Monday, August 22, 2011

surprising myself

Am totally surprised at how I am unable to repost what was written since July 29th - too close to the heart to deal with as I actually live over the days we were living it ten years ago. When I'm able, will get them up. Won 't be "real time" but will be real life.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wonder Woman - 07/31/01

Subject:  Wonder Woman

Date: July 31, 2001
That sums up Mom. Here she is, 91 with a fractured neck
(2 dislocated vertebrae - C1 and C2) and other unconfirmed
problems plus the usual assortment of health glitches that
come with being an "ancient one," and from all accounts
(Whitney's, Peter's and the nurse's) she is doing remarkably
well. Hear tell she ate almost all of her lunch & drank

all of her coffee and ate almost all of her dinner & drank
all of her coffee. Delightful surprise - the doctors are ap-
parently talking
about physical rehab and have give the
green light to
transfer her to a regular unit as soon as a bed
is available!
We'll miss the ICU nursing staff - especially
Jessie - who've given excellent care.

Going with the premise she'll be out of ICU in couple days,
it should be okay to send cards et al (verboten in ICU).
You'll have gotten/be getting an invit' to sign aboard Mom's

family & friends website at - KRL's Family Circus.
Thank goodness we got it up and running - if not populated -
two weeks ago as part of a journaling circle I facilitiated.
It'll have daily updates from Whitney or myself (albeit 2nd
hand from moi). I hope to get some pictures of Mom up on it

too, if anyone out there has a scanner.

We figured that she's getting MORE visitors than if she was

in Bryn Athyn. I could only go after work, whereas Whitney
works just 15 minutes away from the hospital. Mom has her
"angel child" - Erin - more or less in the area. Peter was down
there from last Sunday afternoon to tomorrow. Reynolds just

arrived home from Montana and I understand he is heading
down tomorrow. Bob and Kathryn & kinder were able to drop
by for a visit this afternoon before heading back home to
Newcastle, CA via BWI - - what timing!!

Even though it leaves me with just 3 vacation days for the rest

of the year, I took today off to recuperate from driving. John
offered to drive yesterday, but I drove all the way home.

Back to the coal mines, as Mom says, tomorrow.

from ELM - Mom sitting up!!

Subject: Mom Sitting Up!
Date: July 30, 2001

When we left Alexandria Hospital at 12:30 p.m., Mom
was more or less asleep. Jessie, her wonderful ICU
nurse, had a difficult time waking her up. She tried
"Katharine" - no luck. But "Mrs. Lockhart" seems to
work like a charm - maybe she should try "Pete's Wife"
and see what happens!

Most of what Mom said when she was semi-awake was
inaudible, but there were three things she clearly
said when I was there. When she first woke up and saw
it was her co-Squirrel Havenites, she got this sweet
smile and asked, "Do you like my new dress?" A hospital
gown had replaced the nightgown she was wearing at ad-
mission and through most of yesterday.

Later, when I was getting ready to say my goodbyes,
I promised to get her a big bowl of vanilla ice cream
when she gets back home. She fluttered her eye lips a
bit at that and said, "You're killing me." Forgot that
on the drive down, she'd craved vanilla ice cream;
alas, each time she ordered it, it wasn't available.

When I was heading out the door, I realized she was
trying to tell me something. I went back to the bed,
leaned over close to her lips and listened intently to
what she needed me to know.

"Don't forget to get yogurt and Great Grains."

Can we spell "sharp as a tack"?!?

Peter came down yesterday and will stay until to-
morrow, which is wonderful. The person who made my
leaving almost bearable was his daughter, Whitney
Lockhart Siddons.

From the moment she got the word on Sunday morning
to my call earlier this evening, Whitney has been
awesome. It was Whitney who got Chris and Erin's
phone # and called them with the situation and the
fyi we were cancelling brunch. She and Chad were
at the hospital for hours and hours and hours on
Sunday and she was back again today, making sure
the hospital had necessary signatures and being
invaluable in a dozen other ways.

If it hadn't been for Whitney, who works about
10-15 minutes from the hospital, it would have been
impossible for me to head back home, even though I
have no other option.

Even at that, even knowing Mom was in the best hands
possible and at what seems like an excellent hospital,
I cried a good part of the way home. And I was driving,
which gave it a whole new twist.

It is impossible to describe the feelings that set
the tears flowing - it feels more related to poignancy
than any other emotion. One of the many times when I
wish I was French - they seem to have so many words and
nuances to describe a vastly wider and sublty of emo-
tions, n'est pas?

We got home aroung 5:30 p.m. First thing I did was call
the ICU and talked to Jessie. (They only allow one family
member to communicate; in our case, two - Whitney and

Wonder of wonders, found out that Mom was sitting up
and eating real food - a bit of a challenge, since her
neck is in a brace, but she was doing it.

"She is being fed by her "Angel Grandchild," Jessie
reported. "Erin's there?" I asked, since she is Mom's
Angel Child.

"No," answered Jessie, "It is her Angel Grandchild,

Well, I was bowled over. Whitney got on the phone and
confirmed that Mom was indeed eating. An attempt to put
a feeding tube down her throat didn't work - and she
did NOT like the idea at all - so they asked if she
thought she could handle real food.

Mome explained that she's having surgery tomorrow
(true, she's scheduled for surgery back here) and can't
eat the night before. Whitney assured her that I had
cancelled the appt (true), at which point Mom appar-
ently said, "Bring on the grub!" So, Peter and Whitney
had the pleasure of helping serve Mom's dinner tonight.

Exactly what her condition is and how they are going
to treat was still iffy as of late this afternoon.

Interesting - when John and I headed for the elevators,
a doctor I'd never seen before walked past us, talking
on his cell phone. "About Mrs. Lockhart... " was all
he had to say and I had him in my sights.

Interesting - I forget what his speciality is, but he
told me that they are considering the possiblity that
the cervical disk dislocation might not be a new injury,
that it might predate the fall.

Interesting possibilities.

At this point, I get the feeling that they are comfort-
able talking about the one certainty - the fractured
neck - and determined to get more definite answers
about the rest.

Until they have the answers, they're not going to
theorize about care. Good going!

I have had people ask about her room # for cards and
flowers. Will let you know as soon as she is out of ICU.
Until then, no cards, no letters and certainly no phone

The plan, at this point, is for me to head down to VA
after work on Friday. I know Whitney is doing a grand
job as family point person. This doesn't have anything
with needing to be there for Mom and everything about
needing to be there for ME.

No idea when she'd be able to head back home. I could
not ask for her to be in a better place. She has warm
affection for Alexandria from numerous visits over the
past quarter century - Pam Green's wedding in the early
'70s, the Scottish Walk, the Virginia Scottish Games,
swinging down just for the fun of it.

As Whitney says, Virginians seem to cherish their older
ladies and I can see that in the care & consideration &
sense of dignity the physcians and staff have already
shown. She has a beloved granddaughter within easy hug
range and that granddaughter is not one to brook any
nonsense from nobody, no way, no how. Pity the nurse or
physician who appears to be blocking what her Gocky needs!!

And the state bird of Virginia is the red cardinal!!
Need I say more??

We are being well taken care of. Paul & Judy took us to
lunch yesterday, Louise is shooing us out of the house
tomorrow. Bob & Kathryn Ripley took us out to dinner
tonight; they are in town on their way down to Baltimore
tomorrow,heading home to California from BWI Airport
after a week of checking out Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium
and other baseball shrines. Those dear, wonderful people
took these two weary folk out to dinner even though
they're weary themselves, having driving down from above
Cooperstown, NY.

Such courtesies and company are balm for our souls.

Am bushed - what a day. It is 11:20 and I am past tired.

Am off to bed. Will keep you posted on Mom. *eln*

Mom's Condition 07/30/11

Subject:  Mom's Condition

Date: July 30, 2001

Not as much to tell as I would like. What we know - Mom fell this morning
around 6:45 a.m., walking from the bathroom at the Alexandria (Virginia)
Holiday Inn to her bed.

As she had throughout the night, she's gotten my assistance getting out
of bed, but unlike earlier visits, this time she did not get my help returning.

Anyhow, John and I heard a great crash and found Mom spread out, her
head against the bedroom door. She was initially conscious, but not
responsive. Within moments, she was responsive, then able to com-
municate, then had feeling return to her outer extremities.

The EMT squad arrived within 5 minutes and the ambulance was here in
about 10. She was taken to Alexandria Hospital, about a 15-min drive
(normal speed) from the hotel.

There are two things that are definitely a problem. She has a fractured
neck - the 1st and 2nd vertabrea are dislocated. She has reduced feeling
on her left side, which might be related to a TIA or to a neurological problem.
She has a possible injury in her lower lombard region.

The doctors - Jack Cochran (neurology), Boothwell G. Lee (neurosurgery)
and Thomas Smiraintopoulos (pulmonary) - seem quite competent, have all
talked to her and to me and to Peter (who drove down from PA).

Whitney & Chad were at the hospital - a godsend - to lend support to Mom
and Judy & Paul Orvos ended up at the hospital after arriving for brunch and
getting the word on where we were.

Mom is in good spirits, but she hates the neck brace. Because what is
prescribed for stroke is contraindicated for a neurological injury, the doctors
are taking a lot of tests and treading lightly. Very wise. They are also con-
cerned about her other medical situations which are unrelated to the injuries
but which could come into play. We will know more tomorrow.

I am here in VA until tomorrow - will head north after the evening rush hour.
Peter is here until Tuesday. Whitney - thank goodness - works about 10
mins from the hospital and hopes to come at lunch.

Keep us in your prayers.

By the way, none of you are surprised, I'm sure, to hear Mom's already
charming the staff!

Jim, Joe, Mark - would one of you please advise Steve Huber or whoever
(Garth is on vacation) that I will not be in on Monday? I did not bring the
emergency phone # with me. Thanks!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hitting the road 07/28/01

Subject: Hitting the road
Date: July 28, 2001

It is just on 1:00 p.m. and the three of us are heading down to Alexandria, 
Virginia for an overnight.

It is interesting to experience getting ready for this trip compared to what
it might have been like a few years ago. We would have discussed what
time to leave, but Elsa would inevitably have wanted it to be 11:00 a.m.
or noon at the latest, which made sense since we would not want to get
to our destination too late. Unfortunately, what seemed best to her was
inevitably too early for John.

We actually left in the early evening for our most recent jaunt, out to 
Strasburg, since John had to get his display set up bright and early the
next day.

This go 'round, Elsa suggested we skip any estimated time of
departure - just leave enough time for lunch at the Classic Diner (about
an hour away), which closes at 3:00 p.m.

I like being able to leave without an estimated time of departure. Many
many years ago, when the Lockhart family headed to the lake for a week,
Pete and I would agree on an estimated time of departure; the children
would get more and more excited as the designated hour approached,
only to have their spirits flag more and more as the time came and went
with no sign of Dad, who had inevitably gone down to Weitzel Lumber
"for just an hour or two" which always stretched into far more.

Yes, I like this 'we'll leave when it is the right time" approach.
We will trickle our way down to Alexandria, with our first stop at Great 
Harvest Bread in Wayne for a chunk of their marvelous bread.  We cannot
be within striking distance of Great Harvest and miss out on that treat.

Then, we will be onto the Classic Diner (really a classic and quietly classy
roadhouse).  John & Elsa are great favorites of the staff ~ when they
stopped in for lunch last week, one of the waitresses asked, "Where is
the bear?" They will take Jessie Bear (the stuffed bear beloved by the
Classic Diner staff), while I will bring along Spring, a large white stuffed
bunny, one of my "headboard" crowd, to keep my snug at night.

From there, we will work our way down to north Wilmington, where we'll
drop John off at his beloved Mitchell's (model trains and railroading
magazines); we will head to the AC Moore on the Kirkwood Highway -
Elsa is still scouring the countryside for hexagonal papier mache
boxes (21 down, 7 to go!) for the ANC/GS Freshmen Tea.

Back to pick up John, then we will put in some serious drive time,
between Wilmington and Whitehall Town Center (outside my hometown,
Baltimore), where there is another AC Moore.
When will we arrive in Alexandria?  None of us has the vaguest idea.

We do know that we are staying at the Olde City Holiday Inn, which
Elsa and Mim and I have popped into on previous bops to Alexandria -
this is the first time we actually get to stay there.
Why are we heading down?  I am playing host tomorrow at a Sunday
brunch with my granddaughter Whitney and her husband Chad, with dear
friends Judy and Paul Orvos, and - fingers crossed - Erin and Chris
Connors. (Deena Odhner could not make it, because she is at a family
church camp in the Laurel Highlands - we will miss you, Deena.) It will
be wonderful to be with so many young people I love so much.
When we get home, it is just in time to get excited about Bob and
Kathryn Ripley's suppertime vist on Monday. Bob and Kathryn and kinder
are stopping at Squirrel Haven on their way to catch a baseball game -
they are touring East Coast ball parks. Bob, who coaches in the
Sacramento-Auburn CA area, loves baseball; he played for ANC when
he was here for his junior and senior years. We will have a laid back
supper - hoagies from Premier Pizza served on paper plates in the living
room. It is the company, not the food or fancy dinnerware, that matters.
What a lucky lady I am, to be surrounded by so many loving and much
loved family & dear friends. I must live right.

Well, Elsa has to be getting the car packed, so I must say my farewells.
Have a wonderful weekend ~ and wherever you are, take a moment to
give a loved one a call. I am smiling from ear to ear just thinking about
love and family of all sorts & persuasions.

Life is good.

Love - Hitting the Road Momma

...and give you peace. 07/27/01

(my regrets for the delayed reposting – computer was down.  elm)
Subject:  … and give thee peace
Date: July 27, 2011
This week's weather reminds me of my wedding week, 65 years ago
this month.
1936 might seem like a very long time ago to some of you ~ the
majority of you were not even a gleam in your father's eye yet ~
but to me it can seem like yesterday.

It can seem that way especially during a week like this one, which
mirrored my own wedding week.
The week Pete and I were married will sound familiar to anyone
who sweltered through this last week in Bryn Athyn - it was
uncomfortably hot and so humid.
I did not let the weather get me down, all those years ago. 
There was nothing I could do to make it better. Instead, I
focused on the reality that in a few days, I would be Pete's
wife, forever and ever.
Our wedding took place in the cathedral's chapel.  Only about
thirty people can fit into the cathedral's chapel, but it was
enough for us.

Pete asked Len Weitzel - his best friend, who'd help engineer
our first meeting on that fateful New Year's Eve - to be his
best man.
Since my sister Betty was with the Edwin Asplundh family in
California and could not get to the wedding - distances were
really distant back then - I asked my older sister, Dorothy or
Dot, to be my maid of honor. (Dot was her usual straightforward
self - "I know you only asked me to be your maid of honor
because Betty isn't here. I am glad she is not here and that I am!")
We were prepared to roast in the small chapel, the four of us on
the tiny chancel. Of course, Bishop Alfred Acton expected to be
steaming in his robes.
When the next day - my wedding day - dawned, it was much like
this morning - beautiful, with blue skies, cooler temperatures
and no humidity. It was close to what our family refers to as a
pearl of a day.
I remember getting dressed at the church and how cool the fabric
of my dress felt as I put it on. (It was a far cry from the night
that Pete's father and step-mother gave a party in our honor, when
the black slip of my dress felt like hot steel when I put it on.)
I was especially lucky because Will Cooper had just designed a
contraption (still used today) that allows a wedding dress to be
put on a hanger and hoisted up, so a bride can just stand
underneath, raise her arms and – abba~ka~da~bra! - the dress
gently drops into place with a minimum of muss and fuss.
I remember a description in a book I love that described a young
bride as practically dancing to meet her husband. That was how I
felt that day - dancey inside.
When I came out to the East Lawn to have our photos taken, there
was Len, sitting under one of those great looming trees -- with
with a highball in his hand.

Pete seemed a bit on edge. I have know of grooms - quite a few -
who take a "glass of courage" (a stiff belt of alcohol) before getting
married. Len might have taken that route, but not Pete. He steadied
himself by chain smoking cigarettes before the wedding - which is
evident in our formal shots. Just look at his left hand!
Because there were so few people - comparatively, for a Bryn Athyn
wedding - we did not have a hymn before the service began. Instead,
I had "O Precious Sign" for my wedding march. My lifelong friend,
Joyce Cooper, played the organ.
As is traditional for a Bryn Athyn wedding. Pete and I entered the
chapel together, arm in arm. As we entered - and, my, the chapel
was filled - I heard someone say, "Oh, how sweet.” I remember being
happier than I could have imagined possible.
During the prayer, I had a hard time not bubbling up with laughter.
That was in part because I was so happy and it was part because all
through the prayer, Len was tracing the outlines of the stone inlay
with his hands. I never found out if he was enthralled by the design
or the coolness of the stone, but I will remember it for always.
I remember the feel of Bishop Action's hands as he said the blessing
over us. When we were betrothed earlier that summer - also in the
small chapel and also by Bishop Acton - I wore a wide-brimmed straw
hat. After the prayer, as Pete and I remained kneeling, I was aware of
Bishop Acton hesitating for a second as he stood before us. Suddenly
it dawned on me why he was pausing and I whipped off my hat so he
could place his left hand directly on my head as he placed his right on
That is one of the most powerful moments in both ceremonies, when the
minister places his hand on the couples' heads and says the beautiful
Triple Blessing - "The Lord bless thee and keep thee; the Lord make His
face to shine upon they and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His
countenance upon you and give you peace."
Through the years, it never failed to give me a thrill when Pete and I
would take holy supper, side by side, and the minister would place his
hands on our heads and say a blessing. It always took me back.

It would be nice for a husband and wife to have a "laying on of hands"
on their anniversary.
I am missing Pete now, feeling both filled with happy memories and a
strong sense of sadness missing the wonderful, exceptional man who
was my friend and lover throughout his life, right up to the very end.
Near that end, Mim and I went to visit him at in the nursing home (he'd
slipped into the coma that served as a bridge between this world and
the next). A nurse said to me, "Mrs. Lockhart, he knows you're here."
I looked over to the bed where he lay - and she was right;
there was his hand, moving over the sheet of his bed, looking for mine.
On that note, I am leaving you, with lots of lot and a few tears –
Mrs. Raymond Lewis Lockhart