"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Mom Martha is home again

Here's Martha Williams in her days managing the UMM post office.
The friends of Martha H. Williams will be happy to know she's home again. The past month and a half has been a real odyssey for her. I probably shouldn't share specifics about her health challenges, but I'll note that pneumonia in one lung was a highly complicating factor.
I give a grade of A-plus to the medical personnel of SCMC. Dr. Rapp of the Starbuck Clinic attended to her when her situation seemed most precarious. Dr. Lunzer attended to her during an emergency one evening where 4-5 nurses worked with her to temper the situation. I honestly thought she might die.
It was helpful for me that a high school classmate of mine was at SCMC with his mother at the same time. I won't type his name for privacy reasons. Though I won't list my mother's issues, I'll just say they were typical for someone of advanced age.
Dr. Rapp suggested a rehabilitation stay at a nursing home. I guess there wasn't room at our local nursing home. So it was off to Barrett, a situation that I at first wasn't enthused about. The daily commute wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The highway to the north is nice and smooth, having been worked on. I was careful to stay under 60 MPH and that's a good thing because I saw several "Smokeys" along the road. More than once I saw them turn their lights on, for a motorist other than me. Maybe the smooth highway tempts people to speed.
It has always been a problem in outstate Minnesota, on a smooth, lightly traveled highway on a sunny day, to get a "lead foot." It happens almost without awareness. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Cruise control solves that. But sometimes you have to disengage that to deal with other vehicles.
I remember once I was just east of Cyrus in the Sun Tribune van when a Smokey did a U-turn and pulled me over. I got just a warning. But the experience was chafing because the officer scolded me rather seriously because of something I did as he pulled me over. I reached to the floor of the van. I did that because I often chose to put my wallet on the floor of the van, so as not to have to sit on it during an out of town drive. The Smokey must be disturbed by that because, in his mind, I might be reaching for a weapon? The thought wouldn't cross my mind. I've never lived in Chicago.
In the 1970s I got several speeding citations, what I would attribute - we all have excuses - to spending a fair amount of time on the Interstate at that stage in my life. I drove my prize 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado which we got from Bill Dripps.
Careful as I am now, it is hard to maintain the proper discipline 100 percent of the time, out here in peaceful rural Minnesota where the traffic can be light and we have wide open spaces. But heavens I'm no Bill Janklow with my attitudes about this.
So, Mom and I spent time at the Barrett Care Center, following Dr. Rapp's directive or suggestion. It really was essential. It was harrowing for a time and then Mom, as she has always done in the past, stabilized. At present her condition is tender and I would not say she's completely out of the woods. But if past is precedent, she will be OK for the foreseeable future, maybe even improve more. It's so satisfying to note, yet it subjects me as the caregiver to no small amount of stress. I'm sure the health care professionals consider me a "helicopter" family member, to the point I need a little counseling sometimes. I'm inclined to think that family caregivers don't get enough empathy.
The drive between Morris and Barrett is an interesting one. It's certainly not like the drive between Glenwood and Sauk Centre! On Highway 59 we enjoy the sight of Pomme de Terre River and its lakes to the east. To the west we view the substantial wind farm.
All my life I have been struck by the rather odd entrance to Barrett. The road splits up with each portion having two lanes. So do I bear to the left or stay on the right? Frankly, a town the size of Barrett should not have confusing intersections.
The Barrett Care Center is a pretty ambitious facility. On the whole I was pleased. But I felt considerable anxiety over what the timetable for my mother's discharge would be. I was misled more than once. I began considering enlisting an attorney. I was worried the staff would set the bar too high, as it were, for approving discharge. I got nervous other whether my mother would have to stay there just because of having a bad day or a bad session with physical therapy.
My mother was rather "up and down" with her condition as you might well imagine with someone her age recovering from a bad health bout. She was having a bad day when I took her to Morris to see her personal physician once. So, any enthusiasm I might share about the Barrett Care Center is tempered by what I had to go through. Finally we got official word about her impending release. I made sure Mom truly wanted to go home. She made it clear. We do have home care provisions through Knute Nelson.
My mother showed an interesting trait through all her recent health travail: she reverted back to speaking the Swedish language, the original language she learned. Her parents emigrated from Sweden. Mom grew up in Brainerd which was a company town with the railroad at the time. She played with the band at ceremonies in connection to the Brainerd National Guard being called for duty in World War II. It's a tragic story because the Guardsmen were captured by the Empire of Japan in the Philippines.
Douglas MacArthur said "I shall return." He should have said "we shall return." MacArthur was greeted with a parade after he was fired by Harry Truman. But he flopped miserably when trying to run for president. My late father said "Americans were afraid he'd get us into another war." We too often associate our experience in WWII with glory and success. Truth be told, war is all hell.
I wish to acknowledge a nurse at Barrett Care Center who I thought was so totally capable and warm with her nature, all the time. Her name is Melissa. I don't know her last name. I will miss seeing her. I'll also warmly remember the house cat named "Jingles." I remember at our Morris Public Library, early when Melissa Yauk was here, they tried having a house cat. All it took was one complaint to end that. How unfortunate.
It is possible based on Mom's track record that she will continue improving. Of course we don't know - only the Lord knows. My father reached age 96. I would say they've done OK.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com 


  1. Thanks for the Update. Many of the neighbors were hoping the Best for you and your Mom!! She is a very sweet lady. Will you get meals on wheels?? Call if you need any help! Londa

  2. The reason for the # of smokies north of town is that one of them lives just west of Hoffman. #59 is frequented by Stevens Cty transfers to jail- that would be the white ones. Glad Martha is back!