Friday, November 26, 2010


Yesterday, Dad, Kenny and I went to see mom and have dinner with her. The N.H. is very thoughtful in setting up the activity room with tables for families. There were decorations and table clothes and turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie. Mom was sitting in the quiet room when we arrived. She considers that her home. Later in the visit when she looked in there she said, "Who in my house?" I'm glad that she thinks of it as home. She seemed clueless that it was Thanksgiving and was confused about Kenny. She was glad to see all of us tho. We looked at pictures and then I took her to wash her hair. It's short so a little volume shampoo and a blow dry and it looked great. She wasn't too interested in eating but dad managed to get her to eat quite a little. She would say she didn't want anymore but then open her mouth like a bird when he had the fork full. We stayed for awhile and sat while dad and mom held hands. She would dose off and then open her eyes and smile at "Pa". She was tired when we left and said, "O.k. go then." and headed to her favorite recliner.

Today, I went again during lunch. She seemed a little distracted today. She doesn't have her glasses and the nurse said she has been up at night. So I'm not sure what is going on. She asked me a few times about grandma & grandpa. I try to reassure her that everyone is o.k. and she said her kids were all grown up. But then she said, "But where is Donna?" "I'm Donna, Mom. I'm o.k. and so is everyone else. This is a good home for you. Everyone would miss you if you left. I'll keep coming to see you." That's kind of how our conversation went. I have a tiredness that feels like I have been crying. That too is probably just part of the process of dealing with this diesease. God is in control.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

11 months...

What a roller coaster of emotions this past year has brought. The past week or so I seem to be on a more even keel. There's been a lot going on with work but overall, I seem to be handling it. I wanted to go see mom today but it is freezing rain. It will be over a week since I've seen her and I hate that but work was too busy this week to leave at the regular time. Hopefully, this next week I'll get over a couple times. The N.H. offers Thanksgiving dinner for family so it will be nice to spend that time with her. I miss the old days with everyone at home but I am very grateful for all that we have and that mom is safe and I know that she is in good hands. I pray that for healing in our family. Mom is definitely changing and I hope that everyone has the time to spend with her.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Days, Months, Seasons, Time Marches On

The fall has been very busy. I returned to my full time teaching position in August and since then things have been a blurr. Getting back into the classroom after having been gone over a year was easier than I thought it would be.

The difficult part is having time for everything else. I only see mom once maybe twice a week now and that is difficult. She has adjusted to the nursing home and seems fairly relaxed there. When I arrived the other day, she was in the quiet living room. The lights were dim and music was playing and she was holding up her baby doll talking to it.
Momemts like that are both sweet and hard to take. My mom finds great comfort in a baby doll. She thinks it is her baby. She coos to it and cuddles it and carries it around. She is concerned about it feedings and care. It has been a blessing to her.

When mom sees me she often says my name with excitement. Last time, she said my sister's name. When looking at pictures she still recognizes some people especially dad. She is still crazy about him. That's the hard part. It seems like they should be together and yet realistically mom isn't who she was. She needs more care than she would get at home with a caregiver. Mom is a people person and I think she benefits by interacting with the staff, residents and visitors. I pray for God to continue to bless mom and dad.

I often stay with mom during a meal. She says she isn't hungry but if given enough time she usually eats a good portion of her food. Sandwiches are the easiest but she picks up the small bowls of fruit or vegetables and usually eats most of them. I usually feed her the main course. It seems easier than trying to get her to eat it on her own.

Dad's doing o.k. He misses mom terrible and is really down after some of his visits. She really wants to go home with him and asks repeatedly. This is very hard on dad. Visits go better if someone goes with him. A couple of my brothers have yet to visit mom or dad. This saddens me greatly because I know that mom would want their support for both of them. I could use a little brotherly support too come to think of it but I also know that they have to figure this out for themselves. My sisters continue to come as often as they can and they call and write often.

Not sure what the future will hold but I am thankful for everyday and I am most thankful that mom is safe and in a caring environment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

visits with mom

I visited mom Wednesday and Friday this week. Wednesday, I was with Dad; and Mom was plenty confused about things. She was quite certain that Dad was not her husband. I always refer to Dad with his first and last name. Sometimes, she thinks that we are a couple and then I tell her about my husband and try to distract her. We enjoyed coffee and big cookies together. Dad is always worried she is not eating enough even tho she has gained weight. He told her, "No, you eat the last piece." She wanted him to have it and he finally said, "Well, O.K." Then she threw it in his hot coffee and grinned! I went to get a spoon so he could get it out.

Friday, I visited mom alone. As soon as I walked in she recognized me in the hall and said, "Donna!" She was glad to see me and I was glad to hear my name. We walked the halls, went outside and looked at flowers, looked at albums and had coffee. I told her that her home there was beautiful. And she said, "Do you think so?" I said, "Sure, you have so many friends here." Everyone says hi to her as we walk around and she gives many staff and residents hugs. She asked to go home but I told her I had to go back to work and she seemed o.k. with that. When I left she was waiting for lunch to be served.

I'm thankful for these times with my mom and I'm thankful that she is in a safe, friendly place.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Good Bye

Mom and Dad had two dogs. The boarder collie died about a month ago and today we had to say good bye to Lady. Dogs are wonderful companions but their lives are relatively short and it's very difficult to lose them. Since Linda died Lady has taken to following dad down the road or in the back 40. On Wednesday, when he came home she wasn't around. After some investigation, the neighbor reported that another neighbor took her to the human society. They didn't know where she belonged.

Dad struggled with the decision to bring her home. She was having difficulty getting around, she was deaf and just all around old. She had never been on a chain or in a pen and how would he keep track of her if he brought her home. My husband said he would take care of her so dad agreed. Not something he probably ever would have done on his own but I feel better knowing the dog isn't wondering off somewhere. Dad has another adjustment to make. He is very lonely.

We visited mom today and she was in the mood to go home. I told her she had jobs to do and the staff helped out by giving her a box of towels to fold as we were leaving. It really is important for mom to feel useful and needed. She looked great today. Her hair was done up, short and curled and she had a pink striped shirt and good fitting jeans.

She seemed especially confused today. When I came she was glad to see me but didn't seem to know who I was. We looked at photo albums of our trip to Oklahoma and she asked who my sisters were. I told her, "That's Ceil. She is your daughter in Missouri. She comes to Wisconsin for long visits." She just said, "Well, if you say so." Whenever mom answers with that, I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. This disease is awful and I can't imagine what it must feel like to lose your memories. I pray that she isn't scared. The staff says that she is doing fine most of the time. She continues to enjoy the live music and dancing and coffee breaks with treats and some games.

On days like today when I visit mom with dad, I feel like I'm juggling something delicate. I try to keep the conversation going. Getting coffee and cookies and exclaiming how it all tastes good and then looking at photos and getting baby Katie and reassuring mom that her baby doll is just fine and that she is getting plenty to eat and then I'm convincing mom that she can't come home today because Don and I both have to get back to work and besides she has a job to do there and yes, I will check on grandma and grandpa and on and on and on....

Some days I'm o.k. with the situation and other times I want to scream. "ISN'T THERE SOMEONE ELSE THAT CAN DO THIS BESIDES ME????" I know that it is silly to waste energy, time and emotions on something I can't change but it still saddens me when I think my brothers are not pitching in at all. Someone told me that they thought it was too difficult for them. What a bunch of bullshit. It's difficult for everyone but some of us know that now is the time mom and dad need us. O.k. there were problems in the past but with out a doubt I know that mom would want all of her children pitching in and supporting her husband and her.

I thank God for giving Mom a safe place to be and I also am thankful for the time I have with my parents.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Over 6 months have passed...

It has taken me this long to be able to look at this blog...Mom is still at the nursing home and we are still adjusting. This is an awful disease. There were some challenging times with the nursing home and mom was not the best behaved resident but for now things have settled down and she seems comfortable and not too anxious. The staff is amazing and I especially like the sitting rooms they have for the residents. Mom is never alone in her room.

I still feel shock when I think about the day my sister and I took mom to Spooner N.H. I am so glad that the past months are over. Having a parent with Alzheimers is difficult but having the other parent stay in the home and go on with life adds to the challenges. Dad misses mom terribly and he misses his cows and his dog. Dad has lost a lot in the past year and although I want to help him, I also have to go on with my life. It's a constant battle to balance everything. I want to visit mom. I try to check on dad or go with him to the nursing home. He calls every morning to check in with me. I miss my old carefree life with just my sweet husband and me. Days hiking, fishing and going places. Next month, I go back to teaching after having over a year off. It will be another adjustment.

I know that mom is not going to get better. As I write about this experience, I want to focus on the good times we can still have together and the positive aspects of our visits.

Mom usually does not remember anything from moment to moment, or day to day. But today when Dad and I were visiting her one of the staff mentioned that yesterday a miniature pony visited and mom really enjoyed the experience. When I asked mom about it she said, "It was so cute and only about so high." She indicted it's height with her hand. It was a pleasure hearing mom recall a positive activity!

A couple weeks ago, when I visited mom she was looking at photo albums. She pointed to a picture of Dad and his brother Irvin and said, "They had coffee with me yesterday." She was right!! Uncle Irvin had not seen mom since December and when she saw him she recognized him right away! That was a sweet moment.

I am very grateful for the care that mom is getting and I am grateful for all the wonderful memories we have of trips together and working at home. We would tease each other and say, "I'm tired of picking...picking in eggs, picking in clothes, picking weeds, picking berries...pick, pick, that all we do. And then we would laugh. Mom and I went on trips to Iowa to meet my sisters and trips to Oklahoma, Missouri and Ohio. We have had a lot of memorable times together and we enjoy the pictures now when we have coffee and treats together.