Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why Won't You Let Me Talk To Her?

My mom is losing the concept of how to use a phone. She never uses her cell phone anymore; I think it's completely foreign to her. Most times that the phone rings in her house, she doesn't answer. On occasion, she will look at the caller ID and answer,

"Oh, Jones, Jeffrey? Is this Jones Jeffrey...Cassandra?"

She's become especially frustrated with answering machines. She doesn't understand the purpose of an answering device and thinks that it is an actual person talking to her. She talks back into the phone and becomes agitated when nobody will respond to her.

A couple of weeks ago, I took mom to her hair appointment. I told her I would be there between 2:30-2:40 to pick her up (that was a mistake...she doesn't know what "between times" means). I left my house at 2:30 and found her waiting, peering out her living room window as she watched for my arrival.

When I returned home later that afternoon, I found two messages on my machine from mom. This was one of them.

Interpretation: "buhuhubuhuhu (mumbling)...Jeff Jones house too? I'm trying to call Cassandra? No, you're not talking to tell me too no? Uh, darn it."

there was one more message, similar to this in which she gets frustrated that the person on the other end won't give me the phone. Poor thing thinks she is being ignored!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bubbles Bubbles, Everywhere

A few weeks ago, mom got a touch of spring fever. She did some laundry (only hers), washed some dishes and even started the dishwasher. You can see why dad was not so thrilled about mom’s cleaning spree.


Just an fyi: dish soap does NOT belong in the dishwasher. I’m not sure how long it took dad to get rid of the suds…but I’m fairly certain he’s assured mom that he’d be happy to take care of the dishwasher and washing machine from here on out!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Walk To End Alzheimer’s 2014

It’s that time of year again! The time that I begin my fundraising for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Actually, I’m behind on getting started with this. Time to get on the ball!

As many of you know, my family has formed “Team Dee” and we walk every year for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my mom. We have a lot of fun doing it and it’s a way that we all rally together in support of mom and each other. We always make it fun by having a little friendly competition. My dad, Aunt and myself always compete to see who can raise the most money. As of right now, my Aunt is kicking all of our butts ;) It’s always a close finish but somehow I still end up on the bottom of the three of us. I have, however, been a successful champion each year (meaning I’ve raised over $500). Our team has been on the top family fundraising list and we DID win an award last year for the Best Dressed team…we will defend our title again this year!

DSCN4687On a more serious note, this Organization is a blessing to many lives. For the families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association provides resources, research, support groups, respite care, etc at no cost to the family. With the overwhelming costs already associated with this disease, this lightens the burden at least a little. They wouldn’t be able to provide so much without the generous donations of others. It is a very worthy cause and organization to contribute to. If you feel inclined to make a donation, please visit my personal page and donate to me. If you like my dad or another team member better, you can donate to either of them and I’ll try not to get my feelings hurt ;) BUT…if you do donate, please make sure it is on one of our personal pages rather than on the team page; if it’s on the team page no individual gets credit for it and we’re all working for our t-shirts and medals!

We are always welcoming anyone who wants to join our team, you don’t have to be family to walk with us!! If you are uncomfortable with fundraising, you don’t even have to do fundraising (although this is the primary purpose of the walk). My point is, if you want to join in support, it’s very low key and we’d love to have you on our team! We would especially love more family to join with us…we have lots from dad’s family joining us, ironically nobody yet from mom’s…hint hint ;) Sign up today!!

If you’d like to donate to this cause, please visit my page by clicking here!

Mom’s Resourcefulness

Last night, my girls spent the night at my mom’s house. Dad had an out-of-town job this week, so we’ve been taking care of her while he’s gone.

When I went to pick them up this morning, I found this note attached to the door (left for the church ladies who come to “babysit” her"…she leaves notes like these on the door every week).

notes At first glance, I thought she had glued it on the door. Upon further inspection (and a little sniffing), I discovered the glue-like substance to not be glue at all. She had, in fact, used her “Moonlight Path” lotion to attach the note. You’ve got to give her some points for creativity on this one. It’s no wonder why she has to stock pile on the serves many purposes!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

No More Gift Cards

A couple of weeks ago, my brother came into town (he lives in Arizona). For mom's birthday, he bought her a gift card to one of her favorite places-Bath & Body Works. A while back, I instituted a new family rule: If you buy mom a gift card, you have to take her to spend it. It just didn't seem fair for me to hog all the fun ;) If you haven't gone shopping with mom then you probably don't understand why I am enforcing this rule. I don't think my brother fully understood the chore it is to take my mom out. After his experience last week, I don't think he'll be buying her anymore gift cards.

My brother so graciously agreed to let me share his story of his shopping experience with mom. I've had a lot of adventures with mom, but this one almost takes the cake. She is definitely getting harder and harder to take out! I'm posting the link to his blog so you can read it straight from the horse's mouth. The first part of his post is catching his readers up to speed (if you are a consistent reader of mine, you have already heard most of it). You can either read from his point of view or scroll down under the asterisks to read about his adventures with mom at Bath & Body Works.

To read Joe's post, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Birthday What?


aubrey birthToday is my daughter’s 9th birthday. She is my firstborn (biological) child. I still remember the day she was born; it seems like only yesterday. My mom had nursed me through my sickly pregnancy and was with me the entire time during labor and delivery. Never did you see a more proud grandma than my mom!

Dementia has brought many unpleasant changes. One thing we’ve been impressed with is mom’s ability to remember everyone’s birthdays. [You might remember my post about shopping with mom for birthday cards]. Today we stopped by mom’s house to check in with her. I brought my birthday girl in with me and asked mom if she remembered what was special about today. When I got no response, pulled Aubrey to my side and told mom it was her birthday. Mom sat in her computer chair and was fixed on her computer screen, not looking towards me at all. I continued to prompt her to see if I could spark her memory. I knew she had a special card tucked away somewhere for Aubrey.

“Mom, it’s June 10th. It’s Aubrey’s birthday, remember?”

“June June, what’s June?” mom asked, her gaze never leaving her computer screen.

I pulled the calendar off the wall and presented it in front of her, pointing to the date. After ten minutes of trying to explain to mom that it was Aubrey’s birthday, I finally gave up. Tears welled up in my eyes but I held strong, not wanting to break down in front of my daughter. On my way out the door, I said my usual “good-bye mom, love you” and that finally caught mom’s attention.

“What, why are you going why did you come so short?” she asked.

“I’m taking Aubrey to lunch for her birthday, it’s her birthday today, mom. I tried explaining that to you,” I stated, resigned to the fact that mom would not remember her firstborn granddaughter’s birthday.

Mom sat with a blank look on her face for a few seconds and then it finally clicked.

“Oh today is Aubrey’s birthday? Today? Can I give her that card thing?” she mumbled.

[On a side note, mom’s language is becoming very slurred and garbled; this is my translation of her mumblings].

“Yes mom, I know you have a special birthday card for her,” I offered as I followed her into her bedroom.

Mom retrieved her pile of birthday cards and looked through each one. Every family birthday from now until the end of the year is tucked away in an envelope and addressed to the birthday person. I helped her find Aubrey’s card (which was misspelled as “Abry”) and she took the card out of the envelope to see if there was a signature.

“Can I do this here too?” she asked. I handed her a pen and she signed the card as Aubrey sat down on the bed next to her. She smiled at Aubrey as she gave her the card. Aubrey gave her grandma a hug and we tried to get a picture with her. This was the best we could get (mom is rubbing her lips together). She doesn’t understand the concept of pictures anymore.


aubrey bday

After we had left, I showed Aubrey the picture of her grandma holding her on the day she was born. I told her of grandma’s pride and excitement at her arrival. I reminded her of how very much her grandma loved her. I told Aubrey to keep and cherish that birthday card from grandma forever. It is probably the very last one that she will ever receive from her.

Monday, June 9, 2014


When I started having babies, I always imagined my mom being there for the big milestones in their lives. I was very close to my grandma while growing up. She was there for everything…from the smaller things such as birthdays and choir concerts and piano recitals to the bigger life events-my baptism, graduations and weddings. I suppose I took for granted the fact that I had a loving, active grandma in my life and I naively assumed nothing would be different when I had my own kids.

Every year brings about changes with dementia. This is the first year that my mom is declining to come to her grandchildren’s birthday parties. While she did come to my son’s birthday (in April), she has not made an appearance at any other grandchild’s birthday.

10371729_10203094393835001_4260529978184702933_nThis past month, our two oldest girls graduated high school. This, of course, was a big deal and I spent hours preparing not only for the graduation itself, but for a party in their honor. Even though the girls are not my children by birth (Amber is my stepdaughter and Maurina is my husband’s niece who we adopted), my family has never differentiated them from the rest of our kids. My parents have always accepted them and treated them just as their own biological grandkids. I had always imagined my mom being there for these big life moments. But the concept is gone. This is the first big milestone that she’s missed with her grandkids. I could not even get her to understand the concept of graduation, let alone get her out to a graduation ceremony or family party. I admit it was hard not having my mom there with us. It is becoming a part of life-to not have her there. Though we are adjusting and accepting the fact that mom cannot be “there” for us anymore, every holiday, every birthday, every life milestone has an emptiness without her presence.

On a side note, this post wouldn’t be complete without thanking those people in my life who are always there for me in times when I need them most. I miss not having my mom here to help prepare for holidays, parties, etc; not just physically, but emotionally as well. Thank you to the people who are there for me emotionally and a big thank you to my amazing Aunt Peggy and Uncle David who took time off work and drove down from Northern California for graduation week. While they were here, they made a point to come not only to graduation, but also to my son’s baseball game and my daughter’s swim meet. There were here with me all day on Friday prepping for the party and my Aunt stayed up until midnight the night before their drive down to make cake pops for the party. I am truly grateful that my Aunt takes the time to be there for me and for my children in the absence of my mom. She’s probably the closest thing I have to a mother figure right now and I love her dearly! Also, my sister-in-law, Amber, spent her entire morning the day of the party to help me out with decorating cupcakes and food prep. Anytime I have a big event like this going on, she is always there to help. I appreciate that so much. And, even though my Aunt Ellen was sick and unable to attend the party, her husband brought by a couple of platters of food. She had offered to bring something “since [my] mom isn’t around to help” any longer. That was a very meaningful gesture. Though I will always miss my mom, I am so grateful for the people in my life who try to help fill that void; both those that I’ve listed and many more that I haven’t!

And of course thank you to the rest of the family and friends who came to celebrate with us and shower the girls with gifts and love!