Monday, December 28, 2009

First Christmas Apart

Well, after 38 Christmases together, this was the first Christmas for me (Alice) apart from my parents. What a blessing that we were able to be together all those years!!

Modern technology is great. Our family in Florida has acquired a Webcam, and Mom was able to see us AND talk to us on Christmas Day. Lois has a Webcam in Ecuador too! We have decided that Skype is wonderful.

Mom and Dad's health is doing Ok. The pain in Dad's legs makes it difficult for him to get around much, but he and Mom were able to get to Aunt Betty's for Christmas dinner! She was also a big help for them in Christmas shopping. Thanks, Aunt Betty.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Things to be Thankful For

We are thankful that Mom Ames' recent PET scan showed no signs of cancer! Also, she has been discharged from speech therapy. She does still have some ongoing health concerns and is having tests to try to determine the cause.

Dad Ames' ability to walk has deteriorated significantly. It is very difficult for him to even get around the apartment. Because walking is painful, he does as little as possible, which of course makes it worse--a "vicious cycle." His irritability takes an emotional toll on Mom at times also.

We are so thankful for family and friends who are close to Mom & Dad and able to help them. It is hard for Lois & I to both be so far away.

We really appreciate your continued prayer for God's grace and strength for Mom & Dad, and pray you have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hanging in there

We are happy to report that Mom is noticing real improvement in her ability to communicate! She told me that she now feels confident enough to make business phone calls, something that has been difficult for her. It is hard when you just can't come up with the word(s) you need.

Also encouraging was the report from Mom's brain catheterization on Sept. 28, when her neurosurgeon looked at the area where she had her aneurysm a year ago, and reported that everything looks great!

Dad's health is stable at the moment too. His legs are staying clear of cellulitis, and his medication for Parkinson's is helping him be steadier in walking, using his hands etc.

It doesn't look like the house in Gorham is going to sell before winter. So we are planning to winterize it. We are so grateful for the good neighbors who have kept up the yard this summer!

Lois and Chris arrived safely back in Ecuador. However, the boxes they shipped are being held in Quito, pending their acquiring an "importer's license" - a new requirement they did not know about. Thanks for praying for them as they get settled, and that they can get their boxes soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ameses here and there

Greetings! Sorry it's been awhile since we've updated. Several have mentioned they still check this regularly--thanks for your interest, your patience and your prayers!!

The cellulitis in Dad's legs seems to be under control at the moment. He is still experiencing a lot of weakness and shakiness, which limits his activity. It is hard to put model trains on the track when your hand is shaking.

Tests show no sign of stroke. His neurologist has diagnosed him with Parkinson's, and he has begun taking medication to help control those symptoms.

Mom is seeing improvement in her ability to comprehend what she reads. She is so pleased, especially to read her Bible again.

Their house in Gorham is still for sale. We are thankful for wonderful neighbors; Susan who is keeping the lawn mowed, and Lucille who is keeping an eye on the place. Mom & Dad's homeowner insurance dropped them because the property is no longer owner-occupied, which caused them a lot of anxiety, especially because the realtor contract requires insurance coverage. Thankfully, their agent found a policy that covers vacant property. The premiums are rather expensive though.

I helped Mom submit a claim for her lengthy hospitalization last fall to an insurance policy that pays cash benefits to the patient, and this week she was thrilled to receive a check in the mail! That was a big blessing.

Lois and Chris and family spent August in Maine, much to Mom & Dad's delight. They put up more shelves in Mom & Dad's apt. and helped them organize more stuff; and Mom got to play with her grandchildren. Dad enjoyed them too!

Now Lois and Chris are in Florida, visiting us for a week! They have tickets to return to Ecuador at the end of September.

Please pray for Aunt Jane and Aunt Betty, who have been a great help to Mom and Dad with transportation and laundry. They are experiencing health challenges of their own and cannot be as available for the next few weeks. We are grateful for my cousin Stephen who is also helping a lot with errands.

God is good and faithful! We rest in His care and provision for all of us. Thank you so much for praying for our family.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thank you for praying for our family during the last few months of traveling, separation, and preparing the house in Gorham for sale! It has been challenging, and we couldn't have done it without your prayers and help. God gave wisdom and strength when needed. The house is 99% cleaned out, and family & friends have graciously agreed to get the rest.

The children and I spent several hours with Mom & Dad on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. We talked about the important things--realtor info, and how Heaven is our real home.

We flew home to FL on Wednesday evening. Evan & Regan sat in the last row of the plane, and Danielle and I sat in front of them. My seatmate, Bill, was a terminally ill alcoholic, thirsty to hear about God. Danielle and I read Scripture aloud to him for at least a half-hour, so the people in front of us heard it too!! :-) When we stopped he asked for more. He drank continuously throughout the flight, and by the end was quite fuzzy--he was sure that I was an angel. But he asked me to contact him with info on a good church in Daytona, where he would be visiting his daughter. Please pray for Bill.

My dad is battling cellulitis in his leg, requiring daily trips to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Mom feels she has to go with him, so she has missed many of her own appointments this week. It also means someone has to drive them. Dad is irritable about the whole thing, which is hard for Mom to deal with. So they need prayer too.

Chris and Lois are planning to be back in New England in August, and visit us in Florida in September!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cleaning out

The last few weeks, the cleaning-out process of Mom & Dad's house in Gorham has progressed steadily. My husband Jack and our children arrived on June 9 and Jack has been a great help. He is much better than I at staying focused on the task at hand and not getting distracted by reading all the fascinating things we find. :-)

Frankly, the situation is a strain on all of us. We would really appreciate your prayers. We are trying to spot items that Mom & Dad might want, particularly photos, and give those to them. However the sheer volume is staggering . . . boxes and boxes and boxes of photos. We have tried to sift through and take the "good" ones. This has not been satisfactory, as Mom wanted all those double prints and multiple similar photos to give to other people. (sigh) The problem is that their apt. simply does not have the space.

Mom has asked about other items as well, and it is hard to say, "Sorry Mom, that's gone." It is hard on her, because she feels that her home and possessions have been snatched away without her consent.

Tomorrow Jack and I and the children are going to Maine for Father's Day weekend. We will stay at Aunt Jane & Uncle Danny's farm Saturday night. Plans include a baby shower for my cousin's wife, eating out with Mom & Dad, and of course going to church with Mom on Sunday. Dad still hasn't gotten out to church.

Thanks so much for caring about our family! God is good. We need Him.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy 40th Anniversary, Mom & Dad

We have been increasingly concerned about Dad, as he has seemed more frail in the last couple of weeks. Yesterday he didn’t even feel up to getting washed and dressed.

But today was better!! Mom and Dad had a lovely 40th wedding anniversary today, thanks to our dear friends George and Kathy Melvin. George and Kathy drove to West Paris ME this morning, as I was driving there from NH, and we all went to church with Mom.

After church we returned to Mom & Dad’s apartment and picked up Dad, and then George and Kathy took us to Portland! They had made reservations at DeMillo’s floating restaurant, and we had a table with a beautiful view of the harbor. As Dad watched the ships coming and going, he became more interested and alert than he has been in quite awhile. And Mom enjoyed it immensely as well. She has always loved the ocean.

After leaving the restaurant, we poked around Portland. We watched a crane unloading a barge, saw fishermen tending their nets, and stopped at the Portland Head lighthouse before heading back to West Paris.

It was a great day. We have much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Settling In

Mom and Dad are continuing to adjust to their new home. It has been a busy month with a number of doctor appointments in different places. We so appreciate those who have provided transportation for them.

Dad has been battling cellulitis in his legs, along with the pain caused by his spinal stenosis. He had a steroid shot in hopes of some relief, but unfortunately it did not help.

Mom saw a neurologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock who believes that reducing her anti-seizure med dosage will relieve her lightheadedness and short-term memory loss. He said he would recommend that change to her PCP.

Mom is back online, which is very exciting for her. Her new e-mail address is maryjaneames(insert "at" sign), and she is also on Facebook. Unfortunately she lost her e-mail address book, so she would love to hear from everyone so that she can have your address again.

I am flying North a week from tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing Mom and Dad (and Josey) in their nice new apartment. I'll be cleaning out the house in Gorham to prepare it to sell. Jack's parents are coming to Florida to help Jack with the kids while I'm gone. We all need and appreciate your prayers!

Monday, April 13, 2009

April 13 - In Their New Home

Thanks so much for praying for our family, as Mom and Dad transition from their home of 40 years in Gorham NH, to Ledgeview Living Center in West Paris ME.

Official "Moving Day" was Saturday, April 11--the day before Easter. We are so grateful to Mom's sisters, Rebecca, Betty, and Jane, for the incredible amount of work they have invested into getting Mom and Dad moved. They helped to convince, they helped to direct, they helped to prepare, they helped to pack, they helped to transport (including Josey the cat), and now they are helping to unpack.

Other friends and relatives helped on Saturday too--thank you to each one of you.

Mom was able to celebrate Easter at West Paris Baptist Church, where she and Dad met and were married! (Dad didn't feel up to going.) Now that will be their home church once again. Chris and Lois drove up from Virginia to spend Easter, and this week following, with them. Chris set up Mom's computer, and Lois will be able to take care of a few things that need doing at the house in Gorham also.

I have a ticket to NH on May 14 (thanks to Tim, a frequent flyer friend!!). I am looking forward to seeing Mom and Dad's new place!! I'll be staying in Gorham, cleaning out the house and preparing it for sale. Jack and the kids plan to come up mid-June. Jack will stay a couple weeks and then return to FL. The kids will stay with me if my job isn't finished. I'm hoping it will be.

Mom is anxious about finding new doctors. She and Dad have a number of appointments in Berlin and at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in the next month. Transportation is a bigger issue now, with the longer distances, so they really need to transition to providers who are closer to their new home. We are grateful to those who are helping to drive them--THANK YOU!!

Most of all, we are thankful to God Who has brought us this far and will not abandon us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009 - Mom's home

Mom was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon, after a stress test showed no problem with her heart. I asked her, "So, how are we going to keep you from overdoing after you get home?" She laughed a little bit.

We are thankful for everyone who has offered to help Mom & Dad with their packing. We think it will work best if the efforts are coordinated so that a maximum of two people are helping at a time. That way it will be more low-key and manageable for Mom to give direction.

The exception of course will be Moving Day, April 11, when many hands will make light work!! We would really appreciate anyone who would be available that day.

Jack and I are working on planning our travel up there. Nothing is final yet but looks like I will go May 14, and Jack and the kids in early June. Jack is planning to stay two weeks, and the children and I may stay several weeks longer if necessary until the house is cleaned out.

Lois and Chris and their family will be there the month of June as well.

Thanks so much for your concern and prayers. They are a blessing and a great help!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

My mom was taken to the hospital with chest pains again this afternoon. Her EKG looks normal and Dr. thinks it is stress-related. That is certainly understandable, since she is very anxious about their upcoming move to assisted living, and she is driving herself and working extremely hard.

I suggested she make lists of things she knew she would want, but I BEGGED her not to look in bags or boxes that she couldn't remember the contents. . . because that is all stuff she doesn't need, but once she had seen it she would want to keep it. And she won't have room for it in the new apartment.

Unfortunately, what I feared is exactly what is happening. And it has put her in the hospital.

Thankfully, she should be able to go home tomorrow, and we will keep trying to convince her to take it easy.

Thank you as always for your prayers. Jack and I are talking about when I'll be able to go to NH . . . It looks like early- to mid-May.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday, March 28

It is late and this will be brief. My parents are planning to move to Ledgeview Living Center in West Paris, Maine on April 11. God did a miracle in my dad's heart as they went there today for a tour--my dad WILLINGLY agreed to the move and seems quite happy about it.

Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will."

My mom is overwhelmed and anxious about packing...and all the stuff she won't be able to take. Please pray for our family, as the coming months will be difficult for all of us; but when everything is settled, I know Mom and Dad will be much more comfortable and better cared for.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The past month or so has been very difficult for Mom. Although thankfully she has not had any more chest pain, her head has continually felt "strange"--dizzy and lightheaded, but beyond that, in a way she struggles to describe. She says it feels like everything in her brain is bubbling up and out.

Naturally this makes it tough to do much of anything. So she has felt additional stress from the difficulty of trying to wait on Dad, who has been suffering pain in his legs and hips that significantly hinders his mobility.

In an attempt to discover the cause of Mom's symptoms, her oncologist ordered a PET scan and MRI, which are scheduled for tomorrow (March 25). She will also get a follow-up mammogram after a suspicious one. She has an appointment with a neurologist on March 31, and on April 13th will see the oncologist again to get the results of tomorrow's tests.

Regardless of the test results, it is becoming evident that the effort required to live independently and care for Dad is too much for Mom, and is contributing to her current problems. She realizes this.

Yesterday, their family doctor came to the house to see Dad, and broke the news to him that it is time to consider moving to assisted living. Mom and I had prayed fervently about this meeting. Dad's reaction has been tears and sadness . . . which is better than the angry refusal that we feared.

The most likely option is an assisted living apartment in West Paris, Maine, near Mom's sisters. The logical next step is for Mom and Dad to visit there and ask questions. The biggest one is whether they could bring their beloved cat.

Our family pleads for your continued prayers. This will be a tremendously traumatic upheaval. After 40 years in their home, it will involve changing location, doctors, and church; as well as disposing of a tremendous amount of possessions and selling an old house that has not been updated since the 1950's--something that lenders are reluctant to finance in the current market.

The logistical details of Lois and I's involvement need prayer as well, as neither of us lives nearby; but helping Mom and Dad move and cleaning out the house are tasks that we need and want to help with. It will require considerable time, probably two or three months.

Thank you for your love and prayers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mom and Dad have been continuing to "manage" at home, but Mom's energy level has been low, getting her anti-seizure meds to the correct level has been an issue, and she continues to experience frequent headaches. She has had occasional chest pains as well--and yesterday it became so severe that the home health nurse who was there called an ambulance.

She was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation. Thankfully, a number of tests showed no evidence of any problem with either her brain or her heart. So she was released this afternoon and a friend from church took her home.

We continue to be concerned about Mom and Dad trying to live on their own. We keep hoping, and Mom does too, that she will improve and be able to do more than she can now. If not, then a different living situation for them may be necessary sooner than summer 2010, the goal we had originally discussed with Mom. It will be traumatic for them no matter what. Dad hasn't agreed to move at all yet.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

John and Mary Jane are back to "normal" in that they are at home together, while Alice and family have gone back to Florida, and Lois and family have gone back to Virginia.

They are managing pretty well with senior meals, housekeeping help, and friends from church helping with transportation.

However, all of our family and friends, with the important exception of John, feel that they should sell their house and move into a safer, more manageable environment close to family. John is determined to "stick it out right here." However his advancing Alzheimer's, combined with Mom's still-frail health, make that unlikely.

Mom now recognizes this, and wants to prepare to move, possibly to an assisted-living apartment, in summer of 2010. This will involve disposing of 40 years of accumulated "stuff." Unfortunately, she does not have the energy yet to work very much on that.

So we appreciate everyone who is helping them in so many ways, and appreciate your prayers that God would keep them safe and give them the grace and strength to handle this difficult season of their lives.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

We are so thankful to God for a WONDERFUL 40th anniversary celebration for Mom and Dad on Saturday! It was held at the West Paris (ME) Baptist Church, where they were married 40 years ago on May 24. God gave perfect weather so everyone could drive safely to get there. The room was crowded, which, despite the lack of elbow room, was a wonderful tribute to how many lives Mom and Dad have touched.

Because purple lilacs were in bloom when Mom and Dad were married, we decorated the room with that theme. We had plenty of food, thanks to many who helped!! The cake, made by Katie Parsons, was beautiful and featured Mom and Dad's original wedding cake top. They also used their original cake knife to cut it.

Several folks from their wedding party were there, including the flower girl and ringbearer. The ringbearer, Jerry Oja, served as our photographer, and I will post some of his pictures when I get them. I took one:

Mom and Dad received many wonderful cards. They were so pleased.

Lois and I sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness" to thank God for the parents He gave us. We have come to realize that the loving, stable home we enjoyed growing up is the exception rather than the rule, and we are so grateful for it.

We shared a slide presentation of photos from Mom and Dad's past and present. The music that was supposed to accompany it didn't, but at least the pictures worked and everyone enjoyed it.

Lois and Chris, and Jack and I and our families, will be in the Gorham area the rest of this week. Next week we will go our separate ways. It will be hard to leave Mom and Dad. We have to trust that they are in God's hands. We are grateful for all the help and support that is available to them.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

We praise the Lord that Mom and Dad are somewhat settling in to their lives again. I say "somewhat" because there are definitely challenges.

We are grateful for the availability of home care services to help Mom with housekeeping. She is grateful too, but it is always tough when someone else is doing your work, who may not do it the way you are accustomed to. If you feel the need to closely supervise them, it can be almost as much work as doing it yourself.

Dad is finding it stressful also, to have unfamiliar people in the house so often. So, when he is irritable, we would really appreciate prayer for grace and strength for Mom to respond gently but firmly.

Mom has days where she feels quite good! She tries to get a lot accomplished . . . and then she is exhausted for several days. Please pray that she would have wisdom to pace herself, and to know what tasks are most important to tackle with her limited strength.

She is very excited about their 40th Wedding Anniversary party, coming up on Jan. 17, 1:00 pm, at West Paris Baptist Church, West Paris Maine. Please come join us if you can! We are praying for good weather.

Thanks so much for your caring and friendship for our family. We give thanks to God for you.