A Gift of Joy

A Gift of Joy

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My mother kept a diary her whole life.  In the last couple of years her entries in her diary would only be a few lines, but what wonderful lines! Like “A beautiful day,” or “Missy took me to McDonald’s, had so much fun.” Her last entry in her diary was in February, a couple of days before she fell. It said, “Bad day, confused, but Missy and I had cinnamon toast and giggled.” I told Mike it made me sad to read it, he told me I shouldn’t be sad and to read her other entries. I went back and started reading her diary…Oh, I’m so glad I did. My mother loved me so much. She loved living with Mike and I. Almost every one of her diary posts mentions me, and how she loves me, or how much fun we had. How she wishes I didn’t have MS, or that she is not afraid of her Alzheimer’s because she has me and Mike to care for her. She talks about not being afraid anymore; that I will take care of her. So many times she writes that she wishes she could do something for me; a surprise, grant me a wish. Always wanting my JOY to come back, her old Missy, her sunshine.

My mother left me all kinds of little notes for after she died, and a couple of letters, but nothing, nothing was as wonderful as her diary. Oh, how I was loved. One entry was, “I love hugs, but no hug is better than my Missy hugs. She hugs me like she will never let me go, and some days I need that feeling, that she will never let me go.” That entry hit me the hardest because a couple of weeks before mom died she wanted me to hug her in her hospital bed, and when I sat her up she whispered, “Hug me, Missy. Never, never let me go.”  I always knew it, but reading her little wobbly writings, her handwritten statements of love to me, gave me my JOY back. Thank you, Mommy. Yes, every day I will miss you…more probably, then less as time goes by. And yes, everyday I will want you to be the first person I tell something to….but as you told me, its time to get on with it. You did finally get to give me that surprise you wanted to so badly, and I found it in your diary writings: My Joy. So, on to celebrate your life. Oh, how I miss your giggle, your eyes beaming when I walk into your room and you say, “Hi, sweetie,” or “Hi, Missy,” or “Hello, Sunshine.” Yes, on to celebrate our life….your’s and mine

Went to the cemetery today. Its been a month since mom died. The cemetary where mom is buried is about 65 miles from here. It is an old family cemetary out in the country. I just wanted to see how things looked and plan my parents garden around the headstones. I met with a local landscape man who I know thinks I’m crazy…but I liked him anyway and he understood exactly what I wanted and drew a great picture of my dreams of what it will eventually grow to be. My dad’s parents are buried next to my parents so I am going to try and incorporate the garden around all of them, but still make it easy for the man who mows the cemetery to not have trouble maneuvering around it and the bird feeders that I want there.

Mom is happy there. I took her a fresh bouquet of sunflowers and my dad some birdseed for the birds. I didn’t cry ’til I was driving out of the cemetary, and realized that she is really, really, gone…not coming back. No more sad stories, only happy ones now. Then I started singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” but left out the part, “Don’t take my sunshine away.”
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A Moving Tribute to Barbara Taylor Vaughan and her daughter, Missy.

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Some of our listeners and visitors to our Nurse Talk blog might have heard us talk about the touching account of life with Alzheimer’s written by Barbara Taylor Vaughan and her daughter Missy. Both of them have contributed to our blog and shared their powerful story about Barbara’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and her “first person” account of what it was like for her. Missy, Barbara’s beloved daughter (who herself has Multiple Sclerosis) was her loyal and loving caretaker. We received word from Missy that on June 9th, Barbara passed away. Casey and Shayne do a moving tribute to these two wonderful, courageous and inspiring women. Read more…

Its OK to Go

Its OK to Go

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My mom sleeps…about 22 hours a day now…she is up for maybe 20 minutes at a time….I miss her and shes still here with me…..I miss her real loud laugh, her giggles, her smile…..I miss hearing her talk, her voice calling my name….her voice now is low….its not what I’m used to my mom sounding like….I miss our talks, her holding my hand, her just being in the next room…its not the same now…

She’s still here, but just holding on….I wonder what to….I tell her to let go, go be with daddy…dance, twirl….but she smiles and holds on…I tell her I will be OK, and that she can go….but she smiles and holds on…I think shes waiting for June…she always told me she wanted to die in June…that it was such a beautiful month…and some of her best memories are of June…..she asked me last week what month it was….I told her the last week of May….I think she is waiting for June…..but I don’t know if I can tell her that it is here…

Mom is getting weaker by the day, she is not eating now….she only is sipping a little liquid…she doesn’t open her eyes any longer and sleeps about 23 hours a day. Read more…

Be Careful What You Wish For

Be Careful What You Wish For

When I was pregnant I always prayed that my babies would be healthy, and have ten fingers and toes. I had so many miscarriages after my son was born that I never thought I would have another baby. When I was pregnant with Missy, I knew it would be OK. I prayed that she would just make it the nine months and be born. I didn’t care if she had 9 toes, 6 fingers… hell, I just wanted her to be born. I would deal with anything as long as she made it into the world. I only prayed once to GOD when I was pregnant with her, and that is what I said, “Just let her make it 9 months and be born and I will handle whatever you give me.”

Last year during the cruise contest I got some ugly, mean messages. People told me I caused Missy’s MS, and it was my fault she had it. Read more…

I’m Not Scared Anymore

I’m Not Scared Anymore

from www.public-domain-images.com

Last night I told Missy why I am so happy. I told her why everything is OK and why I am not scared of Alzheimer’s anymore.

One of my good friends died a few weeks ago, they wouldn’t let me go see her. The nursing home wouldn’t let anyone but family in because of the flu epidemic going around their, but I talked to her on the phone. She told me, “Barbie, I’m going home. I’m so so happy. I know in a few days I am dying. The doctors told my children and they are all here, my grandchildren are here…we have had a beautiful few days…but I told them I am so ready to go home.”

She told them to call me. She wanted to tell me that I would be OK. She told me how wonderful her heart felt, even though she was in pain and having trouble breathing now. Read more…

Old Age Comes So Quickly

Old Age Comes So Quickly

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Old age comes so quickly. One day you are working, having children, cleaning house and then you wake up one morning and poof – you are old, have Alzheimer’s and have to have someone do everything for you. I sometimes think, “Oh I wish I could go back to one of my worst days when I was younger.” Because now I know it wasn’t really a worst day…it was just life.

Yes, old age comes so quickly. I tell everyone: don’t put off anything, surprise your mate with something that they would never expect you to do, do something for a stranger, tell someone they look beautiful today, whistle a song, sing to someone, dance in the kitchen.

And the most important, look your children right in the eye—make them look at you—and tell them, “I love you, forever.” Make them say, “Oh Mom,” or laugh, or tell you “I love you back.” But, make sure that they look into your eyes when you tell them…because one day, they will have that moment, and yes, they will remember. Read more…

What I Know Now

What I Know Now

To do it all over again, in my life, would I change anything?

Oh yes, some things…but over all…no. I would correct the stupid mistakes I made, and spend more of my time with my family…go on more vacations, spend time that I didn’t think I had with those that I miss the most now. Surprise them more.

To do it all over again, I would make love more, dance more, just walk around the block more…I would sing in front of people not caring what they think more, and I would yell at the top of my lungs how much I love my husband and my kids more.

I would speak out more for those I didn’t…and I would make sure that everyone I loved knew it…

But mostly I would love me more, pat myself on the back more, look in the mirror and say, you did what you could, the best you could. Read more…

A Christmas List

A Christmas List

I found Mom’s Christmas list, she had the nurse write it out for her.

1. Try and make everyone happy
2. Give hugs
3. Tell those that I love how much I love them
4. Take a picture in my mind so I never forget

Then at the bottom the nurse wrote, “Oh how I love this woman.”

Doesn’t get any better than that does it…so that is my Christmas gift from my mother. When I get crazied over the next couple of weeks, all I have to do is read this little piece of paper. Read more…