Category: Hospice

Thinking of Your Mom?

As you and I wait for the FREE Kindle book download for The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret, on May 7 and 8, I'd like to share two other excerpts from that book:

http://www.loishjelmstad.com/can-you-visit-your-childhood-home

http://www.loishjelmstad.com/you-can-run-but-can-you-hide

I wrote the first part of The Last Violet while my mother lay dying in home-hospice. It was a very confusing, frustrating, haunting time. After Mother died on Mother's Day 1995, I continued to explore our relationship and my grief in an effort to better understand her – and myself. 

I would like for The Last Violet to become a way for you to explore your relationship with your mother – living or dead.   

All my love, Lois

Tribute to My Beloved Friend

It is four years ago today that my best friend and sister-in-law died of pancreatic cancer.

As I look at her picture above my desk, I miss her as though it were yesterday. Mary Jo was generous, loving, kind. She worked tirelessly in her church, served countless dinners for Sons of Norway, read for the blind, made hundreds of quilts for the Linus Project, and was a caring friend to many. She never revealed a confidence. Tears still burn my eyes when I think of her and I think of her often.

It is in her honor that I share an excerpt from the chapter “Candles Floating on the Pool” from This Path We Share:  

Every day the sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky. Every day Mary Jo’s cheeks became more like parchment and sunk further into her bone structure. Every day her thin arms struggled harder to grasp the side railing of her bed to turn to her left side, her skin damp with the effort. Every day her words became a little harder to understand. Often Les and I sat squeezed together in the big chair in the lobby (of the Hospice of the Valley in Arizona) as if we could create a cocoon and ward off our anguish.

One evening as I kissed Mary Jo’s forehead and said good-bye, she mumbled, “It’s hard to leave.”

“Yes,” I said, "but perhaps it is time.”

Early in the morning, five days later, I was on my way to Sherman House, only two minutes from my best friend’s bedside, when my cell phone rang.

“It’s done.”

As I drove back to the house to tell Ralph and Les that our beloved Mary Jo was gone, I thought back to those beautiful candles floating precariously on the pool. The lights had flickered across the water, offering shimmering memories, shining hope, unaware how truly vulnerable they—and we—were.

(Excerpted from This Path We Share: Reflecting on 60 Years of Marriage © 2010 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

May we each honor those whom we have loved and lost – today and every day.

 

Why Am I Alive? Why Is She Dead? No. 3

Shoreline
(for Ann)

Everything seems
so distant
now

Is Life receding or
is Eternity
approaching?

(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines, (c) 1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

 

Why Am I Alive? Why Is She Dead? No. 2

This is August–the month in which I wrote several poems for my dear friend, trying to cope with her dying, trying not to be scared for myself, trying to find courage. (See No. 1)

Questions

how do you live
when your life has been
reduced to dying?

where do you find
some shreds of joy
amidst the crying?

when is it time
to cut the bonds and
give up trying?

(Excerpted from Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear, and Loneliness (C) 1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

More poems for Ann to come…

 

I’ve Lost My History (Mother’s Day7)

During the eleven long weeks that my mother lay dying in hospice, someone told me to ask her everything I wanted to know. I tried to think of things, but I was so shocked by the whole situation that I couldn't form the questions. Ask YOUR mother things you need to know NOW.

I Clutch the Keys
My mother held the keys
to what I can’t remember

She was the buffer
between eternity and me

She was the one
who first gave love

Now—against my will—
I am at the head of the line

I lead the way
to the new tomorrow

I clutch the keys to the memories
my children can’t remember

I give the love
that can’t be bought

At last I am first—
I’d rather be second again.

(Excerpted from The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother, Moving Beyond Regret, copyright 2002 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

Do you know your medical history? Your family's? Do you remember your parents' parents? What do you want your children to know?