A love story in Barton: Grandma’s confusion troubles

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Memorial Day is drawing near and Hank and Jeff were both covered in sawdust at Wisconsin House Woodworks in Barton; the pair are designing a new podium for the Memorial Day ceremony in West Bend.


Veteran Terry Vrana, owner of Vrana Lock & Safe, requested the podium on behalf of the local American Legion Post.


“I’ve got the parts glued up,” said Jeff. “The glass will be embedded in the front and then I’ll recess the area with the flag box and probably put some fluted columns on each side.”


Hank listened intently; he was personally passionate about the project and felt honored to help.


The podium will include a POW/MIA stained glass piece on the front with a triangle flag box display case resting below. Gold star mother Liz Kryst, who lost her son Kevin Kryst in Iraq on Dec. 18, 2006, will be the keynote speaker.

Essie breaks down


Essie walked down the wooden steps to the basement of the duplex toting a heavy basket of laundry. “Oh drudgery,” she muttered in her out-loud voice. It was her third load in as many days. Washing day had turned into everyday.


Grandma’s clothes made up a majority of the soiled items.  Essie separated the whites and with each article of clothing she relived the event, an accident or mishap. She had been trying to shrug them off – grandma was simply aging, but the frequency of these episodes was increasing.


“Oh my,” said Essie as she held up grandma’s white apron with yellow trim and a small flower pattern.  “I should have cut this apart for scraps.” The apron was well singed …. and that was being kind.


Essie awoke one morning to the smell of smoke.  She walked into the kitchen which was a haze of smoke.

Grandma had been up early baking bread but she mistakenly turned on the stove-top burners and caught her apron on fire.  By the time Essie entered the kitchen grandma was tugging at the knot and slapping at the flames.


It wasn’t an aggressive fire but unsettling, mostly for Essie. Grandma shrugged it off as Essie opened a window to clear the air. Grandma couldn’t even explain how it happened and she looked distant and confused.


It was a look Essie was becoming all to familiar with. It was the same look she had when Essie found grandma in her bedroom. “What are you doing grandma,” said Essie as she clutched her chest with relief and fought to catch her breath.


They had been outside prepping the garden for the season. Essie was tossing stones and pulling random weeds and when she turned around grandma was gone. Essie figured she went to the shed for spade or a pail. When grandma didn’t come back Essie poked her head into the shed. Empty.


“Grandma,” called Essie.


She looked down the driveway, poked her head over the fence and kept an eye under the neighbor’s laundry on the line for off-white tennis shoes and dark, slouchy socks. “Grandma,” yelled Essie.


She looked in the basement, her feet clapping rapidly down the wooden stairs. Nothing.


Up the stairs Essie checked the kitchen, the bathroom and pushed open the dark wood door to grandma’s room. “Grandma,” said Essie – almost in a whisper. “Grandma… why are you in bed?”


The noise of the washer kicked Essie back to reality. She tossed the muddy bedding into the steaming tub of water as she remembered that look and grandma’s muddled response.


It was getting to be too much. Essie hung her head and began to sob. Silently. Painfully weeping. The feeling was overwhelming; crushing. What was she going to do; grandma was getting to the point where she couldn’t leave her alone.


A bike for Essie

Hank wheeled the bike up the hill from Vrana Frame and Body Shop.  The remodel of the business was underway and the fellas at the shop were eager to give the bike to someone who would use it.


Hank hadn’t seen Essie for a while but knew, through word at Sandy’s Cafe, that she was having a tough time with her grandma.


A bike wasn’t a cure all, but Hank thought Essie may be inspired by the upcoming Amazing Ride for Alzheimer’s and maybe a spin around the block would bring a little relief.


Come see Hank & Essie in action

On Monday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. Hank and Essie will be taking part in a photo shoot at Regner Park for an upcoming article on Saturday’s Washington/Ozaukee County Heart and Stroke Walk.


Team Mason of Barton is walking in honor of Mason Holbrook, who recently left Children’s Hospital after having a seizure, stroke and passing out.


Part of Mason’s family will be posing with Hank and Essie at the park to promote the walk. Neighbors are welcome to come see what a photo shoot is like.


We should be in the area of the Silver Lining Stage for about an hour, depending on the weather.



Build. Boost & Buy in Barton  – – Shop these local businesses

          Wisconsin House Woodworks

          Reflections by the River

          Albiero Plumbing


           Mies Products
           Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground

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