Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This is my last post on this blog

I'm home in California after a wonderful week filled with family and friends in Chicago.  We all gathered together for Peggy's funeral.  It was a catholic mass and a proper burial, a gravestone, flowers, a luncheon, and lots of hellos and goodbyes.

 Peggy died in December after 14 years with Alzheimer's disease.  They weren't all bad, some were worse than bad, and some were okay and even sometimes they were rather funny until she couldn't laugh with us anymore.  Between December 18th, 2016 and Saturday August 5th, 2017,  I was still heartbroken, not because she died but because she suffered with Alzheimer's, we all did suffered from the loss of her.  Not fair, not okay, not acceptable, not forgivable and I still felt not at peace, even though she supposedly was. Was she?  I still had her ashes in my closet and started to have anxious dreams about forgetting them somewhere between LA and Chicago for the burial.  I still felt the burden of having to make decisions for her without her guidance and I still felt like all I could remember about her, was her disease.

Then it rained in Chicago. The smell of the drops on the hot pavement in summer reminded me of summers with my family growing up and her running to her purse to give me a dollar for the ice cream truck. It was green and beautiful, with Black Eyed Susans (her favorite) everywhere. My brother arranged for family and friends to go to a rooftop Cubs game, and I could feel her memory sitting next to me on the bleacher seats, laughing in a cubs hat with gold earrings and little shoes. Then I showed, pointed, talked and bored my kids about everything I loved about where I grew up.  The place where my Mom was alive and where she was my Mom. I felt Peggy coming back to life. And, I was finally able to reflect and think about her, and wrote her Eulogy (which I had 6 months to do so) just a few hours before her funeral.

 Immediately after the mass, I cried, because I knew we were done.  She was now resting in peace, and I felt at peace too.  Alzheimer's was just a chapter in her long and full life.

 I hope you learned something from Peggy, I know I did.  

Love, Lois 

A Eulogy for Peggy 

 First of all, my family wants to thank you all for being here today helping us celebrate and remember what a wonderful and unique lady Peggy was.
As a matter of fact we are all here today because of Peggy and it's not just because we are her relatives or friends. We are here today because Peggy smiled when she saw us, and I mean, EVERY time she saw us.

She was so subtle in her magnitude.

I will put this thought into my perspective, having been lucky enough to call myself her daughter. Through her subtle ways she gave me confidence without winning awards, she gave me faith in myself, just by being me, and she gave me happiness by her example of finding joy in the little things in life. Simple, yet major and fundamental.

No matter what I did, or tried, or wore, listened to, or created, she thought it was neat. In fact, she thought everyone in this room was neat. I remember her telling me that people often asked her if it was hard having her kids so far apart in ages, “No,”she said I liked that they were all doing something different. Paul was doing this wonderful thing, and David was off doing that interesting thing, and I was at art school, {which I know she had to talk my Dad into) again using her very subtle, maybe even magical powers). She liked that we were all different, that people were all different. And I bet a million dollars that when she saw you, she asked about you and your family, because she liked you too. When you were with her everything you were doing made sense, because she never judged, bragged or looked down on anyone. Ever. She was generous, kind, caring, fun, silly, and so, so, beautiful.

I've had a lot of time to reflect on my Mom and how my brothers and cousins all got to where we are today. There's a common core that we all have directly related to her. We are happy, and we are good parents. We love our kids unconditionally. It’s a subtle notion but a powerful one that can lead to great things! or simply can help create interesting and wonderful people that become generous, kind, confident individuals, which also are... great things.

I'm very happy remembering Peggy with the people she loved and who made her smile. I was so sad when Alzheimers took her away from us in such a brutal way. But even when she was sick, and strange, and difficult, I loved her. Even though it was hard, it was easy which is a direct attribute to Peggy’s legacy.
oh, and laughing at very inappropriate things, we got that from her too.
It's been a pleasure seeing everyone today, my Mom would of loved it. Thank you, 

Ashley Campbell performs Remembering in honor of her father Glen Campbel...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Gift of Presence

This article a friend of mine shared on Facebook  helped me realize a little bit of what we have been through.  It's advice on how not to "help" someone suffering. This was a huge thing for me to succumb too.  This was a difficult lesson for me to learn taking care of my Mom.  Throughout her time with Alzheimer's, there was less and less I could do to "help" her.  Succumbing to simply being there was difficult, yet when I did realize that being there was enough, I did see her soul and that connection lasted until the very bitter end. Although the article is mostly about depression, I think it applies to everyone. Here is the link to this article on the website on being by Parker J. Palmer.

Friday, June 2, 2017

There were 2 ladies outside the grocery store today. I didn't see them going in.  I walked out with my avocados and eggs and they said to me "Would you like to give to Alzheimer's"  I kept walking and said "I'm sorry, no." then murmured to myself,  "I've given enough."

pastel sketch

Friday, May 12, 2017

I saw you...

I saw you.
Walking slowly,
I saw her
Blank stare,
Walking slower.

I knew you.
Where you were,
Why you were there, and
How you wanted it to be lovely.

A walk in the garden,
By her side.
Thinking you were alone,
But you weren't because,
I have been there too.

This is a poem and the first thing I have written about Peggy, and it's actually about a mother and daughter I saw in Descanso gardens.   I didn't speak to them, but I knew the older woman had Alzheimer's.  I wanted to stop and hug them, but I didn't.  I just kept going, like life does, but my heart aches for them and for what Peggy and I went through.  Yet, my heart also fills with the love we shared when the disease grabbed ahold of her, and I never let go.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Peggy died.

Peggyy died December 18, 2016.  I'm not ready to share the experience with this blog.  I don't know how to end it.  I have done drawings, I've slept so much, and received lovely and heartfelt condolences from my friends and family who have listened to me share this journey.  So this is all I have for now, a notice, an announcement.  There are so many angles to go in writing this post that I can't sum up our experience in one final blog post. The end? I don't know.  It's uncomfortable to share so much, but my heart aches for those that will follow me in this Alzheimer's story. So, I will write, draw, share, advocate and be brave and honest, just not right now. Thank you for listening and caring.  Most of all I want to thank Peggy, for being my Mom.