And now I am a Lolli (grandma)

Dear Tessa-Ann,

On February 6, 2022, a new title was bestowed upon me.  I honor my titles of daughter, wife, mom and aunt.  Your birth gave me the new and prestigious title of Lolli, aka Grandma! I will honor this name with unconditional love, laughter, tears, discipline along with many adventures.  There will be big responsibilities as we help each other grow, see and appreciate God’s love in everything.  You will make His love evident and shine even brighter as I watch the awe and wonder (even the exhaustion) of parental love through the eyes of your parents.  Your innocence will brighten my vision helping me see God as your pure love allows you to  experience Him with no biases in our common, everyday world. The excitement and love you are bringing to your Pops, Grandfather, Abuelo, great grandmas, uncles, aunts, aunties and cousins is a blessing to your family!  This task, coupled with the ginormous world, may seem daunting, but I know you can do it! You have Jesus in your heart, your guardian angel named Grandma Tess, mommy, daddy, Lolli-Pops and the rest of your huge, caring and protective family to hold your hand and guide you!

Welcome to the world little one.

I am excited to begin this Lolli-Pops journey with you!

I love you Tessa-Ann!

FA&E, (For Always and Ever)

Love,

Lolli

Lolli and Pops are ready to begin adventures with you Tessa-Ann!
Lolli will always have your back!😊

You Is Cute. You Is Smart. You is A Silkie! (2-27-22)

Dear Estelle (my little white silkie),

I have heard people talk about how dumb chickens are. I disagree! After your bravery yesterday, I know you are smart!

I had been in my room reading when I jumped due to a raucous suddenly filling the peaceful afternoon outside. You and your sisters sounded like you were fighting for your life. You were! As I ran into the backyard, simultaneously, two different sights caught my attention. The first was the amount of white feathers laying on the ground. As my brain was trying to process that image, I saw a determined red-tailed hawk swooping down with its talons outstretched. I yelled! The bird of prey did not alter his course. He was coming down fast! I blinked, and just as fast, the hawk was flying up to the tree tops with his talons clutching nothing but air!

With my heart racing, I grabbed the bucket of ‘Grubblies’ dried black soldier fly larvae (ya’lls favorite snack) and started scattering them in the yard to help get your ‘sisters’ the Silkies, Golden Comets and Americanos out of the trance they were in. Slowly, the hens began responding. It was easy for your sisters to respond, because the fear of the hawk had left them frozen in the middle of the yard with very little coverage. You did not come running! Was I about to confirm my fear of whom the pile of white feathers belonged to? With dread, I lumbered over to examine the pile expecting blood or a body. There was neither. Did that mean you were safe? I began searching the perimeter of the yard searching through the foliage. You were not to be found. I was afraid that maybe you had been taken. I felt sick and sad! I was already missing your little pecks of impatience when I was too slow putting your salad treats on the ground. Or the way you always made me laugh when you herded the dogs, instead of allowing them to heard you! You may have been the tiniest chicken in the yard, but your personality superseded everyone else’s, dogs included! As these memories went through my mind, I glanced over near the AC unit. Was I seeing more feathers? I slowly approached. When my feet crunched on the gravel, the feathers moved in unison! I crouched down and there you were!!! Your head was wet from the condensation drips from the unit. Your face was filthy from pecking at the dirt, but you were alive!

Your second chance of life was not due to luck, unlike your sisters. I give you credit for being smart enough to hide in a spot where you were covered, by planks of wood on 5 sides, from the hawk. There was no way he could have swooped down to get you. Thanks for hiding in a protected spot instead of allowing fear to leave you rooted to an unsafe spot with inadequate protection from a powerful, flying, hungry red-tailed hawk!

You, my little friend, have personality, courage, brains and lots of love to share, making adventures in the backyard cheerful for me!

2 Timothy 1:7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Love,

Lolli

Greeted with masks 2/9/22

Dear Tessa-Ann,

You were born during a pandemic. This means a virus has spread world wide. It started in China and rapidly spread to all contents on earth. The virus is called Covid. We are going on two years. The world has changed forever. Your perception of the world will be different than mine was as a little girl. Change can be good. Change can be bad, but change will always be different. This has been true since the beginning of time when Eve and then Adam took the bite of the forbidden apple after being tempted by the cunning serpent! How you embrace the change, will determine how the change affects you, good or bad.

When life becomes different, people get scared. Scared is an interesting emotion. Sometimes it makes you angry. We are seeing a lot of that in the world right now. Good people are scared and it makes them fight, especially if others do not agree with their beliefs. Sometimes there is no right or wrong in their stated belief. The important thing is to look at the situation with your heart eyes. This does not mean you have to agree with a particular belief. It means you have the strength to understand where another person is coming from without compromising your morals. Heart eyes are a gift that gives you insight while helping guide your actions and words towards any situation.

Lolli tries hard to use her Heart Eyes with all the opinions of Covid. Two of the biggest fights have been wearing masks and vaccinations. I will not tell you what is right or wrong, I just want you to understand that everyone’s opinion does matter. With that being said, as you meet your strong village of people who love and adore you, you will meet them with masks. This is a respect thing, not a political statement. Your mommy and daddy love you more than you will ever comprehend (until you have your own children). February is still winter which means there are many different illnesses, along with Covid, circulating. We all want to keep you safe as your immune system strengthens. At the same time, your mommy, daddy and Lolli-Pops know you need to experience the world which is full of beauty, love and God! When you have Him, you have everything. You are human. God understands that we will have fears. That is why He has given us verses for every emotion life throws at us. One of my favorites (Lolli will help you memorize) when I get scared is

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Life will sometimes be scary Tessa-Ann. I would love to wrap my arms tightly around you, preventing hurt, sadness, anger and fear, but I won’t. You see, these experiences are what grows you closer to God. As you grow closer to Him, you mature spiritually. This is the most important growth you can experience. Your ultimate goal in life baby girl is to know and love God and His son. Don’t worry. There will be many adventures as you develop this relationship. Many of them will have your family by your side!

I love you Tessa-Ann!

FA&E (For Always and Ever)

Lolli

Uncle Hammie
Uncle KJ
Aunt Payton and Aunt Lisa
Auntie Robin and Abuelo
Some of your village!

Welcome To The World (2/6/22)

Dear Tessa-Ann,

On February 6, 2022, a new title was bestowed upon me.  I honor my titles of daughter, wife, mom and aunt.  Your birth gave me the new and prestigious title of Lolli, aka Grandma! I will honor this name with unconditional love, laughter, tears, discipline along with many adventures.  There will be big responsibilities as we help each other grow, see and appreciate God’s love in everything.  You will make His love evident and shine even brighter as I watch the awe and wonder (even the exhaustion) of parental love through the eyes of your parents.  Your innocence will brighten my vision, helping me see God as your pure love allows you to  experience Him with no biases in our common, everyday world. The excitement and love you are bringing to your Pops, Grandfather, Abuelo, great grandmas, uncles, aunts, aunties and cousins is a blessing to your family!  This task, coupled with the ginormous world, may seem daunting, but I know you can do it! You have Jesus in your heart, your guardian angel named Grandma Tess, mommy, daddy, Lolli-Pops and the rest of your huge, caring and protective family to hold your hand and guide you!

Welcome to the world little one.

I am excited to begin this Lolli-Pops journey with you!

I love you Tessa-Ann! FA&E,

Lolli

A Beautiful Day!

I walked into memory care after being away for 3 days. Not knowing what I would find, I braced myself as the security doors opened. Looking straight ahead into the dining room, I saw no one, yet I heard a voice. It was mom! I turned to the right. Sitting on the little blue love seat were mom and a nurse. They were engaged in a conversation. The nurse looked up. Turning to mom, she said, ‘LeAnn your daughter is here.” Mom raised her head towards me and said, ‘Oh Lisa, you are back!” The nurse told me had had a good day even though she had eaten very little of her lunch. I told her today was the day she would get her hair cut. Mom was very excited! We looked at pictures showing different hair styles. Her favorite was a picture of long hair being modeled by Jaclyn Smith 10 years ago😁). I explained to mom that her hair was too short, but she could grow it out. I then showed her two pictures of styles similar to hers. She found the the one she liked, minus the grey hair on the model! I assured her she would only get a cut without the addition of grey hair.

Mom told Dewayne how pretty his chair was.❤️

Watching the excitement fill mom as she got in the chair to have her hair washed was priceless. After the washing, the chair was swiveled so she could watch the haircut form the mirror. Mom was a perfect client! She sat still, carried on a conversation and exclaimed what a wonderful job Dewayne was doing cutting her hair.

Her facial expression does not capture how excited she was to have her hair washed. Dewayne got extra points because the water was just right!
She wanted her dog, Joseph, to tag along
Hair spray was the final touch making her style complete.

She squealed when the session was done and she could look in all of the mirrors. It had been years since she had a professional hair style. She asked if we could go out. I told her when I returned from my doctor’s appointment, we would get the boys and go to dinner. I asked what she wanted. Her response was pizza!

Conversation with the children.
Talking
Mom wanted a thick pizza with meat.
Getting every biter!
She ate it all!

It was a beautiful day in mom’s world. I am thankful I got to be a part of it!

I love when her day ends on a happy note!

Thirsty (12/30/19)

As I walked in, mom was finishing a game of Bingo. I don’t know how well she played. The cards and chips were being cleared as I sat down. I said,”Hi mom.” Without looking at me she greeted me with “You F****** Bitch!” I put my face in her line of vision (which was looking down and told her that I was not a FB, that I was her daughter and saying mean things was not nice! She focused in, made eye contact and said, “Hi Lisa!” I began thinking things were going to be ok until she put a blue poker chip (used for Bingo) in her mouth and clamped her lips tightly together! I asked her to spit it out. Like a defiant child, she shook her head NO! I was beginning to fear that it would be swallowed. Trying to get her to stop shaking her head, I asked if she were hungry. She held her head still and opened her mouth to tell me she was thirsty. I tried to get the chip from her, but in fear of loosing my finger by her powerful bite, I left her and ran to get water. I showed mom the cup while telling her I would not give it to her until she handed me the chip. She willingly complied and then guzzled the water. I got her a refill. She emptied the second cup, but not with the same desperation as the first! Why was mom allowed to get so thirsty?????

Mom was so thirsty, she tried to ‘drink’ a blue poker chip!

After drinking, mom was more coherent. She wanted to eat a snack. I took her in the dining hall where ice-cream was being served. As she ate, the PT came over to tell me how well mom did with her stretching exercises. I was thrilled! Our short walk into the dining room was easier. Her gait was not so crippled. Mom’s muscles had begun tightening in her hip and foot making walking painful and unsteady. Mom still has an awkward shuffle, but today it was not so rigid. I am optimistic that PT will make her not such a fall risk.

Mom ate every last bite of her vanilla ice cream with sprinkles and a cherry!

The funny ending today was mom’s attire. I loved her outfit, especially since she was color coordinated. The problem was, it did not belong to her! I am not sure whose closet mom had been ‘shopping’ in, but they have nice clothes! (Mom has nice outfits too, the problem is mom discards her clothing throughout the facility…)

Mom opted for a coordinating outfit, verses shoes! I will take bare feet over a bare body any day of the week!

Christmas Eve 2019

Twas the afternoon before Christmas and all through memory care

The residents all had a smile to share.

Mom opened her gifts and ate some of her food

before declaring, ‘It was time to move’! (She was tired and wanted to go lay down)

Her crippled gait made walking a chore,

After 10 minutes we finally arrived at her door!

She stumbled and fell on top of her bed

My tears were happy, mom did not hit her head!

Her shuffle onto the pillow

was painfully slow!

She finally made it, took my hand and asked me not to go!

Within seconds she was nestled and snug in her bed

Making me wonder the visions ‘dementia’ puts in her head?

Christmas Eve and church are drawing near

My watch is warning me to get out of here.

It makes me cry, yet, I know it is for the best.

Today mom is confused, she needs her rest!

I’m not in charge of mom’s life plan

That is 100% in God’s hands!

My Faith, Hope and Love reside in Him!

That gives me peace to let the Christmas festivities begin!

Triggers and Dementia


Dementia is a cruel disease!
KJ and I went to visit mom at her facility, only to be greeted at the door with a ‘bad’ report! The field trip bus returned early after mom tried to escape from the bus (she kept telling M,the bus driver, she wanted outside). When mom was told ‘no’ she began hitting and kicking! Mom was put into a seatbelt which she was able to pull her legs through and escape! The bus had to stop on the road to restrain mom and buckle her again. Mom was given her milkshake because M knew she was hungry since she did not eat much lunch. (Hunger is a trigger for mom!) Mom proceeded to throw her milkshake causing an ice cream explosion!!! Mom had just returned to AG and was sitting on the couch when KJ and I arrived. She was sitting in a deep trance. It took about 2 minutes for her to ‘snap’ out of it and make eye contact with me. She immediately began crying telling me she was sorry and she doesn’t want to be sick (It is horrific to be trapped in your mind while having moments of lucidity understanding you are trapped)! We walked down the hallway and sat. She proceeded to tell me (her language has greatly diminished yet there is clarity in her broken words and sentences) that she was hitting people on the bus because she wanted off (Mom loves the outdoors. She also is a wanderer, especially when agitated). She knew she had thrown her milkshake. She kept apologizing. 
M came to talk to me. She was kind. She felt there were triggers:
-mom needed bathroom
-when told NO mom felt confined and threatened 
-mom was hungry
-mom kept saying something was burning her???(maybe sun streaming through window)
After talking to M and mom, I asked mom if she were hungry. She said YES. I told her I would take her to the restaurant but she had to let me change her clothes. She cooperated!!! Soon she was at the restaurant and very happy! She loved walking outside and starring at the water. She recognized the grandkids and she ate and ate!!! (Her favorite last night were the Bobby fries and salad😂🤣). I drove her back to AG. She quietly got into her pajamas and let me put her to bed. It was a peaceful ending to a challenging day! John 14:27 (Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.) I continue to battle fear as I watch my mom live with this disease. I get scared every time I forget something, am I doomed to the same fate? The fear can be terrifying! I choose not to allow the ‘What ifs’ to paralyze me. Instead, I hold on to Faith, Hope and Love! (1 Corinthians 13:13) His Love will never abandon mom while the same Love will give me the strength to move forward when all I want to do is hide!

Mom engaged in conversation with the grandkids.
usually, she wants to hug and help everyone!
Mom likes to fold things. A napkin will always keep her busy if she becomes restless.
Trying to decide what mom wanted for dinner. Please do NOT comment on the wine. It was mine! Mom likes her fancy drinks though. Tonight she had a Shirley Temple with a cherry and orange slice. She was very excited!
Mom loves to hold a hand while walking.
Mom’s favorite were the Bobby Fries. She ate mostly standing up. I think she wanted to make sure no one ate too many!😁

Field Trip To A Quilting Exhibition! Mom Dementia

When mom joined Ashley Gardens, the staff was excited to hear that she was a renowned quilter. There were several other residents that used to sew and quilt and the staff had planned a field trip to a quilting show. I was excited to be asked to accompany them as a chaperone!

Several months later, the day of the show arrived. I was way more excited than mom. When I got to AG, she was agitated as she ate her bacon, eggs, grits and cinnamon roll. I asked what was wrong? She looked at her plate and said that everything was awful! I chuckled while agreeing. Poor mom! After eating Richard’s homemade grits and cinnamon rolls, her breakfast was very bland! When she ate all that she could (cinnamon roll and bacon) I got her to walk to her room so I could shower her and dress her in something cute. I got her to her room. That was the only part of my plan that I succeeded in. She refused to shower (I really wanted to wash her hair). I was able to convince her to put pants on, but not the ones I wanted her to wear. Oh well, just like when my kids were little, there are some battles not worth fighting. This was a special day and I did not want mom upset!

We got the residents loaded on the bus and started driving. Mariah was our driver and made the drive entertaining with her fun conversations with the ladies. I laughed when one of them acted like the typical ‘back-seat’ driver! Have mercy! I have to admit, I am glad I do not have to worry about running into her on the roads! Upon arriving at the coliseum, Janet and I unloaded the bus, took ladies inside and waited for Mariah, who was parking the bus. Inside, mom became distracted and very quiet. She moved around a lot, but would not focus. Mariah would ask her something about a pattern or color. Mom had very few responses, but the ones she had were profound! The three I recall were when she looked at one quilt and clearly said, ‘That took a lot of work!’ Another quilt, she commented on how the colors worked well together. One area, she chose her favorite quilt because she liked the design! I loved that she was making connections. The connections were real, which I soon realized were too real! About an hour into the exhibit, mom began crying. The somber mood lasted the rest of the trip. We rejoined the group and mom was given some anxiety medicine to calm her down. Mariah comforted me explaining that mom’s behavior was normal and expected when experiencing something that was once such a major part of her life The quilting show triggered memories. This was an art she excelled in, whether it was in her quilting masterpieces or the exhibits she would help coordinate. The realization of these memories became overwhelming. The memories of her accomplishments were also her living nightmare of what she can longer do!

It was time to leave. The ladies were hungry and getting tired. We did Chick Filet ‘to go’ so we could go picnic at a park close to AG. Everyone got to sit in the shade at picnic tables. It was pleasant. At this point, mom hardly spoke. I did not force a conversation. I gave her a hug, then left her to her thoughts as I walked around to taking pictures. I needed a few minutes to let my emotions run through my head. I had a tiny pity party as I realized mom’s quilting talent (which she inherited from her mom) was ending with her. Even if Michelle and I had the time to learn to quilt, the experience would never be taught through our mom! Seeing the quilts made me appreciate the talent and time mom shared making quilts for her two daughters and her 9 grandchildren! I now comprehend the love mom poured into the quilts as her way of wrapping us in her love even with the Atlantic Ocean separating us!

Faith, Hope and Love, but the greatest is Love! (1 Corinthians 13:13) I encountered the power of this verse again today doing nothing more than looking through the layer of dementia and seeing/experiencing the beauty of these people with my heart!

Mysteries of Dementia

Amazing!! At 7:48 PM, my phone rang. It showed the call was coming from Ashley Gardens. My heart stopped. What had mom done now? I answered the call. It was not one of the voices who usually calls me. It was the voice of Bernadette, one of the kind souls who works there. She said that she had never heard mom ask for me, but tonight, mom asked if she could call ‘Lisa’. I began to tremble. What would mom’s reaction be? She struggles talking to Ali unless she can see him on FT.

Mom was given the phone. The conversation that ensued left me speechless. Her voice and words were that of my mom I knew years ago.. If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that my mom was healthy!Her conversation was erratic, yet she used words and formed sentences without hesitation. I knew she was having a moment of clarity when her voice began to crack. She was scared. She said she did not want to be like this. She asked for honesty. I told her I knew she was scared. and how proud I was for her handling this situation. She said ‘Thank you’! I told her her brother and sister would be here next week along with Ali. She asked me to please not say that! My interpretation was that she was afraid that would not happen. She was afraid of her hopes being dashed. The unfortunate nature of this disease is by the time I write this journal entry, mom will have no recollection of the phone call or conversation. My prayer is that she will carry some of the warmth from our talk in her heart, even if she is unable to understand its meaning. Sometimes, the feeling of love in one’s heart is all that is needed to continue a difficult walk.