Sunday, April 28, 2002

From my journal, nine months ago...

"How quickly things change...On June 30th, Mom and Dad called. Mom scared. Took Dad to ER. Had heart attack. Released after testing July 4th. On July 13th, second bad attack. This time, the Cardiologist, Dr. Evans, did an angiogram, angioplasty, and echocardiogram. Dad is in ICU with breathing tube, IV feeding him, catheterized, with a blood pump. Also had to have dialysis for awhile. By July 16th, breathing tube removed. Two days now has has slept, moving around and trying to turn this way and that. Who knows what dreams he dreams?

"Mom cried when Chris and I drove to the hospital. 'No more Hawkeye and Chingascook...' was all she could say, over and over. In ER, Dad motioned us over to his bedside, saying if he doesn't come out of this, he knows he'll see us on the other side. I'm so glad I took their photos on Saturday, July 7th, as I did. Images of them kidding with each other, smiling at each other, goofing off, holding hands, kissing, or just gazing into the camera naturally.

"As I write this, I am alone in the ICU waiting room except for one solitary woman, and Mom. Mom plays solitaire quietly, across the room on the coffee table. She keeps asking me, when I go over to her, why she's paying two months' rent for the old apartment. I explain we're late this month and we need to give notice. Where are we moving to, she asks. I tell her, but a few moments later, she has forgotten and asks again. 'Oh yes,...where Dad needs to go...' I smile inwardly as the solitar woman leaves us alone.

"Mom remembers enough of a conversation a few days before when we told her and Dad they had to move to a nursing home. Then, I could see Dad's face become relaxed and visibly relieved, knowing finally that someone could be there to help them.

"My ears notice that Mom is whistling as she plays cards. Cards and whistling - how appropriate. Two things burned into my mind from my earliest memories that I associate with Mom.

"I hear Mom moan...she says she has eaten too much, and decides to quit playing cards, and lay down for awhile.

"Sharon and Bill, arriving in the afternoon, are with Bill and Betty running errands.

"The hours as this goes by seem surreal. Time passes differently. You don't acknowledge it. Instead, you ignore it, withdrawing into a safe, emotional cocoon. At one and the same time, you reflect superficially on memories that surface unbidden but don't surprise you, but you never let them manipulate you into giving way to any emotional release. This is your way, you say. Maybe so. Maybe it's just your defense against facing mortality head on instead of intellectually, the way most of us most of the time deal with it, if we deal with it at all..."

Friday, April 19, 2002

When we think of grief, we generally think of the process and feelings we experience after someone dies. In reality we begin this process on the day someone we love is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. This process of mourning before someone we love has died is called anticipatory grief.
Remembering how it was with Dad, I definitely felt this...I know Mom did, too...she openly talked about it for years. It's like when Sunday hits, and it's still the weekend, but you feel the pressure of work already coming back...

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Mom's physical was last week. Results are in: BP 118/62, Hemoglobin 13, blood sugar 92, thyroid levels good at 4.6, urine normal, etc., etc.

She's still sleeping too much. Today, she was asleep when I came to visit her at 5pm. Once again she was laying around in bed most of the day, in and out of sleep, admitting that she was dreaming about Dad again. I hope to encourage her to be more active and enjoy her life now as it is. I am looking into getting help with that since she's not motivated much by my words alone...

Sunday, April 14, 2002

(Written at Betty's on Saturday afternoon - April 13th, 2002)

Thursday, April 11, 2002

After talking with Mom last night, I'm coming to a personal conclusion that her sadness concerning Dad that seems to come and go is just that - something that is deep within her but only surfaces at moments when something brings him to mind, something that can be overwhelming in the retching sense of loss at those times, but also something that ebbs like the tide.

Mom has shared with me that she's unhappy, sometimes angry - very sad all the time as an undercurrent - but is being patient as she can be, abiding her time in God until he sees fit to take her home, as she puts it.

Until then, we'll ensure her health is taken care of and all those necessary everyday things, as well as being there for her, loving her, and enjoying our opportunities to get to know her better. I think that's the most important thing of all...

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Here is an excerpt from an email received from Susan, the Administrator of the Moorhead Manor with concerns about Mom lately:
The problem that we are having lately with the bed being made is partly because of the trouble of getting your mom out of bed. Housekeeping is going to keep a log because what happens is when she gets up for lunch, they go into the room and make the bed. A lot of times, then your mother crawls back into bed. She comes down to play cards, they go in and make the bed, she crawls in for a nap before supper. She will even say to them "no use in making it, I'm just going to get right back in..." Now I'll have them also go in just prior to leaving their shift for the day anywhere between 4-6pm. They will again make the bed.

I am hoping that some of this sleeping will be taken care of after her med review with the doctor. Again today, we were into her room 4 times prior to lunch trying to get her up. She takes her am pills and does not want to get up. Went in prior to lunch-wouldn't get up. I finally went in mid afternoon and again checked. Doesn't complain of being sick, just has no energy and wants to stay in bed. I am not quite sure what to do with this-maybe nothing until she is seen by doctor. This is one of the first afternoons that we have had problems getting her up. Usually she's ready to go by lunch or at least snack time.
We are very concerned about this so we have made an appointment for Mom to see GP, Dr. Martindale to check out all her meds, etc and blood levels. This will be coordinated with the neurologist, Dr. Haake during a later appointment. [Note by Trish: In other words, we want to see if it's physical, neurological, or both, and get to the bottom of it...]

Last night I was over to see Mom and she said again, "I dream of Dad, and when I wake up I am sadder than ever..." *heavy heart*


Here is a reading called, Grieving With God that I sent to Mom:
One of the hardest things to accept is that life as we know it does not go on.

Relationships are often difficult to establish and maintain. And on rare, wonderful occasions, some just fall into place so easily and run so smoothly from both ends.

Losing one we're close to, feels unfair and so sad. Those we just fell in love with from the start, that were there for us whatever our circumstances, whatever our pain, no matter how we lost our humor, those we could wrap our arms around and receive comfort from, we find it impossible to release them to death.

Once we relax in knowing they are there, will never reject us, will always return our love and affection, how can we plan a future without them?

How can the memories be enough when our hearts seem to slow, yet pound so loudly in our throats, when our joy is crushed, when our eyes cloud and will never view things the same again?

How should we behave? Why should we just walk back into life as though nothing ever happened? How can we ever be expected to smile again? How can we let go?

Amazingly enough, long before we were conceived, long before we participated in life, God had a plan........a perfect plan.

He foresaw the need for this life to have a beginning as well as an end. He created and thoroughly understood the complexities of relating to others. He gave us the ability to love and draw close. He knew the path our lives would take and how deeply we would feel pain. He left nothing out.

He built within us the abilities to grieve without dying, to let go without forgetting, to cope without quitting, to continue to love those who have gone on, yet grow to love others more strongly and even to add new love to our hearts.

He even gave us time......time to grieve.....time to heal and time to grow from our new understanding.

Beyond our awesome creation, He knows exactly when we suffer loss and how hard it is for us.

We are among those He just fell in love with from the start, He is there for us no matter what our circumstances, what our pain, no matter how we've lost our humor, He wants to wrap us in His arms and receive comfort from Him.

We can relax in knowing He has always been there, will never reject us, will always return our love and affection, and will help us plan our future.

He will rejoice with us in our memories and restore our joy and make our hearts pound loudly in our throats in anticipation of a glad future.

We should not walk the same roads over again. He devised that when our eyes have clouded with tears we should never view things the same way again. We could grow bitter from sadness, or we can grow and learn compassion. We should never behave as though nothing ever happened. We should fondly remember that knowing, then missing someone has changed us, that we were blessed with the company of angels while they were here.

This amazingly perfect plan that God has, of which He mapped out every possible outcome, leads us always back into His very capable, loving arms.

It's not that He wants us to suffer, not that He wants us to cry, not that He wants us to lose those we love dearly. God just wants us to remember that while we were happily on our journey with our loved one, He was happy too.

He leads us to know that after losing our loved one, when we return to life more lonely, He steps up closer to us and not only understands our loneliness, but helps us hold our head up.

When emptiness invades your sleep, He offers what no other friend can..... serenity as deep as the emptiness and hope as promising as the sunrise.

He is the one friend that cannot and will not die, and will never leave our side.

He is the almighty creator who gave you forever your friend or relative.

By Carla J. Wilson

Friday, April 05, 2002

An online chat today with my daughter...
Eva/Nirgaz says:
Tell grandma hello for me, is she using the internet?
Trish says:
Yes, she does use the internet sometimes, but she's not consistent...she forgets to check sometimes...but yes, give it a shot...I will tell her hello, definitely...she always says she has a special place in her heart for you and daniel since we lived with her and grandpa.
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I think I will make some roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy and buttered carrots tomorrow.
Trish says:
Eva/Nirgaz says:
I have a special place for her too. Make sure you let her know that if I lived up there I would be at her place a lot. But as things are, i am thinking of her often. Tell her that I am there in spirit at least.
Trish says:
i sure will, honey!

Thursday, April 04, 2002

What Mom has been saying over and over, during the the past 8 months since Dad passed away:
"I have nothing to live for."

"That's a mistake God made, letting one die and the other live on; when one dies, both should die."

"Gordon had his wish. He always said he hoped he would go first, that he didn't think he would be strong enough to go on alone."
From Dolci Deleria:

"My father died when I was 18, seven years ago, when I was a freshman in college. That's when the dementia had destroyed enough of his brain to destroy the man I knew as my father...

"...I am angry at the dementia, but I can't scream at it, I can't reason with it, and I can't ignore it. It's just there, self-satisfied and taking up the entire living room like some monster-cat on steroids, impervious to temper tantrums and contentedly shedding fur to be tracked through the rest of the house. I hate it for killing Dad, for aging Mom, for having an immediate impact on the lives and bodies of people it doesn't inhabit. I hate it for moving so slowly. I hate how much of my life will be lost by the time it's done and how much my family has already lost. I hate that I want to postpone any children I might have until after the funeral, since what's left of my father will never understand and since I would rather my children grow up with stories of how their grandfather was instead of memories of how he is now.

"I am angry, but there is nothing for me to yell at that would make any difference."