I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving this year with your families and friends. We did have a good one although it’s bittersweet too as things are changing drastically for us. We went to my cousin, Brenda’s house for Thanksgiving and enjoyed a feast as we always do when we go there. We used to gather with her parents and our parents at her house and it was always a happy and joyous occasion with her kids, all of us along with Lauren and her family as well. Mom and her dad are siblings and they’ve always been close. Brenda lost her mom and then her dad in the last 6 years, so things have been changing since then. Mom and dad are still here, but we know that can change at any moment, so I wanted to take time to let you all know how they are doing. My last post was a bit real and raw and this one is even more than that.
Mark and I had Thanksgiving dinner with mom and dad at Dogwood Forest this year as we did the last couple of years. Dad looks good doesn’t he? Mom has definitely had a rough 6 months as I mentioned in my last update about her and their 70th anniversary celebration in September. Their anniversary was September 5th, but we celebrated a month later. Mom wasn’t doing great then, after a UTi that really had her down for weeks. She was so out of it mentally with confusion and all that comes with that ailment. She finally got better from that, but then never really rallied and improved a lot since then. Dad is always ready to eat, so I was glad she was doing well enough to come to the dining room and we could all eat together. She’s been having a lot of meals brought to her room the last month.
One of mom’s dearest friends, Dot Henry, came to to see her before Thanksgiving and mom was so glad to see her. It had been a year since they had seen each other, since Dot has some physical things that keep her from going a lot.
During this time, in October we upgraded mom’s care level at Dogwood to Level 1, which gives her additional help with dressing, toiletry, and getting to bed at night, so that’s been a big help. She also gets her meds administered now since she was having trouble remembering that. She’s always done it herself until now, but it was time.
Also, during the last couple of weeks, we have called in hospice. We felt it was time for them to evaluate her and see how she was doing and she definitely qualified for hospice, since her health has steadily declined over the last 6 months. She’s had one thing after another to overcome, from shingles, to pneumonia, uti’s and more. I took her to a pulmonologist in the last month when she complained of shortness of breath and he confirmed she has pulmonary fibrosis and they did a blood test that indicated her heart is not pumping as it should and she’s in congestive heart failure as well. At 95, this is not a big surprise, but it just means she’s declining pretty rapidly and it’s showing every day. At that point, she was put on oxygen and she has an oxygen machine as well as portable oxygen tanks we can take with her. She doesn’t have to be on it every minute but it sure helps her breath better.
She was not even sure she was going to make it until Thanksgiving and she told me, Renee, and Lauren her goodbyes. It’s been a tear jerking month or two. We’ve all been heart broken to see her like this, but she’s ready to go and she tells us that regularly. I know she’s just tired of living in a body that is failing her every day. It’s so hard to watch. I know so many of you have gone through this too and it’s the circle of life, but it sure is not easy. I’ve been the main caregiver and having hospice involved the last 3 weeks has been a load off my shoulders. They are checking on her regularly and they will give her showers every week, which is so helpful. She was getting help from Dogwood, but this is even better to have hospice more involved with her needs and they can monitor her vital signs and all of that.
She did make it til Thanksgiving and Renee and Bruce were home as well as Lauren and Philip and the girls. They saw her every day they were home. Renee was here a week, which was nice and she brought food in several days so we could meet in the common area of mom’s 3rd floor and have some meals together. Mom really enjoys that and it’s a change of pace from the dining room. Mom definitely doesn’t love the food there all that much, but I think it’s just part of her decline. She said nothing tastes good anymore. Dad, however, has no problem with the food and regularly cleans his plate as well as partakes in all the dessert. He is still stable and doing well.
Mom was so convinced she was going soon and wanted me to bring dad over to see her, so I did the Monday morning before Thanksgiving week. They had not seen each other in a few days, so she wanted to be sure and see him just in case. They talked and had the sweetest conversation which I got a lot of it on video. Our family will cherish this one. They remembered how good their lives have been together and how God has provided and taken care of them. They both remarked on what good lives they have been able to enjoy all this time. He feels so bad to see her like this.
God has been faithful to these dear folks of mine! What a blessing! I know you’re probably crying by now, believe me I get it. They said their sweet goodbyes to each other that day, but it wouldn’t be the last time they see each other. God hasn’t taken her yet. They both told each other how much they loved each other that day and it was precious.
When the family finished lunch this day before Thanksgiving, mom told dad she wanted a hug before he left to go back to Memory Care. This picture is the sweetest thing ever. Two souls who are joined together forever and love each other til their last breath is gone. We always thought dad would probably go first, but it’s not looking that way now.
Mom really rallied the week of Thanksgiving and wanted so badly to go to my cousin’s house that day. She made it and we all headed over to Suwanee to my cousin, Brenda’s for that delicious feast. Dad is not able to get out that much now so we didn’t attempt to take him. He would have been so unhappy with all the kids running around and all the noise of people talking. He can’t hear very well and refuses to wear hearing aids, so he is isolated a lot because of that. We knew it wouldn’t be a good idea to insist he go, even though mom really wanted him to. We told her he would be miserable and ready to leave after an hour.
Little Alex is 3 years old now and is the cutest thing. She had an untimely accident on Thanksgiving Day and after hearing her sisters talk about jumping on the backyard trampoline so much, she was highly anticipating that fun play time after lunch. She could not wait to get out there! Her dad took her outside and all the kids played on the trampoline. As they were about to finish, Alex jumped one last time and came down on her leg and screamed in pain. Turns out after a visit to the pediatric urgent care, she had broken her tibia bone. They went home the next day and had it looked after as soon as they could and she’s in a cast for a couple of weeks. She’s doing fine and apparently that’s a common accident in kids on trampolines! Reminded us of one other Thanksgiving Day when Lauren was still in college and she did the backyard zipline at the cousin’s house and fell off and dislocated her elbow. That was another memorable day for our family!
Mom enjoyed being there and visiting with Doris, Bruce’s mom. She’s one year younger than mom at 94 and still lives alone in her house.
We’ve taken many family pictures in front of this fireplace, so we did another one this year. It very well may be the last one with mom or dad in the picture. Thanksgiving just won’t be the same as it was, but we will continue to celebrate as time goes on. Dad went with us 2 years ago in 2021, right after they moved to Dogwood and it was a sweet time together.
You can see how the girls have grown and how mom and dad have declined since this picture in 2021. They’ve been in Dogwood 2 years October 1st and it was definitely the right decision. I tell people that when folks get to their 90’s that each year is about 5 years in aging and that seems to be the case. Two years have made a big difference in mom.
Mom has seen so many people pass away at Dogwood the last year. She just lost one of her dear friends, the mayor’s mom, Miss Jo, passed away a few weeks ago and mom was so sad to see her go. They were good buddies and talked about their faith a lot. Mom wanted to go to the funeral, so we both went and it was so very sweet. Jo was a special lady.
This stage of life is not easy. No one prepares us for looking after and parenting our parents, but it’s a part of growing older for all of us. We didn’t see any of this modeled personally, as our parents left home when they got married and never moved back around their extended family, so my sister and I did not see the aging process on our grandparents like we are experiencing with our parents. Our parents have outlived their parents by several years too. Their siblings took care of all their parents until they died, so we did not experience that growing up as young adults to see this process first hand.
It’s hard, no doubt about it. Harder than you can anticipate until you get to this point in life. It’s hard being older and having another person’s well being put on your shoulders. Looking after all their medical needs and finances isn’t fun to navigate. That’s not an easy burden to bear, but I’ve done the best I could with being the only caregiver nearby and my sister moving away. I don’t blame her, I wished them well as they moved and built their dream home near Lauren and her family. Lauren, Renee and I discuss our parents’ well being all the time and I know they are thankful I look after them well. We talk about things together as we have moved through this process with mom. It’s hard no matter what, but we will continue on this path until the Lord takes them both home. We don’t know how long mom has, but hospice has assured us they will alert us as they see mom declining even more and headed to the end days. We will miss both of them when they are gone, but we would rather lose her tomorrow if it means she isn’t suffering anymore. Right now, she’s suffering and it’s hard to watch. I know it’s really hard for her too, her body failing and not being able to do for herself anymore. She’s always been a strong woman who did so much all the way up until they moved from their house. She doesn’t like to ask for help, but she does ask now, she has no choice but to rely on other people to help her.
Thank you all for the prayers over the years. You all have loved my parents and showed them so much tenderness and concern over the years I’ve been sharing them with you. Thank you for that!