Wednesday, April 27, 2011

mission accomplished

This blog is in purple. Purple was my Mom's favorite color when she remembered she had a favorite color. She had purple clothes and purple stuffed animals and a bumper sticker on her car that said,"I love purple!" Monnya and I went to Alamagordo, New Mexico last weekend to pick my Mom up and bring her to her new home in Boulder. We planned the trip to include a little side trip first to Ojo Calleinte hot springs and Sante Fe. It was so much fun to have that time for mother daughter bonding. Our love for each other is fierce and supportive as we push each other to stretch beyond our ideas about who we each can be. We went on a hike as it was getting dark that I think either of us would've been afraid to do on our own. I am so blessed to have her for a daughter and a friend. We have done the work to move into the role of adult friends with each other and it is very satisfying.
Then we headed toward Alamogordo where my mother has lived for four years. For the last year I have been feeling more and more dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the way the place was run. The caretakers are overworked and underpaid. They cared and had no time to really hang out with my Mom. It was a locked alzheimer's unit with no stimulation. I had the feeling that given more loving contact she would deteriorate less quickly. When I found Anam Chara, which means soul friend, I was so excited. It is in a house in a neighborhood and their intention is to nurture the residents in body mind and spirit. The director is passionate about his work and the contribution he is making. The people who work there really like working there. It is set up to feel like a family, not an institution. They have healthy real food and a beautiful yard with rosebushes and a pond.
When we arrived my sister had packed up all my Mom's stuff. She worked really hard for four years to manage my Mom's care. She resisted the move initially and then realized she was really ready for a break.
I woke up on Saturday morning with the word "grueling" drumming in my brain as I thought about leaving at 6am on Sunday and doing the trip in one day. For several weeks I had been going back and forth in my mind about whether to make the trip back to Boulder in two days or one. I went to see my mom early that morning and feeling her sweetness I wanted to make the trip be an adventure rather than a grueling attempt at transporting her as quickly as possible. Even though she is sometimes very out of it, her humanity shines through. She is much sweeter than she was before she lost her memory. She no longer cares that Gary isn't Jewish. She doesn't even know that she is.
We stayed in a nice motel and Monnya and I took care of her. The gods were with us and I didn't have to change one poopy diaper. I am willing to because she certainly did it for me and I was very relieved.
That morning when I woke up early to do my disciplines Monnya and my mom were each sleeping in their respective beds in the same position. I felt an almost unbearably deep tenderness for the two of them that brought me to tears. We are a sandwich the three of us and I am the filling in the middle.
It was so moving to watch Monnya feed my Mom. She said she was getting a baby fix which was really satisfying for her. Monnya went to walmart and bought Mom purple accessories so she could make a fashion statement upon her arrival. Mom looked so cute in her new purple knitted cap.
We arrived in Boulder and moved Mom into her new welcoming home. We decorated the room together and mom had dinner. It was healthy and delicious and I had some too. I left to go back to my Boulder house satisfyed that we had found Mom a place to live out the last stage of her life with dignity and even some fun. I feel such a sense of peace and joy. Rescue mission accomplished . Thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Moving Mom

It is good to be back to writing. I am adjusting slowly to having two houses and two lives. I am slowly building a life for myself in Boulder. Gary and I are both challenged by living together and we seem to be able to work most things out. The love between us seems to be deeper than our personality selves. It is helpful to bring ourselves back to that connection when our egos butt heads. The newest development is that on April 21st my daughter Monnya and I are going to Alamogordo New Mexico to pick up my Mom and move her to Boulder. I found a lovely, holistic place for her called Anam Chara. Anam Chara means soul friend. My Mom is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer's. It was a challenging time for my sister and I as we worked through the decision making process about whether to move Mom or not. The place she is isn't a bad place. Her body is maintained and the people who work with her are generally caring. They are also underpaid and overworked. There is little time to interact with the residents and my Mom gets very little stimulation. They have recently hired a part time activities director and things have gotten a little better. The new place is in a home and the people who work there consider themselves a family. They value the last stage of life and the passage from this life. The director is a conscious loving man and my fellow laughter leader is a caregiver. It is a not- for- profit organization that attracts lots of volunteers who come and spend time with the residents. This process has been a validation of trusting in my intuition. Although I was scared to pursue this move with my sister it felt so right to me from the beginning. Gary and I went to meet with the director. It was so helpful to have Gary's support. Right away I was struck by the director's kindness and his passion for running a sustainable business that would actually help people. I knew that if I had dementia Anam Chara is where I would want to be. I wanted that for my Mom. I know that even though my mother sometimes doesn't recognize me that she is still a being in there. I want her to be surrounded with people who get that. I want to be closer to her. This move is also for me. There is some kind of a circle of completion about me caring for my mom. Even though her parenting was often wounding she loved me the best she was capable of. It's good to have a concrete way to give back. I am so glad that Monnya will be driving down with me to get Mom. We will have some connecting time together and I so appreciate her help. My sister will help us pack Mom up. This process has been very healing for my sister and I. We have come to a better understanding of each other and there is more space for us to express our love now. We are very different and are also great teachers for each other. She is a master of the material plane where I am often challenged. I am afraid and excited about how this will impact my life. My life feels so full. I want to use the feeling of overwhelm to know that I need to ask for help from my family and friends and also from my spiritual support. I want to remember to use the burning in my chest and the shortness of my breath and the tension in my shoulders to know I need to draw my circle around myself and breathe deeply and soothe myself. I need to say 'of course' to my feeling overwhelmed and hold myself tenderly. I need to speak to myself gently. I know that the way I speak to myself or my self-talk influences how I feel about myself and how I see the world. I am learning to speak to myself as I would to my daughter rather than as how my mother spoke to me. I am reparenting myself. What do you notice about your self-talk? Can you use the awareness of bullying yourself to remember the need for compassion? What would be a compassionate way for you to speak to yourself? Imagine you are a being filled with compassion that could actually shift your neural pathways with comfort. Ask for help if you don't know what to say.Would you be willing to set a conscious intention to practice conscious kindness?