My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bed Alarms, Food and The Burning Bus

I wanted to write another post to get you all up to date but I'm so tired that it's hard to write intelligent words in sentence and paragraph form. My thoughts are more like... bed alarm... food... sleep...

Mom is not strong enough to stand up without help. We have a wheel chair for her and a bedside commode that reduce the distance she ever has to walk. However, she also is mostly out of it so she will stand up for random, unknown reasons and try to get wherever she thinks she needs to go whether or not we're there to help. After a fall the other night, hospice provided us with a bed alarm, I refer to it as the "tattle tale". It's helpful in that it will allow us to sleep nearby or go in another room and know if she's trying to get up. The downside is that the bed alarm goes off all the time because she's trying to get up.

Our wonderful hospice nurse explained it as "terminal agitation". People who are in pain, nearing the end of their life will get random bursts of adrenaline that allows them to be much stronger than their physical condition should allow. Trust me, I am probably double my mom's weight at this point and if she's determined to get up, I cannot keep her from getting up. Last night it was because she was on a bus that was on fire. I am not sure when the bus caught on fire because when Angie was sitting with her earlier yesterday, it was just a plain old bus, not a burning bus. In my sleep deprived, pain addled brain I kept turning the burning bus into a burning bush and trying to make some biblical connection. It wasn't a bush though, it was a bus.

This is all sweet/sad/exhausting at the same time. We're so grateful for these last glimpses of her imagination and creativity and personality. We're grateful for every tiresome, exhausting minute. My dad has the worst of it because he is with her the most. I try to be there to help as much as I can but the harsh reality is that my back didn't miraculously become healed because my mom got sick. I've supported her tiny body far more times in the past week or so than my fragile spine can handle. I'm in a world of pain... there are times when I just literally canNOT function any longer.

There are also times that it becomes mentally draining. She gets stuck in a loop where she will repeat the same thing over and over and over again. We try to reassure her... like this evening when she was SURE that Pop was giving her the wrong thing to drink. No matter how many times we assured her that all that was in her cup was water, she kept telling us it was the wrong drink. The other day she stood facing the bedside commode for ten minutes answering the imaginary phone and trying to get me to come to the phone. I kept telling her I had it that she could go sit down. Eventually I think she just gets worn out.

She does sleep. Lots, thank Heaven. She's on a pretty stiff cocktail of medications that make her lethargic. As much as we enjoy these last glimpses of her personality, we also enjoy the quiet moments where we're not having to convince her to sit back down every thirty seconds.

We've had a lot of visitors, both friends and family and medical personnel. There's a knock at the door many, many times a day setting Oscar the dachshund off in his deafening barking alarm. We're grateful for the love she has been shown and the wonderful medical care she's receiving. We're also quite grateful for the many, many amazing meals that have been brought for us by the ladies from the church. We are eatin' good lately. Pop and I will have to go on a crash diet once this is all over. Honestly, I may just hibernate like a bear for six months or so, live off the fat of the land for a bit. It seems like every food delivery comes with batch of brownies. I've sampled so many different variations of brownies, each better than the last... that I could write a brownie cookbook. (not complaining, keep them coming!) It has helped so much to not have to think about what we're eating for dinner... or lunch... or breakfast.

As an introvert the constant parade of folks does wear on me. I'd never turn away a single one because it would be selfish to not allow people to pay their respects to her for both her sake and theirs. I do occasionally disappear to my space to recharge my batteries a little bit. People who come here are sad for her and for us. It's an obviously difficult time and her appearance has changed as she has lost so much weight. I recognize the shock in peoples' eyes. I'm sad for them, I grieve with each and every one even if I can't allow myself the luxury of tears right now. There is too much to be done. Crying triggers migraines for me. I have to pace myself. There will be a lot of time for tears soon enough.

Pop and Bubba (does that sound redneck enough?) went down to the funeral home the other day to make her final arrangements. She will have a viewing and then a funeral service and then be cremated. The only thing we weren't sure about was whether to purchase a plot for the inurnment (putting the cremated remains in the ground) or if we would keep/scatter her ashes. I'm on Team Scatter. I don't see a point of a fixed spot in some sad cemetery. We are her living legacy and we will all continue to go out into the world honoring her far more than a piece of ground with some plastic flowers. I'm also not a fan of the whole viewing process. I can't stand when people say, "doesn't she look natural?" Nope. Not at all. She looks dead. I don't want to see her dead but I'm sure I will have to as I'm sure I'll be here when she goes. My favorite funeral flowers ever were in the shape of a phone with the words, "Jesus called and Mawmaw answered". Too morbid?

So I guess that's about it. My brother from New York will be here this weekend with his wife and baby. We're giving Oliver a small birthday party here on Saturday. There will be a bunch of us here and we have to eat and the babies always made mama so happy. She always worked in the nursery at church and ran an in home daycare. Then in her empty nest days she volunteered at the hospital with newborns. Having a party in the midst of all this may seem weird to some but it makes sense for us.

The days tick by and we just keep doing what needs to be done. We will do what needs to be done until it doesn't need to be done any more. Austin's still looking for a job. He's been helpful and it's been a relief not to have to take him to work and pick him up every day. I think that twice a day commute would have done me in. God's timing is perfect. He spent today getting my back porch cleaned up so Finn (my nephew) could play out there without hazards that Cosy is used to ignoring... but Finn may not be. We also set up a section of my living room as a play room and got the toys organized. It's my little happy spot for when the house feels too dark and sad.

Time for me to catch some sleep so I can sit with mom in the early morning while pop does his devotional. I'll try to keep y'all up to date. Thanks for your kind words and prayers and love. I feel each and every one of you holding me up, holding me together. Love and hugs back to you!


Unknown said...


Natalie said...

Thanks for the update. My prayers are with you daily...I'm asking God to revive you emotionally and physically and to give you new mercies each morning. MY heart hurts with you; I love you, friend.

Melanie Harris Simmons said...

You are so brave and smart in the face of this reality. Prayers for your continued strength for your family as well. Please tell Jim and Norma I am praying for them. I agree with the scatter team - place her ashes somewhere she loved. Many prayers for all of you - much love Melanie Harris Simmons.

Unknown said...

Sweetheart. I cried through the whole post. I'm watching it happen too. I'll be up there next weekend if there's anything I can help with. I love you.

Mary McHone Brown said...

Thinking of you and your parents ~ the process of dying is so hard on the living. Doug's mother would ask the same questions over and over and over again. We would just politely answer each time. It's all you can do. *hugs*

Pat Marshall said...

Thanks for the update, Heather. Praying God gives you and Jim the strength to minister to Norma at this time. Riverdale First is praying for the family and ask for updates. God be with you - Pat Marshall

Rose S. said...

Still sending white light and love to you and your family. Prayers for your mom.

God be with you all at this most difficult time. And he is.


Unknown said...

Hi. So I was on IG looking at food posts because I help people with healthy eating and that's how I connect to new potential clients. I happened across one of your posts and recognized you. After clicking, i realized how and that you were Ryan's Mom. You may not remember me, but I wanted to reach out and say how sorry I am about your mom. She was always so sweet. I had to watch my own grandmother suffer before she passed and I know that it isn't easy. Sending many prayers to your family. - Ashley
Also, your gbabies are adorable.