Monday, November 17, 2008

Making a Different Kind of Thanksgiving Memory

I love the thoughts of the perfect Thanksgiving holiday. All the family gathered around the table sharing the latest news, enjoying one another's company and also enjoying that delicious turkey dinner.

I remember well the days when my sons, Michael & Jeremy and I would get up early to feed the turkey. We had to keep him well fed so that he would be nice and plump for Thanksgiving. He he . . .

Now, I really do remember when my dear boys made these clothespin dolls - an Indian and a Pilgrim and also a snazzy canoe. They were in elementary school then. My how time flys ~ little boys turn into deep voiced men, family members move away, grandfathers go to heaven, times and situations change.

And sometimes, no matter how hard it is, we have to change with the times. I am getting a first hand education in that fact this year whether I like it or not. Two months ago when I moved my Mom here I tried to face things with a positive approach. We fixed up her assisted living apartment as nice as we could. The idea was to make it feel like home to her. We had many shopping trips trying to find a sofa for her that would complement the oil paintings that she so loved.

We painted her bedroom pink - her favorite color.

We scavenged thrift shops, my attic, Ross, TJ Maxx and anywhere else we could think of to make her little kitchenette feel warm and cozy for an elderly lady. We even came up with a theme - "Grandma's Garden". In her better days she loved to garden and always had beautiful flowers gracing her yard.

On moving day my sweet brother came from California and my 2 sons came home from college to help Grandma move in and feel happy in her new home. Once the work was done we all went out to dinner. It was a happy time to have this much of our family together as it doesn't happen often since we are so spread out around the country.
I had high hopes that I could organize a happy family Thanksgiving or Christmas while Mom still remembers us. However, as time goes on I don't see that happening. Since being here my Mom was hospitalized for an inter cranial bleed and then moved to a skilled nursing facility. Last week I received a call saying they will be done giving her therapy on November 24th and where will she be living after that? I could scarcely believe it as I haven't noticed any change in her since she has been there. There is no way she can still live in her assisted living apartment. So, this past weekend was spent looking into the assisted living where she is currently (depressing to say the least) and the Memory Care unit at her previous assisted living facility. To make a long story short we are planning to move her to Memory Care a couple days before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure what Thanksgiving day will hold and I can't even go there now. One day at a time is the modus operandi now. I am quite sure it won't be that Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, but one thing I do know is that I don't know how many more days my Mom will be with us or remember who we are. . . I do, however, know that today she knows who I am and I will rejoice in that. I will do everything that I am able to make her life the best it can be under the circumstances and know that LOVE is the answer. And I know that no matter what happens I will always love her. I wish I could cure Alzheimer's . . . I know I can't . . . but I can extend my love and appreciation to her and even in her confused state I know she feels the love.
These past few months have been emotional beyond belief. I have always been close to my Mom and it is hard to see her go through this. However, I have grown so much through this experience. I have seen another side of the cycle of life and for that I feel richly blessed. Without trying to sound preachy, I would encourage any of you that have a loved one in a nursing home, assisted living, hospital, etc. to visit them, call them or send a card to them. Before this chapter of my life I thought nursing homes were downright scary. I still find them a bit scary, but I see now that any of us could end up there and we are still human beings who would welcome a loving gesture from one of our friends or family members. Even though most of the time my Mom is confused she always kisses me goodbye and thanks me for visiting her.
I know that this post isn't the inspiring post we would like to read before the Thanksgiving holiday. For that - I'm sorry. It's just that I now know that even though we would like to strive for that perfect holiday, life may have other plans for us. The important thing is that we try to adapt to what life has in store for us. Next year things will probably be completely different.


  1. I know you are going through difficult days. My grandmother was in a nursing home the last months of her life and didn't know any of us. It was very sad, but today we remember all the good and fun times. None of us know what path we will end up facing ourselves. Just a great reminder to enjoy each day for what it is.
    Prayers for you and your family as you again take care of your mom's needs.

  2. Kim, that was beautiful. I saw your heart the whole way through the story. Even though im sad for your mom,it makes me so happy to find someone who really cares.
    I work for a company and most of my clients are Alzheimer.We are paid to go in and take care of these parents and cook and take care of. Where are their kids? Busy using up the money..having big vacations.It is their loss and my gain,but very sad.
    I pray you have a great Holiday. Take lots of pictures. I take some and frame and write on the back who it is so if they doubt at all.
    Glad to have met you and come anytime. If you ever need to talk email me.

  3. Kim,

    Someday you'll have those happy thanksgivings again. It may just be a while.

    Nineteen years ago my mother had surgery the day before Thanksgiving. They discovered colon cancer and she died the week before Christmas. I thought I would never celebrate a holiday again.

    But guess what? My sons have grown up, married, and had children. We're making new memories every year and someday you will too.


  4. Gretchen,
    Since I don't think you have a blog I want to thank you for your visits. I am sorry for your loss. It must have been very difficult especially at holiday time. I am so glad that you are now making happy memories of a new kind.

    Your words are encouraging and I do appreciate them.


  5. Kim, what a beautiful heartfelt post. Thank you for allowing us to feel your heart and the love you have for your mother. As always, my prayers are for you and your mom. Twyla

  6. Enjoy each day you have with her and rest will take care of itself.
    How well I know from the past 6 weeks or so in my own household. Things can change in a heartbeat (literally). We can be healthy, active and working then your whole world, as we know it can change. There is light at the end of the struggles and there is always hope. We'll be praying for you.

  7. So sorry about your mom, though she is lucky to have such a loving family.
    I visit a nursing home and people are there who have no one. One of the ladies think I am one of her relatives. She said I don't know what relative of mine you are but I know you're one.
    I will be delivering Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving and my husband is going to go along with me.
    Hope things go well with your moms move.
    Hang in there.

  8. Dear Kim,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I wish I had the magic words to say to make it all better.

    You are right about being thankful for the time that you have with your mother knowing who you are.

    You are in my prayers.

    Much love.


  9. Kim, hang in there. Seems like things have changed pretty quickly in your world. I'll be thinking about you and your family.

  10. Kim, I do understand where you are. It's so difficult when we become the "parents" of our parents. Until my mother and grandmother passed this summer, we had 4 in nursing homes. With close supervision, their care of our loved ones was a blessing. My thoughts and prayers are with you this season.

  11. Kim, these are such challenging days for you and your family. You didn't sound at all preachy nor at all bitter. I was very blessed by your words. My heart goes out to you and I pray that you will find a way to honor the day even if it must be a much different holiday this year than it's been before. Love is the most important thing. May you all feel buoyed and comforted in that.

  12. I am soooooo sorry to hear this! I will pray for you and your family and your Mom. I hope that Thanksgiving can be a good one...I so hope so. I enjoyed seeing your old book purchase...I love old books and I have that same Hallween black cat plaque! Hugs, cherry

  13. I just stumbled upon your blog and have to say that I'm so sorry you are going through this. My mom had to struggle through this with her mom and I expect someday I'll be going through the same thing with her. It really brings life into perspective doesn't it? You truly have the right attitude about it, and learning how to appreciate everyday you have left with your mom.

  14. Kim, my suympathies are with you. You've tried so hard, and she has benefited from her loving family, I'm sure. Praying that all will now go smoothly for you all.

  15. Hi Kim ~ I so agree with you that nursing homes can be scary...and the Lord knows how hard it was to see my mom going through Alzheimer's. It's a horrible disease, but it's comforting knowing now that my mom is having Thanksgiving with God...what a wonderful dinner that would be!

    Enjoy all the time you can with your mom!


  16. Hi Kim
    Your Mom looks like a beautiful woman in the picture and it's obvious you love her very much. Enjoy every day you have with her and cherish the good ones. I'll be praying for you.
    Hugs, Rhondi

  17. Kim
    Your mom is so beautiful. AND you have a beautiful heart too.

    So! Kim, check it out in my blog...Tagged!

  18. I am so, so sorry you are going through this. What a tough thing. It is so obvious that you love your sweet mother and it has got to be so hard to see her delcine like this. I will keep you in my prayers Kim. I pray that you will feel the Lord's arms around you holding you up. I pray that your sweet mother will rally and have more good days. I pray that you do have a very sweet Thanksgiving.

    Gentle hugs, Sharon

  19. Hi Kim,

    That was so sweet of you to warm up her place, Im sure she appreciates it too! and I can relate so well, my Father is going through this ( in the early stages ) and its very hard on him and the family too! I know exactly what you're going through. and yes, the best thing we can do is on their good days , try and make them as bright as possible, and thats exactly what you are doing!

    My thoughts are with you! ~ Hugs ~ Cynthia

  20. Oh, I'm so sorry & you know I can relate. Holidays are very hard times.

  21. My heart goes out to you in these difficult times! We did the nursing home route with my dear was hard for all of us. Now we miss her dearly...not only at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but always. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, despite the circumstances.

    PS I have a son named Jeremy Michael. Nice names!

  22. Love and prayers for you Kim, Your thanksgiving will be bitersweet - thankful for the close relationship you have had with your mother, sad that its slipping away, Thankful for a loving family all around (and scattered across the country), sad that Mum may not be long with you - who can know your pain and loss, go for walks and groan, let it out with a wail if you need to, for even if your head is rational and can explain it - your heart just doesn't understand somehow - the grieving is a process - go with the flow...

  23. Kim,
    What you wrote describes my moms last 12 months. She started out in assisted living and was hospitalized with one problem after another from December -February. She declined so horribly she could not go back to assisted living. She moved to the "memory care" unit in her building and we had a horrible experience. We relocated her to a small facility with only 8 residents and we couldn't be happier now. She too is very confused but still knows we are her daughters and like your mom, ALWAYS thanks us for coming.
    I truly know and live the same life you are living every day. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!
    If you ever want to chat more-please feel free to email me.

  24. This was a post of Thanksgiving and love. I could never pretend to know what it must be like although I know I would feel great sadness as you do too. But you know that love it the key and seem to be doing so well. You are a great example to us all and I hope somehow that this coming holiday week will shed light and love on you, your mother and your family. There is much to be thankful for!

    Hugs ~

  25. Kim,

    Your Mom is so blessed to have such a caring, loving daughter to care to her. This is a difficult path you are on remember step by step, one day at a time. You, your family and your Mom are in my prayers.

  26. I know how hard this is for you as my Mom is at a similar place.I, too try to focus on the good days and the things we can still do together.
    I too will remember you and your family in prayer.
    Take care,

  27. Hi Kim,
    I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. It makes me sad what you're going through right now and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Your mother is a beautiful lady.


  28. Thank you so much Kim for your sweet comments, and yes, as soon as I complete the table and chairs I will do a "painting" post! it really is an easy process and i'd love to share !

    Happy Holidays! ~ Hugs ~ Cynthia


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