Thursday, June 14, 2012

Welcome To Heaven Barbie

I need to go ahead and write about Mom and her death.
This may be too long and too much information.  Writing is more about me and my coping and processing. So with that, I am just gonna breathe it out of my cluttered head.

Most of you did not know her other than what I portrayed here in Blog World.  I recently went back and read some of it.  I still feel that what I wrote was honest and was loving.  I truly loved my Mom.  I wanted to better understand and realize that when she was crazy, it wasn't really my Mom, but the sickness of manic and depressive behavior.  She was thought to be bi-polar by some diagnose.  She was thought to be a manic depressant. She also was diagnose as a Boarderline Personality Disorder person.  And this fit her to a tee.

I want you to know that even when others felt my "Tough Love" was cruel, and when others felt my boundaries where unnecessary, I did what I knew best to protect myself as well as to help and not enable my Mom.

For most only knew this incredible loving and wonderful woman.  I am so glad of this.  I wanted all to know that side of her & prayed that others would not see the harsh or feel the pain.  Mom was a beautiful person.  She was full of love and very generous.  She was helpful, a rescuer.  She would give a stranger whatever they needed. She was a good Mom, and a good Wife.  I have a lifetime of the best memories a person could ask for.

However, with that being said.  She also had a deep side that was very troubling.  I don't blame her.  I blame her illness. Few knew, what my Sister and I really have been through over the past 50 years.  I am not looking for sympathy or even understanding. I wrote because it helped me.  It was really a way to help myself to understand and to heal.

Looking back, especially now that my mom has died, do I wish I had done things differently? Perhaps... but I can't go backwards only forward.  I forgave my mom a long time ago. When she was manic, I coped best I could.  It is extremely frustrating and heartbreaking to see someone you love self-destruct. Especially when your hand is out and it isn't accepted.  I'm sure I could have done things differently or even better.  But, the bottom line is I can't blame myself or anyone for Mom's problems or her death.  Only God knew the exact day, hour and even minute, my mom would be released of her demons and brought home to Heaven.

The weeks before Mom's death, my sister and I were in consent contact.  We are close and we "understand" much that others can not.  My parents moved just three weeks before she died.  She was on a ... mindset.  She had decided to go headfirst into another quick decision without thinking much ahead or allowing others to give input. It is thought that my Sis and I were not "cooperating" or being supportive.  That wasn't so much the case, rather we wanted my parents to rationalize their decisions and go forward cautiously crossing T's and dotting I's.  My mom decided to have a party, prior to the big move in which my Sister and I were not able to attend.  I had hoped she would wait and have this gathering following the move but, well, Mom does things her way.

There was much concern also as she was tired.  She recently was confined to have COPD and she has been very depressed.  She had decided to move herself from her apartment as well as my father from the Assisted Living where he was, and combine their households to a side by side independent living apartments.  We had a lot of concerns...

Sis started having strange dreams, and I started having an extreme desire to see Mom.  While she usually is very much in contact with us with emails and phone, she stopped the week they moved.  Not a peep, for more than a week.  And we couldn't get through.  Internet not yet connected, her cell was not in service, and Dad did not have voice mail on his line.  We got a hold of Dad on Friday the 11th of May.  I asked if we could stop by for a visit and to see the new place (they had been there two weeks now).  He was thrilled and put Mom on the phone.  She too said yes, I could come and she would like that.  So, the next day, May 12th, I packed my girls & self in the car and met Julie and her husband & daughter as we visited Mom & Dad for a while.  There place was dismayed and still packed.  Mom continued to have not felt up to unpack.  She agreed that maybe she could use some help and made arrangements with Julie while we were there for the following Thursday to come unpack.

Our visit was nice... Mom was so ..quiescent. Not at all talkative and animated as usual. But she was smiling and enjoying her visit wit us and the girls.

On Sunday, we chatted on the phone.  i called to wish her a Happy Mother's Day as I was heading to work.  She was apologetic and grateful.  I reminded her that she had nothing to apologize for and that I loved her always. On Wednesday, I got a thank you card from her for the Mother's Day gift and visit.  On Thursday, she cancelled getting together with Sis, to finish the unpacking.

On Friday, she was dead.

I was vacuuming at around 6:30pm. Annie had some friends stopping by and I was doing a run through on the house.  I saw I missed a call from Mom & Dad while the vacuum was running. The voice mail clicked.  I hit play...
Dad: " Yeah Jan, better call me. Mom just past away. I tried to get her help but she wouldn't do it. So please call."
Me: whatttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt?  I played it over on speaker for Hubby to hear, then we tried to call Dad, Mom, Sis... again and again. I left voice mail for Sis to call me back ASAP. I then got a hold of Dad finally.  Yes, mom, died... she passed out while standing in the bathroom.  The paramedics were there now.  So was the police.  Yes, Dad, I am on my way.  then Julie called.  I carefully gave her the dreadful news and we agreed to meet at their apartment asap.

When we got there.  The Police were very kind, as were the paramedics.  We were waiting on the Coroner.  She confirmed...  It appeared, Mom had stood up, got that dizzy feeling we sometimes gets, but because she was on oxygen when she gasped, she got a burst of extra oxygen that slammed into her heart, causing it to go into cardiac arrest.  She most likely died before hitting the floor around 6:00pm.

I asked if I could go in...
She said, No.
I said, "please, I would like to see my mother now."
She said, she did not advise it and preferred me to wait till the funeral director gets her to prepare her, them we can see her.
I said, "well, I really want to see my mom now.. not later.  I understand that my mom may not look good.  I understand that she may have had body fluids leave her body... that I have worked hospice, and I get it. But, I needed to see her now. Right now".
A bit more arguing then, she let me go see my mom.

I touched her hand that peeked out of the cover. It was cold.. I uncovered her sweet face... I stroked her temple. The way I use to as a child. It was something I would do to comfort her when she was overwhelmed or sad.  I would sit with her, sometimes even on her lap, and stroke her temple forehead. pulling the tension away, calming her ever so.  I sat there on the floor, stroking my mom.. I told her it was okay.  I told her she could go home now. I told her not to worry anymore.  That it was okay.  That I would take care of Dad, and it was time for her to go home. I told her I loved her. I felt her peace.  I felt mine.

I am very grateful for those few moments alone with my mom. I needed them.

They took Mom's body. and we were left with Dad.  He didn't want to leave.  He wanted to stay and assured us he was okay.  We agreed, and since it was late, we headed home.

The next few days were fuzzy.  Our main priority was to get Dad in proper care.  He is fairly independent, but because of his many health problems and the fact that Mom did much of everything for him, we needed him in a safer environment. We all agreed (with Dad's Blessings to start the process of moving him closer to me.  That where he was (40 minutes west of me and 70 minutes east of Julie, was not an idea location.  Moving him to the East side made more sense as many of his friends, family can now visit with him.  My Sis plans to move back closer to this area also before too long so it was agreed.  Also, Dad agreed to assisted living as he was familiar with it while he briefly lived in AL while in Greencastle.  He liked the idea of having his own apartment, and still having a dining hall (with great food), nursing on staff, as well as a bunch of other opportunities.  Also, my In Laws live just 3 doors down from Dad at this wonderful place. So it came highly recommended.

We also, had to go through funeral arrangements.  We knew what Mom wanted. She had it laid out in her lock box.  We honored her wishes as well as added some love. Annie made these wonderful book markers.  They were just the ticket... gave everyone a smile as this is the Barb they loved.

Mom had two beautiful services.  First, at her church in Greencastle, a beautiful service, by a loving Pastor. Second, a Celebration of Life, held in Indianapolis.  Here we gathered, shared Barb stories, tears, and laughs.
what was left of the Barbie Bangles
My mom had a lot of Flare.  She loved big earnings, noisy bracelets, and bright fun colors.  I had gathered dozens (maybe a hundred) bracelets and bangles that Mom had worn over the years.  I placed them in a big Fish Bowl with a note asking for all to take one, in remembrance of my mom. This was a huge hit.  I looked around the room, seeing her friends wearing the Barbie Bangles as we started calling them.  It was beautiful.  Over the next week, I got wonderful messages of how much they were loved and appreciated, as well as where they were going wearing them.

There were lovely flowers as well as donations made to Mom's favorite charities... The Putnam County Humane Society and The St Andrews Non Food Pantry where my mom gave much of her time to help those less fortunate than herself.

We had a bunch of picture boards.  Much fun to see the many faces of Barb.. And the many hair styles and  Mom LOVED to jazz it up! She enjoyed coloring her hair, perming her hair, a variety of hair styles as well as wigs.  She was adorable in these many photos.  Prior to the funeral, I had the picture boards at home.  I caught my cat, Mischa, starring at the many pictures... moving across, looking in depth to each one.

I was thrilled to see so much love at Mom's services.  Just seeing a roomful of people that loved her so was wonderful.  At one point, an old friend approached me.  She said some things... some cruel things.  Some blameful things.  It was very unexpected and hurtful. I was very gracious.  I tried to change the tone. But as I saw, it wasn't going to happen, I said, I was sorry she felt this way, HOWEVER, my Father is sitting right here... close-by.  He just lost his wife of 53 years.. I just lost my Mom... we are trying to celebrate her life as positive as we can, and that I do believe it was time for her to leave. I calmly asked her husband to take her  And I retreated to the restroom, where I broke down in a heap...  Who could be so cruel?  Why was she so mean?  I quickly had friends & Sis surround me, and the love was uplifting.  As things were being said, I suggested (through my tears), that we all mourn differently.  That she said what she felt must be said. That, it is done, and best we could do is to Pray for her, as surely, her words, needed prayer.  Who am I to pass judgement?  She spoke what she felt and knew.  As we reentered the room, composing myself, I must say I was a bit tickled to see a couple of my dad's buddies (Oldies that is) scanning the place, making sure this negative person had left the building.  It was very sweet to see them so protective. I knew my Mom.  She would never want someone to put blame or say such things. I'm just relieved this person ran into me rather than my Sister.

With Mom's funeral services complete, we focused on the task of getting Dad moved as well as taking over Power of Attorney and taking care of his financial and medical needs.  I have been introduced into the world of the Veteran's Hospital, and the medicare system.  Dad gave us quiet a scare...Thankfully, we were at the new Assisted Living facility, visiting and got to see first handedly how prompt and caring they are. Dad went into a diabetic crash, sugar down to a 37 (35 is diabetic coma).  We got to know the local fire department as well as the paramedics.  I was terrified as I thought I was about to lose my Dad just two weeks following Mom.  Within 35 hours he went the opposite way with a high sugar at 408.  We are so grateful to now have him in a place where he can be regulated.  With a dining schedule and medication schedule as is he is flying toward a healthier sugar levels as well as general health.  And he is starting to show some happiness.  He is starting to laugh again.

Cousin Shari with Dad
My precious cousin Shari came to visit us and to help us with dad.  I didn't realize how much we needed her till she actually got here.  She is a blessing.  Dad said she "Sharitized" his place, as she spent much time with him and getting things organized.  (Dad can't tell Shari NO like he does Sis & I).

My role as a daughter has changed.  I am now also a caretaker.  I am a power of attorney.  Dad depends on me and Sis now. I'm now a Motherless daughter. Not an easy role, but one that I must accept.

The road is not over, it has just begun.

I will honor Mom.  I will take good care of Dad.  I will make Mom proud.

whew... this was long, but so therapeutic. thanks for lending your ear. 


Scott said...

Quite the emotional trek! My sister has always used writing as a form of self therapy, also. I hope by spilling your thoughts and emotions onto the "printed page" it helped lighted some of your burden. It is so hard to lose a parent, but we are at that point in our lives. In the end, this is what is supposed to happen (the parent should never have to bury the child.) It is another life lesson, albeit a tough one. I guess we keep growing and learning right up to the end. Thanks for sharing your "lesson" with us. I hope each day just gets better and better.

mary i said...

Thank You for writing and sharing this with me/us. My mom was kind of like yours... I truly enjoyed the way you put feelings into words.As I write this tears.. Be strong for your Dad,and yourself...If he his laughing a good lesson, Life goes on... Peace from T-town Alabama..

dopenbri said...

Janis,I know so much about how you are feeling. My daughter found my mother-in law a few years ago, when she died. It was so nice to be able to have a few moments with her to say our good byes. I like to say thank you for the bracelet, I thought that was a great idea. I think your mom was a wonderful lady; the bracelet makes me think of her when I wear it. Time is the only thing that makes it better; you will have your good days and bad days. But if you ever need anything just let me know. Your friend always, Lee

Brutus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Myeloma Widow's Journey said...

Beautifully written, Janis. I understand those last moments with your Mom and how very important they were to you. Good for you for insisting upon getting them. Blessings to you and your family.



The demands of my own life have prevented me from visiting your blog for quite a while. Thanks for sharing such a difficult time with such eloquence and grace. We all face loss, sometimes the losses seem unbearable. But you find great strength in your family and your faith. Your candor and openness will help those of us lucky enough to have read your words the next time we find ourselves dealing with such a painful loss. My thoughts and prayers with you and your family. Thank you.