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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


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Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Sounds like your mind is a whir with thoughts today. Maybe make a nice trip with Jean-Marc to visit your mother-in-law together. Maybe set a certain day or two a month to go by and cheer her up. How is she doing? I haven't had to go through thinking about placing a loved one in a care facility. I know it is a hard decision but sometimes for the best. Your 5th random thing reminded me of a funny commercial


Go visit your mother-in-law, take the pomegranate and the music box. Tell her your love her.

Ruth Fuchs Hallett

I'm sure that a few of those 733 unanswered emails are mine. Be careful what you wish for - lots of followers, lots of readers, lots of friends? We're all super busy with our lives. I am hurt that my emails have received a "robo" response. I was in France earlier this month and was considering coming to the South. It would have been fun to meet. I wrote about a horrible experience that I had - I was mugged in Paris on the street (although it had a happy ending as I wasn't seriously hurt and my bag was returned) and posted it on Facebook. We're also friends on Fb and I was looking for a comment from you. For someone who has hosted Jean-Marc two years in a row in New York and stayed at your home in Ste-Cecile-les-Vignes, with heart-to-heart conversations about family, my feelings are really hurt that you've totally ignored me. I truly care about you and the family, Braise, Smokey, and read all your posts. There were so many coincidences that I wanted to tell you about, but you've been too busy for me. Or maybe you don't have room for the friendship or no longer care. At least please reply.


Hey, Kristin:

I agree with Eileen about the visits to see your beautiful belle-mere. It always "feels" like a cold thing to do to put our loved ones on a seeming "to-do list," but the result is that they have something to look forward to, and we end up feeling less guilty, and everyone winds up feeling more loved/loving! Of course, the feelings of love have been and are always there, of that there can be no doubt! But scheduled visits and relaxed chats do help to alleviate the guilt-- speaking from experience here ;)

As to the matching gloves dilemma, in our family it's footwear. To avoid the constant frustration of frantically searching for matching socks, the girls in our family have adopted a new "fashion statement" of sorts-- always wearing a mismatched "pair!" The individual socks just all go in a drawer after their trip through the dryer, and we just reach and grab two! It's great for starting conversations, even with total strangers! It certainly facilitates one less aggravation and eliminates one more time-stealer from life. It's actually quite FUN! Try it!

As to mind in a whir, we've all been there. Some actually live in that state perpetually. Yikes! As you've experienced, prayer does help. Also the thing you're most excellent at, writing it out, as well as laughing at a lot (if not most) of it.

Give Marie France a hug for me! ;)

Mary Dineen

Love your random thoughts post, don't we all do that ?
Lovely to read someone else's thoughts.

Oregonian living in Paris

Dear Kristi: Sending you love & wish you loads of stamina ( physical & emotional). Please don't be wounded by Ruth's appeal to you at this time of great need by your belle mere & all of her children as they make decisions about her needs & care-givers. Ever since the first post mentioning your mom-in-law had lost consciousness I have been so impressed that you still carved time to write. Please take good care of yourself ( I am the daughter of a 92-year-old father in a memory care facility -- and we are separated by the Atlantic Ocean. From time to time he thinks he is in a hotel & on vacation. Also each day when we talk by phone he is surprised to learn that I am married to a French man & now live in Paris !)

As you & your family walk these next steps with your belle-mere .. Please be gentle to each other & your friends who will give you advice or step back to give you space . Hugs to you !

Dear Ruth : I am so sorry that you are hurt ... Please reflect for a moment & reach out to others while your friend Kristi is trying to do all she can. Thank goodness you are OK after your bad experience . Bless you !

Nancy,                     Cambridge

Loved the random list; that's life.

Think I'll do my own list;

Maybe call it a poem.

PS. I could never answer 733 emails; any normal person would just give up and declare the bankruptcy; if someone else cannot understand the life transitions that are showing up in your daily list then they need to find more empathy for you and others.


Is this the first time we have heard about your mother-in-law in a care facility? Wonder how far away it is from you? Difficult transition for all concerned.


Is this the first time we have heard about your mother-in-law in a care facility? Wonder how far away it is from you? Difficult transition for all concerned.

Elaine tanzer

I'm sorry


Alisa again here--

I just translated "Çela fait huit jours..." It's only been eight days since you last saw her? And that falls within your "less and less and less"?? I wonder, as does Jeanne, how far away she is. I know with my 80-year-old mom just next door to me that sometimes it can be four or five days between times when I actually go VISIT her. (Of course, we text and talk all day long every day and through a lot of nights-- and a new arrangement soon to come where I stay a half-a-week with her every week...)

Point being, you are being a very attentive belle-fille. Pas de soucis, dear Kristi. :) p.s. also agree with Oregonian living in Paris 100 percent. *bissous*

Micki Simms

Dear Kristin,

I'm so terribly sorry about your belle mere. My mother was 600 miles from me and others kept her family from visiting her (through legal channels). It was terrible. Phone calls until she was no longer able to speak on the phone were the best we could do.

You have my full empathy. It's never easy. I'll hold you and Jean-Marc in my heart and know that you will do what is right for you in your situation. Remember that your belle mere knew how much you loved her before she went into an altered state. If she is conscious now, she will welcome your visit. If not, it makes a visit so hard and so depressing. I totally understand that.

Lighting a prayer candle in my heart for you.

xoxo, Micki

Chris Allin

Dear Kristin,

Even your random thoughts offer us a glimpse into your life. They are probably all shared by your readers, except, perhaps, the fig net.

Either Braise and Smokey are real hams or you have a way of posing them for the cutest pictures. Or maybe both!

Parents and a care facility always seem to equal guilt, even when the placement is justified. We have been through it with three parents and are now going through it with our last. He just cannot live alone at age 94. In each situation, although there has been commitment and concern for emotional and physical well-being, we have been left with guilt and regret. Did we do enough?

Marie-France seems to be hanging in there...hope she is getting stronger every day. It must be very unsettling for her as no place is as comfortable as home. But loved ones do help~

My lovely dad is in a care facility he is 97 and has dementia. He has only been in 5 weeks and some days are better than others. He too sometimes thinks it is an hotel and other days he pleads to go home. It is heart wrenching and especially so that when my mother who is 90 blind and deaf still goes to visit him and he sometimes doesn't recognise her. they have been married for 65 years. I try my best but mostly it doesn't feel enough. be kind to yourself I know how hard it is. Thinking of you all. xxx Julie

Catharine Ewart-Touzot

Wow time to step back, I think, and decide what you want to do and need to do and put aside all the guilt trips we all put on ourselves and others..Both of my parents have gone to be with the Mother was in a care facility, her mind was clear and I enjoyed talking to sister took her phone away, it was indeed a shame. My Father's mind was not clear, he was at home with excellent care given by my step mother, I loved hearing his voice, his stories reflected the life he invented, all the lost dreams perhaps. It was difficult to call.I used to take Communion to people in nursing homes..they came in all varities, mostly they were glad to see me. The emails will wait. I agree going to see your mother-in-law would be at the top of my list, and with the music box and tales of her granddaughter growing up, that she will understand and appreciate, and maybe tell you stories of your husband growing up that you have never heard before. If she is a dog person tales of the dogs, maybe some pictures of all to leave with her. Stories of the garden and the missing gloves, tales of life that she can still be part of.

Faye Stelly

I like idea of pomegranate and especially the "je t' aime" . I am a firm believer that, eventhough unconscious, people do hear us. U mentioned music box...took me back to when I was a young mother and sang that lullaby to my two boys...always put them to sleep.

Thoughts & prayers to all of you during this time of uncertainty & transition.

Karen from Phoenix

Sending big HUGS your way. xoxo

Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR

Dear Kristin,

My mom was in a care facility for 18 months. I was lucky to be close by. It is very hard ----I'm an only child and some days she didn't know me. But we had tea, and talked a lot. I am forever grateful for the time I had with her. Whether she "knew" me or not, we always had a laugh & a hug!

Thanks for sharing and remember, all of us have been thru this or close to it. It is life. You are handling it with grace.

Be well

PS: I am in Oregon and I am so jealous of the "Oregonian in Paris" person!

PPS: I love the Sears commercial -- she's calling for the cat to come in --- and a raccoon runs in. Just love it!

Linda R.

Putting a loved one in a care facility is one of the most difficult things to do. Be gentle to yourself, Kristin - prayers and kind thoughts are sent your way.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

I second Barb, Faye and Karen from Phoenix.

Music also seems to reach those places that sometimes spoken words do not. While caring for my mother at home, we were fortunate that our local Hospice had a music therapist on staff that could visit her at home. My mom not only sang words to songs she sang to me in my childhood, but sang songs that I had no idea she knew the words to.

Often it can be difficult to visit because we don't want to see someone we love in their current condition or see them (or so many around them) suffering. Depending on the distance, even a short visit may be appreciated more than you know. An idea: Write us twice, rather than thrice, a week for a while if you need to. I am sure your readers will understand.

Blessings to you and yours.

Kathy near Sacramento

This is a difficult time for you and your family. And family must take priority. You have to have time for yourself, time to process and deal with what is going on. And it's coming at a time when you already have so many other things going on. Now it's time for you to concentrate on your mother-in-law and your loved ones and your own health. There's a limit to how much one psyche can handle. What's in your email inbox can wait. We all know you reveive hundreds and that you can't possibly--and shouldn't even try to--answer all of them. Don't worry about them, or anyone who might question your priorities right now. Warmest regards to you and your family.


I thought the caption of Braise with the glove pile was going to say "Braise knows a secret. Sometimes, when no glove matches are to be found, she knows she must confess to where she buried it..." Our Golden Retrievers are always bringing us a single sock and expecting praise. Or, dropping them some place new....

P.S. I love the "list". It's poetic and funny.

Chris Allin

P.S. Please forgive me, Kristin, for referring to your dear belle-mere,
Michele-France, by the wrong name. The name Michele is, after all, one of my favorites...our oldest daughter's middle name.

Let us know how she is doing. Our prayers are with her.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Oh, dear sweet friend, how you’ve been on my mind! Just this morning, watering one of my flower beds (our drought continues…) I thought of you as I spied a single, hopeful, crimson blossom on one short and sly hollyhock which had escaped the deer!

May your day hold some sweet surprise that brings a smile to your heart (other than a rat!).

Sending love and comfort your way,

Kristin Espinasse

No worries, Chris. And thanks for asking for an update (indeed, thank you, all who have written with caring words). 

Jean-Marc and I had a good visit with Michele-France. She is sharp as a whistle and has her signature good sense of humor. Sadly, though, she is immobile. After 7 weeks in bed she has lost muscle strength (she cannot walk at all). A few complications have hindered her from beginning physical therapy. Add to that a phobia of falling (she no longer has use of her left shoulder, so could not break her fall if needed), and her situation is not improving. She will need to get past her fear if she is to progress, otherwise the physical therapist wont be able to help (only 15 minutes a day devoted to therapy). Thanks for keeping Michele-France in your prayers.

Betty Gleason

Lists & snippets are fine during times of duress. They still give an accurate picture of life as it is truly lived. Since there had been no recent updates on Michele-France, she had bee in my thoughts lately. Maybe when you visit you could do some patterning exercises with her, the first step to getting those muscles working again. Brahms' Lullaby is so soothing that perhaps she would appreciate a music box filled with memories. Everybody & everything seems to be pulling at your heartstrings lately. We all go through times like that. Keep the faith. You are doing fine.
In the middle of the night I nearly opened a window to let in a raccoon on my roof thinking it was the cat.
Bad heart means I can't accept your ice bucket challenge, but I can donate.
Lots of comings & goings in your house lately. And some lovely dinner parties.
Always happy my work gloves snap together.


I agree with Barb - go visit your belle mere and take the music box. My mother forgot I was there after I left but she was always happy to see me and I know I went. Take her a pom or a flower - she will love it all. And please tell her we all say hello/bonjour.

Barry Draper

Kristen, sorry to hear about your mother-in-law's recent health challenges.

I have lifted up your mother-in-law's needs in prayer. I do not know your mother-in-law and her needs - but God does.

Additionally, I completed your ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with my wife's assistance. Let's just say that my voice went up a higher than a guys should when the cold water hit! Eh heh, I will not be sharing that video! I also nominated my daughter to take the challenge.

Thanks for teaching me a few more French words today.


Our dear Kristi,
Another beautiful and touching post.We are so fortunate to participate in your life, especially when we see meaningful parts of our own (in my case,younger days) reflected there.
We were caregivers to my belle mere.It was very challenging but we'd always had a close relationship and I remember her speaking of how she cherished of her belle mere and her parents and did the best she could.This later gave me enormous comfort because she had travelled a similar road with the same feelings and understanding. .
Believe me,your dear Michele-France in her heart completely understands all and everything.Remember how she told you to go on and enjoy your day and bring her some macaroons next time?
The last thing she would wish for you is to worry about her.Perhaps she also traversed this path with her mom and belle mere.I almost think it is a rite of passage..... I just hope I draw from their example with courage and love.
You both are in my prayers.I know God will lead the way.
Natalia XO

judith bryant

Sad but true == the more you two visit, the better your mother-in-law is likely to do. The elders seem to need our energy, our spark, to "jump start" them. I always hoped I could get my 3-time-a-week visits to my mother down to twice or even once... Never happened. I needed to know the staff, or more importantly to have them know me (and SEE me frequently), to be sure my mom was getting good care. I bribed them with bowls of candy or homemade cookies... Is there any place your mother-in-law could live that is quite close to you, to make visiting easier? I drove 45 minutes or so, but that's nothing compared to the drive to Marseille that you described. Over the 6 years my mother was in care facilities in Vermont, I got to know her as a whole other person from the Mom I thought I knew. All those stories I'd never heard! Now, even 10 years after her death, I sometimes long to turn north when I leave home, to drive up and take her out for hot chocolate, to talk and laugh...

Chris Allin

Such sweet and meaningful thoughts from Natalia, reflecting a place in life that comes to us at a certain age. And the other readers, all with their own poignant stories about their beloved parents. Many of them have brought tears to my eyes...

Michele-France has a challenge ahead. But based on what you have described as her sense of humor and what seems to be a pretty strong character, I have a feeling that she can overcome her present circumstances... it will just take time. The Mother's Day story you posted when she offered Jean-Marc a belated birthday present was very touching... thinking of her son before herself. How to use that part of who she seems to be to motivate her recovery....perhaps the picture you posted of her and Jean-Marc could inspire her. It certainly inspires me... a mother's love ...what compares to that?

Keeping Michele-France in our thoughts and prayers ~

Georgia from Northern CA

Dear Kristin,
I send you my best wishes for Michele-France. Do enjoy talking to her whether conscious or not as they told us when my mother was failing that a loved one hears us even tho' they may not be able to respond. Glad to hear, though, that she is sharp as a tack!
And if you should get a chance later on to post a pic of the fig catcher, I would love to see it.
Made a donation to ALS, but may opt out of the ice bucket. :)

Julie Farrar

I have been battling my guilt genes all my life. I never saw any good come of it with my mother, so I don't want to carry it on. You love your MIL and she knows it. If you aim for one visit every week to week and a half for however long you have she will understand that the rest of the time you're trying to keep all your balls in the air on the other day. Perhaps you could write her a note when you can't come. Or print out one of your lovely photographs and scribble a line on the back (you could even do this when you visit so you'd have something to leave behind).

As for the e-mails, you don't want to know how many I have. I can't do the bankruptcy thing so I play the E-mail Game

Each day you just do what you can do. Cheers!


Hi Kristen, I hope you will visit your belle-mere as often as you can manage it. Years ago, when my mother-in-law was in a nursing home (only a 10 mile drive)I visited several times a week. She was so appreciative...told me I would "have a star in my crown," someday. Skipping ahead 30 years, my husband had Alzheimer's, and after 5 years at home, my daughter and I could no longer care for him. Fortunately we found a care facility about 5 miles away. We went every day, one for lunch, and one for dinner, because he could not feed himself. My sons, too, went as often as they could. He is gone now, but we will never regret the time spent with him, and we have no guilt, knowing we did all we could.

I suggest you write one blog a week; you have to take care of yourself and your family, and your garden!

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Oh, the fear of moving when moving is essential to regaining muscle strength. I have been in that place, not quite as extreme but the fear I know. For me, it was a physical therapist with me who pulled me past the fear.

I had not understood what had hit me, flattened me, so I was afraid to move because I might start that enormous pain again. Not rational, but fear is not always rational. Slowly, in very small steps, my bravery returned as my focus was put on the future and not the still mysterious reason for the pain -- and very practical small steps that I could do safely. I do hope your belle-mere can cross that bridge, too.


We only can do what we can manage. You must take care of yourself during these stress filled days. Your ability to take time for yourself will give you energy for helping others. Even compassion and understanding take emotional energy. Sometimes we need the help of others to manage the stress. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Remember you are helping keep the "boat" afloat. If you break down things will only get worse. I feel like I am talking to myself advice during my own stressful time. My favorite saying is, "be gentle with yourself". Hope this helps.

Diane Young

Chere Kristi,
As you can see, a lot of us can empathize with you as we've been there. The day my mother died, we were on the way home from the dentist's and I told my husband we should stop by and see Mother. It was right on the way home. I sensed she was fading fast and talked to her and reassured her that God was looking forward to her coming home and she would see all her family and hear beautiful music, and I talked for about 20 minutes to someone who seemed unaware of our presence. She was 90 years old and had been in the facility for 5 years. The phone rang about 15 minutes after we got home. The nurse said that Mother had passed away. I will always give thanks for stopping by that day because I will treasure that last visit forever.
Don't feel guilty when you don't go, but make time to go often so you don't miss that last journey with her. You are blessed to have her in your life. Don't sweat the emails. Just keep on loving your family.

Sharon Auckerman

This is exactly how my entire summer has been! June, new granddaughter is born, the other two grandchildren (ages 4 and 1) spent a week with us. July, husband starts remodeling kitchen and mother is put in a rehab facility. August was company twice, car's transmission broke, and I was sick for two weeks. I was going to say, "Really looking forward to September." but I am just going to leave it at that.

Kathleen from Connecticut

Our prayers are with Michele-France. My mother, who has a in-law next to us, has fallen quite often, but she has a pendant that she where's to summon help. She has bones as strong as an ox,as she likes to say.
I hope that M-F gets over her fear of falling.
It sounds like you are doing the best that you can and I am sure that she knows that you care and will help in any way. Please realize that you can't be every where and do every thing for every body.
Bon chance


Pam Luckey

Kristin, I understand what you are going through right now because I took care of my father, mother, and both in- laws as long as it was humanly possible. Too long, as it worked out... Due to extreme exhaustion, I fell taking my mother in law to the bathroom, breaking two toes and snapping my spine and dislodging a meniscus from its proper place in my jaw. She was fine, but I ate through a straw for three months and had to go to a special pain clinic for them to discover the problem and straighten me out! So, dear, it is good to analyze our capabilities with humility. Many caregiving situations call for experienced help. Do not listen to people who see only their needs at a time when you are stressed as you are. Stay communicating with those who are positive and understanding.
So glad you had a good visit with Michelle-France. Please ask her threrapist if you can get her warm water therapy instead. The patient is put into a warm pool, and without the stress of gravity or the threat of a fall, they can gently be restored by a competent therapist!
Warm hugs for all.

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