Monday, February 9, 2015

be loved








It was the shampoo bottle that got me.  I had stood up well all last week.  Despite how horrific it all seemed ( as shown in the photos above.)  I handled it all, day in and out.    Until I reached for mom's shampoo bottle when we transferred her back to the Nursing Home on Friday.

The bottle was empty.  And she had resorted to using a hospital grade body wash for her hair and body.  She hadn't complained.  Or even mentioned to me she was out of shampoo.  

And then I saw the most telling sign… the toothpaste.  Generic.  And for her sensitive teeth- nothing but Sensodyne will do.  In fact, she chastised me last time for not getting the mint flavored one.  

But now?  Generic nursing home stuff, was what she was willing to tolerate.

I was so surprised by the onslaught of tears I could not hold back,  as I gathered up her things to bring to her new room on the skilled side.

With each passing day, a bit more of her is muted.  Hushed.  A veil of pain, and loss, of so much, flattening the emotion in her face.  She is drawn, and weak, wincing as she tries to adjust to get comfortable so often.  She can no longer stand on her own.  I haven't seen her walk in over a week.  This is so not my mom.

Mom had the most spectacular team of doctors last week in the hospital.  Several were interns, and residents- still in the process of learning.  A couple of the physicians have seen her before.  And the Attending physician, was compassionate, smart and a great teacher.  They actually saw mom more than once a day, and repeatedly told me to have them paged with any concerns or questions I might have.

When the ring of doctors would form around the bed, the circle would always widen, to include me.  As weak as my mom was, she had an uncanny tolerance for the pain when they came.   She let them examine every square inch of her injuries, her swollen knee, the torn skin, the bruises everywhere.  

And somehow, she'd leave them laughing.  Every time.  The Attending told us, they always looked forward to visiting with mom- she was of great interest and concern to them for so many reasons. 

So when a room opened in the transitional care unit, at Bethany, her nursing care facility, the doctors determined she was stable enough to go.

But they very softly admonished, she would most likely be back soon.  And so I boldly asked where we are in the progression of her disease.

They felt she was fairly advanced.  That she won't be getting much better.  And when I asked if it was fair to consider talking about Hospice or Palliative Care should she worsen?  They said yes.  

I crawled in bed with mom, that night.  And we talked.  She seemed relieved, in a way, to have some validation over what she has most likely been thinking about.

Her heart's desire that night?  Could she please go to the funeral home when she got out, to pick out a casket?  No sense in spending too much money.  Plain and simple would do.

Her wisdom has been made so clear.

"Live for today, and hope for tomorrow," she'll say.

We talked at length that night,  just her and I.  

She seemed peaceful, and yet still has a firm grasp on living as fully as she can, as long as she can.

As she began to drift off to sleep, I readied to go.

She ran her fingers over her cast, smiling as she saw the names of her grandsons, her nieces and nephews. We had teased one of her nephews that he should put his old football jersey number by his "autograph."  Instead, he left something, that mom looks at often.

Instead of saying his number, it simply reads "I love you." 





I'll see Dr. Panwalkar tomorrow and have infusion afterwards.

~All shall be well~  

We're deeply humbled by the love and support of so many.  



















37 comments:

  1. Oh my heart, your dear mom - the photo says it all. This post is beautiful and sad; it makes me want to give you a big hug. I am grateful that you have this team of doctors caring for your mom. From my vantage point I will state what you already know: treasure these moments.

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    1. Hugging you right back, Susan and thankful for your wisdom- I'm taking it all in.

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  2. Vicki, my heart aches for you. I continue to light the candle for you at church. My 3 promises that God is near He loves you ( and your mom) He sees Your tears ( and Your moms) and He will never leave you( or your mom) Lift it ( prayers) up and lay them down

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    1. Thankful for your kind act of remembering me with the candle lighting at church. I'm earnestly soaking in all 3 of those promises- thank you for the gift of the reminder of each one- amen.

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  3. Vicky, you and your mom, sons and husband are in my prayers as you fo thru this difficult time. Hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you for your faithful friendship and prayers, Verna. Hugs to you.

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  4. I am pulled in by the image of you crawling in next to your mama, the one who helped bring you to us. The pictured of shared suffering, honesty and unconditional love is a treasure! And yet oh, I feel the suffering with you too. Always hopeful, always the glass half-full, you are a treasure Vicky! XXOO

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    1. Thanks for the sweetest of sentiments, Roxane, and so thankful to have you sharing this journey with us so faithfully.

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  5. Oh Vicky,
    That picture of your Momma and your words describing her journey bring tears to my eyes.
    So many memories come flooding in. My own Mom. A fall. A broken wrist. Crawling into bed and sharing the truth of where she really was. Changed roles. My Mom's words ... "I'm just ready to go home and see Daddy" (meaning my dad). The circle of life.

    And your Mom. Still making the doctor's laugh..and wisdom about "live for today and hope for tomorrow." Her suffering and you being there... just being there with your wonderful, loving presence and coordinating her care with love and patience.

    What an amazing daughter you are! I am so proud of you. Keeping you, and your Mom, in my thoughts and prayers. Knowing He is there in the midst of it al. Praying for your time with Dr. P. Praying for rest for your heart and body.

    Love you Vicky! Always, sweet friend, to the moon and back again!
    Linda

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    1. Your own Mom's sweet words truly are a big tug on my heart. Thankful for the prayers- will come back soon and update :) Love to you dear friend~

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  6. The image of you crawling into bed with your mom ~ talking about the most very difficult of subjects ~ reminds me so much of my experiences with my own family. I know how painful it is when you finally realize you are at "that" point. Yet I know that you, who always finds gratitude in everything, also recognize what a blessing it is to have the opportunity to talk about these things with your mom - what a blessing it is to have this time with her. I wish you many more of these lovely moments with your mom in the coming days.

    Love and prayers to you all!

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    1. Steph- that gift of time is something not everyone gets, and I do feel blessed with that time and will spend it well. I know how well you know what this is like and I have taken a page out of your book on how to do this with grace and love. Sending love right back to you~

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  7. vicky….my thoughts and prayers continue for you, your mom and your husband {hoping his shingles are better???} and sending extra strength for all of you to grab ahold of….xo

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    1. Thank you Beth- the shingles are much better- tiny bit of residual pain but he doesn't even mention it anymore. Grabbing ahold of that extra strength- exactly what we can use :)

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  8. The photos pain me and break my heart. The two of you are still in my prayers nightly, God bless you both.

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    1. Thank you- God's blessings to you as well.

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  9. There's little I can say that would adequately express the feelings in my heart for you, your mom, and your family. Please know you are loved beyond measure.

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    1. You, are, missed! So lovely to have you show up here- instantly brings comfort to me, Susan. Sending love to you~

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  10. I don’t comment or email much lately, but I read and pray daily for you and your family. The pics of mom break my heart and tears flow for her and for you. I also have tears of joy though for the healing that I see in your relationship. If I remember right you have shared some of the struggles you’ve had in your relationship and how the Lord was helping you overcome those feelings. What an amazing testimony you have, dear Vicky, of how God works in us and through us when we surrender it all to Him and let Him work healing in us. I continue to pray for physical healing for you, but we can need healing in many others ways too. The visual of you crawling into bed with your momma and being able to talk openly about the reality of her situation is so beautiful. As I’ve told you before, Vicky, you are more like Jesus than most of us will ever be. The suffering, the compassion, surrender, love, forgiveness, grace....you’re amazing.
    Love, hugs and prayers to you,
    Nina

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    1. Nina~ I hardly know what to say to such beautiful and humbling words. You're spot on with your insight of the "healing" I feel with mom and I- I'm not sure I saw it as clearly as I do now after reading your precious words. It truly is through Him, and yes, the surrendering to His will and His way. I just feel an emerging and growing desire to make sure I've done everything I can for mom, as long as I can. Much love to you friend- so great to hear from you!

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    2. Dear Vicky...you are an amazing daughter/caregiver! You’ve taken such good care of your mom, and all while dealing with your own health issues. Praying for continued strength, peace and comfort for you. Prayers for your dear mom too, that she will have peace and can be kept comfortable and pain-free. Also thankful to read your Superman is back on his feet! Praise the Lord!

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  11. Nearly everything you write these days leaves me with fingers that hover over the keyboard. So much to say, so little that would be genuinely helpful, so moved by all you and your family are going through. I winced with you at the visible injuries and cried with you at how the shampoo was your breaking point. And the thought of you crawling into bed with her and sharing your hearts in warm breaths and tiny spaces between you....in the most important ways. I so agree with Nina and so loved her last two sentences. Thank you, Nina, for voicing what I couldn't.

    May I ever be half the person Vicky Westra is. Love you, Vicky. Praying for strength and comfort for you and for your dear mother.

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    1. Oh Robynn- I just know you are every bit like me- 100 percent- I just know. You've shown time and again, forgiveness and grace in ways I could never fully know having never walked in your shoes.

      So much love to you, Robynn~

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    2. Robynn.....thank you for your kind words! God bless you!

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  12. Oh Vicky.. I'm at a loss for words, other than what I've said so often. Your strength and grace under pressure is amazing, inspiring, heartwrenching. Your writing is so beautiful. Sending love to you, and a prayer or two - xo

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    1. Oh Karen- I'm deeply moved by your prayers- I'm just "believing," right along with you. Sending love to you~

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  13. Your words are always so filled with love. Your boys are fortunate to have you as their mom as you show them what's really important in life. Hugs to you.

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    1. Such kind words, Denise, thank you! Hugs right back to you~

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  14. Oh Vicky...the shampoo bottle- sometimes it's the thing that comes out of nowhere isn't it? My heart is heavy reading this and yet I know what a sacred journey you're walking with your little mama... and truly what a gift she's given you that she's willing to talk about it - I will continue to pray my friend --- for peace at every turn in this road.

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    1. Thankful for your sweet words and wisdom, Robin. Yes, I feel such comfort in knowing both mom and I can talk with each other about the things that will truly matter to her. Your prayers mean everything to us. Sending so much love to you~

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  15. I've wondered a lot about the suffering some people go through and if there is a greater purpose than we can see. It does lead one to believe in an afterlife. Why else endure 'the refiner's fire' if there is no wonderful 'product' at the end? I usually turn to the arts when I can't make sense of events. This is a poem by a Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaev (translated by Paul Graves):

    The gold that was my hair has turned
    silently to gray. Don't pity me!
    Everything's been realized,
    in my breast all's blended and attuned.

    -Attuned, as all of distance blends
    In the smokestack moaning on the outskirts.
    And Lord! A soul's been realized:
    The most deeply secret of your ends.

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  16. To still be able to converse with your Mom is a blessing.
    I wish I could have done that with mine. Instead it was through the care we gave her, the meals, the changes in scenery, the exposure to life , the understanding we had from days of norms spoken through our eyes. The quiet reading of a picture book, playing with balloons, watching her go back in time and reliving it with her this time as she closed pages of her book of life . When she was ready to follow God, she did it on her own terms
    and left you speechless by the experience of it all.Life gives you what you need and not what you want and every day I live I see this clearer and clearer.
    Enjoy your Mom Vicky. xoxox

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  17. Oh, so hard. Glad you're having some sweet moments together even during the hard moments. Thought of you and prayed several times today.

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  18. Oh my, I havent said much or responded..I felt this was the place you were in...and I didnt want to intrude..for every moment you just shared...took me back to my mom...and wow...did it take me back...uwhat can one say? what can one do? I remember after I cam april 2013 to be with my mom..within days...she slept in..I think somehow..she let go knowing i was there...i did her morning routines..she needed things to be so so..I leaned against her doorway with a coffee cup in hand...knowing...knowing what you just said above...I was watching my mom die... I wish I could say I crawled into bed with her...but I didnt..that was not how our mom was with us...but I wish now...I would have! I can say that the last week of her life..I touched her..in every way that was me...her face her arms her hair kissing her forhead and loving her...Vicky, stay strong...you are needed right were you are..despite all you are going thru...know...you are a gift to her.. know that all shall be well...despite the heartaches that dwell around the corners...love you... for all this is always so very hard! prayers to all and so much love!

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  19. Precious preciuos moments with your mom. You are in my thoughts and prayers so often dear Vicky❤️

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  20. I read this in the car when it went live--didn't want to comment from my phone.

    Vicky. Saw real. Saw real. So much love. Love overflowing....

    XOXOXO

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  21. Happy Valentines Day to you and your family
    xoxox

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