Posts Tagged ‘Mom’

Jammy Memories

June 12, 2016

Eddie and I were in Bartell’s the other day and I saw some Apricot-Pineapple jam from Smuckers.  It immediately reminded me of the jam Mom used to make from scratch – I loved her apricot-pineapple the best.  I had to buy it and then Eddie and I started talking about it because he loved the apricot jam his Mom made.

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Sunday we had it for breakfast and talked about our Moms because they both enjoyed cooking and trying new things.  My Mom made a lot of jam, this is how I remember her Apricot-Pineapple:

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She often collect peanut butter jars, small mayo jars and often a collection of miscellaneous jars for jam.  She would cook it on the stove and add pectin and sugar – Mom and Dad were on a tight budget, so Mom did a lot of canning and preserving.  Then she would sterilize the jars and add the jam.  when it was cool, she poured a layer of paraffin on the top, then later a second layer to seal the jar.  She often had lids to put on to seal it even more.  I remember some of it was the devil to get off, it would split into pieces and then we had to dig them out.  Other times, the paraffin popped out in one piece – no delay in enjoying the jam.

We used to pick the little blackberries and sometimes we had enough for blackberry jam – often it was more likely a pie.  We had blueberries by the back porch – still do and they have a bumper crop this year – for blueberry pie and sometimes jam.  There were raspberry bushes along the side of the property and we had lots of raspberry jam.  I would go out in the morning and pick a big bowl, then late after I could do another big bowl.  We also ate berries fresh for breakfast and occasional blueberry pancakes.

Mom did a lot of canning – all three of us girls helped her.  The most uncomfortable was peaches – yes,, Mom would pour boiling on the peaches and the skins would come off easily.  The cut them in half and remove the pit and into the jar.  The problem was the peach fuzz, it got all over me and was itchy and scratchy – how could a lovely, soft and delicious peach be so uncomfortable afterward?  Tomatoes  were also done with boiling water, but no scratchy fuzz. Mom would get flats of tomatoes because she used them a lot in cooking, so it seemed there were more tomatoes than anything else.   Apricots were cut in half with pit removed and put in the jars.  The Royal Anne cherries were washed, stems removed and put into jars with syrup.The fruits had syrup added to the jars when there wasn’t any room for more fruit – I think she put a little salt and tomato juice in with the tomatoes, not sure if there was anything else.  I’m trying to remember if she tried her hand at dill pickles – that’s the trouble getting older, there are more and more memories and my mind often feels as if it is a room with over stuffed file drawers with memories spilling on to the floor.

King Kelly

This is another jammy memory.  This reminds me so much of my aunt and also when I met Eddie.  My Dad’s older sister lived in San Francisco Bay Area and I had been visiting a couple of times with Mom and Dad.  Every morning she and my uncle would have fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and English muffins with King Kelly Orange Marmalade.  When I went down to spend a couple of weeks holiday with her in May of 1968, that was what we had for breakfast.  I met Eddie a couple of days after I arrived and we went out a lot – I remember the room I stayed in and a lot of different places in Burlingame.

It was an enjoyable time, though I had no idea it would end in going to Australia to marry him.  My life has been very interesting and educational since I married Eddie, I have learned so much, traveled to places I always wanted to go and some I am glad I went but have no desire to return.  I remember when we moved to New Jersey I couldn’t find King Kelly jam, nor any other place in the Eastern half of the U.S.   I had to buy it here when I came to see Mom and Dad and take it back with me.  Every time I have it on my toast, I think of my aunt and uncle and the times I spent with them.  It also reminds me so much of meeting Eddie for the first time and learning about him – I had never heard of an Armenian before and in 48 years, I have learned quite a lot about them.

Funny (peculiar) how something so simple can generate so many wonderful memories.

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Reimagining Mother’s Day

May 8, 2016

This is the second Mother’s Day since Mom died; in some ways it feels strange she is not here, in other ways it doesn’t feel strange at all.  Maybe because the last 3 or 4 years of her life were dominated by dementia and she wasn’t quite the Mom I have known my whole life.  I am glad I was there for her during the time she was alone after Dad died, he was her whole world and she missed him so much.  She didn’t really say much about how she felt about things, her generation didn’t talk about feelings or were as open as we seem to be today.

When we were kids, we wanted to give her breakfast in bed – that was considered very much a luxury. However, Mom was not a breakfast-in-bed kind of person – I think Dad convinced her to let us do it for her.  Sometimes I think it was hard for her to accept receiving from others, she was such a giver to everyone.  She enjoyed having people come over and she would feed them.  She liked the people we invited over, Mom was very comfortable in her own home rather than out somewhere.

I remember when the three of us girls and Dad went to buy her a black nightgown – what that sales lady thought one can only imagine.  I remember it as  fun and a little out of the ordinary.  It never occurred to us to think in terms of what Mom would like best, Madison Ave always told people what to do or give on any occasion.

Mom was rather dismissive of Mother’s Day, because the idea of honoring mothers and showing how much they are loved on just one particular day was phony.  To her it was an all year round activity and more important for those small things every day.  In some ways I have agreed with her, make up for all the unsaid things, not visiting, etc. on one particular day.

I was living away from Seattle for over 34 years, I was able to come and visit my parents at least 3 times a year, sometimes more.  It was joy to be back in Seattle and be with my parents, we had a lot of fun together.  It was even better when Eddie was with me, the four of us would go on adventures.  Sometimes Eddie came on business trip and I couldn’t go with him, so he had my parents all to himself.  I have often thought he is the son they never had, plus Eddie thought of them as his own parents as well.  Eddie really enjoyed the times he and Dad went out by themselves – a guy’s day.  Dad showed him a lot of back roads around Seattle and Eddie still uses them.

They would come to visit us maybe once a year – I was able to take them around to places I knew and when I was in Atlanta, we drove up to Nashville to visit Candy.  When we lived in LA, we met friends of theirs from when dad was growing up and when they were first married.  Dad showed me places in Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes that were special to him and where he spent his teenage and young adult years.

When we were growing up, Mom was a stay at home mom, she was there when we came home from school – if she wasn’t, we knew she would be back shortly.  Sometimes she would be king cookies or downstairs ironing with the smell of fresh, clean clothes.  It wasn’t until high school, when I went home with a friend, that I realized how blessed I was to have Mom home when I came home.  I took it for granted.  My friend’s father had died in WWII and her mother had to work to support them.  When we went into her house, it felt cold – not just temperature, there was no one there to welcome her with warmth.  That really hit home and I began to value having a stay at home Mom.

As I think about it, home was a place that was safe where I was loved and wanted.   No matter what was going on outside, I would find a retreat at home.  Mom and Dad made it feel that way, Mom was the major component for it.  As I got older, I found more things we had in common, such as the books we liked.  When I was married, I learned to appreciate her more and understand things better.  If I had had children, I would certainly have understood being a mom a lot more.

So now I have to re-imagine Mother’s Day since Mom is not with us any more.  I know she is now much happier because she no longer has dementia and is with Dad.  Maybe it will be a celebration of her life and what she gave to me and my sisters.  I don’t quite see a picture in my mind yet, it may have to simmer on the back burner for a while.  When I think Mother’s Day, I see the lunch we had with her sister Jean and her son and daughter-in-law or the last dinner with Jean before Mom died.  They are happy pictures in my mind and I want it continue that way.

I did another post a while ago with pictures and I want to put those in this one.

Mom and her sister Jean

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Mom as a little toddler

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This is the house she grew up in on Main Street in Glastonbury, Conn

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This is out at the farm in Waterford, Conn near Long Island Sound

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I think this was a camp somewhere

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Mom was a Traveler’s Aid volunteer for more than 34 years – she thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

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Every summer, Mom’s father would rent  house on Clinton Beach in Conn., the family would rent houses near it and spend the summer there.

Dad made an album of pictures of Mom’s life and I used to go through it with her on my visit.  She had Macular Degeneration, so she wasn’t able to see them.  I would describe them to her and she knew exactly what I was describing.  She would tell me stories about growing up – I never knew when she was in a talkative mood.  It would happen all through my childhood, so when I lived in Conn., I went to Glastonbury and saw where she lived and met the relatives that were still alive.  On one of Mom and Dad’s visits to us, I took them there and we also went to Clinton beach to see the rental houses – surprising it looked a lot the same.

Those are the memories and pictures I have of Mom in my mind.

1st Barbecue of the Season

March 27, 2016

Friday I had to go to Wound Care again – what a lovely day it was.  Eddie left in the morning for work with clouds a bit of rain; when he came home to pick me up, the sun was out.  For the first time in a long time, I had the car window open and it felt quite warm.    More rain today and tomorrow, then they promise the sun for several days – does Mother nature agree?  We will see.

I am back wrapped up again – my legs swelled again – and wouldn’t you know, my compression socks arrived and were sitting in the mailbox as we drove out.  Well, I won’t be wearing them for a couple of weeks, then I will take them with me to have them help me learn how to put them on.  This means spit and duck baths again; so far the hair doesn’t look too bad.  It does tend to stick up a bit when I get up in the morning, I will have to run the shower with my head in to have the steam tame those wonky parts.  I have an appointment on Wednesday afternoon to remove sutures, then I can lean over the shower chair and wash my hair at least.

My forehead has been numb since the first plastic surgery, yet at times I feel it tingling, sometimes as if something is walking on my head.  It is an odd sensation but not unpleasant.  I asked the doc about it last Monday before surgery, he said it will take a long time to  go back to normal.  I expected that answer because I found that with the hip incision.  It was numb and I would get sharp pricks when I least expected it – that was unpleasant.  Seems to be  fairly normal now, four years later.

I am determined to drive again after Wednesday, I don’t like being so dependent – at least I can see a lot better now, that makes a difference.  When Eddie comes back from the Car Museum, he is taking me to Bartell’s – it is sometimes difficult to explain to him what I want.  I think he is very uncomfortable buying “lady things”, but does a pretty good job.

Yesterday was fairly sunny and when Eddie came home from shopping, he had hamburgers with him.  He decided to start the BBQ season and I noticed Eric across the street had his big grill on his deck.  Eddie said he could smell someone else getting ready to BBQ.  We have had such a lot of wind and rain this winter, it feels good to look forward to spring.  Each time I go out, I see new things blooming – I almost feel I am missing out on spring.  The Scillas in the beds have abundant leaves up and it will be fun to see all the lavender flower stems blooming.  The grape hyacinths are blooming, not as many this year and the two clumps of yellow daffodils on the bank are doing well

My sister Ellen on the Jersey Shore has had rain, snow, sun and wind – I’m so glad she sends photos of them.  The last photo I enclosed in the blog is now a painting – she is so talented!  She is able to show the ocean in so many different moods and colors – so amazing.

This was the Nor’easter the other week – she had snow as well as windy.

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This was on March 24th – spring is coming.

I have been so self absorb in myself lately, both my sisters reminded me March 24th would be Dad’s 102nd birthday.  I also thought about September 24th, Mom’s birthday – it will be her 98th.  In 2018, it will be her 100th birthday and that year was as eventful as Dad’s in 1914 – so many historic things happened that changed the world during those years.  Because they met, fell in love and married, my sisters and I are a part of this changing world.  They gave us so many gifts – being loved and wanted, integrity, respect for other people, discipline, manners – so many things that have given me a strong foundation.  (I won’t speak for my sisters)  I am grateful for all of it, they were very loving parents.

A blog wouldn’t be complete without a couple of photos from my sister Candy in Nashville.

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She puts lovely backgrounds in her photos

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She has done a series of Christmas photos with flowers and also ornaments.

I have been sleeping a lot, though I still feel draggy,  I need to walk a bit every day – exercise needs to be part of being rested.  I have hesitated to go outside and walk up and down the sidewalk because I don’t want to trip and fall.  Now that I can wear my glasses better, I am willing to give it a try.  Windy and stormy is conducive to walking outside – I seem to have missed the worst of the weather during my captivity.

My posts have been so “me” centered, it is time to focus on something else for a change.  Wishing you all a very Happy Easter.

I Hear An Echo Here

March 22, 2015

After a long down, it is feels so good to have  some interest and energy for a change.  This last week has been  unusual, but a lot has been accomplished.  We can see a difference as well.   I have been able to start things moving to clear some things out of the house.  Brigh came by Thursday afternoon to take furniture on consignment – we’ll see how it works.  He as a friend who is interested in some things as well, so that should help empty things out a bit.  As a matter of fact, we now have a big empty space in the living room so we can have our new dining set delivered – it will seem odd to have 2 tables and chairs but that won’t last too long.

We have been finding homes for things – I feel as if I am adopting out kittens.  Eddie is definitely happy to see the empty space.  He dropped off several bags of books to open up some space as well.   There is still a long way to go, but there is definitely progress.  I am finding I have no problem saying goodbye to things, I am not emotionally attached to them as much.  Maybe because I know the things have homes to go to and will be appreciated.  If we had an estate sale, we would lose money on it for all the effort and work it would take.

After 2 or 3 days of being tired physically, I was mentally tired on Friday.  I went in for my One to One to work on my podcasts.  We at least have it showing up on its but not playing – I was there with Rhys for 2 hours and at the moment we are at a standstill.  I need to finish putting the podcasts on the blog so they can at least be heard there – until I can find a platform to store the mp3s, it won’t be on iTunes for a while.  If you check out findingthegifts.wordpress.com you can hear the ones I have  finished.  They are not in order, so they skip around on dates.  I plan to have them in order, 1st show to last.  I also need to do a little work on the site itself, not all that pleased with the theme for it.

Wednesday I went to Breakfast Club and then met Char for an outing at U Village.  We have been talking about it, I am the one who couldn’t get her act together.  Then I didn’t sleep well the night before, so I was draggy and not the best company.  Char and I are such good and long time friends that we are glad to spend time together no matter what is happening.  We both understand each other and our situations – sometimes it me, sometimes it’s her and sometimes both of us.  Usually we are both doing well and it works out really well.  Char is so good for me and I am so glad we had our outing.

I decided it was time to set a date for Mom’s Celebration of Life open house – it is going to be on June 14th from 1 – 4 p.m.  It’s a Sunday and I hope we will be able to paint in time for it.  There will be a cake from Robbie and mostly finger foods to make it easier for people.  I am hoping for a sunny day so we can use the yard and the back porch.  Other than that, I haven’t planned anything else.  I will invite the neighbors, the domino ladies,  my Breakfast Group who knew Mom  – not sure who else is left.

The oddest thing is happening, I have hot flashes again.  Why is a mystery.  I can deal with them during the day, but the ones at night make it hard for me to sleep well.  Last night I woke up several times with them, not conducive to a good night’s rest.  I’m 68 for Heaven’s sake – will this happen every few years?  Give me a break!

I’m not the only feeling a little screwy – the plants and flowers seem to be confused.  The early bloomers are later and the later ones flowered early.  The camellias are fully in bloom and dropping flowers all over.  Jorge and his crew came on Friday and did the yard – next thing you know, the camellias dropped more on the lawn.  The blueberries are beginning to bloom and so it the red pear tree – the other pear and the apple tree are just showing buds.   It is beautiful to see all the flowers blooming – we have had rain and wind, so I hope we don’t lose blossoms that will produce fruit.

As long I work on keeping calm, relaxed and at peace with things feel so mixed up, I will be fine.  This may be the new normal, whatever normal is – just roll with the punches and be flexible.

DSHS Rears It’s Head Again!

November 16, 2014

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Mom on her 90th birthday.

Just when I thought all was pretty much taken care of with Mom’s stuff; a letter from DSHS arrives in last Saturday’s mail.  they sent a form about asset recovery for Mom’s medicaid.  It is a simple form, but I always feel it is a more of a minefield.  I made a copy of it to play around with before doing the official one.  I took it over to Dave Gagley to check for me – I don’t want to answer questions they didn’t ask.  We spent some time figuring out what I need, what else I need to do, etc. because they are going to want the money in her checking account.  I don’t begrudge them the money because they did so much for Mom, I want to be sure my ducks are in a row and everything is properly done.

He is going to file Mom’s will for safekeeping, not for probate.  So I had a list of things to bring him to put this together.  He also suggested going to see our new accountant about final tax return and what is needed.  I made an appointment with AD  and his opinion was that it wasn’t necessary to file because she had minimum income.  I went back to see Dave on Friday to give him the stuff, plus to call AD to explain what he needed, I wasn’t too clear because I don’t quite understand it or the ramifications.

So he and AD talked and settled it between themselves – a bonus for Dave is that AD is looking for an elderly attorney as a referral for his clients.  It’s possible Dave will refer clients who need a tax accountant to AD.  Works all around.  It was such a relief to have their help with this, it has been a source of tension and stress for me all week.  Dave is going to write a letter to DSHS to let them know there are still some bills – his and AD’s still outstanding, so the account isn’t ready to close yet.

I am hoping this is the last piece to the whole puzzle and it can be put to rest.  It has seemed as if there is a spanner in the works cropping up and making me feel stressed; how glad I am to have had Dave to consult and help me with each one as it appears.  I get antsy and  uptight when it comes to government, they can make life very difficult without even trying.

Tomorrow is my radio show, thank goodness the website is up and running and I think I have email.  Last Monday Vickie Bergquist was my show, it was fun because she came to the studio with me for a face to face show.  She was nervous, later said she had fun and I put her at ease.  Not sure what I did, but I am sure Benny helped to calm her nerves too.  This week it is just me.

I have had a lot of good comments from friends on how well it sounds and how polished.  Maybe it is time to take off the training wheels.  I am more comfortable with it, though not quite sure it is real.  It’s not a feeling I can put into words, maybe more of an unreal quality because I never thought I would be doing this.  I had some advice from a marketing friend, since I don’t have a sponsor yet, he suggested using my promotional marketing business as my sponsor.  So we’ll see how that works tomorrow.

It is somewhat odd to find I have trouble remembering what I did during the past week.  I know I was busy and not able to take naps in the afternoons.  I need to check my calendar.   I have been sleeping pretty well at night, sometimes it’s hard to wake up early even though I had gone to bed around 9.  I feel I have a bit more energy at times, some days more than others.

Even tough we have had sun most of the week, it hasn’t been all that comfortable to be outside in the wind – it’s really cold to me.  I know we aren’t having Arctic Chill temperatures, but these are cold enough for me.  Yes, I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to extreme temperatures either way.  We have been having low 40’s during the day and some below freezing nights.  I know other places are colder, snowier and more miserable, this is where I live and it’s more than enough for me.  I have served my time in the  eastern part of the U.S., that’s why I appreciate living here.

Cold is not always kind to joints, at times I feel as if I am slowly being mummified, my legs are as flexible and the other limbs aren’t quite so able to move that well.  The bandages feel as if they are tightening around my middle so I have more trouble bending – or is this all my imagination?  My left side rib is still sore from the tumble, I am curious to know why it seems to travel to different sections and ribs on that side.  Not sure what’s happening but have decided to see it as interesting rather than get my knickers in a twist about it.  The combination of RA and my body have kept me wondering what is happening for over 40 years.

How about that; I have written 900 words not saying much about anything.

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.

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