Mom and her girls (some of them)

Mom and her girls (some of them)
Belinda, Angie, Mom and Me (Becs)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Momma's Journey Home

Today (January 26, 2010) at 1:25 pm, our loving momma left on a journey that she could only take with Jesus. She left this world and is now safe, whole and healed with a clear mind and perfect body. The angels are rejoicing at her arrival and she is dancing and singing with my dad and sister who have been waiting for her for several years now.

It is a hard thing to release your parents to leave you when your whole heart wants to say, "Noooooo, stay with me!!!" But after 84 years of a wonderful life, she was ready to go home.

Momma has had Dementia and Alzheimers for about 5-6 years. She has been in advanced stages for 2-3 years. My sister, brother-in-law and I cared for her in our home until last February when we could no longer do it. We realized we could not keep her safe or make her happy in our environment. So we (my sisters Bev and Belinda) made the agonizing decision to place her in a facility where they specialized in Dementia and Alzheimer care. She was happy there and well cared for.

About a week and a half ago, we received a call from the staff there stating that mom was acting differently. 10 days ago, we received a call they were taking her to the hospital beacause they suspected she may have had some small strokes. The ER Dr's kept her there overnight and she returned to her home. But she quickly got worse and within a few short days, she would be leaving us.

Fortunately for us mom was very specific about how she wanted things to go at the end of her life. She asked me to be her Power of Attorney before she got Dementia and she made her wishes known about all the what if's. I have to say, even though I knew she wanted nothing done, no heroics, no tubes, no life support,...It takes every ounce of faith and obediance to not say, "Do whatever you can to save her!" After feeling so helpless the last few years in not being able to do anything for momma because of this horrible disease, We were confident that carrying out her wishes was the right thing to do.

It was the Grace of God that she passed when she did today. My sister and I had an awesome opportunity to wash her face and hands, annoint her and help prepare her for her arrival to heaven. I felt such a release and peace knowing she was there and not here anymore. I will miss my mom terribly, as I do my dad and sister, but I praise God and rejoice in the knowledge that I will see her again someday and she will be rejoicing with the angels at my arrival! I am so blessed to have been able to help prepare her for her journey. And I understand now that she had to take this journey without us, but I have comfort in the fact that she was not alone, she was with Jesus and is in His presence forever!

I know the bible says we are to honor our parents and I have to say I was the one that was honored today! I am honored to have been raised by a wonderful, loving, caring, kind and beautiful mother and I pray that the legacy I leave behind will also honor her. There's a song by Randy Travis that says, "It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, It's what you leave behind you when you go." Momma left a legacy of Grace, Strength and Love behind for us to carry on.

We are gonna miss you momma. Give dad and Barbara a hug and kiss for us too, and we will see you when we get there!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Bittersweet Blessings!

It has been awhile since I posted.  I guess it has been a bittersweet end of the year for us here.  Although we all miss having mom home with us, we realize that she is safe and happy where she is.  And afterall, that is all we really want for her. 

I went a few times during the Thanks giving and Christmas Holidays and each time she was asleep in the middle of the day.  She has cycled into her being up all night routine again.  So, on Christmas night my sister Brother-in-law and me went to see her on the way home from our other sister's home.  It was about 7:45  pm and she had just awakened!  She was wandering around chatting with everyone and was perfectly content.  She had no recognition of us, but at least this time she wasn't crying.  She was very happy and very busy, which is what she likes...she looked good too.  LOL Bev that was for you!!! (She used to always tell my sister that lives in Bakersfield that she looked good)

You know for a few seconds you can see in her eyes an almost moment of recognition, then in a's gone!  And on the way home we talked about how good she looked and how happy we were that she was happy.  But still sad that she didn't know us.  But you know....I would rather her be happy and not have a clue who we are, than her to be frightened and miserable and trying to leave during the night like she was the last several months she was with us at home.

We have come to the conclusion that now our visits with her are for our comfort, rather than hers, because as soon as her attention is diverted to something else, she has already forgotten that we were there. 

I know that I briefly mentioned that finding the home she is in was truly an act and blesing of God.  Here is how it happened.  We knew last year at Thanksgiving that we were on the edge.  I was exhausted and sick, my sister was exhausted and my Brother-in-law was too.  My sister and I were taking turns staying up at night to make sure mom was not up and trying to get out.  she was not sleeping in her bed and was always wanting to go home???  We were afraid she would fall during the night or manage to get outside.  Then we would go to work during the day.  We were able to take ker to a day care in our town (PADS) but they were only open from 7:30 to 5:30.  It was very difficult to ger her up and going in the morning so I could go to work also.  There were many times that I would drop her off in her pajamas with her clothes, toothbrush, breakfast and medications in a bag and the center took care of it for me.  The people there were such a blessing!

After Christmas last year (the most horrible one in my enitre life!) we knew we had to do something.  THe problem was financially we could not afford $6000-8000 per month for her.  We called every home we knew about but finding a secured facility locally was not an option.  With the exceprion of the most horrible and disgusting place around and I refused to put my mother there!!!  Well I looked on line and at the same time my sister was looking on line (neither of us new the other one was looking) and I came across a website called "A Place For Mom".  I sent an email to them asking for help!

The next day I answered the phone and it was a lady asking for my sister.  She was at work so the lady left a message.  The following day I answered the phone and it was the same lady asking for me!  She was from "A Place for Mom" and said that we both had contacted them!  After talking to this wonderful woman on the phone, When I told her my mom's name she said, Does she live on .....street?  ANd I said yes...then she said "I know you guys, I am Terri's sister."  Terri is our next door neighbor and happened to have lived next to mom and dad for years!  After talking to her, we discovered that a group setting would not work for mom but she was able to tell us about a place called Golden Living Center.  She gave me the phone muber and told me to talk about with my family. 

In the meantime, I had found out from friends of friends, of a place in a small town about an hour north of here that had the correct facilitiy for mom.  They only had one bed for a female and had to come interview her to see if she was a fit for them.  The only problem was that they required $5500. per month until the state was able to finance. 

I had already applied for assistance for my mom.  Unfortunately it could to take up to 6 months.  Well the local office lost her application....then when I took a duplicate, they shipped to another office, who could not find it, when finally (it's now Mid January)   There was no way we would even be able to afford a single month for mom's care on our own.  So we prayed, and PRAYED and PRAYED!  We prayed for guidance and direction and assurance that this is what God wanted us to do.  We felt like failures because we could not do it anymore. 

The counselor from the place up north came out to visit mom and gave her a test and after speaking with her said she would fit in their facility.  Only two problems, they would require a months pay in advance and their were no beds at that time.

Well, the next day I got a phone call from Jackie, at Golden Living Center in Shafter.  She told me that she had been given my name and number (from "A place for Mom") regarding my mom.  She had a bed opened and wanted to come interview mom.  She came down the next day and spoke to mom at the day care center.  She talked to the ladies there and to mom and to me.  She said they would love to take her.  They would require she be examined by their staff Doctor and then place their within 24 hours of the Dr. visit.  The cost?  They would take her with no fees as a "Medical pending" placement.  This was on a Thursday.  She was willing to take mom on Friday.  But I asked if we could have the weekend to discuss it with family and if we could visdit the facility first. 

She was able to arrange that for us and on Saturday we all went to Shafter Which is also about an hour from us only south.  And it wa in between where we live and my sister in Bakersfield lives....Perfect.    As we drove up the place is un assuming on the outside, very conservative and and older buliding.  But it was very clean and well kept.  In the unit in which my mom would live was set up like a home (somewhat)  They had a dining room where the clients all set at the table and ate like a fmaily, they had a living room and a patio which were all safe and accessible to them.  But what was most impressive to us was the love and affection that the staff showed to the clients there.  They hugged and embraced them, held hands with them and treated them very well.  The clients were allowed to be up when they wanted and eat when they wanted (snacks) and interact.  We knew in our spirit that this was the place God had picked for our mom!  He orchestrated it and set it into motion witout any of our doing and made it possible financially for us as well.  The following Monday, my brother-in-law and I took her there.

We were worried about the transition and how she would act when it was time to leave....There was not a single issue!  She found a gentleman there that took a liking to her immediately and she to him (within 5 mnutes of being there literally) and she had completely forgotten about us.  The nurse gave us the sign to leave and we were gone.  We were not allowed to go visit for a few weeks in order for her to get used to things, but she adapted very well.  And our first visit she was happy to see us and told everyone that we were her "people" ???  She was happy!  But mostly....SHE WAS SAFE!

Ten months later, we are on the mend and trying to get back to normal.  I can;t say it has been a breeze, but we are well and we are no longer in a state of isolation and imprisonment.  Which sounds bad to say, but is a very true statement.  Anyway, I hope this story helps some of you that are struggling with a similar situation.   Ours was truly God orchestrated and I praise Him for getting us through it!

Until next time...God Bless you all.....Becs

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mom, Forget-Us-Not

This is my mom, Betty, with her only grand-daughter Angie, at Angie's college graduation two years ago.  Mom was in moderate stages of Dementia and Alzheimer's and  was living at home with my sister, Belinda, my Brother-in-law Rick, and me.  Mom still had recognition of us, still knew she was our mom and she could carry on a conversation relatively well.  However, we were to find out shortly that her memory and personality would deteriorate rather quickly after this.

This is mom with my sister, Beverly (Angie's mom) and Jerry, my brother-in-law (Angie's dad).  Mom was easy to get along with and loving to us all like her normal self.  She would get confused and ask the same questions repeatedly, but her long term memory was still intact.  She did however, begin to wander outside at times trying to go home, thinking she was a young woman living in Colorado where she grew up.  It was at this time that our lives changed drastically and quickly!  We are like most middle class people, we live pay check to pay check.  Mom relied on a small Social Security but her bills and debts were being paid for by Belinda and Rick.  I was working part-time and we found ourselves in need of some assistance.  Unfortunately, this is quite expensive.  After searching and inquiring, Rick learned of a place in our town (Porterville, California) that was a day care for Alzheimer and dementia patients.  They have a program where you can drop of your loved one and pick them up at the end of the day.  The cost was manageable.  PADS (Porterville Adult Day Services) was a blessing from GOD!!!  These women cared for and loved our mom as if she were theirs.  And in fact, she was theirs! 
These lovely ladies loved our mother! In fact, when my mother worked at a local sewing factory years ago, the two older women, Maria and Francesca (sisters) worked for my mom.  And they remembered her when she came in!  What another blessing from God!  She knew that she knew them but did not remember why.   

This picture is mom on her last day at PADS (February 2009).  The following day we placed her in a wonderful care facility strictly for Alzheimer and Dementia patients.  This whole situation was also God ordained and orchestrated.  I will save that story for another time.  Mom drastically and quickly went into advanced stages of the disease and we found ourselves in a situation that we could no longer handle.  We could not keep her safe with us anymore..  We could not get her to take her medication, to sleep, there were times that my sister and I did not sleep for days.  We could not bathe her or change her clothes.  She would hit us and spit on us.  This was not our mother.  What do you do when this happens?  We had no idea what to do.  PADS helped us tremendously with bathing and pills when they could.  We literally became prisoners in our own home because mom was terrified if any of us left the room.  I can't imagine how she must have felt not knowing who we were or where she was suddenly.

This picture is of mom and Angie on our last vacation with mom at Avila Beach, July 2008.  This was a hard time for her as she was frightened most of the time, but comfortable as long as we all stayed in the same room with her....
Since February of this year, we have gone through many tears, laughter, emotions and healing.  Our mom is happy at her new home, Golden Living Center of Shafter.  The staff love and interact with the clients and the place is ran like a home.  They are specially trained in this disease and again, are a blessing from God!

Please share stories and comments, ask questions or just talk...I want this to be a place where people can share and get help or references.  I just felt it was time to reach out to others that are going through similar circumstances in coping with not knowing who their parents, spouses, loved ones are anymore....

God Bless all of you!  Becs