Regressing and Progressing!

What a couple of weeks it’s been! 

We selected a new Family Practice doctor for Mom right here in Clinton. Tim and I did our usual teamwork to get Mom to the doctor. He picked her up, and I met them at the doctor’s office where I went first to fill out the forms. I learned a lot while we waited for the doctor to see us. I noticed right away, that we were serving as “entertainment” for the folks who were also in the waiting room. Mom and I looked at old family pics that I rotate on my phone, and we giggled and high-fived when she correctly identified family members. When she couldn’t remember who people were, I encouraged her anyway. People observing us quietly cheered or nodded when we cheered, and looked sad when Mom was confused. One woman even gave me a card and told me I could bring Mom in to get her hair and nails done for free!! Woo Hoo!!! 

Mom is still right on the money when it comes to the photos prior to 1950. She identified people she hadn’t previously been able to in pics from 1930. Cool!! On the downside, I also learned that Mom can no longer write her name. She can spell it out loud, and did so LOUDLY, but could write only the D and the O on the page. Waiting room observers looked really sad, BUT I said, “it’s ok, let’s finish it together, I finished the letters R I S, she approved my handwriting on the form and we both laughed!! I so love her sense of humor! In the pic below with my grandparents from 1944, Mom is in the back row on the right and is 15 years old. My aunt Diane isn’t in this pic as she was a surprise and wasn’t born until two years later in 1946. This is Mom’s favorite pic. 


Watching Mom struggle with writing the letters of her name reminded me of the time I spend drawing and coloring with Kendal. I always write her name and then sound it out for her before coloring it. I am having a ball choosing colors and scribbling on plain paper with Kendal, and she either approves or disapproves of what I put on the paper!! “Noooooooooooo GRAMMY!!!”, she says if I don’t select a color to her liking. Once again I’m reminded that in their lives, Mom is regressing and Kendal is progressing at lightning speed – Opposite ends of the spectrum! 

When It was our turn to see the doctor, she was as wonderful as I thought she’d be. She’s young, caring and very thorough. I learned something else very interesting that day. The buzz about my book is really getting around!! When the doctor complimented me on the great care I was providing for my Mom, I told her about the book, and said that she was going to fit into our medical team very well!! When she inquired more about our book, I signed a copy and gave it to her. She took one look at it and said “I’ve heard of this book!”. It could be because the rest of Mom’s medical team in Clinton have read it too. The doctor promised to read it and give me feedback. That was very exciting! At the end of the visit, I got the referral for a Clinton endicrinologist we needed for Mom’s thyroid medicine. Mission accomplished!! 

Then this week, our little Kendal had to go to the doctor for wheezing!! I was terrified!! She needed a breathing treatment but was terrified of the machine. Herb was a fabulous dad and as Kendal screamed her head off in fear, he came up with the idea of naming the breathing machine Henry so she’d calm down and accept the breathing treatment. Brilliant!!! I learned that sometimes it takes unconventional methods to calm a loved one down. I knew that I’d probably have to think quickly on my feet like Herb one day to calm Mom down too.  Mom doesn’t cry like Kendal when she’s afraid, but she does yell out, and is in just as much emotional pain. By yesterday when I went to Kim’s to learn how to operate the breathing machine, Kendal was an old pro at it, fully realizing that Henry the machine and the medicine in it was helping her to get well. 

I went to see Mom yesterday too. She was in the bathroom at the time I arrived, so I waited in her room for a minute. But I heard her talking loudly to herself saying her usual “I don’t know what I’m doing” over and over. But she sounded more afraid than usual. So I went to the bathroom door and knocked quietly and said “Hi Mom, I’ll be right here when you come out”. She said “I’ll be out in a minute”, but I could tell she didn’t recognize my voice. When she came out and saw me standing out in the hall, she threw her arms around me and said “Loretta, how did you know I needed you?”. My heart melted, and I said “i just knew”. 

We went to her room, and her new favorite book was on the bed. Written by my Rector and friend Paul Roberts Abernathy, the book is titled “For the Living of These Days” and is a book of his sermons. She still seemed a little afraid so to make conversation I asked Mom what she was reading. She read the title out loud of course, and she said the book was signed for her and that it “makes her feel better”. REALLY?? I wondered if she knew what she was saying. She proved she did by adding “OK, I have to read now”. I felt like it was a dismissal, so just to confirm I asked if she wanted me to sit with her while she read. “NO, I have my book, and I’m learning about living. You can go now”. ALLLLL Righty then!!!! LOL!! I was dismissed by a book, but excited too! It may have only been a momentary connection to reality, but if reading a sermon makes her feel better, I’m all for it!! I got my coat and waved goodbye but she was so busy reading she didn’t even look my way!! Love you Mom, see you next time!


6 thoughts on “Regressing and Progressing!

  1. As alwayssss Mrs V. I look forward to the way you so vividly capture the time spent with your mom. I’m happy to hear there is a new member of your medical team. Gooo mom!!!

    • Thanks Lt, Col. Gen!!! I really do love writing the blog. I’m learning so much more than i can really explain from my relationship with Mom and Kendal and writing about it brings it more in focus for me!

  2. love, Love, LOVE this post!!! I’m soooooo proud of the impact the book is making! This is soooooo AWESOME!! There are INDEED alot of parallells between she and Kendal and it must be quite the journey being between the two.

    I am really happy that she did recognize you immediatley and hugged you. I too wonder what she’s gleaning from the book. I imagine that when she is more lucid, it is providing a great sense of comfort for her. I’m also reaaaally curious about the reading and writing. How is it that she can’t spell her name anymore, yet reads so fluently still? That’s really interesting. Well at the rate our Kendal is learnjng, maybe she can tell us next year – LOL!

    • Kim,

      THANKS!!!! Learning from Mom and from Kendal at the same time is amazing! On the days when I have seen them both, the visits truly balance each other out. If Mom’s visit makes me sad, it only lasts a minute when I think of my time with Kendal and then usually laugh out loud. Watching how Kendal learns and how Mom “unlearns” is simply jaw dropping!! And a lot of fun too!! I just realized that having Kendal without a doubt helps me deal with my emotions about Mom. Truly a blessing!! I’m beyond grateful for both experiences!

    • Carole,
      I’m getting such an education myself!! I’m amazed by how much this blog is healing and exciting for me!! I’m always wondering what will happen next. I’m never afraid because there are so many people, including you who are firmly supporting me! I’m grateful!

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