Mummer and 94th Birthday

Mummer was very definite about not wanting another birthday.  She wanted to be in her Heavenly Home!  However, her mansion is still under construction and so September 3rd arrived and she was still very much with us.  I have learned not to give Mummer too much information in advance.  Unfortunately, this principle is not consistently practiced.  She was told about the “surprise” party coming and immediately started to obsess and insist that she wanted no part of the whole day!

The guests had been invited and the cake was ordered so the party was on.  The theme was Princess and she was willing to wear the crown & banner.  She just stared at the candles.  Our tradition is 3 candles-past, present and future.  This year, I made the wish -and blew out the candles.  The guests brought lovely flowers which Mummer wanted to share with the other residents.  She got most excited over new socks.  The most unusual thing about the day for me was that Mummer refused all but one bite of her cake and strawberry ice cream!  Dessert has always been her favorite part of any meal.  Now she has lost so much weight and is frail.  In fact she is now wearing tiny size clothing from my closet and I am wearing some of her extra large items!  Guests could tell Mummer’s energy was lagging although she smiled and posed for several photos.

Caregivers put her in her lift chair and she immediately started snoring.  I was concerned about how weak she was and how her speech was slurred.  Because of her anxiety, the Caregivers had given her a sedative.  Since the hospice nurse was in the facility, she stopped in to see Mummer and reassure me.  I had to wake Mummer from her deep sleep to call my brother, Rob in St. Louis.  They brought in chicken and rice but Mom would only eat four bites.  We hardly had any conversation except me telling her how happy I was that we were able to share another birthday.  I promised her I would be back the next day with a piece of my 70th birthday cake.  She smiled and kissed me good-by.  I reminded her, as I try to do each day, “tomorrow is another day.”  I know she is close to going Home but I praise God that He has enabled us to share 70 birthdays



Mummer and Ironing

One of the skills I enjoyed with my maternal grandmother, Alma Fraysher, and my mother was ironing.  I was taught to iron the yoke, then sleeves, back and finally the front of any given item. Ruffles posed an extreme challenge to my limited skills. What I enjoyed most was ironing piles of handkerchiefs, sheets and pillowcases.  Mummer was an especially clever at ironing and would sprinkle the Monday’s laundry -fresh from the outside clothesline -liberally from a Pepsi bottle with a sprinkle top.  She would then roll items and place them in the chest  freezer for ironing at a later time.  She found that the freezing produced smoothier easier results with her ancient iron.  
When I married in 1968 and left St. Louis to live in a log cabin atop Lookout Mountain, GA while my husband completed his senior year at Covenant College,  I suddenly had twice as much ironing.  My husband owned a quantity of Oxford sport shirts.  I dutifully laundered them, sprinkled them and placed them in the small freezer of our refrigerator to iron at a later time.  By December, my husband was wearing sweatshirts and sweaters while 48 of his shirts resided in the freezer.  Fortunately, my parents and siblings came for Christmas.  My father initiated my Brasilian husband in the art of building a proper fire in our huge stone fireplace (Jayme had never lived in a home with a fireplace).  It was amazing what a grate and proper kindling did for his skill at building fires.  Mummer had discovered that there was no room for frozen food in our freezer.  Her gift to me that first Christmas was ironing all 48 of those shirts!  Shortly, thereafter polyester shirts replaced the Oxford ones. High polyester content sheets replaced the cotton, too.  Ironing was not my specialty.
Recently, I tackled a pile of clothes folded far too long to be smoothed out.  As I spent hours ironing, I realized that what I considered boring and tedious was actually an activity that produced peacefulness in my day.  Also it produced some very crisp looking outfits.  I took my iron with me when I went to Mummer’s PCH to exchange winter items for summer in her closet.  She saw the iron and asked to hold it ( I never did  have to iron her items).  She doesn’t have access to many memories in these Sundowner Days.  But the occasion of that long ago mountain Christmas and those 48 shirts,  are fresh in her mind.  We “modern” housewives can learn much from those who came before us.  Sometimes those tasks we feel should be avoided- bring us memories of a simpler time.  Ironing has its’ own rhythm and peacefulness that we miss with all our modern no iron fabrics.  Mummer enjoyed holding the iron although she kept asking me what it was for.  It was wonderful to have Mummer recall that memory that provided us both have a good laugh over frozen clothes!

Speed Dial


My mom (Mummer) has enjoyed many  advances in technology  in her 93 years.  With the recent development of Sundowners Sydrome (December 2015)  and her advanced macular degeneration (hereafter apprevIated as MD) her tiny studio apartment has dwindled to keeping track of  three items: a glass of water, TV remote and cell phone (old flip style and her third in the last two years).


Mayo Clinic defines Sundowners Syndrome as follows: ” A state of confusion at the end of the day and into the night. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors such as confusion, anxiety, aggression, or irgnoring directions. Sundowning can lead to pacing and wandering…the exact cause of this behavior is unknown.”  For Mummer, abnormal anxiety became her  new afternoon companion.  “I don’t know what’s going on.  I am so confused. I don’t understand what is happening” became her repetitive refrain on the phone to me and long distance with siblings in Illinois and Missouri.  She would no longer search her address book to call.  Worse than that, she refused to pick up the phone anytime it rang.  We very all very concerned about this sudden lack of communication with family and her many friends.


In the past, Mummer called me a every night before bed. It was our custom to chat about the day and end each call with my “closer” to her.  It was a line we both remember from Gone with the Wind. Scarlet’s last line  was …”tomorrow is another day!”  She would grudgingly acknowledge that fact while hoping that very night she would be called to Heaven!  We set up her phone so that she could press One and be connected to front desk of her Personal Care home (PCH).  Two would connect her with our home.  Three  would connect her with my sister in Illinois. Unfortunately, there was no Speed Dial option for my brother in St. Louis.  Only one step remained-push the Call button. All of a sudden in the last month Mummer has declared that pushing the Speed Dial is an impossible task!!  Kind visitors from Hospice, as well as a dear teenager who reads to her on Tuesdays and Caregivers from the PCH  have been working with her on this task.  They have done very well with her.  Last Wednesday when I was on my way to visit her-she called our home and my ever patient husband -seven times in a row!  When she didn’t remember her Alert button worn as a necklace, dialing One brought a Caregiver to her room.  My sister counts on Mummer hitting Missed Call to have a visit with her nearly every day. My brother tries to call after supper when she is holding her phone. She calls me sometimes but more often than not our evening call originates from me. It causes me to say extra prayers when she doesn’t answer! Who knew that speed dialing and perseverance of the saints would become important in “gluing us together” in this difficult time?  Thank you, Lord for Mummer and Speed Dial!