The Third Year ❤️

The third year…1,095 days to be honest.

I really debated all week if I was going to write about it. Like last year, I don’t want people to think that I think about her all the time and I still consciously try not to talk about her. But she continues to dwell in my heart.

This is the time of year that is hard for me. It is her birthday, anniversary of her death and Mother’s Day all within a few weeks. Its hard not to think about her and miss her.

Summing up the third year has been a mix of emotions…

Like we have done the last few years, my brother and I gave away Dairy Queen Blizzards last week on what would have been her 92nd birthday. The first 100 people would get her favorite treat in honor of my mom, though they have discontinued the Snicker’s Blizzard which was her favorite. We even had a donation bucket and including on-line donations, raised over $500 for the Alzheimer’s Association. As I have mentioned before, she loved her hometown Dairy Queen. A place she knew when she would get turned around walking. It was centrally located to her walking and when her confusion took over, she knew where she was. Thank you to Carrie and staff for helping plan the event.

I have finished the manuscript of our memoir. It has been a labor or love. And I do mean labor. At times, I am very proud of it. There were many parts that were tricky to write about. I don’t want to embarrass her or write about something she would not want me to describe. I’ve added, taken out, changed things and tried to honor our time spent for those long eight years after my dad died. At times, I am terrified that people will be upset about decisions I made or that I have exploited her in some way. She knew that I started to write about her when we entered memory care and she felt she was a terrible topic. I beg to disagree. If I have helped one person understand the loss of a mother or anyone to this horrible disease, it will be worth the hundreds and hundreds of hours I have spent describing our journey. It will now go to the copy editor and book designer. I’m excited about the whole process. Many of you know of my love of books and the whole thought of putting this whole thing together is mind-boggling for me. I am hoping for a November release in honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

Grief continues but has lessened.

Next Thursday, I am having minor surgery. I was in the ER a few weeks ago and I have a mass on my left ovary which is large. A lab also came up high for ovarian cancer but the doctor is very optimistic, as am I. They will be taking the mass, ovary, and two Fallopian tubes which I obviously have no use for any more. When I was in last week for my pre-op, we discussed my mom a little. I don’t have a health history due to my adoption and he was intrigued of why my mom could not have children. He confirmed that if the same thing happened maybe twenty-five years ago, she would have been able to have children. I love that he spent the time with me discussing her history. Those are the moments I wish she was here. Not only to hold me hand but to tell me everything will be ok and to have faith. She had enough faith to go around.

I continue to miss her voice.

Parenting is hard and 90% of the time I feel a failure. Truth. On a particularly bad day with my teenager, she stated I have been angry since my mom died. “You have lost your smile!” I don’t feel she is completely accurate but at times, I have lost my smile. I think when you take care of loved one for that long, go through the highs and lows of a devastating disease, and then they are gone, its hard to get that smile back. The worry. The insecurity. The loss. The grief.  The sadness. No one to share certain things with.

I continue to miss just being her daughter.

I miss her calling my name or calling me on the phone.

I miss being able to ask her a cooking question.

I miss her hugs.

I miss the time that we spent reading together or watching the birds.

I miss her stating, “Let go and let God”.

High up, above the clouds, I  hope that she is happy with my dad, drinking coffee, reading, working on her tan in a big beautiful garden and humming a song. I hope she is looking down and me and she would remind me to smile. I hope that she is also happy with the story I have told about a mother, a daughter and the love that kept them together.

Happy Mother’s Day next week to all of you with your own mama’s. And to all of you who have lost your own Mom’s over the past year, remember to find your smile.

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 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

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I think we should honor our mother’s every day, and not just one day picked out of the year. In my card to Mom, I gave her some reasons of why I love her.

1. She could make you fall in love with rhubarb. Really.  Jam, torte, sauce, pie, bars and bread. Her love of rhubarb and baking with it was well known. I almost called this blog The Rhubarb Queen.

2. She would send me stamps all through college. I know what her thinking was behind that. Pay bills and send letters to mom. I was onto her but boy did I love getting those stamps in the mail. Something I will carry on with my girls.

3. She taught me life is hard work. And she has a bad back to show it. She never sat still long unless she was reading. I love that about her.

4. She stressed the importance of reading. I remember her telling me that when you don’t know what to do or if you are sad, get a good book. I can’t tell you the amount of time I spent with her on their big bed, both of us reading a book. If I could capture that moment in time, I would hang it on my wall.

5. Marriage is hard, but stick with it. No marriage is perfect but they found their way to sixty years. She deserves a medal. Well, maybe a statue.

6. She taught me clothes are best hung on the line. During the summer, we rarely used the dryer and there is no smell on earth like sheets taken off the line.

7. You are never too old to try something. Mom’s favorite game was scrabble. She took the game VERY seriously. Ask my family. A few months ago, I showed her Word With Friends on my iPad. It took her a few times, but she got the concept and could think of some words to play. WWF players, you may be playing my mom.

8. Keep your friends close. Mom has been very lucky. She has wonderful friends that still look out for her and I know she can feel that. Friends are a blessing and she has been truly blessed.

9. She could spend the whole day ironing and tried to impress the fact that crisp shirts, pants and sheets look sharp. I am still working on this and I know she should be shaking her head right now.

10. Try your best to be a good mom. In the past she talked about some issues she felt she didn’t do the best at. Trivial, minor things that I would hardly blink an eye at, but to her they meant something. Every day I also try. Some days I knock it out of the park, other days, epic fail. She was long ago forgiven. I hope I turn out as well as Mom.   

Simply, the best. To my friends who have lost mother’s, I am thinking of you. I hope the rest of you have a beautiful day.