Saturday, August 3, 2013

Here is the Obituary for Joel L. Carpenter

Joel L Carpenter
May 21, 1935 – August 2, 2013

Joel LeVern Carpenter, age 78, of West Valley City, Utah passed away peacefully on August 2, 2013 in South Salt Lake, Utah. Joel was born May 21, 1935 in Evanston, Wyoming, a son of Raymond Linzy and Verbena Mary Stringer Carpenter. He was the youngest of twelve children.

Joel graduated from Evanston High School in 1953. Joel was an active member of the LDS church. He served a mission to the Hawaiian Islands from 1955-57. He learned the Hawaiian Language, and would often utter phrases in Hawaiian. Some of the last words he spoke were in Hawaiian. Joel would go on to enjoy serving in many church callings throughout his life.

He married Myra Ann Hatch, of Randolph, Utah on October 17, 1957 in the Logan, Utah LDS Temple, just a few months after returning from his mission. Joel and Myra met on a blind date. Myra waited for Joel while he served on his mission. Later, while on military leave, Joel and Myra were able to go to Hawaii. He was able take Myra with him as they visited the people and places that he had known on his mission which was a special experience for them both.

Joel enlisted in the Air Force (1958-1962) shortly after his mission and marriage. (It was either join the air force, or be drafted into the Army!) He was stationed in: Mississippi, Florida, Johnston Island in the Pacific, and in Lompoc, California. Their first two children, David and Jeannette were born while Joel was serving in the military.

Following his military service, Joel completed training as an electronics technician. In 1963, Joel began his Civil Service career at the Tooele Army Depot where he worked in electronic instrument calibration and quality assurance. Later he transferred to the Defense Logistics Agency. Joel received a distinguished service award for 30 years in federal Civil Service. He was proud of the 34 years that he served his Country, which he dearly loved.

Joel enjoyed traveling and seeing our beautiful nation. He was sent to many locales during his working career. Some of his favorite places were the Redrock Country of Southern Utah, and the wilds of Alaska. He also got to visit many historical sites as well in his travels. He was proud that he was able to visit all 50 states. North Dakota was the last state on his list, which he was able to visit in August of 2003. Joel had a love of music, art and literature, and he was exceptionally good at leather craft, woodworking, and photography. He always loved to sing, and had a nice voice, something he is sure to be doing now, with a voice clear and sweet once more.

Joel is survived by his wife, Myra and his four children: David (Dawn Ann) Carpenter, Jeannette Carpenter, Mark (Meridee) Carpenter, and Douglas (Rebecca) Carpenter, 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. Joel is also survived by two sisters: Bessie (Frank) Wirig and Bernice Rima. He is preceded in death by his parents, six brothers and three sisters.

The family expresses deep gratitude to Majestic Care Center for their kind and loving service to Joel. They treated him so nicely -- just like family would have. We are deeply grateful for the care Joel received during the nearly 3 years he was in their care.

We love you, and will miss you, but we know that you are in a far better place. May you find the peace and joy that will be yours as you reunite with family and loved ones who have gone on before. God be with you ‘till we meet again. Families are forever!

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at noon in the Granger South Stake Center located at: 4586 West 3960 South, in West Valley City, Utah. Friends may call at the McDougal Funeral Home at 4330 South Redwood Road in Taylorsville, Utah from 6-8 pm on Tuesday August 6th and at the Stake Center on Wednesday from 10:30-11:30 am prior to the Service. Interment will take place at the Randolph, Utah City Cemetery at noon on Thursday August 8, 2013.

Directions to the Granger South Stake Center (where the funeral will be held):

  • From I-15, take the 33rd south Exit.
  • Go westbound on 3300 South (it will eventually turn into 3500 South.)
  • Continue westbound on 3500 South until you reach 4400 West.
  • Turn left (southbound) onto 4400 West.
  • Proceed southbound on 4400 West until you reach Volta Ave (3965 South) – it will be the 5th street on your right from 3500 South.
  • Turn right (westbound) onto Volta Ave, and continue westbound until you reach the stake center at 4586 West.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Farewell Lynn Fraser

This past week marked the passing of dad's lunch table mate at the care center where he staying.  My dad shared a table with Lynn Fraser, who was also a resident at the care center.  Here is a link to Lynn's obituary.

Both of our families made an effort to have someone there every day to feed lunch to feed them lunch.  Neither dad nor Lynn could feed themselves.

I grew to really enjoy my visits with Connie (Lynn's Wife of 58 years), or other members of Lynn's family each day.  After coming to the Majestic Care Center, we soon learned that our families had previous inter-connections:  As it turned out, Connie's sister Gwen, was my mother's hairdresser for nearly 40 years!  Also, one of Lynn's daughters, Sandy, went to high school with me (Granger High, Class of '76).    It really is a small world!

Lynn and I had what you might say was a "comical" relationship.  For some reason, when  I would sit down at the lunch table to feed my dad,  Lynn would bust out in a huge grin.  Sometimes, he would laugh right out loud!  I never could figure out what Lynn thought was so funny.  I always joked that maybe I was just funny looking!

Not only will I will miss Lynn,  I will also miss my conversations with Connie, and the other members of the Fraser Family with which I became acquainted.  They were a great example of service and devotion to their dad and husband.  Now that Lynn is gone,  I will probably not see much of the Fraser family anymore, since they will not be coming to the care center anymore.  That will be a loss as well.   

My thoughts and prayers are with the Fraser Family.  Thanks for the time we shared, in the service of our loved ones.  May God Be With You.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Welcome to Majestic

After a year at the Garden Terrace Care Center, it became time to move dad to another facility.  We were happy with Garden Terrace, but there is one problem that we just couldn't overcome.  Garden Terrace does not take Medicaid. 

When dad first went into the care center, he did not qualify for medicaid assistance for long-term care.   The savings that he and mom were able save for their retirement meant that dad had too much in assets to qualify.

Essentially what happens is that a snapshot mom and dad's combined assets is taken at the time when dad first went into the nursing home (November 2009).  The assets are divided in half.  Mom gets to keep her portion of the assets for her needs.  However dad's portion must be exhausted before medicaid will kick in.

After a full year of paying for nursing home expenses at thousands of dollars per month, those assets are rapidly vanishing.  In the next couple of months, dad's assets will have been "spent down" to a point where he will qualify for medicaid assistance.

We had looked at the Majestic Care Center back in 2009 when dad first went into the care center, however there weren't any beds available at the time.  Majestic comes highly recommended, and has great ratings on the medicare web site.  It is a smaller facility, compared to Garden Terrace.  Total capacity (40 beds) is about the size of one wing at Garden Terrace. 

For an older facility, it is well kept up.  The staff-to-patient ratio is significantly better than at Garden Terrace.  Majestic is not as fancy as Garden Terrace.  It doesn't have fancy offices or conference rooms.  Its just a nice, quaint, quiet little place that provides good care and service to their patients.

Dad has been there for a month now, and we have been happy with the care he has received there thus far.

We were nervous at first about how dad would react to the change in his surroundings.  Would it make him anxious, or agitated?  Would it cause him to be nervous or upset?

As it turned out, it was a very smooth transition.  Dad's dementia has progressed to the point where he is not really aware of his surroundings.  He didn't appear to notice that he had been moved to a new facility.  He continued to function much has he had done previously at Garden Terrace. 

The smooth transition was a great relief to mom.  She was especially worried about how dad would react to the change.  I don't believe it could have gone any better.  It was certainly an answer to prayers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Russ & Sue and Mike and Lucy

There were two couples at Garden Terrace that I wanted to make special note of.  They are Russ and Sue, and Mike and Lucy.

Sue is a patient at Garden Terrace.  She suffers from dementia, and has some problems with her feet and legs as well.  She stays in a high-back wheelchair most of the time.  Sue's husband, Russ, comes in everyday at lunchtime to help feed Sue.  He often times brings fresh fruit and other foods that Sue is especially fond of.  Like mom, Russ has suffered from his own health problems in the past year.  Yet he keeps coming to be with Sue, day after day, week after week, and month after month.  After lunch, they often will retire to Sue's room and watch a movie together.  They have brought in a big screen TV, and an extensive video collection. 

Russ is a nice guy.  He's quick witted and quick with a joke or funny comment.  We would always exchange greetings when we saw each other.

Lucy is another patient at Garden Terrace.  Lucy has some kind of musculo-skeletal disease.  Her body is crippled up and contorted.  Her mind however, seems to be pretty sharp.  Lucy needs help with doing most everything, including eating.  Lucy's husband, Mike is an exemplary fellow.  He gets up early in the morning, and spends most of the day there with Lucy.  Every day.  He is serving her as best he can, and is totally devoted to Lucy. 

Of all the patients in the Morning Glory Unit of Garden Terrace,  only Sue, Lucy, and dad had family members there each day to help feed them lunch.  We developed a kind of kindred spirits with Russ and Mike, as we shared in our labors of love.  I have to say that both Mike and Russ were upbeat most of the time.  They would laugh and joke around with each other, and with the staff easily.  It would be easy for people in their situation to be glum and depressed.  Yet through it all, they were able to bear their burdens with cheerfulness in their hearts. 

Russ, like us will be needing to move Sue into a care center that accepts medicaid.  He will be moving her around the firs of the year. 

Lucy's room was right next door to dad's room at Garden Terrace.  On the day we moved dad out, I stopped by Lucy's room, and talked to Mike for a moment.  We exchanged our greetings and our good-byes.  I told Mike that he was a great example of love and devotion, and that it has been a privilege to know him. 

I'm proud to have associated with Russ and Mike.  I will miss seeing them.  I wish them well in their journeys.

Garden Terrace -- One Year Later

Dad was at the Garden Terrace Care Center from November 11, 2009 thru November 12, 2010.  He received good care there, and was comfortable.

We eventually worked into a regular routine with dad.  One of us (Usually mom, Mark or myself) would spend lunch time with dad.  Dad cannot feed himself.  He needs help with eating and drinking all of his meals.  The nurses have to grind up his medications, and mix them in with some applesauce or pudding. 

The staff had become quite attached to dad, and were sad to see him leave.  There were many hugs and tears as we readied dad to go.  There were three CNA's who were especially attentive to dad's needs.  Azatui, Kelly, and Val took especially good care of him.   There was also an RN, Jane, who took special care to look after dad's needs.  The staff also complimented us as a family, for our attentiveness to dad's needs.  They tell us that many of the patients don't have much contact with family at all.  We will miss the people at Garden Terrace to whom we have grown close.

I have come to consider the time I spend with dad as sacred time.  In his current state of mind, he is innocent, like a little child.  He still has his same sweet personality (most of the time), even if he doesn't really understand where he is, or even who we are sometimes. 

We hated to move dad from Garden Terrance, but financial necessity required the change.  Dad will soon become Medicaid eligible for long-term care.  Unfortunately, Garden Terrace does not take Medicaid and we needed to locate a new facility that will take Medicaid.

There were some unforgettable individuals who we met at Garden Terrace.  There were two patients that we knew,  Norm Stark and Calvin Weeks.  Norm grew up in Evanston, Wyoming and knew some of dad's family there.  Norm was about 10 years older than dad.  Norm was a geologist, and worked for the the US Forrest Service and various mining interests in Utah and Colorado.  I don't believe Norm was LDS.  He had a buddy that would come in once in awhile, and bring Norm a Beer.  Eventually, Norm started to waste away.  One day I helped him remove the bib that they give the patients to eat meals with.  After I got the bib removed, I patted him on his shoulder, and was surprised at how boney he was.  I understand that Norm broke his hip, and died not long after that.  We missed him.

Calvin was a high school science teacher.  He was from Smithfield, Utah.  Calvin had an easy-going personality and was friendly with everyone.  He ate lunch at our table for awhile.  We had fun talking about science together.  Calvin also grew up on a diary farm.  I had fun talking about cows and ranching with him too.  Calvin could scoot himself around in his wheelchair pretty well.  He would propel himself with his feet.  He would go around and visit with people.  He was a very sweet man.  Last Spring, Calvin's health started to decline. He got so he couldn't move himself around, and he couldn't feed himself anymore.  I noticed that he had a lot of abdominal swelling as well.  Calvin, too, passed away.  

We miss both Calvin and Norm, but we know they are in a better place now.  The sad truth is, that with Alzheimers, the only exit from this disease is to pass through the veil, into the next life.  There they will be able to use their mental faculties at their peak, without the effects of this disease.  They will know who they are, and they will know others around them once more.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Settling In

Its been 2 1/2 weeks now since dad went into the care center. We are all adjusting to the new circumstances, and developing new routines.

The care center gets the residents up fairly early in the morning.  That means that dad is awakened and dressed by about 8:00 AM for breakfast.  They have activities for the residents during the morning.

Mom usually comes to visit for lunch time, which is served at about 12:15 each day.  Dad needs some assistance with his eating.  He need someone to cut up his food for him.  Usually if someone will feed him a bite or two of food, you can hand the fork over to him -- and he will usually feed himself.   Mom usually says with dad until after lunch, then he usually is transferred to his bed for an afternoon nap.  After dad goes down for his nap, mom usually goes back home for a little while.

At dinner time, mom returns back to the care center.  She usually arrives at about 5:30 PM.  She spends some time with him before dinner.  She brings magazines and newspaper sections that dad likes to look at.  Once again she helps dad with eating dinner.  As I mentioned before, he usually will feed himself once he gets started.  However, there are times when he seems to forget how to use silverware.  On those occasions mom feeds him.

Mom usually stays with dad until about 8:00 at night.  By then dad has been transferred back to the bed, and is usually resting comfortably. Then mom returns home for the evening.

This routine has its pluses and minuses.  On the one-hand, mom now has much more freedom that she had before dad was placed in the care center.

On the plus side, mom can go shopping when she needs to.  She can schedule Dr.'s appointments for herself in the mornings.  She can transact business as she needs to.  She also can sleep at night without having to keep one eye and one ear open all night long worrying about dad getting up and hurting himself.

On the minus side, making two trips a day from home to the care center (roughly 10 miles each way) can wear on her too.  Making two trips each day complicates the daily schedule.  Also, it means driving home after dark, now that we are in the winter months.

Mentally, the stress on mom is of a different kind.  Whereas before, the stresses of being a primary caregiver are constant and demanding, there is a different kind of stress with having a loved one in a care center.

This new kind of stress involves a combination of questioning whether or not you have made the right decision to place a loved one in a care center -- as well as working with the care center to make sure that all of the resident's needs are being met.

Mom has been concerned about having to place dad in the care center.  Mentally she knows that it was the right thing to do.  However, it takes time for our emotions to catch up with what we know in our minds.  Mom wishes that that we could have kept dad home longer.  In reality, there is a difference in the care one receives at home, versus the care you get in a care center.  At home, you have complete control of the schedule, you know your loved ones needs intimately, and can address those needs.  Your loved one has 24-hour one-on-one coverage by someone who loves them.

This is not a slam on the care center, or their staff.  So far, our experience has been that most of the staff are very dedicated, caring people.   However, they have many patients to take care of, and they can't physically be in more than one place at once.  Sometimes you might have to wait a little while for the staff to help you with one thing or another, while they take care of other patients.  Also, they have to work on their own schedule to organize their efforts and resources in the most efficient way.

Mom has been in the process of communicating to the care center staff what dad's needs are, and what works best for him.  They have been listening, and have been incorporating mom's concerns into their care routines.  Also, the staff has been learning thing about dad, and how they can best handle him, and have come up with some ideas of their own as well.

As for emotions catching up with logic (or the heart catching up with the head), mom is getting there as well.  This past week she has received some spiritual assurances that taking care of dad at home would truly be more than she can do -- there are essential things that the care center can do for dad, that we can't do at home.  Dad is truly getting the best care possible at this stage of his Alzheimer's Disease by being in the care center, rather than at home.  This spiritual confirmation has given mom a greater measure of peace in her mind and heart -- that the right decision was reached when dad was placed in the care center.

Dad has his good days, interspersed with the occasional bad day. Some days he is more cooperative, and some days he is more combative.  All in all I think he is doing well, for the most part, and is adapting to his new circumstances.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Joel's Bio

At the care center, they have little display cases outside the doorway to each room.  There is space available there to tell about the resident -- their life, interests and achievements, and to display little knick-knacks from their life.

My daughter Amy is decorating a little poster board with some applique's and I wrote a short bio for dad to include in the display.  (When it's done, I'll post a photo here.)

In the meantime, I thought it might be nice to publish the bio I wrote about dad here as well:
Joel Carpenter was born in May of 1935 in Evanston, Wyoming. He grew up as the youngest of 12 children.

He Served a Mission for the LDS Church to the Hawaiian Islands (Lucky Guy!) from 1955-1957. He learned the Hawaiian Language – in fact you may hear him still say a few phrases in Hawaiian even now! He continued to serve in the church throughout his life.

Joel Married Myra Hatch, from Randolph, Utah in October of 1957. They are the parents of 4 children and of 7 grandchildren.

Joel the served in the US Air Force from 1958-1962. He was stationed in Mississippi, Florida, Johnston Island (in the Pacific), and California.

Later Joel received training as an electronics technician, and worked at Tooele Army Depot for about 25 years. He would often have to travel for extensive periods of time with his work, which took him to Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, and to his beloved Wyoming.

Joel Retired from Civil Service in 1995. After his retirement, he and his wife, Myra, were able to make a cross-country trip in their motor home, which was always a life-long dream. Joel always liked tinkering with his motor home, and would always stay up on the latest in RV equipment and improvements.

Joel’s interests were many and varied. He enjoyed photography, and loved to develop and print his own pictures – he even built a darkroom in his basement! He enjoyed tinkering with and repairing electronics, and loved to listen to his shortwave radio. He took great interest in trains, especially locomotives. His dad was a fireman on locomotives, and his great-grandfather worked for the railroad, and was present when the Golden Spike was driven. Joel enjoyed traveling, and had an extensive collection of maps and guidebooks. He has visited all 50 of the United States. Joel loved classic movies, and over the years he collected hundreds of movies on video tape. He was quite a handy-man around the house. He did all of his own framing, drywalling , painting, plumbing and electrical work as he finished his basement.

Joel enjoyed oil painting. In fact, one of his paintings is hung here, on the wall of his room. Stop in and see it sometime!

Joel was always a kind and thoughtful person. He taught his children well, and is loved and respected by his family.
There was much more I could have included, but I had to keep it down to one page.  I hope dad would be pleased.