Everyday Life Clamors For Attention

October 19, 2014

I’ve been mostly in neutral for a while – it feels beige and nondescript.  Sometimes there are things I have to do, other I know they need to be done and I have no energy.  Tuesday was a day I had a hard time finding energy, I am glad I at least wrote a post.  Wednesday I went to Breakfast Club because I enjoy the people there, plus I had a signed order to send in.  Then I to the funeral home to make arrangements.  I have been putting it off, mainly because it is the one physical part of the whole process. It’s the one thing that has made me uncomfortable.   Anyway, I arranged for the ashes and I need to take Dad;s over there so they will be together as Mom wanted.

Then I went up to Everett to the Olive Garden to celebrate Joan’s birthday.  I did quite well and was able to be calm and not be a downer. It was a lift along with Breakfast Club after being so tired and a bit down on Tuesday.  I had a good time and glad I decided to go.  On the way home I stopped at Les Schwab to check my tires – my yellow light was on and I though maybe one tire was low.  Everything was fine, but even though he evened the pressure on all the tires, the light stayed on.

Eddie had gone to the archives and then did some things afterwards – he was home before I arrived.  He decided to take off Thursday and Friday.   I put in the sales order on Thursday morning, then we went down to the Nissan dealership to have them check the light.  We had stopped at Ikea before the dealership – they have changed their menu and don’t have the herring any more.  There used to be  separate case with several kinds of herring and we always enjoyed that.  Then they didn’t have it any more – the head office decided all the stores had to be the same.  Phooey!  Couple o times they had little cups of herring but this time it was just the salmon, no herring at all.  So you have to buy the jars if you want herring.  Bummer!

We waited for the car and it turned out one of my sensors on the left front tire was gone – only $185 to replace it.  Now my light doesn’t come on any more.  By then I was really tired and just wanted to go home.  Friday Eddie went to have his car serviced and I took Dad’s ashes to the funeral home – I will pick them up on Monday – some will be sent to Candy.  I checked about the ferry and they need a little notice and it has to be a biodegradable container to drop over the side.  Then the library and Bartell’s.

The night before I woke up in the middle of the night and realized there were some things of Mom’s we hadn’t picked up – I wasn’t thinking too clearly the Saturday before – plus Judy wasn’t there.  So after the funeral home I went to see Judy – she had tried to call me and my phone was off.  She was surprised we had left things – we didn’t see them in the piles.  So I think we have everything now , the rest of the things will be given away to those who can use them.

I seem to have a pattern of sleeping fine when I go to bed, but waking up about 2:30 and not being able to go back to sleep.  It hasn’t help with resting and regaining my energy – not sure what is going on with it.  It used to happen a while ago and then I was doing okay – just had trouble getting to sleep at night.  It all feels a bit jumbled and upside down.  Probably normal after Mom’s passing, but I’m not sure what is normal for me.  I am working on one day at a time.  Yesterday Eddie was at the Car Show for the Car Museum and today he is at the Museum of flight.  The past four days have felt like Sunday because Eddie has been home or we have done things together; no doubt part of the reason everything feels jumbled.

This coming week should be a bit more regular – I have Dave Gagley on my show tomorrow, he is a great attorney  and has helped me so much with Mom’s affairs.  The reason things have gone easily with Mom is I have had Dave there to give me advice and legal help, so I want people to know how important it is to prepare so there isn’t a lot of scrambling and running around at the time of dying.

I have been thinking about having a Celebration of Life for Mom in the next month or so – I want there to be a close to the affairs, there will not be a close for Mom and Dad because they are always with us.  I’d like to have my sister as part of it, but it may not be possible – they will certainly be here is spirit.

Somewhere In Neutral

October 14, 2014

I have to do at least one thing today – so far I have slept, watched tv and been on the computer, but not accomplishing anything.  I got up with Eddie this morning to have breakfast with him, he is spending the day at the Convention Center for the Interior Show.  Then we have the volunteer dinner tonight – he is the volunteer in the family.  I feel at loose ends, somewhere in neural – that’s the phrase that comes into my mind.

After he left, I checked email and then went back to bed.  I had trouble going to sleep because I was cold, then had weird dreams.  When I got up, I checked the clock and thought it was 1:00.  I had a show and got dressed, then looked at the clock again – it was only 11:30.  I’ve been sleeping well, so I may be beginning to unwind and release tensions of the last few years.  I did my show yesterday with Krista Gibson as my guest – she is great to have on the show and I enjoyed interviewing her.  Actually, I wanted her to clarify a couple of things I had heard her say because it was just a vague I think I know, but I was looking for I know that I know.  Now I am letting it simmer on the back burner until it really sinks in.

Before the show, I had a chance to meet and talk with Consuelo – her show is at 8:00 a.m., so I hear it as I am driving to the station.  I like what she has to say, plus she is the one who told me about Sound Cloud.  As we were talking, I asked her if it was too soon to see if my Mom had transitioned smoothly and was she with Dad and Josephine – Consuelo said she is there with them and it went smoothly.  She is happy and surrounded by love.  I was so glad to hear that – I know how scared Mom was to let go and all three of us girls told her Dad would be waiting.

After the show I went to see Dave, my attorney friend, about a matter for my sister.  He wasn’t there but I was able to give Dana the information and I will probably see Dave tomorrow at Breakfast Club.  Then went to see Dr. Cheryl for an adjustment.  My shoulders and neck have been stiff and sore – a large weight I have been carrying?  I’m not sure I am ready to examine feelings and emotions right now; I know it needs to be addressed.

I went to my caregiver support group, told them about Mom.  I realized I had been doing a lot of venting, but it was necessary and I knew it was a safe place.  I didn’t say a whole lot and there were two new people.  We ended up with 2 Jeans and 2 Lauries.  Then there was Claire and me, later Toni.   Last night I suddenly realized I don’t have to deal with that any more.  I am a little reluctant to say Mom’s passing is a relief – for her because she isn’t anxious or confused any more; for me because I was having trouble handling going to see her each week, seeing her decline before my eyes.

I was really tired when I came home, then fell asleep for a bit before dinner.  I could have gone to bed at any time, I didn’t want to find myself wide awake in the middle of the night because I had gone to sleep at 7.  My mind feels a bit like mush, hard to hold on to a thought or action for very long.  I feel as if it is one of my “drag my ass tired” periods with RA.

I hear from friends this is fairly normal.  It was very different when Dad died, our niece from Jerusalem was visiting and we left for Virginia after the Celebration of Life open house.  I went home and had to put my cat to sleep and our niece had used our phone to call her fellow and he kept calling.  Eddie was really upset because he told her not to use the phone, plus his sister and her husband didn’t want her talking to him either.  I finally answered the phone, told him I would let her talk to him once but not to call again because I had too much to deal with at that moment.  I told her the same thing, but he kept calling, so I didn’t answer the phone.  So she was mad at us and when she went back home, she didn’t speak to us for a long time.  There was a lot a stuff going on and for a while I couldn’t think about Dad.

Finally I sat down and wrote to him, at times hard to see the keyboard because I was crying, it felt good to put it in words.  I think I wrote at least a couple of other times – wonder where I put the sheets.  What has always surprised me is that whenever we came here to visit afterwards, it didn’t seem strange Dad wasn’t here.  It’s more than that. but I don’t have the words to describe it.  The experiences are different,  not sure what works for me.  Mom’s passing is still so new, I am just being and seeing what happens.  It’s odd how I suddenly remember she isn’t here any more and it brings me up short.

Glad to know I accomplished something today.

Bouquets For Mom

October 12, 2014

Last Wednesday, late in the afternoon, Luzma came back for a second visit.  This time she brought John and vases of roses – because she said the house should be filled with roses for Mom.  So she brought:


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Red Roses for the mantle

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Peach roses for the record cabinet

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Small roses for the buffet

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Daisies and balloon for the dining table.

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Luzma is really upset about Mom’s passing

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Mom was there for her in some very scary times; then Luzma and John wrapped in family while she was alone for 2 years.

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I love the butterfly in each bouquet.

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Delores brought a lovely azalea that day – Mom would have enjoyed the flowers, though she had difficultly giving the gift of receiving.

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It is lovely to see the roses slowly opening up; as if they know how much Mom loved roses

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There is something heartwarming to see the roses opening and spreading their joy

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It is very comforting to look around the room and see all the lovely flowers surrounding us.

Thank You to all who knew Mom and loved her.  She had no idea how many people thought how sweet, warm, welcoming, caring, funny and loving she always was with other people.  Judy at the adult family home thought she was a darling, the others in the home loved her; Sherry, the receptionist at the Center  said Mom was a hoot.  She was different with other people and I had trouble seeing that side.

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This is the Mom I remember – an amazing woman, a wonderful wife, and a great Mom.  This was her 90th birthday with her friends and daughters to celebrate with her.

Her Journey’s End

October 9, 2014

Yesterday morning at 4:50 my Mom died peacefully in her sleep.  She had her 96th birthday last month and she finally was ready to let go and make her transition.  We had a call shortly after from Judy, her caregiver to tell us Mom had died.  It was part expected and in part startled me.  Since the doctor had said she was going into the last stages of dementia, I didn’t know how long she would be with us.  It is a relief and also upsetting; even though I knew Mom didn’t want to be here, that she missed my Dad and her cat Josephine.  Judy asked if I wanted to see her body, but I said No; I wanted to remember her the way she was when I saw her Friday – fast asleep under the covers, looking warm and comfortable and holding the weighted baby doll.

I am not sure what I am feeling or what I need or want – I feel at sixes and sevens, sort of wandering around wondering what I am supposed to do.  I called my sisters to let them know, I spoke to Ellen and had to leave a message for Candy because she wasn’t available.  Eddie had a conference he was helping put on and there was no need for him to stay home.  I think it helped him concentrate on that rather than Mom.  I went to my Breakfast Networking Group – Julia asked why I was there.  I didn’t want to be at home.  I’m so glad I went, this group of people have been there to support, encourage and help me through some difficult times – they are close friends rather than just people with businesses I network with every Wednesday.

I am still alternately calm and teary/drippy, never sure when the drippy will appear.

LATER

I’m having trouble settling to anything – I quit writing this because I couldn’t  keep going – usually I go into a flow once I start writing.  I’ve been wondering if writing it out would help – not really sure any more.  I tried having a lie down, to possibly sleep; didn’t happen.  I know I am tired – probably exhausted, but sleeping is not working out very well.  It took me a while to get to sleep last night – then I noticed how stiff and uncomfortable I was.  Not sure what is going on.

Back to the story:

After Breakfast Club I went to see Judy.  She told me Mom was very different on Tuesday, she noticed changes that weren’t there before – she recognized it probably wouldn’t be too long.  She checked on Mom quite often that night and then Mom was gone.  She reassured me that I had done everything I could for Mom and that she feels the loss as well.  She loved my Mom, as she loves all the residents as long as they are there.  It is difficult for her to see them go.  I have tried to tell Judy as often as I can how much I appreciate her, all that she did for Mom and to thank her.  She told me many times that it made such a difference for her to be appreciated – I don’t think too many do that.  She said Mom was a darling and everyone in the house loved her.

I keep meaning to tell Ellen the lilies she sent for Mom’s birthday are still beautiful – they are on the dining room table for everyone to enjoy.  Some have lost their petals, but quite a few are blooming.

I came home  and found a voicemail from Candy – I’m sorry I wasn’t able actually talk to her.  I called the Allens and also John and Luzma to tell them.  I ended up checking my emails and then had a cup of tea and a pear for lunch.  I suddenly felt very sleepy, so I went to lie down for a bit – I think I slept but then the tea kicked in and She Who Must Be Obeyed let me know I needed to get up and use the bathroom.  I went down again for a bit, then Luzma came by.  John had told her when she woke up.  We hugged each other and we sat and talked for a while – she will definitely miss Mom.  She remembers how kind Dad was to her, accepting her and treating her well.  She loved Mom, she said she was like a grandmother to her.  Their shared their gardens and many other things.

I decided I needed to do something, so I worked on the expenses for the business, I have let it go for too long.  it seemed to be the only things I could concentrate on.  Suddenly John and Luzma reappeared, carrying flowers.  She said she knew Mom loved her rose and she thought the house should be filled with roses.  There is one vase is small roses in a deep pink, one vase with red roses and a third vase with apricot roses.  The last vase had white daisies – plus a balloon.  In each vase is a lovely butterfly.  (I’ll put the pictures in another post).

They told me to call them for whatever I need – as soon as I know, I will.  While they were here Eddie called, he was on his way home from the conference, it didn’t last as long as he thought.  I was glad to see him when he came home.  We just had tea and bread – it was later than we usually eat and we were both tired.

I left a message for June, one of the domino ladies and also called and talked to Kathy.  I know there are people to tell but I can’t quite think of them at the moment.  That was Day 1.

The Rest of The Story

October 5, 2014

I didn’t write my sisters about Wednesday until the next day – I needed to digest it for a bit first.  I also needed to meet Mom at the Center to take her for a haircut.  Last time she was fast asleep through all of it, not this time.  She was sleepy and holding on to her plush lion, but she was a bit more with it.

Lisa put the plastic shield around Mom and the lion so Mom would have something to hold.  She wasn’t all that happy about having it washed, I had to put a towel around her forehead because the headpiece let water run down into her face.  She didn’t like the shampoo – at one point tried to bite Lisa.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to really get her hair clean because Mom was so feisty.  She cut Mom’s hair and then put her under the dryer to dry it as much as she could.  Mom was not happy under the dryer, I was sitting next to her and put my hand on her arm and let it know it was all right.  Then she held my hand while the dryer was going, at times she got agitated and I just told her it’s fine.

Lisa fluffed her hair some – interesting to see the back curly and the front very straight.  She said it happens with geriatric patients, some parts will curl, others won’t.  Certainly Mom was glad it was over.  I took her back upstairs to get ready for lunch.

I asked Sherry, the receptionist, if it was possible to see Dr. Myre, I wanted to collect my hug.  Instead of phoning, she must have written an email because Dr. Myre came out quite quickly.  Not only did I get one hug, I had several strong ones from her.  She  is very comforting and understanding – I, of course got teary and drippy.  Seems to be the case a lot lately.  She said I was doing a great job being there for my Mom and it helped to hear that.  Many of my friends and my sisters have continually told me that – it is good to hear since the old “beat myself up” program keeps intruding.  It says I haven’t done it perfectly and not done all I could – that voice will always tell me I didn’t do it perfectly or enough.  So I am learning to  release the need for that and to know I am enough.

I left and went to see my acupuncturist because I felt the sore, scratchy throat starting again. Probably would have been smart to go Tuesday and nip it in the bud.  I made an appointment for Friday as well.  Seems as if lately everything is coming at once, with not much time in between to regain my balance.  I’m not sure it is supposed to come in separate intervals.  When I worked in department store, it was either everyone came at once or it was very quiet.

Friday I went to visit Mom, I wondered if she would be wiped out after the haircut.  She was fast asleep in ned, holding on to the weighted baby doll Char gave to Mom.  Judy said she likes to have something to hold, keeps her hands occupied.  I didn’t want to wake her up, but I did tell her I love her and that Ellen and Candy send their love.  I knew I would get too teary if I stayed much longer, so I left and headed over for my acupuncture appointment.

It’s been an odd week, Eddie was home Wednesday because the archives were closed and he wanted to get another shirt from the Car Museum.  I went to Breakfast Club, then came home because I had to work on an order for calculators.  He assumed I would come with him and seemed a disappointed I didn’t.  The Friday he had the day off because he was going to go to the venue for the PNAA Defense Conference to show Lisa the layout.  I  didn’t get home until after 1, he wanted to know what kept me.  Trouble is, he assumes when he takes a day off, I am available to play.  I usually have been but now with new things going on, it isn’t possible and he has to adjust.  Funny how things change, then change again.

We also have been sleeping in separate rooms for the past 3 weeks or so.  He had a bad cold and didn’t want to give it to me, then I had the coming down with something – neither wanted to give it to the other.  Friday we finally got together again, though we are being careful because we don’t really know if either of us is contagious or not.

I also wrote an email to the Northwest Schooner Society to see if they were interested in the models and Dad’s old wood working tools.  I had a nice email and Kitty wrote back saying they would be very interested.  I email pictures and she said they were gorgeous.  So now we are working on a day for her and her helpers to come and pick things up. I told her the box may be a bit heavy, that I would check with my next door neighbor to see if they would be around to help.  They are a young, just married couple living in the lower level of Bob and Delores’s house – Cameron is their grandson – I think their son Jerry’s son – and his wife Kika.  We saw them last night – they were locked out and came for the key – and they are willing, it just depends on when.

Plus my radio show – I have 2 guests lined up and working on a third.  Still no sponsors but I have given a couple of people the information.  I am getting ready to publish my website for the show – it will be rough and needs refining.

Otherwise, not much has been happening here.

Life With Mom

October 4, 2014

Thursday I sent my two sister and a close friend this email:

Late yesterday afternoon, Mom’s doctor called.  She said that Mom was about to turn a corner into the last stages of dementia.  She said Mom has lost weight, isn’t really interested in eating and she had two spots beginning on her bottom.  Not wanting to eat and losing weight means she doesn’t have her systems working very well, so making sure she doesn’t get sores will be a big priority.

 She will continue to go to the Center for as long as it benefits her, then they will have to have another doctor see her at the home.  Just because of distance.  She wanted to ask if I would like to have Comfort Care for Mom from now on.  It is their hospice type of care.  It means it will be easier for Judy and Didi so that went something happens, they don’t have to call 911.  There will be people to come and decide what works best for Mom – it is for the times when the Center isn’t open.
Dr. Myre said she couldn’t predict how long, especially since Mom is still strong.  It could be 6 months, it could be more.  She said Mom’s brain isn’t connecting to her body very well – she probably won’t be walking any more and at some point she will be bedridden.  She has noticed Mom has declined a lot – I’ve noticed it the last 2 or 3 weeks.
 I went to see Mom on Monday, but she was very sleepy and a bit cranky, so I didn’t stay.  Last Friday she spoke so softly I couldn’t hear her and she was very sleepy.  I went in the afternoon because Judy thought she might be more awake in the afternoon.  When I come in the morning she has had her meds and right about then, they kick in.  She also doesn’t seem to know me, so that may be how it will be from now on.
 I am going up to the Center today to take Mom downstairs for a haircut.  Dr. Myre said she didn’t like telling me over the phone about it and if I had been there she would have given me a hug.  I said I would be there today, I will collect my hug.
I am trying to wrap my head around this and it may take a while.  I have wanted her to let go and make the transition; but now that it seems much closer, I’m not sure what I am thinking and feeling.
I received answers from all three.  This from my younger sister:
It’s hard. Yet Mom has been ready to go for a long time. A geriatric doctor friend says that when they stop eating, it’s a sign they are ready to let go of life. Palliative care (Comfort Care) is a very wonderful thing. They are focused on making Mom comfortable, and helping the entire family deal with the transition as the patient enters Hospice Care. Hospice (and Medicare coverage) begins (according to Dr. Jeannie) when the patient cannot walk, talk, or feed herself. You will have a dedicated team available there to see Mom through this. 

You have already created a stellar safety net to take Mom through the final stages of life. Hospice care opens more resources for Mom, and for you. It is also totally covered by Medicare, freeing you to focus on walking with Mom through this process of releasing. Hospice people are great, so take advantage of the things they offer. They know so much about this part of the process and are deeply tuned into the spiritual aspects of dying, as well as the practical physical aspects. 
It is very disorienting to see someone so powerful in our lives become so weak, and to disappear as the dementia progresses. At the same time, there is a strange liberation, because all the old rules don’t seem to apply any more. 
This transition time is not only about Mom making her exit from the planet. It is an opportunity for all of her children to be “born again” and reinvent our lives. The life we knew is dying, but new life is continually being born. 
And from my older sister:
Thanks for keeping me informed. Candy, your thoughts are so healing and such a help. Yes, reinvent ourselves. Love, E
And from Char, who has been through this with her Mom:
Thanks for the update on your mom.  I’m frankly not too surprised (having been down this road before), but I know it’s hard.  Do make sure they keep after those sores; no sense making her uncomfortable, if you can help it.  My mom had those, too, but of course she was bedridden for quite a long time before she died–as in about 4 years–so it wasn’t to surprising.  However, the fact that your mom is losing weight can mean not only disinterest in food but a gradual slowing down of organs, tummy not as able to absorb nutrients, etc.  Be prepared–there may come a point when she refuses to eat at all, and that will be her choice, but it’s hard to deal with.  
 
I think Comfort Care is an excellent idea; we had that for my mom, too, and it really does help.  They can help you anticipate the changes you will see from now on, and that will help you be somewhat prepared.
 
I thought your mom had declined quite a bit since the last time I had seen her, but it had been several months, so that wasn’t too surprising, really.  When you see someone frequently, the changes seem much more gradual.
 
I hope you collected that hug!  If I were there, I would give you one, too, although today you probably wouldn’t want me to–overnight I have developed a full-blown head cold!!  It started with a sore throat yesterday, and BOOM! here it is…..sniffing, dripping, sneezing, etc.  I took a Claritin, and that has helped a little, but not enough! 
Believe me, I am so glad I have begun to ask for help and let others know what is happening.  I have been glad I don’t have to do it by myself.  Plus, when I have opened up to other people, I have been amazed to find so many others with the same kind of situation.  Even so, it isn’t a cakewalk.
To be continued . . . . . . . . . . .

In This Moment

September 26, 2014

It has not been the easiest week I have had, so I am working on seeing where the gifts are in it.  It may take some more time and more work to take the emotion out of it before the gifts become clear.

I have had that “coming down with something” feeling all week.  When I had such a dry throat into Wednesday morning, I knew I needed to go see Cindy for some acupuncture to nip it in the bud.  I went to Breakfast Club in the morning, felt as if I hadn’t been there for several weeks.  Then I went to visit Mom – not a good day.  It was her 96th birthday.  As I wrote in an email to my two sisters and my good friend Char:

Mom didn’t know who I was and told me to go away.  I know it’s not personal, even so, it still hurts and it is hard not to take it personally.  I took her an apple pie and brownies for the house; also gave her the maple sugar candy from Ellen.  It didn’t register.  I’m still looking at it personally and emotionally; working on the objectivity part – slow going.  I am not even sure what I am feeling beyond upset.  I probably need time  to let it simmer on the back burner, maybe I can put it in words for myself.

My older sister  sent this :

Happy birthday to Mom, though she may not know it; we do. Just read Lee’s post from Sunday, and even at this distance it’s a “sucker punch to the stomach” to hear about her. I’m so glad Char, who knows, was there with you, Lee. Still, we honor her for all she did in her earlier life, how much she gave to us, and whatever may be happening with her now in the “thin places.” My love to you both, her other daughters.

Later after the  Wednesday email, my younger sister had this to say:

My last verbal contact with Mom was on my birthday a year ago. I called, and she was having a bad day, and yelled at me and hung up the phone. I had only just gotten long distance back (long story, no need to elaborate) and felt glad that I could call her after not being able to for a couple of months. 

It was a strange gift. Mom always said when we had our Sunday phone conversations when she knew she was heading into the thin places, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be okay.” And I told her, as things got dimmer, “It’s okay for you to go, Mom. Don’t worry about us, we’ll be okay and we’ll see you on the other side.” When she yelled and hung up, I felt she was giving me permission to stop trying so hard, and to let her go on a new level. It was out of my power and control. 
It’s a new moon in Libra today, and a day of new beginnings. As Ellen said (and Daddy, too) we must put this ending/new beginning in God’s hands now. For some reason, this is how Mom needs to make her transition. She’s saying goodbye and releasing her worries about us (she worried all the time) and releasing us, and releasing all definitions of who she was, except that she is more than what she is right now. She’s letting go of all boundaries and restrictions even as the circle of her human body becomes smaller and smaller, more diminished with each day that passes.  It is the only way she can do this now, to sink into the dementia and into eventual rest. 
Lee, it’s the hardest place, to be there and see and feel it, and I know you have such a tender heart. But in God’s hands, it is not personal or a rejection of you. Or of any of us. 
It is a liberation. If she cannot remember, if she must be in that other world where we cannot follow (at this time) she needs that space, as Ruth, not as a our mother, or any role she played in life. She’s getting ready for the next life, entering a “womb.” She is giving us permission to release her, and to be who we are meant to become in the years after she passes. The strange gifts of mortality. 
Just take it slow, be easy on yourself, know you have done your best, and allow the mystery of this strange “permission” to go on with your own life to enter your heart. Good days might happen again. Bad days, too. Like weather, let it be what it is, and know that it’s not in your control, you’re not responsible for it, and you do not have to fix it or live up to some heroic task. It’s a hero’s journey to be there in the process, and I love you for it, and pray for you. 
It’s a long goodbye, but the same kind of goodbye we had to say to Daddy. He went quickly, Mom needed a longer journey (perhaps because, as much as she wanted to go be with Daddy, she had a hard time really letting go of us). Soul work is mystery at this stage, and your great gift is being present, even when there is nothing you can give or do any more. You got her into a safe place for this stage of the journey, and are watching over her as best you can. Ellen and I can only be present in prayer and meditation. 
Mom knows you’re there, that we care. She just needs to let go of life (and us) in her own way. In many ways, it’s permission to acknowledge that even when Mom was here in full mind and strength, there were many things we were unable to share with her, many ways we could not reach her, and many ways that only the soul’s relationship to itself will satisfy. 
My older sister wrote in response:
Just wanted to say thanks for the things you wrote yesterday. One thing especially was very helpful to me: the idea that Mom has always been so attached to us, worried for us, that it may be quite difficult to let go of her children. We none of us can deeply understand that.
Then I had an email from Char, who has been through it with her Mom:
You are right, it’s not personal, and you have to keep reminding yourself of that.  Not always easy to do.  Fortunately, you have 67 years of knowing your mom loves you, and that hasn’t changed–she still does, it’s just that she sometimes doesn’t remember that.  You have to remember it for her, I guess.
 
I remember when my mom was going thru this….with her, the big issue was that she couldn’t talk, and that was so frustrating!!  Not just from the standpoint of not being able to hold a conversation, but also from that of just not hearing her voice At All…..Sometimes I would forget what it sounded like.
 
I’m sure you may have heard the story about the elderly man who went to see his wife, in an Alzheimer’s care facility, every day, and someone asking him why he kept going, since she no longer remembered who he was, and his answer was, “but I remember who She is.”
It really helped me to  see the situation from a different perspective – I realized today when I went to see Mom It’s NOT about me.  It’s still very emotional for me and it was hard that Mom really didn’t know who I was again today.  Because she is having trouble eating, I won’t bring her chocolate or cookies any more.  Not sure what to bring her that will be easy for her to eat.  She was very sleepy this morning, so I may try visiting in the afternoon to see if she is a little more with it.
It is truly a matter of dealing with what is in this moment.

Changing Hats

September 21, 2014

Last week and this upcoming week made me realize how many hats I wear at a given time.  Seems as if this particular period of time brings them all together over a 2 week period.

hatsedwardian

Last Monday was as a new radio host, then a chiropractic client and a blogger.  Tuesday   and Wednesday I was a Promotional Marketing distributor at my Marketing Association Showcase.  Thursday I had a day to myself and  spent time on my business as a Promotional Marketing Advisor and finally a cleaner outer for my Mom’s things.  She was a hooker for over 40 years and now that she is in an adult family home, I found someone on Craig’s List interested in her supplies.  I was listing rug patterns and went through the books she has – this is going to be more of an undertaking than I realized.  Still not sure where some of her things are.

Friday I was a caretaker and daughter, visiting my Mom on a weekly visit.  I am also a longtime friend with Char who came with me on the visit.  After that we went to play and spend time catching up.  Also a wife and semi-nurse to a husband with a bad cold.  Monday I will be a radio show host and chiropractic client again, Wednesday I will be a member, Promotional Marketing Advisor and Kickass Warrior at my networking breakfast group.  Thursday I will be an RA patient for a rheumatologist visit and infusion.

This doesn’t mean I am the only one with many hats, I’ll bet everyone feels that way at one time or another. Sometimes it seems the hats need to be worn all at once or very close to each other; other times it  seems only one or two hats are worn.  In a way it makes me realize I am not just one thing, I am versatile and able to many things – some I never expected to be my role.  They have certainly been an education and have taken me out of my comfort zone.

It can be an emotional roller coaster at times.  Doing my radio show gave me flutterings inside, but I know excitement and fear feeling very much alike – I decided they were happy butterflies and they will probably be with tomorrow morning when I do the show.  Also a feeling of unreality – was I actually at the microphone of a radio station?  I checked the 1150kknw.com and there on the right on the home page was a list of shows.  mine was in there as well and when I clicked the link – there I was!  How amazing is that?

Visiting with Mom can be very difficult – Friday  she was mumbling and sleepy, though she did eat the chocolate and one of the cookies.  Char thought she seemed a bit perkier by the time we left.  Judy said they had eliminated one of her meds and there will be a difference once it is completely out of her system.  As we were leaving, Angela from Providence was arriving to vista Mom.  She is a speech therapist and she had been asked to go vista Mom and assess howe she is doing.  Apparently she was told Mom was having trouble with hot and cold food and choking at times.  I didn’t stay for 2 reasons, one I didn’t want to and second because she is different when I am around.  Angela needed to see her as she usually is.

I had no idea she was coming, so it was a real surprise.  Later she called me to let me know her assessment. Since Mom has some trouble swallowing food – part of the dementia and will get more pronounced as time goes on – and doesn’t drink enough water to keep hydrated, Angela recommended pureed food and the  thick water.  I learned about thicker water in rehab – some people have trouble with liquid water and this is more of a slight gel type.  People seem to have an easier time swallowing it.  She also suggested Judy put a little sweet flavoring to help her drink it – Mom does love sweets.

Just as I feel I ave gotten on an even keel with Mom’s condition, something comes along to rock the boat and make me uncomfortable.  In my mind I know she will get worse, but when it actually happens, it’s like a slap in the face and real.   To think and see my strong, independent Mom not able to take care of herself is a sucker punch to my stomach.  I’m not sure how to handle it, I don’t have any experience fall back on.  It’s very hard to put into words, maybe because I am not sure what I am feeling.  I was so glad Char was there, she went through something similar with her mom.  She understands and I don’t have to explain it to her.  I am so glad we had an outing planned afterwards; if I had been alone, I would have gone back home and brooded about it as well as having a very uncomfortable husband.  Thank you Char for being there for me.

When I was at the Showcase both days, I was in a familiar world; I understood what people were saying and  I was part of it.  I was completely immersed in it – the rest of the world shut out.  I saw people I haven’t seen for a while as well as meeting people I only knew by email or phone.  Also interesting to see the new trends in promo products – so many tech for phones, iPads and computers.  I also saw something that gave me an idea about promoting my show – we’ll see what happens.

I’m putting on my radio show hat today to prepare for tomorrow, I ad libbed last week and it made me nervous.  I also have my wife/editor hat – we got Eddie’s newsletter out and also he is feeling so much better.

It will be interesting to see what this week brings.

Happy Butterflies!

September 15, 2014

It has come and gone this morning – I did my first radio show at 9:30.  I have been excited, apprehensive, impatient and so many other feelings.  Sometimes it felt as if it would never come and it was coming too fast – all at the same time.  The past three weeks I have been thinking about what I would say, then found myself ad libbing.  I had happy butterflies in my stomach – since fear and excitement feel the same, I chose to have excited, happy butterflies – they kept the downer butterflies from taking over.

I think I understand a bit what people mean when they prefer an audience because you can interact with them.  It was just Benny and me in the studio with a microphone in my face – no idea if there was any reaction.  A strange experience, so I will have to make sure I have notes with me next week.  All the things I had thought about saying were gone.  I talked a bit about my history, mentioned RA and also a bit about Mom and dementia as well as remembering to announce the name of the show, my name and where to find me.  I also remembered to mention twice about becoming a sponsor – that marketing is an investment, not a line item in the budget that can be jettisoned when things are tough .  I also remembered to say you are selfish if you don’t market, how are people who can benefit from what you offer find you?

I also met the three ladies who have the show before me – and now they are talking about ending their show after three years.  Everyone has been so friendly and helpful, I finally met Benny after some emails and hearing him for several years while I’ve listened to the station.  Interesting to say he is my producer.  It all feels a little unreal at the moment.  Mostly I am getting used to it and finding my rhythm.  I may try some phone calls in a week or two and see how that goes.  Then I will add guests – if I am comfortable doing the show, they will be.

After the break I was  trying to figure out what to say – a couple of giraffe moments but otherwise it was fine.  I asked people listening to send me a postcard or card to tell me who they are and where they are from – this station is in about 35 countries.  I haven’t wrapped my head around that one yet.  So it will be interesting to see if anything arrives by next Monday.  I had emails from Erik and talked to Brian, plus Benny sent me an email saying I did a great job – in all caps.

I have been feeling all kinds of emotions since I set this in motion – how amazing to find myself on the radio talking about my life with RA and other things.  Some it is just a feeling of unreality, that it is actually happening.  Because I was a bit nervous and had happy flutters, I sat quietly in the car when I arrived in the building where the studio is.  I sat quietly, took some deep breaths and asked the Universe to  give me what ever was necessary, I would just show up and get out of the way.  It turned out well and I am glad I did that before going upstairs.

I used to do that when I was doing speeches for the Conn. Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  I had a list of things I had to cover – basic facts of arthritis – and if time was short, I would jettison my stories.  I never knew who was in the audience and what they need to hear, so giving it to the Universe was the best way to go.  At times people come up to me and thank me or say they learned so much.  I also figured there were a lot of people who never said anything to me but heard what they needed at the time.  I’ve decided I have been doing my purpose in life without realizing it – much more effective that way.

I left the studio and went down to Kent to see Dr. Cheryl for my chiropractic adjustment.  A bit of a letdown – there was not any fanfare doing the show and then  they were on to the next show.  When I finished, I felt tired, so I came home and had a lie down – I must have slept because the next thing I knew, Eddie was home at 4.  It didn’t feel more than a half hour or 45 minutes.

We’ll see how it goes next week – Benny will be away and Taylor will be in the studio.  Lots of information and experience in a short time.

Dad Continued

September 14, 2014

Today is the 100th anniversary of Clayton Moore’s birthday – otherwise known as The Lone Ranger.  I remember watching it as a kid – I also named my stick horse Scout – Tonto’s horse.  Interesting how things this year have reminded me of my Dad.  I may not write about my Dad in chronological order, sometimes certain things come to mind that may be out-of-order.

I think my first memory was about 3 or 4 years old, in the Manhattan Beach house.  I have vague memories and pictures in my mind of chasing trains.  I remember being at the front closet to get coats and go see trains, where I have no idea.  My older sister Ellen might remember.  I also remember walking on the tracks with my sister and Dad – used to frustrate me no end that I kept slipping off but my sister walked the tracks with no trouble.  From my younger point of view, she always did things better than I did.

Family Feb 1954

February 1954 – I think it was taken at my Dad’s parents house in Palos Verdes

Ellen and I would play stick horses together, a long square stick that we tied thin rope at the top for reins.  At one point, Dad took his jigsaw and cut out heads to put at the top – mine was painted like Tonto’s Scout, can’t remember what Ellen had.  We enjoying playing with them, I know we played in the back yard but whether we went in the street I don’t remember.  Again, just pictures in my mind.  When Dad decided to accept a job with Boeing, we moved from Southern California to Seattle – for some reason Dad said we couldn’t take our stick horses – no room in the moving van, or something like that.  That made no sense to either of us, so we weren’t too happy about that.

Family on Drive

Back yard of Manhattan Beach house – to the right is the yard, to the left up the drive, a 2 car garage.

I was 7 when we moved about April of 1954, Ellen was 11.  My parents found a house to rent in Madrona and things suddenly changed.  I was in 2nd grade – turns out I went to school a year earlier than the other kids, so I was always a year younger during public school.  (Mom and Dad always told the story of how much fuss I made to get on the bus with Ellen, so they let me go at age 5 – turned out not to be a favor after all.)  I finished the last 2 months of 2nd grade and then went into 3rd grade.  I think Ellen was in 6th grade by then.

I remember one day in 1954, my Dad came home for lunch – very unusual for him.  Then he and Mom stood out on the back porch watching a plane fly by – what was the big deal about a plane?  It really was a big deal because it was the first flight of the 707 and beginning of the jet age.  It was many years later that I knew why it was a big deal.

When we moved to Seattle my sister Candy was about 18 months old and to us, a pest.  Certainly not her fault, but there was 6 years between us and 10 years between Candy and Ellen.  I also noticed Ellen wasn’t my playmate any more, by that time the 4 years difference was very noticeable.  I was on my own a lot, seems to have been my history.  She kept to herself more and I was probably a pest and nuisance by then.

A year and a half later, my parents found this house – it had all the requirements – a large lot, a view, 4 bedrooms; I never thought I would be living here since 2002 and it is now mine.  I now understand why my Mom wasn’t happy with the layout of the house, you have to go through the living room to get anywhere.  The front door opens smack dab into the living room – wonder if that is why everyone goes to the back door, or is it the path leads to the back porch?  Unfortunately she couldn’t explain it to Dad in a way he would understand.

At Christmas time we would go down to Chubby and Tubby for our Christmas tree.  The five of us would look around the lot and each found a tree – then we had to decide which one to buy.  It often seemed to me that the best tree was always the one someone else was holding.  We would choose one (sometimes one that needed the most love),  take it home and put it in a bucket of water at the bottom of the outside stairs.  It was usually a week before Christmas.  Then we put it up on Christmas Eve, decorate it with ornaments Mom and Dad had collected when they were first married, new ones and ones we made.  The cool thing was the next morning was Christmas.

One Christmas we put it up a week before Christmas, didn’t work out all that well.  Instead of Christmas coming the next morning, it seemed forever for it to come and I think we all  were a bit tired of the tree when it finally came.  So we went back to putting it up Christmas Eve and taking it down New Year’s Day.

I’m curious to know what my sisters’ memories are, if they are very different.  Funny how each person sees something, a person, or event at the same time and sees it differently.  I have been going through pictures and these two were ones I found.

Once again, to be continued.


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