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by Judy
July 4, 2015

I knew this day would come…my mother dying…and after all she was 99 years old and more than ready to go. I was relieved that she died so easily and still I wanted her just a little bit longer. No doubt that would always be the case. I had been with her “nonstop” for three years and before that, off and on, with the 'on' getting longer and longer, for another three years. It was like a love affair where I no longer always knew who was daughter and who was mother – we were both and neither.

Five days after my mom died, as I woke up in the...

Honoring Judy and Selma

by Andrea
June 28, 2015

I really don’t know where to begin. I feel at a loss for words. A big silence fills me at this time. In this silent space the essence of a love so sweet and tender vibrates like the mesmerizing shimmer of light on a soft lake at dusk. It is hard to move, to think, to do anything. Only to be still, and to allow a new chapter to wash over.

As many of you know (and some of you may not), Judy’s 99-year old mother Selma passed away last week. She passed peacefully in the middle of the night. Judy was there, enormously grateful for her mom’s...

When the table turns: the long good-bye

by Judy
June 21, 2015

The last leg of the journey – that’s what I am on now with my mom. It’s been six years since my mom lost her independence after going into hospital with a restricted aortic valve and I have recently brought in home hospice. My mother is not recovering from the cold she caught three weeks ago. She is drinking and eating almost nothing – just doesn’t have the strength anymore. She is so very tired.

It really is a shifting landscape of feelings, responses – swings between beautiful tender raw moments and then the agonizing moments of agitation...

essay by Andrea Hurley: beauty and the magic of undistracted time

by Andrea
June 14, 2015

To me my mother is beautiful. Ninety-seven years old and beautiful. I tell her this almost every time I see her. As these simple words penetrate her heart, she usually smiles softly and expresses a bit of disbelief—as if it surprises her every time. My mother probably does not expect to hear these words. She may not hear them often from others. She probably does not think of herself as beautiful, not at 97 years old. As I expressed in my last essay, we...

by Judy
June 7, 2015

Recently I read Dr. Oliver Sack’s autobiography called “On the Move.” I had never actually read any of his previous books although I knew about them. It still amazes me how close we can feel to another individual who we have never met and yet through their words and heartfelt vulnerability, they become part of our lives. They become our “friends.” Also this is a doctor of neurology who managed to connect very deeply with his patients out of his curiosity and very human care. And he shared his findings, through his writings, with the whole world -...

when the table turns: gratitude

by Judy
May 25, 2015

Thinking about what we might call the status quo, when there does not seem to be any change one way or another - perhaps small changes but nothing that big - and how often we can start to take this for granted. I am thinking in this case in relationship to living and helping to care for my elderly mother. Yes, there are moments that are difficult, but on the whole it's been pretty even. Yes, my mom is getting less engaged in general; yes, there are times like yesterday when it is difficult – no food pleases her and she “blames” it on us and does...

looking inside, changing mindsets, and creating a new future together

by Andrea
May 21, 2015

This past weekend I went to the birthday party of my friend, Joe, who just turned 95. Joe lives in the historic Beacon Hill area of Boston. He still drives, travels, teaches, writes (currently working on a book) and goes often to the theater, symphony and opera. Joe has lots of interesting friends from many different circles. Rare in his capacity to retain his memories and engage in thoughtful conversation, Joe breaks the spell of what most of us would believe possible as we march on toward our elderly years. At the celebration of his ninetieth...

by Judy
May 11, 2015

I am presently in the middle of reading David Brooks' latest book called, “The Road to Character.” It's very inspiring. Brooks speaks about what we value in our life and differentiates between what he calls “resume” virtues and “eulogy” virtues. For example, at the end of someone’s life, what do we value about that person? Is it what they accomplished in terms of career, status or fame (resume virtues) or is it much more to do with their character, their qualities of kindness, goodness, integrity; what kind of relationships they formed? (eulogy...

by Judy
April 26, 2015

Although I don’t have any grand statements to make, I do want to give words to and honor my mom’s 99th birthday that happened just a few days ago. To be sure, it does feel like quite a milestone that she has reached this age after having a stroke almost three years ago. Since surviving the stroke, her level of engagement has gotten less and less and even a year ago, my mother felt she was imminently leaving this world. It shows yet again that we just don’t know…we don’t know when the “hand of our maker” is taking us from this earthly...

by Judy
April 12, 2015

There is a power in communion. Yes, when I write, so much gets revealed, but there is a particular power in communion, in sharing together, in being transparent about our experience in relationship to caregiving, to life, death, aging…to Alzheimer’s. Our transparency touches the other whether it fits our own experience or not, still it resonates and that has an effect way beyond what we could imagine.

Today there were only three of us in our Caregiver’s Virtual Circle; Andrea, myself and one other woman, and we went deeper into each person...