We have created this caring bridge site so all of moms friends and extended family can stay updated on her progress. As you all know she was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery, was diagnosed with congenital heart failure (her heart was at 50% about 3 years ago). She no longer wanted to live by herself (she had a couple of falls and didn't like cooking or eating alone). After looking at an assistant living facility she decided the best move would be to my house where she could be around family 24/7 and have meals cooked for her and eat with family. My wife and I and mom planned and implemented construction in our lower level and built her a beautiful, comfortable living space of her own. She moved in Labor Day weekend and the transition process began. First on the agenda was to find her a new car, the car dad had bought her and maintained was on it's last leg. She chose an updated version of the car she had driven for years. Her oncologist stopped her intravenous Chemo treatments temporarily to give her body a break. He explained, as he always did, that this was not a curable cancer, stage 4, as it had spread to other organs. He gave the analogy of a car moving at 70 miles an hour and we're doing whatever we can to slow it down to 20-30 miles an hour, while maintaining a good quality of life. He began an estrogen blocker shot twice a month, which gave her minimal to no side effects. She immediately began to feel better, she gained her appetite back (especially treats), strength and spirit. Mom kept her independent living for the most part. We brain stormed often for ways she could stay involved with the things she enjoyed and to be able to visit with the people she loved as often as possible. Family visited regularly, especially grand kids and great grand kids. She attended every birthday party and every celebration she got invited to locally. She did her normal things, regular confession, daily Rosary, reading and prayer group. She attended mass every weekend with our family, we alternated between Holy Trinity, Stillwater and various twin city churches that fit into our schedule that weekend. She opted to receive 17 rounds of radiation treatment in November and December to reduce an irritating lump she had in her shoulder area. Because of the back to back treatments she also learned to use Uber and had a couple of local family members help get her to these appointments. Everyone knows how much she loves being with people and talking. She was so excited to see whoever was taking her to her appointments even if she only had a small amount of time with them on the car ride there and back. The radiation worked, the lump was significantly reduced. Her and my two daughters took on a project over the holidays. For Christmas, Grandma made "grama jamas" for all her grand kids for years and years. She had stopped when Dad passed away, so they decided to work together making "grama jamas" for her 8 great grand children. They picked out the patterns, shopped for the fabric and worked together. The girls did most of the sewing as she instructed, taught and ripped out mistakes to re-do. It was a successful project, all 8 great grandchildren have their first "grama jamas", the tradition lives on. In January she took a trip to her daughter, Ann's home in Bismarck, ND. She did fabulous navigating through the airport on her own and flying. She talked about that trip for weeks when she got home, it was a great way to break up the winter (even though Bismarck had record cold temperatures that weekend). When she returned home we all realized she needed a little more help and attention, so she interviewed and hired PCA's from a local home health care provider, Bright Star, a couple of days a week. The service gave her more freedom as they could drive her anywhere she wanted to go, they could help her bake and cook if she wanted, do some extra cleaning and picking up, organizing and good company. She was in the process of adding a couple more days a week and was set up to have 24/7 care as it was needed in the future. In February we celebrated her 87th birthday, mass with her sister in law Donna and brunch at her apartment with my wife and I, Donna and her other two sons Tony and Kevin (the girls were on an annual girls weekend). She so enjoyed seeing and visiting with Donna, neither of them had been able to get out enough to see each other over the winter. Kevin and Tony started in with their usual catch up stories and she was totally in her happy place just being in the presence of family and friends, laughing, eating and enjoying being with people. On Sunday March 1, 2020 Mom attended, with my family, a 3rd birthday party for my granddaughter Nancy. My son Sam noticed how much she lit up and the happier and more energy she showed as the morning went on. She loves being with her grandkids and great-grand kids, even with all the commotion and craziness, it gives her joy and energy. The next day, Monday March 2, 2020 I took mom to her regularly scheduled Oncologist appointment where she would receive her estrogen blocker shot and speak with her doctor about her ongoing and future treatment. I dropped her off at the door as usual and then went to park the car. Mom could not catch her breath from the front door of the building to the door of the clinic. We had noticed more shortness of breath recently but this was the worse it had gotten. She got her shot and was told to see a (lay person language) lung doctor to find out what was going on with her lungs before her Oncologist moved forward with recommended treatment for her Cancer. On Tuesday March 3, 2020 she got her lungs checked out and they determined she had Pneumonia, prescribed medication and ordered an MRI for Thursday. Her daughter Mary Pat and her had planned a long over due time together to see Donna and have some mother daughter time. When Mary Pat went to pick her up from her MRI appointment they were told she needed to be admitted to the hospital. Here is where the whirlwind begins and our lives began to be turned upside down. The details and sequence of events is still a little blur and the details are difficult to remember as so much has happened so fast. Here is the best overview I can give you right now. Mom was admitted into United Hospital late afternoon Thursday, it was determined her lungs were full of fluid and her heart was now at around 32% capacity. She was put on an IV to drain the fluid, catheter and oxygen. Friday she was very tired and weak, the IV was working to drain the fluid but we still did not know what the status of the Cancer in her lungs was. Saturday she was better, sitting up eating and less tired. She got some update on her heart condition and options for treatment. Sunday more information was gathered about her lungs and heart, still waiting for information from Oncology. She decided she did not want to make any decisions on her own, that she wanted all 5 of her children to meet with the social worker and her doctors to make some medical decisions. Monday was about the same as Sunday, physical therapy had gotten her up a few times, she said it felt good to get up, but she was still very tired and weak. Tuesday March 10, 2020 at 10am was the meeting where all 5 of her kids were there. She was admitted to Good Samaritan nursing home on Thursday March 19, 2020, full hospice care, with limited visitation. Friday my daughter Emily had a beautiful, peaceful 1 1/2 hour visit with Grandma. Martha, Angie and I went to visit her on Saturday March 21, 2020 and were told all nursing homes and hospice care facilities were on lock down, no visitors or they would lose their license. Tuesday March 24th she was quickly transported to Quiet Oaks in St Augusta, Mn where her 5 children only can see her for 3 designated one hour visitations per day. I am going to see her tomorrow morning to be with her alone as long as I possibly can to say goodbye. Emily and I will continue to update all of you dear friends and family as we have more news. Please post notes to mom here, whoever is with her, be it her kids or staff will read her your love notes, prayers, and memories. It is very helpful to our family to read these posts, it's comforting to hear the good memories and love you have for her. As mom would want all of us to do please pray a daily Rosary, the chaplet of Devine Mercy and recently she purchased St Joseph medals and is asking us to pray to him for strength (today is his feast day). You all know and have been recipients of her prayer request cards from various religious orders. She recently wrote this prayer request, that never got sent, to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, we have this in her own writing and will treasure it forever. This is so mom, and you all know this is all that every mattered to her.
“For my children and their families – Larry and Martha, Tony and Mary, Mary Pat and Al, Kevin and Amy, Ann and Greg, 18 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. For them all to draw closer to Jesus and increase in their faith. For a peaceful death for myself – for me to accept whatever God wills in my life”.