This is our journey through cancer and Alzheimer's. Barb had a rare cancer and passed away March 1, 2012. She did not loose her fight with cancer, she won and laughed in its face till her last breath. She lived valiantly!. Bruce, her loving husband of 50 years and 5 months, has Alzheimer's. I am one of their children, Kurt, and I write this blog not only for them - but for you. Thank you for taking this journey with us and we hope you will feel free to leave comments and thoughts.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
No beautifully sculputed words, no fancy sayings and quotes, and no inspiring messages to share. Just a man who is hurting because of the loss of his young mother. Just a man sharing his heart with you even right now when his heart is so wrinkled it is barely recognizable. You continue to share this journey with us and for that I am truly thankful.
I can still see her face, see her eyes looking into mine, and occasionally I can smell her moisturizing lotion mixed with her perfume.I held her hand in life and in death.I can clearly see her smooth, milk-white skin, and can feel her cheek upon my lips when I kissed her farewell.
The image of my father praying at the bedside of his love is forever etched on my heart.Dad didn’t accept the news at first.Day one he was sure she was going to come home.By day three he was aggravating mom by telling her she is fine and they will soon be back home.We decided the best thing to do was send Dad home for the night, get him back in to a sense of routine that is so important for Alzheimer’s patients. Each morning my sister-in-law Linda, who stayed with him at nights, would meet me in the front lobby. She would go ahead of us and I would put my arm around Dad and ask him how he was doing.One day four he finally got it – he said he knew Mom was dying and he just didn’t want it to happen.We gave most of the day four and day five to my dad.We would go in and out of her room, touching her hands, arms, forehead, cheek, even her feet and legs.We talked to her, not about her, each time we were in the room.No secrets – that was my promise to my mother and that’s the promise I kept. I am clear of conscience and heart on that matter.
The final hours were difficult as we all gathered and remained by her bedside.Her passing from this life to life eternal was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed in my life.As she took her last breath, received a kiss on her cheek from my sister, Terri; I took her cheek in my hand as I often did and I spoke to her.I looked in to her eyes that were now open and looking at me.I told her I loved her and that she should go meet her parents now and that we would soon be dancing together again.The sparkle faded from her eyes and mother was gone.The nurse confirmed it.
The nurses quickly prepared Mom while we waited in the hallway.When we re-entered she was lying straight, her head slightly further back than I liked so I fluffed her pillow, bringing her head back up a little more.We talked with her, we shared with one another.
I don’t know exactly how to feel or what to think or what to write.I try to be so uplifting and encouraging through this blog but all I am feeling is pain.It is a pain that I have never known before.A myriad of images, conversations, and thoughts flood my brain.I didn’t realize that my entire life was dedicated to my parents.She often spoke about her end days and how much she wanted to be cared for by family and not forgotten. She would joke, "you're gonna push me around in my wheelchair when I'm 90, right?" Well, Mom. You were only 66 but I pushed you in your chair. I guided your arms when you used your walker, and I held you up with both arms when walking was no longer an option for you. I held my shoulders high when your head dropped down, exhausted, in pain, confused, hurting, frustrated and out of steam. I held your hand and made you smile almost every single day of this journey. It was a heck of a ride, Mom. We have secrets and private moments that will remain that way forever. I made promises and kept them. You told me your wishes and I made most of them come true. I couldn't stop the cancer but you, as you always have done, walked your final steps with dignity, honor, and bravery. I have never been more proud to be your son.
When my mother was still able to speak while lying in hospice, she said to me that she wasn’t sure how one person could be loved as much as she.My heart danced for joy!She knew how much she was loved and that she was loved by so many people!
May you never stop telling people how much you love them.May you never stop showing them.May you never tire of being in their presence.May you always be taking mental snapshots of the times together, their face, their hands, the way they walked, and the way the smiled.
I will continue this blog because our focus shifts solely on to Dad now. I realized around day three with Mom that I was beginning the transition of care-giving for my mother to my father.This disease has Dad in its powers.Even today when I took him shopping for some pants he was not always sure where he was or what he was about doing.He recognized some things on our drive but not others.I will not hold back stories here because this is about truth.I hope you will continue following our blog.
We wil celebrate the life of this amazing woman on Saturday, March 10, 2012. For my mother I will play the following recording. She adored this song and continually told me how proud of me she was. Mom - this is for you.