Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Invite

I thought it best that while I am still working on my blog during the time of Mom's sudden decline in health and journey to heaven, that I begin to write about my life ongoing. It's been a very difficult I am deeply aware of, and one that I am doing my very best to take, with strength, and courage, and faith. So on to Christmas, one of Mom's favorite time of the year. I love you Momma, and miss you beyond words. And below is my invitation, so sadly so, an "email" to my family to come celebrate the reason for the season~



Monday, September 8, 2008

Mom's Day To Rise

Mom did die. August 2, 2008. She left us as quietly and peacefully as she had lived with us. Marcia and I by her side early this Saturday morning. There are no words~ My heart breaks for myself, for every single person I love, and for every single person that loved my Mom. There are many. My father lost the love of his life, My children have lost their "Mere", Scottie has lost his "Mere", and my Mom is gone, forever from our sight.

While in Colorado a few nights before Scottie and I headed home I wrote a poem~it just slipped out, late one moonlit night, the 10 Mile Creek gently rambling past my window~ it must have been a time for moving.. home.. mom.. love & letting go~

Dearest Mom,

The Lord has prepared a room for you
It has no doors and has no walls. No chairs, no beds, no bars
Your room is free of all constraints, all things that hold you down
Your room is ready when you must, when your body knows it's time
I won't hold on or hold you back, but gently let you go
For in your room you will be free to skip and run and play
Free to come and go
The Lord has prepared a room for you Mom, it's ready when you go.
And she did...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Home & Heaven

It was suggested that we, my family & I, meet with "The Palliative Care Team" for help in guiding us with decisions that would direct Mom's care. They were a warm, tender, and loving group of people. However, the meeting left me frightened, terrified, longing, and lost. What could I do to fix things. Quickly. How could I make Mom better. How could I have her for just a little longer. How could we help this amazing wife, mother of five, grandmother of 11, and great-grand of one. God, we need your help, what should we do? Well, Mom had made those decisions for us. She had a Health Care Directive, and it was our duty to honor decisions she had made years ago. But did we have to? Was it right? God was in heavy demand by me, God had to make it right. God had to love me enough, hold me tight, and promise me that I had to do what Mom wanted me to do. All of a sudden I felt like I was suppose to know something that I couldn't possibly know. How can I know that Mom still wanted DNR & DNI? And if she were to live she would need a feeding tube so she wouldn't swallow food that would end up in her lungs causing recurring pneumonia, and a very slow death. How did I know this was still right? Well..I did know that Mom and Dad were forward thinking and that together they had made decisions together that would tell us exactly what to do if or when we were presented with these horrible decisions. During the meeting, I began to feel anxiety creeping in, and became fidgety. I looked for a clock on the wall to tell me what time it was. Why? Something real?, something solid?, something familiar?, I then reached down toward my purse to find my cell phone, and just as suddenly I stood up and paced in a small area, surrounded by the Palliative Care team, my father, brothers, and sister. I turned to the social worker and asked what time it was. She said it was 1:37 (pm). And, then I knew...God could not have been any more present to me at that moment, because the anxiety was out of character, the getting up, the intense discomfort was out of character for me...and the time held the answer, as 3 and 7 are my lucky numbers, are now and always have been...God knew too. I sat down calmly, and we continued on... Very difficult decisions were made in that very small room that afternoon. My dad had a knowing sense about exactly what was right and just, and what would be the very best for mom..with a trembling voice he shared his thoughts and we, his children agreed to what he felt would honor mom, would be what she would want, but would ultimately be "our" decision, a family decision, at the heart of which were mom's wishes. My mom, my hero & the strongest woman I know. Now~ I am entering a world completely unknown to me..and I'm' scared, very scared. I will Mom in God's arms, knowing that if holds her, he will hold all those she loves.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Colorado Summer & Home 2008 ~ Part Two

Our visit with our daughter Katie & her husband Ryan was wonderful. We celebrated July 4th with fireworks and Dairy Queen treats. It was a beautiful Colorado day, and warm evening. Kate and I went to the "Ball Park Market" in downtown Denver, we enjoyed pink lemonade, and wandered through the many offerings by the antique dealers, and others selling items they had created. It was such fun, and we each came away with a few treasures, of course an item we purchased for each other. Golf is always in our plans with the kids. Even though I don't golf, I am the "best" golf cart driver this side of the Mississippi :). Ravenna (the kid's gold club) didn't let us down. We had two wonderful rounds...especially me, with a perfect score!

My husband Scottie and I often comment on how we are so lucky to be able to enjoy our children like we do. It's easy, comfortable, and we all relish in precious moments spent together.

And off the the mountains we go~ Frisco was waiting for us.

Mom continued to improve at home. She told my sister Marcia that she was very worried about going home because she was afraid she would fall again. Mom's physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and PCA Pam, came in and out, providing services that would all lend to as close to whole health as Mom could come. I was in moment by moment was hard to be so far away..even with the positive outcome we all hoped for!

Summit County kept us very busy. We spent most day outdoors, going to concerts, art fairs, markets, wandering through Frisco, Breck, Vail, and Beaver Creek to mention a few...Scottie bike early, and daily. We sat outside our condo by Ten Mile Creek, and talked, and talked, and talked, read books, napped, snored, and relaxed. Kate came for a week, and he husband, Ryan joined us for a long weekend. Mom was always, always in the forefront of my mind. She lived there, and that's okay..she was improving.

And then Dad called~ "Mom had fallen" and Dad was scared. I could hear Mom moaning in the background. She had gotten up very early Saturday morning and didn't want to wake dad. Mom fell in the bathroom, and amongst other things, she landed on her right wrist, was in excruciating pain, and thus at my suggestion to Dad, she earned another ambulance ride, which had become the ride of choice due to the medication she could receive in her home, making her more comfortable and transporting much easier for everyone, especially Dad. This always bothered me, as during this time Mom was alone...but ever the polite and gracious woman she is, she made sure everyone in the ambulance was greeted. The x-rays told the story~~Mom's right wrist was shattered and would require surgery. Mom was wrapped up and told to see an orthopiedic surgeon on Monday. Mom and Dad were given the option of Mom staying in the hospital overnight, but Dad felt adamant about bringing her home so that he could care for her. He always felt that way...and so, he brought her home. My anxiety of being so far away and not being able to just run over and visit, change dressings, and be close had dramatically increased, and did so throughout the day...Scottie and I could never go very long without wondering if all was well..if Mom was even close to maintaining. Her recent falls were so traumatic, they all had a violent content to them because of her lack of balance, the loss of control over the ability to stop herself, to even know to keep still until she had asked for help in moving from place to place, and because of inanimate objects that she hit when she fell. Sharp corners, handles, tables that moved, rugs, her walker, and many other things were obstacles to Mom's safety. Everything was potentially dangerous, but most of all her zest for life, and her overstimulated brain from DBS, that didn't give her a chance, unless someone was there to stop her from getting up alone sometimes.

Dad called early Sunday morning, and Mom was not doing well, and either was Dad. It had been a rough night. He had trouble helping Mom to the bathroom, which is completely understandable, and Mom's pain was unbearable, and most importantly she was running a temp. Dad called the ER and was told to bring her back. Again..thank you, thank you, Mom went by ambulance and was admitted to Methodist Hospital. She had pneumonia, and with treatment, she improved, and was well enough to have surgery on her right wrist. She had 9 screws and a metal plate put in...but not until Marcia and I talked and of the options given by the orthopedic surgeon this seemed the best so that Mom could best use her hand again, including writing...her beautiful flowing handwriting, and draw..all the outfits of her youth. She loved that.

I am much to far away from home at this point. Mom struggled mightily. For many days she drifted in and out of the anesthesia, pneumonia, and fever haze. Marcia promised to let me know when I need to get on a plane..when I needed to come home, when... But something kept reassuring me that all was well, that she was still in good hands...being loved, and cared for. Some of my friends had visited her, all of her friends were in touch, my aunt was keeping me updated... There were some very bad days, even days when Mom was not communicating~ I prayed she was busy getting well, recovering.

Mom did well, and I know it was only because as usual she put 100% into whatever it took to "be well, to "get better." She was scheduled to go back to Jones Harrison for "rehab" to regain her strength before going home~~this was to coincide with Scottie & I returning home. We arrived home late Thursday evening, after bidding farewell to the mountains, our kid's, and friends. It was the first time I remember being in a hurry to get home. I grew up vacationing in Aspen, and thus it continued in our family. Mom was set to move the next day, following PT and lunch. I could not wait to get to the hospital~ I just could not wait to see Mom, to hold her, and to give her all the love I had stored up while I was away. My heart was aching, conflicted, wondering, and full to bursting to see this incredible woman, friend, mentor, my Mom~

I was waiting in Mom's room with Marcia for Mom to come up from PT. I couldn't wait! But, Mom was brought up early because she wasn't doing well. Something had gone very wrong. Mom barely acknowledged she didn't even see me... like there was no energy to see me. I was very worried. The transfer to "rehab" was canceled immediately, and Mom was put into hospital pj's, an oxygen tube was put in, and she was tucked in bed. Mom had aspirated into her lungs during PT. The pneumonia set in again..antibiotic's were started.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Off to Colorado ~ Summer 2008 ~ Part One

In the early evening hours of June 23, 2008 I wrapped my arms around my mom and dad in the courtyard and sadly said goodbye, as I was leaving early the following morning for Colorado, our summer sojourn for many years, and with a new stop in Denver, as our daughter Katie, and her husband Ryan had just moved there from San Diego. With regret I was leaving Mom to continue "rehab" at Jones Harrison. She had taken yet another fall and injured her sweet, precious face, causing a realm of issues for her tiny little body. Mom was scheduled to return home the following Sunday. Earlier that afternoon I laid next to Mom on her bed, as we often did, and we both took a long nap. I loved watching her sleep, and had for many years, holding her hand, touching her face. It was the most special piece of time I could carve out alone for just the two of us. I know Mom peeked at me too, or often woke before I did, and watched me slumber, as if I were her little baby girl again, for just a little while.

Mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the age of 50 in 1980. Her symptoms had appeared two years prior to that but were slight, and thyroid issues were assumed to be the cause. To say that my Mom didn't "suffer" from Parkinson's would be untrue. She suffered mightily, as the disease slowly crept in and took just a little bit here and a little bit there. To say that mom suffered out loud would be untrue. This amazing woman, who just happens to be my mom, never complained about one thing, except occasionally the loss of independence when it came to driving..for driving was freedom, and she missed that freedom. So back to watching Mom see she didn't have tremors when she slept, so for just a little while, she didn't have Parkinson's.

Scottie (my husband) & I left for Denver at 5:00am the following morning, June 24, 2008. My heart strings were being tugged at with might, yet I knew Mom was healing, in good care, and would get lots of rest with one less visitor every day. And, she was headed home. Those had become the "highlight" heading home! Mom had begun to have many "highlight" days after doing "rehab" recovering from her falls. I felt she was in such good loving hands.

Mom did go home that Sunday. She began answering the phone in the days prior to going home, likely because she knew it was me, her voice sounded stronger, she was eating well, loved treats, she was getting her strength back, everything was progressing well. Home care would be waiting for her, and her Private Care Attendant, Pam. Mom loved Pam, and it made me feel better knowing Pam would be there right away. Things appeared to be going well. Mom was so "glad to be going home, but so afraid to fall again." I asked God to "please watch her, keep her safe, and and knock her on the head if she tried to get up alone", for that was her greatest risk of all, not asking for help, and falling because of it. In all fairness to Mom she had "Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery" in early 2004. My Dad, Papa, lovingly began to call her "Miracle Mary" for the surgery transformed her life, and the courage and grace it took for her to go through such an intense process, beginning to end, was truly none other than a miracle. The surgery was still in it's early stages, and it has now been discovered that the stimulation of the brain leads to impulsive behaviors of different sorts, however for Mom that was moving before thinking, thus he many falls. DBS does not have any impact on the lose of balance in Parkinson's patients, so as her Parkinson's progressed, she continued to have further loss of balance. As well, Mom was a strong, independent woman, and took pride in doing things for herself, thinking she could, and yet not having the help of her thought processes to think before acting sometimes. God bless her for the strength of not only did she get up and move, she often moved other things:), like very large, heavy pieces of furniture that she just knew would look better in another room. Always, this was done the minute Dad left the apartment. Ha, what a girl! What spirit, what determination, what grit. Oh I do love her.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here We Go

Not in a very long time have I felt such an immediate need to write...and write, and write some more. History has shown that over time I have started and stopped many journals, and "many" is clearly an understatement. I have notebooks, single pieces of paper, post-it notes, small journals, large journals, and notes about my life's happenings written in the columns of the book I was reading at the time, notes in the columns of the many daily meditation books I own, of which I rotate through the days, weeks, months, and years of my life, and notes on my calendar reminding me of what took place on a certain day, and even notes in magazines, on the cover, and on the backs. So I guess it makes sense that as I'm always writing something somewhere, the mystery isn't so mysterious. Writing brings me to a place of expressing feelings, of being happy, sad, glad, afraid, probably very afraid, and grateful. Grateful that I can remember, feel, think, love, hold on, hold on tighter, and in the process~ finding grace, peace, hope, if only until I need to write again.
So, "Here We Go" will be my attempt to join this medium of sharing; out loud, publicly, and with faith.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Here I Am

Well, Here I Am...
Being here will come as a complete surprise to those who will read this, but probably not as much as it is to myself. In fact, I must go now, and think about what I have just done, as well, I must think about my motives, and decide if I really want to be so public with my thoughts. I'm at a time in my life that is life changing...the loss of my mom, my dad's loss of his one true love and soul mate, my children's loss of their "Mere", and my husband's loss of the mother-in-law he so loved, a loving, kind, gracious, strong woman. I miss you so much Mommy~
Stay well until,