Headed for a little vacay

In just a few hours, our original family unit of 4 will be headed out for the bestest vacation of our lives. We’ll be spending a few days ringing in the New Year at Magic Kingdom, then we’re headed out on an Eastern Caribbean Disney Cruise. I. CANNOT. WAIT! This will be our first real vacation in years. We go places, but because Jeff and I own our own business, we’re always checking email and taking phone calls. When you’re cruising, your phones don’t work. And, I didn’t activate international roaming or Cellular at Sea service. We need this time to focus on each other, and have so much fun!

Vacations these days take a little high power coordination. We have to find a place for Grandma and the dog for 10 days. Not to mention needing someone to run our businesses while we’re away. Cutie was a pretty easy fix. The in-laws love us just enough to take our sweet pup for 10 days. That’s a really long time, and they may regret that decision before it’s over, but here’s to pray all goes well!

Grandma is a train wreck. She’s known we’re going on a trip for a week now. We couldn’t tell her before because it was the kids Christmas present, and she’d probably spill the beans. We didn’t really talk about the place she was staying until yesterday. She was not a happy camper. It was a terrible battle. I let it get the best of me, and I acted like a 2 year old. All those lessons I try to teach my kids about you can only control your own attitude, effort, and reactions went out the window. I took the attack for so long, then I retaliated. She was so angry at me for taking a vacation and leaving her, she was angry at her sisters because they wouldn’t let her come there, she was mad at me that I wouldn’t pay someone to stay at the house with her. She needs physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing care on a daily basis. We went to the cardiologist today, and she is retaining fluid again, so she really needs the skilled care environment. But, according to her, I should be ashamed of myself for putting her in a “nursing home”. I really hate it. But, it is the best option. When I was fixing her closet, and making sure she had all she needed today she was giving me down the road about being terrible and should be ashamed that no one loved her or wanted her around. It breaks my heart that the disease has done this to her.

The good part about dementia is, when we get home the chances are slim to none that she remembers staying at the place where everyone but her is crazy and doesn’t know they’re in the world.


I’ll give it a 7 out of 10

Aside from driving all the way from Nashville in torrential down pours, the day turned out pretty good. First thing this morning I got in some sweet snuggle time with the birthday boy. He wanted me to lay in bed with him for “just a few minutes and have lovie”.  We got up and opened his presents from us. Disney Infinity for the Xbox. LK was very excited about the fact that they could use their Magic Bands and Cruise Cards to open secret worlds once we got home. This isn’t something Sam had asked for, but I knew we’d have that fun option, so that is what I decided to get him. Of course, these game makers are genius in that the games have 567 characters that you need to buy to fully play the game.

Sam requested bacon and cheesy eggs for breakfast. So, we fixed breakfast and ate with Papa. GranGran and I got ready and left town around 9:00. Bittersweet moment as I left, leaving the birthday boy behind, and leaving Papa. The kids have really enjoyed him being here the last couple days as they haven’t got to see him much lately. I think it is really hard for him to come visit without mom. It’s a weird dynamic now. But, that’s a whole other post….

I had decided when I got up this morning, if Gran asked about staying in Mayfield, I would just let her pack a bag and hope and pray she forgot about it by the time we got there. She didn’t even mention it. So, then I decided if we got there and she wanted to stay, I’d just say, where’s your bag? By the time we got to North Nashville, she’d already forgot where and why we were going. It was interesting to hear all her stories on the drive. Seems like my family has some wild characters. I kept wondering what of them were actually true.

Once we got to the funeral home she wouldn’t get out of the car without me. Because it was pouring down rain, I wanted to let her off at the curb and then me go park. Even though there was an usher there working, she made me get out and help her. Her brother was coming up, so I told her to walk in with him. She finally decided that was better than getting wet. Once inside, she stuck to me like glue. Seriously, every day she gets more and more like my kids when they were 2. It was sad to see she only recognized a handful of family members. The ones setting beside us, she kept asking who they were. I got tickled at all the commentary of people walking by. The theme was pretty consistently “mercy, they’ve gotten fat.” I can only imagine what they say about me. When I lived in Mayfield, I may have weighed 120 pounds. The numbers are still the same, just in a different order these days. Thankfully, there’s one cousin who “waited until she qualified for medicare” to get pregnant with her first baby, and at 6 months along she looks like she’s delivering twins any day now. Don’t you wish you were in our family? They are so kind with words.

Anyway, Gran had to go to the bathroom, and she insisted I take her instead of going with her sister. A little later, I went to stand up for a while and she wanted to know where I was going. She finally agreed to walk up to the front and visit the family. She almost passed out. I’m not sure if it was her physical heart, her emotional heart, the fact that it was 195 degrees in the funeral home, or just being off balance. One of my cousins tried to help me get her back to her seat. She threatened him with her cane. Then, right at the front of the receiving line, her sister Patsy says, “JoAnn you need to crawl up out of Misty’s ass and let her breathe a little!” It was humiliating and hysterical all at the same time. Her response broke my heart. “She’s the only one I’ve got left to depend on. I have to stay with her.” If you’ve ever had toddlers you know how this makes you feel. That motherly instinct wants them no where other than in your skin, but the raw human exhaustion screams for a break every now and then.

Gran broke down during the actual funeral. She said she was freezing, then all the sudden she started sweating bullets. Literally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her sweat in my life, and it was dripping from her forehead. We were all fanning her from each side, and I was just praying, “Lord please don’t let her have a heart attack and die right here.” She got settled, and just cried through the remainder of the service. One of the hymns we sang could be a theme for her life. I’ve never heard it, but it gives great perspective:

Farther Along

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.

Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.

Tempted and tried, how often we question
Why we must suffer year after year,
Being accused by those of our loved ones,
E’en though we’ve walked in God’s holy fear.

Often when death has taken our loved ones,
Leaving our home so lone and so drear,
Then do we wonder why others prosper,
Living so wicked year after year.

“Faithful till death,” saith our loving Master;
Short is our time to labor and wait;
Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,
When we shall pass the heavenly gate.

Soon we will see our dear, loving Savior,
Hear the last trumpet sound through the sky;
Then we will meet those gone on before us,
Then we shall know and understand why.

We left immediately following the funeral. She did say she wished she could go to Judy’s house to visit with the family. I just said we needed to get on the road because of the bad weather and I wanted to see Sam again on his birthday. She didn’t mention staying one time on the way home.

Since you all did such an awesome job praying for today, now you can start praying for Wednesday. While we go on our trip, Gran will be staying at an Assisted Living home in Franklin. She is going to flip her lid. This is our third plan of what to do with her while we were gone. But, all things considered it is just the safest option for her. It certainly isn’t the cheapest. Sad that we could take her on the cruise with us cheaper than leaving her there. I already have visions of having security pull her off of me at the door. Anybody with a few extra Xanex, feel free to drop them by my house on Tuesday, we’ll both need them. She has a cardiology appointment first thing Wednesday morning. I am praying I can catch his nurse and have the doctor tell her she needs to go to rehab for a few days. Totally willing to throw him under the bus, that’s what he makes the big bucks for.

One step at a time….

My kids have officially had the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER

I struggle a little (actually a lot) with how spoiled my kids are. I want to teach them to appreciate what they have, and not be this kids who brag about all they get. I want them to be generous and realize the people around us and the love we share are what is really important when it comes to holidays. All that being said, my kids got absolutely everything they wanted for Christmas, and then some. I am still trying to wrap my head around that. And, I can just pray like crazy they bless others from their overflow.

Christmas started Monday night. My dad and stepmom came down and fixed dinner, then we exchanged gifts. They had a paper box filled with all kinds of things they’d asked for…. Glow Wubble ball, Pokemon cards, Legos, games, Scrapbook set, and a few other odds and ends. The best part was the box had a fake bottom in it. When they’d both unwrapped everything else, Grandaddy said, “Are you sure that was all? Dig deeper in the box.” LK figured it out pretty quickly. Once they dug a little deeper, they discovered an iPad Air and case. Way to pull through Grandaddy, because momma nor Santa would have done that! Their reaction was priceless.

Thursday morning we went to Jeff’s parents for Christmas Eve brunch. There the kids got a foosball table, Disney Gift cards, Math Perplexor books, Legos, Star Wars stuff, craft pillows, lip balm kit and I’m sure a couple other things that I missed in the action.

Thursday afternoon we went to Christmas Eve Service at church. This is only our second year to do a Christmas Eve Service. Our new church has a 2:00 service, making it possible to do that and still do Christmas Eve Dinner. God knew this was a new tradition my heart would need after losing mom. It’s hard to get in the Christmas Spirit, but that certainly helps.

Soon after we got home from church Papa was here. We had dinner then opened gifts with him and GranGran. The kids got Beats Solo headphones, Lego sets, Army men, Just Dance, and an Orbeez Spa.

It’s not even Christmas yet, and the kids have their lists all checked off. Seriously, iPads and Beats at 7 and 9 years old, and that was just the start of it….. But, Santa and Momma knew our little family needed more than stuff this Christmas. We need a magical experience and we need time together. So, Santa brought everyone new suitcases. Sam’s had a QB Maze set, and LK’s had the whole Math Perplexors set inside. We do three gifts for the kids. (My theory is if 3 gifts were good enough for Jesus, 3 gifts are good enough for the Woodford’s.)  LK got Ugg boots and Sam got a cool remote control car for their first gift. The second gift was a customized travel journal. LK is a pretty smart cookie, so with the suitcase and travel journal she wanted to know where we were going. The third gift did it for her, they each opened a box of customized Mickey and Minnie shirts. One had fireworks on it, one had a pirate, and one had a sailor. LK started squealing and jumping immediately, “WE’RE GOING ON A DISNEY CRUISE!!!!” Yes, we are. Next week! We had one gift for the whole family wrapped under the tree just in case the kids didn’t pick up on the hint by now. I had wrapped our cruise documents and Magic Bands. Not only are we going on a 7 night Disney cruise, we’re spending a couple days at the Magic Kingdom first. Totally over the top in terms of dollars spent. But, after the year we’ve had, something our family so desperately needs.

So, yes we were richly blessed with material gifts. But, beyond measure we’ve been blessed by a God who loves us so. We’ve walked some really hard roads over the last 3 years. But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he has walked every single one of them with us.

Tomorrow is my little man’s 7th birthday. I can’t hardly believe it. I’ll be missing his birthday to take GranGran to a funeral in KY. She’s had a crazy afternoon. I fully believe it has been Satan trying to attack me, so I won’t even give him the glory in recounting the stories. But, just be in prayer for us tomorrow. We’re going to KY to a funeral at the same place where mom’s funeral was, that will be hard. Grandmother isn’t going to get to stay in KY, she isn’t going to be happy about that. I’m going to be ill that I am missing a moment in my son’s life. Praying God continues to order our steps, and my attitude one day at a time.

What dementia gave me for Christmas

This past week I’ve realized I do ALOT of griping and complaining about my situation. Living with and caring for someone with dementia is hard. I’ve often said my Grandmother would be much better off dead that living like this. It sounds crude, harsh, and terrible. But, if Heavenly Glory is one-tenth as good as we’ve been promised, trust me, we’d all be better off there. I can often see what I am projecting by taking a glimpse at my daughter. And, her attitude of late has shown me how bad my attitude toward dementia has been. I could make you a list a mile long of the things dementia has taken from me this year, not the least of which is joy and probably 10 years off my own life. But, today, I’ve been convicted to thing about what dementia has GIVEN me.

Dementia has given me perspective. And that perspective has been many gifts wrapped in one broad umbrella. For those of you that knew my Grandmother 20-30 years ago, know what an amazing woman she was. She was a hard worker, a giver, and a lover of all things Misty. This year, she’s been a taker, she isn’t super nice, and I am certainly not her favorite thing in the world anymore. So, I’ve seen the perspective that I won’t always be able to control myself and my life. Shocker. No matter how desperately I want to love and serve well, there will come a point that I won’t be that person. So, we reflect on the perspective of who God made us to be, and they cycle of life He created, which at some point we have to allow others to be what God created them to be. Perspective that you just can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Because I am also raising young children, who I am responsible for training to become reasonable adults, I find myself also trying to train Grandma how to be a responsible adult. I’ve busted my head wide open beating it against that wall. But, each day, I am getting better at just letting it go, and letting her be Grandma. Perspective on what my kids are going to remember forever. Grandma can’t remember what she was doing 35 seconds ago, but she remembers her childhood in vivid detail. I need to be making sure that my kids childhood is one worth remembering. Our moments together (not behind a screen) creating memories and sharing joy. I’ve always loved creating big moments for my kids, and this has just driven that home. Focus on the memories, not the stuff.

Dementia has given me patience. I am sure it comes as a great surprise to all of you that I do not have the patience of Job. I’m not sure I’ve ever really had any patience at all. I’m pretty certain God forgot to put the fuse on my firecracker. I just go off at the drop of a hat, sometimes with no warning what so ever. I’m always rushing from place to place, telling everyone around me to hurry up. We have zero hurry in our lives these days. Even if the kids did miraculously decide to hurry one day, Grandma moves at a snails pace so it wouldn’t really matter. Grandma asks me the same question 3795 times in a 30 minute dinner. It never fails that she waits until I am about to put my food in my mouth (after fixing 3 other people’s plate) that she has me to get up and get her one more thing. Or, on Monday’s after I have washed 7-10 loads of laundry, each time asking her if she had something to wash, she’ll come to me as I put the last load in the dryer and say, “Mist, I’ve got some jeans I need you to wash. When you wash next, will you put them in?” And when she says when you wash next, she doesn’t mean next week when I was another 7-10 loads on Monday, she means put these jeans in the washing machine right now. The first few months, I really didn’t respond well to these situations. Many nights I went to bed thanking the Lord that Grandma had dementia and she wouldn’t even slightly remember the things I had said to her the day before. I still have moments and days (namely when I am tired) that I don’t respond with patient love, but in general dementia has given me a patience in 8 months that I had failed to amass in the 36 years prior….

Dementia has given me time. Just as a nature of the care Grandma requires, I have worked and played a lot less. I ran sales numbers last week, and my commissions last year were well less than half of what they were the 2 years prior, and it isn’t because we’ve had a weaker market. Last year, I was in the kids school almost daily as the PTO President. Nothing went on that I didn’t know about. These days, all I know about is what is going on with my kids. I’ve said “no” to far more things than I’ve said “yes” to. And, I’ve spent time at home investing in my family and caring for the 4 people that mean the most in the world to me. I’ve even hired someone to clean my house so I don’t spend my “extra” time cleaning toilets, I spend it running to doctors appointments, doing another load of laundry, fixing Grandma’s hair, watching Grandma’s fashion shows as she goes through her closet for the 13th time today, and just doing everything at a much slower place. Dementia has given me time with my Grandma. Since moving to Nashville, I didn’t get to see my family nearly as much as I wanted to. It’s side what we don’t make time for. I probably saw my grandmother 6-10 days a year before she moved in with us. There were times I would go see my mom, but not make time to go by and see my grandmother. Now, I am getting that time back. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I have time with my Grandma.

Dementia has given me strength. The one thing I was afraid of as a child was old people. They totally freaked me out. I can remember my great-grandmother being in a nursing home, and my dad and his mom taking me to visit her. I can still vividly picture the entrance, hallways, her rooms, and the dining hall, I can still smell it. I hated that place. I broke out in hives almost every time we went. I was afraid of being attacked by old people in wheel chairs, them throwing their teeth at me, whatever- all silly, but I just am not a big fan of old people. And, now I am taking care of one. I have to do things for her that I never would want to do. The first time I had to clean up the bedroom carpet and bathroom after one of her accidents, I realized I could do anything. I almost vomited, and secretly wanted to die so I never had to do it again. But, facing one of my biggest fears head on has given me an inner strength that I didn’t know I had. I tend to avoid things that I’m not good at. If I am not going to win, I don’t play. It’s not a good character trait, but I own it. Dementia has given me the strength to fight battles I know I am not going to win.

Dementia has given me a longing for Jesus like I’ve never had before. Public school did a decent job of making me pray for Jesus’s return. Dementia has me straight up begging for it on a daily basis. Not just the dementia, but the whole elder healthcare system. It’s messed up. I have no desire to die. I would love to watch my kids grow up, get married, and make me a Grandma. But, more than that, I’d love for Jesus to come back and take us to Glory. I’m tired, I just want to rest in the arms of my Abba Father. I want Him to heal all that is broken in this world. I don’t want to grow old and suffer with this terrible disease. I don’t want my kids to ever see me like this, and I certainly don’t want to treat them the way Grandmother treats me or them. Jesus coming back is just the answer to all my prayers. Together in eternity, perfectly made whole. That would be the best Christmas present of all.

So, friends forgive me for all the complaining I’ve done about what Dementia has taken from me. I’ve allowed it to steal way more joy that it deserves. But, know that dementia has given me so very much. This Christmas, I have a whole new perspective on what my life is and how very richly blessed I am……

We love a good party

If there is one thing I can definitely be accused of going overboard on around here, it is birthday parties. I LOVE a good party, I LOVE to celebrate my kids, so it is a recipe for excess. I love to make every little detail coordinate and bring the theme together perfectly. I care about it way more than my kids do. So, as you can imagine, this morning, when Lexi Kate says, “Mom, I think you’re a little unprepared for Sam’s party today” I felt a little deflated. But, she was right. I was so very unprepared for Sam’s party. All week long, I have said thank you Lord this is Sam’s party, not Lexi Kate’s or I would be in some serious hot water. Lexi Kate likes her parties on point. Sam, he just wants cake and presents so, it’s all good. But, I just had to take time to realize, this week I have focused on what was most important…. taking care of the people I love. Party details are fun, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be answering for them at the pearly gates.

Sam wanted to have his party at Glow Galaxy. We’ve attended a couple parties there, but I have never really focused on how they went down. I’ll say it wasn’t my favorite place to party. They weren’t super organized or efficient, and the “party hosts” spent more time hanging with each other in the break room than they did supervising the party. But, the kids had a good time, so I’m good with it. They failed to communicate that you couldn’t bring in your own food or drinks. That was a total bummer. I had made really cute water bottles to match the theme, and had done popcorn to match the “pellets” and fruit to match what comes out in the game. Oh well, we’ll just keep reliving PacMan when we get home.

I do love that Sam almost always chooses a classic theme from my childhood for his parties. We’ve done Thomas, Tom & Jerry, Mario Brothers, Star Wars, and now Pac Man. My plan was to transform the party room to match the Pac Man theme. But, they only give you 15 minutes to prepare the room, and that is while the kids are playing. So, I didn’t get to do all I wanted. But, he had a banner with his name on it, PacMan plates, Piñata, balloons, and a super cute PacMan cake. Jess Chicago has done our cakes this year, and she is fabulous. I love making the kids cakes myself, but my carpal tunnel has been so bad lately, I just can’t do it. Again, Sam doesn’t really care about the details. Lexi Kate would have been up in the manager’s grill telling him how it was going down.

Grandma did cry before we left for the party because she wasn’t invited. She’s always came to the kids party. But, considering she had 2 heart attacks this week, she can’t stand loudness, the place was dark and there wasn’t any place for her to sit, I didn’t think it was a great idea. At least by the time we got home, she thought we’d been at work and school and it was over. Now, Sam is crying because he doesn’t get to play with his presents until he starts writing thank you notes. Such a mean mom to make him at least pretend to appreciate all he gets in life.

To sum it all up, we spent today celebrating my baby turning 7. I can still vividly remember that day in July 2008 when a 12 week ultrasound revealed that newest Woodford would answer our prayers for a baby boy. Our life verse for Samuel Glen Woodford has always been 1 Samuel 1:27-28. We prayed for this child, the Lord granted what we asked, and for his whole life he will be given over to the Lord. In so many ways already, we have been blessed to see him grow in the Lord. You won’t find a more compassionate and loving kid in the whole world. I don’t know that he has ever greeted someone he knows without giving them a hug. If he thinks you need something, he’s on making it happen. He’s totally carefree. I joke all the time, our house could burn down around him, and he’d walk out saying, “Awww, it’s fine…” He is so smart and we had no clue. For the kid whose preschool teacher didn’t think he was ready for kindergarten, he’s turned out alright, consistently testing at least 2 grade levels ahead. He plays independently for hours, sometimes I forget he’s home. He loves his momma. I kinda feel like I should break it to him that his friends don’t think it’s cool to sit in your mom’s lap and kiss her at school. But, I figure that will fade on it’s own soon enough. He’s a video game loving fool. I swore I wouldn’t have a kid that was addicted to electronics. Yeah, I’ve eaten those words. I just pray he turns out to be a programer or some kind of computer engineer. Otherwise, he’s had a wasted childhood.

I am blessed to be this boy’s momma. And, grateful to all of you who joined us today in celebrating who God has made him to be. Happy 7th Birthday Sam Sam! We’ll celebrating you again in 2 weeks on your real birthday.


A Different Kind of Christmas This Year, and the next….

Last year we experienced all of our “firsts” without mom. Everyone expected me to pretty much be a train wreck. I had always envisioned these great family Holiday gatherings with people and food constantly rolling in and out of my house. Growing up in a large extended family, I envisioned those traditions to continue. Because family members had started moving away, those big gatherings had already started dwindling. Last year, they came to a screeching halt. I knew my mom was the glue that held me together most days, I didn’t realize how much she was holding everyone else together as well. It truly was a different kind of Christmas. I didn’t have my mom, I didn’t even have my extended family. It was awful. People skated around me on thin ice trying to avoid the flaming darts coming from my eyes.

Honestly, because I have kids, Christmas was easier on me emotionally than Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was so freaking hard. I don’t think anyone really expected that, so folks weren’t as gracious around me. Not there fault, they were just surprised that I was such a mess. Thanksgiving was our thing. Go back to the lots of food and family thing…. And, as everyone was talking about all they had to be thankful for, and even though I knew I was blessed, I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head about horrible my life had been that year. I had lost way more than my mom, and I wasn’t grateful, I was pissed. As Christmas rolled around, my kids kinda pulled me out of my absolute funk. We focus on them at Christmas and sharing the meaning of Christmas with those around us. If you feel like you need a blessing, take time to serve and bless someone else. I promise it will help. Our immediate family traditions stayed in tact as my Step Dad and Ex-Brother-in-law (You read that correctly, I told you my family has been a mess the last couple years.) and niece came over for Christmas Eve dinner. I certainly missed my mom and had to fight back tears, but having people where they were supposed to be and doing what they were supposed to do eased some of the pain.

Everyone says after losing someone, the grief and pain start to subside or change around the one year mark. I’d say around 15-18 months for me life kinda started falling back into place. I could drive through town, have conversations, and think about my Mom without losing my lunch or becoming a free flowing fountain of tears. As the second round of holidays started rolling around, the emotions build back up. I wanted to call Mom and tell her Happy Mother’s Day, I wanted to celebrate with her on her birthday, I wanted to ask her about recipes for Thanksgiving, and I want to share in the excitement of what we have for the kids this Christmas. I REALLY REALLY want her to go with us, as what we are doing is something she always wanted to do. The thing that is different about those emotions coming back is that most people around expect you to handle them differently. Support from friends and family wains, those who understand you’re grieving kinda forget about it. No joke, one of my friends asked me if we were going to my Mom’s for Christmas or if she was coming here. They aren’t a bad person, they weren’t trying to drive a dagger through my heart. They just forgot. My normal isn’t their normal anymore. Our 55-60 year old parents aren’t supposed to be dead. And, we get so busy and wrapped up in our normal lives, we forget to think and act and do differently around those who are grieving.

And, I will be grieving the rest of my life. Will it be easier, maybe. But, Christmas will always be different for me. There will always be a missing place at the table. I will always miss shopping for blow out deals with my mom, or calling to tell her about the great things we are doing. ALWAYS. Time will not ever heal that wound. And, honestly, I don’t want it to. Some have “forgotten” or “replaced” my mom with other people or things. And, that is okay. But, in my heart and in my house, my mom’s spot will always be empty.

A song that really touched my heart last year, and I have been listening to a good bit again this year is Mark Schultz “A Different Kind of Christmas”. I’ve tried to attach it here, but, I am not sure I’m good enough to make that work. If you don’t know the song, go out to You Tube and watch the video.

And, remember no matter the reason, no matter how long it’s been, there are lots of people around us having a “Different Kind of Christmas this Year.” Extend grace and love. Say something even if it’s hard. Just show up. They don’t expect you to know how they feel, and please don’t say you do. You don’t have to say anything. Being there to fill the gap is enough.

Dementia is the Devil

I am now convinced that dementia may be the most evil thing that can take over our bodies. And, there is not a darn thing we can do about it. For the last couple days, Grandmother has been doing pretty well. She’s been sharper mentally than she has been in weeks. And, then it just flips a switch and she’s gone. Praise the Lord, she was dismissed from the hospital today. Less than 15 minutes down the road, she asked where we were going. I explained that we were on the way home. “Home from where? Why did you pick me up to go for a ride?” Grandmother, we’ve been in the hospital all week long. “Hospital, I haven’t been in the hospital!?! Why would I have been in the hospital?” This conversation went on the entire hour it took us to go home. Seriously, two heart attacks, 2 IV’s, a heart monitor, an EKG, a stress test, and an arteriorgram and she doesn’t remember a single bit of it. She didn’t even remember the male nurse from today that she was sweet on, and was talking about having fried frog legs with. Not. One. Single. Bit. Of. It. Maybe it’s a blessing. Actually, for her I am sure that is a blessing. For me, it is an absolute curse. I seriously don’t know what to do.

Yesterday, I was convinced our extra day in the hospital was an answer to prayer, as it would qualify her for medicare to pay for 30 days of rehab. Today, I found out that wasn’t going to happen. Because she could take 30 steps unassisted, and because she lived with me, she didn’t qualify for any in facility care. The woman that can’t remember if she has just went to the bathroom, can’t walk across the room without falling down or losing her breath, and can’t remember 2 heart attacks and 4 days in the hospital doesn’t qualify for any facility nursing care. If I ever had any doubt that our system is totally screwed up, I got that confirmed real quick. I called different offices and facilities in KY and TN, all getting about the same information. Because I did what I felt to be the right thing, and allowed grandmother to move in with us, I have essentially disqualified her from ever getting any assistance. Basically, when it gets to the point that I can’t handle her anymore, I am going to have to drop her off at a police station or hospital and leave her alone, and let her become a ward of the state.

So, as we prepare for an exciting adventure in our lives, I am going to have to shell out $2700 from my pocket to pay for her to stay in a skilled nursing facility for 10 days. It isn’t so much about the money as it is about the system. I am saving the government hundreds each month by allowing her to live with us right now. And, to repay you for saving them money they say sorry about your luck.

All this to say I have made a pack with a friend that we will be Driving Miss Daisy and run over each other if we hit our 70s and get this nasty disease. In no way what so ever do I want to live like my grandmother is having to live. Being trapped in a failing body and not know who you are, what is wrong, and what you are doing is terrible. I don’t want to be this kind of burden on my children and grandchildren. So, my friend will just say she was picking me up for coffee and she didn’t see me and she ran me over. I will be eternally grateful for it. She’ll be old, blind, and crazy too, so they’ll just let her go and maybe take her licenses away. But, it’s a small sacrifice for a friend who’d do the same for you.


“I don’t know whether to shit or go blind.”

This phrase has probably saved my sanity today. For whatever reason, hearing my 5’2″ 110 pound, hard core Southern Baptist Grandmother say these words has made me laugh out loud. And, honestly, I need a good laugh these days.

I’ve nearly lost my mind. If I had any self respect, I wouldn’t admit this. But, we know I’m brutally honest and I am more than fine with airing my dirty laundry, or lack there of…. The last 3 days have been so crazy, I am so tired, and so out of it that I totally forgot to put my underwear on this morning. Praise the Lord, I did remember my pants. But, I went to the bathroom earlier and thought, what the crap?!?! So, I had to leave the hospital and go grab me some drawers. I needed the mental break anyway….

This round of craziness has gone a little something like this…. I left for work about 9:45 Monday morning. At 11:00, Grandmother calls to tell me that she is having chest pains and can’t stand up out of her chair. I ask a couple more questions, and decide I need to call 911. Chest pains are obvious signs of a heart attack, and the fact that she can’t stand up was a pretty good indicator that her internal defibrillator had activated, shocking her heart back into working. I got to the house about 5 minutes after the ambulance arrived and was able to talk to the EMT team. I followed them to St. Thomas, even though further from my house it was our hospital of choice because it is where her cardiac team practices.

Soon after we arrived they were able to confirm a heart attack and that her defibrillator had activated, thus admitting her for further monitoring. She was a great patient Monday and Monday evening. By midday on Tuesday, she had decided it was time to go. She became restless and gave the nurses a run for their money. Her doctor didn’t round until almost 5pm, but he indicated that all looked well and she should be able to be dismissed on Wednesday. They took her for a stress test Wednesday morning to make sure that everything looked good for dismissal. And, then things got complicated. The stress test indicated that she had 2 heart attacks recently, and had some heart damage. And, when your heart is only functioning at 35% to begin with, damage isn’t a good thing. As soon as she figured out that she wasn’t getting to come home as he had originally promised, “it was on!” She got dressed and tried to leave. She fussed and cussed, she cried (fake tears), and told me what a terrible person I was and that I was only looking out for myself.

I’m quiet proud of my self. I haven’t lost my temper at all this week. I have firmly explained how things need to be. I have told her that she needs to consider the kids, and not come home until she is well. But, I haven’t lost it like I usually do. Maybe I am improving. Maybe I am just too tired to yell….

My friend Kati is a nurse on the 3rd floor and she just came by to check on us. While she was here she asked what the arteriogram revealed. They said it was as good as could be expected with only minor blockages. That is good news on a couple fronts. One, I don’t have to make the decision on whether or not to have surgery. I know in my heart of hearts that surgery isn’t the best option for her. But, it is also quiet difficult to sign your name to a piece of paper saying that you don’t want them to do something that could potentially save her life.

I wrestled with that decision all Monday night. They asked me to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order. She has a living will and medical directive. But, because it was originally initiated in KY and she is now a TN resident and I am her Power of Attorney, they wanted my signature on a new one. Again, I know it is what she would want, and the best thing for her. But, putting ink to a “don’t save her if it comes to that” isn’t fun. You know what else isn’t fun? Calling a high school friend who runs the funeral home in town and explaining your situation. Kirk, Grandmother isn’t doing good. I am a crappy person, and I am going to be unavailable for about 10 days anyway. If something goes down during that time, I’m going to need you to come pick her up and put her on ice a few days. And, if her sisters want to go ahead with a funeral, that’s fine too. I can visit her grave when we get back. Thankfully, he knows me, knows my heart, and knows I haven’t been crazy my whole life. It sounds so terrible. It makes me feel like a terrible person. And, for the love of pete, nobody mentioned having to have these conversations and make these decisions in any of the life skills classes I took in high school or college. Adulting is hard work folks!

So, we’ve had an interesting week. I had planned on spending the week catching up on work, preparing for some out of state clients that are looking to relocate to the area; and preparing for Sam’s birthday party that is this Saturday. At this point, I am just thankful these folks aren’t coming in this week, and that it is Sam’s party. If it was LK’s party, I’d be in trouble. But, Sam is less concerned with the details being perfect. If I don’t get all the little decorations and extras done, it’ll be fine with Sam. Thankfully, I put the water bottles and goody bags together last week, and had the sense to know this isn’t the time in my life to be Super Mom and decorate the PacMan cake myself, so I hired someone awesome to do it. Bare minimum, we have a location, we have cake and ice cream, and drinks, a piñata and goodie bags. The 7 year old boys will be thrilled.

And, to wrap it this up because my brain hurts so bad I have no idea if I am making any sense…. God answers our prayers in a very weird way sometimes. 21 days for now, Jeff and I will be taking the kids on a very exciting adventure. It’s part of their Christmas present and because LK sometimes reads this blog, I won’t spell out the details. But, it has left me in a tight spot as to what to do with Grandmother. As her health gets worse, she can’t be home alone. Her sisters who would normally keep her for me all have problems of their own going on right now. Paying someone to be at our house was going to cost nearly $5000; yes they charge $20/hr to sleep at my house. Putting her in a nursing home for a short term stay was going to cost $2700. That wasn’t my favorite option, but honestly it was our best option. $2700 is expensive, but it was really all we were down to. Then, our little hospital stint happens. Do you know that if you spend 72 hours in a hospital that medicare will pay up to 30 days in a rehab facility? And just because God gives us exactly what we need when we need it, if she is admitted to rehab tomorrow, it will be exactly 30 days until we get back from our adventure. You can’t tell me that God isn’t in those details. I am not sure that it will be the route we will end up going. I’ve learned now to quit making plans. But, I love that God shows up and confirms that He cares enough to show up and confirm He’s there, He’s working, and He’s got this.

So, when you don’t know whether to “shit or go blind”, pray. Maybe the answer is to “hold one eye open and fart” God will take care of the rest.


One step at a time and a week’s worth of stories

In documenting our journey of living with two kids, a new dog, and a dementia ridden grandma, by far the hardest thing for me has putting it out there that my life is just hard. I like to be the life is good person. We are beyond blessed, I wake up 99% of the time and thank God for giving me a life 1000 times greater than I ever dreamed possible. Just as a tiny example, I remember sitting in a high school class one day and thinking to myself, one day I am going to be so rich I pay $250,000 for a house. Ummm, hmmm. This isn’t a blog about my lifestyle, but you couldn’t buy the smallest house in my neighborhood for $250,000. Anyway, back to the point. I have a life blessed with financial success, an AMAZING extended family, my dad and stepmom would drop everything to meet any need we had, the very best mother-in-law on planet earth, friends who just show up and bless me in ways I would never even think to ask for, two kids who are not only beautiful, but brilliant, a fantastic church family, great schools for our kids, just lots and lots of good stuff. But, the past 2.5- 3 years of life have been hard, this last 9 months have been almost impossible. When people ask me how things are going, I like to say, “Perfect, great, amazing, awesome! What can I do to make your life better?” That’s just not where we’ve been lately. Survival, and sometimes that is debatable. But, the one thing I know beyond a shadow of any doubt, is that God has got this too. Our mother/daughter devotional this week is on Deuteronomy 3:26, “That is enough the Lord said. Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.” For whatever reason, I am in a season of God saying no or not now to many of my prayers. And, just like I get frustrated with my kids and tell them enough, don’t say anything else about it. Sometimes, God has to tell me, enough, let it go, trust MY bigger plan…… that whole paragraph had absolutely nothing to do with what I intended to blog about. But, it’s my blog and it was on my heart. Maybe you needed to hear it, maybe it will be a reminder for me later….. Life isn’t always how we wrote the story in our mind, but God’s got it, good and bad….

So, back to the stories I was planning to tell in this post. My point above is, I hate to constantly “complain” and tell the bad things, but it’s just what we’ve got right now. Thursday evening after we were home from Thanksgiving festivities, Grandmother realized her wallet was missing. Actually, I think she first mentioned it Wednesday night, but I didn’t go look for it then. Thursday, she was in a tizzy about it. We had been to the hospital, Target, and Kroger that week with her wallet. Who knew where it could be. My thought was if you left it at Target or Kroger, good bye. No need trying to find it. If you left it at St. Thomas, we’ll have to wait until Monday to call because the offices are closed for the holiday. If you know anything about dementia, you know when they get onto something, they ARE ON IT. We fretted and talked about this wallet nonstop. Theories got out of control. She at first insisted she had left it at Paul and Betty’s when we went for lunch. I helped her in and out of the car, I knew she didn’t have it. But, I searched my car and asked Betty if it was there just for good measure. Then, she thought maybe some of the family took it. Ummm, no. And, honestly if they did, I don’t want to know about it. But, no. I know you didn’t have your wallet there, let it go. Her next theory became that one of Lexi’s friends stole it. No. An eight year old girl has no use for an 81 year old’s wallet. What would she want with your wallet? Well, someone just walked in the house and stole it. She really got wrapped up in this one. Someone had just come in the house and taken her wallet. A reasonable theory in that her purse sits on a little table in the kitchen all the time. But, as I told her, totally crazy. If someone was going to walk in our house and steal a purse or wallet, they would have taken my $3000 purse and wallet hanging by the back door with a couple hundred dollars cash, and no less than 5 credit cards in it. They didn’t choose your Wal-Mart wallet full of $10, old pictures, phone numbers, and a medicare card. It just doesn’t happen like that….. My theory was that most likely she laid it down in the lab when she was having blood work done. But, she of course never does crazy and irresponsible things like that…. The missing wallet occupied our weekend with all kinds of crazy theories. And, of course when I called Monday morning, it was in the hospital lab.

Sunday night we had a WWIII level blow out. It was bad. We were all crying. I don’t know why I can’t just let things go with her. It is the disease talking, it is not my beloved Grandmother. But, when I feel like my kids are being attacked, I go all kinds of crazy and just fight like a momma bear. And, momma bear always wins. It was nearing bedtime, I was at the table working, and grandmother blurts out, “I feel like y’all don’t love me and I am not welcome here.” Being a person whose love language is acts of service, and having served this woman around the clock for the last few months, I felt like I had been slapped right smack in the face. I actually responded calmly and said, “What can I do to make that better? What do we do to make you feel unwanted? How can I love you better?” Her response was I feel unloved because the kids tell me they don’t love me and they don’t want me here. I came six kinds of unglued. I will be the first to admit my kids can be little shits sometimes. And, they can have a sassy mouth, and they aren’t always the most respectful to her. But, they have never said the words “I don’t love you or I don’t want you here.” I called her on it, and she insisted they say it everyday. My response. “Grandmother, quit lying. They have never said that. They know if they even thought about saying those words to you I would knock their teeth down their throat and beat their rear until they couldn’t sit on it for weeks.” None of this was going down in preschool teacher voice. Lexi Kate is squalling. I send her to bed with Jeff while I fight this battle with flaming swords. She kept on telling me all the terrible things we say and do to her. I finally had it, I said, fine. First thing tomorrow morning, I will call the nursing home, and you can move back to Mayfield as soon as the room is ready. It was her turn to come six kinds of unglued. I got an even better glimpse of where I get my temper. She didn’t like that option one single bit. By this time, Jeff comes to to join this conversation. He gives me back up in that Grandmother complains every day about not being happy here and wanting to leave. And, that it is exhausting to me to try to do all I can for her and then her to tell me everyday it isn’t enough. And, Jeff broke it down by saying, Misty she doesn’t remember any of these episodes, she doesn’t remember anything because of the disease in her brain. She told him he had a disease in his brain, but started settling down and went to bed. I, of course didn’t sleep a wink all night. And, she had no memory of the terrible take down Monday morning.

Monday, everyone went back to school and routine. I went back to work. I went to lunch with Jeff and a couple guys he works with. As crude as it was, crude contractor humor, and laugh until you cry was good medicine. And, then I got a fun phone call. Ms. Woodford, this is Pinnacle Financial Partners, we feel like there is fraudulent activity taking place on your debit card ending in 1234. What? That is my company debit card…. what kind of fraud are we talking about? Thousands…. I don’t remember all of the conversation except, go file a police report, come to the branch, and they have tried to buy a CAR on your debit card. A what? A CAR? Who in the crap buys a car on a debit card? Thankfully, I had just used my card locally, and within 30 minutes someone was trying to buy a car in Madisonville, KY. That is one stellar fraud department. They called me within 20 minutes of the card being swiped. Yep, you read that right. It was a hard card being swiped. I had my actual card in my purse. These fools are wicked smart. If you know how to create debit cards that work on someone else’s account, get a freaking real job, where they will pay you awful amounts of money, and you won’t have to steal it to buy cheap used cars. And, that is karma. I tell Grandmother no one would steal her cheap wallet with no money, and just days later someone steals my debit card information. Check mate.

Tuesday, it has to be better, right? Well, kinda. I had a good day. Productive day at work, Christmas shopping, pick the kids up from school, take LK to dance, all is going great. And, then Jeff calls to gives me the heads up that it has gone down at the house….. Sam eats about every third day. But, when he decides it’s an eating day, the dude eats. He ate all his lunch at school, he ate a snack at 2:00, he came home and had a bowl of marshmallows, an apple, a pack of fruit snacks, and asked me to give him a lunchable as I was leaving to take LK to dance. Said, lunchable was turkey and crackers with 2 oreos. For someone unknown reason, Grandmother decided to come and take one of Sam’s oreos. Did I mention before that oreos are Sam’s VERY favorite food in the world. He lost his ever loving mind. Jeff walks into hysteria as Grandmother tried to get him to hush so she wouldn’t get in trouble. Granted, Sam is too big to lose his mind over a cookie. But, it’s his favorite, and it’s his food day…… When I walked in Grandmother gave me the low down and how I should spank Sam for acting a fool. Knowing Jeff had already handled it, I just kinda joked, well if you stole my cookie I’d cry too. It isn’t appropriate to take food off someone else’s plate. And, you aren’t in charge of discipling the kids. Well, I’ll punch you in the face. I told her that if she punched me, she would have to go to live in the nursing home. We don’t hit the kids, and you aren’ going to hit me. She, said, well, I’ll just stab you with that knife. Nope, no knife either. Gran has threatened to stab me with a knife on more than one occasion. It doesn’t really scare me that she would actually try to, or if she did she is so slow and weak I could protect myself. The kids, that scares me. Knives aren’t out generally, but this was on the table for dinner.

And then we get to Wednesday. The hits just keep on coming…. The doctor calls and tells me the latest blood work shows that Grandmother has developed diabetes. Not surprising, because her mother had diabetes and several of her sisters had/have it. But, seriously, we have enough going on does God really think we need diabetes on top of it all. They tell me the plan is to try to regulate with diet, check blood weekly for a month, then we’ll see if we need to medicate. So, then I start running the scenarios in my mind: 1)She’s 81 years old, has dementia, internal bleeding, and a failing heart, and weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet. Really, is regulating diabetes necessary? Let her eat whatever the crap she wants, is it really effecting life expectancy? 2)I don’t say anything, we don’t regulate. It increases risk of stroke. Enter mental image of grandma stroking out and dying in front of the kids. That’s a bad plan. 3)I tell her, we try to regulate with diet. She is home alone 3-8 hours a day. She can’t remember if she just went to the bathroom. Is she really going to remember she shouldn’t eat 3/4 of the food in my house. Remember there are 4 other people living here that aren’t diabetic, and 3 of them would move out if I took out all the “bad food” in my house. So, I broke down and told her she had diabetes and we needed to do what we could to regulate it. I have told her no less than 3475 times that she can’t have a coke, or ice cream, or candy, or oreos in the last 30 hours. I’m starting to think we say screw it and just see what happens. For the love of pete, after all she’s endured she might as well enjoy the last few meals she’s has.

And, on the kids front. LK had a friend ask her this week why “shit” was a bad word if it just meant cow poop. And, today, she asked me what “frit” meant? She heard it was a bad word, but didn’t know what it meant. Yeah, me either….. Google it. That’ll scare the “shit” out of you that 3rd graders are talking about it on the playground. I gotta go clean our shot gun now.

And, so there is our week in a long and random blog. We’re breathing, and I have friends texting me pretty crazy stuff right now making me laugh like crazy. Laughter is good medicine. And, yesterday  I came home to a WHOLE CASE of wine from some clients. We are going to survive. I am fully aware of how blessed I am to live this life, even with the crazy hand of cards I’ve been dealt in the last little bit. If you have a few extra breaths of prayer left, pray for us. Not for patience or endurance…. I know how God provides that. Just pray that in all things we work toward glorifying Him. Even when I lose it….