JoAnn Brozowski's Comments

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At 12:03pm on January 26, 2013, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

At 12:01pm on January 26, 2013, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

I'm thinking of you and Tyler today and sending prayers and good thoughts to you.  I never knew that Gregory Peck had lost a son until I read this quote he gave in an interview...It describes how I feel and I know you do to, as you mentioned in a previous note.

At 3:11pm on January 25, 2013, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn,  I just wanted you to know that I'm thinking about you during this incredibly difficult month of January for both of us.  And tomorrow I'll think of you even more, on the 3rd anniversary of the terrible day you lost your Tyler.  Saying a prayer and hoping you're as well as possible,

Love,

Janet

At 10:01am on January 3, 2013, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - Thanks for responding away.  I had been feeling very down about my mother and her comment about my daughter's weight and how much that hurt Tracy's feelings.  She's tried every diet you can imagine, including one that was held at her church, which sounded natural and hopeful, but she's dealing with a huge problem and has been since she was a child.  Fortunately she has a wonderful personality (with other people) that makes them feel good about themselves and happy to be around her. 

Hearing from you made me feel better right away.  When I told John that you were planning to give your nice pair of earrings to your sister for her 60th birthday and about the stones from other jewelry you gave to your nephew to use in an engagement ring for his girlfriend, because these things don't mean anything anymore, he said, "She sounds just like you!".  He's right.  Things don't matter to me anymore but if someone else can enjoy them they're welcome to have them.  I do enjoy giving to Todd's friends and their children because we are all connected to Todd in a special way.  None of us want to believe he's really gone, it's too painful.  One of his closest friends, a girl, bought a beautiful memorial candle to honor his memory.  At get-togethers, i.e. New Year's Eve, she lights the candle near a picture of him, and makes up a plate of his favorite foods before we eat.  It makes us feel as though he is there with us.   This picture was taken two years ago at Andrea's house.  Sadly, I didn't think to take a picture this year.  I have a few others and I usually try to bring a different photo each time.  In this picture Todd was in his early 20's and taking a photography class in college.  He was taking a picture of himself taking a picture!  That's his reflection in the glass!  Tracy described perfectly why we love spending times with his friends.  She had been invited to another New Year's Eve party and had accepted, but when she received this invitation, she called her friend and told her she thought it would be more healing to spend time with her brother's friends.

I'm glad to hear that the leg ulcer is healing.  It seems like some part or parts of me are hurting all of the time, but when I get outside I feel better.  Our dog, Ginger, has been barking every 10 minutes or so because she wants to go for a walk.  The colder it gets, the more insistent she becomes.  I feel years older than I did when we adopted her 4 years ago.  Of course Todd was with us then and so were the two cats he had brought home many years ago as orphaned kittens.  He was a cat person but I can still remember the gentle way in which he used to pat Ginger and give her affection.  He really loved and respected all living things.

This month is bad for both you and me.  I don't know which is worse, their birthdays or their anniversaries. 

I think it's great that your support group is still meeting.  Our group from hospice was a structured program for 8 weeks for people who had lost adult children.  We all said we'd continue to meet, but didn't, although I see some of the people at Compassionate Friends meetings, especially the balloon release in May and the candle lighting service in December, which is very beautiful.  This year I cried through most of it, especially when Todd's picture came up on the screen.  I was still crying when Ginger's original owner was leaving and saw me crying.  Although she hasn't lost a child, a very close friend and neighbor of hers lost her only child, an 11-year old daughter, to cancer l

At 1:57pm on December 31, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Kept getting the 5000 character warning....

Hope you are still feeling better.  The only reason I'm feeling a little better is that we've been so busy with my mother's estate plan, something she should have done, but wouldn't let even my father do when he was living.  Because of her, we have all kinds of problems and I haven't had much time to think of anything else.

We visited her on Christmas Day in the beautiful assisted-living residence we found for her.  She was as cranky as ever, telling us to "take me home" .  She actually TOLD my daughter that she'd "GAINED A LOT OF WEIGHT", when, in fact, she'd actually just lost 20 lbs.  She told my mother, to which Mom replied, "you could have fooled me". Tracy's eyes watered and she went silent. We were shocked because she never had said anything mean to Tracy.  She was mean to me my whole life, but never to her 2 grandchildren, especially Tracy!    After we were in the car, Tracy said, "I want to visit Nana on holidays, but don't know what to do after today".  I told Tracy that I didn't want to see my mother anymore either.   I realize that people with dementia have no filters, but my mother was always mean & very critical of me and my father.   I don't know why I tried so hard to find a great place for her.  She doesn't appreciate it and I'm now paying the price.  

We have a much better lawyer now, so I'm hoping he can put an end to this madness. 

Hope you have a peaceful and joyful new year.

Love,

Janet

At 1:34pm on December 31, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn,  As always, it's so good to hear from you!  Until a few days ago, I was going through the worst time, crying most of the day, feeling as though I now realize that Todd isn't coming home. I guess I was in denial for 3 1/2 yrs and now feel like I'm waking up to this horrible nightmare that never goes away.  Christmas was just the three of us this year, Tracy, John and me.  Up until 2008, my mother-in-law would have her 3 sons and all of their families over on Christmas Eve, her favorite day of the year.  She passed away in 2009, only 10 weeks after Todd.  She told us not to feel sad because she had had a wonderful life & could now go & be with John's father.  After that, John's brother had everyone over on Christmas Eve.  In 2009, I had to leave very early because everyone was having such a wonderful time with family and all I could think of was that everyone's complete family was there except mine, and that Todd would have been there if he could...he loved those family gatherings.  I explained to John; fortunately I had taken my own car because I was running late and told him to go ahead.  When I got inside my car, I couldn't stop sobbing & ended up driving to the cemetery where Todd's place is, parking there & talking with him.  It's a beautiful little cemetery in my home town of Melrose.  Many parents and others have placed garden solar lights there, making it pretty, even at night.  This place is always peaceful; people take walks there during the day, many times walking their dogs. They let people put up decorations for holidays & birthdays, speaking of which, Todd's birthday is January 12th.  I can't bear to think of that now. 

This year, John's brother, who had everyone over, went to their older son's place in town, because their son & his partner are very active in their church & they were having a special Christmas Eve celebration Mass.  John's other brother, the youngest, has a wife who left him after more than 40 yrs of marriage because she found out he was "talking" with an old friend from high school on FB.  The friend happened to be a girl, but it was platonic. We all think his wife was just looking for an excuse to throw him out of the house, because it's in her name,  having been given to them years ago by her very wealthy brother, who had never used the house, having bought it just to have something to write off on his taxes.  At the time, he was still single and needed a tax shelter.  Back to John's brother...sadly, when he inherited the money from John's parents' estate, his wife started spending lots of money on the house...a new kitchen, addition, beautiful sun room, huge 3-D TV, landscaping & fire pit in the  yard, etc.  She had always handled the money & John's brother never saw what was coming.  After relegating John's brother to the basement, she started dating & going on vacations with her new boyfriend, living a great life, going to FL whenever it's cold here, while John's brother now lives in a one-room apartment...very sad.  

When we heard the terrible news on TV about those poor little children & their teachers, I wondered if it was near you.  Never thought it would be so close!  All I could think of was how their parents feel-and just before Christmas -one of the happiest times for children!  Then I started being grateful for all the years I had WITH TODD AFTER he was five or six, far more years & memories than these parents had.  When we first lost Todd, all I could think about was how many wonderful years I knew him, more than half my life!  At the time, I thought it made it more difficult to lose an adult child than a young child.  After the school shooting, I started thinking differently-how grateful I am for the extra years & memories.  At the same time, I'm so very sad for all of us.

It's a shame your sisters won't talk with each other.  Life is too short.  Which one did you en

At 11:27am on November 30, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - It was so good to hear from you!  I too have been going crazy trying to get my parents' house ready to put on the market.  The house would have been ready to show when my mother first went to Physical Rehab after her short hospital stay last January, but we didn't know at that time that we'd have to sell it, so we asked our daughter if she'd like to live there since it was close to the time she would have to renew her rental agreement on her apartment.  Now all of her things are everywhere since she doesn't have energy to put things away and clean after she comes home from work.  She's very much overweight, so I can understand why she's so tired.  At least she's working full-time for 3 doctors in a job she enjoys at an excellent hospital, I only wish they paid her more money.  If she had to pay rent, she wouldn't have much left over for everything else, but now we have the problem of helping her find a place to live that she can afford.  Assisted-living residences are SO expensive that we are quickly going through my father's savings, which I thought would last at least 2 years.  My husband is having difficulty sleeping because of worrying about the situation.  I have to try to get over to their house today and pick up all of my parents' coats for the Anton's Cleaners' annual coat drive.  Also have to get paintings for my friend's sister (an artist) to appraise.  Not sure I trust her "expertise" because she's kind of a know-it-all type, but it's a place to start.  Also want to take photos of my parents' mahogany bedroom set from 1942 to show local antique shop owners what it might be worth, and their kitchen table & chairs from the same era.  Everything was so well-made at that time!  If I could sell some of their 1942 furniture, it would help pay for my mother's care.  

I'm also back to walking one of "my" dogs 4 days a week starting today, as her "Mom", who is an artist, is getting ready for the Harvard Square Fair, which begins tomorrow!  I have so much respect for this woman, and she most likely wouldn't presume to appraise the paintings, because she is not a person who thinks she knows everything! I had trouble sleeping last night just thinking about everything that has to be done before we run out of money for my mother's assisted-living home.  I could never care for her ... she's more than a little "difficult " and argumentative, even with the wonderful staff where she lives.

What a coincidence about your leg ulcer!  I had one when Todd was a month old and Tracy was 12 months old.  At least that's what I now believe it was.  The doctor had me coming back weekly for treatment but it wasn't getting better, only larger, so he told me I'd have to go to the hospital for further testing.  I replied, "I have two babies under a year old...I can't possibly go to the hospital"!  He gave me one more week before he'd have to insist, because every week it was getting bigger.  This was back in 1971.  Wouldn't you know...the following week when I saw him it had become a little smaller!  I had to continue seeing him, but it continued to get smaller, so I never went to the hospital.  I think I scared it away, ha ha.

I have so much more to say....I'm very interested in the medium you saw and so happy she was able to connect with Tyler so well!  It's incredible how much she knew - I haven't had that experience with the mediums I've seen.  Only one seemed to connect with Todd, but I don't remember her giving that much detail about so many things, the way you experienced.  I don't have a tape of the session but I do remember that she seemed like Todd's type of girl, very natural and down-to-earth, with a boyfriend who loves the same things that Todd loved.  She shared many of the same interests herself, and that's why I think she was able to connect with Todd.  The other two mediums we visited were not like Todd at all, although they felt as though they had connected with Todd, I didn't feel the sam

At 8:48pm on November 6, 2012, Michelle Berls - Julie's Mom said…

JoAnn - Thank you for your kind words of support.  I am so sorry for the loss of your son.  Our children were almost the same age when they passed from this life.  So full of promise and hope. Some days I still cannot believe its true.  Peace to you.

At 8:36am on September 8, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - I agree with you that if your mother was back in her own home, when she's well enough of course, with her own routine, she would probably come back to where she was.  My mother was so much better when she lived with my father in their own home up until last January.  With my father's clear mind, he could remember things for her, and she could carry on a conversation about the present very well.  Many people didn't even realize she had memory problems, because she's articulate and was well-informed.  Now, because she's hard of hearing and the staff where she is presently living, do not take that into consideration when speaking with her, has gone downhill.  They watch too much TV when they're supposed to be doing other things, according to their own calendar.  We're moving her to a much better assisted living residence this coming Thursday, where they have a very specific program for elders with memory disorders, which we will be designing with the staff on Tuesday.  Their staff is very professional and friendly, which isn't always the case where she's living now.  Oh, but all the paperwork and running around to doctors for medical records, for more info to the VA (they help out a little with the expense of assisted living for a veteran or the spouse of a veteran).  Getting ready to put their house on the market.  Helping our daughter find another place to live...she's living there right now.  It just goes on and on.

New experiences, your therapist says?  New, exciting, happy experiences?  Is she kidding?  Anything that would be joyful isn't anymore.  I don't want new experiences, I just want my old life back too, with my complete little family, with my son alive, the joy of my life.  I didn't even realize how much I loved having him around until he was gone.  John and I both knew we enjoyed his company, and even grew to really like having him live here with us, as long as he was happy about it.  He really helped out with all the "heavy lifting", not to mention computer and printer problems.  He was always in a good mood and helped balance the chaos that Tracy sometimes causes.  She's sooooo emotional and when not in a good place in her life, shares all of it with us, unfortunately.  But she can be a delight too, and is a good person, so I'm thankful for that, and the fact that she has a job she likes in an excellent hospital in our area is a plus.

JoAnn, it's okay if you are down and share it with me.  I do the same to you and I'm so thankful to have you as a friend.  This site makes me think of others, instead of just my own misery.

Love and sending peaceful wishes your way,

Janet       

At 3:04pm on August 29, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - Glad to hear that your mother has made so much improvement.  Wow...her infection seems to have become a life-changing event, at least for awhile.  Your youngest sister's home sounds so ideal, but, isn't that always the way?  The most obvious solution can't be used.  We're still trying to figure out the best solution for my mother.  If we don't sell her house, she will not be able to stay in assisted living much longer.  They do not accept Medicaid and it's very expensive.  If we wanted to apply for Medicaid, she would have to live in a nursing home because that's all that Medicaid pays for, in spite of the fact that it's twice as expensive as assisted living.  Plus I cannot stand the thought of my mother in a nursing home.  She can't live with us, or our daughter because, in addition to all the physical care she now requires, she resists help most of the time and can be very verbally abusive.  (not altogether new).

I really wonder why I was born.  The greatest joy of my life has been taken away.  He made it all bearable, and even funny at times.         

At 8:43am on August 26, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - How is your mother doing?  Isn't it scary when you see a parent looking their age for the first time?  I know because, until my father had the stroke, people couldn't believe he was 96. He had a curious mind and did everything he could for himself.  My mother was the same (minus the curious mind), but now seems her age (91) because of dementia.  I'm really praying that your mother makes a quick turnaround for the better.  Todd was in a medically induced coma to "rest and get better".  I completely and totally believed he would.  It never even crossed my mind that he wouldn't get better - after all he was a healthy young man before this pneumonia and other infection took hold of him.  He tested negative to every test they gave him, but his organs began failing anyway, and he continued to decline, even on broad-spectrum antibiotics.  Even at that point, I still believed he was going to get well.  His friends were with him at the hospital most of the time, and some of them cried.  Not me.  I must have been in la la land because I still believed with all my heart that he would get well.  Denial.  Total and complete denial.

Your youngest sister reminds me of several people I know.  So difficult to deal with them.

Oh yes, isn't life just grand?????

Love - Janet   

At 7:45am on August 23, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - Yes, I do feel the same way...when the realization hits me that Todd isn't coming back, I get that sharp pain in my heart and sob so deeply, hoping I'll die.  He was the one person who I could just talk with and be understood immediately, because we were always "on the same plane". That's what I think no one understands.  He was more than a son, he was my best friend, although I've learned that a lot of people considered him to be their best friend.  He had those qualities of listening and commenting without judgement.  I think he might have developed these qualities because childhood was difficult for him, being slightly autistic, but so high functioning that no one diagnosed it until he was 28.  He had respect for every living thing, always.  

A week ago Sunday, I was trying to clear away some clutter and decided to put some music on, like I used to when I was happy.  The song, "Me and Bobby McGee" came on, a song I LOVE, and the music took me to the happy place it used to.  I was about to get up and start dancing like I used to (no one was home), when I remembered that Todd had bought me a complete set of Fischer components that was on sale when he was 16 and working at Lechmere, a store we no longer have around here.  He had a job selling computers (what else?) and we were so proud of him.  He came home and told me about the music system on sale, but at the time, I didn't have $400 to spend on music.  His co-workers told him that if I loved music that much, it was a shame I didn't have a way of listening to it at home.  He decided to buy it for me!!!  I was so excited with the big speakers, CD player, 2 tape decks and turntable (it was the 80's).  After that, I would play my music loud (when my husband was out) while I was doing housework.  Todd never complained about the loud music....he actually seemed to get a kick out of me enjoying it so much.  When I had that memory, I fell on the floor and sobbed so hard I thought I'd die from the pain.  I cried out to him, "Todd, please come back.  I miss you so much."  My dog came out to the living room instead, which kind of made me smile, because she's not cuddly except when she's "in the mood" to be cuddled.  She's a very independent Siberian Husky and when inside, chooses to sleep in my husband's closet (door is always open).  She has made this her den.  Anyway, you are the first person I've told about this experience because I was traumatized, like I am every time I realize that Todd isn't coming back.  I know you feel the same way about Tyler. 

I too should call my local hospice group because they called after my father's passing last February about a support group.  I told her that my father's death was easier to accept because he was 96 and, after having a very bad stroke, he told me he was tired and didn't really want to live being paralyzed on his right side.  Until the stroke, which happened 4 weeks before he passed, he had been very independent, doing most things for himself, or hiring people to mow the lawn or fix things that involved climbing ladders.  The woman told me that some people in the group have lost children.  I never called because we were, and still are, so busy trying to settle the estate, because of the fact that my mother has dementia at age 91.

Hope your day is going as well as can be expected.

Love,

Janet

At 3:22am on August 15, 2012, Yaz Rooney said…

Hello JoAnn! Thanks for inviting me to be your friend. It will be good to share our journey and growth. You have a beautiful son.

At 1:32pm on August 10, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - More and more I seem to have those moments like you did when you drove a different way home from work and remembered something you and Tyler did together on that street.  One of those moments for me was when I passed "The Three Amigos", a Mexican restaurant here in town that was new at the time.  Todd was so excited about it, because they cooked "REAL MEXICAN FOOD", not the stuff that passes for Mexican food at most places.  We just had to go there so I could taste the food, so we made plans and he took me to lunch one day.  It was good, even though the place was tiny - the type of place I would usually order take-out.  But he was so enthused, as he always was about something new that was good.  I sat in the parking lot and just cried and cried, knowing I'll never hear his excited, enthusiastic voice telling me about new things anymore.  JoAnn, sometimes I don't think I can stand the pain much longer.  I miss him so much, we were so much alike and had so much fun together.  My husband is so different, a very good man who puts up with a lot from me and makes me laugh too, but even he sees the difference.  He said one time, good naturedly, "I saw the you and Todd would roll your eyes and look at each other when I either didn't agree or didn't understand what you two were talking about.  He didn't mind at all, just observed how funny it was that we thought he didn't know.  Our daughter is more like my husband in so many ways.  I miss my "partner in crime" :), the good-natured guy I could hang out with and never expected anything from me.  :( I miss my son, my friend, my everything.  People say, "You have a daughter and a husband", but it's not the same.  My husband understands but can't do anything about it.

I'll keep thinking of Tyler and Todd on MARS.  It really does make me feel better to think of those two traveling in space together. 

Love,

Janet

At 6:43am on August 6, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn,

Did you see that the Mars Rover landed safely last night?  It was joyous to watch how happy the people at Nasa were, jumping up and down and hugging each other...so many things could have gone wrong but they didn't!  In all of my pain it gave me some happiness to think that Todd and Tyler's names were up there together and hopefully, in some way, they are experiencing the joy of space travel they have both wanted from an early age.

Just yesterday I received a note on Facebook from an old friend of Todd's that I hadn't heard from before who told me how much he misses Todd, and that Todd was the nicest one in the group, never having a bad thing to say about anyone.  It was good to hear and, at the same time, heartbreaking.

How are you doing?  I still cry every day, especially when I remember conversations we had and Todd's never-ending sense of humor and excitement over new things, even little things.

Love,

Janet

H

At 8:42am on July 18, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn,

This is Part 2.  Part 1 was cut off in the middle of a sentence, so read Part 1 below first. 

      but the sisters never turned out to be like his friends, science fiction buffs and RPG i.e. Dungeons and Dragons and many others over the years.  "Proud Geeks" they called themselves, gaming at MIT and each others homes.  They used to game here all during the 90's and early 2000's.  When they started having children, it was easier for them to host a gaming night.  They also went to Canobie Lake every summer, King Richard's Faire in the fall and other places too. 

  The Mars Rover (it's the Curiosity) is due to land on August 5th I believe.  It's comforting to think of Tyler and Todd going there together.  It was a life-long wish of Todd's to travel in space.  When I think of all the advances that have been made in technology since Todd passed, I cry because he was twittering and talking to us about these things way back in 2008 and '09.  He would have had an IPad by now, and a Smart phone, and he'd be able to answer any questions I would have and teach me how to do things that I couldn't figure out.

  In your last message to me, a few words or sentences were cut off too.  Guess the 5000 character limit comes up faster than it is shown.

At 8:32am on July 18, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn,

Your birthday sounds like a very nice one!  I'm the only "surviving" child of my parents; so my birthdays are quiet, especially since we lost Todd.  My brother died in 1970.  He was 6 yrs younger than me and was having a hard time dealing with life, my mother, his feelings.  After having a big argument with my mother one night, he went to the garage he was renting to work on an old car he had bought.  He already had a car in our driveway so my mother couldn't understand why he bought a 2nd car.  It was a windy night and neighbors said they heard the garage door opening and slamming shut during the night.  Of course he had the engine running.  He died of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Sadly, I've often wondered if he did it on purpose.  He was almost 19 and in his first year of college.  From what I've heard, my mother wouldn't let him go away to college, so he commuted to one closer to home.  She's that controlling.  Many years before this happened my parents had a baby who died at 4 days old because my mother has RH negative blood and they didn't know this until she had the baby.  The doctor was married to my father's brother's wife, so my parents didn't want to cause trouble, knowing he should have taken a sample of my mother's blood, but didn't.

I know people like your sister, the one who took a vacation when all of you had an appointment with the lawyer and "forgot" to tell you.  Hope you've been able to get her to the attorney's office by now.  Last night an old friend called. She was telling me how difficult it was to manage her father's affairs during the last years of his life and take care of him too.  He died last year at the age of 96, like my father.  I only had to help out my father during the last 6 weeks of his life.  I really miss him, but know he's happier now.  It would have been so much easier if my mother had passed before my father, because he was so easy to get along with & knew his limitations.  His mind was very clear and I think he would have enjoyed living in an assisted living facility where they had lots of activities and chances to socialize.  My mother lives in a world of her own and only wants to "go home".  The doctor told me she's very intelligent for someone with memory loss...she scored 24 on a test where 30 was a perfect score.  Most of the residents score between 14-17.

  During the first few months after we lost Todd my husband would ask me "what's the matter" whenever he found me crying.  I was speechless!  I'd scream, "We lost our son"!  How can you ask me "what's the matter"?   After awhile he stopped asking.  Now, when we're talking about Todd and how much fun it was to have him around and how kind and smart he was, I'll start crying but my husband knows why.  He'll sigh and say quietly, "Oh God" and sigh again and I know he's suffering too. 

Since the 4th of July, when I found the folding "Office2Go" chair Todd never had a chance to use and also a sweet present he had bought for his sister, after days of crying, I've been in a less feeling mood.  This followed several days of the worst pain I've ever felt and the deepest depression - this after 3 years and 1 1/4 months.  I've felt this way before.  It's like I go numb for awhile, then the horrible pain comes back, especially when I remember conversations we had and I can almost his voice.  One of his friends wrote on FB that he wakes up every night at 2:37am feeling very sad and thinking about all the good times they had.  He said when he watches a funny movie, he can almost 'hear' Todd laughing.  That happens to me too.  This friend is the only other single guy in their crowd.  Todd's friend Eric told me that Eddie wants what they all found...wonderful girls they married and had children with.  Todd never seemed unhappy with his life, as long as all of his friends were still getting together for good times.   He did express interest in his friends' sisters, but the sisters never

At 8:15am on July 10, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn, 

I replied to your email on July 4th but when I hit the "Send" button, nothing happened!  It was such an emotional message and when it didn't go through, I tried to save it, but hit the wrong key and lost it instead.  To say I was upset is an understatement.  Our daughter was going to a barbeque that day and my husband was in the garage looking for a large green folding chair (the kind you carry over your shoulder) that he had bought for her.  I decided to help and, in the back of the garage, I found a chair fitting that description.  As soon as I brought it out and opened it up I realized it was something Todd must have bought and never had a chance to use.  It was called an "Office 2Go" chair and had a table for a laptop, and all kinds of neat accessories.  It was the most sturdy, well-made chair like that that I've ever seen!  That's our Todd.  He always bought quality.  I just cried and cried seeing how new looking it was.  He had bought other types of folding chairs in a bag in the past when they first came out.  I remember him telling me excitedly how, no matter how many of his friends were getting together, he'd now always have a place to sit that wasn't on the floor.  Little things made him happy.  What a gift.  His older co-worker Denis told everyone how Todd had taught him to appreciate the little things in life, like the fresh bread Denis would bring to the office occasionally, which Todd loved and would bring home to share with us.  In addition to finding the chair in the garage, I found a thoughtful gift Todd bought for his sister years ago, a wall plaque with a kitten holding onto a rope and thinking, "Lord, help me hang in there".  He had also included a religious wallet card.  Although not religious himself, he knew it was something Tracy would treasure.  When I saw the young handwriting on the back, it made me cry, thinking how thoughtful he was.  When I say he wasn't religious, I mean he didn't go to church but he was more spiritual and kind than many people who go to church every day (I'm thinking of a certain relative here).

I feel so bad that your support group has to end, due to budget cuts.  That's just terrible.  Could you meet in each others homes or are there too many people to do that?  There's a support group I could go to, run by the hospice people at the hospital where my father was when he passed away last February, but I haven't had a chance to call because of all the legal things I have to take care of for my mother.  My mother has always been paranoid, but now it's worse.  She said to me the other day, "Now I see what you're doing.  You want to get rid of me and get my house for yourself and your daughter and her friends".  I was shocked at how coherent she was that day (Saturday) and more shocked that she didn't seem to remember the relationship she had with Tracy, her only grandchild since we lost Todd.  So, even though I thought I was already her POA, an RN at the assisted-living residence where my mother is being cared for in the Life Guidance (memory impaired) unit, inferred that my mother is capable because she could make a decision on what she wanted for dinner, chicken vs. roast beef!  I've been told in the past that my mother can never live alone, and can't be left alone for even a short amount of time!  So now we're waiting for a doctor's note to be faxed to my mother's attorney, to state what I thought was already established!  The assisted-living residence is very charming and welcoming, more like a home than an institution of any kind, and my mother has established relationships there with the staff.  She seems happy but wants to go home, where she'd have nothing to do because of crippling arthritis.  She thinks, in her mind, that she'd take care of the house and have someone live with her.  She's so critical and insulting to me that I could never care for her.  I don't know how my father lived to be 96.  He often expressed how difficult it was living

At 3:45pm on June 2, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - It looks like the last few sentences of my last email to you were cut off.  I was saying that, for John and me, hearing Eric talk is the closest thing to hearing Todd talk because of their 20-year friendship.  They use the same words and phrases to describe things, and have many of the the same mannerisms.  Eric's mother said that Todd was like a member of her family.  She's not too happy about Eric moving to Wisconsin (read below), especially since his younger brother moved to Maryland years ago for a job that his wife told him he must accept.  He married quite young, and followed her wishes.  I want to call and tell Eric's mother that at least her sons are ALIVE!  I'd give anything to have Todd back, even if he wanted to live clear across the country!  I want to hear his voice and SEE HIM, not just pictures of him.

I hope everything works out for your mother.

Today is June 2, the day 3 years ago that Todd went into the hospital to "rest and get better".  I can still see him standing beside the paramedics saying he didn't need to go to the hospital, and that he wanted to go to work, because he loved the job and didn't want to lose it.  We all promised him he'd be back by the end of the week, even though we actually thought it would be several weeks.  I never imagined in a million years that he'd never return to that job or us.

You're right....this will never end.

Love,

Janet

At 3:18pm on June 2, 2012, Janet - Todd's Mom said…

Hi JoAnn - My life has been so too busy lately, but all of these other things don't stop me from thinking of Todd and crying every day with the devastating pain of losing him. 

Your mother has to put up with an awful lot, especially for someone her age.  And it must be really difficult that your mother, you, and your sisters live an hour or more apart.  John & I looked at another assisted living residence to see if they had more activities and/or cost less, so my mother could afford to stay longer.  It turned out to be about 50 minutes away (highway), compared to 15-20 minutes (depending on traffic through local streets) where she is now.  It looked good but they price everything separately, so I have to add up all the figures to see.  My parents' savings are going down because of the high cost of assisted living.  Even if my mother had no house or savings, she wouldn't qualify for Medicaid paying for a nursing home (Medicaid doesn't pay for assisted living, which costs about 1/2 of what nursing homes cost).  She wouldn't qualify until we paid back all of the money my parents gave to Tracy and Todd in the last 5 years, because Medicaid regards it as "gifting" to shelter their money!  In actuality, Tracy wasn't working when Todd passed, and she was too devastated to go job hunting for the following two years.  She was totally depressed, staying in her apartment much of the time, so my parents paid her rent.  John and I helped out in other ways.  Now she is working in an excellent Boston hospital, but the pay is very low.  That's why we moved her into my parents' house.  My parents had continued to pay her rent because she had only started working about 10 months ago, and because the pay was so low.  It doesn't seem right that if grandparents give money to their grandchildren because they love them, it has to be paid back before they qualify for Medicaid. Over the past 5 years, this could be many thousands of dollars. Another chore...finding the exact $ amount.

I hate the thought of my mother in a nursing home anyway, but with her memory problems, terrible pain when walking (arthritis and she won't let the doctor look at her), and being so critical of me all of my life, people tell me I'd literally go crazy trying to take care of her myself in her home.  Plus, I'm getting no support from family for this idea.  My daughter has said she just couldn't do it, because my mother has been critical of her too, plus hard to get along with. My mother also suffers from some paranoia because she's hard of hearing and can't hear what we're talking about unless we look specifically at her and speak very clearly. 

Add to this the fact that Todd's best friend for 20 years, Eric, and his wife and children, are moving back to the Madison, Wisconsin area, her home town.  She had always wanted to go back because she has so many brothers, sisters, cousins and her parents out there.  Todd told me that Eric used to tell her, "not without my buddy Todd".  Apparently that had been agreed upon before they got married.  Eric's wife would tell Todd about the low cost of housing there, saying they could buy a 2-family house and Todd could rent their apartment for $100/month, but Todd, having been out there to be best man at their wedding, had no desire to go back.  He told me that once you leave the University of Wisconsin, there's nothing there at all!  And I'm sad that Eric has to leave a good job that he loves and try to find the same kind of work out there.  Eric had come from rural PA when he was about 16, but after meeting Todd and friends, he had grown to love the Boston area and everything it offers.  Now when I look at him when he doesn't know I'm looking, he looks sad.  They want us to come out and visit "as often as we want and stay for as long as we want", because they think of us as family and the boys regard us as another set of grandparents.  For us, hearing Eric talk is the closest thing to hearing Todd talk be

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