Monday, July 13, 2015

Reflecting on Life and Celebrating it Near the End of Life


Mom had been REALLY struggling with her health in MAJOR ways. We were kind of teary eyed around here, and quite frankly, worried! (Especially as we had been told by a Hospice nurse to plan a funeral, and that most people in her current condition live about three weeks).

So on May 7th, when Mindy noticed that her grandma was suddenly thinking clearly off and on part of the day, and worried that it might be her last chance to have meaningful, coherent time wit her... Mindy and I decided to celebrate (both life and death) by having a party with momMindy even took off work to do it! It was fun, but I realized that we spent too much time preparing, and that what really matters ISN’T THE FOOD. It is TIME spent together reminiscing and just enjoying each other’s company.

I announced to mom that this party was in honor of her, and that we were celebrating HER LIFEand all the good we inherited and learned from her.

And then I told specific blessings that each of us (esp. Mindy) learned and inherited (talents) from mom. IT WAS AWESOME!

I spoke of Mindy being a clothes designer, seamstress (me too), singer (I sort of got it – just need to practice and heal the voice box), and some other things (writer, poet, etc. etc. She is so talented!!!)… 

We spoke of me being a pianist (and of my desire to start playing again)… 

And we spoke of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel, and of how we learned to Love Him and serve Him by watching her. :)

I mentioned other things we inherited too, but I’m just so tired my mind didn’t remember them all! :o 

Good night.

Corine :D

Monday, June 22, 2015

Miraculous Transformations... Treasured Defining Moments in Mom's Life...

I was looking through my journal and saw an entry, which I believe marks the beginning of the amazing transformation taking place in mama's health right now. She is still bedridden entirely, not even in a wheel chair, and as far as we know - still dying of kidney failure. But she has bowel movements, not once or twice a week as she did for so long, but 3 times a day! It seems she must be seeing better (she was nearly blind), as she is READING (even if it is with THICK glasses! :)). She can write, too... and legibly! She thinks clearly and remembers well. :D Anxiety and panic attacks are a thing of the past (and she took anxiety medication FAITHFULLY); I could go on and on! 

Anyhow, I just thought I would post this first couple of days as a marker to remember and be thankful for. :)

May 8, 2015   Friday night – The day mama, Mindy, and I will always remember as one of the BEST days, EVER! :D Because Mindy got her mission call and mama had a clear mind and really good health. What a FABULOUS day for her!!! I texted my siblings and told them that seeing mama today was like seeing a dying flower come back to life after being given water…    I’m so happy for her!!!! :D (FYI - I will write about Mindy's mission call in another writing. This is about mom.)

Off and on today, Mama had a clear mind and really good health. What a FABULOUS day for her!!! I texted my siblings and told them that seeing mama today was like seeing a dying flower come back to life after being given water…    I’m so happy for her!!!! :D

Today I spent MOST of the day in mama’s room.

It is a little hard, thinking of it now, because I didn’t give enough attention to my children. Honestly, I feel like I barely ever see them anymore. I MUST fix this! 

However, I do NOT regret being in mama’s room TODAY. Because she was so coherent that we were actually able to visit with each other and share love with one another – and it felt SO GREAT to be her DAUGHTER and FRIEND… and not just her care taker! :D

Mama told me recently that I am so much more than a daughter. I think that is what she meant. That I don’t just do and be what is required of me or by default; rather, I also do and say things that make me a dear and beloved friend (and sister)… :D Mama and I love each other so much and it is just so AWESOME! :D

I did some decorating and organizing in mama’s room today. It was fun! :D Her movies and music are all in there, neatly in containers… I put her nice chair in there and dusted it all off. Mama and I both agree that the sentimental value and warmth her belongings bring to her room and our home make the nearly thousand dollars spent to move it SO WORTH IT! When I found the yellow blanket that she had been praying for (and telling me for the past 2 months that she REALLY needed it) I showed it to mama (after washing and drying it) – and she burst out in tears exclaiming, “My blanket! My blanket! My ‘love’ blanket! I didn’t know if I would ever see it again. But I prayed for it, so hard. Oh Cori… Heavenly Father, DOES love me!” Yeah… she was SOBBING! :D

later on, 11:35 PM

Hi again. :D …so tired, but remembered another thing to note…

Early this morning mom was “out there in left field” so to speak. She thought we were both “in volutes,” and needed to confide in someone we could trust, to tell our story to so the world could hear about it, and to the confide could bring us supplies. She also thought there were stairs in the house.

At first I didn’t know what to say. Should I play along? Hospice workers said that when a person does that it is usually best to play along, rather than flipping them out and giving details about what is REALLY happening.

So I started to just nod my head and play along without adding to it. But I realized that by playing along I WAS adding to it. As soon as I left the room a voice came to my mind saying, “bring her back to reality.” I KNEW it was the Holy Ghost. So I immediately went back in the room and said to her, OH. By the way, mama, we don’t live in an apartment, we live in my house, and it is all on one floor.”

That led to me telling her about how we ought to leave the past in the past and make today the first day of the rest of our lives (though much of what she believed to be her "past" may have actually been imagined)… and of how we should decide what and how we want our lives to be and make it so! I even sang part of the song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stating… “If you want to view, Paradise; simply look around and view it. Anything you want to… do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”

I talked about inspiring examples of people taking advantage of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of one of the General Authorities speaking about this topic and using Nephi as an example of one who understood this principle and took advantage of the Grace of God to strengthen and enable him to break the bands his brothers had tied him with. 

People… the mind is a powerful tool. :D And the Atonement of Jesus Christ is even more powerful!!! How blessed we are to have the privilege of accessing that power through faith in Jesus Christ!

The results were nothing short of ASTOUNDING. Mama agreed and soon she went from seeming discouraged and even slightly crazy, to being empowered and ready to make the remainder of her life better than the past.

I’m falling asleep.

Good night!


PS. Yesterday (May 7th) was also good for much of the day. Mindy and I decided to celebrate by having a party with mom. Mindy even took off work to do it! It was fun, but I realized that we spent too much time preparing, and that what really matters ISN’T THE FOOD. It is TIME spent together reminiscing and just enjoying each other’s company.

I announced to mom that this party was in honor of her, and that we were celebrating HER LIFE, and all the good we inherited and learned from her.

And then I told specific blessings that each of us (esp. Mindy) learned and inherited (talents) from mom. IT WAS AWESOME!

I spoke of Mindy being a clothes designer, seamstress (me too), singer (I sort of got it – just need to practice and heal the voice box), and some other things (writer, poet, etc. etc. She is so talented!!!)… 

We spoke of me being a pianist (and of my desire to start playing again after all these years, since I turned 16)… 

And we spoke of our love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel, and of how we learned to Love Him and serve Him by watching her. :)

I mentioned other things we inherited too, but I’m just so tired my mind didn’t remember them all! :o

Good night.

Corine :D

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Value of a Life ~

Things have been quite up and down for mom. We were actually told by a nurse, about two or three weeks ago, that most people who are just where she was at that point only live about three weeks. A few days later, though, she perked up like a dry flower given water! :) She is doing SO MUCH BETTER! At that time her medication prescription was also greatly reduced, and her mind is working MUCH more clearly now. :) Her appetite has also returned some (though still diminished), and I'm certain her life has been lengthened... Despite the fact that her liver is still failing, mama's health and quality of life are actually improving again!!!! :) And I've just got to tell you.., I LOVE having mama live with me!!! :D

Aside from physical diseases and challenges.. being bedridden with only one arm that she has limited use of... and difficulty breathing ... mama has had to deal with internal struggles of depression. These things are very real and very challenging. At times, I have sat at her bedside, praying for the words to help her to see the value in her life... telling her what  blessing she is to our family, and reminding her of how all that we go through works for our experience and good. I was blessed to comfort her at times, but sad to see the need for comfort repeatedly return. To my great delight, the past few days she has been waking with a smile on her face and announcing to me with great joy that she is HAPPY. :) Her attitude about life has taken a beautiful turn for the better.. "I am learning SO MUCH from the things I am suffering, and feel blessed that I get to learn these things NOW, while I am here on Earth. It makes me feel like my life has a purpose again."

WOW! :D How inspiring, mom!!!! :D

Tonight, she struggles to breath again, and asks the family to pray for her again. I am inspired by her striving to live life to the end, and to endure well. I pray that we accomplish all that we should before she says good bye. I pray for this earnestly, now...

I think that perhaps I will share part of a journal entry of mine with you, written at the end of a tough day for mama a couple of weeks ago, as it has to do with finding joy in life, despite circumstances which are less than ideal...

"Mama’s life IS of great value. She is doing a great work in that bed each day. And I told her so tonight, as she told me of how her life feels so void of happiness. I told her that I pray that she will come to know of the great good that she does in that bed each day… to see the growth in herself and in others. And to realize and find joy in knowing that God has a purpose for her life, and her life IS of great value.. for what it is making her into in the next life; as well as for how it blesses those around her to learn and grow."

I'm so thankful that she is making progress in discovering this for herself, and again coming to remember, now and then, that her life IS of value, ALWAYS... As she realizes the purpose in her life she is empowered with happiness. 

This is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about This is why we were created... so we can be happy. And to do so, we need experiences of sorrow so we can know joy and appreciate it.

Life IS of value ALWAYS. 
Corine :D

Sunday, April 19, 2015

MY Life - Today -

Hi! :D

I have NO IDEA what I am about to write today! :o

I only know that it is time to write. :D
At this time in my life I am a bit spread thin.
At this time in my life I have...
  • my own business, with my husband, cleaning, selling stuff, and doing paperwork etc. etc. etc.
  • a daughter who is preparing to serve a full time mission
  • a son who is barely 17 and homeschooling... 
    • who only has one year left with which to get into gear and pour himself into the scouting program and hopefully learn more and earn the Eagle award
    • who has only one year left to finish high school and be ready for mission and college
  • a son who is 20 and in need of help discovering a path to further education and secure a future career... in addition to preparations in other aspects of life
  • another son of the same age, with similar needs, who moved out of the home many months ago and whom I love and miss dearly and wish I had more frequent interactions with among my busy life (each interaction with him is such a sweet treasure!)
  • a mother who lives with me now, who is confined to her bed, and depends upon me for all her needs, including her social life... I am so thankful that she can be here with me and not have to be in a nursing home!!!
  • a husband, who is a Sea Cat leader, and who misses my activity as his active female Sea Scout leader, but is very understanding of my inability to make it to every activity
  • currently and temporarily, I also have a  throat infection... so am home from church today with no agenda at the moment, which is why I actually found time to write this! :) 
I also have...
  • PEACE - that I am where I am for a reason... knowing I am choosing the paths the Lord is placing before me and doing what the Lord wants me to do...
  • GRATITUDE - for my family... who are so supportive and loving, and who help me so much with the huge commitments that the Lord desires me to undertake. I am SO THANKFUL for their loving support!
  • JOY - knowing that my children LOVE each other, and are such great friends. 
    • Joyful for the peaceful home that we have. 
    • Joyful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in my home. 
    • Joyful that my family is finally gathering each day and reading the words of God together again (we do this off and on -:o). 
    • Joyful to hear my mother regularly ask questions like, "Who do I hear, laughing and talking in the other room?" (She is continually surprised to hear my kids socialize with each other, with such laughter and joy that one would think they have guests over... only to consistently rediscover that they are, again, simply enjoying each other.) Which brings her to statements like, "I never saw siblings love each other as much as yours do." I love hearing that sentence repeated from her lips!
I have a great many blessings to be thankful for..
I LOVE My kids! - August 9, 2014

I LOVE Our Family!!! :D - August 9, 2014

The following photos are of Mindy and Levi dressing up to show off their costumes to grandma... :)

  • Good health, of both body and mind
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ 
  • A forever family. 
  • A husband who loves me
  • Children who love me and who love each other 
  • A home
  • A garden
  • Fruit trees 
  • A good life in a free country! :D 
  • Friends who support my income, by providing me with work! I do not take this for granted... Sometimes I wonder if I am hired, not for what I can do for them, but rather, for what they can do for me! I have a very strong belief, that the Lord has sent me my business, through loving friends, and I PRAY that my services bless them as greatly!
  • A home in a very beautiful part of the world - with many wonderful outdoor places nearby to enjoy with my family
  • The list of blessings is never ending! :)
It is time to wind this up. Enough talk for now...
Hugs to you all!
Corine :D

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Caring for Mama...

March 27, 2015           Friday morning (A letter to my siblings about our sweet mother)

Hi! :D Would you believe I just woke up?! (8:00 AM) To be fair though, mama and I didn't stop talking until 1:30 AM. :D It was a SWEET, NICE talk. Filled with love and laughter, hopes and dreams…  We even watched The Secret Garden and did foot massage! :D

Mama talked of having purpose and meaning in life (most of which involves the people she loves)... She was very depressed before she came here, and she was more depressed than I realized when she first got here as well. Feeling down... laying in bed 24/7 and feeling like she couldn't do anything with her life and even like she had no purpose... Wondering what the rest of the world looked like. Wondering what the rest of the home she lived in looked like outside her bedroom. Wondering what HER OWN ROOM looked like, beyond what she could see from her limited perspective in bed... Wondering what she would ever do again in this life...

All these things weighed upon her mind, making it difficult for her to want to talk to people on the phone. She DOES appreciate your calls though... reaching out to her and loving her, even though she doesn't take the call or mostly listens and hasn't the energy to stay on long. Thank you for loving her!!!

The mental struggles she has been faced with caused her to feel like she had nothing to live for and sometimes she felt that she couldn't stand living that way any longer (stuck in bed all the time).

But last night Mama told me that she is learning SO MUCH. Her perspective is changing. She has begun to realize how much of a positive impact she is having on our family. She is a blessing to my family and I in so many ways, and Miles and I and the Lord have all begun to point these things out to her. She has become like a child again in many ways, and needed this comfort and perspective to give meaning to her life. She is also finding joy in tiny little conversations she has had with her grandchildren, and in building them up. She is enjoying her granddaughter... who loves her so much. And she appreciates her son in law, who is constantly mentioning what a blessing she is to him, and how she helps him to not be so focused on himself. It seems she is finding purpose in life again. :)

And she talked about you... Mama wants you, her children, to KNOW that she loves you and thinks about you and prays for you every day. The more settled she gets here the more it feels like home and the brighter she feels; I think phone calls will be coming soon.

I don't know how it is that the days go by so quickly... I do the same things day in and day out, and find it difficult to find time to do the more occasional, and yet important and fun things - like finding pictures to hang on her walls, and brainstorming things mama can do, look at, and enjoy (now that I am finally almost done getting all the paperwork of moving her and her medical insurance etc. to her new home and state!) Please, pray for me to find time and creative energy to do this!!!

We talked of a few ideas of things to do from her little bed to give her something to enjoy and look forward to… foot massages while watching one of our favorite shows together (I mentioned Once Upon a Time, as it is one of my favorites, and I’m hoping she will fall in love with it, too); visiting with my sweet sons;:D GENEALOGY!!! :D (I am SO excited to help her do genealogy, once we find a computer for her bedroom! Anyone have an old computer they don't need that can get internet?).

There were other things too… I should have jotted them down. I also hope to start reading to her. Levi read history to her one day, and I'm hoping it becomes somewhat of a tradition. I think she would like that. :D She listens to the Book of Mormon on CD now. We are anxious to get other scriptures for her to listen to as well (Bible etc., as well as General Conference – which we will have once we get a computer in there, or once Ben brings her stuff to her from storage!)

Despite the lack of energy and oxygen, mom DOES count her blessings and find joy in living! :) She is so happy to be getting to know these grand kids better. She also loves Miles and says he is her hero (because he is so good to her). :D Mama is SO HAPPY TO BE HERE, and doing better emotionally each day. She repeatedly tells me how spoiled she feels. I always wish I could do more. There is so much to do. I just want to have more time - just to spend with her to socialize and make her happy, rather than doing necessary things so much of the time. But she doesn't look at it like that and is so appreciative and mindful of my time and needs. I appreciate her gratitude so much!

Time to get going; talk to you later! :D

PS. Nathan started helping me set up a routine reminder of some of mama’s needs on Excel spreadsheet (which I still need to sit down and finish); Carolyn sent oils to mama (it sure helps her relax and makes the room smell great!). And I think Aaron is sending a massage device (I’m hoping Miles and I will find time to use it on each other as well as on mom! :D)

I’m so thankful for such sweet, kind, siblings who do such nice things for our mama! :D THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR ALL THAT YOU DO! I'm SO THANKFUL to be a part of such a supportive and kind family!!! :)

I love you all!
Corine :D

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Current Transition...

Hi! :D

Well, mom has been here for nearly two weeks now. I have to tell you about this amazing! And the first thing that comes to mind to explain this new big change is an analogy of having a baby…

Have you ever had a baby? :)

Do you remember the anticipation?

You were excited and happy for the new addition. You knew your life would suddenly change – drastically! You thought of the changes and sacrifices to be made, and though you were excited for the joys of it all… you also hoped the adjustment won’t be too challenging. And you probably prepared as well as you could with freezer meals, purchasing a few necessities in advance… and maybe preparing a room and getting ahead with cleaning house etc. (nesting! )

If you haven’t experienced it yet, I’ll tell you what happens next…

You bring that baby home.

And somehow it all feels so natural.

You look at that baby and it feels like part of you and of your home and family... like it belongs.

It is as if it always was. …as if a piece of you has always had that baby and you can’t stand the thought of life without it!

This is what the transition of suddenly having mom here in my home with me has felt like.

It feels SO totally and completely, 100% natural and RIGHT. We are all SO HAPPY THAT SHE IS HERE (mom included! :o)! :D

Life has changed DRASTICALLY; Not only for myself but for the entire family. My schedule and list of activities have changed a lot. Miles and the kids are “on call” 24/7. Each and every one of them is consistently supportive …helping me at a moments notice when ever needed. What a wonderful family! :D I feel so blessed and am SO PLEASED and SO THANKFUL for each one of them!

And so I count my blessings continually. Thanking the Lord for my mom and our supportive family. For the peace that He gives that this decision is GOOD. That my sweet mother doesn’t have to live in a Nursing Home. …that she can be surrounded daily by loving family and eat nutritious home cooked meals. SO FILLED WITH GRATTITUDE AND JOY! :)

Corine :D

A New Home for Mom! :)

(Most of this was written on March 2, 2015 at 6:47 AM.
I finally decided to add a few things and post it!)

Good morning! :D

After driving almost nonstop for three days (between travel there and travel back home)… with just cat naps for the most part…, we (Eli - my wonderful brother, his sweet teen son Bennie/ my awesome nephew who has the tradition of posing with me for a photo of us flexing our guns me each time we get together.., and I) - finally got mom to her new home here in Hayden Idaho! :D  

That’s right… MOM IS HOME!!! :D - In her new home with me and my family! :)

Mom slept in the back of Eli’s van, cradled in pillows and blankets on a cushy foam bed (thanks so much for sending those foams with us, Lizzy!!! :D)

There are still boxes by the front door to go through and find a permanent place for. Photos still need to be found and hung on the wall. We don't have her dresser yet etc. (or much of anything - other than basic necessities). But mom is out of that stinking nursing home and right where she belongs… with family! :D We are all very happy to have her here, and I know she is too. It hasn’t even been 24 hours yet, but already I have enjoyed taking care of mom and making and serving her yummy foods… chicken salad, chicken broth, sautéed vegetables, coconut water, and apple slices with cinnamon and cloves accompanied by strawberry slices. When mom saw Mindy and I walk in with the fruit platter, she exclaimed… “I think I just went from Hell to Heaven!” We knew she was referring to her move from the nursing home to here. :D LOL

Eli and Ben left the table before we thought to get a photo...
As we arrived in Salt Lake City we received a phone call from an old friend... Sharon Stevens. She wanted to treat us at a restaurant, along with a few other family members and other old friends who have been very close to the family for years and years (who were there to help get mom ready to move or to say goodbye – 7 in all, plus Ben’s little girl). What a treat for us to all be together like that! :D And the location and view was amazing! Eli and Bennie and I enjoyed taking photos of the exquisite Joseph Smith Memorial building and Salt Lake Temple while we waited for the others to arrive. That was a great experience, and so much fun to reconnect together with dear old friends!

Who else was there, you ask? :D My brother Ben and one of his darling little girls; Dad; and Ruth and her husband… (Sorry I forgot his name). WE ALL HAD SO MUCH FUN! Oh, and I had salmon on wild rice and asparagus. It was amazing! :)

We went directly from the restaurant to mom… When we got to mom we were all fed and rejuvenated for the late night drive home. The men loaded mom and a few of her belongings, while I talked to the nurse about mom’s needs. We never did talk about her schedule. I think the medications WERE the schedule. :o That place was really ugly and downright dreary!  …really looking forward to adding a little spice to her life and SO HAPPY that she is out of there and over here with me and our family!!!

Grandma and Granddaughter... :)
Well, time for me to go. But first, a special THANKS to all family members and friends who have pitched in to help out in various ways…
from prayers and traveling to visit her while all alone there at that nursing home, to brainstorming plans to move her near or in with family (I'm so glad "in with" won!), and shopping for things she needed, to bringing her to her new home (and soon her belongings)...

Special thanks to Eli for driving mom home, and to his son Bennie, who served as a navigator to his dad (my awesome brother, Eli), as well as an extra set of hands close by mom (his grandma :)). I have a photo of the three of us on my phone but haven't figured out how to get it to email and don't have a transfer cord, so this photo will sadly have to wait. :( I'll add it later when technology pulls through.. :D

Special thanks to Ben and Dad for meeting us there and being a support.

Special thanks to friends who met up with family to visit, and said goodbye to mom.

Oh, and let’s not forget the son in law and grand kids who rearranged living quarters/bedrooms to make room for mom, then painted and laid down new carpet to make her new room nice for her! Thanks Miles, Dausen, Levi, and Mindy! :D There has been a lot of fast acting work going on in preparation for this move, and I am SO THANKFUL to be a part of such a kind and supportive family!!!! We are truly blessed. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH… FAMILY AND FRIENDS, FOR YOUR BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY SUPPORT AND LOVE!!!

And last but not least... a special thanks to the two angel missionaries who tore out carpets and painted walls to help us get the house ready for mom: Elder Keppner and Elder Saunders - you are life savers!!!! :D.

These Elders were transferred just after mom arrived and things started to settle down. Both were in our area for longer than anticipated, and for what ever reason they were there as long as they were, I can't help but wonder if there, at least in part, there for us... I'm SO THANKFUL that the Lord allowed them to stay here long enough to help us through this very busy time. And to them for being so willing and eager to serve! They young men are as good as angels! :)

PS. Miles has done lots of CNA work in the past, which has already proven to be very valuable! He is a great help and blessing and mom is in good hands!!! :D Thank you Miles, for being so supportive of mom being here and of helping to take care of her!!!!

Hospice came yesterday and is ALREADY an AWESOME support! I am so thankful for the support and feel incredibly blessed!!!!

And friends have served in various small ways... One friend made a dinner for us, and gave mom a TV! (Another angel friend!!!). Another came and hauled some of our furniture off that we had to get rid of to make room for mom. We have been truly blessed and are so thankful for these many blessings! :)
...happy day to you all and thank you for all your love and service!
Lots of love...
Corine :D