A story of grieving, part 1 of 7

Twelve days

In today’s post, you’ll read a little about Texas toast, haggis and Olive Garden, but not all at the same time. That would be weird.

This post is different than the usual blog fare on Choosing Peace. As I was typing these journal entries, I noticed some interesting patterns and connections. Each section below includes two journal entries—spontaneous and sometimes lively—as I walked through an intense chapter. The end of my mom’s life.

Will you do something for me as you read these journal entries, Peaceful Readers? Look for the blessings that are sprinkled throughout these 12 journal selections.

He who seeks finds.
Luke 11:10b, World English Bible

Slipping away

Friday, January 19
Logan and I visited Mom at [her memory care facility] on the way home from school. She was eating dinner, sitting in a wheelchair. I got a good photo of Logan with her. She was in and out of alertness and conversation. Logan helped her with her Texas toast. She was trying to cut it with the side of her spoon. Logan tore it into bite-sized pieces for her. Sweet!

I cried a little about Mom as I went to sleep. She is no longer herself.

Friday, January 26
…Pam [—my sister, the narcissist—] texted that Mom’s on hospice, diagnosed with end-stage Alzheimer’s. “Just wanted you both to be aware [—my other sister and me].” I think she expects praise for signing the papers and sending a text. Wacko.

Sharing the music

Sunday, January 28
…Yesterday, I asked Logan if he wants anything regarding Grandma (after I told him about her diagnosis/hospice). He wants her to see his choir program. I told him that’s a great idea. I asked our [life group/Sunday school class] to pray that this happens for Logan.

Saturday, February 3
We got up earlier than usual on a Saturday morning and arrived at [Mom’s memory care facility] at 9:10. Mom was sitting in her nice wheelchair in the main hall/gathering area. She was asleep/out of it. She had a big knot and bruise on her head from a fall….

Brandon got the technology working and we enjoyed the DVD…. Logan was very kind to Grandma and held her hand. She rarely opened her eyes. I cried a little. We took pictures. It seemed poignant for us to be watching a choir program together. All four of us sang in choir in high school, and yet—what a different, God-focused program Logan got to sing in at [his private Christian school]…. The first song in the program—“With a Voice of Singing”—is an anthem Mom and I sang [in the choir] at church and really enjoyed….

After the program was over, Logan asked: “Grandma, did you like the music?” and she replied “Mm-hmm.” It was the only coherent thing she communicated. Praise the Lord in heaven! What a remarkable blessing. I told Logan the other day that regardless of how alert she is during our time together, after she dies and gets her life review with Jesus, she’ll hear the music again.

…It was hard for us all to see her this way….

Two sisters

Tuesday, February 6
…I had a lovely lunch with Charlene at the tea room. We’re both dealing with moms on hospice with Alzheimer’s. She is my wonderful Soul Sister.

Saturday, February 10
…[My other sister—I’ll call her Linda—] and I visited Mom for a while. She was in her wheelchair, non-responsive, so incredibly frail…. She has stopped eating and will be gone soon.

I gave Mom the prayer shawl [—a gift from a lady at the church where I work—] and took some pictures.

Linda and I ate lunch at [the tea room]. She talked non-stop about food and travel. “Don’t you remember Mom’s Lemon Ice Box Cookies? She made them in a roll and sliced them….” No. “Don’t you remember eating haggis when we were at Loch Ness in Scotland?” No. I don’t remember what I ate 35 years ago. On and on and on. “Dad’s favorite cookie was thus and so. They had dates and something-or-other in them.” On and on and on…. “Mom was such a good cook. She made homemade wheat rolls.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Before we left [Mom’s memory care facility], Linda said to Mom “…to The Best Mom in the World.” Where is the trash can? I need to throw up now. Yes, she fed and clothed us. It takes a lot more than food and clothes to make someone a “great mom.” She was pathetic and emotionally, spiritually and socially neglectful—never a prayer out loud, never a word about feelings, never an apology, never any guidance or wisdom. SHE WAS THE FOG.

What a weird encounter….

Reading and praying

Thursday, February 15
Logan and I visited Mom/Grandma after school…. She was wearing a T-shirt and is “skin and bones.” She opened her eyes more during this visit, but didn’t say anything. We read her favorite scriptures to her, per the Reflections from a Mother’s Heart book that she filled out.

I told her it’s time for her to go to Jesus. I told her good-bye and that we love her….

Monday, February 19
…Brandon said tonight that we need to pray for peace. Amen to that!…

Two letters and blessings coming down

Wednesday, February 21
I woke up very early and wrote two letters—an anger letter to my mom and a Good-bye Letter to Isobel. Very therapeutic. During work, the Holy Spirit asked me how they are alike and this huge light bulb came on. Isobel is codependent like my mom—only a different flavor….

I’m disappointed, but I’m glad to know the truth. It’s over. Isobel is no longer my friend. I’ll stop wondering about this and focus on my healthy friends. TBTG! Resolution. Truth. Clarity. God is good….

Thursday, February 22
I awoke at 2:30 for the day. I got up at 3:30, caught up on my journaling, re-read the two letters I wrote yesterday….

Work went surprisingly well in light of my lack of sleep….

I received a text from my evil sibling…. Mom is at the end; the hospice nurse is there daily. Evil Sibling ended the text with this: “Wanted you both to know [—Linda and me].” She wants adoration and praise for doing the right thing. I don’t reply to her texts. It will all be over soon, PTL [Praise the Lord].

It’s been raining all week. I’m reminded of the song I made up and sang to Logan as a baby—“I Love the Rain.” I do love it. Blessings coming down from the Lord….

Brandon read the 6-part post about my mom this evening. He gave me a shoulder rub at bedtime. I was asleep by 9.

Yelling in the truck and cracking up laughing

Friday, February 23
I woke up at 3:15. Tried to go back to sleep. Not happenin’. Got up at 4.

I read Romans 16.

[I wrote Romans 16:17-19 (ESV) in my journal—a powerful passage—a warning about Pam.]

Brandon came into the great room at 6:30 this morning and told me that my mother is dead. Pam left us texts after she left me a voice mail. The voice mail was actually appropriate—shock of the world.

Brandon cooked us omelets for breakfast. Very nice. We agreed to tell Logan this evening. He has a test and a quiz today….

Logan had a good day at school…. After dinner, I told him about Grandma. He took it well…. He said later that the waiting was harder. I understand.

I feel pressure on my chest, my head feels weird—but overall, it is a great relief. I’m ready for it all to be over….

I’m taking Monday off…. Hallelujah! I’m going to lunch at Olive Garden with Meagan and Ann. Yee-haw.

Linda called me this evening. She is in town ‘til next Friday. They’re hoping to schedule the memorial service for Thursday. PTL. She wanted me to meet them tomorrow to work on the obituary. What a total clueless wonder! Not in this lifetime. I told her to email me what they come up with and I’ll send any changes.

…As I drove to work today, I yelled in my truck, “You are not my mother!” I yelled about her being a coward and not caring, etc. It felt good to yell those things out loud. It felt really good.

Saturday, February 24
Brandon suggested Cracker Barrel this morning. I slept ‘til 9—PTL! We ate a delicious brunch at Cracker Barrel around 11….

Chilled this afternoon. My sisters siblings misspelled my name in the obituary. Excuse me! My middle name is Ann, not Anne. Passive-aggressive hags. They also lied about our mother and used obnoxiously flowery language in the obituary. It made me want to puke. I emailed corrections, including the correct spelling of MY NAME.

We went to see the movie Black Panther at the Movie Tavern this afternoon. It was good.

Meagan stopped by and brought me a beautiful bunch of tulips in a really pretty vase. She also brought me a hilarious friendship card. I cracked up laughing. I’ve read it several times. What a precious friend!

We watched some ice skating in the Olympics on TV (TiVo).

Did you enjoy finding God’s blessings poured out so generously during these dark and difficult days? I sure did.

Let me tell you somepin. (See the last post if that word somepin doesn’t make sense.) If I hadn’t journaled, I wouldn’t have remembered more than 90% of those blessings. I would have remembered the choir concert DVD watching and the flowers and the card that Meagan brought me. I wouldn’t have remembered that the other blessings happened during this time or I wouldn’t have remembered them at all.

Here’s the thing. My recollections about time frames and the order of events are faulty. I was looking in my journal this morning and was just certain that a certain something had occurred this month. It hadn’t. It happened last month. That’s the point. We think we remember things accurately and we don’t.

Journaling provides a clear timeline and clarity in ways that our own memories can’t. And it gives us a way to chronicle our blessings even during the hard times.

The healing power of journaling
These journal selections from 12 days show the beauty and healing power of journaling. I write candidly about the good and the bad; what I see, hear, think, feel and say—or yell, as the case may be; what I’m learning; and what scriptures God brings my way and how they speak truth, encouragement and/or warning into my current circumstances.

I write about what’s going on and what God is doing in my life.

Writing my experiences and feelings is a sweet part of The Healing Journey. While I’m writing and as I read my journal later, I grow, I learn, I reflect, I see patterns, I understand things that I didn’t understand before and my gratitude to God goes deeper.

Much deeper.

Starting the day
If you’re already a faithful journaler, skip on down to Gratitude.

Am I a morning person? Uhhh…. No.

Even if you’re not a morning person—and I can certainly sympathize with you if you’re not—I have a quick, 3-point morning recommendation if you want to get your heart and your head in the right place for the day.

Morning routine
1. Get up 15 minutes earlier than you need to in order to have a low-stress, rush-free morning.
2. Read a chapter in the Bible.
3. Journal about the previous day.

That’s it. Give it a try for 40 days and reflect on how it’s changing you. If you like some of the changes, keep on doing it.

Here’s another tip. Go to bed early enough to feel well-rested the next day. That was a freebie. It also keeps you from freaking out about #1 on the list—sort of.

Thank you for joining me and for Choosing Peace.

Coming next: Come back next time and get ready to read about a Halloween scene, Father Ben and the match.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Psalm 86

Song for Healing: I found this song on YouTube recently and it is perfect. Enjoy “Yes I Will” by Vertical Worship.

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