My Mother-In-Law Passed Away

Nana with  my father-in-law and Fabgrandpa in July of 1949

Nana with my father-in-law and Fabgrandpa in July of 1949

The week before I went to Destin, we got a call from Fabgrandpa’s  younger brother telling us that Nana was in the hospital again. He said her kidneys were shutting down, and that it didn’t look good for her. We drove up to Gainesville, Georgia to the hospital, to visit her.

She told me she was ready to go. She did not want any more blood drawn, no more medications given, no more IV’s. She just wanted to go. We talked about how she didn’t think it would be so hard to die. She said she had always thought that when the time came, all she would have to do would be to just tell her body she was ready to go, but it didn’t work like that. Then she laughed a bit, and said she knew it really wasn’t like that but that she was ready.

I told her that she had lived a long, productive, meaningful life. She had raised four sons who were kind, loving, helpful, and respectful to their wives, and who loved her very much. That she had nothing at all to regret, and that while I would miss her and grieve for her, that she had been in pain and had suffered enough. That it was ok to go.

With Poppa in 1993 at our house.

With Poppa in 1993 at our house.

Fabgrandpa and I told Nana we were going to the cafeteria to get some lunch. She said “I won’t be here when you get back.” But she was. We talked a little more, then the doctor came in and gave her a powerful pain med, and she drifted off to sleep. Arrangements were made to move her back home and into hospice care.

I got the call on Saturday morning from Fabgrandpa while I was in Destin. Nana passed away in her sleep at home Cleveland, Georgia. She was ready.

Nana with three of her sons last year at Poppa's Celebration of Life.

Nana with three of her sons last year at Poppa’s Celebration of Life.

It was her wish, the same as Poppa, to not have a funeral. She did want to have a viewing at the funeral home, so we went back up to Cleveland on Tuesday. After the viewing, she was cremated per her wishes. Then, on Saturday, September 19, we all gathered at her home in Cleveland for a Celebration of Life. It was the last time that we will make that journey, to their house, to Cleveland, as a family. I am sad that Nana is gone, and sad that that part of us is gone forever.

Making Your Care Wishes Known: Taking the Time to Plan

This post is sponsored by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

“According to a national survey by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, more than 90 percent of people think it’s important to talk about their loved ones’ and their own wishes for end-of-life care, but fewer than 30 percent of people have actually had the conversation. “

This subject couldn’t have crossed my desk at more opportune time. I was reading my email on my phone while I was sitting at the hospital where my mother-in-law lay dying of kidney failure.  I know we had discussed this issue several times in the past, she and I, both in private conversations and in talks with other family members present. The problem we had at this precise moment, though, is that nothing had been written down on paper.

pamphlet_1

When the doctor came in and talked with my brother-in-law, my husband, my daughter, and me, the question came up as to why they were still doing tests, still drawing blood, still offering medications, when we had been told that there was nothing that could help her at this point. The doctor’s answer stunned me: “She has not told us that she does not wish to be resuscitated. As long as there is no notation on her medical records, we HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING we can to keep her alive.” Mom told the doctor right then that she did NOT want any more medications, did NOT want to be resuscitated, and did NOT want to prolong the inevitable.

If you and or your family members are included in the many people who simply haven’t gotten around to talking about what your wishes are for  your care at the end of your life, now is the time to start the conversation. Today. Or the next time you are together. Taking the necessary steps to crystallize what you and they want and formalizing it is sometimes a hard conversation to have. Sometimes it’s because people don’t know how to start the conversation with their loved ones.

It doesn’t have to be that hard. It can be made easier if you start the conversation by talking about what YOU want in the event you are hospitalized with a life threatening or terminal illness, and couldn’t verbalize what you wanted to happen to you. Here are some simple steps, suggested by James Mittelberger, M.D., Director and Chief Medical Officer, Optum Center for Palliative and Supportive Care:

  • Start with your loved ones. Honest communication can help families avoid the stress of guessing what a family member would want. You may find that you and your loved ones may see some things differently. That’s okay. It is most important that your loved ones know how you want to be treated and are willing to respect your wishes. Decide who you prefer to make decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to express your choice.

 

  • Think about what is most important to you. What are your greatest fears, hopes and goals? What do you most care about? Most people can be effectively treated for pain, but how much do you want to be at home; or avoid being on a breathing machine; or being dependent in a nursing home? How sure are you of your choices? Do you want your chosen proxy to have leeway to change your decisions? Discuss these topics with your loved ones to reach a shared understanding of your desires.

 

 

  • Make it official. Once you’ve had the conversation, it is essential to formalize your decisions by putting them in writing. Complete an advance directive. Special medical orders can be developed with your doctors to represent your care decisions for providers. Finally, assigning a health care proxy or agent identifies the person you trust to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions or communicate your wishes. Be sure to share your documents with your providers and your proxy, and to have copies available in case they are needed.

While it is still a difficult thing to arrange for hospice care for someone you love, it is better to know in advance that that is what they want for themselves. Take the time to start the conversation with your family, including everyone who is over the age of eighteen. End of life care is not just for the very old. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, so get everyone’s wishes down on paper today.

J. Mittleberger, M.D.

J. Mittleberger, M.D.

 

Dr. James Mittelberger is the Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer of Optum’s Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. Optum’s Center for Palliative and Supportive Care brings together industry experts and Optum capabilities to lead the advancement of palliative and supportive care to ensure every patient facing serious illness lives their best possible life.

Tada! Nana’s Wire Wrapped Jewelry Is On Etsy!

Nana and Poppa in 1992

The last time we visited with my mother and father in law, Nana asked me to take some of the wire wrapped jewelry she makes home with me and put it for sale in my shop. It only took me three months, but I finally got time yesterday to take pictures of each individual piece, measure them, and write a description so that I could upload them to my Etsy shop.  Yes, it is a time consuming process, but something I feel honored to be able to do for my in-laws. They have been wonderful to me over the 18 years that FabGrandpa and I have been married, so it is nice to be able to do something nice for them.

Nana at home in April 2010

Nana and Poppa both make jewelry. They used to go all over in their motorhome, doing craft shows and selling their beautiful pieces. They haven’t been able to travel in a number of years, so they haven’t had anywhere to sell what they make.

Poppa relaxing in his chair April 2010

I only have the first 10 pieces listed so far, but more are coming, just as soon as I have a minute to get them posted. Yesterday when I was taking pictures, the battery died in my camera. It is charging right now, and later today I am going outside for another photo session.

Take a look at all the other entries at the I Made It! Blog Party at Everything Etsy:

I Love A Vacation IV

We left Douglasville on Friday morning, headed up to north Georgia to visit FabGrandpa’s Mom and Dad. On the way, we saw this:

In case you can’t see what it, it says, “Caution! Live Venomous Cargo”. No way could you ever get me in that van. I would be so creeped out, wondering if the “venomous cargo” was going to escape whatever cage it was in.

So, we made it up to the mountains with no bites. We had a nice visit with Nana and Poppa. We had planned to take them out to eat, but they had planned to take us. So we all went out to the chinese place in town. It was good, as usual.

Poppa resting in his recliner.

I took Nana one of the tote bags I had made for her birthday. We took some measurements of her walker so I could modify the bag so it will attach to the front of it. She was very pleased with this.

Nana

I added three straps that fasten with 3″ velcro to one side of the bag:

Straps added to the modified tote bag.

I only mailed it to her yesterday, so I will have to wait until she gets it to see if it works like we wanted it to.

Nana makes wire wrapped jewelry, but because she no longer is able to go to the craft shows, she has no outlet to sell what she makes. She gave me a bag full of things she made to bring home with me. I am going to be making a page for her in my shop here at FabGrandma in the next few days. Look for her shop page soon!

Nana's jewelry.

Poppa does some silversmithing, too. He has one set of a pendant and earrings that are sterling silver with amethyst stones. He’d like to get $300 for the set, if anyone wants it, let me know. I’ll be putting it for sale on Nana’s page, too.

Poppa's sterling silver pendant and earrings set.

My favorite thing that Poppa makes are these so cute birthstone ring charms. They are made with synthetic birthstones, and are intended to wear on a necklace. I have one for each of my children and grandchildren’s birth months. Every time I wear my necklace with them on it, everyone who sees them wants to know where I got them. Well, my father-in-law made them for me. Now, as soon as I get that page made, you can get yours:

Birthstone ring charms.

We only got to spend one night with the folks. We enjoyed their company, and made plans to go back for 2 or 3 days when we come back next winter. We drove back down to Douglasville, where we spent one last night at the Holiday Inn.  Becky came over after she got off work, and we all went to the movies and saw ‘Alice In Wonderland’. I loved the movie, but I love anything with Johnny Depp.

After the movie, I met another old friend, Sue. She picked me up outside the movies, and while FabGrandpa and Becky went back to the motel for a visit, Sue and I went out for a drink:

Me and Sue at Topps Bar and Grill

Two is my limit, especially when it is tequila shots! Yes, I have to have mine with salt and a slice of lime. Our visit was way too short–I haven’t seen Sue in more than 18 years, but again, it was like we had just seen each other last week. I hope next time we go to town I can have a longer visit. She was a girl scout leader when I was the service unit director for girl scouts in my county. We talked about having a girl scout reunion, and inviting all the girls who were in our troops back then. Wouldn’t that be fun??

So, now we are back home, getting ready to head west next week. We’ll be taking I-40 from Memphis to Flagstaff, and spending 4 or 5 days in Flagstaff before heading up the plateau to go to work. I am really looking forward to the trip. It’s already getting hot here in Alabama.

Not Feeling Well

I haven’t been sick with a cold in I can’t remember when. Kidney stones, arthritis pain, that persistent lump in my arm? yeah, all those, and I can still function. But this head cold? has knocked me on my butt.

I slept most of the way home from Georgia on Sunday. Then, I slept the day away yesterday and today. I took some of that “effervescent cold relief” medicine. That stuff tastes horrible, and makes me sleep even more. So, all the news I want to tell you about will have to wait until I am feeling better. I have lots to tell about my vacation, about seeing my friends and family, about seeing my in-laws up in the north Georgia mountains. But for now, I can barely keep my eyes open.  I have so much to do: I have a mountain of laundry; need to go through cabinets and drawers; I need to start putting things away in preparation for going to Arizona in 13 days.

But the most important thing I need to do is make a page in my shop for my mother-in-law’s jewelry. That is coming soon, as soon as I can stay awake long enough to do it. She is very excited to have an outlet to sell the things she has made. Stay tuned, it is coming soon.

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Recipe



On one of the yahoo groups I am on, one of the ladies there calls her husband’s mother her mother-in-love. I like that designation , so I am officially stealing it for my own husband’s mother. My mother -in-love, Virginia, had her birthday last week. To help her celebrate, Jim and I cooked dinner and took it over to her house. Well, Ingle’s Supermarket made the rotisserie chicken, but I made the rest.

In addition to the chicken, we had gluten free macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and a pretty good gluten free carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I don’t have any pictures of the food, but here are the recipes I used:

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese

2 cups cooked gluten free pasta (I used quinoa elbow macaroni)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 small can evaporated milk
1 small can water
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
1 egg
2 cups grated cheese

Spray an 8″ X 8″ pan with olive oil. Spread the cooked pasta in the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the noodles, and toss to mix together. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add salt and tapioca flour, stirring to cook so it does not burn. Slowly add the milk and water, stirring with a whisk so it won’t be lumpy. When it thickens slightly, add the egg that has been beaten, whisking to stir it in completely. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Pour sauce over the noodles in the pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Place the pan on a cookie sheet, and put into the oven, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir the mixture towards the center, making sure the cooked part in the corners is stirred to the middle. Put back in the oven and bake for another 35 minutes. Remove from oven again, stir again. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Put back in the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

For the carrot cake, I used the recipe on the back of the package of Pamela’s Baking Mix.

1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup Splenda and 1/4 cup sugar)
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2 1/4 cups Pamela’s Baking Mix
1 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Beat oil, eggs, and sugar together, then mix in remaining ingredients. Batter will be very thick. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans or one 8″ X 8″ baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar

Beat cheese and butter together until fluffy. Beat in sugar until well blended. Spread on cooled cake.

I baked this cake a day ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator, covered with aluminum foil. It was a bit dry the next day, but it still tasted good. I would make it again, but serve it the same day.

Oh, and when we went outside to get in the truck to leave, there was the most beautiful moonrise ever. This picture does not do it justice, but here is the best picture I could get of it, so enjoy: (Can you believe that moon?!)