Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dear Mom

Dear  Mom,

The holidays are upon us. I'm scared to take the bins out of the attic. Every ornament and every tabletop accessory is something you either gave me or bought with me while we were on a mother-daughter shopping trip. My day to day craziness usually blurs my grief somewhat but holidays and their decorations stop me dead in my tracks. I miss you so much. I am devastated that we are missing out on the years where we are best friends, battered by the scars of motherhood. We were always friends and never had those teenage fallout years but I feel like I have been cheated out of these wonderful older years. All those times you told me "When you have your own kids you will understand".....we could laugh hysterically at all that and drink wine (and scotch) and watch The Holiday. We could laugh at how neither of us cook and trade gift cards for chinese food. I could teach you how dry shampoo is the new baby powder and you could continue to try to perfect my gift wrapping skills

Your cousin Campbell died today. I know he was one of your favorites. I think he was everyone's favorite. A huge heart, mischievous laugh and the irreverent demeanor that only Browns and Braselmans understand. I feel like the good ones are taken from us too soon. I'm sure he and Aunt Kathleen are up in heaven having a cocktail laughing at the state of America today.

I wish you could see your grandchildren. I wish you could have seen Gaines get married last weekend. I wish I could tell you that I take my friends to all of our favorite places in Asheville and while it warms my heart to make new memories I am heartbroken at every stop. I wish you were here to help me through this exhausting yet rewarding part of life. 

I miss you so much.

I'll love you forever, 
I'll like you for always. 
As long as I'm living, 
my Mommy you'll be.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Wedding, a Brunch, a Birthday and Hospice

I have sat at my computer for hours trying to figure out how to type this update. I just had the most incredible and complicated weekend in Asheville. Some major lows, some absolutely beautiful highs, and a lot of stuff in between.

What started off with a routine visit with Mom to change out some of her closet and to meet her dedicated PA turned into a pretty serious conversation that neither my father or myself was expecting. It is one of those realities of this disease where you know what is coming next but you just don't know how it will feel until you get there.


I could tell Dad was choking back tears just as I was and we listened intently as her PA explained the next steps to us. 

We walked down the hallway and out of her facility and cried. Like we have done so many times before.

Hospice feels like defeat. It feels like that point in a flight where they say, "Please fasten your seat belts as we prepare for our final decent". Will their be turbulence? How long will it take us to land? Can they keep serving drinks?

I have been blogging about my mother's Alzheimer's for a long time. She was diagnosed in the fall of 2011. Each stage I have thought was the hardest and then I am surprised and shocked by the heartache of the next. 

I don't know much else. We will likely try to thicken her fluids but she might hate it. And at that point our plan is to not prolong what her body and mind are trying to do.

I hear hospice is amazing and I am looking forward to some sort of comfort from that. I hate not knowing timing and I'm not sure they can tell me anything more than we already know but hopefully they can keep some sort of barometer on the situation so I will know if I need to head home. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

BB Update-October 2017

A sweet reader (I'm shocked that y'all are still out there) messaged me because she was worried that I hadn't posted in awhile. So to that reader I say thank you for hanging in there through this journey.

I haven't posted an update on Mom because there hasn't been much to update, and I haven't had lots of chances to get up there. I wanted to go up this week but just couldn't fit it in with work. I will be up there in 2 weeks (if not before) so hopefully will get a good visit in.

We are tapering Mom off her Alzheimer's medications. There is no point to them now and she is still on mood stabilizers to keep her from having outbursts. She mainly has them in the shower or when she feels uncomfortable. The only issue with taking her off these meds is that sometimes she seems almost hyper-alert and panicked that she can't communicate. It ignites that fear deep down that I have of her being trapped in this body and wanting to tell us something. I need to remember that her mind is also gone and these brief flashes are exactly that, just a brief connection in the brain. 

She is increasingly losing weight and we were asked this week if we wanted to give her supplements to her diet. 

We declined. Dad, Beau and I made the decision that we will not do feeding tubes and will not supplement. It's almost cruel to prolong someone's body from trying to die. I guess they say don't  wake a sleeping baby, and along those lines maybe you should say don't shove food down someone's throat who is trying to escape a horrible disease.

It is the right decision and one she would have told us years ago to make. Mom used to work in long term care and she told us to "give her the pillow" if she ever got like this. So in her defense....she would not approve of this lifestyle.It is still a decision that hurts to make, and one you second guess yourself on, but I know in my heart and mind it is the right one.

So now we wait. We visit, we hold her hands, we talk to her. We pray. 

I miss her so much this time of year. I have said it a million times but she was the holiday celebrator. Pumpkins, Mums, skeletons on the door, terracotta pumpkins from the Dish Barn, Fall themed napkins, candles, snacks, candies. Care Packages. Orange sweaters and light up earrings. I'm bawling my eyes out typing this. Amelie's birthday is approaching, Halloween, a family Wedding, a girls weekend and Thanksgiving....quickly followed by the Christmas season. Oh how I wish we could go buy ridiculous decorations again. You could make me my paperwhites and I'll let you wear the better pair of light up earrings.

I miss you Mom. I miss having a Mom. I miss her voice and her laugh. I miss the way she would come down the steps from getting ready for Church (and always running late) smelling of hairspray and Chanel No 5. Her smile and eyes sparkled more than any jewelry could. She was so beautiful.

Alzheimer's is a thief. It has stolen her away from me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Gardener's Cottage-Asheville, NC

Painting by Bee Sieburg

I get asked all the time what are my favorite spots in Asheville. I can say that without a doubt my favorite store in my hometown is the Gardener's Cottage in Biltmore Village. 
I am slightly biased because my mother used to work at this beautiful shop. I even registered here. The owner is a friend and it is my bright happy spot whenever I come in town for a visit. This store is a treasure box of gifts, flowers, plants and love. 

Libby and her sister Laura purchased the shop from owner Bee Sieburg and her daughter Molly Courcelle. You might recognize those two names; they are both exquisite artists and have a studio in the Wedge building. One of these days I am going to commission Bee to paint our Wedding location and commission Molly to paint the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Libby was like a second daughter to my Mom and this shop was catnip for her. My Mom loved arranging flowers, taking care of plants and had a slight addiction to candles and notecards that I have inherited.
My beautiful Mom in the shop many seasons ago.

Libby is graciously donating a portion of her proceeds on this Saturday September 16th to my Walk to End Alzheimer's. Please consider stopping by to pick something up! She has the best gifts, the most gorgeous maidenhair ferns and probably Asheville's biggest collection of stunning moss covered pots. 
Libby also creates the most unique and elegant flower arrangements and can design anything for any occasion!

Here is what Libby wrote about Mom:
Barbara Boylan is a very special person to me.  When my sister and I first took over The Gardener's Cottage in 2004, Barbara was one of the first to join our team and she quickly became like family.  She always had a way of making everything feel like home with her warmth, vibrant enthusiasm and her genuine way of connecting with people.  
All of you who know Barbara and any who even briefly met her at the shop know her ability to make you instantly feel welcome and special.  She worked with us for over 3 years and always showed up each day with a smile...(and usually some kind of baked good!)  Most notably, due to her New Orleans roots, she never forgot to bring in a king cake for Mardi Gras each year...a tradition I carry on to this day but is nowhere near the same! These are the little things that make me smile when I think of Barbara...not to mention her love for all things garden and flower related as well as her talent for making things beautiful. 

Here are some photos that don't even touch on how magical this place is!

34 All Souls Crescent (right beside Starbucks at the Biltmore House entrance)
Monday through Saturday 10-5pm

Charlotte friends if you want to call in an order I can deliver for you! Please consider shopping this wonderful store this Saturday!