Archive forSeptember, 2008

Dancin’ Shoes

Today we brushed off our dancing shoes and went to the “ballroom dance practice.” It would have been fun, but John had remembered more than I had and I was frustered. I kept reverting to the dance styles of my youth, and that was “wrong.” I therefore came away feeling like a failure.

But on a positive note, I spent a great deal of time talking with music folks from Michigan who had attended the ODPC (Original Dulcimer Players Club) annual meeting. It was held yesterday and there were some major changes. If you will recall, back in July, I resigned from my role as workshop leader chairman because, when I took concerns to the board from my workshop leaders, no one would listen. My resignation prompted others to review the goings on in the ODPC and it was a general feeling that the leadership wasn’t responding. Therefore, some very intelligent members made an extra effort to be at yesterday’s meeting. Armed with knowledge and understanding, they convinced those present to make a change. A new board was elected.

I am optimistic that the changes will bring new life into this organization. The new folks who were elected are enthusiastic and eager to respond to the concerns of those who have been ignored.

I feel badly that folks had hurt feelings, but I’m sure glad that now the ODPC has found a core group who will try to make things better for the members. From the start of yesterday’s meeting, apparently there was no attempt by the president to respond to the concerns which had been expressed in July at the wrap up meeting after the festival. Instead there was just a move-on-everything’s fine attitude. The voting proved otherwise. All officers (except the secretary) were replaced.

So I’m back as workshop chairman and really pleased to be able to assume my role. I fit in this job and I am sure that folks feel I do a good job in it.

Thanks to all those wonderful folks who took time to go to the ODPC meeting. They are to be respected and admired because they cared enough to “get involved.” In this day and age, it’s a rare person who goes out on a limb to stand for (and work for) a cause with no expectation of pay or reward. They saw a problem. They are working to fix it. I’m 100% supportive of the new board.

I can’t say I’m “happy” because that would be to feel good when others feel very wounded, but I am sure that in the end, even the doubters will appreciate some new attitudes.

It took a lot of research and preparation to prepare for the meeting. There were enough people who cared so they did their homework.

Long may the ODPC flourish in the capable hands of folks who want to continue the tradition!!

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The morning after

Yesterday we had to decide about some of the improvements. The door from the living room out to the backyard of our place needs to be replaced. We had already decided that we want a new one anyway because it’s ugly ugly. A pretty door with character is needed to dress up that part of the living room. The seller will give us credit for the purchase of a simple door. We’ll upgrade.

Other repairs are minor.

This a.m. I will finish up some of the paper work for another of my mother’s annuities and start packing for our move. I’m going to purge a lot of the junk I’ve been accumulating here.

We went to Rockin’ Rondevzous last night. Seeing our friends is always fun. Sue Sussman introduced us to one of our new neighbors, Linda. She is nice. She said our new neighborhood is very social. We’ll miss a big neighborhood get-together in December but I guess that’ll be just one of many.

On our way home from the South Club last night, we went past “our” place. The view was awesome. We hoped to catch the sunset, but instead arrived to see the colorful sky silhoutetting the palms. The ponds behind “our” condo reflected the hue. It’s lovely. And to think we’ll soon own it! Yeah!

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What a week!

So much is going on that I feel over-whelmed.

I flew back from Michigan Sunday. In Michigan, I’d arranged Mom’s funeral.

After returning to Florida, the urgent need to find and move into a condo of our own hit me. It’s a big step. From an investment standpoint, it seems like the “time is right” and the price is lower on the one we found than the market estimate (on But between resolving Mom’s estate and completing this condo deal, it’s a challenge.

We’ve had our new place inspected and now we’re waiting for some minor repairs. It looks like, once that’s done, we can hand them a check and we can move. It will probably be October 6th.

I hadn’t realized that “moving money” takes so much time. We had money in our Michigan bank and credit union accounts, but getting it down here in a Florida bank is slower than we anticipated. We should have done a more direct transfer because the transfer of the money is slowing down our closing. We have stuff to do anyway, but now that we’re close, we’re getting anxious to get settled.

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It’s Over

Mom’s funeral is over. It went very well. I had asked a minister from the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland to perform the service. He did a very nice job. The highlight of the service was a message from my mother’s long time best friend. It really put a personal touch on everything.

Elaine’s message was as follows:

Date sent: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 19:29:30 -0700
From: “E. Doehring”
To: Sharon Skaryd
Subject: Ruby

“Dear Sharon,

“Thank you for letting us know about your Mother’s death.
For some reason I had thought about her several times these last few
days. I wondered how she was doing. And how you were doing, too. I was
also remembering some of the days of long ago in the days when we were
young. I have been told that we played together when we were about 2
years old. I do not remember that, but for some reason I remember that
they lived in a big house with lots of shade. It felt so cool. I think
we were living in a place that did not have trees.
We had such fun in high school. She was a lot more popular with the boys
than I was, but I was willing to just have them around!! One of those
boys was Harry, which I am sure you know. [NOTE: Harry is Elaine’s husband
and later in this message she talks about the fun they had after Elaine and Harry and
my mom and dad were married.]
He seemed like such a nuisance to me but it
was fun to have him around!! One year we sat together. (At that time there were
two seater desks) She always seemed happy and pretty and fun!! I really envied her
having so many sisters. I just had brothers and they were such a nuisance!
One year I drove to school and was instructed by my father that I could not go off
“the meridian” and the pavement into Merrill. Ruby needed a ride and my route was about
3/4 of a mile from her house. Dad would not allow me to drive down and pick
her up–one side of the road had a huge ditch and he was sure I would
drive in it. So she would walk to the corner and I would pick her up.
Even in mid winter. Then we would talk and giggle al the way to school.
Even today, I feel that my Dad was wrong, but that is the way it was.
Later, after we both were married, the four of us became good friends.
your Father was also a very special person and we had such good times
with them. One of the most memorable to us was when we lived in a tiny
basement apartment in Dearborn. You were a very new baby, and you all
stayed overnight with us. Our bed was a sofa bed that opened for night
time use and all FIVE of us slept in it. (Fitfully, I assure you) You
may have had a basket thingy that you were in. That is one of our most
special memories. Also the times at the lake, and so many others.
You have been a wonderful daughter. Sometimes it must have been a trial,
but now that it is over, you will never regret that you took good care
of her. I guess that special mothers often have special daughters.
Crazy as it sounds, for we hadn’t seen each other for a long time, I
miss her. Somehow my world has changed. This is the first year in years
that I did not send her a card for her birthday. Even if she couldn’t
have read it, I feel negligent for forgetting my best friend.
Take care of yourselves, and I hope you will keep in touch with me.

Love, Elaine—and Harry, too.”

The attendance for today’s funeral and for the luncheon was hard to project. I planned for 75, we probably had fewer than 50. Denny and I took home enough ham, au gratin potatoes, and beans to feed an army. (After I enjoy them tonight for dinner, I’ll freeze mine.)

I should be packing to head back to Florida. But right now I’m enjoying a quiet time with a glass of wine and my thoughts.

Mom was a special lady. She enjoyed fun times and always seemed willing to participate. She was multi-talented. One guest last night said, “When she worked (at Consumers Power), your mother was the smartest, best organized person I knew. She was always on-top of things.”

My parents were half way through a huge cottage addition and renovation when my father developed a heart condition. Mom became the “lady carpenter” (which was her CB “handle” back in the 70’s). Dad couldn’t go up on a ladder any more, so Mom did the roofing, the siding, the dry-walling and finished the addition so that it was a show-place. She was awesome.

After retiring to Florida, she joined golf leagues, ball room dance classes and clubs, and traveled the world.

She had a good life. I can just imagine what a feeling of dread must have over-come her when she realized she was losing her memory. It probably was noticeable to her eight to ten years ago. She didn’t tell us and wouldn’t admit to her condition, but she detailed her life in a notebook and made excellent “notes” for me so I could take over her affairs. She made sure she had a long-time insurance policy which covered a large percentage of her expenses these past four years.

My mom’s gone now. But as my husband pointed out, people live on in memories. As long as we remember them, they’ll always exist.

I remember Mom.
I remember Dad.
I recall with detail my great grandmother, Clara Brophey.

Those are the generations that went before me and the strong influences which shaped the person I am now.

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Hard Day

I’m preparing to go to the funeral home for mom’s afternoon-evening “showing”. I’m sure it’ll be difficult. I have been so busy that I haven’t really had time to deal with emotions.

Here’s her obituary as it appears on the Ware Smith Woolever website:

Mom’s Obituary

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Chaotic Week

My life certainly is in turmoil. So much is happening!

I’ve been handling the arrangements for Mom’s funeral.

My brother, Denny, has been very helpful. I now understand better why he had backed away from the problem of caring for Mom. For a couple of years I had been very disappointed in his “lack of interest” but I now understand that he had problems of his own (his wife left him unexpectedly), and he was overwhelmed by his own problems. And I probably gave the impression that I didn’t want interference. (I have a negative tendency to “take charge.”) It was easier to do thiings my way without consulting him, so he just stayed away.

But he’s been there to help me with the arrangements, and he’s been very cooperative when it comes to the division of any of Mom’s possessions. It could have been a problem had he insisted in a precise 50:50 split of the stuff that’s in the condo. Since we bought so much of it, it would be tough to sort it out and make it equitable. He’s assured me that the condo contents are mine.

John and I have had an offer accepted on a condo which we think will work perfectly for us. There are some minor things which we will want to do to it, but those are projects we can deal with later. For now our only concern is to get everything done so we can move within the time allowed by Hoagie’s kids. (Hoagie was Mom’s husband who died last February. The condo, which was in a “life estate” was for my mother’s use but only during her lifetime. Now it’ll go to Hoagie’s heirs.) They have told us to be out within 30 days. That’s certainly not a very friendly way to handle it, but we are trying to comply.

Closing on the condo is scheduled for October 6th. We will then have three weeks to get settled before we head home.

The condo we’re buying is live-in-ready. The carpet is clean, and it’s empty. Our few pieces of furniture will rattle around in the huge (20 x 22 foot) living room, but we can certainly get by.

I’ll even have a small “office” off the kitchen. Nothing fancy, but we won’t have to have my computer stuff out where it’s in the way. Our music stuff can go in the guest room. The separate dining room will need a breakfront or hutch, but that’s for the future.

Our golf cart will be able to stay clean in the garage. We’ll have lots of room there to store our possessions.

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I’ve been really busy making arrangements for my mother’s funeral.

As I mentioned previously, she died on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday were spent cleaning out her room at Cypress Creek. We donated her incontinent supplies to the Shriner’s Hospital, her clothes to the “Nearly New” sale which helps the disadvantaged, and we gave her wheel chair to the Emergency Services in Sun City Center. It all took time!

Today I flew into Tri-City airport (aka MBS = Midland/Bay City/Saginaw) at 3:00. It was a rush to get to the bank and retrieve her important papers (insurance, birth certificate, last will, funeral contracts).

Tomorrow my brother, Denny, and I will make the arrangements at the Ware Smith Woolever Funeral Home in Midland. We’ve set the visitation times: Friday 3:00 for family, 4:00-7:00 for friends and relatives; Saturday 9:00-10:00. The funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be at Midland Memorial Gardens. There’ll be a noon luncheon at the American Legion Post in Midland.

So that’s the plan.

I’ve been going through photos and memorabilia and I think we have assembled a nice presentation of the highlights Mom’s life.

John stayed in Florida. Ideally we would have driven back together, but not after just having made that long trip down there (we arrived Saturday) and, since we have to move out of our condo in 30 days, we’d have to turn around and drive right back. (Flying wasn’t an option for both of us since we had our pets with us.)

He’s busy checking out condos. We have been looking for about three years, but since we had an obligation to take care of Mom’s we couldn’t seriously look until now. The one that we like best is lovely. It’s the one I mentioned in my last post. Especially since we will only use it about four months out of the year, it’ll be perfect. I especially like the huge open 20 x 24 foot living room with vaulted ceilings and the to-die-for sunset side view of a pond and golf course. We’ll be a lot more comfortable than in the condo we’ve been using. I hope it works out.

Even if we could have purchased Mom’s condo, it is in a no-pets area. Since the neighbors like us and since everyone knew I was caring for my mother, they didn’t say anything, but we know with certainty that we couldn’t continued to have our Willow dog at the Fallow Court condo. The condo we’re interested in is in a pet-friendly association.

It’s a good thing I’ve been so busy. I haven’t had time to really dwell on my loss. But at 5:00 p.m. each night I get the feeling that I need to be with Mom to feed her. It really hits me at that time.

If we buy a place, we’ll definitely be busy which will help fill the void which now exists in our lives.

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Mom’s Gone

My mother left this earth at 11:00 last night, September 14th.

Today I have been trying to notify family, find pallbearers, and make other arrangements.

I have flights home to Saginaw leaving from Tampa Wednesday. The funeral will be Saturday (although the time hasn’t been determined). I’ll head back to Florida Sunday.

For the past three years, we have been staying in the condo my mother shared with her husband, Laurel Hoagland (Hoagie). She had a life-estate (meaning it was for her use until she died). We therefore need to find a new place to stay.

Today we looked for a condo. We found a nice one at a reasonable price that will fit our needs. I think we are ready to make an offer. I don’t know if they’ll accept, but we can try. We’d like to be ready to start the move-in with two weeks so we can get settled by October 30, when we head home.

It is 1,400+ sq. feet with two bedrooms, two baths, a large two car garage, a den (which we will use as music room or dining room), a screened lanai, a lovely pond/golf course view, high vaulted ceilings, a nice bar arrangement, and a living room that’s HUGE!! We like the layout. We’re concerned that we may not have enough furnishings, but we can get by. John would have a workshop in the garage. I have my choice of a couple locations for an office, and all and all it’s very nice and hopefully a good investment.

Our primary concern is the arrangements for my mother but the condo situation is also important since we want as much time as possible to move and settle in.

I need to pack (again) tomorrow. I had no idea I’d be headed back to Saginaw so soon.

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Mom’s really failing

I was with Mom today. Sadly try as I might, I couldn’t find the mother I’ve always known. She’s a shell without the ability to recognize me. She’s near death. We’re trying to make arrangements. It’s difficult. We knew it would eventually happen, but we’re still not prepared.

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The trip without a computer

It’s been hard to stay occupied while riding from Michigan to Florida.

I’m accustomed to co-piloting with the use of my GPS, which runs through my laptop. Since starting these long trips, I’ve always been able to go on line, using a connection through my cellphone to my computer. But this time, with none of that to keep me busy, this trip has been longer and more boring.

I had thought for sure that I could restore my old computer to the point that I could get on line with it. I hoped for the cellphone internet connection, but I quickly discovered that wasn’t going to happen.

I still thought I had myself covered for at least a daily check in. I’d booked a business king room for the first motel (Thursday night) so it had internet. I was even successful connecting but only one time. After that I couldn’t get the computer to recognize the network. Hopefully it was the motel’s system problem, and not my computer. I should have used the motel’s computer lounge, but I was already ready for bed when I discovered the problem, so I thought I’d wait until Friday (last) night.

Unfortunately last night’s motel had no public terminal and subscribing for one night’s T-Mobile service would have cost $9.95, which may have been wasted if making an internet connection wasn’t possible, so I didn’t try.

Our Vonage phone (which serves us both in Florida and in Michigan) is also messed up. When my computer was dying, I had changed the setting but I did it incorrectly (that’s what I get for hurrying) The way it’s set up, instead of being forwarded to voice mail, when someone calls our regular phone line, they get an operator asking for the pin number. At least folks aren’t leaving messages. Very few folks have our cell phone number since generally I can have our phone forwarded to our cellphone.

At least I know that, as soon as I have internet access, I can fix that problem. We’ll have both our Saginaw and our Florida phone lines with unlimited calling.

By cellphone, I was able to contact Mom’s nursing home and Mom’s caregiver to give them our cell number. No one has called so I assume no news is good news.

Hopefully I will be able to get on line using my old computer from the condo. If not, I can make trips to the club house until my new computer arrives mid-week. .

I haven’t been able to retrieve any email since Wednesday. There’s no way to know if I’ve missed sales contacts or not.

So I’m riding along. I have Word, Excel, and Lotus installed on my old computer. I’m using the word processor to type this in hopes of eventually up-loading it to my blog.

Fifty miles and we’ll be at the Georgia/Florida border.

Hurricane Ike has really played havoc with gas prices. The lowest we’ve paid has been $3.80 Thursday, but we’re seeing much higher prices today in the mid $4 range.

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My computer died!

Although I’d known for a while that my computer had a terminal condition, I was still hoping. Tuesday, September 9, 2008, after long and faithful service, I had to acknowledge it was gone. It showed me one last blue screen and then nothing…

Right now John and I are heading south to be with Mom. She’s not doing well. Monday, I had signed the paperwork to allow hospice to help with her care. She was moved to the Sun City Hospice House while I was flying back to Michigan Tuesday, September 9th.

Wednesday was a blur. We had a performance plus we had to finish packing. I talked with the Hospice folks and with Mercedes, Mom’s caregiver, several times.

Thursday about 9:00 a.m., we hit the road to drive back down to Florida. Mom’s new hospice doctor contacted me. She said at some point I should decide not to continue her treatment. She said it would be kinder to let Mom die of an infection that extend her life much longer.

I’m not ready to do that. I still think she hasn’t reached that point yet when it’s appropriate to make that decision. We’re headed back to her. The doctor has said, and I am sure, she will recover from this infection and continue to live but probably not very long..

I fear this trip to Florida is my final opportunity both to be with Mom and to convince John that buying a place in Florida would be a good idea. It will be that much sadder for me, if I lose Mom AND the life-style and friends we have come to enjoy and are such a big part of our lives. I hope John sees it that way too. I know for me, it will be a double loss if we don’t continue to be in Kings Point several months out of the year.

But I’m an eternal optimist. My experience with my computer is a little like my experience with Mom. I kept hoping and I was sure that my laptop would run on and on. Sadly I was wrong. I had made contingency plans (back-ups), but I was unprepared. Of course the computer is just a handy device and replaceable. With Mom, I’ve been her caretaker. I’ve nursed her and made sure she was safe. I’ve hugged her and held her. I’ve learned to be me more caring and to be happy with small miracles like Tuesday’s hoarsely stated, “I love you” which she said before I left.

I’ll be with Mom this afternoon.

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Working through Florida problems

I’ve been without my computer for almost a week. I think I’ve just maxxed it out there’s no longer space for temporary files to be written so it crashes… and crashes and crashes. I spent over two hours trying to get on-line so I could order a new computer today. I had it all picked out but if I went on line and used a website, I could get $150 more off the price. I finally gave up and went to the computer lab at the Club House. I was able to take advantage of the offer.

My new computer is a titanium grey Sony Vaio which will have a monster 400 GB hard drive 4 meg of ram and every bell and whistle you can think of. (I’ve had a Vaio for the past 3 1/2 years and I’ve loved it. If this one serves me as well, I’ll be happy.)

It should be shipped within about five days! I can’t wait. I’m so tired of waiting for my crashes to resolve only to have the “blue screen of death” come up again.

The last few days have been busy — filled with problems and not enough pool time!

A friend of ours (Jay Morris) passed away last Tuesday unexpectedly. Wednesday I went to dinner with neighbor Loretta. Thursday there was a memorial service for Jay. He was the one who took the photo I posted a few days ago of John and me in the pool. He will be missed especially at the pool where he was a fixture.

Thursday night I had a fun time at Rockin’ Rendezvous. I sat with Bob Taylor for a while and neighbors Dale and Trudy the rest of the time. Lot of friends. It was nice.

I did enjoy some sun Friday and yesterday. But Saturday I was at the hospital all day with my mother. She had a very bad UTI (infection) and was “out-of-it”. I spent nearly seven hours in the E.R. of the hospital.

Yesterday (Sunday) I was able to enjoy a little pool time, but not enough and today I’ve been too busy, but maybe I’ll dash over for a short while.

I fly back home tomorrow.

As it turned out, it was good that I’ve been down here. I was definitely needed, especially with Mom’s health crisis, and a doctor’s appointment this morning, and tonight at 6:00 p.m. I am meeting with a hospice agency to see if Mom is a candidate for hospice. If she is, she’ll be assured a permanent place at Cypress Creek.

Tomorrow, on my way to the car rental agency, I will stop and talk to Mom’s attorney about the lawsuit against Courtyards.

I need to get the place spiffyed up. John’ll be here with me Saturday and I want him to be impressed with how nice it looks. I’ve been doing laundry, cleaning, etc. today. Busy busy busy.

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One week down.. one to go

I’m half way through my solo vacation to Florida.

I’ve been visiting Mom every day and I’m realizing just how much awareness she’s lost since I was here in June. I know her remaining time is limited. Her life has been a good one, but she’s nearly gone. I doubt if she’ll live to see 2009. Much of the time she just sits with a fixed stare. There’s no reaction when I talk with her. Questions go unanswered. She just stares. I keep thinking I can “break through” to her consciousness but I guess I should accept that there’s nothing in there to reach. It’s gone.

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