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 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 Return of Hospice

wpid-img_20140905_191738.jpgToday, for two hours, I signed papers for the restart of hospice for Mom. She has been off of it for two months but the nurses feel that we should restart it again. She is not eating very much, has had three falls in the last few weeks, not verbalizing as much and has lost a few pounds. The spark is slowly fading.

I met the hospice intake nurse in a quiet back room, telling her about Mom. Her name is Chris and she is gentle and very kind. She has heard about Mom from her last hospice term. I hope I am that understanding and gentle when I open my own nursing cases. We discuss starting massage and music therapy for Mom. We didn’t utilize that before and I want someone to rub her back, like she always requests from me. We also get to have Cathy again, Mom’s primary hospice nurse.

On the first admission, I was not emotional. It was something that needed to be done quickly and I guess I didn’t have time to process the whole thing. Today when I arrived, I went to see Mom first and she is sound asleep on the bed and very pale. She doesn’t respond to my voice, she is in such a deep, sound sleep. I return to see Chris and start the paperwork.  I’m listening to her but I can feel the warm tears slowly start. I’m embarrassed that I start to cry in front of her but I have also watched the same thing with family on my own case opens. I’m not sure, but for some reason today is different from the last open with hospice in September.

A few months ago, a woman I respect greatly, told me that its ok to tell your Mom that she can go. I completely understand what she is saying but those are hard words to say. For seven years, since my Dad has been gone, I have taken care of her. I have grocery shopped in my small town, set up meds monthly, fought incorrect bills, paid bills, moved her twice, bought her clothes when she has lost weight, taken her on trips, yelled at people for her and loved her. How do you tell someone you love that its ok to stop living? I’ve thought about that conversation a lot.

When we were done with the paperwork Chris and I return to her room. She is in the same exact position. Curled up in a ball. She is wearing my old sweater that she loves, she has a huge hole in her nylon, crazy hair and blue puppy in her arms. She refuses to open up her eyes, even when I kneel down beside her. I introduce her to Chris and let her know what she is doing. Listening to her lungs, checking her feet  and looking at her swollen leg. In the middle of her assessment, still with her eyes closed, she states…

“I think I love you.”

We both start to laugh and I tell her, “I think I love you too!” She says she doesn’t hurt anywhere and she is very loving with Chris, repeating thank you, all with her eyes shut.

If I could show you what this disease is about, today would be the perfect day. The feeling of uncertainty, loss and grief mixed in with a whole lot of love for a woman who doesn’t want to open her eyes today.

As I was driving home, I was thinking about a book I read a few months ago about a woman with ALS. She wrote about the song in Wicked that described her relationship with her daughter. It’s called For Good and I thought of Mom.

It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime,

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made from what I learned from you

You’ll be with me

Like a hand print on my heart.

Day 1 of the second round of hospice and her 89th birthday is this Sunday.

Jodi

The Ambiguous Loss

I want to share with you that these stories are hard to write. Really, really hard sometimes. It is a quick overview of our days, weeks and months with this disease. Our rollercoaster continues and this month has been no different but for some reason, this month has been harder.

I will share with you the good things first. My brother came to visit her.

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The week before he came, I was feeding her lunch and she turned to me and stated, “Is Ross alright?” I was surprised because it was totally out of the blue. I answered that he was just fine. I didn’t want to share with her that he was coming this weekend because I knew she wouldn’t remember. I didn’t want her disappointed if he couldn’t come. She has been asking about him, more so recently.  He hasn’t seen her for a while.

When he arrived, the first thing she asked, “Have you been lost?” I wish I could describe to you how alert she was which I was very thankful for. She was tracking well, funny, patting his leg and told him that he needed to shave. I know you are not going to believe this but not once did she say that she wanted to die or that she had to get to bed, as she frequently tells me.

Not one time.

I was telling a friend that I think she must be bored with me. Every single day when I visit, I get the same two sentences. Death and her bed. I am thankful that she was so alert for his visit. She has been asking about him and I told her that he will come back and visit.

It is difficult with loss and grief. She is still our mother but not in the same way. Ambiguous loss is different from the loss and grief of death because our closure is not possible and our grief cannot be fully resolved while she is still living. I think that this loss complicates my own grief with her. The person we knew before is behind us and the person in front of us is now our mother. Funny, confused, kind, scared, coffee obsessed and always loving.

The not so great things…

She has fallen twice. The staff put her on the couch to get her out of the wheelchair and they think she either fell off or got up to walk, which she is unable to. The second was she was trying to reach her Snicker’s from her bed and fell right on out. I had a message to move the Snicker’s. Yes, its ok to laugh. She didn’t get hurt.

There is talk of her getting a hospital bed. I have mixed feelings about that, just like the wheelchair.

Her blue dog is missing and she is mad at her baby and won’t hold it. I don’t know what to do.

Easter was not a good day for her. It’s her favorite holiday and she was tired, leaning in her chair and physically looked awful. The only funny part was when I told Mom that Steve, my husband, whom she has always adored, was here too and she looked at me and said, “Where did you find him?” Sometimes, she cracks us up.

Today, she is really sick. I fed her a little bit of lunch and she was not interested in the food. She just wanted to die and then she threw up. We put her to bed and she has the shakes. The aide taking such good care of her. I asked her if she knew her birthday was coming up and she stated, “April 26th”.  That should go under the good section. She is correct.

Jodi

 

The Weep

Its a beautiful day today and the girls and I decided to bring Grandma some Snickers and a few other things for her. We arrive and find her sleeping in her chair. The girls have never been known to be really quiet and I think we woke her up out of a deep sleep. She is disjointed and trying to tell me something, “That shouldn’t happen!” I can’t understand what she is trying to tell me, only that she is worried about something I can’t figure out.

We give her a banana and she is worried we don’t have anything to eat and she keeps giving me the banana back. I tell her its ok, that we just ate lunch. Again, I can tell she is worried and sad. The girls decide to read to her out of the devotion book. It normally is a comfort, but not today.

I try to help the staff when I can, but the girls are with me and I know she needs to go to the bathroom. I help the kind, older man who is her aide, walk Mom to the bathroom and she keeps telling me, “Thank you, Thank you”. The both of us walk her back to bed and she starts to weep. I’m not sure if I hurt her walking or getting her into bed. She is incredibly afraid of something that she can not articulate. I haven’t seen her cry since September, when she had her stroke and knew something was wrong with her. Its very difficult to see your mother cry and knowing that she is fearful of something I can’t help her with. I again ask her a few questions and I can tell the aide is uncomfortable and does not know how to help. She has been weepy for most of the afternoon, he reports.

I decided to go get her some coffee and return to find my girls trying to help her. I think it is also hard for them to see Grandma cry. This is how I found them.

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I love that they are trying to help and that she is holding Sophia’s hand. She is calmer and less anxious. Over and over she says to me…I love you. I love you.

I wish I knew what she wanted to say. Sometimes its a guessing game and I get lucky. Sometimes she just repeats what I’ve just said. Today, I wish I knew what her fear was all about and what made her cry. She is very different in behavior today than she normally is.

I know that on each and every post I write, I try and find the lesson that I am supposed to learn. I know its there. Should I be more patient? Can she see my own fear? What happens if she sees me cry?

Today, I’m not sure what the lesson is. Only that fear and tears make me sad for her.

Jodi

The Hospice End

On Thursday of this week, I met with our wonderful hospice nurse, Cathy. I had been prepped last week that Mom would not qualify for hospice any more. I know the rules have become much tighter regarding who can stay on the program and you must be actively dying to be on it. I understand it, but to be honest, a part of me is happy and sad all at the same time.

Actively dying is such a funny term we nurses use. I think we are all actively dying to some extent but some of us are really, really dying. Like today. Mom has not lost any weight, has been feeding herself (!) as of late and just keeps holding her own. With the highs and lows of this year, I can hardly believe she is still here. She is a wonder.

The wonder of her going off of hospice is, that I still have her. I still get to see her, hold her hand and just love her. That part of me is overjoyed. Almost like we jumped a high hurdle and made it. Success. We beat the odds and I know how rare it is to go off of hospice. In all my years of nursing, I would guess I have had five people discharged from hospice. They just weren’t ready to leave this world.

The hard part of her going off of hospice is that she is still here. I can hear my Dad somewhere yelling “BOOOOOOO!” I know he is patiently waiting for her, along with all of the friends she has lost. She sits in her chair and states every day that she wants to die. Every single day. I know it, I feel it and I understand it.

It’s not that I want her to go, please don’t misunderstand. I’ve spent all of these years with her and watched what an amazing life she has led. She will be eighty-nine in April and has graced this earth with all of her being. She’s made an impact. She has loved to love.

But as a nurse and a daughter, its hard for me to watch her. Slow, weak, disjointed at times, foggy, displaced, sad and overwhelmed with her life. She is not who she used to be and even with her confusion, she is justified in wanting to die. I can’t bring her back to where she was ten-years ago, but I can be with her and peacefully get to the end. It just isn’t going to be right now.

There is hardly a week that goes by that I don’t think of loss.

Over the past two weeks, my mom’s roommate has died, along with the loss of four Client’s plus someone important in our office. Even my favorite Parkinson’s patient had to put his beloved dog to sleep last week. This dog had been very important to him, 15 years of love and companionship. We have watched the dog suffer over the last few months and its been hard for him. I sat with him the day before and he was struggling. He said, “I’m the only one who wants him to live, none of my family wants to keep him alive.” I reminded him that not being able to get up any more is not living. The dog was helpful in getting him through sobriety and had a purpose. He was a very loved dog. I have heard before that we treat our pets much better than we do humans. Somewhere that all connects with Mom.

So on we go with the days, weeks and months. The paperwork will return and I will continue my fight with Hennepin County and the hours spent figuring out her medical assistance and waiver status. Last Wednesday I was on the phone with them for two hours, including hold time. Crazy system.

She was on hospice for officially 171 days and we continue to live. ❤

Jodi

The Momma

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

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

The Girl

The Flower Delivery Lady

Her

Gloria (her sister)

Jodi (on really, really good days)

And now…Momma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jodi

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

The Phone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jodi

The Four Men

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Today was my  regular Thursday visit with Mom. Emme and I made blueberry muffins last night and I brought her banana’s and caramel corn, which she loved! She ate almost everything and finished if off with coffee. Overall, it was a good visit.

For the last month, she has been asking about four different men. Today, it was her father, Charlie. “Have you seen my Dad today?” She has asked me this question before and it is the hardest question for me to answer. The other three men are easier for me, for some reason.

In nursing school, you are told to state the truth when a forgetful person asks you a question. I find it easier to go with the flow and try to judge how your answer will affect the person. I’ve had patients weep after you tell them their husband has passed away. Recently, I visited a man, after his wife had died and he had forgotten she died. It was like opening the wound all over again. He had simply forgotten she had died and it was painful to watch his grief. Every day the aide would report that he would wake up and call for her. It’s hard for people to imagine this.

I find myself pausing and not knowing how to answer this. She’s asked before and I told her that he is not here and she seemed ok with that. She seems to move on to either her brother, my brother or my dad.

Today I told her that he has been gone for a long time, even before I was born. I told her that I’ve heard through family, of what a good father he was, raising four children and owning a country store. I can see the look on her face of sadness and she is very quiet. I feel I should have told her he’s not here, like I did before. I know she will ask about him again.

She has been asking for these four men: My father, my brother, her brother and her father. All men important to her and family.

One, gone for a very long time and her memories of him must be surfacing.

One, married to her four days shy of sixty years and her love.

One, willing to come and see her if we can get him a ride. Her connection to him still present after almost eighty-eight years.

One, having a difficult time with her loss.

All four men coming up in her memories. I wish that heaven gave you five minutes with a loved one and that she could see two of them, knowing they are looking out for her from up above.

As I was driving home, I thought of a project I could do for her. I found four pictures of all off them and I will get a frame and put them in there. That way, when she asks about them, I will let her know they are right here, right beside her. I hope this gives her comfort.

As I left today, she said, “You drive safe!” Once a mother, always a mother.

Jodi

Day  #127 of hospice care…

The Bed

wpid-img_20140905_191738.jpgIt’s been a while since I have been able to write or even have wanted to write. There are things that happen with Mom’s care that I feel are appropriate to write about or not. Many things I stay private about and other things that occur, seem to just flow into a story. This story is one that I have chosen to share but I needed to figure out how to tell it without it seeming contrived.

Over the last few weeks, Mom has had really good days and days that I really wish would move on into the next day. It’s Christmas time, her favorite time of year and I wonder if that is the cause of her worry and concern. On my visits, she has been asking the same questions, over and over again and my answers stay the same.

*Has Ross been here? Have I missed him?

*I’m worried about Bud, have you seen him?

*You know I need to get back to Howard Lake. I’m late.

I answer that Ross (her son) is just fine, please don’t worry. Bud (her brother) is also fine, I can call him and see if he can come over to see you. I let her know that I can take her to Howard Lake when it gets warmer, but it is currently too cold out. We have talked about her questions fifty times in the last weeks.

This week, I brought her to her room and tucked her in for a nap. She was tired, anxious and I felt I was not helping her very much with her concerns. When I put her blanket over her, she asked if I would lie with her. I have been doing that lately since it seems to calm her. She moves over a little and I crawl in. I can hear her relax and she always grabs my hand. I’m left listening to the building noise and her falling asleep. I can see her Christmas cards on the wall and so grateful for the people who sent them. I can hear alarms going off in the distance and see one of the men, Melvin pop in and ask if I’ve seen his daughter. I can see the birdhouse outside her window and I know the birds wonder where I’ve been. I wonder if Mom and I will break her bed with our weight. It has come full circle.

Earlier in the morning, Emme, my six year old, did the same thing. She had a bad dream and wanted me to crawl in with her. She is also nervous, scared and wanting to be close to me. I end up letting her crawl into our bigger bed. How strange that this happens on the same day. Eighty-two years separate the two of them and both of them needing my comfort. This is what a “sandwich generation” is all about. My children and my mother.

It seems like yesterday that I crawled in with my own Mom. I remember their bedroom so vividly. The gold comforter sprawling over their twin beds pushed together. I can still smell the whiff of Charlie perfume, mingled with my Dad’s outfits and his smoke smell. I can still see the willow tree outside and it would reach my parents window with its limbs, making the softest noise. Enough to think there was someone outside and me being scared all over again. I see my Mom pulling back the covers and me cuddling with her warm body. To a young girl, that was heaven. It didn’t happen often, but enough for me to remember this wonderful memory.

Now, I’m in her bed doing the same thing. I felt a little strange a first but I recognize that she also needs this warmth. She has her blue puppy on one side, and me on the other. The fog of this disease just goes on and on. Pray that we don’t break her bed…

In conclusion, I was told yesterday that M. died of a stroke this week. If you remember in past blogs, she was the one who slapped my Mom and was really the only one that I told my kids to watch out for. She was so unpredictable. My heart was sad to hear this. This disease really touches so many, and who M was today is not reflective of who she was five or even ten years ago. She was a mother, daughter, sister and I am sure had many friends who loved and supported her. And she taught my Emme a lot of language that she hasn’t heard yet. RIP, M.

Jodi

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