Monday, May 14, 2012

My Mother's Hands

A short tribute to my sweet mother who may not
remember me, but that's okay.  She's still a sweet
and smiling person that I call Mom.

I’ll never forget my mother’s hands.
When I was a child, her hands
            were young and smooth, and
now worn and blemished, but beautiful .
My mother’s hands were always there.

These hands have held her
babies and wrapped them
with love.

These hands tied our shoes,
buttoned our dresses,
held our hands as we crossed
the street.

These hands were cool on
our fevered brow during
those childhood illnesses.
These hands picked us up
when we fell.
They soothed the many hurts
of life.

These hands have written letters,
dialed the phone,
worked crossword puzzles,
sewn our clothes,
crocheted baby blankets,
cooked meals,
washed dishes,
brushed hair.

Then came the time
these hands held her grandchildren
when they wanted to play.

Through the journey of life,
my parents held tightly to each other’s hand,
letting go, only when separated
by death.

I know she's looking to hold her husband's hand
            once again, and soon the time will come.
            And I know I'll always remember my mother's

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Fog

The Fog
A Walk with Dementia

Hidden in the swirling mist
and hazy curtains of fog,
I cannot find her.
I call out to her, hoping for a glimpse of her.
“Where are you?”
“Can you hear me?”
Suddenly the fog clears.
Her eyes focus on me
and she smiles.
A fleeting memory floats by,
but the fog sweeps in again.
She’s lost in the rubble of her ruined brain.
The best of her is gone…
hidden in the swirling mist
and hazy curtains of fog.
I hate this disease.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Great Escape...

The nursing home called to tell me that Mom has escaped. It was right before dinner on Sunday evening. Caregivers and staff were busy rounding up residents for dinner. It is a busy time when the residents are taken down to the dining room. Mom had gone to the opposite end of the home and gone out the door.

Then she managed to open the gate and was rolling down the driveway into the street. It is not a busy

street, but still it could have been a dangerous situation for her.

For months she has worn an ankle monitor that would sound an alarm if she got close to a door. But recently it had gotten very tight and she had not tried to leave because she was really weak, so it was removed.

So no alarm, busy staff, and one runaway Granny. When they caught up with her, she told them she was going to town. She was fine.

Part of me says, yea Mom, you still have spunk, but then the other part of me says, what are you doing, Mom, and where were your caregivers. No good answers…..

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birthday Party

Friday, March 2, 2012
Mom will be 90 in a week.  I can’t believe she has lived almost 90 years.  We celebrated her birthday a week early with a small party at the nursing home.  My sisters and brother came, and we invited several people from church and hospice.  When her minister asked her how old she was, she told him that she was 25.   “I like that age,” she told him.
She was amazing.   For the first time in months she talked and laughed.  I’m not sure she knew what was going on, but she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.    She ate cake, more cake, cookies, fruit and whatever she could reach on the table.   She told my sister to quit stuffing her face and get her some punch.  I thought I would fall out of my chair.   Mom was so feisty. 
It’s funny, she would tell people, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in so long.   Where are you living now? “   Of course, everyone who attended has lived in our town forever, but who knows where Mom was in her brain.   Her conversations were somewhat appropriate, better than they’ve been in months. 
The nursing home staff and several hospice workers also stopped by for cake and punch.   The activities director brought his guitar and we all sang “happy birthday” and several other happy songs.
As we sat with Mom after the party, my brother would tell her that he was Jay.  She told him, “Well, you do resemble him.”  He pointed to my sister and told Mom “That’s Ruth.”  Mom responded, “No.” And that was that.   Then he pointed to my little sister and said “That’s Janis Carol.”  Mom said, “Maybe, but I would call her Jan.  Then he pointed to me and said “That’s Ellen.”   No comment from Mom.  She thought a minute and asked, “Where’s Elizabeth?”  That’s my first name.  Again he pointed to me and said, “That’s Elizabeth Ellen.”  She studied me and said, “No.”    
We all laughed and she did too.  It doesn’t matter if she knows exactly who we are.  I just hope she knows that we are people who love her.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Amazing woman

My mother is an amazing woman.  Since October Mom has had her ups and downs.   The last down was almost the end.   Around Christmas she started bleeding in her urinary tract...bladder..somewhere.  There was lots of blood in her catheter bag.  She was weak and didn't want to eat.

It was serious and she is DNR.  The nursing home staff and hospice staff and doctors agreed that antibiotics were needed and Mom might need blood.  They put her to bed and gave her medication to keep her comfortable.  For several days they monitored her blood pressure which was falling.  They told me that I might want to say my goodbyes.  They cried, I cried, but I understood the situation. 

I was sitting by her bed watching her sleep and remembering years past.  Her breathing was raggedy and seemed to take great effort.  Then Mom opened her eyes and weakly whispered something....I leaned in to hear her and asked "what?"   She said in a much stronger voice, "I want toast, egg....and milk."  A turning point!   Quickly I told the nurse and she said that was a good sign.  They got her toast, soup, jello and milk
and she gobbled it down.  Within a few days she was back in her wheelchair cruising the halls of the nursing home.

She doesn't know me now, but she still has a smile for me.  Especially since I take her cookies most every day.   She doesn't talk very much anymore.  She can't seem to form a thought and verbalize it.  I like to take my husband or granddaughter with me when I visit, as she seems to enjoy hearing us talk and watching our faces.   I don't know, but I hope we give her a little window into the world.

She is an amazing woman...a woman of contradictions...fragile and strong, hard-headed but has a smile for everybody.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Time and Stuff....

It's been several months since I last posted.  Lots has happened since June.  After I moved Mom into a local nursing home, everything changed.  I retired, we finished cleaning out Mom's house, sold her house, took my grandchildren on a week's trip, and I must say that I am tired and retired.

It seems that I have a shortage of time and an abundance of stuff.   I need more time to visit with Mom, time to catch up with grandkids and their activities, time to organize stuff and time for my projects.   Time, time, time....

Stuff...I have plenty of stuff.  Stuff from Mom's house, stuff from downsizing Mom from assisted living to the nursing home, stuff from selling my shop, stuff from my children even though they are grown and no longer at home...just their stuff.  So I'm organizing, eliminating and having garage sales.    Stuff, stuff, stuff....

And Mom....she has been doing pretty well in the nursing home.  She developed an infection in her pressure wound on her bottom and she was in pretty bad shape for about a week, but antibiotics kicked in rapidly and turned her around.  But the experience sent her spiraling into another place...more confusion, weakness and blank stares.  Many days she did not know me.  It's been a couple of weeks and she has climbed back to almost where she was.  There are still many blank stares, lags in the conversation, but almost always she remembers when I tell her, "See you later" she responses "Alligator".  Then I say "After while" and she responses, "Crocodile."  I know that somewhere in the near future she will forget that response, but for now I treasure this exchange.  

Moments, time and stuff...treasures that keep life interesting.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Scary stuff...

     It has been a tough two months with my mom...trying to find the right place for her to live.  She was unable to continue living in the assisted-living facility where she has lived for about 4 years because of her disease.   She would forget to dress....who wants to see an 89-year-old woman streaking??  She had become incontinent...she would try to leave the facility or enter other residents' rooms...she would slam her door all night.  She could no longer stay there.

    So we tried putting her in a private home with an individual caregiver.  The caregiver was nice and had other people come in to help her, but my mother did not respond well to her.  There was a new doctor who changed her medicines totally.  The home was small and crowded with where to go with a walker or wheelchair.  Almost immediately, Mom started acting out...peeing on the floor, smearing feces on the wall, trying to escape and setting off the fire and police alarms, staying up all night and sleeping very little during the day.   To me, these were cries for help.

    My sister and I tried to find memory care units to take Mom.  We figured that this would offer the care and training that Mom would need.   But Mom could never pass the entry assessment.  We were told that she would need a psychiatric facility.   We knew that her meds and the private home were causing the episodes.  After 2 weeks in a private home, we moved Mom to our local nursing home.  We decide that even if it wasn't perfect, she would be close to where I lived.

    As of today, Mom has been in the nursing home for over a month.  With the help of our local hospice, Mom's meds have been regulated.  She's become totally incontinent, and she's pretty much in a wheelchair all the time.  It doesn't slow her down....she's up and down the halls all the time.  She has tried to escape a couple of times, but she now wears an ankle monitor that sets off an alarm if she goes out the door.  She constantly asks for scissors to cut 'that thing' off her leg.

    She still loses her glasses and hearing aids all the time.  In fact, one hearing aid has completely disappeared.    And I found her dentures wrapped up in a paper towel in her chest of drawers.  When I handed them to her, she said that she had been looking for those.  It's quite challenging.

    She still recognizes my husband and me, but I'm not sure she knows our relationship to her.  We are friendly faces that check on her and bring her cookies.  She has always had a sweet smiles, but it seems to be disappearing a little more each day.  I think that it's part of the disease.

    But she's somewhat healthy, somewhat happy and well cared for, but like so many folks with dementia and memory impairment, she suffers the indignity of wearing diapers, being treated like and child and more.   But what can we do?  Love them and pray for medicines, cures or some kind of answers...and I wonder, will this be my future, or will this disease happen to one of my siblings?  Scary stuff......