Monday, October 17, 2016

Ella Chase

I was driving to Atria the other day and listening to NPR and heard the most fascinating story.  It was so fascinating, I sat in the car after I'd parked to listen to more of it...then came home and found the recording on line at RadioLab and listened to the whole thing.

These two guys were driving south from San Francisco when one got excited and said that he saw a goat standing on a cow.  The other pulled the car over and they went and indeed find a goat standing on a cow.  As soon as they began to approach, the goat leaped down but they were standing in a field and when they looked around, there seemed to be letters scattered all over the place.

When they started picking up the letters, they found they were all addressed to someone named Ella Chase and seemed to all be from soldiers.

They picked up the letters and ut them in the box they seemed to have blown out of and took them home, determined to find who this Ella Chase was and whether they could return her letters to her.

Out of this accidental discovery has come a lifelong passion for one of the guys who found them. 
He started doing research to find out who Ella Chase was.  He searched all sorts of public records and it was not until months later that he found an obituary for her in the Napa newspaper.  The obituary had the names of several of her surviving relatives.  He managed to contact one relative, who wasn't interested at all.

During the process of his search, he found record of her maybe (or maybe not) marrying.  He started following that line.  He somehow found the name of her maybe husband and then found a newspaper article where there was some sort of kerfuffle, where he was married and denies ever marrying Ella.
Shortly after that, Ella started writing letters to soldiers fighting in World War II.  The letters in this collection they found were letters from the soldiers, many of whom referred to er as "mom" and expressed such warmth and gratitude for her letters and for her support.

Eventually they found her obituary, which listed family members and they tried to get in touch with them.   I think it as a cousin they called, who was't interested at all, but they found a guy they thought must be her grandson and called him, leaving a call back number.  They didn't hear from him.

Eventually he did call back and said that he thought the box they found had fallen off of is truck when he was moving to Southern California.  They had a nice conversation and he said that he also had a big box of photographs they might like to have.

The point of the story is how it all started by seeing a goat standing on a cow and out of it this whole passion and search began.  And it has given Ella Chase some sort of immortality and recognition for her kindness to support the fighting troops.

This has been a good week for my mother. (Isn't it nice to read that for a change?)

I think the medication is finally starting to kick in.  She still seems to have pain when she tries to get up, but she doesn't complain or seem to be suffering most of the time.  And it may be the medication that is making her loopy. We have had long conversations lately, all of them kind of fun because she makes no sense whatever.  Sometimes she knows who I am, sometimes she thinks I'm her sister.  I think she recognizes me and then she'll say something like "how is Mom?" when I will stop and ask her if she knows my name and she doesn't, thpugh she recognizes that I'm family and she loves me.

She doesn't talk gibberish, but she talks nonsense, asking questions or making observations that make no sense whatever, but she believes them and it's kind of fun to go along with her.  I just follow along with whatever she says, asking question about how she'd do this or that, what she wants to move, etc.  We often laugh when she can't come up with an answer.

One of the best things I ever did was putting her into the assisted living program.  She wasn't ready for it (and would not have qualified for long term care insurance payments) if I had done it earlier, but now that she is on, there are people in and out of her apartment all day long, checking on this or that, giving her meds, etc. She has always been a social person and now she has someone to talk to several times a day.

Not only that, but I know she is eating regularly and that she's getting her meds on a regular schedule. AND, what may be even ore important, knowing that she is getting attention, I don't feel the need to go and visit her every day and consequently I enjoy going to Atria more than I did when I felt I had to be there (almost) every day.

I don't know how long this situation is going to last, but I'm certainly enjoying it right now.

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