Day #112 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Adding comfort for the end of days for a loved one…Seashells from a beach in Australia…

The Aztec-type lines in this shell are unique, found on a beach in Australia five years ago.

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Today’s photos are from July 13, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.
Had we been anywhere else in the world in a COVID-19 free world, I have no doubt I would have flown back to the US for a few weeks to say goodbye to my dear sister Susan in person.
This shell had a rough exterior.

When I last saw her in Las Vegas, Nevada, in December 2019, and we hugged goodbye on the last of my many visits, we both cried when she said, “This will be the last time we see each other.” 

I shook my head, insisting, “No, no, no! We’ll see each other again! We’ll be back to visit again before you know it.” In the back of my mind, I knew I could be so wrong. 

This shell appeared to have an eye looking at us.

And now, as her time nears, I almost wish I would have accepted that reality at that time, when now, during these impossible circumstances, I know I’ll never see her again. Thankfully, we’ve both already expressed our love for one another, even going as far as expressing all the reasons we’ve loved each other throughout our lives.

Like most siblings, we had occasional ups and downs, during childhood but as adults, we became closer, relying on one another as the years passed.

This shell was an exciting find.

She lived a tumultuous life consisting of notable success while receiving considerable respect for her outstanding business acumen. And then, over the past 15 years or so, her health tumbled out of control with chronic conditions, leaving her a near invalid, lying in bed 24 hours a day, with countless situations, ingesting multitudes of prescribed medications with little to no hope of returning to a productive, meaningful way of life.

There’s never been a time we didn’t stay in close touch. Since we began our travels in 2012, I called her at least once a week, if not more, and we engaged in thought-provoking conversations often interspersed with outrageous laughter leaving us in tears. 

This shell stood alone for its unique texture and color.

As her health and memory deteriorated in the past months, our conversations became short when she had little strength to engage in lively banter. All I could do was tell her I loved her and let her know I was thinking about her every day.

As the dementia worsened, I would often remind her we were in lockdown in India to understand why I was not at her side. She seems to grasp this concept and sounds content to hear my voice.

An intriguing three shells.

This past week, my sister Julie and Susan’s daughter Kely, both living in California, were tested for COVID-19 and drove to Las Vegas, staying in a nearby hotel, well-gloved and masked, and visited her each day. The nursing/hospice facility where she is living only has 10 patients and they haven’t had a single case of the virus.

Under these particular circumstances, with proof of their health, Julie and Kely were allowed to visit Susan all day over eight days, creating a familiar environment to provide Susan with some comfort. 

The variance in color makes the shells particularly interesting to find.

They visited her storage facility finding pictures, wall hangings, and treasured items. They proceeded to fill the walls of her private room with a lifetime of memorabilia, all of which made the sterile, single space feel more like a home than a hospital room.

They helped her in preparing the necessary “end of life” documents, including medical directives, posted on the wall to ensure the staff would know exactly what to do “when the time comes.”

This was one of the more giant shells we discovered.

My phone number is posted in large letters on the wall, stating that I am her “middle of the night contact” should she awaken and need to talk or feel frightened. She seemed aware of this when I spoke to her this morning. With the time difference here, her middle of the night would be our middle of the day. 

Knowing she can call during the night when she’s scared or wants to hear a familiar voice gives her great comfort. During the daylight hours (while we’re sleeping), she can call Julie and Kely. We’ve got it covered around the clock. 

These three were similar. The next day, we returned all the shells to the beach where we found them.

This isn’t easy for any of us with loved ones in poor health, with COVID-19, in nursing homes, those requiring surgery and tests in hospitals or even, dealing with the ravages of the virus in lockdown in their own homes. 

The issues of senior/disability care have become all the more pronounced during these challenging times. And yet, our emotions and love remain firmly in place to ease our loved ones through these sorrowful phases of life.

May you and your loved ones find peace, comfort, and love together now and always.

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2019:

“Do you have any carrots?” asks this Connemara Pony in Ireland one year ago today. For more photos, please click here.

Day #110 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Are there benefits to living in this lockdown?…Looking on the bright side!

This scene took our breath away at the Cairns Tropical Zoo. This mother Koala with her “joey” in her pouch is the name for all marsupial offspring. A Koala joey is the size of a jellybean with no hair, no ears, and is blind at birth. Joeys crawl into the mother’s pouch immediately after birth, staying there until about six months old.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 11, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

As stated in today’s heading, “Are, there benefits to living in this lockdown?” The seeming preposterous question may elicit head-shaking and laughter. But, when a reader wrote, commending us for our resiliency, they asked this very question, adding that perhaps some benefits contribute to our staying relatively upbeat. 

The natural bond between moms and their offspring is always precious to observe. Many visitors gathered around this area in awe of the experience.

These benefits generally are expected and relevant while living in most holiday homes. During the pandemic, we could easily have been deprived of these items, and based on the fact we have not been deprived, we are very grateful.

They were both checking out the action. Koalas eat as much as 1000 eucalyptus leaves per day. 

We thank the reader for their kind observation and comments. Without a doubt, some factors make this peculiar scenario tolerable, preventing us from banging our heads on the wall in sheer frustration. 

Jasmine, Tom and Koala’s mom, and joey named Violet after ten years devoted employee Jasmine’s daughter. 

With tongue in cheek, I’ll answer this question, asking Tom for input regarding his perceptions as well but will combine our answers in the following:

1. We have quality air-con, keeping the room cool and humidity-free day and night
2.  Strong signal Wi-Fi with rare issues
3.  We don’t have to do dishes, make the bed or clean the room
4.  The shower water is hot and dependable
5.  We have an electric kettle and can make coffee and tea using the included supplies
6.  Staff is friendly and competent, and quick to respond to issues or concerns
7.  We can easily stream media using our HDMI cord
8.  We can purchase toiletries and miscellaneous from Amazon India
9.  There are comfortable chairs for each of us
10. The food, although repetitive, is tasty is well prepared. We recently mentioned the temperature was not hot enough, and they now bring our food in a portable warmer. This helps.
11. Prescription drugs available without a doctor’s prescription
12. Fresh white bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, and toilet tissue are provided daily with fresh bedding every three days. Some toiletries are provided.
13. Comfortable bedding and mattress. No dust mites.
14. Long corridors enable us to walk long distances each day in air-conditioned comfort. I am now up to almost three miles/five km per day. Tom walks less of a distance, but he also does the stairs, which I avoid due to the risk of falling.

Ironically, one of our favorite wild animals at the Cairns Tropical Zoo was the Dingo, looking familiar to us as a domesticated dog.  However, Dingos are wild animals, and many attempts to domesticate them have failed. 

While refilling my monthly container with vitamins and three prescription drugs, I noticed I was quickly running out of medication for hypertension. I brought the empty package down to the reception desk to ask their assistance in getting enough of this particular drug to last for the next nine months. 

Prescriptions for such medications are not required in India. Within 48 hours, the pills arrived, 600 tablets of which I take two per day for INR 6000, US $79.83, considerably less than I’d pay in most countries. I have two more medications I’ll order in equal amounts before we leave India. This is an excellent benefit without the necessity of seeing a doctor, which during COVID-19 would be risky.

The Wildlife Wedding Chapel on the ground of the zoo is a popular venue for weddings.  Please click here for details.

Our ability to maintain a positive attitude in this confined situation is in part based on the availability of the above-listed points. But, in looking back, we’ve been in situations where we’ve had only a few of the listed items, and we managed fine. Of course, at those times, we had freedom, the outdoors, fresh air, home-cooked meals, and no thoughts or concerns about getting a life-threatening virus.

Stay safe. Appreciate. Adapt. Share. Keep moving. Social distance. Wear a mask. Eat healthy foods. Think good thoughts. Love. 

Photo from one year ago today, July 11, 2019:

Beautiful Connemara pony. For more photos, please click here.

Day #109 in lockdown Mumbai, India hotel…Ongoing heartbreaking situation with my sister…

We searched online but couldn’t find the name of this grass or weed. This is commonly found along the highways and country roads in this and other areas of Australia.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site shortly, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you. 

Today’s photos are from July 10, 2015, while in Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia. See the link here for more details.

Many of our readers have written kindly inquiring about how my sister Susan is doing after I posted about her failing health while living in a nursing home in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

It sunny day at the beach.

This week, her daughter Kely and my sister Julie have been visiting her each day, sorting out all of her papers, end-of-life directives, and making her single room in the nursing home look more friendly by hanging some of her favorite pictures, family collages, and photos.

Digging through her storage space, they found many of her favorite things, many of which she’s been asking about for months. She moved into this 10-bed nursing facility many months ago, which provides exceptional care when it was impossible for her to continue to live in an assisted living facility.

The boat launch at Holloways Beach, leading to a river that leads to the sea. That’s not an animal hanging from the tree, just an unusual root clump.

At this point, she is bedridden and has been placed into palliative/hospice care with no hope for improvement or recovery. How long she will last is unknown at this point and seems to us predicated by how long she is willing to hang on.

Finally, her facility allowed masked, gloved, and face-shielded visitors. They have not had a single case of COVID-19. It has given me great comfort to know Kely and Julie could be with her now. The isolation all these months have been unbearable for her.

This sign painted on the paved road at the boat launch says, “Be croc wise in croc country.” It would be terrifying to encounter a croc while launching a boat into the water.

Sadly, her memory is failing by the hour, and she can only recall snippets of her long-ago life and little, if anything, about recent events. Dementia/Alzheimer’s has set in gradually over the years but has become more evident these past few months.

Over the years of world travel, I have called her every week to touch base and share wonderful travel stories with her. As a former world traveler herself, we often laughed over the irony of the same places we visited and the stories that followed.

Unknown variety of flowers.

About a month ago, when I called, she could hardly speak and had little cognizance of who I was. This prompted Kely and Julie to visit her once again from their respective homes in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. 

The last time I saw Susan was in December 2019 when Tom and I visited Las Vegas for almost two weeks, during which we stayed with son Richard, and I called her nearly every day, making the two-hour round-trip drive from Henderson to North Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The pile of huge rocks appeared to have been placed at the edge of the rainforest to keep people out. 

During this week, Kely and Julie organized everything she needed to be prepared for life’s end and make her all the more comfortable. At this point, there’s no benefit from any additional medical care. She’s taking numerous medications that keep her pain-free and as comfortable as possible.

Of course, I wish I could be with her now. Even if she doesn’t recall that I’ve called her, I will continue to call every few days, just to say, “I love you.” She sleeps most of the day and only awakens for short periods to take a few bites of food. She’s at a point now, where she cannot lift a spoon or fork to her mouth.

An attractive beachfront house as we drove along the beach road.

As I write this today, many of you will relate to this sorrowful situation. Many of us have been through this in the past with loved ones and sadly will face it again as we age and care for aging parents, siblings, and other family members.

The process of working our way through this most challenging time in our history along with dealing with the sorrow of losing beloved family members and friends is heart-wrenching for all of us.

This root-laden tree is unusual, reminding us of Banyan trees in Hawaii, although with smaller roots.

May we all find comfort in the love and companionship we share with our loved ones and with one another during these times and into the future. Thank you, dear readers, for your compassion and concern.

Photo from one year ago today, July 10, 2019:

As we drove from Connemara, Ireland to the small town of Roundstone, with a population of 214, we were impressed by the design of the colorful properties on the main road. For more photos, please click here.