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She’s Gone September 2, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

Mom is gone.  She flew out to Colorado yesterday to live with my younger brother and his family.

Her time here was time well spent.

* She completed physical therapy and recuperated from her spine surgery.

* Her mobility improved from when she first arrived, grimacing in pain.

* She got to spend time with US!

Now, she will benefit from increased interaction with my brother’s family of six.  And they will have a chance to share their house and home with her.

This transition, like many in life, has been sad.

I know mom won’t remember being here with us for much longer . . . she’s already forgotten our ride together on the auto train just 6 weeks ago.

She has no recollection of helping me celebrate my birthday in July.

In many ways, mom is lucky.  Since she is increasingly incapable of hanging onto the past, she has fewer memories tugging on her heart strings.

The past fades away, swallowed up by the shadowy recesses of her mind.

It’s the pull of the past making me cry now.  Wanting desperately to go back for one last lingering look at how and who she used to be.

Seeing her here every day provided the occasional glimpse.

Not often.  But enough.

None of us can stem the tides, nor catch the waves on the beach.  We have to keep letting go of the “what was” to make room for the “what is.”

All things must pass.


1. yazrooney - September 2, 2012

My darling Nancy, what I’ve learned, is it doesn’t matter that we do not remember the details of a life, who was who, what we did etc. What matters is that she’s taken your love with her. It’s healed her in a way you can’t imagine. To remember who we are is why we are here in this world. You’ve played a major role in that process for both you and your mommy. You put up with all the difficulties of her nature, her illness. You loved her through it all. Let your heart swell with it. You’ve helped her and she knows it in a place that lies below the mind that has stopped interacting with the world. Lots of love to you Nancy. You’re a wonderful soul. Yaz

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thank you, Yaz. That is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. The mind forgets . . . the heart remembers.

2. theonlycin - September 2, 2012

Big hugs, Nancy, Lots of love across the miles.

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thanks, Cin. What a whirlwind of a year this has been. It’s no wonder I’m a bit dizzy. 😛

3. SidevieW - September 2, 2012

Nancy, it is a difficult journey to forgetting. Such a sad one for those who love the person and wish it wasn’t happening to them.

here’s a beeg hug for you((()))

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thanks, Sidey. I just got off the phone with mom and she is quite pleased with her new living arrangements ~ bed, bath, and breakfast!

Doug cooked scrambled eggs for her this morning. She grinned when she saw it, “This is a treat. Nancy’s a vegetarian.” 😉

SidevieW - September 2, 2012

I’m so glad she can make jokes – the best sense of mental wellbeing

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

I agree. Whenever my sense of humor is MIA, I know that I’m in for a rocky road. Hearing mom’s comment made me smile . . . big time.

4. Pocket Perspectives - September 2, 2012

Nancy, you offered your mom so many rich and lovely gifts from your heart through the past many months…a true blessing for her. You’ve had so many big changes and shifts in the past few months….you’ve done so well….all of us are sending you sincere appreciation, comfort and hugs…

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thanks, Kathy. This year has been overflowing with shifting sands for so many of us.

We had a family conference on Wednesday night and we decided that living with Doug’s family would be the “next best step” for mom. Among other things, I expect that the climate in Colorado will be more to her liking than the heat she’s had here.

Fingers crossed!

5. suzicate - September 2, 2012

Your mother’s mind might not comprehend what you’ve done for her in the past few months but I trust her heart knows. It is both sad and difficult at times for the holder of memories when the one it involves no longer remembers. Big hugs to you, Nancy.

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Yup . . . the mind forgets what the heart remembers.

Having her here took some getting used to. Now, it’s very strange not having her around ~ I keep expecting her to walk up and ask me where she put her glasses.

She had a L~O~N~G day of travel yesterday, but sounds quite upbeat today. She seems to be settling in very well and I’m sure will enjoy living with 4 of her 9 grandkids.

6. viviankirkfield - September 2, 2012

Nancy….I agree with you about the climate in Colorado…we love it here…and perhaps the 300+ sunny days will bring brightness and lightness into her life. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this journey with us, Nancy…you’ve helped me realize how important it is to do the things I want to do NOW…because one never knows when the day will come of non-remembering.
You’ve been a blessing to your momma…and to us. 🙂

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

And they call Florida the “Sunshine State” . . . sounds like the title should belong to Colorado. Our blue skies suited mom. And she enjoyed our company. But she prefers mountains to the sea. Here’s hoping she has bright Vistas ahead.

And, yes! Do it NOW. There is no time but the present.

7. ryoko861 - September 2, 2012

She knows she has you if she doesn’t have the memories. And family! You’ve been the best daughter to her! And she appreciates it! What happens in the “now” is most important. As long as she’s happy.

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thanks, Irene. You’re right. Each night as she said “good night” to us, a little smile would appear, indicating contentment. She felt “safe” and secure here . . . as I’m sure she will in Colorado.

8. Don - September 2, 2012

Nancy, your last sentence says it for me. So well said. Strength and comfort for the future. I’m sure this brief moment with your Mom at your home is packed with meaning.

nrhatch - September 2, 2012

Thanks, Don. Coming here was a great transition for mom. Now that she is improved physically, my brother’s house will give her more room to roam.

9. Andra Watkins - September 2, 2012

Yaz says it so well. You will always be in her heart.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Andra. This was the perfect “first stop” on her continued journey . . . she felt comfortable and content. Even on the rougher days.

10. Maggie - September 2, 2012

“In many ways, mom is lucky. Since she is increasingly incapable of hanging onto the past, she has fewer memories tugging on her heart strings.”

I like this thought. It’s something I’ve pondered a lot. In some ways, it seems like memory ties us down and keeps us from being free.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

I agree, Maggie. We must let go of the past to embrace the present. Our attachments to people, places, and things tend to “tie us down.” But our experiences also shape us . . . as we sift through our memories to find the “heart” of who we are.

If we’re “lucky,” we find the right balance ~ allowing us to live in the present, grounded by the past, and open to the possibilities of the future.

11. sufilight - September 2, 2012

Nancy, I so empathize with you as we experienced this with our mom. Here was a once eloquent woman who could hardly get a word out because she couldn’t even remember how to form the words. Yet, when she passed away, I felt a peace that has lasted all these years because I had the opportunity to offer her my love, even during the frustrating moments. You have done the same for your mother. Thank God she has you and your family to help her out. Sounds like you all made a good decision regarding your mom.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Marie. It’s hard to imagine what’s going through her mind. Memories that remain vivid to me are blurred and faded to her. I had her start a Journal while she was here, but even her recorded recollections (and/or prompts from me) don’t really cause memories to surface.

Years ago, I watched a movie about the writer, Iris Murdoch, and her struggle to hang on to her words . . . “Iris” (played by Judi Dench). Not a stellar movie, but quite memorable.

12. kateshrewsday - September 2, 2012

Nancy, each day you spent together still built something. My mum is very poorly right now, but even though I know she won’t recollect what we have done, I know what I did contributed to her sense of her own wellbeing. She knows she is loved, just not quite how. I wish your mum well in her new home, with many moments of joy. And I wish you peace. It’s been hard.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Oh, Kate, we are walking the same HARD road, aren’t we? Even though mom doesn’t recollect the “facts,” she does recall the sense of connection. For now, at least. This move will give her time to share that sense of connection with my brother and his family.

Sending good thoughts and virtual hugs your way. Peace.

13. Sandra Bell Kirchman - September 2, 2012

Nancy, you know you made a great difference in your mom’s wellbeing. She shows it in the photos. She’s happy, and sometimes the mind gets too full of the past to deal with the present. Her happiness is, as I see it, largely due to your love and care. Hold that thought in your heart, as she holds her happiness and content in hers.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Sandra. For most of her time with us, she was happy and content. And I know she left in better shape than when she arrived . . . BUT I feel I should have been able to do more.

It just got to be “too much” for us to handle in this very small space. I’m glad that my brother was able to offer mom a bit more room to roam.

14. Perfecting Motherhood - September 2, 2012

I guess at this point, what matters the most is for your mom to be healthy and happy, and it looks like she’s in good hands. It’s always interesting to see how much harder it is for the rest of the family than for the person who loses their memories. I’m sure your mom has made a lot of wonderful impressions on many people throughout her life, which means the memory of her is everywhere.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Milka. At times, mom gets frustrated by what she’s “lost,” but not often. Most of the time, her view of the world seems “normal” . . . to her.

15. barb19 - September 2, 2012

Having your mum at home with you these past few months has been like a window of opportunity for you both in so many ways. Although sometimes difficult for you, you have shared some treasured moments with your mum, Nancy and although they might be forgotten in her mind, they will always be in her heart – the heart never forgets.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Barb. We had FUN in the NOW . . . going for walks, sharing Happy Hour cocktails, eating ice cream and fresh baked cookies, watching musicals, etc. She won’t remember the specifics of being here . . . but I will.

16. jeanne - September 2, 2012

Hugs sent your way.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Jeanne. The best part of having mom here was being able to give her a hug every night before bed.

17. Jas - September 2, 2012

Every word there speaks about how deep that bond is. Lots of hugs.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Jas. Mom and I have a shared history . . . whether she remembers it, or not.

18. nancy curteman - September 2, 2012

Surrounding your mother with the warmth of your family is a wonderful gift to her. It’s true as the comment above states: “the heart never forgets.”

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

I had started to talk to mom about Assisted Living facilities to create a bit more “space” for us and to provide more interaction and activities for her. Being with my brother and his family is a better option . . . but I’m sad she is so far away.

19. Three Well Beings - September 2, 2012

I struggle with what to say, because I really can’t begin to know what this really feels like…but what you share sounds so hard! Life is hard, we know that, but when it comes to our parents, it’s really HARD! A big hug to you, Nancy. You really do share yourself in a way that is so instructive. I learn from you. Debra

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Yes! Earlier this week, I felt that I was stuck between a ROCK and a HARD PLACE. I could barely breathe. Fortunately, my brother tossed me (and mom) a lifeline. Fingers crossed that living in Colorado will be the “next best step” on her path.

20. JOriginal Muse - September 2, 2012

Nancy, I haven’t been able to follow the journey you’ve been sharing. This post filled in the blanks. Separation anxiety takes on many forms. Maybe it’s a projection of my own feelings from many personal experiences, but that’s what comes to mind, and I felt that while reading this. If you and your brother have access to Skype, I’d imagine it would be an ideal way to bridge the miles. You’re in my thoughts during this life transition.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Joanne. My brother uses Skype regularly. I’ve only been on Skype a few times ~ when others set it up. That needs to change . . . I need to get a camera and an account. And stop being such a technophobe! 😉

21. judithhb - September 2, 2012

OH Nancy – how well I remember going to London to visit my mother after a 2 year absence and while she was physically there, she was no longer there! My sister and her family were the support system for her at that time and I thank god that she was there.
Now many years after her passing, I remember mother as the person she used to be and how she loved life.
This is a hard time for you and your family Nancy but it will be a healing time for your mother and your brother’s family as they spend time together at this different stage in her life. Hugs to you from the other side of the world.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks for the hugs, Judith. This has been hard. When mom moved in with us, I expected her to stay with us. But this is a very small villa . . . and it seemed to grow smaller by the day.

At my brother’s house, mom will have her own “apartment,” just steps away from family FUN. Fingers crossed that it’s a win~win for everyone.

22. sweetdaysundertheoaks - September 3, 2012

Hugs to you this morning Nancy. I wish with all my heart you and I could sit down with a couple of bestest chocolate chip cookies or a Heavenly Cupcake and just talk and laugh. I have my Mom tucked tight in my heart and that sounds like what you have done. I will be so happy when you find yourself fully recharged and your equilibrium righted. A little bit selfish on that wish because I missed your posting and the peace it gave me. Laughs and smiles too.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Thanks, Pixie. Now that I have the time to catch up on some much needed sleep . . . insomnia is paying a visit! 😯 Definitely NOT a welcome house guest.

Sending a heaping helping of PEACE your way today.

sweetdaysundertheoaks - September 3, 2012

Thanks Nancy! No advice on the insomnia, I gots that too. I just don’t fight it.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

I am feeling a bit wilted today . . . after only 3 hours of slumber. BUT I am getting things done. At the moment, I’m working on mom’s autobiography that she started several years ago.

I’m going to try to finish it in time for her birthday on September 30th.

23. Piglet in Portugal - September 3, 2012

A sad and happy post rolled into one! I often think back and wish I could spend just relive one day with my kids when they were younger.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Oh, yes! I want someone to figure out time travel . . . so I could revisit a few of the “perfect” days I’ve enjoyed over the years (especially at times, like now, when the NOW is threatening to capsize my boat).

24. Tammy - September 3, 2012

You did good. And she’ll benefit from the increased interaction. It’s lovely here in CO. I’m visiting my 95 year old grandmother this weekend.

nrhatch - September 3, 2012

Enjoy your visit, Tammy. Mom will love Colorado, I’m sure . . . maybe she’ll even thrive to the ripe old age of 95!

25. Patricia - September 3, 2012

I think one of the hardest things when loving someone is letting go of who they were and embracing who they are now. Memories can be lovely but as you know it is the present that is meant to be lived.

You and your mother were given a great gift of time together. More memories to savor as you live in this day. Now get some sleep.

nrhatch - September 5, 2012

Thanks, Patricia. I have had TWO wonderful sleeps . . . and am starting to feel like myself again.

We do need to let our loved ones change, and grow, and evolve (i.e., from birth to ten in an instant). But watching them deteriorate, decay, and fade away is harder. Nothing much to celebrate about watching mom’s “essence” being erased.

Patricia - September 6, 2012

I think it is just the physical that is being erased–the spirit is being set free. But you are right about how hard it is when those we love are physically and mentally less than what they were and that part cannot be celebrated. I have been through this twice, and to put it bluntly, it sucks.

nrhatch - September 6, 2012

Well put, Patricia. It does, indeed.

Mom is doing well in CO. Just got off the phone with her and we had a pretty decent conversation, all things considered. She seems content. And that’s key.

26. jannatwrites - September 4, 2012

I’m glad your brother and his family are able to take care of her so she can be in a climate she likes. Memories are bittersweet when people are not who they once were. We went through that with my Grandma. Heartbreaking to remember who she was and then see the shell of her former self in front of you. Since her passing, I’ve been able to let go of more of the later memories, but hold onto the ones of her as she really was before Alzheimer’s took over.

I wish you the best as you adjust to your life and emotions.

nrhatch - September 5, 2012

Thanks, Janna. Watching wee ones grow up requires letting go of who they were to allow them to become more fully who they are meant to be. Watching mom’s mind and memory slip away is much harder.

If we blow the egg out of its shell . . . is the shell still an egg?

27. William D'Andrea - September 4, 2012

Oh what a heart breaking summer you’ve just had. My prayers are with you. May things only improve for you from now on.

nrhatch - September 5, 2012

Thanks, William. All this conflict, change, challenge, and stress would make for a rather “over the top” novel, eh? With readers shaking their heads at the author, “Aww, c’mon. Give your characters a break already!” 😉

28. spilledinkguy - September 6, 2012

Man, Nancy… I literally can’t believe all the things you are going through lately… I know that life isn’t always fair, but… COME-ON already! Give the poor woman a break already! Like… NOW! Please try to stay strong, Nancy… my warmest thoughts are with you.

nrhatch - September 6, 2012

Thanks, Bob! If I was prone to throwing Pity Parties for myself . . . this would have been a year full of them! 😉

Here’s to Brighter Days Ahead!

29. Marylin Warner - September 6, 2012

Wonderful family photos…these will be your shared memories.
And plan a time when you and others can come to Colorado to visit; it’s a great place for reunions.

nrhatch - September 6, 2012

Yes! We have had several Family Reunions in Colorado . . . complete with snowball fights in July (in the Rocky Mountains), whitewater rafting on the Poudre River, and microbrews!

30. dearrosie - September 7, 2012

Your Mom is so lucky to have such a loving supportive family caring for her. Isn’t that what we’d all like when we’re unable to make decisions for ourselves.

It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t remember the past 6 weeks she spent with you. You do.

nrhatch - September 7, 2012

Exactly. Of course, if I am no longer able to make decisions for myself . . . I hope to have no decisions of import to make. 😛

31. eof737 - September 16, 2012

Glad to read your mom is doing well with your brother… Hope all is well with you too. Cheers! 🙂

nrhatch - September 16, 2012

She seems to be improving in ALL areas ~ physical, emotional, and cognitive! Yay!

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