The Hands


When I called Mom last night, she said she had wrote a note for me but she couldn’t find it. I could tell she was a little worried and it seemed very important to her. I was happy, yet surprised that she had put something down on paper. I do have her sign cards and she is always embarrassed her writing isn’t like it used to be. The days are over of signing checks, writing in her journal or even writing a sweet letter to me.

When I arrived today, she was getting her hair done, happy and funny and she had forgotten about the note. I looked in her room and right by her chair was the note. It was on a white sheet of paper, coffee stained (of course) and it stated, “My nails are in bad shape”. Secretly, I was hoping for something else. Maybe “I love you” or “I need more Snicker’s”. But I have to say, the note made me smile. She had actually put something down and it did make sense.

She had given me a note with her aging hands. Those beautiful hands that are now wrinkled, full of puffy veins, and nails that need to be looked after. She was right, they need some attention.

Her hands have been busy for 87 years…sewing beautiful, detailed quilts, changing my girls diapers or giving them a bath. She has held books in her hands and kept journals with details that she would soon forget, over the last few years.

As I look at her hands, it seems like yesterday that I would watch her canning corn and pickles. She loved to shuck the corn, gather the tomato’s or cucumber’s and gather the water to boil. We would listen to the seal of the jar popping and she was so proud of being able to give her canning as gifts.

Her hands have sent me sweet, encouraging letter over the years, many times with stamps hidden in the letters. She has cracked over a million eggs, kneaded bread from scratch, made her famous lemon bars and has squeezed doughnuts out of her famous doughnut maker.

With those hands, she has kept a lovely garden, picked weeds and rocks on our farm fields and gently fed a young calf. Her hands kept her very busy as a farm wife, and I know she loved being on that farm.

Her hands have driven a car, mowed our lawn, signed many school papers, and I am sure, swatted my bottom, as a child. Now I watch her hold my girls, always touching them and loving them.

As I look over at them now, I see how much she has used them. Her wedding band still there after 66 years, shiny, well worn and proof of their love and devotion. She is very proud of her ring and at times, I catch her playing with it.

My sadness over what she can not do any more comes up through the bottom of my heart and comes out in tears as I write this. She may have forgotten all she has accomplished in her life, but I have not. She has used those hands to make a wonderful, busy life that has slowed down to a crawl. When she holds my girls, I am reminded of this.

Her hands are not as busy as they used to be, but it is up to me to still hold them when I can. Today, I get to hold her hands while she is getting her hair done. I have brought her a chocolate doughnut and we have coffee together. Even thought I can’t stay long with her today, I know she is having a good day. And ironically, they are going to can applesauce today. Perfect.









The Thank You

The last few weeks have been very busy for me…school starting for my girls, hockey season looming for both Emme and Sophia, my first year chairing for our schools book fair, my nursing job, Steve, church and taking care of Mom. Now that the girls have started school, I am returning to yoga class in the mornings to I can feel centered and calm, if there is such a thing.

A few weeks ago, my friend Becky and I walked in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event at Target Field. We have raised nearly $3,500.00 and this is my 7th year walking in this important event. The last two years, Mom has not attended; part of it is that she doesn’t like to get up early, crowds sometimes add to her confusion and she is not able to walk the shorter route any more. She knows that we still raise money and that I sent out many letters with pictures of her and the girls. No matter where her memory is at for that particular day, I always discuss things that I do with Mom. Some days things click for her, other days I keep my comments as brief as able. She still remembers the event and I have showed her the pictures of our past walks.

Thank you to each and everyone of you who donated…My Mom and I both have amazing friends who give so generously to a cause that is near and dear to our hearts. Sophia’s friends and their families also donated and I am so glad that she is as passionate about this cause as I am. Again, thank you from both Mom and I.

I also have been thinking about all of the “Thank You’s” that I hope that I have not forgotten. It certainly is not intentional. It has really taken a village to help care for Mom. Trust me, I have listened to everything you have said to me. Your advice, your comments, your concern, your love…even if I didn’t want to hear what you had to say, I noted your concern in my cramped, overloaded brain. So deep in my heart, I thank you. Here are just a few long over due ones:

My Mom’s beloved friends: She has made so many dear friends in her long life and they have stood by her when her memory started to fade. Marilyn, Joyce, Ardis and Ruby have gone above and beyond the last few years. They are true friends who continued to bring her to church, take her out to events and dinners in my hometown and overall just keep an eye on her. They still write her sweet letter and I am grateful for them. They would worry about her walks, her confusion and her lack of eating and I would hear about it. I will say, it is never easy hearing your Mom is not doing well and that she is confused. I sometimes picture her wearing her cute outfits, tan, strong, working in her garden and happy with life. I am grateful every day for these ladies. When you see them, hug them for me.

Jerry K: Who let me know that Mom’s mail box, at her assisted living, was getting full. I knew that things were progressing when he wrote me to say that she was not getting her mail. She LOVES getting the mail. In my hometown, she would walk every day to get the mail. I loved that he kept on eye on her, especially when  her key would end up of missing. Reason #154 of why small towns are the best. Thank you Jerry!

Lois B: Many reasons to love Lois…in a previous blog called The Coins, I wrote about Mom putting her rare coins in the church offering. Someone saw her do it and she called me to let me know. I am sure she thought they were change to give to church. Now that I think back, I can laugh about it. Lois also found my Mom’s much loved purse in the church pew. When Mom called to say she lost her purse, I about lost my mind. I still had let her keep her checkbook, cash, and her important cards in there. It also is her favorite item in the world. I had bought her a purse with a printed picture of Sophia on it, had it especially made and spent way too much money on it, but my Mom took it everywhere with her. I called church, Water’s Edge, Tom’s Food and everywhere I could think of. Lois finally found it neatly tucked under the pew where she most likely sat. That was a long three days and taught me a lesson to remove those items. If you see Lois, please give her two hugs for handling two crisis issues.

Lara A: Who worked very hard selling my Mom’s house and I’m sure, saw me fall apart during the sale. I owe her and huge thank you and I am sure a case of wine.

Sarah W: Who wrote me the most beautiful note that I keep in my office. It was about hanging in there and that it’s ok to cry; all the while knowing how important it is to remember that tomorrow is a new day. I treasure that note.

Melanie L: Offering me legal advice when I needed it and listening to me vent. She’s a great attorney if you need one.

Carol F: After we moved Mom into our town’s assisted living, I was coming to see her every month. I would pay bills, set up her medications for a month, clean, shop and just go for drives with her. As you can imagine, it was getting harder for me to see Mom every month due to my own family obligations. Carol stepped up the plate, was my eyes and ears when I was gone. She did laundry, checked on her food supply and helped me with errands. I am very grateful for the time she spent with Mom.

Ross: Knowing that he is doing the best he can at this very moment. I am thankful that he calls her and that he makes an effort.

Bremer Bank in Starbuck: As you can imagine, money gets a little goofed up. Patient, kind and willing to understand an eighty year old woman and her daughter. Many times over they went above and beyond to help me or alert me that we had a problem. I miss the interaction with them and it is not the same down here.

Steve: He doesn’t have a choice but to put up with me every day. He listens, comments, sometimes stays quiet and loves my Mom, even when she calls him Baldy. For some reason, she always remembers his name. Her love for him has always been deep.

Clare Bridge: They have done such a good job in the past year. As I have stated, its not always easy. One of the nurses Amanda is leaving for Grand Forks and has shown Mom love, compassion and overall such good care. We will miss her and say thank you and good luck. I’d even like to thank my Mom’s roommates daughter, who many of you know, I have a hard time with. She has reminded me that life is too short to worry about things like too much chocolate, nuts and coffee. Enjoy what you have right now for soon, it may change. I will ALWAYS continue to bring my Mom things that she enjoys, especially her Snicker Bars.

As I think of people, I will continue to write about them…I think it is never too late to say that you are grateful for what they do for you and how they have impacted you. I hope that you all know how grateful I am to all of you who help me.