Chapter 67 – 17 days

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It’s been a very rough afternoon and evening…Mom is completely psycho. The drugs, the unfamiliar surroundings, triggered a complete dissolve when I went down to the cafeteria to get some food—after explaining over and over what I was going to do—ten minutes later the nurse called me—put Mom on the phone—“Are you just leaving me here all alone?” She thought I had gone home to Manzanita. Threatened suicide, frantic, kill me please, got out of bed oblivious to the pain, when earlier today she shrieked in pain when the physical therapist tried to get her to just dangle her legs over the edge of the bed, and refused to do it.

Looking in her eyes is scary—like looking at an alien—or a terrified child about ten years old, belligerent, angry, afraid she’s going to be abandoned and/or hurt, fighting, trying to get out of bed, not understanding anything. I finally started speaking to the ten-year-old, explaining what was true and real and what was not, and asked Big Frances to talk to the scared little kid, tell her to quit trying to be the boss, tell her to let Big Frances comfort her so she wouldn’t be so scared, and ask her to allow Big Frances keep her safe. She completely broke apart and sobbed for twenty minutes. After that her eyes were Frances’ eyes again. She was calm and rational and herself, and she held my face and cried, “Thank you, thank you. I don’t deserve you.” Which of course I disputed. She deserved me, and many more like me.

For a few hours, we had actual conversations, until that night when I said I was going to leave and get some sleep. Psycho time. Then I realized my presence was somehow inviting further meltdown, so I told her I was leaving, and did. I warned the nurses. They had given her Haldol two hours ago but she’s fighting it.

Monday, March 15

Today the physical therapist helped her walk to the door of her room. She complained all the way, but she did it. She slept a lot. Her “boyfriend” Beach came to see her, and Laurie and her daughter Jen.

Seeing Mom with ALL her defenses down was very revealing. Jenny’s been saying for several years that Mom has an alter personality inside that is sometimes in charge, the scared, pugnacious, demanding, mean little ten-year-old who is afraid she’ll be 1) hurt,
and 2) abandoned. In the hospital she gets both. Every time I leave, or even say I’m going to, even for a few minutes, I see that little girl come in and take over.

Again tonight when I told her I was leaving to get some food and some sleep, her eyes became those scary eyes again. Her voice got high and little, and she started to dissociate. I assured her she was safe and I’d be back the next day. Then I went out and talked to both nurses about what was going on. The head nurse assured me that “this is a hip fracture ward; we see dementia all the time. We’re used to dealing with it. You go and get some rest, we’ll take good care of her.”

In spite of my thinking, “This is beyond dementia, sweetheart…” I did leave. And then Jenny’s kids came and visited her after I left and brought her presents, so that got her through the night. So she’s been well loved today, lots of visitors. When she gets constant attention that little alter girl stays in hiding. But it explains a lot of the behavior I hear about at her care facility, that belligerent, mean person. I guess little alter girl would stay in hiding if I was there ALL the time.

Tuesday March 16, 7:43 a.m.

Mom called from the hospital this morning at 6 a.m. (the nurse dialed for her and gave her the phone) with the same frantic concern: “You left me all alone here and I can’t walk and I have to go home and I can’t walk and I don’t know where I am.” (I have a
doctor appt. this morning at 9, so Jenny is going to come to the hospital to be with Mom.) It took about half an hour to talk her back down to her right mind. It may last until Jenny gets there, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

Wednesday, March 17

Today they’ll put Mom in an ambulance and take her to the Nehalem Bay Care Center in Wheeler, four miles from my home, where I can pop over for awhile and then right back home in 5 minutes. It’s a Skilled Nursing/Rehab/Alzheimer’s facility.

Thursday, March 18

Mom arrived by ambulance at the Care Center yesterday at 4, and seemed happy to be there, until she saw her room—then she panicked. It’s a normal nursing home room, private but painted a yucky color and bare bones, old TV, small. Then she got that panicked look, and as soon as they put her in her bed she grabbed my arm. “Is this where I’m going to die?” she said. Jack and I stayed and talked for a couple of hours, calming her down and explaining over and over she wasn’t there to die, but to get well so she could go back to her home at Suzanne Elise Assisted Living. She seemed OK when we left to get something to eat, at a café in Wheeler.

START of 17 days:

The Asian Chicken Salad was the first food I’d had all day. The waiter set down Jack’s Reuben sandwich, and I planned to snag a bite or two of that, too. I picked up my fork, and my cell phone rang. I looked at the Caller ID. Nehalem Bay Care Center. Mom’s new temporary home. My shoulders slumped. Mom had come by ambulance a few hours earlier from the Portland hospital where surgeons pinned her broken hip four days earlier. We had raced from the hospital to the Care Center, leaving my sister Jenny to get her into the ambulance. Jenny had called to say the ambulance was on its way, and she was leaving for a week of R & R in Bend.
When Mom was wheeled into the tiny room with the sickroom-green walls, the narrow bed, the wheelchair, the old TV, her eyes went wide in panic. “Is this where I’m going to die?” she whispered.
It took several hours to get her settled down.
“This is Tom,” the voice on my cell phone said. “I’m the charge nurse at the Care Center. “Uh…you need to come back.”
“What happened?” I asked. I was already motioning for the waiter. To Go box, I mouthed at him, pointing to my salad.
“Your mother fell.”
“She…fell? But how…” She had been unable to get out of bed unassisted for physical therapy in the hospital. And she only had one hip left to break.
“She tried to self-transport. She got all the way to the door of her room before she fell.”
“I’ll be right there.”
She had been trying to escape. I knew that one, the twelve-year old escape artist. I’d seen her several times while Mom was in assisted living. And the pissed-off ten-year-old, who ruled the roost the whole time she was in the hospital. Her eyes had been manic, alien, scary, that terrified belligerent ten-year-old, railing at me, at the nurses, at her immobility. Until I leaned over her and said, softly, “Mom, there’s a scared little girl inside you who is trying to take over. Can you comfort her, tell her you’re in charge, you’ll keep her safe and it’s going to be okay?” She had completely dissolved then, sobbing uncontrollably for twenty minutes. When the tears finally stopped, her eyes were Frances’ again, bright blue and clear. “Thank you,” she said over and over, patting my cheeks. “Thank you. I don’t deserve you.”
Jenny had said for years that Mom had “fractured parts” inside her from early sexual abuse by her father. I talked to experts in geriatric psychology. “It’s just the dementia,” they said. “They’re all that way. They regress to a childlike state.”
“But…children of different ages, all in the same person?”
“No, it’s the dementia. It’s typical. They’re all that way.”
I parked outside the Care Center and hurried to her room in the west wing. Her bed had been lowered to the floor, and a mattress-sized six-inch mat was now next to it. Tom and Becky, the night aide were in the room, their faces anxious. Mom was tucked in, the upper half of her bed raised so she could sit up. Her white silky hair curved smoothly to her earlobes, and I was struck by how pretty she looked, even after a wretched hospital stay.
When I walked in, she reached both arms out for me.
“Judy! You finally came!”
I settled onto the bed next to her and held her hands. “Mom, I’ve only been gone half an hour. I needed to eat, and I thought you were ready to have some dinner, too.”
“I’m not going to eat! I’m just going to die. Don’t make me eat.” I’d heard this before, especially since my youngest sister Anne had died six weeks earlier. But Mom’s resolve always evaporated when her assisted living chef brought her a strawberry waffle with whipped cream and ice cream. She’d been living on strawberry waffles, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus dessert, if there was some.
I had already asked. The nursing home didn’t have strawberry waffles.
“Mom, you’re here to get well, to get strong, to learn to walk again. You can go home as soon as you can walk. And you have to eat to get strong.”
Her eyes flashed blue fire ice.
“I’m not going to eat! I told you! I want to die!”
I had been her caregiver for fourteen years, since she had her first stroke shortly after after my younger brother Tim died. Helping her stay alive and happy was my focus. I had succeeded in keeping her alive.
Jack walked in, breathing hard. He had finished his meal and hiked up the steep hill from the café to the Care Center, carrying my To Go box. Becky looked around for a chair, but Jack waved her away and sat on the portable commode.
Mom’s bony hand clutched my arm and yanked me closer. Her face was not the face of a child, not the face of dementia, not even the face of the frail old woman she was. This was Frances in her right mind.
Her eyes glittered. “You’re not hearing me!”
“Mom, I hear you.”
She hammered her fists into my chest, battering and pounding me with ferocious energy.
“Listen to me! Listen to me! You’re not listening to me!”
Shock, hurt, and horror pulsed through me in waves. My mother had never hit me, not even as a child. It was a few seconds before I could get my breath and retrieve shreds of my Caregiver Calm, the defensive shield I had learned to pull around me when she was being unreasonable.
I glanced up at the three witnesses to my humiliation. Becky’s eyes filled with tears and she mouthed at me, “I’m so sorry.” I wondered what she saw on my face.
I grabbed Mom’s wrists and gently pulled them down. Her bony arms and hands were rigid with determination.
“I’m listening, Mom.”
“You’re not listening!” How many times had she felt this way with me, how many times had my singular focus on keeping her alive and happy blurred my ability to really hear what she was saying?
“I am. I promise. I am listening. I’m listening now. Tell me what I’m not hearing.”
“I want to die. You have to help me! Just kill me!”
I was having a hard time choking down the tears. My usual way of handling grief over what dementia had done to my beautiful, smart little mother was to settle into frustration and efficiency.
“Do you want me to smother you with a pillow?” I said. I was being facetious, another defense.
Tom’s hand flew up. “Frances, you can’t ask that of someone who loves you, it’s just not fair to them.”
“I can’t do that, Mom, you know I can’t do that.”
“Just throw me away, then. Let me die!” She gestured at Tom and Becky. “Make them let me die!”
I wanted to argue, wanted to point out that this was a rehab facility where she was going to get strong enough to walk again and resume her life. Her pinned femur was already healing.
But I had promised to listen.
“Tell me, tell us.” I waved at Becky and Tom. Jack had retreated to a safe place near the door. I knew he wanted, needed a cigarette by now. But he stayed.
Mom started through a list of demands.
“No food. No water. No medicine.”
Tom glanced at me. “No pain meds?”
“No pain meds,” She said. “I can’t swallow pills. I can’t swallow anything, it makes me choke.”
Becky had a question. “Frances, are you having pain now?”
“No, I don’t have any pain.”
Good, then she hadn’t broken anything else when she fell. Except that she had many times exhibited an uncanny imperviousness to pain of any kind, physical or emotional. The only indicator was those strokes, right after Tim died. She hadn’t cried, but she started having strokes.
Now that we were all listening she let me hold her hands.
“What if you fall again and hurt yourself, or get an infection, or get dehydrated?” Becky asked. “Do you want treatment?” We had been through all of this for her DNR, and her POLST.
“No IVs,” she said. “No antibiotics, no 9-1-1, no ambulances, just let me die.” Her eyes swiveled back to me. “You have to help me!”
“I will help you, Mom, I always have. If that’s what you want, I’ll help you.”
I so badly wanted to argue, to point out that even at 92 she had had some quality of life, some good days. I wanted to remind her of the last time I took her to lunch, when she tried to tell me a joke she’d heard at the assisted living facility. She would manage to get two words out, then dissolve in giggles, say another word, and laugh until she couldn’t get her breath, and by now I was laughing, too, and the more she tried to speak the more breathless and delighted she was, and me too, and by the time we got to the restaurant we were both weak with laughing at a joke she never even got to tell.
But she wasn’t laughing now.
“I mean it Mom, I hear you, you want to die. You want to stop eating and drinking until you die.”
Tom winced, and Jack slipped out the door.
Becky had leaned forward, intent. “What if you’re gasping for breath? Do you want oxygen?”
“So you want to be kept comfortable?” I said.
“Yes, of course.” She leaned back against the pillow, and her fingers relaxed in mine.
“What if you have pain, do you want morphine—maybe a morphine patch?”
“Yes! Morphine.”
“You just want to go to sleep and not wake up?” I said.
“Yes, that’s what I want.”
“Then I’ll try to make sure you have what you want.”
“Promise? Swear?”
“I swear.”
I thought about Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. If only she could have had time to sign the request, do the waiting period, sign again, sign again. But no physician would have given her the Seconal. She wasn’t terminal.
Her eyes went to Becky and Tom. “What about you? You heard me, you’re my witnesses. Do you promise to help me die?”
They looked at each other uneasily and nodded.
“Say it out loud. I want to hear you say it. Do you swear?”
Becky said it out loud. “I swear.” Tom didn’t.
“What about you?” She was relentless.
“I swear,” Tom said.
Ferocious and pissed off in the hospital, but after that dramatic entry scene, she smiled at everyone, sweetly, and constantly.

END of 17 days.

Back to Diary entry from 2010:

I wish she could have had the time to sign all the papers (Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act) in advance of this date. But no physician would have said that she was terminally ill. She was simply terminally old and defeated, which meant she didn’t qualify.

She made Tom and Becky, as witnesses, swear they would support her decision. Then made me swear, which I did. Finally we all got clear about that, and she was laughing and talking when we left. They had dropped her bed down to floor level and surrounded it with 6” thick mats, so she can’t hurt herself. She’s running a fever, and she hopes it’s an infection so she can refuse treatment and die soon. Otherwise, she is refusing to eat or drink. That may take awhile.

OR…she may regain her will to live. I asked her why she doesn’t want to live, and she has a long list of reasons the big one being that she doesn’t want to be a burden to her family—meaning me. She wants to be with Anne and Tim. She’s bored with life, without a job or a family to raise. She’s “too hard to get along with”, she says, so she doesn’t have friends at Suzanne Elise. We’ll see which wins out, the will to live or the wish to die.

I’m pretty well worn out. Starting to catch up on sleep, so it will get better. There’s an excellent social worker (a good friend of mine, Patti) and a psych nurse (another good friend of mine, Milar) at the care center; both were in to see her shortly after she first arrived and last night Patty talked me through it on the phone for half an hour after the dramatic scene I had just gotten through with Frances.

Took Mom to the dentist next door to the care center today. He said all six of her lower teeth are completely rotten, have to come out, and are probably making her sick. And no way she hasn’t been in pain from them for at least 6 months. But she has never complained that they hurt until this week, when she needed another reason not to eat. So he took impressions, and Saturday morning he’ll pull her teeth and install her new lower denture and her relined upper denture. He asked what her goal was and she said, “I just want to be able to eat again.” (?!?!?)

I met with Milar for an hour today, and she is awesome. She’s so practical, so loving, and so CLEAR! She agrees that possibly Mom has Dissociative Identity Disorder, as Jenny says.

Sunday 3/21

Mom is being a pill, climbing out of her bed or back in it by herself if I leave the room for a moment, even walking to the door of her room, but acting like she can’t move her legs when the physical therapist wants her to sit up or stand up. Demanding I never leave her side, being uncooperative, refusing to eat or drink or do physical therapy, using the “I want to die RIGHT NOW” meme to control me and everybody else. The $4000 lower plate we had rush-made Saturday…got lost “somewhere” at the nursing home last night. The charge nurse gives a big shrug and said, “It will have to wait until the laundry aide comes in tomorrow,” when I offered to go search through the sheets in the laundry room to look for it. When I explained that Mom couldn’t eat without it, and hadn’t eaten for days, she shrugged again, and said, “I know.” And went back to her paperwork. Thank God for the aides. One of them, Brandy, said “I’ll go look for it right now.” And she did. But couldn’t find Mom’s teeth. So now Mom doesn’t even have her upper plate in, says it hurts her—and it probably does, with her lower jaw having had six extractions yesterday.

I want to help her die however she wants to. But she complains about not being able to eat, then refuses to try. Asks for water then says it tastes terrible and spits it out. The doctor is willing to let/help her die, too, but her heart and lungs are strong, no fever, no pain, no problems, she’s healed from surgery. I’m at my wit’s end. She asks me to kill her, over and over.

I’m so tired my compassion has completely dissolved. I had to leave to keep from saying something snotty back to Mom. When I’m not by her side 24/7 (which I am, mostly) she says, “I was so lost without you! Where were you!?” It’s been a long difficult day, just another one of many.

My brother and his wife are coming tonight, and I told them to just go straight to the nursing home, do not come here first

Like I said, I’m compassion-challenged at the moment. Wes will have his hands full when he gets to the nursing home, and I’m not going over there to try to buffer.

Later Sunday night:

I’m a little pissed off at God right now, after witnessing so many tragedies at the Alzheimer’s/nursing home. I could write a book. Maybe I would call it “Why Dr. Kevorkian Had the Right Idea.” My heart just breaks for all of them, especially Mom, and then I get angry because I have to keep my heart in one piece. I feel so helpless when she asks me to “just shoot her” or “help me die, please, please,” as if I could do something magical and it would all be over. The worst thing she says is, “Just throw me away.”

Mom actually might be in a lot of pain, but she’s so inured to pain that she doesn’t feel it. Witness, six completely rotten teeth that had to have been causing her a lot of pain, not to mention poisoning her whole system…and she never said she had a toothache until she was in the hospital last week.

So Mom is seeing Milar on Tuesday, and we’re going to get serious about her imperviousness to pain and how she seems to be, however, in immense psychological pain if nothing else. Serious sedation would kill her, because the only way she can come out of this is to work with the occupational therapist to walk again. Today she fought her at every turn, said she was too tired, felt just awful, it was too hard, she couldn’t do it, “I just can’t” over and over—couldn’t sit up, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t wash her face. She finally did, under duress. Then after the O.T. left, she sent me to get her a cup of coffee and while I was gone clambered out of her wheelchair and fell across the bed. Then got stuck. When I asked her what she was trying to do, she said, “Well, I didn’t know where you went!” angrily. A non sequitir.

But maybe some anti-anxiety meds??

Wes just arrived after a brief visit with Mom. Have to debrief with him now.

Monday 3/22, 10 a.m.

I’m going to try that screaming thing! Wes and Mary came last night and went to see Mom, and of course she was in the “Queen of My Domain” role she always is for them, smiling and happy, no problems at all. We warned them. Jack always backs me up, because my sibs tend to wonder if I’m exaggerating a wee bit. Especially when I told them about her hitting me, pounding on me when she realized she was in a nursing home and afraid I wouldn’t help her die. Jack vouched for that, because he saw it. Wes and Mary went back over today, so I could get a morning off.

Sandy sent me this: “Something you can do is to meditate and have ‘your higher self’ talk to your mother’s ‘higher self’ and remind her not to be fearful, and that ‘all is well’. Tell her to stay calm and that she will leave this earth plane when she is ready!”

I do feel a lot better today, after a good night’s sleep and just finally having a whole morning to myself. Wes and Mary bought us breakfast and forbade me to come to the nursing home. I exhorted Wes to try to make her “get real” with him—she never does—ask her why Judy says Mom told her, over and over, that she wants to die! While they are there I hope she’ll get to see the speech therapist to evaluate why she says she can’t swallow, and perhaps try to retrain her. And from the dentist, who I hope will raise hell that they lost her new plate the same day it was put in.

Mary asked me several times: “What is the worst thing that can happen if you just don’t go over there?” Jack acknowledged that he didn’t think I could stay away, I’d feel too guilty.

I need therapy.

Monday 3/22 noon

Wes and Mary are headed home today. Mary says Wes should come back and “assume his share of the obligation” but I’m not requiring that. If he even could visit once a week and give me a morning off, that would help. Or Jenny. I’m trying to wean Mom from her total dependence on me to be there every second of this long painful process, but I then feel guilty about abandoning her when she’s terrified. On the other hand, she is no doubt still manipulating me, and might actually cooperate with the people trying to help her if she didn’t have me to play to.
“These thoughts do not mean anything” from ACIM helps. And a quote from Nisargadatta: “If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful patterns of events. It´s your restlessness that causes chaos.” I’m also asking my Higher Self to go talk to her Higher Self to calm her down. She’s definitely of two opposing minds: one is desperate to die NOW and the other is frantically terrified of the prospect. So she quits eating and drinking, then sips a bit of water. The night nurse tells me she brings her strawberry ice cream in the middle of the night, and she devours it, which can keep her going indefinitely.
I haven’t been over to the nursing home today, and blessedly, Mom doesn’t have a phone there. I’ll go over after I get back from reading at Suzanne Elise—those people so look forward to me coming and reading to them, and I missed last week.

There are a hundred sad stories at the nursing home—I keep running into them when I offer a word of comfort or a pat on the arm. The constant ululation of advanced Alzheimer’s patients makes everyone feel crazy. Especially Mom.

Anyway, it’s a pretty day, Jack got to play golf, and I got some time off. Jack definitely has my back, and helps to get my sibs to understand that what I tell them isn’t an exaggeration. She isn’t the Frances Queen with me. She hits me.

Tuesday 3/23, 8 a.m.

Miraculously, things have turned around yesterday for Mom—Patti spent considerable time with her, the occupational therapist Renee spent good time with her, they both connected with her on a positive and spiritual level, and she now wants to live again.

Yesterday I stopped by only once, told her I was on my way to the Democratic Central Committee meeting, and she smiled and waved and said “Have a good time!” Renee told her she had to start working on her next book, the world was waiting, so she’s all fired up with a sense of purpose again. I hope it lasts.

My dear brother saw how things were and said he’s going to come up from Coos Bay for two days a week until she’s out of the nursing home, to give me a break.

Tuesday afternoon 3/23

I just talked to SEAL, and given her rate of recovery and no pain, they’ll take her back next Tuesday or Wednesday and continue PT there! She really wants to go back! Today they left her on the toilet, told her to pull the string when she was through so they could get her back in bed. Instead, she got up by herself and walked back to bed and got in it. She’s ready to leave.

I went to see Mom for 45 minutes today then said I had to leave, and she was fine with that. Wes is coming tomorrow, so I’ll stay away and work on my book. Then Jenny can come down after she gets back from Bend on Friday.

Things are getting better! Lots of good signs right now.

Wed. 3/24 evening

Wes called. He has a sore throat so he can’t come.

Mom showed me the book she was working on. It was an illegible paragraph, but I recognized a few words: Betty and Bobby. I asked her to tell me the story, and she did. I wrote in her words over her scrawl. But when I asked her if she was going to work on it some more, she shook her head miserably. No.

It’s unclear now whether Mom is just trying to yank my chain, or what. She has times when she laughs at a comedy on TV, and she always smiles sweetly at everyone who comes in. But with me…it’s all about making sure I remember that she wants to die. Jack posited that perhaps she knows now that it’s going to happen soon, and is therefore happy. Could be. That’s a new kind of heartache—some of the time, not all.

Patti put an “Urgent” on my request for the speech therapist to check out why she can’t swallow.

I am learning, the hard way (as it always has been with Mom’s lessons) to hang out in the unknown, walk the tightrope that isn’t fastened on the other end, be fully present with her when I can be. And get on with my life in the meantime, such as it is.

Friday 3/26 evening

I think Mom had a little stroke this morning while I was gone for an hour for a meeting. When I returned they had her sitting in a wheelchair near the desk, limp and unresponsive. She’s been bewildered and very very weak ever since. Was able to be propped up and open her eyes, but she’s been pretty uncomprehending.

Jenny came! She’s just been wonderful. She’ll stay for the duration. She said “no church funeral!” which stunned me. Now I have someone to help me make all the plans and arrangements and she knows a lot about arrangements, having done it for a woman she cared for, then her husband.

We agree that Mom probably will live, at most, 3-4 more days. She’s limp and bewildered, doing a lot of gazing into our eyes rather than talking; when she talks it’s brief and hard to hear. We’re making funeral plans, so we don’t have to make them later under duress. We may take her back to Suzanne Elise to die, which she wanted to do yesterday, but today she seems disinterested in such details.

Dr. R. came, and asked her, “Frances, how are you doing with that trying-to-die thing?”

“Not good,” she said.

“Why not?”

“They won’t let me die.”

Dr. R. assumed she meant Heaven was telling her it wasn’t her time yet.

But later I asked her who “they” were—the caregivers? Her family? Who?

She could only shrug. She didn’t know.

Then Jenny came in and asked if “they” were inside of her. She perked up and said, “Yes!”

“Do you hear them talking?”


Later I asked her how old she was (a tip from Jenny). She looked up at me with such a sweet, young, innocent face. Ducked her chin and glanced up, and said, “Four” in a high, childish voice.

My granddaughter Jenica left a beautiful handmade card for Mom, with a line from one of Mom’s poems (Jen’s favorite: “The Thread”) inscribed on one side: “A filament of silver, tethered to my heart.”

Sat. 3/27, 10 p.m.

Today I curled up next to Mom in her bed for awhile. She’s having a hard time. I told her I would miss her forever, and she patted my cheeks and tried to hug me, but was too weak. I asked her to somehow communicate with me after she passed over, and she seemed to like the idea. When I said, “How will I know it’s you?” she shrugged. She didn’t know. But her eyes told me, “You’ll know.”

We have talked often before about what psychics and after-death communicators reported: two ways people can communicate once they are pure energy in spirit is through manipulating electricity/energy, and by putting thoughts or images in your mind, ideas that often seem inspirational, a “light bulb going on,” when the thought is coming from the beloved one who is now in spirit.

She’s dehydrated and anorexic and not going gently.

I’m helping her to die in every way I know how, but those little ones inside are powering her resistance.

But she smiles at us constantly, no teeth. Breaks my heart, over and over.

3/28, midnight

“Frances, how old are you?” I asked.

Tiny, sweet, smooth, innocent face, that shy smile: “Two.”

My heart shattered. Two.

Jenny and I did the math. We realized for the first time that while she believed the abuse started at age five, the story she had told me was that her Grandma came to help her mother with the birth of her brother. When the two women went down to fix breakfast, her Dad went to the foot of the bed where her baby crib was and lifted her out, put her in bed with him, and started his perversions. Her brother Bill was born when she was two and after that there were only sisters, for years. I just hadn’t done the math, or remembered the age gap.

This monster sexually abused his innocent two-year-old baby. And now at the end of her life when she should be allowed to go peacefully, she’s having to deal with all these unleashed little parts of herself that don’t want to die.

As for me, it’s breaking my heart and at the same time healing it, because finally she will be at peace and all her scared little babies will finally be comforted. And now her puzzling and frustrating behavior for the past few years has been explained.

My poor little mother is now revealing the full extent of her abuse; she is alternately two, four and five years old. But there a healing happening. For me, for Jenny, and especially for the babies, who now get to be acknowledged and given the love and help they have wanted for so long. Jenny made her a lifelike baby doll (who looks about two) a couple of years ago, but Mom showed little interest in it. Now she clutches the baby doll’s pinafore even when she’s asleep and won’t let anyone move it. With her other hand she clutches the picture of her mother, who she now refers to as “mother Mary” (her longtime guide) and gazes at it for hours, as if she’s trying to understand or remember something important. She drags the doll over to show her the picture. She kisses the picture. She’s figuring something out. Can’t talk now. But whispers how old she is when I ask, and her little face is exactly that age; the expressions, the eyes, all of it.

“How old are you, Frances?”

“Four.” Sweet shy smile.

“Do you want to die?”


“Why not?”

“Because my Daddy did bad things to me, and I don’t know where he is.”

This, finally explained Frances’ contradictory feelings about death, especially now that she was actively trying to die. She was afraid he would be there, wherever she was going.

“How old is the baby?” (The doll)

“Two,” she said, patting the doll’s stomach.

“Are you taking care of the little baby who’s two?”

Big smile. “Yes”

A therapist friend had made a suggestion, which I carried out now.

“Sweetheart, Big Frances is the one who made the Daddy stop hurting the babies. Will you let Big Frances gather up all the little ones who have been hurt, and keep them safe always?”

Then I had an inspiration, which I now think was orchestrated by Frances’ Higher Self, the Self that scrawled the paragraph about Magicland. Her happy place. “And will you let her take all the little ones with her to the Magic Cloud and say the magic word, and then take all the little ones with her to Magicland where she will keep you safe forever?”

Frances’ face bloomed in a radiant smile. She glowed. “Yes!”

Jenny is here, and it’s a big relief and help. All of Anne’s kids came down tonight to see Mom, and Wes came, and Mike’s coming any minute now, with his two girls. When we got back from the nursing home with Anne’s kids, Jack had a huge spread on the counter—our neighbor who is a professional chef had brought over two roast chickens, a mouth-watering apple pie and a great bowl of the best scones I have ever eaten. I had made chili and white bean soup this morning, and we had various loaves of bread, so we all pigged out. Little 5-year-old Christy (Anne’s granddaughter) kept saying, “I really really like your food, Aunt Judy.”

Monday, 3/29, 8 a.m.

Mom isn’t in there anymore, there is no artifice, no roles or pretense. Just the babies, looking up shyly, chin tucked. Smiling.

Wes, Jenny, Mike and I went to Suzanne Elise to get her things out of her room. They have to be gone by Wednesday, and we didn’t want to be sitting with Frances tomorrow and worrying about having to get over there to clear out her room.

Jenny found a “letter from God to Baby Frances” that a friend had given her, and left immediately to go back to the nursing home and be with Mom. Her breathing was shallow when we left, and we wanted someone to be with her.

On our way back to Wheeler, Jenny called. She had found Mom sitting up and awake, and wanting a washcloth. She helped her use it, then sat down and read her the letter. As she read the last line, Frances took her last breath and died peacefully.

We, Jenny and I gathered in Mom’s room and wrapped her in the quilt her children and grandchildren made for her, surrounding her with love. It would go with her into cremation.

The night Mom died I turned off my cell phone for the first time in 15 years. We have a NOAA emergency radio by the bed—it hasn’t gone off in the year it’s been there, though we’ve had several tsunami warnings and some really bad hurricane-level storms, without a squeak from the NOAA radio. But that night, it went off at 2 a.m.—piercing siren alarm, and had me straight up immediately. Then the announcement was: “Rain expected, thunderstorms possible.” Period. Alarm, followed by trivial concern.

I was so freaked I made Jack get up and turn the radio off. He unplugged it and said the batteries were dead, so it was off. Two hours later it happened again. This time I went outside and gazed at the full moon and went for a walk in my nightgown. Then drew a hot bath and sat in it. It was then I realized something that I’d been too much in grief to recognize: because of the way Mom revealed all the little hurt babies and children inside her, and gave me the chance to talk with them and heal them so she could gather them up and leave…I had no leftover grievances. No regrets, no resentments, no bad memories. Just sorrow for the way she had suffered for so many years, and a new understanding of “who” I had had to soothe and comfort so many times, and why she often acted out the way she did. The way she got my attention was to turn on the radio. Twice, because I missed it the first time. She had to get me up and out before I could recognize what I was supposed to recognize. We are healed and whole, and our relationship is now nothing but love. The loud alert followed by a trivial message was her typical pattern, so she knew I would know it was her. She must have been laughing.

I have a sense of the joy and jubilation she felt as her eyes adjusted to her new place, seeing her beloveds gathered there waiting for her with celebration.

The next chapter will be the final chapter about Frances. Stay tuned.


1 Comment

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One response to “Chapter 67 – 17 days

  1. Just read these …moved to tears. Thank you dear Judy…just thank you. I love you.

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