The Happy Tomorrow

While I was organizing my desk in my home office, I looked on my board where I keep special notes. Many are from friends with words of encouragement, special pictures and notes that I treasure. As I was moving something I saw my dad’s special note to me, half hanging off the board.

It’s worn, stained and proof that it has moved with me over the years. When my dad would write to me, I could tell what kind of advice I would get by just opening the envelope. If he was disappointed or upset with me, he would hand write a letter in his blocked, neat as a pin hand writing. He would let me know something of great importance and made sure I knew his opinion. In all actuality, I most likely did a stupid thing and he was letting me know.

If I received a typewritten note, I knew that I was getting fatherly advice. I can picture him right now, setting at his very old typewriter with a steaming cup of coffee and a Pall Mall cigarette hanging half out of his mouth. I can see him with two fingers plunking at the keys, formulating a letter that would spell out his fatherly advice for me.

Many years after he died and we cleaned out Mom’s house, I looked for that typewriter. I knew it was in our attic but it was mistakenly thrown out. Besides his bowling trophy, that is one thing I wish I had of his. All those letters typed on that old and dusty, green antique.

Below is the letter he typed. I know what he was talking about. I was 23 years old at the time. I was not in a great relationship, working nights while I went to nursing school, tired, having car problems, worried about things I could not control and we had a screaming match on the phone one night. I was frustrated with him not understanding what I was going through.

And then came the letter in the mail. I could tell it was typewritten through the envelope, but still apprehensive opening it. Here is what it said:

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Boy, do I miss him, even with his handwritten letters. It’s wonderful advice for the New Year 2017. Lets all have some happy tomorrows.

Jodi

 

The Piano Player

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to share a story. I know I wrote my last post in May and at that time, it had been a year since my mom’s death and now it has been another six months without her. Time moves on.

Over the last few years I have been writing about her, I have shared stories about the holidays and many of the issues we went through. For many people, it is a time for family, being around our friends, good food and parties, faith and traditions. For others, it is a hard time mixed with sadness, grief and a sense of nostalgic meaning.

I have a fairly new hospice case, a sweet gentleman with a shy grin and a constant baseball cap on. This week it is a U of M cap, slightly tilted off to the side with a smudge of dirt on the front of it.

He is happy to see me and pats me on the back. I know we aren’t supposed to have favorites but in all honesty, I love coming to see him. Our banter has been the same over the past few weeks.

He: “You are here to set up my rat poison, I see.”

Me: “I see that you haven’t used your oxygen all week!”

I enter his warm kitchen and we sit down at the table. We talk a little and I start to set up his meds. I can tell he is watching me, just like my mom used to do. I can tell he is a little winded and he is telling me about riding a bike at the Y today. I warn him that he needs to keep that quiet or he will be kicked off of hospice. He gives me a mischievous grin. I grin right back.

I finish the medications and he is quiet. I know he has gone through a lot this year. It’s been hard for him and at times I know he struggles with family issues. Same issues I struggle with.

He confesses he is not excited about the holiday. I want to agree with him but I don’t. I just listen. He talks and I listen some more.

At the end of our visit he stands up and like he always does, goes to his beautiful baby grand piano. I have heard the story of the piano before.  After many years of admiring it at the home of one of his customers , he bartered a job for him and the customer let him have it. Unbeknownst to him, he got it home and it was built the same year he was born. He felt this was a sign and I agree.

He asks what I am in the mood for and I respond…holiday music. He starts to play, no sheet music and eyes shut. He plays a jazzy version of a song I can’t name but I recognize, and then he plays Silent Night. I wish I could explain how beautiful it sounded. He is now breathless from playing but still refusing the oxygen I have encouraged. I could listen to him play all day, he is that good.

We get to the door, I am running behind on my visits and need to go. I remind him I will be back the day after Christmas and he pauses. “That’s my anniversary!” I know he has been missing his wife, she has been gone for a few years. He gives me a look that I recognize and he gives me a hug. I know how hard this is for him and all of us at the holidays. Loss, grief, longing and his own mortality.

He wishes me a Merry Christmas and I yell back to him…”Wear your oxygen!” He laughs.

The Piano Man almost moved me to tears on his snowy, cold sidewalk.

I have had friends lose their mother and their father this year. Friends have also lost their brothers and their sisters. Grandparents, neighbors, Aunts, Uncles. Thinking of all you who have lost a loved one this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Jodi

 

 

 

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 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.

wpid-2015-07-05-12.38.46.jpg.jpeg

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