Finding Time in the Midst of Chaos


Mom and meWell it has been quite a while since I’ve had a post. I thought it is time to sit down and try to write. It is not an easy task in my life.

Since my last entry, I have returned to work and as you know, the home front continues to become more of a challenge. All through the experience I keep reminding myself that I am not working my plan for my life, as much as I am submitting to my heavenly Father’s plans and purpose for me. Once I acknowledged this; my life seemed to make sense for the very first time. When things don’t go my way, I accept that it is my Father rearranging things. When things fall into place, miraculously, there is just no way I can take credit.

I just flew with someone who told me, “no you need to pat yourself on the back!” Really? Why? I don’t want to pat myself on the back. (First of all, because it is physically impossible) and secondly, I don’t feel I have done anything so great. I know that I handle my life because God gives me the strength to handle these challenges. But I cannot say that I have always been happy about the responsibilities He’s given me. And sometimes, I’ve downright lost it! I’ve had temper tantrums and been filled with self-pity. “Why me? Why not someone else?” I’ve had all of those angry questions. But in the end, He keeps me grounded. He reminds me that I can handle it. He reminds me that His son had those very same feelings.

When I went to Israel many years ago, I saw the huge stone where Jesus had wept and prayed so fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane. Everyone was placing their hands on this stone as if they could feel His anguish. This is what makes me remember that even He asked the Father, “to take this cup of suffering from me.” In the end our Lord knew that it was not His plan He was working, but His Father’s plan. This picture of Christ’s grief is a stark reminder that He did indeed, “Suffer  all things which are common to man.” He knows my fears and my sadness. He knows my joy when I see that this suffering, is worth the end result. “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:12)

Wow! If He could do that for me, I certainly can’t complain about my circumstances. He has chosen these things for me, “to perfect my faith.” Who cares about me more than He does?

I had to keep this in the forefront of my mind when I received a recall notice to work. I had been on a furlough for almost 3 years. Granted, the furlough was another blessing from the Lord. I had just begun to see my mom slipping more and more each day, when along came this offer to take the furlough. This couldn’t have been at a more opportune time. However, I didn’t really know that at the time.

I was really sitting on the fence with that offer, as I was a little fearful of losing an income. “How am I going to make it with no money coming in?” I asked the Lord. I wasn’t sure if this was something I should do. Then He placed people in my path, that I can only describe as messengers on behalf of Him. They encouraged me to take this offer and one person, asked if he could call and speak to me. This was a few nights before the deadline for our decision. He completely encouraged me to do this as he knew my circumstances. He knew that my mother is not going to get better, but she would decline.

I decided to take the offer because of all of ‘the encouragers.’ What a great time I’ve had with my mom, my brother and my children! I took her on a road trip to Wisconsin along with my son and my brother. Though she did not know anyone, I felt rewarded in the fact that her friends and family had the chance to see her. I also didn’t feel the guilt I had before. She has been obsessed with moving back to Wisconsin. In some way I felt I was holding her hostage. This trip was a revelation to me as well. I could see that the Wisconsin she remembers only exists in her mind. She can visit anytime she chooses. My son exclaimed, “We could have driven around the block and told her she was in Wisconsin!” lol Yes, I suppose that’s true, but besides seeing Palm trees everywhere, it wouldn’t have been as effective. As I said, I felt this trip was more for my benefit and those who could see her.

The past 3 years gave me a chance to be completely involved in my son’s life, when he needed me most. I didn’t know so many things were happening until I was present every day. There were people that would have wished I would just return to work, but that was not going to happen! The Lord wanted to expose so many things to me. He knows that I am a staunch advocate for people who cannot speak for themselves, and this is the very reason I have the care of my mother and brother  and a young son.

However, had I not had some of the experiences in my own life, I would not have been as discerning. Now some of my suffering began to make sense to me. I have the ability to see things that the average person may not. I also have the strength to speak up, where most people will not. I find that my anger at such injustice overpowers any fears I may have. If I was not equipped with this righteous anger, I wouldn’t have the ability to take a stand.

Each year that the furlough was almost up; I would ask the Lord what He wanted me to do. Two times, I would receive another offer to take a year off. But this last year it has been different. This time we would receive an offer of an ‘early-out.’ Buyout offer plus benefits. Wow! This must be the answer, I thought! This was a big offer too! As I pondered this offer, I was ready to jump. Thinking that this would help me tremendously; I now heard the Lord speaking to me. “Hold on, don’t be impulsive.” As I weighed out the pros and cons of the offer, I asked the Lord to do what He has always done. To show me His will in this. To speak to me. He did and it was a surprising answer. He spoke to my spirit and He also sent people to me to give me answers. And just like always, the best plan is the most difficult!

As I began to see that this looked good on the surface, but it wasn’t really what the Lord had planned, I now wondered at how He was going to make my return to work possible. I am now mature enough in my faith that I know He will provide; but I still wanted to know how!

Now, I was most concerned with care for my mother. I can’t leave her and 24 hour nursing care is way too expensive. This would hardly make my return to work reasonable.

One day as I was praying and asking God for the answer to this dilemma, a person came to my mind. It was a woman who used to care for another elderly woman in a group my brother was a part of. My brother had a bowling group and this woman had a daughter with Down’s Syndrome. Her daughter was an excellent bowler. I had become friends with her and some of the other older ladies in the group. We used to sit and play cards together as the people bowled. You may remember an earlier post about this, “Kings in the Corner.” These women taught me many things. The woman that took care of her was a sweet, little Jamaican lady. She was so cute.

Marilyn eventually passed away, so the caregiver took care of her daughter. It was only a few years later that the daughter also died. She had a heart problem. I still have a picture of her smiling face on my bulletin board. She was full of joy and the sweetest girl. I remember at her funeral, the sister, coming up to me and saying, “You know Carrie, you and me are the same!” She was referring to the fact that she had taken care of her mother, and her sister after her mother’s passing. The caregiver lived with her and helped her take care of both of them.

As I thought of this, I thought, “I should call her and ask about Marlene! (the caregiver) She was excited when I called her. I told her that I had been called back to work and needed someone for my mom. I asked about Marlene. She said, “Wow! I can’t believeyou’re calling right now! She was caring for a woman and she just passed away about 2 weeks ago. She’s looking for someone else to care for right now.” I was so thrilled. I also knew that the was the Lord’s hand in all of this. He constantly reassures me that if He has called me to do something, then He will also provide!

It was only a few weeks later that I was back in training for 6 days. I had complete security knowing that this woman is experienced with people like my mom and she has compassion. She also knows my brother and is very experienced with special needs too. She told me that if she ever has a problem with her schedule, “her sister is her backup.” What a great thing! God not only provides our needs; He goes above and beyond what we need!

My son has proven to be a responsible and caring person from this experience as well. The other day, I messed up my own schedule and thought that I had given the information to Marlene and I did not. So of course, she wasn’t at the house. At first I thought that my printer didn’t print the trip, or she was reading the schedule wrong. I called her in a panic and she was already on her way out of town. She said, “Don’t worry. I’ll get someone to cover for me.” She did and this woman was her cousin. She was so wonderful and had also been living in the north for years taking care of an elderly woman. In the meantime, my son was able to ‘hold down the fort,’ until she arrived. He was asking me where the chucks were for my mom’s bed and I thought, “Is he really changing the bed linens?” This was just unfathomable, as he doesn’t do this in his own room! He had given my mom breakfast and helped my brother get up for school. I thought, this kind of responsibility is good for him and he will never regret the things he did for his grandma.

So now I’m thanking the Lord for all He has done and is doing to grow us. In the midst of the chaos of my life. I see His hand reaching through and holding me as I walk through all the storms. I’m grateful for the people that He sends to me to encourage me and give me wisdom for decisions. He removes those who have tried to bring me harm and continues to reveal His plans for me as I roll everything over to His ultimate will.

I think that my first layover was when it hit me; hey I don’t think I’ve had time to relax like this in years! Now I can understand the benefits to this decision. I felt refreshed for the first time in a very long time. I’m so appreciative of this time I’ve had with my family but also my ‘alone time,’ now. I also want to thank you people who have been a part of this journey with me. I am touched that those of you (and some complete strangers) have helped me through the most difficult times. I know who you are; and I know who has sent you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Welcome to my video blog


 

Video

Dr Jesus Please Heal Me


Today was a hard day. They begin to blend together. One heartache after another. I find myself going off to cry quietly.
Because the flu is going around, it’s easy to pretend I have a touch of something.
My son is home educated, so I don’t have the benefit of hiding.

I’ve had sadness with my daughter. She seems like she’s slipping away from me. I feel as if I’m holding on by a thread.
I committed to pray for my children, and her especially. I told the Lord each morning as I ran on my treadmill, I would commit myself to fervent prayer.
Asking Him to “bring my daughter back from captivity. To do “whatever it takes.” Knowing perfectly well, that God hears me, and I probably won’t like the suffering involved. But I also know it’s my love for her and my responsibility for her soul, that causes me to plead with Him.

I received a sign from Him. Her life is beginning to unravel, and I ended up going to the doctor. I sprained my ankle. Yes, that’s right, on the treadmill.
Never remembering how I twisted it or turned it. I was in pain. I realized that I had been running so hard and pushing myself physically, but also spiritually.
Crying out in anguish and now my ankle is a constant reminder of her. My little girl.

Dealing with my mother is difficult as well. I received a call from the senior facility to ask me if she was going to be coming. They said that they have a spot for her but she would lose it if she doesn’t come.
She went twice, and then adamantly refused to go any more.
I was trying to brainstorm with the administrator, when I remembered how she had responded to her doctor after refusing to take her medication. I told her that I had the idea to tell him, “if he would tell her to take them, she would listen.”
It worked like a charm. He simply looked at her and said, “Honey, listen. You have to take your medicine for me, okay?” She looked at him and said, “Okay, until I go back to Wisconsin, I will.”
The doctor and I both looked at each other and smiled.

When I told the woman this, she said, “Maybe you should try that and have some male pretend to be  her doctor or something.” I said, “Yes, I think I can come up with something.”
I went to my son, and asked him to be the doctor. He was going to have a script which I would make for him and he would call my phone. I would give the phone to her and take it from there.
As I handed him the script, I had to make a few corrections-“oh, have to change that,” I said. It said, “Your daughter,” and she no longer recognizes that I’m her daughter.

I told her that her doctor had called and he would be calling back. “What is it about?” She asked. “Oh, I don’t know. He said he had something to speak with you about. “Oh, I hope I don’t have to go and see him,” she said.
As my son was coming down the stairs with his script and his phone he said, “Oh, I should get time for this under ‘Extra Curricular Activity, called conning the elderly!” At this I started laughing and could barely contain myself as I listened to him calling my phone.

Because I was in the threshold, I could hear his voice in the living room and on my phone. I really had to work hard to suppress a laugh, as I handed the phone to my mom. I looked and also noticed his picture coming up on the phone so, I carefully handed it to her. She had a hard time holding “these new phones,” anyway, so I stuck it up to her ear. “It’s your doctor,” I said.
“Oh!” She sounded excited. As I listened to him carefully reciting the words, I couldn’t help but think how ingenious this seemed. I even put references about her move to Wisconsin.”
“Yes, I noticed that your blood pressure is pretty high, on the tests I have.” The doctor said. “I understand you are planning to move back to Wisconsin and before you do this, we need a plan to get you healthy. I am authorizing one day a week at a center for you to speak with a nutritionist and get some exercise.”
I heard her say, “Oh yes, but I can’t move back yet. I have to wait until it’s warm.”
Now in a normal conversation, Dr. so-and-so would respond to that. But my son, not willing to deviate from the script, continued as if he was an automated phone message.
It did surprise me, however, to know that she really doesn’t want to go as much as she pretends.
At the end of the message he asked to speak to me. As I took the phone I continued on as if he was giving me more instructions. My son just making sounds once in a while.
After I hung up, my mom said, “I like that doctor. He’s so nice!”
I told her that this would be a day available to her to give her the physical and nutritional help to get her strong.
She was actually excited about this.
I called the administrator back and told her what we did. She laughed so hard and said, “And the Academy Award goes to….”

Later, as I was speaking about my grief at the situation with my daughter, my mother said, “It has to be so hard. You love her so much. She’s your daughter. I think that would be so hard, if I had to deal with that with my daughter.”
“Yes,” I thought. It would be hard. But the fortunate thing is that, she has dealt with many heartaches, including these with her daughter. She just doesn’t know it.
She looked so sweet again, as she said, “It will be okay. She’s a good girl.” I remembered her saying that all my life. Every time there was a crisis.”It will be okay.”

I thought of my daughter when she was young. She started getting warts on her feet. My stepson had them on his hands and they are very contagious. When he showed her the surgery he had to remove them, she was terrified.
I made a comment that, “I’ll have to take her to the doctor.” When she heard this she screamed. “No! Please mommy! I want Dr. Jesus to heal them!” She was crying at the thought of someone cutting her. She was so young. About 4 or 5. I felt so convicted at her words.
“Wow,” I thought. I haven’t even prayed about this. So I asked her if she really believed He could heal her. “Yes,” she said. “Okay, we’re going to pray.”
I put some oil on her feet as I prayed along with her.
The very next day, I noticed a miraculous thing, which had me rubbing my own eyes in bewilderment. It looked like little chalk specks on her feet. Every place which had a wart, or one just starting, just turned to powder. I began touching those little feet, and saw them drop off! I was amazed. But I remembered the Lord’s words, that “it is your faith which make you whole.”
My pastor commented, “If she has this kind of faith now, can you imagine what she’ll be like when she’s older?”

I keep standing on His promises for her life. I now feel the incredible pain which the Prodigal Father had felt, when his son went out of his home into darkness.
The hurt and concern attached to his well-being. I’m praying that I will also experience the joy of restoration.
With every painful step I take, I pray, Dr. Jesus please heal us!

Thanks For Letting Me Call You, Mom.


Image

All the things I’ve done with my mom. I try to make each moment special. I want to hold on as tight as possible. The fleeting life. Memories running through my mind, as if I’m counting steps in a race. Pounding the pavement,with each step, as I bring forth another from the archives.

Yes, I remember that time that I came to her to tell her that her young friend had died. “What?!” She yelled from the top of the stairs. “She is too young!” Then she reminds me of the feud that this friend and another of hers had been having. The other friend, ‘Mary,’ had just died months earlier. She was waiting for a liver transplant, and it didn’t come in time. She was engaged to be married.

This was the saddest event, even after my mother had experienced her own heartbreak, one right after another. Still, she hadn’t lost the ability to feel pain. Mary had a little boy and girl. The boy had Cystic Fibrosis. He died about a year later.

My mother told me that when her friend Betty heard the news, she had a shocking response; “it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.” My mom was angry at this. “How could she be so mad at Mary, that she would say something like this?” She said.

My mom was just beginning to lose her ability to express emotion. I believe it was right about this time. She had already had a breakdown and lost so much. So these were just more bumps in the road of her life of loss.

I remember how I looked to her for protection, but she didn’t seem to have this capacity. It was more like a message of hope, wrapped up in her own despair. “Things will get better.” Is what she would say. I couldn’t understand how I would always get the same words, no matter how bad the circumstances of life could be. “Oh, don’t worry. Just give it to the good Lord. Things will get better.”

“Here we go again.” I thought. “Are these just words she thinks she’s supposed to say? Am I ever going to get the emotional support that I so desperately need?”

But now I’m speaking to my mom, after getting off the phone with my sister. I’ve shared with both my brother and my sister, that mom, is losing ground. “She doesn’t know we’re her children.” I tell my sister.

She was on the phone with her, when I heard my mom say, “No she left.” I asked, “Are you talking about me?” She refused to look at me, and repeated herself. “No, she isn’t here.” My daughter looked at me with that, “Who is she talking about,” look.

She said, “goodbye,” and as I saw her handing me the phone, I could see my sister was still on the line. “Kim?” “Yea, I thought you were there.” “Yes, I’m practically sitting right next to her.”

Now my sister was seeing that I’m not exaggerating her condition. I talked with her for quite a while and she could understand that this is a rapid progression.

I finally hung up and went to take my mom up to bed. As I was talking with her, I said something about Kim being my sister, and she said, “That’s not your sister! That’s my sister!” “No, mom. That’s your daughter.” I tried to remind her. Your sister’s are, Carol, Jean, Ann and Dorothy.”

She repeated herself, “Kim is my sister!” I tell her that she has her children and her sisters. Then she tells me that she never had children.She gets very sarcastic as she states, “You don’t know my family!” “Ok, well then will you let me call you mom?” I ask her.

“Where is your mom?” she asks me. “Well, my mom left when I was young, and she never came back,” I said. “Oh mom’s don’t do that!” She says. “Well, usually they don’t but, mine did. So may I call you mom?” I ask once again. “Sure,” she says.

Then I ask, “Can Kim call you mom” and as if I’ve crossed over the line, she says, “No!” She’s not my daughter! I just talk to her on the phone!” “Ok, how about Craig?” Again, a loud, “No!”

“Well,” I said, “I guess you are going to let me call you mom, because I’m living with you.” “Yes,” she says.

For this I’m grateful. She looks at me with eyes of sympathy. I said, “Thanks mom.” And give her a big hug goodnight.

I had joked with my brother just the other day. As a word of warning I wanted him to know what was happening before he received his birthday card. “Listen Craig. It’s taken me so long to send your card, that when mom picked it out, it said, ‘Son.’ But when I finally got her to sign it, she signed her name!” This time I told him, I get the prize for belated birthday wishes. I waited so long that you’re no longer a son. I guess I can save some money now on the non personalized versions of the cards, which I have in my drawer.

This disease is unpredictable and strange. I’m just glad she’s allowing me to stand in as a daughter, to help me through this time. So she can speak those words which hold so much more meaning now.”Just give it to the good Lord.Things will get better.”

The Stranger Who Came to Stay


 

 

 

 

Well, today it happened. It came without any indication. The woman who has sat in the same place on my couch, for 2 years and 3 months, told me, “I’m not your mom!” As she laughed at me like I was crazy.

I fumbled for answers to this. Wait a minute, I thought I had the solution to jog her memory. I pointed at my brother, (her first-born son) and said, “he’s your son.” She answered, “He’s not my son!”

She looked incredulous as I asked her about her other son and daughter. “They’re not my kids!” Well, I was shocked as I tried to reason with her. She told me my other brother was just some guy that helped her move into her apartment in Milwaukee.

A little while later I pointed out the massive hurricane, headed for New York. “I’ve been to New York,” She said. “I know, I took you,” I responded. “You didn’t take me!” Again, with a look amusement, she stated, “My daughter, Carrie took me.” “Mom, that’s me!” I said, unwilling to believe this was actually happening. “You’re not Carrie!,” she said.

I couldn’t tell you how odd this was to me. A combination of bewilderment, mixed with pain. As if I was holding her by a rope, across a raging river, and she was losing her grasp. “Mom!” “Stop calling me that!” she says, “I’m not your mom!”

I know, I think, if I can just remind her of my brother she lost when I was so young. I bring up his name. “That’s Kim’s son!” “Yes, mom, but she named him after your son, my brother.” “What? That’s just crazy!” At this point she tells me that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I go into the next room. There are the pictures we had just been looking at the other day. All her pictures which I had brought down from her room. I had hoped we could put them into albums and she would enjoy looking at all the memories. There is the photo album, I had put together after our trip to New York. I had taken her to see the Rockettes Christmas Show. I took my daughter as well. Here is where I will be able to help her ‘snap out of it.

I bring the album in and show her the pictures. With each picture she tells me that wasn’t my daughter and it isn’t our trip. I didn’t know what my motivation was anymore. “Am I trying to help her remember? Or am I trying to make myself forget…that she is slipping away from me.

I had taken her to her neurologist about two months ago. She had a complete personality change. Light-hearted and easy-going. Laughing constantly. She was a different person. “What happened to her?” I asked him. “Well, she’s declining, but it’s normal. At least at this point, you should be able to get her involved in a senior center with day care. She won’t fight you now.”

As sure as the sun comes up, I signed her up for two days a week, and the other personality showed up. Sharp as could be, and fighting me as she always had before. “I’m not going back to that place!” She said. “That’s a nut house!” “Oh, this is great,”I thought. Just when I thought I ‘d get a little break.

I knew something had happened, because ever since she arrived at my home, she had checked off the days on her calendar. And then she stopped. As I shared this with her doctor he said, “Is it a Mayan calendar?” I cracked up, in spite of the loss I felt.

But this is the sign that something had happened. And her doctor never shared the true diagnosis until I had him fill out the paperwork for the senior center. With a listing of Dementia, and Alzheimer’s, I was in total shock. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know something was wrong. But he had told me she had TIA’s, which he explained were mini-strokes.

“Okay,” I thought, I can live with that. As if just hearing the word mini, made everything better. No need to worry. But there is no minimizing this. As I’ve watched her slowly lose ground and I give her round the clock care, I’m at a loss for how to deal with this woman, who is now stubborn and unwilling to take part in her life. Physically hitting me and calling me names, when I’ve tried taking her to, the retreat.

Each time I mention, just getting away for a few hours, and telling her she will have some friends, so she can talk about me. That’s just not enough of a bribe for her.

Today, as I listened to her talking about her daughter, ‘Carrie,’ I had the oddest feeling. I felt as if I was prying to ask her about this daughter. I could almost see a sense of pride in her, when she talked about her. I felt as if this was, “the fly on the wall.” eavesdropping on her conversation with someone else, as she bragged about me. For the first time in my life, I felt as if she was proud of me.

Perhaps this was the Lord’s way of showing me the affection which I never received from her. To show the side of my mother which left when I was a child. There was no time for this then. Too much tragedy and I had to grow up quickly. The roles were reversed.

But now I can hear, that she really does appreciate me. Even though we are becoming strangers. And I have found some humor in it, at times. When we were going through the pictures, at one point she had said, she didn’t know me. As I struggled to convince her that I was her daughter, she stubbornly refused to accept this nonsense. I finally said, “Well, then who am I?” To which she replied, “I don’t know who you are!” And I said, “Well, then I’m going to ask you what you’re doing here, living in a stranger’s house?”

She still manages to laugh at my son. And when he came in later, I mentioned something about him being her grandson. “Oh if you say so.” she said. Unwilling to hurt the boys feelings. She just decided to let us believe this.

She told me she could get ready for bed herself. So I let her. But when I went to check on her, I asked her, “Are you okay mom?” “Yes,” she said. And I did what I always do. I bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek and a big hug. I said, “Goodnight mom.” “Goodnight,” She said. With the sweetest smile, and then she said, “See you in the morning.”

I guess in her mind, I may be a stranger. But a familiar stranger. And in some way, it’s security to her. She’s allowing me to call her, ‘mom,’ because she is staying here. I hope her daughter, Carrie doesn’t mind.

Dear Santa, I’d like a ‘floating arm,’ for Christmas


mom

This was a conversation that I had with my son when we went out today. I decided to go to Walgreen’s, to pick up a few things. Given that they had also given me a coupon for $10 off of any purchase of $30 or more, it seemed like a good place to spend my money. Besides, the Walgreen’s near me, has been the place to get all my last-minute things, including supplements for my mother.

While we were there, I went down the aisle that had all the item’s that she could use, for help. Lately she has had a difficult time walking and she grabs my arm, just to walk across the kitchen. It’s a short walk from my family room to the bathroom, but for some reason, she seems afraid to walk into open spaces, without holding on to someone, or something.

Now I find myself, staring at an assortment of canes. Wow! Who knew that you could be so stylish, while using a cane? My son was thrilled. “Hey! I like this one!” He grabbed one with camouflage and said, “I can’t wait to be old!” I was laughing to watch him, pretending to walk. “Look at me! I’m trippin on my grill!” One of his favorite expressions.

I told him, “I like the leopard one.” “No,” he said. “Grandma would look better with the pink flowers.” Now It’s an amusing thought, that we are actually trying to match her personality to a cane. I’m sure they couldn’t come up with anything to incorporate all her personality traits. My eyes drift at all of them, when I see one which is quite different.  “Wait a minute, look at this one. It glows in the dark.”

“Oh! That’s so cool!” My son is clearly excited now. “Let’s get this, it’s just so cool.” “Ok,” I said. But at this point reality is settling in. “You are the one that is going to convince your grandma to use it. I’m going to say, it’s a gift from you.” “Ok,” he said. “But I still think she’s going to make some excuse.”

He kept looking at the other geriatric products, and was amazed at the products available. “Man, it’s gonna be fun when I’m old!” He says. “Sure, that’s easy for you to say. I’m the one that’s next. And you better hope that I’m not as stubborn as grandma.”

We were laughing after I left the house, because my mom had picked up her calendar for the umpteenth time, and asked me what day it was. Every time she would ask, I would say, “It’s the 21st, Wednesday, mom. And don’t check it off again. Yesterday, she checked off today. And this is the reason, I have to hide her medicines. When I would come home to find them on the wrong days, I knew this method wasn’t working.

So, we come in with this cane and my son was over the top, when he saw it glowing. I had to pry off the bottom cap to place a small tripod on the bottom. Hoping this wouldn’t detract from the appearance too much. “Ok,” I told him. “You’re job is to now, sell this, to your grandma.”

We walked into the room, as I exclaimed, “Mom, we wanted to give you an early gift. It’s something that your grandson picked out and he really thinks you’ll like it.” He came running in and pretending to dance with this cane. At first, she started laughing, and then he said, “Grandma, it’s for you.” “Oh no! I don’t need that!” She said. “Mom, you’re grasping at walls, and need my arm, to walk across the room.” “I don’t need your arm, and I’m not an invalid.” She says. “Well, what will you do, when I am not here to walk you?” “I don’t need your arm!” She yells out. “Ok, I’ll leave it right here for when you may want to use it.”

Her response? “What’s the date today?” I lost my patience all together, and said, “Mom! It’s still the 21st. You’ve asked me so many times, it’s driving me crazy!”

Yes, I know, it’s not the correct response. I turned around to see my son cracking up. “Let’s go to the grocery store.” I say to him. “I’m just at a loss about how to help her.” Then he says, “Well I know what you can get grandma for Christmas? A floating arm!” Then we both start laughing at the thought. I said, “Hey, they should design a floating arm, on a contraption, like a zip-line.” He starts laughing so hard, as we are just imagining my mom, grabbing hold to ‘the arm,’ careening across the kitchen, into her designated place.

Then he says, “Hey, she’s probably asking Kevin, what the date is. Did you hear her when you didn’t answer her?” “No,” I said. “What did she say?” “Oh,” he said. “It was funny She looked at Kevin, and said, “Geesh! Well, I’ll get the answer from someone else.”

“Oh, my gosh, can you see them together?” At this thought, we both started laughing even harder. “My mom, questioning my mentally challenged brother, all day, about what the date is. I can see him grabbing his calendar, which he has by his side as well. He keeps track of all the Packer’s games, on his calendar.

“He probably gets sick of it too!” my son says. “He probably says, “Stop it!” Which is my brother’s favorite expression, when he’s fed up. He’ll put his hand up, in a stop symbol, and says, “Stop it!” Oh, this is just hilarious, to even imagine.

I tell my son, “we should get her a Planner.” “Oh, I can already see what would be written in it.” He says. “First, get out of bed. Check off the date. Wait for Carrie to leave the room. Sneak some chocolate. Wait til she comes back. Ask her what date it is. Check off the date.” Now I can’t stop cracking up at him. I said, “Come on, that’s not nice. “Mom, it’s our humor that keeps us going.” “You know what? That’s true.” I said.

Now my son says, I’d love to put a hidden camera in the room to watch them. It’s probably so funny.” He has a point. I’ve walked into the room to hear my mom, just talking away with my brother. It’s not as if it’s odd to talk to him, but she’ll actually talk to him as if, he is fully functioning. He doesn’t have a clue about some of the things she’s saying. And she’s even gotten into arguments with him. This is a complete mystery to me. As I have to remind my son, he is not at your level, so don’t argue with him.

The good thing about her lack of memory, is that she forgets as soon as she has an argument. She’s told me, “well losing short term memory isn’t all bad. There’s some things people don’t want to remember.” How true this is. If only we could pick and choose.

Now my son is dancing in front of the television with the cane, and he’s singing into it like a microphone. My mother is getting a big kick out of this. She tells him, “Well I’m glad you like it! You can keep it!”

So, the ‘cane argument’ has blown over and I walk into the room. “Hey! She says, “What’s the date?”

It's not Christmas without a cane!

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I Surrender


I have been watching my mom and it seems that she is slowing down. Is this my imagination? Living with her each day, has presented challenges. Then I wonder, is it similar to my son’s growth? It’s such a constant, that it’s difficult to notice. But then suddenly, he seems to be taller.

My mom, hasn’t been the easiest person to live with. She is very opinionated, and can be mean. I’ve taken the brunt of this, for most of my life. And she’s as stubborn as a person can be. She refuses the help she needs and then when I see her struggle and try to lend a hand, she’s say’s “well, if you want to help, I’ll let you.”

It’s difficult to remember that she’s been this way all of her life. She’s very insecure and I realize this is the reason for her attitude. She’s never wrong. Yet, she doesn’t mind telling someone else that they are wrong.

Yesterday she had watched a commercial and I heard her make a sound of pure disgust, at the use of the word, “Caramel.” “What’s wrong mom?” I asked. “That’s not how you say, “Caramel!” She said. Well, mom, you can pronounce it with a long ‘A’ or short, ‘A.’ “Either way is acceptable.” I tell her. Already knowing that she is not going to believe me. “Oh come on. That’s wrong!” She tells me. “Mom, it’s in the dictionary. Just like the word, ‘often.’ Some people pronounce the ‘t,’ and some pronounce it with a silent, ‘t.’ And like ‘Aunt, which is really pronounced, awnt, but some people have pronounced it, ‘ant,’ like the ant on the ground. I only pronounced it that way, because this is how you referred to your aunt’s and mine.” Now I can see she’s just irritated. “Well, even if it’s in the dictionary, it’s only been placed there recently!”

Oh, this is how she get’s around everything. So I decide it’s time to drop it. “Ok,” I said. “But it’s nothing for you to get upset about.” “I’m not upset!” She says, because she wants to keep the argument going.

I wonder at this. I believe she was dismissed as a child, and it has a lot to do with her own self-image.This is why she is so judgmental, and opinionated. When I think about this, I feel sad.

I ask her if she would like to go out to the store with me. It is my way of getting her to move her bones. Although, after getting into the crazy holiday shopper’s, I become rather nervous.She is eager to come along, because, as she states, “I need to buy Christmas gifts.” I know she loves to buy little gifts for everyone, so I think this is a fun trip for her.

She refuses any help, besides the use of my arm. And as we walk, I feel her grip, loosen and tighten. At times, I clamp her little hand, into my arm, as tight as I can. I am worried that some rude person is just going to plow her down, or her grip is going to slip. I can feel how small she is, and how much slower she is walking. After a short time she proclaims, “Are we almost done? I would like to buy your gift with you. Cause I’m not going out again.” I tell her,”Mom, you don’t need to get me a gift.” “Of course I don’t!” She says, “That’s why it’s called ‘a gift!” As if I’ve just said the stupidest thing ever. I see that she can only handle very short trips now.

I think back to my placement in, The Children’s Home, when I was a child. After her breakdown, we were placed in this home. I believed I would never be reunited with my mother. I would cry at the separation from all of my siblings and my mother. I had already lost my father in the divorce.

A woman nurse, would rock me in a chair and comfort me, with words, of reassurance, “Don’t worry. You’ll see your mother again.” She would say.

Now, I am beginning to experience that same sadness. I’m facing her exit and watching her slowly going through that door. I feel as if my arm can hold her little hand’s to prevent it from happening. I am angry that I have to watch, as a spectator. I would rather she lived all by herself and just fade away. But then I know that I would be too worried to allow this.

I bought her a new calendar. She’s been checking off the day’s since she came to my home. It breaks my heart. Marking off time, like this reminds me of people in prison or hospitals. My brother did this, when he was in the hospital. I still remember the calendar, facing his bed, with the little black x’s, through each day. Until the last two days. Time stood still. He believed he was going to move down to live by me. I had a place for him and my mother, and then he went to his eternal home.

I was trying to imagine why my mother seemed to hate living in Florida so much. And I think that one reason, is my brother’s death. Before this, she loved Florida, and planned to move here. But after his death, she came down to spend some time with me, and she hated being here. I’ve always thought that it was, “empty nest,’ syndrome. And now that she has two son’s, buried in Wisconsin, she has a longing to return.

But now, I am starting to see her appetite decreasing. As I urge her to eat, she tells me she isn’t hungry. I have resorted to giving her supplement drinks. Along with a little food here and there. She’s losing ground. I can’t stand to see this, happening.

The constant reminder’s, that she will be moving back to Milwaukee, are not as frequent. It seems, just a few weeks ago, she went to my daughter, and asked her, if she could fly her back.” “I didn’t know what to tell her.” My daughter said. “Doesn’t she realize once we’ve landed, that she doesn’t have a place to live?” “No.” I said. “She isn’t thinking about that.” My daughter told me, “mom, when you are gone, she tells me that she wishes you would stay gone.” She said, “Your mom, is annoying.” I laughed. “Don’t let it bother you. She needs me more than she’s willing to admit.”

Sure enough. I flew home from my trip the other day. I didn’t get home until 2pm. As I walked into the house, I noticed my daughter’s car, but it was silent inside. I went into the family room, and there was my mom, sleeping on the couch. “Mom, is everything ok?” I asked. She got up in a fog. “Oh, I’m fine.” I realized that the tv, was not turned on. And I know she can’t understand how to use the remote, even though, I’ve shown her, it’s only one button to turn it on and off. It is understood, that this tv, must be on channel 6, for her, when I leave, so she can watch her ‘story.’ Apparently someone, didn’t turn it on for her. Neither, did my daughter make her coffee.

I went upstairs to reprimand my daughter. “Look, all you had to do was make sure the tv was on for her and make her coffee. If you worked late and you’re tired, just get up to take care of this and go back to bed.” Well, I guess, this would be one reason, that my mom was happy I was home, regardless of how annoying I am.

I’m trying to learn to ‘let go.’ My son told me that I need to trust him more. He’s right. It’s difficult, but I’ve been working on it. I realized that my daughter needs a good firm push out of the nest.

But the most difficult time I’m having now, is accepting what is happening with my mother. I am asking the Lord to give me strength for that time. I know that He takes care of everything, but my heart is breaking.

I took a survey the other day. It asked questions about abandonment, and trauma’s. I had to answer that I’ve experienced everything on that list. But it hasn’t gotten easier. I’m trusting the Lord with my heart, and I realize that this is the greatest faith, I can have. It’s a fearful thing to place my heart in His hands. I know He understands the wounds which have caused this. And I know He is helping me to take a step in faith.

Still, when I’m alone, I find myself grieving. It’s all the sadness from my past and my present, enveloping me. And then, I feel Him. Holding me and speaking words of love. Just as that nurse did, so many years ago. He reminds me that He will protect me, just as He always has. And He will do this for my loved ones, as well.

“When I am afraid, I will trust in Him.”

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