Sunday, October 30, 2016

Words of Wisdom from Maria Shriver and Ann Romney

Every Sunday morning I get a weekly email from Maria Shriver. I always look forward to getting these and then going to her website to read more. I have always admired her for many reasons. She is very much into supporting Alzheimer's research which is something near and dear to my heart. 

This past week has been a very difficult one with my dear Aunt Teresa.   She continues to decline mentally at what seems to be more of a rapid decline.   She keeps wanting to go home and I know that she means Douglas.   A few mornings lately she has not known where she is.    The little things that she could still do are becoming less and less.   I put her clothes out for her each morning and she is having a more difficult time getting herself dressed.   I have to help her with just the simple things like putting on her shirt, etc.    She is unable to take a shower on her own anymore.     She no  longer prays, which was something she did each and every day.   To me, this was the biggest sign of her decline.    Most of the time, you can't carry on a conversation with her about much of anything.   Sometimes she can perk up for a bit when someone comes over, but that is also getting less and less.    

Yesterday afternoon we went to get manis and pedis.   We finished up around 3:30 and went to get an early dinner.    Around 6:30 she informed me that I had not fed her today!    She didn't remember that we went out earlier.   For a long time, I tried to take her out as much as possible to interact with people, but that, too, is becoming harder and harder.  I HATE THIS DISEASE!   I know that it has touched Maria Shriver's family and that is why she does so much with it.

Each week, Maria features different people that she calls "Architects of Change." I read her interview with Ann Romney in today's edition. I did not realize that Mrs. Romney has MS and has created a foundation for neurological research. Having many very good friends who have MS, this is also something very important to me. Mrs. Romney says some things that I absolutely love. She described how her MS diagnosis made her stronger, more empathetic and gave her a new perspective on her mission in life.

“We all have a bag of rocks that we carry in life, and most of the time nobody can see the bag of rocks that’s thrown over our shoulders… We need to be more compassionate and caring– and recognize that everybody has a bag of rocks– and that we need to be more caring and kind.”

Reading this interview shows that people of different religions and political backgrounds CAN come together for the greater good.

I highly recommend getting this weekly email. If you go to, you can sign up for it. As I said, I look forward to reading it every Sunday morning.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

An Emotional Day

My favorite children's author, Carmen Agra Deedy, writes in her most beautiful book, The Last Dance, that everyone has the right to three things in life:

"To Dance: The great thing in life is not so much to dance well, but whether one is willing to dance at all."

"To Sing:  Even if you sing off key, the crow has a much right to a voice as the nightingale."

"To Tell Stories:  Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told."

I love Facebook because we can share stories of loved ones who are gone so that we can remember important people in our lives.

Thirteen years ago today, the world lost a wonderful educator and an incredible human being and I lost one of my dearest friends, Ellen Widmer.

Ellen and I taught together for many years.  After I moved to Gilbert El as principal, she transferred over.    Ellen was one of the best teachers ever and she has touched the lives of countless children, their families, and those of us who called her friend.  

Ellen's stories still live on in these children who are now adults and on those of us who knew the wonderful person she was.  

Both of my children had Ellen for a teacher and they loved her so I know first hand the impact she made on the children she taught. 

She left this life too early, but we were blessed to know her, to work with her and to have had her as a teacher.   I miss our friendship very much.    I know she is somewhere cheering me on in this upcoming election.

Love and miss you, Ellen Widmer!

This is what I posted on my Facebook page this morning.    You would think after 13 years, it would be easy to write this without getting teary, but it wasn't. I have been reading the comments that people have made and it warms my heart.

The last few days have been difficult.   Our dear aunt is declining so much.  It seems to have escalated a lot lately.   It is so hard to watch and not be able to do anything for her other than make sure her needs are met and that she is loved.

I never realized the emotional and physical toll something like this takes on someone.   It is the hardest job I have ever had.      However, I know that I will never have any regrets for anything in this journey!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Celebrating My Mom's 99th Birthday

I have posted in the past about how we always get together as a family around this time of year to tell stories about my mom.   She died on October 6 just two days before her birthday on October 8.   Because of Teresa's mental decline, we decided to try to do something else this year.   Over the last few months, I have learned a lot about dealing with someone with Alzheimer's--most of it the hard way.     What I have learned is that we have to live in her world, because she doesn't really cognitively live in ours anymore.   

We were invited to a tailgate party before the ASU/UCLA game last night.  It was to celebrate Jeff's 50th birthday.   Jeff is the husband of Kerri's dear friend, Shea.   So we talked to Teresa about going.   I knew that I could get someone to sit with her if she didn't, but she said she really wanted to go.   Although I know it didn't do much good, I told her that we would be there for awhile and that she would have to stay.   Often times lately she will want to leave fairly quickly after we get somewhere.    

We decided that we would take the light rail to ASU for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it is so convenient and you don't have to deal with traffic and secondly, Teresa had never been on it that I can remember.   Her dad was a conductor on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Douglas and El Paso.   She traveled on trains most of her life because of this.   So we thought it would be fun.   

My mom was a die hard Sun Devil fan.   She watched every game that she could and was loved the Devils.   Because Teresa is always cold, I got her an ASU jacket at Sam's to wear.    So we "ubered" over to the light rail and took it to the party.   We have a very lightweight wheel chair which worked out perfectly.   

We had a great time at the tailgate party.    Teresa really enjoyed herself, I think.   She had a couple of glasses of nice cold beer and met a lot of people.  I have been able to find caregivers to help me with her during the week so that I can get a break for a few hours a day.  One of them is Hunter who is a senior at Mesquite High.  His dad is the baseball coach there and I had hired Jeff for his first teaching job.   Hunter was at the party and he is such a caring and nice young man.   I am not sure Teresa realized who he was, but he immediately came over to say hi to her.   He is so sweet with her!!!

We didn't go to the game and headed back on the light rail when everyone headed for the game.   Teresa was really tired and slept until late this morning.    She didn't realize the significance of the dates, but we did and it meant a lot to me to celebrate my mom's birthday in this way!  It was a special day!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Exactly One Month from Today

It doesn't seem possible that the election is exactly one week from today.  What a journey this has been for me.  I have learned a lot.   Here is something that I posted on my Facebook page yesterday:

"In this my first "adventure" into real politics where people actually will vote for me for an elected office, it has been an eye opening experience in many ways. I have been touched by the many people I have known over my 39 + years as an educator in Gilbert reaching out to me. It has meant the world to me. I believe that we should be saying the good things we do and what we believe in and not be denigrating others. That doesn't mean that you can't question or ask others running for office to explain what they mean or where they stand. That is what democracy is all about. I hate seeing all of the ads on television for the many political offices that are so negative and try to make the other look bad instead of stating what they believe in. It is disheartening. Tonight, I was having a "chat" with one of my cousins in California and for some reason a quote that Wally Delecki always used came back to me so I looked it up. I love quotes and this one is great. It is from Helen Keller and I love many of her quotes, but this one sums up everything...."Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." I am appreciative that I have had and continue to have a "daring adventure!"

And this has been a "daring adventure."   I have met so many incredible people over the last few months.  I have been touched by the out reach of support that I have received from so many people.    

I needed 400 signatures on the petitions and I literally did nothing and got almost 800 altogether.   I had so many people ask for petitions.   It was overwhelming.    I have had several Meet and Greets by myself and with the other candidates.  There are four of us running for three open seats and I can honestly say that I have the utmost respect for the other three.   I believe all of us have the best interest of children and the District and will do the best that can be done for our community.   Gilbert is such a unique community in terms of families and support for the schools.    

I have been honored to get the endorsement of key organizations.   The Gilbert Education Association, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Unite for Education PAC have all endorsed my candidacy.    One third of the Gilbert District is in Mesa.   I am blessed to have the endorsement of Mayor Giles of Mesa and Councilman Thompson of Mesa.  

As my daring adventure continues for the next month, I hope that things continue to be positive.   I know that politics sometimes can get a bit ugly, but I will continue to be positive and stand for what I believe in.    Our children are of the utmost importance.   In order for the children to be served well, a District must have dedicated and compensated teachers, administrators and staff.   Parents need to be heard and included in discussions.  Communication is key.  There will always be controversial issues no matter what, but trust must be built.   I am fortunate to have my 39 + years in the District where I built a lot of trust and that is helping me now.

One never knows how an election will turn out.  If I win, I will do my best for all of the stakeholders.  If I do not win, I will have benefited from the new people I have met and the outreach of so many people I have known through the years!   I continue to believe strongly that I am very blessed at so many levels!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Incredible Role Model and a Wonderful Mom!!

From my favorite children's book ever, The Last Dance by Carmen Agra Deedy, "Those we love are never really gone as long as their stories are told!" This is the most beautiful story of the cycle of life and importance of family. Fourteen years ago yesterday my mom, Margaret Shannon, left this world just two days before her 85th birthday.   Tomorrow would be her 99th birthday.  

My mom was the first female executive at Phelps Dodge.   After she retired from PD, she ran for City Council in Douglas and served three terms--12 years until she was almost 80.   She was the vice mayor many of these years.  She served with her dear friend, Liz Ames who was the mayor.   She taught me the importance of community service that will always stay with me.

Every year around this time we try to get together as a family to remember her and tell stories. It has become a wonderful tradition. This tradition has become so important, but particularly for Cameron.   She loved that little boy  with her entire heart.   And she loved my kids, Kerri and Patrick with her entire heart.  She was just stricter with them.   She would be very proud of the adults that they have become.  I wish she could see what they have done with their lives.

I don't think we will be doing the dinner this year because of where Teresa is cognitively.  She wouldn't understand and I have learned that we need to live in her world and not have her live in ours.  I have not said anything to her about the dates right now.    

And I know my mom would be so happy of the care that we all have taken of her beloved sister, Teresa.  I am so glad that my mom left this world in the way she did.   It is so hard to see Teresa's mental decline.  But my mom would want us to do what we are doing.

I also thank Judy for making the last month of her life when she was on hospice so special.  Her death was like her life, filled with family and with love.   

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her. I know she would be thrilled that I am running for the GPS Board as she loved politics at every level. She was a great lady and I miss her!  I wish I could call her and ask her advice on different issues that have come up during this campaign.  I think I know the advice she would give me and hope that I am right about it.

I know that she would be appalled by the current presidential campaign and I also know that she would be very excited to have a woman running for President of the USA.   She was truly a pioneer in women's rights and I am proud to have called her "MOM!"