Mommy

She stood at the door

waving goodbye and smiling

I waved back and turned to go

Earlier she had said

she never thought her daughter would be

the one to do her laundry

Life is a circle I said

And I am privileged to be able to

do her laundry

to help her change her clothes

to hold her hand and

trim her nails

So very lucky I am

to hug my mommy

with my mask on

when others in the family

are far away and

can only pray

for my dear mommy

And so many out there

have lost their mommies

during this time

of scary unknowns

and can’t be there

at the end of the life

of the woman who gave them life

I am grateful that for today

I could be there

because I don’t know what

the code will be tomorrow

Can’t keep it in

I awoke from my dream because I was crying. Then sobbing. And I couldn’t stop. The pain came and kept coming. I felt it. Everything that I had kept inside. Pretending. Pretending it’s all okay. When it’s not okay. Everything has changed. Change is scary. Unknowns are scary. The future is unknown. That’s scary. My role in life has changed. That is scary. I am floundering. What is my role now? I can’t be there for my mom. That’s scary. She needs me. And I am not there. I don’t have any control over the situation. Not having control is scary.

God forced me to let it out. To let it all out. It was a dream. I was at my parents’ house, the house where I grew up. I was outside the house in the yard and I could see mom through the window. Sitting where she always sat. I went into the house and there were toys on the floor and voices in the living room. A good happy sound. I went into the living room. My brother was there at the age he is now. My dad was there wearing his blue jacket; (he’s been gone for five years now). All four of my children. They were younger. I’m sure Ryan was there but I didn’t see him. (Ryan’s been gone for almost 14 years now). Mom said, “Kathy! You’re going to be okay.” And I started to cry.

Don’t keep it inside peeps. Let it out.

Touch has a memory

What is your memory of touch?

Is it as a child when you were held

lovingly in your mother’s arms

or hit on your bum when you were bad

Was it the feel of the brush

tickling through your hair

or pushing ouchly through the knots

was it the soft sand slipping

through your fingers

or the stones stuck to your knee

as you picked yourself back up

from the fall from your bicycle

Was it the wind blowing gently

against your face

as you went higher and higher

on the swing

or the bark cutting into

your elbow as you climbed

higher in the tree

Was it the rain falling on your nose

as you ran from the car to the house

or was it the bitter cold that

bit at your finger tips

while you finished off that snowman

close your eyes and feel it

the memory

 

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The eyes

I press the code and the door opens

I step inside

all eyes look to me

some are questioning

some are smiling

some are closed and sleeping

some are fearful

looking up from chairs and wheel chairs

I wait for her eyes to see me

to recognize me

then she smiles

she still remembers me

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Remember that time?

Because she can’t remember

what happened one minute ago,

I don’t ask her

what she had for breakfast

But I do ask, “remember that time

when I was little and we used to go for picnics?”

and she will smile  and come up with a story

whether it is totally invented or whether it’s true

It is still a good story

and we have a laugh together

 

Because she can’t remember

I don’t ask her

if any one has phoned her today

But I do ask her, “remember that time

when you were a little girl

and you fished with your dad?”

and she will smile and tell the story

that’s mostly true with a few mistakes

But it’s still a good story

and we have a laugh together

 

Because she can’t remember

I don’t ask her what this special day is,

But I do ask her, “remember when you met

my dad and went on your first date?”

And she will smile and tell the story

that changes from time to time

But it’s still a good story

and we have a laugh together

 

We can still talk

even if she can’t remember

when I walk away

what we talked about

Tomorrow is another day for stories

as long as she remembers

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Two years at the Lodge

Mom has been living at Northwood Lodge for two years now. She is doing well there. She is not alone anymore, that is the biggest bonus. Even though she doesn’t remember where she is, we don’t have to worry about her being lonely because she has people to visit with and talk to.

Physically, she is a little more feeble, but still walking with her cane at a good speed when inside. It is more difficult for her outside and that is starting to limit things we can do. I still try to pick her up for church when the weather is allowing and when she is willing. We go for rides whenever we can as well. I really enjoy our times out together. It is an easier visit even though she always asks where we’re going when it’s time to return to the Lodge and laughs when I tell her that’s where she lives now.

I have to keep my visits to her to about an hour or less and keep the conversation on her childhood otherwise she will still insist that she is moving out of the Lodge and getting her own place.  At times she can also get mad at me and start to accuse me of not wanting her or of keeping her locked up and I have to divert the conversation. I’ve learned a few tricks in this area!

Mom is 86 years old now but thinks that she is still young and is surprised when I tell her how old she is now and how I am. She’s been diagnosed with Glaucoma in her eyes and is now getting eye drops at night. Her diabetes is worse now and she is back on metformin and now has insulin shots at night as well. She’s eating well and has gained weight. We’ve had to increase two sizes of clothing.

She is difficult to buy clothes for because she only likes certain styles (like most of us) and she puts everything you give her away in a drawer, never to be found again. We bought her a nice comfy blanket for Christmas but that has now been put away too.

It’s wonderful that there are still friends who stop in for a visit with her (she’s very entertaining with her stories) and relatives who phone her regularly. My dad’s sister, Aunt Ethel, who is now 93 years old phones mom regularly.

I am truly grateful for every moment that I spend with my mom. I want to have my mom forever.

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I’ll tie your shoes

I’ll button up your blouse

I’ll zipper up your jacket

I’ll tie your shoes

because you did that for me

back when I was wee

your fingers now are bent

your eyesight is weak

and with your cane you walk

but are unsure on your feet

I remember when

you dressed me up for school

and walked me all the way

when you combed and curled my hair

and trimmed my finger nails

now it is reversed

and each day your memory fades

but I have not forgotten

and I’ll tie your shoes

and do your buttons

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Mom’s education

She never went to school. Not formally. She didn’t go to residential school like many relatives and friends did because her father was a white man.

Her family lived on the trap line at Parker Lake during most of the winter so they were far from town and the public school. A few of her younger brothers went to the Red Lake school here and there but not for long.

When she was in the Sanitarium in Thunder Bay for almost two years with tuberculosis she went to school. She went to grade 3. She learned to read. She couldn’t spell very well and we all helped her with that.

She could read and write syllabics beautifully in her language of Ojibwe.

Things my mom taught me

I can speak a little bit of ojibwe. She taught me to bead from a loom, how to embroider, how to knit and how to sew. She taught me to keep my house clean by cleaning up after myself. (I didn’t say I do everything that she taught me!)

Mom has been the biggest influence in my life and continues to be. I am still learning from her. I am learning how to survive, how to grieve, how to keep going on when times are tough. And I’m learning how to be sarcastic while doing so.

She taught me how to be a mother and for that I am grateful. She was not a perfect mother, nor am I. She has also taught me how to be a Kookum and when the time comes, I will try to be to my grandchildren the Kookum she was to my kids. I say “was” because she is different now with the dementia in some ways but she still loves her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I learned how to be a woman from my mom.

 

One year at at the Lodge

A year ago we moved mom from her home to the Lodge. We lied to her to get her there. It’s cruel but there was no other choice, she would not have moved. She’d been living in her house alone since dad passed and living with dementia. Every day she waited for him to come home, she wasn’t eating very much, bathing very much and didn’t like to have the home support workers come over so she would often lock them out.

I was her primary care giver, making sure she had food, house cleaned, driveway shoveled, lawn mowed etc. Then a room became available at the Lodge, so my brother, Billy, flew to Ontario from BC and we moved mom. We told her that her house needed a new oil tank and she would have to stay at the Lodge for awhile. She agreed to that so we moved her over there and while she wasn’t looking we moved her TV, dresser, a mini fridge and suitcases and bags of her belongings into her room.

We then packed up the house and gave away some things and got it ready to sell. A very emotional time. It was the house we grew up in. You can see all of those blogs:

https://wordpress.com/post/momhealing.wordpress.com/2151

https://wordpress.com/post/momhealing.wordpress.com/2036

Mom continually asked when she was going home and was very angry when I told her that the Lodge was her home now. I think I told her that her house was unlivable or not affordable or some lie like that for a while but then I had to tell her the truth. She would yell at me when I went to visit and demand to go home. She would phone me five times a day and yell at me. She would phone me at work and yell at me.

So it’s taken a long time but she is now quite settled. She still demands to move to another apartment at times but she is nicer about it and I just have to tell her that I will look into it. She doesn’t phone as often. I don’t cry as much.

I keep my visits short, and usually before she is about to have a meal so that I can walk her to the dining room before I leave. There are times that we have great visits and just watch TV together or talk about the old days when she was a child. These times are precious! And she will kiss me good-bye and tell me she loves me.

At lot of the times when I get to the Lodge, she is sitting in the common area watching TV with other residents!  She is not alone anymore. Lately, I’ve been told that she sits with her friend and plays cards. She has friends now.

I still pick her up and take her out for rides but this has been the coldest winter here in years so we have not been out since Thanksgiving (That’s October in Canada). She had a cold all through the Christmas season. I’ve noticed that she is more frail now than last year, as she is a year older after all, but she is still walking with her cane. She is now 85 and a half.