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mom now

Carolyn Ruth Cook was born on January 5th, 1931 and her heart beat for the last time, exactly 85 years later on January 5th, 2016. Our Mother, our Friend, our Nana…our hearts are broken once again by our enemy…Death.

Followers of our blog have noticed our absence as years have gone by with no updates since the year anniversary of my father’s death. I apologize for our lapse and hope you will accept my excuse. It was just too hard to write about another parent slipping away.

You read about my excitement about Mom & Teri moving to Ventura and getting Mom’s home remodeled and ready for her…a place we thought she would enjoy the remainder of her life.  You read about her visits to the doctor and hospital with mini-strokes. Mom had been suffering memory loss a few years before my father’s death.  I know that is why Dad struggled to stay alive…he hated that he would not be around to take care of her and keep her safe.

Initially, there was no diagnosis…but everyone who knew Mom could see the rapid changes in the way that she behaved. Eventually, it was confirmed that she was suffering with Advanced Alzheimer’s, that steadily progressed with more and more disturbing symptoms.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that truly changes a person. It unhooks the wiring in the brain, changes personality and robs one of their identity so that they can’t even remember themselves and sink into their past as a child looking for their parents and feeling lost. So despite my joy at having my mother live so close by; this  was not the Mom that I had known. That woman, my mother began fading away, and then slipped away faster when Dad was diagnosed with cancer and then turned off when he died.

This woman who had moved to Ventura, was not like the mother that had raised me and my siblings. I got another woman. She was sweet and kind, agreeable to any suggestions and smiled most of the time; but I could only see remnants of the Carol Cook that had been my mother. My heart ached as I watched her disease keep snatching pieces of her away, bit by bit, leaving a woman who was constantly confused and bewildered, walking around the room looking for a picture or a clue to help her figure out whose house she was in. You could often see the fear in her eyes as she struggled to remember where she was….and sadly at times, even who was sitting in the same room with her…her daughters.

So now…my mother has closed her eyes and I am left wiping mine as tears keep welling and spilling down my face. I thought I was ready for this since I had basically lost Mom when she shut down before Dad’s death.  I was not ready! I am NOT ready!

So as I sit here typing in the wee hours of the morning…it is January 9th, 2016, the day of my mothers memorial, I hurt and I am mad. I am angry that death has once again snatched away someone that I depend on to be ALIVE in my life. I want my parents back and I don’t care that I am a grown woman with children and grandchildren of my own. I WANT MY MOM!

As one of five children, I know that we each have our own experiences and memories that belong exclusively to each of us. Roger, the oldest, and the only son, got the inexperienced young Carolyn, who was eager to be a mother and absolutely adored him…a feeling that never went away. I saw it in her smile when he visited her during the last month of her life. Marta, the youngest, got the experienced, older, and tired Mom. She had given birth to 4 babies that came year after year…and then received Marta 4 years and 1 day after giving birth to me.  Through the years, we each experienced the same and yet different versions of Carolyn Cook…and we all came away with our own recall of what she means in our life.

So these are just a few of my memories, my story, my version of the Carolyn Cook that I claim as MY mom. Sorry siblings…I mean no disrespect or insult. You are free to write your own memories of Mom. I look forward to reading them…because I know that it is impossible for just one of her children to capture the true essence of her entirely without the stories of her other 4 children. Just as she formed us, loved and cared for all us … each of us helped to define her as MOM.

This is way too long…and just a tiny, tiny snapshot of the multitude of memories that are flooding my mind and then my eyes. I am sorry. Kinda sorry.

I feel sorry for the people in Ventura who only knew the sweet little Grandma, with her quirky smile…they did not get to see all of her, the real Carolyn Cook. So how do I use my words to paint a picture that truly portrays her…and remember, this is my version, because my siblings might paint her differently. Here it goes:

My mother was a beautiful and passionate woman, caring and kind, stubborn and fiercely independent, and she was self-admittedly concerned about appearances. As a woman from the South, she had certain sensibilities and expectations of what she thought life should look like. Look at Moms pictures…Amazing!  She had a handsome husband and five young children and she made sure that we were also dressed well and presentable…at least most of the time. Remember…there were five of us. [Somehow my hair never looks like she finished combing it before pictures were snapped.]

I remember a fun-loving mother who made sure to provide good experiences and memories. We lived in a cul-de-sac and it was the early Sixties. We had a carefree life, playing with our friends, running through sprinklers, riding our bikes and just being kids. My mom had a group of friends that would gather at each others houses and play cards. In the summer, we had swimming lessons and trips to the beach. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and our neighbor showing us his Bomb Shelter. A normal life? But I felt secure and happy and loved. I remember her cooking, cleaning, playing, and laughing. We laughed a lot. She was a happy young mother.

As a teenager…things had changed. We had learned the truth about what the Bible taught and our family were now Jehovah’s Witnesses. Mom had found her faith and she became a spiritual woman who had found an anchor for her family. She tried to instill her love for Jehovah into our hearts and Dad had joined her in that endeavor. Now memories were being made of spending time in telling others the Good News of God’s Kingdom, attending meetings, and conventions and a whole new world of friends…lots and lots of friends. Really GOOD friends. Lots of good memories. She was happy to have found hope for the future and enjoyed these new chapters in her life.

Our home was open to all and we always seemed to have extra people at our table eating food, not always cooked by Mom…but usually prepared by Tonja or Teri. It seems to me that as soon as those two got tall enough to look down into the pot… they were the ones cooking dinner. Mom knew how to delegate…and she had a lot to delegate. Five teenagers make for a lot of laundry. Mom was crafty and artistic and she always seemed to have some type of project going…painting, gardening, raising chickens, planning parties….the list goes on and on and I love all of those memories.

And then….the other shoe dropped. She was raising teenagers, full of life and eager to spread our wings and fly. That freedom was not granted eagerly and I watch Mom’s angst as we all went through growing pains. Bad decisions were made by her five inexperienced and foolish children, consequences were paid and the years of joy became infused with some horrible and heartbreaking times for Mom. Some of her children’s lives seemed to be in danger of shipwreck and in the midst of all of that, Mom got the news that she had Breast Cancer. However, she was spunky, determined, resilient and she would rise up to each occasion and try to muster through…after all, this was a Southern Woman…a woman who relied on Jehovah and had a good husband supporting her, and she came through it all! Stronger and tired. Very tired!

I must admit…and I have apologized earnestly and heartfelt to Mom, but I did not like her very much from the age of 15 to 18. You know…the stupid years. The years when parents cannot possibly know what they were talking about and please do not give advice to me because I know better years. Truthfully, I was acting out because Mother’s attention was focused on the woes in front of her. I truly thought she was unfair and showed favoritism and what about ME ME ME.  I am sorry, I was a jerk. When you are one of five and life is spinning out of control, one or two is bound to feel unimportant and overlooked. Remember…I have apologized.

After a while, things settled down and Mom got us all out of the house. She and Dad settled into a comfortable routine and life was good and going pretty smooth. She loved where the two of them settled in Oregon. She swore she would never leave and that she had never lived in a place where she felt happier. They had good friends in their congregation and loved their surroundings. They had a multitude of Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren that they welcomed anytime one would show up at their door. Life was good!

She and Dad would come down from Oregon every summer to attend our annual Conventions and it was a joy and privilege to worship Jehovah with them. Mom and Dad were a constant touchstone, a refuge, a place to turn to for advice and love. My boys loved visiting Oregon and being loved by Nana and Poppy. Those were truly their golden years as they loved each other, their family and their friends and I loved seeing them thrive.

And now…they are gone. Both of them…gone.  I know and I will be reminded again today at Mom’s Memorial Service that her faith and mine…is sure and true. Mom wholeheartedly believed what the Bible said about the condition of the dead and the resurrection. So I will see both Mom and Dad again when those promises are realized. I know I will.

BUT…right now I am mad at DEATH.  I want her back now. I want my MOM! I want my siblings to have Mom! I am dreading today, because the slight scab that has been forming ever so slowly since January 5th will be ripped away and the bleeding will be profuse as I witness the pain in the faces of my brother, my sisters and our children and grandchildren as we gather to honor this beautiful woman we called MOM and NANA.

Until we meet again Mom….I will remember. I promise I will remember. You are loved!

 

 

 

 

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Mom and Teresa have vacated the Mason abode and moved in to their own pretty space six miles away. Interior renovations are basically complete,with only a few minor tasks yet to complete. The overall outcome is beautiful. See for yourself.

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Teresa still needs to get some items moved from her home in Florida, so she can finish her bedroom and fill in some of the empty spaces. Mom is awaiting a very special chair, just for her, to go in her den. She ordered a power recliner with a special lift to help her get out of the chair. I want one too!  They still need to hang up some pictures, drapes and stuff like that. There is some landscaping and exterior painting needed also; but there is plenty of time for that. The house is so welcoming and the residents are pretty nice too—I say that, but I might be biased.

Mom is loving her new home. She has had the family over for a few dinners and has already hosted a luncheon for our Circuit Overseer, Pete & Joanne Mardesich, (with Teresa and I responsible for the cooking) who are visiting our Kingdom Hall this week. This house is a vessel for the ongoing Cook Hospitality that has been a hallmark of our parents open door policy.

It is so nice to see Mom enjoying her home. She loves that she has her own personal chef and housecleaning staff. Teresa is her domestic goddess and over-all personal assistant. Mom says she took care of us for years and now it’s our turn to reciprocate…which we are glad to do I must say.

This has been a great move for Mom and for Teresa too. Now if only Mom’s health would cooperate. This past weekend she suffered several small strokes. She was hospitalized and underwent a litany of tests. The MRI showed evidence of damage across her frontal lobe. Teresa and I took her for follow-up with her Physician, Dr. Brock Jones today. He outlined a course of action to pursue to prevent any more episodes. The good news is that her blood pressure is responding to medication and hopefully this one won’t leave any residual effects.  She says that she is “Just Old”…but hey, at 81 she is just a “Spring Chicken”, right?  Anyway, we are monitoring her closely and hopefully she will be back to par before long.

Teresa and Mom will be hosting the Palaski’s in December and have an open book for anyone who wants to schedule a visit. Ventura is beautiful in the Winter…wanna come see?

Mom has a Facebook Account. Yep …. Mom has a new email address:  CarolCook1931@yahoo.com and also has her very own Facebook page. She is becoming a true Techie. She knows how to play Solitaire already…and she is constantly grabbing my Iphone to check my Facebook page…so I got her one of her own. When setting up her accounts, she chose her own email address and wanted to invite everyone she knew to be her friend. I suggested that she just ask family and wait to be invited by others…She already is friends with over 20 people. Next thing you know, she will be wanting her own Laptop…or maybe even an IPad.

Besides taking over the Intranet … Mom is supervising the remodeling and fluffing up of her new nest.  She should be in within a few weeks. In the meantime, Teresa is dragging us constantly to the Holy Trinity of Home Stores …. HD Supply, Home Depot and Lowes.  Progress is being made. The kitchen cabinets are in and look great. Now Mom’s bathroom is being completed with her very own custom shower…and then a few more items and then she will be moving in. She CANNOT wait. She loves her new place and is so excited.  We will keep you updated….meanwhile check out Carolyn Cook on Facebook or drop her an email.

Mom thinks it is funny that at 80-years-young she now has an email.>>Who woulda thunk?

Bat Party

Please note…that Mom’s phone has been disconnected and now the only way to contact her is through Teresa’s cell. If you do not have Teresa’s number…email her at teresabuster@live.com and she will send it to you.

NOW…..

The Estate Sales are over. Yay!!!  We were quite successful at trimming down. Furniture was sold, knickknacks carted away, the RV was sold and the garage is cleared. We met a lot of nice people who were very pleasant and just a couple of lookieloos who would not have been missed. Overall it accomplished what needed to be done.

Roger and Elena came down for the weekend. Roger participated in the 2011 Tuna Tournament that helped support the Food Bank and he brought us home twelve pounds of fresh Albacore.  Teresa arrived home Saturday after working for the week in Phoenix.  We picked her up at the airport and joined Roger for a steak dinner following his tournament. We had a very nice evening laughing together and enjoying each others company.

Sunday after the meeting, Mom’s Congregation gave her a Going-Away Party. Roger and Elena joined us, as well as Ryan, Kaila, and their children. We all gathered at Lake Marie, where Roger barbecued the fresh Albacore…IT WAS DELICIOUS and everyone raved about how moist it was. Burgers and hot dogs were also cooked and everyone shared in the feast that everyone had contributed to. Elena, Teresa and I all collaborated on a fresh Peach Crisp that turned out really yummy and was received quite well at the party. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon immensely. Roger and Elena went home after giving Mom, Teresa and I really nice long hugs and promises to visit in Ventura soon. (THEY HAD BETTER).

Friends referred a really nice family to rent Mom’s house, so that is a big relief…and things have been moving along pretty smoothly. It’s kind of ironic how things have been falling into place.

Until today….

Today Mom, Teresa and I were running around like chickens with their heads chopped off. (Stop for a second, close your eyes and visualize that…got it?)

Our plan is to move on Saturday. The list of “must-dos” is incredibly long and we are going a little Bat-Crazy…as in literally. Now visualize this: bats have invaded the attic, so we were on a quest to find this special wire mesh to keep them out and of course no one had it. Finally, the seventh building supply place in Coo’s Bay had a suitable substitute. Teresa was ticked.

We also needed to get some paperwork done at the DMV … well it turns out the DMV does not handle what we needed anymore, so we had to contact another Governmental office … and you know how red tape goes….sticky, sticky. (Turns out it wasn’t so bad). More chickens running around took place.

So all in all, our errands took us to seven building supply stores, one lawyer’s office, the DMV, one office supply store, a pharmacy, two Dollar Stores and three grocery stores…and one stop at an automotive place for a battery for the Ford … and oh yeah … one stop for lunch and another later at McDonald’s for some sweet tea. That’s a heck of a lot of running around.  I think we finished our list for the day…Yay. Now there is the list for tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and we are off to Ventura on Saturday.

So, helpful friends from the Reedsport Congregation, (Mike, Brian, Sarah, and Jonathan) showed up to combat the bats tonight.  Chuck and Myriam Harvey & Larry brought some fantastic chili verde, spanish rice and beans…we contributed enchiladas and salad and wham bam we have a bat party, complete with cheesecake, with blackberries. The guys and Sarah got up on the roof and took off the ridge, let the bats fly away at dusk and then went back up and stapled down the elusive mesh.

Larry Fitz & Chuck Harvey

Myriam Harvey

 

Jonathan, Mike & Brian

Do yourself a favor and do not visualize the next few sentences. The wonderful volunteers reported that there was a plethora of bats who left a hefty residual of deposit material that Sara said smelled like stinky musky poo. Brian said it is not as potent as old cow manure in a pile, but like cow poo that has old straw on top of it. Mike says it smells like bat poo, just plain old bat poo, which has a distinctive smell all its own. Well…we are grateful that our friends are so willing to help…and that their sense of humor remained intact. Hopefully the bats will now fly far, far away and poo somewhere else.

Sarah & Mom

So instead of beavers and ducks today….we had headless chickens and bats. Now let’s hope tomorrow is a little less hairy. We are almost done packing and cleaning. Randy will be here on Friday to drive the Moving Van down to Ventura and we are leaving on Saturday.

In true Cook fashion…we are sure to have more stories coming your way.

GARAGE SALE UPDATES from Teresa

I’m kind of hard pressed for positive when I’m up to my eye balls in price stickers and a guy wants to know if he can purchase the drive way for the marked price of 10 cents. Ha, after this move I’m convinced simple is better. The only allowance for mass is shoes, I say.

Must add though…Even with the work of packing, cleaning and selling there has been a lot of help. Roger came up two weeks ago and got the motor home running, fixed the garbage disposal again, the broken dishwasher and hauled away the Mercury to sell. And he’ll be up again in a couple of weeks to help us finish up a few things around the house. Just so he’ll have plenty to do, I broke the kitchen faucet last night. It stills works with duck tape if I only want a dribble of water. Otherwise it shoots a spray half way to the living room. More work. Oh well.

The other help has come from friends who manned our estate sale last weekend and are coming back again tomorrow to help Tonight I learned I’ll have a whole posse of helpers. Great! Because there are plenty of price stickers to go around.

Last week’s sale generated a lot of interest in the property and several other things Mom has wanted gone for quite a long time. The “beast” has been spoken for and the new owners are coming to get the spiffed up motor home tomorrow. Yep, that was another thing that had to be cleaned and pressured washed. Thanks go to Chuck and Angela for that chore since I was sorting through a ton of tools in the garage at the time. Screw drivers in one pile, sockets in another, saws on the wall and buckets and buckets of nails, and nuts and bolts. Man… men will buy anything. Most of that stuff I‘d have tossed in the trash but the men were hauling it away by the arms full. More kudos for Chuck since, he managed to fill Mom’s coffers with a pretty pennies in fair trade.

I’m gonna say it because it’s the honest reflection of my thoughts…THE LORD WILLING, even the semi seems to be on its way out of the yard. Four new batteries went into it this afternoon and John will be back tomorrow with his own helper to try to get it moved from our home to his. With bated breath I’m praying that goes well.

How’s Mom doing in all of this? Until the faucet broke, pretty well, I think she said a bad word when that happened. But she’s fine now. She’s got friends coming over in the morning early so she’s gone to bed and she’s telling me to do the same. So I’m gonna listen to my Mom and turn out the lights.

August 2019
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