I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

02 October 2013

I Need Your Help

Irene with Sam and Amelia
August 2013
On September 4, 2013, everything changed in an instant when George woke up and found his wife paralyzed and laying on the floor.  Irene, once an active grandmother and a small business owner with her husband George, is now laying in a Stroke Rehabilitation Hospital, unable to speak or move her right side.  Her diagnosis is at least 12 months of disability.  It is a nightmare we all fear, especially if we are uninsured.

We never know when tragedy will strike our families.  Often we go about our business, never thinking twice about the people we care about and love.  Then, in a second lives change.  No warning.  Nothing.  Just a sudden shock, a jolt like no other one experiences in life. 

Unfortunately, tragedy has struck this family.  My family. 

Irene, grandmother "Mimi" to my great nephew Sam and great niece Amelia, has been a victim to a major stroke.   Life has changed drastically for everyone she loves, especially Irene’s grandchildren.  Too young to really understand what is going on, 5 year old Sam is asking how long before Mimi is better.    We all wish we had a better answer for Sam than “I’m not sure.”

Carrying no health insurance because the premiums were too high, she opted to defer healthcare coverage.  Without health insurance, and making a few hundred dollars too much for subsidized care programs in Maine, George and Irene run the risk of losing everything they have worked so hard to build.  EVERYTHING!

And they built a lot.

Escaping communist Hungary in 1980 with their only child, 3 year old Melinda, George and Irene made it to America.  The Promised Land.  The land of opportunity.  The couple became American citizens, and with much hard work became icons in their community Bowdoinham, running a successful auto repair business for over 17 years, G&G Auto Repair. 

Like most small business owners, the tough economy has affected their bottom line.  Barely making ends meet, Irene has taken ill at the worst possible time.  Medical bills have begun to attack a bank account already struggling to stay out of the red. 

Irene and George need our financial help. 

Please help.   Every penny counts, it all adds up, and will help move us one step closer to having Irene back home where she belongs.

Irene and George built their American Dream after escaping an oppressive government.   Please help them avoid living the American nightmare of financial ruin due to healthcare costs.  Any amount of money that you can donate will be greatly appreciated, and will be used to help Irene get back to playing with little Sam and Amelia again. 

We have set up a donor page on the GiveForward.com website.  Please visit the Irene Stroke Recovery Fund page and give what you can.  Every penny is greatly appreciated.

03 April 2013

Young For Life

"Sue, if you don't change your lifestyle, you will end up just like your mother!" My friend Marilyn Diamond warned about 13 years ago when she met my mom.

Like my mother, I was obese.  I didn't even know how much I weighed because I stayed away from the scale.  Marilyn's words rang all sorts of bells and whistles in my mind, but I didn't change my lifestyle.  I thought about it.

Not sure why, I suppose I had false starts and stops.  I always had some excuse that I made to myself as to why I couldn't stick with it.  I needed something to motivate me; more than my dear friends encouraging words.  I had a problem getting a handle on my health.  I knew the steps to take to gain control, but I didn't do it.

I traveled for my work.  Rarely was I home to eat a nutritious meal that I prepared; grabbing something quick on the run was my way of life. I cooked and ate the wrong foods when I was home.  Foods that my mother loved.  I ate too much.  I drank too much wine.  I loved Crown Royal.  I never exercised.

I became huge... I was turning into my mother!

My health wasn't the greatest.  I had some health issues.  Blood pressure that was uncontrolled, blood clots in my leg, fibroid cysts and endometriosis.  

I felt horrible and I was only 40.

The catalyst for changing my lifestyle was when I saw my mother suddenly lose her mind 5 years ago.  Dementia set in fast and my entire world was turned upside down.  I was given a glimpse into one of my potential futures; it was up to me to change.

I remembered everything that I had learned from Marilyn and began practicing her helpful tips and advice for good health.  It seemed miraculous at times, when my mother's health improved with a diet change.  She was still demented but we were managing her symptoms with food, hypnosis, acupuncture, Reiki and homeopathic medicines.  I documented all of this in my blog here.

I believe that I had cured Mom's diabetes with food and fenugreek.  Helping my mom with food, she lost 125 pounds and for the first time in 50 years she was at her ideal body weight.  Mom was happy.  I was happy.  I lost weight too.  We had quality time together before she passed.  I feel so fortunate to have had the extra time.

It was a roller coaster ride, care giving and maintaining my health.  The more my mom declined the harder it became to keep a healthy lifestyle.  I gained a lot of weight when my mom went into the nursing home.  I slipped back in to my old eating habits.  I had lots of what I call, WOOOHOOOO time with food and drink.  So much so that I ended up having a gall bladder attack and landed in the hospital.  I wonder if it was all that bacon I ate?

Fortunately, I knew what to do to heal myself, thanks to my friends Marilyn and Donald.  Their book Young For Life reminded me of the simple steps I can take to make big changes in my life.  I discovered healing properties of food and ate whole food, just as Marilyn would instruct me years ago.  

It's been over a year since my hospital stay.  While I laid in my hospital bed, I thought about my mom in the nursing home and all of her health treatments.  I thought of my friend Marilyn's words.  I asked myself why I didn't take her advice.  I vowed to myself that if I got out of the hospital alive, I would make PERMANENT lifestyle changes.

I got out alive.

I made serious lifestyle changes.

I feel great.  The added bonus with all of this is my mom had way more good days before she went to sleep and never woke up.  I documented our entire journey on how we helped my mom to have the perfect end to a long life.

I could not cure my mom, but with what I had learned from Marilyn and Donald, I was able to help my mom have more good days than not so good ones.  I got to enjoy my mom even while she was demented because I applied my knowledge to help myself and my family.

Today, I feel better than I did when I was 30.  I am lighter than I was back then and can move more easily.  I am fortunate to have met Marilyn and Donald.  Their book, "Young for Life" is out today, it is a must read for anyone who wants to get serious about getting control of their life.

You can purchase your copy here!

Young For Life: The Easy No-Diet, No-Sweat Plan to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger

30 March 2013

Time Makes Everything Better

Jay, Easter 2011

Jay's been settling in at Rehab, getting stronger every day.  She is walking a lot with her walker and doing her best to eat more nutritious foods.  I bring her beet juice when I visit; it seems to help increase her appetite, just like it did for my mom.

My aunt, she has her mind and could potentially move to assisted living very soon, not a nursing home.  I am grateful that I had done so much research on facilities when I was shopping for a place for my mom.  It has made it super easy to find a place for Jay.

Change is scary for Jay.  It is difficult to tell her about the changes, especially that she isn't going back to my brother's house to live.  Yesterday, Marty told her that her cat Molly died.  Lots of changes.  "I am not getting anymore cats."  She responded when she heard the news about her sick cat.

One day at a time is all we can do.  Visiting and calling her on the phone to show her that we love her is helping.  We found her a beautiful place to live.  Luxurious and top notch, nothing but the best for our aunt who gave so much to all of her nieces and nephews.

Again, I find myself looking to the sky pleading with my deceased parents, "Ma, Dad?  Can you help persuade Jay that living in an assisted living facility is a good idea?"

Time makes everything better.

27 March 2013

Change Is Rarely Easy

"Polish people don't do this to family."  My Aunt Jay said to me yesterday as she grasped the hospital bed covers up to her chin.   Jay took care of her mother at home and expected the same when she became too old to care for herself.  My heart sank in a painful sadness.  It felt like my dear sweet little aunt put a dagger in my chest and twisted.  

Still raw from my experiences of caring for my mom, my mind immediately flashed to the day I literally dragged my mother into her nursing home nearly 2 years ago.  It was tough.  I needed to support Marty and help him check our aunt into "Rehab", code for a nursing home.

Like most folks, change is difficult for my aunt.  She wants everything to stay the way it is; she does not want to live in a nursing home.  She has told me this repeatedly over the last several days.  Hospitalized on Saturday with pneumonia, she is very weak and unable to ambulate on her own.

"All I need to do is eat good food and exercise!"  She exclaims, holding her fists like she is about to start doing calisthenics.   "I do not want to live in a nursing home." She added.  

I greeted her at the back entrance of the nursing home when she arrived from the hospital by ambulance.   I could see her frail little body dwarfed even more by the stretcher she was strapped into.  I smiled and waved.  She frowned back at me with a look that screamed, "You just wait until I get you alone!"  I asked my mother and father to give us strength to help Jay.

I opened the door for the EMT's and helped them bring Jay in to "Rehab."  Smiling and doing my best to make her believe me when I tell her that she will never be left alone, Jay began to give me reasons why she couldn't stay.

"Oh gee... this place is too expensive!  Look at it.  It's fancy."  Jay commented as she was being wheeled to her new room.

"I don't like this... look, someone is in this room with me... I want my own room!"  She glared at me in disgust when the EMT's left and it was only her and me in the room.

One excuse after another she shot; excuses that fell on deaf ears.  I smiled.  I felt like my father for a brief moment, standing silent and letting Jay talk, talk, talk.  I even felt my face forming my dad's grin.  A smirk that I had seen make my aunt angry decades ago when dad was alive and kicking.  

"Let me go see if I can find Marty."  I interrupted.  Every word I said to Jay seemed to make her more angry with me.  I needed to get away from her before my ego made me start to cry.  I took a few deep breaths as I walked  down the hall.  I turned the corner and found my brother.  

Marty signed Jay in to the facility.  Jay looked at me with confusion and distrust; she was blaming me for her being put in this place.  After all, I was the one who pulled her out of her house a couple years ago when I saw the black mold growing and her cats poop everywhere!  My mom was living with me at the time and having my aunt live here made my mother go more insane.  Jay couldn't go back home.  She couldn't stay here.  Thank God for Marty and Patricia taking her in.  

Now, life is changing rapidly for Jay.  Her favorite cat, Morris died.  My mom, her best buddy, died.  Now, her little cat Molly is not doing well and about to die.  

I pray for Jay to acclimate quickly and grow to love the nursing home as much as she loved the day program.  Change is rarely easy when we are comfortable in life.

21 March 2013

Mom's Last Breath

Me and Mom
Whole Foods - Woburn
October 2011

"I've never seen anything like it."  My mom's nurse, Martine said.  "In all the years that I have been a nurse, I have never seen anyone pass and then have all the wrinkles in their face vanish.  Your mom, she looked like a young girl after she passed, she was so beautiful.  She was peaceful.  I usually see suffering and your mom did not suffer.  It was beautiful."

I was delighted to talk to Martine, one of the nurses who was with my mom when she took her last breath in the middle of the night.

Why did my mom's wrinkles vanish after she stopped breathing?  Does anyone know why this phenomenon happens sometimes?  Martine told me that the following week another resident who lived with my mom had passed and like my mom, she turned into a young girl.  Did my mom and Barbara become instant angels?

Could it be all the whole foods and natural supplements had contributed to my mom's peaceful ending?  I don't know for sure.  I had a belief that if I fed my mom healthy and nutritious foods she would have a better end.  My strong belief in how to care for my mom kept me persistent, never did I give up.  I fought the good fight for my mom because I had observed other seniors who lived with my mom, they all seemed to do worse when fed more pharmaceuticals and food that was not alive with nutrients.

For my mom, she had fresh fruit and beet juice every day.  Food that was alive with micro nutrients   I believe my approach to helping my mom is what gave her more good days right up to the very end.

Today, I close my eyes and I can still hear the last words my mom said to me the week before she died; "Oh, your hair looks nice."   I always loved it when she complimented my hair or my cloths.  God bless her for being cognizant enough to notice and leaving me with so much peace.

My mom's face, her cute little face smiling up at me, with twinkling eyes that made me feel like "we did it!"   I tucked my mom in bed for the last time as I said to her,  "I love you, Ma.  Sleep with God."

12 March 2013


"Ouch!"  I suddenly jumped up and ran to the bathroom mirror to see what was on my face.  It felt like I had been stung by a million bees.  The pain, itching and burning was almost unbearable.  I thought for a moment that I should go to the hospital.  

I realized it was an attack of hives (Urticaria).  It was a first for me.  My face turned bright red and it quickly moved to my neck, chest, back, arms and hands.  The weirdest feeling I have ever experienced, like the sun had fried my skin in an instant.

What caused this attack?  There were 4 things I had learned could have triggered the outbreak of Urticaria. 

My gall bladder.  Gall stones in the duct can trigger an outbreak.  I already know that I have 2 gall stones at the base of the bile duct. 

I bought a new B Complex vitamin and took it today.  Only to discover that the amount of B1 was pretty high, which can cause hives in some people.  Great!

Other things that can cause hives is prolonged stress.  I was stressed out for years while caring for my mother and now that my mom has passed, my MIL is stressing me out.  It feels like I am back to the time when I took my mom's car keys away.  Taking my mom's driving privilege away was a horrible experience, it is when my mother screamed in my face that she hated me.

Food allergies can bring on hives too.  Corn, gluten, nuts, eggs; all can trigger histamines which flood the system and cause a hives outbreak.   The new supplement had corn in it.  Maybe it was the corn?

So, who knows.  Maybe it was a combination of everything?  The hives are gone.  I took some Rhus Toxicondron, a homeopathic remedy that I had and tried in an effort to stop the rash symptoms.  It worked.  Thank God I have a box full of different homeopathic remedies.  

Looks like it is time for me to run on the treadmill.  After all, running does reduce stress and it always makes me feel much better.   Like my dad used to say to me, "Susie, wait a minute, nothing ever stays the same."

09 March 2013

Now What?

Me and Brian
January 2013

"Now what?"  A text from my nephew flashed on my cell phone after hearing the news about Gram.  Good question I thought to myself; "I don't know yet."  I said out loud into the air.

"Energy can not be destroyed, Susie."  I hear my dad's words echo in my mind when I think about my mom and wonder where she went, where everyone goes when we die.

So, where do we go when we die?

I don't know.  

Mom is gone but she will never be forgotten.  As I write our story about our adventures in a world full of insanity and illusions; scary times, full of emotion that were drowned in tears of sorrow, I wonder what lies ahead for me.

What next?

Do I jump back into my old life and work in the world of computer software sales?  I loved this work before my mom got sick and showed me that there's so much more to life than work and making money.

My world is different now that caring is over.  I am left wondering about my own mortality and life.  What can I do today to have a better tomorrow?

How can I make a difference in the world?  Is a question that has been dancing in my mind the last few months.  My job is over.  I helped guide my ward to the other side of this world to wherever it is we go.

I have grown emotionally and spiritually.  I am a new person with so much to offer.  Life is full and it is up to me to make the best of it.  I am ready for my new life and all the endless possibilities that lay ahead of me.

Now... I write.

03 March 2013

Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Jo Flies

My Mom's Memorial
March 2, 2013
Yesterday we celebrated my mom's life with her community of Care Givers; we had her first funeral service at the nursing home in the area she spent most of the last year and a half.

Visiting the nursing home as frequently as I did, I got to know many of the residents.  People who quickly became part of my circle of friends.  The worst feeling in the world is when a friend passes and the family leaves, never to be seen or heard from again.

Death is hard for everyone that had been touched by the resident, not just family.  Staff, other residents and visitors who are part of the residents community are always excluded from mourning and celebrating the individual's life.  It stinks.

My mom, she was loved by the people who cared for her; she loved them back.  Many of mom's nurses and aides, became part of my family.  We learned how to work together as a team, communicate and respect each other.  My mom's care team were my workmates.  I am truly grateful for the people that helped me give Jo more good days before her end.

During the meeting with hospice when I was told my mom was actively dying, the chaplain mentioned we could have a memorial service for my mom at the nursing home. I jumped on the idea.  The perfect opportunity to include my mom's community and giving everyone closure.

Mom died and I got the flu.  I couldn't visit the nursing home for 2 weeks. I was suddenly gone, just like every other family who has a loved one pass.  I owed my mom's community closure and began to plan my mom's Celebration of Life.

I made a list.  I called a priest.  I hired a group of singers to sing.  I ordered food and flowers.  I looked on Pinterest and found an awesome idea, a Memory Tree.  I bought twigs and butterfly cards with little ribbons.  The idea was for everyone to write a memory about Jo and place the butterfly on the branches.  It gave everyone a chance to remember Jo.  (forgot to take a picture of it.)

Joe, Steve, Brian and Amy

The priest did an awesome job with the service.  Short and sweet.  The singers sounded amazing.  They sang 3 songs, Amazing Grace, Fly Away and Somewhere Over the Rainbow, my mom's all time favorite song.  It was a beautiful service.  My mom's community came together to honor her life.

Sounds of Grace singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

The flowers, the balloons, the decorations, the food, the people ... everything came together for a wonderful celebration of Jo's life.

Melinda holding balloons for Jo's Great-grandchildren

... and we all lived happily ever after while "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", Jo flies.

26 February 2013

Grieving Is Weird

Me and Amelia, January 2013
Creating new memories for a new generation

Am I a freak?  It has been almost 2 weeks since my mom has passed and I still haven't cried.  Why?  I loved my mother, heck I wouldn't have done all that I had done for her if I didn't love her.  So, why now that she is dead can I not cry?

The day after my mom died I came down with the flu.  I can not believe how sick I became once my responsibility of caring for my mom had abruptly ended with her end of life.  A sickness that caused my mind to wander into weird places that seemed to be in between the world of reality and dreams.

I thought about my mom while I was sick.  I replayed the phone call that I had received from the nursing home notifying me that she was gone.  A call that I had anticipated receiving since she entered the nursing home almost 2 years ago.  "Oh, Thank you."  Is all I could say to the nurse who called.  No tears.  No sobs. I laid in bed wondering if I should wake my family up and tell them or let them sleep.  I called everyone.  I  woke up and had a cup of tea.  No crying, just a huge feeling of relief engulfed my being.

Anticipating mom's death was brutal.  Everyday I thought about my mom's death day.  I wondered how long does she have?  Will it be fast?  Will she suffer? Will she starve to death?  Have I done all that I could? Is there something else we could do to help her slide out of this life and into her next?  Will my family come to her funeral?  Should I have a funeral?  Does anyone care?  No one seemed to care when she was alive why would they care now that she was dead?  I worried about my family and how they would handle mom's passing.  I worried that they wouldn't listen to me about the importance of changing our diet to avoid the crazy gene.

I never had answers, just lots and lots of questions bathed in tears.  I cried almost every day for 5 years, anticipating my mom's passing.  Alone, I mourned the loss of my mom when she was still alive.  Mom watched me mourn for her.  No wonder she was so distraught when I would sob uncontrollably.  Tears that should have come after she died were flooding our lives, filling it with sadness that at times was overwhelming.  I wrote a lot during those dark times of my heart, words that helped me to cope and make it through another day.

Now, the day has come and gone; my mom has died.   The anticipation is over.  Now what?  Tears have been replaced with joy and peace.  No longer is my mind filled with questions surrounding my mom's end.  I still don't have answers to all of my questions, but I do believe that my family does care.  My mom passing reunited my family.  Together once more, my family and I can pick up the pieces in order to create new memories.  Memories that will last our lifetimes and help those we leave behind when our time comes to  be remembered when we are gone from this world.

Grieving is weird.  Everyone grieves differently.

Will I ever cry for my mom again?  I don't know.  The hospice bereavement councilor told me that I had anticipatory grief.   I grieved about my mom's end, waiting for it, wondering when it would happen, how it would happen;  I cried.  I worked through my sadness before my mom got on the bus to heaven.

If you are like me and currently crying a lot, know that this feeling that is weighing heavy on your heart won't last forever.  When the end comes for your loved one, the feeling of relief is incredible and all tears seem to dry up suddenly.  You are not a freak, you are not weird, you already did all of your grieving... you are free!

21 February 2013

How I Helped My Mom With Food

My mom
December 2012
The time I had spent caring for my mom had taught me a lot about my own health.  Over the last 5 years, I observed everything that my mom ate or drank.  I noticed behaviors that would manifest after she ate anything white; bread, pasta, potatoes, corn products and boxed foods with preservatives always seemed to push my mom over the edge.  All bets were off and I found myself bracing myself for the storm.

Mom would become agitated and or hallucinate scary hallucinations if she ate any food that was not whole and natural.  Mom's behavior patterns could clearly be expected to change once she ingested foods that had high starch content or ones that were processed and filled with ingredients that were hard to pronounce.  

Through my mom, I learned how to lose weight without any effort; weight that seemed to resist any diet of my past, suddenly melted away.   Changing my approach to food and rethinking the foods my mom had fed us all her life, opened up a new world of flavors for my family and me.    Spices, herbs, vegetables, lean meats and fish, legumes, fruits and nuts, masterfully blended to create gourmet meals.  My taste buds sang and my waistline shrank.  My fussy mom, she loved my kitchen creations and she was happy.

The best way to make a life long change is to substitute unhealthy choices with healthier options.  Here is a short list to get you started.

Gluten Products Replacements


Udi Brand Gluten Free is excellent.  The bread holds up in a sandwich very well.  My mom loved sandwiches made from Udi Bread.  

Ezekehial 4:9 Sesame bread is also very good.  It is made from sprouted wheat using the recipe from the bible.  It is referred to as Jesus bread.  Very good bread that my mom could tolerate.  It is found in the freezer section of most supermarkets.

The Udi pizza shells are also fabulous.  I often make my own gluten free pizza with the Udi frozen pizza shells.  They are found in most supermarket freezer sections.  


Tinkyada  brand rice pasta is the best.  It has a good consistency and holds up when it is cooked according to the package directions. My Italian mom LOVED this pasta, she always felt like she was "cheating."


Bob's Red Mill brand of gluten free flour is excellent.  I use Bob's gluten free all purpose flour in place of regular flour in cookie recipes.  My mom could never tell the difference in the cookies; she loved oatmeal cookies the most.

I use Coconut flour (or gluten free bread crumbs) to make Oven Fried Chicken.  

Instead of using gluten flour to thicken sauces and gravies, I use chia seeds.  I grind them up and use a 1/2 teaspoon of the seed powder.  It has less calories and creates a thick gravy that is delicious.  

Dairy Replacement

Almond milk, So Delicious Coconut Milk and hemp milk are all great alternatives to dairy.  Dairy tends to cause inflammation in the body like gluten.  The inflammation is what brings on illness and health issues that are difficult to treat.  Cutting out dairy has improved my arthritis pain.  Dairy free frozen treats by So Delicious are amazing.

Eat more vegetables and fruits.

Vitamix Blender.  Yes, Vitamix is expensive but it is a health investment.  I can not live without my Vitamix now that I own one.  I use it ever day, sometimes 2 or more times depending on what I am making.  

Smoothies are a great way to make vegetables a regular part of your day.  Blending vegetables and fruit together in the morning with a serving of good quality protein powder is a fine way to fuel ones body and drop unhealthy pounds of fat.  Smoothies are delicious and will leave you wanting more.

Juicing fresh vegetables, especially vegetables that you normally do not eat, provides lots of nutrition from whole foods.  Beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, grapes and apples juiced together makes a delicious cocktail that boosts energy faster than a cup of coffee.  I think more clearly after drinking fresh raw vegetable juice.  When my mom drank the fresh juice, she would "wake up" and be able to communicate a little better. Beet juice helped give my mom more good days; our goal for her when she was alive.

An inexpensive juicer that works very well is The Big Mouth Pro by Hamilton Beach.  It is about $70 on Amazon.  I think I have seen them in Walmart too.  Make sure it is the PRO.

Eating for health is how I eat these days.  I feel better.  I have more energy and am able to do more good in  the world because of my improved health.  I believe I will have a better chance of avoiding the "crazy gene" because of the changes I have made in my diet.

I believe my mom's end of life was more peaceful because of the whole foods I brought for her to eat every day.  Smoothies, fresh vegetable juice made with different greens, fruit, soups and Susie Sandwiches sustained my mom to the very end.  

The day my mom stopped eating and drinking was the last day she was awake.  Smoothies helped her to get nutrition.  The consistency of the smoothies was perfect and easy for her to swallow when she wasn't able to swallow chewed food any longer.  My mom, she did not suffer.  She did not starve.  She went to sleep and never woke up.  The perfect ending to a very long life.  

And this is how I helped my mom with food.

20 February 2013

To Catch a Thief

"My Wallet!"  I gasped after I returned from the nursing home laundry room with an arm full of towels.

For the last year and three-quarters I had always left my purse hanging on the back of my mom's wheelchair with my jacket hanging over it.  I would leave my purse, not worrying that anyone would ever touch it.  I trusted every person on the unit where my mom had now called home.

I will never forget the day my wallet was stolen.  It was the day I had lost trust in one individual that I had befriended at my mom's nursing home.  A real live wolf in sheep clothing!  A sly fox with a heart of stone.

How low can any human go in this life than to steal from someone who they trust?  That's the question I am about to answer with my story of the stolen wallet.

Mom was having difficulty eating for a couple months before she had passed.  I made a point to visit her ever day at lunchtime so that I could feed her lunch and have my final days with her alive.  I didn't want to miss a minute of my mom; her days were numbered.

February 6, 2013 is a day I will never forget.  I remember having a conversation with a staff worker before lunch was served to the residents.  She said to me, "I am so broke.  I need money."  I replied, "Don't we all?"

I liked this girl.  I helped her.  I brought her smoothies and "Susie Sandwiches."  I thought we were friends.  I believe she robbed me.

I had just finished helping my mom with her lunch.  She was very sleepy so I tucked her in her bed for her afternoon nap.   My purse was hanging on the back of her wheelchair with my heavy winter coat hanging over the handles and covering my purse.  I purposefully backed my mom's wheelchair in backward and faced the chair handles up against the wall.

We were in my mom's room, an employee of the facility that I had befriended, my favorite resident, my sleeping mom and me.  The staff worker saw me cover my purse.   I said to her, "I am running down to the laundry to get some face cloths to wash my mom's face.  I will be right back."

I ran down to the basement and back up within 5 minutes.  I had a handful of towels and face cloths.  Walking into my mom's room, I noticed my coat was hanging off the back of the chair and my wallet was missing.  I looked and said to myself, "Did I forget my wallet at home or was my wallet stolen?"

My mom was having a rough day so I didn't want to leave her.  I instant messaged my husband and told him that I thought my wallet was stolen or I could have left it at home.  I wasn't sure.  I didn't want to panic.  I sat with my mom; she needed me.

It was now about 2:00 in the afternoon, a half hour after I noticed my wallet was missing.  I told one of the staff who had her wallet stolen a few months back that I thought my wallet was stolen.  I told her the story and who I thought was the facility thief.

The woman I told the story proceeded to give me more information which seemed to back up my belief.  I lost all feeling in my body.  I felt violated.  Could I be right with my hunch? I didn't want to believe my wallet was stolen.  Maybe I didn't put my wallet in my purse? I thought and convinced myself  It was possible.  I didn't want to panic.

It was now 3pm and the suspected thief was scheduled to work on my mom's unit.  I waited for her to arrive so that I could look at her face, look her in the eyes and see if she could look me back squarely.  She didn't arrive!

Another employee came to cover her shift, the thief suddenly had to go home because she had a sick baby.  What?!  I immediately felt like I was going to throw up.  I rushed out of the facility and ran home to see if my wallet was home.

It wasn't.

I called and cancelled my bank card and credit card.  I called and reported my wallet stolen to the nursing home.  The next day I was to meet with the head of the facility.  He was going to call the police.  I met with him but he never called the police.  We were about ready to have a huge snow storm the following day; the last day I would ever see my mom awake.

I walked around the parking lot before I left on Thursday.  I couldn't see my wallet anywhere.  On my drive home the nursing home called and told me that my wallet was recovered in the same parking lot where I walked.  The only thing missing was my money.  It was either 20 or 40 dollars, not much money.  All of my gift cards were left behind, everything was in my wallet except my money.

On Friday before the snow storm, I visited my mom.  I tucked her in.  I saw her smile at me with her sparkling eyes.  I told her to sleep with God and I left to report my wallet stolen at the police station at the beginning of the raging blizzard.

I had asked the Executive Director of the home not to have the thief working up on the unit where my mom lived.  I was ignored.  The little thief worked on the unit the entire time my mom laid in her bed dying.  It sucked.  I felt like grabbing her by the throat.  I didn't.  I glared at her with my eyes.  She couldn't look at me.

The thief even sent me two emails claiming her innocence.  The email notes proved to me that she was the thief.  Anyone who starts a sentence, let alone an email with the word, "Honestly..." is definitely lying.

I am pursuing this with the nursing home Ombudsman.  Yesterday I asked the nursing home what is being done and if I need to contact the Ombudsman.  I was ignored once more.  Why are they protecting this girl?

Time to write my complaint letter to the Ombudsman and the Department of Health and Human Services.  It is disgusting to allow someone to steal from people in their own home!  Don't nursing homes have a responsibility to keep residents and their property safe?

My wish is for the thief to be caught and prosecuted.  I don't care if it was only 20 or 40 bucks, I was robbed during one of the most difficult times of my life.  The thief needs to be punished and pay for their crime.  Larceny is a crime!

14 February 2013

...And They Were Happy Ever After

Josephine Jarmulowicz
July 17, 1929 - February 14, 2013

"Hello Sue?  Your mom is in peace."  Martine quietly spoke into the phone.

I couldn't cry.  I felt relief.  A huge weight lifted off my heart.  Ma was now at peace.  Her long life now over; a worth while life that created so much beauty.  I breathed deeply.

Stephen and Martine were with Ma when she took her last breath.  No suffering, just complete peace; the exact outcome that I had hoped to achieve for my mom.

My mom, she got on Heaven's Bus on Valentine's Day, 12:20 AM.  Reunited with my dad, finally after 35 years, my mom is free from this life and back in my dad's arms.  I can only imagine the celebration; I hope it is as grand as I had promised her.

"Ma, your hair looks awesome.  Your favorite blue dress fits you perfectly.  Dad is going to be so happy to see you.  It is OK to get on the bus.  You are an amazing lady and were a wonderful mother.  What a great job you did with all of your children.  Thank you for all that you had done for me to help me become the person that I am today."  I suggested to her, words that I hoped would get her excited for what was to come.

Rest in peace, Ma.  It sure was an adventure these last few years!  See you again one day when it is my time.  In the meantime, enjoy your freedom.

Love you always,

Your Susie.

12 February 2013

Is Today the Day?

"Actively Dying..." I heard the Hospice Doctor say to my mom's hospice nurse.  I knew Ma was dying days before.  I heard the death rattle; a sound I have heard come from a dying person in the past.

My role as Ma's caregiver is coming to an end.  Is today the day she will get on the bus to heaven?

Her end came fast, exactly as I had hoped would be the outcome to all of my efforts these last five years.  My mom was walking on Thursday.  A short walk that tired her quickly, but she walked with me and the hospice Chaplain.  She even was able to say her birth date; she remembered.  The last thing my mom said to me was, "Oh, your hair looks nice."  It did.  I was having a good hair day.

The pain from the UTI was causing mom lots of discomfort.  Dr. Barton's natural herb antibiotic mixture wasn't working anymore.  Pyridium wasn't helping.  My mom had no other options to ease her discomfort.  I saw my mom jumping off the toilet and crying, buckled over in pain.  I ran and found the doctor and told her about my mom's discomfort.  We determined it was time for her to have a low dose of morphine.

I was nervous.  In my heart I knew that once we started morphine my mom would relax and her life would end.  We stopped all natural medicines.  Morphine took the edge off and made her comfortable.

Friday my mom was sound asleep when I arrived early, hoping to see her before the snow storm came and crippled the city.  Mom did see me briefly when I helped her out of her wheelchair and tucked her in her bed with her baby.  The last time I would ever see my mom smile at me and look at me with her eyes.  I didn't want to leave, but I did.

Friday afternoon my mom woke up from her nap during the raging blizzard and was wide awake and alert.  She was wheeling herself around in her chair, smiling and greeting the staff.  I missed her last surge before she began to actively die.

Saturday we had a driving ban in the state because of the snow storm.  I couldn't get to see my mom.  She never got out of bed and was not very responsive to her environment.

Sunday I visited with my sister and my niece.  We heard the death rattle in her throat.  It scared me a little.  I had asked the nurse if the gurgling meant her end was near like I had read on the internet.  Mom's nurse teared up and shook her head yes.  Her decline happened fast.

Monday (yesterday) I sat with my mom.  She is unresponsive now with labored breathing.  I cried a lot.  I thought I was prepared for my mom passing.  I am not.  I suppose we are never ready to see someone that we love die.  Her breathing is labored.  Her time on Earth is coming to an end. 

Is today the day?

I believe that all of my efforts, caring for my mom were all worthwhile.  I believe that my mom suffered a lot less because she didn't take traditional pharmaceuticals to treat her dementia.  I had lots of good days with her, memories that will last my lifetime.  It was hard caring for my mom.  I did it.  I would do it again.  I will miss you Ma... time to get on the bus and be free from all this suffering.

23 January 2013

My Family, Together Again

Ma holds my hand
"Where is everyone?!" My mom cried one day while I visited a couple weeks ago.  She was laying in bed, eyes closed, calling for her children and grandchildren; tears rolled down her cheeks.  My mom's sadness broke my heart.

Like a shot, I suddenly felt that resenting my family was not serving me or my mom.  Ego filled with negative emotion was my personal enemy which fueled resentment that built upon itself.  I spiraled into my own abyss of self pity.  I felt a painful loneliness that was dark and scary.  I had to get out of this place I found myself.  I needed to be free from my self-inflicted bondage.  How? I needed to change me, the only person on the planet that I can control.

I made a conscious effort and turned to the power of love.  I got over myself.  Focusing on my mom, I quickly realized that Ma wasn't going to leave this life until she knew everyone was OK, that her family was together again.

I forgave everyone, including myself.  I began a refreshing new approach to life; live every day from a place of love.

Love is peace.

Everyone that my mom called out for visited.  Lives put on hold to travel long distances, lifted the cloud that seemed to be hanging over Ma's heart.  She began to smile.  She was happy to see her children and grandchildren.

Donna with Ma 

Drew and Gram

Marty walks with Ma

Joe and Melinda introduces Gram to her Great Granddaughter

Gram telling Joe what she wanted to tell him.  Unfortunately, it was gibberish.  Joe said, "OK."

Ann helps Ma drink. 
Ann and Me, together again.  Ma was happy.

Ma after her nap, happily talking about her family visitors.

Ma is happy.  She saw everyone.  

13 January 2013

Pictures Tell the Story

Mom with Drew when he first arrived.  She was delighted to see him .  She head butted him and held his hands.
The room was filled with love.

Gram with Drew mid-way through a walk.
Look at those smiles!
Peaceful and ready for a rest with her baby, Gram knows Drew won't be alone now that he has Jenn.

10 January 2013

Regrets, I've Had a Few...

Mom, loving her baby
December 2012

Andy Williams was one of the singers my parents enjoyed, crooning words to songs that haunt me today.  “My Way,”  I can still hear my dad singing it in his melodic voice.  My mind wanders as I remember the words.

"Regrets, I've had a few…”

This morning this song popped in my head, “My Way” by Andy Williams.  I thought of my mom and how much I will miss her when she dies.

I already miss her, my mom... the woman I would sit and watch sitcoms and laugh out loud. I miss my mom's sense of humor. I miss her so much.  I miss her mind going in the gutter and her sinister laugh.

I didn’t appreciate my mom when I had the chance.  I remember when my mom made me crazy. I can remember secretly wishing her dead so many times.

“Susie, you will miss me when I am gone. Watch it!”   Mom warned,

”No I won’t!”  I demanded in response.

Mom was right.

I miss her and she isn't even dead yet.

I wish I were nicer to her when she was mentally sound.

I missed out on knowing an amazing woman because I felt smothered by her love. Her love repelled me.  I wanted to be my own person and my mom had no place in my new world.

Oh how I wish I could be smothered by my mom's love again.

I wish I could get this message to all young women everywhere who feel their mothers are a pain in their fannies.

I am speaking from the experience of the school of hard knocks.  You will miss your mom, trust me.  If I could only turn back 30 years and be a better friend for my mom.  I missed my chance.  If your mom is still alive, it is not too late.  Call her.  Love her.  

As for my mom, she took a sudden turn for the worst over Christmas.  She’s back in hospice.   I think this is it; I don’t see her rebounding like she has in the past.  She had two awesome months on Lysine.  My mom knows who I am, she knows that I am her daughter; she tells me she loves me often.   I am grateful.

Today, because of Lysine, my mom can tell me clearly what is wrong and where she has pain.  Lysine is working.  My mom’s body is failing.

Mom put up a good fight and lived life her way.