Holiday Magic While Thinking of My Demented Mom

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It’s December 28, 2014, a few days after the first Christmas without my Mom, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, reflecting, thinking and reflecting. Looking through papers and things of hers, if only to feel closer to her during the holidays…especially this holiday.

So, yesterday, the Saturday after Xmas, I’ve finished my errands outside of the house, I’m home and had decided to straighten up things that have been on my list for a long time. Cleaning up stacks of paperwork that have been begging to be organized and filed for ages, put away the wrapping paper, bows, tissue paper and ribbons, clean the birds, wash the dog, vacuum the floor, clean the bathroom…all those things that you really must do, but really don’t want to do, uh-huh!

So, as I am going along, one thing leads to another and I made the decision to bring my mother’s end table into my bedroom. I had bought it for her when she first decided to come live with me and I liked it very much. Now of course, it just reminds me of her when I look at it. It needs to be refinished as she had ruined the surface during her OCD days, but I will do that in the springtime. I brought the table into my room and started making a few changes, cleaning around, moving things from here to there. It was kind of nice, a quiet time in my weekend, almost like getting myself re-grounded after a hard year. As a kid, I had always felt like a new person after moving the furniture around in my bedroom, which is what yesterday was feeling like to me. Some people need to go out and spend money…I move furniture!

As I was going through the motions, I came across a box of jewelry that Mom had sent to me before she moved here. It wasn’t expensive jewelry, mostly costume from the 60’s & 70’s, but I had remembered some it from when I was younger. I had looked through it back when she had sent it, but didn’t pay much attention, which seems to be my MO. I always feel funny in a situation like that. I know darn well she sent those things to me because she was thinking of death and dying as older people eventually do…but I don’t feel the right to it until later, afterwards, so I ignore it. Well, yesterday, I paid more attention, looking at each piece carefully. I came across many little pieces that I remember her wearing to her job and a few things that I didn’t remember.

Then, there was one thing that stood out, a very tarnished silver ID bracelet with her name on it. Instantly, it brought me back to a story that she told me a few years ago, when she still had a memory and could articulate it, before the dementia had taken over her mind. As the story goes…when her and her sister Lillian were just kids, a new Pastor came to their church, St. Andrews. Apparently Lillian had quite a crush on this good-looking Pastor, but it was just a schoolgirl crush and maybe the pastor knew about it or maybe not. We’ll never know the answer to that.

One Sunday, after Sunday school, the Pastor gave my mother a little ID bracelet and poor Lillian was so hurt by it. She felt awful and so did my Mother. Mom didn’t have a crush on the Pastor, she was 5 years younger than her sister and probably wasn’t interested in any boys at that point. Lillian eventually got over it, grew up, got married and had 4 beautiful children…so what was meant to be, indeed happened.

ID_bracelet Photos Above: (1) Eleanor Sarter and Sister Lillian with Freda, her Aunt, (2) Lillian and Eleanor, Right: (3) ID Bracelet from Pastor.

Getting back to the ID bracelet, the instant that I saw it, read her given name on it, the story that she had told me a few years earlier came flooding back to me. I wished that I could have made the connection before now and was able to show her. I’m sure that she didn’t even remember that she had sent it to me in the first place. Sometimes I think that she leads me to find things to make a connection to it’s meaning…from wherever she is…not so far-fetched. Stranger things have happened, which is another story for another time as this was not the first time this has happened since she left us.


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Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Acute Leukemia…What Next?

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Pictured above (1)  A young Mom with a very young me. (2) Older sister Lillian and very young Mom looking very cute with her blonde hair!
Makes you wonder how a person can from there to where we are now.

It’s been a month since I posted last. It’s been a very active month for us after the out-of-left-field, ambush diagnosis of acute leukemia and I’m actually still processing and adjusting to the inevitable. After the diagnosis, things seemed status quo while Shad was visiting. I began to feel that they must have mis-diagnosed her. She was still walking around and looking out the window during the day, still eating her 3 meals a day with in-between snacks, still stubborn, still interested in life.

Then, little by little her mobility started declining. She was getting up less during the day, not as interested in what was going on outside the house or around her, her appetite was dwindling off and was having problems swallowing. It was very obvious that something was happening. She was agitated more than usual, started to feel frightened, especially at night. She also started getting night sweats and became very panicked and scared in the night time hours. One night I slept at the end of her bed so that she couldn’t get up and wander around the house in fear of her falling.

All this happened little by little, but here we are at the end of September and she can no longer stand up or get out of bed. Some days she eats nothing at all. She is still taking fluids although it’s not much to speak about. She sleeps rarely, like she is in a complete manic phase which effects everyone in the house. I’m not at all sure what meds she’s taking now are working for her. I actually think that one of the new meds are having an opposite effect on her.

She’s afraid to be alone and has stated very clearly that she is dying but when asked, she can’t explain why she feels that way…she just senses it, I guess. She said she has seen people and we all know what that means. They are waiting for her on the other side. I can only imagine how frightened that she must be. With the effects of dementia and Parkinson’s disease which makes her not in her right head anyway, and the speed of which she is losing the other abilities in her life due to acute leukemia, she must feel horrified of what is to come next…

and there is nothing that we can do other than to be with her, hold her hand and comfort her until the end.

What else can anyone do at a time like this? We all do the best we can.

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