Friday, September 14, 2012

Visiting Mom

Mom, September 14th, 2012

Mom was far, far away when I came to see her today.



lost inside herself.

She came to for moments, smiled as I placed a few familiar, much beloved objects into her hands.  But mostly she closed her eyes and drifted away.

Mom, dozing in the sun

I brought her outside, as I always do.

"It feels so good," she said, as I placed her in the warming sun. "I'm always so cold."

Mom, beautiful in profile

It's been hard since this latest fall. She has not been eating enough, her weight is down. She looks in the mirror and cries, not seeing her own beauty, finding only an old woman in a wheelchair.

I met with her team, we're making adjustments. They had her on a low-fat, low salt, "heart healthy" diet and needed my permission to take her off of it (as well as the doctor's go ahead).

This is one example of what is so wrong with our compartmentalized, knee-jerk medical system. Looking at the individual diagnosis instead of the whole person. High cholesterol = low fat diet.

I laughed because I didn't want to cry in that office. I was glad they were actually on the same page:  that putting a woman with a progressive heart condition who was clearly in the last year or so of her life - and who was losing weight due to poor appetite - on a restricted diet was beyond ludicrous.

It's all about quality of life now. We all agreed. Milkshakes are now on her meal plan. Ice cream sundaes. As much salt as she wants to make the food tastier.

And an adjustment to her medications to try to wake her up a bit.

I hope it all works.

I miss my mom.

I'm not ready to say goodbye.

Not yet.

I want more stories, a few more laughs.

To feel her shoulders relax as I massage them.

"Mmmm that feels so good." she said, patting my hand.

Before she drifted off, once again, to sleep.


  1. Lots of love for a calmer year ahead. Shana Tova to you and all your family. xxx

  2. (((hugs))) It's so hard when it gets to this point.

  3. Varda, those pictures are beautiful. I'm sorry it's so hard.

  4. Oh Varda...I have seen my mother go through this with her mother and now she going through it with her dad.

    I know it's not hard, we never want to say goodbye.


  5. Sending big hugs Varda xx

  6. I think it is always hard to say good bye. Great job of advocating for your mom. Sometimes I wonder where the medical profession hid their common sense.

  7. I'm the same way, Varda.

    My mother is 90 years old, can barely stand alone, and is down to 10% kidney function. If my mother wants caramel sundaes and sodium laden fried chicken, then let her have it.

    Go at it.

    I'm with you.

    And my sister and I are battling it out. I say let me stock her freezer with mini eclairs.

    So, on the days I am at my mother's, I stock the freezer with her mini Dove bars and then my sister comes mid week and sweeps them out of the freezer and replaces them with a shelfful of Ensure cans.

    And then I come back and fill the freezer up with nutty buddies and Nestle frozen milkshakes.

    And my sister returns and fills everything up with dense dark whole grain bread and sunflower seed margarine.

    The dance goes on.

    And I want my mother's last song to be "Quality of life."

    High five, woman.

    1. When I become an old woman I am going to make my daughter read this and tell her "I want you to be the one filling up my freezer with the good stuff that's bad for me!

  8. My grandfather ate ice cream every day that I knew him. He died in a nursing home at the age of 91. His last words were, "I think I'll have some ice cream later."
    I'm so glad that he lived a life full of sweetness.
    Milkshakes? Yes!

  9. ice cream sundaes and sunshiny skies. what a remarkable daughter your mom has.

  10. Sending you hopes for warm days, clear thoughts, and cold ice cream sundaes -

  11. In the last year of her life, my grandma could enjoy exactly two things: food and her people. Thankfully, those were two things we had to offer.

    Sending you love, and lots of it.

  12. Oh, Varda, how you manage to write so eloquently and beautifully when going through so much, is just a testament to your amazing writing ability. I hope your mom enjoys her ice cream and is able to stay awake enough for you to get more quality time with her. I wish this weren't so heartbreaking.

  13. Quality over quantity is definitely the way to go. Glad you helped them see that.


  14. All of this is so beautiful. Those pictures of her look like they are actually capturing her soul. It's not easy to think about or look at, but it is its own sort of beauty.

  15. It makes me so happy to hear about the diet change. I do home health care and my main client is in her late 80s. Diabetic, CHF, history of strokes, etc. I do battle with one of her other caregivers over her diet. I believe in treats and other things - in moderation. Other caregiver believes in a highly restrictive diet. Fortunately my client's family is on my side. Right or wrong, most of us love food and it's a comfort thing. I believe it shouldn't be kept from people in these situations. Her daughter told me - if she asks for a piece of Boston cream pie occasionally - Let 'er have it!! Made my day. =D
    Your mother is so lucky to have you.

  16. I understand, I encouraged my Dad to eat the cookies he loved once his diagnosIs was terminal, and we enjoyed many wine-fuelled happy evenings. I think it helped us both x

  17. What a great tip for all of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for elderly parents! I'm with you. There reaches a point where doing it "the healthy way" really isn't that healthy emotionally and mentally - which definitely impacts physically. Thanks so much for sharing this! And CONGRATS on your Huffington Post interview! :)

  18. What a beautiful woman your mother is. Thank you for sharing her with us today.

  19. I am so glad she's got you to advocate for her, love her, keep her going. Its awful to watch our parents age, become the ones who depend on us for everything. Sending you big hugs!

  20. I'm holding your hand, Varda, as you hold your mom's hand. Your words are gorgeous and so is your love for your mother.

  21. I'm awfully sorry. I remember this with my own mother.

    Your photos, and your love for her, are so beautiful.

  22. Oh, Varda. I'm so sorry. You are such a good daughter to her. You should tell her that she really is beautiful. These photos you took of her are truly beautiful.

  23. I like the way that you call our healthcare system "knee jerk". I've seen it for the many years that I've worked in the nursing home industry.

    You've really touched on a vein of a movement that's going on in the nursing home industry right now. It's disappointing that it's only started now, but it is what it is. This movement is called "resident centered care". And basically it states that if the elderly resident wants ice cream and chicken at 3 o'clock in the morning, then the nursing home better go out of its way to provide it.

    This movement [for lack of better terms] isn't something that substandard nursing homes publish- probably because they're embarrassed that they're not on board yet.

    Despite all of that, it's nice to know that your mom is receiving good care.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!