Tuesday, February 23, 2010
There are a number of considerations we have when looking for a house. We need a bedroom for each family and another for the kids. That is five bedrooms, minimum. We also enjoy having a large gathering place in the house so folks can talk while cooking and having dinner. A table big enough for all of us to eat at the same time would be wonderful. We definitely need a beach nearby for the kids to swim and ideally a fire pit so we can spend the evening outside around a fire. The house we saw had the beach, gathering place and fire pit but only four bedrooms. That means someone had to sleep on the futon. And although Jeanne and I were willing to sleep in the room with the bunk beds (hence with the kids), the price of the house ($3500 for the week), was too much for what we were giving up. So, Jeanne got on the computer and after another extensive search, we now have two other options we will be looking at this weekend.
The first is in New London, about 95 miles north and west of the Cities. This home has 8 bedrooms, dishwasher, and 3 bathrooms, with ac. It includes a walkout patios facing Norway Lake from dining room and family room in basement. It is part of a resort, which has both it’s up and down sides.
The second is on Cedar Lake. We would have to rent two homes since none of the houses are big enough to allow all of us to have a bed room. Having said that, the place has a big beach, is private, not a resort, and has a fire pit and lots of room for the kids to play. This is not the most ideal, but we started our search a little late and have to make do with what is available.
This weekend we plan on traveling to both sites and make a final decision. We have asked both parties to pencil us in until the weekend. If you want to check out the two places go to> http://www.northlandcabincare.com/rental/cedar_lake_estate/index.html for the two cabins and to http://www.sunsetshoresresort-mn.com/layout.htm for the Minnesota cabin.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
My family of origin is just not close at all. My sister has never been to our home in Minnesota. My brother, Jeff, came only because the national organization of chiefs of police had their convention in Minnesota one year and in our almost forty years of marriage, my mother has only visited us four times (maybe). In all fairness, the road goes both ways and Jeanne and I have limited our visits to my family as well, which is to say, we are not a close family.
Jeanne and I wanted to make sure we raised a family a lot closer than mine so about seven years ago with Mike's help, we organized our first family get together or as Jeanne calls it, a family re-union. Our first trip was to Utah. Scott and Tami live in Salt Lake City and Mike’s college roommate's family owned a beautiful home at Park City. We borrowed the home for a week and everyone had a great time. There was lots of wine, talk, food and just reconnecting which is important when we are spread out across the country in Minnesota, Chicago and Utah.
The next year, Jeanne and I rented a large home in Florida so my mother could be part of the party. Each day we would pick her up and bring her to the house where she would reconnect to her grandkids and great grandkids. Sometime during this visit, Scott expressed a desire to have a reunion in Minnesota where his daughters could have the same north woods experiences he had as a child. When the boys were younger, we spent just about every weekend up north in our camper. It must have been a memorable time in his young life to have him asks that his daughters experience a similar encounter with north Minnesota. So, after Florida, it was off to Holiday Resort outside of Garrison for another week together, this time in northern Minnesota. Since we were in Minnesota, we invited some aunts, uncles and cousins to join us. They came and we had a excellent week. Since then we have been to Cape Cod, and back to Florida and Utah and now back to Minnesota.
We have rented a large home on Lake Minnwawa outside of Brainerd. The house has three bedrooms, a loft and a den and can sleep 14 to 18 people. Like years past, we will be inviting cousins, uncles and any other family member who would like to join us for the day or the week. Renting the homes is not cheap, nor is the cost of travel for a family of four from Utah, but it is an investment in keeping our family a family.
There is a movie: Mr. Holland Opus. In the show, the main character is a music teacher who spends his life teaching high school kids and never finishes his music masterpiece. As he is getting ready to retire, the community gives him a “retirement party.” At that party one of his students says that although Mr. Holland never completed his music masterpiece, his real Opus are the students he taught. I feel that way. I love to sit in a corner watching our children, they are our Opus. They have grown up to be wonderful husbands, and fathers and are raising amazing children. I wonder where they learned all that they do as adults. I hope some of it came from us.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
So, of course, Mom wanted to know options:
- A hysterectomy - surgical removal of the uterus and ovaries - not a viable option for a woman her age who had just suffered a mild heart attack.
- Just leave it be as it is - it may grow slowly or it may be an aggressive form of cancer (we'll know Monday which kind it is) - symptoms may be mild as they are now, or there may be heavier bleeding and discomfort.
- A targeted series of radiation treatments - three or four times - targeted directly at the tumor - not to eliminate it, but to "keep it at bay", not growing any larger.
The doctor also discussed DNR and DNI directives with Mom (do not resuscitate and do not intubate) - that they needed to be updated so that Millstream Commons staff and family know her wishes - let's say they/we find her on the floor or unconscious...then what?
Finally, she talked to Mom (and us) very frankly about locating a hospice - particularly if the results are serious. She said that hospice care is very good, not only for a patient dealing with end-of-life issues, but also for family members. For a patient, it helps remove or alleviate the fear of death. For family members it allows for the discussion of end-of-life issues.
Mom took this all in very rationally - says that at this point she will leave it alone. The doctor said that could be her desire now, but not to worry about changing her mind. Mom agreed to update her DNR and DNI directives. As to the hospice, both Sue and I feel that this is premature (Sue says that there is a good hospice unit in Faribault, if that time comes).
So, what do I feel about all of this? It sort of feels unreal...I cannot imagine my Mom not being around...she is my best friend (next to Bob) and offers me a listening heart and unconditional love. I want for her not to suffer and to spend her last days/months/years in a respectful and dignified manner - as a matriarch deserves. It's difficult to see her start slipping...God be with her on this journey.