Years At St. Joseph's

Tea Parties and Pumpkin Pie


I Stock 000014277978 X SmallSharing tea parties and pumpkin pie is one of my favorite memories of the days I spent with Kamala at St. Joseph's. We had learned from Edward and from several of Kamala's friends that she LOVED sweets, and even had been known to have dessert as her main course in years past. 

So I asked her one day shortly before Thanksgiving if she liked pumpkin pie. Her eyes lit up and she nodded, "Oh, yes!" 

The Friday after that Thanksgiving and the day after every holiday our family served pumpkin pie, I would pack up my tea party picnic and toodle off to Castro Valley. I always had a special herb tea of peppermint, spearmint, linden flowers and rose petals that I'd prepare right before I left. I took especially pretty tea cups and plates, a sturdy but pretty teapot, a bouquet of antique roses, a lap tray with a pretty placemat, and the piéce-de-resistance --- the pie --- whipped cream and all. 

When I'd walk in the door, Kamala would already know what I was up to (more stories about that later). She would be positively beaming! She'd pat the bed beside her, inviting me to climb up and join her. From her hospital bed, I'd pour our tea, but the real treat was watching her with that pie. From the first bite, she'd be in bliss. 

When all the goodies were gone, we'd sit there just holding hands, enjoying the pleasure of being together, mostly silent, staring at the large photo of ... READ MORE

Kamala's Last Birthday Party


Party FinalJune 21, 1997 was Kamala's last birthday. About ten of us gathered to celebrate with Kamala. Because there were so many of us, the staff suggested we use the facility's social room, a pretty space with lots of windows and comfy seating.

We brought her funny little gifts that she enjoyed, like the silly blue ribbon she wears in the photo, with #1 imprinted in gold on its face. She really seemed tickled when we pinned that ribbon onto her sweater.

The Dunlop's brought a harmonium, and Jan played several of Master's chants. Kamala did not chant with us, but she smiled broadly and nodded her head to the music. She especially enjoyed O, Thou King of the Infinite, which Edward later told us was her favorite chant.

Kamala was in her element. She even asked to go to the piano and "tickle the keys," which astounded the St. Joseph's staff, who had not even been aware that Kamala could play the piano. 

It is a happy memory. We feel so blessed to have been able to make Kamala so happy on her special day, her final birthday on this earth.

Kamala and the Saint Joseph's Patio


Kamals Book11After her years of seclusion, while at St. Joseph's Convalescent Hospital in Castro Valley Kamala loved to have visitors. When we first found out about her residence at St. Joseph's, she had not had visitors for quite some time. Carol (Catalina) had some experience with nursing homes from her youth, and she insisted that we maintain a steady presence at St. Joseph's because when elderly have no visitors, their care is sometimes neglected. 

Carol also suggested that we get Kamala several little cotton housecoats, the kind with the zipper front or button front, several pairs of slippers, and some sweaters, and that everything be marked with indelible ink to identify Kamala's items in the various communal closets the staff would often use. Because Kamala dearly loved being outdoors on the patio, we also purchased as many lap blankets as possible and marked them all accordingly.

Whenever the weather permitted, we would take Kamala to the patio for her lunchtime. It seems in retrospect that the weather was most often good when we were there, because I remember very rare occasions when we were not able to go to the patio. 

Kamala was a strict vegetarian, and it seemed St. Joseph's was not accustomed to feeding vegetarian patients, because Kamala's lunches always seemed to be the same thing, a glass of milk, a glass of juice, and a cheese sandwich, which Kamala found quite ... READ MORE