Monthly Archives: November 2020

My Mom and Nair® Face Cream

November is National Family Caregivers Month. A time to give thanks to all those folks who are taking care of a loved one who is struggling with heath issues that cause serious impairments.

My mom was my dad’s caregiver for several years. My dad lost his eye sight to Macular Degeneration and he lost his memory to Alzheimer’s. She gave 150% of herself in taking care of my dad which caused her own health to begin to fail miserably.  The time came to make the very difficult decision to place my dad in a nursing home. The stress she experienced from her caregiver role was irreversible.

The kind of stress she experienced was not good. She often became dehydrated which would land her in the hospital. She lost all of her hair from stress which caused people to ask me if she was going through chemotherapy. She lost an incredible amount of weight and she wasn’t a very big person to begin with. And, her memory also started to plummet. I became my mom’s caregiver. One of the most uncomfortable hats I have ever worn.   

My mom eventually ended up in the same nursing home as my dad. She was showing signs of dementia as she was becoming dangerously forgetful. I have some crazy memories of the time my mom and dad were in the nursing home at the same time. Some memories are humorous and some not so much.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are so puzzling. One day my mom would be just fine, and I would question my decision of placing her in the nursing home. Then the next day, she would be so off that she was unpleasant to visit. Several times the social worker at the nursing home said to me, “Wendy, stop trying to rationalize with an irrational person.” Hard to do when it’s your mom and you just long for her to be okay.  

I would take my mom on a weekly visit to her favorite pharmacy. There she liked to shop for items such as toothpaste, cough drops, lipstick, and gum. I remember it was a good day for her on this one particular visit. She seemed alert and jovial.

She saw a small tube of Nair® Face Cream. All you women reading will understand this. As we get older, we start to grow whiskers. Not cool. So she wanted this cream to help her get rid of her unwanted facial hair. I totally agreed with her so I let her buy it. Keep in mind, she was having an alert day.

The next morning, I received a phone call from the nursing home. They were not happy with me and could not understand why in the world I would let my mom buy Nair® Face Cream. I told them because she asked if she could and she knew why she wanted it so I said yes.

Well, regardless of her alert day, her evening was not. She spread the Nair® Face Cream all over her face because she thought it was moisturizer. The nurses at the nursing home said her whole face was red and slightly ‘burned’ from this. I am sure you can imagine how badly I felt. I hung up and sobbed. Not from the scolding, as they had every right to chew me out, but from the unintentional hurt I caused my mom.

I was thankful when I went to visit her that day. Yes, her face was red, however, she was as happy as could be. We had coffee together, sang songs together, laughed together, and visited my dad together. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are just so puzzling.

Thank you, caregivers. Thank you for your endless love, your sacrifices, your patience, your commitment. I pray for you. I pray you find calm in the chaos that surrounds you. I pray you find peace in the decisions you must make. I pray you realize it is okay to ask for help! I pray you find the courage to know when you are no longer able to care for your loved one! I pray you take care of YOU! I love you and I honor you today and every day!

Stay Calm & Thank a Caregiver!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

It’s Gonna Be Okay

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Yesterday in my Classroom Management course, teacher candidates were discussing the Three Dimensions of Discipline found in the book Discipline with Dignity: New Challenges, New Solutions by Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler (2008). The first dimension, The Prevention Dimension, has 7 key points. One key point mentions how to handle conflict with students.

Together, we brainstormed how they see themselves handling conflict with their future elementary students. They tapped into all the information gleaned from this course and gave excellent examples. It was a proud moment for me. 😊 Then, the discussion landed us on a chat about the teacher’s lounge. You can about imagine where that conversation took us. Yikes…

I mentioned to them I believe THEY are experiencing conflict in their lives right now. This turned the focus of the discussion onto them, so I asked these teacher candidates how THEY are handling their life conflicts. How are they dealing with their stresses?

One stressor they are coping with this semester is worrying about getting their field experience hours completed. COVID is playing havoc on their field experiences with schools closing down for weeks at a time.

“What are we going to do if we can’t complete our hours?” they question with sincere concern in their voices.

Another stressor they are dealing with is they are in their methods year, which can be quite intense with several assignments from each methods class…sometimes all due on the same day. They have lessons plans to write and lessons to teach and research papers to write and presentations to give and articles to critique and edTPA commentary to review. They begin to doubt their abilities.

Dog pile on top of all that, the majority of my teacher candidates work an outside job to help pay tuition. That’s a lot. That’s a lot for any of us.

So…back to my question directed at my teacher candidates. How are they handling all this personal conflict? The number one answer from all of them in this class was…

They vent! They vent to each other (and sometimes to their mom).

They talk it out and when they realize they aren’t alone and know others are going through the same thing, it surprisingly helps them calm down. They have become family. I told them it was okay to vent.

One of the teacher candidates shared with the class she cries a lot. I told her it was okay to cry. And then I said to them: “It is going to be okay.” This same teacher candidate who said she has been crying a lot, asked if she could get that recorded for proof. I smiled and told her of course she could. She pulled out her phone, and I said it again only this time with a little more power…

IT’S GONNA BE OKAY! (Maybe I made it on Tik Tok??). 😉

Tasha Layton’s song came into my thoughts after I spoke those words out loud, so I started to sing these lyrics to my teacher candidates…

It’s gonna be okay

It’s gonna be okay

You’re gonna be okay!  

You got this, teacher candidates. 💪💪 Air hugs for all of you! 🤗 It’s gonna be okay. 🤎💛

Stay Calm & Go Ahead & Vent & Cry!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Now He Sings with the Angels

Forty years ago today. That seems like forever ago! And, yet, some days it seems like just yesterday.  

It has been 40 years since my brother, Randy, died as the result of a car accident on November 7, 1980. I was 21 and he was 23. He was two weeks away from his 24th birthday. The picture above was the last picture taken of him.

I received the call from my dad at about 3 o’clock in the morning. I remember the L O N G drive back home to my parent’s house, which was five hours away. The whole way home I convinced myself it was a horrible mistake!  It was someone else who had been driving his car! My brother was going to be just fine.

I’m so thankful for many memories of Randy. These memories of my brother bring such joy to my heart! I’d like to share just a few… 

I remember when we were young in 1966 and walking home from the Orpheum Theater downtown Pipestone. As we walked by the old courthouse on Hiawatha Avenue in the early darkness of evening, a man popped out of the bushes, and this stranger started to chase us. Randy grabbed my hand and took off running like a deer that had been spooked. I felt like I was flying behind him.  He never let go of my hand. 

My brother protected me.

In October 1979, Randy was driving me back to Marshall, MN because it was an ice storm and he wanted to keep me safe.  When we got to the Holland hill, there was a car on the other side of the road having troubles getting up the hill because of the ice. Randy pulled his car over to the side and got out to go help ‘push’ the car up the hill.  He didn’t hesitate once to get behind that struggling vehicle. I thought if he could do it so could I, so on went my mittens, and I hopped out to go help him. Eventually, all of us pushing that car up that icy hill experienced victory.

My brother was always willing to serve others.    

Another memory I have is of Randy driving us to Minneapolis to visit my dad’s side of the family in 1974. It was just him and me in his gold Chevy, windows down, hair blowing, music blasting, and my 14-year old self was feeling pretty groovy at the time. The song Taking Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive (BTO) was blaring from his cassette tape.  When this verse

Take good care

Of my business

When I’m away

Every day

boomed through the speakers, I glanced over at him and caught him looking at me while singing at the top of his lungs and grinning from ear to ear because he changed the lyrics to

Take good care

Of my sister

When I’m away

Every day

…almost as if he knew I’d need taking care of later in life.  

My brother loved me. 

Randy was an excellent singer and guitar player. That is the one thing I miss the most about him…his musical talent. I honestly believe if he were still alive today he would be a well-known country singer; even though he loved rock and roll (shh…don’t tell him I said that). 😉

Or, maybe, just maybe he would be a Christian singer. Do you know who Zach Williams is? The guy who sings Chain Breaker and There Was Jesus? Click on the links to give him a listen.

That is who my brother sounded like when he sang (kinda looked like him too). My brother would have made a fabulous Christian singer. 

Now…he sings with the angels in heaven. 

Losing a loved one is painful. A bible verse that brought some comfort to me after losing my brother was Isaiah 57:1. I know in my heart the Lord rescued Randy from something evil in this world, and for that I am thankful!

If you are struggling with grief right now, I pray you find a bible verse(s), possibly a book or two, and someone (God would be the perfect some One) who is a good listener to help you find healing. A book that may bring you comfort is No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending by Esther Fleece (2017). Esther wrote this book to “give you permission to grieve, to ask questions, to hurt—and to do so without apology” (p. 18). “All of us need lament. All of us long to be rescued from pain” (p. 19). My friend and colleague, Kandy Noles-Stevens, wrote a book called The Redbird Sings the Song of Hope which is a beautiful tender expression of what grieving people wish others knew. I highly recommend both books.

May I ask you a huge favor? Please love your siblings! If you are estranged with any, please find reconciliation and forgiveness in your hearts! Please love your family. Our days are numbered and we never know how long we will have our family around. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

In joyful memory of my only sibling, Randy Lane Wussow, the lucky guy who got to give Jesus a real hug 40 years ago today. I can only imagine what that was like.

Love you, Bro!!! Keep strumming. Keep singing. I know I will see you again someday! Until then, I am thankful for my fond memories of you.

Stay Calm & Love Your Siblings!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Fleece, E. (2017). No more faking fine: Ending the pretending. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.

Noles-Stevens, K. (2016). Redbird sings the song of hope. Westbow Press.