Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Last times

The days go by so quickly. Ken's mom and her husband Ben came for a visit and left on Monday. Ben's son David came for a few days too. We spent quite a bit of time together as well as a day when Ken, his mom, and David went to Monterey together. They offered me a little break and I took it. Our final good-byes were actually Sunday evening as they were leaving early Monday. I asked Ken how that was, saying good-bye to his mom. He said he tried to be very "present" in his good-bye as he feels it was the last time he will see his mother. We both got choked up talking about it as we drove home.

There are a lot of "last times" occurring these days. I remember the last time Kenny brought me coffee in the morning because he could no longer carry the mug. I remember the last time he went and got the newspaper because the driveway was too steep and he felt he could easily fall. These "last times" were I knew it was the last. But most "last times" are not announced. They just happen and you don't really know it until you look back and realize....

And then there are the "last times" that are still yet to be and these more and more weigh on my mind. We kissed the other night. A sweet, long, romantic kiss. These are fewer and farther between these days, and even though I was caught up in the tenderness of the moment, I was also fighting hot tears knowing that this kiss may be the last. Of course there will be no announcement of our last kiss. It will just happen. Like so many other things it will just happen and I won't even know it. But I will think about it. Every kiss from now on, I will think about. I will wonder if this is it. And every night when we lie down in bed and say "sweet dreams", I will wonder about that too.

Monday, April 18, 2011

And Another Week

Tomorrow Ken's mom and her husband will be in town. We won't see them until Wednesday because they get in sort of late and will be tired. They have stayed at our house before but now they are staying at Ken's uncles house....her brother. It would be impossible for them to stay here at this point. I really haven't given it much thought on what we are going to do with them. I don't seem to live much beyond today, so anything that requires some planning somehow doesn't get accomplished until it is right upon me. I barely got my daughter-in-law's birthday gift and card to her in a timely way. It is just hard...I feel I am living in a different time zone and not in the real world.

Ken has been taking a lot of naps. I mean like half the day almost. By noon he usually has had two naps. He wakes up in the morning and sits by the side of the bed. He is sort of in a stupor....playing back dreams he had in the night and trying to make sense of them. I usually sit with him at some point and chat and of course hear about the dreams. He fights to open his eyes but it seems a losing battle. After about 45 minutes he is ready for me to lay him down again. Another hour or so of sleep, then up again for awhile before he wants to sleep again. Finally he is up and dressed and maybe out for lunch or something. Afternoon is Hospice. Then another nap. Sometimes he takes naps at tonight....a short half hour nap but enough to get him through to bedtime. Evening seems to be the time he gets a second wind. Mornings are the hardest.

Speaking of mornings, tomorrow is his photo shoot for the article that will be written on him. We have to be there at 10 and looking spiffy. It is going to be a challenge. I went to Izod today and bought him a new golf shirt for the shoot. I realized tonight when I was looking at his other shirts in the closet, that he wears an XL in golf shirts and I got him a L. Great. I hope it fits OK. I realize that we are still newlyweds and I am still learning about him. He shouldn't be leaving me shouldn't be leaving me at all.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fraternity Brothers

There has been a lot of back and forth emails between all the fraternity brothers. I have gotten in on it a little since a few of the emails were directed specifically to me. All of them seem so glad to know that Kenny and I have found each other. I liked what our last visitor said:

"And since I've entered the fray here, let me say this to Ken and Karin : You two are an absolutely beautiful couple. It's rare to witness the kind of tenderness you exhibit toward one another. I felt privileged to spend time with you last week. There's an extraordinary graciousness and poise when you interact, and I spent the afternoon feeling not only that you have been given a tremendous gift in one another, but that you both understand that deeply.. It made my heart very full."

Another responded to that with an email to me:

"The greatest measure of peace I feel about what Ken is battling, has been the result of seeing and hearing about the relationship between you two, and that you are right there with Ken each day, every step of the way. Thanks Chris for sharing about how you left Carmel feeling your heart was full. I felt that way reading it. It seems to be the common theme mentioned by everyone who has been privileged to spend some time in Carmel.

Karin and Kenny, you are in our prayers every day."

Another wrote to me:

"Please know that all the Chi Psi brothers – not just those you know in Ken’s class – are with you two right now.

Real fraternities, and real brotherhood, despite all the associated commotion, are really about love.

Chi Psi brothers love Ken and all you have done and are doing for him. That’s a fact, and it will never change. Please know that and tell Ken, but he already knows – he’s our brother.

YITB, (yours in the bonds)


I love the support that these guys give. They really are a brotherhood and they have extended their love to both Kenny and I. Even though most are a distance away, I feel I could call on any of them at any given time and they would be here. It really is a unique and genuine bond between these guys and I am very happy to have met most of them. last quote from my granddaughter Lauren. I got this email yesterday and thought it was cute.

Dear Grammy,I love you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.I love lily just as much

(Kenny too).Make sure you tell them that.Thanks for
Taking me to get T be on the same level as the cat....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New Friend

It was a great choice to get this kitty. Yesterday Ken was taking a nap and I could not find Kitty anywhere. Our house is not big at all, so it would be pretty hard to find a hiding spot that wouldn't be found out in short order, but I really was baffled as to where she could be. Then I saw it....just the tip of her nose sticking out from the blanket that was over Kenny. She was sound asleep pressed up to Kenny's back, under the cover. They both took about an hour and a half nap together. Even now as I write, Ken is taking another nap and Kitty is curled up behind his knees. I heard him tell his mom yesterday, "Karin finally let me get a cat". Even though he wasn't pushing for a cat by any means, I think he is really happy now that we have one.

Last week Ken went to a luncheon and met a guy named Rich who is over a local magazine here called "65 Degrees". He came over yesterday because he wants to do a human interest story on Ken for next months magazine. Should be interesting. He made a comment based on observation that we "still make each other laugh". Yes we do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Well, I did it. I got a 7 month old kitten yesterday. I wanted to see her again yesterday just to see if I still liked her as much as I did the day before. I liked her more. So, after Ken was done with his lunch at Pacheco Club, I took him back over to meet her. He liked her too. I knew he would, and any cat I would want, he would want too. So....I called Lauren and asked if she would like to come with me to Pet Smart to get all the gear to bring our new kitty home. I told her this cat would belong to ALL of us. So...she was pretty pumped thinking that SHE was getting a cat too. We did our shopping and then went to pick up "Tiger Lily". We brought her home and Lauren was in heaven. She loves all animals, but I think this may have topped the list. She is the cutest little cat, has bunny fur and really does not seem to shed much at all. Very soft, very clean. Tiger Lily seemed pretty adjusted right away and didn't seem to mind the constant attention Lauren was giving her. She hopped on Kenny's lap several times while he was in his chair and curled up between us when he sat on the couch last night. She slept right there on our bed last night without any coaxing. This kitty has jumped right into our family and I wonder why I ever hesitated in the first place. She is perfect, and the only reason I suppose for the delay was that we were waiting especially for her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A List

I used to start my morning every day with a list of things I wanted to get done for the day. Usually it was more ambitious than I truly am, so what didn't get done, found itself on the next day's list. I don't do that anymore. I don't plan my days out too much these days. I move through the day with little planning or expectation....only to do what needs to be done at any given moment. At times I feel foggy, slothful and aimless. But other times, I feel this is good for me. I have put a lot of pressure on myself over the years...the "should" pressure. Things I "should" do and usually don't. Guilt. But now, I am living each day as it comes. Finding that a talk on the phone or hanging out with Kenny watching TV is just as, or more important than anything on my "to do" list. Kenny has always been such an encouragement to me in that way. If it is noon and I am still in my PJ's because I had made pancakes and talked on the phone to my family all morning, I often feel I am just twittering my day away....but he always tell me I am "doing my job". As always, my false guilt is lifted and I realize what a gift I have been given.

Here it is 10:45 in the morning and Kenny is down for his second nap of the day. He had a busy weekend with his sister's visit, and then yesterday he went to the Pacheco Club to meet the boys for lunch. All that leads to a very tired guy. For lunch today he is meeting his uncle at the club...the boy just keeps going.

I am very tempted to adopt a cat. I have been looking at the SPCA and various rescue places but have not found one that I really liked. I did find a black and white one at the SPCA last week that I liked because she was so affectionate. I took Kenny back the next day to meet her and got a chance to hold her. When I put her back in the cage, my black jacket was covered with cat hair. I just thought...."I can't do this....I don't want to be one of those ladies you see out and about all covered in cat hair". sort of put a damper on that idea but I went out yesterday to the AFRP to check out what cats they might have. I liked one quite a bit. He was gray and left me with very few hairs on my jacket. That is good. But he had a respiratory problem and would be sneezy and drippy all his life. Hmmm. No...I don't think I want a cat like that either. So...just as I was leaving there was another cat curled up in a covered bed with her brother. She came out and oh my. She was just the coloring that is my favorite, but I had sort of ruled it out once I saw all the cat hair on me from the black and white. This one is a gray and white tabby, 7 months old. Cute, cute, cute. But, a lot of white. I held her and lo and behold when I put her back I had very few hairs on me. I could live with this! I am still having a hard time deciding. I think having a cat would be nice at this time in my life. Another living thing in our home that would bring comfort. Kenny loves cats and would enjoy her company. For me, she would be my pal and I would have someone to greet me when I come home....especially in my future. My grandkids would be ecstatic and I think my son's kids will never have pets, so there is a part of me that wants to do this for them too. I think I am leaning toward getting her. More tomorrow!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nice Words...

Ken's fraternity brother, Jeff, who was here last week, wrote an email to all the fraternity brothers giving them an update on his visit with Ken. He sent a copy to me as well and I liked what he said about "us".....

"Seeing a brother in this condition was painful but the "silver lining" is the love story that Ken and Karin share for each other. While they had dated for a few years, it was only months after their wedding that Ken received this devastating news.
Karins love and commitment for Ken during this very difficult time has given Ken some of the most loving, intimate moments of his life. As we drove around Carmel Valley, I remarked that there love and commitment to each other is stronger and more genuine than relationships that last 50 years. Trust me when I tell you that these two are soul mates and are connected at the core of their being.They spend all of their time together and should be what we all aspire to have when we exchange wedding vows and repeat the words, " for better or worse, in sickness and in health"."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breathe In

This morning around 4 a.m. Kenny had me help him turn over on the bed. He turned so he was facing my side and left me little room to squeeze in and find my place spooned against back to his stomach. But I did. I was wide awake by that time and Kenny was right up against me. I could feel him trying to breathe. It seemed so hard for him. Many times he just didn't breathe at all....just holding his breath. I could feel the tension rise in me....the adrenaline pumping...."I need to keep him breathing"! I know he was sleeping because I woke him up when I asked him if he was ok. This way of breathing is no different than any other time, it was just that he was pressed up against me and I could feel every fitful breath. I told myself last night...."one of these days it will happen...he will stop breathing....and if it is be it....there is nothing I can do". My adrenaline stopped pumping when I had this "talk" to myself, and right about that time Kenny wanted to turn back to his favored position. He turned, I spooned up against him, and we both fell asleep, finally.

We ended up having a nice day yesterday visiting with Ken's two friends from college. Lunch at Stillwater Bar and Grill, sitting over the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Golf course. The weather was absolutely perfect for outdoor dining. It could not have been anymore perfect...except.

I was sad in the afternoon yesterday. The one thing I have been really grateful about regarding Kenny's ALS is that it he does not and will not have problems with speaking or swallowing. But, I was realizing yesterday, that even though he can speak, it is getting more and more difficult to carry on long conversations. He is fuzzy somewhat. Tires easily. I am finding myself "missing" him more and more.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Yesterday was a good day. I had a long stretch of time with the house to myself and no Kenny to worry about. He went to the Pacheco Club for lunch with friends and then to a movie. I cleaned house all morning. Ran to Home Depot and the nursery for plants. Repotted the patio and porch plants....and now...Spring is here! When Ken came home and was taking a nap I ran out to see Dixie. Then home....showered (finally) and cooked a favorite pasta dish from Giada. It just felt nice to get this stuff done. My closet is a mess...that is the next thing.

Today another fraternity brother of Kenny's will come for a visit. Lunch out today....a tour. It will be a fun day today, I am sure of it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Week

Here we are at the beginning of another week. Time is flying. We had a nice weekend. Got out quite a bit actually. Friday night we met with friends at Carmel Valley Ranch. We met some new people that live close by and in the course of the conversation found out that one lady there had lung cancer. Six months to live they told her. She and Ken struck up a conversation and the next thing I know I hear Ken ask her "is your husband nice"? Oh boy....I knew where this was going. Glad her husband was not in ear shot and not really knowing this lady (although I could tell she was fun) I wasn't really sure if she might be offended with where I knew my hubby was heading. "Yes" she said and then her eyes light up, " do that too!" Ken..."can they date"?...."yes!"....oh gosh....

Ken asked me yesterday how I was doing with our "new normal" and I told him I was doing pretty well. He said he is doing well too, but it is sort of hard for him to be sleepy all the time. He does take naps more and more. He does dose in the car more. He fights to keep his eyes open at times. Yes...he struggles. But he says it's not so bad....when he gets tired, he just goes to sleep. He always sees the positive.

In an interview several months ago, Ken was asked the question if life is more intense for him it more fully now that he is on this journey. At the time he said he couldn't really claim that, but yesterday he was talking about that question and said he feels he has always lived his life that way. I think of anyone I know, Ken has truly lived a great life and enjoyed it in full measure. Even the hard stuff he has gone through he seems to see the silver lining in it all. I am so glad he can look back and feel he lived his life well. He is living his life well.....even now.