Saturday, March 31, 2012

Penelope....Ferrits....and Some of Our Doggies

When I was growing up in our household our family was never complete without a dog. Grandma loved Yorkies and she loved naming them Misty. There was Misty I, Misty II, and of course Misty III. Grandma and Grandpa even bought me my own Yorkie when I was 12 years old. We all loved our dogs and we were all devastated when we would ever loose one.
When you were about the age of 8 and Chel was around 6 we brought our first pet home, his name was Romeo. He was the cutest Bichon puppy who we were lucky enough to have had for many years. He absolutely hated to be caged and he was an amazing escape could never keep him behind a gate or fence. I remember one time he got into some baby oil and boy that was a mess to clean up.. we tried to keep him in the kitchen while the oil went through his system, but he got out as usual. Needless to say we were more careful as to where to store the baby oil.

We did have a few other pets to amuse you both before we finally caved into getting Romeo. There was Penelope, the cockatiel, who turned out to have major psychotic behavior and started eating the feathers right off her body until she didn’t have anymore feathers on her. We finally gave her to a different home with a less stressful atmosphere. We also tried opening our home to a couple of Ferrets, named Cleo and Claudia. One evening you and Chelsey freaked out when the alarm went off and Cleo was hiding under the bed. Dad was trying to capture her and the noise of his alarm scared her, she grabbed Dad’s hand so tight with her razor sharp teeth right between his fingers and wouldn’t let go. He was yelling and trying to get her off his hand by hitting her on the carpeting. I never saw such chaos in my life! Needless to say that was the end of the ferrets, so we tried hamsters at that point. We actually had them for a while and you guys tried your hardest to fulfill your promises of taking care of them and promising to clean their cages. Of course that didn’t last too long and I would end up doing it.

We always were a multiple dog family and had at least 2 dogs and for several years we had 4 dogs. After we had Romeo for a few years we bought another Bichon named Bianca. She was so attached to me though so that's why you and Chel never liked her. Romeo and Bianca we had for 15 years or so...a long time. Also during that time we rescued Star from a boy we met at the horse show...she was the greatest therapy dog. Chel and I would take her to the nearby nursing home once a week and just drop her off to visit with the people in the Alzheimer unit. Then I would go and pick her up.... I do remember one time when visiting the different rooms of the elderly people, there was a woman who was bedridden.....when we walked in to the room Star immediately jumped up on the bed and lay next to the woman...she laid her head on the woman's arm and just lay there. I have that vision engraved in my was so sweet. I really miss Star, she was one of my favorite dogs we have ever had.

When you used to ride at Bristolwood.... Bruce Thalmans' dog had a litter of puppies and one of the last pups that needed a home you had talked us into taking. You were always so good at that...the fact that I was a pushover I guess didn't make it too difficult. Anyways, Arnold A.K.A. Arnold Shwartzapuppy became your dog and was a great dog too. His claim to fame was the fact that he could climb trees. All you would have to do it is yell, ''Go Get the Squirrel"...... point him to a tree and off he would go. He also jumped out of our backyard 6 foot fence with ease, if he so desired. He was an amazingly athletic dog...we miss all of our dogs we had from years back. I am throwing in a few current photos of Peanut and also, of course, Niblet...your pup who was your constant companion for the final year you were here.
Niblet...(Dad adopted her)

Penelope, Chelsey and Dale

Peanut as a pup
Peanut 2011

Star and Peanut



Arnold and Monica

Arnold climbing the tree in our yard.....

Romeo..the sweetest dog!

miss you......m

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Its Amazing What One Finds In Their Attic.....

Being my very first spring break that I have ever had.....well I should say as an adult, now that I work in a school, I decided to spring clean. I happened to be up in the attic to reorganize and I came across some of your very early pastels. I remember Grandma found an art school in Skokie where she took art classes. She loved oil painting and especially loved painting nudes. When you were 6 years old you showed an interest in art so she took you to the art school. I found in the attic several of your pastel drawings and a few charcoals, as well.  I even took a few classes myself, when I was 20 years old. I never really understood the whole technique of working with oils until I went back to it in my 40's.
I was home with your baby sis when you used to go to classes with Grandma. It's funny too, that I happen to be up in the attic yesterday on grandma's birthday. I found some other interesting things too, like an article from 1972 where grandma wrote a poem to put in the paper promoting her new needlepoint shop she opened. It just so happened to be across the street from the art school in Skokie. It was called Needlepoint Junction.

I kept a paper that you had written on both sides of all of the things that reminded you of grandma. (I think you were in your teens at the time). It was chock full of all of your memories. The first few related to Needlepoint Junction. I never get tired of reading all of them, I couldn't even fit the entire page on the scan so I just copied a portion of it. How clever you were....and the patience you had with working with detail. I will post in the future some of your doodles and intricate drawings you produced, usually while your were spending time in some hospital or phych ward...later in life.

As a child you loved spending time with grandma at Needlepoint Junction and I know she loved spending time with you!!

For any of this to make sense you would have to know our family, but I thought it would be interesting anyways.

Here are the pictures from the attic. I will get together some of your later paintings and put them on this blog in the near future........

I will close this post with one more thing I found in the attic yesterday. It is a poem that I found with grandmas things from Needlepoint Junction, she must have liked it or planned on doing something with it, but it's really beautiful and thought it would be nice to add to this post.
Passing Night
I dreamed a thousand dreams last night....I walked a thousand miles.....And always every where I went.....I saw your loving smiles....You pushed away my shadows with.....a gentle little shove.....You took my hand and led me on....To happiness and love....I soon forgot the sorrows and ....The heartaches of the past....And prayed this new and magic world....Would be my own at last....And yet I dared not look ahead....with eyes that see too far....Because I had the feeling I....Was reaching for a star....and when the sun came up again....I found that I was right....I could not make a lasting thing....of any passing night.....
Author Unknown

I miss you more each day.........m

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Warning...this post could cause extreme sadness.....

This is a very sad weekend for us..... since it will be 2 years tomorrow that the most horrific experience of my life....happened.

Being St. Patricks Day doesn't have a whole lot of meaning for me except that it was the final day that you were actually on this earth with us. I never much liked the day, not being Irish, (no disrespect intended for the Irish, of course.) You wrote references in your final posts about St. Patricks Day and also I suspect that is why the blog is so green...very cute.....of course, all your design.

You had been so exited about starting your blog and was totally obsessed with what you were going to include. I know you hadn't been sleeping very well, not sure if that was one of reasons, but you had said that you were up for a ridiculous number of hours on the 17th. We decided you would take a anti-anxiety med to help you to fall asleep, which is what the doctor had recommended.

When I woke up the morning of the 18th you called me at 6:00a.m. sounding so groggy and not at all yourself. I know you were nervous to take the pill, because you weren't used to taking any meds at all. You were nervous as to how it would make you feel or if you would even wake up after taking it in your malnutrition state. You sounded very out of it and you were slurring your words...I was worried and told you to try and get some rest and I would come and check on you at lunchtime. I had to go to work that day. You told me not to worry and not to bother coming over. You were always so considerate of anyone going out of their way for you...especially me.      I insisted....... at around 11:00 I left work to drive over, being so close to where you lived I was there in 10 minutes.....I think the door was unlocked to your apartment and Niblet was so happy to see me. I knew she needed to go out since you were probably out cold from the medication. I took her for a short walk and reluctantly came back onto your apartment. I think that you knew that for years every time I would ever either call or come over there was a thought that crossed my mind that I would find you dead...if you didn't answer right away or didn't answer at all.

I know it's morbid, but I know how sick you were that's just the way I always thought.

Let's face it, through the years I always couldn't get any worse, you couldn't get any thinner and you ALWAYS did.

I walked back into the apartment and I could see you from the door in your bed with your leg hanging off the bed under your blanket. I cautiously walked into your bedroom and came up to you and tried to wake you up. Your eyes were open just a little bit and I could see you breathing, but very irregularly. Your body was moving around but you wouldn't wake up. I tried to shake you, but nothing....I started to panic and tried to stay calm with all my strength. I called Chelsey and told her that I couldn't wake you up and she suggested that I call 911 and that I should call her back to give her an update.
The call I made to 911 was so calm, I remember talking so slowly and deliberate, enunciating each word as to not freak out. As I waited for the paramedics to arrive I stepped out on the balcony, I could hear the sound of the ambulance in the distance as it grew louder and louder as it came closer to the apartment. 

There were several paramedics, police officers, firemen and also some rookies in training, as well..I found out later. I put Niblet in her cage and as they all came into the bedroom, there were a few comments made that really upset me. The moment the first paramedic took your blanket off to take a look at you he gasped and said to me," Why isn't she in the hospital"?  Moments later another said in awe, " How much does she weigh"?  I could hardly contain myself, still trying to hold it together for the sake of giving all of the proper information without losing it.

I said to him, that she had been in the hospital not too long ago...he obviously had no experience or knowledge of what we had just been through the past several years. I told the other paramedic, "What difference does it make how much she weighs".  Ooooh I was so mad at that point and a few months later I did call the station to discuss the insensitivity of the officers in this situation. They explained that this was something that they were not used to seeing. Someone in your state of malnutrition really took them by surprise, they did apologize and assured me that they would be giving more information and knowledge to the men in the future and to be more sensitive to families in what their comments would be. This reaction gives me more reason to want to write my book in order to make people more aware and get a better understanding of this insidious disease and the effects it has on the human body...and mind.

Dad, Chel and I met the ambulance at the hospital, it was midday when we arrived. We had been in the hospital countless times over the years, due to Anorexia, but this time felt different. They put that horrible life support tube in you to help you breathe. It was awful to see you that way...we tried to comfort you by rubbing your hair and talking to you. They said that you were in a hypoglycemic coma and more than likely you could hear us talking to you. After several hours of waiting and consulting with the doctors Dad decided to stay at the hospital while Chel and I went to tend to Niblet and get clean clothes to come back. We had planned on being there for however long it took for you to get better and come home. As we left the parking lot of the hospital we turned right onto the street and dad called us to hurry back...there was a "code blue" in your room.  We rushed back to the emergency room and ran down the corridor to see 7 or 8 hospital staff working on you. Oh, how surreal it all was, it seemed like a dream, a terrible, out of control dream...I wished I could have woken up.

We were waiting in the waiting room listening to the sounds of 8 people trying to revive you...a doctor came in asking us how much longer we wanted them to keep trying. They had a difficult time keeping your heart beating...
As I looked around at Chelsey I saw her start to lose it, she almost fainted, then looked at dad and saw him start to lose it.  Okay, I guess that means that I will have to hold it together..I won't be able to fully freak out like I was going to. It turned out to be a good distraction for me, I was always the nurturing one of the family anyways, it's my job.

I think that for so long the thought of this dreaded day played out in my head so many times and when it really happened there is no possible way to prepare in anyway. It was nothing like I ever imagined. It was so much worse......
After they stopped trying to revive you they came to get us from the adjacent room.
The hospital staff was very nice and allowed us to stay with you as long as we wanted to. We had them take that tube out of your throat and stayed with you for a while. You were probably above us looking down at us as we cried and said our goodbyes.

I refuse to say are still with us and I talk to you all the time, especially while writing my book.

I felt the need to explain your last day here on earth being the anniversary day.

This beautiful basket came today from the Ninette, Erick, Marta, Nina, Lucas with such a beautiful card in memory of you
 I promise from now on we can talk more about happier times and hopefully I will be able to express in my writings, your life, including the many years you lived with anorexia...and the person you were without anorexia..the real you!

I miss you more than you can imagine....m

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Painted Lady...Butterflies...

Anorexia Nervosa..the dreaded disease, the evil destroyer of beautiful young woman (and some men)...the number one killer of any other mental illness...I wish that I didn't know you so well, I wish that I didn't understand you as well as I do...although you make no sense, you have no rationale and are so complicated that you are difficult to explain to those looking in from the outside or who have not experienced your rath first hand.  I'm sure you know by now that I despise you.....

The last few years you were on this earth were so difficult, as you know...but I wanted to share a few experiences that occurred that were so good and positive after the horrible day you left us. Aside from feeling devastation, the shock of it all, and totally lost and alone....I went through the motions of what is expected of a mother who has just lost her daughter, such as making arrangements and being the host at a gathering I never wanted to attend or thought I ever would attend...but something amazing happened to me during the following few months. First of all, when we had your memorial there were people there who came that I hadn't seen in years and years. They were people, friends, acquaintances and the most shocking and wonderful of all was Mr. Watson, your 4th grade teacher. I was so blown away and overwhelmed it's hard to put into words. That day I remember standing greeting mourner after mourner who came up to us to offer their condolences. I remember thinking that I wish you could have been there to greet these same people in a different setting, like our living room or a really nice restaurant. I was really hoping that you could see all of your friends and family from wherever you were and know how much you were loved.

The fact that those last few years it seemed like you were so isolated and alone..thank goodness for Niblet who kept you company. Although she inadvertently hurt you so many times due to her shear muscular strength and your lack of the time she pulled you down the stairs so fast that you hit the wall with your face and hurt your nose. Also the bruises she caused you on your legs when she was asleep and would kick out her legs and hit you. All in all she was a blessing, yet I wish you had chosen a dog more like Peanut...small, harmless and easy to control.
            I think I was just as caught up in the way things were with you and your life that I became complacent and was just accepting..... with a few pleads here and there for you to try and get help again. Over the years that became our mantra, the pleading, the begging, the harping...I know you grew tired of it.    I also know that the evil disease wouldn't let you commit to recovery at that point it was ready for the demise, it had taken it's toll on you it was almost finished with it's job, well done.

A few days before your memorial service I remember waking up and getting this brilliant idea....(that happens every once in a great while).  I thought instead of having people send flowers or donations to a certain charity, it would be nice to have some type of memorial bench in a beautiful setting. What better place would there be but The Chicago Botanic Gardens. After looking into the idea I found out that the cost of something like this would be $5000.00 for a simple bench in the Heritage Garden and $25,000.00 to be have a bench in your memory in the beautiful English Walled Garden. I figured we would go with the Heritage Garden and whatever money we needed for the balance I would just pay myself.  Amazingly I never needed to add any money, at all, since the donations came to, I think, 150.00 beyond the $5000.00....again, blown away by the generosity of your friends and family.   Sooooo, after a few months later and after about 200 thank you cards later, i got this other brilliant idea of having a memorial luncheon thanking all of the wonderful people who donated in your honor.  It was scheduled about six months later near the gardens on a rather warm day. There were several friends and family who came up and shared memories and poetry about you, a very emotional day, but so wonderful. At the end of the luncheon Uncle Jim comes up to me and offers to pay the bill for the entire luncheon at the Radisson Hotel....again overwhelmed and incredibly thankful. We then all met at the Botanic Gardens and admired your bench.....

 I should back track a bit since the whole reason I named this post Painted Lady..... Butterflies brings me to my final brilliant idea I will share with you. I thought it would be a nice idea that after the luncheon we all go over to the gardens and release butterflies in your honor. I had called the Gardens and found out that it would not be possible to bring anything like that into the gardens. Okay, so I thought of plan B where the family and a few friends would come back to the house and release them there... but first I need to tell you that I called a company in North Carolina a few weeks prior in order to get these butterflies to release. I spoke to a representative named Nancy B., she was very helpful and explained all there was to know about getting a kit with larva and growing my own painted lady butterflies to release at the day of the luncheon. I thought that would be cool to go through he whole butterfly cycle and watch them emerge from their cocoons. In the middle of the conversation with Nancy B. I mentioned they were going to be used for my daughter's memorial. After a few minutes passed it was silence, then she said, "And by the way, we will be sending you the entire kit free of charge".  I was a bit shocked and replied,"Why"? There was another silence for a moment and she said, "Because, I'm a mom".  Well, needless to say, I was again overwhelmed and appreciative that yet another person I had never even met before that day was so kind.  The whole experience just made me realize that there are still some really wonderful people in this world and I was lucky enough to be a recipient of one more. 
Chel and I really enjoyed the whole cycle of watching the butterflies do their "thing". There was just one more snag... they emerged from their cocoons about a week in a half too early, so I had to have a plan C for everything to work out right. Sooooo, we decided to have Roni, (my sister) videotape the releasing of the butterflies, in our backyard and then show the video at the end of the luncheon. Chelsey was the butterfly handler, as we called her, and she did a fantastic job.  I would have to say that things all worked out relatively well and as soon as I can figure out how to post a video I will come back and post it on this blog along with a few more pics.  In the meantime here is a photo of Roni and I sitting on your bench.....

Needless to say, I now have a butterfly fettish...also a new tatoo to be posted in the near future.....
love you and miss you unbelievably much....m

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday, Monica.....

So spending the entire day looking through photos from the past was a fine way to spend the day remembering and reminiscing all of the many years when you and Chel were growing up. Your family who misses you very much found comfort in being with one another on your birthday. I especially looked for birthday pictures throughout the years. Apparently in you and Chels' earlier years you hadn't aquired the fear of clowns yet, since they were a popular addition to some of your parties. Twinkles was my favorite, but she came to Chel's party that one year in our back yard of Park Ridge. Since it took an incredibly long time to scan all of these photos I wasn't about to put up Chels photos too. Perhaps on Chels birthday I will post some of hers. Well I'm glad I made this post before the end of your birthday, but not by much....... I only wish we could still be celebrating with you......but know that your spirit is all around us and there is not a day that goes by that you are not on my mind.... miss you so much.......m