Friday, June 20, 2008

Final Post

Picture collage put together by my uncle Forrest, for mom's funeral.
I've been thinking a bit about what to do with this blog...with mom's words, her stories, her hopes and fears. I'm the co-author of this blog, in that I helped her set it up way back when, and I've been able to maintain it during these last horrible months, during her decline.

I've decided to let it go. It makes no sense for me to post here, as this is the place for HER voice, HER stories, not mine. But I'll leave it up, as long as makes any sense whatsoever, because her stories are wonderful, her thoughts are wonderful, and if there's a chance someone new might come along and enjoy some of these posts, I know she would want that.

Because she truly LOVED this blog. Loved it with a passion. When my Uncle Forrest was trying to motivate her to get up and get better, he used this blog as a carrot. She saw that, and she agreed...this was the carrot that would work. Because her friends are here. Some of her dear friends from Juneau came here. Her friends from OO came here. And friends from blogging came here. So she loved it. You cannot know how much your love and support have meant to her, and to me and Richard, during this sad, difficult time. It has meant everything.

The more I process all of this, the more I think, that it wasn't so much a matter of depression and lack of motivation, but a matter of her truly not being able to get up and move, that got her. What I mean by that is that the combination of the furnace leak in her apartment several years ago, that did a REAL number on her lungs, was a huge contributer. Her lungs looked like those of someone who smoked, not those of someone who had quit in the mid 70s. The injuries she has sustained over the years, which made exercise so difficult, added to her heart and lung problems. Her weight, which contributed to her diabetes and apnea, added to her problems. Her depression, which sucked the motivation from her, added to her problems. All of these together, I think, were too much. She rolled snake eyes, and couldn't get past it.

I've been playing the 'if only' game a lot. If only we hadn't put her in the extended care facility, would she maybe have been less depressed, and so, able to rally and get better? If only I hadn't pushed her so hard, tried to get her up and moving, would she have at least felt more understood and loved before she died? And truthfully, these are 'what ifs' with no answer. How can I know, if things might have turned out better, had things been different? I can't. Perhaps if we hadn't put her in the extended care, she would just have deteriorated even faster, in Kate's house. If I hadn't tried to push her, would I now be kicking myself for not trying? My only wish at this point is to have her back, to have none of this have happened, to go back to life as it WAS. But I can't have that. And it hurts. I don't know how a person is supposed to live without their mother there to care for them. Even in her last hours, she was more worried about MY worry, than about herself. She wanted to get up and do physical therapy, to make me happy. She wanted to make me smile, giving me rides up and down on her hospital bed. But what she really, truly wanted, was to be healthy again, out of pain, and out of that facility. Well, she is now. But I'm heartbroken, and I hope that if my atheist leanings are wrong, that she's at peace somehow, and can give me some comfort at some point.

This is a crappy last post for a blog, written through the tears of a heartbroken daughter who has lost her mother. You, her bloggy and online friends, who have loved her and been her friends, deserve something more uplifting. I'm sorry that I don't have something better to give. But again, thank you, for all of your friendship and support, and please know, you have meant to the world to my mom, and you have been a great comfort to me.

Updated on Monday, 6/23, to add that I'm doing a bit better today, and that there's a post on that here. I won't clutter up Mom's blog with my own recovery efforts. That's what my own blog is for. But I just wanted you all to know that I'm not doing so much of the what-ifs any more, that I'm going to print up this blog and save it for Maya, and that even though I still miss my mom horribly, for right now, I'm doing a bit better.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mom's Obituary

Mom 001

Joycelyn Ward
April 23, 1942 – June 15, 2008

We mourn the loss of Lilith Joycelyn Ward. She leaves behind her daughter, Julie, her son, Richard, her brother, Forrest, her sister Lori, her mother, Virginia, her Aunt Florence, and her many nieces and nephews, and their children. And of course, she was Maya’s Granny.

Joycelyn was born in Oakland, CA, and moved a great deal in her lifetime. She lived in California for much of her life, most recently in Sacramento and Citrus Heights, but also spent many years in Stockton and Berkeley. She lived in Juneau, Alaska from 1993 until February of this year.

She devoted much of her life to helping children, from her early days as a Montessori teacher, to her days teaching parenting classes and working one-on-one to help parents who were at risk of losing their children. She also worked as a volunteer coordinator, as a research analyst, as a secretary, and at an organization working to prevent teen alcoholism.

She was a voracious reader, loved to write and tell stories, and found great joy and satisfaction in her blog, Maya's Granny.

Her wisdom and wicked humor will be greatly missed.

Donations can be made in her memory to her favorite charity, Heifer International.

(This obit ran today in the Stockton Record, sans picture. A slightly shorter version ran in the Sacramento Bee, and Richard ran one in the Juneau Empire as well.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I had a dream

Art by my brother, Richard Ward.

I had a dream the other night. We decided to take my mom off of all of her meds, not just her antidepressants, and she got out of bed and was walking, walking like I haven't seen her walk in about 25 years. Fast and with a spring in her step. She looked much younger, too...perhaps about 40 years old. She had her hair in two long red braids, and was wearing a tie-dye dress and looked so happy. Carefree and healthy and in her prime.

Then I woke up, and for the briefest second, I was truly happy for her. Then it hit me, that no matter if she were to recover, it would never be that sweet full recovery, that fountain of youth. And worse, I knew, in the pit of my stomach, that she would never recover. That this battle was too much for her, and the motivation too difficult to muster. And I almost cried from despair.

And now, it looks as though I was right. My much loved mother suffered a heart attack at around 2am this morning, and she passed away.

How I wish that cold, cruel truth were the dream, and my dream, reality.

(p.s., Ted posted a sweet story on his blog today, a glimpse of what we have lost.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008


How are things going with Maya's Granny and her eternal recovery? Not well.

She has stopped eating again, and the antidepressant they put her on that was supposed to increase her appetite reacted very similarly to the Paxil and Prozac, though it's in a different family of antidepressants, so it's probably not the same problem, but a new one instead. They took her off of this new antidepressant yesterday, though they're maintaining the Wellbutrin, as that did seem to be helping somewhat.

She isn't doing as much physical therapy as she needs to do to get better. That worries me. A lot.

She hasn't picked up a book or shown any interest in reading anything since February. That worries me even more.

Part of me wants to follow the advice of those who say to take her off of the antidepressants entirely. They don't seem to be helping, and she's not making progress, so what's the point. On the other hand, they take awhile sometimes to work, and she wasn't making progress without them, either. She wasn't getting up and moving, wasn't eating, was already in the beginnings of a decline. So second guessing myself is probably not productive.

I can say wholeheartedly that mom's friend Kate is a godsend. I've never known such a devoted, giving friend. Mom was sick, and planning to move in with my Grandma and Aunt Flo, but wasn't really strong enough to go to them at the time of her discharge, so Kate offered to have her come and stay with her. Mom was there for a week and a half, and then wound up back in the hospital, then the care facility. Kate has been going to visit practically every day, which takes at least 2 hours out of her day. Brings her food to try to tempt her appetite. Talks to doctors and nurses. Goes with her to apppointments. Tries to be encouraging and hopeful, and that's probably the thing she needs the most. I don't know how many friends would be this generous with their time and energy, and hopefully, most of us will not have our friendships tested to this degree. The emotional side of watching mom get worse like this is not at all what Kate signed up for. I swear, if I win the lottery, I'm buying Kate a car. With air conditioning.

So that's the news at this point, at least as much as I feel comfortable telling on a blog that is not my own. I hope that my mom can get up and moving soon, and can regain her perspective on life, because right now, it's a pretty hard time.