Eulogy.

My mom’s memorial service was on January 3, 2019. I wrote this eulogy and planned to read it. In the end, I spoke freely and only used this as a guide. I added some things. I left out others. I’m not really sure what exactly I said, but I think my mom would have been proud.

How do I put into words how much my mom means to me? I have been grieving her in pieces for so long now. It doesn’t seem real that she is actually gone.

When I think of my childhood, my mom is in every part of it. She was a stay-at-home mom during my early years. I am so grateful for that. She took me to preschool. She was a room mom. She was my softball coach and Brownie leader. Sometimes she was even my substitute teacher. My friends and classmates loved her as much as I did. Our house, no matter where we lived, was always full of kids. I’m sure we drove my mom absolutely crazy, but we loved it and I think she did, too.

My mom loved to travel. My parents took my brothers and I on a yearly vacation, usually to the beach, but once to Disney World and another time to Texas. We even went to Hawaii when I was 11. I didn’t realize at the time just how fortunate we were to take those kinds of trips. Even though my brothers and I usually spent most of the trip fighting, we saw some incredible places and made lots of memories as a family. 

My parents also went on frequent vacations alone. As a kid I didn’t understand why I didn’t get to go, too. Now I am so thankful for the example my parents set of loving your spouse even more than your kids. They took time away just for them. They traveled to the Bahamas and Las Vegas. They survived a hurricane in Cozumel. They went back to Hawaii twice and I’m sure had much more relaxing trips than with three kids in tow. They went to Spain, France, and Germany. Even though my mom was already showing signs of her illness, they took the RV trip out west when my dad retired. I’m so glad they took that trip.

Life with my mom wasn’t always easy. I have my mom’s stubbornness and quick wit, so my teen years were interesting to say the least. One time she called me a bitch. Without flinching, I told her it was hereditary. She was SO MAD, but years later we laughed about it. I still think it was an awesome comeback.

At some point during college or maybe after, my mom became my best friend. I called her multiple times per day. Sometimes it was just to chat. Sometimes I needed life advice, or boy advice, or career advice, or money. My mom was usually right. I could have been spared a lot of heartache in my teens and early twenties if I had just listened to her.

My mom loved to go out to lunch and to the movies. It was one of her favorite things to do with her friends, and thankfully she enjoyed sharing that love with me. We saw many movies together over the years and always got popcorn with extra butter. Even in the later stages of her disease, my mom still enjoyed going to the movies. While her tastes evolved from romantic comedies to those a little cruder, I’m glad I was still able to share that with her.

I first noticed that something was wrong with my mom over ten years ago. It was the same week I discovered I was pregnant with Anna. I always thought I would have my mom with me as a mom. I thought she would be able to be a Grandma to my kids the way her mom was to me. While my mom was able to be that kind of Grandma for a little while, her disease made that increasingly difficult as the years passed. For a long time that made me angry. Now I realize that she taught me how to be a mom. If I can be a mom to my kids the way she was to me, they’ll be okay. We will be okay.

The last few months of my mom’s life were incredibly difficult. While the circumstances were pretty terrible, I am thankful I was able to spend that time with her. My mom didn’t know who I was toward the end, but she knew that she loved me and told me so every time I saw her. I am so thankful for the hugs and love she showed me in her last few weeks.

I miss my mom terribly. Even though her life here was way too short, I am so thankful that she was my mom.

Peace.

It has taken me more than three months to gain the courage to write about the day my mom passed away. My grief is still fresh and real, and reliving those final moments will not be easy.

My mom passed away just before 5 pm on Friday, December 21, 2018. She had been under hospice care for a month. A few days prior, her hospice nurse told us the end was near.

On Thursday afternoon, I was at her side with no plans to leave until she took her final breath. I kneeled beside her bed, I held her hand, I told her how much I love her. My dad and I stayed through the night, taking turns sitting by her side while the other tried to grab a few moments of sleep. Every time she coughed or moaned, I was on high alert.

By Friday morning, my body and mind were exhausted. I stretched out on the floor next to her bed to try to get comfortable. My eyes were red and swollen from crying and lack of sleep. My mom was still with us.

By the afternoon, my dad and my mom’s care team encouraged me to go home. While I didn’t want to leave, a small part of me wondered if my mom was waiting on me to leave to pass. I kissed her, told her how much I love her, and told her it was okay to go. With tears in my eyes, I left.

At home, I tried to take a nap. My sleep was fitful and broken. My husband and kids were watching the movie Prancer in the living room. A little before 5 pm, I awoke to the sounds of a choir singing How Great Thou Art. Though it was coming from the movie playing in the other room, a part of me knew in that moment that my mom was gone. A short time later, my dad called and told me my mom died just before 5 pm.

After his call, I was filled with a sense of peace. I can’t begin to describe it, and I haven’t felt that way again since the evening my mom died. I quickly showered and got ready to go be with my dad. When I got in my car, Lauren Daigle’s song You Say was on the radio. Since I listen to a mainstream station (Sirius XM’s The Pulse), the timing of the song felt like it was from God. It was exactly what I needed in that moment: a reminder that I am strong, loved, and held by Him.

Wanting to listen to that song over and over on the drive to Trinity Hills, I opened Spotify, looked up the song, and hit repeat. The next song wasn’t You Say, though. It was Rescue. Those lyrics? “I will send out an army to find you, in the middle of the darkest night, it’s true, I will rescue you.” Only God could send me those words in my darkest hour.

Look Up Child came on next. “Where are You now when darkness seems to win? Where are You now when the world is crumbling? Look up child.” But God.

Still Rolling Stones was next, followed by This Girl. Both songs filled with the words I needed in that moment.

As I pulled into the driveway of Trinity Hills, Trust in You began to play. Trust in You, the song I have clung to the past few years. The song that helped me through my mom’s diagnosis and decline. “When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move. When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through. When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You. I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.” I hear you, God. I hear you.

I stayed in my car until the final chords of Trust in You faded. I closed my eyes, prayed, and took a deep breath. I then walked inside knowing that even though the next few hours were the toughest I might ever face, I could do it. God was with me. God IS with me.

She’s gone.

My mom died.

It was expected and sudden, anticipated and shocking. She’s gone. I miss her.

In August of 2015, my mom was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD). In the fall of 2017, that diagnosis changed to Alzheimer’s disease. On December 21, 2018, the cruel disease of dementia took the final piece of my mom away.

It’s been a little more than three months since she died. It’s been even longer than that since I’ve had a conversation with her. While dementia stole my mom away from me little by little and piece by piece for more than ten years, I was not ready for the immense pain that came when dementia finally stole her physically from me as well.

Some days I think that I’m going to be okay. Most days I feel like I’m barely hanging on by a thread. I call the day a win if I get out of bed. It’s a double win if I put on real pants (hello, comfy pj pants). My house is a mess, I can count on one hand how many meals I’ve cooked for my family, and the mountain of laundry growing in the hallway is beginning to creep into the kitchen. I just can’t get motivated. I know what I need to do, but I just can’t seem to do it.

I know my mom is in a better place. She’s no longer suffering. I know this. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much to miss her.

My daughter signed up for Facebook. She’s 8.

I awoke yesterday morning to a text message from a friend. She had attached a screenshot of a Facebook profile bearing my daughter’s name and asked if it was my kid. I responded that I didn’t know, but I would find out.

I immediately called my daughter downstairs. I asked her point blank if she was on Facebook. She denied it (of course). So I did what any parent would do: I demanded that she bring me her iPad for an inspection RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

I locked myself into my bedroom and began with her Safari history. It was what you’d probably imagine an 8 year old girl’s browsing history would be: Google searches of lyrics to Taylor Swift songs, the states in alphabetical order, Minecraft EVERYTHING. Facebook, though, wasn’t listed. Interesting.

I moved on to her inbox. We recently set up iCloud accounts for both kids, which includes an iCloud email address. (Previously, my daughter used my iCloud login on her iPad, so when she discovered iMessage and started sending texts to everyone in my contact list full of poop emojis and requests for Starbucks, they thought those messages were from me. Not cool, kid. Not cool.) And there it was, in her inbox: an email confirmation from Facebook.

OMG. MY KID IS ON FACEBOOK. SHE IS EIGHT!

I went straight to Facebook.com. There it was, logged in. No profile picture or activity, but her name and date of birth. The year? 1991. Say what?!? My 8 year old was suddenly 26 years old.

Since she had already denied having a Facebook account, I did what any concerned parent would do. Delete it immediately? No way! I sent my kid a friend request. And then I texted my husband and had him send her one, too. Nothing says “you got caught” like friend requests from Mommy and Daddy.

After that, I set up strict parental controls and gave her the iPad back. I didn’t say a word about the Facebook page. Neither did she. She asked if she was in trouble. I told her we would talk about it when her daddy got home. She went back to ridiculously annoying YouTube videos, and I continued with the laundry.

As the day went on, she accepted my friend request. Then she accepted my husband’s. Then apparently she received a friend request from my dad and accepted that, too. We still did not talk about it.

Fast forward to dinner. We were sitting over a home cooked meal that my kids were actually eating without complaints (that’s a whole other blog for another day). My husband asked my daughter about her day. Then we both thanked her for accepting our friend requests. Her eyes got big. Her face turned red. BUSTED!

We started by addressing the lying. Did she lie when I asked her if she was on Facebook? Did she have to lie about her birthday to set up the account? We talked about how lying is bad, how we need to be able to trust her, yada yada yada. You know the drill. I don’t need to tell you about lying.

Then we discussed internet safety, why she’s too young for Facebook, how if she does something like this again the iPad will be gone for good, etc. She knows that we will be checking her iPad frequently and unannounced. My son and the neighbor kid got a good lecture on how to be safe online, too. It was a fun dinner.

Y’all, I knew this day was coming. I knew she would want to be on Facebook and other forms of social media. I just really didn’t expect it quite this young. If parenting is this fun at 8, what’s it going to be like when she’s a teenager? Pray for us please.

P.S. Her account has been deleted.

Let’s try this again.

I’m baaaaaaack!

Did you miss me?

Go on, you can admit it. You know you did. I missed you, too.

I started this blog two years ago this month. Writing was easy, and it was fun to see my words on the screen. For three months or so, I wrote frequently. Some of it was even kind of good. A few of my pieces were featured on BlogHer. This blogging thing was working.

Then, the diagnosis came. In August of 2015, a name was finally given to the disease that was slowly stealing my mom from us. It wasn’t Alzheimer’s like we were (sort of) expecting. Instead, it was Frontotemporal Dementia, an especially cruel form of dementia that has erased so much of who my mom is.

The words that so easily flowed earlier that summer came to a sudden, screeching halt. Every time I sat at my computer to write, I just couldn’t. All I wanted to write about was my mom. I finally did that October, but after that I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Eventually, technical issues led to the demise of this page. I was able to recover some, but not all, of my posts. I will slowly be posting those here and backdating them to their original publication dates. Please be patient with me, though. Starting a blog and maintaining a blog is MUCH easier than re-doing a blog.

I’m ready to start writing again. My kids have changed a lot in two years, and I know you just can’t wait for my takes on Minecraft, YouTube, and pee ALL OVER the bathroom. It’s summer, so I’m sure they’ll treat me to lots of inspiration over the coming weeks.

Are you ready? I am!

My mom.

Remember that post a few months ago where I said there was a reason for my writer’s block, but I couldn’t share it yet? I think it’s time to write about it.
I have started writing this post so many times. I have typed words, deleted them, typed more words, and then saved the draft for later. I have stared at my computer screen and cried, I have yelled, and I have cried some more.

My mom has Frontotemporal Dementia (or FTD for short).

If you’re my friend on Facebook, you may have read some of the FTD facts I posted last week for World FTD Awareness Week. I was vague (on purpose) about who my affected “loved one” was. In fancy medical terms, FTD is a degenerative brain disease that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. You can read more about it online, but the main thing you should know is it is a horrible, terrible disease that steals the person you love from you little by little.

The diagnosis was official in August, but we’ve known that there was something wrong for a long time. It started off with small things, like repeated questions and misplaced objects. It gradually progressed until we couldn’t ignore it or run from it anymore. I thought that I would be relieved to finally know what was wrong, to have a name for the disease afflicting my mom. Having a name gave me a term to type into Google. Google led me to a plethora of articles, medical journals, caregiver blogs, etc. Reading about this horrible disease and its progression and inevitable end quickly turned my relief into an abundance of other emotions. There is no cure for FTD.

I am angry. I want to yell and throw things. I have used a lot of profanity. I have not been a person you want to be around, and quite frankly that’s okay. I haven’t really wanted to be around people anyway.

I am sad. I can’t talk about it without crying. I have tears streaming down my face as I write this. I want to lay in bed all day and sleep. If I just pull the covers over my head and take a nap, I don’t have to think about it.

I am jealous. I’m so envious of my friends with healthy mothers. My mom is my best friend. I used to call her multiple times per day, just to check in and see how she was doing. We could chat about anything. Now, the phone calls are shorter and less frequent. It’s hard for her to follow conversations, especially over the phone. It’s too painful for me to talk to her, so selfishly I don’t call as often. I crave a close relationship with my mom again, but this stupid disease is standing in the way.

I feel guilty. Guilty for not calling, or being there like I should be for her and my dad. It’s hard to push my own pain aside, but I’m trying.

The worst part of FTD is knowing that there is no cure. No one survives this disease. I felt awful to say it out loud, but I asked my husband recently why it couldn’t be cancer. At least with cancer, you can fight it. There’s a chance. There is no chance with FTD. It will continue to steal my mother away every single day.

I usually close my blog posts with some sort of happy ending, or a positive note. What can I say here? There is no bright side to FTD. I hate this damn disease.

Please stop falling for Facebook scams.

It seems Facebook has once again been inundated by contests and promotions encouraging otherwise intelligent people to share posts and tag friends, all in the name of winning a dream vacation (or car, or boat, or gift card, or box of kittens, etc).

Maybe it’s because I’m a skeptic at heart, but I’ve never fallen for one of these. They’re just so obviously scams. Why is it that people that I thought had common sense continually fall for them?

Let’s make a few things clear. Walt-Disney.World is not a legitimate page. Neither is Disney-Cruise-Line or any other page with misspellings or incorrect usage of punctuation in the title. Shocking, right? If the contest or giveaway seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s another easy way to spot a fake. If the post has numerous grammatical errors and misspelled words, it’s a fake. Believe it or not, but legitimate companies hire people to post on social media. It is their job to post on Facebook.

Somehow I don’t think the Walt Disney Company (or Land Rover, or Six Flags, or Target, etc) would pay someone to represent the company on social media who doesn’t have at least a basic grasp of English composition. Do you?

So, how do you know if a page is legitimate or not? Facebook actually makes it very easy because Facebook verifies pages for us! Crazy, right? If Facebook has verified a page, there will be a blue check mark next to the page title. Here is an example of a Facebook search for Disney Cruise:

It really is quite simple to spot a fake. I could go into all of the reasons why “liking” and “sharing” fake pages is a bad idea, but I won’t. There are plenty of other blogs and news stories dedicated to that.

If I have prevented at least one friend from embarrassing herself by sharing a fake page on Facebook, then my time spent writing this post has been worth it.

How to annoy your Facebook friends in 9 easy steps.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I am growing increasingly tired of the constant commercial that is Facebook these days. It seems like I can’t sign on to my News Feed anymore without being blasted with before and after pictures (eww, panties! Why are they ALWAYS in their panties?), pictures of “free” luxury cars, and invitations to Facebook parties. I like my friends, and I like Facebook, but can I just say it?

Enough is enough! Please just stop!

In light of my current frustration with Facebook, I present to you 9 simple steps to annoy your Facebook friends.

Step 1: Send a friend request to every person that Facebook suggests you may know. Never met them in person or even heard their name? No problem. Facebook said you might know them, so they obviously are just waiting to be your forever friend on Facebook.

Step 2: Immediately add all of your new friends to your super-exclusive Facebook group. Don’t have a Facebook group? No problem. You can create one.

Step 3: Inundate your new Facebook group with your sales pitch for the life-changing product that they absolutely cannot live without. Post pictures and personal testimonies about Product XYZ. Bonus points if you include a post about how your friend’s cousin’s best friend’s mother-in-law made 6 figures in 3 months just by sharing Product XYZ. Cut and paste all of the same posts to your personal Facebook page. If people aren’t reading about it in your super-exclusive group, they can read about it on their News Feed.

Step 4: When your friends post a status or picture, immediately comment about how Product XYZ can help. It doesn’t matter what the original post is about. Product XYZ changes lives! Weird rash on your child’s belly? Just rub XYZ on it 3 times a day and it will be cured! Cat run away? Product XYZ will help! Marriage in trouble? XYZ to the rescue!

Step 5: When your friends ignore your constant sales pitches (because they will), start sending private messages. Bonus points if it’s in a group message to your entire friends list.

Step 6: Invite your entire friends list to your Facebook party. They can “party” in their jammies and you don’t even have to clean your house or buy food. How great is that?!? Cut and paste your sales pitch from your Facebook group and personal profile onto the event page.

Step 7: Continue to post about Product XYZ approximately 742 times per day for the next 2-3 months. See your Facebook friends list dwindle as people unfriend and block you.

Step 8: Realize that Product XYZ is not the right product for you (i.e. you didn’t get rich fast enough).

Step 9: Sign up with Company ABC and repeat steps 1-8.

So, there you have it. How to annoy your Facebook friends in 9 easy steps. Now, before you get upset with me and accuse me of not being supportive, please hear this. I am in direct sales. I have been for almost 6 years. It’s how I’m able to be a stay-at-home mom. I respect and support ANYONE who is trying to make a living and provide for themselves and/or their family. I really do. I just feel like there is a much better way to go about it. What happened to the personal touch? Or building relationships? If you want to have a Facebook group to promote your business, then go for it! Just ASK people if they would like to be a part of it before you automatically add them to the group.
Want to post about your product on your personal profile? Awesome! Just limit how many times a day you post about it. I still want to see pictures of your cute kid, or pets, or beach trip. I bet your other friends do, too.

It is possible to have a thriving business without being a spammer. Give it a try. I think you’ll like the results.

Just please remember this: If your picture involves panties, JUST SAY NO TO POSTING IT!