It's About Time

It's About Time
e. schoettler

Kind of says it all for me right now.


NEW Video: Conversation with Jessica Piscitelli

In an interview with Ellouise Schoettler on Stories in Focus, Jessica Piscitelli, CEO and Founder of Better Said Than Done, talks about storytelling and tells a story.


Tales from Leo: Busy Days

Leo here.

Ellouise has already written about her take on the "strange days" around here.
What she says is certainly true but there is more to it - thought I would give you another eye-view of the goings on.

Jim's Funeral Mass will be at their parish church The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament this coming Saturday morning. For the past two weeks she's been making plans, writing lists, and getting things done. Yesterday she and her granddaughter Juliana completed the "program".
They laughed together as they switched font and rearranged the lay-out and occasionally Ellouise teared up, "I know he would love that you are helping me with this, Honey."
Ellouise switched from the formal picture to a smiling snapshot picture of Jim because in the picture he looks like he's ready to have a chat and that just fits the quotation for the front cover:
 "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears,
      but laugh 
      and talk of me as if I were beside you."  From a Celtic Memorial.

Yesterday she and grand-daughter Alison ran errands together and ended up at Johnson's Florist where they picked out the perfect flowers - white orchids.
Today Ellouise is setting up her sewing machine to make the Pall - a symbol of Jim's Baptism - to be placed on his urn during the Mass.

I heard her telling a friend the other day, "I am glad to have had the time to work out all the details and make these personal things - but the truth is --- the waiting makes it harder." And there is still more waiting ahead because they have not had a call from Arlington with a date for Jim's burial.

Its not all domestic and ritual planning - sweetness and roses. Jim's obituary ran in the Washington Post over the week-end and two days later the local CVS Pharmacy they use called to ask about two prescriptions for narcotics which had been submitted with Jim's name as the patient. Freaky. Ellouise called the prescription insurance company and CVS called the police but because the pharmacy challenged it no one ever showed to pick up. So BEWARE.  Because of this Ellouise has called the local police station about some type of coverage at the house during the funeral. And--the tasteful ad cards are arriving for photos and videos of all the events.

All that goes along with the "he has died" calls I hear Ellouise making starting with Social Security etc etc. Some require certified marriage certificates so her sister Kathy is making a quick stop at the Vital Records Office at the Mecklenburg County Court House as they drive through Charlotte Thursday.
There is a mountain of business stuff to take care of. "I have only touched the tip of the iceberg that sank the Titanic."

Ellouise cried today when the USAA agent said - '' we will retire his member number of 51 years and yesterday when her  cousin called and told her something thing her mother - one of Ellouise's favorite aunts - said when her husband died years ago - 
"you get up everyday and go on- that's what he would want!

OK, I know, I am just a stuffed lion  - - but as I listened and watched I understood.
Women need to connect with the love, strength and wisdom of the old ones  - - the survivors  - - of their Tribe.


Strange Days

Made in Venice in happier days.

These are strange days.
Jim died March 6. His funeral Mass is this coming Saturday - March 24 at 11 am at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Chevy Chase, DC.
His Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetary when ever we are scheduled - which could be anytime up to months away.

My days are strange - filled with tears and event planning while caught in a limbo of waiting.

People are wonderfully kind and I deeply appreciate the beautiful flowers, food, calls, cards and emails.
I know now that its not the words you send that matter - its the fact that you thought to reach out that is the comfort.  Deepest thanks.

Our family has drawn close - which is such a gift.
But underneath the closeness I feel such an aloneness - missing Jim. I now have to learn how to navigate the world on my own.

Many have offered suggestions  - all good hearted and kind - - - but I remember meeting a woman on a train from Venice to Munich 25 years ago who told me her story as she wept in the seat next to me:
  "My husband died a few weeks ago. We had planned this trip to Europe - our first - and when he died - my niece convinced me to come with them as we had planned. That's why I am here. Making the trip without him - but it was a mistake to come. I should have waited... until I was ready."

The one thing I am sure of -- is that I will be telling stories. Jim wanted that for me - because I love it.
But more, he believed in me and in the value of my stories. A storyteller friend told me recently, " Ellouise, he told me how much he believed your stories are important and that they touch the people who hear them."

I will take time now to sort myself out.

My first scheduled date is the Capital Fringe, Washington, DC - July 2012 - when I will present PUSHING BOUNDARIES - my ERA memoir. Dates to be announced.
If you are in the area I hope you will come to hear this story of personal and social transformation.


Tales from Leo: More on Winding Up

Hello - Leo here. Just wanted to tell you how things are going. People have asked to post information about when Jim's funeral will be -- so instead of my writing it all out I am using parts of an email Ellouise wrote to her family this afternoon.

"We have just finalized the arrangements for Jim’s funeral, and I wanted to let you know what we are planning.  
We will be holding a funeral mass followed by a simple reception on Saturday, March 24th at 11 am at our parish,church, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in Chevy Chase (http://www.blessedsacramentdc.org/).      At the end of the mass before the reception there will be a short opportunity for sharing remembrances.  

The death notice will be published in the Washington Post the week of the funeral. 

It will be several months until Jim’s ashes can be interred at Arlington National Cemetery where he will have a full military honors ceremony.
As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family. We knew that Jim's cancer was winning this battle but we never expected he would go so quickly -- within only 2 weeks of coming home from the hospital. We are very grateful that we could care for him so that  he could pass away in his own home, which is what he so wanted.  
Jim and I appreciated all your prayers and well wishes throughout his illness, and we hope you will continue to pray for him.

If you are wondering how Ellouise is getting along, I can tell you she has good times and sad times. Her tribe has gathered around her and that helps tremendously and she will be forever grateful for their watching out for her - as well as for all the sweet kindnesses of many people.

She is focused on home and her family but I heard her tell a friend, "I think storytelling may save me later ---- that's what Jim wanted."


Tales from Leo: Winding Up

Hello. It's Leo here.

Jim has died. March 6 at 4:15 pm. In his bed at home with Ellouise holding him.
 Ellouise and her closest family had time at home with him afterwards - I heard Ellouise saying, "this is one of the rewards of being with Hospice and staying at home."

Watching them I can tell you it was loving, beautiful and a very special time.

Ellouise told the Hospice Chaplin that she will write about this experience later but right now she is very busy
with arrangements for his Memorial Mass. "I want it to celebrate his life and to be something he would love."

There is a little time. Robin and her family will return from California. Jim will be buried later at Arlington National Cemetery.

How is Ellouise? Incredibly sad --- but making it through with help from her family and from her "tribe"... some close by and some from far away who come and wash the dishes, make Ratatouille, sing songs, send cards, call, write - or post.
She sends love to all.


Leo Tales: Going On

Hello. Its Leo here.

I haven't written before because Ellouise has not plugged in her computer since my last post. "Its too private to write about." she told her daughter Robin.

But I can tell you a few things about working with Hospice because I watch everything that happens here that has to do with Jim.

When a patient comes under the care of Montgomery Hospice they are assigned to a team: a chaplin, a social worker and the RN - their nurse. All fine and caring people!
In Jim's case he as also assigned a health care aide - the marvelous Elizabeth - who now comes five days a week to take care of him. He trusts her completely and she is a blessing in their lives.

In what I see Ellouise is the main caregiver- meaning she handles all the medicines, the food and general care etc. It is a big job and some nights she is really tired out. She finally went out to get her hair cut the other day and Jim said, "good" when she came home. I heard the nurse telling her "you have to take care of yourself. I tell that to all my families." She says, "its hard to leave - - "

The family has stepped in - and someone is here all the time - to be with Jim, to help with the care and to support Ellouise. They are a wonderful bunch who love their dad quite a lot. I heard Ellouise tell Jim, "We are so blessed."

The long and the short of it is that finally she called an agency and hired a CNA - that's a certified nursing aide and a strong, gentle and compassionate Ethiopian man entered their lives. Ellouise still manages Jim's care and medicines but now they have back-up and support from someone who is capable and well-trained. I heard Ellouise tell Jim's RN, "look I am a nursing school drop-out -- what do I know?"

"Ellouise, TLC is your medicine! Your job is to love him".

"Well that's not a problem for me. I have been loving him for 57 years."