Monday, April 23, 2018

Memorial Information

We are working on consolidating Ann's blogs and memorial information at one site.

The most current information will be at: http://seashellseller.org from this point on.

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If this is the first post you have seen in a while, Ann passed away quietly in her sleep Wednesday 18 April, 2018.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ann Fontaine, Rest In Peace

This is Kristin Fontaine, Ann Fontaine's daughter.

She passed away peacefully on April 18th at home after several weeks of hospice care. I am posting this on her blog so there will be a publicly accessible place to share information about Ann's memorial service and plans.

 The is the most current information that I have shared on Ann's Facebook page:

Dear Friends of Ann,

 I am working on scheduling my mom's memorial service. In accordance with Ann's request, her funeral will be held at a small local church with limited seating capacity.

We know we have room for all of her family, but even if we rented a stadium we wouldn't have room for all of her friends.

Please consider whether you would like to honor and remember Ann by meeting with her friends within your local area, offering prayers at your church, or donating to one of her favorite charities.

Many thanks for your love and support.

Kristin

Links to Mom's favorite charities:

Episcopal Relief and Development

ACLU 

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project

Columbia Memorial Hospital: Hospice Program

Camp Namanu Scholarships

Friday, March 30, 2018

Happy Easter

Thanks for all the letters and cards you have been sending.  It is hard for me to write or talk on the phone. I love hearing from you and love knowing I am in your thoughts and hearing stories of our times together. Talking makes me cough. I fade out while just listening. Even chatty friends find it conversation death to sit with me.  I love it that you call, drop in for quick visit- leave as needed when my "keepers" (Jim and Kristin) urge you out the door, not taking it personally and when you show up with no scented hair or body!

A funny thing -- (or grim - depending how you are feeling) - I was thinking maybe I should just end it (you can do that here in Oregon). Then hospice sent me more drugs. I found my self worrying about taking too much of something and killing myself!. Guess I am not quite done yet!

So keep on keeping in touch. Baseball season has started and Cubs started off by winning and hitting an opening Home Run!

I know the urge to bring gifts is strong but I can't eat sweets, my TV stand is overflowing with offerings, and real flowers or plants make me cough. Also, gifts are one more thing Jim and Kristin have to find places for or do something with (and they have enough jobs).

The best gifts are your cards and very short visits or notes on Facebook or texts.

Got the concentrator up and running.  So put me in coach for another inning!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hospice: Day 1

Busy day today: assessment nurse came yesterday. Already today I have recliner chair that powers me up to my feet. Best of all the Bath Lady came! Oh joy - really clean hair and a good scrubbing!! Oxygen people will come swap out my machine to the one they will use. Pack of meds came with morphine. This will help me when I get "air hunger" and feel like I can't breathe (sort of a panicky feeling). Also zaps me out and leaves me sort of drifty.


Our son and wife and kids were here over the weekend- visited in short bursts - so great to see people but just can't take long visits. A couple stopped by too. Then my pal (we are the Loony Old Ladies) came by to report on her visits to the High School Students -- getting the registered to vote and giving them some civics 101!  They are so eager to learn and she is a fount of information. I had hoped to go with her when I was feeling better - but now am the cheering squad.

It is nice to have a visitor who doesn't just sit looking as though I might die any moment but who engages me in the world.

Best of all Jim and our daughter Kristin are here running errands for my every need. So lovely - only
a text message away or just sitting here. Jim spent the day making a daffodil (my fave) for me.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Hospice

I have called the hospice team. Not because I am immediately dying (though I could) but for the help they can give us with this process. I think until now I have been sort of in denial of sorts. Oh I know I am fading but now I need help with fading. I will be staying at home for this part of the journey.

Our daughter has been here helping  for a week - it has been great.  There are just so many tasks I can no longer do.  All our kids have been great - checking in - offering to do things.

But time for more intensive care.

Friend visits are cut down to about 5 minutes with no wearing of scents!

Anyway -- just to let you all know where I am.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Skipping Ash Wednesday

I have been thinking about Ash Wednesday lately. My current thought is that I will skip it. My health leads me to believe that I will be having my own real life (or should that be real death?) ashes to ashes, dust to dust moment sooner rather than later. I am not dead yet but my lung tissue function is way down. Physical movement sends my blood/oxygen levels down into the high 70s, low 80s. Mostly I sit on the couch during the day and Jim totes me around in a wheel chair if I have to go anywhere.

The brain seems to be getting enough oxygen to keep active - mentoring EfM, "reading" audio books, doing NYTimes Crossword puzzle with few hints except on Saturday, doing online communications for our Indivisible group and a keeping a couple of websites.

Mostly I am content with my life though I go through periods of sadness about leaving it. I really like this life and can't imagine anything else. I am not depressed - just sad.

I will probably skip Lent too -- enjoy what I have and skip the discipline! If I am not doing whatever I think I should be doing by now- I doubt I will pick it up in the next 40 days.

But I do recommend Ash Wednesday and Lent as an antidote for the relentless pursuit of cheer and happy feelings by US culture. I think Lent can help those of us who are not filled with happiness every moment feel a little more normal and not wrong for other feelings and suffering.  We don't have to take the blame for our feelings or things that happen-- they are not shameful. They are just life.

Blessings of Lent to all.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Seeking the living God

How dear to me is your dwelling, 
O LORD of hosts!*
My soul has a desire and longing 
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. Psalm 84:1

How many of us are doing now what we thought we would be doing when we thought about that as children or even a few years ago? How did you deal with the changes and chances that have happened to you along the way?

The Magi were seekers - we don't know too much about them, not how many nor if they were all men nor their religion, except they came from the east and brought three gifts. Lots of stories have been woven around their journey from the east to the palace of the King to the home of the Holy Family. As I think about them - I see them at home in Magi-land, sitting around the table pondering their star charts, wondering about this new star in the heavens. To them it is a portent of some great birth, a royal birth - one important enough to cross cultural, religious, tribal and national boundaries. They feel called to go in person to see what this might be. How long will the journey be? What should they take? What sort of gifts should they bring. Of course, gold -- that is the only gift for a royal birth- a new king. Frankincense, good in case this new king is also a priest - a spiritual ruler and not just a temporal king. Myrrh - hmm - not so sure what that will be for - but good for healing as well as for those who have died.

On the way - they kept their eyes on the star - but stars, if you have ever navigated by them are somewhat difficult to follow for a specific destination. A GPS would be handy but they would have to wait a few years for that! How would they know for sure which house was the right one? So they stop by the palace - thinking surely the king would know about a royal birth. They get a few more specific directions from the palace scholars but also set in motion some unforeseen consequences due to the horrific nature of Herod. Finally they make it to the little family - not much of a king or kingly surroundings. I wonder what they thought - did we find the right child? As they begin their journey back home - they pay attention to the dream that warns them not to go back to Herod - and to find a different way to go.

In the years that followed did they hear more about Jesus? Did they wonder if it was all for nothing?

We don't know.

I think our lives are lived in much the same way as the Magi -- we have plans, other things intervene, we have dreams - some we follow - some cannot be followed. Some of us are very focused on our grand goal - so focused we don't see the rest of life passing us by and then if we don't reach that goal - we feel lost. Or we get distracted from our grand goal and feel like we missed our chance to attain whatever it was we thought we wanted.

When I was a child - I thought I would grow up to be a professional football player - that plan did not really work out for some obvious reasons. Some things I did from a plan, like becoming a 4th grade teacher, but mostly life just happened and either I grieved a loss or I found the happenings were better than my plan and found joy in what was and is.

In Jesus' day there were not many choices- your birth status pretty much determined what you would be. Women and children would be property, men had to live out their lives in the slot that was predetermined - born royal - you stayed royal unless some sibling killed you to gain your position, born a slave - you stayed a slave and your children were slaves too. Workers taught their work to their sons who took over the family business. Peasants and shepherds worked for others when work could be found.

Jesus brought a different way of understanding life-- a way of freedom even in bad circumstances. A sense of being beloved of God -- brothers and sisters with all humankind regardless of status, race, gender, and all the barriers we erect between us. The visit of the shepherds- one of the lowliest places in society and the visit of the Magi - from an elite, wealthy and educated class - the two show us a different way of understanding our lives. Our happiness and well being do not depend on what we do or how many goals we attain. It depends on understanding this beloved-ness and that all others are equally beloved. Life is in the seeking, for being open to whatever comes along- for being present to one another - it's not about how much we achieve or how much money we make.

The psalmist has it right- presence - God's presence in our lives and our becoming God's presence in the world -- that is the kindom -- that is our longing and desire.

The Eternal Circle
Tiny star
of morning.
Born in the
smallest of stables
spreading from manger
to shepherd
to magi
to beloved
to teacher.
Expanding out
into the universe.
Calling everyone and everything
home to the heart of Love.
Transfiguration reveals
what was always there:
A supernova exploding
into our hearts and minds.
Now we feel the black hole
tugging pulling dragging us
into that heart
in our journey through Lent
to the fullness of Easter.



Image: The Magi from Nativity created by Barbara Hughes

Monday, January 01, 2018

January 2018: Embracing my life as a plant.

Happy New Year!  a date which in September I did not think I would see. Life is changed (but not ended- as it says in the BCP) - oxygen is my friend. I use varying amounts depending on activities. 8 for showering - 3 for sitting around - and in between for other things. I now have small bench for the shower - so am using a lot less energy for that activity. I have a wheelchair for longer distances. It is great for "walks" or as a friend says "rolls." When it is warmer there are lots of paved paths around the area. Accessibility is something I know notice (yeah- always takes experiencing for me to really "get" it). I have a handicap car hang tag for parking near places I need to visit.

Things I have had to learn:

I knew this was an "able" culture but know I really know what that means (no big surprise for many of my friends). Though my wheelchair drivers can plow the way through with me some days! Watch out feet.

To stop wondering if people seeing me on oxygen are thinking "oh she was a smoker - poor thing but she should have known."  I often want to jump up in public and yell-- I never smoked! Anything! Partly it is pay back for my judgmental days and partly it is only in my mind - and partly they are thinking that.

To get rid of ego-issues around each sign of increasing inability to run my life and do things. I put off getting a wheel chair for ego reasons and now as people who use them told me I would say - "why did I wait?"

To just let people do everything and ask for things I need - instead of trying to be tough. Some friend said "oh you are like a plant-- they feed you, water you, and put you out in the sun" -- so I am embracing my plant self. My husband, Jim, makes me his full time project -- I feel totally loved. I am glad he still has his shop and iron and wood work though.

The kids and grandkids were here over the days of Christmas. They are amazing and sweet. One comes and goes - each time with "I love you, Grandma."

I have a great care team now. The nurse practitioner, my primary doctor and my lung doctor are all on top of my case -- responsive and take time to listen to me. I think I feel better partly because of their tender care for me.  I no longer (unlike with one previous doctor) feel like they will abandon me if they think I am not worth their time. And they communicate with each other!

So back into the fray of life each day. Most of my work is online -- EfM mentoring, Communications for our local resistance group (Indivisible) and a Diocesan Committee: all things I can do without walking about or traveling. If you are feeling hopeless about the current trends in the  US - I recommend finding a local Indivisible group - it is great not to feel alone in the struggle and to have a strategy.

The prognosis for IPF is not great --but for now-- we keep on keeping on.

Blessings abound.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Coming Up for Air!

What a difference a month makes.  Being on oxygen has greatly improved my sense of well being. I had 2 infections that are now over. Off antibiotics. Last month I thought "this is it" and was okay with that. Now I feel like I don't know what is next. My birthday is next week - which a month ago I did not think I would see!!


Wednesday I actually went out to a meeting for 2 hours. One that I had set up with the Police Chief and the immigrant community. They had asked to meet and share their thoughts with him. I was really happy to see it happen. Thanks to a great team of people finding a space, making treats, available to translate if needed. Some good plans begun to make this an even better community. Courageous leadership all around.

And I think we will get lights for the Wednesday evening soccer games - the last game was often played when it was nearly dark as summer passed the solstice. Some of our Indivisible members are going to work on local businesses of Clatsop county to make their shops and stores bigotry free. Helping everyone feel welcome and safe is our goal.

Sadly our current national leadership is not helping.

It is energizing for me to see people taking on projects like this.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Lung update October 4

If interested- here is my health update

I saw my new pulmonologist - feel like he is paying attention. Not a fan of steroids which I am happy about. The 2 weeks of 40mg and then nothing left me with chills and fevers for a couple of weeks. Now that is out of my system. My primary care person is watching me closely and put me on oxygen full time --  any activity sends the numbers of my blood oxygen ratio down in the 70% range. Sitting around I am over 95%. So no marathon running for me.  Hopefully I am in a plateau for awhile -- though the prognosis is not that great for IPF - even with the delaying meds I am on. 

The oxygen gives the good parts of my lungs more support as well as the parts that are showing lots of deterioration The rest of me is in great shape. All my other organs are happier with more oxygen.  So sitting around I feel "normal." I have a portable concentrator so have more freedom though not for too much exertion. 

I have the oxygen tanks if the power goes out.

So I can do internet stuff - like my online classes and edit the Speaking to the Soul department of the Episcopal Café. Happy to be watching the playoffs and World Series - not sure what I will do for TV after that. Maybe read a book -- what a concept!

I am reading Year One in EfM -- which is the Hebrew Scriptures.  I find those books endlessly fascinating. I am reading Robert Alter translation along with our regular assignments. We have 3 mentors so we share the leadership and reading.

Since I can't go out much - friends have been bringing lunch and visiting-- which is lovely.

Anyway - I am content. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

After: thoughts on life

Is there life after death and if so what will it be? In a Woody Allen movie, a Jewish man (played by Allen) converts to Christianity. His mother screams and goes to her room. The father asks why he would want to do that. Allen’s character replies by asking his father, “Aren’t you worried about you know, … after?” The father says, “No, I don’t worry, I will be dead!”
Philosophers and religions discuss death and afterlife extensively. Some religions do not profess any concept of life after death; others such as Christianity have extensive belief systems and writings on subject. I tend to agree with the father in the movie – “I will be dead.” All I can really do anything about is here and now.
Currently I am intrigued by the concept put forth in the trilogy His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. Note: The daemons in his trilogy are an externalized part of the human’s spirit embodied in an animal form. A daemon is capable of shifting species to reflect the emotional state of their human companion until puberty when the daemon’s identity become fixed.
Lyra, the heroine of the trilogy says, “When you go out of here, all the particles that make you up will loosen and float apart, just like your daemons did. If you’ve seen people dying, you know what that looks like. But your daemons aren’t just nothing now; they’re part of everything. All the atoms that were them, they’ve gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They’ll never vanish. They’re just part of everything. And that’s exactly what’ll happen to you, I swear to you, I promise on my honor. You’ll drift apart, it’s true, but you’ll be out in the open, part of everything alive again.” (The Amber Spyglass, page 335)
“Even if it means oblivion… I’ll welcome it, because it won’t be nothing, we’ll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass and a million leaves, we’ll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze, we’ll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world which is our true home and always was.” (The Amber Spyglass, page 336)
“To know that after a spell in the dark we’ll come out again to a sweet land like this, to be free of the sky like the birds, well, that’s the greatest promise anyone could wish for.” (The Amber Spyglass, page 532) 

Many funeral sermons talk of reunion with loved ones or life continuing in some improved version of what we know now. The Scriptures give a mixed message. The letters of Paul give some suggestions. Much of our imagery comes from Revelation with its metaphors of streets of gold and lakes of fire describing what awaits us. Some Christian denominations have a highly developed idea of afterlife and others leave it to the category of mystery. Some branches of Islam tell of living in gardens of pleasure. Most of Judaism does not have an afterlife theology. The most one can read in The Bible is that there will be some sort of ongoing life in God but even that is unclear. As I age and more and more friends die, it is comforting to imagine that I will be in an improved known life but I wonder. I think it more likely to be nothing like anything I know but I trust that it will be in the hands of God if it is anything at all.
What I do care about is life now, making the kingdom of God present in the world. As it says in the Lord’s Prayer, I pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” I care about leaving the world having contributed to making it a better place for all people. I hope that our children and grandchildren and their children will have a place to live on earth, that they will find meaningful lives, and contribute in their time.
Mary Oliver wrote in “When Death Comes” 

…When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
The people I look to are those who have not just visited with their time here on earth. They have delighted in their time here and brought joy as a primary gift to those around them. They have spent their days making space for others.
In the end I hope that death will be as Pullman describes it, “The first ghost to leave the world of the dead was Roger. He took a step forward, and turned to look back at Lyra, and laughed in surprise as he found himself turning into the night, the starlight, the air… and then he was gone, leaving behind such a vivid little burst of happiness that Will was reminded of the bubbles in a glass of champagne.” (The Amber Spyglass, page 382)
Philip Pullman web site — http://www.randomhouse.com/features/pullman/

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

UPDATE on my lungs

Earlier on this blog I explained about Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis - a progressive condition of the lungs. In the last couple of weeks I sort of dropped off a cliff. I had been doing pretty well, slow and easily fatigued but had a bad bout of coughing.

A couple of weeks ago I had a CT scan and it shows some progression of the fibrosis. The upshot of it all is that they put me on the oxygen.  I am hoping that will restore some energy -but taking it day to day. I will be getting a portable concentrator to give me a bit more freedom. The little bottles are 2 hours - the concentrator 7-8 on battery. Have a concentrator at home - with a long tube for going all over the house. My version of "golden lasso"
I was on prednisone for 2 weeks and came off cold turkey - have suffered fever and chills and extreme fatigue -but on the mend -nothing infectious shows up. Unlike the lungs -- everything else is in great shape and having the oxygen will help keep everything that way I hope. 

I see a new pulmonologist next week. My old one is retiring. In the meantime I cannot say enough about my provider at Cannon Beach Providence. She has really taken me seriously and is on top of everything -- trying to give me more quality of life.

Happy to answer questions - but prefer no advice -  try not to speculate on what this means. I don't know yet.

October 6 is the funeral for my sister in law who died this week. We sat with her body and told stories- laughed and cried. I did prayers and anointing. Prayers for all the family. She was our family's chief hostess and loved having everyone around. No matter when you showed up she would whip up a meal for you and make you welcome. The last few years she had Alzheimers (or similar condition) these last few years - though she still remembered all of us. An overwhelming infection killed her.

Jim has been amazing -- feel very cared for.  Kristin has been here for a few weeks- very lovely. John our son and Quinn, our grandchild (18 years old now!) come for a visit this week. Great summer seeing all the kids and grands.

Prayers welcome.

Photos: My life this year - before September 1 and after.