Thursday, February 24, 2011

A friend's passing

I didn't go see her today. I had dropped by her room daily this week to say hello and see if her husband needed a ride home. I had gone to see Mom, but instead of taking a right at the corner in the nursing home, I headed left. I was tired and just wanted to go home. The last thing I had done with her was to help solve the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper.

She had been in the nursing home less than a week after being transferred from rehabilitation an hour away. She had  many health issues and we were all concerned for her. Her husband also is battling an chronic illness. She was a member of our congregation and a member of Daughters of the King.

I just learned of her passing of this world to enter into God's Kingdom. She is in a better place.

The Lord bless you and keep you, Mary Ellen McKay.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If You Knew Susie

This afternoon, I went to see Mom in the nursing home. I heard piano music, music from the time the folks in the nursing home would remember when they were young. I walked into Mom's room and she was just relishing in beauty of the old songs. She was enjoying her "concert" and tapping her hand on her thigh.

Old songs, from the 20s and 30s. I knew all of the tunes - didn't know all of their titles, but knew the songs - the songs my parents loved, my aunt and uncle adore (and my Uncle Dave knows LOTS about - like a trivia buff!).

I went out to talk to the pianist, who, once I talked to her, we knew each other. She comes to play every Wednesday for those folks. They get their own special concert with music from their time.  Music that holds dear to their heart, that brings back memories of a time where they were young and vibrant. What a gift that piano player brings to those ladies and gentlemen.

The one that I remembered I share with you. I remember that my Uncle Dave had songs for each of his children. Susie is one of my cousins, and I think she might read this blog. The pianist played this today, so I share it with you. I remember hearing it as a child, thinking how special it was that my cousin Susie had her own song.

Do you have a favorite song from the days gone by? Many bring tears to my eyes because of memories of hearing them with my parents, my aunt and uncle, and grandmother. They don't have songs like this any more, and I hope we don't forget the golden songs of yesteryear.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday - this and that

The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven.

It's a beautiful day today. Church, lunch, and home. In came some pictures from my daughter, Laura, who was with Mom while the deacons were there to bring communion to those at the nursing home, unable to attend church. We are so blessed to have this offered to those wanting to receive communion. Even better was Laura and Rachael, who was able to be with her. Being outside with the beautiful weather enjoying God's creation made it even better.

Mimi and Laura

Mimi and Rachael

At the end of church we sang this hymn:


1 Go forth for God, go to the world in peace;
be of good courage, armed with heavenly grace,
in God's good Spirit daily to increase,
till in the kingdom we see face to face.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

2 Go forth for God, go to the world in love;
strengthen the faint, give courage to the weak;
help the afflicted; richly from above
God's love supplies the grace and power we seek.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

3 Go forth for God, go to the world in strength;
hold fast the good, be urgent for the right;
render to no one evil; Christ at length
shall overcome all darkness with his light.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

4 Go forth for God, go to the world in joy,
to serve God's people every day and hour,
and serving Christ, our every gift employ,
rejoicing in the Holy Spirit's power.
Go forth for God, go to the world in peace.

J. R. Peacey, 1896-1971


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Real Life

In the past week, each day I have visited Mom at the nursing home. It's interesting seeing all of the different personalities of folks, and seeing those who I have known when their days were full and productive. Seeing my son's principal who now is in a nursing home, church members who were businessmen, office workers, teachers, and others who, on the outside of the nursing home, were productive citizens.

Some have visitors every day, some, I am sure, go days, weeks without seeing anyone from the outside world. Valentine's Day brought stuffed animals to all of the residents, some clinging to them in a child like way. Home made Valentine's cards made by children to be sent out to the residents graced the tables at meal time.

Mom seems content there and for that I am glad. I still grapple with the fact that there has come a time where her care has become bigger than I can handle. I haven't learned the ins and outs of how the nursing home works, how to make things happen, or who to ask. I'll learn the ropes soon. Right now it's more important that I focus on Mom and her needs when I walk in the door.

I have learned it's the simple joys of life that matter - in some ways these folks are wiser than we are as they appreciate the smile, the holding of a hand, the short visit, the birds at the feeder, the kind words, and the gentle spirit of those who care for them. We can learn a lot from them if we forget about the rest of the world and just live in the moment.

Words of wisdom from Rosa, a resident at the nursing home. We were at the table waiting for supper. She was remarking that at some tables no one talks,while others talk too much. I made the remark "Just like real life" - she looked at me and said "Honey, this here is real life" --- truer words could not have been spoken.
Sometimes we have to learn what real life is by going to the nursing home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Visit with Mom

Here is a Saturday visit with Mom. It was early afternoon and she had not gotten up and dressed yet, but we finally got there. A very special friend, almost 5 years old came to visit with her Mimi, so it was a special afternoon. We strolled around the nursing home to just see what we could see and get out of the room, but before long, Mom was ready to get back.

Mom has about 5 or 6 questions she asks over and over and our conversation stays along those lines. A friend shared some wisdom with me this morning at church - -- remember you are entering her world, not yours. Better truth could not be spoken.

I know Mom will have some visitors, so I will leave a book there for them to sign so we know they were there. She remembers she has visitors, but can't remember who they are. I feel like that might help in some ways for me to know. I am so new to this, so am learning the ropes from those who are wiser than me and have been there.

Love overflowed at church today for those of you who read this blog and may have been there. You know who you are and thank you.  It's a new chapter in our book.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Today was the day

It's been a most difficult three weeks as Mom has been in the hospital. A host of ailments, therapies, and decisions. Mom went to the nursing home today as a rehab patient, hopefully to build up strength. Mentally she has been confused at times, and she has a set of questions that she repeats over and over.

Mom doesn't seem to have the fight in her to get better. She sleeps a good bit. She's not really eating much at all. She really didn't understand exactly where she was going and why and asked over and over where she was.

The nursing home is what it is  - full of older people, who can no longer care for themselves, nor can their families care for them in the way that is needed.I hoped to never have to reach that point with Mom, but we can't always have it the way we want it. Did I want to make this decision? No.But I knew I could no longer give her the care she needed at home.  But, like my Mom, they all had lives, many of them full and vibrant, perhaps doing similar work to what you or I do.

I am grieving....Mom and I have been close, always have gotten along. She cannot help the way she is now. Her zest for life is no longer there. A lady who loved people, loved going and seeing, loved to know what was going on, seems to have faded away.

This is a time of transition for us - I feel like I need to enter back into the world slowly and carefully as the same person experiencing life in a different way. Be patient and gentle with me. I feel fragile. I feel alone, though I have a wonderful network of support of people who love me.

Mom, I'll see her tomorrow.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.(from the order of Compline, Book of Common Prayer)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

And here we are today........

It's been a very long January and as we have started into February, it looks like it will continue. Mom is approahing 2 1/2 weeks in the hospital, now being in the "swing unit" meaning that the doctor doesn't go in daily and one is getting therapy to get their strength.

The thing is, Mom doesn't seem to want to regain her strength and she isn't eating well. She is sometimes pretty lucid, but other times she is confused. And she is sleeping a lot. They are supplementing her foods with products that add extra calories and protein, but she doesn't seem to really want to eat.

The days are long now, as I arise around 5:30, get ready for work, go to work, leave work, go to hospital and stay through supper. It makes for a long day, as I have been getting home around 7:30. 

Hello out there!!! I'm still me, I think. I still like thinking about going out to do things, even though that time is limited. I still like being asked if I would like to go someplace, even though I might not be able to.

How does one know how much time to spend with a parent in the hospital? Of course I cannot stay 24-7, but where is the balance? When does one claim some of their life as their own?  I know this is a privilege to be able to care for my mother, but why is it so damn hard?

Not looking for sympathy, just expressing thoughts. Sometimes it's a lonely path, even when you know that you have people who love and care for you.  What they can't do is take away the pain of seeing a parent who seems to be losing her zest for life.

Don't know what happens next with my Mom. I know if they discharged her today, I could no longer care for her. Her needs are greater than what I can handle. I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. Perhaps those answers will be revealed soon.