Friday, November 19, 2010

November visit - part II

This visit seems so relaxing, like. The last several visits have been whirlwind tours that have left me drained, exhausted, and sick by the time I get back to Denver. After the last visit I said never again. So this time I took a vacation day on Friday and didn't make many plans. Some of my dinner plans got cancelled so I had a lot of free time. Usually when I'm here it is all go go go, drive drive drive, with about 5 hours of sleep. This was definitely better but makes me feel like I should be doing more with my time.

Visited with my Dad again Sunday afternoon. We chatted in his room for awhile before they served his lunch. He's trying very hard to communicate. He knows what he wants to say and that the words don't come out right. "My voice is talking, but, NO." He's very willing to go back and forth with you so you can guess what he's trying to say, kind of like a game of charades. He'll let you know if you are on the right track, or if you're not. He might say "where" but mean "when". Still a lot of "next door" and "the boat". We went over names, he knows who we all are but usually can't say our names. You can give him hints or start to sound it out and he can usually finish it. K. Ka. will usually lead to Keri. Ma. Maura. We talked about birthdays and the dates on the calendar, his birthday and how old he is, that we have to work on his words but that he's talking much better. After lunch we went for a walk, watched the Lions game for a little while and then he asked me if I had my purse which is code for, I'm tired, time for you to go.

I ended up working late Monday and Tuesday but braved the nasty rain and even worse traffic to see my dad on Tuesday night. I don't miss Michigan's weather when it is cold and miserable! I got to Martha T. at about 7pm and thought my dad would be kicked back watching tv but he was in the second floor common area watching a bunch of the other residents play a dice game. He does NOT want to play, but he loves to watch! We sat and watched and chatted in between the action.

He's making such an effort to talk and communicate and be understood. But when simple words like when or where get mixed up it can make it very hard to understand. It took a lot of back and forth to figure out he was asking me WHEN I was leaving because it was coming out WHERE am I going outside. He would point to where we were, and then gesture to outside and say something about another building. It took awhile but he was asking When am I going outside aka when do I need to leave! The man is still very prompt! He can't tell you the time but he certainly knows what time it is and he'll remind you when it is time to go. This probably went on for a good ten minutes but he kept trying, and would stop to really think about what he was trying to say and then start again. He gave me a few "cool it"s or "slow down"...which was funny because he would say that in the past when we were getting snotty, and now he says it just to give himself a minute to think it over.

Katie has been putting certain events on Dave's calendar so I talked to him about when I am going to visit next. We practiced the months of the year and the days of the week. You would be amazed at how memory recall works. For example if I say it is Tuesday and ask what day tomorrow will be dad probably can't answer that. But if you ask him what the days of the week are, and start him off on Monday he can rattle them all off. The same with the months. We talked about who visited him when: that I visited on Thursday, that we all went out to dinner on Friday, I visited on Saturday and Sunday, Katie visited on Monday, and Maura visited him earlier in the day on Tuesday. He seemed to recall our dinner and Katie's visit the most.

People have told me he seems to want to tell them something when they arrive. This isn't 100% guarantee but a lot of times when I get there, he wants to know when I have to leave. This way he knows if we have enough time to go for a walk which is usually what he wants to do immediately upon arrival! Always the boss! And if you go to visit and Dave isn't in his room check the two large common areas on the first and second floor in between the elevators, he might be hanging out with the ladies and watching them play games.

I'll be back soon, December 10th. Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November visit - part 1

I've had a trip planned to visit in December but with Katie having had such serious surgery I really needed to get in a visit before then. As luck would have it, I needed to do a packaging trial for work and our Detroit plant turned out to be the perfect spot. Two birds, one stone!

I flew in Thursday afternoon and stopped to see my dad.  He smiled real big and looked happy to see me. He immediately wanted to get up and stroll the halls before dinner. As he stood up he looked at me and smiled and said, "You look sharp!", then he looked me up and down and said, "Yeah, reeeeaaalllll sharp!"  Thanks Dad!  Not sure if he loved my sweater or noticed I lost a few pounds but either way, I'll take it. We made the usual rounds to nose in on what everyone is up to. Dad doesn't talk much but he likes to see what people are up to and watch people playing games. Everyone knows his name that's for sure. We went back to his room in time for dinner and I stayed with him while he ate. He insisted on walking me out when it was time to go. His orderly said he is the first one up in the morning - combs his hair, brushes his teeth, hits the town. As my dad used to always say, "morning is the best time of day!" We never agreed on that.

Friday I went for another visit. I find that an hour or a little more is about the perfect amount of time before he shoos me out of there. He had just eaten lunch when I got there and looked like he was getting ready for an afternoon nap. We looked at a magazine about Michigan and talked about the history of Grosse Ile. Went for a walk as usual, took a quick zip around the garden but it was a little too chilly to sit. We sat in one of the common areas and chatted some more. Then we went back to the room so Dad could have some more of the fruit smoothie I brought him and I could get my purse. It's so nice to be walked out, so sad at the same time.

Friday evening I had a burger at the Raft with Katie and Maura. Man I haven't been there in years! Katie is recovering and looks great. Maura is talking about college already! After dinner I took a drive through Algonac, looked at the old house on the Pointe and saw that they tore Henry's down. I tried to find a picture online but couldn't find a single one. Anyway, it was a restaurant by our house that had been around since 1937. I worked there in college, my grandma Bell worked there. Now it is going to be a parking lot.

Saturday I had lunch with Barb and Gwen and then picked up Katie and Maura for an early dinner with my dad. We went to Carrabba's again, his choice. His friend Laura was our waitress which is why he likes to go. When we got back Dad was trying to tell Maura something but it took awhile to figure out that he wanted to know if the boats are still in the water and when she told him yes, he said in a very worried tone, "oh man!" We told him not to worry that Katie has it all taken care of and it isn't freezing out yet, the boats will get out in time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A family outing to the farm

My sister Lori sent me the following email and pictures about an outing with Dad with his brother Richard and Richard's son Dicky. I always like to hear when he's out on the town, thanks so much!
Rich Jr. chuckled when he told me how he approached dad and his reaction. He said "Uncle Dave, we're breaking you out of here" Dad looked really worried. He didn't know what to think. But Rich quickly explained that it was just an outing, and dad smiled. He seemed to enjoy it, but as it was getting closer to dinner time I could tell he was ready to get back. You'll see us looking at a book together . It was a book about the history of Utica and surrounding area. Dad went through the entire book page by page and seemed to recognize some of the buildings in the pictures.

It was so funny when it was time to leave. We had dad stand with his back to the truck seat. Rich climbed in the drivers door and took dad under the arms to pull and lift, while Danny took his legs to assist and guide. They huffed and puffed and struggled. We were so focused on getting dad in the truck (yes, a big ole F -150) it didn't occur to us that the reason it was difficult was because dad had a iron grip on the door. It was Rich and Danny against ONE of dads arms. He would have won if he hadn't agreed to let go. He's still got it! That man is STRONG!

I hope we can do this again soon. We all had a great time.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's that time of year again - Happy Birthday Dad!!!

I posted this picture before but it is one of the only good ones I have of everyone. It's from Rocky Mountain National Park a few years ago. Today is my Dad's 71st birthday and I wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I was a little late getting my card out, but at least the blog post was on time! So, if you can find the time, please stop in and see Dave today or in the next week and wish him a happy birthday!

I have been meaning to blog about my last visit to Michigan and Dad's recent trip to his cousin Richard's farm but I wanted to give a quick update on Katie first.

I think most of you know that Katie was diagnosed with a 4cm brain tumor while in Nashville for work. Maura and her two sisters flew to her side and Katie was flown back to Michigan on Tuesday. The tumor was quickly removed last week on Thursday. Katie did well in surgery and was released on Sunday. Can you believe how fast they release people these days? I am amazed at how she has come through this with such strength. Her and Maura have had a very rough year and this was one more storm that they were able to get through together.

Katie has been staying at her sister Laurie's while she recovers. I talked to Katie last night for the first time since I heard about the tumor. I hadn't called her previously because I figured she needed the rest and she had the support of so many sisters and family members but Maura said she is talking on her cell phone. Katie sounded incredible and has kept her good attitude about life and how lucky we all are to be alive. Her doctor thinks she is recovering very well. She did say it takes a little more time to think about simple things like writing, but all in all she is doing great.

She misses my dad and is going to go see him tonight for the first time. I know he has been worried about her and has been asking visitors for updates on how Katie is doing. Getting to see each other face to face will probably make them both feel much better. Maura baked a birthday cake, I can't believe another year has went by so fast. I have a trip planned in December but I want to plan another one in November too to give Katie and Maura and my Dad a hug in person. I thought I learned the lesson with my Dad's stroke that life is too short but I guess someone really wanted to drive that message home.

Katie is going to be recovering for quite awhile and won't be able to visit my dad every day like she has been since his stroke. I would ask you all to find the time to pay him a visit. He really only likes visits for about an hour or less, so it won't even take up very much of your time. Tell his friends that might not read this and encourage them to visit too. We would all be very grateful!

Please keep Katie in your thoughts as well - and wish her a speedy and healthy recovery!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dinner and a Drive

excerpts from an email Katie sent to one of Dave’s friends:

We (Katie & Maura) took David out to dinner on Sunday. That man can still eat his food and anything I don't eat. He really enjoyed himself. Oh, and Laura Tucker was working. He loves to see her!

Quick story.....After dinner on Sunday David wanted to go for a drive so I asked if he wanted to go up on the river. That was a no. So I kept asking “Do you want me turn?” at every road as we made our way down M-59. Finally I asked him to just tell me when to turn, which he did. We ended at a house in Mt Clemens that I had never been to before. I didn't want to go to the door but he I did. Unfortunately no one answered the door and we left. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out whose house he took us to because he couldn't tell me. After thinking about it overnight I figured out it was the Dave that David worked with and had become friends with in the last couple of years. So I called the guy to confirm where he lived and it was his house. I knew David could find his way around but I was impressed that he directed me to someone’s house. His friend has invited us over for a BBQ as soon as we can arrange a day. I also told him to visit David anytime!! “

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

August Visit Planned

I'm planning a visit to Michigan 8/23-8/29 (traveling late Monday night and leaving early Sunday morning).  I'll be working out of our Detroit and Howell plants during the week and visiting with Dad in the evenings.  Hopefully I can fit in a few dinners or lunches with friends and family while I'm there. 

In the meantime, don't forget to visit Dave!  Details on location, room number, etc. are on the left side of this blog.

Bernie, Maura, Katie, David - February 2007
Rocky Mountain National Park

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

Katie and I have been exchanging voice mails but it sounds like Dave had a good Father's day.  Katie and Maura took him to his favorite Chinese restaurant in Richmond where he got the first class treatment.  On the way home they stopped and picked up the puppies - Scarlet and Velvet for a little visit.  Back at Martha T. they had chocolate cake that Katie made.  Sounded like a pretty good evening.  Thought I would share.

This is one of the only pictures of all of us.  Christmas 2004.  Me, Bernie, Katie, Maura with her new puppy Velvet, Dad and Scarlet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day Dad!!!

Worst daughter ever didn't buy a card yet.  I've had a reminder on my desk and on my computer for two weeks.  But hey, I can at least write a blog post!  Here is one of my favorite pics of me and my dad.  We're on Korneffel's Island and that is our cottage and Chris Craft in the background.  I've seen a few versions of it but this one I ripped out of my baby book to find the following in my mom's hand writing on the back:
First sucker July (I assume 75?) Mom was away (but of course).  Given by Joyce Rosou.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

May Visit & a trip to Carrabbas

It had been way too long since my last visit to Michigan so I decided the perfect time was never going to come and I just headed out there for a weekend.  I have been traveling a lot for work and it is hard to come home and then jump on another airplane.  Such is life.  Hopefully a longer trip will happen this summer and maybe I'll get to visit the cottage too - it's been a couple of years.  Can you imagine me away from the cottage for that long?  It's unbelievable to me.  I remember being there from the last day of school to the first day of school - every year until I graduated.  With no phones.  No computers.  I don't know if email even existed back then.  The good old days for certain.

I landed Friday night and went right to Martha T to see Dad.  He was very happy to see me.  We chatted for awhile until Katie and Maura came - all of us were going to go out to dinner.  Dad got some nice clothes on and we hit the road.  Now, I can't describe this well without using my hands but Dad asked where we were going, and used his hands to describe the route.  We were a little confused at what he was saying and we started to head to Brio.  When we started to make the Michigan left to the restaurant Dad put up a big protest so Katie turned around and he directed us about 5 miles down the road to Carrabbas where his friend Laura Tucker works.  His earlier hand signals made perfect sense in hindsight.  Can you believe that?  I was awestruck.  He can understand everything you are saying, he knows exactly what he wants to say, he knows where he is and where he wants to go and how to get there, he just can't get all of the words out.  It must be frustrating to be locked inside your head like that.  We had a great dinner and got to see Laura.  He looked so good in his pink polo and khakis I wish I had brought my camera.  Katie mentioned awhile back he directed her all the way to Richmond to his favorite Chinese restaurant.  Big Dave, always in charge.

Saturday Barb Korneffel and I came for a few hours to visit.  Everyone who knows my dad knows how he loves Barbie.  She told him a story about Tommy trying to kill a mole this spring and my dad laughed harder than I had seen in a long time.  When Dave asks you when you are going to leave, he's not trying to ask you to leave he is trying to see if you have time for him to get in his chair and go for a walk.  He can pretty much get in and out of his chair all by himself.  He likes to peek in on the common areas on the second floor and the first floor before heading out to the courtyard.  It's a beautiful place, and a good place to have your visit.  Also, if he's not in his room when you come to visit you might find him in one of these areas.  He likes to check out all the action.  Dave also likes to walk you to the main door when you are ready to leave.  Forever the gentleman.

On Sunday Tanya came with me for a visit.  We hung out outside in the courtyard and Tanya told Dad all about her recent boat issues which of course were of great interest to him. 

Excellent news on the physical therapy front.  After 5 months of fighting the system, Katie finally got authorization for more physical therapy.  Anything that can help Dad gain some more strength and independence is welcome.  I just finished reading My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.  Jill was a leading brain scientist at Harvard who had a massive stroke and was able to tell her story about the day of her stroke and her 8 years to full recovery.  Doctors will tell you stroke victims only recover for the first 6 months or so but Jill proved that wrong.  Thanks to Dennis for the book.  I passed it to Barb who will give it to Katie when she is done.  I hope Dad will get some more speech therapy too.  He will do anything a therapist asks but is not so willing with his friends or family.  He can say "No" pretty clearly.

I NEED YOUR HELP  I'm going to be making a photo album for my dad - simple pictures of people he knows.  I'll put their first names under each picture.  Maybe it will help him put names to faces.  Maybe it won't help - but he seems to like to look at pictures so it can't hurt.  If you have any pictures of yourself or any of Dave's close friends or family please email one to me at

DAVE NEEDS YOUR HELP Visitors are getting few and far between so please take a moment to pop in and visit with Dave, you both will be better for it.  Thank you to all his friends and family that make the time to visit, we all very much appreciate it.  Information on location is posted along the left side of this blog.

As always, if you have a story you would like to share from a recent visit please email it to me. 


Thursday, June 3, 2010

An email from Katie to one of David's Friends

More to come soon on my recent visit, but I wanted to get this out ASAP so folks can hear how my dad is doing and hopefully get out to visit soon - you'll love the walk out to the gardens he'll take you on! - keri

David is doing well. It's hard to explain...he still has trouble with getting the right words out but he now not only understands, but can reason. I am always telling him what is going on with work, the house, the cottage, Maura, her boat and anything I can think to talk about when I visit him. I now ask his opinion about some things and although he doesn't have the words, I give him a choice of what he thinks I should do and it always seems true to what he would have answered before his stroke. It also seems he likes to be involved in the decisions I make. He also likes to decide where he wants to eat {Carrabba’s and a Chinese restaurant} when we take him out to dinner by directing me where to turn until I figure out what restaurant he is taking me to. He still makes me laugh. His overall health is good as are his spirits!

I also run into many people that ask me how David is doing. I update them but always say "go visit him, he would love to see you". At this point he does not get many visitors. I visit him every day with a few exceptions. Just like always, he is so happy to see me. …. When I have to go out of town for work I line people up to visit so he has at least has one visitor a day. Thanks for continuing to encourage people to visit, it really means a lot. - Katie