I wanted to update you on everything going on in my life. You see there has been a big turn for myself and my family. On December 21st, 2014 we put my Mother on hospice. She was responding so well in fact, on Feb 21st, hospice had prepared me that mom most likely not be eligible for renewal.
At 4pm, Monday Feb 24th she got the flu. By 11pm she had a 103 temperature. At 7am Tuesday morning they suspected pneumonia. We were able to get a few teaspoons of thickened juice in her, midday Tuesday. Little did we know, that would be her last supper.
Miracles Started to Appear in Our Lives
My brother Scott who lives in PA, was already en route home for a “surprise” visit when I called him, and a few hours later he walked in the door to be with mom. Family members who had not talked in a couple of years spoke. Ex-spouses came together to honor mom. Even my ex-husband Tom and his new wife Maureen joined the vigil. Maureen recited the Rosary and brought holy water to bless my mother.
We found out one of mom’s great granddaughters Aniah, who is three years old, had been talking about my mother for the past two weeks, saying she was going to heaven. Another friend of mine, Jennifer could hear us singing “You Are My Sunshine,” to mom. She said it was so loud in her ears, she didn’t know where it was coming from but she was instantly in a wonderful mood and felt energized, happy and peaceful. She too started singing the song in her own house. Another friend, Mary, stayed the night with my mother. This is a woman who had never met my mother! How beautiful and gracious she was. I know not only did my mother appreciate her presence, but so did the whole family.
Three years ago when my mother was on hospice, my daughter Danielle, could not bear to let grandma go. This time she was the lead horse – strong and compassionate taking on my role as I was not able to there.
Letting Go Without Being There
You see a few months ago, my mother started coming to me in dreams. She told me she was getting ready to go. She told me to start writing her obituary. She told me to observe her getting her hair done and to watch her get a bath as I need both for training programs. She told me I needed to be gone so she could bring the family together and I needed to continue to speak and be an advocate for the cause.
I had two speaking engagement in Arizona and had to leave on Wednesday the 26th. Such a difficult time for me, yet I knew this is where she wanted me to be. You see I have been the one in many situations to be with loved ones when they pass. I of course wanted to be there for mom too. I held strong to my faith in my mother and her plan. So I got on that plane and left knowing I would most likely never see her again.
I Was Blessed With Miracles Throughout My Trip
Starting with my friend Judy who drove me to the airport and helped be stay calm and focused on my mother’s wishes.
To several close friends who were checking in on me: Chris, Amy, Cindy, Sue, Tre, Jennifer, Patty, Beth, Kelly, Anne, Diane, Marta, Janie, Joann, Eilon, roger, Carol, Nancy, Jonatha, Anita and so many others.
To getting a TSA pass to bypass screening at the airport.
To the stranger by the name of Webb, who became a welcomed friend sitting next to me on the plane. He too touched by dementia, his mother-in-law has it.
To my daughter Danielle, who thought to use FaceTime, so I could see my mother and say goodbye as she was taking yet another turn as I sat in the baggage claim area at the airport. Danielle, your brilliance to use this technology made being away bearable.
To the woman who sat next me at baggage claim and handed me a Kleenex as she heard and saw me say goodbye to my mother, via FaceTime. She too had lost her mother this past year to dementia.
To the wonderful technology of FaceTime which allowed me to actively participate in my mother’s last days. Allowing me to guide and support my family as needed, to be able to see and talk to my mother, to be able to see our family rally together in honor of her. As I write this now I’m in tears feeling so blessed to have been able to be involved at that level when I was from so far away.
To the warmth and beauty of the Arizona sunshine that filled my heart and soul which so badly needing filling.
To wonderful Mindy with the Mesa Alzheimer’s Association who so kindly picked me up from the airport, took me to get my rental car, drove me back to the hotel and then helped me with a dry run at the conference center where I would be speaking at on Friday. Mindy, you are an exceptional meeting planner and human being. I so deeply thank you.
To the hundreds of comments and likes on FaceBook from people all over the world sending prayers and love, hugs and scriptures, poems and pictures. You have no idea what your support has meant to all of us.
To having a 6-plus hour virtual vigil via FaceTime with my whole family as my mother slowly slipped away. This allowed me to actively participate in her dying process, something I thought I had to let go of, to be out of state. I can’t tell you what a difference this made for me and I believe for my mother and other family members as well. It was exceptionally beautiful.
To all the wonderful staff at the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation who so lovingly cared for me on Thursday. Kirti Khalsa you are amazing! All those that worked so hard to coordinate my talk and to those who showed up for my presentation. For the beautiful flowers in my room to the candle which I will be using in a ceremony to keep mom’s light alive.
To feeling my mother’s surge of energy enter me 5 minutes before going on stage for my ARPF talk.
To Kirti Khalsa, Tryn Rose, Conni Ingallina and Carolyn Sechler for a lovely dinner after our ARPF event.
To Tryn Rose for the beautiful card she snuck into my suitcase.
To the hundreds of people at the Alzheimer’s Association conference on Friday who loved my “chickens” and made me smile. A special thanks again to the team of professionals who pulled off such an amazing event.
To Frank and Mary Granberg, who were so lovely to meet with and a special THANK YOU to Frank. He made me a hand craved “Purple Angel” from wood. I was a bit overwhelmed at his kind gesture and will be bringing this to the funeral as a symbol of the power of my mother’s advocacy for change in our dementia care
To the wonderful spiritual team who lifted us all throughout this very long week.
To my mother with her set plan in tact with miracle after miracle to keep us strong. For her ability to let go and not wait for my return so the pain could come to an end for her and those that loved her so deeply.
On Friday February 28th, at 7:45pm my mother took her last breath and slipped into the heavens with my daughter Danielle at her side.
To Rita Anand who was with me at dinner and who so kindly allowed me to take the last distressed calls from my daughter who was watching her best friend and grandmother slip away before her; and who also shared seeing my mother’s last breath via FaceTime with me. Rita, you were the perfect soul for me to be with at that very moment. Thank you for making the connection for us to meet.
To Rita who also went home that evening and cleansed herself and then lit a candle in my mother’s honor as per India tradition, to carry on the light of my mother.
To all of those who were able to come back to say one last good bye to my mother or who were continuing to send us prayers of support through this difficult time.
To all of the wonderful and loving staff who cared for her over the past 13 years…our gratitude goes out to you.
May you rest in peace my lovely mother. May you dance amongst the stars, giggle with each gentle breeze and love with the power of each ray of sunshine. You have not only been a wonderful mother, but a good friend and amazing mentor to me.
May Your Legacy Live On
I will continue to raise awareness by educating the public as we remove the fears and stigmas caused by this disease. You have accomplished more than I ever could have imagined mom. Thank you for letting me play a role in your grace-filled plan. I know the struggle and pain you went through to help our global society have a better understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia and the additional supports so badly needed. For that I am honored. Know I will not quit. I am committed to carry on your dream.
I pray you know how much you were loved and what an impact your have had around the world.
Your devoted daughter forever and ever
For additional information check out Alzheimer’s Speaks
which was started in my mother’s honor.