Tuesday, October 22, 2013


***Over the last two weeks I've tried to sit down and write this blog numerous times. Each time I deleted it because it hadn't come out right. I sounded whiny or cruel or just wrong. After finishing this today, I know I finally got it right. Thank you for your patience.***

Two weeks ago I went to see my chiropractor. Not a big deal. It was a Saturday and I went ALONE. It was very nice to be able to do things without anyone with me.

When I got home I was telling mom and dad how it went since it wasn't my usual chiropractor - I have to tell anyone "new" to me about my pacemaker and the complications with my heart. The new Dr. was kind and really helpful at getting my left shoulder to pop. A few hours later, I overheard mom talking to dad. She was telling him all about my appointment, as if she was there. It pissed me off. I know it shouldn't have but it did. Every thing I do, with or without her, becomes her story. She puts herself in to the situation.

It's ironic, because as I type this, I get how petty I sound. I know it's the dementia and she's grasping for anything that comes her way to make her feel normal. I see it very clearly now. What I don't get, is why it angers/annoys/pisses me off? It's not like she's hurting me. It's not like she is telling these "stories" to anyone but me and dad. So why does it bother me?

Maybe because a dear friend of mine is arriving on Wednesday and I know mom will be telling stories constantly. Now I know my friend well and I know she'll take everything mom says with a giant grain of salt. But what if I bring someone new in to my life? What is that person going to think? How do I explain that you can't take a word of what my mom says as truth? Somewhere in the story there are tidbits that are real and true. How do I help that person understand that this is the road I walk now? That it is going to get worse before it ends.

And how do I not get angry about how it affects me too? Because it does. Everything about her affects me. I take care of my mom. I hug her when she cries, I help her get dressed, I make sure she eats and bathes, I get her to laugh at the Maury show with me while we eat lunch, I get frustrated with her, I get hurt when she's in her cruel mood. This isn't just a job, I don't walk away from it at 5 pm every night. I live this life.

Each day brings new challenges, new hurdles to get over- for her, for my dad, for me. Each change in her means a change for me- how I respond, what I say, what we do. Change is usually good, and something I like, but right now, all the changes are happening one on top of the other. I am well aware that the changes aren't going to be easy and that I need to grieve them. But how do you grieve for what's lost when you can barely keep up? And how do I not lose my mind in the mix? This is the fine line I'm trying to walk and some days it's all I can do to stay upright.

I have faith that I'll be okay. It's my faith that keeps me going. And my dad, coffee and being able to escape in to a book. It's on the hard days I turn to my page and find comfort and support in you, my readers. I will be okay and I'll face all the feelings that come my way. I am strong. I am good. I am a daughter doing the best she can on a path that isn't roses and rainbows. I will listen to my mom's stories and her take on my stories. I will cry when she's not around. When it rains, I'll look for the rainbow. And when it's sunny, I'll take time to soak up the rays.

Hugs and God Bless!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I am sitting downstairs and I can hear my mom singing upstairs. I can hear her voice, shaky at best and know she's happy. She likes "her" music. We have a 300 CD player and when I set it on shuffle she gets a lot of variety with no commercials. (Commercials just piss her off!)

The other day we were in the car and she asked for "her station". Thank goodness for Sirius radio because it was a simple switch of the channel and she was in the back seat singing along to her memories. And then the stories started. Dad and I have learnt to just say appropriate things such as, "Cool", "You don't say" or simply nod and laugh. Her stories have become a hodge podge of her past and present day technology. Dad and I are both getting really good about not correcting her. Though I will admit hearing the same story over and over - just a few details change- does wear on my nerves.

I have a hard time not crying in front of mom. It hurts me to have her ask over and over and over "What day is today?", "When does Daddy get home?", "Where's my office?", etc. I often respond to her with a lump in my throat. Weekends seem to be the worst because we don't have a set schedule. We never have, it's the weekend and whatever we need to do is what we need to do. Her confusion is most evident on weekends, at least to me.

Mom knows that we're getting a new fridge. It's going to be delivered on Sunday. I have answered
"when is it coming?" at least 7 times today. I made the mistake of telling her I was trying to figure out in my head how I'll move what we have in the old in to the spare one downstairs while we wait for the new one to get here. That lead to many questions, most of them repeated at least twice. She asked if she had to go down in the basement with the other fridge while the delivery guys are here. I choked back a laugh because it struck me funny and told her she could be wherever she likes. She's asked what color it is, how big, will it be ours and my favorite- will it hold her ice cream! Now that I did chuckle at. She giggled and said "Priorities you know!"

It's those little things that tell me I'm on the right path. I'm doing what I can to help her down this rocky road. She knows she's losing her mind. She knows she has dementia and part of her knows what's coming. When she brings it up, I change the subject. Not because I can't handle answering her questions, but because it causes her such pain. I prefer to make her smile, giggle, sing- whatever I can to keep the hurt away.

There are lots of things mom can't do anymore: get herself dressed, make a cup of coffee for herself, find the soda in the fridge, shower on her own, put her own necklace on, shut the freezer door, shut the front door, push play on the CD player, finish knitting the afghan she started for me, play a game of rummy, remember that her sister has been dead for a year. And that is why I'm here- here to do things for her, with her, remember for her.

But she can still sing along to her favorite songs. Yes, her voice is shaky, she's behind by at least one word and she's off key- but she can still sing. Those songs she remembers- songs that meant something to her at one time or another. Songs she knows by heart, songs I've heard all my life. She still can sing!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Lost day for mom, teary day for me

Today is one of those days. You know, those days when you’re tired and little things make you want to cry. That’s what today is for me. Even as I sit here and type I have tears ready to spill down my cheeks. It isn’t that it’s a horrible or bad day for mom, it’s a lost day. I guess that’s the best way to explain it. She’s lost today… a lot. Let me recount the events of today and maybe you’ll see why I’m so close to bawling.

6:30 am- Mom gets up with Dad and comes out to the kitchen for breakfast while dad gets ready for work. She’s dressed in her nightshirt, sleep pants, slippers and a hoodie sweatshirt. She looks at me and I know it’s going to be a lost day. She sees me and talks to me but can’t find her way to the kitchen table. I keep encouraging her to come around the island and sit down but she stands in the doorway of the kitchen and doesn't move. Dad walks in and leads her to the table. She sits down and just holds her head in her hands. I have already laid out her bowl, spoon and the box of cereal is sitting there. It takes a few moments and finally she realizes it’s time to eat. I’m learning not to do it for her; she will get it poured when she’s ready. If she asks for help, dad or I help her.

7:30 am- Dad leaves for work and mom asks what today’s plans are. I tell her she has time to listen to her book and that I need to get another hour of sleep. I also tell her we will be going to my bank and taking Dad to lunch. She likes going to lunch with dad so she’s happy with the plan. I take her coffee and help her walk down the hall to her office. Once the book starts playing she tells me “you can leave now. I have Morelli and Ranger to keep me company.”  I shut the door to her office but stand outside it for a moment. What I hear breaks my heart because she is talking to the characters of the book, “It’s going to be okay Morelli.  I’m here to watch you now.” 

I crawl back in to bed with Belle and we fall asleep quickly. When I wake up its 9:10 am and I can hear mom giggling over the story. That makes me smile. I peek in on her and let her know I’m getting in the shower.  She looks at me and says, “Why? Are you going somewhere today?”

“Yes momma. You and I are taking dad to lunch today after we got to the bank.”

“Do I have to go along? You can take dad to lunch by yourself. I don’t want to leave the guys.”

“You have to go along momma because I need you to hold the change jar so it doesn’t tip over in my van. Then we’ll take dad to lunch.”

“Oh, okay. I guess I can go along. Now leave me alone with the guys.”

And I do. After my shower, as I’m drying my hair I can watch mom through the bathroom mirror. She is sitting in her desk chair, looking at a book and talking to herself. I can’t hear her, but I can see her mouth move and am able to read her lips. “I can’t read this. I need new glasses. They won’t give me new glasses. They don’t want me to read.”

I swallow the giant lump in my throat and look away. It’s hard to see my mom unable to do something she’s done forever. I get my love of reading from her and my dad. On family trips I’d pack a doll and 5 books, my brothers would pack toys and Walkmans. I look up again and she’s staring at her knitting needles… and I know that look. It’s the look that begs to remember how to make those needles work.

10:20 am- We are getting ready to walk out the door. She asks me twice if I’ve locked up Belle. As I help put on her jacket she pleads with me not to make her dizzy. I’ve finally figured out that when she is trying to put on her jacket she ends up spinning in a circle. I tell her to stand still and I will walk around her to get the jacket on. She smiles at this because she isn’t dizzy. I swallow another lump because it’s one more thing she can’t do by herself anymore. We get to the van and she gets in and I buckle her up.  I put the change jars between her feet and she starts mumbling a song about pennies and dimes. I just smile.

10:45 am- I’m inside the bank and mom is waiting in the van. I worry when she stays out there- will she talk to a stranger, will she have a panic attack? When I get back out to the van, she’s got the window wide open and she waves at me. I grin because she recognizes me. When I’m settled in, she tells me a man knocked on the window and asked where she got her jacket. I don’t know if this is true or not. There wasn’t a vehicle next to us when I parked or when I came out of the bank. I suppose it could be but I am pretty sure she’s imagined this man. I just nod and listen to her story.

11:15 am- We arrive at dad’s office early so we sit and wait. Mom starts telling me about the book she’s listening to and what’s happening. I’ve read this same book and most of what she says isn’t what the author wrote. I just nod and agree with her. It’s hurting no one. She speaks of the characters as if she had lunch with them yesterday. It makes me smile that she’s so vested in them, but also makes me sad because she doesn’t talk about dad or I that way anymore.

12:30 pm- After lunch, we head over to the beauty salon for quick haircuts. As I’m about to help her out of the car I notice her shoes are on the wrong feet. I fix them, but end up wondering when she switched them because when we left the house this morning they were on the right feet. We can’t get in to see the stylist for 45 minutes so we head over to Wal-Mart. While we’re in Wal-Mart, we both need to use the restroom. Mom has to have me hold the door for her because she can’t get the lock to work. I stand there as women come and go. I get looks but they assume I’m holding the door for a child. When she comes out I help her wash up and tell her now it’s my turn. She stands next to the wall and I can see her through the crack in the stall door. Her expression shows her confusion- she’s not smiling, her eyes are darting around and she’s fiddling with the rings on her fingers. I call out, “I’m almost done mom. I’ll be right out.” She calms down. And once again I’m swallowing a lump and holding the tears at bay.

We pick out shoes and a shirt for mom. She doesn’t want her sweatshirt on while she gets her hair cut, but only has on her thin night shirt because she wouldn’t give in on changing in to a regular shirt before we left the house this morning. We get out to the van and I help her take off the sweatshirt and put the new flannel shirt on. She is excited about her new shirt and can’t wait to show it to my dad. I make a quick call to my cousin and I can see mom get upset. She doesn’t like when I talk on the phone. I don’t know why, but she doesn’t like it. I have to hide my phone calls from her now. I resent it a bit, but I’ll get over it. I am the one who needs to change because she can’t anymore. Next week she may not be bothered by me being on the phone, or maybe she will. I never know.

1:15 pm- Mom is getting her hair cut and is chatting well with the stylist. I am wondering how long it will be before I can’t take her outside the house for these type of things. When she’s done, it’s my turn. She sits in the waiting area and talks with an elderly man that came in. I can’t hear them but she seems fine.

2:08 pm (I noticed the time because the question caught me so off guard) - As I’m driving home mom asks if her shoes are on right. I look down and they aren’t so I try to help her figure it out the best I can. “Do you hate my disability? It must annoy you that I can’t do this stuff by myself.”

“Your disability?” I don’t know what she means.

“Yeah, I can’t see and I can’t do things for myself.”

“Oh. No momma, I don’t.” Swallow a huge lump.

“Oh, okay then. Thanks.” And she says no more.

2:15 pm- We arrive home. Mom keeps raving about her new haircut. I mention that she needs to take a shower now. It’s like I told her she was going to be murdered. She instantly starts telling me it’s not necessary, that she had one just yesterday (try three days ago) and that she’s going to tell dad on me.  I, however, notice that she keeps scratching at her neckline and use this to my advantage. I convince her that taking a shower will get rid of all the hair pieces that are making her itchy. While she’s in the shower I start to think back to September when I first came out here. I didn’t have to remind her about showering back then. I didn’t even have to help her. Now, I’m the mom helping a child learn the steps of a shower - except I have to do this every time she showers. I have to hand things to her, make sure she rinses all the shampoo out, lets the conditioner sit on long enough, etc. 

Today she complains the water is too hot, then too cold. She tells me she’s going to tell dad that I’m “trying to burn her butt off” and that I’ve “tried to drown her by making the shower water go in her ears.” I laugh it off and tell her she sounds like Goldilocks with the too hot, too cold. She giggles and says I am the annoying Momma bear. I just smile at her and give her the conditioner for her hair.

3:00 pm Now I am downstairs writing and she’s up in her office with Morelli and Ranger. I can hear her laugh and hear her stomp her feet on the floor when something funny happens. I am swallowing the lump once again and hoping the tears don’t fall.

When I came out here in September mom was more independent. Not completely, but more so than she is now. She could cut up her own food back then, now it’s me or dad helping her- she tries but the knife ends up at an angle and she just gets a sliver cut off. She used to pick out her own clothes every day, now it’s up to me or dad to pick them out. If we’re not leaving the house, she stays in her pj’s all day. The days we go out, I have to convince her that frog covered sleep pants with black bootie slippers are not suitable for wearing to the bank or out to lunch.  She used to be able to find you if she wandered off in Wal-Mart or whatever store we were in. Now, if you let go of her hand or she lets go of your arm, she gets scared and starts to step backwards not aware of her surroundings.  (Yeah, the fight with the tears has been lost) We used to banter back and forth about buying the ugliest shirt we could find for each other. We used to laugh about the weird outfits people wear to shop at Wal-Mart. Now there’s not any joking. I’ve got to be very careful about every word I say because one wrong word and she can get very upset. And I don’t want that to happen in public. Not because it will embarrass me, but because it’s stressful on her. It tires her out and she doesn’t need that. I have to watch her every moment because she can be out of sight faster than a two year old. I am careful of carts coming at her because she doesn’t recognize them and they scare her. I try to go down empty aisles so she can walk next to me and not feel like I’m pulling her along. I tell her to turn right or left when needed and I use my arm to gently push her one way or the other.  

When she says “I didn’t see that” or “I can’t see that” I know it’s not a vision thing, that it’s a recognition thing. I see how in just 7 ½ months my mom is losing her battle with dementia a bit more every day. On her good days, which are becoming fewer and fewer, I can see glimpses of my “old” mom. I treasure those glimpses. And on her bad days, I hide my tears or frustration or fear from her. She doesn’t need that. I write or color or go take a long shower to let it all out. All momma needs is to know she’s safe, loved and taken care of. And that’s why I’m here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Basic is better for me

A few days ago I wrote a post for my other blog about not using your cell phone while driving. In it I mentioned that I used to be attached to my smart phone and was missing so much of what was important. I want to talk about what I've noticed since I've switched back to a basic phone. You can find the post I am referring to by clicking on this link: Put Down the cell phone and I won't hurt YOU!

When I switched from my smart phone back to my basic LG EnV3 it was to save money. I have been trying to find ways to save money so that we can save up for trips. What I didn't realize is how much it would change my day to day life.

My smart phone could be found in my hand almost 24 hours a day. I took it to the bathroom with me, ate with it on the table (at home or in public), fell asleep holding it, and even texted while driving. Yep, I was addicted to it. I played games, used it for FB, texted, searched the web, read the news, and made calls on it occasionally. While watching TV I was on it instead of enjoying the program I was “watching”. I can’t even tell you what happened on the show because I was glued to my phone. I would be on it instead of listening to what Mom was saying to me.

How wrong was I? VERY! I missed hearing what my mom was trying to say. I didn't hear her ask for lunch one day. When she’d ask me a question I would ignore her because I was more interested in seeing which word would get me the most points. It’s my job to take care of her, to make sure she feels safe and secure with me. I was failing at it miserably.

Since switching, it’s a different world. I listen to my mom. Her stories can be quite entertaining. For example, I have learnt that she had a friend named Biff; that she found a man living in a culvert pipe by the hospital she worked at and that she ran for 5 miles a day up until I moved here. Now I know that’s some of what she has told me is not true, but I laugh and nod because it makes her feel good. But I’m also able to hear her concerns. Instead of being so lost in my own self important world, I’m learning to see things her way.

Dementia isn't easy. It’s scary for the sufferer and the caregiver. Right now, we’re “lucky” because one of the medications Mom is on is helping make the symptoms less noticeable. I know it won’t be that way forever. One day, probably sooner than later, the medicine is going to stop working and I’ll have a new Mom to adjust to. On a good day, she sometimes is brave enough to tell me what scares her and I do my best to reassure her. On her bad days, nothing I say can take the fear away from her. It’s part of the disease.
Today is a good day for mom. She’s upstairs listening to her audio book and I’m down in my office writing as well as getting laundry done. I can hear her laugh and that makes me feel good. Before the switch, I didn't realize how much she was missing reading. I saw the book in her hand but didn't notice she never turned the page. After the switch, I found an audio book and mom got her “book” back. On a good day, she will spend an entire day listening to them as she sits in her office and watches out the window. She can visualize the character; she talks with me about the story line. This gives her a topic to discuss. One she likes. One I can talk about with her.

If I still had my smart phone, I would have missed the woman at my dad’s office yesterday. My eyes would have been glued to who was doing what on Facebook instead of noticing that this woman got a small bakery box handed to her by a nice looking man. I never would have asked her what bakery it was from, and mom wouldn't have gotten a paczki. By being in the moment, I made mom happy as well as myself because you just can’t pass up a custard filled paczki. It was fun to go find the bakery with mom, I entertained her with my antics- I kept pointing out people on the side walk we could ask where the bakery was. Mom even pointed out two police officers we could have asked and we both ended up giggling. These are the moments I was missing.

I’m so glad I went back to the basic….

Friday, January 25, 2013


It's been 7 days since I last wrote for this blog. Which can mean good or bad things are happening. Or nothing is happening. And nothing really has been happening…. Until today.

Last night Dad brought up that Mom needs to go see the doctor, more directly I need to set up a doctor's appointment. We had discussed switching doctors for mom. But after mom's reaction, we'll stick with the one we have. It's not that I don't like him or that mom doesn't like him. To the contrary, she adores him. It's cute to see her flirt with him. He's very kind and jokes with her. It's his office that I don't like. The billing department pissed me off months ago. See "Take the Damn Payment" for further information.  Since then, they've not called me once for payment. They learn fast there.

Today while we were out shopping mom brought up the doctor again. This was our conversation as we were walking out of Wal-Mart.

"Dad says I have to go to the doctor. He says I need to be seen." Her tone is sullen, like a teenager that doesn't want to take a test. She is twirling her DumDum sucker in her fingers while she says this. 

"Yes mom, you need to get your meds refilled. We need new prescriptions to mail in."  I hold my arm out but she will not take it.

"Dad says my heart numbers need to be checked." She said while walking in the middle of the aisle of the parking lot.

"I know your blood work needs to be done and that your blood pressure needs to be evaluated." I wave at her to get her to come closer to me. It doesn't work. She will not look at me. I try to keep the patience in my voice.

"But I don't want them to do those memory tests. Those are useless. Why do I need to be able to remember words?" she is now veering even farther away from me and a car is coming at us.

"Mom can you help me with the cart? I gotta get my keys out." I try to look like I can't do both things at once. She comes over by me to direct the cart but as soon as my keys are out, she's working her way back to the middle of the aisle.

"I don't want to see anyone new. Just take me to the one. You know that guy." She looks at me with a pleading in her eyes.

"Yes mom, I'll take you to see Dr. Blah Blah (name omitted for privacy). Will you please stop walking in the middle, that car is trying to get past you. NOW mom!" I let go of the cart and go grab her arm to steer her towards my car and the cart.

"Oh…." She looks around. "I didn't even see him. He could have honked at me."

When she said that I thought to myself,  "yeah and I'd be dialing 911 cause that'd scare the piss right outta ya but would save me having your heart checked" but I know better and did not say this thought aloud. 

She got in the car by herself, which in itself is a feat. I was grateful the driver of the car didn't honk or cuss as her when he got out. I gave him a gracious smile and he returned it with a nod. I know my mom doesn't want to see a new doctor because that means talking about her dementia. She knows this doctor already and is comfortable with him. I have put her mind at ease that there won't be a new doctor.

But as I put the cart away I couldn't help but think I am a mom. I am a mom to a 68 year old. Taking her shopping is harder than taking a four year old to the store. At least you can plop their ass in the cart and buckle them in. Wouldn't that be a sight… a 68 year old woman in the cart with a DumDum sucker in her mouth telling me about her ambulance driving days. LOL 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Penalty Box

I feel bad. I shouldn't have chuckled. I know when Dad reads this, he'll probably give me that "eat shit and die" look when he gets home from work. But it cracked me up. I'm sorry… it just did.

Today was a good day for mom. She listened to her audio book and watched "Numbers" and "The Bells of St. Mary's". I even got her to watch a few episodes of "Clean House" with me. (I love that show!) We also took Dad to lunch today. I had errands to run and it was such a beautiful day it was a great way to get all of us (the dog too) out of the house for a few hours.

We got home from running my three errands and mom said she just wanted to "stare at the TV and not have to think too much." I could tell she was tired but she will never admit it. It can be extremely annoying to see her be so tired and refuse to take a nap. I digress. I turned on an episode of "Numbers" and she looked at me and said "I miss my husband." I believe she does during the day. Some days more than others. But today when she said it, it had an under tone to it. One I hadn't heard in awhile. 

I went to lay down for 45 minutes due to a stupid headache. As I lay there I could hear her talking to herself. She thinks I am not listening or that I am ignoring her. "I hate being left alone. Why do they leave me alone? They always tell me No and leave me alone." I didn't get up to comfort her. I have heard these ramblings before and have learnt that there are days I can not make her feel better. Today was one of those. I knew by her tone she had gone in to her snarky, tired, neglected mood. I wasn't going to be able to make it right. I do not feel bad that I took a nap.

When I woke up, the TV was silent and she was wandering the kitchen. I asked if she'd like to watch her movie or something else. The movie won, which meant I had roughly two hours to myself. I made the bed, I played on the computer and I thought. There was something about the way she had said she was missing my dad that was nagging at my mind. As I played "Words with Friends" it hit me. There was a bit of jealousy and a bit of something more. Not anger, but something. I can't tell you with a word what it is. It's something my mom has always been good at. It's the tone she uses, the attitude behind the words that will make you stop and wonder. I keep wanting to call it revenge but that word implies a wrong was done.

You see Dad told us at lunch he'd be home late. No big deal, at least not to me. If he needs to go to a work thing, so be it. I've been in corporate America and understand that even if you don't want to go, you go. You have to do those things to show you're a team player and that the company matters. You go. I get it. But mom, she's never gotten that. When it was just her and Dad, he wouldn't stay too long. He'd go, but not for long. Now that I'm here, he can go as long as he likes. He doesn't drink so I don't worry about him driving. I think it's good for him to go out and do these type of things. But not mom. She gets jealous that she's not with him. I used to think she was just nosy  As I grew up I saw she was much more insecure than I thought. In my opinion she doesn't think he should do anything without her but go to work. She and I used to argue about me having a girl's night out when I was married. She said there is nothing good to come of it. I never understood why it wasn't okay. I still disagree with her. I'm all for a GNO for the sake of keeping one's own sanity.

Dad got home at 7:15. Mom was glad to have him home. At 7:50 she went to bed. She was tired, it was all over her face and she kept nodding off. At 8:30 Dad went to bed. And not 5 minutes later I heard her voice from their bedroom down the hall. I laughed. I knew it was going to happen. It's her way of showing she's mad I guess. She starts a conversation the minute your head hits the pillow. No matter how exhausted you are, she wants to talk and if you ignore her she just talks louder. She pinched me to keep me awake the one time I tried to ignore her. (She was staying with me in WI while I dealt with my depression and I had worked two hours later than expected.) When she feels you've given her enough attention, she'll stop. But don't try to stop her before she's ready, that only leads to more talking or even to an argument that can last for hours. It's her version of the penalty box.

I hope Dad wasn't as tired as I think he was. She talked, loudly, for at least 20 minutes to him about the woman who died that she knew. I feel for him. But I laughed. I'm still chuckling. Dementia is changing my mom. Just not all of her yet….

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today mom is sitting in "her" living room. The sun is shining brightly through the window and she is soaking it up. I hooked up her stereo the other day and now she can listen to her CD's while enjoying the sun and view.  She loves music. She always has. I've noticed that listening to the radio can confuse her now. She'll hear something on the news snippets and not understand it. Then she asks me about it. I don't listen to the radio in the morning. That's something her and dad do before they get out of bed. They've done that for the majority of their 45 years together.( I tried doing that, but I have a tendency to fall back to sleep if I stay in bed. LOL) To give her music without the talk, it's CD's in her 400 CD player and she's happy. She doesn't own 400 cd's, but I do- if not more. I have it about 1/3 full. I will continue to load it with music I know she will enjoy: Reba, King George, Garth, classic country artists like Vern Gosdin, George Jones, Conway, Patsy Cline; IL Divo, Michael Buble, Rod Stewart. Oh and I can't forget her favorite song, "I'm Sexy and I know it!" by LMFAO. She sings this on her sassy days and cracks me up.

I have shared my eclectic taste of music with mom over the years. She doesn't see the  point in some of it, but when she does like something she lets me know. I have shared Nickelback (I don't want to hear it- I like 'em- let it go!), Kelly Clarkson, Gregorian Chants, System of a Down, Pat Green, Eric Church and soundtracks to some of my favorite movies- Runaway Bride, Dance with Me, The Wedding Date, An Officer and A Gentleman. Now she doesn't like the rock, but she does like anything country and some of the pop songs. She doesn't get CeeLo Green. And she really doesn't get rap. That's okay. I listen to it on my iPod downstairs. If we're on a road trip and she's awake, I skip the ones she doesn't like. She is a mom after all and I really don't want to hear how bad it is to hear cuss words in songs. She strongly dislikes Buckcherry's song "Crazy Bitch." Of course I love that song.

What I adore most about mom's love of music is her desire to dance. I get my love of dancing from her side of the family. She's polish and if you've ever been to a good old fashion polish wedding you'll understand. They love to polka and dance! Her dad, Grandpa L, used to put me on his knee and bounce me to the sounds of polka. I grew up listening to "She's too fat for me", "Who Stole the Kiska" and "In Heaven There is No Beer." I know all the words and can't help moving my feet to them. I learned how to polka from my mom and her brother, my godfather. I took to it like a duck to water.  When mom hears these songs she grins and moves with them too. I know they bring back fond memories of her father for her. We have great memories of weddings and polkas.

Because of my mom's love of dance, she always told me to marry a man that can dance. She didn't. Dad has "lead in his ass and his feet" is what's she's always said. But he always slow danced with her at every wedding or party. One of my fondest childhood memories is of seeing them dancing in the kitchen to an oldie. I grew up wanting a husband that would do the same. My first husband… his version of a slow dance was awkward. We never fit right. I have an ex-boyfriend that I fell in love with on our first date because we danced together. I thought I'd marry him. Dancing we were perfect together.  Goals of life and passions…. So far apart no dance was able to save us. My ideal man has changed as I've aged, but I still want someone who will walk into the kitchen or laundry room, and take me in his arms and dance with me.

Music has always been part of life for Tony and I. I grew up falling asleep to the radio. Now I have a playlist on my iPod that is titled "Sleepytime" that I can't sleep without. When Tony was told his cancer was terminal, he gave me a list of songs to play at his funeral. And we talked about songs he would send me as signs. He does when I need him most. Mom has discussed with me some of the songs she'd like played. She wants to be remembered with music. I like this idea very much. Just as I liked it for Tony. She wants "In Heaven There is No Beer", "Sexy and I know it", a few Reba songs and a few older ones. I'm working with her on the list.

Which of course leads me to think about how I want to be remembered in song. So here's a few that I think I'd like to have my loved ones remember me with.

  1. "Love is Never Ending" by Brad Paisley- the title says it all.
  1. "I believe" by Diamond Rio- because I do believe in angels and signs.
  1. "Remember Me" by Kenny Rogers (others have sang it to)- again, the title says it all
  2. "Bare Necessities" from the Jungle Book- This movie is an all time favorite of mine. This is my favorite song from the movie. If I'm watching the movie I will dance in my chair to it. If I hear it on my iPod, I dance to it. It brings out the child in me. I will forever be a child at heart and hope to remind others that it's a good thing.
  1. "She's Too Fat for Me" by Frank Yankovic- it's not politically correct and it's my favorite polka.
  1. "How You Ever Gonna Know" by Garth Brooks- this is a song I turn to when I doubt myself. It reminds me that unless I take a chance I'll never know what might have been. I want to be remembered for not being too scared to try. 
  2. "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry- This is a feel good, dance to it song. It’s a happy song and I'd like to think I'll be remembered for being happy and silly.
  1. "Find out Who You're Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence- he's my favorite and this song is my life. I have true blue friends who'd be there in a minute. I hope they feel the same about me.
  1. "The Holes That He Dug" by Tracy Lawrence- this song is all about not judging another person. I've tried my very best to live by this song.
  1. "I Came Here to Live" by Trace Adkins- at the end of my life I want people to remember I came here to live. To try. To fail. To try again. To learn. To love. To LIVE!

What songs would you like your loved ones to remember you with?

Memories can be made with music. Music is profound. It is silly. It is deep. It is shallow. It is country, rock, alternative, hip-hop, rap, classical. It is sad and happy. It is romantic. It is revenge. IT IS LOVE!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

You have MAIL!

I received two greeting cards in the mail today. There is nothing quite like going to your mailbox and finding cards, not bills. It is an instant smile maker. It lifts ones spirits immeasurably. And it makes the receiver think of the sender with kind thoughts.

I am a HUGE fan of the written letter. A card signed with a personal note. Thought put into the perfect words to let someone know you are thinking about them. There's  nothing that compares to that. A phone call is nice and easy. A text, way too easily misunderstood. But putting pen to paper, expressing one's thoughts and feelings, that takes time and effort. It has become a lost art.

One of the best memories of my mom will be the cards she sent to me while we were a few cities or a thousand miles apart. As the disease is progressing she's lost her ability to put pen to paper in the form of a letter. Don't get me wrong, she can still write and does. But it's on post-it notes all over with random thoughts that only make sense to her when she writes them. Yesterday I found two that she had made grocery lists on. I have no idea how old they are because the things on them are things she asks for every day.

I used to get a card for my birthday, holidays- big or small, or just because. Those were my favorites; the ones that she slipped a $20 in so I could get myself the new book I wanted. Or get my nails done. Or whatever I had told her I was short on funds to do or get. Every card was always signed "Love you Gert, Mom". (She's called me Gert or Gertie since I was young. I don't know where it came from, but it stuck.)

I picked up her love of greeting cards. I enjoy browsing the card aisle looking for the perfect one. I send thank you cards, sympathy cards, birthday cards, thinking of you cards, smart ass cards, get well cards. Well, I used to. I've resolved this year I'm getting back in to the habit. I have a great stock pile of cards thanks to mom. Her shoebox of cards is now mine. I am happy to put them to good use.

I may never get a spontaneous card from mom again. But she will from me. When she gets mail, it's like Christmas for her. I will slip one in the mail for her every once in awhile. I want to make her smile.

I wish her friends would send them more often. But as is par for the course with dementia patients, her friends don't reach out to her anymore. They send me the card to show their support instead. I do appreciate it don't get me wrong. What I don't enjoy is having to hide my mail from her, because if by chance she notices who the card is from it hurts her that the card or note isn't for her. 

It's sad how as her memory is disappearing so are some of the connections she relied on. Now she looks to me to fill the void. So I read her my cards when I can. I mailed out a lot of Christmas cards in the hopes we'd get a lot in return. We got 1/3. Not bad really, but I wish it had been more. Again, it's a lost art.

I'm blessed with great friends and family who understand phone calls and texts can be hard for me to do right now. Instead they're sending me cards with personal notes. And I'm loving it. I'm vowing to make those personal connections with those I love, they deserve my time and effort. It takes no more time than watching a sitcom on TV. Plus it's much more engaging for the brain. I'm doing my part to revive a lost art. For the price of a stamp you can too!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Funny $#*! my mom has said

After last night I need to set a lighter tone for today's blog. So here we go…

  1. "Who won?" asked of me after she sat in the bleachers the entire JV football game. Luckily we won. Mom was only there to support her cheerleader in 1992.

  1.  "KC go home yet?" said to my dad, while she was sleeping, on a road trip from Texas to Wisconsin to see Tony in July 1995. KC was my boyfriend and he was driving at the time. He and I chuckled for the rest of the trip over that one.

  1. "I'm going to have your dad drop you off at Christian Mingle!" said to me after seeing the dating site's commercial in November of 2012. Every time she see their commercial now, she looks and at me and burst into giggles.

  1. "When you're pissed up you can't talk right!" said to me just yesterday (Dec 31, 2012) after I stumbled over a word after being pissed off at a commercial. She and I laughed so hard we snorted!

  1. "It's EGG SALAD! Now shut the hell up!" yelled at me after she sat straight up, while still asleep, when I asked Dad what kind of sandwich he got at the gas station we'd stopped at on another road trip from Texas to Wisconsin. "It's Tuna!" Dad said to me and with that he and I cracked up for a good five minutes.

  1. "Don't be so rude Tony!" said in that wonderful angry mom tone to Tony after he answered her previous question, "So are you two sexually active?". Tony's reply was the truth, "Yep, every day and twice on Sunday!" She never believed him when he was that honest. I was in a fit of giggles for the entire day. Tony was in deep shit with this girlfriend, who slapped him as she stood next to him when he answered mom. Tony and I laughed over that one for years.

  1. "Did you wash your crack?" said to my dad as she used his lap for a pillow.  Tony and I were talking with Dad about whatever and suddenly mom asked her question. Tony was driving and he was laughing so hard he almost hit a guardrail. Dad was laughing so hard his belly was shaking which upset her and she told him to "Knock it off." I had tears running down my face. She denies this remark was ever made just as she does all the others she's made while asleep.

  1. "It's very important to always be clean!" said to my niece (who was 20) and I while the three of us sat on the floor of the new apartment and enjoyed Sonic chili and cheese hot dogs with mustard. As soon as the words passed mom's lips the last bite of her hotdog fell out of the bun on to her pants and on to the new carpet leaving yellow and brown stains at every bounce.  My niece and I cracked up and the rest of my niece's visit we kept telling Grandma how important it is to be clean. My niece and I even threatened to get hotdogs tattooed on our ankles in her honor.

  1. "I'm not your mom!" said to me in frustration in the bathroom of my house in Wisconsin in May 2010. I was doing my makeup and had my empty coffee cup on the counter. Mom was pestering me about it so I told her if she didn't like it there she could put it in the kitchen. She meant to say "I'm not your maid". I of course gave her nothing but hell for the next few days of her visit by saying that's why the boys always told me I came out of the cabbage patch. Some days she remembers that she's "not my mom!" and we end up in giggles.

And in first place, my favorite one of all time:

  1. "What's the difference between a Giant timeout and a regular timeout? " asked while Dad and I
watched the Dallas Cowboys play the New York Giants on some Sunday in 1997 or 1998. I could not answer because I was laughing so hard that I had an asthma attack. Dad pulled it together enough to answer her, "That's the team that called the timeout." Then he went back to laughing. We have not let her live this one down yet. I even won tickets to see Jeff Dunham in Dec. 2010 thanks to this story!

These are the memories that I am choosing to keep. This is how I will laugh through the tears after she's gone.