January 17th, 2015



Lesser goldfinch

lesser finch.jpg 



Acorn woodpeckers are common in Cave Creek Canyon. 

Mule deer


It took me a while to see this guy hiding behind the pine tree.  

Cactus Wren

cactus wrten .jpg 

January 16th



Wildlife abounds up here in Cave Creek Canyon. 

January 13th


On my way back to Tucson. Sitting in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. Stopped at the Hilton today to see Aunt Olive and was shocked that she had been down in the activities room after her bath and after getting her hair done. According to the staff, she was full of it today, and they were right. When I got there, she was sitting in her chair fully dressed, nibbling at her noon meal. 

When I said I was going back to Tucson for a while, she got upset. "You mean you're going to miss my funeral?" 

No, I said, if there's a funeral, I'll come back for it.

That was all she needed to know. 

Olive still seems to think she's going to die in a matter of days, but all indications are that she is back to where she was a month ago. 

January 12th

Aunt Olive update

Well, today Aunt Olive ate breakfast and by noon was hankering for mashed potatoes. She's still convinced she's going to die, and now has determined to thank everybody before she does.

The first on the list was the Hilton administrator, Barry. "Tell him I think of him often and am appreciative of all he has done," Olive said, "particularly those monthly bus rides."

This wasn't the same lady who was fighting for breath and not eating or drinking four days ago.

Then she looked me in the eye and said, "Make sure you thank Eric!"

I don't think I ever got it across that I was Eric.

She seemed to intuit that I was leaving, even though I haven't said a word. "Are you getting on that train?" she said. 

I finally said I might go to Tucson in Arizona.

"Well be sure to thank all the people in Arizona!" she said. 

She asked about numerous people from the past. I decided to let her know they were all gone.

Mama is gone? 

Yes, she died in 1969.


Yes, she's gone, too. You're the only one left.

How about Gust Erickson?

Deader than a doornail, I said.

"Probably for the best," Olla replied. 

"Where is Mrs. Bentley?"

In the cemetery, I said, knowing I was probably right.


"So when am I going to die?"

They haven't scheduled you in yet, I said. The funeral home is booked solid. It'll be next week at the earliest. 

"I haven't died yet?"

Nope, you're still here.


"I sure could use some mashed potatoes."

Staff has reported other things Olive has said, most notably: 

"Why is it I am not allowed to manage my own death?"



January 12th

Aunt Olive

Aunt Olive got the influenza a couple of weeks ago. The flu started a spiral which culminated last Wednesday with it appearing that her heart and perhaps other organs were giving out. I flew home from AZ. She was calling for her Mama and struggling for breath. Mom, Dad, Lance and Joe spent a lot of time by her bedside. 

(I want to make one thing clear, however: the efforts of family and friends pale in comparison to the love, concern and kindness exhibited by the staff of the Fertile Hilton, aka Fair Meadow Nursing Home. When Olive was low, staff members of all levels and functions circulated through her room, whispering their love in her ear, making sure she was not feeling alone. These are extraordinary people, and the entire community is in their debt.)

For at least three days, Olla kept nothing down. She was, at times, in excruciating pain in areas typically associated with heart failure. Morphine helped. However, Olive being Olive, the wiser heads knew she could pull through. 

She's not out of the woods, but yesterday she was sitting up wanting her coffee warmer and saying oh, how she is so hungry. She wants to get a grip on her hallucinations and delusions. She asked me if I thought she could do it. Of course I said yes. The number one delusion is that Mama is out getting in fights with Mrs. Olson, awful fights. This delusion can be laid to rest by reminding Olive that Mama died in 1969. Then, sister Millie is out getting into fights. Millie has been gone almost twenty years. 

"What a relief!" Olla says, when she finds out that all these people she has been worrying about are safely in the grave. 

So, in this case, I think the compassionate thing to do is bring things back to reality. Olive does not have Alzheimer's, in which the compassionate thing to do would be to jump in the world of delusion and work with it. 

However, when Lance went in, he rubbed her back for a long time--and Olive thought it was Emil, the long-time maintainance man (and chaplain of enthusiasm, charm and positivity). Both Lance and Emil are of Phillipino descent, so that is understandable. Knowing how much Olive loves Emil, Lance let it go. 



Tough medicine

Here is an interesting case: A seventeen-year-old who is refusing chemotherapy--yet the government is forcing it upon her. With guards. Although I would probably urge the girl to go through treatment so the world could enjoy her smile a bit longer, perhaps a few decades longer, her right to choose should be honored. Absolutely. It should be up to friends and relatives only to influence her.