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Monday, February 28, 2011

an almost normal day

If  you don't count the trips to the Lantern to check on Dad and finishing cleaning out my mother's apartment with Sharon, the day was basically uneventful. Dad's breathing stayed steady and his bp is great. The nurses are remarking that they wish they had bp as good as he does. Both his sisters have come into town and are keeping vigil by his bedside. They are doing their best to be here in Mom's stead.

I climbed but did not conquer Mount Washmore today. If tomorrow is equally uneventful perhaps I will make more progress. I am writing this blog earlier than I usually do hoping to go to bed early too. I just hope I don't get an eleven o'clock summons to Dad's side. Not that I am sleeping that well even when I do sleep. Maybe it is the grief but I feel tired almost all the time.

I am looking forward to eating some Mocha Almond Pie tomorrow. It is a great favorite of mine but I had lost the recipe. I told a friend of mine that I had lost it and she shipped not only the recipe but all the ingredients from Washington, D.C. The pie has to freeze overnight so tomorrow I will be sampling that. I am finding it is the little things I have to look forward to right now. I think I mentioned in an earlier blog not remembering how Mom's voice sounded. I got a pleasant surprise tonight when driving her car. My kids wanted me to use the on-star to make a phone call. So I called out a name and to my delight Mom's recorded voice saying that name came back at me. Okay, delight might be a bit off since it made me happy and very sad at the same time. I am still existing in almost a state of disbelief that she is really gone. I don't think this is one you get over, it is just a loss that you incorporate into your being and move forward.

Tonight, I sat at the table eating out of a pint of ice cream that I had bought for myself last week. Kelsey said, "Why do you get a whole thing to yourself?" and I said, "Many years from now, when I die, I give you permission to buy a pint of ice cream for yourself too."She said, "I'd rather have you than the ice cream."

Me too.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Just when you think it's time to say goodbye...

Three times today my cell phone vibrated in my pocket (which is its new home) with a summons to Dad's death bed. The first while listening to a great sermon about strength through adversity. I walked out the door to answer it and the caregiver said she'd been with Dad all night and his breathing had changed drastically. So, I stuck my head back into the sanctuary and gave my sister the wave the come on, it was time. We rushed over to The Lantern and waited. Dad's BP was around 99/64 and his breathing sounded labored. His respirations were higher than normal. An hour later we were still waiting. My other sister, who has to come from Ga, arrived, her son with her. He came over to Dad's bedside and gave a very touching good-bye to his grandpa. I was very proud to be his aunt and I know Dad would have been honored to hear him. Or maybe he did hear him. We just don't know.Then as quickly as it started, his breathing evened out, his blood pressure rose and he evened out.

My sisters and I still needed to work on cleaning out Mom's apartment so Sharon went that way while Cindy and I went to our homes to change into work clothes from our church clothes. Then I got another call. He had developed apnea which is usually a sign of impending death. I rushed back over. Dad's breathing was sporadic. He would breath for about 30 sec and then not breath at all for 15 sec. Then the not-breathing spans would last longer. I prayed for my sisters to be able to get there in time. They arrived and for the next couple of hours, we sat counting the seconds each time he stopped breathing, wondering if that time was the time he wouldn't take the next shuddery breath but it always came. Finally, around six, his breathing evened out again. His blood pressure was completely normal at 122 over another normal number. This was not to be it. All day long sitting, crying, and he is still breathing. It is a weird scenario because it isn't that I want my Dad to die but I know he isn't going to come back from this one. So I know I am going to have to grieve the big one and am now just waiting for the actual death so I can begin to do so. His body is so strong and that will to live seems to be outrunning even his own mind.

When I got home around ten tonight, my daughter had been unable to sleep because she had been crying. She said she wanted to see her Grandpa because she was afraid he was going to die while she was a school like her Nana did. So, she and I headed back to the Lantern and she got to see him for maybe the last time. Then again, as I told her, he may be around in two weeks. As my aunt said, my Dad pushed his body in Ranger school and taught it many years ago to push on through adversity and that finely tuned machine has decided it is not going to let him down. I am getting ready to go to bed but don't know when my phone is going to ring. When it does, I'll throw on some clothes and head that way for the vigil again. I'm feeling a little bit like the townspeople in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Only this boy is my dad and the false alarms aren't on purpose. At least, I don't think so, Dad always was a bit of a trickster. My aunt suggested today that perhaps Dad's spirit had already moved on and it was only his body left. If so, he's probably having a big 'ole time up there in the heavens saying, "Gotcha again." One of these times is going to be the last time. The way things are going, he probably will give us no notice and we will be looking away and then realize suddenly his perfect peace has arrived. No matter how many times they call, I will go as fast as possible because that is what you do when the man who taught you honesty, perseverance, how to ride a bike, and how to trust in God finally says good-bye.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keep on Keepin on

I woke at five this morning unable to fall back askeep. All I could wonder was if this was the day my dad would die. There is an hour and half left in the day and it looks like he will make it to Sunday. The thing about that though, is it could change. At any moment, my cell phone could ring and the nurse say, "his breathing has changed, this may be it." And I throw on clothes and rush over. It will either be the end or it won't. There is no way of knowing when the call comes and no way of knowing whether that time will be the last time. I started the day by going over to see Daddy. His vitals had actually improved since last night. I'm not sure how since he continues to receive no food or drink. His feet which had been mottled the night before were more pink and his fingernails had lost their blue cast. Dad's body is refusing to let go even though his mind has checked out.

In between staying with Dad, we continued cleaning out Mom's apartment. My sister very lvingly allowed me to have a table I really wanted that has a small elephant statue underneath. I love the table and I love that it reminds me of Mom. I ended the day going to see Daddy and then coming home to kiss my little ones good-night. This day has been emotionally draining. I hope I can sleep tonight and that tomorrow brings no surprises.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

At 6:01 this morning, I awakened without an alarm knowing I needed to get up. Less than one minuete later, my cell phone rang. It was the hospice nurse. She said she had been with Daddy all night and his respiration had begun to change. I said, I'm on my way."  I woke Jeff, gave him instructions about getting the kids to school, threw on some clothes, and headed over to The Lantern. My sisters were on their way. Daddy's breath came slowly but regularly as first Cindy and then Sharon arrived. His face looked flushed and he felt warm. One of the signs of impending death can be a fever. His blood pressure was 90/64.  We stood around Dad telling him we loved him, stroking his hair, or hands. Then slowly his breathing seemed to return to normal. His body is refusing to give up even though he hasn't opened his eyes in days. After a few hours, he stabilized and his blood pressure began rising. The bad thing about that is he is on crisis care right now with hospice which means they are there 20 hours a day. If he improves then they will back off and we will need to either sit with dad or have a sitter there so we will know when the end approaches. One of my sisters suggested that Mom had petitioned God to bring Dad on up since she was there already. I am afraid we may have many dry runs before Dad finally gives up this world.

The rest of my day was spent at Mom's apartment trying to clean it out. The place isn't that large and yet the process seems to be taking forever. There are pots and pans all over the kitchen cabinet. Clothes are bagged and ready to go the the Samaritan Center all over her bedroom. Papers, magazines, get well cards, and financial papers litter the tabletops and floors. We three sisters have divided and chosen and picked over possessions that have been in our family for years. It has to be done and yet feels so wrong. Jeff and I have been talking about whether to return to Knoxville. The idea of packing and moving again so soon makes me want to cry. Then again, as my sister-in-law said, it isn't taking much to make that happen these days. I am so tired. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Can losses be added or only subtracted?

My sisters, brother-in-law, and I met with Hospice at Erlanger North today. Because of Dad's condition they are approving him for crisis care. This means that he will have someone with him 20 hours a day. Due to the fact that he can no longer eat or drink and we have opted out of a feeding tube, they are estimating he will only live about two more weeks. The feeding tube decision was more about what he would want although I don't want to see him like he is any longer than it has to be. The Marvin Graves I have always known would hate being unable to function. This leaves us with the option of drugging him and letting him sleep the rest of his life or letting him toss around, unable to communicate, with us not knowing whether he is in pain, or hungry, or thirsty. Even now, with his body so weakened, he tried to throw his legs over the side of the bed. His eyes were still closed but he is so used to moving he does it almost automatically. We will continue to have to make choices but for now we have chosen to medicate him in the hopes that he will not be uncomfortable. There is no good decision. As much as it pains me to lose my Dad, I hope God takes him home soon. No one ought to have to be subjected to the loss of dignity. Especially not my proud, handsome, smart father. The nurse said she will call if his respiration changes. That will be the sign that his passing is imminent. So now, everytime my cell phone buzzes I will have to wonder if this is it.

This leaves us waiting having to decide what to do about a funeral, again. One suggestion was a private funeral but we all felt that in the long run that wouldn't do Dad's life justice. We certainly are proud of the life he led. It isn't his fault Mom just died. It seems like the best solutinon for now but I know I would regret it later. I will certainly understand if people do not want to drive over and do the funeral thing again. I know I don't want to. But I will. I find much of my days are about what I don't want to do.

We are going through Mom's things now. We have to move her out as soon as possible. So, we are having to decide who gets what childhood memory. It is a delicate process as each of us tries to make sure we have something precious while not causing anyone else distress. So far, the couch is beginning to fill with items we will need to draw for because we all want them. None of these things are mom or dad and yet they are the only tangable things we will have from our lives with them, besides each other. Not one thing in that apartment is worth my relationship with my sisters. I try to keep that in mind as I look at this picture or that piece of jewelry or antique. Dad said in his letter to Mom that if he lost everything and still had her by his side he would consider himself lucky. I want to put my peace in God and people not things. Which doesn't mean there aren't times when I desperately want one thing or another thinking it gives me a link to Mom and Dad that outlasts the grave. It seems like it is harder to get out of bed each morning. I know I can and I know I will because people depend on me but it would be nice to just lay there for a day with no crisis. I wonder when or if that time will come?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It just keeps coming

Went to Dad's treatment team this morning at Erlanger North. They do not anticipate any recovery for him and have suggested we get Hospice in and prepare for his death. He will have a hospital bed and a caregiver at night. It seems Dad has decided to follow Mom to her reward. My sister pointed out how unusual that was since in life, it was always Mom following Dad. The news didn't come as a shock. In fact, I think maybe I'm a bit numbed out due to dealing with Mom's passing to even really contemplate losing what is left of Dad too. Not that this numbness will keep the inevitable from occurring. Does it count as being an orphan if you are already an adult? 

Tomorrow, Sharon and I are meeting at Mom's to begin cleaning it out. Cindy began packing some things today.  One of Mom's neighbor's called me tonight and after offering her condolences asked if she could buy Mom's kitchen stuff. I told her she could have it after my sisters and I took anything that was sentimental to us. I ought to be glad to give it to her since I know she was one of the women Mom took to church regularly. I guess I am but it feels a little weird somehow. She said before moving her to Greenbriar, her son had an estate sale with all her stuff and didn't invite her. Because of this, she is missing some basic kitchen supplies. I realize I am only getting her side of the story but that sounds pretty harsh.

At some point we will look at Mom's jewelry. We'd all like to have something that was important to her. But in thinking about what that might be, have realized she didn't set much store on material things. She has some nice pieces of jewelry but none of which she wore all the time. I found her wedding band this morning. Not the diamond ring guard she has worn for the last several years but the simple, white gold band I remember her wearing when I was a child. She stopped wearing it because it grew thin on the bottom and she was afraid it would eventually break. I slipped it on my finger but didn't find it brought Mom any closer. Cindy also gave me Mom's necklace tonight. It is beautiful with three, lovely diamonds in it. I know Mom wore it a lot but I don't know the story. I could make one up. The three diamonds could represent her three daughters or it could just be she thought the piece was pretty. I can't ask her now. There are so many things left unasked. I keep looking at the necklace and playing with it as if it were some talisman to bring her to me. I still hope to see her in my dreams. Most of all I want to hear her voice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

breathe in, breathe out

Daddy continues to hover. The speech therapist gave him a test of swallowing today and he failed. The doctor has put him on an iv-only diet. His right forearm is swathed in gauze to try to keep him from tearing out the iv as he did on a previous night. He slept in a chair while we visited, hiccupping, his arms and legs jerking randomly. Cindy said she guessed the nurses would rush over thinking horrible things if she tried to help him hold his breath. She and I attempted to sing him hymns because he always liked those. One that came into my mind immediately was Swing Low Sweet Chariot which I began to sing until I realized what I was saying. My sisters both gave me stricken looks-awkward.

I don't know how to be with him. The book I've been reading about Alzheimer's says to call them by their first names since they don't remember you. I have to wonder if that counts when he is so asleep. I want to call him Dad. I'd love it if he could remember I was his daughter but I know that isn't going to happen. Still, calling him Dad gives me the illusion that I still have a parent on this earth. We have treatment team with his doctor tomorrow. Perhaps then, he can tell us which way he thinks it is going to go.

Last night I dreamt I was standing in front of a mirror putting on make-up. As I looked closer, I saw that while the main part of my face was fine, I had a horrible, blotched make-up line on the hairline. The more I worked on it the worse it got. Horrible orangey make-up that couldn't blend in any more than I seem to be able to blend back into daily life now that Mom is gone.

I realized in one sobbing moment this afternoon that I have already forgotten how her voice sounds. Rushing home, I played back the old answering machine messages hoping her voice would be on there but it wasn't. Of course not, I have answered every call she has made to me in the last several months so why would there be a message? This was the worst day so far. Much of the day was spent lying on the bed in the back room crying. I did set my phone alarm so I would remember to get the kids. Jeff is still sick so isn't able to help.

People keep asking me if I am going to commemorate her in someway, by writing about her life or her death but I can't imagine how I would do that, other than what I do here. This is for people who know her and Dad. I'm not sure that someone that didn't would be interested or that I would want to try to make them pay attention. They said at the funeral that Mom not only taught us how to live but she taught us how to die too. I never considered myself an author of a tear-jerker so don't know how to write her life. Even though the ultimate ending of heaven is happy, right now, that happiness does not overcome the feelings of loss. Mom liked to keep people laughing. Although, we did wonder in the limo yesterday if she was watching all of us singing 'Because he lives' while sobbing and if she was enjoying it just a little. My aunt shared at the funeral yesterday that Mom saved her life while swimming when they were in high school. Another lady at the funeral home shared that Mom had kept her from committing suicide when going through a divorce. These are only two stories that don't include so many friends she counseled in the night. Mom told me a story not too long ago about the only speech she ever gave that was unrehearsed. It was in her debate class. She said she had one speech written and ready for grading but then another girl got up and gave a speech against integration. Mom said it made her so mad she stood up and gave a rebuttal for her grade. I asked her how she did and she said she made an A although the teacher had commented that it was less organized than her usual work. I wonder if Mom knew she had such an impact on the world. I hope so.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The new birthday of Sandra Graves

The title of this blog was the title of her funeral service when the church gave us a copy. I understand the hopeful place they intended the message from. But I didn't like it. I guess because I'm not ready to give up the old birthday of Sandra Graves. And, as much as I would love for my faith to be strong enough, I'm not sure I will ever celebrate on the anniversary of her death. I would never wish more pain on her but I would wish for more good days of laughter. She really loved to laugh. It seems like a grayer place without her here. So many people have lost parents and I guess they all have this disconnected feeling. Which makes sense because Mom was my anchor. Without her, I'm floating into waters I'd rather not enter.

The service itself would have been beautiful and probably was, but it was difficult for me to attend to it with my six year old squirming on my lap. He was very sweet though. He held a kleenex in his hand the whole time and  whispered to me at one point, "this isn't for me. It's for your tears." I do adore that squirmy boy and the things he says. He also asked when the soloist was singing if Mom could hear him. I assured him she could. So I guess I have to believe she can hear me too. I miss you, Mom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Visitation

Be careful what you ask for since my first sentence in last night's blog was that I didn't want to go to church today. This morning my husband had a 102.9 temp so I didn't go to church. Instead, I frantically called around to find someone to watch my kids so I could take him to a minute clinic. While there, I bought some gel soles for my shoes thinking they would help when I stood for several hours in heels at the funeral home. Side note here-they didn't.

I spent much of the morning whining to myself about how unfair it was that my husband was sick on the day of the funeral home visitation. A big thank you to those of you who commiserated. Too bad, I couldn't have accepted it with grace so that my feverish husband did not have to say to me at one point, "I could do without the anger you know." His brother and my sister-in-law came to save the day this afternoon. She ran child interference at the funeral home while his brother stayed with Jeff so I didn't have to worry that he was at home with a spiking fever.

So many people came today. Mom and Dad spent so much of their lives loving people that here at the time of her passing, those people wanted to make sure we knew they were loved back. Early in, I felt my detachment begin to fade in to cover me. I cried very little, in fact, I may not have ever gotten beyond the teary stage. Even though there was only one body in the casket, due to Dad's absence at the funeral home, I felt like I was mourning both parents. The majority of the memories shared began with "Sandra and Marvin were..." For some reason, I never appreciated how much they did together. They were far from absorbed in each other and yet they were a united entity. United by their great faith in the mission of spreading the word about Jesus Christ. Their faith permeated every activity, every action, and every friendship. I couldn't believe the number of people who came because they knew me, or knew Sharon, or knew Cindy. It seems odd to me that anyone didn't know my mother. I am grateful for those people that made sure I got drinks. Kelly, the daughter of one of my mother's dear friends who paved this road before Mom, set herself up near me to make sure I had water. So many others made the trip from Knoxville or even just that people took time out of their day to spend it in a funeral home. I am touched. Although I may have seemed distant, I cherished every hug and every person that said they were praying.

Mom looked beautiful in the casket and entirely too young to be gone. The devil has to be rubbing his hands in glee hoping no one will step up to fill the many roles she graced throughout her life. My brother-in-law said tonight that Mom and Dad had always covered our family in a mantle of prayer and that now it was our turn to begin to carry the responsibility. I would love it if we or even the three sons-in-law began scheduling times to pray for the health and safety of our family. It is such a legacy she has left us. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's almost time for the circus

I don't want to go to church tomorrow. I don't want to go the funeral home. I don't want my mother to be gone. But other than the first, I don't have a choice. Tuesday, I wanted to rest for a day. That day, my mother called about to pass out and it was the beginning of the end. Now, I'd like to climb in bed, pull the covers over my head, and just stay there for awhile. At night, I am so tired but then I don't sleep well. The idea that both my sisters are feeling this way too makes it much worse. I don't know what to do for myself and I don't know what to do for them. There is nothing to close the chasm in our family created by the loss of mom. It's nothing dramatic, no big fights or drunken binges. It's more the idea that nothing can ever be the same. Mom would know what to do or at least make an attempt at it. Today, my sister Sharon and I went over to Mom's place to listen to messages and go through her roladex. It is so difficult to make those phone calls so we took turns. Sharon found a beautiful letter from Dad to Mom on their fourth anniversary. I believe she plans to read it at his funeral.

Tomorrow, we go to the funeral home. We will be there for five hours trying to smile and put on a brave face because our mother was a Chrisitian so we ought to be celebrating. We know she is in a better place, no pain, completely healed but still gone to us. It is hard to celebrate when yhou know you will never again get to hear her voice, or see her green eyes disappear into the wrinkles created by her enormous smile. I want to make her proud. Part of my fear is that my children or my nieces or nephews will not be gracious to people wanting to share their memories. 

Then after we get through those grueling hours we have the service the next day. My daugther asked me why she should go to something that would make her so sad and I didn't have a good answer. Is it just tradition or is there a reason why we do these displays? Does it move us closer to healing? My body hurts tonight like an emotional flu. I hope I can push through tomorrow without too much crying.

Friday, February 18, 2011

the ache

There is so much chaos accompaning my grief. It seems we threw out a bag that contained many of Christopher's toys, our Sunday School book, and several other things I pulled out of the backseat of the car. My kitchen is a wreck and random things make me cry. Tonight, my stomach feels like it has a brick sitting inside it. I also think some of my bills may be late. I still can't believe Mom is gone. That I will never again get to hear her voice or one of her ridiculous jokes. She made me crazy sometimes but I'd give a lot to have her here making me crazy again.

We got bad news about Dad today. My aunt Linda (dad's sister) went with us to his first treatment team at Erlanger North. He was asleep when we got there and we could not wake him. He looked very much like Mom looked in her final moments, asleep and unable to wake. Unlike my first thought, he was still breathing but not too responsive. The news from the psychiatrist wasn't promising though. It seems that instead of getting better, he is getting worse. They say he has lost the ability to walk, has become incontinent and is hallucinating. In addition, the doctor said he has a condition of spinal fluid not being absorbed which is putting pressure on his brain. They are also changing him to a liquid diet as he has forgotten how to chew.

I am so glad Mom passed before we found this out about Dad. It came as such a shock. I knew there was no medication that would reverse Alzheimers but I did think he would still be able to walk and talk. I'm not so sure anymore. They say he is also hallucinating and trying to grab things out of the air.

I got the pictures together tonight for Mom's photo cd. I am so glad to have so many photos while simaltaneously wishing I had more. There is never enough and I cried when I went through them. The loss of my mother is so deep that I am sure I will never be fully recovered. I wonder does the ache ever leave?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

denial is the first stage

I picked up my phone to call my mother twice today. The first time to check on her, the second to tell her something, both time before I punched the first digit I remembered I could never call her again and started crying. There is a calmness that has settled over me most of the time but then something like that hits and I start crying. It isn't huge sobs, just an ache in my chest and tears. They don't last long but don't bring much relief either. I'm not sure there is relief for this anyway, other than time. Sometimes, I seem to be standing a bit apart from my emotions evaluating them like I am one of my own clients. So I know I have been through all the stages of grief but bargaining and will run through them again and again.

We made the funeral arrangements today. We will have visitation on Sunday from 4-8 at Heritage Funeral home. Then we will have visitation the next day (monday) from 11:30 to 12:30 at Ooltewah Baptist Church with the service starting at 12:30. Her burial will be at the National Cemetary at 2:00. Mom gave us another great gift in that she already planned and paid for her funeral. Not having to look at details like which coffin or how many flowers is a gift beyond words. I think you always think you will have more time so I appreciate that she did this for us.

Tomorrow, we meet with Erlanger North to have a treatment team about how Dad is doing. It will be very hard to not talk about the loss of mother. However, I do believe it is the best choice. He would be confused and possibly become agitated. While I want to honor my mother in any way possible I do wish we could have everything behind us already and be free to grieve. Thank you all for your prayers and support through this whole process.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The end of mortal Sandra Graves and the beginning of her immortality

The greatest loss in my world occured at 3:15 today. As I type, my eyes burn from lack of sleep but I'm not tired. I don't want to go to sleep only to wake up and have to remember she is gone. I am not sure who I am without my mother. I am no longer a daughter, as my father has forgotten me many months ago. Now, I have to grow up and parent myself.  This isn't to suggest my mother hasn't prepared me to do this only my reluctance to face daily life without the person who first made that life possible and then gave me every opportunity to thrive.

Even though she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nine months ago, I think it is impossible to prepare for such a shift in inner reality. As I said yesterday, she called me weak, nauseated, and vomiting. It was an ugly day full of pain. I could vent here about the hospice workers and all I feel they ought to have done differently but I don't think that would honor the memory of my mother. She was so gracious and loving or tried to be even when given legitimate complaints. She failed sometimes but then would display stunning acts of generosity and giving of herself. I don't think I will ever be able to do or be as much as she.

We moved her to the hospital last night to attempt to control her pain. My sisters, her best friend, my aunt, and I were there as the Hospice nurse predicted this might be the end. God provided my father's sister, who is a retired RN, to assist us through all of this. She drove six hours yesterday to visit with Mom. Instead, she got to be here to say good-bye and to support us through this time.

 Pancreatic cancer is notorious for causing painful and prolonged deaths.God protected her from this. Her blood pressure registered 64 at that time but she was still alert. My always cold mother complained of feeling hot although her skin felt very cool almost as if cooled by a fan. Her breath began to come in pants. At the hospital, after having the oxygen placed on her nose, she remarked through her pain that she felt like she was in a soap opera. I agreed that she was the star.

My 5'9" sister joked, "okay mom, if this is the soap opera, now is the time you tell us that deep, dark family secret, like how I came to be so tall."

Mom immediately remarked, "a tall German," since my sister's birthplace is Germany. Mom's eyes barely opened as she threw out this joke. I tell my kids the definition of politeness is that you are always concerned about the comfort of the other person. That is what mom did as long as she was conscious. While adjusting her covers at one point, I said, "Mom, I love you so much."

She said, "I love you too." The after a beat she added, "I'm tired of you too," which is the punch line to a joke about an elderly couple and a missing hearing aid. They controlled her pain to the point she could sleep by 3:30 a.m. My sisters, her best friend, my aunt, and I found different spots to wait. We didn't know whether she would rally as she had before or if she would continue to decline. She stopped producing urine and continued to sleep. As the hours passed, the nurses continued to feel hopeful but suggested we let family and friends know this could be the end. Several people begin to arrive after receiving phone calls. My mom and I talked several times in the past about creating a call list but this never occured. So we were calling out of memory, none of us having more than a couple of hours of sleep.

Around 1:30, Jeff came to the hospital and since friends were present, we went to lunch to discuss what to do about dad if Mom didn't make it. We decided it would be best to not tell him. Best case scenario he would remember her, grieve horribly and then forget. Worst case, he would be confused and agitated. After lunch was eaten and we returned to the floor, it wasn't long before it became clear Mom was not going to make it. We gathered around her, her best friend making it in time to lay hands on her too and tell her we loved her. Mom's breaths coming slower and slower, her chest rising less and less until movement stopped.  Then her sweet spirt left us and the world felt lonelier. We all hugged and cried but no amount of tears can take away the ache that keeps reminding me she will never answer my phone call again. As my sister said, I will miss her every day of my life. Sandra Dew Graves exemplified Christian love in all her relationships. I know God is glad to have her home but I sure miss her here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

just to add

I just re-read my post from last night. The reason the blue bag was cool is because if Mom gets sick in the car now we have something that can easily be kept in the glove box. I am sure anyone who knows me realizes I am not fascinated by vomit paraphernalia. When I think about yesterday, my memory is rather hazy, and as I am quite certain I was not drinking, I'm blaming it on tiredness. One moment I wanted to add in here was before we left Erlanger North Mom bent down and gave Dad a big kiss on the lips. I don't know if he knew who she was or not but he returned it. It made me think about what Mom told me about the first time she ever kissed Dad. She said he tasted just like sugar. Started to write this earlier but had to end this post because Mom called and said she was going to pass out. I'll post again tonight.

Monday, February 14, 2011

slogging through molasses

I'm so tired tonight. I believe it is the accumulation of the last few days. The crises are over for now. We moved Dad to Erlanger North today. They seemed very nice and I'm hopeful they will be able to do something to help him. Mom said she was feeling better today but then threw up at the hospital. The cool thing is we got something called a blue bag to take with us. It is the little bag with a ring at the top for people to get sick into if needed. I can barely keep my eyes open so I am headed toward the soft bed. Good night all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

the gospel of Hope

Mom came home from the hospital today. She looks good and says she feels better than she has for a long time. She still felt tired though. I wonder if she will ever get her energy back enough to play tennis. I would love to see her serving that ball down the middle again. Some of my first memories of Mom were on the tennis court. I always felt so bored making up games with tennis balls on the empty court next to wherever she was playing. Now, I can't imagine anything I would enjoy more than seeing her face turn red in the heat as she ran from one side of the court to the other. Tennis is certainly one of her earthly loves.

Another is my dad, who has been struggling in the past few days. Today, we got some hope that maybe Dad will be allright at some point. The Lantern called me and said a gospel group came in and that Dad sang all the songs and then visited with several of the residents after. She said he was laughing and joking. I hope this means that he will, at some point, adjust to life there and have some moments of happiness as his life may yet be long. If we can just get his sleep taken care of, he is still walking around all night.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I hope this holiday isn't too hard on mom. Not that dad was ever a romantic but he did remember it with her every year. I don't know if it is better to make a big deal about it or let it lie low. I got to decocrate my kitchen table tonight so the kids can wake up to a Valentine Day full of hope and promise. I hope I can join them there. Jeff brought me beautiful roses and candy tonight so it is looking good so far.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whew, long day

Here it is, 11:50 and I am home and ready to go to bed. Church time is going to feel very early tomorrow. I could have left the hospital earlier, Mom and I were watching a Hallmark original movie and it was clear how it would end, but I enjoyed the time with her. Not sure how much more we will have so I want to hang on to what I can get. She did say tonight that it was hard to believe how bad she had felt two days ago since she felt good tonight. The plan is for her to be discharged tomorrow. If only, Dad could be feeling that much better too.

He was discharged today but they did not have a bed at the geropsych unit so we had to take him back to the Lantern with 24hr caregivers. They didn't start until 5:30 so my oldest sister and aunt did most of the day and then I kicked in about an hour and a half at the end. That was one of the more exhausting hours I've had in a long time. Dad believed he needed to go somewhere to do something with the military and insisted he had to go. I gave him every excuse I could think of which would work for about five min. and then he would be saying he needed to go again. At one point, he switched and said his mom and dad were supposed to come get him. I assured him they would be there later. When the caregiver got there so I could go sit with Mom I was relieved and glad to go. A fact that hasn't ceased to bring some guilt with it. I really hope the medication will help with his agitation. My shoulders felt stiff after being with him that short amount of time. I can only imagine how anxious he felt thinking he needed to get to work but not being able to leave. I hope they can get him a bed soon and that this medication thing will help.

Friday, February 11, 2011

with a little help from my friends

Tried to go to Christopher's valentine party at school this morning (nine to eleven). Cindy planned to take Mom to the doctor and Sharon subbed at Chattanooga Christian. I also hoped to go to Kelsey's sockhop in the afternoon. She looked adorable in her poodle skirt (thank you for making it Marcy). Here is where the alas comes in. Alas, it was not to be. Cindy called me in the middle of the party saying she was taking Mom to Memorial to be admitted. She vomited through the night and her friend did not call me. So they didn't call hospice until 5:30 this morning so she was sick all night. The phenerghan didn't stop the throwing up. When she spoke with her doctor he sent her to the emergency room. Just after I talked to Cindy, Dad's doctor called from Erlanger. He had problems again in the night so they sedated him. Which meant the people from the psych unit showed up but were unable to assess him due to his sedation. A wonderful friend offered to take the kids home with her from school which left me free to go the hospital with Mom.

I went to pack a suitcase for mom but stopped by the lantern first.  They are holding Dad's room and said they would do whatever they could to facilitate the process. I got mom's stuff and spent the rest of the afternoon at the hospital. They have been unable to discover what is causing the problem. Another wonderful friend picked the kids up from the first house so hopefully, people aren't getting tired of helping. I am tired of needing help. I've always considered myself pretty self-sufficent but not anymore. People are really coming through with help, and prayers. Jeff also has a bad cold which has left him unable to help much. Tonight, I am just tired, a sort of numbness keeps me from feeling too bad. But I can keep going because I'm not having to do it alone and because of those prayers. Peace that surpasses understanding, it's here and I am grateful.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meetings, movings, and melancholy

Beautiful white snow covered the ground this morning but didn't impede me from driving to the Lantern for our ten o'clock meeting. I was the first to arrive. They directed me to a room with cinnamon rolls and coffee already laid out. I didn't feel too hungry though. Sharon and I met with the Executive director that is leaving to have her baby, the executive director that is coming in, and the head nurse. There was some initial defensiveness on their part in that the leaving director began talking about statements the aides had written about not being able to take care of the other patients because of all the care they were having to give Daddy. They came prepared to demonstrate why they couldn't do one-on-one care. We came wanting to know why he wasn't getting the care he was supposed to get.  In the discussion, a good place was reached in which they explained some things like that Daddy had refused to change into his pajamas even when asked multiple times. And accepted responsiblity for poor communication on their end. However, Daddy can not return there unless he first goes to a geropsych unit and is stabilized on behavioral medication or unless we hire a sitter to be with him 24hrs a day. We want to decrease his agitation and hopefully help him feel comfortable so we are going to go with the psych unit. But the idea of putting my dad in there brings tears if I allow myself to think about it long enough.

Mom cried hard about Dad when we told her about the meeting but did agree it seems to be the next step. She is unable to drive due to the pain medication but her pain is controlled right now. She ate a full hamburger and french fries tonight. She has a friend spending the night. We did not want her to be alone so I offered to stay the night but she preferred her friend. She said they are having a slumber party. I took some medication over to her this evening and she didn't look so great but seemed to be enjoying herself. Daddy is still in the hospital but will probably be discharged tomorrow. They still aren't sure what happened. I talked to the hospital social worker today and she is trying to find him placement. According to the Lantern, it doesn't look so good. We will probaby have to find some people to stay with him there until he can be placed in a unit. We have to pay for sitters out of pocket because the long-term care insurance won't cover sitters since he is in an assisted living facility. We have also had sitters with him at the hospital. I did have a nice visit with him tonight. I am reading a book called, "Creating Moments of Joy," and it talked about not calling him 'dad' but by his first name and asking how old he was to establish his moment in time. Tonight he was in his early thirties so we talked about his military career and whether he would make battalian commander. We talked about his one child and tennis. His face lit when he talked about playing tennis with mom. I prayed with him before I left and he clutched my hand and with great effort pulled out words asking for healing for Mom and for God to take care of his family. I told him I loved him and he said he loved me too but I know he didn't know who I was. That was right before I left, so I walked out of the room having to wipe tears away. Tomorrow, we have to figure out what is going to happen with Daddy immediately and how much care Mom is still needing. So if any prayer warrors are reading, please pray on.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Double Whammy

Today, I took a right hook to my peace of mind and a sucker punch to my plans. It started in a normal enough fashion. Kids off to school, Jeff going back to bed and getting ready for Bible study. Then in the middle of Bible study, my phone vibrates against my hip. It is my sister, Cindy. She knows I 'm in Bible study so I know something is up. I slip out of the room and listen to my voice mail. She and Mom are on their way to Erlanger hospital, following Dad in an ambulance. An hour earlier, while walking with his caregiver, Dad tilted to the right and then couldn't get back up. The caregiver had to support his weight back to Mom's place. Once there, Dad was unable to move his muscles to get into the car and began closing his eyes saying they were burning. So they had to call the ambulance.We were all thinking stroke.

Once at the hospital, they wouldn't let any of us go back. We kept saying, "He has Alzheimer's. He isn't going to be able to answer questions." But they kept saying, "We know how to deal with this." But I'm thinking how do you deal with this? I sure don't know. It isn't like they have an miracle pill that allows them to magically look into the mind of the Alzheimer's patient to read his thoughts. Or if they do, I am plenty mad they haven't shared it.

While we sat in the waiting room, Mom clutched at her abdomen saying she really didn't feel good. She took her meds on the way there but they didn't seem to be touching her level of pain. I also found out that when the caregiver got to the place Daddy is staying, he (Daddy) had trashed his room and a few other residents' rooms as well. In his room, he'd torn pictures off the wall, cushions out of chairs, and pulled apart the photo albums I took him last night. He was also wearing the dirty clothes from the night before with the same food on them that I had seen before I left. So I have to ask, where was the staff when all this was happening?

I had to leave the hospital at 1:30 to teach a class at school. One of my wonderful friends had agreed to be my other adult in the class since my sister was with mom and another friend was trying to arrange things for a stand-by. It is so nice to have such support. At the time I left, we were considering taking Mom to the doctor because she was still hurting. During the few hours I was gone, Mom began vomiting at the hospital and had to be taken home. She threw up in the car and back at her apartment. She had not eaten all day. Hospice was called by my sister and gave her some attitude about Mom until they called her doctor. Then, they agreed to send a nurse out with some anti-nausea medication, some pain relief, and fluids. I got there just before the nurse.

Down at the hospital, my other sister and her husband were waiting for the caregiver we'd called. They moved Dad to a room closer to the nurse because of the level of care he needs. My brother-in-law had to take him to the bathroom and my sister had to feed him. She wondered if he'd been eating the last few days because she said he wouldn't have eaten if she hadn't fed him. The Cat scan showed no sign of a stroke although it did, to no one's amazement, show severe Alzheimer's. They think he may have had a mini stroke and are keeping him for observation. For one moment,  I misunderstood the phone call and thought my sister said the Cat scan showed he didn't have Alzheimer's. It was ridiculous really, but my mind began racing thinking maybe this is something else, something they can do something about. I felt quite ridiculous when I realized I'd misunderstood. Of course this is Alzheimer's. He's had tons of scans confirming it before now. Maybe I was just tired.

Tonight, Sharon is staying with Mom. A caregiver is staying with Dad and then friends are coming in to stay with him. Tomorrow, Sharon and I have a meeting at the Lantern to discuss whether they can meet Dad's needs. Right now, the answer seems to be no. But we would rather not move him again if something can be done to make this place right. Still, supervision is an issue, clean clothes are an issue and at the hospital we discovered that when they applied the new Alzheimer's med patch to his back they left the old one on, so meds may be an issue too. I hope to be able to be at this meeting with professionalism and conduct myself with maturity. Because what I'd really like to do, as Dad said not too long ago about a man who made Mom cry, is punch them in the face. I hope things calm down soon. Thank you all for your love and support.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rally Time

Mom's pain finally began to abate this afternoon. She is on a patch and a drug for breakthrough pain. My sisters and I are encouraging her to get her stint checked. She has been in more pain since the last procedure than she was before. It may be the cancer, but if there is even a slight chance it isn't, I think it needs to get checked. Although, she did become very Scarlett tonight in that she said, "let's talk about that tomorrow," when I was trying to get her to agree to talk to the doctor. I have also been trying to pin down a time for her to do a video with me and got, "let's talk about that tomorrow too, okay?" What am I going to say to that? Part of me is so worried that our tomorrows are going to run out and there will be no video. My memory is too faulty. I may not remember all the questions to ask on the video but at least some of them will be there. She said she was going to go to bed early but she no longer sounded like she wanted to die. That was the thing about today, she was done. I knew it looking into her eyes. She loved us but was ready to shed this mortal coil.

Then to add to it all, my nine year old has been reading a non-fiction book about a cat named Dewey. A library adopted this cat and there were two smaller books about his exploits. The librarian ordered her the older book, well to make a long story short, after two days of rapturously describing the exploits of Dewey, today she got to the end. And at the end is where he is put to sleep because of a tumor. Her teacher emailed me because Kelsey was crying in class. To my great relief, she did not make the connection between Dewey and her beloved grandmother which was the fear eating at my gut the entire time I sat in the pick-up line.

We went back to see Dad tonight. He had not been bathed and when I brought it up they asked if Mom had done it yesterday. I don't know whether she did or not but I said no. They are supposed to bathe him every other day, so I don't think if he got an extra one from Mom that ought to make any difference. I am going to have to go by there tomorrow to see. Dad was agitated tonight but I couldn't understand him. It was something about not having enough money but his speech was too garbled for me to be able to get the story. I left a video running for him. I guess I better call and make sure they know to turn it off. I'm eager for my bed tonight and hope I sleep with no dreams. Goodnight all.  

I prefer yesterday

I'm not talking about the Beatles song, although the refrain did begin circling my brain as soon as I typed the word. Today, things seem to be going downhill fast. Mom called me around nine this morning to ask if I would please go see Daddy. She said she was in too much pain to go. Her discomfort seems to be increasing. Her old pastor, Larry Williams, called just after Mom and had to listen to me sobbing into the phone while trying to act normal. He prayed with me and assured me he felt it was a God thing that he had called at just that time. He also said he thought Mom had been holding on for Dad. I had already wondered if now that he is taken care of if she is going to leave us soon.

The hospice nurse called her in some pain patches. They came while I was visiting her today but had not had a chance to kick in when I left to see Dad. She and I did some crying together. She said as much as she loves us, she doesn't want to hurt like this. She also said she'd thought about calling the grandkids in to see her individually to tell them how much she loves each of them. I assured her as much as I want her here, I don't want her to hurt either. Sharon came soon after I left and I think Cindy is going over too. I know she has her Bible study at two and said she didn't want to cancel because she wasn't sure how much longer she would feel like attending. I hugged her before I left and kissed her on her wigless head. There is not an ounce of me that will not hurt when she is gone.

Then I went to see Dad. They informed me there, that he has not slept in the last 24 hrs. He is walking the floors at night and going into the other residents rooms looking for Mom. He also is pushing on the doors trying to get out. They have requested that she limit visitation. When he went to sit down for lunch today his pants were undone and started coming off. I heard another resident snarkily talking about Dad. She said, "Well, there's Marvin, trying to take his pants off." It was her tone, that of a middle school girl ridiculing others to her peers, that made me so angry. Daddy has always conducted himself with the highest standards and I hate so much that this is taking his dignity. Perhaps hers too, since I think none of us want to go back to that time period in life. Maybe she was tired because I'm pretty sure he visited her room last night along with many of the others. The staff said it scared some of the ladies. My sister asked if they knew it was a problem why they weren't watching him? I didn't even think of asking that. I'm having trouble breathing through it all. I guess we will go back to see Daddy tonight since they've asked Mom not to go. I HATE all this. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nothing new under the sun

There are no new developments with Mom or Dad today. I've been thinking about the writing thing lately but haven't gotten the thoughts to move toward motivation. I wrote an article for a local parenting magazine but haven't submitted it because when I read over it, it sounds like drivel. Not even well organized drivel, just a bunch of thoughts down on paper. I wonder if the writing is a reflection of the crazy state of mind. Nothing feels settled or right. I've been trying to clean out here at the house and keep flitting from room to room never really getting done with anything.

I had a great time seeing my friend today. It is lovely moments like that and the others I've mentioned that keep me going. That and this boot camp that is making me sweat my tears out through my pores instead of them running down my face. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Game Day

Attended Mom's church again today. The people are so friendly and I love the Sunday School class. I just wonder if it is false pretenses to go to a church whose denominational beliefs are so different. The basics are the same but the particulars not so much. Mom did not attend today because she was not feeling well. I think this is the first time this has happened since she became ill, other than when she was hospitalized. However, later in the day she reported feeling well enough to want to go walking. She brought Dad to the neighborhood to walk the hills. She said he was walking funny today. So this is the second time he has leaned to one side or another. I have no idea what could be going on there. She also reported that they don't have activities for the residents at Dad's place on Sundays so I may need to get a plan going for that.

We were invited to a Superbowl party tonight and had a great time. I think it is the first one we've been invited to since having children so I have to give that to Chattanooga Tomorrow, we are going to have a couple of tired kids but overall a good time was had by all. The nice evenings seem sweeter in contrast. I am meeting my oldest friend tomorrow for breakfast, by oldest I mean the one I've had the longest, not that she is that old. We played together in first grade when we had the chicken pox at the same time. I'm looking forward to seeing her and to that Asiago breakfast bagel at Panera.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snapshots

I've been looking through photo albums lately. Everything I read about Alzheimers says it is good for them to have pictures to look through. All smiley and silly faces, except for the roll of film in which I seemed determined to take pictures of everyone putting bites of food into their mouths. No matter what is going on, we all paste on smiles when the camera starts clicking. So where are the moments that are real? Nobody wants to remember the times when tears are streaming down their faces, or when they are so angry that huge veins pulse on their foreheads. Those are the private times, the personal moments that stretch us until it is almost more than we can bear. But bear it we do and we grow and we smile for more pictures.

This afternoon, we had a full family picture made-Mom, Dad, the three sisters, their husbands, children and the in-laws, well, not my in-laws,and the adorable great-grandbaby. It was arranged by my oldest sister and I am really glad we went. But I can't tell you how much I did not want to go. When she first suggested it, I argued with everything I could think of for reasons why this wasn't a good idea. I'm still not sure of the source of my resistence. I think maybe I didn't want to dress up and put a big smile on my face right now. Most of the time, I want to yell and cry, either that, or I pretend it isn't there and concentrate on everything else.

But this afternoon, as I was driving to the studio with my family, I thought about that this might be the last family picture we have with Mom in it.  I keep meaning to take pictures everytime I am with her but I know she doesn't like to have pictures when she doesn't look good and so often she looks tired now. God came through tonight in that even the baby (who has a cold and probably feels crummy) smiled and laughed and we have some wonderful pictures. Unfortuneately, my husband and my middle sister's husband didn't come out too well in the pictures. But we had a great time laughing about it (with them, not at them, of course).

Although, I hope to not be struck with either of the terrible diseases that have struck my parents, if I do get  Alzheimers, these may be some of the pictures my kids will pull out of the photo album or off the wall to hang in my room. I like the idea that they only have to look at their parents and family smiling. I think they may have plenty of stretching moments in the months to come but maybe they will see the pictures from today and remember their cousins, grandmother, and aunts laughing, in spite of it all, we laugh. And they will remember that whatever is going on in their lives they can laugh too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reining it in

Mom called me this morning at nine saying she was still in bed and that it was so nice not to have to get up. Her meds continue to change which leaves her alternating between okay, dizzy, and nauseated. She is pushing for a patch instead of pills but so far Hospice hasn't jumped on board. She doesn't want me to talk to them about it either because, trust me, I asked if I could. I don't know that I could make any difference but it might be nice to try.  Then she began talking about not knowing what to do about Dad. He was waiting by the door for her last night saying he had been worried about where she was all day. She doesn't know whether it is better to go or to stay away. Nobody does. We would all love it if someone would sit us down and say, "This is what you need to do." Okay, not just anybody. We've had some whackados that did tell us what to do but it involved things that caused Mom to lose like eight pounds in a week so we opted out of that plan.

We are underwhelmed with The Lantern right now. Although Dad has been perfectly safe, they haven't been following their own schedule in terms of activities. It is hard to work visits around activities if you don't actually know what they are going to do. They also are not shaving Dad. Mom says she doesn't know what to do about church on Sunday because she isn't sure they will be able to get him ready. They had a baby shower for a staff member today during the time they were supposed to be doing singing time. Don't get me wrong, I think it is great to have a cohesive staff that does things together but I don't think those things ought to take place instead of doing things with the residents. Mom has also asked me to refrain from bringing these issues up to the staff because she doesn't want us to look difficult. I'm thinking too much more and I may just have to start playing bad cop. She or one of my sisters can be good cop but I don't want them to think we are okay with anything less than the best they can do.

Tonight, I went out with the ladies from Mom's church. It was a nice evening but not the easy flow of seasoned friends. But everyone was friendly and welcoming. Jeff had a similar experience with the men that got together so I guess that is enough for now. It really is about finding those things that are good enough right now so I can move on those things that aren't.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Building family

The long good-bye continues as Daddy sits with us at lunch and tries to join the conversation but can't find the word he wants. He starts and stutters, while Mom begs for a hint to help him. I know I want to gift him with the words that elude him. The social niceties that used to be second nature after all his years in the military are now buried beneath brain plaque. I wonder why they can't use a gamma knife to break off the plaque in people's brain's with Alzheimers? That is no doubt a question born of ignorance and desperation. 

My faith in Mom's healing has faltered with each day she hurts. My belief in God remains strong but confusion over his plan continues. It would be to such Glory for Him for Moma nd Dad to be healed. I don't know anyone that would proclaim it louder or longer than they. Mom has discovered dad only gets bathed every other day at the Lantern and she went over and shaved him today. I got to have lunch with them and two of my mom's cousins today. It felt like there was a greater connection with those family members than I have had since I was a little girl. Perhaps there is a commonality in the aching of our hearts since we all love Mom so. My faith in God's plan has begun to build again and as awful as this is, I know He can even take all this and use it for good. At least in some moments I know this. I do know that it is the natural order for my parents to age and die before me. Even in twenty years, would I ever be ready to release the people who loved me so unselfishly their whole lives? It doesn't look like I am going to get to test that question but I am not done asking for healing so if you are inclined join me when you can, praying for a lessening of Mom's pain but also for healing. One other thing, if she does die from this, please do not come up to me at the funeral and say that was God's way of healing her. I may have a tire iron ready for those type comments.  Just tell me you loved her and all the wonderful things you remember and I'll tell you some of my stories too. I know I am blessed to have had both of them as my parents.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Good Tired

Tonight, I drove to Knoxville to finally celebrate my December birthday with my girls' night out crew. The evening was wonderful, the food fattening, and even though we were at a brewery, I skipped the beer since I was driving back. I miss these ladies so. It isn't often you find a group of women willing to commit to meeting once a week because of all the other responsibilities we carry in our lives. It is our own little open therapy group. Seriously, it is, since five out of seven of us are therapists. I probably took a bit more than my turn but it will all even out in the end. On the way home, (around 10), I tried to call Mom and her phone gave a busy signal.  Since she has repeatedly told me I am the only one that calls that late since I know she is a night owl, I wondered who she could be talking to. Twenty minutes later the phone continued to give the busy signal. I began imagining Mom  lying on the floor, trying to call someone for help and passing out. So after that I called every five minutes until she finally answered the phone. She was fine and had been talking to one of her friends who is on central time.

It seems that in everything now there lies a potential for crisis. I have to remember that sometimes, people are just talking on the phone. Daddy seemed to do well his first night and day at the new place although Mom is convinced they did not shower him last night. So she stayed tonight until they began the shower. I love her determination to make sure he is taken care of no matter how bad she feels. She said they kept the $1,000 deposit and did not apply it to his monthly rent. They said it went to cleaning his room. I'm wondering how much cleaning they do to a room for it to be that much? Mom did say when she showed up to take him to prayer meeting he said he'd been worried about where she was all day. I'm not sure how we are going to deal with that when she passes. Also, I can say with certainty I prayed for all of you tonight on my way to Knoxville. It was some nice quiet time with the Big Guy. I hope you feel uplifted and loved. I know I do but three hours in the car for one night is a long time so I'm headed to bed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trying to set my eyes on what I cannot see

A good friend emailed me these Bible verses
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18
We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated.  We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of the living.  We are persecuted, but God does not leave us.  We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.....So we do not give up.  Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day.  We have small troubles for a while now,  but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles.  We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see...

I am glad not to set my eyes on what I can see. Daddy is spending his first night at the Lantern this evening. I don't know how that is going to go. My stomach has felt a bit sick every time I think about it. I am envisioning him standing near the door wondering where everyone is. There is a church sign that I pass every day coming home from taking the kids to school. It says, "Worry is the misuse of imagination," and God has blessed me with loads of imagination. I'm wondering how early is too early to visit and what I'm going to find when I get there. Will he be dressed? Will he know how to get around? Mom is still struggling with feeling dizzy so I don't know when she will be able to make it. I hope Daddy doesn't get aggressive now. He used to get agitated but never tried to hurt anyone.

Sitting at the kitchen table with Jeff this morning, while I stood at the stove making lunches, Christopher asked why Grandpa had to move. Jeff answered him by saying Nana is sick and probably going to die. Hearing the words sounded so harsh. Fat tears began running down my face so that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom so I could sob in private. I hate that my children are having to watch me grieve for such a long time. Christopher has even begun to pray for Nana and Mommy to feel better. That isn't the strong Mom image I want him to have but to ask for it to end is to mean the passing of my Mom and Dad, so I can't really wish for that either. The good news is that when I came back I discovered I had not gotten any tears on the sandwiches, so I didn't have to remake them, because who would want to eat soggy tear bread, ewww.