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 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 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 Blue Dog

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

*How do you become a Grandma?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*He took a badly needed nap this afternoon

*He wrestled with her, along with her dad.

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

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

Suggestions are welcome…

Jodi

The Gifts and The Signs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope the signs continue.

Jodi

The Cupcakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jodi

The Grief and The Gratitude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She was a blessing.

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

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

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

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There is that bird that came to the window.

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

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

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

Jodi

The Kiss

In the past few days, Mom has started to decline. She has been refusing medication, doesn’t want to eat and has been sick after meals. Her hospice nurse called me yesterday while I was working and we talked about adding/stopping medications and overall keeping her comfortable. I had nursing visits, along with baseball practice for the girls so I couldn’t get up there right away but they assured me she was resting peacefully.

Last Thursday morning, I had a dream about Mom. It was the kind of dream you have right when you are about to get up for the day. In the dream, she¬†sat down by my side of the bed and kissed my left cheek a few times. I remember how vivid the dream was. She had gray hair, vs her stark white hair and she had her older glasses on. I could even see the¬†numerous¬†books on my nightstand. I felt like she was right in my room and I woke myself thinking…how did she get in here? I told Steve about the dream yesterday and it being so real, I felt I could touch her.

Today, we have opening baseball for the girls and we are trying to figure out our schedules and my priority is to see Mom. Emme, my six year old, has a gold heart on her dresser and I asked her if I could have it.

No.

I told her I was going to give it to Grandma today when I sat with her. Since I was giving it to Grandma, she was fine with that. “Grandma can have it!” So I gave Mom¬†the gold heart and¬†it sits by her bed.

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I am so happy that in the past month she got to see my brother¬†Ross, went for a car ride, felt the wind on her face, got a quick glimmer of “home” and celebrated her 89th birthday. I have enjoyed every minute that I have spent with her and I know my Dad is waiting. I am also grateful for the staff that take care of her with such love.

Before I left, we were sitting in the warm sunshine outside the patio. We could hear the birds sing, see the plants sprouting and could smell the fresh air of Spring. She is also asking for her Momma and I tell her what a good Mom she has been. She looked at me with one eye open and I know she heard me. What a good Momma, indeed.

Jodi

Day #9 of her second round of hospice.

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