Saturday, January 31, 2009

Doing OK

Life continues to be surreal for me. I feel Mom all around me and I talk to her often. Is that weird? Yet, I also feel able to move on with my life because I know that is what Mom and Dad would both want for me. I'm reconnecting with friends, especially on Facebook where I've found friends from high school and even my sister's best friend from grade school on. Her family were good friends with our's. It's comforting.

In February I'm going to Mom's sister's 80th birthday party. I'm excited to see my Michigan family. My family is very small; Mom's sister married Dad's brother so we have double cousins. It's fun and we are close because of that.

I think I'm done with all the thank you's from Mom's memorial service. It doesn't seem possible that it was 3 weeks ago today. Cherish the moments with those you love for time is fleeting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I think this is the coolest photo. It's a planetary nebula. The photo was taken in November using the Hubble space telescope.

I've created a memorial page for Mom at the Alzheimer's web site here. It seems like a nice way to remember her and perhaps it will help lead to a cure for this awful disease.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Never Give Up Hope

Doris is a miracle at CB. She was on hospice for years and was even close to the end of her life. Or so they thought. The last time I was at CB Doris was feeding herself and propelling herself all over the place in her wheelchair. The carers kept reminding me of this whenever I would tear up about Mom. I think that Mom hung on as long as she could. And she was especially tenacious during the holidays, much like Cinnamin's mom refused to give up a year ago. I think our loved ones are more aware of their surroundings and events then we think.

During our vigil, I put Mom's iPod on continuous play. I set it up to play music with sounds of the ocean and nature in the background. Several of the songs that played were ones that Mom particularly liked or ones that she played on the piano. I hope that this helped her somehow. Hospice kept telling us that one of the last senses that a person is left with is hearing. We tried very hard to make the sounds around Mom peaceful, yet familiar. I called all of Mom's loved ones and let them tell her they loved her on my cell phone's speakerphone. Her eyes flickered open for both my nephew and my brother at those times. And we would talk to her often. She knew we were there with her and that we love her forever.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The five days during my vigil with Mom I was taking anti-anxiety meds. Maybe that is why I was so calm? I'm starting to feel a little less calm this afternoon.

Thanks for all the notes of concern. I am doing amazingly well. In fact, I'm doing so well that I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop because I can't believe that I'm doing so well. I feel calm and at peace. Is this normal? I think everyone, including myself, thought I would be much more of a mess. I feel Mom all around me and for now that is very comforting.

Before Mom passed away, so many people told me that they wished they still had a part of their loved one. Well, that sank in with me, and I kept a lock of Mom's hair. I'll have this piece of my Mom forever. I think my sister thought it was weird. But I don't care. It comforts me.

We are back in the deep freeze here in Minnesota. It's very cold but very sunny. My sister is convinced that Minnesota has a dry cold.

I've included a photo of the memory board that my sister and I made for Mom's memorial service. She was such a gorgeous lady. Miss you Mom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mom's memorial service was reverent and full of love. I miss her so much. I think that I've been numb for the last few days and it's really not sunk in that she is gone. I'm scared for when it does eventually sink in. I'm a momma's baby, always have been.

Days before Mom's death I had a feeling that something was up with her. I visited her Tuesday and Wednesday evenings after work. Tuesday night she did not eat but once we got her back to her room and into her bed, we raised her bed and she sat up and drank a glass of juice. I had met with the hospice nurse just prior to seeing Mom, and we had decided to try to lower her dosage of lorazepam (anti-anxiety) to see if Mom might become more engaged. On Wednesday evening I stopped by at dinner time. They had Mom up and sitting at the dining table however she wasn't awake. I tried to get her to eat a few bites of food but she was totally uninterested. We took her back to her room and put her into her bed. I was worried and scared. Thursday morning I awoke with a start and looked at my clock. My alarm did not go off. When my carpool called to see if I was riding, the phone didn't ring; it had somehow been unplugged. I decided to take the day and spend it with Mom and I'm so glad that I did. This was the last day that Mom was awake and able to sort of communicate. She would not take her eyes off me. I fed her ice chips and water from a tooth moistener. She was very interested in the ice chips and water and asked for more. Hospice stopped by, including the social worker and the nurse. The nurse prescribed morphine to keep Mom comfortable. If my phone and alarm had been working I would have missed this time with Mom. But someone had a plan and I am so grateful for this time with my Mom. I kept a vigil near Mom for the next 4 days. My sister arrived on Sunday. It was such a relief to share this vigil with her. The whole time that this was happening I had so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind; one that was everpresent was this feeling that my friend and his wife, who were expecting a baby on the 15th, would have this baby on the day that Mom passed away. Guess what? That baby arrived two days early on the day that Mom passed away. Later my cousin informed us that her brother-in-law and his wife also delivered a baby on this day. Both of these babies were boys. This was reminscent of when my dad passed away. His hospice nurse was expecting a baby which she delivered on the day that he passed away. These events are comforting to me as I know that He has had a hand in this.

My sister and I stayed with Mom from a little after 9AM until a little after midnight. The caregivers felt that Mom had more time and it seemed true; her color was better, her lips were pinker and her hands and feet showed no signs of mottling. We decided to head home for some rest, planning to return early in the morning. We both kissed Mom and told her we love her and then we departed. The carers checked on Mom at 12:30 and she was still with us. When they went back around 1:15 AM she was gone. I'm convinced that Mom waited until we left to depart this world, always the mother protecting her children.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sally Ann Riley

Riley, Sally Ann age 76, of Eden Prairie, formerly of Duluth, MN, on January 13, 2009. Preceded in death by husband, Richard; parents, Hans & Ilse Deckert. Survived by daughters, Allyson (Joseph) Debes and Robyn Riley; son, Douglas (Janet) Riley; grandchildren, Matthew Houck and Angela Riley; sister, Mary Ellen (William E.) Riley; niece, Jill Bachle and nephew, Christopher Riley. Memorials preferred to the Alzheimer's Assoc. or Fairview Hospice. Special thanks to the staff at Clare Bridge, Eden Prairie, Fairview Hospice and LivHome. Memorial service 11 AM Saturday, Jan. 17, with visitation one hour prior to service, all at: Washburn-McReavy Eden Prairie Chapel 952-975-0400 7625 Mitchell Road (1 blk N of Hwy 5)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mom passed away peacefully sometime before 1:18 AM today. My sister and I were with her from 9 AM until a little after midnight. Her breathing was labored. They came to reposition her at midnight and the carers thought she might have more time. I think she was waiting for us to leave so that she could slip into my father's arms surrounded by her parents.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I am so grateful for the love and prayers that are surrounding my mom and me during this time. She is still resting peacefully, I have come home to rest and to get out my thoughts and emotions here.

My sister arrives tomorrow. I cannot tell you the relief that I feel.

Please continue to hold Mom and me and my family in your prayers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A wise and wonderful friend came to sit with Mom and me tonight. She told me that she has a friend whose Mom has ALZ. She asked this friend when was the last time her kids had seen their grandma and her friend said it had been several years because she didn't want to put them through 'that'. My friend said, "If you don't show them how to nurture someone in their old age, how are they going to know how to nurture you in your old age?". I think that is an extremely insightful comment.

Mom is still resting peacefully. Thank you for all of your prayers and hugs. I can feel them in my heart.
Mom is still with us though she is pretty unresponsive. She did open her eyes and move her lips when I put her grandson on speaker phone so that he could tell her he loves her. That was a precious moment. Hospice has sent an '11th hour volunteer' who is with her now so that I can get some rest. My sister is trying to find a flight so that she can be here with me. Thank you for your prayers and thoughts, you all are such a blessing to me.

I am crying a lot and everyone keeps telling me to hold it together. I just am one of those people who cries ALOT. I know Mom is going to be OK but I can't imagine not having her with me. It scares me but I know that she wants the best for me. Still, I need to cry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spent the day with Mom. She is shutting down. No food or drink, only sips of water from a toothette. I have been crying off and on and have asked my sister to come. I need her now.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mom is not eating. If we can get food into her mouth, and that's a big 'if', she doesn't swallow it so it eventually runs back out of her mouth. She's also not drinking very much. I am in despair even though I know she would not want to live like this. Still my tears keep flowing. Please pray for us.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Mystery Solved!

Look who I found on the cable box today? Lily! I was wondering who was knocking off the stuffed loon which usually resides on top of the TV. I think she's found a warm spot. Silly goose!

Happy New Year

I've visited Mom every day for the last 5 days. She was drowsy and did not eat very much. Today when I arrived the carers were taking her back so that she could nap in her bed. After they did their cares she fell right to sleep and I stayed for awhile listening to music I had put on for her. On Monday I am going to ask the hospice nurse about her meds and which ones might be making her drowsy. Deep down inside I feel that she is determining her fate herself and has decided not to eat. Or it could just be that she has forgotten how to swallow. It's so hard to say. And it makes me sad.

It has been sunny here but cold. I've enjoyed the extra days off from work; it has been relaxing and has given me the opportunity to visit Mom during the day.

Nine Years and Counting

Mom has been gone for a little over nine years. This blog was a huge mechanism for helping me cope with her illness and daily downfall. I...