Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seeing Celine, My Cousin (by marriage)

Well, folks, it really happened, thanks to Ed's son, Steve....... we went to see Celine Dion last night and were invited backstage BEFORE the show to meet and greet with her. (When we saw her here in 1999, we went after the show.)

We're getting ready to move to Ft. Myers on the west coast of Florida tomorrow morning so I'll write more later. But, I thought I'd share a photo or two:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big Outing for Angelils

We're having a big family outing on Friday. Do you know the name of Celine Dion's husband? It's Rene Angelil, Ed's first cousin! When Ed was growing up in Montreal, they always had Thanksgiving and Christmas together but had lost touch over time.

Ed's son Steve was researching online some years ago and confirmed that there are very few Angelils in the world. He got in touch with Rene's son, who gave him an 800 number to call. So we got to see Celine and meet her when she was here in 1999. We were invited to go backstage after the concert where Ed and George talked with Rene. Then we got to meet Celine.

Steve kept the number and worked his magic again. There are 9 of us going tomorrow evening -- Ed, Mary,George, Kay, Steve, Lorraine, and Sean Angelil, along with Ed's sister and brother-in-law, Lorraine and Ray Barkett.

At that time I wasn't an Angelil, so was sweet and took the pictures. This time I want to be in the pictures!

Things vs Feelings & S.O.S

"Why do women talk so much? How can they shop with a girlfriend all day, then talk to her for 2 hours on the phone that night? What do they talk about?" were the questions posed by Ed and Russ at the beginning of our lunch yesterday. By the end of the meal, it appeared that Russ and Ed talked just as much as Julie and I did. The difference was they were talking about "things" like HD televisions, cell phones, and towing systems on cars, while Jule and I discussed important issues like "feelings" about life and people in our lives.

Russ and Julie Manhold are two of a kind and I knew them "way-back-when" they weren't a couple. Watching their romance evolve on our various dive trips was a "kick-in-the-pants" for us all. They both have such a zest for life AND they are so organized without seeming stuffy.

We agree that if we lived closer, we'd probably be a foursome. We had a fantastic buffet lunch at The Ark (great restaurant) on Stirling Road. This turned out to be a 3 hour visit and we didn't nearly finish our conversations. What a delight to reconnect with cherished "old" friends.

I say that Russ and Julie saved the Undersea Adventurers Dive Club from dying out and fading away by taking on the Social Director's job a couple of years ago. Their events are impeccably planned, creative, and every event is one of those...."A good time was had by all" kind.

They also use their skills, energy, and dedication with skydiving events, as seen below. By the way, Russ was one of the skydivers in this event.

Some would ask, "Is there life after 60?"
"Our group of Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) have proved skydiving is a sport for young and old alike," states Russ Manhold. The public didn't hear a lot about this event because it was the same time that the plane went down in the Hudson River in New York City.

Russ and Julie spent a year organizing the 2009 SOS world record series event at Skydive Deland, Florida, January 15-18th. This involved organizing skydivers from all over the world, pilots, videographers, and many more people. They also arranged a hotel and a banquet.

You can read all about it here:
Skydivers Over Sixty

For great video clips, give yourself a break and watch these old geezers go! Click here: Skydivers Over Sixty Seek World Record & Skydivers Over Sixty Smash World Record & Fly Like an Eagle... Indoors

This was our Undersea Adventurers Dive Club's "Ultimate Dive" in 1990. Alan and I were both crazy enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane and we lived to tell about it! It was a rush, that's for sure. My heart still pounds when I watch the video of my jump.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No Kids for Me

I'm one of those people who had no kids "by choice." My college roommates used to say there was something wrong with me and ask, "Where are your motherhood instincts?" I figure I had 30 kids a year for 32 years and that's more than enough for anyone!

This little joke might also give some incite into my reasons.......whenever a doctor asks what I'm allergic to, I always tell them, "PAIN."

Anyway, here's the joke: "My sister was in labor for thirty-six hours. Ow! She got wheeled out of delivery, looked at me, and said, 'Adopt!'"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Geeks' Workshop

Chris and Jim Guld, also known as Geeks on Tour, are friends from my scuba club who have been full-time RVers for over 4 years. They stay here at the Paradise Island RV Resort in Ft. Lauderdale for the winter......Jim works in the office in trade for a free RV site; and Chris's mom lives nearby.

We've broken bread with them several times and between talk about RVing and computers, there's never a dull moment, especially with two people who have such a sense of adventure. Our best meal with them was the grilled lobster dinner at their RV. Chris also invited her mother, Marilyn VanValkenberg, another one of my dive buddies.
They, like Ed and I, have that sparkle in their romance and it shows. Chris had never married and never planned on it but she took the big plunge when she was in her 40's, about 10 years ago and it's obvious that things are working out well.

They gave a computer workshop here at the clubhouse yesterday and I was duly impressed. They make it interesting, organized, and just plain fun.

There are also lots of tutorial videos online - many are free. Chris is blessed with a deep, pleasant voice, has the ability to speak in complete sentences, and takes things step by step, which make her tutorials easy to follow. Since there's not always a consistent internet connection when you're in an RV, I bought some and my goal is to watch them all and learn everything on them!

Some of Their Computer Tutorial Videos: Blogger Essential Skills Safe Computing Picasa Free Videos and many more.

They have several blogs and websites that are interesting to follow:

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Mary Upstairs"

I met Martha Casselberry when I started working at the Clothing Bank at church. She is a dynamo, very bright, very industrious and always speaks her mind. She and her hubby, Hibbard, moved into my condo during the time that Alan was getting very mixed up. We also went to a weekly Bible Study with the Casselberry's. They and the other members of the group were my family as I faced various decisions regarding Alan.

Hib and Martha have five children, one named Mary. So, when I'd call down for Martha, he'd say, "It's Mary Upstairs."........and that's how I got my name. He had a daughter from a first marriage named Mary Elizabeth but he had lost touch with her. Since my name is Mary Elizabeth and my father passed away in 1985, Hib and I adopted each other.

We shared many good and bad times with Martha and Hib and I really felt like part of their family. At first, when I started seeing Ed, Martha was clear that she didn't approve. However, as they got to know Ed and saw how good he was for me, she changed her mind.

Ed and I went to "my" church, Christ Church United Methodist, which was right across the street from our condo, on Christmas eve and the last 3 weeks. One Sunday, they had us to lunch at their retirement center, John Knox Village.....such an elegant place. Yesterday, we invited Martha and Hib to dine at our favorite restaurant, Sea Watch, which is right on the ocean. It was refreshing to discover that it is just the same as ever, with superb food and awesome ambiance.

The Art Teacher

My friend, the art teacher, is Anita Orlando and her name comes up often when people ask how Ed and I met. I knew Ed from church and decided to fix him up with the art teacher at my school. She called one evening in tears because a friend had died and asked me to call Ed to cancel their coffee date and ask him to call back in about a month. When I called, we talked for a while and he said, "I'd like to take you to dinner sometime." I stammered that I couldn't, I was married. Then said that it would be nice to just have a male friend so it might be OK.

Ed and I both worked with the Clothing Bank at church on Wednesdays and that week we went for coffee after our work. Little did I know that that 20 minutes would change my life. He didn't know about my husband having Alzheimer's and being in a home. But he reacted very tenderly reaching across the table to pat my hand when I got a bit teary.

He invited me for a hamburger at his house after church on Sunday. I was boldly asking all sorts of personal questions - gathering information for the art teacher. Then we saw a movie together and started to realize there was a possible spark between us. The first several times we saw each other, we talked about the art teacher. After that, we talked about how we were going to tell the art teacher.

The next summer, Anita had a job downtown and I went to have lunch with her. She took me around the office and introduced me to various people. One gal said, "Oh, you're the one who stole her boyfriend before she even met him!"

Anyway, Anita said that it was "kismet" (destiny). She did meet Ed and they like each other but felt no chemistry. Ed and I still joke because he only likes tall blonds and I would NEVER be interested in a bald guy with glasses!

Back to the blog post.....Ed dropped me off on Las Olas Blvd. where Anita and I had lunch. As always, she's got all sorts of projects going from caring for her older sister, (who's been in the hospital for a month) and to going to New York this weekend. She and her IDENTICAL twin sister spent a month in Italy a few years ago.

It was a joy to be with the art teacher and I'm happy to report that she now has a wonderful boyfriend, Donny, who adores her.

Rita and Anita Anita had Rita at a party and it was weird...their voices, accents, and mannerisms are the same, so much so, that I got them mixed up!
Rita and Anita
Anita had Rita at a party and it was weird...their voices, accents, and mannerisms are the same, so much so, that I got them mixed up!

Anita & Rita (I think!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic Day in the U.S.A.

I wish I could come up with some profound thoughts and observations about the Inauguration of Barrack Obama as our President today. Even though I can't find fancy words, I feel that it is all just amazing. I did like the phrase that we fight with "ballots, not bullets". Since I grew up right in the middle of The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960's, this day strikes me as a milestone in our nation's history. Who would have ever dreamed that a black man would be elected President? of the most oft-quoted sentences of his address: "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America." Let us all pray that President Obama will be able to face the challenges before him with wisdom and success.

Barbara Walters is now talking about how the way the First Lady dresses reflects the tone of his Presidency. Roslyn Carter was critized for wearing a dress she had worn before - recycling. Nancy Reagon wore a dress that cost about $35,000 the first term and for the second term balls, her dress cost $65,000. Barbara says Michelle's style is much more obtainable and down to earth. I enjoy all those girly details.

Ed and I watched TV all morning, then went to his sister's house to watch the inauguration. Ed made us a nice salad for lunch and we just enjoyed being together. The temperatures are dropping quickly. It's down to 56 degrees, which is pretty chilly for Florida. For supper, we ate our baby back ribs left over from Flannigan's restaurant on Saturday night. It's nice and cozy here in our little RV nest. All in all, a good and special day.
Ed Angelil and his sister, Lorraine Barkett 1-20-09

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dillard Darlings

When I first started teaching in Ft. Lauderdale, I worked at Dillard Elementary. The staff was very close and still keep in touch from time to time. I cherish the memories of the good times we shared and tough times when we supported each other.

On Saturday, Doris Cotnoir picked me up and we went to lunch with Barbara Solow and Marie DeBellis at a lovely place right on the ocean called Pelican Bay. It was like we just picked up and continued a conversation from yesterday......we all still talk a LOT. Isn't that what teachers are supposed to do? We're all retired and agree that it's THE best thing ever!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ed's treatments continue...

Ed had his chemo treatment with 2 drugs on Monday and got a Neulasta shot on Tuesday which will keep his white blood count from dropping into dangerous levels. He was told that people often get flu-like symptoms, especially backaches from this $7,000.00 shot. He left this week open for "just in case" but we're happy to report that he's doing OK. The only thing he notices is that he feels very lethargic - just wants to lie around and do nothing, not even read or compute.

This evening he feels chilly while I am in short sleeves and comfortable. It's 61 degrees outside but the windows in the RV are closed. He'll probably turn on a little heat at bedtime so it will be comfortable in the morning. Pepper is thankful for the heating pad in the bottom of her bed.

Ed will have another chemo treatment on January 29th and another shot on January 30th. Then we're moving over to the "left" side of Florida near Ft. Myers. A lady who lived in my condo here in Ft. Lauderdale, Jaon Benson, moved over there and stayed about 6 years before her move to Stuart. Her friend's husband has lung cancer so I talked to the friend today. They really like his oncologist and Ed's already got an appointment set up in early February.

We've been warned that February is the peak time for RVers so we'd better have a reservation in an RV resort before we head over that way. Ed got us set up at Raintree RV Resort for the month of February.

Sue - My Dive Buddy

I spent yesterday with my dear friend, Sue Revie. We took many dive trips, starting in the 1980's, with the Undersea Adventurers Dive Club and always had fun. She was my roommate on our trip to Israel in 1996 and I discovered that she's very organized in her touring techniques. You take notes during the tours and look at them in the evening but you also start reading up on where you're going the next day.
Here we are in Jerusalem on our camel ride.
Sue's "thing" is travel and she's been to every continent including some really exotic places such as the South Pole, the North Pole, the Galapos Islands, New Zealand, Namibia, Turkey, North Korea, Spitzbergen, Greenland, Iceland, India, Egypt, Cyrus, Jordan, Malta, Tunsia, China, and Tibet.

It's so ironic that, after traveling to all those dangerous places, she fell in her own kitchen and broke her arm on April 8, 2008. The bone didn't heal, which caused pain, deformity and limited motion, which lead to the necessity of surgery Dec. 11, 2008 to put in a plate. During the process of moving her muscles aside, the nerve to her hand got "bruised" causing her hand and wrist to suffer paralysis.(Radial Nerve Palsy) with a 6 to 12 month time frame for regeneration.

Oh, the things we take for granted, such as cooking. How can you peel vegetables with one hand? Thankfully, Home Health comes in a couple times a week, but that's a drop in the bucket. Oh, to make things tougher, the surgeon wouldn't do the surgery until she quit smoking.

UPDATE as of 1-22-09
Sue saw her doctor this week and there's good news. The bone has healed!! Now she will be going to therapy several times a week for her to regain lost strength and motion and prevent atrophy of wrist. Also, she and her boss practiced giving a shot and taking BP so Sue will be able to work some.....Keeping morale high is a good thing!

Friday, January 9, 2009


First of all, we want to thank all of your for your continuing prayers and concern as Ed has been going through chemo. He had a CAT scan on Wednesday and we were to meet with the doctor today to learn if the comparison with his scans in October showed shrinkage of the tumors.

Yesterday was a nightmare, starting with a call from the radiologists here saying that the CD he'd brought from our hospital in Virginia only had one X-ray on it and that couldn't be compared to the contrast CAT scan taken on Wednesday. Thus, began a day of calls to Virginia, trips to the radiologists' office, and showing them the label that clearly listed every test, scan, etc. he'd ever had in Virginia was on that CD. He was very frustrated but asked that they look at the CD again and try to open it. If it was really blank, the hospital in Virginia would overnight another one. Ed called the doctor and said he might as well cancel his visit for today until we could get the information needed. The nurse checked and said he still wanted to see Ed today.

We got to the doctor this morning and after the usual bloodwork, the PA (Physician's Assistant, a real cutie) came in and interviewed him as to how he's been feeling (He's been feeling fine.), etc.. The report she had said they could not make a comparison because.......... When Ed explained to her what had taken place, she said she'd go check the computers to see if anything more had come through.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dennis came in and he had the same report. Then he lifted the page to find another page of an "Addendum report" which said "Prior exam has become available for comparison...." Well, lo and behold!! We loved the phrasing "has become available" --- meaning what? That they looked at the CD again and magically it appeared??!

Then came the tears - tears of total joy - "Present CT scan clearly shows some improvement in multiple lung masses and nodules" !!!

He will have two more rounds of treatment which will finish on January 30th, which is the day our stay at this resort ends and we will head to the west coast of Florida. We're happy to be with family and friends here but find the congestion and traffic to be overwhelming, so we're looking for something less congested but not too far from a city large enough to have an oncologist or two.

The doctor can't give a prognosis because everyone is different. He has a patient who was also stage 4 lung cancer worse than Ed's and he's still here 4-5 years later, with chemo from time to time. Ed's cancer cannot be cured but chemo should be able to keep shrinking anything that grows.....for however long it can......

God is good and I am thanking Him and all his doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, as well as our friends and family who prayed to help make this happen. I think I'll sleep better tonight than I have in a long time, knowing that God is going to let me keep my "Angel man" around a while longer!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Marilyn - my long-time friend

My, longest long-time friend in Ft. Lauderdale, Marilyn Keating, came over and we went to California Pizza for lunch. We talked for hours with great empathy for each other. Her parents are in their 90's and still around. Her dad's in a nursing home and her mother in assisted living. Marilyn is the child who lives the closest, so most of the visiting and paperwork is on her shoulders and has been for over 6 years.

Ah, but in spite of all our obligations, it was wonderful to be with Marilyn again. She was my next door neighbor when I first got married in 1979 and she's been to Virginia twice (in past years) to visit. Marilyn remembered Alan from her days of teaching at Dillard High School in the 70's because he was the only one who was nice to her......she was the only woman in the social studies department.

She was one of my rocks in dealing with a problematic step-daughter and in coping with Alan when he was diagnosed with Alzheimers. I say I owe her big bucks for all the free counseling throughout the years!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Send a Few Extra, Please

Many people know that Ed was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer last fall. He had some chemo in Virginia and has continued that here in Florida. Tomorrow he is having a CAT scan and we meet with his oncologist on Friday. His scans from October will be compared and we are hoping and praying that his tumors have shrunk. Our next step will be considered and determined at that time. He is feeling fine and has had almost no reaction to his treatments, other than some fatigue. Please send up a few extra prayers on Ed's behalf this week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Your Laugh for Today

Please go to this previous post (link below) and read all about my CPAP machine. You'll realize what lengths I'll go to to keep my man happy. Of course he could pull one of his usual tricks these days like, "I need to get my sleep since I have cancer" or "Could you bring me some lemonade. I have cancer so I can't get up." See? There's no way out of this one, is there? Get ready to laugh when you see the photo! Click here: Mary's Machine

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blog for Frances May

Ta, da! You may now keep up with Mother through HER blog.

1. Please click here:

2. Or you can type it into your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or whatever)

3. If you forget this link, you can go to Google and type in howisfranmay (without spaces), then hit your enter key. The link for her blog should show up.

We've moved.....

We've moved to Paradise Island RV Resort, still in Ft. Lauderdale. It's a few miles north of where we were and a mile west of I95. What a pleasant change! The roads are good, the bathhouses and laundry rooms are nice AND they have trash pick-up every day! Best of all, they do have internet access - not free, not fast - but we feel in touch with the world again.

As with any RV resort in Florida, we are surrounded by French Canadians. Ed thinks he's forgotten his French but when he gets into a situation with someone who doesn't speak English, he can spit out some French after all! You may or may not know that Ed grew up in Montreal and didn't speak a word of English until he entered boarding school at age 8. The nuns in elementary school and the Jesuit priests in high school did a good job teaching him English, don't you agree?