Monday, October 5, 2009

Memorial Program: A Labor of Love

Alice was an award winning artist.
The funeral programs were both a reflection of her art and were inspired by her art.

Stacy and Sheryl designed the program. I encouraged an easy to produce design, but labor intensive won out.

Large 27" x 15" sheets were folded into a single, six envelope booklet.
Stacy and Meri hand bound the covers in artisan paper made by Alice herself.
This was a time consuming job that included gluing Alice's delicate paper and sewing on antique button from Alice's button collection.

click on images to enlarge

Sample Programs

Envelope Pages

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Memorial Service

We will be having a memorial service for Alice Kataoka. Everyone is welcome. Please dress comfortably, no suits/ties necessary. It will be held outside in Mom's forest. Reception to follow at her house. Valet parking will be provided, but better to carpool if you can.

Date: October 3, 2009
Time: 2PM
Place: The Kataoka residence
25725 Altamont Rd.
Los Altos Hills CA 94022

We will also be having a burial service on Monday, October 5th at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto at 11:00AM. Again, all are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mom says "Tootle-Loo"...

At 3:15AM this morning, Mom took her last breath while peacefully sleeping. Stacy, Auntie Meri and I were with her on her last night. As Rich points out, Mom went to share her wedding anniversary, Sept 15th, with my father. God has truely blessed us all with such an amazing mother, sister, grandma, auntie, and friend.

We have decided to have her memorial service on Saturday, October 3rd at her house, outside amongst the trees. Her burial will be on Monday October 5th. Details to follow.

Thank you to Everyone for their outpouring of love, support, nurturing, kind words, sharing of memories, and prayers.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14, 2009

Mom is comfortably resting, with deep breaths from her diaphragm, eyes closed in solitude, body still. Each week seems like several months have gone by with the rapid changes that we have witnessed in her, from "forgetfulness" to undeniable memory loss, to tremors and difficulty walking, to the intermittent loss of vision, to frightening anxiety, to one word responses and then no responses, from tenseness of muscles to stillness. I wonder what she hears now and takes in from the world around her, the constant hub-bub of Catie-Cate squeeling and nurses visiting, "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" playing in the background, novels read and prayers shared.

She has embodied the gentle and the strong, the matriarch of our family who has always cooked amazing meals, sewed our outfits, wove our blankets, created a space for creativity to happen, and eeked out whatever creativity we might have hidden down deep in those crevices of our being where no one else bothered to look... there she was... shining her light on all that we could be and all that we are. Thank you Mom!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Sheryl, Elizabeth, Emily and I drove up Saturday to see her Labor day weekend.

Her niece Carrie and her husband Tim and came up from Huntington Beach, on Friday and brought a lot of Thai food.

We arrived Saturday around 2 PM. Later that day Alice's nephew Kenny and his wife Karen came and brought lots of fruit. Kenny works for Melissa's gourmet food. Meri's son Dana flew up Saturday.

On Sunday, Alice's brother-in-law Beebe arrived with his wife Yuki.
By the end of the weekend it is becoming apparent moving Alice causes her a lot of stress, and may not be worth it. Hospice supplied a hospital type bed that has all the powered adjustments. She now has 24 hour care.

Her lucid moments are very rare -- scarcely a minute long. I can only guess at her lucidity by her eyes and reactions. Her reactions show when she can understand you. But it is very taxing for her to try and talk, but it sounded once to Sheryl and once to me like she was saying "I love you".

Meri decided to stay for a third week to help Stacy who is doing a heroic effort to keep things going with her Mom, a 3 year old and a 7 month old.

It is stunning how quickly the disease is progressing. Day by day there is a small change, and week by week the changes have been drastic. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Evaluations at UCSF

Mom checks in today at UCSF for CJD evaluation.
The tests run for two days so she will be staying at the hospital with her daughter Stacy.

Tests should confirm the diagnosis, and DNA tests will tell us if this is the inherited form.
If it is inherited then there is a 50% chance that Sheryl inherited it.
If it is Sporadic CJD, then Sheryl's chance is one in a million like the rest of us.

Since both of Alice's parents lived into their 90s with sharp minds, it is most likely Sporadic CJD.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Most Wonderful

I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.
-Emo Phillips

Even though Mom has major loss of cognitive ability, her personality is still shining through.
She loves playing with her granddaughters, and visiting with friends. While conversations at times are very taxing and causes her to fall asleep, she can still be heard laughing and exclaiming "wowser wheezers!"

Even though it is saddening to see such a once productive and creative person having such difficulty with simple tasks, it is comforting that she does not feel pain. She is still optimistic and feels she is getting better every day.

Unfortunately she has lost a notable amount of functionality in the week we were there (Aug 22-29). In fact, four weeks prior to her symptoms she was sewing beautiful curtains for Emily and Elizabeth's rooms and making two eggless cakes for Emily's 6th birthday. If the doctor is correct in the sCDJ diagnosis, then there is only about a fifty percent chance of her seeing 2010. Alice will be going for additional tests at UCSF on Wed Sept 2nd for more definitive evaluations.


A year or so ago, Alice won an art contest with a textile sculpture named "Conflagration". As wildfires burn through California, a prion disease is burning through Alice's brain.

At first she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and we thought this was the beginning of the "long goodbye". On Tuesday she was diagnosed with Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and it appears that our goodbye may be much too short.