter that Mom had written for her friends. I believe she thought she was going to die very soon and this is her letter saying good-bye.


"To my wonderful friends

Thank you all who came to dinner. Those of you who could not come were greatly missed by me.

These last two years have been full of a wide range of new experiences for me - what an understatement! But into my life have come a whole new set of friends. Your kindness, gentleness and friendship have made some of the rough spots easier for me.

I can never thank you enough for what you have given to me."

From Mom's Journal - date unknown - 1979 (age 42)

"My dear Lucy -

I am again in a period of thought that is very difficult for me and I will try to tell you about - because I would like some answers from you.

I find myself confused about my condition and my prognosis. I think sometimes that I am not really sick - am just fine and that is someone's idea of a joke. Then on the other hand maybe I do have something wrong with me but rather than telling me all about it you are making believe it is okay and if I work at it I will be."


To me, it doesn't seem like Mom finished her note to Lucy.

Little Notes from 1979

Loose, in Mom's journal were little notes that Mom had written on small square pieces of note paper. I do not know the dates of each or even the chronological order of them but here they are.


"I think I am having a drug reaction - I have had 2 or 3 Dilaudid since mid afternoon and I took 2 more at about 11:30 so pain level would go down enough for sleep. I have been itching like crazy - so I took a Benedryl.
3. Still itching but it seems to not be as bad as before.
4. Heart is flopping around 12:40 am."


"I'm so happy & proud of what I have achieved tonight. I never thought I could ever reach such a level. Those at the Gym were so happy for me it really made me feel good. Those not at the Gym don't understand & the telling of it takes all its lustre. Lucy really seemed pleased - I liked that.
I wish my girls could understand. Hal is so good to me - I'm really very lucky.
I'm having weird pains in my back - right under my rt shoulder blade near the center - it hurts - It's coming thru to the front now - I think I take another Rx.
Call Lucy for more Talwin tomorrow."


feel bad so much of the time.
Terry Henkel says Talwin is insidiously addictive.
after dinner - crash
getting ready for bed
drawing feeling
(this word is not ledgible) pulrating hurt."

Monday, October 3, 2011

From Mom's Journal - October 14, 1979 - Sunday (age 42)

"For a while I was doing so well here at home. I even walked a mile one morning with Rosalie Eskind and had no problem with it. I had begun going back to Rehab & was doing well there too.

I went to the Rehab T-shirt party & had a good time - even drove myself. Linda tells me I have become an inspiration to a lot of other people. (I believe the "Linda" she is referring to here is Linda Hankla who was our family Hospice counselor. We all believed that Mom was not going to be with us for much longer.)

I do hope I have contributed something good to this world that will let me be remembered for a while.

I am now back to the situation of not being able to drive or do much of anything for myself. Hal has rented another wheelchair for me. When I had it before it was just for a short while until I got stronger but I am afraid that this down time is going to become permanent.

Dr. Trimbur tells me he feels that the grafts are probably closing again. Lucy is not encouraging either.(the grafts Mom is referring to are the veins that were used to bypass her clogged veins in her heart.)
Last Thursday she told me she thought I was trying to have an MI(**Myocardial Infarction). I have been staying very quiet. Hal stayed home from work Friday for he did not want me at home alone.

I have begun to have unstable angina again & SOB. Looking at my position objectively it does not look good for me at all. Hal & I had a long talk last Wed. night - he does think things are very bright. We agreed to do the best we can for as long as we can. We have had a very nice week-end.

Hal took me for a walk in my wheelchair today."


**Myocardial infarction (MI) or acute myocardial infarction (AMI), commonly known as a heart attack, is the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die. This is most commonly due to occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of lipids (fatty acids) and white blood cells (especially macrophages) in the wall of an artery. The resulting ischemia (restriction in blood supply) and oxygen shortage, if left untreated for a sufficient period of time, can cause damage or death (infarction) of heart muscle tissue (myocardium).
Source: Wikipedia

From Mom's Journal - date unknown (age 42)

This journal entry by Mom is just a list of questions that she had written down to ask her (then) doctor, Dr. Lucy Tyler. Lucy (as we called her) wrote her answers to each question in Mom's journal.


Mom: "1. Will not be doing anymore tests etc at this time?"
Lucy: "Right"

Mom: "2. Will try to control with medicine?"
Lucy: "CERTAINLY. Only when pulmonary emboli not controlled by ADEQUATE ANTICOAGULATION do we clip a vena cava."

Mom:"3. When will I have another stress test?"
Lucy: "SOON I'm talking to Trimbur today"

Mom: "4. How did your sister survive the Hurricane David"
Lucy: "Who knows. Thank you for asking."

Mom: "5. What about heart rate?"
Lucy: "Excercise more everyday. By Monday if it ain't under 100/minute, we'll put a little more DIGOXIN on you - you can handle more.
1. Come to office every Monday & Thursday for a while for Protimes.
2. Call me anytime
3. All is well
4. Up exercise."


Dr. Lucy Tyler became a close family friend. She truly loved my mother and cared for her above and beyond what any other doctor could. We are so grateful that she was a part of our family for several years and helped to save Mom's life. Then one day we never saw her again. We would love to find her again one day. My parents think she now lives in Florida but not sure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fun Pictures of Fun Days

Mom and Me in the back yard having some fun. Although Mom looks like she's having more fun than me...check out that terrified look on my face!!

Mom and I at Flameworks. This was before Mom's dementia diagnosis. We were with all of the women of our family one November to blow our own glass Christmas ornaments. It is always a fun time when all of us "Bromley" women get together.

Memories & friendship from my parents Highlands neighbor, Steve Head

"When I move in my house on Carolina, the first neighbor to come over and introduce himself was Hal. That was May 22, 1991. I liked him right away. I met Marilyn several days after that. They both always took time to say hi and talked with me as I working on my house. I spent many hours since then sitting with them outside their house, talking about any and everything. There's a lot I could say, but the bottom line is that they are both very good friends and I miss them A LOT since they have moved. As I learnt more about Marilyn and her present and past health issues, I became more and more impressed about her strength as a person. Her love of Hal and her children/grandchildren was always shared by the stories the she told and of the updates on what they were doing or did do. I learnt a lot from both Hal and Marilyn. Not just about general things but about love and devotion. I have only met two couples that I can say I thought were honestly deeply in love, respected and accepted each other, and were 100% devoted to each other. Hal and Marilyn are one of those couples. Their interaction with each other, the way they talk is amazing to witness. Even how they look at each other, I can't explain justly with words. They could finish each others sentences, They were so respectful and honest to each other and so very caring for each other. It was a you " see one" you" see two" relationship. They were always together. I think people that know them or get the chance to are truly blessed. I am very honored and proud to know Hal and Marilyn and to be able to call them not just "my old neighbors" but my life long very good friends. I love them both. Steve Head"


Thank you so much Steve. I actually got a lump in my throat reading this. I am so glad that you have such high regard for my parents. Reading your letter makes me feel proud to be their daughter. Thank you so much. I wish so badly that things could be the way they used to be, I'm so homesick for that. .. ..

From Mom's Journal - Sept. 2, 1979 Sunday (age 42)

"Today has not been a very happy day for me. I feel left out of life and a prisoner in this unit and in a body that will not let me be me. I fear today that as soon as one problem crops up and we begin to get it under control another rears its ugly head. I am just 42 years old and have things I want to do yet. Why do I have to go thru all of this?
Am I really on my way out soon? Or will I survive this experience and go on to do those things I want to do? Today & tonight I fear that it is all over for me - "


I am Mom's youngest child, age 45. I cannot imagine going through all of what my mother went through at her age at the time, or ever really. To have overcome all that she had from the age of 40 to her late 60's to then be told you have dementia is unbearable. All of the memories over the years that Mom struggled to make with Dad, Camille, and me; all that was so important to her is being taken away. However, my mother, only in her moments of clarity still manages to lull though with any grace and dignity that she has left (even a sense of humor). When Mom's dementia becomes apparent during her hours of sundowners I become full of anxiety and find myself wanting to leave. I wish I could help to pull Mom out of her sundowners and return her to "Marilyn". I do love you Mom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Camille winning State! One of my favorite memories!

Camille - the first across the finish line. Notice that there are no other runners anywhere close to her. Yes, I am bragging about my sister.
Camille receiving her State Championship award.
Camille greeting Mom after receiving her award.
It's a miracle, Mom Stands from wheelchair!! haha.
Camille being interviewed by the Courier-Journal sports writer.
Camille with her team - Central High School. Coach is EJ Henderson.

One of my most favorite memories is one of the times Camille won the State High School Cross Country meet. I think the year was either 1980 or 1981. Mom hadn't been out of the hospital for too long so we had to take her to the meet in a wheel chair because she was too weak to walk to the finish line. There were people everywhere, including the press.
Camille was the first to cross the finish line and when she did Mom jumped up from her wheel chair, cheering from pure joy and excitement! Camille found Mom and came over to give her a big hug. I believe I remember the Courier-Journal printing in the article about the meet, something about it being a miracle that Camille Forrester's mother was healed at the finish line. We all got a big laugh out of that. I will have to see if Camille has that article so I can print the exact quote.
These pictures are from that day. Mom and Dad were so very proud of Camille. I have to admit that I was too. Those meets were always soooooo exciting to watch and now I get to enjoy watching my own son compete in the same sport.

From Mom's Journal - Friday Augut 31, 1979 (age 42)

"Monday night my back began to hurt again and we called Lucy. I am now back in CCU because my blood thinner was no longer working right.

I've been here these last few days trying to get my blood thin enough so I will not throw off clots again. We discovered today that I had not been getting all my medicines therefore the blood was not right. It means I will have to be another 5 to 7 days.

I am really diappointed for I wanted to go to the Joe Binks race tomorrow morning. It is the first race for the cross country season. Camille has invited the Central Cross Country teams for a cook-out tomorrow night. But I was afraid Monday night that I would not make the race. Lucy was going to let me go and then come back to the hospital - but she says it is too risky now.

I also will not be home for the long holiday weekend nor our anniversary. I miss being with Hal terribly. I hope I can go home some day and just stay there for a while and get off this hospital merry-go-round.

Yesterday when coming back from EKG lab we were toating along with me in a wheelchair & an Ivac in tow despensing my Heprin all being pushed by Jane Rose the aide. As we came in the door to the unit the bottle fell off the IV pole and landed right on my shin. Boy did I see star. It has raised a bump and a small bruise.

I find when in the hospital it is so hard to hold on to who you are."

Fr-om Mom's Journal - Tuesday August 28, 1979 (age 42)

"Had pain this AM about 2 - went to sleep then. Woke up about 6 & have had pains ever ince. Am now feeling nauseated. Was so cold all night long - thermostat did not work right - was about 65 degrees in the room.
The man came & worked on the thermostat - hope it works better."
"Macho stethescope for arms & legs."
ringing in head
12:42 AM - felt a blemp, was lying almost flat on my back resting.
1:20 - blemp - reading.
1:50 - trying to go to sleep."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

700 Club's Pat Robertson is a careless, insensitive BAFOON!!

Pat Robertson is UNBELIEVEABLE! Please read this article and post your comments clicking on the "comment" link at the end of this post. I would love to hear what you think. This man just has no clue and I am really appauled that people actually follow the sick, discusting words of him or that he would have any kind of authority on this subject.

Pat Robertson says Alzheimer's makes divorce OK

AP – FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 file picture, Rev. Pat Robertson talks to attendees at a prayer … .

By TOM BREEN, Associated Press Tom Breen,

Associated Press – Wed Sep 14, 9:21 pm ET

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's is justifiable because the disease is "a kind of death."

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.

The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the "700 Club," said he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, "Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer."

Most Christian denominations at least discourage divorce, citing Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery.

Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson's co-host, asked him about couples' marriage vows to take care of each other "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health."

"If you respect that vow, you say `til death do us part,'" Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. "This is a kind of death."

A network spokesman said Wednesday that Robertson had no further statement.

Divorce is uncommon among couples where one partner is suffering from Alzheimer's, said Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer's Association, which provides resources to sufferers and their families.

"We don't hear a lot of people saying `I'm going to get divorced,'" she told The Associated Press. "Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease."

The stress can be significant in marriages though, Kallmyer said, because it results in the gradual loss of a person's mental faculties.

"The caregiving can be really stressful on a couple of levels," she said. "There's the physical level. There's also the emotional level of feeling like you're losing that person you love."

As a result, she said, it's important for couples to make decisions about care together in the early stages of the illness, when its effects aren't as prominent.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo from Mom's 60th birthday party,1997.

This is Mom and Dad from Mom's 60th birthday party. My Dad had a huge party for Mom at their home to not only celebrate her birthday but also the fact that she had lived 20 years beyond what doctors originally told our family.
The weather that day was perfect and Mom couldn't have been happier.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tribute's to Mom, not her dementia

Hi everyone!
I have been writing in this blog since 2007. So far it has mostly been my own thoughts on dealing with her dementia, my sadness for her mental decline and for my father who has stuck by her side nomatter what.
Now, I've decided to branch out to my other family members and Mom's friends since all of us are affected in one way or another. I think her friends are just as important to her and her memory.
So, I'm asking all of you a huge favor. Any of you reading this blog who knew Mom before dementia or even after her dementia diagnosis, would you please write one (or more) of your favorite memories about Mom and email it to me (email address is below)? I'd love to insert these into my blog. I'm wanting to go a new direction and focus more on Mom than on her dementia, even though the dementia is the main focus. Feel free to include any of your favorite pictures, they can be inserted as well.

The two posts below are tribute's to Mom from Mom's "favorite" neice and a dear friend of Mom's.
Thanks so much, this means a lot to me.
Love, Anne B.

A Favoirte Memory from a good friend of Mom's, Carol Westerman. 9/13/2011

"I am new to Facebook so I haven't learned enough yet to post but I want you to know that when we were in Atherton High School your Mom could have been voted the "Sweetest Girl in the 1955 Class". I have never changed in my opinion of her and what a wonderful legacy for her two daughters to know about her.
All the best.

A Favorite Memory from Anne P. Stewart, Marilyn's "favorite" niece - 9/6/2011

"Hey Anne,
I have nothing but good memories of your mother. For my whole life, whenever she saw me, she made me feel like she was so happy to see me. She called me her favorite niece which I still love so much, even though I am her only one. When she smiles, she has a twinkle in her eye, even when she is not feeling her best. She and mom always took such pride in the Bromley traditions and am happy how they have taught us how to make holidays special with the good china, silver, flowers, etc.

I can only remember one time that she really got mad at me. I must have been around 9 and we were riding our bikes around my lowell neighborhood. I still feel really badly about this but a black boy in our neighborhood was following us around and I called him chocolate ice cream. Somehow he went to my house, told your mom who was there and she came after me immediately. At the time, I had some "love beads" around my neck. She told me to take them off and told me I did not deserve to wear them for calling people names. It really sunk in to me and I have never done anything like that again. And I detest it when ever I hear people doing that. I apologized to Shawn, and I think she knew I was sincerely sorry as she gave them back to me with a big hug and made me feel better. She has always been a person that I have admired and wanted to make proud. Also her and your father are the true definition of true loves. They have always been crazy about each other and it has been a great example to us all of true devotion. I am crazy about my Uncle Harold too! Need to see them much more! I'm so glad you are doing the blog.

Hope this helps cuz!
Anne Stewart is the older daughter of Mom's sister Margaret Bromley and she is my cousin.

From Mom's Journal - August 16, 1979 Thursday (age 42)

"I think this marks my 66th day in the hospital since March. Oh I hope I can go home and stay there.
I am angry this morning at all this mess. I want to get well and stay that way. I am so tired of hurting. Please let it end and let me get strong again."

From Mom's Journal - Aug 10(?), 1979 - Sunday (age 42)

"When I went down to x-ray for the lung series it was so funny to look around in this very sterile room and see all the many sizes & kinds of catherters hanging from hooks on the wall and in amongst them all was this great green plastic fly swatter.

Plus the fact you are laid out on this table and then everyone runs for cover."

From Mom's Journal - July 1979 (age 42)

"Tomorrow I can go home. In the last 5 mos. I have spent almost 60 days in the hospital. Going home tomorrow seems to be so much more special than before.
I am still afraid sometimes but I must learn to live with this situation & make the best of it.
I love Hal so very much but hope he will not rush to buy relief.
I hurt a lot tonight but I will have to remain calm & still so the hurting will go away."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

From Mom's Journal - July 21, 1979 (age 42)

"The time has gone by & has been so long since I first went to bed. I do wonder sometimes if I will ever really get up again.

Hal & I had a long talk tonight & tears about all this. I hope I can find some years left for me somewhere in all this. I want so very much to have time with him again. I love him so very much and believe he will tell me the truth in all of this - I hope so for I think he owes me that - I owe it to him."


"Hal -
In most all things I do try to consider if whatever is fair to you. You asked me tonight to not take my life without first discussing it with you -

I could not do something like that to you unless you really understood why - I would not want to put that burden on you -

So I guess I am saying I will talk it over with your first in fairness to you - if that all makes any sense.
Most of all remember - I have loved you with all my being -


2:00 AM - 7/22/79

Woke up in sweat - pain in chest not bad but there - asked for pill - spilled water - coughed some but not enough to be productive - back of me is all wet with sweat - hair & all -
pain becomes very intense on movement - she gives me 2 Empirine #3 -

I have been here a week today and I have never heard from Mended Hearts - I think that is really strange - it is almost like an omen -

2:40 AM pain moved to rt shoulder & arm will take a NTG to see what happens - finally gone at 3:00.

Hal - Anne is a lot like you in that she likes to organize things - let her work on her dressing table & fix the chair that goes with it. She likes to have dividers etc to get everything together."

Is this something that is on a blitz & rampage?
What kind of time frame are we working in?
How & what do we tell Anne?
Why is it so hard to get answers from Lansing?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

From Mom's Journal - July 15, 1979 - Sunday (age 42)

"I came into Jewish (Hospital) at about 10:30 11:00 & was put to bed.

Developed pressure in chest that probably could have been relieved by a little TLC. Dr. L's comment was put her out until Tues & forget it.

I do not think it would hurt for some one around here to talk to a patient - it is almost as if we did not exist.

I don't think I would tell them I had a chest pain even if my heart was falling out of my chest.

My room is nice - I hope I have the same one when my surgery is over -

One of the nurses told me they may get veins from my arms - how much more can I be disfigured?"


"All anyone does is sit around and say buck up it's going to be okay - don't worry it will come out okay - not one of them has to hurt like that."


"Please keep my door closed so everyone will not hear my moans & groans."


"The fear & loneliness are almost unbearable."


"I hope Lucy comes to see Hal and I do hope Hal is not alone - "


"Hal - you really will be married to the Bride of Frankenstein now"


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

From Mom's Journal - July 14, 1979 (age 42)

"I'm so scared I hardly know what to do. I get angry, depressed, want to cry, want to be dead and away from all this, lonesome. I wish Hal was here to hold me. It is so hard to be a grown up sometimes. I have to get through this situation and get well but oh is it hard to do. I want to get well so that I can be with Hal & go places and do fun things with him. We have worked so hard & been thru so many bad days. I hope & pray we can have some fun days together.
I want to see my girls reach womanhood and see them achieve some of the good that will surely come to them.
I am so very lonely tonight and it is hard to go to sleep.

Lucy came into my room last night about 2:00 AM & sat down. We had such a nice talk.
We talked about my feelings about this operation - whether I would live or die. About Hal & our relationship.

I am sitting here in the semi-darkness of my room in CCU at Bapt East and it is 5:00 AM - in 4-1/2 hrs I will be moved to Jewish Hosp. to start getting ready for my 2nd heart operation. This is all so weird. I want to do this and get well so badly.
Please make it be successful."

From Mom's Journal - date is not given, probably between July 12 & 14 (age 42)

A note from Mom to her Dr. Lucy Tyler

"I've been worrying about your feeling you pushed me into this. Please don't feel that for you did not do that at all.
I am just so very grateful to you because you listened to me. It had been very difficult and I was beginning to feel dumb about telling anyone I was sick.
Thank you for all the help you have given me - including helping with a feeling of self-worth."

From Mom's Journal - July 12, 1979 - Thursday (age 42)

"They have decided to reoperate. I hope it works this time - Had some really bad times today - "

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My sweet visit and a letter

This evening I visited Mom in the nursing home. When I walked into her room she was sound asleep. I hated to wake her but I needed to take her to get some dinner in the dining room of the nursing home. When I woke her she seemed so weak, it took every ounce of energy just to sit up in bed. I asked her if she'd rather eat in her room but she said she wanted to try to go, to get a change of scenery. I put her socks on for her, helped her with her sweater then she said she needed to lay back down. Just those minor activities, things we take for granted, exhausted her. Before I helped her lay back down I sat next to her on her bed and she laid her head on my shoulder and wrapped her arms around me. I rested my head on hers and hugged her back telling her that I wished she could get well. I helped her lay down then she asked me to lay next to her in the bed and put my arms around her. She said she needed to feel my arms around her. It was such a sweet moment and I couldn't help but tear up.
Mom seemed to have all of her mental clarity at that moment. I felt like I was hugging my mother for the very last time; she looks so fraile now, so much like a little old lady. I hated leaving her alone tonight. I hate that her life has come to this. Cried all the way home.

Below....I posted this letter written by my mother back in 2008 but wanted to post it again.
I believe Mom wrote it back in 1998 but not certain.


"My journey with heart disease started back in 1979. It has been a rough trip but I feel I have learned so much about myself, life, and living with chronic illness.

I was forty-one years old when I was diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease. I had asked doctors for a number of years why I was having chest pain and felt so tired most of the time. The thinking in the 1970's was that premenopausal women did not have heart disease. Although I had a very strong family history of heart disease, I was told it was "nerves", "depression", or "young housewife's battle fatigue". Then I would be given a prescription for a tranquilizer, told not to let stress get to me, and sent home. I even went to my parent's cardiologist and was told there were irregularities on my EKG but that I was probably stressed out and sent home - two different times!

Finally, I saw a doctor who I did not tell about my chest pain. I told of my fatigue and the general sense of not feeling well. She asked me to agree to go to the hospital for testing. She felt there was more than fatigue going on. The second night in the hospital, I called the nurse and told her I was having chest pain. The nurse took my blood pressure, asked me some questions and left the room. Shortly she returned with a small bottle of nitroglycerin. When I saw that, it made me angry for I knew what it was and why it was used. She had me place one tablet under my tongue. It worked! Then I was really upset for I knew I was in trouble. Shortly after that, my doctor appeared at my bedside. The time was after midnight but the nurse had called for her to come. The next morning I met the first cardiologist who would be taking care of me.

Three days later, I had my first Coronary Artery Bypass surgery. That was March, 1979. After surgery, I did not seem to be improved. Three months later in July, 1979, the Bypass surgery was repeated. The prognosis given at that time was poor. I was devastated. Our two daughters were in middle and high school. We were told I probably would not live to see either of them graduate from high school. How could this happen to us!

Hal, my husband, called in a psychiatrist to talk to me. I cried a lot and felt so completely hopeless. The psychiatrist encouraged me to take it one day at a time and strive to make it to the next day. Then I would tackle the next day in the same fashion. He helped me to deal with my death and my living. To this day I still work on the premise of one day at a time. I do plan for events knowing that the plans may have to change, but I have learned to be very flexible.

I also was so afraid of dying alone. The doctor taught me to realize that dying was something everyone did alone - even if the room was filled with people. He helped me lose my fear of death and I find I seldom give it much of my thought. I put my energies into living today.

The future that we were told to expect was short and very gloomy. Hal and I agreed and told our doctor to have my chart in the hospital marked "No Code". We just felt that life was over for me. One night I was having a very bad night in Coronary Care. I asked the nurse to call Hal and ask him to come to my side. I felt that I was going to die that night. I wanted Hal to come into my room and be with me. When he came, I asked him to hold my hand. I felt that as long as I held on to his hand I would not die. We held hands for several hours and finally I felt that sense of crisis leave me. I told Hal he should go on home to get some rest. As he got near the door I asked him to tell the nurses "Don't be too quick on the No Code". We have laughed over the years about this incident. We decided early on in this journey that humor was necessary to pull us through. We try to find some humor in all situations. It is difficult sometimes but if you look hard enough you can usually find something to laugh about.

Recently I was in the emergency room with severe angina. It seemed that another heart attack was in progress. There was a woman from housekeeping moving around the area doing her job. Each time she passed my bed she would look over and say, "You feeling any better honey?" and each time I had to say "No". The third time she passed by my bed she asked the question again. My answer was the same as before "No". She said, "You don't look so good neither". Hal and I looked at each other - we had found our humor for the evening. It did break the tension for a moment.

The first four years after my diagnosis I was in the hospital more than I was at home. It was a very difficult time for our family to survive. We did a lot of reading in our search for information and help. We did have some counseling for our daughters and ourselves.

I had been a smoker before the first By-pass surgery. My doctor and my husband collected my cigarettes and lighter the day I was told that I would be having surgery. The respiratory therapist followed right behind them into my room. We worked for the next three days to try to clear my lungs so that I would be in better condition for surgery. After the surgery, I felt so very bad that smoking did not even occur to me. By the time the second By-pass surgery in July 1979 was past, the thought of smoking just was out of the question. I had been through too much already and the thought of smoking again was an anathema.

I was enrolled in Cardiac Rehab after surgery. Each time I did not continue to exercise on a regular basis after finishing the course of rehab. I did change my diet and the way I cooked. I have learned over the years to create interesting and flavorful dishes based on the low-fat way of cooking. Low-fat cooking does not mean unattractive or bland.

Through the 1980's my condition fluctuated between not good and poor. I was hospitalized numerous times. I had to have abdominal surgery twice, I had a pulmonary embolism, I had congestive heart failure problems. It was one thing after another.

Sometimes I would be so weak I needed a wheelchair, I needed a walker for I had a string of leg and foot fractures. The list seems endless.

My energy level was so poor I could function at only a very low level of activity. I was still having trouble with angina. I was sent to the hospital many times because I seemed to be having a heart attack. I became more and more depressed. I went to Mayo Clinic seeking help. Pain had become nearly constant in my chest, my back and in other areas of my body.

Over the years I have also been diagnosed as having Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Psoriasis, and Multiple Sclerosis. The diagnosis of MS came just about two years ago. I was started on Betaseron (Interferon beta-1b) in April of 1994. It has made a great change in my energy level and contributed to improving my overall sense of feeling better. The finding of MS has explained so many of the problems that have confounded the doctors who take care of me. And it has helped me to know that so many mysteries about my condition can be explained.

By the end of 1993 I felt so bad all the time and I could barely walk across a room. I was so worried and depressed about my situation. In early January, 1994, I was again taken by ambulance to the hospital. Another cardiac catherization was done. The idea was to do the cath and then try another angioplasty. I had had a number of catherizations over the years and two angioplasties. At the time of the cath I had a heart attack and was taken to surgery. That was my third Coronary Artery Bypass surgery. To quote the cardiologist, "The recovery in the hospital was stormy". In recovery I went into cardiac arrest. From my point of view it was the worst experience of my life.

I had been having trouble with my vision for a year or more before 1994. I was having holes in what I was seeing, and in other ways my vision was distorted. The doctors thought I was having small strokes. After my third bypass surgery the problem continued to worsen. One morning in the Spring of 1995 I awoke and could not see and could not remember much. I finally was able to remember how to call one of my daughters. I found I could barely talk. I did get her to understand it was me and that I needed help. She came and called for an ambulance. There was another trip to the hospital. At first they thought I had had a stroke again. Further testing finally showed Multiple Sclerosis. The previous "strokes" turned out to be exacerbations of the MS. My vision was so disturbed I was seeing double. I wore an eye patch and could not drive and could barely read. This continued until I had been taking medication for the MS for months. Gradually my vision has improved to where I no longer need the eye patch and I can drive in the day time. My night vision is really not good.

I started another course of Cardiac Rehab after the surgery in January 1994. I have stayed with it this time. The idea that I am expected makes me keep my commitment to my exercise program. I tell everyone it keeps me honest. Since 1994 I have lost over fifty pounds. I have gone from a dress size of 18 or 20 to a size 10 or 12. I am so very proud of myself and how I look and feel. The weight is off and I am toning up the body. I feel better than I ever have most of my adult life. Someday I may even be crowned the Cardiac Rehab Poster Lady!

I have just briefly mention dealing with depression. It is something that at different times I have both dealt with and have denied its presence. It is very difficult to deal with chronic illness, pain, uncertainty created by both, and facing your own mortality. The work needed to create new ways of thinking about life and who you are requires time. It takes a lot of energy, both mental and physical. I have read many books and articles searching for answers and comfort. I have found a psychiatrist who has been a great help over the last number of years. He has helped me to know that adversity comes to all of us but how we diced to feel about it is most important. We cannot control all things that happen to us in our lives. We can control our feelings. Many times I have cried and been devastated by bad things that have come into my life. I let myself have a few tears, and "why me's", but then I must turn my thinking around. I must start to concentrate on thinking "Well, how am I going to cope with this?". I gather information to study and learn about the problem. You cannot cope with or deal with a problem without information. The next step is to take the gathered information and apply it to the problem and how it all relates to me. Next "How can I use this knowledge to help me live each moment in a way that will make me the most comfortable and happy." The major understanding that I feel I have gained is to live each moment to the fullest and to accept it as a gift. The freedom that that way of living and thinking gives you is limited only by your willingness to believe that this is so.

Our daughters are grown and out on their own now. We are grandparents. We are looking forward to retirement soon. I am so filled with wonder and joy to find I have made it almost twenty more years. I know I cannot make all my problems go away. But I can accept each day as a gift and a challenge. And there must be humor in there somewhere.

Marilyn B. Forrester"

From Mom's Journal - July 11 or 12, 1979 (age 42)

This journal entry is a letter that Mom wrote to good friends of hers and Dad's, Carol & Shelby Feinerman. I believe she was saying good-bye.


"Dear Carol & Shelby - They are going to do the surgery to me again sometime in the next few days. This all seems like a terrible bad dream but no one will come to wake me up. You all have been wonderful friends and I love you very much. Just...... "


That is it, that's all....I don't know why Mom didn't finish that letter. Maybe someone came into her hospital room, maybe she fell asleep, maybe she got too upset and couldn't write any more. Either way, I cannot imagine her fear of getting prepared for a second coronary bypass surgery at the age of 42.

From Mom's Journal - July 11, 1979 (age 42)

"12:08 - rt shoulder hurts & chest has pressure - will take a NTG
12:50 - seem to feel better right now - Hal just left - love him so very much
3:05 - rt shoulder hurts again & arm - NTG
3:12 - NTG
3:17 - NTG
3:22 - NTG

Lucy -
1. Why am I taking Lanoxin?
2. What do we do if Lansing says No?
3. If I should get in real trouble please do not keep me if it gets to permanent vegetable"


Number 3 makes me tear up everytime I read it.

From Mom's Journal - date either July 10 or 11, 1979 (age 42)

The date for this journal entry is either July 10 or 11 of 1979 because of where it was written in Mom's journal. Looks as if she wrote it in the middle of the night so she could remember what to tell her, then, doctor....Dr. Lucy Tyler.


"Lucy - please, I really need to be home with Hal next week. We need very badly the time alone together.

What kind of diet should I have here?

It is 1:30 AM - took NTG at 1:00 & told RN - she gave me isordil & 30 mg Inderal instead of 2nd NTG but rt shoulder aches. Head really ringing.

Lucy - what is the Lanoxin for?

What do we do if Lansing says no?"

Saturday, September 3, 2011

51 Years!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

From Mom's Journal - July 10, 1979 - Tuesday (age 42)

"Feelings of pressure all day long that come & go - sometimes have sharp pain in chest. Will have numbness in an arm. Some pressure in neck - When I move around & walk sense of great pressure - took NTG (Nitroglycerin) at 5:10 - pressure in chest. pain in lower rt bk."


"Have had some pain tonight but not bad. I do wish we did not have to go through all this -

I must come thru this in spite of it all - the bastards will not grind me down - "


Throughout all the years of Mom's illnesses she has always maintained her sense of humor. I guess if you don't keep humor in your life then what is there really left to live for. Afterall, laughter is the best medicine. I try to remember that in my everyday life. I think mom does a much better job at it than I. Even now, with her memory loss Mom will pop off with some zingers. In the midst of her confusion at the hospital one night last week she pulled out her IV's and oxygen because she didn't know where she was and wanted to leave. Sadly she had to be restrained and sedated. But at one point she woke up just long enough to tell Dad, Camille, and me that if we believed that she did all of that then we would believe that cars could fly. Don't get me wrong, she was very angry but her comment made us giggle. Mom fell back to sleep immediately, almost as if it took every ounce of her energy to make that statement.

Friday, September 2, 2011

From Mom's Journal - June 5, 1979 - Tuesday

"Really had waves of dizziness & sick at stomach feeling all day - would come over me just sitting in chair - stomach hurts some.

Felt better emotionally today - would like to be able to do more about the house etc but am too weak - "


Mom's heart disease which was brought to our attention in about 1977 or 1978 was the beginning of the downward spiral in her health. She has lived the remainder of her life being sick, very sick. After her heart disease was diagnosed she was later, many years later, diagnosed with rosacia, osteoarthritis, rheumetoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), type 2 diabetes, and finally dementia. The dementia was probably caused by the accumulation of all the others. To this day, Mom is fighting. Always a fighter. To our dismay, she cannot overcome the dementia and it is slowly taking her away from us. Dementia is turning my mother into someone she never wanted to become. We all have to remember the REAL Marilyn so as not to be torn apart by some of what she says. We all have to remember that this horrible disease also has a voice but a voice that does not belong to the person in which it lives. Dementia is a parasite but one that cannot be cured or killed until it slowly devours it's host. And we, her family... all we can do is sit and watch it happen. But we do have wonderful small moments of her clarity where we can all, including Mom, love and laugh together. So we do our best.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

From Mom's Journal - June 4, 1979 - Monday (age 42)

"10:15 PM - Bad day today - very depressed. Wished I was dead but still cannot give up.
Went to exercise - drove myself - drove all right.
Seemed to have a good day on the bike - rode bike at home for about 5 min - was ok.
Ulcer really acting up - lots of swelling around middle was kind of sick at stomach - taste metal in mouth.
Scars are really tight - especially chest -
Wonder if I will get well ever -
Went to Hawley-Cooke with Hal & sat in chair to wait for him.
Really had waves of dizziness & sick feeling."

Above is an entry from Mom's journal. I am so sad that Mom didn't have a better quality of her physical being. As a family, we are so lucky to have had her as long as we did. Mom had her first open heart surgery when she was just 40 years old. We were told she probably wouldn't make it to age 42. At the time I was just 12 years old; not easy news for a young girl.
I have a very strong mother.....she is now 74 years old. However, now at 74 she really has no quality of life. Mom, physically, is just existing. And now mentally, her mind is slowly leaving us. No one should have to live like this. But Mom has always made the best of her situation and kept her wonderful sense of humor.

I love my mother so much. This is so difficult for me to be witness to. Sometimes I just cannot deal with all of this and withdraw from the entire situation. Probably not the best way to handle things, but it's my way. Journaling, blogging is my outlet to express what I'm feeling. I don't like to talk much with others, don't want to be considered a "downer at the party". Really wanting all of this to be over for my mother, I don't want her suffering to continue. I really don't want to lose her....but I'm losing her anyway either way.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Went to plant a rhododendron today in my moms back yard. My Aunt Margaret (Moms sister) had given it to her for her birthday.

Mom came out and sat at her patio table to talk to me while I dug. She was able to tell me about some plantings that were already in the yard when they moved in. There was one plant that my dad and I thought might be a weed but before I dug it out I told Dad "I'll check with Mom, she'll know whether it's a weed or not".

When it comes to cooking, baking, and gardening....well, I can still get Mom's advise on any of that. I think all of those things, things that she truly loved to do, are permanently engraned in her memory. I don't believe she will ever lose her "how-to" ability when it comes to those. Oh...and How to be a Good Mom, she'll always have the best advise.

Glad to know that some things in her memory are still intact. When I finished digging we sat for almost an hour and had a great visit on her patio. The sun was shining off and on, there was a wonderful breeze blowing, and the birds were chirping. It's was delightful and I will cherish this day, I only wish Mom could as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scary Evening

Saturday May 14, 2011

Mom has not been feeling well the past few days. Dad tells me that she has very little energy and feels like she can't get enough air. I talked to Dad earlier in the evening and he said he had decided to call EMS to take mom to the hospital again; I offered to go sit with him in the ER but he insisted I stay home until I heard from him.

Later this evening around 7:30 I received a phone call from Camille. The words out of her mouth I almost couldn't believe...."Mom just coded!" I dropped what I was doing, told David I had to go, that Mom had coded, flat lined. I began to cry, the kids and David hugged me and out the door I went. Called Dad on the way to the hospital, he said the nurses had gotten her stable. The EMT pumped her chest twice and she woke right up.

After all these years of living with the threat of losing my mother I always felt like I was prepared. Getting that phone call from my sister made me aware that I am not ready to lose my mother.

Will write more later. Going to bed now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mom's 74th birthday, April 30, 2011

Mom's 74th birthday was on Saturday April 30, 2011. Every year that mom gets older we always celebrate. Doctors over 30 years ago told us she would not live to be 42 but she has defied all the odds. My mother has a very strong will to live. Why wouldn't she? Mom has a lot of great things to live for. Except for the fact now that she has dementia. She is forgetting everything.....slowly, painfully becoming just a shell of Mom.

On Saturday, Mom's 74th birthday, she went into the hospital, heart related this time. Not a very good birthday gift. I went to visit yesterday, she seemed just okay. Seemed as if her breathing was laboring, sounded as if she was having trouble getting air. Her heart doesn't seem to be pumping oxygenated blood the way it should be but it is working very hard to do so; working too hard. Dad fears that after all these years that her heart is beginning to give out.

I try to remember all of the good, extra years we've had with mom, before the declining memory. Being caught up in the middle of this dementia diagnosis though, it is hard to think back to the good, extra years.

The dementia is making my mother "not mom". I am doing my best to hold onto those small windows where "mom" comes back but those windows are
becoming fewer and fewer.