Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve

Goodbye, 2011. I will not miss you.

And please God, let 2012 be fresh woods and pastures new.

Peace Party

Mom wanted us to come over for a "peace party." She wanted to be sure "nothing comes between us." She wanted me to pick a night when all of us could come for dinner. I called Tuesday and asked her if tonight, Saturday, would be okay. Karis would be off work, plus we could celebrate New Year's Eve as well as Mom and Dad's anniversary. Mom was amazed I would plan so far in advance. And she had forgotten about her anniversary. Okay.

We went this afternoon at 4:00 so we could make a couple of gluten-free pizzas for our dinner. Mom was sleeping in Dad's red chair when we arrived. She had on a pair of sweats with an additional hoodie on top, was covered with an afghan, and had her rice bag for her hands. It was in the 70s today. Mom was happy to see us, even wanted to visit. When the pizzas began to bake, she went to the table and sat down. Food is still one of her greatest joys and I guess she just couldn't wait any longer! We had pizza and salad, and toasted the new year with sparkling apple juice.

Mom napped in the chair again while we cleaned up the kitchen. Oddly enough, she did not want the kids to take down Christmas decorations yet. Mom also showed no interest in her usual Saturday show, Huckabee. She wanted to write some checks, and then we headed home.

Peace party accomplished.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Pep Talk

A friend, a former-first-grade-student friend, posted this passage on facebook today. Truth I really needed to remember.

If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back?
Run-of-the-mill sinners do that.
If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal?
Garden-variety sinners do that.
If you only give for what you hope to get out of it,
do you think that's charity?
The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

I tell you, love your enemies.
Help and give without expecting a return.
You'll never—I promise—regret it.
Live out this God-created identity
the way our Father lives toward us,
generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst.
Our Father is kind;
you be kind.

Luke 6:32-36, The Message

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Will you please join me in praying for a friend who is traveling right now to be at her mother's bedside as she leaves this world for the next? My friend has been caring for her mom following a cancer diagnosis, but had gone home to spend a few days with her family. Thank you.

Friday Update:

And she's gone. My friend made it, spent the last night with her mom, then just before dawn she flew away.

I remember years ago my sister telling me about the church to which they were ministering. She said, "You know how you have a time in your life when all your friends are getting married, then you have a time when all your friends are having kids? Well, these people are at a time in their life when all their friends are dying." Clearly, they were at a church filled with elderly people. I've only had a few of my friends die so far. But right now, it does seem that we are in a time in our lives where many of our friends' parents are passing.

My heart goes out to them.


I have a friend who says, "It's the kindnesses that undo me." I don't know if that is a universal truth, and it may well be, but it certainly is true for me. Last Monday, the day I got booted out of Mom's life, two things stand out to me, two kindnesses that wrapped themselves around my shocked and hurting heart.

As I was texting back and forth with Dave, after he got through all the basic questions like "What the heck?" (but he would never actually say what the anything, that was just poetic license on my part), he asked, "Do you want me to come get you?" That meant so much to me, that my man would come and get me. He has said to me before, "You don't always have to be the big girl," and I love knowing that he will take care of me.

Later on in the day, I was talking with Dave's mom about plans for Christmas Day, since my schedule had just opened up. Way up. After talking a bit, she said these lovely words: "Of course, we would love to have you all with us for Christmas." I teared up right then, and am now as I remember the comfort in those words. She wanted us, all of us, to be with her.

Typing these out, I realize how small they must sound. Maybe even insignificant. But to me, these two kindnesses were the antidote, the antivenin for a very heartsick day.

Where Are You Christmas?

So, Christmas came.

Mom did indeed attend the lovely Christmas Eve service at our church. She came in with her walker and sat in her usual spot. Her many fans were happy to see her. Then Mom had Karis stop by Mama Juanitas on the way home. She waited in the car while Karis picked up two orders of fajitas to go. Mom told Karis she wanted to celebrate!

After she filled her grandma's stocking, Karis came and spent the night at our house so she could be with us for Christmas morning. Funny how teenagers have to be woken up to open gifts! We had a delightful Christmas morning together. I just love these people. Then we were off to Dave's folks' for the rest of the day. Dave's family has always been warm and welcoming, so spending time with them is a treat. And Dave's mom loves Christmas. I think gift-giving is her love language, and she speaks it well. Thanks, Grammie, for lavishing your love on us!

My mom was also invited for the day, and chose to come at dinnertime. Karis zipped home to get her. Mom loved the meal, enjoyed the dessert, and even asked to hold our newest baby niece. Then she was done, and asked Karis to take her home.

We helped clean up a bit, then were ready to head home as well. In fact, after Mom left, I felt all my Christmas cheer ebbing away, replaced by a strange melancholy. I ended up in bed with a throbbing head shortly after we got home. I know Mom is very happy with the way things are now, and I will continue to honor her wishes by ignoring her, but I miss her. Mom is so frail and I know this will be her last Christmas.

I miss her already.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Phone Call

I had a phone call from Mom the other day. She said she didn't realize how abrupt she was being Monday morning until she saw my countenance as I loaded up my car. But then she didn't know what to do, so she didn't do anything. Mom said she hoped I could forgive her for being so cold. And that if I felt bad, then I should remember how she ate two helpings of dinner one night.

So that's that.

Mom has accepted my mother-in-law's invitation to Christmas dinner. She also left me a message saying she thinks she will come to the Christmas Eve service so she can hear our friend Noelle sing. If she goes through with these plans, it will be her first time out of the house in weeks. Sounds good.

For my part, I have been soaking in time with my family and getting ready for Christmas. Both are good for my soul.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


We had some wild and crazy lightning last night and somewhere in the mix it seems our computer or monitor or both got spiked. It sure sounded like something blew up. Very exciting and all, but now my internet access is pretty much limited to the public library.

I haven't heard from my mom. I'm enjoying time with my husband and children. Dave's mom is going to invite Mom over to share Christmas dinner with all of us. We will go by to fill Mom's stocking on Christmas Eve. And I'll go visit her on Monday for my weekly check-in.

Several of my friends have urged me to take the reins, so to speak, and force myself on my mom. I'm sorry, but I'm just not strong enough for that. Unless the hospice nurse tells me and Mom that kind of action is necessary, I will continue to honor Mom's wishes. I know bad things could happen. Time once again to face the fact that my mom would really, truly, literally rather die than be forced to have me and my family around.

I don't know when I'll be back online, so please text or call if you need to get in touch with me.

Monday, December 19, 2011


I got fired today.

Not from Kohl's. They were kind enough to put me on leave.

Not from Brighter Vistas. They tell me repeatedly, "Family comes first."

Today, Mom asked me to go home.

I can't explain it. There are several theories floating around, but one guess is as good as another. Although it is not surprising in the big picture of who Mom is and how she rolls, it did catch me off guard since she has been so positive and thankful about me being there. Not to mention weak, tired, and needing help.

It is not a good time for me to leave. Karis has a dear friend in from out of town and will be spending every possible moment with her for the next three days. Even on normal days, Karis has a job and school and friends. She is in and out of the house. She is 18.

I asked Mom if I could stop by daily. No.
I asked if I could bring dinner. No.
I asked if I could move the kitty's dishes to the front porch so Mom wouldn't have to negotiate the back steps. No.

Mom said I could come once a week. I started packing.

Mom: Are you okay with all this?

Gwen: No! I'm not.

Mom: What do you think I should do?

Gwen: What you do is your decision. I think you need someone here most of the time. But I've thought that for a while. Remember Loren kept talking to you about that when he was here?

Mom: No, I don't remember that.

Gwen: Is there someone you want to talk this over with before you decide?

Mom: No one. I'm talking to you.

Gwen: I will go because you want me to go. But if you change your mind, I will come back. Just call me.

Mom: [crying] But I don't want to!

Gwen: You don't have to if you don't want to. It's up to you.

Back to packing and loading the car. When I came back into the kitchen, Mom was writing a check. She handed it to me. One hundred dollars. I tried to refuse it. Mom said, "It's not nearly enough. If I were to pay someone for all you did...", and I just lost it. I ripped the check up. Mom cried out as if in pain. I said with as much voice control as I could muster, "I will go if you tell me to go, but you cannot pay me for helping you!" Gah!

Meg had spent the night, so I went to wake her up. She gathered her things. I hugged and kissed Karis and Mom. We said goodbye and drove home. The crazy, unforeseen, unwanted end. For now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Folding of the Hands to Rest

Mom is up a lot at night. A lot. When I first came and she was taking morphine, she was up every two hours like clockwork. As the nights started to meld together, I thought it might be a good idea to keep a record of when she gets up. Maybe I'm exaggerating or forgetting. You know, things from the night seem to fade from the memory and details get kind of fuzzy.

Last night I was mostly working in the kitchen after Mom went to bed around 9:00. So I don't know how many times she was up before I went to bed around 11:30. At least once, because when I walked by her room, I saw her sleeping in her rocker instead of her bed. After I went to bed, each time I heard her walker shushing down the hall, I checked my cell phone and recorded the time.

12:18 a.m.
1:23 a.m (I offered 1/2 a pill, as recommended by Nurse Christy. Mom accepted.)
3:00 a.m. (I offered the second 1/2 of the pill, as recommended by Christy. Mom declined.)
4:30 a.m.
5:58 a.m.
7:00 a.m.
8:15 a.m. (up for breakfast)

Mom is sipping a little port when she coughs. I heard her sip in the night. Loren recommended trying some whiskey, to help the cough and the sleep. I fixed Mom a hot toddy last night, which she likened to drinking furniture polish. Loren suggested just a swig straight from the bottle and Mom gave it a go right before bed. So you'd think she would sleep better.

This morning, I was praying about what to do with my record of the night. I didn't know whether to bring it up with Mom or talk it over with the hospice nurse or just let it go. Then, as she sat wearily in her kitchen chair, Mom declared, "I had a good night." As I was formulating a reply, Mom asked, "Did you hear me get up in the night?" I figured that was my opening, so I showed her the list. Mom said, "Well, that sounds about right for me. But I SLEPT!"

So I let it go at that. I don't know what to say when her perception is that she is sleeping well. That physically cannot be good sleep, right? In those short snatches? When I offered her the medication at 1:23, she at first declined, saying, "But I'm sleeping so well!" After I told her she had only slept for an hour since the last time she got up, she agreed to try the 1/2 pill. But then when she woke just an hour and a half later, she refused the second 1/2 of the pill.

I guess I will keep recording Mom's sleep habits for a few nights and then ask the hospice nurse for advice. I know their approach is to let the patient decide, so I don't know if there is any help to be had. Maybe this is just part of the whole deal.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to Deal with Telemarketers

Karis, Meg, and Ev were all over at Mom's today. While we were eating lunch, the house phone rang. Karis answered, and, after a few monosyllabic answers, hung up perfunctorily. She returned to the table.

Karis: They asked for Will.

Mom: Did you tell them he was dead?

Karis: No!

Mom: That's what I say. Then they start right in with "I'm so sorry...." That's when I hang up.

I can think of nothing to say to that.

Which I guess is pretty much the point.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mom Logic

I was sitting with Mom, watching her one and only, Sean Hannity (biting tongue, grinding teeth, and smiling). Some woman was sitting in for Sean.

Mom: I think this is a rerun.

Gwen: She just mentioned the governor endorsing Mitt Romney. When did that happen?

Mom: This morning.

Gwen: [puzzled] So if she's talking about things that happened this morning, I don't think it could be a rerun. What makes you think it's a rerun?

Mom: [obviously] Well, because I've seen it before.

Alrighty then.

Don't Say That! (part two)

This morning, Mom was especially slow getting dressed. When she finally came out to the kitchen, she sat in her chair at the counter to rest for a while before she could get her breakfast. She is wearing out. Mom admitted, "As I was dressing myself this morning, I thought, 'I could get used to Carissa. She puts on my socks AND my shoes for me.'" Pause. "She would make a good maid!"

"Carissa" is Cassandra, the CNA who comes twice a week to help Mom with personal care. Cassandra also took care of Dad, and both Mom and Dad loved her. She is quiet, gentle, dignified, helpful, respectful, and sweet. She also happens to be a different race from my family.

Gwen: Wow. Please don't say that to Cassandra!

Mom: You think that would be insulting?

Gwen: Yes. Please don't tell her that.

I really, really hope that my pleading will stick with Mom. And that she will comply. I know it doesn't make sense to her. And I know she doesn't take my word on anything.

But I really hope anyway.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


To All Who Are Complaining About Warm Temperatures in December (please don't pretend like you weren't):

Because the thermometer was well into the 70s today, my mom was able to sit out on the back porch, soak in the sunshine, and brush her beloved cat, Mittens.

You call it unseasonably warm. I call it perfect Christmas weather.


Mom told me last night that she had not been truthful with Nurse Christy. This comes as no surprise to me. Mom, like the rest of us, likes to appear strong, and, like the rest of us, she enjoys the accolades that her toughness and independence bring. She is indeed remarkable, and she likes to hear about it. Who wouldn't?

The specific incident Mom was referring to occurred Tuesday this week. Christy asked Mom if she was using the walker because she is having trouble with balance or just being cautious. Mom assured her she was just being overly cautious. Wednesday night, Mom confessed that she does feel very unsteady and must move slowly to keep her balance. She said she even cannot look away from her destination without getting dizzy.

I am sorry Mom is losing ability like this. I am so thankful she is willing to use her walker all the time! And grateful she is accepting help.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Proper Care and Feeding

While Nurse Christy was here yesterday, she weighed Mom. Mom has lost three pounds.

(Editing to correct: Karis tells me that actually Mom had lost four pounds last week. She gained one back this week. I'll bet having help and food brought in makes a difference.)

Can I just say this is not from lack of eating? So far today, Mom has eaten:

Egg, fried in bacon grease
Toast with butter
1/2 peppermint mocha from McD's
Whole grapefruit
Roasted tomato/garlic soup (1 cup)
Rotisserie chicken wings (2)
Cucumber slices with hummus

And it's not even 2:00 yet.

The prevailing theory is that the cancer is getting it all. I hate feeding the monster, but I'm so glad Mom still enjoys her food. May it ever be.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Something New

Today we tried something new. Karis asked me if I would go with her to pick out a birthday present for one of her nanny kids. So I did. Then I stopped by Panera to stock up on Cinnamon Crunch bagels and baguettes at Mom's request. While I was out, Mom warmed her lunch and listened to Rush. I was gone for about an hour.

This afternoon, I zipped out again to pick Ev up after school and basketball practice. We made a couple of stops, then headed back over to Mom's. Mom was happy to see us and ready for some dinner. I would guess that she likes a little time alone. Even though I try to be as unobtrusive as possible, I'm sure the constant company wears on my mom's antisocial soul.

Still, when I talked to her about leaving the second time, Mom asked that I leave the front door unlocked. Which makes me think she is a little fearful about being alone. As always, hard to say. I'm planning to stay closer to home tomorrow. I guess I'll just keep experimenting and see what works.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You Just Never Know

Last night, Mom said to me as she went to bed, "I feel so frail, I'm glad you will stay home with me tomorrow and not go to church."

This morning, Mom has cooked her own bacon and egg, taken a shower, had me trim her toenails, and is now stripping her bed to wash the sheets.

We'll see which one wins, mind or matter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


My mom is typically non-celebratory, famously so at Christmastime. All of her Christmas decorations, including tree ornaments, fit in two medium-sized boxes. She has a book titled Coping with Christmas. In my early childhood, Mom created a bulletin board for the church's children's department that had a bowling pin dressed like Santa, and read, "Santa is a pinhead." I am not making this up.

So, it is really gratifying for Mom to be delighted with having her house decorated for Christmas. She has even been admiring the outdoor Christmas lights across the street. I got sucked in and commented how nice her roofline would look with Christmas lights. Mom put a quick stop to that line of thought.

Mom: I can't imagine Peycke ever doing that. He was never interested, and I'll be forever grateful.

Gwen: Grateful that you never had to have Christmas lights?

Mom: Right!

Ebenezar, is that you?

You just have to laugh.,


Cranky mama. And it's not me.

Mom: Oh! I have no patience at all! When you run out of patience, it's time to go!

Gwen: Go where?

Mom: You know where.

Gwen: Oh! You mean GO. Do I get to go when I run out of patience?

Mom: No.

Now being soothed by Huckabee. Thank goodness it's almost bedtime.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Public Service Announcement

This is important: Do not borrow Grandma's blistex.

I was in Ev's room and Grandma was in the bathroom. She was talking about how much she uses the blistex we gave her. You know, with the heat on and the dry air and all? As I came around the corner to the bathroom, I saw that she was applying the blistex to her chapped...


Harold Camping

He might have a little something in common with my mom. Harold Camping keeps predicting the world will end, and then it turns out it doesn't. Mom keeps thinking it's time for her to go, and then it turns out it's not.

Mom was sure her time was up Monday night. One of the calls she made that night was to me. Which was funny since I was in the living room. It reminded me of when my older girls were sharing a room upstairs. If one got sick or needed me, they would just text or call me. Downstairs. It makes me smile. Anyway, Mom called and the following conversation ensued.

Mom: Gwen, is there anything you would like to hear from me before I'm done?

Gwen: [walking into bedroom to talk without phones] What do you mean?

Mom: I mean, I feel like I'm going to die tonight. I'm not sure. He hasn't told me.

Then Mom told me a long story that ended up with what she considered to be a "betrayal" on her part. She had spoken to another family member about a past sin in my life.

Gwen: No, Mom, I don't feel betrayed.

Mom: I can see how you would, because I learned in my class at Calvary that forgiveness means never speaking of it again. [Wrong teaching, imho.]

Gwen: No, I don't feel betrayed. Mom, what I like to hear from you is that you love me.

Mom: I know and I don't do that. I don't verbalize. Karis is working on me.


Mom: I do love you. You taught me forgiveness and faith. And being married taught me the hypocrisy of blame. That's why God puts us in families, so He can love us and teach us, and love us and teach us, and love us and teach us.

But then Tuesday morning came, and it turned out Mom's time hadn't. Dave had the insight to ask her if she was disappointed. She said no.

Fast forward to the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Mom rang for me and asked me to get her a tiny bit of morphine. Her legs were cramping, and she was remembering how Dad's muscles had seized up during his final hours. Again, she thought it was her time. I asked if I could sit with her and she said no. I rubbed her legs and the cramping seemed to ease. By the time I had heated her rice bag, Mom had turned to her side and gone back to sleep. At that point, I thought maybe Harold had made another mistake. Sure enough, I got to enjoy another day with Mom today.

There's no way to call it. With Dad, I spent a few different nights on the couch instead of going home, because I was sure he would die that night. But he didn't. And the night he did actually cross to the other side, I went home, thinking, "Nah. Dad won't die tonight." I know someday, probably soon, Mom's time will come and I will have to say good-bye for now. I'm just glad her time hasn't arrived quite yet.

Go, Harold.

Personality Differences

Setting: Mom and I sitting at kitchen counter, eating Noelle's roasted tomato soup and Panera's baguette.

Gwen: [thinking how lonely the day has been with no visitors] No one called or came by today.

Mom: [brightly] Yea, isn't it great?

Desire vs. Energy

Mom continues to exude spunk. She wants to DO. Last night Mom told me she had a request. She asked if she could cook her own breakfast this morning. Um, yes? She wanted me to leave the day's dirty dishes for her to do up in the morning as well. Um, no. Even after a restless night, she was still determined this morning. Mom got up, dressed, went to the kitchen, cooked her egg and two pieces of bacon, and even accepted a cup of coffee and a glass of tomato juice.

Then she went back to bed for an hour long nap.

Now following up with a nap in the red chair.

Mom loves doing things for herself, and more power to her. I try to stay out of the way as much as possible. (In fact, Mom told me last night she likes my "quiet way." Score!) I hope she wants to cook her own breakfast every morning, because I know she feels so good doing it, so useful. But it is very clear how much energy it requires for her to add anything onto just the Activities of Daily Living. I know it is bewildering for such a tough, strong, scrappy woman to need a nap after her nap after cooking breakfast. She is used to running circles around us mere mortals, and now she is forced to accept help. It's getting harder to negotiate the ever-widening gap between what she wants to do and what she actually can do. Which could turn out to be the biggest task of all.

Too Much

Sometimes Mom reminds me so much of Dad. I don't know if it is the season of dying, or their lifetime together, or just a generational thing. Yesterday as Mom was finishing her breakfast, she fussed at me, "Gwen, you are to only cook me two pieces of bacon." I replied, "Oh! Okay. Would you like me to put that [third piece of bacon] in the fridge?" Mom exclaimed, with her mouth full, "No! I'm going to eat it."

Then later in the day, Mom declared that she wanted to cut down her personal aide visits to once per week. I asked, "Don't you want to shower?" ( I must admit to be a little alarmed at this declaration. Mom is wearing an adult diaper. Bathing only once per week would be hard on her skin and hard on the atmosphere.) "Yes, I want to shower." Pause. "She uses too many towels!" Oh my gosh.

How perfect that I had just read this bit from a book my friend edited. I love the perspective.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

Karis: Grandma, you could take a nap by the fire.

Mom: I'm just going to sit here and fill my pants.

Karis: (aghast) I'm too young for this!

Benjamin Button

I came to my mom's house expecting to care for a teenager: sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy, needing help, struggling for independence. I brought books to read, work clothes (planning to see students), library books to return, a package to mail at the p.o., and almost brought a project to work on.

When I arrived, I discovered a grade schooler. Mom was so happy to have me with her. She even told me she had peace, just knowing I was here. She was very tired and unsteady, even dizzy. Mom went to bed at 8:00, then got up every two hours throughout the night. She would go to the bathroom, we would sit on the couch in the den, then she would go back to bed.

Monday morning dawned and Mom stayed in bed until 9:30. She made it to the couch, wanted eggs and bacon for breakfast, but we were out. She settled for fresh-squeezed grapefruit and orange juice. Nurse Christy arrived, saw Mom's deteriorated condition, and ordered a hospital bed, oxygen, and personal care aide, all of which Mom agreed to. She also told Mom to stop taking morphine except when she had difficulty breathing. By the time Christy finished examining Mom, Mom's eyes were closing and she was nodding. She went back to bed and didn't get up again except to move across the hall to her hospital bed when it arrived. And that's when I realized I was caring for a baby.

Mom felt she had not had bowel function in a week (I am skeptical), so Christy was appropriately alarmed and proactive. Her measures were effective and the amazing, voluminous, uncontrollable results were evident all evening and into the night. Poor Mom. I can say with certainty that the changing is worse for her than it is for me. She is mortified and disgusted and helps me along during the clean-up process by saying things like, "I can't smell anything, but the stench must be awful." And, "I hope you don't vomit." And, "I pray that I die soon so you don't have to keep doing this."

As the excess waste was making its way out of Mom's body, I think the excess morphine was as well. She went on a bit of a phone rampage, calling up folks and telling them what was on her mind. At one point, when Mom asked me to dial up another number, I cautioned her that it was 10:24pm. "Are you sure you want to call at this hour?" Yes. So I dialed and left the room, but could still hear because Mom's hearing is so bad now that she has the receiver volume at maximum, plus she herself speaks loudly (to compensate?). Oy vey.

Mom wound down around 1am and slept through the night until 9:00 this morning. The personal aide came to shower her, which was wonderful. She is the same aide who took care of Dad, and Mom and Dad both loved her. Mom had brunch, then a nap, then hiked out to the couch. The timing was terrific. She was able to receive the small parade of visitors who came to pay homage, and brought things like dinner, lunch, supplies, and firewood.

Mom is back in bed for an afternoon nap now. Who knows what kind of Curious Case we'll find when she wakes up?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Murphy's Law

Back in October, my family gifted me with tickets to David Crowder Band. All closer shows were sold out, so our tickets were for the show in San Antonio. Later in October, for Dave's birthday, I cleverly put the concert tickets in his card, making DCB his birthday gift as well. Friday, the day of the concert, we all loaded up into the suburban and hit the road for San Antonio. It is about a four hour drive and we arrived just in time for the gates to open at 7:00. We enjoyed the really great show, then loaded back up and drove home. Yes, we are fools for a good road trip.

All in all, we were gone for about fourteen hours. A little over half of a twenty-four hour day.

In that time, my mom's breathing became so difficult that she began taking morphine. And she has been taking it every four hours ever since. She is using her walker in the house. She has not had a bowel movement since Friday. Mom did not come to church today. She was afraid of falling asleep in the service. Of course, lots of people fall asleep in church, but I think Mom was concerned about literally falling out. Instead, she stayed home, in bed, in her jammies. She didn't eat anything until Karis brought her a burger and fries from McDonald's, as requested.

And the kicker is, Mom has agreed that it is time for me to come. To stay. I'm writing this in the midst of packing my bags.

I know we have been planning on this day, even hoping that Mom would let me help her, but now that the day has come, we are all a little at loose ends. Sad, anxious, uncertain, just to name a few. When I say "we", I mean my husband and kids and myself. Mom is, of all things, very happy. If anyone with a deteriorating body can be perky, she is. I think her eyes are fixed on the goal, the prize. I don't think it will be long.

What are you waiting for?
The day is gone.
I said I'm waiting for dawn.
What are you aiming for
out here alone?
I said I'm aiming for home.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Newton's Law

In the week since Thanksgiving, I've been over to see Mom frequently. As usual, I've been through a variety of emotions as I interact with this person God chose as my mother.

Mom called the leftover green beans from Thanksgiving "darling", and I was delighted. Food is love.

Mom named Nate's dog as her favorite, repeatedly, to all, and I was disappointed. Must there always be a favorite?

Mom mentioned again and again her newfound desire to have the yard raked. And pecans from the County Extension 4-H office. Nate raked and I purchased, and we were glad to help.

Mom scooped the fall leaf confetti off the tablecloth and said, "This is how I rake." And we laughed.

Mom said she cooked a hamburger for lunch and couldn't eat it all. I was concerned. A burger, no bun, is not a very big meal, much less an unfinished one.

Mom told me my cousins want to come visit her, and I was surprised. Did she tell them that she sleeps much of the time, eats less and less, and has trouble breathing? Do they know they should come soon?

Mom lectured the children on how to care for their animals in her house when she is gone, and we were all stunned. We just sat in silence and listened. In moments like that, Mom reminds me so much of Dad as his time here wound down. Slinging out orders that don't necessarily make sense. Maybe a last-ditch effort at control.

Mom confided in me repeatedly that she thinks her nephew's girlfriend is restoring the family homestead to be a bed and breakfast, and I was baffled by her unsubstantiated conclusions and illogical thoughts.

Up and down, in and out, rise and fall. A week of the everyday.