The Journals

Over the past few months, I have had a chance to read my mom’s beloved journals. As I have been organizing her bins, I have found a few more of her old calendars and her journals that she was so dedicated to. They are a treasure.

I know that she has many more but I am sure in her numerous moves over her life, some have gone missing but I am thankful for the ones that I do have and the story they so beautifully tell.

I think I have told you this before but my mom actually wrote about how often my brother and I called her. Really. She even commented when she didn’t hear from us, and wondered what we were doing and why we hadn’t called. 20160423_140358.jpg

Many of her writings start with calendars and she documented their trips, their meetings with Lutheran Social Services and quick views of her day with both Ross and I. I love that she documents their struggle with adoption and their joy by writing in that tiny little space.

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She writes about the weather, her walks every morning, my dad’s golf outings, who she saw on her trip to the mail box, who has died in the community, the birth of both of our girls, the sadness regarding my dad’s death and even her loss after him is so clearly evident.

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She writes about her close friends, baking buns and lemon bars for funeral services and trips that we took after my dad died. She talks about her much loved Dairy Queen in my home town, her many years of cleaning houses after she retired from cooking for seniors and she writes about all the blankets that she made by hand. She is also grateful. Many of the entries are of her faith and her love for us. I love that in one of the entries, she states…”Thank you God.”

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Her journals are also a snap shot of the start of her memory loss. So achingly spelled out for me to read. She writes about her forgetting the eggs in the brownies and there is a confusing entry of her and the van. I think she got turned around somehow. She talks a lot about being tired and “getting mixed up”. I remember wanting her to have a MRI of her brain and she agreed after much coaxing. I was having a hard time with the start of her loss, half in denial, half knowing that she needed more help. 20160423_132920.jpg

As she continues to write, it is difficult for me to continue reading. It is the start of her loss in 2007 and her notes and entries start to get shorter and her handwriting starts to change. Her last green journal is filled with a quick synapse of her shortened days and she only wrote a short amount after I moved her into the assisted living. I know that she wasn’t very happy with me and she does not write about her new place but shortly stops writing. This was her last entry.

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I love that her last entry was about me being very busy around her apartment. I remember I was organizing her room and trying to make it homey. I should be glad that she didn’t write about her anger with me for moving her out of her home.

There are parts of me that wishes she would have continued writing about her memory loss, if she were able. I only write about her last three years, in the memory care unit but you never get to see her side of this disease, only from my point of view. My most treasured writing  of hers are her last. She didn’t want to forget my birthday ever so I found many slips of paper with my birthday on it. And if you remember, she had a special note for me that I thought was going to be a loving note. She stated her nails looked bad. That was the end of her writing.

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As you can imagine, her journals are very special. Something that my girls will keep and be reminded of their Grandma. They will note the entry of their birth and how she talked about them with such incredible love. I also can feel the love, writing about her own children and her gratefulness of her life. I wish you could see all of them, she dearly loved her home town and church.

Next Tuesday, my mom would have turned 90 years old. There isn’t a day I don’t think of her. In her honor/memory, our Starbuck Dairy Queen (her home town DQ only) will be giving away medium Snickers Blizzard or if you prefer, a medium dipped cone. April 26th. Enjoy from our family.

I know my mom would love the thought of people eating Dairy Queen on her birthday!

Jodi

 

 

The Healer

Last month, I bought a groupon for a massage/healer. Its the first groupon I have ever purchased and I love to get a massage, yet I wasn’t quite sure about the “healer” part of it. After a few emails back and forth with Kimberly, we set our appointment and I found out it was very close to my work. There is nothing better than a massage and I was excited to get one.

I had a morning appointment and I was a little apprehensive because I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. Her office is shared with another office (a therapist) and I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place or not. I was starting to get a little nervous for some reason, almost worrying that I was the victim of a scam.

After waiting for about ten minutes, Kimberly came out and introduced herself. Her office was warm, inviting and smelled softly of  lavender. I was nervous and did not know what to expect but she put me at ease. She asked  if I would lie on the table and I could stay fully dressed. Huh? I didn’t need to get into a robe or crawl under the sheets?

She started to gently touch my feet and they suddenly became very warm. Actually, I became really warm all over. She was doing some reflexology on my feet and it felt really good. If you have every had your feet massaged, you know the feeling. In the mean time she put something in my hands to hold, almost like a small upright weight. I’m sure she told me what they were, but I don’t remember. Almost like a tuning fork?

I’m now wondering what kind of groupon I have purchased but yet her rubbing my feet is pure heaven. Kimberly starts by saying, “When you walked in, so did a small, older woman with permed hair”. She asked if my mom had died recently and I told her she has been gone since May of last year.

“You are not your mother’s child”. I am confused. I said that I was my mother’s child and then I remembered (duh) that I am adopted. Its not something that I always carry with me or think about. She is quiet for a while and started to talk about the cosmic world and energy. “Did it take a long time for your parents to adopt you?” I answered that she tried for twenty years to have children but was not successful. She said that her being unsuccessful was meant to be and her adopting my brother and I was the cosmic universal plan. I was trying to take all of this in…trying to believe but having a very confusing conversation in my head. Do I believe this? She went on to say that it was meant to be that she brought you up and loved you in this world and that you helped her gracefully leave this world. She asked if I knew what this meant.

I did.

Now she has my attention.

All this time she is gently touching my hip bones, my ear lobes, my forehead…I feel like my body is floating. I was trying to tell Steve that I was light as a feather. No pun intended. It was like whatever she was doing, my sadness and worry was leaving. Its very hard to articulate.

She also stated that my mom likes to sit in Emme’s chair at night. Now I’m a little scared. My last story that I wrote about was Emme’s chair. For the past few months she has been having bad dreams. For a week straight, she woke up in the middle of the night scared. I’m not sure of what is causing her distress. Its been hard for her and I wasn’t going to tell Kimberly anything but I shared with her Emme’s issue with her room. She told me that your mom, Emme’s Grandma, watches out for her and that she also loves your kitchen. I told her, that would make sense, my mom was a baker/cook her whole life and loved our kitchen. Kimberly stated that I could talk to my mom and to tell her to visit during the day vs the night, if it is scaring Emme. She feels that Emme is very sensitive to things we can not see. Super. Like that doesn’t freak me out at all.

“Your mom also sends you love.” And then I can feel that warm tears are starting to flow. She told me that she has crossed over and that she has a very important job. Her job is to take care of a big, beautiful garden and that she is the “greeter” for people that have crossed over. She waits in a tunnel and greets family and friends. Wow, that is a lot to take in.

She knew that my dad has been gone for a while and that his job was to help all of the vets cross over. She also asked if our lights go on and off. Ok…that freaked me out. I’ve shared with a few of you that our sun room lights go on and off on command. This thoroughly freaks out only one person in our family. Me.

She laughed a little and said that he is a character (indeed) and that if it bothers you, he will stop. That was absolutely crazy that she knew that. I’m ok with it. If my family doesn’t mind, I guess he can continue.

We talked about other things; she picked up that I help people cross over. I laughed a little because I hoped she didn’t think that I really “cross” people over. She also laughed and said that I knew what she meant. She wanted to be sure that people didn’t attach themselves to me. Ok, I’m freaked out again.

Finally, our visit of over an hour, was over. I’d like to think of myself as very neutral thinking when it comes to healing, psychic things and the unknown. I think all nurses have seen their fair share of strange, unexplainable things. Myself included.

I think she lifted my soul a little, made me more peaceful and I kept thinking of her conversation. Sure, its easy to read about someone, maybe she read parts of my blog but some things I do not talk about. She described my mom to a tee and stated she is always around. That I still could talk to her and she would hear me. That gave me peace.

So we have talked since then. I asked her not to sit in Emme’s chair at night but to still watch out for her. I told her its ok to hang in our kitchen, I like that image. I told my dad that my girls think its funny, I will get used to his playfulness. Someday. Well, not really.

In the end, I never got a “massage” but had a bit of healing that was unexpected.  If you need her card, let me know. She was a healer.

Jodi

 

 

The Green Chair

In my seven year old’s room , there is a green chair that sits in the corner. We have had this chair for almost thirteen years. It has seen its better days, to say the least. It has been used to rock my babies to sleep and we have spent too many hours to count, reading books. It has many stains on it that will not come out. I know that when we bought it before Sophia was born, and that we probably paid way too much for it. I say “we” but honestly,  I was the one who fell in love with the chair. Both girls have used it and it stays there, not used quite as much any more.

Last night, around 10:30, Emme gently knocked on her wall. She had been sleeping for a few hours, tired from the exciting Christmas Day. I opened up her door and she was sitting up in bed. She wanted me to turn the light on and I could tell she was scared. “Mom, there was someone sitting in my chair!” I looked in the chair and the only thing that was in the chair was one doll and a few clothes.

I told her that there was nothing there and to try and go back to sleep. She wasn’t accepting my answer. “Mom, I know there was someone sitting in my chair, I could see it.” I didn’t want to get her more scared so I told her that I would keep the door open a little and I would listen if she needed me again. I could hear her moving around a little but she finally went to sleep.

The first thing she said to me when she got up this morning was, “Did you believe me when I said that someone was in my room, sitting in my chair?” I told her that she might have mistaken the clothes for something and she slowly shook her head no.

Part of me would like to think it was my Mom…or even my Dad, watching over her while she slept. My mom spent some time in that green chair, reading and rocking my girls. For many years, I have kept her embroidered quilt that she made for Sophia, just draped right over the top of the chair. On the quilt are the words…

Guardian Angel, pure and bright  Guard me while I sleep tonight.

I happened to notice it this morning when I really looked at the well worn chair. 20151226_123304.jpg

I hope it was my Mom, just coming to check on her this Christmas night. I miss her very much. Even on the very, very confused days, I still could visit and let her know how much we loved her. Christmas is different and her presence was missed this year. Another ugly milestone in the face of this long year. She has been gone for over seven months.

So whomever Emme saw in the green chair, I hope that they are looking over my girls and watching them grow. It would be nice if they came back every Christmas, just to see them and send them love.

Now, I’ll have to keep that chair…stains and all.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, wishing you a wonderful 2016!

Jodi

 

The Six Months

It is hard to believe that my mom has been gone for six months. There is not one day that I don’t think of her briefly or that I am reminded of her or my father in some way. I feel like I have been given little reminders of both of them in the last six months.

On the 7th of this month, I celebrated another birthday. Over the past few years, I have celebrated with Mom at her memory care unit. I would remind her that its my birthday and she would become sad because she forgot and I would try to make her happy with cupcakes, Snicker’s and coffee. The day before my birthday was the 6th month anniversary of her death. Boy, I miss her voice.

This was from my birthday last year, November 7th, 2014.

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When I was at Cub this week, I brought a bunch of change to put in their machine. Sitting right next to the coin exchange machine was a woman in her late eighties, may ninety or so. She sat on the bench with her legs crossed, perfect hair, a rain jacket on and small bags of groceries at her feet. I noticed how tiny she was and she sat very quiet with her hands crossed in her lap. She gave me the sweetest, kindest smile. As you can imagine, she reminded me of my mom. She watched me pour the change in and she asked me a few questions. Simple talk. She was my Mom probably seven years ago. Interested, kind, alert and such a mother. I so badly wanted to sit down with her, hug her and tell her how much she reminded me of my mom.  I also thought she probably thinks I’m a nut or a tiny bit crazy. I got in my car and thought…she was a little sign from Mom. I’m also proud that I didn’t cry when I was talking with her.

Do you remember that bird that kept tapping on mom’s window when she was dying? I have her bird feeder in our backyard, right outside our sunroom. I ran out of bird food and bought some new food for them. Guess what? No birds. I even moved the feeder to a tree in our front yard. Steve thought they didn’t like the food I bought so I went to the store again and bought new food. Again, no birds. I have moved the feeder to different spots and this week I noticed a cardinal just sitting on top of the feeder, not eating, just staring at me. I think the birds have flown away for the winter or I hope they are off flying with mom somewhere.

I haven’t been able to let go of her clothes yet. It sounds so silly not getting rid of them. I know they are just sitting in buckets waiting for someone to use them. I was talking with my friend at hockey and we were talking about her mom and I asked her if she needed any clothes. She does need some clothes and I realized that my mom would want her clothes used by someone who needs them; not to just sit in a bucket. I will keep some of my favorite items but it has taken me six months to realize I can let go of her clothes. My mom would want to help someone, that’s the way she was. A giver.

Grief is ever present but has lessened. It helps me to see my aunt, my mom’s sister, who is just a miniature version of my Mom. Emme interviewed her for a school project and I loved that my girls still have someone to talk to. I know that many of you have lost parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones. The loss of them is incredibly hard. I have a hard time when people say to remember all of the good times. I do remember the good times but I would much rather talk to her or hold her hand again. Just one more time.

Over the past six months my Mom has missed the start of school and hockey for the girls. She has missed Emme getting a special award from school and Sophia almost getting straight A’s in her first year of middle school, with the exception of a B in shop tech! (My dad is laughing somewhere!) She has missed my recent attempts at cooking, some winners, some losers. I’m trying to cook and bake more. (Somewhere she is laughing!) She has missed the frustration I sometimes have over things I can not control. She always said, “Let go and let God.” She has missed how hard Steve works and how much the girls adore him. He is coaching them in hockey and he needs to help the girls in math, since I can’t understand the new math. She has also missed my brother starting to feel better. She has missed a lot but somewhere, somehow…she knows. And I hope she knows how much I love and miss her.

Jodi

 

 

 

 

The Parentless Daughter

A few weeks ago, we buried both of my parents. The heat index that day was way over 100 degrees, but I know that my parents would have loved the beautiful day. There were boats on the lake, the pretty flags flying in my hometown and the Dairy Queen bustling with people. It was a perfect summer day and a special day to honor my parents.

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At age 45, both of my parents are gone and I feel a bit orphaned. I know that when they both adopted my brother and I, they were older parents already. They were both 43 when they adopted me, twenty years older than some of my friends parents. I’ve always known how much they wanted children and overall, I think they adapted to being “older parents”.

I think my brother and I were lucky to have them for as long as we did. My dad died at age 81 and my mom lived two weeks past her 89th birthday. That is a long time to be loved by them. We were both lucky to find one another and bridge the gap.

I have lived many adult years but I think I will always be a child in relation to my parents. Even taking care of both parents before their deaths, it is still my parents of my youth and childhood that I buried. I have been doing a lot of reading lately and author R. Scott Sullender says in his book, “The world is a different place after our parents die”.

My relationship with my parents wasn’t perfect. Few of us have trouble-free relationships with our parents. I know some of us look back with maybe harsh words spoken, deep rifts and missed opportunities to express love. I am confident that our parents forgive us and we need to move on.

Nothing will ever be the same after losing my parents. Mom and Dad will not be there to applaud my accomplishments or give me direction at a critical crossroad. They won’t be able to see Sophia do well in school or watch Emme sing in the choir. They will miss many of our life’s events but they have left a mark on my world.

I’m moving forward by remembering all of the treasures from childhood and adulthood advice that they gave me. All of those hard learned lessons that they tried to teach me. Some successful, some not so much (like sewing!).We are who we are, thanks to their love and nurture. They have tried to guide me as best as they could.

For all of you who have lost a parent or both parents, hang in there. Sorrow is very deep and very real. Talking to my family and friends has been very helpful. Grief is present but not overbearing.

For those of you that still have your parents, enjoy them. Really enjoy this time with them. I love getting to see all the grandparents at hockey and baseball games and getting to see all of my friends parents. Our parents are a gift that lasts only so long. Ask questions about their lives, be involved in their care (if able) and remember that we are all getting older. Don’t let pride stand in the way of a past issue. I had a client’s family tell me today that the time with their mom was not enough. She is dying from breast cancer. She reminded me of myself four months ago, while I watched her sit with her mom and just holding her hand. Life is very short.

Jodi

The Blue Dog

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Emme has been full of questions for me lately. I know she has been missing Grandma, as we all have. Here are some of her questions:

*How do you become a Grandma?

*Once you are a Grandma, do you stay a Grandma for your whole life?

*Do you think Grandma can see me from where she is at?

*When do I become a Grandma? (That was tonight)

This whole week, I have tried my best to explain the term “Grandma” to her. I even told her that I had an adopted Grandma named Julia growing up because one of my Grandma’s died before I was born and the other one died when I was young. We adopted Grandma Julia Danielson and we showed her pictures. She knows that I am adopted and we talked about Grandma not being able to have children and why. I think her brain was on overload today.

Today she again asked me if Grandma watches over her. We have talked about heaven and our beliefs but I feel like she looks at me and wonders if I am telling her the truth. In the past few weeks she has asked if Grandma lives above the moon. She has also asked if she lives on or above the clouds. People have also told her that Grandma lives in her heart and how can she live in her heart? Seven year olds take things very literal.

Today we talked about Blue Dog, my Mom’s stuffed animal. I thought about this a lot today and I told her that I think that Blue Dog is here to watch over her for Grandma. I reminded her how much Blue Dog brought Grandma comfort. This seemed to make sense to her. Guess where Blue Dog has been today?

*It went down the slide with her many, many times today.

*He (I think it’s a he) ate cereal with her in bed.

*He went in the car with her but I wouldn’t let her bring it in to Perkins.

*Its been in the baby stroller, watching the kids play.

*He took a badly needed nap this afternoon

*He wrestled with her, along with her dad.

I hope that I’m not confusing her. As a parent , I wonder what to tell her. I miss her Grandma too.

To be seven again and wonder what this world is all about. Blue Dog is in for some adventures, along with her favorite animal, Lambie.

Suggestions are welcome…

Jodi

The Gifts and The Signs

I wanted to share with you that for the past several weeks, I continue to receive the most thoughtful gifts from friends. Its been a short two months and life continues to move on. I was talking with my friend Leanne and we both agreed that receiving cards and gifts months after your loved one has gone, is really wonderful. Don’t every worry about being late with cards or gifts, I know I just finally got a card into the mail for someone. Everyone is busy. Just to know that people care is what is important.

People are, without a doubt, thoughtful. Here are just a few gifts that have touched my heart in the past few weeks.

wpid-20150705_120053.jpgMy friend Rich, sent me Forget Me Not seeds, which are significant with The Alzheimer’s Association. Rich, you are a gem and the kindest person I know.

wpid-img_20150703_112234.jpgMy friend Anne, made this for me. She captured my Mom perfectly and it sits by her picture. I LOVE it. You are the best, Anne.

wpid-20150705_120550.jpgMy friends, Jim and Cristy sent me chimes. I love how they fit into my garden and they sit very close to Mom’s bird feeder. When a storm blew in last week, I could hear the beautiful music in the middle of the night. They also sent me a beautiful card that sits on my desk.

wpid-20150705_120654.jpgMy stone marker from my co-workers sits right by Mom’s bird feeder. Its incredibly special and I love that bird seed spills out on it. My Mom would have loved this. I’m blessed to have a great nursing family.

I think that when anyone loses a loved one, I think it is normal to look for signs. The other day, someone was asking me if I felt Mom around me. I do, but in subtle ways.

When I was assessing a client at a rehab in Bloomington, there was a storm warning while I was there. Staff needed to move all the residents in the hallway and to keep them from being scared, the activity aide started to play her guitar. The first song she played was Edelweiss from the Sound of Music. This was one of my mom’s favorite songs and when Mom was dying the music therapist played this for her on the guitar and I taped it, hoping she would sing it. She only listened to the music. I know how much she loved music.

One of the other signs is her bird feeder, sitting in our garden, right outside our sunroom. There is a yellow finch that comes and goes, along with other birds. I’m sure it isn’t the same bird that visited my Mom’s room the day she was dying but I would like to think so. Steve states it is a male, due to the bright colors. He comes and goes, while I have been watching him, just like my mom watched the birds in her memory care unit. Here is the bird. Correct me if you know what kind of bird this is.

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It’s hard not to think about her. I still get mail for her, almost every day. I’m working on finishing the thank you cards and trying to figure how to honor Mom with the money people have sent me. I know I talked about getting a bench in her memory.

The feeling of grief is still there. I sometimes wonder if I should be so sad about a woman who really wanted to die at 89 and her life becoming so different from it used to be. When you think about a mother who has suddenly lost her young child or a woman who lost her sister or even a man who lost his dog.  Its sudden and unexpected. I was prepared for Mom’s death but I still am unprepared for the void of her. My friend Mary reminds me that I was with my Mom for forty-five years and some people do not get to experience their loved one for that long. She is correct.

We all feel grief and in all of our situations, we are tied together by loss. It doesn’t matter what the loss is and I’m not going to compare anymore. Loss is loss.

I hope the signs continue.

Jodi

The Cupcakes

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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

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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

The End

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I am up early on this Saturday morning. I can hear the birds talking and can see the beautiful sky slowing waking up. I can’t sleep. Sleep has been my enemy this past week and I can feel that I am exhausted while I type this.

Early Wednesday morning, my Mom left this world. 4:20 am to be exact. I’m now up at this time and I feel she is shoving me out of bed. I feel she wants me to write but I’m not sure quite what she wants me to say. I will do my best.

For the past year she has wanted to die. This is a fact she has repeated over and over again along with wanting to go to bed. She has asked me this questions in the car, in her bed, on the toilet, watching the birds and at meal time. Sometimes she looks at me to say, “Hey, I’m talking to you. Yes, you!”. I’ve talked about this conflict in past stories.

Last Wednesday, she was not feeling good. She was sick at dinner, refusing her medications and getting weaker. Friday, Cathy the nurse, talked about starting a little Morphine for her but I wanted to use Tylenol first. I don’t think she has ever had Morphine before and I was worried it would sedate her too much and if the Tylenol helped, lets start with that.

Saturday came and I was really worried about her. We had taken her off her Aspirin and I was worried she had a small stroke since she was leaning so much. We couldn’t get her to eat much and her head was tipped down so it made it hard to feed her. We were having a birthday party for her on Sunday since most of the family could not see her on her actual birthday. I called the family to update them and hope that everyone could come.

On Sunday, we got her out of her beloved bed and put her in a tip back chair so we could attempt to feed her. Most of her family came and we sat in a lovely courtyard with the birds flying overhead and the breeze on her face. She would wake up every once in a while and I would tell her who was there. It’s the last time she also had her beloved coffee, only taking small sips. It was nice to spend this time with her, along with her family.

On Monday, I knew that it was serious. I found her in bed with my bright shirt on, hair neatly combed and she looked like the bed could swallow her up. Her mouth dry and we worked on getting small sips in her. Through out the day, she kept trying to tell me something. I could tell she was frustrated that I didn’t understand her. At the end of the sentence, what came out clear was…I love you. A little garbled but I got it. Over and over again.

I had a special moment with one of mom’s aides when she told me that Mom was her favorite. She said that they didn’t hit it off at first but that they grew to love one another and spar back and forth. We had so many people checking on us. My Pastor Beth came to see her and gave her a blessing and anointed her. That was a very meaningful moment since her faith has been so important to her. I left about 9 PM, telling her what was in my heart and not expecting her to be alive much longer. When I left, she just patted my left cheek, the same one that I had dreamt about last week.

When you are a nurse, you are the one to get the call that a Client has died and its so difficult making that call to let family know of their loved ones death. All night, I kept listening for the phone to ring. It didn’t.

Tuesday, I got my kids to school and headed over there right away. When I arrived, a male volunteer was holding her hand. He really loved my Mom and he came in early, before work, to say goodbye. He liked to call her Mean Jean. It was a very touching moment.

Mom was now not able to talk. We had started a small amount of Morphine for her to keep her comfortable. When I would say the word “Mom”, her eyes would flutter. What an important word for her. Mom.

It’s hard to express how kind people were. We had a busy day of people coming and going. The nurse, the social worker, massage therapy, music therapy and two Pastors that again blessed and anointed her. I love that she was blessed twice. The room smelled of oil and lavender. I swear a bird came to the window and knocked as if to say, “Hey, I’ll fly with you when you are ready.”

When I left on Tuesday, I was exhausted. My enemy, sleep, was winning. I had fallen asleep twice in her chair and tried to lay by her side but the bed was too small. They traded out her normal bed for the hospital bed. All those months of crawling in with her, I could only sit by her on the bed.

When I left her, I knew. I knew that she wanted to die without me there. I told her she could go and that her job here, was done.

My phone rang at 4:20 am and she was gone. Her soul at peace.

As you go about your days and weeks, remember my Mom when you see or smell:

Lilacs. We had them on the farm and she loved to put them in a pretty vase.

Fresh brewed coffee. Black, as it should be.

A Snicker bar. You can have more than one, my Mom says its ok.

A rhubarb plant or stalks. I think she would love if you made some for me!

A child’s laugh. She loved kids to the moon and back.

A Dairy Queen. Boy, did she love our hometown DQ. A small cone or if she was really crazy, a Snicker’s Blizzard.

Lemon Bars. I made her recipe yesterday and it filled the house of her memory..

A choir singing. Picture her humming along.

Any kind of book. She taught me that the best escape is a book.

Finally, do some random act of kindness. She was all about helping her family and friends.

Thank you for all of your sweet messages via FB, email, texts and calls. I only can read a few at a time. Your words are important in getting me through. One of my friends said, “You loved her well”. I love that. We both loved one another well.

Jodi

The end of hospice.