Rest In Peace Alina

My mother’s journey on Earth is over. She died on Tuesday February 7, 2017.  When I left North Avenue Villa early Tuesday morning I felt that the time was soon. I felt that Tuesday would be the day. Alina lived without her Arthur for 21 weeks.

On Thursday my Mom was laid to rest at Home of Peace, a Jewish Cemetery in Sacramento. Rabbi Reuven Taff met with me and my brother on Wednesday. In addition to sharing family stories I appreciated the time taken to listen to me. It allowed me some peace at a stressful time. The rainy day seemed fitting.

In the Chapel my brothers and I told stories about my Mom. Each had a different realationship to her. But what made me proud was my son Joshua’s rememberances. And then my granddaughter Alyssa spoke. Right from the heart. My goodness I will always be glad that I included her in my visits to Mom. Time well spent!

My friends turned out to support me. I again asked Anne to help with the Meal of Condolences. Liz offered to host the meal at her house. Such a trememdous relief for me.  Zelda, Eva, Susan, Diane, Liz and Anne are such special friends. Thank you!

I feel sad that our time together is over. I tried my best to take care of her. My parents are together, and they gave me a great foundation. I know that her heart was with my Dad. They met after the war and saved each other!  Another Holocaust Survivor has past. I am grateful for having my Mom.

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Endings and Beginnings

My Mom is in hospice at North Avenue Villa Board and Care home, and there has been continuous care nurses for the past few days.  I respect her wishes to join my Dad, and allow the dying process to control her. Today is day 7 without food or water.

Vitas helps to make sure that she is comfortable. The first couple of days were difficult. Mom was in pain, and the comfort drugs did not make much of a dent. Very hard to watch and hear. My brothers arrived a couple of days into the process, and we take turns sitting by her side. Being able to take a break helps.  My daughter provided some delicious home cooked meals. That was a big support.

When my Dad passed away about  5 months ago we knew my mother would want to be with her husband. So no additional funeral planning is necessary.

For most of my life I have taken direction from my responsibilities: education, marriage, jobs, kids, grandkids, and parents. It has been nearly 9 years since I moved my parents to Sacramento. Before that I was traveling back and forth to Arizona to help there.  Never experienced empty nest time, and about 3 years ago my oldest grandson came to live with us. I understand that it is hard for young people to start out, but I feel that I now need to grab the reins of my life with my husband.

After my Dad died I had no time to really grieve because I made it my role to take care of Mom the way my Dad had taken care of her. I tried to make this time together a new journey for her. I did not succeed because inevitably Mom never accepted her Arthur’s death. We could spend the day together and suddenly she would say we should check on Dad.

Since I spent many days together I thought it would be interesting to find out about the happier times in my Mom’s life before the Nazis came and destroyed her youth.  Each time I visited I picked a new topic: favorite foods, toys, sports. Sometimes I would ask about my grandparents. When I was growing up I heard so little about them. I barely knew more than their name.  I wanted to hear what they were like from her 14 year old point of view. Talking like this made time together enjoyable. But sometimes my Mom would drift into sadness, or an agitated Alzheimer state would appear. I never knew what Mom would  meet me. I do know that my dog Libby would be ready for all her emotions, and she would smile

For the first time the direction my life takes will be of my own choosing. This takes me out of my comfort zone. Plenty going through my head. I can’t even figure out how life may change. Maybe it is time to figure out my Bucket List.  Time is marching along faster and faster and I know that eventually I will become less independent. Need to grab some gusto with my husband and dog Libby!

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My path is opening up. Where will it lead me?

When It Rains ….

The rains came to Northern California. Much needed rain. After years of drought, and mild dry winters I am not out with my CTT group shooting. Instead I planned on using this time for editing, blogging, and organizing. Perfect way to start 2017. Thinking and organizing.

Then the other shoe dropped. One week into the new year and my mother falls into an abyss of her mind. Despite my effort to help my mother through the grief of loosing my father in September, she hasn’t accepted this concept. And after the past 3 weeks I am coming to understand that she will never remember this life changing event. Her dementia/Alzheimer disease escalated dramatically. Change is hard for most people, especially older individuals. Loss of a soul mate of 69 years is hard to overcome. Mom’s search for Dad, and her frightening screams were too much for others around her, and on a Sunday January 8th I got a call from assisted living that my Mom was in the ER for 3 hours all by herself. Imagine being strapped in a guerney and sent out. There was NO reason for her to be alone. 

The spiral continued with more changes. Medicine changes and adjustments, more trips to the ER, and more changes to her living arrangement. From assisted living to memory care is frequently the path in the larger corporate places. I went looking for a smaller, more personal approach at what they call a 6 bed Board and Care. I hope that there will be consistency. 

Still learning and trying to understand the world of dementia. Mom went back and forth three times to the ER in 2 weeks. Disappointed that my brothers did not step up. I felt exhausted. No surprise that despite the flu shot my body gave up. Went home with a pounding headache, and ended up with Trump Flu. It started on Friday as Trump took office. Symptoms included a high fever (101-102), pounding headache, chills, aches,and a cough for 4 days. Looking at any kind of screen hurt my head. My body and mind were in complete sync. Guess there is no preparing for the shit storm of life. Country be very, very afraid. Left helpless on the couch I drifted in and out for days. I couldn’t participate in any the the weekend Women’s Marches. I couldn’t be with my mother as she moves into her new place. I couldn’t even think.

So the sun came out this Tuesday morning, and my fever is gone. Legs still very wobbly. Able to get on the phone and speak with Mom. She was so sweet and said she should have come and taken care of me. Told her I needed a couple more days and I would be visiting.  I know that this disease is complicated. The Kaiser Memory Care Clinic told me that being a Holocaust survivor makes it even more so. Who knows what memories come back. 

Got busy completing arrangements to move all of Mom’s stuff out of the place she shared with my Dad. Moving day is Thursday, and tomorrow is the day to get organized. I’m running on about 50% energy, and I know I can’t go a whole day. So I will do the best I can and let the chips fall where they may.

Sleep clock all crazy so tomorrow is today. And another day starts and maybe I can try and hold back the tide.

 

 

 

Thanksgiving at home

For the past couple of years I have celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents at their place of residence. Easy for me, I just had to show up and be served. I kept saying was I was spending time with family, and that’s what mattered.

But I missed the smells throughout the house. Then there was the leftovers that I enjoy even more the next day. Growing up Thanksgiving always happened at my house. My father and mother would get up super early and stuff the turkey. Then house cleaned, Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television, and the table set. My aunts, uncles and cousins would start arriving in the afternoon. Sometimes some of the cousins would stay overnight. Sometimes a couple of friends would be invited to join us.

So this year I decided that I wanted to bring Thanksgiving back to my house. I invited my Mom, my daughter and her family, and my son and his family. Asked my brother to join us and he drove up from Southern California with a friend for Libby, Lola his Chocolate Lab. Vegetarian requirements and Thanksgiving with friends kept my son’s family in the Bay Area. Plans were set for 10. And two dogs, and two cats. This is a good number for getting back to cooking for a group. My granddaughter spent the night before, but she didn’t want to help stuff the bird. She helped make the corn bread as baking was more her thing.

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Turkey stuffed and ready for the oven. Beanie Baby Turkey looks on.

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Fully cooked and smelling great!

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Brother Carving the Turkey

Many smiles at the dinner table. I did not spend too much time with my photography. I wanted to spend time with the family, and not play the role of documentary photographer. This is the first Thanksgiving without my Dad, and I was glad to have family around me.

Plenty of food, plenty of filled tummies, and plenty of excitement.

When my guests left I checked my email, and found the distressing news that my Uncle Mark passed away on Thanksgiving at 104 years of age. Not unexpected, but nevertheless so soon after my father’s passing. The last of the brothers are now gone.

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Uncle Mark in 2004 taken during a visit to Florida

Here’s to holidays with family!