Monday, July 07, 2008

Back From Vacation

We just returned from our annual two week vacation to the South Jersey seashore.

We like to stay in Wildwood Crest, Wildwood. Tom's father's family has been going down there since the early 1900s. His father took his own family there every year since 1947. Sometimes they would stay at an aunts cottage on the bay right off Rio Grande or they would go into Wildwood and stay at a boarding house.

Once Tom went into the Army in 1967, he hadn't been back to Wildwood until 1986 when he took our family for our first beach vacation. He was so excited to show us where his family always went and wanted it to be our tradition as well. And it has been. We've been going to Wildwood for 22 years now. Our girls are grown up, our eldest has a family of her own and they all come with us for 2 weeks. We have been staying at the V.I.P. In Wildwood Crest for the last 5 years because it's a smaller motel with two floors and they have a very nice playground on the premisis for the kids. We've gotten to know quite a few of the 'regulars' who stay there at the same time we do and it's like a 'family reunion' every year.

We have two favorite families we look forward to seeing, Vinnie & Leah from Middletown, NJ and Chuck, Bill, J.P. (who we affectionately call the 'Beer Brothers' and their families from Avondale, PA.

This year I also got to know Pat & Kathy. Pat is a nurse. She is also a foster mother for abandoned cats, especially kittens who she nurses until they are about 14 weeks old. She had 6 one week old kittens with her this year. She bottle feeds them every three hours and keeps their carrier cage clean, which means she has to launder their blankets and towels several times a day as they are too young to be litter trained. A mother cat will stimulate her kittens to urinate and defecate by licking beneath it's tail. Pat has to stimulate them with a dampened towel. She is in essence, their mother. She has been foster mothering for several years. She is well known at our motel and has visitors all day long, her door is always open so the kids and adults can visit the kittens. Though I recall seeing Pat last year, I didn't really 'meet' her until this trip.

Kathy is another regular at the V.I.P. who I was introduced to this year too. Kathy has
ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). She was diagnosed three years ago and is now 54, one year younger than I am. She can no longer walk without a walker and has to use a wheelchair often. She was having a problem this year as the walker and wheelchair do not fit in the room's hallway leading to the bathroom/shower. Kathy is married and has one child, a son who just graduated from High School.
One afternoon as I was entering the pool area I heard her call out my name. She was seated in her walker in front of their room on the first floor. I went over to say hello and ask how she was feeling ( the day before her right arm was giving her trouble as she has been having rotary cuff problems in her shoulder). Tears rolled down her cheeks and she removed her sunglasses to wipe her face and I could tell that wasn't the first time that morning that she had cried. I felt so bad for her. It was her husband and son who had been giving her grief. She requires constant supervision so she doesn't fall since the muscles in her legs are so weak and she's unable to lift herself using her arms since the right one is in pain constantly. Her husband took a walk to cool off after having arguing with her about a shower she wanted to take with his help and he didn't want to do it. Her son was at the beach, where he stays most of the day. I just felt so badly for her and offered to help in any way I could. She thanked me and said she'd be fine she was just feeling sorry for herself since they were on vacation and supposed to be 'enjoying' themselves.
Her husband returned a short time later and he did help her inside their room. I never saw her again, as we were on the go quite a bit. One evening I knocked on their door but they were out. Kathy, thinking of you and praying your family gets that counseling you mentioned.
There is no cure for ALS. Once the muscles used for chewing, swallowing and breathing are affected Kathy may require permanent ventilatory support to survive. She doesn't want that. She admitted to me, a stranger, that she's ready to 'go' now.

I took some photos of our vacation and will post them in a new post once I get them downloaded.

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