January 1, 2016 • Welcome, weary web traveler! You’ve come upon the blog chronicling a very interesting time in the life of Deepwell USA – the years from late 2009 to the end of 2015, when a strange last will and testament by someone named Ruby Wood wrought some pretty far-reaching changes in our town. If you haven’t yet been to RubysBequest.org, make sure you do so – that’s where all the action took place. (And if you think something’s amiss, better read this.)

Deepwell mourns its friend

Deepwell mourns its friend

As the people of Deepwell struggled with the challenges posed by Ruby’s will, they posted their thoughts here in this blog – as well as events in their lives and the occasional bit of news about the bequest. Most of it is mundane I guess, but some of it I find quite profound. It’s all in reverse chrono order, so best if you start with the oldest posts and work your way up.

But maybe you don’t want to read it. You’re time-pressured, darn it! You shout, “Etta, GET TO THE POINT!” Okay. The point is: It was really hard to think about caring – but it was really necessary, too. It was really hard to talk to others about caring – but that was really necessary, too. In the end, thanks to the hundreds of people who shared, some amazing things happened and some really true things were revealed about the future of caring.

I especially want to thank the people who wrote to us about loss, who gifted us with wisdom they learned through hard experience. Because we in Deepwell are in loss today – one among us, Phil Geddings, has died of leukemia. You don’t know Phil – he didn’t post to this blog, or end up telling his story at Ruby’s Bequest. Like so many people, he was too caught up in caring for real to afford the luxury of talking about it in the abstract. But most of us here in Deepwell knew Phil, many of us worked with him (or wanted to).  He was one of those people you can openly like right away – he was so clearly a team player, and everyone was on his team. Regarding Ruby’s Bequest, he was very much with us in spirit – he still is – and our hearts go out to his family and friends.  Photo by Shad0.

December 31, 2015 • I know what you are thinking, another post about Ruby Wood, and this is just not in the way that you think it might be…………..

I’m engaged!!!!

James has asked me to marry him. I’m thrilled, I’m ecstatic but mostly I’m really, really happy.

You know none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Ruby Wood (who I still keep thinking of as an actual person who exists, its really hard for me not to).
If it wasn’t for the Bequest and the DCI and Columbia we wouldn’t have had the Mental Health Center and James would never have moved to Deepwell.

So I have Ruby Wood et all and all parties involved to thank for my happiness. Well ok, I have myself to thank for that because I have learned so much in the last few years about actually being happy. When I look back to January 2010, it’s surreal. I like myself now and I’m not sure that I did back then. Continue Reading »

December 31, 2015 • I just wanted to say thanks. This has been a long and sometimes unforgiving six years. I think I have lived another lifetime in its span. I don’t feel like the same person who wrote that first blog post about Bev Orosco. Because I have learned so much from all of you.

We ended up with a DCI of 258. You know what? The Ida May Foundation has given Tau to more people than that. Silvercare has touched more people than that. More than 258 people have participated in Kids Care. So you know what I say? Rot to the DCI.

We know how much we care, and that amount is limitless. It can’t be counted in numbers, because we don’t have the vocabulary.

So even though this part is over, the whole cussed Bequest part (and all the pain it brought back when the story came out), rest assured that Deepwell cares more than anyone will ever know. But I, for one, am darned sure happy not to have to jump through a dead woman’s hoops anymore.

I love you all. Keep on caring.

December 31, 2015 • Okay, we came up short, DCI-wise. Big whup. For me at least, Ruby’s Bequest stopped being about money a long time ago. Somewhere along the line I guess I got the notion that 300 was actually impossible, that no community has ever scored 300 in their Caring Index. Not that I think Ruby Wood was being cruel to us or anything. Sometimes it’s best not to know that you’re attempting the impossible, or else you’ll never even get close.

May 1, 2015 •
…And no, she isn’t “all of us” or some similar sentiment. She was real, and she lived in Deepwell, and I know almost all of the story. Grab a cup of tea or some popcorn, and settle in; it’s storytime.

Honestly, I had given up. Padma and I hit a brick wall in our database inquiries a few years ago, and with all the other things going on in town and my PODCare commitments, I just didn’t have the time or the energy to push further. I knew Ruby must be an alias, or a nom de plume, but I wasn’t getting any hits on that name. Then Nora went to France with her French class for their new Study and Care Abroad program. She came back with a charming accent and an iPod full of French music, among other things. The evening she returned home, she hung out in the kitchen with Brian and me, chattering away about the Louvre, and volunteering at l’hôpital, and plugged her iPod into the dock so she could set the mood. While we made supper (bouillabaisse, in Nora’s honor) we listened to Charles Aznavour, and Edith Piaf, and even some Maurice Chevalier. Then the song, “Puits profond de mon coeur,” poured into the room, with a smoky, sad voice. It’s been a long time since my one year of high school French, but even I could recognize the words “deep” and “well.” Oh yeah, Nora exclaimed, I thought that was cool, a French song with “deep well” in the title. It’s by an old singer named Rubi du Bois. I dropped my ladle in shock. It couldn’t be a coincidence!

So now I had a name and a place. Rubi du Bois in Paris, circa 1970, the year the song came out.  Was this really our Ruby?  I learned everything I could about her, depending on Nora and Google to translate as most of the material I found was in French.  The best I could piece together was that Rubi had moved to Paris in the 60s, and, most important, there was a mention of a sister named Evelyn who lived in Chicago.  I knew I was on the right track.  Evelyn must have lived in Deepwell at some point.

There haven’t been that many Evelyns in Deepwell over the years, which helped.  If you’ve lived in Deepwell for as long as MeelieSue and Brian’s parents and a few others have, you may have heard the sad story of Richard and Evelyn Broward.  That family was in the newspaper quite a few times over the years, none of it good.  Out of respect for the family, I’ll not repeat the stories here, but the curious can come down to the library and read the microfiche just like I did.  Just keep in mind that this is someone’s personal history, and there is still a lot of pain out there.

So things being what they are, I have put faces to those long-ago names and I know something that Etta doesn’t, for probably the first time since we both moved to Deepwell, heh. Ruby was originally Rosemary, and she is Etta’s aunt.

Rosemary Alice Carr, aka Rubi du Bois, aka Ruby Wood, died September 12, 2009 in Paris, and was cremated and interred there, the only place she truly felt at home.  Her gift to Deepwell was her attempt to reconcile with her past, and give hope for the future.  There is one other person who plays a part in this story, but I think she needs to tell her side of things for herself.  And no, it’s not Etta.  Although I’m sure Etta has a few questions of her own.

R, if you’re out there and you’re reading this, please speak up.

Feb 15, 2015 • Emelia gets to stay now that the anti-immigration law has thankfully been repealed. This is such a huge relief!! Particularly since she is teaching my brother how to crochet and knit. He started when he became clean. I guess quitting drugs (and I’m assuming drinking. smoking or anything similar) left him with a bunch of nervous energy and working with his hands and keeping busy (NA meetings at the center) really help. He has gotten really good at it. As a matter of fact I am wearing a huge, snuggly muffler that he made me to keep warm, particularly since I haven’t been running the heater much since we are having an energy shortage.

Well the cat is out of the bag since James and I were spotted walking in downtown Deepwell hand in hand. but it’s ok now, it’s been five months. James and I met at the Deepwell Community Mental Health Center where I am volunteering (earning my rubies!!) and he works as a Psychiatric Social Worker. We don’t really work too closely so it’s not uncomfortable or weird. I’m just really happy right now.

Someone else who seems really happy is Sam. She has joined a Panic Support Group at the Center and participates via their Telemedicine/e-health program, using a webcam and Skype. It has helped her a great deal to have more close interaction with others who have Agoraphobia and Anxiety Disorders. I can’t wait for the day when she can walk right into the center on her own.

Also as some of you know I have decided to start a small non-profit organization bringing therapy animals to the Deepwell Senior Day Center, the Mental Health Center and the Pediatric ward of the hospital in Robertson. It is a lot of work but I have decided to give up some other activities, mainly civic and political, in favor of this, which feels more fulfilling to me. One of the interesting things I have discovered is that several of our clients at the Mental Health Center already have service animals, mainly for Bi Polar Disorder and even a couple for anxiety related issues.

But here is a huge new development, with all this talk of therapy animals, Sam has gotten a therapy dog. It’s a cute Lhasa Apso named Suki. The change in Sam has been amazing! She is even walking Suki up and down her street!!

Feb 15, 2015 • Over the past few years, so much has changed in Deepwell. I can’t believe it’s been six years since all of this began. While we’ve worked to make Deepwell the town that does care right, I’ve tried to be the man who cares right. I’ve cared wrong in the past and thought I had it all figured out afterward. Ruby’s Bequest has taught me so much more.

Throughout all of this, I’ve known that I’ve been avoiding a big caring issue in my own life. I knew I had to sit down with my father and talk about the future. My father lives up in Wisconsin, far from the rest of the family. I often wondered what we would do if something happened to him, but it wasn’t something we ever really talked about. Well, I finally bit the bullet. I sat him down and we talked. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I don’t really know why I was ever avoiding it in the first place. All I really had to do was start the conversation and my dad rambled on and let me know everything he wanted. So here it is. Seventeen minutes of our heart-to-heart talk. (Can you take it?) 😉

Hopefully, it might help someone else get up the nerve to start the same conversation with their parents.

Oct 20, 2014 • Let me start by saying I don’t really understand what’s happening. I’m not alone – I’m not sure any one person understands it all. After years pushing pushing pushing to get things to happen, now things are beginning to happen on their own?

Best maybe if I use an actual example, and YOU tell ME what this all means.

The circle starts with Hap

The circle starts with Hap

So this example starts with Hap Drupa, who lives three blocks from me. Hap is 70ish, widowed, and a bit lonely I guess. His son Tad, who lives in Atlanta, bought him a smart home setup and calls Hap quite often, but still. Hap wants “real people.” So Tad posts a request on PODCare, saying “will someone come take my dad for a walk once a week? Get him out of his bathrobe?” (LOL, Hap is not the lounge-in-bathrobe type)

So Andrea responds and says yeah, she’ll do it. Andrea’s in a wheelchair, which is kinda perfect, because shifted into low she and Hap cruise at the same relaxed pace. Tad wants to pay Andrea but she says “nuts” to that. BUT in an inspired moment Andrea gets on Silvercare and pokes around in Atlanta, and sure enough she finds Trish who’s looking for some casual help once a week with her grown daughter, Meg, who has cerebral palsy. So Andrea asks Tad if he will pay Andrea back by looking in on Trish and Meg instead?

Well this suits Tad fine because his daughter Kylie (you keeping this all straight? cuz there will be a quiz later) has community service goals in her school. So Tad and Kylie visit Trish and Meg there in Atlanta, and often Tad will call Hap from there, so it gets to be like a happy family.

So now Kylie meets Andrea, and they pal or friend or bf or Continue Reading »

Oct 20, 2014 • I know a bunch of people are angry about the bleak outlook portrayed in “Citizen Kid”, but that’s Hollywood for ya. They need to put a spin on things to get people into the theater, especially in this economy. I’m not saying that what they showed wasn’t the truth. They just chose to highlight the massive amount of work ahead of us, rather than the small successes we’ve had so far (and in such a short time!).

I must say, Kids Kare has succeeded in ways I never thought possible. We started out with adding caring issues to the curriculum at the schools, added a few after school activities and the next thing you know, we’re working with Americorps on the summer volunteer program and Columbia University sets up a research station here. Even some of Obama’s people stopped by to check us out. Pretty amazing, huh?

Now that Kids Kare, PODcare and Silvercare are joining forces, you can bet your rubies that we’ll be unstoppable!

Aug 20, 2014 • I have just learned the Emelia, the woman who helps take care of my parents, might have to leave the country?!?? Emelia is 65 years old and has lived in the US for over 30 years! This is ridiculous! I don’t know what to do. Emelia is a shining light of positive energy who came into our lives when mom had her second stroke, like an angel sent to us when we needed her most. Now she is like a wonderful Aunt who gives great advice and tries to fatten me up “because men like a little meat on those bones”. I *need* Emelia, she is family now, we can’t function without her.
Actually, little does she know, but I have recently started dating someone. I’m not ready to say who yet on who but I will say that is someone newly transplanted to Deepwell and he is a super nice guy.
Also Greta and Ingrid are Zoo Flu negative, thank god. Honestly I don’t know what I would do without my little girls.

Jun 27, 2014 • It hardly seems like four months since we lost Ida May. Valentine’s Day was always a bittersweet day for me at best, but will be doubly so now.

Since then, I have been lost. I spent so much time caring for her that I have not known what to do with myself. I’ve been rattling around in this big old house all by myself like a lone pea in a can. The loss of Ida May on top of all my cats to the double-cursed “pinkeye” or “zoo flu” or whatever the news wants to call it these days nearly killed me as well. I admit that I hoped I would get sick and die, too. A dark time for MeelieSue, ducks.

Several weeks ago I sat down with Ida May’s estate lawyer and it was no surprise to me that I was named sole beneficiary to her estate. What was a surprise was the absolute enormity of the estate itself. She had been very canny about her investments over the years. Very, very canny. I’m talking about nearly nine digits canny. I had no idea.

What’s an old woman (or a Cool Old Bat) like me going to do with all that money? I’m perfectly happy just the way I am – or the way I was, before Ida May got sick. And there’s the rub. I bet there are a lot of people out there in the world right now who are perfectly happy just the way they are right before they are struck with Alzheimer’s.

So here’s my little contribution: I have been speaking with none other than Ashleye Blackbourne and I am going to use all of Ida May’s money to set up a foundation to assist people who need Tauremopravil to stave off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but can’t afford to pay for this incredibly expensive drug themselves. Mental clarity should not be reserved only for the rich.

Apr 25, 2014 • I’m very excited about the opening of the Deepwell Community Mental Health Center. I’m so glad that the center was able to get the additional last minute funding from Columbia University. I’ve heard that it will utilize many of the new types of technology available like Telemedicine.

Will be great for people outside of Deepwell and maybe even people like Sam who can’t leave the house. I’m signed up to volunteer on Tuesday evenings (after yoga!). They also have a large meeting room and will have many of the 12-step meetings that people used to have to go to Ackley for.

Things are going well with PODcare, better now that the “economic” issues have been worked out. It’s so much easier to help out my parents and Sam. I mean it makes sense that if I am driving out to Robertson that I can take Mrs. Evans to her accupuncturist and if Maddie is driving to Wellsburg that my mom can go with to see her neurologist right? I also like the text blast feature. You never know when a last minute errand might benefit someone else too.

Also if anyone needs a ride to the Tompkins funeral please let me know. I have two spaces available in my car.

Feb 13, 2014 • This is a hard thing to say, but Ida May’s time is very soon now. If you have been thinking about coming over and saying anything to her, you should do it as quickly as you can. I don’t know if she can hear you – in my heart, I like to believe that she can – but I know it makes me feel better to talk to her even though she can’t say anything back.

It feels so ironic to me that I’m watching her leave me just as the “miracle cure” for Alzheimer’s is coming into play, that drug that nobody can even pronounce and everyone just calls “Tau.” Tauremonpravadil? Something like that. I haven’t had enough energy to watch the news. All I know is that there are so many people it could help, but only the very rich at this point can even dream of affording it. It’s too late for people like Ida May, but those just diagnosed? So help me, if I could keep just one person from going through what I’m going through right now, so help me, so help me. This is hell on earth.

Feb 13, 2014 • I got a CAR!!!  Silvercare has been such a success for my mom and I that we got me a brand me wheelchair accessible car!  It has a swivel wheelchair lift with auto lockdown so I can secure my chair without help and just drive!  It also has autoguide hand controls so it doesn’t bother my arthritis to drive, Voiceprint activated secure entry, rear and side cameras, Bluetooth 5.0, navigation with autopilot cruise control, and so on!  I am so excited.  This is truly freedom for me!

Oh and of course I got the car in Silver! 😀

Speaking of Silver… Silvercare has really spread!  The word is out and we are getting calls from all over the country!  We are now in several dozen locations all over the country that manage specific regions.

And people are loving the technology!  I think Silvercare Smarthouses might be the new fad.  Who would have though that people would want to broadcast video of themselves doing nothing in their houses all day just for the fun of it?  I never thought that a trend would emerge from our attempt to care for people remotely.  The emails we’ve been getting about how Silvercare has changed people’s lives for the better are amazing!  That kids are able to watch Grandma from an interface over their desk after school from the other side of the country until Mom gets home to take over has allowed people to continue to live independently for so much longer!

It’s truly inspiring to hear the success stories of disabled young adults in particular.  With our automated remote med dispension and constant monitoring for problems young adults are able to live independent lives when they never could before especially those with developmental disabilities.

I could go on and on, but I’m off to a meeting with Google.  Can you believe it?!  I’ll check in again soon!