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by Judy
July 21, 2014

Over the past five years in helping to care for my 98 year old mom, I’ve noticed that dramatic change often comes unexpectedly. No doubt there are signs that “foretell” at times this change, but they are not always visible. For example, when my mom had a stroke, there didn’t seem to be any indications beforehand, but of course she did have mini-strokes about three years before this happened and she was 96 years old with aging arteries. From one moment to another, her life radically changed. She went from walking with some aid, still going out to...

a case of amnesia, a blog post by Andrea Hurley

by Andrea
July 15, 2014

Sitting by the lake this morning at 7:00am. The stillness seems to pervade every cell in my body. Barely a ripple in the water. I could stay like this forever, without a desire to go anywhere ever again, mesmerized by a timeless window into eternity. A pair of ducks pass by while a few curious fish gather close by just below the surface. In moments like this the lake and its inhabitants are all mine. Here I sit, blessed by the good life. And then… off in the distance a low rumbling murmur begins. It gets louder and louder...

by Judy
July 7, 2014

Recently I read a beautiful essay by Rachel Macy Stafford, a mother of a six year old, who was constantly telling her child to “hurry up.” She describes her daughter as “a laid-back, carefree, stop-and-smell-the roses type of child” and herself as a type A woman who was constantly on the go. At some point she realized what a detriment it was not to honor her child’s world and vowed never to use the phrase, “hurry up” again and to consciously slow down and let her daughter metaphorically “smell the roses.”

In reading this essay...

breaking the unspoken rule, blog post by Andrea Hurley

by Andrea
June 29, 2014

One of the pleasures in getting to know my mother as an elderly person is the discovery of how she has changed, softened and become more receptive in her senior years. Sometimes she even seems like a new person to me—or that she is the same person and a new person all at the same time. 

I've had to come close to see some of the more subtle changes. My feeling is that if we don’t come close and spend time with a degree of openness in our hearts, we may never see or know who our elderly loved ones are becoming and how they may have changed...

whenthetableturns: care for elderly moms

by Judy
June 23, 2014

Recently I started an essay for my next blog post and even had a title for it, “Night and Day.” In it I spoke about how my mom is like two different people. Like the difference between night and day, I wrote, she has these two different faces, voices, mentalities that are particularly pronounced when she is out of the comfort of her bed and when she is in bed. We all have different temperaments, moods, faces depending on internal and external circumstances, but it is very extreme with my mom. I gave the example of going to the...

by Judy
June 9, 2014

“Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter -- to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way, as if we were sitting by a mountain lake and contemplating hills and woods and clouds in the tranquil and fathomless water.” – Albert Schweitzer

I’ve been thinking about music lately and what a profound and Universal effect it has worldwide. Music goes deep into our being - evokes many feelings; memories, nostalgia... uplifts us to heavenly...

whole body listening: a blog post by Andrea Hurley

by Andrea
June 8, 2014

Sometimes I struggle with writers block. When I do, I feel disconnected and empty. And when I try to force something to come, I become like a rebellious child. Refusal. Stubborn refusal. Seems there is nothing I can do about it, with nothing interesting to say, so why bother? Oy. What an attitude! So this morning I have taken myself to a nearby cafe, which is bustling with conversation, spurting with the steamy sound of the the espresso machine, laced with the high pitch voices of playful children—all of this weaving seamlessly with the barely...

when the table turns: getting down to basics

by Judy 
May 26, 2014

My mom had her 98th birthday a few weeks ago. We had a very simple celebration at home. Her dear niece Barbara flew in from California and Pat, her trusted caregiver, and Pat’s daughter and grandchildren came. Mom stayed in bed most of the day and in the afternoon went into the dining room for the birthday cake with lit candles. Nothing too elaborate. That is what she wanted. Barbara had brought a beautiful shawl that had been hand knitted by a good friend of hers who feels a close connection to my mom.

The next day I put a photo...

when you have dreams, blog post by Andrea Hurley: painting by Rita Hurley

by Andrea
May 20, 2014

My relationship with my elderly mother has become a metaphor for my life. It truly has. Several years ago I made an important decision. I decided that I wanted no regrets about my life. As I looked at my life through the rear view mirror, I saw a lot that I could be regretful about—plenty of missed opportunities and wrong turns. And yet somewhere inside I knew it was possible to live a life of no regrets, even with an imperfect past. But how does one do that? How does one live a life of no regrets? 

It was...

by Judy
May 12, 2014

Lately I started thinking about emotional resiliency as a few weeks ago it had been quite intense - a combination of my mom being more unhappy and uncomfortable than usual - so sensitive that even kidding around was often too much for her and having computer difficulties that created ongoing problems. I felt like I had to expand myself to allow for this increased intensity - let it land on a wider, deeper field within.

I have never been particularly patient when having to deal with difficulties. I remember when I was a kid and my...