Monday, August 30, 2010

John Called,

Mom and me - Compass, PA 1950 - John and Isaac playing with the typewriter - guess who was Mom's favorite?

When I got home from my morning walk on the boardwalk this morning, Bill told me that my brother John had called.  These days whenever I see that John has called, I fear for the worst.

John is taking care of Mom at his home in Greenville, South Carolina.  We moved her there from her home in Pennsylvania where she was living with other brother Isaac last October 17th, 2009.

Brother John and his wife and daughters at their home in Windsor PA 1974 - I took Mom to visit them

Two weeks ago Mom's body began shutting down.  Her potassium level was so low, the doctor was surprised that she was still alive.

We were given the option of sending Mom to the hospital to be hooked up to IV's and other life extending measures or to make her as comfortable as possible at her home with John and his wife and daughter.  Mom always made it clear to us that she did not want to be kept artificially alive in a hospital bed.

We decided for hospice care at home.  That hospice care began last Monday, for three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday.)

The first day of hospice care Mom told the hospice care worker not to come back.  Not a good sign.

Caring for Mom at home is becoming very difficult.  My brother John doesn't get more than two hours of sleep at night.  He has to get up to take her to the bathroom or whatever other needs she has.

John didn't leave a message this morning. I called him back.  He told me that Mom had a "real bad night last night."  Without going into the details, I will only say that she isn't herself these days.  This is not her personality.  John thinks she has bi-polar.  Somedays she can be her old sweet self and other days (more frequently now) she has a totally different personality.  She is abusive, paranoid and unreasonable.  This is not our Mom.  No way, no how.

We always promised Mom that we would never put her in a nursing home.  I remember well what my cousin Jack told me about his Mom, my Mom's older sister.  Jack had made the same promise to his Mom but at the end he had no choice.  I'm afraid that is where we are with Mom now.

John has found a very nice hospice care center near his home.  In fact, John said it was so nice he would like to live there.  I can understand his feelings at this time of his life.  His wife has medical issues, he has a full-time job as a care pastor and, in addition to all of these responsibilities he is taking care of Mom.  John isn't getting any sleep at night.  Something has to change.  This cannot continue.

I will call him now and tell him that it is alright to put Mom in a place where she can get the care she needs and deserves.  I'm sure Isaac will concur with my decision.

My cousin Jack told me it would come to this.  That Jack, he has always been one step ahead of me.

Someday I'll write a blog posting about my few years old cousin Jack, who like me, brought himself up from the bootstraps and had a successful banking career.  We did pretty good for two dirt poor kids of of the Fifties from Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  Jack's advice has always been right on.  I hate to admit it, but he was right again.

My last visit with Mom (and brother John) June 2010 - we're in the beautiful park in downtown Greenville, SC - John forgot Mom's hat.  I loaned her mine.  That's a bathrobe I bought for her. She wears it all the time, even when she goes to the park.


  1. Ron,

    Sometimes in life we have to make hard decisions to do what is best for someone we love, even if we know it is something our loved one never wanted and may even be angry about.

    We are not bound to promises that do not serve those we promised well.

    This is the best choice of action for all concerned.

    My thoughts are with you, your brothers and with your mother.


  2. Thank you for your concern and thoughtful comment Larry. I know you understand. My Mom isn't herself now. This situation is becoming untenable for John and his family. This is the right thing to do. My cousin Jack told me it would end this way. He has been right so far. Like her both of her sisters, Mom will end up in a facility. I neve thought it would come to this but it has.

  3. Make sure John checks whatever meds she is still taking. Some interact very badly with systems that already have certain deficiencies and cause a kind of mental instability.

    This happened to my grandmother until we found the true culprit.

    You are all in my prayers.

  4. Wayne,

    Good point. Since her body has started to shut down her medications aren't working as they should. That probably has a lot to do with her behavior now.


  5. Anonymous10:32 PM


    I'm so sorry that your Mom & your family has to go through this. The character traits she is having now is end stage Alzheimer's. These actions come out of no where and sometimes last for days. With some elderly they never go back to their sweet selves. It's a devastating illness and since my Mom had it & now my 67 year old sister is forgetting everything she is told. I saw her Sat. & in the last month she has become very unstable walking. Sixty-seven isn't old to me anymore and she is 10 years younger than my Mother when she was diagnosed.

    This may sound selfish but I'm scared what's in store for myself & my family. The best we can do is make the most of every minute of every day & take care of our own like your family is doing. It's the least we can do for our precious parents.

    My heart goes out to you at this very trying time. If it's possible try & spend some time with her even if it's just holding her hand & talking with her. That always seemed to put my Mom at ease. They love to hear family stories from the past.

    Thinking of you & your family,

  6. When my Grandmother was dying of Cancer some 12 years back, individuals in the Family would take turns staying with her during the day and overnight. It was very difficult and tiring. During my "shift" I asked her why she didn't want to go to Hospice and she almost ripped my head off(that was her way). I didn't have a chance to ask her again because she died the next week during someone's time with her.
    If I am ever in this situation, I want whatever will be easiest for my Family. I'll have the Professionals deal with me.
    Will you be able to see your Mom anytime soon?
    I missed a few of your Posts. Been busy with the kids and their Back to School activities.
    Write to you soon.
    Your Friend, m.

  7. Fran,

    Thank you for your comforting comments. This morning I talked to John. Mom fell again last night (she insists on using the bathroom instead of a bedpan.) Thankfully, she didn't break anything. John told me that he was talking to her this morning and she doesn't remember falling. I think you're right, she is in the end stage of Alzheimer's. Both of her older sisters also suffered from the same loss of mental capacity.

    I am so sorry to hear that your 67 year old sister is having problems. She's younger than me.

    It's not selfish to be scared with what's in store for us. I often think of it. My father died when he was 80 (10 years ago this month) but his mind was fine. He died from lung cancer. I hope when I go my mind is alright. Actually, I hope that when my time comes I just go to sleep and don't wake up. I don't want any prolonged death where I need a lot of car. If it comes to that I'll take matters in my own hands.

    I'm going to send Mom another card now. John says she likes to get cards from me. If I can't be there, this is the least I can do. I can't call her because she doesn't know who I am. John is spending a lot of time with her, holding her hand and (you're right here too) letting her tell stories from the past.

    Thank you again for your concern. I am unsure whether or not I should even post to my blog about my Mom because I don't want it to seem like I'm looking for sympathy. I'm not. But I do feel a need to post about my real life. I read other blog postings that are very superficial and have a lot of ads. That's not my kind of blog. My blog is about my life as it is, the bad and the good.

    Thank you again Fran for all your support. It is always appreciated.



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