Tag Archives: Michigan

Early Summer

Summer Arts 2009

Well I missed both Summer and Winter Arts fairs in 2008 .. my head space just wasn’t open to much of anything.

Dad’s passing has been a heart drama even though I knew he was going.

This year I mark Summer Arts as the first of many, I hope, revivals of my spirit. It was a warm and (finally) sunny day. So many friends and folks I only see once or twice a year where there. Good connections many.
Especially great to see Joellen who has migrated to Brooklyn, NY for the last years or so.

And so many people I know have lost a parent just recently, friends Sharon, Charlie, and Rob lost their mothers (all with in the past month). And there are more. I guess it is our age, and the ages of our parents, that this is to be. As Charlie said to me, “We are now the old ones..!” I guess I wasn’t really ready to accept that..even though it is true.

I have been back home now since May 21. The first 2 weeks, I was so ‘not grounded here’ at all. It is getting better now. The garden is doing great and I will have some photos soon. Russel only has 2 school classes left until fall, and he leaves for Aikido summer camp next Sunday. I am trying to pull myself ‘out of the funk’ of grief and to enjoy the life we have, but I still wake with lots of anxiety and do wonder why. Also, attempting to ‘reconnect’ and solidify the relationships I have with friends.

When I was in Michigan with Dad and Sue, and all my Dad’s brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, nieces and nephews and friends and neighbors.. it was constant visits … there was hospice and home health care nurses, and people stopping by really one after another all day and evening. There was always someone to do anything Sue needed done.. and there still is.

Family, living close to one another and family being true friends, that is what Dad had there. I have that there as well, but I am here and although I have friends … the ‘net’ doesn’t feel as strong as what I experienced in Michigan. So perhaps that is a bit of my anxiety, the reality of aging, and wondering all of the ‘what ifs?’.


Bob Kensler R.I.P

Dad took his last breathe Sunday evening May 10 at 8:10pm.

My Dad - Bob Kensler

Wave on wave of life
Like the great wide ocean’s roll
Haunting hands of memory
Pluck silver strands of soul
The damage and the dying done
The clarity of light
Gentle bows and glasses raised
To the charity of night
~~~Bruce Cockburn


Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.


Waiting Is

I have been in Michigan since April 26th now.

Dad’s fall on Easter eve (April 11) that landed him in the hospital with broken bones in his neck was the real start of the decline, being confined to a bed.

He was able to talk to me and the dozens of family and friends who have been visiting here. He even got all his brothers and sisters together last Saturday and declared that the day was “a great day”.

But that took a lot of energy and it’s been down hill since then.

Now he is in his last days. No eating, drinking barely a couple of ounces of water. Started morphine on Monday 4th.

I will be staying here now until he passes and the memorial is over.
Don’t really know how long a time that will be.
And I need to get Russel here, but he doesn’t have weeks he can spend just waiting here.
So Waiting is… and i am learning that lesson yet again.

Here’s a photo of Dad, Sue and her new puppy. Dad finally relented and let her have a dog.

Dad and Sue and puppy

There is so much going on that I am not writing here, maybe one day I will put more of it on paper.


Going to Michigan Again

I am getting ready to go back to Michigan and visit Dad. This time flying alone, Russel needs to stay here and work while school is still on. Not having Russel to power me through the airports will be very different.. I haven’t flown alone in over 20 years. Funny how dependent we get on one another.

Dad is done with treatments, and getting weaker all the time. He still is eating and walking slowly, but having a hard time getting up from a chair. He is clear headed and we talk every couple of days. But how long he will stay in this place is anyone’s guess.

They don’t know if the last round of radiation helped shrink the brain tumors, and won’t even do a scan for another month. Meanwhile the spots on his lungs have grown. The writing is on the wall I guess.

Home Health are coming in now 4x a week for a few hours
in the morning to help with bathing and such. Sue is handling most everything else.

My being there will mostly help me I think.. they are fine and family is abundant, but I only have one Dad, and I would like to see him at least one more time while he still can laugh and be with me.

So I leave April 25 – May 9 unless I need to stay longer. Sue keeps saying he isn’t dying yet, but I am not so sure.

I wanted to book this general time in February, but at that point Dad was improving fast and really thought he would be out planting his garden and mowing the lawn this year.

So I wish I had (booked then) as I wanted to catch a Bruce Cockburn show in Ann Arbor at the Ark on the 20th. But trying to book so late I couldn’t get a flight that met my needs until the 25..oh well. I do hope he makes it to California sometime this year.


Christmas in Michigan

Well it snowed a lot. It was below freezing many days we were there. Ice storms and snow.

Russel Wisby

Sue had us doing a puzzle for her.

Sue Kensler and Russel Wisby

Anything to keep us distracted from what was really happening with Dad. Although he was doing pretty good considering all he had been though.

It was a good trip but glad to get home.

Bob Kensler and Bobbi Kensler Wisby

Brother John and his girls, Laurie and Kelly did make it down for a visit.

The Kensler's

Paddle Out for Randy Today

Going to Michigan .. again

The ‘paddle out’ for Randy is today. We are in a winter storm warning.. with rain snow and freezing temps. I hope everyone makes it over the hill safely. A lot of the Aikido family and Randy’s surf family will be there.

Russel has been sick with a chest cold for over a week now. Today is his birthday and he still feels punky. But he is going to the paddle-out.

I have been making all the travel arrangements and contingency plans for being able to get out of here and to Arcata to catch a flight on Tuesday 16. Flying into Salt Lake City then Detroit.

We will be at Dad’s Dec 16-Dec 28. I am hoping my nieces show up at some point and my brother. Dad is eating better now and we just hope for improvement in energy and well being.

To all who may come here:
Hold those you love close. Enjoy each minute as your last.
Happy Solstice !! (early )


Michigan July 2008

You can pretty much read this post and get what Michigan was.

I am always glad to see family and especially fun to see Dad and Sue.
This year got to meet great-niece Lauren who is just a delightful engaging young woman. I hope we can get to know each other through emails.

Lauren Brown

I did get to see niece, Laurie (17) and she is a beautiful as ever. I am so glad brother John brought her down from Alpena to visit while I was there.

Also had dinner and a visit with Lauren’s grandparents, Scott and Donna. Now how this works is my sister (who died at 31 in 1985) had a son with Scott, this is Jamey, and Lauren is his daughter. Scott and I were in school together, he is the only person from my graduation class of 1970 that I still have contact with. It was really good to visit with them awhile. Time is always too short.

My old friend Darlene also came to visit. I am so glad she did. We go back to the 70’s as well. She has been my friend longer than any other. Her life is good, she is a grandmother now and totally into that sweetness.

The thing I am not speaking too much of is Dad’s cancers, both melanoma (neck and shoulder area) which he has had roughly 4 operations on.

And now squamous cell carcinoma in his throat/base of tongue. They have decided to do a 5 days/7 weeks of radiation on that.. the doctors say he should be able to beat it. I don’t know. He was much more active than I had thought he would be. But he doesn’t feel good at all, he is just doing what he can do till he can’t do it any more.

We did the usual 4th of July picnic out on the lake (these are from a few years ago..but it’s the same thing) with a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins. Good to catch up with them, it all seems so surreal at times though. Our life here is so very different than any ones back there.

The Return Trip

I had a total body break down at the end of the toxic Michigan stay.
Part was bad bed and pillow which caused an old injury to arm/shoulder to reappear. I couldn’t even raise my arm to dress, brush hair, eat (right arm). This started the last week we were there.
Not good. And the hives had started too. I try to eat as clean as food as possible, but …. any way for what ever reason my hands were swelling up. Then motel night 1.. got a severe sinus drip and intense whole body swelling.. took a antihistamine and knocked my self out for a few hours only. Got up at 4am.. flight at 6am.. worst airport food any where (Detroit).. got to Denver.. no time to get decent food there either. I did pack some stuff, but wasn’t good enough.

Got into Sacramento… smoke… fires..100 plus degrees… running on adrenalin by now. Russel just muscling me through to our car… the 4 runner battery was dead. Russel jumped started it and we went to Woodland and bought a battery. Ate some not so good pancakes and eggs and he wanted to keep going.. it was only 11 am here. So we drove on too Clear Lake (2+ hours) where I had booked a room (Best Western) in case we couldn’t drive all the way.

Good thing, I was about to lose it bad. Nice motel there .. and friendly staff. But I needed to eat, but felt total nausea, got R to get a baked potato from the motel eatery. What happened next was the total break down. Hives, rapid heart beat, head ache, dizzy, so much more… I told Russel to find out where an emergency room was cause I didn’t know if I would make it. I passed out at this point.

Good bed and we had our pillows, I woke up feeling better than I had in a few days. It doesn’t sound like much when writing this down, but I don’t ever remember having my system that stressed by something I still don’t know why.

It took several days before I was normal… other things I won’t mention here were happening too.

The sun came up like a red rubber ball in the Sacramento valley.
And went down as a red orange ball here in the hills. For some reason my camera wasn’t capturing the redness of the sun??


Spring 2008

Spring is here the daffodils and tulips are blooming as are the peach trees. Life should be sweet, and in many ways it is, but I am stressed in so many ways.

First off, Dad isn’t done with the cancer it is back and another surgery is planned for April 23. This time the surgeons are taking ALL the muscle left in his left shoulder.. why I am not sure seeings how the lumps of melanoma are in his neck ..but I am not there to ask all the questions. And they will do what ever the doc says is the best thing to do. Dad is afraid the cancer will spread to his brain, or eyes or ears..and I understand that. But after this surgery, he will have no use or movement with his left arm.

I did book flights back to Michigan last month. We will be gone end of June through early July. I would like to go back now.. or when he has surgery, but they ‘can handle it’ and I am sure would prefer I am not there.

I am on a hormonal roller coaster just now. But hope to end that all soon. I may stop the estrogen as well, but have to see how bad the hot flashes get again.

I have been working, a local woman who I have written about before, Estelle Fennell is running for Humboldt County 2nd district supervisor. I have made her a website.

Estelle Fennell

And I am working on a new version of Russel’s Aikido for Kids website.. this one will go live in a couple of weeks.

I did manage to see Prezident Brown a few weeks ago at the Mateel Community Center. It was a good show and I danced in a new dress! (Yes finally finding the rayon batik dresses I like really did lift my spirit a bit!!).

That’s pretty much it. All the usual spring projects and clean up and dump runs, and getting the garden ready, and figuring out what projects, if any are going to get done this summer. Our summer here won’t really start until middle of July! Yikes its so hot by then nothing much can get done. I hope Russel feels good enough and has enough energy to actually get some stuff done before school is out.. other wise, it mostly won’t I fear.