Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Christmas in Texas with the Mays

Phil and Maribeth had Mother and her sitter, Shelley, over for Christmas Day.
Here are some photos of the event (in random order).
Levi was home from JMU (James Madison University) in Virginia.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

News From Texas

The last few months have been a busy time for all of us. Philip is finally feeling like a new guy following many months of adjusting from surgery (last fall) for the placement of a shunt. I have been busy with the public relations and grant writing for the Catholic School where I am employed and Fran has been busy walking with assistance.

Following Christmas Fran really began to kick her effort up a notch. She graduated from the “Merry Walker” to a regular walker. She still needs assistance in getting up from the wheelchair into the standing position. Once she is standing she grabs the walker (I call it her death grip) and walks down the hallways of the Nursing Home with one of us following directly behind with the wheelchair.

There are days where she can walk the hallway without stopping for a sitting break. There are also days where she needs to sit down and rest from time to time.

She is no longer in physical therapy 5 days a week. Instead she is in “restorative therapy” 3 days a week. Because of stringent Medicare rules, the PT department can only justify their program 5 days a week if Fran is showing significant improvement. The CNA’s walk her, Shelley (her hired sitter) helps walk her and we walk her when we visit.

Philip would like to see her get stronger, of course, but she has been at pretty much the same level for the last 2 months. She is progressing, not in leaps and bounds, but in baby steps. Perhaps this is the best she can achieve -- time will tell.

Her mind is clear; she is beginning to read again, watch TV and attend bingo games and activities when Shelley is with her. I wish I could say that she has made new friends. She really doesn’t seem interested in making new friends because she has Shelley with her during the day and Philip and I with her in the evening.

Philip feels the need to see her daily; I do my best but also realize that I have to take care of myself.

Her care providers treat her with kindness and dignity (they all enjoy coming in and visiting her) so I feel she is being well taken care of.

Fran loves to hear from all of you and does her best to write back when she can.

Keep in touch,

Maribeth May

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pictures from Thanksgiving 2009

Levi, Mom on the phone, and Shelley (her sitter/companion)

Phil and Mom

Mom talking to Mary and Anita on Thanksgiving

Phil, Tom Turkey, and Momma May

Momma May on Thanksgiving 2009

Even DC ("darn" cat) had a place in the dining room on Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Maribeth's Report

What a great Thanksgiving Day we had here in Texas. Levi was home from college and Fran was able to come to our home for the big feast.

The feast was served about 2:00 p.m. on a beautiful, elegant table that even Martha Stewart would envy. (I’m only repeating what my Mother-in-law said!)

Shelley, Fran’s sitter/companion, is now officially a member of the May Family. She was with Fran in the morning and then drove her to our home. Mark, one of Fran’s favorite CNA’s, was working so she felt secure about the transfer from her wheelchair to the car. When she arrived here, Levi was able (under the direction of Philip) to help lift her to the wheelchair. Once in our home she was able to relax.

While waiting for me to put the final touches on the meal she enjoyed looking through the Donovan Memorial Church Cookbook. She stated that she has tasted most of the recipes in the book because most of them are her friends' creations. I commented that there were no recipes of mine in the book. Fran then said, “That's because you're a Catholic and this is a Methodist Cookbook...No Catholics allowed!” We all laughed and enjoyed seeing Fran’s great sense of humor coming through once again.

Dinner was served and we all enjoyed the moist turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, corn and cranberry sauce. We needed to take a break following dinner before we finished it off with chocolate and pecan pie topped with ice cream.

Fun was had by all!!! Before heading back to the nursing home Fran was able to call Anita and Mary and wish them a happy day.

Just keeping you all up to date,
Maribeth May

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at the May’s in Texas

Phil's Version

So there we were, standing at our front door when Momma May and Shelley drove up to the door in Shelley’s town car. Smiles beamed everywhere. We all had empty stomachs in anticipation of a royal feast. I guess we were experiencing the joy of anticipation.

Got mom outta the car and in her wheelchair. Levi was here too. He rolled Mom into the house and parked her in the kitchen where she entertained us with her humor while Maribeth continued to prepare the last details of the fixin’s.

We all ate till Mom said her usual thing about satiation: “I’m about to pop!” We laughed and realized that her simple statement was so true. We were all at that satiation point. Turkey, mashed taters, yams, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, chardonnay, merlot, pecan pie, chocolate pie, carrot cake and ice cream were all on the menu that day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 & 2001 Thanksgiving

Fran wanted us to pass on her Thanksgiving thoughts and prayers to all of her family and friends.

She is doing very well these days. Her mind is good, her sense of humor is great and her spirits are up. She still struggles with the fact that she can’t walk. She and her sitter Shelley attend the center's bingo, skippo games and music performances almost daily. Fran looks forward to getting her hair done every other Tuesday and her nails painted.

Levi is home for the Thanksgiving holiday and surprised Fran with beautiful flowers on his first visit. He was amazed at the improvement in his grandmother’s health since he last saw her in August before leaving for JMU. We will be having her over today for Thanksgiving Dinner along with Shelley. We are looking forward to their visit.

Please continue to keep Fran in your thoughts and prayers. She always has all of you in her heart.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Maribeth (Fran’s Favorite Daughter-in-law)

This was 2001, the year that Mary and Ed moved to Virginia. We were thankful that Mary Margaret and Hunter Holler invited us for Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pizza Party at Pleasant Manor

Maribeth suggested that I (Mary) put together a slide show of our trip, which I did. We went to Pleasant Manor on Saturday afternoon and commandeered the lobby for the show. Maribeth and Phil got the screen and projector set up.

They brought Mother down in her wheelchair and she seemed to take it all in. She had been many of the places when she and cousin Mabel Miller toured the west some years ago. She especially liked the Redwoods. (You can go to our website at if you care to see more.)

That's Mary in the lower right-hand corner.
Mother's companion, Shelley, and Maribeth's friend, Lynn both joined us. We had a break to eat some yummy pizza that Lynn had picked up for Maribeth on her way over. Ed and Phil went home to watch some football. Maribeth and I stayed until Mother was tucked into bed.

Mother is Amazing

Mother has been here in Texas in a nursing home near my brother for almost a year. Phil and Maribeth have been so faithful about visiting her every day.

She's really had some ups and downs along the way. It appears that she might not be able to walk again but she does receive therapy to keep her limber. Phil has worked closely with the doctor and it seems they have tweaked her meds to a nice mellow balance.

She is amazingly clearheaded and knew me immediately. They just had her to the doctor to have her ears cleaned and she seems to be hearing better than she has in a long time.

She is getting good care at Pleasant Manor and this is, no doubt, affected by Phil and Maribeth's daily visits. I really appreciate and admire their dedication. Also, Mother's Southern manners come through and she always thanks people who do something for her.

Mother is like the energizer bunny who takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'. We hope she will continue to be peaceful in her surroundings.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fran's Thinking is Crystal Clear

Happy Labor Day to All!

Philip just left to take a thermos of “strong stove coffee” to Fran to share with her “sitter” Shelley. One of the best things we have done for Fran (besides loving her, of course) is hiring Shelley to be with her throughout the day. They have bonded and have a good time together.

Last week Shelley started taking her on daily strolls (in her wheelchair) just to get her out of the room and to have her interact with some of the residents. Thursday they got their nails done at the “Pretty Nail Party” held every two weeks at Pleasant Manor. Friday was bingo day and Fran had a good time even though she didn’t win.

The doctor has put Fran on daily small doses of pain medication before breakfast, lunch and before bed. This has helped her with the transfer she has to go through with the lift from her bed to her wheelchair. I am happy to report that her mind is crystal clear and Fran enjoys playing memory games with cards.

Frances always lights up when she receives calls from Mary and Anita. We read Mary and Ed’s blog (Angelil Adventures) to her every week or so and she looks forward to Anita’s weekly letters. Keep up the good job, girls.

Until next time, continue to keep Fran in your prayers. She misses all of her friends and speaks of you often.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fran's 80th Birthday Party

Anita Krull, Maribeth, Philip and Levi May, Fran, MaryMay Angelil

Fran Becomes Weaker

Two weeks ago, Levi and I boarded a plane to Virginia to settle Levi in at James Madison University for his sophomore year. Philip stayed behind to look after Fran.

It was a difficult weekend for him because she became more weak than usual with a very low blood pressure. Her doctor was called and an IV was ordered. Philip really felt it was near the end for Fran.

I got home late Monday evening from Virginia and stopped in to see her. I found her sleeping comfortably. Philip took a fresh thermos of “strong stove coffee” (as Momma May calls it) into her early Tuesday morning on his way to work. The IV seemed to give her a boost. Her mind has been extremely clear since that episode but her body very weak.

Her main fear has been not being able to pull the help cord beside her bed because of her weakness. Philip and I talked things over and felt it was time to hire a “sitter” to be with Fran during the day when we are at work. Fran seemed relieved with our decision.

We hired a woman named Shelley that we have known from our church for the past 10 years. Shelley lived with her elderly Aunt for many years and cared for her up until her death. Shelley comes in and keeps Fran company, reads to her, assists her with her meals and keeps an eye on her care and care providers. Fran seems a bit more relaxed and enjoys the company.

Fran continues to talk about all of you back in Virginia and looks forward to your letters and cards. Please continue to keep Fran in your prayers.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Memories Revisited

Mom has had some mentally clear times recently in spite of her continuing physical decrease in strength. She had an episode of low blood pressure this past weekend that was serious. An IV was started and after a couple liters of fluid, she returned to a more stable condition.

She is on some special medication that is now starting to kick in and have an effect on her memory and attitude. Her thinking is clearer. Her speech is a little louder and more understandable.

Even in Mom’s darkest of times over the past year, she has always maintained her sense of humor, which always manages to shine through to us despite her miseries and tribulations.

I am asking her some questions about some past times and getting some surprising answers, many of which make me laugh. I hope you enjoy them. Here is her take on Granddaddy and Grandmother May so far. What’s written is not totally verbatim, but pretty close to what she said. There may be more to come.


Walker May, SR (Granddaddy)

“Mom, tell me some of your favorite memories about Granddaddy May.” Momma May smiled a chuckled just a little. “Granddaddy used to read a lot. He loved the National Geographic and Readers Digest the most. He would like to read some and then tell us about the articles (he said ar-tickles, with emphasis on the ‘tickles’ part of the word). You (Phil) used to sit on his lap for hours at a time while he read to you. He taught you to tell time, which you always remembered.”

“Granddaddy was a gentle man who never fussed with me over anything. His kindness I will always remember. He and Grandmother Ruth Bowman May would have “discussions” each day over one thing or another. You asked them why they argued so much. They laughed at you and said, “We’re not arguing, we are just having a ‘discussion’”. They got pretty loud sometimes. They seemed to like it rather much as a part of their relationship. Sometimes Grandmother talked just too much for Granddaddy and he would reach his limit. He would simply and loudly say to her, “Shut up, woman!” Of course, she never did.” Mom and I both laughed out loud over this memory.

“Phil, you thought Granddaddy May was the greatest and you learned from him with enthusiasm. When you were about to enter first grade at Mt Clinton eElementary, you were introduced to Miss Arlene, your teacher. You told her, “I don’t really need to come to this school. My Granddaddy will teach me everything I will need to know!”

Ruth Bowman May (Grandmother)

“ Your grandmother never stopped working, never stopped talking (She was a ‘chatterbox’), and never sat down long. She was very smart, and a math wizard. She tutored you all in mathematics. She was also a researcher. If she didn’t know something she would research the encyclopedia Britannica until she found the information she wanted. She had a dictionary as big as Alaska, which she kept on the front porch and she referred to it often. It was the standard dictionary that all you children used during your school years.

Grandmother May had a green thumb. She loved flowers. She would put on her blue and white bonnet with little ruffles around the face and her long dress. She spent hours with her flowers and her gardening projects. She canned stuff from the garden all summer long. Our basement was filled with a zillion quart mason jars on the shelves in the back room where we cleaned the fresh eggs. We enjoyed the fruits of her labor all year by eating what she had canned.

In her later years, Grandmother May became obsessed with weed killing. She hated dandelions with a passion, God only knows why. She got a long handled sprayer and can with weed killer and went over the entire yard. She was really thorough. Not only did she kill each and every dandelion but also she killed all the grass around it. Our yard was just funny to look at. It had little dead spots all over it, … but no dandelions, that was for sure.

Grandmother May made the sweetest tea. During the hay season she would make the tea and put it in a big old beat-up green thermos and take it to the hayfield. The men would use the aluminum screw-off cap to drink from. It was all beat up and bent as well but the men didn’t seem to care. They just loved the super cold super sweet tea she made.

She had some cooking delicacies that we all loved. Her ham potpie was one of the kids’ favorite. She introduced the spice celery salt to the family. It was particularly good on the squares of cooked dough that were in the potpie. She made oyster stew each year especially around the Election Day time. The broth was so buttery that no oysters were really needed to enjoy the stew. She always had those special little round crackers that we would put in the soup. The whole oyster stew experience was simply … Yummy!

Grandmother loved poetry and she could recite from memory many long poems that she had learned from her ancestors when she was a young child. Anita (my sister) collected a book of them. Hearing Grandmother recite them was a much better source of entertainment than the TV or radio when you children were growing up. Grandmother could even play the piano just a little. Her favorite was “Jesus, Lover of my Soul”. I don’t remember her playing anything other than that.


If you have any questions you would like me to ask her to get her wisdom, humor and perspective on, please let me know. Her answers may surprise, entertain, or enlighten you over events and people in her life.

Posted by:

Philip, the baby of the family

Monday, August 3, 2009

Stormy Weather in Texas

This summer has been extremely hot and recently very stormy. In the last 5 days we have gone from no rain for 3 weeks to Tornado Warnings and heavy rain. People say here in Texas, “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute because it is sure to change”.

Last Tuesday morning we were awakened by loud thunder, bright lightning and heavy rains. There were severe weather warnings in our area and a tornado warning just 15 miles north us.

I went to see Fran once everything settled down and found her asleep. I was surprised to see her still in bed at 10:00 a.m. Her CNA, Katrina, informed me that when she got there at 5:30 a.m. the storm was just getting started and they were instructed by the charge nurse that patients needed to be moved to the center of the building due to a tornado warning. She said that she moved Fran first (she is real close to Fran and has been so good with her) and then proceeded with the others.

The 130 residents spent about an hour there in the center of the building because there are windows in each room that could blow. When the storm cleared, the residents were moved directly to the dining room (about 15 feet away) for breakfast. Many of the residents were still in bed recovering from the exciting morning. Fran told me she was a little frightened but Katrina stayed close to her and talked her through it.

Philip and I got to the center Saturday about 3:30 p.m. just before another storm broke. The residents did not have to move to the lobby this time, but it sure did lightning, thunder and rain extremely hard for about 90 minutes. Occasionally the lights would go on and off and that seemed to get the residents a bit upset.

I spoke to a man named Charles, who is in a room across from Fran’s, and he told me that the morning that all the residents were moved to the center of the building he chose to stay in his room because he felt he would be safer rolling himself into the bathroom where there are no windows than being all lined up together in the center of the building. He made me laugh because he said that if a tornado had hit it would take at least a week to get all the wheelchairs untangled. Phil and I are still laughing just picturing it!

Fran is still about the same. Her days include getting out of bed in the morning, going to the dining hall for breakfast and sometimes lunch and then napping a good bit. We continue to read to her and keep her updated on the current events of her family and friends.

Levi took 4 of his friends in with him to see her the other day and he said she really enjoyed it. They asked her about all the pictures on the wall and told her about some of their college experiences. They stayed about 30 minutes and Levi said that was about all the excitement she could take. She seemed quite tired by the time they left, but hopefully, cheered up.

Fran still says funny things. She catches us off-guard when we least expect it. She still shows some "spunk" from time to time.

Fran really misses all of you and enjoys hearing from you.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dog Days of Summer

The weather in Texas has been in the high 90’s and some days as high as 104 degrees. Thank goodness for air-conditioned homes, cars and a swimming pool.

Fran stays inside most of the time at the nursing home. Occasionally we can get her out in the garden area on the gazebo in the mornings before it gets up in the 90’s. She prefers to stay in bed and be lazy but we encourage her to get up in her chair a couple times a day.

Her therapy has been discontinued except for chair exercises a few times a week. Her potassium levels are back to normal with no more severe leg cramps. Her appetite is so-so but she is showing some interest in her sugar free chocolates again.

She has lost some of her get-up and go and just stares a good bit. We can get her to smile now and then. She really enjoys and seems to relax when she is read to. Philip reads the Bible to her and I read from the book, “Simple Abundance”.

Continue to keep Fran in your thoughts and prayers.