Caregiver Monica

A reader of this blog might wonder, what has Monica been doing the past many months?

When Monica’s family was visiting relatives in England in December, Monica and her mom had hoped to be a comfort or a help in her aunt’s valiant fight with cancer. Instead, Monica’s mom herself had to be hospitalized with serious medical issues. Monica and her younger brothers had to return to the States alone to get back to work or school, while their dad stayed with their mom. It was a serious adventure, rather than a fun, exciting one they might have loved to take.  The three of them took a train, transferred trains, rode the underground (the Tube), then stayed alone in a hotel, then rode a plane to Toronto, found the car in the park-n-fly lot, and drove four hours to home. They cooperated as a team with no problems. They also had a great prayer team at home and in England storming the heavens for their safety and their Mom’s healing.

When arriving home, the three found Grandma and their older siblings had already mobilized to keep the family together while Mom and Dad were still managing medical challenges.  Monica had to adapt to many changes. Dad brought Mom home to Ohio in a Life flight.

After a week in the hospital, she was moved to a rehab facility. Monica had to see her mother unconscious, then regaining consciousness, but unable to do many things.  Monica wrote notes to her mom and prayed for her with the family. When her friends took her to dinner, she invited them to the rehab center to visit her mom too.

Mom came home faster than anyone could have hoped; thankful for the miracle of the perseverance of Monica’s dad to get the right medical attention, the miracle of all the connections among family and community providing such amazing prayerful support and the miracle of healing.

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Monica found her mother mostly on the couch and it was Grandma doing the driving, shopping, laundry and organizing the house. IMG-20170126-WA0004

Monica had a little trouble adjusting. At the same time, Monica had work changes: a new work location, a new supervisor, a new van driver. Monica was not able to describe how these changes were stressful for her, so it came out in some disagreeability and difficulty cooperating – some just going to her room and closing the door.

As things settled down for her, Monica began showing more and more compassion to her mom.

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When arriving home from work, Monica goes right to her Mom to see if she needs a drink, or Tylenol, or another blanket. Monica increased her determination to complete more household chores.  Monica began calling her mother every day from work during her breaks and lunch to check on her. When Grandma had to leave, Monica immediately started making breakfast for her mom every morning.

So much to be thankful for!

Monday, Monday

Monday morning chores.

No dust can settle on this girl!

Wake up. Get dressed in work uniform. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put lunch in backpack.

Ready to go

Empty and load dishwasher.

Dishwasher

Gather laundry from hampers in the bedrooms. Take to laundry room and start a load. Whites first.

Take the city-issued garbage and recycling bins to the curb.

Practice piano – 10 minutes.

While watching for your ride, practice Italian lessons with Duolingo on the iPad.

Italian

When van comes, head out the door. Greetings to work friends! Off to work.

 

And it’s only 7:45 a.m.!

Faith and Sharing Retreat

Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, felt everyone, regardless of ability, should be given an opportunity for spiritual growth and expression. Out of that conviction came a retreat and small group experience called Faith and Sharing. In many cities in which … Continue reading

Fashionable Me

Some of Monica’s mom’s friends were planning a fashion show fundraiser. The daughters were going to be the models. Then one of the girls thought of Monica and wanted to include her. The girls had tea at Sally’s house and tried on vintage dresses. Then they all went to The Limited and tried on new clothes. The fashion show was about femininity and elegance and how they have been expressed in our clothing. Also how the clothing of other countries influenced clothes in the United States.

The girls arrived early on the day and practiced walking on the platform.

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Then they all got dressed in a special room. There were lots of clothes and accessories. The girls helped each other.

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The show started with some very beautiful and very old dresses.

Later there were the dresses from other countries. Monica’s first dress was a dirndl showing the influence of clothing from Austria. (Perfect for that Sound of Music fan!)

After the vintage dresses, everyone had lunch. Monica was seated with the other models, not her mom!

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After lunch, the girls modeled the new clothes from the Limited.

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Monica knew just how to stand to show off the dress she was wearing! It was a lot of fun!

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World Traveler

Monica had the privilege of traveling to England to visit her Aunt Terry. She was great company for her mother and a wonderful guest.  She took photos of every new experience but that is too many to include here! We will share just an overview of the delightful adventure.

We drove across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and noticed lots of wind turbines along the highway. We checked in at the Toronto airport. We charged our phones and enjoyed the iPads for travelers. The flight to London was smooth. Monica brought knitting, books, workbooks and her iPad. She was too busy to sleep, but when she got on the train out of Gatwick airport she gave in to a few winks.

We changed trains at St. Pancras/Kings Cross. We bought postcards and stamps there.

Monica’s Uncle David picked us up at the Scarborough train station in a car with the steering wheel on the right side and drove on the left side of the road!

Monica loved relaxing and sharing a cup of tea with her family there, but still did her best to help out with emptying and loading the dishwasher and setting the table.IMG_2922

Since we were there for Mardi Gras, Uncle David took us to the Scarborough events for Pancake Day. The Pancake Races had teams from different organizations running obstacle courses while flipping pancakes in crazy costumes. Then we walked to the sea to see Skipping day in which the children remember skipping with the old fishing ropes when the fisherman replaced them with new.

 

For the first Friday of Lent, Uncle David brought in Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas!20160212_182232

Monica’s cousins arrived on the weekend and we celebrated a birthday together.

Monica was the one who knew how to set the timer on the phone to take a group photo!

On a very windy day, we drove around Scarborough castle and saw the north beach.IMG_2983

After a week of really getting to know her aunt and uncle, we had to leave. 20160215_131319We took the train back to London and Monica’s cousin’s girlfriend met us for a walking tour of Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, a view of a guard and the entrance to Buckingham Palace, then a stop at the Treasury where her cousin works, a peek at Big Ben and the Eye.

Then supper and good night’s sleep before the Uber taxi took us to the train back to Gatwick.

 

It was a very long flight with an unplanned fuel and de-icing stop in Quebec City. Monica played her President’s game on her iPad so many times she hit a new high score.20160216_142128

Back at Toronto airport, we scraped the snow off the car when we found it in the long term lot and headed for home. We were so happy to be greeted by Monica’s nieces and nephew!

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Girls Weekend!

Everyone knows Monica loves the Sound of Music. Our good friend Melissa made a dream come true this weekend. Melissa organized a trip to Columbus to see the Broadway production of Sound of Music. Monica packed her bag herself and could not wait to meet up with the girls on Saturday. We were impressed that she remembered to pack things like her earplugs so she could go swimming, a little container to take her thyroid medicine and vitamins, and her charger for her phone. There were four chaperones and four young ladies about Monica’s age on the trip.

They stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for a break and arrived at the hotel mid-afternoon.

They had a blast in the pool. They enjoyed the Happy Hour snacks.

They got all dressed up and headed out to the Ohio Theater downtown.

Monica described everything to us. The theater, the orchestra, the set, the beautiful voices, the children! She loved everything about seeing the live performance. Afterwards, they positioned themselves where the actors came out and Monica got to meet the woman who played Maria von Trapp. What a thrill for her!

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When they got back to the hotel they had pizza and cookies and giggled in their pajamas.

In the morning, they all went to Mass together at St. Patrick church and out to lunch at Spaghetti Warehouse.

This weekend excursion is something we never imagined would happen. We never thought we would have an opportunity for Monica to be included and taken care of so well. We could relax at home and know she was safe and having a wonderful time.