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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.

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