Health

Finding ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic has placed many Americans, and in fact, most Americans, as well as the people of other countries, in a world suddenly changed. Will it be forever changed? Well, that remains to be seen. What we do know is that life as we knew it…just days ago for some of us, is nothing like it was before. We find ourselves being told to “stay at home” unless we happen to be one of the essential workers…doctors, nurses, CNAs and other hospital workers, grocery store employees, restaurant workers (who can only handle pick-up or delivery orders, because the dining rooms are closed), first responders (police, fire, and ambulance), necessary city or town workers (including, of course, government officials), mail carriers, truck drivers and delivery people. The rest of us are supposed to stay home accept for getting food, groceries, medicine, gasoline, medical appointments, and outdoor exercise…all while practicing social distancing (staying 6 feet away from other people). That, of course, means no hugging, hand shaking, high fives, elbow bumps or even foot taps, which had prior become the new normal. Many people are wearing masks and of course, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer, and not touching their faces.

Many of these things are common sense, and some are things we have done for a while now, but other things are so new and very foreign to us. We are a mobile society, and staying home is very foreign to us. Schools and daycares are closed, making it difficult for the essential workers with children to get to work. Parents who never considered home-schooling, are forced to do so, as many schools will not open for the remainder of the school year. Non-essential workers find themselves working from home (if their jobs can feasibly allow that). The streets are almost deserted, and we find ourselves wondering if the few people we see out, have a legitimate reason to be out, or if they had simply gone rogue. Normally we care little for the goings on of other people on the street, and we are used to many people going many places. Most of us hardly notice the people around us going about their daily commutes or errands. We were too busy with our own lives to care about what others were doing. Now, however, we find ourselves looking at the people who are out and about, wondering if they really should be more responsible and stay at home.

As pandemics do, this one too shall pass, but what of our country. Will we start to be more caring for others? Will we work to get closer to our families, neighbors, and friends? Will we suddenly know that we can use a lot less of things that we may have been wasteful with before? Will we continue to pray over people and say things like “God Bless America,” or are these things just something we do because we have been caught up in the moment? Or will we, like so many times before, forget about all this a year from now? It is my hope that we will step up and make some permanent changes in our lives. The people of the earth have maybe been very selfish, thinking only of ourselves and those we care about, but maybe we shouldn’t be that way. Life as we knew it changed with COVID19’s entrance on the world stage. What we do next will determine how history views the generations of people alive today. Will we be viewed as reckless and unfeeling, or will we be viewed as the most amazing generation ever to deal with a global disaster? The outcome really depends on us.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually synonymous with celebrations, parades, green beer at the local pub, and of course the “Wearin’ O The Green,” but this year might be very different. Of course, we all know why that is. The current Coronavirus has found most people taking extraordinary measures to avoid being around large groups of people, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which can have serious symptoms in some patients and rather mild symptoms in others. I think people are trying to do what it takes to be safe.

One of the biggest cancellations is the many Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Most places don’t want more than 50 people…or 25 people…and even 10 people gathering in public places. Many of the bars and restaurants have been closed, so that eliminates Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Of course, schools and day cares, gyms, hotels and travel industries, casinos, movie theaters, churches, and many businesses, are also closed, so people can’t go to those places to celebrate or even to carry on everyday life. Even the traditional dying or the Chicago River to emerald green for Saint Patrick’s Day has been cancelled. There are places that are open, such as stores, hospitals, and doctors offices, but people are asked to avoid them as much as possible. The idea of a sick person being told to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital is a very strange one. In times past, doctors would not diagnose disease over the phone, but now that is the first line of defense. The medical professionals don’t want people who have the disease to come in and infect other people. In fact, people are told to “quarantine or shelter in place” in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Testing sites have even become drive-through…a previously unheard-of idea. All of these things have pushed Saint Patrick’s Day to the background of reality.

Nevertheless, I have seen a number of people who have put their own “Wearin’ O The Green” on line, or on television (for people who are in the news, etc), or just at home with their own families. I realize that this virus has dampened the spirits of many people, but deep down inside, there seems to live a victorious spirit within people. They seem to be refusing to allow this to bring about depression. On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I have seen the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about postponing the Ohio Caucus, while wearing a blue suit, green tie, and green hair dye in his hair. Sure, the best case scenario is to be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in all of it’s traditions, but the reality of the Coronavirus insists that we do things differently this year. I like that so many people have chosen to celebrate in a social-distancing social media kind of way. I’m glad that people still seem to have a sense of humor, amid the panic. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all!!

With each new story of disaster, pandemic, or even murderous scare tactics, the news media splashes the newspaper, internet, and television with sensationalistic stories of doom and gloom. Yes, these things are serious matters, but sometimes I wonder if the news media are the only ones who are doing well throughout the crisis. It’s not that the news media doesn’t have a job to do so that the people are well informed, but even the doctors are saying that they have far overdone the current news stories. The news media has led people to believe that this is going to get so bad that entire cities are going to be quarantined for extended periods of time. The news reports are so bad, that it has prompted people to run out and buy up every necessity to the point of shortages. Things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfecting wipes, and rubbing alcohol are in seriously short supply. People are buying far more than they could possibly us in more than a year. There have even been people who won’t drink Carona beer, because of the similarity to the name of the virus. The insanity is astounding!!

I’m not saying that people don’t need to know about the situation, but when you turn on the news and all you hear is the fear mongering of the news media. The drama seekers need to set aside the need to “make their entire career” with the latest crisis, and instead give the information needed, in a clear non-dramatic manner so people have the ability to make sensible decisions about their own health. The way the latest media-managed crisis is being handled is like yelling “fire” in a packed event center. Yes, you’ll clear the place out, but lives will be lost in the process.

For some time now, the news media has been throwing out so much fake news that people no longer believe the news media. That is a dangerous place to be, because, like the boy who cried “wolf,” after a while nobody is listening anymore. They already know that the news media is just sensationalizing the story, so it’s probably all a lie anyway. If there ever is a serious crisis, it will arrive before anyone can prepare, because the screaming of the news media into the wind, is no longer being heard. It’s time for the news media to get back to the “honorable,” “fair and balanced,” “we report, you decide” way of reporting again, so they can begin to rebuild the people’s trust, which they lost long ago. Since the news media can’t stop the sensationalism, it’s time for the people to use common sense, and show that we are wiser than the news media. There are so many ways to protect ourselves, without mass hysteria.

With each new anniversary, I find myself feeling more and more blessed. The years have flown by, but that is what they say about time, and having fun. For Bob and me, life has been just that…fun. No, we haven’t lived life without any challenges, but all in all, they were minor, and life really was fun. I don’t know how we managed to always be going in the same direction, with the same goals and ideas about life, but that’s what we did. The word soulmates comes to mind. We are very like-minded people. An idea may not necessarily have appeared to both of us at the same time, but when it did, it was usually something we both agreed upon right away. How does that happen? Soulmates…that’s how it happens.

When Bob and I met, there was instant chemistry. My heart skipped a beat just looking at him. Of course, I can tell you that he would probably say, “What does that mean?” That’s because he is a man. He felt the same things, but describing the feelings that way is totally another story. Still, there were so many ways in which he showed those feelings to me. One of the biggest was the way in which he showed how important our anniversary was to him. Most years, he took the day off work, because it should always be spent together. There were very few exceptions to his self-imposed rule. In 45 years, I can say that he probably took 42 off work…and the ones he couldn’t were a huge disappointment to him.

Bob and I just like to be together. We are best friends and working partners, even though we never worked at a job together. We still work well together. Home projects, caring for parents, and even mechanics, were done together. I knew I could count on him, and he knew he could count on me. There is no one I would rather work next to on any project, loved one, car…or anything else. I have found the best partner and soulmate for me, and I am looking forward to the next…say 54 years, since we plan to live to be 120!! I’d say that 99 years of marriage would be a good goal…whether anyone else believes it or not. We can shoot for what we want to. Happy 45th anniversary to my sweet husband, Bob!! I love you very much Honey!!

It is with great sadness that our family heard the news yesterday about our cousin, Larry Hein’s passing. Larry was the oldest child of my husband, Bob’s Uncle Eddie and Aunt Pearl Hein. Eddie passed away just three month and two weeks ago. Larry is dad to Dalton and Destiny, brother to Kim Arani, and brother-in-law to Mike Arani. It has been a rough few months for this family. My heart just aches for all of them.

Larry was born and raised in Forsyth, and never really thought about going anywhere else. I remember on the visits my husband, Bob and our family took to visit our Forsyth family, Larry loved spending time with his cousins. Grandma and Grandpa Hein has a ranch north of Forsyth, and the grandkids all loved to go out and play. There were three of the younger grandkids, Larry, Scott, and Kim Hein, and they spent as much time at their grandparents’ house as they could. It’s the normal way of kids, isn’t it. Whenever we went to visit, my kids couldn’t wait to play with their cousins. Even though Larry, Scott, and Kim were older than my girls, Corrie and Amy, they all played the kinds of games the younger kids wanted to play, and I always found that a sweet thing for those kids to do. I miss those days.

Larry was a mechanic in Forsyth, Montana, where he owned Hein Repair for a number of years now. He worked on just about anything that needed repair. He was a great dad, brother, and son. He was an asset to his community, and well liked by all who knew him. Yesterday, a heart attack took Larry from all those who loved him, and left an empty place in all our hearts. We are all now left to pick up the pieces of yet another heartbreaking loss in the family. My thoughts go out to this precious family. I am praying for comfort for all of them as they grieve this new loss and comfort each other on this sad time. Rest in peace Larry until we all meet again. We love and miss you very much.

Alec Todd Olsen came into our lives just under three months ago. Hardly enough time to really get to know him, but in the short little bit of time that he was with us, he snuggled his way deep into our hearts. His darling face, and his sweet smile captivated all of us. Alec was the first child of my grand-niece, Siara Olsen and her husband, Nick. He was long awaited and very loved. He was, as his mommy called him, a sweet little ray of sunshine, and everyone who met him would agree.

There was no doubt…Alec was a happy baby. He loved to smile at people, especially his parents, and to see people smile back at him. He was really starting to notice things going on around him, but his favorite thing to do was to snuggle with his parents…and usually fall fast asleep. Nevertheless, the ray of sunshine still radiated from little Alec.

Alec left us to go to Heaven on January 25th, when his little body could no longer fight RSV. It was a heartbreaking day for all of Alec’s family. When I visited his parents yesterday, was reminded of other parents who had lost children. The only way to put the look…is a parent’s heart and empty arms. It should never happen to any parent. Our kids are supposed to outlive us. There is no greater pain that anyone can go through, and my heart aches for these precious parents.

Of course, we know that Alec is in Heaven now, safe and healthy…and most of all happy. He would want his parents to know that they needn’t worry…if he could talk to them. And they know that too, but it is so hard to be the ones left behind to pick up the pieces. The pain will never leave. Anyone who has experienced loss knows that, and the reality is that you don’t get over this. Those of us, who love Siara and Nick, can only be there to support them, hold them while they cry, and just let them show us what they need, which they might not even know yet. You never get over this, you can only get on with it…life. Alec can’t come back, and we can’t go to him…yet, but he will be waiting when we can. Rest now sweet little Alec Todd Olsen, and know that we love and miss you very much, and we cant wait to see you again in Heaven. Siara and Nick, we will be here for you…whatever and whenever you need.

For the over 45 years that I have known my husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz, I have understood that she is the rock of her family. I say that I understood it, because over the years I have watched as different events have unfolded within her family, and it is Margee who always steps in to hold the family together. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. Her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have always been the joy of her life. Margee’s life has not been without loss…a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus her parents, and both of her sisters. Margee is the last one of her generation in her family who is still living.

Margee stepped in to help raise her son’s two children, and to give them a stable life. She also helped to raise her daughter’s three children. I learned when I had my own grandchildren that with working parents, it takes a village to raise a child. Our kids need “involved” grandparents, and I can’t think of a greater blessing for a grandparent than spending time with their amazing grandkids. Margee has been a great help to her kids and grandkids, and they are very close to Margee, even as adults.

These days, the grandkids are the ones to help Margee. As her health isn’t as good as it was, she sometimes needs help with things. Because of the close relationship the grandkids have had with Margee, they are happy to help her. They love her after all, and anyone who knows Margee, and what a loving and caring person she is, can see exactly why they love her. Margee is the person who would give you her last nickel, if you needed it.

For as long as I have known her, I have felt very blessed by her. From her cake decorating years, during which we could count on the best looking cakes for parties, to her willingness to help with any event that was being held, made her a valued member of our family…and one we never want to be without. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

You hear it a lot, especially on television shows. Doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, and paramedics are all told not to get personally involved. Those who instruct them not to get personally involved with their ill patients are, of course, trying to protect them from the inevitable grief of losing a patient, but being on the other side of that equation, I must say that when they do get personally involved, it is better for all.

For one thing, I think that most of the time, it is impossible for one human being, taking care of another human being, not to become personally involved. Because of their training, these professionals try not to get too close, but I don’t think many succeed, even when they only have a patient for a few days or even minutes. Sometimes it’s not so much the patient that tugs at there hearts, but rather the worried family members who are in need of comfort. For most family members there is nothing more helpful than an encouraging word, and yes, even a hug, when things seem to be falling apart.

In the years that I have taken care of my parents, my in-laws, my sister-in-law, and my husband, I have had more than my share of dealings with ambulance and fire department EMTs, as well as doctors, nurses, and CNAs. The ones I remember the most, were the ones who got personally involved. They knew when my worried spirit needed a hug…just so I could stay on my feet. There is nothing more important, than the moments when the ambulance crew has loaded up your loved one, and you are left in the house with the fire department EMTs in your living room picking up their gear. You suddenly realize that your loved on is in the hands of someone else. You can’t do anything more to help. You find yourself just standing there feeling very much alone, and suddenly very small. I guess I must have looked very fragile at those moments, because invariably, one of those wonderful firemen put their arms around me, and told me that everything was going to be ok. It doesn’t matter how big or small the firefighter was, him standing there in those bunkers made him feel very substantial. Those strong arms around me, allowing me to cry, made all the difference. I don’t know how that hug affected the firefighter, but I know that after one of those big hugs from that angel of a firefighter, I was able to wipe away my tears, pull myself up by the bootstraps, and head to the hospital, where I was needed to answer questions about my loved one’s health…questions that would make it easier for the doctors and nurses to give my loved ones better care, so they can save their lives. Sometimes, the first responders make the most difference…and that can make all the difference.

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, my niece, Gaby Beach, who married my nephew Allen Beach on September 24, 2014, started working while Allen when to college to get his degree. Once he was finished, the plan was for Allen to work while Gaby went to school to get her degree. It was a good plan, because it allowed each of them to study hard, without having to work. They could devote themselves to their studies. While Allen now works as the department manager over referral, communications, ambulances, Gaby is getting ready to begin her second year of nursing school. Having worked as a corpsman in the Navy, nursing is a perfect next step for Gaby, who was a very good corpsman.

These days, when she’s not studying, Gaby has become very interested in house plants. She has a green thumb, and loves plants. She has decided to complete the “Let’s Grow Together In 2020” initiative. I looked over the program, and it would be really a cool thing to do…if I didn’t have a decidedly brown thumb. Unlike me, Gaby has a real knack for plants, and for arranging them. I know that her plants will beautify their home, and make it a healthier place too. Plants a good to have in the home…as long as you can keep them alive, that is. Gaby can do just that, and her plants are thriving. Her day 8 plant…the fastest grower was the Epipremnum Pinnatum or “Cebu Blue,” names I wouldn’t have known, had Gaby not posted them. I may not know much about plants, but I have enjoyed seeing Gaby’s posts about her adventures with them, and I look forward to the future posts as well.

Gaby ability to raise plants isn’t surprising, because she has a real knack for all living things. I am reminded of her work with therapy dogs during her Navy years. I’m ok with dogs, but I can’t say I’m “comfortable” with dogs. Cats yes, dogs…not so much. Gaby, on the other hand, is a natural. Dogs just instinctively love Gaby, as much as she loves them. And I think everyone in our family can understand that, because we have all come to love Gaby too. She brightens our world every time we see her. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It seems impossible to me that my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg could be gone now for two years. She was such a fighter, when it came to her health. There were a number of times that we thought we had lost her, but she always bounced back…until she didn’t. The end of her days had come, and with it, there were no parents in our lives again. My parents, Al and Collene Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg were gone, and now my mother-in-law had joined them in Heaven. It felt empty here on earth. The loss hit hard with each of my four parents, but with my mother-in-law, there was also the finality of it. We had no more parents. We, their children, are the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families now, but it feels like we are orphans. The knowledge that you have no parents, really brings that orphaned feeling home.

My mother-in-law, was a homemaker for most of her life, and very skilled in things like cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, and canning. These were things she passed down to her daughters, and to me. Of course, my own mother taught me part of these things too, but we didn’t can often, other than making jelly, and the things my mother-in-law cooked were different from my own mom, so that added variety to my abilities. My mother-in-law, was probably best known for her sewing, knitting, and crocheting. She sold many of her crafts at craft fairs over the years, adding to the family budget and to her craft budget as well. She also loved to bake, and her “Murder Cake” was a family favorite.

My in-laws lived in the country for most of the time I knew them, but they moved to town in the last years of their lives. While she preferred the quiet of the country, my mother-in-law did enjoy watching all the activity that took place near their home at the corner of two busy streets in In her later years, my mother-in-law developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Casper. After she had to be moved to Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, she enjoyed the activity there, especially at the nurses station, because she was a “people watcher” all her life. She liked to see what everyone around her was up to, and figure it all out, even wondering why they spoke to the people they did, or did the things they did. I was glad that her curiosity never left her. It made her time in the nursing home must more interesting. Finally, on January 4, 2018, she lost her health battle. Like most Alzheimer’s patients, it was not the disease that took her, but rather that her kidneys gave out. She passed peacefully that evening, after having her family around her earlier in the day. She simply went to sleep, and went home. While we were so sorry to see her go, we knew she was tired of fighting. We love and miss her very much.

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