The Momma

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This has been a long few weeks for Mom and I. We have both felt the good days and the bad days and in the last few weeks, she has started to call me Momma.

It started when she saw me from afar and said, “Well, there is my Momma!”. She continues to see me coming or watches me and calls me by that name. I feel the term is a comfort to her and in a way, very endearing. There have been many names she has called me over the past few years. They include:

The Girl

The Flower Delivery Lady

Her

Gloria (her sister)

Jodi (on really, really good days)

And now…Momma.

I went through her pictures today to show you what her own mother looked like. The first picture is from 1925 and pictures my Mom sitting on her Mom’s lap, along with her sister Gloria. My Grandma had three children in three years, and as you can imagine, was very busy. The second picture is of Mom with her own ailing mother. Gloria, my Aunt, has said they both took care of her until she died and that she was a good Momma, in her own right. I love both pictures…

Over the past few weeks, she has had a very swollen hand and it has caused her discomfort. We had to take her ring off and she now holds her hand differently. Her palm was bruised up to her wrist. I’m not sure what happened and I hope someone just accidently squeezed her hand too hard, getting her up. I worry about things like that. I have put her wedding ring in a safe spot and I may just keep it for now. She hasn’t asked about it yet, but her hand does look different without it.

Last night, Steve dropped the girls off at church and I spent some time with her. She was very sick and threw up all over her bedding and pillows, all the while saying she was sorry. We cleaned her up and we watched TV until I had to pick up the girls. Its hard to see her so sick but again, she kept calling me Momma.

Last night was harder for me, probably because she was sick. Where do we find the most comfort when things go wrong? Our Moms. I think she knows me as the person who comes to see her, brings her things, cuddles with her and comforts her. To her, that is “Momma”. I’m sure her mother did that to her, she continued to do that to her own mother and my own self, taking care of Mom. What a circle.

This morning, I brought her new pillows and a banana. I found her at exercise class, but fast asleep in her chair. So very, very tired. She gave me a big smile and eyed the banana. She was pale and wanted to go to bed so I transferred her into her chair and covered her up. While she sat in her chair, I asked her if she remembered my name. Easy as can be…Jodi, not Momma.

When I was telling a friend yesterday about Mom calling me Momma, she reminded me that there is no better name to be called. She is totally right. ❤

Jodi

Hospice continues…I’ve lost track of the days. 🙂

The Phone

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I arrived today to find Mom exercising (well, somewhat) in the courtyard. All the residents are in a circle and working hard with the activity person. I’m so glad to see her out there, she is normally in her room or refuses to exercise. There she is, in her black wheelchair, lifting her little arms and clapping when the staff person says to clap. I can hear her say, “I want to go to bed!” but still continues the arm lifts. I laugh to myself, knowing those familiar words.

Its nice being able to watch her without her seeing me. It’s hard for me to watch her complete these simple, limited exercises knowing that in her past, she was an exercise queen. Walked for miles, always moving and stretching in the morning. I should be glad that she is doing them, but sad all the same.

Finally…she sees me and smiles. I smile too but I notice that she is really not looking at me, per say. She is looking at what I am carrying. A huge bunch of bananas. I can hear her say…”Look at those bananas.” Again, I start to laugh. She is not looking at me, her loving daughter, she is lovingly looking at her favorite food. She is pointing at them and she finally looks at my face and recognizes me. I feel like I’m not “The Girl”, but I am “Banana Girl”. She motions me over and tells me she wants to get to bed but she’d like a banana first. It’s the start of a good morning for her.

When I get to her room, I am reminded that I can’t use her phone. I have removed it a few weeks ago because I was worried that when she heard it ring, she would get up and fall. There was also a Russian man calling her phone and I could not get him to stop calling. This decision to remove her phone was a very hard one to make.

With this progression of this disease, I have had to stop or end many of her favorite things. Driving her van, balancing her checkbook, going for walks, cooking or baking and taking her own medications. The list could go on but you get the picture. One of the last things that she could do on her own was talk on the phone. Lately, she had been answering the TV remote and we had a laugh about that. There are such few  things to laugh at, but we both found it funny after I told her.

The use of her phone goes way back. I asked her sister a while ago if they grew up with a phone in her fathers store. They did have a phone and I can imagine how many times she has used a phone in her life. I even remember on our farm, the party line which some of you will understand. She would be amazed of how much we use our phone in 2015.

I think of all the time I have spent on the phone with her. People make comments of how close we are, the phone has been and important factor in our closeness. I have called her for almost every important moment in my life. Getting an A on my nursing paper, car problems, pregnancy updates, labor progression, heartbreak, money requests (!), updates about my Dad, medications questions and the start of repetitive questions. She would call me and then 5 minutes later call me again with the same thing. The phone being our moderator.

When Mom moved into Holly Ridge in my home town, I would set up her meds monthly and instead of paying the cost of having the staff give her the meds, I would call her every morning and remind her. It was my time to connect with her and see how she was doing. It started to get hard with the girls and I would forget and panic. Plus, she would tell me she took them and I would find them still in the box.

When I moved her closer to me, I got her a phone. We could still communicate every day when I could not get up to see her. It was also my brothers way to communicate with her. I love how the girls would call her and talk to grandma. Over the past six months, its been more difficult. Not remembering how to answer it, getting weird calls and not knowing who I am on the phone. Sometimes she would answer it and set the phone back down. Her memory care unit was used to me calling, can you hang up Mom’s phone?

I thought long and hard about cancelling it and so I have. I don’t think she knows its gone. But I do…one more thing that has disappeared with this disease. Our frequent communication and connection via the phone is gone. Sometimes I forget and think, I haven’t checked on Mom today.

In conclusion, I just want to say a huge thank you to the people who have reached out to me to tell me their stories. I am not surprised at how many of you are doing the same thing I am doing and handling it with grace, strength and love. Your notes and emails inspire me. Thank you…

Jodi