Tuesday, July 11, 2017

94 Years Remembered in 94 Days Post-4 (Leaving Douglas/Spending Last 7 Years with Teresa)

Off and on since about 2012, I have not been able to write like I was able to before. There are many reasons for it, one of which I was being stalked by a very unkind person. I no longer have to worry about that so I feel a bit liberated.

Since my very dear Aunt Teresa passed a week ago Sunday, I have tried to figure out why it has been so hard. When my mom died, she was on Hospice for exactly one month. During that time, I prepared myself for her death and was able to bring closure and tell her how much she meant to me.  Not that it was easy as it wasn't at all.

In sorting out my thoughts over the past several days, I think I finally figured out the difference. When my mom died in 2002, she had lived up here for about six months after her stroke. I was a principal at the time with a demanding career. Prior to her stroke, I saw her often and talked to her on the phone a lot.    

My life for the last seven years has revolved around Teresa in a much different way from my mom. When I moved down to Douglas in 2010 to live with her and be the superintendent of DUSD, I had a very demanding job.   However, I went home to her (our) house every night.  I would fix dinner and we would talk and laugh. She was a great roommate!!!  I will share memories of the different things that happened over the next many posts.

When I moved back to Gilbert in 2015, Teresa had to come with me to live.   That was so hard on her. I remember her crying for almost a month before we left.  It broke my heart.  I had really wanted one more year in Douglas, but circumstances didn't work out.  Looking back, it would not have been good because of her deterioration with Alzheimer's. But at the time, it was awful.

That first year she was mostly with Judy, but she was also here a lot. She loved it when I had a party or when we had a happy hour.   She loved going out with our friends for a happy hour and talking to all of the "kids" in her words.   Last June when her condition became such that she couldn't be left alone anymore, she came to live with us. Since I was retired, it was easier for me.  I was fortunate to have three wonderful young people come and sit with her a few hours a day so I could get out.    

She was with us from June through November when it became too much and we put her in a group home.   Fortunately, it was close to me so I was able to go almost every day to see her.
Last February, Judy decided to retire and take care of her mom in her last few months.   Although I know that what Judy did was exhausting, I know that she will always be at peace for taking such loving care of her.

So basically my life has been with her for the last seven years.    We lived together for five in Douglas and then probably about a year or so after.    We lost her mentally several months ago, and I remember feeling so bad that I couldn't tell her something important. With Alzheimer's you lose someone twice and that is so true.

Now I can never again call 520 364-2876 which used to be Empire 4 2876.   I remember the old phone on our staircase in Douglas that didn't have a dial.  The operator answered and you gave the number.  I don't have an "elder" to ask for advice or to say a prayer for me.   

We have become the elders now.  I just hope that I can be half of the wonderful people in our family who were incredible role models. Teresa's brothers and sisters were loved by her and it was so hard for her to be the only one left. We had so many conversations about this over the five years in Douglas.

I have always believed that things happen for a reason and we may not know for a long time what that reason was.  But I can honestly say that I know that my time in Douglas was a blessing for me.   It gave Teresa five more years in the home she was born in and it gave me the experience to be able to be a board member in the best district ever--Gilbert Public Schools.

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