Monthly Archives: January 2014

Dreaming Again

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I’ve always been a dreamer and I think most of my dreams have come true. I’m always asking our kids what sort of dreams or goals they are working toward and recently Corey and I were sharing some of our dreams and I realized a few days after talking with him that one of my dreams was starting to come true.

The dream I’m talking about is moving on with my life. One year ago today I was given my diagnosis and I never thought I would be able to dream again. On that day last year our hearts were broken and I never thought our hearts would ever heal but they are starting to, one moment at a time.

My family and I are starting to talk a little more comfortably about our future with and without me and we’re all starting to dream again which makes me very happy.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
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A Caregiver’s Tool Belt

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I love Mark’s sense of humor but sometimes it catches me off guard. We especially have to be careful when we are walking and he says something funny because my legs go limp and I almost fall down. Or when I’m eating or drinking and something funny slips out I almost choke. We really have to be careful but sometimes he just can’t help himself and it flies out of his mouth anyway.

Last night he was helping me get ready for bed and every time he thought he was done getting me ready I would ask for a tissue, then Chapstick and then a drink of water. He finally said, “I need to invent a caregiver’s tool belt. I would make sure it always held tissues, Chapstick, water, pills, a brush, glass cleaner for hug smudges and a flask of alcohol for me.”

Indescribable Love

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After spending an amazing weekend in Crystal Beach, Florida with my family and thinking about all of the conversations that took place, my heart is almost bursting because of so much love. I’ve encountered this amazing feeling so many times throughout my life but ever since my ALS diagnosis this feeling has intensified in a way I can’t describe, but I’ll try.

I feel this kind of love when my niece Monica and my future nephew Ian plan a great getaway in a beautiful place for our whole family.

I feel it when I’m looking across the room and making eye contact with Bryan as he mouths “I love you.” and blows me a kiss.

I feel it while lying in bed with Corey while he holds my hand and we each share our hopes and dreams for the future just before he leaves to go back to San Francisco.

I feel it when I hear my four-year-old niece Skylar say she wants to give Aunt Rosemary a kiss and “a gentle hug.”

And when my nephew Billy and his wife Anouk ask Mark and I advice about how we raised our children.

I feel it when my six-year-old nephew Landon looks directly at me with his big brown eyes and listens attentively as I try to talk to him with my not-so-clear voice.

And when I see my nephew Christopher singing and dancing happily as he helps to clear dirty dishes from our morning breakfast.

Nick and Jessica

I feel it when our friends Nick and Jessica Gereaux and William Hennessey visit and fit right in with our family the minute they walk in the door.

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I feel it when Ashley and Monica entertain us with their beautiful singing voices and when our friends Ron and Kathy accept our crazy family as part of their own and when cousin Buddy tells me goodbye with tears in his eyes and says he loves me and when a house full of brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and cousins cook every meal together and clean up afterward without a fight.

Marla

I feel this kind of love when my high school friend, Marla Morrison Radigan, stops by for Wine Time with her husband Charlie, their daughter Alana and her friend Brook after we hadn’t seen one another in 25 years.

I feel it when my sister-in-law Vicki and her husband Bruce give up their bedroom for a week to make things more comfortable for Mark and I and when my sister-in-law Patti and her husband Luz wait patiently to give me a hug and a kiss as I cry uncontrollably during one of my sad moments.

I feel it when a family with so many different personalities gets along for five days in the same house.

And I feel it when my tired husband helps me to the couch in the middle of the night so I can write a blog post.

Someone wrote this comment on my blog recently and I think it fits my feelings on this kind of love perfectly.

“When going through trying times, people don’t love you more, you just realize how much they always did.”

Anonymous

I love this kind of love.

Sarah’s Bargain

Shortly after I published my Dear God blog post I received this beautiful letter from Sarah Groh Bishop, the older sister of one of Kelly’s best friends from high school, Kate Groh.

Dear Rosemary,

I would give every cent of money we have if it would make you well. Every last cent. (my bargaining with God.) And I’ve already cleared it with my husband, Adrian, if God accepts my bargain, it’s all yours. I know I don’t know you well – but I do know you. I have connected with you from our first email and from your every blog entry…and from knowing and loving your kids for years and years. You are one of those once in a lifetime kind of people. And damn this illness. I.just.love.you. I just love you.

And just so you know, I will pray for your husband and your kids and your grandkids until I am 100 years old.

Love,

Sarah

I love you too, Sarah.

My Brother Mick

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On January 26, 2005 my beautiful brother Mick died suddenly at his home from a heart attack at age 50. I lost one of my best friends on that sad day.

Growing up in a family with eleven people in one small house was awesome but very busy. Unfortunately we couldn’t all become best friends because of our age differences. My brother Mick was two years older than me so we became very close. Our bedrooms were right next to each other and if we both laid at the end of our beds we could see each other and talk until our older siblings, Joan and Jim, came to bed.

We grew up in a neighborhood with lots of kids that played with each other. The older kids included us younger kids in a lot of baseball and hockey games, in snow fort building and in games like Red Light, Green Light in our yards. We had so much fun.

Mick was always goofing off even when he was suppose to be working. Every summer we picked blueberries to help pay for our school clothes. One morning my mom dropped us off at Hyrn’s Blueberry Patch and when she picked us up eight hours later, Mick had goofed off so much that day that he only made 12 cents. Needless to say, he got into trouble with my mom.

Another time I thought Mick would get into trouble is when he would drive me and my three younger sisters to Wednesday night Catechism class at St. Thomas Church. We were all supposed go to the class but Mick skipped every class that year. He would drop us off at church and then head over to McDonald’s and come back to get us when class was over. As far as I know my mom never found out.

Probably the first time I realized how close Mick and I had become was in high school. Mick was very handsome, athletic, had a great personality and was smart but he never acknowledged it. Mick had lots of friends and because of his great personality and looks he had a lot of girls that had crushes on him. I was always so proud to be around him and loved him so much.

Mick had a very frustrating side, too. Mick was stubborn and never realized his full potential. Mick had so many natural gifts but never felt worthy of his gifts. In his senior year he was chosen to be on the homecoming court and when he heard the news he said, “Bob Nolan should have been chosen before me because he has done so much for our class and I don’t deserve it.”

After high school Mick and I remained close. I absolutely adored him and was so proud to call him my brother and my friend but his stubborn ways were getting more frustrating. Mick started to drink a lot and my parents were getting worried about him but I was just plain mad at him because my unselfish brother was now so selfish and was hurting our parents.

One day Mick and I were driving around town and talking and Mick told me a deep dark secret. He said, “Sometimes I can see myself driving really fast down Horton Road and when I get to the end instead of stopping at the cross street, I would like to keep driving fast into the trees.” At that moment I was devastated and felt so helpless but I kept his secret.

While going to school at Eastern Michigan University and working at a local hospital Mick met Jackie who later became his wife. Jackie already had two adorable kids, Eric and Jennifer, and Mick instantly fell in love with all three and they became a beautiful family. Mick eventually adopted Eric and Jennifer as his own. Later they had Jessica and Michael and their family was complete. They moved to Muskegon and I thought Mick had finally found true happiness but I was wrong. Mick started drinking more until Jackie had had enough. Jackie had suggested that we conduct an intervention with Mick so we did. We sat in a private room with a counselor, Jackie, my parents and Mick’s eight siblings all sitting in a circle as we talked with Mick. After our intervention Mick agreed to go into a treatment center.

I remember my dad saying, “If a guy really wants to quit drinking, he should be able to.” But after our whole family was educated on addiction, we all learned it is easier said than done. During that time we all learned a lot about addiction and became less judgmental.

The treatment facility Mick went to didn’t fix everything but it was a good place to start. As the years went on Mick had his ups and downs which affected his family life. I had a chat with Mick not long before Mick died and on that day he had already attended two AA meetings and I asked him why he went to two that day. He said he was starting to struggle more at that time so he was trying  to attend more meetings per day for at least 21 consecutive days. Mick said, “The real struggle with addiction is the thinking and not necessarily the chemical dependancy.” Today I believe Mick’s “thinking” was his biggest problem starting from when he was young.

It baffles me to think that all nine of us kids have the same parents but we are all so different. Mick had every gift imaginable except the gift of self-worth.

Dear Jackie, Eric, Jennifer, Jessica and Michael,

I know your husband/dad was tough on you at times but he loved you all so much. Maybe he never felt he could ever live up to his own expectations of being a good husband and  father.

I love you all.

Rosemary/Aunt Rosemary

I miss Mick but lucky for me every day I get a glimpse of him through Chad, Corey and Bryan because of their laugh and sense of humor, the way they scratch their head, the way they walk, the way they love and their sometimes stubborn ways. My brother Mick loved bigger than most people could ever imagine and touched so many lives and was so loved by all and I’ve missed him every day for nine years.

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