The Lemon Bar Queen ūüćč The Book

Blog followers,

The Lemon Bar Queen, my memoir about my mom’s memory loss, is finally here. It dawned on me last week that I hadn’t let my blog followers know that it had been published. I’m very excited to share it with you.

This has been a two year labor of love. I’m so proud of how it turned out! We had the book launch the beginning of October and I’ve had two fun book signings at my hometown Dairy Queen and Caribou Coffee near my home in Plymouth.

I’ve had a wonderful response and I’m on my second printing. I’ve also met the nicest people in this process. I love hearing your own stories about my mom and about your own loved one. Yesterday, at my Caribou event, I met the sweetest woman. Her mother has been taking care of her dad in Texas. Her mom is struggling with his memory loss and the daughter is so far away. I completely understood her feelings. It’s hard not to get teary.

All your kind messages are saved in my “Thank You” folder. I’m so glad you’ve connected with the book.

If you’d like to order it, it’s currently on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Itasca Books of Minneapolis. I’m open to events and book clubs. I have seven book clubs on my calendar and I’m so excited to meet fellow readers.

Thank you for following along the last six years. Many of you have kept me afloat as I hope I’ve done the same for your journey.

If you have any questions or comments about the book, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you! ‚ô•ÔłŹ

Jodi

The Third Year ‚̧ԳŹ

The third year…1,095 days to be honest.

I really debated all week if I was going to write about it. Like last year, I don’t want people to think that I think about her all the time and I still consciously try not to talk about her. But she continues to dwell in my heart.

This is the time of year that is hard for me. It is her birthday, anniversary of her death and Mother’s Day all within a few weeks. Its hard not to think about her and miss her.

Summing up the third year has been a mix of emotions…

Like we have done the last few years, my brother and I gave away Dairy Queen Blizzards last week on what would have been her 92nd birthday. The first 100 people would get her favorite treat in honor of my mom, though they have discontinued the Snicker’s Blizzard which was her favorite. We even had a donation bucket and including on-line donations, raised over $500 for the Alzheimer’s Association. As I have mentioned before, she loved her hometown Dairy Queen. A place she knew when she would get turned around walking. It was centrally located to her walking and when her confusion took over, she knew where she was. Thank you to Carrie and staff for helping plan the event.

I have finished the manuscript of our memoir. It has been a labor or love. And I do mean labor. At times, I am very proud of it. There were many parts that were tricky to write about. I don’t want to embarrass her or write about something she would not want me to describe. I’ve added, taken out, changed things and tried to honor our time spent for those long eight years after my dad died. At times, I am terrified that people will be upset about decisions I made or that I have exploited her in some way. She knew that I started to write about her when we entered memory care and she felt she was a terrible topic. I beg to disagree. If I have helped one person understand the loss of a mother or anyone to this horrible disease, it will be worth the hundreds and hundreds of hours I have spent describing our journey. It will now go to the copy editor and book designer. I’m excited about the whole process. Many of you know of my love of books and the whole thought of putting this whole thing together is mind-boggling for me. I am hoping for a November release in honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Grief continues but has lessened.

Next Thursday, I am having minor surgery. I was in the ER a few weeks ago and I have a mass on my left ovary which is large. A lab also came up high for ovarian cancer but the doctor is very optimistic, as am I. They will be taking the mass, ovary, and two Fallopian tubes which I obviously have no use for any more. When I was in last week for my pre-op, we discussed my mom a little. I don’t have a health history due to my adoption and he was intrigued of why my mom could not have children. He confirmed that if the same thing happened maybe twenty-five years ago, she would have been able to have children. I love that he spent the time with me discussing her history. Those are the moments I wish she was here. Not only to hold me hand but to tell me everything will be ok and to have faith. She had enough faith to go around.

I continue to miss her voice.

Parenting is hard and 90% of the time I feel a failure. Truth. On a particularly bad day with my teenager, she stated I have been angry since my mom died. “You have lost your smile!” I don’t feel she is completely accurate but at times, I have lost my smile. I think when you take care of loved one for that long, go through the highs and lows of a devastating disease, and then they are gone, its hard to get that smile back. The worry. The insecurity. The loss. The grief. ¬†The sadness. No one to share certain things with.

I continue to miss just being her daughter.

I miss her calling my name or calling me on the phone.

I miss being able to ask her a cooking question.

I miss her hugs.

I miss the time that we spent reading together or watching the birds.

I miss her stating, “Let go and let God”.

High up, above the clouds, I  hope that she is happy with my dad, drinking coffee, reading, working on her tan in a big beautiful garden and humming a song. I hope she is looking down and me and she would remind me to smile. I hope that she is also happy with the story I have told about a mother, a daughter and the love that kept them together.

Happy Mother’s Day next week to all of you with your own mama’s. And to all of you who have lost your own Mom’s over the past year, remember to find your smile.

Jodi

 

 

 

The Second Year

It’s hard to believe that on Saturday, my mom has been gone two years. I have been consciously trying to not talk about her as much. The next two weeks will be difficult for me. In the span of the upcoming two weeks, it was her birthday (April 26th), anniversary of her death (May 6th), and Mothers’ Day (May 14th).

I was at Target today picking up things and there is a whole section of Mothers Day cards, spanning the whole row. I don’t necessarily think of cards or gifts for me, I think naturally of them for my mom. And the books I would buy her. I honestly hope the weeks go by fast.

In memory of her birthday this year, we again celebrated the day by giving away 100 free Blizzards and cones in our home town of Starbuck. She loved her Dairy Queen and in her confusion, she still remembered that it was a special place to her. The DQ is smaller, family owned and was voted WCCO viewers Best of Minnesota. They did discontinue the Snicker’s Blizzard, her favorite, but you can’t beat this special place. Thank you to all of you who came and to Carrie and staff who helped run everything. All tips went to respite care for families that could use a break in caregiving. Both of my parents would have loved this idea and its our second year putting it on.

On my off days and weekends, I have started to formulate my writings and timeline of the events that led up, starting with my dad’s death, the assisted living and finally her move to memory care. In this blog, I write a little about the past but mainly of  the days she spent in memory care. It has been very difficult to put it all down and to include all the factors that led up to it. I have boxes and boxes of papers, files, doctor orders, bank statements, cards and receipts that my husband would love for me to get rid of. It just sits there waiting for me to go through it all again, like I don’t remember how hard it was before. Its like ripping the scab off a wound and reliving the pain again. It brings up such sadness, anger, occasional hope, frustration, joy, grief and pain. I get frustrated with my writing and feel it is hardly good enough to be put out there. I am not a writer. My boss gave me a CD to listen to on writing and I know I make a lot of errors just listening to the CD. But I still keep going. I have about 65 pages completed, pre-memory care with much of it surrounding her beautiful home town and the help she received. Hence, the free Dairy Queens.

Grief.

I have come to believe that some sort of grief lives in everyone’s heart. Sometimes the space it occupies is just a tiny speck that you can hardly see or feel. It’s there but you don’t notice it. Other times, I feel the weight of grief taking up all the residence in my heart. Just sitting there. Heavy. I know it’s there and there are days I can’t shake it. It can occur at a stoplight, at a game, when I see a Client who may look like my parents, at the grocery store or especially writing. It’s hard to have both of your parents forever gone. I can’t bounce anything off of them or call them for advice. There are days that I need my dad and days that I need my mom. I feel like I need my mom more, just to answer my parenting questions or show me one last thing.

How did she always get merengue to turn out so well?

How did she turn out to be such a good parent when I constantly feel I miss the mark?

How did she know what was best for me and what would she do differently?

Did she worry all the time like I do? Did she care what other people thought about her or worried that a group of moms that maybe didn’t like her?

How did she keep so many balls in the air and how did she keep them from falling?

What was the key to her being so organized?

How did she know how I was feeling before I even knew it?

How did she deal with mean or unkind people?

Daughter questions I can’t ask her now. I wish I knew the answer to some of these.

I think that we will always be linked by love. A strong link.

It was love that started us off by both of them choosing to adopt me. Saving me.

It was love that kept us going through my elementary and high school years. We both survived and came out of it somewhat unscathed.

It was love watching me become a nurse, marry Steve, have her favorite girls and watch her grow old.

It was love watching me from her chair or bed but not quite knowing who I was most days. The Girl.

It was love saying goodbye to me and her family on that Wednesday morning at 4 am.

I miss her but it’s not like the The First Year.

“When you are sorrowful, look in your heart and you shall see that in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

Kahlil Gibran

 

Jodi ‚̧ԳŹ

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very First Year

I have stopped and started this entry many, many times. It’s hard to sum up the first year without your mom and over the past few days I have thought about what to share with the people who read it. May 6th marked the first year without my mom.

I have missed her.

Sometimes I think to myself, why should I be so sad that she is gone? It’s not like she wasn’t ready to have her life end. She wasn’t my young daughter who has her whole life in front of her or someone’s brother who lost his life early¬†to cancer. She was 89 years old with a horrific disease that plagued her ability to eat, walk, show emotions, make her own meals or even to recognize me. I’m sure she is happy to be free.

I still miss her.

The first few months after her death, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of love from people. People are incredibly kind and loving. People ask how you are and they have certainly lifted my spirit. I grieved but I would call it a healthy grieve.

The holiday was hard, she loved the holidays and it was very different not to have her around or in the last few years,  we would go to her memory care to visit her and celebrate there. People talk about losing a loved one and the finality of it all. Holidays are very tough.

I miss her voice.

Books and specialists talk about what stress and grief does to you. My grief came out in my hair. My hair literally changed after my mom died. It started to change texture and shape and it became kinky, straggly and I looked awful. I can barely stand the pictures of me. It was almost like whatever was inside of me, was coming out via my hair. I had my thyroid checked and my friend Martina, who cuts my hair, kept stating that she sees this with people who grieve. I spent a lot on hair products with no results. Awful, dull, lifeless hair. And that is how I felt.

I miss her love.

January was a very tough month for me. I felt like something had come over me and that I was a very angry person. I was anxious, yelled at my husband and girls, I yelled at people at work and I could not overcome what was wrong with me. I wasn’t even reading. I could barely stand to look at myself. Grief.

I miss every stage with her.

There are stages of grief that anyone goes through and I’m sure I’ve hit them all. You miss the days of being a little girl and having your mom show you how to ride a bike. She introduces you to the world of reading and teaches you how to you be kind to¬†the kid on the bus you want to smack. She teaches you to stand up¬†straight, friends are important and that neat¬†handwriting counts.

You miss the high school and college years where she teaches you to be independent, self-sufficient and watches you become a nurse. She is so excited for you and she watches you meet a boy named Steve and you get married. You have two cute girls that are named after her.

You miss the days where your roles are now reversed and you must take care of her. You gladly pay her bills on Wednesdays and visit her midweek, after work and on weekends. You introduce the world of Alzheimer’s disease to your daughters and they love her all the same. You watch a beautiful woman ask her own daughter if she is indeed Jodi. You watch the kindest woman, slowly slip away.

You miss all the stages that you have been through with your mother.

On¬† Mother’s Day, my second year technically without her, I spent the day with my girls with their numerous adventures. I stayed off FB with the exception of posting a picture of my girls, enjoying ice cream at a favorite stop. I had butter pecan, my mom’s favorite. (With the exception of Snicker’s blizzard!) I hope you had a wonderful day with your own mother.

I miss her pats.

In honor of her birthday, on April 26th, we donated free Snicker Blizzards and cones at her hometown Dairy Queen. Thank you Carrie for helping me. I love the idea that we celebrated with her favorite treat. I hope she was proud of the way we celebrated it. I know we loved doing it.

I miss her when I see other client’s that remind me of her.

The hardest part of my job is to see Client’s that remind me of mom. Families ask questions and on a rare occasion, I will tell them about mom and her journey with the disease. Families also¬†ask about the dying process and¬†I share what¬†may be to¬†come. A few weekends ago, a daughter told me “thank you” for explaining the death process to her and she made the decision to come and see her Dad. It was the same way with mom.

I think about her when I see a cardinal, smell our lilacs in the back yard, make her rhubarb torte and see Emme snuggle with Blue Dog.

I miss just being her daughter.

In conclusion, I’m not sure I will write again. I may if something moves me.¬†The very first year is over with and I’m feeling better. My hair is back to normal, my heart isn’t so angry and I feel back to what is semi¬†normal.¬†I’m not sure what else I can tell you about us…just that I gave my best, loved her hard and I’m so proud that she picked me and that she was my mother.

Happy Belated Mothers Day to all of you…

Jodi

 

 

 

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 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 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 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.

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