Friday, February 20, 2015

Our Eventful Morning

Sometimes, a day spent with mom can be quiet and a little boring. She rarely comes out to the living room or kitchen anymore, unless it is to retrieve food or medicine. She keeps herself tucked away in her room or in the computer room. On those days we sometimes wonder, does she really need someone here at every hour of the day?

And then we have a day like today. And we are reminded with certainty that mom should not be left alone.

To make a long story short, we had nobody to watch mom this morning. I found out yesterday that her usual Friday morning caregiver had a last minute doctor's appointment that she had to attend. Everyone I called had appointments and I had a dentist appointment this morning as well. And you know how those go...if you don't give a 24 hour cancellation notice, they charge you for the missed appointment. Mom had told me yesterday afternoon that she didn't want anyone over this morning because she had to wash her hair and take a shower. So after a few fruitless phone calls and talking with my dad, we (apprehensively) figured she would be okay until I was done with my dentist appointment, at which point I would come by and stay with her.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked up to mom's front door after my appointment this morning; both doors were closed and locked. The last time mom had made an escape, she left the door cracked open. I assumed she was home. I let myself in the house, locked the door behind me, set down my things, and got my son settled in. Then I made my way to the back of the house to see what mom was up to. The door to the computer room was shut and it was about that time that she would normally be playing her games. I turned on the knob, expecting it to be locked (as usual) but to my surprise it immediately opened. Mom's desk chair was empty. That grabbed my attention right away and as I glanced further down the hall, my heart skipped a beat; mom's bedroom door was wide open (she never leaves her door open when she's in there). I rushed to her room and as expected, her bed was empty. I looked in her usual hiding places-the closet, bathroom, alongside her bed.

"Mom? Mom, where are you?!" I called, trying not to panic.

When I searched all the rooms in the house and couldn't find my mom, I knew well enough that she had gotten out. I grabbed my purse and my keys and my son (who was protesting that he hadn't gotten his peanut butter and jelly sandwich yet) and hurried out the front door. I figured there were only a few places she would have gone: the Avon lady's house (which I would've likely seen her if that was the case, as the Avon lady is at her other job right now and mom would have been walking back home), the grocery store or my Aunt's house. Being that it is Friday, I turned on the street leading to my Aunt's house.

I made it almost the entire way to my Aunt's house when I finally spotted my mom at the top of the road, wearing her thick, fleece blue jacket and jeans and carrying one purse on each shoulder (one is for her lunch). [The advantage to mom wearing the same clothes everyday is that she's easy to find or describe in a situation like this!] She was walking my direction at the top of the street but not in her usual, fast paced sprint. Instead, her walk looked almost shuffled and she moved slowly, looking around as though she was confused. When I pulled up closer, I saw that her face was bright red and her make-up was dripping with the sweat on her skin. I pulled over to the side of the road, put the car park and put on my hazard lights and called to her,

"Mom, mom! It's me, Cassandra. Your daughter."

She looked confused.

"Ellen, Ellen? I'm trying to find Ellen's house..."she mumbled, waving her finger in the air.

"Mom it's me, Cassandra," I said, as I approached her. I put my arm around her and felt her hair, drenched in sweat. I directed her to the car, repeating to her who I was. After several seconds, she finally registered that it was me.

"Oh oh, Cassandra? You're Cassandra? But I couldn't find Ellen's house-it's so weird-I couldn't find it..." she said (with some other unrecognizable words mixed in here and there).

"I know momma, you shouldn't leave the house alone. I'm so glad you're okay," I said, helping her inside the car.

She continued her chatter about how she had been looking for her sister's house and it was obvious that she was very flustered and very tired. My heart hurt as I looked at my poor, confused mom. I swallowed the lump in my throat and said a silent prayer of gratitude that she was okay. I took her home and got her settled in (lunch and nap) but despite my efforts, I couldn't get her to take off her jacket or drink any water (although she did take some sips of her root beer). She complained that she was cold and it was no wonder; her shirt was completely drenched in sweat. Her eyes were pink and her face still flushed even half an hour later, but I could not get her to cooperate with me to change her clothes or take more than a small sip of water.

For now, she is resting in her bed. I am very glad that she is safe. It was a rough reminder that mom shouldn't be left alone. Next time, I'll just pay the darned appointment cancellation fee!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Foundation Update

Every now and then I like to give an update on all that is happening with The DEANA Foundation.

I've been working like a mad woman on this foundation. We've created an official Facebook page and ever since then we've been working really hard on getting our name out there; I feel as though I have another unpaid job. Ha ha. But I am so passionate about the cause that it hardly seems like work. I have an awesome board (4 other members besides myself) who all have strengths that are truly benefitting this foundation.

We are officially an incorporated charity and have filed for our non-profit status (just waiting on the IRS!). We have a beautiful logo that my cousin, Sam Harrington, designed. Note that he used my mom's silhouette. Amazing.

Our official website is up and running. We have plans to update it, but wanted something in the meantime while we raise enough funds to get it professionally detailed. The website address is:

We've hosted our first successful fundraiser. We had a pizza party at a local restaurant and we raised over $500 for our foundation. I was touched by the show of support from family, friends and our community. We have already began planning for our big opening event, which I am SO excited about. We are waiting until we've obtained our non-profit to set a date, but we are aiming for the end of August/beginning of September.

Right now, we have launched a campaign to help really get us up and running. We have filing fees to cover, our website, insurance to obtain, a venue to book for our "grand" opening event and other overhead costs (business cards, advertising, merchandise for our shop, etc). It takes a lot to get going, so we've created a campaign on indiegogo. Basically, we have 40 days to raise $3,000. We are currently at $400 and have 33 days left. I made a beautiful slideshow that is featured on our campaign. If you haven't seen it yet, visit our campaign and click on the "gallery" tab. You can do that HERE.

We have so many projects and events underway right now...I won't bore you with all of the details, but things really are coming along quite well. My vision for this foundation is to reach and help families across the globe. As we are just getting started, we will likely be helping those in our community first (that's where we receive most of our support right now). BUT, I have plans on how to expand this foundation to reach everyone, and hopefully that will happen very quickly. It will require some help from others across the country, but I'm happy to report that I already have contacts lined up to help in other states. Eventually, I want to see different chapters of The DEANA Foundation across the globe, much like the Alzheimer's Association. It may seem like a big feat, but we will get there, even if it takes us a decade or two to do it! If anyone is interested in volunteering and helping The DEANA Foundation in any capacity, please contact me or visit our website to learn how!

I want to thank everyone who has been a support to this foundation thus far. For all of the likes and shares on facebook, the donations, the participation in our first fundraiser...the list goes on. We could not do this without your help and support and we thank everyone who has contributed to that. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Blue Tuesday

I was going to write a completely different post today, but my head is in a different place. So here it goes.

I try not to post a lot of negativity on my blog. I try to write in a positive, uplifting and encouraging manner. I try not to let dementia get me down and I try not to feel sorry for myself; there are millions of other people out there who have lost their moms at a young age. But some days are just harder than others to keep smiling.

Today is just one of those days. Last night I was a bit emotional over some things, and as I lay in bed holding back the urge to cry, I turned to my husband and said,

"I wish I had my mom to talk to. She would know the right thing to say to me."

There's just something about a mother's love that compares to none else. My mom was the kind of mom who was always there to lend a listening ear and support. She would tell me the truth-even if I was in the wrong-but I knew she loved me and I always felt like she had everything figured out. Sometimes I feel a little lost without her; it's hard to figure things out on my own.

So, for those of you reading this post who still have a mother around, give her a call. Tell her you love her. Tell her how much she means to you. You never know what time you have left, and you never how much that time means until it's gone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Tip of the Tongue

The other night I had a dream. I woke up in the morning, knowing that I had a dream but I couldn't remember exactly what it was. I felt really bothered because the memory of it was right there, sitting at the back of my mind; I had a slight feeling that I knew what it about. But try as I might, I couldn't pull that memory to the forefront. I could not remember what I had dreamt. It was such a strange feeling- to have the sense that I knew what my dream was about, but unable to retrieve that memory.

The thought hit me: I wonder if this is how my mom feels?

Does she hear background noise, words in conversations around her, and have the sense that she knows what is being said but is unable to retrieve that memory and make sense of the words? Does she see the faces of her loved ones, and know that she knows them, yet she can't quite place them or figure it out? Do the words come to her, at the tip of her tongue, but she just can't spit it out? What a frustrating feeling it is, to feel the sense that there is something you should know, but unable to pinpoint it.

I imagine this is mom's whole world now. Each day, more and more of the things she once knew are pushed to a place where she can longer retrieve the memory of it.