Momming My Mom For The Last Time

The Other Day, When I took My Mom To An Appointment
Today it rained here, and I was ready to curse the heavens. You betcha I would let the rain gods know: Great! I’d scream up to the clouds. Bad weather, too, after all I’ve done to get her to the carrrrrrghh?!? But then, the rain stopped, just before we went outside. Shit, I thought. The gods mock me…

To get Mom into the car these days, I drive up a winding, paved path between the apartment buildings and up to the back door to her building. I have permission to do this; it’s usually a walking path, also used by the maintenance guy to drive equipment and stuff up to the building’s garbage/recycling room and such. Thank heavens my car has a rear-view camera with graphics that help you stay on the path! I’ve already wheeled Mom down to that back door. Now, to get her and the wheelchair into the car. It takes some muscle, sweat, and a lot of under-the-breath swearing.

I wrote those two paragraphs a couple of weeks ago. Now, she is gone. She died over a week ago, and I’m wading through the weirdest set of feelings, realizing that it’s gonna take a while to untangle, grieve, heal. In the meantime, there have been the necessary arranging of funerals, announcing the news, et cetera. I’m just too tired to type it all here. My main reason to write today resulted from me impulsively buying a book: The Grief Club, by Melody Beattie. I love and need this book.

The first M. Beattie book I read was The Language of Letting Go. I slept with that book, my arms wrapped around it, at one of the toughest times of my life. Here’s a link to that post:

That’s it for now. Time to do more of the post-death arrangements. I’ll be back here soon.

Thanks for reading.

Thanksgiving Song

Always things work out

Miraculously Intelligently


It helps when I get out of the way

It helps when I place my eye on you

It helps when I ask for help

Yield—that’s my job. Show up and yield

To what you already know is good for me

Embrace—what you’re pouring out constantly:

Love and joy and peace and so much more: Shalom

The coming together of all things. integrated. Whole. Complete.


Momming My Mom 3

9:10 pm, My Living Room

My husband is at hapkido class and my daughter’s home from work and relaxing in her room. I’m on the loveseat near the bookshelves, scrolling through FaceBook and Instagram posts. I start to nod off, when this thought startles me: I’ve gotta go to Mom’s! Damn! On the heels of that, What will I give her for dinner? Panicking, I grab my keys, run out to the car, and, Boom! A truth smacks me between the eyes. I realize that I provide groceries and meals for two households, and I don’t wan’t to do this anymore…

That day included responding to Mom’s first-thing-in-the-morning distress call. The conversation is always the same. I mean verbatim. (See Momming My Mom, the first in this series of posts.) I got dressed, took my morning pills—self care!—fed and hurriedly walked the dog, grabbed all the stuff, including a new, easy-to-read calendar and a banana for my mom, and got in the car as the phone rang again. Mom’s ring tone. Same convo as before, same reassurances that I was on my way… I rest my forehead on the steering wheel, then start the engine.

I helped Mom up that morning, talking her through her morning pain. Got her washed and dressed and medicated. She does most of it; I assist. Gave her the afore-mentioned banana, and toast, coffee and juice. Introduced her to the new calendar, on which I’d written the two upcoming events of the day: in-home PT at noon and the retina doctor at 2:45. It’s a lot, but I’m used to it, and it went pretty well. Friends and relatives have had it harder, I know. The way-tougher part is the rising flood of emotions swirling in my head.

The whole time I’m helping my dear, understanding Mom, I’m also swallowing a bitter mix of frustration, annoyance, grief, and guilt. Shame, too. The moments when I’ve told Mom the same answer to her same questions for the third time in the last 15 minutes. Every. Single. Day. The times she snaps, I’m trying!” when I’d simply reminded her to try breathing through her nose to get more oxygen in, instead of panting like a dog. (I didn’t actually say that part to her, about panting like a dog.) Then there’s the physically getting things done. I feel like an elderly, tired superhero when I finally get Mom ready, out the door, and actually in the car. She feels exhausted. She doesn’t remember what it took to get her there, so the next time it probably won’t be any easier.

The good news is that she’s getting nerve blocks in her shoulder in preparation for an ablation of that nerve. The doctor is hopeful that it will do the trick. I’m trying not to think about the effort, as described above, that it takes to get her out the door. The good news is that the added stress has pushed me to finally get back to the paperwork that will, I believe, allow me to get her more help.

Thanks for reading! —Cathy

Momming My Mom 2

I’m Cathy; my mom’s Betty. She was a nurse, a working mom, household boss, spiritual warrior. She’s still some of those things, but now she’s old, and I’m some of those things for her. It’s hard on both of us, at times, and I long for the time when I get her into a senior facility and can live my later-in-life dreams. What I write here will be the high and low and in-between experiences with/for/about my mom, and probably mostly about the unexpected growth I’ve been experiencing along the way.
Thanks for reading. Hope it helps
… 🙃🙏💛

6/23/22 Another Local Café,

Frickin’ Early Morning, B.C. (Before Coffee)
Mom’s Ringtone Sounds:
“Hi, Mom—“
MOM: “I’m. Gasp! In. Gasp! Agony. Gasp! Gasp! Gasp!”
ME: Rolling eyes, because I’m kinda over dealing with this every day: “Oh! Is it pain from your shoulder and down your arm? It is? OK, I’ll get dressed and come over.”
Land line rings; it’s the doctor’s office with the dates for my husband’s upcoming surgery.
ME: “Mom, I’ve got to catch another call; it’s the doctor. I have to take it. I’ll see you very soon!”
MOM Croaking: “OK…”

Except, I didn’t rush over. I emptied the sack of clean laundry I’d done days ago. Found a pair of clean undies in there. Put ‘em on, along with a clean bra, leggings, and comfy shirt. Picked out a necklace with a little heart-shaped charm. Smiled an ironic smile, because my heart really wasn’t in the tasks at hand. Put the necklace on, to remind me I actually have a heart. Because I really wasn’t feeling this day, and it was only 8-ish in the morning.

I’d made the mistake of thinking that if I set the alarm for a little earlier in the morning, I’d get (one of) my most longed-for desires: quiet morning time with coffee, Austin the dog snoozing close, me listening for the whispers of voices in my own head, the ones that would clue me in to the state of my own mind/heart/soul, and open me up to What Cathy Needs. Which turns out to be Help. Help is what I need. What would that help look like, I wonder… I don’t even know for sure. Direction? Action? Definitely Time Off.

I learned a while ago that having something to look forward to keeps me out of the dark hole my mind/body/spirit sinks into while I’m juggling Mom’s needs. I know this, but it took a while for me to act on it. Now I believe I’m turning it into an Art form… Still, I feel pretty guilty when I’m choosing my own needs over Mom’s. People remind of the old ya-gotta-put-the-air mask-on-yourself-first concept. Easier said than done! And I’d bet that anyone who’s done any kind of caregiving (of parents, children, friends, etc.) knows this is so: we’ve taken on a herculean job, and we’re overwhelmed and exhausted. We long for some sort of superhero to swoop in and save us.

After the superhero rescue fantasy, I thunk myself back into reality. I’ve gotta do it myself, yes with help, but I’m the Chosen One. My personal Higher Power has been telling me for a very long time that this isn’t about just helping Mom. It’s about me learning all sorts of lessons. Growing as a person. My psychic, tarot-reading cousin* says it’s karmic lesson. Blah Blah Blah

Dammit! Time now to go get Mom her pills. And to stop sulking. Pull up my big-girl pants. And fill out the Medicaid form, which will enable moving Mom to a place where she can receive care from others, and I can be mostly just her daughter.

Thank you for reading. —Cathy

*My cousin the psychic & tarot reader:

Momming My Mom

I’m Cathy; my mom’s Betty. She was a nurse, a working mom, household boss, spiritual warrior. She’s still some of those things, but now she’s old, and I’m some of those things for her. It’s hard on both of us, at times, and I long for the time when I get her into a senior facility and can live my later-in-life dreams. What I write here will be the high and low and in-between experiences with/for/about my mom, and probably mostly about the unexpected growth I’ve been experiencing along the way.
Thanks for reading. Hope it helps
… 🙃🙏💛

6/14/22 Local Café
My brother recently bought my mom (and, by association, me) a new, better wheelchair, and it’s been sitting, unboxed, in my living room, next to a stack of the giant, bright blue IKEA bags I loaded with stuff from mom’s apartment to sort through and get rid of. My husband, college-going daughter and I live in a very small townhouse. We have a cute medium-size dog, Austin, whose crate, fuzzy bed and basket of toys also reside in the living room.

I’ve been stressed about the extra clutter from Mom’s stuff, and overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of being the manager of two households and all the loved ones, human and canine. Today, I decided to finally get the wheelchair into our Subaru and bring it to Mom’s. I’d spent most of the morning walking the dog, cleaning up the kitchen, enjoying my small breakfast, working a word puzzle, and sipping coffee. Those things used to be the norm for my mornings; now it feels like luxury.

When I do get the chance, I’m able to eventually see what the next thing I need to do is, you know, organize my thoughts. Today, it was, “Aha! I’m gonna get that wheelchair into the car!” It felt good to actually feel like doing it. And even better to do it.

As I write this, I remember that my mom had called me while I was walking the dog. Her arthritic shoulder hurts a lot in the morning. I told her I’d come over to give meds and breakfast as soon as I got home from walking the dog. But I didn’t.

I thought I’d take 15 minutes for coffee and quiet, but then got caught up in doing just a little more of the chores in my house that I’d been neglecting. It felt so very delicious to be catching up! But, time passed. Oops! I jumped up and took the wheelchair out to the car. OK. Good! But then I got into a long conversation with a neighbor, which also felt delicious. Suddenly, my husband came looking for me. My mom had been calling and calling and calling me, but I’d left my phone in the house. I hurried in and my dear daughter was trying to comfort my mom, who was now in a world of pain. And she’d called 911.

Mom has significant short-term memory loss. She doesn’t remember why her left shoulder hurts so much in the morning, the pain radiating all the way down her arm. She doesn’t know why her body is stiff and sore in all of her limbs when she wakes up, even though she’s 89, and she (and I) deal with it every day. She doesn’t remember that in 8 days she’ll be starting treatments at the local pain management center. To her, she’s suddenly having pain that radiates down her left side. She has trouble catching her breath. This has been happening every day lately, and I go and reassure her that it’s her arthritic, aging body and that, in about 20 minutes, the medicine will take her pain away. (A side note: this happens at varying times of the morning, while she’s still covered by the pain medicine I gave her the night before.)

We’ve been to the ER several times over the past few years, once just recently, and her lungs and heart are OK. We’ve gone to all the physicals, ortho specialists, and all the usual appointments for an elderly person. She had a full nuclear bone scan a few months ago. These moments in the mornings are severe arthritis pain and some panic.

So, this morning, I asked the EMT’s the usual question. Her vitals are fine? Yes. I nodded and explained (again) what’s been happening. They left, and I tended to Mom, soothing her. “I need to see a doctor about this!” she said through her tears. <Sigh> I explained that we have this appointment with a pain management center in 8 days, and that, until then, I’ll come earlier in the morning and make sure she gets her pain meds before the nighttime ones run out.

Now, with all the morning Mom chores done, I’m sitting outside at a nearby café, sipping a large iced coffee, deciding to start a journal of my experiences with Mom. I think it’ll help me process and, maybe, see what I’m thinking and feeling in a different light. I’d so love it if it somehow helps you. Thank you for reading. —Cathy

It’s OK To Not Be OK


I wrote this in November 2020:

Here’s the truth: I’m not feeling hopeful today. There is way too much on my emotional plate. And, right now, I’m wondering how the presidential election here is gonna go. Now, please don’t try to assuage my fears. I think I’ll eventually be back to my inspired and inspiring self. I know that there’s a higher plan. I know, as my mother always says, this too shall pass. But I don’t just don’t feel it right now.

Oh, I don’t wanna live through this period of time right now , and what I fear it will bring! And it probably doesn’t matter which candidate wins. The ugly truth genie is out of the bottle: we are broken, here in the US. Angry. Violent. Or silent. Deeply divided on what I always thought were no-brainer values for Americans, Decency being one. And I don’t know if we’ll ever recover. That’s the hard part. So, I’m grieving.

Am I breathing, meditating? Speaking peace and perspective to those around me and on social media? Surrendering control of the outcome? Yes, most of the time. My stomach is in knots, though, and I have an appetite only for sweets, which, for a diabetic, is not good. I’ve worn the same clothes for three days.

I wrote this today, 1/27/21:

There are still holiday decoration that need to go into the attic and projects here at home staring me in the face, and I can’t make myself do anything about them. This is partly because I’m taking care of my mom, and partly because, although the candidate of my choice won the presidency, our Capitol was shockingly and violently invaded. And I see more difficulties ahead. So, this is a time to grieve, I guess. To let myself feel it, and, somehow, become ready to release it. Today might not be that day. Wherever we are, we are. We can tend to it, or not. I do my best. Connecting with my people helps.

I’m choosing, as I write this, to deal with it, instead of overeating sweets and being a slacker. So far, that strategy’s working pretty well, freeing me to let it go. Then I can get back to doing my things that need doing.

Thanks for reading my little life story. Hope you’re doing ok.

BOOK: The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

A Rock And A Hard Place? Or…

Life’s sweet spots sometimes come towards the end of big struggles. I admit I create many of my own struggles, wrestling with how to be kind to a perpetually irksome person, or with the plight of the nearly-extinct white-bellied spider monkey. Oh, and how my country, the whole world even, can be a place where humans can actually live.

In the midst of these inner writhings, I haven’t remembered yet that I’d asked God and His/Her Universe to please get me to a higher level of understanding,  whatever it takes.  So, if I’m to be truly honest, what I’m really asking for is to feel better. I want to be more peaceful, less in turmoil, more comfortable in my own skin. To cross this or that particular demon off  the list.

At the beginning, when I’m miserable and churning, I see my need for divine intervention. I know I need to do the simple-sounding work of letting go. Simple, but not easy. I begin to feel alone in the struggle. Where are you, God? I’m showing up to this mess, which you apparently led me to do. Now what?

Feels like I’m between a rock and a hard place. A very gray area. I sit like a cartoon character with that wisp of smoke sketched above his head. No words. Unhappy. Feeling sorry for myself.

I could just keep griping to the heavens, but, although I do have lots to be concerned about, I’m not very happy being habitually miserable. I decide to go into town early in the morning for a quiet coffee.

I don’t feel like going to my usual haunt where people know me, so I walk up the street to another one. There’s a giant peace symbol painted on the side of a building. Never noticed it before. On close inspection, one can see that the paint is old. Guess I hadn’t walked in this direction on this street in this spot for a while. The peace symbol mocks me. I smirk.

In the coffee shop, I hesitate for a moment when I see a familiar face–dang! The homeless guy. He’s usually in the other coffee shop. Not in the mood, but I nod to him. Sigh. I ask him if he’d like some breakfast today. He says yes. I’m glad when he retreats to eat his breakfast on his own. I’m not very good company.

Later that day I go to see my mother. To keep my thoughts from going all gloomy as I drive, I hit play on my podcast list. On Beingthis time with Glenn Beck formerly of Fox News as guest. (You can read the transcript with a click on the link above.) Here’s the gist: host Krista Tippett spoke with Mr. Beck about how he had been an extremely anti-Obama Fox News personality, then converted to Mormonism, and now sees that no matter where we are politically, we can find the things we have in common with our political opposites. I am (was?) Glenn Beck’s political and religious opposite, but there he was, addressing one of my own concerns, an echo of what I’ve been thinking. His about-face challenged and humbled me. I cried, there in the car. The interview took me out of my own head and gave me a little bit of hope for the future of my country and the world. This has been one of my biggest struggles lately.

Almost at my mother’s house, I notice for the first time ever the skyline of the city beyond her town. Never noticed it before, even though I’ve driven down that same street a million times. I used to live on that street, for crying out loud! Never, ever noticed that skyline. Didn’t realize the city was that high up on a hill, or how beautiful it is on a cloudy day. I was astounded at how I could have had such limited perspective. Again, tears, and a strange relief.

I went on that day to cross off to-do’s, both pleasurable and mundane. I may have smiled a little. There are still life’s very big questions. That’s OK, I think. Between the rocks and hard places, there’s the universe, powered by Love, which I call God, always with me in the struggle.

 (Oh, and what book has my attention lately? Accidental Saints–Finding God In All The Wrong People, by Nadia Bolz-Weber. More on that later, perhaps.)

Stuck In The Weeds (Again)

Been a while since I posted. I was “in the weeds” for a while, again. In a funk. Really stuck.

What the heck! Do I like it there in the weeds for crying out loud?!?

Could’ve been all the rain last month, and the stupid cold temperatures, (Not. Normal.) Could be I left my job last July and don’t know what the heck to do with myself 10 months later. Maybe it’s Donald Trump’s popularity. And, was mercury in retrograde?


Eventually, when I got quiet enough to listen, I realized that I was having symptoms of–drum roll please–stress.

I was a little embarrassed to have been roiling about in my misery all that time, only to come up with “stress” as the reason. It’s just not that interesting. So cliché.

But there it was, the truth of it. Stress. Light started to pierce the fog. I began to understand what to do. I started a list.

  • Medical bills
  • No job or direction
  • Taxi-cabbing everyone everywhere
  • A kid with some special needs
  • Getting Mom into new house
  • Concern for my dear husband’s job stress
  • Worrying about my DH coping with physical changes caused by cancer
  • Worsening physical problems of my own
  • Me, not talking about it
  • Me, not taking care of myself

The weather’s nicer now. Sunshine helps, especially if I actually go out in it. Exercize helps, too. (Dammit!) And naps.  Eating real food. Meditation and prayer. I did more of all the above, but the very best help came from a friend, when we met for mini-golf and lunch.

I hadn’t been up for much socializing. My body was expressing my stress level, and I just had to do something. I really wanted to keep avoiding, stay right where I was in my my own little patch of yuck. And, weirdly, I also wanted to be not there. I didn’t know what to do with myself. But my friend did. She can reach that place where I curl up and hide, and she does it in the kindest, gentlest way. And, she hears from God.

It took me all the way through mini-golfing and most of the way through lunch before I blurted out, “I have been struggling.” Then this friend, a gifted, compassionate listener, did for me what I could not do for myself: led me out of the weeds.

Not for the first time, I quietly marveled at my impressive ability to hold onto dark, stinking thoughts, beliefs, and feelings so tightly, despite the misery they cause me. It’s a skill I developed a long time ago. And it no longer serves me.

During this time of transition–coming out of scary family medical issues, quitting my job,  questioning my understanding of God’s place in the universe–I’ve prayed for help getting to the “next  place,” wherever it is, whatever it needs to be. I naively thought that this wouldn’t take God very long. Ha! If you want to know who isn’t is in charge, just ask God to take you where you need to go. For me, I always get what I ask for, and it’s never in a way I expected. It’s actually better than I expect, every time.

My friend told me, in a nutshell, that:

  1. God’s crazy about me.  In fact, God’s doing cartwheels because of me.
  2. God wants me to now enjoy the garden I sowed (the literal garden in my yard, and the one in my head–because they are now BLOOMING) when I was working through my struggles.
  3. God isn’t condemning me for struggling.
  4. God wants me to “get in the boat” with Him/Her and give Him/Her the oars. (Not the first time I’ve received that message…)

So, now that I’ve been reminded, I’m letting God’s universe of Love set me free every day. The worries do still nip at my heels. I fight fear and doubt daily. But, now, I’m sharing my struggles with people I trust. And you. Hope it helps.

Birthday. Birthday? Birthday!

Here’s to me on my 55th birthday!  I’ve gotten to that part of life when I’m glad to be alive and celebrating another one. Nevermind how the mirror is not working properly–showing me some older woman’s reflection. I know that I’m young on the inside, therefore I refuse to complain overmuchly about how “young people” butcher the English language (didja catch that? “overmuchly”), and aren’t even taught to write in script, and can’t read a regular clock, and who wear the kind of clothes I’ve seen on prostitutes in TV shows. Kids today!

Well I love ’em.  I love the challenge they present just by existing in the world with me.  In the college town where I live, students walking in the street, green solo cups in hand, wearing leprechaun hats and green beads, remind me of my good old days. Including the ones where I learned what I definitely did not ever want to do again.

I love the babies in strollers and remember my own bewildering and bewitching baby, now a bewildering and bewitching teen. I love the kids toddling around at Panera who explore the open space near the fireplace, like the pre-schooler who plopped into the chair next to mine this week and gravely warned me “You can’t get too close to the fire, or it will hurt you.”  I love the kids jaywalking across Main Street in skinny jeans and black Doc Martens.  I think I should get another pair. They still make the same ones I wore 25-ish years ago.  Man, I like those shoes.

I love older young people. They are dealing with huge issues, some I never had to deal with at their age. I love when they share their pain, and I get to listen and love and help a little. I love to find out what music they listen to, too. Too many people say to me how there’s no good music anymore. Not true! Don’t believe anyone who says this. Find a radio station or YouTube channel or live venue in your town and GO!

I love that my grandmother and father were so youthful in their own ways, and how my mother is so young even in her eighties. My mother, who loves the new music at church along with the old.  Who says, “You have to change, or you’re not growing.” (A shout out to my cousins here. They are young-at-heart, and the coolest.)

I love the child I was and my youthful nature. Through all the struggles of life, including dealing with my quirky self, I find myself feeling profoundly grateful. ‘Cause I learned how. How to be grateful for it all. How to struggle through. I learned that life is short. I learned that every single person, at every age, has something to give, a gift so important and just for me.

Thank you, everyone in the world.  You’ve meant everything to me, and I mean it. I need you. We need each other.  Preferably working together toward the common good. Now, go do that. I’m gonna eat cake. ‘Cuz it’s my birthday, and I can.  

♥ ♥ ♥ Peace ♥ ♥ ♥

Yes, My Eyes Are Glued To My Phone

imageAll these cartoons and snide comments about people using their phones and other devices kind of irritate me. You’ve seen ’em. Like so much other commentary flying around social media, these are smug judgments about how people at dinner tables are immersed in what’s on their devices or taking pics of the beach instead of looking at the actual view.  Some of you reading this probably squirmed at my use of the abbreviated word “pics,” didn’t you?  I know this, because I do that myself sometimes. We humans (or is just Americans?) tend to use something helpful and then run with it.  Vitamin C comes to mind.  Too much supplemental Vitamin C can mess with your kidneys.  So we overuse our phones and forget the other beings in our vicinity.

We are also a judgmental species, a trait that, I guess, stops us from drinking sour-smelling milk and attaching ourselves to people who threaten our security.  (Oh, wait–I do that a lot… But that’s a topic for another post.)

Well I just want to say that I’m writing this post on my phone in a coffee shop right now, people, and I like it.  You may even be reading this on your mobile device. So, take it easy, pooh-poohers of all things strange and wonderful!  Technology isn’t inherently evil. Neither is choosing to use it in public or within groups, IMHO. This morning, I read my meditation, checked email, messaged a lonely friend, and replenished my daughter’s lunch account, all on my phone.  I’m enjoying my quiet time away from home, where there are too many distractions.

You perhaps are now thinking of those folks you know who are always their phones in your presence, even when you’re having a conversation, even when you’re really, really needing them to listen, for God’s sake!

I know; I have been on both sides of that situation. There is definitely a need for device use etiquette. I think the rules are the same as any other social environment: when you’re talking with someone, give them your attention. Look them in the eye. Use some sort of cue to let them know you heard. Respond. And, if you’re bothered by their phone addiction, tell them.  I have a friend who does this in the nicest way, and now I put my phone away when I’m visiting with her and other humans. One exception: I always glance to see if a text or call is from my kid or other family.

We can handle our phones the same way we’d put down the newspaper or book we’re reading. As for the dinner table? Same rules as always: no reading (or gaming or Instagramming) at the table, kids!  (Or at the party. Or in church.). Unless, of course, the entire group is reading/playing/posting together, which is great fun.

So there’s my 2 cents. I had a great time writing the above at my place before the fire in the coffee shop.  BTW, I had a great conversation with my poet friend after that. My phone was across the room in my purse.

Peace and Joy.

There are books on Amazon about device use etiquette. Here’s one that looks good, although I haven’t read it yet: Electronic Etiquette: Cell Phones, Netiquette, Social Media? Oh my…