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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Family Story Lives On

A wise friend told me yesterday that now I have become my mother; the family story lives on with me, filtered through my spirit and life experiences. As Jaran attempted to contain Jordan as we made funeral arrangements today, I thought of that.

Jordan charms everyone she meets. Today she was dressed in a charming pink-and-brown dressed pants set, complete with pink ruffles. She was wearing her squeakie shoes that works better than GPS at locating her. She paused at every person she met, waved happily and said "hi." When they waved back, she was ready to follow them into their offices.

Watching her made me think of a story Mom told about me. I wasn't much older than Jordan--maybe 2 years old?--when I decided to go on an outing into town. I grabbed a purse and toddled down the road to the local diner. By the time Mom (or my babysitter, don't know which), found me, I was sitting high atop a swivel seat drinking pop. Happy, unaware I had done anything dangerous.

I can see Jordan doing exactly that. Except she would add one of her mother's necklaces to her ensemble and she'd be dressed in slacks or shorts instead of a dress.

Mom, your legacy lives on. In me, In your grandson. In your granddaughter. In your unborn grandchild whose first ultrasound "picture" I saw today.

The Lord blesses the righteous.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mom's Gone Home

This morning I got THE call. Someone from the hospital called to say "you'd better get here as soon as you can."

"You mean she's ..."

"We know she's DNR and we're keeping her as comfortable as we can. It's the rush hour. Take a deep breath, drive safe. She's not alone."

I jumped into my clothes and drove sedately through two school zones to reach the hospital. I couldn't help thinking about last Monday's blog, how I said I felt it was time, and then how all week her vital signs have been stable and she seemed to be getting stronger ... Yesterday she was hallucinating (barbecuing fish inside an animal's stomach?)and in a great deal of pain from a kidney infection.

The nurse said she suffered a heart attack. She lay on the bed, raspy, difficult breathing. I held her hand. "I love you, Mama." And I sang to her, songs from our old CMA days, Fanny Crosby songs. Songs of my childhood.

A friend from church came in, and then the pastor. Mom's breathing slowed even further and her pulse dropped further. I began singing again: Amazing Grace. Oh, How I Love Jesus. Oh, How He Loves You and Me. As I finished singing, Pastor Jason touched my arm and pointed me to the monitor showing all heart activity had stopped. He said, "You sang her home." Her homegoing was very peaceful.

Jaran arrived moments later.

We don't have any details yet as far as services.

Thank you all for praying with us through this difficult time. I am numb but at peace with the way everything happened.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Letting Go--Mom

Mom may be dying.

Of course the doctors won't say so, and at the moment her vital signs are stable. I may be wrong. But mild dementia has become pretty severe; she's worn out, body and mind; and in constant pain.

When Mom struggled so after her heart valve surgery, and I feared I would lose her, I prayed, "Lord, I'm not ready. It's too soon after losing Jolene." And God spared her, and spared me that unbearable pain.

This time, Mom went into the hospital because of pain in her back, hips and legs. When I saw her that night, every breath a groan of pain fraught with effort, I prayed, "Lord, take her home if this is what her life will be like." I can't imagine life without her--but I don't want her to suffer like this.

They've determined the pain is due to a hematoma on a muscle in her pelvis and untreatable. But by the time they figured that out, a host of other problems had erupted. She almost coded last Monday. She can't swallow at all, so she's being fed via a feeding tube, her mouth is dreadfully dry, and she's on oxygen. She refused to let the cardiologist do an angiogram.

Visits are hard. She lies on the bed, eyes wide open. Every small noise startles her. Her speech is difficult to understand. She doesn't want the television on. We've tried reading to her, but she doesn't like that either. So I sit in silence, speaking every now and then. I'm largely numb.

On Friday Mom turned 78; and she moved to a long term acute care hospital. She's in the ICU at Kindred Hospital.

Thanks for your care and your continued prayers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January Books

Before I dive into my favorite books read in January, let me mention a new book I'm eager to read (it's on the shelves now--hurry and get it!)

Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell promises another heartwarming historical romance from the Love Finds You series from Summerside Press. Margaret Garvey is torn between old and new loves. Through in a dash of disaster and mystery, and it's a must-read. I'll let you know next month after I've had a chance to read it.

As for books read this month: With only reading nonfiction 10 minutes or so a day, I usually take a long time to get through an entire book. But I found a couple of quick reads which both resonated with me:
When Answers Aren't Enough by Matt Rogers. Written by the chaplain at Virginia Tech, the subtitle says it all: "Experiencing God as good when life isn't." Short, wisdom-filled chapters echoed many of the lessons God taught me after Jolene's death. I highly recommend it.
90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey. I shy away from sensationalism so I only read this book because my mother bought it and I wanted to see what made it a bestseller. Let me say now, it's NOT sensational. Reading Piper's description of meeting his loved ones in heaven gave me great comfort. I am now looking forward to Jolene running to greet me when my time comes.

Coming back to my favorite genre--mysteries--I read two excellent Christian mysteries: Candy-Coated Secrets by Cindy Hickey, one of the cozy mysteries produced by Barbour; and The Lost Sheep, hard-boiled P.I. by Brandt Dodson from Harvest House.