Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year 2017!

I was remembering tonight the many wonderful New Year's Eves that I spent with my wonderful cousins.   We usually went to Durant's (or as my mom called it, Duranti's) for dinner and then back to Yaya's.  I would always spend the night there.   It was so fun with Tony and Yaya, Pat and Phil, Cecilia and Jay, and others through the years.   I miss those times as they were the best.   I am so grateful for my cousins and I miss both Tony and Phil.    New Year's Eve will never be the same for me!!

This has been an eventful year.   I have posted so many times about my wonderful Aunt Teresa and the decisions we have had to make for her in these past few months.   I went to visit her today at the group home.   She is in wonderful place, but when I got there today, she said she was almost ready for me to take her home.    She hasn't really asked that much since she has been at the home, but it still gets to me when she asked.   The last month she was here at my house, she asked every day that I take her home.   I have said this over and over again, but at the end of 2016, I still believe it.  I HATE Alzheimers!!   It is such a sad way to to spend the end of your life's journey robbed of the dignity of your brain.  But she is happy and in a good place.   I love Kathy and Joel, the caregivers.  They are so good to her.   Although I wish that this had not happened, I know that this was the best we could do for her at this point in her life.  

Tomorrow, January 1, 2017, I will officially be a Governing Board Member for Gilbert Public Schools.  Although I was sworn in earlier this month, the term doesn't start until tomorrow.  I am excited and a bit nervous about this new experience in my life.  I just know I will do the very best that I can always.

Yesterday I had lunch with one of my former Gilbert El kiddos.   She is amazing and is doing a lot politically in Arizona.  I am so proud of her and so glad to have reconnected with her.     That is the best part of this journey for me--to see so many of my former students doing so well.  I have such hope for our future because of these wonderful young adults.

It is a quiet evening for me.  I am "home alone" and it is certainly not anything to make a movie over. I have relaxed and watched some football and a couple of shows that I had not seen before.   It is so weird to just sit and relax.   Haven't done that for awhile and it has taken me a bit of time to get used to this new phase of my life.

The good thing is that I can fix anything I want for dinner.  I had thought about ordering out, but decided to make cauliflower and cheese soup.   I have experimented with this recipe for quite sometime, and tonight's came out delicious.      

There are a lot of fireworks going on.   The pugs have been okay, but Maya keeps barking.  I know I won't make it until midnight, but will put the doggie door down when I go to bed in hopes to keep them from barking and running outside!!

I am hopeful for 2017, but am still worried about the climate in our country right now.  I hope that what is going on leads to some dialog so that we can get past some of the awful "stuff" that has happened over the last year.   We need to be accepting and kind for all.   It is sad that having differences of opinion has lead to so much contention.     My hope is that we can come together and figure this out before it is too late.  I HATE HATRED!!!

It is almost the New Year in New York.  I will be awake for that, but hope to be asleep before it happens here in Arizona.  My sleep patterns have been so off for the last several months.    And that takes its toll.

I am so thankful for the wonderful family that we have and the incredible circle of friends that I have.  It is what is most important!!

So HAPPY NEW YEAR and hope that 2017 will bring peace, understanding and acceptance for all of us!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Embarking on a New Endeavor

It doesn't seem possible that 2016 is almost over.   It has been an eventful year is so many ways.     I have been thinking over the last few days about all that has happened this past year and the new adventure that I am embarking on in less than two weeks.  

I have written about my dear friend, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch in the past.   She is one of the most amazing humans I know.   I had posted one of her quotes awhile back about the importance of listening.   She believes that there are three things that are important in any pursuit--one of them being active listening.

I love the other two and know how important all three are to being successful in any endeavor. 

""First embrace your own story, because you can not understand where you are going until you have understood where you have been. And when you think no one knows, remember YOU KNOW! So hold on to that as your measure of ethics."

"Often in our pursuit for future endeavors, we unintentionally create distance from our past. Instead, take the good things that helped contribute to who you are today and integrate that into the workplace in a positive way. For example: if you learned something in a unique and effective way, teach someone else that technique."

"Embrace the story of others."We sometimes think of diversity as us versus them, but everyone has a story."

"Letting down your guard in business is never an easy task. Besides wanting to maintain a certain professional tone, we all have our own pre-existing notions about one another-which can sometimes be a barrier that blocks us from being open to different ideas. Remember, when working together you are all on the same team! So, drop those notions and focus on combining your differences for the good of the business"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A December to Remember

I am not a big fan of all of the hoopla of the holidays.   Never have been other than when I was a little kid and my kids were little.   I don't like to decorate and more than decorating it is taking down the decorations that I hate so I haven't done any decorating in awhile.

This year with Teresa being in the group home was especially difficult.   It was our first Christmas not knowing what to expect.    We were able to take her to Christmas Eve at Yaya's and she came to my house for Christmas dinner.

I was a bit nervous about that because it was her first time being here and I wasn't sure what she would remember or if she would want to stay. The pugs were so excited to see her, especially my black ones because they were in Douglas with us.  It was really cute to see how they all reacted when they saw her.  She was perfectly content and was ready to go back to her home after dinner.  I don't think she remembered being here or at Yaya's but we will all cherish those memories.

December also brought the swearing in for the GPS Governing Board.  I can always count on my family to show their support and this was no different.   Even my friend, Patty, went down to the County office for the swearing in.   We went to lunch after to celebrate and it was a very nice day.   I know that I have a big job ahead of me, but I will do the very best that I can with some very difficult decisions that I know are going to be coming up in the next four years.

A former student of mine from my principal years invited me to a very special event.  He met his girlfriend when they were in fourth grade at Gilbert El.    He wanted to propose to her in the classroom where they met.   He arranged with his former sixth grade teacher to set it all up.   I was so privileged to be there and so touched that I would be invited.   I have absolutely loved the reconnected with so many of my former students from when I was a principal and how incredibly supportive they have been to me.   I have heard so many of them tell me that what was important was that I knew every child's name, I had lunch with them at least once during the year when they were the Top Cat, and I gave them a birthday balloon on their birthdays.   Other than the balloons, nothing else cost any money and the balloons were not that expensive.  It proves my belief that relationships are what it is all about.   

Yesterday I spent the day figuring out how to minimize the tax bill I will have to pay for selling the rental house in Mesa and then reinvesting that money in a house for Patrick in Oakland.   Tax laws definitely hurt the middle class in my opinion.   It doesn't seem quite fair to get dinged for something like this.    Fortunately, I didn't make any money on it when I rented it and put quite a bit into improvements so I don't think I will get hurt that badly for it.    But no matter what, it was worth it for Patrick to have a nice home to live in and not a studio apartment.   Oakland is gentrifying so it is a great investment.   People can't afford to live in San Francisco anymore and Oakland is so close that housing is really starting to become expensive.   It is amazing how much different the market is here compared to there.    It is a really cute house and they have made it a home.

For the most part, 2016 has been a good year.   What has been the most difficult is watching the mental decline of my dear Aunt Teresa.   In just one short year, she was able to be left alone for periods of time, to not being able to be left alone at all, to having to be put into a home with the care that she needed that I was unable to provide.   Although it was such a difficult decision, it was the right thing to do for her.    She is happy there and is very well taken care of by the people who own it.  I miss having her here, but we go see her just about every day.

I hope that 2017 will be a good year in many ways.  I pray that Teresa does not suffer and that she is able to have some dignity in her life. I hope that my tenure on the Board will be positive, even though I realize that decisions will be criticized.  I know that I have always done the very best that I could for children, teachers and staff and I will continue to strive to make the best decisions possible.  I went to lunch with some friends on Monday and this was in my fortune cookie.  Don't usually pay attention to these, but this one was interesting, to say the least:

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Holiday Message

Growing up in Douglas and going to Loretto Catholic School, my experiences were not very diverse. When I went to Douglas High School that changed, but not by a lot. I then went to ASU and became a teacher. I did my student teaching in a low income district and my special education student teaching in the Roosevelt District with the majority of students and teachers being African American. What an incredible experience that was! I got hired in Gilbert at Gilbert Junior High when it was a very small district and growth had not come yet. 

I spent 39 years there watching the growth and the diversity. Gilbert El was probably the most diverse school at that time, but we had several very nice subdivisions being built. I loved that we were able to bring everyone together and be a part of our school through those years. We had LDS kids, Catholic students,Christian and Protestant Religions, Muslim, and Jewish and I am sure many others. But what I was most proud of, is that we all were Gilbert El!! At one point, we had almost 1300 students so I saw the whole growth and decline that happens in a community like Gilbert. 

My point on this post is that through my last 45 years of being in education, I have worked with people from many cultures, communities, religions and belief systems because that is what our country has always been about. I have lived through growth and then decline but no matter what, the message was still the same--we care about our kids and families no matter who they are. 

I know this is long, but in honor of all of the many and diverse religions and children I have worked with, I am wishing everyone a very peaceful holiday season no matter what your beliefs are. Just remember that kindness and acceptance are what it is all about and our children are who will continue to make this country the greatest country in the world. We, as adults, need to provide the best to keep that happening. It is critical!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Eve at Yaya's

 From our Scott Family Facebook page:
Teresa was so cute tonight and so excited to be with us. My dear friend, Louise, who is Jewish, offered to bring her over to Yaya's because we didn't know how long she would be able to stay. It went great. She ate well, drank a beer, got her picture taken a lot, held babies and got lots of hugs and loves. She got tired around 7:15 so Louise took her back. It was perfect. Kathy, her caregiver had her looking so nice and all dressed up. We are going to try to bring her here to my house tomorrow for dinner and see how that goes. Although it was so different than past years, it was still so special. 
I am so thankful to my cousins here in Arizona as well as all of the rest of you far away who still check in about her. We have a very special family. I know we know it, but I want to say thank you for your love for Teresa, especially these past several months. During the time I was with her in Douglas and she could still communicate ok, I know how important that was to her. And I know how honored she was through the years at family weddings and events to be considered the matriarch and get such special treatment from all of you. I know that I am thankful for the unconditional love she always gave each and everyone of us--always finding the best and positive about situations. But I am equally as thankful for all of the family who have visited, called and supported her on this difficult journey. We would not have been able to have the incredible 90th birthday/reunion without all of the original cousins support in pulling it off. 
So on this Christmas Eve and weekend, thank you to our wonderful cousins and the family friends for so many years who have supported Teresa and us in this difficult journey that is part of life. Despite how our family has grown and become so diverse, I believe that we all still know the importance of family connections and our family history. Because of our over 100 year history in Arizona and in Douglas, several members of this group are old, close family friends. I also am thankful for their many years of friendship. Many families don't have the incredible connections that we have. My wish for the future is we continue to do the best we can to continue this wonderful relationship and remember where we all came from.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Going "Home"

On Monday, I went to Douglas to attend a rosary and funeral.  One of the wonderful board members I worked with in Douglas, lost her 21 year old son.  She means the world to me and I wanted her to know  that by going to the services.     She was so supportive of me during some difficult times and she has become a good friend.   I love her and sometimes the only thing you can do for some one is to be there for them.   And Patty was there for me during some very difficult times with a few very unreasonable people.     Fortunately it was only a few and they had their own set of  issues that are very sad.    I will always remember what Michele Obama said in many of her speeches..."when they go low, we go high!"     I so agree with this because no one wins when you "wallow in the mud" with people who are just plain mean.     And the other sad part of this, is that often people with agendas who have things in their past which are nothing to be proud of.  Over the last 18 months, I have met with so many people from Douglas who have ugly stories about some of these people and what they did to them.     But as my cousin, Cecilia, says, "what goes around comes around."  So I can only say that a few very pathetic people who need attention for the wrong reasons try to interfere in what is right for kids.   But they have to live with their choices and they will have to answer to a higher power someday for the many abuses  to children and the community that they have done through the years. 

With that being said, my trip to Douglas was so therapeutic   for me.    I had worried about going down to the house knowing that Teresa will probably never be able to go back again.    The sad and good part is that she doesn't realize it.  I was just worried about how I would deal with it.   Teresa gave everything to the community with her generosity and kindness.   After she retired from the City of Douglas after 44 years, she started her own business.   She had a couple of paying clients, but nothing compared to the work she did.    Until she turned 80, she did the books and PAYROLL every two weeks for the Douglas Area Retarded Citizens, Loretto School, St. Vincent de Paul and for the Catholic parishes.  She has a few other clients who paid her a bit, but most of what she did was because she wanted to do it.  It tied her down as the payroll for most had to be done very two weeks.   Just after my mom died, we "made" her quit.   It was hard.

When I went to Douglas in 2010, it was to give her a few more years down there.  Plus it gave me an opportunity to give back to my community.    The last two times I have been there, I have met with teachers, administrators, board members, and parents who have been extremely supportive of me and who feel that a few people did everything they could to try to make me unsuccessful.   But I know that wasn't true, because there was never a time when I didn't do what I thought was best for our kiddos.   And the kids in Douglas deserve the same education as the kids in Gilbert.  It is not a level playing field and people who want to criticize need to focus on the state level, not the local level.   But it is much easier to try to be a "big fish in a little pond," then it is to really try to advocate for what is right for the kids!!

Teresa did not deserve to have what happened to me as being the driving force in why she had to leave Douglas.   And I know that my conscience if ABSOLUTELY clear!   The few mean spirited people have to live with their actions and their total disregard for the children.   And in some cases, disregard is a kind word for the way children were treated.    

I was so fortunate to have incredible board members  through the years who understood and wanted what was best.   Thank you Susan Kramer, Patty Lopez, Mario Ramos, Dr. Ed Gomez, Chuck Hoyack, and Mike Ortega.    I always appreciated our dialogs when we didn't agree and the respect that I always felt.  

So my time in Douglas was amazing and I will be back soon.   I loved connecting to so many great people and I loved my visit to the District Office with the wonderful employees who I know supported me and who I will always value.  

Even though going down was under difficult circumstances , it was very healing for me.  I loved being there and love so many wonderful people in Douglas who deserve the very best there is.

And my puggies love 858!!


Friday, November 25, 2016

One of the Hardest Days of My Life

"No matter who you are, what you've accomplished, what your financial situation is - when you're dealing with a parent with Alzheimer's, you yourself feel helpless. The parent can't work, can't live alone, and is totally dependent, like a toddler. As the disease unfolds, you don't know what to expect."
Maria Shriver

Today we had to put our beloved Aunt Teresa into a wonderful group home because her physical needs have become to difficult for us to deal with. This disease has robbed her of cognitive functions and now physical ones. It has been one of the hardest days of my life. I know it was the best decision, but leaving her there and coming home to her not being here was so hard. As one of our wonderful "in-law" cousins said, "Teresa knows you are doing your best. Right now your best is entrusting her care to professionals. That is an act of love." Thank you, Beth Hunt-Rush.

My one consolation is that she has lived an incredible 94 years and has been loved and has loved so many people. She continues to be one of the kindest and nicest humans ever. Her caring and generosity to our family and to her friends can never be matched. Please keep all of us in your thoughts and prayers.

A Very Difficult Decision Navigating the Journey of Age and Alzheimer's

I am so thankful for the wonderful Scott Family that we have been so fortunate to grow up in and continue to have such incredible relationships. Not many families can have what we have had for so many years. E.A. and Katherine Scott raised seven children in Douglas. They bought the house at 858 14th St. in 1918 and how many people can say that a family home has been there for almost 100 years?? 

When I went to Douglas in 2010, it was such a blessing for me to be able to live there with Teresa for five years. We had such a wonderful time and I will always treasure those five years we had together. 

When I moved back here in 2015 and Teresa had to come with me, it was difficult at many levels. Over the last 18 months, Judy and I have had her with us and shared her time. We have been been able to have her spend time with our Phoenix family and attend other family events, both positive and sad. 

Since July, she has been with me because I have been retired and could make it work. The last few weeks, we have seen a significant decline mentally as well as physically. It has happened fairly quickly. I know we have let family know that she has qualified for Hospice with the decline. We have tried to keep her here with me, but the physical decline is making it very difficult for me to be able to continue to meet her needs. So tomorrow, she is moving to a group home near us in Gilbert. From everything we can tell, it is a wonderful home. Hospice recommended several and Judy and I really like this one. It is a private home and run by some wonderful people from the Philippines. Most important for Teresa, is they are Catholic and have a Deacon who comes every Sunday. There are only five residents and she has her own room. And the second most important thing (to me) is that the pugs (one at a time) can come visit her. So today when all of our Phoenix cousins celebrated Thanksgiving, we had a quiet one here at my house with Judy's family and mine. She didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving or what that means. It has been a very emotional day for all of us today. 

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we make this transition tomorrow. I wish I could keep her here, but I know that this is the best decision for Teresa and for all of us. Please say an extra prayer for Cameron Rogers. This wonderful young man has been a rock for her and he loves her dearly. He is spending the night with a friend and said he can't be here tomorrow when this move takes place. That is a lot for an 18 year old to handle. It is hard for me and I am 67. 

The home is very close to Kerri's school and she can actually go there during her lunch hour. Many of her friends have grown to love Teresa so I know that she will have many visitors. Cameron can go there after school as it is close to his high school. It is close to Judy's school and close to our house. And I know that our wonderful Phoenix cousins will continue to support this journey. 

Sorry for this very long post. I am thankful on this 2016 Thanksgiving Day, that we have the wonderful family that we have and that I know all of Teresa's siblings' families can always know that they have been there for her and have meant the world to her. And for all of the young people in our family who may read this, never forget the wonderful family values that have been passed down to you from your great grandparents, grandparents and parents. After all, Family is what it is all about!!! 

And thank you, Janice Boyer, for saying several years ago that we need to get together for the good times!!! Let us all remember the good times and let us all remember that we come from great genes and "WE ARE FAMILY!"