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by Judy
September 21, 2013 

As I reflect back upon the last month with my mom, I feel in some ways her life has gotten more difficult. After having a stroke over fifteen months ago, and not able to walk, she has gone through many phases. At first it was very intense for months – my mother was hardly able to sleep and very emotional, but that all subsided thankfully and for at least a year now, she has been in relatively good spirits.

But lately, perhaps over the last few months, with weakening strength even to keep her head erect for too long, it’s a bumpier...

tribute to grandmother

by Judy
September 6, 2013 

Recently I wrote an essay about my grandmother and it struck me afterwards how one’s lineage gets passed on from one generation to another: from grandmother to mother and then daughter. Each generation passes on certain qualities, values and even personality traits to the next.  Over time I can see how this ancestral line has certain threads; ways of being that both overlap and also diverge in new and different directions. One consistent thread that my mother taught me, by what she said and by example, was to be loyal and care.

I see...

by Judy
August 23, 2013 

After my last essay I received an email from my cousin who wrote at the end “While reading your latest essay, I kept thinking what would your Mom say if she were in a different place and she was able to see clearly how you have dealt with life? It is a tribute to her that you are who you are.”  After reading this I started to think about what my mother taught me and what it even means to be taught, in this case, by one’s mother.

I had always considered myself very different from my mom - she was, in my eyes, dynamic,...

by Judy
August 11, 2013 

I am grateful that the day doesn’t always follow the night; by that I mean that circumstances actually do change and life is not, in many ways, predictable. This thinking is all in relationship with my mom, but of course it could apply to much more than that. Without going into the details, there are certain daily chores that my mom does that have gotten more and more difficult for her to do…simple things like if she sits down on a chair for more than a short time, she can start crying because she is so tired and only wants to...

when the table turns: choosing not tell

by Judy
July 31, 2013 

Thank you for your responses to my last blog about whether to tell an elderly relative about the death of a loved one. It has stimulated me to reflect on this more and also more has happened since I last wrote. What particularly strikes me is how much we don’t want to lie to our loved ones in general and yet it is sometimes more compassionate to lie in cases where suffering will incur and for no real reason. For example, one woman wrote me about her mother and father who both had dementia. When the mother died...

by Judy
July 20, 2013 

I’ve been thinking about a question that I’m sure comes up for many people with regard to telling or not telling an elderly loved one that a dear person close to them has died. Especially when someone is very old, it’s not always an easy answer. You know of course the person will be very upset to hear the news and yet it's important that they know. Are there times when it would be better not to tell them? This question for reflection came up recently with my mom. She had a cousin six years younger than her...

when the table turns: change

by Judy
July 4th, 2013 

Since I started writing this blog, I notice a theme I keep returning to is about change: changes in my mother, myself, in our relationship and in the whole situation. Being in such proximity to my mom every day and also writing so often, I can’t help but be reminded about this. I will read something I wrote only a month ago and realize this is no longer true…yet again the tables are turning. For example these days my mother isn’t laughing as much in that abandoned way that I wrote about and the joking she was doing with Nickey...

when the table turns: old age

by Judy
June 23, 2013 

I recently came across a quote by the late poet May Sarton about old age. It read: “The trouble is, old age is not interesting until one gets there. It’s a foreign country with an unknown language to the young and even to the middle-aged.”

I find this quote so strikingly true. Of course even the concept of “when one is old” has changed so much. Not that long ago, someone in their sixties or seventies would be considered very old and certainly depending upon who is looking, one still...

looking back ...whenthetableturns

by Judy 
June 12, 2013 

Yesterday was a year since my mom had a stroke. Dates like that stick in your consciousness. For awhile, it was very intense. It was like an earthquake that shook my mom’s whole being – months when she could not settle down – not sleeping through the night and in a lot of agitation, physically and emotionally. For me also there was the fast learning curve about strokes, rehabilitation centers, endless contacts with occupational, physical and speech therapists and all the ups and downs one inevitably goes...

by Judy
June 1, 2013

I recently re-read “Fireweed” a political autobiography by the late Dr. Gerda Lerner, who was a pioneer in women’s history. She was also a courageous woman, a refugee from Nazi Austria who in her life and writings “fought” discrimination and fascism in all its forms. At the end of the book, she writes; “We know we must die; we know the world is bad; we know we are corruptible, and yet we act as if it were not so. And as we act, we actually are in the process of changing ourselves and those around us. We are making a future.”