Saturday, January 4, 2014

Time with Mom - #Celebrate

There are a multitude of things I could celebrate about the holiday season - time with friends, time with family, time to relax a bit.  I could wax on about any of these for quite awhile, but I've decided to take another tack today.

As I mentioned in my post about my #OLW, my mom just recently had a hip surgery to remove a hip replacement put in last May.  Turns out her prosthetic got very infected and needed to come out while she undergoes a course of heavy antibiotics.  Then she will have another hip replacement in six to eight weeks.  I am definitely not celebrating those things.

However, I am celebrating the gift of time spent with my mom.  Because her hip surgeon is in the city where I live, Mom had surgery in the area and is now doing all her rehab in a lovely facility not even 10 minutes from our house.  Since I moved from my hometown after college, I have never lived in the same town as my mom.  It has been a huge celebration that I will get to see her almost every day for the next three months as she convalesces.

Each day, I pack up my bag with goodies -- cards, magazines, the Jumble from the newspaper, clothes that I have washed for her, snacks or leftovers -- and drive the ten minutes to see Mom.  The Jumble is one of the first things we do after I unpack; she loves unscrambling words and then trying to solve the riddle.  It is wonderful for me because as we talk and solve, I can see progress each day in the way she thinks and attacks problems.  Mom also loves to play cards; we have played numerous games of Gin Rummy.

And the conversations we have are plentiful.

However, as she looks ahead to this long rehab, with a major surgery looming in the middle of all it for her and a surgery for my dad next week in our hometown, Mom has taken to questioning whether it's worth it.  Some days, she feels sorry for herself and doesn't feel like she's making any progress.

After a few days of that kind of negative talk, I reflected on this community of celebration Ruth has inspired.  I realized I needed to have Mom write about her celebrations, no matter how small, so she can see her progress each and every day.  So, I bought her a journal, and together we have begun a new ritual. Each day, she needs to record at least two successes or things she wants to celebrate.

Thursday, she had her hair done in the beauty shop housed within the rehab facility; let me tell you, that item took the #1 slot that day!  The #2 slot was the fact that she had her nails painted (a service the activity directors provided).  After feeling and looking bad for that long, what woman wouldn't list those personal grooming items high on their list?!!

But, we are also recording milestones of other kinds as well:

  • Each day on the way to therapy, she wheels her wheelchair just a bit further down the hall on her own (she is non-weight-bearing with this temporary hip / spacer)
  • Mom is anxious about many things and sometimes wakes up at night and just stays awake.  Two nights in a row, she woke up and was able to put herself to sleep again.
  • Her appetite was greatly diminished right after the surgery, so when she ate her entire lunch two days in a row, that made the celebration notebook.

There is something so concrete in recording these celebrations on paper, and then being able to refer back to them.  Mom seems to like the journal as well; the other day I got there, and she had already recorded her celebrations (up until then, I had done the writing).

Being able to share conversations, Jumbles, and celebrations with Mom has truly been a lovely gift for me.

For more celebrations, head on over to Ruth's blog to see what others are celebrating.  Thanks so much to Ruth for giving us a forum to celebrate.


  1. Although none of this part of your mother's physical trouble can be easy, it also seems like a gift you've been given, Karen, as you said at the beginning, to be able to visit & be with your mom so much. I'm sure it's taken some life rearranging for you to make the daily visits, but I admire you so much for your creativity in the time spent, & the celebration journal sounds as if it's working beautifully. I wish both your parents good recovery! And to you, some peaceful moments yourself too!

  2. Wow, Karen, your mom has so much going on. I love how you've found a positive focus for her in a time that it would be easy to find the negative. Wishing her the best as she heals.

  3. Karen, I understand how precious your time with you mom is. I love that you had her start her daily celebrations - something we could all benefit from. Relish the time with her and the memories you are making.

  4. Karen--What an amazing post and what an amazing gift you've given your mom! What precious memories you are creating each time you are together. I've been thinking about you since we had the conversation at dinner that night at NCTE, and am so glad your mom is able to be close by. You, my friend, are amazing, and I'm thankful for your words of wisdom and celebration today. I am going to forward your blog to my mom, who's been sick for a while now as well. I think this will be a great inspiration for her too. love and thanks! Ann Marie

  5. Dear Karen,
    I love this and what a wonderful gift to your mother. I am so glad you have this time to be with her and you were able to share the celebrations. It has to make her feel better to focus on what is going well and to see her progress. I'll be sending her (and you) prayers and lots of healing thoughts. Remember to take care of yourself too. Julie

  6. How wonderful that you found a way to stay positive and celebrate in the midst of worry - your idea of a celebration notebook is such a gift to your mom. I wish both your parents a speedy recovery, Karen.

  7. Thanks for sharing! Sure made me think of the days when we all got together. Dad talks about your mom and dad, know he misses them.

  8. Karen - Thank you for sharing and for reminding us what is truly important. The memories you are creating with your mom right now are going to be with you forever. We are so happy that you have this time with her.

  9. I am sure this journal will continue to feed her spirit for many days ahead. It will be a constant reminder that there is good in every day, even she may not want see it. Prayers sent for both of you as you go down this road.

  10. My heart is breaking for your mom, but I am jealous of your time with her. Spending a week with mom doing little things for her to help out was nice, but I'd like to be able to pop in on a regular basis. Not sure I could ever get her to move out here, so I'll have to enjoy my chunks of time. You enjoy your slices.

  11. "Being able to share conversations, jumbles, and celebrations with Mom has truly been a lovely gift for me."...Captures so much.

  12. Karen,
    What lovely words and sentiments for your time with your mama. I am sure this time means just as much if not more to your mom. I will keep you and your mom in my thoughts and wish you both continued celebrations!