Tuesday, August 30

Audrey Marie Ducharme

Mom's Eulogy

First I say thank you to all of us for the loving care we gave mom. We all went beyond the call of duty. Kevin’s dedication to keeping mom engaged with laughter helped give mom the fullness of life as long as possible. I thank you Kevin for the sacrifices you made to make mom’s time easier. And thank you to my father for keeping her in the home. You gave Mom such good care during her most critical time including being with her at the end. I am also so thankful for my father’s brother and my uncle and aunt. They were such a support to my father, helping to ease his burden and reminded him to live. A special thank you goes to my husband. His willingness to sacrifice a normal life so that I could care for my mother overwhelms me even now. Night after night I would go to my mother’s while he put the children to bed, cleaned my house and made my life less challenging. Clearly I am a woman that is truly blessed

Please excuse my rambles as I attempt to describe a woman that was so full of life and lived each moment with such climatic energy. Those of you who knew my mother would have described her as one who gave so freely and carelessly, one who thrived in the lime light, and demonstrated a passion in every motion every action of her life. She also was such a beautiful person and we all know that she was exceptionally vain. I can still hear her singing "Oh Lord it’s hard to humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t stand to look in the mirror I get better looking each day. But that vanity is what made everything she did so remarkable. She took such pride in herself, in her actions, in her projects... Many of those projects were children that found their way into our home…From students that she worked with to friends of my brothers and I, to neighborhood children, there was room in her heart for all of us. She became a second mother to so many including my best friend Tori. Tori was fortunate to say her goodbyes just two weeks ago and could not be here to attend. So she asked me to read this to you:

“Although it is far too soon for us to lose someone so special, we must be thankful for the time that we shared. Audrey Marie Ducharme was such an incredible woman. Very few people will ever give to or care for those around them as much as Audrey. She was a good Christian woman, whose heart was full of love and enthusiasm for life. Her spirit was contagious. To hear her laugh could melt one's heart. The joy Audrey brought to others made you want to do the same.

Memories of Audrey could keep one talking for days – from her singing to her joking; she brought so much to so many. Audrey touched many a life by simply giving of herself. She opened her heart and home to everyone she knew. She stood ready, willing and able to help whomever crossed her path in need of assistance. .

She had am immense love for her husband, Frank, and her children, Kim & Kevin, of whom she was extremely proud. Her love, however, extended to her children’s' friends as well. Audrey took them in and loved them as her own. Her home was always a place of love and life. Her dedication to her family was unmatched. She always had time for her family and made the best of every moment. The time we were all fortunate enough to have shared with Audrey and the memories we have will remain in our hearts and minds forever.

Tori is right in saying that my mom touched so many by simply giving. She never thought twice at paying for someone’s entire grocery bill as she was checking out or slipping the waitress an extra twenty just because. She paid it forward throughout her entire life including up to the days of her death. My mother is also remembered for her practical jokes. She loved starting food fights at the dinner table, playing practical jokes on us, holding a glass full of water and unexpectingly throwing it at you. You never knew what to expect from her-she was full of contradictions, intrigue, and extremes. She definitely kept us on our toes.

She also was courageous and fearless. I am forever in awe at the dignity she displayed as she battled this horrific disease. She never forgot what was happening to her-she knew she would not be there for her grandchildren. She knew when she got worse and stayed in control of her alz... She even praised God for giving her alz. She once remarked that God gave her this disease so that she could walk up to a perfect stranger and talk about God. They would let her because they felt bad for her. TO watch yourself degenerate knowing that there is nothing you can do to stop it and that it is only going to get worse has to be so horrific and difficult to handle. Yet she did it with such grace. I will never forget the week she found out. Days before she found out the diagnosis, she was told she had breast cancer and a brain aneurysm. She fought the battle with breast cancer only to find out that the treatments jump started the alz. She fought alz and I consider the battle won. It may have taken away her abilities, her personality, her life, but it did not take her memory…

As a Christian, my mother had a peace about her life and would want us to celebrate her life. She was ready to be with her Maker and no longer has a body that can be destroyed. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15 42-44…

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."

She will have a new body one that cannot be destroyed bit by bit as her old body was. As a believer in Crhsit, my mother will spend her eternity with her Lord and Savior. IT was this faith that carrie d her through times that would have destroyed a lesser person. I cannot help but respect that power.

It will take some time for us to gain some perspective on the meaning of not having her in our life. Right now, my mind is clouded with distressing images of her during her last few motnsh. I believe that as time passes these images will fade and I will remember the essence of my mother. The images that will persist will be of her singing to us each night as children or chasing us around saying Niagra Fall. Mom will always be in our hearts. So much of who I can is directly traced to my mother. So in a way, I am an embodiment of mom, we all are. Because whiel we live, she still lives on. She is all around me and is a part of me. I am relieved that her suffering has eneded and I will let the memories give me peace.

Friday, August 26

At peace

Well our adventure with alzheimer's is officially over. Mom went to be with the Lord today at 12:33 am. I must say that I was pretty prepared or as prepared as one can be. I hope never to experience this again but I am sure that I will. Watching someone you love pass away is horrific-the smells, the sounds, the images will haunt me for a long time. The image of her right now as she lies in the bed just a room over is one that will not easily erase from my memory. She is so cold, so skinny , so lifeless that it is difficult. More later hospice is here.

Monday, August 22

The Long Goodbye

My father made the statement tonight that this is called the long goodbye and it struck me as such a simple and profound way to describe what is happening to my mother and us. Watching someone die is pretty taxing both emotionally and physically. Watching someone who has no idea that they are dying and yet can still communicate is even harder. We ask her how she is feeling and she tells us that she feels that she is getting better. It tears us up not being able to tell her to let go or to say goodbye. And although Hospice tells you to let them see you cry and to let them know they are dying, I guess it is different when you are a patient with Alzheimer's and even different when the patient with Alzheimer's still has her memory (sorta).

So how is she doing. Well not good which I guess is expected considering our only outcome from this ordeal. She has been in bed for two months now and has not eaten anything in 31 days. Her breathing has become more shallow with a few pauses. most noticeably is the sound of her breathing. It seems she has a lot of fluid in her throat and lungs and no longer has the strength to cough it up. She can speak in whispers unless she gets angry-and then she can talk much louder. She is hard to understand partly because she is so quiet and partly because she cannot recall words. She does not move her legs or body at all and has developed bed sores. I am pretty proud that it is only now that she is getting them and hospice said that they are going to get worse since she has no nutrition to help counteract them. She is so skinny-prob around 74 pounds and her skin is translucent. She has a medical smell about her and her breath smells like a hospital room. Thankfully she is still coherent most of the time (when awake) and I think it is due to the fact that she is on oxi not morphine. Tonight she started with some severe hallucinations and I could not figure out what happened. She started to scream and yell at someone and was reassured when I told her that I was there and would protect her. It was something about someone taking something. I managed to get it back for her and she was happy. She did it a few times out of the blue and then would go back to her vacant stare with her mouth open wide staring at the ceiling. She did talk with me for a few minutes and I even got a smile when I told her that Mackenzie starts kindergarten tomorrow. A weird thing happened to my father today and maybe someone knows what this is. Dad had to change mom and noticed that there was some very light pink jelly like material in her diaper. I did not see it but I am thinking some type of mucus from her bowels? Any thoughts.

This entire process is such a difficult thing to endure. I am not sure if the waiting or trying to figure out what is happening is the worse part or watching someone you love no longer able to do anything but lay there. The entire time I am with her, I think about what could have been and how she would have loved the grandchildren. I think of all the kid's extracurricular activities that she won't share and all the sleepovers that won't happen. I think about the fact that it might be me in that bed and am anxiously waiting for the results of the PSN1 test. Mostly I think of how much I am going to miss her and how much I want to hear her say she loves me. I want to have my mom make me supper and give me a hug. I want to hear her say it will be ok and that she will be there for me. Instead I have to be there for her telling her it is ok and that I am there for her. I rub her hair and bath her, I tell her I love her. She is not dead yet and I already miss her. In the late night hours when no body is up and no one can hear, I let the tears fall. I squeeze my fists and crumble wishing I could reverse this disease and bring back my mother.

Like the song in tangled...Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine Make the clock reverse and bring back what once was mine. Heal what once was hurt, change the fates design save what has been lost and bring back what once was mine. what once was mine. I keep hoping if I sing it long enough, maybe just maybe my mother's body and mind will be restored.

Ok well on a slightly morbid yet funny side of this horrible situation: The other night I was explaining everything to Mackenzie about my mother dying. Her response was...Mommy, when Gigi (my mother) dies, can we have her stuffed like you said they could do to kipper (our pet that she wanted to have stuffed so she could keep it with her). Gotta love kids for finding simple solutions and bringing humor into such sadness....

Saturday, August 13

Tori leaves

It is less then three hours before my best friend will leave and I wish there was more time. Not only was it extremely uplifting to have her here, but our children got along better than I ever anticipated. Mom was so happy to see T the first night we went up there. She even let her join our movie night extravagansa. She told T that she loved her which is more than we have gotten in the last few days. Today, T got to bring her children to meet my mom (the little baby especially since mom has never seen him). Joshue (the baby) cooed with mom and was so sweet to her. Mom had a great big smile on her face for a little while.

Mom is not doing so well but according to a new hospice nurse, is not actively dying or if so she is in the early start of it. So I am realizing that these people do not have a better idea about this than the three of us with our knowledge. We are trying to utilize the services but it seems to make things harder rather than easier. Today a gentleman nurse arrives and before he can even greet mom, his phone rings and he states that he will be back in an hour. Three hours pass before he comes back and with his trainer. They kept talking about her dying while she oculd hear. Mom soiled the bed and they did not even offer to help us...Needless to say, Hopsice and I are not seeig eye to eye on many things and tonight they arrived and made mom so agitated that dad had to ask them to leave.

I am trying to type quick so I can go to sleep early so please excuse the lack of detial or information. I will update tomorrow

Wednesday, August 10

Still up and thinking

So it is time for me to go to bed and yet I am still up. I just finished my vocational evaluation on a client and was interrupted a few times by my daughter. She was so silly and cute asking questions and giggling uncontrollably. It made me feel so blessed. I asked her if she wanted to go see Gigi and she had some difficult questions. She is so interested in the dying process and finds it fascinating. Her greatest concern is that she gets to be involved. She understands what is happening but deals with it so matter of factly. She tells me that Gigi cannot do anything and will be with God as a new person. So she is happy. She sees the tears fall out of my eyes and asks me why I am crying. I tell her it is because I am sad that she will never know the real Gigi. That she does not get the experiences with her that she should have had. Kenzie (or M.E.-Emmy as she wants to be called-another story on that after this) does not remember Gigi being able to read to her or buy her sooo many things that it was over kill. She does not remember all the games and will never experience my mother's famous food fights. On the flip side she does not remember Gigi's freak outs and will never had to deal with the mental anguish my mother was so good at bestowing on those she loved the most. I could not help but cry.
Tonight I have cried more than I thought possibly. In fact I am sure my mother noticed because she got upset with me for some reason. She actually said "Kim you just don't know." earlier, she was staring at me and I asked her if she knew who I was. She looked at me with this duuuuh look and raised her hand pretending to slap me. Then she said of course. It was quite humorous. She was extremely restless and agitated tonight. She wanted to say so much and couldn't make it come out.. She is in the active phase of death and it is only a matter of time. I don't want her to live like this but I dont want her to go either. I did not think I would be like this. I thought I would either be emotional or strong but it seems that I am neither. I break down in the solitude of the night and I talk like a robot. i am sure to the casual observer I am cold or calculated because not even a tear grazes my eye. People call me crying and I am the one consoling them. It is funny because I do not want to. I do not want to mourn with anyone except to my husband, my mother in law,my dad, my brother, my uncle rico, my uncle skip, my best friend, and my friends Megan and Summer. Why those few-because they have gone through it from the beginning of the end. They stuck by my mom calling daily or weekly or checking in with her. They let her know how much she meant to them and made her feel special and normal. I can open up with them and feel a special connection. They will always have a spot in my heart for what they did. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart.

About Emmy: Ever since I babysat for Jennifer Gulden, I loved the name M.E (her sister was nicknamed that and I thought it was so unique). When I had a daughter I named her Mackenzie Emma and never realized the initial connection. It wasn't until kenzie was two that i realized Emmy as a nickname but try as I might, she did not like it. Well last week my mother gave Mackenzie this collectors doll and guess the name: Emmy. Mackenzie asked her name and when I told her, she says "that is the name that you liked and it is now my name. I have grown fond of Kenzie and really am having a hard time calling her Emmy-she is not an Emmy so we shall see where this goes. She even went as far as to tell her new school that her name was Emmy not Mackenzie!!!

Tuesday, August 9

Mom is dying

Hospice has been called in now that mom is in and out of our world. SHe still can talk occasionally and has retained her memory. We are blessed that she has not forgotten her sense of humor, her family, and her ability to use sarcasm. We still were ablet o hold on to a bit of the old mom and enjoyed the sensitivity and appreciation of the new mom. Hospice has given her 3-7 days as of Monday, but from the looks of today, she is in the active phase of death. My best friend is on her way down and I just hope she holds on long enough for Tori to say goodby. Thank you T for traveling all this way. You are truly my sister!! I love ya. Anyway, pray for us and my mother as we are traveling this unfamiliar road and pray for Tori for safe travels. I will post a bit more later. I just rather spend time with my children, my husband, brother, father, and mom.

Tuesday, August 2

What words can I type to express my sadness over this...distraught, worried, beside myself, hysterical troubled, worried, upset,flustered, concerned unhappy bothered, anguished tormented, suffered, agnoized tortured grief stricken, sorrowful, angst ridden , heart broken, broken hearted, desolate, despairing, wretched, miserable burdened, pain, hardship, endure, mournful, sad, somber, sorrowful, woeful, doleful,

My heart struggled tonight as I lifted her 83 lb body to the bath tub while she had terror and fear in her eyes and her voice. She quivered as she said why are you doing this to me-after she asked me to bath her so she could hopefully pee in the tub. She has not eaten a full meal since July 20th and her last bite to eat was July 22. She has not had a bowel movement since the 20th and she has not urinated in three days now. She drinks a bit at a time and her breaths per minute are around 21. Her blood pressure is 106/66 with a rate of 116. She has a normal temperature. Her skin is starting to flake, her eyes are vacant glossy and rarely make contact. Her hair is radiant as well as her nails. All movement is jerky and rare. She barely moves. She still wants to maintain conversation but it is difficult as she slurs and can barely move her lips. I am going to miss my mom. I love you mom and wish you did not have to leave us.