The Bed

wpid-img_20140905_191738.jpgIt’s been a while since I have been able to write or even have wanted to write. There are things that happen with Mom’s care that I feel are appropriate to write about or not. Many things I stay private about and other things that occur, seem to just flow into a story. This story is one that I have chosen to share but I needed to figure out how to tell it without it seeming contrived.

Over the last few weeks, Mom has had really good days and days that I really wish would move on into the next day. It’s Christmas time, her favorite time of year and I wonder if that is the cause of her worry and concern. On my visits, she has been asking the same questions, over and over again and my answers stay the same.

*Has Ross been here? Have I missed him?

*I’m worried about Bud, have you seen him?

*You know I need to get back to Howard Lake. I’m late.

I answer that Ross (her son) is just fine, please don’t worry. Bud (her brother) is also fine, I can call him and see if he can come over to see you. I let her know that I can take her to Howard Lake when it gets warmer, but it is currently too cold out. We have talked about her questions fifty times in the last weeks.

This week, I brought her to her room and tucked her in for a nap. She was tired, anxious and I felt I was not helping her very much with her concerns. When I put her blanket over her, she asked if I would lie with her. I have been doing that lately since it seems to calm her. She moves over a little and I crawl in. I can hear her relax and she always grabs my hand. I’m left listening to the building noise and her falling asleep. I can see her Christmas cards on the wall and so grateful for the people who sent them. I can hear alarms going off in the distance and see one of the men, Melvin pop in and ask if I’ve seen his daughter. I can see the birdhouse outside her window and I know the birds wonder where I’ve been. I wonder if Mom and I will break her bed with our weight. It has come full circle.

Earlier in the morning, Emme, my six year old, did the same thing. She had a bad dream and wanted me to crawl in with her. She is also nervous, scared and wanting to be close to me. I end up letting her crawl into our bigger bed. How strange that this happens on the same day. Eighty-two years separate the two of them and both of them needing my comfort. This is what a “sandwich generation” is all about. My children and my mother.

It seems like yesterday that I crawled in with my own Mom. I remember their bedroom so vividly. The gold comforter sprawling over their twin beds pushed together. I can still smell the whiff of Charlie perfume, mingled with my Dad’s outfits and his smoke smell. I can still see the willow tree outside and it would reach my parents window with its limbs, making the softest noise. Enough to think there was someone outside and me being scared all over again. I see my Mom pulling back the covers and me cuddling with her warm body. To a young girl, that was heaven. It didn’t happen often, but enough for me to remember this wonderful memory.

Now, I’m in her bed doing the same thing. I felt a little strange a first but I recognize that she also needs this warmth. She has her blue puppy on one side, and me on the other. The fog of this disease just goes on and on. Pray that we don’t break her bed…

In conclusion, I was told yesterday that M. died of a stroke this week. If you remember in past blogs, she was the one who slapped my Mom and was really the only one that I told my kids to watch out for. She was so unpredictable. My heart was sad to hear this. This disease really touches so many, and who M was today is not reflective of who she was five or even ten years ago. She was a mother, daughter, sister and I am sure had many friends who loved and supported her. And she taught my Emme a lot of language that she hasn’t heard yet. RIP, M.

Jodi

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The Singer

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It didn’t take me long to find a picture of Mom singing. There were a few to pick from and I almost picked a picture of Mom wearing a sparkly tree outfit, guiding the Sunday School choir. I’m not sure of the year, but I would guess early ’80’s. This picture is perfect and I hope the other ladies are ok that I am using them. I’m sure it is for some event and I like that she looks healthy with her Cool Watermelon lipstick, perfect hair and she must have just returned from Yuma because she looks tan.

Music has always been important to her. I love that she helped with the Bible School choir, Sunday School choir and sang in the Fron Choir. She was a soprano, always in the front and I remember as a girl, waiting for her Wednesday after school, as they practiced in our churches high balcony. Even when she baked or made dinner, she hummed. It is a very distinct memory for me.

A few months ago, I visited Mom on a Wednesday, her church day. It is a non-denominational service and I know she enjoys going to it. I sat with her for a while and I noticed she was softly singing. The song ended and the pastor was going through the service and she was repeating every word, word for word. I was very surprised since I didn’t even know or remember the words to it. Mom was always a devoted Lutheran and I loved the fact that she could still sing and remember the verses.

Music continues to be a part of our family. Sophia made All District Choir this year, as a 5th grader and we hear her sing every day. She loves music as much as I do, with participating in our own choir and our Starbuck Buck N’ Aires. (Some of you are giggling right now!) Music is good therapy, I think.

Last month, Sophia and the AD Choir sang at Orchestra Hall. It was just beautiful and so well done. As I was sitting there, the high school did a performance of Handel’s Messiah. I could almost hear my Mom’s voice singing to her favorite concert. Her own choir putting it on a few times. I was nostalgic also thinking of how much my Mom would have enjoyed watching Sophia sing and also listening to her favorite songs. Before her memory loss, she attended almost all of Sophia’s preschool events, even going to a music class with Sophia and I that my Dad had deemed “waste of money”. She has missed a lot since those days, and its not her fault. It is the disease that invades her and has taken her away from so many of our activities. I really hate that.

I was telling her music teacher how much we enjoyed the concert and how much my Mom would have loved to attend it, if she was able. I think I shared a little about how much my Mom enjoyed music and how proud she would have been of Sophia. And then you know what?

Magic.

Barb and Beth organized that the choir come and sing for Mom and the other residents. I know it took a lot of work organizing, getting parents slips, bus schedules and parents picking up their children, but they did it. My Mom’s sister attended, along with my neighbors Mary and Glenn (my Grandparent savior) and our family.
I wish you could have heard them sing. Mom was having a more alert day and I was trying not to tell her too much information. She gets very confused quickly if I rush her so I just said that Sophia was coming over to sing for her and she was bringing some friends. That seemed to get her interest and then she was rushing and telling me to hurry.

She sat in the front and was a little cold and at times she wanted her bed, but overall I could tell she loved it by her clapping and her toe tapping. I know she asked her sister a few times, where Sophia was. She was standing in the back and I think it was hard for her to see. I wish you could also see the expression on her face. Music just erases memory loss, it really does. Other people were clapping, tapping and loving it. It was such a beautiful thing to see.

You know what else I loved? The kids weren’t scared. I don’t think a bit. It’s hard to know what to expect with something you don’t know anything about or exposed to. My girls have really grown up with this disease and they are used to the loss and behavior that is not really their Grandma before, but it is for now. They had cookies and hot chocolate and we got to take a picture. I think I was more excited for them and how they got to make so many people happy for doing something so simple. I did tell people that my Mom may not remember those 45 minutes, but I sure will remember. Huge thanks to all that were involved in this, especially Barb, Beth, Clare Bridge, school for letting them out early and the talented kids. You all made a difference and our family is grateful. So grateful.
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Jodi

PS. Day 88 of Hospice Care