Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How My Mom is Doing

In response to a lot of messages, phone calls, and emails asking how things are going with my sweet mom, I thought I would post briefly here to give you an update.

Life has been moving so swiftly that it has been tricky to sit down and "just write." And then when I have had time to write lately, I actually couldn't bring myself to do it. Not sure why. It just felt too overwhelming.

But the kids are at their evening events right now, and I have a few minutes of quiet--so I thought I would open up my heart a bit and let you know what's happening.

My mom has been doing generally well for the past couple of years.

It's been a miracle, really.

The Alzheimer's medicine seemed to freeze time. It didn't make her better, but it stopped her from getting worse. Her helper, Cheryl, has been by her side around the clock, attending to her every need, and our weekly visits have been happy.

Thursday nights have turned into events where several of my brothers and sisters join me, my children, and my dad around Mom's bed. We carry extra chairs into the room and sit close and tight while we share our weekly updates, reminisce about all the funny things Mom did over the years, listen to Dad's favorite memories, and sing Mom's favorite hymns.  (She used to join in a bit, and that always made us smile.)

About a month ago, however, we made a decision to take Mom off the Alzheimer's medication.

This decision wasn't made lightly, but all eight children were on board.

There comes a point when you have to ask if keeping someone artificially alive is the best thing for them.

Mom's doctor said that she was healthy and strong on the medication and could live for years to come in that state.

(In bed full time. Diapers being changed regularly. Spoon-fed and monitored day and night. Not remembering a moment of it.)

I cried to Eric one evening shortly after the decision was made to stop the medicine and asked if he thought it was wrong to let her go.

"April," he said gently, "your mom is essentially sitting on the bench right now. She can't do anything in this life, and she can't do anything on the other side. Think how happy she'll be."

That felt right to me.

So for the past few weeks, when I've gone to visit, there has been a noticeable change. Mom has stopped talking and humming along while we sing. There is zero recognition in her eyes. She's had trouble chewing and swallowing.

I fed her salmon one night, and she really struggled to get it down. So stressful...

Another night, I got there late (about 7), and she was already asleep. I hugged her and kissed her and whispered, "I love you," and then Alia did the same.

Alia turned from the bed with a huge smile and then exclaimed (in a whisper), "She said 'I love you too'!!!!"

I felt a little pang of envy, as I didn't get a chance to hear that, but I was grateful Alia did.

Tonight I called Laura, and she told me that the doctor is planning to approve Mom for hospice care again.

The first time was in 2014. We thought she only had months to live.

But God gave us a gift of more than TWO YEARS to love her and hug her and be with her.

This time we still don't know how long she has. She's losing weight and declining rapidly, and although I can hardly type this without breaking down, I think I'm finally ready to let her to go.

I picked up Spencer from Cub Scouts shortly after hearing the news from Laura this afternoon, and there were tears in my eyes.

He asked why I was crying, and I told him about his Grandma's hospice care and explained it was probably time for her to go back to God.

A moment later, I looked at him, and his eyes were watery.

"Why are you crying?" I asked.

"Because you are." He replied. "Remember how when you cry, I cry?"

Then he said, "My birthstone is a sapphire, and do you know what characteristic I have?"

I shook my head.

"Emotional healing," he responded. "My teacher told me that."

After a moment, he asked, "Why is Cinderella so bad at sports?"

"I don't know. Why? I asked."

"Because she always runs away from the ball," he replied.

I laughed.

"See? You were crying. Now you're laughing. That's emotional healing," he explained.

(Isn't it so kind for God to give me angels in my own family to help me through this?)

I'm taking the children to see my parents this weekend. Cheryl is going to try to take Mom to church for the last time on Sunday. I want to be there.

This time is full of such sweetness. It isn't easy, by any means, but my goodness, it's a blessing to get to spend so much time with the people you love.

Thank you for your kindness and concern for our family. We so appreciate your love for us.

Time to pick up the kids.  :)



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