The Ravioli

Happy New Year to my Friends and Readers! One of the questions I get asked about frequently in book clubs or events is if I still continue to write. I really have not had the time with my nursing job, especially the last two years. And that is how long it has been since I have shared a story. I’ve missed writing. I want to share with you a story about D.

Years ago, I took care of his wife. He was very devoted to her, although not the easiest to deal with. I quickly picked up on the fact that he likes things a certain way and you need to make things his idea for it to work. At times, he would frustrate me and on one occasion, I lost my cool with him. I remember sitting in my car wondering if they were better served with another nurse. Which sometimes happens.

He reminded me so much of my dad. Both WW II vets (Navy), both engineers, both determined and like to be right. Both very devoted to their spouses and both born in the same year. A few months ago, I brought my dad’s Navy book that my Grandmother Hazel had documented in, following all of my dad’s ship destinations. He quietly paged through it and I could tell it brought back so many memories for him. We had wondered if they had been in the same ship, but he was stationed on the USS San Fransisco and my dad USS Cottle, the year 1944. He is of a brave generation, that only a few remain.

After D’s wife passed away, I knew I would miss him. Its no secret in our office that I love the hard to deal with curmudgeons. And that is D.

Last year, he called and asked if we would take take care of him due to issues. Again, I return to his home and this time I get to take care of him. I’m secretly thrilled since he has grown on me.

So, over the past year we have formed a bond. I call him when I’m coming over, knowing he is pacing until I get there. I read his long notes he writes to me as we sit in his office, with a picture of his battle ship hanging on his wall. The notes have become harder to read and it details his decline that is hard for me to watch. We weigh him when I’m there and laugh when he is correct on the number he is at. He shows me all the awards he has received on the wall, work and military related.

It is a true story that I almost killed him a few months ago. His weight is going down and I have been baking for him. That day I baked him banana bread, warm out of the oven. I put lots of butter on it and gave him a piece before our “meeting” and I was reviewing the staff’s notes when I heard a gurgle. I looked over at him sitting on the couch and he had a look of panic. I could tell he was choking and I got up and he couldn’t speak and was turning blue. I didn’t even hesitate, I went behind him and shoved him forward, all 6’2 of him. The bread flew out and I’m pretty sure my heart rate was over 200.

I had to let his family know and their comment was, “He would have died happy!” We are now to the point where he can tease me about it, I still continue to bring him food but now it is soup.

On my visit last week, he made a comment that he wanted to make me lunch. I don’t typically eat lunch and I don’t make it a habit with my client’s but I could tell this meant a lot to him. Our visit takes a long time, he runs me through the mill with his handwritten questions he can’t read. He’s in the kitchen for a long time and he returns to the dining table with ravioli and a glass of milk. I can tell his is so happy sitting with me, asking me repeatedly if I maybe want his Boost instead of the milk. I smile at him.

It’s more than the ravioli.

I’m sure many of you know that this has been a hard two years. You are either the hero or the enemy to many families. They are upset because you’re vaccinated or you’re not. One family wants you to wear a mask, one family insists you don’t. Two think I have a tracker in me. And the questions and loneliness families feel. Its difficult to explain it, unless you are knee deep in it. Sometimes I come home and wonder if I can continue to do this.

And then a soon to be 99 year old makes me ravioli. And packs me a Snicker’s bar and two cookies for my way home. And sends me a Christmas card to my office and his name is taped to the card because his daughter said he wanted to practice his handwriting and that it would look ok on my card. Just like my mom did towards the end.

This is the best part of my job. Getting to take care of D.

Wishing you love and good health in 2022. As always, thank you for reading The Lemon Bar Queen.

Jodi

The Snowman

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you! Friends, family and blog readers, thank you for reading and sending me messages this year. I know that I don’t write as often any more, since the blog was about my mom and I but every once in a while I think of something that is important to me or that you may relate to in some small way. This has been on my mind this week.

This is a hard time of year for people.

I know that there are articles about grief, sadness and loneliness this time of year and I won’t bore you or try to replicate them. I just know and feel how hard it is for people around the holidays.

To the woman in the elevator this week at the assisted living building I was visiting. I understand.  It was just she and I in the elevator and I could tell she was sad. Really sad. She looked so lonely and broken. I was trying to think of something to say to her as we slowly made our way to the 7th floor. Her face full of wrinkles and the saddest eyes. I finally ended up saying, “You look nice today.” She looked at me and nodded. Maybe she had recently lost her husband or maybe her children could not come for the holiday. Maybe she was in pain. I kept thinking about her during my day.

To the family of the people we have lost over the past month. I understand.  It’s never easy to lose someone you love. Ever.  But it is especially hard over the holidays. Your family is not the same and it is supposed to be a joyous time. Waves of grief fall over your heart. I have lost young and old over the past month. Cancer, the main thief, stealing the ones we love.

Many of you read The Piano Player that I wrote last December. Sadly he passed away last month and I miss his sweet smile, his laughter and gentle teasing. The hard part of the job is not to become attached. There are important things to remember called boundaries. He was one of my favorite visits and he is missed. I think people come into your life for certain reasons. He and I shared a few family issues that I didn’t share with him but I watched him handle his issues with grace and strength. There’s my lesson. Grace and strength.

To the husband of the wife I take care of who hasn’t been my easiest family member. I now understand. When I first met the husband in a rehab center, I could immediately tell he was in control of his wife’s situation. He was rude to his daughters and frankly, wasn’t listening to anyone that was trying to help him. When we got his wife home, we had a rocky start. He continued to be rude, condescending, demanding and highly opinionated. I had to deep breathe with him on all of my visits. I really needed to understand him and realize where he was coming from. I will admit that I lost my cool with him on one occasion. And I’m not proud of that.

Over the last few months I have realized that if I suggest things to him and make it seem that it is his idea, things work out much better. I let him talk and listen and I try to understand where he is coming from. Normally it is from a place of love and concern for his wife. I just know that he likes to be right and does not like to be challenged. I have worked around this since my dad was the same way. I finally look forward to my visits with him and he isn’t even my client/patient. My heartbeat does not accelerate as much as it did before when I would have to see him.

Last Friday we had a nice chat together. He brought up my comment I had made to him last month about the fact that I am adopted. He had asked what my nationality was I told him proudly that I had just found out, via a DNA test. He asked if he could ask a few questions and I was fine with what he was asking. Normally I would not answer those private questions to a stranger but I felt alright with where he was going with it.

He shared that he too was adopted. His father had up and left him when he was a baby. It was late 1920’s and he never knew why he left. He knew that he was a successful attorney in St. Paul and that his mother remarried and the new husband adopted him as his own. He never ever saw his father again but had heard that he had been hit by a train and died. Never once did they ever connect. As he was telling me this story, his daughter was standing on the stairs just listening to him tell me this story. She called me afterwards and said that he only told them that story once and that he doesn’t talk about it. She was surprised he told me the details. That story also stayed with me. We are surprisingly connected.

When I was about to leave he gave me a bag with a gift in it. We had just talked about the fact that he doesn’t think he will be around this time next year. He didn’t really want to put up his old tree but he did for his wife. He’s much more frail and I know that he thinks about his mortality and worries about his wife. Somewhat like my father thought about my mom before he died.

I told him I had to get going since I was already running behind. He waved me goodbye and told me, “Merry Christmas! See you next Friday!” I got in my car and opened it up, hardly believing he gave me a gift. After our many months of “debate”. Here is what he gave me:

 

 

 

I am hardly the world’s greatest nurse but you know what? I’m going to keep it in a special spot and when I’m feeling like I am the worlds worst nurse I will turn it on and see the colors flashing.

I understand all of the feelings this month, more than you know. The fragility of this season. The high and lows, the great expectations, the missing of loved ones, the pressure, the sadness, the grief and the longing. It’s alright to feel that way. Really.

Know that I am wishing  you the best holiday possible.

Jodi 🎄 (The World’s Greatest Nurse)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Year

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

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

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

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

Grief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the key to her being so organized?

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

How did she deal with mean or unkind people?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kahlil Gibran

 

Jodi ❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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 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