May 8, 2011

I Love Me My Little Mama

It's Mother's Day weekend and I'm missing my sweet little mama.

I know that I was just with her in Alaska just a short time ago but with how things are, how quickly they can change and plunge downhill that only makes me miss her all the more!

I am so grateful that one of my brother's, his wife, and children were able to bridge the gap of transition in one huge step and begin spending the nights and virtually moving in with her next door to their own home.

I do what I've always done. I phone her and love how she perks up and laughs with me even when she might not be totally sure what either of us is laughing at. I'm so grateful we've always had the gift of our silly laughter and corny jokes that only the two of us have ever found funny. Now, those are bridges and transfer paths for connection between us and a way to keep her one with me emotionally, energetically,and spiritually.

And in my other world of sewing here in Oregon, well. I make her more quilted bibs. Adult bibs are used all day, every day and they get so shabby in a hurry from the constant washing. So, now two more.

Making an Adult Bib

I loved discovering fabric I received from donation has two cowgirls with my mother's names, Nell and Grace, under their sweet faces. Growing up as a little French girl in Louisiana, Nell was most likely the french nickname for Antoinette, but my mom has always been Nellie or Nell and Grace as her middle name has been so appropriate and so perfect for this time of needing the blessings of true and pure grace.

So, two more adult bibs for my own little Nellie Grace the survivor of stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer (8 years cancer free now) and now of course, advanced Alzheimer's and in her sixth year of its challenges.

My sister-in-law said the most interesting thing to me on this last care giving visit to Alaska. She said 'it's easier on you, Michele, because you just accept it all. You accept how she is and what needs to be done for her.'

I'd never thought of that, but she's right. I never got upset, threw a fit, felt angry or that life is unfair because she'd already 'beat' cancer. I didn't fret and rage over how it changed my own life or took away from my free time. Heck, I sewed some of these bibs at her house and did it with one good arm and one broken one. And while that was incredibly hard, it was also strangely empowering and fun ;)

Now, I see how fear and denial that most family members feel is what makes it so hard for themselves. They have to fight themselves, the changing parent, and the disease all at once. It causes absolute havoc in the family and each person's own personal life.

You thought you were done parenting? Forget that! Now you parent your own parent. You thought you were done feeding someone, lifting and carrying them, changing their diapers, wiping their face and hands and giving them baths, nope, they are just as precious - only bigger to take care of. But still someone so loved who needs care.

As the only daughter who not only saw what needed to be done earlier, but saw the disease itself, sooner, I got a 7 year head start on care giving from my other family members but now, they have to do it day in and day out when I'm not there. So, it all evens out, you see. Knowing I gave my best and lived with them for 3 out of the past 8 years (months added all together), I only have gratitude for what I could give and all that I've learned.

And now I sew bibs, and make photo cards that others can read out loud to her and remind her how much I love her and that there is still happiness to be had and a good chuckle to share.

Love you my sweet little mama. And I'm thinking of you today, and every day with lots and lots of love!

Today, my 95 year old mother-in-law is brought out to breakfast by her three sons one of who is toting my gift bag of new blouses and blank greeting cards. My own little brood of three will arrive later on bringing their own beloved and significant others along with them. They will cook for me, and give me my own mother's day! Some days it's nice to be the sandwich in the sandwich generation! Especially, when hubby and I are the only baby boomers in this house at least no one has moved in to take care of us (yet;)

Happy Mother's Day to all of you who mother in any and all ways!
And of course, if you know me I also quilt for AAQI ;) so I'm off to do a little quilting before my kids arrive!

Why I Quilt for AAQI what having Alzheimer's in my family means for me.

Notes and Links:

Alzheimer's Association Educational links and forums and what you can do to keep track of bills as they go to Congress:

Who will be mothering you..... when YOU are in diapers and bibs once again?
"Generation Alzheimer's: The Defining Disease of the Baby Boomers," sheds light on a crisis that is no longer emerging – but already here.

Read all about what this means for ALL of us

Candlelight Tribute Rally

Sunday, May 15, 7:30-8:30 p.m. 

Join the group at the reflecting pool on the west side of the Capitol

Light a virtual candle if you are unable to come to D.C.

Michele Bilyeu quilts for AAQI the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

Won't you please join us? :) 


Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

You hit it on the nailhead with why it is so much harder for some than others with dealing with something this difficult. Some just except it as part of life, that you can't change, and others try to change it and fight it knowing they can't. I hope you enjoy your mother's day today and have a great little chat with your mom on the phone.

Sujata Shah said...


Happy mother's day. Hope you have the best time with your family.
Hope your phone call to your mom is filled with more silly and corny jokes!

Scrappy quilter said...

Happy Mother's Day dear friend. I truly hope my daughters care for me has you do for your mother when I'm old. Love ya

Clare said...

Happy Mother's Day my sweet. It's not Mother's Day here in France (I think) and Mother's Day in the UK has been and gone, but I rang my Mum today anyway.

Big hugs

Rosalyn Manesse said...

Happy Mother's Day. I know what you're going through, I'm going thru it too with my DH.

quiltmom anna said...

I loved your piece about your little mama- being able to accept that our loved ones are what they are, is a real gift. That positive energy helps one get through instead of being pulled down by the wishing for something that can no longer be- I think that my husband learned that lesson much earlier in his life when he lost his 22 year old brother in a car accident. What "if-ing "did not change or bring back his brother.. Life sometimes gives us early lessons that help us get through the other challenges life presents.
My beloved goes to visit his mother once / twice a year( she lives 1000 miles from us) and when he is there, he comes away and he knows he has done what he can do, and is glad of their time together. He misses his near 89 year old mother but accepts what she is, and rarely wishes aloud for what she once was. Today we went to the art gallery and he said how much his mom would have enjoyed the gallery- and together we remember what a fine person we had to love us all. By the way,MUM so liked to paint herself.
I hope that you had a wonderful time with your children on Mother's Day. I am sure that your family recognize what a treasure you are - how much you enrich others' lives.
Happy Mother's Day to you and little Mama!,

Unknown said...

I hope you had a wonderful Mothers Day Michele, celebrating your Mum and being a Mum. You,re making your bibs for your Mama and mine for a premature baby... its a beautiful circle this 'ol life??!!
Thanks for your heartfelt words this week x

Anonymous said...

i enjoyed your blog.
i live in beaverton so we aren't that far apart. i lived in salem for nine years tho.
happy stitching