Thursday, March 31, 2011


Wednesday, Dave took Mom out for lunch. They met at their favorite place, Pie in the Sky. Dave said after greeting and getting settled, Mom's first words were:

"Well, I think I'm winding down. I sleep more. I think slow. I have to re-read things several times. I move slow.

But don't take my car away!"

You have to love her spirit!

I called Mom later in the day to ask about her blood pressure. She had taken a reading that was better. And she had taken one that was evidently not so good. Mom was very vague and moved on to another topic. I probed.

Gwen: So what were the numbers?

Mom: Oh, I didn't even write it down. You know, Nurse Christy said not to take my blood pressure after physical exertion and I had just wheeled the trash can to the curb. I didn't like it so I didn't write it down.

Gwen: You know, you could write it down and then make a note about what you had been doing.

Mom: Yes, I could. Let's talk about something else.

This morning at Ladies' Bible Study, Mom had a little post it note with her numbers from today. She was very pleased that they were back to 130s/80s. She seemed much perkier too. Maybe the slowdown was just a blip. Or maybe Mom will be up and down from day to day like Dad was. Only God knows, and He's not telling.

Speaking of not telling, Mom told me Wednesday that she took some of the medicine intended to treat diarrhea. The medicine she wouldn't take when she had six days in a row of constant symptoms. What?

Gwen: Why did you take the medicine?

Mom: I was tired of having the trots.

Gwen: I thought you weren't having diarrhea anymore.

Mom: Not after I took that medicine!

What? So either she was still having diarrhea, but fibbed about it to Nurse Christy and to me, or she is confused about taking her medicine. Which would bring up a whole nother issue.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monitor Madness

Tonight as Karis and I were taking a college tour, Bill texted to let me know Mom was having trouble with her blood pressure monitor. She hasn't used it in a long time, probably months, but the Nurse Christy asked her to take readings tonight and for the next couple of days since it was so high today. Karis and I stopped by, thinking maybe there was a simple solution. Mom had already replaced the batteries. I tried on Mom. I tried on me. It just wasn't working.

Mom said she would take it up to Walmart. Karis suggested CVS, since the machine said CVS on it. (That's my girl.) Karis and I took it to CVS. They proudly told us of their CVS policy; since it was a CVS brand product, they would replace it. But...they were out of that model. And most any other model for that matter. They could order it, but it wouldn't be in until next week. Which doesn't really help my mother with high blood pressure tonight, now does it? On we go to the next CVS. Nada. They call yet another CVS for us. No. So after some deliberation and some advice from my big brother, we bought a blood pressure monitor and headed back to Mom's.

Mom, of course, was appalled that we had purchased a new machine. And her blood pressure was down nicely, 127/77. So Karis and I drove through for Blizzards and went home. All's well that ends well.

Winding Down?

I stopped by to visit Mom today. She is tired. She is slow, physically and mentally. Mom had constant diarrhea from Wednesday until yesterday, six unrelenting days. She even had diarrhea in the night while she slept. Although she still had an appetite and continued eating and drinking, she has lost four pounds since last Tuesday. Mom's blood pressure is up (150s over 90s) and her oxygen saturation level is down (low 80s). The temperature was down in the 60s today and Mom was bundled in her LASD sweats. Still, her hands were so cold that she kept them clenched together.

And, in case you didn't know by now what kind of woman Mom is, during all this she has carried on. She attended Bible Study Fellowship last Wednesday. She hosted my sister along with her husband and two of her children Wednesday through Saturday. She had my family over for dinner Thursday night. She attended church on Sunday, although she turned down a lunch invitation for fear of an accident. The woman just doesn't stop!

It seems, though, that maybe she is winding down. I guess mettle, willpower, and sheer subbornness can only get you so far. Thankfully, Mom has Jesus to carry her all the way.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Who teaches the 2- and 3-year-olds at your church? If you are a parent of a child in this class, you are thankful to have a teacher for your little one. If you are a superintendant or children's ministry coordinator, you know how hard it is to fill this teaching slot.

Well, for years and years and years, my mom was the 2- and 3-year-old teacher. If you popped your head in to her classroom, you would find her sitting on the floor telling a Bible story, or handing out snack and saying "Thank you God for graham crackers," or having all the children hold a knot in the rope so they could go for a nature walk. She treated the children gently, never forcing a child to participate, making them feel welcome, comfortable and secure with her regular presence.

I learned so much from Mom when I helped in her class. I figured everyone admired her for her gentle style and faithful service, but a few weeks ago, Mom told me she had been criticized for not presenting the gospel to the children. What??? She would not tell me who had proffered the criticism (perhaps concerned I would snatch the person baldheaded?), but it had clearly been hurtful to her.

I can't tell you how happy I was to get an e-mail from my sister with a copy of a Facebook message from an old friend of Mom's.

"...I just wanted you to know that I think so often of your mother! Many, many years ago (about 40, actually!) I was able to help her for a time as she taught a preschool Sunday School class at [name of church]. This was absolutely my first exposure to Bible stories and young children and I fell in love with both, largely due to your mom. When she moved away, she gave me a gift of a beautiful children's Bible, which I still have on my bookshelf. I am still very active teaching young children about the Lord and hope to do this for the rest of this life. While I'm certain that your mother would not remember me or letting me "help"in her classroom, I wanted you to know what a profound impact she had on my life!"

How perfect! How like God to send an encouragement for Mom as she questions the validity of one of her lifelong ministries. I shared this friend's words with Mom and it put a big smile of wonderment on her face. God is good.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wanna Hear Something Sweet?

Last week, I received this text from a friend.

Visited your sweet daddy today. Told him "It's alright" from Brandon Heath song. Praying you are sheltered in the wings of our father today.

I was so touched that my friend was thinking of my dad and went to visit his grave. I'm teary-eyed now just writing about it. She said God put it in her heart. This friend is going through not just a winter season right now, but a blizzard of heartbreak, injustice and loss. And still she thought of my dad and me.

Not a Random Act of Kindness. A God-nudged, thoughtful act of kindness.

I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Growing Up, Growing Old

One of the really nice things about living in the same town as your parents is that your children get to grow up knowing their grandparents. I've been poring over pictures as Karis nears graduation. We need photos for a graduation slideshow, senior table, senior issue of school newsletter, and yearbook page.

I love that we started here.

And got to here.

And here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break

The kids and I (plus a friend) stopped by to visit Mom Wednesday afternoon. She was out on the back patio enjoying the fine spring weather. Of course, we were all in shorts and t-shirts and Mom was dressed in sweats to stay warm, but the sunshine is so nice. Mom's azaleas are blooming and she has a new dogwood tree waiting to be planted. She went to the county extension plant sale on Saturday and came home with, of all things, a pomegranate tree! Who knew?

And here's the thing I admire so much about Mom: She went early on Saturday so she could hear the lecture about which plant varieties do well in our part of the state. Please remind yourself that Mom is 90 and has terminal cancer. I love that she is learning and growing all the time.

Mental Note: Be like Mom; never stop learning and growing.

P.S.--Happy Birthday, Ruthie!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened At Dinner Last Night

Last night at dinner, we were discussing the disastrous events in Japan. Mom commented that she was concerned for her niece who was in Maui, trying to sell a condo. Then she wondered aloud how close Hawaii is to Japan. She said, "My sister told me she could see Japan from Maui. Is that right?" Perry diplomatically said he didn't think so, but I nearly spewed my drink as I considered the source. Of course Aunt Helen could see Japan from Maui!

Mom's Newsletter Article

Here is the article Mom wrote for our women's ministry newsletter on seasons.

My enthusiasm tends to sign me up when I am not wanting the work! Of course, I am in the winter season. God has done it again; He has saved the best for last.

Your children do not rise up and call you blessed when they are at home. The blessings come after they leave home. They drive for miles to spend two- and three-week intervals nursing their father so he does not have to go to a nursing home. My husband's physical stature was too much of a challenge for me. My children would warn me about Dad falling and that I would just add to the broken bones, so I was asked to go in the next room and pray when they walked him to the bedroom.

"The house of the righteous contains great treasure" (Proverbs 15:6). "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children" (Proverbs 13:22). Dad was often going over his plans for the amount he wanted to give to each child. It has been my joy to write the checks! Bill, our first son, gave of his time and expertise so I could have the joy of giving in my winter season.

In my winter season I have had the delight of reading the best book I have ever read on marriage! "It is in the special fire of covenant relationships that the keenest and brightest edges are being honed. For we stand in the light of others, and that light reveals to us who we ourselves are."

Indulge me one more quote and you will know why I love the winter season. "In our pleasant little fantasies of omnipotence and blamelessness and self sufficiency, marriage explodes like a bomb -- an unrelenting guerrilla war against selfishness."

Only when we see Him will we be as He is! "HUSBANDS ARE A GODSEND!!"

Typical, obscure Mom. At least, obscure to me. As I read over and over Mom's article, I tried to tie together the threads of incomplete thoughts and get to her point. Her first paragraph was such a lovely introduction, then I couldn't understand how the rest tied in. I think maybe that the second paragraph is intended to be thankful for children, the third to be thankful for financial provision, and the fourth to be thankful for her husband. The fifth paragraph did not at all make clear to me why winter is Mom's favorite season, so I asked her.

She said that she finally feels like she has made some progress at this point in her life, like she sort of gets what life is about. And that soon she will be made perfect when she is with God.

Her closing line I think was to make a point. She told me she thinks women don't like to talk about their husbands being a Godsend in their lives. And yesterday she told me that she feels the only Godsend she's ever had was Dad. Which is sweet of her to think of Dad as a Godsend, but really? He was the only person God ever sent into her life to make a difference for good? Sweet, but either near-sighted or sad.

Again in typical Mom fashion, she wondered aloud why no one had discussed her article with her. She said she thought quotes were the only way to communicate about marriage, but marveled that no one had commented on the quotes. She said people only said things like, "I liked your article." I suggested that if she wanted to use the quotes as a conversation starter, to respond to article compliments with a question like, "What did you think about the quote that said ________________?". She thought that was an amazingly good idea. Social skills, we need social skills.

Anyway, I did have a lovely conversation with Mom on her back patio in the beautiful spring weather. And then Mom, Ev, Perry, Noelle and I went out to MacKenzies for barbecue and onion rings. It doesn't get much better than that. :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I may have been outed on Thursday. Our ladies' bible study leader reads my blog. She liked the Nichole Nordeman song lyrics so much that she printed them out. And made copies. And handed them out Thursday morning, mentioning that I had posted this on my blog.

Did I mention Mom also attends ladies' bible study? Yikes! Have my days of free therapy come to an end?

Two things I have working in my favor:

1) Mom's hearing is getting worse and worse. She misses a lot. A lot. In fact, at the end of the study, one of the ladies youtubed the song on her phone so we could all listen. Mom just got up and left because she couldn't hear it. (Typical Mom. Never mind social guidelines and niceties; she was done, so she left.)

2) Mom seemed pretty disconnected Thursday morning. I think her mind was somewhere else. Maybe the purple room? She just wasn't engaged.

After Mom's abrupt exit, I did mention to the ladies that Mom doesn't know about my blog. My leader was mortified with herself, but I told her I didn't think Mom noticed. Maybe we all need to practice our evasive techniques, just in case Mom asks any questions. Maybe something like:

"Hmm? What's that? Yes, I know Gwen has a dog. Nate saved up and got one from the shelter. Say, did you notice that beautiful redbud on the way here? What did you think about Rush today? Did you catch Dan Patrick? Wasn't Hannity a hoot last night?"

I'm not asking anyone to lie. Just evade, distract and divert. It never hurts to be prepared.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What's in Your Desk?

Today the girls and I moved the contents of Dad's desk and credenza into boxes. (We think it is funny that Mom didn't want Gayle to come again because "there was nothing for her to do". This is our second Saturday in a row to clean out/box up something at Mom's request.) My brother Bill had waded through the drawers stuffed with files and weeded them down to just one drawer, so we didn't need to do any sorting. We lifted the files into a box and then began pulling things out of the nooks and crannies. And in a 3 X 6 desk, there are a lot of nooks and crannies!

We found 3 nail files. Mom said, "No wonder Dad could never find a nail file!"

We found business cards that had English on one side and Chinese on the other.

We found a stack of business cards from when Dad was in the army, with a sheet of tissue paper between each card.

We found a handwritten prayer list for George W. Bush.

We found handwritten letters to elected officials.

We found a book of matches from Tenkiller State Park.

We found children's artwork.

We found little bits of Dad's life history in every drawer, behind every door. It was very sweet and a little bit sad. All these artifacts and much more are boxed and in the guest room, waiting to be passed along to the next generation.

It makes me wonder...what if someone cleaned out my desk and files? What would those bits and pieces say about me, about my life? Hmmm, I think it's a good thing that one of my goals for Spring Break is to clean out closets and cabinets.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Strike One

I don't think Mom likes the color I chose for the study.

The study originally was my big brother's room when we moved here in the 70's. Then after Loren moved out, it became Dad's office. There were shelves on the wall, the kind with vertical metal rails with slots that you put metal arms into that support the shelves. Not pretty, but they held a lot of books and bible studies. Dad's massive executive desk, chair and credenza filled the room, along with his Schwinn exercise bike. Odds and ends were stuffed into the closet. Half of one wall was papered with a subdued plaid and the rest of the room was painted a bamboo color. It has the same berber carpet that runs through the whole house.

This is the room Mom has chosen to be her room when she is confined to bed. She likes the light that comes in the one window. She asked Perry to work on this room as soon as he finished the master closet. She says, "You never know," which I interpret to mean, "I might need this room soon." I had a decorator friend come over and help me with colors. She and I agreed on Sherwin Williams Grape Mist for the study/bedroom conversion. Perry removed the shelves, prepped the walls and painted.

And I don't think Mom likes the color. She says things like, "That room is transformed!" And, "It is a bedroom now." But when I ask her what she thinks of the paint color, she doesn't answer. She did ask once, "Meg and Karis like that color?" *sigh*

Mom likes purple. She wears it a lot. In fact, she wants to be buried in a purple dress. I really thought she would like the purple room. What to do, what to do. It is hard to address, since she won't answer directly. (Please note previous thoughts on poor family communication and passive-aggressive tendencies.) And it is disappointing to to follow orders and pick out colors for someone else's house, only to face disapproval.

I'll go over today and view the finished product. Maybe Mom will adjust. She did seem crabby and out-of-sorts yesterday at Ladies' Bible Study. Maybe she'll see things differently today. *sigh* Or maybe this whole remodeling thing was a bad idea.

Postscript (Saturday): Yes! Mom seems genuinely happy about the room, color and all. We went over today to unload Dad's big desk and credenza so they will be ready to move out. Mom said the room makes her think how God makes all things new.