Goodbye, God Bless

Santa Prisca Cathedral

Santa Prisca Cathedral – Bar Berta Not Far Away!

A loss of an important family member occurred this past week.  My Uncle Dick (Dick Techtmeyer) passed away.  Ask anyone who knew Dick about their impressions of  him, and you’ll hear comments like, “life of the party,” “happy go-lucky,” “loving,” “happy,” “a great guy and a wonderful friend.”  The list goes on…We lost a terrific man, friend, relative, acquaintance…Dick was a total blast and a half!

One of the most impressive adventures that I personally know about is the trip Dick made with his two sisters in 1988 to Mexico.  Richard and I planned our wedding for May in 1988 and sent out invitations to everyone we knew – not expecting anyone but perhaps the village drunk and some of the villagers from our little village of Hueymatla to attend.  

SURPRISE. Never one to miss an adventure or doing something different, Dick decided this was something that was worth attending. Dick, his two sisters Lois, and Norma all somehow hopped on a plane and managed to find their way down to Mexico City.  Dick rented a car (mind you…not speaking a word of Spanish), he piled his two sisters into the car, and he smoked that car out of the rental lot in search of Taxco, Guerrero. “Don’t you worry a bit,” he said . . . assuring his sisters that he knew exactly where he was and where he was going with that 6-pack of Coronas nestled next to him and the emergency brake… The sisters hung on for dear life while Dick drove like a crazy gringo up into the mountains from Mexico City to Taxco, Guerrero.  “Have no fear,” he hollered!

Taxco - The Nearest Town to our Village

Taxco – The Nearest Town to our Village of Hueymatla

Richard and I had the task to find Dick and his sisters once they arrived in Taxco, which was the nearest town to our village which was about 50 miles away…it wasn’t too difficult.  Within minutes we found him and his many new-found Mexican friends at Bar Berta which overlooked the zocolo.  Where there was laughter, Dick was not far away!  Bar Berta rocked that night! 

The day before our wedding, Dick, Lois and Norma followed us out to our humble little village via the “burro trail” of a road to spend some time with us in the “campo.”  I still wonder what he told the vehicle rental people in Mexico City when he returned the rental car at the conclusion of his adventure…

Once he arrived in our village of about 200 souls, it didn’t take Dick long before he hauled out his new video camera and was walking the village and taking in the sites and sounds of the real Mexico.  It also didn’t take much time for him to find the old wooden swinging bridge over the little river that led to an adjoining village of about 8 hearty souls.  Dick made immediate friends with everyone there and had everyone laughing so loud that we could hear the laughter pealing through the valley for miles.

Dick Techtmeyer was a one of a kind.  He was an adventurer.  He never met anyone who wasn’t his friend immediately.  And, he was the life of every party he attended (or danced on a table!).  We will always remember him and love him dearly.  Dick brought a sense of happiness to everyone and every event. 

The view from the veranda of our home in Hueymatla

The view from the veranda of our home in Hueymatla – where we were married May 8, 1988 with Uncle Dick in full Mexican regalia and grinning from ear to ear!

Today my beloved uncle is no longer with us here on earth.  But, God bless him . . . his happy spirit will always remain in our hearts and memories.  I feel honored to have had Dick as my uncle and my friend.  He was one of a kind.  Below is a picture of Dick’s daughter Pamela and me taken about 2 years ago.  Pam and I have a bond between us – – and you guessed it – – that bond is Dick Techtmeyer.  Pam had an extraordinary father, and yes, she knew it!

Pam and Patti - photo taken 2 years ago

Pam and Patti – Photo Taken Two Years Ago

– – Birth is Not The Beginning; Death is Not The End – –

We Love You, and Always Will.

If you have any pictures or stories to share about Dick to add to this blog, please send them to me, and I’ll post them for our family and friends to enjoy.  Send to richardandpattiredd at gmail dot com (written this way, eliminates the spammers but you get the gist!)

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Is It Ok For a Man To Cry?

You Bet.

And, for you guys out there who think crying is for sissies, I beg to differ.  I don’t want you guys to make crying a HABIT, because, well…that can be a downer….but tears are not exclusive to females or babes in arms – OK?!

Life has snags, offers up huge and nasty potholes, provides us with people who create havoc in our psyche and emotions, and things generally just “go wrong”  more often than we want.  …Oh, did I mention that physical pain occurs too?!  Oh yes, there are a lot of reasons for a guy to cry.  I believe if you, as a male, took it upon yourself to let the floodgates loose once in awhile, you’d be healthier for it.

Tears can relieve stress more quickly than you can imagine.  Think about it: tears are cleansing. 

We all have the capability to find answers to our questions and work on cleaning out sorrow in our hearts.  Sometimes it takes more time than we wish, and at other times we don’t know where to begin.  I think a few tears rather than slapping and hitting are definitely healthier answers.  This afternoon was our turn to sit together, holding hands and yes…tears came.  Half a bucket-full – not a whole bucket-full.  I hope that we’ll begin to feel a little better.  That would be nice.

Pain Management

Over the last 3 years I have heard much conversation and read a lot about “pain management.”  …sounds like a great idea to me.  So, why can’t I find it?!

***

I do know that every chronic or long-term patient has thought about it. You just can’t get through your day without thinking about how best to combat pain.

***

Unconsciously I bite the inside of my mouth when pain gets the upper hand. . .I think it’s because by causing pain in another area of my body, it minimizes the pain in my gut and other areas on my body that are painful – so, biting the inside of my mouth kind of distracts me.

***

Think about this: if you had lung cancer and were going through a lot of suffering because of that, you would try like heck to make the pain go away, right?!  So, I think it’s probably normal for us to try to distract ourselves from chronic, harsh pain.  And, if you can’t get the right medicines immediately, our natural inclination is to do anything in our power to Stop The Pain!

Friendship-Always Good for the Soul!

Friendship-Always Good for the Soul!

What are your favorite coping methods?  I would love to hear from you and find out about what works for others…Here are some of mine:

  • Rocking
  • Re-visit some of my favorite places in my mind (particularily scuba diving spots that stand out in my memory) 
  • Writing Lists of Fun Things I Have Done and then re-reading the list. (thanks for that one, Mark!)  Funny, but I revisit this list and can always add to it
  • Stub My Toe (Diverting my mind to another part of my body)
  • Talking and Listening to my Husband
  • Calling a Friend
  • Have a Good Cry – – I mean a big, loud and blubbering cry some where nobody else will hear me

***

What are your favorite coping mechanisms?  Inquiring minds want to know!

***

This morning my “pain medicine” will consist of roling over in bed and snuggling with Richard.  It’s a little after 6am and after being up any period of time, I find the pain starts rocking my little world no matter how much morphine I take or how many pain relieving patches I slap on my body!  This morning my vote is to snuggle.

What Happens to People with Uranium Poisoning

The effects of the poisoning are often extremely violent both suddenly physically and emotionally.  For instance; dateline this morning at 4:02 a.m. – I awoke to hearing Richard vomiting in the toilet.  His retching was strong and violent along with tears.  Grabbing a washcloth, I wet it down and held it to his forehead with another one on the back of his neck.  With my third arm I grabbed a clean towel (didn’t know I had one, did you?).  Laying the towel over his back, I re-wet a wash cloth and cleaned his face.  The retching doesn’t stop for about 10 to 15 minutes.  I murmer encouragement and put a little Gold Bond powder on Richard’s back. 

***

With my fourth hand I muddle through the pill drawer and locate a diazapam and two light-duty sleeping pills.  Oh, yes, and three Lomotil….because at this point, Richard certainly can’t take any Tincture of Opium.  He is back and forth on the toilet with tears and hurting badly. 

***

He cries just like I do when an attack hits – man, woman, child, adult…this is hell.  After about 30 minutes, the effects wane, and Richard settles back down into the bed uneasily – worrying a little that he’s going to begin throwing up again.  I hold him and talk softly to him … hoping that he can settle down soon.

***

We worry a lot about running out of medicines to calm the gut and our emotions.  You do what you must.  Sometimes we just lay on the bed or on the floor and rock . . . and yes, we pray.

***

Knowing that the pain and hurt isn’t going away – – this is our life; settles into our heart — it hurts.  We have each other to take each other: that’s it. That hurts too.

***

We love each other and we care for each other.  How grateful we are for each other.  It will never get better. 

***

Just two days ago I was in the same boat as Richard.  And, he was here for me.

Compassion

It seems these days we don’t have an opportunity to see, feel, and hear much compassion in others.  Perhaps childlishly (or not!) I avoid watching television news lately…I don’t find much compassion or caring there.  Lots of makeup, beautiful hairstyles, and clothing though….

Last night I caught a moment of a newscaster reading the teleprompter with a pasted-on smile, seeming to be rather delighted to be at work….reporting a killing of a small child.  That scares the heck out of me.  Both the smile and the news.  Where is our compassion and feeling for each other?  Have we lost it all?

I get the feeling that we humans have really been making a mess of things lately.

Looking back in my past, I am ashamed to remember the times that I displayed my anger AND lack of compassion for others – and that bothers me because I know anger gets me nowhere positive – that’s for sure.  But, jeez, that doesn’t mean that I need to grin and tell the news…it means that I need to wake up, smell the coffee and reach out with compasson to

Friends

Friends = Happiness

those around me who need help.  I hope that as the world changes, it may change for the better – – compassion would surely be a great place to begin

– – – – – –

This little story below stopped me dead in my tracks one day and I’ve been hanging on to it for awhile…I think you’ll agree: it has a great message for all of us!.

During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy. ~Joann C. Jones

– – – –

Compassion, Friendship, Kindness . . . We Need Those Attributes More Than Anything in Our Lives! Be a Friend, Give Graciously, and Life Will be Bring us More Happiness…

Thank you to all of our family and friends who have been helping us through these days of helplessness we have felt over the past several years.

Mark and Debbie

Mark and Debbie - Compassion and Friendship - Thank you for sharing your friendship through all these years!!

What is Dignity?

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beauty and dignity

Beauty and Dignity

Dignity means different things to different people.  Since sliding down this slope of  illness, I’ve discovered some interesting things – one being that dignity is an important element of our souls, the friendships that we may have, the home we live in, the ability to do what we want – when we want. 

…and I guarantee that dignity means different things to me than it does to you! 

Simply put, as a woman myself, I believe most women want to look pretty and attractive.  This means our hair is combed nicely, our nails are perhaps painted an attractive color without icky cuticles, we’re wearing clothing without holes, and we simply look pretty!  Ah yes, a spray of Channel No. 5 is a perfect addition to my concept of dignity!

Dignity to one of my closest friends means having the ability to smile and not be embarrassed because she’s missing her front teeth.  We had a quiet, sad conversation one afternoon about this.  I had no idea that she was suffering so much because of her dental problems.  This ISN’T JUST A PROBLEM – this is a complete loss of dignity to her.  When we finished talking, I laid down in bed and thought long and hard about this elusive thing called DIGNITY. 

Each of us have our own priorities in life, and have desires that mean a great deal to us.  It can be as simple as having a quiet bed in the corner of a room without being stared at.  Mother Teresa caught on to that concept quickly, didn’t she?  In fact, I think she was one of the inventors of dignity!

Years ago I remember having an episode similar to an epileptic seizure, and as the ambulance  driver and helper dragged me into the emergency room – hyped up on their own adrenaline of the moment,  they neglected to size up the situation in a humanitarian, dignified manner. 

They plopped me right in the middle of the hallway, stripped my dirty, thread-bare back-tied gown off in front of everyone and began to work.  Thankfully a young nurse came over, whispered something quietly  to them and helped them roll my gurney and my embarrassed naked body into a room with drapes around the area.  Bless her heart. She saw and understood “Dignity.” 

When we help someone else, always provide dignifty with your help - do it right!

When we help someone else, always provide dignity with your help - do it right!

I  hope those ambitious ambulance workers learned just a little something that evening – it will help them and the patients they’re paid to help. The situation didn’t warrant the embarrassment that occurred, but I chalked it up to “a learning situation.”  Lucky for them I was so ill, there was no physical backlash!

Whatever the case, it made me realize that dignity comes in all sorts of forms.  Including, even, how we may treat a “hobo” or homeless person on the street sitting out back of the local 7-Eleven…not knowing if they’re going to make it out of that back alley alive or for that matter, make it through the night alive.

Death and Dignity do go hand in hand.  Prolonged illness that leads to death often makes the patient feel more conscious of things we may not have thought of before.  The fact that we can’t do simple things anymore is embarrassing…even to discuss with someone else who is close to us. 

Imagine not being able to change a lightbulb, walk down the stairs at home without assistance, remember to take the right pills at the right time each day?   …and just a year ago, you were a working scientist…

Side-affects of medicines can leave us having to deal with ugly, seeping scales on our skin, make it a chore to walk straight, take our eyesight away, and so many other weird things that can happen to us mentally, physically, or emotionally.

I know one fellow who admitted to me that he cries daily.  And, the saddest part: He cries after he goes out to his garage while sitting in his car in the garage (oh, by the way…he can’t drive again – they took his driver’s license away.)  He doesn’t feel comfortable allowing his family to be a part of his sorrow and loss of dignity.

Dignity is a fragile thing.  And, different for everyone of us.   We owe it to ourselves to try to understand what it is for ourselves and others as we go down the pathway to the end of our lives. 

I’m trying to learn how to understand this complex and fragile part of my life.  It’s an interesting subject and a wee bit karmic…

Get to know your feelings, and appreciate the importance of them to you! 

And, by the way, I would recommend that you respect those around you, no matter what their condition is – sick or well – stomping on dignity or playing any part of hurting another human being isn’t going to help you, them, or the world at large!  (You knew that already, didn’t you!).

 

Dignity, Love, and Serenty

Dignity can come in many forms...whatever form - use the love in your heart to comfort that person who needs your love and help!

Death and Dignity go hand in hand in a billion ways.  Dignity permeates the entire issue of death.

Ultimately, if we as a society, do not insist that dignity accompanies the process of death, we have lost track of HUMANITY

 

Mending Fences

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I believe one of the most difficult things to do is the simple act of forgiveness.  I know, I know…I can hear you say, “nah, that’s not difficult. . . I let things go all the time.”  But, do we really, really “let go?”  Forgiveness of others is perhaps a bit easier, but over the past several years I’ve come to realize that forgiveness of myself is not an easy feat.
 
Letting go of past mistakes, mis-placed anger…forgiveness of self…that’s tougher than it sounds.  We are our own best critics.  And, some of us have had years of practice! 
 
One thing I’d like to do before I die is to forgive everyone who has hurt me and forgive myself for wanting to drop kick that person who hurt me!  But perhaps the buttt needing kicked is my own.
 
Hold the hand of that lost friend

Hold that hand of your lost friend - if we could all learn to do this more often, we'll feel better for it!

As the clock ticks and the years have piled up, so have our mis-understandings and arguements with others.  Right now I’m trying to take this time in my life to forgive, forget, and let go of anger.  If you are like us, and know there’s limited time to live, now is a wonderful time to end the discomfort of hatred and anger.

Did you ever see The Bucket List?  ….a superb movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as the major players, this movie was a touchstone for many people.  It had a terrific message besides being blessed with a great cast.  There were several great lessons throughout the movie, once you got past the obvious – two older fellows who had things left “un-done” and a bit of time left on earth to do those things they needed to do for themselves and others.

Number one on my list of mending fences is to mend my own fence in my own heart.  Forgive myself.  Let it go.  Know that I am an “okay” person!

Number two on my list of mending fences is to face the people I have wronged in the past and ask for their forgiveness.  And while I’m at it, not repeat the same stupid or heartless thing!  So, while we whimper to ourselves about our impending death, perhaps we should turn it around.  Let’s try to be a little grateful for the time we’ve been given to make things right with that old friend who we blew off, the guy that we thought ripped us off, and people who we have held grudges with through the years.  All that baggage can go away . . . we have the control and time to clean up our messes!

Apologize

Apologize (flowers - optional!)

Funny thing about holding on to grudges.  Usually the only person hurt by the grudge or anger is yourself…the other person wasn’t suffering…YOU were!  Take the power you have and make it stop.  You’ll sleep better at night – I guarantee it.