August 13, 1914 - March 8, 2013
photo by Smiley
A memorial service was held at 11:00a.m. Saturday, April 6th 2013
at Bewley Hall of The Woman's Club of Fort Worth.
Contributions in Ahdel's memory may be given to the Fort Worth Opera (1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107 or www.fwopera.org) or The Southern Poverty Law Center (400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104 or www.splcenter.org.)
Ahdel has a daughter Susan and a son David
grandchildren Camille Koue from Susan, Kelly and Clay from David
more complete bio to come
more photos below and even more on this page of Ahdel photos
Ahdel Chadwick went into hospice care on Sunday January 28th at Stonegate Nursing Center in Fort Worth. On the evening of Sunday January 13th her decline began, the apparent result of kidney and respiratory infections. She went to Harris Hospital emergency room on the 15th. The couldn't find what was wrong with her and sent her to Stonegate for rehabilitation. After three days she was getting worse and Stonegate sent her back to the hospital where she remained for a week. On Friday the 25th she returned to Stonegate. On Sunday the nurse in charge, Two days later Ahdel's doctor and friend, Greg Phillips, and I agreed she should be in palliative care and Odyssey Hospice was called. She died on March 8th. The quality of care at both facilities was excellent. Except for when she was moved and three times when her left foot hurt a lot, she always said she felt fine. - dc
Happy 97th birthday Ahdel - a piece written for Ahdel's August 13th birthday in 2011 - with corrections from her (as predicted) added ten days later.
5-16-13 - Fort Worth Report - tornados and memorabilia
5-08-13 - Ahdel's big sister, Brunhilda, passes on two months after Ahdel. More in Family.
4-07-13 - Thanks so much to Gordon Henry for creating this page, In Honor of Ahdel - with wonderful photos of the memorial.
Was a great day. Will post memorial video and report soon - I hope. Busy now with family, friends.
Gentle, affectionate 12-year old cat would love to live with you. Sunshine is an indoor cat who has lived all her life with my mother who recently died. If you are interested, please contact me. And, I hardly ever ask this but please help inform others in Fort Worth, Texas, about Sunshine. Thanks. David Chadwick
click on thumbnail to enlarge
3-29-13 - Went to Dallas for Ahdel's cremation in Coppell northeast of the DFW airport. LaWanda, manager of Guardian Funeral Home in Fort Worth was there. When the curtain was opened her body lay covered in sheets with only her head exposed. Her color was so good I was surprised and asked LaWanda if they'd put makeup on her. No. LaWanda said that's the way she is. I asked if that was normal and LaWanda said not at all. She said that the blood sinks to the bottom so that only the backside of the dearly departed has color - like the ears and back of head. She said that my mother's pinkish face was surprising. I said that I would not call that body my mother anymore, how about that which once was Ahdel. I told her I had two explanations for the color. One is that it is a traditional sign of sainthood or purity and the other is that the extreme fasting and dehydration she went through had left nowhere for the blood to go. I remembered hospice people telling me that in cases like that the blood gets thick and the veins collapse - or something like that.
3-17-13 - Obituary for Ahdel in the Fort Worth Star Telegram (same as the one posted here but there are other options like to write something but please don't send flowers).
3-15-13 - Two months ago today Ahdel left "my sweet home" for the last time.
3-14-13 - Gordon Henry Remembers Ahdel
3-13-13 - Obituary for Ahdel submitted to the Fort Worth Star Telegram by Guardian Funeral Home to be published Sunday, March 17, 2013.
Two months ago today, Ahdel's demise began.
3-12-13 - Thanks to all for the kind words and thoughts. Will post Ahdel's obituary soon - first the one that will go in the Fort Worth Star Telegram upcoming Sunday and then an extended one. Here's the important info from it:
Ahdel Emma Reich Chadwick, 98, a lifelong resident of Fort Worth and a participant in the musical life of the city, passed on due to natural causes on March 9th.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00a.m. Saturday, April 6th 2013 at Bewley Hall of The Woman's Club of Fort Worth.
Contributions in Ahdel's memory may be given to the Fort Worth Opera
(1300 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, TX 76107 or www.fwopera.org) or The
Southern Poverty Law Center (400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104
John Steiner sent the following poem:
Do not stand at my grave and weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
3-10-13 - Oldest friend Ward just returned, partner Katrinka arrives tonight, sister Susan on Thursday. Friends are coming over. Got over nine hours sleep last night. I remember the whispering howling winds outside the room at Stonegate Nursing Center where mother spent her last days. I loved the sound which came and went - a little spooky yet engendering a sense of coziness inside. I wondered what made it. There were no big trees outside. I pulled up the window to investigate and it went away. Closed the window and the sound returned. Ah - the window would not close all the way. That's what did it. All is well
Take the idea "I was born". You may take it to be true. It is not. You were not born, nor will you ever die. It is the idea that was born and shall die, not you. By identifying yourself with it you became mortal. – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj - thanks Andrew Main for sending this.
Going to keep posting to Ahdel page for a while.
3-09-13 - Ahdel died last night on her mother's birthday at 11:52. I was sitting by her for the last few hours. Her breathing at that time was very heavy. She didn't show any discomfort, more like a runner at the end of a victorious marathan. In the last thirty minutes her breathing got less and less heavy till there was no sound. She made a slight wheezing sound, closed her mouth tight, held it there for twenty seconds or so, and then it opened slowly. I could tell she had passed, closed her eyes, and held her mouth shut as it remained through the night. I had the funeral home wait till nine this morning to take her away, followed the van, sat with her for an hour there and said goodbye even though I didn't see her body as her anymore.
3-08-13 - 1:30am - Yesterday till early afternoon Ahdel was awake, eyes open, somewhat agitated, seemingly aware but the only response I recall is when Earl, the morphine having worn off, asked her if she had any pain and she shook her head. Some of that mild congestion returned but she took care of it swallowing. She moved into seemingly asleep about the time she crossed the one week with no water line at three pm. And again, she was dehydrated at that starting point - and I'd say I could easily put the food she's had in the last eight weeks in one cupped hand. So from three till now she has lain back mouth open breathing heavily at twenty plus breaths a minute. I sit with her, read, sleep, work on cuke, go for short walks, a trip home to put the mail in, floss, get tomorrow morning's vitamins, and do the cat chores, sit some more, watch a movie on my computer sitting across from her. I think she looks and acts like it's any minute now and then I remember she was like this sometimes a week ago, two, three, don't remember how far back. A week ago Ward and I were joking about not being burned again - Can't fool me this time - I'll go home and go to sleep and she'll be here tomorrow even though it doesn't look like it. She makes us all feel over and over like Karl Rove the day after the election. Tonight's the eighth night in a row I've slept here because this time it's obviously really it. Nurse Deborah just said Ahdel's eyes are glazed over, she's on her last breath. I'm sure that's true - it has to be - but - we'll see. There's definitely a Twilight Zone aspect to this.
It's becoming more clear each day that this is not a normal case in terms of how relatively comfortable she's been and how long she's lasting, especially considering her age, length of time without food and water - what a deep reservoir of strength she has. Deborah said, "The human body can be amazing." - make that body/mind.
8:45am - Same same as they said in Thailand. Same position, same heavy breathing. I got lots of sleep, waking often to hear her. So often recently like the night before last couldn't hear her breath and had to look to see if the covers went up and down a bit. Often they moved so slightly I had to sit up and lean over to make sure. But then at times like the day before yesterday and yesterday morning till afternoon, she'd have periods of moaning and sounds of struggle. Not this morning, not last night, not yesterday afternoon. Just heavy breathing same same. Doesn't this take a lot of energy? What's the fuel? In 15 minutes she'll be seven and three fourths days without water, 185 hours. All quiet above - no roof work going on. Outside overcast. Nursery home breakfast for me thanks to Ahdel.
10:15am - Looking at Ahdel with hospice nurse Jo Ann she said she'd come back and see if she was wet. I said how could she have anything in her bladder. Jo Ann said that the kidney is like a sponge sucking up moisture from wherever it can get, like from the muscles. We don't think it will bother Ahdel to be checked. She seems pretty deep in there. Jo Ann and I talked about how long she'd gone. I said I had some faint memories of being told someone's mother had gone eight or nine days with no water at the end. Jo Ann said, "It's these little old ladies - they're the ones who last."
4:30pm - Ahdel passed the eight day mark an hour and a half ago. I went home, bathed, shaved, put on clean clothes as I've been doing every other day. Came back into the room with an ear out and right away could hear her pronounced breathing. I thought again, what is it this reminds me of? Oh yes - Darth Vader.
3-07-13 - 7:45am - Turns out Ahdel has a superpower. Yesterday at 3pm she entered into her seventh day without water. She's over 160 hours now. Yesterday she was ringing up some mucous or something like when you clear your throat but she couldn't spit it out so I got Earl to come to clean her mouth out. We couldn't believe there was any moisture in her but we could hear it. He got a swab and tried but the closest he could get was her lips. As soon as he'd get near she'd close her mouth shut. I was suggesting to her that she open it so he could clean it out and moisten it but we gave up. I wondered if it was because the swabs are flavored. She's hated all flavors for a long time. I used to clean her mouth out with tissue and he tried that but she wouldn't open. That's the same thing she did when a nurse tried hard to give her water after she'd stopped. Anyway, she eventually swallowed it and went back to resting or whatever it is. She made some sounds when she had trouble breathing or something like that, sometimes sounds like a person have a difficult dream now and then yesterday and last night but the only time she clearly indicated pain was when Earl checked her foot. Now she's lying there eyes open, mouth somewhat open, can hear her breathing which is pretty fast.
10:40am - A while ago Ahdel started moaning, it didn't go away, and she had that need to clear her throat again. I asked her if she wanted anything for pain and it wasn't clear if she answered or not. Hospice nurse Jo Ann came in and we agreed she should have some Atropine to help clear the slight congestion and .5 ml. morphine not just in response to the moaning but also to prepare her to be changed, bathed, and repositioned. That was overdue because it was thought she wouldn't last this long. So now she's clean and with a fresh nightgown. Her face doesn't look emaciated and has pretty good color. It's amazing but she looks about the same as she did a week ago, the last time she had a lot more pain in her foot and the same amount of morphine three times. Waiting to see if she goes to sleep now. Still a bit restless. Few minutes later I ask for another .5 ml morphine because 1 ml had been authorized last week and the .5 doesn't seem to have been enough. It takes effect right away and is not long lasting but the prior times when it took effect she didn't need more. Here's Earl. We agreed on a full 1 ml now.
11:15am - Earl spent a little time with Ahdel telling her her body might be old and broken but it's not her, it's part of the earth and her spirit can move on now, that her kids are fine and there's nothing to do. She said, "Bye bye." I could see a tiny tear coming out of the outside corner of her left eye. Where is this moisture coming from? Since she was more up than usual I got Susan on the phone to her and she responded several times to Susan.
3-06-13 - 9:00am - Seven weeks with no more than a handful of food and occasional sips of water leading to dehydration, 137 hours, five and two thirds days without any water and Ahdel continues without any excessive signs of discomfort. She's breathing faintly and has had some apnea, lack of breath, but it's gone away before long. A curtain shades her face from sunlight on her bed. Above us roofers hammer. Doesn't matter. Nurses and aides come in a say hi, look at her and marvel. I don't know what to call the state she's in. It's not sleeping, it's not waking, it's not a coma, it's not dementia. She's absorbed. And it's a round the clock state, no breaks. A sweet old friend of hers and Eleanor's, George Runyan, dropped by yesterday and I could tell he was shocked to see the condition she's in. He stayed a couple of minutes. To me this is her heroic body. She seems taller, larger, concentrated on a higher purpose. It's like a metamorphosis from her busy, social, task oriented, thoughtful, humble, kind, distracted body and mind of so many years to that of a cosmic astronaut preparing for launch. Never saw her hair straight before. She doesn't look emaciated. Her mouth is right now closed with a determined look. Her eyes open. She blinks at times and I don't know where she gets the energy to even do that. I do not know where she is but it is where she led herself to. It is not sad. It is as natural and good as being in the womb during labor. It's her own experience I can not perceive, only stand by, sit by and be here in wonder.
Susan's husband Don Koue and Ahdel exchange poems. On 3-01-13 he sent her this
Head hospice nurse Earl just told me Jo Ann noticed Ahdel had a Kennedy Ulcer
3-05-13 - 7:30am - An uneventful night, fifth one in a row I've spent in the other bed in this room, waking periodically to check on Ahdel, each night thinking it will be the last. Ahdel continues to glide on as mentioned yesterday, but so far it's been an ever receding goal. 112 hours now without water, having been dehydrated to start with, she's going for the record books. Amazing that her color and appearance are not bad.
Santhara - this is a page about this way of passing on, started on this website a few years ago.
3:00pm - No change. The sixth day without water, 120 hours plus, just started.
How long can a person live without water? - Links to what I'm finding on the WEB.
3-04-13 - 10:00am - Ahdel continues to rest peacefully. Last night indicated to the nurse she is not in pain and doesn't want anything. She doesn't want to be touched, and expressed pain only when they tried to take her blood pressure and change her this morning.
Can't get into my computer; thanks to Peter Ford in Tennessee for making this entry.
7:00pm - Computer fixed enough to use. Ahdel still beating all the odds makers. Earl, Sarah, Philip, the other Monday through Friday people we deal with were surprised to see we're still here. Ahdel just reached 100 hours without water. She continued today to indicate she's not in pain but doesn't want to be touched. That was confirmed by Koko, Jo Ann, and Earl. I put an end to anyone trying to change her or read her blood pressure or anything and they all agreed. So nurses and aides just come by, say hi, and confirm that there's nothing they can do. Her breathing is getting shallower, her hands colder, a little puffy Earl pointed out. Her recent determined effort to keep her mouth closed is weakening. She wouldn't let Jo Ann put any moisture in her mouth this morning so Jo Ann just rubbed the swab on her lips. Yesterday early eveing her friend Louise roused her, speaking loudly like the nurses do when asking if she has any pain, asked her to come let's go to the Monster Ball (see photo below), told Ahdel she loved her and that she'd be back soon and Ahdel smiled and whispered a weak thanks. Earl told her "We're bound by our earthly body but our spirit soars forever," and he urged her to let go and soar. I sit with her a lit, breathe with her, hardly ever say anything anymore. No music. Earl says she's trying to shut down and might be starting back up each time we give her stimulation. If I left she might let go. But as long as she's okay, I don't care if it takes longer. I see it as a transition, both calm and intense. She has always seen death as a natural transition too. Natural but difficult. I had a dream about her moving down a field toward a goal line, but she's not getting tackled, there's nothing holding her back but herself, and she's gliding in toward it slowly and ever more surely. I don't see her so much as my mother now but a fellow being much changed from how I once knew her, am not thinking about or bringing up things of the past. She's loosing her earthly identity.
3-03-13 - 8:00am - Ahdel continues to lie peacefully, breathe softly with her eyes a little open. She responded briefly to the nurse, Deborah, last night around midnight who asked her if she was okay and she said yes but didn't respond further. This morning nurse Koko also got her to nod that she was okay and not in pain. Koko said her vital signs are very low. She asked if I wanted Hospice called - they don't work on weekends unless it's urgent. I said they know Ahdel's condition and there's nothing to do. She said Ahdel's oxygen was up and down and asked about putting her on oxygen. I said she's trying to pass on and suggested we leave her be.
Having a problem with computer. Don't know if it will keep working.
3-02-13 - Noon. Ahdel continues to defy the predictions and to - I guess it could be called sleep. She has two types of breathing - quiet, seemingly shallow breathing and heavier breathing I can hear. A nurse this morning at about five tried to give her some water but, like yesterday, could only moisten her mouth a little. She said Ahdel is the sweetest and most uncomplaining patient she's ever known.
Love and Chicken Soup - Nutrition and the Terminally Ill - the first thing Odyssey Hospice gave me to read. Ahdel's illness was classified by the hospice as Failure to Thrive.
3:30pm - Ahdel continues to rest peacefully, breathing softly with her mouth closed or mostly closed. The main movement I see other than breathing, is her mouth opening and closing slightly now and then. There's a faint high sound issuing from her throat recently as she exhales. She has been resting like this with no comment or intake of water other than a little moistening now for over forty-eight hours now. Aside from her breathing, Ward and me talking for a while when he was here earlier and an exchange with a visiting nurse or aide every hour or two, the room is quiet.
10:00am - Ahdel has been unresponsive since early yesterday evening. I slept in the other bed in this room last night always being aware of her breathing. She's peaceful, eyes open and mouth open most of the time. Right now it's closed. She has the signs that come soon before dying - mottling of the hands and feet (discoloration) and they're getting cold, no bowel sounds meaning the body is concentrating its energy on heart, lungs, and brain. Heart beat 115. Temperature 94. She's moved an arm a few times, holding a fist up for a while. The only medicine she's had since yesterday afternoon is a little Ativan to calm her because she was tensing up some like that, especially when the hospice nurse was checking her. There's nothing to do but sit and be with her and the occasional classical piano music.
3:40 - For over 24 hours Ahdel has been in pretty much the same condition. How heavy her breathing is changes. Right now it's fairly loud. No one has come in to take vital signs since this morning. Another factor added to the ones above that indicates she'll pass soon is she hasn't had any water in over 24 hours. She appears to be comfortable, has not indicated any discomfort or pain in 24 hours either except for that bit of seeming stress for a few minutes this morning when the hospice nurse was checking on her. All the nurses and aides here admire her and are pleased with how smoothly this is all going.
2004 Sonoma reunion celebration of Ahdel's 90th Birthday - a few great photos by Raymond Rimmer
2-28-13 - Ahdel was pretty alert yesterday. Ward came by after his job was finished and we talked a while and she'd chime in with comments that revealed her still vital though limited awareness. We were talking about movies. I mentioned the Tree of Life and went on about it, saying it was like a long art film without a clear plot. We'd gone on to other subjects but she said something. I got close for clarification. She said, "Get The Tree of Life by any means you can." Mainly I think she likes hearing the sound of the voices of people she's close to. She doesn't keep up with the meaning very well. After a while she was tired. She indicated where she lay and said, "This is a bed isn't it?" I said yes. She said, "I want to rest. I'd like a more normal bed." I cranked it down so she lay almost flat and told her now it was a normal bed.
Go to this obscure page linked to toward the bottom of the Family page and you'll see some nice photos of Ahdel's sisters and all us cousins plus Ward and Katrinka, Kelly, Clay, and me. They're thumbnails so click them to enlarge. I'll try to get them and some other photos of all of us better presented at the bottom of her page here later.
See Van Cliburn links from Camille at bottom of yesterday's posts.
11:00am - Just told Ahdel that Van Cliburn died yesterday. She's quite talkative now. Ward said hi it's Ward and she told him to tell Ward how much enjoyed his visit and he said this is Ward. She asked for the "pieces of paper" on the table next to her and I handed her the big card Camille, Kelly, and Clay made and sent her. I handed her more cards and more water. She asked, "Is that an elevator?" pointing straight ahead. Just asked for "cold water" so I got her some ice water. She didn't like the taste but drank a few sips. Called it rough. She says there's a terrible taste in her mouth. Last night she was talkative too, much of it not making much sense. She said she didn't have any money to get her hair washed and wanted Sharon to do it, a woman at the parlor she went to - but said that Sharon shouldn't put her to bed. She wanted me to help her take her nightgown off so she could put on a nightgown so I pointed that out and she said but it's not hers which is right - I got that one here from the laundry room - so I told her it was a gift from me. Put Susan on the phone and they talked a minute. Susan said, "Good night mother," and Ahdel responded, "Good night mother." When later I said, "Good night mother," she said "Good night mother."
She keeps going back to Van Cliburn dying. Her foot's starting to cramp again. I talked to the nurse Philip and am telling her he'll be here soon.
3:45 - This time the morphine didn't do it. Ahdel was in a lot of pain for several hours saying it was pain on pain, severe, calling out "eight" which she'd learned to say when they asked to rank it on a one to ten scale. I don't think she remembered the context, just the word "eight.". She said yes it was her left foot but wanted to point to where the pain was and would point to different places in the room. The 10 mgs they were authorized here to give here was administered twice more in one hour intervals plus Ativan the third time. Finally the pain subsided but this time she hasn't gone to sleep, is lying there saying things occasionally I can't make out. I grunt in response. Dr. Greg Phillips has now told them next time to double the dose to 1 ml (20 mg) and prescribed an anti-psychotic to relieve her anxiety. He said in his experience that will help to stop episodes like we just went through. I've got to sign something to give permission for that.
2-27-13 - Ahdel slept till Ward walked up to her bed and said goodbye mid morning yesterday. She acknowledged him. Before long she indicated her left foot hurt. Put her on phone to Susan since she was awake. All she could do was mention her foot hurt, Susan asked her if it was a cramp and she said yes. I got nurse Philip who asked what hurt. She pointed. He asked on a scale of one to ten how bad and she said eight. She agreed to take something. The woman who came to administer the drops mentioned morphine and Ahdel shook her head no and I explained again it was just a bit like a whiskey sour and would take away the pain which was bothering her greatly so she agreed and in about fifteen minutes the 10 mg had taken effect and she slowly went back to sleep. Spoke a few words to a nurse who came at noon while I was out having lunch with Ellen Gregory Woodward (granddaughter of Pontans [sp?] who lived next door to Granny and Papa). Sleeeping deeply since then. Today makes 40 days with almost no food - maybe twenty tiny bites in all.
Wrote the prior from the well furnished private dining room here where I go while Jo Ann is with Ahdel in the mid morning. When I came back mother was awake, is awake. Eyes open a bit. I stood in front of her and said good morning. A hand is on the bed rail to her left. Bach piano. Sunlight. Susan called, talked to mother who said she was fine. She enjoyed Susan reminding her of their trip to Europe thirteen years ago. Then Barb and Ellie said hi, then Penny who's with Bruni then Bruni who reminded mother of her new grandson. That was great. Other people get more out of her than I do. I tend to just say hi and ask if she wants anything. All the visits and talk with family have been of course the high point of her stay here. Not that she minds the rest which is almost entirely sleep.
Be sure to see A letter from Cathy Griffith Leuenberger, Ahdel's niece posted later yesterday.
Did a search and replace to change Brunhilde's name to that from ending it with an "a." I often don't remember spelling.
Found my pedometer this morning in a shirt I didn't think I'd worn that day and wore again. because it was cold out. Bad detective.
Van Cliburn died today. My mother Ahdel knew him and was involved for years in the Van Clibern international piano competition. I met him a few times, the last one being in 2003 with mother at his favorite restaurant here in Fort Worth. We talked about Japanese pianist Minoru Nojima whom mother was close to and VC had lost touch with. I was to be in Japan in six months so I said I'd try to look Minoru up. Didn't find him.
Here's an article and a video of him performing at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he won at age 23 - thanks Camille - dc
2-26-13 - 5:00am - Ahdel has been unresponsive since yesterday. She's peacefully sleeping, has been changed without waking. Was hesitant to leave last night but the nurse on duty, Carla, said at 9:30pm that her vital signs were fine and that she'd call if there were any significant changes. Home is just a five minute drive from here. Walked yesterday but drove today.
Love the Photos Sent by Karl Plegar
A letter from Cathy Griffith Leuenberger, Ahdel's niece
2-25-13 - Ahdel was sound asleep till nurse Philip came in to take vital signs and she hardly woke for that. Everything was normal except her blood pressure was a little low - 93 over something. Hospice nurse Jo Ann came in at ten. I was talking with old friend Ellen Renaud. We went off to Starbucks. When I returned mother had both hands on the rails to her sides and was agitated. I asked her how she was and she said she wasn't sure. Head hospice nurse Earl is off for the week and his substitute came in. Ahdel's foot was hurting again like it did a few days ago but this time in addition to complaining about that she was anxious. Now her blood pressure was 122 over something. She agreed to take another small dose of morphine. The nurse asked her if she'd take something for the anxiety and she nodded yes so she also took some Ativan. She'd asked for coffee and took a couple of sips complaining about the taste. Also didn't like the taste of whatever the Ativan was dissolved in. Sipped on water in hopes it would make the bad taste go away. Soon she was sleeping peacefully or seemed to be. Since then her breath has been shallow, she's moved her hands a little, her eyes have been half open most the time, and she has whispered words I couldn't understand and not answered when I asked if she wanted anything except once while I was standing by her she said, "It's so close - it's hard to let go." I said, "You can let go." I've been keeping it quiet in here - no music or phone calls. Stepped out to talk to Katrinka and in the hallway kept people out - an aid offering drinks and the room cleaner who thanked me. As several people mentioned yesterday, her color is good.
Soon I'm going to put up some photos Karl sent.
Here they are down below: Photos Sent by Karl Plegar
2-24-13 - When I arrived this morning last night's nurse and the one who came on this morning each said that Ahdel was especially weak today. They check on her every two hours and do what's necessary. Deborah from last night said that in the wee hours mother had asked for coffee and then told her there were five other people in the room that she pointed to - in the corner on the ceiling. Deborah got the coffee but Ahdel was back asleep. Deborah said she's seeing angles. Ahdel's hardly awakened today - once a little for Susan to say hi on the phone, a little bit to say hi to Pam and Steve Smith, but couldn't rouse her for the Lakers, Ward, or Greg Phillips, her doctor.
When my father's mother was fading away in her mid nineties at home, she had no attendants, was a strict Christian Scientist. Mother had an office upstairs in her house and spent a lot of time there. Toward the end, Grandmama, as we called her, looked up at mother and said that it was so beautiful there and she named relatives saying they were there and it's so beautiful.
2-23-13 - 8:20am - Ahdel has mainly slept since she got the small dose of morphine yesterday at about 1pm. Head hospice nurse Earl said that the morphine doesn't last long and predicted that the foot pain wouldn't come back. He thought it was a cramp. I stayed here overnight. Every two hours they'd come see if she needed to be changed and move her a little and give her a little water. I heard her say she was feeling fine a couple of times. Her nurse today, Koko from Okinawa 21 years ago, checked Ahdel's record and said she'd only had morphine that one time yesterday, none since. Her vital signs are all normal too. She said that Ahdel's hands are sweating which means that she's not eliminating moisture correctly. She said they should be elevated and I said I noticed her holding them up some. I think I got that right. She knows I'm here but neither of us is saying anything. We said hi to each other a while ago and I put on Horowitz playing Scarlatti and Hayden. Mostly her breathing is faint and she looks like she's about to die but that's what I've thought most the time for over a month. Not just me - no one here imagined she'd live this long - and so well. I remember Earl saying people in hospice care frequently live longer. It seems to me that Ahdel has guided her last days through a comfort zone, a stress free holiday. All we've done is attend to her simple needs, not get in her way - and keep her company.
11:00am - Susan talked with mother and gave her word jumbles. She got three in a row. Then Ahdel and Bruni had a long talk. She had some water and said she felt fine.
Karl answered my question about the name of Ahdel's maternal grandfather's first name (neither Ahdel or Bruni could remember): "Hulda's father's name is William Henry Smallfield. Her mother's maiden name is Emma Schmidt and was born in Germany." Ahdel had said they lived on a small farm. Bruni elaborated that he was 20 years older than Emma and died when she was a little girl, that he'd been in what sounded like decorative iron work and that a company had brought him and his family to Fort Worth or this area from Kansas City, Missouri. When he retired she said they got a farm with an orchard and garden.
Karl also wrote of his new granddaughter: "David and Courtney's little girl was born Monday, February 18 at 9:37AM; weighed 7lbs 4oz; height 20." We found out today that the official name is Sadie Elizabeth Pleger!"
5:00 - Ward and Billy Stone came over and we talked, mother joined in with a word or two now and then. Ahdel asked the aide Corey for some fruit and he brought a plate and said she took about five bites. Later she asked me for iced tea and she took a sip. She had a talk with Eleanor, said hi to Barb, went to sleep before the call was over then woke up to say bye. The Pattons came and the three of us stood around the bed and talked. I said that Billy, Ward, and I had jabbered on a long while probably tiring mother out. I thought she was asleep then but she called out, "No," and shook her head.
Eleanor and I had talked a bit after she'd talked with Ahdel, I told her how mother had done the word jumbles and she wanted me to tell mother how great that was. I stepped out and said it's probably better not to heap too much praise on her for doing simple things because she's generally not thinking of herself as being incapacitated. She's in some sort of altered state that is beyond my ability to describe or understand but I can see that she isn't comparing her life now to that of her past, doesn't think anything's wrong, is in a sort of trouble free present with hardly any thought of the past or future or of herself. She loves talking to people and seeing people and, as I've said before, I think the main experience she's having is of receiving love which she tries to return. I think she puzzles a little over tones of concern and praise but she also doesn't dwell on that bepuzzling so what's left is the love.
A weekend hospice nurse was sent as I'd arranged yesterday and he had a good time checking up and talking with her, said to me afterwards that she was compus mentis, stable, symptom free, and he wondered why he was there. I said it was because she wasn't as up yesterday as today and she'd outperformed our projections again. He understood and said this could go on for a day or a week or a month or a year. He said after eight years he'd given up on predicting.
2-22-13 - It's 7:45am. I've been here a couple of hours. Ward is visiting so I felt free to walk the oak wooded path that leads toward the nursing home. Needed mittens and wool cap as it was below freezing. Ahdel hasn't awakened yet. I've realized that the marked downturn she seemed to be having the other day that I called unresponsive was likely due to receiving morphine the night before [next day note - now I've learned the morphine was a small amount and not long acting so it just allowed her to relax maybe - hard to know]. As mentioned yesterday, the nurse gave it to her because she's complained of shoulder pain. There should have been a directive written down not to do that without consulting with me. I would have told them to hang on and see if it persists. None of her little pains here and there have persisted. Like the other day, as I wrote, she'd complained of foot pain, then later both feet, then the next day, big toe, then the next heel. Each time I asked her if there was anything she wanted done about it, should I call a nurse? Each time she indicated no. Of course that can change, but for now, she's comfortable and it was good having her back communicating with us yesterday. I'll be putting brief reports in about how it's going today.
4:45pm - Had a long talk with Earl, the head hospice nurse here about how Ahdel was pain free and needed no pain killers. Thirty minutes later she started to complain about pain in her foot. I'd heard that before but this time her complaints continued and the pain continued to increase. For the first time she said yes she wanted a nurse if they could do something about the pain. Philip, the nurse on duty, came and talked with her. He asked if she'd like some pain medication. She was weary and asked like what? He said morphine. She said no. He brought a warm wet washrag and put it on her foot. She continued to complain about pain. We finally got Earl back in and he talked to her about how morphine doesn't only come in doses that soldiers took when they were shot. I told her it's like alcohol - you can take a lot or a little - and Earl wants to give her the equivalent of a whiskey sour. She said okay. He went off and came back with a dropper that had an oral dose of half a milliliter. That worked. It took a while. She's sleeping now.
We had a meeting at three to discuss Ahdel's treatment - the director, the head nurse, the social worker, Earl, and me. There was concern that I didn't want Ahdel to have any pain medication. I said that I'd told people from the first that she and I had to be included in the decision. Earl and I informed them about what had happened that day and now we could proceed with caution responding to her verbal and non verbal cues. We want of course to deal with pain but we also want to preserve as much awareness as we can, what little she's going to have left. I made it clear that Ahdel had been in charge of her care from the first in that she indicated what food, drink, and medication she would take. Mainly it's been water and not a great deal of that. She seems to have steered herself down the optimum course of a comfortable shutting down of her body which she sees not as an end but as the beginning of a transition.
2-21-13 - Slept here at Stonegate from 2am to 7. It's almost 8am now. Nice to have a room with two beds. I slept with my head at the other end so I could wake up and see if Ahdel was breathing. Remember nurse and aid coming in a couple of times to change and move her - they check every two hours, ask if she wants a sip of water. Ahdel hasn't been complaining about being moved since the day before yesterday. It used to give her vertigo or something like that - she'd be scared she was going to fall, once they stopped she'd be comfortable again. Now she seems comfortable no matter what, comfortable and still aware. Brought my toothbrush. Got some tea. Remembered the last time she mentioned her cane the other day, first time she'd mentioned it in weeks. She did so only so she could repeat her name for it. She said, "Where's my able cane?" It's raining hard outside now. Time for some Horowitz.
9am - Nurse Philip asked Ahdel how she's doing and she managed to answer, "Fine." He asked her if she was in any pain. She shook her head no. She mentioned she'd had pain yesterday. I said that was the night before last - her shoulder. He said the nurse that night had given her morphine twice. The few times I've heard her complain, whatever was bothering her went away. I reminded them not to give her morphine without checking with me. She could have been on a small amount of morphine since she went on hospice care but it would have been unnecessary and I'm sure we'd all rather she was aware and alert as long as she's not in pain.
Then Eleanor called and again, mother perked up more than I thought she ever would again and then talked to my sis Susan and her big sis Bruni. They were all pleased. I mentioned to them that I can tell she's a bit puzzled at times why everyone seems so happy she's feeling good and not in pain. I don't see that she's experiencing herself as being sick or having any particular condition. She was asked if she was expecting visitors and didn't know how to answer. She's not expecting anything. She was asked if she's had a bed bath and she said no and I called out yes. She is mainly in the here and now and relates best to subjects in that timeless zone. I just saw Philip and told him how much she'd come to and we agreed we'd not expected that. Jo Ann the hospice nurse is here, asked her how she was and she said fine. Obviously it won't go on forever but she keeps surprising us. I'm going for a walk home and back with the pedometer Jim and Ann just gave me.
4:15pm - Ahdel doing better today than yesterday. Several visitors whom she interacted with some then dosed off to occasionally add a comment to our conversation. Like I was telling Susan Motherall that Bruni would be 100 in June and Elly was 87 and then came, "You didn't say how old I am." I calculated she was 98 and 27/52nds and a day. We've always been into unnecessary math.
A nurse and aid came in to see if she was dry - could tell she was by the color of the yellow stripe on her briefs, said she drank a lot of water while I was gone - like almost a whole cup. Wow. I've never seen her drink a lot of water - a few sips at a time is the most I've seen. Earl the head hospice nurse said he hoped she hadn't had too much, more than she can handle. He'd come in and asked how she was and she said fine. He asked as he always does, any pain? No. He asked if she'd tell him if she had any pain and she said yes. She said there was something unusual earlier but couldn't remember it. I suggested maybe it was the shoulder pain. The nurse who'd given her the morphine told me Ahdel had said, "I am in pain." Never heard that in the last month so I suggested that might be the unusual something she wanted to tell Earl. She said, "Maybe so." Linda Smith came in while I was in the hall, visited a minute and came out saying Ahdel wanted to sleep. Anyway, she's been much more alert today than the two days before.
6:45pm - An interesting thing just happened. Ward has come in from Houston for the weekend. Jackie Cox is here. They said hi to mother and then we've been sitting talking for a long time, mother sleeping. Once I steered the conversation away from something disturbing saying that Ahdel listens and has at times asked me to change the subject so keep that in mind. At one point I mentioned that a nurse had given mother some morphine the other night and before I could conclude the sentence Ahdel said in a loud commanding voice, "Morphine! I do not want that!" I called up sister Susan and told her about that and got Ward and Jackie on the phone to her to tell her they heard it And then Delvin, a very cool aide, came in and asked Ahdel if she wanted anything and she said she was fine and I said, "Mother, tell Delvin what you told us about morphine." She looked at Delvin and said clearly and strongly, "I do not want any morphine."
A note here. My father died of cancer, had a lot of pain, and did not take the morphine they gave him. He tried it once and didn't like it. I've made it clear to the hospice people that of course if it's necessary, mother can be given morphine, but that's something we need to decide together knowing that she would rather avoid being drugged. I didn't complain about mother getting the morphine, just told the nurse it wasn't needed now and not to do that again without asking me - same thing I told Earl at first. He and I have talked a lot and see things eye to eye. People can change their minds real quick about pain killers if the wrong circumstances arise. But we're not at that point. She's done pretty well up to this point in her life not taking medicine.
7:45 - Ahdel did something else different - she asked me to stay so Jackie and Ward went out to dinner. She never does that. She said there were some things to go over. I told her all the bows were tied and each j dotted, that all we had to do was enjoy ourselves. That satisfied her. I didn't want to go out anyway. They'll be back. She kept asking me things, some I could answer and some I couldn't make sense of. I reread Cathy's letter to her. So nice. I asked her the other day what her maternal grandmother Smallfield's given name was and she said Emma right away. Tonight I asked what Emma's husband's name was and she can't remember it. I've been sort of blabbering stuff to her. Must be hard to follow it. She's bringing up things she hasn't in a while like, "Where is my watch?" Think I'll read her some poetry now. - But then Ward and Jackie were back and we continued a rather spirited conversation sometimes including Ahdel who did offer a comment now and then and sometimes was obviously confused by too much going by. But she hung in there. I Never know what to expect.
2-20-13 - Yesterday Jo Ann, the hospice nurse who comes in and cleans Ahdel, puts on a fresh gown, cleans her mouth, brushes her hair, and so forth said Ahdel was about the same. Earl, the head hospice nurse, said her vital signs are better than ever - blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, temperature - all good, clear. He said she has no symptoms except that we can tell by her skin that she's dehydrating -she has no complaints of pain or even discomfort, there's no need for any response - it's an uneventful shutting down. Philip, the regular nurse on duty yesterday and today said he's been amazed at her strength. She was awake quite a bit yesterday afternoon but at the same time couldn't stay awake for visitors - the Milburns and the Pattons. She'd say hi, that she was doing "pretty good" and would soon nod off. I went to a high school class dinner last night, returned at nine and Ahdel was awake. She asked me three times for "cold water," - more than usual, talked to Susan briefly, mainly in a high slightly squeaky voice. When I left I called Susan up and said that mother doesn't have to speak in that high voice, that when she said goodnight to me, she used a more regular lower pitch voice. Maybe when she's saying more it takes less energy to use the high voice or maybe she likes the way it sounds. Anyway, I have seldom left with her awake and reflected on how I never know what's next with her.
It's Wednesday 2pm here and mother is lying in bed with her eyes and mouth open and is not responding so far today except several times to look my way when I speak to her and say hi once when I said hi. Today, so far, she can't even take a sip of water. I can't help but look now and then to see if she's breathing. It's been raining a little. Wind is gently howling outside. Inside Minoru Nojima is playing Ravel piano.
Louise Carvey dropped by and got mother to respond to her pretty well. First time I've heard her say she's pretty good today. She told mother she brought "some Zen books for David to sign."
Head hospice nurse Earl says that Ahdel is nearing the end of her life. He can't get a blood pressure reading, oxygen is getting lower, breathing shallower. He said she's lasted so long because she's been partially hibernating, is in a sort of semi-suspended animation. He said last night she'd said her shoulder hurt so they gave her a little morphine but he saw no need for that now. He said that he won't put her on continuous care though because she's asymptomatic, doesn't have any co-morbidity like chest pains or any pains. He went over and talked to her and got her to smile and even laugh a little and take some water. "No battery?" she spoke. "Nope," he said, "And now you can go back to deep sleep." "That's a good schedule," she said.
2-19-13 - On the other end of the cycle, from Ahdel who made a point of it and me congratulations to David and Courtney Plegar on their baby girl born yesterday. Karl and Gloria congratulations on your first grandchild and send photos.
Lots of sleep for Ahdel but waking too. Still saying fine or good or at least nodding when asked how she is. Yesterday she said, "Did you say cornbread?" Yes - You want some? Nod. The kitchen was out, no unused lunch trays left. I found an untouched one on a spent tray in the nurses kitchen, snatched it when no one was looking. She took a tiny bite. "No more." Then she just wanted to get rid of it. Another couple sips of coffee, then some water to get rid of that taste. Back to sleep. Several times she woke up and said the word "battery." Later she said her heel hurt. I asked if she wanted a nurse, she shook her head no and went back to sleep.
Other Ahdel comments out of nowhere:
"What's a leugar?"
(Raising her hand) - "You help if you can." I ask do you mean help you? Shakes her head no.
If she doesn't like something, like being moved, she goes, "Wait a minute" over and over till it stops. She's done that all along.
Staff here is so considerate. They eat of all the treats I give them - taking one or two and passing the rest on, emptied the kitchen at home of non chocolate sweets from Ahdel's sweet tooth which grew in size in recent years. Most fortunate Stonegate Nursing Center is next to a Trader Joe's and two great restaurants - the Tavern and Inzo Italian Kitchen, the latter which has cooking shows on big screens, unfortunately the nasty competitive ones. It's also just 1200 steps to a Starbucks and 2400 to home but I don't walk from there anymore because it's too late and I'm too tired when I leave. Lots of good walking from here though. Yesterday walked around the for sale Stonegate Mansion once the Cullen Davis mansion then for a while a church - peered in the windows, said hi to Hispanics cleaning, gardening, working on fences. This was once all ranch where I'd climb the fence, walk past cattle, go swim in a swimming hole nearby, swing on a rope to drop into a pool at a bend in the muddy old river now engineered to boring regularity.
2-18-13 - This morning hadn't heard a word out of Ahdel till Jo Ann, the hospice nurse came in and said hello and asked her how she was. Ahdel said a faint, "Fine." Then Jo Ann asked, "How was your weekend?" "Good," Ahdel answered. "You sure have a good attitude," I said. Later she asked for coffee, actually took a couple of small sips, and said she liked it. I don't recall he saying she liked anything for a long time. That's the first time in eight days she's had anything but water and on that day she tried a sip of coffee and hated it. A couple of days ago read cousin Cathy's long letter to Ahdel. She always appreciates loved ones' reaching out to her. A number of people have visited recently. The DeGarmos were here. Mother and Mark joked about him not having anything to fix at her house now. At one point she coughed and at their suggestion I hit the button that sits her up more and gave her a sip of water. They suggested maybe she'd like some ice so I gave her a bit to wetten her mouth. Soon she asked how she could get rid of it. We helped her get a tissue and she spit the ice out then I told her she could drop the tissue on the side of the bed where the waste basket is. "Great!" I said. "What did I do that's so great?" she asked. I told her that she's so weak that anything she does is great. She put her hands together and applauded herself in mock congratulations.
2-17-13 - Some Nisargadatta quotes most relavent then a request for change, Daffodils by Wordsworth, two poems by Maya Angelou, three by Emily Dickinson and, "That's enough for now." That was yesterday, no - day before. Yesterday was TS Eliot Fourth Quartet Jackie Cox sent - just some lines here and there.
Ahdel: David are you hearing any of this?
Ahdel wanted something waking from nap. Couldn't say it. I gave her some time then ventured, "Water?" Yes. I took a long walk and came back. She was trying to say something, reaching her hand out. I couldn't get it. She spelled it out. Took me a while to get it spelling it back till she nodded yes: UNCIED. Hmmm. Same thing happened later. That time she spelled out COMMON. Then Camille called and they had a brief and coherent conversation.
Random statements from Ahdel:
I couldn't move my legs in any way that you asked me to now. Or anything else. I would just have to lie here.
I'm a game changer
I got a tomato from a neighbor's garden.
2-16-13 - Today begins Ahdel's 2nd month away from home. As Susan pointed out, it was a month ago yesterday I took her to the hospital for tests. She'd been confused, acting drunk. That passed in a week but she was weakened. Susan said it was the 5th of January, the day before she flew back to Oakland, that she had taken Ahdel out shopping and Ahdel had expressed an interest in the Pancake House where she ate so many Susan could hardly believe it. She reminded Ahdel of that on the phone this morning and Ahdel laughed remembering. Susan said she was going horseback riding today and Ahdel said she'd been wondering about that.
Read the card she got from niece Penny and family. Reviewed the flowers and who sent, pointing out that Charlotte had gone over them, changing water and getting rid of the worst. Many are still displayed though long gone as they still have form and color pleasing to the uncritical eye.
Ahdel occasionally waking, sometimes lucid, sometimes dreamy. A while ago she said something. I asked if she said "diversify" and she said, "Yes, I don't know why." And then, "Diversify life." Again I asked if that was what she said and she said, "Yes, I don't know why." Then, "This is bothering me." I asked What. "Non diversify." Soon she said, "It's hurting." I asked what was hurting her and she said, "What I said." Susan and I speculated about what all that might mean if it means anything and one thought was that maybe something is hurting her physically. Maybe so because she just said her foot hurts then, "Actually, both of them." Then she went to sleep.
2-15-13 - Ahdel's sitting up asking how long we have to wait. I told her Berry was coming. "You mean how long do we have to wait for Berry to come?" I asked. Something like that. I was taking a nap in the other bed when he called. She asks if we have a box with tissues. I tell her it's right in front of her. She finds it and grabs some and soon succesfully drops it in the wastebasket on the side of her bed. That's good. She can't always do that - pick it up or drop it. I can not predict what she'll be able to do or not do or how clear or awake she'll be. It's not on a straight course though of course she's gradually becoming weaker and weaker. When someone asked today if she'd eaten anything I said I was happy to keep answering that question but they don't have to ask it. The last bite she had was five days ago and there very few before that back to the 18th of January. Earl, the head hospice nurse came by. She probably still has a skip in her heartbeat but her vital signs are good. He talked about the other woman down the hall who's slowly weakening about the same as Ahdel except that her relatives are trying hard to get her to eat and drink more - putting purees and water in her mouth by the spoonful. Aas a result she's having a harder time, that Ahdel has clear lungs, no moisture buildup, no digestion and elimination problems. He said we're doing the right thing just responding to Ahdel's requests and not pushing it. She knows best. He said it's a hard thing for family's to accept.
2-14-13 - Happy Valentine's Day Katrinka. I miss you. Next, happy Valentine's day to everyone else. Just wished happy Valentine's day to Ahdel too. She said the same to me and that she's sorry she has nothing for me. I said that all I gave was a greeting so we're even. Anyway, I told her, I think of Valentines from a male chauvinist point of view, that's it's from males to females. That was reinforced in Japan where that was the rule with White Day being for women to give to men. I don't disparage these days because they were made popular by commercial interests. So was marriage. But maybe I have a positive take on Valentines because long ago mother made fascinating treasure hunts for Susan and me on that day.
Ahdel spoke with her son-in-law Don last night. I wonder what she was referring to when she said, "Please don't do that," and "Please don't tell her that." Don's a kidder. She also told him a couple of times, "I'm being very well taken care of." That is true.
I get asked a lot if she has eaten anything. Not recently, not much at all in a month now - yesterday was one month since this all began. She has mentioned cupcakes a few times since Elly's granddaughter or is that Ellie's granddaughter brought her one - she spit out the first bite with icing and ate the second which would have fit in a thimble. So I got a box of mini cupcakes from Tom Thumb (same as Safeway) last night, took out one and left the rest at the desk for staff, told Ahdel I had a cupcake, she said good, put a tiny bit on the end of a spoon, she asked shouldn't it be eaten by hand, I said this will work better, she tried it and reacted with disgust, spit it into a tissue I held, I helped her rinse her mouth out a couple of times, then she asked if she could have her mouth cleaned so I got an aide to do that. To her food is just a memory. But she's still saying she feels fine.
Connie and Pam dropped by, Ahdel was pleased to see them. We talked awhile and she went to sleep.
2-13-13 - Yesterday Ahdel mainly slept. In the early evening she was awake awhile and I read to her some quotes from Nisargadatta and then THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY of Dionysius the Areopagite. She had me stop and reread something a few times and by the end was asleep.
Today she's been more alert and stronger. She could hold my cell phone today to talk with Susan and her big sis Bruni.
Today a young woman in training was brought in to clean her mouth and teeth. I was taking a nap on the other bed and first they asked me if they could do that for me. I said sure. Then they realized I wasn't a patient and were embarrassed. At that point I suggested Ahdel.
Met the owner and director of Stonegate Nursing Center today, Kent McIntosh. His father owned the Carraige House, a fancy restaurant I remember going to as a kid. I told him I learned the other day from some of mother's visitors that Chadwick and Clarke owned the property so Ahdel was one of his father's landlords. Now the tables are turned. Then Ray and Johnny Clarke came in and said hi to Kent, they said hi to Ahdel who was happy to see them, and we went out to lunch and talked little about the little left of the business our fathers started.
2-12-13 - Early on yesterday Ahdel complained about her arm hurting but that stopped after she was moved some. It was the first day she didn't hold her water glass to sip through a straw, couldn't manage to get tissue out of the box. I'd help with that - she needs to spit into it and have mucous cleaned out of her mouth some. She said that must be unpleasant and I said it didn't bother me. The nurses and aids here clean her mouth every day. Mainly yesterday she slept, but she came to a bit and said hi to Dotty and would add comments to our conversation. After Dotty left the Pattons came in and then Susan Williams and Bob ? from the opera and Ahdel woke up more and enjoyed that visit.
I went out then to go through last week's mail, write checks, make a depostit, and eat out at Central Market. When I got back Ahdel went in and out of sleep for a few hours saying strange random things now and then. I caught something about "spirit primers" and "border pennies for your ears" and "Why doesn't somebody up there carry big people across the border?" Then "I don't know what people are talking about when they say pre learners? Do you?" I said I had no idea and she said her too. She asked if I could do something about that platter up there like put a price marker on it. I said I wouldn't know how to do that and she said, "I don't either. It's something very old." She called for me and asked where I was. I said I was right here and she glanced up and said oh yeah. She was talking in a crackling voice that would vacillate in octave and get uncharacteristically high. Susan said goodnight to her while I held the phone and then told me mother sounded like a witch from the movies. Mother said, "You can use your own words. You don't have to use their words. You can go ahead and do it now. You don't have to use a brand new word." Then she went back to sleep.
Today it's half past noon and she's just been sleeping, often breathing deeply with her mouth open. The only time she woke up was when Jo Ann, the hospice nurse came in to change and reposition her. Jo Ann asked her how she was and Ahdel said, "Oh, pretty good."
2-11-13 - Amazing that mother's engines keep running. I wonder where her energy comes from - and her good humor. She's had very little to eat in almost a month, hardly anything in over three weeks - mainly sips of water. She's getting weaker gradually and sleeping more. She's not delirious though like she was when she had the infection. In the hospital she would see things that weren't there all the time - like a bird up in the corner. I'd say, No that's in your imagination and she'd accept that. Sometimes back then she'd ask who I was. On the way to the hospital the first time she asked, "Do I call you Sonny Boy?" Back in the hospital after her temperature had peaked at over 105, she pointed to the ceiling and said she had to go up there to finish writing a check. The strangest was when she insisted I'd said I needed $177,000 to take those rugby players to New Zealand. And then there was her insistence on an undefined Plan 9 which was interesting because of the famous "worst movie of all time," Ed Woods' Plan 9 from Outer Space. For a while I wondered if it was true and if she was a part of some intergalactic conspiracy. Cousin Cathy mentioned how out there aunt Eleanor got when she had her infection last year.
Unlike Eleanor, Ahdel hasn't had the strength to recover from her infection, but she's not delirious any more - well, a tiny bit now and then. She saw a bird again yesterday on the wall and later money. One morning she woke up and asked me what I was doing here. But mainly she's pretty clear. The day before yesterday she worked with me on a word jumble and got the first three words right just listening to me call out the jumbled letters. Then she got the joke made up from selected letters in the unjumbled words. Question something like: What happened to the picnickers when it rained? Answer: wet appetites. We'll try today's jumble in a while.
Eleanor's granddaughter Candice came by yesterday with her friend Josiah. They're in Dallas. She brought, white flowers in a vase, a cupcake and a sweet card. While they were here, Louise Carvey came in with a card and chocolate for me and later neighbors Tom and Charlette Laker. We each had a chocolate ball (the type wrapped in gold foil), Ahdel a tiny piece, all she had to eat yesterday. Ahdel perked up for these visits and her mouth revealed a relaxed broad smile, a new expression that I've only seen in the last couple of weeks. "Everyone should have the friends we have," she said. The Lakers were on the way to Kelly DeGarmo's birthday party. When everyone was gone, Ahdel asked me to take some of her flowers to the DeGarmo's for Kelly's birthday.
2-09-13 - I'm on the nursing home diet. Bob and Jo Ann Patton visiting again asked mother, "How are you?" "Pretty good." He noted a lunch tray in front of me and asked if I was going to eat her lunch. "Yes," I said, "I eat all her food. Survival of the fittest." "Well, you're bigger than she is."
Susan reminded mother today's my 68th birthday. Ahdel said, "Oh, it's the 9th." Later she told me she'd like to give me $100 for my birthday but she can't get to her checkbook. I told her, That's okay, I can, and I am a signatory on your account. You are? Yes. Thanks mom. - dc
2-08-13 - Dropped Clay off at the airport this morning at a quarter to five. He's off to the Tucson Gem Fair.
For Ahdel today is like yesterday. She woke up later than usual, about nine, and was pretty energetic and talkative for a couple of hours then went back to sleep. Asked for Shredded Wheat and had a couple of small bites. But then it bothers her that she can't get it out of her mouth so I help her get her mouth rinsed out. I told her I'd get an aid to help her brush her teeth later. They do a better job than I do. And they don't have to worry about getting her to take her mediations because she isn't taking any.
She's breathing about 26 breaths a minute which is high and which she's been doing a lot for the last few days. But still no complaining about discomfort - and with having been constantly in bed for 24 days. Also, little sign of dissatisfaction. In a talk to sister Eleanor she said though that she's not doing as well, doesn't feel as good. First I've heard of that. Earlier she said that when she first got here she noticed people acting like they expected her to die and asked if there was something to that. I told her we'll see. She asked that again half an hour later and I told her she'd had kidney and respiratory infections and had been in the hospital a week and had temperature over 105. She'd forgotten all about that. I went on to say that she's in her 99th year and that her body, though especially strong for her age, would naturally have trouble regaining strength after what she'd been through, that it might depend on what she wants. She indicated she understood and didn't seem particularly concerned. I don't see much indication of her normally strong will. She seems to be going with the flow.
2-07-13 - Ahdel still holding court. Flowers abound from Rye and Jill and Trader Joe's too old to sell yesterday and Kay today. Ahdel has been sleeping more deeply but had a few conversions today with Susan, niece Barb, sister Elly, visitor Kay, big sis Bruni (who's Xmas card had her on a motorcycle with below the words, "Zoomin' to 100!" which she'll be in June.) Ahdel still says she feels fine, is mainly lucid even though she's hardly eaten anything for 20 days now, mainly sips of water. The hospice nurse says she's doing what comes naturally, that she couldn't handle much food. The other day a relative was encouraging her to eat and she said to me, "I don't think I'm playing their game." Kelly who flew out yesterday, Clay still here, and I were playing cards on the floor at the time. In a while she said, "I'm not playing your game."
2-06-13 - Reading Nisargadatta to Ahdel in hospice care, much of which is quite similar to the view of life, death, mind, and matter I was raised on which was New Thought Christianity in the lineage of Emerson and Thoreau. I like this Nisargadatta quote generator - just refresh the page and a new quote arises. - Thanks to Andrew in Santa Fe for reminding me of this great sage. Here's a page with some quotes and a photo of him standing in front of a picture of Ramana Maharshi - and we'll read some from him too - just a bit now and then.
This morning Ahdel slept later than usual, when she woke had some sips of water and soon asked for more Shredded Wheat with half and half and brown sugar. She's almost never asked for anything. She took five small bites. She didn't like it much but thought she should eat something. She enjoyed having Kelly and Clay around yesterday and was most pleased when Dr. Greg Phillips dropped by. Billy Stone was here too. She's had a little trouble recognizing Clay, thought he was Camille when he said goodnight.
She was weighed yesterday. I let them because it's good for her to move or be moved. Was surprised how little she objected to being put on a canvas and then hoisted up. A week ago she would have protested. She weighed 88 pounds, down 15 from January 17th, just three of that in the last week. Being moved was the only time she's ever complained. Not only has she always said she feels fine, except for the first couple of days back in mid January, she's maintained a good sence of humor and seems perfectly satisfied to be right where she is.
2-05-13 - Sons Kelly from Spokane and Clay from SFO arrived last night one minute and three gates apart. We left the airport after midnight and got to sleep at three. They're walking here now from Ahdel's house. She'll be glad to see them. Had to remind her yesterday a couple of times what their relationship to her is. Despite that sort of occasional breach, Ahdel had a strong day yesterday and was doing well this morning. Her color is better, she is clearer, able to carry on more normal conversations, and there were moments of her humor that made me laugh out loud, somewhat because of her tone of voice. For instance, usually she doesn't have a clear sense of place, just knows she's not at home, but yesterday, at least at times, she said that there must be a bill for remaining here. I told her we don't have to think about that now. She asked how I knew. I said, "I know everything." She said, "Well, you're very lucky."
Her sisters have been urging her to eat something - like milkshakes. Day before I told mother to say she'll drink a milkshake after she goes jogging. She has hardly had anything in 18 days now, mainly sips of water. Bruni suggested cereal, maybe Grapenuts. I told her she'd do that after weightlifting. Sounded like she thought I was serious. I'm happy when Ahdel can hold her own water glass. Ahdel thought maybe that cereal was a good idea, asked me what was the cereal she liked. I told her before all this happened it was Shredded Wheat. She asked if they had that here and half and half and brown sugar. They didn't. I said I'd go get it. She thought that was too much trouble. I went home, came back, gave her a half filled teaspoon of Shredded Wheat with brown sugar and whole milk. After a while she tried another then asked for half and half. I hadn't thought she'd notice. Went out and got some. She had one small bite and indicated that was enough. After that though she said that the water finally didn't taste bad. She almost always says everything including water tastes bad. It's after noon and she hasn't wanted anything yet but some sips of water. I'll try the half and half with Shreaded Wheat or without later. She's in charge. She's been clear about what she's doing and not doing all along though she doesn't give detailed explanation. We offer but don't pressure. Went over all this with her hospice nurse and conferred with an experience friend. Anyway, her lucidity yesterday and today has been most welcome.
2-04-13 - Added a few photos and links to some prior material below.
Eight AM - Ahdel just woke up. I opened the curtains - overcast - and said, "Good morning. How are you?" She said, "Good."
Daughter Susan and granddaughter Camille left at noon yesterday for Oakland and Washington DC. When Camille kissed Ahdel goodbye and said, "I love you," Ahdel said, "Not anymore than I love you." Connie Stevens picked them up and we managed not to cry as we said farewells. They both plan to return very soon. Tonight late, sons Kelly (39) and Clay (21) arrive.
Ahdel perked up for a couple of visits - the Pattons in the afternoon and Pat Rose during halftime who's continued to clean mother's house and help her out for years even though she has a demanding job with GM. Recently Pat's been flying to Detroit Mondays and returning Fridays. She calls mother her mother.
While Susan and Camille were still here Susan confirmed that yes, the Baltimore team was named after a poem - The Raven, written in that city. I showed off reciting some of Poe's verses. Somehow that led to Ogden Nash - read a couple of his off the web then recited Bohemian Joe Gould's sole remaining work:
In the winter I'm a Buddhist
That led mother to offer:
In the summer I want to sing
She followed that with:
It must be time to sing
2-03-13 - Yesterday when Steve and Pam Smith visited, Steve said as part of a semi serious banter they were exchanging, they want to know exactly how she felt. "Exactly," she said a few times to herself, "That would be hard to put into words."
Below inserted a poem sent to Ahdel by her devoted son-in-law Don Koue.
2-02-13 - When asked how she is this morning, Ahdel answered, "Pretty good." Then she had some water and Ravel piano played by her close friend Minoru Nojima, runner up in the 2nd (I think) Van Cliburn piano competion. Susan's daughter Camille arrived last night and we hung out here with mother till just before ten.
Camille said, "Want me to show you something funny?"
Ahdel: Is it a picture of your face?
On the flip side of that, Susan showed Ahdel a picture of Ahdel and Camille. Ahdel said, "Beauty and the Beast."
2-01-13 - Ahdel took a 2nd wheelchair trip yesterday, driven by Susan with me cruising alongside. Visited the cockatoos in the activity area. As we went past a number of old people in wheelchairs she said, "I wouldn't want to live here."
As always, Ahdel says she's fine when asked this morning. When this is said, people tend to say that she doesn't like to complain. That's true but she'll say if there's anything bothering her. For instance, just about anytime someone tries to give her something to eat or drink, she'll make a face or complain that it's bitter - water too. If she's not comfortable she says so.
She wanted her glasses first thing this morning though she can't read more than a few words, hasn't been able to since this all started 19 days ago. She just held them and went to sleep. Her infections seem to be gone. Hospice classifies Ahdel's condition as failure to thrive. One visitor yesterday was shocked at how weak Ahdel was, how faint her voice, low her energy, and said somewhat shocked, "She was so strong and alert just a few weeks ago." She greeted a couple with, "I'm going to sleep now" and another, after a minute with, "Goodbye." She did get a few answers right to the word jumble - Susan reading the letters to her. Another visitor the day before told mother how good she looked. "Nothing serious," she replied.
1-31-13 - Ahdel sat up this morning and asked, "What are you doing here?" After some conversation on that and where she was, she said she wanted to get up. She had help putting her in a wheelchair and I took her on a tour of this facility then she went back to bed and sleep. Susan's here now with some dry shampoo and CDs for the player from the activity room She put on Ralph Votapek plays Gershwin sent to her by Ralph who won the first Van Cliburn contest. "Don't fail to listen to this. It's played very nicely," she just said. Susan is much more attentive to Ahdel than I am. I'd neglected to open the curtains and let the sun in. She got some dry shampoo and is going to fix Ahdel's hair. She's giving her some tangerine now.
Ahdel was in good form yesterday, talked to both sisters and all three grandkids, and had numerous visitors which she enjoyed a great deal.
The Applemans, a young couple she knows from the Opera were standing above her bed and she said, "I'm going to close my eyes now." She closed her eyes then opened them and with a mischievous look said, "I thought that would get a dramatic response."
The Campbells from across the street came. He's got a nursery and
brought some beautiful baby roses in a vase. Earl said, "You're in the
best place in town."
Berry Woodson brought some orchids. He and his wife Dotty grow them by the thousands. One of them was a hybrid he'd named for an opera tenor.
These flowers joined the chorus of the red-tipped yellow roses from Katrinka, a colorful boquet from Ward and another from the Opera, some from Jackie and Charlotte next door who came again in the evening with her husband, daughter and son. I'll stop naming visitors here.
I was telling Berry a story while Ahdel slept - it was fairly dark. Then I heard her voice, "Would you please change the topic of conversation?" I remembered Lew Richmond saying that he heard what people were saying around him while he was in a coma and much of it irritated him no end. I offered her more ice water.
1-30-13 - Mother knows what she wants, mainly to rest and sleep. She always says she feels fine unless she's being moved. She's easy to communicate with about essentials. Incidental information might be lacking but the basics are strong - as in the following exchanges from two days ago.
DC: Where are you?
DC: Where specifically?
Ahdel: Where my voice is coming from
In Harris Hosital an experienced nurse said he'd never had a patient her age who wasn't taking any medicine. I said that except for some anemia in November and a mild flu in June, I can't recall her ever being sick.
Hospice nurse Earl and Ahdel:
Earl: We'd like to give you a little something to make you feel better. May we?
Ahdel: Not much.
Earl: You won't even realize it.
Ahdel: That's the kind of medicine I've taken all my life - the kind you don't realize.t
Earl didn't give her anything but asked: Is it alright if I take your blood pressure?
Ahdel: I'd be charmed.
Ahdel did the word jumble in the paper every day before something happened seventeen days ago. She isn't looking at newspapers now. But Susan gave her two jumbled words orally that she got right away -NUPRE and DUPPE.
1-29-13 - Ahdel is the same age as Mitsu Suzuki, widow of my teacher, Shunryu Suzuki.
1-28-13 - Ahdel, now in hospice care, talked to her younger sister who said she sounded better. Ahdel said If I sound better then I should be in the hospital all the time. (She's in a nursing home now and usually isn't sure where she is.) She just talked to both sisters on the phone. Daughter Susan who arrived last night has been sitting by her. Ahdel looked at me and said, "David, when there's time, I'd like to go back to bed and go to sleep. I've been having trouble sleeping. " I told her she was in bed and that she'd go right to sleep soon. - dc
1-27-13 - Odyssey Hospice will arrive at noon to access Ahdel's situation. An hour ago she said she felt fine. Refused all but a little coffee and water. - dc
1-26-13 - Mother Ahdel back in nursing home. Still not eating much of
anything but alert, comfortable if not being moved, and in good humor.
This morning occupational therapist took her back to room in wheel chair
and said to her, "Now I'll help you lay down."
A NURSIE RHYME
Into the room you go. Why?
Where's the Shakespeare? Fie.
Then let the noise not be high,
1-25-13 - Back to the nursing home and rehabilitation. Hospital good. Nursing home good. So much skilled and kind help. Nice places to work too. Lots of good women. Men too. - dc
1-24-13 - Ahdel doing better but hardly eating. Wonderful care in Harris Hospital. Nice place to work too. - dc
1-21-13 - Ahdel is still getting better. Could hold a glass by herself to drink. Was helped into chair for inaugural and recognized Obama and Clinton. Asked where Hoover was. Drifted off. Likes calls and visits.
1-20-13 - In the hospital room - Ahdel is better. 49ers game. We haven't been in this building together since I was born. - dc
1-19-13 - Ahdel Update - Mother, 98, was in the nursing home Tuesday eve till Friday (1-18) afternoon, yesterday, when they sent her back to the emergency room due to her condition deteriorating. The nurse thought for sure she had an infection such as of the urinary track. That's what the nurse at the ER Tuesday had thought but they hadn't found anything., Yesterday her temperature got to 105.1 and her blood pressure upper number went from over 220 to 70. She has been pretty out of it but we can communicate some even through the difficult times. Since Sunday night, the 13th, she hasn't been able to do much of anything without help, she's been disoriented, can't make sense of the newspaper, gets panicky occasionally thinking she's falling, gets into occasional trembling and shaking, but is usually cooperative and uncomplaining, whispers she feels okay. She's congested today, in a hospital room, gurgling some. She sleeps a lot. Spending most my time with her - reading, on the computer, sleeping in a chair, standing next to her, not talking much. Neither of us are stressed, sometimes I get a little teary though - like when a jazz musician in the nursing home was playing some of our favorites (like Gershwin), songs that are some of my oldest memories, or when a doctor in the ER yesterday asked permission to do a more invasive test. and I said if there's a chance it can lead to her doing the word jumble and being independent again. We agreed to wait. She's indicated she knows my sister Susan and I can take care of any business that's holding her back. She has always had a positive view of death as a passing on to another place, was always (in my memory) into reincarnation and her own brand of transcendentalism. But we don't know what's to come here in Fort Worth. The hospital is great. The nursing home staff were wonderful. We're in the old building. This is the building where I was born. Don't think we've been here together in almost 68 years.
1-15-13 - Took mother Ahdel, 98, to Harris Hospital in Fort Worth this morning because she had been disoriented and unable to take care of herself. Sunday at five pm I left for a pot luck dinner with the Marie Kannon Zen Center in Dallas. She'd been working on a word puzzle and I commented on how well she was doing. I returned to find her on the floor, confused and unable to get up. I helped her up but soon she'd fallen again. The good and bad news is they've found nothing wrong with her here. Bad because there's nothing to work with. Usually active, she's. been sleeping all day. It's dinnertime and she hasn't eaten since yesterday morning, is weak, needs help to do anything. She's getting discharged from the hospital. More than I can deal with alone, unsure of the situation. Going to drive her from here to a skilled nursing facility near home. I can hang out there and work and read. Hope to get her home in a day or few and have a home care person lined up if that seems necessary. Meanwhile, I've enjoyed sitting here reading all day, taking breaks to walk around, one to the spacious luxury hotel like lobby with art, sculpture, menu posted for cafe downstairs where I sat by a pool and garden and ate surprisingly good food. Darkness is approaching. Love the staff here. Love Medicare. - dc
PHOTOS - more to come -
lots of photos on Picasa
Halloween 2012 (thanks Jenifer Moore)
L to R - Grandsons Clay Chadwick and Kelly Chadwick, Don Koue (son-in-law), Camille Koue (granddaughter) , Riley Lochridge (sis' grandson), Susan Chadwick (daughter), David Chadwick (son), Daya Goldschlag (mother of Kelly), Katrinka McKay (David partner) with Ahdel at her 95th birthday celebration. August, 2009, Napa, CA.
More photos of this event on Facebook.
To be ninety-five - a poem by Ahdel Chadwick on her birthday
According to White Pages dot com, she is the only Ahdel Chadwick listed in the US.
Ahdel Dressed up to go to the Mobster's Ball for the Fort Worth Opera with Louise Carvey Saturday night the September 16th, 2012. - photo by Charlotte Laker
8-13-12 - Happy birthday mother Ahdel Chadwick, born 98 years ago today. Thanks from all of us for agreeing to stop driving.
[posted that on the What's New and Family pages here on cuke.com] Ahdel stopped driving in June. She hit a tree in the drive on her way out. Ruben at the Texaco station knocked the flexible plastic bumper back out.
Ahdel with her little sis, Eleanor, on the right, and big sis, Bruni below, taken last year in Ohio. Ahdel doesn't like this photo. Taken fall 2011 in Akron, Ohio.
7-02-12 - Fort Worth Report: Ahdel (mother) reports for cataract surgery at 6 this morning.
12-15-11 - Today from 4 - 6pm at my mother, Ahdel Chadwick's, home in Fort Worth, TX, there will be a celebration of the life of Richard Whinery.
9-10-11 - AKRON - At a family event in Akron where Aunt Eleanor's family is centered. She's so youthful, 11 years younger than mother Ahdel who's 97 (see recent piece on her). I can't believe how sharp my 98 year old aunt Bruni (Brunhilde) is - reads science journals. Her name is almost the combo of her parents' and my mother's parents' names, Bruno and Hulda. In Germany I liked telling people that I was pure German on my mother's side. Her maiden name is Reich. Among the small square tiles in the Reich's entryway floor of their home built in the nineteen twenties were what I thought were little swastikas but which Susan says were the opposite direction. My grandfather worked at and inherited the Reich Bakery in Fort Worth. Germans are proud of their bread and so I'd proudly say I was descended from a line of German bakers. Her mother's maiden name was Smallfield. She taught society ladies fine embroidery and said she didn't believe the terrible things they were saying about that nice Mr. Hitler. It only occurred to me in recent years that my mother's parents may have felt a great shame for what Germans had done to their once proud heritage. - dc
photo by Smiley
photos by Camille Koue posted 2-10-13
Left Ahdel with Camille.
Other photo from L to R, Susan Motheral, Margie Wilchar, DC and DC mate Katrinka McKay, Ahdel.
Ahdel, Susan, Camille, David on New Year's Eve this year - 51 days ago (posted 2-20-13)
Ahdel and husband Kelly
Ahdel's parents, Bruno and Hulda Reich in their backyard
Bruno C. Reich, Jr., his father, Bruno C. Reich and his mother, Sophie Krautter Reich
Ahdel's maternal grandparents, Emma and William Henry Smallfield, in front of their home on stop 6 of the interurban streetcar.
I remember Granny Hulda's siblings Aunt Ella and Uncle
Hugo (who lived with her after her husband Bruno died in 1964)
Bruno and Hulda taken, Kal Plegar believes, before they were married. They had Brunhilde, Ahdel, and Eleanor. Bruni married Karl Plegar and begat Penny, Karl, and Phillip. Ahdel married Kelly Chadwick and begat Susan and David. Eleanor married Walt Griffith and begat Kathy, Barb, Amy, and Walt. I'll bet Karl could send the whole tree after that.
Bruno with Ahdel and her big sis Brunhilde
Kelly Chadwick, Brunhilde and Karl Plegar Sr., Hulda, Bruno, Eleanor Reich (future Griffith) - Maybe this photo was taken by Ahdel.
Ahdel at a celebration of Eleanor's birthday at Phil's on Canandaigua Lake on 8-28-2000 - photo by Karl Plegars
Kelly and I had just driven in with baby Clay from Santa Fe where we'd shaved our heads at a party of young people Kelly's age. July 1993. - photo by Raymond Rimmer
More on Ahdel on the Family page.
Even more more on this page of Ahdel photos added 4-19-13
This page started 1-30-13
Notes to include
Her mate of two decades, Dick Whinery, died 12-05-11.
Her mate of 17 years, John Farley, died in early 1988.