The Mother

Adoption Picture 2

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Wishing you a day of love, good food, maybe a quiet moment and many blessing bestowed on you. It is one of the hardest jobs, being a mom but it is something that I am the most proudest of. There is nothing like hearing your child call you mom for the first time.

I was going through Mom’s pictures today and I found this sweet one. It is taken two months after I was adopted. It was a happy moment for both my Mom and Dad, maybe not so much for my brother. I love the look on her face, an amazing amount of joy showing on her face.

I saw Mom yesterday and we are going through a new stage, she is irritable and crabby with the staff. I can’t tell if she doesn’t feel good yet or that she is just mad at everyone. I tell her that I will get her ready for bed and I want to spend a quiet moment with her. When she used to stay with me, it was one of my favorite things to do with the girls, getting Grandma ready for bed.

Her new phrase is “I just want to go to bed.” Over and over and over. Trying to distract her, I ask her what she wants for Mother’s Day. Without hesitation, she states, “I want my mother.” I am surprised by this and I ask her if she remembers what her mother’s name is. “Helena Margretha Gertrude Anderson.” Wow, she remembered all four names, though I’m not 100% sure they are in the right order. I tell her that she is not here and that she was gone long before I was born. She seemed sad. “Really?” I say yes but I have heard that she was a wonderful mother. That seemed to calm her. It was a great moment.

As you can imagine, Mom was a good mother. She taught me many things that hopefully have shaped me as a mother. She showed me how important it was to be kind to someone and to help if you were able. She showed me how to get quiet by picking up a good book. She was always helping someone by baking or making some homemade bread. I will never be the baker that she was, but I’m ok with that. She was a referee, healer, constant taxi driver, peacemaker, lawyer and chef of our family. She is deeply loved.

On this Mother’s Day, call your mom, make amends if you need to and remember the good memories you’ve had with her. Motherhood is highs and lows at times, but its a club we are all in, doing the very best we can.
Here is to a great day tomorrow.

Jodi

The Anger

First of all, thank you for all of you who asked about Mom. Two weeks ago, we had to send her into the ER with pneumonia and a bladder infection. Your kindness via calls, emails, letters and wine and cake delivery (for me!) were very appreciated. She was lucky, in a way, to have her birthday, Easter and her hospital stay be in the last two weeks and she received such lovely cards. We read them together and she is very lucky to have such sweet people in her life. Simply thank you seems not enough, but you know how I feel.

As you can imagine, the hospital stay was not ideal for her. It is a strange place, strange people, she doesn’t know why she is there and they are doing things to her that they should not be doing. I think twice she told me, “Why are you allowing them to kill me!”. This is the reason why I do not like to send a confused patient into the ER, if I can at all help it. Sometimes they are alone, family can’t be with them for whatever reason and it just doesn’t go well. I was glad that I could be there and try to help the staff. I hope we don’t have to do that again soon.

The Thursday that we were there, made me think of something that I have been meaning to write about for so long. Its been in the back of my head, waiting for a time to put it down and for me to articulate it in the best way. It is the way we treat our elderly. Simply, we need to do better. Not all of us, mind you. Just some of us who feel the need to take advantage, steal or mistreat them.

What happened to mom is not as bad as what I have stated but it bears to be said. I was there most of the day Thursday and a lunch tray did not arrive for her. I asked the nurse and she stated that we needed to order it. My first thought was, how in the world could my mom order her tray being so ill. I ordered it for her and she only took one bite. I spent the rest of the day trying to get her to eat, with no luck and I left to go home for awhile. I had debated going back since I didn’t get home until 2 AM but Emme wanted to go back to the hospital and I thought Emme could get her to eat.

We arrived at 7:30 PM and mom was in a fetal position in her bed, a tray sitting on a table by her door. The dinner was not opened and it was ice cold. I went to go sit her up and her IV had infiltrated and her hand was 3x the size it should be. As you can imagine, I was less than happy with this issue. I got a nurse, who was the charge nurse and she first stated this was not her patient. I told her about what I found and someone needed to take care of her ASAP. Immediately, we have four nurses in her room and they want to cut off her wedding band, which is sixty eight years old. I don’t want them to do this and I tell them that I will massage her hand to see if some of the fluid will go down. I am less than pleased, especially about not being fed and knowing that no one had checked on her for some time.

I called the social worker in the morning and asked that she be moved back to her memory care unit and hoping she would do better in a place that she was more familiar with. I did tell her about Thursday and that I was unhappy with her care. She understood and would let someone know. For a week, the “complaint manager” and I played phone tag and finally I got to speak to her and tell her my concerns. Imagine that you came to the hospital to see your mother and finding her hand totally swollen and that no one fed her. I gave her some examples of how to change it for an elderly, confused patient knowing they can NOT order food on their own. Her response was to use my mom as a “case study”. Do you really need a case study of how to take better care of someone? Can you imagine if I would not have gone up there to see her? I did not tell her I was a nurse until the end of the conversation.

I write about this because I have a strong burning anger of how we treat our elderly. I think this was mild compared to what I have seen in the last six months as a nurse and it sets me on fire.

Taking advantage of the elderly must stop. I have been working on a case with a detective to catch a private caregiver that took financial advantage of a woman. I asked her how we can stop this and she stated that she sees forty case a week of elder abuse. 40 cases. That is forty cases a week she actively works on. How can this be? She and I agree that people find an “in” and they take advantage.

I have witnessed theft, getting a vulnerable adult to sign a check, phone call scams and verbal abuse. I am a mandated reporter and I make the reports and they come back that they will not proceed. You almost need to impair/injure someone for it to be looked at. A police officer I also spoke to months ago, stated it is not worth it to prosecute because it is not considered a felony. I don’t get it. How do you measure worth?

I have thought about this a lot. You know how we can stop this?

Be nosey and involved: Sure scams can happen to anyone but ask and listen when your elderly loved one speaks. I remember after my dad died, a long term care company stopped by my mom’s house. Her confusion was just starting and she told me some strange man stopped by to visit with her. She stated she signed something but she had his number. I called the company, which I won’t name and had a nice conversation with the manger about the fact that you can’t go door to door and sell that time of insurance. I remember being so angry with them. They cancelled the policy and I wrote a letter to the president.

Red flags: The big thing that is happening with seniors is scams. Guess what! You won a car but you will need to pay for the taxes on the car, which amounts to $5,000. Guess what! You have won $100,000 but we will need $2,000 as a down payment. I’m glad for some of my relationships with my clients. One client I’ve had for ten years, was scammed on selling her timeshare. If your loved one comes to you with these stories, know that they are not true. I hate hearing these stories because they truly believe that they have won the money. I have a close family friend who was my mentor in nursing school get milked out of an amount that would surprise you. He truly believed he would get his money back and the people that call are so sneaky. They say they will arrive with the car or money and never arrive and give you a story that seems plausible. It never is.

I could go on for a long time but I will stop, I think you have gotten my point. Imagine your mother, father, favorite uncle or aunt. Your older neighbor or your family friend. We must do better to look after them and simply care.

Jodi

 

 

 

The Bag of Tricks

Birds

Years ago, when I was a nursing assistant at North Ridge, I would walk a long hallway and go past a large structure filled with birds in it. There watching quietly, would be many residents watching the birds. On any given day they would be sitting there, ignoring people walking by to where they needed to go, and enjoy the peace of the birds. I used to think that it was sad, in a way that their big enjoyment of the day was watching the birds fly around.

Fast forward twenty years and I am now sitting here watching the birds with Mom. Today, it is a quiet day filled with busy people and residents walking around. There is an alcove where Mom and I sit in large wooden chairs, music quietly playing and the birds flying around. She is ignoring my questions and we sit here drinking coffee and I’m watching her as she watches the birds.

In all honesty, I find my mind wander a million miles away. I should be folding clothes, organizing our family calendar, paying bills and maybe getting a few chapters in with my new book. The girls are back in school after a long break and I haven’t been to see mom as often as I would like. Today, its cold out and I feel the need to go. A girlfriend asked me the other day, “Your Mom won’t know that you haven’t been there in a while, she forgets”. I know she is just being honest with me and I understand, but truthfully, I know if I haven’t been there. My heart knows.

As I sit here watching her, I think of how far we have come. Moving her closer to me, making all of her life choices and the hardness of it all. I was at hockey the other day and I was watching all the grandparents come and watch their young players; clapping and cheering them on. It’s so different for me. I wish she and my dad were here and able to watch the girls in their activities. Cheering them on and being proud of them. My dad would have loved to see Sophia skate.

As we watch the birds, I think of a few days ago when I got the call from her memory care unit that she was refusing to get up. She was dressed but simply wanted to stay in bed. I got to leave work a little early and I stopped by Lunds and got her some peach pie and some bananas. I arrived in her room and showed her what I purchased. She was less than interested and was irritable with me. Something was different about today and I thought of my nursing bag of tricks to get her up. Coffee. Pie. Matilda. Nothing worked and I was ok with her staying in bed. She’s soon to be 88, she’s earned her right to stay in bed. But what worked was those crazy birds. “Lets go and see the birds!”. She gave me a look, and said, “Alright, let’s go!”.

All of her busy life, her baking, gardening, walking every day, her church, her kids, her friends…this is what it comes down to is the bright, colorful, noisy, crazy birds. They leave her content. I’m actually content, the need to do everything today has passed for a moment and I’m spending time with her. I know the days with her are numbered and its like a large clock ticking away. If every day I spend with her is watching the birds, that is alright. Maybe in a way, this is a way for me to slow down too and relax. I’m adding that to my bag of tricks.

Here is to a wonderful start to 2014…Cheers!

Jodi

The Girl

November was a really long month for Mom and I. Not that anything really happened or we ran into a problem. I should maybe state that it was really long for me.

This month alone I worked on:

*Getting her a handicap sticker. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it before for our car rides. You can thank our wonderful doctor.  

*I have been (procrastinating) working on her Medicaid paperwork and to say it has been mind-boggling, is an understatement.

*Every six months I have to prove to Social Security that her SS money is going to her care. I have to fill our another form with documented proof.

*I spent two hours with a Humana rep to pick another plan for her because her original plan went away. I will never get those two hours back again.       

*The Humana rep stated that she should have been taking advantage of a health and wellness plan were she gets free pads. Huh? He also stated that her dentist appointment in February, should have been covered. Again, forms to fill out and hoping she gets $550 back.

*I spent two hours navigating the Humana site and signing her up for free supplies. Two hours.     

*Bills, Christmas cards, ordering pads, keeping up with her meds and concerns that I have overall.

I’m only sharing this information with you to show what it is like to take care of some you love with Alzheimer’s.  There are days that I worry that I have no idea what I am doing. As hard as I try, I worry about making a mistake for her. What if I don’t pick the right plan? Did I not understand that she would get free stuff every month? Why do I want to fall asleep watching this 45 minute video that Humana mandates that I watch? Please understand that I am not complaining. I would do this for her a million times over. At times, it just plain hard. Very hard.

November 7th was my birthday and it was always a special day for my parents. When I was younger and we lived on the farm, we had grand parties and invited all of our neighbors. She never missed calling me on my birthday or coming to see me. I think she loved the day more than I did.

On that day, I went to pick up some cupcakes for the staff and to have coffee with Mom. She was in the entry way and she saw me through the door and waved. She saw my cupcakes and asked why I brought them. I did something that I rarely do with a person with memory loss. I asked her a question. “Mom, what is special about November 7th?” We were walking down the hallway and I can tell she is confused. “Is it an important day for me?” I tell her its someone’s birthday. Long pause. “I wish I could tell you”.

She doesn’t remember.

I know in my logical brain that I should not be sad. She has memory loss. I think she forgot last year. I know. I know. But for some reason, this year I was sad. November 7th did not ring a bell for her. I feel guilty because I am sad and guilty because I had hope she would remember.

We get to her room and have coffee and the cupcake. I am lying on her bed and I catch her staring at me. I sometimes wonder if she really knows who I am. I can imagine in her brain, that I am “That girl”. That girl that brings her snicker bars and banana’s, makes her sign things she doesn’t know what she is signing, tells her that this is her home now and that I am her daughter. I am “that girl” that walks with her, brings her grandchildren to see her and we watch the birds together. I am not 100% sure she really knows its me, Jodi and not “that girl”.

I came to see her a few days ago and I was talking to Mickey, the activity aide. She and I used to work together twenty years ago. My Mom, out of the blue, introduced me to Mickey and called me Jodi. Wow. For that moment, I wasn’t “that girl”, I was her daughter Jodi. I remember walking out of the building smiling.

The month has had ups and downs. There are some days that I can’t make it over there because I’m tired. Really tired. I know she is being taken care of well, but there is nothing like being there and checking on her. I call her at night and I can tell again when I am “that girl”. Her voice distant and she wants to get off the phone.

I miss the days when I was Jodi to her. Here is to a better December….

 

 

The Granddaughter

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Yesterday, I got to capture the sweetest moment with my Mom and Sophia, my soon to be ten year old. If it has been a day that I haven’t visited her, I try to make it a habit of calling her before she goes to bed. It is a way that I connect with her and it usually gives me a laugh before bedtime. Her explanations of her day vary from suggestions of me taking her for lunch, bringing her more Snicker’s or she has no idea what she has done today. It is a short conversation, but I enjoy it.

Sophia came in from outside and asked me if she could call Grandma tonight. I said ok, but to let her know who you are right away so she doesn’t hang up. She dialed the phone and went in her bedroom. I could hear her from the kitchen:

“Hi Grandma, it’s Sophia. How are you?” Sophia proceeds to tell her about school, homework, biking to a friends house and her hockey practice. She asked what she had for dinner, is she in her jammies and did she watch Wheel of Fortune.  Just her tone in how she spoke to Mom, made my heart ache. I wish I could have heard the other end of the conversation and wondering how my Mom answered her. It is, by far, the longest my Mom has stayed on the phone. It might have been Sophia’s gentle way, her not getting frustrated with her and just agreeing with my Mom. When their conversation was over, Sophia handed me the phone, like it was no big deal. The first thing my Mom said to me was “I really enjoyed that”. A few minutes later, I tracked Sophia down and told her how that made Grandma feel. Her response, “It was nothing”. But it was really something…

When I found out I was pregnant with Sophia, my parents were one step beyond thrilled. I think they might have been more excited than we were. My parents were 77 at the time and had waited so long to be grandparents. The minute I told them, I know my Mom started to make quilts. I could supply a small nation with the amount of blankets/quilts she made for this baby. They waited patiently for nine months. I loved the attention and my mom just thought of ways to love this baby.

When my water broke at 12 midnight, we waited until the morning to tell them we were on our way to the hospital. They packed a bag and left Starbuck to drive two hours to Plymouth. I am sure my Dad sped the whole way. Little did we all realize that Sophia had other ideas and she wasn’t born until the following day at 3 AM. My Mom and Dad stayed the whole time at the hospital and waited for their first grandchild to be born. When Steve finally came out to the waiting room, he said, “Oh boy, she’s finally here”. Of course my Dad heard boy first and was thrilled. I love that Steve had to tell him again, “It’s a GIRL!” And so our love affair began with her.

If you look in my Mom’s journals starting in 2003, it is mainly about Sophia. I love how she wrote about her, planned trips to come see her and just her genuine love for her. She was mighty spoiled, I will admit. They had a special kind of relationship and I was so glad that they had that for almost five years, until Emme came along and there were two to love. And as you can imagine, Emme was just as loved. Both of the girls middle names are named after Mom.

Sophia has spent ten years with Mom and has watched her memory fade. She is patient with her, even when she forgot about her last winter, when I know that it hurt her feelings. I explained to Sophia, that she was not able to see her as much due to hockey and school. I think she went a few months without seeing her. I reminded her that she would always be in Grandma’s heart and that even if she couldn’t get her name right, they had a close connection that would never go away. That seemed to help her understand such a crazy disease, that even I don’t understand.

I reminded Sophia of all the trips we have taken with Grandma. For years, after my Dad died, Sophia, Mom and I traveled to some fun places. We spent time in Hayward, Bayfield, Madeline Island, Galena, IL, Door County, WI and last year we took a southern trip/adventure to Wabasha, Red Wing and Winona. The last trip was harder, so we have traveled on the Mississippi River and we have gone for many car rides. I am sad that our trips are over, we just need to make different memories.

To say I am proud of Sophia is an understatement. She has spent ten years with Mom and has gone through just as many high and lows. I hope that she remembers all of this and keeps her heart open and can understand that all of us are not perfect. To her, it’s no big deal, but to us, we know it is so much more.

Sophia and I are walking again this year for The Alzheimer’s Memory Walk. This is our seventh year walking and last year our team raised $4,000.00 for research and respite care. If you would like to donate, please send me an email and I can send you a link. Even the smallest contribution makes a difference.

 

The Visitor

Years ago, when I was CNA, I worked in the Alzheimer Unit for four years. It was a place that I loved and I learned about life and nursing. You had to become good at bribes, distraction, negotiation, break downs, agitation, sadness and grief. Every day was different and you learned how to use all of those pretty quickly. The unit also taught me about love, family, hope and just the effort families would go through visiting their loved ones. I remember one woman who would come and visit her husband every single day, without fail. Even with his end stage dementia, she could still bring a smile to his face.

My favorite residents were the ones that did not have any family come and visit them. Even though it has been almost twenty years ago, I can still picture them and their names. Ethel, who always had perfect hair and a slight drool,  would ask me if I had seen her mother today. John, who had a stroke and would only allow me to get him dressed and would never seem to hit me, like the other staff. If I didn’t have him on my schedule, I would trade him for someone else.  He couldn’t communicate, but every time he would see me,  he would start to cry. I adored him and no one could understand. There was Helene, who was very aggressive and hit me in the head so hard one day,  I saw my very first stars. We became friends after that and when she was having a very bad day, we would talk about her family and she would slowly start to calm down.

I miss those days of 1:1 care. I believe those four years were the best thing that could have happened to me and made me want to continue my education with nursing.  It has helped me understand this disease and prepared me for my journey with Mom.

When you have a loved one that  is battling some kind of disease, whether it be AD, Parkinson’s, Cancer, Stroke…the list can go on. I know that it can be hard to visit them. The unknown is a very powerful thing. Your friend or loved one may look different, act strangely, move in a way you are not used to or may forget who you are. You need to prepare yourself for that.

My brother has not visited my Mom for a while. I am not going to fault him for that. I know that when you get a diagnosis of a disease, fear sometimes can overtake you. It can be very difficult to watch your loved one change. I think that this has been very hard for him. I reminded him not long ago, that she is still in there. She still looks the same, but may not remember your name. She is still our beautiful, funny, coffee loving mother.

He came to see her last Saturday, a beautiful perfect day. He and his friend Heather arrived and I prepped Mom by stating his name, in case she forgot. He was very nervous. I showed him around, introduced him to the staff and her dog, Matilda. We also spent some time outside and Mom really enjoyed it.

I haven’t asked him to do much with her care, though any help is greatly appreciated. The hard part of me being a nurse is that he just lets me make the hard choices with her. His unspoken job is to call her, one expense I will keep so they can communicate on his terms.

At times, this is difficult for me. For twenty plus years, I watch families and friends not visit for whatever reason they have. I have heard all of the excuses and at times, I want to shout at them to just visit. Even if you stay for five minutes, one hour or spend the day with them, you will never know how it will touch them. For that amount of time, you have shown them that you care. Even if they don’t know who you are, I believe that they feel your love and attention. For that moment in time for them, you are in their world, you are present for them and you make them feel worthy. And that is really what it’s all about.

 

 

 

The Light

I haven’t felt like writing much lately, which is unusual. I journal ideas in my beautiful, leather bound book my sister in law, Wendy gave me for a gift. We have been very busy with vacation, baseball, Emme’s 5th birthday, my work and a few 5K races. My biggest concern is that Mom has been sick since we got back.

I first noticed it when we got back from our trip and when I was at work on Monday, her nurses were also concerned. I left work and found her lethargic, running a temp and barely able to keep her head up. She was in a wheelchair. I had never really witnessed her so ill. As a nurse, all of the symptoms were running through my mind. Stroke, too much Tramadal (pain), TIA’s, heart…you get the picture. It was very hard for me. She even refused her beloved coffee.

For some time, I have noticed Moms inner light and brightness dimming. Her bucket list of accomplishments are amazing and I won’t bore you with everything she has brought to this world. Those of you that know her, understand how much she has meant to so many.

To watch her decline and to lose that inner light is tough. I can see it in patients I take care of. They state, “I’m tired”, and I know what they mean. They battle cancer, Parkinson’s, stroke, heart issues, along with dementia. They know and I know.  Life gives us a set amount of years, what we do with that is up to us. End of life issues are tough on everyone and I am always understanding when someone says they are “ready”.

Mortality also sets in. Many of her friends have died, she’s away from her home town that she loved and she doesn’t get many visitors. My brother hasn’t seen her since November. She can’t cook, read, get the mail, drive a car, call me on the phone or even pay a bill. My light would also dim, too. 

She has lived a long life and I am mindful of that this week. Yes, we want our loved ones to live  a long and wonderful life but sometimes I’m also understanding of how tired they can get. They are ready for it to be over. Mom is tired but I believe she has accomplished everything she set out to do. She is ready, be it today, next week or a year from now.

I am also thankful for all of the staff that take such good care of Mom. Even the beautician asked about her. That means a lot. If you could add Mom to your prayers, I would be grateful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lie

Grandma's birdhouse

Over the past week, my Mom has been glued to the bird house outside her roommate’s window. She can sit in her chair, look to her right and watch all the excitement that goes on all day long. Today, there has been a lot of action.

Today, we spent an hour watching the crazy behavior of the bunnies, the birds and a very smart squirrel trying to chase one another and get at the bird feeder. This literally over took my Mom and her enjoyment was contagious. She then asked me the same question she has been asking me for one solid week. “You know I made that bird house”. Every time I’m here, as of late, she tells me about the bird house and how proud she is of it.

At first, I went along with her statement. She was matter of fact, bold and very direct. You are taught as a nurse, to go alone with a person with memory loss, unless is it an issue that their statement will hurt them. You try and reduce their anxiety and I have heard so many stories over the years. An eighty year old woman stating her mother was here with her or lately a man told me that we had just been on a cruise together. You know that their comment is untrue but if I said to the woman, “Your Mom died fifty years ago” or “You and I have never been on a cruise together”, you will add to their confusion, make them feel unworthy and add to their anxiety. Sometimes it depends on the situation, but I normally just go with the flow and listen to them.

At first, I asked the nursing staff if maybe she really did make the bird house. I didn’t want to assume that she hadn’t. She did not. Mom even told Steve on Father’s Day, that she had made this wonderful bird house. When she asked me again and I said that I had heard about it, she said, “You don’t think I made it”. It was the look she gave me. Sad, quiet and disappointed. My tone with her must have alerted her that I didn’t believe her. She looked away and was very quiet. I told her, “Mom, if you tell me that you made it, I believe you.” The lie comes out of my mouth. I was disappointed in myself that I didn’t come across better towards her and I know she must have felt that.

A few months ago, she asked me how much was her rent. In the last few years, she has not asked me one question about bills, her checkbook, rent, hair, medication expense or even how I pay for her things. She has forgotten that piece of her life. Again, I was not as truthful and I should have been. I know that if she knew what the cost was, it would upset her greatly. I kept it in the ballpark, but a few thousands less. Does she really need to know the cost? Yes, if I was being honest. Would it add to her anxiety and worry? Yes, for sure. Would I lie again so she would not worry? Sorry to say, yes.

I’m looking at the bird house and thinking to myself, I have spent the last hour watching this with Mom. My own bills to pay, girls activities to think about, work always on my mind and things I have put off. This time with her is important. Yes…she did make that bird house, just so we are clear. 😉

Laughter

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane”. -Robert Frost

This week, I choose to laugh. I think when you watch a loved one disappear on a microscopic level every day you can decide that you will be sad, fearful, overwhelmed or depressed. I am all of these at times, but the need for a laugh will awaken your senses, bring things back in perspective and get you back on track. 

This is what made me laugh in the past week:

We found my Mom’s remote for her TV. We bought a great new TV for Mom when she moved in and within ten days, she lost the remote. I have looked high and low for this remote. In a memory care unit, things disappear and I am totally understanding of this. Almost every day I have searched and checked with the nursing staff, finally giving up and just keeping her channel on WCCO, her favorite channel.  Last week, her phone rang when I was there and she used the remote (!!!) to answer. I looked at her table and both the phone and remote were there again. After five months and all that searching, it has showed up. Just like it was always there.

For months now, when I have visited, her clock has been on the floor. I keep thinking she has been messing with it and just doesn’t pick it up or she is tripping over the cord. When I called last week, she said there was a man in her room and they were talking. I could tell she wasn’t annoyed but I wasn’t sure if it bothered her so I called the front desk and they got him out. That was my first clue. When I went last week, I found him in her room again and he was attempting to take her clock. Mystery solved. He was very sweet and when I spoke to the nurses, he used to be an engineer. I think he was very interested in her clock and now I see he is in her room all the time. Now I see him holding his clock, walking down the hallway. I think Mom may have liked the company.

When I went to visit Mom last week, I met her in the beauty shop. Happy getting her hair done and very content. When I looked to Mom’s right, there was a woman sitting in the other chair and I looked closely at her. She had Mom’s sweater on. Then I looked closer and she had her sweater, pants and even her shoes on. The beauty shop assistant and I had a giggle. You know this happens in a memory care unit. It is a small event that left us all with a good laugh. She even looked like Mom.

In the scope of my Mom’s life, things will at times, make you mad but it is important for me to laugh. The staff work so hard at making sure things are correct. I will say it again and again. They have a tough job. Some are spit on, pushed, screamed at, called vulgar names and not given the respect they greatly deserve. I remember my first nursing assistant job like it was yesterday. Four years in a memory care unit. Patience and laughter are key. Kindness to the staff, goes a long way.

Today, you can choose to be angry or mad at whatever life gives you. Our lives are busy and complex but if you can laugh just a little, it may bring you some calmness and peace. Even if I can’t find the remote again. 🙂

The Catacombs

Somewhere in the catacombs of my Mom’s brain, the memory and history of me, has been tucked away. On occasion, coming out for a brief time.

One of the hardest things I have struggled with is my Mom not remembering who I am. How could she forget my face, my voice, my job as a nurse or even Sophia’s name.

I remember the first time she forgot. It is some what etched in my own brain. We were playing Bingo about six months ago and she turned to me and quietly asked me if I was “her Jodi”. I reminded her that I was and always would be her Jodi. I realize I should not have been surprised, but I was. Deeply surprised and sad.

Not long ago, I had a private conversation with Mom’s neurologist whom I adore. She is gentle, mild mannered, wicked smart and someone who does not mind my endless questions. We connect and more so, she connects with Mom.

She reminded me that Mom may not remember or recognize me at 43. She may picture me at the age of 17 or even 30. She may not remember that I have grown to be an actual adult. I am hoping she remembers me at 27, fresh out of nursing school and I’ve just met Steve, my husband. That was a good year.

On Mother’s Day this year, she sat in my big chair, in our sunroom and directly looked at me and asked me “Where is Jodi?”.  The doctor’s words of wisdom popped in my head. I told her it was me, and she nods.

I know the first time she did it, she was sad. I could feel her deflate and quiet. I am sure she was also thinking the same thought. How could I forget her?

I know in my heart, there will be a day were she will totally forget me. I am heartbroken at the thought but what you do today matters. We read mail together, play Bingo, watch old shows and go for slow walks. I know in the catacombs of white and gray matter of her brain, I will always take up space. The space, I can imagine, gets smaller every day but it will always be there. Never really going way. Just like me.