Friday, April 22, 2016

Tears for My Mommy

Right now, I'm not feeling the hurt and anger I've felt for so many years...my whole life...over the way my mother treated me.  Instead, I weep.  No. I sob!  Over what is happening to her.  Over the loss of my mommy.  Dementia is evil!  It's horrible!  It's mean!  I hate what it is doing to her.  It's not fair for her to lose her mind like this.  It's so painful for those of us that love her!

I woke up this morning and just started sobbing about this.  I'm writing this through blurry, tear filled eyes, with momentary stops to sob and grab a tissue.  It's interesting how things are changing...

I've gone from hurt and anger over how our relationship has always been; how she never seemed happy with me; how negative she's always been...to, now, where all I see is this tiny woman who needs us.  She's sad.  She's afraid.  And, she truly needs us to help guide her, keep her from getting lost, help her make decisions, help her to make sense out of simple tasks like choosing something from a menu and ordering at a restaurant.

She's moving from her anger stage to realizing that her mind is changing.  That's very hard for her and she's been crying a lot.  I can only begin to imagine what it would be like in her shoes.

She's given up on getting her driver's license back.  I know that must have been so hard for her.  But, it's a good thing because it's safer and we won't worry about her losing her way.

My dad says she still has moments of anger and she rants.  The rants are mostly about me and things that she's dreamed up that aren't true.  But, I think...I hope, those moments are becoming less angry and less often.

She was getting so angry that my dad would tell me to just stay away as to avoid making it worse. However, staying away didn't seem to be helping.  So, I've started going over there more.  I've been taking her clothes shopping and then picking my dad up and going out to lunch with them.  The time together is allowing me to see how much more she's changed than I even realized.

I've been taking her clothes shopping because she's lost so much weight that her clothes are huge on her.  Not to mention, very outdated.  On our first shopping trip, she insisted that she was a size 8-10. I really felt she was more like a four or six but she insisted.  So, we pulled larger sizes and she tried them on.  They were huge!  I started bringing her things in smaller and smaller sizes until a pair of size six pants fit.  When she's in clothes that actually fit, it's amazing how tiny she is and those size six pants are a bit loose.  She could possibly wear things even smaller.  Below her waistline, she's probably about a size two.  And, she's barely five feet tall.  So, she's very tiny.

We found one pair of pants on the first outing and she seems to be enjoying having something that fits.  She's been wearing them a lot.  And, she seems to enjoy the compliments she's gotten from my dad about how nice they look on her.

We went shopping again yesterday.  She went straight to the larger sizes again.  I just started pulling smaller sizes and she eventually joined me in that search.  It was interesting that when we went into the fitting rooms that she started changing without closing the door.  I reached in and closed it for her.  After showing me the first thing she tried on, she left the door open again and it seemed better to just let it stay that way than to keep asking her to step aside so I could close it.  There was no one else in the area we were in.  So, I figured it was fine.  But, it was interesting that it seemed like privacy never crossed her mind.  We only found one pair of pants yesterday.  I guess we'll eventually have a new wardrobe for her.  It just may take a while.  But, it gives us a reason to get together and something to do.  And, I'm hoping that nice, new, well fitting, updated clothes will give her a lift.

Through our time together the past few weeks, I'm noticing how her mind has changed so much more than I even realized.  She repeats more than before.  And, she also seems to get a little confused or lost in more situations than before.  Those times seem to require a little gentle guidance to help her through.

What is happening to my mom is hardest on her, I'm sure.  But, it's so incredibly hard for my dad.  He's cried a lot of tears lately.  However, they've decided to move onto my brother's property and that seems to have given my dad a huge lift.  He's planning projects to work on there and making lists.  It's great to see him excited about it.  It'll be nice for them to be close to my brother in case they need help.  And, it will be nice for them to be closer to their doctors and medical facilities.  They're currently about forty miles from the hospital and doctors on their insurance plan.

I find it interesting how I've gone from feeling so hurt about how my relationship with my mom has always been and how badly she's always talked about me, to feeling so sad for her and just needing to care for and help her.  I have always appreciated the many things I learned from my mom growing up but I'm appreciating them more than ever before.   Even the tiniest of things...like how to thread a needle or set the table.

I've always loved her even though I often wondered if she loved me.  But, now, I'm starting to find ways to see beneath the things she says and does to see that she probably loves me too.  I'm grasping those little revelations and holding onto them with all my might! And, I'm trying to cherish every moment I have with her, even though those moments can be hard. I love my mommy!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Gnomes!

I just finished knitting another gnome!


So, now I have two!


I love these little guys!  Aren't they adorable?!

They're made from the "Yuletide Gmome" pattern I found on Ravelry.  The pattern is written to knit them on straight needles and sew each section closed.  Way too much work, too much purling, and too much time. Luckily, other Ravelers have posted directions for knitting them in the round.  That's a lot more fun and I think they look a lot better that way.

Sorry for so few posts lately.  Life has been crazy busy.  That seems to be the norm lately.  Whew!  But, I'm still working on trying to post more.

Here's a little of what's been going on....

My husband's grandfather had just passed away on my most recent life update.  Since then, we've all helped grandma go through things and get grandpa's things out.  She wanted to do that quickly as she felt it would help her.  She has tough days and that's so understandable since they were together for 75 years.  But, she's so incredibly strong too.  She's been keeping busy and moving forward.  She's an amazing woman that I find myself becoming more and more impressed with and inspired by everyday.  I love her so much!

My parents came to the funeral and my mom was doing really well that day.  She was a LOT less negative and repetitive that day and very pleasant to be with.  I really cherished time with her that day.  It gave me hope.  However, she has a lot of bad days.  My dad says that she can change like the flip of a switch.  It's becoming increasingly difficult for him and we are all trying to figure out the best way to handle it all.  When we go over, it upsets her.  And, when we stay away, it upsets her.  She usually doesn't show that anger and upset when we are there but after we leave and every day in between.  My dad says she just goes on and on with negativity of things that aren't true.  She thinks my brother and I hate her.  SO not true!!! She goes on and on that I don't call her.  But, when I do, she doesn't answer her phone.  When I do talk to her on the phone by calling my dad, she doesn't remember.

She passed the driving test but wasn't able to get a doctor to sign off for her to drive.  So, she lost her license.  That has upset her a lot.  But, it's given her a reason to go to the doctor...something we were having a very hard time getting her to do.  She's had one gerontology appointment so far and a brain scan.  She still needs to go see a psychiatrist and go back to the gerontologist for results on everything.  To get her license back, she'll need to get approval from the doctor and start the license process from the beginning...driving test, written test, etc.

I feel for her.  I understand that this must be SO frustrating and difficult.  But, she just won't let us support her and love her through it.  That's what we SO want to do.  Shes pushes us away, leaves when we go over so she won't have to see us, and won't allow us to go to the doctor with her.

She's angry that my brother and his wife keep bringing food over too.  But, she doesn't cook and they need to eat!  My dad is getting stronger and doing better and better (except this stress which isn't good for him) but my mom continues to lose weight.  She's so tiny now and it has us worried.  She's lost close to 50 pounds since last summer.  I hope the doctor can get to the bottom of everything that's been going on.

After the funeral, my husband and I went on a trip to Utah for a week.  He did a mountain bike race, we did a little shopping and exploring, we ate great food, we did a little hiking, and we relaxed.  We really needed a little get-away!  I'll try to post about that soon.

Have a great weekend!  :-)




Saturday, March 5, 2016

I Did It!

I finished my gnome today!

I think it turned out great!  He's adorable!


This is the first knit project like this that I've ever done.  It was a bit scary and challenging at times but fun to make.  I learned a few new knitting skills along the way too.

I couldn't wait to show him off!  Now, I'd better head on over to my Ravelry project page to make more notes about it in case I make another one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wednesday Work in Progress

I thought I'd share what I'm working on...


It looks like a crazy mess, doesn't it?!

It's four of the eight parts I'm knitting to make a "Yuletide Gnome".  I found the pattern on Ravelry years ago and instantly fell in love.  It's been sitting in my Ravelry queue ever since.  I recently showed it to a friend in my stitch group who also fell in love with it.  She wanted to make one too.  So, we started them at the same time.  She's a fast and confident knitter and she's already on her second gnome (she's making some for Christmas gifts).  I'm not as confident at my knitting and haven't had a lot of time to work on it.  But, I'm making progress.  I just finished an arm and mitten this morning.  I have one more arm, the hat, nose, and beard to make before stuffing it all and sewing it together.  It'll be fun to see it come together!

A note about the pattern...it's super cute but the pattern is a little weird in that it directs to knit it on straight needles and sew up the front of the body, each leg, and each arm.  That's a LOT of extra sewing!  Luckily, other Ravelers have written out new versions to knit all the parts in the round.  That's SO much easier.  I think it should look a lot nicer too.

This is the first time I've ever knitted anything like this.  It's challenging yet surprisingly simple at the same time.  I'm sure I must be growing new brain cells and improving my knitting skills!  lol

Have you ever knitted something like this?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Wine and Knitting

I live near the Southern California wine area of Temecula.  It's a beautiful area with a steadily growing selection of wineries.  My husband and I joined the wine club of one of our favorites this last year, Miramonte.  It's a great winery with delicious wines and live entertainment every weekend.  One of the perks of membership is eight free glasses of wine per month.  So, one of my knitting friends has gone with me a couple of times to "help" me drink a few of those glasses. ;-)  It makes for a wonderful afternoon....great weather, great wine, great company, and knitting!

I think she enjoyed that a lot because she decided that she wanted to join a winery too.  She tried out a bunch and decided to join the wine club at Europa Village.  I'd never been to that one and was excited to try it out.  We went last Friday and I fell in love!  It's still small and I love that about it.  However, that's going to change soon as it looks like they're planning a major expansion.  I love them so much more when they're small and charming.  Miramonte was like that when we first discovered it.  Oh well, we'll enjoy the small version of Europa as long as we can!

Just look at how adorable it is!
Excuse the poor photos as they were taken with my cell phone.
This is the main entrance to one of their tasting rooms... 


Just outside of that tasting room was an adorable sitting area.  And, although I've not been to Europe, it made me think of that.  It's so storybook-like!



They have a big pergola outside with comfy seating.  Down the center is a lovely breezeway with branches across the top and pretty lighting.


Among the comfy seating there are some unique pieces of furniture.  There was an antique work table with an old wood vice.  I think this little bench seat is adorable...


Chloe, the winery cat, came out to visit.  Isn't she cute?!  Her nose looks like a heart.


We later spotted her in one of the special, reservation only, seating tents.  I caught her yawning...


I love the center courtyard with the olive tree and roses.  So pretty!


This is another tasting room that was closed that day.  We peeked inside and the ceiling is made to look like a cave.  Very cool!  I love the rustic wood touches on the outside.


The arch to the left is where we entered...



They have a long list of wines that I'm excited to try.  Their flavor profiles are very different from the winery my husband and I go to most often.  So, it'll be fun to try them.  I started with the top red on the list and hope to work my way down the list.  I don't remember the name of it but was delicious!

Here's a view out the back from where we were sitting...


The weather couldn't have been more perfect that day!  We enjoyed every minute, every sip, and every stitch!  Thanks, Judy!  :-D


It turns out that this winery has live music every weekend as well.  I bet it's magical at night with how cute it is and all those little lights that are strung around.  I just might need to take my hubby there soon.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Lucky Lettuce

Our brown thumbs just might be turning green....maybe!  Or, we just got lucky!  We have somehow managed to grow lettuce!  We're not the best at gardening and we've never had any luck with lettuce...until now!  Every time we planted lettuce in the past, nothing came up.  This time, it's not only coming up, it seems to be thriving!  We had a salad for dinner from OUR garden!

Here's our harvest for the evening...


We even had some beet greens that we picked and added to it.  We were going to try adding some radish greens as I read that they're even more nutritious than the radishes themselves.  But, they were spiny and it turns out it's best to use young, non spiny leaves.  So, we'll try that another time.

The lettuce is growing so fast that we're going to need to eat a lot of salad in the near future!


For anyone who's following along about my mom...here's the latest...

She passed her driving test.  Sigh!  But, I've heard it's common for that to happen and that it may not be until a person gets lost, in an accident, or has a scare that they're willing to stop driving.  A doctor needs to sign off on it for her to keep her license.  She was able to get a doctor to extend it for six weeks but she'll need further evaluation by a gerontology doctor to see if she can keep her license.  That appointment is scheduled for mid-March.  That's good news because she may willingly go to that doctor appointment now.  Before this, we weren't quite sure how we were going to get her there as she has been very adamant about not needing to go.  I just hope the doctor sees what we see...that it's not safe for her to drive now.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Goodbye, Grandpa

My husband's grandfather passed away yesterday.  He was 96 years old.  He came close to losing his life quite a few times in his 96 years but miraculously made it through.  He was quite a fighter!  He loved life and loved trying new things.  He became very skilled in a lot of the things he did...oil painting, gardening, fishing, and much more.  He served in the Navy and the Marines.


Here's a photo of them at their 70th wedding anniversary celebration.  Grandma wanted so badly to make it to their 75th in September.  But, 74 is an incredible accomplishment and very rare. 


He fought as long as he possibly could but the last week was tough.  He was taken home from the hospital last Friday and put on hospice care.  They hired a 24 hour nurse to care for him.  That was wonderful!  He had many visitors in his last days....an example of what a great guy he was.

He had rough night on Monday and was scared and agitated.  Grandma climbed into his hospital bed that was in their living room and calmed him.  She stayed with him the entire night. Early yesterday morning, the nurse saw a sign that he was about to pass and woke grandma and her two daughters (my mother-in-law and my husband's aunt) who were staying with her.  They were by his side in his final moments.  I got there shortly after and more family had arrived.  Grandma sat for a couple of hours holding his hand.  It was so hard for her to let him go.  It's so sad to see how heartbroken grandma is but so beautiful to see how much they loved one another and how close they were.

We'll miss grandpa very much and will continue to cherish every moment we have with grandma.  She'll need extra doses of love, hugs, and support in the days ahead.  But, that won't be hard to do as she is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet!  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Walking, Running, Riding, and Restoring

I always try to find the good in things.  So, in the midst of all the stress with the things going on in my life lately, I've found increased motivation to get out to walk, run, and ride my bike.  Lots of good ways to restore my sanity, relieve some stress, and get healthy as a result.  A win, win, win!  

I always carry my cell phone with me.  And, being the picture taking fool that I am, a lot of pictures get taken along the way.  Here are a few from the past few weeks.  They're all from Instagram....that's why they have black frames on them.

My walking partner, Salsa...




We love going to the Santa Plateau in our local hills.  It's a beautiful place!  And, it's a great place to ride a mountain bike...



It's also a great place to go for a walk or hike.  Gorgeous!
I think I could sit on one of these benches all day!


There are seasonal pools of water there.  They call them "vernal pools".  They're currently looking quite beautiful!  I love the walkway that goes over them.  Sometimes they're filled with fairy shrimp, tadpoles, tiny frogs, and little snakes.  I love it when the pools are there!





My husband and I were mountain biking there last week and came around the corner and saw a pig!  It was out for a hike with it's family.  It seemed very happy.  It would stop to nibble some grass and then look up to see they were ahead and start running to catch up while it grunted softly.  Funny and cute!  I have to say....I've never seen that before!


It was about 70 degrees and sunny that day.  Beautiful!

I love all the big, old, oak trees up there!


I was up early yesterday morning.  I opened the blinds in our living room and the sun was streaming in.  Penelope was soaking it up and looked like she was meditating.  Good job, Penelope!  A good reminder of something I need to do more of....stop, close my eyes, take some deep breaths, and meditate!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thank You!

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my last post.  Especially to all those who took the time to leave such thoughtful, caring, and supportive comments!  You've helped me so much!  I've learned a lot and found out that many of us are going through or have gone through very similar situations.  I feel like I'm in a totally different place mentally and emotionally because of all of you!

I really struggled with whether or not to post last week about what I was dealing with.  I had no idea if anybody would be interested or or if I'd even hear from anyone.  It turns out that I didn't need to worry.  In fact, the response was amazing!  I'm stunned by how many people I've heard from and at how long and thoughtful the comments are.  I not only received comments on my blog and my Facebook post but I also through private messages on Facebook, emails, texts, phone calls, and people at my stitch group gathering who talked with me about it.  I've learned a lot and I feel more connected and supported more than ever before.  It's incredible!

It really lifted me up to have so many people tell me that they saw me as a positive, caring, and good person.  And, that they were surprised at what I'd been through as a child.  Hearing that others look at me in such a positive light helps to melt away some of that pain and slow down all those memories that tend to replay over and over in my head.  Thank you...thank you...thank you!

One thing I love the most about what's come from posting about my situation is how others are now feeling like they're not alone.  And, how many of us are now supporting one another through this chapter of our lives.  It really is surprising how many people had similar situations growing up and at how many are going through similar things to what I am now.  It's so much better going through these things together!  We will get through this!

One of the comments that touched me the most was a message on Facebook.  Her mother was unkind when this person was growing up and her mom only continues to get worse.  My post moved her to tears and she thanked me for putting into words what she'd felt her whole life.  Wow!  That's powerful!  I had no idea that my post could have done that but I'm so grateful that it did.

Again, thank you all so much for your love and support!  It means more than words can say!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reaching Out

I've struggled with whether or not to post about this.  I've thought about it many times in the wee hours of the night when I can't sleep.  I've been encouraged by some sweet blog friends to post about it.   And, I've decided to go for it.  There are probably a lot of people out there struggling with similar situations.  Maybe, together, we can help each other out...even if it's just to know we're not alone.

I'm going to try to simplify as much as I can.  Bear with me as I struggle to figure out how to put this all into words that make sense.  It's hard to even figure out where to start.  Here it goes...

I guess I'll start with saying how my mom has never seemed to like me.  Throughout my entire life she's told me what 'she' thought was wrong with me.  That includes a lot of things that have never been true.  She's always been a negative person who looks for bad stuff.  Even good things in life can somehow appear to be bad things to her.  If she can't find a negative, she dreams it up.  I guess that's how it works.  I've never been able to understand.  

Thankfully, I've always seen that as a way NOT to be and it has caused me to strive to see the good in life, people, and situations.  She taught me a lot of things but I don't think she intended to teach me this.  It's turned out to be the biggest lesson, the biggest gift, and the biggest impact on my life.  And, even though I'll never have a mom that's proud of me (one of the things kids want most in life...to make their parents proud), I'm going to be ok...more than ok.

Lately, my mom's negativity towards me seems to be magnified.  Really magnified!  All she talks about is what a horrible person I am.  She's making up stories about how she thinks I'm stealing money from her, that I'm an alcoholic, that I'm trying to ruin her life, that I was a terrible child, etc., etc.  None of it is true!

Her mind is changing.  And, it's not in a good way.  We think there's something like dementia going on.  But, we're not sure.  My brother, our dad, and I took her to the doctor.  She failed one of the tests and was referred to gerontology and for further tests.  We lovingly explained that we care about her and that's why we brought it up and want her to be checked to see what's going on and what can be done.  After all, we'd want someone to love us enough to do the same thing.

I understand that it must be SO hard for her.  I want to be there for her.  To talk with her and love her and hug her and walk by her side as she deals with it.  But, she's become angry.  Very angry!  She got in the car a couple weeks ago to try to run away from the whole situation.  I guess that's what she was doing.  No one really knows where she was headed.  I like my mother-in-law's theory that my mom was trying to go back to how things used to be.  I know that's not a place but it makes perfect sense.  But, she was angry and yelling and we already know she's become an unsafe driver (I've seen her run a red light, weave in and out of her lane, cut people off, change lanes without looking and cause someone to swerve....I've filed a driver safety form with the department of motor vehicles for her to be tested).  So, we were scared!  I asked my brother-in-law who's a sheriff what to do when that was happening and he told me to call 911 and file a "Silver Alert".  I did.  Luckily, she got home safely.  

My brother and his family were heading over to visit as that was all happening.  But, she locked the doors and told my brother to "GO AWAY!".  After a while, she came out with her car keys and wanted to leave again.  My brother wasn't about to let her drive in that condition.  It wouldn't be safe!  She could hurt or kill herself or another person!  The situation became intense.  My dad was crying and my brother was having chest pains from the stress of it all.  Eventually my sister-in-law got her calmed down.  My brother later took mom's car key and told my dad.  He seemed supportive.  I'm sure that angered her when she found out.  But, it was the right thing to do.

Since then, we've become terrified of going over to our parent's house and the chance of that happening again.  So, we all go over there together.  But, sadly, even that backfires!  We had a nice visit the next weekend.  My dad enjoyed it very much and we enjoyed seeing him and my mom and that our time together went smoothly.  But....she's complained ever since.  She says that I "smiled and acted like nothing was wrong".  What did she want me to do?!  Bring it all up and provide the opportunity for her to escalate the situation again? NO WAY!  That won't help anyone or anything!  The conversation would have just gone in circles and upset everyone.  

My brother and I talk a lot these days.  Sometimes daily.  It's SO hard knowing what to do.  But, for right now, we're figuring that she is going through an anger and denial stage and that we're only going over there together....with my brother's sweet sons.  Because, in front of them, she's less likely to cause a scene.  We're hoping that in time she'll calm down and welcome our love and support

My poor dad.  He calls me when she's not around and tells me how hard this is for him and that he doesn't know how much longer he can stand it.  She's been repeating the same false and negative stories over and over and over.  She's so angry!  And, sometimes she cries.  If only she'd allow us to love her through it!  We've decided that all we can do right now is take it all a day at a time and deal with each thing as it comes up.

We're not sure what's wrong because she's refusing to go to the doctor.  Although, we have another appointment scheduled....fingers crossed we can get her there.  I've heard that a person with dementia can get mean, make up stories, and even pick one person that they take their frustration out on.  I seem the one that gets that role.  And, even though I've been told that she really does love me and that it's "mental illness" that's causing her to do and say these things, it's really hard.  I'm having to work very hard at finding ways to try to let it go and relieve my stress.  I'm so lucky to have such a supportive husband, daughter, brother, cousin, family, and friends!

Have you or do you know someone who's gone through something like this?  I'd appreciate hearing from you and hearing your stories about how you've dealt with it or are dealing with it.  I knew that the day would come that I'd need to help my aging parents but I never imagined something like this!