Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I have thought a great deal about whether to keep the Feedin' Mama blog going, some folks have asked me about it. And while I never will say never, I think it is time to lay this aside at least for the moment. I miss Mama very, very much and I will forever be happy that I got to spend so much time with her and for the things I got to share here about taking care of her. I have not one regret about anything else I may or may not have been able to do and I believe that I did honor her in the fact that she was able to stay in her own home until the very end. I see so many, many older folks who aren't able to for many different reasons, most of them very valid, but there is always a tinge of sadness in their spirits and I am grateful that I was able to help Mama avoid that.

I am grateful for my family, my church family and friends and those of you here whose support made it possible. Thank you for encouraging me and listening to me.

I may come back here and post again, I still work mainly with older folks so I know I'll have more to share at some point. But for now I need a new perspective. I need a place to laugh and be joyful in this world where joy and laughter are often hard to find. So if you're looking for me, you can find me here for the time being.

Grace and peace to you all,

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rest in peace, Mama

Mama passed away at 12:30 this morning. God speed Mama, we love you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty was right, the waiting really is the hardest part. It has been ten days now since Mama decided she didn't want any more food or curative measures or medicines. She has asked for something to eat twice since then and only had a bite each time and is only on morphine and a lidocaine patch on her back for pain. A few spoonfuls of ice chips or sips of water a day. Pastor Thom says she has a really strong constitution and Dr. G says you don't get to be 91 1/2 by being a wimp. All the siblings are here and we have been by her side 24/7 in shifts. So Mama is ready and we are ready but apparently God, who directs the schedule, is not ready. So we wait and watch and rub lotion on her skin and stroke her hair, play soft music and love her to the best of our ability. And we recognize that the process of dying is another of life's mysteries that we won't have all the answers to until we have crossed over ourselves. Perhaps it is one more way that God lets us know that He is God and we are not.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

She's over it

Mama is just done. She is weak and weary and the past twelve days have been quite an ordeal for her even though we have managed to fend off the most egregious procedures that the different specialists have wanted to do. This morning she told me she was done, she doesn't want any more food or medicine or treatments. She just wants to go. So we have called hospice in and with their help we can concentrate on making her as comfortable as possible so that the transition will be as peaceful and easy as possible for her. It stinks for us, we will miss her so, so terribly but she is ready and we have to respect that and celebrate her 91+ years and the fact that she will soon be free of her tired and worn out body.

I am learning though, that no matter how much pastoral caregiving, bereavement and/or social work experience you might have it's a whole new and different reality when it's your own Mama who is dying. And it really and truly sucks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Complicated

Well we have learned that even when you have advance directives in place and a medical surrogate to convey your wishes about invasive procedures, sometimes they happen anyhow. Mama has done all of that and yet, there we were in the ER having to make an immediate decision about putting her on a ventilator. She was rapidly losing her ability to breathe in the midst of a congestive heart failure episode and the nurse was pressing us for a decision. She promised us that it would be A)temporary and B) that she would be sedated the entire time. She lied about B). Well, she didn't lie, she was a wonderful, caring nurse but some hours after the vent had been started Mama's blood pressure tanked and they had to back off of the sedation to counteract that. They did give her morphine and ativan to help try to keep her comfortable but I ended up feeling betrayed and guilt-ridden nonetheless. She was on the vent for 4 days and a feeding tube for 2 (another thing we had discussed and Mama didn't want - more guilt). She's still in ICU with a lot of medical "issues" but we will deal with them. I thank God for wonderful, amazing Dr. G (not the medical examiner one) who runs interference for Mama as her primary care doc and keeps the specialists at bay who are programmed to want to "fix" things even when sometimes it's best that they're simply managed instead. Like I said, it's complicated.

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Attitude of Gratitude

I know almost all caregivers have heard this all before but this article is a really good one to remind us all of the importance of gratitude as part of your own mental well-being. It's way too easy to focus on the real or perceived ingratitude of others but you can only be responsible for your own thoughts and feelings. Don't quit trying until you find that one little thing you can be thankful for today and then focus on that. It's the first best way to be sure that you end up being not only a survivor but a winner.

A merry heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones! Proverbs 17:22

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have learned some useful new phrases while working at the Manor - "pleasantly confused" and "intermittently oriented". I believe that I will aspire to both of those conditions in the aging process. Being pleasantly confused sounds like great fun and checking in and out of reality might come in pretty handy on some occasions that I can think of. I plan on being one interesting old lady, I sure hope my kids are prepared.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mmmmm.... pork roast

Haven't done many cooking-related posts lately so here you go...

I'm marinating a pork loin roast in some peach nectar and balsamic vinegar with ginger and pepper. Low sodium and should be mighty tasty. I'll let you know how it turns out after dinner tomorrow night.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where are the presents?

I just realized that today is Feedin' Mama's two-year blogiversary. And they said it wouldn't last.

Wait, Watch and Wonder

This article I found in one of my e-mails today might be a bit overwrought and over-thought for some but I do like the idea that giving your all to the present moment is the great key to a life well-lived. We do spend so much time projecting the future and beleaguering the past that we miss the breath we are taking right now. Such a waste of life that is. And besides, I thought the title was most excellent.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Diet and Nutrition for Everybody

I just heard about a great new site, It has diet and nutrition information for all kinds of health conditions and issues. Here's the link to the Low Sodium section. There is also a section for people on coumadin, for gout, for cholesterol... and their own nutrition plan for everyone who just wants to eat better. It's a veritable nutrition gold mine! Yay!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Aging and Ministry

I attended a workshop on Aging and Ministry recently and came away with some insights for this ministry as a whole in the future and not just a little bit of excitement about the future for folks who are home bound and unable to attend worship services.

There is no doubt that all aspects of aging will take on new dimensions as the baby boomers continue to reach what we now know as "retirement" age. One point strongly made was that the term "Older Adult Ministry" won't exactly endear those it purports to describe. Plain old Adult Ministry will do fine, thank you very much. We're already using phrases from "Young-Old" "Middle Old" and "Old (or Oldest) Old" to try to describe a population that spans more than two generations. A monthly "meet and eat" with an occasional bus trip isn't going to work for such a widely varied group and we are going to have to re-define what it means to do ministry with older adults.

Even ministry to folks who are no longer able to attend worship services, small group meetings or Bible studies will provide new ways of staying connected with their church families. Netbooks have become so affordable and portable that it's conceivable that they would become as common in nursing homes as televisions and online conferencing and video streaming could not only allow the homebound to attend services in their own church in real time but they could still be active participants in Bible studies, on committees and other small groups. One of the saddest things I see is that no matter how involved someone has been in the life of the church, no amount of visitation and contact ministry can prevent the eventual falling away of an elder who is no longer able to actively participate in the life of the congregation. But I watch Mama as she "Skypes" with her grandchildren and great grandchildren and I am filled with great hope for the possibilities to come. As for me, I plan to have my netbook installed on a tray on my wheelchair so I can continue to be both a happy joy and a royal pain for my family and church family until the funeral home comes to fetch me. Heh heh heh....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just because you can...

...doesn't always mean that you should.

It's a fairly common occurrence, a physician recommends a procedure and the patient, especially the elderly patient it seems, readily complies with the recommendation without investigating all the available options. I say especially the elderly patient because the older generations have lived most of their lives in a culture that viewed medical professionals as infallible authorities. Those of us who have grown up with the information age are more likely to say, "Wait a minute" and question the doctor further, investigate their options and/or ask for a second opinion.

Please don't infer that I'm bashing the medical profession, far from it. It is my opinion that we have the best medical care in the world available to us in the US. But doctors are trained to fix things. And especially in cases involving older folks I don't necessarily think they are trained to consider that not "fixing" something might be the best option. I read this article today on the possibility that anesthesia may spur the onset of dementia in older patients. That would be a risk factor I would want to consider when faced with the possible need for a procedure.

We are very fortunate that Mama's primary care doctor is a firm believer in the least worst option. We have had several occasions when a specialist has firmly recommended a procedure or a medication that in Dr. G's opinion and ours was that the risks aren't worth the possible benefit. He knows her medical history, how her body responds and reacts to things and what her personal wishes are. So when the surgeons and specialists "come at her with scalpels" (Mama's words) she refers them straight to Dr. G and then we discuss the plan of action or inaction together. It's a beautiful thing.

Modern medicine is also a beautiful, wonderful thing. One of the reasons we can even have this discussion is because our lifespan continues to get longer and longer due to continually better medical care. But common sense and investigating all the options are still and always the very best medicine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amazing Graciousness

Today I was witness to a beautiful example of grace in aging. Mama's Sunday School class which includes folks who have been church members for more than 60 years and has been in existence in its current form since 1979 has dwindled down to a very faithful few. Our new pastor and our children's director are faced with the happy problem of a children's program that is bursting at its seams and needs more space. We have two adult SS classes upstairs in the children's wing that seriously need to be re-located to make a safe and comfortable space for our little ones.

Now there are some things you just don't mess with in church without courting the probability of a great uproar complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Long-established Sunday School classes are generally on that list. But the pastor asked one of our sainted members who teaches periodically in Mama's class to host a brunch this morning so that he could present the problem to them and ask for their help. This is a man of great courage and fortitude. He told them that since they have the largest space we need to move one of the bigger classes into their room. They would have the option of joining the other older adult class down the hall or staying in their room with the younger (40-60 year old) folks.

Well now I am proud to tell you that each one of them was kind and gracious and generous of heart and they are all even a little excited about a new venture at this point in their lives. They will welcome this big group into their space even though it means changing their normal curriculum, new furniture and several other adjustments to be made. Not a one of them had a negative comment, not even a "But we've ALWAYS done it this way!"

There will be a celebration of their class during worship later in February and a new adventure in faith will begin for this lovely little group who are great examples of Christian love and grace. Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape. I hope the rest of the congregation comprehends the message of their testimony in action.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Stayin' alive... and having a good time at it apparently. Good for them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thermostat Wars

We often have an odd little passive-aggressive turf war in the Feedin' Mama household over the thermostat. Mama has lost most of her insulation (body fat) over the years and like most older adults is prone to chilliness. I, of course, have enough insulation for the both of us and more. This leads to surreptitious thermostat fly-bys, each of us thinking we're getting away with something. We do try to address the issue but it's the same old argument that never has a solution. I keep telling Mama that she can always put on a sweater but nobody really wants me to run around here naked and I would still be hot with the temperature sweltering in here like it is. I even bought her a Snuggie (TM) but it's too bulky and cumbersome for her and I can't blame her for not wanting to be smothered by a pile of blankets and sweaters.

Now it may not be news to most of the country but for this native Floridian I was amazed to find lightweight long underwear that actually keep you warm. Imagine that. We purchased a couple of sets for Mama and have finally been able to find a happy medium. They keep her warm without a lot of bulk and I can keep my clothes on. So at least for the next month or so we can dial the thermostat down and have peace in the land. Hooray for light weight long johns and compromise!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Prophecy of Jim Croce

Let me be the first one to say it...... You know, Christmas will be here before you know it. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.... oh, sorry. Ahem. But seriously, you know what I'm talking about. Every passing year seems to fly by faster than the one before it. They say time flies when you're having fun but apparently it's pretty speedy even when you're in the midst of a high-unemployment economic freefall as well. I cannot believe how quickly the days keep zooming by. Which is why I cannot figure out the thought processes behind those folks who either treat their aging parents like naughty and/or incompetent children or ignore them altogether. I don't think those are the best life choices to make when loving, respecting and valuing them is A) One of God's Big Ten, B) Setting a good example for your own children to follow and C) Plain old good karma. And Karma? She can really be such a Bee-yotch. Srsly. Especially when you're going to wake up what will seem like tomorrow and Whoops! Look who needs a little help with their ADLs now Sparky! Time really do fly... use it wisely.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why is it So Dad-Gum Difficult to Find Low Salt Alternatives?

I have to wonder why some stores make it more difficult to find low and no sodium alternatives than others. Is it their customer base that they're stocking for? Let's take canned tomatoes for an example. At Publix I can find canned crushed tomatoes and tomato paste with very low sodium. I can also find chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce in a box with almost no sodium. At WalMart the pickings are a bit slimmer but I can still find low-sodium crushed tomatoes and they even have a low sodium version of their store brand chopped tomatoes. Not to mention that the prices are way lower, yay. So yesterday I went to Winn Dixie because they have this new Fuel Perks program where you get $$ off of your gas fill-up - the more groceries you buy, the lower your gas cost. BUT - I couldn't find a lot of the things I need to cook Mama's low sodium meals. There was not even one choice in the canned tomato selection, not one. Boo. And since dil and I are back on the weight loss challenge I was looking for other things I couldn't find such as 100 calorie whole grain english muffins. They're working real hard to re-image themselves but I still get the feeling that they're still reaching out to the bologna, moon pie and kool aid demographic. The big draw special they had was if you buy 2 frozen pizzas of a certain brand you get a box of fried cheese sticks, a box of garlic bread, ice cream and soda for free. Geez Louise. For those of us trying to eat healthy it was kind of a frustrating trip. Which is sad b/c I could really use the lower gas prices.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Low Sodium Recipes

Here's the latest batch of low sodium recipes from Dick Logue. I think I'll try the cranberry orange relish first but I'll use stevia or splenda instead of sugar.

Spice Up Your Life in 2010

Here's a great article on how spicing up your menu can lead to a longer, healthier life. Check the last slide for a spice blend you can make yourself that will add some zing and good health to lots of your own recipes.