Tag Archives: end of life caregiver

Keeper of the Flame

This poem I wrote for my friend.  A friend who shared with me a most beautiful love letter.  A friend who has lost so much.  A friend I love.

I think of my mother so much this time of year, and this is so true for her too and I thought of her too, very much, when I wrote it.  Happy Mother’s Day mom.  I sure love you!

Keeper of the Flame

I’m the keeper of the flame, your flame, you left it here in me

So in your great big steps before, like you, I’ll try to be

You’ve been gone so long it feels, and yet moments only it seems

But you visit me, you whisper to me, and I feel you in my dreams


It’s hard to make the world remember, and I worry they will forget

and how am I to share your stories with those, you never met?

I try so hard and sometimes fail the flame it flickers black

Then I stoke it with your love, and mine, and the flame comes quickly back


Often in my quiet moments the flame it burns so strong

So I hide, and hover, tears on my cheeks, knowing I must be strong

For to your ash I cannot turn, for others still need me

And all this need I have for you, is that not what God did see?


But I tuck your flame in close to my heart and weather the angry storm

For it’s there I need your warmth the most, It’s there the flame was born

You passed to me a love so great and gave the best pieces of you

I’m thankful for those, and the flame I bear, but I miss you and it’s heavy too


Now I’m left reflecting on this very flame and the legacy left behind

The obligation you left for me, although it sometimes feels unkind

I know I’m left to share your tales and help our family to see

The fire that you left behind will always burn in me


I hope your heart swells with joy, my gift to you each day

That I share with others when I can, the kindness you gave away

I hope you feel proud of who I’ve become since you left your fire with me

You walked here first, I follow now, like you I hope to be


I’m the keeper of the flame, your flame, I’ll keep it burning bright

For you, for them, and too often now because I need your light

My love for you will never go out and all will know your name

Because for you, I now know my place, I’m the keeper of the flame



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Dreaming of Beauty…

I look up to the woman before me. With wide eyes I see such beauty.  Her textured hands full of beauty and grace, the small black watch fitted over elegant lifted wrist bones. She smiles at me and it reaches her eyes.  The wrinkles in perfect form on either side of her mouth.  She laughs and it fills my soul. I know behind that laugh is beauty.  It is strength.  It is long searched for and missed in its absence.  It’s her eyes though.  The beauty and strength that show in each and every burst of bright wide blue light.  The presence of love in every tiny pixel.

It’s her hair.  Fixed or unkempt but her color makes me feel joy.  Even when the roots grow a little long, I don’t see them, I just see her and just how she wishes her hair looked every single day.  She has the perfect figure.  It’s soft at times but her hugs are magic.  Healing…happy..wonder. She is class.  She’s beautiful.  Like a magic star in a unicorn sky.  She…the most beautiful woman in the world.  One day…I hope..I pray…I wish…I believe…I can be just like her.

How I feel about my Momma.

How my daughter feels about me.

Genetics are strong…so is love….

Why doesn’t our vision stay the same, unmasked, untainted when focused inward?

Hoping to see what my daughter sees…for me…for my mom…for my daughter…to show her that today and always she is beautiful. A magic star in a unicorn sky.



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With Thanks

With Thanksgiving on the horizon I have been making a conscious effort to feel and think all of the many things that I am thankful for.  There are so many things to be thankful for.

I recently heard for the first time a song by Jewel that says:

I am my father’s daughter, he has his mother’s eyes
I am the product of such sacrifice
I am the accumulation
of the dreams of generations
And their stories run in me, like Holy Water
I am my father’s daughter

View Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GK8oI4Dx8DY

I have had a very hard year.  A year where I found one man standing.  One man, only one human being on this planet that can look me in the eye and say, “I’m glad you are mine.”  I had so many before.  So many that I felt their force so strongly in my life.  A life energy that kept me pressing on to do and be a better person.  It feels quite lonely knowing that now, there is only one.  (even though he is a mighty man and I am so blessed)

And in the loss I have searched for and have found joy.  Sometimes in the places that I least expected it, and sometimes I found it missing in those I would have thought I would surely find it.  I’m learning everyday.  Learning how much it matters to make an active positive impact on others.

Today I am overwhelmingly thankful for those who have done that for me.  The people in my life that make me feel home and connected.  I now have my very own tree with very strong roots. I am thankful for those roots, still present, still strong.  Some living their lives so wonderfully that they bring life and energy to them all.  I am thankful for the roots at the base of our family tree.  Both from my side and my better other half.

I have a very good man to help build the tree and hold it steadfast and strong.  We are solid and strong, connected in support, love and trust. My heart is overwhelmed with thanks.

And my sidekicks, those branches, I’m watching them grow. So amazing. Such joy! I am so thankful.

Sometimes, In the strongest of winds, we will bend ever so slightly in need and find ourselves, our tree, being supported and secured by the family trees around us, that branch from our same roots. Together our trees are strong, together we are a forest.  I am thankful for them too.

I am thankful for the sun, and the water.  That feeds and nourishes our forest and our souls. I am thankful for God and his blessings.

With all of this to be thankful for and so much more, I take moments to listen to the air around me, the whispers in the wind, the stories in my veins and I can’t help but feel, if only I could hear the right wavelengths, there would be voices all around me saying, “I’m so glad your mine, go and do good things, bring joy to others, and share my stories(love),” and maybe, just maybe, the feather touch of my momma’s hand on my cheek as leaves from my tree.

I’m thankful for my family every day, and in special gratitude, an active awareness and action on Thanksgiving Day I am thankful for my Forest!


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Grandma’s Hands

My grandma asked me to write this poem for her.   I am sure going to miss her!

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Grandma’s Hands


They were hands of aged beauty, tucked neatly in her lap

Upon the place the tiny ones, had rocked and slept and sat

The stories told were hidden deep within each tiny crease

But if you closed your eyes and listened each held a special piece

The day those hands graced the world, a momma’s heart so proud

They filled the tiny mouth to sleep and pushed away the sound

They grew and changed, these helpful hands, learning as they’d go

To bake and clean and sew and feed new things they didn’t know

These hands full size could work as hard as any man she knew

For a woman’s hands must be tough for all that they go through

A daily job is never done to keep the house a home

From dawn ‘til dusk they move along, a rest they’ve never known

But more than that these hands they hold the stories that are life

My favorite is the golden band when she became a wife

These hands of love had won the heart and ever held it near

They love and cherish and help hold up the one that is so dear

These hands could make the man she loved feel safe and always home

Because where the hands reside is the woman, he’s never alone

The love they share are in each line new memories that they make

Knowing that with each new line their world will grow and shape

Then babies come and in these hands they’re rocked and loved and kissed

Each tear that fell these hands would catch, never to be missed

They’d wrap the tiny babes and even when they’re grown

To love and hold, and fix it all, the way only they have known

One tiny little crease to each baby has it’s own

They grow and change and twist and turn the story lines are shown

These hands are more than hands you see, they are a life-longs tale

Grandma’s hands give new life, sustain and keep all well

The beauty is in the stories the hearts they helped to mend

Each time they touched they shared their love, to heal, to help, to tend

Grandma’s hands are magic, full of love and grace

They teach life’s lessons, heal the heart, and wipe tears from the face

The more the lines they carry, the more wisdom they contain

Because to give love to another, there’s no way to stay the same

Grandma’s hands are life, are comfort and are love

Grandma’s hands are a blessing sent from God above

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Adventurer in Pearls

Today while driving Sidekick 1 asked me this question, “Why is God taking all of our people right now?”  I didn’t know how to answer her.  It made me feel very sad.  I don’t like posting all things gloom and doom but it has been a very rough month at our house.  We are currently in the process of sending one more very lovely lady to Heaven.  It’s hard not to ask why God is taking all of our people right now.  It’s hard not wonder if there is something that I have done wrong.  It is hard not to question my own strength.  It is even more difficult to watch the ones still here with me grieving and struggling.  The hardest part..is watching others suffer and not being able to help them.

I am personally thankful for all of the time I have been able to spend.  All of the lessons I have been able to learn.  Thankful for the memories, the stories and the time.  The greatest of generations is moving on.  What lessons can we take with us? What can we learn from them to make a better tomorrow?

I just keep thinking of my time spent, and I am so thankful that I spent time with loved ones, eyes open, heart open, and embracing the moments.


This grandma of mine has come to me through marriage.  She is the one and only that I got to meet in my time as a Boxall.  She has brought so much into my life and I feel blessed to call her mine.  She is a woman of grace.  A woman of class.  She is the woman who when I was young I would have looked up to in awe. I still look up to her in awe and hope that some day I can have just a smidgen of her in me.


She was always presentable. She woke each morning and dressed in fashionable clothes.  She kept up with times and ensured she dressed it.  She always had jewelry on and most often a scarf.  Nice shoes and perfectly curled hair. If you really paid attention you could smell her fragrance, always clean, always floral.  Her nails and hair were done weekly and it showed.  She was beautiful, stunning, a woman through and through. Even my sidekick could see it.


She had presence and beauty.  She stood and walked tall.  When she entered a room you saw her.  Beauty and grace.


I loved sitting with her.  She loved having the kids come to her place.  She always complained that it was too small, and she wanted more room. What she would do with more room, I have no idea, but she always wanted it.  I think it was because she was accustomed to things and liked them that way.


She loved having the kids come and play.  She loved to hear their chatter.  She always thought they were the smartest and “so advanced” for their age.  She loved watching them dance and play.  I love how proud she was of my children.  My children were proud of her too.  They love her.  They loved to visit and spend time in her tiny place.  They loved drawing her pictures on post-it’s.  You would think grandma thought they belonged in a museum the praise she gave them.  I am surprised they didn’t end up on her wall.  She had a talent for displaying items as art.


An example…In her room there was displayed a cow bell.  I loved having her tell this story because she would laugh the whole way through. On the night of her wedding their friends took them out for night.  They lived in Yuma, AZ so they were close to the border in Mexico.  They spent much of the night across the border.  She said she danced and had fun but her husband was anxious to get home.  She too, but in her story it was always her husband who was begging to go.  They were kept out the entire night by friends.  She said when they got back home to bed the next morning they laid in bed and found themselves itching.  Their friends had put some powder in the bed that made them itch, so they decided to turn the mattress over.  Upon turning over the mattress they found a cowbell had been securely fastened to the springs in their bed.  She goes on to tell how difficult it was for her husband to get the cowbell off of the bed because it was wired on tight.  She laughs and laughs.  Hanging in her room still to the day is the cowbell and the memory of the wedding night to the love of her life.  I love that sass, that charm.


As fancy as she was she always knew how to enjoy a party.  She loved her Chardonnay.  She also loved beautiful old music. She was funny.  She would make jokes and razz people.  She always made me laugh.  One night when we went to visit and sat to have a talk, she tapped the top of her knees and said, “It’s a girl party, now what should we ladies talk about.”


She had a beautiful home surrounded in my favorite things…real leather bound books.  They were so beautiful and she was so proud of them.  This is just one way we were kindred spirits.  I spent a lot of time with her one week when I went up to check in on her when her daughter was on vacation and we talked about those books in length.  She showed me her favorite and even offered for me to borrow them.  That was a sure sign of trust.  I didn’t, as I knew the love she had for them, but the honor I felt that she would have let me take one of her precious books was something I will never forget.  She told me so many stories that week. I wish I would have written them all down but I was too busy laughing.


She was a top realtor in the state of Idaho.  She worked hard and was really good at her job.  She loved it and wasn’t ready to retire. Her business sense, her understanding of people, and her work ethic made her successful.  She truly listens and watches.  I can’t remember a time that she ever interrupted me when I was speaking. This is a talent and something totally genuine about her.  I would guess that her skills in this area led to her success.  That and her honesty.


She adventured in life.  She is the adventurer in pearls.  She traveled with her husband, she spent time with her family. My husband spent a lot of time with her in his youth and I am thankful for her influence on him.


She is quite the competitor though too.  I saw this in her stories, in the way she lived her life, and in the way she related to others.  She always wanted to “give” the best.  She didn’t realize that she already did.  She gave me my mother-in-law.  She gave me my husband.  Through them my children, one of which is named after her.  Really maybe they both are.  The way she lived her life and her last name.

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I am so thankful for her example.  She showed me that I can be bold and beautiful.  Smart and humble.  Kind to others but care for oneself.  I want to be just like her when I am older.  Lucky for me I have my Mother-In-Law.  A lady rich in class and kindness.  One that I am so blessed to have and lucky to learn from.


So to all you classy ol’ broads.  I know the best!  Take a lesson.

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Heaven’s Farmer

Today is my Grandfathers funeral. He was such a wonderful man and I will miss him greatly.  To learn a little more about him, see this post here:  For today, here is a poem that I wrote for him.  He will be so missed.

Heaven’s Farmer


I figured it out just last night, while lying in my bed

With thoughts of you, and memories too, running through my head

Heaven’s to be a beautiful place, more pretty than the rest

And God needed a farmer to tend his fields and picked the very best

I can see him now upon his throne searching the heart of each soul

I must keep looking, for my farmer’s hand, when I see him I will know


He needed a man who loved the land, just as much as he

A man with respect and a special heart that all beauty he could see

He needed a man who’d always work hard and show up every day

Who loved the work and the earth, the produce would be his pay

This man would have a heart of gold and always give his last

To another in need, with outstretched hand, he’d have never passed


The man he needed to sow his fields would be the best of the best

That one, I think, he looks just right, his works better than the rest

See this one has a memory and makes it easier for me

He saw it all and loved it all, blessed was his life story

And look at that family, he is so proud, it is his greatest feat

Oh this man, he’s a wonderful one, this farmer can’t be beat


And even more he sees that wife who’s always by his side

Yes, she’s the one who helped this farmer on his lifelong ride

A keeper she is and he worked hard, to show her she’s the one

The one he loves with all his heart, that love it isn’t done

But this farmers hand is needed now to ready all the land

For Heaven’s pastures need this man and his gentle hand


This man is great and makes me proud he always shows his love

That’s a blessing, seldom found, it came from up above

He used it well, throughout his life and for that I am proud

This man he lived a quiet life but his outcome it was loud

I think he’s the one to tend my fields and care for my pasture cows

I know it’ll be hard, and his hole will be great but I need this farmer now


I’ll miss this man and his gentle heart, his advice, and laughter too

I’ll miss his joy in all his stories, as if his eyes I could see through

I’ll miss his love and constant presence of good that’s on this earth

I’ll miss this farmer, and his words, that always showed my worth

I’ll miss his gentle spirit and the joy that showed each time

My babies jumped upon his lap and he’d say, “I’m glad your mine.”


I’ll miss the simple moments just sitting in a chair

And although asleep his presence strong, us breathing the same air

I’ll miss his strong example of love for that lady, his wife

I’ll miss his joy, his wonder, at everything that’s life

God needed a man who was rugged tough, but also had hands of love

He needed a man to prepare the fields for when we return above


I’ll remember that as I miss him and wish that he was near

I know he’s in a better place, with no pain and none to fear

But still I feel, here left behind, that life just isn’t fair

For my grandma and her quiet house, she’s now a half of a pair

So for her I’ll be strong and carry on, a smile on my face

Until the day we meet again, another time, another place


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Life’s Greatest Lessons

I feel an enormous amount of weight on my shoulders.  Everyday in my own life, an era is coming to an end.  I feel a great responsibility to step up to the plate. To love more. To be better.  I have had some of the very best teachers.  I know I should be grateful for the time that I have had, but I am not sure this apprentice is ready for the responsibility. I have so many questions.  So many stories I have missed.  So many moments that I want back.  I wish I would have held those moments more closely. I wish I would have spent more time.

He is the last man in my life from the greatest generation.  He is my grandpa.  He is my friend.


He was my very first boss.  He paid me $2 per gopher that I could trap in the field.  I would keep track of how many I got per day and at the end of the week he would look at my notebook and pay me.  The other day my own daughter was down trapping gophers on those same fields when I offered her the same price of $2 a gofer. I realized then that if that is the going rate today, I was making pretty good money back then and I think my boss may have been over paying me.


I spent a lot of time outside and at the field with my grandpa.  I could most often be found out playing basketball at my house, nearly every day.  My grandpa would drive by and I would follow him down to the field to shadow this great man.  He worked so hard.  I rarely today see a man tending to his cows the way my grandpa did.  He was there at least three times a day.  In the summer that means I got to see him three times a day. If by chance I didn’t make it to the field in time, he would always stop on the road, roll down his window “and how are you today” he would ask while reaching a Rolo out the window to me.  He was always happy.  Always happy to see me.


I also got to help my grandpa take the cows out on the mountain and bring them back in each year.  We always fought to sit either next to grandpa, or my dad.  Grandpa first, then my dad.  He knew so much about the area.  He could tell stories about every piece of land and being right next to him, you could hear the most.  He was an incredible man.  I think he loved his cows.  Not just because they provided for the family, but I really feel he had a deep respect for the animal.  I remember watching him as we would prepare to gather the cows and bring them home.  He would stand beside his truck looking at the cows off in the distance.  My dad would often look through the binoculars, but my grandpa just seemed to have a sense.  He could tell if one of the cows on the ridge was his without even being able to see the tag.  He was always right too. Always.


Grandma would make sure to feed us all well, but grandpa made specific requests.  In addition to grandmas sandwiches we always had coke, can’s of Beanie Weenies, Vienna Sausages, and some candy.  We all got a hefty dose of the sweet tooth from our grandpa.

On the way home, heavy with Benadryl I would often fall asleep on his lap or shoulder as we bounced down the old dirt road. But not without the memories of his old truck, the calendar stuck to the dashboard, a coke tucked between his legs and some treats rolling around somewhere in the truck or clenched tight in my palm.

IMG_0796Grandpa hasn’t forgotten a thing.  Still today he can tell you every place he has ever lived, most of the roads he has been on, the people he met there, and the reason he was there.  I love sitting at the table and listening to his stories of when he worked in the mines, or the old gas station.  I love hearing him tell the story about how he met my grandma.  She was his best friend since the 2nd grade.  He always knew he loved her.  “She’s my best friend.” He still says.  He will care for her no matter what.  This last post was a perfect example of that. No matter what, he will take care of Grandma.  He will give it his all, for her, until his last breath.


He loves my grandma so.  He respects her and supports her.  She does the same for him. I asked him once what grandma thought of the tractor and he said that she didn’t care to be on the tractor very much but she liked to watch.  He would see her over by the fence watching him work. “She’s my best friend.”  There is was again.


He taught me how to clean a fish.  I watched him cut and prepare the meat from the game that he or the kids got on the hunt.  I watched him for years as he worked at the sawmill and got to spend plenty of time with him playing in the sawdust.  He taught me that there is an appropriate use for words like, “shit, damn and hell” and that he would always be the one that gets up to kiss his bride. Look at my Dad (and the rest of his kids).  You will see the legacy that he has made.  To raise a man like that…you must be an incredible man and example. “Not a bad one in the bunch,” Grandpa would say. He and grandma both have a part in that.

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Grandpa never ages at heart.  He still is a joker and loves to play.  I love the way his whole face lights up when something is said.  Just the other day I got to see this as his sister Janett was teasing him about how he used to tease her and pinch her nose.  He laughed and clearly lied when he said, “now I don’t remember that.”


He plays with the kids still.  They walk in the door and he will ask them to “come sit right here” and pull them onto his lap.  He plays hide and seek still tries to bounce the kids like a horse on his foot.  I long when I see him to hear the words, “I love you,” and “that’s just right”, and especially, “you bet”. I know he loved me.  He told me and he showed me every time I was in the room with him. I sure hope he knows just how much I love him too.

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I love sharing treats with my grandpa, and talking with him. I love seeing the world through his eyes.  Everything is wonderful to him.  He doesn’t always show this in his actions, but if you listen to the stories he tells, really listen, you will see how much he learned and took in from every situation.  He loved experiencing the world.  He loved being apart of people’s lives.


He loved driving bus and getting to know all of the kids.  He was one of the biggest supporters of the high school sports and was especially active when one of his grand-kids was playing.  He came to most of my games and even when I was coaching he and my Grandma drove over 6 hours to watch me coach just one game.  If it was important to me, it was important to him.


He never expected people to do anything for him or his family.  He worked hard for everything that he has and worked hard to provide for my grandma and for his kids.  Still today it is his greatest concern that they not be a burden to anyone.  If only he knew just how much the world owes him, how much I owe him.  He is a great man.  I wonderful grandpa.  A wonderful friend.


I am so very thankful for the wonderful lessons that my grandpa has taught me. After all, he was my very first boss. He taught me about the world and how to work hard.  He showed me by example exactly what that looks like.  He taught me to always put family first and just how easy it is to say “I love you.”  IMG_3577

Tonight I am going to have a bowl of ice cream…with caramel…maybe some popcorn and some m&m’s…an Oreo or two…and a Rolo. Follow that up with a coke and realize that in life what really matters is sharing treats, stories, and time.




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Old Love

He sat upright in his chair.  Cancer causing pain to pulse through his bones.   If he just held still, he could keep it at bay.  She came to him, aged beauty, and fluffed his pillow.  He patted her hand.  Years of care-taking, years of love.  When he looked at her he saw babies, family, and meals in the kitchen and from a cooler on the mountain.  When he looked at her he felt whole, seeing more now with his heart than his eyes.  She was unwell today.  She was his wife.


His body said there was nothing he could do, but his soul reached for her.  The love in his heart was stronger than the pain crushing him now.  He should call for help but instead he held her hand and walked her to car.  He drove blind to the Doctor.  He was her man. She his responsibility.  This old farmer had one more ride.  One more time to care for his bride.  The cancer made him angry, made him mean, but his heart still pulsed for her and when she needed him most he answered the call.


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The Caregiver

Someone very close to me is going through a very difficult time.  I am seeing things through a whole new perspective-through her.  As a mother, I am given such high regards for the position that I hold. Making a choice to be a “stay at home” mom or to be a full time working mom is most often supported, either way, in public settings.  As a mother, it is understood, when we need to take a sick day, either from work or from friends, to care for a little one who’s feeling under the weather.  It is also understood, when we need to take a break to accept a phone call from school or from the child themselves.  When we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders as we worry about what preschool our child should attend, or how we are going to make it home in time to make a healthy dinner, we are supported, understood, and often praised.  Even taking a moment in the middle of the day to break down in tears from the stress of it all-we are not judged.  For this I am happy.  However, there is another point in our lives, where this same support should still exist, but because of the times of transition, it just isn’t so.

This, is the end of life caregiver.  I am watching as this woman that I love, I will call her Dee, has learned that her mother’s time will be coming to an end on this earth (she is elderly, but I see the correlation with those who are terminally ill as well).  I have stepped up, to the best of my ability, to provide support and love, but I am finding that I am seeing such inadequacies prior to this time.  Dee often calls me, to check on how I am doing, how my children are, and is a sounding board when I am making decisions about their day to day care.  I did not, however, provide the same support to her.  Dee has been the primary care giver for her ailing mother for the past 10 years.  Every morning, her first task was to check on her mother’s well-being.  Not so different from daycare, Dee has been tasked to find and provide the best living environment, with the highest quality staff to watch and care for her.  Just as I, miss opportunities to go out with my friends for a late night dinner because my child is under the weather, she misses traveling to a talent show out of town, because her mother is ill. She is responsible for ensuring that there is food and nourishment, that she is clean, has the opportunity to shop and get her hair fixed and that her place of living is clean and safe.  See the similarity?

She doesn’t, however, get the support and cheers from the world about how amazing she is and she certainly does not get the support and understanding for the weight of the world that also resides on her shoulders.   She doesn’t get the support and understanding that she not only works full time, but is a full time caregiver and needs the same support.  She does not always get the calls of encouragement, or the checking in and sounding board, that I am now seeing she would need. After all, I need it in my caregiver status.  I am stepping in now.  I realize it now. I see it. So my only choice is to do what I can do now.

I am also looking at her situation, Dee as she loses her mommy, and I can’t help but think of my own.  Dee has been given a timeline.  An opportunity for her to say everything she wanted to say, an opportunity to say goodbye. I did not get this.  I have the guilt of things unsaid.  Does that mean that it’s better to know?  I am not so sure.  Dee is starting the grieving process all her own.  Yes her mother is still here, but she has her moments feeling this grief and reacts just the same as I did, when I lost my mom.  Maybe only weeks or months, but still, that is extra time of sadness that certainly affects her life.  It is even more challenging, as her mother is elderly and in these last moments, is not of sane mind.  So everything that she is saying to her mother, the most important things, her mother may not be getting.  These words are only for her.   I do hope they provide her comfort.  I am sure that somewhere her mother is hearing it, just as I am sure my mother does on the other side.

I am sending my support to those end of life caregivers in the world, especially my Dee.  What strength you have, what energy.  I am amazed by you and I hope to do better for those in the future who may need me.  I will call more, lend more support, and cheer them on as they walk the difficult journey.  Cheers..

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