It’s All In The Family

I started looking at family pictures recently and when I saw this picture of my Grandfather Prussman’s sister, Katchen, I was blown away at the family resemblance with both my mother and me.

Prussmann Family (2)

This is Katchen at about 4-5 years old. She had chestnut brown hair and big brown eyes. She was Papa’s baby sister and he adored her. She was born in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany, came to Boston as a child, married and tragically died in the Influenza Epidemic of 1918.

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This is my Mom. Light brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a simple and sweet expression. Much like her Aunt Katchen. Mom was a shy woman, although many people would disagree with this. She volunteered for everything and she tried very hard to make people happy with her cooking and her way of welcoming people into her home.

img077And this is me. Lighter brown hair, and dark brown eyes. Papa often mentioned his sister Katchen to me, telling me that I had chocolate brown eyes just like his sister, and Grandma Honey remarked that I looked very much like her. I never thought about this until I held the three pictures together and I saw the familial link.

Since I never met Katchen I can only wonder about what she was like. She was best friends with my grandmother and very close until Katchen’s rather untimely death. I imagine that Katchen must have been a lot of fun since Grandma was.

Happy Birthday, Grandma Honey

1. She was born February 4, 1898. Her parents George and Sarah named her Mary Francis Daniell.

2. She had two sisters, Sarah Mathilda, the oldest, whom we all called Tilly, and Marionette, who chose to move away and never have much to do with any of the family.


Marionette, Tilly, seated and my very blond grandmother.

3. She met my Grandfather when she was 8 or 9 years old. His family moved into her neighborhood and Gram became best friends with his sister, Katchen. Gram taught them to speak English, as they were from Germany and didn’t speak a bit of English when they arrived.

4. Papa fell instantly in love with her and pursued her all through their teens. (Today we would call this stalking! LOL)

5. Her father insisted she finish college before she even considered marriage. He wanted Papa to go to college too. And he did!

6. They married right after graduation on June 1, 1921, and were married for over 65 years before she passed away.

7. They had one son, Robert and my mother, Rosamond. They always thought of Tilly’s son George as their own too. They adored him.

8. Gram taught school in the Boston Public Schools. She taught 5th grade and she also taught Special Education.

9. She was a member of the DAR, The Eastern Star and worked for the Christian Science Monitor in Boston.

10. She was always busy working for charities and I can’t recall a time until she was very old that she actually rested.

11. She adored her grandchildren, there were five of us, Carl, Erica, my brother Richard, sister Melodie and yours truly!

12. She made the best cookies and also warm milk with honey and a pat of butter in it. To this day it calms me.

13. Sadly, she passed December 2, 1984. I feel lucky to have had such a great and wonderful grandmother.

14. So, Happy Birthday to my dearest Grandma Honey in Heaven. I miss you each and every day, but carry your love with me everywhere!

 

 

 

Life’s Journey

Life is strange, isn’t it? One moment you are plodding along, everything is so normal that it’s almost boring.

Then one day you answer your phone and the world as you know it, changes forever.

And so it was,  on the weekend right after Thanksgiving, when I answered my phone and heard Candy’s panicked voice.

She’d gone to the Walk-in Clinic for a bad cold, and as she left she was told to call her doctor on Monday

After that, her life, and the lives of all the people who love her came to a screeching halt.

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Candy and her husband and their family. Especially her beloved pup, Aurora.

We all held our breath and prayed that the diagnosis was wrong. That somehow the Universe had messed this all up.

But as the days passed, it became clear that this was our new reality.

I admit to standing in my living room and swearing and crying before my trip to Florida began. I prayed that I would make it to her side in time. Things were happening so fast, I wasn’t sure if I would.

But on January 23rd, when I walked into her twin sister, Mary’s home, and knelt by her bed, I thanked God I had gotten there.

She was still able to sit and eat small amounts.  Mary and I gave her anything she wanted.

We talked, we were peaceful, we held hands, and watched our favorite TV shows, like Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune,  The Property Brothers, (also twins!) And Love it or List It. Making comments, usually, one-word comments, during each show.

My room was next to hers and I noticed we both were sleeping with the TV on, as was Mary.

Sometimes I got up in the night just to check on her. Just to see her face.

We all held onto each other as we began the walk down this bumpy road. We tried to keep it all together, but tears flowed many times.

And then something amazing happened. We began to talk about her forthcoming death, but with no anger, no sadness, but with the love and friendship and the life we have shared all these years.

We laughed, we joked, we shared so many wonderful feelings and stories of days gone by, and told each other how we felt.

Oh my goodness, I am blessed beyond measure!

I’ve learned so much on this journey.  I’ve learned how very precious life is and how we should celebrate our loved ones each and every day. Make sure to let people know how much you value their presence in your life, and never take for granted the people around you that bring you joy!

I am on the bus now on my way from Boston, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire.  It’s freezing cold here, but very soon I will be home with my hubby and three precious pups!

For me, my journey continues,  but I hope to make it an even better life after everything Candy has taught me.

 

 

Thoughts on a Wednesday

I lived in Punta Gorda, FL for six years back in the 1990s. My first friend here was Candy. I met her at Church as we both sang in the choir. It’s funny how quickly we knew each other. It was like two souls that had been together at some other place and time, were once again reunited.

Our first couple of years Candy sat next to me and we sang together. We even sang a couple of duets. She was so good, with pitch-perfect tone and it was easy for me to follow her.

Then the last choir director left and Candy became our organist Choir Master. She was amazing. She picked wonderful hymns and knew how to work them over with the choir.

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Candy and Me. Back in the day.

So, yesterday, as I drove down US 41 to US 17 and out to Arcadia, where she is now in hospice, I was recalling so much of our time together.

Most of good old Punta Gorda was washed away during Hurricane Charley, but there were many areas I still recalled. Things that had not changed.

Yet, now, as I drove out to Arcadia, I knew that everything is about to change for me, in regard to this special place.

Getting the Governmental System to allow Candy back into Hospice was not easy. It angers and frustrates me to see that a person needs to be suffering and because an i wasn’t dotted or a t crossed, things will not be done! I think the part that makes me even wilder is that while people suffer, our esteemed Government does nothing to hold the insurance companies accountable!

In any case, after several hours of talking to Nurses, Doctors and Social Workers, Candy’s sister got her back into Inpatient Hospice Care.

I’m relieved. I leave tomorrow to return to New Hampshire, and I was so worried about who would be with her during the days. Now I know she will be well cared for.

Of course, today, when I go out to Arcadia again, it will be one of my hardest days. When I leave Candy today, it will be the last time I see her in this world. I am planning for tears, and I am expecting a downtime until I can compose myself and then drive the 40 minutes back to Punta Gorda.

Life is never guaranteed. None of us know when our last day will be. This is why I believe that we must make every day count and make sure those that we love know how we feel.

Quiet Days

My day started with me groggily getting up and going in to check on my friend, Candy. It was only when I started talking that I realized that I still had my bite guard in! I guess I am used to it.

The day was overcast and cold once again, which is fine as I have some warm clothes with me.

Candy’s husband and step daughter arrived for a short visit. It was nice to see them.

And right around noon the minister from Candy’s church came with communion.  I felt very emotional and I admit to crying just a bit. I am, however,  so glad he came.

The home health nurse will come today. I am not sure how much she can do as Candy cannot move much.

I leave on Thursday for home and I wish I wasn’t going back right now.

This is so very hard.

 

Grateful

Life has slowed down right now. There is no rushing around, and much of the time the only sound I hear is the whooshing noise that the oxygen machine makes.

My friend’s sister and I make meals, drink coffee, and keep my darling friend, Candy as comfortable as we can.

Yesterday she asked for few things to eat and we sprung into action.

She remembered my Seafood Lasagna,  so we grabbed all the ingredients for that and made it for dinner. She only ate a few bites, but she smiled the entire time.

I bought some fresh German Klosterbrot and a very fine Leberwurst, and she had small bites of that too!

Since this fabulous German Butcher Shop is so close, I also bought some Leberkase.  Today I will cook a small piece for her with an egg.

We’ve told her anything she wants she can have. Seeing her smile makes it all worth it.

At first we talked quite a bit,  but it’s hard for her to talk now. Mostly she sleeps.

I am just happy to be here, with her, caring for her.

I return to New Hampshire on Thursday. It will be my hardest goodbye ever.

But I am so grateful for this this time. In the years to come I will know the great love we have shared this week.

What Really Matters

I read a book once, written by Charles Krauthammer called “Things That Matter”.

I read it as he used his older articles to convey what is truly important in life.

Many people will never get it. Many people will live totally self centered lives and never know the special friendship where you give yourself totally to a loved one, during their final days

I have been blessed. Not only have I enjoyed a close and loving friendship for 25 years with my friend, but right now, I am able to be here to give her love, support, and quiet peace.

I am so thankful for this. There are times when special people pass from this life to the next and you never have the chance to tell them how special they are and how much you love them. I have been given this gift and in the quiet of her room, when she sleeps or wakes, I am here.

So what really matters in this crazy world?

Love. Selfless, pure, gentle love.

Someone wrote once if you were lucky to know a true selfless love, you were the luckiest person alive.

I have been  very lucky my friends! Very lucky, indeed!

Life

The Disney trip is over and I drove down to Port Charlotte to be with my dearest friend. She is quite ill and seems to be fading fast.

I know deep in my heart that I am right where I should be.

Mostly I sit quietly. Occasionally, my friend wants to talk. But not for long.

I’ve been given a great gift. The chance to really be with my friend.

Life can be so complicated some times,  but right now it is plain and simple.

I am sharing and caring for this special person at a time when she really needs it the most.

I am so grateful!

Happy Birthday, Melodie!

Growing up I was very lucky to have a big sister who took care of me. She loved me, nurtured me, and made sure my needs were met. And she was just 5 and a half years older than me.

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Yet, all my life, she has been there for me, as a sister, substitute mother, and best friend. How lucky I am!

So today, on her birthday, I want to make sure you all know what a wonderful sister I have and how much I wish her a very Happy Birthday!!!

Mel’s Birthday from Dackel Princess Maribeth on Vimeo.

Past, Present & Future

First I will apologize for not getting pictures yesterday. But from the time we hugged hello until the time we hugged goodbye, we talked and talked and somehow forgot.

It was amazing how time seemed to melt away, as the three of us sat talking about, life, past, present, and future.

I could recall the days when we were kids and had playdates. We ran across the grass near the chapel and parsonage. We sang int he children’s choir, and we played silly games. We also sang fun songs and just plain enjoyed being friends at such a young age.

Both women are teachers. One teaches music to little ones in Preschool to 3rd grade. The other teaches High School Latin! Which brought up the subject of our much loved Latin teachers in High School. Mr. & Mrs. Phillips. They not only taught Latin, but I actually had Mr. Phillips for US History. We all agreed that these two were very special people.

The time flew by. It really did and before I knew it two hours had gone by and it was time to say farewell. Since they do get up this was from time to time, we agreed to do this again.

I can hardly wait!