Category Archives: Salinas

Esther R. Schiveley, 10/12/17-10/14/07

Me and my grandma

Grandma and I, Mother’s Day 2006.

Editor’s note. The following is the obituary I wrote for my grandma, who died Sunday, October 14, 2007, two days after her 90th birthday.

Esther Schiveley

Esther Rodriguez Schiveley passed away Sunday, October 14, 2007 at Windsor Gardens Rehabilitation Center of Salinas. She was surrounded by more than 50 family members and friends. Moments after minister Tom Salas read the 46th Psalm, she drew her last breath and went home to be with the Lord. She celebrated her 90th birthday just two days earlier. Continue reading

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Update: Grandma’s doing a little better

My grandmother feels better about being in a nursing home, my mom reports. I’m not quite sure why, but she has been feeling anxious and scared. My grandmother explained to my wife and I that she worries something may happen to her and that the staff won’t respond in time. For the past month, she has been feeling as she can’t breathe. She also lost her voice at the same time.

The doctor’s say it’s all in her head, but I wonder. They haven’t ordered any tests. Here’s a little dark secret about the elderly: doctor’s will let a lot go because some things aren’t the trouble, they say. My grandmother has heel spurs, ganglion cysts and a host of other maladies that the doctors aren’t going to treat because “she’s too old,” or because “she wouldn’t survive/recover.”

My mom took her for a spin in a wheelchair for eight blocks or so. I think it did wonders for her mind. Grandma needs to believe she isn’t condemned to a bed to die. I hope this convinces her.

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They’ll come for you, too

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Editor’s note: the following post is taken from a journal entry from Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007. I previously typed 2005, so the events described happened two days ago, not two years ago.

Tomorrow morning at 10, my family will gather to pray. They will [then] go to my grandmother’s apartment to tell her that they have decided to move her in a nursing home that they have already selected and reserved for her. It’s a formality. A painful formality but a formality. It isn’t a suggestion or a request. It is more along the line of “We regret to inform you,” only without the shield of anonymity. The receiver of the message in this case is indeed known to the messengers.

She won’t last long in the nursing home. My mother said my grandmother’s blood pressure dropped to 83 over 30 earlier today, although her vitals have been very good up to this point. My mom is heartbroken. She does not want to put my grandmother in a home, but she is also physically unable to care for my grandmother at her apartment or to relocate my grandmother to my mother’s home. She can’t lift my grandmother, at least not several times per day. Collectively, the family is tired. My grandmother now requires around-the-clock care for activities she proudly performed herself less than a year ago, in that faraway land before the stroke induced falls trapped her in her body and confined her to her bed and sofa.

When did life get so hard? Continue reading

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Vacation, all I ever wanted

Editor’s note: the following is a partially completed travel sketch written during our vacation in Monterey County in July. I was going to delete it from my drafts, since I never finished it, and I can’t or don’t have time to recall what I did a month later. But I figure it’s just enough material to stand on its own. Enjoy.

The missus and are on location in Monterey County for a week of catching up with family and friends.

We had a perfectly lethargic vacation day Monday. We camped out in my parents’ family room and gleefully perused the cable television offerings. “Ninja Warrior” and “Deadliest Catch” won handily over the abysmal local news offerings. We had our fill by 1 o’clock in the morning, and to my wife’s annoyance, I was snoring by 1:05, as I am every night.

Monday, July 2

10 a.m.

Come on, (pet name), it’s time to get up. Wakey, wakey.”

“Must you? Go talk to my mother, go get some cereal, go outside and read. Just go.”

“Come on, it’s a beautiful day outside and I don’t want to miss it. Why don’t we go have bagels and then go to the beach?”

Bagels. Fighting dirty and tempting the old man while on vacation. Isn’t there an ordinance against that somewhere?

“All right already. Let’s go.”

12: 50 p.m.

Nearly three hours later, we found ourselves a cozy outdoor table at the Bagel Cafe on the northwest side of town. Owned by a local Mexican family, they are as well known for their potato, egg and bacon burritos as they are for their dizzying array of bagels, spreads and espresso drinks.

12:58 p.m.

“Would you stop kicking me?”

“I’m not kicking you.”

“Oh, wait, that’s an earthquake.”

A magnitude 4.3 earthquake centered 1 mile southeast of Aromas gave the region a good jolt but caused little damage. The Bagel Cafe customers looked up, chuckled at each other and kept on eating.

1:30 p.m.

Fighting the commercial forces of The Man, the missus and I stopped by a local thrift store to buy a makeshift beach blanket.

2 p.m.

We descend on Carmel for an afternoon of reading and napping at the beach, gawking at the local boutiques and galleries and searching for ice cream.

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Always good, always too short: At home with the family

Saturday found the Mrs. and I back in Monterey County visiting my grandmother, my former pastor and his wife, whom we love like family, and my family. Everyone looked a little older, a little more bald, with a few more wrinkles. Including me. But visiting family is such a rare treat for me now that I live two hours or more from them.

These pictures were taken during our recent visit. I didn’t take any of my grandmother this time. I simply forgot. It might be for the best. It’s difficult to see her in a walker and significantly weaker than I remember. She suffered a stroke in November and she hasn’t been the same since. She struggles opening containers, walking and is consistently losing weight. It took a lot of effort to hold myself together as I said good bye this afternoon.

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