Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Remembering Mom

On Saturday morning after breakfast at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Lisa and I went over to the nursing home, where we collected Kelli, who signed herself out of the facility for the day. The nurses gave us her medications, which we labeled for when we were to dispense them to her, and issued us three additional oxygen containers besides the one she was using at the time. We packed everything into the minivan and set off, with a brief initial stop at Walgreen's to pick up some items she wanted both for this trip and in general.

I made our travel time estimate by taking the Google Maps estimated door-to-door travel time and doubling it. That worked out just about right for accommodating rest stops, which are necessary on trips like this both for me and for Kelli. Around 1 PM we pulled in to the Ponderosa Community Center in Brownsville.

Shrine to Mom

Mom's friends, especially Catherine Brauderick, who has been a wonderful help in settling my mother's affairs and who arranged everything at the Community Center, built this memorial shrine at the front of the hall. Music that my mother liked was playing. Many of her friends — not all of whom I knew, or if I did, I hadn't seen since I was a child — where there. Also, my uncle Billy Joe Reynolds (my mother's father's youngest brother) and his wife, my aunt Mary, were able to attend. Unfortunately, while we did get the word out to people in the family, it wasn't quite enough notice, even for those who would have liked to have attended, but many of them did send their regards. My mother had many friends in the Reynolds clan. I was happy to visit with my aunt and uncle.

Remembering Della Reynolds Tranquilli

Kelli (in the black checked shirt, and I'm sorry that I caught her at a bad angle) visited with her friends from the "Sand Castle" (a group of women including Mom who would go to the California coast and rent a house there for a week every year — some of them still do, I think) who were there and did much of the work to make this happen. The "Sand Castle" women were like my friends in SF fandom: the family you choose. Catherine cooked up a big pile of tri-tip (delicious!) and other people brought dishes. There was plenty to eat and drink, and we ended up encouraging people to take as much of the leftovers as they could. It's not like we could take it home ourselves!

Remembering Della Reynolds Tranquilli

After the meal, everyone was encouraged to share memories of my mother. One of them said that mom had the "gift of gab," which I must have inherited, because I ended up talking quite a bit. I told the story of how I brought the Hugo Award trophy that I got to keep after the 2002 Worldcon to show to my mother, who is the person who put me on to reading SF when I was living with her briefly. (My parents divorced when I was five years old, and I didn't live with her very much of my life.) Mom said, "My little boy has a Hugo Award!" I had to clarify that having a display copy of the trophy and having won the Award were not the same things. There were other people in the room (besides Lisa) who understood the significance of the Award.

After several hours, and after everyone had their say of remembering Mom, the event broke up. They gave me the fold-up photo stand of Mom's memorial shrine. We packed up what we could (a plate of leftovers for Kelli to have later) and headed back for Sacramento, albeit relatively slowly with more rest stops. Kelli was happy to be out on the biggest excursion from the nursing home in five years, but it's quite wearing on all of us. Lisa was also a great help, even though she could only help one handed as she is nursing a sprained wrist from a fall she took a few days ago. Lisa was worried that she was a burden, but I assured her that she was very helpful, especially in situations where Kelli needed help using a multi-user restroom.

I'll have more to say later about one side trip we took to Challenge to have a look at my grandparents' house. It's not pretty.

Just before 8 PM we got back to Sacramento Post-Acute and Kelli checked herself back in. We returned the empty oxygen bottles (we'd only started the final bottle about 20 minutes before getting back; in fact, needing to change that bottle was why we made the final stop) put her leftovers (which we'd been keeping in our electric ice chest) in the home's refrigerator, sorted out her stuff from ours, helped her get settled back into her room, explained when I would next be able to visit, gave her a big hug, and went back to the hotel.

This is one of those cases where I was very grateful that the hotel is not only close to the nursing home, but also has several fast-food restaurants within walking distance. Lisa and I got some take-out from Panda Express and collapsed back into the hotel room. It was a good day and a fitting remembrance event for my mother, but even good stress is still stress, and we had no difficulty getting to sleep last night.
Tags: family, kelli, lisa, mom

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