Friday, December 31, 2010

A Few of My (Mother's) Favorite Things

 I'm going to show you a few of my mother's favorite Christmas things.  A few years ago, she gave me this collection of miniature Santa mugs.  They are each slightly different.  There are 9 of them.  I think there were 12 originally, but some have been lost or broken, I suppose.
Mother had a collection of Santas.  My sister and my daughters each picked out some they liked best for their children, and in my sister's case, her grandchildren.  This is the one that I set aside for myself.  It is made from plastic, and one boot won't stay on.  It was probably the most inexpensive of them all, but it is my favorite.  I remember playing with it as a child.
 This little angel choir actually belonged to my grandmother, who gave it to my mother years ago.  Mother passed it on to me.  I remember lining them up and rearranging them for hours on end when I was a child.  I was showing them to my daughter when.................
 I dropped this one.  I nearly cried, but it is only a "thing" not a memory which I will keep in my heart forever.  Besides, it can be glued back together.
And, last..........My mother wanted to be in the Red Hat Club so badly, but there never was a group around here that she could join.  When she was in the nursing home in Knoxville a few years ago, there was a group.  My daughters bought her this red hat.  She never got to attend a meeting because she became too ill, and then she moved to the nursing home here.  I kept this hat hanging on her wall in her room, though, and she loved it.  So, to honor her, I incorporated it into this wreath that hangs in our foyer.  I love it.

This past year has really taught me about the Circle of Life.  My husband and I both lost our Mothers, but memories of them and all they taught us will never go away.  We both had strong, hard working Mothers who taught us the importance of family first! We will carry their legacy throughout our generation, our children's generation, and it is already being passed down to the next generation.  I have no doubt that our grandchildren will continue to remember and pass along the stories of their Great Grandmothers and their mothers before them.........................

I pray that you each have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe NewYear!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our First

Christmas without our mothers.  We've already made it through Thanksgiving.  We celebrated with two of our daughters and their families up in the beautiful NE.  Christmas will be at home.  Not as many of our siblings will be here to celebrate this year.  That will be strange.  I guess it's the way of the future, though.  It's harder once the families grow, young adults get married, babies are born, some move away, etc.........  But, we will keep in touch with our families.  Our mothers would want it that way.  
I hope that each of you has a  
I will update my blog soon after the holidays.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homecoming for Ruth

 I was asked by the nursing home assistant administrator to write something for a brochure they are getting ready to publish.  They wanted a photo, too.  I took one to them that someone took of Mother and me at Valentine's last year.  I don't have a scanner, so I can't put that photo on this post, but here's what I wrote.  I don't know if they will use all, part, or even any of this for their brochure, but..........

Homecoming for Ruth................
***Coming to Tennessee Health Care truly was a homecoming for Mother, Ruth ____.   She was born and raised in ______________, Tennessee,  taught school and worked for the Department of Child Services, and had been active in the Presbyterian Church and the community at large.  Mother “knew everyone” and “everyone knew” her. 
***When I first walked into the facility to evaluate whether it was the right place for her, I saw Karen, Janet, Maria, Gail, Sandra, Brenda, Phyllis, and several other staff members I knew from different times in my life.   The huge smiles and welcoming words of comfort made me know that this was the place for Mother. 
***Mother had been in an assisted living facility for three years, but following  several months of a serious illness and surgery at UT Hospital, she moved into a large nursing home in Knoxville.  We, my brother, sister, cousins, and I, were never happy with the care she was receiving there, but since my brother and sister lived in Knoxville, it seemed the logical place for her to be at the time.  When my sister moved out of state, we decided that, since I was retired and my brother was still working, it made sense for her to be closer to my home, which is in ________________. 
***After researching and visiting every facility between Knoxville and _____________, we came to the conclusion that THC was as good, if not better, than the others. The first time I walked in the door for a tour of the building, etc..... I was greeted with smiles and welcoming from the ladies I mentioned above.  These ladies, along with other staff members whom I met, put me at ease and made me feel that, yes, this was the right place for Mother.  I have to say that our aunt and my husband’s grandfather had been at THC many years before, and at that time, we weren’t so impressed.  Many improvements had been made besides just staff changes.  The cleanliness of the facility was the most apparent change!  There was no “nursing home” smell!  I still don’t know how that is accomplished!
***When Mother moved in, she was surprised by how many of the staff, residents, family and visitors of residents, that she knew.  She was also happy that many of her friends from ___________ were now able to visit her more easily.  She loved the activities such as playing Bingo, getting manicures, visits by the Garden Club, visits by children from church groups, musical programs, the fall festival, and others.  Mother was always a very social person, so these events were important to her.
***However, as time went on, she was less aware of what was going on around her, less able to enjoy the activities, and not able to recognize as many people.  Even though, it became harder for her to communicate her needs and wants, she was still treated with dignity and respect by the staff. 
***There were a few times that my siblings, cousins, or I had questions and concerns about Mother’s care, but each time these were addressed by the administration very quickly.  We felt comfortable talking with all staff members about any issues. 
During Mother’s last night, while my cousin and I sat by her bed, several staff members came by to check on us, bring us food, make sure our needs, as well as Mother’s, were being met.  One CNA even came in to sing to Mother.  After Mother took her last breath, we were treated with utmost respect, care, and love by staff members.  Some even came to Mother’s room and cried with us.
***I would not hesitate to use THC for another relative or even for myself in the future.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sermon Directed At Me

I told our preacher that his sermon was directed straight at me today.  It was about how you shouldn't dwell on the bad stuff in your life, but rather on the good times.  That is exactly what I'm trying to do.  I won't be able to forget this past year, but I am concentrating on remembering things that happened in happier times.   His sermon just added to my belief that this is the best thing for me to do.
I am formulating in my head some things to write about that MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME,  both good and bad.  I will post about these things soon...........
By the way, I am very sad because this was the last Sunday that this preacher will be at our church.  He's moving to Florida.  He was an interim for us, and his contract has run out.  We haven't found a new pastor, yet, so we will have pulpit supplies for a while.  That's okay, though.  I'd rather the Pastor Nominating Committee, which my husband is on, will take their time finding just the right person to fill this position.  Our church is struggling, just as so many others are right now.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The surgery went as planned.  I went down to be with my cousin, as did 3 of her friends, one of her brothers, and her sister and brother-in-law, who drove 10 hours to be here.  It just happened to be the weekend of her b-i-l's fraternity reunion here in TN.  (They only have them about every 10 years, so the fact that it was THIS weekend is, uh..........a real suspicious circumstance, huh?).  It was "a fluke" that my cousin was coming to spend the night with us the night before my mother died, too, hum?????????????
I don't claim to have any answers to these circumstances, but it seems that "fate" was at work in both instances,  to me anyway!
Back to my cousin's husband's surgery.  After cutting an incision from behind his ear to above his eye, they then removed a piece of his skull that was about the size of the palm of a man's hand!  The clot was on the surface of the brain, so there was no probing into the brain, thank God!!!!  The whole process only took about an hour.  He will be in icu for a couple of days so they can keep a close watch on him.  He does seem to be doing well, though. The doctors never have acted concerned.  Of course, it wasn't their, or their loved one's, brains on which they were operating!
While we sat and talked as we waited we remembered events from our childhoods.  We talked about my mom and my aunt, who died at 53 years old.  When she died, my cousin whose husband had the surgery, was a sophomore at UT.  She called the icu waiting room from her dorm room to check on her mother, who had surgery a few days before.  A family member of another patient answered the phone.  When my cousin asked for someone from her family, this "idiot" person told her that they had all left because their loved one had died!  Can you believe that's how my cousin learned of her mother's death!!!!!  Thank goodness for her friends who were with her at the dorm.  Another of  my cousin's was in the Navy at the time.  He was stationed in Iceland, but because his mother was so gravely ill, they let him come home.  Afterwards he was transferred to Georgia.  I was at home with our grandmother.  Our other aunt drove very fast to get home to tell her mother!  There were no cell phones then.  I knew when I saw how quickly she drove into the driveway and jumped out of the car and ran into the house, what had happened.  This was the week that my mom's life really changed.  That's when she moved into her sister's house to be with my two cousins who were still home.  One was 16, the other had just had his 12th birthday.  I can still visualize my 5 cousins standing in the yard between our houses, in a circle, discussing what was to happen with the two youngest siblings.  My oldest cousin lived in PA and had a two year old.  She could have taken the boys, but their lives would have been turned upside down even more than it was already.  My cousin who was in the Navy, could have taken them, but he was only about 22 or 23 at the time.  He wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility.  My cousin who was in college, was, of course, not able to take them.  My grandmother was really too old, she actually died the next year.  My other aunt was considered, I'm sure, but she had never married, didn't have children, and just wasn't the best choice.  So, they decided to ask my mother, who didn't hesitate to agree to move into their house.
I didn't mean to get off on this story when I started this post, but it just came out...................

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Prayers, please

My cousin's husband has a blood clot in his brain that he is having removed on Thursday!  If you are a long time follower of mine, you know that my cousins are much closer to me than normal cousins.   We were pretty much raised as siblings.  This is the cousin who is only 4 months older than I am, so the one I am closest to.  Any way her husband is only 58 years old - my age!!!!!  He has a small, leaking blood clot behind the eye, even with the temple.  They are going to remove it.  He has had an excrutiating head ache since a week ago last Friday, so over a week and a half!  Finally, today, the doctors have decided to DO something about it!  They admitted him to the hospital and gave him morphine for the pain.  He is feeling some better, now.  My cousin is really scared, though.  Please remember them and their two 20 something sons in your prayers.  I will keep you informed.
This is the cousin who spent the night at the nursing home with me the night that my mother died.

The doctors are assuring my cousin that this is not a life threatening problem, but going into the brain cannot be good.  As I said above, please remember him, his wife, and his two sons, and the rest of the family in your prayers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Mother's Name

My mother's name was Beulah Ruth, which means Heavenly Friend in Hebrew!  I think that is beautiful!  Mother did have many friends, and that was partly because she was such a good friend to others.  I've written before about how she always thought about others before herself.  One of these days I'm going to write about how she thought about everyone else more than her own family at times.  These are humorous stories.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Memory Triggers

I guess that there will always be things that trigger memories of my mom, but since it's just been two weeks and a day since she died, some of these triggers are jumping out at me.  Last night, I went to help pass out candy at our town's big Halloween celebration.  The arts' council of which I'm a part passed out candy to all the little princesses, bumble bees, Handy Mannys, fairies, witches,  and such.  Darth Vader is the one that triggered a memory for me, though.  Our church used to always have a Halloween party.  One year Mother borrowed my daughter's Darth Vader's mask, put on a black graduation robe and some sort of black hood, went to the church and just sat there throughout the party.   She didn't talk to anyone.  Everyone was trying to guess who in the world that person was.  Well, at the end of the party, she took off her mask and boy, was everyone surprised to see this old gray headed lady dressed as a Star Wars character.  The little kids thought she was pretty cool!  Another year, shortly after the World's Fair had been in Knoxville, she went to the party dressed as the Ghost of the World's Fair.  She pinned all kinds of World's Fair buttons and other paraphernalia on a white sheet.  The most surprising to me, though, was the year she wore a mini skirt, a shirt that was off one shoulder, leg warmers, and painted her hair bright pink and blue.  She was a punk rocker! Mother was in her 60s when they had these parties.  We didn't live here then, but people told me about Mother's great costumes.  I also saw pictures.
Today at church, many memories were triggered.  Mother didn't sing, but she loved to hear me sing.  She loved hearing our choir's anthems every week, too.  She loved all the old hymns.  For one piano recital that I was in as a child, I had to play, "How Great Thou Art".  I was not, and still am not, a very good pianist, especially in public.  I did not have this piece memorized as well as I should have, and when I was in front of people I forgot what I did know.  I was really concerned about this.  Mother told me not to worry, that if I forgot part of the song, to just start over, that no one would know.  Well, I got near the end of the song and, of course, forgot the ending, so I started over.  I got near the end again, and again, forgot, so I started over.  I'm not sure how many times I played this beautiful hymn over and over before I finally just quit.  Our choir sang a medley today that included "How Great Thou Art".  The sermon today was about how we can see Jesus's face through other people and through doing things for others.  My mother was someone who was always "DOING" for others.  That was just the way she was.  One example the preacher used in his sermon was that some of the ladies in our church are making prayer shawls for people who are hurting or in need.  My mother received the first of these shawls.  We buried it with her.  Also, after church every Sunday, we have refreshments and a time of fellowship.  Mother LOVED this time to get to visit with her friends and the children at church.  So, today, during our fellowship time, I had more memories triggered.
This is not a bad thing, but right now, it is still somewhat painful!  I hope this wasn't too rambling!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Love in the Mailbox

 My brother, sister, and cousins have been receiving acknowledgments from the church, too.  We have all been getting beautiful sympathy cards with sweet heartfelt notes. These are the ones I've gotten. One of these was sent to me by Kim, one of my great blogging friends.  Hers is the light green one int he middle of the bottom row.  So sweet.  Do you see the two Halloween cards?  One, I received today from one of my cousins who said she had bought it to send Mother.  The other is from one of Mother's former pastors and his wife.  They sent cards to each other for every occasion.  I never knew the joke, but they always signed their cards, "the X family" and Mother addressed theirs that way, too.  This card was sent before they knew that Mother had died.  The nursing home forwarded it to me.
I went by the nursing home today to take a few things that I thought they could use.  They were playing Bingo and several of the staff members were dressed in costume.  I just got a few photos.
 This is one of my favorite CNAs dressed as Pebbles.  She is such a sweet lady.  I think she looks adorable, and I'm sure the residents enjoyed seeing her dressed up today!  They loved her pink hair!
 This is the activities director dressed up like a cowgirl.   The resident she's talking to is one of my sweet ladies who I plan to still visit.  Her favorite thing to say is, "tootle oo, tootle oo." She used to walk around with her best friend.  They always had their pocketbooks and babydolls, and they were going to the store if you asked."
Here the residents are playing Bingo. A lady I've known all my life comes every Friday morning to lead them in Bingo.  The residents look forward to this time.  I know my mother did.  If one of the regular residents isn't there, this lady goes looking for them to make sure they are alright.  Today, I went to check on one lady for her.  This lady just hadn't gotten up yet, but told me to find a CNA to get her up so she could play Bingo.  So, I did as I was told!  This lady used to teach school with my aunt and is another person I've known all my life.
I will keep going back to visit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mother's Favorite Time of Year...........

..............was not Fall.  She like Winter the best because once all the leaves are gone she could see more things.  She was like me, in that she was somewhat claustrophobic.  The leaves in the summer time "smothered" her, she would say.  I, on the other hand, do love Fall so I'm going to show you a few pictures of Fall colors.                                                 
 First, is this small display in my yard.  I have meant to do this every year since we moved here 8 years ago.  But, I've always had so much going on.  Well, this year, one of my dear friends sent the large purple mums in the back of this display.  The plow belonged to my husband's grandfather.  I bought the pumpkins from the local Methodist youth group, and I purchased the other mums from Walmart.  I love, love, love purple, yellow, and green together.  Oh yeah, I added in a few berries from my nandena bush, or I should say, my husband's grandmother's nandena bush, as she planted it long before we moved here.  I created this display the day before yesterday, before the storms hit, and I've been afraid to look to see if any of it is still there!  My husband says he's going to go to his dad's barn to get a couple of old hay bales, but so far he hasn't had time.
This is the first year that I have noticed the beautiful firey colors on our crepe myrtles (again,  my husband's grandmother's). 
Berries on the nandena bush.
Now, for some pretty colors of a different sort.  While I was carrying the mums and plow out to make the display, my ankle just turned and this is the result.  It really doesn't hurt too badly, but right at the moment, it did!  I thought I'd really messed it up.  I've iced it and elevated it, so it isn't so bad.  I usually don't have "cankles"!
This morning I called the retirement and social security offices.  That was easy.  The retirement office is sending me forms to fill out to send back in with a copy of the death certificate.  For social security, the phone call was all I needed to do.  If she gets a check in November, I simply send it back, but the nice lady told me that they shouldn't be sending her one.  She keeps the October one!  That surprised me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A week later...........

For the most part I am doing really well since Mother's death.  The first few days were a whirlwind of activity with our family and friends being at our house.  We had to make the arrangements and actually go through the service and celebration of Mother's Life.  That was the easy part.
Mother's service was Monday evening, the 18th.  On Tuesday morning, two of our daughters and their families left to get back to jobs and school.  Our other daughter's family left on Wednesday.  My brother, sister, and cousins also had to get back home.  So, our house is really quiet!!!
I've been back to the nursing home twice (this was harder than I thought it would be): once to take some cake for the staff, and the other time to take a few pieces of Mother's clothing to a few special residents who I knew would enjoy them.  One lady likes sparkly, pretty things.  Mother had a black sweater with gold sparkly thread woven in a beautiful design.  I knew that Shirley would enjoy wearing it.  A couple of the ladies are always cold, so I took them some of Mother's jackets and the shawls that I had made for Mother.  I kept the one that I had made with the appliqued quilt blocks. 
Then, I took some of her clothes and some of my mother-in-law's clothes to a charitable organization that all of the community churches run together.  Folks come there to buy or be given clothing, food, and household goods.  I learned the other day that over 2,000 folks are served there monthly!!! 
I have written lots of thank you notes, and have more to write.  Many people are making contributions to our church in Mother's memory.  We asked for that in lieu of flowers.
Going to church Sunday was hard.  I have so many memories of Mother tied to the church and to her friends who are still there.
I've handled more of Mother's financial "stuff".  Most of that is done, I think.  I haven't contacted SS or her retirement office yet, I guess I need to do that today.   I'm just waiting on the death certificates to come and to hear from the funeral home, as to whether her insurance has covered her funeral expenses. 
So, I have been busy, but not too much so.  I have had time to sew; check out my other blog that is linked on my sidebar to see the Christening gown I just finished.  Life does go in cycles, doesn't it?  I've been working on things for the end of Mother's life and the beginning of another beautiful little life at the same time.
Sleeping seems to be my only problem.  When I go to bed and close my eyes, I "see" Mother as she was on that last night, and during the past few months (nearly a year), rather than how she used to be.  I am trying to "see" those earlier visions, and I am making some headway.  I do need to get a little more sleep.  I understand that bad memories fade and that the good ones take over, with time.  I believe that.
My mind has been a little foggy at times, for instance, when I went to the bank today and locked my keys in my car.  My family will tell you that is nothing unusual for me, though.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebration of Life!

We held a celebration of life for my mother.  She did not want a typical funeral.  She did not want to have a time of receiving friends for viewing of the body.  We had just a private family viewing time.  We were all sitting there quiet and somber when my brother stood up and said that it would be okay for us to talk and remember Mother.  Several of us told stories for a little while before the pastor came in to have a prayer with us.  He said it was very refreshing to hear laughter because that is what Mother would have wanted.
Then, we went to the cemetery and had her graveside service, which was very brief.  The pastor had just a short message, a little scripture, and a prayer before we left to go to the church for a memorial service.
 When we were thinking about what scripture to be read, etc.... I thought to look through Mother's Bible to see if she had any special scriptures marked, underlined, highlighted, etc..... She didn't, but she did have some things in her Bible that were of obvious importance to her.  There were a couple of pages that she had torn out of some devotional book that had scripture.  One of the verses was from James 3:13 "Who is wise and understanding among you?  Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom."
The prayer at the end of this devotional read, "Great God, you know our worth, and you love us, no matter what our age may be.  As long as we live, teach us the best way to give.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen"
There was a short note that she had written that explained in her own words what one of the scriptures meant to her. This scripture was  from Romans 15:1 and in her words is, "Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves for we must bear the burden of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others."

Mother lived her life in service to others.  She was a teacher and later a social worker for Children Services.  Even after she retired she was on the Foster Care Review Board and on the Habitat for Humanity Board, was very active in her church and in ministries of the women of the church.  She constantly was reminding us to be mindful of the feelings and needs of others.

Education was important to Mother.  She had an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee in Zoology.  She then went to Atlanta and studied to become a Lab Technician.  This was in the 40s when not many women went off to college, and if they did most of them majored in education, nursing, or home economics.  We never even gave thought to not going on to college when we were growing up.  It was just an understanding.

Mother had planned the service except for the part our pastor called "Remembrances".   My niece, who is the oldest of the grandchildren asked if she could tell a bit about Grandmother's life and about the kind of person she was to her.  She honored Mother in such a beautiful way, by telling about Christmases at her house, the stability she provided to her and her sister when her parents divorced when she was young, and about the little quirky things that made our mother so unique.  Then she asked if anyone else had stories to tell.  I went first, of course, and told about when mother made me laugh a couple of months ago (I blogged about this in July), and I read a note that I found in her stuff that I had written to her when I was probably about 10 years old.  It reads,
"Dear Mother,
I love you very much.  You have been kind to me.  But I've not been kind to you as much.  I'm sorry, for everything, I've done to make you unhappy....
You are the sweatest mother, I wouldn't have another in all my life.
Yours truly, Julia"
(I left the punctuation and spelling just as I had written the original note.  I don't know what I was apologizing for but I must have done something pretty bad!)

Then, I told a story that my brother was planning to tell.  He chickened out at the last minute.
When he was in the Navy,  our mother wrote to him every day.  He never wrote back.  So.......our mother wrote to his commanding officer and asked if he was okay because she never heard from him.  His commanding officer called him into his office and gave him a piece of paper and a pen and told him to write to her right then and there and ordered him to write to her from then on at least once a week.  He was in the Navy 22 years, and he never failed to write to her each week from then on.

Another story was told by my cousin, who was 16 when his mother died.  Our mother moved into their house to take care of him and his younger brother.  The 16 year old liked to stay out late and didn't like rules.  So, one Saturday night when he was out late she wrote a Proclamation that said something like this......."Whereas, everyone in this house does pretty much whatever they want to do from Monday through Saturday, I proclaim that on Sunday morning everyone in this house WILL get up and go to church!!!"  Sometime later, on a Saturday evening when Mother had gone somewhere with her friends, and my cousin happened to be home earlier than she, he wrote her a note that said, "Dear Aunt Ruth, I can't wate (that's how he spelled it) up any longer so I'm going to bed.  I hope you won't stay out late like this any more.  Please turn out the lights and lock the door.  Ha!"  (These aren't the exact words, but pretty close.)
There were a few other stories told that made the service personal and, as Mother wanted, celebratory.

  She chose the hymns, who was to sing, play the piano and organ, who were to be the pall bearers and honorary pall bearers.  She also decided on the order that we were to do things.  That's why the burial was first, then the service, and then........
she wanted us to have a "party" to celebrate her life.  She wanted a gathering of friends and family.  She wanted refreshments.
So, some of the ladies in our church got together and made cookies, brownies, shortbread, etc.... and punch.  We had a display of photographs of Mother from when she was a little child throughout her life till recent photos with her great grandchildren. Some photos were of her with her dear friends at various celebrations of birthdays, church functions, trips they took together.  There was one photo of her with her brother and her best friend, who died in August, that must have been taken at Halloween since they all had on costumes.  We saw people we haven't seen in a long time.  We had so much food brought to the house that we were able to feed over 40 members of the family who were here along with several close friends, for the whole weekend and still have some left over.  Everyone in the family has gone now, and most are already back to their homes.  It is very quiet in our house.  I welcomed the noise which was mostly laughter of children and of us grownups telling even more stories.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Mother is at peace, as of five minutes till six this morning.  She had a few very calm and peaceful days.  When I got there at about 4:45 yesterday afternoon, I could see a difference from when I'd been there at noon.  The doctor was shocked at the difference in her from the week before.  He checked her out and said that she should have nothing else by mouth.  He had me go into the hall where he asked me if I had ever heard of the "death rattle".  I had.  He told me that was what we were hearing with Mother's breathing.  So, I knew then that I needed to spend the night.  It just happened that one of my out of town cousins was coming to spend the night with us last night.  She ended up staying with me at the nursing home. 
The staff at the nursing home couldn't have been nicer and more sensitive to our needs.  They first moved Mother's roommate to another room for the night.  Then, they rolled a cart filled with a pitcher of ice cold water, a carafe of coffee, soft drinks, Little Debbie cakes, a tray of sandwiches, etc......  Different staff members came in throughout the night to check on Mother.  Some of these staff members were assigned to the other hall, but heard what was going on.  One of the CNAs sang to Mother.
During the first half of the night, Mother was really struggling with phlegm building up in her throat.  Several times the nurses came in to suction it.  Mother always seemed to rest a little better after each time.  As the night progressed Mother's face, hands and feet began to feel cool to the touch.  She would try to open her eyes, but I could tell she wasn't focusing.
About 3:00, or so,  the congestion seemed to lessen, and she seemed to rest much better.
At 5:30, I looked at the clock and thought to myself, "We shouldn't have stayed all night, because she's going to go on into the day."  I was wrong, though.  I actually closed my eyes and nodded off a bit, then she coughed, and my cousin said, "Julia, something's happening.  She's coughing up stuff."  I wiped her face while my cousin went to get the nurse.
By the time they came back into the room, Mother's chest was no longer rising and falling.  I said, "She's gone."  The nurse listened with her stethoscope, though, and said that her heart was still beating about 60 times a minute.  She checked her hands and feet.  Then, she listened again.  Mother moved her legs and head a bit, but the nurse looked at me and said that she could no longer hear her heart.  She left us alone till we were ready for the Hospice nurse to come to make the pronouncement of death.  Then the funeral home guy came.  He was so, so, so nice. 
Later in the morning my brother, husband, and I went to the funeral home to make the arrangements. My sister couldn't get here in time to go with us, but she said that she was agreeable to anything we chose.  We wanted to get the planning done so that her obituary can be in tomorrow's papers.  We are going to have her service on Monday.   It wasn't hard to plan because Mother had me go about 3 years ago to pick up a form to fill out with her funeral wishes.  The funeral home had her plans on file.  We had to change only a couple of things, like the number of great grandbabies she now has, etc....  We chose a simple, but elegant casket that Mother would love.  We went to the florist and chose the flowers for the casket spray.  I don't think my brother and I have ever agreed so easily on things as we did today.  We always get along great, but he usually has some really "weird" ideas.  I guess he thinks mine are "weird".  But, today, we agreed readily on everything.  It helps that Mother had done most of the pre-planning.
Many friends came by with offerings of food, prayers, and thoughts of blessing. 
All of our children and their families are coming.  All of my cousins are coming.  My sister's girls are coming. 
Tonight, I'm going to bed relaxed and thankful that Mother is no longer suffering!  I wish you could have seen the look of peace that was on her face at the end.  I have cried some tears.  We have laughed about some memories with my brother, sister, and the cousins who are already here.  We have looked through old photos and have chosen some to be on display at the visiting time.
My mother planned a celebration of her life rather than a mournful event.  First, she wants to be buried, then have a memorial service at our church with our choir singing.  Then, she wants us to have a time of remembering with our family and friends in our fellowship hall at the church.  This is sort of backwards from the normal way that people around here have funerals, but it is what she wanted!!!!!!
I will probably continue with this blog.  There are lots of observations that I made at the nursing home that didn't even include my mother.  I will be writing about those.  It may be a while, though.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading my notes about our experience at the nursing home, and who have been saying prayers and sending positive thoughts our way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Days? Weeks????????

We don't know what to expect, really.  We are just going day by day.  Prayers for continued calm and peace, please.  I probably won't be on here much in the near future.

Monday, October 4, 2010


My Mother is officially a client of Caris Hospice.  A nurse came today to interview me, meet Mother, examine her, go through Mother's chart page by page, and to make some beginning recommendations.  She was there from 3:00 till after 6:30.  She was still there when I came home.  I was impressed to say the least.  She explained to me that Hospice clients are usually within 6 months of finding peace, but that very often that time is extended.  She said some clients have hung on for 2 years!  We don't know what's in store for Mother, but this service will be a benefit to her in that they will suggest changes in meds (oh no, here we go again!) that will keep her from being in pain and otherwise help her quality of life.  They will be extra eyes and ears and hands for taking care of Mother.  Staffing is short at the nursing home.  The CNAs, LPNs, and RNs do a fantastic job, are caring compassionate people, but they only have two hands and can't possibly do all that really needs to be done.  So they are welcoming the extra help!
Hospice will be there to answer our questions, give us their opinion about Mother's condition, and in general make things go more smoothly.  They are trained to counsel the families.  Believe me when I say that this may be the service they provide most in this case. 
Actually, I think I have come to terms with what the future has to hold.  All I ask for now, is that Mother can find some peace!
I still walk through the halls and dining room and visit with the other residents: Margaret, Katherine, Ann, Reba, Edna, Mr. Bunch, Johnny, Rebecca, Ms. Vance, and so many others that I can't possibly name them all here.  Some have such sunny outlooks that they cheer me up when I talk to them.  I think that I will continue to visit these folks even after Mother is no longer there. 

Friday, October 1, 2010


I talked with the doctor tonight.  He says there is no way to know when we will officially need hospice, but he is going to write the order tonight.  He said that, now, death does not have to be imminent for hospice to step in to help.  They will evaluate Mother and be there to help with counseling for the family and apparently a lot of other services.  Mother's nurse, today, actually was recommending that we take Mother to the hospital.  I asked what the hospital could do that the nursing home couldn't do.  She thought for a minute and said that really the hospital couldn't do anything different.  The doctor tonight said that he would send her if the family wanted her to go, but he really didn't see a need.  Yea, doctor.  I was pleased that he felt that way.  He said that an ER doctor who doesn't know Mother or her situation would be evaluating her and then would make recommendations about meds, etc......  Then, when she came back to the nursing home we would, again, have to try to straighten her meds out again.  He said that of course there are times when sending a resident to the hospital would be the right thing to do, but not in Mother's case.  She's on antibiotics for pneumonia and a UTI, but otherwise, he doesn't see that there is anything different that we could be doing.  Of course, we can still try to get her to drink and eat, but we can't force her.  He's right about that, when she doesn't want anymore (which is usually after about 2 bites of some pureed something) she will not open her mouth for anything!  Sometimes I can get the straw in her mouth, but I can't force her to drink.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

She Ate A Little

Mother actually ate some yesterday.  She didn't know she was eating.  She never opened her eyes, but if I put food in her mouth, she made the motions of chewing and swallowing.  She even drank through a straw a little! She wasn't aware that I was there.  She doesn't know me anymore, anyway, I don't think.  If she ever calls me anything, it's "Mother".  I have been told that that is normal.  This really doesn't bother me at all.
I appreciate all of your heartfelt comments. Thank you so much. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reality Hitting Me In the Face!

About a week or so ago, the head administrator of the nursing home called me into his office.  He asked me if I have given thought as to what we will want to do at the end.  The end?  I looked at him in a questioning manner, I guess, because he clarified by saying, "Do you think you'll want to take your mother home with you and have hospice care, or would you want to keep her here and have hospice come here?"  What?  Was he telling me that Mother is going to die soon?  I mean, of course I know that she is getting much worse, but I really haven't given any REAL thought about what we would do at the END. I told him as much, and he said that I should probably be thinking about this.  Okay........?  So, I waited a day or two to absorb this before I said anything to anyone.
A couple of days ago, I asked one of the nurses, who is also a friend I've known all my life, what V had meant by his question.  I asked if they knew that Mother only has a very short time left.  She said that, since Mother has essentially quit eating, may mean, possibly, maybe, probably that her body is starting to shut down.  Okay, I guess I really knew this, I just hadn't verbalized it, or had it verbalized to me.  I wasn't letting myself think in these terms, not really anyway.  So, I asked if she could go on like this for a year or two.  I know that was a dumb question, but I asked it anyway.  Of course, she said that no, Mother wouldn't live that long.  I then said that I would be going away for a few days in October and asked if I should change my plans.  She answered that no one knows for sure how long things will go on as they are, but that she didn't think it would happen that fast.  I had to leave to think and cry for a little while.  All of this happened about the same time as the stuff in my other blog was going on.  I was a wreck for a few days.
I have called my daughters, brother, sister, one of my cousins and told them what this dear nurse told me.  None of them were surprised.  They were all very supportive and compassionate.  They are what is keeping me strong right now.  I know in my mind that Mother is in the worst state she could ever be in, and I hate, hate, hate seeing her this way.  I intellectually know that it will be a blessing when the time comes.  I know that she is miserable, and I want it to be over for her.  But,  there is a part of me that is crying, "NO! not yet. I'm not through.  I  need to tell her some things.  I need her to know that I love her and that I'm sorry for some of the hurtful things I have said to her over the years.  I need to have her know me again, instead of thinking that I am her mother."
Okay, okay, get  hold of yourself, Julia.  You are a grown woman.  You have seen your husband go through his mother's death in April.  You know that he and his siblings are thankful for the blessings they had in their mother and that she didn't get to the point where she didn't know them, etc..... You know that this will be the best thing when it happens.
I just pray that I can suck it up and be strong.
I am tired, a little bit sick with a yucky throat, stressed over normal life things, and so, not at my best right now.  I feel so much better after having talked to my girls, though.
My girls are all such strong, caring, wonderful mothers to our grandchildren.  I am so grateful that I see my mother in them.  My mother used to be a very strong, independent, compassionate lady.  My sister and I were just talking about how grateful we are that she taught us that ALL people are God's people and that He loves us ALL the same.  He doesn't care about color, culture, etc..... and our mother taught us that is how we should be.  Our mother taught us that caring for others should be utmost in our lives.  She unquestioningly moved into our cousins' house when their mother died to take care of the two youngest who were still at home.  She taught school.  She worked as a Social Worker with abused and neglected children.  She raised us without the help of our father.  She divorced our father even though, I think she still deep down loved him, and even though it was against all she had been taught, because she loved us and didn't want to risk him getting custody of us if anything happened to her.  She never was able to live some of her dreams because of life circumstances.  She now, is scared, sad, and pitiful.  I want this to end for her in whatever way it is going to take.  I love her too much to see her like this.
Wow!  did I really just write all of this?  Even if no one ever reads this, it is helping me to write it down.  I hope that if anyone does read it, it will help you to deal with your own life struggles with your parents, in-laws, or whatever other life issues you may have.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Easter and Christmas?

Tonight when I went to visit this is what I encountered.....

Mother:  There was and Easter Egg hunt today, and there were so many eggs that they were all stuck together.
Me:  Really, wow!
Mother:  Yes, and there are eggs under me.
Me: Under you? You mean under your bed?
Mother:  Turn me over so you can get the eggs out from under me.  Turn me over, NOW!
Me:  Okay?.........?............?
Mother:  I mean it, turn me over from side to side and get those eggs out from under me, NOW!
Me:  Alright.  (I turned her from side to side, not an easy task mind you, since she can't help turn on her side at all)
Mother: Did you get all of the eggs?
Me: Yep!
Mother:  Did you get the ones that are between my legs?  My legs are stuck together and I can't pull them apart.
Me:  Okay. (I pull each leg to the side a little. I'm afraid that I will hurt her.)
Mother:  My legs are stuck together.  Pull them apart.
Me:  (I pull them a little further apart.)

Mother:  Tomorrow is Christmas, and I haven't been shopping.  I don't have anything for my "little one".
Me:  Mother, it's only September.  You have plenty of time for shopping. (We've been through all of this before.  I keep meaning to buy her a big calendar so she can see the month, etc...  I'm not sure that would help.).  See, I just hung a Halloween decoration on your door because we've not even had Halloween yet.
Mother:  Take me to the hall.
Me:  ( I wheeled her out into the hall, but there wasn't anyone out there.)
Mother:  Take me to the dining room.
Me:  Okay, but there won't be many people in there, dinner is over.
Mother:  Take me to the dining room.
Me:  Okay.
Mother:  Ask those people if tomorrow is Christmas.
Me:  ( I ask three CNAs who are in the dining room. They all tell Mother that it is only September and that Christmas is still several months away. That makes her mad!  I take her back down to her room.)

Mother:  Take off my shirt.
Me: Mother, you have to wait until the girls are through helping other people eat their dinner, and then they will come down to help you get ready for bed. (This exchange goes on forever and ever, so I finally go get a gown myself and come back to get her ready for bed.)
Mother: (After I have her gown on her and her clothes off.)  Tell the nurses to come to get me ready for be.
Me:  Mother, I got you ready for bed.  See, you have on a gown.  I've already brushed your teeth, so you can just relax now and go to sleep.  (It's only 6:00)  I need to go home now, I'll see you tomorrow.
Mother:  Crying, (all of this has been while she was crying) Please don't go.  Please wait until the nurses come to get me ready for bed.
Me:  Okay, I'll stay, but you have to stop crying.
Mother:  Okay, I will.  (That lasts about 2 minutes and then she starts crying again. This goes on for about 30 to 40 minutes.)  Cries again.
 Me: Mother, what's wrong now?
Mother:  I don't know.  Don't touch my face.  You are hurting my arm when you hold my hand.  I don't know.  Please don't go, etc...................................

I finally left and came home and I haven't been able to get this off my mind since.......................

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Painting and Mother

I just finished painting Fall pictures on the nursing home windows.  This is the front entrance.  To see the rest, just go to my other blog that is linked on my sidebar.
On Sunday, my cousin and his wife went to visit Mother.  She was crying when they got there.  She asked them to get her out of the "mud?".  Then she just begged them to take her out of there.  When they asked her where she wanted to go, she said she didn't care, that anywhere but there would be ok.  She reached out to my cousin and asked him to take her home.  When he told her he couldn't, she told him she would never forgive him if he wouldn't take her away from there.  He was crushed.  He didn't quite know what to say or do.  I wouldn't have known what to say either. 
Other than this incident, though, she's been relatively calm for going on a week.  She is very drugged, though.  What's best for her?  Who knows, but I think she is better off being drugged than being scared and agitated.  When she gets anxious, she cries and screams.  So, I really think she's better off on this medicine.  I never thought I would say that!
While I was painting lots of the residents sat inside where they could watch me.  There's one lady, Faye, who never talks and rarely changes her expression.  She just wheels herself all over the nursing home, running into things, etc.....  She wheeled up to the window shown here next to the front door and reached out her hand toward me.  I put my hand on the window and she put hers over mine.  I was so surprised that she and I made this connection.  She doesn't ever seem to be aware of what is going on around her.
Another lady stood at the door.  She wanted out, desperately.  She doesn't really talk, but she would make gestures to tell me that she wanted me to open the door.  I just told her it was locked and that I couldn't open it.  At one point, when someone else went through the door, she followed him outside.  A couple of nurses came running to get her. 
There's a gentleman who will ask everyone he sees to please get him a telephone so he can call his son to come and get him.  Or, he will ask people to call his son for him.  He stood at the door while I was painting the flag and begged me to open the door so he could go home.  It was awful!!!!  That door stays locked.  To open it from outside there is a button to push.  It won't open, though, if a "wanderer" is standing or sitting close by.  Some residents wear a thing around their ankle that sends a signal to the door not to open.  An alarm will sound if one of them does get outside, though. 
Today, there was a gospel group all the way from GA that came to sing with the residents.  A lot of the folks were sitting out on the front porch while they played their guitars and keyboard and sang.  The residents sang along with them a lot of the time.  It was so much fun to watch this.  I was painting the dining room windows while they sang. 
Mother wasn't out there.  I really think she could have enjoyed this today.  The CNAs have gotten so used to her not being able to even go to the dining room or anywhere out of her room, that I guess they didn't think about taking her.  She used to want to be included in EVERYTHING going on.  She did get to eat lunch in the dining room today!  Thank God for small blessings.

On another of my best friends, who I've known since we were babies in the church nursery together over 50 years ago, lost her husband to cancer yesterday.  He found out in January that he had this horrible disease.  It was already spread so much that there was never any real hope that he would get well.  My friend, herself, has dealt with breast cancer and diabetes.  I spent the night at her house so many times.  We called her mom, Hot Roding Mama, because she was our youth leader when we were teens.  She drove like a mad woman, or at least we teased her and said she did.  She still sings in the church choir and sits right in front of me.   Love her.  Prayers for the whole family.  My friend and her husband have two grandsons, one is only a couple of months old.

Friday, September 10, 2010

When are we going Christmas shopping?

This is the question that Mother has had the last two days.  I first tried to convince her that it is only September and that we have plenty of time for Christmas shopping.  She didn't believe me, though.  Yesterday she insisted that it is November.  Today she is convinced it is December.  She is upset because she thinks that someone bought a baby doll for some child that she wanted to buy one for.  She made me promise not to let that person give the doll to this child because she wants to give it to her.  Of course, I agreed to anything.
I made the mistake, yesterday, of telling Mother that we would go shopping today.  She usually doesn't stay on the same "kick" two days in a row.  But, of course, she was upset with me when I told her we couldn't go today.  She looked up at me with the saddest eyes and said, "I know we won't ever get to go, will we?"  Of course, I told her we will go, or that if she wants me to do her shopping for her that I'll be glad to do it.  She didn't say no to that idea, so maybe she will be satisfied that I am doing her shopping.  Last year she had me buy finger paint, water colors, crayons and coloring books for all the little  ones in the family. along with a few things for a few other people.  This year, I thought she wouldn't even know when Christmas comes around.  Who knows?
On Wednesday, my cousin and I were both there at lunch time.  She was calm and seemed to know pretty much what was going on.  After only a few minutes, though, she told us it was time for us to leave.  I asked her if she knew who my cousin was, and she did.  When I asked her if she knew me, she said, "Yes, Mother."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Holding My Breath.............

till I'm blue in the face, or I pass out, or whatever happens first!  Mother has had 3 days of calm.  I'm almost afraid to type these words, because I think I jinx her. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

What's going on in her mind?

Things she has said the past few days.  I wish I could understand what she means and wants.  When I do think I understand her, I can't get her to understand me.  She repeats these statements over and over and over, until she finally wears herself out and goes to sleep.  Apparently she's dreaming and then when she wakes up there is some other something for her to obsess about.  Most of these statements are yelled, not spoken.

"Just give me some butterflies."(This was when she was eating dinner and I asked if she wanted anything else to eat.)
"I want my blue shoes.  They feel so good."(She was trying to get out of bed as she was saying this over and over.)
"Get my dress.  Get a different size."
"Makes me sick, makes me sick, makes me sick,......................"(While my cousin and I were trying to get her to eat.  We finally tried to get her to drink some Ensure.  I think she had congestion in her head that was draining down her throat and this milky drink made her nauseous.)
"Water, water, water, water,......................"(She never drinks water, but she did this time.)
"I'm trying to measure this piano bench."  "Cissy is going to teach a lesson."  "I need to measure this piano bench." (I told her I would measure it for her.)  "Then go do it, do it now, go do it."  "Do you know how to measure."  "I've got to go, now, let's go.  I need to measure the piano bench." (Her sisters were gifted pianists.  I guess she was trying to help them get ready for teaching lessons.)
All is not gloom and doom.  Last evening she was really very calm.  She looked up at me when I went into her room and actually looked at me with both eyes open and smiled and said, "Hi." If only we had more days like this!

My brother is coming down to see her this evening.  This is the first time he has tried to come since the end of June when he started having trouble with the staph infection in his hip.  He is finally off the IV, but will be taking an antibiotic by mouth for a YEAR!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

I think the two calm days were just like the eye of a storm, you know, all calm and quiet and deceiving!  Yea, the calm is over, at least for today.  Oh my, I don't know if I've seen her much worse than this!  I have seen her this bad, however.  I left my car out of the garage when I came home so I would make myself go back this evening.  Otherwise, I might find an excuse not to go.  I don't always go twice a day.  I can't.  It's not about me, though, it's about Mother and how miserable she is.  I have prayed and prayed that God will just give her some peace. 

2 Days of Calm!

I'm hoping, but not holding my breath, that the doctor has found the solution.  He started her on a very low dose, twice a day, of a medicine that in the past has made things worse.  We discussed it and decided that we are willing to try anything.  When she took this before, 3 years ago, it was by IV and probably a much larger dose than now. 
She has been sleepy, but calm for two days now.  I may eat my words after I go see her at lunchtime today, but I'm crossing my fingers, throwing salt over my shoulder, avoiding black cats and ladders, etc........  and Oh, yeah, praying that this will continue.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beauty Pageant

What fun some of the ladies had at the nursing home yesterday.  I didn't get to stay for the actual event, and Mother was in no condition to participate, but they had a beauty pageant.  People brought in formal gowns for the residents to wear.  They got their hair and make up done and paraded around the dining room in their wheelchairs, using their walkers, or canes.  They were so pretty and so proud of their "prettiness"!  Mother would have had fun with this.  I just wish she could have been a part of it.  I took in a few of her dresses that she has worn for weddings, etc......, but others wore them. 
I'm going to try for just a minute to get into her head again.  It's been a while since I've tried this.

Since I've been home...........
"Please leave me alone!  Don't put anymore food in my mouth.  I HATE breakfast! (this was at dinner time)  I just wish you would stop!"  
Why are they making me eat this awful slop?
"Just give me juice!"  "I want that cherry!" (there was no cherry on the tray) "I see it right there (pointing at her water mug), it says S.H.A., S.H. A., S. H. A.................................(over and over)." 
 Why doesn't she understand that I want that water and I can't think of the word for it.
"Take your hand off my chin!(when I was trying to turn her head so I could get a straw in her mouth)  "You are just mean!"  "I HATE breakfast! (it was dinnertime)
I don't understand why this woman keeps trying to make me eat and drink.  I don't want anything.
"Rub my back, please rub my back, I said rub my back, now, rub my back. There's a block behind my back."
If only she understood how bad my back hurts.  And besides, if she's rubbing my back she won't leave me here by myself.  I'm so homesick.  Why won't they take me to the dining room. (Mother hasn't been out of her room for weeks now because of her yelling.)
"My feet are swollen, there's a rope tied around my feet. Take it off!" REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT......................
Why can't she see that rope and take it off of my feet.  Why does she keep telling me that there isn't a rope and that my feet aren't swollen.  I can feel my own feet can't I?  I think I know how they feel.  Why won't she go get a nurse to help me.  I really do need help and I need someone to sit with me.  I'm so scared.  I'm so scared.  I'm so scared.  I'm so ALONE!
Her roommate..........."Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy,   come here daddy.  My feet hurt.  Daddy, daddy.  Oh, my back.......................etc......................................................................."

I asked Mother if she knew who I was and she looked up and yelled, "YOU. ARE. MY. MOTHER!"
Why would my own Mother think that I don't know her!  

I told Mother that I needed to leave to go to church Wed. evening.  As soon as I was out of the room, she started yelling and crying, so I went back. 
"Why did you come back?  Why didn't you go to church?  You said you were leaving.  Get out of here and go to church."
I told her that I couldn't go as long as she was crying and screaming.
"I promise I will be good.  I promise I will stop screaming(actually screaming these words at me)!  I promise, I promise, I promise, now GO TO CHURCH!"
I told her I would go if she would be quiet for 5 minutes. 
I went out of the room and waited another 5 minutes. 
I went to church and called the nursing home afterwards to see how she had done.
They had not heard a peep out of her!

Of course, I have no idea what is really going through her head, but it helps to try to "get it"!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I'm home, and as I told one of my cousins, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with my grands, and as awful as this may sound, my time away from the nursing home.  I'll be back tomorrow, though.  The drs. never did get back with my sister about whether or not they would take Mother into their program at the hospital that is designed for seniors with issues like Mother's.  I guess I'll get to deal with all that starting tomorrow.  I am just praying that they can find some combination of meds that can keep her calm, but not so knocked out that she can't even eat!
My sister walked into her room last night and she was saying, "Brick by brick, brick by brick, brick by brick."  My sister discerned that she was referring to when they tore down the old elementary and high school buildings in our town.  What was humorous was that Mother's roommate joined in by saying, "Daddy, take it down brick by brick, brick by brick, etc..............."  Sometimes laughing to keep from crying helps!  Sometimes it's hard to do, but I have decided that a POSITIVE ATTITUDE is the healthiest one I can have, not only for myself, but for Mother, too.   I am really going to TRY!!!!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

my other blog

I already wrote about Mother on my other blog tonight.  Seeing as how I'm on my daughter's computer and should be helping her decorate for a birthday party, I won't repeat myself, so if you are interested in what's going on just go to my other site.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Hand Slap

Today, I got a phone call from the administrator of the nursing home, who was on speaker phone with the administrative assistant (or whatever her title is).  They called to tell me that last night Mother complained that one of the CNAs had slapped her hand off of the nurses' call button.  Mother has been crying and screaming out a lot the last few days, so I know the CNAs get frustrated.  She must have been calling the nurses constantly, but that does not give this CNA the right to slap Mother or in any way be hateful to her.  This is my least favorite of all the CNAs.  She has been rude to Mother and other residents times that I have witnessed.  However, when she knows a family member is watching and listening, she gets sugary sweet.  Yuk, I hate that!  Anyway, I've never complained about her, and now I realize that I should have.  Mother has told me before that she is hateful.  She's been working on the other hall recently, so she hasn't been Mother's CNA, but the night before last she was on Mother's hall.  Anyway, the head nurse on duty took Mother's complaint seriously and actually sent this CNA home for the rest of the shift.  The administrator and his assistant interviewed her this morning, and, of course, she denied any wrong doing.  But, there have been other complaints against her, and she has been suspended until at least the first of next week when a review of her overall employment record can be reviewed.  I did tell the Adm. today how I felt about this woman.  He did not seem at all surprised.  He told me that she may lose her job completely, not because of this one incident, but because of a compilation of all of the complaints that have been made against her over her time working there.  It is obvious to me that she hates her job.  She's always sighing and acting as if everything she has to do is such a BIG deal.  I think that being a CNA in a nursing home would be one of the hardest jobs there can be anywhere.  I have watched and witnessed, though, and have seen the love and compassion that most of them have for their residents.  Most of them are devoted to these folks.  I have talked with some of these ladies and I've learned that most of them try to treat their residents like they would want their own parents or grandparents to be treated. 
I hope that if this woman loses her job, that she can find something soon that suits her more!
I feel good that this issue is being dealt with rather than being ignored. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Can Hear Myself in My Daughter

A couple of days ago, Lil E, our almost 3 year old granddaughter, who just became a big sis, was whining about something.  We were having trouble understanding what she was saying.  Her mom kept saying, "Lil E, you have to talk in your normal voice and stop crying so we can understand what it is you want."  Oh my, that's exactly what I've been saying to my mother lately.  It really hit me how the circle of life goes from babyhood, to childhood, to adulthood, and back to babyhood ( if a person lives long enough.)  I hope I don't live that long!  I hope that whatever age I am when all that begins is the last age I attain!  My mom feels that way, too.  The other day, when she was having a really good day, she was bemoaning the fact that she couldn't do anything for herself anymore, that she has to rely completely on others for her EVERY need.  She wanted shoes, which she hasn't worn in about three years because she can't walk.  She wanted her pocketbook, which I keep at my house, because someone at the nursing home might take it. (I actually took one of her pocketbooks to her.  I just put some stuff in it along with her billfold that had nothing of importance in it, but she knew the difference and it was not the RIGHT purse.  Oh well, I tried.)   She wanted her phone, which we disconnected because she can't hear to talk on it anymore.  She wanted me to leave her some checks, which I can't do because they might be stolen.  She wanted lots and lots of things and to do things that she can't do anymore.  It is so hard to see my mom so helpless and sad.  I'd rather see her doped up so that she doesn't know what's happening.  I guess that's mean of me to say, but it is true!!

Life does continue to cycle, as I said.  We have a new little granddaughter who was born just a few days ago.  She is beautiful and so calm!  I wrote a little more about her on my other blog that's linked at the top right of this one.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Here We Go Again

Oh well, I guess it was too good to last!  Mother had 2 or 3 really good days, and then I went out of town.  She has had a rough time since I left.  But, my husband is checking on her everyday, because he's still home.  My cousins and sister will all be going to check on her during the time I'm away. 
I was really hoping that the change in medicines was going to make the difference.  Perhaps, over time, it will.  Perhaps she needs more time to get the old stuff out of her system. 
Also, I think she was trying extra, extra hard just before I left to make me feel better about leaving.  She wanted to show me that she could laugh and smile and be happy.  Now, that I'm not there, she doesn't have to pretend anymore. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mother made me laugh

For several days now, Mother has just been crying and crying and crying, uncontrollably!!  She would say she didn't know why she was crying or she would make up some silly something, like, "I was itching last night."  So, tonight when I went in to the dining room for supper, I found her sitting there in anticipation.  She looked up and said, "I know what L can name the baby.  Beulah P_________!"  I nearly fell over from this humor coming from my mom.  Okay, the story behind this is...... my grandmother's name was Beulah Augusta P_______ (I don't want to give the last name because it would be identifying my family that I want to protect from some crazies out there in cyber space.  I truly doubt that anyone reading this blog is crazy, but you never know.)  Anyway, my grandparents named my mother Beulah Ruth.  She hated the Beulah part so much that when she went to college she signed everything B. Ruth and wouldn't tell anyone what the B stood for.  So, all of her college friends called her Beanie.  To this day, the ones who are still alive and able call her that!  Now, for the P_______.  My dad named me Julia P__________.  I, too, hated this name and rarely ever told anyone what it was.  When I married I essentially dropped that name and just used my maiden name as my middle name.  All the years that I taught, I never would tell my students my middle name.  It got to be a real challenge for them to see if they could guess it.  No one ever did!  Whew!!  Anyway, I guess you really had to be a part of this NAME HATING and to have been there tonight when Mother suggested this name, but I promise you, it was hilarious.  She had tried very hard today to think of something funny to say to me when I came tonight.  She told one of the CNAs that she didn't want to cry in front of me tonight, and she didn't.  I think that the adjustments in her meds are starting to work!!!  She was lucid, even though she's been crying, for a couple of days now.   Such an improvement!!!!!!  Hallelujah!!!!
I'll be gone for a month to visit my daughter, who is going to present us with our 6th grandchild very soon, and her husband and almost 3 year old.  My husband, sister, cousins, etc... are going to be holding down the fort here in the SE.  My husband will join me out West later on, but my sister will be here that whole week staying at our house. So, I probably won't be updating this blog much, if any, while I'm gone.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Painting on the windows and.........

I won't put all of the paintings on this site since I put them on my   site, but I thought I'd share this one.  
Things have been anything but sunny for Mother the last few days.  I always say, "You have to laugh to keep from crying," but there are days when I just can't laugh.  Yesterday was one of them.  Mother kept saying something that we couldn't understand and that only frustrated her more so that her voice became even harder to understand. 
Finally, I realized that she was asking me if I could see myself in the mirror.  
When I told her, "Yes," she said she wanted to see herself.  So, I found the activity director who had a hand mirror that they use on the days that the ladies get all prettied up with make-up, etc...  I held the mirror for Mother to see and she did not like what she saw.  I really hadn't thought about the fact that she hasn't seen herself in a really long time.  I have no idea when she last looked in a mirror.  Anyway, she wanted to know what she could do to look better. 
I said, "Well, we could put make-up on you, but you don't need it because you look pretty the way you are."  
Make-up was the WRONG thing to say to this lady who never has had any make-up on in her entire life.  She didn't think a person should wear make-up, dye his/her hair, or have pierced ears,  etc.....  She said that is not what God intended, etc....  I had to sneak and buy my first make-up when my sister suggested that's what I should do.  When I started coloring my hair to cover the gray and got my ears pierced Mother wasn't happy, but seeing as how I was a grown married woman by then there wasn't much she could say about it.  
So, when I said the M word, she freaked out and wanted it washed off, now!  
Now!  Wash it off now!
She was finally consoled when I washed and washed and washed her face.  Then she wanted to get out of her chair.  
I want out of my chair.  Get me out of my chair, now.  Please get me out of my chair.  Why won't you get me out of my chair.
All of this was taking place in the dining room just before lunch time, so there were other residents and some of their family members there.  I asked one of the CNAs if we could just take Mother and put her to bed.  I would feed her in her room.
Oh yeah, Mother loves tomato sandwiches, so I had taken her a couple of slices from a tomato that we had just gotten from the garden, a couple of slices of bread, some mayonnaise, salt and pepper.  I made her a sandwich. This was sometime between the mirror episode and the wanting out of her chair.  When we went to her room, I just left the sandwich on the table - she refused to eat it or anything.
After we got her settled in bed, I went back to the dining room and found another resident eating her sandwich!  Some of the staff thought I'd be upset!  I just laughed.  I'm glad he enjoyed the sandwich since Mother didn't.  This man eats off everyone's trays if no one is watching.  He's hungry!!!  They usually bring him two trays of food.  He's very thin so it's not going to hurt him!
Mother went to sleep, finally, and didn't really wake up again until just before supper time tonight.  When she woke up I was arranging her family photographs.  They keep falling off her bulletin board so I bought two poster frames and put them in those.  I hope this works.  We need to have them fixed where they can be moved out of her room on those nights when she is dreaming that bad things are happening to children.  (Remember that she was a social worker for the Department of Children Services.)I've decided that when she sees these photos it upsets her sometimes.  But, on her good days, she loves seeing them.  She woke up wanting a bath mat?  It took me a while to realize that she meant bath robe.  She really doesn't have a robe at the nursing home because if she's up in her chair, she's dressed in her clothes.  So, I got one of her shawls that I made her, and that satisfied her, sort of anyway.  She kept saying that she needed to be ready when the people come.  I told her that no one was coming.  I WAS WRONG!  Our preacher actually did come.  
She looked up at me and said, "I told you people were coming."  I guess she got me.  Ha!
It's just so frustrating for me, the staff, and Mother when we can't understand what it is she wants.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Life Gets in the Way................

of my posting on this blog lately...........................!!!!
First of all, as I may or may not have posted here, my mom has had pneumonia.  It was caught early and she's really doing well.  Her meds have been adjusted and so far, knock on wood, etc....she seems to be doing better as far as her anxiety levels, etc.... go.
My brother has a staph infection in his leg/hip from having hip replacement surgery on May 27th.  He was doing well, but he started running a fever about 2 weeks ago, then he started having extreme pain in his leg, bad enough that he called his wife to leave work to take him to the emergency room.  They took blood, put him on antibiotics and sent him home.  The next day, they called him to come back  to be admitted to the hospital to be hooked up to IV antibiotics because of the STAPH!!!  They went back in and took out part of the prosthesis, cleaned it all out, drained 4 liters of YUK, replaced what they took out, put in a drain, sewed him back up, and then hooked him back up to antibiotics and iron by IV.  Finally, yesterday, he got to go home...with the IV still hooked up for at least 6 - 8 weeks.  Home Health will come to his house to help him with this.  He is not out of the woods and won't be till the 6 -8 week period is over and they find the infection is gone!!!!  Prayers that this will be the scenario!

I haven't felt too well myself so I finally went to the doctor on Tuesday of this week.  I tried to go on Monday, but due to the 4th holiday my doctor's office was closed.  I saw a different doctor in his group on Tuesday.  Anyway, it seems that I have strep throat!  I haven't had strep throat since I was a teen!!!  That's been about 42 years ago!!!  Anyway, I really didn't feel good, knew that my tonsils looked rough, but didn't expect this.  I am better now, though, after being on antibiotics by mouth and getting 2 shots!

Yesterday, I got a call from one of Mother's nurses that she was fussing because she wanted cough syrup (I did tell you she has pneumonia, right?  Is cough syrup an unreasonable request?), a mint (again she has a dry throat, unreasonable?), and her pictures had fallen in the floor (She has LOTS of pictures of her 9 great grands, and 2 great nephews and one of the CNAs knocked a bunch of them off the wall by being careless with Mother's chair or something.  Again....unreasonable?)  This nurse was rattled because she didn't have time to deal with all of Mother's demands!!!!!  Uh, she had time to call me!  Oh well, I told her I had strep and didn't really need to be around Mother, even though I'd been going everyday up until I found out what I had, but she seemed so distressed that I decided to go.  When I got there, Mother was whiny, but she wasn't yelling like the lady next door, or crying, like her roommate, so I really don't know why I was called.  This nurse said she thought I wanted to be called before they ever gave Mother meds to calm her down.  UH.............this same nurse has given Mother all kinds of meds before, but she's never called me first!  Actually, since Mother's meds were adjusted I don't feel the need to know every time they give her something.  I never asked to be called every time anyway, just when she was inconsolable.  She was not like this at all yesterday.
I was feeling so rotten, though, that I'm afraid I wasn't very nice to either this nurse or my Mother.  I kind of lost my temper, not too badly, but badly enough to make me feel awful!  I told Mother that she needed to be more patient.  That's like telling a 2 year old that he/she can't have a lollipop when they are right in front of him/her.  Anyway, I also let this nurse know that I felt like her call was unnecessary.  I had called to let the nursing home staff know that I wouldn't be there for a day or two, but obviously that word wasn't passed on to this nurse.  My biggest complaint about this home is the lack of communication among the staff members.  I talked to the PR person about this issue yesterday.

I've been asked to paint the windows across the front of the nursing home.  I'm going to try to get it done next week.  This won't be as big a project as the fence.  This is a temporary painting that I hope I get to change on occasion with the season changes, etc.......

Friday, July 2, 2010

More from mother's view...........

I'm going to try to summarize and capture the events and the thoughts that went through Mother's head when she moved to the nursing home she's in now.

Me to Mother - Since S is moving to __ maybe you should move to a nursing home that is closer to me.  I've been to ones in ______________, ______________, _______________, and in ______________. (All the nursing homes in towns between where she was and my home town, which is about a 60 mile distance.)  I really think the one at home is the best choice.  What do you think?
Mother - I don't want to move to that one, because it's awful!  Remember how bad it was when your Aunt C was there?  I don't want to go to the  one in _________________ either.  But, whatever is best for you.
Me - I've been to all of these different nursing homes, and really the one at home is as good if not better than the others.  They have a new director and everyone says it is so much better than it used to be.  And, K__H__ is a nurse there, and G__H__, and J__H__, and P__T__, and .........................  (These are all people she has known all her life.  There are more than this who she knew, as well.)

Mother - Well, whatever you say.......................
Later - Mother's thoughts.................I guess it doesn't matter where I am.  If I have to be in a nursing home what difference does it make.  Julia says the one at home has changed.  I trust her, so I guess I'll just go to that one if I have to move to another one.  I could just stay here.  I really like L, (the CNA who took care of her most often).  I really don't know why I have to move.  B still lives here, and he can come to see me everyday.  But, Julia has to drive so far.  I hate for her to do that.  And, B still works and Julia is retired so I guess it makes sense.  I wish S wasn't moving, but she needs to because her health is so bad.  I guess I'll just tell them to move me back home.

A few days later Mother is moved by ambulance to the nursing home that is only 5 minutes from my house.  Her first room is tiny!!  Her roommate is a lady she's known all her life who broke her hip and had just moved in that day, too.  Did I mention that the room was tiny?  I mean, you could barely get the gerry chair that mother had to have in the room and between the beds.  The bed was a manual hand cranked relic.  We asked to have Mother put on the waiting list for a bigger room and to get her a bed she could operate herself.   She did get a new, somewhat larger room after just a few weeks, but that meant not being with this lady who she had known forever.  But, she knew her new roommate, too.  She had worked with this lady's daughter.  (It's a small town!)  The room was a little bigger and was satisfactory for a while.
Mother's thoughts..................... I wish I wasn't in the last room down this long hallway.  I think the nurses and aides forget I'm here sometimes, and I'm always the last one they come to get for dinner and activities.  I really don't like this room.  Ms. C, (her roommate) keeps getting into my stuff.  I saw her eating some of my candy.  When I tell her it's mine, she just looks at me and eats it anyway.  I've told Julia that I don't like this room, but she doesn't seem to believe me about being the last one they get to and all that.  I wish she would take up for me more.  It seems like she just believes everything the people here tell her.  She doesn't believe that I'm the last one who gets fed at meal times when she's not here, either.
Me to staff members - Mother tells me she is usually the last one who ya'll get ready for meals and activities, and that she's always the last one fed when I'm not here.
Staff members (different ones at different times) - She's right.  We start at the other end of the hall and since she's in the last room, she is the last one we get to.  And, since she's not diabetic, she does get fed toward the end of the meals.  We have to feed the diabetics first.
Me - Couldn't the CNAs rotate which end of the hall they start on each day?  Couldn't Mother be one of the first, who's not diabetic, to be fed?
Staff - Well, we should do it that way, but we don't.
So, I just made sure I was always there for nearly every meal.  That way she could be fed as soon as her tray came out.

A month or so after the move to this new room.......................
Mother - "Did you know that Honey (my grandmother who died in 1972) came to see me today?"

Me to floor nurse - Mother is confused today, that always means she has a UTI. Would you do a urinalysis on her today?
Nurse - Oh, okay.

Next day - Mother is still confused.
Me - Did you get the urinalysis done?
Nurse  No, not yet.  We couldn't get her to pee when we tried.
Me - Please try again.  I know that she has a UTI because that's the only time she gets confused like this, and if it doesn't get stopped she'll just get a whole lot worse.
Nurse  - Sure.  (But she didn't and Mother did get worse!)
Mother - Tell those children to stop running around and making so much noise.  Did you see those little girls jumping out of that doll house hanging on my wall?  I need to go to Mother's funeral (my grandmother died in 1972).  Please get me dressed so I can go to Mother's funeral.  Why won't anyone get me dressed?  Help me!  Help!  Help....................... on and on

Nurse K  calls me to tell me that Mother needs to go to the hospital.  Well, of course she does.  The UTI has gotten really bad!!!

The hospital stay was short.  The doctors got her on antibiotics, and changed every other medicine she was on, as well (another story for another day).  
When she came back to the nursing home, they asked if I wanted her in still another room.  Yea!!!  This room was on a different hall, and were still a little bigger than even the 2nd one she was in.  And, she would be just a few doors down from an outside door and the nurses station.  This was great news.  I love the CNAs and floor nurses on this hall.  My sister doesn't have so far to walk when she comes, and with her health issues that's important.  But, mostly I was happy because she would not always be last to go to the dining room, etc......................

To be continued.........................