The Cupcakes

wpid-wp-1434674913995.jpg

It’s been a beautiful day in Minneapolis. Sunny and warm with beautiful, wispy clouds in the sky. I love days like this. Today, I’m on a mission with my girls.

It’s now been six weeks since Mom has been gone. I’ve been working on thank you’s and thinking of ways to honor Mom with the donations. I have lots of ideas, nothing concrete yet. I’m in awe of all the kind words you have shared with me in the cards.

There is not one day that goes by, that I don’t miss her or think of her.

She was very lucky to have such good care and I wanted to give Clare Bridge something from our family. What do you give them that can convey your thanks? For almost three years, they have taken care of my loved one. Good days, hard days, sad days, slap happy days, mixed up days, scared days, alert days (somewhat) and loving days.

Their days aren’t always easy, I have talked about this before and my own history working in a memory care unit for four years. I know that they work very hard and maybe don’t get the recognition that they should. Many of them were very special to Mom.

The girls and I decide to get Gigi’s cupcakes today. It seems such a simple and lame gift to give but I know my Mom loved sweets and would be happy to know we bought them as a thank you.

I haven’t been back for five weeks and it was very difficult to return. People are so kind and everything is the same. I saw Mom’s hairdresser and we talked about how excited she was to get her hair done, the week of her birthday. She talked about how alert she was. We received hugs from everyone and got to see Jean, my Mom’s roommate across from her.

It was not always about Mom but a social factor for me too. I like the staff, I know the residents and it was such a part of my week and routine. I wasn’t a nurse in a facility but a daughter. I liked that. The only thing missing was my sweet Mom.

I might by back, I’m not sure. I drive by almost every week because I have Client’s very close. It’s so strange to drive  by and not stop.

Thank you to all the people who take care of our loved ones. Thank you to all the families who take care of their own loved ones at home, who work just as hard. Lastly, thank you to anyone who takes care of a person with memory loss, or any disease for that matter. Days and nights can seem so long sometimes. You make a difference, even though you may need a reminder. Even if it’s a simple cupcake.

Jodi

The Grief and The Gratitude

wpid-20150511_214439.jpg

Perhaps they are not stars in the sky but rather openings where the love of our lost ones shines down to let us know, they are happy. -Eskimo proverb

I’m up early again, the breeze is coming through the window, Barley has had his treat and everyone is still sleeping. It is a quiet time for me to write. Its been thirty days since my Mom has been gone. One full month. This is the longest period of time I haven’t seen her since my Dad died, almost eight years ago. The void of her has been hard.

Grief is a tricky thing. Just when I think that I am doing ok, I see or hear something that reminds me of a memory. It ebbs and flows through me and it seems to be almost constant right now.

Grief seems to be all around, with friends also experiencing this shadow of pain. I have friends with a new loss of their Dad and sister. I have a friend who lost their family home. I have friends in the hospital and client’s families trying to work through their own grief over their loved one. Grief really does not discriminate.

Yesterday, I was at an assisted living building completing a medication change. I wanted to get in quickly and leave but when I was entering the building, I stopped to watch a daughter trying to get her mother in the car. I watched for a while because I noticed she was having a hard time getting her in. I noticed the loving care she was providing and my own thoughts went to my Mom’s car ride, only six short weeks ago. I completed the medication change and was teary in my car. I miss the simple act of getting her in the car.

I think part of my grief ties in with gratitude. I have been simply overwhelmed with gratitude from my family, friends, neighbors, strangers through my blog and clients and their families. Who knew my 89-year-old mother touched so many lives. I wish my mom could have known the generosity of people in the past month.

Since her death, I could not begin to tell you how many people have helped. It was almost like a revolving door at our house with people bringing over food. Really, really good food. My eleven year old daughter, Sophia, told me, “So when people die, you bring people food? I hope this never ends!” Thank you for all the food you have brought so we didn’t have to cook.

I have received food baskets in the mail, along with chocolate dipped strawberries. I received a book in the mail from my friend Lisa, in California, that was called H is for Hawk, about death and hawks. (I cried like a baby when I got it). I have received beautiful wind chimes that play a soft melody in the breeze. My work gave me a beautiful stone that I can put in my garden, along with time off and loads of food. Also, a special thank you to my friend Joanie. We forgot our dresses for the funeral in our garage (yes, I know) and she drove to St. Cloud to deliver them the day of the wake. Bless her.

And the cards…I have finally read all of them, plus I am still getting them in the mail. I hope you realize, it will  take me one year to thank you all. I know Emme counted them as a project, as there are over 400 people to thank. Yes, 400.

She was a blessing.

There are times in the grief and gratitude that I feel her around me. I don’t want to sound crazy but I will tell you I really do feel her presence. For the first week she was gone, I kept waking up at 4:20 AM, the time she passed away. I’m not sure if it was conscience or not, but it started to be really annoying. Plus, those that know me know I’m not an early bird.

A couple of days afterwards, I had to run to Macy’s to grab Steve a new shirt for his suit. There was the sweetest woman helping me, I was in a hurry to get other things done. We found a shirt fairly quickly and we got to the register and there was a line. She let me in first, explaining to the line that she had been helping me and it would take a minute. In the line, there was an older woman. Hair perfectly done, Burberry rain jacket and a cloud of perfume. She was angry and stated, “Well, we really don’t have a choice, do we.” I was quiet for a while, now feeling bad that the Macy’s person helped me first. I softly said, “I’m sorry, my Mom just passed away and we are heading out-of-town.” Her response was, “Well, that’s too bad!” still in an angry voice. By this time, I’m upset. What I really wanted to say to her was almost out of my mouth. Really bad things that are not my normal. But for some reason, words popped in my head, along with the bad words. Take the high road. It was my mother telling me that its ok, not everyone is kind and understanding. I walked away, taking the high road. But if you know this woman, maybe remind her that she may be in the same situation some day.

I also feel her around me when I watch the birds at her bird feeder. We put the feeder in my garden, right outside our sunroom. I have been watching the birds joyfully feed and think of my Mom watching her own birds at the memory care unit. I think birds have become more meaningful for me, thinking about that one bird, knocking on Mom’s window waiting to fly with her. Hospice sent me a beautiful card this week, with all the staff signing it. Kind and special words spoken about my Mom and I. On the outside of the card was this…

wpid-20150601_220556.jpg

There is that bird that came to the window.

When I was putting away some of her things, I also noted some things that she had written on a piece of paper. For the last few years, she had a difficult time remembering my birthday. She would always ask and a few times, I could tell she was writing it down. While putting away some pictures, I found this…

wpid-20150524_201422.jpg

I know she is around me. Gosh, I miss her love. I hope she knows that both Blue Dogs are very loved and that I made her rhubarb dessert this week. I hope she knows that Sophia got a special award at school this week and that Emme proudly made it to second grade. I hope she knows that I drive past Clare Bridge every week, because we have two clients near there and it hard to know she isn’t there any more and I drive right on by. The hardest day for me was cleaning out her room. All of her memories and stuff, hospital bed long gone. I took this last picture, were you can see the view she saw for almost three years. The birdfeeder visible, along with the bench we frequently sat on and talked about life.

wpid-20150513_113154.jpg

The days, weeks and months will continue and I know that she is where she wants to be. Grief and gratitude will also continue but hopefully one of them slowly fades.

Jodi