WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS A TON OF PHOTOS AND IS SUPER LONG!
This was about half-way through my run yesterday. I had to stop by and visit my mom at St. Mary’s Cemetery. It hurt. I bawled my eyes out and that felt good. Really good.
As I think about my mom today, I am going to share some random thoughts and lots of pictures from the past year.
First, my random thoughts:
My mom has been gone for a little over a month.
Her birthday is in three days.
I miss her SO MUCH. More than I thought.
I have been eating (and hiding my eating) through most of the pain…donuts from Casey’s convenience store, Snickers, Doritos and cheese, Hostess chocolate covered mini donuts, Little Debbie zebra cakes, M&M’s, any and all treats left on the break room table at work (even if I really don’t like them), candy from the candy bucket at work, cheese popcorn, caramel popcorn, string cheese and so much more.
I hate that I have been eating through the grief, but it’s the only thing that makes me feel better. Thank goodness for exercise.
I didn’t think it would be this hard.
I sometimes wish I wasn’t as close to her as I was. At the same time, I am so thankful we had such a close relationship. But it makes it hurt that much more.
I love looking at pictures of her. Of pictures of her and I together. I love her so much!
This was taken February 19, 2016. When things were “normal.”
On April 10, 2016, my mom was taken to the ER by ambulance. Her world fell apart. We truly will never know what happened or what pushed her over the edge. We have an inkling that it was my dad and his deteriorating health. His Alzheimer’s had gotten a lot worse and my mom, who I believe was in denial, couldn’t take it anymore. She started taking sleep aids. She started taking lots of Tylenol. She actually started taking LOTS of pills. We will never really know how or why she went from completely normal to not anywhere close to normal. Was it the pills? Was it my dad? Was it just her? Who knows? She was paranoid. She used language she never ever, ever used. She got angry. VERY angry. She saw things. She hollered loudly. She hit. She was accusatory. She smoked…A LOT. She couldn’t remember things. She posted weird things on Facebook. She was in a completely different world.
This was the text I received on April 10, 2016 from a staff member at Windmill Ponds about my mom. She was taken to the ER shortly after that.
After a few days in the hospital, she was then transferred to the behavioral health unit (BHU) in Onamia and our world would never be the same again. That was on April 14, 2016. It was awful. Horrible. And something I will never forget.
This is from the paperwork that the doctors filled out from the BHU in Onamia. “I am here because I am crazy” is what my mom actually told the doctors at the geriatric mental health hospital as to why she was there.
I remember reading through all the paperwork. It was heartbreaking. It wasn’t my mom. It was definitely the disease. And the disease was Dementia. We finally had an answer as to what was wrong with my mom, although like I said before, we will never know why or what it was that brought it on so quickly.
My dad and I celebrated my mom’s birthday (April 26) without her. She was still in Onamia.
Here’s a quick, brief look at my dad’s journey:
On April 20, 2016, we moved my dad to Edgewood Vista, to the memory care unit. At that point, we had no idea what was going to happen with mom. All we knew was that dad could no longer live at Windmill Ponds by himself. We had moved my parents from Glenwood to Alexandria in September of 2011 and they lived at Woodhill Apartments. In July of 2015, after my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, we moved them to Windmill Ponds. Not even a year later (April 2016), they moved again – to separate locations. My dad lived at Edgewood Vista from April 20, 2016 until January 27, 2017 when he had a short stay in the hospital. He got out January 23 and was moved to St. Williams nursing home in Parkers Prairie. On March 7, 2017, dad was transferred to a behavioral health unit. He went to the one in Staples. There was no way in hell I would let him go to the one my mom was at in Onamia. That was a horrible place. On March 22, dad went to the ER in Staples because he was not doing very well. He ended up with pneumonia and honestly, we thought we were going to planning another funeral. But he pulled through and was then transferred back to the BHU in Staples, which was March 28. Then, it was time for one more move for dad. On April 6, he moved to Salmons Place Senior Care, which he remains today. This is the place where my mother eventually ended up.
And now, back to my mom.
This was taken on Mother’s Day (May 8, 2016). My mom was still in the BHU in Onamia. This was the first time we got to see her after she was transferred there.
My sister, Karen, and I with our mom.
We will never forget that day. When Karen and I left, we hugged each other as soon as got outside and both of us completely broke down. The smiles on our faces in that picture were completely forced. It was a horrible day. The next day, Karen reported the hospital to the state. Our mother had bruises where she shouldn’t have bruises. Big bruises. More than the normal “old person” bruises. There was one particular staff person who treated our mother horribly and right in front of us. Seriously, it was awful.
This picture was taken May 16, 2016. It was my mom’s new home.
We found out that mom was going to be released and after somewhat of a struggle, we finally found a place for her to live…the best place ever. Salmons Place Senior Care – a foster care home for adults. She moved into the home, which is between Alexandria and Nelson, on May 18, 2016. Seriously, it was the best place for her and if you noticed, it is now where my dad is living. I couldn’t be more happy about that.
And this was taken shortly after my mom moved to Salmons. She was in her element. Music was her life. She loved to sing and play guitar and she did plenty of it when living at Salmons. It made her happy. It made me happy.
This was taken June 3, 2016. One of my favorite pictures of the two of us.
My mom spent a lot of time walking around outside at Salmons and decided she needed a sunhat. I bought her this and took this picture on June 10, 2016.
My mom’s niece, Peggy, would send Dairy Queen gift cards to my mom and I would pick my mom up and bring her there and we would get treats for everyone. She loved her Dilly Bars! This was taken on June 13, 2016.
On June 18, 2016, my mom and dad were finally reunited. Not to live together, but for a visit.
I will never forget that day. It was the most beautiful reunion of two people ever. My parents had the most loving marriage. It tore me up inside how their marriage ended. I honestly believed that they would live together until they were both super old and die together, in bed, like how the couple in the movie, The Notebook died. I didn’t think they would forcibly get separated because of health issues and have to live apart from one another and only get to visit every now and then. It tore my mom up, too. I will never forget one of their last visits. As she was sobbing, she said to me, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. This isn’t what it is supposed to be like.” I couldn’t have agreed more with her. It sucked and broke my heart as much as it broke hers.
This was a Facebook post from my son, Brandon, on July 7, 2016. I love how much he loved/loves his grandparents. And he was so right, they had a never-ending love for each other.
This was taken on July 13, 2016. I found my mom’s Bible and returned it to her. My mom loved being Catholic and was very religious. She loved her faith. She loved God. And I know she is enjoying her time with Him now.
Al and I made supper for my mom and dad to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary. This was the last anniversary they would celebrate together. This was on their actual anniversary, which was July 22.
This was taken August 25, 2016. They were enjoying watching one of their favorite television shows, Wheel of Fortune. This was at dad’s room at Edgewood Vista.
This was taken September 26, 2016. It is one of my favorite photos of my mom. I loved her smile. It was contagious. And her eyes always twinkled/sparkled. And just like her pajamas stated, she was definitely #1 in my eyes.
This was taken October 19, 2016. My mom had really started to retain fluid and her face was really starting to show the puffiness. This is another one of my favorites.
My mom spent a lot of time in her chair. This was taken on November 8, 2016. Brandon was reading some of his favorite passages from the Bible app he had on his phone. My mom just loved it. And so did I.
This was taken on Thanksgiving Day last year, November 24.
My mom and my dad were both doing really well at this point. This was the last Thanksgiving I spent with both my parents. And honestly, it will probably remain the last one as I truly don’t believe my dad will make it until this year’s Thanksgiving. And no, I am not being a pessimist about it. I am being a realist. We know he is in the last stages of the disease and honestly, he could go at anytime. That’s the reality of it.
This was taken on December 10, 2016 in the emergency room at the Douglas County Hospital. Oh, that smile! It melts my heart.
This was the start of my mom’s last few months. She broke six ribs. Nothing was the same after that and she spent quite a bit of time in and out of the ER and even had a couple of hospital stays. But nearly every single time, she was smiley, happy (for the most part) and super friendly to all the doctors, nurses and all other staff members at the hospital. Truly, she was a model patient. She sang to them. Flirted with some of them. She made them laugh, which truly was her mission. She loved to make people happy.
This was taken December 15, 2016…in the hospital. She was thoroughly enjoying her ice cream.
Christmas Day 2016. My last Christmas with my mom. Yes, my heart is breaking just thinking about it.
This was taken December 29, 2016 and was the last time I brought my mom and dad together.
It was probably their last “good” visit with each other. They did see each other after my dad moved to Parkers, but my brother brought them together and I am not sure it was the best visit. My dad was not in a good state of mind then and I know it was really hard on my mom. This is one of my favorite pictures of them. The look they have on their faces, to me, is pure happiness and love. They loved each other SO MUCH.
This was taken February 14, 2017 – Valentine’s Day. My mom was not looking the best and was back to retaining fluid. A lot of fluid!
This was taken just a few days later, on February 18. She was having a great day and looked so beautiful that day.
Oh what a haircut can do for a person! This was taken just a few days later, on February 21.
I brought my mom to Bombshells Salon to see the fabulous Becky. My mom had a manicure and got a haircut. It was a spur of the moment appointment, but I am so glad I did this for her. She LOVED it. And so did I. To see her that happy made my heart happy. It was one of the last really enjoyable, memorable moments I had with my mom. I will treasure it always.
This was taken exactly a week later, on February 28. Mom ended up in the hospital. It would be her last time there.
This was taken the day she was released from the hospital, on March 4.
All she wanted to do was go “home” to Salmons and she couldn’t have been happier. I remember that morning so well. She was barely staying awake, couldn’t eat anything because she kept throwing up. The doctor came in that morning and asked her if she wanted to go home and mom perked right up. For the next three hours, she was wide awake and just kept watching the clock, waiting until she could be released. She got back to Salmons and ate a piece of apple pie. Then for supper, she ate a fish sandwich and French fries from McDonald’s. She didn’t have any issues whatsoever. She was happy. And she was on Hospice.
Mom went downhill super fast. This was taken on March 9. Kathy from St. Mary’s Catholic Church brought my mom communion. It was her last communion.
This was taken March 10, the day before she died.
The eight days she was on Hospice, living at Salmons, I spent as much time as I possibly could with her. Truly, I didn’t want to leave her side. My mom was my everything. I don’t regret any of the time I spent with her. I don’t regret taking off as much work as I did. I needed to be with her. I wanted to be with her. I loved her with all my heart and although those last days were hard, watching her die, listening to her struggle to breathe, I wouldn’t trade it for nothing.
I miss her more than I ever thought I would. It hurts more than I thought I would. It sucks way more than I thought it would.
I know it will get easier and easier. I know tons of people have gone through this very same thing. I get that. And as much as I wish it made it easier, it doesn’t. There are times I feel so alone. But I know I am not. It’s just the way I feel. It’s why I eat. To make the hurt go away, if even for a brief moment.
Everyone grieves differently. Everyone hurts differently. Everyone does things differently.
I don’t necessarily think there is a right or wrong way to grieve. I am not sure I have actually taken the time to grieve, with everything that has gone on with my dad since my mom’s death. Honestly, I am not sure I will ever be done grieving. I don’t think anyone does, do they?
The hurt will lessen. My heart will mend. There will be – or should I say there is – a new normal. I don’t necessarily like it, but I accept it. My mom will forever be a part of me. She will live on forever in my heart. In my mind. In my soul.
I am not sure where I got this, but I love it.
My silly momma! I love you.