Mister Peeeyouuu of the Kahhdeezer Foundation

Another reason why I love my "Art With Heart" projects is  Leukemia's thumbprint in our childhood in the 50s/60s.   I am experienced and appreciative of helping and helped.  It is February and in remembering our family February folk, Uncle Joe's story came to mind.

When our Uncle Joe  was diagnosed with Leukemia, still in his twenties, we were not really surprised - in a very hardy large family, Uncle Joe had been the one to fall ill and have accidents easily -  but seemed to have won thru and grown up handsome and happily married and loving Father   We thought he'd outgrown his issues, but now maybe not, because  it was the 1950's and people did not do well with leukemia - they died.   To this day he is the only cancer patient among them.  He was in his early twenties. NOT fair.

All the brothers lived in town and overnight we were no longer just an easy breezy  family but on a mission to fight and win for Uncle Joe.   There was NO GOOGLE - but we raided our encyclopedias and medical books and the local libraries for helpful information, and extra time in church and prayer at home for God's grace in this new and frightening scenario.

One of the uncles was genius at finding the business end of  research data for our education on the topic, and we learned that the disease was "THE  project of the moment in medicine" , so we applied for help.   Soon,   various clinics, practices, hospitals for tests and treatments followed - and sometimes there was some remission - a new word in those days -  only for the thing to come back with greater virulence than our violence at it could overcome.   

And the money!  Entertainment's Danny Thomas was very active with telethons to raise funds for his Saint Jude's Children's hospital for Leukemia .   We children ran all over the place fundraising for him and many of "our-rown" contributed well,  praying to Saint Jude for a cure for Leukemia.   Polio was recently cured, so why not?

We'd find the money.   HMO's were not that great - we had Blue Cross / Blue Shield, but Uncle Joe's coverage lapsed after a time unable to work and pay premiums.   But Medical care still costs money.  The family was large, and good-hearted, so we all contributed any loose cash.   I was approaching ten years old,  and my parents had money but expenses and I remember being old enough to become alarmed for our own security,  when this extra cash outlay went on for some years. 

In addition, they all took turns  giving their time to care for Uncle Joe on site, at home or in hospitals,....and even then it was not enough. I remember the house getting frantic on the topic and there were tears of frustration....and no normal days for normal family life at home. 

The "Negotiators" among the  uncles got busy, looking for funding - a concept we never broached. We have money- we pay.   NOT this time.   And now, the rest of us did our part in prayer and care.....and one day we got a call:  " Done and done!  The Kaiser Foundation was studying the disease and, if Uncle Joe would share  data about his illness for research purposes, they would pay the bills!  

Mister Pugh, the representative for Kaiser was the Hero of the Hour !    He met us all and spent time with Uncle Joe concerning his care and signed on as responsible for the bills, while being minimally invasive, so as not to tire him or corrupt the existing care.   

We were euphoric !    We knew Uncle Joe was gravely ill and yet hoped that the new money would empower the healing miracle.   The frantic looks on my parents faces went away - a bit of "normal" returned and even good humor.  There were new hopes and expressions of gratitude to Kaiser.  The children sent charming thank you notes in childish hands and added them to the sentiments of the grownups to let them know they already did miracles, bringing the minds of Uncle Joe's folks back into sanity.  "Mister Pugh of the Kaiser Foundation" was the holy name in our home.

My little brother and his pals and cousins would dance about, playing with the name. "Yay !   Mister Pugh of the Kaiser Foundation! " - then, thinking it brilliant....." Mister Peeeeeyouuuu of the Kahdeezer Foundation" ( a slang word in those days for flatulence ). NOT every okay to say, really... regaling ...running thru the kitchen where the grownups were meeting, causing Mother to look to Father, with that glance that requested  disciplinary action for mischievous boys....but not this time:   "Let 'em run for a minute"  - Dad replied..... and all agreed.  

Why the new zany stuff I wondered - soon, one day the mystery resolved  when Dad returned from one of his care visits to Uncle Joe.   He leaned against the kitchen counter and cried, tears of loss and failure and resignation. " He's not going to rally again.  He is going.  He could not even lift his arm into his pajama sleeves. And I had to help him in the bathroom." to his family soon joining his sorrow.   We learned the meaning of  "loss" too too well.   Years of struggle and work had passed, and only to lose the battle.    I guess we all lose the battle one day,  but that day, we could, at least,  be pleased with how well we responded to one another and lived "team family" to help another.   We did our parts and our personhood and through tears, we could still see our  love was stronger than ever.    Soon afterward, Uncle Joe was released from this long suffering and we all agreed that, as beautifully as he held up, he'd surely go straight to heaven. We still think so.  

This is one family response story.  I realized later in life, that I had come to believe all families were that good - that responsive - that social - that "team" and that happy to do it!  We ended up with  a nice collection of memories,  some real world skills to apply on another day and some extra health of our own for the strength and insights that come with helping. 

We are all different.  Not everyone should get helpful. But we should all keep aware of need and at least be ready to call for help, for ourselves and others, in ways that save the day.  No risk - fine gains. yes.

Life Cleaning - Death Cleaning


Christmas and it's supposed to be all about life and the birth of the Blessed Infant.  Friends with new babies charm me and comfort me, this week,  as we bury our Mother and our formerly loving family circle seems lost and hostile and not likely to gather well.   The sudden death loss of my beloved husband taught me something ... NOT good about death.  Are we supposed to be good about death?  Actually , yes...but NEVER as coldly and godlessly as the current trend is selling it.  

 "There is no answer - seek it lovingly" covers the difficult things and moments - NOT the bloodless, soulless mess some are making of the beautiful process of change in life.  

The latest?  "Death Cleaning"  -  in which the ailing or older person keeps their home with things ready for removal upon their death.  To actually call it "Death Cleaning" - no.        
We might as well get serious about coffin-sleeping - done in hot climates for sanitary reasons and superstitious ones.

The tidied elder residence is very very good , for health and beauty, but NOT to call it "Death Cleaning" please.   And NOT to impose.   If the person themselves feels okay with it, fine.   But you have no idea how abusive it is to  be browbeaten into  throw away parts of themselves along the journey, against their will.    The joy of aging is dignity and pride in ourselves for handling life’s moments with courage and even fun and collecting and caring for the things associated with our worthy lives. 

And artist friend felt that he WANTED to clear things, since his name on the art was famous; he feared leaving behind works that did not come up to speed and personal effects he did NOT want found and misunderstood by strangers and him not alive to explain.   But that is the "horse of a different color" - the worth of the soul is upheld here , similarly, though the action is quite the contrary to "death cleaning".     

 Worse, I howled when  my beloved godmother died because her great senior condo rules stated “ cleared out in 14 days” after death.  BAD. There was not allowed  even the legal golden rule thirty days to give the family the golden rule 7-10 days to worship , witness, inter and pray and comfort one another.   I yelled for a change to thirty days for such

We are  LIFE !   At death times, we write poems, give endowments, spend special times with the family and forever after, we show our love for life in memories of the one who passed, shared with all who might enjoy them.   We support our own lives, when we honor the aging , dying and the dead.

But our changing society and its ways is threatening that.  Pay attention and act in support of your elders - they ARE YOU in a few years.  


Pink Push-button Range!

Mid-century American Home Innovations - both tech-savvy parents and tech friends meant fun with technology.  Mother  inherited and renovated a  house and property near Southport Harbor, Connecticut and later, they also bought and built, in 1950, another with all the fixings, on Greenfield Hill in Fairfield, near his family's homestead.  We returned to Southport House but we lived in the Redding Road house for about five years and flipped it - American Home Magazine photog-ed it since it was made from one of their Plans for  PostWar Families.  The 20K cost at startup was respectable then, and it sold for 3/4 of a million.  The Southport House did even better!  

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High Summer - Summertime and the livin' is easy - the work from fall winter and spring is showing the best yields in every way- including the founding of my country, America!   Power, Energy, Leadership, Social breezing about in every way to celebrate every moment of the precious summer sun!  Yes. Summer!

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Only Daughter


I cannot believe my daughter is going to be "29-and-holding" tomorrow!   Again.    I am in memory, at this moment, in my front seat in NDCHS second honors room,  Latin one class, as Sister is welcoming us newbies. She would call us “rara avIs” , Latin for"rare birds", so we countered with the loving "SisterTerryGerry".  Fair.  Part of the lesson that day was the classic :  Conjugate the verb:  “amo, amas , amat…”   I love , you love, he, she or it loves…..and down the line of times and genders of the word to “AMANDA” … "she must be loved, or ought to be loved" .

Like   Arwen’s vision of her love,  and their son, Eldarion, in "Lord of the Rings”, I had seen our son, while outdoors one winter,  painting the white sun, yellow sky in a lovely Connecticut snow  - gasp - "OUR son!  I see our son! “  Rightness and love that works!   And then back to the painting.     I had seen his father, that summer before,  also while out painting.  That first time, it was June and it was the Bachelor Buttons , putting on so snazzy a show - I laughed, to see my one, true, love in my  mind’s eye while painting BACHELOR Buttons !  It was  four years later before we met, and all details of image in my mind's eye correct,  but I was his, right then,  and never wavered.  

And now, right there in freshman high school Latin class -  once more,  everything in me lit up!   Soundlessly singing in jubilation:  “ We have  a DAUGHTER!   And she’s petite…and her name is Amanda! And she must be loved” !!!!   One two three…… what could be simpler?   Husband, son and daughter!  Life and good work too!  Done and done and back to a girl's life carefree!

I forgot such things as visions,  because, later on, it's about taking good care of these gifts and bringing them to best fruition - visions are not realistic, not respectable -  even for a thing in  the early teens.   But, many happy years later,  there was sudden widowhood and as I built my new life all good memories grew in value and I remembered.  I respected, and I knew I was right to respect it now.

ONE TWO THREE…they did not disappoint!!!   Not even once!  

They are all gone to me now, but life is like that sometimes, but for twenty years, we knew the True Thing - and every day was a celebration and the good things for all we touched, I hope.

I miss them all, but do not dare fail to celebrate that it ever was.  May it be a proof that that the good thing is there and worth it.   May it bring happiness and all the good things , as it has, to every day  since.

“They can’t take that away from me.”  

Happy Birthday Amanda - you earned one!  Find me soon!

Thank you!  Your part of the days were wonderful!     from your Mother Elle February 17, 2016


Amy's portrait by me and photoshop at Christmas a decade ago....she was champ at clarinet, flute and recorder, and picked up piano from me, automatically somehow.   She said it was because she loved music but though her tiny lady voice too screechy....not to me, but it's hers, so.

Amy's portrait by me and photoshop at Christmas a decade ago....she was champ at clarinet, flute and recorder, and picked up piano from me, automatically somehow.   She said it was because she loved music but though her tiny lady voice too screechy....not to me, but it's hers, so.