The Circle of Life has never been more present in my family’s life than it is at this time.
One definition of the Circle of Life is “Nature’s way of taking and giving back life to earth. It symbolizes the universe being sacred and divine. It represents the infinite nature of energy, meaning if something dies it gives new life to another.”
My father and me in 2018
I have come to see my father’s end as a new beginning because as my 91-year old father left this world, two children were born into my family; Marlena, our first grandchild, and a great grandson, Hayden, to my sister Ellen.
I believe the San Francisco Bay Area, with 7 million people, deserved to have a HDSA Chapter/Affiliate to support the local Huntington’s disease families.
I also had another reason in mind. Over the past three years, I’ve been bugging John to move to the San Francisco Bay Area to be closer to our children. I knew one day John would relent and he did last summer, when it was a brutally hot summer in Auburn CA.
Keith and Fran had their first child four months ago and will soon be in a home in Novato CA to grow their family. Vanessa and Scott bought a home in Petaluma, north San Francisco, and love it there.
So, we sold our house in Auburn CA and are building a 1200 sq. ft. home on Vanessa and Scott’s property in Petaluma and are temporarily living in our cabin in Lake Tahoe while it is being built.
We Can Never Lose HOPE….
Author Therese Crutcher-Marin
I’m a HD, Chair for HDSA San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate, an author and a blogger.
John and I have been helping Keith and Fran, with our three and a half month old granddaughter, Marlena, since Fran went back to work and still works remotely.
Last week as I sat on the couch holding her, amazed at her progress in just three months, I reminded myself to stay present, relaxing in the beauty of the moment. I consciously did not let my mind wander, like it usually does, but kept my focus on Marlena. As I focused my awareness on the present moment, my breathe slowed, my shoulders relaxed and I felt Marlena’s body relax against me. I breathed in her baby smell, kissed her cheek and squeezed her a little tighter, acknowledging the many blessings I have presently right in front of me.
One of the best tools to practice staying present is mindfulness. Mindfulness is essentially an accepting, open, non-judgmental and curious focus on one’s emotional, cognitive and sensory experience in the present moment. Simply put, mindfulness is present moment self-awareness.
It takes some concentration and the rewards you reap are wonderful.
We Can Never Lose HOPE….
I’m a Huntington’s Disease(HD) Advocate, Chair for HDSA San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate, a blogger and author or Watching Their Dance. My Author/HD Advocate Website
Author Therese Crutcher-Marin
Please make a donation to the nonprofit, Huntington’s Disease Society of America. You can help us in the fight to eradicate this horrific disease so no one has to suffer anymore. Donate here.
Even though we can’t, or shouldn’t, celebrate the birth of Christ with family and friends, I believe it’s a small price we pay to heal the world from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a sacrifice we, as human beings, do for one another.
I’m reminded that, as human beings, we all share the same sadness, the same hopes, the same potential. The pandemic has showed us how interdependent we are: what happens to one person can soon affect many others, even on the far side of our planet.
John and I are staying home for Christmas, like we did for Thanksgiving, even though we’re dying to see our children and friends. I’ve taken to remembering Christmas’s past with family and those memories will get me through this Holiday season.
The pictures are of from 2018 Christmas in Cortona Italy with Family.
My family celebrated my father, James Keith Crutcher’s, 91st birthday on November 9th at Almond Gardens, a Residential Care Facility, where he now lives. Last year, the family noticed, that he was forgetting things, wasn’t keeping up the house and when he told us he wanted to move to a senior apt. complex that offered congregate meals, we moved him quickly.
I stayed a week with him in his new apartment to help with the transition. I soon discovered, since I haven’t lived with my dad since I was 19, that he had dementia. He took many falls at the apt. after I left and had a subdural hematoma and had to have brain surgery. He survived and John and I brought him to our home to rehab. For (4) months, with the help of home health, he improved physically but mentally we saw a decline. In August, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers; another cruel brain disease.
Alzheimer’s has quickly attacked my dad and my heart breaks as I watch my father slip away. And now because of COVID-19, we cannot even visit. I pray that one day he will not wake up and can be with my mother again in the heavens above.
I was blessed to have both of my grandmothers involved in my life and I have wonderful memories of them. Both of my grandmothers, Christina Mary (Mages) Crutcher and Celena Barbara (Gable) McKibben were loving woman, who unfortunately, didn’t marry nice men.
Christina Mary (Mages) Crutcher married at 17 and was a mother at 18 and her first granddaughter was born when she was 41. What I remember about her is, she would take one of us, I have three (3) sisters, for a weekend and spoil us to death; we’d go to the movies and have popcorn and candy, play cards for hours and watch Let’s Make a Deal on TV. These were special one-on-one time I had with her.
Celena Barbara (Gable) McKibben had a tough life. She and my grandfather split early in the marriage and didn’t divorce for many years. My Grandmother had to work until she was in her late 70’s; first as a housemother to nursing students at St. Joseph Hospital and later as a companion to elderly women, living with them through the week and then living with one of her children on the weekends. What I remember about her is, the hugs, smiles and giving us a quarter out of her little change purse when my sisters and I were going to TG&Y to buy candy. She was a very giving, loving woman and her family was everything to her.
Happy Birthday to my my father, James Keith Crutcher, who was born at home on Saturday, November 9, 1929 in Kansas City, Kansas.
Grandmother, Chris Crutcher
I love you dad, and I’m blessed to have you in my life for all these years.
From what my Grandmother Chris Crutcher told me, who gave birth to my dad having just turned 18 two weeks prior, that it was a very difficult birth. My father would be an only child until his sister, Trina, was born when my dad was 18. (Same parents)
John and I named our son, Keith, because I always told my parents, if I had a son, I would give him dad’s middle name. My parents had four daughters.
Jim, Trina & Ellen
I sure HOPE I have his genes. My grandmother, Chris Crutcher, lived until she was 102 and lived independently until the last eight months of her life.
John and his sisters, Lora, Marcia and Cindy don’t know a lot about her, their father never discussing her with them. So, I too, know very little but here’s what I do know.
She was admitted to Napa State Mental Hospital around 1950 on a part time basis. At that time she had two babies, Lora and Marcia, and she could not care for them. The doctors did not know what was wrong with her, and because she came home, she had two more children, Cindy and John. When Cindy was born, she was given to John’s Aunt Adeline and when John was born he was given to his Aunt Connie because Phyllis was unable to care for four children under the age of five.
Lora, Marcia & Cindy
Lora and Phyllis
She died in 1968 of strangulation as she got tangled up in the restraints the hospital had on her because her chorea was so bad. The underlying cause of her death was stated to be Huntington’s Chorea. History of Huntington’s Disease
This is such as sad story, but not unusual as Huntington’s disease family stories are always heartbreaking.
Many years ago I didn’t think I would be a mother. With the threat of Huntington’s Disease and John’s unknown gene status, deciding whether to have our own biological children or adopting was a huge question in both of our minds.
After about a year of discussing and checking out adoption, John said to me, “Therese I will leave it up to you. If you want to adopt or if you want us to have our own children, I’ll go with what you decide”. Having the decision power given to me, didn’t make it any easier.
I made my decision after I talked with my Grandmother McKibben. She shared her thoughts with these words that I had heard before. “You never know what going to happen in life”. Those were the words that had sent me back to John when I left the relationship because of Huntington’s disease.
I have been blessed in so many ways, and one is being a mother to our two terrific children, Vanessa and Keith. Everyday I give thanks that I made the decision to have our own kids. In 2016, John tested negative for HD, for which we are grateful, and because he doesn’t carry the mutated HD gene, our kids do not have to live a life AT-RISK.