Friday, July 29, 2011

Memories of My Marvelous Friend, Marilyn Keating

     My special friend, Marilyn Keating, died yesterday, on her 71st birthday,  after suffering with cancer for some years.  If you know Marilyn, you already know that she refused to acknowledge this cancer, preferring to fight it with positive thoughts.  She succeeded for several years in that mode but finally agreed to have chemo in the last few years.  Even then, she refused to allow the cancer to rule her life.
     I first got to know Marilyn when I moved to Wilton Manors, Florida in 1979.  She lived next door and recognized Alan Barrows (my first husband) from when she had taught with him at Dillard High School.  She said she was the only female in the history department and Alan was the only one who was friendly to her.  Who would have guessed what adventures Marilyn and I would share!
     Marilyn was extremely intelligent and could do most anything.  She was a teacher, a musician, a mother, a grandmother,  a writer, a chef, a psychologist, fluent in Spanish and always open to new experiences.  I'll never forget the day I knocked on her door asking if her "shingle" was out.  I was so very troubled by issues with my problematic stepdaughter and she listened, let me cry and helped me through those issues and others for years. 

     In the early 1980s, Marilyn's brother-in-law was transferred to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to manage the Penny's store -- what are the chances that out of the whole USA, Jim and Ruth would be sent here?  At that time, Alan and I had bought a summer house near my parents' house in Singers Glen, which is about 8 miles from Harrisonburg.  Marilyn and Phil (her husband) came up to visit twice.

Click on photo for a larger version.
     Marilyn modestly declared she never entertained, but she did.  In 1991 she had Mother and Aunt Mary to lunch when they were in town, along with her sister, Ruth, and me.
     When Alan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 55 and three years later, when it was determined that it was too dangerous for him to stay at home any longer, I met with my Bible study group.  They helped me brainstorm about what I needed to do.  For the next week, I dressed as if going to work each morning but instead went to Marilyn's house.  She drove me around to look at various assisted living facilities and emotionally got me through the week.  When Alan died in 2002, I stayed with Marilyn and she stood by me through the preparations and funeral at sea.  What a friend!
     Oh, yes, we also went through some enjoyable, some funny and some harrowing experiences with her ex-husband, but that would be another book.  Let's just say I'd never called 911 until Marilyn's yard sale.....that was quite a day! 

I felt so honored to be invited when she had Majory Stoneman Douglas (especially known for her book, The Everglades: River of Grass) speak at her class at FAU.  Who else but Marilyn would have pulled off getting someone that famous and that old (she was about 100 at the time) to speak for a class she was taking?  Marilyn picked her up in Miami, took her to the class, conducted a great interview with her and even took her out to dinner.  As predicted by her secretary, Ms. Douglas had an adult beverage, much to Marilyn’s delight.

     Only Marilyn would travel to Budapest for a summer to take a university course.  At one point she had a Russian pen pal who invited her to come to her small town and live with her and her husband for a year.  We were having a Russian couple speak at my church so I arranged for us to meet with them.  They discouraged this trip explaining that the technology wasn’t to the point that she could keep in touch with her computer, the men drank themselves into oblivion daily and the living conditions were dismal.  With the harsh climate, it was likely that Marilyn would get sick and the medical care and hospitals were deplorable.  That was one journey I was glad Marilyn didn’t make.
     Whenever I got sick, who was at my door with soup and other good food?  Nurse Marilyn, who else?  When I met Ed and started seeing him, who reminded me of all the things I should be observing?  My honest friend, Marilyn.   Who offered to edit and type my application for Teacher of the Year?  You know who!    

     Going to lunch with Marilyn entailed more than just lunch...she always turned it into an enjoyable, educational field trip!  We spent wonderful days at the art museum and other historic sites several times and she always came up with unique places to eat.   

     In 2009, we went to the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the art museum in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.  

     How glad I am that I had lunch with Marilyn in February 2011, in spite of a fall that morning and an ankle that turned out to be broken.  There was Marilyn, the one with cancer, driving me and helping me hobble into the restaurant. 

     Marilyn was so proud of her daughter, Leslie, and Leslie’s amazing accomplishments.  She adored her grandchildren and contributed greatly to their lives.  She was a sister who cared deeply for her two brothers, John and David, and her sister, Ruth, and she was a helpful daughter to her parents, especially as they grew older.  I always enjoyed hearing about all of Marilyn’s family. 

      Marilyn’s personality was a unique blend of intellectual curiosity, humor, loyalty and common sense.  She was my faithful friend for over 30 years and I already miss her so much.  

     May you rest in peace, my dear and wonderful friend --- Modest, Marvelous and Magnificent Marilyn!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Final Family Lupper

We met as a family for the grand finale of our Work Week at the ever-popular Golden Corral for Saturday "lupper" (that's lunch and supper combined).  That's a sure bet when feeding various age groups because everyone can get something they like to eat.
Ed, Ellen Krull (29), Paul Krull, Anita Krull (my sister), Philip May (my brother), Maribeth May, Duane Krull, April Krull, and MaryMay Angelil  July 2011
Shelley McDonough, our adopted sister from Texas who greatly enriched Mother's life as her caregiver/sitter in the nursing home the last 2 years, Anita Krull and Ed Angelil
Duane naps on April's lap, Shelley & Ed chat and Ellen contemplates
Ellen, April, and Duane Krull
Anita Krull and Philip May, my younger siblings
Auntie Mary with April & Ellen Krull  (July 2011)
The Krulls:  Ellen, Duane, April, Anita and Paul (July 2011) They live in Dayton, Ohio  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mission Accomplished in a Whirlwind Week

I never would have believed what 4 gals could accomplish in a week.  Maribeth, Shelley, Anita and I had planning sessions every morning, then went gung ho at each goal.  We also hired Cheri, my weeding assistant, to help us pack for 2 of the days.  She saved us MANY stair runs!  

I planned to take photos throughout the process but I was so involved "in the moment" that I forgot. 

We wish we had counted how many boxes and bags we packed but we didn't.  This is a very small sampling of things to load. 

Phil and I agree that Anita needs furniture more than we do so we each took only a few pieces.  
Then Ed got the largest U-Haul truck that they offer -- a 26 footer -- to move things from Mother's house to Dayton, Ohio for her.

Our "adopted sister" Shelley was the one who made this happen.  She directed the guys we had hired (Jonathan, Morgan, Grant, and Sheldon) to help load and she moved lots of things herself.  They were astounded at how strong she is and how she kept right up with them!

Even Faith, the house tenant, helped put this giant jigsaw puzzle together.

About halfway through, it looked like everything wasn't going to fit....but Shelley wasn't about to give up that easily!

Lo and behold, they got all the boxes, bags, and pieces of furniture, including the Christmas tree, on there. 
Guess Anita was the supervisor for the day!  Her work begins at the other end as she sorts and puts things away.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Losing It

Am I losing it?  Yes!!  I reached my goal in Weight Watchers today!  YAY for me!  Guess all that sweating, exercise, and "resistance training" (lifting boxes, etc.) last week added up!  The best part is that now I don't have to pay each week.  

Confession:  I'm a lifetime member and have reached my goal several times during the last 33+ years.  At least I do return before I stray too far.

Weight Watchers really is the proper way to eat and for me, it's all about eating tons of veggies and fruits.  In the meeting today, I learned that carbohydrates stay in our cells (you know...the cells on the hips and tummy, etc.), while protein and fiber burn up. 

My next challenge is the Bowman family reunion this weekend.  I inherited the Bowman sweet tooth and they are SUCH good cooks --- especially of desserts.

p.s.  Work week report is still coming soon....check back, OK?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wiped Out after Work Week

I had planned to post an update but I am too wiped out after our work week.  We accomplished a lot and I will update you soon...after I decompress!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Henfest in the Hen, Farmhouse

I am looking forward to the arrival of Anita (my sister from Ohio), Maribeth (my sister-in-law from Texas) and Shelley (Mom's sitter in TX, our now adopted sister) tomorrow.  We'll be busier than one-armed paper hangers as we clear out Mother's house in preparation for selling it!
This is my main sorting room.

I'm putting all sorts of "pretty things" together for selection and packing.
Anita thought we'd just take an evening to look through the family photos and split them up.  Little did she know there are tons of albums and boxes of photos.  It'll be challenging!  I've brought them to my house to try to get a start on them. 
Every time I think I've got them all, I find another whole box or album in some surprising place!
It's going to be a joy to have someone help make these many decisions.   I have a feeling, knowing the crew coming, that there might be a few laughs along the way.

Ed's was planning to head for the hills but we need him to cook for us!  

Let the hens begin!