Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Miss My Mom

My brother sent me an article today about Darrell Royal, the beloved U.T. Longhorn coach who is now 88 years old and suffering with alzheimer's. In the article his wife, Edith, talks about how stressful it has been for her. She says that Darrell has kept a certain sense of humor and it still comes out at times. My mother was the same way. She had a killer sense of humor and it showed up even near the end or her life.

I miss her every day and I enjoy looking at pictures of the two of us enjoying ourselves even while dealing with the heartbreak of dementia. Her soul will continue to live on in all who knew and loved her.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

We Weren't Sissies

I would like to thank all my followers for your wonderful condolences.

You may have read on my blog that I had heart problems the day after my mom's memorial service. I had atrial flutter and my pulse was 150 beats per minute. After a night in the heart hospital ER, the doctors did a procedure to shock my heart back to its normal rhythm. Last week I had a heart ablation. It's a procedure where they find the place where your heart starts fluttering, then they electrically cauterize this area and in most cases, it stops the problem for good.

My doctor told me my ablation went well and that it was unlikely that I will have the problem again. This was a wake-up call on many levels. First of all, I have always taken care of myself physically and I didn't even know my heart was racing. That's what caregiving stress does to you. It's easy to tune out in times of crisis. It is also a wake-up call because I am exhausted. I've been sleeping a lot and slowing down. I'm not going to work out at the YMCA for at least a couple of months until my doctor gives me the okay. Everything has slowed down and I'm happy about that. I have great friends who have been here for me.

I have visited my mom's grave two times to take flowers and I feel very good about her not suffering anymore. I will miss her always but I know that death is something she did not fear. I haven't written anything on the blog lately and I don't know if I will in the future. My blog was how I coped. Now I must embrace my new life.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dorothy's Obituary

Dorothy Elizabeth Andrews, age 91, our beloved mother, grandmother, and great grandmother passed away on Saturday, April 14th. Dorothy was a proud Austin native and lifelong member of First Baptist Church. Dorothy was preceded in death by her parents, Magnolia Elizabeth Turpen and Joe Turpen, her husband, John Rabb Andrews, her brother, Joe Francis Turpen, her granddaughter, Lauren Andrews, and her grandson, Johnny Andrews. She is survived by her children, Terry Andrews and his wife Cathy, Gary Andrews and his wife Esther, Tom Andrews and his wife Bopha, Billy Andrews and his wife Debbie, and her daughter, Jonthy Williams. Grandchildren, Heather Scott, Airon Andrews, and Gary Andrews and great grandchildren, Nathan, Holly, and Samantha Scott. Dorothy graduated from Austin High School in 1937 and The University of Texas at Austin with a BA major in Sociology in 1941. She was employed by the Austin Parks and Recreation (where she met her future husband, John), the Methodist Student Union, and later, at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Dorothy loved the professors that relied on her secretarial skills. She loved the people she worked with in all her jobs. She was a Sunday School teacher at First Baptist church for decades. In 1968, her class was named the Business Women’s Class. Almost 30 years later, the class changed its name to the Dorothy Andrews Class in honor of their beloved teacher. Throughout their years together, as these women matured from college coeds to retirees and beyond, they took care of each other. Dorothy’s favorite group of friends called themselves “The Widders. The womens’ husbands were serving their country in World War II and the group found comfort and support in their bi-monthly get-togethers to share news of family and friends. Fortunately, none of “The Widders” lost a husband in combat. Over the years many of the group have passed away. Dorothy, however, still met with her two old friends, Clara Nell Broadbent, and Gilly Chelf, for lunch every other Thursday. Dorothy and Gilly even convinced their daughters, Jonthy, Pat, and Sandy to become the new generation of the group. Dorothy was deeply loved by her family and she participated in each of their lives with generosity, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. Her children were at her bedside the day that she died. She will always live on in their hearts as a teacher of what it is to be fully human. Visitation will be at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 North Lamar Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78705. Tuesday, April 17th, from 6-8 p.m. Graveside service will be at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18th at Austin Memorial Park, 2800 Hancock Drive. A memorial service will follow at First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas 78701 at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18th. Honorary contributions in Dorothy’s name can be made to the First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Dorothy’s family invite friends and family to join us afterward at our home for fellowship and refreshments.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Life Well Lived

My mom passed away this evening. Her death was peaceful.
All five children were by her side and told her we loved her.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back in the Game

My mom has been moved out of the Alzheimer's unit at the nursing home. She is now using a geri-chair and must be pushed by family or staff. This chair has helped her relax and be comfortable. She now eats in the regular dining hall and is more peaceful than I've seen her in a long time. She holds hands and tells us she loves us and is very talkative although most of what she says we can't understand. I just go with the flow and respond the best I can. She looks 100% better since her ankle wound has healed.

I met my brother, Billy, today at her lunchtime and she held his hand and wanted to kiss him over and over. She has a remarkable ability to recover from setbacks. Hospice told me that we should just enjoy our mother as long as we can and that is what I am doing. The new nursing home is very professional and they always keep me up to date. Hospice calls once a week to give me a report so my stress level has gone down a good deal.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


My brother, Tom, and his daughter, Airon, visited with mom/grandmother this weekend. My mom couldn't wake up when we first arrived in the morning so we decided to go back at her lunchtime. She still had her eyes closed but was eating food that the CNA provided.

After a while she started to slowly respond to our voices but just barely opened her eyes. We all told her that we loved her and she responded by thanking us and telling us she loved us too. Then she added, almost as an afterthought "I want to die." My brother told her that she was loved by many and we didn't want her to die. I must admit I was a bit shocked and grieved to hear my mom's words but I also understood why she spoke them.

Today, I realized that my mom is still bringing her family together and teaching us about love for one another. I enjoyed visiting with my brother and my niece and It was great to have my brother's company for two nights. We talked about old times (good and bad) and I felt that he and Airon provided a loving conversation with my mom no matter how one-sided it was at times. I take solace in the fact that I told my mom I loved her last week and she said "I love you too." When I told her I was thrilled to hear her say that, she responded, "I may not think it but it's in my heart." Her words were profound.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lunch with Dorothy

My mom's appetite has improved over the last month. I think this may help her to fight off infections. Her ankle is doing better each day. I am never shocked to find out that she has some skin breakdown somewhere on her body. This week it's her bottom. Sitting in a wheelchair or being in bed is hard on an elderly person's skin. Her nursing home is always quick to react and they, along with my mom's hospice team do their best to aggressively treat any problems that arise.

My mom is going to get a more comfortable wheelchair this week and I think this will help to keep pressure sores to a minimum. My mom sleeps a lot and it is sometimes difficult to wake her to go to her meals but the staff does a good job of getting her up and going. One of the CNA's told me yesterday that she is really quite chatty. She will start down one path and then totally change directions about what she is trying to communicate. One of my favorite CNA's told me that in-between her wild thought processes she speaks some real truths.

My mom had a tear in her eye when I took this photo but it was not because she was sad. She, like a lot of us here in Austin are suffering from allergies spawned by a very wet spring.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Come-back Kid

I joined my mom for her lunch today and was amazed at how good she looked. She ate salisbury steak, navy beans, cabbage, and her dessert. She drank two glasses of cranberry juice.

The activities director told me she gave my mom a puzzle to put together today and that she finished it. A lady who is an Alzheimer's resident told me she was my mom's friend and I thanked her for that and gave her a hug. My mom is doing much better in this smaller environment.

The CNAs are professional and hospice comes three times a week to give her a shower. She is still wearing booties on her feet but she doesn't seem to be in any pain. She insists on wearing her cowboy hat and is slowly getting back into the saddle. I know I made the right decision on the new nursing home. My mother gets lots of attention and is not lost.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Alzheimer's has Taken it's Toll on Mom and Daughter

Early this evening was a typical visit with my mom. I find her deep asleep when I arrive. I decided to bring her food tray in to feed her this evening. It took a while to wake her before I could get her to eat. I decided to put my head on her pillow and I told her I was taking our picture. She opened her eyes a bit. I checked on her feet in their booties and was happy to see there was not a lot of swelling like last week.

My mom ate about half of her meal this evening. She loves fruit and cranberry juice. She did pretty well with her turkey and spaghetti and some squash casserole. After dinner I held her hand as she was drifting off to sleep. Her last words to me this evening were "Let's go home." Almost before the words were out of her mouth she was asleep.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Never Give Up on Dorothy

My mother never ceases to amaze me. She was up and rolling around in her wheelchair when I arrived today. She had just had a shower and they doctored her ankle. I took her to drink some coffee with me and then I tossed a big beach ball around with her until her dinner time.
She is from pioneer stock, no doubt about it.