Author Archives: Wendy Thomas

About Wendy Thomas

Wendy is a journalist, writer, blogger and teaches writing at Nashua Community College.

The final update

 

During mom’s hospice stay, I sent updates out to the family and friends. I’m sharing this with my online friends because you have been so supportive throughout this journey. Every single message was read and appreciated. Thank you, thank you all. 

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This will be the final update.

Mom/Teddie passed away yesterday at 12:55 p.m. April 28th with Larry, Sue, I, and many members of another patient’s (Nancy) family by her side laughing, joking and telling her that we all loved her. We’ve met many friends on this hospice journey and have discovered that in the end there is enough love for everyone.

Mom was comfortable until her last breath. She didn’t struggle. She simply slipped away when she was ready. She made sure to do it when the sun was shining, the seas were calm, and the birds were out and singing. Mom had told me earlier that she had always wanted to die on a warm sunny day and not in the cold of winter. She got her wish.

It is a testament to mom’s generous spirit that many nurses who had worked with her during her stay came in to say good bye and to give hugs. Word gets out quickly in that place. For one nurse, it was the first time she had ever cried for a patient. That speaks volumes about mom’s character.

Although she was in hospice, mom had a great last 2 months. She made friends, she heard music, saw art, smelled flowers, sat in front of the ocean sound, and shared (literally) buckets of candy with everyone. Mom laughed, watched her favorite shows, and even until the last few days wanted to know about the election results. She lived until she died.

I will be heading back to New Hampshire soon, but this time, instead of saying “Goodbye Mom, see you next week” and leaving her here, I get to bring her back with me in my heart.

We all do.

I wish you all peace and love. Go out and enjoy this fine day we’ve been given. Take care,

Wendy

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join Wendy on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Fair Winds

 

Fair winds. It’s what you wish a sailor who begins a long journey.

Fair winds.

My mother is failing. She sleeps more, she talks less. Last week during my visit I was able to get her outside in the fresh air, near the shore.

The sun shone brilliantly. Gulls laughed as they flew overheard and my mother fell asleep more than once listening to the gentle lull of the incoming tide.

When she could, we talked. We laughed.

And sometimes we simply sat together in silence.

“It’s beautiful,” my mother whispered as a gentle breeze tickled her hair.

Fair winds – it’s the blessing we all wish for when a journey begins. Fair winds mom.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join Wendy on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Well hello “Dolly”

We have a new member of the family (and a new participant in the ever popular internet game of “Find the Puppy.”)

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Find the puppy

This is my mother’s dog that has come to live with our family (along with Pippin and chickens) in New Hampshire. Her name is Dolly and she’s a Tibetan spaniel (yeah, I had never heard about the breed either.) Continue reading

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The least I can do

It’s a grueling schedule, not because of the work – basically I’m sitting in a room for most of the day, but because of the thinking. Far too much thinking that sometimes hits me with the force of an anvil.

Like when a nurse opened a side door in an office (there’s a side door?) and I glanced into a room that had balloons and circus figures painted on the walls above the beds. Of course,… kids die too – hadn’t really thought about that. Wham.

Or when yet another roommate dies. “Honey, I just want to tell you that your roommate passed this afternoon, we’ll take her out of the room after you have your dinner.” Wham.

Or when a newly admitted end of life cancer patient asks me if I can bring her a cup of coffee (just a little cream, please) when I make my mom’s bagel run in the morning. Even very sick people like good coffee. Wham.

I went down to Connecticut a day early last week because I had heard mom had had a bad day on Tuesday. But Wednesday was good. In fact it was really good. When you do well at hospice, they like to talk about sending you to a nursing facility (she is at is a short term hospice facility – not one that is long-term residential (which kind of sounds like an oxymoron to me when you are ultimately talking about end of life.))

“We’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow,” said her Doctor after he examined her. My brother and I have named him Dr. Death – not because he works with hospice patients but because in a discussion he told us that people dying of morphine overdoses is a myth, if someone wanted to die they would overdose on barbiturates. He was trying to assure us about increasing narcotic levels, but still, the nickname was awarded and it stays.

Thursday was bad. Mom could barely get out of bed. Her breathing was labored and her pain increased.

“We’ll see how she’s doing tomorrow,” said Dr. Death. Wham.

Friday morning was good. “Keep this up and you’ll be going to that nursing home in no time,” I told her. Friday afternoon, she tanked – badly.

“This is no way to live, Wendy.” She half whispered to me from her bed surrounded by pillows meant to take some of the pressure off her back.

“I know mom, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s not in my hands. What can I do to make things better for you?”

It’s a question I must ask about a hundred times a day.

“What can I do?”

“What can I do mom?”

“Nothing,” is always her reply.

But I know I can give her company. I can bring her a sesame bagel toasted with cream cheese on the side each morning I’m there. And I can give her comfort by companionship.

We talk about the tides. We talk about the news. We talk about the Ellen show. We talk about a particular nurse that rubbed her wrong. And in the next hour, we talk about all these things again.

And again.

So I continue to go down from New Hampshire to be with my mom in Connecticut from Thursdays to Sundays.

Because it’s the least I can do.

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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What she wants

A story which I think you’ll appreciate is this:

 

I called mom in hospice on Sunday to chat and remind her that her favorite show Meet the Press was on.

 

“Ask for a nurse to help you set up your TV so you can watch it,” I suggested.

 

Later that afternoon, mom called and told me that when she asked the nurse to put on Meet the Press, the nurse (although I think it was really a volunteer or aide) told her that she didn’t want to watch the news, wouldn’t she prefer watching cartoons?

 

My mother said “No, I want to watch Meet the Press.”

Continue reading

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Life goes on

I still have a crazy schedule. 3 days in New Hampshire, 4 days in Connecticut, but it seems to be working out. My mother is still in Hospice and she is comfortable. Every day she has volunteers visit that bring flowers, art projects, company, and music.

I am learning so much about this experience, when the time is right, I’ll definitely be writing about it. Some of it’s bad, most of it is good, and a small part of it is absolutely infuriating. I told mom’s Doctor during a recent discussion that walking through the doors of Hospice is comparable to descending into madness. You never know what you are going to find and rules don’t apply.

Simply put -I had no idea that I didn’t know so much.

There is a brewery (StonyCreek Brewery – if you are near there, stop by) conveniently located down the street from the hospice that will be getting a nice thank you note.  Their staff has pretty much become family to my brother and me and has given us tons of sincere friendly support (not to mention the best coffee beer around.) That’s one of the lessons – you find support in some of the oddest places. Yesterday a man in the grocery store helped me find the spice gumdrops my mother had asked me to bring. Turns out his mom was just diagnosed with ALS. We had a short chat.

Over gumdrops.

You learn to take the little miracles as they come.

But while the Connecticut part of my life continues, my other life in New Hampshire also needs tending to.

  • I have to make plans for that Lyme walk of New Hampshire (185 miles) with my son that is scheduled to begin on May 19th.
  • I’m waaaaay behind on some writing assignments and need to set time aside for those.
  • I have to figure out how to get more exercise in. It turns out that sitting by a bedside for 4 days out of the week is not the greatest thing for joints that are already in bad shape. (My new fitbit is on the way.)
  • I’ve ordered our spring chicks (3 New Hampshire Reds, 3 Barred Rocks, and 3 Wyandottes) They will be arriving early May and I need to get ready for them.
  • And we have to clean house. I’m not talking about our family house (although I sense a huge purge coming on) instead I’m talking about the coop. We use the deep litter method over the winter and we’ll need to move all that composting bedding out of the coop before it gets too warm (and smelly.)  During the last windstorm, part of the roof escaped and this might be the summer to replace all of our chicken wire.

In other words, no matter what happens in the world, life goes on and the best thing you can do is keeping on doing what it is you need to do.

 

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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Filed under Inspiration, Personal, Points to ponder, The Family

Boy, am I learning a lot

 

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As you might know, for the better part of the last 2 weeks, I’ve been with my mother while she is in hospice. Last week was my “spring break” from college and so I was able to be at the hospice for the entire week – couldn’t have planned that one any better if I had tried. My plan going forward is to come back to New Hampshire for Monday – Wednesday to teach my classes and then return to Connecticut for Thursday to Sunday for as long as it takes.

Fortunately I have a flexible schedule where I can swing this. My kids are older and can take care of themselves – although they have wondered what happened to the leprechaun who normally visits our house to leave treats on St. Patrick’s day and now they are *really* getting worried about the Easter Bunny missing our house this year.

(Between you and me, I’m not sure anyone has to worry about a thing for Easter.)

Continue reading

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