1. Larry Hawkes

    As always, beautiful words about a wonderful Mother and Mother-In-Law whom I loved as well. “Mom Joan” welcomed me into the family with open arms. And besides telling me that my goatee made me look like Christie’s Grandpa, I really think she liked it.
    I was blessed to be born in to very loving home. Dad, Mom, two “older” siblings (yep, the spoiled baby brother) almost “Hollywood “ kind of family.
    I learned and hope I show how to be a good husband father and grandfather because of my parents, hands down.
    And my good deed for the day? Went to visit my 93 year old Mom who is in hospice care in a full care facility. Although short, always enjoy knocking on her door the same way every time so she can tell me when I open the door, “I knew it was you because of the way you knock”! Always makes me feel good.
    How I wish that I could brush against her skin the goatee that she simply loves (not, about the same as Mom Joan) but restrain because of the rules for COVID. So for now, I agree with whatever story she has in her mind, and thank God that I still have the chance to tell her I love her. She will leave us, sooner the later, but as Mom would say, “I have had a great life” and that makes me happy❤️

    • Thank you Larry. We are very lucky to have both come from loving homes and then been able to join each others. I always say I won the lottery with my in-laws. I am so happy that you are still able to see your mother in person, even with lots of PPE in between you. I know a lot of people are still separated by windows and walls. That’s so sweet that she knows you by your knock. Which brings up another thing to be grateful for–both of our mothers recognized loved ones even when other things were forgotten.

  2. It’s a good perspective to take Christie – I felt similarly about my Father in Law – he was such a lovely man, but in the last couple of years of life his health deteriorated and physically he was quite restricted – it made him tired and a bit grumpy and not who he used to be. It made me think about how you can have 50+ great years together with your spouse and then spend the last couple of years at the other end of the scale.

    I guess in the end you have to wipe the memory of those last difficult days and replace them with all the happy memories of what went before and the legacy they created. Growing old isn’t for sissies!

    • You got that right, Leanne: Growing old isn’t for sissies! My grandma used to say, “Growing old is hell, but it beats the alternative!” It is difficult when someone you love changes in ways that aren’t so easy to love. I’ve heard of people with dementia getting downright mean. I don’t know how I would have handled it if my mother had become that way. One more reason to build those strong relationships and happy memories with loved ones in the here and now.

  3. I really needed to read this right now. It’s been so hard this last year to watch my parents go downhill. I do try to remember how they used to be but I’m faced with their current state every day. And COVID means everything is done over the phone. It does make me think of my own aging process. Is there anything I can do now to avoid the physical breakdown? I try not to get frustrated with my dad when he can’t comprehend something that seems so simple. He’s gone from a strong, confident man to a fragile, worried man. And as my sister says, our mom has been gone for a while. Even before her brain injury, she was becoming so negative about everything. I will try harder to take your advice and focus on the journey. It’s just tough when you’re faced with their destination every day.

    • Oh Linda, I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. It is much harder to look at the big picture when you are right in the middle of caring for your aging parents. It took me almost a year after my mother passed to find this peace. Like you, I have reevaluated my lifestyle to do what I can now to preserve my health and independence for as long as I can. I hope you are well supported in this journey and surrounded by love. Sending you wishes for strength and a sense of peace.

      • Thanks Christie. There are good days and bad days. And days when I can cope better than others. In the whole scheme of things, I’m fine. I remind myself that others have gone, are going, or will go through this too. I know my dad worries that he’s a burden to us and I hate that he feels that way at times. I need to make sure I’m not giving him that impression.

        • Of course, you are right that many people have gone–or are going–through this challenge, and we can do it too, but it’s not easy. It’s a fine balance between accepting that this is hard and not giving our aging parents the impression that they are a burden. Hang in there and take care of yourself!

  4. Both my parents are gone now and not a day goes by without me thinking of them. I have a couple of photos on my desk of both of them well before any of us kids came along. Although I was very lucky to have them for as long as I did, I do regret that I didn’t ask them more questions about their lives before they became parents. Fortunately, I do have several diaries they both kept from young adulthood that I treasure (one that my father kept even has an excited notation on the day he met my mom).

    • That is lovely Janis. I especially like the journal entry when your dad met your mom. I do not have as many childhood stories from my dad as I would like, but I spent a lot of time “interviewing” my mother, so I could write a book about her experiences homesteading in Alaska. Even if I never publish that book, it was worth it for the time I spent getting to know my mother better and seeing her as a complete person, not just my mom.

  5. Christie, this is just beautiful. You know you have successfully navigated the course of grief when sweet memories replace the horrors of illness and death. I think the quality of the relationship here on Earth has a lot to do with that.

    • I didn’t realize it until now, Suzanne, but the hours I spent with my mother talking about her childhood and young adulthood helped me find this peace of knowing that she had a rich full life–that her final struggles were only one small portion of that life. So I would definitely agree that the quality of our relationship on this Earth had a lot to do with navigating the course of grief.

  6. Cindy

    I’ve been much more concerned about aging, Alzheimer’s and dying in the past year than I’ve ever been before. I chalked it up to getting older and anxiety from the pandemic etc. Now I wonder if moms death didn’t make me more aware of my own mortality, maybe subconsciously.
    I’m so happy you’ve been able to switch your perspective to not be as sad and be able to appreciate mom for all she was and her beautiful life. I love you!

    • I’m no psychologist (as you well know 😊), but I would think Mom’s death, followed by a global pandemic, could definitely have kicked off this hyperawareness of aging and death. When I get in that place, first of all, I give the feeling a little space, name what I am feeling and remind myself, it is an emotion, not “me.” I am not my anxiety; it’s just something that I am experiencing. Then I do something to bring me into the present moment…play with children, savor a good cup of coffee, meditate, take a walk or work out. How’s that for arm-chair counseling? 😁 I love you sister!

  7. Very helpful to hear about your change in perspective. I know I am facing similar feelings in the not-so-distant future. This year has been a challenge to not be able to see my mom, except on Zoom. It is just too risky to try and visit; even though I try and be safe, I could pick up something on the way there (it’s a long distance trip). Seeing and hearing her decline virtually has been hard. I wonder if her own isolation is speeding up the cognitive decline (so little stimulation) and worry that my brother who does visit her regularly isn’t being that safe. I will think back on your words in the future, I am sure.

    • COVID has added a whole new level of complexity to caring for aging parents. Larry’s mother is in an assisted living center not far from our house, but visitation is limited. Because she is on hospice, they do allow some brief visits with full PPE. I definitely think the isolation contributes to physical and mental decline for many of those who are already fragile. I am sending love and healing to you and your mom.

  8. I have finished reading this with tears in my eyes. We are watching our mom slip further away and can’t be there to hold her through this end of life. It may be months or even another year but Mom is no longer herself. She would say she’s tired and ready to go but if she were being totally honest, she would also say she’s scared. And I am scared. I am not sure what life without her will look like. We have struggled this whole morning because the kitchen is closed in her apartment complex – guess why? – and we don’t know how to get food to her. I am so sad.

    I love that you and Larry wrote to each other here. And that you both celebrate the lives of both your mothers. And the beautiful foundation your families provided.

    Hope I can get to your good mindset soon, Christie. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • This is such a hard time, Leslie. It is scary losing a parent and sad watching them slowly slip away. I’m sorry you are going through this. I believe you will reach a point where you can celebrate her life with a smile, but I know for me, it didn’t come until I had some space to mourn. In the meantime, I’m sending you love and peace. If you ever want to talk, I’m here. Just send me an email, and we’ll set it up. ❤️

  9. Hi Christie, I love the shift you have had about seeing your mother’s whole life as a jorney and not focusing on the final months. It is hard to see past those last months when you are still close to it. I have lost both of my parents in the past few years and have also reached the point where I can now see the big picture. I try to think of my own life in the big picture too, and not in the inevitable decline that I will eventually experience.

    • Thank you Michele. It’s been a challenge for me to find that sweet spot between living in the moment and seeing the big picture. This impermanent precious life is a constant lesson, isn’t it?

  10. Christie, this post is just lovely and mom sounds great. I love that you spoke to the shift in mindset. How we look at things makes a difference in interactions across the board. I am excited to choose you as my Special feature for our next Blogging Pit Stop.

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