Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Overall June was challenging due to momís final decline and death. I traveled out of state to stay with mom; staying in hotels led to eating and exercise challenges. Financially the travel was expensive and required me to dip into savings. Although I am luckier than many people because my employer gave me extended paid leave to spend time with mom in her final days, the 3 separate trips to an expensive area cost me over $6,000. Ouch. But I am glad that I spent time with her, and that I was with her at the end. But this was an emotional roller coaster, and I am grateful that I had her in my life. I miss her.
So all in all I am happy that my June was not a health disaster. I did not gain or lose weight. I kept up regular exercise, even if it was just 10 minutes at night before bed. I lapsed on my eating and had a couple of binges, but I recovered and moved back into healthier habits.
I return to California tomorrow for momís funeral service and memorial. I am reading a favorite poem that mom wanted to have included in the service, it is Margaritae Sorori by William Ernest Henley. Iíll paste it at the end of this blog for those who like poetry and/or comforting messages about departed loved ones.
I hiked Lookout Mountain on Sunday by myself, it was a hot day and none of my friends were willing to brave the heat. I really enjoyed it. I will be leading this hike in a couple of weeks, and I want to be sure I am in shape for this moderate hike (about 7.5 miles, 1250 elevation gain). The wildflowers were spectacular. Mom would have loved it. She really loved nature.
The trail opens in the woods in the Ochoco Mountains
After a mile or so elevation gain, I hiked through a meadow filled with corn lilies
Flowers (larkspur and lupine)
Butterfly on yarrow
Indian paintbrush and other flowers
This flower is aptly named -- Oregon Sunshine!
Indian Paintbrush and lupine
The flowers are best in the dry rocky slopes on top of Lookout Mountain. They have a very short blooming season.
View on the descent across wildflower meadow
In the woods on the descent, arnica was blooming in the shade.
Poem for mom's memorial:
by William Ernest Henley
A LATE lark twitters from the quiet skies:
And from the west,
Where the sun, his day's work ended,
Lingers as in content,
There falls on the old, gray city
An influence luminous and serene,
A shining peace.
The smoke ascends
In a rosy-and-golden haze. The spires
Shine and are changed. In the valley
Shadows rise. The lark sings on. The sun,
Closing his benediction,
Sinks, and the darkening air
Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night--
Night with her train of stars
And her great gift of sleep.
So be my passing!
My task accomplish'd and the long day done,
My wages taken, and in my heart
Some late lark singing,
Let me be gather'd to the quiet west,
The sundown splendid and serene,
Monday, June 23, 2014
I led a hike on Paulina Creek on Saturday with 8 other hikers, I really enjoyed the group. The trail was dusty, and followed the creek. We hiked about 6.5 miles.
Paulina Creek is named after Chief Paulina, who was a warrior who attacked many Oregon settlers.
Our hiking group crossing the bridge
McKay Falls, our destination. McKay was one of the scouts who was instrumental in tracking Chief Paulina, and stopping his attacks.
We took an alternate trail back which was an adventure. Because it was a fisherman's trail, it was not used by horses and was MUCH less dusty. After the hike we visited lovely Paulina Falls.
There is a lot of water in the double falls, because the snow is melting very quickly.
I missed mom all week long but particularly on Sunday; for years I have called her every Sunday. My younger sister felt the same loss (we both called every Sunday, even when she could no longer pick up the phone. She said she heard our voices over the answering machine by her bed).
I have a couple of photos from my final visit, trying to focus on happier memories.
My sister with me in momís apartment
My brother. These photos are from the first day of my visit, when mom was more alert and able to communicate.
Mom always loved the grounds of the nursing home. Even when she couldn't walk, she loved looking out the windows and her rare wheelchair trips (the wheelchair was very painful for her)
Here is a photo of the resident apartment units (mom lived in one of the apartments before she became so ill).
The courtyard outside the nursing home
The flower garden outside the window
Flowers are watered and selected by other residents in the senior community.
My mom selected this poem (anonymous writer) to be read at her funeral. I find it both powerful and comforting.
Weep not for me though I am gone into that gentle night
by Unknown Author
Weep not for me though I am gone into that gentle night.
Grieve if you will, but not for long upon my soul's sweet flight.
I am at peace, my soul's at rest
There is no need for tears.
For with your love I was so blessed.
For all those many years.
There is no pain, I suffer not,
The fear now all is gone.
Put now these things out of your thoughts,
In your memory I live on.
Remember not my fight for breath
Remember not the strife.
Please do not dwell upon my death,
But celebrate my life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Just back from 9 days very tough days in California. My beloved mother died early yesterday morning. She had a couple of days where she was semiconscious and knew I was there. My younger sister and older brother were there with me sharing the vigil for days at momís bedside. The other two were missing, and I am struggling not to resent them for not being there. I need to instead focus on the good things Ė a loving and kind mother, the caring caregivers, and that we were able to ease her suffering.
Mom was awake and alert for her 95th birthday at the end of May, but she has been very ill for a long time. She is in the arms of the Lord at last. She had last rites, and was awake and at peace for prayers from the hospice chaplain.
My mom wrote this short poem for the staff of her nursing home a few years ago at Christmas, before she became too ill to write. She was probably 89 when she wrote this poem. Iím reprinting it, to remember the good things about this long tough journey.
To the Nursing Home Staff
This season of Christmas, this month of December,
Is the best of all times for us to remember
You who work hard to make our life brighter
So the weight of our years seems a little bit lighter.
We can be cranky and hard to please,
But our worst complaining you handle with ease.
For your patience, politeness, your smiling ways
As you put up with us, we offer our praise.
For all the kindness and help weíve received through the year
Youíve grown close to our hearts,
Youíve become very dear.
For all your work and your warmth and your wonderful attitude
You deserve now and always our love and our gratitude.
RIP Mom, I hope I can emulate your caring and forgiving attitude.
Monday, June 02, 2014
May was a pretty good month for me. I lost 4 pounds. I mostly met my goals: I exercised daily, increased hiking mileage, ate fairly well, stretched at least 4 times a week, controlled snacking (with the exception of the past 5 days when I was visiting mom). I limited sugar-free energy sodas (I drank 3 last month, which is down from 30-50 per month in March). I feel good that I didnít relapse on the soda, and I met my goals for most of the month. Itís not great that I relapsed into emotional eating when visiting mom, but I am not going to beat myself up for a short term lapse. Iím forgiving myself and moving on, and celebrating an overall good month.
I have been visiting mom for the past 5 days and I did not eat well or exercise as much while there. On her 95th birthday, she had a stream of visitors and well wishers Ė 20-25 of her friends stopped by. I purchased cupcakes (her favorites) but she could not eat even a mouthful. For the remainder of my visit, I did a bedside vigil. She was very weak and sleepy. She slept through most of my visit. However she perked up and stayed awake again when son-in-law and her granddaughter came on the weekend; we brought brunch but she did not eat anything. She has stopped eating and only drinks a few sips of ginger ale. The hospice RN said that may occur at the end of life. She gets nauseated and canít swallow her pills. They are sending a specialist doctor who will look at her throat and investigate mom's problems swallowing.
I feel very torn about flying home to return to work. I asked the hospice nurse if I needed to stay and he told me I should go; that I may need to return later. So I came home but she was in tears when I left.
It has become very clear to my brother and me that my older sister does not plan to return early from Mexico even if mom is dying or dies. Older sister lives closest to mom and has done the bulk of visiting; she is the medical advisor and has control of momís finances. I know sister must feel she needs time off (this has been going on for over 2 years, and it is mom's 4th time in hospice care). Nevertheless, mom feels abandoned. I live 550 miles away. I will try to make another trip in two weeks (my older brother from Arizona will flying in at the end of week). It is a financial drain to go; hotels in Palo Alto/Menlo Park are VERY expensive, but I need to dip into savings and just do it. My younger sister CANíT come because of the blood clots.
I do not want my mom to be sad and lonely at the end. Even though she feels forgotten by her friends, LOTS of them visit, even when it is difficult for them due to mobility/balance problems. They wheel themselves in on wheelchairs or use their walkers. She is just asleep and doesn't know they are there.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
After leaving Marial Lodge, we were ready for an easier hiking day. The hike to Paradise bar was only about 3.5-4 miles. This stretch of the trail was delightful. You climb up a rock ridge that is named Devilís Backbone. The river has cut a very narrow channel through the serpentinite rock.
We saw more lovely flowers
Monkey flower loves the moist areas where water seeps out of the ground
The iris blooms change color as you hike along the trail
Coreopsis in the dry rocky soil
At Inspiration Point, the hiker looks across at Stairstep Falls.
Paradise Lodge had the nicest accommodations -- the rooms were spacious and comfortable. The food was quite good. They had a complete selection of Zane Gray western novels; he lived in the area. The novels are dated and contain stereotypes that are jarring to modern readers.
View from our room at Paradise Lodge
View from the restaurant deck
The river is enjoyed by rafters and kayakers
We thought the final hiking day would be not too long. The views were beautiful, but it was a long hard slog. The trail had been rerouted. A couple of short sections had very treacherous footing over washed out scree.
On the trail
Crossing the scree section -- very carefully!
The weather was very warm, and all of us ran out of water by the end of the hike. 2 of our hiking group brought water purifiers Ė next time I will bring my own because no one was willing to stop and pump water.
At Blossom Bar, we saw the wild azalea trees in bloom.
We had lunch at Flora Dell where a lovely little waterfall cascaded down.
Approaching Flora Dell
We were quite happy to arrive at Illahee lodge after hiking around 12 miles.
The view from Illahee was lovely.
Relaxing on the porch at Illahee
The former owner was quite a character (he is now working for his daughter). He opined that the beautiful forests should be logged, because the forest was meant to provide cellulose.
This is the view from Illahee lodge -- can you imagine it with the forest clear cut?
On our way home, we took a different route. We stopped along the Umpqua River several times.
Colliding River, where the Little River meets the Umpqua
We hiked to Toakatee Falls, off the Umpqua River highway. It is a short easy hike -- but we didn't expect the uphill grade!
I LOVED this hiking adventure, but yesterday (my first day home) I was happy to rest and do household chores. Today I worked outside in the yard for 5 hours. Maybe tomorrow I'll be ready to hike again!
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