Wednesday, January 31, 2018

And Then I Blinked

It happens all the time. I blink, or maybe you blinked and the next thing you know you are dusting cobwebs off of your blog looking for the right place to start again. It is so easy to use the excuse of "I'm so busy" or "there is so much going on." We all suffer from it and we get distracted. Well, maybe I should say I get distracted, you have to decide what happens in your case.

Since we last met, my soon to be 93 year old dad sold their house which was a mile away from my house, and he now lives with us. Fortunately, when we purchased the house we now live in, there was plenty of room in case something of this nature came up. My dad also still drives (scary enough for another post).

I am fortunate that both of my parents are still with us. My 92 year old mom however, is a shell of her former self. Or so I thought. She has had a diagnosis of early onset dementia for more than 12 years. She fell and broke her hip almost two years ago. She didn't engage in physical therapy and is now bedridden. She doesn't speak, or if she does it is only one or two words, very haltingly and it takes everything she has to get them out. On occasion she will feed herself, on most however, she doesn't. As a result my brothers and sisters take turns relieving dad and sitting with mom at the Center during the evening and making sure she gets food and cared for properly.

About a week ago my wife Diane called while I was with mom. So in an effort to get mom to engage more, I asked Diane to talk to mom. So I put the phone to her ear and to my surprise, every thing Diane asked, mom responded to with words. Maybe only one or two, but they were clear and audible. I was shocked. I explained it to my younger brother in San Antonio and told him I would be there on Tuesday if he wanted to give it a try. He called and the same response from mom, to each and every question he asked. It was interesting to see how she responded. She was breathing heavy, I could tell her heart rate elevated and it was a struggle but she did it.

As science gives us more and more info about the brain, I do so wish they could explain things like dementia and Alzheimer's because I would love to see what is transpiring in my mom's head.

So much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Have you had the Talk – 2

Back in July when I wrote “Have you Had the Talk” I was going to leave it at that. Since that time many things have transpired so I want to start expanding on that a bit as more and more people are talking to me about the same topic.

My siblings and I are fortunate that mom and dad took care of their money and investments. So far there has been little “investment” from the children toward this care but there has definitely been some close scrutiny to make sure things are in place. We have been fortunate that dad has allowed us that access with very little struggle. Looking in to different types of help such as veteran benefits and Medicaid, the difficulty that I have seen is that you have to be almost completely destitute financially in order to go down that path. Since mom and dad handled things well, we would have to play the game of them turning everything over to someone to appear to not have anything and then use those programs. It is important that you take the time to pursue every avenue of help you can, but know that it is time consuming. We are talking about doing what we can for our parents and yet I still believe we can never afford what our parents truly deserve.
 If you have had the privilege of meeting my parents, you know as well as I do they pay their own way. They still have their house which is a mile away from mine. I write out bills for dad on a regular basis and if I am not available, my older sister handles that chore.

Once again, if you haven’t had the talk, don’t wait. Yes, it is hard to do, yes, people don’t want you in their stuff, but having to make decisions when you have no choice and emotions are high is a tough way to go.

So much to learn and so little time.



Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Journey with Jim

Shortly after being asked to be a participant in the life transition of Leanne, I was asked to walk with another parishioner by the name of Jim. Jim had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Our first visit was in the hospital where he was being treated. He was there for about a week this time so I made frequent visits as we established a deeper relationship.

I had known the family for some time as their oldest son went to the school I work at and the family were founding members of our parish. Jim was a focused, involved man in the parish, and also as a husband, father, brother. He was a good guy that always looked to get the best out of every situation and person he met. Jim was never caustic that I saw through the years but supportive, caring and gentle.

I was honored to be brought into his life at this time. The chance to see where a person’s faith has brought them and how they are thinking and believing is one that is a true privilege. The love Jim had and showed for people also showed in the people that showered not only Jim, but also his wife and family with love and care in the end. Jim was surrounded by his family, his siblings and other relatives, all doing whatever they could to help Jim to be comfortable in his final days.
His funeral was a true celebration of his life. We laughed and cried and we prayed for Jim, because we now know he is praying for and helping to watch over us. As Jim slept one day while I was visiting (there is a joke in there somewhere I am sure) I did what I have starting doing, I pulled out my phone, opened the Pages app and started writing.

Jim – September 26, 1936 – August 3, 2016

For Jim

I walked in the room and said hello
He turned his head in my direction
The look was one of recognition
He was more relaxed than yesterday
The words of prayer we whispered softly
Then he told me that God had found him
So different from yesterday he was
For he questioned all and was troubled
Yet now he knows and has heard the call
For God has found him and that was all
That Jim needed to make the decision
The family agrees as well as physicians
So home he will go tomorrow morning
But it could be just a spiritual yearning
A life with no pain or age he seeks
A true life with God is what he needs
A good a faithful servant he has been
So thankfully now Jim gets the ultimate win.

June 2016

The words written don’t do him justice. It is important to remember we are all in this together. We are all members of the human race. My hope in these situations is to bring some comfort and understanding to the people I work with. That and to merely be a vessel for the Holy Spirit to work through me to bring these people to their ultimate home.

Jim, you have been a good and faithful servant. May you rest in peace.

So much to learn and so little time.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Man and His Wife

As a deacon in the Catholic Church, I get a lot of opportunities to work with people in different situations. A little more than two years ago I was asked by a woman with terminal cancer to walk with her as she came to terms with her mortality. I would like to think I helped her as she seemed more and more comfortable the closer she got. I can assure you that along the way she taught me a great deal as well. She passed away in early April and her funeral Mass was held at Holy Spirit, which is the Church I am assigned to with the Diocese of Dallas.
She was cremated and her burial was later in Kansas where the family has burial property in a beautiful cemetery in Fredonia. I was able to travel to Fredonia to officiate the burial and visit once again with family and friends of this wonderful woman. The opportunity that was presented was a result of relationships. Relationships that are established early in life as well as relationships that came about later.
While in Kansas, I took the time to do some writing and came up with the following that I want to dedicate to both the husband and wife who were so very generous by allowing me in to their home on a very regular basis. I titled this:
 A Husband’s Wife.

What is the value of a life
Ask the husband who lost his wife
For 50 years they wove their souls
Now we ask for whom the bell tolls
The care that he gave her while she was ill
Could never repay her but she asked for nil
Was love that brought them both together
And love that led them to be better
They are both a shining example to see
For I was the one that got to be
In their home to listen and lead
I even took time with God to plead
To make her well so they could continue
To lead their lives ‘twas a busy venue
Yet they were given those 50 years
And he now knows she has no fears
For in the arms of God she waits
For him to arrive at those beautiful gates
To walk hand in hand in God’s great land
May she rest in peace as part of God’s plan.

June 2016

I still meet with her husband on occasion and he is working though his pain. He is fortunate to have so many loving and caring friends and family to surround him as that is how they led their lives. Always reaching out and being there for others. I continue to learn so much and I am honored to have these opportunities.

So much to learn and so little time.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Have a Son.

I have one son and the other day I sent him a text. This was the day after so much chaos broke loose in Dallas. When things of this nature happen, I usually send a text telling him I love him and I hope he is OK. When I send those he knows I am thinking, which is always dangerous.

So he sends back:

"I love you too man! You OK?"

I responded with:

" Just when crap breaks loose like last night, I worry a bit more about you and the world we live in and have created."

He responded with:

"It's going well. I was watching some of the coverage at work last night. What can you do but remind yourself you live in one of the nicest areas of a very decent community within one of the most diverse and prosperous metro areas within one of the most economically stable, beautiful, proud states in a nation that stands at the very top of the ladder in the order of the most advanced and sophisticated species on the planet? Not so bad. Sure crazies are out there. Sure people will succumb to fear and hate. But we have the best chance of anyone in the known universe of living a good life and enjoying our journey here. How many people get to say that? We'll be alright."

My response:

"Excuse me. Is this Daniel Wood? Paul Wood's son? LOL. of course you are right and I am proud that you see that. I love you buddy."

While I was proud he understands that he and I have not had the conversation that while we do have that chance, not everybody here has that chance. I was incredibly proud of him both then and now. I was glad he understood that much and I am sure he understands a lot more. We will continue to have those discussions. He taught his old man something that night.

So much to learn and so little time.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Have You Had The Talk?

Thank you Aimee G. Bartis! Aimee has been on a real writing spree this summer all because of a book she read. "Start" by Jon Acuff.  As a result she has had me thinking about getting back to writing. The difficulty I have had is write about what? 

So the first question I have is have you had the talk with your parents? Many people that I have come to know have lost a parent or both and I have seen the struggles they have gone through. I hate to see people hurting. I wonder if they have had the talk. The talk about what the parents want done as they age? As the parents become disabled? As parents move toward that transitional stage of life from here to there.

My family is fortunate in that we have had the talk with mom and dad and we are pretty much on the same page. I say pretty much because once you get to that point, emotions happen, a lot of emotions. As a result sometimes the thought process can get very skewed. Our dad is 90 and our mom is 89. 10 years ago dad was burned over 45% of his body and all of his burns were third degree. Mom was there by his side as were all of the children. There are 6 of us altogether, three girls and three boys.

Dad is doing well all things considered. He mowed his lawn up until three years ago and had to quit and then he had an aorta valve replaced. Our mom has early onset dementia diagnosed 10 years ago. Two months ago she fell at home and broke her hip. Surgery, rehab for 21 days and she returned home, yet the care she needed was not going to happen at the house as dad was hoping. We put in to place a lot of care and a lot of hours during the day for them both. As we looked, we came to realize that the cost for this care was greater than many, very good facilities.

So we gently began talking with dad about next steps. It wasn't until he had a chance to reconcile the fact that mom will probably not return home from the care facility that he was able to come to terms with the decision. These are not easy decisions, especially when your parents of part of "THAT GENERATION." They can't be made like you make business decisions. I hope you have had the talk. If not, I hope you can initiate it with your parents.

For some of us, mainly talking about myself here, I have had the discussion with my son and also Diane. Yep, I am that old.

So much to learn and so little time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pre-ISTE 2011 Musings

As I sit and contemplate the begining of ISTE 11, I wonder how many are concerned with being heard, seen, or just being noticed. Lately there have been many wonderful posts about what to do and how to approach an ISTE and the immense overflow of input that people will face as they try to ingest the gluttunous amount of stimuli. I have already heard someone state "I am star struck." So many people are here to be heard, so many are here that need to be heard and so many that want to be heard.

Recently Bud Hunt had a post wondering if we are listening with all of the talk and "chatter" that is going on. While Beth Still has done a good job with trying to include more people, especially the "newbies," I still wonder if we are reaching out enough to truly be inclusive?

There are many that have worked hard to attain the "status" they have and I applaud them for that and I hope they continue to forge the way. There are many trying to be heard and I sometimes feel that it is hard to be heard over the din. Everyone knows there are problems with schools, everyone knows that the politico's are trying to balance budgets on the backs of teachers and schools, everyone knows that economy is hurting everyone.

But as I look around, many of the things we are doing are merely a GUI digital version of what we have been doing for years. One of the differences is that we can do the same things with people from all over the world. I have so many questions rumbling around in my head and the main part of ISTE 11 hasn't even started. I guess my main point in all of this is YES, we have problems but how are we solving them? What are WE doing to make things right? How are we as leaders laying it on the line to make it better for all of those who are trying, who do give a damn, who do reach kids each and every day and may not have the electronic tools that some of us have?

How are we supporting what our children need? I believe that Tech Directors (and that is what I am) or the keepers of the networks, need to loosen their death grips on "their" networks. The world is unfiltered. Does that mean let it all through? No, of course not. To me it means block the crap but still teach our children to continue to refine their crap detectors. Show responsible digital citizenship and in order to do that we have to allow our colleagues to be the professionals that they are each and every day.

We also need to listen and we need to listen the old fashioned way with mouths shut and both ears open with an open mind. We may need to do it the truly old fashioned way by repeating what the other person says and stating it so that they have an opportunity to say no this is what I meant and then formulate an answer. I must admit that when I first started as a tech director it was all about the hardware, the stability and speed of "my" network. Now I work with my boss and the curriculum director and it is the educational needs of our students and school that drive what our network does and definitely not the other way around.

Fortunately, I have a great boss that allows me a lot of freedom and as a result this is my 13 or so ISTE. But 4 years ago I met some of those folks I consider true leaders who helped me to understand and to truly "get it." I am just thankful that the Lord helped me to be open minded and willing to continue to learn because that way I can take the time to hear what is being said and continue to learn from there.

I hope you have a great experience at ISTE and don't merely run from one thing to another. Take the time to truly engage with people, listen to what they are really saying and learn what you need to learn to help resolve some of the issues that you may have in your classroom, in your building, in your district or state. Just know there are people here willing to help and support you.

It took me a while to figure it out. Enjoy your time in Philadelphia.

So much to learn and so little time.