Howard Joseph’s 2nd Update from Fresno

May 16, 2009

It’s been a very special visit to Fresno, spending my days at home with my mom. Although she hates to ask me for help, just assisting her out of her chair or even refilling her water glass makes me feel good. There is no way that I can repay her for all of the sleepless nights she’s spent helping me get over colds, earaches, and all of th0se crises of childhood. But if it’s possible to bring her a little comfort now, it’s truly a privilege.

In terms of her memory and her mobility, I haven’t noticed any change – for the better or worse, since I arrived last Sunday. The greatest challenge has been managing her pain (headaches) and nausea, which I would say, unfortunately, became much worse.

My dad has become very creative, tracking patterns (when the pain starts, how to offset the nausea with a few Saltine crackers, etc.) and exploring new options with my mom’s hospice team. He’s even rigged a motion detection system to alert us when my mom needs some help getting out of bed – though, it now sounds like someone entering a 7 Eleven every time my mom pushes back the covers. And after a very rough night last night, my mom finally received some relief today (Friday). Hopefully, we’ve found a combination that works.

This has certainly been a week for moms. Spending Mother’s Day with my family in Fresno was all that I could have asked for. Watching my mom celebrate with my grandmother on her 89th birthday here in Fresno was also a very special day. And for a special mom who is no longer with us – Sonny, there are no words. My heart goes out to you and your family.

On Saturday, my aunts Irene, Lydia and Mague will arrive for a visit. On top of all that excitement, we will also be celebrating my brother’s birthday, who becomes yet another year older on Monday.

My flight back to Dallas departs on Sunday. It’s going to be very difficult to get on that plane.

My plan right now is to go back to Dallas for a few days to make some arrangements and to get the house in order. If I can, I hope to return to Fresno by next weekend.

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3 Responses to “Howard Joseph’s 2nd Update from Fresno”

  1. Lydia Avina-Drayer Says:

    Today Irene, Mague and I had a wonderful Fresno holiday. It was like having Christmas again in May, seeing Howard, Chole, Howard Jr., Isaac, Alicia, Emma Rose and Sophia Grace. We were treated to an incredible lunch made by Isaac and Alicia. Isaac’s beans are just as tasty as my mom’s, which is something I’ve never managed. Emma Rose and Sophia Grace are so poised and sweet. Of course, Chole was center of attention, which tired her out sooner than she would have liked. Her two Howards escorted her to her nap like bookends and engaged a motion detector so they would know when she woke. It was very touching and comforting to see how lovingly she is looked after. We phoned once we reached LA again and Chole answered the phone, apologizing for being “rude” by taking a nap. She must know a different definition of “rude” than I do because she is as she ever has been, charming.

    • Howard Joseph Says:

      …and the party continued after you guys left today.

      Emma & Sophia didn’t have their bathing suits at my parent’s house, but it was so hot today that the pool was impossible to ignore. We decided to make an emergency trip to Walmart and equipped ourselves with all of the essentials — flip flops, beach towels, sunscreen, bathing suits, the-whole-nine-yards. When we got back to the house we immediately inaugurated another Fresno summer by plunging into my parent’s backyard pool.

      This was my 6th day in Fresno since arriving from Dallas. During those 6 days, I had strategized many ways to try and get my mother to leave the house. They all failed.

      This afternoon, mom could hear my nieces splashing in the pool from her bedroom. She told my dad that she wanted to stand up and look out the window. My dad suggested that they take a walk out to the pool – about a 25-yard walk, which would really not be feasible for my mom on foot. The only way out there would be the wheelchair.

      Up until now, the word “wheelchair” was never used around my mom. The wheelchair has remained hidden in the garage since the day it arrived. My mom’s refused to even consider using it.

      But apparently the opportunity to see Sophia and Emma swimming in their new bathing suits was worth the sacrifice. My mom let my dad push her out in the wheelchair to a shaded area near the edge of the pool. She sat there for about 40 minutes, drinking iced tea and watching Emma dive off the edge. Once, Sophia swam by heading towards the deep end, and my mom sat up and called to her…Sophia stopped and smiled and said “it’s OK, Abu…I can swim in the deep end now”. My mom sat back in the chair and smiled.

  2. mychole Says:

    Hi Howard, Jr.,

    Your Dad, Isaac, Alicia and you have all done a wonderful job looking after your Mom. She once told me that she though of you as her angels and I can see why. When I was there visiting your Dad and you would be hoovering about her seeing to her needs. Although I was there to help her up from her chair, if she saw your Dad, she would want him to help her. Chole looks at you and both of you have a soft smile and gleam when you look and connect. She’s very lucky to have such a nice family surrounding her. If any time I can be there to lend a hand, just let me know. My bag is packed! Love, Rebecca


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