Gravy Goes With Everything

My earliest memory of Pauline was of her standing on top of a chair, screaming as a mouse ran across the floor. This would not have been the usual, stoic, keep-it-together mom that was obvious to me later in life. I do not remember other episodes of this woman being hysterical, losing it to furry critters or when life was a bit topsy-turvey. I seldom saw my mother sweat, but perhaps growing up the youngest girl in a family ofRead more

Processing 16 Years

Over coffee on Saturday morning, a friend asked me, “How are you processing?” She was asking about moving forward from my mother’s passing in February. A number of friends have asked this question in various formats, with concern in how I’m handling a new chapter of life. It’s a question that’s contemplative in response, at times difficult and at times easy to put into words, but I will try to answer. This is more than about mom, it’s a journeyRead more

The Working Girl’s Purse

The last “mom” post was in August, when she turned 99. Not much has happened since, other than she keeps eating, drinking coffee and taking lots of naps. She’s having a hard time holding her head up as this is one of the effects of dementia – her brain is forgetting to tell her body what to do. When I visit, I never know if she is going to be alert or have a sleepy day. The most recent visitRead more

SoCS: This Door

This door I walk through every week It is her petite figure I seek Sleeping in a brown broda chair Wrinkly forehead under gray hair I say, “Hello, mom, how are you?” She says, “Who are you?” I tell her my name is Mary but she seems a bit wary It goes back and forth most days This unknowing haze Am I sister or daughter? Is it March or October? This door leads to Pauline The Energizer Bunny machine StillRead more

A Letter to Charlie

Dear Charlie, It’s hard, isn’t it? I saw you wipe away the tears today and it broke my heart. I wanted to get up from my chair and give you a hug…but I barely know you. Instead, I remained silent and still. Your wife, Margie, has aphasia and it must be so difficult when you don’t understand her. She has attempted to “talk” to me several times, usually with a smile, and I simply nod and smile back. I haveRead more

#WATWB: Snowballs and Hospice

From Wikipedia: Hospice care is a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. In Western society, the concept of hospice has been evolving in Europe since the 11th century. The modern concept of hospice includes palliative care for the incurably ill given in such institutions as hospitals or nursing homes, but also care provided toRead more

#WATWB: Fox Valley Memory Project

Fox Valley Memory Project As many of my readers know, my 97-year old mom has dementia and lives in assisted living. We have had quite the journey together with the various stages of dementia – watching the decline, keeping mom from being anxious and trying to have peaceful conversations. It is no wonder, then, that my heart lit up like a Christmas tree when I found out about the Fox Valley Memory Project in Appleton and surrounding communities. “The FoxRead more

Imperfect Relationship

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”   ~Donald Miller~ Mom likes me. Her mind has accepted me as her sister or her friend or the nice lady that comes to visit and holds her hand. When I was younger, prior to the care of mom and dad as they lost their independence, mom had a critical side. She always felt the need to tell others what was wrong, rather than whatRead more

One-Liner Wednesday: Steak

I went to visit mom this past Monday afternoon, on my birthday. Even though mom has been calling me by her sister’s name of late, I felt the need to share this day with her – to bring mom a piece of cheesecake and have one of our “usual” conversations. I had no expectations that September 26th would be of any significance in her mind or that she would remember my actual name. It didn’t matter. If mom would haveRead more

Home

“I want to go home. Can you take me there?” She wants to see her mom and dad. “Not today,” the daughter replies. So she sits in a blue cloud of sad. “No one here will take me home.” Her expectations always dashed. “Maybe next week,” the daughter consoles. But next week is never cashed. “I need to go home soon.” “I don’t remember pa’s face.” “Me neither,” the daughter fibs. She has forgotten he left the living race. “WhatRead more

She Wants to Go Home

I tell mom she’s 96 years old, but age is not registering in her mind. “I can’t be that old!” “Yes, mom,” I say to her gently, “You are 96.” She shakes her head in disbelief and responds with, “No, I’m not!” I ask mom how old she believes she is and the response, “In my seventies.” An aide attempts to confirm her age, but mom resists, and I eventually have to change the subject. This is how the conversations haveRead more

Let it Be

Mom speaks words of wisdom and she doesn’t know it. It’s wisdom for her daughter. To let it be. I’ve been reticent to write about mom for several weeks. Her dementia has been in a darker place of late, filled with anxiety and worry and sadness. It was only this past Thursday, when I paid a special visit to the woman who still clutches the ratty black sweater, that she seemed in a better place. Mom appeared more alert thanRead more