The Word Find

Today was the day that I was going to get Mom out for a car ride, but it is cold and damp out and I know that she will not enjoy it so I have switched gears and just decided to spend the day with her and talk with her hospice nurse who comes every Thursday.

I went to Costco yesterday and bought her a beautiful fall bouquet of flowers and a bag of Halloween candy for her and the staff. She hasn’t been following our book reading as of late, so I brought her Midwest magazine so she can page through the cookies section.

I find her at the church service and she is sitting by herself and gives me a small smile. I can tell she isn’t sure who I am, which happens every so often. She wants to know if they are for her and if her sister sent them. I told her that I bought them for her and she is confused, thinking that I am delivering them. I remind her, “It’s Jodi, Mom”. We sit face to face, off to the side and I can tell I am coming back to her. I love that quick moment when she realizes it is me.

I have brought her the candy, grab us some coffee and we wait for her hospice nurse. There is a lot of activity going around and she starts eating a Snicker’s and then grabs a cookie too. I sit by a woman I know, Jean and we share cookies together. It’s almost like coffee and Circle time at her church and we talk a little about Fron and how she misses it and the people.

Her hospice nurse arrives and we talk about Mom quietly, off to the side. She seems to be shrinking every day. Just getting every so smaller and her voice is quieter. I think she knows we are talking about her and asks if she can have the cheese and crackers in front of her. She is really eating and I am surprised but happy to see her enjoying food. I voice to the nurse my concerns. Weight loss, the constant wheelchair and how she leans to the left all the time. She has also noted how quiet her voice seems. Mom’s nurse is a gift. We do the same nursing work, she answers my questions and understands the progression of this disease, just as I do. She is gentle, kind and I confess to her that I wish my brother would come and see her. Mom smiles at her too, which is wonderful.

Mom is ready for bed at 11 AM and I take her to her room and transfer her into her chair. She has been having trouble with word find today and I catch her starring at me. I am rambling on like I do with her. I am talking about Sophia’s hockey and how she made Math Masters, I am telling her how proud I am of Emme and her reading skills and we talk about how tomorrow is Halloween. I am going on and on and she stops me…

“I like you”

I stop talking and look at her. “I like you too, Mom”. I know that she was trying to find the word love, but like comes out instead. I can tell that she isn’t sure who I am again and she looks at the flowers that I put by the bed. I wonder if she still thinks I am the flower delivery person. I stop telling her about our family “stuff” and we end up watching Channel 2 before she goes to lunch.

It’s hard when Mom forgets me. I know it is normal in the progression but try and tell my heart that. I try and remember how lucky I have it with Mom. She doesn’t hit out, she’s calm and polite. One of the aides told me last week that my Mom is one of her favorites. Teasing, I told her she says that to all the families. She said no and told me why. She said no matter what we are doing together, your Mom always says Thank You. I can imagine that they don’t hear that often. I love that she shared that with me.

Day 49 of Hospice

Jodi/Flower Delivery Girl

The Garage Sale Farmer

Over the last few days, I have had a garage sale just to get rid of some items and to purge. My Mom had a lot of clothes that I needed to sell and overall the sale went well. Boy, did I meet some personalities. One being a man named Stan.

He came in today looking for men’s shirts and the only thing I really had was Steve’s long, black cashmere coat. I had $5 on it and we went round and round about it. He wanted to buy it for $2.50, I stuck to my guns and wanted $5 for it. He enjoyed that I wouldn’t sell it to him.

He ended up telling me that he was from Clara City and he had walked to my house from his daughter’s right up the road. He had retired seven years ago and loved being able to come town to see his grandkids and to help her out. He loves to go for walks when he is here and he asked about Steve’s work truck. He told me he farmed most of his life but dabbled in construction. He was surprised to hear that I grew up on a farm and we talked about farm life. He asked about my parents and I told him about moving Mom closer to me and a little about her. I told him how much I missed my own parents coming to see me, just like he is doing with his family. He talked about that his own memory isn’t what it used to be. He hoped he didn’t get “the disease”.

We talked about small towns, his stint in the war, playing horseshoes in Clara City and that it is a competitive sport where he is at. He broke down all the scoring in great detail, with great pride. I told him my Dad taught me many years ago and the distance is 30 feet. He talked about where his grandkids went to school and we were trying to figure out its Christian name. He talked about how proud he was of his girls and what good mothers they were. He talked about how sad the six year old was to leave his mother to go to school, but now he doesn’t cry anymore. He told me that his daughter was also a RN and worked for Methadist, though I didn’t recognize her name. He also bragged about Lake Minnewaska and what a good lake we had.

Just looking at him, he reminded me so much of my Dad. He looked about the same age when he died. Farmer cap, three layers on due to the weather, old weathered jeans and pointy boots on. It was such a breath of fresh air from the people I had met and wanted to pay fifty cents for everything. I must of spent 45 minutes with him at the end of the day. He stated he needed to go and that his family was most likely worried about him.

I closed up the sale and there sitting there was the coat, no one had bought it. I knew about where his family was living and I drove up the other Orleans. Some kids were playing in the road and I asked them if they knew where the Anderson’s lived and they pointed to the green house. I knocked on the door and his son-in-law answered the door with a baby. I really never got his name but he called out for Stan. He must have known about our conversation because the son-in-law had a big smile on his face. Stan came to the door and I gave him the coat. He asked if I wanted $2.50 for it and I said it was a free. He was pretty happy and said, “Thanks, Starbuck girl”.

My heart was so full after I left. I think there are people meant to come into your life, maybe just for a moment. I’m not sure what the moment was supposed to mean but I hope I see him again. It was like seeing my Dad again.

Jodi

The Feeder Table

After Mom’s stroke, the building asked if they could move her to a feeding table and I agreed. She just wasn’t able to get the fork on the food and it was becoming a struggle for her and for us to watch. I feel the same way about her wheelchair as I do the feeder table. Just watching her decline is tough.

So tonight I sit on these hard chairs, surrounded by staff and other people, feeding Mom. For supper tonight, its sloppy joes, green beans, hash browns and a freshly baked cookie. For a treat, I have brought her pumpkin bread and a cookie. I know that if she refuses her regular food, I can always get her to eat a treat with coffee.

I know that she loves green beans, she grew a huge garden filled with them. The meal smells so good but she is refusing most of it. I try to get her to eat and she shakes her head. I nod my head yes, she nods her head no. And so on and so on. I do get her to eat the pumpkin bread and she eats most of it.

As I sit here, I can hardly believe I am feeding my mother. For the many of you who don’t know my Mom, she was a feeder herself. Her goal in life was to feed people. For twenty years she worked for Lutheran Brotherhood, cooking meals for seniors. She would wake up at 6 AM in all sorts of weather and walk two blocks to open the  center up and make the noon lunch. She loved that job and has most likely made thousands of meals in those many years. She always had something in her fridge and/or in the freezer. In a small town, people stopped by and she was always ready. She made us great meals, made meals for funerals and weddings and loved being a feeder. It gave her much pleasure. I know that in this world, there are feeders. My friend Leanne is a feeder and so is my Mom’s sister Gloria. I am lucky to get the benefits of them feeding me. They are much like my Mom.

Now, I am the one feeding her one bite at a time. She gives me this look every once in a while. I know the look. She would rather not have me doing this. I understand and I put the fork down. I let her know that I would bring a burger with fried onions next time. She gives me this slow, sweet smile. I knew that would make her happy.

Tonight I also get her ready for bed, its something I love to do. I haven’t seen her in over a week because I have been so busy. Work, the school book fair, Sophia’s birthday and many other projects. I know she doesn’t realize I have been away that long but I have missed her. She looks tired and weak to me and the hospice nurse says she had an ok visit with her…she only wanted to get to bed when Cathy, the nurse saw her.

After I tucked her in, I have a habit of turning my Dad’s picture towards her, right by her bed. Tonight she said, “Do you know if he’s in the house?” I paused for a second, the comment somewhat surprised me. I told her, “I think he is always in the house.” She gave me a second smile tonight and closed her eyes and went to sleep.

Day 31 of hospice care…

Jodi

The Day Off

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Today has not been a good day for Mom. We sat on her bed this afternoon and talked about what was bothering her. She is a little clammy and I’m not quite sure she knows it’s me. Here is what she is trying to tell me:

I feel “cheesy” inside.

I wish I could die. (100+ times)

I’ve got to get to work…I need to get to work…It’s my work day.

I’ve got to get to bed.

Are you tired of me?

She is very out of sorts about work, which is very new. I try to calm her down and let her know that it is her off day and that they don’t need her. I also let her know it is Saturday. You know what worked?

Sophia

This picture says a lot. They are holding hands with Mom looking so sad. It speaks volumes about this disease. I really can’t make it all go away, but my soon to be eleven year old can for just a while. They talk a little and she is calmer. I wonder if she thinks Sophia is me at a younger age. She also has her doll and her blue dog. We lost it for a few days but when we arrived today, there Blue was sitting, waiting for us on the piano. Sophia said it was like magic, finding it right there.

There are many reasons to hate this disease. To watch her so worried about getting to work was very difficult for me. Something must have triggered in her brain that made her think that today was a work day. She’s always been a hard worker.

Day 23 of hospice care…I’ll be glad for her when tomorrow comes and it is a new day.

Jodi