Sunday, December 23, 2012

"The Christmas Party"

It's only a few days til Christmas 2012. It seems just yesterday that I was writing last year's blog while mother was living with me. I have left work today early, to come home and do a mound of baking for my family and my husband's mom who is recovering from a back surgery. I am in a bit of a hurry, since mother's "Christmas Party" at the home will begin today at 2:00 pm and I am some 4 hours away from cooking 3 roasts with gravy, a ten pound bag of potatoes, and green beans. Christmas holds a lot of meanings for different people. For me, it's the day that my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was born. I am so thankful that I was born and raised in a home, where God was on the fore front of everything we did. As a child, every night before bed, mother, daddy and the siblings that were still at home, would gather in our living room and bow before a Mighty King...Jesus! Many times, my dad would be in his pajamas, with the leg of them pulled up as he kneeled. When he was in the Navy in World War II, during a night of regret, he had a "rooster" tattooed on his left leg. My daddy had a usual saying in his prayer of "protect and do." My sister Sue and I would giggle every time, as it sounded like "ta-tect-ta-do" as if his rooster had crowed the phrase. Life was good at the Gibson family home and my mother was the matriarch of my faith. I can see her through the years, sitting quietly, reading and studying her Bible for hours. She taught Sunday School for as many years as I can remember, sang in the choir with a beautiful alto voice and forever walked a strong and spiritual life. Just last week, a niece had visited the nursing home where mother resides. While passing through, heard someone singing Christmas Carols over everyone else. As she looked in, there was mother, remembering every word of every song,and singing louder than anyone. Several times since mother has been there, I have rolled her to a confined space and asked her to pray for me. It is an amazing thing to see someone with dementia, who can barely remember what you said five seconds prior, bowing her head and asking God for His tender mercies. My daughter Hannah has arrived home from college and is accompanying me to the home's "Annual Christmas Party." Not knowing what to expect, but imagining that there will be Christmas Carols sung, gifts handed out and treats for us all, we drive up the cove to be with mother and "Mema" for a special event. We enter through the front door and see that the residents are moving towards the large dining room. We begin to head that way as well. As I round the corner, I can see Ms. Genelle, the dietician, guarding a beautiful buffet table in the hall hosting an array of all types of Christmas goodies. Someone informs me that mother is already in the dining hall. I peek in and see the whole room is full. Standing on my tiptoes, looking for mother, I hear someone blurt out, "Where did that 'turd' come from?" Knowing that this person sounds familiar, I quickly turn my head and yes, there entered mother. I stepped over to her and begin to motion to her to be quiet, before everyone heard. I realized it was too late. If mother dares to see a glimpse of a smile on mine or anyone else's face after she's rolled something embarrassing off her demented lips, it won't be long before another one follows. Today was no different, the next thing that came out was "why, this isn't nothing but a 'manure pile in here!" Reaching frantically, I grab mother's wheel chair, and as fast as she rolled in, I roll her out, explaining to the people that I would not be attending the party and would visit with mother in the front room instead. Heading down the hall, I spy a gentleman who looks as if he is there for the same reason as me, to visit a loved one. He smiles as we pass and mother blurts out another zinger. The look on the man's face was priceless. Life has a way of writing it's own history. Today, I have come to share a memorable day with the woman who gave me life, and to celebrate the birth of the man who gave HIS life. Somehow, I can't help but think, that even Jesus got a kick out of this "Christmas Party!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Long Gone"

It's a Friday afternoon, and today is a day, long awaited, yet bittersweet. Ever since mother began her journey with dementia, we knew that this day would be inevitable; the selling of her home and property. It's been a year almost to the day, since we signed the contract with a realtor. Due to the economy and several issues with the property, that for some reason didn't seem appealing to buyers, we have had a bit of a struggle, finding the perfect buyer. Mother's care has and always will be a reality for years to come and I must add, it doesn't come without a cost. For anyone who owns a home and or property, after its all said and done, you must relinquish it all unless other arrangements are made, years in advance. Over twenty years ago, my dad had passed and mother met her soon to be husband Yates, a shy country bachelor, who stole the heart of not only mother, but the entire Gibson family. My mother soon sold her home and he left his, together, building a beautiful brick home situated on 90 plus acres of grassy farmland. Every inch of this house was decided by mother and Yates. If I was to be truthful, I would say, "by mother," choosing the very best of everything that was to make up her "dream home." I recall one instance where, the family began to notice that there was no toilet paper holder or towel rack in the hall bath. Upon inquiring as to why, my mother replied that she didn't want "holes" drilled in the wall to accommodate these necessities. Mother and Yates lived on their cattle farm for many years to come with mother, falling in love with every cow and calf that stepped foot on their property. Years went by and this place became everything to mother...until dementia came. As I have recorded in my earlier blogs, mother's home soon became a living nightmare to her and those she loved, with hallucinations of anything from young children, to cliff jumpers,to animals of all colors and entities. As my husband and I sit in the lawyers office, I anxiously await the arrival of this couple who has also, fell in love with mother's home and property. The door slowly opens, and in walks the two people who will soon take residence in mother's home. I began to have emotions that I hadn't thought of. Fighting back the tears, I shake hands with them and quickly observe this couple to be the perfect choice. My mind wonders back to all the days of my mother and her "dream home," knowing how sad she would be to know that we had sold it all, but in agreement that it was something that had to be done. I feel deep in my heart that she would be pleased with the couple who will take she and Yates' place on Martin Walker Road. Days have passed and I head up to the nursing home for one of my visits. I encounter her in the front room, which is unusual, but happy to know that I won't have far to walk to get her and bring her up. She begins to tell me that she has been down at some restaurant and didn't have to cook today. I talk to her about the usual, and have a quirky need to somehow, receive from her, even though in a demented state, her permission to have sold her beautiful home that meant everything in the world to her years prior. I began to say things like, "mother, do you remember living with me last year?" She says, "where do you live?" Then I move on to, "do you remember your farm where you and Yates lived?" She says, "seems like I do, I guess it's long gone now...just like everything else." I accept her words as some sort of a comfort, knowing that possibly she had settled it all, years before, just as you or I have done as we placed a cherished figurine or picture on a shelf, knowing that one day, more than likely, will be removed by someone who will toss it in a box without a second thought or place it on a yard sale table. May God bless each and everyone of you who is facing the same struggles as my family and I have. Only God has the answers to it all.

Friday, September 28, 2012


TGIF! Yes, it's Friday! I have had one more week! My middle granddaughter, thinking I was in need of a gift, gave me her head and chest cold, so I've been battling that all week. As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I work at a Baptist Association office and this past week was a busy time there as well, with our Fall Revival services each night. My boss has decided to let me leave a little early today, to go see mother and run some errands. My oldest granddaughter is a freshmen at Appalachian State and tomorrow is "family day." Knowing that she is looking forward to her Papa and Nana coming for a visit, accompanied with plenty of edible treats, I am in a rush to go by the nursing home to have a short visit with mother and then off to Wally World to pick up my ingredients. As I walk toward mother, I see her eyes opening wide. Unlike most days when I walk up on her, she seems to be awake and alert. "Howdy!" I say. We go on with our routine of "where did you come from?" and so on... She quickly wants to know where we're going. As usual, I wheel her up the hall to our favorite room. It isn't long til mother is saying she needs to make a restroom visit. I roll her back to her room and do the honors. Looking at my watch, I see that I need to be leaving in order to get my shopping done and back home at a decent time. Two of mother's caregivers join us and mother begins telling them about a little boy who is down the hall and had given her some ill feelings. Years ago, this scene would make me cringe, but now, it's just part of the day. I say my goodbyes and off I go. I enter Walmart and head for the grocery section. One of my granddaughter's request, is that I make her a batch of chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal cookies. As I round the aisle to pick up some oatmeal, I encounter a woman in her 70's. She seems to be lost. I ask, "can I help you look for something?" I'm not sure what it is about me, I must look like I belong in a department store with a "Can I Help You?" badge on. So many times throughout my life, people will automatically come up to me in a store and ask if I work there. One of the most unusual thing that happened to me was some time back in the early 80's. I had just been shopping in Kmart and leaving the store. A very tall man approached me at the door. He looked up at the ceiling and said..."Wait! don't I know you? Have we been together in a different time or something?" Had he not been looking up at the ceiling the whole time or wasn't talking so goofy, I might have found that flattering. Anyway, today was unlike any other. This lady, who seemed to have a question on her puzzled face, had came in my direction. She begins to cry and say that she has looked all over the store for "grits" and can't find them. I tell her that they most certainly must be down here where I'm headed to pick up some oatmeal. She suddenly begins telling me that she is sorry for taking up my time and she would hurry. She says, "You know, hurry is the story of my life!" I have three family members in the nursing home with Alzhiemer's and all I do is run back and forth taking care of them. I even cared for my daddy til he died in 1991. She continued telling me her life story. I had noticed that she was missing all her teeth as she first began to speak. She voluntarily told that she had written herself a note to put her dentures in before leaving the house, but forgot. Many things she was telling me, seem to parallel with my life. I could clearly see that she was demented. I left the aisle and told her it was nice talking to her. As I made my way back to the dairy and back, there she was, standing with a man who was unpacking lunch meats. I could hear her as I passed by, telling him the same stories. I roll my cart into the checkout, behind at least 3 others with full carts. I look at a nearby empty checkout that says "20 items or less" I remark to the lady in front of me that they should have a checkout that says "20 bags or less!" Catching myself, speaking to a stranger in the store, just as the elderly lady had to me, I backed off from conversation. As I take my turn to checkout, I start thinking about how little my car is and how much "stuff" I've bought. I remember that I had forgotten to memorize the row number before coming inside, so I wouldn't get lost when I came out. As I make my way out, I am overwhelmed with a sea of vehicles. The glare of the sun beats down on them all, making each car look the same. Thinking what will I do, I head on into the lot, frantically looking for my tiny white car. Walking around for at least 5 minutes, I glance to my right and see and hear the same demented lady. She is lost too! And is searching for her car, just like me! I quickly spy my vehicle, throw my groceries in and take off. I'm not sure why this lady became a part of my world today, maybe it was a reminder for me to "slow down," and stop trying to save the world for everybody as apparently this lady had done, from the story she told. I just pray that it's not too late!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"A Different Visit"

Running up the cove for a short visit with mother right before Church, I am interested to see what she might be up to. Heading down the hall, I spy her, sitting with her head leaned back in her wheelchair, mouth wide open, asleep. I walk up to her and whisper in her ear...wake up! Mother has an older cousin at the home now, who has a mind as sharp as a tack. I was talking to her one day and she told me that mother sleeps with her mouth so wide open, that she could put an egg in it. Mother sits up as I speak to her, "well where did you come from?" she inquires. "Oh, from Santa's land" I tease. I began to roll her up to the front room. I don't know what it is about that room, but I love to sit there. Even if I wasn't visiting mother, I'd still like to just sit there and relax. The orange and yellow decor is somehow soothing to my inner beast. Thinking that mother probably feels the same, I enjoy rolling her up there while we visit. Sitting in the sunlight glow of the room, mother begins to nap. A car pulls up and an elderly man with a cane slowly slides out of the front seat and makes his way to the front door of the nursing home. I then see a much younger man walking around the back of the vehicle, who joins him at the door. As the door pulls open, mother jumps and calls out "is it snowing out there?" Thinking that I would be embarrased as to mother's words, I look at both men with a quirky face. Only to find that neither one seem to have heard her question. On down the hall they go, as if they are headed for a very important appointment and have arrived late. As I rejoin mother, I can hear a slight commotion. A woman is crying profusely, as to sob, saying "Why have you left me here?" "Take me home!" "I don't want to be here!" "You promised!" Now, I have told you in earlier blogs about my mother's "sonic hearing." Since then, I have discovered that I am not far behind her. Pulling into the grocery store one day, gas pumps were located just down the hill. I exited my car, and heard two people conversing as if they were next to my car. I looked all around me and no one was there. Looked again, and I could see approximately 100 yards down the hill at the gas pumps, two people talking. I was able to hear every word they were saying as if they were right beside me. When telling others about this incident, I have joked that possibly extraordinary hearing is a symptom of dementia, since the brain shrinks, leaving plenty of room for the ear canal to function. I will investigate this theory of mine, another day. So, here we sit, all the way at the end of the hall in the front room, with the visitors at the other end, and it sounds as if they are standing right beside us. Mother begins to make a inquisitive face as to what is happening. Just about that time, a resident, who like mother, wheels around the home with great ease and has the same curse, "dementia," rolls into the room, she stops at the door, turns and goes toward the restroom, stops there, wheels back around in our direction. She comes over to me with a look on her face as if she's a child and has soiled herself. I ask "are you alright?" "No" she says. "I have wet myself!" and begins to cry. I get up, assuring her that she will be alright and wheel her back down the hall to get the necessary help. There I see sitting nearby, the lady who was sobbing so, accompanied by the man with the cane and the younger man. My eyes make contact with hers as she sits on the edge of her wheelchair. She looks at me as if to say, "Don't look at me like that, I don't belong here!" I turn and go back up the hall to mother. My heart is heavy for the woman, and I began to cry. There was just something about this woman that touched my heart. Visiting mother several times a week, I have come to hear many cries, rants, raves and sobs from the residents here, but this was different. This lady didn't seem demented or decrepid. Her voice was that of someone who might be your neighbor, someone you work with, the checkout lady at the grocery store... me..or you. It was getting time to leave for Church, so I roll mother back to her room. As we start up the hall, the younger man is walking by. Normally I wouldn't be so bold, but because my heart broke for the lady so, I stopped him and asked if she was his mother, hoping he would devulge some information. He began to tell me the situation. Her husband was the man with the cane. He lives at another nursing facility, and she had to be here since there was only one room available. They had been married for some 64 years. He had picked his father-in-law up to bring him to see his wife and spend the day with her, but had gotten a late start. The woman, thinking she has been forsaken had wits on end. Hearing this explanation, somewhow made me feel better. I have asked myself, just why did that upset me so much? My conclusion is that one day, I know my inevitable fate. My mother will be 84 years old this December. I'll be 59, the same month. I cannot imagine that my brain will survive another 25 years. I fear the sentence of dementia each and every day, each and every misspoken word, every look that I get when I do a goofy thing that most people might laugh at. I pray for families all over the world, that one day, there will be a cure for this dreaded disease, dementia. The theif that is stealing the very souls from the ones we love.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"I Miss You!"

We all have loved ones who come and go in our life, sons and daughters who may be away at college, armed forces, or living in far away states. Knowing that they can't be with us right now, but will once again, grace our presence, is something we all live for and gives us momentarily peace. During the early years of my married life, I lived far away in another state. Back in those days, there was no such instrument as a cell phone. Being I was a "mama's girl" many hours and dollars would be spent a week, calling my mother, sharing news of a new baby's tooth, a step that was taken or just a sad day, longing to be back in North Carolina. Eventually, our family was able to move back home and I would once again, share the day to day life with my mother. So many days were spent on shopping, trips, visits to siblings who lived out of town, family dinners, church life, you name it, we would be together. She was always there for me. Most importantly, she was my confidant, and I hers. She was my mother. When you have a loved one with Alzheimers or Dementia, you find yourself missing that person, even while they're in your presence. I stop into the home today, just to see mother for a minute. Knowing that it's lunch time, I don't want to interfere with her eating, so I tell her that I have an appointment, and just wanted to stop by and say hey. My heart is heavy with many troubles of the day, I have a yearning of saying "Mother, I need to talk to you about something, and you tell me what to do," as I have so many times though the years. Hours and hours on end have been spent, pouring out my heart to this woman who I entrusted with all my inner secrets and shortcomings. I sit down in a chair to the right of her, and as the first bite of food goes into her mouth, I hear her say, "Shoo, I'm not eating that!" The attendant quickly comes over and comments that she'll be right back with one of mother's favorite, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's not long before she has fulfilled her promise. Mother sits unwrapping her sandwich as a young child would unwrap their presents on Christmas morning. As I watch this scene unfold, I feel an emptiness in my stomach. For all the person that this woman has been to me and others in her life, is this what it all comes down to? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I say goodbye, and began my drive back home, tears cloud my vision. Crying out "Mother! I miss you! Come back to me! I need to talk to you! God help me, I want my mother!" I know that many of you have lost loved ones, with never a promise of ever seeing their face again this side of Heaven. I too, lost my dad some twenty years ago. I know loss. Never imagining that anything could compare to death of a loved one, I now know that there are some things worse. Please God... The Serenity Prayer God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen. --Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


It's two days before the fourth of July and my family is headed out for a beach trip. I want to say a quick goodbye to mother, knowing that I will be away from her for the longest time since her entry into the nursing home. I have purposely chosen a time when she will be finished with her lunch and I can do my usual of curling her hair while we "chat." I hurriedly head up the hall, thinking I will find her sitting next to her new found "husband." For the past several months now, mother has chosen a poor unassuming gentleman who resides at the home, to be her deceased husband "Yates." Not long ago, I came for a visit and there she sat, next to "her Yates." I said, mother come on, let's go up the hall and sit in the front room." She gave me a look that would kill and said "we can't leave Yates here!" Assuring her that he would be alright, I began to push her wheelchair forward. Mother grabbed the nearest thing in sight, the big toe of a lady in her reclining chair. The woman began to holler "OH, OH" until a worker came to the rescue. Today, I glance in mother's room as I pass by. Instead of her bed made, I see someone lying in there. Stopping in my tracks, I turn and go in. There lays mother, breathing very short, hard breaths. I am concerned and see that her roommate is just outside the door. "What is wrong with mother?" I ask. She begins to inform me that mother has been up all night with a stomach virus. I then walk down to the nurse's desk and inquire. The nurse confirms the information. Returning to her bedside, I stroke her forehead and sit at the foot of the bed. Barely able to speak and visibly ridden with discomfort, mother orders me to "go, or you'll catch it too!" Here she is, can hardly remember if I've been there or not 5 minutes after I've left, or anything about anything, but she can still remember to be my mother, with instincts of protecting her child. For months now, as I sit and visit with my mother, I can feel the ties that have always bound us together as mother and daughter, wavering. Struggling to see the mother that I once idolized in this thin shell. Today, I leave the home with a renewed idea that I still have a mother that wants to protect me. If we're honest, no matter how old we get, we will all have that need to be loved and protected by our mother, til we die.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It's coming up on six months now since mother entered the nursing home. I have cut my visits down from daily, to every other day now, except for Saturdays. It's a Thursday, and I have come for a visit. I open the front door to the home and instantly see the figure of a small, gray haired woman, sitting in her wheelchair, barely recognizable as my mother, staring at me as I walk down the hall. "You look like my Jean!" she says. I laugh a little and say "I do!" She replies back, "And you sound like her too!" Looking at a nurse standing, observing it all at the nurses station, I began to play mother a little bit. "Well, I guess that I might just be your Jean" I say. "Well, how did you get to be my daughter?" she asks. Grinning at the nurse, with a quick wink, I say "I guess you birthed me!" Mother begins to give that all familiar laugh of hers, showing every tooth in her head. Mother's room is located just around the corner which she shares with a lady of similar age, but who has all her faculties in tact. When mother lived at my house, I would give her the three "C's" as needed: Cut, Color and Curl. I was always determined that I would never allow my mom's hair to become gray. I had asked this question of her many times way back when her mind was not as demented as now, "Mom, when you get old and unable to have your hair done, do you still want me to color it?" Her answer would always be, "Well, I guess I do!" This isn't the first promise I've had to break, but one that I'm reminded of every time I see her. Every day upon arriving, I quickly wheel mother to her room, plug her curling iron in and began to curl away, somehow thinking that if I keep her hair curled, the color of it wouldn't be as noticeable. Mother's roommate, fills me in on the happenings in "the home" while I do the honors. It was just a few nights ago, that I had a call from one of the nurses on duty, informing me that mother had become agitated at one of her fellow residents and gave them a punch. I had noticed mother becoming more and more outspoken and aggressive over the past few months. Most of her medication had been stopped in order to keep her awake more. I must say, I was a little set back, at the thought of my beautiful, kind and loving mother, punching somebody. After being assured that everything was under control and that the doctor would be notified of mother's behavior in case medication was needed for her agitation, I felt a little reassured that the poor recipient of mother's bad deed would be alright. Upon telling the incident to some of my family members, we have jokingly named her "Rocky." My husband is a member of the local Rescue Squad, which entitles him to sport around an emergency radio most places he goes. Last night, I was sitting back watching "Wheel of Fortune" when he opened the door and announced that it had come over his radio that the Fire Department had been summoned to "the nursing home" and he wouldn't be surprised if "Rocky" hadn't pulled the alarm. As I continue to curl mother's hair, I purposely mention the fire alarm incident to her roommate, and in turn, is obliged to tell me the details. She states that it was just a test, with someone coming over the loud speaker, telling everyone that things were alright. I look away and breathe a sigh of relief with a slight grin on my face. I guess if you look hard enough, one can find a little humor in anything. A lot of mother's caregivers stop by her room during my visits and I enjoy a tale or two that they share with me about shenanigans that mother has been up to. I don't know about all nursing facilities, but I can really feel a "since of family" at this nursing facilty. I unplug my curling iron, say my goodbyes, and head out. As I'm walking down the hall, I can hear my mother talking and sense that she is following me. I dare not look back, but quickly walk out the door. I have a habit of telling her when I leave, that I need to go and run the church bulletins off at the church before it gets dark. This little fib has saved me many a time from her not wanting me to leave. Even though mother is deep in dementia, somewhere down inside her, she still remembers that I have always typed our church bulletin. Dementia has not yet taken the love of the Lord from her heart, and gives permission for her daughter to go and serve HIM, even if it's just to type a church bulletin.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


My days are becoming a little more usual now. The feelings of anxiety that I once experienced when mother first entered the nursing facility, have all but left me. I still have my moments, but for the most part, I have accepted the fact that this is the way it has to be.

I go to work each morning, then on most days, head on up the mountain for a short visit with mother. I will find her having lunch or just finishing up. The workers here seem to be exceptionally nice and caring.

As I make my way up the hall to the dining room, there to my right is the office of a lady who attended mine and mother's church when she was a little girl. Mother was also a co-worker of her mother's back in the 70's. You can imagine how unusual it is to be standing beside a grown up woman now, giving information to me about mother's care and all you can do is see the little freckled face girl, which you once knew.

I round the corner, there I see my old neighborhood friend, who lived just over the way from me, as a child, playing til dark each night until mother would call me in for supper. He has held many titles in his life, but felt that God was leading him here to work as custodian, as well as Chaplain. He is able to be close by mother at any given time. We talk and tease each other as we have done so for years.

Walking into the dining room, I see the food that's prepared by a wonderful Christian lady who visits our church every homecoming Sunday to sing in the choir, play the piano and just fellowship with everybody. She's the dietician.

This picture is becoming very familiar to me as I relate it to one of my favorite childhood movies, "The Wizard of Oz." If you're familiar with the movie, Dorothy was taken far away from her family and loved ones by a tornado (so she thought) to a land called "Oz." The characters that she met on her way; the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow, were actually all her friends back at her home, but playing different roles.

As I leave mother today, I am comforted to know that these previous "co-stars" surround her. We never know who God will place in our lives or the roles He will give them to play; possibly starring with us more than once before it's all said and done.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"A Daughter Again"

The last couple of months around here had been all telling. Mother's right knee began to really bother her back in October. Her orthopedic doctor had told us that the only real relief mother could ever have, would be knee replacement. We knew that this procedure was bad enough for someone who was all about them self, not to mention someone with dementia. However, we still had to address the problem of mother's knee pain and Tylenol was just not enough.

Back in the spring, mother had faced the same dilemma and was offered "Gel shots" to her knee. Even though she experienced some decline at that time in her walking..we felt that it evened out after awhile. To be honest, we were ready to try anything.

Sometime in November, mother began having her three gel shots to the knee once again. I began noticing some swelling and asked the doctor. He assured me that it wasn't coming from the shots. As time went on, mother seemed to become slower and slower in her walk. During this time, she and I also, contracted a stomach virus, which sat her back as well. It seems that I have told this story a hundred times; that mother went from walking, to a cane, to a walker and then a wheelchair, all within ten days. I struggled with trips to the bathroom with her as I would have to lift her from the couch to the wheelchair, causing a tight and uncomfortable back for myself. It wasn't until I came down to get her up one morning and realized that she was not being able to hardly move at all, that I knew something had to be done.

My daughter Blythe, who cared for mother while I worked half a day, came over and assisted me in getting her up and to the bathroom. I made the decision that morning, to carry her to the ER. The rest is history. After many tests, scans, x-rays and the like were ran, mother was found to have a small UTI. The doctor assured us that this was not enough to cause mother's decline. They seemed to think that a deterioration of her dementia was causing the problems. A CT scan showed no unusual activity to the brain, however, an event could have still been possible.

The doctor came in and told me that they were admitting mother to the hospital for the UTI and they would give her antibiotics and see if she could pull out of this slump, but if not, she would not be able to return home with me, as I could no longer care for her by myself. These words were devastating to me, even though I have to admit I didn't know how much longer I would be able to continue on the way things were.

Mother stayed a total of 8 days in the hospital. Efforts to restore her walking were unsuccessful. Swallowing became an issue for her while in the hospital as well, thus, a new diet of pureed foods was prescribed.

The doctor's orders were that she must go to a skilled nursing facility. The one thing that I never, ever wanted to accept, had become a life line for mother and myself.

The hospital assisted in finding mother a room at a nearby facility where she would be able to have rehabilitation and special care that was needed.

It's been almost three weeks now since mother entered the nursing home. I have had so many emotions in and out of my mind and body since that day, that sometimes, I wasn't sure if I would be able to survive it all. With a lot of faith in God and encouragement from friends and loved ones, I am healing. The one thing that gives me peace and assurance, besides God Himself, is knowing that mother really has no clue of where she is and that she is where she needs to be right now.

The love that I have for my mother, was enough. It turned out that there just wasn't enough of "me."

I try to visit mother on most days, still loving her as much as I always did. It's like one of the nurses said to me, "Now, you can be a daughter to your mother again, instead of her caregiver."

Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as we continue on this journey of dementia.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Broken Promises"

Dear Mother,

Today, I am writing you a letter, for the words I want to say to you are too hard to speak.

Through the years, you have been my everything; my hero, my inspiration, my guide and counselor and most of all my mother. Somehow, it just doesn't seem fair that it has all come down to one day which will change your life and mine, forever.

Today was one of the hardest days I have ever lived. Leaving you to start a new life in a home of perfect strangers was heart wrenching. I thank God that you really don't understand where you are. Once again, unwillingly, I call dementia my friend.

Entering my house, I feel an emptiness. I catch a glimpse of your blue chair sitting by the window and my heart breaks. Hurrying up the stairs, I dare not glance at the double glass doors where hundreds of times I have watched you pass through. I miss you.

So many promises were made to you when I decided to bring you to my house to live. Promises that I had every intention of fulfilling, but have broken. "You will live with me 'til you die Mama" I told you. "We will have a good time Mama, we can take you places," "you'll be able to go to church now, to the beach," "and you'll never have to move again" I said. I'm sorry, please forgive me.

I promise you now, I will always be there for you, day or night. I'll visit you relentlessly, I'll be your voice, your advocate, your strength.

Lastly, I want to say "thank you," for being the most wonderful mother a girl could ever have. After all these things, you still look at me and say "I love you too." You will always be my beautiful mother, I love you without end.---Jean