Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Me, Dad, Camille
This was our first Thanksgiving without Mom. Throughout the day I felt the loss as I'm sure everyone else did too.

Our Balcom family tradition has become this:  kids bundled up in blankets on the couch with the tv on to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by The National Dog Show.  David and I drank our morning coffee while reading the morning newspaper and me looking at the newspaper adds for all of the stores participating in the Black Friday sales (I don't shop but like to look).  Our day was relaxing leading up to dinner at my sisters house.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Camille's with her family and with Dad. This was the first year in many that I can remember that no one made a toast before we began eating. Usually the toast is Dad's "job". Instead this year we all said "happy Thanksgiving" and then ate while talking and laughing.  There was a ton of food and every bit of it was delicious. 

No one talked about Mom or her death and it wasn't that we didn't miss her, she was greatly missed. Instead we focused on Lyndsey's 22nd birthday (which was the next day, Friday) and Camille's 50th birthday (yes, her BIG 5-0, which was the following Tuesday).

Overall, our evening was a happy one with very few tears, delicious food, and good company.

Dad with all his grandkids
LtoR: Lyndsey, Nick, Dad, and in front of Dad: Wade, Emma

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Publish or Not to Publish?

To those of you who read this blog, I need your opinions, I want your opinions.

It has been suggested to me several times over the last couple of years that I should have my blog published into a book. What do you think?

Should I or shouldn't I?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sweet Dream

I finally had a dream about Mom Sunday night going into Monday morning (10/14/12), my first since she died. I don't remember much about the dream other than we were in the house on Carolina Avenue although it was no longer my parents house. Mom walked up the hallway into the living room and I had to tell her that she had died. She seemed surprised to hear that she had passed but was not sad about it.

In my dream Mom did not have dementia, she was at her normal weight, seemed very healthy, she was wearing khaki shorts and a printed polo-type short sleeved shirt along with a beautiful smile on her face.
I hope this was her way of letting me know that she was okay and in a good place. I choose to believe this.

Mom, I miss you so much. Not a day goes by that I don't think about you.

(Mom looked just like this in my dream except she was dressed as described above)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Our Table


Today I went to The Comfy Cow in Westport Village for the first time since I took Mom there the week before she died.

I took this picture while waiting for my order today of the table where Mom and I sat...Mom in the chair on the right and me in the chair on the left.

I took this picture hoping that no one would notice that I was taking it.

I was thinking that I wish I had known that THAT last trip here on August 1, 2012 was going to be my LAST with Mom.

I wish I had had a more meaningful conversation with Mom that day.  There was no way for me to have known that that would be my last conversation with her.  And I guess she couldn't have really carried a full conversation at that point anyway.

I am thankful though, that I had that final moment (of 'clarity') with her.  We enjoyed one of our favorite things together...ice cream, I got to help her walk to the car, and I got to tuck her into her bed one last time, kiss her on her forehead and tell her I loved her.  I remember she told me I was so special and that she loved me.  She had a lot of love in her voice at that moment.  I knew then and still know now how much she loved Dad, Camille, and me.

I wish I could see a picture of Mom and me sitting at this table for the last time instead of the empty chairs.  I would give anything to have that moment back.

My trip to The Comfy Cow was to surprise my Dad with one of his favorite things...a chocolate malt.  Of course I got one for myself.

Time to start making NEW happy memories.  It's all part of healing.

Mom, I miss you everyday.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mom, a message for you from your 9 year old grandson, Wade

Mom, Wade had his 9th birthday four days after you died.  We missed seeing you.  Wade wanted to write this note to you.  
********************************************************************************************************

                                       DEAR MARIN

Dear Marin
1. You were smart.
2. You did the scooter races with Dat.
3. Your snacks at the funeral were really really good! :-)
4. You were good at keeping Dat company.
5. I saved this one for the last one YOU WERE REALLY NICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                           From
October 9, 2011
                                     Wade
             I miss you a lot.                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"This Is The Time To Remember" by Billy Joel

Mom loved Billy Joel's poetry and music so this song seemed appropriate for the closing of Mom's memorial. I've also posted this video of some good times. Despite Mom being ill for so many years she really did have a full, rich, good life. Her life is definitely one to remember.
So, click play and take a look at our times to remember with Mom.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Beverly Bromley's Tribute to Mom


This picture is of Mom with Beverly, having lunch apparently.

Beverly Bromley is Mom's youngest sister, by 13 years. Bev was the last to deliver a tribute to Mom at the memorial. I loved Bev's perspective on her life with Mom.

Sisters are the best! I am so lucky to have two of the best sisters in the world. And in our family, there are lots of sisters. There also are brothers, and I’m sure brothers are special, too. But those brothers have great sisters, so for today, I’m just talking about the sisters.

There are also a lot of women here today that are best friends of Marilyn’s, Margaret’s and mine. They are as close to us as any sisters could be and we love them like sisters. So in respect to this lovely chapel and today’s service, I’d like to hear a hearty “AMEN” when I say…Sisters are the Best!

Marilyn was the best sister. Marilyn was a mature looking 13 year old when I was born. She often told the story that when she would carry me as a baby, people would assume she was my mother. And to this day, I never was sure whether she thought that was funny or whether she thought that was really weird.

I remember going with Marilyn on some of her high school dates to the Iroquois Amphitheater to see musicals and driving to the top of the hill to see the city skyline and the “star watchers” parked there. Little did I know that I was the “chaperone” whom my parents made her take so that there was no “hanky panky.” Sisters are the best.

When I entered the first grade at Clark School, Marilyn, Margaret and my parents took me to my first day of school in Ms. Fagenbush’s class room. They both had her in first grade and I felt so proud to have the whole family escort me.

Sisters taught me how to build tents out of card tables and army blankets. They taught me how to do cartwheels and to stand on my head. They took me sled riding. They hid Easter baskets and taught me how to play croquet and badminton on the family farm outside of LaGrange. They taught me how to make fried eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. They took me to swing at Hogan’s Fountain. After hours at our father’s office in the Starks Building, they would put me in a rolling office chair and run me down the corridors as fast as they could go. Sisters are the best!

And then Harold came along. HUUUMMMM…And then he kept coming – and coming – and coming. What’s up with that? I do know that at least once I told him, “Take your hands off my sister!” AND I MEANT IT.

But I was there “that night” when Mom and Dad were watching the Friday Night Fights on TV and I was in my card table tent. As I peeked out from under the blankets, Harold told my parents that he had asked Marilyn to marry him and she said yes. In texting lingo - OMG!!!

My life with Marilyn changed. I became a junior maid of honor at 10 years old. Very impressive. Funny things stick in my mind. She chose Gorham Chantilly rather than the family tradition of Fairfax. They had a painting of a nude female in their first apartment – shocker! Of course that was Harold’s influence. She hosted the first family holiday dinner outside of our mother’s or grandmother’s at the Greenhill Apartments. I remember it was the most beautiful table setting I had ever seen. She always presented a beautiful dining table. Sisters are the best.

Camille was born and at only 13, Marilyn trusted me with babysitting duties. It was an awesome responsibility but I was thrilled. One night Camille became really fussy with a stuffy nose. I knew that I should rub some sticky stuff on her chest and nose to help relieve the symptoms. I found the jar and slathered the goo on the appropriate places. She was still fussy. When they came home, they noticed that I had covered her with Vaseline rather than menthalatum. She was a slippery little devil. But Marilyn forgave me and let me babysit many more times. Sisters are the best. Sorry Camille.

Anne was born and I babysat more, now at their first home on Westport Terrace. I loved taking care of the girls. Anne loved to be swung around. One day, I carefully put my thumbs in her palm and my fingers around her wrists and slowly pulled up to give her a swing. I pulled her wrist out of joint. I felt so bad, but Marilyn forgave me. Sisters are the best. Sorry Anne.

When I first learned to drive, my favorite place to go to was Marilyn’s house. When I was in college and came home, I would always spend time with Marilyn. She and Hal were COOL! Little did I know that during this period, they were having some hard times. But Marilyn would always say, “Would you like to stay for dinner? We’re having scrambled eggs or we’re having macaroni and cheese.” Like this was the gourmet dinner for the night. It was always great to be with them, and I would return the favor by polishing their copper bottom pots and pans. Sisters are the best.

College and a few years afterward brought ups and downs in my life, but Marilyn always helped me through those times and sometimes acted as the buffer between my parents and me. She was my biggest supporter and I loved her so much for being there for me. Sisters are the best.

Finally I grew up and Marilyn became more than a sister – she became a best friend. Marilyn and Hal’s door was always open, any time.

I could go on and on, but as you have heard, my sister Marilyn helped to create the person I am today. I will treasure her love, her support and her unconditional loyalty to me. She loved Hal, Margaret, her children, her grandchildren and her extended family. She treasured her girlfriends. But my best memories are how much she loved me. Let’s give another resounding AMEN to Sisters are the best!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lyndsey's Tribute to her Grandmommy


Lyndsey (now 21 years old) was the first grandchild therefore she has always had a special, close relationship with her grandparents, especially her Grandmommy. She wrote a tribute about her Grandmommy that she posted on Facebook. Lyndsey's mom Camille (my sister) read it at Mom's funeral.

I'm not usually one to broadcast things like this on facebook, but this morning the world lost one of the most wonderful ladies I have ever known. My Grandmommy, Marilyn Forrester, passed away this morning.

She fought heart disease, MS, and diabetes for over 30 years, surpassing the doctors expectations by a long shot. A woman who wasn't even supposed to live to see her oldest daughter graduate high school made it all the way to see her oldest grandchild turn 21.

My grandmother always has, and always will be the most inspirational, and badass woman I will ever know, she fought all the way to the end. In her own words "That's what happens when you piss me off, I live for thirty more years.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Tribute to Mom

I have to say that I am proud that I was able to get through my tribute to Mom at her funeral without tearing up. It was hard but I managed to do it.

My tribute to Mom

While Camille and I were preparing our parents house to sell last year I found a real treasure. It was a journal that Mom kept during the beginning of her heart disease, dated probably somewhere between 1979-1980. In this journal Mom jotted down her thoughts, concerns about her condition, questions for her doctors, notes for Dad. She also wrote funny thoughts that occurred to her. This is a great example of one of those. This note is dated Sunday, August 10th (year not given).

"When I went down to xray for the lung series it was so funny to look around in this very sterile room and see all the many sizes and kinds of catheters hanging from hooks on the wall and in amongst them all was this great green plastic fly swatter. Plus the fact you are laid out on this table and then everyone runs for cover."
If you really know Mom then you can appreciate this observation.

Mom loved her friends so much and being with them always lifted her spirits . Besides Dad and her family I believe that her friendships were one of the contributing factors that helped keep her alive beyond her life expectancy. Because Mom's life expectancy was uncertain at the time; In the same journal I mentioned earlier Mom had written a letter to her friends which I interpreted as a "good-bye" letter which I would like to read to you. I think it still applies to her current friends and to those who were not able to make it to this service today.

"To my wonderful friends. Thank you all who came to dinner. Those of you who could not come were greatly missed by me. These last two years have been full of new experiences for me - what an understatement! But into my life have come a whole new set of friends. Your kindness and friendships have made some of the rough spots easier for me. I can never thank you enough for what you have given me."

I don't think she ever got around to finishing that letter for reasons unknown but I think it says a lot just as it is.

Mom never wanted her illnesses to keep her from being a good mother. No matter how she felt Mom was still a Mom and she knew she had a job to do by teaching Camille and me about...

• Etiquette - who ever heard of a "Bromley" having an informal dining table at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Knives, forks, spoons, and salt and pepper shakers always had to be in just the right spot.
• Mom taught us to sew, iron, make our beds with hospital corners, cook, and bake the traditional cinnamon rolls at Christmas time.
• We learned how to polish all of that silver that she stored in her corner cabinet in the dining room. THAT was a daunting task for us girls.
• Mom taught us how to be mothers ourselves. I can't think of a better role model.
• We learned about sacrifice and keeping a stiff upper lip.
• Mom taught us about strength and always keeping a sense of humor. Mom would always say that "if I don't laugh about it I would go crazy" (or something like that).

Throughout her illness, Mom has always maintained poise, dignity, strength, a sense of adventure, and her wonderful sense of humor.

All our lives Camille and I were fortunate enough to be witness to the bond that our parents had as a married couple. I've never known another couple to have such a deep love as our parents had. They are wonderful role models for what marriage, commitment, and true love really is.

There is so much more that I want to say but just not enough time.

Thank you to all of you for being a part of Mom's life and enriching her entire life, especially her 30+ bonus years. Each of you had a hand it keeping her alive.

Mom, you were such a good Mom. I love you and I will miss you so much.

Not one of the best pictures of me because I am very pregnant with my son here but Mom looks adorable. Before the dementia took over her memory Mom and I were VERY close.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Tribute to Mom, by Janice Fish

Mom had wonderful friends. One of her very special friends, Janice Fish, wrote and read this tribute at Mom's memorial.

A Memorial for Marilyn
by Janice Fish, August 15, 2012

Thank you Hal for the opportunity to speak on Marilyn's behalf.

These four lines summarize for me Marilyn's legacy:

Marilyn ran the race of life as an Olympian and left for us her gold.
Memories with a golden luster that is brilliant.
Memories with rich patina that came from years of friendship
Memories of friendship left in bold streak upon our hearts.

I met Marilyn 47 years ago through a mutual friend, Lola Howard. Together we attended tailoring classes and met in my house in the evenings to practice our newly learned skills and to construct our patterns using the sewing machine. Marilyn was an exquisite seamstress. Marilyn was the perfect model – tall, slender and gorgeous. More stunning than her skills and appearance was her love for her family.

As women do when we gather, we shared stories about our children. In the mid 60s my children, Marian and John , were 3 and less than 1, Lola's son Worth was about 4 ½ and Marilyn's daughter Camille was about 3.

A story from the 60s that stands alone in my mind expressing Marilyn's devotion to Camille began with a request for a tent. Little Worth wanted one too. The moms thought it was a grand idea, and together Marilyn and Lola designed a plan for a tent for the children – an Indian teepee, that would be made with the help of Camille and Worth and decorated with designs created and painted by the children.

I know everyone in the room has at one time helped a child build a tent. What fun – crawling into that little space – separated for all the world. These devoted and talented women had a fabulous plan – just one little snag – when they presented the plan to Camille and Worth the plan was rejected. That was not what the children had in mind. Camille and Worth wanted their tent built under the dining room table. I can hear Marilyn and Lola laughing. I really think they were relieved. They just wanted to be actively involved with their children and present the very best possibilities.

As time passed and Marilyn's second child Anne was born, the family took on running. Hal shared that Marilyn tried to run with them but had to take frequent breaks. Thinking she was just out of shape, she rested and continued.

It was around 1977, 35 years ago, at the age of 40, a very, very young age for most in this room, that Marilyn learned she was not out of shape, just that her heart wasn't up to or into running.

When Marilyn heard from a leading heart specialist that she had maybe a couple of years, she told her friends that the doctor really “pissed” her off. She said she was determined at that point to show him. She would prove him wrong with her longevity. She would successfully finish her race for life. And she did. With the loving support of her sweetheart and life-long partner Hal, her daughters Camille and Anne, her sisters Margaret and Beverly, her caregiver Diane, and you her dear friends, Marilyn turned 2 years into 35 years – celebrating her 75th birthday in late April.

With Marilyn's death we have lost a good friend. In my heart she will always have a seat in the Bristol Grille or Dairy Queen. I will cherish forever the memory of our last DQ cone – just 10 days before her death – and the laughter shared as we lost the race to finish the cones before the cream pooled on our hands and the table.

And, I will forever cherish our departing hug. Her robust spirit, sense of humor and positive lifestyle will forever be an inspiration.

In closing I say to you Hal, Camille, Anne, your families and many friends, yes, Marilyn has won her race for longevity.

Now we carry her gold, her inspiration to live each day to the fullest. We carry the torch of love that Marilyn so sweetly passed on. We will forever smile when we remember her smiling face, and our hearts will be warmed by her love.

Janice Fish
8/15/12

Margaret Bromley's Tribute to Mom


Mom's sister, Margaret Bromley, gave this sweet tribute at Mom's memorial. I love how it gave us a peek into Mom's childhood, adolesence, teen and early adult years. Thank you Aunt Margaret, for everything. I couldn't have made it through all of this over the years without you.

Celebration of Marilyn Bromley Forrester's Life

I first want to thank all of you for coming to Marilyn's Celebration of Life today. However, most of you knew her in her later years, and since she was my 'older' sister, I do believe that I have known her the longest! So come with me down 'memory lane' and enjoy some joyful moments of her earlier years. They will be short but let your imaginations travel with me...

* Catching lightening bugs on a summer's evening and watching their glow through the night...but always letting them go free the next day
* Playing 'Kick the Can' under the streetlight with the neighborhood children on Birchwood Avenue in Crescent Hill
* Walking together the six blocks to Clark School everyday...sometimes through the alleys
* Playing a duet with me at our annual piano recital
* Raking leaves together to the curb and burning them in the fall...before burning was banned
* Sledding with squeals and laughter with our father on No.5 hill at Crescent Hill Golf Course
* Collecting eggs from the hen house at our grandmother's farm
* Climbing together to the top of the silo and feeling that we were 'on top of the world'
* Sharing the thrill of welcoming a new baby sister, Beverly, into our family
* Making and decorating Spritz Christmas cookies with our mother, a tradition that Camille continues to this day
* Getting her driver's license at 16
* Playing the trumpet in Atherton's first marching band and having to wear a band uniform with a skirt as the principal felt it was 'unladylike' to wear pants!
* Double dating with me and going to Kaelin's drive-in for a cheeseburger after a movie
* Learning to make the famous 'Bromley Cinnamon Rolls' that Anne still makes for the annual Bromley Christmas Family dinner
* Going off to college at Venderbilt and getting a telegram from me that Atherton had beaten Male 6-2 (we found the telegram which had been saved with other memorabilia when Marilyn and Hal moved to Dudley Square)
* Meeting and falling in love with Hal
* Getting married on Sept 3, 1960 and starting life together at the Greenhill Apartments with several couples who have remained friends for life
* Welcoming Camille and Anne into their family
* Providing a safe and comfortable haven to all who visited in her home by being the perfect support and hostess

Marilyn loved life and wanted to share happy moments and good times. I hope you have enjoyed sharing them again through these good memories of Marilyn with each of us here today. Again, thank you for coming to her Celebration of Life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keep Me in Your Heart, by Warren Zevon

This song was played at Mom's funeral. Such a beautiful song and a beautiful tribute to her.
I love and miss you so much, Mom.

Jim's Tribute to Mom

My brother-in-law, Jim Estes, wrote the perfect, moving tribute to Mom.
Jim works for USA Track and Field and was in London working for the 2012 Summer Olympics when Mom was dying. He was not able to say good-bye to Mom in person before she died but he did an exceptional job, in his writing, at capturing his emotion and the true sense of who Mom was.
Jim was the first to step up to the podium at Mom's memorial to read his beautiful tribute AND Dad's sweet letter to Mom.

We're here today to say good bye to Marilyn Bromley Forrester and to remember and celebrate her life. She was a lady of many talents.

To Hal, she was a wife

To Camille and Anne, she was Mom

To Dave and me, she was the best mother-in-law a man could hope for.

To Emma and Wade, she was "Marin"

To Lyndsey and Nick, she was "Grandmommy"

She was amazing at all of them.

Marilyn faced more medical issues than any one person should ever have to, including Alzheimer's, MS and heart disease and she did it with determination and grace.

Because Marilyn lived for more than 30 years after the FIRST time doctors told her that she didn't have long to live, I'll always see her as the woman who beat them all.

One of the things that always struck me was that when you would ask her how she was doing, she would reply "I can't complain." But I think it was more that she WOULDN'T complain. It was as if she refused to give these illnesses any regard whatsoever. She wouldn't let them keep her from another day with her husband and her family and friends.

Along the way, Hal was by Marilyn's side and watching them over the years taught me a lot about commitment and love. They truly knew that every day was a gift and made the most of every one of them.

Hal asked me today to share with you a letter that he's written to Marilyn:

((see his letter in the prior post titled "Dad's Letter to Mom"))

Over the years, I've had the privilege to see some of the world's greatest athletes perform. I've always admired how they push through pain and adversity but as I sat last week watching some of these athletes, I thought about Marilyn and the fact that pain and adversity was part of her life every day. No time-outs, no rest between events. This was a part of her life all day, every day but again, I don't think she would want us to focus on that, she was simply doing what she needed to do to be there for her family. For that, I admire her.

Though it does hurt terribly to know that she's gone, there is some amount of comfort knowing that she is finally at rest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dad's Letter to Mom

Read by my brother-in-law, Jim Estes, at Mom's memorial service.

Dear Marilyn,

Well here we are answering the question “which one of us will die first?” And true to form, you won the argument so now, I have to stand up here and tell all of these people all about you and us.

Many people here didn’t know you when you were young so I have to give them a peek.

We met in November of 1958 on a blind date. You however were not my date. I had just finished basic training at Fort Knox. A guy I met there was engaged to your good friend. We came in town and dropped by his girl friends house to pick her up. You were there also and I figured you were my date. Not so. You were there waiting for your blind date. Bummer. You were beautiful. And I believe we clicked then. We actually didn’t have a date until several months later. You were tall with thin shapely legs in spike heels, and a gorgeous smile.

Finally a group of 5 or 6 couples assembled and we went to the old KT’s. You and I ignored our dates and had eyes only for each other. We ended the evening at Blue Cottage Inn where the Bristol is now.

Our first date was in the Spring of 1959, I wore a seersucker suit. You loved it. We went to a movie on 4th Street. After that you took me to the overlook on Iroquois Hill. Well we married a year later on September 3rd, 1960. We were, I believe the happiest couple in the world.

Then came the kids. Camille first then Anne. Our first house and your entry into local politics. Our 6th class city had its first female councilwoman. At your first meeting the mayor asked you if you “was one of those bra burners”. You said to him, “If I had one on I’d burn it how if that would excite you”.

Then the first of the hard times. Heart disease. Your first open heart surgery. A few months later they had to do it again. And finally, a few years later, a third open heart. You never really recovered. Next came the MS diagnosis. Diabetes followed. You struggled so hard to survive. Your goal was to see the kids grow up, then marry. Then grandchildren. You saw all of that.

Finally our 50th wedding anniversary. Our 52nd would have been next month, September 3rd.
Fifty-two years of fun and struggle. We had a great life together. Those memories will sustain me in the month’s to come.

Mom's Memorial Day


This picture is from the day we met at St. Luke's Chapel to discuss Moms memorial service with the Rev. Georgine Buckwalter (if I remember correctly is was about 2-3 days before the memorial). In this picture are Dad, Camille, and Mom's sisters Margaret Bromley & Beverly Bromley. I took the picture.

The Memorial day came on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - exactly one week from the day that Mom died. I was overwhelmed by how many people came to the visitation and actually stayed for the memorial service. It truly was standing-room-only.

It was a beautiful day that day.

Surprisingly, I was in a pretty good mood. I knew that I needed to be "on" in order to greet all of Mom's visitors and to be able to make it through MY tribute to her. I did not want to break down at the podium when it was my turn to speak. Dad was not feeling well, still recovering from being sick the day before (that is another story though). Camille, Dad, Aunt Margaret, Beverly, and I greeted people we hadn't seen or heard from in years along with close friends of the family. It was really wonderful to know that Mom and us, as a family, were loved by so many.

MOM



Dad chose a lovely urn for Mom's ashes. Mom loved the contemporary style so her urn reflects her taste. We really believe she would have loved its simplicity.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Blue Velvet Drape

Wednesday, August 8, 2012....
David, Emma, Wade, and myself arrived at the hospital (I believe) by 7:00 AM. We walked into Mom's hospital room to see my father, my niece and nephew, my sister, my aunt Margaret, and Mom. Mom was laying in her hospital bed, quiet, peaceful, hands together on her chest. I immediately walked over to her side, sat down in the chair next to her bed, took her hand and cried. Her hand felt cold, her color was gone. I couldn't believe Mom was gone.

Dad was the first person I looked at when I walked into the hospital room. Dad, like everyone else, was crying. I felt such deep sadness for him.

The Hospice nursing staff allowed us our time to be with Mom for the last time until the funeral home people came to pick her up and take her away. It seems like it wasn't any time at all before they arrived. We all had to leave her room to go to the waiting room across the hallway so that there would be enough room for Mom to be moved to a stretcher.

While we were all in the waiting room Camille and I stood by Dad who was sitting down. I remember Dad was rocking back and forth, sobbing, saying he didn't want them to take her. He said he couldn't watch them take her. I had to see it though. I walked out into the hallway and stood with my Aunt Margaret. I had to see Mom being taken away, I wanted to remember every moment. It seemed like an eternity before the funeral home people came out of the room with Mom but they finally did.

I saw the stretcher being rolled out with Mom on it. I couldn't see Mom because she was covered with a pretty blue velvet drape. Under the drape I could see the silhouette of Moms body and her face. I still could not believe that was Mom under that drape.

Down the hall they went with my Mom on that stretcher. That was the last time I ever saw Mom.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sounds Silly but I Never Thought Mom Would Die

August 7, 2012...
I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 PM after my sister had called me to let me know that Mom's condition had worstened. Mom just looked like she was sleeping. She was breathing loudly. Her breathing sounded almost like she was moaning at the same time she was taking a breath only it wasn't really a moan. The sound she was making was undescribable and loud. Mom seemed to be struggling to catch her breath. She was sweating a lot and we could see her heart beating quickly through her hospital gown; pounding really. Her heart would pound so hard that her bed would vibrate. Her body was fighting to stay alive.

Soon the apnea set in. I timed it. She would stop breathing for 30 seconds and everything was silent. I could see her heart pounding even harder and her bed would vibrate. At one point I placed my hand on her chest over her heart to feel it, it was pulsating so fast. After 30 seconds she began gasping for air again and this would last for a little bit longer than 30 seconds then she would stop again.

Dad, Camille, and I would take turns sitting with Mom, holding her hand, cooling her down with a cold, wet washcloth, stroking her arm, her hair, begging her to stop fighting so hard, that it was okay to go. We promised her we'd be okay.

I began to text my husband, David and some friends. I was in a panic. Mom seemed to be struggling for breath and there was nothing we could do. The nurses reassured us that this was all normal when someone dies and that the person is not actually struggling but it didn't make me feel any better.

Soon Mom's two sisters came....Margaret Bromley and Beverly Bromley. Margaret sat with Mom, held her hand. Beverly kept Mom cool with the cold, wet washcloth and would fan her. Both talked to Mom, told Mom how much they loved her. I can't remember everything they said but I'm sure they also said their good-byes.

Mom's caregiver Diane O'Neil was also there. She also comforted Mom. Diane was a wonderful companion for Mom for the last 6-7 years.

My niece and nephew also came, Lyndsey (21) and Nick Estes (15). They would look at their Grandmommy and cry but I don't think they could talk. They both were so very sad.

This went on for hours! Pure agony for all of us!!

I think it was sometime around 3 AM that the gargling sound began when Mom would breathe. I knew exactly what that was. The term for it is the "death rattle". The Hospice nurses would come in to reposition Mom and it would get a little better but not for long. They started really pumping Mom with more Dilaudid and whatever else to keep Mom out of pain. Soon she sounded better and I felt that I could finally go home for a couple of hours to get a little rest. I thought that I had about 4-5 more hours. At about 4:30 AM I told my dad and sister that Mom sounded somewhat stable for now and that I was going to head home for a bit but would be back by 8:00 AM.

I arrived home around 5:00 AM. I looked at the clock when I climbed in bed and it said 5:10 AM. I closed my eyes but couldn't sleep but I did get some rest.

The phone rang at 6:10 AM (one hour later) and it was Camille. All she said was "she's gone". I think all I said was "she is?" then told Camille I was on my way. David sat up, I told him what Camille said and told him that I needed to go. He wouldn't let me go immediately because he said I needed to get my emotions out. I think he was afraid to let me drive at this point. I didn't even cry for the first minute after Camille had called because I was numb and I don't think it really sunk in.

Suddenly it hit me and I mean like a ton of bricks. I don't think I have ever cried that hard in my life. I sat in my bed, in David's arms for a good 10 minutes (at least) and just sobbed. Wade, my 9 year old son, woke up because he heard me. He came in and asked why I was crying. I told him that Marin died. (Marin is the grandmother name my kids gave to Mom) Wade climbed in bed and hugged me too but I don't think he ever cried.
Soon after Wade came in Emma, my 11 year old, came in and asked the same thing. We told her that Marin died. Emma began to cry and also climbed in bed with us.

After a few minutes we all got dressed and headed downtown to the hospital. I called my sister and told her to please not let them take her until I could see her.

((Below is a picture that Dad took of Camille and me with Mom a couple of hours before she died. We didn't know he took it but are glad he did. It was a special moment.))


((I snapped this picture, below, of Camille and Dad sleeping sitting up in the room with Mom. I don't think of these pictures as terrible, morbid moments. I think they are precious moments in our lives.))


((Dad comforting Mom))





Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mom's final days

Mom went into the Hosparus (Hospice) wing of Norton Hospital in downtown Louisville on Thursday, August 2, 2012. She agreed to go per the Hospice nurses recommendation so that Dad could have a respite and she could be monitored and try to work on straightening out her medications. Dad had mentioned to me that although on August 2nd they agreed for her to be admitted for 5 or more days she probably would not go until the weekend or the following week because there was no bed available. Well....that day a bed became available and off they went.

By the time Mom had gotten to the hospital she had forgotten her agreement to go and was very agitated and angry that she was there. The nurses had given her some meds to calm her and they worked, helped keep her from being so angry.

I was busy cleaning my house and getting ready for out of town guests to arrive on Friday afternoon for a college reunion that was being held on Saturday evening at Captain's Quarters on the Ohio River. I had talked to Dad and told him that I would not be able to come see Mom on Friday but would be there along with my friend, Karen, on Saturday morning before we were to go shopping. Dad said that would be fine.

Saturday morning came (August 4). Karen and I left my house around 10:15 AM and headed downtown to see Mom. Karen had a very close relationship with both of my parents, almost like they were her "second" parents. She was excited to be able to see and talk to Mom. For me it was just another hospital visit where we would talk and laugh and tell Mom to hurry up and get well so she could go home.

As Karen and I walked into Mom's hospital room we saw Dad sitting in a chair in the corner next to Mom's bed. Mom looked like she was sleeping. I spoke to her, told her I was there and that Karen had come to see her too. She struggled so to try to open her eyes. She was so heavily medicated that she could barely open them but she managed to crack them a bit and I believe she saw us before they closed again (almost immediately). She grinned. When I told her that Karen was there she said (in a whisper) "she's so wonderful", referring to Karen. Karen said "hi" to Mom and gave her a hug. I leaned down and told her who I was and that I loved her. Mom replied "I love you too", still struggling to talk and open her eyes. She never did get her eyes open again.

I turned to Dad and asked why she was so heavily drugged. ((I'm trying to recall everything said but it's difficult to remember))
I believe Dad said that she had to be due to pain and to keep her from becoming agitated. I also remember Dad saying "you are now seeing your mother's death" (or something like that). I immediately felt sick and this I distinctly remember saying.... "is that what's happening?". Dad nodded and began to cry, as did I (and Karen). I could not believe my ears.

Soon after Dad told me the news a hospice nurse came into the room. Her name was Beth and she was very sweet and friendly. I asked her if Mom was going to be leaving the hospital in a few days and she said "no". She assured me that she recognized all of the signs of the body dying and that she couldn't believe how quickly Mom's body had declined since she came in a day and a half ago. She mentioned that just the night before Mom was talking with them and eating her favorite chocolate ice cream.

We all just sat there for a few minutes. I still couldn't believe the news, none of us could. I looked up at Mom and saw Karen talking in Mom's ear. They were talking to each other and Mom had a tight grip with both of her hands around Karen's hand. I believe they were saying their good-byes to each other.

Then it was my turn. I'm sad that I don't remember exactly what I said or what Mom said to me before we left the hospital that day but I know I did tell her I loved her.

The days to come were very difficult.

I know Dad was exhausted. Dad loved Mom deeply and only left her side to go home to sleep at night. I heard that friends were coming in and out to visit over Mom's last days. I'm sure they were also saying their good-byes.

On Sunday (August 5) David and the kids went to the hospital with me. That was the last time David got to see Mom before she died. Thankfully he was able to speak to her and I know Mom heard him. I'm not sure of what all happened in the room or what was said when we were all there, it all seems like a blur.

Mom was in a medically induced coma. She was on no life support, the hospice staff had stopped giving Mom all of her medications, her pacemaker/defibrillator had been turned off. She was on heavy doses of Morphine for pain and Adavan to keep her calm. Soon the Morphine was ineffective so they began giving her Dilaudid. She would occasionally moan or move her arms but mostly she was very still.

Tuesday afternoon (August 7) I took the kids up to see Mom so they could talk to her if they wanted. Both of my kids were not sure if they wanted to see her but I really wanted them to. I felt it important for them to have a chance to say their good-byes (or whatever they wanted to say) to Mom. Wade (age 8) just walked up to her bedside and said "hi" while waving his hand. I told Mom that Wade was there. Next was Emma (age 11). Emma couldn't talk. I could tell that she was having a hard time. I told Mom that Emma was there and that Emma and Wade both said they loved her. Mom raised her eyebrows....I believe she heard me and that was her way to communicate. Mom loved all of her grandchildren so very much. I wish that she had the opportunity to tell them good-bye.
The kids and I didn't stay for too long.

Tuesday night, about 9:30, I received a phone call from Camille. Camille said that I should probably come, Mom's respirations had changed as well as her color.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Really missing Mom today, still doesn't seem real

This is so much harder than I ever imagined. Needing to find strength from somewhere, feel like curling up into a ball. How does anyone get through this? If I am feeling this bad today I cannot imagine how bad my dad must feel.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mom's voice


The other day I was fortunate enough to find a voicemail on my cell phone from Mom that had not been automatically deleted from my voicemail box. It has since been deleted. David and I could not figure out a way to save the message so he recorded the message onto his cell phone by using the video camera (which is why there is an empty chair). All I cared about was the audio. Now I will always have this cute little soundbyte of my mom's voice.
In this message Mom sounds like "Mom" and not "Mom with dementia".
((The message was dated April 17, 2012.))

Friday, August 17, 2012

I Googled "What happens to the body when it's dying"

Here is what I read and then realized that Mom was already dying, even during our outing for ice cream. These findings (below) will make sense once you have read my post prior to this one titled TRULY.... THIS WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

Confusion and disorientation
You may hear your loved one say things that make no sense. They may not know what day it is or may not appear to know who you are. They may even say things that are totally out of character. For example, they may shout at you or physically push you away. This can be very hurtful and upsetting. But try to understand that they don’t mean it and are not aware that they are doing these things. It happens partly because of the chemical changes going on inside their body.

-source: website: cancerhelp.cancerresearchuk.org

During the dying process, the body's systems shut down. The dying person has less energy and begins to sleep more and more. The body is conserving the little energy it has, and as a result, needs less nourishment and sustenance. In the days (or sometimes weeks) before death, people eat and drink less. They may lose all interest in food and drink, and you shouldn't force them to eat. In fact, pushing food or drink on a dying person could cause him or her to choke -- at this point, it has become difficult to swallow and the mouth is very dry.
As the person takes in less food and drink, he or she will urinate less frequently and have fewer bowel movements. The person may also experience loss of bladder and bowel control. People who are dying may become confused, agitated or restless, which could be a result of the brain receiving less oxygen. It can be disconcerting and painful to hear a loved one so confused in his or her last days.

-source: What Happens During The Dying Process / website: science.howstuffworks.com

Truly.... this was the beginning of the end

(Mom and I sat inside, next to the window under that "SMOOTHIES" neon sign)


I took my mom out for ice cream on Wednesday August 1, 2012. In the days before that my dad had called me letting me know of a major mental decline for mom. She became verbally abusive to dad, confused as to who he was (which we were used to) and she began hallucinating. I believe it was on Sunday, July 29th that Dad had said that Mom had even been very angry with Camille and I for not staying over to help her clean up the house when we hadn't even been there. Dad said she was "flipping us the bird" and that he had never heard Mom use such profanity, ever. Dad had told me that the Hospice nurses had been visiting and tried giving her meds to help calm her down. I guess they would work for a little while but then she was right back at her antics.

Back to Wednesday August 1, my dad called me at home. When I answered my phone the only word out of his mouth was "HELP!". I knew he needed me to come. As I was driving over all I could think was "what will I find when I get there?", "did mom have a sudden burst of adrenaline and hurt dad?". I had no idea.

Cautiously, I walked into their house and saw Mom sitting in a chair with a frown on her face, dressed in all white and she was holding her purse in her lap like she was waiting for someone to take her somewhere. I asked Mom where she was going and her reply was something like this...."well I was waiting for Dado to come pick me up to take me home but now he's not coming". To appease Mom I said "Mom, Dado is out of town for a couple of days but when he gets back then we'll take you to see him". Mom looked at me and said "Who's Dado?". I couldn't believe my ears.

After that conversation back-fired on me Mom kept asking Dad and me why we were playing games with her, why were we doing "this" to her (not sure what "this" was). She was like a broken record that we couldn't stop from skipping, asking us the same questions over and over and over. Not sure what else to do Dad asked Mom if she'd like for me to take her to get some ice cream. Well, that did the trick. Still mad and frowning Mom said "I could do that". To me her reply sounded like a child.

So...... I took Mom to get some ice cream at The Comfy Cow in Westport Village. She really struggled to walk taking teeny tiny steps. She held onto my arm for support with her left hand and had her cane in her right hand. It seemed like it took us 5 minutes or more just to get from the car to the door of the ice cream store and we were parked in front of the door. Once inside I found a nice little 2 seater table right next to the window. I sat Mom down and told her I would head up to the counter to order. Mom said she wanted chocolate ice cream. Of course she did, it was her favorite.

While I was standing at the counter waiting for my turn to order I glanced over at Mom and I could see the profile of her face. She was staring straight ahead, no expression, no movement, nothing. She looked like a statue sitting there in the window.

I ordered the ice cream then paid. As soon as I put the cup of chocolate ice cream in front of her, Mom immediately perked up and smiled. We had a pleasant conversation although it wasn't deep, just some small talk. She said she really was enjoying her ice cream, asked about the kids and David. After we finished eating she mentioned she needed to go to the restroom so we made our way over to them. After a few minutes I heard her call for me. Mom said she felt like she was going down, like she was going to faint. I took her out of the ice cream store as quickly as she could go and told her that I'd take her home and put her to bed, which I did. I wrote about all of that in an earlier post so I won't rehash that in this post. I kissed her on her forehead, told her I loved her and I went home shortly after that.

Dad called me the next day, Thursday August 2, and told me that Hospice decided that they wanted to hospitalize Mom for 5 days or more so Dad could have a respite and they could try to stabilize Mom. Mom agreed to go. Dad said that it would take several days for a bed to become available so she probably wouldn't go until the following week. Well......a bed became available and Mom went in that night.

That was my last outing with my mother.

A few nights later I Googled "what happens to the body when it's dying". After reading up on the information on my search I realized that Mom WAS already dying, even during our ice cream outing, we just didn't know it.

Closing down my blog? Nah, not yet

Well, it has been over a week since my mother passed away and I still cannot believe she is no longer with us. My father has asked me twice now if I am going to close down my blog now that she's gone. My answer was "NO". I still have so much that I want to write about. I am sure that I will close it sometime this year but there is still a lot to tell, including being with Mom in her final hours.

With back to school activities now in full swing I will be struggling to find the time to write but I will get there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Breathe deep.......

http://www.legacy.com/guestbook/louisville/guestbook.aspx?n=marilyn-forrester&pid=159083388&cid=full

I had a very good day yesterday....no tears.
Mom's funeral is tomorrow. I am not having a good day today. I can hardly stop crying. I only hope I can make it through what I want to say tomorrow.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Mom's Obituary in the Courier-Journal

FORRESTER, MARILYN ELIZABETH BROMLEY, 75, passed away on August 8, 2012, surrounded by her family.

A native Louisvillian, Marilyn was born April 30, 1937 to Mary Emma Ward Bromley and Paul B. Bromley.

She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Harold (Hal) Forrester; two daughters, Camille Estes (Jim) and Anne Balcom (David); four grandchildren, Lyndsey and Nicholas Estes and Emma and Wade Balcom; and two sisters, Margaret Bromley and Beverly Bromley (Bob Hundley). Her sister, Anna Catherine, died in 1939.

Marilyn graduated from the University of Louisville after attending Vanderbilt University. Upon graduation, she worked at the law firm, Greenbaum, Barnett, Wood and Doll. She was the first female commissioner of the City of Woodlawn Park and later was a real estate agent for Bass & Weisberg and the Paul Semonin Company.

A longtime member of the Highland Mothers Club and 'The Birthday Group', Marilyn was an accomplished homemaker and seamstress. She took great pride in her home and garden and especially appreciated Cherokee Park. She was an inspiration to all who knew her as she kept her sense of humor and devotion to making others happy throughout her years of health adversity. The family wishes to acknowledge with great appreciation her caregivers, especially Diane O'Neil, Hosparus, and the support and staff of the Episcopal Church Home.

A memorial celebration of Marilyn's life will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 in St. Luke's Chapel at the Episcopal Church Home, 7504 Westport Rd., Lyndon Ln. entrance. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. until the time of the service. Pearson's entrusted with the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, The Episcopal Church Home or Hosparus.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

The End of a Very Long Road


Marilyn Bromley Forrester 4/30/1937 - 8/8/2012

On Wednesday morning at approximately 6:06 AM, my strong, sweet, beautiful, loving mother lost her battle with dementia. It was a long, hard fight for her and she fought up until she took her last breath. I cannot believe she is gone and I'm so sad. This is the deepest sadness I've ever felt.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Force to be Reckoned With!

My mother IS a force to be reckoned with.
Mom beat all the odds against health adversity for more than 30 years. Dementia is the one disease she couldn't beat.
Mom is in full-time hospice care and is not expected to make it to the end of the week.
I am so sad that she will no longer be with us physically but relieved that she will no longer be suffering with pain and confusion.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"Because the end of life is part of living"

I took Mom out for ice cream Wednesday afternoon. She loved every bite of her scoop of chocolaty goodness. Little did I know that that outing would be my last with her.

Mom was admitted into the Hospice wing of a hospital downtown the very next day, Thursday. On Friday the doctor turned off her defibrilator.

Here I type on Sunday to report that, although a doctor hasn't seen Mom since Friday to tell us this, all of the Hospice nurses say they recognize the "end of life" symptoms Mom is having and consider her terminal.

Funeral arrangements are being discussed, still so much to do while we wait for the inevitable.

I am so sad. I am relieved, however, that soon Mom will no longer be in pain, will no longer be living in a constant state of fear and confusion.

On Wednesday afternoon I after I brought Mom home from having her ice cream treat I had to help her to bed; the trip exhausted her. She asked me in a shaky voice "why is this happening to me?" All I could tell her was to get some rest and that she would feel better. A kiss from me on her forehead, "I love you mom" whispered into her ear, oxygen on, she fell asleep. That was my last time with Mom before she drifted off.

I love you Mom! I know you will finally have relief soon but I will miss you so much.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Turning off the Power Supply

Mom is not doing well (mentally) at all. Hospice put her into the hospital yesterday (Thursday August 2) for 5 days or longer for a mental evaluation and try some new things with medications. She is having a terrible time wanting to 'go home', she wants to see her mom and dad, she doesn't know who Dad is, she keeps saying she misses Hal (which is dad).

Earlier in the week Dad said Mom was really mad at my sister and me. The reason: Camille and I were there all day and we refused to help her clean up. Mom's day was spent cursing Camille and me and giving us the finger (even though we weren't there). She said she was through with us and would never give us another thing. That was Mom's reality that day. The truth: neither my sister or I had visited Mom that day.
Sad :*( for my Dad.
Mom had been hallucinating all day, thinking lots of other people had been in their house. Dad also said that he had never heard Mom use the profanity that she used that day. He hated to see her like that.

I visited with Mom on Wednesday. Dad had called me for "HELP" because he couldn't convince her that he was Hal, her husband. I wasn't sure what I would find when I got to their house but when I arrived Mom was dressed in very nice white slacks and a white knit top. She had on pretty dangly earrings and was sitting with her purse in her lap like she was waiting for someone to take her somewhere. But she had a frown on her face. I asked her where she wanted to go and she said she wanted to go home. She said she was mad at Dado (her father) for not coming to pick her up to take her home. To appease Mom I told her that Dado was out of town for a couple of days and she could see him when he returned (I didn't want to tell her that he died in 1974). She then asked "Who's Dado?"
HUH? I couldn't believe my ears.

((The person my mom has turned into ISN'T my mom))

So far this is her worst in this dementia journey.

Mom is now in the hosptial and although she agreed to go, she doesn't remember that she agreed to go. She is very angry.

Dad called me last night to tell me that Hospice wants the serial number from Mom's pacemaker/defibrilator, he said that they want to turn it off permanently. He was told that if Mom suffered a cardiac arrest that the machine would tear her up (his words).
Mom's heart is so weak that I can believe that.

Sooooo, I guess that no drastic measures will be taken should Mom have a heart attack. I'm so conflicted with different emotions and thoughts. I don't want my mom to "go" but the way she is living now is just existing....it's not living.

I don't know what our future holds, Mom could live a very long time; or not. Everything is uncertain at this point.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paradise for Mom


Mom on the beach, her favorite place to be. Not sure of the date but it would have to be before 2007.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

All I Can Say is OMG!!!

Last night was the night I go to my Alzheimers Support Group meeting. The meetings are the 2nd Wednesday of each month. My father and my aunt both normally attend also. We have been going to these meetings since 2007 and we have all learned a lot! In these meetings we discuss things like: how to talk to your loved one, how to come up with "theraputic lies" to maintain their dignity, what steps to take to prepare for their care, etc. These groups are like sacred ground...a place where you can feel safe to talk about your fears, your frustrations, cry, EVERYTHING!

Last night, for some reason my father decided he would bring Mom (THE DEMENTIA PATIENT) to the meeting! I was shocked, I broke out in a panic induced sweat. I suggested to both Mom and Dad that I would drive Mom home and stay with her while dad stayed at the meeting. Mom was insistant on staying and the whole situation was very awkward. and embarrassing. Dad finally agreed that he would leave and take Mom home, Mom was furious that she could not stay and cursed as she left. On top of all of that she blamed me for not being able to stay saying "Anne doesn't want me here". I was completely mortified. I felt the need to appologize to those who were in attendance but did not elaborate any further than that.

All day today now I am constantly trying to figure this out and the two theories that I have come up with are that (1) because Dad lives with Mom that he has accepted her demented reality as his reality, therefore not realizing just how demented she is or (2) that Dad, himself, is now demented.

Today I asked Dad if he understood how what he did last night was inappropriate. He said he could not understand why it was such a problem. I discussed with him the reason why it was inappropriate and he then said that he was not aware of those reasons and then he apologized for making a mistake. He still did not understand why it put me in a bad spot or why I was embarrassed.

OMG!!! Now what?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hosparus

I finally worked up the nerve to contact Hosparus today. It's been nearly a month that I've been wanting to call them but I just couldn't do it.

Their slogan is "Because the end of life is part of living". My stomach is churning thinking of it.

My dad, sister, myself, and even Mom are meeting with a Hosparus agent or nurse (not sure which she/he will be) this Sunday, May 6th, to begin in-home care for Mom.

Mom is continually going into congestive heart failure and it is wearing on her to keep having to go to the hospital. The hospital doesn't even admit her anylonger which, to me, means that there isn't really anything more they can do for her.
I've heard that Hosparus can come into her home to make her comfortable during her heart failure.

I'm experiencing all sorts of emotions about this meeting, including nausea. I am so nervous.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Super Quick Update

Mom has been losing a lot of weight because having food put in front of her makes her break out into a sweat and feel nauseaus. She looks gaunt. Her MS or diabetes is making her legs feel numb.
Her dementia is leaving her extremely angry, so angry that she walked out of her house the other day and was missing for a short period of time. So scary. She is still experiencing congestive heart failure on a biweekly or monthly basis for which she feels like she is drowning and cannot breathe.
At last nights support group meeting someone mentioned Hosparus as a recommendation for us to bring them in to make her comfortable at home rather than continuously taking her to the hospital for the times she experiences her congestive heart failure. Any personal advise from those of you who have experience with Hosparus? Would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chocolate Sauce recipe - A Favorite of Mom's


This recipe is an all time favorite of my mothers. She used to make this all the time when I was a child and a teenager; she would pour it over our ice cream. It is from an old recipe book of hers that I now have in my posession called "Custom Osterizer Recipes". This book was copyrighted in 1962 but I'm posting it anyway since it's 50 years old. The cost of this book at the time was $1 (unbelieveable). This book is in fragile condition, even has chocolate sauce stains, as you can see. Anyway, here is the delicious recipe!


Chocolate Sauce
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons hot milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Method: Put chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a 1/2-pint OSTERIZER jar. Add the hot milk. Use processing blades without the rubber gasket. Process at Hi Speed until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).
Yield: 1 cup

I hope you will give it a try then come back to my website to comment on how you liked it!
!!ENJOY!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Background Information on Mom


Mom is 74. Up until she was diagnosed with heart disease Mom was a heavy smoker. At the age of 40 she was diagnosed with severe coronary artery heart disease and she underwent her first double bypass open heart surgery. Six months later her bypasses failed and had to undergo another double bypass. We were told she would not live to the age of 42 and Hospice was brought in. Needless to say Mom lived beyond her given lifespan. In 1994 she had her third bypass, this time a triple. It was a risky surgery, we all said our good-byes to her before she was taken back to the operating room because we knew the odds were not in her favor. Mom actually died on the operating table and was brought back with the shock paddles.
Over the years she had several angioplasies and received a stent or two.

Since all of this Mom also was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, a host of other smaller but difficult ailments, and now dementia. She also has an inoperable leak in one of her main heart valves (I can't remember the medical term for this) which requires her to be on oxygen. Because of all of these medical conditions the typical medication used to treat symptoms of dementia are no good for her.

My parents still love each other deeply. My father stayed by my mothers side through it all, never once having an itch to leave. A true love story. Much of the time throughout Mom's illnesses my father was a single father. Mom was in the hospital for months on end.

My father is struggling so, losing his bride of over 50 years this way. He still doesn't believe it and (I think) has adjusted his reality much of the time to hers, believeing that her truth IS the truth. To my sister and me it is frustrating but apparently it is his way of coping. I cannot imagine his pain and grief. My sister and I are in pain and grieving too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Misc. Thoughts and Facebook

I saw Mom on Monday and she was in such a good mood. Full of smiles and hugs.

On Tuesday morning Mom called and said she hadn't seen or talked to me in a while and wanted to check in to see how I and my family were doing. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had seen her less than 24 hours ago. Instead I went along with her reality and told her a theraputic lie. I told her that I was sorry I hadn't been around, that David and I had been very busy with our kids schedules with their spring sports. In all honesty though, that really wasn't a lie.....the kids spring sports are now in full swing.

Wednesday afternoon I received the same call from Mom, again saying that she hadn't seen or talked to me in what seemed like several weeks.

Yesterday (Thursday) I talked to my sister. She told me that Mom had called her on Wednesday to invite her to lunch at 11:30. Camille went to the deli where they agreed to meet (Mom's caregiver would have taken her over). Camille said she waited and waited and Mom with her caregiver never showed up. Camille said she tried calling Mom at home and on Mom's cell phone but no one answered either phone.

Apparently Mom's caregiver had not been informed of the lunch date plans that Mom set up with Camille. Later that day Camille mentioned it to Dad. Dad said Mom had no memory of even talking to Camille.
~sigh~

I have started a fan page on Facebook because I have had over 4000 views on my blog which I find incredible! My writing is what has saved me from the stress of the disease, dementia, that has taken over my mother. I have learned a lot from reading and attending support groups. My blog isn't really about dementia, the disease, it's mostly my random thoughts about my mom living with the disease, my family, and a few tidbits of advise for those reading. Another thing I have discovered to help me get through is to help others by sharing all that I have learned along the way. Take a look at my page by copying this link to your web browser and if it interests you then please "LIKE" it and feel free to post anything relative to dementia and Alzheimers disease. Also, share it with anyone else with whom you think might benefit.

The link is here.... https://www.facebook.com/DealingWithDementia ......or you can click on the link on the right-hand side of this page by scrolling down to where it says "My Facebook Fan Page" under "LINKS".

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Learning Curve for How to Pay for Nursing Home Care

A Facebook friend of mine posted a thought today. She asked the question "how does anyone afford nursing home care?".

I was so happy that I actually knew the answer!! I was so happy to give her the answer because I didn't know myself until a couple of months ago. I was so completely stressed out and overwhelmed by that same question. How on earth would my parents have enough money for nursing home care should the time come that my mother would need it permanently? Well, my question was answered when my sister and I had an appointment with an elder law attorney back in January.

Our elder care attorney answered all of our questions!

If I can give anyone going through this process of caring for someone with this disease any one tidbit of very important advise it would be to GO TO AN ELDER CARE ATTORNEY!! Since then, I have felt that a tremendous weight has been lifted off of me. I know what steps are left to take, I know that my mom will be taken care of, and I know that I will be able to sleep at night without worry.

We found out that in order for Mom to go into the nursing home permanently we have to spend all of HER money. Her money will pay the nursing home. Once ALL of her money is gone then she can go on Medicaid and that will pay for her to stay at the nursing home. And fortunately, Dad will still have money to live on, to keep their patio home, to keep one car.

~PLEASE MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT TODAY WITH AN ELDER CARE ATTORNEY~ Don't be afraid to take notes, don't be afraid to ask questions. This is all very important information and it will help all the way around!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Am I Different?

I've read blogs written by strangers, blogs they have written about their loved one with alzheimers or dementia. Their writings talk of having more love, feeling more love, feeling that their loved one is their hero, a whole new admiration for their loved one with dementia. I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because these writings move me. But mostly I get the lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes because I DON'T feel that way about my mother. Why am I different than the strangers whose writings I read? I don't feel more love or that my mother is my hero (at least not in the way the 'strangers' write); what I feel is sadness, anger, frustration, resentment, guilt, hopelessness, dismay, annoyed. Everything I'm feeling is negative. I've gotten to a point where I don't want to talk to my mom on the phone and I don't want to see her very often. Why do I feel this way? I know it isn't because I don't love my mother any less than I ever have. I love my mother the same that I always have....I love her a lot.


This is upsetting to me. Before Mom's dementia got too bad I talked with her on the phone daily, saw her several times during the week, and we'd meet out for lunch regularly. I really enjoyed the time I spent with Mom and our talks on the phone. I truly considered Mom one of my very dear friends in addition to being my mother. I loved calling her for advise, she could always give the best. I really miss those times. This disease has made my mother an angry person, a person that I no longer know. Maybe I'm afraid of her, afraid to be around her?


Now when I talk to Mom her conversations always revolve around being sick; Dad being sick; Dad leaving her stranded somewhere unknown; Dad refusing to "take me home" (when she IS at home but she doesn't know it); being left with her father (who died in 1974); Dad leaving her with a strange man (who is actually my dad). There is rarely any conversation with her that is in the present day. Phone calls and visits feel very stressful to me.


I miss the relationship I had with Mom. I miss it terribly. I go to a support group for advise and to learn but they don't help me feel the "love" that I think I'm missing or the admiration I once had for her.


I have a family of my own. I'm married with two children. I love them more than my own life. But part of me feels hollow, I guess, because my mother is still 'here' physically but her 'real-self' is gone. That is the only way I can think of to define this situation. I do have some great female mentors in my life and I love them very much....my mom's sister Margaret, my mother-in-law Rose. I lean on each of them a lot with different things but the bottom line is that they aren't Mom.


I AM around to help my parents, both of them, when they need help. I AM around to help take care of some of their 'business' when it's needed. But it's so difficult for me to go for a casual visit. It's almost more than I can bare. I am on edge because of the unknown with Mom, not knowing what she will say, what story will she "make up", will she be angry. Frankly, for me, it is exhausting.


Dad, if you read this I'm so sorry for feeling this way. I'm really struggling to work through this on top of everything else and still stay focused enough to raise my own kids and keep my relationship with my husband in tact.


Still, wondering why I'm so different than those strangers. I hope my feelings will change before it is too late. I love both of my parents so much. I am so confused.



This picture is Mom helping me down the slide in our backyard. I remember this moment, somehow, like it was yesterday. I wonder if Mom does? (circa 1969)



Too Much Sleep?

My sister emailed this to me this afternoon. It's from the website called Caring.com. This is all too familiar with my mother.


Alzheimer's Symptom: Sleeps a lot during the day

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Caring.com Staff
When it happens: Severe-stage dementia

Why it happens: If your loved one's sleep-wake cycle doesn't seem too disrupted -- that is, he or she also sleeps at night -- this daytime sleep is likely a function of the toll that the disease is taking (along with other chronic illnesses, if they're present). It may not be sleep at all, but a resting state. Other medical causes can include depression, medication side effects, or another health issue.

What you can do:

1. Be sure to mention a noticeable increase in sleep to your loved one's doctor in case it's a sign of something correctible, such as a medication.

2. Don't just give up. It can be hard to communicate with, or know what to say to, a person who seems pretty much sacked-out and unresponsive. But your presence is felt and probably appreciated, so you don't want to leave the person alone constantly. You may also be needed.

3. Still, don't feel you must be a 24-hour entertainment channel, either. The resting is biologically necessary.

4. Stop talking when the person seems to shut down, and casually pick up talking when your loved one seems alert again.

5. If you're concerned about your loved one oversleeping or "zoning out" in the middle of a conversation or activity, try gently rubbing his or her hand. This gentle stimulation may be just rousing enough.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Week Is This?

I received a very anxious, upset phone call from my mom late afternoon yesterday. She told me that she wanted me to know that Dad was in hospital in a lot of pain, very sick, and not doing well. The tone in her voice made it sound as if Dad was on his deathbed.

Back up to this time last week (Monday), Dad WAS taken to the hospital because of pretty serious swelling in both his legs. Turns out he was admitted for 3 days due to weak kidneys which caused the swelling. Medications were moved around and 'redone' for him and he was sent home on Thursday.

Now back to yesterdays phone call from Mom....I asked her if he was in the hospital right that very moment. "YES" she said.

Me: Who took Dad to the hospital?

Mom: Diane and me. (Diane is Mom's caregiver)

Me: Which hospital did you take him to?

Mom: Baptist East. Wait a minute....Diane, which hospital is Hal in?

((I hear Diane in the background say)): "he's in bed, asleep."

Mom: OH.....((long pause)).....well, I just wanted you to know that your dad isn't doing well.

I explained to Mom that I knew he didn't feel well and that his legs hurt. I also explained that he HAD been in the hospital the week before and that was probably what she was remembering and that everything was going to be okay. I told her to please not worry or be upset, that Dad was just taking a nap trying to 'live' through the pain he was in.

That phone call was such an awkward experience for me and by Mom's reaction after Diane mentioned that Dad was asleep in bed that it was just as awkward for Mom.

At the end of our conversation Mom said in tone that seemed to be filled with shame and embarrassment "well, I'm obviously very confused.".

My poor mother. I cannot imagine living in the fear that she must be in constantly.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Struggles

Haven't written in a few weeks, really not much to report. My sister and I met with an elderlaw attorney, once with Dad (and he brought Mom along). We were able to get some things straightened out which helps me feel less stressed.

Mom called last night leaving a message on our answering machine saying she was with "Dado" (her father) at his house and was going to stay with him all night because he wasn't feeling well. In fact, she was with Dad. Dado passed away in 1974.

I don't think I'm in a good spot now. I have been avoiding as much contact with my parents as possible. I know that is not good but I've let so much of what is going on with THEM effect me and things with MY OWN family and it wasn't fair to my kids. I was giving up so much time with my kids and I was growing resentful. However, I still have so much guilt by the avoidence. So.....I guess I am a work in process with all of this, even after all these years of dealing with Mom's dementia. This disease has changed my family so much in such a bad way. I honestly don't know how this disease doesn't effect every family the way it has effected mine. How do other families do it?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Life Isn't Always Fair

My Mother: a woman who faught so incredibly hard to overcome heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, gall bladder removal, and so many other ailments along the way.

Against ALL of the odds, against every doctors prognosis, my mother faught so incredibly hard and succeeded to live long enough to see her daughters graduate middle school, to graduate high school, to graduate college, marry the loves of their lives, and to see the births of 4 of her grandchildren.

Why on earth would she later be diagnosed with dementia, the disease that will eventually ROB her of all the memories she faught so hard to live to see? WHY?
I ask myself this question daily and it absolutely breaks my heart.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sweet and Beautiful

I love this print. My mother purchased this print back in the early 1970's when my sister and I were young. This print made mom think of herself as a young mother with her two young daughters, Camille and me. Last year Camille and I put it in the estate sale after our parents moved out of their home. It had been in storage in their basement for seveal years, the frame was old and the glass was broken. When it didn't sell at the estate sale I decided to take it. I took it out of it's old frame and put it in a new, prettier frame and it now hangs in my home. I am so glad that I have it because now it will always remind me of Mom and how much she loved (loves) Camille and me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Live Life to the Fullest and Keep a Sense of Humor!

The photo above of the folks white water rafting is a perfect example of how Mom always lived HER life to the fullest that she could. Mom is in that raft along with my father and my 80+ year old grandfather. The three of them had taken a cruise to Alaska. All her life Mom had always wanted to go white water rafting. I wish I could figure out how to make that picture appear larger so those of you reading this can see the wonderful smile on her face. Mom's placement in this picture is toward the center, there is what appears to be a little white mark to the right of her head...it's actually the word "Mom". The same with my father and grandfather but they are located toward the back of the raft. I love seeing those smiling faces. I have this picture framed and it sits on the mantle over my fireplace.
This post has taken me some time to compose in my head and several days to type and save. I've been going over the past 33 years remembering all of the 'landmarks' of my mothers illness(es). When I was 12 years old Mom was 40. Mom underwent her first of 3 open-heart bypass surgeries. Just a short few months later she underwent her second open-heart bypass because the bypasses from her first surgery had already failed. We were told that Mom would not live to the age of 42. The way I remember this period in my life was, there always seemed to be a constant buzz in our home (when Mom was home from the hospital) of Hospice care in our house. We were preparing for the worst with Mom. She wasn't home very often; seemed that she had a permanent room at Baptist Hospital East. I believe every person on the medical staff there knew or knew of my mother. 42 came and went for my mother....her first of many goals to prove her doctors wrong. All along Mom faught HARD to stay alive.
To this day I remember Mom walking up and down the hallway in our home, very slowly due to the pain of having open heart surgery, shouting "¡Andale! ¡Andale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!" as Speedy Gonzales would shout in the cartoon. Mom NEVER lost her sense of humor or will to live. Very rarely did my sister or I ever see her in a weak moment.
All of these events were BEFORE Mom's dementia diagnosis. Thankfully Mom did a LOT of living before this most devestating diagnosis....lots of travel, lots of fun, lots of family time, lots of laughter. I really miss those times.